The Hogwarts Express pulls into King’s Cross, and as the students make their way on to the platform, Sirius waits. He does not have the loving arms of parents to reluctantly fall into. He does not have an embarrassing kiss from a mother, or a smack on the shoulder from a father. Not that he wants one, needs one, anyway.
Prongs taps him on the shoulder and he’s saying something, but Sirius can’t hear what it is. And now James is giving him a funny look and Remus is asking what’s wrong and Peter’s just standing nervously in the background. He shrugs them away, mumbles something about summer. James pushes something into his hand and then leaves with the others. When Sirius finally exits the carriage the platform is nearly empty.
Regulus didn’t even make them wait.
Sirius walks. He flicks his wand at his trunk and it shrinks until he can fit it in his trouser pocket. He doesn’t care that he’s not supposed to use magic yet.
The London air is foreign and familiar all at once. He wanders the streets like he always has during these unbearable summers at home. He loves that muggy stink of exhaust fumes and the sounds of motorcycles screeching in the near distance. He walks and walks, breathing in the noise and the freedom.
He eyes up a girl with particularly long legs, and then he sprints across the street and out of sight as her boyfriend catches on to what Sirius is up to. It’s almost normal. Almost. Only this isn’t normal at all because this is the last time, the last time.
It’s nearly dark when he reaches Grimmauld Place. His hand aches and when he looks down he realises his fist is still clenched around whatever James pushed into his hand. His eyes crease at the memory because time seems to be drifting so slow, now. He opens his hand and smoothes out the crumpled parchment. It’s an address he knows well, something he didn’t need to be told, but James really is the best friend anyone could have because Sirius knows, Sirius knows. It’s an invitation. Something he can accept without giving in to pride or whatever other Black family traits he’s inherited.
Just do it, Sirius. One more time then you never have to come back.
He should feel something—standing before his childhood home, knowing that this is the last time, the last time that he’ll walk through the door. The bile rises in his throat at the thought and it’s not because of sadness or nostalgia at leaving, it’s because he wants to turn around right now. He doesn’t even want to go inside one last time.
But there are some things he needs from his room and he wants to say goodbye to Regulus. And maybe if he takes one more look at Andromeda’s name burnt off the family tree he’ll feel something.
Relief would be nice.
Yes, he thinks. Relief would be nice.