What, after all, is a halo?
It’s only one more thing to keep clean.
--Christopher Fry, The Lady’s Not For Burning
And suddenly the room was awash with flames, tall and bright as they lapped hungrily at the ceiling and danced along dry walls, consuming quickly and moving on. Smoke billowed behind them, thick and black it engulfed Snape before bounding forwards again to pounce on the prone figure of Harry, swirling round him playfully as he coughed weakly. A shadow moved amidst the blackness though, a shape that grew as it approached soundlessly and Harry stumbled backwards, falling hard on his rear and scrabbling back into the hallway.
‘Tonks,’ he shouted hoarsely, his voice cracked and feeble against the high ceiling, eyes squinting against the bright light that streamed in from outside. Tendrils of smoke followed him, wrapping themselves round his arms and ankles as he rolled over and pushed himself to his knees before shouting again. ‘Tonks!’
Gentle hands looped under his arms, pulling Harry upright as he tried to clear his lungs, the smoke having left the back of his throat gritty and painful and tasting absolutely foul. ‘What happened here son?’ Harry looked up through watering eyes to the concerned face of Thomas, relief mingling itself with blind panic.
‘Snape,’ he choked out, falling forward into the old mans embrace and resting his head lethargically against his shoulder. It was pathetic, he knew, but his head felt too heavy for anything else. ‘He burnt Professor Dumbledore.’
‘Where is he now?’ There was no doubt that he believed Harry, no questioning of the accusation as Harry pointed a trembling finger back to the open doorway, the room beyond obscured by the black cloud.
‘The flames were so big and the smoke just kind of surrounded him,’ Harry’s voice was starting to shake, his eyes wide and fearful as he sucked in a shuddering breath, burying his face back into the robes in an attempt to hide the dampness on his cheeks. He could hear others in the distance, closing in and moving round him with hushed comments. It all seemed surreal though, like a dream. Perhaps it was a dream, he considered. It certainly seemed a much nicer option than the only other one, in which his single hope of returning home, of even surviving, had just betrayed him. He started when a voice sounded by his ear, looking up into the face of a young man whose lips were moving in urgent conversation with Thomas, although Harry couldn’t make out the words.
It wasn’t a dream though. He knew it. He was here now and he was going to die.
Reality jolted back ruthlessly, the mans frantic words coming into sharp focus as Harry tried to pry himself loose of the arms that held him, wanting nothing more than to find somewhere small and dark to hide, to follow the last instructions given to him and run until he was far, far away. ‘Go find Tonks,’ Thomas instructed the man, his grip remaining firm as Simon nodded. ‘And take Harry with you. Make sure he gets somewhere safe.’
‘What about Snape?’ Harry demanded as he was handed over, swatting at the hands that held him.
‘I’ll deal with him,’ Thomas said firmly.
‘Go!’ With a renewed grip that pinched his skin unpleasantly Harry found himself hauled backwards along the corridor, feet dragging on the floorboards as he was moved away from the commotion and the noise. The first step hit the back of his heel, leaving an insistent throb as he threw himself towards the banisters and away from the constricting presence with a small noise of frustration, hanging limply across the railings. He couldn’t find the strength to move again though, as he stared helplessly at the grain of the wood, following the pattern with his eyes as he waited. He didn’t have to wait long as a gentle hand on his shoulder made him jump, pulling him back round with a sympathetic look.
‘Let’s go.’ Harry allowed himself to fall back into the mans arms, although the grip was much more gentle this time as his arm was swung over the narrow shoulders and Simon made unsteady progress up the stairs, not once looking behind him even when he reached the landing at the top.
‘Tonks,’ Simon shouted loudly, pushing open the nearest door with his foot to peer into the empty room beyond. ‘Where is she?’ he asked to no one in particular as Harry glared at the person he was quickly coming to view as his captor, sounding irate before shouting again. ‘Tonks!’
‘What?’ She appeared in a doorway at the other end of the hall, looking sleepy and tousled as Simon heaved Harry down the narrow corridor, Tonks stepping aside to allow his entrance into the room. Harry winced as his arm grazed the splintered doorframe as Simon lurched through, and he all but fell onto the small bed with him as Harry was dropped ungracefully onto the worn mattress, Simon looking mildly apologetic over the rough handling before looking to Tonks.
There was no greeting, no exchange of pleasantries. Not even a nod of acknowledgment. Simon’s gaze turned reproving in an instant as he regarded her with open hostility. ‘Snape destroyed the portrait,’ he said flatly, crossing his arms, his whole stance accusing as he looked expectantly to Tonks to fix the mess he felt she had created.
Simon looked confused and a touch suspicious at the question, delivered with no hint of apology for bringing someone so dangerous into their midst and no guilt or even a sense of responsibility for the loss. ‘What does it matter?’ He blurted out incredulously. ‘He almost burnt the whole damn place down!’
‘With himself in the room?’ Tonks looked unimpressed, sitting down on the springy bed next to Harry and carefully wiping some of the soot from his face with a small smile. ‘That really doesn’t sound like the Snape I know.’
‘Pointless destruction sounds very much like the Snape I know though,’ Simon continued heatedly, pacing away with a snort of anger when Tonks’ failed to respond.
‘I saw something moving in there still,’ Harry interrupted tiredly. ‘I don’t think he’s dead.’
‘Of course he isn’t,’ Simon scoffed from across the room. ‘The man is no idiot.’
Harry’s forehead creased as he tried to decipher the hidden meaning behind the comment and failed, tiredness fogging his mind. ‘Then why stay in there?’
‘To make sure,’ Tonks said softly, her hand stilling on Harry’s cheek as she stared blankly through him with sudden comprehension. Simon stepped forward, bending down before her and placing a hand on her knee to get her attention as Tonks head snapped round to look at him, expression aghast.
‘Sure of what?’
‘That Albus had nowhere else to go this time.’ She looked back to Harry. ‘I made a mistake, we have to get out of here.’
‘Where will we go?’ Harry didn’t really care anymore. Oddly enough an image of the Dursley’s sprang to mind, and he found himself longing for the small cupboard under the stairs. Not that he could hide there from Snape now, not since Snape had found out about it. A small, hysterical laugh escaped his lips at the increasingly likely prospect that the house wasn’t even standing anymore.
‘For the minute just away will do.’ Tonks cast Harry a worried glance, looking from him to Simon. ‘I don’t ask you to come with us. In fact, if you do, it may well prove to be all but signing your death warrant.’ She cast a weak lightening charm on Harry, running across the room to retrieve his cloak which she wrapped carefully round his shoulders, helping him back to his feet. ‘But I’m giving you the choice. If you want to come I won’t say it wouldn’t be of help.’
Simon looked unsure, chewing his bottom lip nervously. ‘Oh, stuff it,’ he eventually declared. ‘The Dark Lords most senior servant is currently running round loose downstairs. Exactly how much more dangerous can it be?’
‘The Dark Lord himself will be after us,’ Tonks offered with blunt honesty she instantly regretted as Simon’s eyes widened in disbelief and fear.
‘For a boy?’
‘If I find the time, I’ll explain it.’ She drew her wand with her free hand, adjusting Harry into a position where she could more easily defend him and looking to Simon for his final decision, watching as he swallowed loudly, his answer written clearly on his expression. ‘You can still back out, I won’t hold it against you,’ she offered as Simon glanced guiltily at Harry.
‘I’ll help you out of here at least,’ he said, although his heart wasn’t in it. ‘I don’t know that I’d be any use to you against Him though.’ Tonks nodded in understanding, keeping her disappointment well hidden.
‘We have to be quick,’ she moved across the room, scanning the hallway outside before gesturing for Simon to follow. ‘You can follow us to Diagon Alley, where you go from there is up to you.’ They ran as quickly as they could with Harry towards the stairs, footsteps light as they strained for any sound below. There was nothing though, just an eerie and compressive silence. There was no one and nothing in sight too, as they paused warily at the top of the stairs, descending slowly whilst trying to watch every corner.
‘Is that?’ Tonks pointed with the tip of her wand to the body that lay crumpled on a grimy rug, approaching cautiously.
‘It’s Thomas,’ Simon said flatly, looking round the nearby hallway as Tonks helped Harry to sit on the bottom step before kneeling down next to the body to press a finger lightly against where his pulse should have been. She grasped his hand, which was cold and stiff as Simon hovered uncertainly over her shoulder. ‘Dead?’
‘Killing Curse,’ Tonks confirmed, pushing herself upright and swiping at her burning eyes with the back of her hand.
‘Why?’ The question hung unanswered between them as Tonks could do nothing more than shrug. ‘We were never any threat, not really.’
Snape stepped out of the shadows, face streaked with soot, robes singed and burnt and still steaming slightly, crackling as he moved and crossed his arms, sneering disdainfully.
‘I couldn’t agree with you more.’
Thomas watched silently, waiting as Harry disappeared out of sight then waiting a little longer to ensure he was also out of earshot. Tonks didn’t need the boy to be any more panicked than he all ready was, and he couldn’t get her light hearted declaration of Harry’s importance out of his head. The one who could defeat the Dark Lord, she had called him, and even now it still seemed ridiculously implausible. But no more so than having Severus Snape hiding amidst the smoky and destroyed ruins of the place he had come to call home.
And all around him those he had come to consider his family were milling desperately, some aiming water charms through the doorway into the blackened room, which hit with a loud hissing and a cloud of burning steam. Grabbing one by the shoulder he spun them round to face him. He knew their names, of course, but he actually knew very few of them. He feared he would never now have the chance.
‘Get everyone out of here.’
‘We still have to put the fire out,’ it was argued desperately, by one who had failed to grasp the overwhelming danger and instead chosen to focus on one much smaller and potentially conquerable. ‘It’ll spread to the rest of the house.’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ Thomas shook the person hard. ‘You must all leave whilst you still can. Don’t worry about taking anything,’ Thomas added upon seeing the intention of the other. ‘Objects can be replaced, you cannot.’ He waited with wide eyes for a response, some indication that the command had sunk in as the man nodded once sharply, spinning round to bellow at those around at the top of his voice.
‘Get to the nearest fireplace!’ The shout was obeyed in a way only known by the truly terrified, as people hurried past anxiously, their footsteps retreating down the hallway as Thomas edged towards the open door, squinting in an attempt to make out anything amidst the smoke and steam.
‘I know you’re still in there Snape,’ he shouted through the doorway, the dust swirling itself into invisible shapes. A mild dispelling charm cleared it slightly though, enough so that he could make out the figure stalking towards him, rising swiftly out of the ashes. ‘Didn’t like what the old man had to say, I take it.’ Snape stepped out into the hallway, face carefully blank with the calmness of one who has traversed the seas of rage and emerged not unscathed, but whole, onto the serene waters beyond.
‘More fool me for believing him finally dead when I destroyed his other one.’ Snape looked casually down the hallway towards the muffled voices and exclamations of the others, quirking an eyebrow with amusement. ‘They cannot leave, I sealed the floo,’ he offered, his tone mocking with helpfulness.
‘And Dumbledore is gone for good?’ Snape just nodded. ‘I take it that all of us here are next,’ Snape inclined his head in silent affirmation as Thomas sighed. ‘So ends the resistance.’
‘If you can call it that,’ Snape sniffed dismissively. ‘Hardly seems worth the effort though.’
‘I spoke with Albus a couple of times,’ Thomas seemed to be talking to himself. ‘Never had the chance to meet him before, when he was actually alive. He spoke very highly of you though,’ Snape’s lip twitched with annoyance almost imperceptibly as Thomas tilted his head in consideration. ‘It strikes me as fortunate that the dead do not suffer disappointment.’ Fire lit itself behind Snape’s black eyes as they glittered menacingly.
‘Do not speak of what you could never hope to understand.’
‘Tonks likes to think she has me wrapped round her little finger,’ the tangent seemed to quell Snape momentarily, diluting his anger with age-old irritation. ‘And she does, to a degree.’ He looked up to Snape, straightening his hunched shoulders purposefully. ‘But I would never risk the lives of all those here purely on her word alone.’
‘Then I suppose I do owe Albus at least some thanks,’ Snape crossed him arms grudgingly, wand hanging loosely from his fingers. It was all Thomas could do not to reach out and snatch the deadly temptation it was no doubt meant to be. ‘For it seems he managed to convince you to let me in.’
Thomas tore his gaze away from the wand, flashing Snape a look of condemnation. ‘And you betrayed him.’
‘I am merely repaying the favour.’ Snape commented flatly, seemingly unaffected by the look of pity Thomas gave him.
‘Dumbledore did more for you than you ever realised.’
‘He did more for me than he ever realised himself,’ Snape corrected.
‘Were it not for him your future would have been very different,’ he jabbed a finger towards Snape, who looked at it with amused incredulity. ‘Were it not for him you may not have had a future at all.’ Snape’s hand shot out like a snake, his fingers curling round Thomas’ neck with horrifying finality.
‘That may well be true,’ Snape snarled angrily.
‘He kept you from the Dementors. He vouched for you,’ Thomas’ words were spluttered with condemnation. ‘He saved you from a sentence in Azkaban.’
‘Only to sentence me somewhere far worse himself.’
‘My Lord,’ Snape bowed low, his teaching robes brushing the floor, face unprotected without the mask to hide behind any longer. It had been left at the school, along with every other possession he owned. No doubt the next Potions Master would inherit the rooms and do with them as they saw fit, but Snape was certain they would never be seen by him again. They were, at the end of the day, merely possessions though. Books could be replaced, and home could be found in the darkest of places. What he had lost was something far more valuable, and infinitely more indefinable.
‘I did not call for you.’ A statement weighted with curiosity that rang uncomfortably close to concern.
‘No, My Lord. I have come of my own accord, seeking sanctuary.’
‘Sanctuary?’ A vague tickle of amusement played at the words. ‘With me?’
‘Yes, My Lord.’
‘From what would you have me hide you?’
‘From Dumbledore; he suspects me.’ Snape paused, the pressing silence demanding he continue. ‘I seek to rejoin the fold, no longer under hiding and pretences, no longer as a potential spy. I wish to do your work with honour, for people to forever know my name as belonging to you.’
‘A noble sentiment.’ Voldemort said lightly. ‘But I all ready have many followers willing to act in my name. I have no other so well hidden in the ranks of the enemy, however.’
‘A position that is no longer necessary. Potter has disappeared, there is little more I can do there now.’ It wasn’t Cruciatus. That would have been too simple, too easy. That would have been expected. And whilst one can never become accustomed to the pain of the curse, one can become accustomed to its use; one can glean an inkling of sanity in knowing when to expect it. And as his body had tensed in anticipation of it, so the pain of the true punishment had hit him even harder. His all ready tense muscled constricted even further, so that the slightest movement felt as though they might snap as a burning trail sliced down his chest, the gnash from the curse of his own invention pulled open as his body continued to tighten mercilessly, leaving him unable to breath, unable to scream.
‘You presume to tell me what I no longer need?’ Snape could not respond. ‘You presume to think you know better than myself where my loyal servants may best be used.’ The curse that had restricted his body was released, as Snape pushed himself to his knees so as to better fill his burning lungs. Another curse shattered the bones in his wrist though, as he toppled back to the ground. ‘I do not recall giving you permission to rise.’
‘Forgive me, My Lord,’ gasped through clenched teeth as Snape fought the rising giddiness, the room swimming before his eyes. ‘I merely wish to serve.’
‘So you have said, even though you have never said before.’
‘But My Lord, I thought…’ It was the Cruciatus this time, pure and powerful as Snape writhed with pain, unconsciously cradling his broken hand as best he could.
‘You thought you could come seeking information?’ Voldemort challenged angrily, leaning forwards in accusing confrontation. ‘Dumbledore is blind and dumb, so he sent you to give him light. Look at me’
‘No, My Lord.’ Barely a whisper as turned his head and felt a presence plunge into his mind, with no finesse or grace, just reckless and indifferent determination to know what was within.
‘You protect your thoughts well, it would seem,’ Snape grimaced as the Dark Lord gave a threatening push against the walls of his sanity, the warning shot across his bow. ‘How much more have you hidden from me?’
‘I hide nothing!’ He could feel the presence still sifting, searching for the walls Snape kept so well hidden. He would not search for long though, sooner destroying everything than risking a potential lie remain intact and unfound.
‘Always walked the line, haven’t you Severus,’ the Dark Lord said softly. ‘Between light and dark, never quite in the shadows yet not quite illuminated.’ Another slice appeared down Snape’s arm as his head pounded, focus wavering again and blurred until it was snapped back to reality with a muttered Enervate. ‘Spies are always useful, but one learns not to trust them explicitly. Duplicity is, after all, in their very nature.’
‘I have always been loyal to you,’ he was begging, words choked and desperate, and for once it was not because the act required it. He was begging because he knew his very life was stumbling precariously along a narrow ledge; he was begging because he did not want to die. ‘He has doubted me for some time now, and with the disappearance of the boy I have become no more than a liability, a risk he is not willing to take.’ Snape allowed a memory to float to the surface, tinged with hatred and sadness that gave him little difficulty to manifest, on his hands and knees as he sacrificed his very dignity for an old man. Do not give me reason to doubt.
‘And what reason did you give him?’ Where the Dark Lord did not suspect betrayal, there was failure waiting in its place. The punishment for the latter, however, would not be death. He would merely wish it were.
‘I do not know.’
‘Then you shall have all the time you need to find the answer.’
The curse left the tip of his wand with barely a whisper, the green light reflecting from the walls as he released the crumpled body, a line of faint bruises littering the neck as Thomas fell to the floor with a dull and empty thud and Snape stormed purposefully towards the frantic voices in the distance.
‘Why didn’t you just kill Harry when you found him?’ Tonks demanded, Snape’s surprised look at the question warping into a patronising smile as he shook his head with slow condescension.
‘Would you have brought me here without him?’
Tonks looked aghast, positioning herself between Harry and the advancing figure as she flourished her wand threateningly. ‘You went through all of this,’ she had to ask; needed to confirm the reasoning behind the extremes he had gone too. ‘You sliced up your own damn arm just to get here?’
‘The resistance must be crushed, and it must be done so silently, as if it never existed.’ Snape replied simply. ‘Your deaths will not act as kindling. We wouldn’t want to give people ideas now, would we?’ With a light smile Snape effortlessly stunned Simon, who had been slowly sidling behind him, advancing on Tonks with sudden purpose as she held her wand with stiff determination.
‘Avada,’ she was cut off with a heated silencing charm as Snape blocked the wordless binding curse she immediately sent his way, closing the last of the gap that separated them. She stumbled backwards, her back hitting the post of the banisters, Snape so close she could feel the hotness of his breath on her face, could smell the singed ends of his lank hair.
‘Now, that wasn’t very charitable of you,’ he said softly next to her ear, grasping her wrist and wrenching it backwards cruelly even as Tonks opened her mouth in silent pain, fingers weakening round her wand as she twisted her body in an attempt to relieve the burning pressure on her arm. Her free hand clawed desperately at thin air until it found purchase, as she elongated her nails with a grunt of concentration and scoured them mercilessly down the underside of his bandaged arm, feeling them rip through the fabric and dig into the flesh beneath. Snape hissed loudly, jerking it away protectively as he redoubled his grip, fingers turning white until her wand fell to the floor with a clatter. ‘Out of practise, aren’t you?’ he jeered furiously, the pain from his mark sending shooting sparks prickling under his skin.
‘Leave her alone,’ Harry demanded, his hand sliding its way up the rail to drag himself to his feet, his own wand drawn and pointing at Snape who merely considered him with vague boredom.
‘I would be more careful if I were you Potter, since it appears your usefulness has run out.’
Harry didn’t back down. ‘Let her go.’
‘No.’ Snape had been expecting the stunner Harry threw, the incantation hovering at the front of the boys mind for a moment before it was fired, as Snape disarmed him in quick retaliation, the wand rattling on the floor before lying still between the two of them as Snape winced, Tonks foot connecting with his shin. Yanking her ungraciously and almost off her feet Tonks cried silently, fighting desperately against him.
In times like these hope can be drawn from only one place; that the person who holds your life in their hands has even an inkling of self-doubt, a cause for hesitation. For they will hold from killing you, and when death hovers seconds away every second is truly a gift in and of itself. For with every moment you live comes with it the thought that you could continue to live until the moment after.
Snape did not doubt as the air tinged green. He did not doubt as he turned towards Harry.
Harry was not there. Nor was his wand.
The staircase was empty, the hallway deathly silent as Snape surveyed his surroundings with narrowed eyes.
‘Potter,’ he said cautiously, taking a careful step forwards. ‘This behaviour is foolish and altogether pointless,’ Snape peered under a nearby table before looking round for any other immediate and obvious hiding place. ‘I have warded the exits, so no one can leave, and there is no one left to help you, not to mention that you are barely capable of protecting yourself.’ Still nothing, the silence seemed to ridicule him as Snape’s anger grew once again and he clenched his teeth in annoyance, stalking forwards until he reached the bottom of the staircase, wand held protectively in front of him.
The tiniest of sounds, a soft thud on carpet and his head snapped upwards, glaring towards the floor above as Snape leapt forwards, all but running up the staircase, robes trailing behind him in a cloud of dust.
The curse shot weakly through the half open door as Snape deflected it with a casual flick of his wand, striding forwards, eyes filled with hatred.
‘It won’t work, Potter,’ he offered with a smirk as the disarming charm came hurtling towards him. ‘If schoolyard spells could defeat a Death Eater the War would have been over a very long time ago.’ There was no response, which served only to enrage Snape further as he blew the door from its hinges with a powerful Reducto, stepping over the splinters and casting a superior gaze around the room. Harry stood in the corner, leaning heavily against he wall, wand aimed threateningly in front of him.
‘Don’t come near me.’
‘Or what?’ Snape quirked an eyebrow mockingly.
‘I’m not afraid to hurt you,’ Harry’s voice quivered only slightly as he said it, his head held high with determination.
‘Perhaps not, but you are incapable.’ Snape barely moved his wand, redirecting the stunner that flew towards him. ‘Not to mention painfully predictable.’ Harry ducked as a Blasting Hex tore a chunk out of the wall by his shoulder. ‘If you don’t lower your wand now, the next one will be aimed at your head.’ Harry looked up from his crouched position, breathing heavily as he glared, pushing himself back to his feet as one hand reached out to the wall for support, the other extending his wand back out.
‘Avada,’ Harry started, his voice deep and menacing as Snape chuckled quietly.
‘How typically Gryffindor of you,’ he said with mirth. ‘Go ahead, finish it if you want. I doubt even the Boy Wonder could manage to inflict anything more than a mild headache.’ He stood absolutely still for a moment as if waiting as Harry swallowed nervously. ‘Didn’t think so, somehow,’ Snape snarled, tired of the game as he swept forwards, closing the gap between them. Harry jumped violently at the swift movement, flourishing his wand once again, fear and fury fuelling his determination.
Brief surprise crossed Snape’s face, stopping him in his tracks as the pale light hit him squarely in the chest, although it was nothing to the look of horror that flashed across Harry’s. His wand dropped, his mouth hanging open aghast as he stepped gingerly forward, his voice a hushed and anxious whisper. ‘Snape?’
‘Not dead, if that is your concern,’ Snape ground out against the pounding of his head as his thoughts swam nauseatingly, opening his eyes which had momentarily screwed themselves shut to glare at the boy. ‘It was stupid of you not to run.’
Harry darted forwards, stumbling as he lost the support of the wall and almost falling to his knees, backing warily away as Snape cornered him, panic rising in his chest in a series of gasping breaths. ‘You really are an idiot,’ Snape admonished, more to himself than anything as Harry raised his wand one final time, a different spell briefly flashing through his mind as Snape stared at him in disbelief. ‘Quite the thing you seem to have for Unforgivables too.’
The figure barrelled into Snape from behind and they hit the floor with a thud, rolling over on the wooden floor as both scrambled for control, leaving Harry frozen against the far wall. Snape managed to lift his wand, aiming in his rough direction before Simon slammed the hand back down to the floor with all his strength, the sound of breaking bones reverberating around them, drawing a grimaced and muttered curse from Snape, who bucked desperately in an attempt to dislodge the figure holding him down.
‘For gods sake Harry,’ Simon yelled, snapping him from his stunned stupor as he stared at the unfolding scene. ‘Get out of here,’ Harry swallowed, nodding nervously as he skirted round the edge of the room, all too aware of Snape’s eyes following his every move and even more aware of how small and slight Simon seemed in comparison, struggling with all his weight to prevent the man from rising for as long as he could. The door seemed so far away now though, and Harry didn’t feel any stronger, his legs almost numb beneath him so he had to look down to verify they were still a part of him. He all but hung from the wardrobe as he passed it, cursing his body for being so weak as he forced himself back onto feet that no longer felt even a part of him.
‘He won’t get very far,’ Snape’s voice floated towards him, cold and taunting as Harry turned back to the scene, Simon wrestling to stay on top. He realised it too late though, all his energy going into keeping Snape’s wand hand down and out of commission, too tired to attempt any more and unable to reach for his own wand. Harry opened his mouth to warn him as Snape managed to work his other hand free from where Simon had trapped it beneath his leg, pushing himself upright and dislodging the slender figure.
‘No!’ Simon yelled as a fist connected with his jaw, sending him sprawling to the side and spotting his vision as he pushed himself to his knees and lurched blindly back towards Snape, feeling the brush of fabric against his fingers and grasping it tightly before hauling with all his strength so that Snape found himself collapsed back on the floor, a foot connecting painfully with his ribs and taking away his breath. If he couldn’t breath then he couldn’t incant, at least not anything deadly. Snape didn’t need to though, as he glanced towards Harry as though checking for something, smiling lightly and victorious as he raised his wand and gasped painfully.
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