To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
~Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground
He touched the glass pane, tracing the silvery path that the solitary raindrop had left behind. As it made its way down to the windowsill to join the torrent that now fell from the sky, Remus smirked a little, watching the deluge that had not ceased since noon. Typical British summertime, he pondered. The unpredictability of the British weather was a subject that many spoke of in jest and in fury, but Remus Lupin welcomed it today with open arms. The changing four seasons in one day were, in their own unique way, a constant that he needed. Who could tell what the weather would bring? A regular event that his heart felt contented with. And comfort was needed today. He needed some stability in his unstable life.
Today he didn’t feel like socialising. He wished he was back at Grimmauld Place as his finger began to unconsciously trace an ‘S’ shape across the cool glass. He repeated the action time and time again, as if it would take him back in time. Back to the Marauder‘s time. Back to Sirius‘ time. In the beginning, he had faced the unending cups of tea and sympathy that Sirius’ death had brought. The knowing hand upon the shoulder, the deliberate nod or smile as he entered the room. He so wished he was back there, cocooned against this day, with just he and Harry for company. Just as it had been recently since he had been trusted to look after the boy. Just Remus and Harry, and no prying eyes. It was better that way. Safer. No one asked the hard questions; no one smiled as if they understood how he felt. Were they so alone, like he was? No. Of course not. Everybody had somebody.
As he turned around to look in the vacant room before him, he realised it was basically unchanged from when he had been a lad here, growing up. Different faces lived here now, but probably the conversations were just the same. Essays, tutorials, girls, Quidditch, Snape being an insufferable prat. Voldemort. Yes, nothing changed. And yet everything changed in such a short space of time. Where had the years gone? He had no answers, not for him or for Harry. Nothing made sense to either of them anymore, if it ever had. He strained to hear the echoes of a dim and distant past as he looked across the room, whispers from friends long gone. He was sure sometimes he had heard his laugh, or captured his voice trailing on the wind. But, whenever he looked behind him, there was no one there. And there never would be again. He turned back to the windowpane and began to watch the rain falling from the sky. It would soon be time to leave his sanctuary.
He sat in the empty Gryffindor tower and he watched and waited for the guests to arrive. The Minister, the foolish Fudge, arrived fashionably early, looking smug, as if this had all been his idea. Remus didn’t smile when he saw him arrive. Then the Weasleys - all dressed in black, contrasting against the fiery red of their hair. He smiled a little, and hoped they had gone to find Harry and Ron, who had already been there for his friend. A pang of envy mixed with anger swept about him as he thought of Harry and his friends. At least he had them, he thought. At least he can turn to them. I have no one now.
The next two figures in black made him shift a little in his seat. Tonks. Nymphadora Tonks and her mother, Andromeda. Oh, Sirius would be delighted she had come. He often talked of her as a favourite, and Remus finally broke into a smile as she lowered her Shield Charm, which she had used as an umbrella, to enter the entrance and make her way to the Great Hall. They would all come, and he must join them. Reluctantly, he shifted down from the window seat and paced across the room, turning one final time to see if anything had changed to the scene. Nothing had changed. Sirius was still dead. It was all still the same. And the rain still poured from the sky.
Had Remus Lupin stayed at the window for just a minute longer, he would have noticed the woman, dressed in a hooded black robe and high-heeled shoes, whose forthcoming presence he mused over the most. The afternoon rain had not dampened Silvana’s resolve to come here one bit, and she stepped through the grounds, having met Hagrid at the entrance gates. Her graceful stride grew with confidence at every step, as if the sight of the old place gave her strength. If she ever doubted her judgement in coming home, she folded it up into the back of her mind in that moment. She felt alive here: for the first time in many years a little spark of electricity ran through her, though it was the most sombre of days. The hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on end as her black robes billowed elegantly behind her, revealing a long, dark skirt and a hint of the long legs she possessed. She really was home. But such a shame she had to return on this of all days.
The figure just in front of her on the old stone steps turned, lowered her magical umbrella, and stopped dead at the sight of the elegant figure behind her. The redheaded woman squinted a little, as if unable to believe her eyes, and then broke into a welcoming smile. Silvana hesitated too as she did a double take at the face before her, and then she recalled the woman who she had known so well all those years ago.
The two women smiled, and to the astonishment of her daughter, Andromeda Tonks ran over to the saturated woman in black and hugged her. Eventually, she walked over to them at the entrance, and Andromeda spun her around elated, like an over-excited child, and then frowned at her elegant and yet soaked appearance.
“What happened to you? You’re soaked!”
“I completely forgot to bring an umbrella!” Silvana laughed, still shaking her head at her old friend.
“Silly! What about your wand? What on earth do you need an umbrella for when you have your wand?” she laughed, astonished at the answer her old school friend had given her. This was sensible Silvana Snape, one of the most gifted and thoughtful witches of her year. Surely she hadn’t changed that much.
“Oh, I’ve changed a lot since we last met, Andromeda!” Silvana muttered with a twinkle in her eye. Andromeda widened her eyes at her friend and hit her playfully on the arm, tilting her head to one side to mock her old companion. “Yeah, but you haven’t changed so much as you can still use that old trick on me, you sly old devil! You were always too damned good at that.”
Ashamed of her childish prank, Silvana blushed. “Sorry. I just couldn’t resist.“
Andromeda tugged at her daughter’s sleeve and the young witch took notice. “Nymphadora, this is Silvana…sorry I don’t know your married name.”
Silvana stepped forwards and held out her gloved hand, still sodden from all the rain. “O’Brien. But please don’t worry about that. You can call me Silvana, Nymphadora.”
Tonks shook her hand in an animated way, taking Silvana a little by surprise as she tripped forwards. “And please, call me Tonks.”
Silvana frowned. “Ok then, Tonks.”
Andromeda crossed her arms and tutted. “I don’t know, you give your child a perfectly good name and she insists on only using her surname!”
Tonks shot her mother a knowing look and hissed at her. “Mum, not now, alright. We need to go in. Leave this for another time, please. Poor Harry doesn’t need us arguing again.”
Silvana smiled at the chastised older woman, and Andromeda nodded at her daughter. “Yes, you are so right, Dora. Dear boy, and poor Sirius. I just wish I could have seen him before…well you know.”
Tonks held her Mum’s arm as Andromeda reached for a handkerchief from inside her top pocket and blew her nose. Her daughter looked a little embarrassed, though from her appearance Silvana could see that Andromeda had not been the only one to shed a tear or two that day. “Come on, Mum. Let’s go and find the rest of them. I promised Remus I’d help out, didn’t I? And I’m on duty here too.”
Silvana baulked a little at these words. “On duty?”
Andromeda broke into a smile. “Oh yes, Silv‘! She’s an Auror. My little girl is an Auror! Ted and I, that’s her Dad…we’re so proud of her. Worried of course, especially now, but very proud.”
Silvana smiled, and as she followed the two women into the hall, and the guests to remember Sirius Black, she muttered, “Yes you must be very proud. She is a beautiful daughter you have there. Take care of her.”
Silvana had intended to stay out of the way of the main throng of guests, and take a discreet view of the proceedings from the rear of the hall. However, with her daughter on duty at the entrance to the Hall, Andromeda would not hear of it, and insisted Silvana sit with her, towards the front. Silvana faced forwards as she took her seat and saw the young visage of Sirius Black, in a photograph, staring back at her. It was a perfect picture, showing his mischievous, and yet haughty, handsome face. She looked intently at it for a moment, but her concentration was broken by the sobs of Andromeda, mixed with a stilted running commentary of the event taking place. Silvana smiled a little from the corner of her mouth. Andromeda had always been able to talk for England, which was just as well as Silvana had been a reserved girl at first. They had complimented each other well. She jumped as her friend prodded her in the leg.
“Look, there’s the Weasleys. That one there…the boy…is Harry’s best friend, Ron. Pretty girl they have too, but those twins of theirs…my! What a handful! But my Dora is fond of them. Oh, I wonder who they are.”
Silvana looked across to where Andromeda had nodded. But her gaze was captured by the sight of all the Gryffindor banners around the edges of the hall being flown at half-mast and wavering in the ghostly breeze. The ominous sight brought a lump to her throat, even though she was a Ravenclaw. The tears began to well in the backs of her brown eyes, and she blinked to suppress them. Perhaps she was too hasty in coming. Perhaps she should have stayed in Ireland. This brought back her own ghosts. They were not yet laid to rest. She could feel them, especially her boy. Yes, he should have been here by now. He would have been a Ravenclaw. But he could have been a Slytherin like his Uncle. Like his father. Like his grandfather before him. She shuddered, and was grateful to hear Andromeda still talking. Her voice pulled her out of the depths.
“Oh, that’s Hermione, I think, and…oh that’s dear Neville Longbottom, Silv. You remember Alice and Frank, don’t you?”
Silvana nodded. “Yes, I do. Frank was a prefect when I was. Alice adored him! Dumbledore told me about them. Gosh, doesn’t he look like Alice?”
“Yes. My Ted's Muggle-born, you know. Someone said you married a Muggle, Silv. Is that right? We have so much to catch up on. Where did you go? What did you do? I want to know it all.” She grabbed at Silvana’s hand and Silvana reciprocated the gesture with a squeeze of her fingertips.
“I’ll talk to you soon, but not now. Oh look! Is that Harry?”
A shudder flew through her body again as she witnessed the boy walking to the front of the hall, all eyes upon him and his companion. Silvana remembered the photograph of all her friends, and could see James and Lily within Harry as soon as she set eyes on him. No wonder Severus hated him. He must stir a curious loathing within her brother even now. He looked across at her unfamiliar face, but bowed his head down, averting his eyes as he did. And her heart reached out to him as only a mother could. She watched silently as Andromeda reached out for the man beside him, and patted his hand. He smiled kindly, and Silvana swallowed the lump in her throat as she saw the exhausted figure of Remus Lupin look across at her. She nodded and smiled, but he was too emotional to respond, and he walked away, head bowed, just as Harry did. She understood his pain only too well.
And then they all rose from their seats as Dumbledore took to the stand at the front of the room, and began to read a eulogy about their friend and relation. She handed another handkerchief to her companion as she struggled to hide her sorrow. But Silvana had shed so many tears these past years she could find none to fall to her reddened cheeks. She heard him speak of Sirius’ bravery, of his courage in adversity, of his spirit, but all she heard were their voices calling to her. They had been brave and courageous too, she thought. But they had not listened to her, and she had to make them listen now.
We loved you. We came to save you.
I told you to stay at home. I told you to never look for him.
But we could not leave things as they were.
You should have stayed at home. Why didn’t you listen to me?
Because we loved you. Because you were in danger.
But I told you to go. I loved you too, and now I have no one.
That isn’t true. You must see the truth, Silvana.
Who will love me? Who will love someone as tainted as me? I am not worthy and I can never tell them. I will never tell him the truth. I cannot tell him, for to tell him would be to admit it happened. Do you not see? Why did you not listen to me?
Her silent inner cries were distracted by events at the front of the hall. There was shouting, and a disturbance that until now she had been unaware of. Harry was up from his seat, and a chubby, older man had taken Dumbledore’s place. Remus was struggling to control the boy, and Dumbledore was looking tired of trying. Andromeda grasped her hand as the scene unfolded before their eyes.
“Oh my, Silv! Do you think we should help them? Fudge should never have come. He disturbs the boy too much, and after all that he has said.”
Fudge, she thought? Oh, the Minister for Magic. Oh dear, he had struck a nerve and now he must pay. She recognised the look of fury on Harry’s face and she remembered the look of fury on Colm’s face when she had told him the truth. He had hated her. Hated her so much that she thought her heart would break. Oh yes, she knew hatred when she saw it. The young man swept from the Hall, chased by his friends and a worried Remus Lupin, and the Minister stood open mouthed and speechless. Silvana felt his eyes upon her as soon as the small party had left the hall. She knew she would be called upon, and she turned to face the old man’s brilliant blue eyes.
Go to him now, Silvana. You of all people will understand his pain. You know which one needs you the most. I will leave the judgement up to you.
Silvana nodded to Dumbledore, and placed a hand upon Andromeda’s shoulder to indicate she must leave.
“Where are you off to, Silv? He doesn’t know you, and the kid will sort him out. He can’t go far. Better to let him have his grief and let it out, I say.”
“I agree, Andromeda. It is not Harry who I wish to speak to.”
“Oh! Well you go then.”
Andromeda shifted to let her pass and Silvana hurriedly made her way out of the entrance, smiling sympathetically at the frustration on Tonk’s face, as she could not leave her sentry position on the door, even for a friend. Silvana whispered to her.
“I’ll try and talk to both of them, if they let me.”
Wandering out of the hall, she felt as if she had never left these hallowed grounds. The cool breeze that threatened Autumn blew against her face, though she was grateful the wind had ceased. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed the three teenagers talking animatedly by the Quidditch pitch, being followed now by the Weasley twins. There were two elder men, who she could only presume from their hair colouring were their brothers. At least Harry was well looked after, she thought. There was nothing more there for her to do yet. She looked around her and scanned the scene for Remus. Perhaps, she pondered, he did not wish to be found. Perhaps he had wished to be left alone. But she could not do that to him. She had to find him, and then she realised just where he was.
The afternoon rain had left a damp blanket of fine mist upon the grass, and the bright sun that now shone made the steam rise from the green carpet as she walked towards the lake. She felt the wetness rise into her shoes as she strode along in the grass, but ignored the sensation as she saw him, gazing across the horizon of the lake. As she neared him, she slowed down, though she knew he had sensed her a long time ago. He did not turn to see her, but spoke aloud as he still stared ahead.
“Beautiful scenery, isn’t it? I used to love coming down here as a boy. Especially in the summer, on an afternoon such as this. It seemed too good an opportunity to miss really, being back here. I didn’t want to hear that fool babbling on about Sirius anymore. What did he know about him? What does anyone know? He was my friend, not theirs.”
Silvana approached him cautiously, and stood beside him, at arms length, watching the horizon with him. The lake was beautiful, and she too used to sit here on lazy summer afternoons and watch the world go by. She smiled, not looking at him.
“Life was simple back then, Remus. It all seemed to be so simple. And as for the Minister, well, he had to do his job, I suppose, but yes, he is an idiot. Or at least from what I can see of him he is. Sirius was a brave man who was dealt a poor hand. He was unique.” She giggled at her recollections. “A sod sometimes, of course! Cheeky too, but a wonderful boy who I can only presume grew up into a fine man, and a dear friend to you, Remus. They all were. I know it is hard to be the one left behind.”
Remus frowned, walked to the edge of the lake and picked up a smooth stone he had spied on the stony ground, throwing it as far as he could to release his frustrations. Silvana laughed.
“Don’t hit the Squid like Sirius did once, or we’ll all be in trouble! Do you remember how I had to cover that one up from McGonagall before she expelled him? I‘d never lied so much before in my life! And I had to bribe half of the onlookers to keep their mouths shut.”
For the first time in weeks, Remus let out a laugh as he recalled the events of that day. He threw his head back and laughed from the pit of his stomach. But the laugh was a mask for his sorrow, and the forced chuckles of mirth soon turned to sobs, and he crouched down to his knees, ashamed to show his face to the woman before him. Silvana stepped to him now, and placed her arms about him, sitting down next to him on the damp grass, pulling his body into hers in a comforting embrace.
“Shssshhh, Remus. It’s ok to cry. Let it out. Harry is safe. He is with his friends now. Just let it all out.”
Between sobs he tried to speak. “I can’t do this. I can’t pretend everything is alright when it isn’t. I’ve lost so much, Silvana. James, Lily, Sirius, Peter, and others. Those who cannot bear to be with a man such as I. I have lost them all. I feel so wretched and alone, but I have to be strong, and yet I can’t. I find it so hard now. There seems to be only darkness. I find it so hard to remember the good times now when all around me is so bad. Why is that? Why? Why did he go to the Ministry, and why did she have to kill him? He was her cousin, for Merlin‘s sake! Did it mean nothing? How could anyone allow it to happen? For a man of such a free spirit to be incarcerated for so long and then suffer. How can it be fair? ”
She pulled him to her closer still, absorbing the violent sobs as he expressed his feelings. She bent her head to his and whispered to him gently like a mother to her child. “It will begin to lessen, Remus. There will be a time when the wounds will begin to heal and you can go on again, but it isn’t now. Do not expect too much of yourself. You are, to all intents and purposes, just a human. We have weaknesses. Even those who are werewolf need to grieve. It will get better, maybe not today, or tomorrow but soon. I promise you it will soon.”
Finally the grey-green eyes looked up to meet hers and his tear-stained face pulled at her heartstrings. He forced a smile and sat up beside her, looking awkward and ashamed of his outburst.
“I’m sorry I am such a fool.”
“I am sorry you think yourself to be a fool, when you clearly are not.”
He stared at her now, looking at her with fresh eyes and a calmer countenance. She had not changed much from the times he remembered her. A little older, perhaps, but still the same calm Silvana he had known. She was still a beautiful woman, he thought, as he stared at her deep brown eyes edged with a kiss of long, black eyelashes, and framed by her long, dark hair. He looked at her lips, so full and tinged with a hint of red that made her pale face come alive. Perfect skin on a perfect face. A sudden whisper of long lost feeling stirred inside him, but he chose to ignore it. Today was not the day. He had had his fingers burnt by a woman before, and now was not the time, if there ever would be a time. He had loved and lost: he would never do it again. To be left by one you loved was all too familiar and painful now. No one could be allowed to enter his heart again.
Startled a little by his sudden interest in her face, Silvana avoided his eye contact and started to rummage around in the deep pockets of her black robe. On reaching what she was looking for, she stopped, pulled out a packet and smiled as she unwrapped it. Remus looked down at her long, nimble fingers and realised what she was doing. He chuckled as she passed him some with a glint in her eye and a smirk on her face.
He took a square or two of chocolate and gently tapped her outstretched hand.
“A girl after my own heart.”
“Well, I always say it’s the cure-all. Come now. Eat that, and then we must see what damage Harry has done to the world. I fear, if he is anything like the teenager I used to know, that this will be the least of your worries, my dear.”
She brushed off her robe as she rose from the ground, and Remus joined her slowly. Standing next to him, she smiled as he offered her his arm, which she took gratefully. They began to make their way across the grounds, back to the main entrance.
“Feel better now, Remus?”
“Yes. Thank you, Silvana.” he said awkwardly, ashamed she, of all people, should have seen his moment of weakness. As he looked at her familiar face he felt like he was 11 again. “ I must say I am so grateful to hear you’ll be helping me this year. I was surprised to hear you’d be coming back.”
Silvana smiled and squeezed his arm. “I was a little surprised myself Remus. Tell me, I have not seen my brother since he was 17. Is he all that I hear he is? Is he that bad?”
Remus smiled again, and looked at her, stopping in his tracks. “I couldn’t possibly comment, Silvana. Let us just say that I have never understood how on earth you two can be related to one another. And having seen you now, after all this time, I am even more perplexed. But you can ask him yourself, if you like. He is just over there, by the door. I will take you to him, if you wish.”
Silvana looked at Remus, and looked across to the shadowy figure staring out at them from the entrance of Hogwarts, unaccompanied, and dressed in black from head to toe. Her brother. Her darling younger brother. Oh, how she had waited for this day. She looked at Remus, and smiled at his kindly face.
“Yes, Remus. It is time I spoke to him. There is much we have to discuss. I owe him an explanation.”
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