Sirius is dead for approximately thirty-seven seconds.
He’s just escaped Azkaban. He’s told Harry the truth. He’s watched Remus transform for the first time in twelve years and did his best to help.
It didn’t work.
He doesn’t even know why there are dementors at Hogwarts. Probably his fault. Damn.
There are rocks under him. There’s a lake. Harry is there. A dark cloak floating over him, that horrible open-mouthed, rasping sound that he’s all too familiar with.
And then it gets dark. Cold.
He’s standing, now. In what feels like a corridor. It’s dark but not quiet. There’s something faint. A voice. Familiar, too. Kind of like home. Distant.
He blinks or at least he feels like he’s blinking and a shape blurs together a few feet away from him, backed by a soft light that should feel welcoming, but….it doesn’t. And that voice is yelling at him, now.
The first thing he recognizes are the glasses. Like saucers, huge and round and slightly off kilter. And then there’s the hair. It’s still sticking up at odd ends. Nothing’s changed.
He’s thought about it a million times. Wondered what it’d be like when he finally died, if James would come and get him. Greet him. Smack him upside the head and throw an arm around his shoulder with a laugh. Anything but yell at him, which is what he’s currently doing. Screaming, more like.
Sirius feels like he’s drunk. Everything is blurred, James’ words sound sloshed in his mind, but he can make out phrases. Names. Harry, Remus.
Something about having gotten this far, already. A bit more about how he needs to stay where he is. Protecting, that’s what he’s good at. Not this. Not yet. Not like this.
And then, clear as day, he swears he hears James Potter yell at him to run.
He nods. He’s confused, he’s out of sorts. But he nods. And he turns away from his best friend.
And he runs.
It’s dark. It’s cold.
The corridor seems to be getting thinner. Stifling. Like it’s sucking the air right out of him. Or back into him?
One way or another, he finds himself taking a huge gulp of air, his eyes bursting open. It’s dark, it’s cold. But in a different way. A better way, he thinks. Thinks, but he isn’t sure.
He tries to move, slowly. Feels those rocks again. Hears something fall next to him and faintly recognizes that it’s Harry. Knows that he’s alright, wants to make sure, but he’s too tired to look over and check.
He feels his eyes closing again but it’s not cold anymore. Not in the same way.
There are rocks under him. There’s a lake. Harry is there.
He’s alive. But he’s not done running. Not just yet.