Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-9) -- Pink Floyd
Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun/Shine on you crazy diamond/Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky/Shine on you crazy diamond/You were caught in the crossfire of childhood and stardom,/blown on the steel breeze/Come on you target for far away laughter,/Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon,/you cried for the moon/Shine on you crazy diamond/Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light/Shine on you crazy diamond/Well you wore out your welcome with random precision/Rode on the steel breeze/Come on you raver, you seer of visions,/come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!
Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far./Shine on you crazy diamond./Pile on many more layers and I'll be joining you there./Shine on you crazy diamond./And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph, /sail on the steel breeze./Come on you boy child, you winner and loser,/come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine...
Smoke filtered past, thick and scented with burnt hair and flesh, the vague crackle of magic in the very air. There was no question that the plain was a battlefield; no way of avoiding the stench of sweat and blood and death that lay in a heavy pall over the grass, the soft moans and groans of the wounded and dying. There was no way of eluding the keening sorrow of the survivors as rescue teams began to move among them slowly, carefully, searching for those who yet lived, yet breathed.
Voldemort was defeated. Tom Marvolo Riddle was no more. The blast of magic that had destroyed him had been so intense that it had welled outward in a bleeding wash, knocking friend and foe alike to the ground.
Truly, no one had any expectations of finding Harry Potter. He'd been much too close to the center of that explosion, the force of wand against brother wand too much, too great. The chances were so slim that at first no one even bothered to look; the ground was still hot, still singed with the force of that last magical attack, even the grass dead and dying. Still, there were those who felt they must look. Percy Weasley was the first of them, one of few Weasleys remaining after the battle. Both parents were gone, Bill and Charlie had died in the battle. Ron had been long since murdered along with Hermione, and Fred and Ginny had been accidentally caught up in an assault on Diagon Alley, leaving behind only a maddened George and poor Percy, Percy who was strong, who was concerned with doing what was right, who was alone.
It was Percy who found Harry there, cradling a horribly disfigured body to his chest and rocking back and forth slowly giving keening wails of grief, fingers trapped in strands of hair gone dank from the sweat of warfare and sticky with blood that was even still spilling from the wound in the side of the other man's head.
Wisps of crisped grass gave way, crackled beneath the fall of Percy's wary steps. For a moment he wasn't sure that it was Harry before him, kneeling amidst the unrecognizable refuse of what had once been human bodies, clutching close something that was just as questionably once human. Percy could feel it, feel the drift and twist as fleeing souls rushed past him, away from the battle grounds. At the edges of his vision, he could see a few fleeting flickers of ghosts starting to roam. Looking for loved ones, perhaps, or themselves in the ashen dirt.
The sound of Percy's voice almost seemed to echo back from the emptiness of body and scorched earth, mixed in with the raw sounds erupting from deep in Harry's chest. The young man never even wavered, only held that body close and screamed, green eyes clenched tightly shut behind his dirt-smeared face as he trembled there.
Percy knelt, the pressure of knee to ash tamping down more of something that had once been human. A soft silence spell over Harry crushed down the screaming, let Percy's own nerves calm enough to pry gently at the young man's arms. Perhaps there was hope for whoever he was holding, perhaps there was a weak pulse to be found...
There was nothing, the faint crumbling of skin against his fingers disgusting, making Percy cringe. It was obvious who it was, of course, once the head turned slightly, leaving the profile in obvious relief.
Most of the magical world was unaware that the man had been lovers with their Savior, their Deliverer from Evil. Very few had known that fact, or had known about the other. Percy knew, though. Percy knew and he softened, crumbling slightly in reaction to Harry's now-silent screams, even the release of his breath hidden by the spell the now-eldest of Weasleys had cast.
His fingers shifted, touched Harry's cheek, while his free hand withdrew his wand. It wasn't the wand he'd owned through all of his years in Hogwarts but a weaker replacement. Still, it took everything he had to crush down Potter's will to stay awake, for the simple sleeping spell to take place. Perhaps, when he had slept for a time, he'd stop screaming...
Conceivably. Somehow, though... Somehow, Percy doubted it.
"Severus. Severus. Severus."
He'd been saying it over and over again in his sleep, that name, magical words that Percy didn't know, that even the mediwizards hadn't known. The screaming had stopped sometime after Percy had put Harry to sleep, but the talking had begun then, soft words, spell words, things quite beyond Percy's ken. Still he sat by Harry's bedside and waited for him to wake, did what he knew he should do. That was Percy's way.
It was perhaps days later that Harry finally awoke, Percy still at his side. It had been a quiet morning, unremarkable in anything to Percy other than the sudden stop of the sussuration of twisting spells and the name of his dead lover.
"Percy..." That seemed confused, surprised. "Percy? Where is Severus? Draco?" Where once he would have asked for Ron and Hermione, now he asked for them, and the heartbreak on his face when he realized that Severus was gone was pitiful. "Oh."
"I'm sorry," Percy whispered, fingers clasping over Harry's nearest hand. Once upon a time, before the world had turned to so much ruin and ash, Harry had been almost a member of the Weasley family. That loyalty stayed, tightened with every one of their numbers that was lost until there just wasn't anyone left.
Those greener than green eyes closed, lashes dampening. No tears fell, though. Nothing escaped from behind Harry's eyelids. Instead, the young man heaved a great sigh that bordered on a moan, a shaking hand rising to cover his face for a moment. "Severus..."
Telling Harry that no one expected for him to be alive wouldn't have helped in the moment. Nor would telling him how many others died, while he survived. "The mediwizards... said it was quick," Percy tried to soothe, after grasping and then giving up on those first thoughts.
"It shouldn't have been quick!" Harry whispered fervently. "It shouldn't have been at all! Where's..." He paused, dry tongue darting out in an attempt to moisten even more parched lips. "Where's Draco?"
"Caught in the round-up," Percy murmured. He couldn't meet Harry's eyes just then, had to look to the speckled marble floor before he could continue, "Kissed."
"Wha...what?" Blatant denial lingered in that voice, hands coming down to cover Harry's mouth, not bothering anymore with hiding his eyes. "What?" It was a muffled sound, one of horror. "But the Dementors, they were HIS, they weren't... they weren't..."
"I'm sorry," Percy murmured. There wasn't anything for him to do but apologize, knowing that there was a hole gnawing its way through Harry's heart. "The Ministry pulled a few under its control again, and destroyed the rest."
The faint sorrowful moan that burst from the throat of the Man Who Persevered (as he was now known thanks to the Daily Prophet) shuddered. His entire body shook as he curled in upon himself, rocking back and forth faintly. Percy remembered the last time he'd seen Harry that way -- the night they'd found Ron and Hermione's bodies so carelessly dumped, pieces scattered hither and yon. "Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. I want to die..."
"No, Harry," Percy tried to plead, shifting his chair nearer to Harry's bed. "You... you did something the rest of the wizarding world couldn't, and it's finally going to stop now."
"No!" Harry yelled hoarsely, shaking his head, wild locks clinging sweatily to his head. "No! It's not going to stop! It'll never stop! You, you, you can't even know what they've DONE...!"
"Harry... calm down," the oldest of the remaining Weasleys pleaded in a strained tone. "It will stop... you just need to... Rest, Harry. I know things seem horrible today, but..." But he'd been told that a hundred times himself, and had hated it every time. "Fuck. I'm so sorry, Harry."
"He fought for us," Harry whimpered. "They both fought for us. The Ministry KNEW. They knew and they had him Kissed anyway. There's nothing left. Nothing. They could have saved Ron and Hermione. They knew about the Diagon Alley raid before it happened. They knew!" he sobbed, looking at Percy pleadingly. "They knew. They knew. Oh God. Oh God..."
"Don't say things like that, Harry," Percy half-choked. No, Harry's words were the grieving ravings of someone half in shock, someone who just didn't want to believe that bad things could happen so often to them. Perhaps the bandages that were wrapped around his head, tangling wild hair, were too tight. "Please don't -- just... do you want me to get a mediwizard for you?"
"I want to go home!" Harry said hoarsely. "I want to see him! What did they do to him, once he was Kissed!? Where is Severus!? I want to go home!"
"I don't know..." Percy started to stand, though he kept a hand on Harry's arm, trying to calm him still. "I'll ask Dumbledore, Harry -- then I'll take you home."
"I will have Severus with me. I will have Draco. You find them for me, Percy. You find them and you bring them home to me," the Gryffindor demanded, voice deep and low with hurt. "You find them. And after that..."
"I'll help you bury them... as they deserve," Percy murmured softly. He lifted his hand from Harry's skin, giving his friend a tense expression that couldn't even come close to being a smile. "I think they're both down in the dungeons."
"I won't bury them," Harry told him tiredly. "I won't. No. The Kiss steals your soul, not your life." Oh, but it was the soul Harry had loved, wasn't it? The Kiss was as good as death. "I want to go home, Percy. And I want them with me."
"But Proff... Snape is dead, Harry. I..." Wasn't even sure where he was -- though Dumbledore had probably had him laid in the dungeons with a preservation spell over him. He could hope. "Why don't you... see if you can go home, and I'll meet you there?"
"I'm going home," Harry told him faintly, uncurling and swinging his legs from the side of the bed. "I won't stay here. Not anymore. Not ever again..."
"Don't do anything rash, Harry." As he headed for the door, Percy hoped that Harry didn't decide to burn his bridges behind him. In a few months, perhaps a year, it would hurt less, and if he'd done regrettable things like Percy himself had...
"It won't be rash," Harry informed him softly, gathering the sheets about him. "Have someone bring me clothes, Percy. Where has my wand gotten to?"
"It'll be..." Percy checked the bedside stand and then rifled through the drawers there in his hunt. Little bottles of medical supplies, bandages, and there were fucking flowers everywhere again. The Weasley took a bit of delight from tossing them onto the floor, until he managed to dredge up Harry's marred-looking wand. "Here."
"It looks so sad..." Harry gave a soft, aching sound that was almost laughter. "Well. I suppose it would, wouldn't it?" A wave of the battered magical wood did away with all of the flowers, sending them all scattering across the floor in imitation of Percy's own motions.
Percy grimaced, more at the soft tired-sounding laugh than the motion Harry made. "I'll go ask for a robe for you."
"I'll go naked if I must," Harry sighed, turning to look up at him. "Percy..."
"No, just hold on, Harry." The tone, the timbre of Harry's voice, ached down to Percy's bones. Pain, and a want for the comforts that were now well and truly denied him. Percy couldn't stand it for more than a moment, and darted out of the private room -- only the best for the savior -- to snatch up black robes from a cart just outside the door.
By the time he returned, his almost-brother was standing shakily, looking at himself in a mirror and unwrapping the bandages around his head. "Find them for me?" he almost pleaded when Percy returned. "Find them for me. And then I want to go, I want to go right now, as soon as possible."
"Why don't you go on ahead? I'll... I promise I'll find them, Harry." Just as he'd found Fred for George, for all the good it had done. But it was something like closure, and Harry would need that. Carefully, Percy pressed the robes into Harry's hands. "I'll find them."
"Percy..." For a moment, it seemed that Harry would fall, would melt, would start screaming again. Instead, he reached out and enfolded Percy in his arms, holding him tightly for just a moment. "Thank you," he whispered, and promptly reached for the robes Percy offered, slipping them on with care. With any luck, he'd manage to escape unscathed, though Merlin knew the entire magical world was after him at the moment. Everyone wanted a piece of Harry Potter, or a touch, or something to put on their mantle, or, or...
Sycophants weren't what Harry needed. Percy watched him for a moment after that embrace, then turned to do what he'd promised he'd do. Go down to the depths of the lifeless parts of the school, bring up two corpses for Harry.
Green eyes lingered after him for long moments after he was gone before Harry, too, slipped out of the room.
The dungeons had always made Percy shiver. They were dark and creepy and Snape had been one of his least favorite teachers. The man had no respect for Gryffindors, and it was inevitable that a Weasley would be a Gryffindor. On occasion, Percy had wished that he'd been Slytherin just so that he could have that man's respect for what he knew. He never had, though.
Now he never would, Percy reflected as he crept down further. None of Snape's magical wards remained hanging in the air as they always had here and there in the dungeons. With the death of his magical spark, so had come the end of most of the 'life' in that part of the school. It was simple to walk the halls until he found Severus Snape's living quarters, where Percy presumed Snape's body would have been laid.
He hoped he wouldn't be wrong about that. He'd truly hate to search the entirety of the dungeon for the man, and he feared that he'd have to do just that for Malfoy. Merlin only knew where they'd probably put the living corpse of Harry's blond lover, and it made Percy shudder just to consider. "Ugh..."
Following instinct and guesses, Percy finally found himself before a door that had a snake carved deep into the age darkened wood. A fitting entrance to the home of the head of Slytherin House. It was a wonder the thing didn't writhe and hiss at him for daring to tread upon Slytherin ground.
Taking a deep breath, Percy pushed open the door quietly and peered into the murky darkness of the room beyond. He could hear breathing, and it made him shudder. Maybe he wouldn't have to search for Malfoy after all. "Lumos."
The room, even with the light from his wand shaving away the dark edges of cabinets and abandoned work-tables, still left Percy with a crawling scritch up his spine. It was... almost a pity that Malfoy wasn't dead. His soul would've without a doubt wanted it, prideful thing that the pale young man had always been. Snotty, just as Snape had always been an anti-Gryffindor bigot.
Even with those thoughts fresh in his mind, it couldn't cast light on the horrifying thing he saw.
Horrifying; it wasn't quite the right word to convey such a spectacularly terrifying panic that chased through him as he saw the room's contents, the bed where Snape had undoubtedly been lain in state before... Well. Before.
Suddenly, all of Harry's mutterings became dangerously, dreadfully clear.
There in the stately four poster lay two figures, both bearing the light bindings and wrappings of bodies ready for the pyre. In Percy's mind, the term lay was an exaggeration. Draco's pale body, gleaming white in the blue cast from the tip of Percy's wand where it peeked from the winding cloths, was moving itself against Severus's body mindlessly, with less direction than a rutting animal would have.
The disturbing part was that Snape was moving back, open beetle black eyes blinking.
"No," Percy said to himself, shuddering with a certain sickened horror. "No. I'm not seeing this. I am not seeing this!"
A grunting noise rose from one of them, though Percy, in his horror, doubted it had anything to do with his words. "S-st... stop this..." He paced towards them, the click of his shoes too loud in his own ears, as he reached hands towards them. He had promised Harry that he'd... fetch them.
Merlin. How was he going to fetch them when they were half-exposed by winding clothes and grinding on the bed!?
Well, there was nothing for it, he supposed. Resolutely, he turned to go through Snape's armoire, drawing out two black cloaks and moving back towards the bed. They were still moving, and so he closed his eyes tightly and spoke the word. "Fonticulus!"
A short blast of water hit the two of them, and for a moment Percy feared that he'd extinguished whatever was animating Snape. Reflexes made him cough up the water, though, and motion stopped between them. At least long enough to separate them, and once he started to stand Draco up, the pale boy completed the motion for him.
It was like dealing with a puppet, he realized. Once the strings were pulled a bit, the motion followed, filled out a bit more than a fantoccini might manage on its own. Percy drew a shaky breath and draped the cloak about the blond's shoulders before moving to bring Severus to standing as well.
Draco... was almost tolerable to move about. But Professor Snape... had been dead, had been mangled and crumpling to ash, not a thing of repaired flesh and bone that could stand on its own once stood. Best to not think on it, on what had been -- or what Harry has done. "We're going to go back upstairs..." As if they could understand.
They did seem to understand in the way some loyal pet would, for once he moved towards the door, they followed him faithfully. There was a lack of the sheer grace both men had exhibited in life, that was obvious, but still, they moved. They breathed.
Obviously, they fucked.
"Don't think about it, Percy," the redhead muttered to himself, pausing to pull up the hoods on their cloaks. It was better not to let anyone see them, he was sure.
The stairs were navigated slowly, carefully. Percy concentrated on each step, the footfalls just behind him, the faint hint of slime on the wall he kept his hand against for guidance. Had Harry gone ahead to the Burrow? Home. There was too much risk in going back to the infirmary with them behind him so mindlessly...
Later, when he had time, Percy would mull over why it felt so dangerous.
"Come," he breathed, hurrying forward as they came closer to the Great Hall and the doors outside, glancing from side to side. There was no small amount of urgency rising in him, almost a fear of getting caught, and he had to force himself to slow down. The more one hurried, the more conspicuous one became. He didn't want to be that.
Calm. A rushed man looked suspicious, and anything that drew suspicion could draw panic, and a quick, brutal death, given how many people were still jumpy from the last days of the war. Once out of the entry doors of the school, where the weakened anti-Apparation barriers now ended, he could apparate away with his... charges.
"Percy Weasley? Is that you?"
The voice rang out from the Great Hall, echoing in the foyer as they continued their steady march to the doors, neither hurrying nor slowing. Just another few paces. Just another few steps...
Four, three, two steps, one step, two more for the figures behind him to pass the border. Then a step backwards, quick, and he grasped the unexpectedly warm hands of each of them, and declared, "Dissapparate."
With a gasp, Percy stopped in the middle of the Burrow's living room, releasing the two living corpses at his side. "Merlin..."
The voice came from the kitchen, and it filled him with a certain dread. "Fred, is that you? Fred!"
"George..." Out of St. Mungo's? It was probably Harry's doing, though Percy was sure that the entirety of the place had emptied itself out in those final hours. Perhaps George had found his way home all on his own.
"Oh, Fred. I missed you! I missed you!" There was no pause between the arrival of the redheaded blur that was George and the desperate clutch he brought to bear around Percy, kissing him full on the mouth. "Fred, you're home..."
Percy's throat ached around the denials he wanted to speak, but couldn't. His arms clutched his younger brother close, though -- if George wanted to stay in his world where his twin was still alive... then Percy wouldn't be the one to yank him out of it. Maybe all of them -- he, Harry, George and those two... corpses could go mad together. If puppets could go mad.
"Where's Harry, George? Is Harry home yet...?"
"Fred?" George's voice trembled as he pulled away, tears flooding into his eyes and cascading over his cheeks. "No. Percy..." He went limp in his brother's arms, whimpering quietly to himself. "Percy. Harry came and then he went again. Where is my Fred?"
"He's in the back yard, George..." How many more times would he have to explain that to his dear brother? That a person with a mound of earth and a marking stone over the mess was dead, dead like Ginny, dead like Ron, dead like their parents were. And yet behind him stood two dead men... who had no right to be standing behind him. Swallowing once to keep himself in control of his faculties, Percy let a hand wander up to pet George's soft reddish hair. "Shhh. Do you know where Harry might've gone off to? I... I brought what he wanted me to get."
"He said to find out what they had done," George whimpered, nuzzling his damp face against Percy's throat. "I can't find my Fred. He wasn't in the back when I looked. He must be lost. He's lost, Perce. I have to find my Fred..." The faint sounds of Draco and Severus shifting closer, pressing together, didn't seem to bother him.
Like animals. They were all... yes, every last one of them were like animals. George like some wounded puppy, Harry some... some raving something. The metaphor slipped Percy's mind entirely, and he left it, as he twisted around to push the two figures apart. "Do you want to help me, George? Then I'll help you look for Fred."
"You promise?" The hopefulness there made Percy ache. "I'll help you..." Never mind the soft, mindless whines slipping from Draco's mouth, the huffs of frustrated breath leaking rom Severus.
"We're going to take these... them upstairs," Percy murmured, releasing his brother after a moment of trying to not think about what the two... men were like now, what they were. "Put them in robes, all right?"
"Oh. I have robes, don't I, Percy? They could borrow Dad's. Dad doesn't need them. Not like Fred will need his. I really have to find him, Percy. I don't know why anyone would take him away from me..." George sighed, taking the Draco-puppet's hand and gently leading him towards the stairs.
Percy was glad that the hoods were still over their heads. "Did, uh, Harry tell you what they are -- I mean, what's going on?" A touch to Snape's shoulders, and the man started to walk after Draco and George, which was almost a relief.
"He only said he was going to find out what they'd done," George replied in confusion. "He didn't say anything else. He came in and then he went out again. It seemed important to him that he go out..."
"George... Here." Percy pulled them all to a halt in the first ramshackle landing of the Burrow, and quickly pulled the hoods off of Draco and Snape. "They're dead -- only they're not, and Harry asked me to get them for him."
"How can they be dead but not dead?" George asked in confusion, tilting his head to the side. "Mum and Dad are dead, but they don't walk about. I don't understand, Percy," he sighed, looking at the blank faces which peered back at him. "Scowl, you! It's what your face does!"
"The Dementors Kissed Malfoy here," Percy murmured, lifting a hand to stop George from waving his fingers in front of their faces. "And Snape was... well and dead, and Harry brought him back to... this."
"Oh." For a moment, it seemed that George had been distracted from his true task, but he seemed to find it again shortly. "Can we go find Fred, soon?"
"Fred's like Mum and Father, George," Percy murmured, tugging at the two puppets again. "We'll keep them in Charlie's room, all right?"
"Fred's not!" George denied hotly, herding the blond fantoccini towards Charlie's room. "Fred's not! And why are you home but not Bill and Charlie?"
He didn't know. George didn't yet know.
"The war's over now, George," Percy murmured quietly, leading Snape with slight motions to follow after George. "I'm sorry..."
"Bill and Charlie aren't coming home....?" Like Fred hadn't come home. Like Ginny wasn't coming, or Ron, or Mum and Dad. His poor Fred... "My poor poor Fredkin. I can't go on much longer without him. He needs to come home soon." He wouldn't think about those graves in the back yard. They didn't exist for George.
"Keep a light in your window for him, George -- like you did at the hospital." Percy prayed to whatever was out there that had been ignoring him so fervently that Harry came back soon. Two walking corpses and a madman were enough to throw him over the edge too too soon.
"Percy?" George asked.
"Yes, George?" He was trying his best to be patient.
"Why is Malfoy fondling himself?"
Sure enough, Draco's hands were lazily circling, tugging away the gauze winding sheet that had been wrapped around him. For one crazy moment, Percy wondered if they'd planned on burning him alive, but then he shook his head and refused to think about it. No. It wasn't time to think about that yet.
"St... stop that," Percy snapped, pulling Draco's hands away from himself. They were repositioned on Draco's hips, and Percy hoped they'd stay there. "George, get Dad's robes."
"They won't fit Malfoy," George pointed out to him. "He'll just keep playing with himself. He's like a monkey now, isn't he? How odd. Bet he wouldn't like that. Look, Snape's doing it, too."
"Oh, fucking Merlin..." Percy darted to grab the forearms of the -- ex, now? -- Potions master of Hogwarts. It was horrifying on a base level, that such a once dignified and scowling form was blank faced and... ah... "Ron's robes, then, George -- or Ginny's, but for Merlin's sake, get something."
"I always wanted a monkey," George told him thoughtfully as he headed for the hallway. "It's kind of funny, isn't it? Fred would like it lots. Let's hurry and find him, Perce. He'll want to laugh at Malfoy with me..."
And then the room was quiet, except for the slip of fabric as Snape started to try to fondle himself despite Percy's hands trying to hold him still. He was tempted to cast a total petrification over them both, but Snape's life in particular -- if it could be called a life -- felt so tenuous that Percy didn't want to risk it. Instead he steered, first one, then the other, to sit side by side on Charlie's small bed.
It was distinctly disturbing. It reminded him of that awful muggle moving pictures Arthur had brought home, something about the living dead or some dark army or something. They moved, they existed, they even breathed, but they didn't live. It was terrifying, even if they only followed the same vague motions he suggested as if they were small animals. Even puppies had more personality, more life in them.
George certainly did. But, Draco's Soul had been taken from him, hadn't it? And Snape had died, so his soul was... somewhere. And just a bare moment without his direction, and both of them started to shift again, fumbling now with each other. It was impossible to stop, he decided. Better to just not look.
By the time George returned, he was steadily ignoring panting breaths and soft grunts, and he didn't dare look. No, he couldn't look.
"Hey, they're..." George began, startled.
"I know," Percy muttered, taking the robes from his brother's hands. "I know they are. They were doing that when I found them."
"I don't know about all of that," George whispered, peeking at them. "They seem as if they like it, though."
"Why don't you go downstairs and make tea? In fact..." Percy laid the robes down, and withdrew his wand without pause. Just a single simple spell, and the entire room would be warded to go into alarms if Draco or Snape tried to leave. "I'll go with you."
"And we can find Fred," George prompted. "Like you said we would."
"He's in the backyard, George," Percy eked out. He slipped a hand between George's shoulder blades, nestled firmly against his back, and pushed him gently for the door. "With Ginny, and Ron, and Mum, and Father."
"But he's not. I already looked out the window and there's no one there at all," his younger brother protested in confusion once he was out in the hall. "I looked, Percy. He's not there."
"Dead, George," Percy whispered tensely. "He's dead. Let's make tea, all right?"
Helpless tears filled George's eyes and spilled over, his entire body shaking as he tried desperately to hold himself together. "He's not dead, Percy. Please, Percy. Please, don't say that. Fredkin's not dead, don't say that!"
It wasn't a choice that Percy wanted to have to make, deciding between his brother's questionable sanity, and his own. "He's dead, George. You and I, and Harry, we're the only ones left alive." He was careful, as he spoke, to slip an arm around George's shoulders, pulling him close as they clattered down the stairs together.
"No, no, see, he isn't. He isn't, I'd know, wouldn't I? I'd feel him gone..." For a moment, George's voice trailed off in a whisper, eyes gone slightly wild. "I can't live without my Fredkin, Percy!"
"But you have. And you will, George." Percy's fingers rugged his brother's shoulder a little, as he half dragged and half steered him into the kitchen. "We all have managed."
"I don't want to manage!" George told him, shaking his head wildly. "I don't want to manage! I want my FRED back! NO!"
George found himself pulled closer to Percy as Percy twisted to turn into the kitchen. "It can't be done."
With a wail, he flung himself into Percy's arms, sobbing fitfully. "I-I-I-I I..." He wanted Fred, and that simply wasn't to be. All Percy could do was gently stroke his brother's head, rocking him back and forth soothingly.
"You've got to pull yourself together, George -- for Harry and me, hmn? Fred would want you to do that..." Twisted mental blackmail, but Percy would pull the trick if he had to.
"Noooo..." It was barely whimpered out as George crumpled down, pulling Percy with him. "Nooo...."
A hand reached past Percy, gently ruffling through George's hair. "Hush, Georgie. Hush. Your Fredkin wouldn't want you to cry like that, not any more than Draco or Severus would want for me to cry...."
Percy looked up at Harry from where he and his brother were sitting on the floor. Nor would Severus and Draco want to be like fornicating puppets, but he couldn't find the strength to say those words, to hiss them as he wanted to in sharp accusation. "Thank Merlin you came back, Harry."
"I had to..." Harry paused, still gently stroking George's hair. It did look a great deal like Ron's, so it was no wonder that he seemed lost in that moment. "Look up a few things."
"Fredkin," George whimpered. "I want my Fredkin..."
"Snape's alive, Harry," Percy murmured after a moment of thought. It was easier to convey that creepy fact with his eyes closed to Harry's nearness, to seeing George's distraught state. "You have to undo it."
That seemed to startle the green-eyed boy. "He's alive!?"
"If a puppet can be called alive, Harry." Percy shifted, stretching out one long leg to pull George closer, trying to soothe him. It was a lost cause, but he could still try. "There's nothing there. His soul's gone..."
One hand tenderly stroked George's tear-stained face, feeling the vague twitch and shift of muscle as he wept against Percy's shoulder. "Where are they? I want to see them."
"Up in Charlie's room -- Harry, they're not really alive, they're... they should be dead, they should be burned," Percy stressed. But would Harry listen to him?
"Would you have burned one of your family if they were... that way?" Harry asked, shaking his head. "I can't do that, Percy. I can't. I love them. And I can't."
"Their souls are gone, Harry -- just... go see." Hopefully seeing alone would convince Harry of what Percy's own words couldn't. "Go see them, then come back here and tell me what you learned by it, Harry."
The flat, hard expression that entered the younger man's eyes was terrifying. "I'll learn that I can't live without them, even if they're just puppets made of meat and bone, Percy."
Percy only nodded once, mostly concentrating on the slumber spell that he was carefully starting to weave about George. "I know... I suppose that it's something, isn't it?"
"It's better than this," Harry said softly, nodding to George. "Percy...."
George was already sweetly, blessedly unconscious. "What're we going to do, Harry?" That odd desperate feeling wouldn't go. "Dumbledore will come soon... to at least ask about why I left with Draco and Snape in tow."
"We won't be here when he arrives. We'll be leaving shortly," Harry told him. "There are things you need to see, and places we need to go. I'll go up and get Severus and Draco now..."
"Where are we going? Harry, there isn't anywhere to go..." Percy wanted to ask why they were... were fleeing, when they'd helped to win the war, but there was a feeling of being used hanging in the air. Almost betrayal, the abuse of which he was vaguely aware. Malfoy and Snape as sacrificial lambs, his own family...
Ron and Hermione, Fred, Ginny, Charlie and Bill -- and it had begun with the deaths of their mother and father.
"There are a few places. Places Severus knew. Places that will be safe for a while until I find what I need to know," Harry said softly. "See if you can find Lucius Malfoy. He's a bastard, a Death Eater, yes, but we'll need him. Narcissa is dead."
"Lots of people are dead, Harry -- why do we need him?" Percy started to rise, following instinct instead of his mind. He stood, pulling George as upright as he could.
"Because he'll still have access to some of the places we're going. He'll know more about them than Severus did," Harry said simply, moving out of the kitchen and towards the stairs.
"Places...? Merlin above, Harry.... why're we doing this? We won the war, you're the 'savior' of the wizarding world. Now we're sneaking like common criminals." George was dead weight in Percy's arms, so he cast a spell that would puppet him along.
"Because they lied to us, Percy. They lied. They knew that your parents would die. They could have saved Ron and Hermione. They knew the attack on Diagon was coming -- Severus told them." Harry took a deep breath. "And I'm almost certain Dumbledore had Draco Kissed purposely. I just don't know why."
"So we're going to Lucius Malfoy. I don't know how he's escaped being kissed..." But Percy followed Harry upstairs, pausing at the platform that branched off to Charlie's room. "What should we take with us?"
"Clothes. Whatever's in the kitchen. Any money you might have." Harry knew that wouldn't be much. "He probably wasn't Kissed because, unlike Draco, he wasn't waiting around and trusting in the Light side to do the right thing. He's a right bastard, but not a stupid one."
"We won't be coming back, will we?" Why was he even following? Oh, yes... because Harry had been almost family before things had begun to unwind, and was now almost all that was left. Harry and George, and George was almost as bad as those two puppets, wasn't he? "I'll pack George's things. His photos."
Thoughtfully, Harry looked at the remaining twin. "Yes," he said finally as he hurried up the stairs in front of Percy. "He'll want his pictures. Get as many as we can take. I'll get bags for Severus and Draco to carry, if they can..."
"I'll shrink as much as possible." Percy started to fidget George up the stairs to the next level, to what had been the twin's rooms. All he had to grab for himself were a few things of his parents', and his other siblings', and clothes; his brother, however, would've been loathe to leave behind anything that Fred had ever touched.
"Right," Harry said quietly, and opened the door into Charlie's room.
Soft whimpers and moans were sounding, heartbreaking little cries, and he winced as he looked in on them, his eyes catching sight of Draco's head flinging back and forth against the pillows, Severus's hair brushing at his face. It almost seemed... right, for a moment, before he moved and caught sight of their faces. There was, to put it lightly, something missing in their expressions as Severus thrust and thrust, as their two bodies scrabbled together.
Percy was right when he said their souls were missing.
God above how he loved them. He hurt down to the very bottom of his own soul, and he couldn't help the moan of horror that broke his lips as he stumbled to the bed. He dropped down on his knees, fingers reaching to caress over the vague trickle of blood staining Draco's thighs, falling to the bed beneath. That didn't seem to bother the body of the blond, though -- not the way he was whimpering and slamming up repeatedly to meet Severus.
No pain, now... just raw sensation, Harry guessed in his misery, as he let one hand drift up to press against Severus's hip. Still sharp, unexpectedly warm to the touch. Neither seemed to notice him, for the whimpers and straining noises, huffed breaths, kept up without cease.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, muffling the sound against the dark man's side. "I'm sorry I didn't protect you. I'm sorry I let this happen. I'm sorry I trusted them..." He was sorry for so very much, but sorry wasn't going to help anymore.
They only kept moving, despite Harry pressed close to Severus; kept moving until Harry, unwilling to check if the noises were right, felt the two forms melt together.
"Harry?" That was Percy, standing in the doorway and looking at him most seriously with that disapproving Prefect's face. If Harry had been capable of smiling, he would have.
"Yes," Harry replied woodenly, standing up to gently separate the two bodies, pulling them up and slipping on robes slowly. "We're... I'll get them re..." His voice cracked. "I'll get them ready," he whispered.
"Let me help," Percy offered. "Everything's packed, and George is rummaging the kitchen." It had taken a lie to get him there, though -- that Fred just might be findable where Malfoy was. Sick to say, but otherwise George was a sobbing mess despite the short nap he'd taken.
"...thank you," Harry said simply and began to carefully press closed all of the little buttons that would hold Severus's robes on the thin, lanky frame. "I'm sorry to drag you in with me, Percy. All I want is for things to be... to be like they were. And they won't ever be..."
"Draco's father dabbled in the dark arts heavily, didn't he, Harry? Maybe there's something that... can be done." Only the 'dark' arts would be of help to Harry, and out of all the wizards left in England, only Harry would have the raw power to make use of it. With that thought in mind, Percy moved near to button and then spell closed the front of Draco's trousers. "Don't be sorry for dragging me into this. If it happened on purpose to Draco, Harry, and if you're right about my family... then there's nothing for you to be sorry over."
"Isn't there?" Harry asked quietly, a hand tenderly placed on Severus's shoulder. The older man was squirming fitfully again and seemed to want to touch him. "If I'd just gone ahead and died the way I likely should have..."
"Then you'd be dead, and Snape would be dead, and so would Malfoy," Percy muttered as he shifted Draco's arms to put his shirt on, "and that wouldn't solve anything, would it?"
A slightly hysterical laugh bubbled up from Harry's throat. "When you put it that way, you sound very much like the old Percy Prefect."
It almost made Percy smile, as he aborted a motion to keep Draco from petting him. Harry wasn't aborting any motions, though; Percy could see, from the corner of his eye, Snape slowly lifting a hand to pet Harry's hair. "There's nothing wrong with that."
"Perfect Prefect Percy," Harry sighed, and buried his face against Severus's chest, enjoying the tender stroking of fingers. He didn't even mind when Snape's second hand rose to nudge its way up and down his arm. "No. There isn't."
Setting Draco's hands palm down on his thighs, Percy stood slowly and glanced to Harry. It almost... almost looked natural, like it should have been. Except for Snape's eyes, looking ahead and barely blinking, and the sad lack of emotion. But emotion took a soul, didn't it? "I'll put their cloaks back on," Percy murmured, picking the wadded cloth up from the floor. "And then we should probably leave."
"Right," Harry murmured, though he didn't move for a long moment. When he finally did pull away, it was reluctantly. He waved a hand, indicating that Severus should follow him. "Come," he said softly, and watched as Severus obeyed.
"Malfoy, too," Percy drawled, pulling the blond to his feet and sending him after Potter. "They'll follow you."
"Like puppies," Harry whispered, making the same association Percy had with a certain horror.
"It... could be worse," Percy murmured, moving to stand beside Harry. To tell, or to not tell? "They were both in Snape's rooms, in... burning wrappings. But there was no question that Malfoy was alive."
"They'd have burned him alive." There was no question in Harry's voice, only a sincere, deep and lingering fury, a dread that seemed imprinted on his face. "Percy. I can't let them get away with that."
"They have," Percy pointed out as he started down the stairs. "Well -- they would have. Now let's go before Dumbledore comes. George?" Calling out to his younger brother, as he peeked into the kitchen.
"Hello, Percy," George said. "I can't find Fred, but I did find lots of Mum's canning in the pantry..."
"Did you box it up?" Harry asked gently, separating Draco and Severus as they drifted together again.
"Perfect -- thank you, George." If he sounded relieved, Percy couldn't help it. The sooner they left, the sooner... the sooner the Perfect Prefect and the Man Who Survived could blend away, their three charges with them. Percy spotted two large boxes sitting behind the kitchen table, and moved to pick up one. "Get the other, George?"
"Oh," George said, "yes, yes, but what about Fred?"
"Fred'll be along later," Harry told him gently, nodding at the surviving twin. I'm almost sure of it."
"Can I leave him a note?" George asked, picking up the box just as he'd been told.
"No, but he'll know how to find us," Percy promised through half-gritted teeth. "Shall we apparate to just outside the manor, Harry? I'd rather not get splinched..."
"Don't worry," Harry promised him with a nod. "I know just where to go to keep that from happening." His green eyes drifted for a moment to Draco, softening, aching, and from there back to Percy. "I know," he assured him simply.
"Then we'd best all go now," Percy decided quietly. He nudged his brother with his elbow, herding the other Weasley towards Harry and his two companions. Shadows of companions, questionable as anything beyond life-size dolls of who they had been. "Lead the way, and we'll follow."
"Right," Harry said, holding out his hands to gently clasp those of Draco and Severus. "Hold on," he said, and when he felt George and Percy both touch him, they Apparated.
Ash, and wooden beams that jutted like bones out of the ruin of still smoking flowerbeds. Malfoy Manor had been a shining, white place, brilliant, well kept, the subject of many witch and wizard gardening weekly issues.
Percy felt his heart sink as his eyes drifted over the ruin. Malfoy Manor, Draco's father, what one hope they'd had...
"Come on," Harry said simply, and he began to walk through the ravaged gardens towards the gazebo that stood roofless to the sky in the midst of all that chaos. "Follow me."
"Where's he going?" George asked Percy in confusion. "Is Fred there?"
"He might be," Percy murmured, trying to soothe his brother as he watched Severus and Draco lag for a moment. They hung back, as if put off by the ash and tendrils of smoke -- and then a backwards glance from Harry, and another invitation, and both of them were following him puppylike again.
With a deep sigh, Percy took George's hand and herded him towards the gazebo as well, surprised somewhat when Harry stopped. The younger Gryffindor pulled out his wand and gave it a firm flick, eyes hard as he spoke a few words that Percy didn't quite catch.
The ground beneath the gazebo opened up, revealing a set of stairs.
"Come," he ordered, looking back to Severus and Draco again, and they promptly followed.
Of course Harry would know of such a place. Of course he would, given his relationship with Malfoy, given... Snape. Perhaps Lucius Malfoy wasn't so evil as Percy wanted to think he was? After all, the people that he'd trusted all of his life had turned out to be evil wretches. "Do you think he's down here, Harry?" he called past the two cloaked formed that were trailing the Man Who Survived.
"If he's anywhere," Harry agreed softly, closing that doorway with another wave of his arm. It shut them into darkness, so black and swallowing that Percy thought to clutch George close before he thought to call light from his wand. "He'll be just down this way," the green-eyed Gryffindor murmured, and began to lead them in what felt like a downward spiral through the earth.
The Slytherins moved through it with the ease and grace of long knowledge; or so it seemed to Percy and George as they stumbled along behind Harry and his faithful corpses.
"I don't think Fred will be down here," George said with a shiver.
"You never know, George," Percy whispered back to his brother, as he stumbled over a rough hewn step and quickly righted himself. "That's why it's called hiding, and it's certainly safer down here than it is up there..." Unless it lead nowhere, and the tunnel they were in collapsed. But it would be better for the three... five of them.
"It's all right," Harry promised. "This tunnel has never collapsed." It was almost as if he could read Percy's mind! "It's been here since the Burnings, created for the purpose of keeping witches safe from the Hunters."
"Did Malfoys build it, or did they simply place their home atop it?" Percy asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"Built it." Harry's voice was a bit muffled, or perhaps it was echoing. Something odd to Percy's ears, at any rate. "They came from the continent, and when they arrived, they charmed the land and built this retreat. If Lucius isn't here..."
"Then he's dead," Percy finished for him, softly. "The aurors might have known of this place, Harry..." And if they'd so callously killed Draco, who'd helped them, and they knew, then Lucius Malfoy was a corpse.
"It's doubtful. The only ones who ever learned the secret were the eldest of Malfoy sons and their spouses," Harry replied simply, pausing as they reached what seemed to be a dead end. His hand came up and pressed simply against the wall. "And only one of those could get past here."
The earth slid open slowly with a rasping sound, revealing another set of stairs that went down, down, down, with a very faint light at the end.
The light was better than the glow from the tip of Percy's wand. He watched the corpses in front of him carefully, ever wary of having one slip, fall, and break something -- or die again. And just as wary of George. "We'll be safe here," he murmured to his brother as they drew closer to the light, "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
"If we find my Fredkin," George agreed sadly, moving along with his hand gripping Percy's robes.
"Halt." The voice echoed up the stairwell, suspicious and filled with fury.
"It's me," Harry said simply, waiting. Lucius had agreed not to kill him when Draco had fallen in love with him. He wasn't worried about the other man hurting him.
"You... Why're you here?" Footsteps coming closer to their little groups, suspicious and angry. "Where's Drac--"
The question died on his lips as he saw the two figures shadowing Harry. Silent, still, without any of the motions and movements that marked either of them. Severus should have been hovering near the wall. And blinking more. And Draco would've rushed down the stairs before Harry, eager to greet his father.
But neither moved, or reacted at all.
"Dumbledore had Draco K-kissed." Harry's lips tripped over the words, head dropping in defeat. "And Severus died on the field, beside me."
"Then how..." Lucius brushed past Harry to touch the cheeks of both walking corpses. Warm. "You're more powerful than we suspected."
"I can make them live," Harry said faintly. "But I can't give them souls. I can't give back what's been taken from them. I can't bring the Weasleys back to life since the Ministry found them expendable. Lucius..."
Percy knew what Harry was going to say.
"Will you help me to fight against them?"
Against. Six of them, against all of that. Against a world of wizards who thought they were right, who saw those deaths as casualties that had to happen... And three of them weren't even whole. Percy swallowed, spoke up, "They've cost us so much, and we helped them..."
"Come in," Lucius bade after a moment. He stepped back from Draco, from Severus, and beckoned. "Of course I will. I told them both -- and you, Potter -- that the Ministry was wrong..."
"Voldemort wasn't any more right than they were," Harry sighed sorrowfully. "It was all a wreck, Lucius. All of it. And now there's nothing left of them..." Harry was following him, but Severus and Draco had fallen behind Percy and George and were once again drifting together. "Draco. Severus."
"They're not going to do what Fred and I do, are they?" George asked Percy.
"They might," Percy murmured, moving to grab Draco's arm and pull him away from Snape.
"What're they doing?" Lucius asked a bit sharply over his shoulder.
"They're..." The words seemed to escape Harry for a moment. "Humping, I suppose you'd call it."
Lucius stared at them both for a moment, then murmured a soft, "Of course -- Potter, haven't you any brains about you? Bring them along, you dumb boy."
"I might very well be stupid," Harry agreed with a sigh. "I can't figure out what to do with them." He took Severus's hand in his own and gently grasped George with the other. "Come along now."
"Do you think you can fix that?" Percy asked, suddenly anxious as he pulled Draco forwards.
"There are spells..." He paused, then glanced back over his shoulder for a cold, contemplative moment at Harry. "There are spells," he repeated as he opened another door with the press of his hand, "that can mimic a person's personality. Woven correctly, they will be able to think, react, speak, reason... through the shades of how we saw them."
"And what's required in those spells?" Harry asked him softly. It didn't matter. He didn't care. He would do whatever it took to get them back. He was curious, though.
"Intricate work. Perhaps with both of us casting, we'll be able to form more complete personalities than either could do alone..." Lucius's voice was chill, but thoughtful -- as if the idea intrigued him, the concept of what they were going to do.
"I'll do anything it takes," Harry replied, and that made Percy shiver with a certain amount of fear. That... That didn't sound like Harry to him. It sounded too cold, too firm. Too sure that he'd take any measure to get a semblance of his lovers back.
"You'll need to rest first," Lucius was telling him. "Particularly as there's nothing immediate we can do against the Ministry."
"He's still ill," Percy offered. "He left the Infirmary the moment he woke."
"I couldn't stay there another minute," Harry answered heavily. "Especially once I knew what they'd done to Draco."
"They'll pay for that, Potter -- they think allies are just trash to be thrown out when they're finished with it. They'll see..." Lucius herded them into one last room, an expansive, beautifully decorated room. It was cramped with things, though, and there were a series of doors that led off of that main room.
Lucius seemed to have emptied Malfoy Manor down into that hiding place before the aurors had struck.
It made Harry laugh, a soft, almost hysterical sound. "I can't rest," he said. "I can't rest, or they'll start doing it again. I caught them at it. It's, it looks so much like them, but it's not. I can't bear to see it," he managed to get out, eyes closing.
"I know." That was George, an unusual addition. "I know, Harry. I know it's awful to be without the person -- people -- you love. But if you don't rest, you can't search them out again."
"We'll make sure they don't, Harry," Percy goaded, while Lucius opened another door, gesturing Harry towards it. "Trust us to watch over them -- you need to sleep, just as George said."
Those green eyes turned back to him, desperation singing in their depths. "Please watch them," he said, and suddenly all of the exhaustion in him seemed to rise to his face. "Please, watch..."
Lucius caught him as he passed out, swinging the Gryffindor up into his arms. "Idiot," he sighed, shaking his head.
"He brought Snape back to life," Percy reminded softly, tugging at Draco's hand a little. "George, you watch the professor? I don't think Harry knew how much he took from himself to do that, Malfoy."
"It's not impossible," Lucius said, slipping Harry onto the bed in that room. "It is, however, highly improbable. Most remarkable that he would manage it."
"Professor Snape, don't touch that," George said uncomfortably.
"What's he -- Merlin, George, just hold both of his hands," Percy sighed, as he dragged Draco towards an over-stuffed looking sofa. "Can you spell back their souls, or...?" He wouldn't have thought bringing a body back to life was possible -- and now that it had been done, anything seemed within grasp.
"An approximation of their personalities, perhaps. Maybe even some vague resemblance of thought..." Lucius said, watching Harry. "We'll see. Potter is more powerful than I suspected. Perhaps he can do more."
"Then when he's rested..." They could stay up and watch the two soulless bodies. He had a fleeting thought of tying them up, but knew that Harry would have none of it if he told the unconscious wizard.
"We saw them walk right out!" Minerva said stridently. "Three of them in cloaks!"
"What concerns me," Flitwick murmured, "is not only that Harry Potter and Percy Weasley seem to have left with Draco Malfoy's soulless body, but where they might have stashed Severus's." The stench, he imagined, would be tremendous eventually.
"What I wonder is why they left," Dumbledore murmured, dismissing their concerns with his words. "Severus will be found, Filius, if he's in Hogwarts."
"Well, he couldn't have walked out with them!" Minerva protested sharply. "It isn't like those boys!"
"Harry Potter isn't a boy any longer," Albus reminded her patiently, "And Percy has not been one for some few years now."
"That doesn't mean that their natures would just change overnight," Minerva sniffed, quite put out by the mere suggestion.
"But facts say that Percy, Harry, and Draco's body left Hogwarts," Dumbledore reminded him. "And I felt a surge of magic in the castle, so it's highly possible that he disposed of Severus's body as soon as he'd come across it."
"But why would he do a thing like that?" Minerva asked. "He loved Severus."
"That may be why he did it," Filius suggested. "People can do strange things in grief... and we are all grieving Minerva, right now. For different people, but we all are..."
"Or perhaps he took Severus's body with him," Dumbledore suggested over the charms teacher to Minerva.
"I just don't understand why," Minerva sighed. "Draco was still alive, so he at least had something left to hold on to..."
"A Kissed body isn't really alive, Minerva," the headmaster murmured, "And as powerful as he is... Who knows what the boy may try. We know Severus was teaching him some of the finer points of the dark arts."
"Wait... KISSED!?" Minerva seemed shocked. "Oh, Albus, you didn't... How could you have? They didn't truly, tell me..."
"It was decided that there was a... threat inherent in Malfoy, and..." Flitwick trailed off, looking guilty. "The minister was entirely for it."
"Quite right," Dumbledore agreed. "There was little I could do."
"You could have STOPPED them, Albus! That's entirely unlike you!" Minerva replied. "You took away everything he had! Severus died, and you let them steal Draco from him!"
"Minerva," he said sharply, "I was unaware of what had been done until it was too late. Which is why it's important that we find Harry, and see how he is, or what he's doing."
"Oh, really?" The woman seemed to dislike that intensely, but she couldn't argue with it; not now, because it was important to find Harry and make sure that he was... Well, he wouldn't be all right. He wouldn't. But at least she could see that he wouldn't harm himself.
"Yes, 'really'." Dumbledore stood, and that seemed to be the close of their meeting. "Filius, I want you to search the dungeons for Severus's body. Minerva, you and I will look for Harry."
"I sincerely doubt we'll find him," the woman sighed, "but we should start at the Weasleys' home and from there, work out to the other places he might have gone. He wouldn't have returned to the Dursleys..."
"No, not there. But the Weasleys' house sounds the wisest place to start. Percy and... which one was it? George..."
"Naturally it would take someone phenomenally naive or stupid, Potter, to believe in the lies the Ministry and Dumbledore spilled to you. Love blinded my son and destroyed him," Lucius grumbled. "Severus, I'm afraid, has been stupid for years. Well, at least as far as that old man was concerned."
"Don't say that about either of them," Harry muttered sharply. "Severus wanted to do... something important in the world. Draco did, too." He didn't like the idea of being the love that had blinded Draco, or having been a direct cause of his being Kissed... Particularly with Draco looking blankly at him from the chair where he'd been placed.
"Well, they didn't quite manage it, did they?" Lucius asked him coolly. "Following you, Potter, was an ill choice, but a choice all the same; it was theirs, and they abided by it. The matter now is going to be how to give them at least some vague spark of life from our memories. I suppose you can do that."
"Tell me how," Harry murmured. His fingers itched as he touched his wand, begging to be used. Pleading with him to cast something, to take another life. Or to grant it.
"First you must read," Lucius told him darkly. "First you must learn. The Dark Arts are not easy, Potter."
"Oh, bloody..." George muttered. "'Course they are! They're as easy as anything else! Bet I could do it!"
"Severus taught me... a lot," Harry told Lucius just as darkly. "You can't fight dark magic with light magic, after all."
"True," Lucius sighed. "So true. All right, then, Potter." He handed over a fat tome that smelled faintly of library dust and worm eaten pages. "First, look at this. This is where you will begin."
"I wish I could speed read," Harry muttered, as he took the thing and started to leaf through the pages.
"Is there anything we can do?" Percy asked, vaguely anxious. He was tired of batting the pair's hands away from their groins, and Harry had refused to let either be petrified.
"Provide lubricant spells," Lucius suggested dryly, tossing up a hand in mockery of a wave as he headed out of the room. Harry's nose was already so deeply buried in the book that there wasn't much answer to be gotten from him.
"George, keep Professor Snape from... doing that," Percy instructed softly, "and I'll watch Draco."
"All right, but if he touches me, I'm going to cast lubricous," George warned.
"Just don't tell me." It wasn't the thought of Snape having sex so much as it was the thought of a mindless puppet doing it, sating a base urge as some bored animal would.
"All right," George agreed, and they went to watching the two living fantocinni boredly as Harry studied.
It was some hours later (and three lubricous spells) that Harry looked up from the book, pale, wan with study, grief and knowledge. "I can do it," he said hoarsely. "I know I can do it."
"What will it take?" Percy's head snapped up, lulled by near silence and boredom, leaving him eager to help and to please.
"Blood," Harry murmured. "Blood and memory and magic. Potions." It was a quiet answer, one not quite telling everything, but it was enough for the moment.
"Is there anything I can do on the matter...?" Blood sounded unpleasant, but he knew it was a powerful spell ingredient in any type of spell. "Should I go fetch Lucius for you?"
There was some momentary thought about the matter, it seemed, and then Harry nodded. It was a slow tip of his head, but it was a nod nonetheless. "Please," he requested, looking over at the remains of his lovers. "Please go and get him for me."
Percy didn't hesitate, moving from hovering near Harry, to the doorway and the main room beyond. Lucius seemed to like sitting there, surrounded by the tightly packed clutter of his Manor.
"Well, Weatherby?" the man asked with no small amount of sarcasm when Percy came into the room. "I assume Potter's ready to discuss matters, yet he hasn't finished the book yet. Am I correct?"
"He's finished reading the book," Percy bristled, "and he wants your help."
"Of course." Lucius sighed and set down the picture album that had lain in his lap. "Of course he wants my help."
"What were you looking at?" Percy couldn't hide the vague curiosity in his voice, peering at the thing as he continued to stand there. He had to crane his neck to catch even a glimpse of the interior of the book, in the wane firelight.
"Nothing you need to see," Lucius murmured, and yet as he closed it, Percy caught sight of one of the pictures there. Narcissa Malfoy was on her knees, gardening hat on, and Draco was laughing in her arms.
Life, caught in the image of a moment. Something that would never quite be, because of the Ministry's cruel betrayal. He couldn't apologize for it, as his family had been as much a victim as the Malfoy family. "Will there be anything I need to get you for this...?" Percy offered, as kindly as he dared.
"A knife. We'll need one, as well as several potions ingredients of the basic type. You'll find them over there." Lucius gave a vague wave of his arm towards another of the underground rooms nearby.
"I'll bring it up for you." And then, he wasn't going to offer any more help. He was going to avoid that room, take George with him, and let the two more powerful wizards work their magic.
Percy, after all, was no fool.
With a great sigh, Lucius moved into the room occupied by the enemy of the Dark Lord, the traitor, his son, and the mad Weasley. "Potter," he greeted. "I see you've learned to read."
"Yes, Lucius -- something I've always been able to do," Harry bit out. He was kneeling down in front of Draco, studying the young man's face. "Together... we should be able to make it work." There was an 'almost' at the tip of his tongue, but he didn't say it.
"Perhaps," the man sighed quietly. "It would be better if we had a third wizard, equally as powerful in the Dark Arts." That excluded Percy entirely.
"That would have been Severus... before," Harry murmured, shooting a glance over to where he sat, George still stilling his hands.
"I could do it," George offered happily. "I know lots of things one shouldn't know."
"Yes, perhaps," Lucius said, "but you're also quite mad, twin-Weasley."
"Oh," George said thoughtfully. "Hey, Harry?"
"Yes, George?" Patience above all for the remaining twin, perhaps more than Percy had.
"We haven't found my Fredkin yet," George noted. "I'll bet my Fredkin could do it."
"Your Fredkin, I'm afraid, is rather sadly departed," Lucius murmured with a deep sigh. It wasn't cruelty; just a simple statement.
"Did he happen to mention when he was coming back?" George asked.
Harry shot Lucius a glare, then told George, "Unfortunately, no. But you know how he loves you..." There was no point in reasoning with a madman, after all, and not point in rubbing the painful truth into his face.
"Oh. Well, that's no good, then. And Percy's just not the sort to delve into the Dark," the lost twin sighed gustily.
"Lucius, you and I can manage this by ourselves," Harry murmured intently, quietly, "unless you also have a book that will tell us how to bring a soul back to the body."
"No," Lucius admitted. "If I did, don't you think it would have been the first thing I laid in your hands, Potter?"
"Perhaps you were being asinine," Harry shrugged. "I could hope. Have you sent Percy for the knife...?"
"The moment he came to fetch me, Potter, he should be..."
"I found it!"
"...returning shortly," Lucius finished. "Now we just need to brew the appropriate potions."
Percy eyed them both, as he came in with the knife and a tray full of ingredients. Perhaps it would work, perhaps... perhaps the spell would make the presence of the two almost dead Slytherins more bearable. "I'll bring you a caldron..."
"A gold one," Harry added. "I know Draco had a gold one, and for the sake of purity..."
"For the sake of purity," Lucius agreed, "it is the instrument to use. I'm sure you saw it nearby the knife, Weatherby."
"My name is Percy," the oldest Weasley sniped quietly as he turned to get just what Harry had asked of him.
"We're all on the same side, Lucius," Harry muttered. "Against the Ministry, now."
"Old habits are desperately hard to break, Potter," Lucius replied with an ease that was almost disturbing. "Weasleys and Malfoys have been at one another's throats for centuries." He sighed. "Truthfully, I never thought a time would come when one might need the other."
"With Fred... away," Harry said carefully, "There's only he and George left. You, and Draco. Myself. Severus. I don't believe the past behind the family names matters when we've all been wronged so greatly."
"No," Lucius agreed, "but it doesn't make old habits any easier to change."
"I'd suggest working to change them," Harry told him softly. He picked up the knife from the tray then, inspecting the thin edge of it.
"It will cut easily. Slice better. When you run it across your arm, be careful not to cut too deep," Lucius murmured, changing the subject entirely.
It would be worked out later, Harry decided. "All I need is a thin line -- down to my middle finger's tip," he reminded himself verbally.
"Yes," the elder Malfoy replied. "Now, we'll do it this way, Potter...."
The world was coming apart around them.
It had been for some time; only they hadn't known it at first. They hadn't realized that it could be so dangerous.
That what had been done could be so wrong.
"This is what we deserve, you know," Minerva murmured hoarsely, face streaked with black smut from the fires. "This is what you brought down upon us, Albus."
"There was no way to know." The headmaster's face looked strained as he watched Flitwick run by with a small pocket of Ravenclaws in tow. There had been no united stand this time -- Flitwick was quickly working to get his Ravenclaws out of the school via a bargain with the Dark Lord, Sprout and her Hufflepuffs had fled days before under a similar agreement.
The Slytherins were the ones aiding in the attack on what was left of Hogwarts and Gryffindor tower.
"Wasn't there?" The Head of Gryffindor House faced their extermination with a sad coolness that anyone else would have found disturbing. "Wasn't there, Albus? You left him with the Dursleys. You kept him alone and kept him suffering so that he would be grateful to you when you rescued him to go to Hogwarts. You took away his only happiness, and you did it purposely..."
"The Ministry, Minerva." He gave her only a moment's attention, weaving a spell to separate the tower from the school. "But he is the Ministry now that he's demolished them. I suppose I should surrender, shouldn't I?"
"You should," she agreed. "Not that you will. You and I both know that you were the Ministry, Albus."
"Only most of it." He tipped his head down, to peer from the slit-thin window, and there was a momentary twinkle in his eyes. "Yes, I'll surrender. Owl him quickly and ask him to stop the siege. I will surrender."
"You'll die, you know," she said distantly. "He'll kill you."
"I am past my time," Dumbledore informed her just as indifferently. "And one man cannot wage a war."
"No," she agreed, though she believed him to be the root of this one. "One man cannot. He won't regret it, you know. Not now. Not when he's lived these years with nothing but toys at his side, mockeries."
"I know that he won't. And if it is the will of the wizarding world to be ruled by a madman..." Dumbledore shook his head as he started towards the spiraling stairs. "So be it."
"Albus," Minerva called, and he paused to look back at her. "I'll miss you. Despite everything."
Despite everything. Not because of everything, but despite how things had turned out.
"Rebuild the school, Minerva. These children need to learn what they can..." The only positive thing he could have a clear hand in, was the last thing on Dumbledore's mind as he started down the broken steps.
It was a difficult trip; half of them were missing, and the others were shaky. He was old, too, there was no denying it. Still, he made his way slowly into the large foyer outside the Great Hall and walked towards the huge front doors.
He knew what he would see when he reached them.
It must have been easy for Lucius Malfoy to move from the service of one dark lord, and into the service of another. Potter seemed ten years older, a hundred times more powerful then he'd been when he'd faced down and killed Voldemort. Flanking him were his lovers, the younger Malfoy and the rumored to be deceased Severus Snape. And to Lucius's side were two redheads -- the last Weasleys, Dumbledore presumed.
"Hold your fire!" he called out, as he swung the door of the Great Hall fully open.
"Do you surrender?" Potter yelled, his wand held forcefully before him as both of his lovers lifted theirs. It was disturbing to see; they moved in tandem, the dead looks in their eyes filled with something horrible, something beyond understanding.
It was something Dumbledore found himself not wanting to understand. "I surrender, Potter," the headmaster of Hogwarts declared, holding empty hands towards the sky as he stepped forwards.
"And are you prepared to die?" Harry asked him almost softly, those three wands pointed directly at the old man. He'd never killed anyone this way; in pure cold blood. He knew Dumbledore deserved it. He knew.
He just hated to do it this way.
"I am prepared to pay the price that you believe I need to pay," the old man said placidly, taking another step forwards. "Some of us are never prepared for Death, Mister Potter." A flickered glance to the two men flanking Harry conveyed his meaning.
"No," Harry agreed. "Not when it's Death granted by a hand that only wants to manipulate others."
"And yet now you manipulate... excuse me, run the Ministry..." Dumbledore took another forward step. "Kill me now, Potter. Don't waste time."
"I don't know why he wouldn't." The answer seemed slightly wooden when it spilled from the blond doll's lips, Draco's head tilted to the side. "You will suffer more if he makes you wait. We like the idea of your suffering. We are, after all, not whole at your whim."
"And at least," Lucius murmured, stepping forward to put a hand upon his son's shoulder, another upon Harry's, "Potter isn't hiding behind a waste of space such as Cornelius Fudge." Indeed, he wasn't; for Fudge had been one of the first to die.
"Years loyal service to you, Dumbledore, and what did it gain me? Nothing. You only know how to take in the name of your causes... kill him, Harry." Severus's voice sounded just as menacing, just as displeased as the headmaster expected of him, yet there was a faint woodenness -- like a talking toy would have. A faint ring of nonexistence.
"You herald the end of an era, Mister Potter."
"Perhaps so," Harry said sadly. "And I'm sorry it ever came to this. But you took them from me. You did it with clear purpose, the only things that had ever made me happy. The Weasleys. Ron. Hermione. Severus... And then Draco, and that was the very last straw. I never wanted to kill you, Headmaster, but there are other orphans in the world, especially now. Other children who will need guidance instead of abuse, and love instead of the denial of it in hopes that they'll follow you for the scraps you offer them. I'm sorry it came to this..." He paused. "But I'll do it all the same."
The wand that had defeated Voldemort pointed steadily at the old man as the words were spoken. "Avada Kedavra!"
There was no smoke. No brilliant fight that ended in so many deaths and freshly scorched field. There was no grand struggle -- only a dart of green light that licked at the old man, before he crumpled lifelessly to the ground.
"It's over," Percy whispered, falling to his knees and putting his shaking hands over his face. "It's over!"
"It's over," Lucius agreed with him gently, nodding to George. The half-mad twin moved to his brother and wrapped his arms tightly about him.
Severus lowered his wand, turning away from the lump and towards Harry and Draco. The motion was almost lifelike, almost remorse and pleasure knotted together, as he slid an arm over Harry's shoulders. "Right has won."
"I wish you hadn't died, Severus. I wish he hadn't had Draco Kissed. I never wanted to kill anyone again," the Gryffindor sighed, burying his face against the tall man's shoulder.
And Severus held him, as the real one would have done, with his free hand gesturing to the wizards who'd fought with them. He gave the orders to enter what was left of the school, and see to it that the Gryffindors surrendered peacefully. No more blood needed to be spilled. And as strange as it was for a near corpse to give orders, no one questioned, nor seemed to care when Harry's other side was flanked by the younger Malfoy, gesture the same.
"So this is the end," Percy said softly, looking up at the elder Malfoy with an expression that bordered on hopeful.
"Yes," Lucius agreed quietly, reaching down to pull him up and brushing red hair back out of his eyes. "This is the end."
"I didn't find my Fredkin," George noted with a sigh. "I suppose he really is gone, then."
"I'm sure he misses you, George," Percy couldn't help but murmur. Years and years of soothing George, researching, augmenting the war with his knowledge... finally blessedly over.
"Do you suppose we'll have normal lives now?" Lucius asked faintly, looking at Potter and his son and their Severus. "Or anything resembling such a thing?"
"Does such a thing exist?" Percy's voice twinged with bitterness, but he didn't let it go past that as he turned away from the school.
"No," Lucius decided. "But we can hope. We can all hope, can't we?"
Percy let his eyes drift -- to the Wizards going about their business of the clean-up, to Harry and his lover, to George, and then to Lucius's shoulder that was so close. "I'm surprised I still have hope."
"Yes," Lucius sighed. "But we do have it now. We have it, and we'll keep it, thanks to P..." His mouth paused. "Thanks to Harry."
"Do you need us any longer?" The question could have been innocent enough, though coming from the man standing at the side-board pouring three glasses of wine, it was less than innocent. Severus turned smoothly enough, walking towards Harry and Draco with the glasses gathered carefully in both hands. "Will you keep us, Harry?"
"I'll always need you," the Man who Persevered said softly, taking the glass from Severus's fingers. "I'll need you until I die."
"But we have died, really," Draco answered him a bit clinically. It had taken time and magic and blood by the pints to restore so much of them. Harry hadn't cared, and he still didn't care.
"But are we? I feel, I think..." Occasionally plotted, but there was still a hollowness to it that the man was aware of in some sense. He sat down, handing Draco his glass. "I wonder, sometimes. And sometimes I wonder if we aren't holding you in the past, Harry."
"Perhaps." It was a truly harsh admission to make. "Perhaps you do. But when have I ever lived anywhere but in the past?"
"When we were alive," Draco told him almost gently. "Then, you lived in the present."
"And in the future..." Severus trailed off, as he settled slightly nearer to Harry. "Perhaps we aren't as dead as you believe, Harry."
"You didn't see yourself after the last battle," Harry assured solemnly. "Or when all you could do was... was touch. Was..."
"Animal instinct," Draco dismissed with a wave of the hand. "But Harry... There's more to us now. Perhaps not as much more as you would like, of course..."
"But perhaps there is more, but you dismiss it because we aren't supposed to be more than... dolls." The last word was sneered, as Severus took a sip from his glass.
"So tell me," Harry said softly. "Tell me if there's more. Tell me you aren't just some facsimile of some sort. Tell me!"
"Harry," Draco said almost tenderly, "we are telling you."
"We think, we argue with you, we help you, we occasionally do unsavory things of which you don't approve -- everything that was, now is. Perhaps... The spell Lucius and you wove was stronger than you thought, did more than you thought." The rest of the glass was drained, set aside in a gesture that was achingly familiar to Harry and always was. "And perhaps it's simply taken these last few years for strength to return."
"Perhaps our magic will never come back..." That, of course, was still sadly lacking, light spells barely sparking, accio spells never actually retrieving anything. "...but that doesn't mean our lives and minds have not."
"You..." Green eyes welled sharply, allowing Harry a momentary sharp pang he hadn't given himself in so long. "You're..."
"We had the memories that you gave us, of things that we had done that you had knowledge of. But recently, there have been... things that neither you nor Lucius knew that I recall, that Draco recalls..." Severus glanced to the blond, and then more solidly at the green-eyed man. "The soul knows no concept of time, and wakes up slowly. Babies take years to awaken to a realization, as have Draco and I. Reawakened."
"Corpses of sorts, perhaps," the younger Slytherin murmured. "Perhaps. We'll terrify anyone who fears you all the worse for it. But... between us... It's not really true."
Not really true.
Harry Potter and the wizardly remains who were his lovers.
Perhaps it wasn't really true after all.
None of it was.