"I made such a mistake, Severus." The old man wheezed, trapped in his hospital bed. "I should have listened, shouldn't have trusted the stipend to satisfy the Dursley male." Severus tried not to react to the knowledge that Dumbledore had very well known what was going on.

"Perhaps you should have." Severus tried to keep his voice neutral.

"So many mistakes, Severus." The old man took a great, heaving breath, and exploded. Severus' shield kept him from getting covered in Dumbledore-goop.

Many miles away, Severus knew, another old, powerful, thing was exploding.

"Um, Severus?" Ronald's voice came hesitantly from across the room.

"Yes, Ronald?" Severus turned slightly, grimacing at the man's goo-covered form.

"Was it supposed to do that?" His eyes would have been wide if the lashes weren't heavy with slime.

"No, I believe the formula was off." Severus shrugged. "My mistake."