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Chapter 49 In the Ministry of Magic that night in the Department of Mysteries the Order had rushed in as soon as they had gotten word. Harry and his friends were in terrible peril and it was considered nothing short of miraculous that they had all survived as long as they had. There hadn’t been time to gather everyone but they set off as quickly as they could, arriving in the nick of time. The battle had been terrible, the Order members outnumbered as it was. Yet, they had all fought well and hard, just as they always did. Sirius Black fought with vigor and determination. His body felt good and his mind was clear. Snape had been foolish to try and keep him from this, but he had tried with all the determination that cold man possessed. It had been no use of course. In his own way Snape cared about Harry. He was Lily’s son and he could never quite forget that it was Lily Evans who had first stirred in him feelings of compassion. Yet, he also hated Harry on one level because he looked so much like his father. He seemed so much like James too. But he’d tried to keep Sirius from going regardless of his bitter hatred for him. It was what Dumbledore would have wanted. If Severus Snape knew in any part of his heart that he also wanted Black kept from the battle because he wished that Harry would have one person to love in this world, he could not acknowledge this. He hated Black and he hated Potter. Whatever lay beneath the surface of that was too much for Severus to dwell on long if at all. Sirius heard her before he saw her. Bellatrix Lestrange was in so many ways his nemesis nearly as much as Voldemort or Pettigrew both were. He’d engaged her in a duel when they had charged in knowing full well that she was possibly the biggest threat to Harry’s life in that cavernous room. He had to save Harry, he loved him dearly and he had so much to tell him now. The future felt bright for Black for the first time in years. She was still enormously powerful but he’d been doing well, dodging her curses or blocking them. Hell, he’d even laughed at her. “Is that the best you can do?” He said as the red torture spell zinged by him, crackling in the air. However, as strong a man and as good a fighter as Sirius Black was he had not expected what had come next. Bellatrix Lestrange was not merely insane she was vicious. She had been for nearly all her life and her increasing insanity had done nothing to tame that terrible beast within her. Her next spell had struck home, the air around them infused with a raw, red light. But what Sirius saw was red and then an enormous flash of the most dazzling white he had ever witnessed. As Sirius Black left this life the last thing he heard was his cousin’s scream of triumph and Harry shouting desperately for him. It was over in a moment. Just a flash and everything had come to an end. Or so it appeared to those in the room, in truth it was just the beginning. ::::::::::::::: He opened his eyes slowly, feeling the warm breeze blowing pleasantly on his face. Harry. He had to get to Harry! He tried to sit up but found that his body did not work properly. In fact, his body felt very strange indeed. “Easy there.” A familiar voice spoke nearby. “Just take it easy, it takes a moment or two to adjust.” Sirius looked up and saw the friendly hazel eyes of James Potter looking down at him. Sirius could feel grass beneath him and the sky, while vividly hued and very bright did not hurt his eyes, even after the darkness of the Ministry. Sirius frowned and struggled briefly to move again. “Harry, he’s in trouble. I have to get to him.” Sirius still felt a sense of urgency but it was not as sharp as it would have been otherwise. “You can’t help him now Sirius, it’s all right.” Lily’s voice spoke, she was right beside her husband. “Don’t fret Sirius, it’s always a bit of a shock at first but you’ll be fine in a few moments.” She spoke soothingly, as if she had said these words before to others. Sirius managed to sit up and survey where he was. He was lying on some grass in a meadow, the sun was shining and he could hear voices nearby. There were sounds of birds, there were trees off to the side and in the distance he could see ponds and lakes set close together, the sun glinting off their golden waters. Everything looked real but it was heightened somehow, all of it. The colors were sharper, more vibrant than anything he had ever witnessed before in his life. Life? Wait… “James, is this a dream?” Sirius Black had been living his life in dreams for so long. He reasoned that he must have been knocked unconscious by Bellatrix and this was what was the resulting dream. “No, it’s not a dream.” James was had a steadying hand on his shoulder and Sirius stared at it for a moment. He could feel his old friend’s hand, slight pressure, spreading warmth. What the devil was happening? “Sirius,” Lily crouched down in front of him, her emerald eyes were like jewels here, flashing in the light of the multi-colored sky overhead. “Just breathe in and out for a few moments.” Sirius stared in confusion but tried to follow her advice. He felt his lungs fill and deflate with each breath he felt stronger, larger somehow. There was no pain in his body at all. He felt his strength gathering and stood up unsteadily, whatever hallucination he was having, he had to get back. He had to get to Harry. He turned quickly from James and Lily, it was nice to be here with them but he had work to do. It was as he turned that he saw it, the edge of everything. Swirling mist like crushed pearls floating in the air just a few feet away. He could hear things murmuring from the other side, frantic voices filled with urgency. “What’s going on here?” This was unlike any dream he had ever had. Lily touched his arm softly, “It’s all right Sirius, we can see to there when we concentrate, but there is no going back.” “See to there? Where am I?” Sirius tried to grab hold of his confusion in his mind it was the only familiar sensation. “You’re behind the veil.” James was standing beside him, his dark hair messy and his smile wide. “The afterlife. Heaven. The Land Invisible, pick your term.” “Potter, are you trying to tell me that I’m dead?” Sirius nearly laughed. God it was good to see them, but this was a dream he was certain of it. “In a way yes, in a way no.” Lily answered for her husband. “In many ways, you are more alive than you have ever been before.” As much as he would have liked to talk with Lily and James in this strange dream he had work to do. Sirius began to rush away from them on slightly unsteady legs. Whatever that veil thing was, he was going through it, beyond it he felt was his real life. Lily and James watched him and made no move to stop him. There was no rush. Here time meant nothing. “Everyone always does that.” Alice Moore commented from not far behind Lily and James. Alice stood with Timothy Ferngrow who was whole once again, looking young and vital. “Well you did too, we all did.” Amelia Strong said gently, a slight smile on her lips. Sirius Black ran to the mist and found that when he rushed into it he could see something but it wasn’t what he had expected to see. He could see pockets of life everywhere and he found his eyes focusing, searching. He could just make it out, Harry was in Dumbledore’s office and he was shouting. In another pocket he could see Megan and Atticus holding her as she wept. Nearby Seraphim looked confused. But he couldn’t just see them he realized. He could feel them, feel their pain, feel their confusion and loss. Then the most astonishing thing happened, he smiled trying to reach out a hand to comfort them. He felt peace flood through him and he wanted to share it but his reach was not quite long enough. The world he was watching in tiny facets made clearer if he tried to focus looked harsh and gritty slightly yellowed too. He began to back out of the mist slowly and he felt that beautifully penetrating warmth. Without thinking he raised a hand to his face and it felt young and firm to him again. Fleshed out fully, and more open to sensation somehow. He turned and looked at Lily and James, he saw them now all of the fallen gathered in groups not far from Lily and James who stood in the forefront. The Prewetts stood off in the distance, waving and smiling. Alice, Amelia, Ferngrow, even Elizabeth Fortesque nodding in an assuring manner, a slightly amused smile on her lips. He walked towards James and Lily. He had so many things to ask. ::::::::::::::::::::: “If this isn’t a dream and I’m dead.” They had shown him his own death Amelia conjuring it for him in a looking glass she had created from thin air without even the use of a wand. “Then why do I have a body?” James hugged him and Sirius could feel his strong arms. Lily stood on tiptoe and kissed him on his cheek and the feeling was amazing, it spread through every part of him. It felt so pure. “Well, you do and you don’t mate.” James answered as he flopped down onto the grass running a hand through his hair. “You can feel things, just as you did in life but this isn’t like your physical body. This is the manifestation of your soul and since your soul can feel, so can your body.” “But,” Lily hastened to add. “Nothing can hurt you. Not ever again.” “And you can eat if you like.” Amelia supplied as she munched an apple, the fragrance of the fruit filling the air. “But you don’t have to if you’re not in the mood. No hunger either.” Lily held James’s hand and they spoke together so quietly Sirius could not hear. “He’s still trying to cope, take it slow.” Lily said. “I know darling but you know the way it is. They all have so many questions.” James assured her. “I’ll take it slowly.” “I don’t understand this, if this ruddy place is so wonderful then why live at all? Why shouldn’t everyone just skip life and die straightaway.” Sirius was still trying to fight. “Because you bring things with your from life.” Lily’s voice was like music. “The more you live, the more you bring with you. The more joy you know here.” “You have to live mate, it’s the only way to know yourself.” James said but knew that Sirius was not quite ready for the rest. “There are other reasons too.” Some of the others had withdrawn for the moment. He saw Amelia Strong wave to him with a grin before calling out to him, “I’ll see you when you like. We can meet here whenever you want me. I’ll know!” Then she dove into one of the lakes and disappeared from view in moments. “Where did she go?” Sirius asked, there was no shore on the other side. “Sirius, this is just the gathering place.” James said. “We know when someone we love is coming and we meet them here. We can also come to look at the world below on the other side. Check on those we love, or have come to love.” Sirius’s mind was racing but it did not feel frantic, it felt as if his mind was expanding with every second. He could hear things in it, people calling to him, telling him not to worry and to relax. They kept saying the same thing over and over. “Your work is done. It’s all right.” They felt like a part of him as if slowly they were interweaving with him but with great respect and care. ::::::::::::::::::: “Don’t you worry about Harry?” Sirius asked. “Oh of course, we watch him all the time.” James smiled and so did his wife. “But we’ll see him again soon.” “Harry’s going to die?” Panic tried to rise in his mind but he felt the voices again, soothing him. It wasn’t like madness, it was more like a cool, peaceful water washing over his mind. He couldn’t distinguish one voice from the other. He did not know that soon they would stop being voices and just be pervasive feelings. The only voices he would hear in his mind soon would be those of arriving friends. Or friends here that were calling to him. “Sirius, from the second we are born, with every step we take we are closer to dying. It’s the way it’s meant to be.” Lily’s said, her red hair tumbling about her shoulders. “We love him, we’re concerned for him. We fought like mad to get back to him when we got here. But he will be all right and we watch him. We’re proud of him and we love him.” “Plus, we’ll see him in a moment.” James was smiling. “He’s going to die in a moment!” Sirius yelped. “No, no that’s not what I meant Padfoot.” James patted his arm. “I meant that it seems like we haven’t seen him in ages, at least not exactly…but at the same time it’s just been a moment and it will be until we see him again.” “Time blends.” Lily explained. “The only significance it has is the meaning we put on it in the first life, beyond the barrier. When we die there, this is where we come.” “He’s strong too, we know that.” James said and sighed slightly. His son had to face so much but that life was so real when you were living it, you couldn’t imagine anything else. He wished for his son to know happiness in that life. “So, you know what’s going to happen?” Sirius asked, still at a loss. “Yes, we can but most of us don’t look too often. We can’t change that life, all we can do is try to send love and hope.” James answered and Sirius noticed that he and Lily were sitting as they had so often in life, close to each other, touching. “It’s usually felt in dreams, that’s where the barrier is thinnest.” “And you’re fine with that?” Sirius said incredulously. “Have to be.” Lily said but in her face he saw the love she felt for her child. It wasn’t in her face though Sirius realized, he felt it go flooding through him, tremendous and warm. Oh Lord, he was the reason they were here so soon. He’d convinced James to switch… “Sirius, you need to start letting that kind of thing go.” James answered but Sirius was confused because he had not spoken his concern. “We’ve never blamed you, not for a second and you shouldn’t either. All you did was trust someone you loved as a friend and tried your best to protect those you loved. You never did anything wrong. Just let it go, let it evaporate.” Sirius considered this but it was a burden he had borne for so long, it was part of who he was now there was no way to release that. Still, he felt it begin to ease slightly. “Right, so we’re…wherever the hell we are.” Sirius was still clinging to the belief that this was a dream. It was a very long, very peculiar dream but he was bound to wake up again soon. “Where is everyone? It’s not like we’re the only dead people?” “Oh, they’re here. Might be right around us.” James laughed and Sirius felt his amusement flood through him. “But we were from the same grouping. When you spend your life with people, they become part of you and you are part of them. We can visit the other groups if we try hard enough, but they are usually busy.” “Busy doing what? Playing harps?” Sirius said sarcastically but inside of him it turned into a joke, a gentle thought filled with mirth. “Could be, some people do like to play a lot of music.” James grinned at him. “Or they could be meeting their own loved ones just arrived.” In the sky above a purple cloud was rolling by but it burst wide open and showered down up them, raining sliver all over. As the drops fell on Sirius he felt as if he was growing larger still, as if he were ever expanding and would soon not be able to fit anywhere. “Don’t worry, understanding is infinite. You get used to that feeling.” Lily had her head on James’s shoulder and Sirius was surprised when they kissed each other and exchanged a look clearly born in desire for one another. “Okay, why can’t I feel that then?” He hadn’t felt their desire, he’d only seen it. This was a very bewildering thing. “Because it’s ours. There are still things that are private here you know. People have to give permission in what they allow to blend.” James answered. “We loved each other in life, and our souls are intertwined in a way that we can’t ever be with you. I mean, we love you, but it wasn’t the same.” James winked and Sirius nearly laughed, “Well I’m grateful for that!” “So, if people are all around us but somehow in different places but not seen if they don’t want to be. What the hell do you do here?” “Whatever you like. Fly, sing, run. Create things, call out to friends who are here and they’ll meet you as soon as they can. It will only feel like a moment to you although they may take an age to come to you.” Lily knew that Sirius was struggling, felt that he believed himself to be unconscious in St. Mungo’s. “That’s not possible.” Sirius said. “Something can’t take a moment and still an age.” “You’re still thinking too much, the rules are different here.” James was laughing again. It was harder for magical folk he thought sometimes. Muggles when they got here adjusted more quickly. In the Muggle world you couldn’t fly without aid of a plane or turn yourself into a bird if the notion struck you. You couldn't blend with water and flow through the rivers and then come out again your body intact once more. Muggles had an easier time believing in this world because they were new to the real magic of life. It was the wizarding world that doubted, tried to rationalize too much here. “There are rules?” “Yes, but they are very simple ones.” James said. “You can’t hurt anyone, which is fine because we can’t feel pain. At least not for ourselves, we feel it for those still there, but it doesn’t feel the same as it did. It’s muffled a bit. Oh, and you can’t follow someone into the golden waters unless they ask you to come with them.” Amelia had gone swimming in one of the golden lakes where had she gone? Sirius asked his friends. “To whatever private thing she has within her. To whatever lies on the shore over there for her.” James said and smiled, but he knew what Amelia went to. “I don’t see any shore.” Sirius strained his eyes but much like the pearly mist, the golden lakes and ponds just seemed to end. “No, you wouldn’t yet.” James answered. “Okay, explain.” Sirius leaned forward, brushing the hair off of his forehead. James wondered if he knew that he had chosen his twenty-year-old form. “Not yet Sirius, you’re still trying to cling to the other life too much.” James explained. “Soon though.” :::::::::::::::::::::: “So we can watch that life, we can see the future?” Sirius was asking. “Yes, but we can’t change it. Only those living in the life of that world impact that existence. Well, almost only. Sirius try to let it go. It matters, I understand, there are people you love there but you will see them when they get here and you feel them calling to you when they come.” James’s face was earnest. “Well what do I do in the meantime, hang around and turn myself into a butterfly?” “No, well yes, if you like but that would be an odd way to spend eternity.” James grinned. “Most of us spend our time in our private world.” “Private world, on the shores I can’t see.” Sirius asked. “What, it’s like a fantasy place?” “No, it’s your life, your memories.” Lily answered this time. “And it’s also your future. It’s you life here, and it never ends.” “What’s there?” Sirius was beginning to understand that this was no dream. There were too many sensations, and he’d gone back to the mist and looked. He’d seen what was to come for those he loved and cared about. Lily and James looked at each other and silently agreed. He seemed ready. “I’ll take him.” James said and stood. “Come with me.” They walked to the edge of a pond, the water lapping gently at the edge. Sirius looked across the water and now he saw something. There were trees on shore just a short distance from him and someone was standing there, gesturing to him calling him forward. “James, this isn’t possible.” Sirius said and the confusion threatened to return. “Yes, it is Sirius.” James again put a hand on Sirius’s shoulder. It was always a shock. Things were so much vaster than any of them could have imagined. “But she’s not dead.” Sirius stared at Megan Hogan. “No, she isn’t.” James grinned and for a moment he looked a bit mischievous. “But that’s the part of her you brought with you and the part that has always been here.” “I killed part of Megan?” His voice sounded distressed. It looked just like her and she was smiling but it had to be an illusion. “What do you mean she’s always been here?” “Not at all you didn’t kill anything in her at all.” James explained. “You two loved each other in life and she never stopped loving you, you never stopped loving her. So, part of her soul is always in you, just as you are in her. It’s the same with anyone we love in whatever way we love them. You’ve been here with Lily and I ever since we got here too. We can see you whenever we like.” “So it’s her?” Sirius felt tears spring to his eyes. “Part of her. The part that has been with you all these years and will stay with you forever.” “Doesn’t it hurt people to have bits of their soul ripped away?” Sirius was still staring at the shore. “It doesn’t work like that.” James felt grateful that he was able to explain this, Sirius looked so confused. “The soul isn’t some tiny finite thing, it’s enormous and it grows even more, the more we love. She won’t miss it, she has no idea it’s here. She’s still complete. Look at it this way, when she does get here, she’ll just be catching up with a part of herself that went ahead. Part of you stayed behind with her and anyone you loved too.” “Are you sure?” “Positive.” James smiled there were limitations though. “That’s your life and hers too. Like it shot off in another direction.” “From what moment?” Sirius asked but knew what James would say. “When her fate changed, Sirius, when you went to prison. One possibility for her life was that she marry you but that changed.” James felt his friend’s joy running through him. “So the girl over there is Megan and together you can explore what might have been.” He knew what his friend would ask next. “It’s truly her?” “Yes.” James said but he knew what he was asking. “But that’s the part of her that you can be with, were meant to be with always.” Sirius thought about this silently. “Then why wasn’t she there with the rest of you when I got here?” Sirius asked clearly perplexed. “Because it would have been even harder to convince you that it wasn’t a dream.” As James spoke Sirius felt the truth of his words. “She’s even more solid than most parts of a soul because a seer walks in both lands, almost as if they are two people. That’s how they can see through to the end of a person’s life. She was here when we arrived.” Sirius looked questioningly at his friend. “It’s all right, you know.” James smiled. “It was her choice but that’s why Megan cannot be comforted by dreams. The part of her that might have been touched by what is here, what is to come was already here.” Sirius wanted so badly to go to her but he still had two things to ask. “James, is anyone else over there?” James smiled at his friend. “Yes, anyone who loved you in life gave you part of themselves. You’ll see them when you want to.” Sirius turned to his friend again and understood. “Is there a God?” Sirius had heard it so many times in his life he had just not understood it until now. Everyone asked this and everyone came to understand it in time, it was the one thing James couldn’t help Sirius define entirely. “Not in the way we used to think. It’s not a single thing, it’s in everything.” But Sirius was already grasping the concept. “That’s why Voldemort hates love so much isn’t it?” He asked. “Yes, because it doesn’t die, and as long as we know love in our life, neither do we. We just move beyond the veil.” James smiled. It was time for him to go back to his wife. The love could come from anywhere it could be the love of a spouse, or a parent. It could be love given to anyone or anything as long is it was real love. James wanted to return to his own private shore where in a house with his wife and child, he would wait for the friends yet to come. He could listen to laughter of the children denied to him in the first life and he could touch his wife over and over. They could even travel to distant lands, all from within the boundaries of that shore. As long as you had known love your soul awoke and it would never sleep afterwards. ::::::::::::::::::: Sirius waded into the water and it was wonderfully warm. He paused for a moment and looked into the water, although it was golden it still reflected back at him and he saw himself, young, healthy and smiling. The water didn’t soak him at all, he was dry when he reached the shore and moved towards her. “Megan?” She threw her arms around him and smiled up into his face, “Ah, you handsome creature! I missed you.” “How long have I been gone?” Sirius asked, stroking her hair, feeling her body pressed against his. “Lord no, not another time question! You don’t have to understand it all yet Sirius, just live it.” Megan grinned and then she kissed his neck, the easiest part of him to reach. He could feel her lips, warm and soft against him. She laughed merrily and immediately began to tease him, “I think I finally figured out how to cook a…” He stopped her with a kiss and was surprised to feel intense passion beyond anything he had ever known rising within him. His body as it was now responded, he could feel every part of her. They went together to the house, which was not unlike the house they had shared in the other life, only it was larger and sunnier. He walked through the door and looked around. Then he began leading her towards their bedroom. She followed laughing, holding his hand, her expression bright and her eyes clear. There was time enough to see Harry and Seraphim later and all of the others he knew he had cared enough for to have it be love. He knew he could see James and Lily whenever he liked too. Now he had to find out if everything he hoped for was possible. If the life denied to them could be lived now. It had ceased to matter to him that she had married Atticus. He would carry a part of her with him always, and so would Sirius. Fate had not been as unkind to any of them as he had thought. The bed was soft and warm just as her body was. He began to kiss her and it truly was her kissing him back. Laughing, teasing moving with him as they both felt young and strong. This was no shadow of Megan this was part of her. He took his time making love to her. He had waited so long for it. But it wasn’t like it had been in life, it was so much better. author's note: I hope you enjoyed this one and can now understand why it was fine to allow Megan to marry Atticus. One more chapter to go! Thank you to everyone who has read this story. Next time: Megan completes her last mission. Sees Harry and with the help of the Order gives him a gift beyond measure.

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