New Year, New Chapter!
I am continuously amazed at the feedback I get from this story, and am so happy for every new, existing, and OG reader. Thank you so much for going on this journey with me, I know it's been a long, drawn-out, crazy one, but I can't wait for you all to see the epic conclusion I've got planned.
It was because of every positive comment and wonderful message of constructive feedback that made me continue this story when I was sure that I was giving it up for good, so, thank you. Thank you all :)
- I have embellished/extended some of JKs original work in this
OoOoO Toast to the Ones Here Today (Part Three) OoOoO
Ron's eyes cast about the dark, cluttered, room with furrowed brows. "I don't- this isn't…" He squinted, vainly looking for something to identify the new space they found themselves in. "It can't be … the Manor can it?" he whispered to Harry. Fear, shame, and rage colored his voice.
Harry started, and then No, this wasn't the Malfoy Manor - luckily, not yet - but to Harry, for the present situation with the Order and with… the people who could have been his parents, this was almost as bad. Sometimes his nightmares revisited this evening with razor-sharp clarity, leaving him sweaty and exhausted the next morning. He wished he knew how to skip memories because this one he would have done in an instant.
"Christmas Day," Harry answered, loud enough to be heard by most of the Order. "While Ron was gone, Hermione and I went looking for someone we thought might have the real sword of Gryffindor to destroy the necklace. Bathilda Bagshot in Godric's Hollow, a friend of James and Lily Potter and of Dumbledore too."
James and Lily's heads snapped to his face when he mentioned Godric's Hollow, and several order members frowned at the witch's name.
"Bathilda you say?" one answered. "I haven't heard from that old bat in years- say, is she still alive, Albus?"
The Headmaster inclined his head. "As far as I am aware, yes, Bathilda still remains in her home in France as a safe haven for muggleborns," he answered lightly, but his half-moon spectacles glinted under the weak light of the memory, highlighting his deepening frown. "But I have never known her to keep her home so…" he trailed off as Memory Harry cast a Lumos ahead of them.
"...disgusting?" Fred finished, grimacing at the illuminated stacks of dirty clothes, cobwebs, dirt encased carpets, and rotting pieces of unnamed food around them.
"Good Merlin," Lily grimaced like the filth from the memory could touch her. "This is certainly not the Bathilda that I kne-"
The crouched form of Bathilda moved close to Harry, inches away from his face. Her weathered skin sagged starkly in the harsh light of Harry's wand tip, and her eyes looked at him with beady and unblinking intensity. Wiry hair was matted in patches across her head and her yellowed teeth seemed to be rotting when she opened her mouth to speak. Harry grimaced.
"What happened to her?" Harry heard James say softly.
"You are Potter?" she whispered.
Around Harry, Order members shifted on their feet. Heads tipped to the side. Some gasped.
"Did she just-" one of the Prewett brothers started, "-hiss at you?"
Others spoke up in turn as well. "She speaks Parseltongue perhaps?"
"That's not possible- I would know if she could, she was-"
"-different universe, of course, but this is just something else-"
"Quiet," Dumbledore's voice rolled across the room like thunder, and the Order suddenly fell silent under his command. The memory kept on, far softer than their previous conversations, and even Harry had to strain his ears to understand what was being said.
For Harry, her question had come as English to his ears again.
"Have you got anything for me?" Harry asked for the third time.
"Over there," she whispered, pointing to the corner. Harry raised his wand and saw the outline of a cluttered dressing table, which was heaped high with what looked like dirty laundry.
"So strange," Marlene commented under her breath.
In the instant that he looked away, his eyes raking the tangled mess for a sword hilt, a ruby - anything- she moved, weirdly, and Harry glanced back.
Fred and George's eyes widened. They took a step backward together and said, "Oh, fuck that," at the same time as Order members eyes widened around them.
Horror paralyzed Harry as he saw the wrinkled sack of skin from the old body of Bathilda Bagshot collapse, and a great snake poured out from the place where her neck had been, thick as Harry was wide and longer than Harry, Hermione, and Ron combined.
"No, no, absolutely not," Sirius said, taking a step back from the memory as if the serpent would strike him.
"Oh my God," Lily breathed out with wide eyes.
"Parseltongue," someone confirmed in a dazed voice.
The snake lunged as Harry raised his wand.
Harry and the Order then watched as Memory Harry solidly got his arse handed to him by the giant snake. Of course, it was terrifying to watch himself have to dodge fangs and get knocked about by a body mass nearly three times the entirety of his own, but it got even worse when Harry then had to see Hermione join the fray moments later.
Her face was tight with horror and fear, and it felt like a punch in the gut to Harry. Beside him, Ron had his fists clenched so tight at his side that he wouldn't be surprised if his fingernails came away bloody when they opened back up. His mouth was a slash of hard hatred across his face, and his eyes burned.
"You told me about this, you both did, but I didn't realize-" his words seemed to be forced out like gravel from his throat.
"We live," Harry reminded his friend softly, putting a hand on his shoulder for support. "We both do, don't forget."
Ron shook his head adamantly. "I left you to this."
Harry didn't have anything to say back to that.
Harry's eyes nearly rolled into the back of his head at the pain of his scar searing into his head. It was more painful, more powerful than it had ever felt in years. He could feel his malice and budding joy like a weeping wound. He clutched at his scar and tried to keep his eyes open through the pain. "He's coming! Hermione, he's coming!"
"Bit of nasty work, that scar," a short Order member frowned.
"Convenient though," a wizard beside him added, and Harry turned away from them both with a sour twist of his lips.
Glass rained down from a broken mirror and windows, blood poured from open lacerations, Hermione screamed as the snake lunged again towards her, and Harry yanked her over the bed while smashed shelves and splintered china projectiled everywhere.
"This is insane," James nearly whispered through the chaos. Lily closed her hand firmly around his, eyes wide at the destruction and at Harry's savage snarl as he tried to survive. Her hand then reached over, unconsciously it seemed, to Harry and held his in her other open palm as well.
Harry's lips parted in surprise, and he looked down at their joining with wonder.
She had reached out to him- for comfort- reassurance- something, but it was for him. Her worry across her face. Her pain and intensity. It was all for him.
He nearly smiled.
His fingers wound around the back of her hand, seeping into her warmth and strength, and Harry found in the split moment after that decision, to accept what she'd unconsciously given, he didn't want to let go again. Maybe not ever.
Hermione screamed, "Confringo!" and the spell flew around the room, exploding the wardrobe mirror and ricocheting back at them; Harry felt the heat of it sear his hand. He ignored the pain because he knew- he knew how close Voldemort was. Right at their backs - ready to grab and crush them-
"My wand was broken at that spell," Harry remembered suddenly. The image of the shattered wood and phoenix core splintering through would haunt him even if the Elder Wand had managed to fix it afterward.
Lily looked at him sharply. "You're searching for horcruxes after this with only one wand between the two of you?"
"I wouldn't have taken those odds if Cassandra Trelawney herself divined a good outcome," someone muttered, overhearing their conversation.
Glass cut his cheek. Blood flowed from the top of his head, getting into his eyes. Without pause or waiting to shake the red tinge from his vision, Harry pulled Hermione up with him in his arms, and leapt with all his strength from the bed out through the broken window into nothingness and the ground below. Hermione's scream reverberated through the night as they twisted in midair, apparating away, just barely away from Tom's outstretched hands behind them…
Harry grimaced. He watched with the Order in his own perspective as he and Voldemort's mind meshed from Voldemort's all-consuming rage at losing both Harry and Hermione in their disapparation. Harry watched as the Order and his past self were sucked into a new memory, courtesy of Voldemort's perspective, one of Halloween night, sixteen years ago, and a hollow coldness settled into his chest.
His eyes unconsciously dropped to the ground, this was it.
The mist didn't swirl indicating a new memory, but when the Order stood amongst a brand new landscape, far from the horrors of what they'd just seen, they rocked back on their feet and looked around wildly.
"What is- what just happened?" some exclaimed.
"Is this a different memory or-?"
"How did we-"
Harry held up a hand, and most Order members turned to him. He was surprised at their immediate attention but spoke quickly as Voldemort's long shadow emerged into being. "You've seen you-know-who's and I strange mental connection whenever he feels extremely strong about something from my past memories- how his thoughts leak over into mine. His rage just now, after our escape-" he shoved down the feeling of embarrassment for his next words, the weakness at not holding Voldemort at bay through occlumency, "- made his thoughts overtake my own and one of his own memories appeared to me. This- this was what slipped through."
"We're seeing through you-know-who's own memories?" someone asked faintly.
"Merlin," Marlene whispered, eyes wide.
Lily still hadn't released Harry's hand. In fact, she squeezed it after Harry's announcement, like she was offering her comfort in place of the nastiness of it all, and Harry responded with the tiniest flex of his own fingers.
They had not drawn the curtains, he saw them clearly in their little sitting room, the tall black-haired man in his glasses, making puffs of colored smoke erupt from his wand for the amusement of the small black-haired boy in his blue pajamas.
Several among the Order immediately knew where they were, and what this memory must have meant. Sirius, among the first. "What the fuck is this?" he took an involuntary step back and breathed out.
Lily's hand froze in Harry's, and James's eyes widened. Both adults glued themselves to the events unfolding, and Harry once more wished that he knew how to skip these memories. He didn't want to see this again, and he definitely did not want them to see how they had died in Harry's own world. It didn't seem fair for some reason, to hold them to this memory.
"Is this-" McGonagall said with eyes as large as saucers. Her mouth opened in horrified shock.
"This can't be- You saw this- as a child," Remus realized in a soft voice, he was one of the few who recognized immediately what this night was. He looked unspeakably sad at his own understanding.
Harry didn't have the heart to say much of anything as Voldemort opened the front gate of his childhood home, and took out his wand. Harry turned away from the memory. His eyes fell on Ron, whose mouth hung open in disbelief. Horrified. Staring as if something had been stripped from him.
The door burst open. He crossed over the threshold as James Potter came sprinting into the hall. Voldemort smiled.
"No," Sirius pleaded softly, head shaking as if he could shake away the images sure to come. Marlene held onto his hand in a death grip, eyes wide and watering.
"Lily, take Harry and go!" Potter shouted. "It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!"
"Your wand," Lily choked, nearly cried, noticing James' empty hands.
"Oh, Albus," McGonagall said softly between the moments.
Voldemort laughed before he cast the killing curse, his voice echoing off the walls of the warmly lit home. "Avada Kedavra!" Without thought. Without care or a pinprick of remorse. And then green light filled the hall.
Sirius flinched like the spell had been pointed at himself, and choked on his breath when he saw James Potter's body fall to the floor like a marionette whose strings had been cut. His hazel eyes seeing nothing, glasses bent against his face at an odd angle.
Remus groaned, something not entirely human, and Order members around the room covered their mouths with their hands or looked away from the scene entirely.
Lily gasped as if someone had punched her in the throat and James held her as tightly as he could.
But still, Voldemort continued on, and Harry said nothing.
He headed up the stairs smoothly, robes brushing the wooden floors. Lily screamed from the upper floor, and he grinned in answer. She had no wand upon her either and was trapped. Voldemort forced her pathetic attempts at barricading the door open with a lazy wave of his wand, and stopped for a moment, taking in the view.
"I really am going to be sick now," Harry thought he heard Mrs. Weasley say.
Lily had Harry's hand in a grip so tight, he thought he felt his bones shifting against each other.
Marlene was crying openly.
At the sight of Voldemort, Lily turned around and placed the baby she'd been clutching to her chest into the crib at her back and then turned to face him, throwing her arms out wide as if to use herself as a shield for her son.
"Not Harry, not Harry. Please! Not Harry!" she begged of him. Tears fell, but she did nothing but let them fall from her emerald eyes. There was a strength carved from her desperation pulsating from the cry. It was almost amusing.
But Voldemort had no patience for this.
Harry didn't know who, but someone was crying. Several people perhaps, but his eyes remained away from the scene. He knew this moment like the back of his own hand. He did not want to watch, he could barely stand to listen.
"Stand aside you silly girl!" Voldemort snapped back, his voice the seal of condemnation like a gavel coming down. "Stand aside, now!"
But she did not move. She placed her feet in front of her son like the roots of a tree and stood defiantly before him, using her whole body as the last testament of resilience against the inevitable. Her long red hair swung back and forth between the shaking of her terrified face. "Not Harry, please no!" She begged again, voice rising. "Take me instead. Take me! Kill me instead-"
"This is my last warning-"
"Why does he care?" Remus shook his head. "Of all the people he's killed, why stop-"
Her hands spread wider. "Not Harry! Please- have mercy! Mercy- not Harry!"
Someone was sobbing, echoing Lily's cries.
"- Please! I'll do anything -"
Marlene had her hands covering so much of her face, they were nearly over her eyes, but still she watched.
And then a flash of green filled the air.
Lily's body fell to the floor just like James had, strength cut down and limp, and her cries cut off like a reverberating bell.
Some flinched away. Some cried out. Sirius held tight onto Marlene, and Remus's eyes kept switching between the memory and Tonks, hesitant feet shifting anxiously. James wrapped his arms around Lily, face hidden by the length of her hair, and whispered things into his wife's ear that Harry couldn't hear. Lily did not let go of Harry's hand.
He squeezed Lily's hand once, he didn't know why but it felt as though he ought to, and let himself turn back to face the memory of his attempted murder. He breathed out deeply. The worst was over now.
No one met Harry's returning gaze. Dumbledore was the only one who still stood tall amongst the Order, but for the first time it seemed, Harry saw true sorrow in his twinkling eyes.
And then Voldemort turned his wand on the baby.
No one said a word, silence thicker than mud amongst them.
The baby, recognizing that Voldemort was not its father, began to cry. Voldemort's eyes narrowed, and annoyance crossed his coldly handsome face. That was the only warning the child got before the tall wizard flicked his wand and said, "Avada Kedavra!"
Lily flinched so hard that her head knocked into James'.
The world paused. Pulsated. Then it exploded. Black dots and screams of agony. Hatred and fear. Desperation and the animalistic instinct of survival.
None of the feelings emitting from Voldemort's destruction could be seen through his memory, but somehow it was felt.
Searching. Searching for something to keep him - it- alive. Searching - warmth. A heartbeat-
Harry Potter jerked up in bed from the dream/memory, green eyes of his murdered mother flashing, and Hermione exhaled in exhausted relief at his bedside.
Blue mist swirled. The Order was swept away before a word could be said. Memories continued on without remorse or thought to its watchers and there was no relief from the silence.
Then- "So that's how it happened for you," Remus said, eyes far away.
Lily and James continued to hold each other and Sirius held Marlene as tears fell unchecked down her face. Ron shook his head as if the images could be shaken away. "I'd no idea," he said, soft as breath.
Harry thinned his pursed lips into a semblance of a forgiving smile and put his free hand on Ron's shoulder. He opened his mouth to say something, but then stopped and sighed. He hadn't meant to show this part of the memory, not really, as this had always been his darkness to know, but he didn't know what to say to all of them now either.
They asked for facts, he'd provided. If it was dark and sad for them to watch, he was sure that they also had events in this world that would drive Harry up a wall as well. This was part of their deal. Harry wasn't going to apologize or make them all feel better about it. It had happened and it was over now. This was what they asked for.
Harry liked Lily's hand though. And James' pat on the back. Sirius' intense scan from head to toes, like he was checking to make sure he was still there. Remus' kind-eyed glances. It made him feel … home, maybe. Warm. a cover of safety that could be easy to fall into if he wanted.
And, the more time he spent here- with them, the more he did. Want.
"Why are Holidays so traumatizing for you?" Marlene muttered, scrubbing her face and shaking her dark blond head of hair.
Harry nearly choked or laughed, he couldn't tell, but a small smile lifted the edges of his mouth in response.
The intensity of the moment passed and some Order members muttered to others besides them, soft voices delicate and cautious. They paid half a mind to whatever was coming next, as their thoughts were still fully on the murder of the Potters and the beginning of Harry Potter and his prophecized end. Low words flowed over each other caught up in the moment.
But then the mist solidified, and they all were all swept into something new. Huge trees towered over them all, snow sprang up in great slumps around the wooded area, and Harry himself showed up in the memory, following after a gleaming silver doe, clearly a Patronus.
Marauders and friends made noises of surprise.
"That's- that's Lily's Patronus," James burst out, eyes widening with furrowed brows. "How in the he-"
The doe came to a halt. She turned her beautiful head toward Harry, and Harry sprinted through the forest to catch up with her. As he got closer, he opened his mouth - to ask her a question, to say anything at all - but then she vanished. Her perceived safety along with her.
Harry twisted around, suddenly alone in the expanse of the midnight forest and raised his wand. "Lumos!" he whispered.
"Where is this place?" Mad-Eye asked.
"Forest of Dean," Ron answered immediately, then his face brightened. "Just a couple of days after Christmas!" Harry's mouth also turned upward into a widening grin. This was when Ron returned to them, completely by accident.
"Whose Patronus was that?" James asked quickly after, mind set on one thing. He eyed his wife. "Obviously, it couldn't have been- but, it was Lily's Patronus. I'd know it anywhere."
Ron glanced at Harry from the side like You going to say it mate, or should I?
"It-" Harry started then stopped. Shame and sadness filled him. Years of hating a man who'd saved his life as best he could left a mark on Harry. A sour, burning, unwittingly grateful mark, but a mark all the same. He didn't have it in himself to relay those complicated feelings at the feet of the Order, knowing how they'd react to his name, so he focused on the memory and made light of James' question. "We'll find out by the end of it. Then we can talk it over."
Ron nodded at Harry's side, face downcast and thoughtful.
"It'll happen," Harry assured James with a small nod. The end of the conversation.
Something gleamed in the light of the wand, and as Harry looked closer, he saw a small, frozen pool some steps away with a cracked black surface glittering under the stars. He squinted into its depths and deep below the thick gray carapace, something else glinted. A great silver cross…
The whole of the Order members recognized the sword of Gryffindor nearly as one.
"What in the blazes is it doing down there?"
"- a priceless artifact! Left like a piece of parchment-'
"Someone must have left it for him!-"
"Why not show their face?"
A multitude of conversations sprang up. None watched as Harry in the memory sat with himself figuring out the best way to retrieve the sword at the bottom of the deep-frozen pool. That is- not until he started to undress. Then they paused and started in on Harry himself.
"Are you about to-"
"Can't you Accio it up?"
"It's goblin metal you great numpty, of course, he can't just-"
"Fuck, that's going to be cold." The last statement was made by Bill Weasley. Harry responded with a short nod. It had been. He could still remember the ache of the chill set in his teeth and the agony of his bones when he'd gotten out.
Lily looked to be worried about something entirely else. "You look- Merlin, you look like you're starving."
Harry could count ribs on the memory of his now shirtless self and he shrugged. "We only stole when we absolutely had to. So we mostly made due, but it was tight."
"Looks a little worse than 'tight', pup," Sirius intoned, lips downturned.
"Diffindo," Harry cast, and the surface of the pool broke. Chunks of dark ice rocked on ruffled water.
"Did you even think to just warm up the pool?" James asked dryly with a raised eyebrow.
Harry's face went very warm.
The Order jumped with him, suddenly under the dark murky depths next to Harry as he struggled against the cold and searched for the sword. It was a weird experience, being underwater but not; next to himself and knowing what it had been like through his own eyes.
Every pore in his body screamed in protest: it attacked him like fire, constricting his lungs and burning through his body. His brain itself seemed to have frozen as he pushed through the dark water to the bottom. He reached out and groped for the sword. When his fingers closed around the hilt, he pulled it upward.
The moment Harry in the memory had touched the sword, Harry saw the Horcrux suddenly react as if it had a mind of its own. The rounded metal bulge of the necklace flung itself away and snapped down, using the silver metal chain to yank back against Harry's neck.
Harry choked, and his eyes widened under the dark water.
"Is it …sentient?" someone hesitantly asked. "Knowing that the sword can destroy it?"
"That's insane," another answered.
"Are all of them like that?" another echoed. Their questions left them all in uncomfortable silence.
Harry kicked out wildly, trying to push himself back to the surface, but merely propelled himself into the rocky side of the pool. Blood filled the water and made the liquid even murkier.
"How many times are you going to nearly die in a week?" Remus seemed to sigh.
"A Gryffindor through and through," Tonks agreed softly after, then pausing as she had caught herself, glared ferociously at him.
Thrashing, suffocating, he scrabbled at the strangling chain, his frozen fingers unable to loosen it, and screamed underwater. No matter which way he pulled or how hard he struggled, the metal choked him back like a leash, and Harry was unable to break away to the surface.
Lily winced. "You really weren't kidding about nearly drowning," she said, referencing a conversation from some weeks ago, then squeezed his hand.
Harry's kicks became softer, his struggles less intense. His eyes slid half-closed, and his head tipped towards his chest, starting to float unimpeded-
"Slice the fucking thing!" Sirius called. Several order members echoed his statement, albeit much less intense, but before Harry's eyes completely closed-
A body splashed into the pool behind Harry and grasped him around the chest. Harry's eyes were closing, close to unconsciousness, and all he could see were the bubbles from the water's movement. A hard yank upwards, from the chest instead of Harry's neck this time, and Harry's head broke the water's surface.
"Is that-?" Fred said with raising ginger brows.
"How'd he find you in the middle of-" a Prewett twin asked.
Choking and retching, soaking and colder than he had ever been in his life, Harry came facedown in the snow. He had no strength to lift his head and see his savior's identity. All he could do was raise a shaking hand to his throat where the locket had cut into his flesh, but it was gone: Someone had cut him free.
A panting voice spoke up from over his head. "Are- you- mental?"
"Thank Merlin," Mrs. Weasley sighed lowly.
Sirius snorted with an incredulous air. Lily shook her head and leaned into James.
"Well that's one way to come back," George said.
"It's a right side better than staying gone though, isn't it?" Fred answered.
The memory continued on, and Order members' grimaces deepened when the locket was opened and Ron had to face the twisted versions of Hermione and Harry within. Surprisingly no one made any comments beside shocked brows and rapidly blinking eyes at the whole of the situation. Mr and Mrs Weasley held each other's hands tightly, but didn't speak up at the impossibly perfect versions of Harry and Hermione and their taunting words.
Harry appreciated that no one said anything about Ron's laid out deepest fears.
"You've said that the necklace in our world was destroyed, correct?" a full-bodied American witch asked. Her hard brown eyes came down on Harry.
He nodded back, and she motioned to the smoking remains of the locket in the memory. "Did it behave here as it did in your world?"
He nodded again. "It knows when it's about to die," he explained, "or when someone is trying to kill it and it'll try to protect itself. The locket destroyed in the Chamber of Secrets did something similar to Ron here by getting into my mind and trying to use it against me."
James hazel eyes leveled over all the listening Order members. "I was there. Harry defeated it through force of will alone. I've seen how powerful even a fraction of you-know-who's soul is in combat, and we'll have to take a page out of Harry and Ron's book in their mental preparation if we want to be as diligent moving forward. Not everyone can say that they faced their deepest, most bitter thoughts and came out in one piece as they did."
Order members nodded their heads, looking from Ron and Harry to the memory and Ron blushed in answer. Harry swallowed and lowly cleared his throat. Lily grinned from the corners of her mouth and squeezed his hand again.
The memory continued on with Ron and Hermione meeting again in the tent and the explanation of how he got there. Many eyes turned to Dumbledore when the deluminator was acknowledged as the magic item that had brought Ron back to them.
"An interesting invention," the American witch from earlier stated. "Do you have this object as well, Dumbledore?"
The eldest wizard folded his hands into his robes serenely. "I do," he answered like he was acknowledging an inside joke. "I've never used it for that purpose, however, and I should look forward to seeing if the situation could be replicated."
"It would be really handy trying to find someone missing if all you do is say someone's name and it brings you to them," Fred said.
"I'm sure there's more to it than that Mr. Weasley," McGonagall answered, but then frowned at the Headmaster. "But a good thought nonetheless." Harry thought that there might be tension between the witch and wizard now for whatever reason.
The scene changed. The environment once again swept into something new and Harry, Ron, and the Order were whisked away. When that all settled back into form, the memory of Harry, Hermione, and Ron were in the middle of a ferocious argument going back and forth looking beat up and tired.
"This was after Xenophilious," Ron remembered immediately. "Right after he betrayed us."
"He did what?" Tonks asked.
"He didn't have a choice," Harry cut in quickly. "He-"
"Bloody well did have a choice!" his red headed friend argued fiercely. "He chose wrong, and nearly got us all killed-"
Harry bit back his annoyance. "Luna was taken captive by Death Eaters because of his newspaper supporting me and outing Voldemort's ministry. To get his daughter back, he had to tell them if I ever came for help for whatever reason. He called the Death Eaters on us when we went to his house looking for an explanation on the Deathly Hallows symbol, the Perevell family sign. He was just trying to get his daughter back," Harry explained calmly. Not that the experience hadn't been bitter, but he knew first hand how bad it could be as a 'guest' in the hands of the Death Eaters and he didn't entirely blame the man. She was his daughter after all, and he'd only done what he thought he could.
"My mum told Sirius that Dumbledore borrowed the Cloak! This is why! He wanted to examine it, because he thought it was the third Hollow! Ignotus Peverell is buried in Godric's Hollow… "
"What the hell is goin on here?" Fred asked, whipping his head back and forth between the three teenagers.
"The Hallows again?" Marlene squinted her blue eyes at the scene.
"Why's everyone up in arms over a children's story?" another of the Order asked.
"He's my ancestor! I'm descended from the third brother! It all makes sense!"
Sirius and James exchanged a heavy glance with the other. Lily froze in James arms, eyes unconsciously surveying the Order. It was not everyday that one told most of the wizarding world that their family held one of the three Deathly Hallows- which Harry was about to do.
Something golden and round fell out of Harry's pocket at his loud proclamations to Hermione and Ron in the tent, and Harry bent to pick it up between one shout and the next. Then, he stopped and stared at the snitch in wonder like a light bulb had gone off over his head.
"IT'S IN HERE!" Harry shouted. "He left me the ring- it's in the snitch!"
"What bloody ring?" Fred drew his hands up in annoyance. Rumbles of his echoed feelings and furrowed brows fell over the Order members watching.
"The Hallows…" Tonks said slowly in unfolding wonder, unaware of the blonde strings of hair starting to shoot down her head. The Order turned to her as one, some with blinking surprise like they had forgotten she was there. "The book Dumbledore left them - Harry's invisibility cloak - being related to the Peverells. It's all coming back to The Tale of the Three Brothers, like they're …" She shook her head and scoffed, an action out of character from the time that Harry had known Tonks in his own world. "They're trying to find the Deathly Hallows. To defeat you-know-who. The Deathly fucking Hallows." Her hair turned black as midnight.
Silence. Order members wavered, like no one wanted to break the thin precipice that they all stood on after such a statement.
"But that's-" Fred burst out, and then looked to his parents. "That's only a story!" He blinked and swallowed. "... Isn't it?"
Harry remembered this scene now, and stood forward. His hand fell from Lily's easily, but he missed her warmth. "The ring that was killing Dumbledore in my sixth year that you all saw- the Gaunt Ring, is the one I'm talking about here and think is hidden in the snitch. Later, I found out that it actually was in there, and that the stone on top of it is the Resurrection Stone, the second of the Hollows that I had," he announced. "I didn't know it yet, but I was starting to figure out that Volde- you-know-who was looking for the Elder Wand so that he could overpower whatever kept us connected so that he could kill me."
Fred's jaw unhinged itself and dropped. "You've got to be kidding me," he said, being the only one who could seem to form words. The rest looked on and at each other with incredulity.
Harry nodded, and prepared himself to put it all out on the table. "Dumbledore thought that 'the power he knows not' from the prophecy could have been gifted from my mother when she died for me in the form of love, or of the power that the Deathly Hallows gives when all three are collected under the same person, becoming something more powerful then called-"
"The Master of Death," Dumbledore finished, and his voice sliced through the wizards and witches more effectively than a sonorus charm ever could.
Harry met his late Headmaster's eyes. Like the soldier that he had made Harry to be, without contempt of fear. Chilling on the face of an eighteen year old. "Yes," Harry agreed in the silence. "The Master of Death."
No one was watching the memory anymore. It played out around them largely ignored, as the Order slowly came to the realization that the Deathly Hallows were in fact, real magical objects, and that Harry had most likely used them to defeat his Voldemort.
"This is insane," George said, unbelieving and shaking his head. He too went ignored in the face of their revelation.
"You've had a Hallow in your family for generations!" someone else exclaimed, and there was some muttering between the Order about that. How it could be used moving forward with the War. How the addition of such an object was a win for the Order.
Dumbledore, however, looked at Harry wholly differently than he had before. With a strange gleam off the top of his half moon glasses that suggested something entirely more than the knowledge of Harry's past possession of the Hallows. Vindicated perhaps, or slightly triumphant. Either way, it sent shivers down Harry's back.
Then - quite unexpectedly, the Order with Harry and Ron fell back into the memory's current moment as one, without knowing why, and they heard the words that turned hatred and shame through the other-worldly wizards in attendance.
"But did you hear what the broadcast said?" Harry asked excitedly. "He's abroad! He's still looking for the Elder Wand, I knew it!"
"Come on, Hermione, why are you so determined not to admit it? Vol-"
Order members gasped.
"-demort's after the Elder Wand!"
"Run," Remus whispered. "Just run."
"The name's Taboo!" Ron bellowed, leaping to his feet as the sound of a loud 'CRACK' came from outside the tent. "I told you, Harry, I told you, we can't say it anymore- It's how they find-"
Rough, excited voices echoed from just outside.
And then the scene was whisked away like a puff of vanishing smoke. The tent became misty- then vanished within the blue haze - along with the memory and all it was leading up to.
"You- you escape, don't you?" Lily immediately turned to face Harry.
"I-" Harry started, and then thoughts of the Malfoy Manor and what came next filled his mind, his senses- because no, they didn't escape Harry's stupidity. And when they did - they were all fundamentally changed and for the worst. Hermione tortured - Ron and he tortured by her screams in an entirely different way - and the loyalest house elf a wizard could hope for - dead. All because of Harry and that single moment. That one second of thoughtless pride.
His mouth went dry, so he hung the suddenly pounding weight of his own head and saw from the corner of his eyes and Ron's hands clenched into fists.
"No, we-" Ron bit out, "-we don't escape. Not really."
And then all came into existence in blue mist and solidifying regret.