Disclaimer: not mine
Summary: If you just keep looking, maybe you'll find what you need.
Do you see him there? He travels between the stacks of this, his personal library. Books handed down through generations: fiction and high fantasy, biography and autobiography, grimoirs and grammaticas. On these shelves there are books in every language known to man. Any he doesn't already know how to read he will teach himself through charms and practice. This is his sanctuary and this is his home.
See there in the corner of the room? A bed has been made, and there is a couch set with pillows. A tall wing-backed chair with a small table for his meals sits. The table already has two books on it, one lying open above the other.
Look out side. See? The shadow is approaching. All must be made ready.
He has come here to research. Spells are needed, histories must be read, the past will not be repeated because he at least will learn from it.
The books rise up around him, leather cracked from age; the musty smell of old parchment and fading ink is everywhere.
The shadow comes ever closer. Already some have fallen.
"Terry? Terry, are you there?"
"Yes Terry, it's me. Terry, have you found what we need?"
"No, not yet. I've got to keep looking."
"Terry, it may not be here. The knowledge may have been los..."
"Don't say it! Knowledge is not lost, only misplaced. That's why there are books. And anything that could have been lost can be recreated with time."
"I don't know how much time we have."
"It will be enough."
The books are impassive. They don�t worry, they don't fret, they don't have joys or fears, they don't care. They simply are.
Glance into the corner. You see how the couch has been filled with books he has read. Some have markers in them, holding things of note, things that might be useful, things which are worth reading again. The bed is still made.
The table holds three books and a filthy tray. There are the remains of several meals, none of them properly cleaned. He didn't have time.
The books called to him.
Look through the window, high in the wall. It lets in a little light, but you get no real sense of the outside world through it.
Do you see? Do you see the flashes? Flashes of light through the darkness.
The shadow has come, the battle is joined. Will the shadow fall about the land forever?
The library is cold. The blankets have been pulled from the bed, and now you can see that he sleeps in the chair, blankets pulled tight around him. There are five books on the table now, and the tray has been moved to the floor. The books on have spilled over the edge of the couch and are stacked about the floor.
The smell of them seeps into his clothing. It follows him everywhere, and he revels in it.
The books are cold to, emotionless and distant. Only he understands them, and only they him.
"Boot! Boot, come out!"
"Have you got what we need?"
"Not yet Harry. I need more time."
"There is no more time Boot. If you don't have it now there's no more use searching for it. You're useless in here; we need you on the field. We need everyone on the field."
"I'm not useless in here. I will find it."
The visitor glares at the pale boy who haunts the library, then turns, striding angrily to the door.
He stops before he reaches the door. Without turning he answers. "She died three days ago."
And the visitor is gone. He turns, going back to his books. The books will never leave him.
Look outside. Do you see? Do you see the darkness? It grows thicker all over the land. I think, perhaps, the darkness will win.
His hair is longer, unkempt. His clothes are stained, and frayed. Look. Do you see the piles of books now? They cover his bed, sorted into specific piles. The table overflows with them. One sharp gust would knock that one there - the one balanced precariously on the Russian dictionary - to the ground.
There is not a breath of wind in the library.
The boy moves through it like a ghost, and only his breath disturbs the dust of ages.
Do you see? Do you see the pile of blankets on the floor? The books have taken his chair, and these are the most important. These, he thinks, will be the answer to his search.
Look out the window though. Do you see the darkness? See that there on the edge? What is that? A pale light has come to shine through the shadow, but it is so weak.
"Do you have it Boot?"
"Why are you here? You're not allowed here! You shouldn't even know of this place."
"We know much that Potter would wish we didn't. Tell me what you know." The researcher hesitates, and the visitor cries out. "Tell me! Do you have what Potter needs? Is it in this library? Have you found his secret?"
"Leave this place!"
"We'll burn it to the ground! We'll burn your library."
The thin, pale man with the aristocratic features looks disdainfully down his sharp nose at the ragged clothes of the researcher.
"Tell me if you have found it!"
His response is quiet, weak, a frightened admission. "No."
An almost hysterical laugh escapes the blond. "Potter should use you as a living shield, for all the use he gets of you."
When the blond is gone the researcher turns back to his books. His precious books will not be burnt, and he has time yet to find the answer.
He turns back to the books. They don�t frighten him.
Do you see? There on the table, that pile of books? It is the same as when last we looked. Do you see the dust that grows over them?
Look, the blankets have moved. They lie now below the stacks, the shelves of ancient wisdom towering over them.
See there, amongst the books? The boy is asleep. He has dropped where he stood, exhausted from his fruitless search. A book is clutched to his chest, its title unreadable by all but a handful of men still living on the earth.
He stirs in his sleep. Perhaps he dreams of finding that which he seeks. Maybe it will be in the next book.
See that there, through the window? Did you see that flash? So bright it even lit the library for just a moment. See the boy in the corner? He has slept through it.
Will the flash be strong enough to light the darkness? Will it lift the shadow?
The boy is sick, you can hear his cough. He turns the pages of a book, curled in a ball against the wall with the window.
Look up boy, look out. Do you see how the darkness lightens? Do you see how the room becomes brighter?
He doesn't look up, doesn't notice. He reads even as the candle he has lit flickers and dies. The light coming through the window is enough for him to continue to read, and he doesn't notice.
She walks through the stacks, gazing around. Her dark eyes take in the piles of books, stacked in methodical orders. She reads the titles, her fingers trailing through the dust of a shelf. Breathing in she smells the safely musty smell of old parchment and fading ink, and the set of her shoulders slowly relaxes.
She comes upon his living corner, and sees the piles of books that have taken over. Picking one up she opens it to the marker, reading the notes he has written on a sheet stuck inside. Her head nods almost unconsciously before she closes the book to go seeking the researcher.
"Terry?" she calls as she rounds a corner. She spots him, sitting cross-legged against one of the shelves, pouring over another book. "Terry," she says again.
He looks up, surprised to see anyone.
"Hermione?" He blinks, then closes the book. "Tell Harry I'm close. I think I've almost got it."
Her eyes tighten, and the smile vanishes from her face. "Give it up Terry," she says.
"No! I swear I've almost got the answer. It's all coming together, and with a few more days..."
"There are no more days Terry. The war is over." He blinks at her, and she sighs. "We won. It's all done with." He still looks as though he can't even begin to comprehend what she has said. Her voice is angry now. "The war is over Terry! You can come out now - it's safe."
"But... but... my notes. I... I've almost got it."
"No Terry. We didn't need it."
His eyes shutter closed and his shoulders slump. He looks as though he's caving in on himself.
She has no sympathy. Her fingers trail along the side of the shelf, dancing across the spines of the books. She has seen the fighting and dying. She knows what the battle cost them all. Glancing up she sees the small window, and through it she sees the sun shining. "This is why I wasn't sorted into Ravenclaw," she says quietly, before turning away from the slumped boy and heading for the exit.