The room was coal-dark, with whiffs of a hollowness only brought on by complete expenditure. Twenty-one days, twelve hours and thirty-eight minutes Amadeus Alaric Dumbledore McGonagall played stopping only for food and sleep. Every thought hidden in the depths of his mind had been sounded on the air. Every regret, pain, and joy had spilled from its fragile human container. There was nothing left for him to regurgitate. Deus had no part of himself in this moment left to explore. As for his dead brother and sister-in-law, his murdered niece and nephew, nothing remained to reawaken. The past days had served as the most careful exploration, a microscopically thorough excavation of his memory. He remembered each and every treasured moment, and now there was only the present. He could do no more but live in the moment and take and every pain it carried.

Everything had been pushed to the sides of the conservatory. The floor was a wide open, naked space. Deus had never felt more at home in complete emptiness. Only he and his cello held the floor. He was so entirely devoid of retained thoughts that he almost slumped over the instrument. Indeed, the steady wooden ally supported him in equal measure. Finally, bow was placed to string, and a low, pensive note dragged across the room. Instantly, a chorus of eleven other cellos snapped back in a whispered percussion. The bass rumble was sustained by another cello, and Deus took up the soft sighs of the top notes of the singing triad that emerged.

The cello sang through harmony of the progression, each note creating a tension and a comfort with the other two. First he would sink, deeper and deeper into a swirl of memories, desperately trying to grasp at what was lost, trying to understand how things could possibly go on without his brother. But then the notes would lift, and his spirits ascended with them. He would go on with his life. He would have to continue. Teddy would never forgive him if he didn't. Even after this catastrophe, the entire foundation of his world shaken, he must still find his footing somehow. The short percussive affirmation of the cellos bolstered his resolve.

Nine times, ten full minutes, he swung round this wringing cycle. Each time, he bravely faced what the moment brought. This was how he must continue forever. He must face the questions, the pains, the ecstasy of each moment as it came. Only eight more repetitions, only eight more.

Soon this will end. Deus repeated with each percussion break. The moments must cease eventually, I will be free of this endless battle. And yet, the song continued. Five more repetitions.

And each new moment brought with it cousins. These trials were now armed with not only his grief, but the grief of his family as well. He would have to face them and their unique pain in various moments. He almost turned back, he almost resolved to stay in the conservatory forever. But the music ascended, and percussion scolded him. Three more repetitions left.

Anything after this would never be a complete recovery, Deus knew that. Already, he could feel the silent specter of his niece hanging in the shadows of the room. She seemed to move just outside his line of sight, hiding whenever he tried to focus on her. It would always be like this, but still he could continue. At least, he could continue through two more repetitions.

And someday the moments really would stop. Time had a path dictated by forces he would never understand. Even father, with all his years and wisdom, could never full uncover the essence of time. Every human was bound to wait and wait and wait. Until, like Teddy, the wait was over, and silence welcomed you as an old friend. Only one more repetition. Only one more.