Written BEFORE Deathly Hallows was released in 2007.
You flame, I report you.
Dead Heart of a Survivor
Almost three years since that fateful day, but for those who survived that one day of inhuman carnage and barbarity, it never left them. For surviving what they had, none were unscarred, and all paid a price to survive. However, one man had paid in blood, tears and the death of his heart.
It was clear Voldemort had finally been vanquished by a seventeen-year-old wizard in an act of heroic self-sacrifice that had already become a legend throughout the wizarding world. However, in the haste of which legends are born, so many others were forgotten on the wayside. And he was sure as one of the survivors and as a former housemate of the legendary Harry Potter, that Harry would not want to be remembered like this, as if there had been no others along the way to victory.
The legend also understated the carnage that had raged during that final battle that began in Hogsmeade and then migrated to the gates of Hogwarts, before they Army of Darkness had been pushed back, to the final conflagration in what was now a mass graveyard for over two hundred students and staff who had made the ultimate sacrifice where the Quidditch pitch once stood.
However, the memory tormented him constantly and had kept him form a full night's sleep as it had done every night since the 14th of February 1997. Our friend did not regret his action that was, is, murder committed in hot blood after the battle itself was over. He saw it often, at least once a week in darkness of sleep, and the simple presence of the memory kept him cold every day that he lived by himself. The total count was a hair's breadth over eight hundred and fifty nights according to the parchment on his bedside table. He stared in to the mirror, ignoring the wizard pictures that showed life before that fateful afternoon. Those pictures showed a different life that he had lived before the death of his heart. It played out before his eyes as he stood at his dresser, staring in to the mirror…
Neville Longbottom dodged left evading the streak of green light that had been sent in his direction numerous times already before as he dropped down behind what was once the back wall of the Hogsmeade branch of Weaseley's Wizarding Wheezes. This battle had begun several hours before and considering that, most of the bodies littering the streets were those of Aurors, leaving few to fight against the near ridiculous numbers of Voldemort's Dark Army.
He stole a glance over the crumbling edge of the wall and ducked back down immediately. Yet another bolt of death energy chipped the wall, sending stone fragments like knives lancing out in all directions. Bringing the tip of his wand to bear over the edge of that wall, he cast his own spells in retaliation: "Reducto!"
The hex forced the black robed and hooded figure to drop on to the war battered ground. Neville followed it up with rapid barrage of spells that caught the Death Eater completely off guard, who received the full body bind and a stunning spell. Neville did not hesitate as he summoned the Death Eater's wand to him before snapping and throwing the fragments away from him, the eight or ninth wand thus far.
The orchestra of warfare echoed around him, but his immediate surroundings were clear. He surveyed the corpses of human and beast, the green and red blood mingling on the ground, soaking the grass. If anything grew here, it would grow red with the blood of the fallen. His lungs burned from the acrid smoke that rose from the shattered and still burning hulks of several different buildings. He inhaled deeply, ignoring the stench and ensured that no foes remained apart from three incapacitated Death Eaters. Turning, Neville broke in to a run, staying low and rejoining the battle to aid Mad Eye Moony, busy dodging the club of a Troll.
Silent casting was something he had mastered at the outset of his seventh year, but be used it to great effect, levitating half a ruined building before banishing it towards the Troll busy trying to crush the Mad-Eye Moody. The barrage of broken stone and rubble was as effective against the troll as a muggle machine gun would be against human flesh.
The troll stopped in mid swing, puzzlement crossing its gruesome features before its club fell from its suddenly limp grip. The mountain of green flesh thundered in to the ground like an avalanche, throwing up a cloud of smoke and dust the screened the two members of the Order of the Phoenix, from the Death Eater's nearby. They dived behind the broken wall of a different building, taking a moment to pause and rest, "Well met," growled Moody.
"Nice to see you too," said Neville to the battle scarred Auror. They could hear shouting close by, "There's nobody alive around here. Those Trolls came through and destroyed everything in their paths – and those Dementors came in and …" Neville suppressed the shudder, "…kissed anyone the Trolls missed," taking a deep breath he asked, "Where is everybody else?"
"Don't know about anyone else. Whoever was in my group is dead or out of action." He half spoke, half snarled.
Neville paused stupidly, "Dead?"
Mad-eye rose up, cautiously looking over the ruins out in to the clouds of billowing smoke and dust that still hung in the air but closer to the ground, "Tonks should be in St. Mungo's on her way to St Mungo's. Shaklebolt, Dawlish and the Weasely Twins, are dead" he ground out, "and we've got company."
Neville grunted, "They don't stop killing, do they?" even as he looked over the wall's edge, just able to make out the figures moving through the smoke, "How many?" he refused to give himself even a moment to grieve for those who had fallen. He would have plenty of time to grieve when this was over.
"Five," growled out Moody, "And the gloves are off!"
"Five of them?" mumbled Neville. Thus far, he had survived by double teaming, and getting the drop on his opponents, but he had yet to fight outnumbered five to two. His firm grip on his wand turned white knuckle, even as he kept his tone light and casual, "Think we can take them?"
He was resting his back against the fragment of wall, "Moody?" he turned to find nothing but an empty space, before a roar erupted close by, as Moody let loose his spells, "Avada Kedevra!"
Auror Moody has the authority to use the unforgivable curses against Death Eaters, and he had no qualms about killing them out right. Neville watched transfixed as even missing one leg, Moody deftly sidestepped the return barrage of spell fire, to send a third Death Eater lifeless to the ground.
Avada Kedevra may be the ultimate curse, but in comparison to other curses, it is actually slower moving than say the Sectumsempra or Stupefy. Mad Eye stumbled against the loose ground, and it was the opportune moment as one of the Death Eaters caught Moody with a relatively weak curse that slammed Moody in to the ground. The two remaining Death Eaters advanced as one, wands drawn, "The one legged Auror! You were less of a challenge that we had been lead to believe."
Moody stared up, fixing both magical and normal eye upon the masked pair, "Get on with it you bastards!" without a trace of fear, "Or do you not have it in you to actually kill?"
One drew back up his wand and only managed to get half the curse out before Neville struck, "Draconis Incendio!" The fireball lanced outwards, and struck its target full in the chest causing him to flail about like a human candle for several agonizing seconds, "Stupefy! Stupefy!" incapacitating both Death Eaters.
Mad Eye moony had regained his footing and looked at Neville appraisingly, "You've come along way Longbottom."
"Accio Wand!" barked Neville, causing the wand to fly to his outstretched hand from amongst the rubble. He paused and handed it back to its rightful owner, a slight smile on his face, "You do know my name."
"True," he paused as he looked down at his bleeding forearm where a curse had merely grazed him, "There are a lot more of these Death Eater nutters running around."
"Wait," said Neville as he waved his wand over the injury, "Episky," the wound closed over quickly enough, most it vanishing away having been fully healed instantly apart from a very small area that scabbed over seconds later, "How are things elsewhere?"
Moody studied his arm for a moment, "We've managed to push them back from the castle gates, and back in to the grounds. Voldemort is somewhere in there and last I saw, there were a half dozen Aurors and staff giving him a run for his money, herding him towards the Quidditch pitch."
"He's turned the pitch in to his own battleground. I got out of there to come back and search for survivors – all I've found so far is you and some other students who've already been taken to St Mungo's… I don't think any of them are going to survive the night."
"Wait a minute. You said half a dozen Aurors were herding," he paused, "Voldemort towards the pitch?"
"Well, there were closer to a dozen when they started herding him in that direction," growled Mad Eye Moony, "Harry's been killing anything he cannot recognize as a friend," Neville was sharp enough to note the hesitation in Mad Eye, even as they made their way down what was once the main road of the shattered village of Hogsmeade.
"Hermione and Ron are dead," Neville stutter stepped holding his hand out, using it to support him against the wooden beam that once held up the second floor of a now destroyed home. Pain and grief flooded through him causing him to freeze, even as he fought down those feelings, locking them away, not wanting them to boil to the surface to overwhelm him even as fear flooded through him, "Luna! I should have waited for her, instead of going ahead to Madame Puddifoots…"
"Snap out of it Neville!" barked the Auror, flexing his arm, "She's as good as you are, if not better! So I suggest we go and find her!"
Neville nodded his agreement and they set off, cutting through the burned out home, following the cacophony of battle closer towards its source, to rejoin the fray, as Moody fired another barrage of the killing curse. The shouts of men and women, spells sizzling through the air as combatants exchanged volley after volley, cries of victory and of pain and death lost in the fighting.
Having fought since the very beginning, Neville was exhausted and running on pure adrenalin, and even that could not keep him on his feet much longer. Sweat had long ceased to drench his body and his clothes, his body exhausted to the point of collapse, screamed for rest but he kept fighting to keep a promise he had every intention of honoring. Together, Neville and Mad Eye cut a swatch of death and destruction through everything that moved to intercept the duo that suddenly found themselves leading a massive counter-push that crushed whatever elements of Voldemort's Dark Army that crossed their path, until suddenly, every enemy broke away, streaming towards the Quidditch pitch. It seemed that the final showdown was about to begin. Voldemort's diminished army encircled the entire Quidditch pitch and made it clear that they would defend all approaches to it with their lives. It gave the weary few warriors of the Light a chance to rest, to regroup and reassemble their battered ranks. They could see the massed ranks of Death Eaters, though less than half of them remained, flanked by Trolls and at least two dozen Giants. What gave them pause was the presence of Dementors that floated overhead. The occasional burst of light erupted from the stadium, testament to the on going duel.
Moody stood shoulder to shoulder with Neville, as several others gathered around them. As if looking for leadership, "Where's Dumbledore?"
Neville shrugged his shoulders, as worry flooded his voice suddenly, even though his heart told him that everything was still all right "Have you seen Luna?"
"No," came the coarse reply, "But I know what we've got to do now. Where's Dumbledore?" growled Moody, "and Snape?"
Neville slipped away, leaving Moody to wait on whoever would be leading this near suicidal offensive, just to keep the pressure on Voldemort and ensure that his army would not be interfering in the duel still raging within the confines of the pitch, but he kept an ear in on the conversation he had left behind.
"Would the New Headmistress of Hogwarts suffice?"
Moody blinked, "What do you mean "new headmistress?" However, the pieces of the puzzle clicked together in his mind, turning to stare at the ranks of the enemy, growling to himself, "One more that we owe these bastards for. Where is Snape?"
"Professor Snape has been injured but he still fights with us, although the Death Eaters seem to take a personal delight in trying to kill him," replied McGonagall.
Neville drifted out of earshot, until he found whom he sought, sitting on the ground, wand still resting in her hand. Blood marred her features, her robes were ripped in some places, and there were numerous small wounds that marred her arms, and perhaps just a little distressing, a nasty slash from her left temple down the side of her face that had been healed but also scared. He sat down next to her, saying nothing as he put his arms around her and simply held her, as she leaned back against him, not saying anything, just letting herself get lost in the warmth that radiated from him, "Are you ok?"
She smiled, and hummed contentedly as she laced his hands with hers, "I'm alright," she whispered to him, "But I'm more worried about you," she gestured towards their horde of foes, "and what is about to happen…"
"I'll be close by, no matter what happens," he whispered to her, even as she turned to face him, somehow, managing to maneuver so that she was sitting in his lap, causing a quiet chuckle of laughter to burst from them both. They nestled up against each other, comfortable and safe, the upcoming firestorm of blood and death forgotten momentarily.
Although outnumbered almost two-to-one, there was no fear as a war cry erupted from the remnants of the Order of the Phoenix, the staff of Hogwarts and the few Aurors left and almost a hundred students from the four houses of Hogwarts who had emerged at the outset of the battle. Nearly all Harry's Defense Association members who had fought, bled an earned their own place in history with this battle.
There are no words to describe the outright carnage that bordered upon being cannibalistic as human and beast met yet again, this time, a set piece battle to decide the fate of a nation.
With few qualified leaders left, primarily the student body of Hogwarts, supported the light. There was no hesitation, even though so many had already been embraced by death. "Mad Eye" Moony and Headmistress McGonagall lead the charge down the center, directly towards the Dark Army that responded in kind. The two armies met in a clash of titanic proportions as the first rank, lead by McGonagall seemingly vanished under the onslaught launched at them with demonic war cries. Suddenly, the single column broke apart, forming two separate columns of students, Luna and Neville leading the left and right columns respectively, circling wide around all of Voldemort's followers
Defensive spells played across the massed ranks of students, howling their own war cry, the roaring voice joined by those already embroiled with the enemy. It was a unified voice howling for victory or death, that this was where they had chosen to make a stand, to send a clear message to Voldemort: If they won, they would rule nothing but a graveyard of those who had resisted to their dying breath.
None could see within the grounds of the Quidditch pitch itself where the true fate of a nation would be decided, but as none surrendered, and nobody stopped the fighting, that duel continued, unheeding to the chaotic firestorm of death, screams, and blood that swirled outside the Quidditch pitch.
Ten minutes on, and almost three hundred lives later, it happened with unexpected suddenness. The Death Eaters ceased, many suddenly dropping their wands as they gripped their left arm convulsively, shaking. Neville could see the eyes of the Death Eater closest to him, before he began to scream in pain, the sound louder than anything he ever heard. Tongues of flame crept out from the man's arm, as fire exploded outward rapidly consuming him, as every Death Eater turned in to a shrieking, burning candle. The screaming went on for several long minutes as every Death Eater, burned until all that remained were the burnt fragments of their masks, robes, and charred skeletons.
Seconds later, a white nova burst out of the Quidditch Pitch, crumbling the stands where they stood, striking with the force of a hammer directly to the chest, sending everyone flying from their feet as raw power echoed through the ground. The power released seemed to cause the stellar constellations to shift far above them, barely visible in the dying rays of the day's sun. As suddenly as it had begun, the light faded, and every Dark Creature not caught within the destructive outpouring of magic turned and fled, running for its life, many cut down with unbridled ferocity as human voices screamed for blood.
Neville had only one thought on his mind, as he picked himself up, and searched through the battlefield for her, she was close by, and locked in combat, he could feel it. He passed more than a few still on going battles, often involving an overwhelming number against Giant or Troll in the thrall of bloodlust and did not understand comprehend their defeat.
Suddenly, the gaunt skeletal form of Severus Snape appeared out of a plume of smoke close by, scanning through the battlefield, mostly devoid of combat, and life. Until Neville heard the unmistakable sound of a Giant's roar, followed seconds later by a sickening crunch. Ready to drop from sheer exhaustion, Neville raised his wand and ploughed forward, through the pall of smoke, ignoring the fact that Snape was several paces behind and following.
The giant was using an uprooted tree as an impromptu club, trying, and partially successful in swatting the numerous humans that fired curse and spell, trying to kill it. Neville's heart rose in his chest, as he realized that amongst those dancing just out of the reach of the club, was Luna. He charged forward, summoning rubble, trees, rocks, anything he could find to him, before banishing it directly at the Giant to just distract it long enough for him to get in to effective range. He heard Snape several paces behind fire off several spells in rapid succession, a barrage of reductor curses.
It would become a curse that Neville would hate for the rest of his life in the coming moments: He saw the spells snap past him, even as the giant shifted, slightly to the left, and swung diagonally with its club, causing Luna to dive out of the way of the strike, in to the path of those curses.
Everything went wrong in those few moments, as Luna, already in mid-dive with her back to Neville never saw, but certainly felt the impacts as they ripped through the back of her robes, cutting through flesh, cracking bone as blood flew from her wounds. She collapsed to the ground, her fingers twitching, trying to grasp her wand even as it rolled just out of reach, defenseless.
Neville stopped stunned for the fraction of a second, long enough for Snape to move forward, and cast another barrage of spells, this time, the trio of curses striking their target, shattering the giant's club in to splinters. He rushed to Luna's side, arrived moments before the now lifeless corpse of the giant struck the ground as if the fist of god had descended upon the gates of hell to lock them and never to reopen them.
He could do no more than drop to his knees beside her, casting silently, channeling every particle of energy he could in to the basic healing spell, the only one that he knew. He had never considered taking that offered course in Healing and he paid for it now, as he cast and recast the only spell he knew, chanting it hoping that it would do something, that it would do some good, and that it would somehow keep her with him
But they could do little against the extensive damage inflicted by such a curse, but Neville refused to stop trying, virtually shouting the incantation but to little avail, "Episk…" he stopped in mid spell as Luna's fingers grazed his lips, slowly, gently, lovingly, as she drew a deep trembling breath before speaking.
"Don't. You know as well as I do that there is nothing that can be done," her breathing was ragged, as she gasped for breath.
"No. You'll be fine," he said to her, even though she knew the truth of her words over his, "Healer's are on their way," his voice cracked, the pain coming through, as he did not want to consider having to live alone, without her love, her warmth to comfort him, "You'll be fine."
She looked up in to his eyes, even as she coughed once, blood spilling from between her lips, "Liar," she said it without accusation, without rancor, but with love, "You never could lie to me."
"Always loved you too much to ever get a lie past you," he whispered, "Just hold on," he pleaded.
"Don't lie to me Neville, I know its," she paused, her features contorted in a grimace as pain wracked her broken body, "it's mortal. Don't lie to yourself."
He stared in to her eyes, the eyes of the woman he loved, somehow, hoping that he could will her to live, "I love you."
She whispered the same three words to him, as he pulled her in to a hug, whispering to him quietly, "You have a whole life ahead of you, my love," she coughed again, as blood poured again from her lips, trickling down the side of her face, "There has to be a, something beyond this life."
"A blue sky, green fields, of a far green country," he whispered to her, "where time stands still and there is nothing to do but enjoy the pleasures of life," he struggled to find the words, "When my time… my turn…"
She ran a blood stained hand through his hair, giving his hair a series of blood highlights, even as her eyes stared in to his, captivating his soul as she had done countless times before, "I'll be waiting for you, my soul mate."
They exchanged their final goodbye, without words, a simple kiss, that spoke more in those final few moments that they had with one another than they could have said in the many months that they had dated, trying to give each other enough comfort, hope, love and strength to ensure that they survive the decades that would separate them.
Neville felt his heart break and shatter within him, the pieces of it seemingly arching to shred his lungs like glass through the palm of one's hand, firmly embedded and never removable. He almost wished that the wounds were real, so that he would not have to live without her, but there was no one who could grant his wish as he starred in to her eyes. They finally closed, their silver grey disappearing behind her eyelids. She exhaled gently, her soul leaving him clutching her broken lifeless form letting his tears fall, to strike her features, clearing away dust, to trail down her face, on to her marred robes, still wet with blood from her wounds. Even though she was gone, he could not let her go, kissing her a final time, her blood stained his lips a deep crimson.
He lost track of how long he spent on his knees, cradling her, even though it could not have been more than a few moments, his wand lying forgotten by his side. Her wand inches away from them both. He very nearly did not care as he heard a throat being cleared behind him, until the shadow fell over him and his beloved, the shadow of a murderer. Suddenly, Neville realized something: Revenge could be his. Here. Now. Or death, and a reunion.
It was in that moment something came apart inside him, as a rage coursed through his veins, setting every nerve, muscle and fiber afire as Neville stared up with pure hate in his eyes. Snape had never apologized to anyone for anything he had done, and he was not about to start now. He however knew that the fault of what had happened lay solely upon his skinny wraith like shoulders.
Everything that he had bottled up inside rose to the surface in those few moments as in that split second, he found something overcoming him, his mind and his body; as if suddenly under the Imperius Curse, as his wand rose, firing of single reducto curse. Snape on the hand, had expected the sudden burst of light and had moved out of the way the moment it was cast, causing the deadly curse to do nothing more than fly skyward, before it reached its maximum distance and dissipated in to nothingness.
Her blood coated his hands and stained the cherry wood of his wand, even as the blood marred his features, his eyes were cold, lifeless. Without conscious thought, he summoned her wand to his free hand, before rising, both wands raised, as his eyes narrowed, like a tiger stalking its prey, letting the rage within him grow, knowing that when it detonated, either he or his prey would not survive.
He spoke, his voice colder than the smoke off dry ice, each word carefully pronounced for Snape's benefit, every syllabus promising death, "She was everything I had, and now you have taken her from me. Yet you should be dead, with that Dark Mark burned in to your arm. But that's ok. Really Snape. I'm going to personally send you to hell to join your Death Eater friends!"
Sudden, destructive movements punctuated the last two words, as twin whips of fire erupted from both wands and snapped towards the Potion's Master. Snape was able to block both whips against the shield he conjured, the tendrils of flame wrapping around, and seemingly, burning through the glowing shield as the heat seemed to burn the air. Bloody steam rose from of Severus Snape, lending the air the scent of burning blood.
Snape was staring at the feat with near incredulity, for Neville was as adapt with Luna's wand as his own. It was not lost on Neville, "If you know anything at all, then you should know the meaning of a witch and a wizard sharing identical wands, from the case to the core, and also have lost parents, what that means for their spirits and their souls!"
Snape found himself lowering his wand, in-spite himself in disbelief, for he was familiar with that particular prophecy, for it was one he had experienced, and was bound by himself, "The prophecy of "one and only?" I thought…"
Neville unleashed yet another whip of fire, "So you do know what it means, and what you have done: I will not find another love for the rest of my life!" it was not that he had shouted the words, but the fact that they were spoken quietly, almost calmly, void of emotion.
Snape's shield flicker for an instant before he snapped it back in to place, seconds before Neville's anger and his hatred for the thing before him took hold, "Avada Kadevra!"
Snape though tired and wounded, was barely able to avoid the bolt of death as it cut through his shield, and missed by a fraction of a millimeter, so close that Snape could have sworn that it had actually touched him. Snape went on the offensive, summoning a massive barrage of rubble from what was left of the stands that once surrounded the Quidditch pitch before banishing it towards Neville.
As one of Neville's pet tricks, he found it almost humorous that Snape was attempting to use it against him. Combing the wands, he banished everything Snape had summoned back at him, followed by a gust of magical wind to speed the barrage on its way. Snape never had a chance to do more than cross his arms over his head and face before the wooden storm impacted with his body. The timbers turned to knives as they punctured him like staples through paper. He gasped once as his wand rolled from between his fingers, as blood streamed down his robes from the multiple wounds that riddled his limbs and torso.
"You know what you've done Snape. You didn't just kill my girlfriend. You took my soul mate from me, far ahead of her time. There will be no other for me in this life, and I can at least ensure that you see your former master in hell!" he did not hesitate as he cast his final spell of the battle.
Snape was fortunate in that the Reductor curse ripped directly through his chest to shred his heart in to a pulpy mess. For Snape, death was instantaneous. Neville spat upon the corpse and kicked it, so that it rested face down in the muddy ground, "I fought for something more than myself, and lost as much as anyone. But you have taken that which mattered most from me. I'm going to walk the remaining decades of my life alone," he paused, bending to retrieve Snape's wand and snapping it, "But at least you won't be around to taint those lonely years by being alive."
He tossed the fragments atop the corpse, turned, bending to carefully collect his love in his arms. He carried her, and would let none touch her, none take her from him, until he finally collapsed, slumped over his love as she lay in the Great Hall.
He suddenly found himself back in his quarters in Hogwarts Castle, staring in to the mirror. His gaze shifted slightly to the collage of pictures of Luna and him. He remembered how he had made start of term trip to Diagon Alley, between his sixth and final year, when he had bumped in to Luna. Sparks had crackled in those moments, and things just feel in to place after they shared an ice cream. Admittedly that particular "something" that had been there since the Department of Mysteries, and somehow, that had been the crucible that gave him the courage to make that impulsive suggestion, to go for ice cream.
Each of the photos on the wall showed events, places, people and things that could bring a smile to his face, and they still did. However, he had nobody to share those memories with anymore. Every single friend and person he cared about, who he had grown up with as a student of Hogwarts was not counted amongst the living any longer. He had only happy memories of his times with Luna, reflected by the numerous pictures in the collage, and there are many more in the leather bound photo album upon his bedside table.
His friends at least had found peace in death. However, he had no choice but to walk alone. The prophecy that had bound Luna and him, still bound him. The so-called myth of "True Love" or of the "one and only," meant that there are people born upon this planet who are destined to find their soul mates, but are cursed in the sense that once they find that true love, if it lost before its time, the survivor will never love another.
He reached in to the top drawer of his dresser and extracted the hand carved wooden box. He opened the lid, slowly and carefully, as if scared to disturb what lay within. Even though he knew that, he would never wield his own wand again. It was a wand of a murderer. He admitted that freely, if only to himself. He used Luna's wand now, for every spell he cast, and it served as a comforting reminder of what awaited him beyond this cold, heartless shell of life that he now lived.
His fingers traced the hand carved words on the inside of its lid, and it brought a soft smile to his lips, of the memory of how she had given it to him, that quiet evening in the common room after their last Hogsmeade trip together. Gently, he pulled aside the velvet cloth that covered his old wand, nestled in the bottom of the box. He ran his fingers down its smooth polished length as a single tear rolled down his cheek.
He stared in to the mirror, watching his reflection, staring in to his own eyes as he stared in to his own soul, knowing that his heart sill held love for her that would not change, and would only grow when they were reunited at the end of life.
He was unaware of his hands as they traced the engraved words that he had committed to memory long before, "To my one and only, who is the keeper of my heart, as I keep yours. With all my love, your soul mate, Luna."
"I love you," he whispered.
Only silence answered his whispered words, echoed by the cold within him that was the dead heart of a survivor.