And If Thou Wilt
~ dedicated to one we have lost ~
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet
And if thou wilt, remember
And if thou wilt, forget
The smooth coverlet of snow crunched softly under his boots, leaving tiny shards of frost around each light footprint. His tracks were as straight as if they'd been drawn by a ruler, leading back to the distant village now blotted out by the light snowfall. Around him, looking like they were cloaked in white powder, lay heavy granite tombstones, the names engraved on them faded and worn and often illegible. Harry ignored them all save for a cursory glance - his mind was occupied with other things.
My parent's graves. I've always known they existed, but I never wanted to see them. But this is something I have to do.The wind gusted hard, carrying snowflakes into his face, but he didn't bother to brush them away, leaving them to melt and run down his cheeks like icy tears. I still don't want to see them. I'd rather believe my parents were alive somewhere, still watching me, somehow. I'd rather believe it was all a horrible mistake and they've been resting or hiding or recovering or something. If I visit their graves I'll know they're dead.
He stepped around a huge monolith that lay sadly on its side. This was an unloved, wild graveyard, full of enormous cenotaphs declaring that so-and-so would be sadly missed - but nowhere were there fresh flowers or even cared-for tombstones. Only the weeds gave any colour to the snow. Harry wished his parents had been buried anywhere else.
What will I feel, when I see them? What will they be like? Will I be able togo through with this? I wish I hadn't come, but I know I have to.
He threaded his way through the graves, his light cloak clutched around him as protection against the rising wind. He knew exactly where he was going, somehow, despite never having been there before: something in his bones called to him, guiding his steps, guarding his path. Not far now... He felt somehow as if this was to be the most important moment of his life. Only a few weeks ago he'd graduated from Hogwarts, and he'd felt important that day. Only a few months ago had been the final showdown with Voldemort - his mind skipped away from the memories. But none of that seemed important, now that he was walking through the silent, solemn cemetery where the bones of his parents lay. The snow that obliterated his tracks seemed fitting, somehow, as if he was walking away from the past and all that lay there, into the blank and perfect whiteness of the future.
His breath came out in curlicues of gentle mist as he approached the graves of Lily and James Potter. Unlike the arrogant, icy monuments around them, this was a simple double headstone, engraved with their names, the dates, and the message "Be at peace." Although the writing was plain and worn - he wondered briefly who had paid for the funeral - the weeds had been cut away from the stone, and the blanket of snow was smooth and unruffled. Beneath the headstone was a clear glass vase containing a handful of crimson and white flowers. Someone came here often.
He knelt in the snow, feeling it crunch around his knees, and brushed his shaking fingers across the lettering, feeling as if that simple movement brought him closer to his parents. He wondered if they were watching him now. Around him the soft snowflakes continued falling, a calm, soothing cover. He cleared his throat.
"It's taken me a while to get here," he began, the sound of his voice deadened by the snow and the silent, waiting tombstones all around him. He swallowed. "I'm glad I came, though. You know... all my life I've dreamed of you, of you being here for me like the Weasleys or Hermione's parents. I used to sit in class and dream of the house we lived in, the style of clothes you liked, the sound of your footsteps on the stairs. I built a world for myself in my imagination, a world where you were alive.
"I always knew in my head that it couldn't happen, that I'd never see you or speak to you or know you. But knowing in my head ... it isn't the same as believing it. I wished so desperately for you that I could convince myself of anything. That day, in third-year, at the lake - I honestly believed I saw my father. Even years later, I still think I'll spot you rounding a corner ahead of me or wandering down the street... I never could accept that it wouldn't happen. I couldn't accept that you were dead."
Harry paused, brushing the mist away from his eyes. He took a moment to brush the snow from the tombstone. "Being here... I guess I'm finally realising the truth. I can't keep on hoping, I can't keep on wishing. It's eating me up inside, until I can't think of anything else. Seeing these stones... I think I finally believe now. I have to. I have to let you go." He bowed his head. "I came to say goodbye."
The snow thickened as he knelt, one hand on the granite headstone, his light cloak flapping in the rising wind. Memories and dreams flowed through his head: all the things he'd ever wished for, all the things he'd wished he could share with his parents, all the imaginary memories he'd lived so many times in his head. "You were so young," he whispered, and he thought of all the things they'd never had a chance to do.
Slowly he opened his hands, and let the imaginary memories float away into the snowstorm like so many brightly-coloured ribbons, dissolving into the quiet snow over the graves where his parents lay. Inside him, a terrible weight lifted slowly, leaving a hole in his heart filled with sorrow. "I have to let you go. I have to live my life now. I'll always remember you, Mum, Dad, but I have to let you go."
Harry stood up, his throat constricted. He bent and placed a single, perfect white lily beneath the headstone. Goodbye. I never had a chance to say that to them before.
Brushing the icy tears off his frozen eyelashes, he turned away and walked steadily home through the snow.
A/N: How does Weaver deal with any stress in her life? Turns to HP stories, of course. This is dedicated to the memory of a friend who left us without giving us a chance to say goodbye.
Disclaimer: No, Harry is not mine. Nor are Lily, James, the Weasleys, the Grangers, or anyone else I mentioned. The graveyard belongs to me, and so do the weeds. I think I'll keep the flowers, too. ;p