8

Blaise and I stopped off at the remains of the schoolhouse after the funeral. I wore Draco's suit with a thin black tie, like he used to. Blaise wore a grey suit, without a tie. We got off our bikes, and stood over the charred remains of the Snakes' old base. It looked like a giant fire pit. Small remnants still stood. The burnt brick of the foundation poked through. Some of the metal frames of our trunks were stuck upwards out of the rubble.

"It's hard to imagine it's gone," I said. I climbed onto the ashes of the steps. Soot rubbed onto my shoes.

"We're going to need a new place to stay. Maybe we can grab one of the small houses near the Lupin for now." Blaise suggested.

"You can. I'm done."

"Nott?"

"I can't do it anymore. Not after this."

"I know it sucks Nott, but it's the nature of the game. We play high stakes. There's always risks involved. Sometimes we lose people, but we have to push forward. You are invaluable to the Snakes. We need you."

"Then, maybe it's time the Snakes ended. With Draco gone, I don't see the point. What can we hope for? Sure, the rest of the gangs are as shattered as we are, but maybe that's a signal. Maybe the stakes are too high. If we start again, all we can hope for is another fight."

Blaise shook his head. "What are you going to do? You don't know anything else. This is your home. This is what you know."

"I'm starting to think I don't know as much as I thought I did." I breathed deeply. "I think I'm going to ride out of the city. Anything would be better than this. Anything would be better than having to bury one of my friends."

"Where are you going to go?"

"I don't know. Wherever I end up."

"The Snakes will be less fun without you."

"I doubt that. I've always had an aversion to fun."

We shook hands. I walked back to my bike. Blaise watched me, standing in the ruins of the schoolhouse. The last remnants of the old Snakes. They were gone. Whatever Blaise tried to resurrect out of the rubble would not be the same. There would be no phoenix from the ashes. It was gone. It was all gone.

I revved the engine on my bike, and rode down the path. It was my last time there. On my way out of the city, I made on stop at a gas station. There, on a pay phone, I made one last call.

"Hello?" The voice on the other end spoke.

"It's me. Nott." I said.

"Nott? Fuck..." The voice said.

"You had me fooled Hermione. You did. The pieces only came together when it was too late. You seeded that doubt in Draco. You put him off tilt. This was all your plan. You hoped he'd do something crazy like that. Who wouldn't?" I said.

"Look. Nott. I'm sorry for how it went down. I did not plan for it to play out like that. I lost some friends too. You killed Ron for fucks sake," she said, shaken.

"Why? Why did you do it?"

"I had to. It was our only chance against Hogwarts. Harry was more than willing to give up everything we had for Dumbledore. With the Ravens and Bears joining up, we were never going to survive on our own. I was not going to let that happen. So I warned you, and I put doubt in Draco's ear. He was my only chance to stop it."

"Well, you succeeded."

"Yeah. But I didn't want it to end like this. Too many bodies. Too many bodies," her voice quivered over the phone. "What are you going to do? Come after me?"

"No. I'm done. I'm leaving the city. I'm not doing this anymore."

"I didn't think you were a good fit for the game. If you ever come back, I'll be waiting for you. Either for the revenge, or an answer to my request that night."

"Good-bye Hermione."

"Good-bye Nott."

I hung up the phone. I got on my red 2001 BMW F I stole from a lot. I wore one of Draco's suits. I was no longer a Snake. And I left the city. Never to return.

...

Author's Notes:

I hope you liked it.

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Thanks. BJ.