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Chapter One: Black Pit of Wonder
He felt the second jet of light hit his chest, but he couldn't believe it. Bellatrix hadn't bested him…she couldn't have. But it hurt so much. It must be real…must be…
The impact of the blow and the suddenness of it all made him stumble. Backwards he fell…slowly…slowly…and he knew it was all over…
He watched as everyone else stared back at him in horror. Dumbledore turned to the dais, shock reflected in his knowing eyes. Remus was still registering what had happened. The look on his face evolved from disbelief, to horror, to anguish, and finally, to resignation. At last, he let his eyes fall on Harry. The boy had forgotten all else in the moment. The prophecy, the Death Eaters, helping Neville…all that mattered was his godfather-who was now falling away into a veil of darkness and despair…literally.
The last thing he saw before slipping into the unknown blackness was the look of triumph on Bellatrix Lestrange's face. As he felt the back of his head touch the silky fabric of the veil, all he could hear was a woman's joyous scream and a boy's desperate cries of, "SIRIUS! SIRIUS!"…
No, not silence.
There was something else…
But where were they coming from?
Sirius turned around sharply. Nothing was there. Or at least, he thought nothing was there. It was too dark to see anything. And yet…there was light. Light coming from somewhere…
He turned back around and found its source almost immediately. Why, there was the veil! He had only fallen through some kind of curtain. How hard could it be to get back?
He stretched out his hand, relief flooding through his mind, body, and soul. He was alive. He was going back. He was going to get to see that pair of magnificent green eyes once more.
He had only dimly registered how odd it was that he couldn't hear the sounds of the battle that was without a doubt raging just three feet beyond the thin cloth that he was mere inches from.
Sirius paused. If he was not mistaken, someone had just spoken to him.
Hesitantly, he withdrew his hand from the veil.
"What am I waiting for?"
Confused, Sirius tried again. "Wait for what?"
Sirius, after a moment's pause, sighed in exasperation. "I'd rather not, thanks," he said conversationally and stretched out his hand again to the mysterious veil.
The voice was more insistent this time, and Sirius drew back immediately. He suddenly noticed how the whispers seemed to be getting louder, more distinct. The voice of a woman floated out of the darkness from his right while a child's cry emanated from his left. The bodiless voices seemed to be all around him, trapping him, enclosing him in this black pit of wonder. And then, suddenly, there was no more veil.
The voice rose above all the others, reaching into the deepest recesses of his mind. It was inside his head, reading his thoughts as though they were printed out, clear as day, on a bit of spare parchment…it knew him…
"What do you want from me?" he asked uncertainly. He wanted out. Out of this world he never should have entered in the first place. Out of this darkness. Out of this prison…
…but there was no way out…no, the veil was gone…
He was lost.
"I said, what do you want from me!" he yelled, growing desperate. Why wasn't it answering him? Why was it letting him drive himself mad? Had it left him? Where were the whispers? Had they left, too? Why was it so quiet? Bloody hell, not even Azkaban had been able to break him this easily.
How do I get out?
Suddenly, the whispers were back. But this time, he could hear what they said. They were speaking to him, telling him things, things that Voldemort, Harry, even Dumbledore had never known.
Things that made Sirius want to just die.
On and on they whispered, although in the end, they hadn't told him much. Just enough. For even they didn't know all the secrets of the Time.
After an age of endless revealing, which seemed to bypass forever's boundary, the voices ceased.
Sirius didn't know what to do with himself. It wasn't real. It wasn't true. There was no way…just let me die…
-We don't lie-
Sirius barely heard. He was wallowing in his own thoughts, his own newly surfaced illness that threatened violently to overwhelm him if he didn't just give up. I might as well, he thought, sinking to his knees. What can I do to stop it? I can't get out. I can't help. I'm stuck here forever. Stuck here, knowing things I shouldn't. Things I'll have to live with everyday while suspended in this pitiful hole. Things that will just end up killing me in he end anyways. Why not just…let go?
Sirius looked up. What?
-You will go-
But…I don't have the strength…
-You will. Go. Free them. Free him. Free us-
You? Free you from what? You didn't tell me…
"I don't know how!" Sirius yelled, burying his face in his hands.
"I said, I—" he yelled again, dropping his hands to his lap. But he didn't finish. He couldn't. He was too shocked, too speechless. And besides, the voice wouldn't have been able to hear him anyway.
For he was no longer in a dark, empty void filled with hovering whispers. No.
He was in a neighborhood. A neighborhood where all the houses around him were broken and dirty and completely forsaken. It was the place he had grown up in, knew better that the back of his own hand…and despised just as much. Nothing had and would ever change that. Just like these houses would never be fixed again, neither would his heart.
Turning to the space between houses eleven and thirteen, he thought of words well-learned and memorized: The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
And suddenly, there was the battered and beaten door of his childhood home.
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