Chapter 1 : The World Keeps Spinning
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Author's Note: Okay, this piece is written as a companion to “When I'm Gone” by Red Pheonix, with her permission, since I liked her story so much, despite the loose ends. It begins at the very end of hers. I hope you all like it.
Life After Death
Chapter 1: The World Keeps Spinning
Remus left the cliff, though he looked back longingly a few times. He couldn't help but get the feeling that Sirius was there, perhaps standing as a sentinel at the precipice, ready to push him back from the edge. He shrugged his shoulders sadly. It was impossible. Sirius was dead. Gone. He wasn't coming back.
After taking a moment to think, he remembered that his friend wouldn't want him to grieve like this, even though it was hard. Sirius would want him to think back on their happier, more carefree days. And he'd want him to look after Harry. Merlin knows that boy needed looking after. He was so lost in his thoughts that at first he didn't register that someone had said his name.
“Remus! What were you doing here?” Tonks asked, wiping a few stray tears from her cheeks. He noticed her eyes looked red and puffy.
“Thinking,” he answered softly. “Just...thinking.”
“Well, think somewhere a little further from a cliff next time,” Tonks said acidly. Remus got the distinct impression that she knew what he had been about to do before reason caught up with him. “I can't handle losing another close friend so soon,” she added, fresh tears rolling down the trails blazed earlier.
“You won't,” he promised, taking her hand in his. “Come on. Let's go see how Harry's holding up.”
“I think Hermione's recovered,” Tonks said. “I'm not sure what spell she got hit with, but Harry seems to have found a way to bring her back. I think he borrowed Dumbledore's Phoenix.”
“Well, then, she can hold him until he finds out none of us blames him for what happened,” Remus said. Tonks pulled back a little, looking at him curiously.
“I may not know him all that well, but would he ser… er… really do that? Would he blame himself?”
“Yes, he would,” Remus answered definitively. “It's one of the major drawbacks of leaving him with the Dursleys.”
“Yeah, go to Harry,” Sirius said, even though he knew no one could see or hear him. “Harry needs help to get through this.”
Remus and Tonks vanished with a loud crack, and reappeared at the Hogwarts gates, still holding hands. They walked through the gates, though they had no idea where to begin looking for a depressed boy of fifteen who liked to avoid people.
“Come on! Go to the lake!” Sirius urged them on, silently. “It's not his time, either, and Hermione Granger isn't there!” He ran on ahead, and looked back as though expecting them to see and follow.
“Perhaps we should try the lake, first,” Remus suggested. “It's quiet down there, and I believe Hermione liked to go there to think when the library was no comfort.”
“Lead the way, then,” Tonks said, hoping he didn't realize he was still holding her hand. He didn't.
When they reached the shores of the massive, black lake, they saw Harry sitting alone. They noticed with dismay that there was no head of brown hair leaning over Harry in comfort. “Tonks, could you go get Hermione? Maybe she hasn't heard the news yet.”
“I'll be right back,” she said, leaning up and giving him a quick peck on the cheek. “You're a good man.” He stared after her in surprise as she ran off.
Tonks returned a few moments later, with a frantic Hermione in tow. The look on Hermione's face told Remus that she hadn't known Sirius had been killed in the battle.
“Except I'm not really dead if I'm still here, am I?” Sirius asked desperately.
“Oh Harry! I didn't know!” Hermione moaned as she wrapped her arms around Harry and sobbed onto his chest. Her sudden appearance seemed the catalyst that allowed Harry to really grieve. The four of them sat there with their arms around each other as they shared their grief for Sirius' passing. And, unknown by all, Sirius wrapped his ethereal arms around the entire group and held them in a loving embrace.
“I know you guys miss me,” Sirius said sadly. “But it's not your time to join me yet, you hear? You have to go on living, prank Snape a couple more times, start families of your own as you were always meant to do.”
It seemed hours before they could stand up and walk again, and they needed food. Harry solved the problem of going all the way back to the castle by just calling Dobby and asking for food. They ate there, by the shores of the lake at sunset, and began to remember the good times they'd had with Sirius. Remus had the most stories to tell, as he had known Sirius the longest.
“Harry, tell them about the time you thought I was the Grim,” Sirius suggested. No one heard, least of all Harry.
“Which time?” James asked, coming up behind Sirius.
“James! But, you're dead!” Sirius said, jumping up.
“Well, so are you, and you need to really accept it before you can move on and join us,” James said. “But first you have a chance to do something we weren't able to: look after our son and our friends.”
“We didn't stay like this when we died because it was our time to move on,” Lily explained mournfully. “You passed through the Veil of Death in the Ministry while you were fighting Bellatrix. You weren't ready to die yet. Now it's up to you to be a sort of guardian angel for all four of them, and when Remus and sweet young Nymphadora come up here, Harry and Hermione won't need watching anymore.”
“I'll do it,” Sirius promised. “I'll watch over them.”
“We knew you would,” James said as he and Lily faded away. Sirius noticed afterward that Remus, Tonks, Harry, and Hermione had left.
Sirius stood proudly in the Best Man's spot a year later when Remus and Tonks eloped. Otherwise, they were alone except for the line of people behind them at Gretna Green, waiting to have the exact same ceremony performed.
He put his head in his hands six weeks later and howled as Harry told Remus off for abandoning his now pregnant wife.
“Come on, Remus! James would never have done something so low!” Sirius yelled, forgetting in his anger that no one could hear him.
Luckily, Harry said almost the same thing, which had Sirius nodding along with him. “See, listen to James' son!”
In April, Sirius was still following his best friend and godson through their lives, so as to be there to welcome Remus when his time actually came. He cheered silently along with the rest when he followed Remus to Shell Cottage to share the news of Teddy Lupin's birth. “Another Marauder has been born,” Sirius announced proudly.
Harry looked shocked when Remus named him godfather to little Teddy, but Sirius nodded, smiling. “You're just about ready for it, pup,” he said. “You can do it, and you...should...have Hermione's help.”
In May, Sirius was ready to welcome Remus and Tonks to the afterlife, even though it was terrible that their son would be an orphan. “Now you can see James again, Remus,” Sirius said. “No need to jump off a cliff.”
“I knew it,” Tonks said. “I knew that's what you were going to do, Remus.”
“It's time for us all to move on,” Sirius said. “Harry and Hermione don't need us anymore.”
“Hey, wait a minute, Sirius, if you've been here beside us all along, then were you watching us when...?” Remus trailed off, going red.
“Nope, I left you kids alone for those,” Sirius said, for once not joking.
“Are you sure they don't need us anymore?” Remus asked.
“Yeah,” Sirius said, sighing. His heart nearly broke to say it, but he had to do it. He had to finally let go, and let Harry and Hermione prove that there was indeed life after death. The three of them turned to the light, and stepped in, finally greeting James and Lily Potter.
Hermione's heart broke when Hagrid brought Harry's body back. She had never actually told Harry that she loved him. She just made sure, as always, that she was there for him when he needed her. When she was hurt in the Department of Mysteries, by Dolohov's curse, she wasn't aware of anything going on around her. She hadn't known until Tonks came to get her that possibly the worst thing that could have happened during the battle had happened. The Veil that stood in the center of the room, probably for centuries uncounted, had claimed the only father figure Harry had ever known.
She had known from the moment she wrapped her arms around Harry that sad, lonely day by the lake that she loved him with a love so true, so pure that no form of evil could stand in its way. She had just made the mistake of not telling Harry she loved him, and now it was too late.
Until his arm swayed more than a dead arm is wont to sway from the movement of carrying a limp body. Then she knew. Harry had to be alive, and this show was simply for Voldemort's benefit. Playing the part she felt thrust on her, she let out a blood-curdling scream of pure anguish.
Hagrid lowered Harry reverently to the ground behind Voldemort and Hermione lunged forward with Neville, who still needed to avenge his parents. What Voldemort still had no knowledge of was the training of the DA, who had been more active than ever this past year.
Neville covered Hermione, and used that cover to slip her Gryffindor's sword, which he had used to kill Nagini fifteen minutes before. “Take it, give it to him!” he hissed in her ear before facing down Voldemort and Bellatrix.
The Dark Lord and his favorite Death Eater, out of some twisted sense of mercy, stepped aside so Hermione could run to the man she loved, who they really believed was dead. When Hermione reached Harry's side she cradled him in her arms and whispered to him until he woke up. She handed him the sword wordlessly, and they leaped up.
Voldemort never saw it coming. With an incomprehensible shriek Harry leaped on him and drove the sword to its hilt into the Dark Lord's chest, then he performed the killing blow by pulling Hermione into a soul-searing kiss. “Love conquers all, Tommy,” he said after releasing Hermione.
Bellatrix stood there horrified, transfixed by the scene that had just unfolded before her very eyes.
“Harry, can I borrow the sword?” Hermione asked, keeping one eye on the Death Eater at all times.
“Course you can, love,” Harry said, giving what remained of Voldemort's body a kick.
Hermione took the sword and walked up to a suddenly fearful Bellatrix, her gait purposeful. “You have a lot of crimes to answer for, but this is probably the most important. You killed Sirius Black, and took Neville Longbottom's parents from him.” And with that pronouncement, she killed Bellatrix.
* * *
Epilogue: Four Months Later
Harry and Hermione Potter returned from their honeymoon to Oahu, and moved into their first house together. It had been a quiet wedding, only friends and family present, and now they were ready to begin their lives together as husband and wife.
“There's only one thing missing,” Harry said as he surveyed their dream house, which was nearly complete with a white picket fence.
“And what's that, love?” she asked.
“A family,” he replied. “Our family. Teddy needs brothers and sisters to play with.”
“Good point,” Hermione said, lacing her fingers through her husband's as they watched the sun sink past the horizon.
They turned to go back into their house, never knowing that somewhere up there, someone was watching, still. “Yeah,” Sirius whispered, his voice like a breath of wind rustling through the trees. “Now we're finished.”
* * * *
This one may not have our usual set of readers. But I still encourage anyone who has any feedback to leave a review.
Also, everyone should know (or be reminded) that auror_snape and I deal only in Harmony. Pretty much nothing else except the occasional Red Moon or Lily/James, I think.
And a lot of schools here in the United States are getting out for Summer around now (Wednesday, May 20, 2009), so Happy Summer to everyone!
Please review and thanks for reading.