For the Anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts challenge and the Valentine's Day Happens Year-Round challenge in the HPFC forum.
"where love reigns, the impossible may be attained." – Indian proverb
The voice echoes through the wall and Daphne cannot help but shift closer to Theo, her hair uncharacteristically ruffled and messy and her skin even paler than usual.
"Give me Harry Potter, and none shall be harmed. Give me Harry Potter, and the school shall remain untouched. Give me Harry Potter, and you will be rewarded. You have until midnight," Voldemort's voice mocks with high amusement, the thrum of his voice trembling in Daphne's breastbone and travelling down to play dodgeball in her stomach.
"I'm scared, Theo," she murmurs, turning her face up so her breath ghosts over his ear and only he can hear her as the hall erupts into screams and suddenly there is a great surge as everyone around them leaps to their feet.
"It's okay," he promises her, his hands sliding round to rest on her hips, the shake in his voice belying his worry. "It's okay."
"Merlin, Pansy is such an idiot," Daphne complains, her hair shining in the soft light from the torches lining the walls, and Theo kisses the top of her head, a smile curving his lips.
"I know, love."
"I don't want to run away," she complains as the Slytherins begin their silent filing from the Hall, their feet shuffling in the dead silence. Theo pulls his jumper over his head and forces it over hers, despite her protests – a thin silk nightgown is hardly suitable for wandering the halls of Hogwarts at this time of night.
Theo laughs at the face she pulls as they hurry along the corridors at the back of the large group, and then his voice turns more serious. "We don't have a choice, Daph. We have to stick with the others – you know how close we're walking to the edge with our parents. One wrong move and I'll be engaged to Pansy Parkinson and you to Draco Malfoy."
Daphne doesn't even bother trying to repress the shudder, just feels a shiver of disgust run all the way from her toes to the top of her head.
"It just feels … wrong. All those children fighting Death Eaters. We should help, Theo."
"To what end, Daphne? Fight with the Death Eaters? Because you know we can't fight for Hogwarts. We'd be dead in three minutes flat."
They patiently halt at the back of the line stretching out of the Room of Requirement, the other Slytherins pushing and jostling and the odd girl crying with fear. Their voices are low now – nobody can hear of this conversation. If – no, when – Voldemort wins, they will be cast aside from society and probably killed.
"I know how hard it is, Daph," Theo says, capturing her hands in his and pulling her close so that he can feel her heart beating against his and remember that somehow, even in the middle of this mess, they still have each other and this, right here, is all that matters. "We'll be okay. We'll get out of harm's way and we'll keep our heads down and your parents will let me have your hand."
"You make it all sound so possible," Daphne laughs, her eyes glittering with promises in the torchlight, and Theo grins and puts his hands around her waist to put her in the tunnel that will lead them to safety, pulling himself up after her.
She reaches back and slips her hand into his, young Hufflepuffs beginning the trek after them.
A boy who can't be more than twelve trips and falls, he is sprinting so desperately, and suddenly he is crying and Daphne gasps as she sees that his leg is bent backwards at an angle it shouldn't be.
She lets go of Theo's hand and kneels beside him, pushing her messy hair behind her ear as she examines the break.
"I can fix it," she promises the boy who has gone white with pain and fear, a circle of his friends gathered round. "I'll just – "
"We don't have time!" Theo protests, crouching down next to her, a tide of students pushing around their small group on the floor, no teachers in sight. Daphne awards him one long, furious glare.
"So we're just going to abandon him here?"
"The spell to fix a break that bad will take forever," Theo reasons with an air of desperation, but she is giving him those big blue eyes that have him wrapped around her little finger and he knows he is powerless to resist. With a sigh he lunges forward and swings the boy up onto his back, resuming the march down the tunnel with swift, long strides.
Daphne, knowing that he will be fumingly angry with her, hangs back a little, in the centre of the circle of eleven and twelve-year-old boys who have been reduced to incoherent children in the face of their terror. With a sigh, she does something very un-Daphne-like and bends down to a little brown-haired one and flicks a tear off his cheek with her thumb.
"Come on, you," she says, taking the hand of the one with brown hair and feeling another little hand slip into her spare one. "Let's get out of here."
They trail along after her, like ducklings in the wake of their mother, biting back tears and sniffling occasionally. Older students continue to overtake them, and Daphne is distracted from Theo's tense, broad shoulders, stiff with anger, as she tries to keep up the spirits of the children with her.
"So what's your name?" she asks the one she first spoke to, smiling down at him, aware she must look a sight with her long legs bare up to her thighs, Theo's thick green jumper pulled down over her white nightdress, her blonde hair a ragged mess and forced optimism staining her cheeks red.
"John," he mutters, sniffing mightily. "Will my dad be alright?"
"Is your dad an auror?" she asks, noting that Theo has slowed down a little, the injured boy passed out against his shoulder.
"Yes," John says, his voice a little stronger now. "He came to fight."
"Then I'm sure he'll be just fine. Aurors are kind of good at magic, y'know," she teases gently, rewarded with his soft little smile. Daphne feels the boys behind her press closer as the first explosion rends the air, and she can't help the course of fear that floods her.
"Theo!" she calls, suddenly desperately, achingly unable to be away from him. He drops back to her side immediately, reassuring in his solidity and strength and just general presence.
"We'll be okay, 'Phnee," he promises her gently, using his special little nickname for her, and she beams gratefully at him as the boys pick up the pace and soon they are spilling out into the dark pub, a bearded man screeching as healers pull the little boy off Theo and begin herding the others outside.
"Bye, Daphne," John says quietly, being led away by a healer, and Daphne and Theo file outside until they are simply left to their own devices in the sleepy village, the night air dark with whispers of violence and horror, rent by the occasional explosion from the school.
"Merlin, children are exhausting," Daphne complains as they wander up a deserted street. Her hand slips into Theo's and she sighs mightily. "Thank you for staying with me. I'm sorry for not thinking first."
"No," he replies with a smile, squeezing her hand. "I'm glad you did. It's hard to remember to be unselfish – I guess it isn't just an unfounded stereotype for Slytherins."
"I don't really understand it, though," she complains as they seat themselves under a sprawling oak tree, facing up to the castle. It is silhouetted against the night sky, lit up with flashes of spells and explosions and fires and Daphne feels strangely disconnected from it all. "I don't get why I suddenly have this overwhelming infuriating urge to be good and go help and be unselfish. It sucks: I'll ruin my nightdress."
"I have a theory about that," Theo announces, leaning back against the tree trunk and pulling her in to rest against his chest, his arms wrapping securely around her waist. "I think that it's because we've found each other that we're getting better at thinking about others. I mean, I'm always thinking about you and I'm always worrying about how you're feeling or whether you're happy or sad or bored and sometimes – "
"Theo?" she interrupts, twisting round to look at him with a mischievous sparkle in her eyes, made indigo in the darkness.
"I love you too," she grins, and then crushes her lips to his and clambers into his lap with uncharacteristic inelegance and presses her body against his, feeling his heart beat and overflowing with adoration. He groans at her admission, suddenly overwhelmingly full of devotion to this beautiful girl who is so very important to him.
The battle rages on as they slip to the ground, connected, and as the sky is rent with Voldemort's terrible, final end Daphne raises glazed eyes to the sky and clutches at Theo's messy hair and the tears fall sparkling down her cheeks.
"What is it, love?" he asks, taking her hands and rubbing them in an attempt to regain her attention.
"How many people have died tonight, Theo?" she asks quietly, like a little girl again, and he sighs and crushes her against his chest.
"Many, many more than should have died. But, Daph, we're alive – and isn't that enough?"
"I suppose," she replies slowly, her fingertips tracing his cheekbones and lips. "But … I … I don't know …"
He knows he should be feeling sombre and terrified but in truth he feels nothing but the horrifying thought that his Daphne is upset so he smiles and kisses her sweetly.
"Well, at least we've discovered one good thing tonight," he jokes, his hand tangling in her messy hair, cupping her cheek with one big hand.
"That you love me?" she replies, the mischievous little stars returning to her eyes as he breathes a sigh of relief.
"That too," he admits, suddenly flipping them so he is hovering over her, his hair falling into his eyes. "But we also found out that, impossibly, you're good with children. And someday I really hope you get to prove that with our children."
She laughs and hugs him fiercely around the neck, suddenly vibrantly happy and feeling so very grateful to be alive amongst all this death and darkness and despair.
A/N: So … not at all happy with the ending. But I want to get it posted so … tell me what you thought!
Please don't favourite without reviewing, it drives me round the bend.