There is a wall, in 12 Grimmauld Place, which displays the dead.
It had started in Harry's never fulfilled seventh year, in the time he, Ron and Hermione had spent there before the debacle at the Ministry. Sorting through a box of Sirius' old things, he'd found photos of his parents and his godfather; letters, notes and pieces of their lives. There was a newspaper clipping from the Daily Prophet detailing James and Lily's engagement, an official looking piece of parchment that told of Sirius' acceptance into the Auror program, a photo of them standing with Remus and Peter outside Godric's Hollow grinning proudly at the camera. Harry had spent hours pouring through the contents of the box, through what was, to him, undiscovered and priceless treasure and when he had reached the bottom and looked up to see their lives strewn across chairs and floorboards, he couldn't bear to shut them up again. It didn't seem right, that so much life and love should be constrained by cardboard.
So, he'd found a blank wall in a disused room, one with large windows and plenty of light and he'd put up their photos and their clippings, their achievements and their lives. Arranged them haphazardly on the wall, with a view of the clear blue sky and he'd stood for a moment, looking at their faces, and wished again that they were here.
In time, he'd shown Ron and Hermione and Hermione had suggested adding some photos of Professor Dumbledore and Ron had mentioned Mad Eye and it had seemed right. Hermione had done some research and found a photo of Moody before he'd become so grizzled, clippings of Dumbledore old and young, teacher and defeater of Grindlewald and up they went.
Privately, Harry had searched for a clip of Cedric and when he'd found the article Rita Skeeter had written just before the Triwizard Tournament, he'd cut out the photo, trying to ignore the bile that still rose in his throat at his memories of that time, and added it to the wall. Next to his parents, unable still to shake the memory of them together, coming out of Voldemort's wand.
When they'd found out about all that Regulus had done, Harry had slipped away to find a photo and placed him on the wall. He'd put him between his brother and Professor Dumbledore, adding the Horcrux note that Sirius would so have approved of. Deceiving the Dark Lord himself. It was only fair that he stood between these two: the brother he had ultimately stood with and the man whose sacrifice he had unwittingly become entangled in.
After that, though, it had taken a long time before Harry returned to Grimmauld Place and when he had, when everything was over, it was with the weight of so many deaths, so many lives destined to be shut up in cardboard boxes, that he couldn't face it. Couldn't add their lives to the wall because to do so would make it too real, too permanent. He'd known that it was all real, had known and accepted their deaths even then, but it was just too soon. He couldn't do it. Not yet.
He'd avoided the wall then, for months after the final battle, avoided Grimmauld Place altogether for a while until, one day, he'd found himself climbing the stairs with Ginny, taking her to see his parents. She'd stood silently for a long time, looking at their faces and their lives, before squeezing his hand and softly telling him to 'wait there.' She'd returned shortly with a clutch of photos and papers in one hand and George in the other.
They'd put Fred below Sirius and Harry's parents, filling a space with images of his laughing face, documentation of their many pranks and inventions – a photo of their celebrated Hogwarts swamp, the box for one of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, a newspaper ad for toilet seats. George added half of a set of extendable ears, partner to the one he'd lost.
"I know he's looking after it for me," he'd said, with the slightest hint of the old George and by the time the three of them were done, they were smiling through their tears.
A life lived, thought Harry. Not just dead and in a box.
He'd come back the next day, with Ginny and Ron and Hermione and they'd put up the rest. Remus and Tonks, near Sirius, tired but happy; Dobby, proudly looking back at them from his own space on the wall; Severus Snape, just below a photo of Lily by herself. Harry had been about to place Colin Creevey, so small and so strong, on the wall when Ginny had laid her hand on his wrist.
"You....well, maybe Dennis would like to do it? Like George?"
And so they came. Dennis brought photos of Colin, from ones he'd taken of himself when he'd first got his camera, lopsided and grinning excitedly, to ones Dennis had taken of his brother towards the end, his face filled with a different kind of energy, grim and nervous.
Andromeda stood with Teddy in her arms, to place Ted Tonks next to his daughter, to add photos of the four of them before their world disintegrated. Dora's school photos, a picture of Ted on their wedding day, a photo of Remus and Tonks, heavily pregnant, as they stood at a window in the twilight, caught unaware in a lost moment. Over the years, Harry would bring Teddy back regularly, would stand with his godson's hand in his and tell him of his parents, of his family. As he grew older, he'd come there alone and sit in front of the wall, staring at them, the lives he'd never know.
Molly added Fabian and Gideon when she came, setting them near her son, a trio of grinning redheads, ever young, ever laughing. She'd choked, half laughing, half crying, when she'd seen the picture of the toilet seat.
"Oh, Fred," she'd murmured, tracing her fingertips lightly over his face. "Oh, George," with a different note of sorrow as she'd seen the ear and the photos of the two of them, from childhood until the end, too soon, too soon. "Oh, my boys."
Neville came one day, bringing his grandmother, still strong despite her age, and placed his parents on a spare patch of the wall. They still breathed in St. Mungos but, as Neville explained to Harry, "I realised long ago that whatever remains of them there now, they," and he gestured to the strong, vibrant couple in the photos, "died long ago. I don't want their lives to be forgotten, lost in the way they are now." Harry hadn't needed any more of an explanation. There were, after all, different ways to shut people up in a box. Still, next to the pictures of his Mum, Neville had left a few brightly coloured lolly wrappers. For the life that remained.
Luna, when she'd visited, had walked along the wall slowly, greeting its occupants like the friends they were, leaning in close to hold soft one-sided conversations with Colin and Fred, to tell Professor Snape about her recent discovery concerning the potions properties of the Crumple Horned Snorkack, to explain to Neville's parents how proud they should be. As she'd left, she'd stopped and told Harry he should get Dean to paint something, to 'bring them all together' and Harry had found himself looking Dean up the next day, explaining his ideas. Dean had come then, to have a look, staring at the pieces of so many lives and eventually, he'd turned to Harry and nodded.
"There's enough of them here to make it work."
Slowly then, one by one, he'd painted them onto the wall, moving wizarding portraits of every single one of them in between the evidence of their lives and their deaths. They didn't speak, but roamed around the wall, congregating in different groups, laughing, dancing, fading in and out of the various aspects of scenery Dean had painted – Hogwarts, the Ministry, Godric's Hollow, the Burrow, the Forbidden Forest. They were only paintings, only moving pigment, but Dean painted them all as they were, rendered them free, depicted them alive. He'd been painting the portraits for the Memorial at Hogwarts around the same time and as he'd explained to Harry, while those were more elegant, more masterful, they were also more limited, capturing the poignancy and the sorrow in a rectangle. They only remembered the death and the sacrifice but this, this felt more like painting their lives. It was hard, at the Memorial, to remember anything other than their loss. Not here.
Even Professor McGonagall had come, in time, bringing with her bits and pieces of all their lives. She had, after all, known them all and lost them all. She'd placed fragments of so many more from the first war, casualties Harry hadn't even heard of or knew only as names, and had stood before them all, remembering their lives and their deaths. She'd stood for the longest time before the solitary photo of Severus Snape that Harry had been able to find, her face inscrutable, before reaching down and adding what she had: his appointment as Slytherin Head of House, as Headmaster, an old transfiguration assignment he'd worked on with Lily. The boy and the man.
In time, it seemed, word of the wall spread – how, Harry didn't know, for they hardly ever spoke of it and only amongst themselves, preferring to let the images and memories do what words could not. Still, at least one person outside their circle appeared to have heard of it, because Harry received a box in the mail one day, filled with pieces of the life of Severus Snape. His certificate of Mastery in Potions, his Slytherin badge, letters written in his dark flowing hand, potions recipes and photos of the man as Harry had never seen him. There was no signature to the parcel, just a note that read, in elegant script beneath a tiny Malfoy crest:
He was boxed in for his entire life. At least in death, let him be seen.
Harry added some of it to the wall, photographs and achievements, but had hesitated over some of the letters and more private memories. Snape had been, after all, a very private man and Harry didn't think he'd appreciate being put on display quite so much.
Eventually, he'd sent most of it back to Draco, with a note that simply said:
He is seen. I don't think he'd wish to be stared at. Keep these. His life won't be forgotten here. Not by me.
Inevitably, as the years went by, the first of the survivors, as Harry called them in his mind, lost the battle with death and passed away. It seemed only natural that they be placed on the wall, that their story be told, their life remembered. It became tradition then and although Harry eventually moved out of Grimmauld Place, a house that carried far too many ghosts to be the home from which he wove the strands of his own life, he kept the wall, enlarging the room as needed. With the help of Bill and Hermione, he'd created a ward on the door that allowed certain people to enter without a key whenever they wanted to and made sure that all those who needed to, could.
Life went on and time carved its mark on them all and, slowly, the faces adorning the wall grew in number until it was the children of the DA who maintained it, adding pieces of their parents' lives to the story of a world they'd only really heard about. James and Teddy and Al kept the wards strong, accessible to those who knew it was there and it was Lily who painted new faces into the landscape Dean had created, adding her parents to the portraits of so many others.
Eventually there were no more to add. Teddy Lupin was the final addition, the last child of Voldemort's war, joining the family he'd had in life and the one he'd always yearned for. It became something of a legend among the children and grandchildren of its occupants, a far cry from the boxes death had placed them in so very long ago. A memorial to those who had lived through the mad dreams of a deranged wizard, those who had suffered and persevered and fought and died, but had never, ever, stopped living.
There is a wall, in Grimmauld Place, which displays the dead and all that they lived.