“I laugh because I must not cry.” – Abraham Lincoln
Sirius Black was known for his laugh. He was, of course known for other things, but it was his laugh that was most distinct and memorable. As a child, Sirius had been the only person who dared to do such a thing in the somber House of Black, and at Hogwarts its loud, bark-like sound was the first sign that someone was up to no good. Even during the darkest moments of the war it was there, a sign of hope and life.
But it is most unforgettable echoing through the otherwise silent London streets on the gray morning of November the first, nineteen eighty-one as the rubble fell and the dust settled.
It didn’t make much sense, did it? Why would he laugh in the middle of all that carnage? He had just betrayed all of his friends. He was standing in the remains of twelve innocent, clueless Muggles. Why would anyone laugh?
For years the answer had been easy and believable: he— just like many of the Blacks before him— had gone mad. His master had been defeated at the exact moment he’d decided to reveal his true loyalties, the moment he had betrayed everyone who’d believe his tale of redemption, and his entire world collapsed. He hadn’t anything left, so he had simply . . . gone mad.
Unfortunately, the entire truth wasn’t as simple as that. It was true that he had been driven insane (however temporary) by the loss of everything he’d held dear, but that did not include Voldemort or his followers, and it wasn’t why he had laughed. He had laughed because he wouldn’t, he could not have just cried.
You see, Sirius Orion Black did not cry. He didn’t cry when he was sad or angry, not if he was upset, distressed or even if he was happy. He never cried. Ever. So, he laughed.
Stupid little Peter had betrayed them all. Simple, weak Wormtail had willingly gone to Voldemort and given up his friends, his family. Cowardly, stuttering Peter Pettigrew had manipulated and outsmarted his braver, stronger, smarter friends. He’d been doing it for years, and they’d never suspected a thing. It was so incredibly unbelievable.
Sirius hadn’t even been able to grasp it himself until it was right in front of him. He had hoped to the very end that Peter had been broken, that he hadn’t been the spy, but Sirius knew it was true. He’d seen Lily’s blank, staring eyes and held James’s lifeless body. He’d beggedHagrid for his godson and been ignored. He’d seen a normally unsure man lie to the world and raise his wand to kill innocents.
And—most unbelievably—he was going to Azkaban because of him. Wormtail, the Traitor, the Rat was getting off free for murder and betrayal while Harry was left with Lily’s horrid relatives, Remus was abandoned in a prejudiced world, and Prongs and Lily were dead.
That is why Sirius laughed, and it’s why he kept laughing. He laughed, not even bothering to put up a fight as they restrained him. He laughed as his former colleagues questioned him and tried to pull out a confession that didn’t exist. He laughed until they slammed the door to his new cell shut.
But, alone, cold and afraid, Sirius Black finally stopped laughing and—for the first time in his life—cried.