The Sugar Quill
Author: potions gurl  Story: The Other Side  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

It was a little while before the young man laying on the floor became aware of his surroundings and the fact that there were o

Any 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 those people.

 

“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 elderly wizard.

 

Sirius glanced at the elderly wizard skeptically. But Cordell just grinned and nodded to the unasked question.

 

“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 robe’s sleeve.

 

“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 living.

 

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 location.

 

“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.

//
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