Obligatory Disclaimer: The characters belong to JK Rowling (although I don't think she quite saw them in this way) without permission and without malice. While I wish I could make money off of it, none is being earned and this piece is strictly for entertainment purposes; suing me would be pointless as I have no assets except my mind and I dare you to try and get it. The original story line this one follows (with permission) is "Pledges" by Amireal and I have tried to maintain the storyline continuity and to establish some fixed-action patterns (a fancy psych term for habits) for our ironic, errant professor and his irrepressible, but sometimes overenthusiastic husband. I tried to write the story as a stand alone piece , but if you are confused (or even if you're not), I would suggest you read the most excellent "Pledges" before this one as the story is set wholly in Amireal's World, many, many years in the future.
Author's Notes:This story is set wholly in Amireal's World, many, many years in the future and concerns the continuation of the relationship of our ironic, errant professor and his irrepressible, but sometimes overenthusiastic husband. Amireal has written a lovely love story and you really should read it.
Yes, I know the Prologue is really weird and really depressing, but necessary--don't worry--it's the only piece like it in the whole story.
My thanks to my betas--Haldolpoim and Rainyshiny.
Bring Me To Life : A Continuation
A Harry Potter Fan Fiction
By I Got Tired of Waiting
Breathe Into Me and Make Me Real
Hot slick heat.
Churning masses of fire and smoke.
Each breath burning his lungs.
Bands of steel tightening around his chest.
Tightening, tightening, the burning getting worse--can't breathe--
Harry woke up suffocating. Panicking, he clawed at the bands of iron surrounding his throat and chest, making it impossible to breathe and instead of encountering hot edges of metal, his hands met hard muscled arms wrapped tight around his chest and neck, straining as they pulled Harry taut against Severus' chest.
"Severus, wake up," he called as he desperately tried to break the stranglehold he had on him. "Severus! Wake UP!" he yelled loudly, the arms tightening even further. The heat from his body was excruciating as more and more of him came into contact with it.
Heat? Hot? He could now feel the searing heat radiating out of Severus. Something's wrong, he thought panicked further. The arms still would not release him and as he continued to call Severus' name to him in a desperate bid to wake him, he squirmed and wriggled his sweaty body down the bed until he slipped out of the grasp of the burning hot arms of his lover.
[[*Severus?*]] He called him in his mind--he could sometimes reach him in his dreams this way--but, he received no response this time. After lighting the lamps in the room with a hurried spell, he knelt by Severus' side, touching and feeling all over his body, stunned at the fevered heat radiating out of every pore. Even his eyes look hot and dry, he thought, pulling the lids back. Severus moaned and Harry had just a few seconds of hope thinking that Severus might be waking, when his body convulsed, back arched off the bed at an impossible height. Severus yelled out one "NO" before collapsing back onto the bed, his body limp and still.
Panicked beyond anything he'd ever felt, Harry ran a hand through his unruly hair before tentatively stretching out his hand to see--
Oh thank the gods, he's still breathing, he thought as he saw the chest flutter, but other than that, there was no sign of life in his husband. Must get help, get Seth. He will know what to do.
He hurriedly went over to the fireplace, ignoring the sharp pain in his hips, grabbed some Floo Powder and threw it gracelessly into the remaining embers of the fire saying "Setherus."
Answering the Floo compulsion, Seth's sleepy face appeared in the fire. "Harry! Whatever is the matter?"
"It's Severus, he's very sick. Has a high fever and convulsions, I need your help."
"I'm on my way," he calmly said, fully awake, as his head disappeared from the fire.
On his way--good. Harry thought. Looking down, he realised his state of complete undress. Clothes, clothes would be good. He hurriedly dressed in the handiest thing he could find--robes, black tee, and trousers from the day before when he'd finished packing. Standing by the bed, he dressed. As he was fastening the boots, an urgent knock sounded at the front door.
Shit, I forgot to remove the Floo-lock on the fireplace--how stupid of me!
Harry ran through the suite and threw the door open. He stepped aside as Seth swept into the apartment, breathing hard from his run from the infirmary to their quarters, and strode through the living room into the bedroom beyond. He rushed to the bed as Severus was caught in another convulsion, worse than the one Harry had seen.
Seth, with a mighty effort, rolled Severus onto his side and pried his mouth open, placing a short length of thick wood on his tongue to prevent him from biting or swallowing it. Severus writhed on the bed, the convulsions continuing unabated, hands clawing the air and latching onto the thing nearest him--Seth's wand arm.
Motioning Harry to come stand next to him, they pried Severus' hands off of Seth and onto Harry as Seth needed his hands free. While Harry held the piece of wood and steadied Severus' hands, Seth drew his wand and said, "Finis Rictus." Immediately, Severus' body stopped mid-convulsion and he fell limply back onto the bed, his mouth open taking in harsh gulping breaths.
Still breathing deeply himself, Seth ran his hands over Severus' naked body. Feeling the unusual heat, he closed his eyes and with his hands splayed on Severus' chest, let his extra senses take in Severus' condition. 105 degrees and rising, he thought. Through bones and organs, brain and nervous systems, his ran through every inch of the very sick man in front of him. Finally pulling them back into himself, he asked Harry, "How long has he been like this?"
"I don't know. It's now, what? 5:00 AM? Ron and Hermione left at 10:00 PM and we," he flushed, "We--retired--sometime after midnight--I think. I woke up 15 minutes ago. He was holding me so tight he was choking me, cutting off my breathing. I'd been dreaming of fire, hot fire. When I woke up and finally shimmied away from him, he was like this, so hot. Then he had one convulsion, but nothing like this last one. And, then I called you." he finished lamely.
Seth considered and then asked, "And, nothing else? Was he feeling poorly earlier?"
Shaking his head, 'no', Harry asked, "What's wrong with him?"
"I don't know, right now. Other than the obvious symptoms, I can't--sense--anything else wrong with him--just the fever and the fever-induced convulsions. I won't lie to you Harry, his fever is very, very high--dangerous to anyone, let alone a man of his age. Let's get him to the infirmary, where I can examine him better and test him further."
At Harry's nod, Seth transfigured a stretcher while Harry grabbed Severus' favorite duvet off the bed. They levitated him onto the stretcher and covered him with the thick comforter. Together, one on each side, they transported Severus to the infirmary through the silent, moonlit halls, meeting no one. Harry held Severus' limp hand firmly throughout the entire surreal journey.
Reaching the infirmary, Angela Weasley stepped out of the office and rushed over to help Seth transfer the patient to the bed in the back private room. Not much had changed since the days Harry and Severus had struggled against the spell here, if anything, it was smaller, more compact as its use shifted from healing those injured against the Dark Lord, to those suffering Quidditch wounds or the rare illness from the village of Hogsmeade .
After getting him settled, Seth and Angela began to run a series of tests using spells and their senses. They would have liked to shoo Harry from the room, but dared not. Despite his age, Harry was still the most powerful wizard ever seen and was quite formidable when crossed. So they worked around him.
The most powerful wizard, feeling at this moment quite helpless, sat by the bedside oblivious to the activity around him. He was getting a bad feeling from this whole situation and with each passing minute, he watched Severus get sicker and sicker. That he himself was not sick confounded him. And, scared him if truth be told. He didn't--feel--Severus' fever, did not--feel--the convulsions racking his body. He felt--separate. He didn't like it--not one little bit.
Test after test, spell after spell. Nothing improved his condition. The most they were able to do was to halt the escalation of his fever, which had soared even higher than it had been when Seth had examined him in their rooms. The convulsions, caused by the fever, were stopped as soon as they started, each one weakening the man further as his body fought to throw off the furnace it had inside.
Around mid-morning, Ron and Hermione ran into the infirmary.
"Oh Harry, what happened? We waited for you at breakfast and when you didn't show, we looked everywhere for you both. Finally, Remus found us and told us you were here. He's outside guarding the entrance to keep people out," she ended in a rush.
She gasped when she saw the dullness in Harry's eyes as he stood up, stretched, and turned to look at her. "I don't know, Hermione. THEY don't know. He's burning up with fever and convulsing from it. Other than that, they can find nothing wrong with him." He paused and continued so quietly, Ron and Hermione had to lean in to hear him, "They won't say, but I think he's dying. He's--separate from me. He's NEVER separate from me--and after last night when we--" his voice trailed off. "Damn it, if he's sick, I'm sick. If I'm sick, he's sick--" With confused distress he cried, "Oh gods, WHAT'S WRONG with him? With us?" he choked.
Ron and Hermione closed in, one on each side, and embraced him tightly, pouring out all the love they had for him and Severus. He resisted for a moment and then relaxed into their embrace, which while very different, did offer a strong measure of comfort. They stayed that way for a long time. When they broke the contact, they both gave his dry eyes watery glances.
Seth strode into the room with a tray and exclaimed, "I am SO glad to see you two. Maybe you can talk some sense into him; he's refused to eat anything."
Ron held up his hands in surrender, "Oh no you don't. Far be it from me to tell Harry Potter what to do," he chuckled at the look on Seth's face. "When he's hungry he'll eat, I've never known him to miss a meal he--wanted."
Hermione laughed at this and Harry gave him a mock glare before laughing with them. He felt like he hadn't laughed in years. Was it only last night we sat with aching bellies and jaws?
He was so tired, both in body and soul.
The tests continued throughout the rest of the morning and the afternoon; spells literally flew as cure after cure was thrown into the problem trying to reduce the raging fever, which (while stable) had not come down at all. The convulsions were finally stopped though, and Harry was grateful he no longer had to witness them.
He still felt strange only being able to experience this through himself. Not having Severus in his head, making his usual snide comments and mental caresses was wrenching; he'd never known until now just how lonely and empty one person could be. He briefly wondered, as he watched Seth try one more cure, how he, with Lenore gone these past two years, was able to withstand his solitude.
Ron and Hermione refused to leave and so the room was expanded to include more chairs and a couple of extra beds in case anyone wanted to sleep. Every now and then, one or another would come over to touch Severus or offer Harry their support, which he gratefully accepted. He felt better with them around. Their embraces no longer embarrassed him and he no longer felt the urge to pull away, especially when Hermione touched him.
Shortly after sundown, a weary Remus with his wife Arabella came in to join them. Arabella went over to the other side of Severus and with her customary calm, sat down on the side of the bed, took his hand, and gently brushed his free flowing hair away from his face where an errant breeze from the open window had stirred it across his face.
She is so strong, Harry thought, watching her bend over and kiss Severus on the forehead, murmuring words to him no one else could hear. Remus came over to stand by her side, his arm around her shoulder, pulling her into his side.
Harry felt himself fold inside with pain as he watched the love flow freely between them. It was almost more than he could bear with Severus lying there so--separate--from him. Arabella, with her sixth sense about such things, took one look at the anguished face, the eyes closed against seeing them, rose quietly from the bed and taking Remus' hand, they walked quietly back to Ron and Hermione, where in hushed tones, they caught-up on what had happened while they were away.
They gave Harry his privacy and did not disturb him for a while
In the late evening, after Ron and Hermione had unself-consciously retired to one of the comfortable double beds in the room, and Remus and Arabella had retired to their own chambers, Severus woke up.
Eyes burning with the fever, he let them roam over the ceiling and the whiteness of it all. Confused, he looked around and saw Harry sitting on the side of the bed he was lying in, his hands on his, his head drooped against his chest in sleep. Since Harry had become an early riser late in life, Severus allowed himself the rare opportunity to just watch him--sleep. When did he get so old? When didI get so old?
He watched for quite a while, feeling the surfacing of the deep emotions he had for this man, his husband. Each passing day, year, had entwined their love, their faith in each other, tangling it more and more until he realised that Harry was a true extension of himself; that one would never survive the ending of the other. Now what brought that to mind? Am I near the end?
He moved his hand slightly and Harry jerked awake. Dark Eyes Met Green Eyes. Words were never spoken.
[[*You look like hell, love.*]] Severus thought at him, his hand entwining with Harry's. [[*Why am I here?*]]
With sick relief at hearing Severus, he thought, [[*You're sick. Can't you feel it?*]]
[[*No. No, not really. I feel rather light. I feel no pain. I AM cold though, oh so cold. Have you enough blankets?*]]
[[*You silly old man, we have those and warming spells on you; any more and we'll suffocate you.*]]
[[*Oh, that's all right, then. I'm still cold, though. I have been having the strangest dream--one of war--most unpleasant. Has there been a battle?*]]
Harry looked startled a moment, but then thought, [[*No, only the war being waged is inside you right now. Do you know why you are so sick? Was it bad food, or poison, or anything like that?*]]
[[*I didn't know I was sick, am sick. Stupid boy, you still don't listen, never did, I've already told you that. Told the Headmaster your inattentiveness would get us into trouble some day. Got us into trouble, it did, too. Poison? No I don't think so, have not worried about that in years.*]]
Harry saw panic set in Severus eyes. [[*Harry, I can't move anymore. Why can't I move?*]] Severus hand twitched in his.
[[*You are. See, your hand just moved.*]]
Real panic: [[*Why can't I feel it, feel you? Oh gods Harry, make me feel you,*]]
Harry bent down and placed a tender, lingering kiss on Severus' lips. [[*Better?*]] he asked.
[[*No. Harry, what's happening? Why can't I feel you? I don't feel real anymore--why don't I feel real?*]] Severus was gasping, his breathing shallow, his wild panicked eyes fixed on Harry's face.
At a loss, Harry looked over at Ron and Hermione, who were half out of the bed. With a shake of his head and a wave of his left hand at them, he told them with a glance not to come over. Unhappy, with an air of resignation, they complied, sitting back in their bed. As he went to return his hand to the bed, he felt a burning pain in his fingers. Looking down at the ring on his left hand, he saw it glow for a moment before resuming its normal ornate appearance.
He flashed to the defeat of Voldemort--he and Severus--sitting against the parapet--rings touching--minds and powers melding--sending a fatal attack to the Dark Lord. He remembered--Severus holding him--mating the rings--feeling the power return to his aching limbs after setting the wards--
Would that work, would the rings help? I should have thought of this before-- Getting up from his side of the bed, Harry leaned against it and perching on the edge, facing the foot, he reached over Severus and placed his left palm over Severus' left hand, fitting them together, fingers entwined, rings touching.
A surge of power flowed up out of him into Severus. He could feel the energy tingling through their hands. As the exchange continued, he felt light-headed, euphoric even. He glanced back at Severus, whose eyes were closed in the manner Harry was used to seeing when he was concentrating before a spell or a complicated potion. His eyes opened and locked, black to green, the panic ebbing from his face, until all remaining was calm dark eyes.
The flow stopped--abruptly. Harry felt bereft. He hesitantly removed his hand from Severus' and, when nothing untoward happened, he rose and repositioned himself at his side facing him. His one hand, with a will of its own, dropped softly onto Severus' forehead, gently brushing the strands of hair off of his face. His other trailed across his chest to settle on the other side, providing a convenient prop. Severus weakly lifted a hand to this arm and laid it along the front of Harry's under the sleeve of his robes, his hot hand lightly stroking the warm skin it found under there near the inside of his elbow.
Harry felt the customary shivers he always did when Severus paid attention to that area. Without thought, he leaned in and firmly kissed Severus, his tongue lending moisture to his heated mouth, his lips capturing Severus' bottom one as he pulled away. Severus sighed deeply on a low rumble.
Harry smiled at this low sound; he loved reducing Severus to gasps and groans. [[*Better now?*]]
[[*Much better--I can feel that--very nice. And I am warmer. Thank you--was so cold--I am so tired--Just want to sleep.*]] His eyes slowly started to close.
Panic, now from Harry, [[*Severus, you're not leaving are you?*]]
Softly, faintly, [[*No, I am here--*]]
[[*You are here--*]] Harry thought.
[[*We are together,*]] Severus finished. [[*I will never leave you. I can't leave you. I promise.*]] His eyes closed, the arm-stroking stopped and his hand fell away from Harry's arm, leaving a disagreeable cooling spot on Harry's skin.
[[*Severus? Severus!*]] "SEVERUS!" There was no reply. But, their hands were still entwined and Harry began to feel the first edges of hope. Severus will never leave me. He promised. And, he is an honourable man.
After reassuring Ron and Hermione that everything was as well as could be and explaining what had just happened, he fell into a light sleep still sitting on the bed, never noticing that while he'd--talked--to Severus, they'd still been--Separate .
Near midnight, after conferring with Medi-folk from all over the world, Seth approached the bed. He looked like a man defeated. Shoulders slumping, he touched Harry's shoulder and when he raised his head to stare up at him, Seth looked him in the eyes, clear deep grey to weary haunted green, saying, "I am so sorry, Harry, there is nothing more we can do."
Harry gazed deep into his eyes, reading his very soul it seemed, and said softly, "I know Seth. Thank you for everything you have done, I know you did your best." He turned back to the unmoving figure on the bed.
Seth stared at him for a long moment, his heart heavy for he dearly loved the old Headmaster and Harry, they'd been so much a part of his life, when growing up and then here at the school, his one and only position; the bonds between their families, unbreakable. He placed his hand comfortingly on Harry's shoulder. Harry's free hand came up and covered it for a few moments and patting it, went back to the other hand on the bed.
Seth then quietly slipped to the far corner of the room to a chair by his parents, who were both sitting on the side of their bed. His mother leaned over and kissed his cheek, his father took his hand, both silently reaffirming their love for him. He took small comfort in their affection and wished for the thousandth time that he'd been able to DO something. He'd felt like this when Lenore had faded from him, dying of a wasting illness no one had been able to identify, let alone treat. He sat there for a minute and then thinking of something he could do, he get up and left the infirmary to get Remus and his wife. It would not be so long now.
Seth, with Ron, Hermione, Arabella, and Remus kept vigilance with him. Their eyes and faces were wet with the tears they sporadically shed as they watched Harry try to bring Severus back. There was a desperate futility in his movements and in the soft murmured words and long silent glances he gave to him. Severus never moved, never spoke the entire time they watched, his body too weak to even convulse. Every now and then one of them would go to Harry and touch him, trying to tell him with unspoken gestures that they were there, that they wanted Severus back, too.
Seth, especially, knew what Harry was feeling--his own loss was still raw even after two years; they'd only had eighteen years together. He knew too, the pointlessness of hanging on to someone when their time had come, even if it was not the time you wanted.
Over the course of the next long hours, Harry sat at the side of the bed, holding Severus' hand, which was still entwined from before with his. He lovingly brushed the hair back off his high forehead still ablaze with fever and frequently trailed his fingers across burning lips. He would cup the high cheekbones and every now and then he would lean in to kiss the stern brow, feather his lips with light kisses, and hold his own cool cheek next to Severus' hot one.
He could feel Severus and his hope slipping away from him, each hour making the part of him that Harry loved, smaller and smaller until the last hour, there was not much of him left. Unable to stand it any longer, Harry, without thought of those around him, quietly climbed into the bed next to Severus, insinuating himself next to his side, his head on his fevered shoulder, his arm around his burning waist. They stayed like that for quite some time.
Harry was only marginally aware of Ron and Hermione sitting next to him, stroking his back, their hands touching him, giving him all the love they knew how. He barely felt Remus' hand on his head, caressing the silver strands away from his face. He only sensed, but did not see Seth at the foot of the bed giving him support with his grieving eyes and his stalwart presence.
Just before dawn, less than two days after he had awakened Harry in their rooms, Harry tried aligning the rings once more. Unlike his previous tries throughout the long night, he felt a tiny surge of power and Severus turned his head, his eyes opening and staring straight into Harry's eyes. His dark eyes pleaded with green ones to understand.
[[*I love you,*]] softly entered into his head.
Harry replied, choking on unshed tears, [[*I know. I love you back.*]]
Severus closed his eyes, at peace. Softly--so softly, Harry had to lean in to hear him, he breathed "Insolent brat," a small smile on his lips--and then he breathed no more.
The power of the rings was spent.
Harry lay there in shock. No. No. This can't be. [[*SEVERUS!*]] The cry tore through his mind finding no response. [[*Severus, NO! Come Back Right Now!*]] There was still no response and Harry realised emptily that there never would be.
"NO! Severus, no--come back." Shudders ran through his body as the message warped through it that the other half of his soul was truly gone. He clutched at his body as if he would never let go. He shook off the hands trying to separate him from Severus.
"Damn you Severus! Don't leave me alone! You promised we'd always be together. Why? Oh God, why?" he cried hitting the bed with his fist, head buried in Severus' still warm chest. The hands were trying to pull him away again and he resisted with every fiber of his being.
Ron and Hermione, hearing the final death rattle, had stood on either side of Harry and for one moment they could feel the deep searing emptiness threatening to engulf their friend. They looked at each other, tears streaming down their faces, and then as one, gently tried to untangled Harry from Severus on the bed. Seth, standing off to the side to give them some privacy, stepped forward to help them and after quite a fight, he, Remus, and Ron got Harry standing up at the side of the bed.
Seth took one hard look at the hollow, wild-eyed man in front of him before instantly coming to the decision to sedate him. Walking over to a shelf, he pulled down a potion, and turning back to Remus and Ron, softly said, "Hold him firmly for a moment."
As they tightened their grip on his arms and shoulders, Seth pulled his wand and muttered "Sopophorus Unus." Harry's eyes glazed over and he lightly sagged against their support.
"Let's get him over to that bed over there," he directed, pointing at the one in the far corner, surprised the spell had less effect than it should. "We could just levitate him there, but it will go better for him if he can make it there under his own power."
Gently, they steered the now unresisting Harry over to the other bed. They sat him down on the edge, and Seth knelt in front of him, taking his hands.
"Harry, can you hear me?" He was answered by a small nod. "Harry, I am so sorry, please let me help you forget for a little while." Again, another nod. Thank Merlin, Seth thought, thinking of the havoc there would have been if he'd had to fight Harry with the Potion.
"All right Harry, I want you to drink this potion for me; it will help you." Harry shook his head 'No'.
Trying a different, more dangerous tack, he said, "Harry, Severus has made a potion for you to stop the hurting, please take it."
Harry lifted his head, and with bitter anguish in his eyes, took the potion out of Seth's hands, drinking the acrid liquid down in one gulp. "There--I hope, he's satisfied," was all he said. The potion took effect immediately.
Seth and Ron eased his limp body back on the bed and covered him up with a soft blanket. Ron stood staring at his dearest friend for a long moment. He leaned down and brushed the hair off his forehead exposing the faint remnants of the scar Harry had borne all these years. Leaning in a little further, he gently kissed him on the forehead. He straightened slowly, his back protesting the motion. Tears streaming from his eyes, he watched Hermione do the same and when she was finished they turned to Seth and held each other tightly for a long, long time.
The next day, they made all the arrangements with direction from Harry during the few lucid moments he had in and out of the sedation they kept him under. They could not look for long at his dull lifeless eyes and each time he came up out of the potions, he would be clear for an hour or so before dissolving into his mind, a mind where Severus was still alive.
It tore at their hearts to see him talking like an old man to the air as if Severus was right there beside him. And, for all they knew, maybe he was. The spell did funny things to people. Eventually, Seth after looking him over and despite seeing him waste away before his eyes inevitably administered another potion, even knowing each dose weakened Harry further.
Part Of Me Is Fighting This, But Part Of Me Is Gone
When your education x-ray cannot see under my skin
I won't tell you a damn thing that I could not tell my friends
Roaming through this darkness I'm alive but I'm alone
Part of me is fighting this, but part of me is gone
Excerpt from "Love Me When I'm Gone"
By 3 Doors Down
He opened his eyes blearily. He was lying in a comfortable bed, but judging from the light level, it was not his room; it was too bright. Much too bright; he closed his eyes in discomfort. He wondered briefly why he was there, why he was not in his quarters when noises from outside the room gave him his first clue--he was in the infirmary.
For the life of him, he couldn't remember why he was here or why he felt so fuzzy, almost drugged. Definitely drugged, he thought, tasting the copper in his dry cottony mouth. Come to think of it, my head hurts, too. He rummaged around in his memory and drew a big zero--no, he didn't remember why he was here.
Or why he was awake for that matter. He remembered he was supposed to be asleep. But, something had awakened him. Or someone. He shrugged. He couldn't remember.
GET OUT OF BED
He got out of the bed, stood, looked around--he was alone. For some reason that was significant, but he--he smiled--it was becoming a mantra--he couldn't remember. Deciding that not remembering didn't bother him all that much, he made his slow way to the door.
NOT THAT WAY, ANOTHER WAY.
Why not that way? He didn't know, it wasn't important.
THEY'LL WORRY IF YOU'RE GONE.
What? Oh, I'll need an effigy.
He looked at the bed and muttered a spell and there he was in the bed. Only it wasn't him, it was--him--or at least looked like him--in the bed. Somehow this was important.
USE THE FIREPLACE.
Oh that would be good--then I don't have to use the door. Walking to the fireplace, he grabbed a handful of the powder, tossed it into the fire burning in the grate, and said, "Harry's Work Room".
The grates went whizzing by, making him dizzy and when they finally stopped flashing, he stumbled out into a study. A very tidy study. It somehow did not feel right--it should not be this clean. The room felt empty, unused, scrubbed of the personality of the person who had spent nearly 20 years of his working life here.
There was a huge work table in the center, cleared of any current work, a large circle embedded in the top. A tall cabinet on the side had closed doors and there were several bookcases, empty, along the other wall.
MAKE OUR REMEMBRANCE.
Our? Who was us? Oh, well, I guess I'll find that out when I make it. Whatever IT is.
USE THE FILMS.
All right, he could do that. He went to the press on the wall to his right and muttering a key spell, he opened the doors and saw hundreds of films, each in slender wooden boxes, like books. Films I made over the years. It didn't bother him at all that they were still there; he didn't know it had been done on purpose, the memories contained therein a living record, a legacy left by the former occupant who no longer needed or wanted them.
Which one? His hands touched the spines of the first four rows. On the fifth, he found one that felt right. He took it out and put it on the table.
GET THE BOOK.
Book, what book? There's no book in here.
He walked from the work room to another room beyond. He found himself in an elegant room, the furniture old, but lovingly maintained. Dark vibrant rugs were scattered all over the floor, some Persian, some of them soft tufted silk. The silk ones were by the fireplace, which was unlit. He shivered in the cold of the room, which felt as if it had been unused, unoccupied for quite some time, the occupants long gone.
Next to the ancient couch facing the fireplace was a table. On the table were two snifters and a half-empty decanter of brandy. The sight made him uneasy for a moment, like he was a trespasser and the owners of the room were going to be home soon.
He spied another table between the couch and the other love seat sitting at right angles to it--on it a pile of brown paper. Drawn to it, he saw that there was heavy, leather-bound book in the middle of the wrappings. Old by the look of it, too. He picked it up and took it back to his table in the other room.
MAKE IT NOW, YOU'VE NOT MUCH TIME.
He took the slim film out of its case. Muttering the activation spell, it unfolded it front of him levitating in the air before his eyes, flat like a piece of paper on a desk. It began to cycle through its contents, the three dimensional images springing up from its flat surface, viewed in miniature. He watched the action. He didn't know who the three people on the film were, but he admired their skill; it was quite beautiful to watch.
When the film was finished, a dormant platform was in front of him awaiting his order. He left it there, hanging in the air.
He opened the book and looked at all the pictures in there. He wished he could remember who all the people were, but there were some really provocative photos of a couple of guys--
YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TIME TO BE DISTRACTED. MAKE THE MEMORIES.
Distracted? By what? The photos? I'm not distracted, I just like them. Especially this one--the last one in the book. I must definitely use it. Maybe at the end?
Giving it some thought and drawing on knowledge he didn't remember with his mind, he began to weave a spell that would allow him to merge the film he'd made with the photos.
He didn't remember he was the one who'd perfected the technique of the moving pictures, not flat Wizarding photos, but real movies like he'd gone to as a child, only solid somehow.
He didn't recall how he'd learned to capture his memories and the memories of others in the film, not just the events themselves, but also a way to include himself in them as if viewed by a third party; it had been fairly easy to do once he'd learned how to look at himself dispassionately through the eyes of another. The film was just another form of the Pensieve.
It had been an amusing thing to do, to while away the time as he waited. Although he'd left copious notes on his techniques, he could not know that the magic to weave what he was doing had come from deep within him, drawn on a particular type of magic not many could tap. While the films already finished could be viewed using the simple instructions he left on every box, it would be centuries before anyone figured out how to duplicate his efforts.
First the picture, then the action, then the memories--weave them all together.
Time after time he repeated his litany as one by one, the photos were added, augmented by his memories. Then, after an interminable time, he stepped back from his work, satisfied.
He took the resultant film, and casting one last spell, it rolled into itself until it looked like an ordinary roll of parchment, the edge sealed to the body with the glyph of a long snarling snake, mouth open, fangs exposed, wrapped around the muscular body of a roaring lion, fangs snapping, crouched and ready to spring, their two faces--the snake on top, the lion's underneath--touching, and facing outward, glaring, as if readying to fight an unseen enemy.
It's done. Now what?
TAKE IT TO THE OFFICE.
Oh. He took the roll of parchment and went back into the elegant living room and passing through it, he entered another room through an ornate door that wasn't there if you weren't looking for it. Only one other person had access to it.
The huge room didn't feel right, although he could not say why. There's something missing. He shrugged. It was unimportant.
Walking past the empty shelves, hundreds of shelves, all once carrying books, there used to be thousands of books here. I wonder where they all went to?
Past the lone writing desk in the center, right up to the fireplace along one wall, where two battered wing chairs with waiting poufs were comfortably arranged to receive the weary bodies of the two who used this room more than any other. It, like the living room, was cold, the fire unlit. He shivered at the eerie feeling of the room.
The hearth. That was where he was going. Inlaid into the deep stone hearth, just past the poufs was a circle of lighter stone, just large enough for his feet. He stepped into the circle, facing the room and could feel the tingle of the magic contained within. He could see the entire room from where he stood, all the recesses, all the nooks and crannies--there'd been a reason for that, but he could not recall what it was. He just knew he had to leave--soon.
Visualising where he wanted to go, he disappeared from the room--
--and entered another. Crowded and messy it had trinkets and magical devices all over. An orrery. Huge, made of precious metals and stones, its sun glowing in the candlelight. And a desk--large, imposing, the legs made of entwined snakes running up the sides, turning to form the apron running around all four sides.
There was a man at the desk, his back to him. His lean frame was bent over some task, something he was writing, the quill coming back at regular intervals to dip into the ink. He stopped for a moment and rubbed the back of his neck, then resumed his writing. The hair was a wavy dark brown peppered with grey, a small bald spot beginning in the back. The traditional robes he wore, a deep blue edged in green. Bright robes. The wrong robes.
The wrong man, he should not be here. He couldn't bring himself to move to find out who it was. Instead, he silently turned in place, and spied the inlaid credenza off to the side, its top the only empty thing in the room. That was wrong, too. It should be piled with rolls of parchment.
LEAVE IT WHERE HE'LL FIND IT.
Who will find it? The man at the desk?
Noiselessly, he glided over to the credenza and placed the parchment carefully down on the empty top. It looked lonely there. He looked longingly at it before turning back to enter the circle on the floor he'd just left. He felt like he was leaving something important behind, and for a second he hesitated, wanting to go and snatch it back.
GO BACK TO BED, YOUR TASK IS FINISHED.
Sighing deeply, resigned, he visualised where he needed to be and disappeared from the room--
--and was back in the infirmary, back by the side of the bed he'd left hours before. He saw himself sleeping peacefully and with a sweep of his hand, the effigy disappeared. Hearing voices approach the room he was in, he climbed back into the bed, pulled the covers over him, swam in the vortex pulling him down, and resumed his drugged sleep as if he'd never been away.
Colin sat at the desk in the Headmaster's office, feeling very uncomfortable. For one, the chair was wrong. It had been made for and worn-in by a different man whose very essence was buried in the seat almost as much as the imprint left by his buttocks. He'd expected difficulties filling Severus'--shoes , but this--?
The second was the desk itself. While he admired the style, finding the Slytherin snakes clever and appropriate, the shallow groove worn into the top from over a century of the same man writing here at the same place was wrong for the way he wrote, the angle lower. Severus had obviously been left-handed like him, but wrote with his hand on the bottom, not at the top of the lettering the way Colin did. It was very different and his arm kept sliding into the groove as he reached the end of each line.
Of course, he could fix all these things with a simple spell, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. It wouldn't be right somehow. So he left it as it was and coped. He was good at coping.
And he needed to finish this. There was not much time left until he would need to use it and he wanted it done and in his head before he was called upon to recite the words he was forming on the parchment. There would be time enough, after everything was all said and done, for him to remove the all furniture and replace it with his own.
Remove everything, the clutter of the years, all of it to be turned over to Remus, the historian. Harry had already made it clear in one moment of lucidity that he did not want anything from this room, that it rightly belonged to the community and that Colin was welcome to take what he wanted and give the rest to Remus for safekeeping. Colin certainly did not want the reminders around, the things so personal, he would be almost glad to remove the detritus of another lifetime.
Colin glanced up at the orrery, glittering in the candlelight, silent for now. Except that. That I keep. It has always been here, its age unknown. The legacy of the Headmasters before him, filled with the wisdom of his predecessors, its accuracy uncanny. Woven into the power of the Earth Stone itself by Severus. An intimidating inheritance.
Colin shook the sense of time off and resumed writing the Memorial Service speech he was expected to make, when a soft waft of cold air brushed gently across the back of his neck. He straightened from his task, rubbing the stiffness away; he didn't look behind him.
Draughty old castle, he thought, I must get the House Elves up here to seal the cracks.
Strangely uneasy, he went back to his task. After writing a few more lines, arm sliding into the groove each time, he heard a deep, lonely sigh and then another breath of cold air on his neck. Springing from the chair and whirling around, he confronted the--
--air. For an infinitesimal instant, he'd thought he'd seen someone, the ghostly image of a lone person. No one was there. He shook off the frisson of otherworldliness, shaking his head at his fancies. Stupid castle really had me going there for a minute. Must be one of the ghosts, maybe Peeves.
He did not see the portal in the floor. He'd not got that far in Severus' papers and notes. Until he did, he would NOT see it. Only Harry and Severus had known of their existence having set them all over the huge castle to make it easier to get around.
As he was about to go back to the desk, almost convinced he'd imagined it, he found his attention drawn to the credenza behind the desk, it's top previously cleared of the mounds of parchments; Severus' papers and notes, now residing in his private study, ready for him to read when he had the leisure to do so.
Where the hell did that come from? he asked himself, seeing the lone parchment on the top. Thinking of the last few minutes, he was startled to realise that someone HAD been in the room, it had NOT been his imagination and NOT the castle. He felt somewhat alarmed, but curious too, and he closed the distance to the parchment and examined it closely before picking it up.
The glyph in the seal rocked him a bit. He'd never seen it before, but it was clear who it belonged to--Severus and Harry. Harry has been here, how I don't know, but--here it is. Picking it up, he closely examined the seal, the fierceness of the snake and lion speaking volumes to him about the nature of the men it represented. This must be their private seal--their bond seal--the seal of their power. He'd never seen it before.
What shook him was not the intimacy of the glyph; he'd seen others far more--graphic--but that THEIR seal was almost identical to his and Dana's. While theirs was crouching and looking forward, Statant, his and Dana's was Regardant--her snarling lion seated on its haunches looking over its shoulder, his hissing snake, ready to strike, entwined, insinuated around the lion's body, head resting on the mighty shoulder, looking in the same direction, ready to do battle with some unseen enemy.
He was floored. He understood.
Theirs--looking forward to their future, building that future, the two of them fiercely creating a legacy, facing and vanquishing their enemies. Ours--looking back at what was built in the past, watching our backs, protecting the legacy, nurturing it. Gods, how fitting. How did they foresee this as well? How did they know what we would be? How did we? His eyes traveled back to the orrery in awe. He remembered when he and Dana had created their seal, pouring their bond into it, mystified as to why the final form--felt--so right even though it was not something they willingly chose.
He started to put the dormant parchment back down, willing himself to look at it another time; he had so much work to finish, when the words opposite the seal caught his eye.
For Remus and Arabella Lupin and Their Designated Heirs:
To open, break the seal by means of 'Aperio'.
To close, repair the seal by means of 'Signum'.
Their Last Statement.
Colin's hands shook with the leashed power he now felt in the roll. It was not his to open and he hastily put it back on the Credenza knowing he should not touch it again.
Considering a moment, he turned to go over to the fireplace, his eye catching his own parchment sitting, waiting for him on the desk. He knew it was a wasted effort, the words he needed now burned into his mind, the essence of what was required expressed in a roll of parchment not his own.
At the fireplace, he threw in a handful of the powder, saying "Remus Lupin". He waited a few moments for Remus to answer the compulsion, hoping he was not catching him at a bad time. Remus' head and shoulders appeared in the fire.
"Hullo Colin, what can I--"
Colin interrupted him, his face unreadable, "Remus, at your--earliest--convenience, I need you to come to the Headmaster's office. I have something here for you."
Remus eyed him a moment, considering the expressionless face. "Certainly, Headmaster; I'm on my way."
Colin nodded, waved his hand, and Remus' head disappeared, the fire once again in place.
He went back to his desk, picked up his parchment, balled it up in his fists, and with deadly accuracy, threw it into the flames.
Only You Are the Life Among the Dead
The following day, they left the castle to bury Severus in the grove of willows on the far side of the lake near the Forbidden Forest. Eight Pall-bearers, the eight male Prefects of the House Slytherin accompanied his casket as it was first stopped outside the circle of willows.
Colin and Sinistra (who had come from his home in Italy) had officiated the interment outside the grove, and the hundreds of men, women, and children who made up what Severus had called family, paid their last respects to the man who had made much of their life possible with his (and Harry's) defeat of Voldemort and their subsequent fight with the Muggles.
At the end of the ceremony, eight new Pall-bearers escorted the plain wooden casket covered now in flowers, to the inside of the grove, the Prefects leaving with the rest of the Slytherins back to the castle. The people gone within afterwards, immediate family and close friends only, stood around the perimeter. They'd not disturbed the center.
A secluded spot, the long arms of the willows ringing the space, touched the ground making almost solid walls of swaying green around a clearing just large enough to hold the forty or so people standing respectfully for the final burial. If one looked up, the ring of trees formed a frame around a clear view of the sullen sky.
A smaller, circular area in the center, had been raised and paved with small loose-fitting stones, the moss growing between the cracks overlapping until it formed a feather-soft, unbroken carpet of verdant green. Flat Rocks joined at their edges ringed this bower, their clean smooth surfaces waiting silently for the bottles of wine, the baskets of food, the candles to softly light the books brought out here to read together, but set aside for other pursuits.
This place had been their favorite rendezvous to escape the rigours of the school, a place where they could be private, hidden from the prying eyes of the students and townsfolk. By mutual agreement of the staff, who were completely devoted to both of them, the area was declared out-of-bounds to all--students, townspeople, and staff. And, surprisingly, through all the years of student high-jinks and public censure of their relationship, no one had ever defiled their sanctuary.
This was the first time all but three had been here.
Ron, Hermione and Seth, standing there with the others, were assailed by the memories of the many times they'd been invited; several with Severus and Harry and Lenore on late afternoon picnics. In earlier times Ron and Hermione had been here alone with Draco and in later years Seth had come here alone with Lenore; Severus and Harry had offered this place to them for their use.
They all intimately knew the softness of the bower, the feel of its moist downy surface on bare skin, the clean, earthy smell of the moss filling their senses as the sunlight poured in, warming tangled bodies.
Ron and Hermione had not come back after Draco had left them. Ron was adamant about not facing the memories and Hermione did not have the strength to come alone. At this moment, gripping Ron's hand, she was not sure what made her sadder, the memories of those lost times or the sight of the gaping hole dug into the grove off to the side at the foot of the oldest willow, the almost obscene mound of waiting earth nearby ready to fill and seal the grave.
Next to it, another grave, its small marker the only thing left to remind them of Lenore. Hermione was saddened to see Seth standing near it, the empty look on his face one of torture. The little grave was covered in flowers, too. Hermione knew Seth returned here almost every day to talk to her and had the feeling he would add Severus to those conversations as well. While it was not something she could do, he drew comfort from it and that was all she could hope from it.
She knew Severus and Harry had not returned here after Lenore had gone, their pleasure in the place spoiled by her lost presence, but they could think of no more fitting place to leave her; she'd enjoyed the pleasures of the bower as much as they. First during their family outings where she'd been free to act the child she was without the restraints of castle etiquette and reputations to uphold. And, later she'd been free to be the passionate woman she was with Seth in the full light of the sun loving him with the wild abandon she could not display elsewhere.
Hermione understood this completely.
The silence within the intimate space was total--the murmuring voices of the throng of people outside its confines unheard as they slowly, in groups, left to go home. They would not soon forget the simple ceremony. As Colin had pointed out, it was the beginning of a new era and the end of an another.
Severus was brought here for the last time in the mid-morning, the clouds shadowing the sun. Harry had insisted on the time; Ron agreed, knowing it was the only time Harry could be there with a minimum of memories. They'd rarely gone there alone in the daytime. The daytime jaunts to this place had been reserved for family and friends.
Out of respect for Harry, it was decided, quietly, before the service with hurriedly whispered hallway conversations, that only the heads of the families would approach him directly so as not to overwhelm him. While the majority of the people stood back, Harry stood numb by the open grave, passively accepting their condolences as one by one, Ginny and Neville, The Widow Black, Remus and Arabella, Colin and Dana, and finally Ron and Hermione embraced him trying desperately to remove the aching sorrow from his much-loved face and bring some life back to his dull lifeless eyes.
The casket was inside, the handfuls of dirt thrown in. It was time to go.
Severus and Lenore were home and Harry was alone.
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