AN: This story
has been brewing in my brain since July 2003. Some things just take time.
Hopefully this will be worth the wait.
Much thanks to the beta crew that read and reread: Mincot,
Gryffinjack, InFabula and Seriously Sirius. Albus Dumbledore reads a passage from John
Donne; other than that, all words are mine. The characters are JK Rowling’s; I
am just borrowing them.
Born to those who have thrice defied him ~ ~
and all the members of the Order of the Phoenix, old and new, were gathered to
pay tribute and respect to their fallen colleague. The dining room at 12 Grimmauld Place was
packed to capacity as Albus Dumbledore’s voice filled the room.
mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is
not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every
chapter must be so translated; some pieces are translated by age, some by
sickness, some by war, some by justice.”
Dumbledore closed the folio from which he had just read and paused to look up
at those gathered in the room. His eyes rested on each member in their turn as
if to provide comfort.
dear friends, we are here tonight to honour and remember Sirius Black who is
now gone beyond the veil. In keeping with a tradition established some
seventeen years ago, we are here tonight to share our memories of one who was
most valued. May these memories give us all solace, support, and, most
woman lingering at the back of the room took mental stock of how Dumbledore’s
words affected everyone. She held her arms about her, playing with the
folds of her robe absentmindedly in silent observation. First, she noted
Arthur Weasley grimly nodding, as he put an arm of comfort around Molly,
who wept silently. Then, there was Hermione, misty-eyed, leaning
against Ron whose face was hidden, buried in her hair. In contrast, Mad-Eye Moody and Minerva
McGonagall showed no emotion at all.
the woman found herself slowly navigating the perimeter of the room, she realised she hadn’t yet even considered her own feelings.
Everything had been a blur, so fast, so unexpected. Experience doesn’t aid in
certain matters. As Dumbledore had said, it was seventeen years since the last
ceremony. Even though his words spoke of hope, elapsed time didn’t make
watching this new one any easier.
she continued to traverse the room, slowly and unnoticed, the second part of
the ceremony began. In turn, current members of the Order rose to speak and each began
to tell a story or an anecdote about Sirius. Some were funny, some sad, and
some were clearly quite embellished over time. All of the stories honoured a
man who took risks and paid the ultimate price for doing so.
was like no other, she thought, and she continued to wind her way around the
room. He was part teacher, part warrior, part…well, he was rather indefinable,
come to think of it. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted as two people came
clearly into view. She froze in her path as she took them in.
Harry and Remus stood together, opposite Dumbledore. To the casual observer, both seemed to be
holding up well under the pressure. She knew better. There wasn’t a doubt in
her mind that though they were outwardly stoic, their insides had to be
churning with anger, sadness, and most of all just the sheer numbing pain of
found herself transfixed by Harry’s hollow stare; only a Dementor’s kiss could
have rendered a more vacant expression. Pain had clearly
dug a deep hole in Harry’s heart.
soon made their way beside her to her side. It was macabre, really, the way
everyone felt compelled to glimpse Harry’s face. She shrugged off an arm of a
fellow mourner, preferring to stand alone. Her head was clearer, alone.
She barely noticed the ceremony happening around
her. Snippets of conversation, tributes and asides faded in and out as she
continued her wordless vigil.
"The last time we
did this, it was for Lily and James. I reckoned it was bound to
happen again, but after all this time…I don’t know…” Marlene McKinnon’s voice
Dearborn came up behind Marlene and nodded his head in solemn agreement, “After
surviving all those years in Azkaban, I don’t think any of us ever surmised
that Sirius would be taken. The one thing you could always say about Sirius was
that he was a survivor. Whatever anyone threw at him, he’d bounce back.”
Moody, in his familiar gruff voice, added his tribute, “As you all well know, my
motto is “constant vigilance”. Details, it’s all about the details when it
comes to stealth, and Sirius was a master at---Mundungus, kindly return the
goblet from your left pocket to its rightful place on the sideboard----as I was
saying, stealth. Sirius was a master at knowing how to blend in. When it came
to finding someone to counsel new members of the Order how to break into Death
Eater meetings undetected there was no one better. He knew just how to do it
without getting caught…”
“I’ll say he was
a master at it.” said Gideon Prewett, nudging his
brother, Fabian, in the ribs, “He wasn’t captured, he went out fighting,
virtually leading the charge, he was.”
“Quiet, Gideon!” snapped Fabian.
“What? It’s not
as if they can hear-”
“It’s not that.
Bill is speaking next and I want to hear what he has to say. He was barely ten
years old the last time I saw him. He and Molly were walking together through
Hogsmeade one day just before you and I--”
“Shhhh, the both of you!” hissed the woman who had to up
until then remained silent.
the Prewett brothers had distracted her, she had been
studying Harry, who was currently looking more and more forlorn. She looked about her to see if anyone else
had noticed. No, it was clear, she noted grimly, that to their untrained eyes,
there was no discernible, difference. Only she noticed, however slight it was,
that there was a transformation. With resignation, she returned her attention
to Harry’s reactions and to the ceremony.
Vance, Elphias Dodge, and Hagrid
all recounted their fondest memories of Sirius.
Each of their tales seemed to portray Sirius as the ultimate prankster. Harry managed to produce a slight, forced smile at
who had been shaking her head, rose. “Before you all think my cousin was nothing but an
adventurer, an overgrown practical joker, and a womaniser,
I had better speak. When I was about two or three-years-old, my mum…”
there it was. Tonks had inadvertently hit the nail on the head. “Mum”. That explained it all. “Mum”
was the perfect word; there are changes only a mother notices. No one else seemed aware
of Harry’s change in demeanour.
It was subtle: a shifting in position; eyes
that focused on the speaker, but did not see;
hands that clenched and unclenched.
she pushed her long hair out of her eyes, revealing her pained expression,
someone else realised what she saw. A hand touched
her shoulder gently. This time she did not shrug off the touch; it was one she
stronger than you think, Lily,” the gentle voice of her husband pulled her
attention away as he wrapped his arms around her, “I know all of this is hard
on him, but he’ll get through it.”
Potter turned to face James. She was about to respond when she noticed that
Sirius had also come to stand beside her. Clearly, they had been watching Harry
too, but she doubted they saw everything that she did. Despite their love and
connection, they were not his mother.
however, looked almost as grave as she felt.
“This is so surreal. As many times as I attended one of these ceremonies
for a fallen member of the Order, I often wondered if you all could “see us”.
And now here I am listening to people speak about me, and I am present
to hear it. I never really imagined that you all actually attended. People
always said they could feel the presence of those departed. If they only knew
how right they were.”
Lily smiled at Sirius. He was right; it was surreal.
It was hard to choose the moments of when to look in on those still alive in
the physical world. She, James and those departed of the Order had all mostly
moved on. They were not ghosts living forever to wallow in the present of what
might have been, but they were still keenly interested in what was to come.
They did not want their sacrifice to have been for nothing.
“I know, Sirius,” Lily rested her hand gently on his
shoulder, “There are times when I feel as though I could almost reach out to
those still there. Even if we can’t make physical contact, we still know
oftentimes what’s in their hearts, and that’s what makes it so difficult,
seeing the pain and not being able to do anything about it. Just because we’re
here and not there, doesn’t mean we don’t experience emotion.”
smiled faintly, as his eyes travelled toward Harry,
“I can tell you this, Lily, Harry has his friends. They are fiercely loyal to
him. They’ll help him and stand by him, no matter what.”
was about to respond when James interrupted, “Remus is still there to look out
for him. He won’t let him forget us.”
worry, Lily,” Gideon interjected, “My sister, Molly, loves him like one of her
own. She’ll make sure he has everything he needs.”
that was the problem, wasn’t it?
everything,” replied Lily, “Even with the best intentions, she
doesn’t really know him. She may have seven of her own, but experience doesn’t
help in everything. He isn’t hers.”
attention was abruptly called back to the ceremony in the physical world by a
sudden outburst. The rest of them looked surprised, but Lily knew it was coming
all along. She only wondered that it had taken two-thirds of the
ceremony before Harry lost his composure.
“I CAN’T DO
THIS! MAYBE THIS IS FINE FOR THE REST OF YOU BUT… WELL I DON’T WANT TO TALK
ABOUT IT! IT’S LIKE YOU ARE ALL TRYING TO PUT HIS MEMORY AWAY - ERASE HIM AS SURELY AS HE IS ERASED
FROM THE BLACK FAMILY TAPESTRY!”
Harry fled from
the room, unaware that Remus was at his heels. James and Sirius were about to
follow when a wail from Lily stopped them. She had let go a shriek of utter
desperation that in volume rivalled
her son’s outburst.
positively wild with fury and frustration as she turned to the group, “The cost
is so high. I can bear the pain of almost anything but I can’t stand what this
is doing to my son. It never ends. As
well-meaning as you all are, you just don’t understand!”
seemed to struggle for words of comfort as he came to her. Lily didn’t blame
him. James never had felt or sensed some things as acutely as she did. Only
Sirius, who had most recently been attached to the physical world, seemed to
experience anything approaching her level of pain.
Dorcas Meadows slowly worked her way toward Lily as she addressed
her cautiously, “I think it takes a
woman’s perspective to understand what you mean, Lily. All of us here gave our
lives, but you’re the only one whose child was left behind. There’s no one in
the Order who understands that kind of pain.”
Lily freed herself from James’ arms, her eyes
flashed with recognition. She couldn’t believe that she hadn’t thought of it
before, “You’re wrong there, Dorcas. There is one
person who understands, and the horror of it is that she is all alone. If
you’ll all excuse me, I need to be with her.”
flash, Lily removed herself from 12 Grimmauld Place. She soon
found herself in a room that was practical, clean, and sparse. Although
inhabited, it was vacant devoid of any shred
of the personality and life of its single resident.
Lily noticed the room’s occupant, a woman with long
brown hair and a round face, standing by the window. Although it was a
beautiful evening, she made no attempt to open the window or to focus on the activity
outside. Her face bore no mark of expression. Lily picked up no sense of a
functioning, living mind.
knew the occupant couldn’t hear her as she spoke. Even if Lily were there in
the physical world, the woman, in all probability, wouldn’t have given
her any notice. Nonetheless, Lily was going to talk to her anyway.
know you’d understand, Alice. You’re as trapped in your body in the physical
world and as unable to help your son as I’m trapped and unable to help
mine. We had no idea what our resistance
would mean. We did our best to protect them, and now Harry and Neville pay the
price for our defiance.”