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Title: It Tolls for Thee
Author: Deirdre Riordan (deirdre.riordan @
Rating: PG
Summary: In the midst of death and war, Harry and Severus find each other.
Disclaimer: Nope, not mine. I've got Shakespeare and JKR to thank for this one.
Notes: Written as a belated birthday gift to the venerable ptyx. Quoted material is from Shakespeare's sonnets 71 and 116. Title is from John Donne's Meditation XVII. This is slash, SS/HP.


It Tolls For Thee

A bell tolled fifty-one times. A knell for the three Slytherin seventh-years lost that day. It seemed to Severus that there had been scarce a day when that bell had lain still. Not since the war had begun full-on. The past month had had as its soundtrack a near-continuous death knell, only pausing for a few moments between victims before starting in on the next-- sometimes someone older, a member of the Order or a Hogsmeade shopkeeper. But too often it was a student lost in the fight. Light or Dark in life, they were all on the same side when the bell in the tower sounded out their age.

He stared out the window of Dumbledore's office. Hogwarts was the last stronghold of sanity. Neutral ground, where mere feet away fear and madness reigned.

"No longer mourn for me when I am dead," he murmured to the frozen ground below, "than you shall hear the surly sullen bell, give..." he faltered, forgetting the next line.

A hand came to rest on his shoulder. He did not start. "Give warning to this world that I am fled, from this vile world with vilest worms to dwell."

He took a deep breath and turned round to stare into those disquieting green eyes. "Potter."

A small smirk by way of greeting. A wistful smile. "You should really try something more uplifting." The hand stayed on his shoulder. He could feel the warmth through his robes, a touch strangely comforting.

"Like what?"

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments." He could feel the warm breath on his ear as Harry whispered these words.

"Love is not love," Severus continued, "which alters when it alteration finds..."

"...Or bends with the remover to remove."

Severus found himself leaning into the strong, sturdy body behind him.

"Oh, no," whispered Harry into his collar, lips just brushing Severus' neck. "It is an ever fixéd mark..."

"...That looks on tempests and is never shaken." And it was a tempest of sorts they were looking out upon. A hidden tempest. A storm of conflicting wills, of power and of deception. A tempest of a different sort was brewing within Severus by the heat of the fiery youth who held him fast as they gazed out the frost-tinged windowpane.

"I don't know the rest," Harry said, his voice barely audible.

"Neither do I." But the spell was not broken. No spell cast by wizards' wands, no spell within the power of mankind to control.

They stood silently as the bell began its mourning song again. They stood, tangled in each other's arms, listening, counting. The bell did not stop its doom-song at twenty or one hundred, but tolled on and on till a hundred and fifty-eight. As the last chime sounded, the two men came together in tearful, desperate kisses, at once burning with desire and needing comfort. They both had just been orphaned all over again. All they had now was each other.

The bell had fallen silent for now, maybe for the next few minutes, maybe for the next few hours. A day was too much to hope for. They broke apart slowly and made their way down to Hogsmeade. Their pace was unhurried, as they knew there was nothing they could change. Arriving, they pushed hand in hand through the crowd surrounding the body of a man who was now but the stuff of legend.


© 2004 by Deirdre Riordan. Contact me at deirdre.riordan @ gmail . com (remove spaces).


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