Harry stood at the entrance to a small Muggle cemetery, his hand resting lightly on the cast iron gate that separated the church yard from the street. After a moment's hesitation, he pushed it open and entered the graveyard. Inside his head a war was raging between his aversion to cemeteries in general after his experiences in Little Hangleton two years previously and his desire to pay his respects to those he considered his dead.
He'd been here once before, earlier in the summer, right after Bill and Fleur's wedding. At that time, Ron and Hermione had been with him. Today, though, he had told them—insisted rather—that he needed to be alone.
"You're sure you don't want us to come with you, mate?" Ron had asked Harry two hours earlier as he had packed a bag with his lunch and Invisibility Cloak.
"No, thanks," he had said, turning away from the concerned expression on his friend's face. "This won't take but a couple of hours. I'll be back mid-afternoon at the latest."
Hermione had given him a quick hug inquiring, "You remember the charm?"
Ron had winked at Harry as he said, "Yes, Hermione. It isn't a spell he'll be likely to forget."
"No, Hermione, I've committed it to memory. Thanks for your help in finding it," Harry had said pulling away. He hefted his bag onto his shoulder and began his walk to the cemetery. "See you later."
Harry opened the gate. He could feel their support even now as he trudged up a hill past the quaint stone church toward his destination. He wasn't surprised to see so many people here today; after all, it was a Muggle day of observance.
He reached the top of the hill and looked around. There weren't many graves up here, at least at first glance. The entire area appeared to be empty except for a marble bench surrounding the trunk of a large oak tree. It was rather beautiful and quite peaceful up here. Harry sat down and watched the people below him laying flowers on the graves of their dead. The breeze carried snippets of their conversations to his ears.
"Great Uncle Robert fought in the Great War, Janie."
"Great-Grandmum still has the flag that was draped over great-great-grandfather's coffin."
"No. We're a little early..."
"Mummy, why aren't there any headstones on top of that hill like they are over there?"
Harry's ears pricked up at that question and he smiled as the child's mother replied, "I don't know, Billy. Goodness knows they've tried to dig up there, but for some reason nobody can."
"Is it haunted?"
"What makes you say that?"
"Miles said his big brother told him they used to behead people under that tree and the ghosts of the dead don't want anybody bothering them."
"Miles' brother has too big an imagination, Billy. Come on. Let's find Grandfather's grave."
Harry knew the real reason the Muggles couldn't put graves on top of the hill. He slipped his wand out of his pocket and whispered the Revealing Charm Hermione had been so concerned about. As he pocketed his wand, the air on the hilltop shimmered a little, revealing the gravestones that populated the area and prevented the Muggles from digging under the tree. Harry knelt beside a plain rectangular marker and brushed the dead leaves and grass away from its base to reveal the single name and date chiselled in the granite:
This was the reason he'd come to Godric's Hollow today. When he and Ron and Hermione had first visited this cemetery back in August, he had vowed to come back on Remembrance Day, not to remember those who fought in the Muggle Great War or World War II or the Falkland Islands or even the Persian Gulf War; no, Remembrance Day for Harry was about remembering those who had fought in the war against Voldemort. Today he was honouring his parents, the fallen members of the Order of the Phoenix and the innocent wizards and witches who had been slaughtered by Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Harry glanced at his watch as the church bells began to toll. The Muggles were marking two minutes of silence in respect of their fallen war heroes. Tradition called for it at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month to commemorate the cease-fire and surrender of the Germans to the Allies in 1918. The community of Godric's Hollow must have added the tolling of the church bells sometime in the past.
He stood up and bowed his head, listening intently. Memories began flooding his mind. He saw Sirius astride Buckbeak and sitting by the fire as Padfoot at Grimmauld Place. Cedric Diggery came to mind next as had looked when he and Harry had entered the Triwizard maze together. He remembered the photo Mad-eye Moody had shown him two summers ago at headquarters of the first members of the Order and wondered if Mrs. Weasley was taking a moment to remember her brothers who had been in the picture. Harry's throat constricted as memories of Albus Dumbledore crossed his mind. There were so many of them it was hard to separate the really early memories from those that had come later. However, the memories of the nights the two had spent together during his sixth year going over other people's recollections and their discussions afterwards stood out the most. How honoured Harry had felt when Dumbledore had trusted him enough to bring him along on the search for the locket Horcrux. He would do anything in his power to reverse the last events of that night, anything to bring his mentor back. The hole in his heart that had been Professor Dumbledore threatened to overwhelm him for a minute or two.
"I'll find and destroy every last one of those Horcruxes, sir," Harry murmured. "I promise…even if it takes me the rest of my life to find them and rid the world of Voldemort."
Then there was Emmeline Vance. Harry had seen her only once, when she had been part of the advanced guard which rescued him from the Dursleys the summer before fifth year. Madam Bones, a witch he remembered only as part of the Wizengamot at his hearing, came to mind next, followed by Bertha Jorkins and Frank Brice who were but mere wisps of memory coming from Voldemort's wand in the Little Hangleton graveyard. The bells clanged one last time and silence again settled over the hilltop graves. Harry shook his head and breathed deeply knowing that it had been right for him to come here today.
"I'm back, Mum and Dad," he said to their headstone, "and I've brought something with me to keep you company." He dug into his bag and pulled out a small block of granite. The words "Sirius Black 1996" were carved into one side. He dug a small hole at the base of his parents' headstone and set the new marker in it. "I know Sirius' body isn't here to occupy any space, but I…I…" He faltered, the memory of Sirius falling through the veil filling his heart with grief. "I wanted him to have a proper marker," he said at last. He sighed as a great weight seemed to lift from his shoulders: Sirius now had a final resting place, somewhere for people to come to and remember him. He, Harry, now had a modicum of closure for this part of his life.
Harry sat back on his heels and looked at the headstones. He wished he could have added a bigger gravestone to his parents' plot for Sirius, but he hadn't dared do so. He didn't know who besides himself would come here and he couldn't take the chance that someone would find it funny to deface his godfather's headstone. He'd just have to be satisfied with the place he'd created for Sirius' memory.
Harry stayed on the hilltop a while longer trying to imagine how different his life would be if his parents had lived. He hadn't indulged in this particular pass-time for a several years and somehow he felt it was all right to pursue these thoughts while sitting by their grave. Finally, with a small sigh, he gathered up his things and pulled out his wand. As he began his walk back to where Ron and Hermione were waiting for him at their campsite, he murmured, "Finite Incantatem," and the magically concealed graves shimmered out of existence once more.
A/N: Thank you Aggiebell for the quick beta on this little story. You're always so accommodating and willing to whip my stories into shape. You're suggestions make me a better writer.