Disclaimer: For the last darn time, it's not mine.
The Unspeakable Files: Godspell
An HP Fanfic
Chapter 20: Life
Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Interrogation Room One
Hermione stood behind the one-way glass of the interrogation room, her eyes fixed firmly on the scene unfolding before her. Beneath one of her elbows, she had tucked a file: all the research she'd been able to do on this Godspell Luna had mentioned. References to it were obscure, perhaps moreso than any one topic she'd had to look into before, but the name itself had given her what she needed to find the information. It wasn't the last piece of the puzzle, but the picture was clear enough now, and she'd briefed Harry and Ron on what they needed to know to ask the right questions.
Beside her, Severus shifted, and her eyes slid to him for a moment. He wore an impassive expression, but his eyes were hard, flinty chips of obsidian, fixed unerringly on their suspect. She turned her gaze back forward, but reached out with her free hand, grasping the sleeve of his robe in a gentle grip. Neither of them said anything.
From a side door, Harry entered the room, joining Ron and the suspect, who wasn't really a suspect so much as a known criminal. But there were procedures for these things, and they had to be observed. They had not come this far, sacrificed this much, for some barrister to have all they'd worked for dismissed on a technicality. Every detail of the paperwork was perfect, and though none of them had wanted to wait this long to interrogate their prisoner, they had.
But Harry carried a dose of Veritaserum, its use approved by no lesser authority than the Minister of Magic himself, and the man, seemingly resigned to his fate, took it willingly enough, smacking his lips in some distaste at the flavor, she assumed.
"What's your name?" Ron asked first, tipping his quill up so that it would take dictation, then letting go, leaving it suspended centimeters above the page.
The man, who had a thin, rodent-like face and a distinct bald patch, answered immediately. "Henri DeSalle."
The rote record questions included the details of his present occupation and place of residence, none of which were very interesting, but had to be sorted through before the important things could be addressed. It was Harry who started in on those.
"You're familiar with a man named Pierre Géroux?"
Henri nodded. "He was a colleague. A stupid, impatient boy, but useful in his own way."
"Our organization required a screen, a distraction, but also one that could provide us a medium for contact with the public. Pierre had a predilection for violence, and sadism, and a talent for magic, including old spells. He could be both, and so the Master made it so." Henri shrugged his shoulders, adjusting in his seat somewhat uncomfortably. Beads of sweat were beginning to form along his brow; he seemed to be trying to fight the Veritaserum. Not that he had a damn chance. Severus had brewed the dose himself.
"Who's this Master?" Ron probed. Luna had mentioned this, too, Hermione recalled.
"I don't know." Henri shook his head. "None of us knew. Our orders were received anonymously."
Ron scowled. "Why obey orders from a man you don't know?"
Henri pursed his lips, resisting the compulsion to speak the truth, but he was able to hold it in for only a second. "It didn't matter. He knew us. Things he never should have known, no one could have known. Things I'd told no one, not even my own family. He's not a man, he's a god."
She heard Severus scoff softly, and a quick glance revealed that his eyes had narrowed. Hermione grimaced. That tracked with what they knew, she supposed. Multiple members of the investigation team had noted the arrogance involved in this whole series of events—it wasn't unbelievable that someone capable of engineering it all would think himself above the rest of humanity.
"Your organization had a mole in the Ministry. Was it Raphael Walsh?" It was the obvious guess—Walsh had mysteriously disappeared several days ago, in the chaos surrounding Luna's kidnapping, but he'd left no trace of himself behind.
Henri nodded. "Yes."
"And he stole Draco Malfoy's hair so Pierre could use Polyjuice potion?"
Henri appeared to think that over. "Why use him for the Polyjuice? I'm not sure, exactly. I believe Pierre was jealous of him, and wanted to cast suspicion upon him. Theoretically, he could have used any of the hair in storage here, and it would have served our purposes just as well. The point was to cause strife within the Ministry." The Veritaserum was clearly very strong, because Henri hadn't looked like he wanted to say any of that, and his face was paling from strain.
"Wasn't just that, though, was it?" Ron broke in this time. "You hexed him yourself, after setting up an ambush for him. That took a lot of work."
The prisoner bobbed his head. "It did. The Master chose him for that, though. Pierre wanted to be the one, but… when the Master commands, we do as bid."
"Right, he called that the Godspell, right? Explain that," Harry replied.
Henri's hands clenched together atop the table, and he visibly blanched, almost choking on his own tongue, heaving forward with a lurch. "The harbinger," he gasped out, face set into an expression of deep loathing. "He was chosen to be the harbinger of the end. And the herald of the beginning."
"You're going to have to explain better than that," Ron said, his nose wrinkling in clear distaste. Hermione, though, thought she already understood, at least a little.
"Godspell for gods' magic," Henri muttered. "Wizards are incomplete. The spell… completes them. Makes them more. The rest is… I don't know. Don't remember."
Harry grimaced. "We'll be needing the names of the rest of your organization."
Henri barked a short laugh. "I don't know. The only people I met were the ones with me when I was captured. There were other cells, I know, but the Master kept us from each other. I don't know anything about them." He straightened as well as he could while bound, and fixed his interrogators with beady blue eyes.
"Still… it's unavoidable, you know. The first domino has fallen, the rest will follow. All that is required now is for the natural forces in this world to work as they always have." He smiled thinly. "The Master knows. He understands. He sees, and everything he sees comes to pass."
St. Mungo's Hospital, Private Wing
Cyril Thompson was one of the foremost experts in magical trauma care in the world. He knew this without arrogance, though of course he could be forgiven a bit of pride, he thought.
And for all that, never in his life had he heard of, much less seen, something quite like this.
When the others had brought him Mister Malfoy and Miss Lovegood, they had informed him that the young Unspeakable had been hit with a killing curse. Of course, that was patently impossible, because, as Cyril had plainly informed them, he was still very much alive.
He had, in fact, been alive, until they got him settled in his room in the private wing of St. Mungo's, and tried to move the unconscious Miss Lovegood to another room. Not a second after she'd been taken from the area, Draco's pulse had stopped right beneath Cyril's fingers. He'd attempted to resuscitate the younger man, running through the typical procedures for such a thing, but it had been the quick thinking of Severus Snape that really saved him.
Draco's godfather had immediately halted the levitating stretcher moving Miss Lovegood, and guided it back into the room, at which point, with a great shudder and a lurch, Mister Malfoy's heart had resumed beating.
At the time, it had made no sense whatsoever, and Severus had not tried to explain, simply commanding that they be kept in the same room until one or both of them awoke. It was three days later that Miss Lovegood finally stirred. Noting the change in her vitals, Thompson entered the room carefully, aware that she could be in a bad state, considering the trauma she had endured immediately before collapse.
He'd managed to repair her arm the rest of the way, and healed the dozens of cuts she bore from the scabbed pink things they'd been before to lines of pale white, but they were resistant to every spell he knew to remove scarification. It was disconcerting, and he suspected that if he found it so, she would have it so much the worse. Patients had woken from injuries less severe with scars less obvious and suffered from terrible anxious breakdowns at finding their once-familiar bodies unknown and alien to them, carved with reminders of whatever trauma they had endured. He understood the pain of it as well as anyone could, who had not suffered it himself.
He stood a foot or so from her bed, his clipboard clutched too tightly in his hands, watching as her eyes slowly opened. Luna blinked several times, her pupils dilating properly to accommodate the increased light, he noted with customary clinical detachment.
"Miss Lovegood?" His voice was soft, in an attempt not to startle her. She tilted her head slightly where she lay, her eyes meeting his, and he relaxed only slightly when he detected no panic there. That didn't mean it would never appear, only that she was, for the moment, sanguine enough. "How do you feel?"
"Oh, quite terrible," she replied, a tiny smile turning her mouth up at one corner. It faded quickly. "How are the others?"
"Most everyone had only minor injuries," he explained. As one healer to another, he decided not to spare the details, knowing they would likely be more comfort than vague platitudes to someone with the medical mindset. "I kept Miss Granger for a day to make sure her burns were fully healed, but she will suffer no lasting effects from them. Aurors Potter and Weasley were seen for a number of lacerations and impacts, and Auror Potter had a broken finger, but they were seen to within a few hours. Mister Snape suffered only a few minor abrasions, which he assured me he could deal with using potions on his own time." Cyril pursed his lips. Understandably, Snape had been much more concerned about his godson, but still…
"That sounds like him," Miss Lovegood murmured. "And Draco?"
"Ah…" Cyril hesitated, unsure how to explain the situation, but she seemed almost to know already, and her head turned to where Mister Malfoy lay, in the bed next to her. "Miss Lovegood, don't—"
But she ignored him, using her hands to push herself upright, slowly bringing her legs around to the side of the bed. She paused for a moment when her eyes came to rest on her own hands, the backs of which were crisscrossed in little white lines, and he braced himself for any number of adverse reactions, but she only continued to rise, bringing her toes down to the linoleum floor, wincing slightly, but letting her heels fall behind.
"Miss Lovegood, I really must insist—"
"He won't heal if I'm this far away," she replied, an uncharacteristic firmness precluding any further arguments on his part. Cyril had no idea what she was talking about, but since her proximity had saved his life once already and she was a trained mediwitch, he quelled his protestations and instead made himself useful, helping her over to Mister Malfoy's bedside.
To his surprise, she bypassed the chair entirely, and sat herself on the edge of the narrow mattress. "Uh—" he started, but she fixed him with a look, and he swallowed his questions, reduced to watching her fold herself onto the hospital bed beside Mister Malfoy, maneuvering one of his arms so as to tuck herself into his side. It certainly didn't look like any medical procedure he'd ever seen, but when she breathed a sigh, almost too soft to hear, he decided it wasn't that important anyway.
"Just hit the rune on the bedside table if you need anything," he said at last, for lack of anything else to contribute, and she nodded.
"Thank you, Cyril."
It was as polite as anything he'd ever heard her say, but it was also obviously a dismissal, and he accepted that, closing the door behind him when he left. He still had to check on Miss Parkinson, after all.
Ministry of Magic, Department of Mysteries, Severus Snape's Office
Severus folded the missive sharply at its original creases, leaving it on his desk for the moment and beginning to gather his spare belongings. He'd just received word that Miss Lovegood had regained consciousness; it was imperative that he be allowed to assess her condition, and that of his godson, as soon as possible.
He had not explained what occurred to Healer Thompson because he barely understood it himself. At a guess, he believed Miss Lovegood had kept Draco from dying as a result of the killing curse by entwining their magic to such a degree that his very life had become parasitic on hers—she became what muggles might have referred to as a life-support system. Her magic kept his heart beating, and breath moving in and out of his lungs, as well as providing the necessary support for brain activity.
Nothing else explained the evidence he had: the fact that too much proximity between them had nearly killed Draco, and the fact that, to the othersight in the moment he'd returned her to the room, they appeared to be more one entity than two, the thick green ropes of his godson's magic threaded through with delicate strands of violet. But it was impossible to say what was really going on—nothing like this had ever happened before, to his knowledge. He wasn't sure if it was conscious, reversible, both, or neither. He could not say if whatever it was would be enough to wake Draco, or simply enough to keep his body functioning, bereft of true life.
He put it down to his preoccupation with such questions that he did not notice Hermione until she cleared her throat, hand raised to knock on his doorframe. The door itself stood ajar, and he paused in his motions, stilling and meeting her eyes. He was unsure why she was present. She, too, held parchment in her hands, though from the angle she held it at, she could see that it bore the seal of the Department of Mysteries, rather than St. Mungo's.
"Severus? Do you have a moment?" He studied her face, noting the way her mouth was downturned and her brows drawn together, the way she seemed to be straining against her own efforts to remain still, and exhaled softly through his nose.
"What is it?"
She half-smiled, her eyes warming slightly, and her posture eased. "Um, actually, it's not anything bad, I don't think. I just, ah… wanted to talk to you about it before I made any decisions."
Seeing as how that was an elaboration rather than an answer, he raised one eyebrow, allowing her to infer what he meant by it. He had no doubt she would understand, and like clockwork, she flushed slightly, her cheeks pinking a few shades. "Right, that wasn't what you asked. Um. I've been offered a job with the Department of Mysteries. In the Research and Development division." The last two sentences ran together as she expelled them in a rush, biting her lip once they were out.
He blinked, uncomprehending of the issue this caused. "You have my congratulations," he said, his tone measured. "You are more than qualified for such a posting, should you desire to pursue it." He expected that she would; research was clearly her strong suit, and he doubted she would make much distinction between doing that at the library and doing it at the Ministry. If anything, Unspeakables had access to more material than even scholars at international centers of learning such as Alexandria.
"I…" she hesitated. "I want to take it."
Severus felt his second eyebrow join the first, allowing his incredulity to be expressed in broad strokes. "So accept the offer. Unless there is some problem? Is the compensation inadequate?"
She shook her head. "N-no. It's, um. It's you, Severus."
Abruptly, he schooled his features back into neutrality. Snape had never been one to jump to unwarranted conclusions, not really. Only at his worst had he ever done so, and he didn't intend to begin again now. He knew she enjoyed working with him. He knew quite a bit more than that, in fact. He also knew that eventually, she would move past whatever absurd infatuation she believed herself to have for him, and realize her affections were best spent elsewhere. But he did not take her for the sort who would believe she needed to remove herself from his academic company as well as the personal sort when that happened.
"I don't want… do I… annoy you?" She sounded so unsure of herself, so tentative, that he felt his lip beginning to curl in distaste, but suppressed it.
"I am sure you remember your days as a student well enough to know what my annoyance looks like," he informed her coolly. "Tell me, does that in any way resemble our more recent collaboration?"
Her bottom lip began to pale where she was biting it. He wished she wouldn't. "No," she said at last. "But… we were different then. This was different." She gestured between them with her hand, and he finally grasped her meaning.
For a moment, heavy silence settled over the room, but then Severus shook his head slowly. "It has," he agreed softly. "And we have. But you must not compromise your career and your happiness for fear of causing someone else discomfort. There will be enough people trying to suppress you, to keep you from advancing; there is no need to invent more obstacles. Do not concern yourself with me."
She huffed something like a laugh, shaking her head. "I can't not concern myself with you, Severus. That's the point."
He pursed his lips. "Yes, well… in any case, your presence here will be no imposition to me, Hermione. On the contrary, I might find it… pleasant." It was all he could give.
He almost felt guilty when she received it with a bright smile, as though it had been more than the paltry offering it was. "All right, then."
St. Mungo's Hospital, Private Wing
She felt it, when he woke.
Long before the physical stirring, in fact. Luna felt Draco's magic slowly awakening again in his system, where before it had fallen into a strange dormancy that she didn't quite understand. She hadn't known, exactly, what she was doing when she merged their magic in the first place, only intuited at some instinctive level that she could save him by doing it. That had been enough for her.
She pulled her own magic back a little, beginning to unwind them into two separate entities again, when a pained groan stopped her. She stilled the retreat, electing to leave things as they were for a while, at least until he could help. The arm that he'd banded around her waist at some point tightened, pulling her flush against his side, and she reveled in the little flutter this produced in her stomach. She wouldn't be here if she didn't have to be, of course—he hadn't consented to this arrangement, after all, but it was easier to connect their magic and work through the connection when they were in close spatial proximity.
She believed he would understand.
Eyes still closed, he tipped his head, nudging his nose into her neck, as if he were only resistant to waking, as he had been every morning she'd seen him attempt to drag himself out of bed. Suppressing a giggle, she touched his shoulder, extricating the necessary hand from where it was wedged between them. He was on his back, so to fit, she'd had to turn on her side.
"Draco," she whispered, tapping him gently.
He grumbled something and held her closer, but she was insistent. If he moved her any more, she'd end up draped over his chest like a human blanket, and she didn't think he'd be too pleased by such a development. "Draco, please let me go."
"What…?" his voice was still a groggy drawl, but that got him to open his eyes, at least, and he blinked languidly down at her a few times before her presence seemed to properly register. The look on his face was strange—she could not place it. His brows knitted together, his mouth slightly downturned, but he made no attempt to push her away, and he didn't scold her for whatever reason he thought had caused their present closeness. Instead, he seemed almost to be… studying her, as though she were something he didn't quite understand.
"Luna," he said at last, his voice clearer, but neutral. "What are you doing in my bed?" He didn't let go of her.
She smiled dreamily. "Didn't you know, Draco? This is the best angle from which to heal friends who saved your life."
His eyes narrowed, but he was still uncharacteristically silent, and her smile slowly faded. He wasn't insisting that she go, and truly she had no desire to leave, so she didn't, instead settling herself back down, letting her head rest on his chest. She could hear the beat of his heart, strong and steady, and let the sound lull her, a soft sigh passing her lips.
It didn't take long for his thumb to begin stroking absently at the small of her back, but she didn't call attention to it. After three days in St. Mungo's, both of them smelled like hospital sanitization spells, but they were clean, and there was still a hint of his usual woodsy scent underneath it, so she didn't mind.
He sounded unsure, which she supposed she could understand, considering that he was obviously not dead now.
"Just for a moment," she murmured, staring at where her hand rested beside her face. His skin was warm, even beneath the white hospital robes. Luna wasn't sure she should tell him how she'd felt in that moment. It seemed like too much to think about right now.
"How… how am I alive?"
She closed her eyes, her fingers curling in the linen fabric. "Old magic."
The words hung there for a long time, the silence an almost sacred thing. They'd get around to the technical explanation some other time. It didn't matter just now.
"Are you… are you all right?" She opened her eyes and tilted her head to see his face, but he was looking at her forearm, exposed by the way it rested against him. Luna swallowed.
"No," she admitted. "But I will be."
He tensed underneath her. "Luna—"
She pushed herself up so she could see him properly, leaving her palm braced against his heart, while her other hand on the mattress bore most of her weight. "I hope you aren't about to apologize to me, Draco Malfoy," she said. "What happened was not your fault. I volunteered to be captured, you know that. And that man… he didn't have to hurt me. That was his choice alone, and the fault for it is his." She paused, letting her expression soften.
"Besides," she continued, "I just proved my favorite hypothesis."
He arched a brow. "The existence of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack?"
She felt a little something inside herself melt, and shook her head. "No, silly. That Draco Abraxas Malfoy can be just as brave, and just as good, as anyone else." She leaned down, touching her forehead to his, smiling when their eyelashes brushed, heedless of the fact that his hand had fisted in her hospital robe.
"I'm going to kiss you now," she informed him mildly, "unless you don't want—"
Her warning was cut off when his free hand slid up to her nape, gently pulling her down the last few inches and touching her lips to his. Luna didn't know a great deal about kissing—she supposed it was something most people learned in school, but no one wanted to kiss the class freak, so she'd simply never acquired much by way of experience.
But for all that, she was quite sure not every kiss felt like this one did, like some little dam in her heart had burst, flooding her with an alien sensation she could only compare to nervousness, but without the worry. It was a slow thing, a brush of the lips, and then another, one that lingered, and she discovered that his mouth tasted sweeter than she would have thought. He was careful, she could tell, every touch purposefully soft, the hand at the back of her neck carding into her hair, and he made a dissatisfied sound when she pulled back.
"Our friends are down the hallway," she said, "I don't think you want them to find us like this."
He grumbled something incomprehensible that sounded vaguely profane, but released her, letting her pull herself into a seated position and raise his bed so that he was inclined upwards. She twined her hand with his, though, and he allowed it, squeezing hers briefly before they both turned at the sound of the door opening. Luna wore a smile as Harry, Ron, Severus, Hermione, Healer Thompson, and Draco's parents all filed into the room, and a glance sideways at him confirmed that, though he did not smile himself, he was relaxed, free of tension, and content.
Her smile inched just a fraction wider, and she turned back to their guests.
"Guess who just woke up?"
A/N: Well, that's the end.
Four years later, I've finally finished this fic. I suppose if nothing else, I've stuck to my word in that respect, which I'm glad about.
It was written when I'd only just started thinking seriously about writing, in fits and starts, with gaps in it a year long in places, and it has more flaws than I could properly name, both in terms of plot and style. But… for all that, I learned a lot while writing it, and I don't completely hate the end product, which is rare for me.
Obviously, the story itself isn't over, in the sense that there are still some lingering questions and plot points, and of course the relationships here have a lot more growing to do. I hope to write those stories someday, but for now, I'll be taking a break from this AU of mine and writing in another fandom. If anyone reads or watches Bleach (the manga/anime), that's where I'll be for the foreseeable future.
I wanted to thank those of you who joined me for all or part of this four-year journey into storytelling and self-improvement. I've had the privilege of speaking to some of you, through reviews or PMs or whatever, and I wanted to let you know how awesome that was for me. One of the very best things about fanfiction and transformative work, I think, is the ability to meet other people who like the same things you do, which is not always easy in "real life."
So, you know, if anyone ever has the urge to send me a message for whatever reason, I'd love to hear from you.
As always, as ever, reviews desired, but not required.