Title: "Play Tragic"

Title: "Play Tragic"

Author: Shaitanah

Rating: PG-13 (major angst and generally depressing atmosphere)

Timeline: post-DH

Summary: HP/LVHP/TMR The truth is revealed. Harry builds a new world only to realize he has built a prison. But the truth comes a few seconds too late. Please R&R!

Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling.

A/N: Thank you so very much for your reviews! I love you all, guys! I know it was weird and confusing, so here's part 2. Hopefully, it will clear things up. The fic is a two-shot, so this is the conclusion.

Special Thanks: to my wonderul beta Mizstorge.


Part 2

"I am the Architect. I created the Matrix."

Matrix Reloaded

Journal Entry: Hermione Granger

"I never considered the notion of ethic to be applicable to someone like Lord Voldemort. That's why I didn't protest when a group of scientists from St Mungo's suggested that he take part in the Echo project. It's an advanced scientific magic experiment that involves profound exploration of brain functions, rapid eye movement and dream control. It's been five years. Fresh out of the med school, I was asked to join the project.

I never told Harry that it was one of the main reasons I chose to become a doctor. I had to keep an eye of both of them since Harry had grown so deeply involved in it as well.

We chose Harry as a model. We projected his image into Voldemort's dreams, allowing them to form a common dream world which would give Voldemort the impression he was still awake and active. We thought we'd represent the War. Then Voldemort's fantasy began to take over. We encountered an obstacle we could not overcome. His mind refused to give in to our studies. We were coerced to let go and watch passively for the time being while he created his own reality, that of Harry's dream.

He dreamt he had won and taken Harry as a prisoner. He reversed his own condition (which gave me an idea he might have been aware of his predicament) and constructed an inner dream world for Harry out of his coma-induced visions.

He watched passively over Harry's life until he got bored. The Harry in his visions seemed to have learnt that he was sleeping and demanded that the world was taken down. He also seemed to have formed a close personal bond with Voldemort which is a matter of great concern for me since it affects the real Harry as well.

Yesterday the Echo project was temporarily shut down due to an unforeseen mistake and a threat of accidentally waking the test subject up. The effect of the curse that served fundamental to the comatose condition seems to have worn off in five years so we have to maintain the coma artificially. I don't know if we will ever resume the experiments. Even in a dream-initiated lucid dream it is highly dangerous to deal with Voldemort. I'm scared for Harry, he seems to lose control of his emotions…"


Harry leaned against the white hospital wall and watched Hermione fill in the last chart. The place was full of odd scents and blissfully empty of needles, scalpels and all the sharp metallic objects that were necessary at common Muggle hospitals. Harry had never heard of scientific magic before the start of the Echo project and was initially intrigued and puzzled by it. The Echo test centre happened to be something between St Mungo's and a Muggle hospital. Disappointing.

"We had kids back in that world, you know," Harry murmured. Hermione pretended not to have heard him. He repeated it louder and elaborated: "Ginny and I. There were three. Two boys and a girl."

Hermione finished the chart, put it away and turned to look at him. It was hard to tell whether she wanted him to go on or to shut up.

"So did you and Ron," he said quietly.

He knew he shouldn't have said that. Hermione pursed her lips and uttered in a steely voice: "All right, Harry, that's enough," and motioned for him to sit down on the bed. He did so and she proceeded to examine him. The examination went on in silence. A soft glow on the tip of Hermione's wand mesmerized Harry.

"You're exhausted," she said poignantly. "You have drained yourself with these watches. We never asked you to give it so much time. You've grown too attached to him. I don't know what it is that fascinates you so much: some ridiculous idea that you can change him or the fact that you can reconstruct anything in that world, but it's dangerous, Harry! The person you associate with there is only a projection. He's not the one who might wake up here!"

"I don't feel so lonely there," he answered frankly. "I feel needed. Even if it's only as a prisoner."

"You're doing this because you believe you can re-write history. But that's impossible!" Hermione snapped, her voice became a scream. "Do you understand me? You're never getting Ginny back and I'm never going to see Ron again!"

He wanted to slap her. He had to look away from her in order to restrain himself. He had never been this angry with her.

"I spoke to Doctor Otis this morning," Harry informed her casually. "He believes the experiment may be resumed in a couple of days."

With that, he got up and walked to the door. He thought he heard a restrained sob from Hermione. He could relate to her condition only too well. Like her, he had lost his beloved. Like her, he had only person to turn to and he couldn't believe she was going to let him down.

"What were their names?" Hermione asked quietly before he walked away.

Harry smiled sadly. "Rose and Hugo."


Dream

I roll my piece of parchment and place it carefully on the edge of my desk along with others. The teacher swings his wand and the parchment levitates towards his desk. We are free to go.

I halt by the door, looking for someone, and I know he's already out. Of course.

He greets me with his usual arrogant smile that goes so well with his handsome features, his dark intelligent eyes, his soft hair. Everything about him is perfect. Even if he had any flaws, I couldn't remember them, that's why here, in my mind he is the most beautiful person in the world.

"Never try to copy from me again, Potter," he says harshly and teasingly at the same time.

He's not a good person. He's competitive, and strong, and self-centered. I couldn't change that because that's how I knew him. It would have been wrong to change him too much.

But for some reason, I think he likes me. That's why despite being a typical loner, he doesn't drive me away. He welcomes my presence like something standing to reason. We never talk much, but we sit together in class and at dinner, our beds are next to each other, and sometimes he comes to watch me play Quidditch (it's a habit I can't give up even in another world).

I promised Hermione I'd be more careful. I sleep regularly at home so that I don't switch off on duty and I take a two-month break in summer when Tom goes back to Riddle Manor for holidays. I saw his parents once. I was captivated by his father's startling beauty and his mother's smile, suddenly warm and caring for a Gaunt.

This year, now that we've taken our OWLs, Tom leans into me and whispers conspiratorially: "So, Potter, any plans for the summer?"

This is likely to kill me and invoke some worldwide disaster; nevertheless, I look at him boldly and ask: "Got any suggestions, Riddle?"

Back in the real world it's time to leave. I smile at Hermione and give the key to the lab back to her. I wonder if she honestly believes it can stop me. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look healthier than I did during the first phase of the experiment. I dare hope I'll look like that in autumn as well because I am still afraid to lose Hermione to the only thing can truly tear us apart: dreams.

"It's beautiful here," I breathe shyly as we enter the Manor. Tom shrugs casually. I bet he wants to point out how accustomed he is to all that luxury; to me, this unnecessary gesture seems quite touching.

Days go by. I don't ask myself what I'm doing anymore. I talk to Tom almost as honestly as I talk to myself. I don't miss my parents, I don't miss my friends, I don't miss Ginny. The last face that remains haunting me is Hermione's, but I know she will soon be erased as well. I've created this for myself, not for him. I can't lie anymore.

The only thing that justifies me is that he is also my creation.


He presses me against the soft drapery on the wall and brushes his hands along my body. He leans into me; his lips slide down my neck, his breath lies in warm steam upon my skin. He looks up quickly, flashes me a grin and captures my lips in a gentle, yet demanding kiss. I forget that we are standing in the hallway. Any minute anyone (including his mother) might pass us and this isn't exactly what I want them to see us doing.

Nevertheless Tom always chooses places like this. He probably views it as another complex challenge.

And so I shudder against him, tearing off the clothes, as my body is desperate to feel him, skin to skin. He curls his fingers around my wrist and presses my hand against the wall. Our fingers intertwined, we move in fever of kisses, bites, scorching sighs until my throat is sore with harsh moaning, my lips are swollen with kisses and I'm pretty sure I'll never forget the feeling of him inside me.

The world comes to an end insensibly.

We stand under the rain, half-naked, full of energy and deliriously happy. Tom squints with pleasure as he feels the soft streaks of rain run down his cheeks. He holds his hands out and laughs quietly.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" he asks. I grin in return. "Too bad it's not real."

Something inside me breaks. Not immediately, no. It's more like a gentle swaying into the abyss. You know that something horrible has already happened, yet your mind still refuses to register it.

With a great effort, I keep my face devoid of any emotions.

"How long have you known?"

"Two years," Tom replies. I swallow a gasp. "I like it here, though. But there's one thing I don't understand." He sucks on his index finger, licking off a droplet of rain. It tastes like pole. Tom looks dangerously adorable that way. He fixes his dark eyes upon me and asks: "Aren't you tired of this game, Harry?"

There's a lump in my throat. I move away from him slowly. "I need to go."

"No, you don't."

Now he's laughing. I feel like I've woken up. I've been his hostage all this time. Every time I thought I was in control he was getting closer and closer to me, weaving the net that would keep me here. How could I be so stupid!?

"I don't know what you're doing with me up there." He glances at the sky. It's a funny habit, incredibly human – to blame anything on the heavens. Right now the Echo is his heaven. "But I can tell that you've exceeded your limit of such visits when you accepted my invitation. You're weak, Harry, and you're growing weaker with each passing moment. Is it even worth it? Did you think you could change me or something? I'm grateful to you, though. Without you it would have been boring as hell here."

I peer at him, hoping to find but a hint of He Who Must Not Be Named in him. But no scarlet eyes, no slit-like nostrils, no papery skin. I've known this boy for years now. I've known him from the Chamber of Secrets all the way back to my childhood; from Professor Dumbledore's studies; from our sunny days at the illusionary Hogwarts.

"We lie to the ones we love most of all," Tom shrugs. I wonder what he means. He winks at me and holds out his hand. "Come on, Potter. If by your design I'm young again, I might as well enjoy it for now."

I follow him as though in a dream. 'Idiot,' I chastise myself weakly. 'It is a dream. If you had just listened to Hermione… Perhaps your problem is that you love too much. You love Ginny, even the memory of her, so much that it still hurts after – what… 10 years? You love Hermione and faintly hope you can forget Ginny and she can forget Ron and you two can just… You love the ghost you helped create. And you never loved yourself enough.'

"Where are we going?" I ask impassively.

Tom takes time to reply. I can feel a soft smile spreading on his lips.

"Home."


In you the wars and the flights accumulated.

From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.

Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.

The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pablo Neruda. 'A Song of Despair'

January 24 – February 14, 2008