Author: Zagzagael PM
Response to WIKTT Wizengamot ChallengeRated: Fiction K - English - Severus S. & Hermione G. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 5,493 - Reviews: 36 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 11-13-03 - Published: 10-31-03 - id: 1580718
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He is crouched before me, his face pressed against my knees and I watch helplessly as his shoulders shake under the terrible weight I have placed upon them. I reach out, stroke the raven hair and with a strange foreboding feel the curve of the skull beneath.
I murmur softly to him now, "shh, Child, shh." There are no more words. I am mute. I want to take him into my arms as I had longed to over two decades ago, he the prodigal son returned. I know he would allow it this morning, having denied me such an embrace all these years. But I will leave him his hard worn dignity.
We argued ourselves hoarse and the end result was will over power. I wish it were so more often. There is a teaching in that. He wanted, nay needed, to press me on how long I have known this truth. Has this role been marked upon him for these twenty-two years? I could not bear to tell him how I perceive it. He asked me why there is so much religiosity in it. I could not answer that because I do not know. It feels sacrosanct, to each one of us. And he laughed without humour, the laugh of a man balanced upon the precipice of his own sanity. He believes that to consecrate what we are going to do grants Tom Riddle with far more than the monster is deserving. Do not name him that! He cried. He is not that! He shouted.
And then he shuddered, and the first hairline crack appeared.
This is what finally breaks him. For nearly three decades I have wondered how it would look, what it would be, whom it would touch. Unlike others, I never expected him to shatter, but this agonizing splitting and cracking is not what I imagined either.
He has come to me alone; the boy and the girl are somewhere else together no doubt trying to breathe courage. But between us, it is an exchange, it has always been thus. Now he takes strength and I take humility.
He stands and we cannot bear to look into one another's eyes. He bends towards me and I feel him press his thin, dry lips against my freshly shaved scalp. I hand him my wand. He turns and walks under the veil of the new day, the hour of sunrise.
I am past any need for sleep, but I do close my eyes and feel. Hogwarts has become a reliquary.
Harry had one hand under her elbow, his grip firm and she relished him his steadiness. Hermione looked sideways at him, his profile still boyish at twenty-three, his glasses perpetually sliding down his nose, and the black hair sloppy, untamed. Sensing the movement of her head he looked down at her. She winced at the openness of his face, the concern written there and in that moment she felt the great love she held for him swell within her. She did love him. He was the brother she chose, as was Ron. She smiled at him, he hesitated a moment, he never did believe her when she feigned bravery, and then returned her smile.
They could hear Ron and Arthur whispering angrily behind them in the hallway.
When they had arrived at the Ministry, twenty minutes before, Hermione stayed very close to the wall. Harry had been tight-lipped on their journey down, eyes focused somewhere in front of him. But he had felt her distress, understood her panic. He came close to her, matching her step for step, shielding her with his own body, his bigger presence. And she had been left blissfully alone with him standing between her and the world.
She had lost so much by the end of the war, but this morning it was the loss of her confidence that ached, a battlefield amputation.
The first week following that last day had been hour after hour after hour of pain. Headmaster Dumbledore's sacrifice had destroyed her. She screamed until she screamed herself empty and then was silent until her silence filled her and the pain was pushed out and only the images remained. Living through the last day of his life had scorched her very soul, had ripped the eyelids from her mind. She could not look away. She saw and heard and remembered. Seven weeks now, and she could finally hold the images at the peripheral edge of her existence.
She glanced sideways at Harry. He looked so tired, drained; she assumed that they all did. He wore his hero status stiffly, like a burial suit. Glowering at any unfamiliar face that approached him with an awed and presumptuous countenance, it was only upon strained and emotional soul-baring that he relented and exchanged a few empty words with a fellow survivor.
The door to the Wizengamot opened with a stern groan. A wizard in dress robes stood silently aside and they filed past him and into the cavernous space. For one wild moment, Hermione thought that the gathered witches and wizards were going to stand and applaud their entrance. Harry squared his shoulders and ducked his chin down against his chest. She knew he had imagined such a thing as well. They allowed themselves to be led to seats and they sat. Hermione kept her face composed, looking forward.
He had not been brought in yet.
She did not trust herself to see him. She shook her head in a quick movement of dismissal and the heavy plait of hair that fell down her back brushed against her shoulder like a lover's caress and she groaned aloud. Oh, gods. His incarceration strangled her, it filled her lungs with grief and she could not breathe.
The stern looking wizard in the deep red robes stood and with a throat clearing cough he intoned, very loudly, his words echoing around the cavernous room, "Bring in the accused traitor and political assassin, Severus Snape."