Chapter 28 : Departing Thoughts
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Chapter 27 - Departing Thoughts
Tense was the room as the portrait of Severus Snape glared at who he believed to be Regulus Black. Regulus Articus Black, RAB, was the mysterious younger brother of Sirius Black, Harry's godfather. Regulus was the Death Eater who had switched sides upon learning of Voldermort's Horcruxes. Regulus, who had supposedly died from poisoning after his betrayal to the Dark Lord. Regulus, who should have been lying at the bottom of the Inferi filled lake within an unknown cave. Regulus, who stood before them now, alive and well.
Before anyone could react, the door swung open. McGonnagall stepped in, her face flushed and her wand poised in hand. Her thin lips were parted, panting slightly, but ready to relay what she urgently needed to. But upon seeing Regulus Black, she swiftly raised the tip of her want at him, her eyes filled with wary apprehension. Yet, Regulus continued to grin happily, though both his bare hands were raised in a sign of surrender. Smiling innocently, he greeted his former teacher with pleasant glee, unperturbed by the increased tension in the office room.
The door remained opened to allow the entrance of someone Harry and his friends had never seen before. The stranger stood tall and large with his hair like treads of copper and eyes as brown as hazelnut. There was a rugged look about his face, though handsome he certainly was. Unlike Regulus who looked like he had just returned from ancient Persia, this man was wearing what seemed like modern Muggle clothes made of some rough material they could not discern. His sleeveless, black shirt seemed to suit his laidback look perfectly, as his dark grey cargo pants told of his being a hands-on worker, if his large, rough looking hands hadn't already. Around his hips hung a wide belt that store within its many pockets and slits various metal tools of all manners, some with wires that linked to the tools upon his armband. His hands held a long sleeved jacket of the same make as his pants, and his feet were protected by thick, black, leather boots. Upon his collar sat a pair of strange looking goggles, and on his face was a slight frown.
"Please try not to kill him," he requested of McGonagall politely. "We can't afford to lose any of our best healers just yet."
"Ah, Riley. You're late," Regulus reprimanded the newcomer in a joking manner.
He received a glare in return. "That's because you suddenly changed the location. Do you have any idea how troublesome it is to operate that thing?"
He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry, sorry, but I just got back, so I didn't have much energy left to go where we originally arranged."
"Yes, and now I have to make sure that gate holds for much longer than anticipated, because we have to calculate in the time we need to go over to the house," he complained offhandedly. "I see you've earned a tan again."
"You mean a near-sunburn. Three months in the desert doesn't really agree with me." As if just realising the rest of the people in the room he turned to the portrait. "Relax, Severus. I'm not here to cause trouble. I'm just here to help." Looking at his former professor he smiled, "It's been a very long time, Professor McGonagall. You look well. I'd love to have a chat with you, but since Riley's here now, I've got work to do. Where are the patients?"
"What patients?" Snape asked suspiciously.
"The Longbottoms, of course." Ignoring the portrait once more, he turned to his companion, "They are by the lake?"
"You were the ones that kidnapped them? What are you planning to do to them?" Ron Weasley demanded.
"I didn't. He did," he pointed to Riley, accusing him in jest. "And I'm a healer. What do you think?" he asked the young man with a mysterious smile and faded out of existence.
"What in bloody hell?" Ron exclaimed what was on everybody's mind.
"Tch. That lying bastard. He's got more than enough energy," Riley muttered heatedly. "Well, you heard him," he told the room with a surrendering shrug, "They'll be all at the lake so you can go and find them there if you want. I've got something to do, so I'll go first. It's good to see you again, Professor McGonagall, and I'm sorry we won't be able to catch up with each other."
With a courteous bow to the stern woman, he too faded away into nothing.
No more was said as the whole living group rushed down to the mentioned place. There they found the proclaimed healer sitting upon the grass and facing Alice Longbottom, one of his hand holding hers and the other upon her temple. There was a grimace on his face as greenish light glowed beneath the hand that touched her head. They rushed towards him, some to figure out what he was doing and others with a mind to stop him in case he was causing her harm. They were stopped, however, by Frank who stood between them with his arms raised like a wall.
"Mr. Longbottom, please move," Hermione pleaded to the brunette.
Frank shook his head. "He's not hurting her," he told them calmly. "Please trust him."
It was a shock to all to hear the deep voice resonating from a man who had been silent for two decades. His plea had them standing still and watching helplessly as Regulus continued his work. It didn't take long, though. Within a few minutes, the glow faded away and Alice, who had had her eyes closed, opened them to look around her. Upon the sight of her husband, she smiled warmly. She ran up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist as he did so around her. Turning back to the healer, they both smiled gratefully as they thanked him.
"Don't worry about it," he told them with a smile. "I only did this as a favour to someone. You should be more or less back to your original state of mind before Bella's work, but I can't guarantee all your memories are in tact. You'll probably also find using magic or understanding certain things to be rather... difficult, but if you try hard enough, you should be back to normal sooner or later. I can't heal everything, you have to do the rest yourselves," he explained to them honestly. "Would someone mind calling their family?"
Without further ado, Harry sent his Patronus to inform Neville about his parents who now seemed well and sane once again. Almost as soon as the message had reached their friend, he and his grandmother arrived through the chimney of the headmaster's office and hurried to the lake where his parents stood waiting. They smiled at him and old Mrs. Longbottom, and the family had their heartfelt reunion. Harry looked at the healer to find him smiling sadly at the reunited family.
"Thank you," Harry told him quietly.
Regulus looked at the younger man. "You must be the Potters' son. You look like your father."
Harry smiled. "Yes, I've been told that."
He had wanted to remark on the likeness between Regulus and Sirius, but kept silent. He was unsure of the reception of the comment. His fears were unfounded as the older man asked with a grin, "And I look a lot like my brother?"
Harry could do no more than nod.
"You're curious about my brother." It wasn't even a question. It was like he knew what was going on in his mind. "I'm a healer of body and mind. I can tell yours is occupied by something. The way you look at me tells me it's either about my history or Sirius's. But I suppose it had to be Sirius because, after all, he was your godfather."
"How did you know? About him being my godfather, I mean. I thought you disappeared even before I was born."
"It's James Potter and Sirius Black. It's not hard to guess. But I'm sure that's not all you're interested in."
"I... I want to know how you escaped from the cave. I know you stole the Horcrux after Kreacher came back to tell you about it."
Regulus smiled with reminiscence. "I had help. I really thought I was going die when I handed that thing to Kreacher. I was going to die. And would have too if it weren't for a good friend of mine. I don't know the full story, since I was unconscious for the most part, but from what I was told, she had someone retrieve me from that cave and placed me with the best healers they had. 'Stuffed through a bag', that's what they tease me about now. Don't even ask me about the Inferi. They never said a word about what happened there. By the time I came to, I was far away from home and long considered dead by everyone here...
"I never came back. I'd always longed to be free of the Dark Lord, and that was my chance... I still wanted to come back, though. I was given a second chance at life, so I knew it meant something. I had wanted to come back here to help everyone, but I couldn't. I wasn't allowed back. I'm supposed to be dead here, so I wasn't allowed to get involved..." he trailed off, suddenly adding, "How is Kreacher, by the way?"
"He's fine. Happier now. I gave him your locket--- the one you replaced the Horcrux with." Regulus looked pleased at the answer and said no more of the subject. Harry looked at him with confusion as he thought of his explanation. "But who was stopping you?"
He shrugged. "Fate, I suppose. Things that shouldn't exist in this world should remain in inexistence. That is the rule."
"That's what Professor Dumbledore told us earlier."
"Then we must have heard it from the same person," he commented with a puzzling smile.
In the distance, he could hear someone crying out his name. His chest was filled with pain, but for only an instant. His vision darkened, and the hated vision of his cousin's face slowly disappeared. Something soft and velvet-like enveloped him and pulled him away slowly into the darkness. He knew he was dying; there was no doubt in his mind he was.
It was terrifying, the thought of death. Regret filled his whole being as he thought of the ones he would leave behind, but as the cold darkness shrouded his vision, soft whispers in his ear told the tale of a long forgotten memory.
Soft and melodic, the voice murmured into the darkness that surrounded him, "Home ruler... It means home ruler."
"The midnight sky... and home ruler..." The hushed voice that followed was his own, though it did not come from him. "Henrietta... I like it... And if you had a boy?"
"Harry. I'd name him Harry."
He had always wondered why the name had so charmed him. There were a million others he could have picked at that time, but it was Harry that he chose in the end. If it had been a girl, Henrietta would have been her name. Of everything that had been ripped away from him, this single emotional tie remained, and with the repossession of these quiet murmurs, a word sang to him like no other. He repeated it again and again in his mind.
Réatra... means midnight.
He held the name to his heart and smiled, his mind filled with tranquil bliss. Those were his last thoughts as the Veil completely consumed him.
"You can't stay here forever," a deep voice spoke from behind him. "Come. Everyone is waiting for you."
He turned back to find a tall man with ruffled hair and a worn pair of spectacles. On his face was a look of disapproval as his lips were set between a frown and an expressionless line. Behind him stood a woman, who held upon her visage a sympathetic gaze.
He sighed and turned back to look into the white scenery before him as he sat alone on the bench. He watched as each snowflake fell to the white ground that stopped just before it reached his feet. There was nothing else but the cold white snow, yet his friends were unable see the same view he saw. "I'll wait. You two go ahead. Harry's safe now."
"She may not come here," an old, weathered voice warned him as a man in white approached him. He placed a hand upon the younger man's shoulder and gave him an apologetic smile. The old man had never forgotten about the one he waited for, yet he feigned the memory loss of her that everyone else had truly suffered. He had only recently informed the younger man of this and apologized profoundly. He was easily forgiven--- after all, he only did as instructed.
He looked up at the wizened wizard and returned a smile of his own. "Still... I'll wait."
The old wizard shook his head and left, boarding onto a bright red train at the deserted platform. The bespectacled man, too, shook his head while giving way to a sigh of defeat. He wrapped an arm around the woman's shoulders and led her away to the waiting train. She looked back at their waiting friend. There was nothing more she could do for him.
She could do naught but smile warmly at him. "Goodbye, Sirius."
Sirius Black waved adieu to his two friends, and they disappeared into the train. It whistled loudly as the metal wheels began to turn. Within moments, the large red train hastened away along the tracks that vanished into the white fog. When it was finally gone, all was silent again.
Staring patiently into the white snow, he waited.
There was no concept of time in the deserted station platform where Sirius sat. It seemed an eternity, yet feeling as if no time had passed at all. Everything was peaceful. Everything was silent except for the occasional visitors it got, who just as soon stepped on to the waiting train that had returned to transport more passengers into the unknown white fog. None of these visitors paid any mind to him and it was just as fine with him. He didn't want to talk to anyone and was contented to be left alone to recall any fragment of memory he had of the one he so longed to see once more.
It was while attempting to regain his memories of her that he sensed another soul close by. He looked to his left to find a boy sitting beside him on the same bench. There were plenty other empty seats, yet he chose this.
The boy looked no older than fifteen. He had on what could only be described as a sleeveless robe of white silk that wrapped itself around his body like a bathrobe, held in place at his waist by a complex looking belt of black leather and red lining that split into three at one side of his hips. Underneath the strange shroud, he wore simple loose pants and high collar shirt that was as black as his belt, though they seemed to be made of cotton. He wore simple boots of the same leather with red thread linings. His outfit was odd, but nothing compared to the contrasting colour of the eyes beneath his thick black fringe. The right was as blue as the sapphire sky, while the left was brown like hazelnuts. He had a nice set of defined jaws and full lips that seemed to bear a constant smile. His was a handsome face that greatly reminded Sirius of someone he couldn't place his tongue on. They boy's left ear was pierced, a stud of black opal within it.
The boy looked towards the snow white field and sighed, his body weight resting on his knees. "It's peaceful here," his low voice had a strange tone to it.
"Hm," was all Sirius did to show his agreement to the statement.
"Sometimes I wish I could just stay here forever, but I can't."
Sirius gave him a tentative look, but said nothing.
"It's irritating, you know, to be able to come here anytime you want but never able to stay for long."
The older man scrunched his brows together. "What do you mean, come here anytime?"
The boy turned to him and smiled innocently. "Exactly what I said."
This puzzling case spurned on another memory in him about her. Perhaps it was death that had revived his stolen memories, perhaps it was the Veil he fell through that triggered it, but his memories came back to him with much more ease and without the headaches that he used to have when trying to remember things about that certain someone.
"Every single time I came though, I noticed you're always here... well, from the time you died of course. Aren't you ever going to get on board that train?"
Sirius turned back to look at the red train that had quietly returned some time ago to wait for new passengers. He looked back at the snow. "I'm waiting for someone. I'll go after I've seen them."
"So you're expecting her to come from that snowy part, are you?"
"That's a hopeless cause," he told him with a smile still on his face. When Sirius looked at him questioningly, he responded, "This is not the only place people go to when they die. It just happens to be one of the more popular... for Hogswarts's students that is. Depending on what is significant to them, that is the place they arrive at upon death. There person you're waiting for may arrive at a different place."
"Then how do I get to these other places?" he asked, though he had hoped this was her significant place too.
The boy shook his head solemnly. "You don't. Once you get here, you're stuck to one location. That's when you must choose to wait or cross over to the other side. Don't ask me what's on the other side, though. I don't know that either. I'm only allowed on this side of the plane."
"Then how are separated people supposed to meet?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. On the other side perhaps? No one knows."
"You said you could come and go as you pleased. How do you do that? And why can't you go to the other side?"
"Just an ability I was born with. And I can't crossover because obviously I'm not dead yet. I can also go into other locations of this plane and talk to anyone in it. I come onto this plane quite often, though most of the time I'm just passing."
"What are you?"
"Dimension-Traveller, Shadow-Walker, Medium... there are lots of names for my kind. My mother never really elaborated and frankly, I don't really care. But the problem is you're just sitting here waiting for someone that will never arrive."
"How would you know they'd never arrive?"
"Because I know where she'd go if and when she dies."
Sirius looked at the boy incredulously. He wasn't sure if the boy was spouting lies or if he was just some crazy teenager that had died recently. Though it was remarkable that he guessed right the gender, but that could've been a mere lucky coincidence. Perhaps he was some force sent to convince him to board the waiting train and venture into the unknown as his friends did before him.
"There's a special place that she'll go to when that happens... though it won't happen until she's completed her duties, which will be quiet a long while I think. You can wait for eternity here, and you still won't get a glimpse of her. You should just go. You never know; you might meet her there when she goes, too."
His suspicion that the boy was sent to convince him to leave was proven right. He had a feeling it would happen, but he refused to submit. Shaking his head, he remained stubborn, "I will wait. Even if it's an eternity."
The smile had never left the boy's face, even as he gave a defeated sigh. "Do you really want to see her that much?"
"Yes. Just one last time, if nothing else."
"Will you truly be satisfied by just that?"
"Well, there is a way for you to get out of here. You have a choice to go back."
"I have?" he asked, hope rising in his chest.
The boy nodded. "You'll have to live out your life anew, though. I mean you'll still be in your own body but you'll have to take a new identity. You're supposed to be dead, but by some twisted fate, you seemed to have been gifted with the choice. So Sirius Black can't be back, unless... never mind that; I'll explain later if you manage to return. Basically you can't go back as yourself."
"I'm not sure what that really means, but I want to go back. I want to see her again--- just one more time. And my godson, too, if possible."
"I can even help you get to see her after you return. But you're on your own after that. The truth may be painful though. Are you still willing to take it?"
"Alright. But don't say I didn't warn you. After this, I'm washing my hands off you. I can't upset my mother too much with my disobedience or I'll be in trouble so deep I can't wriggle my way out of like I used to."
"Alright then, this is what you need to do."
He followed instructions as precisely as he could. It sounded simple enough. All he had to do was to close his eyes and imagine himself alive again. In fact, it sounded too easy he really doubted it was true. He was proven wrong. It was more complicated than he had thought. He tried everything, but he still found himself stuck in the darkness that surrounded him as soon as he began the process. The boy had disappeared along with the platform, so he had no one to turn to. His only hope to get through or get back was to try and try again. So he closed his eyes and imagined.
He thought back to the time he was the happiest. He thought back to the time he was alive with his closest friends. He thought back to the time he had with her--- the last day he ever had with her. He wished with all his might to see her once again. He wished to see her smile once again, if nothing more.
It must have been working because the black darkness slowly greyed to give way to the light that soon enveloped his whole world. Jumbled sounds reached his ears first after everything had turned completely white. Taking shape directly in his immediate view was a face--- one so familiar he thought he was merely dreaming.
He blinked once. The face remained, but much clearer before. Harry's worried expression was what he could make out once the background began to form within his vision.
"Sirius?" Harry's voice assured him that his godson's face would not disappear into thin air like he supposed it would in a dream.
"Harry?" he responded, his own voice sounding strange to his ears.
Harry seemed speechless. He, himself, wasn't quite sure what was happening. The view of the room and its occupants told him that he was no longer at the train platform. In fact, the room was, to him, proverbial.
"I see you've made it. You must've wanted to see her that badly," the boy's voice made him look at its source.
The young teenager looked as he did at the platform. He was sitting casually upon one of the stools that had been scattered across the living room to accommodate all the people that sat watching him. Most of them he knew. He recognized Harry's two best friends and the Weasleys' oldest son and only daughter. With them were his former teacher, Minerva McGonagall and Fleur Delacour, the student from Beauxbatons Academy who had participated in the Triwizard Tournament Hogwarts had held the year before he died. The latter had her arms hooked with the Weasleys' son, Bill, so he suspected they were either dating or married. Next to them was a young girl that looked much like Fleur, whom he suspected to be the younger sister he had heard of from Harry and his friends. She was smiling flirtatiously at the boy, and on occasions he noticed her, he would smile charmingly back. Finally, sitting together as a group with the teenage boy who had guided him out of the platform were a pair of oddly dressed men who looked more familiar than was comfortable for him. One had skin as fair as snow and the other, a glowing shade of golden brown. The darker of the two smiled softly at him, startling him with the resemblance to himself.
"Glad to see you back, Sirius," Regulus's cheery voice spilled from the lips of the dark skinned one.
"Regulus?" Sirius muttered warily as he eyed his younger brother with suspicion. He had deduced his missing younger brother to be a Death Eater from a long time ago.
"Easy there," the teenage boy interfered the tension that seemed to build up between the brothers, though Regulus did nothing but smile with ease. "You don't have to worry about him. He's no longer a Death Eater," he informed Sirius as Regulus lifted both bare arms to reveal them to be clean of the Dark Mark. Instead, the inside of his wrist held a small tattoo of an unrecognizable flower. "In any case, it would be rude of me not to properly introduce myself. My name is Garahi Artax Seiharid Séha, but please call me Sei'ra. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Black."
"Artax?" Sirius asked confusedly. The name sounded strangely familiar.
The boy smiled. "Yes. Artaxiad--- or Arta, as he's known among his friends--- is my father."
Sirius suddenly recalled the tall and lean man that had visited Réatra's mansion those many Christmases ago. Looking at the boy more closely, Sirius could see the two were related, though the boy had more distinguishable handsome features than his father did. He supposed they were his mother's qualities.
The man with the fair skin sighed heavily as he looked at the boy. "How much longer must we wait? There are a few things I need to get back to."
Sirius observed the man as he waited for a response from the boy. The man's copper hair shone against the sunlight that leaked through the partially closed curtains. He soon recognized the man to be none other than the young boy whom Réatra had taken under her wing so long ago. Memories of Riley had disappeared with those of her, but after passing through the veil, he slowly, but surely, regained what memories he had lost. His heart was once again filled with the hopes of seeing her once again.
Sei'ra sighed. "Please bear with me for a bit longer. I was debating whether I should agree to Mr. Potter's request."
The whole room was quiet as they waited for what seemed to be the final judgement. It seemed that they had already been acquainted before his awakening and none were telling him anything about it.
"Alright," he finally decided. "Two months. That should be sufficient time for you to find out what you need."
"Two months? Isn't that a bit long?" Ron exclaimed suddenly. "All Harry needs to do is ask a few questions!"
Riley looked at the other red-head. "Oh, trust me. He's going to need all the time he can get to get any answers out of her. She's not the easiest person to talk to."
Ignoring the two, Regulus looked at the boy worriedly. "Your mother's going to skin you alive for this." When he only responded with a shrug and a defeated sigh, a look of suspicion clouded his face. "What are you scheming now?"
Sei'ra merely smiled innocently back.
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