Crashing down onto the floor, Harry's cut body bled onto the wooden floors, his breathing shallow and laboured as every fibre of his being cried out in agony. Saidin pummelled him, barely under control. "Moiraine!" His hoarse voice, weak from exhaustion attempted to shout. He could not muster the strength to say her name louder. He winced, pain shot through his body, even in the void it overwhelmed him. A soft voice, Ginny's voice, whispered from beside him — a dream. The world spun, as his head moved. Then it stilled, warmth comforted him. "Moiraine!" he tried a little louder. The effort made him cough, and a red trickle ran down his cheek. Expelling the last of his energy, he pushed himself upright.
A soft patter of feet finally reached his ears. He could not see her, his eyes already closed and his breathing staggered as he fought to stay alive. "Harry!" Moiraine cried out, when the sound reached the room in which he lay, trying to remain calm.
"Powerful, too powerful," Harry whispered repeatedly. His consciousness began to ebb away. Moiraine's soft hands barely registered when they touched his cheeks. The world grew dark. Coldness surged through his body. With a gasp his eyes opened wide in surprise. Then the pain receded. Blinking, he tried to focus on Moiraine before him. She remained an indistinct blur. The healing drained all his reserves. "Thanks," he mumbled. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes. Then the ever-increasing darkness overtook him.
"Are you sure, Harry?" Egwene asked with concern.
"You can save your parents!" Nynaeve interjected, tugging at the long braid hanging over her shoulders. "Think, Harry! Your parents, alive!"
Rand looked up from where he sat, but said nothing.
"Fool Boy!" Nynaeve grumbled.
Harry moved towards her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "I..." words failed him.
"Leave him," Rand finally spoke, his voice soft. Harry turned to face the tall man. Rand's gray eyes held understanding.
"But!" Egwene shouted. A single glance from Rand quieted her. If Harry had not been so distraught, Egwene's reaction would have surprised him more.
Harry gritted his teeth. The decision weighed down upon him. Still the choice was the right one.
Consciousness returned slowly, his eyelids heavy from weariness. Concentrating, he tried to force his eyes open, they would not respond. Even though his eyelids would not react he knew he was outside. A cold dampness seeped through his clothes and a gentle breeze blew across exposed skin. He shivered, but the wind did cause his skin to prickle. Moiraine had to be nearby embracing saidar. Willing himself to move he found that his eyes were not the only part of his body refusing to budge. There were no bonds holding him. At least none he was aware of, his body just refused to move.
"He is awake... barely," a person whispered to someone close. Still too exhausted to do any more he lay still hoping to learn more. No one spoke again. His mind slowly began working again. Had he been captured? Did he really get through his gateway before it closed? The answers were not forthcoming. Losing the fight against fatigue, he drifted back to sleep.
Harry sat alone. The trees above swayed with the wind. The birds chirping were his only companions. "You have a choice," he muttered the words softly to himself.
"Save my parents." He looked down at his one hand. He placed it over his knee "Be with my adopted family." He turned his other hand over. Both palms now rested on his knees — two options. Decisions were difficult at the best of times.
"You don't have to decide today." Moiraine's voice called from behind. Harry did not respond, nor did he turn to look at her. "Neither choice is wrong."
The next few hours went by as he slipped in and out of consciousness. Every time he woke, he felt something hard pressing into his back. A pebble or root, he surmised considering that he was outside lying on the ground. A small bit of life entered him and with a slight flicker, his eyes began to open. It was dark. The only light came from the moon high above in the sky. The pale light illuminated branches overhead.
"Where?" he croaked, trying to prop himself up with his elbows. The ability to move had at least returned. His throat and mouth were dry and his entire body felt numb as he rolled onto his side. The searing pain was gone, thankfully.
Moiraine sat with her back against a tree stump, her dark eyes sparkled in the moonlight. Next to her, asleep lay a small figure. Blinking rapidly numerous times, he tried to determine who the person could be. Thinking proved difficult. A splitting headache formed. Pressing his one hand against the side of his head, he groaned before collapsing. A rock against his side went unnoticed.
It was late evening. A fire crackled in the hearth. Harry sat staring at the dancing flames. The fire reminded him of his time with Ginny. "I love her," Harry whispered to Rand.
"I know," he replied. The flames made his red hair appear alive. Much like Ginny's, though her long red hair was a flame in itself.
"I would love to see my parents again. To speak with them. For them to grow old together knowing their son. But..." Harry sighed. His face fell into his hands. His body shook.
Moiraine moved closer wrapping an arm around Harry. He leaned against her, unable to control his shaking.
"But... it is best to let the past rest. What is done is done," Moiraine whispered in understanding.
Harry nodded. Straightening, he felt ashamed at his apparent weakness. "When I was younger, I sat staring at a mirror. Do you know what I saw?"
Both Moiraine and Rand shook their heads. Harry leaned back against the seat. Moiraine stood from where she sat to sit on a seat opposite him.
"It was no ordinary mirror, no," he chuckled softly. "The mirror showed not a reflection of oneself, but instead reflected your heart's greatest desire. No two people would see the same." He paused to study Moiraine and Rand. They sat perfectly still, taking in every word.
"The mirror showed me a world, one where I stood alongside my parents. They moved and ruffled my hair." Harry's eyes glazed over in memory. "It was as if I could feel them standing next to me." Silence filled the room. "You see, being with my family had always been my hearts greatest desire."
"But now..." Rand began slowly, urging Harry to continue.
"Nothing's changed." Harry forced another laugh. "Nothing has. Being with my family is still my greatest desire."
"Ah" Moiraine said with a nod. Rand still looked oddly confused.
"You never knew your parents," Harry spoke directly to Rand. The man agreed.
"Would you trade them for the man who loved and nurtured you?"
"No!" Rand said vehemently. His mouth opened to say more, but it closed. His eyes brightened in understanding. Rand stared intently at Harry before he spoke again. "You see them as your parents, but your family has changed."
"As much as I love my parents, the Weasleys are my family. Ginny is my family."
"You would give that much to be with her?" Moiraine asked raising an eyebrow.
"Yes," was Harry's only reply.
When his eyes finally opened again the sun was nearly halfway to its zenith. Surprisingly, he felt rather good after a night's rest. His headache was gone and he could move about. Coming to his senses, he noticed a flash of red that could only mean one thing.
"Ginny!" He shouted at her where she was sitting busy talking to Moiraine. The exertion caused the world to spin and blur around him. Frowning he stared at the fuzzy figures before him, "But… how?" His green eyes moved about rapidly in confusion as the world began to steady itself again.
"Good morning to you too, Harry," Ginny said getting to her feet to walk over to him. "Nice to see you on this fine day." She laughed, yet the smile did not reach her eyes. The bags underneath them told of a sleepless night.
"Sorry." He shook his head. "I was not expecting to find you," he replied standing to face her. Her shoulders relaxed with relief. Pulling her into a tight hug, he kissed the top of her head while savouring the feeling of being held.
"It's good to see you moving again, Harry," Ginny muttered into his chest where her head rested. Placing his chin on the top of her red hair, he studied Moiraine. Lines of worry creased the older woman's face.
"What happened?" Moiraine asked finally. With the question asked, Harry let go of Ginny and moved to join the Aes Sedai where she sat.
Harry glanced about, more intent on his surroundings than the question asked. They were somewhere deep within the Forbidden Forest. In the distance stood a small tower of Hogwarts. The angle told him little of where they were. The scale, however, confirmed that they were far from the school. His head swivelled around again as he scanned the surrounding forest. Eventually he was satisfied that they were alone. Only then did he began to explain the events leading up to the previous day's disaster. There were no nice ways to put it. He had made a mistake. Harry prayed that none of the students were hurt or killed during the duel. The Light alone knows how much power he used inside the hall, and that was not even taking Dumbledore into account. Even while retelling the story, his mind worked. He did not say what concerned him most. Where did all the power come from? The ter'angreal alone could not have been sufficient.
With each passing minute of Harry's tale Moiraine grew paler. "So what is so bad about the True Power?" Ginny asked innocently from next to him. Both Harry and Moiraine remained silent for a while, any other time they might have laughed, but the topic was neither joke nor fairy tale. Drawing on so much power had been dangerous and having it beaten off so easily was difficult to comprehend. The True Power was not a force to be taken lightly, though no more powerful than the One Power.
"The True Power…" Moiraine began and she explained the nature and difference between it and the One Power. Ginny's eyes grew wider as the explanation continued and Harry wrapped a comforting arm around her. Her dazed expression indicated that some of the explanation had sunk in.
"So Death really did give those things to the three brothers," Ginny said in awe, a tinge of horror laced her words , her teeth chattered.
"I am afraid so," Harry said breathing out heavily, "though it was not Death but the Dark One. I had hoped that it was only a story… The cloak and now the wand confirmed it, unfortunately." Nervously his hands worked through his hair. Sitting back he looked at a stray red hair from Ginny in his hand. He laughed bitterly, thinking of his own shade of red. "Not much use for a disguise now, is there?"
"But surely, with you channelling saidin directly... it must have been enough!" Ginny sounded desperate, ignoring Harry's statement. Her entire posture pleaded for him to say it was so.
"I am afraid not." Harry looked directly at Moiraine. His voice grew soft, the tone ominous. "I used everything I had and more and still I barely managed to push back his shields." Moiraine held his gaze.
Sitting still without uttering a word, each contemplated the events. The only noise came from rustling leaves moving about on the forest floor. Moiraine's even breathing contrasted with Ginny's unsteady anxious gasps. Harry, like Moiraine, had calmed himself enough to be at ease. Aes Sedai learned to control their emotions and exterior expressions. He was learning, but as yet was nowhere near as good as most Aes Sedai. While studying the area around them again, he noticed a trunk lying beside Moiraine. "What's in there?" he asked, irritated for not having noticed it earlier.
"Clothes and a few other priceless belongings," she replied glancing at the chest. "I decided it would be best to leave the house as quickly as possible before someone came in search of us… I assumed that if you had trouble with Dumbledore then it would be too great a fight for me."
"That was a wise decision." Harry nodded. Straightening his back, he forced himself to be more positive. "At least we know what we are up against now. Maybe not exactly how powerful, but we know more than we did." Getting to his feet, he managed to exude confidence and control. When he spoke, his voice was firm and strong. "Moiraine."
"Yes," she replied instantly to the tone of his voice.
"We will need to return. The White Tower might have knowledge we require." there was no doubt in his voice. "I fear we need some things we left behind." Knowledge being the high up on the list, but not the only thing. Moiraine's eyes dimmed sadly. Still she gave the faintest of nods in understanding.
"But," Ginny cried out leaping to feet. "What about me, you can't leave me here!" She did not look angry or sulky. Instead, her whole body radiated defiance. Her eyes and attitude implied she would be going with them, no matter what either of them said. Harry paused, staring into her blazing eyes. He felt her holding onto saidar. Moiraine stood impassive. The growing tingle on his arms told him she had embraced the source as well. No doubt, she saw the glow around Ginny.
Moiraine studied Ginny for a few moments. The way Ginny stood declared her unwavering attitude. Moiraine turned to face Harry, her gaze searching. A choice needed to be made and only one future would hold Ginny. They both knew what needed to be done. Too much had been sacrificed for Ginny. Eventually with a nod from Moiraine, Harry conceded. "Fine, but you will enrol at the White Tower as a Novice." Harry sighed with the weight of the decision. He spoke to Ginny, but he still studied the Aes Sedai. "It will be a delay, but probably worth it in the end."
Moiraine came up behind Ginny and placed a hand on her back. "If you become a Novice you will not be able to leave the Tower until you become a full Sister, an Aes Sedai," she said softly.
"So," Ginny snorted while turning rapidly, allowing her brown eyes to bore into Moiraine's. "I can learn, I can become an Aes Sedai." Her jaw was set and stray rays of sunlight glinted off her red hair. She seemed alive with fury.
Trivial things like a furious teenager did not bother Moiraine. She could handle more than one at a time, even if they were ta'veren, which Ginny was not by his reckoning. "It might take years," Moiraine pointed out.
Ginny's voice cooled, though it still came out forceful. "Even if it takes years, I want to learn everything." The fact that her studies would delay their return did not seem to register. She reminded Harry of Egwene, the Amyrlin Seat of the White Tower, a strong determined woman. Harry prayed the two never became friends.
"Very well," Harry said settling the matter. Honestly, it might take years just to learn enough about the True Power for him to return with confidence. In any case, time was not really a concern. Time could be bent to some degree within the Portal. He turned away. The Portal could control time, but it had its rules — odd rules, but rules nevertheless.
He fought to control his emotions. Images of a small boy sitting in front of a mirror crept up on him. Moiraine stepped back and gave him a slight curtsy. Her actions cleared his reverie. Walking to the trunk, she removed a dark blue dress, the one she had worn when they came to England. "I shall see you in a few minutes," she replied.
"She does not look too pleased," Ginny said breaking his concentration. "I mean, if I cannot go to the White Tower then it's fine."
Harry slipped and arm around her waist and leaned down to give her a light kiss. Holding on to her he walked to the open trunk. "No, it is not you…" he replied at finally with a sigh. "She came here to escape her past... for a new life. Now I am taking her back again."
Kneeling in front of the trunk Harry removed his own set of clothes. After giving Ginny a kiss on her cheek, he went in search of a place to change. Removing his Hogwarts robes, he dressed in his all black uniform. The Golden Dragon pins returned and sat neatly on his collar. The seven coloured stripes beside the dragons indicated his position. The last addition was his sword. Attaching it to his back, he hid it from view. With its weight resting on his back, he felt unusually comfortable for the first time since he had stopped wearing it.
Walking back he found Moiraine waiting for him behind a row of bushes. "I have something to show you," she whispered, ensuring that Ginny could not hear. A gateway flared to life and they stepped through.
When Harry returned sometime later, he kept his distance from where Moiraine and Ginny were talking. He could feel his blood pumping through his veins from what he had done while he allowed the illusions around him to dissipate again revealing his black hair and green eyes. His hand rubbed his forehead, which was still sensitive. The sword on his back weighed down heavily on him with what he had done with it.
"The life of Novice is very difficult."
"I understand," replied Ginny. "Well... I think I do."
"You will be bound to the Tower till you are either an Aes Sedai or you are released due to insufficient strength in the Power. You are strong, so the second will not be a concern. Are you sure you want to make this commitment?"
Ginny shifted her weight uncomfortably. The full realisation of her choice beginning to dawn on her. Turning away from Moiraine, she studied the distant towers of Hogwarts. "You say it is dangerous to learn using the One Power?"
"Very," Moiraine agreed.
"Then my best chance of survival lies at the White Tower." Ginny turned to face Moiraine again. The Aes Sedai's face was impassive. "Then I have little choice but to go."
"There are always choices," Moiraine replied.
"I have made mine."
"Very well, Ginny."
Harry took a deep breath before emerging from the bushes. He needed one thing before he returned. "There is one more thing," Harry said joining them after they had finished. "Two actually..."
Moiraine wanted to say something. Before she could, he already stood before Ginny. Both his hands took hold of hers and he stared into her deep brown eyes. "Ginny," he whispered. "I would like you to bond me as your Warder." His tone gentle and soft. He willed his green eyes to convey his desire and love to Ginny.
"Harry, Novices aren't allowed Warders!" Moiraine exclaimed over Ginny's excited squeals. He rolled his eyes.
"No one needs to know," he replied. "Besides I would feel much better knowing where she is and how she is while we are away from here."
"Harry!" Moiraine breathed through her clenched teeth. "Are you sure about this?" When he nodded, she breathed out heavily in resignation. "I should have known this would happen sooner rather than later." The only other sign of acceptance came when Moiraine began to explain the weave to Ginny. Her eyes glowed with anticipation. "Ginny," the woman said, "Remember there is a price to pay for this. Are you sure about this?"
Ginny gave Harry a quick look and then she nodded. Harry shared a look with Moiraine. He could tell she knew just as well as him that Ginny did not comprehend the decision she made. Harry did not like it, but it was the only way for him to really protect her. Nothing else, save being alongside her everyday, would grant her as much safety.
With them sitting to one side practising the weave, Harry decided he had one more thing he needed to do. Seizing saidin, he wove a gateway and stepped out into relative safety of the bushes outside the Burrow. Looking around he found Mrs Weasley busy in the kitchen, cooking away nervously. Her face contorted in pain. The news about Ginny must have reached her already.
Shimmering out of existence, he Apparated silently into Ginny's room where he knew he would find what he was looking for. There on her table lay ink and parchment. Conjuring a quill, he began to compose a letter.
When he finished, he accidentally bumped a small book, which toppled to the ground. The sound was not loud but enough to be heard downstairs. In a house, supposedly empty, it was bound to attract attention. Waiting for a few seconds, he finally heard feet coming up the staircase. Filled with the One Power he moved himself down to the kitchen, which he knew to be empty.
With everything done, he wavered. His conscience was weighing heavily on him, the letter he had written felt heavy in his hand. With a resigned sigh, he made his decision. Then instead of leaving he hid himself in a corner that would not be visible to the oncoming Mrs Weasley. As the wait continued he replaced the illusions around him turning himself back into Rand. The sound of her approaching feet was the only means by which to monitor her approach.
With each step closer he doubted his decision even more. The seconds felt like hours, then almost in relief she entered the kitchen. Still oblivious to Harry's presence she moved to her cooking pots and began to stir again. Making his decision he stalked quietly behind her, in the blink of an eye he grabbed her, wove a gateway and pulled her through.
Stumbling out of the kitchen and into the forest he had to fight to keep her subdued. Ginny and Moiraine bolted upright from where they sat in front of the now dissipating gateway. The frantic struggling ceased almost as quickly as it began when Mrs Weasley realised that it was Ginny standing in front of her. Harry let go and Molly sprinted desperately towards her only daughter.
"Ginny," she cried out. Ginny's brown eyes widened in surprise as Mrs Weasley came running towards her. Left behind, Harry's skin prickled intensely. He had not let go of saidin himself, Mrs Weasley had a temper as strong as Ginny's. With that in mind there was little doubt that this could turn into a fight.
"Mum," she replied nervously just before her mother turned around to face Harry again. Her wand held firmly in her hand. "I am alright," Ginny cried out desperately before things could turn ugly. "They are friends," she tried to explain further. It was no use considering that Mrs Weasley saw only a red haired boy and not Harry standing before her.
"Be quiet," Mrs Weasley demanded as her fiery eyes, much like Ginny's, blazed at Harry and Moiraine. Her other hand gripped Ginny's wrist holding her close to her body protectively. Harry had to admire Mrs Weasley's bravery. Facing near impossible odds, the woman stood before her daughter, shielding her.
Images of his own mother lying down her life for him flashed through his mind. The sudden wave of emotion coupled with images of a green flash of light and a shrill cry almost caused him collapse. Reigning in his emotions, he poised himself. Lifting his hands in the air, Harry tried to convey his desire for peace. "Mrs Weasley," Harry began slowly, his voice calm and even, belying his inner struggle, as he tried to take control of the situation. A jet of light burst from the tip of Mrs Weasley's wand and flew straight at Harry. It only got halfway before it impacted against a shield he had conjured instinctively. To Mrs Weasley's credit, she did not flinch or back down. The only sign she noticed the power came from a faint flicker of fear in her eyes. Harry had suspected, but now he knew from who Ginny received her courage.
"Mum, let him explain," Ginny tried again from behind, placing a soothing hand on her mother's shoulder.
Ginny's gentle touch affected her more than Harry's power. "How..." Mrs Weasley muttered to herself.
Taking a deliberate step forward Harry still held his hands in the air. Moiraine, who was never far behind, followed him. The gesture was meaningless considering his abilities but it still conveyed his intentions. "Please, let me explain," Harry spoke again calmly. "You might have heard of the events that happened at the school yesterday..."
"You attacked the headmaster and kidnapped Ginny," came her forceful interjection. "And to think that she actually trusted you!"
"Mum," came Ginny's frantic voice, but again she was cut off. This time by Harry.
"Yes, I did have a fight with the Headmaster and Ginny did come with me..." he paused, placing his hands behind his back thoughtfully. "I did however not start the fight nor did I kidnap Ginny," his gray eyes never moving from Mrs Weasley's. Well he might have started things, but not the fight itself.
She remained quiet, and Ginny found it within herself not to interrupt this time. It was his mess to sort out. "First, I think it would be best if I were to properly introduce myself," he said with a grin. Mrs Weasley's eyes narrowed and her firm grip around her wand tightened.
"I was lost to the world sometime ago. I travelled to a time where I learned many things," while he was talking the weaves around his body began to dissolve, revealing his raven black hair and his green eyes. Even his scar became visible. "I returned a few weeks ago in secret in order to fulfil my destiny," the wide-eyed stunned expression on Mrs Weasley's face did not deter him. "I ran into an unexpected problem... Dumbledore," he continued to explain. "And yesterday there was a misunderstanding that led to the events that you heard about."
The world around them went silent, not even the forest dared to utter a sound. Molly Weasley was staring dumbfounded into the penetrating green eyes of Harry Potter. Her hands began to tremble and her grip on her wand began to slip, allowing the wooden stick to fall to the ground.
"It really is him, mum," Ginny whispered into her mother's ear. Mrs Weasley's only response was a slight nod. The fear in her eyes vanished, she believed. There were a million reasons for her not to trust him, but she did. Moiraine for some reason chuckled, and Harry could think of only one reason.
He was ta'veren, not a very strong one presently, but he still influenced people around him. Coming ever closer Harry eventually wrapped his arms around the only woman who had ever loved him as a mother. The mother for whom he sacrificed his own. Her body felt tense in his embrace, but as the seconds ticked by she began to relax. Her stiff arms began to bend and eventually found their way around his back.
A large comfortable smile graced his face as he stared down at Ginny who still stood behind her mother. That all too familiar and comforting Mrs Weasley hug filled him now and he could feel his shirt becoming damp as she let go of two years worth of suffering.
Ginny too joined the two of them by enveloping her arms around both of them. Together they stood for a long time until Mrs Weasley finally managed to come to terms with the boy standing in front of her.
Pulling away she smiled before her eyes narrowed in anger again. "That still does not give you the right to fight Dumbledore!" Her hands settled onto her hips and her voice boomed around them. "Nor to lie!"
Harry stared at her indulgently before he began to laugh. He had missed the scoldings of his adopted family. "I love you too, Mrs Weasley," Harry replied, meaning every word pulling her back into his arms.
A fresh bout of tears leaked down her cheeks as she allowed herself a small laugh. "We all love you, Harry." Came her slurred response.
When everyone settled down again Harry began to explain the basics of what had happened over the past few weeks. He skipped around his past, just like he had done with Ginny. His explanations were craftily designed to lead up to a crucial point. The fact that they needed to leave and that Ginny was to go with them.
Along the way he was careful to constantly explain the dangers of learning to channel unaided, especially the fact that only one in four people who could channel survived if not taught. Harry could see the knowing smiles on the faces of Moiraine and Ginny as his plans became clearer.
"Ginny can channel," Harry said finally and Mrs Weasley's eyes widened in surprise and then understanding.
Her motherly tenderness returned as she remembered things from the past. "Ginny has always been a special girl," she said softly touching her daughter's cheek with an outstretched palm.
"I cannot hope to defeat the Elder Wand wielded by Dumbledore," Harry began while mother and daughter shared a special moment. "Moiraine and I will have to return in order to learn more about the possible strength of the wand," Harry continued while observing Mrs Weasley's every reaction.
Her hand jerked away from Ginny and her gaze darted back to Harry. "But... Ginny, you can't just leave her here without anyone to help her, to guide her like you said a person needed to be!" her tone was desperate.
"We have little choice," Moiraine interjected. "We have to return to find answers."
"You can take her with you," she burst out her eyes pleading.
"We considered that, but taking her could be dangerous," Moiraine replied, having taken over the conversation. "Ginny would not be able to remain with us at all times. Your daughter would be enrolled into the White Tower, the place where all young girls learn to channel."
"Harry, you would never let any harm come to her," Mrs Weasley said again.
Harry turned to face Ginny. He hated the manipulation, but in the end it would all be for the best. With Mrs Weasley's blessing, the entire trip away would be much less stressful.
"On one condition," Harry said, his face serious.
"What condition?" Mrs Weasley and Ginny said together, the one with apprehension and other with curiosity.
"I would like your blessing for Ginny to bond with me," he said with all sincerity, his green eyes locked onto Mrs Weasley's. Ginny sat wide-eyed in surprise. Mrs Weasley seemed taken aback. He had not planned on asking for this. Sitting here, with her, it just felt right.
A few minutes later the stunned Weasley women were finally able to speak. "She is young," Mrs Weasley's voice replied tentatively. She remained quiet for a long time, looking at Harry then Ginny and finally out into the forest. Her eyes seemed distant as a million thoughts were processed. "But... a marriage bond. Is that necessary?" she asked questioningly. She did not refuse outright, it was a good sign.
"It is not a marriage bond, but it offers much more. It will allow me to know where she is and if she is safe," Harry explained. "It is not ideal, I know, but given the circumstances I am sure all of us would feel better in the knowledge that I can look after her."
Mrs Weasley took the time to consider his words. Little of what he said would be making sense to her right now, but he hoped that the fundamentals had sunk in. Finally, she turned to face her only daughter, but spoke to Harry. "If you are to leave this time for who knows how long, then I can see no better way for you to care for her."
Harry moved to stand before Ginny. Her brown eyes were wide with uncertainty and joy.
"Are you sure, mum?," came her broken voice, too excited to get the words out of her mouth properly. Looking into her eyes he could see the world spinning around inside her head. The radiant smile on her face and the light in her eyes told him there was nothing in the world she wanted more than to bond with him.
"I am sure," her mother replied hesitantly, her trust placed completely in Harry. Her eyes came to rest on him and a wordless conversation passed between them — a promise made. Harry would do everything in his power to ensure Ginny came to no harm. "Yes, I am sure," she said with more determination and confidence.
This was all happening very fast and not at all the way Harry had wanted to bond Ginny, but he could not deny that this was what he wanted. The joy of having someone inside you, and this time around he would have a woman inside him who loved him as much, if not more, than he loved her.
"Are you ready?" came the now-anxious voice of Ginny.
"If you are," Harry replied pulling her into his arms. When she pulled back his skin tingled and goosebumps formed on his forearms. Ginny's eyes glazed over a bit as she concentrated within her own void. The weave, though simple for an Aes Sedai, would take all of her skill and more. A few times Moiraine stopped her, each time correcting a slight flaw in the weave.
Through it all, he did not feel anything except the tenderness of her hands on his cheeks. His eyes were closed — waiting. The knowledge of what was to come calmed him. The predictable cold of the One Power enveloped him as the various threads of spirit he knew she wove settled on him.
Gasping for air his eyes flew upon in ecstasy. Most of his weariness disappeared and deep within him a small bud, which was Ginny, began to grow. A feeling of anxiousness began to emanate from the budding flower. The feelings were not his own. The link with her began to take root within him, allowing the feelings filtering through to become almost as strong as his own. The most powerful emotion being love and when their eyes met again the feeling flared with even greater intensity.
A wide smile spread onto his lips, "I love you, Ginny," he proclaimed. She did not respond. Her eyes were wide in an attempt to control the flood of information swamping her from him. "Relax and just let it fill you." He coaxed her and the change in her appearance was profound. The look of panic and strain left her eyes and they became distant as she drank in every part of him.
An audible sigh of relief and pleasure escaped her lips. "It… no… words," she muttered almost incoherently. None save those who experienced a Warder Bond would ever be able to comprehend the enormity of it. Few words existed to explain what passed between a Warder and his Aes Sedai and even fewer for a couple that loved each other.
"Are they bonded now?" Mrs Weasley asked Moiraine who was standing next to her with a comforting arm around her shoulders.
Moiraine took a moment to study them before she nodded. Tears rimmed her eyes and she dabbed them away. Mrs Weasley was not far behind. She hurried towards them and flung her arms around both Harry and Ginny.
When the time came to leave this world, Harry stood alongside Moiraine and Ginny. Things might not have worked out as planned, but he could leave with Ginny by his side to comfort him and with the knowledge that a prophecy had been fulfilled.
Walking through the gateway within Hogwarts, Mrs Weasley's words to Ginny echoed in his mind. "To me you will now always be Mrs Potter."
An hour later Moiraine turned to Harry. "What was the second thing you wanted to mention earlier?"
"Ah, yes. I was thinking..."
The sun, an orange ball of light, hung low over the horizon by the time Snape managed to get away from Hogwarts and Dumbledore. The events of the previous night haunted every stride. The warmth of the day did little to comfort him. The whole day was spent locked inside the Headmaster's office. He along with a very confused and agitated Dumbledore replayed the events of the past few weeks inside a Pensieve.
Every encounter either of them had with Rand had been viewed and studied and yet after countless hours they had nothing. The boy along with his supposed mother, Moiraine, proved to be a mystery greater than either suspected. There were no records of them anywhere. Not even in the states where they claimed to have lived. The fact that they were using aliases disturbed Dumbledore even more, since Rand signed into the school registry with a blood sampling quill. In itself the signing was the most distressing. It begged the question, how many others have signed with false names?
The path wound its way towards a small gate. The one Snape always used when meeting Voldemort. It screeched as it swung. He spared it no thought. Outside the wards, he did not remove his wand. With a small twist of his hand, Snape closed his eyes and Apparated away from the school. The world tightened around him as he travelled. When the sensation vanished, his eyes opened reluctantly. He despised this place. His wand remained hidden as he strode to the large building not far from where he stood. There would be little need of a wand. Schooling his features he continued the arduous walk up to the house that was now the headquarters of Voldemort's movement. Almost a week had passed since his last visit.
The news Snape brought with him was difficult to classify. It was not necessarily bad news nor was particularly good. The lack of distinction made him more nervous than usual. Systematically, he closed the distance to the house before calmly walking through the front door. A few minor Death Eaters were standing outside, supposed guards, and Snape gave them his usual sneer. They were brainless thugs and nothing more.
Inside he made his way up to the second floor where the Dark Lord himself waited specifically for him. Snape had been summoned a few hours ago and his arm still burned with agony. He grimaced. Keeping the Voldemort waiting never went unrewarded. Still it was one of the things he endured for the greater cause.
With a deep calming breath Snape pushed open large doors, which led into what had become the official office of the Dark Lord. It appeared more like a gathering hall. Death Eaters stood around the room, each trying to look more impressive than those around them. It was absurd to be honest. There would be no winners in this room, each was a tool that would expire at some point. Dreams of power and authority were mere illusions.
"Severus," came the high pitched voice of a snake like man.
"My Lord," Snape replied giving a deep ungraceful bow, his cloak moving in attempted grandeur. He had never been good at acting humble.
"You are late," the Dark Lords voice was low and held a tinge of excitement. Rising, Snape finally took in the man before him. Voldemort was gaunt as usual and his eyes burned with hate. So much that a man would have thought they were red, but it was just a trick of the eye. Voldemort was just a man. Powerful, yes, but just a man. Snape smiled inwardly.
"My deepest apologies, my Lord. I was detained by Professor Dumbledore trying to determine the identity of the boy," the answer came smoothly as it held no lie. There would be no need to fake replies today. Nothing he knew could jeopardise him.
"The boy, yes," Voldemort said slowly rising to his feet to stand before Snape. "Tell me, what happened yesterday?"
Snape gave him a quick recount of events and the snake like eyes of Voldemort flared in surprise and then in anticipation. Voldemort, the fool, was probably seeing Rand as a new powerful dark ally, a friend that could stand up against Dumbledore. Snape dared not tell him what Dumbledore thought about Rand. The boy was an enigma, but probably a greater threat to Voldemort. Snape played this game carefully, sides were never to be chosen lightly.
"So this little child used wandless magic?" Voldemort's face contorted in confusion. "At such a young age it should be impossible and never with such power," his voice low so that only Snape could hear. A hint of awe and possibly fear crossed the Dark Lord's face before it disappeared into an arrogant sneer. Arrogance would cost the man, of that Snape was sure. "That matters little..."
Snape twitched. A loud explosion rocked the building. "What was that?" demanded Voldemort. Every wand had already been withdrawn and was being held firmly. Groups of twos and threes began to move out the back by Voldemort's orders. This was the inner circle and the men and women in it were not fools when it came to combat — . Wweak, but not fools.
Unlike the Order they were well trained in various manoeuvres and team work played a large role in it. A man alone was an easy target, groups working together were always more effective. With more than half the room empty Voldemort began to relax again, the tension barely visible, but to one as observant as Snape, it was clear. Reading people had allowed him to thrive so long in this game. With everyone occupied scanning the room for any intruders, Snape allowed himself to settle down. Death was a certainty. Snape moved quietly to one corner. There was no need to hasten his decision.
Every man save Voldemort and Snape jumped into the air as numerous loud cracks echoed around the room from outside, though Voldemort's eyes twitched slightly. The sound was familiar, The power accompanying it as well. Snape slouched casually against the wall, his wand gripped loosely in his hand. Whoever the boy was, Snape would see more clearly after today. There was still a chance the boy had been misguided when he fought Dumbledore — a lack of communication perhaps.
Snape's vision blurred. With care he used his wand to shield debris. The room settled, he alone still stood. With a fake groan, he lay down on the soot-covered floor. The entire front part of the room burned with white hot flames. Pushing himself up onto his knees with mumbled cries of agony, he surveyed the damage. Nearly every person in the room lay dead. Only those near the back of the room like himself had been spared. Another quick glance... or had they survived? None moved. Voldemort alone appeared unhurt. The glow of a shield surrounded him. Muttering a soft curse, Snape wished for such reflexes. Despite it all, Snape felt around under his cloak. He was relieved to find no wounds. A small scratch to his forehead was the worst of his injuries. Madame Pomfrey would patch the cut quickly once he returned to Hogwarts.
With the smoke almost gone a tall figure in a black cloak strode into the room. He had red hair and piercing gray eyes. On his collar were two golden pins that Snape could not make out. He refrained from looking closer, though the seven bands of colour next to them were clear. What was Rand doing in some sort of uniform? What Snape saw, just added more questions to the ever-growing list. He frowned. The boy was not acting alone but appeared to be part of some sort of organisation.
"My apologies for arriving unannounced," Rand said calmly. Snape ogled him, the boy had been half dead or so it had appeared inside the Pensieve. Snape eyed him calmly, death did not come. Rand stared straight at him. Despite Snape's calm, he shivered at the penetrating gaze.
"How dare you!" Voldemort screamed for all his worth at Rand, sounding like a little boy whose toys had been taken. Snape snorted. "Crucio!" the furious Voldemort howled. It took Snape a moment to realise the curse was aimed at him. Crouching he waited. No pain accompanied the words. "Crucio, Crucio!" Voldemort shouted with more venom each time, still nothing. "No..." came a cry before it was cut-off abruptly by a soft gurgling.
Standing up again, Snape turned to face a grimacing, red-faced Voldemort and laughed at the horrifying scene before him. Standing up against the Dark Lord was Rand, a sword buried through Voldemort up to the hilt. Ripping the blade out, Rand stepped back and let the man fall. With Voldemort on his knees Rand bent down and whispered something into his ear.
Words struggled to come out of the Voldemort's lips, but no sound made it. The Dark Lord's wide eyes told enough of a story. Stepping back again, Rand turned his attention to Snape before a green jet of light struck Voldemort. Snape's wide eyes widened even more as the Dark Lord slumped. Snape was not disgusted. He merely felt surprised at the hardness in the man before him. Unconsciously, Snape licked his lips lightly as a grin formed. It vanished quickly enough, however. The boy dropped to his knees, clutching his forehead. Snape had not seen the wounding blow. Debris, perhaps?
Snape stood, his mind and body at ease. "I hope you will tell Dumbledore of what happened today," Rand said, breaking through Snape's thoughts. Rand turned and before Snape could ask a question, the air shimmered and warped. Then Rand was gone.
For a long while Snape stood motionless. His mouth, hung open faintly. Concentrating the air before him changed similarly. A small familiar gate came into view. He considered his options. His lips turned up in a smile. Then he stepped through the hole in the air. "Oh, you can count on me telling."
He laughed, mirthlessly, before him stood the little gate leading up to Hogwarts. Gathering himself, he ran. His dusty, blood stained and torn cloak bellowed behind him in the wind. Ignoring the open mouthed stares of various students he eventually reached Dumbledore's office. Purposefully out of breath.
"I suppose Voldemort did not take it well," Dumbledore said quietly, his bright blue eyes looking at Snape with compassion.
"Rand... he..." Snape panted. "Voldemort is dead!" he finally managed between breaths.
"That is not possible!" Dumbledore shouted jumping to his feet. "The Horcruxes!"
Snape cocked his head to the side. He cursed inwardly, another puzzle. A puzzle which meant there were still three players. Four if he counted himself. He sat down with a frown. Potter was still somewhere unaccounted. Despite it all, that fact worried him most of all.
I was not proud of what I did that day. To my dying day I am sure images will haunt my mind. All those years ago when I was still a boy, Dumbledore had revealed to me a prophecy. A few words uttered by a woman in all but a few seconds. How those words changed not only my world, but the lives of every person to come near me. To this day, I still wish all the changes could have been for the good.
The first blow in a long succession of pains had been the death of my parents, laying down their lives so I might live. Their actions were an unselfish act of love that I have carried with me in my heart ever since. The protection they offered saved me. It saved me from a killing curse, it saved me from myself and even to this day, their sacrifice guides my actions.
The abuse and neglect I suffered at the hands of my mother's family almost had me believing a thing such as love never existed. I was sure love had to be a myth, invented to torture the souls of the living. How wrong I was, but it was a journey counted in years to learn. It took a red haired family, especially their daughter, the youngest of seven, to teach me that love is not only a myth but a power so strong that nothing can succeed against its onslaught.
The family taught me the love of friends. Ginny showed me the love of a woman and eventually a wife, an emotion so raw it overcame the dark depths of my past. They became my family in whom I could feel my parents. Knowing their love, I have been able to come to terms with the loss of my parents and being an orphan. They adopted me as their son, their strange green-eyed black haired son.
Just when my life seemed to be going well the prophecy became known to me. Those words: so few yet so dark and horrifying. They became my nightly companions, uttering them over and over again in my mind. I was the one with the power, yet lying in my bed I could not fathom what the power could have been. In those short moments after my world came crashing down, my hand was held by Ginny. The radiant red haired, brown eyed, fiery girl, whom I loved.
Without her constant support and unwavering love, I would not be here. Even though we had barely dated a month, the piece of her heart she had given me warmed my body during my trials away from Britain. Time and distance were poor boundaries to the link I shared with her. Unyielding and undying, that natural love fuelled my existence.
Each moment of suffering I lived through while away was endured in the knowledge that it would strengthen me in my fight against Voldemort. Whenever I felt like forsaking the world, images of Ginny would wash over me. With her brown eyes staring down at me, I laboured on. I had to live for her, I had to be strong for her.
Voldemort, a poor man driven along a path of no return. Destroying the only part of a man that was worth anything, his soul. What for? Eternal life? What is a life without end if there is no one to love? Why live if not to feel the warmth of another's affection?
In his final moments, my sword driven through his chest, his snake-like eyes softened and the boy that had once been shone through. He was but a man, confused and alone in a world that had not loved him. How close had I been to becoming like him?
I had a saving grace, parents that not only loved me, but also each other. It felt as if he was conceived with the aid of a potion, by a man that did not love the woman. Without love he had been born, without love he had lived, and without love he had died, of this I am sure. No one to mourn the passing of what could have been a great man. He lived by the only lesson he learned, hate. Yet, those eyes that stared back at me when his life ebbed away seemed lost and frightened.
Removing the blade from his body, I watched the last bit of life leave him and he slumped to the ground to join the countless number of his followers who were strewn about the room. I am still ashamed of those actions, killing men without a trial. In those moments I was almost as evil as the men I killed. My very soul cried out. I am sure if I were ever to see my eyes at that moment I would be frightened and disturbed by what I saw. My eyes would have been dark and cold as a winter's night. The sole purpose of my actions being to kill. I pray no one I love would ever see me like that.
Revenge was bitter sweet. I had always thought while lying in my bed I would savour the moment when I destroyed the world's darkest wizard. I was sure it would be my greatest moment. I have never been more wrong in my life. To this day I despise myself, even with the countless lives I took before and after. All I see are those pitiful, frightened eyes of Tom Riddle, the eyes of the boy who was lost at such a tender age.
That day had not been without joy. Being with Ginny since then and having her being called Mrs Potter lives on as the most incredible moment of my existence.
Tonight ends another chapter. I have stepped down as Amyrlin. Tomorrow we journey back to Britain. My studies are complete, Ginny about to be raised to the shawl, a full Aes Sedai. Seven years, this journey has lasted away from home. Time, however, has little meaning any more. Light! I hope what little we have learned will be enough.
A/N And so ends the first part of my story. Hope you enjoyed, and that you are anxious to start reading the sequel. Thank you to all those who have read the story. Please take the time to leave a comment about the chapter and more importantly the story as a whole. I know the first few chapters weren't great, but I would love to know what you guys and girls thought of it all. Any ideas, hints or comments will help to improve the next part.