It Tolls For Thee
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
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.
"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
"...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