A/N: This passage came to me a while ago, and I've been waiting for a good opportunity to use it. Looking back over it, I realized it fit into the tone of Broken Smiles perfectly. Try not to be too confused – it's explained at the end. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy it.

"Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be."

-Alexander Pope

A Faultless Piece
The empty landscape stretched out, barren and gray. There was nothing as far as the eye could see, only wisps of smoke and dust wafting and swirling softly in the warm wind. The sky above was overcast, the air heavy and humid.

"It's going to rain."

Thunder rolled in the distance, and for a moment the world was bathed in light. Darkness fell again, and the shadows deepened. The sky opened with a sigh. The dust and smoke vanished, to be replaced by the pounding drumbeat of raindrops steadily turning the ground to mud.

In the middle of the plain a figure stood alone. The rain drove against him, trying in vain to beat him into submission. He stood tall against the onslaught, spreading his arms to the elements. Tipping his face upward, he smiled. Blood dripped down his cheeks as the rain cleansed him.

"Rain, rain, come to play," he murmured to himself, but the wind snatched up his words and carried them away.

Rain, rain, come to play, the soft breeze whispered in her ear. She rose from where she had been seated in the grassy field. Turning her back on the warmth and sunlight, she faced the direction the wind was coming from.

"I'm coming."

And clouds covered the sun, and the breeze became restless. Hurry, hurry, it urged her, gaining strength. You haven't much time. Stepping boldly into the dark and the rain, she never once looked back.

The battlefield—what was left of it—was deserted. The stench of blood and decaying bodies filled the air, and the only sound was the loud cawing of carrion birds. The dead of both sides lay abandoned, equal in death.

A small procession stepped onto the field. The birds laughed mockingly. Look at what you've done, they jeered. Near the middle, someone began to cry softly.

Death, death; this is human folly. The old man leading them pressed forward until they reached the epicenter of the destruction. There was a twelve-foot circle of bare ground, empty. Not even the birds dared to venture in.

The living lined the edge of the circle, staring blankly. He's not here. They all thought the words, but no one spoke them. That would make it real. A warm breeze stirred the ashes at the center of the circle. Look, look, whispered the wind, revealing the broken sword. One of the company gave a tiny gasp.

"It's over," murmured the old man. His head bowed forward and his shoulders sagged. "It's finally over."

The rain let up, slowing to a misty drizzle. Beneath his feet, blood mixed with water and dust. Rain dripped off him in tiny rivulets, but he was grateful. The icy streams were a reminder that he was still alive, that he could still feel. He wasn't quite sure where he was, though he knew it was not real.

The young man turned around at the sound of approaching footsteps. She stood before him, red hair shining, smelling of sunshine and anise. He stared at her blankly. Life, laughter—run faster, run faster! Catch me if you can! She was out of place here, in this desolate wasteland.

"…Sunshine," he murmured, a flicker of recognition in his eyes.

She smiled sadly, extending a hand toward him. "It's over," she told him softly. "It's all over now."

"But I…" The rain seemed to be picking up again, and she frowned slightly.

"But nothing," she replied firmly. "It had to be done."

"I know," he whispered, haunted eyes turning to gaze at the blood-soaked earth. "I know."

"Come," she instructed, her hand stretching farther. "You do not belong here."

This time, he did not hesitate. Taking her hand, he turned his back on the empty field, and walked resolutely toward the sun. It's all over now.

Jamie sat on the ledge of the Astronomy Tower, where he spent so many nights. Tonight his sketch pad lay a little ways away, abandoned in favor of listening to the soft cadence of the story. Father's story.

His head was tipped back and his eyes were closed as he breathed in the silence. This was the chapter of the story that Mother could never capture. The chapter she never had the words for, because she never really knew.

Finally Jamie stood up, picking up his sketchbook and tucking it under his arm. He nodded at the portrait of the Wizarding World's savior. The memory of his Father.

His Father nodded back. Without a word, he slipped out of the Tower and returned to the dorms. He would write Mother in the morning.