A/N: I guess this is it, guys. The end to a long and eventful journey for Sirius, and for me as a writer. Siriusly has lasted a little over a year, and it pains me immensely to finally label my humble little story “COMPLETED.”
I'm now writing a political satire set in the HP world called Two Shots in the Dark. Then there's my newest story, a Rabastan Lestrange romance/angst novel called Saviour. And of course, for more Marauders, check out They Couldn't Stop the Voices. I hope you all will read and enjoy! =]
Voila la epilogue.
Sirius Black staggered up the stairs of his familiar childhood home, one arm still stiffly clutching a wooden box and a bunch of purple robes. The other arm he used to haul himself closer and closer to the door, until finally he reached it and, with a great effort, yanked it open.
He was met with absolute silence. Everything was exactly as he had remembered it. The lights in the hallway glowed dimly, casting into relief the wrinkled hollows of the old house-elf faces, mounted against the wall. From these lights there was no way to tell whether or not the house was still inhabited, or indeed, how long since it had been. They smoldered dully in their holders and by appearance, could have endured ages undisturbed.
Slowly Sirius approached the long table that ran the length of the hall and set his burdens down. He was about to turn away when he remembered, in the faint haze of a childhood dream, how he used to peer vainly into the dark wood for a glimpse of his own small reflection. Now he looked down once again into the polished surface and saw himself.
The heavy silence broke as he sighed and rubbed his distorted reflection absently. His finger came away with no dust. He smiled vaguely. Molly Weasley must have dusted here recently…
Sirius whirled around as he remembered something else. There had always been an umbrella stand shaped like a troll’s leg near the door. Nothing could define his memory of a place like the oddities he recalled of it. And sure enough, lying sad and abandoned on its side, empty of umbrellas, there it was.
Again Sirius broke into a grin, an expression that felt almost foreign on his face after so long of quirking it in anger or wrenching it with pain. His cousin Nymphadora Tonks must have entered here recently…
Quite forgetting his exhaustion, Sirius began to race down the hall and stumble up the stairs. His body started to protest halfway up the first flight as his legs gave in and everything in his vision swayed. Sirius cursed his body for choosing this moment in time to start acting like a 60-year-old man, and halted on the first landing.
Without hesitation, he pushed open the first door he came to. A small fire burned weakly in the fireplace, and in the bed across from the flames a man reclined on pillows.
“Who is it?” asked Kingsley Shacklebolt softly. Sirius had frozen on the threshold, too far for the light of the fire to illuminate him. Suddenly his breath had caught in his throat, and he could not speak.
Kingsley struggled to reach his wand, which lay on the bureau next to him. “Show yourself, or I’ll hex you,” he said, his low voice threatening.
Sirius stepped into the room. Slowly he forced his head to rise and look into the other man’s dull eyes. Kingsley looked ill and sweated with the weakness of fever and pain. “Who did this to you, Kingsley?” he asked thickly, the words struggling past a lump in his throat. “Was it Bella?”
Kingsley gasped. “Sirius Black,” he whispered, closing his eyes and slipping deeper into his blankets. “Merlin help us.”
“It’s me, Kingsley. It is me. And even Merlin cannot help us now,” Sirius said with a heaviness in his chest. He walked over to the bed and reached out with a numb hand to touch Kingsley’s shoulder. But when his fingers were merely an inch away, he hesitated and pulled back. He wondered if he just could not bear to touch another human being so soon after the old man had gone.
A question burned deep in Sirius’s throat. “Are there any others alive in this house?” he asked quietly. “Before, even in the dead of night, the Order did not sleep.”
Kingsley opened his right eye a crack in amazement. Sirius Black still stood in front of him. No miracle could explain this. “We’ve had a rough night,” he said slowly. “They have been fed and have bathed, but could not face the prospect of sitting around mourning. They are all sleeping.”
“Others dead…?” Sirius choked.
Kingsley chuckled dryly. “No, just you,” he sighed. “I must be in such a state of delirium, to be able see you, my friend.” He looked up at Sirius and smiled sadly. “And yes, it was your cousin who bested me. I took up your battle after Merlin’s Arch took you.”
“But now I’m back,” Sirius reminded him. “Merlin sent me back. I’m not dead.”
Kingsley laughed again. “We do not know much about that arch, Sirius, but I sincerely doubt Merlin himself resides there.”
Sirius felt a small stir of frustration in the pit of his stomach, but only patted the blankets on the bed and turned to leave. What had transpired between him and Merlin was something that nobody else could ever hope to understand, and it was better for everyone if the experience stayed buried deep inside Sirius’s own memories. “You get some rest, Kingsley. I’ll tell the whole story when everyone is awake and ready to hear it.”
He shuffled out of the room and closed the door again. Plunged back into darkness and silence, Sirius paused for a moment to think. Apparently not much time had passed at all, and it was still the night of the disaster at the Ministry. Kingsley had said that the rest of the Order members were alive and well, and sleeping now. Sirius knew who the next person he needed to see was. And down the hallway and the second-to-last door on the left, if he remembered correctly, was the room where Remus Lupin usually stayed in while at Number 12, Grimmauld Place.
Blinking away green patches as his vision adjusted, he reached into his pocket for his wand. “Lumos,” he muttered, and a light appeared at his wand’s tip. He began to make his way further down the hall, lighting his way with his wand, when a voice sounded beside him from the darkness.
“Daft Dumbledore, that’s what they should call him,” the voice grumbled unhappily. Sirius jumped in surprise at the noise, his heart pounding. “Telling me that the last of the Blacks is gone…they should have him in St. Mungo’s, the loon! I simply refuse to believe—”
Sirius swung around in the direction of the voice, his beam of light flashing across the entire hallway before coming to rest on a rusty framed portrait that hung on the wall. Phineas Nigellus Black held his arm up against the glare and peered, squinty-eyed, at Sirius.
“Who is it? Take that light away from me this instant!” he demanded indignantly. “Can’t a man even enter his own house without being blinded?”
Hurriedly Sirius moved his wandlight out of Phineas’s eyes, suppressing a groan. He had never had a good relationship with the portrait, and now he was the last person Sirius wanted to deal with under these circumstances. Phineas had a tendency to talk for hours at a time, and Sirius had no time to listen. He needed to see Remus immediately.
Sighing, he flipped his wand around and directed the beam of light at his own face, revealing himself to the portrait. “Phineas, it's me,” he said resignedly.
“Sirius Black!” Phineas exclaimed loudly, nearly scaring Sirius into dropping his wand. His voice echoed down the hall and through the house. “I knew it! I KNEW you couldn’t be dead, and I just overheard Daft Dumbledore in his office, trying to convince Harry Potter otherwise. What a fool!”
Sirius could hear vague shuffles of movement coming from the other rooms on this floor. Apparently Phineas had woken them, and now they were about to come outside and see him at any moment, yet all Sirius could process was the fact that…
“Dumbledore is telling Harry that I’m dead?!” Sirius cried in dismay. “No, but I’m not! I’m not dead! Harry can’t think I’m dead!” His own voice echoed, but he didn’t care who heard them now. He started towards Remus’s room again, then changed his mind and began to thunder down the hallway in the opposite direction, towards the stairs. Then he switched directions once again. Phineas Nigellus stared at the spectacle Sirius was making, waiting patiently for his decision. Sirius ground to a stop again in front of the portrait. “I should talk to Remus…but I need to see Harry, now. Where is he? Dumbledore’s office? I need to go there!”
“I can go to my portrait in Daft Dumbledore’s office—” Phineas said calmly, but Sirius didn’t hear him.
His decision made, he spun around and headed back towards the stairs at a sprint just as Remus Lupin’s door banged open. The werewolf caught only a glimpse of Sirius’s retreating head, but could mistake his dark hair for none other.
“Padfoot!” he shouted, racing down the hallway past Phineas, who was shaking his head at the antics of these young people. His heart was pounding so fast that he thought he could die. Was it really Pad?
Sirius heard Remus call him from behind, but continued to stumble haphazardly down the steps. He had always been astonishingly single-minded when it came to his godson. When he reached the bottom of the flight he turned left sharply and headed for the big fireplace in the kitchen. Sirius scrabbled for Floo powder in the small box atop the mantle, but it was empty, and suddenly Sirius could not bear to be separated from his godson for another moment by an inconvenience such as this. He had relived his life and risen from the veil to come back to Harry James Potter, and now there was no Floo powder? Roaring in frustration, he set about the kitchen to look for more.
“Pad! Sirius, Sirius, stop!” Remus raced into the kitchen and headed straight for the raging man. He reached out for Sirius’s arms, and Sirius whipped away for fear of touching another human being, for fear that Remus would turn into ash as Merlin did. But Remus did not yield, and he held Sirius, murmuring comforts to him as one did to a small child.
“It’s alright, Pad, you’re back… It’s me, Remus. It’s Moony. You’ll see Harry in a moment. If you’ll relax, I’ll go bring some more Floo powder so we can go see him, but you need to stop fighting me and breathe…”
“Moony,” Sirius gasped, pounding his fists on the top of the long wooden table and flailing hysterically against Remus’s grip. “I need to see Harry, and there is no Floo powder! Where is the Floo powder?”
Weeping softly, Remus clutched him firmly against doing more damage and continued to talk to him, as much for his own benefit as Sirius’s. Now that he held him, Remus knew that Sirius physically did exist, that he could be touched, that he was not merely an apparition borne of his own sick hope or insanity. He held on to his old friend tightly with the irrational fear that he might again lose him, and they struggled with each other for several long moments.
But finally, Sirius, drained of all energy and shivering with overspent emotion, collapsed against the table and was quiet. His desperation, reminiscent of his time behind the veil, had seeped away; the temper that flared in him was now gone as quickly as it had appeared, leaving him only with a cold exhaustion in his insides. He had to remind himself that he had come back, and that there was all the time in the world to see Harry now.
“Oh, you were scaring me there, Padfoot,” Remus sighed, crumpling into a chair and covering his face with his hands. His voice came out muffled. “You really scared me.”
Sirius had no idea whether Remus had meant his outburst of a few moments ago, or simply when he had slipped behind the veil. He didn’t want to ask.
“I think Phineas went to get Harry and Dumbledore,” Remus continued in a shaky voice through his hands. “You should sit down before you faint.”
Sirius sat. He took several deep breaths before speaking. “I—I heard you, mate,” he told Remus uncertainly. “Behind the veil. And I saw the—the animals, you know, the ones you always used to make for us.”
Slowly Remus took his hands away from his face and looked up at Sirius. “You really fell in,” he stated dully. “You were gone. How did you come back?”
Without answering, Sirius heaved himself out of his seat. Remus rose as well, and the two men embraced as only old friends after a near-death experience can. Sirius closed his eyes as he squeezed the breath out of his last best friend. “The Marauders aren’t gone yet, Moony,” he whispered into Remus’s shoulder, and the two men stood hanging onto each other in relief, neither able to bring themselves to move.
Then a rush of dusty air blew his shaggy hair across his forehead, and Sirius heard a small groan from nearby as he sensed two bodies tumble out of the fireplace.
He froze, feeling his legs weaken; his eyes were still clamped tightly shut. He hoped against hope, like he had for so many other things that had happened tonight, that his betraying senses at that moment did not lie.
“I never could get used to traveling by Floo again, after all those years of Apparition,” a familiar voice remarked mildly. He spoke so softly that his calm words were almost lost in the chaotic noise of the crowd that was now jostling to enter the room.
“Albus?” somebody asked uncertainly. “Is this true?”
“Let me through!” Arthur Weasley protested, elbowing everyone aside to push into the kitchen. “Molly? Molly! Is that Sirius?”
“Remus? Who is that?” Tonks cried. “Sirius?!”
“Oh, Arthur, it’s really him!” Molly Weasley could be heard bursting into sobs by the door.
There was some more scrambling, and then another equally familiar voice sounded, this one younger, more desperate. “Where is he? I don’t see him! Where is he?!”
Sirius pried his eyes open and released Remus, who backed away and sat down again. In the midst of the flood of Order members who were now coming down the stairs and staring at him in astonishment and tears, there stood a skinny young man with unruly black hair and round glasses. He peered uncertainly at Sirius, looking lost. “S-Sirius…?”
“Harry Potter,” Sirius said, wiping his eyes and holding out his arms to his godson. “It’s me. It really is.”
And without another word, Harry rushed towards him, and Sirius clapped his back and hugged him tightly. “Hello, Sirius,” Harry whispered, and that was all it took for Sirius to once again be at peace.
A/N: I should explain why I chose to concentrate part of the chapter on Kingsley. It might seem random and unnecessary, but Kingsley was the other adult who suffered injuries that night so I felt Sirius would relate. And for Remus to be the first human contact Sirius experiences after the veil would be altogether too harsh and traumatizing. He had to be eased into his comfort zone again.
This was compliant to HP5: In the book, Phineas had overheard Dumbledore and Harry and come to Grimmauld Place to see for himself. Don’t be disappointed by how little I included of other Order members, because all their reactions would’ve been similar, making it quite redundant. I DID write about Remus and Harry, as requested. =]
Now that it’s finished, I'd love OPINIONS. Best chapter? Worst chapter? Was the ending good or bad? Anything I should’ve included? I’d love your input on the entire story.
*sniff, sniff* and now I leave you with my first completed work. =]