The kissing gate in Godric’s Hollow was rarely used. The graveyard was not accepting any more residents. Its grounds were full of bodies, rotting in the ground. Their bodies starting again, as new plants, blooming in the spring, or else as the compost the flowers sucked their precious food from.
When Remus Lupin came to the graveyard, it was almost overgrown. The gate was stuck as he opened it, the creeping willow from behind it barring its swing. The rest of the cemetery seemed like a scene from an attack of the plants film. The plants leaned over the headstones, their branches trailing on the wet earth like fingers caressing skin.
All in all, Remus thought, the scene could not have been more idyllic. All the lush vegetation was covered in a light sprinkling of raindrops, which gave it the feeling of a fairies glade.
But his eyes sought the familiar space where deep down, Lily and James lay, together even in death. The sunlight peeled around the graves, looking like a halo around his friends, a halo, he though, they justly deserved.
He didn’t know about the rest of the graveyards occupants but, there was at least one here that didn’t deserve that halo.
He crossed the grass between graves, sidestepping the decaying headstones, tripping once on a tuft of grass. He sank to his faded robed knees beside two more fresh headstones.
“I’m back James. Sorry it’s been a while mate.”
“I brought this, James.” Remus held up a small plaque roughly scratched into a hand sized black shiny stone. Across the surface it said Sirius Black, Godfather, friend and the best of men. He laid it next to where James’s head would be. They were nearer in that moment than they had been fifteen years.
“I miss you. Imagine it. Me… the last Marauder. Remember what we would all say? That we would live until we were Dumbledore’s age.” He laughed breathily, “I might do still. I can’t imagine that. Living so…. Living so long… without anyone. Because that’s it, I’m alone now, completely and utterly alone now. Remember when I was in Care of Magical Creatures on my own in 7th year after you lot dropped it? You called me the lone wolf, James. The lone wolf. All alone in that class. Well now I am the lone wolf, aren’t I?” He chuckled again, dryly this time.
“Okay, so this holiday, Harry is sixteen. He’s about to head off to Hogwarts for his sixth year. Time’s flown for me. Only yesterday it seemed we were all in St. Mungo’s and Lily broke your hand during her contractions. Firm grip on that girl.” He chuckled again quietly, shaking his head slowly. Quieter he said, “Has time flown for you?”
“You would not believe how strong he’s being Sirius. I thought after the Ministry that he was broken. But I should have known, he is truly your son. Both of you.”
“It infuriates him, I believe, that everyone says, ‘you look just like your father’, because now he adds in the second part by himself. ‘But I have my mother’s eyes’. That’s what he says. Those exact words, every time. One of his little quirks… and he has many. Lily, remember when James always tried to ruffle his hair? Well Harry spends most of his time trying to flatten it. And James, remember that temper of Lily’s? Or that streak of patience she had, when teaching younger students Charms in the common room? Well Harry has both. When there is an injustice, he is the first to spring up. Last term, he yelled at that toad Dolores Umbridge from the Ministry during a lesson. He completely lost his head, yelling and shouting. But he’s patient when his friends Ron, and Hermione fight and fallout, he knows where that pair are headed, he’s just letting them figure it out themselves.”
“Dumbledore spoke to us all at Grimmauld place after your death, Sirius.”
He nodded towards the stone lying on the grass.
“He warned us to move the Order’s Headquarters because of Kreature’s deception, but also because Harry couldn’t bear being in Number 12, this close after your death.”
Remus paused and let out a great sigh of frustration, or grief.
“Dumbledore said we had to look out for him. But everyone in that room cares deeply for your son. So that would never be a problem. I swear Molly Weasley is going to adopt him soon. Or at least marry him off to her daughter. Not that Harry would object to that though, I have a suspicion about another Potter and a fiery red head.”
“But after Sirius has died. I can’t stand being around people. I know if you were able to reply you would shout at me and tell me to stop moping and get on with my life. You would probably say, ‘I didn’t die to spawn the saviour of the wizarding world for you to waste your time moping about me.’ Probably something like that.”
“Infact, that wasn’t all true. I can stand around being one person. It’s a bit late on in my life for this, but I can stand Nymphadora. Actually she hates that name, so maybe Tonks. That’s a great way for me to tell her though, ‘I can stand being around you…’ … maybe not.”
“I’ve got to go, I’m sorry I can’t stay longer, It’s Harry’s birthday, well, you know that. I wish I’d been to all his birthdays. Infact, that’s not all I’m sorry for. I’m sorry I believed Peter’s story, sorry I suspected Sirius. I’m sorry I wasn’t trustworthy enough for you to pick me as your secret keeper. Maybe If I’d-”
A gust of dry wind picked up some old roses from another grave and blew them across the cemetery, lightly whipping Remus’s prematurely old hands. One of the thorns cut his hand along an old scar. But his wounds were too deep to notice a shallow cut like that. It would heal in time, unlike some other cuts, that gouged into his soul.
He climbed to his feet, his robes wet from the grass, and lightly stained with grass. His face was saturated with tears, his eyes swollen and bloodshot. It had been too long for him to hold in his grief and now he was paying for it. Was it possible for one person to cry so much? He thought he might collapse of dehydration.
“One more thing James, Lily, Sirius…” and he waved his wand saying a silent spell, and the creeping vines began to retreat. The grass shrunk back towards its roots and the moss disappeared from the older stones. He waved his oak wand again and a bouquet of flowers appeared on the tombstone sides. These would remain there for over a year and a half, until Harry replaced them.
And as Remus left through that little kissing gate, he felt lighter, free for the first time in fifteen years of his grief, and guilt, because as he left the wind blew through some wind chimes on the tree nearby, and he knew he wasn’t alone. His friends were dead, he thought, but they never truly leave you.
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