Summary: Harry visits the graves of lost love ones only to find himself in the process.
Pairing: Harry/Remus, past mentioning of Sirius/Remus, Harry/Ron/Hermione
Rating: PG-13 for language
Notes: For sahiya (as part of the dearsanta fic exchange), who asked for sweet Harry/Remus. This was the first piece of HP fanfic that I've ever posted for public eyes. It was written last November, I believe. I'm very leery of writing Marauders, so I'd love feedback in that respect.
v. healed, heal•ing, heals
1. To restore to health or soundness; cure.
2. To set right; repair: healed the rift between us.
3. To restore (a person) to spiritual wholeness.
Stoatshead Hill stood just north of Ottery St. Catchpole, the large mass of earth protruding from the ground as though it were some sort of beacon.
In the days following the conclusion of the War, it had become one.
Not so long ago the hill had been nothing more than just that - a volume of minerals and dirt jutting convexly out of land packed down and covered with grass and dotted with rabbit warrens. It had held no particular importance. It had been just an ordinary hill. Now, though, this was not the case.
With the great loss of life that had occurred in the War, wizarding cemeteries had quickly filled up. The Ministry of Magic, or what was left of it, had been forced to look for new areas to transform into places of eternal rest. They had purchased land near Little Hangleton and Stoke on Brent to lay fallen witches and wizards down. When it became apparent that some of Voldemort's remaining followers took to looting the graves of War heroes for trophies, the Ministry had decided to move the bodies of some of the more important wizards and witches to a site that would remain unknown to the public.
Stoatshead Hill became this secret funerary ground. Guarded by heavy privacy wards, it became a sanctuary for families who had lost relatives to the fight against Voldemort and his followers. On any given day, representatives from families including the Boneses, the Smiths, the Lis, the Fawcetts, et cetera could be found grieving at the grave of their loved ones.
On only one day each year, on the anniversary of the deaths of the people who had been his family even though the same blood did not run in their veins, did Harry Potter set foot on Stoatshead Hill.
With a grim look on his face, his mouth set in a line that never threatened to upturn anymore; he shrugged his shoulders, the cowl of his cloak pressing closer to his face. A heavy gust of wind blew past, and he reached a sallow hand, tiny flecks of ink splattered all over the tips of his fingers contrasting sharply with the pale skin, out to draw the robe against his wiry frame. The motion was reflexive, as were most of the motions he went through these days, an automatic response to the invasion of air that he consciously knew was cold. Ever since he had lost them, life had become somewhat meaningless for him. He didn't feel anymore. He didn't feel anything. Harry's body was nothing more than an empty vessel, a vessel that he often wished desperately would finally shatter one day into a thousand pieces so miniscule that no matter how loud an incantation of Reparo was uttered, he would never again be whole.
There was only one person left alive that could elicit a tiny flicker somewhere deep within him, somewhere within the depths of that unfeeling vessel. And because of this, Harry took pains to keep this person out of his life. That traitorous hitch in his chest that he had experienced one year ago exactly today at the very sight of the person who embodied everything that had once been good in his life had caused him to cut the other from his life, his heart, his mind. Being around that other person was dangerous. Being in that presence made him want to just be, to feel, to let himself go.
And this was very, very dangerous. Harry knew that.
Harry also knew that Remus Lupin would be at Stoatshead Hill that day. He knew this and yet he still made his annual trek.
He couldn't not go, after all. To deliberately skip this yearly anniversary would be an injustice to those who had sacrificed their lives in order to help him save hundreds of thousands of others. No, he would not refrain from going. He owed it to them all. He owed it to Ron and Hermione to take that seemingly never-ending walk up that hill that would lead him down the long row of headstones until he came upon theirs. They had been buried together, Ron and Hermione, and seeing those names together on that one slab of granite always made his stomach lurch. By all rights, he should be there too. He should be sharing that grave with them, with his family, with his lovers. He should be resting there between them as he had so many times before piled together in the warmth of Hermione's bed holding onto one another and trading secrets that they had always vowed to take to the grave.
But he wasn't. He wasn't in the ground. He wasn't dead…technically. On the inside he nearly was, save for that one minute part of him that just might ache from time to time if he allowed it.
Averting his eyes, Harry studied the way his feet hit the ground as he walked past headstones bearing the names of people with whom he had gone to school, people under whom he had studied, people whom he had read about in The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler. Smith . . . Moody . . . Branstone . . . Longbottom . . . Quirke . . . Davis . . . Snape . . . Bagman . . . The heels of his feet would meet the ground first, then the rest would curl down to kiss the moist ground and leave once more only to then repeat the motion over and over again. When the War had started, he and Ron and Hermione had read up on as many different offence tactics as they could uncover. Although Ron had thought it silly at first when Hermione suggested they walk this way to cut down on the sound, it had proven to be an effective means of stalking up on unsuspecting enemies. Times were no longer as bad as they had once been but old habits died hard, much like everything else in Harry's life. Thus, he still walked like that, like he was sneaking up on something or someone.
And perhaps today he was.
He was growing nearer now. The headstones were becoming less and less impressive as he continued on, decorative carvings and tall blocks of granite giving way to smaller and simpler gravestones. Slowing down considerably, he began to count backwards under his breath as he neared his destination.
"Eleven . . . ten . . . nine . . . eight . . . seven . . ."
His breath was coming out slowly, the exhalation visible in the cold air. He paid no attention to it.
Hermione spinning around in the Head Girl's room, her face radiant, showing off the dress robes she had bought for the upcoming Winter Solstice Dance for him and Ron. . . Ron pulling him into a tight hug right there on the quidditch pitch after beating Slytherin for the final Quidditch cup match of their career at Hogwarts . . .
A number for each year he had known them.
"Six . . . five . . . four . . ."
Blood began to pound in his ears.
The first time he took hold of both their hands, when they had gone to 12 Grimmauld to claim some of Sirius's belongings. . . Hermione and Ron arguing, her face screwed up in anger as she tells him that he has the emotional range of a teaspoon. . . Hermione revealing the trapped Rita Skeeter in that glass jar. . .
"Three . . . two . . . one . . ."
The three of them in the Shrieking Shack watching Remus and Sirius reunite . . . Visiting a petrified Hermione in the hospital wing with Ron . . . He and Ron rescuing Hermione from the troll. . .
A number for each year he had loved them.
The sound of rubber soles squeaking against the damp grass as he turned toward Harry became overpowered by the gusting wind. A knowing look on his face, he merely nodded as Harry came to rest next to him. They were standing close to one another but not too close. There was a small about of room between their broad shoulders.
"Oy! Leave room for the Holy Ghost, why don't you!" Ron had joked, watching Harry hold onto Hermione as she taught him how to dance during sixth year.
Harry cringed at the memory. Fuck the Holy Ghost, he thought bitterly. Fuck the lot of them.
It was not a greeting. It was not even an inquiry as to how he was or what he had been doing since they had last seen one another. It was just there. Just Harry.
Just Remus. Not Professor. Not Lupin. Not Moony. Just Remus.
Just Remus and Just Harry.
Just the two of them.
"You look like shite."
The corner of Harry's mouth twitched. He didn't dare look out of the corner of his eye at the other man. Instead, he stared straight ahead, his eyes moving slowly over each letter carved in the small, humble headstone.
"I know." Finally. His own voice sounded foreign in his ears. It had been so long since he had spoken aloud. He honestly could not remember the last time he had uttered a word. Words were meaningless. They didn't help anything.
-D E-D-W-I-N W-E-A-S-
"So," Harry repeated, eyes still tracing those letters.
-L-E-Y H-E-R-M-I-O-N-E E-L-I-Z-A-
"It's been a while."
"Yeah." Detached. Not looking at him. Straight ahead.
"I've been thinking about you, Harry."
I've been thinking about you as well, Remus. "You shouldn't." Hard.
"And why shouldn't I?!"
Harry gritted his teeth, trying not to let Remus know how he was affecting him. But Hermione and Ron would have known. Oh, how they would have known. But they were no more. They were no more and the volumes that made up the complex collection known as Harry James Potter would have been rendered obsolete were it not for the man standing beside him.
The question came again. "Why shouldn't I?"
"You shouldn't," Harry said after a long pause, his words hanging in the air like a fat cloud ready to burst and purge itself, cleansing the earth in the process, "because it isn't worth it."
Ronald Edwin Weasley Hermione Elizabeth Granger with the space between their names large enough to fit H-
"Who are you to tell me what is and isn't worth 'it'?"
The response came out in an angry hiss and it made the small hairs on the back of Harry's neck stand up. Still he did not shift his gaze. His eyes were beginning to cross now, the reflection of the sun glinting off of the mica and quartz embedded in the granite hurting his eyes. Silent he stayed.
Ronald Edwin Weasley Hermione Elizabeth Granger with the space between their names large enough to fit H-A-R-R-Y J-A-M-
A hand reached out and clamped down hard on his forearm. "Answer me."
Only the howl of the wind replied.
Ronald Edwin Weasley Hermione Elizabeth Granger with the space between their names large enough to fit H-A-R-R-Y J-A-M-E-S P-O-T-T-E-R
"Goddamn you, Harry!" The words were accompanied by a rough shake of his forearm and something inside Harry snapped.
"Yes," Harry spat, seeing red as he pivoted wildly toward Remus. "He did. He already did, Remus, so you don't have to ask for it to happen. It did. I've been damned! I've been damned and I don't GIVE a damn anymore!"
"Bollocks." The response was flat, an automatic dismissal of Harry's proclamation. "You still give a damn, Harry. Oh yes you do. You give a damn or you wouldn't be here today. And don't -" he said, holding up a hand in a halting gesture, "- tell me you're only here out of a sense of duty or obligation or guilt. Now you look at me."
Jerking his arm violently in an attempt to free himself from Remus's grasp, Harry still did not look at him and therefore failed to notice the look of absolute anguish on the other man's face.
"Let me go!" cried Harry, panting so much out of exertion that his exhalations were being pushed out of his lungs and through his nostrils so fiercely that Remus was tempted to liken him to a whistling tea kettle.
"No!" Remus bellowed, rattling the younger man's forearm again. "Not until you look me in the eye and answer my question!"
Two syllables. That was all they were. Ugly. Implosive. Rolled off the tongue easily. Too easily. Automatically. Had Hermione still been alive and heard Harry James Potter say that revolting little phrase, she would have gasped. Coming from Ron she would have expected such vulgarity - it was part of his nature to say things prior to actually thinking about them and whom they may or not offend. Coming from Harry she would have been gob-smacked. Although it was true that during his late teen years he became prone to fits of rage and chest-thumping, Harry seldom took it upon himself to use such base language and in those rare occasions when he let a foul word fly it was never as harsh as 'fuck'.
But she wasn't still alive to hear him say 'fuck you'. Neither was Ron. Hermione and Ron were gone and Harry would say 'fuck you' if he wanted or even if he didn't want to just to prove that he could still do something. He hadn't been able to stop Bellatrix Lestrange from killing Sirius and he hadn't been able to stop Peter Pettigrew and Lucius Malfoy and that sodding Avery bloke from killing Ron and Hermione but, by Merlin, Harry James Potter, The Boy Who Lived, could still say 'fuck you'. That was about the only thing he could still do.
The word 'you' had barely moved past his lips when felt a firm slap across his cheek. His head snapped to the side and the ache had just begun to sit in when Remus let go of his arm in favour of grasping Harry's shoulders with both hands, shaking him and putting his face mere centimetres away from Harry.
"No." Less stubbornly this time.
"Look." A harder shake.
"Look." Calmly, exhaustion starting to set in.
This time Harry did not say no.
This time Harry did not say yes.
This time Harry said nothing at all, save for slowly raising his eyes to meet Remus's for a fraction of a second before the flicker down in the recesses of that vessel sputtered once and then burst, shooting dancing flames up and out and spreading to every corner of that long-seemingly hollow chasm and Harry choked once and then . . . he cried.
Harry James Potter, whose name was not between those of Ronald Edwin Weasley and Hermione Elizabeth Granger on the headstone near his feet, cried.
He cried for Lily, for James, for Cedric, for Sirius, for Tonks, for Neville, for Zacharias, for Orla, for the Weasleys, for Tonks, for his Ron and his Hermione, for Tom Riddle, for Remus who knew pain as surely as Harry himself did. He cried for them all. He cried for every last one of them and his tears saturated the shoulder of Remus's cloak as he buried his face against the broad mass there, against the cloak that had once belonged to his godfather. Hands that had only moments ago been shaking Harry's shoulders now slid down over the shoulder blades and in toward that concave space between them, Remus's hands joining one another there, pulling Harry's frame closer to his own. Remus heard quiet words of reassurance being whispered over and over to the sobbing man in his arms and it took him a beat to realize that the voice was his own.
"S--sorry," croaked Harry, his voice shaky and a bit muffled. "I didn't-- I shouldn't have--" Trying to disentangle himself from Remus, Harry looked up at him and met his hazel eyes full on for the first time in a year. There was no looking away this time. No matter how badly he may have wanted to break the gaze, Harry did not do it. He could not do it.
"No sorries," Remus said evenly, tightening his grip on Harry just so. "They don't help anything."
Swallowing hard, Harry nodded and gave up trying to break away from Remus. He supposed that he had been trying to get away because it seemed like he should. Already within the span of five minutes in Remus's company he had experienced more physical contact and conversation than he likely had in the twelve months that had passed since their last meeting. He should resent Remus for that. The Harry of six minutes ago would have definitely done so. The Harry of this moment wasn't so sure that was a good idea. This Harry had long since forgotten what it was like when you had a fire within you. He had grown accustomed to the spark having gone out, to the spark not being able to catch and flicker and eventually ignite.
But now that he remembered, this Harry was not certain that he would like to forget again. For the moment, this Harry almost thought himself to be alive . . . and being alive was good.
Leaning back on his heels, his back pressed into the arms Remus has wrapped around him. The ex-Marauder's arms felt comforting and safe, two things Harry hadn't experienced in quite some time. It was nice and it made him not want to move out of the other man's embrace. Those arms were steadying him in every sense of the word and if he let go Harry wasn't sure he'd be able to remain in one piece.
A wry smile on his face, Harry noted how funny it was that just a few minutes ago he'd been wishing for something to break him into so many pieces that he wouldn't be able to be put back together again and now he wanted to be whole.
He wanted to be whole desperately. He wanted to repair the rift he had caused between Remus and himself.
He wanted to know how Remus J. Lupin was capable of causing Harry J. Potter to negate all of the feelings and vows and curses he had grown used to having and wanting within the span of mere moments.
"What is that?" asked Remus suddenly, breaking Harry's train of thought.
Taken aback, Harry looked at him feeling a bit uncertainty and guarded. "What do you mean?" he returned haltingly, his stomach turning, the smile beginning to waver.
"That," Remus responded simply, removing one arm from around Harry's frame and bringing his hand up to brush at the corner of his mouth.
"This?" he whispered, exhaling slowly.
"Yes, this." With that, Remus brushed the tip of one finger along Harry's lower lip, corner to corner, tracing the slight curve. "I can't remember the last time I've seen one of these on your face."
An involuntary tremor shot through Harry's body, some sort of electric warmth starting in the tender flesh of his lip where Remus's finger had brushed and reaching out to every last fibre of his being. "I can't either," Harry admitted, lids fluttering shut, feeling the smile on his face broadening.
Electric. Sparking. Crackling. Alive.
"I feel so alive."
The words were out there before he even realized that he had said them and he found that he didn't regret at all that he'd said it when Remus's hand moved to cup the side of his face for a moment and then slowly glide down the column of his neck. His hands were broad, wide across the palm, and long. Long and elegant fingers, fingers that Harry imagined could have played a piano just beautifully like Hermione's did, slid beneath the collar of his shirt and brushed along the curve where his neck and shoulder met.
Hermione. Ron. Hermione and Ron.
Hermione and Ron were laying there in the ground dead at his feet and he felt alive.
Traitor, a voice hissed in his head.
His voice sounded loud in his head and in his ears and in the air and this Harry didn't know what to what he was saying "No."
The hand that had slipped inside his shirt to touch the side of his neck stilled. His eyes did not have to be open for Harry to know that Remus was tense and watching him, carefully gauging what his next move should be or if he should move at all.
"No! I'm not! I have to--"
Soothingly Remus queried, "You're not what, Harry? What do you have to do?"
Blinking, Harry focused moist eyes on Remus and really saw him for the first time that day - and what he saw made him gasp. Remus had always looked weary and barely put together . He still did, although Harry noted that perhaps he looked the most weary that he had ever seen him. What was shocking about the other man's appearance was the glint in his eyes. There was a sparkle there that Harry had not seen in so many years. The last time he could recall that glimmer being there had been sometime during that summer at 12 Grimmauld Place just after Sirius had made some outlandish and horribly-timed joke during one of Molly Weasley's meals. That shine had meant something then. It had meant, from what Harry could gather, that Remus was content with the path his life had taken him, the path that both he and his lover had taken together. Sirius and Remus knew what the risks were and they hadn't cared. They had carried out their lives as they had seen fit. They had been happy amid the melancholy and madness of the wizarding world surrounding them.
"You're . . . you're happy?" returned Harry, reaching up with one of his own hands and mirroring Remus's earlier actions.
Nodding in response, Remus covered Harry's hand with his own. "I know what you're thinking, Harry," he said after a beat, "and you're wrong." Releasing his hold on Harry, Remus swivelled to face the headstone before them. "They would want you to move on, Harry. They loved you. They will always love you. Hermione and Ron may be gone in body and mind but in spirit they are always with you, always watching you . . . just like Lily and James and Sirius. Can't you feel them?"
While Remus had been speaking, Harry had to wipe at his eyes with the backs of his hands. This in itself had been difficult to do as his hands were trembling something fierce. Somehow, though, he managed and didn't burst out sobbing, concentrating on Remus's voice and willing himself to not let the vessel burst.
A whisper replied, "I can still feel them. They're all around me. Can you . . . ?"
"Yes, I can. As long as he's behind that veil, I can feel him. I can hear him."
Remus laughed, a loud, boisterous noise that was so foreign to Harry's ears. Head turning, Harry stared up at Remus inquisitively, his heart rabbiting madly in his chest. "What . . .what does he say?"
"He says," Remus responded matter-of-factly, "that you and I have to be there for one another because each of us understands the other."
"Oh," Harry breathed, averting his eyes.
Be there for one another. Be there.
If Sirius thought that, then Harry had to find a way to allow Remus to do it, to be there for him and vice versa. Because each of us understands the other. They did. Harry and Remus understood one another implicitly. Harry - oh Merlin now that he was standing there next to Remus and talking with him, Harry couldn't believe he'd been so rude to him the previous year and forced himself to stay away. Having Remus next to him felt like home, like the home he'd once had with Ron and Hermione and he knew now that he wanted so desperately once more.
"I want to be there for you, Harry, but you have to let me. This is what they would want for you. It's what I want for you. But the question remains - do you want this?"
No reply. There were no words, none that Harry could think of that would explain everything properly. How could he tell Remus about everything he'd been feeling (or not) and thinking since the day that Ron and Hermione had left him for good?
Remus nodded and Harry watched him out of the corner of his eye. The older man looked lost and almost defeated now and something sparked within Harry.
Impulsively Harry reached a hand out and took hold of Remus's, twining their fingers together.
Remus squeezed Harry's hand and turned toward him, one eyebrow raised questioningly.
It was now or never. If Harry didn't act, if he didn't answer Remus right this instant he would lose him as well and should just drop to his knees in front of that headstone and carve Harry James Potter between Ronald Edwin Weasley and Hermione Elizabeth Granger with his nails.
Do you want this?
Taking a step closer, one foot in between Remus’s, their hips brushing against one another, Harry leaned in and brushed his lips against Remus’s, his mouth moving in an excruciatingly slow manner. Remus’s lips were soft and full and slightly salty and intoxicating and Harry didn’t want to stop tasting him.
I want you to be there for me, Moony. I want to be there for you. I want to feel better. I want to get over the pain. I want us to help one another.
Remus wrapped his arms around Harry, drawing him near and resting his forehead against Harry’s momentarily. “It will be slow-going but we can do this, Harry. Together we can do this.”
Clearing his throat, Harry nodded, speaking hoarsely, “Together we can heal.”
“Together,” Remus echoed, eyes filled with determination.
Harry nodded once more and then silence, not an uncomfortable one, settled in. The men simply held on to one another amid the silence and the occasional gusts of wind and stayed just like that, standing in an embrace at the foot of Hermione and Ron’s grave until the sun set. Together.