Chapter Eight, In Which All The King's Horses and All The King's Men Can't Put Me Back Together Again
There are many, many things in life I could have done without knowing. The fact that Percy apparently frenches Penelope on a regular basis is one that I can attribute to Ginny and would have given me nightmares if I didn't have more horrible things to dream about. Another is Funestus, lovingly called the Suicide Spell, which was placed on certain operatives during the war either by their master or by the men themselves to keep them from spilling the beans about important details of plans. The shade of purple it causes people to turn is quite unpleasant. As is the shade of white it causes the observers of the spell's effects to turn. There are also such wonderful things as how they make certain egg-based condiments and the existence of truly evil bastards in the world that I also could have gone forever without knowing, but I suppose my luck isn't that great.
Naturally, you see, when the Girl-Who-Lived upchucks on her shoes and those of the guy she has definite feelings for, it tends to turn heads. Then they noticed, after a moment of ogling, there was a supposedly dead man lying stunned nearby, and through a variety of events I was too busy softly rocking on my feet to pay attention to, they decided to question him.
McGonagall at one point while they were deciding what to do came up to me and put a hand on my elbow, "Come along, Potter," she said, fighting back tears, "Come along… hospital wing…" I feel an instant surge of gratitude towards this grandmotherly woman. At least someone can think clearly in this situation, and the clean, white walls of the infirmary sound quite nice right now… Snape, my only reason for staying, was heavily involved the doings with the stunned Death Eater, and so I shifted, allowing her to lead me away from the site. We'd gone barely a foot, though, before the Headmaster took notice of the movement. "No."
Her outrage was vocal, "Dumbledore, she ought to – look at her – she's been through enough tonight-"
I was glad there was someone fighting for me then. I was too stunned to fight for myself then. I wanted to hide from the world. No, I wanted to find that worn, fuzzy blanket Snape always covers me in when I fall asleep on my feet in his office and wrap myself in it, curling on the couch until I was just a tiny ball with my back to the world and my face pressed into the soft, safe cushions. I'd have liked Snape to be there too, because his presence was commanding and certain and there was an unbelievable comfort in the idea that I didn't have to do everything myself, that there was a stronger Atlas to help me when I fell, broken and bloodied, though it wasn't a necessity. The rooms where he lingered held enough of his taste to keep the worries at bay for several days – after all, the safest place from any snake had to be in another's den, right? Not to say I plan on hiding forever. But just one night would be nice…
"She needs to understand." I can understand quite well, thank you, Junior put my name in the goblet with the intent that I should help his master be reborn. It worked, end of story. That's all I need to know to understand. Unless he confides that he was under Imperious the whole time while he was torturing Neville's parents, which I highly doubt given everyone thought their master was quite wrongly dead, then nothing he might say might cause me to have a sliver of compassion for him. In fact, I'm so compassionless at the moment that, as soon as I regain control of my emotions, I'm thinking about borrowing some really high-heeled shoes from Simone or Sylvie or whatever the last one's name is and letting the point of high French fashion become quite friendly with his two, quite normal, if slightly protuberant eyes.
Then I picture that action and am glad that I've already emptied my stomach. Is this a good thing? Do Dark wizards get squeamish when they torture? Is this a sign that I am, no matter what the evil parricide might say, not like him? Or is this something that tells me that Riddle once had to have been human too, and, by hating him so much, I will inadvertently follow down his path? Well, I can understand his desire to change his name at least. Who ever would be scared of Dark Lord Tom or Darth Alexandrie-Margaux?
Oh Merlin. That's shock. Definitely shock. Why won't Dumbledore just let me go? I feel so tired and so old…
Still, I find enough energy to glare at Dumbledore for his order that I stay, and smiled at McGonagall when she conjures a nice, unusually soft, chair for me to collapse in as they interrogated and questioned. There is Mr. Lime Green Bowler Hat – it takes me a moment to recall he was the Minister of Magic and probably, in all likelihood, had a name – and a couple of men who looked to have hag ancestry a few generations back in addition to Dumbledore and the two professors, and Fudge keeps interrupting with things I take as a given to be stupid and insulting to my intelligence, but eventually Mood- I mean, Crouch Junior, has related his tale to us, which is, quite as I expected, done of his own free will. Finishing, "I offered to carry the Triwizard Cup into the maze before dinner. Turned it into a Portkey. My master's plan worked. He is returned to power and I will be honoured by him beyond the dreams of wizards," the insane smile of a man who truly believes, against all Fudge's odds, in his cause takes over his still childish features. He must have been very young when he joined up. He still is very young, at least in comparison to those around me, now. A few things about him are fixed to my memory… the straightness of his nose, the gauntness of his face; the wildness of his eyes, so similar to Sirius's when I first met him, that I supposed it was Azkaban's madness I saw reflected there.
And then one of his nuchal arteries bursts in a spray of crimson blood, killing him instantly.
They took me to the hospital wing then. I was shaking too badly to be of any use to anyone. You'd think I'd be better at accepting death, at seeing people die before my eyes… It never gets any less sickening, even if the man is one I'd've gladly murdered myself just a handful of minutes before. He looked barely out of school in the moments before he died, hardly older than myself, and though he was a murderer he was a child too…
I felt the night ticking on, that every second I sat was one moment wasted, a moment more that madman was loose in the world, a trace of desperate madness creeping into me. I was responsible for this atrocity, I must stop it… and, if they wouldn't let me, I'd do it anyway. But Dumbledore insisted on knowing what happened, and Sirius was there by some miracle that I couldn't remember, but what was there, honestly, to say? "The Cup was a portkey that took me to a graveyard. Wormtail killed Cedric, then rebirthed Voldemort with his flesh, my blood, and his father's grave-dust. He talked, then we duelled. Something happened with our wands. Ghosts came out. I ran. Found the cup and came back." And, essentially, that's what I said.
But there was more then that. How could I tell the wizened Dumbledore, who called death "the next great adventure," how scared I was to die? How I had too great a thirst for life that I'd barely begun? And what of Sirius? It wasn't like I could say that it was my desire to crush my lips – and varying other body parts – to Snape's that had fuelled the fire that allowed me to flee in front of him. They had to know there was more and tried to flush it out of me, but those stark basics were all that I could share. They were the facts. Everything else I had to share were my fears, my thoughts on death and life, the mental spellbook I'd been thumbing through – and I knew as well as the next girl spells like artafyrus and dirumpi were classified as borderline Dark – and none of these I could share with these men, however pivotal they were in my life. Telling them would be like Hermione telling her parents about our classes – they could hear what she was saying, but in no way could those Muggles ever fully understand what it meant to grasp a spell after initial trouble or feel the flow of magic from your core as you cast a charm that came as easily to you as breathing. I could only think of one person in the world who might be able to understand by plight, but he was with Junior's body still…
Madam Pomprey heals me, though Wormtail's mark will leave a scar she says, and has left me to my well-wishers. Hermione, Ron, Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Sirius – everyone I loved but Fleur and my professor – but I couldn't stand their presence. I felt too dirty, too unworthy to be around them. I was responsible for Cedric's death, for Merlin's sake! My blood had allowed Voldemort to return, and I'd fled from battle without killing him again! I didn't deserve their sympathy, their worry – I wanted them to yell at me for being careless, a fool, for not learning enough, for not dying. But they were nothing but concerned for me and my well being. It seemed senseless, the act of wizards who knew not what they should do.
I retreated into the locker room-like showers, showering until I scalded my skin and not caring at all for my tender wounds. I deserved the pain, my wardens in Surry were right about that, however odd that may sound, the Dursleys, right. I should have stayed in that cupboard and never tried to escape…
I could still feel the bastard I'd let survive put his knife into me, the one stained with his blood. I could still feel Voldemort's finger on my cheek, a mockery of a lover's caress, and wanted to scrub my face with sulphuric acid to remove the memory of it. And then there was the blood spatter from the Suicide Spell, which had dried unremarkably amongst the blood from my injuries and what Wormtail's stump had dripped on me. I would have to burn my clothes, shave my hair, scrape my skin to ever be clean again. My wand was on the bedside table, though, and no matches, razors, or steel wool were secreted away in any corner of the showers. All I had at my disposal was a bottle of strawberry shampoo and three bars of ivory soap. It seemed woefully inadequate. I cleansed until I burned with sparkly newness, then scrubbed some more.
At least Snape was there when I returned, waiting beside my bed when I got there. Hermione and Ron were only showing vague surprise at his presence – I could feel the concern for me pouring off of them in waves. And fear, a dark, saline smell. That rolled off them, an almost physical sensation that could have crippled anyone, and would have me if I could have done more then register the sensation at the moment – as were Mrs. Weasley and Bill, though they probably only thought he was bringing me potions to put me to sleep and erase my dreams. I don't think I could ever sleep again. If I close my eyes, I'll see images never meant to be seen once, let alone repeated in dreams. Snuffles the God-dog was full on raised hackles, bared teeth though by the foot of my bed. I guess that's only understandable – the two never did like each other, and me liking both of them isn't likely to change that – but it's damn annoying right now. At least is standing calmly, though that could be because he doesn't know Sirius is here, but I'm feeling generous towards him. A lot of things, actually, but that's the only one I dare express in this company.
"Sir-" I began, blushing Weasley red as I start to apologize for his shoes. Nothing a spell couldn't fix, but still. They're shiny and new already.
"You should be in bed, Miss Potter." I hope the formalities are for the sake of our audience. I hop onto the bed and sit there, cross-legged at its head, and stare expectantly at him. He doesn't mention the shoes at all, for which I am immensely glad.
"What's Fudge decided?" I asked with more concern then I've shown my own well-being so far tonight, "Is he going to listen to Dumbledore?"
"Not likely. He's spent too long telling everyone things are fine to change his tune now."
"Bastard," I say aloud. The others start at my language, but it seems an appropriate enough word for my parents' murderer; Snape only nods, seemingly unconcerned about my murderous rage earlier. Maybe, in retrospect, it's not such a big deal now. The man's dead now. I shudder, and he reaches out a hand to me. Sirius growls deeply now, but I take it anyway. It is warm and calloused like I imagined, an anchor to reality. He is as dark and mysterious as always, but he is alive. He is snarky and positively evil sometimes, but he is alive. He is rude and broken and stuck at the end of the war he's now finding out was just the star of a thirteen year ceasefire, but he is alive and he is warm and exuding the strength of knowledge and the safety of endurance. I'd bury myself in him if I thought he'd let me. He returns the ungodly pressure I put upon his hand, and for a brief moment I allow myself to think he loves me like I have found myself loving him.
Dumbledore comes in and seems to have expected this strange gathering. "Fudge's attitude," he delves right in, "though not unexpected, changes everything. All those that we can persuade of the truth must be notified immediately." He sends Bill away. And then – stupidly, I think, considering how Mrs. Weasley freaks out a moment later – tells Sirius to transform.
Snape moves to start at this, but I grip his hand all the tighter, refusing to let go. "Please, Severus," I whisper, using his name for the first time and liking how it felt, "don't."
Accusingly, "Unhand my goddaughter now," Sirius starts before there is even time to take in his change from canine to rather shaggy-looking man.
"Sirius," I try to reason with him, "in case you haven't noticed, I'm the one who won't unhand him."
I should've known better than to try logic on him. "What Dark spell have you put on my goddaughter, Snivillus?"
"Is it such a surprise, Black, that she might actually care for my company?"
Sirius raises his wand, but Dumbledore steps in and may well have said Merlin was come again for all the nonsense he spouted about the pair of them setting aside their differences. I just can't take it, and tell them both – my godfather and my professor – that if they don't start behaving like grown men I'll never talk to them again. I guess something of Mrs. Weasley might have rubbed off on me, because they both, however grudgingly, agree not to kill each other in my presence. Will wonders never cease?
I want to get the rest of them out of the room and tell Sirius that, like it or not, his foe means something to me, but there's no time and I've just no energy for that sort of thing. It's all I can do not to fall into hysterics at all I've seen tonight…
… his servants returned…
… Cedric murdered for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time…
… Junior dead in some twisted manner by his own hand, to be hailed by his fellows as the bringer of their master from death's knife-edge…
… I shake my head fiercely. I will not think on any of that. I will not cry. I will not be weak. I cannot afford it. I cannot forgive myself for what I allowed to happen. I cannot forgive myself, now that I've calmed slightly, for my murderous and torturous impulses towards Junior. I cannot be pleased that I'm alive, though every cell within me is shouting its joy at the fact, and I find my eyes falling on things that I'd ignored in the past as my attention swerved to seemingly more important things. The stars that shine brightly through the new moon here, the starched softness of the sheets I rest upon; the way Mrs. Weasley's hands wring in worry as if looking for something to easy their mistress's pain. They are more real then war plans. They are the reason I fought so hard. But I cannot let myself be distracted from the planning of other wizards' demises, because, if I do, it could be the end to the starlight shining on a warm June night, soft clean sheets in hospital wings, or the movement of a mother's hands. These are things to fight for.
"Severus," the Headmaster asked, ignoring my plight if he even registered it at all, "you know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready… if you are prepared."
Snape – Severus – turns his eyes from towards mine, holding them as he slowly pulled his hand out of mine. I struggled against him. I knew instantly what Dumbledore wanted, what the wizard I loved would do. "No!" I protest. "You can't! He'll torture – kill – you-!" I was griping onto his fingertips as if this alone would stop him. I'd not risked my life to come back here just to let himself throw his life away – not if anything to say about it, and, Merlin above, I'd be damned if I didn't find a way to make my voice known. I could feel the others' eyes on us in shock, even Dumbledore's twinkling gems, but didn't care.
"It's what I must do, Éléonore." My name was an embrace falling from his lips, as if I was a perfect and wonderful thing in his eyes. I barely noticed the others' reactions to his use of my name.
Whispering, "I don't want you to die." He looked even deeper into my eyes, and I tried to send every feeling I had for him through the silent medium afforded us. I would not let him die. Not like Cedric. Not like Mum and Dad. Not like the Riddle's caretaker, or Bertha Jorkins, or any of the others. I wanted him to know with all my heart that I was fighting for sidereal nights, not for him to risk his life before I'd woven it with mine.
"I won't," he promised me, and pulled his hand entirely from my grasp and swept out of the room, a wordless shadow disappearing into that dark, moonless night. Immediately, my anchor gone, the sense of apprehension overwhelmed me. I hardly noticed Sirius sent off on his own death-inviting errand or Mrs. Weasley trying uselessly to comfort me. I didn't care. Severus was going to die, and I'd never have kissed him, or told him how I feel, or how I'd only survived this night thinking of him and all the things I'd never known.
I was going to be left all alone in the world – again – because I couldn't die when I was supposed to. My one chance at love would disappear, and the loss of Sirius – who'd run afoul of Aurors or some creature of darkness trying to, "round up the old crowd," I was deathly sure – would take my only hope of escaping Azkaban South with him… I should just make it easy on all of them and die next time, to save them all… I had to stop him. I had to catch him, keep him from donning that black robe and that white mask and going to the wizard who'd stolen my blood and whose wand had killed my father first, the father he did not like, and then my mother, who, like him, could have lived, and submit to torture and pain and then death in attempt to find a way to defeat the monster I had unleashed because I didn't die when he pointed it at me…
I'd been right all those years ago. I was a monster undeserving of love. I was meant to be locked in cupboards and slave-worked, where the pain I could inflict on the undeserving was minimal at best. No wonder Severus wouldn't stay for me – why he could never love me – why Sirius had gone after Wormtail rather then stay with me – why the world could so easily believe the things Rita Skeeter and the Star and Stave wrote about me… Mum should have lived. She'd not have made these mistakes…
But I was alive, and I had to do my best to mitigate the damage I'd caused.
I noticed then Mrs Weasley's arms around me and the tears threatening in my eyes. I tried to push her away. "Let me go," I struggled, freeing an arm and going for my wand. "I've got to go after him! I'm not going to let him throw his life away for me!"
"You've got to take your potion, Harry."
"No! I won't take it – I've got to-" But there were hands on me, holding me down. More hands then I could fight off, clawing as I was to get away, to go after him. "You don't under-" The phial was smashed against my lips and clanked on my teeth, the contents pouring into my mouth and down my throat even as I tried to spit it out. The effects, however, were instantaneous, and the dreaded darkness of sleep took me.
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I snuck out of the hospital wing as soon as my captors were distracted or disappeared and made it only in the stupid, itchy pyjamas they issue to the tower two mornings after the incident, and collected clean clothes, my cloak, and the map. I followed the twisting pathways and hidden passages to a place I'd never been before, searching for a dot that was no where to be found.
I found his chambers and sweet-talked the second head of the runespoor statue that guarded his lair into letting me in – who'd ever have thought parsletongue would come in handy for something other then disreputable deeds? They were empty, but I didn't mind. I intended to wait until he returned, whatever his condition, and he could yell at me then. I didn't care. I just needed to see him alive.
And so I cleaned. It's what I do. Like Mrs. Weasley bakes. It keeps my hands busy, my thoughts from worrying. His quarters were neat and orderly, a long but narrow affair consisting of a sitting room that led into a bedroom, with the bath beyond that. His lab was off to one side, clearly carved out of another set of quarters next door, with boxes and cloth-covered furniture littering the back rooms thereof. I found cauldrons in need of scrubbing, then countertops that might not have been, and then floors that defiantly weren't. I dusted, I polished, I made the slept in bed – and in the hours when I felt too empty to move, I curled on that same bed, drinking in his scent and hoping to a God I wouldn't believe in that he'd come back soon.
If anyone was looking for me, they never did find me.
Time passed with no meaning. I was beginning to get truly afraid he was dead when the third day came and found me staring into space in the middle of his musky, minty bed and wondering what I would do if he was truly gone. I heard the crashing of the main door opening as if from far away and jumped to my feet, running into the main room to find it… empty.
The door to his potions lab was open, though, and it was there I found him. He looked, honestly, a mess. I'd never seen anyone look so old. Blood was matted in his dark hair, his eyes bloodshot and bleary – not at all the sharp blackness I remembered so clearly, - his clothes were rumbled and torn in places, dirt-stained in others. He'd been on the end of at least one crucio I was sure, but at least he was alive.
My sigh of relief was audible.
He jumped and I was on the receiving end of his wand for an instant before he saw it was me. "Éléonore," he said slowly, lowering the weapon, and turning back to the cabinet of potions he was examining, "how did you get in here?" He wasn't overly concerned.
"I can talk to snakes," and that was all I needed to say for him to understand. He always understood without having to have the whole thing laid out before him. "What are you looking for? Let me help."
"You're barely on your feet. Sit down and let me take care of you for once – you've done so often enough for me – it's my fault you're in this position." He was too tired to argue, a sign of worse things, I'd feared, or maybe I'd slipped into my Mrs. Weasley voice, one that no one could deny. I forced him into a chair and, through his instructions and sheer time I'd spent in one infirmary or another, I handed him the correct potions. "You're never, ever, going to do that to me again, do you understand? I thought – I thought you were as good as dead, Severus!"
A soft chuckle came at this. "A spy's work is never done."
"I don't care. I don't like seeing you like this. I'm sure you don't like feeling like this either."
"The Dark Lord's not pleased that you escaped. Nor that there weren't enough pieces left of Rosier – Evan Rosier's cousin, Edward, that is – worth collecting."
I paled briefly at the thought, and then insisted, "I'm not going to be distracted that easily, Severus!"
"It's not as simple as that."
"Then make it that simple."
"No, listen to me!" I spilled out everything as he sat there, wearily, in his chair. I was kneeling on the cold stone floor by his side, halfway through cleaning a cut across his thigh that I doubt he'd even noticed in the state he'd been in, and it was uncomfortable and awkward looking up at him, but I went on anyway, telling him how, after dropping my wand, I'd thought of his spells to save me and how, chained to Riddle Senior's grave marker, how I thought of him as my reason for living, and how, throughout our months together, I'd wanted nothing more then a sign from him that he cared, but I didn't care if he felt anything at all for me anymore because I just wanted him alive, whatever the reason, and I wasn't about to let him go back to that monster. I shared my fears, the thought that I was going to die – and the fact that I might have willingly if it would have helped if not for him – and was answered only by the silence I'd come to know in the impossible time of eternity I'd spent in his quarters waiting for his return.
I felt like a fool.
I shouldn't have blurted it out that way, but that's what I did. I'd have been in Slytherin if I had any subtly.
I shouldn't have expected him to feel a thing for me at all. I was a Potter after all, and he was a Snape. There was too much history. He still hated my father's memory, my godfather and Remus. He hated them in a way that was burningly alive. I was everything he had to hate – impulsive and noble and my father's child – and so much anger could leave no room for love in any soul. For all I knew it went back farther then that, and there was some feud between our houses that sat facing each other across the narrowest space of the channel, something ancient and dating back to the time when Calais was still a part of Muggle England, something one generation centuries later could never hope to end, even as the houses themselves faced their ends…
I got up to leave, muttering apologies and feeling my cheeks flaming even as a hole was carved out of my stomach. I should never have hope that anyone could love me.
"Éléonore," he says suddenly, followed by a long, tenuous pause. His lab smells of antiseptic. It burns my nose. "I'm… I'm too old for you."
I rage in return, "I don't care! You think any of the boys my own age have half as much a clue as you do what I've seen, what I've been through? I feel far older then I've any right to be."
A different tack then – a sign of excuses, I thought, and let a feeble hope ignite in my soul – "I'm your professor. You're a student."
"Don't you get it? I don't care. All I know is, is that I, I love you. Isn't that enough?"
"…Éléonore…" he said my name slowly, painfully, and I felt myself drawn back towards him. Close enough to touch, if he wanted to. Close enough that I could taste his breath as I took in my own – wanting of a toothbrush after his ordeals, yes, but warm and so very him that I didn't care how it tasted so long as it was his – and sense his exhaustion as if it were mine. Maybe it was. I'd not slept since the hospital wing… I'd been too afraid to let myself close my eyes and too filled with epinephrine to be forced to sleep against my will, "…I don't deserve someone like you."
"Shouldn't I be the judge of that?"
I expected another argument, another impossibility that I could overcome, but he had none left. And so, filled with fear I'd still be turned away, I bent down until my face was level with his and, with painful slowness, brought my lips to his with a soft, slow kiss that slowly grew stronger as I felt his own press back against mine hungrily. I'd no idea if I was doing anywhere decent, only that my heart was fluttering with freed emotion, and I let a hand burry itself in his matted hair as his less-injured hand made its way under my chin and pulled me closer, the other coming to rest on my hip securely. I could feel the laboured breathing of his chest, the movement of my own quickening in return. His mouth was incessant, but I didn't care, it was glorious and impossible and I could have flown without a broom I was so happy, so overjoyed that he might return something I felt for him that it's frankly ridiculous to even think about.
He broke away, breathing heavily. "You should go," he said.
"Yes," I agreed slowly, panting a little myself, overwhelmed at my first kiss, at the sensation of being kissed by a man who knew what he was doing far more then I did, and desperately wanting more even as I was scared of what more might be and knowing, whatever I claimed to feel, I was still only fourteen, "I should…"
I didn't make a move towards the door.
"I can take care of myself from here," he laboured. He probably could. I still worried though. "Please," he whispered this time. Maybe he feared what might happen if I stayed too. I don't know. Only that he wanted to deal with it himself and would not be forced into accepting help much longer, even if it was from someone who'd he'd just locked lips with…
Against my better judgement, I gathered my map and cloak, and headed back towards the tower, knowing at last the meaning of the phrase, "Cloud Nine." I might have even been skipping, but I'm not sure about that. My mind kept running in a single, sing-song loop.
Snape had kissed me.
Snape had kissed me.
Snape had kissed me.
Hermione had a fit when I returned, demanding to know where I'd been. It was none of her damn business, but she didn't care. It annoyed me deeply as she went on, "We thought something had happened to you," she went on and on, vexed, "that Death Eater's had gotten you." It was only the mention of these human demons that brought me back to earth. Maybe I was just a silly school girl, giddy over her first (really wonderful) kiss, but I was also something more… The Girl-Who-Lived when Voldemort had wanted me dead. He wouldn't stop until he saw my charred remains in the ground.
I paled again. The fact that Rosier was dead by my wand began to sink in fully. "I'm sorry if I made you worry," I muttered, trying to slink up to our dorm.
"Where have you been?"
"None of your God-damned business, Hermione."
"With Snape? I saw how you looked at him-"
"Just shout it out for the world to hear why don't you?"
Unrepentant, "So you were. He's your professor, Harry-"
"So what if I was? What I do is my own business."
"Not when it affects the rest of us."
"How does it affect you, pray tell? I've a life, you know. I've places I want to go and people I want to see and things I want to do. I'm not some perfect little heroine content with the part they give me!"
"It's not all about you – there are such things as rules-"
"You think the rules matter anymore? I watched the darkest wizard in half a century rise from the dead, and you think what the rules tell me what I can and can't do matter still? People have already died. More are going to die in this senseless war before its up – and you're angry because the one good thing I've managed to snatch up from all of this doesn't fit into your rules? News flash, Hermione, nothing can ever fit perfectly into your rules, and you're just going to make yourself unhappy trying to stick to them."
And so I hid from the world I would soon leave for Azkaban South as all around me the world went on as if nothing had happened and Voldemort was still good-as-dead in the forests on the continent, and everyone I loved prepared for a war in the shadows of the days that continued, against all odds, to come.