a / n; Written for the Hogwarts Online prompt boats. I've had bits of this written for weeks, but personally, I think someone should shoot me for writing the last two sections, but other than that I'm content with this. Oh, and the title is stolen from Wilfred Owen's poem of the same name. Enjoy.
edit; 30 January 2011 at 5:23pm for typos.
dulce et decorum est
they're the ash the phoenix left behind
They only ever find bits of him—a handful of broken molars, a pinky joint, jagged fragments of his left femur. He's all dust and char and they scoop him up and tie him in a little cloth sack, present him to his mother on his nineteenth birthday ('so very young,' the minister says, 'and brave beyond his years') with an Order of Merlin first class.
His mum screams and wails and makes a real scene out of it, sobbing 'Benjy!' and 'my boy!' while her husband clutches her shoulder and the cameras snap away, and all she can think of (between the flashbulbs and the minister shaking her hand solemnly) is the shape of his face; his hair; his eyes—how he must have melted like the birthday candles he'll never have when the curse hit him, how he must have felt his skin boiling away one second and nothing the next.
All she can think of is how it doesn't matter if her son's a hero because he's still dead.
There's not any closure to it. He just disappears one night, is snatched right out of the floo network and is never seen again, and his wife is left still setting down two dinner plates and fending off questions and clutching at the jagged edges of their lives.
But they've been married thirty years and she's felt him enough to know this waterlogged feeling in her bones means he's dead, and even if she doesn't know where, she's sure of it.
(and one day, there's a man and a boat and a lake the color of crystal green and he can see the faces swirling in the water that look suspiciously like his treacherous friends and kidnapped men and doc dearborn—he screams)
She feels it in her bones.
They contact her family on a Thursday—three a.m., the sort of thing that can't be anything else.
"What happened?" It's the first thing out of her daughter's mouth and she's already tearing up, because this is war and her mother's been drafting wills for weeks.
They're careful not to look her in the eye when they tell her ('from what we know, she went down fighting. you should be proud. the ministry offers its condolences'). They aren't given much training in death, but they know it's not something you want to look in the face, and her daughter's is the sort that threatens to split their hearts and heads wide open.
She shuts the door in their faces and sobs.
They make the front page of The Daily Prophet, which is something, really, because in the midst of all this murder, victims are lucky to get an obituary that's more than a name and number.
The picture is a row of caskets—five; one each for Edgar and Elaine and their three children—John; Madeline; Abigail. His older sister stands like a statue to the side, clutching her sides and shooing anyone that approaches her. His twin—and all the focus is on him, because he's like a ghost swathed in grief and black and it's ohsounsettling—Edwin, holds his wife and infant, and cries like he'll never be whole.
And nobody bothers to contradict it because they know it would just be a lie.
gideon and fabian prewett
There's a dented watch in her hand—Fabian's.
Her cheeks are red and her eyes are puffy and Arthur is in another room with the boys—her boys who are so alive and who her brothers adored and who are far too young to understand the implications of the Ministry's owl.
Molly sighs and holds the watch up to her ear.
It's still ticking. And if she closes her eyes and holds her breath she can imagine Fabian's smile and the sound of his heart, and how Gideon's was precisely the same.
She knows she'll give it away.
When the McKinnon's are gone, it's all of them.
And there's no one to notify except for maybe their friends, but even then they don't waste the usual sympathies because their tired eyes and set jaws and heavy hearts say they knew this was coming and even if they weren't wanting it, they're not going to cry over it either.
lily and james potter
And the whole world cheers.