Disclaimer: Same as always, not making anything off of this so give me a break. Oh, and copyright for When you say nothing at all is Allison Krause in this case.

Chapter XXXXII: Light before the Dark

A shout, more shouts, and then a series of thuds.

Harry heard the commotion outside, and quickly grabbed his wand. Throwing the door of the lavatory open, his back to the left side, he let out the breath he had been holding and just as quickly lowered his wand. On the ground were Malfoy and his two goons, both twitching and looking like a trio of pus-filled slugs. Several Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs whom Harry knew from his time with the Dueling and Self-Defense Club were moving the bodies on to a luggage rack, where the ooze dripped to the ground. Judging from the stain marks, it looked as though the Slytherins had been about to kick down the door to the loo and waylay him. Harry looked over at Anthony Goldstein, Hannah Abbott, Ernie Macmillan, Susan Bones, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and Terry Boot, who had obviously sprung their own ambush on the trio of Slytherins. Nodding his thanks, Harry looked over at the oozing bodies. At one time, Harry supposed he might have enjoyed watching the pus ooze, almost as though it were blood. Now, though, having actually watched people that he was close to bleed in a similar fashion….

That train of thought stopped as another occurred to him: before him was the kind of war that was to come, indeed was already upon them. Harry had been caught with his guard down, and odds were had these not been amateurs they would have done some serious damage before he could have had his wand drawn. Keeping his eyes open, staring straight ahead out the windows and the rolling countryside, Harry was tempted to go back into the loo, and ease the feelings he was feeling in his stomach. He didn't, forcing himself to breathe slowly and calmly. Vaguely, he could hear Ron saying something about Goyle's mom going to be appreciative as he looked loads better. Harry concentrated some more, and looked over at Ron who said, "Come on, let's go join the others."

Harry nodded and followed him into the train compartment, where Hermione, Luna, Katrina and Neville were waiting. Katrina and Neville were embracing, Neville resting his head on her shoulder. Harry made his way to the window, and looked out the rolling countryside as his friends listened to Hermione read the articles from the press. The magical community of Great Britain was in a total uproar, with fear running rampant, the Ministry trying to reassure what looked like a highly disillusioned public that all was well.

Hermione finished reading a story of how there had been a flood of floo messages and Howlers at the Ministry and local constabularies throughout England as anxious wizards and witches reported seeing Death Eaters almost behind every blade of grass in the land. She sighed, "I'm afraid it's only going to be the beginning." Harry nodded, and looked to his left as Doc, who looked something like Death slightly warmed over, staggered into the room dragging along a pair of black suitcases. Harry moved to help him, but Doc waved him aside as he threw one, then the other, with both hands onto the luggage racks. Luna got up and made room for him as he sat down on the green leather seating. Resting his head back, Doc closed his eyes and breathed deeply several times.

Whatever the medical procedure he had undergone, it had obviously sapped his strength, as well as body weight as Doc looked like a cadaver. The suit he had worn when he first arrived at Hogwarts hung over his frame limp and loose. Doc's normally beige skin was now as yellow as old parchment paper. While he hadn't been exactly fat, Doc hadn't been thin as a rail either, but now Harry could painfully make out the bones in Doc's body. His face was so thin it could have been a skull.

Doc's eyes opened, and Harry could see that they were blood-shot, and set so deep into the cavities that they may as well have not existed. Hermione asked the question that was on everyone's mind as to why Doc was with them and not in the hospital: "Doc, aren't you supposed to be…"

The eyes turned to Hermione, and remarked, "No, but I told the bonesaws that I would be going to get medical assistance during the debriefing by the Magical Justice Department when I got back so it wouldn't matter." Doc shrugged, and held up his hands. As he did so the sleeves of his shirt slunk down, and Harry saw the ugly marks where Nev had had to insert a catheter so that they could pump an IV into him so that Doc could stay alive. Harry saw in his mind the chips of wood and stone flying in the air, rounds both bullet and magic hitting the furniture they were using as cover.

Once again the door swung open, and this time Harry looked up to see Ginny, her dark red hair pulled back in a French braid, and wearing a dark green skirt that ended just below her knees, pumps, stocking, and matching blouse. Around her neck she wore the locket that she had received over Christmas. She had stowed her trunk earlier, and the suitcase that carried her muggle clothes that she now wore as they transited the train station was in her hand. This she set on the ground and shoved into a corner. Doc started to rise, but she waved him down.

Ron, his arm around Hermione's shoulders and obviously wanting to change the subject to something besides the war and indirectly the deaths of Sirius and Alex, asked his sister, "Where'd you disappeared off to last night?" Ginny looked at her brother in the eyes and responded, "I had to send a few letters and howlers to Mum, Dad, the twins, Bill, and Charlie."

"What? Why?" Ron looked at her quizzically. Harry leaned back against the window, putting on an image of casual, friendly interest. To his friends, he had shown up back at the common sometime in the wee hours of the morning, slightly drunk, but nonetheless somewhat sobered up by the rain and damp at the same time. What they didn't know though was that Ginny had comforted him, held him in the shallow part of the lake as he sobbed and sobbed until he could sob no more, and when he had tried to say how thought he didn't believe he should be alive while so many others lived, she had only brought him closer, hugged him closer, and cried with him. That night, as the rain pounded, and the thunder roared, Harry had made a decision, asked Ginny about it in his intoxicated state, and both agreed to it.

Considering he damn near had alcohol poisoning, that said something of his stamina…Or luck

Ginny looked at her brother, and smiled slowly, "A girl has to let her parents and brothers know that she's bringing home a boy she loves rather dearly home shouldn't she?" Doc laughed as Ron bolted straight up and demanded, "What! What about me?"

"What about you, Ronald?"

Ron sputtered, but was hushed by Hermione. Hermione looked over at Ginny, smiled, and asked, "I believe your brother actually meant to ask just whom this might be?"

Doc chimed in, "Wait one. Check this out first." He reached over to his backpack, which he had tossed on top of his luggage, and removed his CD player, which Moody had recovered from the carriage and given back to him while he was still bed-ridden. Taking out his wand, Doc tapped it twice and soft notes of guitar started to play. Everyone stopped and listened as the song started, It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart

"A buddy of mine took a time turner and recorded this song. He said his girlfriend loves it…and is gonna buy it on the muggle market when it comes out." Doc was grinning, and ignoring the look of horror Hermione was giving him. Smirking, he explained that when he went back he was going to destroy the scroll, and stay tuned for the next couple of years for Allison Krause. Harry smiled and listened. The music was enchanting to say the least…

Harry felt his breathing slow, as the words hit him. 'Live, Harry' the words his uncle had spoken to him, the memories that he had…He turned towards Ginny, and she looked at him, and smiled. Inside he felt…Harry his blood flow, his breathing constrict, and the muscles in his chest tighten. Over the course of the year, a year of pain and misery and death, she had been there for him. She had been there before, too, only he hadn't seen it.

And what have I done in return, Harry mused. He had kept the one thing, not the training, not the sheer anger and stubbornness, the one thing that he had hidden in the deepest most recessed part of his brain so that the bastards couldn't find it, the one thing he had tried to hide from Voldemort, only to discover that all it had done was cause her grief, and keep his friends and family, for indeed that was what the Weasleys and his comrades were, in the dark…

Harry made a snap decision then and there…

And you say it best…when you say nothing at all.

Turning towards Ginny, he grinned, and said to her, "Why don't you introduce us to this special someone, eh Gin?" Her eyebrows arched delightfully, as she must have caught on to the game he was playing. "Should I, Harry?" She asked. Harry smiled, and nodded. Ron was turning red by now, as he looked over at his sister, and nodded his head. "Yes, Ginny, do show him to us." She smirked at her brother, "Give me a moment then, so I can go get him." Ginny moved towards the door, but Harry slid in front of it blocking it off. The grin on his face went from one end of his face to the other. He looked down at Ginny, who looked back with an equally delighted grin.

"No need to go anywhere, Gin…" Whatever else he was going say stopped, for as Harry leaned to kiss her forehead, Ginny had thrown her arms around his neck and brought his face down to hers. Harry felt the soft suppleness of her lips, and lost him for a moment before he gently broke away as he felt Ginny turning around. Resting his arms around her waist, he breathed in her lavender scent, and looked at the faces in the compartment. Everyone, with the exception of Doc (who was grinning like the Cheshire Cat), were wide-mouthed in amazement.

Hermione got her wits together the quickest, and asked, "Since when?"

Ginny answered, "Since Colin cheated on me." Harry looked over at Ron; of all of the reactions he feared, he feared Ron's.

Ron, though, kept his face expressionless. Hermione asked, as she quickly grasped the situation, "Why'd both of you hide it?"

Harry, his right hand gently stroking Ginny's hair, explained, "All of you know the job I had. You and Ron were already targets because of you are my friends, but it would have been double worse for any woman I saw, much less…" Harry paused, held Ginny tighter, felt her tighten her arms around his, and answered softly, "Much less the one woman whom I love more then anything in the world, Hermione," fixing his eyes on his best friend, "Ron."

Ron then did something Harry hadn't expected: he laughed. Now it was the turn for Harry and Ginny to stare, along with everyone else. Gently untangling himself from Hermione, he went over to his best friend, and looked him in the eye. Harry looked back, both sides just staring at each other. Doc's music stopped, and the only noise was the clicking of the rails, everyone in the compartment holding their breath.

Then the tension broke as Ron laughed anew, and slapped his best mate on the back. "Good, better you then any of the other bastards out there." He held out his hand, and said, "Treat her well, and we won't have any problems. Clear?" Harry grinned, both because the situation was unfolding far from the worst he could imagine (i.e. Ron throwing a classic fit and trying to kill him), and also

"Crystal" and he shook Ron's hand.

Everyone relaxed and Harry laughed. Inside he had the same drained feeling he had after a fight, the tension and fear, fear that he would be losing the best friend he had, was going away, making him feel giddy and light-headed and sick all at the same time. Harry took a deep breath, smiled. "Well, guess the hard part's over."

Now it was Ginny's turn to laugh, and Harry felt her laugh the laugh he loved so well. She turned around in his arms and faced him, her face smirking in amusement. Harry raised an eyebrow in question, her hands running up and down his arms. Ginny answered, "I forgot to mention something last night, Harry dear." Her tone was light with amusement.

"Oh, and what would that be?"

"That when I told you I was going to tell my family about you, I didn't mention one detail…"

"Go on, Gin…"

Her eyes had a glint to them that Harry had only seen when they were doing something that could have gotten them caught. It brought a fiery glint to her brown eyes, and Harry felt his pulse quicken. Ginny smiled, and answered, "I didn't mention the fact that not only will Mum and Dad be present at the station, but so will my brothers."

Harry felt a cold leaden feeling in the pit of his stomach now.

"All of them?" Despite his best efforts, Harry thought he heard his voice quiver and crack. There was slight pressure, Harry could feel, on his bladder; for he had thought he would have some time between the station and the Burrow before the whole clan found out…

Ginny nodded, obviously amused by his discomfort.

Harry suddenly felt the need to go to the bathroom.

The atmosphere around Platform Nine and Three Quarters was tense, on edge. Due to various by-laws enacted over the years, Goblin mercenaries were prohibited from entering London. The only exception to that rule had been a rotating detachment which secured the Ministry of Magic with the Aurors, though that had been removed by Fudge, and then hurriedly reinstated the day following the firefight within the Department of Mysteries.

Nonetheless, the platform was swarming with members from the Ministry. Wizard and witch parents nervously fingered their wands, whilst around them a skirmish line of Aurors and Hit Wizards kept a watchful eye. Magical sensors were emplaced throughout the station, coupled with roving four wizard patrols. Overhead, mounted on brooms with invisibility cloaks, more personnel maintained aerial surveillance along the route of the train. Command and control operated out of a small office located in the back of gift shop within King's Cross Station. That, in turn, was connected to a command center that Amelia Bones had put together on short notice using space within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. While the days following the attack within the Department of Mysteries had been quiet, no one was taking any chances, and Bones, with support from Dumbledore and senior members of the Wizengamot, to issue a recall order for all retired and former wizards and witches who had been part of the Ministry in the first war. Fudge had been hesitant, but had knuckled under.

One of the few wizards who had received an owl from the Ministry with a letter that started 'The Ministry of Magic hereby recalls…to Active Service on…' and didn't view said letter with disgust took a swig out of a silver flask and put it back into a trench coat pocket. Overcast conditions, coupled with a fifty five percent chance of rain had given him just the reason to wear a trench coat…and a Kevlar vest underneath with ceramic inserts that could stop a blade and projectile weapons up to 7.62 mm NATO. Beside him were Arthur and Molly Weasley, together with the twins, Bill and Charlie.

Molly glanced at the sky, and wondered how long before it would rain. Beside her Arthur tapped his umbrella in a steady rhythm, while the boys talked about the mail all of them had received the night before. Around midnight all had received school owls from Hogwarts, each carrying a short message saying that Ginny was returning to Hogwarts, and that they should all be present. While Arthur and Molly had been planning on arriving at the station previously both to pick up their own children and to check on Harry, but Ginny's letter had left them curious indeed. Ginny had told them that they were returning tomorrow, and while she knew that her mother and father would be there, she asked that her brothers be there as well. She had explained that she wanted them all to meet her boyfriend, whom she stated would be the last one she would ever need. Ginny stated that she had finally found the one, one quite unlike Colin.

Arthur and Molly had heard all about Colin from her brothers, and were naturally curious to see who this new fellow was. Ginny's brothers, upon reading the letters that they had received, were even more curious.

It was why Bill, Charlie, Fred and George were huddled together discussing just how thoroughly they were going to make sure Ginny's latest wasn't a cheating tosser like Colin. Arthur and Molly looked at their boys in shock, Molly scowling in particular, after they overheard Charlie discussing one particularly vigorous questioning style that involved Hungarian Horn-Tails. "You had better not hurt this boy, Charlie or so help me…" Molly shook her head and the boys hurriedly nodded their ascent. Fred quipped though, "We won't hurt him, mum."

George whispered to his brothers, "Much". They continued to nod, stopping only as the whistle sounded from the train.

Molly turned towards her husband and shook her head. "I swear, Arthur, they only get worse as they grow older." Arthur couldn't help but agree as he looked into the distance. Yet, truth be told, he was as curious as the boys as to who this young man was. Arthur glanced over at his wife, and a tiny bit of nostalgia went over him as he thought about him and his wife. The two had been close since…He scratched his head, as he couldn't really remember a time when it hadn't been the two of them. What he did remember was the time her brothers, the twins Gideon and Fabian had found out. Arthur chuckled, remembering how they had scared him brutal, and then wished him the best once he had passed their muster.

His attentions were brought back to the present as heard Molly ask Moody, "Have you heard anything about how Harry is taking everything?" Moody continued to look at the approaching train as he answered. "He's taking it quiet, bottling everything inside…" He shrugged, "It'll only be a matter of time before he either opens up and deals with it that way or he'll fall apart. Neither of which is in our hands, only his." The train slowly came to a stop as he concluded, with the Molly and Arthur have to agree glumly, that all they could do was try to provide him a source of support in the times ahead.

As the train rolled to a stop, the Weasleys and Moody saw that one student was standing in the doorway of one of the passenger cars. Dark hair, black muggle suit, black hair that despite a recent haircut looked like it was still unruly, and a lithe, thin frame, one that unmistakably bore Harry's features. Standing the way they were behind one of the station pillars, with a bevy of Aurors standing guard at intervals throughout the platform, Moody and the others were able to watch him without being seen. Molly made a move towards him, but stopped as Harry stepped out, looked around, and then someone behind him put hands over his eyes. They watched as while Harry's initial expression had been almost expressionless, perhaps a bit apprehensive with a touch of fear judging by how his eyes had roamed the station, it was transformed. First there was surprise, and then the corners of Harry's mouth moved upwards, and they heard him laugh, and step back, up and around. His back was to them now, but Molly could make out a pair of arms around his shoulders, bringing him closer. She knew what Harry was doing and glancing over at her husband (whose face was as surprised as she was) was about to say something when Arthur's eyes widened even more, and then said, his face full of consternation and amusement at the same time, "Well I'll be…". Molly looked over and saw the cause.

Harry had stepped back, the girl with whom he was kissing in his arms. Stepping on to the platform backwards, and without falling down, he twirled her around, the girl (no, Molly corrected herself, young woman) laughing as Harry set her down on the platform, and hugged her close. Harry leaned in, kissed her once more on the lips, and was kissing his way up to the top of her head when Ron stuck his head out and yelled, "OI!" Harry didn't look up, only held up a hand and raised two fingers. Ron only shook his head, and got back in.

Molly recognized the girl in Harry's arms, the one who looked at her with the same expression she saw on Arthur's face before he left for work, and came back at night. It was the same look he had first given her when they had met on the Hogwarts Express so many years ago. The girl in Harry's arms whom it was obvious he so adored she knew quite well. After all, she had carried her for nine long months, and watched her grow…Ginny.

She looked over at her husband, who recognized all of the signs. He looked over at her, smiled warmly, and said, "You remember the first time I introduced to my parents when we were together?" Molly laughed, "Do you remember the first time I introduced you to my brothers?" Arthur laughed and said, "Shall we my dear?" He held out his hand, and Molly took it, linked it through one of her arms, and together they walked forward.

Harry kissed Ginny one more time when he heard footsteps behind him. "Potter…" It was cold voice, one he really couldn't place. Slowly, he turned to face Ginny's brothers. Charlie was in black business kit, standard Ministry issue down to the black trench coat and shades he had in his pocket. The twins and Bill were dressed up in denim and leather, looking for all like a trio of football hooligans. All, though, wore blank expressions, and Harry felt a ball of fear in his stomach.

Ginny, though, was made of sterner stuff. Holding on to Harry's hand, she held her head high and looked as though she was going to say something when, "Ginny! Ron!" It was Mrs. Weasley, who hurried over and embraced Ginny and Ron, who had stepped off the train behind the couple. She let go, and turned to Harry, a smile on her face. "Hello Harry." Arthur Weasly followed right behind her, and looked at him smiling. "Harry, I have only thing I can really do about this sudden surprise." Harry kept his face straight, fearing what was going to happen next.

Mr. Weasley went up to him, and embraced him. Harry was surprised, but went along with it.

The eldest Weasley broke off, and looked at him in the eyes. Arthur smiled, and said, "I trust you won't be like the last boy, Ginny brought home will you? Molly, the boys and I would hate to be disappointed with someone whom we consider one of our own?" Harry nodded. Arthur's smile only grew, "In that case…"

Molly stopped him when she went over to Harry and hugged him tightly. Harry didn't know what came over him next, but he started to sob. After the previous night, he didn't think he had anything left in him, but this was too much. Here was family, the closest thing he had to it at any rate, yet still…

"Shh…It's all right Harry." Molly held him, letting go as Ginny switched with her. Harry sobbed for a moment or two, and then his training, the steel that was Alex's legacy in the short time he had cared for him, kicked in.

Taking a couple of deep, sobbing breaths, Harry wiped his eyes and looked at his friends, his family. None looked at him with pity, only concern. He forced himself to grin, "Can't keep the Dursley's waiting now can I?" Arthur coughed, and replied, "Speaking of which…" Lupin and Moody, who had been watching from the side, came up. Moody, eyeball swiveling, came up to him and spoke gruffly, "In case no one's told you, you'll only be staying there for a month, maybe less. After that, we'll get you out." Lupin gently placed a hand on his shoulder, looked as though he would say something, but only smiled sadly and squeezed Harry's shoulder. Harry nodded, and with Ginny holding on to his hand, and his other dragging behind his lone suitcase (Moody had earlier that morning had luggage transported by Goblin to the students' permanent addresses, the point being to limit the potential for a bomb or worse to be on board the Hogwarts Express; students with owls had been ordered to send their owls ahead with the cages transported by the Ministry with their unaccompanied baggage), Harry walked forward and through the wall.

His timing was perfect, as the station was bustling with activity and nobody noticed the two of them as they exited into the station. Right outside Harry and Ginny waited patiently. Though he wasn't sure, he guessed that Moody had scattered Aurors and other wizards in plain clothes as an additional layer of security. That he figured for Harry had recognized the pink-haired form of Tonks, who was dressed in blue jeans, leather jacket, and an AC/DC T-shirt. Harry also noticed a larger number of uniformed Bobbies, which could only mean that someone had gotten Fudge to go ahead and alert the muggle authorities to the dangers ahead. Shortly thereafter, the others joined them where Neville and Katrina said goodbye to them, as Ramius and Snape had sent his daughter to stay with the Longbottoms for the summer, for both would be working for the Order following the attack on the Ministry. Grandmother Longbottom arrived as they did, prim and proper as always, and hurried them along.

"Oi!" Looking to his left, Harry found himself in the bear-like embrace of Dudley Dursley. Duds pulled back and asked, "You doing all right, mate?" He nodded, and proceeded to introduce him to the others. While polite, the Weasleys remembered him from the previous visit they had had before Harry's fourth year. Dudley, dressed in blue jeans, England rugby shirt, and denim jacket, shyly greeted them and then took Harry's suitcase. He asked Harry, "You ready? I got a lift outside waiting." Nodding, Harry, with Ginny by his side, walked through the crowds of people to the entrance to the station. On the way he asked him why the heavy police presence, and Dudley shrugged, saying that the telly reported a possible terrorist attack in the UK on the rails and on the tube. Harry nodded along, as he had been briefed that one of the Ministry's protocols from the previous war involved using the cover of a muggle terrorist attack to facilitate cooperation between the two governments. Still walking, he asked, "You know what happened to Alex?" Dudley looked away for a moment, and then nodded. While he hadn't been there when Harry and Moody had delivered the news to Linda, he had arrived the next day when his school term ended. Since then he had been helping Linda around the house, and pretty much trying to keep himself from thinking too much over the loss.

"When's she due?" Ginny asked.

"About a month, maybe less."

Trying to lighten the mood, and to change the subject, Dudley then began telling Harry he had enrolled as a cadet with an OTC unit at the junior level. Despite being several years away, he had been cracking the books, and cracking the gym as he had his mind set on the Army from then on out. "Any idea what you want?" Harry asked.

Dudley shook his head, "Still a longs way off. Keep my options open, eh?"

Outside they were walking to the waiting black cab when they heard someone shout, "Oi, ye bastards!" They turned, for the shout had come from the line of coaches behind their cab. Before them, smoking a cigarette and grinning, was Tom Courtenay. Next to Tom were the others that had taught the both of them all they knew. Ghost, Fletcher, Rooney. All of them had their weapons slung, bergens at their feet. It was quite obvious that they had just returned from deployment.

"Right then, quite mucking about and load up now." Courtenay and his mates began moving as the voice of Nev's uncle was heard over the traffic. Longbottom stepped out of one of the coaches, and gave a friendly wave as he, like any good sergeant, got his platoon moving and on the coaches. A few stopped to wave, and Harry saw a few windows get lowered as waves were sent his way.

Stepping up to the taxi, Dudley took his luggage and started loading it. Harry shook hands with Arthur, received hugs from Molly and Hermione, and said his goodbyes to the rest. Arthur assured him, "We'll get you out as quick as we can, Harry. Have no doubts of that."

Harry smiled, "I never did, and never will."

Finally, as the Weasley clan, the lads of 2/B/2 Para, and Hermione and Dudley looked on, he turned to Ginny. Ginny smiled up at him, and asked, "Owl me often?"

"Often" Harry promised as he hugged her. Tempted to kiss her one last time, he leaned forward to giver her a quick peck on the forehead. After all, he didn't want to do anything improper in front of her parents after all…

This time, though, it was Ginny's turn to steal a kiss as she twisted her head upwards, and caught him on the lips. Harry held her, and molded his lips to hers as he heard Tom shout out, "Well Done, lad!" He pulled away, and held her close. As he did so he let himself be comforted, and took a look around. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were holding hands, smiling gently. Gin's brothers were glaring daggers, yet also smiling and nodding their heads in approval. Dudley was leaning against the side of the taxi, a smirk on his face while the men of 2nd Platoon cheered him on, one of their own.

Flicking his eyes to the sky, Harry's thought of his life, the year in an instant. Bawdy, debauched, bloody, violent, a bit depraved even…yet passionate, loving, and so much more that couldn't be put into words.

The war may have started, casualties taken, but there was always tomorrow, a new day, and like the previous year, what would come would occur in its own due time.

Thousands of miles away, under a new moon, in the depths of a steam jungle, a man ran. Splashing over rivers, feeling the rain pouring over him, he didn't know where he was going, yet he still pushed on. His thoughts were a jumbled mess. In the depths of his mind, he thought himself insane, yet only a sane man could think himself insane could he not? Images of gun fire, monstrous spiders black as night, a pale wizened old man smiling at him much like the spiders.

With every step the man could feel himself feeling his age, yet what was it? Had the years that he thought had passed really passed? Was this all a hallucination? Was it…

He stopped thinking. Alone, cut off, running from an enemy that may or may not be looking for him, an environment at the end of the world…He had done it before, when he had been so, so young…

Balling his hands into fists, ignoring the pain in every joint and piece of flesh on him, the boots on his feet falling apart, he kept going. Whatever happened, he was going to make it back to civilization, and then back to England. Even if the road he had to take was through Hell…For no hell could be as bad as the existence of sorts he had endured for only God knew how long.

With a vow to lover, and their children, he moved on, the water hitting the treetops of the triple-canopy.

The End

Note: About another month or so I'll have the sequel out, so stay tuned. And thanks to all who have read this over the years.