JK Rowling owns Harry Potter and all that goes with him. Also, I am not JK Rowling.
Jan Werich was a Czech actor, humourist and philosopher. The ideas in Foreword are his – I only put them together to create food for thought.
I also have to mention Jean Genet, whose Pompes Funèbres inspired parts of chapters Sons of Sun, Son of Nefertum and Effervescence.
Warnings: male-male sexual situations, chan, character death, suicidal tendencies, purple patches, spoilers for books up to OotP + Pantogogue + And yet…
A/N: As I stated in the summary, this is a side-story to Pantogogue, the prequel to And yet…. It is Harry's take on the happenings since 1st of November until 7th of December. Metamorphosis at Dawn has nine chapters plus the Foreword and is already completed.
xMetamorphosis at Dawn
Nobody can undo anything. You can't wake the dead, you can't take back the lost years, and sleepless nights of fear you can't turn into sweet slumber of carefreedom.
Our memory is short. Life is short; time as such does not exist. What is the point then? The point is our life – happiness, beauty, freedom, love… The human memory is also a labyrinth. And lots of things get lost in there.
In a labyrinth the man sees reality from all sides.
Man does not need to be a Christian; it's enough to be but a man – so that, in the memory of the helpless and poor infant somewhere in the shed – so that he would contemplate. So that he would contemplate that the little human was born on the flight from brutal power, on the flight from stupidity – the sister of power, and so that all the beautiful and humane things, thoughts, knowledge, freedom must be hidden from the power, that they are born on the flight, but they won't stop being born – because they are born of love.
The point remains that every man must have his own prayer, his own pater noster – whether he invokes substance, work, or God. But he must be anchored to something, feel it as his purpose and goal.
Pulsapientia of Mr Jan Werich
The rain is falling heavily on the land. It turns the road into mud crossed with strands of miry water; the ground moves when stepped on and I lose balance and end up falling into the dirt. The linen shirt I have on, once white, becomes covered with brown splotches; the rare lighter spots indicate where the cloth has been too wet to absorb any other liquid.
I kneel and turn my filthy face up towards the rain, letting it wash away the mud. It leaves but a few veins of brown water, which I ignore, as they would just recreate themselves seconds after having been smeared.
It is a good day, good day for nature as it rights itself. Just like the mud on my face, the stains are washed away, and come morning the site will be wild, untouched green, proclaiming (less than truthfully) innocence of human infestation. This is a good place. As good as many and better than most…
My hair is sticking to my face and unnecessarily blurring my vision yet worse. I try to put the sloppy streams away, more or less successfully. I could get up and walk further, but why bother? I am out of sight from both Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, the mud road I've slipped on leads to an abandoned cave, and while here I am not shielded from the rain (I don't mind the rain all that much, really), at least it's a nice place to die. And I don't have to get up.
I look around, absently noting my distinct lack of interest, but I figure I, of all people, should have an idea about what kind of place is going to become the site of death of the Boy Who Lived – oh gods, that pseudonym makes for some very awkward puns. It's alright, I think. A forest starts not far away, less than twenty yards. The steady downpour blurs dark green hills. Boulders, light grey on a sunny day have been coloured dark grey by the water and green by moss. I would love it, if not for the mud road. A perfect place for a memorial (because they will build one. I know).
But I have long since stopped seeking perfection, and this place will most definitely do. I pull out my wand and Summon a random piece of wood. I could use the wand itself, but I have too much respect for a companion who has kept me for more than five years. I know I am not easy to deal with. Merlin and every wizard and witch in Britain know, too. Perhaps I am too bitter. Perhaps Snape is right to pity me – or whatever other ailment overcame him. Maybe he lost a bet…
I muse about Snape and his eerie, suspicious kindness toward me as I draw a circle in the mud. It's not an easy shape to draw, a circle. But this one wants to be drawn, and it takes truly minimal effort to manage it. Its diameter approximates to my height – five feet four inches, at the most. I select a point on the perimeter. This direction I want to face as I die. Not much to see there – shades of grey, falling water, mud.
I think that is a much better last sight than what I could hope to have in battle against Terrordemort. Stupid nickname, I know, I just relish the imagination of his face after he would be addressed as such. Might be worth the try… but not from me. No, I don't get to see it. Hopefully, no one else will either. Anyway, this is a way to end it all without the senseless deaths and facing off my arch-nemesis and whatever very romantic crap. It's much safer, too. And much better view. I prefer mud to blood.
And there is another ton of puns that would leave Pansy Parkinson in stitches (if she wasn't dead) coming from Draco's mouth (if he wasn't kind of converted), but which I don't feel like exploiting. I estimate the position of the other four apexes and draw the lines that connect them. The channels fill with rainwater and I throw the wood away. Not going to need it again.
I put the bundle of my robes on the ground, careful not to disturb the drawn pattern, and undo the knot. There, in front of me, are splayed its meagre contents.
Six candles and six candlesticks (I did hesitate about the pattern quite long), a knife, Hedwig's feather – oh, Hedwig… I wish you were here, I wish you could disapprove of me in whatever painful way might strike your fancy, one last time… yet, were it not for your sacrifice, I would not be here, and you would not await being avenged… Anyway, the pseudo-bag also holds an aquamarine, a potion I spent the night brewing, and a mirror. It's actually a rather simplified version of the ritual that I am going to perform, but nothing indicates it should be less powerful.
I drip the vile concoction (it doesn't even have a right name, an obscure thing thought up by a crazy, evil, but not powerful enough wizard) into the ducts. It dissolves in the rainwater and slowly, almost imperceptibly, the star and the circle turn white. While this happens, I plant the candlesticks into the mud at each of the apexes; they are elegant things – spirals of some kind of black metal. Each one is crowned with a candle now, charmed to anchor a sphere impenetrable to water.
I pull off my boots and stash them on the side of the road. They are followed by my trousers, underwear and, eventually, the mud-stained shirt. I leave the robe and my glasses there on the pile and walk back into the circle, pretending that I am not naked. It's a stupid requirement, I think, especially when thousand other things are not specified at all – doing this in the middle of nowhere while it is raining was my choice. I set the mirror next to one of the candles – the one I'll be facing. It would have worked with water surface, except that it couldn't have been disturbed by the rain. I could have charmed it, too, but this way it is simply more efficient. I just need a tool used for scrying – not that I would see anything in it, but it has to do with reaching old Tom via spiritual plane and what not. It's like my scar, just on the outside.
"Right…" I mumble to myself, kneeling in the centre of the star and waving my wand in lazy loops. Five little happy yellow flames spring to life. "Let's correct a mistake from fifteen years ago…" I cast my wand out of the circle and hold the stone in both hands.
"Sal' youm yuchop, revesam malov…" I grimace at my accent – even to me, born and raised English, it sounds maladroit. As though my tongue was the wrong shape… I chant on nevertheless, undeterred, knowing full well that the incantation is merely the carrier of intent, and I have enough intent to eventually work with no incantation at all.
The aquamarine heats up to the point when it's scalding my hands, but sacrifices have to be made and I was never foolish enough to believe that simple death would be all that it takes. Something slices, once, each of the tips of my fingers, and something else draws on my chest. I keep my eyes on the mirror at all times. It is a compact darkness, even with the drops falling on it, trickling down the black nothing. The stone bursts into flame and disappears in a puff of something soft, and I lose my balance. All my power is drained from me; I hang onto life with just will… my eyes never leave the empty mirror even as my head hits the ground, painting my hair and cheek and three quarters of the rest of my body murky brown.
This is the end… of Tom Riddle.
His taking me with him is a mere detail – one that will sell newspapers and later on books. Tomorrow, people will celebrate. There might even be falling stars in Kent. And nine months later, a whole new generation of tiny wizards and witches… Gods, so worth dying for.
I hear voices now… distant, yelling, but I don't understand through the beating rainfall. It could be my father and Sirius, calling for me… I would have hoped for mum, but there is an unmistakable masculine quality…
Suddenly it feels like my left leg was ripped off and I scream. The blackness in the mirror fades into dull grey of the sky, spattered with drops of equally grey water. I draw my limbs close to my body – yes, even the left leg, which still seems to be attached – and jerk and scream again as the same feeling shoots through my left arm.
"Harry! Can you hear me?!" That voice is so not my father or Sirius, not even Snape, which was the only person I would have thought able to stop me if he got it into his rock-hard skull. It's someone familiar, but I don't care… it was too soon! Voldemort is still alive, still there to terrorise people, and I'm all but dead… there won't be another chance. They ripped it all away from me, stole my destiny, robbed me of my single chance on absolution, and I shall die now the death of a sinner – which I am, of course, but I had hoped to make up for at least a part of it.
"War, can you break-"
The inquiry is cut off as more than one pair of hands rolls me over on my back, and I see a blurred face leaning over me. They've got blue, blue eyes and very dark red hair, coloured probably by the rainwater, plastered all over their wet face. The hair is long and drips. The skin is pale with cold, lips colourless, bluish.
"Harry, can you hear me?" he repeats, not as loudly as before. I can, but I don't see a reason to respond, even if I had any energy left. I have been dead inside for a while, it might as well end now, before the depression of my failure hits me truly.
"Take him to the safe-house. We'll figure the rest there…" half-suggests, half-orders another voice. I see the blurred face over me nod just before my eyelids fall shut.
"Find his wand…"
"Come on, Harry, wake up…"
I comply, although not quite willingly. Opening my eyes is a struggle on its own; I can't do anything more. Breathing takes all my energy…
The place I am in is comfortably warm. I seem to be lying in a bed, wrapped in not so soft sheets, but I have had far, far worse, so I don't complain. Not that I could if I wanted to. The ceiling is wooden, or at least I guess it to be, since I don't have my glasses. Another thing I can't help.
"That's good," the same voice says encouragingly. I don't think I recognise it, and I'm currently unable to look at the speaker. "Do you think you could eat?" he – I'm guessing it is a he – asks. My lack of answer has to be enough for him.
"Right. Didn't think so." There is a lot of rustling and a sound like the bursting of a particularly big and fat soap bubble. "Stay as relaxed as you can – this might be uncomfortable, but shouldn't hurt…" It sounds too ominous to my liking. If at least I knew at whose mercy I am, it might not be as difficult but… my body spasms… my eyes close…
"No! Don't go to sleep!"
I jolt to full awareness the moment the door slams. I can hear wind in the distance, somewhere outside, locked out. There is a presence at my side, fingers tracing my hand, but I still can't move. Can't even look… though breathing comes easier than before.
"Why is he still unconscious?" I discern a hint of panic. This man is one that I know, though, only to recall where from… everything seems hazy… I don't even remember how I got here.
"He came around for a while. Not strong enough yet." The voice is oddly melodious, thrumming, as if several people spoke at once. Definitely not human. "He won't die…" And definitely worried. Worried about me… Means they're not likely to hand me over to… to… oh, yes, Voldemort. That would be bad… and now to remember why…
"Not his body. But his mind-"
"His mind will adapt. He's flexible enough. That's not what worries me." The non-human almost-song washes over me, not unlike a healing spell. I crave more, even as the fingertips, which I estimate belong to the same non-human, trail past my wrist onto my forearm.
"I'm worried about his soul, War." Who calls himself 'War'? Moreover, who that I know calls himself 'War'? That is a pretty stupid nickname, especially in the light of circumstances… which I can't seem to recall clearly enough.
I suppose I should be more worried about my soul, though, blackened thing that it is. There is not much that can be done for the twisted charred abomination. Nothing to mend, only a lot of bitterness and failure to drown in. I must have done a lot of really bad things.
"What can be done for him?"
"I'm not sure… what we do for anything wounded. Warmth, food, safety, and tangible loving care."
"I think that between us, we have enough care…"
Think I'm drifting again…
"…for ten of him, War."
"How long?" I mumble when I realise that I am once again awake. My memories are becoming clearer, but they don't feel like mine. I feel completely detached from them, as if the ritual and near-death experience happened to someone else. The occurrences leading up to that still remain hazy, but right now I'm too overwhelmed by emotions to concentrate on regaining my memory. I'm pissed off at these people for what they did to me, even though they seemed to have been unable to act differently, judging by the talk of love they've had before.
Strange, how no one noticed me up to this point, until I was dying naked in the mud – no, that's not quite true. There was someone… someone who noticed. Someone who helped me go on as far as I could… but… I can't seem to remember them.
It strikes me that no one answered my inquiry. There is no noise, no sounds of footsteps… have they – whoever they are – left me alone? Is love truly but a word?
What is going on?
I force my eyes to open, and my head to turn away from the wall, so that I can see the room. It's poky, decorated in browns, containing the bed I lie in, a table, a bench, and a rug. The window is completely covered by curtains.
It's also very empty of people.
I'm on the verge of slumbering because of sheer boredom when the door opens. This time, with the advantage of my re-positioning, I face the comer. It is…
Actually I have no idea. He has Weasley hair, clashing smartly with an outlandish grey and white outfit. Without glasses, I can't discern more.
He meets my open eyes and freezes in shock.
"Harry?" he whispers, and a moment later he kneels at the foot of the bed in a fit of controlled panic. "Peace, Harry's awake!" he calls.
Hurried footsteps come from the next room, and second red-haired man comes in. I blink.
"That's well," he says in the melodious multi-voice, projecting an aura of calm. I can see why he would be called 'Peace'. Still, it doesn't explain who they are.
"How long?" I manage to repeat my question from a few hours ago. My throat is parched.
"You were unconscious for almost three days," the first man says while the second one produces a pitcher of clear water. He gently puts one hand under my head, pulls me up a little, and brings a glass to my lips. It's cold and wet. A tiny piece of heaven.
"You scared us." Yeah, I could hear that. They scared me, too. Still would, I just don't have the time to think about it. "You're through the worst, though." That's supposed to be something good, I guess. Funny – doesn't feel good.
"You don't know-"
I wouldn't ask if I knew. Damn… Waiting for hours took its toll. I can stay awake long enough to hear the answer. I can…