Love Lies Bleeding 6 of 6

The day of the battle came sooner than expected. It was clear and sunny, a picture-perfect spring day designed for picnics and perhaps a game of croquet, not a bloody pitched battle leaving mutilated bodies littering the lawn of Hogwarts.

After an hour or so, as I stood in Dumbledore’s office where Harry had left me and looked down over the horrific scene, I saw him fight his way to the front of the line. Dumbledore and Ron were beside him; Hermione and Cho, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin fought back-to-back just behind.

“It’s almost time,” I whispered to Fawkes, who sat on my shoulder. He looked at me gravely, and rubbed his head against my cheek for a brief moment. Then I left the office, went down the stairs, counting each step I made as I walked to the huge doors of the castle. Anything to take my mind off what I was about to do.

As I made my way through the battle, miraculously failing to get hit with a single curse, I saw Sirius blasted with a hex that ripped open his belly. He fell to his knees as blood and innards spilled from him and Remus howled in rage and anguish. Someone slipped by Cho and hit Hermione with an Avada; as her lifeless body hit the ground, Cho screamed and screamed.

“What are you doing here?” hissed a voice in my ear as a rough hand grabbed my arm with cruel, bruising force. The Death Eater’s mask was pushed back to reveal Draco Malfoy’s handsome face. “I was told you’d be away from the battle.”

“I can’t,” I tried to explain, but what does one say in such a situation. “I have to die.”

Draco’s eyes, stormy and grey, widened. “Are you mad?”

“Listen, Malfoy. I need you to do something for me. If you ever felt anything for me, I need this favour from you.” My hands were tight on his forearms, digging in with desperation. “I need you to kill me.”

“WHAT?” he roared. “You are mad.”

“Please, Malfoy!” I begged. “Harry can’t win until I lie bleeding in his hands. That’s what the prophecy says. Everyone else wants to protect me, but I can’t do it. I can’t do that to Harry!” I was sobbing now, tears making tracks in the dirt that had settled on my face. “He needs it to be over. He needs to end this.”

“I can’t,” Draco whispered finally. “I can’t do that to you, and I can’t help you end what I’m a part of.” He gestured at the battlefield around us. “We’re winning, you know.” He stared deeply into my eyes, begging for my understanding. “I can’t.”

“I can,” said a voice behind us as a stream of sickly green light arced forward and Draco slumped to the ground. Snape stepped over his student’s corpse and grabbed my arm to pull me toward Harry. “There’s not much time,” he told me through gritted teeth. He was limping, and his robes were wet with blood all down one side.

I searched frantically for Harry, saw him struggling on against Voldemort himself even as Ron stiffened with a shriek, Crucio being cast on him by Lucius Malfoy. Dumbledore looked in a bad way, bent almost double from pain and exertion, but somehow continuing to blast the enemy left and right.

“I am sorry about this, Miss Bones,” Snape said to me.

I nodded. “Do it.”

He wrenched open my robes and ripped open my shirt, revealing the unmarred skin of my midriff, then aimed his wand and muttered, “Abscido.” Instantly, a wide slice of skin was ripped from me. I bit through my lip in trying to keep from crying aloud, but the pain was unbearable and my scream echoed off the castle walls.

“Susan!” Harry shouted in the distance, and then I heard the thud of his footsteps as he deserted his opponent and ran to me. “Susan—Sue—what have you done?”

“What I had to,” I gasped as another wave of pain overcame me—the ragged edges of my wound seemed to be sizzling and crackling. Harry’s hands were drenched with my blood, and he could barely keep hold of his wand.

Snape sucked in his breath. “Dumbledore’s down,” he said flatly. “Potter, your moment is nigh.”

Harry refused to release me. “I won’t leave her.”

“Harry, please!” I entreated him.

Snape met Harry’s gaze calmly. “I will guard her,” he promised.

Harry stared back, finally nodding at his professor before turning to me. “Sue, I—“

“I know,” I interrupted him, unable to bear hearing it. “Now go. End this for us all.”

Harry Potter stood, covered in the blood of his lover and friends, and strode back to face his enemy.

Lucius Malfoy and the remaining Death Eaters left their master’s side and surrounded those of us still alive. Our pathetic numbers dwindled further until Snape turned to me and dropped a small flask into my hand. “Half for you,” he told me, dodging an Avada. “Half for Potter, if he makes it.”

“Why?” I demanded. “What are you going to do?”

Snape smiled at me then, a real smile. It crinkled his eyes and erased about fifteen years from his appearance, and he looked—handsome. Really, really handsome. “Just what I should have done years ago.”

And he straightened to his full height, smoothed his filthy robes, and strode directly toward the Death Eaters. “Lucius, old friend,” he said in that silken voice of his. “Allow me to thank you for your kindness over the years.” Snape shot the elder Malfoy with a blazing Avada, but scarcely spared a moment to watch the man’s body fall, taking out three more masked fighters before he zigged when he should have zagged, and got hit full in the back with an Avada himself. As he slumped to the blood-soaked dirt, his face still held that beatific smile, and something else—peace.

I pulled myself to hands and knees and crawled toward the multicolour flashes of light coming from Harry’s direction. He, Remus, and Cho were all hitting Voldemort with everything they had, and the Dark Lord was faltering, but not defeated.

“You cannot kill me, Harry Potter,” he was gloating, his high, cold voice horrible to hear. “All you hold dear will die because of your failure!”

My mind whirled as I thought desperately of what could have failed about the prophecy. Had it been false? Had Snape wounded me in vain? Could I have helped during the battle more? What else could I do now?

I staggered forward until I was collapsed directly behind Harry, and swiped my hand across the mess of my torso. When my palm was covered with a thick film of blood, I reached under the leg of Harry’s jeans and clasped my hand around his ankle, smearing his skin, feeling the hairs on his legs become sodden with it.

“Now, Harry,” I gasped, and fell face-first into the grass.

Avada Kedavra!” Harry roared, his entire body quivering from the force he put into the curse, and there was an eruption of light from his wand, green glowing sickly over the sky, the trees, the battered and weary faces of those who fought on. It hit Voldemort squarely in his narrow chest and flung him back into the Whomping Willow. If he hadn’t been dead then, he would be soon—the tree eagerly began ripping his body into pieces and strewing them around its base like gruesome confetti.

Seeing their master reduced to nothing more than grisly, dripping lumps of smoldering flesh had the predictable effect on the remaining Death Eaters, and they scattered. Remus and Cho took off after them, and Harry fell to his knees beside me.

“What’s that?” he asked, his voice rough, as if his throat was in tatters.

My vision was beginning to ebb at the edges, and I knew I was dying as I stared up at him, at his beloved face streaked with blood and tears and grime, and thought I’d never seen anything so beautiful. “Snape gave it to me. We’re supposed to drink half each.”

He uncorked it, smelled it. “Phoenix tears,” he said, disbelieving. “Phoenix tears!” he repeated.

“That’s nice, love,” I told him, smiling. Things were getting very fuzzy and indistinct. There was no more pain. All I knew was that Harry was with me, and that was enough.

“You have to drink this!” he was shouting at me from a great distance. “Susan!”

But I couldn’t move anymore, couldn’t open my mouth, couldn’t drink. He pried my jaw open and tipped the vial down my throat. It was salty and sweet at the same time, and thick, and I concentrated on the way it coated my stomach and tried not to writhe as Harry started touching my wound and the pain began lashing at me like a thousand whips.

“Shh, Sue,” he said soothingly. “I’m just putting some on you.”

I think I lay there a long time before I could move again, before the pain was negligible, but my vision was back to normal and I could hear regularly. Harry helped me sit up and I looked down at myself. Where the gaping hole in my belly had been was now a raw mass of red-pink scar tissue. I was drenched in my own blood from the waist down, and had about a bushel of dirt and grass drying into it.

I looked up at Harry, saw he was just as disgusting as I was, and smiled. “Hello, handsome,” I greeted him.

He let out a short bark of laughter. “Hello, beautiful. What’s a nice bird like you doing in a hell-hole like this?”

I stood on wobbly legs and let his strong arm round my waist support me, leaning heavily against him. “Oh, just bleeding to death so my boyfriend can save the world.”

“Wow,” Harry said, taking a tentative step with me toward the castle. “He must be quite the bloke for you to go to so much trouble.” In the distance, Remus saw us and began to approach.

“Oh, he is,” I said. “He’s a hero, and I love him, and love him, and love him.” I punctuated each phrase with kisses, and then fainted.

 I was twenty when I married Harry Potter.

With Sirius gone, the Weasleys made a home for him and, by extension, for me. Ron was gone, and Fred and Charlie, but Percy and Ginny and George and Bill had survived the battle and we all settled into a very comfortable, if crowded, life together.

Harry was scouted by the Pembroke Pistons but in honour of Ron signed up with the Chudleigh Cannons; I wasn’t really suited for anything, and contented myself to help Mrs. Weasley around the house. Ginny and I became fast friends, to our mutual surprise, and she stood up for me when I married Harry.

Our honeymoon was spent in Africa, and we watched the gazelles for hours at a time. The box in my mind slowly shrank in size until it was a barely-there memory of my childhood, and we created a life for ourselves.

I was twenty-three when we had our first child, a son we named Sirius Ronald. He had my chestnut-brown hair and Harry’s green eyes, and a surprisingly canine way of tilting his head when curious or mischievous, which was often.

I was twenty-five when our daughter was born, and she was called Lily Hermione. She was a dainty little thing with dark hair and my hazel eyes, and her godfather George Weasley called her his ‘sweet little heartbreaker’.

I was twenty-nine when I gave birth to our second son. On my insistence, and with much protest on Harry’s part, we named him Albus Severus, Sev for everyday. “Severus is a terrible name for a baby,” he grumped.

“Without a certain Severus, neither of us would be here today, and Sirius and Lily and Sev himself certainly wouldn’t be here right now,” I reminded him.

I was thirty-two when Mr. Weasley died. He’d been like a father to Harry and I, and we were devastated. The Burrow was swiftly becoming overcrowded as more and more grandchildren were born, and the Potter branch of the Weasleys we moved into our own home in Ottery St. Cathpole. Remus came to live with us.

I was thirty-four when Sirius attended his first year at Hogwarts. McGonagall had survived that fateful battle and ran the school with her usual velvet-gloved iron fist. Sirius was sorted to Ravenclaw, much to everyone’s surprise.

I was thirty-six when Lily went off to Hogwarts. To absolutely no one’s surprise, she became a Hufflepuff, but unlike her mother, it suited her to the floor. She was a gentle, loving soul with infinite patience and not a mean bone in her tiny body.

Sev, on the other hand… he was a chip off the old namesake, that one. I was forty when we packed him off to the castle, and could only laugh helplessly when the Sorting Hat shouted “Slytherin!” almost as quickly as it had for Draco Malfoy all those years ago.

“That’s it, then,” Harry muttered, greatly put out that not one of our brood had been sorted to Gryffindor. “We’ll just have to have another one.”

“Oh, I don’t think so!” said I, darting away from his frisky hands as he chased me round the house like the teenagers we’d once been, and Remus smiled indulgently at us.

I was seventy-two when Remus died. He himself was only ninety-three, rather young for a wizard, but the rigours of a life of lycanthropy had taken their toll on his body. He died with all of us surrounding him, Harry and Sirius holding his hands. His last words were, “I’ll tell them you said hello, Harry, shall I?”

I was one hundred and twelve years of age when Harry died. He could have lasted perhaps another decade if we’d wanted to artificially stretch out his life span, but Harry didn’t want to undergo invasive surgeries and medications and spellworks.

“I’ve had a good run, Sue,” he told me, his eyes just as green and beautiful as that African savannah. “You and the children take care.” His passing wasn’t as sad as I would have thought. The peace I’d almost died to bring him was his at last, and I knew we’d be together again. Until then, I kept busy with the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My time grows short now, I can tell. I have no fear. It’s easy to remember how I nearly died on that battlefield, how Harry cheated death by forcing phoenix tears down my throat. I recall the peace, the movement toward oblivion, and I know that Harry is there waiting for me, with my parents and his parents and Ron and Hermione and Sirius. And I know that it will be vast and free as Africa, and I will be a gazelle at last.