The world's great age begins anew,
The golden years return,
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn:
Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam,
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
He loses count of how many drinks he's had tonight.
Getting pissed, becoming so inebriated that everything begins to blur wildly – this seems more like something Sirius or James or Peter would do, not him. Maybe that is why Remus asks for another glass, slurring his words together, why he drinks it. They are not here, but he is.
He never knew that the world could fall apart in one night. He never knew that in the course of an hour or so, his three best friends would all be lost to him.
Others are celebrating. There are fireworks outside, and cheering. And yet tears are streaming down his cheeks. Others are thinking about what has been gained, what has been won, but all Remus can concentrate on is what he has lost, and that innocence, that hope, that he will never regain.
Once they hear the news, they wash themselves clean.
Lucius puts away his blood-spattered robe and his mask into a small cabinet, as well as all of their Dark Arts artifacts. Narcissa stores all the photographs she has of Bellatrix in the attic, taking them off display. They vow to put everything behind them, erase the slate and create a new life.
They transition from darkness into light easily. He is no longer called away in the night to be an assassin, and she does not spend those nights sleepless, waiting for him to return to her. There are no more secret prayers and days of fear. Their lives are filled with love and hope, for each other and for their son.
There are parties to attend again, instead of Death Eater meetings. Red becomes associated with wine again, rather than blood.
The photographs and artifacts rest out of sight, and they almost forget that they are there.
Rumors circulate around the Wizarding community after the war is over, and her son Sirius is taken to Azkaban. Some say that she has become mad, while others declare that she has a secret lover. All they know for sure, though, is that she has closed her door to society, and since then never attended another event. No one knows of anyone that had been invited into Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, from that fateful day burned into the collective memory of the Wizarding world.
In reality, every day, Walburga Black speaks to her ghosts. She conducts elaborate conversations with her husband and sons. When speaking to them in death, she is just as volatile as in life. She screeches at Sirius, both because he left and because he left, shut off forever in Azkaban. She yells at Regulus for dying, for being a fool, and at her husband Orion for being too weak to stay alive. The next day, she voices apologies, that she could never bring herself to make in life.
It isn't that she is mad, exactly. It is more that the people who made up her life left before she was done with them, and this is the only way she knows how to react.
He scrambles, desperately, to find some. It was one thing to contemplate their deaths, in the abstract. It is quite another to have the world be completely devoid of James and Lily Potter, and to have himself be responsible.
James could be cruel. Lily, in some ways, split apart the Marauders. They took him for granted. Any reason he can conjure falls flat. James hadn't been truly cruel since fifth or sixth year, he knows. And age, growing up, maturity, leaving Hogwarts, those were what made them begin to live separate lives. It wasn't Lily's fault that without James and Sirius and Remus, Peter didn't really know who he was anymore. And it wasn't that they took him for granted – it was that they accepted he would be unconditionally loyal, because that's what one expects of a friend. And he took that trust and spat on it, and there can be no excuse for it.
He realizes that in one terrible miscalculation, he ruined his entire life and that of anyone who ever cared about him. It is his fate to live with it now, to try to save his own life that he condemned his own soul for.
His own life, his own pursuit of whatever power he can find in this world, is all that he has left. His pride, his friends, his humanity – they are all gone.
It wasn't just the Potters, he realizes, that died this night.
Nymphadora Tonks has nightmares.
She dreams of blood and prison, of Dementors that afflict Sirius Black. She stubbornly refuses to believe that Uncle Sirius, as she calls him, is a traitor. She cries for him shut behind Azkaban walls, as her parents foolishly disclosed to her, unaware of the effect that these words would have on her. She cannot believe that Sirius, who took her on his motorbike and played games with her for as long as she wanted, is a murderer. She can't. In her world, kindness and handsomeness walk side by side with nobility. She cannot imagine him doing anything so bad as betraying his friends.
In her mind, she has to believe that Sirius is good, because if he isn't, then she is wrong for caring about him. For her, it is that simple. Because she loves him, he is good.
Once, her mother loses control one night after Nymphadora wakes up screaming about Dementors and losing one's soul, and says, in a harsh, hurt, broken voice, that Sirius does not deserve any of her sympathy, and they both cry together.
By all accounts, she should be considered lucky. The family that loves her and accepts her has escaped mostly unscathed, yet she cannot force herself to forget the hidden tragedies underneath the surface of her life. The names of the haunted float to her mind when she least expects them to: Sirius, Bellatrix, and that of Regulus, the fallen angel.
"I still can't believe it's all over," one of her friends muses to her when eating dinner together one day. "Comparatively, you know, we're lucky."
Andromeda thinks of piercing gray eyes and black hair, of exuberant laughter and uncontrollable passions. She thinks of the triumvirate that fell far too early. She doesn't say anything, but just nods and looks down at her plate.
If this is lucky, I'd hate to know what unlucky feels like, she thinks to herself, and a chill rises up her spine.
Every day is still a miracle to Arthur and Molly Weasley. Every day, when the sun rises, it is a small wonder. In the morning, there is the realization that they are alive, shortly followed by the remembrance that the war is over.
Every day they rise from their bed to go about their normal duties, it is a blessing. They know that they are not wealthy, that compared to others, they do not have much, but they have each other. They are intact.
And at night, when they lie in bed, encircled by each others' arms and making love, they are aware of the serendipitous turn of events that have led them here, to each other. Every night, when they sleep together, hands clasped, they understand the sheer unlikelihood of survival in a hostile world.
They never forget, even as the years go by.