Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the 'Harry Potter' universe and everything and everyone in it, I am just a fan with an imagination running on caffeine and chocolate. I own nothing…
It had been three years.
Three years since that fateful day in June when the entire world had changed.
Three years since 'The Final Battle', and three long years since one young man had had any contact with the life he once knew.
Three years since he had been among the few to be named a 'survivor'.
It was the third anniversary of the Final Battle and Seamus Finnegan had finally been able to accept his invitation to the annual memorial service. It had taken three years for him to be able to make the journey to this place, physically and emotionally.
He had spent the first year and the first anniversary in hospital, recovering and recuperating from the battle. Nightmares plagued him by night and haunted him by day. He had spent the first year trying to accept his scars and his now useless left eye.
He had hidden from the world as the second anniversary arrived. He felt unable to face a world changed so drastically. The absence of friends was more profound in familiar settings, so he tried in vain to escape painful memories. But while he could escape the outside world, he could not escape himself, and the guilt he felt for having survived when others had not, threatened to overwhelm him. The remote house in Donegal had allowed him some respite and refuge from the world but his dreams had followed him, loneliness and sadness persisted.
And so when his invitation to the third memorial service had arrived, he knew what he had to do. He owed it to his lost friends to start truly living again, and he had to face his past in order to move to the future. He was terrified and unsure, but tired of hiding and tired of being alone. It was now or never…time to face the past and move to the future.
It was early in the morning when Seamus approached the monument.
"Anois no choiche", he whispered as he ran a shaking hand across his scarred face, and began to walk towards the monument. Diagon Alley was quiet and still at this early hour of the morning, the crowds and the press would appear in a few hours. This wounded young man needed this time without scrutiny. The cool marble glistened in the early morning light as Seamus reached it and could see the first familiar name.
Harry James Potter.
…his full title was etched after his name, but for Seamus he would always be his friend, the person who accepted him even after a fight and a shouting match.
The person who had sacrificed everything to save them all.
It was this name that brought the tears to Seamus' eyes. Dean Thomas. Best friend and confidant…artist and joker. The man who had fought by his side as the battle raged and chaos reigned…the friend whose laughter and smiles haunted his dreams and made reality even more painful.
It was the name of a kind and loyal friend, brave and selfless, who fought bravely until he was taken from the world. He had jumped in front of a killing curse being sent towards Hermione.
As Seamus read each name he could remember the last time he had seen each of them. He could remember the pain as the curse had hit him, robbing him of consciousness and eventually the sight in his left eye. The tears fell freely as he remembered.
Too many names were etched onto the cold stone, too many friends lost in battle. Familiar names mixed with some unfamiliar ones as he scanned the marble monument.
Too many people taken before their time.
He reached forward, placed his hand upon the cool marble and whispered,
"Mo chara…Solas na bhFlaitheas ar a bhur anam"
A gentle hand reached to him and it was only when he heard another voice break the quiet that he realised that he was not alone.
"Hello Seamus, it's good to see you" Hermione said as she reached forward and pulled him into a friendly hug before stepping back to look at him. "It's been too long".
Ron, who had been standing uncharacteristically quietly at Hermione's side, reached for Seamus' hand before pulling him into a quick hug.
The three survivors stood in the silence for a while, standing side by side at the monument to their friends. Seamus noticed that he was not the only one crying, when he saw Hermione crying on Ron's shoulder as the young redhead tried to comfort her, their hands were intertwined. Hermione dried her tears after a few minutes however, and approached Seamus; she looked at him seriously as if challenging him to even try to lie to her,
"How are you Seamus?"
It hadn't escaped Seamus' notice that his friends had approached him from his right side; they were going out of their way to show him consideration.
"I'm getting there Hermione…I'm getting there"
He smiled slightly in gratitude when Hermione nodded her head in acceptance of his answer. He really wasn't able to go into any more details at this time.
"It's strange to be here," he whispered as he pulled his cloak tighter around himself.
"Tell me about it mate" Ron said as he scanned the all too familiar monument and tried to maintain his composure.
"We weren't sure if you were going to be here this year, every letter we sent to you was sent back unopened.
Hermione interrupted as Seamus tried to find the words to reply,
"What Ron is trying to say, in his completely tactless way", she sent a small smile in Ron's direction before turning her attention back to Seamus "is that we've been worried about you"
Seamus was tempted to look at the ground as he replied but made himself look at his friends, they deserved so much more than that.
"It's taken me a while to get to this day"
Both Ron and Hermione nodded their heads in understanding; no more words were needed to explain. They were happy that he was here today and they understood what he had been going through the past few years.
Seamus turned his attention back to the marble monument, cold and harsh. It didn't seem right to remember his friends in this way. How could the cool stone remember the way Neville would try to help when Harry had his nightmares, or the way he had the power to make anything grow in the school's greenhouses? Neville's smile and his bravery could never be remembered through harsh stone, it lived on in the people that knew him. Dean's name etched into stone failed to show the world the artist that he truly was, the best friend and loyal confidant. Dean's smile was etched in Seamus' memory and not the cold marble monument. Harry's name, and the title that he hated, engraved forever on a marble monument could never capture the essence of the friend that they had had the honour of knowing.
It seemed that Seamus was not the only one who was thinking this as a sad chuckle broke the silence,
"Do you two remember when Dean drew those funny drawings of all the teachers and somehow they ended up being displayed where everyone could see them?
The change of the subject and Ron's attempt to act innocent for his past actions caused a small smile to creep across Seamus' face.
"Yeah, you do know that he got a weeks worth of detentions for that, even though they were great drawings"
Ron raised his hands in defence,
"Hey, how was I supposed to know that git Snape was going to see his?"
Hermione joined in with a smile,
"If I remember correctly though Professor Dumbledore awarded Dean twenty points for excellent artistic ability and for making him laugh"
The three survivors smiled as they remembered that moment and their hearts grew lighter as the day progressed, and many other good memories were shared.
The memories of their friends would live on in them.
Anois no choiche – Now or never.
Mo chara…Solas na bhFlaitheas ar a bhur anam – My friends…may the light of heaven shine on your souls.