A/N - And here ends the story, boys and girls. Thank you to everyone who reviewed it, or even just appreciated it anonymously. I'm working on several stories right now, and will post once I'm sure I'll finish them and stuff…Heh. Enjoy, and I'll see you on the other side.
It rained that night. Heavy unapologetic sheets, pounding on the windows, still cemented in but Harry could hear it. Soaking the grounds, flooding the lake. Cleansing.
The corpses had been collected. The body count was over a hundred, what he's overheard from the hushed conversations outside the infirmary. He didn't know why they whispered, he'd have to hear it eventually. Had witnessed so much of it he was numb. Just a number. Just another Killing Curse, green light out of the corner of his eye, a thud as they hit the ground. He would've sworn that he'd seen it far more than a hundred times.
Dumbledore had seen to Voldemort personally. He had collected the body, and draped a black cloak over him. Now just a corpse, Harry wasn't afraid anymore. He would've gone out, stood with Hermione and everyone else as Dumbledore lifted him into the boat with surprising ease. Dumbledore had told him that he was light. "All corpses are. They have no soul left to weight them down. No guilt, no conflict, no pain."
That night Harry had wondered if he was dead. No guilt, no conflict, no pain. Nothing left but a sense of numbness. And he barely even registered that.
Dumbledore had lit the boat on fire and pushed it into the lake. Harry had watched from the doorway, as far as Madam Pomfrey allowed him to go. "It's freezing out there, and what an event that would be, to defeat You-Know-Who and die of a cold." She didn't mince words with him. He liked that.
Remus had no words at all, but he stood with Harry in the doorway, a tentative but comforting hand across Harry's shoulders. And that was okay too.
He should've been able to sleep; for the first time in years, his thoughts and dreams were his alone. But he was restless. He got out of bed, slipped on his shoes and glasses. And without a real reason why, he went down to the lake.
He sat beneath a willow tree. It offered no protection against the rain, the ground was muddy, but it didn't matter. He leaned against the trunk, watching the raindrops hit the lake. He heard footsteps behind him, but didn't care.
"Harry?" He glanced back. Lucius was standing there, a glass in one hand and untying his cloak with the other. "Harry, it's five in the morning if it gets any colder you'll be sitting in snow, not rain."
"That's okay," he mumbled.
Lucius raised an eyebrow, such a painfully familiar expression. "And why is that?"
"Because…." He wiped the raindrops from his face, searching for the right words. "I just want to feel," he said simply.
"Ah." Lucius spread the cloak out on the mud and sat next to Harry, pulling him onto the soft fabric. He offered the glass, and Harry took a sip. Cold and sweet. His stomach started to churn and he spat it out. "Port," Lucius explained, taking back the glass gently. "Narcissa's dead," he said in the same conversational tone.
He wasn't sure whether regrets were appropriate. "Why?"
"As they - the Death Eaters - saw it, I was responsible for the Dark Lord's death. They attacked the manor, burned it to the ground, and slit her throat."
Harry said nothing, but leaned against his shoulder. Lucius sighed and wrapped an arm around him. "What now?" Harry asked softly.
"Now I'm going to pack what few belongings I have left, leave Hogwarts with dignity, and find somewhere else to go." A pause. "I told Draco last night. Didn't react at all." A sip of port. "How do you think Spain is this time of year?"
"I'd imagine it's perfect."
Lucius smiled at him wistfully. "Why would that be?"
"Because nobody would know you there. Or, with any luck, me."
"My reputation's pretty severely tarnished, that would be a relief. But you'll remain at Hogwarts for another year," Lucius told him.
"I will not." He looked back at the castle, faint in the storm. "They don't need me anymore, I know enough. I just want out." A pause. "I want to go with you."
Harry pulled out of his grip. "And why not?"
"It won't work. I'm still involved in the Dark Arts."
"That doesn't bother me."
"And what would everyone think of us?"
"Never stopped you before."
"Fair enough." He fingered a wet lock of Harry's hair. "You're not going back?"
A long silence. "I can't promise anything long-term."
"That's okay." He snaked his cold fingers through Lucius's. "Right now, I just want to feel." He hesitated, then said softly, "You make me feel." He arched up and kissed him.
Lucius let him, then pulled back. "This can't be what you want."
"This is exactly what I want."
He took a breath. "If you'd like to come, I'd love to have you with me."
Draco and Xanthus were curled on a couch in the common room talking quietly when Harry came in. Draco looked up. "Oh boy. Look what the cat dragged in. You're a mess."
"Thanks, Malfoy." His hair was dripping and his clothes were muddy, so he didn't think Draco was too far off, but he didn't care.
Xanthus surveyed him. "Did you sleep outside?"
"No." He continued to his room.
Draco trailed. "Potter?"
"What?" He opened his trunk and tossed his textbooks into it. "Why did you follow me?"
"What're you doing? Did he make you go mad?"
"Who do you mean?" Harry asked guardedly.
"The Dark Lord, who else?"
"Oh." He folded a shirt and tossed it in as well. "I dunno. Maybe. I'm leaving."
Draco blinked. "You've cracked."
"Guess that's what you'd call it," Harry agreed, throwing a wrinkled robe in the trunk's direction.
Draco snatched it out of the air casually. "No, seriously. You're not."A kick to the trunk's lid, and it thumped closed. "You've got nowhere to go but here."
"'Course I do." He reached to reopen his trunk, but Draco moved more quickly and brought his foot down on the top. "Sorry about your mother and the manor," he added.
"You were outside with my father."
"Uh-huh." He pushed Draco's foot off his trunk, shoving the robe in haphazardly.
"So did he inspire this episode of spontaneity in you?"
"You're running off with him?"
"You don't approve?"
"Of course not. Good lord, you can't be serious." Draco shook his head. "That's going to be so awkward at family reunions."
"If I promise to myself scarce then, will you let me finish packing?"
"No, god." He absently handed Harry his brush from the nightstand. "Where would you go?"
"He said Spain. You can determine on your own if he was serious." Harry added brightly, "I'll send you postcards if you'd like."
Draco pursed his lips, then after a long pause, smiled. "You do that."
"No, but I've heard that Spain's beautiful." He offered his hand, and Harry shook it.
"Thanks." He let go and took the handle of his trunk, dragging it across the floor.
Draco sighed. "Potter, you have no class. Mobilarcha."
The trunk rose, levitating evenly with his shoulders. "Thank you," Harry said in surprise. "G'bye."
"Mm." And he left.
One last stop before he was gone forever. He knocked softly on the middle door.
"Who is it?" Hannah's voice called.
"It's Harry," he said back. "Is Hermione there?"
The door swung open. Hermione still had a brush to her hair - futilely - and was dressed in a thick cotton nightgown, but smiled at him. "Harry. You can't come in, sorry, they're getting dressed… but would you like to talk out here?"
She pulled the door closed behind herself, watching him inquisitively. "Why your trunk?" she prompted.
"I'm leaving. For Spain. I don't need to be here anymore, you understand, don't you?"
"Yeah, I do." She pulled him into a tight hug. "Both of you take care."
"Just a guess." She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I'll miss you."
"Miss you too, Hermione. But I need a fresh start."
Lucius had always been a light sleeper, never really comfortable enough to surrender his senses in the dark. And so Harry wasn't surprised when he turned around to see the cool gray eyes watching him. "Harry, what time is it? Why're you up?" He pushed his hair off his face.
"I got an owl, didn't you hear him?" He was curled on the cushion of their bay window, watching the warm Spanish rain tap on the glass. An envelope lay in front of him unopened, Hermione's typically-meticulous handwriting looking a bit more haphazard.
"No, I didn't. Why now, though?" Lucius got up, picked his pocketwatch from the nightstand. "It's a quarter of four, what could be so important at this hour?"
"Dunno, I don't want to open it." He thrust the envelope at Lucius, who took it through thin fingers.
"You're being irrational."
"Uh-huh." He watched Lucius expectantly.
He slid a nail underneath the edge and pulled out the parchment.
Lucius held up a finger as he scanned Hermione's letter. "Perhaps you should read this yourself."
"No." His heart was beating faster. Something is very wrong.
Lucius pursed his lips. "Denial benefits nobody."
"So tell me and I'll believe you." He didn't want to hear it, wanted to disentangle himself from that world….
"Arthur Weasley's son is dead."
"Ron?" Lucius nodded, and Harry let his head fall onto his chest, and closed his eyes. He felt Lucius sit beside him, one arm wrapped around his waist. "We weren't on speaking terms anymore," he explained. "The Dark Mark, and you, and…." He trailed off. "He was brilliant, though, when…. I was going to apologize afterward, after everything was over. Then Pettigrew…. Goddamn." He lay his head on Lucius's shoulder, concentrating on the sound of the rain.
"Pettigrew's dead, if it's any consolation," Lucius offered. "That spell drained his energy, he just collapsed once he was off the grounds."
"That doesn't help," Harry said quietly. "It doesn't resurrect Ron, no matter how many Death Eaters are killed. Not him, not Bellatrix, not Voldemort himself."
"It doesn't matter, it won't change anything if I plague myself with guilt." Lucius remained quiet, and he continued, "I never thought I could do it, kill somebody. It was the prophecy and Dumbledore warned me I'd have to. But it was just so far above my comprehension, even afterward. And now." He swallowed hard inadvertently. "Now I think I get it. And I want that naïveté back."
Lucius pushed his head against his bare chest, running his fingers through Harry's fine hair. "I'm grateful you did, I never told you. You saved my life."
"I killed him. I killed somebody. I'm no better than he is."
"It was a necessary evil."
"Still evil," Harry spat.
"Yes," Lucius agreed calmly. "I hope you're able to forgive yourself."
"I won't," he said. "Ever. I'll always feel guilty and evil and a murderer."
"So you're able to feel?"
That gave him pause. "Yeah, I guess I am." The tears sliding down his cheeks felt foreign.
"Come on, Harry, you need sleep," Lucius said quietly.
"No…no, I want to stay awake. Don't take this away from me." Tears dripped down his face, and he didn't dare wipe them away. "When's the funeral?"
"Thursday. Would you like to go?"
"I don't know."
"It would be closure."
"To hell with closure." He paused. "I don't want to see him like that."
"It's not," he insisted. "I just don't want to be part of all that anymore." Lucius cocked his head, looking at him expectantly. Harry sighed. "Okay, so it is denial. I'll pack a suitcase in the morning."
"Good, and until then…." Lucius pulled him closer, kissing him softly, stroking his hair, nibbling his neck. Harry relaxed. Yes, he definitely felt something, felt everything. It wasn't exactly a pleasant feeling, but a reassuring one. Closure. It would hurt, it would be painful, and he would feel everything, and savor it.