A/N: Thanks to those who have reviewed – I SO enjoy reading how you feel about the chapter and the characters. I am SO VERY SORRY this chapter is much later than I ever intended. I was actually planning on updating within a week after the last one but then things got in the way. My PC is still having problems and freezes rather frequently. I injured my arm. I've been overworked on the job and then have so much to do at home. Feels like life is running away at the moment…but things are slowing down and although my arm hurts like &( I was determined to finish this last chapter in Solstice II. Be sure to read sneak peek into Solstice III at the end of this chapter and let me know what you think. HAVE A GREAT SUMMER ALL!
Thanks all… Melindaleo, Dracomalfoylover113, samie-j0, NalaSnape, okicantthinkofastupidpenname, Rosaleen, Cartergal131, lauren, Catmint, excessively perky, Lyss33, Baby Sweet, supernova8610, Lady Brigitte, Ravenclaw-heir, Sari5156, notaword, Droxy, perfectpureblood (don't worry –in case you can't tell by how much I torture him-I adore Draco), lysjknopp(thanks so much-I'm still in denial about the ending of book 6, the one shining light for me was that Draco-turned ever so slightly), DebsTheSnapeFan The song of the black swan, waljhfwaehful
This chapter is named after a lyric from Evanescence's song "Bring Me to Life"
Thank you to my beta Catmint. She does a remarkable job and I'm sure rolls her eyes every so often at my repeated errors. Sigh…grammar has never been my strong point and rarely sticks in my brain. Big thanks also to her many amusing comments. Without Catmint - Circe would be mowing the lawn and Draco would be rusting LOL!
Disclaimer: None of it is mine; it all belongs to the extremely talented JKR
Chapter 48: Without a Soul
After his encounter with Snape, Draco sat for a long time in the headmaster's office staring at Dumbledore's portrait. He felt choked, tears welling up in his eyes. He dropped his head into his hands and drew his knees to his chest. He didn't know what he was doing anymore. He loved Severus Snape; he was his family. He remembered how Severus had held him after he had told him what the Dark Lord had done. He was always there for him. Others may see the stern Potions Master as someone cruel and to be feared but Draco knew how kind and gentle he could be. He knew that Severus loved him, thought of him as a son. Would always be there to support and help him. But with everything that had happened, he felt so horribly detached and alienated from everyone and everything. Severus would do what he thought was best for Draco but not what necessarily was.
He wished he could leave everyone at Hogwarts behind for a while. Maybe McGonagall was right – he needed to do some soul-searching and get his life on track again. He hadn't meant to hurt Severus, he didn't want to be alienated from him, but he didn't know how to fix it. He couldn't help the way he had been acting. His nights were haunted by nightmares; his days were full of confusion, anger and self-doubt. He glanced up at the portrait again and whispered, "What should I do?" But the portrait slumbered on. Dejected and heartsick, Draco went back to Lupin's rooms to spend the night. He couldn't look Snape in the eye if he went back to his old room.
Harry trudged along silently beside Ron. Dumbledore's funeral was tomorrow and then until his 17th birthday he would have to stay with the Dursleys – not much to look forward to.
Ron kept glancing at him with a worried look.
"I'm all right, Ron," he assured him quietly. He knew he must look like hell after having broken down like he had in front of the portrait.
"What did Dumbledore say?" Ron asked hesitantly.
There was silence for moment as Harry's heart clenched. "Nothing. He slept and never woke up."
"I'm sorry, Harry. Maybe another time," the redhead tried to reassure him.
Harry nodded and no more words were spoken as they made their way to the hospital wing.
MadamPomfrey immediately ushered him on the bed and applied another dose of healing potions to his side as she chastised him for leaving. Harry had expected to be only be there for another hour but he was so tired from the day's events he fell asleep and stayed overnight.
The following morning proved to be a beautiful, sunshine-filled day. It was heartbreaking knowing that Dumbledore wasn't alive to enjoy it. Not that many at Hogwarts would. All from the Ministry of Magic were there, as were the centaurs, goblins and various magical folk. Hagrid continually had his face buried in a large, bright orange handkerchief. Professor McGonagall looked aged and drawn while Lupin gaunt and stark.
Harry felt rather ill, his feeling of guilt still strong weighing down his already heavy heart. He glanced up to see Snape by himself – tall, slender, his frame stiff. The expression on his face was tight, his eyes expressionless. He looked at no-one but silently went and sat down beside Filtwick and Trelawney. As McGonagall started speaking, Harry found himself blocking her out. His mind instead wandered to all the talks that he and headmaster had had. He looked at the heavens sending out a silent message of how much he would be missed and how grateful he was to have known him.
Ginny's hand closed over his. He glanced over at her and she gave it a reassuring squeeze. He sighed softly; somehow the warmth of her hand kept him from wanting to scream at the craziness of his world. Hermione sat on the other side of him. She kept anxiously glancing around and Harry realized thatshe was looking for Draco. He glanced over to the Slytherins but the light blond head was missing.
Draco stood back amongst the trees that sheltered the old graveyard. He didn't want to be with the rest of the student population. His pale eyes lit upon Snape; he sat frozen, not moving a muscle. He wondered why Tonks wasn't sitting with him but then he realized that she was sitting with the rest of the Aurors in a show of grief and respect. He glanced at Hermione, who at that exact moment looked over at him. She waved discreetly for him to come down but he shook his head. She turned reluctantly back to the service.
Draco stood and listened but felt nothing but numbness. The man who had protected him and had helped him on a number of occasions was gone. There was nothing he could do to turn back the clock…to prevent Harry from going outside to prevent accidentally Summoning the headmaster's wand. It was all too late. When the service end he turned back towards the castle.
He paused amongst the trees. Turning back, he saw a girl with bushy brown hair heading his way.
"Why didn't you come down?" Hermione asked, sounding worried.
He shrugged. "Perhaps because I didn't want to."
"Are you feeling all right?"
"Yes," he answered curtly.
She sighed and just stared at him with an annoyed look.
He broke eye contact, feeling guilty for being so short. "Really, I'm fine," he assured her softly. "I just didn't feel like being amongst all my classmates knowing that one of themwanted to kill me."
"Well, at least you'll be safe with Professor Snape during the summer."
"I'm not spending the summer with Snape."
"What?! Of course you are!" she responded. clearly horrified.
"I'm going to be seventeen tomorrow. I don't need a guardian."
Hermione looked highly agitated. "Where are you going to stay? Please tell me you aren't planning on staying at Malfoy Manor? You wouldn't be safe. Your father would find out andso would Voldemort. Draco, please stay with Professor Snape or one of the others."
"Calm down. I have no intention whatsoever on staying at the manor."
He didn't want to admit that at this point he had no idea where he was going. He opened his mouth and blurted out, "London."
"London – Muggle London?" she shrieked in disbelief.
"Yeah; Muggle London," he confirmed, suddenly feeling quite nauseous at the prospect.
"You don't know how to live like a Muggle – you of all people abhor Muggles!"
"Just because I don't like them doesn't mean I can't live amongst them. Don't worry, I won't hurt them."
"They might hurt you! You don't understand; you could get mugged…"
Draco snorted gleefully. "Mugged by a Muggle. How quaint."
"Be serious. You'd stick out like a sore thumb."
He sneered. "I'm quite capable of taking care of myself."
"Did you ever take a single class of Muggle Studies?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Doesn't matter; I am a wizard, after all, and I'll be able to use my wand."
"You don't know how to use a phone, a stove, a fridge, take the Tube, bus – you'd be like a newborn. How will you live? You don't have Muggle money. Are you going to get a job? Rent a flat?"
"I'll have access to my money in two days. I can convert it at Gringotts. I am a Slytherin, remember – I'm quite resourceful."
"At least let me help you set up, then. I can come into London once a week to help you. You'll have to get a phone so we can talk and you can call me if you need me. You can't do any magic in front of Muggles, you'd be in terrible trouble – especially with the Ministry of Magic."
"I don't need help; apparently you seem to think that I'm some helpless idiot!" he snarled, feeling very affronted.
She wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it to him. "Take it. It's my phone number. I care about you – you should know that by now." She turned and walked away.
He looked down at the paper in his hand. Her name was on it and a bunch of numbers. Suddenly he realized how stupid he had been. He could have had Hermione with him for part of the summer – after he figured everything out. His heart lightened again when he looked at the paper in his hand. As soon as he figured out how to use one of those Muggle contraptions he would contact her. Maybe this summer wouldn't be so bad after all.
Harry had gone off by himself for while. Ginny understood his need to be alone. She walked back slowly to the common room, thinking of the headmaster. When she had been possessed by Voldemort in her first year and had done those awful things she had been absolutely terrified, thinking that she would be expelled, but the headmaster had been kind and reassuring. She felt sick knowing that he was dead at the hands of Voldemort and that Harry felt responsible. Things weren't supposed to go that way. She was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she ran full tilt into Filch. He looked at her, shocked.
In his arms he had a basket. Ginny gasped as she looked inside. Mrs. Norris lay there comma surrounded by four fluffy kittens. One golden tabby like herself, one ginger one that looked remarkably like a small version of Crookshanks, one coal-black one and one that took Ginny's breath away – a tiny silvery-white kitten that reminded her of Hedwig.
"That blasted cat of Snape's and that ginger one belonging to one of the students seduced my poor Mrs. Norris. Now she's got all these kittens I have find homes for." Filch complained.
"I'll take the silver and giner," she immediately offered.
He looked at her suspiciously. "What are you going to do with them?"
"Give them a good home," she answered sincerely.
"Can I visit them?" he asked almost pleadingly.
She nodded. As miserable as Filch was, his one redeeming feature as far as she could tell was his love for Mrs. Norris and his obvious concern for her offspring.
"They're both girls. The silver one's the runt," Filch said as he carefullyhanded the small fluffy bundles to her.
Ginny walked back to the tower with the two little purring kittens. The minute she walked in, she was swarmed by cat-loving schoolmates. Hermione and Ron's eyes widened especially upon seeing the small silvery-white one.
"When did you get them?" Ron asked incredulously.
Ginny grinned. "Mrs. Norris had kittens."
"What?" Hermione asked in disbelief.
"Bloody hell, she's ancient!" was Ron's comment.
"Apparently not that ancient."
"The little ginger one looks like Crookshanks." Hermione smiled as she cuddled his purring daughter.
"She'shis daughter. Filch was cursing Crookshanks and Snape's cat.There are two more kittens: a golden tabby and a black one."
"The ginger, the black and the tabby make sense but this silver one…" Hermione pondered.
"I know; it is rather bizarre. She looks like a feline version of Hedwig, don't you think?"
"Yeah," Ron agreed as he very gently petted the little fluffy head.
"She's a miracle. I'm going to give her to Harry," Ginny stated.
Hermione smiled warmly at her. "That's a wonderful idea. I think he'll really love her."
"I'm keeping the ginger one to take home to the Burrow. I've always liked Crookshanks and it's time I had my own pet."
"What are you going to name her?"
"I don't know yet; if anyone has any ideas, let me know."
"What's Filch going to do with the other two?" Hermione wondered out loud.
"I don't know – I think he's looking for homes."
Hermione jumped up and ran out of the tower.
"Do you think she wants another cat?" asked Ron.
Ginny shook her head. "I think she's getting one for the ferret."
"The ferret? Oh, Malfoy," Ron realized.
"Poor kitty," Ginny mused.
"Maybe not," Ron said hopefully.
When Hermione got to Filch's room, she ran into Tonks, who was cradling the little black boy. "Merlin," the Auror blurted out.
"Pardon?" Hermione blinked, not quite sure what to make of this outburst.
"I'm going to name him Merlin."
Hermione grinned. "You and Snape will both have black cats."
"I couldn't resist a son of Loki's."
Hermione reached down and picked up the little golden striped girl. The kitten meowed and climbed up on her shoulder and nipped her ear.
"Feisty little thing, aren't you? You'll need to be, with Draco as your friend."
"You're giving her to Draco?"
"If he wants her. If not, I'll keep her. Did you know Draco's going away for the summer? He's determined to live in Muggle London by himself."
Tonks paled. "Draco? Living amongst Muggles?"
"I couldn't stop him. He's angry and confused."
"Do you know where he went? I'd like to go talk to him."
Hermione shook her head. "I can only assume that he went to pack. Good luck; I hope you can talk some sense into him. He really should stay with Professor Snape.'
Tonks didn't comment. She knew how hurt Severus was by Draco's lack of trust. However, she also understood how damaged Draco had been by all that had happened to him this year. Hermione was absolutely correct; he was very confused. He needed a summer in which he could heal.
She realized as soon as she knocked on Severus' door that she wastoo late.
"Draco has gone. He apparently rushed in here right after the funeral, packed up his bags and left. Neither Remus and Minerva have any idea where he went."
She took a deep breath. She knew he wouldn't take this well.
"He told Hermione he would be living in London for the summer."
Snape's heart jerked. "By himself?'
She nodded. "He'll be all right. I think he just wants some time to himself. A lot has happened."
"Draco living amongst Muggles," Severus whispered in disbelief.
Harry had gone down to the lake. He knew the rest of his classmates were packing, getting ready to return to their homes. How many of them would come back in September, would Hogwarts even be open, how many of them would even still be alive?" Voldemort was growing stronger. His supporters would see the death of Dumbledore as a huge victory. The only thing standing between them and victory was himself. A soon-to-be seventeen-year old wizard with adequate skills and a lot of luck. He felt alienated from everyone around him – he knew thatultimately he would need to do this alone. His friends would be there up to that final moment. He paused – he hoped that they would be there. He didn't know if he could go on if those closest to him perished. He had already lost too many.
He looked up to see Snape standing beside him. He hadn't even heard him approach.
"I need to talk to you," the head of Slytherin said, his voice serious. He sat down beside Harry and stared out at the lake. He remained silent for so long that Harry began to wonder if he would ever say anything.
"You will need to go to the Dursleys until your birthday. After that, you will go to Grimmauld Place," he stated firmly.
"No way. I don't want to set foot in that place again. I want to go to The Burrow. It's the only time I feel at home," Harry protested.
Snape gave a short snort. "Very well. Spend some time with the Weasleys but afterwards you need to go to Grimmauld Place. We…" He hesitated, staring at the lake again. "We have work to do."
Harry realized that the whole time Snape had sat beside him, he hadn't once looked at him.
"What kind of work?" he asked suspiciously.
Snape swallowed heavily. Anxiety rose and he felt himself getting short of breath. How could he tell Harry what the headmaster had told him just before he died? He took a deep, shaky breath and for the first time looked at the young wizard beside him. Lily's son regarded him apprehensively, his green eyes wide, that impossible black hair mussed even more than usual.
"Harry, there is something I haven't told you. Something you need to know. Something that Professor Dumbledore told me just before…" he swallowed heavily again. "He suspected something, and what happened at the chalet I think confirms it."
Harry looked away nervously. As if by breaking eye contact with him, he wouldn't have to hear what he was about to say.
"The suspicion, I suppose, has been there right from the start. The fact thatyou were able to defeat the Dark Lord when you were just a baby. The fact The Sorting Hat would have put you into Slytherin was another clue."
"You know about that?" Harry interjected in amazement.
Snape nodded. "The headmaster told me and then later I saw it during your Occlumency lessons.. When you revealed that you were able to speak Parseltongue we became more concerned. When you started being able to perform the Cruciatus whenever angered , the headmaster started to put the pieces together. When you managed to kill Lestrange with a white light from your eyes the suspicions were confirmed."
"W-what?" Harry stuttered. His heart was beating so rapidly that it felt like it would jump out of his chest.
"We believe that a piece of the Dark Lord entered you when the Killing Curse failed. Your scar is the portal through which it entered. The violence of the curse, combined with the power of your mother's love, caused the Dark Lord's soul to split. He cannot kill you without killing a piece of himself. You cannot kill him because you have half of his soul."
Harry felt ill. He shivered even though the air was warm. "Does he know?" he asked quietly.
"Was it with the piece of Voldemort's soul that I was able to kill Bellatrix?"
"No; I believe it was because you conquered your anger. If you had succumbed to the darkness in you, you would have cast the Killing Curse. Instead you relied on the love in you. The headmaster always said it was your greatest strength. You desired to protect Draco and the light within you shot out towards Lestrange. Everyone has some good and evil inside of them. Some choose the light, some choose the dark, and others remain grey. You have chosen the light. Someone like Lestrange has chosen the dark; her soul could not withstand the light you directed at her. When there is so much evil it cannot tolerate good and therefore she perished."
Anger rose, along with the shock. "How can I get Voldemort's soul out of my body?" Harry asked.
"There is only one way that I know of." Snape looked at him intently; the black eyes showed sympathy.
"How?" Harry asked impatiently.
"You have to die," Snape said softly. "That's why you have to come to Grimmauld Place, so we can find a solution other than death." His hand reached out and fell onto Harry's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Potter. I would rather not have told you but … enough has been kept from you in the past. You needed to know so we can work on this together."
Harry nodded numbly.
"Come inside now; it's almost time to go," Snape ordered.
He shook his head. "I need a few more minutes."
Snape got up awkwardly, regarding Lily's son with sympathy. He walked back to the castle, his heart heavy. He silently vowed to find a way to help Potter.
Harry sat by the lake in a state of shock. That was what the headmaster had suspected. That was what he hadn't revealed because he wasn't sure yet. He had to die in order for Voldemort to die. Why did he have to be the chosen one?
He looked up to see Ginny standing there looking concerned. "Are you all right?"
He couldn't tell her; he couldn't tell any of them yet. He had to get used to this first. "I'm fine."
She sat down beside him and took his hand. "It will all be all right."
He sighed. He loved her optimism.
"I have something for you. Something that I hope will make you feel a little better."
She put a small pet carrier on his lap. He looked at her questioningly. Then he looked inside the cage. His breath caught in his throat. There sat a tiny little silvery-white kitten.
"I know she's not Hedwig but she's a little miracle considering her colour. I thought she could keep you company at the Dursleys and then later when you come to The Burrow you could bring her and she could play with her sister, whom I kept."
"Thank you," he murmured hoarsely. "Where did she come from?"
Ginny explained as Harry took the kitten out and played with her. She gently nipped his finger. He laughed, remembering fondly how Hedwig had always done that.
"What are you going to name her?"
"Circe. She was a witch in Greek times, the mistress of potions. Since Snape has been so good to me I think I want to call her that."
He looked into Ginny's brown eyes. What was just a few moments ago one of the lowest points in his life had magically transformed into a moment of hope and happiness. He softly kissed her as she hugged him.
Later, as the train pulled into King's Cross, he said his goodbyes to them all, fervently hoping thatnothing would happen to them. He was already looking forward to the time he was going to haveat The Burrow.
Ron slapped him on the back, looking more worried than he had ever seen him. Hermione hugged him tightly. He knew she was worried about him as well as Draco, who he had learned had run off to London. Luna calmly looked at him and assured him thathe had help from sources he didn't believe existed. Neville shook his hand anxiously. Ginny firmly clasped his hand and looked at him fiercely. "Everything will work out," she stated without a doubt.
He smiled at his friends, feeling fortunate to have them all in his life. He thought back to the last time he had seen Snape. The potions master hadlooked haunted as he watched Harry leave Hogwarts. The idea that a piece of Voldemort was inside him made him feel nauseous. He shook his head and concentrated instead on the kitten in the carrier as he got on the first bus of many that would take him to the Dursleys. They as usual hadn't bothered to come to pick him up. He wasn't surprised.
Much later, as Harry reluctantly walked from the bus stop towards Privet Drive, a red feather slowly floated in front of his face and landed by his feet. He looked up into the sky but saw nothing. He reached down and picked up the long, soft feather. Circe meowed in her carrier as he stared in wonder at the sky. Was Fawkes nearby? For some odd reason Luna's words directly after the headmaster's death hazily drifted to the front of his mind. "He vanished in a flash of red."
Red like a phoenix. He put the feather in his pocket and continued towards Privet Drive. This time his step was just a little lighter and warmth spread through his heart. He would win this battle…somehow.
It's over…it's done! If you decide to review let me know what Ginny and Draco should name their new kitties.
Sequel: "Solstice III" Likely coming sometime late summer. Sectumsempra is used & Snape is horrified, Harry has to kill a friend to save another, Hermione Apparates Draco out of a Muggle hospital to Grimmauld Place, Harry goes beyond the veil, Draco kills his attacker, Draco takes the Dark Mark, Snape washes his hair.