“You can only imagine our surprise when we returned after Christmas that year and found Sirius completely wrapped up in her.” Remus continued as he shifted in his seat. “We knew instantly that we had a lot of catching up to do, because boys don’t really discuss their feelings by letter. We could all see how happy he was and of course that made us happy.”
Harry looked across the Weasley yard his eyes looking but not seeing. He was trying to capture the essence of what he was being told. Of a time when friends were real and love was easy. Of a time when the following day was a given and not a stroke of luck. He wanted to reply to this, but couldn’t find the words to describe his feelings. A knot was tugging at his insides and his eyes threatened to spill. He looked down.
“I’m sorry if this is making you uncomfortable Harry. We can stop talking about it if you want.” Remus said gently, putting a hand on his shoulder. The boy shook his head.
“No… No. I want to know. It’s the only way I’ll know about them. They were my family Remus and HE took them away.” he said bitterly. “And I want to know. I’ll get closure. I’ll have their score to settle with him as well when the time comes.”
“This isn’t about revenge and it shouldn’t be. Your parents wouldn’t want you bitter and full of hate. They’d want you be happy. Like they were at 16.”
“And I will be. Just… tell me what happened next?” he finally made eye contact with his former Professor.
“Classes resumed after break and we went on with our lives, just spending time together and enjoying our youth so to say. Elise and Sirius as a couple brought us all closer together, despite her initial fears and in no time our group of four became seven. Even Peter was starting to come out of his shell a little and was more outspoken.” Remus said, disregarding Harry’s grimace at the mention of Pettigrew’s name. He was going to tell the story and Peter was part of it after all. “By spring time that year, the situation in the Wizarding World had taken a turn for the worse. Rumors were flying around that the Dark Lord was forming an army and war was brewing at the border of our world. You see, in those times, Death Eaters weren’t as… outspoken. Your grandfather was constantly telling James that they were a nasty rumor but none were ever caught so it was hard to prove they even existed. In time his letters got more and more scarce in information and by the time I was telling you about, spring of our 6th year, they started lacking in information about them completely. The Potters would write about house-elves and staying out of detention. That’s when we knew the post was intercepted and fear starting making its way inside Hogwarts.
We tried our best of course to keep it at bay. Your mother, God rest her soul, tried her best to keep us all occupied with lessons and even extra curricular activities. There were days at a time when James wouldn’t get word from home and we could all see his concern. Those were the times she would be most supportive. That’s when we started to see that he had grown on her and was no longer just an arrogant… well, individual.”
Harry smiled at this, knowing that Remus would refrain from using any of the adjectives his mother would’ve used. He was getting flashing images of them, young and walking the halls of the castle he came to regard as home.
“Soon enough,” Remus continued, “we had gotten used with the idea that we were no longer safe and they began bickering like an old married couple. Lily opened up to me the most, I think it’s because she found we had a lot in common, being Prefects and classmates, but also because we were outcasts. I used to laugh at this at first but then I realized there was truth in her words. I was a dark creature and she was a Muggle born witch, so many people would look down on us during our life time. She started telling me about her family. Your maternal grandmother was a stay at home wife and your grandfather was a bank teller. They lived in a Muggle suburb and Lily had attended Muggle School before her 11th birthday. Petunia and she had had a good relationship, until … until they had a falling out before her first year. That’s all I know about the Evans family unfortunately. But no sooner had we settled into the new routine of our lives when the unthinkable happened…”
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning as the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall pointed out. The sun was shining and white, fluffy clouds were scattered all around. The owl post was on time as usual and letters and packages were dropping on tables all around the hall.
The Marauders and the girls were seated at the Gryffindor table having breakfast and started opening their letters. James and Sirius were diving Mrs. Potter’s home made sweets with Remus and Peter while Mary had propped opened the Daily Prophet against a mug of juice and was reading an article with Sophie - Elise peering over to read the weather reports. Lily opened her post and as she read, the blood drained from her face. It was Mary who noticed this.
“Lily love, everything ok?” she asked with concern.
Lily didn’t reply to this, but ran a hand through her hair and sat up and left. She ran out of the Hall and in doing so, left the upsetting note on the table, in her scrambled eggs. Sophie - Elise picked it up and read aloud.
I don’t know how to say this but Daddy got sick last night and we went to the hospital. He passed away this morning. The funeral is on Saturday, please make arrangements to come.
The silence that followed the reading was deafening. The letter was blotched, it was apparent that tears had been spilled on it. The group didn’t know what to say.
“What… What do we do now?” Peter asked meekly, breaking the silence.
“We have to tell McGonagall, so she has a way to get home… then we need to talk to her.”
Remus got up and made his way to the Head table, were the staff was having their breakfast. He spoke to McGonagall and Dumbledore in hushed voices and they both nodded solemnly.
Mary and Sophie-Elise got up and left the Hall, leaving the other three boys stunned. They found her outside, seated under a large tree, her knees pulled to her chest and a shocked look on her face. The girls sat on either side of her, not knowing what to say. It was Lily who spoke.
“He never had a sick day in his life. I don’t remember him even sneezing…” she said quietly.
Mary put a hand on her back and rubbed it softly. Tears started falling on her cheeks.
“And I… I didn’t even get to say goodbye. I was so upset over the holidays about them taking me to the Dursleys that I had no time to just stop and enjoy my family. And now he’s never going to come pick me up from the station in the summer…” her voice cracked and she let her body fall. Sophie - Elise took her head gently and placed it on her lap. Lily stood there crying, her head buried in Sophie - Elise’s robes, while the girl was stroking her hair and Mary was rubbing her back. In the distance they saw Remus coming up to them, the rest of the Marauders tailing behind him. They stopped at a safe distance while Remus approached the three girls.
“Lily… I don’t know what to say, I’m so sorry…” Lily said nothing as she continued to cry. “I’ve taken the liberty to talk to McGonagall, she said we can have a Portkey ready by Saturday morning to take you there and you can choose when to return, you can stay the night if you want…” Lily looked up at him and tried to manage a small smile.
“Thanks…” she said but her words came out choked from the tears. Remus also sat down and slowly everybody gathered around Lily’s small, broken frame. And together they mourned the loss of Mr. Evans.
Lily had gone up to her room without dinner that evening, her eyes still puffy and her head aching. The rest of her friends sat around the fire, contemplating the events of the day.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think we should let her go by herself.” Mary said. She sat on the floor, in front of an armchair in which James was sitting, resting her back on his legs. Peter was in the other armchair, while Remus was sitting on the sofa, next to Sophie - Elise who had her legs on Sirius’ lap.
“What can we do? She won’t be alone; she’ll have her family with her.” James said.
“I see her point; they’ll be just as broken, if not worse. Lily was away most of the year, her mother and sister weren’t.” Sophie - Elise said, her eyes following the flames that burnt in the fireplace.
“Yeah, she’ll need somebody to be there to support her.” Remus agreed.
“We could talk to Dumbledore you guys.” Peter suggested.
“Maybe that’s a good idea…” Mary agreed. “I’ll go do it now.”
“No, we’ll go do it now.” James said and he got up, pulling Mary by her shoulders. They all got up and made their way towards the Headmaster’s office. The plan was simple, they would explain to Dumbledore how important it was for them to be next to Lily and that they should get permission to attend. There was only one thing missing. The key words to getting past the gargoyle that guarded the office.
As they stood dumbfounded in front of the office, the statue suddenly sprung to life and revealed the stone staircase that led to the office. Confused, the teenagers made their way up and knocked slowly on the door. It opened in front of them.
“Good evening children!” the Headmaster said from behind his desk. “I had a feeling that I would be seeing you tonight.” he smiled as he conjured up chairs for them to sit. As they took their seats the old wizard leaned back into his seat and scanned each of their faces with his blue eyes. “What can I help you with?”
Mary spoke up on behalf of the group. “Sir, we were wondering if it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, that we could go accompany Lily Evans on Saturday. She needs us.”
“Has Miss Evans expressed her wish that you accompany her?” he asked.
“Well, no, not really, but I think in between the six of us, we could help her through this. Please sir, we would go crazy with worry if we had to sit around while she goes away.” her voice was almost pleading.
“I’ve come to appreciate some of the smaller things in life Miss McDonald, in all my years. Friendship is one of them. It can be a guiding light in the darkest of times. If it is your wish to go, then by all means, you have my permission.” he said and he opened the door wish a wave of his hand, signaling the end of the visit.
“Thank you, Sir, we really appreciate it.” James said as they made their way out the door.
They stopped in front of the gargoyle and looked at each other.
“What do you wear to these occasions?” Peter asked suddenly. Sophie - Elise looked at him in surprise. She didn’t expect boys to bother with these things.
“Suits. Black suits. And we need dresses, Mary.” she said. “Do you boys have suits?” she asked.
“No, but I’ll go owl Mom for some right now. She can have them sent by tomorrow evening if she sees the owl in the morning.” James said.
“Yeah, I think that’s good. That’s what we’ll do…” Mary said lost in thought. “C’mon Elise, we need to go find Lily.” the girls waved the boys goodbye and returned to find Lily’s bed with the curtains drawn. Neither spoke while they got ready for bed.
Saturday morning saw the Gryffindors in a rush to get ready. Mary and Sophie - Elise were both wearing black dresses with black jackets and they had dressed Lily in one as well. The boys had received four tailored Muggle suits by owl the previous evening. Mrs. Potter was touched by the news and offered to help in any way, but James had assured her that it was more than enough.
Friday had been rough, to say the least. The girls had fed Lily twice and sat with her while she had fixated on a spot on the wall and refused to move. She had showered on Saturday morning and received the news of her friends going with her with amazing ease. Mary suspected she was relieved, but whether by the support she would be getting or by being spared an account after she had returned she was not sure.
Finally, at 10 in the morning, the 7 students made their way to McGonagall’s office. She had an old kettle on her desk and was busy looking through some papers as they arrived. Her harsh features softened at the sight of Lily.
“Miss Evans, when do you wish to return?” she asked as they entered the office. Her voice was soft as she spoke. Lily replied with a trembling voice.
“I want to come back tonight, I don’t want to miss my rounds tomorrow…”
“You needn’t worry about that, Lily. We can get somebody else to do them.” the old witch said.
“Please Professor, I need to come back tonight, I need to keep busy…”
She finally nodded and tapped her wand on the kettle, muttering incantations.
“Very well, if you would all please gather round and place a finger on the kettle…” they did as they were instructed and soon they felt the sensation of something tugging at their navels. They landed in a wooded area near the Evans home. Lily straightened herself.
“C’mon, it’s this way.” she pointed towards a small road. The day was unnaturally warm and beautiful, almost defiantly so. After a few minutes houses came into view and Lily started making her way up a driveway. The house was small, but well kept. A few Muggle cars were already parked in front of it. Before opening the door, she turned abruptly on her heels.
“Look guys, I just want to say how much I appreciate you coming with me…” she started but Mary cut her off.
“Like we would let you come alone. You’re stuck with us love.” she said and smiled encouragingly. Lily managed a small smile as she pushed open the door. It lead into a small hallway. As she stepped foot inside her family home, with pictures of her and her parents on the walls, she started trembling. Sophie - Elise grabbed her hand and squeezed it in support. Hand in hand they walked the few steps separating the hallway from the family room and taking a deep breath, Lily pushed open the door. She heard a loud sob and somebody instantly engulfed her in a hug. But much to Lily’s surprise it wasn’t her mother, but her sister who was holding on to her for dear life and sobbing into her shoulder. Mrs. Evans was sitting on the couch, holding a handkerchief in one hand and the hand of a large woman in the other. She started crying at the sight of her two girls, mourning together.
“It’s okay Pet… it’s okay… we’ll get through this.” Lily said as she hugged her sister tightly. Once Petunia had let go and sat on one of the sofas next to a large man with barely any neck, she turned to her mother. The woman looked at her youngest daughter with sad eyes and brushed the hair from her face.
“I’m so happy you’re home sweetheart…” she said with tears in her eyes.
“Mommy, of course I came. How could I stay away?” she whispered. “My friends, they also came to pay their respects.” she said as she motioned to the group which was awkwardly sitting by the door.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, how rude of me.” the woman said. She had impeccable manners and it was obvious that she was used to being an exemplary host. “Please come in. I’m Marie Evans. I know who you are, of course.” she said as she looked over each of them. “Lily speaks often about you. I regret the sad occasion of our meeting though…” she said as tears took over her voice.
“we’re so sorry for your loss, Mrs. Evans,” James said out of the group. “And we’re sorry if we imposed in any way.”
The older woman shook her head “It’s good that my Lily has people to help her through this. These are my future in laws, The Dursleys.” she said motioning to the people already in the room. Vernon and Marge Dursley along with their large mother and even larger father nodded at them. A silence followed.
“We should get going, the service starts at 11 and we need to be there when people start arriving.” she said as she took her small purse and led everybody outside and into cars. The Dursleys, the Evans and the wizards were on the move in no time.
The drive to the cemetery was a short one. Marie Evans was first to get out of the cars and went to speak with the minister performing the service.
“Lily, is your mother okay?” Remus asked with worry in his voice. The woman’s attitude struck him as odd.
“It’s her way of coping with grief, making sure everybody feels okay and everything if in place. It was the same with her parents.” lily said as she and her friends made their way towards the plot in the cemetery.
And as they reached it and the freshly dug hole came into view it finally struck Lily that her father, the first man in her life, was gone. The casket was sitting besides the grave, opened and people were already around it, talking in whispers. The whispers stopped as they all saw Lily.
Harold Evans looked peaceful. As if he were asleep. Lily had learned in the car from Marge Dursely that it had been a heart attack. He had not suffered; he had been peaceful next to his wife as he passed.
Lily approached her father’s lifeless form and tears started spilling from her green eyes. She looked down and stroked his face.
“Why’d you have to do this to me Daddy? Why’d you have to go? What do I do without you now, Daddy?” she cried as she hugged him. It was a heartbreaking sight. Sophie - Elise was sobbing quietly into Sirius’ shoulder and Mary was also drying her eyes, James’ hand on her shoulder. Nobody spoke as Lily said her goodbyes.
She was joined by Petunia and both of them whispered last thoughts to their father. Soon, the minister came and the girls sat by their mother as the service began. There was talk of a life great lived, of achievements and of pride for his family, of friendships and bonds that would go beyond this life. Finally there was talk of new beginnings and of Heaven. It was hauntingly beautiful. Then the moment they dreaded the most came. The casket closed and they began lowering it into the ground. At that point Lily lost it. She sank to her knees crying on the hard ground, her hands in small fists as she tried to stifle her cries. Mary made a move to reach her, but it was James who got there first. He kneeled besides her and took her crying form into his arms, letting her clutch his suit. He stroked her hair and rocked her gently, and she didn’t push him away.
The final words of the service were said as Petunia held onto Vernon and Marie Evans was staring intently at the ground, not bearing to look at her children.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust….” word lost in the wind. The minister threw the first fist of dirt onto the wooden casket and the sound echoed painfully for those standing there. Slowly, they reached passed the grave, now bearing a headstone. Harold Evans, beloved father, husband and friend.
Soon, only a few people were left. James helped Lily up as he threw the final hand of dirt and gently steered her away.
It was the dawn of a new era. Lily Evans was now half orphaned but the bonds formed on that day would last through the years. They would all look back on that day at some point.
Seven young men and women all coming together, as a shield to protect one of their own. United they stood, grasping at only what they knew for certain. That loss was now a part of life, that somehow Lily would never be whole again. That through pain will come healing and that in time, together, they would be okay.
“If I could steal one final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never end
Cause I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again.” - Luther Vandross
A/N: There we are, another chapter. This one is, I think, the longest so far. Cannon (and by cannon I mean JKR) tells us no Dark Magic was involved in the deaths of Harry's grandparents.
A big thank you to those who have been following this story!