After the Second Rise
Disclaimer: I do not own rights to the story or characters of Harry Potter.
"Blimey," Harry listened to distant voices speak, "I missed all that?"
"You don't remember what happened?" that was Hermione's voice.
Harry could feel her warmth as though she were a beacon in the dark part of his mind. He relaxed his mind drifting back to numb unconsciousness as he realized she was ok.
"No," Ron's voice, "I've been seeing Mind Healers. They tell me I've repressed the memory to better cope but I get terrible nightmares. Though I don't remember them when I wake up. My throat just gets really sore."
Harry paused at the edge of the dark of his mind listening curious as to why he'd be hearing Ron's voice. Wasn't he in the hospital? Wait, why would he be in the hospital? Harry fell in his head memories flashing past as he began the arduous process of waking up.
"I'm glad your back," Harry heard exhaustion in her voice and without waking he knew she leaned over to rest her head on Ron's…
His eyes snapped open as he remembered why it was weird to hear Ron's voice then snapped shut again as the glare from the sun and the magic in the room overwhelmed his tired eyes.
"Ron?" He croaked raising a hand in Ron's direction, "Oh Merlin," He choked, "Don't make this be a dream."
Another hand clasped Harry's and Harry felt Ron's maroon aura through his palms. He blinked open his eyes turning his head to look at Ron tears welling up in his eyes.
"You're awake…" He said quietly for some reason unable to raise his voice very high.
"So are you Mate," Ron smiled clasping Harry's hands in his own.
"You were gone Ron, I did…" Harry choked, "I-,"
"Shut it," Ron shook his head, "Wasn't your fault," He sighed and glanced at Hermione.
"I'll go let Dumbledore know you're awake," Hermione said quietly looking away from Harry quickly.
Harry nodded confused as to why he felt a tinge of fear from her.
Ron watched her go a sad smile on his face then he turned his attention back to Harry, "You've been out for a week. Magic reserves were so low Madam Pomfrey thought you'd be another over night casualty."
"Another-?" Harry asked.
"A lot of people…kids, didn't make it." Ron said quietly, "They're closing the school early this summer out of respect for the families. Dumbledore has asked to resign but the Board wouldn't let him. He's been a powerful figure in the community doing everything he can to fix things."
"When'd you wake up?" Harry asked quietly.
" About three days after you fell asleep," Ron grinned a little, "Apparently me being comatose was an unexpected side effect of the curse. Lift the curse, wake me up." He shrugged and then looked at his lap, "Umbridge is in Azkaban, Fudge has been knocked out of office. The Wizarding world knows now for sure Voldemort is alive."
"So he's still alive…" Harry said quietly.
"Barely," Harry looked up at Dumbledore, "How are you feeling Harry?"
Harry stared at Dumbledore for a long time trying to understand what he meant, "Empty," He said at last.
Ron placed a hand on Harry's shoulder sadly as Dumbledore sighed and sat on the chair Hermione had previously occupied.
"Do you remember what happened?" Dumbledore asked carefully.
"I wish I didn't," Harry said.
"Hermione said Voldemort was in you somehow," Ron said carefully, "That he possessed you or something…"
Harry nodded then shook his head, "I can't blame him for what happened," He said quietly and looked directly at Dumbledore, "I made a choice."
"Yes, you did," Dumbledore nodded, "You made the choice to stop." He placed a wizened hand on Harry's shoulder staring at Harry in the eyes, "And you made the choice to sacrifice yourself."
Harry shook his head and asked, "What do you mean?"
Dumbledore smiled though the smile was tired and didn't reach his eyes, "You'll see." Harry watched as he stood and moved on to the next patient.
He looked at Ron, "What does he mean?" He asked.
"We found this," Ron said instead of answering pulling out a twisted piece of glass from his robes, "In the crater beneath your body. We think it came from your robes. The Aurors analyzed it and found traces in it common to the ingredients for the Maidens Tears potion." He raised his eyebrows, "The glass warped but glass like metal doesn't just disintegrate under heat and pressure: it re-forms. There were two other pieces of this buried a little deeper in the dirt."
"Crater?" Harry asked taking the piece of glass that appeared more crystalline and hard.
"You leave a mark everywhere you go don't you?" Ron asked quietly.
"Yeah," Harry said and turned the twisted sliver of glass in his hand watching the light flicker through the glass like fire, "There's ash in this," He said sensing the fire in the glass.
"Is there?" Ron asked curiously.
"The opaque pieces, see?" Harry held the piece up so Ron could look at it more closely.
Ron nodded slowly, "Huh." He said, "Interesting."
"Yeah," Harry said and lowered the sliver carefully clutching it in his fist, "Where…did Hermione go?" He asked slowly.
Ron winced and looked at Harry sympathetically, "She was with you the whole time you were unconscious Mate." Ron said carefully, "Didn't leave until she heard I'd woken up…"
"I know," Harry said with a sad smile, "I wanted to be there when you woke up almost as badly as she did."
Ron looked at Harry and Harry saw a flicker of relief pass over his features before Ron controlled his emotions.
"Occlumancy?" Harry asked.
Ron shrugged, "I have to now," He said, "My minds all…scrambled. The mind Healer says it will help."
Harry reached out and touched the hem of Ron's sleeve, "You know if we could have we would have ditched school and stayed with you Ron."
Ron smiled and Harry felt more relief sneak passed the barriers in his aura, "Yeah," He said, "I know."
"But…?" Harry asked carefully.
"But." Ron sighed, "You really scared her Harry. When you're better I owe you a punch in the face Mate, but as it stands right now…give her space."
Harry nodded and stared up at the ceiling, "I really deserve it this time," He said quietly.
"Yeah," Ron smiled, "Maybe, but Harry, you are the reason a lot of people are alive right now."
"I'm the reason a lot of people are dead," He said agreeably nodding his head, "Was any of it the right thing to do? I don't know anymore."
Ron sighed and held out his hand for the shard of glass he'd given Harry, "Neither do I Mate," he said as Harry placed the shard in Ron's open palm, "On a bright note, Umbridge is never permitted to walk these halls again, on a darker note…no one knows if this school will continue to stay open." He placed the shard with two others in a small glass vial and handed the vial to Harry.
Harry took the vial and stared absently at its contents, "Could they really close the school for good?" He asked speculatively, "It's such a pillar of British Wizarding society."
"I don't know," Ron shook his head honestly, "Dad doesn't think so."
Harry grinned wryly at Ron, "I've noticed your dad says things that are unexpectedly observant of him."
Ron grinned, "Should I be insulted by that comment?" He asked, "Cuz I can easily claim you've gone crazy and have you drugged up and knocked out in seconds." Ron raised his eyebrows and pointed at a medi-witch that was a few beds over from him, "Seriously," He said, "Seconds."
Harry smiled though his face still appeared unemotional, dead, "I know you can Ron." He said quietly, "I meant it as a complement."
Ron sobered placing his hands in his lap, "I know," He sighed, "You don't just feel empty Harry," He said, "You look it too."
"How does one look empty?" Harry wondered.
Ron shook his head and shrugged, "If I tried to describe it, I think it'd still sound too emotional to fit."
Harry nodded and shook the glass vial gently listening to the clink of the strange glass shards, "I'm sorry Ron," He said at last, "I wasn't there for you."
"You couldn't have been," Ron said quietly, "I watched her put a Silence on me, then the Petrificus spell…I couldn't move, and screaming…well, it was useless."
Harry watched Ron grab his left arm as he spoke, "I'm surprised you're telling me about it." He said quietly.
"My Healer said it would be good for me to talk about it," Ron answered subconsciously.
Harry placed a hand on Ron's arm, "Thank you," He said quietly, "For telling me."
"Well," Ron shrugged, "I'd all ready told Hermione before you and she said that that's what you two thought had happened…"
Harry nodded, "Yeah."
"That's makes sharing strangely easier," Ron said.
Harry sighed, "I should tell you about some of the things Bella did to me." He shrugged, "Maybe it won't make you feel so alone."
"Who said I felt alone?" Ron asked.
Harry leveled his gaze at Ron and true sorrow peeked through the blank gaze of his Best Mate, "Ron," Harry said quietly, "Really?"
"Oh." Ron looked down at his lap, "right."
Harry gently squeezed Ron's arm, "I really am glad your back. I was scared…that you'd been so damaged we'd never see you again."
"Well I'm not all fixed," Ron said with a weak grin, "But no one else is either."
"I…yeah," Harry said quietly, "Your right."
"All right Mr. Weasley," A healer walked up to Ron and placed a kind hand on his shoulder, "Visiting hours are over. He's got a lot of magical reserve to re-build. Mr. Potter needs his rest."
Ron nodded and stood with a small grin, "I'll be back later. Our parents are staying in Hogsmeade. The dorms are closed so that's where everyone else is too. Save you lot." He nodded at the other beds and patients that literally covered every available space in the room, "Hogwarts has been turned into a hospital ward."
Harry nodded and his and Ron's eyes met for the briefest of seconds completely on the same page for once in their long years of friendship. The Healer gave Harry a vial of Dreamless Sleep and Harry downed it wondering when it had begun to work on him and why. He didn't have long to ponder as he fell into unconsciousness but he did dwell on the fact Ron had called Mr. and Mrs. Weasley 'our parents' as in Harry was included in that scenario. It was a comforting thought though not a new one. It was simply the first time it had been verbally recognized that the two of them were indeed brothers legally. Emotionally, they had always been thus, but it had taken a year for Harry to truly belong to the Weasley family on such a natural level. How wonderfully strange.
Harry awoke several times during his long sleep sometimes to the sounds of sobbing wails, some the cries of pain and others laughter, tears of joy as someone was announced healed and well. He was aware of different people sitting next to him keeping vigil but whenever he was about to wake it seemed more of the Dreamless Sleep potion was trickled into his mouth and he was pushed once again to oblivion.
The boy slept, for several days he was kept alive on nutrient and sleep potions. His breathing was still, slower then would be deemed normal and a magically heated blanket was kept on him at all times because his body temperature was way below normal. The world around him moved and continued to be as busy at it needed to be. The Wizarding world had a lot to prepare for.
Voldemort, by attacking the children of the community had unknowingly declared war upon all wizards and witches who had children, grand children, nieces, nephews or remembered they were once children themselves. Voldemort himself seemed weakened, or at least he did not show his true force as people expected.
If it weren't for the lives lost, the Wizarding community might have stayed in ignorant bliss chalking the attack up to a couple of maniacs headed, by all people, Sirius Black. They couldn't claim ignorance any longer. And aAs Sirius Black had stood next to aurors in battle he was due for an actual re-trial in honor of the heroic deed he'd done. As it was, a large memorial was erected in the middle of the new entrance of the school in the form of four children standing one in each cardinal direction, backed paid for by Black funds. Each child stood tall with determined eyes and hands held clasped together their bodies facing outward from each other. Behind them, between them, stood a spiraling sconce the top of which contained a bowl where a memorial flame would be erected during the memorial ceremony.
Harry finally awoke on the fourth week from the attack when said ceremony was taking place. His eyes opened to a silent room with fewer beds. There was still a large amount of injured healing in beds around him but it wasn't the chaos he'd remembered three weeks prior. He shivered having kicked the sheets off him as the Dreamless Sleep had worn off and his usual nightmares inserted themselves in his fractured mind. He ran his hand over his smooth face trying to rub off the drowsiness left from having been asleep for four weeks and sat up slowly.
His muscles felt shaky, weak, from so much sleep but he pushed himself up regardless feeling that if he didn't he'd fall asleep another four weeks and then never get back up fully. His head felt both heavier and clearer then it had in a year. He sighed shivering again wondering why he was so cold. Harry glanced at a candle beside him and willed it to light. He felt the fire in his chest flare a bit then die, the candle sat beside him, unmoving and unchanged. Harry winced.
Listening to the quiet room he could hear a distant monologue and through the large windows of the Hospital Ward what looked like millions of warm yellow stars flickered and danced just inside the entrance hall. Harry pushed himself off the side of his bed and grabbed a robe feeling somehow transfixed on the sound of the distant monologue and wanting to hear it in its entirety. Without thinking about it he moved off his bed and stood pulling on a robe. He quietly walked down the Ward moving silently between beds of sleeping patients his appearance pale like that of a ghost.
He walked through empty stone halls that were as familiar to him as the palm of his hand his bare feet feeling the cold to his very bones. Down rotating staircases he ran his hand over the stone railings feeling each dip and impression. The rough material seeming that much more course as though he were feeling the stone for the first time. When he reached the bottom of the stairway a warm flickering light reached out to him beckoning him forward and he entered the great hall among hundreds of witches and wizards standing silent vigil as Dumbledore uttered the last words of his eulogy and reached up a wizened old hand to touch the raised bowl between the children with the tip of his wand.
A silent flash and then roar as a blue flame came to life seeming to hover barely half an inch within the bowl. Dumbledore reached his candle up and touched the wick to the flame taking some of the blue flame with him.
"This candle," He said, "Has been lit in the hope and the courage that each student possesses. Their loyalty to each other in the face of Adversity, their ambition in survival…" He walked toward a young woman who stood sobbing in front of him and touched his candle to hers turning her yellow flame blue, "And their love for one another. A love that enables them all to push through their limits and insufficient knowledge."
He held up his candle and pushed it gently into the air to watch it float over the heads of the mourners. The young girl lit the candles around her turning their yellow flames to blue ones and then pushed her candle into the air as well with a soft 'leviosa' spell. The candle as though caught in a stream floated alongside Dumbledore's and soon as the blue colored flame spread more candles floated into the air to follow the first two candles.
"We are here," Dumbledore continued, "Not just to mourn those we have lost, but to remember the young heroes and heroines that defended their brothers and sisters when the need was most dire. This flame will carry their memory to wherever it is children too young dead go to tell their tale and guide them on their way to peace."
Harry stood in his hospital robes at the back of the crowd of mourners listening as each professor stood and lit their candles passing on the blue flame as they dispersed into the crowd. The night air whispered as it flowed through the large open double doors of both the front entrance and the great hall. Witches and wizards of all ages crowded the halls of the castleboth it, all changing the colors of their candles with theto blue flames and sending them into the air candles with the others to float out of the castle toward the lake. Harry closed his eyes feeling a part of a river as slowly each Witch and Wizard followed the candles out to watch them touchdown in the lake and float not in the air but in the water.
A group of older witches and Wizards started to sing, the song long, and wailing. Many in the crowd joined them even though the language was one Harry didn't completely recognize. People began to cry the sounds seeming to become part of the song. Harry listened closing his eyes and marveling at the feelings that sprang up in him. Tears dropped from his eyes without him knowing, they steamed as they fell down his cheeks.
"It's an old funeral song," Harry glanced to his right As Madam Sinistra stepped up next to him and placed a hand on his shoulder, "Celtic. It's origin is Druidic but Wizards have been using this song for centuries to carry their dead to the afterlife." She hummed a line and closed her eyes tears falling silently down her cheeks, " I heard this song far more than anyone should during the last war. Its why so many of them can join in. Once sung, it isn't forgotten easily."
Harry scrutinized his old Mistress as she stood her hair a tangled mess and left undone cuts on her cheeks and a sling on one arm. She didn't hide her tears or the sorrow that gripped her but she still seemed composed.
"I missed you in the fight," Harry said quietly.
"You're walking around," Madam Sinistra smiled sadly, "Congratulations. I fought outside, ran into the Aurors that were leading Umbridge out of the castle when we were attacked."
Harry nodded, "You were the sounds of spell fire outside the doors."
"Yes," She said, "And you are the Phoenix though, my apprentice no longer."
Harry looked up surprised, "Madam?"
"When you were re-born Harry," Madam Sinistra said nodding at the newest addition to the lake, "Our binding was severed. I know now it was a futile effort to begin with."
"Am I still…" Harry hesitated feeling strangely nervous, "Your pupil?"
"Of course," Madam Sinistra smiled, "I still have a great deal to teach you, though as your professor not your Master. I can't clip your wings Mr. Potter and I wouldn't want to."
"Professor," Harry hesitated again his eyes troubled, "I don't understand how I'm alive. I died, for all intents and purposes that's exactly what I was trying to do. Die so that Voldemort would die with me."
Madam Sinistra squeezed Harry's shoulder, "I don't know how you are alive either nor how you are healed." She pulled him to her and gave him a brief but warm hug, "But I am glad you live. I would not to want to sing for your soul this day. I am grateful I don't have to."
Harry stood surprised for a minute and then hugged his professor back. She had been his rock after the hospital. The one thing keeping him grounded other then Hermione all semester. They had shared a bond that few had the privilege of doing and she had taught him so much.
"Thank you," He said quietly, hoarsely.
She hugged him tighter for a minute and then let go throwing an arm over his shoulder as a comrade and guiding him further into the crowd. She took up the song with others around them her voice deep and clear with sorrow, strength, and joy. They reached the nose of land that like a needle jutted out into the water and she conjured a candle for him. He knelt and touched the wick to one of the other floating candles and feeling strange like he was a part of some ancient ritual he gently pushed the candle into the water where it floated with the rest of them. He stayed kneeling resting his hand on his blessedly solid knee watching in silence with the rest of the community and listening to the eerie song as it guided the candles over the lake like millions of floating blue stars.
When every candle was in the water Dumbledore called for silence. He stood on the very tip of the needle where he and Hermione had been protected when Harry had burned everything out of him and raised his wand. With a flick the blue flames jumped off of the candles and hovered above the water. With another flick of the wand the flames jumped up into the air traveling fast enough to gain tails on their ends as they flew up into the sky to become part of the stars themselves. A torrent of sound came from the crowd as mothers, fathers, friends, and lovers cried their farewells for the last time. Many of the witches and wizards fell to their knees with emotion and as the lights faded so too did the sobs.
The ceremony had ended. The lingering dead had left and people began to leave in reverent silence. Harry stayed where he was smiling at Madam Sinistra as she patted his shoulder in farewell. He watched the crowd disperse walking off of the grounds and apparating with their children. He stepped up to stand at the tip of the needle alone as Dumbldore mingled with some of the more adamant mourners giving words of comfort and help.
Harry surveyed the damage done by him. The new inlet to the lake that lapped several feet below him directly in front of the entrance to the castle. Truth be told he didn't completely remember everything that had happened. He was pretty sure he'd all ready been dead when the crater had been carved out of the earth. That he vaguely remembered, that and the feeling of being completely weightless for one single glorious moment then yanked back into heavy flesh.
He slouched feeling suddenly tired, drained. He lifted his hand and pulled his fingers into a fist then flexed them out with a flick of his wrist. A puff of smoke answered him and even that single try made him feel as though he were ready to crawl back into bed.
"You're walking," Harry stiffened and turned his head.
Her Aura was filled with hesitance and fear.
"No Harry," Hermione held up a hand, "Don't, just…" She lowered her hand and he turned his head back around looking away from her, "You…I thought you'd…that maybe I'd…lost you."
"Hermione," He shivered, "Please don't."
"Don't what?" She asked, "Slap you? Yell at you for being a complete ass? For scaring the living daylights out of me…Don't what Harry?"
He turned the words out of his mouth louder then he intended, "Don't fear me!" He snapped his eyes wide with a tangible fear he'd felt that first day of waking, "Don't be afraid of me. Please."
Hermione looked at the ground refusing to look at his face, "I'm not afraid of you I'm-!"
"Then what?" Harry asked, "I can feel your fear Hermione. I've felt your absence since the first day I woke. Ron came to sit beside me, hell even Fred and George took their turns even though their magic was almost as heavily damaged as my own!"
"You can feel us-?" Hermione asked.
"Yes!" Harry ran a hand over his face, "I learned it last…time…its instinct now ok? Just happens naturally." His arm dropped and he stared at her begging, "It's only because it's you guys, my family," He said, "Your auras I know as well as my own, their…you're my…important-!" He fell to his knees as she folded her arms in front of her chest and turned away from him biting her lower lip in distress.
"I broke ok?" Harry said his voice shaking, "I snapped. I couldn't handle seeing her again…seeing her hurt you while I was incapacitated by…" He grabbed his head digging his fingers into his long unruly hair, "Then he jumped into my head. Messed it up…Played on things inside me I hid from even myself. I became a monster to defeat the monsters." He pleaded, "I could've controled myself but I didn't want to. So I don't blame you. I don't but I can't…I can't live with you fearing me Hermione. Not you." He reached out a hand to her, "Please."
She stood stock still her back to him. He could read she was scared but her emotions were warring within her so her aura felt conflicted, confused.
"I know," She said quietly, "You'd never hurt me. Even when you were blowing up you instinctually shielded me."
"How did you-," Harry leaned back surprised.
"I just know ok," She snapped and then her shoulders slumped.
"I wanted to die," Harry said quietly, "It was the only way I could think of to destroy him completely. So that he couldn't hurt you, so that she would no longer go after you."
"I know that," Hermione sighed, "Me and Ron always knew you'd die to protect us."
"Please Hermione," He said shaking as he clutched his arms folding into himself, "Please don't fear me. Don't hate me."
Hermione turned quickly the hem of her robes whipping outward with the speed of her turn then billowed as she suddenly knelt and grabbed Harry's shoulders. Harry looked up shocked as she pulled him to her wrapping her arms around his neck tears coursing down her face.
"I could never hate you," She whispered, "And yes, I was scared of what you were. For five minutes I saw a side of you I never thought you'd ever be capable of. Then I watched you destroy yourself. No Harry. I'm not afraid of you." She closed her eyes and rubbed her head against his as he clutched her for dear life, "Disappointed yes, upset, yes, worried? When am I not?" She chuckled weakly, "But I can't, ever, hate you."
She pulled back from him and stared at him in the eyes rubbing fingers across the remains of a scar on his right cheek, "I love you," She said quietly and leaned forward kissing him slowly and gently on the forehead her lips lingering on his skin as he froze barely breathing for fear of breaking contact, "So much."
He grabbed her and pulled her back into the previous hug crushing her chest against his tears freely flowing out of his eyes for the second time since waking up. She let him cry, crying herself. Exhausted he fell his sobs quieted and his breathing evened out and when Ron found them he was asleep his head resting on her lap. Hermione smiled quietly at Ron and reached out a hand. Ron took it and smiled with an exasperated roll of his eyes.
"I'll go get Sirius," He said quietly.
Hermione nodded gratefully and Ron walked back to the castle looking back a little sadly as she leaned forward and brushed Harry's hair away to gently kiss the top of his head. With Sirius's help they were able to get Harry back to his bed another Dreamless sleep potion waiting. Madam Pomphrey said that it was the last one he'd be allowed to take and that the rest of his healing would have to be up to him. This time Hermione didn't leave his bed side. She still felt conflicted about a few things but then, she was healing too.
For several days Harry was in and out of sleep. Without the Dreamless Sleep potion most of his sleep was spent tossing and turning. When he was awake Madam Sinistra pushed him through physical exercises to test his new limits and re-build his strength. She pulled Ron into the exercises recognizing that he too needed something physical to do to keep his mind off of things. Dumbledore was a frequent visitor drilling Harry in what had happened to him.
The old man sat back and stared quietly at the small vial of three little shards of glass, "These are what's left of the Maiden's Tears potion you and Ron brewed?" He asked Hermione.
"That's what the forensic Department in the Ministry told us," Hermione nodded, "Do you think it's significant?"
"I do," Dumbledore nodded, "It is my understanding that Harry's very particular magic, some of which comes from that of a phoenix's feather, may have reacted to the healing magic in your potion."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
"You have shown aptitude for Phoenician magic before." Dumbledore said, "You once told me you'd apparated out of anti-apparation wards in a burst of flame. That, my dear boy, is not wizard magic."
"I'd only done that a few times and they were accidental when I was under extreme pressure." Harry said, "I doubt I could do it again consciously."
"You should try to learn," Dumbledore said, "The only magic you seem unable to use is the Phoenix Tears healing ability. But with the Maiden's tears, which is a similar form of magic, mixing with the chaotic magic of your core…Well, it is my belief the magic from that vial awoke the phoenix fire so that instead of dying you would be re-born as a Phoenix is re-born…out of your ashes."
"It's how I found you," Hermione said, "After the blast I thought you were dead but there was a pile of ash at the bottom of the crater and the water from the lake washed over you revealing you as you are now. Healed. Even if you're a bit magically exhausted."
Harry took the vial of glass shards from Dumbledore and stared at them in awe. Madam Sinistra smiled at Dumbledore and left quietly as her name was called by another professor.
"So it's us," Ron said carefully, "We're the reason your alive…Mate," He grinned, "You owe us."
Hermione elbowed Ron impatiently, "The Maiden's tears just did exactly what we'd intended it to do all along Ron. He doesn't owe us, it was a gift."
Harry smiled quietly and held the shards close to him, gently. They were all the more precious now that he understood what they represented.
"When I was trying to destroy Voldemort there was a moment when he and I were one complete being," Harry said quietly, "I knew him as I knew myself and vice versa. I felt him die before me; it's when I began to let myself go. I could feel myself dying when I felt him grab onto something that I thought had split the last time I exploded and Dumbledore, this is important," Harry looked at Dumbledore slowly his eyes level with the older man, "When I was a baby and my Mother saved me Voldemort tried to kill me but he was doing something else as well. He was almost killed just like this time only that time he implanted something inside of me."
Ron and Hermione looked at each other alarmed while Dumbledore leaned forward expectantly. Harry clutched the vial tighter as he stared at Dumbledore opening the shields in his mind completely so Dumbledore could fully understand.
"I don't feel him anymore. We are not connected in the way we were because the thing he implanted inside of me he took back to save himself," Harry said, "You understand what that is don't you Albus? He took back his soul. I know what it was he did, I know how, but tell me Albus, do you know what a Horcrux is?"
Albus's face had turned white as a sheet while Harry spoke and he reached out shaking hands to rest them on Harry's shoulders, "I did not know it was possible," He said quietly, "For a piece of a soul to transfer into another living being. I suspected he'd done it once…but-."
"Not once," Harry interrupted, "He didn't just do it once. Tom Riddles Diary might have been the first but he didn't stop there."
"What?" Dumbledore asked, "To split the soul even twice would be unbelievably damaging-!"
"Seven," Harry said, "Most of the memories and knowledge from him is fading but I know he did it seven times." He closed his eyes, "I know of the snake, myself, the diary, a ring, a…a…bloody hell it's hard to pinpoint what half of these things mean let alone what they are. Have you ever had two heads completely join at once?" He shook his head, "It's very disorientating."
"I imagine so," Albus nodded gravely.
"We need to find them Albus," Harry said quietly, "We need to destroy them."
"Yes I'll begin the research," Albus stated gravely.
Harry grabbed his arm a look of panic on his face, "He feels as Slytherins heir he has a right to the school. Pieces important to the school are his to place pieces of himself in. I can't remember…one's a chalice, a, a, circlet? Crown? The ring, the ring has a connection to Slytherin but don't wear it, don't drink from it. Bugger." He slouched sweat breaking out on his forehead, "I can't remember…"
"It's all right Harry," Albus said squeezing his shoulders, "I'll continue researching and as I do I'll let you know. The memories will return."
"I think they'll fade," Harry said with a frown, "There's nothing holding us together anymore. Nothing keeping them in my head."
"I'm sure with reminders the memory of the memories will return," Dumbledore said with a mischievous smile.
Harry frowned, "I don't speak Yoda."
Dumbledore looked at the three children his eyes grave, "You must not talk about any of this to anyone do you understand? This information is highly sensitive. If Voldemort found out more people then he or Harry knew about his Horcruxes we might lose any chance of destroying them."
"And they have to be destroyed if we're ever going to kill him." Harry said quietly staring at his friends as intensely as he'd stared at Dumbledore.
"Why?" Hermione asked, "What are they?"
"They're his insurance policy," Harry said, "He split his soul and placed the pieces in objects that he then hid so that as long as they exist so will he. As long as they exist, he can come back no matter how many times we kill him."
"That's not a comforting thought," Ron muttered.
"No," Harry agreed, "It's not."
"So what do we do?" Ron asked.
"For now?" Dumbledore sighed, "Nothing. The three of you have experienced true trials and need time to recover. The summer should do that properly. That and a vacation, perhaps a remote beach somewhere away from England." Dumbledore smiled at Hermione, "Your Mother's family has use of a Villa in Greece do they not? Perhaps you would suggest that as a nice place to heal to her."
Hermione chuckled, "Oh she'll love that. She hasn't spoken to Aunt May in years." She frowned, "How would you know about it?" She asked suspiciously.
"I merely mentioned to your mother how it was such a shame the three of you didn't have anywhere quiet to go to recover your strength," Dumbledore smiled, "If she mentioned it I wouldn't put it past her to have spoken about it to the Weasley's as well…"
Harry raised an eyebrow at Hermione who frowned sharing his look.
"If all goes well this summer I'll be seeing you three next fall for term." Dumbledore stood, "For now though I wish you the best of luck and quiet healing."
"Thank you professor," Harry said quietly.
"If you remember anything vital let me know," Dumbledore smiled, "My floo will be open all summer."
Harry nodded and with one more pat on the shoulder Dumbledore left the trio to whisper amongst themselves.
Harry stood on the needle of his crater hands in pockets of his blue jeans staring out at the water. A Ministry Disaster Reversal team was on its way to repair the damage done to the school grounds. The spot Harry stood in may no longer exist after the summer nor would the crater he'd been re-born in. There was talk about Plans of placing something in the spot to commemorate the occasion but Harry felt it shouldn't be commemorated. A lot of returning students wouldn't want a reminder of the breach in their schools security.
Harry understood why Voldemort hadn't killed more professors; he'd thought one of them might know where the ancient anchor for the wards was buried. Turns out there were four anchors, each one held to the earth by an ancient piece of one of each of the Founders. Morbidly Harry wondered what body part they'd used for the wards but understood the tomb was off limits to all but the Headmaster.
"Oi, Harry!" Ron called from behind him walking with his brothers and sister down to a car parked very near the water, "Come on, Hermione's parents are waiting in London. We need to go."
Harry nodded at his brother and looked back at the lake memorizing the sight of the terrible damage he'd wrought. It was important to remember because it made him more aware of himself on an intellectual level. Now he knew his limits mentally and magically. He could only move forward from there.
He pulled out a newspaper that he'd rolled up and placed in his back pocket earlier that morning. The Daily Prophet had spoken in length about the resignation of the Minister and the first page was filled with election candidates but that's not what had pulled his attention when he'd received it earlier that morning. There was a piece that was done in length about Dolores Umbridge by Maria Snyder. The piece was filled with accurate quotes and testimonies from his fellow students and some strange details about Umbridge herself that Harry didn't want to know how Maria had procured it. Umbridge really was going to be locked away for a long time after such an article and the "diary" that Maria had somehow procured would insure that the Toad would never hold a decent job for the rest of her days.
Harry smiled grimly at the thought and at the irony that he'd made friends with a reporter.
"Harry!" Hermione yelled from inside the car sticking her head out of a window, "For Merlin's sake we need to go!"
"All right!" Harry yelled back, "Give me a bloody minute!" He smiled a little and raised the newspaper up engulfing it in bright yellow flames.
He dropped the burning roll of papers into the water at his feet and shoved his hands back into his pocket. There was enough weight on his shoulders not to have to carry that baggage along with him. He took his time walking to the car much to the protest of the occupants inside.
When he reached the car the door was thrown open for him and he laughed, "It's a magic car Hermione I'm sure your parents won't be waiting long."
"You no longer have the excuse of being a gimp," She snapped back, "You could have hurried it up a bit."
"Ah," Harry grinned, "But seeing as how I can claim insanity, my feeble mind would not permit me to leave without a few sentimental goodbyes."
Ginny snorted across from him, "He has a point," She grinned, "I doubt his feeble mind could handle leaving."
"If he starts drooling and wetting his pants I claim no responsibility for him." Hermione grumbled, "That'll be Ron's job."
"Oi-," Ron began.
"Hold on kids!" Arthur Weasley called from the front and pushed a small purple button on the dash.
With a loud "bang!" the car jumped forward jerking all of its passengers into their seats the car vanishing from the school grounds too quickly for the naked eye to see.
Well, there it is, then end of this book. Thank you all who kept with this story and reviewed it. It's been a true pleasure. The second book is titled "After the Second Rise: The Broken soul". I'll be posting the first chapter soon, but I'd like to post two chapters at once so it might be a little while. Any questions? e-mail me. Criticisms? Please review and keep it constructive. No one likes to spread negativity. See you in the next book. :)