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This story was written for MargretLane's 1916 Centenary Quotes challeng. My quote was "Life springs from death, and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations", and is by Padraig Pearce.





 

It looks so soft yet there is roughness around the dried edges, hardened in death as the moisture of life is sucked away. It's delicate, yet it stubbornly grips onto anything it can to survive. It appears insignificant, yet everything has a role to play, however trivial it seems.

I crush the moss in my fingers. It binds together. I press down harder, rubbing it forcefully. It crumbles. I feel satisfaction as it turns to powdered dust in my hands. I throw it away and the breeze claims it, scattering it into into the endless beyond.

I reach forward. The stone is cold under my fingers. A pick away at the moss that is inching every closer to the 'H' that is etched into the tombstone. The 'TER' has all ready disappeared beneath the spreading mass. One day it will claim the entire surface of the stone and the words underneath will be but a memory, lost to time.

I keep picking at the moss, breaking it from its thin tendrils that have delved into the tiny pores of the stone. Tears burn at my eyes. He hasn't been gone that long. It's too soon for the moss to claim him. One by one the letters are revealed. I rub the stone to clean it as much as I can. The tears fall. I let them go unabated.

I look at my hands. My fingernails are broken, the tips of my fingers raw. Dirt is caked underneath and I frantically try to clear it. Sobs catch in my throat. I gasp, unable to breath. I collapse sideways upon the grass, my body consumed by grief. My body convulses with each gasp of air and the tears form rivers down my checks. I scrunch my eyes closed. I don't want to see it. I don't want to see the stone that tells me that Dad is no longer with me.

I lie upon the grass and let the pain course through me with an all consuming intensity. I don't try to stop it. I let it flood my senses completely, taking control of my mind and my body. Letting it take me away from this place. But it never lasts. My body begins to calm, the sobs subside, the tears abate. I open my eyes, to the grass, to the moss, to the tomb stone. I stay where I lie.

They are the only things alive out here. The moss and the grass. For I am not alive. I survive each day in a stupor. I prey for it to end. The world has so much pain and so much death. There is no happiness, only fear. For most it is the fear that today will be their last. For me, it's fear that I will live to see tomorrow.

The Ministry lied. It always lies. They stood the day that Voldemort fell and said that life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women, spring living nations. There is no living nation. Only war. My family is all dead. They died for a country that no longer exists. They fought a battle believing that in the end we would be free.

My eyes look down the rows of stones. My parents, grand parents, brothers and cousins. The moss colony and the weathering of the stone, the only indication of how long I have lived alone. A warm tear again escapes my eye and rolls down my cheek into the grass. A stone in the ground and memories are all I have left. Fleeting thoughts of a time that was.

There was peace apparently. It's what they told me. But only for a time. But the Death Eaters returned. In force. All was lost. War ensured. Death was final. Chaos reigned.

No life has been born from their deaths. They are just a number in an ever increasing tally of those who have died to protect something that is all ready lost. This life is all I've ever known. Once upon a time I had family with me, but now it's only me.

The wind stirs, calling my name.

“Lily,” it whispers.

I ignore it and dig my fingers into the ground.

“Lily,” it calls again, louder.

It taunts me, a reminder that I am not dead.

“Lily, it's time.”

I ignore it still.

I feel the ground shift. There is something else alive in this cemetery. I feel the warmth of your hand as you place it on my shoulder. It's an attempt at comfort. What comfort can you give when every day is war?

You don't say anything. I'm glad. I don't need false words of comfort. You know me too well for that. I feel the tears start to fall again. You always do this to me, bring me back to the world of the living when all I want to be is with my family.

“It will end one day,” Lorcan says.

I hear your words. I believe them. It will end, but that one day seems too far into the future to even entertain with a dream.

“We have to fight Lily. We can't give up.”

“Why?” I ask. The words catch in my dry throat.

“Why not?” Lorcan exhales. Annoyance and bitterness lace his voice. “There's nothing left in this world for either of us except each other. We could escape it all, run away, but I couldn't live with myself knowing I gave up. Could you?”

I let the question hang. I've thought of running away many times. And every time I'd tried, I ended up back in exactly the same place. Here. In front on my fathers grave.

“I'm going to keep fighting, 'til my last dying breath if I have to.” Lorcan continued. “I can't give up on the hope that there's something more to the world than this.”

I stare up at the stone as your words sink in. Your hand moves from my shoulder and strokes my hair. I feel your warmth against my chilled body. You have a way of making me feel again. When all I want is to be numb to it all, you come along and bring me back. I hate you for it but love you for it at the same time.

I sit myself up and lean into you. You wrap an arm around me, giving me comfort.

“This war is all I've ever known,” I say. “It's taken everything from me. You're all I have left now. What if it takes you from me too?”

I look into your eyes. I see the pain. This world is all you've known as well.

Your pull me in tight. Neither of us wants to think of a world without the other.

“The raid is starting in a couple of hours,” Lorcan states. His tone is all business, the time for emotions has passed. “We should go.”

I pull away from Lorcan and nod. I wipe my eyes and inhale deeply. The tears are gone. My will to fight restored. If not us, then who? Our families are dead and they can do nothing from the grave. I stand and look down at my fathers headstone. I know I'll be back here soon. Maybe I'll be lying beside him, maybe I'll be wishing to be lying beside him. But today I fight.

 

A/N: It took me a little while to work out what to do with the quote I was given but I was determined to stick with it and this idea eventually started to form. It's not my usual style of writing as I don't often write first person and present tense, not have I written in this very truncated, stuccato type of voice. But its how it sounded in my head so I just followed my muse. Thanks for reading and any thoughts would be much appreciated.
  

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