Leaving Hope
by Morvoren

The last thing Sirius thought he would remember was the look on Harry's face as his body, ever the traitor, fell through the Veil. The horror dawning upon his godson's face was perhaps the worst thing Sirius had ever seen, and it would be his last living sight.

Of course, things never seemed to work out as he thought they would.

He came to some time later -- the jolt that went through him as he went completely under the Veil was very disorienting -- and when he looked around all he could see was black.

Then, being the astute man that he was, he opened his eyes.

The Veil -- always said with a capital letter, because really it was worthy of awe, reverence and no little fear -- was full of faces. Some were attached to bodies, and some merely laughed at him from their places in the mist that filled the Veil. Since he could still feel his heart beating, his blood flowing, he knew that he wasn't dead, but little else could make sense through the fog of confusion that filled his mind.

It was days before he managed to find someone that would tell him.

The Veil was the place where the Ministry -- prior to the days of Azkaban and the creation with the Dementors -- had stored their most deadly prisoners. Traitors in those days would be cast through the Veil and live out the rest of their lives without need of sustenance, but never to feel the touch of human hands or see the faces of the ones they loved.

In a way, it was worse than Azkaban -- there at least there was comfort from the knowledge that you would eventually die. One of the cruelest punishments the Veil had was that you could never die. You were trapped to endlessly wander the misty depths of the never-ending Veil, not living yet never dying, cursed to remain betwixt and between the pages of reality forever.

When it came down to it, Sirius wondered what he'd ever done to deserve such a punishment.


Each day passed, getting longer than the rest, as Sirius roamed the endlessly twisting paths that rambled through the Veil. He saw many famous wizards, and he managed to coax conversations out of the saner ones. But most just laughed horrendously as he passed and tried to speak with them, until he could only cover his ears and flee the sound.

He wondered how long it would be before he become one of them.


Sirius was never sure how long it was before he came upon them. As in Azkaban, without the light of the sun his body had reverted to a thirty-hour day, and so he was never able to catalogue how long he'd been trapped within his tomb.

In one of his rambles along the paths of eternity, he had somehow stumbled -- and when he regained his footing and looked up, he was no longer within the insubstantial walls of the Veil. He had stumbled, and walked right into a place full of sunlight, and flowers, with a stream flowing past him and many mirrors set amid the clouds. He turned, trying to take in the unexpected sights, and when he had completed at least one full revolution he came face to face with her.

Years of history told him her name, and though it was honest about her beauty it was still far from the mark. Her companion, no less famous, sat not three feet away, on a throne made of grey rock, and laughed at the startled expression in Sirius' eyes.

"You are wondering how this is possible," Morgan le Fay stated.

"Yes," Sirius said, blinking in surprise.

Niniane laughed. "We have been here for many centuries, Sirius Black." At Sirius' eyes widened she said, "Oh yes, we know your name. What one knows when they fall through the Veil, soon we all know. And most of all, we know," indicating herself and Morgan. Morgan nodded. "Out of all of the souls who dwell within the Veil, we alone have mastered it."

"Is that how...."

Morgan smiled slightly, as Niniane's laugh rang out again. "Yes, that is how we have made this place. It was once a place we loved, where we dwelled for many years. Then, when we were found guilty of betraying Merlin and King Arthur, we were sent into the Veil. It was only newly created."

Niniane took up the tale. "For many years we wandered, just as you wander, until one day we began to understand the secrets of this place. In creating it, they have given us not simply a place where we can be immortal, but somewhere that is truly ours. The Veil belongs to those inside it, those who walk its winding ways and part the mist with their words. This place, more than any other place that has ever existed, is ours."

Sirius shook his head. "I don't understand. How can you have created this place? We have nothing here."

The two sorceresses looked at each other and sadly sighed. "If you do not understand, then we have nothing more to say. Once what we have said is clear, you will be welcome here," Morgan pronounced. With a quick wave of her hand, Sirius found himself again upon the winding road, with the quiet living scene he had glimpsed gone.

And so, with nothing else to do, he began to walk.


For many days he turned the words of the two sorceresses over in his mind, and could find no solution. More days passed, and still he was not able to understand. It became so that he never slept, nor paused in his travels, but still only mulled over the riddle they had set.

Even thoughts of Harry vanished from his mind.


It was perhaps months after he had seen Morgan le Fay and Niniane that he stopped walking and threw up his hands in disgust. "This is madness!" he spat. "I'd rather be back in Azkaban."

And he was.

No sooner had his words left his tongue than he was indeed back, seated in the cell in which he had spent thirteen lonely years. Sirius looked around, gaze darting frantically round the shadowy walls, and his breath began to hitch. Too much white showed in his eyes, and his frantic breaths echoed off the darkness as he curled into a fetal ball. "This can't be happening, this can't be real," he crooned to himself, for the first time sounding like the inhabitants of the Veil. He closed his staring eyes, and kept repeating himself until he jolted at the feel of a hand gentle on his shoulder.

He scrambled away, through the green grass and the scented air, as Morgan le Fay started towards him with pity clear in her magnificent eyes. "It is all right, Sirius Black. You have found it."

"It wasn't real," Sirius still whispered, and looked up when Niniane said softly, "It is as real as you make it."

There was silence for a long time, until Sirius' ragged breaths smoothed out and he relaxed. "I wished I was back in Azkaban," he said slowly, "and I was. Then I wished it wasn't real, and I was here." He closed his eyes, turning it over and over in his mind. Then slowly his eyes opened. "This place, you made it. You wanted it to be, and you made it. Just like I made Azkaban."

"Yes," Morgan said. "When we understood, we put our minds together and we created this place, this haven. It is real, everything in it is real, because we wish it so. There is nothing we cannot do here, nothing we cannot see."

"The mirrors look upon the world," Niniane said. "Once we gazed in them to see what the world would become without us, what ours would do. Now, we gaze upon the past, the world that once was ours, before we were imprisoned here.

"The world goes ever on and on," she said, sorrow clear in her voice. "And we have no part in it. Everything has changed, and we cannot. The eternal life is the most potent curse of all -- for as much as we wish for what the world is, we cannot halt its change, nor force our own."

"I have watched everyone and everything I loved die," Morgan said. "And I must grieve unending, and watch my light pass from the world. Whatever I touched is now gone. And still I live, and cannot bear to watch."

Sirius nodded, finally understanding. "Thank you," he said, getting to his feet and kissing the hands of the two sorceresses. "You have given me a gift, and I have nothing to repay you with except my gratitude."

"You will not be grateful when you see your life pass from the world as ours did," Morgan replied. "But as you will. Go now, and make the Veil your own."

With a thought Sirius was gone.


Within days he was finished -- his thought had built him a tower reminiscent of Gryffindor, and the windows were replaced with mirrors, each showing different things. One looked upon the real Gryffindor common room, where Sirius could watch as Harry went about his duties, quieter now and more solemn.

Very day he watched, tracing Harry's life as it grew, and changed, and still all he could do was watch.


Harry was in his seventh year, staring into the Mirror of Erised again. With its enchantment removed, Dumbledore had given it to Harry, who spent many moments gazing into the crystal depths. Sirius watched this, as he did every move Harry made, and began to wonder.

Slowly, carefully, he concentrated, built the picture in his mind as slowly as if it was made from crystal and would shatter if even wished for too hard.

When the picture was done, Sirius opened his eyes and gazed into the mirror in front of him, now showing a full-on view of Harry, whose eyes had begun to widen with an indefinable emotion.

And Sirius opened his mouth to speak.


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