The ragged veil

Harry cannot accept that his godfather will not come back

Extract from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling

Only one pair was still battling, apparently unaware of the new arrival. 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.

Harry released Neville, though he was unaware of doing so. He was jumping down the steps again, pulling out his wand, as Dumbledore, too, turned towards the dais.

It seemed to take Sirius an age to fall: his body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backwards through the ragged veil hanging from the arch.

Harry saw the look of mingled fear and surprise on his godfather’s wasted, once-handsome face as he fell through the ancient doorway and disappeared behind the veil, which fluttered for a moment as though in a high wind, then fell back into place.

Harry heard Bellatrix Lestrange’s triumphant scream, but knew it meant nothing – Sirius had only just fallen through the archway, he would reappear from the other side any second...

But Sirius did not reappear.

‘SIRIUS!’ Harry yelled. ‘SIRIUS!’

He had reached the floor, his breath coming in searing gasps.

Sirius must be just behind the curtain, he, Harry, would pull him back out...

But as he reached the ground and sprinted towards the dais, Lupin grabbed Harry around the chest, holding him back.

‘There’s nothing you can do, Harry –’

‘Get him, save him, he’s only just gone through!’

‘– it’s too late, Harry.’

‘We can still reach him –’ Harry struggled hard and viciously, but Lupin would not let go ...

‘There’s nothing you can do, Harry ... nothing ... he’s gone.’

‘He hasn’t gone!’ Harry yelled.

He did not believe it; he would not believe it; still he fought Lupin with every bit of strength he had. Lupin did not understand; people hid behind that curtain; Harry had heard them whispering the first time he had entered the room. Sirius was hiding, simply lurking out of sight –

‘SIRIUS!’ he bellowed. ‘SIRIUS!’

‘He can’t come back, Harry,’ said Lupin, his voice breaking as he struggled to contain Harry. ‘He can’t come back, because he’s d––’

‘HE – IS – NOT – DEAD!’ roared Harry. ‘SIRIUS!’

There was movement going on around them, pointless bustling, the flashes of more spells. To Harry it was meaningless noise, the deflected curses flying past them did not matter, nothing mattered except that Lupin should stop pretending that Sirius – who was standing feet from them behind that old curtain – was not going to emerge at any moment, shaking back his dark hair and eager to re-enter the battle.

Lupin dragged Harry away from the dais. Harry, still staring at the archway, was angry at Sirius now for keeping him waiting –

But some part of him realised, even as he fought to break free from Lupin, that Sirius had never kept him waiting before ... Sirius had risked everything, always, to see Harry, to help him ... if Sirius was not reappearing out of that archway when Harry was yelling for him as though his life depended on it, the only possible explanation was that he could not come back ... that he really was –

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By J.K. Rowling

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