Disclaimer: All of this is based upon the lovely J.K. Rowling's work
Warnings: Character death and slight language.
Part 10: Epilogue
One Year Later…
The wind blows my hair, and I squint against the sunlight as I stare at a tombstone, Sirius' tombstone. Sure, he is not buried there – it's not like there is even a body, but it is still a comfort to know that there is this small memorial to the life of a great friend and brother. It is good to know that there is a physical reminder of him in the place.
I glance to the left and see the dual headstones of the Potters. I give a small smile and nod my head in greeting – just in case they are watching in the afterlife. I can only hope that wherever they are, Harry's parents are happy and are with Sirius. But at least they can be buried next to him… well, his headstone.
Remus is buried on their other side, and I still don't quite know what possessed us, the Order, to leave him there after his betrayal. Wait, that isn't true. I know exactly why we left him to rest next to his family. We left him there for the simple reason that they are his family and would have forgiven him anything if he was truly repentant.
Beside me, I hear a small sigh of sadness, and I am torn from my contemplation. I feel a hand squeeze mine. My eyes flicker to the man next to me… the man who brightens my days, who comforts me at night, who possesses my heart, the man who is like a father to Harry, the man whom I love… the man who is my lover, lifemate, and husband.
Kingsley notices my glance and smiles.
I can't help but smile back as he wraps an arm around my waist. I lay my head on his shoulder as I watch our son, Harry, kneel in front of his other parents' tombstone. His fingers trace their names, their birthdates, their death date, and he whispers something, but it is far too soft for me to hear. He looks as though he will cry at any moment, tears clinging to his eyelashes. But then he does something that surprises me… he smiles.
"Thank you," he whispers to his parents' headstone at a more audible volume. He adds something to that statement which suspiciously sounds like, "I love you."
I exhale a breath that I wasn't even been aware I had been holding. So much has changed over the past year and yet, so much is still the same.
Last year Harry never would have said that word… love. He would never say it, to anyone, not even Sirius. But after Sirius and Remus died, after I came to see him as my son, and he grew to see me as a mother… well, only then did he begin to say it. Only after he started dating Luna, only after Ron nearly died in a Death Eater attack at Christmas… only then did Harry start to tell us how he felt. I think he was afraid that if he didn't say it, then we would never know how he felt about us. He was afraid that we would die and never truly know that he loved us.
But this is not all that is different. Harry now has a family, a real family; it is official. Kingsley and I legally adopted Harry on February 14th, Sirius birthday and our wedding day. Harry has a girlfriend – one that strangely enough, King and I approve of. I can tell that they are truly in love; one has only to look at them to know that it is the forever kind of love.
And yet all the changes are tempered with things that remain the same. The war still rages on. We have had great victories and terrible losses, like the loss of Minerva McGonagall last Christmas.
Albus is still head of the Order – a less cloak and dagger and more member friendly Order – with Moody now as his second and Sybil Trelawney as his heir apparent of head of both the Order and the school, as she is the new Deputy Headmistress.
Snape is still a Potions Master but is no longer a spy for us as Voldemort discovered the deception shortly before Yule. Though he is still there in all his snarky glory, he has become … well, maybe pleasant isn't the word but he is less … Snape-like. He still possesses his wit and cunning, but he is tempered with compassion now. Remus' madness and subsequent treachery has had quite an effect on him; though many – me included – are not really sure why. Further, he is tempered by Minerva's death, which devastated him especially as he saw her as a pseudo-mother and since the Death Eater attack was meant to be an assassination attempt on him. Many of the Order thought him to be suicidal, but he is coping now. I think he has found comfort in trying – and succeeding – in saving the children of Death Eaters' from their parents' calling. Draco Malfoy has been his biggest success to date.
Molly Weasley is still motherly, though she now sees Harry as my son and more like her nephew. She is ecstatic over my marriage to Kingsley and is constantly asking when we will have more children. Unbeknownst to her, it will be in about six month's time. Harry is quite excited about his little sister.
Moody is still as crotchety as before, but his engagement to Poppy Pomfrey has at least made him happier. He has started a training program for members of the Order – and those that are still considered to be too young to be in the Order – to work on our offensive and defensive skills. I don't think that I have ever seen him this content before.
Harry still leads the DA, though he has expanded it into two groups – one for the original members and an expanded group for all his new students. He is also now receiving additional training, outside what Moody is providing. Kingsley and I want our son to be prepared.
He was good – really good – before he started training, now he is excellent and will soon be all but unbeatable. All he needed was a little encouragement and some one-on-one education. That was it, the rest is all him. Though I pray he will never have to use these skills, I know that my hopes are in vain. My son will one day have to face Voldemort again, the Dark Lord will see to it.
But soon Voldemort will be nothing but a dark dream… a nightmare to frighten naughty children into behaving. His followers will be defeated by the Aurors, by the Order, and by a wizarding world that will no longer stand for their antics. And he, the Dark Lord himself, won't be defeated by just Harry; no, that won't happen because Kingsley and I will be right there with him. We will help our son; the prophecy be damned.
We will not leave him to face destiny alone. We will help him because he is our friend, our family, our son.
I will help him because he showed me the truth. He showed me that Remus was not my fault, just as Sirius was not his. We were just making the best of a bad situation.
I will help Harry, not because I feel guilty or because he is my redemption, but because he is Remus', and I owe the man that much as I denied him the chance to achieve it himself.
I am shaken from my reverie as my son moves to stand in front of me and gives me one of his ever increasing amount of spontaneous hugs. He smiles at me as Kingsley lays a hand on his shoulder and squeezes.
"Ready?" Kingsley asks and Harry nods. We turn to leave.
But before we go I move to Remus' grave and kiss my hand. I then transfer my kiss to the headstone as I kneel. "I forgive you," I whisper and trace his name with my fingers. "I just hope you can forgive yourself."
I rise and quickly follow my husband and son to the exit, my earlier thoughts returning.
I can sum up this past year in two words: guilt…
Noxius: culpable, guilty, responsible, blameworthy