A/N: I swear, I've had this knocking around my head since I first read Dogsbody some 8 years ago. Glad to finally write it. Enjoy!
Old Friends, New Companions
Kathleen Harding was sitting on her back porch, lost in nostalgia, when she realized that everything around her was much less clear than it had been a few minutes ago. It wasn't just the fading daylight; it was as if everything was kind of fading, or she was looking at it through a thick fog. Even the difference between light and dark—already stretched as the day turned to dusk—was getting less clear. Shadows were covering the scene more rapidly than sunset should allow, though they didn't seem to move.
No, one shadow was moving. Slowly a shape appeared, standing as if it had been there since the beginning of time. But Kathleen knew that it hadn't been there a moment ago. At least, she hadn't been able to see it a moment ago.
Some would have described the shape as both strange and familiar, kind, cruel, loving, and terrifying all at once. To Kathleen, it was all this, but also recognizable as someone—or possibly something—that she hadn't seen since she was twelve years old. The aura of darkness, the hint of horns and glowing red eyes... all just the same. What memories it brought back! But it was not an entirely unexpected sight.
Kathleen rose with a weary sigh, habit making her take care of her old and aching joints. To her surprise, nothing hurt at all. In fact, she felt more alive than she had in years. She felt young again.
"I suppose this is it," she said to the dark figure before her. "Pity. I would have liked to have some famous last words. 'Don't forget to feed the dog' would have done, even." She sighed. "But I suppose real life doesn't work out like that, does it?" She turned around to see how Rosie was taking all this. It was a wonder the poor thing wasn't howling from sheer confusion.
Instead of howling, Rosie (short for Rosabelle, in honor of her Portuguese water dog heritage,) was whimpering softly and pawing a body slumped in the old lawn chair, unmoving.
No, not a body. Her body. Kathleen moved towards it, peering through the fog. She took in the white hair, the wrinkles, the drooping skin. Did she really look that old? And more importantly, if that was her body, then what was the thing looking at her body?
Kathleen looked down at what she supposed was her ghost-self. She looked like she was twenty, at least from the shoulders down. That accounted for the feeling of renewed youth, then.
She turned to face the dark figure again. It had not shifted position in the slightest, waiting patiently for her to figure out being dead. Well, she was fairly figured out now. So what next?
Kathleen decided to ask that out loud, in hope of getting an answer. But before she could, the dark figure spoke.
"Now, you go on." His voice was flat and hollow, like an empty dinner-plate.
Had he (it?) read her mind? Possibly. "What do I go on to?"
"I do not know where mortals go," the figure responded. "I have never been there."
"Oh," said Kathleen, feeling almost disappointed. "How do I get there?"
"You may not go there."
"I can't?" she repeated, alarmed and confused. "Why not?"
"I must clarify. You are permitted to go, but there is a possibility that you will not. You are lucky to have this choice. Most do not, but I was . . . petitioned."
"What?" Kathleen was thoroughly bemused now. "Petitioned? For what?"
The dark one gave no response, merely stepped aside. Behind him was another figure she had not seen for over seventy years. Unlike the first figure, wrapped in his shadows, this one shone brightly, a fierce green light that warmed her all the way through. He was tall and dressed in a semi-casual blue suit. But it was the eyes that held her gaze, bright green eyes that she had known so well, long before she had first seen this man.
"Hallo, Kathleen," said Leo (no, it was Sirius now, wasn't it?) "Would you like to be a star?"