Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. Nope, not me.
A/N: Yay for reviews!
As regards sequels… I have no plans in the near future, though a prequel sounds like it could be fun to write… but I am starting Uni next week and my time will be limited. If I write more, it won't be for a little while…
I'm glad you have all enjoyed The Space Between The Stars so much, and the time I frittered away writing fic when I should have been writing original stuff wasn't wasted! It was helpful, actually… if you ever come across a novel that features the Arachniae (in five years or so!) you'll know who wrote it… and why it took her so long…
And here it is, finally. The end. I will say no more.
Aemilia sighed as she looked at Remus, sitting in his chair by the window, gazing down at Regina's grave in the last sun of the day.
No man loved his sister like Remus loved Regina,she thought.
She laid her hands on his shoulders. "Remus."
His body shuddered beneath her hands. He was sobbing silently, gasping for a breath so quietly it was almost imperceptible.
His hands were shaking, and she took one of them in both of hers.
Three times is magic.
"Aemilia," he choked, "I - I -"
She enfolded him in her arms. "You don't have to speak," she told him, tears beginning to well up in her eyes too. "I know. I know. I know."
"I loved her so much," Remus whispered.
"And she loved you," Aemilia said, cupping his face in her hands. "That's why she did what she did. She died for you, for Sirius, for the world."
"She was - special. No-one was like her."
Aemilia nodded, tears rolling down her face. "She was special, Remus. So special."
He closed his eyes, his pain written on his face like a book written in blood.
"I won't tell you that it'll get better," Aemilia whispered, "or that it will ever stop hurting. You lived with her death for all those years and I know how much it hurt you. But… the dead that we love never truly leave us, Remus. Dumbledore told me that when my mother died. She's still here - in you."
Remus opened his eyes, full of tears. "I never thought anything would hurt this much," he choked.
She could do nothing but cradle him in her arms. "Remus," she whispered simply. No more need be said.
That sat like that until the sun went down and blackness reigned outside the window, masking Regina's grave. "Look," Aemilia said softly, "it's the first star."
She felt him kiss the top of her head. "I love you, Aemilia," he whispered. "How I love you."
Helena stared out of the window of Bill's London apartment, watching the stars rise.
Beyond the stars,she had been told when she was a young priestess in Arachne's temple, is the Otherworld.
"Do you walk the paths of the Otherworld now, Aralinda?" she asked the night. "And… are you happy there?"
She felt Bill come up behind her, lay his hands on her shoulders. Even now, after so much death, his touch made her shiver.
"And where shall ye belong if not at home?
"Devoid of native heath and doomed to roam?
"The rover's footsteps quicken as he turns
"Toward the hearthstone, where the home fire burns.
"Mere shelter may be varied frequently,
"But home is where the heart knows it to be.
"A wanderer may roam throughout his days
"In pathless lands or winding roads and ways,
"But in his secret thought, will always yearn
"Towards the home to which he would return."
Helena looked up at Bill in mild surprise. "I did not know you were a man of poetry," she said softly.
Bill smiled and sat down beside her. "It's written on the hearthstone at the Burrow," he answered. "Apparently one of my ancestors wrote it."
Helena turned her gaze back to the window. "Aralinda is far from home now," she sighed.
"But… perhaps she is home, Helena."
"What do you mean?"
Bill wrapped his arm around her. "I talked to Sirius about the time he spent in the Otherworld with Harry's parents," he told her. "He said… it was just like this world, but better. Like it was more real than the real thing."
Helena felt a little of her pain lift. "Thankyou," he told Bill softly, leaning her head against his shoulder.
"She's out there, somewhere," Bill said, running his fingers through her hair. "Out there… with the stars."
Severus sat in an armchair in the staffroom, his long legs stretched out by the fire. He had a book on his lap, but it was not a book of potions. It was a book unlike any book Severus had ever touched before.
It was poetry.
"Dark is the night that blinds the sight and moonless hides our paths,
"Dark are the shadows of the madness gathered on our hearths.
"Dark the storm-cloud, tall, wrathful, proud, whence tears of sorrow rain,
"And dark my heart that we must part. When shall we meet again?"
Two faces floated into his mind as he read the Lament of Farewell. One, a woman with long, curly brown hair, the other with gold.
Lady, lady, lady.
Severus looked over his shoulder. "Hello, Albus."
"Severus, I'd like you to meet someone," Dumbledore said.
Severus stood. "Certainly," he answered. He put his book of poetry down.
Dumbledore gestured to someone in the shadows. "Severus," he said formally, "this is Niamh Virdis, our new Ancient Runes professor."
"Hello," the new professor said.
She had long dark hair that fell to her waist in shining ringlets. Her skin was very pale, and her eyes an odd honey-colour. And there was something about her…
"Are you one of the Arachniae?" Severus asked sharply.
Niamh smiled gently. "My mother was," she answered.
And as Severus gazed on this daughter of a priestess, he thought that perhaps the third time would be… magic.
Aemilia had fallen asleep against him as they gazed at the stars. Remus picked her up gently and carried her to his bed without waking her.
She is so beautiful,he thought.
Aemilia's beauty was very different to Regina's. Regina's beauty had been in her serenity, in the absolute peace she radiated, permeating her features, making her beautiful.
Aemilia was fire, dark eyes flashing beneath her long dark hair. She was not serene like Regina. Instead, passion made her beautiful. It gave her depths.
Dumbledore had once told him to wear his heart on his sleeve, and he had found it difficult.
But that was what Aemilia did, and he loved her for it.
He stroked a stray strand of hair away from her face. She stirred slightly and murmured his name in her sleep.
Regina was gone… but Aemilia was still here.
Remus lay down and wrapped his arms around her. "I love you, Aemilia," he whispered into her hair.
He knew that somewhere, somehow, Regina was looking down on him.
And she was smiling.
Sirius wheeled. "Harry? What are you doing out here so late?"
"I could ask you the same question," Harry said wryly, kneeling beside his godfather.
"You shouldn't be out here. It's too dangerous!"
"The same goes for you, Sirius," Harry told him.
"I can protect myself."
"So can I."
Harry laid a hand on Sirius's shoulder. "It's not important, Sirius," he said softly.
They knelt together in silence before Regina's gravestone for a moment before Harry spoke again. "You really loved her."
Sirius nodded. "So much it hurt."
"The song you wrote for her… it was beautiful, Sirius. Ginny and Hermione cried."
"When you want people to believe your lies, Harry," Sirius replied bitterly, "set them to music."
"Do you think she would've wanted you to be like this, Sirius?"
"What do you mean?"
Harry took a breath. "I mean… I don't think Regina would have wanted you to be sad. She loved you too much for that."
"You sound very wise for a sixteen-year-old boy," Sirius replied half-jokingly.
"It comes with the saving-the-world gig," Harry replied wryly, and Sirius couldn't help but laugh a little.
The darkness was complete in the sky above them, and the stars were out, hanging like a jewelled diadem in the sky. Regina would have loved it, Sirius thought with a pang.
"She wouldn't have wanted you to be sad, Sirius," Harry repeated softly.
"I know," Sirius replied, "but that doesn't stop it hurting."
Harry looked up at the stars. "She's not gone, Sirius," he said quietly. "She's out there. She's with my mum and dad in the afterlife, and I bet you they're looking down on us right now."
Sirius smiled. "I think you're right there, Harry."
"Play for her."
Harry gestured to the violin, in its case on the ground. The same place it was every night when Sirius kept his vigil by Regina's grave. "Play for her."
Sirius smiled. There was a rightness to it. He snapped open the case. "I think I might," he replied.
And as the notes dripped off the violin, music pouring from the strings, the bow, his fingers like water, Sirius knew for certain that Harry was right. Regina was watching, and she did not want him to be sad.
And above him, the space between the stars kept shining.
And therein, my friends, is the end of The Space Between The Stars.