Harry Wyllt and the Path to the Crown
His breath was short now. He could feel his heart pound in his ribcage and his tongue still tasting of, well, of her. He didn't know how to define the taste, but it clearly wasn't something he had eaten before. It didn't taste like strawberry or vanilla. It wasn't spicy or sour or sweet. Her lips had the consistency of marshmallows, which he could define. Her breath too seemed short, but she was smiling at him. She was still clutching his shoulder blades and holding him to her, but now she wasn't actually putting strength behind it.
She nuzzled her head against his chest, sighing in relief as she gently began to rock to the sides. He instinctively hugged her back, just like he had kissed her after sensing her distress. Hermione wasn't a bad looking girl, he knew that. At the same time he knew this was wrong. It felt as if he was abusing her trust, in leading her on. What choice did he have, however? He couldn't break the girl, not when her only source of solace was him.
He was a pitiful excuse of a man, but then again if this was all it took to make the girl happy, who was he to say no? He didn't dislike the kisses certainly, and holding a girl between their arms had always been one of the most desired things for males from hormone age upwards, but he still couldn't help dislodge the feeling of wrongness within him.
"Harry." She whispered his name like a sort of plead, making him cringe. "I love you."
He clenched slightly his hands, which resulted in tightening his hug to the girl, before replying with a parched throat and a tongue that seemed made of lead.
"Yeah, me too."
She moved a bit back to stare at him, a bright smile on her face as her eyes seemed to shine brightly from those three words. Three mere words and Hermione was linking her arm to his own. Thankfully he didn't actually have a broken arm, just a cast on his left hand laced with a scar reducing solution. He heard her sigh contentedly, and as she dropped her head against his shoulder he merely blinked once.
They began to walk again through Hogsmeade, this time actually eliciting some attention from the students there that had seen them walk around before. The difference after all was in the details: now they were the perfect postcard example of a happy and in love couple.
"I think I started liking you since I was in first year," Hermione suddenly said. "I just didn't know it yet. You saved me from the Troll and I just forgot about you…maybe I was too shy to talk to you in person? Then you saved me from Azkaban and there I knew you'd always come to my rescue, and I fell in love with you after you fought at Durmstrang to free me." She seemed happy as she spoke, humming as she was a nice soft tune. "I tried to confess my feelings, but I was just so embarrassed at first." She blushed as she nuzzled her face against his shoulder. "Now I'm just happy. It's a wonderful feeling to be in love isn't it?"
She beamed him a smile, and he smiled back nervously.
To her, it probably looked as if he was just being shy, because she whispered in a sultry voice a few seconds later.
"Don't be embarrassed. We're boyfriend and girlfriend now! My father would…" Her tone suddenly turned serious, before reducing itself to a whisper. "He'd say something about his baby girl being too young to fall in love." Hermione closed her eyes for a moment, a heavy weight clearly lodged on her throat, "and mum would tell him to let it go, that I'm trustworthy and that I wouldn't choose a bad boyfriend and—"
He remained quiet, his eyes filled with concern. Finally he couldn't keep the tense silence any longer and moved on his own accord forward. He gently kissed her on the forehead, and then on her lips. Holding her chin with his right hand, he whispered to her kindly.
"I promised I would keep you safe," he looked straight into her eyes then, and he saw.
He felt her trust for him, felt her emotions roll off like thick waves that crashed against the coastline, felt her heart start beating faster as indescribable joy poured out of every pore of her skin as she just looked at him back with a blissful face. She felt safe. He could feel it practically ooze out from her, and he knew, he just knew, that he committed the most despicable act ever.
It was an act worthy of King, an act born of cowardice and fear of breaking the fragile girl in front of him. Yet nothing mattered except to see one of his few trusted friends happy and safe, and he'd gladly do this again, because it showed that he was not a monster. It showed that he could understand the desires of others and that he was not an arrogant tyrant who thought only of himself.
The Hogsmeade visit finished with the two of them smiling to one another, as they headed back into the castle.
The next day, he met with his dance instructor.
The day afterwards, Hermione learned how to curse people.
Undersecretary Umbridge was a disgusting creature. The fakeness of her genealogical tree was so easy to discern it made him retch: and the woman had been a Slytherin? He felt his stomach twist in curls and knots at the sight of her smiling at him, demanding his attention for yet another suggestion concerning werewolves' matters.
Werewolves and Giants, Hags and Mudbloods…why did he have to deal with this? He was the Prime Minister of Magical Britain. He'd suggest a budget cut on the Auror program, reduce the training years from five to three and use the money to hire more people to do the paperwork job. Although he supposed that a well-placed Incendio could solve the problem…
He signed with his wand the permission slip to delegate to the Umbridge woman the matter, and then smiled and bid the old hag farewell as she left. He smiled and shook his head gently, pocketing his ebony wand. He leaned back against the chair, his gaze settling on his wide and spacious office. He was minister of magic, and frankly the seat was overestimated.
He couldn't pass bills without the Wizengamot. The Wizengamot couldn't approve bills without him signing them, and then they had to be rechecked by the Wizengamot once more, afterwards they would go to the respective head of department, which would sign them and control them.
And instead of being over there and then, it would be sent back to the Wizengamot, then to the Minister, and then back for the final vote. Considering the Wizengamot had to possess the full entirety of its living members to vote, or representatives for the unable, it meant that once a week was more than enough time to vote a single scrap of parchment through the cogs of the bureaucracy.
He fondly remembered the times where power and might were all that was needed. He remembered the good old times of trust and friendship. He felt himself mellow a bit, before he snarled and grasped back control. He didn't need stupid emotions to meddle with his thoughts.
He was Salazar Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts four. He had spat upon death for centuries, and he would do so again and again.
He just needed the wand, the cloak or the gem now. One of the three hallows would open the door of the clock tower, and since the tests were designated to be passed by the usage of any of the three in equal amount…
There was a knock at the door, and he rolled his eyes as he muttered.
One of the newest recruits, a certain Nymphadora Tonks, walked in with a sort of saucy smile on her face. She winked at him and sultrily whispered.
"Guess who was assigned as your personal escort, minister?"
"Why, I would very much like to know that." He replied with a smile of his own.
The crown jewel of Godric, the perfect invention of Rowena, filtered love and lust that would make even the most horrendous hag a princess in the eyes of the most prideful of suitors. The whimsical philosophers and romanticists had been right on one account: love was a powerful force.
Love made people blind of betrayals committed against them.
Love made people stupid, eager to please and defend their loved ones.
Love made people commit mistakes and clouded judgment.
Love, in the end, was the source of all woes.
He hadn't chosen Nymphadora because she was pretty, or a Metamorphmagus. He had chosen her because she was of the Black, because Sirius Black was going to suffer an unfortunate accident, and because little did she know that she was holding something extremely important within her own blood.
Something he was going to need, something for which he had forced the first of the Blacks to coin the term Toujour Purs. He couldn't risk the blood being too much diluted after all, not if it was needed for her.
She was going to have a field day, when she realized just how he would go about freeing her.
Her brother was dancing. He was as good as a wooden and rusty mannequin, but the other girl didn't seem to complain. The seventh year woman was sporting a bright and charming smile, and seemed to be wearing some sort of sleeveless tight-fitting robe that showed her ample curves right in the nose of Harry. Her brother was of course not interested.
The dancing room was wide and spacious, one side giving out on the gardens of the school while the floor was a wonderful mosaic of colors. There was a mirror on the wall opposite the entrance, and she could both see Harry and the girl dance as well as their reflections. She also could see the dangerous glint in Hermione's eyes, sitting next to her and apparently spouting foul and ancient curses, while repeatedly clenching and unclenching her hands on the cover of a book.
The fact she hadn't as much as turned a page, or even turned the book the correct way to read it, clearly meant she was doing anything but reading. She probably was cursing the woman, who stopped midway of a turn and excused herself for the day.
"It's the third time she does that." Harry pointed out, walking closer to the two of them. "How am I going to learn how to dance, if she just has to leave halfway?" His tone was light, as if he was sharing some sort of secret joke.
"Oh?" Hermione smiled to him sweetly, having probably understood what the joke was. Lillian on the other hand looked at the two with a curious gaze. "You could practice with me." The brown haired girl pointed out, "We are going together to the ball after all."
"You don't mind me stepping on your toes?"
As the two began to dance, Lillian watched them with morbid curiosity. The music was a slow one, and as she watched her brother and Hermione dance she couldn't help but feel a slight bit of jealousy. She would be going to the ball after all, but she had to go with Neville of all people. Why she actually needed someone to accompany her was a mystery. Especially why it had to be Neville of all people…
Their parents had been friends: her father had been a colleague of Neville's father before their stay in the St. Mungos ward, and she knew that while the Longbottom heir didn't see eye to eye with Harry, Augusta Longbottom and her mother were instead as thick as thieves. Harry returning to his family had been a political maneuver of both Dumbledore and Augusta, after all.
As she watched him dance however, something seemed amiss. Hermione was smiling, but Harry's own smile… it looked forced. The music of the violins covered the noise of their steps on the dance floor, the stiffness slowly morphing to gentle grace, and yet something was wrong. She could feel it. Hermione had changed over the course of the years, and Harry had too.
She had tried to change too, but she had failed. She was still the scrawny Quidditch lover she had been in youth; she still believed that Ron would eventually come around. She still believed somehow in Dumbledore and her parents. That was another topic that Harry had yet to touch. Why didn't he trust the Headmaster? The next few minutes, she frowned.
Hermione was whispering something to Harry's ear, and the boy was nodding thoughtfully with his eyes. She bit her lips as she saw the brown haired girl smile and kiss her brother, before slowly departing from it like a love struck teen. Which Hermione was, but which she had never thought she'd show as a side of her.
"Lillian, if the—" Hermione stilled and rolled her eyes, "The girl comes back, tell her I've brought my boyfriend into a broom closet. She'll understand."
She blushed at that. Harry nervously gulped. Then the two left, and she remained behind. In the now silent classroom, nobody was there to dance with her.
Nothing more than scattered remains.
She didn't know how long she simply remained there, watching her reflection in the mirror with a bit of apathy. She knew that, at a certain point, the music started again, softly and gently, and she turned around in surprise to look at a boy. The boy had dark hair and deep dark brown eyes. He was wearing the Hufflepuff tie and seemed to be hesitant.
"Do you want to dance?" He asked, "You do look like you'd like a dance." He added hastily, taking a few steps forward.
"Oh, I—" she blushed, the boy wasn't bad looking and it was just a dance after all, wasn't it?
She had never danced with a boy before.
It might prove to be something good, and it could help get her mind out of the gutter, and especially away from Harry's situation.
So she nodded to the Hufflepuff boy, and as the music went and the two began to dance, she didn't realize that the reflection on the wall gave away a red eyed boy in Slytherin garbs.
And the music went on…
The Chamber of Secrets was silent. The water that surrounded the stone bridge stood still, as the snake faces alongside the walls had their eyes seemingly moving, to watch the few students who walked within. In the center of the stone bridge, Harry Potter stood with a sword held tightly with both his hands by the hilt. Hermione stood next to him, her wand ready.
He had thought the Chamber to hold something cooler, than a mere stone bridge and water, but at the moment he couldn't care. Next to him Ginny was looking forward with a sense of anxiousness. He couldn't fault her. He was scared too. There was just an air of different in the way Harry seemed to be. It didn't look like the boy who had swayed him with his Propaganda talk or the one who had spoken of burning down the ministry in front of the statue of the architect.
It was more collected. Calmer, more poised. The sword within his hands eerily glinted in the dim green light.
"Draco Malfoy," his name pronounced by his King came through the room like an arrow. "Step forward." He obeyed.
He walked quietly, his steps echoing through the stone walls and bouncing off, reverberating until he stopped straight in front of Harry. Those dark green eyes of his looked at him straightly, his piercing gaze somehow plucking through his entire soul as if searching for something.
He apparently found it, because he smiled and nodded to Hermione. The girl was curt in her speech however, and held none of the warmth that Harry's smile instead had.
"Draco of House Malfoy, of Noble Blood of Malfoy, son of Narcissa of House Malfoy, of Noble Blood of Black, and of Lucius of House Malfoy, of Noble blood of Malfoy." The girl took a small breath. "Kneel and answer thus: do you swear undying fealty to thee king?"
He looked back at Harry, expecting to see some sort of kindling of understanding or of explanation. He stared into a face that was morphed into stone, the lineament hard and the jaw settled. There was nothing but silence now. He acknowledged the moment. He understood that this instant was long time in the coming. The inner circle theory had been taken into account, and he had been chosen to be if not the first, at least the second.
He kneeled like his father had done to the Dark Lord.
"I swear upon my blood, I swear upon my honor and my life, I swear upon all that I possess and that I control: forever loyal I will remain, for as long as the King rules."
"Draco Malfoy," Harry spoke then, his sword moving through the air with grace unparalleled. "By the power entrusted to me by the rights of my blood and magic, I create thee Knight of the King. Be thou fierce, fearless and loyal." The sword's side came down gently on his shoulders, and as it did he could feel something stir and move within its blade. Something old and ancient that beckoned answer.
"So mote it be." He replied.
He saw Hermione's wand move forward, pointed at him. He saw her take a single step forward, pressing the tip of her wand against his left shoulder, and then whisper a single word.
His shoulder burned. He hissed as the fire spread through his left side, and as he clutched the tender area he felt tears stinging his eyes. He shuddered as an unearthly cold soon followed the hot pain. Slowly the sensations abated, leaving place to a mere itch.
"Then rise, Knight Malfoy." Harry whispered with the warmth back in his voice. "Rise, my brother in arms." And from the waters of the Chamber of Secrets something rose together with Draco's own body. Hermione tensed if slightly, before moving quickly to fetch the item that the castle had offered of its own accord.
Harry turned a curious gaze, before softly smiling. "It seems the castle agrees with your pledge."
He turned in that moment, his mouth open as if to ask what it was. There was a white hilted sword being lifted out of the water by an invisible watery hand, similar to how the lady of the lake had done the same with Excalibur. He had seen the sword once, in the Room of Requirements next to Arthur's shield. The sword held a name worthy of it, and after all had been a sister to Arthur's Excalibur.
"Carnwennan." He heard Harry whisper. "Do you know, Draco, of the sword's history?"
He didn't speak, too awed by the sword gently floating forward pushed by whatever magic held it in mid-air.
"Its name in English should be White Hilt. It is a dagger, albeit its length would classify it as a short sword. Touch it, it is yours now."
And Draco did just that.
"It also shrouds its user in the darkness of the nearby shadows." Harry whispered, no— his King whispered. He could feel it, the dim lights of the room moving to ignore him, the shadows hissing their words of darkness and engulfing him. He felt the cold, the creeping lack of warmth as he felt his entire body engulfed by a freezing jet of air.
Suddenly, he was gasping for air, the dagger fallen on the ground as he felt the sweat on his forehead slowly start to melt from its icy composition.
"If it works like Excalibur…unite it with your wand, Draco." His King whispered, and he obeyed.
She knew why she was there. She was going to be next. In that precise moment, something inside of her made her click: she shouldn't be there. They had probably considered her honorable enough, but in the end she hadn't followed because of some sort of loyalty. She had followed because it would keep her safe doing so, but she wasn't all heartedly keen on being together with them. She wanted to be shielded, not to be the shield.
It was the cunning thing to do: why bother and help people who didn't want to be helped? She had stuck with Draco because of his family's connection and riches, and her acts had truly bought herself a better family, first hand clothes and much more. Now she was standing in a slightly cold underground room, with water dripping around and snake statues looking at her. Harry Potter seemed to be in his best crazy-fanatic style while Hermione was standing next to him, short of like Bellatrix Lestrange had been with Voldemort.
She watched as Draco brought his wand close to the sword with the white hilt and widened her eyes when the weapon disappeared, leaving behind only a small white glint on the wand's surface. Was that how Harry's wand worked too? Was Harry's sword actually his wand?
"Ginevra Weasley." Harry intoned calmly, "Come forward."
In that moment, she understood the level of loyalty that was asked of her. It wasn't the loyalty of a mere club. It wasn't the loyalty of fickle dreams of change or revolution. It wasn't something like joining the Quidditch team or simply displaying support from the shadows. What they asked of her was loyalty beyond anything else. She realized it then, as Draco's eyes settled puzzled on her, that she didn't want to.
She really didn't want to be chained by ideals that weren't really hers.
"I…I don't…" She whispered, slowly shaking her head. "I'll keep it a secret! I swear I will, but I can't." She wasn't strong enough, and she knew that. She'd crack. She'd break under such a pressure. She wasn't really intent on being a part of a rebel group to overthrow the ministry. This was beyond being sane of mind. This was outright foolish and there was just no way she'd…
"I understand." Harry nodded. Draco's eyes seemed to look perplexed at Harry's, as the boy's sword morphed back into a wand.
She blinked at that. It was that simple? She sighed in relief, her shoulders slumping. What did she expect, that somehow she'd end up being killed or—
And she knew no more.
His wand had done the deed. This had been his side of the deal. Hermione had created the charm, taking together the ideas of the protean charm with the morsmordre spell of Voldemort. On Draco's shoulder was now a sword with the symbol of Hogwarts etched upon it, the words of the school forever marked on his skin. It would sting when he would call him, it would warn him when his mind was about to be breached, it would…
It would kill him, if he tried to betray his oath.
He trusted Draco. He did. With everything that he had seen and felt on his skin however, how could he blindly trust anyone again? Salazar had been betrayed too many times to be counted. The world of the past seemed filled with treacheries and backstabbing, lies and deceits bountifully filled it up to dish out the murkiest of past's renditions. There just wasn't a single truth or a single lie.
He had to do what he had to do.
The Obliviate spell was his to use now. Was this how Albus felt, the first time he had used one? 'For the Greater Good' continuously chanted at his lips? The glazed eyes of Ginny looked at him, before Hermione followed with a stupefy spell.
"Draco: she won't remember any of this." He began quietly, seeing the look of surprise on his first knight. "Bring her back to the dorms: tell she was jinxed by a masked Gryffindor." He added quickly. "Take heed however: do not trust her with any secrets of the inner circle —no, the round table—"
"The tattoo on your arm is skin colored, Malfoy." Hermione spoke next. "It should turn slightly darker when you're being called. It should sting if someone attempts Legilimency on you. It will also latch on the nearest tattoo and give a slight pull in their direction." She added quietly. "In this way polyjuiced spies won't be able to make their way to our meetings and if we are lost in darkness we can at least find one another."
His eyebrows rose at those words. He had underestimated Hermione's grasp of charms, or probably her sheer resolve and her working schedule. She did have bags under her eyes that showed her lack of sleep, but she hadn't thought she would dedicate even the sleeping hours to something like this. She could have taken her time, it wasn't as if they were on a time constraint: he had all the time he needed.
"Harry?" Draco whispered back, "What did I just agree to?"
"Revolution, my friend." He replied calmly. "And for our cause, sacrifices must be made." His eyes lingered for a moment on Ginny's stupefied body, before returning to gaze on the pale blond haired boy. "I'll be expanding the Round Table in the days to come. I thought Ginny shared our ideals, but apparently she didn't have the resolve to go through them." He shook his head lightly, "It doesn't matter. Bring her back in the dorms and use Enervate to wake her up. Tell her the meeting was postponed."
"Now, Draco." He hissed then to one of the snake statues, whose fangs opened up to reveal the passage that would lead the boy near the Slytherin common rooms. "Once I finish building up the round table, I will summon you all. Until then lay low and remember: all of this did not happen."
He then nudged towards Hermione, who nodded back and handed over a book to the blond boy.
"That's a book on Occlumency. Study it. Learn to close your mind and keep your gaze always low or away from Dumbledore, Snape," Draco was about to retort, but he snapped, "Yes! Even Snape is not to be trusted Draco! This isn't some sort of thing where you can just trust anyone that says he believes in us. Welcome to the world of adults, Draco." Hope you enjoy your stay. He thought without saying.
"All right." The Malfoy heir relented, before holding Ginny with one arm circling the girl's frame and the book with the free hand. "See you later, Harry?"
"See you later." He replied.
As he watched the boy go, he couldn't help but feel slightly anxious. He had just branded Draco, as if he was nothing more than cattle, just like he had branded Hermione. He felt more and more like the Dark Lord, than some sort of revolutionary. Then again even the Dark Lord was a revolutionary, wasn't he? All dictators had to do something to please the population; it was the conundrum of the world: strange as it was, dictators were the prime example of democracy.
Dictatorships fell when the people stopped believing in them, and the military itself crumbled when it had to fire at its own families. At the moment, some people believed in him and not Dumbledore. By branding them he ensured they would follow him or die, but this just made him feel a little less clean about it.
He was basically acquiring followers who would be pawns to him.
Even as Hermione smiled provocatively at him, since they were now alone in the chambers of secrets, and was gently circling her index against his cheek with a cute pout, he felt sort of cold inside. He was acting like King. He knew this was his own free will: he didn't have a choice. This had to be done.
Hermione grew tired of him lost in thought, since she kissed him again, before whispering.
"Harry James Potter: what's the matter?"
"Is this the right thing?" His hand clutched his wand. "Obliviate those who don't comply, brand the rest?"
"Oh Harry," Hermione hugged him gently. "we brand them after they've made their loyalties clear. If they truly believe their oaths the brand is just something more. If they're liars then you would feel it and there would be no need for a branding: you'd just Obliviate them and know they're not to be trusted. It's perfect. It's simple and it has nothing wrong in it."
"Dumbledore obliviated me repeatedly." He muttered. Hermione's hug on him tightened afterwards. "He knew I was alive since birth. He knew I was with my parents. He knew they loved me and he killed them. He knew all of this and he still smiled at me and twinkled his damn eyes like a grandfather…AND PEOPLE BELIEVE HIM STILL!" He basically screamed in the empty chamber, the noise reverberating as his words echoed. The frustration bottled within him erupted like water no longer held by a dam.
"He's a manipulative bastard, a backstabber and a betrayer. He's the reason Voldemort found me and my sister, he's the reason I have to do this even if I don't want to! And I can't stand this, Hermione! I can't stand becoming a monster just to face him! Where is the light in all of this, Hermione!? Where is justice? Where is the good?"
Hermione didn't answer. She merely encircled his head with her arms and held his face pressed against her robes as he caught his breath.
"Harry, my Kn—King, my savior and my hero…my love." She whispered tenderly, "It's all right. You are not Dumbledore. You are not evil. You are forced, but that doesn't make you evil. The Ministry is evil. Dumbledore is evil. Snape is evil. Everyone who isn't on our side is evil…and you're not evil, Harry." She cooed, "You can't be." She added with a final note of certainty.
He sighed and relaxed in the hug.
I can teach you that fire is hot, but what you do with that knowledge…that is up to you.
I am the King of Hogwarts! The ruler of Azkaban! The wielder of Excalibur! I am your executioner!
I'm someone who doesn't give a damn about names! I AM ME!
Would you kill your parents for power?
He shuddered and recoiled, as if visibly struck by something that seemed to be going on somewhere nearby. He fell down on the ground hard, his teeth gritting as spasms and tremors quaked his body. He felt a deep feeling of cold and wrongness etching itself around him, as if some sort of force was trying to…
And then it was gone.
He gasped as the splinters of memories of the past sailed through him. He shook his head, trying to remove the small flashbacks he had felt wreck themselves against his brain.
"Harry!?" Hermione exclaimed, visibly scared as she moved closer to him, grasping his face with her hands to look at him. "Are you all right? You're hurt? We should go to the infirmary. You don't look good. Madam Pomfrey might—right! That bitch works for Dumbledore I suppose. Your mother's back but we can't trust her! I'll have to study healing and diagnostic charms then, only way…" as Hermione murmured to herself, her hazel eyes drilling into his as she checked him for a fever, he suddenly saw something else.
"Are you sure?" A tired voice rang through the dark tent. "She really did?"
"Yes, my King." Draco looked so old there. With half his face hidden with a silver mask. "I followed her personally. I swear it's the truth: I will die should I lie to you."
"I see." The voice muttered again. "If she betrayed me, than her fate is certain: kill her."
"Yes, my King." Future-Draco acknowledged the voice's words, and then turned to leave. He watched him go with a mixture of wonder and surprise. Was this a vision of some sorts?
Suddenly the vision faded and he groaned.
"You are most definitively sick!" Hermione hissed. "I don't trust madam Pomfrey. We'll go and see if your mother is there: if she isn't then I'll just have to nurse you back to health somehow and—"
"Hermione. I'm having visions." He replied hotly, stopping the girl's rant midway. "I…I think I saw future-Draco."
"Harry, you can't have visions. Divination is utter bollocks." The brown haired girl retorted. "And it should be a seer's thing that runs in the blood."
"Then how do you—"
In that moment, a squit resounded through the Chamber of Secrets.
"I have to solve an itsy bitsy problem." He muttered. His eyes scanned around the desolated ensemble of Hogwarts' forbidden forest. "An itsy bitsy problem called meddling woman." He added, his eyes gleaming. "And I think you can help me for an itsy bitsy price called 'I'll get to live another day', don't you like it?" He whispered conspiratorially.
The Acromantulas nervously clicked their fangs together, as understanding ran through their nests.
"Good spiders! I won't have to feed you to my snake then!" Future-Harry smiled even more.
"Let's go Heather." He hissed in parseltongue. "No time to dally around."
"Master? Are you sure you don't want me to wear my ear-muffs?"
"Of course not. How can I give you orders otherwise?"
"Oh…All right master."
Did anyone ever play Prince of Persia, the Warrior Within? The one with the big bad sand monster (Dahaka) who runs after the Prince because he has dodged death too many times and comes to collect?
There is an item there, the Mask of Wraith whose ability is actually what drives this story. (Not the mask itself, but the ability it has: two versions can coexist within the past at the same time, implying that otherwise it is not possible.)
At the moment, there are various present-past-future Harry going around. I feel the need to explain once more, in order to give everyone a clearer view of it.
'Linear Time Harry' is Present-Self in Present-Time.
There is a Future-possessed by Peeves-Harry now in Present-Time.
There is a Future-Harry who is killed by his Present-Self in Past-Time.
There is a Present-Self in Present-Time branding his followers.
There is a Present-Self in Past-Time tomb raiding around the globe.
Which means that:
Present-Self in Past-Time— tomb raids with present-hat—goes back in time and changes hats (swaps present hat with past hat who has trouble remembering stuff) — delivers Hat to present-self—does something-something—ends up as future-self—travels back in time to kill Linear Time Harry.
Repeat above, and replace something-something with —kills future-self (but is without hat)—dies with future-self.
The 'vision' is merely a sort of Dahaka loaned effect. (In warrior within, the screen turns to grey when the Dahaka is close. Here the closeness effectively makes snippets of the future/past be seen)
With this chapter, I will reach 200000 views/hits. The story is currently in 15 communities, has achieved 664 reviews and is nicely going for 500000 words, there are 291 favorites (Whom I thank, thank you guys for having favorited the story!) 329 followers (who would probably eat me alive, were I to even hint at not completing the story) and all in all I hope that with each chapter I 'stave off' boredom for you readers for at least a few minutes. (Maybe half an hour is too much, five minutes/ten?) and this would be the 84th chapter.
And a special call-out on Vikraal, who is not only an awesome reviewer and 'pointing out things that might hold second meanings' but is also working on making a better cover for this story than what an automated logo producer can do. So thanks!
Special thanks also to all the reviewers and to Project Team Beta (who is now reviewing chapter 3 of this story).
Special thanks of course also to all those who have favorited the story.