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Summery: Harry's choice in a dream might change everything...

Year: Sixth

A/N: This is the Epilogue. I took a different approach to it then my usual writing. I hope you like it.

Thanks to Kabla and Kateums51

The Path-


"They say Harry Potter was never embarrassed by his head injury caused by a muggle that almost killed him. He didn't speak of it, mind, but he was never embarrassed. When asked about it from Remus, he merely responded "he was a stranger." This meant nothing to everyone, except Harry, for who it meant everything." (The-Boy-Who-Lived Biography, Rick Evanes)

Harry was running, his feet pounding the path, cracking branches, smothering leaves, his breath pounding. Behind him, looming in a grand wake of darkness was something, or someone, chasing him with a thirst for his blood. The blood leaking from a crack on his head.

He had to get away, escape the thing chasing him, and get back...get back to the others. It was rearing over him, blocking out the bright light of the moon, threatening to engulf him any second if he didn't get away.

His sneaker slipped, his heart pounded loudly as he crashed into the forest floor, his face smacking the ground dully. He didn't rest though, he shoved himself up, and ran again, stumbling and slipping until he caught his breath. Behind him the creature screeched like a banshee at the awful unfairness of his escape.

"He never was much of a runner. He could fly like the wind, but when it came to running, he was like a chicken on ice. Maybe it was from his only sport being flying and arm strength, or maybe it was an inherited trait from some great ancestor, but whatever it was, he was always a lost cause to running. That is until he learned a strategy, or rather a lack of strategy. I guess, it's horrible to say, but we're lucky he was only running when he was chased." Ron Weasley, interview with the Daily Prophet.

Harry's head was whirling, the dull stinging in his head bothering him, but he pushed away from it. He had to get away, to survive. He didn't blame Snape for this creature chasing him, he figured whatever path he ran he would've met the creature anyway.

Then, suddenly, with a bit of a jolt, Harry's mind settled on a logical idea in the most illogical sense. Without a thought, he ran veered from the path, not too much though, and began to weave in and out of the trees, moving in unpredictable ways, chaotic ways, as Snape had said in playing chess. Chaos outruns logic.

Behind him the creature crashed and smacked into trees, trying to track his movements but finding no set pattern behind them all. Harry's breath turned raggedly as he weaved chaotic all over the place, making himself somewhat dizzy but hardly losing direction.

He was set, he was going to escape...he was determined too.

"They say Harry Potter changed during the summer of his fifth year. Some came to believe it was the raw loss of Sirius Black, others believed it to be the prophecy, but there were those select few who knew otherwise. They said he appeared unconscious with a head injury caused by a muggle robber, but awoke with a stubborn head set to determination. Rather foolishly or not. Some things, not even Harry could grow out, and that was his recklessness."The Final Great Warby Everett

On and on he ran, turning once and a while, grabbing his head from a sudden sharp pain in his head, until he finally managed to put a great distance between him in the creature.

He slowed down, cocking his head to the side, listening for the creature, but hearing nothing, beside a few eerie night sounds created by nocturnal creatures that could care less about Harry and the creature.

He reached up, feeling his head, and trying hard to make sense of how he came to that injury. He couldn't figure one out, but once or twice, in a flashing moment, he saw a man, who looked almost like a robber, bearing down on him.

Startled, he took a few steps backwards and suddenly, as if drawn by his retreating steps, the creature few forth, screeching and trying to set its unruly darkness upon him. Without a moment's hesitation, he ran forward.

Always forward.

"Harry kept up a reckless streak throughout all his years at Hogwarts and beyond; however, there was one time, in his last year at Hogwarts, when lost in the Forbidden Forest—he never did understand the concept of Forbidden—with Ron that they were chased by the unforgiving Centaurs into the thickening center of the woods, and lost to a measurable degree that would have Neville blushing. Then Harry turned to Ron and said, "Forward." That was all he said and that was all he did. He never backtracked, he only went forward, and they eventually made it out. Always going forward." Hermione Granger, The-Boy-Who-Lived Biography by Rick Evanes.

The creature seemed to be bobbing back and forth, attempting to rear down on him but having to pull up only a few seconds later. Harry didn't ponder this however, too set on getting away to think of much else.

Then, suddenly, he lost his footing again and toppled forward, banging forward into a tree and stumbling backwards. He landed on the ground; the wind knocked out of him, but wasn't too dazed not to see the creature rearing down on him, eagerly clawing forward to get at him with the darkness.

A hand grabbed Harry's flailing arm suddenly and tugged him up. Startled, he turned to look Severus Snape in the face, who dropped his hand without a thought.

"I can't return, Mr. Potter. Do try not to fail." With that he was gone, like a wisp of smoke in the wind. The creature screamed, startling Harry, who took off running. His mind was a whirl. Snape, Professor Severus Snape, the bane of Gryffindors, the sworn enemy of he, Harry Potter, had just saved him.

He turned into his chaotic running once again, his thoughts dancing a mile a minute.

"You always said I carried too many things when I was working on a potion. I guess I never believed you until I tripped over my own feet in the Entrance Hall. Every student in mile radius stopped dead at the sight. No one moved, not even my own Slytherins. They just stared, some hiding their glee, others worried. Then he appeared. Right out of nowhere and offered his hand. I was already revealed as a spy, so it didn't matter my association with him, but I was still reluctant to take it. He must've sensed this, because he smiled, dropped his hand and set to picking up my things instead. I guess that was the beginning, but sometimes I'm never too sure." Severus Snape, speaking to Albus Dumbledore on his Death Bed.

"Severus didn't trust many people, and I could never figure out why Potter, the Harry Potter, was on his list, but alas it was. It's my belief that it happened in the Entrance Hall, when Severus slipped and only Potter came to help him. I guess it doesn't matter, because in the end, it was that trust between the two that matter the most. I guess we should just be glad that it was there to begin with." Draco Malfoy, Ex-Death Eater turned Spy (following in Snape's footsteps) in The Woes of a Fraud Death Eater, an autobiography.

Harry slid to the left, stumbling slightly under the startling weight of the turn, and dashed behind a tree. Behind him the creature bellowed and he once again started his race through the chaos, no longer carrying if he stuck near the path or not. He had followed it to the most part, and it was more of his determination to be not be alone in the war that mattered anyway.

The harder he ran, the more chaotic his running became.

"He never did lose a game after that day he awoke in the hospital wing from the head injury. I was sure that with all my strategies I would always win, I was one of the best Gryffindor Quidditch Captains in a century, but when I played Harry in chess, I always lost. I had the strategies; he had nothing...nothing but chaos. I guess in the end, Harry's unpredictable moves where what saved us all, in and out of chess." Ron Weasley, The Unexpected of Harry Potterby Leo Tyler.

"Harry was a beckon for trouble. I felt it was my fault, for several years, that Harry had to live through all this. He never had a proper childhood and after fifth year he never did trust me the same way as before. However, he had allies, from all over, and they, like him, disagreed with me about it being my fault. I never believed it until he appeared in my office one day, unexpectedly, and said with so much emotion that I'm still sure to this day that his eyes gleamed ten times brighter than usual. "He'll eat you alive, Professor, if you blame yourself for something that you had no control over. And I doubt you'll look very handsome all chewed up." I knew he was referring to Tom, and with a smile, he left. To say I was stunned would be an understatement and I turned my attention to the desk, chuckling merrily. He really had matured over the fifth year summer; I guess it was just his chaotic strategies that called forth the dogs of hell to him." Albus Dumbledore, The-Boy-Who-Lived by Rick Evanes.

Behind him the creature roared, angry at the continuous escaping of its prey. Harry knew he had to do something soon, he couldn't just run forever. He didn't want to be trapped in the woods forever.

Cutting sideways, Harry hit a root and went toppling forward, head over heals, straight into the base of a large tree. His head swam with pain, coursing to and fro through his body.

Yet, he pulled himself up, pushed away the pain and ran.

"His tolerance for pain was undeniable; it was just his stupidly for not getting it dealt with when need be that was intolerable." Madam Pomfrey, speaking to Professor McGonagall.

"The one pain tolerance Harry was lacking was in his scar. I'll never forget the night in the Burrow, when I awoke to the uncontrollable, painful, screaming of Harry in Ron's room. He saved our lives by doing that, for we escaped quickly before Voldemort could attack, but I'll never forget the pain in that bellow. Never." Fred Weasley, Weasley's Don't all Have Red Hair by Ginny Weasley.

His heart was racing, pounding in his chest, drumming to a beat too fast to make a rhythm of running with.

He darted, to and fro, avoiding the creature and its chilling, engulfing darkness. His legs were starting to slack, his darting becoming less accurate and the darkness of the night thicker.

Haggard limbs of wicked trees shot out, grabbing and trying to mangle him, blood tore at his mouth then he smacked into a tree, and he flipped forward, once again, but this time he couldn't, didn't want to get back up.

Maybe this was his punishment for getting Sirius killed. His own death, in the woods of a dream, his real body in real life, probably slowly dieing with him.

He was the one who killed Sirius. Maybe this was what he deserved...

"Sometimes he was would fall and slip away, as all great people can do, but his slipping was more...dark. Yet, Hermione once told him, "Harry, you can't control everything nor blame yourself for everything. Let the world take its own once and a while." And those words made all the difference to Harry." Neville Longbottom, an interview with the Daily Prophet.

He had to live though, to survive and move on. Sirius would always be in his heart, but he couldn't die because of it. He had already decided that, with the first path he chose.

With a sucking breath, he propped himself up, and gingerly climbed to his feet and ran for his life, once again. Behind the creature swayed, screeching and hollering at his escape, buckling forward in a stronger stride to get him.

Harry's breath hitched, a stitch made its way up his side, and his legs turned to a humming numbness that startled even him. Yet, he pounded on. His feet crunching twigs and leaves, grinding them into crumbs as he swirled here and there, in attempt to get away.

Then, suddenly, before him, a large cliff loomed. He had run so far from the path, he was lost to how he reached the cliff, but he didn't care. He was determined to get away, and if that was by jumping off the cliff, then he would...

"I once asked him if he feared death, and he responded, 'Too die would be an awfully big adventure.' I never bothered asking when he read Peter Pan." Mad-Eye Moody, inThe-Boy-Who-Lived by Rick Evanes.

"I remember that conversation with Moody, Harry had, and I asked him if he felt any fear facing Voldemort. He said 'yes' and I asked what. 'Loss, the death of loved ones, the failure of the wizarding world...death'. I was startled and asked why he just said he didn't fear death and he smiled. 'Just death, but Death by Voldemort is something completely different.' I knew what he meant and realized he did indeed fear a form of death. The scariest form." Draco Malfoy, speaking to Severus Snape one night, and quoted in The Woes of a Fraud Death Eater.

Harry bit his tongue, and ran forward, thinking of everything he wanted to survive for. Unconsciously his hand went to his forehead, his scar, as he ran. It didn't hurt, there was no Voldemort. There was no fear.

With a nod, stern and determining, he sped up while the creature hollered in outrage, and he leapt.

He was soaring, flying without a broom for the briefest of moments, and then he was plunging. His fear was set aside, his scar was fine, Voldemort wasn't involved, and this was a leap of chance.

He looked to the sky of twinkling stars, searching for the Sirius star, which was for him, glinting the brightest. Suddenly, he hit the ground; his knees buckling out, his souls stinging, and he tumbled forward in a series of summersaults before he came to a stop, his eyes closed tight.

"There's a picture of Harry, standing in the Defense Against the Dark Arts Corridor of Hogwarts, a corridor over from Voldemort, who was invading Hogwarts. He had one arm resting against the wall, his eyes were closed tight, and his cupping his forehead in his other hand. The picture was taken by Collin Creevy and was supposedly symbolized in the passing years as a picture of him gathering his determination, his courage, and his undying fear of Voldemort. It was a symbol of pride among the Wizarding World.

The Wizarding World was wrong. That picture was of a boy, scared and unwilling, but knowing he was doomed to face Voldemort. A picture of a boy, holding the pain in his scar, knowing this could be the end. A picture of a boy about to lose his innocence. It was the farthest thing from a symbol of pride I have ever seen, but alas that was the wizarding world." Remus Lupin, Severus Snape, Arthur Weasley, the three biggest influences in Harry's life, in The-Boy-Who-Lived, by Rick Evanes.

"Harry!" a chorus of voices broke out and he opened his eyes to find himself in the dazzling light of the Hospital Wing, surrounded by friends.

"He once told me that it was my fault that everything in his fifth year summer happened, and then he explained the dream. I guess he was right." Severus Snape

The End.

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