Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

"To Stand Together"

by Christine Anderson

aka Lilly Malfoy

"I hate you," you whisper, not meaning it.

But you will. You will.

If you can't do it on your own, I will make you believe it.

"Get out."

You cross your arms, glare at me. Do not move an inch.

"I said get out!"

"Severus-"

Your hand on my arm, warm. I am so cold. I would not have thought I could be this cold and still live.

"*Get out*!"

"I haven't got anywhere else to go," you snarl at me. "And you know it."

But I hadn't. I hadn't known anything at all.

"What do you mean?"

"It's over, Severus. You've won."

You hurl something, cloth, at my feet. I look down at it, make no move to touch it.

Moments pass before I can identify the Slytherin serpent on the charred old banner that used to hang in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Most of the school coat of arms is burned beyond recognition, but that is visible, barely.

"No," I whisper. "No..."

"Yes!" you scream. "Yes, God damn you!"

Your shoulders begin to shake with the force of sobs you are holding back. "Traitor," you hiss. "Murderer..."

"Traitor, yes. I am that," I say. "I was not there."

"Damn right you weren't. Don't you understand yet, Severus? Hogwarts is *gone*. Destroyed. And Dumbledore- Dumbledore is *dead*."

"Merlin, no..."

"How could you, Severus? We needed you. One more might have made the difference... *Where were you?*"

"I was trying to find them," I whisper. "Trying to stop them..."

"*Well done,*" you say, your voice as acidic as I have ever heard it. "Well done."

"I am sorry," I whisper. "I'm sorry, alright? I'm sorry I am only human, sorry I couldn't single-handedly save the whole bloody world! I tried! I *tried*!"

"Bastard, bloody *bastard*," you mutter, over and over, even as your arms go around me.

"Don't touch me," I whisper, coldly. "If you've come to kill me, get it over with."

You laugh. Laugh! "Oh, Severus, no. Why would I kill you?" You shake your head, grow sober again. "My, my. You still don't understand at all, do you? We are the *last*, Severus, the very bloody last. Dumbledore, Lupin, Black...even Potter. They're all gone. Dead. Or worse. The Dementors finally caught Black."

"Minerva, I-"

"What?" you snap.

"Get out," I whisper. "Go, while you can."

Stubborn, you shake your head. "No."

"Now it's *you* who doesn't understand. They are coming for me."

"I know." You kiss me, hard. "To stand together, always, no matter how few of us remained, that was what we swore. Do you remember, Severus?"

I remember. "Are you here, then, for an oath?"

You shake your head. "The Order fell with Dumbledore. I'm here for you, and a chance to strike back at them before I die."

I shake my head. "Am I forgiven, then?"

"I can't forgive you, Severus. Only you can do that, and I don't think we have that kind of time."

I understand it then, and wish to Merlin I didn't. "You are a fool," I whisper.

"Maybe."

"You are." I can't bear to say it, but I do. "You still love me. Though I betrayed you, though I was not there when you needed me-"

"Do you know what the last thing Dumbledore said to me was? 'Forgive him, Minerva... he has kept faith as best he can.' Damn you both..."

"Still meddling, even to the last..." I sigh.

"Did you expect anything less?"

"And what did you tell him?"

"I said..." You shake your head. "It doesn't matter."

"It does."

"Yes, alright?" Another kiss, bruising, furious. "I said that I forgave you. And I have always loved you. Gods know why."

I always knew it, of course. How could I not? And now you are here, at the last, to die with me. How romantic.

Lovers for so long...but everything we loved is gone.

We are standing very close together, my lips against yours, sex and death on our minds in equal measure, when the door crashes inward.