38. Beyond the Veil

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There was something slightly threatening about returning to the aftermath of a battlefield. A devastating fight had raged in the Death Room mere hours ago, and here we were, entering the place where it had happened....

Where Sirius had lost his life.

The room was large and echoing, dimly lit and rectangular. The high ceiling made for eerie acoustics as we stepped inside, giving Remus pause as he froze in the doorway, while I stepped further inside. There, kept in the center of a raised stone dais, in a sunken, great stone pit some twenty feet deep, was the Veil. The pit itself was lined with benches, running all around the room and descending in steep steps like an amphitheater, surrounded by a cold air and complete stillness.  

And yet, that stillness wouldn't last.

On the dais stood the Veil, a tall stone pointed archway that looked so ancient, cracked and crumbling that it seemed amazing that it was still standing (especially as it was not supported by any surrounding wall). I recognized it from my father's journals, as I'd spent many hours pouring over his research, asking him over and over again about its origin, its purpose. The archway was hung with the Veil; which appeared as a tattered black curtain, gently fluttering and swaying very slightly-

 "-....as though it had just been touched" Remus whispered, as if he'd heard my train of thought.

He was now standing next to me, and I realized I'd come to a stop about a dozen feet away from the veil.  Remus sounded so vulnerable, so broken, I had a hard time focusing on anything but the look of profound loss I saw in those brown eyes. 

"My father thinks that perhaps its the souls of the dying passing unseen into the next life, through it, through the Veil" I said, eyes darting to the curtain, which was torn and tattered, and moving slightly at my words, as if hearing me.

"Thinks?" Remus questioned "I thought you said he created it?"

"He did. That doesn't mean he understands it in its entirety" I confessed, shrugging slightly, as if to dismiss the slight feeling of unease that had come over me "It's still a mystery, and although my father is probably the person who understands its workings better than anyone, there's still a lot about the Veil which we don't understand..."

"And.....Sirius?" Remus asked, the words spoken softly, carefully, as if he were afraid of the answer. Hell, he probably was "Will....will I be able to speak to him?"

I was shaking my head before I could find the words to explain myself.

"I'm sorry, Remus. Communication through the Veil appears to be impossible, though when a living person approaches it, the souls of the dead, recognizing a loved one nearby, try to communicate" I spoke softly, taking a few hesitant steps towards the veil, my hand reaching behind me to take a hold of Remus's hand and pulling him along with me. 

Once we were standing in front of the veil, the sensation of being watched, of a presence-or more than one-became overwhelming, and I squeezed Remus's hand in reassurance upon seeing the nervousness in his eyes.  It was the strangest feeling, like there was someone standing right behind the Veil on the other side of the archway, their words are inaudible except for faint whispering and murmuring noises coming from the other side of the Veil. 

"It's like they're right here in this room with us, just on the other side of that veil" Remus breathed on an exhale, eyes darting to the tears and gaping holes in the fabric, as if expecting to see a crowd gathered on the other side.

"In a way, they are" I told him, trying to explain the situation at hand "When a living person tries to communicate with someone through the Veil, the dead try harder and their whispering and murmuring becomes louder. It's disconcerting, really"

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