The veil is probably one of the greatest mysteries in the Ministry, if not the magical world as a whole. No one knows how it got there and no one knows who built it. No one even knows how old it is. All anyone knows about it is that it's simply there and anyone that passes through dies in an instant; their body disappearing through it. There's not a single person could tell you how it works.
Long ago, in times of war the ancient device was used as a humane way to execute prisoners; those who were so vile and so evil, that the death penalty was the only option; not even Azkaban would be a worthy enough punishment for them. The room the device was housed in was completely empty, save for the massive arch that enclosed the Veil. To most people that came into this room, which admittedly wasn't many, there was an eerie quiet that permeated the walls and chilled them to the core. Not even Dementors instilled as much unease as this simple room did and all those who could avoid going here did. A brave few souls even claimed to hear voices whispering from the Veil, haunting those who venture near.
When Harry Potter and his friends broke into the Ministry, it was perhaps the first time in many years the chamber had been used by anyone save for the occasional Unspeakable attempting to study the mystery of the air was being filled by the hum of magic, lit up like a Christmas tree as curses and hexes buzzed around the room.
While not perhaps the most famous battle of the war, or the most destructive, it was perhaps the most important. It opened the eyes of the government to the fact that Lord Voldemort had indeed returned, after nearly a year of openly refuting the idea. It was perhaps this blatant ignorance that cost Sirius Black his life. While it was true that Harry had been led there under false pretences and that some would argue he shouldn't have been there to begin with. No one can deny the fact that had the Ministry heeded his and Dumbledore's warnings then maybe there would have been more defenses against the assault of a group of death eaters, and a group of school children wouldn't have had to prove to the wizarding world, the return of the most dangerous being in the past century.
Sirius didn't feel anything as he passed through the veil. He had been struck unawares by the Killing Curse of Bellatrix Lestrange and simply fell back, eyes wide in shock. His greatest mistake had been his arrogance and he knew that. Even in death he could see what a fool he'd been. Now Harry had no family left and he felt bitter sitting around in the afterlife, looking down at his godson became swallowed in grief.
When Sirius looked in on Harry in Dumbledore's office later that night, he could hardly believe his eyes. Harry was incensed, no Harry was truly enraged. Sirius had never seen Harry so angry. It just wasn't in his nature. He watched as Harry destroyed Dumbledore's office, in an explosion of magic while pointing the finger at his failings. Sirius allowed himself a chuckle at that. Only Harry would have the gall and courage to stand up to the Headmaster like that.
Now he had a more complete view of what was going on, he could see that Dumbledore wasn't all he was cracked up to be.
He was flawed just like anyone else and had made fatal mistakes in Harry's upbringing. It made Sirius sad that he was now in no position to help the man. Even when ranting and raving at the headmaster, anyone could see how dead his eyes looked. They simply had no life left in them. He had lost nearly everything and each year he was losing more and more. The rage seemed to be the only thing keeping Harry going. If things carried on the way they were, pretty soon he was likely to do something rash…something suicidal just to end it all. He looked completely lost.
Sirius took his attention away from Harry, not wanting to see anymore. Being dead, he realized was like being locked in your own mind. You could see all you wanted to see and do what you felt like but it was like watching a movie. You couldn't change a damn thing.
Right now he was sitting in a mock-up of the Gryffindor common room. It was one of the few places he called home, other than James's house. He hated Grimmauld place with a passion and would have burned it to the ground had the Order not needed it's use. For a second he thought about making a cup of hot chocolate and it appeared before him under a coaster, one of the advantages of this place being that you only had to think of something you wanted and it appeared. He knew he could get up and make one but he found he didn't have the willpower. It hurt to see his godson in so much pain and even thinking about it made him hurt inside.
"He'll be ok Sirius…he's a strong lad" came a concerned voice from beside him. James Potter was sitting next him, loosely wrapping an arm round the soldiers of his Marauder friend. For years he had wanted to see his face and to hear the voice of his best friend again. He just hoped it would be under better circumstances and in a long, long time. He took a tentative sip before his half heated reply came.
"I know James…I just…I feel like I've failed him. If only I shut my god-"
"We can't dwell on whats happened." James interrupted."It's happened now and nothing we can do will change it. He'll be okay eventually, I hope...just give him time. As I recall you weren't in the best state after our deaths either," James said giving a humourless laugh. His free arm was wrapped around a red haired girl on the couch next to him. She smiled kindly in reassurance but Sirius could see the pain in her eyes too.
"There is nothing you could have done," Lily said soothingly, though there was hurt in her own voice. He knew she was right but couldn't help but feel regret. All those years he will never get with his godson. He suddenly felt guilty. Here were the two people that knew exactly how he felt, people that have probably felt like that for the last 14 years. They should have been able to raise their son but Lord Voldemort had shattered that dream in an instant, striking them down mercilessly. Sirius felt bad about feeling bad now. The irony was not lost on him.
"Thank you" Said Lily after a few more minutes of silence. She almost whispered the words but her eyes were locked on his, a smile on her lips.
"For what?" asked Sirius.
"For being there…I know you didn't get much time with him but thank you for being there for him." She smiled.
Sirius could only look to the floor in embarrassment. "It was nothing" he mumbled. In truth it wasn't. To him it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
A few more minutes passed off in uncomfortable silence. In all the years he wished to see James and Lily's face again and now he had no idea what to say. The words seem to escape him. It took him several minutes before he could think of a way to break the tension.
"So what have you two been doing here then? I take it the afterlife isn't all sitting in what looks to be the Gryffindor common room watching over Harry."
"I thought you'd never ask," came James' reply, a small smile back on his face. "For the most part we have been watching over our Harry but we also speak to our other relatives who have passed. Did you know we are related to the Perevells?" he said but Sirius simply shook his head. He didn't even know who they were.
"They were the creators of the Deathly Hallows".
Sirius's eyes bulged at that statement. "They are real?" came his surprised reply.
"Very," said Lily though he could feel anger in her voice. "If Dumbledore hadn't taken that damned cloak off of James-"
"Then we would still be dead and Voldemort would have it" James said turning to face Lily. "You don't seriously think a simple invisibity cloak would have saved either of us do you? Or kept Harry out of harms way? He would have found out one way or another and killed us both…there was nothing that could have been done sweetheart," he said softly.
With that statement her anger ebbed a little though Sirius could still see in her eyes that she was far from happy with the man. In truth no-one could blame her. Gears turned in Sirius's head as he worked out the meaning of their words.
"You mean that's the cloak? The cloak?" he asked in deep surprise.
The Hallows were a legend, a fairy tale told to wizarding children before bed. The fairytale spoke of three brothers who had cheated death and were granted boons from Death himself. The catch was that these boons were more like curses than boons.
The first brother asked for an undefeatable wand and a wand was forged from an Elder tree, wielding power like no other. The man became arrogant and bragged about it after winning a wizarding duel and was subsequently killed for it; such was the jealousy of the people that overheard his boasting.
The second brother asked for a way to bring the dead back to life so Death picked up a stone and said the stone could bring anyone back to the land of the living. The catch was that they didn't belong; their presence mere apparitions rather than solid object. The person in question was cold and distant. The brother, thinking that he could bring the woman he had hoped to marry back to life, eventually killed himself, such was the madness of his longing.
The last brother was wise and cunning, and didn't trust Death at all. So he asked for a way to evade Death, to avoid him completely. Reluctantly Death gave over his own cloak of invisibility. After many years Death never found this man until he reached a ripe old age and welcomed him with open arms like an old friend, gifting the cloak to his son so he may repeat the pattern. It was a story told to teach humility to children. He had never thought there would actually be some truth to the story.
James simply nodded. "Yes the cloak. I'll admit I didn't know at the time what it was. I know Harry doesn't…Dumbledore saw it for what it was and wanted to examine it. Let's just say he was…-"
"Obsessed?" Lily offered.
"You could call it that, with that Hallow. He's got the Elder Wand in his possession now. The only one that remains lost is the resurrection stone." James finished.
This gave Sirius a lot to think about. Evidently Dumbledore wasn't the person he thought he was. Of course he knew Dumbledore wasn't evil like Voldemort by any means. Sirius just didn't think it was wise to give Dumbledore that kind of power. With all the events that had been happening last year and the way the Headmaster had treated Harry's situation, his opinion of the man had gone down considerably. His mistakes had cost Sirius his life and more importantly, it had cost Harry his only real parental figure. While it was true Remus was still alive, it was easy to assume he would be too busy over the coming years due to the war to act as such a figure.
"Hmmm," voiced Sirius though fading into his own thoughts. "Well this is certainly news. I'm still not comfortable with Dumbledore pulling the strings, but I guess there is nothing we can do now and if I hadn't died I doubt I would know the extent of what's happened."
"Exactly," replied Lily, her eyes exuding sadness. "It's a double edged sword. Only now that we are gone do we know the information that could save Harry's life, and what's more is that if people would just tell him everything he needs to know, he would have a much better chance of things."
Lily sighed before she continued, "Dumbledore's involvement is more of a hindrance than anything else. He's by no means a bad person but he seems to think his opinion is the only one that matters and history dictates that his judgement is far from infallible. It's just so…frustrating sometimes," she finished almost sounding weary. She laid her head on James shoulder as he reassuringly squeezed her closer to him. They all felt so lost. It was a few more minutes before anyone spoke again.
"Damn! I just remembered," exclaimed Lily with a look of horror on her face. "Now you're dead, all of the Black estates and the Black vault will be inherited by the Malfoys! As if Voldemort doesn't have enough resources at his disposal."
To this Sirius smiled. "I've already taken care of that. Soon after I escaped from Azkaban I named Harry my successor and my heir. Everything will go to him! The Malfoy's won't get a knut don't you worry about that!"
"Thank God," Laughed both James and Lily and soon after Sirius was laughing with them.
"You think anyone will try and interfere?" Asked James tentatively.
"Don't think so. Even the Minister Of Magic himself can't interfere with Gringotts matters or matters of family declarations. Since the Black vault is one of the biggest in existence the goblins will probably pay special attention to the change in the vaults ownership. Their culture has so many laws I doubt anyone could get to it if they tried. Rest assured, the money is safe." Said Lily, conviction in her voice.
Lily was the smartest person anyone of them had ever known. She was almost never wrong and no-one was going to challenge her on this.
It was a single small piece of good in a whole mess of bad. No doubt Voldemort would find another way to fund his reign of terror but at least he won't be getting his hand on the Black fortune. Harry would have a hard enough time of things as they were he didn't need anything else making life harder.
What should have been a happy reunion between friends was becoming a very sombre affair. They all wanted to be out in the real world doing something. What good was information if you could do nothing with it. They couldn't even talk with people that indeed could use it instead they were stuck there…in their own 'heaven', no amount of irony lost in the fact none of them were happy there. The place itself was their own personal utopia there was no doubt about that, they just wished they could help those in peril down below. It felt like an injustice. They wanted to be with Harry so desperately that they would do anything to get down.
For the next hour the three of them tried to talk about old times, summoning beer and snack food as they reminisced about times of old; James and Lily's wedding, the first time the marauders became Animagi, James's first prank of Severus (Lily looked annoyed when he mentioned that...she always disagreed with his treatment of Severus), the creation of the Marauders Map, how James finally got Lily to give him a chance, some disastrous dates that Sirius had had.
As the night wore on, more and more stories came to air for the first time in years but no matter how much they laughed and joked no-one could seem to shift the hollow feeling they had on their chest. They didn't feel like they deserved fun. They had all failed in protecting what mattered most to them.
James didn't even have his wand on him when Voldemort struck him down in the hallway and Sirius was too busy taunting his cousin to notice to curse that managed to blast him through the Veil. Lily was without any blame at all but she still felt guilty. She done everything she could and still couldn't protect her son.
The blood protection wasn't infallible as Harry's fourth year had proven. In truth she could have given him the moon and it still wouldn't rid her of the guilt she held for simply not being there. Everyone deserved their parents.
What was worse is that she had to watch as her only son was regularly beaten and abused by her sister and her husband. The one protection she had given Harry against Voldemort being the same curse that couldn't protect him from them. Just watching his treatment at the Dursleys made her eyes cloud over with anger. She could forgive Petunia for almost anything but the way Petunia treated her son was overstepping a line that no-one should ever cross.
She would forgive anything that Petunia did, after all she was her sister even if they didn't see eye to eye but this? This was unforgivable. Vernon was even worse in a way, constantly belittling him and even hitting him on occasion. Even when Harry saved their son from Dementors over a year ago they still blamed him and shunned him. What was worse is that there was never any retribution. Dumbledore would do nothing, and Harry would never tell anyone, his noble attitude not wanting to offload his problems onto someone else. The wards around the property also made it impossible for anyone with intent to harm any of the inhabitants from coming near it so no-one could help even if they knew.
The room had just started to go quiet again when there was a loud knock on the door. It was so unexpected that Sirius jumped up and knocked his drink over himself. Lily's eyes widened slightly in alarm and surprise but other than a little twitch she recovered quickly.
"Ah Merlin's balls…expecting anyone James?" he asked while trying to dry himself off with a tissue.
"No…" he looked confused and…scared for some reason.
"What's wrong Prongs? I know that look." Sirius asked with a little concern. James sat back in his chair and took a deep breath.
"No one can find this place unless we let them. So whoevers at the door shouldn't be there as we didn't tell them to come."
The door knocked again, a little louder and slower this time. There were worried faces all around but also tinged with a tad bit of curiosity. Who could be calling at this time? If no-one knew where they were then how could someone find them? Why were they even here? In the end curiosity won out over fear and Lily got up out of her seat and made for the door.
"Draw your wands just in case… I know we can't die again, but we can still be hurt," she said in a low voice as she slowly twisted the handle. Something they had discovered the hard way. Wounds may not be permanent in the afterlife, but it didn't mean they didn't hurt.
You could feel the tension in the room; the only sound being made was the slight creaking as the metal hinges of the door swung it open and revealed a figure. Lily narrowed her eyes as a man she didn't recognise was standing with his arms crossed outside the door. His black robes seemed to billow out and move even though there was no wind. They didn't know who he was but knew enough to realise this wasn't just a simple visitor.
"Ah….who are you?" Lily asked tentatively to the stranger keeping her wand drawn.
The stranger simply lowered his hood and smiled, revealing a young man with black hair and yellow eyes. Glowing white runic markings covered his face, emanating an energy that was foreign to her. Lily didn't know what to make of it.
"Relax, I mean you no ill will. I come on the authority of the Source himself,"
"The Source?" Lily asked confused.
"God, Jehovah, Allah…he has many different names" He said calmly, Lily's eyes widened at this and she quickly let the man in gesturing to the chairs
"Stand down, he's safe" she told the tow nervous men before she turned back to the stranger, "Come sit down…I trust you have a message of some kind? I'm sorry I'm not sure how these things work. What's your name if it's not too much trouble to ask?"
He laughed again. Human souls can be so naïve he thought. He made his way to one of of the comfy chairs and made himself comfortable, snapping his fingers to make a beer appear out of thin air.
"You don't need to do that" said James shaking his head. "Just ask the room in your mind what you want and it will appear".
"Oh I know…let me have my fun eh?" said the stranger with a chuckle.
Sirius and James laughed with him for a few seconds and then sat on the sofa opposite him with apprehensive looks on their faces. What possible reason would the Source have to want to leave a message with them? They were just a few wizards, nothing important about them except the child they all died to protect. Those identical thoughts were running through all three of the them and the unnatural pause before the man started speaking wasn't helping.
"First of all, I don't have a name…at least not one humans can pronounce anyway. I guess you could call me fate or destiny. I control certain aspects of the human world but I can't interact with it. I guess you could say I maintain the equilibrium of the world".
"Equilibrium? How on earth is Lord Voldemort in anyway part of balance?"
Fate looked down for a few seconds before replying. He looked sad, like he was reliving a particularly bad memory.
"Ah…well he wasn't my doing. What you must understand is that there are many like me. One Angel can't govern the whole world-"
"Wait a sec you're an angel?" Lily interrupted. This hardly looked like what she always assumed an angel would look like. No wings or pure white cloaks with unparralleled beauty. This man looked rugged and wouldn't look out of place on a battlefield in the medieval ages.
"Yes" he said looking annoyed for a brief moment. "Can people you please not interrupt again I'm not supposed to be here for long he said in a slightly irritated tone. Lily looked chastised before speaking in a low whisper
"Sorry." She said, still looking down.
"Thank you" continued Fate "As I was saying, there is too much to do for a single one of us to cover the entire globe. In fact there is probably too much for the hundred or so of us there are now but we manage. What I am about to tell you, you must listen closely. It's all relevant in a way and I'll explain the best I can. About 60 years ago, one of our own got corrupted…turned dark. For years he caused trouble out of nothing, making trouble just for the hell of it. We didn't know what was going on before it was too late. It was him that caused the first and second world wars. He tried twice to destroy Britain and failed. By the time we got round to stopping him, millions had died. We tried him in Judgement before the archangels and he was eventually executed, but little did we know that he had already set events in motion." His expression turned grave, sadness clouding his eyes as his tone came out almost strained.
"He tainted a young boys magic, removing all positive feelings from him. He could not love…he could not feel happiness…all he could feel was hate and anger and fear. That boy was Tom Riddle. At first we didn't notice as he just looked like another soul lost to dark magic which while tragic is still not all that uncommon. These people usually get hunted down and killed before anything truly bad can happen. Alas this did not happen. The moment he started creating Horcruxes everything changed. He could not be killed and he became sub-human, purely an animal hell bent on causing chaos and destruction. While he spouts a pure blood agenda to his followers in truth he really has no aim other than the destroy the the worldaround him, and make those aroudn him as miserable as possible and of course to live forever as it happened. He created the Horcruxes to avoid death but that was a small thing to him. A simple means to and end. He craves power it's a simple as that. He doesn't care what else happens around him."
James, Lily and Sirius sat there listening to Fate's tale of the man they knew as Lord Voldemort. It was interesting, hearing what motivated him but scary all the same.
"Some people just want to watch the world burn…" Lily muttered.
"What?" asked James.
Lily simply smiled her husband. "Line from a muggle film but I think it applies in this case. You still haven't told us why you're here"
"No I haven't, have I?" he said getting up out of his chair and paced for a few seconds, eying each of the group in turn. It almost looked like he was pausing for effect, putting on a show just for the hell of it.
"A lot of things have not gone the way they should have because of him. Here was a man that feared death to the point of believing in a prophecy, a prophecy that predicted his downfall. In the end it was self fulfilled. Had he not listened to it in the first place, it likely would never have had any power and it would remain unfulfilled like most prophecies in the Department Of Mysteries. In the end he created his own worst enemy, and has been paying the price ever since. He has nowhere near the amount of power now than he did before your death. Harry Potter planted seeds of doubt in his power and they have been growing ever since his curse rebounded and destroyed him on Halloween. Mark my words he is still powerful and dead as you very well know…" he paused for a second, taking in a deep breath before continuing.
"And now we are back to the reason I'm here; as I said, a of things have happened that shouldn't. He created Horcruxes; a magic so dark and against the fabric of of the universe that life itself is evening the scales. The Source is instructing me to do something today that has never been done before, something that will probably never be done again."
His lips curled up into a smile. It would have looked sinister had his eyes not been gleaming in barely suppressed glee.
"He's allowing me to send one of you back".
To say they were surprised was an understatement. Lily's jaw hit the floor and James was doing his best fish impression, opening and closing his mouth quickly, not able to find the any sound to push out. Sirius looked almost white and if he wasn't already dead, anyone could mistake him for a corpse, for he was not moving an inch, such was the surprise at the man's statement.
"bB-b-back?" Lily stammered. "To the living?"
"Yes the living. Normally even under this situation there would be no changing it, as death is final and absolute. There is no way around that. If we simply let people back because things were not going our way then hundreds of people would be sent back every day. No, this is a special circumstance, a circumstance you actually have Sirius to thank for." Said Fate again and for the first time since his announcement, Sirius moved.
"Me? what do you mean?" he asked, almost whispering, confusion on his face.
"Yes, you. When you sacrificed your life for Harry and fell through the Veil you invoked powerful magic. The same as Lily's in fact, though you were not actually dead before you fell through the veil. If you think back you were hit by a red beam of light, not a killing curse. you were alive when you were knocked through the arch. Your act of love in saving Harry means the Source has allowed an exchange. You have essentially swapped your life for James' or Lily's, depending on who chooses to go back. No one but a blood relative of Harry's would be able to make use of this sacrifice, so you two are the only candidates here. I know you had no idea at the time as to what you had done but you have essentially swapped your life for someone else's. I can't explain it. The Source wouldn't tell me everything."
James and Lily could not believe what they were hearing. Here they were being given a chance to do something they had wanted to do since they died; give Harry a family. A lone tear ran down Lily's cheek, so overcome she was by raw emotion. It was a dream come true except there was one problem.
"You mentioned only one of us would be able to go back?".
Fate shifted in his seat uncomfortably.
"Yes…unfortunately I don't have the power to send you both back as it's an exchange. The Source was very specific in saying I was only to allow one of the two of you go back, and I could not let you both through. As soon as I send one of you through this side of the Veil then it will close again and no one will be able to go through like before. I know it's a hard decision to make but you will need to decide which one of you will go." He walked towards the door backing a move to leave.
"I'll give you time to make your decision. Call me when you are ready".
He left the room, silently closing the door behind him, leaving behind the shocked faces of Lily, James and Sirius. A rare gift had been given and they needed to make the most of it. For a few minutes no one said anything, contemplating the information they had been given. This was a chance to give Harry everything he had deserved and some of what had been stripped from him; a proper family. While it was true only one could actually come back, there were still the commissioned portraits stocked in the family vaults that automatically activated after the persons death. While it was no replacement, it was something that a boy starved of love would appreciate. This was no decision that could be taken lightly, even if there was no right or wrong answer. Harry would be ecstatic to be with James or Lily. To him it wouldn't matter which. It was James who broke the silence first.
"Lily you should go." He said in a flat voice.
Lily looked at James with a grim expression, despite the hurt in her eyes. "Why me? he already has a mother. He needs you more than he needs me" she said sadly.
James tentatively stroked her hair and looked into her eyes. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Already has a mother? You mean Molly? She may have taken him in and treated him like a son but she's still not her son. While I would love to meet him and tell him how proud of him I am it is you that will make the most difference in his life." James said with steal in his voice. He could tell how dejected she felt. Ever since she saw him bonding with the Weasleys, he could see a slight tinge of jealousy mixed with pain as she looked at them. It was her job to take care of him and a cruel turn of events had prevented that. She was happy that he now had people that cared for him but still felt sad that she wasn't the one doing it.
He stroked her cheek as tears slowly leaked from her eyes.
"What do you mean? I've missed 14 years" she said, her voice quivering.
"So have I." James said, smiling at his wife, and wiping away a tear with his finger. "But he needs to feel loved more than anything. Don't get me wrong, I love him dearly, but you are perhaps the most loving person I have ever met," Lily gave a small laugh at that "and that is what he needs the most. Plus out of the two of us you're the more likely to be able to handle Dumbledore when the time comes". Her eyes darkened the last comment but she didn't say anything on it.
"Lily, James is right, you're the best choice. Prongs is my best friend and even I can say he's hardly the best person to deal with Dumbledore. You are the Hogwarts prodigy and are practically viewed as a saint among the wizarding world, at least to the ones who don't abide by pure blood philosophy. Don't forget that you helped us Marauders at school and were never caught once. I don't even think the teachers suspected you were involved in half the stuff we pulled..."
"Padfoot, focus," James snapped but his eyes betrayed his face which was sparkling with badly hidden laughter.
"Oh right, sorry. The point I'm trying to make is you can make the most difference. Not to mention that the blood wards are tied to you, and only you can move them. If James comes back Dumbledore may still try and make him live at the Dursley's I can name three good reasons for you being there instead of James for every reason James should be."
"I love him Lils, and it pains me to say this but he's right. I just want him away from those…people." he said emphasising the last word. As much as he wanted to call them every name under the sun they were still Lily's family, even though she had more than a few choice words to describe them herself.
"O…ok" she sobbed silently. James wrapped an arm loosely around her shoulder as she cried silently into his chest.
"I'll miss you so much," She said into his chest.
By now James too had lost his composure. He was about to lose his wife again but not in the way he would expect. It was like she was about to die except in reverse. She would now leave to live a full life again. It would be without him, even if it was only "temporary".
He let tears flow freely from his eyes, knowing that they would meet again some day. He couldn't really decide whether they were tears of sadness of tears of joy as this was an equally sad and happy moment. It took some time before they were in enough control to speak again.
All the while Sirius sat silently, letting the two parents make this decision alone. It was not his place to interfere. As much as he wished it would be him going back to raise his godson, James and Lily deserved it much more. It was a few more minutes before Lily's voice called out towards to the doorway.
"We're ready" he called, still crying slightly.
The door opened again very slowly and Fate walked in. he stood still in the doorway, beckoning for the couple to come forward. Lily gave James and Sirius a long hug before she walked out, each step sounding loud in the silent room, knowing it could be a while before she saw either of them again. She drew it out as long as possible before Fate indicated that they needed to get going.
Her eyes shone with anticipation despite the sadness behind them. There was much pain in her heart yet hope was still there in a way; She was losing her husband but gaining a son. She couldn't wait to see what life would bring this time around. It was a dark time yes but light can be found in the darkest of places. She had a chance few had and damned if she was going to waste it.
In the short time she was crying on her husband's shoulder she already knew what she was going to do once she got back. First things first she was going to make a trip to Gringotts and reactivate her accounts and draw out some galleons and James' portrait.
While she could never have him in the flesh on her return she could still withdraw his portrait and put it in her residence. It was as much for Harry as it was for her. That brings her to her next job.
She needed to release one of her properties while she was in Gringotts. Since most of them were under a Fidelus Charm, no one knew about them meaning she could be completely invisible. They made Harry the secret keeper when they bought them and since he was only a year old, he obviously wouldn't remember it. It was the perfect plan and one of her better ideas. The child wouldn't know about it, but he was the only one he could tell anyone.
Sometimes she wished they did the same at Godrics Hollow but knew that someday people would need to be able to find them if they survived. As much as she hated to admit it, she believed Voldemort would have found them eventually, regardless of Wormtail's betrayal and the secret keeper needed a voice.
It was a complex piece of magic to allow a baby to play such a vital role in a houses security as traditionally you had to say the vows but Lily found a way around it using Legilimency to convey the Instructions to the infant mind. Harry had no understanding of what he was doing but was able to do it anyway. She allowed herself a smile at her own ingenuity.
Next thing on the order of business was to pay her visit to Privet Drive. She had a few choice words to say to her sister. Inside Lily was seething at her sister and wouldn't let her get away with this. The only thing stopping her from cursing her to oblivion was her son. He was too good for his own good. Just thinking of the look on dear Tuneys face as she opened the door would be priceless by itself. She toyed with the idea of buying a camera to capture the moment but then made a mental note to get the pensieve out the vault for that purpose; then she could few the memory a hundred times and enjoy the moment.
She needed to think of a way to convince Harry it was really her. With all that had happened in his life she doubted that he would just take her at her word. She made a mental note to procure herself some veritaserum on the way. She doubted even that was enough. She supposed she would have to cross that bridge when it came to it.
After a few minutes of walking, Fate gave her a small piece of paper with some writing on it.
"Don't open it now. This is a portkey" he explained, "As soon as it is opened you will appear in an side alley near Knockturn alley. Once you're out you're on your own I'm afraid. Good luck. No pressure but the fate of the world may very well be in your hands". He smiled at the last.
Lily could sense he was trying to lighten her mood but he was failing. If anything she felt even more nervous. When Fate next spoke he held out something that she hadn't seen in years and her eyes widened in surprise.
In his hands was her wand. It had been so long since she used it, her hands slowly picked it up out of his outstretched hand.
"I took the liberty of rescuing your wand from your vault, just in case you run into any trouble before you got there. I'm sorry I can't give you more but I doubt you'll need it."
She fingered the magically fused wood in her hands as if it were made of gold. She could feel the hum of the magic Inside her wand. It was like bring reunited with a long lost friend. The moment her fingers touched the wood she felt the magic creep through her veins like an invigoration draught.
It was then that the reality truly hit her and her tears began to fall in earnest. She was coming home. So overwhelmed by emotion she was that she could barely see in front of her. She was aware that she was being guided by the hooded figure next to her but that was it.
She pocketed the wand while she walked, almost locked inside her own head with her emotions swirling around. She was hours away from seeing her son…her own son! She could barely contain the joy that was ravaging through her skin. She felt like she was about to explode, gone was the sorrow of only minutes before now replaced by the euphoria of knowing that she was going to be with family.
Before she knew it she was guided into a small room . At first glanced it looked nothing out the ordinary except the marble floor. The ceiling held a golden chandelier that gently breathed light around the small space. The walls were a light cream colour and which exuded a warmness and relaxed her slightly. At least until she saw looked to her right and saw what almost looked like a hole blasted into the wall. As she looked through it the only way she could describe the sight would be to say it looked like swirling smoke. There was no light like you see in cliché movies . It was black as night and the cold mist flowed out the bottom ominously, taken on the appearance of you would find in the old horror films. The veil itself looked like nothing special, just a hole in the wall. She guessed that was all it really needed to be. No sense in glorifying it.
Standing on the opposite side of the room was a young woman dressed in green and silver robes. Lily recognised her but couldn't place it. The only acknowledgement of her presence was a slight movement of her eyes, nothing more. It was as if she was sizing her up before she decided what to do next.
One thing she could identify with her was the pain that evident in her eyes. It painted a picture of regret that she could sympathise with. She couldn't say no more as she knew nothing of what caused this woman's pain. Lily didn't even know her name. She appeared to be wearing old robes which signified that she was not from Lily's time. In fact she could be hundreds of years old. Lily could see she was incredibly beautiful, despite the intensity of her expression. The woman's dark black hair flowed past her shoulders, her ice blue eyes looking calculating and calm, even if the hidden horror was obvious…well obvious to Lily.
Lily was always a brilliant judge of character. She even protested against Pettigrew being secret keeper. It was a shame James hadn't listened to her that time. Still too late now. Looking at the woman, Lily could sense a great deal of power, and an air of menace mixed with resolve. Here was someone that could win a battle without even raising a wand. It made Lily wonder how she managed to end up here so young.
She was shocked out of her own musings when Fate broke the silence.
"Surely you're not going to just stand there. The Veil will only be open for another few minutes. Be quick. Oh and I'm sure your tired of hearing this by but good luck. Remember to open the envelope as soon as you're on the opposite side as the magical energy that the veil will give off with almost immediately alert the DMLE to your presence. You will have only a few minutes though why you would want to stay there for any longer than a few seconds is beyond me."
He came up to Lily and gave her an uncharacteristic hug. It was short but it still shocked her. Hugged by an angel? What was the world coming to?
"This is where I leave you. You will find everything in working order at Gringotts. I have also taken the liberty of secretly giving Harry emancipated status using one of the old laws. Since Sirius was technically his guardian, when you both died, and Sirius stated in his will at Gringott's that Harry was to become the head of house Black, it frees him from undersage magic laws, and Dumbledore's legal influence. I figured it should make training him easier if the Ministry tries anything like they did last year. Unlikely, but I like to cover all eventualities. Unfortunately this will only leave you with 24 hours before Dumbledore will come to Privet Drive and inspect the wards. He won't be able to do anything but seeing as neither Harry nor Dumbledore know about this new development, it would be in your best interests to get there before he does. I think that's everything. Everything else you will have to learn on the fly."
Lily raised her eyebrow at this.
Fate huffed in mild frustration and amusement.
"We don't have time and you wouldn't likely remember everything anyway. It's best if I give you the base facts and you get free reign on everything else. Both you and your son are known for being quite…" he smiled at the last word almost giving him a deranged look "…resourceful".
Lily had to smile to herself at the last part. She had to admit that he was right. Too much information would only lead to unnecessary mistakes. She simply nodded and took a few tentative steps forward to the darkness. The mysterious woman in the corner of the room said nothing but nodded encouragingly.
With a deep breath she finally stepped into the hole in the wall, the "other" side of the veil that no living person would ever see. As soon as her body crossed the threshold all she could feel was a raging pain. Her body felt like it was being split apart. The darkness turned into a swirl of colours and as she was thrust through what felt like a vortex of fire. It was excruciating. There was no sound at all. She tried to look down or close her eyes but then it suddenly dawned her her she didn't have a body or eyes. She was stuck in this torrent of abuse until the end. After a few minutes her ears began to pop and sound was starting to become apparent to her again. She heard wails and screams and was horrified when she was white wisps barrelling towards her at breakneck speak. The souls of the dead. It made sense. Usually death was only a one way street. Here she could see hundreds upon hundreds of souls barrelling past her to where she came from.
More and more souls flowed past her and her hearing was becoming more and more astute. She could hear the whispering of spirits like they were In the room with her, each passing soul looking at her in confusion. The must have been travelling at over a hundreds miles an hour. She didn't know; speed had no bearing here. All she knew was the questioning look on each and every face that she saw. She knew why obviously. It was unnatural to come back from the heavens. Even someone who has never been to the land of the dead…even someone who is living and knows nothing of the laws of heaven knows that at its most fundamental level, death is absolute.
Before she knew it the journey was over. There was no real warning. The only thing she saw was the dark opening at the end of the "tunnel" that signified the arch.
The pain raging through her suddenly stopped as she was spat out the veil at breakneck speed. It was only quick reflexes that saved an early trip back as she swiftly drew her wand and cast a cushioning charm before she hit the floor.
Looking back at the mysterious Veil she smiled to herself as she stood up in the dark room.
"I'll protect him James. I promise"
With that she drew the small envelope out of her pocket and opened it. The familiar feeling of port key travel enveloped her as she disappeared from the room in a flash. Little did she know someone else had followed her back.