Grace has Victory, FernWithy
ivy and Gracie
Rated PG for morbid musings
The hour of remembrance has drawn close again.
I see you, hear you, feel you:
the one they could
hardly get to the window,
the one who no
longer walks on this earth,
the one who shook
her beautiful head,
and said: ‘Coming
here is like coming home.’
It was cold,
and the wind blew the leaves through the air with a mournful sigh. He stood,
gloved fists in pockets, and he listened. It was that time again: the earth
going to sleep, nature withdrawing, everything turning inward, sinking
underground. No wonder the old ones had made this the end of the year. No
wonder they had dedicated this time to the dead. It was so easy to believe that
ghosts walked the earth at this time of year. Sometimes, he almost wished they
would. He knew many people that had died, most of them at different times of
the year, but he honoured them all on this day. It was easier that way.
Country had always been a place of refuge. First the Celts and then the Saxons,
fleeing the invaders; it was where the expression ‘run for the hills’ came
from. Back then, the land had been lower, and Chalice Hill and the Tor had been
islands in the middle of an inland sea. On a day like today, perhaps this day
of all days, you could feel the many people who had
passed through this place, feel the weight of the ages pressing down upon you.
Trees murmured around him, tossing their branches as if to say welcome, welcome… A hand patted his
shoulder, he felt someone brush past him. It was nothing new. Such occurrences
were… almost welcome.
He walked down
Chalkwell Street, towards the Tor, majestic on the
crest of the hill. The vast, dark bulk of the Abbey was behind him. The people
hurrying by took no notice of him, a man with greying hair, wrapped in a dark
cloak. It was one of the benefits of coming to Glastonbury: you
could wear a cloak, you could even wear robes, and nobody even blinked.
He sucked in
his breath as the wind came bursting across the low fields and hit him as he
began to climb the hill. The wind brought tears to his eyes, and in his chest there was an ache from the cold and the loneliness,
which were one and the same thing. He swallowed hard and pushed himself on,
making himself remember others long departed but
still loved, still missed.
The sun was
The first time
he’d come here, everything had been different. It had been Midsummer, the sun had
blazed high overhead, he’d been with friends, and they hadn’t gone to the Tor,
they’d picnicked on Chalice Hill instead. There had been a slight wind up there
to take the edge off the heat. He could almost smell the wildflowers, the
daisies, the hint of Lily’s perfume. She’d been nearly
eight months by then, and James hadn’t wanted to be so far from home, but she’d
insisted, and she’d got her way. Lily always got her way with James if she
fought hard enough.
“Rule of the Day: no arguing with the pregnant women!”
Alice’s smile, the mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “I like that!”
himself, forgetting the oncoming dark, back there on that summer’s day:
Sirius’s arms coffee brown from the sun, Peter’s eyes slightly bloodshot
because of his hay fever (was he telling the truth?), James’s nose a pillar-box
red. He peeled layers of skin off it, muttering under his breath. Sirius and
Frank, the lucky brown ones, laughed at him.
“Serves you right for not
using the Umbra charm!”
The sun was in
his eyes. He stopped. The warmth and laughter vanished, and he was alone on a
cold hill, facing a bloody sunset with that familiar dragging ache in his
“I love coming here,” she said, leaning back on her
elbows, “it’s like coming home. Our Mecca. It’s so… peaceful. So quiet. I love that. Don’t you, Remus?”
his climb. Peace and quiet… such precious commodities.
One could never get enough of them. They were always in short supply.
Especially nowadays; the peace of the last sixteen years had been ripped away,
a flimsy veil covering the sordid truth: the problem was still there, it had
never really gone away. You could see that in the hysterical newspaper stories,
the way people talked on street corners in groups just like before, the
Ministry leaflets. How would leaflets help you
against Avada Kedavra, against the
Cruciatus Curse? Useless bits of paper: they were trying to paper things over,
still trying to make people believe it was all right, but it was useless. They
all knew that he’d returned, they all knew who died
and who survived was a matter of luck and cunning.
how long it would take for the wards of St. Mungo’s to fill up again. How long
would it be before the deaths stopped shocking people and became commonplace
once again? How long before the list of names grew so great, it was impossible
to remember them all, how long before you became numbed to the death and the
terror and the darkness?
came first was usually the hardest part. There were so many who should be
remembered; so many victims. Even the heroes had been victims in the end. But
this year, it was obvious who should come first. The man who was on his mind
every day, whose presence still lingered in that house of shadows, the gap that
they all tried to paper over. Only the first casualty of the war, he reminded
himself. There would be others. Many others. But for
now, he would remember this one. The one who had returned to
him, briefly. And then one for every footstep.
Brilliant, restless, and always on the run, first from his family,
then from his past, searching for a family, for some stability. He didn’t want to use the word ‘unstable’, with its dark
undertones, but Sirius had been unstable. Volatile, perhaps that was better, on
the edge. Sirius had been on the edge of so many things throughout his life. It
was all over now. He could rest, be at peace. He was finally with his family.
If it wasn’t for Harry, you could almost say that it was better he was dead.
Death Eaters were known for their brutality, Dorcas’s body had been strangely
unmarked when they finally found her. Unlike many others, her eyes had been
closed, giving her face the gentle appearance of sleep. Her golden skin had
been unmarked apart from some lingering purple blotches around her neck, as if
someone had shaken her by the neck. Would Voldemort have actually touched her?
She’d been a pureblood, after all. Although he wasn’t.
One of life’s little ironies and one which had made him laugh for quite a long
time, a dry bitter laugh. Frank would have appreciated that. Maybe he would
tell him next year. There was always some hope that somewhere… deep down… the
person that was Frank might hear him.
He visited them
once a year. He should visit them more often, but it was so painful to see the
emptiness in Frank’s eyes, once so alive and crackling with intelligence.
Frank’s intelligence had been more down-to-earth and focused than Sirius’s or
James’s brand, and he’d lived up to his name. You could always get the truth
from him. He hadn’t lacked a sense of humour, despite Sirius’s accusations: he
just preferred jokes that were subtle, wry, and even dark. Remus had liked that
about him. Sometimes he thought he missed laughing with Frank most of all.
The nightmare Life-in-Death was she, who thicks men’s
blood with cold…How had that Muggle Coleridge
known? It was a nightmare of the worst kind to see that kind, caring woman
turned into a living phantom of herself, her practical mind reduced to a
wasteland. Death would have been kinder. Much kinder.
But how could you expect kindness from Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange?
presumed dead. You could put the Longbottoms and Caradoc in the same category,
really. Perhaps Caradoc’s bones were lying somewhere at the bottom of a ditch,
or more likely an old mineshaft, since he’d disappeared down in Dartmoor – now you’re just being morbid. He wasn’t going to imagine Caradoc’s
skeleton abandoned and lonely, he was going to remember Caradoc when he was
alive, singing Welsh songs in his beautiful tenor voice, getting roaring drunk
and challenging Moody to arm wrestling matches that he always lost. Of course,
he could be alive, but only his family still believed in that possibility.
Better to have your bones still intact than to be torn into pieces by whatever
the Death Eaters had set on him. Had they given him to the giants? Remus
shuddered at the thought of Benjy’s body being used like a rag doll, pulled and
stretched and then tossed away when there was no more use for it…
Fee fi fo fum, I smell the
blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to
make my bread…
Did they do
that, Benjy? Did they? Or did they get tired of grinding you and just rip you
apart in the end?
You’re being morbid again.
And when he
said those names – one for each step – the faces that rose before his mind’s
eye were not those of the Prewett brothers but the faces of Fred and George,
the Weasley twins. Funny, fearless and fierce in equal measure, the twins
blazed their own trail, unconcerned with conventionality, focused on making
money, making people laugh, and making things for the Order, although not
necessarily in that order. He blinked and tried to focus. Fabian and Gideon,
both tall with barrel chests, stubborn and fierce, men who could drink five
shots of Firewhiskey with minimal side effects. Men who had
fought to their last breath. Heroes.
them,” he begged the air, and continued his litany.
Not just the
members this time, but their families as well. There were no more McKinnons.
The cadet branch of the Bones family had been wiped out completely. He thought of
Susan, her calm dark eyes, the way she held herself. Something like that
reverberated down the generations. He hadn’t been surprised about her
involvement in the D.A. The Bones family had always stood for truth and
justice. Edgar would have been proud of his niece. Marlene… blond, fluent in
German thanks to her mother, who had named her after a Muggle actress, so that
she always pronounced her name ‘Mar-len-a’. She’d bitten Sirius’s head off when
he’d said it wrong. Remus chuckled: it was one of the few times he could
remember Sirius looking subdued. James had been suitably impressed. Lily had
turned away to hide a smile.
Lily, with her red hair and pale skin, and those brilliant eyes that she’d
handed down to her son, what a shock to have them looking at him on the train,
after all that time. Even if he hadn’t been the spitting image of James, he
would have known those eyes anywhere. Lily’s eyes had always been lit up by
something: amusement, anger, irritation, love, kindness… Yes, Lily was always
kind. Even after she’d found out Remus’s secret. Especially after that, you
might say. Looked after him like a sister and a mother all
rolled into one. It wasn’t pity, hadn’t been pity, he knew that. There’d
been a streak of practicality in Lily that prevented any slushy sentiment. He
was nearly at the top of the hill now, his chest hurting from the cold, his
ears numb from the wind, everything bathed in a red light.
What was there
to say about James that hadn’t already been said? Reckless, righteous,
intelligent, loyal… not perfect, of course. Nobody was perfect. James had been
a bit of a show off and sometimes a bit of a bully. But he’d been an Auror,
defied Voldemort three times, died for his wife and
child. He’d been the lynch pin that held the Marauders together, the catalyst,
a natural leader. He should be alive.
Lily should be
all be alive.
And in a way
they would be alive, as long as there was someone left to remember them. He
walked to the Tor, squinting his eyes in the light and put his hand against the
stone, watching the shadows creep up towards him over the estuary, and then a
voice said, “Come here often?”
I would like to name them all but they took away
The list and there’s no way of finding them.
For them I have woven a wide shroud
From the humble words I heard among them.
his hand diving into his pocket for his wand, but the speaker stepped out into
the light quickly, giving him a smile.
“Calm down, ’s only me.”
shoulders sagged in relief. He would have been an easy target. He’d been so
absorbed in his memories he wouldn’t have had time to react to a hex or a
curse. “Hello, Tonks.”
said easily, walking towards him.
“What are you
doing here?” he said, puzzled.
“I could ask
you the same thing,” she retorted, hugging herself as the wind blew across the
hill. “Bloody chilly up here, and you took your own sweet time.”
waiting for me?!”
“Did I say
that?” Tonks said airily. “I don’t think I did.”
his head and gave her his ‘teacher’ look, stern and slightly disappointed.
Tonks held out for ten seconds and then made a face. “Fine, Moody told me,
what?” he insisted, folding his arms, half for the stern appearance and half
because it really was cold, especially since this hilltop was so exposed.
“Look, can we
move behind the Tor before I explain? Or do you want to hear my teeth
chattering?” she said plaintively.
the urge to chuckle. “Fine.” They moved into the
shadow of the Tor, and suddenly everything was quieter. Tonks leaned against
the old stone, her face pale in the fading light.
explained that today’s your… commemoration day? And I wanted to keep you
company. I miss him, too.” She looked down for a moment, her voice fading away.
swallowed. “It’s not just for him, Tonks. It’s for all the members who’ve died
fighting Voldemort… and the rest of his victims. Even though I don’t know them,
someone should remember them.”
“And the best
way to do that is to tell me about them, isn’t it? The
ones you knew, I mean. I hear about them, but nobody tells me anything. And I’d like to know.” She bit her lip. “If you’re willing to tell, of course.”
He stood still
for a moment, touched beyond words by her gesture. She fidgeted a little in the
silence and he almost grinned, but he didn’t want to offend her. She was so
young, so full of energy and life. It was good to see that. And it felt… good
that she wanted to hear about the others.
“I’d be happy
to tell you about them, Tonks,” he said quietly. “Somebody should know about
them, in case.”
dare get morbid on me.” She folded her arms and gave
him a stern look of her own.
chuckle this time, but only briefly. “I’ll do my best if you keep an eye on me.
But I usually remember them watching the sunset.” He turned and walked out into
the wind again. She followed him, and he thought he heard her mutter something.
He turned. “What was that?”
her head, long plum-coloured strands of her hair whipping about her face. He
decided not to pursue it and took a deep breath.
“Who would you
like to hear about first?”
I remember them always, everywhere,
I will never forget them, whatever comes.
“Requiem: Poems 1935-1940” by Anna Akhmatova, translated by Richard McKane
Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks and all other characters are owned by J.K.
Rowling, and I make no money off them. I only borrow them for a little while.
NOTES: I haven’t forgotten Watching for Wolves, I’ve just
been nearly eaten up by university, battling those monsters called finals. But
they’re over now, so I should be able to finish the second chapter and have it
up soon. Many thanks to my beta reader, Jo
Wickaninnish, for getting this back to me so quickly. If you haven’t read
her story A Glass of Water, what are
you waiting for? It’ll be a particular treat for Ginny and Sirius fans.
Every time I
read these lines, Remus comes into my head, so I just had to write this story
for him. Glastonbury is a town in Somerset, in the west of England,
associated with Avalon. Glastonbury Abbey is supposedly where King Arthur is
buried (at least, that’s where his tombstone lies). Glastonbury Tor is a real
place and open to the public. Chalkwell Street is a real street which leads towards the Tor.
This story is
dedicated to FernWithy for her
stories about ‘Dora’ and Remus, Grace
has Victory for her wonderful story Moons
of Deceit, and ivy and Gracie,
who have written Where the Light is and
The Gift among many other things. All
three (four?) authors write Remus extremely well, and I don’t measure up to
their standards, but I hope they enjoy this little tribute and the hint of R/T
that comes with it. ^_^