Disclaimer: I still do not own Harry Potter.
Author's Note: Hey everyone, I hope you're all doing okay. I know it's been ages since I've last updated, and I'm sincerely sorry for that. Honestly, I've been really stressed about things lately, and therefore haven't felt much motivation to write much. Thankfully, though, my muse is beginning to come back to me, which I'm very happy about. Also, I have started to receive counseling, so I am hoping things will start to get better.
Anyway, I'm glad to be back. I hope you guys enjoy this next chapter. Yes, it's true that Sirius did nothing to give himself away, and in this chapter you'll learn how he was exposed anyway. I love everyone's comments and suggestions, please keep them coming!
Sirius sat dejectedly in a holding cell at the Ministry of Magic, with every scrap of hope he'd ever felt completely obliterated. He had no doubt that it wouldn't be long until a Dementor came and devoured his soul, with no one even giving him a chance to speak his truth, to tell his side of the story.
There wasn't a witch or wizard in existence that didn't fear the Dementor's Kiss, no matter how brave they were said to be. Sirius knew there was such a thing as an afterlife; how could there be ghosts if there was not? But if you were kissed by a Dementor, you simply didn't exist anymore. Even when your body died, your soul didn't go to the afterlife, because the Dementor would have taken it into itself, eliminating you from any kind of reunion with those who had already passed on. Sirius didn't want to die, but even if he was hit with the Avada Kedavra or any other spell that killed him, at least he would have the comfort of knowing he would see Lily and James again even if they hated him for everything he had done. But if his soul was eaten by the Dementor ... no part of Sirius Black would remain, and he would never get to apologize to his best friends for messing up absolutely everything.
Harry. The thought tortured him as he waited to meet his fate. All he'd wanted was to be with Harry, but that chance was now gone. It had been too good to be true, hadn't it? He'd thought as much, and he'd been proved right.
Forever imprinted in his mind was the look of complete and utter horror on his young godson's face as he saw his beloved pet Snuffles transform into the mass murderer he'd come to fear. He hadn't seen anything that had happened after that - he'd promptly been Stunned. How was Harry doing now? What an infinitely stupid question, Sirius told himself angrily. He's had to deal with so much lately, and learning that the one thing that you had been comforted by was something else entirely ... Sirius's heart ached when he thought about just what his pup was going through. Sirius wanted nothing more than to embrace Harry, to let him know that he would never harm a hair on his head, that he would always protect him. But due to horrific circumstances, his chance had been blown.
It just so happened that Auror James Davidson had a talent, one that was exceedingly rare. There were very few witches and wizards that possessed it, but those who could were often told that being an Auror was the best profession for them - they were primed for it. The talent was that they could actually sense magic in the air, and where exactly it was coming from. Animagi gave off a specific type of aura, and Auror Davidson had known it as soon as he'd seen him. He'd been very sneaky about it, letting Sirius masquerade as an ordinary dog until the very last moment, making him think he had gotten away with his disguise. It had been a clever trap for Sirius, who had been completely taken off guard and therefore been captured.
And now, all he could do was wait. Wait to be erased from existence, wait to have his soul sucked out of his body and given to the Dementor forever. He had no doubt that in the future, he would only be remembered as the man who had finally faced the consequences of his vile actions. Just another Black reaping what he sowed, just like the rest of his lunatic family. If there was one less Black, the world was so much better off for it.
But the worst of it was wondering how Harry would remember him. Would the boy always think of the deceit, the betrayal that came when he realized Snuffles wasn't really a dog at all? Would he feel any emotions other than anger and hatred when recalling the times when he had talked to him, been comforted by him, trusted him to guard Harry and his family? Sirius honestly wouldn't blame him if he never remembered any of those times with fondness. Sirius had messed up so royally that he knew he didn't deserve anything else.
He had been hit with an Anti-Transformation Charm before being dumped in the holding cell, the key turning in the lock. The charm would only work for twenty-four hours, but he figured he'd be kissed before the time came to renew it. There was no hope of escape for him, no hope for him to make any amends. It was over, and he knew he had to come to terms with this. Everything that was Sirius Black was about to come to an end.
The more time that passed, the more dread consumed him, and he figured the Aurors were doing it on purpose. It was a method of torture - keep your prisoners waiting for their fate to come, knowing they can't stop it. There was so much about the justice system in the wizarding world that was completely barbaric, and how Aurors and prison guards treated inmates was the most diabolical part about it. Sirius had experienced ten years of it firsthand, in the dark, endlessly awful fortress of Azkaban.
He didn't know how long he sat in the cell, preparing to meet his end when the door finally opened. A strange sense of relief came over him then - he suddenly felt very calm, too calm. It was the kind of feeling you had when you knew that it was over and there was nothing else to do. He had no fight left in him - there was no way out. There was no sense in denying the inevitable anymore.
But after several seconds, Sirius realized that there was no freezing cold feeling coming over him, and he wasn't reliving the worst of his memories - James and Lily's lifeless bodies, his mad laughter as the street was full of death and destruction after Peter had blown it up, the expression Harry wore as Snuffles was forcibly turned back into a human. No, none of that was playing behind Sirius's eyelids, which meant that there were no Dementors here to deliver their final, eternal punishment.
Sirius looked up, not knowing what to expect. What he saw in the doorway gave him another surprise - Auror Susan Harrington, the female Auror who had been on the scene when he was exposed, was standing there, but with her was Albus Dumbledore.
"Sirius, we do not have long," the Hogwarts Headmaster said, getting straight to the point. "The Minister has given me ten minutes, and it was difficult enough getting him to give me that much. Auror Harrington here also did a lot in trying to convince him."
"Why?" Sirius croaked out, looking at Auror Harrington. "Why would you do this?"
"You might be guilty as sin, Black, and I have no doubt of that," the woman hissed at him, failing to keep her expression neutral. "But every human being, no matter how vile they may be, should at least be allowed to explain why they acted so inhumanely. I was much too young to be in the force when you were arrested, but you were never given a trial."
"She feels that was wrong on principle," Dumbledore added in, "and I daresay she is right."
"Ten minutes, Headmaster," Harrington said, giving Sirius one last disgusted look before she exited the cell, obviously not wanting to be in his presence any longer.
After she was gone, Dumbledore sat down on the floor next to Sirius. It was silent for several seconds, and then Sirius finally broke it as he looked into the other man's blue eyes, which were, for once, not twinkling. Everything he felt towards Dumbledore, every drop of resentment he harbored towards him, every bit of disappointment and betrayal he felt for the man who was doing everything he could to disrupt Harry's life, came out of him in one great torrent.
"I may have a lot to answer for," he said, his voice rough with pent-up grief and rage. "But so do you, Dumbledore. I have always had the highest level of respect for you, but you have destroyed every single good feeling I have ever felt for you. And the more I think about it, the more time I have had to reflect on the past ... and believe me, there's been a lot of it," he added sarcastically, glowering at the Headmaster. He knew there was a manic gleam in his eyes, but he truly couldn't bring himself to care. "You waited till now to speak to me? You, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Supreme Mugwump. With all the titles you hold, I would have very much appreciated a visit right after I was chucked into Azkaban. I fought for you, bled for you, believed in your bloody cause. I thought you'd at least want to know why I supposedly betrayed everything I was said to stand for?"
Dumbledore didn't say anything to defend himself. He only looked dejected and sad as he asked, "Why?"
And it was then that Sirius told him everything. He spoke of himself, James, and Peter becoming Animagi to help Remus. He talked of how, when the Potters had gone into hiding, he thought he was being oh-so-clever by switching Secret Keepers without telling anyone. He couldn't help the tears that sprang to his eyes when he spoke of the night of Halloween, 1981, when he'd discovered what had happened, of the tragedy that he had unwillingly caused to come about. He spoke of Hagrid telling him that Harry was being taken to Dumbledore, and he couldn't hide the anger in his tone as he talked of this. He then moved on to reveal his pursuit of Peter, and how the cowardly little rat had tricked him and deceived the entire wizarding world.
He then told Dumbledore of what had motivated him to escape Azkaban, of his finding Harry in Little Whinging and the events that had transpired after that, leading all the way up to today, when he'd been exposed. After he was finished, he couldn't help the tears that streamed down his face as he stared down the man who he had entirely lost his trust in. "There. Now are you satisfied?" he asked harshly, wiping roughly at his eyes. But it was no use - more tears fell, and Sirius lowered his hands, unwilling to care anymore. The emotion had to come out, and there was no use stopping it. It needed to be released, and who better to see it than the man who had let him down so brutally.
Dumbledore looked stricken. "Sirius, I am so sorry," he murmured, reaching out to lay a hand on the man's shoulder.
Sirius wrenched himself away from the Headmaster's touch. "It's too late, Dumbledore," he spat. "It's over now, isn't it? There's nothing you can do now. I will be kissed by a Dementor, every last trace of me gone forever. I think I've finally accepted that," he said, realizing he had spoken the truth. "But know this, you blind old fool," he said, his voice gaining momentum. "What you have done to Harry can never be forgiven. Stop meddling in my godson's life. Harry is happy where he is - the Dursleys, in spite of everything I once knew about them, truly love that boy. I understand their and his reasons for not wanting to go to Hogwarts. And to think, if Harry knew about the prophecy, he'd despise the wizarding world even more! You may need your Golden Child to fulfil that thrice-damned prophecy, but you know what? I don't want him having to go anywhere near that monster if he returns."
"Sirius, neither do I want him going near Voldemort," Dumbledore said gently, but it did nothing to placate Sirius's anger. "But he must fulfil the prophecy. Be reasonable, Sirius. If he does not, Lord Voldemort will kill him. That is a certainty."
Sirius felt his fury rise to new levels. He hated how Dumbledore seemed to be acting so sincere about this - this was the Dumbledore he had always been comforted by in times of strife during the years of the war. But he wouldn't fall for it - Dumbledore had done too much now to ever redeem himself in Sirius's eyes. He also despised how the man was laying bare Sirius's own fear, the terror he had of losing Harry to Voldemort. So he masked it by using his anger instead. "The prophecy is a bunch of bollocks," he snarled, his body shaking with the rage swarming through him. "I thought you had more sense than to believe such rubbish."
"It is the fact that Voldemort believes in it that I am concerned with," Dumbledore said, looking into Sirius's tortured eyes.
"Then prove him wrong! Or is everyone incorrect about your oh-so-amazing powers? Are you really willing to let a damned, bloody child do your dirty work for you?" Sirius jeered. "You go and confront him, and you destroy him! Leave Harry out of this and let him live his life!" His face grew even more enraged as he hissed, "Your plan backfired, didn't it, old man? Were you banking on the fact that the Dursleys would hate Harry? Your blood wards story is a bunch of codswallop, isn't it? Those bloody Polyjuiced bastards were able to get past them just fine, weren't they?"
"Sirius ..." Dumbledore was, no doubt, about to wax poetic about his so-called wards, but he didn't get the chance because right then, the cell door opened and Auror Harrington was back. "Time's up, Headmaster," she said coldly, and it was plain to see that she didn't think much of the man, either. Sirius wondered why - what made her dislike him?
"Sirius," Dumbledore said, standing up. "Thank you for telling me everything. I will do all I can to rectify the situation."
Sirius made eye contact with the Headmaster once again, anger still glinting in his gaze. "Right," he said, everything he was currently feeling injected into that one word.
And then, the cell door clanged shut behind the Headmaster and Auror Harrington, leaving Sirius to wonder what, if anything, was to happen next. Probably nothing good, Sirius thought, both heartache and resignation filling him as he, once again, waited for his fate to catch up with him.