So I got a bit bored of trying to restart my A Song of Ice and Fire story today and thought I'd share the original epilogue of A Cadmean Victory. Well, I say the original epilogue, the current one would have been the last chapter with this on the end had I not decided I liked to leave things hanging. I am posting this separately so that it doesn't straight away ruin that ending, but here it is nonetheless.
Oh, and the disclaimer before I forget; it's been a while since I had to copy and paste this into anything!
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine; everything is J K Rowling's.
This is fairly short, and there's no character death, but it might explain the ending of the original fic, not that you should believe anything I write in the beginning author's note by now!
Chapter 1 (and only)
Black silk whispered about his feet, drifting gently across the cool marble floor beneath his bare feet.
It'd been four years, four long years of listening and smiling. Four years of trying to believe, hoping he to believe, and always when she's not looking, when she can't see, because he fears the truth, the real, bitter, honest truth might be their ruin when nothing else could.
Things have changed since he was last here, gone are the great gates, the glittering line of green fireplaces and silly, golden statues of the fountain. The room is more simple now, less ostentatious, but more elegant for it.
My fault, he remembers, amused.
He and his opponent had all but razed this room.
'Your wand,' the wizard at the desk asked politely. He's short man, almost a head less than him, with lank, blond hair and hazel eyes, not someone he recognises.
He paused for a moment, unsure which wand to hand the increasingly nervous looking man.
'Be careful with it,' he said, smiling wryly, 'it's like a piece of me.'
'Ebony, eleven and third inches,' the short wizard read monotonously from the thin strip of paper beside the stand. He waited, puzzled, but the only mark that came after was a simple hyphen. 'It doesn't recognise your wand's core,' the man remarked, jolted from his indifferent tone.
'It has an unusual core,' he agreed, a small smile crooking the corner of his mouth. 'I brought the ingredients to Ollivander's myself, you know, it was raining, and the wandmaker was most surprised to see me-'
'You can go in,' the wizard interrupted, thrusting the wand back at him.
He smiled as he slipped the wand back into left sleeve, no doubt the poor man had not wanted to hear another this-is-how-I-got-my-wand story. That suited him just fine, this wand's make up was well known to most and someone would recognise it if it was recorded fully.
It seemed a long way down the atrium beneath sunny blue skies that reminded him faintly of Hogwarts, but halfway he stepped through a cool curtain of air and his felt his features shift back to their true form.
The Minister learnt from the goblins.
It was not quite the waterfall of truth, no doubt the ministry had not bothered to come up with a clever name, but he hadn't received a faceful of cold mist so he felt it was an improvement over its predecessor.
He restored his transfigured features as swiftly as he was able, and nobody glanced at him twice as his hair shivered crimson, and his face shifted slightly out of shape. The eyes he left; Fleur hated it when he changed those.
The elevators to the lower levels, now a significantly less gaudy silver, sat just either side of the new statue and fountain, but they were full of people coming up as the atrium emptied for the evening so he wandered towards the stature to wait a few minutes.
He stopped dead in front of it.
It was simple white marble not unlike the terrible marble sadness that was the memorial in Godric's Hollow, but that was where the resemblance ended.
This is a memorial too, he realised, looking up at it curiously, but to victory, not defeat.
There were a hundred faces in the figures that sat in the rippling water, each one different. Some were familiar. Arthur Weasley was there, Ron, Hermione, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, and even Sirius Black stared up at the smaller group who smiled sadly in the centre. Katie was there too, smiling just as he remembered, beaming up at the tallest of the figures so brightly it made his heart ache.
He knew all of the faces that stood alongside that one.
The old wizard had his hands folded beneath his beard, his face a picture of bespectacled benevolence above robes he was sure the sculptors had been eternally gratefully were to remain unrealistically plain. Amelia Bones stood stiffly at his left, proud, and every bit as stern as he had heard she had been in real life.
The last face was his.
'Impressive, isn't it.'
I know that voice.
He was older, more mature, but he was still definitely Neville.
Will he recognise me?
'Very,' he replied quietly, angling his face away to hide his eyes. 'This is the first time I have seen it.'
'What do you think?' Neville asked him, waving away the man who was mouthing his name from the side of the atrium.
'I think it's a good memorial, but not particularly realistic,' he answered honestly.
'Most people just gape, you know, they don't really think about it,' Neville said curiously. 'You're right, of course, none of those three were are perfect as those statues would make them seem, but people aren't, and sometimes the right thing to do isn't always what you have to do.'
He's grown up.
He was almost proud of his former friend for that.
'Did he actually look like that?' He asked, pointing up at his own face, the tallest of the figures.
'No,' Neville chuckled faintly. 'He never smiled like that, the scar had faded by the time he died, and he had another one, a little triangle upon his cheekbone.'
'A triangle,' Harry mused. 'Should I add it?' He offered wryly.
'You can try,' Neville challenged. 'It's very well warded. Pansy Parkinson is still in St Mungo's from her ill-fated attempt at sabotage three years ago.'
The Elder Wand slid from and back into his sleeve in a single wand motion, and small mark appeared on his white marble counterpart's cheek.
'But the wards,' Neville stuttered.
'They're probably tied to doing the statue harm,' he explained. 'I know a girl who's very good with wards, she's taught me a lot.'
The atrium was empty now, and Neville, taking advantage of it, pulled out his wand to levitate himself up to inspect the mark. He watched him stare warily for the mark was not just a triangle, there was a circle too, and a line, and Neville had only ever seen it twice, but he was sure to recognise it.
When he came down he was only frowning, but when he turned to look him in the eyes the colour drained from his face.
'Harry?' He whispered incredulously.
'Perhaps,' he replied quietly.
That was why he was here after all.
To be sure.
'Sorry... Nev,' he apologised. 'Imperio.'
Carry on as if you never noticed me, he willed, pulling the third hallow over his head and striding towards the lifts.
Neville was strong-willed, and, if his badge was to be believed, one of the auror elite, the Imperius Curse would wear off in a few hours at most, but he'd be long gone by then, and nobody would believe him. A single green-eyed stranger was hardly evidence of death's defeat.
The door to the lift slid smoothly shut behind him and he pressed the button the moment it did.
'Level Nine, Department of Mysteries,' the dispassionate voice announced.
So not everything has changed.
He was, however, acutely aware of the empty space beside him, the spot Sirius had stood in the last time he had come here.
That's surely a good sign, he reminded himself, stepping from the lift into the torch-lined corridor.
They hadn't changed the defences, but he supposed it hadn't been merited given that the wizards that had circumvented were all believed to be dead.
He still ended up in the wrong room.
The archway stood on its plinth before him with it's shimmering, shivering veil, and a roomful of whispers that crowded around him. There were far more voices than the last time.
'Next time,' he promised it.
Fleur wouldn't be happy he had come here, not one bit, but she might forgive him for a priceless enchanted artefact.
Or a few kisses, he thought, smiling.
He left the whispers behind. They held no real sway over him, not anymore, not now he knew he was bound to life, anchored against the nothingness. As long as his wand lasted he would, and one day their room of runes would unravel the Deathly Hallows, allow them to understand the aspects of death in their entirety.
The last enemy, he smiled, leaving the Veil behind him for now.
In the next room he found it, the Mirror of Erised.
'Show me,' he murmured to the mirror as he walked in a silken whisper across the room. 'Show me who.'
It had been four years, four years of moments with Fleur between memories he wasn't sure were his own, four years of putting himself back together, of rebuilding himself from what she had told him he was.
He still wasn't sure if she was right, and he had to know, but if she was wrong he couldn't tell her, because whomever he had been before he needed her now, and he always would.
He didn't look yet, he wouldn't, couldn't, so he inspected the wards around the mirror instead.
There weren't any.
He blinked, the double-checked.
There was one, a single trigger ward that would alert the aurors and the unspeakables if the mirror was moved.
The Elder Wand slid from his sleeve as he contemplated the problem. The ward was well cast, he couldn't break or disarm it.
I guess I'll just have to trigger it then.
He cast a quick tempus charm, then placed his fingers on the mirror to apparate away.
The ward vanished before he apparated, and he stopped, wary of a trap.
A long, silent few minutes passed, but nothing happened.
I might as well go, then, Fleur will already be wondering where I am.
There was a soft snap and he stepped into the hall of their home, the one they shared with Fleur's parents and Gabrielle.
Now he looked.
Show me what I want most.
He'd been both of them once, for a short while, but he needed to know which one he'd been before, who he'd been before that second wave of all-consuming green light and unbearable pain, before he'd let Hedwig bring him back.
'That is an ugly mirror,' Fleur complained, from behind him. 'I hope you haven't been making me worry while you bought that thing.'
'I didn't buy it,' he grinned. 'I stole it.'
'Whomever it belonged to will probably want to thank you,' she said.
'What do you see in it?' He asked her curiously.
'Our reflections,' she said slowly. 'What do you see?'
'What I hoped I would,' he said.
Fleur was there, just as he had expected her to be, and their daughter too, held loosely in her mother's arms, fingers entwined in the silver hair they shared, as she smiled back at him from the glass, but there was nothing of what he had feared. There is no girl in glasses, no eyes of scarlet, no fear, no power, nothing in the mirror tells him that he wants to be the greatest wizard.
I was Harry, he realised, full of swooping relief. I am Harry.
'It's the Mirror of Erised, isn't it,' Fleur realised, stepping up beside him and slipping her fingers into his. 'I'm not sure if I should be proud or worried that you're only an hour late for dinner.'
'Proud,' Harry said with a laugh, 'it is you. The ward disappeared before I left.'
'You used this,' she let go of his hand long enough to hold up one finger over his shoulder, the slim golden time-turner she had made herself dangling from it. 'You asked me how to get around a certain type of trigger ward you can't break or move so I told you a simpler method. I let you use this and you went back and moved the mirror back and forth an inch every fifteen minutes for the last six hours until they got so annoyed they removed the ward.'
'That was smart,' he laughed, letting her hand slide back into his own.
'It's me,' she told him archly. 'But the moving it was actually your idea,' she admitted quietly.
'I'm Harry Potter,' he said, unintentionally lending the words more weight, folding his arms across his chest just as Salazar once had, and sticking his chin in the air.
'So what do you see?' She asked in small voice, fingers tightening. 'I know you were afraid you were not you before, but it doesn't matter to me, you're Harry now, you're mine now.'
He squeezed her fingers gratefully, touched to know that even if he hadn't been the boy she loved before he was now.
He shrugged, turning away from the ancient mirror.
'There's nothing there I can't see here,' Harry told her gently, kissing her soundly then stooping to kiss Katrina on the forehead. She scrunched up her nose at him, tilting her chin at him in an adorable imitation of her mother and squeezing her bright emerald eyes happily shut.
AN: Please read and review, thanks, of course, to everyone who does. Let me know if you preferred your explanation of the ending to mine - that's an argument in favour of my leaving it hanging! In my version the Cadmean (in reference to Cadmus) Victory is not really Harry's at all, but Dumbledore's, but the Cadmean (in reference to Cadmus Peverell) Victory is Harry's, having risen from death to claim his dream.