Halloween 1981

Chapter 1

Please don't let it be true. Please… Those were the thoughts coursing through Sirius Black's head as he apparated onto a familiar street in Godric's Hollow. He knew that part of the rumors he had heard were true immediately—Voldemort had come. The cottage that Lily and James had bought shortly after leaving Hogwarts was blasted to pieces, charred wood and chunks of glass littering their lawn. It was as though someone had cracked the house apart, leaving it open for all to peer into the lives of the only remaining Potters. Their home was surrounded by houses that seemed far too festive.

Sirius blinked hard, forcing the tears from his eyes and the ice from his veins. He a small smile creep on to his face. They're safe. The killing curse leaves no mark. They're alive, they're alive, they're alive. The young wizard repeated the words like a mantra, leaving no space for the terror threatening to creep in. He refused to yield even an inch to his fear. They're alive. His subconscious made him draw his wand. His hope pushed him into a run, then to a dead sprint.

They're alive.

He skidded to a stop in front of the familiar gate, one which screamed in protest when he forced it open with reckless abandon. A voice in his head, the voice of reason that he had ignored for years, told him that Voldemort could still be there. That they could be dead. That his friends, his family was gone.

He forced it back until it was nothing but a whisper. Sirius ran through the open door, made himself walk into a world of uncertainty.

They're alive.

He knew it with complete certainty. There was no chance that they were dead. None. He let his wand hang at his side, making his way through his second home—one he knew by heart. One hand on the wall for guidance, he slowed his pace to a walk and moved towards the living room. His hand hit the door frame as he tripped over a fallen piece of plaster, and he steadied himself before continuing on. His grey eyes slowly adjusted to the dark room, but he could see nothing more than vague shapes.

They're alive.

He raised his wand, lighting it with nothing more than a thought. The room came into sudden clarity, and Sirius' smile slipped. "James?" His best friend, his brother, was lying no more than ten feet ahead of him.

He didn't reply.

It was then that every detail hit Sirius like a dagger to his heart, cleaving him in two.

The stark stillness of his chest. His hazel eyes, flecked with gold, open and glassy on the other side of his glasses, staring into oblivion. As though he was staring Death himself in the face and accepting his offer.

Sirius' heart broke. Broke for his friend, whose son he would never get to see grow up. Who would never hear his wife laugh again. Would never smile, or joke, or cast another spell.

His knees buckled, sending him to the floor with a whisper. "No."

The word set off a chain reaction within him, and suddenly he was scrambling across the floor towards James, yelling and sobbing and praying that it was a dream. But he knew it wasn't. Nothing hurt that bad in a dream. Nothing. "NO!" He couldn't be… gone. He couldn't, because James was the brightest light in his life, his brother—separated only by blood. He'd taken him in when he lost everything. He gave him a reason to live when his family disowned him and kicked him out. But most importantly, James had helped Sirius do more than just survive. He helped him live.

Sirius screamed and screamed, if only to fill the deafening silence. He fell on to James, acutely aware that his chest did not rise and fall, that his heart did not beat, that his best friend was dead.

He could do nothing more than yell and cry and stare into James' eyes with the hope that he would sit up and tell him it was all a joke.

He could only watch as his entire world imploded.

But then he heard something. Something that made him sit up, to listen, to hope once more. And as he stood to follow the sound of crying, he left behind a part of himself that he would never get back.

He made his way up the skeleton of the stairs, his knees threatening to buckle as a thought crashed into him with the force of a tidal wave. Lily. Where's Lily. Because while James may have been the brightest light, Lily was without a shadow of a doubt his sister—and the kindest person he'd ever met. She was pure and fiery and relentless and smart. She was an incredible mother. She always wanted to help people. Sirius had watched Lily make James happy. James' happiest days were when Lily said she would go out with him, when she said she would marry him, and when she told him that she was pregnant.

Lily was something akin to a sister to him. He loved her. And as naive as it may have been, he refused to believe that someone so good could be gone. He forced himself to walk up the stairs. Down the hallway. A bright flash of red caught his eye. "Lils?" he asked, childish hope coating his voice. But just like her husband, she did not reply. He turned the corner to the nursery, and any part of him that had remained intact shattered.

Because in front of him lay Lily Evans Potter. Her green eyes seemed to mock the flash of the Killing Curse, for they remained vibrant, even in death. Her blood-red hair lay splayed around her shoulders.

But Sirius refused to crumble. Forced himself to pull together every remaining fragment of himself. Because behind her, in the crib he'd helped James build, lay Harry Potter. His godson. A baby who had somehow survived Voldemort, when both his parents had fallen. That was when he realized.

Pettigrew betrayed them. He revealed their house. It was the only way Voldemort could have gotten in. All of a sudden, sadness and pain gave way to an endless wave of rage. He cast one final look at his godson, at the young boy who had held them all around his little finger. He picked the child up, hugging him as tight as\ he dared—oblivious to the fact that he would not do so again for over a decade. He placed Harry back into his crib and ran from the room, refusing to look at Lily. He fled from the house, running from the corpses of those he loved most. He was nearing the gate when he saw Hagrid. "Are they-" He began, words muffled by tears and a handkerchief.

Sirius nodded, and the part of himself he'd managed to get back blew into a million pieces. "Harry's alive." He's an orphan. "Take the bike. It's in the driveway. Lils loves to use it." He squeezed his eyes shut, his heart clenching. "Loved. She loved to use it."

Sirius didn't realize that the blame would be put on him. Everyone thought he was their secret keeper.

But then he was gone, apparated to wherever he would begin the hunt for the man he'd thought was his friend. Fueled by rage and grief, he went to find what he needed: justice.

When he found Peter Pettigrew, there was going to be hell to pay.