Disclaimer: I wish I owned them, but alas I don't.
Warning: Not a happy tale, some bad things. You have been warned.
He Realized—by. Howl
Harry walked the corridors of Hogwarts at a slow pace, allowing the cool breeze of the night to absorb into his winter-robes with silky hisses. It was peaceful; then again night in Hogwarts corridors was always peaceful. Why did the professors insist that it was dangerous? It was calm, lazy, peaceful.
Digging his hands into his pockets, he merely allowed the invisibility cloak to hand limply off his shoulders, ready at a seconds notice to tug it back up in case of another intruder in the peacefulness of the corridor. Ron had seen him taking the cloak, and smirked grandly, saying that he should take some time off from everything and have a bit of fun.
Yes, Harry sighed, that's what Ron thought I did. Travel through the corridors just to be a copycat of the twins. It was understandable, because he often did just that, but a lot of the times he just took wandering the corridors with a tugging tranquility away from the life that was to be called his own. If it could be called a life. Being ruled by a prophecy.
Portraits snorted and scoffed at his floating head as he walked down the corridor, many warning him to put it up, while others tried to critique him in proper elegance of wearing such a wonderful cloak. Harry ignored them all. Those he did acknowledge the few that he knew would run off to tell other portraits thus leading to be overheard by a professor. By acknowledging him, they usually became quieter in their gossip.
Merlin did Harry know this school too well. It was the winter of his sixth year, supposedly on of his best years, but it didn't feel like it. He had finally told Ron and Hermione about the prophecy and both had taken two different tactics to easing his mind. Harry preferred Ron's the best, for it was all tricks, quidditch, and wizard's chess. Hermione was all study, books, and 'I'm sure this line doesn't mean what we think it means.'
Snapped out of his thoughts by a meowing noise, he looked up in time to see Mrs. Norris sitting at the end of the corridor, wagging her tail back and forth casually, an accusing look firmly implanted upon her furry face. Harry raised a daring eyebrow at the cat, just daring her to fetch her master, and seemingly the cat took him up on his dare for in the next second she had whisked off.
Sighing, Harry looked around to gather his bearings. Ron would be appalled to hear that he wasn't even worried about the cat that could bring the devil's fool in the blink of an eye, while Hermione would question and prod him about 'what was wrong?'
Did she want to know what was wrong?! Harry thought in a mild roaring sensation as he located himself as being in front of the Room of Requirement. Without a thought he began to pace in front of the room, back, forth, back, forth, and back, forth. Three times.
Always three times.
Hermione assumed that it was Sirius's death that was the matter with him, while Ron and Ginny wondered if it was the falling out he had with Dumbledore. He knew the old wizard had had the best intentions but sometimes it was just so hard to accept that knowledge. So long he had waited and so many consequences had come from it.
But no it wasn't that, though that was a contributor.
It was the prophecy itself. That bloody prophecy! Why did it have to be him? He was no good? He grew a bloody muggle, a muggle that lived in the cupboard under the stairs. He couldn't offer to the Wizarding World what others could offer, yet he was the chosen one. The one that had been marked by the Dark Lord himself to be his equal. He could never win, no matter how much he worked at it, and everyone around him would just die in the end.
Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, the twins, Remus, Dumbledore, Collin Creevy, believe it or not, and everyone else. They would all be in danger, by nearly being his friends, and they would die. He just knew it. Because he led everyone to their deaths.
Snape was right. He was an arrogant kid who thought of nothing beyond reckless heroism.
Walking into the Room of Requirement, Harry found that there was a large arm chair before a cackling fire, leather arms spread wide and offering a taunting comfort for him. He gratefully crossed the room and fell into the plush armchair with a sigh of relief.
He wasn't usually so melancholy, actually he had been downright chirpy for the last few weeks, but he kept messing up on things. Simple spells failed him, his DADA teacher thought him a fool, and this one was actually bearable, though Harry still hadn't ruled out the possibility of suppressed thoughts of homicidal rage within the mind of the professor quite yet. That would take a couple more months.
Yet, this Professor, like almost all else, especially in the Order, thought him their savior. He would rise up with a blistering rage of emotion that festers deep within his heart, and he'll do something so grand that philosophers in centuries to come will wonder how such a spectacular event, spell, had come about.
And Voldemort would drop dead, in a flesh ridden heap that's pale and pasty skin would soon become worm food. And the Wizarding world would be saved. All by a boy whose mother had decided that he would live, and powerful enough to beat the man that marked him his equal.
They all expected something from him. Something great. But he knew he couldn't supply it. He couldn't so do when he couldn't even cast a simple spider-web protection spell that even Neville Longbottom had gotten on the first try.
Sighing, Harry succumbed himself deeper into the plush armchair, thinking that maybe he should just be like Don Quixote and throw off the' melancholy burden of sanity', and just try to beat Voldemort in mental madness. Yes, that sounded like a plan.
He wouldn't help any other way...
A man dressed like a jester, yellow and green stripes running down and up his robes, stood upon the stage in the middle of London square, jumping up and down in ridiculous antics. His mouth was ajar and his eyes were joyfully begging the snotty public for something, anything.
Down the street, huddled against the wind, walked one man with a ragged face, shallow cheeks, and hardly an ounce of feeling left in his old bones. He was the last…the very last, and that wouldn't be for long either. His cloak was a shameful, degrading color of burnt orange, an ugly orange that announced not only your rank but disgrace to the whole world. Hair fell, worn and completely gray, not to mention in a horrible need of a wash, fell into his eyes, as he looked up at the stage where the foolish jester worked away in stupid antics.
A frown creased his wrinkled cheeks as he watched the mop of red hair bounce around with flakes of dry skin, and as ripped cheeks, having been sliced from one corner of his mouth upward, on both sides, creased into painful faces. That face though, he knew that face. How could he forget the lively face that used to thirst for quidditch and hours on end with wizard chess?
No, it was impossible to forget the face of Ron Weasley, especially after Voldemort had his way.
Voldemort, oh yes, Voldemort. No! He must've think Voldemort! He must think The Dark Lord. Or The Master of All. Or The One Not to Be Named but For his Greatness. No, never, ever, Voldemort. That could bring about his death sooner than need be. No one must think of Voldemort as anything but those names above.
He was the ruler after all.
For a second, the man paused, his burnt orange cloaks earning disgusted sneers from those who wore black and green ones. He was nothing more than a piece of trash on the road, and it was a disgrace that he was still alive. However, his thoughts were not on the snotty public, but upon the Jester that was Ron.
Should he stop and say 'hi.' It was rare to see anyone from that final battle still alive and about, especially not with The Dark Lord's minions somewhere close by. Such a rare occurrence. He really should say 'hi'…
But he couldn't bring himself to it.
Instead he hunched over farther, and adverted his eyes from the disgraceful performance of Ron Weasley as he fought to live in an all too cruel world. Why did he even try? His whole family had been lost. Voldemort…no the Dark Lord had spared his life out of spite, out of pain, out of torture.
He had slashed his face with his own wand, and had deemed him less than trash to be kicked and beaten in the streets. Why did he still live then? The hunched over figure bowed farther, heart pounding with the fear of being recognized, oh how he didn't want any answers. Never, ever.
"Moony?" a quiet voice whispered out in awed fear. The hunched figure stopped, his chest tightening. It had been so long…ever so long since someone had called him that. "Is that you?" Ron had dropped to his knees, off of the stage and everything, and was groveling before him. His permanently carved smile on his face giving him an oddly deranged look.
"Ron?" he knew the answer, but he had to say so anyway. His voice was even a stranger to him, and it crocked like hoarse frog on a dry day.
"Yes," Ron nodded his head eagerly. "I can't—I thought you were dead…who else—who else is alive?" After Voldemort had slashed, yet spared him, he had been cut off from the world for two years. He missed a whole lot but he had gathered enough details to be satisfied in this cruel life that had become his own.
"Not many," Moony responded gravely. Not many at all and they were dropping like flies anyway. "How—how are you fairing?"
Bitter laughter arose from Ron's mouth, dark, and nothing like the laughter he use to have. It hurt Moony to hear such bitter laughter from once such a jolly boy. "I only live, Moony. That's it."
"Why?" Moony gasped. "Why not give up?" Oh how tempting that was. Oh, how ever so tempting.
"Two reasons," Ron straightened up, no longer upon his knees like he was groveling. He towered over Moony, who was awed by how much he had grown. He was a man now, a man in a rough time with an even rougher life ahead of him.
"What?" Moony asked, in awe. He didn't even have one reason to live, let alone two.
"To show Riddle," Ron spat the name without a care. Oh, he wasn't afraid, he was a brave boy. Moony winced though, hunching his back almost instinctively. "I don't care what he thinks…he won't rule my life."
"And the other?" Moony asked, thirsty for the answer. He was thirsty for any hope now and days, anything to give him a reason to die.
"For Harry," Ron whispered. Not even he dared to speak the name of The Boy Who Lived. He would say Riddle, no one knew Riddle, but he wouldn't say Harry Potter. Everyone knew that. "Everyday, I wake up and live, in honor of him. It's what he would've done. I'm sure of it."
"I—I guess," it was hard to say. It really was. "I've got to go." He said hurriedly. He was starting to think too much, seeing Ron made him think too much.
"You need to realize it…realize everything. I did." Ron hissed bravely and then he pressed something into Moony's hand. It was a slip of paper and glancing up the hunched over man, torn down by torture and pain of everything in life, to find his eyes bright…bright like Harry's. "Realize."
With that he turned, hunched back over, and was back upon the stage, dancing around stupidly, begging for food. How was it possible that living such a life allowed him to even have a glimmer of hope? Shakily, Moony turned, and hobbled down the rest of the street, his mind a whirl with thoughts of Ron.
Later that night, lying upon his carton of a bed, he found himself staring at the piece of parchment that Ron had slipped into his hand. He couldn't get his thoughts off of Ron for the whole day. What was it he had to realize? What could he not have realized that Ron had?
The note had an address on it. At least he assumed it was an address. He tucked it away, not going to bother with it, and rolled over to fall asleep. Without the wolfsbane he would in nearly two days, a very painful night. He wasn't sure if he'd survive it.
Then find out about the address, a voice nagged inside of his mind.
He flipped over, even farther away from the slip of paper, but still his nagging curiosity got the better of him. He tossed and turned, restless all night and when morning rolled around he hadn't had a wink.
Sitting up with the yawning sun that spread blood-red, ominous rays across the morning sky, like it always did, Moony reached over and grabbed the paper again. Flipping it open, he read the address and tucked it back into his shirt.
He knew that address all too well.
He was going to go. Spending a restless night, something gnawing at your mind, it was hard to resist not going where the note led. It would be a long trip, yes, but he could manage. Just the once.
Gathering himself up and taking nothing with him lest he aroused suspicion, he headed out into the brisk morning air that attacked his face bitterly. Sighing, he wrapped his burnt orange cloak around him tighter and hobbled off, wishing sincerely for his cane.
He was going to Number 4 Privet Dr.
He was exhausted by time he got there, but he felt oddly connected to everything. Not only was he surrounded by more burnt orange cloaked people than he had ever seen, though most of them were surviving muggles that were slaves, but because he was walking the street that Harry Potter had once lived upon.
Number Four was in ruins and it was fallen down in rubble. No one was there, no one dare to reside in the house of the Boy Who Lived. He was risking his life, even daring to enter the house, but he had too, to satisfy his curiosity. Glancing around sharply, he found that he was free to enter; he dropped into an alley way, slipped through a broken part of the fence in the back, and walked through the back door.
The whole house was empty, a ghost house, not even mice dared to stir. Dust lived on the kitchen floor like it was paradise, and broken furniture lay about from the first and last raid of the house. He walked from the kitchen swiftly, an odd energy swarming his stomach and chest, it was a feeling he couldn't place.
There were footprints, lots of footprints in the dust, leading up the stairs, recent and fresh. As if someone had taken to pacing the stairs as their hobby. Ron, Moony thought. Only Ron. Who else would dare enter Harry Potter's house.
Walking toward the stairs, Moony saw that the first stair was the only one not trod upon. Though there was one word that was written in the dust. A word scribbled with a shaky hand.
Then there was an arrow, pointing upwards.
"Realize," Moony whispered. That's what Ron had said. Yes, that's what Ron had said. This was what he wanted me to see…to realize.
No longer scared, actually he was exhilarated. He didn't care if Voldemort swooped down upon him at that very moment. He would feel no fear, no pain. Maybe just rightly placed hatred.
He stepped over the first step and walked up the stairs with a sturdy step. One that he hadn't had for years. He followed the footsteps in the dust to Harry's old room, the one that was covered in padlocks, but the door was swung wide open.
His breath hitched. Harry's room. He hadn't been here since the boy's seventh year, well the summer before that year. So long ago, and oddly enough, such lighter years too. He didn't want to go in there. He couldn't bear to walk into a room of someone he loved like a son. Not now, not after everything that happened.
But he had too. To realize.
Driven by curiosity, Moony took a deep breath and walked into the room. He was startled by two different things. One was that the room wasn't empty, there was one other occupant, and the other was what the whole room was.
It wasn't just the small, old bear room that Moony had thought it would be. No it was covered, covered in drawings, portraits, notes, pictures, and metal plaques. The wooden walls could not be seen and even Harry's old dresser was cleaned out for room.
It was a memorial…to everyone that was part of the main final battle. Part of the Order.
"Good to see you're still alive," the figure that was there, in the corner, said in a silky voice. "I was just about to start you part…but if you're alive, why should I?"
"Severus?" Moony asked in a feebly, shaking voice. That wasn't possible. How was Professor Severus Snape alive? He had seen him die! He was sure of it…or was he?
"Yes," the man nodded. "Take a look, Remus, realize…" Moony stated. So it wasn't Ron's words, it was Severus's words just being repeated. Moony nodded, not able to stand the moment of asking questions.
Turning he looked at the wall, an emotion of something he couldn't distinguish filling his chest and stomach. Tears filled his eyes, and his breath hitched.
Sirius. Pictures of him holding Harry and laughing. A portrait of him glaring down moodily. Notes written by those who survived—for the time being. And a plaque, declaring him a great man, fought till the death, and loved Harry like a son, friend, and brother.
He moved on. He had to. There was Hermione, smiling and beaming in pictures with her friends, Harry hanging off loosely, grinning widely, Ron linked in his arm too. Her portrait was smiling and grand. Her plaque was written in Sirius's favorite phrase, not just Sirius's, everyone's. She was the smartest witch of her age and the greatest friend to those who cared.
The rest of the Weasleys passed by. The Twins, joined together in almost every picture, Percy, Bill, Charlie, then Molly and Arthur. Then Ginny's area and tears ran down his cheeks, unable to hold them back.
More passed by. Mad-Eye Moody, Tonks, Mrs. Figg, McGonagall, Flitwick, Hagrid, and so many more. Most of the Order. Moony felt emotion in his body that he hadn't felt for years.
Then it was Dumbledore's. He had died in a fight from Voldemort, an accident. On his shoulder was Fawkes, and he was beaming with that twinkle in his eye that Moony would never forget. He had a plaque, and there were only a few words written on it.
He Only Cared.
Those words were everything Dumbledore was. It took them a long time to realize that but in the end they had. That was enough to satisfy the man, even in his grave. Moony had no doubt that his eyes were twinkling even in the afterlife.
Gulping Moony turned to the area he feared most. Harry Potter's area. Bright green eyes shined down at him, an odd smile playing the boy's cheeks, and he was laughing at some joke that Ginny was whispering in his ear, having escape her own frame at the moment.
He was the only one, and even though he had his doubts that he could succeed, he had tried. Tried hard. But what everyone expected, and what he knew couldn't be done, had happened. His thoughts had been proven true, but he had still tried. He always would. He would never give up. Not even when the odds were against him.
He had died a hero and would remain a hero, in the hearts of those who cared, but like the others his death would be scorned. Moony's shoulder shook had he read the plaque and he found an odd smile creeping through his tear stained cheeks. Harry would never give up.
He looked on, past Harry, and found his eyes resting on a part that was dedicated to Snape.
"But I—" he looked over in time to see that Snape was shimmering, not as solid as he had mistaken the man to be, and a sigh escaped him. "You did die."
"Yes," the man nodded. "But I'm still here, as you can tell, and I make this room."
"How?" Remus asked, stunned.
"Not I," Snape said. "But by those who realized and will keep on living. Ron for example. I just make sure it happens."
"Why?" Moony asked quietly, his voice strained. Every picture, portrait in the room, turning to watch him.
"To make you realize," Snape said quietly. "You must realize that what happened…is not all. You are still alive, Ron is still alive, and others are still alive. Look at this wall," Snape said. "And you'll find that people's portraits are missing…because they still live."
"It was Harry's life…to beat the Dark Lord." Moony whispered, seeing no hope.
"Yes and that prophecy has been fulfilled…no longer does it reside on that boy's shoulders. But now those who realize they can still win. Realize," Snape said in a barely audible whisper.
"I don't understand why you still strive to win when there's barely any hope…look at all those who have died!" Moony gestured to the wall, tears filling his eyes. "We pushed Harry when there was barely any hope, and look what happened. How is pushing us going to do any good. We'll just die too.
"Is death so bad when you're fighting for something right?" Snape asked, startling Moony. How odd, hearing that from the Death Eater turned Spy. Then again, he would know better than anyone, right? "Harry might've known there was no hope…he still tried. It's our fault, as much as his, for not trying harder in the beginning.
"If we knew there was no hope, if he knew there was no hope, he should've just tried harder in getting prepared. We were foolish…but we're bound to learn from past mistakes." Snape informed casually, his demeanor even in death still there.
Turning Moony stared at the picture of Harry that blinked at him slowly, a smile brightening his cheeks. Such a rare picture that was, even in the last years of his life. He had died trying, though he believed he wouldn't succeed.
"Do you realize?" Snape asked, quietly.
"Yes," Moony nodded. "I think I do and we'll learn from out mistakes…this time well will learn. Third times the charm, eh?" Moony asked in bitter humor.
"Then go find people," Snape snapped. "Don't just stand there, bloody Gryffindor."
Nodding, Moony turned and walked from the room, going to go find people, knowing that there was still hope, even in so much darkness. He would not fail…not this time.
In his wake, the plaque beneath Harry's portrait gleamed, and he was determined to keep that going. The plaque read in words that all too summed up Harry's life…
He realized—the hero...
Harry set up with a jerk, his invisibility cloak falling off his arms as he fell forward, gasping in horror.
That dream…that nightmare had been horrible and yet true. If he failed, that's what would happen. Everyone would die; his friend would be carved up.
Who cared if there was no hope! He would make there be hope! He'd make the hope and then he would realize the hope!
Ron had said that, Snape had said that, Remus had succumbed to it. Now he would, before any of that in his dream happened.
"Harry," a voice said quietly and he looked over, startled, to find Hermione and Ron standing there. "You all right?"
"Yeah mate, we knew we'd find you here…you look like you just had a nightmare? Voldemort?" he asked as Harry stood up, searching his best friend's eyes. He could still see the image of his friend carved up, dressed like a Jester, being the fool, but that odd glint in his eyes.
He had that glint now. Was it hope? Was it realization? Was it just caring?
"I'm fine," Harry breathed. "Actually I'm better than ever…" he shook his head slightly. He would not remember anyone from that dream that way, but he would never allow the dream to be forgotten. "Hey, Herm, can you teach me how to work that spider-web protection?"
"Of course!" Hermione squealed. "I'll help you with anything."
"That's because she's the smartest witch of her age," Ron laughed. "She doesn't have to help you; she can just zap it into your brain!" Harry laughed at this and Hermione allowed her disapproving frown to be broken with her own laughter.
"Let's get down to Breakfast," Harry said. 'We've got things to learn' he mentally added. He wasn't planning on allowing Moony bring about the third fight, he wasn't going to allow there to be a third fight.
This was the final fight. No matter what. Everyone had already realized this...it was just about time that he did.
A/N: If Remus seems OOC I just wanted to point out that he's a man at a loss in a world of disbelief and pain. Anyone can succumb to his point of breaking, even the greatest man.
I hoped you liked it. A bit dark, I know. R&R