Dark Night
by Your Cruise Director

No one ever really slept in Azkaban. Slumber left the mind far too open, allowing buried emotions to rise to the surface, leaving the sleepers at the mercy of those who would steal their dreams. A self-taught Occlumens, Sirius learned to protect himself -- and didn't he wish he had paid more attention in Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, as Snivellus had! To shield his sanity, he spent most of his time as a dog, rendering his thoughts more clouded and his feelings more basic. Surrounded by dementors, he did not dare to relive happy memories. In his reverie, Remus and James would swirl into one another, the tousled golden boy and the one with the dark secret.

Bright and brilliant as the golden snitch that he captivated into submission...that was James, whom Sirius had always wanted. Yet when Remus came to him with the bright desperate eyes and harsh clutching paws of a wolf, he could not resist the desire to grapple with that force, to try to tame it. So James became his best friend and Remus his lover, and if either of them suspected his hidden longing to reverse those roles, neither one challenged him. Only Peter ever guessed the truth aloud, but Peter was so afraid of Sirius that he never dared confront the others with it.

Sometimes Sirius missed Remus, but sometimes he hated him. James would never have believed him capable of the crime of which he'd been convicted; James would have fought for him, done anything to set Sirius free, whereas Remus did nothing. Not even after Sirius had risked his own life -- and the life of his best friend -- so they could become Animagi for Remus, to keep him company during lonely hours, trapped in a body not his own. It didn't matter that being an Animagus saved Sirius in Azkaban, nor that the happiest memories of his life were as a dog running at the heels of a great stag. Remus had left Sirius to rot in Azkaban, blaming him for killing the one person Sirius loved more than Remus himself, and it hurt even more than the death of James.

Anger ate at Sirius, cold and deadly as the touch of the dementors. Yet the anger kept him alive and safe. He could not afford forgiveness. If he ever managed to escape, or if the truth about Peter's "death" finally surfaced and set him free, he wondered whether he could learn to live again free of the bitterness and misery that sustained him in Azkaban. Once he committed the murder of which he had already been convicted, could he make the others understand the more important truth -- that he had loved James, had always loved James, would not have betrayed James even to have had James for his own? And didn't he wonder, sometimes, in the darkness, whether Voldemort had ever had the power to grant that wish?

Perhaps one day, thought Sirius, if Remus could forgive him for having harbored such a notion, then he too could forgive Remus for believing in his guilt. But hope could be fatal in proximity to dementors, so Sirius pushed such fancies away. If the brief happiness he had known at Hogwarts and afterward would never return -- if the end of his life would be like the beginning, trapped with his mother's bile and the loathsome legacy of the Black family tree -- then Remus was better off without him.

It was no wonder the werewolf saw a kindred spirit reflected in the shadows around Sirius Black. He was never like James, who had flown an enchanted broomstick and lived a charmed life until the darkest of fates took it away. Sirius had never known love free from fear...not even before the dementors, when he gave his passion to a werewolf and hid it from his best friend. In Azkaban that hidden despair might have saved his life. But when he thought of his godson -- the son of James -- he knew that he would never be free of the dangers of hope.

Only terror that his attachment would endanger the child as it had the father enabled him to keep the feeling secret from his guards. When his dreams spun away from him, Sirius would envision being free to know Harry Potter, to watch him grow, to teach and shelter and care for him, to forge a link through the boy back to James and thus create a family with him. Waking in his cell, drenched with icy sweat, Sirius would struggle to feel no elation. He conjured his rage against Voldemort, against Peter, against his cousins Bellatrix and Narcissa, and when that was not enough he told himself that he had never cared for Remus, that he blamed Remus for befriending Peter and taking him away from James. The lie bought, if not safety, a kind of icy, numbing peace.

Even after he was free, the truth revealed to those who mattered -- free to speak to Harry, if not to take him into his home, for Sirius was still a refugee -- he lay awake in his mother's house at Grimmauld Place, vigilant against dreams both awful and blissful. Though he could see Remus, hold him, forgive him, the anger falling away, he still never dared to imagine a future with him. Like James, Remus belonged to the past...to golden afternoons and nights lit by the full moon, before Death Eaters and death touched them all.

The war would come. The Dark Lord would bring dark hatreds among them once more. If Azkaban had robbed Sirius of the joy of dreams, it had only confirmed the price of hope which he had always known.


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