A reviewer named Ivy Raven mentioned the cliché of Skull being in some way pushed into telling his past. And it got me thinking "what if…" so here we are. So thanks for the review that mentioned it. I can honestly say it hadn't even crossed my mind to do this any other way until you said something.
This is my 'What if…' Enjoy.
Skull was quiet.
It was…wrong. Odd. Not right.
It was setting off the instincts of the other Arcobaleno. They'd think it was an imposter except no one could fake Arcobaleno Flames. They were the Strongest Seven for a reason, the seven people in the Mafia with the strongest Flames in the world. That was defiantly Skull, but something…something was wrong.
Skull stared around him. Thirty three years was…a long time. He'd been with these people for thirty three years…and he hadn't told them anything. He'd kept it all hidden away…the past. His past. Before he'd met them.
But…but…they were family and maybe it was time to tell them.
"Skull…?" Yuni asked quietly and Skull- Harry Potter the Man-Who-Conquered- blinked as he realized the Arcobaleno were staring at him.
He took a deep breath and reached up for his helmet, pulling it off and revealing his face to the others. They blinked in surprise at the hesitant but serious look he revealed to them. He reached up and removed his piercings next.
The Arcobaleno stilled their eyes widening for an instant as their Cloud slowly removed the piercings they had never seen him without.
They all collectively had the thought that their Cloud looked young.
"I…" Skull sighed, stopping as he struggled with how to start. He eventually reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief pausing for another moment before he brought it up and began wiping it over his face. (A subtle appliance of magic and the spells holding his makeup in place perfectly were released so that the makeup was wiped off easily.)
The silence in the room became stifled with shock.
Tension replaced shock when the absence of makeup revealed a too young face bearing scars.
Scars that were not self-inflicted.
"Skull….?" Yuni broke the silence again, her voice shocked as she realized what the Cloud was doing.
"I think" Skull whispered in the silence as the Arcobaleno's eyes were glued to his "that it's time for me to explain some things to you all."
He sat still for a moment before he stood. The next shock came when he reached up and slowly began to unzip and then pull the top of his jumpsuit off. The skin he revealed was covered in scars.
The Arcobaleno tensed up, their Flames stirring in the resulting anger, but not one of them breathed a word. Not one of them said a thing, as if speaking would stop their Cloud, would break the spell.
He turned so his back faced the others revealing the long scars to the Arcobaleno. "I was three the first time my relatives hit me" he whispered "I was six the first time my Uncle took a belt to my back…It…didn't ever really stop after that. Not until I was 17 and they were forced to relocate."
He took a shaky breath and turned back to face the Arcobaleno again only to come face to face with his Elements all of their eyes gleaming the color of their Flames in what he had jokingly dubbed 'The Lantern Warning System.' He took a breath before continuing "I had been called Freak by my relatives since long before I knew how to understand words, or that it was derogatory. It wasn't until I was eleven that I understood why they used the term for me. When I was eleven I was shown a world that much like Flames existed and still exists alongside civilians. No one but those involved in that world know of its existence."
Skull noticed as Viper went still and felt the way her Flames and the little Magic he knew she had stilled as well. He met her eyes and nodded to her once. He saw her tense for a moment before he continued. "I thought it would be a safe place for me. This world that was revealed to me with other 'freaks'. People who could do what I could do. It…was a child's dream. A fool's hope."
"I can to quickly understand that I was famous for surviving a- until the night it was used on me- one-hit-kill shot. People I didn't know, people I had never even met wanted to touch me, know what I was doing every moment of the day, and pry into anything and everything I did. For an abused child that had learned to disappear into the background or be punished…the attention was horrid. I wanted to be me somewhere, not what they expected me to be."
Skull glanced down at his hands, stilling as he thought about everything that happened to him. "It didn't help that I was part of a prophesy naming me the only hope of this society against their Dark Lord." He paused "Think a Nazi Byakuran for the Dark Lord. The society I would join before discovering the Mafia was known as the Wizarding World for the people's ability to alter reality to their whims so long as they had the resolve, power and imagination to manage it. And this society was prejudice."
He explained the different Blood Statuses before he continued.
"I was manipulated without my notice from the moment I stepped foot into the world I should have been raised in. It…is why I have such problems with anyone trying to corner me into doing something without my permission. I didn't know I was a Cloud yet, but even then I had the instincts of a fledgling Cloud. The headmaster of my school pulled most of the strings from the shadows from a position of authority over me. A position of trusted authority." Skull scowled. "He was a Sky. He wasn't Active, which meant he didn't have Guardians, but he did have the magnetism of all Skies and he used it. He was trusted by a good two-thirds of the population of this society as the end-all-be-all of all things 'Light' and 'Good' especially since he was a war hero and he managed to get into two high ranking positions of our government. All of this meant when he told the population that I was safe and well looked after they listened to him."
Skull scowled as he thought of his years at Hogwarts. He sighed lifting his eyes to see the Lantern Warning System was still in effect for all of the Arcobaleno. They were all very, very still. The kind of still that Skull knew meant they were a few more revelations away from needing to take a break to destroy things so they could calm down.
He took a breath and explained his way slowly through each year of Hogwarts.
He spoke of the manipulations he didn't see until after it was too late to leave, when he was already neck deep in the war on the frontlines with no way out of his position of General. He talked of the stone and his first kill at 11 years old. He told them of second year and the isolation he was forced into when it came out he could speak to snakes. He spoke of the way it continued until the sister of his heart was petrified.
He told them of the Cloud Instincts (and they deserved that capital 'I') kicking in with a vengeance. He whispered of the youngest sister of the brother of his heart being 'taken' down into the Chamber. He told them of facing the Basilisk that was long enough to wrap around the mansion three times with nothing but a sword he didn't know how to use.
He lifted a hand to brush over a scar on his arm. "I received this scar when its fang lodged into my arm after I stabbed it through the mouth and into its brain. I was dying. Even then I managed to take out the diary with the very fang that had stabbed me. Basilisk venom is the strongest poison in the world apart from undiluted Nundu breath. The only thing that saved me that day was the immediate application of phoenix tears…It was here in that Chamber poisoned and dying that I Activated my Flame. The propagation property of Cloud Flames helped the phoenix tears heal me quickly by basically multiplying the effectiveness of them…and despite being the strongest healing magic in the world mixed with my Flames ability to multiply its effects I still ended up scarred, and scarred badly." He tapped the scar from the fang that looked a bit like a bad chemical burn.
He took another breath and continued the story. He spoke of the summer and then of his third year. About the Godfather so devoted to him that he broke out of a prison that had never been escaped, who had been framed for the betrayal and death of his parents. He spoke of the rat who had hidden not three feet from his side that had hidden away after the betrayal. He spoke of the werewolf who had taught him so much. The werewolf that had been loyal to his family and had died fighting to protect it.
There was much anger from the Arcobaleno at this information. Family was sacred to them. It was the people they fought with, the people they fought for. Family was the home they returned too, the people that defended each other.
Family was not to be betrayed. It was home and safety and acceptance.
To turn away from that, to betray that loyalty and trust was blasphemous. That the person who had betrayed their Cloud's family had framed the man who was loyal as family should be on top of the betrayal itself…? It was a very good thing for Peter that he was already dead.
Skull stilled and stared at the wall after giving the Arcobaleno a moment to calm. (Part of the reason Skull had eventually accepted the Arcobaleno as his to protect and love as family was their view on family and that loyalty they all shared to it.)
He needed a moment himself, to calm as he prepared to explain the beginning of the war. The Arcobaleno sensed this and allowed him the moment he needed.
When Skull lifted his head with a deep and slightly shaking breathe the Arcobaleno were ready.
Skull knew as he lifted his head, from the feel of Viper's Flames and Magic that she knew who he was. She was staring at him. Skull grimaced a bit.
"I'm sorry." Viper whispered it, but it carried in the silence as she stared at him, her hands lifting to pull the cowl back, black curls spilling around her head and bright gleaming silver eyes staring at him so he could see that she meant it. "I'm so sorry I never noticed. I'm sorry I never said thank you." And Viper shocked them all, even Skull when she stood and walked in front of him only to bow low and deep and respectful.
Skull hated it. His Instincts rebelled at it as well. Part of it was he had always been 'just Harry' in his head and hated the fame that followed him, the other part was his inner Cloud. Viper was one of his people. One of those that Skull would walk through fire and brimstone for, one of the few that Skull wanted to walk beside only stepping in front to shield her where she could not shield herself, and only stepping behind her when he was blocking an unseen dagger aimed at her back.
He didn't want her to bow to him.
"Get up Viper." He told her nudging her to a standing position. "I know you are, but I didn't want you to know. I didn't want anyone to know. I wasn't ready for anyone to see 'Harry Potter' in 'Skull De Mort.' I am now. I trust you all." He paused lifting his head and spearing all the Arcobaleno with bright violet eyes that glowed with his Flame and for just an instant Skull let go, let his presence, his Flame and Magic fill the room.
He let them see the soldier that would shield them all as he spoke, his Will threaded in his voice "You are all mine. Mine to shield and protect. Mine to walk beside in the good times and the bad. When the world turns on you and yours I will be the one to stand in front of you and shield you. When the world tries to kill you I will be the one to block the dagger and take out the threat."
And in that instant in that moment that Skull released his presence from the stranglehold he had held it in the Arcobaleno understood.
They could suddenly see the World's Strongest Cloud.
They could see the man that had led a war.
Then Skull blinked and his presence retreated back into his person as if it had never been, the only mark that they hadn't imagined it was the still glowing eyes of their Cloud. "So do not…" Skull spoke meeting the wide silver eyes of his Mist "Do not bow to me. You are family now. My family and you should never bow to anyone."
He took a breath and he calmed his instincts. "I have something for you all." He sighed. He took a moment to pull the last earring in his ear out. A quick tap of his hand coated with his Magic and his Flame and the earring suddenly began to grow until a trunk sat in front of him. Another second and Skull had flipped the lid open and calling "Give me a moment" jumped into the trunk.
The Arcobaleno blinked and Verde made an aborted motion to get closer. He really wanted to look at the trunk to see how Skull had done what he had. It was visually obvious that Skull should not have fit in the trunk. He understood that 'magic' was likely the cause of it but how?
Before Verde's curiosity won out Skull pulled himself out of the trunk what appeared to be an amethyst basin on an onyx podium following after him. He set the podium down lifting a hand to press a magic and Flame coated hand to the base of the podium explaining as he went "This is known as a Pensieve. What it does is allow people to view the memories placed inside the basin as if they were there in person. You won't be able to do anything to anyone in the memory, but you will be able to walk around and look to your heart's content. I have copies of some of my memories here in the base of the podium. It will not open unless I willingly apply a specific combination of Flames and Magic in a specific pattern. If anyone should try to force me to do this in any kind of duress the magic of the Pensieve will react…violently."
Skull stood holding a marble box covered in what Viper recognized as runes with a large goblet carved into the center of the lid. "Even if they get past the protections to the boxes the runes- the carvings- will react as well. This box contains the memories of my fourth year. This was the beginning of the war I lead." He opened the box and began to place silvery strands into the basin. After a few minutes he stopped and took a breath. He reached back to them "Come here. I will need to act as the bridge for everyone but Viper so you may use the Pensieve."
They all crowded close and once they had placed a hand onto Skull's shoulders or back Skull took a breath and touched the 'water' in the Pensieve with his wand. Very quickly Skull opened his eyes.
They were standing in the Great Hall of Hogwarts and Dumbledore was explaining the Triwizard Tournament, and the Goblet as well as how it worked.
They moved through his fourth year memory by memory only pausing when the other Arcobaleno had questions they couldn't manage to figure out on their own. They worked their way all the way up to the moment Harry grabbed the Portkey with Cedric.
This was the moment Skull had not been looking forward too. He drew into himself automatically. He knew it wasn't his fault this had happened, but it still hurt to see it.
"Kill the spare!"
Skull twitched. He had chosen this because he knew the Arcobaleno would never be satisfied with words once it dawned on them that Skull had been in a war.
On the front lines.
It would be easier for them to just see.
That didn't mean it didn't hurt to see it all again.
He blinked when he felt shoulders or hands touch him as the Arcobaleno grouped around him, shielding him in the center of the group. He relaxed a little even though it still hurt.
He felt a bit warm when the Arcobaleno all made aborted movements and noises when 'Harry' was hit with the torture curse and screamed. It was nice to see the protective instincts were returned on his behalf. He had known of course, but it was still nice to see them move to murder Voldemort even though they all knew it was only a memory.
He allowed the memory continue onwards through the whole Resurrection scene and into the part where he tried to tell people what had happened. He watched as Fudge took the Ostrich Approach of sticking his head in the sand, the denial and arguments. He continued on through the whole rest of his year and the summer where he was once again isolated from anything that could help him.
Skull had to stop there so the Arcobaleno could work out some of the rage. They destroyed the entire room leaving only Skull and his Pensieve untouched at the center before they resorted to pacing like cages tigers.
Skull reached out with his magic and repaired the room. He jerked his head when they all looked his way "Go ahead and destroy it again. I'll fix it, and I know you need to break something."
They were not going to be happy with the later years when the war got worse.
Skull might have to pull out The Trunk.
The Trunk was an especially charmed truck that head nothing but dishes and furniture for the really bad days. Skull would pull it out and just reach in to start throwing.
It was surprisingly therapeutic.
Skull repaired the room another six times before the Arcobaleno came back for more.
Skull returned the memories to their box and into the Pensieve reaching in for another box. This one had a silhouette of a phoenix on the top. He put the memories into his Pensieve and once again acted as the bridge needed to bring the Arcobaleno into the memories.
He walked them through the slow takeover of the Ministry. He showed them the Ministry's smear campaign against him. The way the public turned against him. The way he was shunned for 'lies' and then Dolores Umbridge walked into Hogwarts.
Skull tensed on sight of the woman.
He loathed her. His hand throbbed beneath his gloves, the scar still there after all these years. The only sign of it was the subtle twitch of his fingers.
She was disgusting. The Locket had been a Horcrux. Skull knew personally exactly how horridly those effected good people. When the three of them- Harry, Ron and Hermione- carried the Locket it had torn at their minds, caused fights and jealousy to breed. He knew how it drained people.
Umbridge had worn it as a necklace and had thrived. She had still been capable of a Patronus and was content and happy.
Skull couldn't even imagine what someone had to be like for a Horcrux to not even phase them.
He walked beside the Arcobaleno as they witnessed the woman force the ceasing of all practical defense. He witnessed the Arcobaleno's rage over that fact. He was beside the Arcobaleno as they witnessed her specifically targeting him. They really raged over that.
The Arcobaleno watched 'Harry' walk through his fifth year and lash out at her- declaring multiple times that Voldemort was back, rebelling against her wherever he could. It dawns on them that Skull has found the 'eye' of his own temper and calmed down from the sort of Cloud temper he had before.
He walked beside the Arcobaleno as Umbridge used her 'authority' to start making changes in the school, walked beside them as Umbridge got Dumbledore out of the castle and proceeded to take over the school. He watched with a sneer as 'Decree' after 'Decree' when up on the walls.
As she tried to suppress and command the students.
He smirked at the impressed noises the Arcobaleno made when Hermione talked Harry into leading the Defense Association. He found himself grinning as the Arcobaleno witnessed Skull being a teacher. And a good one. As he taught others his age to stand tall and fight back. To defend themselves and each other.
As the 'Snitch' ratted them out to Umbridge and she declared their 'Club' illegal. He smirked as they witnessed the counter-measures taken in response.
He grinned, proud as he stood in a classroom of his past and witnessed a room full of children preforming the Patronus charm.
He was made to pull his glove off when the Arcobaleno learned of the detentions that forced Harry to carve words into his own skin. He had to 'pause' the memories there for a while as the Arcobaleno raged over the scar I must not tell lies staring back at them.
It was…warming. It was nice to see them rage on his behalf. To see their anger over someone hurting him- even when they couldn't do anything about the past. He had known they were protective of course, but it was still nice to see it.
He continued through the year, as Exams rolled around, the visions he had suffered throughout the year, Umbridge threatening him with the Torture curse and tricking her into the Forest with the Centaurs, the frantic scramble for Sirius, the Ministry and his friends going with him straight into a trap. The tense fight, the Prophesy orb, it breaking, the Death Eaters.
Hermione getting hit with a curse and the truly spectacular rage fit Harry had in defense of her.
Harry's screams of loss and rage, the way he honestly tried to murder Bella in response.
Finding out about the Prophesy and what it actually said.
'Neither can live while the other survives' ringing in his head like a death knell.
The summer showing the worst of his grief.
He was a Cloud who had lost one of his. A Cloud who thought of it as his own fault. The lack of communication only making him worse.
It was a miracle he hadn't died that summer to be honest. Skull was only more aware of it now that he better understood his Cloud nature and what it meant in regards to himself and the people around him.
A Cloud was- first and foremost- a protector. They shielded their families and territories. They were enforcers second. Sometimes that was rules on their territory, other times it was a simple as getting their own to go to bed.
A Cloud needed to be needed. But they also needed freedoms. They had to want to be wherever they were. Had to want to protect and shield. Otherwise they would tend to self-destruct in a violently messy way that took out everyone around them on the way. It was a delicate balance. It was also the reasons that Clouds were the second rarest Flame type and why any Family that had a Cloud's loyalty in it got a major status boost.
Harry had failed to protect one of his own and was being isolated from those who could have helped him all the while blaming himself for the whole mess, left to stew in a place he loathed and did not want to be in.
It was truly a miracle he didn't self-destruct that summer.
(And the way the Arcobaleno all seemed to crowd closer to him as the summer progressed told him they knew that.)
Harry continued through the rest of his memories, walking them through his sixth year and into his 'seventh'.
He walked with them as he relived the Half-Blood Prince mystery. He was beside them as they celebrated at Bill's wedding before it was attacked and then he walked with them into the Horcrux Hunt.
The long trek across the wilderness as they gathered the keys to killing Voldemort. The fall of the Ministry and the nationwide man hunt for Harry. The Snatchers and how people were dying. Finding the hidden radio stations listening to the lists of the dead and praying it wasn't someone they knew tonight.
The way the Horcrux effected the mind and how as they were gathered together from their hiding places it tore at their happiness and sanity. How it upped their aggression and jealousy.
He tensed beside them as they were caught and brought to Malfoy Manor.
He paced and raged beside the Arcobaleno as he listened to Hermione scream, and then Ron. He calmed while the Arcobaleno got worse when it was his turn. He witnessed many of his scars being carved into his skin for the first time. He didn't shake them off when the Arcobaleno reached out and grabbed hold of him in an effort to remember he was right there and they could do nothing for the younger version of their Cloud as he screamed but refused to break.
They watched as Harry was dragged back to the cell his friends had all been placed in and thrown like trash into the waiting arms of his friends. The scramble of his friends as they tried to stop the bleeding and help Harry.
The brave little Elf who helped to heal Harry and got them all out at the cost of his life.
Harry taking the time to dig out a grave and lay Dobby to rest by hand.
Fleeing forward still mourning because they had no choice if they didn't want to be tracked.
The Arcobaleno needing to stop and use The Trunk for an hour and a half before calming enough to see the rest of it. Skull leaning into their warmth and support even though their rage.
The return to Hogwarts, knowing there was only one more Horcrux to deal with. The Room being used to hold the 'Resistance' of Hogwarts. The stories of what had happened there since the last time Harry had been inside the walls. Sleeping bags and hammocks everywhere with dirty children looking up at Harry like he was the Sun. Their Hope. The cheers that pressed against his chest and shoulders as he was seen for the first time.
The heavy promise that fell from his lips that he would see Voldemort fall no matter what.
The Arcobaleno witnessing the General coming to the forefront in Harry as he slid through the crowd and asked questions and gathered information. How their Cloud soothed them all easily with his no nonsense attitude and presence.
They witnessed Harry walking out into the enemy to drive them from the castle. The confrontation in the Great Hall. The castle coming back into their hands and the cheers and screams of relief at the results.
The Arcobaleno witnessed the way Harry slumped against the wall when no one was looking at him, his eyes hard and tired and jaded as he scanned over the faces around him. How he straightened up, his eyes sharping with focus and drive, shoulders going back as everyone in the castle looked to him for guidance.
They were there when the Battle of Hogwarts took place.
They witnessed the Defense Association taking charge as Harry had trained them to do, how the little ones were placed in the Chamber of Secrets in an attempt to keep them away from the coming fight. They watched as Harry walked among those eleven and twelve and thirteen year olds, looking so much older than 17, and promised them that when they came out Voldemort would be gone. That they could go home afterwards and it would 'all be alright'.
They watched the children take strength from Harry before he sealed them in (after the teachers and older students had made a few changes to the surroundings).
They watched as Harry leaned his head against the door, eyes closed for a moment before he took a deep breath and straightened.
They were witness to Magic at its worst and best when the fight- the war- broke out.
They watched as the Ghosts flew through the corridors as messengers, as the Elves of the school swarmed out of the kitchens with knives. They watched as children stood strong in front of the castle.
They watched the castle itself come to life armor and statures pulling themselves from their places and matching out to battle.
And at the front of it all Harry stood, his back straight and shoulders unbending.
They watched as trained adults stormed the castle, as the Wards were attacked until the buckled. As Death Eaters swarmed from inside the castle.
They watched Harry take control of the army and bark commands that were obeyed instantly.
They watched as Harry fought his back towards the castle, his command at the Slytherin Ghost to 'find out where the Death Eaters are getting inside the castle' being obeyed instantly.
They listened to the screams of children and adults alike as the fight continued.
They watched as the fight got bloody, and bodies began to stack up. They watched their Cloud carve his way through the crowds of enemies despite being Target Number One. They watched him hold his own and strike back.
They watched as Harry witnessed Ron go down first- he had gotten in the way of a Killing Curse aimed at Hermione. They witnessed Hermione rage across the battlefield in response, and Harry joining her midway as they covered each other and seamlessly destroyed the group of Death Eaters responsible.
They watched with horror as the Battle continued for hours (the Vanishing Cabinet that had allowed the Death Eaters into the castle being destroyed). They witnessed creatures they had thought myth charging with both armies.
They witnessed as Harry saw Snape killed and how in his final moments he gave Harry memories and asked that he watch them.
They watched it all continue until Death Eaters began to retreat only for Voldemort's voice to echo over the battlefield. The ultimatum he delivered.
'Gather your dead. And now, Harry Potter. I speak directly to you. Come to me, come to me or witness the destruction and death of all you hold dear. I will murder all who stand in my way. Make no mistake. Come to me, and spare them death. Or stand against me and watch them all fall.'
They turned to their Cloud with horror in their eyes.
They knew what he would chose.
They watched the memories of Snape and witnessed his choice.
They walked beside their Cloud as he walked to the Forest. They witnessed the spirits of his loved ones walking beside him, offering words of comfort.
They watched as Harry shed the Cloak and dropped the Stone before he stepped forward to meet Voldemort.
They saw the sick glee on the man's face at the sight of their Cloud, his voice hissing in pleasure as he spoke.
"Harry Potter…the boy-who-lived…come to die."
All of the Arcobaleno made an aborted movement towards their Cloud as they watched that deadly green light sail his way. A light they had witnessed kill hundreds of people, and the light that began everything. They saw how Harry stood tall in the face of it, how he didn't waver a moment as it struck him and he fell.
And then there was white.
The Arcobaleno reached out to grip hard at their Cloud. It was instinctive as they shoved him into the center of a ring they formed around him, each with one arm extended back to grip hold of the Cloud they had just seen die.
They witnessed as a woman with fiery red hair and bright green eyes stepped out of the white, her flame colored hair drawling all eyes her way alongside the elegant grace she walked with. The soft proud smile on her lips drew eyes to her as well.
And they watched as their Cloud sat up and stilled his eyes wide with shocked awe "M- Mum?"
"My boy" she greeted him reaching out to cup his face and Harry instinctively leaning into her "I am so achingly proud of you. You've been so, so brave. You've grown strong my Harry. Stronger than I could have ever hoped for you." The fierce pride in her eyes and face was tainted with sadness and wistfulness a moment later "I wish we could have been there to see it. To prevent you from needing to shoulder so much. I'm proud of what you have done, but you shouldn't have needed to."
She sighed through her nose, green eyes clearing after a moment and focusing "We don't have much time and I have some things to explain to you Harry. I will be waiting for you at the end. We will have all the time in the world to speak then. For now know that I love you more than I can say and am so achingly proud of you and the man you've become."
She reached down for his hand and pulled him into a hug that Harry melted into where he breathed in her scent and tried to control the urge to cry before she pulled away and tugged him to a bench. "Look beneath it." She nudged him and Harry obeyed before jerking back and away in revulsion.
"What is that?" he asked.
"The night Voldemort killed us and tried to kill you his already shattered soul fragmented further. You were made a living vessel for that fragment. When he raised his wand to kill you and you willing went to sacrifice yourself it allowed you a choice. That thing is the fragment killed by his own hand. Right now we stand in a sort of…limbo. Or rather an area called the In-Between. Your sacrifice and Tom Riddle's soul fragment allow for an odd set of circumstances for you."
Harry stared at her as his mother- his mother- paused "I want you to know right now that as of this moment the Prophesy is complete. You've done your part in it. You do not need to go if you don't want to. Alright?"
Harry nodded. He thought he may be in shock. He was processing everything he was told but…
Lily nodded "Alright. You have a choice here. Everyone does, but not many have the awareness to know they have one. You can go back." She told him "You could go back. Wake up. Live out the rest of your life the way you want. I will still be here when you join me a second time. We will still be here. All this choice will do is postpone our meeting. This I swear to you."
"Or?" Harry asked
"Or" his mother continued "You could come with me now. You could move on. You don't need to go back. You've done your part. Everything you needed to do you have done and you've done it beautifully. You could rest. Meet the rest of your family. We've watched over you your entire life." Lily grinned bright and mischievous and Harry was surprised to see his own mischievous grin looking out at him "I just happened to win the fight that broke out to decide who would get to greet you here."
Her grin grew at the watery laugh that escaped Harry in response before it softened "These are your choices. I will be proud and happy no matter your choice. So…do you want to come with me now, or go back and meet up with me later?"
It was the most difficult choice of Harry's life, but in the end…Harry chose to go back. The last thing he felt in that realm of white was a pair of lips pressed to his forehead over his scar and his mother's voice telling him "I will see you again Harry. Live and be happy."
The Arcobaleno watched the entire encounter with an air of sacred silence. This was their Cloud's mother who had died for him. They memorized her face, her eyes, her voice, the way she walked and talked. She deserved to be remembered and honored and they would do so.
Harry woke up on the Forest floor seconds after he had hit it.
The Arcobaleno witnessed Harry being carried back to the castle as he continued to play dead. They watched the cries of denial and horror at the sight of Hagrid holding his 'body' and listened to Voldemort's speech.
They watched the silence after Voldemort ordered the children to join him or stand against him and die.
They watched as Neville stepped forward, his eyes burning before he opened his mouth and declared in the ringing silence "It doesn't matter that Harry's gone. People die every day! Friends, family. Yeah, we lost Harry tonight. He's still with us, in here. So is Fred… Remus, Tonks, all of them. They didn't die in vain. But you will! Because you're wrong! Harry's heart did beat for us, for all of us. It's not over!"
And the battles began again, starting when their Cloud rolled free of Hagrid's hold under disbelieving stares and shot a spell at Voldemort's back.
They watched the battle rage on until Harry stood victorious.
Then they witnessed the aftermath.
They watched as Harry raged and mourned for those he couldn't save, but especially for the familiar faces his found among the dead.
Remus, Tonks, Fred, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Percy…
So many of his friends had perished in that war.
They watched Harry dig grave after grave as he laid his family and friends into the ground.
They watched as the Public around him clamored to have Harry lead them how they nagged and demanded he lead and protect them.
They watched as his Cloud Instincts and needs clashed with what the Wizarding World wanted of him until he couldn't stand it anymore. They watched him offer those who survived the war- Bill, Charlie, Fleur, and Neville- a way to contact him when he was needed before he left and became 'Skull.'
Skull pulled the Arcobaleno out of the Pensieve before he retreated to the couch and allowed the Arcobaleno to absorb what he had showed them.
He could see the way he had shattered their world view and he knew they needed time to reorient around the new information.
He also knew he would not be allowed out of their sight for the foreseeable future and that this new information would change the way they saw him, the way he was treated, and even the very dynamic with which the group worked.
That was a scary thought of course, but Skull was prepared for that.
It was finally time to let them see Harry Potter in Skull de Mort.
He was ready for change.
It was shortly after that, in the middle of dinner in fact, that a large Lion Patronus came barreling though the walls of the mansion and opened its mouth only for Neville's voice to come out sounded angry and breathless.
"Harry! Harry I'm sorry, I'm sorry they slipped through I don't know how it happened but George, Bill and Fleur are all missing they were taken and I don't know where! Be careful Harry it's to lure you out I'm sure of it- they want you to fight again. They want their General and I'm so sorry but I can't find our family and I need your help."
Skull descended on the Wizarding World like the wrath of the gods, his Arcobaleno family at his back understanding what they were walking into and walking into it anyway because these people were threatening not only their Cloud but their Cloud's family.
So I finally got around to the Slip Up AU I mentioned. XDD. How'd you guys like the peek into my 'What If…'?