people or events that you recognize belong to the talented J.K. Rowling and all
the other people who own Harry and his world. I’m just visiting and giving them
some new friends.
It took a little while
before the man lying on the floor became aware of his surroundings. When he
opened his eyes everything was white: the walls, the floor, the ceiling, even
the robes worn by those around him. The only spots of color were the faces of
“Where am I? What happened?” he
asked once he could get his mind to form intelligent thought.
“You, my young friend, are behind
the veil,” said an elderly wizard sitting near him.
“What does that mean? Last thing I remember I was in the middle of a fight,
then everything went blank.”
“You did not choose to come
here?” asked a young witch from his other side.
“No, I don’t even know
where here is.”
“That is sad indeed.
People normally come here when they want to stop living but don’t really want
to die: it’s difficult to explain. Sometimes people do fall in here when they
don’t mean to; either because they are curious and get too close or because
someone pushes them through.”
“If you can get in, you
can get out, right? I mean if you didn’t intend to be here in the first place?”
The elderly wizard shook his head.
“I’m afraid once you’re here you can’t go back. But you can’t pass on to the
world of the dead either. It’s a rather awkward situation.”
Sirius sat, head in his
hands, trying to soak everything in. After a few minutes his head came up and
he looked up, resigned. “So we can’t get out, but are we trapped here forever?
I mean in this one room –it will get too crowded.
“No, it won’t.” said the
young witch. “There really are no walls here. There is actually nothing here
except us. You can wander in any direction for as long as you want and you will
still be here, just not as close to the veil.” She pointed to it; Sirius saw
that there, in what appeared to be the middle of the space, was a tattered
black veil that fluttered in a nonexistent breeze.
“I’m Kala and this is Cordell. He
fell through the veil in 1824,” the young witch introduced herself and the
Sirius glanced at the elderly
wizard skeptically. But Cordell just grinned and nodded to the unasked
“You stop aging when you fall
through the veil. I was nearing 98 when I came over. At the time I thought it
would be the best option, now I’m not sure I made the right choice. My family
supported it though.”
“They just let you stop
existing?” Sirius couldn’t believe that anyone would choose that path. Even if
he was on the verge of dying Sirius was sure that he would live out his life in
any way that he could. Though he was sure some people would be thrilled with
the idea of him living a nonexistent life.
“Something like that. I didn’t
have any children of my own, I never married, and my heath was declining. There
was nothing the Healers could do for me. Looking back I think it was the
coward’s way out.”
“I’m Sirius, the most wanted
wizard in both worlds. Wanted for a crime I didn’t even commit.” His voice was
dripping with irony and he let out a short bark-like laugh.
“That must be hard on your
family, knowing you are gone without having your name cleared first.”
“My family is all dead. But yes, those still living, who I considered
family, will have to deal with it, again.”
“Again? What do you mean by
that?” asked another witch who wandered over.
Sirius told them about
his youth –how he didn’t get along with his parents, how he moved in with his
best friend’s family in his sixth year of school. How he got his own place
after school, the marriage of two of his best friends. The day he became
Harry's godfather, the attack on the Potters by Voldemort. The way Peter framed him, being send to
Azkaban and his ultimate escape. How he’d been hiding for the past three years.
How he came to be in the Death Room and fell through the veil.
By the time he finished there was
quite a crowd around him. They were all listening intently and there wasn’t a
sound to be heard except for Sirius’s voice, which had grown harsh with the
pent-up hatred and helplessness he had been feeling.
“Your best friend and godson have
lost you for a second time. What will they do?” Kala asked, wiping tears on her
“They’ll make it somehow. They
always do,” Sirius’s voice now had a tone of quiet pride and confidence.
Sirius found that he no longer
had his wand. Cordell explained that there was no reason to have them; only the
truly living could perform magic. Time did not seem to act naturally either and
Sirius wasn’t sure how long he had been in the room-that-wasn’t-really-a-room.
There was no timekeeper; sleep didn’t come like it did in the world of the
Sirius found himself regularly
pacing the pattern that had picked up in Azkaban, or he would just sit and
scowl at the people around him. After a few days he got fed up with pacing and
elected to take Kala’s unspoken challenge to see how far he could walk before
finding something – or returning to where he started. He might find himself going
in circles, he thought, but it didn’t matter. There was nothing else to do.
Occasionally he would stop and
talk with one of the others, but mostly kept to himself. He stopped to have a
conversation with one young wizard at one point, but the wizard only spoke
German, a language Sirius did not understand. For a little while he had a set
of twins, not much older than eight or nine, walking with him. But their
watcher called them back when they had walked to far. He learned that when the
younger ones came through the veil they were assigned a watcher, someone who
would look out for them as a parent would. There were no dangers here like in
the world of the living, but the watcher was someone that they could look up to
and receive comfort from.
Sirius often became pensive while
he was walking It was at such a point when he thought about his friends and how
he wished he could contact them. He would have liked to have Dumbledore around
to talk to and get some answers from, but he wasn’t there and Sirius was
thinking that almost anyone would help. The next thing he knew, he was standing
in front of Cordell.
“Well my young friend, you must
have something on your mind.” Though he didn’t have the long silver hair or the
glasses, Cordell had a sparkle in his eye and a pleasant smile that reminded
Sirius of his former Headmaster.
“How did I get here? I
don’t mean here – gesturing to the space they existed in – but here,” Sirius pointed to his current
“I would guess you wanted
to talk to me. Those of us behind they veil share a special bond, we can travel
to each other without much thought…you simply need to concentrate on who you
want to talk. What can I do for you?”
“I can’t contact Remus or Harry,
but what about James and Lily? Is there some way I can talk to them?” Sirius
was hopeful and he was beginning to think he might be able to survive after all
until he saw the look of sadness on Cordell’s face.
“I’m afraid not. You see, the
living and the dead can communicate after a fashion. But we are neither dead
nor alive and as such can communicate with neither.”
Sirius didn’t want to be angry with Cordell; he couldn’t help but
to tell Sirius that truth. After giving a stiff nod Sirius found himself away
from Cordell. It may have been the spot he had left only moments ago, but since
there was no variation in the landscape he didn’t know for sure. He had never
felt so trapped by the veil; he gave a frustrated sigh and sat down with his
head in his hands.
If only he had listened when
Remus and Tonks and the others had told him to wait for Dumbledore. Maybe Molly
Weasley had even been right. Perhaps they had all been right: he was reckless.
Sirius didn’t even realize Kala
had joined him until she spoke. “Nothing can be so bad as to conjure up that
face, can it?”
He looked at her with such
emotion in his eyes that she drew back a bit. “Yes, it can. It’s my fault that my two best friends died
and their son had to go live with those awful relatives. It’s my fault that my last best friend now
has no one left. It’s my fault that
Harry will have to live with those same relatives until he gets out of
Hogwarts. It’s even my fault that I’m
here now… if only I had listened! But Harry was in danger – I couldn’t just sit
there and wait for Voldemort to kill him.
“I was reckless in my youth and
I’m reckless still. If I had it to do all over again I sure as hell would make
some changes.” Kala knew that he wasn’t angry with her and needed to release
some of his feeling so she let him rant and yell until he was done.
When she spoke there was
tenderness in her voice and sympathy and caring in her eyes. “You can’t relive
the past. You have to let the past be
past. Come here, I want to show you something.” Kala stood up and took Sirius
by the hand. “Concentrate on me and you will end up where I do. Ready?”
Sirius nodded; Kala disappeared.
He focused a mighty effort on joining her and when he opened his eyes found
that he had, in fact, been successful. They were in front of the veil, which
was no longer tattered. It was whole and looked almost brand new.
“Not many know about this. I
found it once when I was desperate for home. We are all so resigned to being
here that we don’t think of the veil as anything other than what got us here.
But on this side you can actually see
the living world… if you’re lucky. You have to want to see someone specific,
and if that same person is thinking about you at the same moment you will see
them. Maybe for only a moment or two, but you will be able to.”
With that Kala disappeared;
Sirius stood alone in front of the veil. He let his mind open and thought of
all the people he had ever loved, or even hated. He didn’t know how long he
waited, but images started to appear in the cloth. None of them were very
clear, but he thought he saw Harry and Remus and even Albus Dumbledore. He
might have even seen Snape, although that image disappeared before he could
blink. But it didn’t matter; the images of Harry and Remus were getting
sharper. Harry lay on his bed at his Aunt and Uncle’s house petting Hedwig. He
looked so forlorn that it nearly broke Sirius’s heart.
The image of Remus alone in the
kitchen of Grimmauld Place staring into his cup wasn’t much better. Sirius
didn’t even realize he was crying until the images blurred and slowly faded. He
had seen the two people he missed most, and both looked like their world had
stopped turning, if only for a few moments. He didn’t want them to feel sorry
for him. Self-pity was all the pity that he would allow. Harry and Remus needed
to get on with their lives. Not forget
him, but not live with the relentless pain of remembering.
Dizzy, Sirius sat. When he landed
he was with Kala again. “Sirius? Is everything all right? What did you see?”
“I saw…I saw Harry and I saw
Remus. They were miserable. They both looked like they don’t care what happens – that they wouldn’t even
blink if the world fell apart around them. It was just…” but Sirius couldn’t
come up with they words to describe how he felt at seeing them.
“Oh Sirius, I’m so sorry. I truly
am. They are grieving and I’m sure it’s not easy for them. You need to let them
grieve and you need to let go.” Sirius looked at her with new understanding. He
was going to strive to move on and hope that they would regain their
liveliness. He didn’t want to be the cause of anyone’s pain.
Sirius had no way to tell that it
had been two months since he had visited the veil and that it was the first of
September. Harry would be getting on the train and be back at Hogwarts soon.
Slowly, painfully, he was beginning to come to terms with his situation. In
fact, he was almost smiling again. And every once in a while, the others noted,
there was a hint of life in his eyes.
He still missed the people he had
left behind. He always would; they were the rich tapestry that had been his
life. He had gone back to the veil once, thinking only of Remus. He needed to
know if his friend was moving on, but no image had formed for him. He wasn’t
sure if he wanted to try to see Harry again. He simply wasn’t ready.
But slowly, moment by moment,
Sirius was starting to see the color in this
world. A world that had only been a wintry landscape of the bleakest, most
blinding white when he first woke up here, on the other side of the veil.
A.N. Thanks to my beta reader, Lady Narcissa, for all your
help to make the story better. Thanks to my readers for reading.