She said, "Thanks but I'm broken
I guess you must have misspoken.
What a laugh, I've never been chosen by anyone."

She was barely a teen
Hanging out in between
Just a part of the scene
With mercurial smile
And incurable style
She was only a dream
How's that
He didn't know a thing about
Making love to the kind of girl you read about

He said, "I'm bound to be broken
My daddy bet that I'd amount to nothing."
He won't let anybody show him anything

He was a troubled child
Had been down for a while
Always kept to himself
No she couldn't defend
He only wanted a friend
Now he's made something else
It's so sad, no one saw it coming
The paper said that he hit the ground running

Oh yeah
I know I'm not broken
A little cracked
But still I'm not broken
I wanna laugh but I think that I'm choking on reality

When the
World is turning for you
Don't turn on me
Who are you here to repair
Well, I don't know what you mean
You could never resist
Glorifying despair
Well now it's coming to you and I don't really care

Well I'm not
The kind to insist
You couldn't have missed
We must co-exist
So please listen to me
There is no such thing as human debris

Oh yeah
I know I'm not broken
A little cracked
But Dad, I'm not so nothing
I wanna laugh
I'm not joking

I'm unbroken
Oh yeah, I said I'm unbroken
I said I'm unbroken
A little cracked, it's just a token
I'm really not broken
What a guess- I'm unbroken
((Broken-Bad Religion))
---

Harry sat back in his chair, placing his feet on his desk and staring up. Two minutes before class, first day back at Hogwarts, very first class of the day. Under normal circumstances, Harry would have been excited, anxious maybe, but now he was dreading the tick of the clock. Not only because it was a Slytherin/Ravenclaw seventh year class, but also because the Ravenclaw half of the class had Cosette Lestrange sitting in the front row.

Tick.

'One minute left,' Harry thought begrudgingly. 'Maybe if I feign insanity, they'll leave me alone. Or fire me. After this summer, seeing Cosette everyday will be torture.'

Tick.

The doors stayed silent for a moment. 'Gods, I won't have to feign insanity. I will be by the time class is over,' Harry thought, sighing and standing up. He stood facing the window, his back to the door, desperately trying to regain composure before turning around. For a good ten minutes, he was silent, the class eventually quieting to an occasional whisper. When Harry finally did turn around, a pair of interrogating green eyes faced him.

"Er…yes, Miss Wooller?" Harry asked hesitantly. The Slytherin stood up, her dark blonde hair falling in neat curls almost to her waist.

"Shouldn't you be uh…" She paused, her voice like poisoned silk, "teaching us something, Professor?" She sat down, the boy on her left giving a satisfied smile. Harry nodded slowly.

"I thought I would keep the first day light," Harry said, his words coming easily despite his earlier nervous fit. "But since you insist, Regina, I suppose a nine hundred word essay on vampires due tomorrow would satisfy that need to learn." The class groaned, many giving dirty glares to Regina Wooller, who promptly shrunk into her seat. Harry stifled a grin and turned towards the blackboard, scrawling out the word RULES in white chalk. A few Slytherins complained loudly. Harry shot them a hard stare, and continued. "Right, so rule one: You in any way irk me, I take house points away and assign homework. If you don't, you keep on my good side and you step out of class without any assignments. Rule two," Pausing, Harry finished writing on the blackboard and turned around. "Just do what I say, and things will go well. Got it?" Most of the class nodded. "Great. Moving on…" And the lesson progressed, with only a few mishaps. At one point, a Slytherin mispronounced a spell and set a book on fire across the room, causing much excitement. Harry finished on time, with, "Forget the essay. Needless to say Miss Wooller learned something?" She nodded reluctantly. Just as the last few students were leaving, someone spoke up. A cool, feminine voice from the doorway, sending chills through Harry's veins.

"Professor? Can I talk to you a moment?" Harry looked up, meeting the icy cobalt of Cosette's eyes.

"Sure," Harry said, surprised at how nonchalant he sounded. "What did you need?" He heard the distant click of the door closing and turned, facing his student. She took a deep breath and looked behind her.

"I'm sorry."

"I know." Harry said softly. He turned away, clearing up a pile of papers on his desk. A burning started behind his eyes, threatening to spill tears, but never quite getting there. Cosette looked around, checking that the room was empty, and continued. "Harry, I just…"

"Professor. I'm your teacher, Miss Lestrange."

"Harry, don't do this…"

"Miss Lestrange," Harry started, turning around and looking down at her, his eyes impassively blank. "I am your teacher. Please respect my position as your instructor as I respect yours as my student. If this is not related to today's class, please leave." He turned around, pulling back a curtain and staring at the windswept landscape.

"Harry," started Cosette, "I…I…" He turned toward her, regarding her with indifference. She wiped furiously at her eyes, like one who cannot bear to cry might do. Harry turned away, and only when her footsteps started and the door slammed close, did he do anything. He sank to the floor, pressing his palms into his eyes. 'What have I done?' He asked himself, his own tears catching at the corners and leaking past his hands.

---

Cosette ran through the halls, not bothering to notice the worried glances her classmates were giving her. No one bothered to come close enough to comfort her- no one cared that much. Even in a castle full of people, she was still utterly alone. Tears blurred her vision, but only when she felt like she couldn't breathe did she turn a corner and stop. Leaning against a wall, Cosette wiped her eyes and slid to the floor. Her breathing evened and she looked at her hands. They were shaking and white. Disgusted at herself, she pressed them into the floor so hard the stone cut into her palms, little pools of blood collecting in the cracks. She closed her eyes again, willing her mind to stop spinning. Any minute now, she'd have to stand up and go to class. She had forgotten which class she was going to next, but at that point, it didn't matter. She might be able to get a pass from Madam Pomfrey, considering her hands needed healing. Cosette stood up slowly, the blood pounding in her head, causing her vision to blacken. Catching herself against the wall, she steadied and walked slowly toward the infirmary. The door was open, and no one, it seemed, had been there yet. Madam Pomfrey came over soon after Cosette stepped in.

"It's only the first day back. What could you possibly have done so soon?" The nurse asked, leading Cosette to a chair in the middle of the room.

"I fell," She lied quietly. "I need a pass to my next class."

Madam Pomfrey nodded. "Of course, dear. Now, sit still. This might sting a bit," She ran a swab of cotton soaked in a curious purple potion over the cuts. Cosette barely noticed the searing pain as her wounds closed themselves, nor did she really notice when the nurse gave her a slip of parchment and sent her to Herbology. The crisp September air whipped about the ground, tossing her black-blue hair around her face. Walking across the lawns made Cosette feel as if she were waking up from a deep sleep; she hadn't responded to anything, it seemed, until now. Pushing open the doors to the Greenhouse, she stepped inside and handed Professor Sprout the parchment. After signaling for Cosette to sit down, Sprout continued; however, Cosette paid no attention. Her thoughts drifted out of her head and floated on a breeze over the grounds.

---

Harry continued to sit dejectedly on the floor for quite some time. He only had one other class that day, third year Gryffindors, which wasn't until after lunch. He could afford some time alone. Wrapping his gray wool cloak around his shoulders, Harry walked outside. The warm September sunshine warmed the grounds, but Harry couldn't seem to shake the cold. Pulling the cloak tighter, he continued down to the Forbidden Forest. There was a small break in the trees; hardly noticeable if you didn't know it was there. Harry ducked under a low branch and followed the short dirt path to the cemetery. It hadn't changed much since Harry had last been there in August; the dirt over the graves was just starting to grow green with grass, the flowers that had been laid near the tombstones were wilted and dead. Harry's feet took him to an unusual grave: in the sea of the black and gray tombstones of Death Eaters, a polished white marble marker stood out. Kneeling by the pale green shoots, Harry ran his hands over the inscription. Sighing, he sat back on his heels, wiping a rogue tear from his cheek. 'Gods, I wish you were here, Sirius,' Harry thought sadly. 'I've made a real mess of things. You'd know what to do. You always did.' Shaking his head to clear his mind, Harry stood up and shoved his hands in his pockets. A faint sound from somewhere off to Harry's left called his attention. Turning, he saw a silhouetted figure, cloaked in black, kneeling by a gravestone. Harry walked over and stood behind her.

"Hey," He whispered, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. The woman instinctively tensed under his touch, but said nothing. Harry's eyes ran over the inscription on the marker.

Pierre de Montmorency

1951-1999

J'ai été pris à la vallée de mort

Mais je ne craindrai rien

Comme je celui suis avec les âmes noircies

Qui dort là-bas

"My father was killed in the battle." The woman spoke softly, sadly. Her voice held a faint French accent. Harry vaguely wondered if she knew Cosette. "I barely knew him."

"I'm so sorry." Harry sighed, removed his hand from her shoulder and ran it through his hair. "I lost someone close to me in battle, too. He might as well have been my father." The woman stood up, wiping at her eyes with a handkerchief she was holding.

"I'm sorry too." She turned around to face Harry. He meant to say something, anything, but his breath caught in his throat. She was about his height, maybe a little shorter, with cascades of wavy golden blonde hair to her waist. The sun had bronzed her skin, offsetting her brilliantly bright blue-green eyes and her dark scarlet lips. She smiled weakly. "Aren't you the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher?" Harry could only nod. "I'm Rhiannon de Montmorency, the new Potions teacher." Harry held out his hand and Rhiannon hesitated in giving up hers. Leaning down, but never breaking his gaze on Rhiannon's eyes, which were so like his own, he gently kissed her fingers.

"Harry Potter." He introduced himself quietly, with a sort of resigned shyness. Rhiannon smiled more boldly.

"Lunch is just about half over. Come with me?" Harry nodded. The two walked up to the castle in silence, not sure what to say to the other. Stealing glances at her every so often, Harry concluded that she was probably the most conventionally gorgeous woman he had ever met. Cosette's beauty was classic and romantic, but Rhiannon had the kind that could make you stop dead in your tracks. Sighing, Harry ran a hand through his hair. He was forever doomed to fall in love with the girls he couldn't have. First Cho, then Hannah, then all those other girls in between, then Cosette…with a start he realized Rhiannon and he had reached the doors. Quickly opening it for her, he slipped back into his reverie. Gods, did he ever miss Cosette. She seemed so eager to talk to him earlier, but he wouldn't. He couldn't. He promised himself he'd never let someone hurt him again.

"Harry?" Rhiannon said softly. He turned toward her, surprised that she had taken his arm and was leaning toward him. Their faces were inches apart, and to his amazement, Harry didn't mind at all. "We're here." Blinking and looking around, Harry realized they were, in fact, in the Great Hall. He nodded, took a deep breath and went to sit down. Rhiannon kept holding his arm and sat down next to him at the teacher's table.

"So," Harry said while pouring Rhiannon and himself some pumpkin juice, "Tell me about yourself." Rhiannon raised an inquiring eyebrow.

"What would you like to know?"

"Well," Harry raised a spoon of tomato soup to his lips and blew softly on it to cool it. "Where are you from?"

"Originally France. After my father became a Death Eater, we moved back to England, but I still attended Beauxbatons." Rhiannon smiled and took a bite of her salad. "I moved to London after I graduated four years ago. Professor Durmbleydont-"

"Dumbledore," Harry interrupted. When Rhiannon shot him a questioning look, he cleared his throat and said, "I think you mean Professor Dumbledore."

"Oh, yes. When Professor Dumbledore,"-she smiled- "Offered me this job, I simply couldn't refuse. I've always loved Potions."

"I can't stand it." Harry laughed.

"I would ask about you, but I'm afraid I already know." Rhiannon's lips curled into a playful smirk. Harry shrugged, a smile tugging at his mouth.

"I get that a lot." He turned to watch as the students filtered out of the Great Hall on the way to classes. "I better get going. I've got a class in ten minutes."

"Adieu!" Rhiannon leaned over and placed a featherweight kiss on each of Harry's cheeks. He blushed despite himself.

"See you," He called, waving and leaving the hall. On his way up the stairs, Harry smiled to himself. 'It seems as if I've had a change of fortune,' he thought. 'Maybe this relationship will turn out for the better.'

---

Cosette mounted the stairs to her dormitory slowly that night. She had spent the past four and a half hours sitting in the common room, watching the fire slowly cool to embers and finally to ash. She was so confused lately, with Harry and school starting and everyone knowing about her and her connection with the battle…nothing seemed to fit for her this year. She paused, her hand on the doorknob. More than anything she wanted to be able to run away, pack her trunks and get on a train. It didn't matter where the train ended up, just as long as she could be on one that was heading very far away from England and wasn't planning to stop until next year. Sighing in resignation, Cosette opened her door and lit a candle on her nightstand. She had learned long ago running from your problems didn't fix them. It usually made them worse. Cosette slipped out of her robes and into a white cotton nightgown. Sitting by her mirror, she combed and braided her hair. It was past her waist now, a shimmering blue-black cape. She sighed and stood to look at herself. She was 'petite,' as her mother used to say. Five feet two inches tall, just over one hundred pounds. On the skinny side of slender. Her eyes were dark cobalt blue, a color her brother used to say looked like the midnight sky. They used to be an intense violet, but they had changed when she became an animagus. All in all, she was a rather attractive girl. Cosette herself had never thought so, but no one had ever told her she was pretty, excepting her brother. At the thought of Edan, Cosette caught her bottom lip between her teeth in an effort to keep from crying. After almost five months, her brother's death still hurt. She had no one after that, until she met Harry. He reminded her so much of Edan, but he was so much his own person. So giving, so selfless. He was everything a girl could hope for, but she had to go and mess that all up. Silently cursing her own stupidity for the millionth time, Cosette blew out the candle and drifted into an uneasy sleep.

---

Harry sat at his desk the next morning, his feet on a pile of papers and a book open in his lap. Class would be starting in four minutes. Yawning, Harry snapped the book shut and tossed it into a drawer. He had no idea what his lesson would be about today, but he figured he could come up with something. Maybe he could teach them how to conjure Patronus'. He had learned in third year, but Remus Lupin had tutored him on the side. The doors opened and students filed in, taking their seats and quietly talking. When he heard the door click shut, Harry started.

"All right. How many of you know how to produce a Patronus?" At first, not a single hand was raised, but then very hesitantly, Cosette put her hand in the air. Breathing a very short lived sigh of relief, Harry nodded. "Miss Lestrange, would you like to demonstrate?" Cosette stood up, silently walked to the front of the room, and held her wand out. Briefly meeting Harry's eyes, she took a deep breath.

"Expecto Patronum," she whispered, and instantly a silvery eagle flew from the tip of her wand. It soared around the room before landing on the windowsill and evaporating. Scattered applause issued from the class.

"Excellent, Miss Lestrange. Ten points to Ravenclaw." Harry hoped to see Cosette smile at him as he handed her a piece of chocolate, but her gaze merely drifted over him unseeingly as she moved back to her seat, disregarding his offering. Harry put the chocolate back on the tray for the other students, briefly wondering if seeing the eagle had reminded Cosette of Edan, and consequently made her disconsolate. "All right class, lets try some of these. Hmm…Regina Wooller. Come up here." Regina looked startled, but quickly regained composure. "Now, I want you to think of the happiest moment in your life. Concentrate on that one moment really hard. Got it?" She nodded. Harry smiled faintly. "Now say the spell."

"Expecto Patronum!" Regina said quietly. A faint silver cloud emanated from her wand before disappearing. Harry sighed.

"You need to concentrate harder." Harry instructed. For the next forty minutes, Harry helped each student, excepting Cosette, work on conjuring a Patronus. When the clock finally ticked the last time, some students were hesitant to leave. "Miss Lestrange," Harry called over the clamor of students. "Can I speak with you a moment?" Cosette took a deep breath and walked to the front of the room.

"Yes, Professor?"

"I just wanted to make sure you were all right, after the Patronus." Harry ran a hand through his hair. He had no idea what compelled him to talk to Cosette, but he couldn't back out now.

"I'm fine, Professor." 'Oh, Gods,' Cosette thought. 'Why did he have to do this?'

"Oh," Harry said, feeling minutely put out. "Okay then. Thank you for demonstrating."

"You're welcome." Cosette turned away and Harry suddenly wanted to make her face him again, make her explain everything. But the moment passed, and Cosette was gone. Harry ran the back of his hand across his eyes. He shouldn't care. And as he packed up his things, he decided that he wouldn't. Nothing would be the same as before, anyway. Why bother? He slung his bag over his shoulder and walked into the corridor and down the stairs. He had enough to worry about as it was; he really didn't need Cosette. At that moment, Harry even convinced himself that he really didn't want Cosette either. He had Rhiannon now, after all.

---

Cosette sat alone in Potions, bent over her notes from last year. It was their first class, and the rest of the students were chattering excitedly about the new teacher, whom Cosette had not yet met. Unaware of the woman walking in through a door in the back of the room, Cosette only knew when class started from the sudden resonating silence in the dungeons. She looked up and met the bright green eyes of Rhiannon.

"Hello, darling. Studying a bit too hard for the first class, I'd say." Smirking, she walked to the front of the room. "Afternoon, class. My name is Professor Montmorency." At the mention of her last name, Cosette looked up, furrowing her brow. Her name sounded vaguely familiar, but Cosette quickly dismissed it. Probably some student at Beauxbatons had shared the name. Looking up, Cosette attempted to focus on what the professor was saying, but failed miserably. She had finally fallen asleep at around three in the morning, but woken up several times. She finally gave up and started to get ready for classes three hours later. The class seemed to drag on for endless minutes, but when the clock finally did signal it was time to go, Cosette felt she had not been there quite long enough. As the Ravenclaws left the dungeons to go to lunch, Cosette watched as the groups clumped together. Seeing how the groups of friends talked excitedly together threw into sharp relief the fact that Cosette herself still had no friends. Sure, she got along well enough with the girls in her dormitory, but none of them she felt she could talk to. Sighing, she changed directions and headed toward the library. It was bound to be abandoned. It was, after all the second day of classes and none of the teachers had assigned anything meriting a trip there. Just as Cosette reached the door and began to push it open, a very familiar voice rang out behind her.

"Don't you think you should be in the Great Hall, Miss Lestrange?" Cosette spun around, the ghost of a smile teasing her lips.

"Draco!" She exclaimed, rushing over and giving him a hug. The older man smiled. "Why are you here?"

"I took my father's position as one of the school's governors. Hermione's idea. She said we should try to polish our name again, considering Lucius' bad reputation with the school board. " He smiled. "So, how are you, Cosette?" He asked, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and accompanying her into the library to talk.

She shrugged. "It's been a hard year so far, what with the aftermath of the battle and Harry…" Her voice trailed off.

Draco furrowed his brow and titled his head in question. "What do you mean 'Harry'?"

Sighing, Cosette sat down. "Well, I tried to talk to him, to sort things out and make amends, like Hermione told me to. But he wouldn't listen. He just brushed me off and said that I was his student and our relationship should be strictly based on that fact." Tucking a strand of hair behind her left ear, she shrugged. "I guess that means he hates me?"

"Not necessarily," Draco said softly. "But you really hurt him, Cosette. Harry loved you. He still might, I don't know. It'll take some time for his wounds to heal. Harry's got a unique way of looking at things. He doesn't give second chances. You hurt him once, you never get the opportunity to do it again. It's how he protects himself."

"He gave you a second chance." Cosette protested, but the usual fervor had drained from her voice.

"Not really. He let me prove myself, and he only did that because he had to. Hermione means a lot to him, and if I was a part of her, well…I was consequently a part of him." Cosette sighed.

"I wish I didn't love him." Draco closed his eyes and pulled Cosette closer to him.

"You can wish all you want, and things will never change." Draco whispered. A tear found its way down Cosette's cheek, landing on Draco's shirt and creating a small circle of water. "Oh, Cosette." He said softly. "I know this is hard, but you have to accept that things between you and Harry are different now. You'll never be quite so close because he'll keep pushing you away."

"I know." Cosette sighed, looking up at the clock. "I have to go. Charms." Standing up, she grabbed her bag and placed a soft kiss on Draco's cheek. "Thanks."

"Anytime, Cosette." Draco smiled, and stood to escort her to class. The pair didn't really talk much as they made their way through the halls. Cosette inquired about Hermione, Draco asked about classes. Small talk. Before leaving her, Draco bent down and gave Cosette a hug. "Come visit over the holidays." He offered.

"Of course." Cosette smiled and went inside. Professor Flitwick wasn't there yet, so Cosette picked a seat near the back and took out her book and wand. Absentmindedly, she twirled her wand: eleven inches, holly, quite supple, a unicorn hair core. The door soon banged open and a rush of talkative students filled the classroom, followed by the professor. Slipping into a daydream, Cosette failed to pay attention to the class as Flitwick explained a new charm. She probably knew it already anyway.

---

"So, class, can anyone tell me what a boggart is?" Harry struggled with his near-silent class of third year Gryffindors. "Oh, come on." He mumbled, running a hand through his hair. "Doesn't anyone pay attention?"

A small, mousy looking boy in the third row tentatively raised his hand. "Don't boggarts live underwater and try to drown swimmers?"

"No," Harry said with a sigh. "That would be a grindylow." Quickly glancing at the clock, Harry tried not to smile. "Class is over. You can all go now." There was a general rustling before silence. Harry sank gratefully into his chair and closed his eyes. The door opened. It closed. More silence. Harry assumed a student had forgotten something and come back to get it, but there were no more footsteps. No sounds at all. And, Harry thought, the door would have closed twice. Warily, he opened one eye.

"What…?" He trailed off, startled, opened his other and sat up. "Why are you here?"

"Hermione's idea. I took Lucius' place as a school governor. Trying to make people think of the name 'Malfoy' in a slightly better fashion, after what Lucius did in second year. " Draco shrugged. Harry leaned back again and sighed. Draco pulled a chair up from behind a desk and sat across from Harry. "How've your first two days been?"

"Hell." Harry answered shortly. "I'm so ready for the holidays." Draco smirked. Harry scowled.

"You coming up to the Manor for Christmas?" Draco asked, trying not to laugh too much.

"Is Cosette going to be there?"

"Maybe. Why?" Draco asked.

Harry sighed. "I think she hates me." Draco gave him a confused glance. Harry ran his hand through his hair and took a deep breath. "She came up to me yesterday. I don't know why, I assumed just to talk, work things out. But she hurt me so much…I just don't want that to happen again. So I told her to leave. And today in class, she stared at me so indifferently." His words were broken and ragged. "I thought by pushing her away, I'd protect myself from getting hurt again. Seems as if I'm hurting more now that she's gone."

Draco ran his fingertips over his eyes. "I talked to Cosette earlier, before I came here."

"Oh, no." Harry whispered. "She really does hate me, doesn't she?"

"I don't know." Draco said truthfully with an elegant shrug. "She's all mixed up about you. I won't betray her words, but I think you two should talk."

"I can't." Harry slumped against the back of his chair: the stance of a defeated man. "I've never been one for communication."

"Seems as if you're doing fine right now." Draco said pointedly. Harry shrugged. "Look," Draco stood, brushing off his cloak and pushing the chair back behind the desk, "I have to go. My only advice is to get things sorted out before something really awful happens." Harry nodded.

"Thanks, Draco."

"Anytime." The door opened and shut almost silently behind him. For a moment, Draco paused just outside the door, reflecting. Not long after, however, a woman who looked to be about twenty sashayed by and into Harry's classroom. Draco considered following, but shook his head and left instead.

---

Harry had just decided to go and find Cosette when the door swung open. Briefly thinking it was Draco, Harry stood up and opened his mouth to tell him, but was cut off mid-breath.

"Hello, Harry." The girl said softly. Harry blinked.

"Hello, Rhiannon. Anything you needed?"

"No, I just wanted to say hello." Rhiannon gave him a playful smile, full of teases and taunts. "I'm afraid I don't know many people here at Hogwarts, and the dungeons can get quite lonely." Harry smiled slightly.

"I was just going to go up to my rooms and unpack a bit more." Hesitating, Harry took a deep breath and plunged forward. "You're welcome to come." Rhiannon's eyes twinkled and she smirked.

"I'd love to." Harry smiled and linked arms with the blonde. They made their way up two flights of stairs and down three corridors before finally reaching a thick wooden door. Harry broke contact with Rhiannon and pulled a key from his pocket. Unlocking the door, he stepped back to allow Rhiannon to step into his room first.

"I'm afraid it's still rather messy, but I've been so busy…"

"Shh…" Rhiannon said, placing a delicate hand over his mouth. "It's fine." As she dropped her hand, Harry felt her dark red nails brush against his cheek. The caress made his skin prickle. Rhiannon took off her top robe, pulled her curls into a ponytail, and smiled. Harry couldn't help but return the gesture. He offered her a chair, into which she curled up and watched as Harry pulled things from his trunks and placed them into drawers.

"I'm sure this is all very boring for you." Harry apologized. "I'm almost done. We could go for a walk if you'd like."

"I think I'd like that." Rhiannon said. Her eyes were half closed over her striking jade eyes. The effect was quite alluring, Harry decided. In a few minutes, Harry had finished and smiled.

"Done." He declared proudly. Rhiannon laughed and pulled her robes back on. Harry escorted her to the front doors and pushed them open. A gust of cool September air rushed in. The two walked outside and towards the lake, with mild conversation about backgrounds and teaching and friends.

"It was really odd, though, to see my best friend marry the person we all hated."

"Apparently she didn't hate him as much as you all believed." Rhiannon smirked.

"Oh, no." Harry said. "She hated him just as much as we did until seventh year. He made some sort of deal or something…It's confusing. But he turned out to be a pretty decent guy." Harry gestured for Rhiannon to sit and then placed himself beside her. The sky was gray and the wind was blowing harshly. "How about you?" Harry asked. "Tell me about your friends from Beauxbatons."

"What can I say? I had the normal sort of friends. I had the most wonderful boyfriend, though. He was handsome as anything, and had spirit to go with it. I sometimes believe he could have done anything." Her gaze drifted onto the water, choppy and dark.

"What happened with you two?" Harry asked hesitantly. He didn't want to hear that she had been hurt by him, but very much so wanted the relationship to have ended.

"He was killed." Rhiannon said shortly, taking a harsh breath and blinking.

"I'm so sorry."

"Most people were." Rhiannon shrugged. "I got over it. He was a great man, but knowing he's dead isn't any different than leaving him back in France while I came here." Harry nodded, thinking to himself that it would be very different for him. The two drifted into comfortable silence, and the rain that had been threatening them all day began to fall. Rhiannon stood up, pulled her hair out of it's tie and twirled. Harry smiled. Pulling him up, she did another twirl and laughed. Harry watched her closely, reveling in her happiness. She stopped, pulled Harry close to her, and gave him a firm kiss on his lips. The world was suddenly spinning as if he, too, had been twirling. She pulled away, raindrops clinging to her eyelashes and smiled. Harry couldn't help but smile back.

---

Cosette stood at the edge of the walkway, looking down the two hundred odd yards to the base of the tower. With only her heels placed on the deep grey stone, she was balancing precariously, somewhere between flying and falling, living and dying, caring and just not giving a damn anymore. She could vaguely depict two people near the lake, two black splotches against the faded grass and ruffled waters. There was a group huddled under a tree in the courtyard to her right, and to her left lay the forest. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes, tilted her head back, and spread out her arms. She could smell the rain, that earthy smell that seeped into your clothes and your hair and made everything heavy with humidity. When the first drop splattered on the floor beneath her, Cosette retreated. With each droplet, she took another step until her back was pressed against the tower. She slid down the wall and sat in a ball. She would leave her decisions for tomorrow. Right now, all she really wanted was a mug of peppermint tea and a book. And forty minutes later, that was precisely what she had, curled up in a large purple chair by the fireplace in the Ravenclaw common room. A knock soon came on the window behind her, and a bright white owl flew in. Cosette recognized the owl as Hedwig and cooed softly to her while she read the letter. It was written on a scrap of parchment in Harry's untidy scrawl. Eastern edge of the lake, tomorrow at midnight. -HP Cosette felt a surge of emotion bubble into her throat, but swallowed anything that threatened to escape. She sent Hedwig off with a bit of biscuit and tucked the letter into her book.

---

Harry picked up his wand, muttered a charm, and blinked as the room around him lit up with candles. Rolling over, he smiled. Rhiannon lay next to him, smiling in her sleep, her golden blonde hair strewn across the pillow. Harry felt drugged; his brain was fuzzy and he couldn't seem to form any coherent thoughts, or figure out why he was lying naked in bed with such a gorgeous girl. While he was pondering this and how to make the perfect peanut butter sandwich, Rhiannon woke up. She smiled lazily and kissed him.

"Have a good rest?" She asked softly, her voice still laced with poison and something Harry's wandering mind couldn't place. He nodded. She wrapped her arms around Harry's neck and drew him in for another long kiss. It took Harry a moment to respond, but when he did, he pushed her away. Rhiannon arched an eyebrow in a look of mock hurt. "Anything wrong?" She asked innocently.

"No," Harry said, and running a hand though his tousled hair, sat up. "And that's the problem. I feel like there should be something wrong about this and there isn't." Rhiannon smiled and sat up next to him, her hands running down his back.

"Guilty pleasure," Rhiannon whispered, her voice softly seductive. Harry's eyes fluttered before he made himself stand and get dressed.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Rhiannon." And with that he left.

---

A/N:: Yes, I'm alive. And yes, this is an actual chapter, not soem cheap imitation. I'm so sorry this took so long to come out...I've been really busy. There's not much to say...review please, and email me with questions. If you want email updates, leave your email address in the review or email me. I will not hunt down the address for you. Anyways, I hope you liked it. I love you all. Especially Yocheved, who is my GODDESS. I love you sweetheart.