/AU. Massively AU and the darkest, most depressing thing I've ever written. Written for two reasons: to write something sad, and to write an AU. I believe I succeeded in both respects.\

Survivor

"Isn't it ironic that I'm the only one left?" Sirius whispered.

"Survivor, you all used to call me," he added, smiling bitterly. "Never thought it would be this literal."

The leaves rustled gently, a few falling on him, trying to comfort him. Sirius leaned against the gravestone, taking leveled breaths. He ran his fingers over the carved words, tears stinging his eyes.

R E M U S JOHN L U P I N
MARCH 10TH, 1960 – JUNE 18TH, 1996

every man dies – not every man lives.

"He lived all right," added Sirius, feeling every word, every letter, carved himself, with the smallest trace of blood where he'd accidentally cut his hand on the carving knife. "Lived 'till the end, didn't you, Moony?"

A flower fell from high above, into his outstretched palm.

Sirius smiled roughly. "Dying for me was quite enough..." He sighed deeply. "Wished you hadn't bothered, though," he added quietly. "You had too much to live for...I was just..a...a dog, an outcast of a dog, wasn't I?"

An acorn fell rudely on his head.

He chuckled. "Can't believe you did it," he said quietly. "Jumping in front of a curse..you didn't even know what it could do. It was Bellatrix, after all. I was being stupid, wasn't I? Making fun of her. Only made her angrier, didn't it? And she was out-and-out furious when you decided to be a heroic idiot. She spun right around and killed the first person she saw..and... "

He choked and succumbed to the tears that had been eating at him forever.

A few minutes – maybe it was an hour – maybe it was a lifetime – time was nothing anymore – Sirius Black wiped his tears away and took a heaving breath, before getting limply to his feet, walking a few paces, and collapsing once more against a gravestone.

RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY

MARCH 1ST, 1980 – JUNE 18TH, 1996

death cannot stop true love; it can only delay it for a little while.

Hermione had chosen the last words, and she'd read from The Princess Bride in shaking words at his funeral. It was her favorite, she had said, and above all, the only book she'd ever convinced him to read. He'd loved Inigo Montoya, she'd said.

She had only managed a few pages before breaking down, throwing her book across the graveyard, and sobbing until her mother had quietly led her away.

"Ron," he said quietly. "She killed Ron...out of pure anger, of course." He let out a stream of rather rude words, all directed at Bellatrix. "Ron..he was just sixteen..he had so much to live for..he was going to take his NEWTs, he was going to marry Hermione, he was going to save the world with Harry.

"Of course, it killed Hermione. She loved him – remember our bet, Moony?" He smiled vaguely and sighed deeply before reaching into his pocket and taking out eight Galleons. He reached over and dropped them on Remus's grave. "What was it you said? 'Of course they fancy each other, but they'll never admit it. He'd die first.'" He let out a strangled sob. "You were so right. She screamed – when she saw him she screamed so loudly – I'll never forget the way she screamed..remember Lene, you guys? Remember my Leney, ole Marlene, my partner in crime, fellow Beater..I loved her, didn't I? I loved her and she died. D'you guys remember my scream, at her funeral? I didn't even cry, for Merlin's sake, I screamed." He choked on his own air, thinking about Marlene. "It was like that. And that was..that was a bit too much for one night, wasn't it?

"That was when Fudge came in. They got rid of him, too – no great loss. His last word was how."

There was a pattering of falling leaves. Almost like bitter, ironic laughter. Or perhaps it was only signaling fall. No one knew.

"Mm-hm – all through this, of course, I was absolutely no help to anything – I was just blindly chasing Bellatrix, trying to avenge you, Moons. Hermione was beautiful, perfect, using her anger as fuel, wiping out everyone in her path, all while just crying, like a character in one of her books."

The wind whistled. It might've been shaping the word Harry?. Or it might've been warning the survivor for a storm soon to come. It was a mystery.

"Harry..he was..a bit of a mess, wasn't he. Moony and Ron at once, y'know, it killed him. He was all over the place, blindly throwing curses at anyone who'd take them.." Sirius choked once more. "That was a mistake. He got – he got Neville.."

Sirius stood up abruptly and walked, brisker than before, to another grave, a few over.

NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM

JULY 30TH, 1980 – JUNE 18TH, 1996

even in death, he is triumphant.

"He k-killed the pink boy..that was when he fell apart, collapsed on the ground – just started screaming, it was – it was – " He couldn't find words. "He wanted to die. He was screaming, 'kill me, I want to die.' That was when D-Dumbledore came in. Rather late, of course, but he came in all the same. Did some fancy stuff – I was blind, I was, with pain, at this point, a useless heap on the ground..he got Snake Face out of there, saved Harry, explained me away to the Ministry..only Dumbledore, y'know?"

He stopped again, catching his breath, wondering if it was worth it, pining away his life in a graveyard in Godric's Hollow, talking to the dead.

"But what else do I have to do?" he said quietly. "Everyone I cared about – everything's gone, everything's dead."

The same whistle of wind came. Harry?

Sirius laughed, angrily, bitterly. "He's gone too. Dumbledore as well. Both gone years ago. Killed Voldemort, of course, it was spectacular. Calling him 'Riddle.' He figured it all out, see. Died for a bit, said he saw Dumbledore, there was this whole thing with an Elder Wand...but I'll tell you about Dumbledore first, I s'pose.."

He walked, more brisk than ever, towards Dumbledore's grave – perhaps he was powering up before powering down.

ALBUS PERCIVAL WULFRIC BRIAN DUMBLEDORE

JULY 19TH, 1881 – JUNE 16TH, 1997.

the bravest wizard of all time

"He wasn't, 'course," said Sirius practically. "Harry was..everything that happened..turned out that he was quite matey with Grindewald, Dumbledore, not nearly as clean as people thought he was, seriously dark – and Snape, Snape killed him and it was awful but Snape – he loved Lily, see...don't kill anyone up there, James..and then – " For a long while – the survivor didn't count time as a dimension anymore, you see – he explained everything Harry explained to him, about Snape's double-triple-double-agent act, Elder Wands and dying and King's Cross and things that could fill several books. At least one. "Pettigrew's in jail," he added, almost as an afterthought. "Rat."

"And now Harry," he said quietly. "He was never the same – he had me and Hermione and what was left of the Weasleys, that was about it. He was never the same after Ron, after Neville. Oh yeah, he had the Lovegood girl...stuck by him all the way, it was 'mazin..she loved Neville, though. But she's strong, that girl – the strangest are, aren't they?"

He moved a few stones down.

"The strangest are the strongest and the strongest are the bravest," he read. He chuckled. "And the bravest are the first to go."

LUNA LOVEGOOD

MAY 1ST, 1981 – JULY 2ND, 1998

the strangest are the strongest

and the strongest are the bravest

"Yeah, she was the bravest," Sirius said quietly. "Dunno why she wasn't in Gryffindor, honestly."

He sighed and laid his head down on the gravestone behind hers, between one for Lily Potter and another for James Potter.

HARRY JAMES POTTER

JULY 31ST, 1980 – JULY 8TH, 1998

he lived until he died

"I'm very tired," he murmured. From here, he could see Remus's stone again. "But I suppose I should finish the story..a story, is it now? The story of them..

"Luna and Harry. The last two. Harry finished off Voldemort, it was rather wonderful..and then he disappeared. The entire wizarding world was frantic, we went mad...and Luna figured out where he was. Not Ginny, the love of his life, not Hermione, his best friend since Ron, not me. Luna. No one knew where he was or what happened back there but he came back after two weeks with Luna and he was perfectly fine, except for exhaustion. He went back to normal. We all went back to normal, slowly.. it was long and it was hard and there were some days that I swear I could not bring myself to get out of bed because the pain was too much, because I couldn't live in a world without you, Remus, or James or even Pettigrew before..everything. But we did. We kind of held each other up and limped along, mending each others broken parts..and we made it pretty well, between Hermione and Ginny and Harry and Luna and the Weasleys and me...

"It seemed we were going to get a happy ending after a bit passed, y'know. Harry married Ginny. It was wonderful. Hermione dated around a bit...Seamus Finnegan, Dean Thomas...no one was right for her. She was all right with that, once she..let go. She bought three cats and wrote books and joined the Ministry and was wildly succesful. Harry was living with me, then he and Ginny moved to their own place, in Godric's Hollow. I got out of Grimmauld, moved a bit closer to them. The Weasleys and Lovegoods moved nearer to us, too, and Hermione. We all stuck it out, and everything was all right, in the end.

"July second, nineteen ninety eight," he said slowly, reaching once more for Luna's grave and letting the care and love of the words bleed into his hands. Ginny, Harry, and Hermione had carved it together. "That was when, basically, the world ended." He didn't speak for a long time after that.

"Death Eater attack," he said finally. "We got rid of them in the end, landed them all in jail, it was spectacular.. James, I wish you were there...we were too late, though..we're always too late, aren't we? We always manage it, but it's never when it needs to get done. They killed Luna, and it was horrible. They forcefed her a potion, see, just tipped it down her throat, and it left her on the ground, not dead but not alive, dying slowly, letting the pain of every wound she'd ever received hurt a little more, every pang of guilt magnify by ten thousand, every emotional scar bleed. Shewas crying..first time I ever saw her cry. And when it was over and they were all dead and or or gone..then she made the loveliest speech."

flashback

"No, Luna," whispered Hermione, clinging to the girl, nothing less than a sister.

"Please," whispered Harry, even closer to her.

"Don't leave us," wailed Ginny, hiccuping.

"Don't leave us," Sirius echoed, more softly, because he was used to it now and he knew that no matter what Luna was going to die. He couldn't feel anything right now, except vague tinges of anger. Everything was being taken away from him. Why should Luna be any different?

Luna looked around, eyes wide as ever, and she smiled. "It's time to sleep now," she said, as matter of factly as Luna Lovegood can ever get. "Yes. Time to sleep, time to go. I love you all, y'know, even if I didn't show it much." She yawned, curling into a little ball. "It doesn't even hurt anymore," she murmured, stretching out and smiling even wider. "All the hurt is gone, now. Time to see Neville. Time to go to Neville." She looked around, smiling dreamily. "Neville needs me. Goodbye, everyone..tell Daddy I love him."

And she died.

end flashback

"It was like a Shakespeare play," said Sirius hollowly. "No big scene, just a quiet speech and then she died. And then, six days later, Ginny woke up sleeping next to just a body. Harry died – it was of grief, and I don't care that's impossible, we know it was because of grief. He loved Luna, not like he loved Ginny but like a sister. And after Luna died, that drove everything in deeper. Ron, Neville, Moony..everyone – and then Luna, who knew exactly how he felt, somehow..that was too much. He died out of grief, and I think I know why. If he hadn't died right then he would've killed himself and he had too much dignity – too much pride – to do that."

It began to rain, not gentle patterings of water but a full fledged storm, the kind of storm that falls to hide tears, but Sirius had none left. He loped over a few more gravestones and fell once more, leaning against Remus's.

"I'm done here," he said softly. "It'll be a record, it will. Two deaths of pure grief..I can't hang on any longer, though."

He smiled. "Time to see you all again," he said quietly.

It took him hours to die, but he didn't mind. He had a lot to think about.

"I think," he decided, in the end, "I led a good life. Not a very honourable death, of course, but sometimes–" He yawned.

How very tired he was..

"Sometimes, it's the rest who have to die bravely. It's people like Neville and you and Ron and Dumbledore and Luna and Harry who died to let me die in peace. I s'pose I wasn't meant to go out with a bang." He yawned again.

Any moment, now.

"Sometimes," he murmured, dropping onto a small collection of leaves that had mysteriously gathered, using them as a pillow, "sometimes..people die to clear the board for peace.

"And sometimes," he added, giving one last yawn, giving one last smile, one last loss about to hit the world, "sometimes people die because they can't hold on any longer."

The sun broke out and Sirius Black died.

end


A/N: Okay. Yeah. Saddest thing I've ever written.

BUT! It's my THIRTIETH STORY! - balloons -