Chapter 1 : Transcendence
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“Come on, you can do better than that!” Sirius yelled, laughing and taunting Bellatrix. His mind is full of arrogance, he is smug, assured that he is the better wizard.
A jet of red light hits his chest squarely, and the smile freezes and falls from his face, while his eyes widen in shock. He falls backward; he knows he is falling into the veil. Disbelief and fear crawl up Sirius’s spine, leaving an icy cold wake. He knows he is going to die, he knows he doesn’t want to.
The veil and his own mortal terror flap around his body, as he falls through, in to whatever is beyond….
Sirius feels nothing on his way through, but then, gradually he senses light, and he realizes his eyes are shut. He opens them. There is a feeling of light from one side of him, though he cannot see it. He is enclosed and cannot move, although he feels he is safe. A reassuring dull but regular thud pulses, a little slower than his own heartbeat, he still feels safe. He is at peace, this is a tranquil place; nothing seems to matter, there is nothing. And it doesn’t matter that there is nothing…
“Sirius! …Sirius!” a loud shrill voice rang out. “Get out of the mud, you dirty boy,” a largish dumpy woman grabs Sirius roughly, and drags him out of the dirt. Sirius looks at her in confusion. “Yes Mother,” he feels himself speak softly, his voice a higher pitch than normal.
“Don’t yes Mother me! This is not fitting behavior for a Black - crawling around in the dirt - like some street urchin…” Her voice continues but Sirius stops listening. He is remembering this, it happened before…sometime - he can’t think straight - he just knows that this, is past…
“What do you mean you’re in Gryffindor?” roared the howler Sirius had just received. This was the second day of his first term at Hogwarts, he didn’t think he would ever forget it. He feels his cheeks burning up a fury at the memory, as heads turn to look at the source of the shouting.
“The shame of it! A Black in Gryffindor, there hasn’t been a Black in anything other than Slytherin for over a hundred years.” The voice rose to a crescendo. “The shame of it!” Even now the memory of it made him want to crawl into a hole and never be found again. He couldn’t help but notice, however - from his unique viewpoint - that a greasy dark-haired boy from the Slytherin table was smirking at him….
The scent of summer is in the air; it flows through the open windows into the corridor near the Great Hall. Sirius doesn’t seem to notice, as his attention is focused somewhere else. He is hiding behind a pillar with James, James has his head down, but he is shaking with silent laughter. Looking at James starts Sirius off laughing too. He can remember this very clearly; he watches from afar as his memory plays out. He watches as he grasps his wand in his hand, and from around the corner comes a dark haired, sallow skinned boy. He looks serious, and his eyes are trying to dart in all directions at once.
Sirius stifles a giggle, raises his wand, and says the curse he has been dying to use. The dark haired boy -Snape, the inner Sirius remembers - Snape sees it all too late and reaches into his robes deftly. Too late to stop the oncoming curse, his legs start to dance uncontrollably; he looks up to find the source of laughter he can hear, and locks eyes with Sirius.
Sirius is suddenly aware that he doesn’t feel quite as good about this as he used to. He feels his face smiling broadly at Snape, he watches as his hand gives Snape a little wave. He can feel James tugging at his shirt, and he turns to run away, his younger self still giggling. The images fade away…
Sirius realizes briefly, that what is happening to him isn’t normal, but thinks – “If reliving echoes of your life is heaven…then echo forever.”
Sirius is sits on a chair in the Gryffindor common room. He’s not sure when he is…but he can see where. James and Peter are playing a game of wizards’ chess, and he is watching. James is looking at the door of the nearly empty common room, with a disturbed look on his face; Sirius knows then, in that look, when he is. They’ve just said goodbye to Remus, who has gone to see his Mum again. Sirius feels his younger self-looking quizzically at James.
“James? What is it mate?” Sirius feels himself ask.
James looks up toward Sirius, and whispers almost inaudibly, “He’s a werewolf.”
Sirius feels his younger incarnations surge of incredulity and amusement at the absurdity of what James has said; he barks a full-bellied laugh, making his ribs ache. But when he looks at James, there is a hurt look, concealed within concern. Sirius’ laugh stops abruptly.
“You… You are joking, right?” Sirius feels the disbelief slip away, replaced by fear of the unknown.
“No I’m not,” James whispers, “and keep your voice down, Sirius! Think about it; he’s always going away, every month it seems.”
Sirius watches and feels the cogs whirring inside his brain as his memory tries to work it out. Sirius nods and James continues.
“Look at this.” James holds out a piece of parchment, “this is my lunar cycle from astrology. As we studied it today it occurred to me that Remus is always away just before, and during a full moon. I was going to make a joke of it to Remus, but he looked uncomfortable, and it just hit me, “ James lowers his voice further, “he is a Werewolf.”
There is a moment of silence, while this new thought is digested.
James adds, “It makes sense now why he seems so secretive; why he is always so tired when he gets back.”
“The scars,” Sirius utters very softly, “he has some really nasty ones on his back. He tries to hide them, I just thought he was embarrassed.”
“He’s never really liked Garlic either has he?” Peter asks.
Sirius and James both snort in laughter, Sirius picks up a book and throws it at Peter.
“That’s Vampires! You idiot…” James and Sirius, curl up on the floor laughing. Sirius smiles inside at this memory but he notices this time, that while Peter eventually laughs with them, the smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes; in fact, he looks a little hurt.
Remus is looking at Sirius, Sirius knows that he’s trying to tell Sirius something but struggling with it. Sirius knows what it is, and so does his memory, and he’s not making it easy on him. At that point James comes over and sits on the grass next to them. They are all relaxing in the sun by the Lake, chucking bits of toast – that they stole from breakfast – to the squid.
“Where’s Peter?” James asked, “I’d have thought he’d want to be out here too.”
“Library,” Sirius says simply, “he’ll be here in a minute.”
“Ivegottotellyousomething,” Remus blurts out, he looks horrified and stands up, and he paces in the momentary stunned silence.
James and Sirius smile at each other, “What?” They say together.
“I need to tell you something, its important.” Remus looks hesitant, and jumps slightly when Peter finally makes it over, and chucks his bag on the floor.
“Tell us what?” Peter asks, not really realizing what he has walked into.
Sirius knows this moment; it is – was - one of his favourite, he watches with amusement from inside his own memory.
“Its ok Peter, Remus was just working himself up –“Sirius pauses and makes a big gesture of looking around to see if anyone is about, even though there’s nobody. “He’s just stressing because he’s finally going to tell us he’s a Werewolf.”
“Oh,” Peter says, the light dawns on him, “did I miss it?”
“No, he was going for the big finale, sit down or you’ll miss it.” James says straight-faced.
As Peter sits, Remus’s jaw slowly closes. “You knew,” he says, not really asking, “you knew and you didn’t tell me!”
“Tell you what Remus? We know you get a bit furry each month?” James questioned.
“We knew you’d tell us eventually, though who knew you’d wait this long, ye of little faith, eh?” Sirius felt his memory grinning widely, enjoying Remus’s astonishment.
“You utter GITS!” Remus shouts, much to the amusement of the others who can no longer hold it in and laugh heartily. Remus is chuckling too, more in relief, but he’s pleased, Sirius can see than now.
“What do you mean it’s a stupid idea?” Sirius feels his memory pouting. He knows that this is from the past too.
“Its insanity, how on earth are you ever going to find out how to do it?” James looks taken aback and perhaps a little shocked at what Sirius has suggested. Sirius knew from experience – the future? - That James’ head tilted a little to the right, to indicate a reserved interest. Watching from inside his own mind Sirius smiled at this memory, he heard himself begin to speak.
“Look, there’s some stuff in my fathers library - dodgy stuff actually - but it has what we need. I know because I’ve seen it, I could nick them this summer.” There was no question in his tone, he was certain about this idea, and looking at the others he saw that they would need convincing.
Peter looked doubtful but said, “What if we cant all do it?” Obviously worried about his skills.
“We can all do it if we try,” Sirius heard the confidence in his voice but knew that wasn’t what he had been feeling at the time, he had doubted Peter’s skill as well. “Remus would be made up if we did it. He wouldn’t have to be alone on full moons any more.”
Peter still looks hesitant but James’ head is still tilted to the right and a bright gleam has entered his eyes. “I wonder what animal I’ll be?”
He is in a forest. “How did I get here?” he thinks. He try’s to say it aloud but he can’t. There is a flash of movement in front of him, and he feels something familiar at the sounds of an unidentified force crashing through the forest. While he is frightened, Sirius feels his face smile - the younger Sirius - enjoying the moment. Bounding towards him is a nightmarish visage, a fully formed, ravenous, Werewolf. He feels his face grin widely and he speaks, though they aren’t his words, “Hello there Moony…” His limbs shrink and then reform, just before the Werewolf is on top of him. Sirius feels exhilaration thrilling throughout his body; adrenaline is pumping in his head and in his heart. Moony jumps right over him and he laughs inside, he remembers this. A Majestic stag bounds through after the Werewolf, Sirius feels himself turn and pelt after them. The wind is roaring, his tongue is hanging out of the side of this mouth as he gallivants after the others. He tastes the air and he becomes aware of what this past Sirius is thinking, ’Freedom.’ His heart swells with emotion as he realizes, “This is freedom, this is what it tastes like, and this is what it feels like.”
Remus is staring at him, Remus does not look happy at all, and in fact Sirius thinks he may well be extremely angry, but the hurt there, is hiding it. Sirius cringes inside as he remembers, the day he hurt Remus the most. He feels his memories guilt, but is surprised when there isn’t any remorse. Maybe that came later.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking –“ Sirius starts.
“That was apparent.” Remus interrupts cuttingly.
“I didn’t consider all of the risks involved –“ Sirius continues.
“Evidently.” Interrupts Remus again.
“I wanted to get Snape back –“ Sirius tries again.
“So you just used me instead.”
“No…well yes… but only a little –“ Sirius knows that Remus is upset, but he’s getting worried because Remus isn’t listening to him.
“Sirius, I am only going to say this once, so please listen. You have hurt me. You have disregarded and have made light of something that is fundamental to me, my Lycanthropy. You could’ve gotten Snape killed; you could’ve gotten me killed. I could have been kicked out of school, maybe have gone to Azkaban, and I could have had to live with knowing I’d killed someone, have that on my conscience. I can see that you truly are sorry, and I can see you really didn’t think things through. But I think I am more disappointed, that you didn’t think about or respect my feelings at all, they didn’t enter your selfish head.”
Sirius feels his head hang, and feels the remorse flood in. Memory and the now, blend for a moment, feeling the dual shame.
Sirius still feeling the shame wonders, “Heaven wouldn’t be a place where you relive pain, would it?”
“What do mean, I’m the obvious choice?” Sirius asks, annoyed.
“Well everyone knows you are James’ best friend, they’ll come straight for you.” Peter said showing uncharacteristic insight.
“You do have a point,” conceded Sirius, “but then they’d have to choose someone else.”
“What about Remus?” Peter suggests. Sirius knows that Peter suggests Remus because he doesn’t want to suggest himself, which would be too obvious; he knew damn well that Remus could never do it. If only Sirius had known it back then, if only. It made his heartache and his soul burn.
“Remus can’t do it, I talked to him about it before, but he feels there maybe a risk that changing into a Werewolf every month that could compromise the spell. It’s true, we don’t know what would happen, and the very fact that he can be incapacitated each month is a weakness, one that Voldemort can exploit. We know that the Deatheaters are aware of his Lycanthropy.” Sirius felt the dawning of an idea in his memory, “You could do it Peter!”
“Me? No, I’ve never been as skilled as you, James and Remus. You’re better off asking Dumbledore.” Peter quickly suggested.
“Are you refusing?” Sirius asks angry that Peter said no.
“Of course not, but who’d use me, there are better wizards out there than me.” Peter says, somewhat resentfully.
“You said it yourself Peter, no-one would ever assume you are the obvious choice.” Sirius says, thinking he has one the point.
“All right,” he says quietly, “I’ll do it.”
“Peter played you beautify,” Sirius thinks to himself bitterly.
Sirius looks down into the crib below and watches the slow rise and fall of the baby’s chest, so small, so tiny and so fragile.
“You can hold him if you like Sirius, just make sure you support his head,” Lily suggests from behind him.
Sirius feels his memory frowning and knows that he is looking doubtful, showing uncharacteristic reserve. “Nah, you’re all right Lily. He’s sleeping anyway, I don’t want to wake him.” Sirius’s reserve wasn’t fooling Lily, he could see it in her face, but his memory didn’t. “Do you have a name for him yet?”
“Not yet, James and I can’t decide, though Ethelbert has been suggested,” Lily didn’t bother to hide the grin from her face.
Sirius looks at her quickly, and then he feels his face relax into a sloppy grin.
“You had me there…I admit it,” Sirius says, still grinning.
“His name is Harry, Harry James Potter.”
“Hello Harry,” Sirius says softly.
Sirius trys to cling to this last memory, fearful, not wanting to see what comes next, “Living through it once was bad enough… Don’t let this be purgatory”
Sirius looks up from the bundle he holds in his arms, and stares at the rubble in front of him. He knows when this is, he really doesn’t want to experience his old emotions as well as his current torment. He feels the tears snaking their way down his face, and he feels the white-hot super nova of apoplexy fuelling his heart. He can’t help but think, “This is perdition.”
There’s movement behind him, and he knows its Hagrid. “Sirius? Are yeh all right?” Hagrid approaches cautiously, he licks his lips and says, “I’ve gotta take ‘im ter Dumbledore.”
Sirius just nods and says, “Take the bike Hagrid, it will get you there quicker.” Sirius watches as his memory hands over the keys, already resolved in what he is going to do next. Hagrid takes the baby and secures him in his coat, gets on the bike and flys away nosily.
Sirius whispers to himself, “Peter… you bastard…” The tears don’t stop, and Sirius slowly starts to walk…
“How could you Peter…James and Lily…You’ll not get away with it!” Sirius shouts. Sirius screams at his own memory, and he screams at himself, knowing what is to come next. He watches helplessly as he draws his wand, and as he does, an explosion rips through the immediate area, but not before Sirius sees Wormtail transform. As the smoke clears, Sirius feels his memories mind snap. It’s the end, he can’t take any more, his friends are dead, the one that should be is gone, escaped. An embittered, desperate and unhinged laugh resounds around the debris and dead…
”This is truly Perdition.”
Sirius looks up from within the dank cell. He sees Fudge looking at him from beyond the bars of his prison, with a mixture of disgust and pity. The same mixture of disgust and self-pity Sirius feels for himself now, with only one difference from his memory; Sirius knows that soon he’ll escape this place, his memory doesn’t. He has occasionally wondered why he never died in this god-forsaken place; he had at the time wished to die. Sirius knows that the fury of the injustice, and the fact the truth lay with him, may have had something to do with it. He feels his eyes wander to the paper Fudge has in his hands, and his eyes widen a little. He moves himself to the front, near Fudge.
“Can I…Can I have that paper Minister?” Sirius croaks at Fudge, his voice unused and unsure.
Fudge looks up surprised, and wordlessly passes it through, shaking his head while he walks away, disgusted.
Sirius feels the rage fighting its way up inside and he hisses, “He’s at Hogwarts.”
Sirius hears himself panting; he knows that this memory is in Padfoot again. “How long must I endure this?” Sirius asks himself, knowing there is no real answer to be had. He shivers and feels the cold; the grass squelches mud between the clawed toes of his paws. His sensitive hearing can detect the rumble of something being dragged along, and all he can smell is the dank. Carefully he pads forward through the bushes in front of him. He knows he what he will see, but his memory spots the lone figure, dragging a trunk.
“James?” He spoke the word but it came out a low growl, almost sub-audible.
The figure across the road stops and looks in his direction cautiously. He squints trying to focus and raises his wand, suddenly he falls back, as a bus appears out of nowhere.
“No, not James… Harry, it’s Harry.” Sirius feels himself slope back into the bushes; he feels his memories determination harden in one thought, “Peter.”
Sirius finds himself in the shrieking shack, alone, biding his time until darkness falls. He wonders if this is what happens when your life flashes before you when you die, and looking at the blackness around him he wonders if reliving pain is better than nothing at all.
As Sirius relives the moment when Harry realises Sirius didn’t betray his Mother and Father, he finds his mind not even concentrating on the events, but rather, he can only see Peter. He knows he hated him before, but seeing this again, living through it again changes perspective. Knowing what happened after, what Peter does to help Voldemort, Sirius didn’t think he would be able to stay his wand as Harry had asked before. Sirius didn’t know how much more of this infernal memory he could take.
Looking away from Peter, his attention is focused on Remus. He wonders, when exactly Remus got old, but there was no mistaking the lines of time or the grey of antiquity. In that moment Sirius realises what it must have been like for Remus, all the years isolated and alone. The way he feels now. The moment fades and a new memory takes its place…
Sirius sees a flash of red light go past him, and instantly he know he’s back to the beginning again, back to where he dies. Inside he feels the dread welling up inside him, he’s scared, and he knows it. Sirius feels himself fall through the veil, and the pit of his stomach is ice. As the veil flutters quietly around him for the second time, he hears the ethereal voices whispering to him. He hears their echoing tones, not with his ears but with his heart.
He has the vague impression of foliage and the green of life. He begins to see more clearly, and things begin to clarify. Sunshine drips from leaf to leaf with the fresh dew of dawn and Sirius feels as if he has been here before, though he can’t remember it. In fact it feels as though he has always been here. Sirius feels a strong presence drift near him, it doesn’t have a form that he can see but it doesn’t matter, he’d recognise it anywhere…and as it slowly transforms into a form that Sirius finds familiar and homely, Sirius smiles within himself and says…
"Prongs... it’s good to see you again, old boy."
The rules of the challenge were: to write a one-shot about what happens to Sirius after his death, ie. on the other side of the veil. It can be some kind of afterlife or perhaps just an interior monologue as he says goodbye to everyone he loves. Optional rule: Make the last line of the fic:"Prongs... it's good to see you again, old boy."
The first two paragraphs at the beginning were from OotP, and were a little reworded.
Thanks to melihobbit for thinking up such a wonderful challenge, so I dedicate it to her for having such a great imagination.
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