Author's Note: This is a suicide fic. You have been warned.
The funeral was not very well attended. Only a handful gathered by the casket as it was lowered into the ground. As each shovelful of dirt was heaped on it, to finally be covered by grass, the spot remembered only by a handful of people and a single, marble stone.
* * * * *
Where had we all gone wrong? He seemed happy last week. But he had always been good at hiding his true feelings. A byproduct of his family, I guess. I had always thought that he would tell us if something was wrong. Maybe we should have known better. Someone should have seen. He's always been a little bit melancholy, but I guess we just took it for granted that it was part of his personality. He almost never got angry, and looking back, he was almost never happy, either. His eyes were almost always haunted by some new danger, some new threat to his life, or the life of those around him. He even tried to pull away from us, though he was probably aware that we would never let that happen. Someone should have noticed. I should have noticed. We thought that it was just aftermath from the battle, that he would get over it, like he had survived so many other things in his young life. Loosing Molly hurt him more than anything. She was his mother. And Dumbledore. We all miss him, but none us were as close as those two were. Dumbledore was his grandfather, his mentor, his friend. The only person he completely trusted, with his life. So many people were lost, but his loss hits me the hardest because it wasn't in battle. It was in the aftermath. He was teaching, Defense, his best subject all through school. There was no one better to teach it. We thought that the Defense curse would finally be broken. He was resolved that his students would know how to properly defend themselves. If our classmates had known, maybe fewer would have been lost.
He was always too ready to blame himself. Maybe that was the cause. He lived with too much guilt. He had lost parents, classmates, brothers, a godfather, friends, teachers, and countless others that he didn't know the names of. He had taken lives, and it always hurt him, even though he was saving lives by doing it. He never wanted the life he got, no matter where he was. He was never treated normally, and that was all he ever wanted. The school turned against him on a moment's notice, mostly depending on the press, which he never wanted, either. I wish he had grown up in a normal family, with loving parents. I wish he was still here. He was my best friend. I miss him.
* * * * *
A tear rolled out of Hermione's eyes as she watched her friend being slowly covered by the earth. Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust. She was too numb to cry. She suspected that it would be years before the grief lost enough of its hold for her to cry.
* * * * *
I can't believe that no one is here. A year ago, he was hoisted onto the shoulders of our world. And now, there's hardly anyone to grieve for him. A real pity. He's saved our lives more times than I can count, and no one is here to remember his life. We should have seen it coming. He hated the war, but it never left him, even after it was over, finished by his own hand. He never accepted the power to take lives, yet he did because he was expected to. We should have known after we all mourned Dumbledore's passing. After that, even his two friends had a hard time getting him to talk. He was focused in his lessons, learning the skills he would need to finish what Dumbledore had been training him to do. When the time came, he did it. He bore his fame, but never liked it, and withdrew further into his shell. Severus and I agreed that maybe teaching would help. Our regular staff meetings would force him to interact with all the people who cared about him, the people he was putting up walls against. It seemed to be working. He smiled, but none of us really noticed that it didn't quite reach his eyes. But when he didn't show up for breakfast or his first class on Monday morning, we were forced to break into his room to find him.
In his hand was a bottle of poison, scattered around him were several empty bottles of alcohol, though he was never a heavy drinker. His other hand held a bloody knife; he had slit his wrists before drinking the poison that froze his blood, causing him to suffocate. It was the most painful way he could have found to die. His eyes, mercifully, were closed. I don't think I could have survived if he had been found with open eyes. It was too much as it is, but to see those expressive eyes lifeless was not something I would have been able to handle.
* * * * *
For the first time in twenty years, Minerva allowed herself to cry. She had not wept for Dumbledore. He had told her before leaving that one time not to cry. She did not cry for the fallen Weasleys, or for her former students. Until now. The other deaths had been part of a war, and although it was sad, there was more important things to do. Allowing oneself to be crippled by grief was something that would have helped Voldemort. She did not allow it to touch her, until now. He should have lived longer.
* * * * *
I guess that even Gryffindors are not immune to depression, though one can never tell. The whole bloody lot of them are too good at acting courageous. At being courageous. I guess they don't even know why they feel so down sometimes. I don't know, since I'm not a Gryffindor. As much as the brat annoyed me for years, he was a Gryffindor through and through. He shouldered his burden, and seemingly made his way through everything that life and Voldemort threw at him. I really will miss him.
* * * * *
Severus kept his face blank, as usual. But had anyone cared to look, they would have noticed tears silently flowing down the stern face.
* * * * *
None of us saw it coming, even though we should have. Hermione should have seen it, she's the observant one. I guess that the reports from Hogwarts convinced us of what we wanted to hear: that he was recovering; that he was getting on with his life; that he was living in the present, not in the past. We should have know that he was a good actor. I knew he was shaken after the rest of my family was killed in one night. They were gathering for Christmas, and I had decided to stay at the castle with him, so that he wouldn't be alone for Christmas. Dumbledore had said that he wasn't to leave the castle for any reason. Voldemort was escalating his campaign, with one focus: killing The Boy Who Lived. Nowhere was completely safe, not even the castle. At least he could be watched there. Hermione and I were to stay with him at all times so that he didn't wander off and get killed. He did what we asked. He was hailed as a hero for months. Then the Prophet released an article telling the world that he had used an unforgiveable to accomplish his aims. It didn't matter that he had used it on Lucius Malfoy, Peter Pettigrew, and Voldemort. He had used the most deadly of curses. He was not reprimanded, but he was shunned. He taught because he felt an obligation to the school and to Dumbledore. Minerva reported that he was getting better. We were all so worried that we latched onto any little bit at if it were the line of hope we had been waiting for. But it was a mask.
His rooms were a mess. There was a path to the couch, and a cabinet, where we found a huge store of sleeping potions along with the ingredients to make more, and several bottles of the strongest firewhiskey available. He had never liked alcohol. His bed was perfectly made, the desk neat. His student's latest essays graded and stacked neatly. Dobby found him, and after seeing him on the floor, was afraid to touch him. He went to Minerva in hysterics and managed to squeak out what he had found. Minerva, fearing the worse, had waited for me and Hermione to arrive before trying to get into his rooms. It was a good thing she did, since it took all of our strength to break down his wards.
And now no one is here to mourn the passing of the wizard that they had worshipped for 18 years. Only the four of us truly mourn him. I guess the wizarding world felt that he had no use anymore, Voldemort was gone, and they all needed to mourn. For their families, for everyone that died. And no one remembered those who lived, those who lost family, friends, classmates, teachers, mentors, parents. He lost two sets of parents – his own at age one, and mine, who had adopted him as one of us from the time he was 12.
Someone should have recognized the signs, but we were all too hopeful. I wish he were still here. He's been my best friend for eight years. I almost can't remember life without him. I'll miss him for the rest of my life. May he rest in peace and be reunited with the people that he lost. I hope I'll see him again one day.
* * * * *
Ron pulled Hermione closer to him, resting his chin on the top of her head, staring at the brown mound that covered their friend. Hermione nestled closer into him, staring at the grave with unblinking eyes. Severus and Minerva stood apart from them, not touching. Each was remembering the vibrant young Gryffindor, and the haunted young man who was now dead. As the grass magically grew over the soft, fresh dirt, a marble tombstone materialized at the head of the mound.
In memory of
He is mourned
By those who
31 July, 1980 –
14 February, 1999
* * * * *
This story is dedicated to Taylor Black, a Harry Potter fan and my friend, who committed suicide September 25, 2003, age 18. He is missed.