The Way Of All Flesh
by Don't Make Eye Contact

Harry would have stopped to wonder if every year at Hogwarts would end with a titanic life or death struggle but he was a little preoccupied.

He and Bellatrix faced off, their eyes locked and the wands in hand. A smile played around her lips and he could see she had no doubts about her ability to kill him at any moment she chose. Harry clutched his wand tightly, running through possible spells in his mind. His mind focused on victory, on revenge.

The Hogwarts crypt was utterly silent except for the breathing of the two enemies. The stench of death hung in the air.

"Expeliarmus." Bellatrix moved like lighting, Harry tried to dodge but was caught by the flash and felt himself flying backwards, his wand ripped from his grasp.

Harry staggered to his feet, looking for a place to run but Bellatrix covered him with her wand as she stalked slowly towards him. Her eyes filled with giddy pleasure.

"Now Hold still, Potter, this wont hurt a bit." She grinned. "Cruci..."

The word was cut off as a form appeared from the darkness behind her and picked her up, tossing her into the wall like a ragdoll. Bellatrix screamed in pain and Harry saw her arm twisted at a wrong angle. She tried to get to her feet and grab her wand but the figure was next to her in a couple of strides and a vicious punch knocked her cold. Then the newcomer turned to face Harry.

Harry had to stifle a scream. Rotten, sunken flesh. Hollow eyes. Skin hanging from bones. Someone dead. The figure started to walk towards Harry and Harry scrambled backwards searching out his wand.

"Harry, Harry, wait. It's ok."

The familiar voice made Harry freeze. He stared up at the zombie, the hope overcoming the revulsion. In a trembling tone he asked. "Sirius?"

"Yes, Harry, It's me."

"But . . . You died!"

Sirius gestured helplessly at his desiccated flesh. "I can't really argue with that one." His voice became instantly more serious. "I'm sorry you had to go through that, Harry. I know how much pain you've gone through, how much you've missed me."

Harry was still searching the zombies face, trying to see Sirius's familiar features. Almost succeeding. "How. . ." He couldn't frame the question. His mind was too dazed.

"When she killed me" he gestured to the prone form of his cousin "I fell through a portal to the realm of the dead. I was dead but I still had my body with me. It took me a while to work out what was going on but eventually I just walked back through the portal and found myself back in the department of mysteries."

"How long ago?"

"Almost a year ago, Harry, I'm sorry I didn't let you know I was back. I just couldn't, I couldn't let you see me like this until it couldn't be helped. I've kept an eye on you through the year, tried to help you."

"So . . . ." Harry's dazed brain put together the pieces. "That was why there was always a terrible stench near me."

"Yes, Harry."

"I thought I had a BO problem."

"Harry, you don't."

And they lived happily ever after.


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