Snape stared at what remained of the house with Albus Dumbledore
It wasn’t the first attack since Voldemort’s return, and it
be the last. But it was the first one that he’d seen so soon after
was all over. The Mark was still hanging over the house. The face of
Mark seemed to be laughing at him.
Alastor Moody stumped up and said, “Dumbledore – there’s something
ought to see inside.”
Dumbledore removed his impervious gaze from the crumbled bricks
said, “All right, Alastor.” He followed the Auror, beckoning Severus
come along behind him. Snape followed; he was there to observe,
Moody led them through the doorframe and turned down what remained
the hall. He paused outside another doorway at the back of the house
said, “In there.”
Dumbledore entered; Severus followed.
It was a little girl’s room, done in soft, unobtrusive pink. The
were adorned with a child’s cheerful drawings of people and houses.
Victorian wall sconce illuminated the room softly. A small white
table was set for tea, and three of the four matching chairs were
with a stuffed rabbit, a stuffed bear, and a stuffed kneazle. In the
by the bay window rested a canopy bed with a single occupant, only
from the bedclothes by the long, intensely red hair that was in
contrast to the white blankets.
The strangest thing about that room was the fact that it was
while the rest of the house had suffered major amounts of damage. A
strange thing, indeed. Why leave the child, and – presumably – kill
Snape turned to look at the door; Moody was staring at the two of
Dumbledore was standing over the bed, watching the girl. Moody
his throat. “Albus.”
Dumbledore turned. He still had that stern, closed look on his
– it made Severus feel unsettled. Better any emotion than none at
Moody said, “The bodies are in the other room.”
Dumbledore rose and followed Moody out of the room, not looking at
He took that as an unspoken command to stay where he was. That
him just fine – he had no desire to look at dead bodies just now.
He took Dumbledore’s spot by the bed and stood there for a moment,
down at the small creature lying there. All he could see was the
under the blankets – except, of course, for the hair. The flame-red
He sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling very old and tired.
All he could do was look at that hair. It was flames; it drew him
a moth was drawn to a flame. Before he knew it, he had reached out
touched the hair that had spilled on the pillow. He drew back
as if the strands had burned him.
The little girl did not move. He gained courage from that, and
Such an innocent thing. Why hadn’t the Death Eaters done anything
her? The rest of the house was in ruins; this room was an island. An
sort of island.
No man is an island, Severus. Her hair was soft under his
He gently lifted a strand, scrutinizing it haphazardly, marveling at
texture created by a few simple, soft threads.
He looked down at her, at the girl he did not know, the girl who
inexplicably survived a vicious, unmerited attack, and he thanked
gods there were that he had never had children. Would never have
For looking at her was painful. She had survived the Death Eaters,
what would happen to her now? Did she have relatives who would take
in? Would she end up like Potter, shoved in a cupboard under the
Would something happen to her to make her like those craven bastards
had killed her parents?
He did not know. He knew that he could not know. And he wasn’t
that he wanted to know, even if he could.
There was something that he could do, though.
And as he sat on the edge of the little-girl bed, stroking the
smooth hair of its occupant, he offered up his thoughts to whatever
authority might be listening.
Are you up there? Are you anywhere?
I still haven’t decided what I think of you all – or if you
exist, as I don’t understand how you could exist and let
do things like this. You obviously didn’t care much about this
one, or you would have, at the worst, let her be killed along with
parents. It would have been kinder than having her awaken, as she no
will in a few hours, and find that the collective center of her
has disappeared forever.
If you don’t care about her, do it for me. Not, of course, that
deserve any favors – but it’s supposed to make a difference if
else asks for her, right? The more good thoughts, the merrier? Isn’t
how it’s supposed to work?
Let her know that her parents loved her. It’s obvious enough
this room – even someone like me can tell that. Let this be a lesson
her; let her realize and value her moments of happiness more because
this night. Don’t let her be angry and try to channel her anger into
extreme. The Aurors are, in their own way, almost as bad as the
Eaters. Extremists, all of them.
Don’t let her go to relatives like Potter’s. As much as I
the boy, he didn’t deserve a cupboard under the stairs. That aunt
uncle of his are what sometimes makes me think that the Dark Lord’s
weren’t all out of place. And this little girl – she deserves
She’s had enough hurt. Potter doesn’t remember his parents; she
Let her grow up. Let her be Sorted into a good House. Let her
old with someone who loves her. Let her be happy, despite this night
all the events that will happen because of it.
Let her know the peace that I never had.
Movement came from underneath his fingers. He withdrew his hand
The little girl slowly came awake. She yawned and turned towards
he could see a light dusting of freckles in the soft light from the
sconce. Her eyes blinked once, twice; she saw him and froze.
He sat, reserved, on the edge of her bed.
They regarded each other for a moment. He noted that she did not
to find him threatening – a first.
“Hello,” she said to him. It was almost an inquiry.
“Hello,” he said. It was almost an affirmation.
And with those particulars settled, she disentangled herself from
covers, sat in his lap, and hugged him.
He was shocked, but recovered enough to reciprocate the gesture.
this is what a child of mine would have felt like. He held her.
And she started to cry.
He stroked her hair.
And then his own tears came.
And that was how Albus Dumbledore found them a few minutes later –
dark man and the light child, entangled in a quiet, gently
oddly peaceful deluge.
The abstract, colorful drawings on the walls were a testimony to
had been; the fact of the man and the girl was a testimony to what
the pinched, worried, and yet serene look on the observant face of
Dumbledore was the testimony to what would be.