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The dance. The dance. The dance.
Fighting the tarrasque had been easy. But this? Dancing with the girl who captured his heart?
Harry didn't have a clue.
Daphne guided him into the girl's train car compartment she had modified. They were the only two in the large space. She showed him how to put his hand on her waist and hold her close to him. He could smell her. It was a clean smell in a lot of vague and unhelpful ways. But it was gentle. The scent of honey and cream from her shampoo.
Harry awkwardly led a little waltz and she corrected his footwork. It was sloppy. It wouldn't do for a champion to be unable to dance. So Harry tried harder. He grew more confident and led her through the step. He smiled down at her. Had he always been this much taller than her? It was nice to see her look up at him with her baby blues and her blonde waist length hair. He had to be careful not to grab her hair as he held her by the back.
When he felt brave he spun her in a circle. She giggled at him and he found himself loving her for it. The activity had been light but vigorous enough that Harry had built up a light sweat. He stepped in and kissed her forehead. Her sweat was delicious against his lips. She laughed a little more.
"I think you've got it," she decided after he released her. She stepped over to conjure a glass of water. "Aguamenti." She breathed and filled a summoned chalice. She took a quick drink. Harry just watched her lips move as she did.
He reached out mentally and touched her mind with his power. He felt the tide of happiness within her and let a loose smile play with his lips.
"I was a little worried but it seems I have nothing to fear," he confessed. "Fighting a drake is one thing but a dance with my enchantress is quite another."
"Your enchantress?" She asked playfully.
"You are. Aren't you?" He pressed, still grinning.
"Of course I am. That is, if you want me to be."
"I do," he purred. He stroked her mind and let her feel his pleasure. She shuddered slightly and heat rose to her face.
"Harry," she panted.
"Yes?" He wondered.
She shook her head. "It's nothing. It just feels nice when you do that."
"Good. I'm glad."
"Susan and I summoned her mother's shade," she informed him.
He bobbed his head a little in contemplation. "I suppose that wasn't satisfying to her."
"We torched it. It wasn't her. There's no way to summon the dead."
"Not that I know of. When souls aren't here they seem to be gone. Exiting the way they came in."
"And that's it?" She wondered. Her thoughts shifted to her father.
"Well, a soul is different from a mind. Ghosts linger. Memories on a blank canvas. Shadows on a cave wall. I think it's a good thing. Souls are finite. I think the dead deserve peace."
"Is it peaceful? Do you think?" She demanded.
"It was peaceful before I was born. It will be like that when I'm dead. There could be an afterlife. There are many religions and ideas. I couldn't say which is true."
"But there's power to it. There are gods of the dead in faerie."
"Faith has power. I'm not sure that souls end up in the custody of the old gods or even the gods a person worships. Memories might. That's the power of faith at work. There are holy artifacts and they have power but is that because they are holy or because a lot of people believe that they are holy. Who could say? Souls have a unique power to them. Nothing can summon or create a soul. Nothing can summon a soul from wherever they go if they are reincarnated. And they are reincarnated on a time frame too long for accurate note taking if they are reincarnated at all."
"But you can do things to a soul. You can rip it apart and pull it out of a person. That's what the killing curse does."
"Is it?" Harry thumbed his jaw in thought.
"Isn't it?" She pressed.
"You're confusing the forest for the trees. You can't pull a soul out of a person. A soul is the person. They are it. You rend the person from the body and the psychic backlash of murder can rip your own soul to pieces. But it can heal given time and the correct circumstances. Grief and forgiveness can do that. Powerful emotions."
"Yes. And no. The soul and mind are separate entities but they are connected. One can affect the other as it moves through this world. Time changes a person. Changes their mind. Changes their soul. It all depends on what you're willing to do and give up."
Daphne took another sip of water. She hummed in thought. Harry could tell even without reading her mind that she was thinking of her father.
"Do you want to summon the specter of your father?" He asked.
She frowned lightly. "I remember him. I have more memories of him than Susan or you do of your parents."
"It still won't be the real thing and it isn't healthy to dwell on the dead. We deserve peace too."
"You aren't at peace. We're gearing up for a war against You-Know-Who."
"I said we deserve peace not that we always get it. I think everyone deserves a little peace. Even my enemies. Voldemort chose me. He singled me out. He marked me. He could have allowed me and others to live and let live but he chose violence, murder, and mayhem. Given the choice I would live my life with my magic and books and you. But Voldemort wanted more. He wanted to live forever even though people can't. People shouldn't. We all get to die. It's a privilege to die. Voldemort was willing to do whatever it takes because he was afraid. Death is a one way ticket to the far side of forever and Voldemort didn't want to go. Now he forces my hand. He must go. I have to slay him. I feel the pull towards him. Its him or me. And even with his anchors he will still die and pass on. He merely delays the inevitable. It'll get Nicholas and Perenelle Flannel eventually too. They chose a less cruel fate but they still must die. I'm sure they know that by now."
"Horcruxes. Soul magic. Tethers with a piece of one's soul within. Voldemort made several. Three probably. Not counting the accidental one."
"The accidental one?"
"Me," Harry answered easily. "I'm in it too. A piece of him lives in me. I must destroy it."
"I'm not sure yet."
"You're lying to me," she accused.
Harry said nothing. It was true. He intended to murder somebody. But Daphne didn't need to know the details. It would just worry her. "Sorry."
"You don't trust me?"
"What? Of course I trust you. There are just details you don't need to know to help keep you safe."
She pouted and Harry really wanted to kiss her. "I'm not a little girl."
"I know. You're a young woman and a bright witch. But there are some things you don't need to know about. I trust you more than anyone. But we have to accept we can't change everything. There's nothing you can do to help me. It would just put you in danger or cause you distress. More than knowing a piece of him lives in me. I intend to kill it. How is my prerogative. Looking after me once I do is yours."
"I don't like it…"
"It isn't your decision. I've shared plenty with you. Keeping this from you does nothing but keep you safe. And I will see you safe. I will sail the darkness of the cosmos with this planet as my vessel with you safe by my side. To do that I must keep secrets from you. To do that I have to do terrible things. That's truth. That's metaphor. That's poetry. I love you."
She finished her water. "Fine. I'm not happy about this though."
"I knew you wouldn't be. Believe me when I say I have no choice. Perhaps after I kill this part of him I shall tell you how I managed it. But not before. Not when it could bring you harm. I promise."
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Harry dressed in his new dress robes. He looked nice as he examined himself in the mirror. His eyes were bright. His hair was in it's typical mess but it looked dashing. He adjusted the cuff on his sleeve. Time to face the music. He walked out of the boys dormitory. He met up with Daphne and she looked adorable in her green dress. It was a lime green. She took his arm and he led her to the great hall of Beauxbatons. It had been redecorated with floating chandeliers.
"Ah here are our last two. Shall we enter?"
The other champions were already waiting there with their dates. Harry met their gazes with apathy. They couldn't touch him and could scarcely be called his peers.
There was a musical cue. The stroke of a violin and they were led inside. It was quiet with music playing scarcely. Harry took his position and held Daphne by the waist. She smiled up at him and feeling her happiness he couldn't help but smile back at her. Their minds mingled for a moment, the connection strongest with eye contact.
Then there was a second cue. Another Violin stroke and they started to dance. Harry led easily enough thanks to their practice. Without it he would have been lost but with it he guided her easily. Part of the way through the waltz Harry twirled her. He ignored the other champions. He had eyes only for his Daphne. She giggled as she spun and Harry pulled her close. Closer than was strictly necessary. The song ended and Harry swept back and kissed the back of her hand with a bow. She laughed again and by god that laugh could light up his whole fucking life.
"Drinks?" She asked.
"Sure," he agreed.
She led the way over to the wine flutes and took two. She handed one to him. He drank the wine deeply. It was sweet and bitter at the same time. He sipped it. Daphne's face flushed as she drank. She sliced herself a generous portion of cake from one of the tables. She had a bit of a sweet tooth. She took a big bite of the cake.
Harry reached down and wiped a little frosting from the corner of her moth and licked it off his finger. She grinned up at him. They didn't need to share words with harry hanging so deeply within her mind. She could feel him and he could feel her. He could practically taste the cake she was eating; he was so deep inside her.
The dance floor opened up after the champions' number. Ernie danced with Susan. Harry could see them out on the floor. He didn't think they were attracted to one another but he'd been surprised before. They seemed close though. Perhaps they were more than just friends. Or perhaps Harry was reading too deeply into it. It was just a dance. A big party.
An explosion rocked the building. The wine shook in it's glasses and Harry almost spilled his as he stumbled. Daphne dropped her cake and Harry reached out and caught her. Harry pulled the elder wand from his sleeve. Dumbledore was already moving. Harry could see the bearded wizard moving in the direction of the explosion.
[Keep your head down. Stay here.] Harry mentally commanded Daphne. Harry chased Dumbledore out.
"I don't see Nicholas or Perenelle."
"Were they the targets?"
"Unclear. The stone may be in danger."
An explosion rocked campus again. Black fog descended upon the guest quarters.
"Finite." Harry commanded of the smoke. It didn't clear. Dumbledore met Harry's eye. They began to walk towards the guest quarters. Another explosion occurred and rock flew from the guest quarters. The black fog condensed and swirled. Harry stepped into it beside Dumbledore. Immediately he lost sight of Dumbledore in the darkness. He tried to press further in and stumbled over broken rock. Then the darkness was suddenly sucked into the quarters. It flooded into Nicholas and Perenelle's room. A figure in dark robes and pale skin stepped from inside. He had pure red eyes which glowed from within.
"Tom," Dumbledore addressed.
'Tom' held out a hand. A red stone turned to dust from his palm. Harry looked past him and saw Nicholas dead on the floor.
"Dumbledore," the man breathed. "And young Harry. How nice of you to join me."
"What have you done, Tom? What is this?"
"This," Voldemort whispered. "Is my resurrection."
Harry cast the piercing hex straight at Voldemort's head. Fire exploded from his form so hot it melted the roof of the building. Harry shielded both himself and Dumbledore. When the fire faded Voldemort was gone and Nicholas's body was ash. The heat had been that intense.
"He can't have apparated. Quickly Harry-" More screaming from the great hall. Fire exploded from the library. Then the end of the dock. Then the far side of the bay. Voldemort was a teleporting explosion.
"We have to stop him Harry."
"Pin him down and destroy his body again."
Voldemort was already gone. "Can we track him?"
"Follow the fire, Harry."
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