A/N Just an idea I had kicking around for a while. Could be the start of a new fic, but not for the moment.
The transition into death was not what could be described as painful, but it was shocking in its own way.
No living person could recognise the awful tearing that occurred when the soul was thrust from this world and into the next. No physical torment can compare, no mental anguish came even close; it was something that could never be adequately described, except to those who had undergone it, and even then, only to others who had undergone the experience themselves. No other frame of reference existed.
Imagine then, if you can, that the sheer agony of not being able to complete the journey and pass on was a thousand times worse.
Nothing can endure such pain for long; something has to give, then existence takes on a new meaning.
Ghosts were created when the soul refuses to leave the world we know. Some part of the thing that makes each and every living thing unique clings to the life it had known and stays after the flesh of the body has cooled, the breath of the lungs stilled, the heart quietened, and the light of life has faded from the unseeing eyes.
Many have a task binding them to earthly concerns. For others it is fear keeping them back. Why this should occur when it does, nobody really understands.
There were other reasons for a soul not to take the long journey too; too many in fact to list, but none were something a normal person would contemplate, let alone actively pursue, not even a wizard.
He floated in a grey eternity of nothingness. For seemingly an age his mind was as blank as the void surrounding him.
A brief flash of emotion suddenly penetrated the numbness enveloping him; a reaching; a pull of love calling to him. Then it faded like an old echo from distant walls.
Another age passed, for time has not meaning in such a place.
Thoughts began to rise in response to the forgotten summons; cold disjointed memories of places and people. They may have been phantoms, or conjured things, but they started to come more often. The indomitable will that made him what he was fought madness and despair and not only clung to life, but clawed its way out to survive, even if it was not wholly intact.
Voices spoke to him sometimes, and though their words were meaningless, they sparked more memories.
Sometimes he could almost think a whole thought.
Sometimes words came to his lips, words that triggered more memories to flood the empty spaces in his head.
He was powerful; he knew that.
Magic had obeyed him. It had flowed from his hands and followed his directions even without spells and incantations. Many had been left in awe at his abilities, though not many had seen the full extend of his control; cunning and caution keeping his secrets safe from most.
Others may have had his skill and strength, but none had shared his willpower.
Another thought made itself clear in his mind - He had been tricked, betrayed even. Though the details were missing, he knew he should not be here, but had been thrust from the land of the living in an unexpected turn of events.
It was time for the magic to obey him again. Now it was time to use every once of his innate knowledge and skill to command the strangest force in the universe.
He had a task; a destiny. It was not time to go onto to the next great adventure. It was not a choice he could make. It was time to go back. It was time to live.
With the steely determination only a very few could ever possess, he pushed his desire into the void and raised his magic to its full impressive height, filling every atom of his very being. As he reached his limit, the most he had ever been able to hold, he did not stop but drew even more into his already bursting self. Power bulged in every muscle, lightning leapt from pore to pore, but still he sucked in more, going beyond anything that could possibly have been achieved by any merely physical creature.
He opened his eyes for the first time, finally seeing what he already somehow knew had been surrounding him; nothing
Magic crackled and sparked in the void, disrupting the timeless quiet that had reigned supreme.
A gasp issued from his ethereal lips as true consciousness returned and realisation of his situation penetrated the newly awoken mind.
No purgatory was going to imprison him; it was time to return to the place he had to be.
With a final almighty act of defiance to fate's design, he released all of the magic that had just moments before being drawn painfully into himself, and willed it to act.
An explosion echoed through the void as the truly enormous amount of magic struggled against the impenetrable, empty ether. The magic burned a hole in the nothing, somehow twisting the lack of reality into something even more impossible as it fought to fulfil its task.
Again and again waves of pure energy rebounded against nothing and returned to wash over him, trying to complete its mission. With each passing he forced more power into it, feeding it like a man might push a child on a swing to go higher each time.
A final indescribable lurching in the grey void tried to crush out his existence, but he stubbornly hung on, refusing to be swept aside by the maelstrom his magic had released.
Amongst the swirling rainbow patterns of magically mutated greyness, a way out loomed; an impossible doorway to life.
With a determined and purposeful step, he started the unknowably long walk towards the door, and back to the land of the living.
Sirius Black was not done for yet.