Sirius Black knew what stunning felt like. He had been stunned several times by the likes of Lily Evans, Remus Lupin and even James Potter when he didn’t behave as he should. He knew what it felt like ever since he was 9 years old because sometimes he just didn’t know when to shut up. So when Bellatrix’ spell hit him, he felt that familiar tingle all over his body, soon he’d fall to the marble floors of the Department of Mysteries, he would feel the cold of the marble all over his skin and Harry would continue duelling for him, he was as good as James was, he could handle that git Malfoy himself.
When he lost his balance, he heard familiar voices that didn’t belong to anyone in the room with him, calling his name, telling him to be careful. They sounded like.. James?
Sirius felt his body become weightless as he fell backwards, the last thing he heard was Harry’s piercing scream and Bellatrix’ chanting.
I killed Sirius Black. I killed Sirius Black. I killed Sirius Black.
He was falling like you would fall in your nightmares and wake up suddenly from the pull but this time he didn’t wake up. He kept falling like he threw himself from a tall building, it was like the time stood still but he kept falling. When he finally reached the ground he didn’t crash as he should have but he landed gracefully, which didn’t sound very much like him. Sirius felt hard ground behind his back but it wasn’t cold like the marble would have been. He couldn’t really be dead, could he? Bella liked to exaggerate things and Harry could have screamed about something else. Sirius was almost completely sure Bella hit him with a stunning curse, was he weak enough to die from a stunning curse?
Sirius didn’t dare open his eyes as the reality settled in, he didn’t hear Harry or the others in the room, not Moody’s orders nor Tonks’ rapid duelling, he didn’t hear Remus’ strong curses either. For the first time in his life, or his existence was a better choice of words now, he wanted to hear Bella’s screeching voice.
Sirius felt like he was shot in the head. His eyes flew open as he heard the familiar voice of his little brother. Regulus was extending a hand for Sirius to take but Sirius ignored it and pushed himself up. Second shot, this time through his heart. James Potter was standing right there, in flesh and blood. Was this his heaven? As he was thinking about what was going on, Sirius saw the taller boy running to him as his wife slowly walked behind him.
James looked the same as Sirius had left him on the floor that October night, his hair perfectly messy and glasses still crooked. Lily glowed the way she did before the war, the beauty of her heart somehow always reached the surface. They were as Sirius had left them and they were not real. How could they be? When had Sirius been that lucky?
James threw himself at Sirius and Sirius felt himself melt because the way James hugged him hadn’t changed in all those years either and Sirius could feel the warmth radiating from him. If this was a dream, how did he feel that? James kept mumbling “I’m sorry” quietly as he held Sirius tighter. He had replayed James’ hugs millions of times in his head when he was locked up, they always made him feel safe and of all the things that could have happened to him, he never expected this. When James finally pulled back, Sirius could see the warm honey eyes of his brother looking back at him glistening with the tears he was trying to hold back.
“I’m sorry,” whispered James once more. “I’m so sorry you had to live like that and it’s all because of us.”
Sirius didn’t know what to say, did it even matter if he was a part of his imagination? He then stared at Lily who had his hand on her mouth as she always did when she was about to cry, he could see her chin trembling as she tried to keep it in.
“You should see this,” she murmured and pulled Sirius by the hand and now Sirius was looking at Harry who was running after an ecstatic Bellatrix for revenge leaving Remus behind. “I don’t know how he will heal after this.”
“He will Lils, he has so much of you in him.”
Sirius had no idea what was going on, if this was real or not but seeing Harry like that was the second most hardest thing he had to endure. He was so broken, almost as broken as his Moony was, Sirius could feel it from wherever he was. He could hear the way is heart shattered into sand sized pieces but he knew, he knew Harry would get better. He knew his godson. In the two short years he got to share with him, he had seen him grow more and more like James with a heart of gold and he was sure, Harry was strong enough to get over him, too.
Sirius finally looked away from his godson, seeing that Dumbledore was there and he would be alright, he fixed his gaze on James who was standing right next to him.
“Are you real?” asked Sirius, he couldn’t help but touch James’ face and shoulders and all of them a proof that his brother was standing right in front of him after all these years.
It was Sirius’ time to hold on tight, it could be a lie but he didn’t care, he might be dead but he didn’t give a shit because he had his Prongs back. As stupid as it may sound, Sirius didn’t feel like he was dead, he even felt alive because he had already died on 31st of October fifteen years ago when he had seen James lying on the floor life drained from his eyes.
“I tried so hard to take him, Lils,” said Sirius as he was staring at Lily Evans’ green eyes and smiling at the thought of how they were the exact same of the boy downstairs. “I never wanted him to be taken to Petunia’s and I’m so–”
Lily hugged Sirius so genuinely, Sirius knew it was her way of telling him that it wasn’t his fault.
“We should be the ones apologising to you,” said Lily in between her hiccups.
“For what exactly?” challenged Sirius because he really couldn’t see any reason for them to be sorry for. It was all his fault.
“You had to live in Azkaban for twelve years because of us Pads, you lived with those creatures and I watched you, how you lost your senses and your soul–” James began but Sirius raised his hand to shut him up.
“What are you on about?” asked Sirius angrily. “I am the reason you two are– are- are here.” He wouldn’t say the other word, it had been almost fifteen years and Sirius never used that word when it came to James.
“But you were-”
“Nothing makes up for the fact that I was a coward for backing out of being the Secret Keeper,” confessed Sirius as he took a deep breath, he had never said that out loud before. He was a coward and he got his brother and his wife killed because he couldn’t just step up for once. “It should have been me and I should have died for you after all the things you had done for me.”
“I didn’t do those things for you to die for me Pads, I did them because you deserved them. Just like you deserved a happy life, with or without us,” argued James as he pushed his glasses up to rub his eyes softly. James Potter didn’t like crying, Sirius remembered clearly.
“We can play the blame game forever Jamie, just for once in your life, let me take the fall for you because this time, I need to,” begged Sirius. “Also we forget who the real culprit is because we are like that, we never let another take the fall.”
James smiled warmly at him and Sirius tipped his head to the right to look at Regulus who was now hiding behind Lily, there was no point in avoiding him anymore.
“And may I ask what the hell you are doing here, Reggie?” demanded Sirius angrily. Regulus didn’t belong where James and Lily were, he didn’t deserve to be in the same place as them.
All three of them went silent, Lily and James were most possibly communicating telepathically and Regulus was just staring at his pale hands.
“He died so maybe someday someone might defeat Voldemort,” said Lily quietly and Sirius felt his world come crashing down around him, Lily wouldn’t have lied to make him better but how was that possible? The last time he checked Regulus was a Death Eater. He walked straight to Regulus to look into the identical grey eyes as his, it was almost like looking in a mirror.
“You did what?”
“I never planned it to be a suicide mission Siri but it was. He had-– I still can’t say his fucking name.” Regulus steadied his breathing and picked up from where he left off. “Voldemort had tortured Kreacher and left him to die. I just– I couldn’t find you anywhere so I took the matter in my own hands and ended up here.”
Sirius just gaped at his little brother. The boy he had blamed for being a pawn to his mother had died because of the small possibility that someday someone might defeat Voldemort and Sirius just assumed he died miserably.
“I am so proud of you, Reggie.”
Sirius saw the smile on Regulus’ face widen as he smiled back at him but he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“I am sorry because I wasn’t there for you and because I didn’t protect you from them,” apologised Sirius. “I wasn’t a good brother to you because I was busy being a good brother to Jamie. It never occurred to me that I could do both and I am sorry for that.”
“You were what kept me here Siri, you were the reason I never moved on because I wanted you to know that I didn’t disappoint you,” babbled Regulus as he played with the loose strings of his clothes. “I did that to make you proud and to make up for all the things I did.”
“You are not leaving, are you?”
“No, I won’t leave before I see that man defeated,” replied Regulus with disgust in his voice.
Sirius pulled his brother in to bone crushing hug like he did when they were around 10 years old Walburga was having a particularly cruel day, Sirius hadn’t hugged Regulus like that since he was 12 and Merlin, it felt good.
Sirius could hear the panic in Lily’s voice, not a lot of people knew that but Sirius knew Lily like the back of his hand, okay maybe his left hand but he did nevertheless. Sirius walked with James and Regulus to where Lily was standing rigidly and he saw Harry was now in the Headmaster’s room. Sirius and James had spent considerable time in that place.
Sirius looked down at his godson, he was wreaking havoc in Dumbledore’s room and yelling at the Headmaster with so much anger that Sirius felt like Harry got his temper from him, Sirius had never been subtle about showing his anger however this was different. Harry was yelling because of him and how he had had enough because apparently Sirius’ absence was the last drop for him and Sirius felt his heart drop to his stomach, he still had his heart after all, albeit not beating.
“Can I, um, see Moony from here?”
One question was all it took and before others could reply, Sirius could see Remus, Merlin knows where, with a good supply of Firewhiskey by his side as he stared into oblivion. Sirius slowly realised he was in the room where he kept Buckbeak, why would he shut himself up in that miserable place? Remus was rocking back and forth, Sirius hadn’t seen him do that since he was thirteen, he did that when he couldn’t handle everything going on around him.
He’s gone, he’s gone again. He’s gone.
It felt like all Sirius did was disappoint. The black sheep of the family, the coward that got James and Lily killed, the useless brother and constantly absent lover. Sirius hadn’t realised up until now that being with James meant that he would be without Remus. He had disappointed the man who loved him yet again, he never could do right by Remus and he had left him alone, again.