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The Land of Mist
The feeling of nothingness lasted for what seemed like an eternity. A great void was all around him, colourless, odourless, intangible. He seemed to float through the empty space between worlds, with little idea of where he was or where he was going. Time had no meaning.
He was therefore shocked when he felt an intense pulling sensation, and the pitch darkness around him began to lighten. He hadn't realised how much he had missed the light until the area around him began to turn a pale grey, and he could once again see the landscape. Not that there was much to see, of course. The ground below him seemed to materialise from nowhere, and as Harry rested his feet on it and gravity seemed to reassert itself, he could tell that the substance holding him up was little more than mist.
Curious, Harry knelt down and touched the ground; amazed and a little disconcerted when with a little pressure his hand went straight through it.
That's not right, he muttered to himself with a frown.
Standing up, he looked around at the bleak landscape. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but the eerie light casting a grey shadow over the whole place. A thin wispy mist hovered just above the ground, rising higher in places like ethereal tornadoes.
When Harry had finally taken in his surroundings, he started to become more than a little concerned. After all, he didn't know where he was and could see no way of escaping the strange place. Deciding to take a walk to see where he ended up, Harry picked a direction and started making his way across the mist, looking intently around himself every few minutes, looking for any signs of life.
His pondering about finding other people brought him to an abrupt halt when he realised where his train of thought was heading.
Signs of life.
The last thing he could remember before the void was intense pain and a feeling of floating. Before that was a little blurred. Placing his hands on his head, he thought as hard as he could, trying to sort out the jumble of images. With a start, he realised that he had been hit by falling rocks. He vaguely remembered seeing Remus calling out to him, looks of horror on people's faces. The falling rocks. The pain. The void.
No, he whispered, tears springing into his eyes, NO! NO! NO!
The more he thought about it, the more sense it made. The attack, the curses, the expressions of shock he had seen on the faces of his friends, followed by pain and nothingness.
It's not true, he muttered, collapsing to the floor and rocking slightly, tears of denial running down his cheeks, I'm not dead. I can't be dead. No no no!
Yes yes yes, came a voice behind Harry, causing the boy to jump in surprise and spin around, a look of wariness on his face. When he saw who it was, though, the wariness was replaced by surprise and pain.
Sirius? he whispered, as if barely daring to believe his eyes.
In the flesh, kiddo, the older man replied with a smile, Well, sort of
His sentence was interrupted by Harry hurling himself at his godfather, wrapping his arms around his waist as tightly as he could. Sirius grinned and hugged him back. After several long minutes, the animagus pulled away and looked his godson in the eyes.
Harry, you shouldn't be here, it's not your time.
I know, Sirius, I know. It's not my fault. There was an attack on Diagon Alley, and I had to help!
What killed you? the older man asked sadly.
Falling rocks. One wall of Gringott's collapsed on me. The next thing I know, I'm here. Wherever here is he replied, looking at the mist in fear. Sirius, seeing how scared Harry was of the whole situation, pulled him into another hug.
I'm so sorry, Sirius, Harry said eventually, fresh tears beginning to fall.
What for? Sirius asked, perplexed.
For killing you!
You didn't kill me, Harry, he said in confusion, Bellatrix did.
It's my fault you were there! If I had practiced occlumency, and not looked in Snape's pensieve, and hadn't gone to the Department of Mysteries, you would be fine!
It was my time, Harry. Anyway, I'm happy here. It's not your fault, so don't blame yourself.
How can you be happy here? Harry asked in disbelief, This has to be the most depressing place I've ever seen!
Sirius began to chuckle, looking around at the bleak grey landscape. Harry looked at him strangely and sent him questioning looks.
Oh, I don't live here, Harry. Merlin forbid, I'd go mad! No, this is the Land of Mist.
I never would have guessed, his godson replied sarcastically, watching a small misty cyclone pass them by, What an original name.
Indeed it is. No, I live in the Land of the Dead.
Where's that? Harry asked, And how do we get there?
We don't go there yet, Harry, Sirius told him, First you need to make a choice.
What sort of choice? the boy queried.
Whether you're coming or going, of course!
Harry was confused. He didn't know what Sirius meant by coming or going. In fact, since seeing his godfather again, he didn't seem to have been given a single straight answer about what was going on. From what he could gather, he was in a sort of limbo. He wasn't living; therefore he wasn't on Earth, yet Sirius had mentioned living in the Land of the Dead.
Sirius, I don't understand, just explain it to me! You're as bad as Dumbledore!
Sirius chuckled and shook his head slightly. He had missed the youngest Potter.
As I said before, Harry, it's before your time. You weren't supposed to die in that battle, as it leaves a very important prophecy unfulfilled.
But the prophecy is fulfilled! Harry said in alarm, I was killed, and Voldemort will live! There's nothing I can do about it!
No, that's not strictly true. The prophecy stated that you couldn't both live, one had to die, at the other's hands. From what you tell me, Voldemort didn't kill you, a wall did. Not the most noble way to go, but at least it's memorable
Hey! Harry yelled in indignation, but seeing the funny side he began to laugh. After all, who ever would have expected the Boy-Who-Lived to die by a collapsing wall?
So what happens now? Harry asked once he had regained his composure.
As I said, you have a choice. You can come with me to the Land of the Dead, and see your parents, or you can go back for a short time and complete the task you set out to do.
Harry was astounded. He'd thought death meant death, and with the exception of ghosts, there was no coming back. Of course, there were stories of necromancers and zombies, but he had never thought it would come to that.
But I'm dead! If I went back, I'd be a ghost, and what good would I be? Anyway, why give me a second chance? Other people don't come back, do they?!
Well, no, Sirius conceded, It's mainly because of the prophecy. You see, prophecies are very powerful things, and even wrongful death cannot stand in their way. Of course, in cases such as yours, you are given a choice of fulfilling the prophecy or passing on, but still the choice is there. Most people come here before moving on to the Realms of the Dead. Obviously, the Land of Mist is a limbo of sorts, where people are judged on their actions in life and sent to the appropriate realm.
So let me get this straight, Harry said, trying to come to terms with what was going in on, Because of the prophecy, I can go back to where I came from and finish Voldemort off, before passing on; or I can go straight to the Land of the Dead and leave the wizarding world to battle it out amongst themselves.
In a nutshell, yes, Sirius replied.
Harry thought over his options for a few minutes. On the one hand, he could be away from the fighting and the pain, away from the Dursleys and Malfoy and Dumbledore's lies and manipulations. On the other hand, he could go somewhere he could find peace, and see his parents again for the first time in fifteen years. He could be with Sirius, and other family he had never known. He could go back to pain and despair, or go on to love and acceptance. The obvious choice seemed to be right in front of him, but a nagging feeling at the back of his mind wouldn't leave him. What about his friends? What about Ron and Hermione? What about Remus and the Weasleys, and all of the students at Hogwarts. He couldn't leave them to be killed. They deserved so much more.
Will I be alive again? he asked, Will I be corporeal?
No, Sirius said with a sigh, You'd be in spirit form, like a ghost.
What about magic? Harry asked, If I'm incorporeal and don't have magic, what use would I be?
You have spirit magic, which is used differently to wizard magic. Normal ghosts can't perform spells, but you would be able to.
Harry nodded as Sirius spoke, taking in these new facts.
I'll do it, he said eventually, But only if I can see my parents first.
Sirius grinned and put one arm around Harry's shoulders.
That's my boy! Well, follow me then. James and Lily are just dying to see you again!
That said, a huge portal appeared in front of them, and Sirius pulled them through.
As soon as they appeared on the other side of the portal, Harry had to blink his eyes against the bright light. When his vision finally cleared, he looked in awe at the scene set out before him. It was what he would imagine paradise would be like. As far as the eye could see an expanse of bright, sparkling green grass stretched out, with trees and cottages dotted here and there. A river of the deepest blue wound its way from one side to the other, with a lake stretching for several miles.
Do you like it? Sirius asked with a grin.
It's amazing, Harry whispered, awed by the view in front of him.
It is pretty special, Sirius agreed, before leading the boy towards a nearby cottage. The building was made of stone bricks and had a thatched roof of the most spectacular gold. Flowers filled the garden, and ivy twisted up either side of the door.
This place reminds me of their house in Godric's Hollow, Sirius commented as they opened the door and walked into the hallway. Before Harry could answer, his breath was taken away by the appearance of a woman in front of him. She was tall and willowy, with long, red hair and familiar, sparkling green eyes. She gasped when she laid eyes on the boy in front of her.
Harry? she asked, tears in her eyes.
Mum? he replied in disbelief. When she nodded slightly, he threw himself into her arms, sobbing loudly. She squeezed him back as tightly as she could, crying herself. Sirius stood behind the reunited mother and son, a large grin on his face. When a man appeared behind the cuddling pair, Sirius motioned him over.
Well, Prongs, I hope you're not going to do the same, he said to the older Potter, who was just realising who his wife was embracing.
Harry? he gasped, and pulled the boy from his distraught mother and into his arms.
Once all three Potters calmed down, Lily led them into the living room and conjured a pot of tea with a single thought. The next half an hour was spent with Harry telling his parents everything that had happened to him since they had died. Sirius sat off to one side, watching the reunited family with fondness.
So, have you decided what you're going to do? Lily asked her son when he had finished his story. He had told them about the choice he was asked to make, and the prophecy.
Yes. As much as I hate to leave, I can't let my friends die. They're all I've had for so long. They've risked their lives on my foolish adventures, and now I can't just let Voldemort hurt or kill them.
It's your decision, son, James said after absorbing this new information, And we'll support you all the way. You're acting like a true Gryffindor!
Harry blushed at this comment from his father, before looking at Sirius.
Padfoot, when do I have to go? he asked, nervously.
The sooner the better, Sirius replied, The longer you stay here, the less you'll be willing to leave. Don't worry, though. The sooner you sort out Voldemort, the sooner you can return!
That said, he stood and held out his hand. Reluctantly, Harry hugged his parents one last time and took his godfather's hand. With a flash of light, the pair found themselves back in the Land of Mist.
Harry, good luck. I know you'll defeat the Great Bastard, I just hope it's soon. After all, you can't lose. You're already dead, he can't kill you again.
I'm going to miss you, Sirius, Harry said with a sniff, hugging his godfather tightly.
I'll miss you too, kiddo, Sirius replied, You go and get him, Harry. You'll be back before you know it. Go and save your friends.
That said, Sirius placed his hand on Harry's shoulder and muttered a few words. The boy glowed an eerie purple before disappearing once more, leaving Sirius alone in the Land of Mist, a sad tear rolling down his cheek.