It was supposed to be simple. Anti-climactic. He was supposed to go to Voldemort, die and then everything would work itself out for the better. The last of the horcruxes gone with his death and Harry finally reunited with his parents and destiny fulfilled. He hadn't counted on Dumbledore coercing him into coming back, not that the old man had to do much more than be there in order to do that. So Harry woke, feeling as if a Bludger had slammed into his chest, repeatedly, for hours. Still only half conscious when Narcissa asked about Draco and kept his secret of his less than permanent death.
Harry wasn't much able to move the entire time that Hagrid held his seemingly lifeless body. Not until he was fully on the ground and Nagini was dead did he rise that was when things went to hell. He had expected Voldemort to face him, to duel with him like he had on every other occasion but the snake-like man took one look at Harry standing there, in front of the army of light wizards, and shouted a call to retreat before portkeying away.
The grounds of Hogwarts were silent as everyone realized what had just happened. Harry was alive, Voldemort had fled, and Hogwarts was in shambles.
Harry for his part just knelt on the ground and stared up at the starry night sky wishing that he could take back the last few hours and stay dead, if only so that he wouldn't have to continue fighting.
Six months later Hogwarts was more of a fortress than a school. There were no children present save for those drafted into fighting against the weekly attacks from the deatheaters. Harry and his friends had all changed over the course of those six months. They were battle worn and hardened now, more than they had ever been. They each wore Dragon Scale armor, a crest of a pheonix with a snake in it's talons emblazoned on their chests. A crest that Luna had come up with to unite The Order of the Pheonix, and Dumbledore's Army under one banner.
They were a compilation of the most elite of the light wizards in Britain. Which wasn't saying very much given that most had died in the first battle of Hogwarts and the months since.
The war was finally coming to a head again, with the ministry completely fallen, Diagon Alley now only rubble, and the gates of Hogwarts finally falling under the constant onslaught of dark magic, the Light wizards would either have to defeat the Dark once and for all, or die trying.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this," Harry said looking around the room, twelve witches and wizards was all that made up his 'vast' army.
"What do you mean Harry?" Ginny asked sidling up next to him on the windowsill.
Harry glanced over at his, would have been, girlfriend. Ginny had cut her hair, it only swept past her ears, her face was marred by burns on the left side. But to Harry she would always be his first love, even if he didn't know what love felt like anymore.
"Dumbledore asked if I wanted to come back. I said I wanted to finish what I started, but really I didn't want to let him down."
"What are you talking about?" Ginny's eyebrows furrowed causing the scars to pull in odd ways.
Harry shook his head. It didn't really matter if they knew or not. There was nothing any of them could do about it now.
"They'll be through the gates in less than four hours," Harry changed the subject not wanting to dwell. "Make sure everyone get's what they need. I'll be on the field setting up the traps Ron and Bill have been working on," Harry said feeling a pang of grief at the fact that both Fred and George, inventors of said weapons, were no longer with them.
"Where do you want everyone?" Ginny asked looking out over the small crowd of people.
Harry turned to face the troops. "Neville and Pomfrey in the back, they're the best healers. Ron and Hermione do best together so they'll be in front with me. You and Luna can take the left while Draco and his Father take the right."
"The Newbies?" Ginny asked referring to the meager reinforcements that they had received from The Resistance.
"Give them the center field. Anything that get's past us they can take care of."
Ginny nodded and left to prepare everyone as Harry stared down at where The Light would make it's last stand.
The battle was bloody. The screams of the dying and injured filled the air as streaks of multicolored light flashed from all directions.
"Ron take out Lestrange! 'Mione you've got Crabbe!" Harry yelled over his shoulder to his two closest friends.
"Got it Harry," They both said at the same time as their targets drew closer. Unlike the other battles each of the wizards carried swords or crossbows. Dragon scale armor kept you safe from most spells but it did little against physical damage and both sides had acquired a supply.
Harry had the sword of Gryffindor in his left hand and the wand he had taken from Snape's body just before the man's funeral. Harry felt Snape should at least know that he was getting some sort of revenge on the people who had caused him so much pain.
Harry took down two deatheaters before he finally caught sight of his true target. Riddle standing at the back of his army, not even bothering to engage in the battle.
"Lazy as ever Riddle?" Harry taunted as he sliced the belly of one of his enemy.
"Potter! Seems the little boy has grown up," Riddle intoned twisting the elder wand in his hand lazily.
"Seems like," Harry sent off a harmless jelly-legs jinx, just to show the older man he wasn't at all afraid of him. Voldemort dodged easily.
"You may have grown more competent Potter but you are still just as naive as ever."
Harry only had enough time to scrunch up his face before searing pain radiated out from his left shoulder causing him to drop his sword and swivel to face his attacker.
The cackle of manic glee told Harry all he needed to know and the sight of Bellatrix Lestrange one foot propped on Hermione's gutted body had Harry's hardened heart cracking.
"You Bitch!" Harry screamed attempting to raise his wand in her direction.
A quietly intoned Expelliarmus from Voldemort had Harry's wand flying from his hand. Disarmed and injured Harry turned his full attention to The Dark Lord.
"Say goodbye Potter," Voldemort sneered.
Harry quickly ducked, rolled, and grabbed Gryffindor's sword and ran to maybe slice the human snakes head off. Harry didn't really think he'd be able to do it in time but he had to try.
Avada Kedavra The sickly green light sped toward him, too fast to dodge but Harry thought he heard another voice, off to his left, incanting an ancient spell that didn't even sound like it was in Latin. It sounded oddly like Draco. With what was sure to be his last movements Harry turned to see Draco a ways away from the downed body of Ron Weasley. Ron's soft brown eyes were staring blankly, all light in them gone. Draco was pointing some sort of staff at Harry something he had never seen before, and the look on the young Malfoy's face was broken and raw. Bright blue light shot from the staff straight for Harry, somehow faster than the killing curse it enveloped him in it's warmth and light so bright Harry could see it even with his eyes tightly shut. There was a tugging and a spinning and Harry felt like he was simultaneously traveling via portkey, apparition, and time-turner.
The affect had his insides clenching and churning and his every muscle bunching in pain before Harry was free falling and slamming against steeply sloped ground, the arrow in his shoulder getting jarred several times before snapping off in the process making him scream in agony and curl in on himself before his body came to a standstill.
There were leaves and twigs beneath him, rain sprinkling from the light gray sky. Everything around him unfamiliar. After a few moments of pained gasps, Harry groaned as he levered himself up, careful not to jar the arrow too much more so he could study his surroundings. It was definitely an old forest, ancient really from the feel of dense magic it possessed, but not a place Harry had ever been before. The foliage was all wrong for the forbidden forest and Harry hadn't been in any other magical forests before.
Searching the leaf littered ground Harry found his sword laying very near by, having only let his grip loose when he had landed. At least he was armed, even if he wasn't used to wielding a sword with his dominant hand. With a lot of grunting and pulling Harry got into a position where the nearest tree was behind his back, the foliage sheltering him slightly from most of the rain.
Despite the cover, the drizzle, and the roll down the hill, had soaked Harry's hair and his hands were shaking with shock and cold when he heard footsteps and voices. "It came from over here, I'm sure of it."
With far more effort than he preferred Harry lifted his sword and pointed it at the bushes to his right just as a young man about his age stepped out. He was thin and lanky, his hair black and his ears very prominent.
"Well at least now I know I was right," He said raising his arms slightly showing he was unarmed.
"W-who are you and w-which f-faction are you w-with?" Harry asked his voice shaking slightly as his teeth chattered.
"Faction? I don't know what..." The man was interrupted when a slightly broader teen with blond hair came in from the other side and easily knocked Harry's weapon from his hand.
"Why were you threatening my man-servent?"
Harry swiveled his head to get a better look, the tree was now the only thing keeping him from falling back onto the ground. This teen was handsome to be sure and built to fight even in the soft leather clothing he wore. Looking into the other boy's dark blue eyes he said. "Can't ever be sure who the enemy is."
"Arthur, he's injured," the brunet said crouching next to Harry's left arm seemingly unfazed by the fact that a few seconds earlier Harry had threatened his life.
"Makes sense, his grip was all wrong, he usually holds his sword in the other hand," Arthur said putting away his own weapon satisfied that the threat was neutralized.
"What do you mean? He was holding it with his right hand."
Arthur rolled his eyes and said "Merlin, his scabbard is on that side,"Arthur gestured to Harry's right "With armor like that he has to know how to hold a sword properly but not everyone is ambidextrous."
The condescending manner in which he said it would have been amusing if Harry hadn't been totally shocked at the name he had used. Merlin...and Arthur. By all that was good what had Draco done. Harry would have continued to freak out if Merlin hadn't started reaching for the arrow imbedded in his shoulder. "Don't!"
Merlin startled back "We have to get the arrow out if we're going to move you. I'm a physicians assistant at the castle I know what I'm doing," Merlin smiled reassuringly and attempted to grasp the shaft just under the tip of the arrow.
"Poisoned," Harry heard himself breath as if from very far away. He had known that it was more than likely poisoned but now he knew for sure because it felt like fire was spreading through his veins. Burning him from the inside out.
Harry couldn't see how Merlin reacted, his vision was too blurry, the poison finally breaking the vision correction charm on his eyes, along with any other enchantments that he could have had on him. This poison was Bellatrix's favorite. It burned out all the magic in the victims body making them all but muggle until the poison was filtered out of the blood and the magical core restored itself.
Merlin stared as the mysterious man's eyes rolled back and lost consciousness. "Merlin, you go find some supplies for a stretcher, I'll take care of the arrow."
"Sire, you can't do that if he's telling the truth..." Merlin started protesting before Arthur cut him off.
"Unlike you I have gloves on. So go find those supplies so we can get him to Gaius before he dies," Arthur said looking the injury over, the arrow was thankfully not barbed so all the prince had to do was grip the thing and pull.
Merlin took little time in finding all the necessary tools for a stretcher. They had been hunting all morning and their luck had paid off when they took down a large buck. The skin was still fresh but it was strong and large enough to hold the unknown soldiers weight. Arthur took up the young mans blade, a thing of great beauty and craftsmanship, and helped Merlin to drag the stretcher in the direction of the horses.
It took them half an hour to exit the forest. The stretcher was attached to Merlin's saddle before they raced as fast as they dared, straight to the castle.
Thankfully Gaius was just on his way out of the castle as they approached. "Who's this?"
"We have no idea," Merlin said hopping down from the saddle to help get the stretcher unhitched. "We were on our way back when I heard someone scream, this is who we found. He had an arrow in his shoulder. He said it was poisoned before he passed out."
"Let's get him to my quarters. Hopefully I will be able to find the antidote in time."
Harry was in and out of consciousness for several days, hearing snatches of conversation that he couldn't understand for the fever that ravaged his body and the weakness in his limbs made it impossible to move let alone sit up enough to hear clearly. Harry had never before been a victim of Bella's poison so the pain and fire that coursed through his veins and the magical conduits alongside them had his body and mind convulsing. Wishing only for someone to kill him so it would be over.
He knew he must be calling out for his friends, his lost loved ones but couldn't hear himself clearly and half of them might well have only been in his mind. That along with the pleas for death, pleas for them to have mercy and kill him.
None heeded his requests and after an indeterminate amount of time Harry woke with far less pain but no less weakness. His eyes were unfocused but that wasn't all that unusual considering he had no charms to help rectify the defects his eyes had. So sight was not the first sense he used to determine where he was but touch and smell warred against one another to convey the vast amounts of information his mind was not yet ready to process.
Herbs, books, linen, fire. The smells Harry associated with the potions lab during school.
The stretch of cloth bandages across his shoulder and chest, as well as along his left leg, which would have been strange had he not realized that Madame Pomfrey had magically splinted it. Skelo-grow had become so scarce she dared not use it unless it were an emergency and Harry refused to take any potions that were not to save his life or keep him conscious during battle. Pain he could deal with, loosing a fellow resistance fighter he could not. So she'd used a bone splinting spell, they were risky and easily broken so they were used very rarely.
That was when Harry realized he could hear soft breathing nearby. Someone sleeping relatively peacefully.
Harry tried to lever himself up, try and see even the vague dark shadows around the room but felt the wound in his shoulder bite and spark with pain that had him gasping and falling back onto the cot. The sound he made had the gentle breather snorting awake and he heard soft quick footfalls before there was a flash of light as a candle was light.
The vague shape was human and nearly all white before a wizened face came into better focus as an older man leaned over him to look into his eyes. "You finally with us?"
Harry frowned and clenched his teeth against the pain in his shoulder before nodding. "Where?" His voice was gruff and hurt like hell but he got the one word out easily enough.
"You're in Camelot," The man said as he stepped away to what Harry assumed was a table but couldn't see well enough to discern for sure. "My name is Gaius. I am the castle physician. You were found in the woods by Prince Arthur and my apprentice Merlin. Do you remember how you got to be there in such a precarious position?"
The man, Gaius, held a small wooden cup to Harry's lips, who drank greedily trying to come up with some explanation that would be accepted here. He had no idea how open they were with magic, or if this man was a threat. But what was the point in staying safe when all he had ever known was gone, when he was cut off from a world that he knew no longer existed.
"Don't suppose you'd believe me if I said it was magic?" Harry whispered conscious of the fact that his vocal cords were not up for a long speech at full volume.
Gaius pulled a chair closer so he could sit comfortably near the cot and still be able to hear Harry whispering. "That would make the most sense given that the poison on the arrow could only be made with magic. How did you come into contact with someone who had that much power?"
Well that answered that question. Harry relaxed back into the cot and sighed. "Long story," Harry's voice cracked over the two words and he heard Gaius huff slightly.
"You should still be resting. Hopefully now that the fever has dissipated you'll be able to have a restful nights sleep."
"Doubt that," Harry croaked but closed his eyes anyway.
Harry could hear the scowl in the old man's voice. "You will try none the less. Prince Arthur will want to speak with you tomorrow and the King will wish to formally greet you in court as soon as you are well enough."
Harry grimaced at the thought of being paraded around a royal court. Harry heard Gaius move away and spent the rest of the night half dozing.
The next day, when Giaus was off doing errands and Merlin was helping Arthur, Harry tested his magic. He hadn't ever told his soldiers but he could do small things with his magic without using a wand. Things that only affected himself though, never others. The magic on his eyes for example was the first he'd learned of the strange talent, and only through repeated castings of the spell, it had to be renewed every few days and Harry had been using it for almost a year. Eventually his magic had just started acting on only the tiniest nudge to complete the spell.
Now though it was more like pushing a very large boulder up a mountain. The effort leaving Harry breathless and panting, sweat beading on his forehead and a pulsing ache behind his eyes but at least now he could see. One liability taken care of, a whole host of other problems to follow.
Harry sighed as he lay back on his cot, trying to think of what might have motivated Draco to cast that spell on him. Could it have been that the Slytherin had wanted the Dark lord in power again? Doubtful, Voldemort would just as soon kill Draco as thank him for that. Did the spell go wrong? Was Harry supposed to only be transported to a new destination? Only a few years back in time? There was no real way of knowing Harry didn't know what language Draco had been using or why he'd been using a staff of all things.
With a huff Harry decided he'd think more on it later. Right now he had to get ready to stand in front of a king. The King of Camelot no less.
With great effort, and a deep seated ache in his shoulder, Harry levered himself up out of the cot. Gaius had left him a small washing basin and the water was now lukewarm as he carefully washed off the sweat and stench of death that still clung to him even after Gaius had washed his wound. The poison was still being flushed out of his system. He wondered if he might be able to get a real bath any time soon.
Once he'd cleaned up as much as he could Harry slowly walked across the room to the table that Gaius had place his clothes. Or rather Merlin's clothes. Harry's had been a lost cause, his Dragon Scale armor the only thing that had been salvaged. That was laid out on the chair just beside the table. Merlin had cleaned it yesterday, while he was cleaning Arthur's apparently. It took more time than Harry would have imagined to get dressed. Doing so with one arm wasn't easy, especially with armor that was meant to go over your head first and tied at the sides. He cringed and winced when he raised his arm too fast or had to move it in a way that pulled at the still healing wound but persevered. He would need all the protection he could get once he was in front of a king who was notorious for hating everything magical.
Once he'd finally gotten his armor on but couldn't tie any of the various threads to make it fit him perfectly the door opened and Merlin was there looking rushed. "Sorry I'm late. Arthur wouldn't let me go until the last minute. Your already dressed!"
"I'm not an invalid."
"But your injury," Merlin tried to get a look at it while pushing the armor out of the way.
"I'm fine, really. If you could just help me with the ties we can head to the bloody meeting with the court."
Merlin looked up at him and looked like he wanted to argue but rolled his eyes and began tying the side seams closed. "I don't think I ever asked what your armor was made of. It looks like leather but feels more like chain-mail."
"Dragon scale," Harry said simply and Merlin looked up to glare. Harry suddenly remembered that Hermione had mentioned Merlin was thought to be a Dragon Lord. "I found some of the shed scales and used them to create the armor," It was a small lie but one he felt he needed to tell to keep from giving Merlin any idea that he didn't belong in this time. He had no idea what the status of the dragons were in this time. There had been more than one near extinction of the creatures.
"Where did you find dragon scale?" Merlin asked astonished by the thought.
Harry looked away from the young man's face. He hated lying. "Dragons made it a habit of staying in the mountains near my home."
"Really? Did King Uther's laws against magic reach your lands as well then?"
Harry shook his head "Magic is everywhere there. In everything. No law could have controlled it. I wouldn't have let it."
"Don't let Uther hear you say that. He may be accommodating you now but if he found out you sided with the magic users," Merlin let the statement lie there a heavy reminder of how out of his depth Harry was.
Harry hummed in acknowledgment and shifted as Merlin finished with the armor. "Well. Aside from that, King Uther is a good man. He looks after his people and will be willing to help if he can," Merlin said as he opened the door to lead Harry out.
Harry could feel himself tensing, putting up his guard as he noticed the two knights stationed outside Gaius' chambers, no doubt keeping an eye on him. "Merlin, do you have my sword? I don't like going anywhere without it."
Merlin blinked as if he'd forgotten about it and ran to his room where he exited with the sword, it's hilt glittering in the sunlight streaming in through the high windows, scabbard newly cleaned as no doubt the blade had been.
Harry blinked as he felt a stinging in his eyes. Everything familiar to him could now fit on his person, armor, sword, and his memories. He coughed and gulped back his emotions as he let Merlin fasten the belt around his waist.
"Ready?" Merlin asked.
"As I'll ever be I suspect."
Harry was close to bolting when he was confronted by the crowd of people milling about the throne room. He was to be a spectacle for these people. A strange new visitor who'd been attacked by magic. From a land none of them had ever heard of.
"I'll see you in there, I have to go stand by Arthur," Merlin informed him.
Harry nodded mutely. Not trusting his voice when all he felt like doing was fleeing so he could get the majority of his magic back before facing a crowd of people who could easily overpower him in his weakened state.
When the crowd suddenly hushed Harry's gaze caught on what he knew would be the King. He looked strong, hardened by years on the throne but he smiled a this son and the whispers among the crowd were all mostly approving. Slowly, as if under a compulsion charm the crowd parted to leave a clear path from the doors that Harry stood in front of to the throne at the back of the room. Clenching his jaw and gathering his courage around him like a shield Harry walked forward, twitching slightly as the tone of the voices changed as they started talking about him.
"Welcome to Camleot, I am King Uther Pendragon," The king said and Harry just realized he hadn't told anyone his name as of yet. Too used to people already knowing.
"Harry James Potter, Your Majesty," Harry replied bowing as far as he could with his injury, not really sure if he were using the correct title but he could always blame it on cultural differences.
"My son says you were grievously wounded. Would you be inclined to tell us what happened?"
Harry unconsciously gripped his left arm and said "I was in the middle of a battle. One of the enemy caught me by surprise."
"Where do you hail from? There have been no major battles in the surrounding kingdoms and Gaius was hard pressed to find a cure to the poison."
Harry twitched again. Left hand sliding to the hilt of his sword taking some comfort in the heat that radiated from it even if he wouldn't be able to unsheathe it. There was no getting around this and he figured if he were to be killed he might as well tell as much of the truth as possible.
"My army and I were defending Hogwarts. The castle was the last of our defensive positions. The gates had fallen and the Deatheaters were closing in. We held out for as long as we could but there were too many of them and our members too new to battle. Not inclined to kill even if it would save their lives," Harry was just speaking now, he didn't see the crowd or the king or the room decorated in crimson reds and dragon insignia. "I thought if we could just defend the gate we'd be safe. Just for one more day, one more night to be together to think of something that would win the war," Harry huffed out a laugh and stared vacantly up at the ceiling. "I was naive to think it's be that easy. That Voldemort wouldn't have some sort of plan to take me down. I was the only hope they had and without me-"
Harry started out of his reverie as a hand landed on his shoulder and out of instinct tried to lift his sword to defend himself, earning himself a pained hiss through his nose and the distinct sound of drawing swords. King Uther was in front of him eyes sad but determined. "Your people will know how to continue on. Until your return they will hold you in their memory."
Harry felt tears sliding down his cheeks as he trembled slightly with pain and grief. "They're all gone. I'm the only one left," Harry whispered knowing that the king would be the only one to hear. This king, this man knew the weight of carrying the hope of entire people. "I failed them."
Uther squeezed Harry's shoulder and it was like the world's light shone on Harry for the first time since he'd died the first time. Even as his vision darkened around the edges. "'m so tired," Harry said blinking slowly world tilting slightly as he felt himself swaying.
"Gaius!" He heard Uther exclaim even as strong hands lowered him gently to the ground, legs no longer able to keep him upright.
"It's nice. This place," Harry mumbled as his eyes closed, content to just float in the strange warmth of Uther's presence.