Chapter 12 : Chapter 12...For Thy Sweet Love Remembered
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Today we grieve the loss of the greatest woman I have ever known, my great-grandmother Ginevra Molly Weasley Potter, known to her children and grandchildren as simply Mum. This grief follows closely on the heels of the loss of her beloved husband Harry James Potter. It came as little surprise when Mum followed him so closely in death; it was rare indeed to ever see one without the other.
There was a time, though hardly imaginable now, when it was thought that the Potter line would die with my grandfather. Marrying into the Weasley line aided in not only it’s continuation but its abundant prosperity in the form of nine children, twenty seven grandchildren and to be honest I’ve lost count of how many great-grandchildren we are. Needless to say that the Potter family reunions are a wondrous sight to behold a veritable sea of black and red and Papa thrived on them, the twinkle in those piercing green eyes were always brighter when he was surrounded by his children.
But they were never brighter than when he gazed upon his wife. It was always evident to us how deeply they loved each other it was exclusive of everything else that surrounded them. Their love was the power that vanquished a dark lord. Their love restored a family on the brink of extinction. Their love was boundless and was given without reservation to all those they held dear. Their love rebuilt a crumbling society by building orphanages and creating scholarships and endowments for those affected by the war. Greatest of all their love was immeasurable and their love gave us hope.
Harry James Potter was known as the man-who-conquered, the chosen one, and the savior of the wizarding world. But it was Ginevra Molly Weasley who was the power behind the man. Without her the world as we know it would be a much bleaker place. I do not wish to contemplate life without her love and presence in our lives.
She was a beloved daughter, sister, friend, wife and mother. Sometimes criticized and reviled by the very society that extolled her virtues, right along with her husband. She would laugh at the rubbish that was sometimes written about them and ignored both the praise and contempt heaped upon them throughout their lives.
A powerful witch in her own right, she had to be if she was to keep up with Papa. She had a temper to rival Circe’s and a heart as boundless as the sea. She had a smile that could light up a room and a temper that could clear it. Slow to anger and swift to pardon, fiercely loyal to those she loved and infinitely patient with those who wished her ill, though she suffered fools lightly.
Her laughter was contagious, her exuberance a joy. Even in her old age she was spry and had an inner energy to rival the sun. No one basked in the sun that was Ginny Potter more so than her husband - she was his life, his passion and his reason for living. She was stronger than he in many ways and we always thought that her passing would have been more than he could have endured.
The day Papa died the light that seemed to shine through her eyes dimmed, yet she did not shed a tear. There was an enigmatic yet sad smile upon her lips that seemed to hold a secret knowledge. Surrounded by grieving family and friends Mum simply walked over to the white marble that enshrouded her beloved Harry kissed its sun warmed surface and asked him to wait for her. The next day Mum followed.
We settled their estate and gathered their many possessions some to be kept as family heirlooms as requested in their wills and others to be given to the Wizarding War Memorial Museum. Among Mum’s most treasured possession we found her music box, it contained a packet of letters that were dated during the height of the war, during their year-long separation. There were no instructions regarding these letters and as we gathered together and read them we wondered why. The letters from Papa were filled with a fierce longing to be near her. Mum’s letters were filled with hope for their future. Her letters never faltered in their faith, they painted for him a picture of their future life together. Her hope filled imaginings did not come close to the beautiful, bountiful life pictured for them — their life together far surpassed them.
I don’t think that I can begin to put into words what it means to grow up a Potter. To be a third generation removed from a man who is listed in Hogwarts: A History, as a savior. To have biographies written about him, to be asked to write terms papers in History of Magic about the Battle of Hogwarts and in turn write about the man who bounced you on his knee and changed your nappies as a baby and cheered you from the stands during Quidditch matches. Our family name was never a burden but carried with pride. We are Gryffindors by lineage and lions at heart and we live by our family motto Fortis et fidus - Brave and faithful.
We were blessed with the great fortune of having known the man behind the legend and the woman behind the man. Our pride is not manifest in the knowledge that we are descendants of a hero, our pride is now manifold in the knowledge of the boy who would sacrifice his life, his hopes, his dreams and his love for a world that could never know or hope to understand the price he was willing to pay so that future generations might live.
Our family gathered with a sense of solemn reverence for the reading of their letters. The awe and wonder these letters inspired I cannot even begin to describe. We lived their love, joy and desperation with each passing letter. The words blurred upon the aged yellow parchment, my voice wavering with each uttered word and as we reached their final letters on the eve of that fateful battle. Our pride, and love for them could not be contained within our hearts. Our perceptions, our ideals of them were altered forever. They were no longer Papa and Mum they were young lovers whose love was limitless, a love it seems that could not be contained by earthly bounds.
The bulk of the letters remain as Potter family heirlooms. However, our family has chosen to have their last letter to each other displayed so future generations may know that love was the power that vanquished a dark lord.
We have done what we’ve set out to do; and perhaps tomorrow I will be facing death. I sit here on this warm summer night alone in my tent, alone with my thoughts of you and I cannot help but wish that I could see you again.
I don’t want to die, not now that I have a reason to live, in you. But if I should die tomorrow, I want you to know that had we lived a full life together I would not have loved you more than I do at this moment. The guilt I feel knowing that if I die tomorrow you will soon follow is killing me. But Ginny, knowing that I will not have to wait to see you again makes me happy. Forgive me for being so selfish, but of all the things I’ve had to give up in my life, all the things I’ve had to sacrifice, not being with you has been the hardest.
We have chosen to do what is right. I do not regret surrendering my life for the greater good - there is no greater love that a man lay down his life for others. I am willing to make that sacrifice, but Ginny, to sacrifice not only my life but yours and our future happiness is a sacrifice that no one should have to make.
I hate the prophecy that has brought me here to this moment where all that I love and hold close to my heart may be lost in a moment and when all I want is to be with you. But if I had to choose between never having known what it’s like to have your love and to lose that love I would still choose to love you - always. Every night in my dreams I have lived our future life together, just as you painted them for us in your letters. I saw you swollen with our first baby, so beautiful. I saw our children off to school on the first of September. I saw you, just as you are now, young, beautiful and I saw you wrinkled with age and yet to my eyes you were always beautiful.
I want you to know that it is your love that gives me strength to do what I have to do. And if I must die, it will be your face I see in my final moment, your name I will call and I will wait for you.
I will not believe that fate can be so cruel as to rob us our future joys. We will have time to love and to live, I swear it.
I do not want to die; I want to live with you. We may yet live to see the children you dreamed of grow and prosper. I don’t want you to feel guilty about what may happen. I don’t think I could live if you weren’t here with me. If you are to die tomorrow I will be happy knowing I will soon follow you.
I know only one thing, I was born to love and be loved by you. I would not choose to change my fate with another. In the whole world in all the times before us and all the future ahead of us, no one has loved as we have loved. If all we have is yesterday then I shall count myself blessed to have spent these precious moments with you.
Have faith my love, no matter the outcome we shall be together and in the end I ask for no greater fate than to spend eternity with you.
Think of my love for you and wait for me.
AN Part One
I would like to thank the readers who were kind enough to take the time and leave me such lovely and heartening reviews. You’re to thank for my actually finishing the darn thing. I can attest to the adage that states the reward is in the journey and I thank you for taking this journey with me. May the Lord bless and keep you all.
Enchanted Miami, FL 2008
AN Part Two:
The inspirations for this epilogue are many...
Kschneyer’s “On the Headmaster’s Wall” and “Report on the Excavations of Sites HH-87 and HH-88”, so beautifully written, he always makes me cry. But none more so than W.H. Auden’s poem ‘Stop All the Clocks” which kept running through my mind as an anthem for those who grieve.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
AN Part Three:
The letters I chose to post in the body of the chapter are in what I hope is a Harry and Ginny voice. The one I originally wanted to post are in my pretentiously flowery prose. The style I hoped to imitate were inspired by the Letters of Abelard and Heloise, which are so poignantly beautiful given the circumstances behind their separation. Sullivan Ballou’s last letter to his wife on the eve of the Battle of Bull Run where he met his fate and Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Even little Willie Shakes made his appearance in the 29th Sonnet. Those letters can be found here…
My Beloved Wife,
We have done what we’ve set out to do; the end is near and perhaps tomorrow I shall be no more. I sit here on this warm summer night alone in my tent, alone with my thoughts of you and I cannot help but wish that I could see your lovely face just once more.
I do not wish to die, not now that I have a reason to live. But if tomorrow I am no more, know that I have loved a lifetimes worth with you. I am wracked with the burden of guilt that if I should die tomorrow you will soon follow. But Ginny, to know that I will not wait long for you when I am gone in turn brings me such great joy. Forgive me my selfishness, my thoughtlessness but to be separated from you even in death is unbearable.
We have chosen to do what is right. I do not regret surrendering my life for the greater good - there is no greater love that a man lay down his life for others. I am willing to make that sacrifice, but Ginny, to sacrifice not only my life but yours and our future happiness is a sacrifice that no man should be made to endure.
I curse the fates that brought me here to this moment on the brink of battle and yet if I had to lose what precious time I’ve spent with you from our yesterday’s until this very moment I would not change my fate with another. I have lived our future dream each night in my sleep. I have watched our children grow around us, I have seen you in the beauty of youth and the maturity of age and each stage of our lives in-between and your beauty was never diminished in my eyes.
Know that it is your love that gives me strength to endure what must be done, your face I shall see in my final moment, your name upon my lips. I will wait for you.
I will not believe that fate can be so cruel as to rob us our future joys. We will have time to love and to live, I swear it. I stand here on the parapets of the castle feeling the irony of having been named for a queen who perhaps stood on a similar parapet on the eve of the battle of Camlann awaiting the fate of her king. I only lack the habits of a nun to bring the imagery to life. I do not wear the habits but I feel as if I have taken the vows of the novitiate. I am cloistered behind these stone walls, solitary, celibate, silent.
I do not choose to die, I choose to live with you and we may yet live to see the children of our union grow and prosper. I relieve you of your burden - would you consign me to an empty life without you? If it is your fate to die tomorrow I too will be happy in the knowledge that I will soon follow you in the afterlife.
I know only one thing, I was born to love and be loved by you. I would not choose to change my fate with another, for none have loved as we have loved and if all we have is yesterday then I shall count myself blessed to have spent these precious moments with you.
Have faith my love, no matter the outcome we shall be together and in the final reckoning I ask for no greater fate than to spend eternity with you.
Whenever my faith weakens and this burden seems too heavy to bear I meditate on the words of the 29th Sonnet and it gives me hope to face whatever future fate has planned for us.
When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon my self and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Think on these words, think of my love for you and wait for me.