Who: Sirius Black What: Sleepwalking When: Friday night, Saturday morning. Where: The grounds, then Gryffindor tower Rating: PG 13 for dark content Status: Complete
I close my fingers to a fist try to figure, how it feels when the wickedness comes over me
There is a dead pixie just inside the Forbidden Forest.
Of course, creatures die in the forest all the time. One more dead pixie shouldn’t have seemed so out of place. But if you got close enough, if you looked down at the tiny blue corpse, you’d see the broken wrists and ankles and the bits of fishing line that held them down. You’d see gaping holes where wings used to be, and the chasm in between where the spine had been ripped out. You’d see the small orange organs spread around the body, each one crushed and smeared into the grass. If you looked, you’d know that this was not the work of any beast in the forest, but of man. Only man could be so cruel.
There are footprints leading away from the body, thick soles with a heavy tread, combat boots most likely. They head down a small path, wending their way between bushes and trees. Sometimes they stop, and you’d need to detour into the underbrush to find them again. Broken twigs and bent leaves mark the way, and a score of tiny bodies, all strung out and torn up, prove that you haven’t lost the trail. The footprints are always found on the path again, though sometimes they’ve been absent for nearly a mile. You’d probably be smarter just to follow it, since the detours and never pleasant and you already know what the prints are doing whenever they veer away.
You will eventually find your way to a waterfall, a beautiful place where the very air seems alive with magic. You might even see a Unicorn, for the water here is clear and pure and the gentle denizens of the forest flock to it. If you went there on a different day you’d feel an overwhelming aura of peace and security, but not today. Today the glade feels wrong, a heavy tension hovers in the air and even the musical sounds of the cascading falls cannot cover the apprehension that has permeated this place. And there is a smell, a soft scent that is almost too muted to be found, but which still manages to cover everything in a patina of metallic wrong.
If you walk up to the pool, and if you do then you are a braver soul than I, you will find the cause. What seemed at a distance to be mere reflections in the softly churning waters are in fact the bodies of hundreds of Naiads, their translucent forms leaking shimmery gore into the water. Their faces are locked in a rictus of pain, their eyes burned from their sockets. The Unicorns will not be drinking here for a long time.
On the morning of Saturday the 18th, Sirius Black woke up in the common room with mud on his boots and something pale and sticky on his hands and pyjamas. He doesn’t remember getting up the night before, or leaving the security of his dorm, but there is a heavy leaden feeling in the pit of his stomach and a metallic taste between his teeth that sends him running for the bathroom. He heaves, trying to rid himself of something that he cannot remember, and if tears join his bile then no one will ever know about it. He showers, scrubbing his skin raw for the sixth day in a row, and just like the first time he still doesn’t feel clean.
His soiled clothing ends up smouldering in the corner of the room while he stands before the mirror and stares. He doesn’t recognise himself.
He checks the clock on the bathroom wall, 5am. Still time to change, to crawl back into his bed and pretend he never left it. He won’t sleep though, couldn’t possibly sleep. He doesn’t think he’ll ever sleep again. There are things waiting for him when he closes his eyes, and the fact that he can’t tell which of them are real is more terrifying than anything else.
His friends are still asleep, thank Merlin, and Sirius closes his curtains as quietly as he can. It’s Saturday, so he has a few hours left before he has to start pretending that everything is alright.
There is still mud on his boots.
Sirius lies awake, listening to the quiet sounds of morning, and wonders how long it will be before he cracks completely.