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Batch 25: Marauder Generation (3) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Batch 25: Marauder Generation (3)
something with Sirius and mcGonagall? post hogwarts years? for Kathya Jackson
This refers several times to an old story of mine, A Drift of Azaleas. The Regulus information obviously got jossed and I got a bit of portrait lore wrong (he should have been tipped off immediately that his mother was dead when the portrait started shouting), but a lot of it still works relatively well.
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Sirius finally managed to pull the curtains shut on Mum's portrait. He stuck his tongue out at it, then opened the kitchen door and went downstairs. McGonagall was making tea, looking utterly unperturbed at having been called a half-blood harlot and a corrupter of youth.

"You take your tea sweet, as I recall?" she asked.

"I haven't really been picky about it," Sirius said. He looked over his shoulder. "Sorry about Mum."

McGonagall sniffed. "Hmph. I've heard worse from Walburga over the years. The portrait seems to have lost something of her creative touch."

"Still, you shouldn't have to listen to that."

"Nor should you, but we both do." She Levitated a pair of teacups to the table, and indicated that Sirius should sit down. Once he had done so, she said, "Whatever her faults, she was your mother. Are you quite all right, Mr. Black?"

"Fine. Sure."

McGonagall looked at him shrewdly, and he had a horrible desire to confess--to tell her everything. How he'd sneaked in here after escaping, in order to steal a Gringotts key. How he'd found Mum in the parlor, or what was left of her, piled round with rotting azalea petals that Kreacher carried in. How she'd been nothing but bones held together by her heavy formal robes, seated in a large ornate chair like a throne. How the knife had rested across her knees.

But he had told no one those things, not even Dumbledore. As far as the Order knew, he'd just found her--poor, pitiful old woman, dying alone in a house no one could enter. He imagined they thought she had died in her bed, like any normal pitiful, mad old woman. They didn't know that he'd buried her in the courtyard, or that the smell that sometimes came from the parlor carpet wasn't just the reek of an abandoned house, and that no amount of magical scrubbing seemed to get rid of it. He doubted she had been the only death at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place--old houses carried deaths in every room, and there was no sense worrying about it--but he couldn't seem to shake that first sight of her, smiling under her empty eyesockets as he came home to her at last.

McGonagall raised her eyebrow. "You are most certainly not 'fine.' You needn't tell me the details, but don't insult me by lying."

He forced a smile. "You always could tell, couldn't you?"

"Well, not always," she said. "But frequently enough."

Sirius turned his cup. "May I ask you something, Professor?"

"Only if you learn to call me Minerva. It took Remus a few months, but he did manage it."

"All right... Minerva, then." Sirius took a deep breath. "Why didn't Phineas's portrait tell anyone at Hogwarts that Mum had passed away? Or did he, and it was just that no one could get in without her to let them in?"

"That's been on your mind, has it?" She shook her head. "I don't know if we could have got in or not. Had Albus asked him directly, I imagine he would have been duty-bound to give the information, but I'm not sure. I don't know what binds him from this house. He can't share the Headmasters' secrets. It's quite possible that he also can't share the secrets of the House of Black. And we both know there are any number of those."

"Did they, er, ever..." Sirius wrinkled his nose, and said, "Enough of that."

"Did they ever find out what killed your father?" McGonagall guessed.

"I just remember that they didn't know. I never heard the Death Eaters bragging. Did we--? I mean, not that it wouldn't have been justified."

"Sirius, he was your father, and you are allowed to grieve him," McGonagall said sharply. "The same is true for Bugga, though I imagine your feelings are rather more mixed there."

"I wasn't grieving."

"Perhaps you should." She eyed him sharply for a moment, and he had a mad thought that she meant to assign him an essay, several feet long, on the proper manner of grieving for one's evil parents. Instead she just shook her head. "No one ever found out for sure. I can tell you that there was no Order action. I think it was just losing both of you--at least as he understood it--and watching your mother's madness grow. It was too much for him."

"Yeah--I'd guess losing Reg would do that. I doubt he cared much where I was."

McGonagall was quiet for a moment, then said, "Sirius, whatever you may or may not believe, I believe your parents loved you. They just... weren't terribly good at it."

"Right."

"And I believe you loved them as well. They couldn't have hurt you as much as they did if you didn't."

"Not that it made any difference," Sirius muttered.

"I think it made a great difference. Because neither you nor Regulus was ever a monster, no matter what path Regulus chose to walk. You both understood love, and that saved you from a lot of the poison in the air here. And you wouldn't have understood it without one another, and them." Sirius didn't answer this, and McGonagall gave him an arch smile. "I assure you, I am not saying this out of any latent fondness for Walburga. Unlike you, I have no love for her at all. But I was on the receiving end of a great many of her insanities, and they boiled down to protecting her boys from what she--absurdly and wickedly--thought was threatening you."

Sirius drank his tea in silence. "Minerva?"

"What?"

"Do you think I killed her? I don't mean--obviously, I didn't kill her, per se. But do you think...?"

"No, and I want you to let go of that idea immediately. I think Walburga made herself so brittle that she broke under the pressure. Neither you nor Regulus is to blame for that. It was just the way she was put together."

But Sirius thought of her there, among the azaleas, and wondered.



Maybe something with Sirius and Andromeda in school, right around when she and Tonks decide to elope and he decides to help her? for Leah
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"Are you here to chaperone me?" Andromeda asked, looking at her younger cousin, Sirius. He was tall for a first year, and Andromeda suspected that more than one first year girl had decorated his initials on a hidden sheet of parchment, but to her, he still looked like the rambunctious child she'd always been asked to watch at family events.

Sirius shrugged and produced a letter. "Word from on high. I have to do my familial duty."

"Well, I'm afraid you're going to be forced to watch me study--with a Muggle-born--for a Potions N.E.W.T."

"Is this the Mudblood everyone thinks you're doing things you oughtn't with?"

"Muggle-born," Andromeda corrected testily. (Unlike the rest of the family, Sirius had no rancor for Muggle-borns, at least not that Andromeda had noticed, but he'd picked up the language well enough.) "And yes. And for what it's worth, they're quite right. Except about the 'oughtn't' part. We're fully old enough to do any of the things we have chosen to do."

"Narcissa says you kiss him."

"Quite frequently, yes."

"Bella said there was more. What else is there?"

"Dancing," Andromeda said. "We dance quite a lot."

"Oh." Sirius looked disappointed. "I thought it might be... the other thing."

Andromeda rolled her eyes. "Hogwarts ghosts are too nosy, and it's always raining outside."

"Oh."

The door to the empty classroom opened, and Ted Tonks sneaked in, looking carefully over his shoulder. "Got away clean," he said, and promptly tripped over two loose chairs. He smiled sheepishly. "Though I see you didn't."

"Ted, have you met my cousin Sirius?"

"Not yet," he said. "Heard a bit about him from little Lily Evans--she's been making friends with some of the rest of us, you know..."

"Oh, don't listen to Evans!" Sirius said. "She hates us."

"Well, perhaps if you'd stop tormenting that little boy she's friends with from home..."

Sirius wrinkled his nose. "He put a hex on Peter Pettigrew that made him give wrong answers--stupid wrong answers--on every question on Flitwick's test. We had to pay him back. You can't let a person get away with something like that."

Ted rolled his eyes. "And I suppose that such a hex couldn't have been in retaliation for something else done to him?"

"Well..." Sirius grimaced. "Maybe, but that was because he was rude to Remus."

Ted laughed. "So, the roads go ever on. Are you here to watch out for Andromeda's honor?"

"I'm supposed to."

"And here that spoils all of my plans for the evening," he said mildly. "Are you good in Potions?"

"I'm all right."

"Can you chop some gurdyroot while we get started on the fire?"

To Andromeda's surprise, Sirius seemed quite enamored of this idea, and promptly set about making himself useful while she and Ted worked out the theory for the burn paste they were trying to invent.

By the time they'd really got going, Ted and Sirius were trading quips from books they liked, and Ted was trying to convince Sirius that the Beatles were considerably more talented than the Jazzpurfles, a wizarding group with a suspiciously similar line-up. Sirius was holding out for the superiority of the Jazzpurfles, who currently had a song out called "The Day Before Today," which Sirius considered the deepest piece of music ever written.

"It's not a stupid love song," Sirius said, affecting a serious expression. "It's about how the past always looks really close, but you can't get there."

"It's a knock-off," Ted said. "And 'Yesterday' isn't just a love song, either. It's a love song plus a lot of other things. So that means there are more things in it."

"Yeah, but what about 'I Want To Hold Your Heart.' That's much better than holding hands."

"I don't know. Given potions ingredients, I always found that one a little... disturbing."

Andromeda laughed. "I think maybe I should leave, and let the pair of you be alone."

"I knew I'd find someone in your family I'd like," Ted said, which made Sirius beam with happiness.

When they'd finished up, Ted headed off to Hufflepuff, and Andromeda took Sirius back to Gryffindor.

"What do you think of him?" she asked as they climbed the stairs.

"He's all right."

She bit her lip. "Do you think... if he were in the family... if we were to...?"

Sirius stopped. "If you married him?"

"Yeah."

He bit his lip, then shrugged, gave her a dazzling smile, and said, "Only if I could live with you..."
12 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mcgonagalls_cat From: mcgonagalls_cat Date: February 1st, 2012 09:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent and Excellent!

Thanks!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 1st, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked!
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 1st, 2012 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
mcgonagall is just the best.
I wish we had seen more of her order of phoenix, maybe she could have helped pull sirius out of his depression

and it's interesting that you made sirius care deep down about his parents. does he care more for his mother or father?

thanks for this

Kathya Jackson
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 1st, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think his feelings for his mother are stronger across the board. On the other hand, given Walburga's behavior, I'd guess that Orion was the one who kept him in Hogwarts after he started hanging around with undesirables like James, Remus, and Peter. I expect she'd have wanted him out.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 1st, 2012 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked both of these. It was nice to have the humor after the deep depression of the first. Sirius' immediate family was kind of like broken glass. You could see what they were trying to be - could even see the beauty of it - and still know that, for the person having to hold onto them day after day, it was never going to be anything but pain and harm. His parents loved him and wanted what was best for their sons - and, somehow, that turned into Sirius being a person who watches Psycho with a creepy sense of deja vu.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 1st, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think broken glass is good imagery for that family.

Walburga has poison beliefs and ultimately, seems to be a complete nutbucket, which makes the very act of loving someone a bit of a crap shoot in terms of its effects. But I doubt she'd have been so bitter and angry and hurt if she hadn't, in her own toxic way, loved her son.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 1st, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, "somehow" covered "poisonous beliefs that took precedence over everything, including functional family dynamics." But, it just hurts seeing this family and realizing that it was the combination of their virtues with their vices made things worse than just their vices alone - and I keep thinking how it's not supposed to work that way. Their virtues should, in some measure, redeem them from their flaws. If Sirius, on some level, didn't know that his mother loved him - and if he hadn't loved her -the memory of her wouldn't hurt him nearly as much.

Of course, if Sirius had been raised by a woman without that capacity to love, he would probably be even more damaged - or damaged in different and possibly much worse ways.

Ellen
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: February 1st, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius conflicted feelings about his parents are so real and very painful. I wish that Minevra had been able to comfort him more -- she's very perceptive. Ted and Sirius are so cute together. Sirius's vocabulary reflecting his parents' influence is a great touch.
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: February 2nd, 2012 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Two very opposite end portraits of Sirius at such different times of his life and yet- so very him, the whole way through. Your brilliance at writing characters in so many circumstances always impresses me.
alkari From: alkari Date: February 2nd, 2012 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant and brilliant. Both of them very bittersweet. Yes, poor Sirius had very conflicted emotions about his parents, and you make a good point about Bugga believing she was doing the best for both her boys, in her own twisted way. But I can understand Sirius being very dubious about Minerva's insistence that he did love his parents in some way, because of course there's no immutable law that says you have to love them just because they're your parents. At what point does a child's relationship with them break down so that there IS no love left, on either or both sides?
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: February 3rd, 2012 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I've always adored how you write Sirius. I almost wish you'd write more of him more often.

Reading that first drabble is a double edged knife for me...Walburga reminds me forcefully of my paternal grandmother. Without the blood purity drivel but keeping the disowning and blasting your existence off the map when you don't play by her rules insanity.

Broken glass is the perfect way to describe that kind of relationship. Perhaps poison laced broken glass is best.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 10th, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
way behind on reading, but enjoying these very much. Sirius with a dazzling smile!

-SideAlong
12 comments or Leave a comment