A/N: My first Harry Potter/Discworld fic. Hah, two birds, one stone. It's probably been done, but the plotbunny bit and I couldn't ignore it any longer: this is the result. Originally, I wanted to write a hogswatch piece to fit the season… well, here's what you get after re-reading Half-Blood prince and Soul Music simultaneously. Can't wait 'til Deathly Hallows though. In the meantime, enjoy.
Chapter 1: Beyond the Veil
For Sirius Black, the world turned a pale shade of grey.
There was a streak of red that passed across his eyes. Flash: a bolt of numb weight hitting him in the chest. He was faintly aware in the distance of an anguished cry that he recognised as his Godson's – it tugged at his heart, but his limbs were so weary…
And he fell.
Through the veil: the strange fabric felt like a breeze across his face, but all around him, through him, there was pain, racking pain; he let go of his wand; and, as his vision turned dark, he knew this was the end. At least, was the thought somewhere in his mind, it will be a quick end.
And with a dull thud, he hit the soft ground.
THIS IS MOST UNUSUAL.
A voice. Ah… it had come. He would come to the afterlife. He would know peace – he would see James and Lily again! If he could hear, it must mean he was now a ghost, a spirit – no one could survive the Killing curse, and Harry's escape had been through the sacrifice of his mother – dear Lily.
His eyes flew open, and he nearly cried out aloud at the sight.
AH. GOOD. FOR A MOMENT I THOUGHT YOU WERE A GONER.
He scrambled up "You're the Grim Reaper!" he cried, recognising the macabre, almost caricature-like figure from the storybooks and the legends, mostly the muggle legends. Yet here it was, more solid and more real than anything around him.
I HAVE SO MANY NAMES, The figure said.
"I… never really, believed in such a thing… silly superstitions…" he tried to catch his breath. So he must be a spirit now, dead, utterly dead. For a spirit though, his heart was still pounding very quickly.
"I suppose this is the end… doesn't matter what form it comes in…"
Sirius peered at the figure above him. Deep grey eyes met inscrutable blue eye sockets. He picked up his wand and held it tightly – it had come through the worlds with him, but he doubted its effect against such a being. He straightened.
"Come. Come then. I did my best. I did it for Harry." He closed his eyes, "Come take me."
AND THEREIN, spoke Death, with an almost imperceptible sigh, LIES THE PROBLEM.
He reached into his midnight robes, and brought out an hourglass.
Sirius stared at it, the trickling sands that were coming to a still, and tried to keep his voice composed as understanding dawned, "So that is my life." he said tonelessly, "Oh - Merlin's beard, I never imagined anything like this." He wiped away the sweat from his brow, "I suppose that when the sand runs out… that is when you come, and I... go."
A VERY ASTUTE OBSERVATION, said the spectre, BUT FOR ONE POINT. THIS IS NOT YOUR HOURGLASS. THIS IS NOT YOUR LIFE.
The name on the glass bulb read Barnabas the Foul-Mouthed.
Death pointed. Sirius turned around, and began to realise he was no longer at the ministry, or indoors at all. He was in a town, a town street by the looks of it; the buildings were almost medieval in style, and the smell, oh the smell…
He turned, just in time to see a man wearing furs and a horned helmet crossing the road, and behind him: a cart, broken from its tethers, coming down the sloped road -accelerating – the man had not noticed, drunkenly swaying from side to side as he was – and the cart ran faster, grinding over the cobbles – and Sirius raised his arm and his wand but he knew he would not be in time --
Bang. He blinked.
From behind him, the cloaked Reaper glided towards the flattened barbarian. Sirius watched, open-mouthed, as he watched the man rise from his body – his spirit, his soul – and speak.
"Bloody hell, what the F--- happened?"
YOU WERE RUN OVER BY A CART.
The barbarian nodded sagely, "At least I wore clean underwear."
Sirius gaped. As if in a trance, he watched the scene from afar. He was aware of Death raising the scythe: the downward slash of light: the spirit of the dead man faded away like mist, and around him, the world exhaled again.
He looked up again, into the flickering depths of the eye sockets. There was no malice in them, nothing that could be called emotion, and yet…
Bony fingers landed gently on his shoulder. Then they did it again.
A thought was beginning to dawn on Sirius, a twisted thought.
"Where am I?" he said hoarsely.
THIS IS THE DISCWORLD, OF COURSE. OR, MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE GLORIOUS CITY OF ANKH MORPORK. OR, MORE SPECIFICALLY, A CERTAIN STREET OUTSIDE A WELL-KNOWN TAVERN NAMED 'THE MENDED DRUM'.
On cue, one of the tavern windows was smashed and a tavern patron promptly thrown through it. Sirius watched blankly. Even in the muggle world, he had rarely seen such behaviour, so crude and… preposterous.
He turned back to the skeletal, expressionless face.
"I am not dead." He said.
WELL OBSERVED, AGAIN.
"But I should be!" he cried, his finger stabbing the air, the other hand feeling his chest, and the living heartbeat that was there, "I was hit! The Avada Kedavra curse itself! By Bellatrix…" he spat out the name with venom, "and then… I fell… I remember the veil… I came through the veil." Sirius ran his fingers through his hair, staring dispassionately at the floor, "How did I get here?"
The hooded figure merely looked at him.
THE FIRST TIME I EVER MET YOU WAS WHEN YOU RATHER SUDDENLY ERUPTED FROM THE FOLDS OF MY ROBE.
His face was a skull, but Sirius could detect a slightly sardonic lilt to the tone. The voice arrived directly to his brain without stopping at his ears.
I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THIS VEIL IS THAT YOU SPEAK OF. BUT IT MUST HAVE BEEN POWERFUL MAGIC. THE RESULT APPEARS TO BE THAT YOU CAME OUT THE OTHER END, OF ALL PLACES, THROUGH MY APPAREL. YOU SAY THAT YOU DIED: YOU ARE NOT INCORRECT. IT SEEMS YOU HAVE PASSED THROUGH DEATH HIMSELF AND OUT THE OTHER SIDE.
He seemed to consider the irony for a moment.
HA HA. There was a humourless pause. He continued:
YOU ARE NOT DEAD HERE BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT BORN ON THE DISC. I HAVE NO HOURGLASS FOR YOU. YOU ARE THEREFORE NOT MORTAL. BUT NEITHER ARE YOU GOD, DEITY, OR ANY KIND OF ENTITY… YOUR EXISTENCE IN THIS WORLD APPEARS TO BE PURELY CIRCUMSTANTIAL.
"Ah." Sirius said simply.
YOU DO NOT SEEM TO BE A MONSTER FROM THE SUB-DIMENSIONS, NOR DO YOU APPEAR LIKE A PAWN OF THE AUDITOR'S GAMES... I CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW, BUT IT MUST HAVE BEEN MAGIC OF YOUR WORLD TO CAUSE THIS. WHERE IS YOUR DOMAIN?
"How should I know?!"
WHAT ABOUT ITS NAME?
"I was in the Ministry of Magic! There was something there that I fell through – I was killed and then I came here. A land called England! Earth!"
I HAVE NOT HEARD OF THIS PLACE. THERE IS NO LAND OF THIS NAME ON THIS DISC.
Realisation sunk in. Sirius staggered. So here he was, on some god-forsaken place called the Disc, meeting the hallucination of all hallucinations, the spectre of Death himself. He tried to recall passing though the veil, but it was difficult. He remembered the Before quite clearly – the pain, Bellatrix's gleeful wail as she hit him, and the sound of Harry's cry – oh God Harry, where are you? – and here he was, standing in the After. Inbetween… he frowned. There was only a faint impression of fabric.
HERE YOU MUST REMAIN, the embodiment of Death spoke.
"No! I need to get back." He cried, urgently, "He's in danger. I need to get back to Harry!"
BUT... IN THAT OTHER WORLD YOU WOULD NOW BE DEAD.
"It doesn't matter! I need to make sure he's okay! I - I just want to get back to him."
Death hesitated, then came to a decision. He raised his arms slightly, making the dark cloak billow around him.
I DOUBT IT WILL WORK, BUT I CANNOT STOP YOU FROM TRYING.
The black material of the robes rippled lightly. If that was the way he came, well…
Sirius braced himself, and ran. He bent slightly, preparing to dive into the rippling fabric, and then –
A loud crunch, as head met fleshless bone ribcage.
OOF. THAT WAS QUITE A BLOW
Was the last thing he heard. Pain seared through his skull, not as painful as the feeling of despairing defeat that came over him, and he let out a small groan for both hurts before passing into the grey mist that was unconsciousness.
to be continued...