JUNE 18th, 1996

The Department of Mysteries

Sirius was enjoying himself. Despite the impending danger to himself and to those he cared most for, he couldn't help but revel in the excitement of dueling. After so many months stuck in his horrible childhood home, feeling as though he was nothing but useless to the Order, he was finally out and free and right in the middle of the excitement.

Facing off with Death Eaters was an ultimate exhilaration in itself, with all the terrible feelings he harbored for them in general, but when he was pared off with Bellatrix Lestrange his enjoyment grew. This was more than it appeared on the surface; she represented the family that he had run from, the family that had shunned him, and he could tell by the wicked glint in her eye that she was thinking the same thing.

She was mad, he knew this better than most, and she was entertained by harming others. He knew that if she were to strike him down it would be pure elation for her but he couldn't let her get away with it that easily. He laughed and danced around the dais, taunting her as they dueled and watching as the frustration grew on her face.

Suddenly people were yelling around them again and he was vaguely aware of someone tall charging down the steps toward them. Undeterred, Bellatrix screeched out a spell and a jet of red light came streaking at him but Sirius was able to duck out of the way, laughing.

'Come on, you can do better than that!' he taunted her, the grin on his face reminiscent of the handsome boy he had once been.

Sneering, she recovered quickly and shot another spell at him. For a split second he thought he would hesitate and then step aside, taunting her further, but his timing was off and he felt something warm and hard slam into his chest. He could still feel his delight, the want to laugh aloud, even as his body stiffened and he couldn't feel his fingers any more. He was falling backward, falling toward the eerie veil hanging from the empty arch. Even amongst the shouts and screams he had heard the whispers behind the veil, and understood it was for the same reason he had always been able to see the Thestral pulling the carriages at Hogwarts. The image of the woman lying in the street in front of the car flashed before his eyes. Georjaina, he thought. He still had such a hard time thinking of the woman he had seen when he was so young as her.

It was only seconds but also an eternity as he fell, and he was able to look to where he saw movement. It was Harry, coming down the steps toward him, pulling out his wand, a horrified look on his face. Sirius wanted to call out to him, to tell him that it would all be alright, but then he felt a strange nothingness behind him and he fell into a cold, windswept darkness, and he knew no more.

And then from the darkness he emerged, first into sounds so loud and muffled he couldn't take them in. Frowning, he shook his head back and forth, as if to tune his mind, and the sounds grew steadily clearer. He was just starting to realize that the high pitched beeping was actually the sound of birds calling to each other when he gained another sense; there were a thousand smells around him, of the grass and the trees and the warm summer air. And after a little while he was able to make out the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and the bits of parchment being rubbed together around him.

It was as if he were awakening from a heavily drugged sleep and one by one the sounds and smells slowly presented themselves to him until he knew exactly where he was. He attempted to open his eyes but was blinded by a bright, blueish light, and he closed them again. For a while he watched the light through his eyelids, allowing his eyes to adjust as he felt the sharp blades of grass beneath him with his fingers. And when he opened his eyes again he found he was staring up at a clear, blue sky, yellow grass towering over him in every direction.

He smiled, feeling relief flood through him. He stretched his arms over his head, feeling some of the blades of grass dance between his fingers, and then he laid his arms out to either side of him, relaxed. Something warm slid into his left hand, something familiar, and he looked over. Georjaina was lying beside him, her hand in his and a small smile on her face. She looked exactly as he had last seen her, small tendrils of her hair blowing about her in the wind.

'I dreamt of this,' she said, the sound of her voice washing over him. 'I dreamt of lying here with you in the sunlight, holding your hand.'

'I know,' he replied, squeezing her fingers. 'You were only waiting for me.'

It wasn't a question but she nodded anyway, her smile growing.

'I thought you might forget me,' she said and he expected to feel the familiar ache in his chest but there was nothing there but warmth.

The crack was gone.

Sirius shook his head, looking happily into her face, knowing that it would never disappear from him again.

'I already told you I would never forget you,' he said. 'I promised.'

64,984 words later and I feel a great sense of accomplishment but also despair. It has been an amazing journey and I am so very grateful for each and every one of you that experienced it with me. Thank you so much for reading and for all the amazing reviews, it has meant the world to me. Hopefully this will help me to write and publish more.

This is where the story was always heading. This is what I dreamt of, someone waiting for him on the other side of the veil besides the obvious people. I always thought Sirius deserved the greatest love from everyone he surrounded himself with and I'm happy that I was able to add to that, at least in my own head.

Thank you, always X