A/N: Usual disclaimer applies. I apologise if this is a little rushed, guys. But there you have it – the final chapter of Part the First.
Chapter 13: There Is No Resolution
I feel dead, now.
I thought I did, after Lily and James. After Sirius – and after Sirius, again. Perhaps it was my fault, for thinking of him as I did, that night – but really –
I'm not sure I want to think of that, now.
I think I'm in the kitchen – yes, I am. Tonks isn't dead, thank Merlin – only nearing it, in bloody fucking St. Mungo's, looking all pale and pinched and bloody dying.
Everyone I love seems to die. I look down at the cup of tea I'm holding, swirling it aimlessly, savouring the thought of breaking it to pieces.
No, Remus, I warn myself, stupidly, setting it down on the table, my hands going to grip my knees, hard. If I do that, it won't be enough, and I'll just break everything in the kitchen, everything in the bloody house.
I'd really like to burn this house to the ground, at times. All the time, now. I used to wish that, before Harry came in summer, to help me paint it and pretend it was not really the house where Sirius lived. And now, who's to stop me from burning it?
Hot, fresh anger inundates me, as usual. I know he wasn't able to leave the spineless little bugger of a Minister. I know. I know!
But I still want to put my hands around his neck and squeeze. Just like Snape's long, smudged fingers looked like they wanted to do, three days ago. I pick up the cup of tea again, forcing some down. I fought with him, you know, in Stone Hollow, before that rotten pile of wood we called a barn, not realising that Harry was there, nearby, bleeding, waiting –
Guilt strangles at me, now. I wrestle with it – I've had experience. Plenty.
Too fucking much.
I give in, and throw the cup into the sink, so it shatters.
Then – good old Remus – I get up, and Scourgify the splashed, still-warm tea, and repair the cup.
Left to myself, I would probably have tidied up Harry's broken, still-twitching corpse, as well. Made it all clean. Refused to let it go, perhaps, at the end, but still. I could have done that.
Dumbledore looked just so broken, then, so angry – I thought he'd just check – hold – like I wanted to do – but next thing, he was staring at me, the expression in his hard eyes slightly unhinged, muttering something about really making sure, and then he was off. Gone.
I kick the chair I was sitting in, not really caring to know how I got out of it in the first place. Dumbledore came back, five hours later, steeped in blood, looking old and feeble, carrying Harry's cleaned, sewed, preserved body.
Looking perfectly strangle-worthy. I stood up and left the meeting, then – I was supposed to have that task.
I know I'm not entirely rational, but would you be?
Snape certainly isn't. I don't know what Dumbledore told him, fed him, to bring him back, but it took all of four days for him to return. He sat next to me earlier today, stiffly, glaring at the Headmaster, speaking in clipped, short tones, biting the head off every Weasley that tried to ask, none too politely, where the hell he'd been.
And there were many, too. He and Molly were having a rousing row by the end of that meeting. Dumbledore could barely separate them. I watched, slightly, dazedly, perplexed. Severus seemed to positively glow with rage as Molly berated him for not finding Harry fast enough. Frightening, even to me, surly as I was, then.
You see, it's the full moon tonight.
And, it is the funeral tonight.
The funerals, I should say. Two Order members died that night – Hestia Jones and Mundungus Fletcher. Two others, I believe, are dying – Moody, mottled with even more bruises and cuts than before, frightening even in his coma – and Tonks.
I really, really wish I could somehow escape, tonight – to Malfoy Manor.
It would be the utmost irresponsibility, in theory, but in practice…the thought warms my already heated blood.
Great Merlin, someone's coming in – two someones – does anyone know I don't want to be with anyone –
The voice of Hermione Granger only grates on my nerves, coming from behind me. I try to breathe in and out, my grip on the counter tightening, just hoping she'll keep her mouth shut –
"I'm so sorry – I know – how – how hard – "
"Spare me and shut up, Hermione." My voice speaks almost of its own accord. My conscience stabs me, but grief and anger numb the blow.
This fool, the wolf growls, in my ear, was not a good friend to your cub.
I heartily agree, turning on her. Ginny is beside her, looking frightened and pale, pulling at the arm of a shocked Hermione. I agree, with my unhappy conscience, to try to confine myself to a hearty glare – before stomping away to the new room I'm staying in – I can't sleep in that bed, where Tonks and I –
"But – why – "
"Because you hurt him. I don't care what you thought you were doing, or what you're thinking now. Stay away from me." I head for the door, pushing past the astounded girls, not caring. If only I could –
"But I didn't mean – "
"I told you," I snarl, turning on her again, shocking her and Ginny even more, ignoring the door opening again behind me, "I – don't – care! Didn't you learn anything from last year?" I step forward, towering over her in my feral strength, ignoring the way Ginny is trying to come between us.
"I was just trying to help – !" Hermione screams back, hoarsely.
"You could have helped by letting him alone!" I thunder back. The beast convulses in me hungrily – I fight it down, but the anger still –
"Don't shout at her – " Ron's weary voice comes from behind me, a hand yanking strongly on my arm.
That does it – I turn on him – been wanting to strangle someone – I ignore the reason screaming in my ears, flinging him hard to the floor, the strength in my arms ignoring the cries and other hands that tear me off Ron.
"Calm down, Remus – "
I cannot – what's the fucking use? I cannot calm down – there is no real reason to fight – the beast – any longer – Malfoy still lives – Harry lies in that bloody coffin, and I cannot say goodbye –
And darkness clutches at me, as I fall away, a howl erupting from my –
"Sweet Merlin…" Ron breathes, eyes widening.
Hermione is still sobbing into his chest, as both of us listen, wide-eyed, to the ruckus going on just up the stairs from the kitchen.
My fists tighten involuntarily. I told her –
"I feel – so – so s-s-stupid…" she sobs further, into Ron's chest. I sigh, swallowing my words.
I did tell her, you know.
This morning was the same. The same bleakness, the same aching, awful feeling when I woke to sniffling from the bed beside me. My brain obligingly supplied what was so wrong – Harry's funeral. It is today.
Seven pm. Godric's Hollow.
Remus' anguished howl, tearing through the walls from above, does not surprise me in the least. Ron squeezes Hermione helplessly, glaring at the door. They have that in common, Remus and Ron – they're both everlastingly angry, now.
Remus' anger is feral, and completely so – unquenchable, spilling out at everything and everyone.
"Stupefy!" We all flinch at the same time, hearing the thump-thump of something that can only be Remus' twitching, near-skeletal frame.
Unquenchable, like I said.
I fold my arms round myself, because Ron's arms are full, with Hermione. My dull train of thought on anger continues.
Ron's anger, I think, looking at his face, twitching, almost-red, is just there. Simmering. Selective. But very there.
I remember him screaming incoherently at Professor Snape when he returned to our midst this morning, twitching like many of us, hanging around the house for our protection, have been doing. Surprisingly, Professor Snape didn't even give Ron more than a glance of hatred – he saved his vitriol for Mum.
She's angry too. It came flowing out, all pouring down on our hateful spy's neck. It was a spectacular fight – of words only – and surprising in the fervour on both parts. Snape kept looking at everyone, and twitching – it was really rather odd.
I shake my head, hard.
I'm starting to get as incoherent as everyone around me.
I want, desperately, to stay sane, but it is difficult. Remus' wild behaviour is only a little extreme, compared to what everyone else is doing. Everyone else, being the public.
Wizarding Britain has all, collectively, gone a bit mad. Rocked, two weeks ago, now, by the scandal of the kidnapping of Harry Potter – now everyone's poster boy, instead of the mad little saviour, I think bitterly to myself – no one was prepared for the news that he was dead.
Dumbledore's statement sounded so cold. "Caught in spellfire during an attempted rescue." So meaningless. So implausible.
I remember Hermione saying that, in a small, small voice, at the meeting today. Now, as I look at her, her sobs quieting down at Ron's awkward ministrations, I remember the glare Remus shot at her as Professor Snape shot her down.
"Implausible, Miss Granger?" he said coldly, tone underlain with the same anger pulsing in everyone else. "Would you rather he took down fifty Death Eaters with him? Went out heroically? Kindly keep your opinions of Potter's demise to yourself."
Of course, Dumbledore admonished him for that, but it didn't make any difference. I shake my head slightly, to myself.
No idea why she wants to know how – how he died, now – isn't it useless? It makes no sense –
"He didn't mean it, Hermione…" My chin comes up from its position on my chest, sharply. Sometimes, my brother is really thick –
"Of course he did," I cut in. Ron glares at me, as Hermione slowly faces me, her face still crumpled with grief.
"But how can he – "
"How do you think?" I hiss, my heart starting to beat nearly out of my chest, with the fury gathering within. "It's the full moon tonight, Hermione – how would you feel if you couldn't go to his funeral?"
"I was only trying to – " she starts. I can't hear it – I just –
"I can't do this – I won't – "
"This is about the time he apologised, isn't it?" Hermione says, her own voice rising in grief and frustration.
"Yes – and about the time when you didn't listen to him!" Red seems to whirl behind my eyes, making me snap further at Ron, making me want to throttle her, too, just as Remus was on the brink of doing. "You didn't see him thumping the wall in his room – bloodying his fists like an idiot just because you didn't listen to him!"
"And he didn't scream at you in front of everyone!"
"You started that, Hermione – if you'd told me that was what you'd had in mind, I would've told you to fuck off!"
"Stop shouting at each other!" Ron's roar stills my racing pulse, but only for a minute, its direction giving me a new target for the sizzling fury in my body.
"And you – shouting at him for defending himself!" I lean forward into Ron's equally angry frame, jabbing my finger at his chest. "You don't think I know? Remus told me – told me how it went – you yelled at him for not wanting to tell you what he didn't feel like saying!"
Silence, punctuated by the heavy breathing of we three, angry teenagers, reigns. I lower my hand, grief clawing at me. So many things, all gone so wrong –
"Ginny – " Hermione is saying, half angry, half sad.
I turn on my brother and my friend, and flee the kitchen, heading for my room, so I can continue the steady activity I have been regularly engaging in so far – sobbing into my pillow.
By the time I emerge for a hasty dinner, prepared by Mum, with her empty eyes and trembling mask of a face, my face is splotchy and dull, despite all my charms. I give up on my appearance, donning my patched school robes carelessly, jabbing at my painful, tender eyes, ignoring everything until I reach the kitchen, where I dutifully put down my water and slightly dry sandwich, engaging softly in meaningless small talk with Fred and George.
Everyone else is silent, as the three of us chat lowly about me going back to school, and doing OWLs, and working at their shop, as they'll need a hand in the summer.
I reply that yes, school will be a nice change, and that my OWLs will take care of themselves, and of course I'll lend a hand during the summer. Ron and Hermione glare at me from nearby, but I ignore them. Remus is nowhere to be found – and that's a mixed blessing, because it means he may already be changing.
I wish Tonks was here, fiercely so. If only for Remus.
The journey to Godric's Hollow goes fascinatingly fast, voices and portkeys and walking and standing in line all jumbling together in a formless haze, and far too suddenly, we are here.
Thousands of people, I tell myself dully, are here, too.
Of course, we get preference – Weasleys getting preference, bloody joke, that – and we are in the front row, in the very midst of things, crying louder than everyone else. I cry until I cannot, then sit down, the words of the funeral speeches flowing over me like a distant, puzzling sea.
Questions, silly, sad little questions pluck at me from time to time.
Where is Harry now?
I wonder if he's watching?
What in the blue blazes is Snape doing in the front row?
Who would've thought so many Slytherins would make it? Why, I can see Nott, of all people…
Did Harry have a will?
Wouldn't he be embarrassed by all this?
Bloody hell – are those knickers that girl is trying to leave in his coffin?
Why is Snape still here?
I almost laugh, just a little.
Then sigh, as I finally come to his coffin, and I freeze. Because he can't be dead – this is surely all a joke, surely all a bizarre, odd little joke, and we'll meet him skulking around Grimmauld Place, and Harry is not dead.
I back away from the coffin slowly. I don't want to see what's in there, because –
Because Harry. Isn't. Dead.
Severus Snape had wondered who it would be, next, to go into hysterics. Lupin had been inevitable, really – he'd seen the way he'd completely abandoned his duel, screaming imprecations at the Dark Lord, tearing away through the sea of shocked bodies.
He'd had to Stun him, of course. However happy the Dark Lord had been on Potter's demise, it would have been purely unwise to do anything but that.
Of course, there had been the little matter of Severus' own little bout of madness, as he'd started to Stun everyone and everything around him, heaping curses on Dumbledore's bloody, old, late head as he'd Apparated away with his gleeful, hated master.
Snape watched, almost dispassionately, as Ginny Weasley began to back away from the coffin of Harry Potter, mumbling and muttering to herself, yelling at her frightened brothers that Harry was not dead. He turned away from the awful spectacle soon enough – it was really too close to home, to watch.
He'd stumbled into his old, rotting Manor, impotent with rage and despair, wondering where the bloody fuck was Lucius Malfoy – he'd disappeared in that bloody Hollow, somehow, and Voldemort had been displeased at his absence from the revel that had followed.
Or, at least, he would be displeased, when Lucius returned.
Severus remembered, now, even as he stood to help a distraught Arthur Weasley subdue his wild, weeping daughter, how he'd felt, on seeing Dumbledore in his Manor.
The memory was oddly hazy, but he could remember trying to strangle the old man.
"Silencio," muttered the dour man, as they withdrew into the nearest mausoleum, quieting the heaving sobs of the young girl, who began to splutter with rage. He put his wand away slowly, drawing back to allow her father and brothers to try to calm her down. It would not do her any good to Stun her, like he'd Stunned Lupin – the Weasley girl wouldn't be hysterical for long. If it had been the Granger girl, they would've had a problem on their hands – that girl had the potential to be a weeping fount for hours.
He ignored the glares of the foolish Weasleys, clustered around the hysterical, weeping girl as they were. On the other hand, he told himself, Lupin was rather more dangerous – an enraged werewolf, just a few hours before his monthly transformation, and therefore better off Stunned.
He hadn't gone down too easily, but what did that matter? He was now locked away in the reinforced room in Grimmauld Place, and Severus, snorting to himself, thought that no one – not even that foolish Tonks, imprisoned as she was in St. Mungo's – would be letting him out until well after his transformation had taken place.
Perhaps, Severus mused further, about half a day, to be safe. He'd really been raving.
As he stepped out of the mausoleum, sneering at the weeping, sorrowful mourners that clustered heavily around the coffin – which he had instinctively steered clear of – Severus wondered why he was so calm.
It couldn't be a Cheering Charm or a Calming potion – the effects of either method simply did not last three days, or give you a hazy, disjointed memory of brewing and cleaning and wiping blood off several articles of furniture. It puzzled him, and frightened him, as well.
It didn't help that his rage at Dumbledore had dimmed significantly, or that he had a strong compulsion to return to Snape Manor immediately after the funeral and its attending gatherings were well over.
Severus Snape had no real idea what was going on, apart from the strong feeling that the whole hazy situation was not to do with one of The Dark Lord's plans, but he knew who to go in order to find out, and where, oddly, he could find the answers.
It was infuriating. And frightening, though he'd die before he'd admit it to anyone.
Yet, hours later, a cursing, confused Severus Snape sought out Albus Dumbledore, away from prying eyes, and nodded quickly when the tired old man told the grim spy their destination, before handing Snape a portkey in the shape of a small notebook.
The Headmaster's definitely off, today, Severus thought, the familiar sensation of portkey travel enveloping him. Ridiculous password, that – 'alive' –
Forgive me – it's another cliff-hanger, eh? Don't worry – the first chapter of the sequel, a prologue of sorts, will be up later tonight, as well.