A/N: This is the final chapter, I believe. I'm not sure how happy you'll be with me about the ending, but I hope you'll agree with me that it could not really have ended any other way. I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed, even when it wasn't praise – like many writers I do appreciate constructive criticism, if it's constructive and not just random abuse. Anyway, it's been a long time coming, I know, but it's done now.
By the way, some of the other chapters have been revised and replaced. Only stylistic revisions, you understand – nothing drastic in the plot. Just places where there wasn't enough explanation, where things happened too fast, or where I used a phrase I didn't like, or something. You see, when I decided to finish the story, I had to read the original chapters to work out exactly what was happening, and you know what it's like when you read something you wrote a long time ago … you cringe. If I had the time, I would probably read everything I've written every day and correct it until I was satisfied, but unfortunately I don't have time. Life's hard.
Anyway, enough from me. On with the story.
Part One – The remembrance and the hymn
Harry wandered about Severus' old rooms for a long time, simply breathing. It had taken him a while to separate the different smells of the rooms. Now, though, he had, and they echoed in different ears with horrifying poignancy which all pointed to one conclusion – Severus was dead.
Firstly, and possibly most noticeable to someone who did not know Severus was the smell of books. They lined the walls, some on shelves but many in piles. There were books all around the desk, scattered and heaped in corners, decaying but holding the reams of knowledge that Severus had exposed himself to.
Moving towards the bed, there was the musky hot scent of sex, testament to what Voldemort had made Severus do under the influence of the stone. Harry shuddered when he considered how carefully Voldemort had constructed Severus' lust for Harry in his servant's mind. Little had he known it would lead so definitely to something stronger, something that could threaten him. He had meant to kill Harry, and now he had Severus instead.
Finally there was the smell of darkness – fragments of obsidian embedded in the walls from when Harry had smashed the stone, and they still covered the floor. Severus had obviously not thought to clear them away. They emanated an ominous scent, the smell of blood and sweat and loathing, and self-denial, and it was this that penetrated Harry most strongly. He breathed it in for perhaps ten minutes, remembering, loving in anguish, not allowing himself to cry.
Severus was gone, Severus was dead. He had killed himself to save Harry, and he had killed himself to save his beloved school. Everything he had done was unavoidably directed at Harry. Harry was safe, and that was what Severus had wanted.
As much as Harry tried to wriggle away from it, the memory of Severus clung to everything in the room, every chair, every dark painting, every single page of every book. These had been Severus' rooms, and they were singing to him.
Harry slumped on the floor, listening as the wordless, incomprehensible singing grew louder, and louder, and finally leapt into a crescendo so hopeless that it could not be controlled. It grew onwards, pouring itself into Harry's head, until he could not bear it any more. He jumped up and cried: 'Stop!'
There was silence, and then a faint murmur, as if the rooms were asking why they should no longer voice their love for their master.
'Severus is dead,' Harry said quietly. 'He is not returning to these rooms. Please, just be quiet.'
And then the room stilled, and Harry continued to breathe, remembering and not hearing them whisper.
*****Part Two – The Voice
He did not know how long he slept, but when he woke it was dark. Very dark, and he could see nothing. The blackness hung about him, smothering him, blinding and deafening him. Harry looked about him quickly, his breathing coming faster, his muscles beginning to shake. He was alone in the darkness, and there was no Severus.
Then a light appeared. A glowing, faint light fell on Harry and swept into his eyes so he could see.
That voice! That wonderful, quiet, beautiful voice.
'Severus?' he cried. 'Is that you?'
'Yes, Harry, it's me.'
A terrible, all-consuming fiery hope sprung into him and he spun, looking all about him. 'Where are you?'
Severus' voice grew gentler. 'You know where I am, Harry. Look outside.'
Harry turned again towards the light, and realised he was looking through Severus's window into the night sky. He began to walk, edging his feet across the floor at first, but then beginning to hurry, desperate above all things to reach Severus.
Outside, he saw nothing but the moon.
'Severus? Where are you? Are you in the garden?'
'Harry,' the voice said patiently, 'I am in the world of death. I am dead. You know that is where I am.'
Harry sank his head into his arms on the windowsill. 'I know,' he whispered.
The moon began to rise in the sky, lifting high above Hogwarts. 'Follow me up, Harry, and talk to me for a while. Go up.'
'Yes!' Harry cried, and he ran towards the door, knowing that unless he could find some stairs he would despair. He ran with the wind and the flowing air at his feet, not noticing himself tiring, just wanting Severus.
He followed the moon up, stopping at every window, and asking: 'Is this high enough?' But every time, Severus replied: 'No, Harry, not yet.'
When he reached the astronomy tower, he paused. It was the highest place in the school. If that was not high enough, how could he possibly talk to Severus if the moon was rising? What would he have to do? How would he be able to bear the pain if he could not go higher and talk to his lover?
But after a time of struggling, Harry's love for Severus gave him hope, and so he wrenched open the door and bounded up the steps.
*****Part Three: The Climb and the Trick
Severus murmured to him as he climbed: 'That's it, Harry, higher … soon you'll be close to me … higher … keep going, please … please, Harry …'
And just as Harry felt he could not go on, for his body was so weary with trauma and grief, Severus said: 'I love you, Harry,' and he sprung with renewed energy, up and up. Higher.
At the top, he settled himself at the huge window to gaze earnestly into the moon's face.
'Severus,' he breathed, trying to fight back tears. 'Severus.'
The moon was bright, so very bright, and so enticing, and Harry stretched out his arms to it, as he had the day before when he had wanted Severus, and Severus had gone, he had gone, and been killed …
'Harry, you must listen to me.' Severus' voice was serious, but it still struck horrifying chords in Harry, chords that he had never known existed, chords of love and desire and passion and grief. All mingled, all together, and the taste of it was bitter, bitter.
Tears started in Harry's eyes. 'I'm listening, Severus,' he answered in a voice low with fear.
The moon glowed brighter still. 'Harry,' it said, 'come to me. You are not high enough yet. Come higher, and come to me. Together we can be happy … come, Harry – come to me.'
A delicious coolness and softness began to steal over Harry at those words. He was safe … he was in nearly in Severus' grasp, and soon he would be blissfully happy with his lover. All he had to do was to climb to the moon, and Severus would be waiting for him, glowing white and bright and high …
He lifted himself easily onto the thick stone windowsill. 'Shall I climb to you from here?' he asked.
'Yes, Harry,' the moon answered. 'Climb to me, Harry, and we can be happy here as we were never allowed to be on earth; we can make love as we never had the chance to … I am your Severus, Harry. I'm waiting … come to me, please.'
The tears began to run down Harry's cheeks, but they were tears of sheer joy. 'I'm coming, Severus …'
The moon began to fade, leaving, fading away, moving further higher into the distance of the sky.
'Wait for me, Severus,' Harry whispered. 'I love you …'
He left the windowsill, and began to climb. His face was pale in the white misty glow, and was lit with pure happiness.
'Goodbye, Harry,' said the moon.
There was a blinding flash of green light. Harry was dead before he hit the ground.THE END
Oh … I loved Severus, too …
(Oh, by the way, for all you clever-clogs who are saying: 'But Voldemort couldn't kill Harry, because of Severus' sacrifice!' – just think about the possibilities, would you?)
Thank you so much, everyone who has followed this story. I would like to thank especially … probably my friends in the *real* world, who read this story in its early stages. (And yes, some of them did squirm in disgust.) But the ones who didn't, Cat, Loz, Anna, Rachel and Tara, deserve the highest thanks. I love you all.
I'm rather sad to leave this story. Major angst. But if I ramble, it'll kind of spoil it, huh?