Harry looked back into the red eyes, and wanted it to happen now, quickly, while he could still stand, before he lost control, before he betrayed fear— He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone.
"Hmm, strange," Harry thought, "no pain."
He tried looking around him, but couldn't see anything. All was black. He didn't feel any fear however. The sensation could best be described as peaceful. Blissful, even.
"Hello," Harry said, sensing a presence.
Confused, but still at peace, he tried to find who or what was there.
"Is there anyone out there?" he asked.
The silence remained however and Harry thought about his situation. He had believed Dumbledore's words. Believed that he had to die to get rid of the Horcrux in his head. He somehow knew now that he was wrong. So, he was dead and Voldemort wasn't.
Although he realised he had unleashed an unstoppable madman unto the world, Harry couldn't be bothered by this. He only felt a detached form of worry. Mostly he was at peace in this dark place. Curious even. Where was he? What was going on? Was this death?
And still that feeling of being watched… Studied, appraised…
"Who…?" he asked, noticing a deeper black upon the darkness.
"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?!" a booming voice screamed.
Harry felt no fear though. He sensed no evil from this voice. Nor could he sense any malicious intent. Though he could've done without the headache the screaming caused.
"You don't have to scream," he said. "I'm not deaf. Dead, maybe. But not deaf," he said quietly.
He felt a shift in the atmosphere and thought that the blackness was receding slightly.
Turning around, or what he thought was turning around, he saw a pinprick in the canvas of darkness. Twinkling like a star, a small light appeared in the distance he was now facing.
Feeling himself move, he wondered again what was going on. Still he felt no fear or trepidation. Curiosity and peace, but no fear.
"WHY ARE YOU HERE?" the voice bellowed.
"Well, not to become a deaf person, that's for sure," Harry said. "Could you please stop screaming at me?"
"Sorry," the voice said at a manageable volume. "Why are you here?" it asked again.
Harry suddenly realised that the voice sounded female to him. "I don't even know where 'here' is," Harry said. "Am I dead?"
"That remains to be seen."
"Again?" Harry sighed. He thought he recognised the voice, though he couldn't tell from where.
"Unlike your previous experience, this is truly the crossroads. You're on the verge of death," said the voice. "You should've died. Still can, actually."
Harry noted that the voice sounded more worrisome now. "Well, that's not very helpful," Harry replied. "Who are you?"
"You don't recognise the voice of your mother?"
And it suddenly clicked where Harry had heard the voice before. In his Dementor-induced memories and in Little Hangleton the night Voldemort returned.
"Mum?" Harry asked tentatively. "Why can't I see you?"
"Yes, dear. It's me. The rules of the afterlife prevent me from taking a physical form. But what I really want to know is, what the bloody hell are you doing being dead?"
"Well, Dumbledore said…" Harry began, but was interrupted by his mother. She sounded rather put out with the former headmaster.
"That old fool. I suppose he told you some daft tale of you being a Horcrux?"
"Well, yes," Harry said sheepishly.
Lily sighed and let out a groan of frustration. "That scheming old fool. Let me tell you what's really going on Harry. Yes, Voldemort did indeed create a number of those foul things. All of which you destroyed by the way."
"What?" Harry replied eloquently.
"If you let me finish?" Lily said, waiting for Harry to nod. "Good. Now, the first one you destroyed was the diary, obviously. Then came the ring, which that old goat destroyed. Which, by the way, brings me to the Hallows. We will talk about them in a second. After the ring came both the locket and cup. Which you effectively destroyed as well. Lastly there was the Diadem, which got burnt by the Fiendfyre. With me so far?" she asked.
"Well, sort of. But what about Nagini and the one in me?" Harry asked.
"Lies," his mother responded. "You can't turn living being into a Horcrux. The sliver of the soul will take over the person or creature. So you wouldn't have been Harry if you were a Horcrux. You would've turned into Voldemort. Look at what happened to Ginny Weasley."
Harry thought he understood. "But why wasn't this in the book Hermione found?" he asked.
"Well, as the subject is taboo in the wizarding world, not much was ever written in publicly sold books. I only know of this through my work as an Unspeakable," Lily explained. "Now, after the Diadem was destroyed Voldemort was mortal once more. You could've killed him, yet you let the demented memories of some greasy git convince you otherwise. I don't know if Dumbledore actually believed you to be a Horcrux, but I do know that Snape was obsessed with both your father and me. Your father as his nemesis and he wanted me for… Well… Let's just say that I wasn't interested in that kind of relationship with him."
"That bloody wanker had a thing for you?" Harry asked.
"Quite the obsession, if memory serves. Anyway, not the point. The point is that you could've killed the nose-less idiot after the Diadem was destroyed, but you let yourself be manipulated. Not for the first time, either."
"What do you mean with 'not the first time'?" Harry asked, having a gut feeling where this was going.
"Well, I'm not sure if you want to hear this. Let me try it this way. When did you start noticing Ginny Weasley as more than Ron's sister?"
"Fifth year." Harry immediately responded, having his instinct confirmed. "She dosed me with something, didn't she?"
"Unfortunately, yes. Some weakened love potion, I would guess. No idea why, though. Could've been on her mother's orders, Dumbledore's, or of her own volition."
Harry was getting angry now. He had thought things with Ginny did develop rather suddenly. "That bitch!" he exclaimed.
"Language, Harry," his mother chided. "Though I do agree with your sentiment. Speaking of the Weasleys, why in the world did you stay friends with that Ron character after your name came out of that infernal goblet?"
"He did apologise," Harry began.
"No he didn't," his mother interrupted angrily. "He was starting to, but you interrupted him. If you had let him finish, I'm sure it would've been some half-arsed excuse. Hell, he never even apologised to his many, many, put downs of Hermione. Another one who got dosed, by the way."
Harry was reeling a bit from Lily's sudden anger. "You mean he and she," he began, but was interrupted once more.
"Yes, I thought I was being quite clear." Apparently she was quite angry. "Ah well, doesn't matter now anyway," she said.
"Why?" Harry asked, but his mother didn't answer.
"Now, on to Hallows. What, in the name of all that is holy and good, gave you the idea that those things were more than a fairy tale?"
Harry was quite shocked by the sudden change of topic. "Well, Dumbledore…" he began, but stopped. He thought about it. Three magical objects. Possessing them makes one master of Death. The Cloak, the stone, the wand. "There's proof they are real" he said. "The tale of the three brothers, for one. The marking on the grave, for another. Plus wizards have sought them out for centuries."
"Finally, he thinks for himself," his mother said in an amused tone of voice. "Though, you're not quite on the Galleon. The advantage of being dead is that it gives one such a nice perspective on things. Yes, the three objects were indeed made by the Peverell brothers, as you had surmised. However, the objects were never more than just that. Objects. Powerful ones, yes. But mere objects nonetheless. The legend of the hallows came about because of their powerful nature. By the way, the stone doesn't summon the dead."
"But I saw you, dad, Remus and Sirius," exclaimed Harry.
"No, you didn't. The stone creates an illusion of the dead people you wish to talk to. Complete with their personality, based on your memories and wishes. As you wished to sacrifice yourself, you saw us encouraging you to do so. It's quite simple and ingenious, really."
Harry felt like a fool for believing that he saw those he missed most. "The wand and the cloak?" he quickly asked.
"Well, both are indeed very powerful, bus fallible as well. The failings of the wand are well tracked throughout history, as you should know by now. The cloak's failures should be apparent to you as well," she gave Harry the distinct impression that she wanted him to figure it out.
"Well," he started thoughtfully, "Dumbledore caught me going to the mirror of Erised. Also, Moody's eye can see through it." He reasoned. Then it hit him. "But Dumbledore said it was a cloak of true invisibility. That means that Moody's eye shouldn't have been able to see through it, doesn't it?" he asked.
"By George, I think he's got it," his mother said happily. "Now, I don't know if Dumbledore was manipulating you once more, or if the old fool truly believes the legend. Doesn't matter either way. The question of why you are here still remains though."
"Well, I still don't know."
"It could've been… But that shouldn't be possible, though…" Lily said in, what Harry assumed, a thoughtful manner.
"Could've been what?" he asked.
"What do you know of prophecy and fate?" she asked.
"Too much and too little, all at the same time," Harry said annoyed.
"What you attribute to prophecy and what you see as fate, are in essence one and the same."
"Yeah… So?" Harry said, getting annoyed.
"As you may, or may not, know, your life has been governed to some extend by this force," she said.
"This I already know, thank you very much… Didn't help me though," Harry replied. "Actually, it has brought me nothing more than grief. I'm sick of all this prophecy crap, to be honest."
"Perhaps," his mother said and Harry thought he heard some annoyance. "But don't forget that there are more forces in play than just your life, Harry. I was told that Fate had a plan for your life. For what you call the future. Getting yourself killed kind of threw a wrench into Fate's machine. You, according to Fate, were not to lose. Perhaps it was Fate that brought you to this place."
"Well, fate can go and get bent, for all I care." Harry was fast leaving annoyed behind and moving towards angry. "It has brought me nothing but pain, fear and grief. I really don't care about it anymore. Besides, why can't I stay with you? Isn't that what you want?" Harry asked nervously.
"No, I don't. I want you to live Harry. Know that I love you, as does your father. Besides, I am afraid that you don't get to have a say in the matter," she sighed. "Things have been set in motion. There seems to be no stopping it."
Harry rather thought that the last sentence came in a resigned-sort of voice. Like one accepting the fact that they can't change what's coming, but not liking it one bit either.
"What's been set in motion?" Harry asked.
"Now we get to the difficult part."
"Now?" Harry said in surprise. "I left difficult behind quite a few exits ago, to be honest."
"The problem is, that I don't really know what's going on. I wasn't informed," Lily said, sounding somewhat angry. "Thing is, you're apparently being sent back in time."
"Back in time?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so," Lily said. "What I was told, was to offer you a choice."
"First I need to explain that no matter what you choose, things will change. That cannot be averted. Your choice is between you accepting help, or you accepting knowledge."
"What's the difference?" Harry asked, dreading the answer.
"Memories I assume," Lily said.
Harry was confused now. He looked around again and saw that the pinprick of a light had become significantly bigger. Brighter as well. It seemed as bright as the sun and as large as Hogwarts. Harry had the idea he had to make his choice before the light hit him. Still he couldn't see to who, or indeed what, the voice belonged.
"I still don't understand," he said.
"No, you do not," his mother replied. Sadly, so Harry thought. "You will have to choose, however. Help, or knowledge?"
Harry looked at the light. It had grown again. He knew his choice would be important, but to what extend?
"What if I choose the wrong option?" he asked fearfully.
"Then it will be harder," Lily replied. "Now, choose before it's too late."
"In that case, knowledge," Harry said, just as the light hit him.
All became blindingly white, as he heard a different voice say "It will be so". He knew no more.