July 9-14, 2004

Disclaimer: two more books to go, which will not be written by me, and this won't happen. Beta thanks to Kest and Merry. Do not archive this story without permission.

Potter's field

Harry went out in the early afternoon, out through the back door and down to the end of the garden. He'd planted roses, but they were dying. No one had talked about roses in Herbology. A few more petals fell as he Disapparated.

He'd chosen Godric's Hollow because that was where most of them had died. Harry could point out many of the places: Neville here in the road, Charlie with his back against that crooked gatepost, Remus Lupin underneath the oak tree — it was half blasted as from a lighting strike, now, though the other half bore fresh, green leaves. McGonagall had fallen by the ruined wall; most of her, anyway.

The ruins of the house were a grave monument several times over, the ivy climbing up the chimney shaft an unapologetic survivor. But this was also the place he'd been born, so it held beginning and ending together. The book said that was important. Not everyone had died here, but Harry rather thought that wouldn't matter, because it was the right place.

He began to pull bricks out of the rubble. After a while, when his palms were slick with sweat and blood, he realized he should have worn gloves. Blackberry and raspberry bushes had grown up around the crumbled walls, and nettles hid splintered wood. It took him a lot of time to collect enough material.

Harry stacked the bricks carefully, crosswise two by two, building first one slightly wobbly pillar and then another, holding his breath that they didn't fall over as they grew over his head. He tugged a plank out of the ruined shed and balanced it very carefully across the brick pillars. Taking his wand in a white-knuckled grasp, he whispered "Ianua."

Bricks and wood fused together, and he was looking at a doorway. Harry shivered. That had been the easy part. The grass and sky and ruins he saw through the doorway looked the same as the grass and sky and ruins around it. They weren't, though. He didn't walk through.

He'd stolen what he needed from the Hogwarts greenhouses and supply rooms. No one questioned where he went, what he did. No one was left who felt they had the right, he rather thought. Or perhaps no one was left who cared.

Harry piled yew and sandalwood chips into a small brazier and lit them with the tip of his wand. He pulled handfuls of herbs out of his pockets and laid them on the fire, and a cloud of thick greenish-gray smoke billowed up. Willow bark, hellebore, soulsease, a few white wolfsbane flowers. Then he turned and plucked a few petals from the briar rose behind him. The spell called for graveyard roses, and no place was more of a graveyard than this.

Heat from the fire crumpled the petals before they'd even stopped falling. Harry cut his palm and dripped some blood into the fire, and the color of the smoke changed. He breathed it in and felt light-headed. Taking his wand in his bloodied hand, he turned to face the doorway he had built. Where he stood, the air was quiet and the sun burned the back of his neck. On the other side of the doorway, clouds had gathered, and a rising wind shook the leaves.

Drawing a deep breath, Harry made four sounds in the back of his throat that might have been words once. They were harsh, with jagged edges. He spat them out one by one and felt blood run from the corner of his mouth and down his chin. Thunder rolled on the other side of the doorway.

The earth began to stir.

Neville was the first to come, rising out of the dusty road and staggering across the grass on clumsy, broken legs. He almost fell, going through the doorway, but then he was there. Bill came next, walking more easily. Hermione came round from behind the ruined house. Half her face was burned away, and Harry looked apologetically at her; he could fix that, he knew he could, given a little time.

The smoke from the fire rose up around the doorway, and Harry could feel it inside, in his blood. He gave more. Through the doorway, the blasted oak shook, and split in half, and Remus Lupin rose and walked again, stepped out into the sunshine.

They kept coming, familiar, and beloved, and silent. Everyone who had fallen here, and some who had died in other places, not so far away. Harry wanted them all. He asked for them all. He opened his hand and dripped more blood on the fire, and the dead gathered behind him. He asked them to come through distance, through time.

In the doorway, neither here nor there, the air shimmered. Harry hesitated. He blinked, and when his eyes were open again, the shimmering air had turned into Sirius.

Sirius stepped into the sunlight, too, and he was different, there and not there, see-through like the smoke. "Harry," he said, and his voice was the same, just the same. "Harry, what are you doing?"

Harry hadn't wanted to touch anyone just yet, anyone who'd come through the doorway. Now he wanted to touch Sirius, but he didn't think he could.

"I'm making them all come back to me."

"You can't. We can't." Sirius was wearing the same clothes he'd worn when he fell through the veil. His hair was the same length. His eyes were different. "Look at them."

Harry didn't want to turn around, but all the same, he did it. They were there, all of them, with him again. When he clenched his hand, another drop of blood fell into the fire.

Through the doorway, Harry could see the first heavy drops of rain fall. Something began to crawl along the road: a hedgehog, hit by a car some time ago. Mice crept from the foundations of the house, and the snakes that had eaten them followed. Harry wondered how deep he would have to cut to make his parents rise again.

He looked. They stood silent behind him, all of them, unmoving, not looking at him nor at each other. Molly Weasley stood at arm's length from Bill, and neither of them noticed.

"I can fix that," Harry said. "I know I can."

Sirius shook his head. "You can't. Let them go, Harry."

Harry glared at Sirius. "You left me," he said, wanting to shout it through his bleeding throat. "They left me."

"I'm sorry. But Harry, you can't have them back like this. This is nothing like life. It's their bodies and your power. You can spend the last drop of your blood on keeping them with you, but decay will come in the end."

"And you? You're different."

Sirius flickered like a candleflame, and Harry could see the bricks through him, and the grass. "I can't stay with you, either. You know I would if I could. I'd have died for you, in a better way than— But I can't live again for you. No one can."

Another drop of blood fell into the smoke and fire, and through the doorway, the bones of a deer began to rise out of the ditch.

Harry glared at Sirius, and then he looked at McGonagall. "Go," he said to her, and pointed at the doorway. "Go back." She didn't move. "Go!"

"Harry," Sirius said softly.

Harry sighed. He tapped his wand against his palm until it stopped bleeding, and rubbed the back of his hand across his throat. Then he said another word, a word that sucked the air out of his lungs and burned on his tongue.

McGonagall moved. She walked back to the doorway and stepped through it, into the rain and the wind. Bill walked after her, Neville, Hermione, Molly. Everyone, one by one. The dead mice scuttled away through the dead leaves.

Remus Lupin went up to the doorway, stopped next to Sirius, and looked at him with dead, bewildered eyes. Sirius raised a translucent hand, let it fall again. His mouth twisted. Lupin went through the doorway, and the rain on the other side fell on his shirt in dark spots, like blood.

"I'm sorry," Harry whispered.

The sunshine filtered through Sirius. He had no shadow. "Harry," he said again, like a blessing, or a curse.

He turned towards the doorway.

"Don't," Harry said and closed his eyes. The sunshine was hot and the air was still, but he could feel the storm on the other side crackle along his skin.

"I must."

Harry shook his head. "Don't." He took a step closer, and overturned the small brazier into the dry grass.


"Don't." He could smell fire. "Don't leave me behind again."

Harry flung his arms around Sirius, who was not there, and they fell through the doorway together.

The study of necromancy has attracted practitioners throughout the ages. It was given some legitimacy in the days of King Bladud, and many learned witches and wizards have devoted their time to it.

Sooner or later, it has consumed them.

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