When Susan goes to the cemetery to visit the resting spots of her parents, she always goes alone. I have offered in the past but I never push. Once I even stood before their headstones and introduced myself. It was the weirdest one- sided conversation I’ve ever had and for me, that’s going some.
I’d been laying some flowers at the Chief’s grave last year when he’d just been killed by Wormtail. I’d missed the service and Susan and I had just broken up because she hadn’t wanted to be with someone in my line of work because of the inherent dangers of being a Hit Wizard.
It’s the middle of the night as we Apparate together into the graveyard. I feel so nervous for a lot of reasons. To me, graveyards are no different now than a crowded park. The names leap off the cold stone and my mind drifts to the date and era etched there and the people just stand up to see what you’re doing there, like looking out a window to see who’s come up the front walk or something.
Ron says he often feels the same way since we somehow came back from the dead ourselves. Some strange cosmic pull between the busy traffic on the street outside the cemetery to the cool earth below our feet and not knowing exactly where you fit in. My anchor to the living world is Susan and his is Hermione and his unborn child.
I let Susan lead the way to her parent’s plots. She’s wearing a light cotton white dress that flows in the wind like gauze and would scare any Muggle into believing she was a beautiful ghost.
"Mum, dad, this is Justin," Susan begins. "He’s my husband."
I step forward awkwardly.
"Actually, ah, we’ve met..." I tell Susan lamely, waving vaguely at the stones.
I thought for a minute she was going to cry but she didn’t.
"Do tell?" she says, tapping her foot, which makes no noise at all on the dewy turf.
"I was here right after you..." I begin. I am not going to bring up our separation now.
"I was here when I was finally able to pay my respects to the Chief. Alex and Eric had brought me." Thinking of Alex, makes me remember that he is finally at rest here too after having been used as an Inferius for the dark side.
"I just introduced myself and told them that I’d look out for you if you’d let me, even though we weren’t together then," I tell her truthfully. "And I wanted to thank them for raising such a wonderful person."
Susan’s eyes shine with tears.
"They didn’t get to come to our wedding. They didn’t get to see my dress..."
I don’t know what to say at this point but I do know that I have her gown shrunk in a box in my pocket to take to Madame Magnificent’s Magical Mending and Dry Cleaning.
I hand the box to Susan and she asks me if I think she’s being stupid. I have no idea how she can ask that. I could never think that of her.
A dressing charm later and with my help doing up the many buttons in the back, Susan is dressed again in her wedding gown, her veil fluttering in the breeze the entire length of the plots and beyond. Somewhere in this image is a Muggle fairy tale fit for a King.
"You look beautiful," I whisper to Susan as she stands there. "I know they’re looking down at you all time and they saw the wedding, I just gave you the gown so I could see you in it one last time and I’ll help you undo the buttons later..."
It would be inappropriate to laugh in a cemetary on a sad day. I only half jokingly look up to the sky to see if a lightening bolt is going to hit me from Susan’s dad but none comes. And this isn’t a sad day. It’s a sad place of sorts but this is our wedding day and we are here to share our joy with Susan’s parents if possible.
"Your terrible, Justin!" Susan says, punching me lightly on the arm, her mouth curling slightly at the corners.
"No, I’m just me, you wanted them to meet me. So I’ll do them the honour of being me, not just standing here in silence like they can’t hear us and share the joy of our special day with us. Look, it says right there, ‘do not stand at our grave and weep, we are not here, we do not sleep. If I stood here with you looking so beautiful and didn’t acknowledge it, how would I look?"
"I have to believe that somehow they know about this, about us, that I’m happy," Susan sobs into my shoulder.
"Do you remember what Dumbledore told everyone when Cedric died? Death is but the next great adventure, Susan. I believe that."
"I do too," Susan whispers, "can you give me a minute?"
I kiss her hand and step away from her but keep her within my sight as I stand before the Chief’s grave. I look over at another row where Alex lies. So many fresh graves.