When Harry next awoke, he had an excruciatingly awful headache. His mouth was so very parched, so, still barely conscious, he went to get himself a glass of water. Returning to the command center, Harry sat down and began to think about his situation. The first thing he noticed was that the injuries that he had sustained from his fight with Osiris were gone completely. He knew from Isis that the healing abilities of a symbiote shouldn't have stayed with him, but then the same was true of the goa'uld's knowledge. As an experiment, Harry flashed his eyes to see if he still could and was surprised to see that he still had the ability. He tried the distorted voice, and though he was able to pull it off, it felt different than when Isis had physically manipulated his vocal cords. Harry recognized the feel of power inside of him, and something more. Perhaps it was the naquedah in his blood. He decided to think more on it later; he needed to figure out what to do next.
His first thought was of Osiris's host. Sarah, the name came to him. Harry felt that he owed it to her to set her free from Osiris, as he had been set free. He didn't want to think about her still being a slave in her own body. However, he didn't think that he was a match for Osiris. What he needed was a way to knock her unconscious, yet she had their only zat'ni'katel. If he wanted to capture the host without hurting her, he felt he would need one of those. That meant taking the ship to another planet, where he could hopefully acquire one.
He thought about his options. From Calaissis, there was another inhabited planet only one week away named Oberdad. Or at least, there had been one eight thousand years ago. Now, he couldn't be sure of anything, as Isis and Osiris had discovered down below. He plotted a course and set the ship to take him there anyway; at the very least, it was a plan.
As he did so though, he finally noticed something about the ribbon device on his arm. Before, it had always fit snugly against his skin, but looking at it now, Harry realized that it had somehow become a part of his skin. He remembered when he had tried to force Osiris out of her host, the energy had gone into the hand device, and interacted with the naquedah in his blood. Somehow, the device had become fused with his arm in a way that felt as though it had always been a part of him. Oddly enough, it didn't hurt.
Harry decided that his arm was another thing that he could think about later. Right then, he was hungry, so he set himself to scrounge up some food. With the goa'uld's advanced stasis technology, the ship had kept food in its stores from the last time it had been used all those thousands of years ago. Harry feasted on fruit, meats, and cheeses with a glass of goat's milk, produced by long dead creatures. The pungent cheeses had taken some getting used to, but ironically, Harry had grown to like them during his five-month trip as a host.
As he ate though, Harry's thoughts turned dark. He couldn't help but feel that he was running away from Osiris and abandoning Sarah. From there he started thinking again about how long he had waited to take control of his body back, and to the boy who lay dead back on Calaissis. The boy's face flashed in his memory. His appetite gone, Harry put the food away and began pacing in the small dining area, trying to forget the events of the past days, to shake his feelings of guilt. After a while, Harry turned to the exercises that Isis had put his body through in desperation, and found for a while at least, that he could forget everything else.
Four days into his journey, Harry was doing his best to sleep during the ship's artificial night. Trying being the operative word. Harry had hoped that he could put much of what Isis had done with his body behind him, but that just wasn't happening. He had been having nightmares, mostly focusing on the death of that small boy. Sometimes he dreamed that he was still a host, and Isis would make him kill and torture one person after the next. All the while Harry would scream and struggle against Isis, but to no avail. It did not help that Harry now knew intimately how to do both.
The waking world was little better. Harry's guilt over his actions had been eating away at him, taking away his appetite. The only things that seemed to keep him sane were exercise and experimenting with the energy inside of him. He was ashamed of that as well, though he didn't let it stop him. The Dursleys had told him that he was a freak, that there was unnaturalness within him. He had often felt as though they were right, but this was the proof of what they had told him. Still, the power had freed him, and he liked it, and really, he didn't like the Durlseys.
Knowing that he wouldn't find any peace in his bed, Harry got out and decided to try experimenting with his power. He sat down on the floor cross-legged, and focused on his left hand while trying not to think about what he had done with it. He had washed that hand so many times, but no matter how hard he scrubbed it never felt clean. Putting those thoughts aside, Harry decided to try something new. He had had some luck moving things around himself, a form of telekinesis, but Harry wanted to try a different effect. He remembered from his fight with Osiris that accompanying the blast that had forced them apart, there had also been a flash of light. He wanted to know if he could recreate that light, or something similar.
As he focused on his hand, willing the effect that he wanted, Harry felt the Naquedah in his blood respond. Soon, bright sparks came into existence and faded away over his hand. It wasn't quite what he wanted, but it was a start. Harry went on trying to create a light that he could control, for no other reason than that it kept his mind off of darker thoughts.
Working his powers that way wasn't the only thing Harry had been experimenting with. After giving up on trying to remove the hand device from his skin, Harry had decided to try experimenting with it as well. It still worked as it should, but Harry remembered something else from his battle with Osiris. When the hand device had melded with his skin, he had felt as though he were connected to it, and not just in the physical sense. The device had always been slave to thoughts and emotions, but now it was as though Harry could speak to it, manipulate it on a far more personal level. And through the hand device, Harry found himself reaching out into the ship itself through the connection between the two pieces of technology. Harry had surprised himself when he had opened a door with just a thought. Still, it wasn't as though this control was very functional yet. Harry had to shut out the rest of the world while he connected with the ship. Pushing buttons was much more practical. Still, it was interesting, and it was another thing that kept him from thinking about the things he didn't want to think about.
As he sat down for breakfast later, Harry turned his thoughts to what he would do when he got back to Earth. 'If I get back to Earth,' he thought. Really, he couldn't imagine going home. He had, in effect, stolen his Uncle's car. Surely, he couldn't just go home and expect bygones to be bygones. He considered simply not going home, maybe not even going back to Earth. While living with the Dursleys, Harry had survived knowing that even if they didn't care about him, at least he would be able to make a future for himself, one day. He did well in school, which was a haven for him, in spite of his cousin, and he knew that one day he would have more than a few options open to him (he had still considered fireman as an option). Now though, he couldn't see himself ever leading a normal life, sitting in school, and getting a job. He couldn't see any future at all.
Just over five months after the incident with Isis and Osiris, SG-1 had been quite busy. There had been no news about the two escaped goa'uld, though that had been expected. They had left the Earth in an ancient ship, which would have been very slow by modern standards. It was only recently that the goa'uld had made significant improvements in their hyperdrive capabilities. Now, SG-1 was on what was supposed to be a rather uneventful trip. The planet they were on had been abandoned by the goa'uld long ago, and it was inhabited by a simple and peaceful group of humans. That was just fine by Jack; any mission where no one shot at them was a good mission. They were there at Carter's request, she wanted to check out some anomalies with the soil. Jack really hadn't been paying attention during the briefing. She'd do her thing, and he'd do his.
They'd been there for two days, having been graciously given shelter by the local town leader. The man had been excited to have visitors from so far away. It had been interesting, mixing with the people on this planet, but really, Jack was getting bored with the whole thing. He decided to stretch his legs and go for a walk; the locals had told him that there was a good view along the coastline. He radioed the rest of the team to tell them where he was going, before walking off.
The ship was in the final hours of its journey, and Harry wasn't doing very well. He'd just about stopped sleeping, and it was a struggle to eat anything. Really though, he'd stopped caring. He'd already despaired of ever achieving his goal of freeing Sarah. He knew that he wasn't strong enough to free her; he'd learned that the first time. The more time Harry spent alone on that ship, the more he began to feel that he had nothing tying him to life; nothing was the same anymore. It wasn't as though he had any kind of a home to go back to, anyway; he couldn't imagine going back to the Dursleys. The more his guilt ate away at him, the more he wondered why he bothered to go on.
When Harry reached Oberdad, he told the ship to land at the edge of the smallest continent. His plan to find a Zat'ni'katel had been discarded. Truly, it had been a foolish plan. Harry ringed down and examined his surroundings. The ship had put him down next to a large cliff, which Harry thought rather suited what he needed right then. He put one foot in front of the other, and let his body take him to the edge.
Jack was walking through the slightly dense foliage, and had almost made it to the coast, when he saw a ship coming down from the sky. He didn't recognize the make of the ship, though it looked to be of goa'uld design to his experienced eye. It looked to be somewhere between a cargo ship and an al'kesh in size. He radioed the rest of his team, though he knew that they were at least twenty minutes away, and told them what was going on. The ship stopped not far away, hovering roughly fifteen feet off the ground. Jack hurried over to its position, making sure to stay out of sight.
When the rings fell from the ship, Jack was surprised that they deposited a small figure on the ground. The hooded person was too far away for him to make out the face clearly. He watched as, what he thought to be a boy, looked around before walking to the edge of the cliff.
Harry looked down over the edge. At another time, he might have thought that the scene below looked rather nice. Beautiful, in fact. The almost purple water was crashing against the rocks below in a spray of color, and the sun was setting in the distance. He held his arms out, and wondered if he could actually do it. Put an end to the pain and guilt. A part of him hoped that a gust of wind would come along and make the decision for him. He closed his eyes to the world around him. Then he heard a voice, a cautious voice behind him.
Jack had come out from his hiding place, and stood behind the boy who seemed to contemplating what Jack really hoped he wasn't contemplating. He had decided to speak up, though he made sure to pay attention for any activity from the ship behind him.
"Hey," he said gently, "I'm just passing by. But you're awfully close to the edge there kid. It's a long way down."
The hooded boy in front of him shuddered, and Jack could tell that he was crying.
"That's kind of the point," the boy said, and Jack could hear the despair in his voice.
'Well that clarifies things.' He was really rather out of his league with this. "What's your name?"
The boy sniffled. "Harry."
"Well, Harry, my name's Jack, by the way, why don't you come over here? We could talk about cliffs, and guard rails."
Harry shook his head. "I'm fine where I am."
Jack really didn't know how to handle this; he had much more experience shooting things, than talking to people. This was why they kept Daniel around.
"Why?" he asked. "What could be so bad?" The boy's shudders were becoming more pronounced, and Jack was wondering if he was doing something wrong.
"He used me, he used my body to do what he wanted, and I couldn't stop him. I can't… I just can't… How do I go on after what he made me do?"
Shoot. Jack liked watching Law and Order, but he'd never gone for the Special Victims spin-off. Maybe he should have tried to catch an episode or two.
"Look, Harry, if someone's been touching you where they shouldn't, we can do something about it. I'm sure it's hard, but you're not always going to feel like this."
Finally the kid turned around to face him, though Jack still couldn't see his face clearly.
"I'm talking about a goa'uld! I was a host."
"Oh. Oh! Right. And you're not anymore?"
"Yeah," said the boy, perhaps too bewildered for the moment to focus again on what he had been doing.
"Well, that's something to be happy about, you're free," said Jack, trying to keep it positive.
"But not soon enough! I was too scared to try to push him out again; it hurt so bad the first time, so I put off trying again. 'I'll do it tomorrow', I said, even though I knew how evil they were. I kept saying 'tomorrow'. Well tomorrow was too late." He started to wring his left hand, as though he were tying to pull it off. "This hand, no matter how much I wash it, I can't make it clean. He killed that boy; the kid, he was smaller than me. He couldn't have ever hurt anyone. But he just picked him up, and he snapped his neck. I never even knew his name," he finished miserably. At this point, he was nearly hyperventilating, and he turned around again.
Jack felt his heart go out to the kid. He saw the boy start to move one of his legs, as though struggling against himself to step over. He decided then that he would have to grab the boy. He ran up as quickly and as quietly as he could and grabbed the boy by his shirt, pulling him back. The boy struggled against him, shouting to be let go. Jack could tell that the boy still possessed the strength that came from being a host. Soon though, the boy lost the fight inside of him, and slumped to the ground crying. Jack picked him up and held him. Harry grabbed onto his jacket and pushed his face into it.
"Come on kid. I'm sure that there are still people out there somewhere who care about you, who want to see you again." He really hoped so.
Harry shook his head and started to wipe the tears from his face, squirming to be let down. Jack set him down, making sure to put himself between the boy and the cliff, and for the first time, he got a good look at the boys face.
"They never loved me. My relatives made that perfectly clear. No one loved me then, and no one can ever love me now."
Jack suddenly realized something that he probably would have realized sooner had he not been so lost in the moment. "You're Harry Potter."
"You're from England, you lived with your Aunt and Uncle?"
"Kid, I've met them. Those jerks aren't fit to raise a hamster, let alone a human being."
"You can't judge your ability to be loved on people like that. Listen, Harry, I know a kid, Skaara, he was taken host by Apophis' son, Klorel. He was a host for years before he was freed, and he was forced to do many horrible things before he finally was. But I was there when he was freed, kid, and I was there when he went home. His people knew what had happened to him, and they knew the evil of the Goa'uld, but they welcomed him home with open arms. I still see the guy, and he's happy, Harry. You aren't going to feel like this forever."
"I don't have open arms to go home to," said Harry morosely.
"Heck, kid, you could stay at my place. You don't have to be alone." Jack couldn't believe he had just said that, but, somehow he didn't regret it.
"I still have guardians in London," said Harry, with an air of trying to wrap his head around the current situation. "I don't think you can just take me home with you."
"You want to go home to them?"
"Harry, when I say this, it's a reflection on them and not you: I think that they'd sign just about anything to get rid of you. That's their problem. You could come to my place, see how you like things, and if you don't, well hey, I notice you've got your own space ship."
"I took it from Osiris," said Harry
"Well it serves him right," said Jack, who had committed far worse transgressions against the goa'uld.
"You wouldn't want me in your house," said Harry, completely miserable once again.
"Why not?" asked Jack, fully expecting some regurgitation of some awful thing said by the Dursleys.
"Because there's a reason the Dursleys didn't want me. They knew that I was a freak. Before Isis, before everything, I was already different. There was something inside of me that wasn't normal, the power that pushed out Isis. Could you let this into your home?"
The boy held his bare hand up and above his palm a ball of white light appeared, doing nothing but shining brightly. Jack was surprised for a moment, and though he felt like staring stupidly at it, he shrugged.
"I've seen stranger things," he said nonchalantly. 'How the Hell was the kid doing that?' he thought in the privacy of his own mind.
"What?" asked Harry, clearly having been expecting some form of outrage or horror.
"Seriously, that's not all that strange compared to some of the things I've seen. As long as you avoid having any wild parties while I'm gone, I think we could manage." He'd never seen anyone from Earth do anything like that. Seriously weird.
"You seem like a nice kid. What do I care if you can make light come out of your hands? It's cool actually. Plus, it's damned impressive that you managed to push out a goa'uld parasite, which rather proves the point that sometimes it's really good to be different."
"You're serious?" asked Harry, as though almost expecting this to be a trick.
"Yeah," said Jack plainly.
"Oh." The kid looked like he was finally ready to calm down. "It's still going to be really hard, going on."
"Of course it is. Believe me, I know a thing or two about getting over terrible experiences. This isn't going to be a walk in the park, but like I said, things are going to get better." Jack eyed the ship. "Have you been traveling with anyone else?"
"No. It's just been me," said Harry.
"For how long?" asked Jack.
"About seven days," the boy replied.
Jack rolled his eyes. "Solitude can be your worst enemy after you go through something as terrible as what you've been through. You need people in your life. That's why I work with a team."
Harry shrugged. "I've always been alone."
"Well you don't have to be anymore. Come on, let's go introduce you to the rest of my team. They'll be happy to see you, we've been hoping to get you back to Earth ever since you were taken by Isis."
"Really?" Harry looked up at him doubtfully.
"Yes really. Now, I'll just radio ahead, tell them what's going on."
"Okay," said Harry, standing up with Jack.
Jack turned on his radio. "Carter, this is Jack. The ship that landed was manned by Isis's host Harry. Apparently, he's free of the snake. He and I are coming to your position now."
Carter replied, disbelief clear in her voice. "Are you sure of that sir."
"As sure as I can be," said Jack. And though he believed, he wasn't going to be careless about it. They would make certain, to be safe, and Carter would know to be cautious, whatever Jack said on the radio. "You can see for yourself when we get there, I'll meet you outside the village."
"Copy that, sir."
"O'Neill out." He turned to Harry. "You know, it would probably make them feel better if you took off the hand device."
"Um, I can't," said Harry. "It's fused to me, I've tried to take it off but it won't budge. You can carry my knife though," he said, handing the object over.
"What do you mean fused?"
"Well, look for yourself. It's like it melted into my skin. It happened when I tried to push Osiris out of Sarah. The energy in me went through this arm, and it mixed with the naquedah in my blood. Then, suddenly it was flowing into the hand device. There was this shock wave that knocked the two of us apart. Anyhow, the next day, I realized that it was fused to me somehow."
Jack examined the arm, and poked around the areas where metal met skin. It was almost hart to tell where one began and the other ended. He sighed and put the arm down.
"I suppose we'll see what we can do about that."
Harry shrugged. "I don't mind anymore, really. It's like it's a part of me now."
The two of them started walking to the village. "It's still a weapon though," said Jack, his voice taking on more emotion. "Kids and weapons don't mix, and nine year olds certainly shouldn't have them melted into their skin."
"I'm nine and a half," said Harry very pointedly.
Jack had to stop himself from laughing. "Yes, well, even that's too young."
"How old do you have to be then?"
Jack looked down at the hand device. "Yeah, I'm going to have to go with never."
Harry fell silent for the rest of the trip, and Jack wished that he hadn't pushed the subject. It probably hadn't been a good idea to point out that there was something seriously wrong with the kid's situation.
Roughly a quarter of a mile from the village, Jack saw Sam and Teal'c waiting for them. Harry stopped short though, and pointed at Sam.
"You- I- I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry about, you know. Shooting you."
Sam looked surprised. Jack meanwhile, realized that half of Harry's body was suddenly behind him.
"Oh. Well, that's all right," said Sam, rolling with the situation. "I know you can't control what a goa'uld does with your body."
"But it must have hurt so much," said Harry. "That's what the zat'ni'katel's designed for."
She shrugged, "I've been shot with those things too many times to count. It's really okay."
"Oh," said Harry. "Okay. I'm still really sorry."
Jack introduced him to Sam and Teal'c. Harry seemed surprised when he realized that Teal'c was a jaffa, but not overly concerned.
Sam stepped forward and Jack stood aside, leaving nothing between Harry and Sam.
"Hi," said Harry, nervously.
"Hi," said Sam. She turned to the others. "I don't feel a symbiote in him."
Harry perked up. "You can sense goa'uld?"
She nodded. "I was a tok'ra, briefly."
He looked at her in confusion. "You were briefly against Ra? Was this before you killed him?"
"You understand goa'uld?" They all turned to see Daniel coming towards them. He had a Zat in his hand, by his side, and Jack knew that he had been waiting for Sam's verdict, in case Harry had been a hostile.
Instead of replying though, Harry only stared at the man for a moment before saying. "You loved her."
Daniel sighed. "Yes, I did."
"They talked about you. I tried to help her to get rid of her symbiote, but I couldn't. I'm sorry, I helped get her away from Earth."
"Harry," Jack spoke up, "we already had this discussion."
"I would never blame a host," said Daniel, "for something a goa'uld had done. You don't need to apologize to me."
"I'm still sorry." Harry looked rather downcast, and Jack started thinking of happier things to talk about.
"I am too," said Daniel.
"But wait, you could go get her. She was stranded where I left her, on Calaissis. The Stargate was buried there."
"You went to Calaissis?" asked Jack.
"Yeah, it was the closest goa'uld occupied planet that they knew of, aside from Abidos. She's probably still there though. I don't think she could unbury the gate all by herself, and the locals weren't inclined to help her either." He looked up at the man. "How'd you hear about the planet though, if their gate's buried?"
"We're the ones that got them to burry the gate in the first place," said Jack.
"Oh. Cool. But, we could go there now, and rescue her in my ship," said Harry.
Daniel turned to Jack. "Jack."
"We could go find her."
"It's, what, seven days away?"
"Yeah," answered Harry.
"We need to clear this with the SGC first. Compared to a seven day journey, that's not going to take all that long."
Daniel looked frustrated, but he didn't argue further. Harry on the other hand seemed to have been revitalized by the prospect of rescuing Sarah.
"I don't need clearance," said Harry. "Just give me a zat'ni'katel and I'll go get her."
They all looked at him with bemused expressions.
"Yeah, Harry, I think we'll give this a team effort," said Jack. "I like your enthusiasm, but I'd feel better if you didn't go this alone. Besides, you'll have a chance to see a doctor about that arm of yours."
"Harry, you're still just nine-" Harry was about to interrupt him, "-and a half, the point is, it's our job to go after the bad guys, not yours. You also shouldn't be alone for another seven days."
Harry looked up at him, clearly debating with himself. "Okay," he said. "We'll do it your way."
Two hours later, they had packed up all of their belongings, and arrived at the gate. Daniel dialed Earth, and Jack sent through his GDO before radioing in to Stargate Command.
Harry was nervous about returning to Earth. Certainly, there was a part of him that was anxious to let the grown-ups take care of everything, but in a way, he felt as though he had crossed a line of some sort, and he couldn't go back to just being a kid. Not that he'd ever been just a kid. Another part of him still was worried that they would throw him in a jail cell the moment he walked through the gate. Jack and his team seemed like nice people though, so he really didn't think that that would happen though.
He was glad that Jack had stopped him at the cliff. At the time, Harry hadn't been able to conceive of any way to go on with his life. He knew that his solitude had had something to do with that, though it was everything really. Still, even if he had made new friends, he knew that the guilt and shame that had plagued him weren't just going to leave him alone. Really, he had a hard time imagining himself being happy ever again. But he had decided to trust Jack, and Jack had told him that he'd feel better. He only hoped that the man was right.
"Stargate Command, this is Colonel O'Neil."
"Colonel O'Neil, this is Stargate Command."
"Be advised, we are returning early to bring home Harry Potter, former host to a goa'uld."
"We copy that Colonel. Please explain further."
Jack sighed, though he supposed it was a lot to swallow in a brief sentence. He gave a quick rundown of what had happened.
"Warn our men in the gate room that the boy has a hand device fused to his skin," he said finally. "I don't want any of them getting jumpy."
Sam, Daniel and Teal'c walked through the gate. Jack turned to Harry.
"You ready to go back to Earth?"
He shrugged. "I guess. I've never been through one of those before though."
"Well, there's nothing like it." He held out his arm towards the gate, and Harry understood the 'after you' gesture. Taking a deep breath, he walked through.