It all began that very evening. Or perhaps ended would be a better way of putting things. It all ended that night. When darkness fell all things came to a close.
She had returned to the grounds and yet something in her didn't want to go back to the cabin. It was too small, too warm and comfortable and normal for her such a time. Ana could feel the darkness coming almost as surely as she could see the blackened sky. So instead she patrolled the grounds, her wand out in plain sight. There were no students outside. Even the most daring of rule breakers didn't have the heart to be out on such a night. Once she had ensured the perimeter was secured, twice, at a loss as to what else she could possibly do she began the long trudge back to the castle.
Lights filled every window, hundreds of candles lit; guiding her home. For a moment she stopped, looking up at Hogwarts, wondering how long the peace she had found at the old school would last. It was then that she saw the red flash in the Astronomy Tower. She took in a sharp breath, the unseasonal cold chafing her lungs as she did so, her eyes sharpening as she could see there; barely illuminated in the darkness, a figure moving.
Ana began to run.
She ran as fast as she could; her feet pounding against the grass, until she reached the point at which she knew she would be able to dissemble her form. Falling into a pool of black mist some few hundred yards from the castle walls she raced upwards, higher and higher, her entire being screaming as she forced herself beyond endurance. She felt her strength wane well before the top; finally running out on a much lower level of the tower, and slipped through an arrow-slit window in order to reform her body. As soon as she was once again corporeal she staggered against the wall; her fingers digging into unyielding stone as she dragged in deep breaths. Looking up she could see, through the slats of the long, winding staircase, a figure three flights above her. Harry; she was sure it was Harry, the dark hair and glint of glasses gave her suspicion enough proof to be sure. However he hadn't noticed her; he was looking up as well; up above him to the very top of the tower where voices were sounding.
"Severus…" she heard Dumbledore say; his tone soft and yet strong all at once.
"No…" she breathed; her mind patching together the pieces even as she found herself frozen in place as she waited for the thing which was going to happen to come to pass. How could Dumbledore do this? How could he ask such a thing..?
"…please." Albus finished. There was such calmness in his voice, such peace…
Her father's voice shook her from her stupor; his words immediately followed by a green flash so bright her vision was momentarily blinded by it.
"No…" she blurted out, "No, no, NO!" she flung herself towards the window she had just darted through just in time to see Albus' body flash past the place she stood; within a few short seconds it was lost in the inky blackness; heading down, down, down…
She didn't even realise she had dissembled her body until she was propelling upwards, previous exhaustion forgotten, slipping through cracks and gaps, passing Harry by so quickly the boy staggered – obviously still in shock as to what he had witnessed, only to come to full form in the centre of the highest level of the Astronomy Tower. She only saw the most fleeting glimpse of Snape, Draco Malfoy before him, before she was inundated by curses.
It took little effort to erect a shield, causing everything headed towards her to ricochet back towards the caster. She threw curse after curse as Death Eaters dodged and deflected her every attempt to stop them; racing off down the stairs of the tower. She caught one, set him spinning into a wall where he crumpled and moved no more, but the others were gone quickly – one moment running around trying very hard to kill her and the next leaving her alone in the tower.
For a moment Ana considered going straight after them; their footsteps could still be heard below, and then her mind caught up with her actions. The Order needed to be informed. She raced over to the edge of the tower and thrust her wand forwards; sending a spray of silvery light streaming through the inky air. It quickly took form, into the shape of a great shaggy dog, and pelted off into the blackness. It would reach Grimmauld Place within minutes. Her eyes drifted downwards; to where she knew Albus' body lay. Minutes may be too late.
A thundering crash threw her from whatever strange reverie she had fallen into. Now was no time for shock. She needed to focus. She needed to forget Albus was dead, that her father had killed him and that Draco Malfoy had let the Death Eaters into the castle even though she'd known there was the potential that he would…she needed to protect Hogwarts now. Protect the students…
Her eyes immediately found the level below her on the tower, searching the decking. Her heart sank as she realised that Harry was gone.
"Harry!" she yelled, running for the staircase and clattering down, two at a time, as she went. She knew flight was out of the question now; her body was already aching from the overuse. Her legs were almost unbearably sore as she ran, down and down, in swirling circles time and time again, until her head began to swim. Finally she reached the bottom of the staircase and fled down the passageways, running past babbling portraits and yelling at sleepy eyed children to get back to their common rooms. They obviously didn't know what danger had broken the defences of their beloved school. Hogwarts was no longer safe.
Ana reached the front doors in record time. There were two Aurors slumped there; she didn't know them and didn't have time to check if they were dead or not. A wordless spell caused the doors to swing open effortlessly; rocking on their aged hinges through the force of her casting. She paused once outside, desperately searching for any movement in the darkness. It was then that she heard the yell, so faint she probably would not have heard if she wasn't listening for it;
"SNAPE! HE TRUSTED YOU!"
"Oh blessed Merlin…" she breathed.
It was then that she saw a pillar of flames appear in the not so far off distance. She frowned, just for a moment, before a fear gripped her like no other as she realised just where the blazing column was coming from.
"HAGRID!" she screamed, running full pelt across the open grounds as she headed towards where she knew both the Death Eaters and Harry had to be. She stumbled more than once, hurriedly regaining her balance as she ran, her breath coming so hard it was painful, chest heaving as she clutched her wand tightly in her hand. She was almost there now, she could feel the heat coming from the cabin; even from such a distance the blazing building was warming the night for yards each way. Silhouetted in the darkness she could see a group of people moving away from the cabin – towards the gates, whilst another tall, robed figure and a smaller one in jeans and a hooded top remained. She saw the smaller throw a spell at the larger only for it to be deflected instantly.
"FIGHT BACK YOU COWARD! FIGHT BACK!"
A sudden jet of light came from somewhere to Snape's right – Bellatrix Lestrange. Ana hadn't seen the mad witch amongst the flame and her own latent panic. She saw Bellatrix's spell hit Harry, sending him flying backwards. Don't let him be dead, she thought as she increased her speed, please don't let him be dead…
"NO!" Snape roared, causing Bellatrix to take a step back, "He belongs to the Dark Lord."
Bellatrix hesitated before seemingly deciding there was more fun to be had elsewhere and dancing off into the night, singing some children's rhyme as she went in her terrifying, high pitched voice. Ana finally came within wand distance of Snape and Harry just as Bellatrix retreated from the light and disappeared entirely. Ana threw a shield up for Harry, running the last few steps forward and placing her body between his and Snape's.
She saw Severus' surprise at her being there. She heaved in deep breaths as she watched him levelly; her eyes boring into his in the flickering flames of what had been her sometime home. She clenched and unclenched her jaw as she wondered just what she could say – what words would tell Snape the things she needed to say without telling Harry she understood? For there could be but one reason why Harry Potter thought Albus had been murdered; because it was necessary for him to think so.
"What have you done?" the words fell from her before she had a chance to hold them back. To Harry, scrambling up from the ground behind her now but blocked from both her and Snape by her invisible shield, she knew it would sound as though she were accusing him. But it was not an accusation and the look in Snape's eyes said he knew that as well as she did. There was silence, except for the crackling flames, as she waited.
"What are you doing?" she heard Harry yell dimly behind her, "He killed Dumbledore! HE KILLED DUMBLEDORE!"
Ana's hand was shaking as she raised her wand. She would have to duel him; she had no other choice. If Harry saw her refusing to fight Snape her loyalty would be in question. If Snape refused to try and kill her then his would also be at risk…which was why Snape was now raising his own wand. She had never thought it would come to this; fighting her own father for doing nothing more than putting an old friend…
A flash of white light cut through her thoughts. She felt a great pressure on her right side and took a step back with a surprised grunt. Her eyes were still on Snape. He looked as surprised as she did. She suddenly felt cold, very cold, except for her side where everything felt very hot…her eyes fell to her stomach and a hand touched the right third. When she looked down at the hand the flames highlighted the dark red blood which coated it.
Her eyes went back up to Snape as she felt her legs give way. She took another step backwards and fell to her knees, her head beginning to swim. She could hear Bellatrix Lestrange laughing, chanting and laughing, and in the corner of her eye Ana could see the demented figure dancing around close by. She vaguely heard her father yell something; she could hear anger in his voice. Lestrange had gotten her – the mad bitch had never left after she'd attacked Harry. She waited in the darkness. And now she'd killed the daughter of Severus Snape. And the best part was she would never even know just whom she had murdered.
Ana's right hand pressed hard on the wound as her left propped her up. She was leaning on her left side heavily now, a cold sweat had broken out on her brow, and she fixed Snape's eyes with hers. He hesitated, looking at her with something inscrutable in his expression, and for a moment it looked as though he were going to take a step forwards, a step towards her…
She shook her head. The motion made her dizziness worse, robbed her of breath she couldn't afford to waste, as she sunk further back into the grass.
"Go," she mouthed, unable to make a sound even if she wanted to.
His expression slackened momentarily before he nodded, the same strong action he had given her when they had stood together that very afternoon and waited for the storm to come. Then he was gone, his robes swirling around him as he swept away into the black night. She never had told him she loved him. Now she never would. But she had given him what he had once before given her; she would die for him. That was at least some cold comfort.
The flames from Hagrid's cabin were burning hot and yet Ana had never felt so cold. She vaguely hoped that Hagrid was alright before the thought danced away again. She could hear, very faintly, Harry's voice; screaming, shouting out her name. She breathed the words which would release the shielding spell she had placed on him. Within seconds he was at her side.
"Ana?" he asked, his voice tremulous.
His head wavered before her eyes as he bent over her prone form. She forced herself to give him a half smile. Now the numbness which had accompanied her wound was fading; perhaps it had been shock, and the pain was coming in driving waves. She tensed and then immediately undid the act. Tensing her body would probably only make things worse.
"Harry…" she breathed, "Harry…get help."
She saw him nod before muttering something she didn't quite hear and disappearing from view. She allowed her head to fall back so that all she could see were the flames from the cabin in the corner of her eye and the stars above. At some point since Dumbledore had died the sky had cleared. The darkness was still there but through it she could see hundreds of thousands of tiny pinpricks of light; some of them so bright they broke through even the most persistent of gloom. Her mouth tasted coppery and she coughed as she felt liquid in her throat. Her time was running out.
She heard the voice carrying out across the empty grounds, breaking through the haze which was threatening to swallow her up. She knew that voice; she would always know that voice…
A body flung itself into view, thudding into the grass at her side. His hair was like a wild black halo around his face, his skin was pale and those grey eyes shone like beacons.
"Sirius…" she whispered, smiling painfully as she struggled to speak.
"Oh shit, oh shit…Ana…Harry said you were hurt…I got your Patronus, I got here as soon as I could but…oh holy mother of Merlin…"
His eyes went down to where her hand, now almost completely red with her own blood, was pressed against her side. She was exerting less pressure than ever on the injury now; her grip was loosening as her strength left her.
"Here," he murmured, disappearing for a moment before she felt herself being shifted as strong hand pulled her up. She let out a whimper of pain at the movement but then there was warmth at her back as she felt his body beneath hers. Her head fell back to rest on his leg and she could now see his face above her own without having to shift at all. His hot hand covered her freezing one, pressing down on the wound for her, adding his strength to hers.
"The bloody healer was supposed to be coming, Remus sent a Patronus…" he turned his head back to look over his shoulder for a moment before looking back down at her. On her part her eyes never left his face; trying to fix every tiny feature into her memory so that she would never forget. She could feel tears gathering in her eyes as the world fazed in and out of focus.
"I'm glad…" she whispered haltingly, knowing that now was her last chance to say the things she needed to say to him, "…glad you…glad it's you here..." she coughed again, shifting with another whimper at the pain the movement brought, "…at the end."
"Don't talk like that you raging pessimist," he said in a voice which was entirely too bright, "The healer will be here in a minute and you'll be all fixed up. Harry said Bellatrix got you and she's mad as a box of Chocolate Frogs so I doubt there's all that much damage…"
His voice trailed off and she knew that they were both aware of the lie.
"Shh…" she whispered, using the hand which wasn't being pressed to her side to reach up slowly and shakily to touch his face for a moment, "Don't…don't be sad. It's alright."
"No it isn't, it fucking isn't," he replied as her hand fell back none too gently to her side. He caught it at the last moment and held it tightly in his own. She was glad. She didn't have the energy to keep it upright; no matter how much she wanted to, and to be able to have the comfort of holding his hand was something at least.
"You can't die Ana, you can't. I can't lose you as well – you hear?" he suddenly barked loudly, causing her to start and hiss in pain as the sudden movement jolted at her side, "YOU CAN'T HAVE HER!"
"Don't be…so bloody melo…melodramatic." she muttered with a breathless laugh, "It's just a long….just a long sleep."
She paused and looked up, feeling the tears which had threatened spilling from the corners of her eyes and flowing down into her hair. The pain was getting less again now and although she knew that wasn't good she was grateful. Everything numb was better than everything hurting.
"…glad I got to see…" she stopped as she coughed wetly again, "…to see you…one…one last…time."
Her words were beginning to slur as her vision dimmed. He was shaking, she was pretty sure it was him and not her, and the feeling of a raindrop falling on her face made her try and concentrate on the sky. Yet the stars were clear as ever above them. It wasn't raining. Another droplet landed, this one on her cupid's bow, and it ran down to her lips. It tasted salty. Like…tears.
"Don't cry…" she rasped; her throat was really dry, despite all the blood she knew was clogging up her throat – another cough relieved her for a moment but made everything go alarmingly dark for a moment, "…look at…at the stars. Aren'…aren' they…beau'iful?"
Her eyes fluttered shut for a moment and she forced them open again as she saw his silhouetted form look up. She couldn't make out his eyes anymore. Everything was blurred and she had no more strength for talking. So she looked up with him, searching the sky, looking out for the one thing her failing mind could always see…
Sirius tightened his grip on her side. He wouldn't let her die. He couldn't. She was special, she was more special than anyone he had known – not since James had he felt so attached to anyone. Of course there was Remus and Harry and he loved them both but Ana Harte…there was something about her that was brighter than anything. He squeezed the hand that was enfolded in his own. It was deathly cold. No, he told himself, don't think that. She's strong, she'll be fine.
He felt her blood seeping through his fingers as he looked up at the stars. A yell from behind dragged his eyes away, back to Earth, and he turned his head to see a group of figures charging towards them. Help had come; at last.
"You see, Ana?" he asked gently, "You see they're here – it's all…"
He looked down to see she was no longer looking at him. She was no longer looking at anything at all. Her beautiful dark eyes were unseeing; focused on some distant point that he couldn't see. His heart clenched so painfully he thought it had burst as Remus crashed to his knees beside him.
"Ana! Sirius is…oh no…oh please no…"
Sirius pulled her lifeless form closer to him as he followed her eye line. She had been looking at the stars, looking with him. He lifted his eyes and then, blaring through the darkness, he saw the last thing she had seen. He let out a shaky breath, tears falling freely and unashamedly now, as he felt Remus put a hand on his shoulder; a hollow gesture of comfort.
She had been looking at him all along; or his namesake at least. Her gaze was fixed on the brightest star in the night sky. Her gaze was fixed on Sirius.
Before you murder me the next part of the story will be told here; .net/s/7414829/1/And_all_the_Devils_are_Here
Thanks so much for all your support - you guys are awesome! Hope you love part two of the story :)