They were standing in a dusky twilight, the wind blowing a fine dust into the air and they could feel it against their skin. Overhead the stars shone with extra vigor, unobscured by clouds. They were so bright that Sirius had to breathe deeply to assure himself that there really was atmosphere between him and them.
Annikaya was looking around curiously. They seemed to be in some ancient ruin of some sort, crumbled pillars and broken rock scattered about.
"Well, which way should we go?" he asked her, his voice sounding unseemingly loud in the old silence of the ruin.
Annikaya looked about but the scenery continued unbroken as far as they could see. Silently she began picking her way over the rough land. The wind whispered softly around them, singing a dirge for whatever people had once lived here.
Suddenly Annikaya froze and with a strangled cry took off, scrambling over the loose rock. She slipped a few times, skinning knees and palms, but she kept going until she stood in front of a larger stone artifact than the rest. When Sirius caught up with her, cursing under his breath and digging the gravel out of his hands, she was staring at the strange rough stone with the same expression she'd had when learning of magic.
Sirius eyed the thing, trying to see what was so special about it that she had to run all the way over here. So far as he could tell it was just a very large upright hoop shaped piece of rock. It did look rather unusual but he still didn't see...
Of course that was when the big lopsided stone doughnut spoke.
"I am the Guardian of Forever. I am my own beginning and my own ending. Many journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway." The voice was deep and echoed but was still somehow slightly human.
"A sentient time machine?" Sirius groaned. That could cause so much trouble!
"It's not that unusual." Came a new voice and both Sirius and Annikaya spun to see who had appeared without them hearing. It was a woman with long black hair that was tinted green from the strange lighting. She held a tall bluish gray staff that looked like an elongated key. On the top a red orb glowed softly.
Annikaya just watched the woman with wide eyes.
"Who are you?" Sirius asked.
Somehow she conveyed a shrug without moving. "I have many names. You may call me Trista." She turned her attention to Annikaya. "It's the bright star up there. The one that's moving."
Annikaya's face lifted to the sky, silent tears of joy that Sirius didn't understand running down her cheeks. "Which one is it?"
Annikaya's expression became transparent.
"We have to get home." Sirius said pleadingly to the dark haired woman. He didn't know what was going on but he knew that Annikaya wasn't really here with him anymore. That the stars were seducing her.
"The Guardian can take you home." Trista said calmly. Her voice held a knowledge and a wisdom that reminded him of the wind of this place.
Annikaya didn't stir from her silent worship of the moving pinpoint and Sirius was suddenly afraid.
"Let's go home Annikaya." He knew he was begging, could hear it in his voice, and he didn't care.
"But that's...this is..." her eyes were full of dreams and far above him even though she'd turned to look him in the face.
"Please." He asked her.
Her emotions ran across her face freely and the tear tracks on her cheeks were now twisted in the agony of the choice. "Sirius-"
"I love you Annikaya." It burst out of him, a last plea, a wild confession. He'd lost too much in his life and he couldn't bear it if she chose to stay behind.
The stars faded from her eyes and she collapsed into his arms. "Take me home Sirius."
And he held her tightly against him, assuring himself that she was there. That she'd chosen him. That she was really his.
Trista smiled enigmatically and spoke soft unheard words to the Guardian of Forever. An alluring bubble like film spread radiantly over the center hole of the awesome artifact.
Still holding each other tight, neither looked back as they stepped through. They were finally going home.
They landed this time right in Minister Fudge's office. Considering what they'd just gone through with the other Fudge, they weren't too happy to see him. He wasn't too happy to see them either because he'd been claiming for years that Sirius Black was a dangerous mass murderer and then he was proved wrong and had to 'posthumously' clear Black on the same day. The whole scandal really hadn't done any good to the Minister's public image. So there was a lot of angry shouting and screaming when Sirius and Annikaya materialized suddenly right on his desk. All the carrying on brought in all the aurors, who thought Fudge was being attacked. Which is how Annikaya finally got to meet Tonks, who burst in, sparks shooting wildly from her wand. Seeing Sirius she immediately tripped and ended up knocking over Fudge, who then almost got eaten by the potted plant in the corner. Someone had forgotten to feed the plant that morning and it was very disinclined to release the Minister. Sirius and Annikaya both found this enormously satisfying. Of course, as soon as they got Fudge released he was ready to send for restraints and veritiserum before anything else, which had Sirius ready to bolt since he didn't know he'd been cleared. It took Tonks' rather garbled teary explanation, accompanied with flashing neon pink hair, before he'd close the window and promise not to run off. Fudge was still yelling about imposters and dark plots. Another auror, Druid by name, finally muttered a quick spell that went mostly unheard and completely ignored by everyone who did hear. The wonderful spell happened to immediately send the red-faced Minister off to sleep, which gave everyone's ears a rest.
"Now then," Druid said, taking a nice steady breath. "Why doesn't someone call Dumbledore?"
That suggestion was met with a lot of cheering, as the commotion had attracted quite a crowd and everyone was ready to hear the story of the murder-turned-hero. The problems with such a crowd were of course numerous. Not only did it take a full twenty minutes before anyone could decide just who would send word to Dumbledore, but there were also quite a lot of reporters showing up.
By the time Dumbledore arrived, Sirius and Annikaya were being pelted with questions and flashing cameras. They were very glad to see him and even more glad when he shooed away all the people and closing the door to Fudge's office with a definitive click.
"Can you indeed prove that you are Sirius Black?" Dumbledore asked solemnly.
"I would be willing to take veritiserum Headmaster." Sirius said without hesitation.
"And I'll vouch for him and take it too." Annikaya chimed in, squeezing his hand gently.
"I don't believe there's any need for that. Though, you must realize this is a very difficult position Sirius. You died, or disappeared as that may be, over two months ago."
"Two months?! How's Harry?"
"He will be most excited to hear you are indeed alive. But why don't you tell us where you've been?"
The two ran through a condensed version of events that still took quite a while to tell. They had been rather busy after all. By the time their tale was through it was late and so they all went back to Number 12 Grimmauld Place. The welcome immediately set Annikaya to sobbing joyfully again as Harry and Sirius were tearfully reunited. Then someone let it slip to Mr. Weasley that Annikaya had lived as a muggle her entire life and she was immediately snatched up to explain the use of humidifiers. All night, people from the Order were streaming in and out trying to catch a glimpse of Annikaya and to congratulate Sirius for not being dead as well as being a freed man at last. In honor of all the chaos the Weasley twins kept setting off rockets and tricking people into eating their sweets. Mrs. Weasley, busy trying to keep everyone fed and fussing over the new arrivals, couldn't keep up with them. It was a night Annikaya knew she'd never forget.
She would quite cheerfully choose to forget the following weeks though. Both were required to make press statements, the Department of Mysteries wanted more information on the Veil of Lethe, there were even awards given to them by the Minister in an attempt to salvage his public image.
So Annikaya was very pleased to enter into the foyer of the Black family home after the very final public requirement and find the house still and silent. At least until the portrait of Mrs. Black started screaming at Sirius and her.
"Defilers! Traitors to the noble house of Black! Consorting with a filthy mudblood! You're a disgrace to the name!"
Annikaya turned, fed up with the portrait and the family that had nothing to do with the wonderful man she cared about.
"You know what? You're the disgrace!" she yelled at the portrait, incensed. "You're no mother! You're a pathetic, lonely, bitter excuse for a human being that has nothing better to do that cause pain to other people. All you do is try to hurt everyone who's better than you. Well guess what? You're never going to get what you want because I won't let you hurt him or anyone else! You may not love your son but I do!"
The painting's face was turning dangerously red and her eyes were bulging with rage but Annikaya wasn't done.
"Diffindo!" The dueling spell used to cut neatly sliced the picture off the wall as more traditional and house-safe spells had failed to do. A large piece of plaster came too but Sirius found he really couldn't care less as the portrait let out an undignified shriek and landed on the floor. Annikaya picked up the painting and threw it out in the lawn. "And stay out!" Then she breathed deeply and turned to Sirius with a pleased expression on her face.
He was watching her with a funny warm light in his eyes. "You didn't have to do that for me."
"I know but she's just really annoying. Er...I'm sorry about the wall."
He laughed. "That's ok. To be honest...I'm thinking about moving."
"Really? Where?" she hadn't expected that.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye, grinning mischievously. "Well, I know this person and they're going to be teaching at Hogwarts next year. I really like this girl and so I thought I'd move a little closer."
Annikaya blushed, for she was teaching Muggle Studies next year while she received magic training. She was, after all, highly qualified to teach Muggle Studies.
"But what will the Order do?"
"Oh, I'll donate it to them. When I was declared a murderer the Ministry liquidated some of my holdings but they've all been refunded now, so it's not any trouble."
"So where are you thinking about moving to?" she asked, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Well, there's this cute little place up for sale in Hogsmead right now. Nice little four bedroom affair."
"Oh really? Why would you ever need that much space?" she asked teasingly.
"Well, Moony will be moving in. I want him out of that terrible apartment he's got right now. And Harry will come over to stay. I'll have plenty of room for my family."
Present family and family to be was quite obviously implied.
"Mmm." Annikaya smiled contentedly. "So will you have a housewarming party?"
"Of course! Marauder style."
"So who will you invite?"
Sirius pretended at nonchalance. "Oh I don't know. It'd be kind of nice to celebrate with everyone who helped us get here. You know, even if they aren't the exact same people who got us here."
"You mean like the Nevaria, Lexi, Rosalind, Tumbleweed, Vavy, Azaelia, Melody, Berlin Bear, and Marcus of this world?"
"And our other friends too. Druid, Dumbledore, Remus, Tonks..."
"I think that'd be wonderful." Annikaya said. She looked up into Sirius' eyes and smiled warmly at him, full of happiness and contentment.
He smiled back before reaching down to kiss her.
Yes, it was all going to be wonderful.
Please review! It really helps me to know things I can fix and things that were liked since I really want to be an actual published author someday. So every little bit of advice helps.