Returning to Cove Cottage had never been so painful. It was as if all the joy had been sucked from the Cornish air. And Saturnine wondered if about a dozen Dementors were drifting about the place, just out of sight. It would explain the oppressive ambience.
While she and Severus suffered only superficial injuries in the final battle against Voldemort, Draco was forced to stay at St. Mungo’s for another two days before the Mediwitch in charge allowed them to take him home. And it was only at Severus’ insistence that, as a Potions Master, he was more than capable of seeing to his son’s medical needs. The Mediwitch had tried to protest, but she lost the fight when Severus informed her, not too kindly, that it was his very own brand of antivenin that she had been pumping into Draco’s blood for three days.
That had solved one of their problems. The other currently lay sleeping inches away from Saturnine, and she had no idea how to solve that one. Harry looked impossibly young while he slept, as if he had no worries or cares anymore. Reaching a hand forward, Saturnine pushed a lock of brown hair from his face and tucked it behind his ear. Her son didn’t so much as stir at her touch. And she felt her heart break all over again.
Harry had gotten some of his memories back and was less confused than when he first awoke at the hospital. But that was the sole extent of his recovery. The last two years of the boy’s recollection was riddled with more holes than Swiss cheese.
Memories of a song drifted back to Saturnine’s mind as she watched her son sleep. It must have been something she heard while she was in France, for what little she remembered of the lyrics wasn’t in English.
“Laisse-moi te dire, boy—te voir dormir. C’est un peu mourir, boy—ainsi soit-il,” she sang softly, careful to not wake Draco.
How very fitting, Saturnine thought; watching Harry sleep was a bit like dying inside. The song was about the trials of parenthood and your children surviving you in the end. She couldn’t remember all the lyrics. So, she hummed the melody under her breath while she watched Harry.
Looking at him like that, she could almost fool herself into believing that everything was all right. They had won the fight without suffering any losses, and the future they had fought so hard for, bled for, was finally theirs. But it wasn’t—not really.
They had lost something: Harry—or part of him, at least. The part that was well and truly theirs—or it should have been. While their son remembered everything about who he was, all his friends at Hogwarts, and what he’d learned in class, there seemed to be a black hole of absolute nothingness where the three of them were concerned. It was as if someone had practised the most despicable and precise Obliviation Charm on him, sifting through memory after memory to carefully prune the Snape family from his every recollection.
A cruel fate, indeed, worthy of the Dark Lord. And the worst of it was that Harry wasn’t the one who suffered the most. It was a small mercy that the boy didn’t seem to know what he’d lost. He merely looked wrong-footed most of the time, which was nothing compared to how they felt. The three of them: his family, who, unlike Harry, retained their entire set of memories and knew all too well what was missing. It was killing them slowly, tearing them apart with malice that befitted the darkest wizard of all time.
Draco clung to his books like a lifeline, coming up with questions and interrogations that led to ideas and schemes to try and bring his brother’s memory back. But the Mediwitch—who couldn’t explain what had happened any more than they could—had advised against attempting to force Harry to remember. Either it would happen naturally, or it wouldn’t, she had said. So, Saturnine had been forced to ask Draco that he do nothing that risked making things worse. But still, her second son kept poring over book after book as he sought the miracle cure.
Her brother was in pain; that was clear to anyone with a pair of eyes and half a brain. Haunted would be an even more appropriate word for it. Severus drifted through his days like a man who’d lost a limb or half of his heart. Saturnine had tried talking to him about it, but he’d rebuked every last one of her attempts with cold, crisp words. And when she ran out of strength to try and pull him from his misery, she decided to let him be.
As for herself? Well, mostly Saturnine wondered where her tears were. Surely she ought to have some in stock, but they just wouldn’t come. She had lost more than a limb or half of her heart on that battlefield. She’d been cut open, and the haemorrhage was ongoing. But weirdly enough, tears weren’t coming—only blood.
Every night, as she sat by her sleeping son, who wasn’t her son anymore, she felt as if she was bleeding out on his blanket. During the day, even more of her lifeforce was drained away when she watched her second son waste away his time with his books as he sought a solution that she knew wasn’t there. And the last precious drops of her vital essence spilt out at her brother’s feet every time she caught his empty, broken gaze.
Whatever Voldemort had done to Harry that day, the Dark Lord had more than succeeded in giving them all a punishment worse than death. Even from beyond the grave, he tortured them—achingly slowly—heartbeat by heartbeat until their family would be no more.
Minerva McGonagall kept them appraised of the ongoing repairs at Hogwarts and assured them that O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s were still scheduled for June. Severus wondered how long it would take her to ask them to return. Would she dare ask us that? he wondered. Dumbledore would have; he wouldn’t have hesitated. The old man had asked for so much already, taken so much.
And they would bring him back, wouldn’t they? That had been the deal: keep him under stasis until the Dark Lord was gone. Follow his instruction until the last battle, and sacrifice what must be sacrificed to get the result Dumbledore had intended. And they had done it, hadn’t they? Good little sheep that they were, they had carried the torch and taken over the deadly game of chess Dumbledore and the Dark Lord had been playing. Then, they had willingly sent a child to the battlefield: a boy barely seventeen years old—just a child. And he’d gone alone to face the most violent, depraved, evil wizard their generation had ever seen. And he’d gone willingly because that was what he’d been told to do. Because, for years, the old man had prepared him, groomed him to sacrifice him to the cause—his cause.
Their son, their Harry—with his heart of gold and his parents’ Gryffindor courage and honour—had gone willingly, without fear. And on that battlefield, he had done the impossible. And he had sacrificed the best parts of himself to save them all.
What kind of world required that? Severus wondered. In what kind of world was it okay to sacrifice the heart and soul of a seventeen-year-old boy to stop an evil lord?
There was a loud crashing sound in their tiny kitchen, and Severus realised he’d hurled the glass he’d had in his hand against the wall. It had been half-full, and whisky dripped down the side of the kitchen cabinet where the glass had exploded into tiny shards. He reached for the bottle, which still lay on the counter, and he threw it to the floor. There was a large plate nearby with six apples on top, and he sent that flying, too.
He was dimly aware of his sister’s voice in the distance, but that wasn’t enough to stop him. Opening the cupboards at random, he kept throwing glasses, plates, and cups against the walls. And they crashed repeatedly, like the ocean waves that exploded against the rocks at the foot of the Cornish cliffs. He kept hurling dishes until he was no longer able, and he slumped against the counter, shaking and wracked with sobs.
“Oh, Sev,” he heard Saturnine say, and he was engulfed in her arms a moment later. He went willingly; he wouldn’t have been able to fend her off anyway. As it was, he barely even remembered how to breathe.
He had no idea how long they stayed there, sitting in a heap on the kitchen floor in one of the only spots that wasn’t covered in shards of glass or porcelain. When he came to, Severus noticed that Saturnine had closed the kitchen door. And he wondered if she had put up a Silencing Charm to protect the boys from the worst of his outburst. Knowing her, he thought she probably had.
“Thanks,” he muttered through the last of his tears. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” she said before kissing his temple. “Are you feeling better?”
He nodded before pushing away slightly and leaning his back against the kitchen cabinets. Focusing on his breathing, he tried to calm himself and realised that he was feeling a bit better.
“I hope your Reparo Charms are good,” Saturnine said. “Or we’ll have to eat straight from the pans from now on.”
He chuckled at that, and his sister joined in his laughter; it was short-lived, though. “I’m sorry,” he said again, turning his head to the left to face her. “I haven’t been of much help these past couple of days.”
And he hadn’t been, had he? He could see it now in the tired lines of Saturnine’s face—the pain, the ache. She wasn’t doing much better than he was, and he’d left her alone. “I’m sorry.”
She shook her head. “It’s okay. You’re here now, right?”
He nodded, reaching an arm around her shoulders to draw her in.
Draco hadn’t expected to be left alone with Harry, but after his parents finished brewing the potion that would bring back Dumbledore, they had left for Hogwarts together. He’d felt like protesting and asking if one of them could stay, but the words died on his lips when he caught their gazes. The Snape siblings looked like pale copies of themselves—tired, battle-wary, and oh-so-sad—and he hadn’t wanted to add to their misery.
He was in the middle of preparing dinner when Harry popped into the kitchen.
“Didn’t know you could cook, Malfoy,” he said, sneering.
Heaving a sigh above the pan of boiling water, he tossed in the pasta and stirred twice before lowering the heat of the flame.
“Don’t call me that, Harry,” he said, turning back to face his brother. “I told you that’s not my name anymore.”
“Oh, right,” Harry said as he sat down at the kitchen table, looking for all the world like he didn’t believe him. “Habit, I guess.”
That was why Draco didn’t like to be alone with him anymore; he had lost Harry’s trust. In his brother’s muddled brain, they were still Potter and Malfoy—sworn enemies. And it didn’t matter that Draco hadn’t said or done anything mean to him in days or that he’d spent hours every night telling him everything he could remember and crying openly in front of him as he poured his heart out to him. Harry still saw Draco Malfoy when he looked at him, and that cut more than anything else.
And he’d thought that Harry not remembering him at first was bad. Hell, he would gladly exchange the hostility for a complete lack of recognition. He supposed Severus would, too, for he’d become Professor Snape—greasy, evil bat of the dungeons—again in his son’s eye. Only Saturnine had had the heart to consider this progress. However faulty Harry’s recovered memories were, she considered them steps in the right direction. Draco begged to differ.
“Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes,” he announced, turning back to the pan of cooking spaghetti. “I made that curry and shrimp sauce you like.”
“With coconut milk and raisins?” Harry asked.
Draco nodded as he lifted the lid on the saucepan to stir it a couple of times. He heard Harry sit up, and a moment later, his brother joined him at the counter.
“How did you know I like that?” Harry asked him as he peered inside the saucepan.
Draco shrugged. “Saturnine made some last summer, and you said it was the best thing you’d ever had. I found the recipe in one of her books.” He stirred again, hoping he hadn’t messed it up. He had gotten quite good at cooking. But he was still anxious when he tried his hand at something new. “Why don’t you set the plates? It’s almost ready.”
Harry did so without objecting, and Draco finished cooking their lunch in silence. He brought the steaming spaghetti with him to the kitchen table and served Harry before serving himself. The way his brother looked up to thank him for the food, it was almost like the old Harry was back. For a fleeting instant, there wasn’t any mistrust or ill intent in his green eyes. But then Harry blinked, and the moment passed.
Draco sat down and tried to enjoy the food, but it tasted like ash in his mouth. Everything did these days.