Author: NYCitygurl Title: Graves Fandom: Harry Potter Characters: Harry Timeframe: Several years post-DH. Summary: Harry makes a visit to a special place every year. Notes: My entry for the October Write By Theme Challenge. Also, my return to fanfic after our sojourn away from the boards. It’s raining. He clutches the cloak tighter around him but doesn’t stop making his way through the graveyard, head bowed to protect his face. It’s not odd for the weather to be nasty this time of year, especially this far north, but he spelled himself well. A careful observer would note that the rain bounces away from his hood and glasses—but there are, of course, no observers in the graveyard this time of night. Unusual, perhaps, because this is Halloween, holiday of the dead—but there have been too many stories about this particular graveyard. Even Muggle pranksters give it wide berth without really knowing why. He finds the graves he’s looking for and kneels in the soggy ground, uncaring about the dirt on his trousers. The stone is of simple white marble and bears two names, along with the dates of birth and death. The latter are the same: 31 October 1981. And that is why Harry Potter is here on Halloween, as he has been every year since Voldemort’s death. Some years, he talks to them, tells them about his life—his victories, his wife, his children. Some years, like this one, he remains silent, wanting to just be with them. Hermione has tried to persuade him that he is no closer to his parents here than anywhere else, but he finds a strange sort of comfort in the ritual. He does feel a connection to them, here, where their bodies lie. Oh, he has seen them with him several times—when he walked to his death—and knows they can be anywhere. And yet, he continues to visit every year. He never knew them, not really. He realizes often that he knows so little about tem, especially since all their closest friends are gone. He knows he looks like his father, the Quidditch player and sometime-prankster. Except for his eyes. He has his mother’s eyes. How many times have people told him that? And he knows one more thing: He has their love, forever. He grew up with only family he hated and an empty hole where his parents should be, so he only really understood the first time he held James, his little boy. In that moment, he understood his father’s protectiveness, his mother’s love. He knows why they went to their deaths willingly, when they could have lived. He stares at the grave, brooding, and then turns to the next. Remus and Tonks are buried with her family, but he insisted on burying this body here. He is sure his father would scoff—or maybe not—but Lily, at least, would be proud. The name, Severus Snape, is most prominent, with the dates of his birth and death below. Harry had chosen the one word that was all the remembrance he needed of this man: Always. No one, including Professor McGonagall, understands, but they don’t need to. The grave is Harry’s way of honoring this complicated, misunderstood, loyal man, and that word mean something to him. Always. After all this time … always. Harry had spent seven years hating Severus Snape. It was only at the end that he learned Snape’s secret: He had been protecting Harry all along. To his death. It’s been so long … and yet Harry blinks, and it could have happened yesterday. The years fall away like autumn leaves, and he’s thrust into a memory—Snape’s memory, all the things he wanted Harry to know at the end. All the things Harry needed to forgive him. To prove that Severus Snape earned his redemption. Ron still doesn’t understand why Harry named his second son Albus Severus. It is Harry’s way of saying he forgives Snape and he is grateful. For everything. Without Snape … without Snape, he probably wouldn’t be here. He wouldn’t have fought his way to the happy ending that Snape never got. Harry feels tears in his eyes, so he stands quickly, trying to blink them away. Ginny understands his need to come here every year, whether he stays for five minutes or two hours, but tonight, he wants to get home. The children are long in bed, and he wants his wife’s comfort. She, too, knows something about loss, and after all these years, she knows how to comfort him. With one last look over his shoulder, Harry strides away from the graves. He reaches his home after a few minutes. In the morning, he will be his usual cheery self as he wakes the kids and heads to work, but for tonight, this one night, he is tired, and sad, and cold as the graves.