Chapter 42: Wash Away

June 6th, cont'd again.

Pulling herself from Harry had proven to be difficult. She wanted to stay by his side, to comfort him and be there for him as he tried to process everything that had just happened. They remained in the tower for a long while, until Hermione and Ron had come to search for them.

Harry had asked her to come to the Gryffindor tower with him, but she declined. She needed to make sure Blaise, Pansy, Theo and the others were okay. Needed to clean herself up and lie down, she was desperate for a shower, wanting to wash away the blood and filth of the night. When she returned to the Slytherin Common room, Blaise was sitting on the sofa, staring into the fire and looking terrified. He didn't look as if he had slept that night, and she was sure he probably hadn't. He didn't notice her come in, she assumed there had been many people in and out of the Common Room all morning, and took no offense.

She crept up the stairs and breathed a sigh of relief that the Dorm was empty. She assumed that students' parents had probably begun to show up in Hogsmeade to take their children home. She was thankful for that. She walked straight to the bathroom and peeled the clothes from her body, stepping into the steady stream of water to wash the grime and filth from her skin.

Her knees were purple with sickly bruises, and her thighs, sides, and back were streaked and spotted with cuts, scrapes, and bruises as well. She could feel the knot under her right eye, swollen and painful. She wasn't sure where it had come from, maybe when she fell on the ground when she got hit with the Cruciatus curse. Possibly from one of the backfired hexes she sent at her father? Who knew? She supposed it didn't really matter where it came from.

She dried off and pulled on a pair of shorts and baggy cotton t-shirt. She padded down to the Common Room, barefeet and wet hair, and sat next to Blaise on the leather sofa, folding her legs up under herself and staring into the fire.

"He's gone, isn't he?" Blaise asked.

She nodded. "Yeah."

"And Dumbledore… He's really…?" He turned his torso to look at her.

Again, she nodded. "Yeah."

"Was it… Did Draco..?" He asked, a sad fear in his eyes, unable to finish the question dancing on his tongue.

Elara shook his head. "No."

Blaise's tongue flicked against his lips, nervously. He nodded his head and bit on the inside of his right cheek. She could see his chin trembling a bit, biting back tears. "And you? You're okay?"

"A bit banged up." She admitted. "But I'll be fine."

"I tried to talk him out of whatever he was doing. I talked to him, right before everything happened. Right after he gave you your birthday gift. I tried, Ellie."

She rubbed his back, between his shoulder blades. "I know you tried." She said.

"Who was it, then? If it wasn't Draco?"

"Snape." She said.

His dark eyes locked with hers in bewilderment. "Snape? That greasy old bat?"

She nodded. "I watched it. It was him."

"You watched it." He repeated.

"Me and Harry."

"Oh, fuck." He whispered. "Shit, Ellie."

She pursed her lips. "Yeah."

"Pansy's probably gone by now." He said. "Her father was on his way to get her. They opened the Floo Network so parents could come get their kids."

"Is your mum coming, then?" She asked.

"She's waiting until the funeral." He said. "She wants to be here for it. Apparently, she had kept in contact with Dumbledore for years. I think he probably tried to get her to join The Order."

"Wouldn't surprise me." Elara said. "She's wealthy, influential… She's not afraid to bend the rules a little… She's a good candidate."

He laughed. "Except for the 'kills her husbands' part, I guess."

"Allegedly." Elara reminded him, chuckling as she said it.

They sat in the quiet for a while, staring into the flames of the dying fire. Elara's body was exhausted. She hadn't slept and it was wearing on her, but she knew if she closed her eyes, it would not be a peaceful bliss that she would succumb to.

"Are you okay?" She finally asked, watching her friend with a sidelong glance.

She heard him breathe in a harsh sniffle, rubbing his face with his hands. "I'm fine, yeah." He said.

She turned to look at him, narrowing her eyes. "You don't seem fine, Blaise."

He sighed. "I just…" He cleared his throat. "Where do we go from here? You know? How are we supposed to come back next term?"

She shrugged. "Not sure if I will."

"What?" He asked, finally facing her. "Why not? Where would you go?"

"I don't know." She admitted. "I think… I have to figure out a way to get to Draco. Blaise, he isn't one of them. He can't be a part of whatever they'll be planning."

"He made his choice, same as you." Blaise said, his voice hard.

She sighed and leaned her head on his shoulder. "It wasn't the same. It's never been the same."

"You're going to get yourself killed."

She nodded. "Probably."

He shook his head, looking down at his feet. "Just remember you always have a safe place with us. Me and Mum, I mean. You have a portkey, you can come anytime."

Her lips quirked into a small smile and she pat his arm. "I'm going to go find Harry. Make sure he's alright."

Blaise pulled her into a tight hug, holding her small frame tightly. "Stay safe, Ellie. Don't do anything stupid."

She squeezed him back. "I can't make you any promises on that. But I'll try."

He broke the embrace and rolled his eyes. "A 'yes, my dearest friend, I will make sure to stay out of trouble' would suffice."

She laughed. "If I said that, I'd probably be lying to you." She stood up and headed toward her dorm to grab a pair of shoes and her wand.

"Lie to me, then! Help me sleep better over the summer!"

She rolled her eyes. "I love you, you git. Go get some rest, you look terrible."

"I look a hell of a sight better than you!" He hollered after her.

She slipped on a pair of trainers and tucked her wand into her waistband. He wasn't wrong, she thought, she really did look terrible. She chuckled quietly to herself. She had just fought in a battle, sat through several rounds of being tortured, watched a well-respected wizard be killed by someone she trusted, watched her brother make the worst mistake he'll ever make, and fought her father. And here she was… Worried about how she looked. Did the brain of a teenage girl have no limits on making her feel self-conscious?!

Harry held his head in his hands. He couldn't remember the last time he got a decent night's sleep, but he was certain he needed one. After Hermione had all but forced him to shower and change, he remained in the dormitory, finding solace in the break of question asking and concerned looks.

It had been three days since that night. He had spent most of his time alone, or with Ellie, Ron, and Hermione. It seemed awkward now, to talk to them, to try and make sense of things out loud when they were torn down as well.

He needed to process. He needed to fit together the pieces of this totally fucked up puzzle that had just been scattered everywhere. He needed to figure out a plan. To figure out what he had to do next, where to go. His head jerked up as he heard a soft knock on the door and he groaned.

"Yeah?" He asked, his tone a bit short.

Ron and Hermione pushed past the door, closing and locking it behind them. They sat on either side of him and remained quiet, waiting for him to speak. He wondered what he had done that made him deserve friends like them. Although, if he were being honest with himself, he didn't deserve them.

"It's starting soon." Hermione said, her voice softer than Harry could remember hearing it.

Harry grunted and forced a nod.

"Did you really tell Ellie?" Ron asked. "About the Horcruxes…"

Harry nodded again. "Yeah. She deserves to know what she was fighting for."

"Did she have any ideas about who R.A.B. could be?" Hermione asked.

Harry shook his head. "No."

"We should get going." Ron said. "Ginny went to meet with Ellie and Luna in the Great Hall. I guess we're all going from there."

"Yeah, alright." Harry said.

His dress robes felt uncomfortable. Stiff and choking at the collar, heavy and hot in the summer weather. It seemed like the sunshine outside was mocking them, taking the grief of the castle and smiling upon it. He made his way into the Great Hall and was shocked to see the intermingling of people. No one really sat at their house table, they all just sat scattered around, sandwiched between friends and family members that had come to the castle to pay their respects. He looked up at the staff table, noticing first, the Minister of Magic surveying the hall. His eyes fell then, to Dumbledore's chair, left empty in the center of the table.

Harry pulled his eyes away from the table and was surprised to see Elara, Ginny, Luna and Neville all standing together at the end of the Gryffindor table, accompanied by Blaise Zabini. He knew Blaise and Elara were close, but he hadn't made a point to become friendly with the Slytherin. He had always thought Zabini was arrogant, at best.

"Potter." Blaise greeted him with a handshake, which Harry returned.

"Zabini." He said.

Ellie offered a soft smile that took his breath from his chest. The bruises on her face looked so out of place on her usually perfect, porcelain skin. The swelling just below her right eye had gone down quite a bit over night, and Harry was thankful for that. He felt terrible, that she had gotten involved at all, let alone hurt.

He wrapped an arm around her and pressed his lips to her cheek. It was confusing, whatever this was between them now. They hadn't actually talked about it, he just liked being with her. Her presence made him feel calm and safe; as if he could focus on something other than all of the trauma, he had just experienced.

He knew it wouldn't last long. They would need to have a conversation about it eventually, especially since he had come to the realization that returning to Hogwarts wasn't an option for him. He had no plans to return next term. He had to locate and destroy the Horcruxes. Whether it took ten days or ten years, he had to make sure that he continued Dumbledore's plan.

He just didn't know where Elara fit in with that. But he wanted her to fit in.

Harry's attention was pulled from his thoughts when Elara leaned into him. "The Minister of Magic keeps staring at us." She whispered.

"He wants me to work with the ministry." He explained. "I've refused more than once. I think it bothers him."

"I get the feeling he dislikes you, quite a lot actually."

"That's not surprising." Harry said. "He's only here to save face. He didn't give a shit about Dumbledore."

"I assume that's why Rita Skeeter and the rest of the Prophet crones are here." She said, nodding to the corner of the hall.

Harry grimaced. The Prophet always had a bad habit of printing ridiculous articles about him and everything else to do with the rise of Voldemort. It had refused to acknowledge the truth for so long. Harry wondered what kind of ridiculous bullshit story Skeeter was cooking up now.

"We will begin shortly." Professor McGonagall called out over the sea of students, parents, and ministry figureheads. "You may make your way to the grounds."

Harry took a deep breath and grasped Elara's hand, lacing his fingers with hers.

Elara had been to one funeral in her life.

When her Grandfather passed away when she was nine, he was laid to rest in the mausoleum on the property at Malfoy Manor. He had gotten gravely ill, a bad case of dragon pox, and passed away after spending an extended amount of time in St. Mungo's being treated.

She had never been particularly close with the man. He always favored Draco and seemed to find any reason to avoid Elara. Now that she thought about it, knowing what she knew of his late wife, maybe the reason for that was justified.

His funeral had been short, ending almost as soon as it started. Aside from Draco, their parents, and herself; one healer from St. Mungo's who had taken a liking to the man, and the Wizengamot member who came to officiate the documents noting his death, were the only others present for the ceremony.

She remembered her father had said a few words, her mother had sat in a chair before the altar, dabbing a handkerchief to her eyes. Draco had been a blubbering mess, crying into their Mother's robes. She sat on the chair on the end and stared at the face of the old man, who looked so much like her father, even as old as he was. At the end of her father's short eulogy, she had stared at him and he had offered a kind, comforting smile. She remembered the black marble tomb opening and the table upon which her Grandfather laid, disappearing within its walls, to be sealed away and forgotten.

The immense amount of people surrounding the white marble table sat before the lake made her think about her Grandfather and she realized this was the first time in seven years, she had thought about the man.

Dumbledore would surely be remembered more often than once every seven years.

She jumped slightly when she heard the music, consuming the crowd with its grief. She realized the mermaids in the lake were swirling just below the surface, singing their song of mourning to pay respect to him. She watched as every seat was filled, every witch and wizard dressed in their Sunday's best, here to pay respect to the man.

She thought of Draco.

She thought of that night, that had only just happened but felt so far away. The determination in Dumbledore's tired voice as he tried to convince her brother to come to him, to make the right decision. She wondered what Draco was doing now. If he would be mourning the loss of the Headmaster, the death he had witnessed.

The death he had caused.

She felt her breath hitch in her throat as Hagrid placed Dumbledore's body upon the marble. She heard Hermione sniffle on the left side of her. She heard the Wizengamot Official droning on, talking about Dumbledore's achievements and what that meant to the school, to the wizarding community.

"Hogwarts is in danger of many things, Ms. Malfoy. You are not one of them."

She could hear his words ringing loudly through her ears. He had truly believed that she was not a danger, that Draco was not capable of doing exactly what he had done.

She felt Harry's grip tighten on her hand, pulling it into his lap. From the corner of her eyes, she could see the large tears spilling from his emerald eyes, slipping through his black lashes and rolling down his cheeks from under his round frames. The tears splashed against the back of her hand and she swallowed the lump in her throat.

She had cried so often with Harry, had sobbed into his chest more times than she could count. He had scooped her up and fixed her heartache for things he fundamentally rejected. He never questioned her for being upset, never expected her not to cry… She squeezed his hand back, shifting so their shoulders touched. He needed to cry. He needed to flood his emotions from his body, to wash away the burning of his mind, if only for a few moments. She could feel the tightness in his chest break, sending a wave of anguish twisting through her gut.

As the bright white flames engulfed Dumbledore's body, creating a beautiful marble tomb around it, she felt the pieces within Harry click together and adjust themselves. From agonized grief to focused determination. She could feel the fight rebirthing inside of him, lit into flames and rising from the ashes like a phoenix.

As the ceremony ended and the crowd began to thin, they remained seated. Harry collected himself and stared out, over the lake.

"I'm not coming back next year." He said.

Ron and Hermione both leaned forward in their seats, looking over at him. "What?" Hermione said.

"I said I'm not coming back next year." Harry said, speaking with more conviction. "I've got a job to do. Dumbledore trusted me to finish it, and I have to."

"Well, we knew that." Ron said. "Just kind of been waiting on you to say it, mate."

"I'll write. As often as I can."

"You'll write?" Hermione chuckled. "To who?"

"You, of course." Harry said, pulling his eyebrows together and looking over.

"First of all… Harry, love, you aren't going to write." Elara said. "Given what Hermione has told me, you're rubbish at keeping up on letters. Secondly, we'll be with you. So, you won't very well need to write anyone."

"No." Harry said, shaking his head. "Absolutely not. It's too dangerous."

"Yeah, imagine that." Ron laughed. "Putting ourselves in danger."

"This is different." Harry said. "I don't know what to expect!"

"Then you'll need me and Ellie there more than ever." Hermione reasoned. "Or do you plan on doing all of the research and reading on your own?"

He stared at Hermione in disbelief and Hermione chuckled. "Yeah," She said. "I didn't think so."

"Face it, Potter." Elara said, biting back a smirk. "You need us."

She knew it would take some convincing. Harry wasn't likely to agree to putting them all in harm's way again, easily. But she hoped that he knew that she needed him, too.



a/n: And at last, we are finished.

*****Songs to listen to: The Funeral by Band of Horses and Goodbye, Dear Friend by Deer Tick Both are super sad and super beautiful and have helped me personally through bury friends. I hope you find them as beautiful as I do *******

SEQUEL FIRST CHAPTER WILL BE POSTED TOMORROW. This story will be marked complete tonight, and I will be posting the first chapter of the sequel under the title, Enemies of the Heir, Beware. Please keep an eye out for that! I will try to have it up by 2pm EST.

I really just want to say thank you so much to everyone who has read and reviewed. You've all been so lovely and with this being my FIRST fanfic, I honestly can't thank you enough. I was so nervous to start publishing chapters, but I'm so glad I did now! And I honestly CAN NOT WAIT for you all to see what I have in store for Elara as the story continues into Deathly Hallows era.

With so, so much love