Upon request to remove all kinds of songlyrics from the fics, I changed this fic. Obviously, as it is and basically remains a songfic, it makes more sense if it's read with the songlyrics. A complete post can be found at my yahoo-group, for those who are interested. I'll put it in the files section.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the Harry Potter Universe. It all belongs to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros. or somebody else who is not me. No money is being made by this.
It was a quiet and peaceful late summer afternoon in England. The sun was already low in the sky, but still provided enough warmth for the inhabitants of Godric's Hollow to leave their houses without a coat. The small settlement in Wales lay peacefully awaiting the night, the only sound around was provided by small flocks of birds which circled over the trees and basked in the sun for what would probably be the last time. Soon, the birds would start their travel southwards, heading for the warmth, while Great Britain would surrender to the coldness of winter.
A man slowly entered the small graveyard near Godric's Hollow. He was at the end of his fifties, maybe even in the middle of his sixties. It was hard tell by looking at him, the lines in his face and his nearly completely grey hair, specked only with some small strands of sandy brown, hinted at an older age, but his unnaturally amber eyes, though dull and blank at the moment, gave any viewer the feeling that somewhere behind the aged face a small youthful part was still buried, unused for a long time but nevertheless still there. The man wore plain grey robes that nearly dusted across the floor as he stepped through the gates of the graveyard. He walked slowly, carefully even, as if his entire body was hurting, but still without using a stick to lean on.
Slowly he made his way past the rows of graves. He seemed to know where he was heading to but made no haste, instead he gazed at the various tombstones he passed, from time to time he stopped and closed his eyes, enjoying the afternoon sunlight shining onto his face. His pace was determined, but his bearing showed hesitancy, as if arriving at his destination would imply arriving at a destination of his mind's travel, a destination he seemingly didn't want to reach.
After some minutes, he stopped in front of one of the graves and a smile tucked at the corners of his lips as his eyes wandered over the inscription. It was the genuine smile, one that was given when meeting old friends between whom there had nothing remained unsettled. Some quick and whispered words were spoken and he lay down one of the small bouquets of flowers he carried in his hands. With a last glance and smile at the grave, the man slowly turned away from it. His steps grew more hesitant, slowing down the journey and postponing the arrival for as long as it was possible.
Eventually, the aged man stopped at another tombstone, not far away from the first he had halted at. This grave was positioned in a quiet part of the graveyard, under a birch on a small hill. The man brushed off some leaves that had come to rest on the tombstone, then let his hand rest on it as if he was waiting for something to happen.
Some long minutes passed in silent greeting until the man removed his hand from the tombstone, stood in front of the grave and looked at it, a shy smile playing around the corners of his mouth.
"It's been a long time, I know. But I simply could not come earlier, I just could not.
The last time I came here was the day of the funeral…and…well, you know what happened. I'm sure you saw it. I know that twenty-five years is a long time, but I just could not come earlier. I could not. I'm sorry. Don't think any less of me because of that, just because I could not come here doesn't mean I didn't want to, didn't try to. I told myself that I feared I might break down again like I did back then, but that's not true. I know now that I've been in denial. For twenty-five years, I've denied that it's real, I've denied that you're truly dead. This here," the man gestured around the graveyard and at the tombstone with his arm, "this here is the cruel reality, and coming here means accepting it with all the pain that comes along.
As long as I'm at home, I can pretend that you'll come through the door any minute, that you'll send an owl tomorrow or that you'll fall out of the fireplace when it's dinner-time. That one day you'll come home.
By coming here I have to accept that you'll never come again. That you'll never again be home for dinner. Never. It's a thought that rips my heart apart, that's why I couldn't do it for so long.
Gosh Sirius, it was never enough for you, was it? You were one of three wizards that managed to become animagi at the age of fifteen, without a competent supervisor. You still hold the record for most detentions at Hogwarts, Filch still keeps your file as a reference work. You were one of the best Aurors the Ministry ever had. You were even the first wizard ever to break out of Azkaban. There were so many 'first times' you managed, so many records you held, but that simply wasn't enough for you, was it? No, you had to be the last wizard killed by the Death Eaters, you simply had to, am I not right? That was the icing on the cake of your records, the final touch needed to burn your memory into every history book.
I still don't understand why all this had to happen, why it had to happen to you.
It was already over Sirius, Voldemort had fallen hours ago, the battle was nearly over. There were only few of the Death Eaters left and the hit-team wizards were at them, it was already over. And then came this Killing Curse, still nobody knows who cast it. But someone did and you stood in the way.
Ironic, isn't it, that it had to end that way? Not while saving somebody's life, not while battling Voldemort, not while battling anybody in fact. It happened while cleaning up the mess he had left, just because you stood in the way of a Death Eater's final moment of struggle against the inevitable. Just because you stood in the wrong place at the wrong time, just because we all didn't pay attention for a moment and didn't see it coming. I've always thought that one day your devotion to your beliefs would make you a target, or that one of your reckless schemes would fail, but never had I thought that you would die that way. Never.
I still see it in my dreams, you know? I had disarmed Rosier and had just finished binding him when I looked up. They say that time slows down in such moments and it's true. The flash of green light coming seemingly out of nowhere was slowed down so that I could grasp every gruesome detail of what happened. I guess the moment I saw it I realized what was happening, I just knew that there was no way to block it. As clearly as if it had happened yesterday I can see your astonished face and then you hit the floor, right in front of me. Unmoving, not breathing, eyes open – dead.
I could not believe it, couldn't understand it. I shook you, I yelled at you, I begged you to get up again and tell me that it was one of your more tasteless pranks, but you didn't react. There is this muggle saying that in the last moments before your death your whole life flashes by in front of your inner eye, I don't know if that's true. But I do know that when you didn't react, suddenly I started to remember things about which I had not thought in ages. Small memories from our time at school which I had long forgotten about. We were so young and carefree, never thinking that any harm might befall us. Even as Voldemort started to rise for the first time, as the first people we knew and later even James' parents got killed in the fight against him, all the time we didn't believe that death might hit us too one day. After all, we were young, full of hopes and dreams, because the whole future was still in front of us we were invincible. Immortal. That was what I kept thinking about, and yet you were lying there in front of me and just didn't listen to me as I told you this. I told you that you could not die, that Sirius Black could not die just then, not like that. I cradled you in my arms and kept on telling you that you could not be dead, that it was against all reason for you to be dead, but you didn't listen to me. You hardly ever listened to me in the past, but that day I prayed you would do, just for once, listen to me and see that I was right. But you didn't.
I don't know what happened then, I remember voices trying to talk to me, hands trying to take me away from you, telling me that you were dead. I told them that it wasn't right, that you just could not be dead, but they wouldn't listen either. They must have sedated me and taken me away to St. Mungo's.
I remember that I woke up in a bed there two days later, and Harry sat by my side. I looked at him and didn't need to ask whether it had just been a nightmare, his face told me the truth.
I lived the nightmare."
Remus Lupin shook his head and looked away into the distance, the frustration and anger about all that happened more than two decades ago slowly leaving his body. He took in the silent beauty of the old graveyard which made it difficult not to let go of his inner turmoil. This visit was the last piece he needed to puzzle his inner peace together again after so many long years.
"It's beautiful here. So quiet and peaceful, as if the world around didn't exist. The war is long over now, but still most people have those haunted look in their eyes, you know. Just as if the next Dark Lord was not far away. I think the memory of his reign will haunt our generation forever.
But it's over. It's over and we've been part of it. We've helped in getting this threat away from our world, that's something great Sirius. Something great. We've stood to our beliefs, we fought for them even when it seemed hopeless that we could ever win. We never faltered, never gave in to the temptation of just letting go, stopping to fight and accept that we lost. Isn't that what we were taught was the right thing to do? Isn't that what we always wanted to achieve? A better world for our children to live in, a place where you don't have to fear that everything is taken from you in the blink of an eye?
We've reached what we had been fighting for, reached it after so many years. Everything was supposed to make sense then, but to me it didn't. It still doesn't.
Why can't I be happy about what we achieved? Why can't I be glad that now I don't have to worry anymore what tomorrow will bring? Why Sirius, why?"
Drawing his eyes away from the sunset that lightened the horizon, Remus looked on the grave in front of him once more and then remembered the second bunch of flowers he held in his hand. With a smile he stiffly bent down and lay them onto the earth.
"They're from your garden. I've been keeping the house after you were gone, I just couldn't imagine selling it to somebody else. It's been your house, nobody who has nothing to do should ever live in it and soil your memory by changing the home you made of it. Many times I have asked myself if this was the right decision, there were days when I hardly dared to look around the rooms. Everything in there reminds me of you, every room, every piece of furniture, every picture, every plant in the garden.
But I think in the end that was exactly why I kept the house, painful as it might have been at times. I was afraid that there would be nothing left to remind me of you, nothing I could grasp, nothing I could hold on to. Just like Harry has hardly anything that reminds him of his parents. I was afraid that with nothing solid that reminded me of you, I'd start forgetting you, Sirius. Childish, I know, but I couldn't help it. I needed something to remind me that Sirius Black really existed and that all those memories I have about him are real and not some quirks my aging mind came up with. So I kept your house and I still live there."
"You know, it's taken me some time after I woke up in the hospital. Reality hit me like a sledgehammer, and truth be told I don't know how I got through the first weeks. Most of the time, the nurses kept me sedated, and even in those short periods when I was awake I didn't fare much better. During the first days, I was hardly lucid, kept on rambling that you were not dead, that any moment you'd come through the door. Harry told me afterwards that the doctors feared I had gone insane.
It didn't get better when I stopped telling that you were still alive. I saw no reason to go on with life, not with all the people around me dying. I've lost so many friends during the war, so many people I loved or cared for. James and Lily were first and so many had to follow. Charlie Weasley, Mundungus Fletcher, Mad Eye Moody, Hagrid, McGonagall and most of all you.
In the end it was Albus who forced me out of my depression and self-pity again. Not that much of a surprise, eh? He's always been the fortress in all this turmoil and he knows me better than I probably like. That man sometimes is downright scary, just as if he could read my mind. He simply took me back to Hogwarts, gave me the Defence job again and you know what? It worked. I had something to distract me, I realized that there were still things worth living for. My world didn't change from one day to the next, but slowly I saw a purpose in my life again.
I've taught at Hogwarts for nineteen years, until it became too much for me. I'm an old man now, Sirius. It feels weird, I always thought that you and James would be living longer than me. That one day you would have to come to my funeral, not the other way around."
Remus sighed deeply.
It took long moments before Remus started speaking again.
"Three months ago I've visited Peter in prison. I know what you would say when you hear this, but I had my reasons.
He has been in Azkaban since he got caught, but Azkaban is not the same place anymore that you knew. The Ministry had the Dementors removed as soon as Voldemort fell and they never called them back. Nobody has to go through their torture anymore, though some imprisoned there would have earned it. No, to be honest, nobody has earned them, nobody. Especially not you, not for twelve years, not while being innocent. The fact that there was once a time when I thought different about it, a time when I wished you even worse than the Dementors' torture still weighs heavily on me. It's a guilt I'll never get rid of, no matter how often you told me otherwise. But that's not what I was trying to tell you now.
I had to see Peter because I wanted to know how much of the Peter I knew was still left in him. I needed to understand how he could have done this to us, betrayed us all those years ago and kept up that betrayal until the very last moment of Voldemort's reign.
It might not surprise you, but the man in Azkaban no longer is the Peter we knew. I still don't know how Voldemort broke him, how he corrupted him, but he did a good job. He no is longer Peter the Marauder, he is Wormtail the traitor and he will stay that for the rest of his life.
He didn't ask me for forgiveness, he knew that I could never forgive him.
He didn't ask me to understand what I could never understand.
He simply asked me to listen and I did. He told me his story, his view on what he had done. He tried to tell me how he felt about it all, but it didn't take long before I had to leave. He still cannot understand the impact of what he has done, he cannot understand the extend of his treason.
I felt disgusted and I left. I will never go back there. But I had to know, I had to make sure that there is nothing left of my former friend in this man.
I had to make sure that it's only me left now."
Remus' gaze unfocussed and for some long minutes, he just stood there on the small hill, hands in the pockets of his robes and the light breeze waving through his grey hair. The sun was already low in the sky, colouring the horizon in a deep crimson colour that stood in sharp contrast with the blue sky above. Not changing his pose, Remus started to speak again after some time, his voice still sad but firm and with more strength than during the last minutes.
"Harry has come back four years ago. After you died he went away from the wizarding world. It hurt him too much, he had simply lost too much during Voldemort's reign. Too many he loved, all the family he ever had, his parents and you. Your death hit him hard, though he did his best to hide how much he hurt. His whole life in the wizarding world was one of loss, no matter how many happy moments he lived through they were all overshadowed by war and death circling around him.
James' and Lily's death robbed him of a crucial part of his life, but he was too young to understand it then. He never really knew them, could never really miss them. But he knew you, Sirius. He knew you and he loved you, your death robbed him of the only family he had ever known.
The two of you had too little time together. Three years before he graduated, but then you only saw each other during the holidays. And then two and a half years before you died. It was not enough time for him, not enough time for both of you. Your death left him with a huge part of his life missing, and he just could not heal those wounds in an environment where everything reminded him of it. You can't mourn a loss when everybody around you is celebrating the victory whose price this loss was.
Harry desperately needed a place where he was safe from his past, a place where people didn't recognize him as the Boy Who Lived or The Man Who Defeated Voldemort. There were only few people with whom he kept in contact, in fact only the Weasleys, Hermione and me. We were the only ones who understood why he needed to go away. The rest he left behind.
He studied at a muggle university and became a lawyer, he lived like that for more than fifteen years and it was the best for him. He's a man now, a man I know you would be proud of. Harry has finally found his place in the world, his purpose to live. A purpose more appealing and far more important than to defeat Voldemort, something that is really worth living for.
He's married now Sirius, to a beautiful muggle woman named Sarah. They're married for thirteen years now and they are still happy together. They remind me of Molly and Arthur from time to time, two people who are only whole when they're together. You would love her, there are some moments when she shows the same weird humour that you have…had.
Harry once told me that he would have never been able to marry a witch, he said he would have never been sure what she saw in him. The everlasting Boy Who Lived or the person behind it. With Sarah, he never needed to question if she loved him or his fame, she only knew one of the sides.
He told Sarah that he was a wizard before they got married and she took it quite well. At least better than your dad, from what you told me. Took her some time to accept it, but by now she's used to being surrounded by magic and takes full advantage of it. You won't believe how good Harry has become with cleaning charms.
They have three children, two girls and a boy. Sondra, Julia and Anthony Lewis. They carry their mother's name because Harry didn't want to burden them with his name. Being named Potter still makes people stare at you, even after more than two decades and Harry didn't want his kids to go through all that he went through when he was at Hogwarts. No Colin Creevys for them.
Four years ago Harry came back to the wizarding world, he started working for the Ministry and he and the family moved into your house. It has never seen better times. I didn't even realize it, but I've made it a Sirius Black memorial, I didn't move or remove anything you brought in there. And now, it's filled with children and laughter, books and toys, you wouldn't recognize it. It still is your house, but now it's truly lived in, life has returned to the Black Lair.
Sondra started at Hogwarts last year and Julia will follow next summer. Believe me, Julia and Andrew really have the talent to become the next Marauders. Harry even encourages their mischievous streaks, can you believe what I go through every day?
They only have mischief in their heads and mostly it's their 'grandpa' who has to suffer from it.
Yes, you heard right, Harry's children call me grandpa. Sondra started with it years ago and there was nothing that I could do about it. I have to admit, I rather like it. Though I still think it had to be James or you who should be called that. But some things that are right simply were not meant to be."
Remus watched the tombstone for a long time and said nothing. Tears dwelled up in his eyes and suddenly he sank to his knees and started sobbing heavily into his hands.
"Merlin Sirius, it still hurts so much. It hurts so much, there are no words to describe it. Since you are gone I feel so empty inside, as if somebody had torn away a piece of me from inside. As if some important part of me was missing.
I thought that it would get better if I only gave it time, that it would heal one day, but now it's been twenty-five years since I last saw you and it still hurts just as much.
It makes me want to shout at the world because it's just so unfair that it had to be you, but all the while I know that no matter what I do I can't change it. I can't change that life is unfair, that you're gone, I can't change that it still hurts and probably will never stop hurting for as long as I live."
Remus stretched out his hand and gently caressed the inscription of the tombstone. A small smile spread across his face as he looked at it.
Beloved father and brother
"You know that a lot of people have wondered what that inscription means? Sirius Black never had children, and neither did he ever have any siblings.
Harry and I have been thinking a lot what should be written on your tombstone. We came up with enough for a whole graveyard, there are just too many ways to describe you. But we could only think of one way that expressed what we really felt, deep inside. To Harry you were the only father-figure he ever had. And to me you were closer than any brother could ever be."
Remus sighed deeply and stretched his aching back.
"You know Sirius, this will be the last time that I come here. But it won't be too long until we meet again.
Full moon has been nearly two weeks ago and today is the first day that I could leave the house on my own. The transformations become more and more difficult and painful and the last one nearly killed me.
We all knew that the curse would claim me before my time.
I can very well imagine how you'd be fretting about me if you were here, how you would be hovering around me, searching for any sign of uneasiness. And I know that you would scold me thoroughly for leaving the house if you had seen my state after the last transformation. But I just had to come here one more time before I go, I had to say goodbye. And I couldn't do it earlier, I didn't have the courage to accept the fact that you are dead, to fully acknowledge it in my mind. Oh, I've known it for a long time, but I've never really accepted it. I've believed that it would do if I just stopped thinking about it.
But now that I know I won't be here for much longer, maybe not even past the next moon, I had to say my final goodbye. So don't be too upset with me for straining my health like this, I really needed to come here once while I still can.
Last week Harry came to talk to me. I didn't know that you've told him about the promise we once made, long ago, when we still were at Hogwarts. The promise that when the transformations would become too much for me, when I one day would die at full moon, that you would be there. You and James.
I know that you didn't have much time with Harry, but you certainly had your influence on him. He's just as stubborn as you.
He said that from now on he would be with me at every full moon, he would try to make it easier for me and in case…well, in case that I would not make it, he would take care of my body.
Harry has been fighting for werewolf rights ever since he came back to the Ministry. But things don't change that fast.
Last week Harry has promised me that he will never let the Ministry allow to take my body, he knows exactly what the Ministry Regulations say about the dealings with lycanthrope corpses. I tried to talk him out of it, the Wolfsbane Potion has improved a lot over the years but I still don't trust myself. And Harry isn't even an animagus. But he wouldn't hear of it, he declared that he would do for me what you and James no longer could and he allowed no discussions. He promised to stay with me until the end and then to burn my body. So don't worry about me, he's taking care that your promise won't be broken."
The tears still flowed down Remus' cheeks but he didn't seem to realize them anymore. Instead, a small smile crept across his face.
"I can imagine you quite well. You and James, he hardly twenty years old and you at the end of you thirties, sitting together and planning the next mischief. Lily somewhere in the background, still as beautiful as ever, scolding the two of you with sparkling eyes that betray her inner laughter.
How do I fit into that picture? I'm nearly sixty now, I'm an old man and no longer the youthful prankster I used to be."
Again, Remus sighed deeply.
"You know what I miss most, Sirius? Not your face, I can still see it when I close my eyes. Neither your voice, I can hear it laugh or talk to me. In fact, I hear it every night when I lie in bed and think about the past.
I miss having you close to me.
You, sitting on the sofa next to me, fallen asleep over a book or report, your eyes closed and your head fallen to the side.
I miss you punching my arm as an encouragement, saying 'Come on Moony, we won't get caught'.
I miss you taking care of me after each full moon, telling me that the wounds would heal, that the pain would go away.
But mostly I miss you taking me into your arms when once again it all became too much for me to bear. Just holding me, letting me cry at your shoulder, whenever I needed it, even if I dropped by in the middle of the night.
I miss you holding me, telling me that you remain my friend no matter what I become once a month.
You always told me that I was strong because I dealt so well with my curse. The truth is, I would not have been able to had you not been strong for me when I had no strength left. That's what is lacking most since you are gone, somebody beside me who knows when I can't be strong, who then gives me his own strength to feed from. Silently, without being asked for it, without demanding anything in return. You've always been the stronger of us, you only never realized it. And I never had the chance to tell you.
You made me believe that I'm human, Sirius. You made me a better man, you always believed in me. You gave me the feeling that somebody was there for me, no matter what happened. You taught me what it means to have a friend, and to be a friend in return. And that's what I miss.
God, Sirius it hurts so much. I need to have you back again, it hurts too much without you."
Remus' sobbing became harder again and for some long minutes he simply knelt in front of his friend's grave and cried heavily. After a while, the sobbing became less and Remus slowly got to his feet again.
"It's getting dark Sirius, I'll have to leave now."
He slowly bent down and gently placed a kiss on top of the tombstone.
"I'll be with you soon, I hope you wait for me when I arrive.
You've been the best friend a man can have and I don't know what I earned your friendship with. But I'm glad I've had it. More than glad. I love you Sirius, I can't wait to see you again."
He gave his friend's grave one last look and then slowly made his way back to the exit of the graveyard. Once again he stopped in front of James' and Lily's grave and smiled.
Then he left.