Title: "for nothing now"
Author: monimala
Fandom: Harry Potter/??
Rating/Classification: crossover, gen, angst.
Disclaimer: Liberties are being taken, but I do not own these characters. Spoilers ahoy! Don't read if you haven't read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Summary: He knows, of course.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
-W.H. Auden

He knows, of course. Even before the gentle tap on the windowpane, the creak-slide as he opens it and the wide-eyed barn owl drops the rolled newsprint onto the sill. He keeps subscribing to the Daily Prophet out of pure habit. Hidden amidst the propaganda and the financial reports from Gringotts are bits and pieces of his old life, his old world. He still gets the Times every morning for legitimate news. Muggle news, he should say. But that term has long gone stale on his tongue, unfamiliar, like so many others he's forgotten over the years.

But there are terms he will never forget. Things he will always remember. Things he will feel, textured and hard like the strangely-shaped coin he tucks into the purse tied around the owl's leg.

You must not go into the restricted section.

There are arrangements that must be made. He'll attend the funeral, of course. He must. It's only proper.

You must not go into the restricted section.

"Apparating," he mumbles, absently, tapping the paper against his thigh as he returns to his desk. Of course, there's no apparating on or off the grounds themselves. Charms and the like. And he's not dabbled in that kind of magic in years. Very likely he'd apparate half of his body to Bristol and the other half to Morocco.

You must not go into the restricted section of the library. Must we keep troubling ourselves with this discussion? I'm worried for you. You have no idea what darkness lies in those texts, what forces you trifle with, what beasts and demons you could call forth.

I'd like to learn. Dear old dad packed me off to Hogwarts for an education, didn't he?

Apparently so. But I 'm certain he didn't mean for you to educate yourself in this fashion.

No. He means for me to grow mold like him and his lot. To uphold a noble tradition... which just means sitting on my arse. Pardon...


There is a trick compartment in the bottom of the old desk. His predecessor used it to store brandy and cigars. He pulls out a long thin stick, dull from lack of polish but still sturdy. 12 inches, oak, with unicorn hair.

Might I suggest you try Kipling instead of the Dark Arts?

You might, Professor D.


The wand goes into his coat pocket, safely tucked away. The tiny velour bag of powder is his immediate concern. There's just enough left for him to make the journey to Hogsmeade.

Very well. Until the next time, Rupert...

Ripper. Not Rupert anymore. Rayne came up with it last week after we walloped Ravenclaw. I reckon it fits, doesn't it?

Apparently so. Lemon drop?


He steps into the fireplace. And, although it shouldn't, it still manages to burn.

***

Wizards from all over the world crowd the lake shore. Rows and rows of chairs. Merpeople, giants, faces that are oddities and comforts all at once. Students and staff alike are weeping. Some wailing, some white-faced and silent like they're verging on sickness. He remembers that terrible summer...that awful time when Buffy was dead. Dawn would take turns sneaking into their rooms at night, climbing into bed beside them. How often he'd held her as she cried...like a father desperately trying to offer solace to his child.

There is no one here to hold him, to offer any kind of solace, now that he's become the child.

He does not gasp at the white tomb.

He does not marvel at the phoenix soaring through the air.

The tears are too thick, too fresh.

And a long time coming.

***

The Three Broomsticks is crowded with mourners. Most of Hogsmeade, he hears people say, has been empty for weeks. The buildings are boarded up, as if wood and nails can keep out the Death Eaters...and death itself. Madame Rosmerta, drawn and still sniffling, pulls pints of ale for the impromptu wake, as if scuttling about amongst the tables will leave her too busy for grief.

"Oi! You're Giles!" It's not a question, but he manages to turn and face a stranger in somber blue robes and push the words "I am" past the razors clogging his throat. They come out scraped and bloody.

"Wellsley," says the man, pointing to himself with a sloshing tankard. "Ravenclaw Keeper our fifth year." And once the connection is made, the man's eyes narrow. "Slytherin!" he announces, at, naturally, one of the quiet points in the bustling pub's cacophony.

Oh, bugger.

Those around him seem to take up the name of his old house, "Sssslytherin," and it becomes a hiss like they've all begun speaking Parseltongue.

He knows this, too, of course. That he is guilty by association.

You must not go into the restricted section.

That he will always be.

He emerges from the pub moments later, still feeling the weight of accusation, of guilt, of one tattoo long lasered away and another that goes far below the skin.

No man can serve two masters, Rupert much less three.

I aim to serve none, Professor D. Just myself.

Do give my best to the girl. I'm sure she will be something to behold.

Bollocks, Sir. They're never going to give me a Slayer.

They will. If you give yourself one thing first.

What's that, d'you reckon? Discipline? A hair-cut? Blow to the skull?

Respect.


He pulls his coat sleeve more firmly over the Dark Mark.

"London," he says, softly but clearly.

And leaves half of himself behind.

--end--

August 18, 2005.

e-mail mala.