Title: Blood and Water – Costs
Character(s): Sirius Black
Prompt: above the thunder
Rating: All Ages
Word Count: 1334
Summary: There would be a time to be brave, to show his family what he thought. Until that time, though, he would just have to get some sleep and calculate the cost of that time.
A/N: sadly, the characters are not mine; this is my first foray into HP fanfics; please be kind; feedback is always welcome!
On a humid August night, Sirius Black tossed and turned as he tried to get to sleep. It was hot and sticky and the rain outside meant that if he opened the window, his mother would berate him. Regulus will get a cold, she would complain. The boy in the bed across from him had always been so weak. So easy to catch cold. So coddled. So quiet and obedient. Regulus was everything Sirius was not. That was why their mother favored Regulus, her well-behaved son, over Sirius, the rebel she only kept around because he was her son. He knew that she’d be glad when he went off to Hogwarts in a few weeks.
Sirius was getting tired. He yawned, and he rolled over onto his side. As he dozed off to sleep, he dreamed, and in his dream, he relived something that was more terrifying than anything he could imagine.
Sirius knelt silently at the top of the staircase at 12 Grimmauld Place. His cousins and his aunt and his mother had told Sirius and Regulus to go back to their rooms while they went to go “discuss private matters,” and the men went to smoke cigars. Sirius did not fit into either category. He was a boy, and a rather sneaky one, if he did say so himself; so, while Regulus sulked in his room, disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to cling to mother, Sirius listened and peered down from his perch atop the staircase.
Sirius could easily make out his mother’s voice. He decided that her shriek was worse than a banshee’s. Come to think of it, she was more like a banshee than a mother anyway. His mother was a force to be reckoned with, horrifying, wicked, and unpleasant on the whole. He resented her, but, for now at least, she was his mother whether he wanted her to be or not. Now, as he strained to listen, she was having another one of her fits.
“How dare you speak that filthy name in this house!” his mother huffed.
There was no reply.
“Why?” squeaked Sirius’ cousin Narcissa, the youngest of her sisters, who sounded as if she was barely holding herself together.
Again, not a word.
“I spend all this time raising you, and this is how you repay me?” his aunt Druella snapped.
This time, a small but steady voice answered, “But I love him, and surely as I do, I will marry him.” He knew that voice, the last voice, as his cousin Andromeda. Her words were tinged with frustration and passion. Sirius turned around to get a better hold on the situation. Yes, Andromeda. He knew that she was not from the same mold as her sisters, who were shining examples of what his parents wanted him and Regulus to be — what Sirius would never be. His cousin Bellatrix, the eldest, along with Narcissa, was rather proud of being pureblooded. They were uncompromising in the way they took advantage of being a Black. Andromeda had confided in Sirius that she did not appreciate all this blood-mania, and that made her Sirius’ favorite cousin by far.
Sirius cringed as Bellatrix, who somehow reminded him of a grotesque bird, raised her voice. “I hope you know what this means. If you really do love that filthy mudblood, are you honestly willing to give up all that being a Black means?”
Sirius recited uner his breath what it meant to be a member of the family Black. The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, in fact. The family motto: “Toujours Pur.” The family crest: “sable, a chevron between two mullets in chief and a sword in base, argent.” These he knew by heart. He also knew every part of the tapestry that hung in his family home. He knew the legacy of each name that was embroidered onto the tree. That much was expected. He also knew of forbidden things, things of which he should not speak. Isla, Phineas, Marius, Cedrella. They had come before him, they had disgraced the family name, and their names were not preserved forever on the aging fabric.
He turned again to view the goings-on downstairs. His mother had knocked over an urn, and Bellatrix was muttering something foul. Narcissa stood sobbing into her hands, her repeated and muffled cries of “no” falling on deaf ears. Aunt Druella moved toward the door, and his mother picked up her wand. The air was thick with silent electricity.
“If you insist upon dishonoring the House of Black, we have no choice but to give you leave,” Aunt Druella intoned with deathly seriousness. “You are no longer my daughter.”
“May you be cursed for the remainder of your days,” hissed his mother.
“You are dead to us,” screeched Bellatrix. That was what she reminded him of, mused Sirius. A vulture. Heartless and flesh-eating, someone who believed that nothing was sacred other than pure blood, a being that relishes in the dead.
Andromeda walked toward the door that her own mother held open and into the rain that fell outside. Sirius could see the water splash down around her as she walked into the unforgiving world, no longer a member of much of anything.
Aunt Druella shut the door and Sirius’ mother walked solemnly toward the tapestry. Sirius’ breath hitched, and he pressed himself up against the banister so as not to be seen. He heard a loud crackle, and the acrid smell of smoke wafted upward. This was a new experience for Sirius. A cruel experience.
The women of the household, now two mothers and two daughters, walked out of the room. Sirius crept downstairs to figure out what had happened. His eyes fell immediately upon the tapestry. The space in which her name had been stitched glowed slightly of magical heat. The void was still warm to the touch. He could now add another name to the list of the forbidden. The new name came not from a story buried in the past of the family Black. This name and this story were much more real, and she would never be dead to him. Not really.
As Sirius trod up the stairs to his bedroom, he cried. Slow, sad tears that were too warm for the coldness he felt. She had broken a rule. One rule. A silly rule, even, and now he could never speak to her again. The finality and sound of the door to the house closing on someone dear to him was louder than the storm that raged outside his window. Regulus would never understand this. Nobody would. It was not the first time that Sirius had loathed the name of Black, nor, he knew, would it be the last.
Sirius woke up angry. Bloody pissed, in fact. His mother would cringe and smack him if he used such language. He didn’t care. He got up, and if anyone saw him, his alibi was that he was going to the bathroom. The downstairs bathroom. He walked down the long flight of stairs and stared at the tapestry that haunted his dreams. That horrible reminder of his past and his present. His future, too, he sighed.
He wanted to punch right through the ruddy wall that was behind the stupid molding reminder of everything he hated. He hated them because they were weak. They were cowards, hiding behind this blasted and ridiculous idea that pure blood made them better than everyone else. He wanted to scream, but it would wake everyone up. His mother would be angry. She was always upset with him, it seemed. She was particularly upset with Andromeda that night. That night that Andromeda was brave. Sirius stood there in silence. What he wanted, he thought, was to be that brave. He growled softly. There would be a time to be brave, to show his family what he thought. Until that time, though, he would just have to get some sleep and calculate the cost of that time.