Disclaimer: I own very little. JKR owns them all.
A/N: This is my response to the fourth wave of the Master and the Wolf FQF, the challenge being:
45) Sirius Black cannot "move on" or so to speak before he fixes the
mess he made when he was alive. One of them is ruining Remus' chance
with Severus. To make matter worse, no one can see or hear him but
Harry. How will the two of them cooperate to play matchmaker?
Now, if this fic seems hurried, that is because it is indeed hurried. I've never been one to write well long adventures, especially when the whole story has to be finished before I can post it anywhere -- reviews have always been my best inspiration. So, my apologies for that. I did my best, but it couldn't be helped.
...Now I've got my very own innocent-Harry-thrown-into-Azkaban fic, too. Another one of the fanfic clichés covered.
Meant to Be
THUMB. Something, or rather someone, fell down... somewhere.
"Um... Where am I?" asked a voice after a moment of silence.
Silence was the only response to this inquiry.
"Where the hell am I?"
Again, nothing could be heard.
"I asked you, am I dead or alive? Is this the Heaven or the Hell? WHERE - AM - I?" shouted the person.
This time, something replied, but it wasn't a sound. Yet, although he didn't really hear anything, he knew exactly what was being said. 'I don't think you'd like the answer.'
"Well, try at least," the person said irritably. "Go on. I want to know. Where am I?"
'You're nowhere,' came the mysterious response.
"Nowhere?" Now, the person was really confused. "What does that mean? Am I dead?"
"Alive, then?" Now, there was a hopeful tone in his voice.
'Nope,' came another curt reply.
"Where the HECK am I, then?" snapped the person... let's say that it's a man. Easier that way. And true, even. So, we'll get two birds with the same stone. Pretty well done, eh?
"You said that already," the man pointed out.
'Yes, I did.'
"I'm getting a bit angry," the man said with a deceivingly calm tone. "And when I get angry, bad things usually begin to happen. So beware."
"Between what? Between life and death, eh?" asked the man dryly.
'Kind of. Also, between the past and the future.'
"But that's where we're always," snorted the man. "Not the past, not the future - the present."
"But five minutes ago my present certainly didn't look like this," he continued.
"Do you know what? I'm becoming a bit tired of you," the man announced.
'I bet you are.'
"So please, stop."
Silence surrounded him again.
"I didn't mean, stop talking. Stop irritating me. Tell me everything."
'I'm only here to answer your questions. I can't tell anything that you don't ask.'
"Oh, how great," the man said dryly. "Okay, then. How did I get here?"
'You were supposed to die. To most of the world, you did.'
"So what do you mean saying, 'supposed'?" The man's tone was suspicious this time.
'You can't exactly move on yet.'
"So, am I allowed to reincarnate, then? I don't think I've got enough karma to become more than an ant - a very ugly and annoying ant."
'This has as much in common with the whole karma thing as Auror job has with hide-and-seek,' the voice told him. 'No, you aren't allowed to reincarnate. Just to... fix some things.'
"Great. So, what can I do to fix those things and move on?"
'You can go back. You won't be alive, though, but you won't be a ghost, either. You'll be just... between. Some people can see you. You need those people to help you.'
"Help me to do what?" the man asked. "What do I need to fix?"
'What is your greatest shame?' asked the voice. 'What do you regret more than anything else?'
"Letting Harry grow up alone," the man replied, sounding tired now. "It wasn't supposed to go that way. He was supposed to grow up with me."
'No, he wasn't. As sad as it is, everything went with Harry just like it was supposed to go. You did nothing wrong there, just what you were meant to do. What else do you regret?'
"I... I regret..." The man fell silent, shaking his head. "I don't know. Honestly, I don't know."
'Oh, yes, you do. You just don't want to admit it.'
The man drew a deep breath. "Okay. I shouldn't have spoiled Moony's chances with Snivellius. So, I don't really regret it, but I guess I shouldn't have done that. So, is that what I need to fix?"
'Exactly. Those two were always meant to be together. You spoiled that,' the voice told him. Then, after a small pause, it added, 'Bad Padfoot. Very bad Padfoot.'
"Har har. I'm dying of laughter, can't you see?" snapped the man. "So, I need to fix that. Great. Why? I bet they're already rolling around in Snape's bed now that I'm not in the way anymore."
'No, they aren't. Neither ever dared approach the other in fear of being rejected. And then, something... happened.'
"What happened? What do you mean?" The man was wary now. "It's something bad, isn't it?"
'I suppose you could say so.' If mysterious voices in the middle of nothingness could sigh, then this one certainly did. 'Something happened that was never meant to happen. To be exact... Harry won Voldemort. Okay, so that was meant to be. But then, he was put into Azkaban.'
This certainly startled the man. "Harry? In Azkaban?" he shouted. "Who the Hell did that?"
'The Ministry framed him,' the voice told him. 'With the eager help of Albus Dumbledore, of course.'
At this, the man was silent for a moment. Then, he sighed. "I guess I always knew it," he said quietly. "Dumbledore'd do anything to get to his own ends, right?"
'Right. Anyway, when Remus and Snape found out that Dumbledore had framed him, they threatened to tell everybody. Then the Headmaster did something that drove them apart. Now, you are supposed to fix that.'
"How could I do that? And what did he do? Tell me something at least!" yelled the man.
'I can't. You'll find out when you arrive. It'll be... Oh, yeah, about nine years to your future. By that time, Harry will be free again. That should help your work.'
"So I'm supposed to make sure that Remus gets together with Snivellius. You know, even if that is meant to be, I still can't really see it happening. And I most certainly don't want to see that happening."
'Too bad for you. Are you going or not?'
"What's the option?"
'Nothing,' brief the short answer.
"What do you mean with that?" the man inquired. "Dying or something like that, or nothing-nothing?"
'Nothing-nothing. You wouldn't be dead, because you can't move on. You'd be nothing.'
"So I wouldn't meet James or anything like that?"
'No, you wouldn't. James's dead. You are not that, at least not yet,' the voice told.
"But if I go, I'll at least see Remus? Even if he can't see me?"
'You were going already when I told you could, weren't you? All this chatter was useless.'
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," the man said, acting insulted.
'I would. An adventure Sirius Black isn't going to participate in? Never.'
"Oh, be that way, then. I wouldn't call it an adventure, though. So, how am I supposed to get out of here?"
'Through the door behind you,' the voice replied dryly
The man turned around and truly saw a door. "Oh."
A long, deep silence fell again over them.
'Well, what do you wait for?' asked the voice, sounding irritated now. 'Step inside! This is the strangest adventure you'll ever have! You have to do this! You messed up the world, now go to fix it!'
"Sure," was all that the man said.
Another silence fell.
"Who are you?" asked the man then.
'That I'm not allowed to tell you,' was the only response he got from the voice.
"If I start guessing names, will you tell me when I get it right?"
"Why not? And why can't you tell me your name?" asked the man. He didn't sound irritated, though.
'That wouldn't be right. That would be against the Rules, you see.'
"James?" the man asked then, a bit hesitant.
'Yes?' came the instant reply.
"Will we ever meet again?" There was relief in the man's voice this time for having guessed right, as well as longing for something that was now far beyond his reach.
'You mean, after you die wholly?' the voice asked. 'After you've fixed your mistakes?'
"That's exactly what I mean."
'Of course we will. Nothing could keep us apart forever.'
Yet again, there was a silence. The man made no move to open the door.
'Padfoot?' the voice asked hesitantly.
"Prongs?" the man asked back.
'...I miss you,' came a quiet sigh.
"I miss you, too, Prongs."
Some sounds of steps echoed around. Somebody opened a door, stepped through, and closed it. Then, there was nothing to be heard.
Then, a quiet, almost nonexistent whisper echoed through the nothingness. 'I miss you so...'
Next chapter: Released
Somebody gets out of Azkaban.