Chapter 60 : Surviving Despite All Desire to the Contrary
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“Did you find her body?” he asked, his voice scratchy.
Dumbledore startled. That in itself was historic. Rather hysterically, Harry thought if there was one accomplishment he was proud of, it was startling Dumbledore. Snape would laugh himself to tears over this later. “Harry! My dear boy!”
“Where is her body?” Harry opened his bloodshot eyes and glared at the cerise-robed blur that he knew was the Headmaster.
“We have not found any trace of her body, Harry.”
These words were spoken with such quiet pathos, Harry could not take any hopeful meaning from it. Dumbledore believed she was dead. It was in his tone, even though his words implied that hope was not yet in vain. Harry sought out the bond, but it was broken. She was gone.
He had little memory of the weeks that followed. He often wondered why he bothered to live. It could have been Snape, quietly mourning the losses with him, standing with him in physical therapy (Snape had had a hundred and seven broken bones himself), cursing the pain with him, and taking his turn with the psychologist only after Harry’s appointment. Snape listened to him weep at night, made sure he got a Dreamless Sleep potion at least three times a week, and shared his thoughts about Graínne Cameron, including what she had said to him last; he was a good friend, sympathetic and helpful. Snape, who had never liked him, now proved his true friendship in the blackest hour.
Odd, Harry thought, that this blackest hour for him was the brightest time of every other wizard’s life in all of Europe.
Harry stood beside Ron at his wedding, leaning on a cane and heavily drugged. The day before, the Aurors who were investigating the Riddle House site had brought him her sword and the wrist com and holster, the only traces of her they had found. He was hardly fit to be conscious, but he would not allow his friends to change their plans, and he would not surrender this honor to another. He stood up with them at the ceremony, handed the ring to Ron at the right time, gave his toast at the reception, but it was Bill who took care of the other duties that were traditionally the best man’s, because Harry was just not able. He was in horrible physical pain, and he was emotionally a wreck.
Ginny was Hermione’s maid of honor, in Graínne’s absence, and Harry tried hard to be pleasant to her, but it was very difficult. First of all, Ginny was weeping almost the entire time, and secondly, he was keenly aware that she was where Graínne should be standing. They had planned together to think of the Granger-Weasley wedding as a sort of dry run for their own nuptials, to see what elements they liked and didn’t like. Harry watched Ginny weep for her lost friend, weep for his loss, and knew he would have wept with her if the pain medication had not numbed his brain.
On the night of August nineteenth, Snape levitated Harry into St. Mungo’s emergency room. The young man was unconscious. He had spent the evening drinking, and the alcohol had reacted with the potions he was still taking. Snape had gone to Harry’s newly rented flat to sit with him, knowing that it would be difficult to get through what was to have been his wedding eve. Instead of having a sympathetic cup of tea, Snape had found Harry sprawled on the sofa, hardly breathing. Instead of being surrounded by compassionate friends on August twentieth, Harry was surrounded by medical wizards and psychologists, the former having rescued him again from death, the latter trying to discern whether this was careless behavior or a suicide attempt. Except for Snape and the Weasley newlyweds, the friends who tried to come and see Harry were turned away.
On August twenty-first, Morag Cameron came in and sat down. Snape excused himself quietly, assuring Harry that he would be back later, that he was meeting Dumbledore for tea in the cafeteria. He gave Morag a pat on the shoulder as he left.
“Well, son,” she sighed, looking at him.
Harry looked back. She was haggard, shadowed with her grief, looking as bad as he knew he must also look.
“I made a quick trip home, to Bonk Pass,” she said hesitantly. “You’ve not had a chance to visit there, I know, but if you had, you’d have seen a clock like Molly’s.”
“I have one, myself.”
“I know. Graínne wrote to me about it when you gave it to her. And I saw it at Christmas, recall. I’ve been to Godric’s Hollow, and your clock broke a spring sometime recently. You should send it back to the clockmaker. I’m sure it’s under warranty.”
Harry waited patiently.
“Well. The point is, Harry, that my clock isn’t broken. And Graínne’s hand was pointing to ‘Traveling’ when I left this morning.”
“So you think she’s alive.”
“I do. All the other hands are working; hers must be as well.”
There was a long silence between them.
“Has it ever said anything else, while she’s been here in England?”
Morag blinked. “Well, no. I don’t think so. I’ve been here a good deal of time, myself, so I haven’t observed it constantly—”
“Maybe she’s out of the clock’s range.”
Morag closed her mouth with a snap.
“Either way, she’s not here. She is either dead or she left me, and you’ll excuse me if I don’t find comfort in either thought.”
There was nothing to say to that.
Harry looked around the first floor hall. Dust covers on the bedroom furniture made rectangular ghosts in the dusk, giving the rooms around him a sense of both emptiness and occupation. The second floor was closed off, the store rooms sealed against mice and rats and moths and other things that might destroy the inherited estates within, mostly of Sirius Black, which had never been unpacked any further. Someday he would come back and read letters and sort through those things, but he couldn’t do it now.
Besides a few remnants of his parents’ belongings that had come from a Gringott’s vault upon his majority, there was a newer trunk up there beside Sirius’ things: navy blue leather with brass fittings, West Tower stenciled in yellow paint on one end, the initials G.A.K.C. in gold-leafed Old English letters over the lock. The Camerons had not asked for her belongings, and McGonagall had offered them to Harry before anyone could think to speak to her parents. Feeling faintly guilty and greedy, he had taken them as his right. Now he locked the trunk away without even opening it. It would smell like her, and it would kill him.
He went down the broad stairs, thinking how silent the house was now. He had never heard it silent. It had been filled with cheerful sounds from the moment he had first entered it. Some places, he thought idly, must be cursed, no matter what one built there.
The clock was already dusty. Harry gazed at it, pausing on the second step up. Like the bond, it was broken. Like Graínne, it was dead.
He did not go through the ground floor again. He knew that Hermione had brought Graínne’s N.E.W.T.s painting and hung it in the study, as she had heard him talk about, but he couldn’t bear to see it again. He had imagined it on the wall with her sitting before it, and he did not think he could bear to see it without her there. He did not want to see the kitchen, where she had cooked and laughed, where they had eaten together. He did not look into the parlor, where she had agreed to marry him, or into the dining room, where a gorgeous cherry dining suite showed her excellent taste and Scottish thrift.
Instead he went into the entry hall, closed the door, and then stepped out into the garden, where Severus Snape was waiting. He locked the front door carefully. He had agreed to join Severus for a drink in London, on this last day of summer. The new term began the next morning.
Life goes on, Harry thought to himself, surprised at the uplifting of his heart when he inhaled the fresh air, full of the scent of new-mown hay and late flowers. He was surprised at his own small smile of greeting to Severus. He had thought he would never smile again.
Life goes on, even when you don’t want it to.
Dumbledore sighed, looking into the fire on the hearth. In the other squashy armchairs around the hearth, Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall sighed as well. The report Snape had brought was cautiously optimistic. Harry Potter had gone into Auror training with Hermione and Ron Weasley, and seemed to be acclimating. Godric’s Hollow was closed, for the most part, but it hadn’t been sealed; Harry invited Snape to use the house whenever he needed a weekend retreat. He planned to use it that way himself, he explained, and Ron and Hermione promised to do so as well. It was Severus’ opinion that Harry would never voluntarily go to Godric’s Hollow again; the associations to Graínne Cameron were too strong. But he was making an effort to go on, which was the main concern of all his friends.
“I had a letter from Rory Cameron today,” said Dumbledore after a long pause.
Snape waited. Minerva had already read the letter, and sipped her tea quietly.
“Morag is convinced the girl isn’t dead.”
“Yes. What could keep her away, though? Why would she run?”
“I don’t know, Albus.”
The truth was, Severus did not know Graínne Cameron well enough to guess at her motives. She had adored Potter, and he doubted seriously that she had changed her mind and run away because he had killed the Dark Lord. All evidence indicated that she had done some killing herself that evening, and one thing he was sure she was not was a hypocrite. The ruins of the Riddle House had been thoroughly searched, and there was no trace of an unidentified body. Draco Malfoy had disappeared, and Pansy Parkinson was now married off to Marcus Flint, who had supplied her alibi for the evening, despite eyewitness reports of her presence at the scene. Apparently three International Aurors did not hold as much weight as the senior members of the Flint and Parkinson families. Weight in gold, that is. Cornelius Fudge was looking remarkably better groomed and accoutered, these days. The point was, without being able to question Parkinson-Flint and Malfoy about what Graínne Cameron said and did that evening, and what was said and done to her, it was not possible to understand why she had fled. If in fact she had. She could have been taken somewhere, killed and buried, by one of the rogue Death Eaters, and there would be no way of finding her.
Severus suspected that this could be one reason Harry had chosen to survive, instead of willing himself to death. He knew the young man did not believe his fiancée was alive, and he thought perhaps Harry clung stubbornly to that belief rather than face the possibility that she had run away from him. No, Harry survived to find the Death Eaters who might have done her in. He would make a damn fine Auror, but that was probably all. He would likely turn into another Moody, rest his soul, or Crouch, even— overwhelmed by the need to capture all Dark Arts users, whether for justice or for revenge. Severus sighed again, and got slowly to his feet. He had a class in half an hour.
Life goes on, even for those who only survive.
I really seldom appreciate ANs, but I have had so many cries of outrage, I thought I'd better add this one: the other three stories under my name on this site are spin-offs and the sequel. Of COURSE there's a sequel! "Lesser Houses" takes place immediately after this story, "Playing By Ear" is a one-shot that takes place actually before the JKR series, and "Surviving to Live" is the rest of Harry's story. Thank you for sticking with it!