A/N: Please note: I like Harry. I like Ron. I like Hermione. In fact, there are very few members of the entire cast (both from the books and the movies) that I don't like, and of which I believe Peter from the movie is my only real peeve (Bleugh!). I like Severus (good, evil, snarky, cruel...don't care which, he's such a good character to sink your teeth into when you want to write), I like Draco (snooty, abrasive, arrogant and still green to the ways of the world).
I am very fond of the whole Harry-Ron-Hermione friendship dynamic, and I will be keeping them as friends, friends who sometimes fight, sometimes fall out, but who will back you in a tight moment, and who will be there anyway.
So, to those readers who believe that in a story with slash/yaoi/shonen-ai the female character should be villainised, please, please, go away now.
Edit: I am never, ever, ever, going to use 'Mollywobbles' in a sentence in this story. --shudder-- That's just wrong, on so many levels.
(Wherever you go)
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,
May 28th, 1998.
"...so then I was saying..." Ron Weasley trailed off and nudged the black-haired boy sitting beside him, his eyes gazing unfocused out of a nearby window. "Oi, Harry, watch it mate. Binns may be boring as an old sock but at least pay attention when someone's talking to you."
Harry Potter, and Ron's best friend, blinked and turned his attention back to the book in front of him, sighing with boredom. "Sorry Ron," he said softly, "I didn't get much sleep last night, so I'm not quite with it all yet."
Ron frowned, his blue eyes showing worry. "You didn't, y'know, have any more..." he glanced about furtively, "dreams?"
Harry shook his head. "No, none like that. At least...not since a few days ago." Harry rubbed his forehead and contemplated resting his head on his crossed forearms, or whether or not Binns would notice his blatantly sleeping through his class.
"Oh. Okay then," Ron said, smiling with what looked like relief, and maybe a bit of concern. Not that Ron would say anything, for which Harry was grateful. Ron at least was a typical boy, not one to really mention feelings. Hermione on the other hand wouldn't have let things drop.
It was getting harder to act normal though. Harry figured he ought to be grateful for the fact that he hadn't had any Voldemort-related visions in a while, not since his other dreams had started. Sometimes though, especially after he just woke up, he wondered whether or not he was better off, or worse.
With Voldemort he knew what and who he was fighting...but when he dreamt of himself night after night after night...well then, how could he possibly keep calm? How, when he was constantly fighting himself? How could he keep his emotional defences in shape?
He'd started dreading looking in the mirror each morning when he was dressing. The flat green-eyed stare he could see getting emptier and duller each day contrasted so vividly with the glowing acid-green eyes of the faux-Harry in his dreams, the other Harry, the one who loved death and destruction and all things terrible and cruel.
The faux-Harry that he was afraid he was turning into.
In the middle of the night, with the blackness pressing into him from all sides, smothering his courage, Harry wondered, what if all he was seeing was who he really was?
"Hey, Harry," Ron sounded uncertain, and Harry turned his head to stare evenly at him, "you know how 'Mione is always saying that we have to be more aware of things that happen around us?"
Harry nodded in bewilderment, desperately dragging his mind from it's mired tracks and into a level of normality approximating Ron's.
"Well, I was wondering..." Ron paused, and Harry resisted the urge to let his head drop back to the table, "'Mione is very...I don't know, sorta vague I suppose, but she's been giving me weird looks for a while, and I've been getting a sort of shaky feeling in my legs when she's around."
Ron glanced down towards Harry, his face both confused and annoyed. "Do you think she's been," he lowered his voice to just below a whisper, and Harry had to crane his neck to catch the words, "practicing her homework on me?"
Harry groaned and had the sudden overwhelming need to hit Ron with a hammer...even if it was only a foam one. "No Ron," he said with an exasperated sigh, "I don't think Hermione has been using you in a nefarious scheme to up her score marks by using you as a test dummy."
"Eh? I'm not dumb." Ron looked offended.
"To practice on, I mean." Harry clarified, belatedly realising Ron wouldn't get the 'test dummy' remark. Or at least it's entire significance.
"Oh." Ron nodded. "Okay. But why do I feel so weird around her then?"
Harry moaned and covered his head with his hands. "Oh Ron. I can't believe you just asked that!"
"What?" Ron looked unamused. "What did I say?"
Harry snickered and peeked through his hands, his green eyes alight with mirth. "God Ron, don't ever change. Don't ever, ever change," he said, laughing quietly.
Ron sighed and slouched further down in his chair.
After class Harry slowed down, letting the others, minus Ron, race past to the Great Hall and their lunches.
"Harry, you sure you're alright?" Ron was walking beside him in his usual pose, hands in his pockets, shoulders slouched to de-emphasise his height, the longish red hair brushing against his eyes only slightly neater than Harry's trademark messy hair.
Harry shrugged. "Dunno really. I mean," he paused, obviously thinking about what he was trying to say, "I haven't been getting weird dreams of Voldemort," he ignored Ron's slight wince, "so things should be looking better, right?"
Ron scratched the back of his head and dropped his hand onto Harry's shoulder, making him pause and stop where he was. The both of them stood in the hallway as the noise gradually decreased and the long corridor emptied.
"Harry," Ron started, his tone more serious than Harry'd heard in a long time, "I know you've been avoiding the topic for a while now. I mean, I'd have to be dumb not to notice your sudden trips to the common room at night! I know you've not been dreaming of...Him, but you've still been having trouble sleeping, or nightmares or...well...something!"
Harry looked away.
"I'll tell 'Mione." Ron warned him.
"About what?" Harry snorted. "So I've been having nightmares? Big deal. So what? They're not life-threatening, right? So there isn't a problem."
"Oh no you don't." Ron's grip tightened and Harry hissed in sudden pain. Ron let go and looked apologetic, but still determined. "Look, mate, we've been friends for a heck of a long time, even before 'Mione, and I sure as hell know when something's seriously wrong with my best friend. Now spill it."
"Why? What are going to do if I don't? Fall out with me? Drag me to Dumbledore? Oh, I know, you and Hermione are going to go gossip about how you can get me to spill my private thoughts and guts out for everyone to gawk at, right? No thanks." Harry push away from Ron and stalked away down the corridor, the opposite direction from the hall.
Ron kicked the wall. "Shit."
Harry waited until he was around a corner and out of sight before sagging tiredly against the closest wall, sliding to sit down with his knees tucked against his chest and his arms wrapped protectively around his knees. Harry rested his cheek against his knees, his glasses pushing awkwardly against the bridge of his nose from the light pressure.
"Shit!" Harry swore quietly but emphatically to himself. There had been no good reason for his outburst, and now he was feeling guilty at his loss of temper. For an instant Harry had felt utterly helpless at the recollection of his dreams, but even that was no excuse. Ron had been a good friend, and had been doing what any good friend would do.
*Great going idiot,* Harry scolded himself, *way to isolate yourself even further. What happens if something happens and you could have done something about it by talking to somebody?*
A few minutes passed in silence, before Harry reluctantly stood, brushed off his trousers and slung his bag over his shoulder.
"Hey Harry," greeted Hermione, "took you long enough to get here."
"Sorry." Harry looked down at his feet as he slid into his seat. When he looked up to fill his plate, he noticed something odd. Ron was nowhere to be seen. "Where's Ron?"
Hermione shrugged. "He mumbled something and said he was going to be busy. Took a pile of those pasties and left." She gave him a closer look. "Did you two fight?"
"What? No, 'course not."
Noting that she didn't look like she believed him, Harry quickly changed the subject. He'd try and make things up to Ron later, before Hermione found out.
The room was silent, except for Yugi's laboured breaths.
Yami leant forward, resting his forehead against Yugi's. "Yugi. Oh by Ra...Yugi."
Yugi brought up a shaky hand, allowing himself the luxury of stroking Yami's cheek, before gravity overwhelmed his strength and his arm dropped bonelessly to the bed. "Missed...you."
Yami let out a sob. "I'm sorry, oh my aibou, I am so, so very sorry."
Yugi blinked, his face scrunching up in confusion. "Yami? Why?"
His eyes hardening, Yami muttered one word, "Waring."
Yugi shivered, closing his eyes. "Oh."
Madame Pomfrey discreetly waved her wand in a delicate and intricate pattern above both youths, scanning their vital signs and magical centres. "Severus," she whispered, "I do believe a few gentle healing potions, two nourishment potions and two strong doses of pepper-up will not be amiss."
Snape gave her a curt nod and silently strode to the far side of the chamber to fetch his supplies, obviously forgoing using his magic in an attempt to gain a few moments of relative privacy with which to steady himself. He did not like feeling this vulnerable to his emotions, and it had been many, many years since he had been this unbalanced.
It was unacceptable.
Snape discreetly drank one of his own designed potions, milder than a calming draught, it helped clear his mind without dulling his senses, allowing him to utilise his skills in Occlumency to completely and utterly control his emotions, reactions and help blank himself of everything he chose, so as to enable him to cope with his current situation to the best of his ability.
He brought the requested potions to Poppy, placing them within her reach on the brocade covering of the bed, ignoring the occupants of the bed as best as he was able.
Arthur rubbed his forehead tiredly, suddenly feeling far older than he actually was. He watched as the two interacted on the bed, the older of the two far more overprotective of the younger than he would have thought possible.
Yugi's eyes flickered shut, and Yami watched over him, stroking his head gently, whispering comfortingly in his ear.
An hour later Poppy sighed, seeing as there was no more she could do. She turned to Arthur, motioning to the doorway. Snape followed a moment later and closed the door behind him quietly.
"There's nothing more I can do," Poppy stated, "it's up to them now. I'll tell Albus what's happened, and I'll see what I can do about him getting a message to Molly about what has been going on. I'm sure she's probably frantic with worry."
Arthur slumped. "She's going to kill me," he moaned, "bloody hell, three days, I'm so dead."
Snape snorted. Arthur turned on him and snarled in a fair facsimile of the potions master. Poppy shook her head, "You boys," she sighed.
Harry walked around the grounds, taking advantage of this moment of peace. It was nice and very rare that he got to appreciate some time alone. It was in that lull of time after dinner, but before bed, when everyone took advantage of the evening to do their own thing.
With his Firebolt slung over his shoulder, Harry meandered around the school, skirting the edges of the Forbidden Forest, keeping his distance from the buildings. He tried to collect his thoughts, his mind wandering backwards and forwards, his stomach churning, trying to understand his dreams.
There was something extremely disturbing about dreaming of your own dark side. To Harry, it was as though he'd pulled out his inner Slytherin and embodied him with all his doubts, fears, hate, anger and frustration. Everything he didn't want to have to face up to in his everyday life, conveniently balled up and buried under anything and everything he could think of, ignoring those parts of himself which he refused to face.
There was also something innately terrifying about coming face-to-face with your own dark side, and right now Harry was absolutely terrified. Could anyone blame him? His entire life seemed to be one bad thing happening one after the other, horror after horror after horror.
First there was Voldemort, actually most of it was Voldemort. Even the Dursleys could be traced back to Voldemort. That wasn't to mean that the Dursleys were working for Voldemort in any way, it just meant that his time in the Dursley household could be traced back to the night he was placed on their doorstep courtesy of the murder of his parents by the evil wizard.
Not a lot truly belonged to Harry, and it seemed at times but even his very life belonged to the Wizarding World. Everything from his reputation (which more accurately was due to his mother), to his freedom, was held out of reach, like a toy taken from him and held above him by the elder child making him perform tricks in order to win the toy back.
People who knew Tom Riddle, like Albus Dumbledore, often remarked on how similar he was to the older, and now evil, man. They looked alike, had the same gifts like parseltongue, power, ability and charm. Although in Tom Riddle's case he used it to exploit people, whereas Harry used it to save people.
Sometimes though, sometimes, Harry wondered if they really were all that different.
Molly Weasley, matriarch of the Weasley clan, was sitting at the kitchen table nursing a warm cup of tea when a loud crack echoed sharply across the Burrow. She stood up just as the door opened and Arthur stepped inside, looking anxious.
"You! You!" Molly exclaimed, tears springing to her eyes.
Arthur stepped forward, enveloping his wife in his arms. "Molly, oh Merlin's beard, Mollykins, I am so, so, sorry," he breathed out remorsefully, "I-"
Molly leant back and slapped him, before grabbing Arthur in a fierce hug and a desperate kiss. "The clock was going haywire," she whispered, her voice trembling, "I didn't know where you were."
"Molly," Arthur began softly, "I need to talk to you."
Dumbledore's office was a chaotic jumble of magical menagerie and a mish-mash of obscure trinkets. Faint whirring, clicking and humming could be heard in the background, not loud enough to annoy those inside, but enough that there was never a complete silence in the large round chamber.
Severus Snape stood in front of the fireplace, the heat magically dampened so only light was thrown off. He held a glass of firewhiskey in one hand, his other resting on the thick, heavily carved mantle. Poppy Pomfrey sat in a comfortable chair before Dumbledore's desk, sipping a cup of tea.
There was a screech and Fawkes flew in through the window, alighting delicately atop his perch. Moments later, Dumbledore walked in.
"Ah, Severus, Poppy," he greeted.
Poppy returned the greeting, whilst Severus nodded shortly.
Dumbledore took the large wingbacked chair opposite Poppy, a favourite of his which was spelled to be extremely comfortable. He flicked his wand and conjured his usual tea set, letting it float mid-air as it poured itself and the teaspoon added sugar and the milk-jug poured itself to the Headmaster's liking. The cup bobbed almost comically through the air to Dumbledore's hand, not a single drop falling.
Albus took a sip. "Severus, Poppy, anything to share about our new acquaintances?" he asked.
Poppy heaved a great sigh, cradling her cup and staring at the milky liquid. "Oh Albus," she said softly, "those boys..."
Severus scowled, sweeping from the fireplace to sit in his usual chair. "Boys or not Albus, I have no intention of being anywhere near them in the foreseeable future."
Snape turned. "You saw them, but you had no reason to see into their minds. That one with the red eyes," Severus shuddered minutely, but still enough that Dumbledore caught the movement, "that...child, that child is not normal. Or human," he added after a pause.
"My dear boy," Dumbledore began, looking slightly put out, "I'm sure --"
"No!" Severus cut in bitingly, "No. You weren't there, you did not see what I saw, feel what I felt." His hand tightened on the mantelpiece, and Severus turned away, his voice monotone. "The smaller boy, he is no threat except in that he commands complete and utter loyalty from the other."
Severus laughed hollowly, and shook his head. "Except. How vague a term to convey such meaning. The other boy, if I did not know better I would say he had been spawned from darkness and evil. His mere presence is threatening, and his abilities are both unknown and partially beyond understanding. His mind, oh Morgana, his mind, it is not the mind of a sane human being."
"Severus!" Poppy exclaimed. "You are exaggerating!" The matron shook her head angrily, turning to face the headmaster. "Those boys are little darlings. You're projecting onto them, Severus." She said sternly.
Dumbledore sighed. "I see." He drew in a deep breath. "Ah well, I suppose I shall be unable to form an opinion until I have seen them and spoken to them myself."
Severus snorted, then downed his drink and placed the glass heavily on the wooden mantelpiece. "Good luck." He nodded tightly to Dumbledore and glared at Poppy. "I am retiring for the night. I'm sure Poppy can fill in what you wish to know. Goodnight," he said, although from the tone of his voice it may as well have been a curse.
Poppy watched him go in consternation. "That man," she grumbled mildly.
"So, Poppy, how are they doing?"
"The little one, Yugi, is slowly recovering, by the looks of things. We didn't stay longer than a few hours after he awoke, so I cannot say if he will relapse, unfortunately, we were, well, encouraged, to leave early by the other one, Yami. I believe he wanted to reconnect to Yugi, and vice versa."
"And your opinion of them?"
Poppy gave him a small smile. "Very attached to each other, that's the first thing you notice. Yugi wasn't awake for long, so I can't say more for him, but Yami. He's, well...I'd say he's wary, maybe a little bit cold? Arrogant in the way most teenage boys are, and, oh, I don't know, there's just something about him that makes you want to be more than what you are. If nothing else, he has a very powerful presence."
Dumbledore looked thoughtful, his lips pursed and his eyes unfocused. "Are they a danger, do you think?"
"No." Poppy shook her head. "Although I wouldn't suggest separating them or attempting to harm them. I suppose you could say that they will not be a danger unless provoked. I haven't managed to get the whole story of what happened at the Ministry and what I have managed to glean has been all over the place with conflicting views and some very confused workers."
"I would like to know what your views would be about placing them in a long-term ward at St Mungo's, just until the younger is completely healed." Dumbledore stated mildly.
"Would they go, you mean?" Poppy snorted and waggled a finger at the headmaster. "I don't believe the boys to be a danger, Albus, but I don't think they'll allow themselves to be carted all over the place when they are in, what they believe to be, a hostile environment! No, that won't do."
"What about bringing them here?"
Poppy gave a small laugh. "Same principle. Plus, I don't believe they should be forced to be around too many strangers. Yugi needs to heal, and he will not do so unless he and Yami both feel safe. Hogwarts will be nothing more that a large establishment about which they know nothing."
"Well," Dumbledore said with a sigh, pushing up his half-moon glasses and taking another sip of his tea, "I do believe I'm stumped."
"You know," Poppy started off thoughtfully, "if you really want to, you could always use one of the abandoned suites Hogwarts used to have available for visiting family."
"Perhaps," Dumbledore said, "although you do realise that none of them have been in use for well over two hundred years?"
Poppy shrugged. "It was just an idea."
Molly Weasley hummed cheerfully the next morning as she prepared breakfast in the brightly lit kitchen. It was a much simpler affair than usual, since all of her children were now away at school. The pot on the stove whistled a tune and Molly poured it out in two mugs and placed them on the table just as Arthur stumbled into the room, yawning widely.
"Morning," he said sleepily.
"Good morning dear," Molly returned, smiling fondly. She placed his breakfast in front of him, her smiling widening as she saw his face light up in delight. It was one of the many things she loved about him, how expressive he was. All of their children had inherited it to some degree, but it wasn't quite the same.
Gathering her own breakfast, Molly flicked her wand, allowing the magic out freely to tidy up as she ate opposite her husband, enjoying the gentle quiet and comfort.
When they were finished, and everything was cleared with another flick of her wand, Molly sat back down next to her husband and took his hand in hers. They had plenty of time before he needed to floo into work, as they always arose at the same time every day, and since neither of them had to worry about the time it used to take getting their children up and dressed, it meant that their free time each morning had increased significantly.
"Molly?" Arthur questioned, blinking a bit.
"I was thinking, about what you said when you got back." Molly sighed, looking away for a moment., When she turned back her eyes were full of warmth and understanding. "You know," she said finally, "I always did have a soft spot for strays."
Arthur's face lit up brilliantly.
They spent the day in bed, finding each other again, each reassuring the other, reaffirming their bond, their connection, and most of all, their love. Yami did it with gentle touches, and his constant presence, his arms wrapped around his lighter half, whispering words that would have sounded like gibberish to any listeners – not that there were any.
Yugi did it by smiling, and allowing the contact, reveling in the gentle touches that were so different from his torture at the hands of that...that...man. He did it by allowing his magic to touch Yami's own, allowing and encouraging his spirit to gently buffer Yami's own, greater presence, allowing him self to be wrapped up, physically and magically in Yami's spirit and flesh.
They weren't healed, but they had accepted that fact, knew it intimately and were prepared to work through it.
Neither of them mentioned Adrian, neither needed to, but they were both fully aware that consequences would eventually arise. They simply didn't care to worry about it now.
"Yami?" Yugi eventually asked.
"Are we going home?"
Yami opened his eyes and moved slightly from where he was laying alongside Yugi so he could look into Yugi's eyes. "Do you want to go home?"
"I...I don't know. I think, I want to keep helping these people, and I don't want to hold the actions of one man against the rest of them."
Yugi sighed. "I'm scared. A little. I almost lost myself, which would have hurt you. And, and it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't gotten involved with them, with these people."
"We are not bound, bright heart, to this land, or to these people. Should you wish to stay, we shall stay. Should you wish to leave, we will depart. None here will stop us, whether they wish it or not." Yami stated quietly.
"I don't want to be ruled by my fear." Yugi said eventually, biting his lip in worry afterwards.
"Then we shall take things as they come, and decide along our journey."
Yugi smiled, burrowing back into Yami's arms as his dark tightened his hold around him. "Agreed."
[Edited out the 'bold' error – 24-25-2009]