2 – A Heavenly Interlude
Chapter 2 – A Heavenly Interlude
A brief note on DH spoilers: This is taking place in what is now a vastly different continuity than what JK Rowling established in Deathly Hallows. I'll be using some elements of that story, but ignoring most of it. I will mark the first chapter that includes any concrete DH spoilers; there are none in this one.
Disclaimer: I don't own the intellectual property of Joss Whedon or JK Rowling.
A faint mist rose around Sirius Black's legs as his movement disrupted the clouds below him. Not that there were really any clouds, or at least not any like he had known in his previous life. This Heaven place, if that's where he was now, seemed more like a Muggle fairy tale or one of those "virginal realities" Arthur Weasley had occasionally mentioned than a real afterlife.
At least they let us watch the real world for entertainment, Sirius thought dryly, not sure who "they" were but assuming that someone or something must be in control of the place. It seemingly encircled the Earth, letting its denizens look in on their still-living friends. Sirius had seen bridges leading off to other locations, probably other planets or dimensions. They were usually made to look like rainbows; ridiculously fanciful, in his opinion.
A young woman floated over to where he was watching Harry and Hermione, who had just taken a Portkey to Devon. She narrowed her eyes for a moment, swatting away a stray tendril of faux-cloud.
"The scenery starting to grate on you too?" he asked.
She nodded, long blonde hair swinging a bit in the ever-present gentle breeze. "I'm Tara," she said, offering her hand.
"Sirius," he replied, shaking it. "Like the star, not the adjective."
"Are you watching who I'm watching?" they both asked at once.
This was the quintessential topic of conversation, here in wherever-they-were. People mostly met if their living friends did, except for the few who tried to maintain an active social life; hosting a book club by reading over the shoulders of the living never seemed to hold interest for very long, though.
After an awkward moment, Sirius spoke. "The ones who just Portkeyed to Hogwarts?" He gestured to the scene down below them.
Tara was fairly sure that meant "yes" in some strange British fashion, but she'd never heard Giles or Spike use either of those words. "The blue light and the castle?"
"Err, yeah," Sirius replied, put off by that Muggle-esque description. "You do know about magic and everything, right?"
"Of course I know about magic!" Tara wasn't pleased with his somewhat condescending tone. "I was quite a witch, on Earth."
"But you don't recognize me?" Sirius asked, speaking half to himself. "I would think the American Wizarding papers would have printed something about my tremendous murder spree…"
?" Tara barely stopped herself from gasping and shrinking away. She knew she couldn't be murdered again, but from what she had gathered, no one with that much weighing on his soul should have ended up in her corner of the afterlife.
"Oh, I was framed," Sirius replied nonchalantly, "but they kept me in prison for a dozen years anyway, and then blamed me for everything that went wrong until I was killed."
As she relaxed, phantom adrenaline fading, she picked up on another oddity in Sirius' speech. "Wizarding papers? What are those supposed to be, exactly?"
"The newspapers of the Wizarding world." Seeing her blank look, he continued, "The secret society where witches and wizards live apart from Muggles, so they can do magic freely… I thought you said you were a witch!"
!" she insisted. "But I've never heard of any of this before."
Sirius was genuinely puzzled by this. "But then how'd you learn magic? Where'd you get your wand?"
Tara chuckled. "A wand? Now I know you're making fun of me… the only wand I've ever heard of is the one that split Xander in half."
"What do you call that in my godson's hand, then?" he asked, as Harry demonstrated the spell he had previously used on Buffy.
She squinted, and then saw the slender pieces of wood in the hands of several of the robed people below them. "A wand?" she finally replied, weakly.
He smirked. "But you're really a witch?"
Fed up with that question, Tara decided to prove it. They were surrounded by clouds, and even though they weren't exactly real clouds, she decided it would still be easiest to summon water from them. Concentrating, she formed a small sphere of liquid which floated in her hand until she threw it at Sirius with a grin of triumph.
"That's brilliant!" he exclaimed, wiping the wet hair off of his face. "If you can still do magic up here, there's a hope for us yet."
"A hope for us to do what?"
"To escape!" Sirius' eyes took on a gleam that his godson Harry probably wouldn't have recognized; he hadn't felt this confident since before James died.
Tara appeared somewhat appalled at the suggestion. "It's not—we're dead, Sirius. That's just how it is. Trying to, to change that… it wouldn't be right."
is supposed to be right?" he asked, a hint of anger in his voice. "This is no kind of afterlife! If I have to be fully conscious and I don't get my own personal harem – some barmy Muggle idea, but it sounded nice – I want to be helping my friends. And yours seem to be involved in the same fight now, don't they?"
Tara frowned. "Of course I want to help them, but I helped resurrect one of my friends before. You see the blonde, getting kind of irritated with your godson because he keeps freezing her?"
Sirius laughed, and then took a closer look. "Right… is she, do you know, with anyone?" He tried to sound nonchalant, but Tara didn't buy it.
She raised an eyebrow, silently asking "Is this really the time?", and then continued. "We thought—when she died, the circumstances were… we thought that she had ended up in a horrible hell dimension. Looking back, we should have known that whoever's running all of this," she spread her hands to include the cloudscape, "wouldn't have let that happen to her. But we wanted our friend back, our protector. We pulled her out of Heaven, Sirius. The real Heaven, not the cheap imitation we're in."
Sirius gasped. "It would be like hell for her, to be alive again after that."
"It was." Tara sighed, thinking of how thoroughly everything had fallen apart after that. "I think she's finally starting to do better now, but that's after a year full of pain."
"But that's just it," Sirius argued. "She got pulled out of Heaven, against her will. We'd be pulling ourselves out of what is decidedly not Heaven, and we'd be doing it purposefully."
"I see your point," she replied after a moment. "But even so, I don't think I'm powerful enough alone to resurrect us. Willow, the redhead, she was the major force when we brought back Buffy, and she wasn't on the wrong side of reality like us." She pursed her lips in thought for a moment. "If you could help me… but all of your magic was in your wand, right?" she asked, trying not to grin at the unintentional innuendo.
"Well, no, I suppose. Every witch or wizard has a few incidents growing up where they make something disappear, or change, or float. We learn to control it using a wand, though, for the most part."
She began to feel a glimmer of the hope that had taken over Sirius. "We still don't have a concrete anchor to the living world, though. Without that, it'll be like…" She searched for an appropriate metaphor. "Like trying to pull yourself along by your own feet; there's no outside force, so you can't get anywhere." It wasn't the most eloquent phrase she'd ever uttered, but her companion seemed to get the idea.
After a moment, he felt the spark of an idea. "Forget concrete—how about stone? All of our friends are at Hogwarts, and it's got loads of magic just by itself."
Tara nodded her agreement with his idea. "We'd better get started," she said. "We're going to have to put this together from memory, unless we get really lucky and someone starts reading How to Resurrect Yourself in Seven Easy Steps
"I don't know how much help I'll be with that," Sirius said. "They never taught this at Hogwarts."
"Were you particularly good with any specific kind of magic, when you were at school?" She had a feeling that he could be more helpful than he thought. "There are a lot of pieces to work out; besides getting our souls back into the living world, we need bodies, too, and mine's halfway around the world in Sunnydale."
"Well, at least your body stayed around to be buried," Sirius replied, grimacing. "I got hit with a curse and fell through the Veil, body and all, and ended up here."
"In the Ministry of Magic, there's a place called the Department of Mysteries. One of the mysteries is death, and the Veil seems to lead directly to it."
Tara began to speak quickly and excitedly about thinned dimensional boundaries and the promise shown by bodily transposition, but Sirius stopped her.
"I tried to find the entrance as soon as I was aware enough, but it was hopeless. There's just nothing here besides clouds and souls, and even then I couldn't find any of the souls that I wanted to. James, Lily… I even looked for that friend of Harry's who Voldemort killed, Cedric."
"Maybe they all moved on," Tara suggested quietly. Seeing that she had his attention, she continued, "I've been thinking that this place might be for people who died suddenly, to allow them to see their friends and family move on so they can as well. It, it seems like we're both being stubborn, in a way, continuing to feel involved in the world even though it's not supposed to be ours anymore."
Sirius nodded; this idea of Tara's made sense to him, and "stubborn" was certainly one of the nicer adjectives that people used to describe him.
"You were talking about the Veil." She changed the subject gently, ignoring his brief reminiscence. "Would you have been able to find it more easily in the living world?"
Sirius shook his head. "I didn't even know what it was until I fell through it. It was in a restricted department, behind a set of constantly rotating doors, and it looked like it had been moved there from somewhere else."
Tara smiled. "But if it was found once, it can be again. There's an invocation I know to the goddess Nyx that I can change for this; it should be much safer than the ritual of Osiris that brought Buffy back, because Nyx is a more primordial figure with a wider domain. We'll only be calling upon one of her aspects, whereas with Osiris we had much more of his focus."
She was saying this to convince herself more than Sirius, as she could tell that he had no idea what she was talking about. She hadn't expected to get results so quickly; she had barely wrapped her mind around the idea that they could go back to the living world. But she rationalized that this probably wouldn't work anyway, and if it did, well, the sooner she was back in Willow's arms, the better.
She closed her eyes briefly, concentrating, and then grabbed Sirius' hand. "Nyx, goddess of night, mother of all, we beseech thee. Guide us to the usurper of Your duties, guide us to the Veil of Death."
For a few long seconds, nothing happened. She was about to release his hand when darkness overtook them, annihilating all perception and leaving them with a frightening sense of unstoppable falling.