The Samhain Bonfire took flame, rivaling the stars overhead.
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42. “At the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons—all part of the dark and dread.”
The Blood Moon hung almost full and heavy, pregnant with portent and prophecy. The bonfire flared to life with a whoosh of air and a shower of sparks. Harry stared at Draco, their faces becoming graven masks in the wavering firelight.
“He’ll come this year, Draco. He has to,” Harry said in a tight whisper.
Draco stared into the heart of the bonfire, his cheeks finally pink even if it was only from the flames’ reflection on his gaunt skin. He turned slowly, his cane dragging slightly in the grass. “If he doesn’t, I don’t want you to be sad.” He turned back to the bonfire and carefully, painfully conjured a tree stump to sit upon.
Harry moved closer, his glasses reflecting the Blood Moon and the Samhain bonfire. He put his hand on Draco’s thin shoulder and just petted the velvet. His tears were silent reflections on his cheeks.
The light drew them. While there was no sense of passing time Beyond the Veil, the ripple of awareness that the Veil was thinning moved them. As the spirits became more attentive, a small group flew towards the hilltop where two men waited.
Even in their deaths they could feel the pain that hovered over the pair. One was close to joining them, close to making this same journey. The other burned brightly in his own right, a pillar of green and crimson magic that shone more brightly than the Samhain Bonfire.
Harry’s eyes widened and his fingers tightened slightly on Draco’s shoulder. A dark slit seemed to open on the other side of the bonfire. Spectral hands appeared, pushing at the space until a rough arch floated in the air. Sirius Black tumbled out but was pulled back by James and Lily Potter; they all smiled at Harry, Lily even blew her son a kiss. It was the other two—Severus Snape and Remus Lupin—who stepped through, scribing a faint warding at the doorway.
“You came.” Draco’s voice was reedy and weak. Harry helped him stand as the ghosts came around the bonfire widdershins. “Thank you for heeding my call.”
Severus stared at his former student and the former bane of his existence. The flames gave him a rosy hue that he’d never had in life. “Why did you wait so long?” he asked. Lupin’s elbow passed through his ribs in rebuke.
“We have been calling for five years.” Harry put his arm around Draco, uncaring if his lover’s pride was hurt or not. “You seem to be hard to reach, Snape. Like you always were.” Remus’ ghostly chuckle seemed to shed light around the hilltop.
“We know why we’re here, Harry. Blame me for the delay,” Remus said sheepishly. “We had to find Albus, who then took us to Hippocrates, who is a voluble windbag. After that, we had to find Lily—brightest witch of her generation, remember—to help Severus with his spell construction.” He came close enough to cast a chill over Harry and Draco. He pushed his hands into Draco’s chest before Harry could move, the sight of his arms up to the elbow inside Malfoy’s body making him pale in surprise.
“What are you doing?” Harry reached out, forgetting Remus was insubstantial, and only swatted at the night air. Draco bit his lip at the invasion, his nose rising up in haughty disregard.
“He’s touching the damned thing eating my insides, Harry. If there’s one of us here who should be flustered, it’s me.” Draco slanted a mischievous look at Harry, reminiscent of their younger years. “Since I’m not blubbering like a Gryffindor, do be strong like a Slytherin.”
Laughing out loud, Severus glided closer, close enough to partially float through Harry’s arm. “Mr. Malfoy is correct, Potter. The chill you feel is not of the grave. It is of Beyond, of the greater magicks we puny beings forgot long ago.” He withdrew from Harry’s side, taking the strange chill with him.
“Remus must find the limits of the cancer. The only way to do so is to reach inside Draco.” Severus crossed his arms, his voice soft as he watched his phantom lover trying to save Harry Potter’s.
“Can you save him?” Harry asked just as softly. Remus’ murmured questions and Draco’s thin replies wafted away on a soft breeze. “He’s a good man.”
“Potter, while I wouldn’t cross the street to save your life again, Remus truly has a heart of a lion, and the knowledge of five thousand years stuffed in his head. We have gone over everything, and your mother…” Severus looked down his long nose at Harry, a spark arcing through his head to fall down his hazy robes. “Lily made damned certain that Draco would be healed and you would have your love.”
Remus’ voice rang out. “Severus! Severus, we need to cast the spell! The moon’s paling and the cancer is twisted inside.” Severus floated swiftly through Harry, without even a sneer, to come to rest behind Draco’s back. Remus looked over Draco’s shoulder, a piercing glance that had Severus reaching forward, his arms up to the elbows inside the younger wizard.
The bonfire huffed as the burnt wood shifted under the weight of the logs. Sparks exploded up in a fountain as Draco shifted between the ghosts digging through his innards, the muffled words of magic in an ancient tongue shining around him and Severus and Remus.
The Samhain fire burned brighter and brighter, unnaturally so. The ghosts at the archway reflected the fire’s varying colors, a haze of something seeping out into the world. Harry had to look away for a moment and met his mother’s eyes. She smiled and nodded, mouthing We love you! at him. His father nodded as Sirius’ tight grin widened. The sounds of the ancient spells faded.
“You should take him home, Mr. Potter.” Severus’ form seemed to gain substance and cool hands turned Harry more fully to see Draco—pale but smiling—leaning on Remus’ shoulder. “We can only maintain these forms for a bit more and I promised Lupin a trip to Teddy’s sixth All Hallow’s Eve.” Harry barely heard the words as he rushed to Draco’s side, his own magic feeling Draco’s now-untainted power reaching out.
Harry’s tears came back, but he smiled through them. “Thank you again, Professor Snape.” He stuck out his hand and felt Snape’s barely-there fingers curl over his in a clasp. Remus’ hug pulled all four of them together for a wonderfully magical moment.
The gated archway flared with light and Sirius tumbled out once more. “C’mon, Snape, Moony said we could run to Teddy’s!” he shouted.
Severus shook his head and rolled his eyes. “We don’t want to disappoint Teddy, Remus. And that blasted mutt has the look of mischief on his face.” He stared deeply into Harry’s eyes and then without a sound was on the other side of the bonfire.
“You’ll both need to rest for a few days, Harry.” Remus smirked, eerily channeling Severus’ patented ‘happy look’. “In case Severus didn’t tell you, we tied the strongest spell to the most powerful wizard we could find.” He backed away with a grin, his legs turning backward as he slowly changed into Moony. “We couldn’t resist, Harry!” he yelled just before his mouth changed to that of one with fangs and a lolling tongue.
“Happy Samhain, Harry! A blessed All Hallow’s Eve, Son!” James and Lily cried. They all waved goodbye as a breeze blew over the hilltop, scattering the archway and speeding them on their way.
“It seems you’re stuck with me still, Potter,” Draco whispered into Harry’s throat.
“Suits me, Malfoy, right down to the ground,” Harry replied. “We might just be as happy as Snape and Remus. You never know.”
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