Disclaimer: Don't own and never will.
Team: Tutshill Tornadoes
Position: Chaser 2: Write about someone overcoming an obstacle.
Prompts: (dialogue) "You've never been one to give up when the going gets tough, so don't start now.", (object) cauldron and (word) idyllic.
It looked like an idyllic place to be. At least on the surface. The sun was shining, the water looked warm and inviting and the fields beyond were flush with life. The kind of place a thousand poets would wax lyrically about. On the rocky shore on the other side was a giant cauldron, one that was at least ten times the size of a normal cauldron.
Which, Sirius mused to himself, proved that nature had a sense of humour. (Or God, but Sirius was not the religious type. It felt too much like pureblood society and their own ridiculous rituals.) He shivered slightly in the cold. Even here, he could feel the cold bite of the wind as it blew past. (Apparently being forced to read wizarding poetry from a young age had, in fact, managed to stick. He had a feeling that his mother was laughing at that from somewhere deep in bowels of Hell. The existence of gods might be a fuzzy subject for him, but he was pretty sure about Hell.)
"What do you think James? Think I can take it?" he asked no one in particular as he looked at the water. Nobody replied, but Sirius wasn't expecting one. He just wanted to break the silence that surrounded him. He let out a laugh.
"This," He gestured to the scenery in front of them. "This, Remus mate, is why you don't trust looks. This place looks idyllic right now. The sun is shining, not a cloud in the sky and the water actually looks inviting. It doesn't look anything like it normally does, with the wind howling and rain pounding against the walls and waves large enough to swallow Hogwarts whole."
Silence greeted this statement, with only the gentle sound of water lapping against the shore to answer him.
He shivered once more. Merlin, this place was cold. It was probably part of the reason that they built it here. Cold, isolated, miles from any kind of civilisation. Perfect place for a prison really.
He idly wondered to himself if they had noticed his escape yet. Probably. Gritting his teeth, he transformed into a dog and began to swim, keeping his eyes on the giant cauldron. If he kept the giant cauldron in the centre of his vision, he would remain on course.
The water was, as he expected, cold enough to freeze a warming charm. (He could hear Remus in the back of his head gently chiding him for exaggerating, but he was the one swimming in this water, he would decide how cold it was!) A gentle current was busy doing it's upmost to drag him off course, but he kept the cauldron in the centre of his vision and kept moving.
Further and further he swam, the cold threatening to make his limbs numb and the current fighting him every step of the way. The water was still outwardly calm at least, but he could feel the currents gaining strength.
The scene was still, on the surface, idyllic. But under the surface, he could feel the turbulent, troubled nature of the sea below the surface. A lot like the Black family really. Outwardly, the Noble House of Black looked every inch the good little pureblood family. They never saw mother screaming at her oldest son or the cold indifference of father. (He had once considered the idea that his father had been replaced by a charmed block of ice. Then he realised that a block of ice would have been better. Blocks of ice didn't give you disapproving looks so cold that they could freeze the Sun.)
He could feel his muscles beginning to tire and the cauldron was still distant. It would be so easy to give up now. Just let the water take him and drown. Harry wasn't going to want to see him. He wasn't even likely to get close enough to warn him, much less save him from Peter. Nobody would care if he died. Remus thought that he had betrayed James and Lily. Peter was a traitor. His old teachers would care even less.
He would get to see James and Lily and all the friends that he'd lost during the war again. So many friends dead and gone.
"Really?" James said to him. It sounded like he was far away and Sirius knew that James wasn't really there, but it was nice to hear his voice again. "Really mate? Don't be so stupid. You've never given up when the going gets tough, so don't start now. You might have been wrong about Peter, but so was I."
"Someone has to stop Peter. When Voldemort finally returns, and you know that he will, Harry won't stand a chance!" Lily said to him in an urgent tone of voice. It had been so long since he had heard her voice. Too long really. "So don't you dare give up now!"
"Easy for you to say," Sirius muttered back in his head. "You're not the one in this blooming cold water, with the tide working against you." (He was tempted to say something stronger, but swearing in front of Lily felt wrong. Even Lily in his head.)
Still, James was right. Black's didn't quit when the going got tough. Not even disowned Black's who hated their family. He was the only one who knew the truth. Well the only one who wasn't Peter.
The cauldron seemed to bob in and out of existence as the waves began to pick up. The surface of the water was beginning to look a lot les idyllic and more like the usual storm tossed sea that he was used to seeing. He needed to move faster, reach the cauldron sooner and get out of the water or even Black resilience would not be enough.
"You are a Black!" his father said in a cold, commanding voice. "A pureblood of the highest standing. The last of our family line. You do not have permission to quit!"
Sirius resisted the urge to laugh. Even in his head, he couldn't get away from his father.
"Don't Narcissa and Bellatrix count? They married into good pureblood families, just like you wanted father. Good little Black girls who did what you wanted them to do?" he asked sarcastically in his head. He could almost see the look of disapproval on his father's face. "I know Bellatrix can't have children, but Narcissa popped out a son."
"They don't bear the family name," his father said back in a slightly sniffy tone. "If only your brother were still alive, then I would drown you where you are right now."
"Poor little Regulus," Sirius said in an almost fond tone. (Almost being the operative word.) "Get out of my head, you old fossil!"
"You told him mate," James said with, what Sirius imagined, was a massive grin. "Yeah, your family was positively idyllic compared to mine. The Blacks put the fun in dis-fun-tional." He paused. Hang on, Where's that cauldron gone? Oh f-"
"It's right there," he heard Lily tell him as the cauldron came into view once more. It was a lot bigger this time. Not that much swimming left to do. By now he could see just how big the cauldron was.
"How in Merlin's name did I lose that?" he asked and Remus raised an eyebrow and looked at him. (Well, imaginary Remus. He couldn't let himself think that they were real. That was an even bigger cauldron of worms than the one in front of him.)
"You know that I can't answer you from here?" he said almost nonchantly. "Maybe you should look it up when you reach the shore."
"I think that I have more important things to worry about," Sirius replied with a touch of sarcasm. Remus gave him a look. If he had glasses, he would probably be looking over them. Sirius resisted the urge to shake himself. He was already talking to his friends (and even family, which was even weirder.) in his head. He really didn't need to add details that didn't exist to them. That would be weird and crazy.
"Right, because talking to people who aren't there isn't crazy?" he heard James ask with amusement.
"Hey you're the one in my head. Why are you calling me crazy? Bet you're somewhere nice and warm and more idyllic than this place," Sirius grumbled good naturedly. "Somewhere nice and warm and you don't have to worry about getting sunburn or freezing to death."
He resisted the urge to chuckle. The tide was working with him now, pushing him towards the shore. At least if he drowned now, he'd make it to the other side. He resisted the urge to laugh. He HAD said that he wanted to reach the other side. He hadn't specified in what condition though.
"Typical Black," he could hear Snape sneer and Sirius resisted the urge to roll his eyes. It was bad enough having his father show up, but now him as well? He really needed to get his head straight. "You always liked looking like you were some kind of good guy. All show and nothing else. Lily used to say that you never gave up when the going got tough. It makes sense that it was just for show."
"Shut up Snape," Sirius snapped back. "I'm a Black. I've never quit when the going gets tough and I'm not about to start now."
"Prove it," Snape said contemptuously. "You were always brave and strong when you were four on one. But on your own? I think that you'd fail. Just like what you're thinking of doing now."
Snape snorted and said nothing as he faded away.
"Now you know that you've got to get there mate. You don't want Snivellus to be right, do you?" James asked. "He'd never let you forget it if you died here."
"Do you really think that I would do that?" Sirius asked plaintively as he staggered ashore, his transformation slipping away and he laid face down in front of the giant cauldron that had been his landmark. "Merlin, that was hard."
"Tide is still coming in," Remus pointed out. "You need to get a move on, or you'll drown here."
"Thanks for the cheerful outlook Moony. I never would have guessed," Sirius said, before chuckling to himself. "Just let me rest...just a tinsy, tiny bit-"
"You need to move now," James said in a commanding voice. "Come on mate. MOVE or you'll never move again. You've never quit when the going gets tough before, so don't start now."
"The end is in sight. You're almost there. Just keep on going that little bit more!" Lily said.
"You lot are the worst bunch of naggers that I've ever met," Sirius grumbled as he dragged himself to his feet and began to stumble his way up the beach.
"We just don't want your useless corpse ruining this idyllic beach," Snape said coldly. Sirius laughed. Or rather, he would have done if he had the energy.
"Snivellus, if this is your idea of idyllic, then you're off your nut," Sirius said as the sea slowly became more and more aggressive. Waves were crashing against the rocks where he had started and the waves were rolling up the beach with greater and greater vigour. Reaching an empty fiend of grass, beyond the reach of the sea, Sirius collapsed.
"Hey Moony?" he asked as he slowly lost consciousness. "Why do I keep on using the word idyllic?"
"Well Padfoot, the answer is-"
Sirius lost consciousness before Remus finished.
Twelve hours later, he was on his way once more.