Howdy. What to say after such a long hiatus? Well, to be sure I can't be certain the hiatus is over, but I am interested in this fic again now that I've finished Motion Sickness. So we'll see. Still can't ask back my old beta so expect some mistakes.

I'm still sick. Still mentally unwell. They don't know what I have but it's something between delusional disorder and schizoaffective disorder. I hear things. I feel things. I don't really see shadows. I have paranoid thoughts and delusions which of course aren't delusions to me. I'm on a buffet of drugs just to keep me sane and my fear in check. Two separate antipsychotics and a two different medications for anxiety including clonazepam which if you know about then you already know. I've been on clonazepam for almost a year and a half now. Usually you're only on it for a month at most. It has long term consequences but I can't stop. I need it still. Luckily my family had the money to provide this support. I suppose I'm technically one of the lucky ones. I could be suffering the full brunt of my symptoms with no chemical buffer.

I think that's it.

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The knowledge that he was a horcrux should have been less shocking. All the signs were there. Harry believed himself to be willingly blind in this regard. Voldemort was in his soul. Voldemort was in his soul. Voldemort was in his soul. And Harry had no idea how to get him out.

"So this is it? This is the nature of the connection between myself and the dark lord?" Harry murmured.

Dumbledore merely nodded.

"Do you know how to free me?" Harry demanded.

"You must die."

"No. I want to live. I want my life with Daphne. I want my dreams. I want to live. There must be another way."

"There is none…"

"None that you would have me take. That doesn't mean there is none. I must follow Voldemort down these obscure paths of magic."

"Harry please. Don't taint yourself."

"My soul is already tainted. Voldemort is in my soul. You'd have me do nothing? Merely allow Voldemort to kill me should the occasion arise. No. I want to live." Harry snatched the Elder Wand off the old man's desk. It hummed in pleasure. It wanted pain and death and Harry was tempted to give in and kill the old wizard across from him.

"How'd you know about the Hallows, Harry?"

"How could I not? Legends of Tvashtri and the Apaurusya speak of the death stick. There are old russian legends as well. Go I know Not Whither and Fetch I know Not What. I am sure there are other legends."

"I prefer the Tale of Beedle the Bard but yes. I suppose there are more legends besides my favorite. What will you do with the wand, Harry."

"I will use it to destroy Voldemort. I suspect you know that. Any bond can be severed. Even that between him and his horcruxes. Even that between him and I."

"That could kill you all the same?"

"Now you care if I die?"

"Harry please. You would have lived if Voldemort himself cast the spell. The horcrux would have been sacrificed in your place."

Harry paused. Such a thing was possible to be sure. Soul magic and sacrificial magic were complicated.

"I'll think about it." Harry's voice warbled into parseltongue and back again.

"Please do. Don't damage your precious life."

"I will decide how precious it is. I will judge myself. Not you."

"Have I truly been so cruel to you?"

"You kept the prophecy from me," Harry reminded. "You let me struggle blindly against Voldemort's soul."

"Was that not unkind?"

Harry sighed at the elderly man. He looked like he'd aged fifty years since the start of this conversation.

Harry stood up taller and palmed the Elder Wand. Dumbledore had surrendered it. It belonged to Harry now.

"With my soul I can pierce and veil and delusion. I am my soul. In contrast I merely have a body and mind. And you would have me risk it all. That was unkind. What about Daphne? What about my friends? What if you failed and were wrong and I do go out into that cold night? No. I must find a way to rend Voldemort's soul free of mine. Whatever it takes."

"Murder? Harry?"

"There are men slated for death already. I killed Barty Crouch Jr. I killed Quarrel."

"Self defense and killing someone already sentenced to death isn't murder, Harry."

"How about killing you?" Harry demanded and leveled the death stick at Dumbledore. "You've been like a father to me. How about killing you? If it would free me from this pain."

"Killing me wouldn't be murder either."

"And why not?"

"I'm willing to die. If it would grant you freedom I would sacrifice myself."

Harry snarled. "I must find a way to be free. Destroying the fragment of Voldemort inside me, or… or somehow merging it into my own soul. Either would do."

"You can't mean that. You surely don't want Voldemort to be a part of you anymore than he already is."

"If it would set me free and let me live my life I could suffer almost anything. Bet on that. I am already in agony. I feel… I can feel our connection. I always have been able to."

"And so what will you do with me, Harry? I will not fight back or resist you."

"Nothing. For now. You… I still love you."

"Do you? Despite all this? Can you forgive me?"

Harry scowled. "I can. Not right away but with time. I can."

"So what will you do at the hearing tomorrow?"

"I suppose I'll tell the truth."

"You will."

"You told me the truth tonight. I will tell the truth at the trial tomorrow. I can do that. My secrets I suppose will be laid bare but it doesn't matter. I have Daphne. I have the elder wand. I can march forward."

"You love Ms. Greengrass."

"I do. She won't abandon me. That would be…" Well, it would be intolerable if Daphne abandoned him. He literally couldn't handle it. Suicide would be preferable. "That would be too much for my poor heart to bear."

"Young hearts are often fickle things."

"Not mine. Mine is steady. Daphne and I have a connection."

"I shall pick up my old wand. I shall need it now that you possess the elder wand…"

"Yes. I suppose you should. Don't worry. I won't do anything to damage my 'precious soul' until I've thought it over. But I will find a way to sever this connection between myself and the dark lord. It is agony. I wish to be free."

"Then… shall we say goodnight Harry?"

"Can Daphne come to the trial tomorrow?"

"I don't have her mother's permission."

"You don't need it. Daphne will come if I ask. I want her to be there. You want me to tell the truth, Daphne comes. No exceptions."

"Very well. Goodnight Harry."

"Good night Professor."

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'Daphne… Daphne wake up.'

Daphne stirred in her bed in the girl's dormitory on the train. She heard Harry's voice in her head and began to rise. She checked her clock. It was early. Six in the AM. She knew Harry was often up but he didn't usually summon her. Not at this hour.

Harry was waiting for her in the remodelled girl's common room.

"Your work?" Harry asked. A pleased expression on his face.

"Yes it is mine. I enchanted this space and expanded it. You showed me the way."

"Don't be so unflattering to yourself Daphne. Your magic truly is amazing. Enchantress of my heart," he accused with a small smile.

Daphne flushed red. "You summoned me from my dreams." Daphne reminded.

"I did. I wanted to ask that you accompany me to the trial today."

"It's a hearing."

"Not by the end of it. It will be Dumbledore on trial."

"You intend to actually tell them what happened to your relatives?" Daphne had seen it. How they broke his bones and hurt him over and over again as his magic sprouted to the surface in uncontrollable bursts. She'd used her power on the house that Harry grew up in during their short stint there.

"Only if you're there to lend me some courage."

Daphne flushed again.

"That could cause problems for Dumbledore..."

"He begged of me to tell the truth today. And I want you by my side."

"I don't think I'll be literally allowed by your side…" Daphne trailed.

"Metaphorically shall be enough."

"I'll go."

"I knew you would. My enchantress. I needed only to ask of you." Harry stepped forward and took both her hands in his. He looked her in the eye with a small pleased smile and Daphne could feel his happiness through their connection. It was a connection built up by repeated usage of the mind arts upon her. It was a connection born of his mastery over her. It was theirs.

"Harry… I should change. Get ready."

He stroked her hair back. "You look beautiful in your nightgown."

Daphne held her breath at their proximity. He was so close to her. He rested his forehead against hers and she shut her eyes.

He kissed her then.

Gently. Cupping her bottom lip between both of his. She sighed through her nose at his touch. It burned her a little and she whimpered. He pulled back after a minute but it was far too soon for Daphne's liking. She'd rather the kiss last longer. It had been her first. It was so impactful. She could taste the eldritch ozone that clouded the air around him. Like the molecules in the air couldn't help but fall apart and recombine under his mere presence. A sign of his power. He reached gently and stroked her mind with a soft wave of pleasure. Daphne gasped and rubbed the tops of her thighs together. She flushed and panted as he cupped her cheek and her thoughts. Her eyes swam with his intoxicating touch of her thoughts.

He stepped back and withdrew and much like the kiss it was all too soon for Daphne.

"Go change," he purred. "I'll wait for you. I'll be here when you're done."

He was wearing a set of dress robes which made him look dashing. Daphne bobbed her head in agreement. She'd need some formal wear. Luckily she had a nice blue skirt that would do fine for the occasion.

She stepped back into the dormitory and left Harry behind her. He was still in her thoughts a little. Just a reassuring touch. He was still in her magic a lot however. She could feel the tide of power she could tap into with their connection.

She slumped against the door and tried to master herself. Bring her thoughts back under control. She ran through her Occlumency exercises as fast as she could. It didn't work so she tried again a little slower. He remained in her thoughts but she managed to bring her heart rate back to normal.

My first kiss!

And it had been so powerful and so meaningful. He trusted her. She knew how little he liked being touched but he went for it all with her. The feeling of his skin against hers was a pleasant buzz. Like the lightning Harry was so fond of. But he allowed her to touch him. She allowed him to touch her. That was… that meant… it was everything to Daphne.

Harry sighed outside the room. He could feel Daphne's joy. Her elation. He drank it deeply. He swallowed it eagerly. He raised the elder wand. "Expecto Patronum." He whispered.

A great shape spilled out from his wand. A full and eager form. A person's face on a lion's body billowed from the mist. A full patronus. A sphinx took shape before him. It was small in the space Daphne had modified. It took a seat and stared straight at him. Harry grinned. He should have known the answer was Daphne's love for him. He should have known it was in his love for her. The kiss was happy. A truly happy memory to call his own. Something nobody could take from him. He would die before he lost this memory. Memory was the key to the spell. Dumbledore had told him as much. But this… to have finally mastered the difficult spell… this meant Harry was ready.

The trial mattered little in comparison to this. His and Daphne's joy. And why not be joyful? Harry knew the truth about himself now. Harry had two of the deathly hallows. Daphne was safe. Harry's friends here at the Beauxbatons and Hogwarts were safe. There was no need to be upset or fearful. Sure, death loomed, but it always loomed. Death anxiety was nothing new. Harry had everything he needed. And the Sphinx was small. It was quiet. It was powerful. It was a deep grey just like Harry's soul. Not a blinding white. Not a hideous darkness. Something in between did nicely for him.

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They took the floo to the Ministry of Magic. It was easy enough. Better than aparating. Daphne held his hand the whole time and Harry felt ready. He could face the world and what it had done to him. He had Daphne by his side. Everything would be alright.

They were led down into the department of justice for the trial. The hearing rather. Harry was sat in front of a portion of the Wizengamot and Daphne, Sirius, and Dumbledore took their seats in a box above him and to the left.

"Please state your name for the record." Harry was asked by an auror off to the side.

"Harry Potter," Harry returned.

"Do you know why you're here Mr. Potter?"

"To decide the future of my custodianship."

"Very good." Madam Bones allowed. Harry recognized her from his panel but none of the others. Susan was an ally. Daphne had made sure of that. He knew Amelia was involved in some way. "Now your parents' living will stipulates that in the event of their death you would go to live with Sirius Black. Your godfather. However, this panel ruled that at the time of their deaths Sirius Black was in no fit condition to do so. Now we shall see if that has changed and review your custodianship as it has progressed. Is it true you were sent to live with your muggle relatives by the will's executor? Albus Percivel Wulfric Brian Dumbledore?"

"Yes it's true."

"But you were moved when you were eleven to Augusta Longbottom's manor? Why?"

"It was discovered by Dumbldore that the living arrangement with my muggle relatives was less than satisfactory."

"Why?"

Harry took a deep breath. "My muggle relatives were never pleased with my bouts of accidental magic. You see, Madam Bones, they believed they could beat the magic out of me. And they tried earnestly to do so."

Madam Bones jumped in her chair a little at Harry's brazen attitude.

"This is a very serious accusation." One of the other members of Harry's panel, a man, leveled.

"I'm afraid I have the scars to prove it. On one occasion my uncle broke my jaw. On many other occasions my aunt would use a frying pan to beat me. My cousin was larger than me and often harassed me in other ways. Punched me. Kicked me. They made me live in a cupboard under the stairs. That's how Dumbledore found out I was being abused. My Hogwarts letter was addressed to the cupboard under the stairs at little Whinging St."

"I would like to order a full medical examination," declared one board member.

"Surely it couldn't have been that bad," another denied.

"An examination would at least allow us to see the damaged jaw bone he speaks of. These are serious accusations to lay at the feet of Albus Dumbledore."

Dumbledore stood and the panel quieted. "It's true, councilors. Every word. I am afraid that the Dursely family was no suitable place for a wizard child," he spoke from where he stood in the box. The whole panel turned to look at Dumbledore. Jaws dropped in shock. "As soon as I learned that the Durseley's treated our young Harry so harshly I had him moved."

"This calls your custodianship into question Dumbledore," the same man accused. "How could you let this happen? The boy who lived? Abused by his caretakers for years? And you didn't know? How could you be so irresponsible?!"

"Councilors I blame my muggle relatives not Dumbledore for what happened to me," Harry supplied.

"That's hardly relevant," Madam Bones shut that down. "I would like to move to the previous question. Should Sirius Black take over custodianship of Harry James Potter."

"We call Sirius Black to the floor."

Harry stood from his seat and passed Sirius as they swapped places. Dumbledore guided Harry to his seat with a hand on his back. Harry dismissed the gesture with a shrug of his shoulders. He sat next to Daphne who took his hand in his gently. Her hand was soft and warm. She squeezed reassuringly. Harry gave her a shallow nod.

"State your name for the record." The same auror said to Sirius.

"Sirius Black," Sirius said.

"Sirius Black, it was ruled that you were grieving the death of your friends too harshly to be a suitable guardian when last this council met. Is that correct?"

"It was. It was also the right decision. I wasn't in my proper state of mind."

"But you are now?"

"I've had time to grieve and come to terms with my loss. James' death shook me. Lily's too. But now I need to be there for Harry."

"What makes you so sure that you're ready now?"

"When last this council met I was removed from the aurors since I could no longer cast a patronus charm. That was used as primary evidence that I was unfit mentally to raise a child. Now I can once more cast the charm."

"Can witnesses testify this? Or would you prefer to demonstrate?"

Sirius stood and drew his wand. "Expecto Patronum," He enunciated.

A staggering black dog shambled from the tip of Sirius's wand. It was dark grey but it was something even as it flickered slightly in and out of being. But there was no mistaking it. It was a full patronus. Harry wasn't sure how the man managed it. He'd been in Sirius's head. He'd felt Sirius's depression. Bipolar depression. To see this came as a shock to Harry.

"The council accepts this as evidence. Will you be rejoining the Aurors Mr. Black?"

"I don't think so. No. Better to focus on Harry."

"Then I would like to move to the previous question. Should Sirius Black be granted full custody of one Harry James Potter? All in favor, say aye. Aye."

"Aye."

"Aye."

"All in disfavor say nay."

"Nay."

"Nay."

"The motion passes. You are dismissed and this council is adjourned."

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-WG