A/N) So here we are… the last chapter of Twisting Time…Please read author's note at the end of the chapter!
James marvelled at the spectral appearance Sirius had taken through the resurrection stone. But then he realised he could see right through him and that sobered him. He hated the thought of Sirius being dead. "Why did you do it?
"Do what?" asked Sirius innocently.
James growled. "You very well know why!"
"I sacrificed myself to save your son, James."
"That should have been my job!" James' anger erupted. "You're not Harry's father!"
Sirius crossed his arms over his chest. "It doesn't matter whether you are Harry's father or not. I was sent back for a reason. Making Harry have the life he deserved. If I hadn't stepped in the way, Harry would be dead. You were too far away to reach him in time. I was the only one who could."
James ground his teeth together. He had gone over it so many times in his head. He knew what Sirius said was true but he shouldn't have died for it. "You deserved life too."
Sirius shrugged. "Maybe. But I've lived two lives already."
"You died younger than you were before."
"My soul is older than that," said Sirius. "My body may have been thirty-three but my soul was thirty-seven when I died originally. I've lived an additional twelve years. I'm forty-nine."
James wanted to disagree but he knew Sirius wasn't having any of it. "Harry wants you back. I do too."
"You can't. I've chosen otherwise," Sirius stated calmly.
James blinked. "What?" He ran a hand through his hair. "What do you mean by that?"
Sirius visibly sighed. "When I died I spoke to Regulus. He said I had a choice to make. I could come back…"
"Please don't say you chose death…" whispered James.
Sirius' spectral form bit his lower lip. "I did."
"Damn you!" hissed James. Then his voice rose as his anger burst forth. "Why the fuck would you choose death when you could live again with all the people you love and who love you?"
"It's difficult to explain to someone who isn't dead."
James glowered. "Well, I don't plan to die for a very long time so it's not likely I am going to find out for years yet. Try me."
"Fine. Ever felt tired? Weary? Battle-worn? Just wanted things to end?"
"No." James shook his head. "I want to live. To breathe. To learn. See my children grow up. Experience the world change around me."
"Then you will not be able to understand why I chose death. Everything I've done, every choice I make is to protect Harry. It always was."
"Choosing death over life when you had the chance to come back isn't protecting Harry!" spat James vehemently.
"But dying for him is." Sirius pointed out. "And he doesn't need my protection anymore. The war is over. The threat gone. If another threat appears, Harry will be old enough and experienced enough to combat it. He won't need me for protection." Sirius lowered his gaze. "If Voldemort had still been around when I died, the choice I made would have been different." Sirius stepped forward, now intent on capturing James' gaze. "I was sent back for a reason and I've fulfilled the terms of that. Prongs, I am proud of the life I have lived. I've lived for years without you… and then had to get used to you being by my side again… Maybe it is now your turn to live without me."
But James was angry, feeling bitter and upset that his friend had chosen to leave them for good. "What you've done is selfish. You haven't thought about the people who you've left behind!"
Sirius' eyes flashed angrily. "Yes. I. Did." Despite his ghostly appearance, Sirius still seemed to emanate anger in his posture. "Harry suffers because our bond is splitting, isn't he?" He didn't say this softly but rather in a hard tone of voice.
James swallowed. "Yes…"
"If I had chosen to come back, the bond would have been repaired but Harry would still remember the pain of it splitting. Would still recall the agony he feels from not feeling me there. He is young enough to be scarred by this experience. If I came back he would have to go through that same experience again. And he could grow up fearing it. Experiencing it now with his whole support network around is more important than me surviving and coming back. Am I still selfish for sparing Harry further pain down the line? Or am I protecting him?"
James was silent for long moments, biting his lower lip. He didn't want to admit it but he knew he had to. "You are protecting him." He had seen his son suffer and had hated himself for not being able to help him. "If you had chosen to come back… Harry would have been a lot older and able to handle the bond splitting…"
Sirius sighed. "Maybe. Maybe not. It wasn't something I wanted to risk. You've seen Harry's pain. It isn't simple is it?"
"No… it really hurts him and it confuses him. I know he wants it to stop…" admitted James. He couldn't lie.
"Then I made the correct choice," finalised Sirius. "Harry's happiness is far more important than my own. I know I will be missed but you will move on. Remember me for what I did and who I am not, not because I chose to die. Prongs… it is time for you to let me go. That is the one thing I regret most of all in my old life. I never let you go and that always hindered me. I've learnt from my mistakes, both in my old life and this one. Let me go, James, live your life and be happy."
"I don't have to let you go," said James. He held up the resurrection stone. "This. I can always use this to talk to you."
Sirius sagged. "Then you won't move on… nor will you let me move on. Each time you use it to see me, you drag me back. Let me go."
James felt a tear fall down his cheek. He could feel his fingers loosening. It was hard. He didn't want to lose Sirius but he had.
"I know it is hard, Prongs, but we will see each other again," smiled Sirius, moving forward. "Only when you die, of course."
James nearly choked. "I do not plan on dying for a long time."
"Good. I don't want you here too soon. I need to liven this place up a bit before you arrive," grinned Sirius.
Another tear fell down James' cheek.
Sirius' next words were soft. "Thanks for everything…" His shoulder heaved. "Goodbye…. Prongs."
James closed his eyes, took a deep breath, opened them and looked straight at Sirius. "Goodbye, Padfoot."
And he dropped the stone.
Sirius' form vanished.
And James cried.
3rd November 1993
"If Sirius had lived… today would have been his birthday."
James stood on a podium that had been erected within the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Behind the podium was a large stone wall, where the names of those that had fallen in the first Wizarding War had been etched into it. In the centre of the memorial was a small section dedicated to the lives lost during Voldemort's short return.
In the centre of the memorial was a special plaque. The name 'Sirius Orion Black' had been etched into it, highlighting his name above all others. He was the hero that had saved them all but had ultimately sacrificed himself to save others.
A large crowd of people sat, watching him from their seats, as James spoke. The Ministry had decided that, for now, every year on Sirius' birthday, they would honour him. The same accolade had been rewarded to Dumbledore as well, however Sirius was far more popular than the former Headmaster. There was a lot more interest in him than Dumbledore.
"When I first met Sirius I was surprised to learn that his whole family had been in Slytherin. Growing up in a dominate Gryffindor family meant my perceptions of Slytherin house were skewered. I saw them all as evil dark wizards in the making. But Sirius was different. I gave him a chance and when he was sorted into Gryffindor house, he proved everyone wrong. He should have been a Slytherin. On the outside he may have been perceived as one but on the inside Sirius had a heart of gold, strength and was brave. He was also very loyal."
"Sirius and I were the ringleaders of our 'gang' at school. We knew we were talented and took ourselves far too seriously. Sirius was there for me when I needed him. He always looked out for those he loved. It was hard to get close to him to start with but when you pull away the Slytheriness – is that even a word? – you see a different person on the inside. Sirius is more than what he was ever perceived to be."
"Sirius and I were joined at the hip. You wouldn't see one without the other. Sirius was my best friend. I couldn't imagine a time without him constantly by my side. And then we left school and real life started to drag us apart. When my family became a target Sirius put his life on the line to trick Voldemort. That trick ensured Voldemort's first defeat. He gave us peace, something our world had lacked during our time at Hogwarts. Sirius gave us time to prepare if Voldemort was ever to return."
"Sirius dedicated the rest of his life to bringing down Voldemort."
The knowledge of the Horcruxes remained with very few people. James would not mention them here. There was no need to.
"He lost his life minutes after killing Voldemort. He didn't deserve that… but he chose to throw himself in the way of the killing curse that was meant for my son. Not only did he save our world from further turmoil, he also saved my son. I will always be grateful for that…" James felt his voice break. "But… Sirius Black was not just my best friend. He was more than that."
James cast his eyes around the crowd.
"He was my brother."
Every year they commemorated Sirius' life at Hogwarts. It became, in essence, a Wizarding holiday, a tradition that continued to last for many long years after even Harry Potter himself had passed away. Sirius had been posthumously given a Wizard of Merlin First Class for his services to the magical world.
Despite their best friend's death, both James and Remus managed to move on. In 1995 James and Lily welcomed a baby girl who they named Siri, in honour of Sirius. Though Jack's middle name was Sirius, both the older Potter's had wanted to honour Sirius more so, especially after his sacrifice to save Harry. It had been Harry's initial suggestion that James and Lily had started to consider the possibility of calling their new born daughter Siri.
Remus eventually started dating Sirius' second cousin, Tonks, and a few years later they had married with a little boy called Teddy joining the family.
Harry, on the other hand, slowly matured into a man, without the burden of finishing a war sitting on his shoulders. He grew up happy and despite the lingering hurt he had experienced in the aftermath of Sirius' death, he mostly recovered from the traumatic experience. Harry had suffered for nightmares for months because of it.
In retrospect, James had mused, Sirius deciding death had been a good thing. He had saved Harry from further trauma.
But he still missed him.
James knew he always would.
And he never used the resurrection stone again to ease his hurt either, something Lily had told him would make Sirius very proud of him.
Yet Sirius was never gone from their lives, though they could never see him.
He was always there, keeping a watchful eye on them.
And he always would.
I cannot believe I have finished this story. It has been over a year since I started writing this but it is done, finished! It has been an incredible journey to write this story and to see how the plot has evolved from my original plot-line. I would like to address a few questions about my creative choices in this story as I think it will be interesting for you guys to see where I took the characters the way I did.
Harry's role in the story was smaller than originally intended
This is true. I originally planned for Harry to have a significantly larger role however events progressed too fast and I had to find ways to ensure Harry still had involvement. I'm just glad I gave Sirius and Harry the bond earlier on in the story which allowed me to incorporate Harry into the final battle. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to. My original outline was meant to last until Harry was fourteen - sixteen years old. In this story he reached twelve which I considered too young for him to be able to have such a large role in the final battle.
What was the point of introducing Leanne only to kill her off?
I received criticism for this decision. Leanne was an OC I created for the intention of giving Sirius a happy ending. When she was created I had no plans to kill Sirius off. Or Leanne either. Ultimately my brain decided to change where I intended to go with the twist of Leanne being manipulated by Lucius Malfoy which then meant her survival was now in question. At this point when I made this decision about Leanne I had already started thinking about whether Sirius would survive or not. After a long talk with a friend, I made the decision to kill Sirius off. And from there it was easy to kill Leanne and then work towards Sirius sacrificing himself for Harry.
Why couldn't Sirius live?
Originally he was but my brain rebelled and decided against it. With the direction this story has gone I think it works better for Sirius to have died saving Harry rather than him survive. I also had to consider whether Sirius was 'tired' of life and I think he would be, especially after leading two different lives. Killing him off was hard and I hated doing it but in the context of the story I think it was the best option.
If anyone has another other questions about any creative choices I made throughout this story please ask and I will answer in a private message!
Thank you to everyone who has read this story and a huge thank you from those that have been here with me since the beginning. It feels strange to finish but I wouldn't have been able to do this without you!
Those that may be interested in what I intend to write next… I will be stepping away from Harry Potter fanfiction. I do have ideas in the Potter universe but at the moment I do not have the enthusiasm for them, to be able to write them. I will mainly be playing with characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars universe for at least the next year. If I do return to writing Harry Potter fiction, it will likely be in 2018.
Thank you for all the support!
Until my next story (if any of you follow me around!)