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The Fires Within by Violet Gryfindor
Chapter 29 : Twenty-Five: Against All Odds
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 11

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He had been away for over two weeks before she began to wonder. Jealousy takes its hold upon everyone, and more upon those in love, thus leading Emilia into a world of green-lined walls and burning fires as her curiosity took advantage of all her weaknesses. She glanced into mirrors only to catch a glimpse of red hair and green eyes staring back. There were whispers behind the doors – only draughts in the aging cottage – and she could have sworn that, with a flutter of owl’s wings, she would discover a letter to her husband from... from....

She cried a lot more than she used to. A proper Healer would have told her that her emotions were all part of her condition, but innocently ignorant of everything to do with that sort of thing. The potions lab grew dusty with disuse; the books on the shelves stood untouched upon their shelves. She spent most of her time by the window, staring out onto the cheerless dales. There was no life out there, and no life within her. Once or twice she thought of going to London, but fear kept her inside. What if someone was to see her? What if she was to fall ill away from home?

Her thoughts would take her along this path until she would sit down in her chair once again and wonder when Severus would return. He never sent word when he was away, but now each passing day she wished that he did. Even just a line or two to let her know how he was, when he was returning, what was going out in the war. She did not regret her decision to remain apart from the fighting, keep herself neutral in a world where everyone was forced to choose a side. But now what was there for her? She was neither good nor evil, yet both flowed through her veins. She felt love and hate, desire and repulsion. She wanted someone to talk to, but there was no one there. No one had been for many years. When was the last time she had been honest? Certainly not to Lily, from whom she now had to hide everything. Perhaps that last time with Grimm. Yes, he had always known when she was lying. He would only smile, as though the truth was written upon her face.

Perhaps she should visit him. Surely that would not hurt. A way to leave this place, at least for a short while, and to see him again. It was better than the worrying, than the nightmares of Severus being with Lily, however silly and irrational they may have been. It was strange because she did not fear his death, only his disloyalty. Even she could recognise her selfishness and that made her more scared than anything else. It was her greed, her desire, that had led her to this point – stranded in a time not her own, now pregnant and without anything, anyone. Her very mind was slipping away and she could not prevent it from falling into madness, her father’s madness. If only....

She looked out the window once again, watching the sun’s rays reflect off the dead grasses that waved in the wind. It was hypnotic to observe, with the ever-changing colours and shades that made the death of winter appear as though it still lived.

If only she’d been Grimm’s daughter instead.

~ * * * ~


Lily’s face appeared in the fire of Dumbledore’s office, her eyes strained and her mouth lined with concern. Dumbledore not was not entirely pleased to see her, not at this moment. A shadow moved by the door, fading into darkness.

“There has to be something that can be done,” she continued. “You know who I speak of.”

It was like she knew that Dumbledore was not alone in his office, but then again, it was the second month of the winter term, and there were always students about in unexpected places.

“What of ... this person’s plight bothers you, Lily?” Dumbledore adjusted his spectacles, his face unreadable. The fire cast strange light upon the creases of his face.

Lily frowned, eyes starting towards the shadows, but through the fire, she saw nothing.

“They’ve taken ill. Rather unavoidably.”

Dumbledore leaned closer to the flames. “In which way?”

Sparks arose from the fire as she shook her head. “I won’t say here. Not safe. When can I next see you, Headmaster?”

Although Dumbledore raised an eyebrow, he nodded. “I understand, of course. I will be in the usual place tonight. Take care, Lily.”

“Yes, sir.” The sadness in her eyes prevented any measure of a smile. “Until then.”

The flames fell back into place, her face vanishing into the logs.

Dumbledore rose from the hearth and moved towards his desk. When he spoke, he did not look at the shadow.

“I am afraid that matters are becoming more serious by the day, Severus.”

There was a snort, then a pale face appeared. “That is the way of things, Headmaster.”

“You have your instructions, then.”


“Good luck, Severus. You perhaps need it more than anyone else.”

The snort became a laugh, harsh and biting. “Except one.”

Dumbledore stared into the fire, his face softening.

“When was the–“

The door snapped shut before he could complete his question.

Now that he was alone, he became an old man. Ancient, even. Each bone, every muscle, seemed to decay, leaving the old wizard to collapse into his chair and put his head in his hands. The downward motion of the war was pulling everyone, whether good or evil, with it. He had no power to stop it, not yet, at least. There was something missing, his secret weapon. But from where? How would it appear? In which form? Too many things were affecting each movement, each decision being made by either side. An outward power was taking control of the war, stealing it away from the hands of Lord Voldemort, and from his own.

Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last time, Albus Dumbledore felt a failure. He did not have to have Lily tell him what illness Emilia suffered from. He only had to look at Lily before he saw that she, soon, would suffer the same. But what weight did these events have upon the wider picture? These children-to-be might not be anything other than what they would, but they could also be much more. Two children, so opposite one another in parentage, family, and future... but what if there was another? He must not forget the other couples who fought side-by-side throughout the war. Oh Merlin, it was getting to be too much. The war would destroy everything, including the lives of all within the Order.

He looked towards the door and its surrounding shadows. Just how much had Severus understood of the conversation? Had it been too transparent? Would he know, or have guessed, of whom they had spoken? Did he even know of his child?

The answer to that final question could have changed everything.

There was still time before his meeting with Lily Potter. Dumbledore strode over to the grand fireplace, took one handful of Floo Powder, and was gone. Not even the portraits on the wall could tell just where he had vanished off to, but that was no great surprise for them. They were used to being left in the dark, perhaps they actually enjoyed it.

The Hog’s Head was empty when he arrived a few hours later, as it usually was at that time of the day. Too late for the students, who’d all be abed by now, and too early for the scum of the Wizarding World who made this place their haunt. The goat in the corner bleated a welcome to the old Headmaster, who only shook his head in return. To think that Aberforth had kept the blasted creature all these years was preposterous, but even worse was the portrait above the pub’s mantlepiece. Dumbledore refused to glance at it. Now was not the time for sentimental memories, particularly those with a darker side.

She was already there, of course, sitting in the corner with her regular draught of butterbeer – she never drank anything else, it seemed. Her hair was severely tied back from her face, revealing more of her mood than she would have guessed. She’d only taken the first sip of drink when he took the chair opposite hers. Her glass clinked upon the table when she opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off.

“You need not inform me of that, Lily. I am already aware of Emma’s physical condition.”

A small, strained laugh erupted from her lips. “Of course.” Her voice cut off; she wiped something from her eye. “But it’s her mind I’m more worried about. The child is Snape’s problem.” A certain coldness invaded her voice at the use of his name.

Dumbledore took a sip of his Firewhiskey. “Her mind?”

“She admitted to seeing things that weren’t there.” Lily took a ragged breath. Sometime that day, she had spent a considerable time in tears. “I suspect that it’s worse than she’ll admit, being like she is.” After a pause, Lily added, “Emma told me about what had happened to her. About the time... change.”

“And you blame the change for her problems?”

Lily shook her head with vehemence. “No! I mean, not completely. It’s making it worse for her, like something’s trying to control her.”

Dumbledore coughed on his drink, splattering liquid onto his beard. He sat silent, staring at the wall to the right of Lily’s head. She shifted in her seat, not daring to interfere. The expression in his eyes made her fear just how far things had progressed. What in Merlin’s name was happening with Emma? Was there any hope....?

“Did she speak of any particular situations?” Dumbledore’s voice sliced through the air.

The electric shock of his intensity made Lily shrink backwards.

“Only of dreams. Strange things she’d seen in dreams, like....” She trailed off, trying to recall the little that Emilia had told of the dreams that haunted her nights. “She saw murdered people.”

“People she knew?”

“She wouldn’t say.”

Dumbledore looked away and the electricity passed. “Did she say any more about these dreams?”

“No, but they had an affect upon her. Scared her half to death, if not further.” Lily wrapped her arms around herself, though the room was burning hot from the fires. “Her face when she told me.... Merlin, I won’t forget what it was like.”

“Then you’d need not tell me.” Dumbledore shoved his empty glass aside. “Riddle’s power is growing at a higher rate than I expected. It is probably though her father that his route into Emma’s mind has been so smooth.”

Lily paled. “What do you mean, Headmaster?”

Not meeting her eyes, he replied, “Legilimency. Riddle is using her mind for a purpose I cannot comprehend. At this time, she is his greatest weapon.”

There was still a lack of understanding in Lily’s expression, but it was soon overcome with pity. “Poor Emma. All this time, she didn’t want to be involved, and now.... Surely there’s something–”

With a sigh, Dumbledore rose from his chair. “I am afraid not, Lily. Time must work itself out this time. We are powerless in its wake.” He stared down at her, pensive. “All the pity you can feel cannot help her, Lily. Emma can only help herself.”

~ * * * ~

She did not like the reflection of herself in the mirror. Nothing about her seemed to look right. There was always a spot in the wrong place, or her skin was discoloured, or there was a curve that should have been concave instead of convex. Since when had she gained so much weight? It seemed impossible to look as she did on her non-existent diet. She stared down at the bump of her abdomen. Well, her diet only felt non-existent because she threw it up every morning, otherwise she was eating more than her usual, forcing her to send to the village for supplies at ever-decreasing intervals. The girl from the pub never blinked an eye at Emilia’s increasing size, as though it were completely natural. Which, it was, Emilia supposed, as much as she didn’t like it. She still had no idea how she would deliver the news to Severus. Would he storm out in a rage? Burst into tears of sorrow? happiness? Say nothing at all? None of the options were very exciting.

Just as she was about to turn away from the mirror, she heard a voice, no more than the quietest or whispers. It was more like the breathing of wind through a crack in the door than a human speaking out to her, but her rattled mind heard it for what it was.

“Do not look away.”

Emilia froze in place, eyes yearning to look – just he smallest glance – but the warning from Dumbledore stood strong within her mind. She must not look again.

“I can help you, child.”

She had heard the voice somewhere before, though it was difficult to tell because of its volume. Perhaps it was something else within her mind that was slipping.

“It only takes one look.”

Like the poor musician of ancient legend who looked back once and lost everything, Emilia’s curiosity won out once again and she looked back at the mirror, risking everything, including her life. The reflection of her own face was there, but something was behind it. How could something be behind a mirror upon a wall? How could there be a face just beyond her own reflection?

“Ah, so you see me now?”

She nodded, once, unable to tear her eyes from the face. It was long and thin, almost skeletal, full of hard lines and sharp corners.

“Good. Now you must listen. And listen closely.”

The voice was so soft, so gentle, like the voice of a lover or like the serpent in the tree.

“You have been betrayed, Emilia Nero.”

Her name! How would the face have known her name, the name she was born with? She stepped back from the mirror, her face blanching.

“Wh–who are y–you?” She sounded so weak, so pitiful.

The smile which appeared upon the face contained rather more malice than was comforting.

“You know me, child.”

The voice had changed again, growing more familiar with each syllable. Oh Merlin, no. It couldn’t be.... No, of course not. He wasn’t here, he was far away.

She was shivering beneath her light robes. “You’re not him.”

“Do you doubt me, then?”

She wanted to. Oh yes, she had to doubt the voice and the face. It was so close to what was real, but something was missing. There was a heaviness to the voice, a strangeness to the face, that made her doubt. It was like all the jealousy in her heart had warped his form, had changed the ideal that had formed over those three long years of mourning. Was his memory to become her downfall?

“Of course you do.” There was laughter in the voice now. “A wise decision, child.”

Emilia placed her arms across her chest, cupping hands over elbows. It afforded some protection.

“What do you want?” She watched how her question hardened the eyes of the face. It seemed to grow clearer with every moment.

“I have been looking for you a long, long time.”

Ominous did not begin to describe that statement.

“Oh, well... I see....” She backed away a step.

“You must go back to your own time.”

Emilia took in a breath and held it, her eyes widening. The face drew back, slinking into the shadows just beyond the mirror.

“Without you, they will fail... and die.”

She moved closer, almost pressing against the glass. “Who will? Who will die?” Her breath came in heavy gasps. There were so many of them in danger, too many to name.

“You have seen some of what has passed, but there is more, always more....” The voice was fading.

Now her fingernails scraped upon the surface of the mirror as though she could reach the face through the glass. “You’ve been giving me the dreams! I must know more!” Something ate away at her mind, filling her with the hunger of curiosity, the need for knowledge of all things past, present, and future.

She could have sworn that she heard laughter. “Yes, you must and you will, child.”

The next breath she released was a sigh of relief. “Yes. Thank you.”

“But you must do something for me in return.”

The face became clearer once more, revealing skin so pale that it seemed translucent. The eyes were of such a strange colour... green one moment, then turning... red? No, it was not Grimm, as she had feared. His eyes had been very different, so much softer, also intense in another way, not with such ambition as those of the face. And now it was asking her for something in return. It had lured her in, but was there a way out? Or was she already too far gone? Its eyes met hers again, and the doubt fled further into the corners of her mind.

“Whatever you wish, my lord.”

She was not as easy to crack as her father, but the challenge was exciting. Something that he had not truly felt in a long while. The memory of that damned Grimm still lingered in her mind, a small problem that would be quickly remedied. His silent laughter filled the air around him, yet she would not hear it. She would hear nothing now other than the sound of his voice. Yes, he would have her, she and that child. He needed both of them, the would suit his plans most perfectly. His laughter increased in volume, echoing against the walls and the cracked mirror he gazed upon. The old man could do nothing against him, the greatest wizard of all. Lord Voldemort. No longer the insignificant half-blooded orphan. And this girl would be the secret weapon, the thing that would control the pawns, both black and white. Snape. The Potter girl. Dumbledore. Sirius Black. They would all fall to him, powerless and begging for mercy.

He turned his attention back to the girl, whose eyes blankly stared upon the mirror.

“You will follow my instructions exactly,” he said, his voice as soft and seductive as before. “And you will have your life restored to you in the fullest.”

He heard her gasp. “The fullest?” Hope dripped from the words.

“Oh yes. Would I ever lie to you, child?”

~ * * * ~

Snape’s fingers fumbled with the awkwardly-sized key to the cottage. Swearing under his breath, he pulled out his wand and the door blew open, slamming against the outer wall. She would likely complain of the dent, if she was still there at all. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The cursed Dark Lord must have guessed at his double dealings and attacked the one thing he supposed closest to Snape. If only the Dark Lord knew... but it was still a blow. He should not have been away for so long.

It could, however, all be unnecessary worry. He did not yet know if she was missing.

He charged through one room at a time until he came to the open door of the bedroom. She was there by the window, eyes blank and hand upon her abdomen. He saw the swell of it against her fingers and halted in mid-step.

“So you finally bothered to return,” she said, the old bitterness returned. Old to her, if not to him.

He took a step into the room, eyes roving every corner before focussing upon her. “Emilia–”

“I suppose that you’ve been with her.”


“I’m not a fool, Severus. Not as big a one as you think me.”

She had not moved, and neither had he. It was a dreadful tableau, all dialogue without action.

“Lily’s prettier than me, I know. Smarter too. But look at me, Severus....” She turned, now, her face still pale, too pale. “You can’t be going after her anymore.”

He could see the Dark Lord’s touch upon her brow. There was nothing in her eyes, not the passion she ought to have shown with such an accusation, not any of the hurt, the tears, that she would have flung at him in frustration and pain. The words were empty, weapons to pierce his heart without the emotion that would have made them real.

“You can’t even say anything in your defence,” she continued, oblivious to his thoughtful expression as she was oblivious to everything. “Surprising, but pathetic all the same.”

He could hear the Dark Lord’s laughter, far in the distance. This was his punishment.

“Stop it.” Snape’s whisper was almost lost upon the draughts from the window.

Her left eye twitched. “What will I do once you’ve run off to her again? What of your child, Severus?”

Snape set his mouth in a firm line and strode forward. She blinked, twice, but remained still. He placed his hand on her stomach, beside hers. She was cold, her hand like ice.

“Your hand is cold.”

It was an echo from a distant time, one that both of them had lived, so long before. The bedroom fell away as the memory of the chilled dungeon walls rose around them, as the woman once again became the girl with round face and mousy hair, while the man facing her became the pasty-faced boy.

She had looked up at him, the blush rising her in cheeks, only to reply that the cold did not bother her. This time, however, she shivered, her hand brushing against his, both resting upon her abdomen. The memory was far away, but it was enough to crack through the ice growing around her, the ice that the Dark Lord had tried to smother her with. She took in a breath as though she had not done so for many long minutes. A spark of life appeared in her eyes as the memory guided her back to him.

She blinked again. “I feel it now.”

He covered her hand with his. “Inside?”

“Yes. But how?”

“He is here.”

She frowned, biting her lip in the way he knew well. The colour was coming back to her face. “I’ve had the strangest dreams, Severus. So horrible....”

“Forgive me.” He wanted to pull her closer, but what if it had not been enough? What if the Dark Lord still lurked in her mind, watching, waiting for the perfect opportunity to entrap him? She was violated now, never to be the same.

“For what? You were busy, I’m sure.” She didn’t even remember the other things she’d said. It was another blank spot in her mind, her memory. Pray to Merlin that she would never remember. “Afraid I don’t have anything for you, though. I think I ate it all, though I can’t quite recall.” Her frown deepened.

“I want no food.” His lips twitched upwards. “Only a place to rest.”

A smile slowly crept onto her face. “For the night?” She was blushing now, even though her eyes met his without modesty.

Perhaps there was a chance that the Dark Lord’s grasp upon her had been thrown away before it was too late, before she could go completely mad with his thoughts of hatred and murder. She appeared her usual self now, even bit healthier than before, pleased that he had finally returned to her. Damn that he had stayed away for so long. If he could, he’d quit it all just to hide away in this place of safety, concerning himself only with her and all that she had always given him.

“With some persuasion, I would gladly stay longer.”

Whether he had moved towards her, or she towards him, he could not be sure. It was that magnetism again, uniting them like it had done so many times before, against their wills, yet with the permission of their hearts. It had never happened this way with Lily, all those years ago. She had never done this to him.

“Maybe forever?” she asked, her face raised up to his, their bodies pressed together.

Before his lips touched hers, he whispered, “Yes. Always.”

But nights cannot last forever, nor can love, however awkward, always overcome evil. Long after he had pulled her mind from the Dark Lord’s hands, Severus did not hear Emilia whispering in her sleep to an unseen face. He did not feel her sit up in the bed. He did not see her rise and dress. He did not hear the door close behind her. It was not until the morning, when he awoke, that he realised that she was gone.


~ * * * ~

It was another quiet morning at the sanitarium. Half the patients were still abed – whether sleeping or not, it didn’t really matter – and the other half were decently subdued to the point that they might as well be sleeping for all the trouble they caused. The night watchman looked to be in much the same condition, nodding off in his chair surrounded by black and white security cameras that flickered from one image to the other, showing nothing of interest. He glanced at them from time to time, expecting nothing because nothing ever happened. The director of the sanitarium wouldn’t allow for any instances to occur. Her snapping eyes and voice were enough to keep the employees hopping.

At least, they would while she was in the building, which, thankfully, was only three times a week.

The night watchman relished his position, never having to meet the director, not even to collect his bi-weekly salary – the pretty secretary always did those sorts of things. He stretched out his legs, putting his hands behind his head. It was six a.m. and the nursing staff was arriving in meagre waves depending on which bus they took to get here. He nodded at each of them in turn, wondering for the day when one of them would actually smile back at him. They certainly didn’t relish their jobs.

“Excuse me. Sir?”

The voice seemingly came out of nowhere, startling the night watchman out of his sleepy stupour. A young woman stood at the desk, plucking at the silky dress thing she wore. Fashions these days....

“And what could I be doin’ for you this fine day–” He glanced at her finger, checking for a ring. Could never tell these days, with them marrying early and late alike. Ah, there was one. “Mum?”

“I’m here to see a patient.” Her matter-of-fact voice contradicted her restless hands. “It’s probably a bad time, it being so early, but do you think....?” She appeared genuinely distressed by something, putting up a strong front that was nothing more than a thin facade.

He tilted his head to take in her pale, freckled cheeks, the wide, empty eyes with tears at the corners. Not pretty, no. That’d be a stretch, for certain.

“Well, I’ll go call the nurse for you, mum. She’ll help–”

Her eyes widened. “Oh no, you mustn’t do that. Surely your help would be enough.”

The night watchman hesitated.

She gave a weak smile that only heightened the appearance that she was about to burst into tears.

“We need not bother her, don’t you agree? She’ll be quite busy right now.”

Her voice was tantalising, so strange coming out of such a plain, childish face. There was a depth to it that surprised him, but dragged him in, its tones twisting about him like invisible bonds. And this was the greatest power of the Dark Lord: to do his work through the minds and bodies of others.

“It can’t hurt, I s’pose.” The night watchman glanced over the cameras. Nothing at all. He pushed back his chair. “Right this way, mum.”

It was a labyrinth of a building, constructed to confuse the already insane, just in case one happened to... wander off. Such things had occurred once or twice over the years, but they’d been kept all hush-hush, even from the director, and she was one of those sharp ones. The name this girl had given him was at the far end of the wing, where no sound ever emitted from except those of the machines which ensured that these patients stayed alive. The oldest nurses were placed here, watching over patients that would never move much less say a word. Some of the nurses here were said to be as batty as the patients in other wings.

“Here you’ll be, mum.” He opened the door to the last room on the hall.

She nodded and reached into her pocket for a fiver. “Many thanks for your assistance, sir.”

The night watchman bowed his head – if he’d been wearing a hat, it wouldn’t have been grasped between his hands. She was already inside the room before he could reply, shutting the door with a snap behind her. He glanced up at the name beside the door – one of the long term patients, it was, brought in a few weeks past. Could have been dead, for all anyone knew.

The name plate caught a sliver of light from the still-rising sun. Tiberius Grimm, it read. Strange name, that was for sure. The night watchman shrugged his shoulders and strode off back down the hall, the fiver clutched in his hand. What young ladies did inside the rooms of comatose patients had nothing to do with him.

But what was occurring within the room could not have been more different than the night watchman imagined. Emilia stood at the end of the bed, staring up at the face of her guardian. He was the same as he had been in the cottage, in that stage between sleep and death that could have been both or neither. The machines around him clicked and whirled, but it was not they that kept him alive. It was a thing that had stumped the doctors and nurses for the first week after Grimm’s arrival. Emilia did not care what kept him alive. She flicked her wand at each of the machines in turn, silencing their motion. Turning her attention back to Grimm, part of her hesitated. A cold tear dripped down her cheek, falling onto the snowy sheet.

“You must do this, child....”

She shook her head wildly. “No, no. Not him.”

“It is not him,” the voice in her head whispered. “It is the being that forced your hand once before, throwing you into a time not your own. Destroy this being, and set the world to rights....”

Her fists tightened. “But why? It’s fine here. Better than there.”

There was a blissful second of silence before the voice replied. “Is it?”

One of her hands unfurled on its own, shaking as two minds attempted to control it. Droplets of perspiration appeared on Emilia’s brow as she struggled, remembering the changed Severus, the happiness she felt in his presence... but there was also so much pain... the attack by Sirius Black, the distrust she had for Lily, the endless battles that raged beyond her reach, growing closer and closer with each day....

“See? This place is not safe for you.”

Her free hand touched her abdomen. “But I have this. I have him.”

“How can you be sure of having Snape?”

Teeth gritted against each other. “More than I was before.”

The laughter in her mind almost caused her to double over, hands over her ears. He mocked her with every breath, but there was no door to close against him, no way to shove him out of her mind. Her strength, the strength awarded to her by Severus’ memory, was waning. She turned her head to look at Grimm’s face, hoping, wishing that just his presence would give her something to fight back with. But nothing was there, no grey eyes smiled at her, no oaken wand appeared to rid her of this parasite in her brain, no words of advise of reassurance spilled from those lips. She was alone and on the verge of breaking.

“Why do you fight me, child? The timing is... unfortunate.”

Emilia said nothing, tried to think nothing.

“When you assisted me in removing your father, you made no qualms at all.”

She closed her eyes, the pain of her head worse than any she had experienced.

“But could you feel more for this... this person who has done you the greatest harm? He who created the potion that ruined your life?”

Her entire body began to shake, muscles and nerves feeling as though they would burst from position.

“Tell me, child, do you love this wizard?”

With an intake of breath, she shuddered.

“Could your love for him be what stops you?” Some quiet laughter resounded through her brain. “Would you even renounce your husband before this man?” The question met with more silence. “Very interesting, indeed.”

Her hand, the left, once-cursedly pale hand, moved against her will. Nothing in her power could cease its movement.

“It is touching that one should feel such affection for another being, true?”

The hand reached into her pocket for the object she had, in that blank moment between being asleep beside Severus to being at the doorway to this room, taken from the kitchen of the cottage. It was a knife she had never used – too large, too sharp – and the very feel of it in her hand brought tears to her eyes.

“But would you sacrifice yourself to save him, a lifeless form that can do nothing for the world?”

The blade of the knife glinted in the sun. She strained against the power forcing her hand.

“Sacrifice is a silly act of heroism. What a waste.”

She moved towards the window, away from the bed. If she could use the power against itself....

“The loss of your child would be a tragedy. I’m sure dear Severus would mourn it.”

A gasp escaped her mouth. Her legs, now also controlled, stumbled towards the bed.

“Perhaps more than he’d mourn for you.”

The cry that emerged from her throat was the only sound in that wing of the sanitarium. The knife rose in the air, high above her head. She continued to cry out as more laughter echoed through the enclosing blackness of her mind. It was all slipping away as the knife screamed through the air, aimed directly at Grimm’s heart. Emilia grasped at anything at all still left just as the knife crashed through cloth, skin, muscle, and bone, reaching its target with exquisite precision.

Light filled the room, the dust swirling about like in a vacuum, capturing every moment, each breath of air, before sucking itself into the great emptiness of time. Although the minute, hour, or day changed, the world around did, taking back all the things which had happened in the time Emilia had created, all except one thing. The old world filled in all the gaps – Snape was loyal only to his Lily; the Order had been searching for the missing Emilia Goldwyn for many months; and Grimm lay in his grave, dead these last three, almost four, years. The only thing more cruel than time was the Dark Lord.

A/N: not much left after this chapter, but there will be more. Thanks, as always, to all the readers and reviewers who have taken time to read this story.

Chapter title is from the Phil Collins song (which tends to break my heart, like this chapter).

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