A NOTE ON CANON: I've stated this before in a fic, but I think this is a good place to have it again. Canon, for me, only includes what is written in the books.

For the Marauder Challenge on HPFC.

The time is: Summer

The genres are: Tragedy and Family

Words to use: red and brown

800+ words


"No Words"

It's summer when his world runs red. For the first time in his life, James just doesn't know what to do at all, and so he does the only thing that feels right. He buries his head in his arms, pulling his knees up to his chest, and he lets the tears run down his face. It isn't right. It isn't fair. They don't speak. James and his father, they don't speak. They don't know what to say. It's one of those moments where there are no words, because it was just so sudden.

He doesn't even know how to sort out everything as the emotions compete for attention. Sorrow, guilt, pain, anguish, confusion, hopelessness, shock.

"What do we do now?" he whispers to his father, his voice rough with pain. He wants an answer that will fix this – he wants his dad to say that everything is okay. He wants her to be okay, but he knows better. Magic can't fix this. Magic did this.

His father slides down the wall next to him, wrapping an arm around James' curled shoulders. "We take it one day at a time, Jamesie. We live."

And as James looks up at his father, he can't even find it in himself to care that his eyes are wet with tears. "I don't know how to do that, Dad. Not without her."

His father squeezes his shoulders. "I know. Me neither. But we'll learn."

James closes his eyes, resting his head on his knees. "I don't want to learn," he murmurs.

"Neither do I," his father agrees. James feels his own shoulders shake with renewed sobs.

"It isn't fair," he says stubbornly. And it isn't. It isn't fair that she had to be the one in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he fully expects his father to answer with, Life isn't fair, James. He doesn't.

"No. It's not."

And James cries until there are no tears left, because he doesn't know how to do this, and all he wants is to turn back time.


The whole world is shades of black and brown and grey – robes and mud and clouds. It seems appropriate, some part of James muses, because the world should be bleak today. Because she's gone, and she was always the vibrancy in everything.

He doesn't bother with an Impervius Charm – it seems more right without it, in a way. It's not logical, he knows, but James has never much cared for logic anyway. He lets the rain pour over him, sticking his dark hair to his scalp, blurring the world as light refracts through the droplets clinging to his glasses. His robes weigh a million pounds and the once-black hem is now a muddy brown, but James neither notices nor cares. He's only aware of a few things – a casket, a mound of mud, Sirius' arm around his shoulder, and the presence of Remus and Peter at his other side. He can't tell if it's tears or rain that tumble down his face.

Sirius doesn't say anything, and James is grateful for that. He doesn't apologize, like so many do – it's pointless. He doesn't try to tell James that it will all be okay – because it won't, and they know that. He simply curls an arm around James' shoulder in a silent way of saying, I'm here. Because that's what James really needs to know right now.

And when the man from the Ministry is done speaking, James steps forward, because maybe the first shovelful of dirt is a stupid Muggle tradition, but he needs this. He's certain now that at least some part of the wetness on his face is tears, but he can't bring himself to care. He lodges the shovel into the pile and lifts, filling the shovel with mud, and the mud mingles with tears and rain to cover the box that holds what's left of the woman who the universe doesn't seem to understand that he needs in his life, because otherwise Fate wouldn't have been so cruel as to take her away, would they?

"Bye, Mum," he whispers. He lays down the empty shovel with too-careful precision and blows her a kiss, before he turns and starts to walk. He doesn't know where he's walking to, and he doesn't know why, but all he knows is that standing still just might kill him right now – and that's not even a joke, because that would just be in bad taste. James laughs at his thoughts, but it's humorless and bitter.

He doesn't see Sirius exchange a look with his father, and he's not alert enough to his surroundings to hear the footsteps following his until he slips in the mud and falls, landing on his knees and winding up stomach-down in the mud. Sirius sits down beside him, strands of long, wet hair blowing across his face.

"Don't they understand?" James asks wearily, not really expecting Sirius to have the answer. "Doesn't whoever is out there understand that I need her?"

Sirius shrugs. "They don't much seem to care, mate."

James rolls over, staring at the cloudy sky. Sirius breathes deeply before flopping down next to him.

And, once again, there are no words right or necessary.