Chapter 4 : Chapter Four.
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~ Hollow ~ Through the Veil ~ Skywards ~
The house was shattered. Walls, chairs, books and beds had been blasted to pieces; but their destruction was as nothing compared to the true loss that night at Godric’s Hollow. History, memories, a family... gone. Obliterated forever. A lone figure stood amongst the wreckage, suddenly looking very small and extremely vulnerable. He was staring at the great wound in the roof of the house, through which he could see the night sky. He could not look at the devastation surrounding him anymore; everywhere he looked, Sirius saw something wrong. It was all wrong. Nothing was where it belonged. The sofa was upturned in the kitchen; Lily’s favourite green coat was floating in the pond. Harry was not safely in the arms of his parents, but was bleeding and screaming against the heaving chest of his godfather.
‘You can hold him,’ Lily smiled. ‘He won’t break.’
Sirius looked down at the tiny creature in her arms, certain that it was in fact the most fragile thing he’d ever seen. James sat down next to Sirius, taking the baby in the span of two hands and carefully placing him on Sirius’s lap. Sirius cautiously slid his fingers beneath the baby and raised him up to his face. He stared at the tiny, downturned mouth, the dark eyelashes and silky hair... little fingers were curled into fists that twitched gently as the baby snuffled and sighed.
‘Woah,’ Sirius whispered.
‘Yeah,’ James agreed, as Lily laughed quietly.
‘Harry, right?’ Sirius turned to the new parents, both of whom were beaming at him, rather than the baby.
Lily nodded. ‘Harry James.’
Sirius inspected the baby again. ‘Well, I can’t say I’m not hurt. Little Sirius Potter would’ve been ideal, but I suppose Harry’s a good name.’ He grinned and leaned in conspiratorially towards the baby, his dark hair swinging past Harry’s face. ‘I personally had to talk your dad out of calling you ‘Elvendork’, so you can thank me for that later.’
Harry wriggled in Sirius’s grip, distracting him from his scattered thoughts. He’d been wondering at the lack of a Dark Mark glittering above the ruined house; all he could see, past the devastated mural on the nursery ceiling, past the shattered roof of the house, were the stars winking down at him as always. Sirius looked down at Harry and saw the blood trickling from the child’s forehead into his wide green eyes. Carefully he brushed a thumb across the little face, trying to help but merely smudging the crimson stain further. Harry was bleeding... the baby was bleeding, and his home was destroyed, and his parents... Oh God, his parents... Sirius could not prevent his eyes from turning towards the floor once again, to where Lily was lying, motionless.
Her skin was as white as the flower for which she was named, and the expression on her face was not one of shock, or fear, but of anger. James’s face had been blank. Sirius had nearly tripped over him as he’d run up to the house; James had clearly been trying to bar the way. The thought of his best friend’s last actions before death had only occurred to Sirius once he’d stopped vomiting, had shouldered his way past the debris to run upstairs, searching for Lily and Harry. The baby had been in his cot, his chubby little hands reaching through the wooden bars towards his mother’s lifeless body. Sirius had stared for a long moment, the horror about to overwhelm him, when Harry had looked up at him with confusion writ heartbreakingly over his little face.
‘Suss!’ the baby had squeaked, his voice thin and hoarse from crying. ‘Suss!’
‘Did you hear that?’ Sirius laughed. ‘I think he’s trying to say my name!’
James looked down at his best friend, who had spent most of the morning chasing after Harry, shuffling around the living room on the knees of his threadbare jeans. ‘Sounds more like ‘ass’ to me,’ he smirked, earning himself a flick on the ankle. James grinned and crouched down to look at his son. ‘Harry, can you say, ‘Sirius’?’ he asked, ruffling the boy’s hair. It was just like his; black and unruly. James took delight in messing Harry’s hair up, particularly enjoying Lily’s amused exasperation at seeing her handiwork with the hairbrush ruined.
‘Suss!’ the baby said again. He toddled towards Sirius’s lap, which he patted clumsily. ‘Suss!’
Sirius laughed, wrapping his arms around the kid in a hug, from which Harry easily wriggled free.
‘That’s so cool,’ said Sirius. ‘What else does he say?’
‘He can say ‘Mamma’, ‘Dadda’, ‘cat’, ‘wand’ and ‘broom’,’ said James proudly. ‘I’m trying to teach him to say ‘Quidditch’, but it’s a bit of a mouthful.’
‘Boom!’ squeaked Harry. ‘Boom, Dadda!’
James rolled his eyes as he scooped Harry into the air and plonked him down on the miniature working broomstick Sirius had sent as a birthday gift a couple of months previously.
‘He loves this thing.’
‘Damn right, it’s a brilliant gift. Wish I’d had one.’
‘You still would never have made the team,’ James jibed, as he and Sirius settled themselves onto the sofa to watch Harry zoom around the floor. The Potters had not planned on baby-proofing the house too much until Harry was really walking; however, the broomstick had come into their lives a little before that event, and it had been a scramble to cover sharp edges, move anything remotely magical out of reach, and to create a safe haven for the cat on top of the bookshelf.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. ‘I’m just happier on two wheels. Come on, you’d get a motorbike too, if you thought Lily would let you.’
James gave a hollow laugh. ‘Even if I did get a bike, I wouldn’t be able to ride it anywhere.’
Sirius shifted uncomfortably. ‘Ah, James... you know it’s for your own good. It’s the only way we could keep you all safe.’
‘By imprisoning us here?’ said James hotly. ‘You have no idea how frustrating it is, not being able to just go somewhere, or to help with the Order, or even just go flying for an hour.’
‘You’re right; I don’t know what that’s like, and I’m sure it’s really rubbish.’ said Sirius, trying to keep his voice calm. ‘But I’d hardly call living with your family in safety ‘imprisonment’.’
James looked as though his renowned temper was about to flare into anger, but Sirius saw his friend take a couple of steadying breaths. James removed his glasses and rubbed at the bridge of his nose.
‘I know. I’m sorry,’ he said, giving Sirius a sheepish look. ‘And I know that we’re safe in your hands.’
‘Yeah. Um, about that...’ said Sirius, pausing to applaud Harry as he zoomed past the sofa, giggling with joy. ‘...I’m not sure that you should make me your Secret Keeper.’
James stared at him. ‘Very funny.’
‘I’m not joking; I think You-Know-Who’s on to me.’
‘What the hell do you mean, ‘on to you’? Are you in danger?’ James hissed, trying not to let Harry hear the alarm in his voice.
Sirius ran a hand through his long hair and sighed. He’d known James would freak out. ‘I’ve had two run-ins with the Death-Eaters in the last week alone...’ he began. James nodded; this was quite normal for Sirius, who was often on the front lines of the war. ‘The thing is, they weren’t trying to kill me. I think they were trying to capture me.’
‘Oh shit...’ said James, ignoring the fact that Harry was hovering happily at his feet. ‘You mean they know you’re our Secret Keeper? But how?’
‘I think they have a spy in the Order,’ said Sirius grimly.
James’s face blanched. ‘Who?’
Sirius looked at James for a long moment, wondering whether he should reveal his suspicions about Remus. He was one of the very few people who knew that the Potters were going to use a Secret Keeper, never mind who they’d chosen; the others were Dumbledore and Peter, both of whom were the last people Sirius suspected of being a spy. Dumbledore was head of the fight against Voldemort, and Peter would never have the brains or guts to switch sides, or even to rouse Voldemort’s interest. Anyway, Wormtail worshipped James, would never endanger him. Sadly, that had left only Remus; clever, thoughtful, idealistic Remus. Sirius sighed, and decided he wouldn’t tell James - not until he knew for sure. So many things had fallen apart over the last few years; entire families had been wiped out, friendships had been destroyed...
‘I’m not sure,’ said Sirius.
‘What are we going to do?’ asked James, hauling his son up onto his lap. ‘I can’t believe this...’
‘Choose a new Secret Keeper,’ said Sirius.
James stared at him. ‘No.’
‘‘No’? That’s it?’
‘Exactly. You’re the person Lily and I trust most in the world,’ said James, pulling Harry closer. ‘There must be a way we can just keep you safe... maybe you could come into hiding too...’
Sirius shook his head. ‘They’d still find me. The fact is, they probably will find me, and when they do... I don’t want to have the power to reveal your location.’
‘So, you’ll just let them torture you, knowing you can’t tell the secret?’ asked James, horrified admiration on his face. ‘Sirius...’
‘James, I don’t want to get all soppy, but you know I’d die for you guys. Now that they probably know there’s going to be a Secret Keeper, they’ll be looking to me; I’m your best friend, it’s the obvious leap. That’s why they keep aiming for me recently. So you have to pick a new Secret Keeper.’
James gave Sirius a quizzical look. ‘Dumbledore?’ he asked.
Sirius shook his head. ‘No; I think Dumbledore and everyone else should be kept out of this. Make it a secret within a secret...’
‘A double bluff,’ James nodded in understanding. ‘So, who?’
‘Someone You-Know-Who would never even think of. Someone he’s probably never even heard of. Someone less... active in the Order; but someone you can trust nevertheless.’
‘Are you talking about Wormy?’ Lily said, from the doorway. James and Sirius both jumped, looking guilty.
‘It makes sense,’ said James, ruffling Harry’s hair once again. ‘That’s clever thinking, Sirius.’
Sirius grinned. ‘I know. Which is exactly why you should choose someone like Peter...’
Peter. Oh God, it was all Sirius’s fault. He’d suggested Peter; he’d fallen right into Voldemort’s trap, and taken James and Lily down with him. Sirius didn’t know how Harry had survived, but he clutched the child closer to him as the knowledge of Peter’s betrayal swept over him. When he’d gone to Peter’s hiding place, he’d been sure he would find the same friendly, open face that he’d grown up with. He’d felt sick as he’d realised Peter was missing; they must have found him... he had to get to James and Lily. It was only as he was urging his bike on, higher, faster, towards Godric’s Hollow that it occurred to him that there had been no signs of a struggle at Peter’s place.
Sirius swayed now at the thought of it; Wormtail had walked out of that place under his own steam, had gone to his master and handed the Potter family to him on a platter. A wave of nausea hit Sirius again as he realised what this meant; nobody but James, Peter and Lily knew that they’d selected a different Secret Keeper. It would look like Sirius had betrayed James and Lily... his best friends... their child... Oh God, what was he going to do? He’d have to track Peter down, of course - if Voldemort hadn’t got rid of him after he’d got the information he wanted. Yes... Sirius would take Harry, keep him safe until he could figure out what was going on... then find Wormtail and get him to confess the truth. God, he’d make the treacherous bastard squeal.
‘NO!’ The shout echoed through the crumbled walls. It made Sirius jump, and Harry, who had been lying exhaustedly against Sirius’s chest, started awake. Someone was downstairs, clattering and bashing about as they turned over smashed furniture; Sirius could hear great, gulping sobs coming from the intruder. Cautiously, with Harry held closely against him, Sirius made his way along the remains of the hallway, wand tip alight in the weak morning light.
‘Who’s there?’ a familiar voice rose through the house. ‘Show yerself!’
‘Hagrid?’ Sirius croaked, his throat burning and raw. ‘It’s me, Sirius.’
The stairs creaked as the Hogwarts gamekeeper hurried up them, his great shaggy head coming into view quickly. Sirius could see the shock on his old friend’s face. ‘Sirius!’ Hagrid said with relief, ‘Yeh’ve got Harry?’
‘Yes,’ Sirius managed.
‘Dumbledore told me ter come an’ get him, but... I don’ understand... Where’s Lily?’
Sirius nodded his head towards Harry’s bedroom, where the door was hanging from its hinges. Hagrid squeezed past Sirius, who was fighting the urge to just run, to get far away from the house and keep Harry safe. He was swaying on the spot, his mind so far away that Hagrid’s anguished howl of finding Lily’s body barely even reached him.
Sirius blinked as Hagrid laid an enormous hand on his shoulder. ‘I can’ believe it. James an’ Lily... dead...’ A shudder ran through Sirius’s body, and Hagrid gently tightened his grip on Sirius’s shoulder. ‘There’s nothing yer could have done,’ he said thickly; Sirius could hear that Hagrid was holding back tears, even as his own finally escaped.
Pressing his mouth to the top of Harry’s head, heedless of the tears falling into the little boy’s silky black hair, Sirius made his way down the stairs. Hagrid followed him, gulping back shuddering sobs. Sirius glanced towards the front door, where James’s body still lay. He could not walk that way again. Instead he picked a path across the ruins and rubble of the living room, to get out to the garden. The sun was rising and with it came the distant call of sirens and blue lights. Time to go. Sirius strode towards the motorbike.
‘I’m sorry, Hagrid, I have to go,’ he called over his shoulder.
‘But I told yer - I’m ter take Harry. Dumbledore’s orders,’ said Hagrid in consternation.
Sirius stopped, and turned to look at Hagrid. Behind him lay the ruins of everything he’d ever loved. And it had all been destroyed because he, Sirius Black, had thought he knew better than Dumbledore, was more cunning than Voldemort.
‘But...’ Sirius felt the child breathing sleepily in his arms as the sun rose on his first day as an orphan, and felt a tug at his heart. ‘Harry’s my godson, I’ll look after him.’
‘I’m sorry Sirius, but Dumbledore wants him ter go ter Lily’s sister in Surrey. I’m ter take him there now.’ Beneath his distress, Hagrid began to look determined. ‘I’ll take good care of ‘im. Just hand him over.’
Sirius glared at Hagrid, the kindly face giving Sirius the news that the life he had known was over. James and Lily would have wanted him to keep Harry... but he’d gone over Dumbledore’s head before, and it had ended in... in this. And it would not be long before Sirius was a wanted man, at least until he could get hold of Peter. He couldn’t care for Harry whilst he was on the run. Lily had rarely spoken of her sister after they’d fallen out, and Sirius couldn’t even remember the woman’s name. Peony, or Primrose or something... it didn’t matter. She’d probably be able to take better care of Harry than Sirius could right now. Shit. Sirius blinked back a fresh wave of tears. The logic, the cold fact of it all hit him at once. His old life was over.
Sirius pressed another kiss onto the top of Harry’s head, and passed him gently into Hagrid’s outstretched arms. He didn’t look back at the house, nor at Harry, nor at James’s broken body as he walked away.
Hagrid called after him. ‘Sirius... aren’t yer takin’ yer bike?’
Sirius glanced at the beloved motorcycle. ‘No. You take it, get Harry out of here,’ He swallowed bile. ‘I won’t need it any more.’
Sirius ran into the bleak morning mists and quickly disappeared from Hagrid’s view.
Through the Veil
Sirius glanced towards Harry; the boy was fighting with the strength and determination of a grown man. Suddenly, Sirius felt entirely free. A bubble of joy rose in his chest as he realised that this was what he had been waiting for ever since Wormtail had escaped - or perhaps even for many years before that night at the Shrieking Shack. Here was a chance to stand his ground, to throw his strength and anger and love for Harry into his wand and into a fight. Sirius had spent his whole life imprisoned; first by the family name, then by secrets - although he’d had three brothers who shared them - and then by the torments of Azkaban, from which he’d escaped only to find himself trapped in a web of lies and over-protection. But, like any lifelong prisoner, Sirius had been given tantalizing glimpses of blue sky, had snatched stolen moments in the sun. They had come to him in the form of James Potter’s laugh, Lily’s smile, the trust of those people who really mattered, and now - now, he was basking in the warmth of possibility. It was the possibility of a life truly his own, lived on his own terms, with the young man next to him as the ultimate ticket to his redemption.
As he watched, a streak of purple light flashed across Harry’s face; the boy looked stunned, and fell heavily to the floor next to young Neville. The Death Eater pointed his wand at Harry’s limp hand, about to try and summon the glass prophecy; but Sirius could not clearly see this, as he was already running through the red mist before him... he leapt, knocked heavily into Dolohov, sent the bastard flying. Sirius glanced down and saw that Harry had managed to keep hold of the prophecy. A curse flew past Sirius’s face... he felt the heat of it; he whirled around and slashed with his wand... Dolohov ducked, snarled, raised his wand... the man’s lips barely had time to form the incantation when, from somewhere behind Sirius, Harry bellowed a spell; Dolohov went rigid and toppled over with a resounding crash.
‘Nice one!’ Sirius yelled as he forced Harry to duck; two jets of red light shrieked overhead, and Harry flashed him a grin of gratitude. ‘Now I want you to get out of - ’
A shock of green light scored over Sirius’s shoulder, missing him by inches. Heart thudding in his chest, Sirius whirled around to see his favourite cousin falling, her body bouncing sickeningly on the stone levels of the chamber. Over Tonks stood her aunt, Sirius’s least favourite cousin... She glanced up at him, a glint in her dark eyes. He felt a grim smile spreading across his face, and saw it reflected in Bellatrix’s features. Finally... time for a reckoning.
‘Harry, take the prophecy, grab Neville and run!’ Sirius shouted over his shoulder as he barrelled towards Bellatrix. They met in a clash of sparks, the spells exploding as they collided... Sirius was blown back by the force, he stumbled and regained his footing to see Bellatrix on the floor. He ran towards her as she leapt to her feet, fury and exhilaration pouring through his wand as he slashed and struck. Bellatrix snaked this way and that, dodging curse after curse, her own wand flashing brightly towards Sirius. He weaved and ducked, feeling the heat of Bellatrix’s curses on his skin as they skimmed past him; Sirius could see the frustration growing on her face, and he laughed.
‘Is this the best you can do?’ he yelled as he lunged towards Bellatrix, wand whirling above his head. ‘To think, I’d heard you were powerful nowadays!’
The Stunning Spell glanced off her arm and she staggered, but did not fall.
‘Filthy blood traitor!’ she screamed, whirling around unsteadily to fire a spell at Sirius.
A deep voice boomed, ‘Protego!’, and a Shield Charm bloomed in front of him. Kingsley Shacklebolt winked at Sirius as he muscled past, chasing a terrified Death Eater.
‘'Blood traitor'?’ repeated Sirius, laughing. God, this was exhilarating. ‘You sound like my mother, Bella!’
A burst of white light sent a stinging pain into Sirius’s left shoulder; he winced, but immediately shot back with the same hex, which hit Bellatrix on the cheek, causing her to shriek angrily. The two of them were moving across the echoing room, whirling, stepping through a crowd of frantic figures ... it was the only time the cousins would ever dance together.
Sirius suddenly hissed in pain; he looked down to see a splash of blood slicing across his ribcage. Bellatrix whooped with laughter, and stepped towards Sirius, her wand raised aloft... she stopped suddenly, looking at something behind Sirius. Her eyes lit up hungrily, and although her cry of ‘AVADA KEDAVRA!’ was lost in the noise and tumult of the battle, blinding green light burst from her wand and sailed over Sirius’s shoulder. Sirius turned to see the lethal spell narrowly miss Harry, who was struggling to carry Longbottom to safety.
An angry growl rose in Sirius’s throat, and he suddenly had to fight the urge to transform into Padfoot and lunge at the cowardly, vindictive woman’s throat. Instead, he rounded on Bellatrix as she leapt away, knowing she had given too much ground, had become distracted by pursuing Harry. The cut on Sirius’s side was still bleeding, but he could no longer feel any pain; only hatred. He jabbed his wand towards her as she skittered across the stone floor, trailing mad laughter in her wake. The flash of green light missed Bellatrix, and she whirled around to face Sirius, shock and admiration mingling in her eyes.
‘Aha!’ she shrieked across the chamber, ‘So you do have a backbone!’
Her wand flashed, and Sirius leapt out of the way of the Killing Spell, which faded before it could hit anybody else. He nearly stumbled over a Petrified body lying prone on the floor, but kept his footing and bounded determinedly after Bellatrix, who had sprinted away as soon as her spell had missed its target. As he ran, Sirius muttered to himself and a streak of fiery light, like a whip, lashed across the room and tangled itself around Bellatrix’s ankles. The effect was instant; her long arms flailed, she crashed to the ground and slid like a ragdoll down the steps of the dais she had been climbing. Sirius strode up the stairs and stood over her, years of rage and hatred boiling his blood. Slowly, he pointed his wand at her unmoving body, his chest heaving.
This was the second time in his life that he'd had the opportunity to kill... but could he take it? Bellatrix was evil. He’d known it since childhood. She, no doubt, was one of those who had worked on Peter’s weaknesses, had turned him against the friends who loved him. But somewhere nearby was Harry, the boy who had once begged him not to kill the man who had betrayed James and Lily. Sirius felt the hand gripping his wand drop to his side; a sudden glimpse of flashing silvery hair caught his eye and he saw Harry being held by Lucius Malfoy, the Death Eater’s wand at his ribs. Just as he was about to abandon Bellatrix on the stairs, she suddenly sprang to her feet and shoved past him, knocking him sideways.
‘You should have killed me!’ she shrieked, pointing her wand at his chest even as she backed away.
‘If you say so,’ said Sirius, gripping his wand tightly behind his back.
‘Because once I’ve killed you,’ Bellatrix drawled, ‘ickle Harry’s next!’ She raised her wand to his throat, a gloating smile spreading across her features... Sirius’s breath caught in his throat, but no incantation passed her lips; instead her attention was caught by the blurred figure of Lucius Malfoy flying through the air and landing, crumpled, on the other side of the dais.
Sirius knocked Bellatrix’s wand from her hand and turned quickly to see Harry and Neville fleeing, Remus standing between them and a bleeding, enraged Malfoy. Behind him, Bellatrix was casting about for her wand; just as her fingers closed around it, Sirius spun around, snarled, and roared, ‘Stupefy!’
Bellatrix flew through the air, her back thudding hard against the stone of an empty archway at the centre of the platform. She recovered quickly and fled across the dais as Sirius strode towards her, laughing.
He didn’t hear the silence fall, nor did he hear the obscure whispering from behind the arch... he was unaware of the bespectacled green eyes watching him from across the room. Bellatrix whipped around, screamed, ‘Stupefy!’ and fury bloomed on her face as the simple spell whizzed past Sirius, who had once again dodged in the nick of time. Sirius’s laughter echoed around the huge chamber, as he stepped towards his cousin.
‘Come on, you can do better than that!’ he yelled. This was becoming a little too easy; he was practically toying with Bellatrix now.
The spell hit Sirius directly in the centre of his chest, and the force of it was like being hit by an enormous Bludger. The air was knocked from Sirius’s lungs even as he laughed... even as he fell.
Sirius felt as though he had fallen into cold water. There was a strange whooshing sensation filling his body, as if every cell of blood had sped up in his veins. Then he landed in the sudden darkness on cold, hard ground. Once he had caught his breath, he began to laugh again... In the midst of battle, he’d been knocked on his arse by his bitch of a cousin, for the first time since he was five years old and able to stand up for himself. Talk about history repeating itself. A thought slowly drifted to the forefront of his mind, asking quietly why the chamber was suddenly pitch black, and conspicuously silent. Sirius scrabbled forwards on his knees and, with fumbling fingers, found a stone wall where moments previously the arch had stood.
‘What the - ?’ Sirius hauled himself to his feet, unaware of the fact that the familiar creak of his knees had quite disappeared... that the searing pain he should be feeling in his chest had not materialised... that his ribs were no longer bleeding.
‘Harry?’ he called. Sirius felt blindly along the wall, but there was nothing to feel; no doors, no windows. Just stone. A dreadful thought suddenly occurred to him, and he almost choked on the terror. Surely he couldn’t be back in Azkaban? Life could not be so cruel... But, over the years he’d spent incarcerated, he had drifted in and out of so many memories, nightmares and fantasies... could this be another one? Had he just woken up to his old life once again? Sirius shook his head, trying to clear the confusion. No, he thought, it hadn’t been a dream. He had definitely been in the Ministry of Magic, with Harry and his friends, with Remus, with Tonks... They were going to defeat the Death Eaters, defend the prophecy... Harry would be safe... they were going to have the whole summer together...
A soft noise, some subtle shift in the atmosphere, made Sirius spin around in alarm. He pressed his back against the wall and sank to the floor with a low moan. His long fingers covered his eyes against the menacing darkness. This was it. He was back in Azkaban, and the Dementors had finally come for him. He would not receive their Kiss, he couldn’t - not when he was certain that Harry was out there somewhere, looking for him. A dim light was breaking through the darkness; Sirius’s hands could not block it out.
‘No, no, no, no, no...’ he groaned softly.
‘Sirius,’ said a familiar voice. ‘You fell... Let me help you up.’
Sirius laughed in relief, and looked up. ‘Harry! You’re a sight for sore eyes!’ He took the hand held out in front of him; it clasped his arm warmly, firmly, and pulled Sirius to his feet. ‘Harry, where -’ Sirius stopped. The room was filling with yet more strange light, and it crept over the familiar face before him, throwing shadows on the cheekbones, highlighting the jaw. ‘Harry...?’ he faltered.
‘Nope,’ James grinned at Sirius. ‘But you’re not far off.’
In the years since their death, in the fitful dreams and waking fantasies of Sirius’s time in Azkaban, the James and Lily whom he had known so well had become something akin to legends, or saints, or talismans in his mind. Whenever he had seen them, it had been on the edge of his vision, or they’d been hazy, as if looking at them through a dirty window. Even when Sirius had thought he could have reached out to touch them, perhaps revive them, they’d still been somehow far-off.
But James stood in front of him now, as real and as perfect and as imperfect as the young man Sirius had known and missed for so many years.
‘James...’ said Sirius, confusion creasing his brow. ‘Is it really you?’
More light was filling the space; Lily was walking towards them both, bringing warmth as she always had done. She took Sirius’s hands in hers.
‘We’ve missed you so much, Sirius,’ she whispered, tears rolling down her smiling face. She kissed Sirius on the cheek, and it was soft, warm, real. He felt her breath on his cheek as she spoke again. ‘Thank you for loving Harry so much.’
James put an arm around Sirius’s shoulder. His touch was exactly as it always had been; jostling, loving, real. ‘C’mon, mate. Let’s go.’
‘Where?’ asked Sirius as they began to walk together.
‘Home,’ James smiled.
Sirius sighed contentedly, threw his arm around Lily’s shoulders and looked at James as an exhausted smile lightened his face, the features of which were growing younger and less scarred by the second. ‘At last.’
As the three figures moved out of the darkness, a joyous bark of laughter drifted skywards, where millions of white-blue stars swirled and shimmered, dancing a silent celebration.
"‘Nice one!’ [...] ‘Now I want you to get out of - ’"
"‘Harry, take the prophecy, grab Neville and run!’ "
-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling, UK Edition, p. 708.
"‘Come on, you can do better than that!’"
-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling, UK Edition, p. 710.
I have jiggled the timeline of 31st October 1981 slightly. Canon states that Hagrid arrived at the house first and then Sirius arrived, rather than the way I've presented it here... I felt I could do more with it this way. (I know, what have I become?!)
So, that's the end of 'Skywards'! I have a feeling it's not the end of my little affair with Sirius, though. If you've stuck with us, thank you so much for reading Skywards. I loved writing it, and I really hope you enjoyed reading it.
My thanks again to Jchrissy for being the inspiration behind this story!