PART THREE:
The Architect, Pt One

"I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?"
~ Chuang Tzu

I.

One night, she woke up screaming in her bed.

She was burning.

Hands grabbed at her shoulders, pushing her down. She fought against it, thrashing and twisting, her hot skin writhing like the flames she had dreamed of. She didn't want to lie down again, to go back down there to where her dreams grew lives of their own. They spoke of the future, and the future was-

"It's alright," he was saying. "It's alright."

But it wasn't.

Her own eyes stared out at her from the flames, and she could feel them looking at her still, even though the dream was over.

(-::-)

He surfaced briefly, burning.

In his head and in his chest, a foreign rhythm of heartbeats sounded out impossibly loud (impossibly strange).

(-::-)

As a student on Gallifrey, there came a time when she was expected to look into the Untempered Schism. It was a formal event- a passage into the life of a Time Lord. To stand at the brink of the eye and look into its heart was to see all of time, in its most raw and unstoppable form. When she was told to Look, to See, she lifted her eyes and met with forever.

That was where she saw it. The image that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Time was wild, and it consumed…

A teacher in the Academy once said something which would become a famous quote. That the people who looked into the Schism could be divided into three groups: those who ran, those who were inspired, and those who were driven mad.

She was never quite sure whether she had been driven mad or not.

Time would consume all the universe.

Everything she did forever after was marred by a burning presence, which stared out from behind her eyes. It felt like there was a hot flame eternally burning there and, every now and again, she would even catch a faint smell of something smouldering away.

It was only a matter of… time.

Some years later, she finished the Academy and was an official Time Lord, by both initiation and education. She had seen into eternity, and now she understood its rules and flows. As had been decided many thousands of years ago, this was how a Time Lord was created.

Like all Time Lords, she went into service to help her people. She became a grand designer, a creator of ships and spiralling towers. All of it going ever upwards. She took a fitting name- she called herself The Architect. As more time went by (although who could say quite how much in this backwardsforwards, a-day-in-a-second sort of existence?) there was little on Gallifrey that she had not personally had a hand in designing in some way. The curves and arches, the dips and the grooves streamed from her mind, and found form outside of electric impulses, always new and wonderful. (Some species said arrogant and boastful. She didn't take it as an insult- all that meant was that she knew her own people.)

She was fixed to the planet by roots made of the strongest, most complex metals in the universe.

Then, there came a whisper.

Then there came a shriek.

There was war on Gallifrey's doorstep, and Time Lords were being cut down on front lines which extended across both the universe and time itself. The great ships were destroyed, even as fast as she helped design better ones- fierce warships in place of streamlined craft for the time vortex. Her own TARDIS- so lovingly grown over a thousand years and more, with visits to the field every other day to watch and keep-an-eye-on-it (even though she never planned to travel anywhere or when in it- space was a dangerous unknown, and time was the greatest destroyer of all)- was finally pressed into battle-regalia so awe-inspiring (arrogant) it ought to of frightened their foes into retreat from simply being seen when it arrived into battle.

But The Architect never went into battle.

(-::-)

When he wondered where he was, the part of his mind that sparked and shimmered in ways it never had before answered simply, TARDIS.

When he wondered what TARDIS was, there was a part of him that knew, that fought against the part that didn't, and told him, Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. A time ship. A space ship. His ship.

"Who are you?" Voldemort had demanded.

The answer was, he didn't know.

(-::-)

He was called the Engineer, and they had been working together for over four hundred years.

(His mind/Her mind/ Their mind said: Engineer was a bad translation for a very complicated Gallifreyan word. In a society as advanced as the Time Lords, there are many types of engineers for many types of machines and devices and ships. In the Gallifreyan language, the word for his name was much more specific than simply, Engineer. He died even before he/she/we left Gallifrey, so the importance of his exact name was moot, really, but it was something that did still matter. It was important.

And so: he worked primarily on the time cortex in time ships- the most delicate and important of all parts.)

"Let's get married soon," she said to him one day, a tablet of plans held in her hands. They were both on their knees by the main cortex of her TARDIS, trying to design a system that would be less susceptible to blowing up when a TARDIS sustained too much damage. It would be a great step forward in the war movement. It would save many needlessly lost lives.

"A spring wedding on Venovax," he agreed.

The Engineer loved Venovax- a passion he had inherited from his father in turn. Their lives were wound in the threads of the planet's history, here and there and everywhere. The father had known he would have a son long before he even had a wife, just by reading historic journals. (This sort of behaviour was not approved of at all by the higher ups, and often severely punished, but it went on regardless most of the time by certain individuals. The Time Lords were not quite so removed from their empire-holding roots during the Dark Times as they liked to admit.)

"I'm not travelling all the way to Venovax to have a wedding I'll only have to redo when we get back here," the Architect informed him.

They both knew but didn't say that she wasn't likely to travel anyway, even if marriages amongst 'earlier peoples' were considered legally binding.

They both knew but didn't say that she was likely to go travelling whether she liked it or not because soon enough they would all be conscripted to the front lines.

"All right," the Engineer agreed. "A proper ceremony. Right after we've driven off the last of the Daleks. Err, and- ah hah, pass me the sonic spanner, please. You know, after the Ninth State War on Venovax, there was a massive increase in weddings. Thousands and thousands flocked to the Mother Mountain to be married in traditional style, even though they had regular cathedrals every old place. And all the babies a year later! They were all called Maraxim you know, even the boys, after the Queen who won the war!"

The Architect rolled her eyes as if in annoyance. But really she liked hearing about all these things she would never see. She wondered whether the mothers of Gallifrey would take part in a baby boom, or whether the high moral decorum of the place would prevent them from enjoying the peace (a continuing steady stream of clone babies- no booms in any of those systems).

"I wonder who all the babies will be named after on Gallifrey?" Engineer asked, once again almost reading her mind.

"Well, not Engineer, that's for sure," she joked. "It looks like it will take you all the war to rewire that single panel."

"My dear," he said, pushing another wire into place, "even if it takes all the war, your ship will be the safest of all the ones to travel in the Vortex!"

She smiled, and pressed her shoulder next to his as he continued to work. "I should expect so, since I so kindly offered her for testing…"

(-::-)

He started back to himself, as if from a dream, only to find himself in another dream.

The universe was burning. Golden threads of light that were stretched like rail tracks across the vast darkness of space were popping and snapping in the flames. And in the midst of it a figure stood, features cast into darkness despite the brilliance of the fire all around. He knew the figure was staring back at him. There was an insurmountable distance between them: they were stood nose to nose, breathing in the air the other breathed out.

He knew those eyes; they were his.

And so were the flames.

(-::-)

With a war as fierce as the one between the Daleks and the Time Lords, there was bound to be dissent amongst what should be done, and how to win.

Whether they would win.

"You must consider that we might be fighting a losing battle for Gallifrey!" The woman speaking was tall, and her bearing stern and set. Amongst the furious mutterings that surrounded her, she stood unaffected, resplendent in red and gold. She was certain of her words, even if the Council would never acknowledge the validity of the concern.

The Time Lords had remained unchallenged for too long. There was a lot they had forgotten about war.

"We will never abandon Gallifrey! This is our home! If we left it to fall to the Daleks, what would even be the point of continuing the war?" a Time Lord from the crowd spoke up.

"The Daleks are pushing further and further into our territory," the brunette tried once more, a wisp of hair drifting about her face as she glanced around at her fellow Time Lords. "My concerns are very real! If we continue to hold the Crucible so stubbornly, and will not even consider retreating and gathering our forces, then the war for our people is already lost!"

"If we lose the Crucible, the war will be lost!"

The woman shook her head, obviously annoyed. "You must show more concern for the people who cannot fight!" she insisted. "By refusing to even acknowledge that we could lose, we do not take into consideration evacuation plans, escape routes, planets for refugees-"

"It has not come to that!"

"It won't come to that!"

The woman pursed her lips, and allowed herself to be shouted down by a multitude of voices.

Across the grand amphitheatre, her brown eyes met with the Architect's own for a brief second, before the Architect looked away.

That same day, she and the Engineer sat in their bedroom watching news casts before they went to sleep.

"I heard they're planning to call back The Master," Engineer murmured into her ear, from where his chin was resting on her shoulder.

"I thought he hated all us Time Lords," Architect commented, repeating what little she knew about the infamous Time Lord. She wiggled her toes a little, to stop them from falling asleep.

"I'm pretty sure he still does," her almost other half replied, sounding amused. "I'm just not sure we have many other options if we want to hold the Crucible."

The Architect snorted. "I'm sure that's not what Nomara had in mind."

Nomara was a word from the Dark Time of the Universe. It meant soldier.

The Architect still couldn't get used to referring to her sister with such a name. Back before her sister had joined the Academy, a year ahead of herself, she had been a blonde haired, green eyed day-dreamer, who spent a whole summer once doing nothing but weaving red baskets out of river reeds. Now she had brown hair and eyes- a completely different face. There was nothing to indicate that the stern speaker who had stood up before the Time Lords earlier that day had ever been her sister.

"Your sister," the Engineer said. The inflection he put on the words said everything he didn't.

I don't think she's wrong, the Architect wanted to say, but didn't.

That night she dreamed her dream again. Where the universe was burning, and the threads of time themselves that had held the universe up collapsed inwards. Where in the midst of it all a figure stood, features shadowed and obscured, yet with eyes that met her own knowingly. Sensing her fear, and her despair.

She knew those eyes; they were hers.

And so were the flames.

(-::-)

He remembered the face of a smiling woman, framed with red hair and a golden light that made it look as if tiny flames were caged amongst the individual strands. He remembered a man that he now knew he would grow to resemble, though then his eyes had caught on the glasses, which made the brown eyes behind them look smaller than they actually were. He remembered a scream of surprise and biting cold, followed by eleven years of loathing. He remembered…

Some was good. Some was bad.

The glow that had once been another consciousness wanted to rip it apart, scatter it away, and replace it.

But he had fought hard for the best of it, and had suffered through the worst of it. And he would not let it go.

(-::-)

In the end, the 'other options' the Time Lords thought up proved to include a summoning of more people to take to space. A special operation was to take place that would hopefully wipe out the Daleks for good, and would ensure the safety of the Crucible.

The Engineer was one of them.

He had frowned at the summons on his tablet for a long while, even as the Architect stood nearby and chewed at her bottom lip. When he finally looked up, he smiled at her expression, "I'll be back soon. We'll get married after I've saved the day, and count how many babies get named after me. I think about four hundred and fifty-seven would be a good number, don't you? A whole generation of Engineers."

As ridiculous as ever.

"I don't think you'll get to fifty-seven."

"Maybe not, maybe not," he agreed, but with one eyebrow raised. "The Master is going on this little trip after all. I hear he's going to save the day this time. Though how many children do you think parents will want to give his name to? I'm not worried. Do I look worried…"

There was no wedding.

The news came back: all dead.

(And The Master fled, though no one knew that.)

After that, The Architect received her summons as well.

(-::-)

A TARDIS was a ship that could travel through all of time and space.

A Time Lord was- There was no exact definition.

The Architect was a Time Lord.

And Harry was The Architect.

(-::-)

The fighting was taking place close by now. Through the observatories on Gallifrey it was possible to see the flashes of light that indicated pitched battles were taking place almost constantly. News holograms became long, scrolling lists of the dead, Time Lords and civilian Gallifreyans alike. The Academy pushed up its learning schedule significantly. Students could go in and see the Schism that week and understand all there was to know about Time another week later. Yet there still weren't enough soldiers.

This was the reality of war.

Time would consume even the Lords of Time themselves. The Architect was sure of that now.

Even though she had always remained fixed, never using her ability to travel through time, turning herself to creating fixed points on the planet she had hoped to never leave, she had never managed to escape from the burning impression left on the back of her mind by looking into the Untempered Schism. Of something terrible. Of something in her own future.

Everyone saw something different when they looked into the Schism. Not everyone saw their own future, as the Architect had. The image had flashed through the time stream before her. Burning. Something burning. Though she hadn't physically seen herself, she had known it was her, the black figure solid against the wavering flames. Everything burning.

Not long before the Architect was due to leave for the front lines (protecting the Crucible, again), Nomara came to visit.

They hadn't spoken much since the death of their parents, since Nomara had gone to fight her battles and changed her face (three times, or maybe four); maybe it had even been before that, when the Architect had looked into the Schism and started dreaming. Or maybe even as early as when her sister had looked into forever and lost her name. After looking into the Schism, a Time Lord lost their name, a sort of natural time lock that removed it from existence, lifted them above Time as others knew it (helped along by Time Lord science). After her sister had looked into the Schism, the name had disappeared from the Architect's mind, leaving only emptiness where memories had previously sounded out the word. Yes, probably they had started drifting apart even then. All those months without a word for her sister, who seemed pleased even when the Architect was upset, because the Schism had left something else behind instead, and her sister had just been looking for a way to say what it was. (Nomara. Nomara. Soldier.)

The face her sister now wore naturally suited itself to grave expressions. When she appeared at Architect's workshop, she was frowning, her eyebrows drawn down in sharp lines, following the unhappy curve of her mouth.

"Architect," she said.

It sounded so formal. The Architect wanted to tell her sister the name that had been taken from her, but could not.

"Nomara," she said in return.

Brown eyes scanned the metal work-benches, which bore a merger of planning tablets, small metal models, mock up TARDIS cortexes, and boards of equations for block transfer mathematics. Husband and wife, almost.

The meeting was awkward, and over almost as soon as it had begun. They had exchanged pleasantries, and Architect had offered her refreshments and been turned down. She wondered whether Nomara had gotten what she came for, whatever that had been.

The next day, the Architect walked amongst the tall buildings, the roots that tied her to this planet, and looked skywards to the great dome that covered the city. And beyond it, the rest of the universe, which nightly now she dreamed of burning.

I must not, she thought. If I do, then somewhen, somehow I-

"Architect," Nomara said. "Do you have a moment?"

(-::-)

Harry Potter sat up, heaving a breath into his lungs as if it was the last one he would ever take. Two hearts pounded in his chest, beating out a quick four beats over and over. His limbs shook, just a little, and his head felt stuffed and muddled, though the problem was clearing. New impulses in his brain began firing, old and new interacting.

Above his head, a modified (safer) TARDIS column stood silent. Waiting.

II.

There is a lot that he doesn't understand about time. About how things which happened a million, million years ago can also have just occurred five minutes back, or are scheduled to happen half an hour from now (whenever now actually is). Or how time can't be measured by any one standard, because a day on earth is a year somewhere else, and in some places hasn't even been 'invented' yet.

So earth time is the first thing that Harry gives up. He acknowledges that it can't be completely linear, and starts to draw it the way the memories in his head show him, which is the best of time that anyone can draw- circles within other circles with lumps and bumps and twisty twirly bits sometimes linking them together (and sometimes not).

He imagines himself and Ginny as two of those circles sometimes, like cogs in a machine, each twirling the other round and round. He can't consider that they might turn out to be two (normal) circles, sat side by side with only one short part of the curve touching the other before they roll apart.

Leaving his own timeline for three days after his 'death', Harry is still able to rejoin it at the exact same moment he left, and battle Voldemort as if nothing had changed- as if the universe hadn't suddenly exploded wide open in his head.

He tries to ignore that when the Elder Wand flies into his hand, it feels cold, and empty.

The second to last thing Harry gives up is magic. This is mostly because he refuses to accept that he has changed so irrevocably that he will never use it the way he once did ever again, even as he gives up on other things one after another and another.

What place does Harry Potter have in the Wizarding World if he can't do magic, after all?

(-::-)

It is a few hours after the final battle that he gives up a second thing. This is something he doesn't mind avoiding much at all; Harry has never enjoyed medical check-ups. Madam Pomfrey proves to be incredibly difficult to avoid however, even when everyone else can be dissuaded with pleas of being tired, and wanting to sleep.

Harry laid in on his bed in the Gryffindor boy's dormitory, and listened to the steady sound of his hearts, with one hand on the left side of his chest and another on the right side. If Madam Pomfrey had cast a diagnosis spell on him then it would not not likely of ended well. Without even meaning to, Harry fell asleep.

The next time he woke up, Ginny was curled up at his side, her head laid on his chest. He stiffened, terrified that she might of heard-

"Mmm," she said, snuggling in a little closer. "You're cold…"

Not cold, Harry thought. That would probably be his average temperature from then on.

(-::-)

The fourth thing Harry gave up on doing was being able to look at things without sometimes jumping in surprise. He wasn't the only one who had to adjust to that one, everyone who knew him had to learn to accept that there were times when Harry would over-react to something he saw out the corner of his eye.

The reason for this was that there was a type of glow that Harry could see in those corners. Like neon strip lights that formed burning lines over everything he saw. It had taken him a long time to get used to it being there, and every now and then they still caught him unawares.

They even appeared in his dreams.

Whilst he slept, it was as if the entire universe unravelled in front of him. There were millions and billions of stars shining under his eyelids, and he could travel to any of them he wished. And amongst the stars there were the glowing threads, like a web that linked every little bit together with every other thing and place.

A web of time.

And some of the bits were set firm, fixed and inevitable, and other bits were loose, as easy to move and shake down as cobwebs.

And if he slept for long enough at night, he would see herself somewhere in the middle, marked by a thousand threads which went in all directions. But nearly all of them were loose, and as silvery and delicate as glass. A single wrong move and the whole lot would shatter, leaving him drifting with only the dullest threads remaining. Just looking at them made his heart pound with terror, and he knew he had to do something, change something, be something-

When he was awake, the threads mostly wrapped themselves around people. Hundreds of off-shoots would stream off from each person, tying them to each other, to people they had yet to meet, and their thousand and one different futures.

He knew from the memories of the Architect what he was seeing, though few Time Lords experienced it the way that he did. He supposed that made him special, but rolled his eyes the first time he actually thought that.

People come to believe it though, even though they're not quite sure in what ways Harry is special (aside from defeating Voldemort, of course). The time-lines he can see around people and events give him fore-knowledge of a lot of things, when he begins to understand better just what it is he is seeing. They let him rescue people, avoid dangerous situations as he works as an Auror, and even help him know when an umbrella would be a good item to carry to work with him.

But even with this advantage, which really means Harry has gained something from becoming a Time Lord, he doesn't think he is wrong when he stands by the one simple belief about his transformation he inherited from the Architect:

Time is all about loss.

The last thing Harry gives up is his family.

(-::-)

They were living in a little flat over on Galleon Street in Diagon Alley when Harry first realised what that meant. For him. For her.

Her- Ginny.

Harry was in the Auror training program, just entering his third year. Kingsley Shacklebolt, the new (and considerably improved) Minister, had offered him an early promotion the previous year, from Junior to Senior Auror. Harry had turned it down. He had said he wanted to earn his way up the ladder like everyone else, regardless of what had happened in the past. (What did it matter if the reason was a lie?)

Ginny had been both exasperated and so proud she had practically glowed.

"I've got such a brilliant, modest man as my boyfriend," she had said, only half jokingly, before pulling him in for a snog. When they broke apart and she saw Harry smiling at her goofily, she had promptly punched him in the arm. Hard. "You should have taken the promotion, you prat."

Harry was twenty-three.

It was a week before Ginny's birthday, and Harry was getting breakfast ready that morning, whilst mentally planning what there was still to prepare for the surprise party he and the rest of the Weasley family were planning to throw for her. It was hard work- Ginny had inherited the Weasley prankster deviousness (which Molly swore was from Arthur, and to which Arthur just raised his eyebrows in his wife's direction meaningfully) and made it near impossible to plan any surprises which she couldn't ferret out before hand.

Ginny wearily wandered into the small kitchen, and flopped onto one of the wooden chairs around the breakfast table. Harry smiled at her cheerfully, before serving the fry-up he had prepared to lure her out of sleep, and sitting down in the chair next to her.

It wasn't long before she brought up the topic Harry had been hoping to avoid- the birthday in question.

"So," she asked, a mischievous gleam in her eye. "What have you got planned for next Tuesday then?"

Harry tried for ignorance. It had worked in his favour before. "Next Tuesday? Well, I think I've got a training session in Scotland that day. You know, trekking through miles of bog-land and hunting for more banshees… Like last Tuesday, really."

She mock scowled at him and gestured in his direction with the knife in her hand. "You better not be, Potter. If our shower gets filled with bog reeds again I'll have you strung up by your toes. Mum'll probably help. She raised six boys, she'll understand my pain."

Harry pretended to consider her threat. "I think I'll take my chances. Some of those banshees are real lookers you know."

The red haired witch laughed out loud. "You're the right sort of person to tame a banshee to be his girlfriend, Mr Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived!"

He smirked. "Who's to say I haven't already?"

Ginny yelped in out-rage and slapped his arm. "Cheeky bugger!" she declared. "Banshee! That should be beautiful birthday-girl to you, Mr Potter!"

"My beautiful, birthday-girl banshee," he agreed, with a mischievous grin in her direction that was belied by the softer emotions shown by his eyes.

She looked at him fondly. "You sap…" she muttered. After a second, she reached out and ran a finger over his curved lips. "You know, it's funny," Ginny said. "If you don't start getting a wrinkle or two here, people will start to think you're dating an older woman."

Harry's smile dipped momentarily before he managed to hold it up under her intense scrutiny. "There's still a few years in me yet before I have to start worrying about wrinkles."

She smiled at his words, but Harry thought it looked just as uncertain as his own.

There was one of the threads that Harry could see between himself and Ginny. Representing their present, it was strong and bright. And when Harry looked to the future, he saw a continuing brilliant thread for Ginny.

It went straight past him and into the distance.

(-::-)

How had the Architect become human?

Harry didn't know, but he spent the next few years longing to find out.

The last memory the Architect possessed before her memories ended and Harry's began, were those words, "Architect, do you have a moment?"

After that, there was nothing. Harry only knew her to of been his Grandmother by the Mirror of Erised, and photos he had later wrangled from his Aunt, which pictured her wearing it. Their truce had lasted until Harry had dared to ask, "Your mother… Was there ever, anything… Strange, about her?"

Aunt Petunia's lips had pursed, and her skin turned frighteningly pale. "Get out!" she had said, her voice low to start with. "Get out. Get out, get out, GET OUT!" She had risen to a frightening crescendo by the end, which had started Uncle Vernon off as well, until Harry had been driven out the house by their shouting.

Harry had never seen his Aunt like that, except for once a long time ago when Harry had been building something, something fantastic, and she had seen it and-

Time Lords do not age as human beings do. Not even wizards and witches can compete with the time span inherit in their race, even without the ability to regenerate. As time went on, Harry was aware that everyone he knew would be long buried before he even left his twenties. Just the thought of it frightened him, and he tried to ignore it. That was the only other thing he could do, if he could no longer become human.

Oh, he knew the Architect had somehow been put through a Chameleon Arch, but she had no idea how to build one herself, and there wasn't one attached to her TARDIS (why would there be?). The depository of knowledge all Time Lords could access didn't seem to be available those few times Harry tried for it in desperation. The only way Harry could possibly become himself again would have been if-

(-::-)

There are thousands of ways of saying something without ever speaking a word.

Even though Harry never heard his friends (his family) say a word about his aging, he knew what they were thinking. Hundreds of different ideas about what and why. As more time passed, the less positive those whatwhys became. Not maliciously of course, or even out of jealousy. Harry knew they were worried. There were things he hadn't ever said, that perhaps he should have done, a long time ago.

But now Harry had a plan, and eventually the whole thing would blow over.

"I'll see you later, mate," Ron said, slapping him on the back with a wide grin. "Don't you be late for the party, alright?"

They were just finishing up at their desks in the Auror offices, quite late at night, with the rest of the floor all but deserted save for a few stragglers. As senior staff they had paperwork which stretched over the entirety of their shared office, and probably would have covered even more had Ron not used a compression charm on his and Harry- well…

It was Ginny Weasley's twenty-seventh birthday.

Harry nodded and rolled his eyes. "'Course not," he replied. "I'll be through the Floo ten minutes after you. I've only got to file these last few reports away. But don't you forget to fire-call Neville to tell him it's almost time. He'll get his wife to box your ears if you do, and he ends up wandering in just when we're about to surprise Ginny."

The red head grimaced as he turned to leave. "Like I'd risk that happening. That woman's mad! And Mum would be even worse. Alright, see you later Harry!"

"See you," Harry returned, shuffling a few pages in his hands and turning his attention to the top one.

"Oh, and don't forget your special present," Ron called back. "It's been driving Mum mad that you won't tell her what it is. If you haven't bought something already I suggest you get your arse in gear pretty quickly."

Harry snorted and rolled his eyes. "Whatever Ron, get out of here already!"

He had it all under control. One quick trip, and Harry would have all his problems solved. There was an engagement ring in his pocket, something he knew Ginny had been wanting for ages from him, and tonight he would finally be able to give it to her. All he needed to do was- Well, it was so obvious, he couldn't believe it had taken him so long to work it out!

He was so pleased with his final solution, Harry failed to notice his friend's thread slip away from his as he headed out the door.

After all, he could only see it out the corner of his eye, and Harry was looking… straight forward…

Later, when he finally finished for the night, as Harry walked through the offices, the corridors, and entered the lift, one by one the threads that linked him to the people he worked with dissolved into nothing.

Harry bounced on his heels as he waited for the lift to reach the Atrium. An elderly wizard with a greying moustache leaned close to him and asked, "You seem to be in a good mood tonight, Mr Potter."

Harry turned and smiled at him, recognising him as a member of Mr Weasley's department. "Oh, yes, I suppose I am," he said. "I'm going to ask my girlfriend to marry me!"

The older wizard beamed back. "Well, I must say, good luck to you then!"

Harry exited the lift at the Atrium, and waved goodbye. "Thank-you! Have a good night!" As he did so the thread that linked them slipped away.

Harry hurried towards the Apparition point, though he supposed he could take as much time on this as he needed. He could reappear whenever he liked, after all. His plan was very simple- take the TARDIS to Gallifrey, borrow (steal?) a Chameleon Arch, come back to Earth, make himself a wizard again, go to the party, propose to Ginny.

Simple.

.

(But Gallifrey-)

End Part 3.1

.

(~~::~~)

Happy New Year! I wanted to make my December post estimate, so I split this chapter into two parts. Sorry if there are a lot of unanswered questions in this little bit (so what did Harry do instead of magic, etc?), but I hope you enjoy it anyway.