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: Love Sex and a Bottle of Vodka :

: Chapter Twenty Eight :

You said that you would love me forever, but that didn't really work out, did it?

First we came to Hogwarts and you ignored me. And then I forgot you. And now you died.

I knew you were going to. Die, I mean. I knew what was going to happen the minute I whispered in your ear that it was Dean. I could tell by the crazy look on your face that you wanted to kill him. But Dean wasn't someone that you would think would die, when you look around a room full of people. He's not the type to die so soon.

But you were. You were so powerful and so beautiful and so sad and so young. You were too bright to live for long. You were like a god, a star, a burst of spangled lights that hang in the night sky as a backdrop for the last turn of the Ferris wheel. You were going to burn out so soon, too soon.

I was sitting on the infirmary bed, picking at my cuticles, when they walked in to tell me what I already knew. I was expecting to hear what I did but at the same time, I kept hoping that I was wrong. I don't remember much then. I just remember realizing I can't see you again. Forever.

I can't see you bite your lip when you're concentrating on something. I can't see you stand at the stove, with a silly apron on, trying to scramble eggs and hopelessly failing on a Sunday morning. I can't see your gray eyes, your blonde hair, and your small smile. I can't see your face next to mine when we wake up on a sunny morning and we realize we both dreamt the same dream the night before.

Remember how we used to fight when we were younger? I would have never guessed that it would have been you that I would kill to have just one more minute with. If I could just have one more minutes with you…I guess I don't know what I would say.

No, I lied. I guess I do know what to say. I'd say I'm sorry.

I'm sorry, Draco. I'm sorry for what happened with Dean. I'm sorry that it had to end this way. I'm sorry that you died. I'm sorry that I'm left behind. I'm sorry you went where I couldn't be with you.

But I'm not sorry for what we did. I'm not sorry for this past summer. I'm not sorry for every time I said I love you and you said it back. I'm not sorry for falling in love with you.

And if I had just one more minute with you, I know you would say the same thing to me.

I'm sorry.

Ron and Ginny were pushed along the flow of people that were filing out of the Great Hall after the verdict had been given. It was almost anticlimactic, the way they pushed Dean out of the room and the jury and judge followed. Ron and Ginny clung to one another, the only familiar thing in this strange, cold place now. Finally, when they were outside the Great Hall, Ron pulled Ginny against the wall right outside the door, away from the flow of people.

"What was that?" Ron whispered. Ginny, eyes wide, shrugged. She caught a glance of Pansy passing by, face covered by her robes. Ginny shuddered and looked away.

"What do you mean?" she asked back. She didn't know why they were whispering; it didn't seem as though people around them could hear them. The entire student body of Hogwarts were milling around aimlessly, as though in a stupor. It seemed as though a spell, just like in the fairy tale, had been cast over the whole castle and only just now everyone had woken up, disoriented and dazed.

"The verdict! That was bollocks, Ginny! We both know Dean intended on offing Draco, maybe even Harry!" Ginny shook her head.

"I know," she said, softly. "But you heard them; they said Harry wasn't testifying and he was the only witness. Dean, obviously, wasn't about to admit cold murder against himself!"

"What's to become of Dean then?" Ron asked, quietly. Ginny shrunk against the wall when an errant elbow caught her in the ribs.

"I don't know; the sentence wasn't very harsh," she said. "None of this makes sense! There's something so strange about all of this, I just can't put my finger on it."

"Wait a minute," Ron said, suddenly. They looked at each other.

"Where's Hermione?" Ginny asked, echoing what was running through Ron's own mind.

"Hermione!" Ginny clutched her robe closer to her; it was getting dark and cold. She wandered almost aimlessly, trying to find her friend. Her feet hit a worn path that led her to the lake. There, standing motionlessly about knee-deep in the cold water was Hermione.

"Ron!" Ginny called. She tried to wave her brother over but it was hard to tell if he saw her. The long, frigid day was turning over to a freezing night. Pausing only to kick off her shoes, Ginny waded into the icy water and tried to push back the shock of the searing water hitting her skin. Her robes floated around her as she carefully sloshed her way to her friend.

"Hermione? Hermione, let's go. You'll get cold," she said, wrapping an arm around her friend. She tried to turn Hermione back towards the shore but her friend resisted.

"It's not cold," she said, in an automated voice. "It's not cold. I can't feel it."

"You're just numb," Ginny said, trying to speak as soothingly as possible.

"Hermione!" Ron splashed his way into the lake, yelping and swearing as he made his way to them.

"Come on, Hermione. You'll catch your death out here," he said. He put his arm around Hermione's shoulder as well.

"Stop, just stop," Hermione wailed. It was a child's sob, a strangled cry with no hope, just despair. She pounded her fists against Ron's chest half-heartedly as she shook. Ron wasn't sure if it was from the cold or just from sadness. He pulled her close to him and let her cry. She was shaking so hard and he could feel her tears through his shirt. He caught Ginny's weary gaze. Their identical amber eyes were clouded with confusion. What could they tell Hermione? There was nothing they could tell her that could make her feel better. Resigned, Ginny took off her robe and settled it around Hermione's shoulders.

"Let's go, Hermione."

"I saw him here, did you know that? I saw him here and he was so beautiful." Hermione was still sobbing and sank down on her knees, up to her shoulders in the icy, black waters. Ginny's robe slipped off and floated haphazardly away by itself, like a dark wraith.

"Hermione, you're not making sense," Ron said, quietly.

"Ron, help me get her up," Ginny said. They each pulled her up by an arm and slowly started to walk her out of the water. They were thoroughly drenched and shivering visibly.

"We have to get her to Madame Pomfrey and fast," Ron said. "She's turning blue." They started, miserably and slowly, back to Hogwarts, where none of them really wanted to be anymore.

Harry waited until Madame Pomfrey left the room. Then he carefully sat up and paused and gasped, feeling pain sear through his whole body. He touched his chest, where the blood soaked bandage was. He still couldn't believe he was alive. Swinging his feet over the side of the bed he carefully placed them on the cold stone floor. He counted to ten then forced himself to stand up and leave the infirmary.

The corridors were empty. No doubt they were still huddled in the Great Hall, gossiping and trying to figure out just what the hell had happened. Harry shook his hair out of his head and started to run. Sharp needles of pain started to stab at his wound and his feet ached but he kept running.

Madame Pomfrey would never forgive him and he'd probably be stuck in the infirmary until the end of the term. That errant thought floated past his mind as Harry tried to catch his breath, turning a corner. He leaned forward and started to wheeze and cough. He tasted tangy metal in his mouth that he knew would be red in color.

"Potter! What are you doing here? You should be lying down!" Harry inwardly groaned. Of all the people to run into…

"I need to talk to Professor Dumbledore," Harry gasped. He grabbed at his chest; to think he knew pain before this. Snape whirled upon him like a raven in his swirling robes. Harry felt cool fingers press against his wrist, presumably checking his pulse.

"This will not do," Snape muttered. "Come, Potter, I'm sure whatever you need to say can wait. You have to be back at the infirmary."

"No!" Harry shouted, pushing Snape's hands back with whatever strength had had left in his body. Harry felt his back hit the cold, stone wall and rested against it for a moment, sliding to the ground.

"If it could wait, do you think I would be here right now?" Snape was looking at him with an indecipherable expression.

"You have quite the reputation of blowing things out of proportion," he said, with only a touch of wryness in his voice. Harry shook his head. Snape needed to understand. He needed to talk to Dumbledore and now before he passed out or died from blood loss or whatever horrible ailment that the cosmos might throw at him to keep him from learning the truth. The fucking truth that is always so unattainable. He's spent the last seventeen years of his life with people concealing things from him but not anymore. He wanted to know what happened to his friend and he would find out.

"This is not like those other times," Harry said, lowly. He looked up at Snape who still had that strange expression. They stared at each other. Snape seemed to be sorting through a medley of emotions. Here was the boy that he would distress at any opportunity he got; here was the boy that held the face of his father that was the bane of his existence. But was this really the time for ancient grudges? As all of this passed through his mind, Snape's eyes cleared and settled on the face of the pale boy before him.

"I didn't see any of this," Snape said, slowly. "And Madame Pomfrey will not know of it until you are safe and away in Dumbledore's office." Harry breathed a sigh of relief and stumbled towards the statue entrance to Dumbledore's office. When he stopped before it, something inside of him snapped.

"Open up!" Harry screamed. "Open up!" Suddenly, without another soul in his vicinity, Harry felt his sanity leaving him. He pounded at the statue.

"Open, damn you, you owe me! Yes, yes you owe me. You owe me an explanation!" Harry slumped to the floor, out of breath. The statue started to move as Dumbledore hurried out of it, looking alarmed.

"Harry Potter?" he said. The old wizard hurried to the young boy and helped him up.

"You should be at the infirmary," he said, checking Harry's pulse, much like Snape had done.

"No," Harry said. "Not until you tell me what is going on." Dumbledore found no argument in his face and helped the boy into his office. He quickly set a mug of hot tea before Harry. The boy pushed it away.

"Why is Dean being charged for the death of Draco Malfoy?" he demanded. Dumbledore look at him, looking surprised. A little too surprised, for Harry's taste.

"Didn't you hear the sentence? Dean's been cleared. He is not guilty," he said mildly.

"You know what I'm talking about," Harry said, leaning forward. He vaguely realized he was dripping blood onto Dumbledore's table but he didn't care.

"Why is Dean being charged for the death of Draco Malfoy? You know as well as I do, Professor Dumbledore. I know you do. Draco's not dead."