"What is you doing, Winky?" Dobby asked. He watched in amazement as Winky weaved drunkenly past, dragging a large, flat stone slab along the ground behind her.
"Is none of Dobby's business what Winky is doing," Winky replied curtly. "Dobby should attend to his chores and let - hic! - Winky attend to hers."
"It is Dobby's business," Dobby snapped, scurrying along behind her as she positioned the slab in front of the fireplace. A heavy stone iron stood heating in its flames. "Professor Dumbledore has instructed Dobby to keep an eye on Winky ever since she was caught taking a bath in the soup last week. Now. What is you doing?"
Winky glared, carefully lifting the iron from its cradle and placing it on the stone slab. "If Dobby must know, Winky is having to press her - hic! - best dress. Winky is going to be asking Professor Snape for a favor in the morning and wants to be looking her best when she does so." She bustled over to a basket of freshly-washed laundry, withdrew a tattered old pillowcase and smoothed it out over the stone. Her "best dress" was a good deal cleaner than the butterbeer-stained, food-encrusted skirt and blouse she usually wore, but that wasn't saying much.
"Winky is not going to be disturbing Professor Snape," Dobby said flatly. "Professor Snape has told Dobby to keep Winky away from him. He is not liking when you broke into his Potions lab, and he tells Dobby to keep Winky away or he will be using her spleen in one of his concoctions."
"But Winky must talk to Professor Snape!" Winky wailed, sitting heavily on the floor and bursting into tears. "Professor Snape is the only one who can help Winky!"
Dobby sighed. "Winky, what is going on this time?" he asked gently. These episodes were getting rather tiresome. "What is you wanting from the professor?"
She glanced up sadly, her bulging green eyes shining with tears. "Winky wants to ask the professor to - hic! - cure Master Barty," she whispered.
Dobby sighed again and sat down beside her, placing a steadying hand on her shoulder. "Winky," he began in the tone most often used to comfort distressed children, "you is knowing nothing can cure Master Barty. How many times is Professor Dumbledore having to tell you that? You has tried so many different things since they took Master Barty to St. Mungo's, and all you is doing is getting yourself into more trouble." He patted her shoulder gently. "Dobby knows you is heartbroken about it, but you have to accept that your master is never going to be cured."
"Oh, but Professor Snape is a very powerful wizard," she replied, her soft voice suddenly husky with awe. "He has powers he has never revealed before, powers Winky knows can cure Master Barty. Winky knows! Winky saw!"
"What did Winky see?"
She leaned in close and whispered loudly in Dobby's ear. "Winky saw Professor Snape killing Harry Potter and then - hic! - bringing him back to life!"
Dobby reared back violently at the mention of Harry Potter being harmed. "What is you talking about?" he spluttered. "Killing Harry Potter? Winky saw Professor Snape killing Harry Potter?"
Winky bobbed her head enthusiastically, flinging tears in all directions. "Yes!" she said. "Winky was just down in the dungeons and she saw -"
"What was you doing in the dungeons?" Dobby interrupted sharply. She was not supposed to leave the kitchens by herself, not since the morning she had appeared in the Great Hall and decided to try swinging from the Headmaster's beard. Dumbledore had nearly pitched forward into a platter of eggs in the middle of giving the morning notices.
"Don't be angry with Winky, Dobby," she said, ducking her head in embarrassment. "Winky needed to stretch her legs and went for a little walk." She looked up again, an earnest expression crossing her face. "Anyway, Winky was walking by Professor Snape's chambers, and she heard noises inside. Noises like the ones Winky heard that time Mr Filch was visiting with Professor McGonagall. Moanings and groanings, like someone was in pain. So... Winky popped inside the Professor's chambers to see - hic! - if she could help."
"Winky!" Dobby reprimanded. "You knows it is strictly forbidden for a house elf to enter a human's chambers unannounced like that!"
"Yes, Winky knows," she replied dejectedly. "But Winky was afraid something terrible was happening. Winky had to help. No one saw! Winky was very careful to stay hidden in the shadows."
Dobby sighed again. "Very well. Go on."
Winky lowered her voice and continued in conspiratorial tones. "Professor Snape and Harry Potter were there together, in the Professor's bedroom. They was fighting with one another, tearing each other's clothes and clawing at each other's skin like two snarling werewolves. Winky was terrified! Professor Snape's face was even harsher looking than it usually is, dark and murderous, like he hated Harry Potter." She shivered at the memory. "And then their clothes was all over the ground," she continued. "Winky has never seen a human undressed before, and -"
"All those years of caring for Master Barty, and Winky has never seen an undressed human?" Dobby asked, dumbfounded.
"Noooo," Winky replied, sounding horrified at the very thought. "Master Barty is always getting his own self bathed and dressed. He is being very - hic! - shy about anyone seeing him without his clothes on. Professor Snape is the first human Winky has seen with no clothes on, and it scared her even more. Dobby, the Professor had -" she leaned in again, her face suddenly pink to the very tips of her ears "-he had a dagger between his legs."
"Winky is telling the truth!" she insisted hotly, misinterpreting his expression for one of disbelief. "Professor Snape must have been hiding it there all along, just waiting for the chance to attack Harry Potter with it. It wasn't very sharp, but it was long and it looked like it could be hurting someone very badly. He pulled Harry Potter against him and tried to cut Harry Potter's stomach open with it, and Winky very nearly rushed into the room to rescue Harry Potter before it was too late." Her tone turned sly. "But Harry Potter is a very resourceful wizard. Harry Potter knew just what to do. He dropped to his knees immediately and tried to bite the dagger off!"
Dobby's eyes widened in surprise. "Is true!" Winky said. "Harry Potter took the dagger in his mouth and started chewing on it. Ohh, it must have been very painful for Professor Snape, for he was making - hic! - the most horrible sounds, and he kept trying to pull away. But Harry Potter was too fast for him. Harry Potter knew he was fighting for his life, and every time Professor Snape pulled back Harry Potter nodded his head forward and forced his mouth over it again. It was terrible to watch. Oh, why must humans be so horrible to one another?" She covered her eyes with her hands and sobbed loudly.
Dobby patted her shoulder again. "Go on, Winky," he said after she had calmed a bit.
"Well, after a long time went by, Professor Snape was finally able to pull away. He growled something Winky could not hear, and Harry Potter turned around and got down on his hands and knees. It was then that Winky noticed for the first time that Harry Potter had a dagger, too, a smaller one, but he was facing the wrong way to defend himself with it. The Professor knelt down behind Harry Potter and called something to him from across the room."
"What was it?" Dobby asked curiously.
"Winky does not know for sure, but she thinks it was..." her voice dropped again "...poison. Professor Snape poured some on his fingers and then he... he..." Fat tears began to slide down her cheeks, and she buried her face in her hands. "He pushed them inside Harry Potter's body," she gasped through her sobs.
Dobby shifted uncomfortably, tightening his grip on Winky's shoulder. "What did Harry Potter do?"
"He cried out in pain, of course," Winky replied, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "But that was not the worst part, Dobby. After Professor Snape worked the poison up into Harry Potter's body for a time, he pulled his fingers away and started to stab into him with his dagger." Her face grew pale with horror at the memory. "Winky was so frightened, Dobby. Winky should have done something, but she was just -hic! - too frightened. Harry Potter was screaming and Professor Snape just kept stabbing him and stabbing him, again and again, faster and then harder, and Harry Potter was trying to crawl away but Professor Snape was holding him tightly by the hips and kept pulling him back. And then Professor Snape reached around Harry Potter's body and grabbed his dagger and tried to pull it off. But it must have been attached very firmly, because no matter how hard the Professor tugged at it, it stayed put.
"And then..." she stopped again, her entire body trembling. "Then Harry Potter started to bleed." She looked at Dobby with wide, fearful eyes. "Did Dobby know that when humans is about to die, they bleed white?"
Dobby shook his head, too thunderstruck by her story to speak.
"Is true," she said wearily. "A stream of white blood gushed from Harry Potter's dagger and landed on the floor, and he screamed and screamed and Professor Snape screamed and screamed and a moment later, Harry Potter collapsed onto the floor in the pool of his own blood." She hung her head in reverence, twisting her hands together in her lap. "He was dead."
"No," Dobby whispered. "No, Winky, Harry Potter was not..."
"But then," Winky continued as though he hadn't spoken, her eyes now lit with a sudden feverish glow, "then Professor Snape rolled Harry Potter over and kissed him for a long time. And when the kissing stopped, Harry Potter opened his eyes and he... he smiled up at Professor Snape. And that's when Winky knew. He was alive again, Dobby!" She grabbed Dobby by his shoulders and gave him a rough shake, maniacal laughter tumbling from her lips. "Harry Potter was alive again! Professor Snape's kiss had brought him back to life! And if he can do it for Harry Potter, he can do it for Master Barty, Dobby. Winky knows he can!"
Dobby's eyes rattled in his skull with the force of Winky's shakes. It took him a moment to gather the wits to wrap his fingers around her wrists and pull her hands away. "Winky is wrong!" he shouted, tugging sharply on her arms to bring her back to her senses. The tone of his voice cut her laughter off in mid-cackle, and she stared at him, open-mouthed, her ears beginning to sag.
"Winky is wrong," Dobby said again softly. "Professor Snape did not bring Harry Potter back to life."
"What is you talking about, Dobby?" Winky asked, struggling against his hold, the pitch of her voice rising until it was very near hysteria. "Winky -hic! - saw it with her own eyes!"
"No. Winky's story just confirms something Dobby has suspected all along, ever since Harry Potter was so badly hurt in the final battle with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and survived." He let go of Winky's wrists and grasped her by the forearms, squeezing hard. "Professor Snape did not bring Harry Potter back to life because he could not have killed Harry Potter in the first place. Doesn't you see, Winky? Harry Potter cannot die. He is... immortal."