The Sugar Quill
Author: Starsea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Remembrance Day  Chapter: Default
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Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day

 

Dedicated to

Grace has Victory, FernWithy

and

ivy and Gracie

 

Rated PG for morbid musings on death

 

 

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

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.

 

The West 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 setting.

 

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!”

 

He smiled 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 chest.

 

“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?”

 

He continued 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.

 

He wondered 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?

 

Deciding who 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.

 

“Sirius.”

 

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.

 

“Dorcas.”

 

Although the 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.

 

“Frank.”

 

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.

 

Alice.”

 

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?

 

“Caradoc.”

 

Missing, 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 Dartmoornow 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.

 

“Benjy.”

 

Oh Benjy… 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.

 

“Fabian. Gideon.”

 

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.

 

“Watch over them,” he begged the air, and continued his litany.

 

“Edgar. Marlene.”

 

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.”

 

Beautiful 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.

 

“James.”

 

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 alive.

 

They should 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.

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

 

Remus turned, 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.”

 

Remus’s 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.”

 

“Alright?” she 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.”

 

“You were waiting for me?!”

 

“Did I say that?” Tonks said airily. “I don’t think I did.”

 

Remus tipped 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, satisfied?”

 

“Told you 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.

 

He resisted 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.

 

“Moody 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.

 

Remus 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.”

 

“Don’t you dare get morbid on me.” She folded her arms and gave him a stern look of her own.

 

Remus did 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?”

 

Tonks shook 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.

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

 

Lines from “Requiem: Poems 1935-1940” by Anna Akhmatova, translated by Richard McKane

 

DISCLAIMER: 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.

 

AUTHOR’S 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. ^_^

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