Harry receives letters [HP/SS]
Harry Potter looked forward to every third Thursday of the month. As 8 p.m drew near, when it was already dark, Harry would put on his wizards' robes and sit on the sofa, staring at the fireplace. She had been appearing like clockwork at this fireplace. Harry could only assume that it was her preferred travel mode.
The clock chimed the hour as the expected guest tumbled out of the fireplace. All Harry could say was that she was obviously more used to the Floo travelling method than he was, never stumbling like a puppet without strings out of the fireplace. Even though he knew what time it was, Harry glanced at the clock. Right on the hour. How long had it been already? Harry ran through the months in his mind. He had been taken to this desolate marsh in June, and it was, according to the calendar on the wall, December. Six months. Six months of solitude broken only by a once a month visit. Harry shook his head as he made his way towards his guest. They were lucky that he was already used to his own company or else he would have surely gone mad.
And if that had happened, who would destroy Voldemort?
Harry shut up the rational voice of Dumbledore in his head and reached out to help his visitor up.
"Right on time, Pansy."
His ex-schoolmate ignored his hand as she usually did and stood up with a dour expression on her face. Harry pulled his hand back and shrugged. He was going to keep offering his hand every time Pansy appeared, and she was going to continue ignoring any friendly gestures of his. It was a ritual of sorts. A habit in a world filled with actions and movements that seemed to run on a weekly schedule, with only the third Thursday being the occasional break, and even then, it had its own patterns and rituals.
"Your supplies." Pansy handed him a small parcel, one that Harry set aside as he sat down. He would enlarge it and go through its contents later.
The were at least able to maintain a pretence of courtesy, like strangers who smile at each other in the elevator. Six years since Harry had left Hogwarts, four since he started working with Pansy and they were still formal and distant with each other as they had been since the first day. Minus the malice and the taunting of course. Severus would never allow Harry to be rude to one of his former students.
"Is everyone all right?" Harry poured the tea, automatically adding the two cubes of sugar Pansy favoured.
"They're fine. Professor Dumbledore sends his regards."
Harry nodded and waited impatiently for Pansy to continue. When Pansy lifted her cup, Harry bit his lower lip before opening his mouth. "How is Severus?"
Pansy smirked, "Professor Snape? You know I'm not supposed to let anyone know that I'm the one who "visits" you."
"But surely Severus can be told?"
"Potter, it's been six months." Pansy placed her cup gently on the table, unknowingly echoing Harry's earlier thoughts. "You know the rules."
This was another ritual. Pansy would sit down, Harry would pour and ask about people that he should not be asking about. He restrained the urge to growl. He knew that his location was a secret and that if anyone were to know that Pansy was his contact, she would be in grave danger. Not to mention what would happen if they found out where he was, and what exactly Harry was doing, hiding out in the marsh.
He nodded glumly and proceeded to give Pansy his reports. When Harry found out that he was sent out to live in the small hut to research the ancient texts for Dumbledore, he had protested, stating that Hermione was more suited to the task and that he was more useful in the field. Dumbledore had just calmly reminded Harry of the talk that they had in the fifth year, the one that went to the effect that if Harry died, Voldemort would live forever.
In the end, it had been Severus who had persuaded Harry to move.
"I don't want to worry about you when I'm in the field."
"And it's okay for me to worry then?"
He gave in eventually, unable to refuse Severus and moved to the dilapidated hut in the middle of a god-forsaken land with an outside contact whom he did not even like.
It was almost two hours later when Pansy left. Harry leaned back against the sofa, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Pansy was, as usual, unforthcoming about the situations of his friends. That Harry could understand. Just because they had gone to school together, were fighting on the same side, did not mean that they had to like each other. It would look very odd if Pansy were to suddenly becoming chummy with his friends.
Not so for Severus. Harry could not fathom why Pansy refused to tell him anything about Severus. She worked with the man, didn't she? Harry stretched and stood up. There was time tomorrow to open his supplies.
Then he saw it. A plain white envelope and a familiar writing.
The next day, Harry held the envelope in his hand, staring at the familiar print on it. Fearing the worst. He hated to admit it, but his hands were trembling as he slid the paper out.
As he held the plain paper (Muggle paper! His mind was bemused by that) up, Harry was still unable to curb the shivers that started running up and down his spine.
I am not dead yet.
Harry felt the tightness in his chest loosen as he rubbed his eyes, careful to place the letter on the table first.
He read the letter twice that day, savouring the words in his head. He read it again the day after, running a finger under the words till some were smudged as the ink ran. He stopped doing it and placed a protection charm on the paper. As the days passed, he started carrying the letter around the house, occasionally patting his pocket to check if the letter was still there. He would run the words through his head as he had, by the end of that week, memorised the entire letter. Harry reckoned that if he tried hard enough, he could hear Severus' voice reading the letter out loud to him. What he would not give to receive a Howler from Severus.
It was only on the Wednesday before Pansy's visit that he sat down to compose his reply.
"Prompt as usual, Pansy."
Harry rolled his eyes. He had stopped calling Pansy by her first name in the hopes that they could put Hogwarts and inter-house rivalries behind them. It was, at the moment, still not working.
As per their usual practice, Harry offered tea and they got down to business. There was no mention of a plain white envelope and its contents. Nor were there any queries about replies. When Pansy left, Harry picked up the envelope left in the same place as the previous one was.
/You're glad that I'm still alive. Is that all you can manage, Harry?/
He cursed as he rubbed his throbbing scar, screwing up his face as pain knifed through his brain, like lightning in the sky. Voldemort was becoming stronger and Occlumency no longer worked as well as it should. When Harry was awake, there was no problem keeping Voldemort out of his mind. At night, when he was asleep with his mind relaxed, Voldemort's evil found ways through the cracks in Harry's defence. It had gotten to a point that Harry starting using a Pensieve before bed.
There were days he dared not sleep for fear of forgetting to gather his most important thoughts and memories back.
Harry woke up screaming. His voice trembling too much to even say the spell for the lights, Harry fumbled in the dark for his glasses, wincing when his hand knocked over the glass.
Harry knew that he was letting the reports he had read earlier bother him way too much. Yet how was he to calm himself down when the reports had just confirmed his worst fears?
Voldemort had taken over the Forbidden Forest. It had taken him almost 5 months, but he had finally succeeded.
The report did not say.
But he knew. The dreams had flashed fast and furious.
He warned them. He had told Pansy about the first time the dreams had occurred.
Three weeks after they started.
There was no way he could told them sooner as they had cut off all forms of communication but for Pansy's monthly visits in their efforts to protect him. When all Pansy did was to nod and say quietly that she would inform Professor Dumbledore, Harry jumped out of his chair and yelled at her.
Harry spent the rest of the night cleaning up the broken glass pieces in his house while the wind howled outside his windows.
/Happy new year, Harry. Lets hope we'll survive this one too./
He found it. He had finally found what he was looking for. What Dumbledore was looking for.
Pansy "did her rounds" yesterday. Harry ran a hand through his hair, still as untidy as ever and hissed in agitation. He did not know when he first did it. Speaking in Parseltongue when he was agitated. He never noticed it.
The rain was irritating his eyes.
That was what Harry Potter was thinking as he lay face-up on the muddy ground. He barely felt the hands as his vision tilted, blurred and his head was cushioned on soft thighs.
The blurred blob that Harry correctly guessed as the head nodded.
"Where's Herm and Ron?" And Remus, and Severus and Dumbledore and McGonagall and so many other people. Harry wanted to call out their names, but found that he could not force his mouth to open any more.
"They're all..." Pansy's voice hitched. "Fine."
Somehow, Harry believed Pansy. He smiled and with some difficulty, raised his arm up to bring Pansy's head closer so he could see her clearer. Smiling, he whispered into her ear.
"Tell him I'm sorry. And that I love him."
Harry gently placed a kiss on Pansy's cheek, "Thank you."
"Incendio." The fire burnt bright and red as the paper and pens turned dark inside it. Pansy bit her lower lip as she added in the plain white envelopes, not even noticing the tears streaking down her face.
Master of Potions.
Loved and Missed
(March 1960 - November 2003)
She placed a single white lily in front of the gravestone before moving to the next one.
Harry James Potter
He saved us all.
We will miss him.
(July 1980 - July 2005)
Here, Pansy placed a plain white envelope. Without a backward glance, she walked out the graveyard.