August 6, 2012

It was the dead of night, nearly early morning. After everyone had left the manor, Joseph came back in and slowly made his way to the basement. He passed the burnt objects around him, his eyes focused on nothing save the farthest corner of the dirty room.

Joseph took out his wand and began undoing the protective spells on James's body. When he was finished, James's body appeared. His skin was now ashen, his whole body lifeless. His eyes were closed. His hair had turned back to brown, his features changed to an older version of the brother Joseph remembered.

Joseph's heart seemed to twist inside his chest as he looked at him. His lowered his hand to James and grasped it tightly. He realized that James was holding on to a vial. Joseph gently loosened the dead man's grip and held the vial in his own hand. Joseph recognized the blueish liquid inside as memories. He looked at it for a moment, then pocketed it. Now was not the time to look at them; he had a different job to do. He grasped James's arm, closed his eyes, and Disapparated.

Joseph opened his eyes. He was outside his childhood home. It had been abandoned after the deaths of Joseph's parents; he had not had the will to care for it. The outside walls were crumbling. The living room was exposed to the outside, revealing tattered furniture covered in cobwebs and dust.

Joseph tore his gaze away from the house before any other detail could register, and carried James's body into the garden. At the very edge lay the graves of his parents. He placed James down in front of the graves, knelt down beside him, and closed his eyes. There would be no funeral for a murderer; a silent vigil was the best gift Joseph could give him.

Pushing down his emotions, Joseph reflected back on his days as a Hogwarts student. Conversations with his brother whirled back into his mind. He remembered the time James had pushed Joseph behind his back while he defended him from a boy in his year, sending the Levicorpus curse at him. He recalled James comforting him when he was turned down by the girl he liked. He remembered James proudly introducing him to the boys in James's year as "one of the smartest guys this school has ever known."

He reminisced on James's slow change as his hatred on Hufflepuffs took over. To this day, Joseph didn't understand how James could have changed so much in the year he became a murderer. He remembered the last, desperate word he had said to his brother just before he was taken to Azkaban. "Why?" James had stared at his feet with no answer escaping from his lips.

It was tough for Joseph when James was in Azkaban. Some students and teachers pitied him, but most were suspicious that Joseph would turn out just like his brother. When he was refused a spot in the Wizengamot because of his past, Dumbledore had offered to train him up as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Joseph could still see the disappointment and compassion in the old headmaster's eyes as he refused.

Joseph was suddenly thrust in his mind away from the early days and into the night's battle against James. Grief pricked his chest as he remembered how the expression in James's eyes had changed. Resentment tightened his muscles. He had not been entirely honest with Krysalis earlier; he was angry at her for murdering his brother deliberately. Yet he was not nearly as irate with her as he was at himself for making no attempt to stop her. The fury had taken over him as well, though he regretted it as soon as the deed was done. He knew that it would be a struggle to put Krysalis's action behind him, but he had no doubt that he would be able to. He loved her and she loved him, it was as simple as that.

The shock had died down now; focusing his mind on the battles afterwards had done Joseph's mind some good. He looked at James's face once more, as the light of dawn began to appear on the horizon. It would take time for Joseph to heal, but it would be done. Now relief could, tentatively, enter his mind. James's words entered Joseph's mind: Our bond has held us both back from hatred of one another and a promising future. That bond was gone now, but it had died with James instead of Joseph.

Joseph willed strength back into his muscles as he rose from the ground. He walked to the shed and took a rusty spade. He went back to James's body and began to dig his grave next to his father's. Joseph relished the physical labor the deed took; he had a channel now for the emotions inside.

When he was done, Joseph wiped the sweat from his face and conjured a black casket. As he lifted James into the casket, James's wand fell out of his pocket onto the dead ground. Joseph picked it up, looked at it for a few seconds, then pocketed it, remembering the bond the wands had made earlier. He would ask Ailred to examine the wands later.

Joseph levitated the casket and dropped it gently into the hole. He then used the spade to fill it. He fashioned a rock into the shape of a gravestone with his wand, then hesitated. What should he put on it? He looked at his parents graves and saw their names, their year of birth and death, and a quote on each of their tombstones. Joseph shook his head slightly to himself, and whittled the simple name 'James Euclide' into the center of the stone. He planted it at the head of the grave and stood up, looking at each of the graves in turn until his gaze rested on his brother's. There should be words to say, but none came to mind. James had been right; there was nothing more to say. It was all over. Joseph dipped his head, then turned and walked away, making a point to not look back.