Darkness fell upon Godric's Hollow.

The sun sank below the horizon, taking with it all of the magnificent colors of the sunset, bleaching the sky of red and orange and yellow. Gradually stars began to shine through the darkness, one by one, until finally the entirety of the inky sky was covered in little pinpricks of light.

Harry Potter gazed up at these stars, watching them come out. His vivid green eyes reflected their light, and yet somehow seemed devoid of any sparkle or twinkle. They were dull, and seemed to have an enormous sadness about them. It was doubtful that they would ever sparkle again; they had lost the ability to do so about two months ago, if not sooner.

Harry looked at the stars for a long time, but finally turned his gaze downward. He was standing in front of two identical gravestones, about three feet apart from each other. They were cold and hard and gray - utterly lifeless. The grass around them was brown and parched, and rustled in a gentle breeze that wafted past. The graveyard that Harry was standing in had not been tended to for several months; as a result, there were mossy, overgrown weeds sprouting everywhere and the gate was rusty and hard.

Harry, ignoring all of this, concentrated instead on the inscriptions inscribed on the tombstones. The one on the left read:

DEVOTED MOTHER AND WIFE

LILY POTTER

1956-1981

And the nearly identical one, located on the right, was inscribed:

BELOVED FATHER AND HUSBAND

JAMES POTTER

1955-1981

Something suddenly caught Harry's eye. He started, then gazed closer. Brushing aside a leaf, he suddenly saw that someone had carved something else into his father's tombstone, below the dates:

Prongs

Harry smiled in spite of himself. Which of the Marauders had been here? Probably Padfoot. It was the kind of thing that he would do. A fitting tribute, as it were.

Harry gazed around, then shivered. It was rather cold outside and he didn't have a sweater, only a small Gryffindor scarf. Trying to shut out the chill, Harry made himself gaze at the tombstones again. As he did, however, his mind wandered...

So this was what it all came down to. His parents had fought against Voldemort, had resisted his powers, and had protected Harry ... sacrificing themselves in the process. And now all that was left of them was these gravestones, each inscribed with three simple lines. Somehow, "devoted mother" and "beloved father" didn't seem to be enough to describe what they had gone through.

And yet Harry knew. Harry knew what had happened, how much they had fought, and how much they had struggled. Harry knew what his parents had done for the Order. And, Harry supposed, that was enough. He knew what they had done, and now he knew that he must follow in their footsteps. He must fight just as hard, if not harder, and be the one to eliminate Lord Voldemort.

Harry inhaled deeply. The fresh night air had a cool and crisp scent, despite the chill. But he wasn't focused on that. There was only one thing that he needed to be focusing on right now, and that was tracking down all four of Voldemort's Horcruxes. It was a tall order. It was a huge order. But Harry knew he had to do it.

Harry gazed down at his parents' graves one last time, then quietly turned around and walked out of the graveyard. His thoughts, however, stayed with his mother and father. And as Harry walked, he realized that whatever they had done, however hard they had fought, they had always had each other. Right until the very end.

And, similarly, Harry had his two best friends in the world to go with him on his journey: Ron and Hermione.

"How'd it go, Harry?"

Back at Grimmauld Place, Harry had entered the house (quietly, so as not to disturb Sirius's mother) to find that his friends, instead of going to sleep upstairs, had stayed in the dining room waiting for him. Ron was clad in his too-small pajamas and had a warm butterbeer clenched in one hand. Hermione was still in her day clothes and was looking anxious.

"Fine," Harry said, taking off his scarf and hanging it on a rack. "There's not really much to tell."

"So you just visited their graves and that's it?" Ron said, taking another slurp of butterbeer.

"Yeah," Harry replied, sliding out a chair and sitting on it. "I didn't see too much there. Just a few blades of grass, a few lines on a gray slab ... but ... oh yeah..."

And he told them about the small etching he had found on his father's tombstone.

"Yeah, it was probably Sirius," Ron said when Harry had finished. All of them smiled.

"Why'd he do that, do you think?" Harry asked, taking a sip of butterbeer.

"I dunno … I guess he wanted his mate to be remembered for what he really was."

Harry considered him for a moment before finally draining his butterbeer. "You're right, Ron," he said, setting the glass down.

"The Marauders' friendship was worth everything in the world to them," said Hermione quietly, sitting down beside Ron, who nodded in agreement.

"And that's how it should be," Harry replied. "I know how they felt."

He looked at Ron and Hermione's smiling faces and grinned too. "Because our friendship is worth everything in the world to me."