disclaimer: characters are
the creation and intellectual property of j. k. rowling. no profit is derived
from this work of fan fiction.
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notes: The Unspeakable Universe
is a suite of short fics and vignettes set in a post-Hogwarts universe
where most of the characters have become part of the Department of Mysteries,
whether they want to or not. This is a revised version of the fic
on my website.
before "The Waiting Room"
It wasn't really an exile or a punishment, this assignment to America, and even if it were, it was fairly innocuous compared to Azkaban. Most things were, he'd found, even waking up screaming from yet another nightmare.
It was the old one, the one were Voldemort held Harry's corpse in one hand and James's in the other, and laughed, because Sirius couldn't fight the Dementors...
It was only a nightmare, and a familiar one at that, but he lay awake for a long time, one arm wrapped tightly around Julia, who was warm and soft, and who'd never been to Azkaban or looked into the face of Voldemort.
She must have sensed his wakefulness, because she muttered something inaudible and squeezed his hand.
Yeah, he thought as he finally went back to sleep. There were worse ways to be exiled.
It was the three way division of power at the crux of the problem.
Snape had Hogwarts, and he was welcome to it, all those memory-filled, ghost-ridden halls.
King had the Department of Mysteries, and that was acceptable too.
But the Order of the Phoenix ... that was his responsibility, and he was being kept from fulfilling his duty.
"It's just an old alliance," Julia said when he complained about it. She was an agent of the Magical Intelligence Agency, a modern organisation with no inconvenient ties to ancient Orders. Sirius respected her, liked her, sometimes even loved her, but there were things she just didn't understand.
She waved her mug at him, spilling a few drops of sweet, milky coffee on the breakfast table. "It's not important anymore, is it?"
Not important. That was King's thought, too: that the Order was part of the Department now, the Rituals replaced by bureaucracies and secrecy and a chain of command.
"It's important," he told Julia. "It's old fashioned and archaic, and it counts some of the battiest old codgers in Britain among its members, but I swore ... I promised Dumbledore that I'd lead the Order, I promised..."
A blood oath.
His offering to a man he'd loved like a father, a man he'd always disappointed, just a little. He was a poor replacement for James, a dubious placeholder for Harry.
He remembered Dumbledore's face after the Shack incident, the disappointed look as Dumbledore said, "Did you think of the consequences, Sirius? For Remus as much as Severus..."
He could handle Snape's hatred, and he could earn Remus's forgiveness, but Dumbledore's disappointment ...
He'd relived that memory a million times in Azkaban.
"It's important," he said again, but Julia had already moved on. She was brisk and businesslike, and though he sometimes loved her, at other times, he barely even liked her.
He was officially here as an aide and advisor to the Ministry's representative in America. Unofficially, he was an Unspeakable. He saw things, remembered things, and he reported them to the Department, not to the Ministry's ambassador.
More unofficially ... ah, these layers, and he'd always thought of himself as a simple sort of bloke...
More unofficially, he was the leader of the Order, and there were members even in this loud, brash wizarding community.
They were low key, they were subtle, they were quiet, but above all, they were his, and he was damned if he'd give their names to King to that they, too, could become part of the Department, and part of this delicate, ugly dance of loyalties that so many others played.
The Department wasn't evil, but it wasn't bound by loyalty, honesty and love like the Order. The Department's oaths were newer, less steeped in the magic of ages past.
There was another nightmare that
came to him with depressing regularity: the Dementor lowering its hood,
ready to perform the Kiss while Snape watched and did nothing. And under
the hood was King's face, and he was smiling as he swallowed the Order.
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