The clearing is sunlit and sweet-smelling.
All around him, flowers sway in a non-existent breeze, bright like jewels in the light of the sun. There is no sound but the whisper of petals brushing against each other.
He doesn’t belong here; he’s here all the same.
In the center, there is a girl.
She’s still enough to be a statue, and he might think she was but for the bruises on her legs, the scrape that spans one knee and glitters red with beads of blood. She takes a breath, and her chest rises and falls. Spread about her head like a halo, coils of black hair shine where they twine between the flower stems.
He drifts closer, bare feet falling silently against the ground.
“Hello, Voldemort.” She turns her head, opens her eyes to pin him with her gaze.
She doesn’t look surprised to see him.
“Angharad,” he greets her in turn.
She sighs, and the flowers sway. “You know, you’re the only one who calls me that.”
“And nothing.” She lets her eyes fall closed and arches into a stretch, one hand reaching up to tangle in her hair. “Come closer?”
This is the least combative he’s ever seen her. He obliges her.
She opens her eyes, watches him as he takes care not to trample the flowers. The green of her eyes is so much brighter up close.
“Sit,” she says once he’s close enough to loom, and he does.
“Where are we?” Voldemort asks.
“I’m not sure.” Harry turns her head to look out to the edge of the clearing. He resists the temptation to reach out and touch her bared throat, but only just. “I don’t think it’s real.”
He doesn’t often have time for wistfulness, not when he has a war to win, but this clearing, with its flowers and its silence... This girl…
He’d like to believe a place like this exists.
“Hmm.” She’s still looking away from him. “It is, isn’t it?”
If he thought she’d listen, he’d command her to look at him and him alone.
But he knows her.
He looks away because he has to. He’s seen her bruised and bloody, fallen to her knees before him. Screaming under his wand. Crying, but never begging. Never still. Never quiet.
To see her here, in this way…
It’s too much.
“Can you calm down, please?”
“Pardon?” His voice is soft, dangerously so, and just as he knows her, she is familiar enough with his moods to sense the change. But knowing is not the same as fearing.
She lets out a gusty sigh and turns to face him again, annoyed.
“You’re getting your emotions all over my flowers.”
When he looks to the clearing’s edge, he sees what she means. The flowers furthest from the center are fading, crumbling to ash and falling away. The sight is like a knife to his heart, but he doesn’t know how to stop it.
They’re only flowers.
This is only a dream.
Harry takes his hand.
“It’s okay,” she tells him. It’s an unexpected kindness.
He looks into her eyes and thinks he could drown in them, and suddenly he’s thankful for the glasses that usually adorn her face, if this is what her eyes alone can do to him.
“They’re dying,” he tells her, as if she doesn’t know.
Her hand is warm in his.
“Give it time,” she says, and she smiles just for him, “They’ll grow again.”