Lawrence Avery stared in utter horror at the monstrosity laid out before him. His heart started hammering against his ribs. In that moment, he was absolutely convinced of two facts: there was a God, and He was a sadist.
"I am not wearing that."
His wife thwapped him with a rolled-up copy of Witch Weekly. "Don't be ridiculous. They're perfectly lovely robes."
"And they're green."
"Green's all the rage this season."
"They have piping."
"It matches your hair."
"Are you saying I'm going gray?"
"Look in a mirror, dear."
Lawrence scowled, well aware that the battle was lost. Here he was, the man who had talked his way out of a lifetime sentence in Azkaban no less than three times, and he couldn't even argue his way past the most hideous dress robes this side of 1975. Instead of arguing with Madeline -- a futile exercise best undertaken by the suicidal or insane -- he gave up and poked at the horrible things with his wand.
"Oh, for pity's sake!" Madeline snatched the offending robes away and clutched them protectively to her chest. "You're the one who wanted to go to this silly reception, Lawrence!"
He didn't answer immediately. Instead he flopped on their bed, staring up at the ceiling and wondering if he should get around to repairing that crack in the tiles. The wonderful thing about Madeline was that she didn't understand any sense of obligation, at least not beyond the conventional RSVP sense. But it didn't work that way with him. If Hogwarts was so set on dedicating this memorial, he was damn well going to be there.
"You're just going to get yourself in trouble," Madeline said from somewhere around her vanity. "If the Potter boy tries to have you captured -- "
"Then I'll talk my way out of it again," Lawrence finished patiently. "I was acquitted, remember?"
"And a fine impression you'll make, showing up where you're not welcome." She leaned over him, her dark curls brushing his cheeks. "You're not locked up and you're alive. Cut your losses."
He pushed her away and took the horrible robes back from her. "I already did," he said, and she fell silent. She knew better than to press the issue.
Averys survived. They were known for it. They were also known for being spineless, groveling cowards, and maybe one of these days someone besides Lawrence would think to link the two. Or maybe not. The ability to watch behaviors and to string emotions and meanings to together seemed to come with being an actor.
That was what a Death Eater was, as long as he didn't look too deeply. It was a neat little part for a play, with masks and costumes and a script that somehow wrote itself, and it wasn't really serious if he ignored what went on backstage. And then he couldn't ignore anything, but he also couldn't run away because that meant breaking the spell, ruining the play and whatever safety it still held.
Somehow the fact that it had ended didn't seem real. He just had another role now, husband and father. Except he was still a coward there. His little girl played at being an Auror, and instead of shaking sense into her he just looked away. If he couldn't see it, it didn't exist.
"Nice robes," Jane Everette-Nott muttered out of the corner of her mouth. Lawrence ignored her.
There was an enormous crowd slowly filing through the monument, which was more like a small forest of plaques and stones than anything else. McGonagall had said something about it, and so had whichever Weasley was Minister now, and Lawrence thought he had caught Severus Snape's eye for a moment before he went back to picking at the damn piping on his robe.
It became a game, playing Find The Slytherins. Not a hard game, either, since not many of them were alive -- and most of those who were hadn't bothered to come. When he ran out of names after ten minutes, he craned his neck and tried to spot the Quidditch pitch.
"It's kind of amazing," Jane murmured beside him in that isn't-this-a-pleasant-conversation kind of voice, and he knew that she had been counting, too.
Lawrence glanced over at her. "What is?"
"How we ran out of people."
"What, you and I don't count for anything?"
She gave him a sidelong look -- one she must have learned from Narcissa, and where the hell was Narcissa anyway? He wished Jane would drop the act, just for a moment. But of course she couldn't. That was why he liked Madeline, who was ten years younger than him and not the sharpest knife in the drawer and couldn't have played any other role if her life had depended on it. Maybe Severus would understand the appeal of that.
He decided that wasn't a good idea to ask.
This whole setup had to be Dumbledore's doing from beyond the grave, since who else on Earth would include Death Eaters' names in a war memorial? Stupidest idea he'd ever heard.
But there they were, plain as day, and now he wished somebody had warned him. What was he supposed to do with them? If this were a play and if he had picked his sides better this would have been time for a solilequey, and then curtain-calls and him going on with his life.
"Do villains get solilequeys?" he asked the nearest names, and then bit back a humorless laugh when he saw that he was trying to get answers out of Evan and Antonin. Brilliant move, that.
Because it seemed like an appropriately dramatic thing to do, he ran his fingers over the names. Jane's stupid husband Derek. Mulciber. Macnair. The whole damn Quidditch team.
Benjy. His best friend. The only one who'd actually had any sense at all.
It was like the stupid Greek tragedies that he couldn't be bothered with, because it felt like the writer had given up halfway through. That's it. The end. And then they all died.
Except for the snivelling coward, of course. There was always a character like that, who pulled through by sheer stupid luck and stared blankly at the carnage, and the curtain came down before anyone figured out what would become of that poor bastard.
He'd always thought it was a stupid way to end a play.
Madeline was wrangling their son when he came home. When she greeted him, describing what havoc their daughter had wreaked this time, the baby made a grab for the silver piping.
"Oh, for the love of -- " Madeline tugged the piping loose, rolling her eyes heavenward before she smiled at Lawrence. "Did you have fun?"
She huffed and held a ringlet away from the baby's questing grasp. "Well, why in the world did you go, then?"
"Curtain call," he said, and changed the subject.