"There are no safe choices. Only other choices."
- Libba Bray, A Great and Terrible Beauty
ACT FOUR: CHOICE
Neither Hermione nor Harry knew what to say immediately following Malfoy's rather long explanation. In fact, they sat in silence for a full thirty minutes once he was done, digesting what he said, and wondering how truthful it was.
But, it was like Hermione had said earlier – he believed he was from the future with all his heart, and if he believed it, in the wizard world, then why couldn't it be true? And for Hermione, it just made so much sense – how he was acting, why he was doing what he was doing, even his rather large change in attitude since the World Cup.
So that it, thought Hermione, she believed him.
She glanced out of the corner of her eye to Harry, to see what he was thinking. To be fair, he looked rather constipated with his thinking face on, but she could also see the thoughts swirling about as they came to the same conclusion; in some way, it was a product of growing up Muggle – they came to accept stranger things in the wizarding world easier than those who actually grew up in the wizarding world because they already had preconceived notions of what could or could not happen. Magic was, quite simply to Hermione and Harry, magic. No rhyme, logic, or reason.
A quick glance at Malfoy made Hermione realise that their silence had taken a toll on the young man: he sat with his head in his hands, bowled over and hunched in his seat as he waited for Hermione and Harry to pass sentence on him.
Well. There was nothing else to do but let him know, now.
"I believe you," said Hermione, clearly, her voice ringing through the silence of the Room of Requirements strongly.
Malfoy's head shot up, bloodshot eyes meeting Hermione's. Harry, beside her, gave a tiny noise in his throat that sounded strangled, but immediately he cleared it, the rasp echoing in the room.
"Same," he added.
Malfoy continued to stare at them.
"Everything?" he finally asked, hoarsely.
Hermione nodded. Harry grimaced. "Even the bit about the other Death Eaters coming back, too. Although I'm still confused why I don't have my memories, yet."
Malfoy sighed, running his hands through his now-messy hair. "I'm not sure. All I can assume is that the clock sent everyone back to a time they thought they could make the most effort or change in. Or not. As far as I know, I'm the only one with my memories. No one else knows – Theo, my father, Adrian..."
Silence descended on the three again.
"You glossed over bits," said Hermione tentatively, breaking the silence with a soft voice. "Was it... was it very bad?"
Malfoy shuddered. "Yes."
She nodded, releasing air heavily through her nose as she did so. "So. That's it then. There's no choice in the matter."
"'Mione?" asked Harry, slowly, blinking.
She turned to face him, her eyes glowing with an inner awareness that sent a shiver up Harry's spine. He could hear a long-almost forgotten echo of Ron's voice stating, in awe, you're brilliant, you know, but a bit scary, too...
"If Malfoy and the others came back in time to change things," began Hermione evenly, the fire from the fireplace mirrored in her eyes, "Then we need to ensure those changes happen. And they need to happen soon."
"The third task," answered Malfoy wearily. "That's the night it all went wrong."
Harry sighed, leaning back into the plush couch and with a tight voice, "Then I suppose we're going to have to plan this all out very carefully, aren't we?"
The day of the third task began with Draco heaving over the toilet in the Room of Requirements, anxiety bubbling up so strongly in his gut that it physically churned and manifested itself.
If Potter failed to stop what happened tonight, he thought wildly, if he failed – it could all begin again and without anyone else remembering, how could he, a fourteen-year-old boy going on thirty-something, manage to stop Voldemort?
The simple answer was, he couldn't.
And then he would be forced to do this all over again.
Find the clock. That stupid clock.
Find others like him, who would go against the Death Eaters and Voldemort, who could aid Potter.
And then go back in time, again, and hope for a better result. Like, being sent to his first year, and not making a mess of his introduction with Potter and gaining his cousin's hand in friendship. Surely, that would mean something?
With shaking hands, Draco managed to wipe his face with a damp washcloth, flush the toilet, and stood on wobbly legs, heaving himself in front of the mirror above the vanity, looking at his sickly pale face and the bags under his eyes.
Tonight, everything would change.
He had to be ready.
He began donning his Slytherin uniform like armour, each layer another block, another wall to hide behind. He buttoned his trousers—his face smoothed over. He slipped on his shoes—his eyes hardened. He buttoned up his Oxford shirt and a tiny smirk appeared on his lips. He knotted his Slytherin green and grey tie, and then added his last piece: his green jumper and smoothed it down with a calm, practiced hand.
His grey eyes were steely, cold, and calculated, and certainly not weary, worried, or anxious as they had been; no, Draco thought with a nod of his head at his reflection. He was ready. It was time.
Hermione waited with Harry in the Champion's tent, the same one that they used for the first task before the dragons. This time though, the anxiety levels were nowhere near as high as they had been during the first task; in some, awkward, sense, the four TriWizard champions had begun to anticipate the tasks and the challenges ahead. Although none of them possibly knew – with the exception of Harry, of course – that the Cup was a portkey to a cemetery in England.
He frowned, realising that even with Barty Crouch, Jr. helping him through the maze tonight, eliminating obstacles where he could for the teenager that Harry would ultimately need to be the one to stop both Viktor Krum and Cedric from reaching the cup prematurely. He knew from Malfoy's retelling that he would come across Krum using the Cructiatus curse on Cedric, and that he would knock him out, only for he and Cedric to go their separate ways. The two would meet up again, and their darker nature would prevail as Cedric would try to get the Cup over Harry.
And Harry would need to decide how he was going to handle that situation when it occurred. Because he couldn't just flat-out knock Cedric out of the running – they were both Hogwarts Champions! But he couldn't let Cedric come with him. And he certainly couldn't tell Cedric the truth.
Harry scoffed out loud, and completely missed the incredulous and disbelieving looks from the other three at the noise.
Yes, he thought, can you imagine? I go up to Cedric and say, 'hey – Cedric, by the way. You can't take the Cup and become Hogwart's TriWizard Champion because it will take you to a cemetery where Voldemort and his most loyal servant Wormtail are waiting to use me a ritual. Voldemort wants his body back – could you kindly not succumb to peer pressure and allow me to take the title instead? Oh, really? How kind. You're so Hufflepuff. I won't forget this. No, not at all. Thank you for understanding. Really.'
No. That would never happen.
Cedric Diggory may be a Hufflepuff: a young man that was kind, friendly, and tenacious... but he was also shrew, foolhardy, and loyal to such a fault that if he knew Harry was running headfirst, deliberately, into trouble... he would go with him.
Probably out of some kind of misguided 'older brother' complex, being an only child but a prefect and therefore, a child herder, but still...
A squeeze on his hand brought Harry's attention to the very still and silent girl sitting beside him. Her brown eyes met his green, and Harry felt the ball of anxiety in his stomach loosen, if only just.
"It'll work out," whispered Hermione.
"I know," he whispered back.
"Lady and gentlemen!" announced Bagman as he swept into the tent, with Dumbledore, Karkaroff, Maxime, and reporters, following behind him.
Harry and Hermione shared another quick reassuring glance before she ducked behind Viktor Krum (Harry pretended not to see the quick kiss she pressed to his cheek) and then she vanished out a partially open flat.
"Are you ready?" continued the TriWizard announcer.
None of the Champions dignified that with a response.
The flamboyant man cleared his throat nervously and turned his smile on the delegation behind him. "Well, let's move out to the maze, shall we?"
Harry allowed himself to fall into line last, shuffling out behind Krum. Immediately leaving the tent, a deafening roar rocked Harry back on his heels. The tent had been silenced from hearing anything in the stands.
Lights popped as Rita Skeeter's reporter began taking pictures, smoke waffling up into the clear night sky. Harry blinked the spots away in response, his eyes darting this way and that from behind his glasses.
The maze was lit with huge, floating balls of light, turning the stadium Quidditch stands into shadow. Harry could only make out a rolling mass of people, swarming up and down and waving flags or signs.
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN," shouted Bagman, his voice amplified by his Sonorus charm. "ARE YOU READY?"
He began to shout and introduce the four Champions, beginning with the foreign visitors, and ending with Cedric and Harry, last. Drawn to the usual Gryffindor section, Harry could just make out a long poster reading Harry Potter for Champion. An especially large cheer erupted from them when his name was called.
The ball of anxiety loosened some more.
Bagman cancelled the charm and faced the four Champions, who were lined in a row facing him.
"Mr. Diggory, Mr. Potter," began Bagman with a grin on his face, "As you both have the highest score, you will enter the maze first, followed by Mr. Krum and then Ms. Delacour. The object of this task is to navigate the maze, disarming or disabling anything that prevents you from moving forward. The ultimate prize is the TriWizard Cup, located somewhere in the maze.
"Once inside, you will not hear the crowd, or us you. Should you require any help, thus disqualifying yourself, you need only to send up red sparks and one of the Hogwarts professors, or Ministry employees here monitoring the Tournament, will retrieve you.
"Are there any questions?"
Harry shook his head, and saw the others do the same out of the corner of his eye, despite their fuzziness. Krum had a death-grip on his wand, his knuckles stark white while Fleur Delacour was doing an admirable job in trying to keep her shaking under control and hidden. Cedric was pale and breathing in through his nose heavily and quickly.
If only they knew...
Harry, for the most part, felt detached. Malfoy's warnings and – although flawed – memory of the final task ensured that Harry knew what he was facing. Including the answer to the riddle the Sphinx would toss at him.
Bagman nodded, catching everyone's eyes and Harry's last. He lingered on the fourteen year old, almost seeming to want to say something but ultimately deciding against it as his face shuttered and his shoulders slumped, briefly.
"Very well," he said, bringing his wand up. "So... on my mark, Harry and Cedric! Three – two – one—"
His wand erupted with a bang and Cedric and Harry lunged into the maze entrance, cataloguing the incredibly tall, green walls of strange shrubbery, the eerie silence that engulfed them the minute they entered, and the odd, heavy quality of the silenced air raised the hairs at the back of Harry's neck and sent a tingle down his spine.
Harry pulled out his wand, and muttered, lowly, "Lumos."
Beside him, Cedric did the same.
The entrance to the maze was dark, long and narrow, and for about fifty yards, remained straight until it branched into a fork – left and right.
Cedric and Harry paused, glancing between the two options. They looked at each other, and Harry eyed the left path, which he was closest to. Well, then.
"See you," he offered gamely with a bit of a wobbly smile, and Cedric sent one back, disappearing down the right path. Just as Harry stepped onto the left, he heard another bang off in the distance and realised that ten minutes had already passed, and Viktor was entering the maze. Soon, Fleur would be behind him.
He sped up.
Everything remained quiet, and Harry couldn't help but feel cheated, but anxious, knowing Crouch was watching him and his progress, subtly nudging him in one direction or another.
Harry continued down his path, turning right or left arbitrarily depending on the mood, nearly frustrated by how bored he was. Where was the action? Something to test his skills on?
Turning right another time, he sighed at another long, empty path.
Movement, a rustling of leaves and scuffle of shoes, had his turning with his wand up and ready – and Cedric stumbled from the opposite path Harry turned from, the corner of his sleeve smoking and a wild look on his face.
Harry lowered his wand and blinked.
"Hagrid's Blast-Ended Skrewts!" Cedric hissed angrily. "They're enormous – I just barely got away!"
Harry mentally noted not to take that path.
Cedric darted through a newly made hole in the maze, and Harry was once again alone, half-wondering what just happened – had Cedric really just appeared to tell him about the Skrewts?
With a shake of his head, the Boy-Who-Lived wandered forward and turned the corner – only to encounter the mind-numbing cold of a Dementor and the screams of his mother.
Yes, Harry remembered Malfoy mentioning this: not a Dementor, but a boggart. Harry raised his wand and enounced clearly, "Riddikulus," picturing the boggart-dementor's robe on fire and it running away, frightened. The boggart turned into a wisp of smoke, disappearing in a puff, leaving a free path.
Malfoy had not remembered how many twists and turns Harry experienced, nor how long he had spent travelling, just what he encountered: boggart-dementor, gravity spell, the sphinx and then the Cup. His challenges were ridiculously easy.
Uneasy at how he had yet to encounter that gravity spell, despite his many twists and turns, Harry paused down one path and scratched his head with his wandtip.
"This is just not working," he muttered, physically lifting and lowering his shoulders with his sigh. He laid his wand flat on his hand and muttered "Point Me," hoping he was still going northeast.
When the wand finally stopped spinning, facing the correct direction, Harry figured he could only go forward. He began to step forward, knowing Crouch would herd him in the right direction, when an earth-shattering feminine scream ripped through the maze.
Harry immediately ducked and knelt in a crouch, his wand out and his head swivelling back and forth and he tried to pinpoint the scream. Fleur!
Seconds later, the scream tapered off, and Harry held his breath. The maze stilled, as if waiting for something monumental to occur.
Harry held his breath, and cautiously stood, eyes roaming the sky. When no red sparks appeared after a few tense seconds, he frowned and began moving forward, in the direction he was planning on going. The scream had sounded like it was coming from ahead...
His unease steadily grew with the lack of red sparks. Malfoy had not said what happened to the other Champions, other than Cedric's attack by Krum. What had happened to Fleur? Harry knew she lived – she married Bill and had a daughter, one that was killed in front of Malfoy years in the future – but Hermione would be the first to remind him that things could easily change when tampering with time...
A dark corner urged Harry right as the path cut sharply into a 90-degree angle, and Harry skidded to a sudden stop, his heart dropping.
An enormous Blast-Ended Skrewt chattered its claws in front of him, its beady eyes focused on Harry with intensity.
"Fuck," the word escaped Harry unknowingly.
It chattered once more, and then began scuttling forward. Harry ducked and rolled, shouting "Stupefy!" as he did so, but the spell bounced off its armour and only irritated the creature.
One of its many legs caught the edge of Harry's shirt, tearing it and rendering a long, bloody gash that had Harry crying out wordlessly. He fell to the ground on his back, the Skrewt hovering above him with its stinger unfurling from its back, poised to strike. Harry raised his wand and shouted, desperately, as fear coated his voice, at the underbelly of the creature, "IMPEDIMENTA!"
The skrewt haltered in its attack, but Harry knew it wasn't permanent; he was lucky catching the underbelly. Frozen, but with its eyes tracking him, Harry scrambled to his feet and plunged into the path behind the skrewt, pushing himself forward as fast as he could with his heart beating loudly in his ears.
When he felt he was far enough away, he slowed to a jog and then a walk, wheezing. The pain from the gash suddenly thrummed, reminding Harry of his narrow escape. The blood was sticky and starting to dry, an awkward feeling as he clenched and unclenched his left hand.
A "point me" had Harry now going northwest, and something in him told him things would begin happening. Not a minute later, he heard the rustle of leaves, scuffling, and Cedric's voice cutting sharply through the night, "What are you doing?"
It came from the path running parallel to his.
Cedric continued, his voice raising higher and higher. "What the hell d'you think you're doing?"
The air burst with Cedric's screams, and Harry, horrified but knowing it was going to happen, used his wand to burn a hole in the brush.
Thank you for the spell, Malfoy, he thought, briefly, as he pushed through the branches and sharp leaves, many of which left bloody marks and scrapes across his cheeks and hands.
He pushed through and fell to his knees in front of a blank-eyed Krum, who turned at Harry's arrival and moved his wand from the jerking and writhing Cedric to Harry himself.
"Stupefy," cried Harry first, stunning Krum and causing him to fall face-first in the dirt ground.
"Are you all right?" asked Harry, rising to his feet and ambling over to Cedric, reaching out and helping him to his feet as well.
The older teen had a dark, troubled look upon his face as his eyes focused on Krum's fallen form. "Yeah," he began.
Harry raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"Yeah. I don't believe it... he crept up behind me. I heard him, I turned around, and he had his wand on me..." there was a disbelieving note to Cedric's voice, one that warred with the anger growing in his clipped, terse words.
He was still shaking when he looked at Harry.
Harry, knowing that Krum was under the Imperious but Cedric didn't know that, knew he had to say something. "Well... I didn't think Krum would do that. Was capable of that."
"So did I," admitted Cedric, and the two stood in silence for a few moments. The gravity of the Tournament seemed physically to weigh on Cedric as he realised what he was involved in.
Harry ventured, "Did you hear Fleur scream earlier?"
"Yeah," said Cedric, brows furrowing. "You don't think..." his eyes travelled to Krum.
Harry swallowed. "I don't know. I hope not."
They fell silent again, before Harry mustered his Gryffindor courage and said, "Well, best send up sparks so they can collect him. He's an arse, but we don't want him eaten by a skewt on our conscience."
"He'll deserve it," muttered Cedric, but ever the Hufflepuff, he sent up sparks with his wand, where they hovered above the young man, marking his spot in the maze.
And with another shared look, both continued in opposite directions. Harry knew they'd come across one another again soon.
Harry encountered the sphinx, and like Malfoy said, it was the same riddle. Solving it quickly, Harry moved past the magical beast and with a quick turn, he was in the center of the maze and staring at the Cup.
It was at the end of a long, narrow passage in a circular clearing. Several other passages met at the clearing, indicating Harry was not on the only path to the Cup. And, from behind his dirty glasses, Harry spotted a figure coming from one of those paths" Cedric.
It was a race to see who could get to the clearing first; him, or Cedric. Harry knew he had to get there first, if only to stop him from being killed.
But something else got to Cedric first, the shape coming quickly and silently up from behind him.
"Cedric! Behind you!" shouted Harry, desperately.
Cedric glanced back with just enough time to spare to see a large, lumbering spider nearly collide with him. Instead, the teen rolled out of the way and Harry began launching spell after spell at one of Hagrid's "friends."
His left arm was practically useless, throbbing in pain with his heartbeat, but Harry stilled raised it as the spider bore down on him, pinchers tightening around his legs and lifting him in the air. Harry wriggled and struggled, managing to free one of his legs and kicked the pinchers hard, but the spider's response was to clench tighter. A rippling pain shot through Harry as they broke the skin and muscle, crunching his bone.
Through the haze, Harry thought, madly, Expelliarmus! and then fell on his neck and upper back as the spider dropped him with a fling, several feet away and at Cedric's feet. Together, both teens shouted "stupefy!" at the same time, and the spider wobbled as it tipped over, destroying the hedge to their left, stunned.
"Harry?" asked Cedric, "Are you okay?"
Harry grimaced in pain, biting back a groan as he tried to stand on his injured leg. With his luck, Wormtail would go after his right arm, matching the two marks and all he'd have left was a good left leg.
He could barely stand, but he tried. He went white with pain, eyes ahead on the Cup. He wouldn't be able to stop Cedric now, for anything.
"Go on, then," he panted. "The Cup; it's yours."
Please, oh God, please, he thought wildly, let him be Hufflepuff enough to say no. Let this work.
"No," the teen said, looking at Harry struggling to stand and remain standing. "You've saved me twice now, so you should take it."
Harry bit back a smile. It was working!
He placed a frown on his face and shook his head. He needed Cedric to practically force the Cup in Harry's hands. "That's not how it works. The one who reaches the Cup wins the most points and wins the Tournament. That will be you, not me. Not on this leg."
"Stop being so bloody noble. I wasn't supposed to be in this anyway. It's yours. Take it!"
"No," repeated Cedric, firmly. "You told me about the dragons. You saved the hostages in the second task, and I didn't. You saved me twice here, just now. It's yours, Harry. Take it. You deserve it."
Harry shook his head, and leaned what weight he could on the hardest part of the hedge he could find.
"Harry," repeated Cedric, firmly. "Take it."
Well, thank you, thought Harry, despite outwardly keeping his frowny face on. This is exactly what I wanted.
Hesitantly, Harry stepped forward, once, twice, then ten steps, then fifteen, and then he was barely five steps from the Cup. It gleamed in the artificial light hovering above the stadium, casting shadows on its engravings and the names of previous winners.
And then a small part of him, a very small, distant part, piped up: he deserved this, not you. And you're going to steal it from him. Yes, you're saving his life, but at the cost of what?
His life? Repeated Harry mentally, outwardly scowling as he realised his conscience wrestled his more Slytherin side.
"Both of us," he sighed.
"We'll take it at the same time," offered Harry. "That way, it'll still be a Hogwarts victory. We can both tie for it."
A stunned look graced Cedric's face. "Really?"
"Yeah," sighed Harry, another longing look at the Cup as he squashed his Slytherin voice. "We both helped each other, so we both should take it."
Then a grin split Cedric's face and Harry realised that robbing Cedric of this, would've been just as bad as seeing him dead. He would just need to be on his toes when they arrived to stop Cedric from dying.
"You're on," agreed the teen. "Come on!"
And with that, he helped Harry to the Cup. They must have looked a sight, thought Harry, with him hopping on his good right leg and leaning heavily against the older boy, the angle of his left arm around Cedric's shoulders breaking open the wound again.
"On three?" asked Cedric, and Harry nodded. "One – two – three..."
They touched the Cup, still with their arms around each other, and were yanked forward and away, far away from Hogwarts.
They landed awkwardly, Harry instantly crumbling to the ground. The stadium and maze were long gone, revealing just dark, awkward tombstone shapes and an odd, flickering light just ahead.
Instantly, Harry knew where they were.
He struggled to stand, just as Cedric was muttering, "Where are we? D'you think this is part of the maze?" and footsteps began to move towards them.
Cedric turned to see what Harry's thoughts were, only to see the younger teen point his wand at him.
"I know you won't believe me," began Harry grimly, "But I'm saving your life."
And before Cedric had time to open his mouth, he was flat on his back, unconscious.
When Cedric came to, he opened his eyes and rolled onto his side, wondering who was shouting and why everything was so loud. Hot, angry heat rushed through him as he remembered Harry stunning him, knowing that the younger boy duped him and had the Cup while he was the second-place winner. That meant nothing.
He blinked, and pushed up on one hand to raise his shoulders, and stopped. Physically stopped breathing, stopped thinking, stopped everything.
Because Harry was standing, or as best as he could, in front of a tall, pale, noseless man. His lose grip held his wand aloft, and he was grinning as he said, in a high-pitched voice, "Now, Harry... bow."
And Harry did, unwillingly from what Cedric could see, and then he heard the chuckles and titters of the men who stood loosely in a circle around the two, their robes covering their bodies loosely but their masks identifying them instantly.
Cedric's anger at Harry, for stunning him, betraying him, shrivelled. "You won't believe me," he had said, "But I'm saving your life." Cedric could now believe the boy – but just how did he know?
You-Know-Who and Harry were tossing spells back and forth, Harry shouting them and Voldemort casting silently, but they were constantly turning in circles and around one another as Harry dove behind a grave. In doing so, he caught Cedric's eyes, and his mouth tightened in a straight line. His eyes, dark behind his glasses, darted behind Cedric to the Cup.
And Cedric understood.
No, he mouthed.
Harry nodded grimly, sparing the time to turn and shout, "stupefy!" he then faced Cedric again and mouthed, clearly, go get help.
Could he really leave Harry by himself fighting the evilest Dark Lord in their history? He was a kid! Cedric couldn't do that – but then he remembered the whispers and rumours: the Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets – basilisks and werewolves, and his previous Defense professors disappearing at the end of each year.
Maybe he could handle himself.
So, shamefully, Cedric nodded once at Harry, and burst into action, startling the nearest Death Eaters who had ignored him, and disappeared with the Cup leaving further pandemonium behind.
Draco felt his insides twist as the Hogwarts Express pulled into King's Cross. The end of the TriWizard Tournament was, in his mind, a small success as Cedric Diggory was alive, and his return with the Cup meant that many people knew of Voldemort's return an entire year early. Harry had been badly wounded, almost more than previously, and Crouch had escaped when Cedric first appeared, but had been found and his story was enough to convince Fudge that Voldemort had truly returned.
Theo was quiet beside him, darting glances at his from behind his large book, but he knew better than to say anything. What mental conversation Draco was having with himself was clearly torturous enough that Theo would not add to it by asking his incredibly, newly secretive friend, what he was thinking.
The train rolled to a stop, steam billowing out of its stack and a whistle cutting sharply through the air. Around him in other compartments, Draco could hear students laughing and calling out their goodbye's to one another. He slowly stood and charmed his trunk featherlight, and began to dredge his feet forward and off the carriage.
He spotted his father right away, standing apart from the teeming mass of students, luggage, pets, and parents. Off on a far side, he spotted Granger and Potter leaving the carriage with the girl Weasley and Longbottom.
"See you soon, Harry!"
"We'll speak soon, okay?"
The voices flowed over one another as even Diggory stopped by to say a quiet thank you and goodbye to the Boy-Who-Lived.
Draco couldn't, of course; he couldn't even send a letter to him this summer, warning him of Umbridge and what was to come (would she even still be their professor next year with Fudge agreeing Voldemort was back?).
Instead, Draco met his father's cold eyes, and shivered. What was he going to do now?
The first night back at his relatives' house had Harry succumbing to some very unusual dreams: dreams about spending Christmas with Sirius, a strange quill that cut into his hand with the words I must not tell lies, with Snape flying across the Potions classroom floor, a strange pain in his head, and a statue of a wizard, elf, and centaur. More images of blood, of battles, and friends dying, reached him and his subconscious, where a voice, deeper, older, and weary said: it's all true. Believe, Harry. Believe.
And when Harry Potter, soon-to-be-fifteen-years-old, opened his eyes the first morning back at the Dursley's, he remembered.
He remembered everything.
Author's Note [June.06.15]: Apologies for the incredibly long time in updating. First year of the PhD went well, although courses, TAing, and work kept me quite busy. There is probably a change in writing style between this chapter and the last, but I'll do my best in keeping them similar as I don't think my fictional writing has changed – or improved – as much as my academic writing.
Unsure of when the next update will happen; the next chapter is planned out. However, I am out of the country soon, and I plan on spending my summer researching and working on conference papers, and spending time with my husband (almost one year!) and new kitten.
Thanks for not giving up on me, or this story. Best!