Disclaimer: To disclaim, to disavow; to disavow, perchance, to not get sued. Ay, there's the rub. For in that state of not getting sued what ideas may come when we have shuffled off this legal coil, must give us pause...
It arrived mid-afternoon about two weeks into the summer holidays. Well, perhaps it should be they arrived. The owl that delivered the letters was tired looking, and almost as ancient as Errol. It was still spry enough to drop off the letters and leave without too much of a hassle, though
Harry'd barely acknowledged its presence. He was far too busy staring into nothingness. Not just staring at nothing, but a whole new way of doing it so that he was actually staring into the gaping void of nothing over his head. It was a very interesting way to pass the time waiting for school to start—or for meals to come.
Finally, after staring at Harry's letters for a bit, Hedwig hooted curiously, wondering (if an owl has the mental faculties for such an activity) why Harry hadn't opened his mail yet. Harry rolled out of bed and carried himself to the desk.
There were two letters. One was written in unfamiliar handwriting and said "Open First". The other was slightly faded, as if it had been written a while ago, and in handwriting that, while familiar, he couldn't quite place. He did as instructed and opened the first one first.
Dear Harry, he read.
There's really no way to properly introduce a letter like this, and someone should probably be telling you in person. However, since that isn't possible, I suppose I'll just have to come out and say it.
He left you everything, Harry. Sirius left you Grimmauld Place, Kreacher, Buckbeak, all his possessions... everything. I can see you sitting there, thinking that you don't care about his possessions, that you want him back. I don't blame you.
On another note, I'm sorry you couldn't come to his funeral, but I don't think you would have much enjoyed it anyway. It wasn't anything more than a few Order members, and we had to cut it short when they called the Aurors in. It wasn't nearly what he deserved; I hope we get a chance to make it right, after.
Well, I've taken up enough of your time, Harry. Do try to have some summer fun, if you can.
Sirius had left him everything? Tonks was right; he didn't want everything, least of all Kreacher. He wanted Sirius. Harry looked over the letter again and saw there was a post-script he'd overlooked.
P.S. Now you can open the other letter.
Oh, right, the other letter. He'd completely forgotten. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands, staring at the yellowed parchment. The seal caught his eye; he'd seen it before. The rather bold "B"... Did that mean that Sirius had...?
It was all Harry could do to keep from ripping open the letter. Instead, calmly as he could, he broke the seal and opened it very gently, as if afraid it might disintegrate in his hands.
Dear Harry, he read.
If you're reading this, then I have, to the great loss and shock and horror to millions of women, passed on. Shuffled off this mortal coil. Joined the choir invisible. You get the idea.
Anyway, I know you well, Harry. You think I don't? You're probably pushing up your glasses right at this minute—this was true—and now you've stopped because I scared you into it. And no, it's not what your father would have done. I know because I know. Call it post-mortem godfatherly sense.
Well, the reason I point out how well I know you is because I know you're blaming yourself for my death. This is most definitely not a trait you inherited from your father. But you do seem to blame yourself for a lot of things you can't change; I'm sure if you tried hard enough, you could blame yourself for Slytherin's fall from grace with the other Founders. I think what you have is called a "nobility complex," otherwise known as "being too damn noble for one's own good."
I'll tell you right now, Harry, my death is not your fault. When we got into this, James and Remus and I, we all knew there was a chance we'd go. In fact, we all had letters written out to our next of kin, just in case. Like this one, as a matter of fact.
We all decided to treat it like a little joke, because as we all well know, laughter is the very best medicine. Besides sex. But you're a bit too young for that. At least you'd better be, young man.
You'll probably have noted by now that I left you everything. I know you don't want it, but no one asked me if I wanted it either. You are my godson, Harry. Although I have to admit, even if James and Lily were still alive, I'd probably have still left it to you. I don't know why. Perhaps it's the snake theme my family employed.
Anyway, since one rarely gets a last goodbye, and that's generally what one most wants, I've taken the liberty of transcribing our last words to each other.
"I'll miss you, Sirius."
I'll miss you too, Harry. Is there anything you want to tell me before I go?
"Well, there is one thing."
"I wish I had the Black good looks and charm."
Yes, Tonks certainly is an attractive young lady.
"Nah, Tonks is an ugly bird. But you are one fine-looking young man."
Why thank you, Harry! I knew there was a reason you were my favourite godson.
"Any time, Sirius. Provided it's not after this."
You're a very witty young man, I have to say.
I love you, Harry.
"I love you too, Sirius."
Well Harry, I suppose I'll go now, even though this is, sort of, my last message. Have a nice life, and all that. Sorry I won't be able to give you the sex talk, the marriage talk, the you've-gone-and-done-it-now-Potter talk... but you'll live. I won't, of course, but I suppose that's the point of this letter, isn't it?
See you beyond the veil, Harry.
Harry had to admit that he had snorted a couple of times as he'd read the letter. But now he was staring at the last line, and as it sank into his mind, there was only one thing he could even contemplate doing.
It started off as a few weak chuckles before gaining strength. It soon developed into a full blown hysterical laughing fit. He could barely stay standing and, indeed, had to sit down before he fell down.
He knew it was horribly inappropriate. These were his departed godfather's last words to him, so to speak. And here he was laughing! And try as he might, he couldn't stop. He could barely even breathe.
He remembered hearing that his godfather had laughed when Wormtail had escaped. He'd never asked why he would laugh when his whole world fell down around him, but Harry knew, in his heart, that he was not laughing for the same reason, whatever it was. He was laughing because... well... he didn't know. Perhaps because it was as if he knew how it was going to happen. "Beyond the veil" is a common enough phrase, but to use it here...
Eventually, he calmed down, though not quite enough to stop laughing completely. Everytime he was silent for a minute or two he would erupt into giggles at the slightest provocation. At dinner, he tried to be quiet, but every time his aunt, uncle, or cousin said something, he'd laugh again. He was soon sent away from the table for, as Vernon had put it, being weirder than usual.
He completely stopped laughing just before he went to bed, making sure to clear his mind as best he could. Sleep, for once, invited him into its warm embrace rather quickly that night.
They say laughter is the best medicine. Well, Sirius said that sex is the best medicine, but both these are wrong. Though Sirius was quite close.
The best medicine is love, pure and simple. Then laughter. Sex ranks somewhere in the teens.
And Sirius knew this, which is why he sent two of the three in his letter.
Harry'd have to worry about the third on his own.
Somewhere beyond the veil, Sirius Black had the last laugh.