He woke with a start. He closed his eyes, screwing up his face with the force. His fingers tore at his hair. How could he—why did he have to—

No matter. It was over and he was dead. Dead and gone and cursed to to be forgotten. Harry was the last to remember. And wasn't that just pathetic? Mourning a boy that he never knew. The reminders of that boy tormented him for so long that he barely remembers a time without them.

Harry sighed, letting his fingers relax from their tight grip and finally opened his eyes. It was still dark, but the first light of dawn was already making itself known. His legs swung over the edge of his bed, seemingly on their own. Harry's mind was still miles away as he slipped into the kitchen. His footfalls were nearly inaudible. He made himself a cup of coffee and sat down on the floor, back to the cabinet beneath his kitchen counter.

Harry was a mess. He knew it too, but what was he to do? He kind of wished he could go to a therapist, but who in their right mind would listen to him ramble about a war that didn't happen and about flames and the mafia without sending him to an institution? Harry sipped at his coffee. He was glad that he had no tea at his house. The impulse to make it would be almost irresistible, and the memories it brought were unbearable. He supposed he could try to make some sort of coping mechanism, but he hadn't the foggiest about where to start. He guessed stopping this game of pretend would be the first step but- but.

His acquaintances (his friends, his family) would be...

They don't know him. They know a mask, a shadow of the person he truly is. They think he's confident and smart and—Harry's the furthest thing from that. He's broken and shattered into a thousand different pieces with no one left to help him pick up the pieces. He supposes what he calls himself is a lie too—Reborn. Reborn is what he wants to be. But he's still the same broken boy that lost everything to a war two madmen wanted, a war he was forced to partake in. He's not a man that looked at his life and changed it to his liking.

He supposed that should stop mourning the memory of a child that never existed. He should stop mourning his childhood that wasn't. He should. But he won't. Because if he didn't, who would? Everyone he used to know in the UK has either let go of the war and the horror of it, or dead. Harry wrapped his arm around himself. He knew thinking this way wasn't healthy. He should let it go...

He remembered his first year at Hogwarts. That was the start of all of this, wasn't it? Dumbledore and Voldemort both manipulating Harry into a role he didn't want. Dumbledore and Voldemort were two sides of the same coin. They destroyed that boy that never was. They killed him and his childhood. And now Harry mourned, and would mourn until others would mourn Harry in turn.

Harry finished his coffee. He twisted around, putting the mug onto the counter. He supposed he should get up. But he felt too aware the walls, how easily they could close in and make him think of his cupboard. He didn't even try to stand. The movement would make it worse. He slumped a bit, pulling his knees to his chest, his forehead hitting his kneecaps lightly. He'll just—stay like this for a bit. Until he stopped feeling like the walls would close in on him is he made even the slightest movement.

He stayed there for some time. He didn't know for how long, but presumably too long. He finally forced himself to get up when he heard someone call his phone. His body protested his attempts to get up, stiff with disuse.

He unplugged his phone and raised it to his ear.

"Reborn speaking?" Harry tried to put a bit of the usual arrogance into his voice, but even to himself his voice felt flat.

"Umm? Hi?" it was Skull. "I… Yuni wanted someone to call you. I was—nevermind. She wanted to let you know we're having our yearly celebration of the anniversary of the curse being lifted early.

"Fine. When is it?" Harry knew he sounded a bit out of it, but he hoped the sound distorted enough that Skull wouldn't notice.

"A week from now. Same hour as every year." Skull paused and Harry was about to hang up when Skull spoke up again. "Are you ok? You sound a bit off." Skull sounded worried. And wasn't that something? The only one who worried is the person that has no reason to care.

Harry hung up. He was as fine as he could get.


"Guys? I think Reborn's sick," Skull said. Lal and Fon were in the lounge of the Vongola mansion with him.

"Oh? You got that from a call less than a minute long?" Lal scoffed.

"He was polite to me. He didn't call me lackey even once. He didn't even know who he was speaking to when he picked up—" Skull hunched up and his voice got a bit quiet—"you know how he sometimes pauses when he speaks to someone new? He did that just now. But he shouldn't have. I know he has all our numbers saved. And he sounded so dead. I don't think he even noticed that he did it."

"I doubt that. You always se things that aren't there. But even if it's true, we'll see him in a week. If he's still 'sick' then we'll do something about it." Lal sounded doubtful.

Fon cut in before Lal could say anything more. "We'll see. But if he's truly not alright… I don't know what we can do. He holds everyone at arm's length and I don't think he'll take kindly to us sticking our noses in his business."

Skull deflated a bit. "Right. I'll wait. But something was wrong. I swear."

Skull knew something was wrong. He remembered when he sounded like that. And Reborn really did hold everyone at arm's length. Did he even have anyone to help him get better?


A week later and Harry had made no progress on his 'get better at coping' plan. He guessed that the teenage hormones of his artificial second puberty had something to do with it.

The Arcobaleno were physically all around fourteen now. Verde had made a serum to help them age faster, but it could only do so much without harming them.

Harry arrived at the Arcobaleno villa twenty minutes later than expected. But that was his thing. Or it was Reborn's thing. Harry tried to arrive exactly on time. It was safer. Nobody would get mad at him for coming too early or too late. But Reborn was different. He was confident. He didn't care about others' opinions.

Harry wished he could be like Reborn. He pretended to be. But he wasn't, not really.

The villa was pale blue with huge windows in as many places as possible. Yuni chose it for that very reason. Sunlight was amazing and it was always such a shame when it was blocked from view. That was what she told them five years ago when she told them where the first reunion was taking place. She was only eleven at the time, but Harry knew she had a point. It was miserable to be in darkness. He suppressed a shudder. He wasn't going to think about his little 'room' in number four Privet Drive.

Harry—or rather Reborn entered the villa. He didn't knock. Reborn would rather die than to do something as plebeian as to knock. Harry wrapped that arrogance and confidence of his mask around himself like a cloak. Harry would be invisible, unseen and unheard. Reborn would take charge. Hopefully.

"Hi uncle Reborn! I haven't seen you in ages!" Yuni bounded towards Reborn, hugging him. He smiled softly.

"You jest. It's barely been a month."

"What i said—ages!"

Reborn huffed out a laugh. Harry did too, hidden beneath the curtain of lies. He loved Yuni. He loved all the Arcobaleno. Reborn would never admit it, but Harry never was much like him. Reborn loved them too, Harry and him were one and the same. But they were two sides of the same coin. The same but still complete opposites.

Reborn knew he should tell his acquaintances (friends) about who he was and at the same time wasn't. He knew he should tell them about Harry. But he couldn't. Not now.

Perhaps he never would be able to.


Skull watched as Reborn entered the villa. He looked normal. Skull narrowed his eyes. Reborn was pulled into a conversation with Colonello almost as soon as he entered the room. He talked the same as he always did. He had the same body language. Everything was the same. But Skull couldn't shake the feeling that something was off about him.

Lal was sitting next to Skull, her legs on the table. He almost wanted to tell her off for it but quickly decided against it. It wasn't worth the hassle.

Lal scoffed when she noticed Reborn. "He's fine. I'd say I told you so, but I think that would be a bit excessive. You'd be even more of a mess than you made Reborn out to be."

"I'm still concerned though. I have a feeling—" Lal cut him off.

"A feeling. You know somehow I expected better of you. I suppose thinking you were actually a rational person was asking too much of you." Skull gritted his teeth.

"Yeah, because being such a bitch is so much better! I've had enough of all of this! If you think I'm some sort of inconvenience to you because I trust my gut instincts then fine! I'm out of here," Skull stood and angrily stalked to the door.

Before he could leave Fon grabbed his arm. "Are you—"

"Leave me alone!" Skull tore his arm away. "I worry about someone once and as soon as I try to tell someone you're all like 'no, you're being ridiculous' or 'no, they're fine' like I'm a child! And I can't—" Skull broke off. He could feel that he was about to break down. He couldn't do that. Not now. He knew that if he showed weakness now, Lal would think she was right about him being too emotional and irrational. It was a small mercy that Viper wasn't here yet. They would probably use this for blackmail.

Skull had to get out of there.

So he did. Nobody stopped him. Nobody cared enough.


Reborn blinked. What just happened? As he thought that, Harry stepped forward. He played Reborn's role, faking an aloof curiosity as he asked Colonello if he knew what just happened. Colonello didn't know, but Fon, who was nearby, did. He told them that Skull was worried about someone and Lal didn't think his concerns had any rational proof.

Harry hummed noncommittally. He wanted to go to Skull, but knew that he'd seem… off if he did. If he left now the others might find out that he was a fraud. A fake. Broken, not the suave man he made himself out to be.

Harry waited some time before he excused himself. He faked a call and made up some mundane excuse and exchanged goodbyes. He said he'd probably be back, but none of them really believed that. Whenever Reborn left prematurely he had a good reason. They thought it was some sort of personal reason, and those took time to resolve.

Harry slipped out almost unnoticed. He followed the path Skull was most likely to take. He briefly considered casting a point-me charm to track Skull, but thought better of it. He managed this long without using his magic as a cheat and didn't particularly want to start now.

Harry paused at briefly at a fork in the road, but he spotted Skull walking slowly down the street, leading his bike. He looked dejected and he reminded Harry a bit of himself. He knew he probably wasn't the right person to do this. He as Reborn was rather unpleasant to Skull. He had stopped mocking him around a week after they first met, but Reborn still liked to push Skull's buttons.

Harry stopped walking. Was he actually going to do this? It was a monumentally bad idea.

He paused his train of thought. When has an idea being bad stopped him?


Skull knew someone was following him. He thought that perhaps it was Fon. He tried to stop Skull from storming away. But when the person following him faltered, he reconsidered. Was it Lal then? No. She wouldn't…. would she?

Skull turned abruptly, about to give Lal a peice of his mind and froze.

Reborn stood there like a deer caught in the headlights.

Before Skull could even think of something to say, Reborn spoke. "Are you alright?"

Skull was so taken aback that he didn't think before saying "I was about to ask you that. You sounded weird when I called you."

"I… no. I'm not. But I'm working on it." Reborn slumped a bit, as if not being okay was a sin.

Skull didn't know what to do. Reborn looked shattered. He looked nothing alike to the confident man he usually was. Maybe it was just him looking into it too much but Skull had a feeling that it wasn't a new development. Skull remembered when he had that very same expression. It was before he ran away to join the circus.

He vividly remembered the day his best and only friend Val died. She killed herself, and Skull could do nothing. He felt the guilt shatter him more every day after that, until one day he couldn't bear it anymore. He ran away and found new friends that helped him pick up the pieces. He had tried to keep a sense of aloofness with them, never truly being a part of the troupe. They saw through his lies in less than a month.

Did Reborn need someone to look through the curtains of lies and deceit? To rip them apart and help him make himself anew? Make Reborn himself again? Maybe that was what Reborn needed.

"May I help?" Skull asked, and waited with bated breath. Reborn stilled. He looked like a marble statue. Slowly, Reborn nodded. It was a tiny movement, and if Skull wasn't looking he'd think he'd imagined it. Reborn closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around himself.

"I… call me Harry. I'm not—I'm not Reborn. Reborn is a lie I tell myself." Rebor-Harry said. His voice was barely above a whisper.

"Ok. I'm Cherep then," Skull hasn't called himself that in years. It was what his family from the circus decided to call him. It seemed fitting now to use it.

Harry stepped forward. He seemed hesitant. Cherep understood nevertheless.

Cherep closed the gap and hugged Harry.

They were both broken in different ways. They were broken and put back together. Skull just had more practice. But now there were two of them, and even the task of putting the pieces in their place seemed manageable.

It was just a matter of time before shattered glass became a mosaic of memories.