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Someone To Run To (24/32 - Part One)


Chapter Twenty-Four


forget

-me-

not


It was the eighteenth of June I saw him last. I remember it so clearly, it almost hurts. It was a bright, sunny summer day in the way days are in mid-June in Scotland, before it got too hot and muggy to make you need to retreat inside the thick castle walls or under earth, where it was cool, or a cooling spell would stick. There was a lemony tint to the air, bathing everything in butter cream and saffron.

And I was stuck inside. That morning was the practical for my DADA NEWT, and, though it was difficult, it was mostly because I wasn't used to having to explain my thoughts on Defence in such a manner. Usually, when I was explaining something to Severus, we could go from A to G to P together, but NEWTS, or so I'd been told, required all of the alphabet, not just the ones I took to be understood. The practical was much easier, and my Patronus still wowed the examiners. I'd do well on it. I knew I would. I'd survived Voldemort, I'd pass this NEWT.

Leaving the test, I was positively beaming, so sure in myself was I. Acel had even broken into song.

"Alasss, my love, you do me wrong, to cast me off discourteously," he'd begun before I was even out the great hall doors, deciding to head up to Severus's classroom rather then straight down to Claudia. She'd be sleeping anyway, and, as much as I loved my now two-month-old daughter, Severus was, frankly, the better company at this point in time.

Par, naturally, had joined in, while Sus did the serpentine equivalent of and eye-roll, "For I have loved you well and long, delighting in your company."

"Greensleeves," I joined them, to my surprise, quietly, "was all my joy. Greensleeves was my delight, greensleeves was my heart of gold, and who but my lady greensleeves?"

A First Year – someone I didn't know well, only by sight, and how undoubtedly thought me strange for being the Girl-Who-Lived, married to a professor, a mum, carrying around a Runespoor (take your pick) – looked at me oddly as I passed. I felt the heat rise to my cheeks, but didn't much care. I was done caring, at least as far as things like that was concerned.

"Your vowsss you've broken, like my heart, oh, why did you so enrapture me?"

"Now I remain in a world apart, but my heart remains in captivity."

The chorus I hummed this time, and they took up the verse again: "I have been ready at your hand, to grant whatever you would crave."

"I have both wagered life and land, your love and good-will for to have."

I entered Severus's classroom, where the Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw Second Years were taking a test of their own, under my breath finishing, "…and who but my lady greensleeves?" as I went to his desk. A few heads raised, but most, being Ravenclaws, ducked down shortly and the rhythm of quills-on-parchment was not disturbed. Two giant tomes were before him, as was a sheave of papers with his tight, sharp writing running closely from side to side: he was researching magical poisons and artificial venoms that the parents of school-aged children would, most likely, have not liked their children's professor researching in front of them. If Basilisk venom destroyed the diary Horcrux, admittedly the weakest if my drawn-and-quartering idea held true, what could we use to destroy the others, if we ever found them? Thus the poisons.

He didn't notice me at first, his quill, long and dark, making minuscule notes about this process or that ingredient. Or maybe he did, and just pretended not to. He had, after all, told me to stop by whenever I was done and tell me how it went. I got the feeling, some of the time, that he did sneaky things like that just for practice, even if he wasn't a spy anymore. Still, he'd not looked up from his papers when I knelt down beside him and whispered in his ear, "It went well." My breath felt warm and sweet (I'd sucked on peppermint candies the whole time; McGonagall was a big proponent of peppermint, saying it helped your memory and boosted your concentration, and had foisted a bag on me this morning) in such close quarters, and his own minty smell was unmistakable.

Setting down his quill, he motioned behind him, at the stair that led up to his new office, where we could talk without interruption. I set Paracelsus atop the wet ink and told him to proctor the class, Sus nodding like an overzealous cadet as Acel continued, on his own now, to sing "Greensleeves." My breath tasting of him, I followed him into his office and could hear, "… Ah, Greensleevesss, now farewell, adieu, to God I pray to prosper thee, for I am still thy lover true; come once again and love me…" before the silencing spell went up, and I could hear not but him.

"You were right – well, obviously, you teach the class – but they did focus a lot on Dark Detectors on the written. And spells for and against fire – 'cause of the Inferi, I guess," I babbled a little, probably because I'd had to be so quiet during the NEWT while the Seventh Year students looked at me with various degrees of veiled jealousy.

There was a pause, and I moved to lean against the wall by the door, tired of sitting. "Give you more time for Claudia," was what he said, not sitting either, but standing in front of me with a most peculiar look I couldn't immediately place. There was another pause after my assenting sound. My bubble of happiness wasn't sinking, per say, but it felt heavy, the way helium feels heavy to hydrogen. When he spoke, I was inclined to label it resigned curiosity or maybe even fear – fear of a man who'd promised himself he'd go quietly, no matter what, after finding the key to happiness and being told he could never, ever have it. They were slow, his words, and measured, "Éléonore… do you… resent me, for Claudia?" as if coming at great expense across great distance.

I felt my brows scrunch together, then lift as my eyes, which had momentarily crossed, filled with an understanding light and lifted to look into his. He was tall. Not extravagantly so, but enough for me to need to look up. "Resent you, Sev'rus? How could I resent you? I know more love at your hands in an hour then I had my entire childhood. You've given me every happiness I could ever dream of – and quite a few I didn't know to imagine," I told him, going the short distance between us and melting into him, my arms around his neck, as I tilted my head upwards. "I wouldn't have kissed you if I didn't love you. I wouldn't have loved you if I didn't trust you. I wouldn't have trusted you if I hadn't sussed you for you, not the persona you put on. But I did, so I do, and I know you well enough to know you love me too. I know you didn't propose because of Claudia, but because of me. Sure, it might have been better if we waited, but," I continued in the same breath, before the tightening of his eyes had finished, "it also might also not've been, so I refuse to think of it, and so should you." I kissed his chin – the best I could reach without his help, and leaned against him. "I love you – that's one true thing I know. You loving me makes two. And two true things is a lot more than some people have. You can buy me a pony or something if you feel you have to prove it to me, but I'm content right here, so long as you don't make me grade any of those papers out there – I'm wiped for all things educational today."

I pulled myself away just a little, pulling my wand from my pocket and waving it at the nearby phonograph before turning back into him. The machine was a remnant of Remus's year as professor and, as Bach's "Concerto for Two Violins," began the first movement, I struggled for a moment in my mind, trying to decide if the record was a leftover too.

"Why a pony?" he asked, voice still a little brusque as he watched curiously my efforts to unbutton his collar.

"Isn't that what little girls are supposed to want? Ponies?"

"Having never been a young girl, I wouldn't know."

"Having never been a little girl in the position to ask for anything, I wouldn't know either. We'll ask Claudia when she's older." I was kissing the V of his neck now, still working on the rest of his hundreds of buttons, hoping to distract him before he asked what I was doing.

"I think I ought to refuse if she asks for one," he explained his reasoning before I'd a chance to pause in my labours, which he was now returning as his own, wonderful hands were un-tucking my shirt. "The riding. Dreadfully perverse, teaching young girls too ride: all the sexual metaphors."

"I can already see you'll be dreadful to all her boyfriends."

"And you'll no doubt be helping her meet up with them so that she thinks I don't know about it."

"Naturally. It's what mums are supposed to do – Madam Pomprey made me sign the contract while I was in labour; didn't you get yours? I commiserate, you forbid – that's generally how it goes. Since Claudia's the first, I get to make her my confidante and pass onto her the secrets of the moon, or whatnot. It's all very ancient and in all sorts of books."

"How parochial," his lips smiled against mine as he helped me to reach them, hands sliding around my waist to lift me up. Soon I felt the hard press of stone behind me, bracing me at the right height as I explored places I'd never, not in a hundred years of marriage, would ever know all the secrets of.

I could have said something about the parochially of a professor and a schoolgirl, no mater what circumstances, in a silenced office while twelve-year-olds took a test in the room outside, but it didn't need saying. Neither did, "I love you," but I said that anyway.

) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (

"Severus?" I asked, fixing my uniform.

"Yes?" he said with his eyes, so very dark but, for him, truly windows to the soul. If you knew how to open the curtains and raise the blinds and decrypt what was inside. Mine were not nearly so hard to interpret and so, seeing them, with what much have been poorly-veiled and unstoppable curiosity, "No," he said aloud, "I don't resent your getting pregnant either. As you said, the timing could have been better, but who am I to deny the world a part of yourself?"

I smiled at him curiously, "You always say the strangest things about me. You'd think I was something special from the way you go on about me."

Then he had one of those moments he sometimes had, when I wasn't sure if he was serious or not. "Éléonore," he said, with great confidence, "if you're not 'something special,' I don't think I want to know what is."

Petulantly, "People keep saying that, giving me all sorts of things I don't want just for staying alive" – the new Minister had been forced to owl me my Order of Merlin, second class, because I never bothered to show up at the ceremony. Not that I'd told him I was coming to the ceremony in the first place, he just rather assumed – "or killing people." He snorted a little, then opened the door for me, the silencing spell breaking as he did so. He might even had said something if I hadn't listened for a moment to what was going on below and muttered, "No, no, no."

Paracelsus was treating the class, which was still, largely, concentrating on their tests, thankfully, to a song.

The only good thing I could say about it was, at least it wasn't a pop song. No, my Runespoor must have discovered the classical stations on the radio that was, sadly, his and was now singing "Nessun Dorma."

"...None shall sleep! None shall sleep! Even you, O Princessss, in your cold bedroom," (Merlin above, French was bad enough, but now Italian? Was there something I missed, in all my readings, about different variants of Parseltongue? I knew it was Italian, but it sounded Parcel-English to me…), "watch the starsss that tremble with love and with hope!"

Acel gave a small bow of his head to the uninterested crowd, then turned towards Par, who took up the tune, "But my secret is hidden within me; none will know my name! No, no!" while Sus tried to attack him over the middle head. This didn't work so well, so he tried to bite the dreamer head, though this too failed miserably. "On your mouth I will say it when the light shinesss!"

"And my kissss will dissolve the silence that makesss you mine!" I picked up the snake by his tail and rapped his heads against the desk.

"Just what do you think you're doing?" I asked.

"Vanish, o night!" was Acel's answer.

Sus's was more helpful, if only barely: "Modern opera ariasss," before attempting to cheerily maim his siblings once more.

"Puccini," I told Severus and the one or two Ravenclaw's who finished already. I'd seen his test – listing the six primary types of DADA magic, I remember, was the first question. I'd not even heard until Third Year there were any types at all, and not until I'd started self-study last year that I learned there was a difference between Augmentative and Aggressive. Poor kids, but they had to learn it sometime – and knew it was difficult, so we shouldn't be having this conversation at all, but what could I do. "He's given up on the Spice Girls and moved on to Puccini." I was tempted to add that this was proof that there was no God, but you didn't go saying things like that, even in Wizarding schools; and, besides, if there is and he's the one seeing to it that I stay alive, I don't want to go offending him. Or whatever's out there. Who am I to know?

"Set, starsss! Set, starsss!" the first two heads sang together, so, shaking my head, I kissed Severus on the cheek for the kids' benefit (and even he made a slight face as that, though I doubt the students noticed) and headed out the door. "At daybreak I shall win!" they hissed rather too loudly for comfort. I banged them against the desk of a Ravenclaw who'd finished already and was reading a book with an unmoving picture of a dark-skinned elf with stark white hair – Abby or Amy or Ali, or something like that, I remembered – who looked at me oddly then flipped a page. "I shall win! I shall win!" Luckily the song ended then, and sealing the Runespoor in my pocket was enough to quiet him, for the moment, at least.

I was busy contemplating this change in snake song choices and how it might reflect upon my future sleep patterns as I started opening the Marauder's Map. I'd searched the dungeons and the first floor in my little free time since Claudia's birth and decided to take advantage of Winky's helpful nanny-ing for an afternoon's exploration of the second floor. Who knew what more exciting things I might find there? APWBD was here, 1895 (found in a charred cupboard off an old Potion's classroom, which had a rather large, black crater in the centre and a matching smoke-stain above)? Removable stones with intoxicating powders and dusty butterbeer bottles hidden inside? A second Chamber, one designed by a different founder, hidden from the world that hadn't searched for it, with the Horcrux Voldemort had made of one of Ravenclaw's jewels or, I dunno, the bloody belt buckle of Gryffindor?

Nothing in the first empty classroom I searched, nothing but a false bottom on one of the student's desks, holding answers to a test decades gone. The second wasn't even so interesting, with not a secret inside, at least not one that careful searching and Auror-learned revealing spells might show. I was going to have to find an Unspeakable to get anything stronger, I expected, or make one up myself. Or adopt a family member who knew such things. Let's see… Tonks was an Auror, no need to change there; Ari a lawyer; Bill had passed some great books on wards and ward-breaking my way, while Fleur was, against all odds, as good with the maths as she was with clothes and hair things. Hmm… Remus did tonnes of stuff for the Order, distributing information where it needed to go and getting word from the Muggle side of things, and all of that, and, besides, was the professor sort. Maybe I could convince Sirius, who half the time I couldn't see as doing anything besides charming his newest motorbike to fly or perusing Car and Driver to be an Unspeakable? No. That'd never work. He'd been found innocent, of course, but he'd a temper to him and very little patience for people who'd thought he was guilty. Let him hang around – he was owed twelve years worth of idleness, I supposed. Besides, I was in the process of talking up Ari to him through our weekly letters with all the Slytherin-learned subtly I possessed and doing the reverse for Ari. With Tonks's help, and Remus's, who'd been teased one time too many for Sirius's good about dating Tonks.

Third door, broom closet (number thirty-five of one seventeen on the great "Make-Out in Every Hogwarts Broom Closet" crusade that'd been going on since the dawn, it seemed, of Hogwarts time), but still interesting as I discovered a door that was pretending to be a wall that had a marble sculpture of a weeping angel, weeping on what might have been a headstone. I checked.

George Golden

May – September 1528

it read. I closed the door and cast a strong locking curse on it so that no one looking for a snogging place would bother the dead, then added it to the map.

May, June, July, August, September. Five months, maybe less. Older than Claudia, but never getting older. I did not know why there was a child's tomb inside the school or who little George's parents might be in Hogwarts history, just decided that some things were better left unknown. Especially when your two-and-a-half month old is downstairs with your house elf.

The next couple of doors I didn't open, knowing there to be students inside, and kind of wondered around aimlessly after that, going to one of the windows by the stairs and sitting down on one that I was certain didn't disappear or shock you.

Severus thought I was special, which I guess I already knew, but its was strange to hear it aloud. Or at all. Ten years in Azkaban South will do that to you…

I'd not thought about Azkaban South in a long time, and even then with only a I'm-glad-it's-over,-let's-not-think-about-it-again feeling to it, not the hereto normal homicidal rage…

The blood protection was still working on Privet Drive and would continue to do so until the first week of July. It worked off of Mum's sacrifice, no idea how, and the fact that Petunia and Dudley were the only living blood relatives that Mum and I shared…

Except that wasn't true now. I was my mum's daughter, yes, but Claudia was mine, wasn't she? She had the necessary bloodline. Couldn't we transfer the protection to her, and therefore our rooms in the dungeons, and, therefore, to the whole of Hogwarts? Well, maybe not the whole of Hogwarts, but it would help make the school even less attractive of an attack option for Voldemort…

Nothing big. That's what Voldemort had done since Halloween. He was preparing for something – he was nothing if not patient, someone who spent the better part of my life as a ghost-ish thing would have to be – and let his followers do random Muggle killings. The Muggle papers didn't connect them, just thought them some of your common, every day homicides and, occasionally, attributed a Muggle in a very convincing way to the crimes. There were a few things that might have been "the actions of a small fraction of radicals" or of Death Eaters, but without magic I didn't have, I could tell no more then anyone else which they were without being there, which was hard to do after Muggles got on the scene…

It probably wasn't the right thing to do, use my daughter that way. But wasn't that what parents had done to their children all throughout history – use them? All the books say so, and I trust the books, never having known my own. Besides, it wouldn't hurt her, especially when all it did was make her mum safer, and nobody wanted their mums to be unsafe, did they? I dunno. Severus might've wished death on his mum, and his dad too, but I don't know the details there and probably won't ask, not for many, many years. It's enough to know they were evil in the lower e sense of the word. Like the Dursleys. There were just some things we had to hide from ourselves, repressing until we were so far from the past that we could begin to think about it clearly. And then we might each talk about our experiences.

A muffled, "Can I?"

"Come out?"

"Now, Mère?"

With a sigh, I unseal my pocket and watch the Runespoor slither onto the stone step next to me. "Are you going to apologize?"

"What?"

"Did I?"

"Do?" Sus blinked at this, realizing what he'd said, then continued, "Do? You two were singing Turandot rather annoyingly and loudly to the young badgersss and ravensss."

"Not all of Turnadot. Par and I were only singing the most famousss arias of the modern era," the middle head said snobbishly, looking at a spot below my knee with some curiosity before flicking his tongue at it and going, for all intensive purposes, asleep.

"Acel'sss right. We were singing "Wie Sie Fassen, Wie Sie Lassen" from Tristan und Isolde before that."

"Tell Par and Acel to stop, Mère."

"Tell Susss to stop being so mean."

"Tell Par to stop being so annoying."

"Tell Susss that he'sss an ugly, tyrannical, stupid – flobberworm!"

Acel snored.

I pinched the bridge of my nose. Tightly. "Par? You and Acel aren't to sing while in classss anymore, is that clear?"

Whinging, "But Mère-"

"And Susss, you're to stop being so mean to your brothersss."

"And Par and Acel aren't being mean to me all the time? It was bad enough when they discovered how to work the radio and the pop music stationsss, and the Muggle stationsss, and WPR – but opera isss where I draw the line!"

"Classical music," Par said through gritted fangs, "helpsss calm and relax the scale-lessss onesss, and promote intelligence."

"He heard that on WPR," Sus tattled.

"Yes, and you also heard that I was sending Claudia to be raised by elfin Buddhist monksss outside New Haven, and that you were twelve feet long and trained to attack studentsss at will. Isss any of that true?" The heads looked jointly puzzled as they considered this. "No, it isn't," I reminded them.

"But I wasss just trying to be grown-up, Mère!" Par protested.

Snorting, "You'll never be grown-up, Par; you'll alwaysss be the shortest!"

"That'sss not true, Susss, and you know it! Acel isss a full quarter-inch shorter then me."

"Someone call me?" the middle head sleepily, lifting himself up and looking in every direction but that of his brothers.

"Shut up, Acel!" they shouted together.

With a serpentine shrug, he did and went limply back to his snoozing. "Why can't you three get along?"

"Because," said Acel, still seemingly asleep, "we are not three but one divided, just as you are one multiplied upon itself," and, with that, the middle head started for a course towards the railing of the stairs. When he had slithered up its length and onto the banister, the heads turned back towards me, Par with an amused look, Sus with one of exasperation, and Acel a dreamy-eyed one I'd seen on Luna Lovegood when one saw Luna at all. "I – we – can see thingsss that cannot be seen with eyesss alone. You are old, Mère, older then your sixteen summersss. Old soulsss like yoursss are often called upon in Dark daysss, because they know thingsss, because they have seen thingsss that younger ones do not believe. I do not know if you are old, Mère, or if old thingsss have aged a young one. But you are old, old onesss are often divided against themselves." And then, more brightly, "Like me," before slip-sliding down the flights to the basement.

"I'm going to Claudia," Par added as they descended, whooping while Acel began in on a more familiar sound of The Impotent Delusion's latest annoyance.

I lay my head on my knees and tried not to think what damage this snake was doing to my mind. Though I had to admit it was nice, this being loved thing. A girl could get used to it. It was, after all, a nice change from the homicidal rage that, well, I won't say drove me, but that existed under my desire to escape.

I'd lived in a cupboard for ten years. It didn't break me – that was why Severus thought I was special, I think, - though they wanted it to. It'd been a difficult ten years, and I was only by what little luck I had that Vernon wasn't interested in me that way like it was in all the books you read about poor little downtrodden girls. You didn't need to be raped to be downtrodden – though that certainly didn't help manners any – or hit to be abused. Until I was sent to the public grammar, I'd thought that Azkaban South was all there was. I forget what I called it then, not Azkaban, but certainly not home. And then I discovered books, keys to other worlds. Fantasy, science-fiction, historical fiction – you name it, I read it. I remember one time the most clearly, from the very end of the last school year I spent in Surrey. The grammar shared its campus with the older kids, and after school sometimes I'd sneak into their library and read the books there so I didn't have to go "home." I'd found a copy of Midnight's Children and had just finished it when the librarian found me in the corner at half-past five in the evening, red-eyed. She asked if one of the older kids had been bullying me – true, but I'd stopped crying long ago over that. I denied it, of course, and opened the book and read the last sentence aloud for her. "Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four million five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, all in good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight's children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace."

"You read that whole book?" she'd asked, amazed. I didn't see why at the time. "And you understood it?"

"Of course," I'd said, softly. I always spoke softly then. "I got to go. My aunt and uncle'll be expecting me."

She asked my aunt and uncle's names, but I didn't give it to her. I knew what she wanted – to move me up a grade or two; any teacher with a ten-year-old who could read Rushdie would have (though, admittedly, I understood it better when I reread it years later) – but knew equally well what would happen if she got her way. I couldn't be better then Dudley. I had to be a mouse, until I was old enough to make it on my own. I didn't know about Hogwarts then. I didn't know I could escape through something other then ink and paper and sweet-smelling binding glue then.

both master and victim of my time, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace…

I could never die in peace. If Voldemort managed killed me, I doubted it would be in such a peaceful way as the Advada Kedavara. What a sobering thought.

Best to live in as best peace as possible then. Generally ignore the world at large except as it pertained directly to me (including all newspapers, magazines, radio talk shows, and generally any other form of communication with the outside world), that was the best thing to do. Who cared what they thought anyway? Next year I'd be graduated, maybe I should start looking for a house somewhere. Near the ocean. With rolling pastures. And apple trees; I don't know why, but I wanted apple trees. Plenty of space for Claudia to grow. Space for a lab for Severus. Space for an office for me, to do my random work with whatever obsessed me after Horcruces. Space to have cupboards large enough to sleep comfortably in. After I finished school, of course.

So never mind the rumours one heard, about why a thirty-seven-year-old professor might wed his sixteen-year-old student.

Or the things you heard, about neither of us really wanting Claudia.

Or about me, with my "Dark," singing Runespoor…

I heard the thin sound of a cry carrying, and before I knew it, I was halfway to the door it originated behind. I smiled softly to myself at that – God, I was turning into a proper mum – but continued anyway. I always did think Hogwarts left the young-'uns to themselves too much, without parents or adults to make sure they were happy and healthy and hale.

But it wasn't an ickle Firstie behind the door, which I realized too late was Myrtle's. It wasn't even Myrtle.

It was Draco.

All I needed to do was hear, before he saw my tentative opening of the door in his cracked and warped mirror, was his, "No one can help me. I can't do it… I can't… It won't work… and unless I do it soon… he says he'll kill me, if I don't kill her…"

And that was all I needed to hear. I spun, letting the door fall clatteringly shut, not caring if he heard, because I was already halfway up the staircase by then. Running, not caring who saw me, doing stupid leaps over fake and sticking stairs, and between on that was moving away from the landing (though, admittedly, it was only a foot away, even if it was six stories up).

And then I stopped. I was standing in front of the Room of Requirement, heart and head pounding, not knowing that I was doing. What was I doing? I didn't, until my thoughts caught up with me, even know why I had rushed up here so quickly.

And then it hit me. Draco, crying, like in my dream. Words Draco actually said, verbatim from my dream. Ergo, the dream was most likely not an ordinary dream. Ergo, everything in the dream probably had some semblance of truth to it. Ergo, the crown that had felt so Dark was probably real. A crown was a jewel a princess might have, might even fight to keep and sell last, even after she was no longer a princess. And it had to be something related to her princehood, something that made such a smart woman look weak and stupid and flighty. Ergo, if it wasn't something so Dark that even the Darkest feared it, it was still in the shadowy end of the spectrum of things-that-did-not-belong-in-boarding-schools.

The Room of Requirement, I was not surprised, quickly became the room I wanted. It was if the tiara that was certain to exist inside could be taken out of the room. Holodeck rules, Hermione had once said. A Star Trek thing. She explained it to Paracelsus, once. I didn't much care for the details – which miffed her, I knew, – at least not the sci-fi one. The magic alone was enough for me. It was the same either way, in the end. The Room of Requirement made things real inside the room; outside they would not exist. Ex nihilo venimus in nihilum revertimur, and all of that.

Merlin, I just used a deponent verb in a thought. I'm going crazy, chasing Horcruces in boarding school corridors, having licentious sex in professors' offices, arguing with a Runespoor over what songs two of his three heads could and could not sing. Absolutely bloody daft.

Chapter Twenty-Four - Part Two.