Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or anything stated in the books, or belonging to J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., and Bloomsbury books.
-Oh My Goddess
Harry let the hot water stream down his back. He was sore all over. Moody's training schedule was rigorous at best, near fatal at worst. But he'd asked for it. Without Dumbledore around, Hogwarts was a sitting duck, and so were the children and his friends.
It hadn't taken much insistence from Hermione to convince him to finish his final year. Who knows? He might get lucky and find the clue to what the last Horcruxe might be. The Chamber of Secrets was still relatively undisturbed from when Riddle had turned it into his little clubhouse; maybe it would garner some clues. A sneaking suspicion of where the locket might be had already taken precedence in his mind, provided, of course, that R.A.B. was who he thought it was.
For the millionth time since the beginning of the summer, Dumbledore's final letter ran through his mind.
He squeezed his eyes shut as his heart wrenched. Please forgive me for not being there for you all those years, despite of what I thought was necessary. It was, Harry now knew, and guilt battled at the edges of his mind for not telling his old mentor he understood and forgave him. There are many explanations I still owe you, but for now, I can only reveal one safely. The very night I went to fetch you from Number 4. Last summer, Narcissa Malfoy with the escort of her sister, Bellatrix Lestrange, arrived at Severus Snape's home and begged him to save her son from the wrath Lucius inspired in Voldemort by his failure to bring him the prophecy. Severus, despite of what you were led to believe, is not without a heart, and agreed to help. You may ask, 'why help Draco?', but first you must appreciate his situation, which is much like your cousin's. He was never raised to know any better until now, and even then, he had no choice. And without warning or preparation for him, his parent's lives, and his own, were riding on his success or failure. Narcissa, desperate to ensure her son's safety, asked Severus for an Unbreakable Vow, which with Bellatrix's presence was unavoidable. I ordered him to kill me, and save Draco Malfoy's young life. Please, do not judge either of them too harshly, for they, unlike you, were not raised to be able to carry such burdens on their shoulders. Thus, they struggle not to cripple under them.
So now, Harry, my boy, I know I hold no right to do so, but I ask you for one final favor from beyond the veil. Please help Severus and Draco when all others turn them away, and strive to protect them even from themselves. Harry mouthed out the last words of the letter under the heavy spray of water. Remember the power of giving second chances, protecting those whom cannot protect themselves, and above all, finish what Tom Riddle and I have started. I could not have asked for a better protégé to take my place, or a worthier man to give example to others. Good luck, Harry.
There was a shout from downstairs, startling him out of his remembrance, it sounded like Uncle Vernon. The water suddenly went cold, Harry yelped and slapped off the showerhead. Bloody bastard turned off the hot water pipe. The teenager growled in annoyance and wrapped a towel about his waist before heading back into his room and shutting the door.
"Hello, Harry Potter."
Harry snapped out his wand and locked gazes with an intruder, whom was making no effort to hide. The first thing he realized was that she sure wasn't human, but defiantly feminine. She had black hair that moved of its own accord, and wore a long purple dress. Startlingly, she looked like she was half made out of smoke; her eyes glowed like bright yellow beacons. Oddly, something tugged at his memory, like he'd seen or read about this being before.
The woman flowed over to him like smoke and cream in coffee.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" Harry demanded; his wand trained at her head. He could see lights flickering beneath her skin; they looked like star constellations.
She laughed. "Ooh, just what I had expected of my favorite little child." She ghosted behind him and curled one wispy hand on his jaw. "So grown up now." she cooed, shaking his chin. "You're still so sad about losing your mentor and your godfather, well, that's about to change." Suddenly, the creature was in front of him again. A shock of recognition jolted his mind.
"State your business, Eris, Goddess of Chaos."
"And Discord." Eris wagged a finger at him. "So," She flowed closer. "They don't call you a Dark Arts Protégé for nothing, and you certainly do know your stars."
"Defense Against the Dark Arts." Harry corrected stiffly.
"Of course." The goddess waved her hand dismissively. "So about my business?" Eris flowed over his shoulder. "I'm afraid there's been a major transgression on the part of my sister goddesses, Fate and Balance."
"What does a fight among gods have to do with little old me? I'm just a human, a mortal."
"So naive!" Eris laughed hysterically holding her sides. "How perfectly ridiculous, you don't even realize what you are!" She was suddenly an inch from his face. "Now, let me finish. It seems my sisters' thought that you fell in their circle of control! They manipulated you, without my permission, to try and balance out the forces of good and evil. Their efforts were coming to rather disastrous ends, as you can tell by the rather violent tailspin your life has taken since, what, your third year? The stupid fools didn't realize that the gods behind Voldemort were cheating, and they nearly got you killed!" Eris slammed a fist angrily on his desk. The house shook alarmingly around them.
"They can't grasp that the only way to even out, or get back at a cheater, is to cheat better. I was furious of course, I nearly started a war with them," She let out another laugh. "But then Justice and Chronos stepped in, and we came to an agreement."
"What's your point, Eris?" Harry's voice was steady, but his mind churned. Why did he not have a good feeling about where this was heading?
"Don't be so impatient, love." Eris lounged on his bed. "Chronos agreed that he would send your mind far enough back in time to make a difference, with all the knowledge it holds now, and he made Cupid give you the choice of the creation of one couple as a consolation." Like a shadow she was suddenly behind him again. Eris ran one hand across his bare chest; Harry had to make an effort not to twitch away from her. "You can choose any person in the world. Anyway, I'm going to send you back tonight, so you'd better choose quickly." She caught sight of the look on Harry's face and smirked. "If you're having doubts about agreeing to this, would you like a little preview of what will be at the end of the year?"
Eris waved her hand; bodies lay on the floor, bloody and mangled. "Remus Lupin and Severus Snape. What, surprised? Did you think really you could protect them, a spy and a werewolf? In this sort of war?" She waved her hand again, and more bodies shimmered into existence. "Did you think you could protect the friends who follow you so blindly into battle? Without Dumbledore to guide or teach you?"
Her laughter rang out in a deep baritone, chilling Harry deeply to the core. Tonks, Fred, and Flitwick...he would fail completely?
"I get it, Eris." His voice shook slightly as he gazed upon the faces of the dead.
"Good." She whispered, switching ears. "Now, who is it that you want?" Eris flowed to his front waiting expectantly.
Harry's eyes flickered over his room as his thoughts raced. " Does it have to be a pair about me?" he asked the goddess grinning mischievously above him. Eris cocked an eyebrow and read his mind, before burst out laughing. "You are truly my child, Harry! I knew there was a reason I favored you, the very idea..." Eris wiped an imaginary tear from her eye. "Oh, how delightfully chaotic that would be! I know just how to do it too..." she trailed off touching her chin thoughtfully with one finger.
"Well, can you do it? Without hurting anyone?" The teenager eyed her warily. Harry wasn't taking any chances; the repercussions of messing with time and fate were huge, and what he was asking was defying the very basic laws of magic. It didn't seem to bother Eris though, and if she could do it…
If she could give him what he asked, it would be worth an eternity in hell.
The goddess laughed at his thoughts and snapped her fingers. A parchment and quill appeared out of thin air. "This states that nothing I do will harm anyone while you are on this mission, it's all up to you." Harry took a deep breath; this was a chance of a lifetime, the chance to do it all over, a chance at life.
He reached out and signed the magical binding contract. With another snap, the parchment disappeared and his room dissolved into a cloud of nothing.
"It is time, Harry Potter." Eris's voice had gone voluminous and mystical. "When you wake up, you will be thirteen again, riding the Knight Bus to the Leakey Cauldron. Will you be cautious in your alterations, and manipulate for a better future?"
"Of course I will!" Harry snapped. He didn't like the way she put it, it reminded him of Grindlewald and Dumbledore. A fire burned in his eyes still.
"Very well, your cover will be... Seerhood. A likely discovery on the edge of puberty, and you started Divination class that year. Do not fear, all will be taken care of in verifying that with the mortal's tests. Are you ready to begin your journey, Harry?"
"Yes, very." Harry could feel his eyes slipping shut as if heavy with sleep.
"Then good bye, love, and good luck. I'll keep in touch!"
Her laughter followed him into the darkness.
Good luck? Hmph. He'd certainly need it.
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