Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling. I make no money from this. I borrow the concept for this story from the wonderfully talented BajaB, and the author who came up with it first: Rorschach's Blot. I hope they don't mind.

War of Souls

Excerpt from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: But he understood at last what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew — and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents — that there was all the difference in the world.

Harry felt filled with resolve; his destiny had never seemed more clear, he'd proved to Dumbledore and himself that he could succeed at the tasks set him and Dumbledore was finally starting to treat him as an adult. He smiled at Dumbledore. "I understand sir," he said simply.

Dumbledore smiled back wearily, the animation produced by Harry's success already draining away. "Off to bed, Harry" he said. "And do be sure to wear your cloak" he added, tired blue eyes twinkling slightly. "It wouldn't do to get caught out of bed at this hour."

Harry grinned, half in embarrassment as he recalled his midnight dash through the corridors. "Yes Professor" he said as he put his cloak on. "Goodnight".

"Goodnight Harry, pleasant dreams." replied Dumbledore. Harry started down the winding stairs but he'd only gone a few steps when a silvery patronus streaked past him. He stopped dead. Harry could have sworn that was prongs, his own patronus.

He turned to look back at Dumbledore's study; the door was still open. Perhaps someone else had the same patronus as he did? He hesitated for a second; then taking care to be absolutely silent he wrapped the cloak tight around himself and made sure the hood covered him completely. Then he crept up to the door. He could see both Dumbledore and the stag patronus but it had already delivered its message. Harry had no time to feel disappointed however; he was too struck by Dumbledore's reaction. Dumbledore stood absolutely still, a look of total shock on his face. A feeling of foreboding came over Harry. Anything that could affect Dumbledore like this had to be something big. Perhaps something had gone badly wrong with the battle against Voldemort. He couldn't imagine anything else that could cause such a reaction. He glanced at the stag patronus that looked so like his but it stood silent, its message delivered. He looked back as Dumbledore finally started to move. His wand was raised and Harry could see it tremble.

Harry swallowed, his own shock increasing. What on earth could have happened, he wandered to himself silently. He continued to watch as Dumbledore dismissed the stag and summoned his own phoenix patronus. The message he sent was short. "Stay where you are. I will come to collect you shortly".

As soon as the patronus flew off Dumbledore strode over to the fireplace and grabbed a pinch of flue powder from it's container on the mantelpiece. "The hog's head" he said in a clear voice and disapeared into the flames as soon as they turned green. He hadn't even noticed the door to his office was still open.

Harry wrestled with his conscience; he'd already invaded Dumbledore's privacy, to do so again would be a betrayal of trust. After all, Dumbledore had promised to keep him informed from now on and less than an hour ago he'd agreed to include Harry more actively in any activities against Voldemort. But still Harry couldn't make himself believe that Dumbledore really would tell him everything. Dumbledore would only tell him what he decided Harry needed to know. And Harry just couldn't shake the feeling that whatever was happening had something to do with him.

Just then the flames in the fireplace flared green again and there was no more time for thinking. Without conscious thought, his hand darted into his pocket and pulled out the tiny bottle of Felix Felicis. He took a quick sip, then was through the door and crouched by one of Dumbledore's display cabinets before the exhilarating sense of absolute confidence he now associated with the luck potion rolled over him.

He made sure not to look at Dumbledore when he stepped through. Something warned him that Dumbledore would know. Maybe it's something to do with legilmancy. The thought drifted through his head. Then two other people came through, a man and a woman holding a baby in her arms.

Harry frowned, he felt as if he should recognise them. He focused on their features, peering through the invisibility cloak. Harry felt the hammer blow of shock even through the Felix. His heart seemed to stop moving and for several endless moments he was unable to breathe. His eyes clung to the couple; a spectacled man with messy black hair, his arm around a beautiful red haired woman with green eyes. The sleeping baby in her arms had hair as black and messy as the man by her side. Harry knew, without the shadow of a doubt, that if the baby's eyes were to open, they would be the same bright green as the woman holding him. The same bright green as his own eyes. For Harry recognised the little family. How could he not, with all the hours spent pouring through their pictures in his little family album? He was looking at James and Lilly Potter, looking no older than in the pictures taken in their last days, along with the baby Harry Potter before he had been marked by the lightning bolt scar.

Harry could feel the maelstrom of shock going through him changing slowly to a freezing anger. How dare they, he found himself thinking. How dare they? What kind of sick, evil people would do something like this. He seethed. He continued to stay hidden in his cloak, but he promised himself he would make these imposters pay for their sick jokes. Was this supposed to be some kind of strange prank? It was not funny in any way. Why was Dumbledore even talking to them? Harry couldn't wrap his head around the situation at all.

Dumbledore was just standing there, his wand in his hand, watching them with a wary look on his face. They stared back, awkwardly. It was the Lily look-alike who broke the silence first. "Headmaster," she said hesitantly. Dumbledore held up his hand and she broke off. "My dear," he began, "I do apologise for any discourtesy but I'm afraid these dark days leave us little choice. I need both of you to swear a Wizard's Oath confirming your identity".

Harry leaned forward, confident that the imposters were about to be unmasked. He wandered briefly if a 'wizard's oath' was anything like the unbreakable one. The imposters were looking at each other now, worried looks on their faces. Good! He thought in vicious satisfaction. You'd better be worried. Had they really thought they were going to get away with whatever game they were playing?

Then the man raised his wand and Harry's world came crashing down. "I swear on my magic and my blood that I am James Harold Potter." A blue glow surrounded him for a moment, then faded away. "I swear on my magic and my blood that I am Lily Evans Potter" A blue glow surrounded the woman too.

Harry could not move. He felt as if he was frozen in place and a vast echoing silence seemed to have invaded his head. If it were not for the fact that he was still under the influence of the felix he would have lost consciousness, the severity of his shock was so great. He could feel himself becoming numb; his emotions shutting down to protect him against further shocks.

Dumbledore actually staggered back for a moment, then he drew himself up and walked slowly over to the chair behind his desk. He seated himself and gestured for his guests to sit down. They sat down, but James Potter could not contain himself any longer. "Professor, what on earth is going on?!" he burst out as soon as he was seated. "Why does everything look so..." "Mr Potter, interrupted Dumbledore, a grim look on his face. "I think perhaps you have far more information on what is going on than myself. I would be most interested to know for instance, how you could possibly be alive, given the fact that you are both supposed to be dead."

"Dead!" exclaimed Lily.

'Yes. I saw your bodies and attended your funerals....more than 15 years ago. "15 years?" whispered James. James and Lily Potter looked at each other, shocked looks on their faces, but the shock faded fast, replaced by looks of horrified realization. Dumbledore noticed. "I cannot help but think you know what is going on."

Lily straightened in her seat, taking care not to wake the sleeping baby. "It's something we did, a back-up plan in case something went wrong and our secret-keeper was discovered", she looked at Dumbledore, a look of pain on her face. "We didn't really expect the fidelus to be broken; but I was afraid. Everyone knows who our friends are, although we didn't choose who everyone thought we would."

"Sirius's idea", put in James. "He thought it would be better if we switched to Peter instead and play decoy himself. No one was supposed to know Peter was the real secret-keeper".

"But someone obviously guessed," said Lily.

She looked at Dumbledore, her face pained. "We never wanted to put our friends in such danger; we really thought Peter would be safe".

James took his wife's hand in his and squeezed it. "Voldemort must have captured him and tortured the secret out of him." He said in a bleak voice. "The wards fell and we were forced to use our back up plan."

Dumbledore said nothing. Harry, still frozen in his corner, could only feel a sense of far-off rage beneath his numbness. There were several moments of silence before Lily broke it. She shook her head. "Despite everything, I really didn't think we would ever be forced to use our back up plan" she said.

Dumbledore frowned. "And what was this plan?" He asked.

"A way to keep Harry safe" replied Lily. "The year I worked at the department of mystery there was a big case involving the use of simulacra and golems. I didn't know all the details but I found out enough about how the golems worked to be able to build one myself."

A terrible premonition hovered at the edges of Harry's mind.

Lily stroked the baby's hair gently. She kept her eyes on him as she continued talking. "It took me a long time but I was finally able to create a flesh and blood golem. I used a variation of the spell used to make portraits to make them behave as much like us as possible. It was enough to fool the average wizard into thinking it to be a real person."

She looked up and smiled. There was no humour in it. "But we all know Voldemort is not a normal wizard. So we had to come up with something that would be able to fool anyone, no matter who, even you professor". She nodded to Dumbledore.

Dumbledore seemed almost afraid. "What did you do? He asked quietly.

Lily answered with a question. "How much do you know about Horcruxes, Professor?" she asked.

Harry's mouth dropped open in shocked disbelief. He could not have heard what he just thought he did.

Dumbledore was on his feet, his wand raised, a terrible expression of wrath on his face. "What have you done?" he cried. James jumped to his feet and stepped in front of Lily and the baby. "We didn't make one, Professor" he shouted. "How could you think that?!"

Dumbledore stayed as he was for a moment, then collapsed back on his chair. He raised a shaking hand to cover his face. James sat back down, and took hold of Lily's hand again. They watched the Headmaster with wary eyes. The baby slept on, undisturbed by all the commotion. Still in his corner, Harry felt as if he were trapped in a never ending nightmare. He could do nothing but observe as everything he'd ever known was turned on it's head.

The study was silent for a few minutes, as it's occupants tried to regain their composure. The portraits on the wall watched silently.

Finally, Dumbledore stirred. He looked bowed down; as if someone had added another load to an already unbearable burden.

"What did you do?" he repeated his earlier question.

"I modified the spell used to make a horcrux," replied Lily. "Voldemort would have known at once that the golem's were not real people, we needed something that could fool him.

Dumbledore was listening carefully. "How did you manage to make the spell work without a sacrifice?" he asked. "The sacrifice is the whole foundation it is built upon after all."

Lily leaned forward, her face becoming more animated. "True," she nodded. "But that is because a horcrux is designed to last forever. We only needed something that would last for long enough to fool Voldemort."

"Just long enough for him to think he'd killed us" added James, grinning for the first time. Dumbledore wrinkled his brow in puzzlement, "I still don't see what –

"We sacrificed a year of our lives for each golem." Lily broke in. Dumbledore's eyes widened.

James looked at him defiantly. "We decided it would be worth it if it saved our lives, Professor," he said. "At first we were only going to do it for Harry, but then we decided it would be stupid to leave him orphaned when we could make golems for all of us with only a little bit more effort."

Lily leaned forward, her expression earnest. "We used the smallest possible amount professor," she said. "We made sure it would not harm us. We even set it up so that as soon as the physical shells of our golems died, the bits of our soul would find us automatically." She grimaced. "That bit hasn't worked out unfortunately, but I think that can be explained by our time travel; when the separated pieces of our souls couldn't find us, they must have passed on."

"I see," said Dumbledore. He gazed at them gravely for a moment, before frowning suddenly. "Time-travel?" he said in a questioning voice.

"Ah – I'm afraid that was my fault Professor, said James. "We obviously didn't mean to get stuck in the time vortex, which must be what happened to us, though I don't know how." He frowned, then shrugged. "Anyway I thought that if Voldemort ever did discover us, he would probably ward the whole area against traditional means of travel, so we needed something that he wouldn't anticipate." He looked at Lily.

"I called in a favour from an old colleague," she said. "He let me borrow the time-turner unofficially." She frowned. "We set it up in advance to go back for one day, we thought that would give us enough time to set up another hiding space, and one day is short enough it wouldn't have set off the alarms at the TTC." She shuddered. "Good think we did, we barely managed to escape, Voldemort was already inside the house by the time we managed to activate the time-turner."

Dumbledore hummed thoughtfully. "Perhaps it was the backlash of the golem's death," he speculated. "If you activated the time-turner at the same time as James's golem's death, perhaps the freed piece of your soul tried to return to you. I imagine that putting two such strong forces as time and soul magic would have been enough to throw you off course." He shook his head. "You are extremely lucky the time vortex did not collapse on you completely."

James and Lily shivered and drew closer together. They didn't look like they wanted to think about what a narrow escape they'd had.

"Tell me about golem you made of Harry", requested Dumbledore abruptly. "Was it any different from yours?"

Lily shook her head. "No Professor, it was exactly the same. The only thing different is that I provided the sacrifice for Harry". James scowled as she said this. Lily gave him an exasperated look.

Dumbledore had an intent look on his face. "You provided the sacrifice", he repeated. "How?"

"I used an old spell called 'Mother's Love'. Mothers in the old days used it to the take the pain or illness of their child onto themselves when nothing else would work. I was able to use the spell to make the ritual take the sacrifice from me instead of Harry."

"I see" breathed Dumbledore.

James and Lily looked at each other warily. "Is there something wrong Professor?" asked James.

Dumbledore took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes wearily. He didn't say anything for several minutes, in which James and Lily started to look more and more alarmed.

"Yes," he said finally, his voice grave. "I'm afraid there is indeed something wrong. You have, with the best of intentions, done something I'm afraid will have severe repercussions for everyone involved."

James sat up straight, his expression a mixture of confusion and alarm. Lily's face showed the same mix of emotions. Dumbledore put up his hand before either could speak. "Let me finish", he said.

"You created a golem out of the flesh and blood of your son, and imbued it with a portion of his soul, however small. You did it for the best of reasons and if your plan had worked as you envisioned it all might have been well."

James and Lily exchanged worried glances. Lily made as if to speak, but Dumbledore did not pause. "I speak only of the golem you made of Harry because the other two you made functioned precisely as you intended. We cannot know for certain if what happened occurred as a result of the golem's difference, but it is the most likely reason."

Dumbledore paused for a moment, his expression grim.

When he continued, his voice was even grimmer than his face. "15 years ago, Voldemort attacked your family. We know that James was killed first." James stirred in protest but Dumbledore shook his head. "I am telling you what happened that night as the world knows it," he said.

"We know also that Voldemort offered to spare Lily if she stood aside". Here, he glanced at James and Lily. They were extremely pale. "Lily refused," he went on more gently.

"Of course she did," put in James, a look of mingled sadness and pride on his face.

Dumbledore nodded. "Voldemort killed her, then turned to Harry. He cast the Avada Kedavra at him, fully expecting it to work, the same as it had always done. Except that it didn't. Not this time. For Voldemort had reckoned without the power of love. Lily Potter sacrificed herself for the sake of her son and in doing so she created a protection for her son that was so strong it overcame the Avada Kedavra itself.

James and Lily had been listening to all this, first with looks of horror on their faces, for it was obvious they were expecting to be told of the baby golem's death, and equally obvious they were picturing their real baby in that same dire situation if they hadn't come up with their back-up plan.

The looks turned to puzzlement as Dumbledore went on, so that as soon as he stopped speaking, Lily burst out incredulously: "Are you saying that the baby golem survived the Avada Kedavra?!"

"Yes," said Dumbledore, "he survived, with only a single scar to show for it, a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt marked on his forehead."

"Marked," repeated James slowly, a strange look on his face. Dumbledore just nodded, and carried on his tale.

"The Avada Kedavra curse rebounded back on Voldemort and destroyed his physical body. He was left a powerless wraith and fled."

James and Lily were too shocked to speak, they listened with gaping mouths as Dumbledore carried on. "Harry Potter was named the 'Boy-Who-Lived' and was celebrated as the vanquisher of the Dark Lord Voldemort."

"The 'Boy-Who-Lived'?" repeated Lily. She scowled. "That was quite a cruel title to give him, considering he must have died within hours."

Dumbledore shook his head slowly. "Harry Potter did not die. He lived, and he is still alive today."

Silence. No one moved. No one spoke. James and Lily stared at Dumbledore, uncomprehending. At last, a shaken looking Lily spoke. "How is that possible?" She asked in a whisper.

Dumbledore sighed. "If you are asking how he survived the death curse, it is as I have already told you. For the Lily Potter who sacrificed herself, golem or no, was still made of flesh and blood and carried within her all the memories and emotions of the real Lily Potter, along with a piece of her soul. She sacrificed herself for the son she loved, and in doing so, provided a protection for her son from her killer, the Dark Lord Voldemort, that still exists to this day."

James looked up. He had the same strange look on his face as before. "And how is he still alive all these years later Professor?" He asked.

Dumbledore's eyes closed. He looked as if he'd aged a hundred years in the span of a minute. It was obvious he did not want to answer the question. It was as if, by keeping quiet, he sought to escape whatever it was that so horrified him. But James was relentless. "Professor?" he repeated, voice respectful but with a demanding tone.

Dumbledore spoke with his eyes still closed. "What you seek to know can only bring you pain," he said.

"Professor", it was Lily who spoke this time. "I think knowing the truth will be better that whatever our minds will come up with."

Dumbledore opened his eyes. "Very well." His voice showed extreme reluctance.

"I had never thought of Harry as anything but the real Harry Potter, for I had no reason to think him anything else. It was quiet obvious however, that there was something very strange about the scar he recieved as the result of Voldemort's attack. I carried out many studies on it and it was with great sorrow that I finally found out what it was."

He looked at James and Lily, his sorrow plain upon his face. "The night Voldemort came to kill your family, he intended to make a horcrux out of Harry's death."

Lily jolted upright, her face going chalk white. James face went very still. Dumbledore carried on talking. "Things did not go as he planned of course but I believe that when he tried to killed Harry and the spell rebounded on him, it tore loose a piece of his soul, which then attached itself to Harry, the only living being in the area."

James looked as if he were going to be sick. "And that is why he is still alive? Because of Voldemort's soul in his body?"

Dumbledore looked at him, a fierce expression on his face. "There is no denying that the soul originally belonged to Voldemort but Harry has made it his own. Voldemort does not control him."

Lily spoke up suddenly, fear and anger obvious on her face. "You speak of the golem as if he is Harry." She gestured violently at the sleeping baby in her arms. "This is Harry!"

Dumbledore looked at her with eyes full of compassion. "I know Lily", he said gently. "You have a wonderful son, more remarkable than you know. The tiny part of his soul you gave to the golem was enough to conquer Voldemort's horcrux and make it his own and that combined soul has grown up to be a most remarkable young man, one it has been my privilege to know and one who has, more than once, stood against Voldemort himself and triumphed."

Lily looked at the baby in her lap, her face filled with many conflicting emotions. James hugged her to him gently. He looked back at Dumbledore. "He grew up as a normal child?," he asked.

Dumbledore nodded.

"15 years – he must be nearly 17" said James.

"He is," replied Dumbledore. "He is in 6th year, a Gryffindor. Captain of the quidditch team."

James looked proud for a second, and then he blinked. "I don't know what to feel", he said.

Dumbledore looked at him, his sympathy plain on his face. "The hour is getting very late, and there are many more things the two of you should know. I think perhaps we should go to sleep and continue this conversation on the morrow."

He stood up, his movements slow. "I will arrange a safe place for you to stay for now." He started to walk to the fireplace, but Lily's soft voice bought him up short. "Professor, she said, her voice troubled, "I know you said... she stopped and swallowed, then took a deep breath and started again, her voice stronger. "I know you said the other Harry has become a normal child, and that his soul is his own now, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a horcrux, does it?," she asked.

Dumbledore stopped. "Ah Lily, you do ask the most painful of questions," he said softly.

"Wait. What does that mean?" asked James warily, though his eyes said he already suspected.

"It means – It means –," Lily could not finish the sentence.

"It means that while Harry lives, Voldemort cannot die", said Dumbledore quietly.

No one said anything for several moments, each trapped in their own tormented thoughts.

At last Dumbledore resumed his interrupted walk to the fireplace. He took a pinch of flue powder from the container on the mantel place, the fire flared green, and he was gone.

James and Lily sat silently in their seats, their expressions exhausted. "We need to get Harry settled down in to a proper sleep," said Lily after a while. "I don't like using the sleep charm for too long."

James nodded. "James?" Lily spoke again, her voice soft. James turned around to face her fully. "Yes, Lily?" he said, his voice concerned.

"Oh James," there were tears in Lily's eyes. "Lily - ," James said again, softly.

"James," she interrupted him, "you realise Dumbledore knew about the horcrux in Harry from the beginning don't you? You know what that means."

"Lily, the horcrux is not in Harry-"

"James," she fixed him with a long look.

"I know what it means, Lily," he said at last, his voice grim. "We'll talk about it later". She nodded.

Harry, who had remained seated in his corner throughout that whole horrifying conversation might as well have been a statue for all that he moved. His mind had not gone numb as before. He was totally aware. It was his emotions that were numb, so totally suppressed nothing he heard affected him, not even the most horrifying details. He listened as if to a story, something totally unconnected him, as interesting and as horrible as a horror story told at bedtime. He listened calmly, even as every word, every look, every inflection was recorded in his mind. Perhaps it was his mind's way of protecting itself.

The fire flared green again, and Harry turned to look, his face still filled with that unnatural calmness. James and Lily stood up, and from the corner of his eye he glimpsed a glint of gold from their direction. He turned his head to look at them. The glint game again, this time he could see it came from Lily's pocket.

Harry did not think, he simply slipped his wand out of his pocket and silently accioed the glinting object to himself. It zoomed towards him silently. No one noticed; all eyes were on Dumbledore as he stepped through the fireplace.

Almost at the same instant there came a knock upon the door. Dumbledore frowned, startled. James and Lily looked at him, alarmed looks on their faces. "A moment please," he called out after a moment. He took a piece of paper from his pocket and gave it to them. "Memorise this, quickly," he said hurriedly. "Do you have it?" he asked after several moments. He barely waited for their nod before he got another pinch of flue powder and tossed it into the fire. "I will come and talk to you in the morning," he told them.

Harry did not wait for them to leave. Instead he made his way to the door and stood beside it, waiting. The whoosh of the fire signalled the Potters departure.

"Enter" Dumbledore called out. The door opened. It was Snape. Harry did not bother to find out what he wanted. He walked out as soon as Snape entered, before he had a chance to close the door. Snape did not notice, his face was already turned to Dumbledore.

The gargoyle was already sliding back into place, but Harry managed to squeeze through before it closed completely. Harry did not go to his dorm room. In fact Harry had no idea where he was going. He simply walked, letting his subconscious lead him where it would, the same as he'd been doing for the last hour.

Suddenly, a door appeared in front of him. Harry stopped, only then looking around. It was the Room of Requirement. He frowned faintly, a vague sense of curiosity touching him. It was the first thing he'd felt since his emotions shutdown. At the reminder, his emotions retreated again. He was not ready to confront that yet.

He opened the door. It opened to a room he had never seen before. A rush of amazement filled him, breaking through the barrier on his emotions. The room was massive with a ceiling too high to make out and high windows sent shafts of light everywhere. It looked like a city, a city made of thousands and thousands of objects. Broken furniture, brand new wizarding toys, books and jewels. Priceless items and useless rubbish. They were all there, mixed together carelessly. This was no planned storage area. At the very edge of the door, there lay several empty sherry bottles. A vague memory stirred, of Trelawney trying to hide her bottles from the other professors.

He knew the purpose of this room now. But why would his subconscious, or the felix, whatever, want this room? He wondered for a moment if he was supposed to hide here, but it didn't look like a place to hide people, only things. That thought snagged at him for a moment before he pushed it away ruthlessly.

He wandered around the stacks for a few minutes, before he found himself standing in front of a cabinet. He recognised it; it was the broken Vanishing Cabinet in which Montague had got lost the year before. He stared at it for a few seconds, wondering why he'd stopped. There was nothing interesting about this cabinet. He was about to move on, when it suddenly hit him. He knew this cabinet. He had seen it before, many years ago and not in Hogwarts. Suddenly, he was reminded of the conversation between Malfoy and Burgin he, Ron and Hermione had spied on so many months before.

He couldn't think of any reason for Malfoy to want this cabinet fixed, or the connection between this cabinet and the one in Borgin and Burkes but it was obviously something Malfoy wanted badly for him to spend so much time and energy on trying to fix. Perhaps he was jumping to conclusions, but Malfoy had been spending an awful lot of time in the RoM and the cabinets were the only thing he had seen that even hinted at a connection with whatever Malfoy was upto. Anyway, no one was going to miss this cabinet if he was wrong, and if he was right... Anything that Malfoy wanted this badly was obviously not a good thing.

He raised his wand. "Reducto," he focused hard, careful to put only enough strength into the spell to break the cupboard. The cabinet exploded into hundreds of tiny pieces that flew in all directions. His hastily bought up protego shielded him from the ricochet.

He backed away from the mess and looked around. There was a bunch of chests stacked on top of each other nearby, almost making an entire wall. He floated one down. It was dusty and dirty, but it was sturdy enough. He sat down, suddenly overcome with weariness. It had been a long day, and the night seemed even longer, though it was not over yet.

He flicked his wand lazily. "Tempus". He frowned. Only a quarter past two. It had already been midnight when he'd gone up to Dumbledore's office. It seemed impossible that less than two hours had passed since his life had been turned upside down.

His mind shied away from that thought. He couldn't bring himself to think about that yet. Instead, his mind turned to the Felix. He could not feel its presence now. He frowned, wondering why it had felt so different the second time he'd taken it. In the beginning it had felt the same, but it had soon changed. Perhaps his shock had been so great it had overpowered some of the affects of the Felix?

He grimaced, pushing that thought away. Who would have thought clearing your mind would be so easy. You just had to have enough motivation. Harry was determined not to think about anything until he was good and ready. The way he felt right now, that would probably be never, but hey, who was going to make him?

He transferred his wand to his left hand, and then stuck his right hand in his pocket to pull out the tiny bottle of Felix. He found the Felix, but there was something else in his pocket as well. He left the Felix in his pocket and pulled out the other item instead.

He stared at the item in his hand, his eyes going wider, and wider. It was the golden item he'd summoned from Lily Potter's pocket. His mind automatically suppressed the wave of emotion that came with that name before he even noticed it.

He'd seen item's like the one he was holding before. Most recently, in the DoM. Where, apparently he and his friends had managed to destroy the ministry's entire stock. In his hand was a time-turner. Tiny and golden, it looked far more complicated than the only one he'd actually used. It had no chain, and there was a tiny, upwards facing clock set into the top of the hour-glass. There were three knobs set into the side of the clock, all in a line. The clock face looked almost normal; all the numbers were clearly displayed. The only thing strange about the clock face was the three concentric circles engraved on it that bisected the numbers.

There was a thin line leading from each of the circles to one of the knobs. He looked at the knobs more closely; he hadn't noticed before, but there was a tiny engraving on each knob. It was difficult to make out, but after a few minutes of studying it, he managed to identify each engraving. The first knob had an engraving of an hour-glass. It led to the smallest circle. The second knob had an engraving of a sun; it led to the middle circle. The last knob had an engraving of a full moon; it led to the biggest circle.

He traced the hour-glass engraving. It seemed quiet self-evident what that one stood for. He turned his attention to the other two. The moon was a pretty common symbol for a month, although the thought that with a single turning of a knob he could be a whole month in the past seemed mind-boggling. The one in the middle was less clear. It could mean a year, but the fact that it was between the hour-glass and the moon suggested it might stand for a day.

It really was nothing like Hermione's one from third year. It made sense. This was a time-turner used by the unspeakable, they would definitely have something more powerful than the one used by the students. Hagrid had implied earlier that it was common for high-achieving students to be allowed time-turners for extra study.

Harry spun the time-turned in his hand as he thought. He hadn't planned on nicking the time-turner, he hadn't even known what it was he was summoning, though he must have guessed, in some corner of his mind.

After all, it was quiet clear he would need quite a lot of time to sort himself out. Harry swallowed, nausea rising. He really didn't want to face the elephant in his mind, especially since he'd been avoiding it so successfully. But he would have to. The wizarding world being what it was, the Daily Prophet was bound to have the news of what had happened any day now. They were never going to leave him alone.

Harry stared at his hand, his expression bleak. He could guess what their reaction would be. They were going to rip him apart. It would make the events of his fourth and fifth year seem like a picnic. He had known for years how quickly public opinion changed. Today he was 'the chosen one', the one who was going to save them from Voldemort. As soon as they found out he would be another Voldemort in their eyes. Except they would probably make him out to be worse than Voldemort. Voldemort was a real person at least, and had never deceived them by pretending to be anything other than a Dark Lord.

Harry gradually became aware that he was laughing, a harsh and crazed sounding laugh. He cut himself off as soon as he noticed. He didn't have time to go mad.

He made his way to the door and let himself out quietly. He stepped back from the door, then holding the time-turner firmly by the hand, he turned the sun-knob once. He spared a second to hope that the time-turner had not been damaged in the 15 years it spent in the time vortex then he was in the vortex himself, spinning and turning, going faster and faster in a rush of colour and sound. Then it stopped. He was standing in the exact same space as before. Everything looked exactly the same as before, except that that there was no door there now. He started walking up and down thinking about what he would need: a place to rest and sleep, where no one and nothing could find him. He made the third turn and watched as the new room came into being. A plain brown door, sturdy but drab appeared. He opened it and stepped through, closing the door firmly behind him.

He was standing in a mid-sized room; it reminded him a little of the room in the Leaky Cauldron where he'd once stayed. A very big bed took up almost an entire wall, it was piled high with pillows, and a deep red quilt was spread over it. The walls were painted a pale, soothing gold, the carpet was cream coloured and was so comfortable he just stood there for a few minutes, luxuriating in the feel. The wall opposite the bed was taken up by a cheerfully crackling fire. There was scattered furniture in the room, but Harry was too tired to take notice of it.

The only thing he noticed was a covered goblet standing on the bedside cabinet; it seemed out of place in the room. He shrugged and walked to the bed. He flopped down gracelessly, toeing of his shoes and shrugging out of his cloak at the same time. He was too tired to do anything else. He shoved most of the pillows of the bed and wrapped himself up in the quilt.

After a few moments he groaned and sat up. His head was whirling way too much to let him sleep. His attention was drawn to the covered goblet. He picked it up and uncovered it. There was a purple covered potion in the goblet, Harry recognised it at once. It was dreamless sleep, a most useful potion that had helped him more than one.

Apparently his subconscious had known he would need one. He drained the goblet and collapsed back to the bed. He was asleep before he knew it.

AN: I've never written a fanfiction story before, I wrote this partly because it's been stuck in my head for ages and partly to teach myself patience, so I wouldn't think evil thoughts about why my favourite authors haven't updated already. I have the entire story in my head, if I figure out how to get it on paper, I'll update. If anyone wants to read this besides me, you are most welcome :)