You were so smart then
in your jacket and coat.
My softest red scarf was warming your throat.
Winter was on us,
at the end of my nose,
but I never love England more than when covered in snow.
But a friend of mine says it's good to hear you believe in love even if set in fear
well I'll hold you there brother and set you straight
I won't make believe true love is frail and willing to break.
I will come back here,
bring me back when I'm old.
I want to lay here forever in the cold.
I might be cold but I'm just skin and bones
and I never love England more than when covered in snow.
~ lyrics from Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) by Laura Marling
Remus had always loved winter. Especially when it snowed. That didn’t happen very often but those days had always been special. He remembered building a snowman with his Mum and going sledding, before he was bitten. And even after, when it snowed, it seemed like he could start anew. He liked being cold and eating snowflakes and jumping around making weird footprints in the snow.
And his transformations seemed better in the cold somehow. Instead of excruciating pain, it was slightly less unbearable and the cold brought some relief. And at school, once his friends could join him, he loved slowly making his way back to the castle with Madam Pomfrey and seeing the hoof prints and dog paws and rat tracks along with his own tracks. She never seemed to notice them.
And now, as Remus pulled up the car next to the cottage, he was very glad to see lots of snow. It covered the hills and the forests and the sheep farms of the Lake District and it painted the world in his favorite color. Of course, he drove down here from Scotland, so there was snow everywhere, especially this year, but somehow, here, that snow seemed shinier and cleaner even in late afternoon light.
Remus got out of the car and took his bag and groceries out. It had been so long since he had driven a car of any kind and he was glad that he still remembered how. His mother insisted on teaching him and it had come handy through the years. And since he was expressly forbidden from using magic for the next few days, it was the only way he could travel.
When they were coming here for the first time, all those years ago, Sirius wanted to take his flying bike and got very dramatic when Remus vetoed it. But without magic, that bike would have been so uncomfortable. The car could barely pass on the narrow winding roads but at least he wasn’t afraid he might fall into a lake or freeze. He wished now he let Sirius have his way.
Remus forced his mind away from Sirius and that trip. He came here because of those memories but he was not ready to really think about them. Yet as he walked toward the cottage, the same one they rented then, he could see Sirius picking up some snow and throwing a snowball at him. That had resulted in a ferocious snowball fight and the need for a really warm bath after they got soaking wet. Not that the two of them had minded.
Not much had changed inside the cottage either. Remus quickly unpacked the few things he brought with him, put the kettle on the little stove and spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to start a fire in the fireplace. He wished he could just use his wand. Unfortunately, Dumbledore was insistent and, if he did not want anyone to interrupt the next few days, he couldn’t use any magic. Unless a Death Eater decided to take a winter holiday in the Lake District, of course. For a moment, Remus wished that could happen and he could then legitimately leave.
Last time Remus was here and he couldn’t use magic, he thought of it as an adventure. He was especially amused at Sirius’ inability to do many things without his wand since Sirius had never really been in the Muggle world before. But now Remus was tired and a little cranky, and he just wished for a quick fire. He was still mad at Dumbledore for making him take time off.
A few days earlier:
“I don’t meet him until the twentieth but I think until then I can scout out the Glasgow location,” Remus said. He reminded himself that he was a grown man and he really should not still be intimidated sitting in a chair in front of Dumbledore’s desk. He ran a hand over his face. His mind was already busy calculating the next mission. Although he should probably manage some sleep first, the way he was feeling. It would be welcome. Distracted, Remus was not expecting what Dumbledore said next.
“No. Bill Weasley can manage it. You need a holiday,” Dumbledore said, his sharp eyes looking sternly at Remus.
“What?” Remus asked. It took his brain a few seconds to shift gears.
“You are tired and you can barely stand. You are still recovering from injuries you got from Greyback last month. You need to get away for a few days. At least until the twentieth,” Dumbledore said.
“It’s really not necessary. I just need a good night’s sleep. I’m fine. I’m familiar with the city and…”
“No,” Dumbledore interrupted. “This is not a negotiation, Remus. I need you at your best and you need to rest if you can do any good next week.”
Remus looked at Dumbledore for a minute. He shook his head, “What I am supposed to do? I need to work. I need something. I can’t just do nothing while…”
“Yes, you can. In fact, I think you need to. Clear your head,” Dumbledore paused, considering. Then he said in a quiet, compassionate tone. “I don’t think you let yourself truly grieve, Remus. In the last eight months, you barely slowed down. And I let you because I needed you. However, perhaps it wasn’t for the best.”
Remus sat up. His hands gripped the chair. His eyes narrowed, “With all due respect, it’s really none of your business. And I’m fine. I need to work and make a difference. That’s all.”
Dumbledore raised his eyebrow. “You are not fine. You are not at the denial stage but you are certainly at the anger one, perhaps mixed with depression. You keep going this way and you will be careless and you will get killed, Remus. And we can’t afford any more loss.”
Remus was certainly starting to feel angry now. He didn’t want to have this conversation.
He said, “The ‘stages of grief’ theory is for the dying. I’m not planning to die any time soon. Don’t tell me how I’m feeling, sir. You know nothing about it.”
“No, I don’t presume,” Dumbledore said in his irritatingly calm voice. His eyes fell on his bad right hand. Remus wished he had enough courage to ask him about that injury.
Dumbledore continued, “Perhaps grief does not come in neat stages but you cannot let it eat at you. Last time you lost him and your friends, you lost two years of your life, Remus, to various, shall we say, unsavory and extreme activities. You did not want my help then, either. I know you are a private man and I know you don’t want to discuss it. But I am worried about you. And I insist on helping this time even if it involves just giving you time.”
“I’m fine. Thank you for the concern. But I’m clean and I haven’t done anything really unsavory, as you call it. Nor am I planning to. And being busy helps. Look, I appreciate it but I’d rather go to Glasgow.” Remus was tired. He was tired of this conversation. Loosing Sirius then was not the same. He didn’t need to escape from himself this time. Now, he was sure of who Sirius was. He was certain now that Sirius’ love was not an illusion and he did not want to talk about it even to one of the few people who knew what he lost when Sirius died.
Dumbledore reached down into one of the drawers, pulled out a set of keys and threw them at Remus. Remus caught them reflexively. He looked down at them perplexed. Then he stared at the piece of parchment and a stack of what looked like Muggle money Dumbledore pushed towards him on the desk.
“What’s this?” Remus asked puzzled.
“Keys to a Muggle car in Edinburgh and its location. I do recall that you know how to operate it. You should pick it up and drive somewhere, anywhere you like. Go somewhere without using magic, so that no one can track you. Go somewhere in the Muggle world. And since you won’t have time to exchange money at Gringotts, use some of this emergency fund.”
Remus sat up straighter and opened his mouth to protest but Dumbledore continued before he could even make more than a strained sound.
“It is not charity, don’t protest. Think of it as a bonus. Just take a few days. It is not a punishment, Remus. At least use the time to catch up on some sleep and heal.”
Without magic. Remus remembered as clear as if it happened yesterday the last time Dumbledore told them all to take five days off and travel without magic. Seventeen years melted away and he thought about the excitement in James’ voice as he tried to think of places Lily would like and Sirius sulking that he couldn’t actually know their final chosen location. And the quite joy in his own heart as he realized that he and Sirius could go somewhere together and no one would look for them or interrupt for once. Sirius stopped sulking once he caught on to that too. Maybe. Maybe he could actually go now. He closed his eyes and he could see Sirius standing on the hill in the snow all bundled up and still cold and Remus winding his own Gryffindor scarf around Sirius’ neck. The white snow and black hair and red scarf evoked such an image of peace that Remus just wanted to wrap himself in it and go to sleep for a while.
Dumbledore was looking at him with that knowing smile of his and Remus just nodded. It was no use arguing and maybe taking a few days off and running from responsibilities would actually do him good. He knew exactly where he wanted to travel.
After he finally figured out the fire, Remus decided that hot cocoa was in order. It was getting darker and, through the window, the few trees cast shadows in the dark snow. He wasn’t hungry yet but he should probably eat something. He did forget to eat lately more often than not. He made himself a quick sandwich, poured some cocoa and sat by the tiny window with a very lovely view. The cottage wasn’t large but it was comfortable and it came with a nice rocking chair close to the fire and next to the window and it felt cozy enough now that it started to warm up.
Remus thought about what he could do in the next four days until he had to leave on the nineteenth. He remembered Sirius sitting by the fire. They went for a walk. They read. His head was pillowed on Sirius’ stomach and he listened to Sirius tell stories. What else did they do last time? He didn’t remember planning anything. They just decided to come here by pointing at a map. Remus sighed, got up to put the plate away and took his book out before he settled back in his rocking chair. It has been a while since he could read properly.
It has been a while since he did anything relaxing really. He didn’t like his mind drifting without something to occupy it. Last time he took a day off seemed so long ago. But it had to be a month and a half ago. New Year’s Eve at the Weasley’s. Remus closed his eyes. That was a good night except for Molly not leaving well enough alone. At least here he didn’t have to justify himself to anybody. Maybe solitude was good for him after all.
December 31, 1996
“You know, Tonks will be here tomorrow for tea. You should come, Remus,” Molly said while aiming her wand at the cups and saucers and sending them to the kitchen. She looked at him steadily as if prepared for a confrontation.
Remus, who was leaning back on the sofa listening to music on the wireless, sat up straighter. He mentally braced himself for another one of those conversations. As much as he told Molly to leave it, she inevitably brought it up every single time he visited. He was happy last week, on Christmas, because the children were around and he had to leave early, and he for once avoided her meddling. But now the children were in the garden racing brooms by night lights and they were not coming in until it was close to midnight to celebrate the New Year. Which meant that he was about to be subjected to this conversation again. And as much as he appreciated being invited to holiday celebrations, he could do without being reminded of his own failing and mistakes. He saw Arthur out of the corner of his eye as he pretended to concentrate on an old Muggle clock Harry got him for Christmas.
“Molly, please. Can we not?” Remus sighed.
“You can’t be alone forever. And she is a perfectly lovely girl who cares greatly for you. And it is not like you didn’t show some interest last summer.” Molly looked right at Remus and he fidgeted under her gaze.
“I know she does. And I’m sorry if I gave her the wrong impression. But I’m not good for her. I’m dangerous enough and I don’t want her to deal with prejudice. Or poverty. I can’t offer her anything, Molly. She is young and she can find someone more suitable than me. I’m too old for her. Please, drop this,” Remus said. He went through his list of excuses trying to see if he let anything out.
“Oh, please, Remus. You are hardly an old man. You’re what, thirty-six? She might be twelve years younger but she is a grown woman who knows her mind. And she is an Auror. She is not looking for someone to support her. She just wants someone to love. And in times like ours, perhaps it is all we can ask for,” Molly smiled at him.
Remus knew she meant well but he wished she would stop. Telling her the truth was out of the question. She and Sirius never had the best relationship and this house was one of the few places he was still welcome. He couldn’t risk it. So he just leaned back into the sofa and hoped that it would be the end of the conversation.
No such luck.
“Have you ever been in love, Remus? Or in a serious relationship? It is worth all your worry, you know,” Molly looked at him inquisitively.
Remus’s mouth curved into a small smile. “I know it is, Molly. And yes, I’ve been in love and had serious relationships. More than once, even. And as much as it’s worth it when it is right, I still think I know better when the risks are just too great. And I don’t want her hurt.”
Molly harrumphed and got up from her seat. She shook her head and moved toward the kitchen to finish supervising the clean-up. Remus let a sigh of relief. He was startled when Arthur spoke.
“It’s good that you believe in love. Love is a good thing to have in difficult times even if you are afraid of someone getting hurt. Or worried about the end of love. She loves you, Remus. I know you are reluctant but you should give her a chance. She is not a hard person to love.” Arthur’s voice was kind and it was clear that he was just going to end it at that. Remus knew Arthur meant well and he felt he owed Arthur a reply as honest as he could manage without getting too personal.
“I do like her, Arthur. A lot. I wouldn’t have … last summer…otherwise. She was there for me and she’s a good kid. And you’re right, she wouldn’t be hard to love and it wouldn’t take much at all.” Remus paused trying to find the right words to explain.
“So why wouldn’t you, then? Are you just scared? It’s fine to be scared. The main thing is to love even when you are afraid,” Arthur said.
“I’m not scared of love, Arthur. I think that love, true love, unconditional love, has no room for fear in it. It just is. You can’t help it. And it doesn’t matter if the other person leaves or rejects you or commits some horrible crime or anything, true love will remain. No matter how much you wish it didn’t, at times. It just won’t break.” Remus looked at the far wall, thinking back to all those years when he tried to hate Sirius and hated himself for still loving him. A little thing like death wouldn’t stop him now.
“So what is the problem, then?” Arthur seemed genuinely puzzled.
“I had love in my life, Arthur. And while I loved more than just one person and was content and happy with others, I loved…love…only one person that way. True love way, if I want to bring up a cliché. And a big part of my heart just belongs to them and no one else can touch it. And Tonks deserves better, frankly.” Remus shook his head and closed his eyes. He needed to stop feeling guilty about that week in the summer already. Why did he always deal with heartbreak by turning to anyone who would have him without thinking? At least, this time he came to his senses a lot sooner than fifteen years ago.
Arthur looked at him with compassion. “Shouldn’t she be the one to decide that? Not everyone wants true love all the time. She might be happy with what you can give.”
“Maybe. But not now.” Remus decided that he could confide just a bit. Arthur was becoming a really good friend in the last few years. “I lost someone not that long ago. I won’t be good for anyone right now.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize,” Arthur said. “Although, come to think of it, I should have. You have been too sad lately. I’m sorry.”
“Thank you. I’m alright. Or I will be. I got lucky. I got extra time with them that I did not expect. I try to focus on that. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime.”
Remus nodded and went back to listening to the wireless. A nice quite silence filled the room broken only by silly and cheery songs. Then Molly came back into the room with another batch of cookies and started a conversation about new Ministry policies. Remus occasionally put in a comment but he mostly sat there with his eyes closed. He was glad he was going on a new mission tomorrow. He needed another distraction.
One of his favorite things to do in the Lake District was going for a nature walk and there was one destination in mind that really brought him here. Remus headed out right after breakfast. He packed some food and a blanket in a rucksack, grabbed a ski pole to walk with and a walking map sitting on the table in the cottage. It has been a long time but he should still remember the route. But one could never be too careful even as the walk was centered around the lake so he was not too worried about getting lost. His winter boots should be good for the snowy ground and his coat, while shabby, was very warm. Ten kilometers of hills and snow and blue sky was exactly what he needed. Wrapping his scarf around his neck, Remus set out.
He let his mind drift while he walked. He focused on the horizon ahead and on a path in front of him. There must have been others in the area as the small path was clear in the snow. But Remus barely saw other people. He passed one old couple heading in the opposite direction and they exchanged polite nods and a small chat about the weather and the loveliness of the walk. Other than them, however, the world seemed empty.
The lake sparkled in the muted sunlight. There were clouds in the sky but they were not gloomy. This was why Remus loved winter. The world looked clean and so far removed from the war and death and bloodshed. Like anything was possible. The trees on the hills provided lovely pictures. Winter never looked like death to Remus. It was always a season full of possibilities. And grass and flowers under the surface just ready to grow again.
Remus breathed deeply, in and out, and let his thoughts be empty. He wanted to just be. But a part of his mind was looking around the path and searching for that spot. He wondered if that tree was still there, up on the hill where he could see the whole lake and the opposite shore and the more forested area.
There. After three hours of walking, Remus finally saw it. It was the tree. He remembered sitting under it. Well, with Sirius’s back against that tree with Sirius’s arms around him, looking at all that clean water.
Remus put his bag and the ski pole under the tree and stood a bit away looking around. Perfect. Nothing really changed in seventeen years. Except himself, of course. He was not the same nineteen year old, about to turn twenty, finding happiness in the chaos. The chaos came back but not much happiness was left, it seemed. The tree remained, and the lake and the snow. Sirius was gone.
Remus closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and tried to focus on the lake again. He heard a bird in the sky and looked up. The clouds were moving slowly and revealing clear cold winter sky in between them.
Remus lay down on the ground. He didn’t worry about the cold nor the snow and he didn’t bother getting the blanket. His coat was thick enough and he wanted to feel the ground under his gloves and head. He just wanted to be a part of the earth and to look at the sky.
The white clouds kept moving at a leisurely pace. After a while, it seemed to Remus like he could feel the Earth turning and spinning on its axis. Like the sky was static and it was the ground moving. And he was part of it, turning with the Earth. He could lie here forever. Just like this. Some cold was seeping into his body but it didn’t matter. He felt clean and empty of anything. He just was.
And then his mind drifted to another moment when he was lying in the snow on this very hill, except instead of seeing the sky, he was looking at the perfect clear grey of Sirius’s eyes, sparking with such joy.
“You know, I can never understand why walking in the cold is fun. It’s freezing. We should go back to the cottage. You can warm me up.” Sirius was complaining about the cold for the last few hours along with very rude and explicit suggestions of what they should be doing instead.
Remus did not bother replying. He liked watching the beautiful snowy scenery and Sirius walking beside him in his warm furry jacket with the red scarf, and listening to Sirius’ voice coming up with most imaginative things. Remus insisted on the hike since he refused to be cooped up all five days inside, especially on a crispy and sparkly day like this. Sirius finally agreed after some creative bribery.
Sirius grew quiet for a while and Remus glanced at him to make sure Sirius wasn’t planning something. But he seemed deep in thought. Remus just waited for Sirius to bring it up; it was always pointless to ask directly when Sirius got this pensive.
“I still can’t believe Lily’s knocked up. What were she and Prongs thinking? He’s only going to be twenty next month and it’s the middle of the war.” Sirius finally said. Remus was also shocked when right before James and Lily left for wherever they were going, they told him, Sirius and Peter about it. But shock quickly passed and he was just happy for his friends. At least he thought he understood the timing. Sirius, on the other hand, still remained incredulous. He just barely got over the fact than James and Lily got married and the wedding was almost a year ago.
“I think it is because of the war,” Remus said.
“What?” Sirius looked at him.
“Well, you know. They don’t want to waste time. It is not like they are the only ones our age having a child. And we’ll help. Babysit and all.”
“Hm. Prongs did ask if I’d be godfather,” Sirius said. He smirked, seemingly coming up with fun godfatherly things.
“Who else would he ask? Although Lily did look a little green at the prospect. Or it could have been morning sickness. No, definitely horror.” Remus poked Sirius with his elbow. Sirius swatted at his arm.
“I’d be a great godfather. I’ll spoil him rotten and take him up on my bike. Unlike some people he would appreciate it. Or she. I hope it’s a boy, though. I won’t know what to do with a girl.”
“I feel bad for him, or her, already. It is probably a good thing you would have to give him back to Lily and James when the day is over,” Remus said.
“Thank Merlin. That is why the universe ensured that I would never ever perpetuate the Black family line. I can’t imagine taking care of a kid full time. Prongs is bonkers.” Sirius looked delighted at the prospect of never having to make any big adult decisions.
“I’m sure there are rewards. Too much responsibility, though, especially now. They are young. But I get why they want a kid,” Remus said. They continued walking for a little while. Remus could see a scraggy tree up on the hill. When they reached it, Remus decided it was time to rest. He looked around and saw a magnificent view of a lake with a tiny island in the middle. Sirius was also looking at it and seemed to be appreciating the surroundings.
“Do you want kids?” Sirius suddenly said.
“Huh?” Remus was pulled back from his reverie with a shock. He was not expecting this turn in the conversation.
“Do you want kids? You know, ever.” Sirius turned to look at Remus and Remus could not read his expression. Sirius’ arms were wrapped around himself. “You could have kids someday, if you wanted. I mean, you actually like girls once in a while.”
Remus couldn’t believe that Sirius had to ask. Of all people in his life, he always felt that Sirius just knew him and he never really needed to talk about things like this. But right now Sirius was just looking at him intently like Remus’ answer worried him.
“No,” Remus said firmly. “I can’t. Well, I suppose I could have kids and everything. But I can’t. I won’t risk him or her being a werewolf.”
“That won’t happen,” Sirius said.
“You don’t know that. And I don’t want to take chances. I can live through it but I won’t deliberately give this fate to anyone else, even if there is only a small chance. I like kids and I’d be a good uncle but I won’t even think about it.” Remus remembered being ten and realizing that he could never have a family or friends. He was glad that he was wrong about the friends part. It was enough.
“Well, you could still meet a girl, and settle down and all that, if you wanted.” Sirius was getting the words out but Remus could see that it cost him some effort. He knew at that moment that he needed to actually say it because he couldn’t stand Sirius not knowing for sure and being this uncharacteristically uncertain.
“You’re an idiot,” he said.
“You’re a bloody idiot,” Remus smiled. “I don’t want anyone else. Not some girl or another boy, or anyone. I just want you. So no, I don’t want to settle down or any such nonsense. I wanted you since I was thirteen and I don’t think it would change now. Even when you are being an idiot.”
“I was just saying,” Sirius said. He let his arms down and he started smiling. Remus decided to go for broke. He told himself that he was a Gryffindor and Sirius would never have to doubt him again even if this scared him away forever.
“I love you.”
Sirius’ eye widened. He didn’t say anything for a moment but Remus could see his smile grow even wider. And then Remus was lying on the ground in the snow because all twelve stone of Sirius was on him and it took a moment for Remus to catch his breath. And then that breath was stolen from him because Sirius was kissing him. And he kept kissing him with what felt like everything he had. Finally, Sirius stopped kissing him but didn’t get up. He was looking down at Remus and Remus was looking at his beautiful grey eyes. And then Sirius took a deep breath and said, “I love you, too, Moony.” And then he laughed in that barking laugh of his.
Remus could not speak. He felt happiness rising in every pore of his body and it was constricting his throat. He lifted one of his arms and pulled Sirius’s head down for another kiss hoping it would convey his happiness.
When they pulled up for air the second time, Sirius started laughing again.
“I never said it to anyone before. It feels weird,” Sirius said. Then he hastened to add, “But good weird.”
Remus raised an eyebrow, “Oh, please, you said it to Lucy Stonefield in the sixth year in the common room. You were trying to get into her knickers.”
“Hey, I was confused and it didn’t count. I was just trying to see if she could help me stop fancying Michael, the Ravenclaw keeper. Or make me forget how you looked in your pajamas. Mostly you, though.”
“Sure, why not.” Remus was trying hard to keep a straight face. His back was getting a little cold but he wrapped his arms even tighter around Sirius.
“I didn’t mean it, really. So it didn’t count.” Sirius tried to act offended that Remus would question his intentions but failed after a few seconds and they both broke down laughing.
“I mean it now,” Sirius said after they calmed down. Then he smirked and added, “And I already got into your knickers so I have to mean it.”
Remus smacked his head. Sirius pretended it hurt.
“I know you do.” Remus looked at Sirius above him with all his affection shining though his eyes. “I know you mean it. I do too.”
Sirius leaned down to kiss him again.
Remus lay there on the ground with his eyes wide open but he could still feel Sirius’ weight on him and could still see that smile. He didn’t remember a smile that wide again. He tried to think back. Maybe when Harry was born. The world did catch up with them soon after.
Remus himself certainly never had that moment of perfect happiness in the seventeen years since. Yes, he was happy on many other occasions, especially when Sirius came back to him, but it was never like that. That was probably the best moment of his entire life, if he had to pick one, right here in the snow on a hill by the tree. And it was worth absolutely everything. Even this grief. Even the memory of Sirius falling into the veil right in front of him.
He closed his eyes and let the memory of Sirius laughing fill him again. He could live in this moment. He knew then this place was where he wanted to be after he died. He should ask in his will for his ashes to be scattered here so that he could be in this moment forever.
A bird call pulled Remus away into the present again. He sat up. His back was cold and he rubbed his gloved hands together. There were more clouds in the sky now and the sun was overhead. The hills in the distance looked empty and beautiful. Remus got up and went to his rucksack to get some food and some water. He took the blanket out and put half of it under the tree while wrapping the other half around himself to warm up.
After another ten minutes he was ready to go. He packed everything back up and stood looking at the view again.
He felt calm for the first time in a very long time. He realized that he was no longer sad nor angry, as if he left it all in the snow. He smiled at that. Maybe Dumbledore was right after all. Now that anger was not simmering under the surface, he could recognize that it was missing. He wasn’t angry at the world that Sirius died or at the unfairness of it all. He was angry at Sirius for being reckless and risking it all. He was angrier at Sirius lately than when Sirius went to Azkaban. But no longer. He loved Sirius and if Sirius wasn’t reckless he wouldn’t have been Sirius. Long ago, Remus admired that trait. And now he didn’t have to suppress all those memories unlike the first time Sirius left.
Sirius was in every fiber of his being and Remus knew that no matter where his life would go from this point on, Sirius would always be there with him.
He felt clean like the world around him. He started to walk back toward the cottage and he finally let all the good memories fill him.