Chapter One: Through the Looking Glass
Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix’s jet of red light. He was laughing at her “Come on, you can do better than that!” he yelled, his voice echoing around the cavernous room.
The second jet of light hit him squarely on the chest.
The laughter had not quite died from his face, but his eyes widened in shock….
It seemed to take Sirius an age to fall. His body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backward through the ragged veil hanging from the arch…. (excerpt from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling—copyright 2003)
The last thing Sirius Black saw was Bellatrix LeStrange’s triumphant face as she shot him with a mid-level stunner, and then—black.
Total and utter darkness.
Sirius could hear no sounds, see no light. He could feel the floor beneath his feet but could sense no walls around him.
‘Where are Lily and James?’ he wondered. ‘I rather thought the Afterlife would be more…interesting.’
“I’m sorry you’re disappointed, then,” said a clear and mellow female voice. “But truthfully, you’ve rather disappointed Me.”
Sirius sputtered, “Disappointed you? You don’t sound like my mother! Who are you?”
“I,” said the voice, now sounding imposing and regal and arrogant, “Am the Mother of All Magic; She to whom you swore fealty until you allowed your Pride and Hubris distract you from your duty!”
Sirius frowned. He remembered taking a vow to be loyal to his employer when he became an Auror and Hit Wizard, and he remembered vowing to be nothing at all like his Dark relations, but he did not remember swearing any other Magical Vow.
As if reading his mind, the unseen woman said, “Let me remind you of your forsaken duty.”
Directly before him, a silver sheet lowered to eye level. It reminded Sirius of a muggle movie screen from when Lily had dragged the Marauders out to see something called a ‘revival’ of a picture show called ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ during the Christmas holidays their seventh year at school.
Just like that muggle movie screen, this silver sheet began to project images—images that Sirius clearly remembered.
They, Sirius and the Potters, were in a hospital room. Lily was exhausted and sweaty and could barely keep her eyes open. James was glowing with some kind of pride, and he had his hand protectively on her shoulder. And Sirius?
Sirius was holding a drowsy new-born infant. Harry James Potter, Sirius’s godson, born after a harsh labour that lasted three agonizing days.
James never left Lily’s side, so the other three friends took it upon themselves to work in shifts, bringing food and drink to the couple in Hayberry General Hospital—a muggle place that Lily had insisted upon. It was only sheer luck that Sirius was the one in the building when Harry finally made his appearance, as Remus had just left and Peter was not due until the next morning. James had already chosen Sirius to be godfather, so Sirius felt lucky not to have to wait for long to hold the boy as was his due.
“Almost sixteen years ago, in your time, a boy-child was born to your best friend—a Brother in Magic—and his delightfully talented wife. You held the child in your arms and when asked, you swore to do everything in your power to love, guide, and protect him as godfather, in the NAME OF MAGIC HERSELF, so mote it be!
“I was flattered and entranced, because so few make such vows in My name anymore. But then you had to go and flub it! Tossed that vow right out the window in the name of Pride!”
Sirius sputtered again. “But, I didn’t! I tried to be a good godfather! And unbreakable vows are made all the time!”
“Unbreakable vows to lose personal magic are made all the time in the names of Justice and Retribution, but not in MY name,” said the Lady. “And do you really need Me to tell you how badly you failed at your vow?”
“I did what I could to protect Harry,” said Sirius indignantly.
“Really?” she asked incredulously. “And so when James and Lily Potter were killed, of course the first thought you had was to take young Harry from the smoldering ruins of his home and get him to a healer so he might have been examined?”
Sirius growled, “No.”
“Of course. And when you learned of the betrayal of your dear friend Peter Pettigrew, your first thought was to call your employer so that your fellow Aurors could hunt down the man that led Voldemort to the Potter’s door?”
“No.” No growling this time.
“Right. And when you eventually found Pettigrew, you selflessly led the authorities to his location so that he might be arrested, saving countless lives in the process?”
Sirius sighed. “I messed up. You’re right—I was prideful and angry back then.”
“You did, indeed, mess up. I had a vested interest in you, you know, because of that Vow. I was heart-sick when the Potters were killed, but I had faith that you would step up and raise young Harry to be a fine Wizard. He’s important to Me, and I was counting on you to keep your word. And you got yourself killed instead, just when it looked as if you were making progress!”
Sirius sat down hard on the invisible floor and perched his elbows on his knees, cradling his head in his hands. He felt a bit like he was being lectured by his old Head of House, Minerva McGonagall.
“I shall take that as the compliment you obviously meant it to be,” said the Lady, sounding closer to him than before.
Sirius looked up, hoping to see his hostess but not really expecting to. “Why is Harry so important to you?”
The silvery screen once again began to show images.
There was Lily and James, sitting in what looked to be a healer’s office at St.Mungo’s Hospital. James looked determined, but Lily was sad and despondent.
“Lily and James Potter were married one year after leaving Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Lily took some time to work on her Mastery and you and James began Auror training. Very commendable to take time to plan for the future. But after the marriage, Lily Evans Potter wanted a family. She had very clear memories of how close she was to her sister before her witchcraft was disclosed, and she wanted to have a close family of her own.
“Lily became pregnant no less than five times over the next three years. The healers at St.Mungo’s tried various treatments, but she could not carry a child past three months. James tried to so hard to be strong for her, but the many miscarriages almost broke her spirit. Of course, they hid all of this from you and the others. They didn’t want to burden you with their misfortune.”
“But,” Sirius cried, “That’s what we were there for! That’s what we were meant to be to each other—support no matter what!”
“Yes, well, sometimes the heart can only break so much. They never wanted to make you all as miserable as they were. In any case, Lily prayed one night. Not to a god. Not to fate. Certainly not to the healers that had thus far failed her. No, Lily Potter prayed to Me—to Magic—for one child; one healthy child to make her life complete. One child to change her world for the better.
“She asked politely. She begged with all her might, as only a woman can. And finally, she began to bargain: Lily swore that no man’s Magic would touch her child until it was born—that only a mother’s Magic would nurture the fetus and keep it healthy. She began to see muggle doctors about her fertility problems, without James’ knowledge of course, and she altered her diet and exercise programs.”
“I remember that,” Sirius laughed. “She had us all eating sprouts and kale on our pizza when we got together, and James would complain that she was up early every day so she could go walking before work.”
“Yes, she was determined. I appreciate determination. So I agreed to answer her prayer. I gifted her with a pregnancy. I watched over her for four months as she stopped allowing any Magic in her home and began to visit muggle doctors for even the smallest ailment.”
“I remember that, too,” said Sirius. “James complained about having to leave his wand at the door when he got home. We all thought he was crazy until we went to visit for the first time, and Lily made us all leave our wands on a table in the front hall. And that house in the muggle town was quaint, but Remus and I could never figure how to use the appliances in the kitchen there.”
Closer still, the voice began speaking again, and Sirius could almost feel the Lady standing behind him. He was afraid to look, both wanting and not wanting to see what she would look like.
“My influence on the Earth is fading. It has been fading for quite some time now. There are more and more squibs being born to magical families, and few magical children are brought to term. There is a theory among the muggle-born witches and wizards that it is the result of inbreeding in pure-blood families, but that is not the case. Even the older generations of magical folk do not have much belief in Me.
“I am a convenience now, when once I was a life-force. Hundreds—no, thousands of years ago, people prayed to Magic all the time. They made treaties in the name of Magic. They planned allegiances in My name. They offered to create spells and potions in honor of Magic. I’m not really certain when that all stopped. It seems as though I looked away for one moment, and the first squib was born and familial Magic was dwindling.
“When Lily Potter prayed to Me for such a simple thing, I felt new life flowing through Me. I knew that I had to give her what she prayed for. I knew that her child could some day revive Magic in the world. He would need care, and he would have to be carefully taught and protected, but his presence in the world would renew even the smallest familial Magic to an ancient family, and my influence would grow.”
“He seemed so…sparkly,” said Sirius. “When I first saw Harry, I could see the Magic dancing over his skin. And when I held him for the first time, I felt alive again. He wasn’t even my own son and he made me feel alive.”
“Yes, well, Lily was an exceptional witch, and I do very good work when I set my mind to it. It was the lack of Magic in his gestation that allowed Me to build the Magic inside of him. If spells had continued to be cast willy-nilly around him, even before he was born, the magic would have just been used up.”
Sirius snorted. “After Harry’s birth, James took great delight in using magic to light that nasty cigar he insisted was traditional. And he used magic for every little thing at home, even rinsing a glass, until Lily came home with the baby. It was like he was waiting for some official starting point, and then he went a little crazy with it. Even I don’t use magic that much, and I’m lazy as hell!”
“Yes, well, the point being—Harry James Potter is the wizard that I’ve decided to use to bring My presence back to the world. I did, however, hope he would have been Magically nurtured up to this point. You—ahem—would not know about that, would you?”
“Okay, Okay,” said Sirius as he rose to his feet. “I fucked up! I went after Peter and I got tricked and arrested, and I wasn’t the one to raise Harry like I wanted! I’ve admitted it; are you happy now?”
“Nothing makes Me less happy than what has happened to that boy!” The Lady’s voice, once mellow and relaxing, was now like thunder, echoing off hidden walls and rattling in Sirius’ ears. “You made a vow to Me, and you broke it! And you really need to fix that!”
“Uh-huh,” Sirius scoffed. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m quite dead, right? I mean, that was the Veil of Death that Bellatrix knocked me through when she stunned me, yes? How am I supposed to ‘fix’ anything now? It’s not like I can go back in time and start over.”
A rustling noise caught Sirius’ attention and he turned to face the silvery screen. From behind it appeared a rather regal-looking lady of indeterminate age. She was dressed in a flowing black robe that looked as if it were made of cobwebs and gossamer and stars. She had steel-grey hair that flowed in a braid over her left shoulder and reached her feet—which were hidden by her robe—and piercing golden eyes that flashed annoyance at him when he startled.
She quirked a regal eyebrow at Sirius and said, “It’s funny you should say that, because that is exactly what I have in mind for you.”
Sirius’ jaw dropped. “You want me to time-travel? How’s that supposed to work? I just nip back to before Bella-bitch zapped me and all is well and good?”
“I hardly think popping back mere seconds is going to change much. No, your entire attitude has to be changed in order for you to take that Vow seriously—and keep it this time! I think I’ll send you back a bit farther than your ‘epic battle’, and perhaps you make some minor but important changes.”
Sirius gaped at the Lady for a moment, waiting for her to wave her hands and tell him she was just kidding. Instead, she just looked at him in anticipation, as if waiting for him to wildly applaud her idea.
Not bloody likely!
“Look,” he said finally, “I’m sure you’ve thought this through, but I can’t really do much from Azkaban Prison, and that’s where I predominantly spent my time up until two years ago. And Harry was with his idiot family when I was out and about, and I couldn’t get to him because of my conviction. Going back to then isn’t going to help.”
“Yes, well, silly me. How could an all-powerful being such as Myself be so short-sighted? Of course I’m not going to send you back to your incarceration period or the time after your escape. You’re no good to Me as a convicted felon, regardless of your guilt or innocence. I need to send you back farther. Much, much farther.”
Sirius cocked his head to the side and crossed his arms across his chest. “How much farther? I only ask because I was a rather spotty child and I had trouble concentrating on important things for a very long time. I’d not have passed a single class if James and Remus hadn’t kept poking at me to study. And saving Harry seems like a very important thing to be done.”
“You’re not much of a planner, are you Sirius Black? I’ll be sending you back with all of your current memories intact. You’ll be in a younger body, of course, but you will remember what happened when you got too cocky for anybody’s own good. You’ll remember your Vow, which I will tattoo onto your magical signature, and you will remember what your ultimate goal is—Protect Harry and carry out the Vow. Anything you do otherwise is incidental. Take the time to really live your life again.
“Of course, if you mess up, you will be seeing me again!”