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Chapter 22: Goodbyes Are Never Easy

Everyone stared at Dumbledore shocked. Lily knew he wasn’t lying, the look of sadness and despair he had in his eyes couldn’t be faked. Lily buried her head in James shoulder and he wrapped his arms around her trying to comfort both her and himself. He looked over at Sirius who was still sitting on the floor, he hadn’t moved a muscle.

“Ho-How?” Sirius asked quietly, his voice breaking.

“Her house was attacked by Death Eaters a few hours ago. Both she and her parents put up a tremendous fight. But help arrived too late. I arrived to find Ms Plunkett lying on the ground. She was very weak. It seemed she had been tortured instead of being killed straight away. She told me what happened and told me to give you this Mr Black,” Dumbledore said turning to Sirius. “She said it was your Christmas present.”

Sirius slowly reached for it. It was an envelope. He looked down at it then up again at Dumbledore.

“What happened then Albus?” Mrs Potter asked him shakily.

“She went unconscious and I brought her straight to St Mungo’s. But when we arrived she had already passed and they said there was nothing they could do. I am sorry,” Dumbledore told them.

James eyes were full of tears. He tried to hold them back and stay strong for Lily who was curled up against him, tears streaming down her cheeks, but he was having a hard time. He had never lost anyone before, especially not one of his friends. He wasn’t prepared for the pain and heartache he was feeling.

“What is going to happen now?” Sirius asked quietly. His face was pale but there were no tears running down it, yet.

“Since her parents were also killed, we have decided to hold a burying ceremony in Hogwarts for all of them on Monday,” Dumbledore told him. He could sense how upset Sirius was and was worried that if he didn’t let it out soon it was going to be harder to let go.

Sirius nodded to show he understood. He looked again at the letter that he held in his hand. It looked so plain, unordinary. He put it on the floor beside him, afraid to open it, afraid of what might be inside.

“I have to return to Hogwarts now and inform the school of what has happened,” Dumbledore said to them.

Lily looked up at him, her face and eyes red from crying. “Does Alice know?”

Dumbledore shook his head sadly. “No, I came here straight from St Mungo’s. No one else knows,”

“Can she come here? Until Monday?” Lily asked quietly, pleading with him with her eyes.

Dumbledore looked at Mr and Mrs Potter who nodded. “Of course. I think it would be easier for all of you to be together. I will send her along with Mr Lupin and Mr Pettigrew here tomorrow morning,” he told them before dis-apparating.

The room was silent for a long time, no one was sure what to say, they were all wound up in their own sadness and grief. James looked again at Sirius who was staring at his letter which he held weakly in his hand. He looked down at Lily who was still crying into his shoulder. He held her tighter, feeling her whole body shaking. He felt so sorry for her. First she was attacked by Voldemort, then her parents were taken from her and now her best friend. It just wasn’t fair. “It is all his fault!” James thought angrily. “It is all Voldemort’s fault. He did this to us. He killed Jo and Lily’s parents. He destroyed all of our lives,”

No one moved for hours. Mr and Mrs Potter watched them battle silently within themselves, trying to face the fact their friend had been taken from them. They didn’t want to say anything to them for a while, instead they let them come to terms with what had happened. After a few hours, after James and Lily had fallen asleep on one another, Mrs Potter turned to Sirius who was still staring at the unopened letter.

“Sirius, darling? Are you ok?” she asked him kindly.

“I’m fine,” he said huskily. “What would be wrong?”

Mrs Potter looked sadly at him. He was trying to hide his pain but he was only going to feel it more later.

“Don’t hold it in Sirius. Let it out, we are all here for you,” she told him softly.

“Really, I am fine. There is nothing wrong,” he told them, though they could hear the grief and hurt in his voice. He got up off the ground and walked slowly out of the room towards his bedroom. Mrs Potter turned to Mr Potter after Sirius had left.

“I hate seeing them all like this Harold. They are so upset. They don’t deserve this, they are so young, they have so much to live for,” she said sadly to him, her eyes prickling with tears.

“I know Avril sweetheart, I hate to see them so upset too. This will be hard for them to recover from, especially Sirius. I think this is the Jo James and Lily were telling us about. She definitely wasn’t just another fling, I have never seen Sirius look so defeated.

“Me neither. He always puts on a brave face,” Avril said with a tear falling silently down her cheek as she looked over a James and Lily on the chair, they had cried themselves to sleep over the last few hours.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The next two days were hard and sad for everyone. Alice, Remus and Peter arrived early on Sunday morning. Alice and Lily ran into each others arms and cried for a long time, holding each other, trying to comfort the other. Even just the fact the two of them were there without Jo was enough to send both of them into tears. Jo had always been with them. There wasn’t many moments Lily could remember since first year where Jo hadn’t been with them. “But there are going to be too many of them now,” she thought sadly, tears running freely down her cheeks.

Sirius hardly ever came out of his room over the two days. He only came out at dinner because he was forced to. But he didn’t eat much and never said a word. James and Remus were worried about him. He had never before refused a meal and he always had something to say, he was never quiet. He was really torn apart by Jo’s death.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The morning of the funeral dawned cold and dull. Lily was glad the sun wasn’t out, she didn’t want it to shine on such a sad day. She woke early and pulled on a black dress and pulled her hair back into a ponytail. Dumbledore told them they didn’t have to wear their school robes for which Lily was glad. She wasn’t ready to put it back on and go back to school knowing Jo wasn’t going to be there. She looked at herself in the mirror. Over the last few months she had become even skinnier than she had ever been. She had gone through a lot and it was taking its toll on her. She was pale and her face looked drawn and thin.

She went down to the sitting room to find everyone already there, dressed in black like she was. She walked over to James and slipped her hand into his.

“Are you ok?” he asked her silently. His usually bright hazel eyes had a deep sadness clouding them.

“No. I don’t want to say goodbye to her James. She was my best friend, she was always there for me. I don’t want her to be gone,” she said burying her head in his shoulder again. He put his arms around her and rubbed his hand up and down her back in a soothing motion.

“Me neither Lils. None of us want her to go. We all loved her,” James told her, his own tears burning with fresh tears. They had all taken it hard. It had been so much of a shock.

Alice walked over and put her hand on Lily’s shoulder. “I miss her too Lil, we all do,” she told her, tears sliding delicately down her face. Lily turned to face her. They each looked into the others eyes and broke into fresh tears, hugging each other.

Mrs Potter walked into the room and looked around at the teenagers. She too had tears in her eyes just from looking at them. “It is time to go,” she told them.

Lily and Alice let go of one another brushing down their dresses and wiping the tears from their face.

“We have to do this, for Jo,” Lily said.

“For Jo,” Alice agreed.

They all walked over to the kettle Mr Potter was holding, it was the Portkey that was going to take them to Hogwarts. James looked at Sirius who was standing opposite him. His eyes were sunken and had large bags under them. He was extremely pale and he didn’t look like he had slept since Friday. There was a sudden jerk from behind James navel and a few moments later he felt his feet hit solid ground. He looked up at the stone castle where he had spent the last seven years of his life. But for the first time, he didn’t want to be there. He wanted to be anywhere than standing outside those gates.

Together they walked slowly towards Hogwarts. Lily was walking with James on one side of her with a tight grip on her hand, and Alice on her other. Remus stood on Alice’s other side with Peter and Sirius walked slightly behind them, his hands dug deeply into his pockets.

After a few minutes they reached the castle doors and were greeted by Professor McGonnagall.

“The ceremony will be held over beside the lake,” she told them. She too bore signs of recent tear-shedding. Jo had been one of her favourite students no matter how much she gave out to her.

When Lily heard that it was going to held beside the lake she took a deep breath. The lake had been Jo’s favourite place to relax and hang out with her friends. As they walked over she saw that the seats were arranged under the large tree they always sat under. She saw three large boxes set on an alter, each covered with a purple cloth. Lily gripped James’ hand tighter as she saw it. This was it, the final goodbye. It had been hard to get over the loss of her parents, but she never had to attend their funeral. She was glad Petunia hadn’t told her about it because she didn’t want to have to go and see her parents being buried. But now, here she was, about to do it for her friend.

They went to the front row and sat down together in the seats. Lily sat beside Alice and James, gripping both of their hands. She heard the noise of the students making their way towards them. They all filed into their seats as Dumbledore walked up to the alter.

“We have all gathered here for a heartbreaking occasion. We are here to bury a fellow student, something I hoped would never happen,” Dumbledore started. Just seeing him standing up their brought tears to all of their eyes.

“Jo Plunkett was an amazing student and person. She was a friend to many and kind to all. She was a true Gryffindor, courageous and caring. She was loved by all her teachers, no matter how much trouble or stress she caused them,” he continued with a little laugh.

“Jo was always a fighter. She stood up for herself and others whenever she needed to. She fought to her very last breath. She stood up for what she believed in, which is, she believed in the good in people and was ready to fight for that. Sadly, she will not be the last one to die fighting against the threat of Voldemort. But it is better to fight for what you think is right and die, than step aside and let Voldemort destroy us all. Jo and her family did this. They fought against him for what they thought was right, and I honor her for this. I ask you all to do the same. Don’t take the easy way out and back down. Stand up for yourself and the ones you love. When you are faced with a choice about what is right and easy, remember the student that gave her life fighting for you and the good you represent. Remember her and she won’t have given herself for nothing. Remember how she stood up for what she believed even though she knew it was dangerous. Remember Jo Plunkett,” Dumbledore finished, a tear falling down his pale cheek.

Lily buried her head again in James’ shoulder, crying more than ever before, her heart breaking with every word Dumbledore spoke.

“And now we must say goodbye, to a friend, a student, a Gryffindor, a love and a daughter of her wonderful parents. Jo was many different things to many people. We will all miss her bubbly and cheerful manner,” Dumbledore said somberly. He turned to face the coffins on the alter.

“Goodbye Jo,” he whispered quietly.

Everyone stood up silently and walked over to the graves that had been prepared. With a flick of his wand Dumbledore lowered the three coffins into them gently. The tears were flowing non stop from Lily’s eyes and she stood shaking watching her friend being buried. When Dumbledore fully lowered them James, Lily, Alice, Remus, Sirius and Peter stepped forward, each holding a rose.

Lily and Alice took the last step together and looked into the grave.

“Goodbye Jo, we are going to miss you so much. I can’t believe you are gone. You were such an amazing friend, it won’t be the same without you,” Alice said through her tears and threw her rose on top of the coffin before turning to Lily and putting her hand on her back for support.

“Jo, I can’t believe I am never going to see you again, never talk to you anymore. You have done so much for me, you were always there for me when I needed someone to lean on. You have been my friend for so long, I can’t think what it is going to be like without you. No more joking around with you, no more pillow fights in the middle of the night, no more long lectures about how I should calm down and relax. Hogwarts isn’t going to be the same anymore, there will always be that whole that you are supposed to fill. We won’t forget you Jo, no one ever could,” Lily said quietly looking down into the grave. “This may be the last time we see you, but we won’t ever forget you or anything you did for us. Goodbye Jo, forever,” she said throwing her rose in on top of Alice’s. The two girls turned to one another and walked back to the rest, holding onto each other tightly, crying every tear that would come.

James, Remus and Peter stepped forward and they too dropped their roses into the grave. “We will miss you Jo. You were a great friend to us even if only for a short while. Goodbye Jo,” James said.

“I am sorry we never had much time to really get to know each other. But we are all going to miss you. Bye Jo,” said Remus quietly.

“Yeah, bye,” Peter said dropping his rose too but he didn’t look down. He couldn’t, knowing it was his fault she was dead, his fault all his friends were so upset. He stepped away from the grave with James and Remus.

Slowly Sirius stepped forward, the rose clutched in his quivering hand. “I don’t want to believe you are gone Jo, I don’t want to accept that I will never see you again. We only just got together. We could have had ages if I wasn’t too proud to admit I was in love. But I am. I love you Jo. I have never been in love before, and I don’t think I ever will be again. You were the one for me, I could feel it whenever I looked at you. I was planning to marry you. We may have only been together about a month, but I knew we were meant to be. I even bought a ring, I was going to propose at graduation,” he said taking out a black velvet box. “But now we won’t have that chance. You had so much life left to live Jo. We haven’t even finished Hogwarts yet. We were meant to graduate together, get married, become Aurors and have lots of children. But none of that is going to happen now, for either of us. My love and any thoughts of marriage died when you did. Please remember I love you. I know you never said it back, but it doesn’t matter. I love you more than anything else, and I always will. Goodbye Jo, I will never forget you or what we had,” he said dropping the rose and the engagement ring into the grave before turning around and walking away from everyone.

He walked until he was on the other side of the lake, alone and where no one could see him. He needed to be alone. Finally the tears that he had been holding in finally came. He wept openly as he looked out at the vast lake. He wouldn’t accept she was gone, until now. He had fought it for the last few days but the realization finally hit him. She was gone, the only one he had ever loved had left him.

(Real World - by D-Side)
Last night I dreamt you were lying beside me
I smelt the sweetness of your hair
You gently reached out to remind me
Of how it used to be
And I almost believed that this morning I'd find you still there


He stayed there for a long time, thinking back over every moment he had spent with her. All the times when she laughed, or smiled or even when she hit him. Every memory gave him a sharp pain in his heart. He couldn’t believe how much he loved her, and how much he missed her now she was gone.

But here in the real world
I miss you madly
In the real world
I'm coping badly with losing you
What am I to do
Here in the real world
Without you

Last night I dreamt of a different ending
Everything just seemed to work out somehow
I saw that someday I could smile again without pretending
In was so sure I'd wake up and I wouldn't need you right now


He reached into his pocket and pulled out the letter Dumbledore had given him on Christmas night. He still hadn’t opened it, he wasn’t sure what would be inside. But now he had to do it. She had used her last breath telling Dumbledore to give it to him and he wasn’t just going to forget about it, or her. Slowly he broke the wax seal and opened it, his hands trembling. As he read it more and more tears came.

Dear Sirius,
Wow! This feels so weird, I never write letters! Anyway, Merry Christmas! I know this doesn’t look much like a Christmas present but I needed to tell you this. I was a bit scared to say it in person so maybe writing it down will make it easier for telling you after Christmas. Ok, here it goes:
I love you! There I said it and I mean it. I love you Sirius Black! I have for the longest time, I was just afraid you didn’t love me, that you would reject me and run off with the first pretty girl who walked by. But then you said those three little words on the train platform and I was stunned. I wasn’t sure what to think. I wanted to reply but my dad took me away before I got the chance. But please believe that I mean it. I can’t wait ‘til we go back to Hogwarts and I can tell you to your face how much I love and show you how much you mean to me. I am counting the days!
This really doesn’t sound anything like me those it? I sound so sentimental and sweet and a bit nauseating but this is what you have done to me! You have turned me into…into…Lily!! And I said I was counting the days until I return to school? You have corrupted me Black, but that is one of the things I love about you. I love your sense of humour, the way you laugh and smile, the way you can cheer me all the time, and (as weird as it sounds) the way you love me. I love everything about you Sirius Black and I am not afraid to admit it anymore.
I hope you have a great Christmas and I am sorry I can’t be there. I am really looking forward to going back and seeing you and showing you how much I love you!
Love you always and forever,
Jo


Sirius looked up from the letter the tears streaming down his cheeks. She would never get to see him again, she would never get to tell him she loved him. She was gone, and he wasn’t sure how he was going to manage with out her.

I'm here in the real world
Without you.



A/N: That chpater made me cry it was so sad! Poor Sirius! But I always thought there was a reason why Sirius was alone so in this case this is the reason! What did you think? Please review and tell me! Hope you liked it and thanks for reading! = )

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