And death shall have no dominion.

Dead men naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at the elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost, love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

- Dylan Thomas

Harry drifted. The wings of his cloak wavered around him. Was he dreaming?

There was a pinch at the edge of his fingers, again in his thigh. In vague dissonance, Harry wondered where he was, what was happening, but it was so incorporeal. He realized a moment later that he had no clothes, that the fluttering curtains about him were his own skin, being sewn.

He started to struggle, knowing, for some reason, that that was wrong and painful and he should be scared of pain. Something, almost a hand, leaned against his chest to calm him. The pinching continued, outlining his body, and Harry laid back. It was surreal - more... and less than reality. The whiteness around him that was warm. The thin needle invading his silhouette. As more of him was sewn, he felt himself growing heavy. The drugged euphoria ebbed until he could almost feel... something, with senses outside the light.

The strange dreamland - how long had he waned in the twilight - dissipated, leaving Harry with the sensation of being swallowed. He was gulped down, and something snapped, coming together in terrifying completion.

Dead men naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

He blinked. Incomprehensible color bled in colosseums of tides. For a minute, he was lost in the mob-like science of thoughts and sensations. Slowly, the cacophony of sensations reformed one by one like toy militia.

The drumming eased, and he sighed, wetting his lips and placing a hand over his splitting headache. Only his hand didn't move. He tried to sit up and found every muscle in his body liquid as if he'd been dueling relentlessly. His body felt like gruel. With a dry groan, he tried to sit up.

Welcome hands spread along his back, helping him up. They moved the pillows. Through the buzz, Harry slowly made out sounds. Words. As he focused, slowly, they came to him, like a trickle from a boarded stream.

"...easy. You haven't moved in a while. You're going to be weak."

Harry stared at the woman. He knew he should know her. Color and shape were beginning to come to him, the light dragged out of her hair as he began to distinguish yellows from golds. Her face came, paler than her hair. Pink mouth. Blue eyes. Finally, dark lashes.

He studied her.

"Do you remember me?" she asked, looking under his eyelids.

Yes, he thought, as the image fell into place in his mind. Instantly, his memory of her returned, so complete and unblemished he felt stupid for forgetting.

"Mrs. Malfoy?" he said. His voice was worse than the indigestible muck Buckbeak hacked up.

She pressed a glass of water against his lips. He was so grateful he gulped it down without fuss. She pulled it away before he was ready. He didn't recognize the room he was in, surrounded by white curtains that shifted in a soft breeze, and he didn't have his glasses. His wand was missing, and he wasn't wearing clothes he recognized.

"Where am I?" he said.

"Hogwarts," she said. "In a private room in the infirmary."

He watched her, bewildered. He couldn't move. He could hardly speak. She checked his pulse, and when her wand waved over him, he flinched. She stopped. He watched her through a narrow gaze.

The silence stretched as he waited for reprisal.

"What do you want?" he asked at the end of his short patience.

The last he'd seen of her was during the Malfoy trials. She'd had such a tight grip on her son.

"Do you not remember?" she asked.

Every nerve he owned would have reared on end had they been capable. He fought through exhaustion and dizziness, trying to clear his head. He looked down at the sheets covering him. The last thing he remembered was eating with Ron and Hermione. They'd been under a lot of stress, and he recalled the Hallows.

He wet his lips. "Was... was there an attack?" Their flat was ridiculously warded, but all he could think of was the way the Hogwarts wards had fallen, the fire and rubble and screaming. He stared at the woman, wondering why she was here to nurse him, wondering if she'd know anything about Ron and Hermione.

She frowned, watching his face as carefully as a potion experiment.

"But you remember me?" she said slowly.

Disturbed, Harry tried to assess her for evidence of concussion or potion. Her hair was tied in a tail, the ends furled as though left to air-dry. Even at the peak of her family's ruin, he'd not seen her so unmade. There was no disgust in her eyes even for their proximity. The tick of strain that seemed engrained in her face from that first glimpse at the Quidditch World Cup was replaced by a type of intensity he'd seen Hermione give books.

"You're... Narcissa Malfoy, aren't you?" he asked warily.

"I am," she said, her voice tightly constrained. "Do you know who you are?"

Fear moved through his bones, squatting in his stomach. He felt faint. Something was horribly wrong. He needed to leave, go somewhere safe. Why was he in Hogwarts anyway?

His fingers scrambled incoherently on the sheets. "If this is Hogwarts," he said slowly, struggling with panic, watching her beneath his lashes, "then I should speak with Pomfrey, or Minerva?"

Her face only tightened more, looking more confused. "Minerva?"

"You're not Narcissa Malfoy," he snarled, trying to scramble away. He nearly tipped over the bed.

Someone grabbed his arm, bracing him against robes. He turned to claw away only to come face to face with a dead man. The retort died suddenly on his tongue, the last meager ounce of his strength fleeing and leaving him faint. He felt like he was floating a dangerous distance away from his mind.

Dumbledore's hand was a solid, gentle presence on his arm. It was a disaster - the breathless destruction of a homestead under the clasp of a tornado. He couldn't look away, couldn't salvage his sanity.

"Am I upsetting you?" the apparition asked, setting his infirm body back upon the sheets.

With a loose, awful keening, Harry grappled wildly for him, finding purchase in his soft, lavender robes. His voice clogged, and tears spilled recklessly down his cold cheeks.

"Sir?" he gasped. "It's impossible. Is it really you?"

"I'm not sure," the apparition said. "Who am I?"

Harry laughed. It was broken and wheezy and he wondered if he was in hell. He pressed his forehead against his shoulder. It was warm. It even smelled real. So it wasn't the Stone.

Cautiously, a hand touched his wizened back, smoothing outside the gown. "Forgive me, son. This may confuse you, but may I ask you a question?"

Harry breathed raggedly through his mouth and nodded. Dumbledore pulled him back gently, looking into his glossy, red-stained face.

"Would you please tell us your name?"

Harry stared at that familiar face. He knew. He knew in some distant, unwelcomed part of himself that this couldn't be Dumbledore. He had died. He'd met him at the terminal, the meeting place of life and death. But his face was so familiar, so known. It was engraved on the back of his eyelids and impressed upon on like a brass rubbing. He had the same sage, the same sunspots across his cheeks, half-moon spectacles, blue eyes, scratchy beard. You can't polyjuice the dead, and where would anyone get that serene magic, caressing all the throbbing wounds of your life with hope.

Harry stilled and he gripped Dumbledore's arm. He knew the contours of Dumbledore's magic well. It was a warm and sunny place, but where Harry searched, he found nothing, a barren waste.

He looked at Dumbledore in confusion, his broken memory drumming an incoherent tattoo in his brain.

"You're not Dumbledore," he whispered.

The doppelgänger continued to smile, the same kind, patient gesture as when Harry had sat before the Mirror of Erised, memorizing his parents' faces for the first time in his life.

It was like Dumbledore was dying again, falling away, though this time it was Harry who felt the sensation riddling his soul.

This man calmly stroked his back, keeping him precarious. He wanted to believe. If this man denied it, spun lies to him, Harry just might believe him anyway. Because he needed to.

"Say your name," he reminded, tender as a summer breeze.

Harry could not deny him.

"Harry Potter."

Dumbledore nodded, an assumption confirmed. "How did you get here, Harry?"

Harry frowned, trying to remember, for this man who was not his own, but God, so alike.

He licked his lips. "I... walked..." The memory slipped and twisted, and it was as if it had been folded and cut like a paper snowflake. "I... was in a cauldron full of time, and I... I..." It had become more misty and Harry struggled with himself. "I passed through. I think, I died again," he said, leaning heavily on those blue eyes, an anchor in the bottomless abyss. "Am I dead?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "No. You are very much alive."

Harry felt tears flowing over his face, nearly heedless to himself. There were things he had to know before oblivion overwhelmed him. At the moment, he wasn't even sure if he'd wake again.

"Sir, the Hallows! Are they gone? Is Voldemort dead?"

"Hush," he said gently, untangling frantic hands. "Voldemort is in no place that can touch us now. You are safe."

Harry was not satisfied. He had so many questions, but his strength was waning faster than he'd ever felt before. He was fading in and out.


There were quiet whispers running harried above him, like gossamer shadows, as he succumbed to sleep. Fear and fatigue took him.

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at the elbow and foot;

Harry faded in and out of consciousness, a little less dazed and a little confused each time, until reality began to stamp itself upon him. The tremendous weight of all he'd lost fell upon him. No Ron. No Hermione. He felt like his two limbs had been hewn off. When he was possessed by the yoke of the Hallows, he'd spared no energy to grieve, but alone in the infirmary room, he was wretched in his loneliness. He wept until strength once again deserted him.

For a long time, his only companions were Dumbledore and Narcissa Malfoy. The latter treated him well if professionally. Harry felt no urge to open to the woman who had so strongly disdained his two best friends. Even if it wasn't her. She performed her duties as nurse, even the spells that emptied the bedpans, without scorn and brought him meals that were fresh and warm and delicious. Despite his resolve to mope, he cleaned his tray each time.

He was courteous and always thanked her no matter what she did but she spoke no words to him and truly he didn't mind. Dumbledore was a different story. He came at odd hours, whenever the urge seemed to strike him really, and sat at his bedside. At first, Harry couldn't look at him without crying. It was an embarrassing affair, but the old man bore it with grace and compassion, like his would have.

After several several visits spent silently amidst Harry's sobs, the old man finally spoke. "You must have loved him dearly."

His sad voice was unpresumptuous. Despite having never known this man, never spoken with this man, Harry knew everything about him. It was strange. Unlike Mrs. Malfoy, who was so changed it was impossible to mistake the two, Harry felt like this and his Dumbledore had walked the same roads, made the same mistakes up until whatever catastrophe stripped him of his magic. He wondered if Gellert did that but was too polite to ask.

He was in a little bit of a better mood, as Scotland's frequent summer showers had passed by his window that morn, being with it the smell of quidditch grass and evergreen from forest beyond. Dumbledore's voice struck a chord with him.

"I did. I guess I do," he said, smiling weakly with a voice still waterlogged. He felt the urge to speak, to get all this muck off his chest. "He was... very kind. He never spoke with me- It was only after- He must have suffered so much."

No one could understand how it pained him to realize that he'd known so little about the man's life. He'd never asked. He'd loved him so much and never even known him. He wished he could have told him that the tragedies of his life weren't his fault, that he was sure, somewhere, Ariana didn't blame him. That he was so sorry for what happened with Grindleward. That he deserved love. That Harry understood why he'd tried to shelter him for so much of his life, why he had to be slaughtered and it wasn't his fault. He'd chosen to die because it was the right thing to do and Dumbledore didn't have to bear that weight. They could have taken it together if he'd only known.

He emerged from his thoughts to realize that his companion was holding a shaky hand over his mouth. Dumbledore was crying and Harry realized that he'd spoken aloud. He watched Dumbledore with horror and mortification, blanching quickly. The old man shook his head but seemed incapable of speech, turning his face to sob softly into his palm, each sound trapped and swallowed.

Unable to sit still, Harry pulled back the covers and stood, for the first time, on the floor of this new world. He was as wobbly as a top. It would have been funny if it weren't so pathetic. He forced his legs to bend to his stubbornness and made it to the two small steps between the bed and Dumbledore's chair.

He would have preferred to stand by his side but Harry could do no more than collapse into the old man's lap. It was graceless and ugly, his whittled bones pressing indecently into the man's thigh, but Harry soon preoccupied his self-disgust by wrapping Dumbledore in an embrace, tangling his still palsy fingers into his white hair.

It was only after a minute that he realized he'd began a litany, yet again heedless to his will.

"It's not your fault" was repeated as he stroked his hair, their chests pressed together and arms wound tight. Really, it was all Harry's strength could do to sit there but he'd done more tiresome things for much less important reasons.

Dumbledore quieted quicker than he expected but then his brain was kind of wobbly too. Hiding his tear-trodden face, Dumbledore helped settle him back into the bed, that small trek across the floor exhausting.

"Forgive me. You should be resting," he said, and Harry would not say he was patting the bed self-consciously only because such actions didn't seem possible for Albus Dumbledore.

"I've been doing nothing but resting," he whinged, betrayed by his tired tone. Still, the attempt at lightening the mood won him a small smile.

He lay back against the pillows. Dumbledore's hand remained on the bed, even after he returned to his seat.

"He was a great man. He was... he was probably as close to a father as I ever came."

There. It was out. Harry had never told anyone that. He'd never even admitted it to himself in the dead of night while he was alone in his mind. It carried too much fragile truth, made him too vulnerable. He never would have told his Dumbledore. He didn't want the wizard to think he expected that of him. It was enough that he cared enough to find him wandering in the hallways under his invisibility cloak, that he entrusted him with riddles and responsibilities outside his years.

"Your own was not present?" Dumbledore asked quietly.

Sometimes, it was just plain bewildering to know that no one knew his past. It had been splattered in history books before even Harry himself knew it.

"No," he said, finding some amusement in the situation despite the severity. "He died when I was little. I don't remember him at all really. He tried to give time for my mother and me to escape when Voldemort found our house."

"So you lived with your mother," he said, probably the most reasonable assumption.

Harry looked at him until those blue eyes - now red-rimmed - rested fully on him.

"No. She died protecting me. I lived with my aunt and uncle. For the longest, I thought they both had died in a car accident. My only memory of her... is when I'm around dementors and I hear her scream."

Dumbledore looked stricken. "I'm so sorry, Harry."

He shrugged, uncomfortable. The question was burning on his tongue. Whether or not they were alive here. But he didn't ask. He couldn't bear the answer.

"It was a long time ago." He fixed a smile on his face. "My patronus is a stag," he said proudly. "You know my dad was one as an animagus."

Harry told him about how he'd learned the spell. It was a marvelous tale, like something out of a storybook. Set upon by a hundred dementors...! He felt a little guilt for spinning a yarn out of something that had been so horrible. There was nothing comforting about dementors, and that last, for a moment, he'd allowed himself to believe that his father was alive somewhere, performing miracles for him, and he'd had to experience that dream crushed. He'd always he nothing more than an orphan.

But he kept his cheer high, coaxing those cherished smiles from his not-professor, the way he'd wanted to for so long. It felt so good for a moment he almost forgot where he was, the gaping chasm of his future and the daunting task of existing here. This Dumbledore did not have eyes that twinkled quite as wickedly as his own. That wily old coot. This Dumbledore was broken in different ways but quicker to laugh with his mouth open and inviting, daring to brush the hair back from his face as he left. Less cunning perhaps and more easy to touch the heart of.

Days continued in vain in his sanctuary, the outside world held trembling at the threshold. Harry feared stepping outside as much as he came to love Dumbledore's visits. He brought joy to his fear and isolation. Dumbledore asked questions. Harry knew he was posed with an inquisition but Dumbledore spoke like a friend, rarely pushing, and Harry appreciated it. He spoke openly in turn, effecting to hide very little, only the most painful things and not because of any lack of trust.

Harry was lost. He was adrift in a vast ocean with nothing but his life. Dumbledore had the power to spare or drown him. He was not stupid to think otherwise, but he liked him. He was a comfort and balm on the wound of his Dumbledore's death. He could not find it in him to begrudge his influence over him.

He began physical exercises under Mrs. Malfoy's tutelage that sometimes left him too fatigued to speak and then Dumbledore would sit beside him, legs crossed, humming while he read. It was such an old person thing to do, so utterly mundane that it made him chuckle, but his chest filled with warmth, pleased and humbled to know that Dumbledore just enjoyed sitting with him. For no reason whatsoever.

"Your parents are alive," Dumbledore said suddenly one day.

Harry had been dozing, but though his body still remained lax, his heart clenched painfully. He opened his eyes and said nothing. He dared not voice what he was thinking.

"Do you want to see them?"

He was laying flat so the tears pooled in his ears. He still cried often these days but not as intently. He shook his head, afraid to ask if they wanted to see him or to have his fears confirmed that he was another unwanted presence in his world. He was not their son.

Sensing his emotions, Dumbledore got up. Harry turned his back to him and he slipped silently from the room. For a moment, Harry truly wanted to hate him. He wanted his life to be simple. He wanted to not need the things he did. He wanted to be stronger and better and not this crying, weak, whimpering mess.

Harry woke in the middle of the night, which was unusual as he still spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping, especially after Mrs. Malfoy finished with him. He wasn't entirely sure what woke him until he heard the curtains fluttering and spotted the silhouette in the open window.

A lifetime of battle instincts had his new muscles tense and prepared, fingers gasping for a wand. It was a phantom that dropped from the sill and floated towards him. For moment, Harry wondered if this world's Quirrell was still possessed and why oh why hadn't he asked Dumbledore anything? Stupid!

Then, the figure turned. Rather than approaching the bed, it made for the lamp. It lifted the glass and coaxed the flame to life on the oil, illuminating the room in long shadow. Harry forced himself to sit up. For a long moment, the figure only floated there, still as stone. Then, it turned, lowering its hood.

Harry's gasp was painful. He felt like his heart had leapt out of his chest and banged itself on his ribcage. The red hair, even riddled with grey, would have been known to him anywhere.

Lily Potter nee Evans stood- floated across from him. And oh God, her eyes and those were scars but her eyes and they were red-rimmed and broken with yearning but from here they were green.

"Mum," he muttered barely loud enough to be heard. The breaking of his voice caused his eyes to fill and NO! Damn it! He wasn't doing that again!

Lily Potter rushed forward, her arm stretched forward, but she seemed to read the fear on his face and misunderstand it.

"Oh, my baby. I'm so sorry. I just-"

The devastating flesh on her face twisted even more as she struggled not to cry. Harry found himself breaking instead.


He was like an infant, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that she was here. Oh God please say she wanted to be here. Say she wanted him.

Lily started to float forward, and Harry felt like the bottom of his stomach had fallen through floor.

"Are you a ghost?"

"No, no, darling. I'm just... Missing some parts."

That sheepish pronouncement seemed to break his slow-built sanity to shred and he laughed. He held his head in his hands and felt like he was losing his mind. Lily hovered uncertainly, wringing her hands and trying not to look at him, though her stare wandered frequently back to him like a magnet.

Harry had curled into a ball, his knees tucked to his chin, not even sure if he was ignoring her. Gradually, Lily came to sit on the bed. Ridiculously, he felt a little better now that she wasn't floating.

"Albus said your parents died."

For a conversation starter, it was wretched, and Harry thought dismally that he probably got his abhorrent social skills from her.

"I'm sorry," she offered quietly.

He wiped his nose on his sleeve. "It's not your fault."

She swallowed and smiled wanly. "Our son died when he was just a baby. He was killed the night Voldemort came. I always wondered... if he might have lived if we'd been there."

Her voice broke halfway through and Harry felt her pain echo within him. What the hell was he supposed to say?

"Maybe," he whispered. "Maybe he would have spent half his life thinking you didn't want him, that you'd abandoned him, and then maybe he would have spent the other half wondering if it was all his fault. That if... he just hadn't been born, you might have lived."

He felt torn open. This was worse than talking to Dumbledore.

"He should never think that," Lily whispered, hissing slightly in fervency. "I l-loved him. With all my heart. It would ruin me to think he thought he was unwanted."

Harry looked up at her. Through her distorted features, her eyes shone out. She looked... She looked...

She looked like his mother.

He didn't know who moved first, only that he was in her arms, pressing his filthy face into her bosom like a long awaited homecoming, and she held him tightly, like she'd never let go, and kissed his head.

And they stayed like that for a long time.

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

His reunion with James was less kind.

Harry had just begun venturing out from the infirmary, building up strength in his legs, and he was absurdly proud to have made it down a couple of corridors without collapsing. Of course, in his usual ineptitude, he'd forgotten about getting back and had depleted all his energy by that point. He was supposed to going walking with a partner but was fed up waiting for Albus and he knew Lily was busy.

He was feeling his way along the wall, cursing himself for a fool, when two men whom he imagined least likely in the company of each other passed through the hall. He of course recognized Mr. Malfoy's blistering shade of hair and tall stature, but his companion's features were even more damnably recognizable.

They froze like they'd been stunned, their low conversation brought to an abrupt and immediate halt. Harry, already pale, went bloodless.

When acquaintances told him he looked just like his father, he thought they were being kind and exaggerating. They were not. They had the same rapscallion hair that looked like an untrimmed azalea bush charred black, seeker bone structures, and faces carved from centuries of careful breeding all righteously spoiled by Lily Evans' green eyes.

Harry had seen his father in the Forbidden on that march towards death. He'd stood beside him and not once been wrecked by this damn similarity. That man had looked at Harry with fondness and pride, and for the time, Harry wondered if the stone weren't mad. If it hadn't conjured dreams of what he wanted his father to be, a man taller and nobler than him and frozen forever in a rictus of unsoiled youth.

This man was ravaged. Silver streaked his hair with early aging, but there was still something young and devilish in his face that was not in Lily's. And the eyes that turned on him were just as vindictively wounded as the ones that once tortured Severus Snape.

Harry felt fear clasp him. It was Dudley made a thousand times worse. It was that moment in Snape's office when the perfect image of his sire were irrevocably shattered, like the jar of cockroaches that nearly hit his head. It was a million desperate pleas in a barren cupboard being spat upon.

Harry wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

As his father (No, he's not) came marching towards him, Harry locked his shivering legs and told himself to be brave. He'd faced a thousand year old basilisk. He'd stared down dementors and Death Eaters and werewolves, he'd take this like the man he wanted to be, if not the man he was.

James Potter grabbed his shoulders hard enough to bruise. "You."

He seemed too incoherent with rage.

When he was little, Harry learned when facing an adult too enraged to speak, who had his arms around you, the best thing you could do was pretend you don't exist. Harry cast his blind gaze down, somewhere between the buttons of James' robes and kept it there. He didn't fight, and honestly, he barely had the strength to stand anyway.

Somewhere, they was a voice telling James to back down. It was not heard.

"How dare you? You think you can waltz in here, pretending like you belong? My son, MY SON!" he roared. "SHOULD BE HERE!"

Lucius Malfoy was trying to coax James' fingers off him without success. James was blind to all but the strawboy in his grip.

James shook him hard enough to rattle his teeth had they not been clenched tight enough to crack his molars.


James' furious gaze was red. Harry saw it, for a clear, brief moment as his head was snapped along his neck, and Harry knew with startling clarity that this rage hid a festering grief vaster than Harry could possibly understand. His uncle had screamed at him, had shaken him violently like this, but his eyes had always held such ferocious hatred. Every stain on his life had been caused by his blight of a nephew and wouldn't he love if it was socially acceptable to drown him. He'd seen that resolve on his uncle's face. He knew what true loathing was.

This was not.


Dumbledore's roar threatened to overtake his father's. They were a second away from ripping this man away with magic, and how would that solve anything? This man loved his son. Even if it wasn't Harry.

Feeling more inept than when he'd been waving about the Sword of Gryffindor in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry struggled to prevent the conflict arising needlessly around him. They were calling attention. He was aware of bodies and stares if too preoccupied to deal with faces.

And perhaps, if James' voice had not cracked on the last of his cry, Harry might have been flung away like so much trash and nothing would have come of this pitiful meeting but violence.

But the red-rimmed eyes swam birthing liquid that spilled over James' face despite himself, and his vicious force solidified to ten trembling fingers crushing his skin into the bones of his arms. Twisted inside out, James Potter fell to his knees. His emotions pulsed with his angry heart, trapped between fury and pain.

Harry stood at the crux of it all, feeling like he'd passed through a hurricane and came standing right in the hollow eye. Humans were not meant to withstand this. He'd tortured this man, with his presence alone. Guilt suffused him. While he'd enjoyed the attentions of Albus and Lily, this man had suffered so greatly.

His chest opened up and for the third time unleashed a deluge. He pushed down the wracking sobs that wanted to surface, refusing to diminish this man's pain with the face of his own. He let only four words breach the top.

"I... am so... sorry."

The man flinched. His head at Harry's belly was too low to see. The words continued to pour.

"I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry."

He did not cry. The tears were wound up in his words, shuddering and visceral like beating organs.

James lifted his head. Harry had half of one second before the shame forced him to turn his face. His chest was trembling and he had to close his eyes.

His grip had loosened, but when it fell away completely, it took all the Harry's wavering balance with it. He slid bonelessly to the floor, cracking his hip on the stone.

The shock made him curse more than the pain. Harry made one attempt, and one attempt only, to push himself up, but then, his overexerted body decided it had had enough and logged him off completely without his input.

Though lovers be lost, love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

Draco looked down at the withered shape and at the bruises vivid on his frail skin and tried not to feel like pounding James' head into a wall. He didn't want to be angry. He didn't want to get involved.

These were Dyre's features, even atrophied, but when those eyes opened, it wasn't Dyre's face. It was Harry's. They might as well be as different as night and day. Dyre had been a spider's silence crafted in daggers and a slip of shade. Harry was bright light. He was every sunny day with passing clouds and Draco didn't want any of it.

At least, that's what he thought.

He was never reluctant to admit that it was Dyre's fire, his intense resolve to suborn domination that first drew him to him. But it was his tenderness, his kind heart, the kept him. Dyre's love ran deep like a subterranean river, the well from which his actions fed.

Draco loved that about him. This Harry, he'd thought, how could a boy so innocent, so easily moved, feel that depth of emotion, understand that pain that came with self-sacrifice. Then, he'd watched James Potter's anger thrash against him and even Draco knew that it wasn't right. It wasn't Harry's fault that they'd failed, that Dyre was still no more than a dream.

But Harry - frail, pathetic, gold Harry - took his father's wrath, stood in its malevolence, and Draco remembered Dyre standing there (Merlin, this was even almost the exact same passage) and suffering Karkaroff's wrath, his crude possession.

And when James fell to his knees, Harry did not throw him off or plead for mercy. He stood there, under his abuser's hands, and apologized. Draco knew, by that shivering voice, that he would return this man's son if he could, even at the cost of himself.

Draco was conflicted. He could never love any other like he'd loved Dyre, but what if...

No, he cut off. That wasn't fair. Wasn't fair to either of them. And made him think that this Harry would have him anyway?

No, best not to go down that road.

But by Stars how he wanted...

Brazenly, he dared to push a stray curl back into place. Harry slept on, oblivious. His hand curled into a fist. He swept out of the infirmary, feeling spurned. Unfortunately, he knocked right into Lily, coming through the door with a bunch of sunflowers.

She spun gracefully out of the way, nimble as ever on her floatation charm. Unlike his mother and the others, there was no concern or censure on her face. Her gaze was as direct as it had always been, keeping her thoughts blessedly silent.

"Sorry," he muttered, far from the apology his mother had taught him to give, but with Lily, there was no reproach.

"No harm done. What do you think?" she asked, hefting the flowers up for inspection.

He wanted to scowl but he refrained. He wanted to squash the flowers underfoot but he didn't.

"They're lovely."

"They're obnoxious," she corrected without qualm. "I can't find any flowers I like."

Draco's question - why buy them in the first place then - must have shown clearly on his face because she shrugged.

"I don't know," she said, picking at the petals. "It's just something I do. Sometimes, it even frustrates me."

"That doesn't make any sense," he said, exasperated and wanting to leave.

"I never expected it to make sense," she told him with some amusement, her eyes knowing. "I just do it."

Lily, a master at charms, plucked a flower from the bunch and fixed it in her hair. It was vaguely obscene beside her gutted face, and she was self-aware enough to know it and do it anyway. She floated into the infirmary, leaving Draco to stand in the hallway, wondering if he hasn't just had a conversation more profound than he'd thought it was.

He shook himself and continued, robes billowing behind him like raven wings.