Author's Notes:Beta'd by the lovely Lady Opalmort. We will not stand blithely by while Gaycycles rights are threatened! Stand up for what's right!

...Er. Right. Read on, then.

ashes, ashes

She remembers, still. His scent, waftingthrough the room and wrapping around her as she made the bed in the mornings; his coarse hands, rubbing gentle circles on her back as she drifted off to sleep; his lips, the fiercekisses that burned even once he had pulled away. She can feel these things as if they still lingered, and in her dreams they never left.

He was running, running faster than she'd ever seen him run before, and for a moment she thought he was going to plow her over. But he came to a sudden halt just in front of her, and she arched an eyebrow in bemusement. Before anything snarky could come from her lips, they were otherwise occupied, and he was kissing her like he never would again.

The students avoid her outside of class, and no one speaks of Dumbledorewhen she's near. Conversations stop as she enters a room, and eyes follow her every movement. She's a celebrity, almost, and students pay close attention now as she rambles on about Orion and Andromeda and the Little Dipper.

They never paid attention before.

They separated, both breathing heavily, and he took her face in his hands. "I love you," he murmured fiercely, holding her gaze. "I always will, no matter what happens."

She attends Dumbledore's funeral because she'd loved the old man – but even as the rest of them curse his murderer's name and swear vengeance, she can't bring herself to. She tries to hate him, wants to hate him with all her heart and all her soul, but all she manages to attain is a constant, steady acheof longing for his arms and his robes and his greasy black hair.

She gives up hating him because she neverhas and she never will and that's all there is to it.

He'd never said it before, not in the three years they'd been together, and she felt herself smiling. "I – I know," she whispered breathlessly. "But you've chosen a sort of funny moment to – "

He brought his fingers to her lips, a seductive, funny gesture that he'd never done before. The suave action looked out of place, on him, and shecurledher lips inward to keep from laughing. He kissed her forehead, tenderly, and stepped back, his eyes never once leaving hers.

She knows that he's betrayed her, them, theentire world, and that she ought to at least stop speaking of him as though he'd just popped off on holiday. Still, there's nothing quite like reading Shakespeare with him at midnight and banteringtogether as they correctpapers, and she finds herself, traitorously, wishing he was with her. Because he's always been the only one to understand her and maybe she needs him.

He spun on his heel and was gone before she even realized he was leaving. But as she stood in the dark, bewildered, she knew that something had gone wrong, something horrible had happened and she'd never see him again.

It was a silly thought, a foolish one, but nonetheless she felt it and it was this that made her call, "I love you, too," to his retreating form.

And then little Dennis Creevey threw himself into her arms and told her that Dumbledore dead, and Professor Snape had killed him.