I do not own Harry Potter and make no profit off of this story.

He hadn't even seen it coming. One moment he was filled with a justifiable rage and the sense of being invincible, the next the bolt was splashing across his chest, hot and sizzling and full of pain. He couldn't believe it. He, Sirius Black, was finally being bested? He who had survived the days of Voldemort's rampage, survived the dementors, escaped Azkaban, was bested by her? All of this flashed through his head as he fell back, the bolt still sizzling on his chest and then he felt cold all over as he felt something like cold satin brush him as he fell...

...and hit the ground. Hard.

"What are you doing in here?" A surprised voice said.

Sirius tuned that out. You weren't supposed to hear voices when you were dead.

"Umm, are you alright?"

"Of course I'm alright. I'm dead!" he snapped back.

"Well, actually I'm not sure how dead we are," the other informed him politely.

Sirius decided to open his eyes. Everything was white. So far everything was pointing to the dead theory.

"My name's Annikaya." There was an expectant pause. "And you are..."



Sirius glanced down at himself, and finding himself whole, sat up. Upon further examination he realized he was not in the floating white vista he'd expected but instead in a white room. That annoyed him even more. Plus it made him depressed. He didn't want to be stuck in one boring white room for all eternity. It was too much like being stuck in his house, just without the annoying picture of his mother screaming at him.

He turned to look at the woman who'd been speaking to him. She was seated in the corner, her knees drawn up to her chest. She had long dark blonde hair and glasses. The glasses reminded him of Harry.

"Bloody hell! What about Harry?"

"Who's Harry?" the woman asked curiously.

"He's in trouble! They're trying to kill him!" Sirius was looking frantically around the room. There was no door, now window, not even one of those muggle electricity plug things.

"I'm sorry."

Sirius turned to her. "Can't you do something?"

"Me? I'm not running this place! Look, there's nothing you can do. Why don't you calm down and tell me about it."

"But I have to help him!" Sirius had found his wand and aimed it at one offending wall. "Blastamus!" he shouted. Nothing happened. "What?"

"It won't work here," the woman informed him.

Sirius ignored her and continued shouting curses at the wall. Finally he gave up and sat down opposite the woman. "Look you-"

"Annikaya," she supplied helpfully.

He went on as if she hadn't interrupted him. "I don't have much experience being dead so..."

"I'm not sure how dead we are," she repeated. This time it caught his attention.

"So, where are we then?" he asked mournfully.

"Well," Annikaya looked around as if seeing it for the first time, "I believe we're in a sort of...purgatory. What I don't understand is how you got here."

"Neither do I." Sirius fell silent.

Annikaya waited awhile for him to speak, then apparently grew impatient. "So, what's your name?"


"Do you have a first name, Black? Or is that your first name?" Her tone was wry, indicating that she didn't really enjoy having to pry answers out of him but somehow still found it morbidly amusing.

"Sirius Black." He paused. "What makes you so sure we're not dead?" He wanted to dismiss her idea of purgatory or any idea of being dead and just think he'd been kidnapped by Voldemort's forces but he remembered his chest burning, the smell of himself on fire.

"I always thought heaven would have angels and happiness and light. And this isn't exactly my idea of hell either." She fingered a gold chain she wore around her neck but Sirius couldn't see what was on the chain. "How did you get here anyway?" she asked.

Sirius groaned. "Harry was right. It was probably all that stupid house elf! It lured me to the Ministry of Magic-"

"Wait, wait, wait! Start at the beginning!" Annikaya interrupted yet again. Sirius found that habit very annoying. "What's a house elf? What's the ministry of magic? And who's Harry?"

Sirius sighed impatiently and told her the whole story.
"So, there you have it." he finished glumly.

Annikaya was shaking her head. "Some people have all the luck."

"What do you mean?!" he demanded.

"I'm an English teacher. And you're a wizard!" she proclaimed as if that explained everything.

"At least English teachers don't typically have people trying to kill them!"

That made her mad. "Oh really? Then I suppose you'd like to tell me how I got here?" She was tired of his superior attitude and grumpy self-pity. She was angry because he didn't know anything about her and thought he did. She certainly didn't ask him to join her.

Her words had surprised Sirius and apparently actually penetrated his self-absorption. "What?"

Annikaya looked a bit embarrassed. "I'm also a writer. Science-fiction, fantasy. A reader tracked me down and felt that I should be with him. He started threatening me and he shoved me. I was in the middle of the street and as I fell back on the people behind me he drew a gun but then there was a big flash and I was here. He hadn't fired the gun, so I don't know how I got here but...actually I felt really cold and I fell here like you did. I remember falling through something too...like...like spider webs or something. So I guess maybe I'm dead...sort of." She shrugged. "I've had time to get used to it. Just...my family must be so upset." Annikaya's eyes filled and she blinked rapidly to clear them. Her nose turned bright red too.

Sirius felt guilty. "I'm sorry." He didn't say that very often. "Harry's the only one who'll be upset about me. And those friends of his. Remus too I guess."

"I'll bet that Dumbledore guy will be."


"Oh, I almost forgot! When I got here I had this too." Annikaya held up something shiny. It was an old Doritos bag that had been opened on the sides to make one big sheet.

"It must have been a port-key." Sirius said. "Lucky you probably backed right into it. Strange though that it was set for here. It must have backfired when you fell on it."

"Yeah. Lucky me." The sarcasm dripped off her words. Sirius guffawed, her tone was so amusing. She glared at him but she was too little for it to be actually intimidating.

Lightning fast her expression changed and became thoughtful. "By the way, although we won't need to eat or anything here, you will sleep."

Sirius was rather taken aback by her abrupt transformation. To cover his confusion he looked around the small white space again. As he looked up he noticed something. From this far away it looked like some sort of mirror covered in a grey cloth. But he knew it must be how he'd entered. And an entrance is usually, but not always, an exit as well.
"I need to get up there." He said with authority.

Annikaya gave him a humoring look. "And you propose to do that how?"

Sirius glared at her. "You would never have been a Marauder."

She looked back at him unruffled. "Of course not. From what you've described I'd be more like Herm...Herm..."


She snapped her fingers. "Exactly. I-" and she said this with pride and authority-"am an overachiever and a perfectionist."

"Then why don't you think of a perfect way out of here?"

"Unless you can fly or have a grappling hook..." There was a pause sufficient to tell her that he had no such thing.

Her eyes alighted on the end of Sirius' wand stuck out of his robe pocket. "Tell me more about magic?"

"Here." Sirius handed her the wand. "When you do one of the simplest spells you swish and flick the wand and say the words. Like wingardium leviosa. Go ahead and try. The wand won't work here anyway." He pantomimed swishing and flicking.

Annikaya eyed him dubiously. "Ok. Wingardium Leviosa!" At her words of command sparks shot out the end of the wand! They fountained, red and blue and yellow, out the end and Annikaya shrieked, dropping the wand. The sparks stopped. Annikaya whirled on Sirius. "I thought you said it didn't work!"

Sirius scratched his jaw contemplatively. "Huh. Fancy that." He picked up the wand and aimed it at the wall again. "Blastamus." Nothing. Then he aimed it at the potato chip bag. "Accio." The potato chip bag sailed into his hand.

Annikaya watched this with interest and wonder. "How come I got sparks?"

"It's not your wand." Sirius said absently. He was eyeing the grey 'mirror' above.

"So if I had my own wand, it would work?"

"Are you afraid of heights?"

Annikaya looked frustrated for not having her imperative question answered but she answered his anyway. "No."

"Good. Wingardium Leviosa! Wingardium Leviosa!" He shouted it twice, aiming once at her and once at himself. Before Annikaya had a chance to say anything she was in the air!

The two floated up gently as Sirius swished and flicked toward the ceiling. Annikaya was grinning like a maniac.

Sirius looked at her in concern. "Are you ok?"

"Better than ok! This is terrific!"

"It's only a simple spell..." Sirius was looking at her as if worried she might be contagious but then he caught himself. Something about her wide-eyed wonder made him reconsider what he'd always taken for granted, what he'd lived his whole life with. He looked at her again out of the corner of his eye. He wondered if this was how it was for all muggle-born wizards. If magic was more precious to them because they didn't expect it.

"Look!" Annikaya exclaimed and Sirius turned to where she was pointing. The walls of their white cell had ended and there was a second 'floor' that they barely had time to register before the wand failed again and Annikaya and Sirius went plummeting back down at least two stories to the floor below.

"That hurt." Annikaya said dryly without moving. "I wonder if I'm dead again. Hey Sirius, will that wand conjure up Motrin?"

Sirius was sitting up slowly. "What are Motrin?"

"Pain killers. Don't tell me you don't have those in the wizard world?"

"Even if I did, I can't just conjure stuff up out of midair. Or else I'd conjure us a door!" Sirius was exasperated.

"Look," Annikaya started to say but was interrupted by a giant yawn. "It's been a long day. Why don't we try again tomorrow? We'll both be better for some sleep, especially you. You look like you haven't slept in weeks."

"Haven't," Sirius mumbled.

"Well, go ahead and sleep now. Nothing's going to happen until we've had some sleep." She demonstrated by curling up in the corner, her head pillowed on her arm.

Sirius sighed defeatedly and lay down in the other corner but sleep eluded him. He opened them again and looked at Annikaya. Her eyes were closed but thick tears were trailing down her cheeks.

"Sirius, do you suppose I could someday get a wand?"

Sirius thought he knew what she really meant. Can I someday have magic? Can I someday be what I've always dreamed about but only been able to write about? He felt a sudden surge of anger. Why hadn't this woman ever gotten a letter to Hogwarts or some other school? Yes, she was a Yank, but didn't they have schools? After all, a muggle couldn't make sparks come out of a wand, so she definitely had potential. She wasn't just a dreamer. Sirius watched her face. "As soon as we get out of here I'll take you straight to Olivander's myself." he swore.

Annikaya's eyes were still closed but a soft smile lit up her face. "Thank you." she whispered.

Sirius listened to her breathing slow into sleep, closed his own eyes, and slept for the first time in weeks.

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