"As for who we are, that would be the work of many ages to answer. As for where you are, you are nowhere…and everywhere. As for what is going on, you are at the point of Becoming."
Harry had honestly tried to follow this explanation, but such involution was worthy of a centaur talking in prophecy. The unknown woman wove her shuttle through the threads she had selected, passed it to her other hand and brought down the reed to settle the new weft thread in place. The whole weaving seemed to sparkle and move in the suffused light.
"Can't you give me a straight answer?" Harry demanded. He knew he was being rude and impatient but in mitigation, he had the strangest feeling that time was not on his side in this conversation.
"Is there such a thing? Everything is curved- even light- or so they tell Us." The woman working with a drop spindle spoke as she sauntered over to him and the thread around the whorl sparkled in the light, distracted him. It drew the eyes as it twirled round, dipping slightly with each revolution. Harry stared…
Back and forward, in and out, past and present, up and down, present and future, front and back, fate and choice, right and wrong… Was a voice whispering in his ear? Or was it imagination?
Harry tore his dazzled eyes away and rubbed them, hard. The regular sound of the shuttle between the threads and the reed falling made him think of a heartbeat, pumping steadily, but one where the rhythm was failing.
Now feeling light-headed and suddenly consumed with a sense of urgency Harry looked wildly around. At the corner of his eye he saw another arch and staggered across to it, hoping for the way out.
Just beyond the dim opening, another woman was sitting. She turned and a stray beam of light enhanced the only feature of her shadowed face that Harry could see clearly: her eyes.
He gasped involuntarily -they were completely black. There was no coloured iris or white to the eye; despite the threat he could sense, the eyes had a hypnotic quality that drew him unwillingly and he took a step forwards without knowing it.
"Yess… yess, that'ss it…come to me. You have met my ssisters…now come to me." Her sibilant voice reminded Harry of the cold sound of Parsletongue and the voice of a long-dead Basilisk. He shrank back, afraid/unwilling although he couldn't say why. Her eyes drew him forward. Harry exerted his will to resist.
"No! I don't want to."
She extended her graceful arm to him and just for a second, Harry would have sworn on his mother's grave he saw the claw-like hand of a skeleton.
"We have not made the choice. He is not yours yet, that-which-must-necessarily be."
The hidden voice was strongly male and emotionless. Harry craned his head to try and see past the grisly woman but she loomed nearer to him, reaching out again and showing more of her veiled face.
There was a scraping sound suggestive of a blade being sharpened close at hand and Harry quickly turned away but he felt dizzy and dropped to his knees. The scissoring noise sounded much closer, Harry pushed himself up forcing his knees to straighten and support him so he could escape whatever it was.
"Let me have him, Lord. He cannot resist much longer."
"Nobody's taking me anywhere!" Harry shouted defiantly, his dizziness increased and his surroundings began to spin into a twist of shadow and colour. Harry dropped full length on the cool floor and lay motionless…
As one dead…
"Shit, Hermione! He can't afford to lose any more blood. Wait a minute." Ron was gasping, sounding hollow, as though his voice was coming down a long tube. Harry was cold, so cold. He felt himself being lowered to a slumped sitting position.
"Harry? Harry? Oh God, Ron, what are we going to do?" Hermione sounded close to tears. Well, now Harry knew this was some weird cycling nightmare. Hermione was panicking!
"Bloody hell, it's soaking his robes at the back as well!" Ron's voice shook as he spoke and Harry felt wetness dribble down the outer aspect of his right leg.
That explained the coldness and the faint dizziness, he was bleeding to death. Was this real or another dream? He had to exert himself, pull his scattered wits together. Ron and Hermione needed him.
"Hermione! Go in my jeans pocket and get the ampoule out, the one Dumbledore gave me."
"What? Go and what?" She sounded flustered. Harry thought the idea of going in Ron's pocket might have something to do with it.
"My hands are too slick with blood, I'm scared I'll drop it. Get the phoenix tears, quick!… Shit!… You know what to do! I'll hold them off!"
The rustle of cloth implied that Hermione had done what Ron wanted and Harry heard his first and best friend shouting out a rapid series of curses and hexes. Others sizzled past his ears.
Harry found the darkness receding and he began to sense his fingers and toes again. He pushed his aching body upright and found Hermione watching him anxiously.
"Harry? Can you hear me?"
She sighed with relief and gave him a quick hug when he nodded. He had to help Ron.
"Wand?" he breathed, and Hermione looked horrified.
"Harry! No way! You just took five minutes of the Cruciatus off Voldemort!"
"Give me my wand," Harry demanded, his breath coming more easily. He was sore in places he hadn't known had nerve endings, but that didn't matter. He had to stand up and save Ron and Hermione. He was the only one who could. He groped through his sticky robes until his fingers closed over the familiar length of wood.
Somehow he got to his feet and his head spun, making the blackness rise up again but he took a deep breath, kept still and forced it away.
"Ah, Potter. There you are. I thought you had tired of our little game. She is still here, my little puppet. Come and take her…she is boring me now, the silly little girl."
Harry's scar blossomed with pain, but the phoenix tears had given him new strength. He noticed Ginny sobbing on the floor and he hardened his heart. "Riddle," he muttered.
He waved his wand in an encompassing circle and yelled out, "Quemadmodem speravimus in te," but the encompassing Death Eaters laughed harshly and Voldemort's cold voice rang above them all.
"No, no, Potter. Did you not pay attention in classes? That will not avail you!"
He pointed his wand at Harry and in a lazy manner repeated his previous curse. Fire lit up Harry's brain. It felt like Bonfire night and he was the effigy of the guy, going up in flames.
Harry slid unwillingly to his knees, holding his head and his wand dropped from his nerveless fingers…
So much fire in every nerve…
…And then he was lounging indolently against the wall on the sixth floor corridor. He was lying in wait for someone and he had chosen this spot because it gave him an excellent view of both sets of stairs that passers-by had to negotiate to get to Gryffindor tower. He sighed and checked his watch. Where could she be? He shivered with anticipation; she was proving to be more of a challenge for him. It wasn't something he was used to and it intrigued him.
Normally, he just turned on the infamous Potter charm and acted all innocent and the object of desire fell straight in his arms and if he felt like it, into his bed. Why wasn't she? Why wouldn't he just give up on her as a lost cause and chase someone else?
He had considered it, even tried it; his resolve had lasted from ignoring her at breakfast to seeing her smile over one of his grumpy remarks at lunchtime and that small encouragement had set him longing for her all over again. Somehow, the one he was waiting for was the one who set his pulses racing and turned his insides to water in a way no one else ever had.
"Steady on, Potter, don't go down that road. It's just the thrill of the chase that's all," he muttered.
The sixth year Ravenclaw Merula twins came round the corner saw him and waved.
Still watching the staircases Harry barely noticed the fact that both pretty girls were dressed in clinging Muggle clothes. To his chagrin, they strolled towards him and he felt unusually irritated when both slipped an arm around him and pressed a lingering kiss on each cheek. Not even the novelty of two at once detracted his attention from waiting for his prey, besides they were blocking his view…
"Shouldn't you be in the Ravenclaw common-room or something?" Harry asked trying to extricate himself from their twining bodies.
Now this was unusual!
He didn't feel remotely interested, and his body wasn't reacting. The way they were moving against him and the things they were whispering in his ear, he should be feeling something other than impatience.
"Yeah, okay, whatever, just not now. Go on," he told them indifferently, separating himself and sending them on their way with a half-hearted smile that they took for the promise of more. They moved away, their hips swinging in unison. Harry tugged his robes straight and neatened his tie quickly. He hated looking rumpled.
He was considering his strange reaction to the offer he'd just refused when he saw her turn round the corner and his heart speeded up. The twins were forgotten in a trice.
She had her arms full of books and Harry grinned. Loaded up like that she stood no chance of fending off his advances. She couldn't afford the fines she'd get for dropping and scuffing all those volumes. Madame Pince was very strict, except where he was concerned. He had the old vulture eating out of his hand.
"I've got you now!" he muttered, satisfied.
Harry ducked into a convenient alcove and waited until she had gone two paces past him then he slipped silently out after her in pursuit. He tapped her on the left shoulder and when she turned to see who was there, he appeared on her right and she leaped most satisfactorily when she turned back and saw him.
"Hi, Weasley, whatcha doing?" he began, smiling engagingly. Ginny sighed.
"What d'you want this time, Potter?" Was that resignation he heard?
"I've told you before, all my friends call me Harry."
Ginny twisted her face into an expression of wry disbelief. "Would that be friends, as in my brother Ron and his girlfriend Hermione? Or the list of your conquests?" Her tone was very biting.
Harry affected a hurt look. He didn't have to try hard. "That's not a very nice thing to say. I'm only being friendly."
Ginny snorted and carried on walking but her books were slipping. "I've heard all about what your sort of 'being friendly' leads to. I've told you before- back off!"
Harry slipped an arm around her back. "Don't be like that. You're going to loose those books, Ginny, if you're not careful," he wheedled. Ginny angled adroitly away from him.
"Did I mention the kick in the groin you'll be receiving if you touch me?" Ginny retorted and Harry laughed out loud, moving with cat-like grace in front of her and walked backwards with confidence.
"You are so feisty! You fascinate me Weasley."
Hampered by her heavy tomes Ginny feinted to the left in an attempt to dart past him on the right but Harry was an excellent Chaser with quick reflexes and he caught her neatly. The books tumbled to the stone flags and Harry exulted.
Finally he'd got what he'd wanted for weeks; Ginny Weasley in his arms. She didn't struggle, she simply stood there and looked fixedly into his eyes.
"I’m going to kiss you, Ginny."
"I can hardly contain my indifference," she said, but her voice shook and Harry let his eyes wander over her pretty face, he was going to savour this moment. He gazed into her sweet doe-like eyes, filling with tears... What? She wasn't going to cry, was she? What ever for? Didn't she want him to kiss her? His confusion must have shown on his face.
"Something wrong, Potter?" She was definitely swallowing tears. Her lips quivered as she screwed up her eyes in pain, dropping her face away from his regard.
"What's the matter?" Harry asked, with an unfamiliar heavy ache in his chest. Just do it, just plant one on her, the best way you know how, the little voice at the back of his mind urged.
"I dropped what feels like a small flagstone on my feet, what d'you think's wrong?" Ginny snapped between sniffles and began to cry.
Harry felt instantly contrite and didn't know why. He rested her against his chest and stroked her hair soothingly, delighting in the feel of the cool strands under his palm and touching her with unfeigned care and concern while inwardly calling himself every harsh name he could think of for hurting her.
"Don't cry, Sunshine, I'll pick them up. I'll even pay your fine; it was my stupid fault. Let me see your feet." Ginny resisted him but Harry was determined and physically stronger. He scooped her up with ease, revelling in the feel of her arm around his neck and sat her gently on the plinth of a convenient statue.
He got down and slipped her shoe off to rub her foot gently. She had a dark bruise purpling already among the red mark the corner of the book had inflicted. He wondered if she might have broken one of the bones in her foot. He pressed it gently, trying to assess it.
“OW!” she yelped, kicking out and glaring at him as she swiped her tears away.
On his knees at her feet, Harry looked up into her face. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, and he meant it. He drew his wand and used a small pain relief charm Madame Pomfrey used on him often enough
He repeated the process on her other foot, directed his wand to stack the books neatly and floated them in front of her while he supported her back to the portrait of the Fat Lady and into the Gryffindor common-room.
On the other side of the portrait hole, she thanked him in a low voice and hobbled up to her dorm, hiding her tear-stained face from general scrutiny. Seamus nudged Neville and pointed at Harry's faintly bewildered and confused face, still staring after her.
"How the mighty are fallen, Potter!"
Harry stared at the cheerfully grinning Irishman. "What are you talking about, Finnigan?" he said dismissively.
"Ginny Weasley. She's got through to you," Seamus taunted with a knowing air. Neville was chuckling.
"Rubbish!" Harry blustered, dropping into the nearest armchair that would give a view of the girl's stairs, just in case Ginny came down again.
"Ah mate, it's written all through you -like a stick of Blackpool rock! Just admit it."
"Admit what?" Harry said cautiously. His stomach was tied up in knots. What had the perceptive Irishman seen? Thought he'd seen, Harry amended. There wasn't anything to see.
"Did you kiss her?" Seamus leaned forward with interest.
Harry dropped his eyes and Seamus's grin broadened. "Told you! Eight weeks you've been chasing her, and still not got a single kiss. Not even a peck on the cheek! That has got to be some kind of a record!" He leaned back and seemed very pleased with himself.
"So what's your point?" Harry asked, showing more of his accustomed coolness. Was it his imagination, or could he hear the clink of coins changing hands behind Seamus after his admission of failure?
"Well, it's one of two options, mate." Harry cocked an eyebrow. "Either you're losing your touch-"
"-Or…you're in love with her."
"Sod off, Finnigan! Is that stupidity an act or is it reality?" Harry shot back, feeling queasy again.
Seamus fell back into the battered cushions and roared with laughter. Harry leaped up and took the stairs to the dorm two at a time. He was not in love with Ginny Weasley!… he had called her sunshine…she was so sunny…
Harry flopped back onto his bed and his face softened while he thought about her. He closed his eyes and he could still see her gorgeous face. He hated himself for making her cry, it was giving him a headache, just remembering….
…pain, throbbing skull…
There was something golden twinkling just beyond his reach. Harry tried to focus his eyes on it and discovered it was candlelight flickering on a golden apple in the tesserae floor pattern. He pushed himself up onto his forearms and looked around. The spinner and weaver had deserted their tools it seemed; they lay idle beside the carved stools upon which they had been sitting. Harry stared; they resembled hour glasses, but the sands were running upwards, in defiance of gravity.
"So you have returned." Harry flinched but although he turned his head all round he could see nobody.
"Where are you?" he called out softly. His body ached ferociously and his scar was sore.
"I am here." A tall man appeared out of thin air. He wore a flowing white garment that reminded Harry of a toga while the man's appearance and attitude recalled Lockhart.
"Who are you?" Harry asked while the stranger assisted him to a low seat.
"I have many names."
Harry rolled his eyes. Here we go again, he thought. "Just give me one of them, you choose."
The stranger smiled. "I like the name 'Moros' best."
"Where are the women from before, Moros? The spinner and weaver and the weirdo with the eyes?"
"They are awaiting the outcome of an important choice."
Harry opened his mouth to ask another question but Moros held up a hand to forestall him.
"Another comes." Moros sketched an opening gesture with his left hand and Harry's mouth fell open when Lucius Malfoy appeared before them.
"I demand that you send me back, at once," Malfoy senior demanded coldly. He didn't notice Harry or if he did, he ignored him. Moros regarded him searchingly for a minute.
"Was it by your own choice that you were where you were?"
"Naturally!" Lucius sneered. Moros gave him a slow nod of comprehension.
"That-which-must-necessarily-be… you may take him."
Harry heard the dry hissing laughter and the scraping of metal on a whetstone followed by the sound of fabric ripping. Malfoy looked horrified and faded from sight. With a sick swoop of the belly, Harry stared at Moros.
"You're Death, aren't you? Am I…dead?"
"I am not the Reaper, I am Destiny. These," He gestured at the silent loom and spindle stone. "Are the ones who make the Web, the fabric of life. We are responsible for shaping lives out of the layers of the past."
Harry nodded; he had vague recollections of his Greek legends. "The Fates, who decided who lived and who died."
"We are all born and will all die, except that which orders all things. Life is a cycle, everything is turning into something else while it is being both drawn in towards and moving out from its own origins."
"It sounds like English but I don't understand a word you're saying," Harry retorted.
Moros smiled again. "There is more yet for you to see before you make a choice."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry asked. The pain in his scar was building up again and sight was becoming difficult….
…everything was blurred…
Something was tapping his right cheek, there were voices in the background whispering urgently and somewhere nearby somebody was groaning in a lot of pain.
In spite of his headache Harry roused himself to go and help the moaning individual. He levered his eyelids open and immediately screwed them back up at the bright light.
There was a weight across his hips pinning him down which, when Harry investigated it with his free hand, proved to be decidedly metallic. Harry breathed a sigh of relief, at least it wasn't a girl this time.
"Harry! Harry! Oh, don't do this to me, not now! Stay with me love!"
With his wits sharpening Harry swivelled his eyes a fraction and found a curtain of red hair. Ginny again? She figured rather prominently in many of these episodes, didn't she? Why was this happening to him? He had a hazy recollection of a man saying something about a choice, what did he have to choose?
"Gin?" Harry muttered and she gave a sharp sob.
"Harry, Oh God, can you hear me? Don't move your head, whatever you do, you came off the bike. I thought you were dead!" Her voice trembled and he could tell she was crying as she spoke.
That explained the pain in his head, the agony in his body and the pins and needles in his legs quite satisfactorily from Harry's point of view.
"Just keep still love, the ambulance is coming."
"Not the hospital wing again!" Harry grumbled. He could hear the two-tone approaching distantly.
"What? What hospital wing?"
"The one in Hogwarts, Ginny, where I seem to spend half my life."
"Hogwarts…hospital?" Ginny repeated. She sounded very confused.
"He's concussed, don't take any notice, they often come out with all sorts of rubbish after a bang on the head," another voice cut in reassuringly and Harry felt fingers press at the side of his throat over his pulse point briefly.
"That was the bravest thing I've ever seen. How he didn't hit that car I'll never know. The other idiot got off without a scratch and look at him!"
Ginny was stroking his face gently and the siren was deafening now. "That's Harry all over, he can't help himself. It's one of the things I love about him, he cares so much that he chooses others over himself."
The pain in Harry's head was worsening and his eyes closed of their own volition. He heard Ginny scream his name and implore him not to leave her but the pain was too much for him to deal with.
The heaviness of his body was like the wet clay he'd played with once at primary school, and he fell further into the sensation and found he was looking down on an accident scene.
A motorcyclist was lying twisted on the road, his machine pinning his hips to the road. A long mark indicated the length of the avoiding skid. Policemen were marking and measuring around them. Traffic had built up on both sides of the road and a knot of bystanders was providing the sibilant whispering Harry had first noticed. Someone with red hair was screaming and fighting as she was dragged away sobbing. It took the nurse and a burly policeman to get her away; despite her size, she fought like a wildcat.
Harry watched curiously as the paramedics began cardiac compression and used some object attached to a balloon over the face of the injured man. A doctor screeched to a halt on another bike and made a feverish examination. The leathers were ripped open and Harry felt a fierce static jolt course through him.
"It is time for you to Become," he heard and turning, saw Moros staring back at him compassionately. Harry understood; that was him down there, he was watching himself dying. Ginny was hysterical and he longed to go and hold her, comfort her and tell her how much she meant to him in the short time they'd been together, but he couldn't. He was too heavy to move.
Another static shock hit him but not as strongly. "I want to tell her I love her," Harry pleaded, distressed by Ginny's pain.
"Not in this reality, I'm afraid. Seize the moment, you never know how time's river will carry you, together or apart," Moros said and he sounded genuinely saddened as he watched the scene below.
"You make the rules! You can bend them!" Harry yelled. "Please!"
Moros shook his head. "I do not make the rules, only the Highest could do that, when it ordered all of creation. But you have the power of choice. You can choose…" he said, without particular emphasis.
"I can choose to go back into my body?" Harry said. It seemed too good to be true.
"If you accept the consequences of your choice, yes. But consider," Moros said, restraining Harry's spirit. "You could be paralysed for the rest of your life, unable to lift a hand, a burden she will come to resent. She may leave you."
"But, they can heal me at St. Mungo's." Harry insisted impatiently, desperate to get back to Ginny while the option was still open to him.
"Not in this reality. You are not a wizard here and neither is she a witch!"
Ginny was still reaching for him, one arm outstretched as she strained against the arms holding her. "Harry! HARRY! Ha-rry!" She was screaming blue murder for him to come back to her. Something moved skittishly over the back of Harry's memories, something… Had he once done this and been denied? Was his love the only thing holding him in limbo?
Harry didn't hesitate another second. "I don't care. I'll risk it, I love her, send me back," he said firmly. Moros gestured obscurely and Harry felt something faint out of him…
Harry's body was filled with pain and yet his legs were numb. Another static jolt made him arch his broken back and the doctor yelled, "Bloody hell! I've got a pulse! That's unbelievable!"
Harry made his mouth form the words and after paying close attention, the doctor yelled for the policeman to bring Ginny nearer. Her face was blotchy and she was trembling violently in spite of the blanket wrapped around her.
She took his hand and he felt her lips press against him and told himself that was a good sign, he could feel her touch. He forced his mouth to obey his will.
"Ginny, I love you…I came back for you." He hoped his eyes were shining with the same love he could read in hers. She was crying again, but it felt different to Harry now.
"I want her in the ambulance with me," the doctor said firmly. "If she can bring him back from the dead, she's coming with me."
Harry read the 'just in case' behind his tone but he didn't care. Whatever came, he could face it with Ginny beside him. There was the sensation of ice running up a vein in his good arm and the world became warm, unfocused and distant. It felt like he was drifting….
…sliding into comforting darkness…
"That was quite a choice you made. Do you always do the difficult things easily?" Moros asked.
Harry raised his head and found he was lying on the mosaic floor again, (surprise, surprise!) his head ached ferociously, (How unusual!) and he felt horribly sick. (No! Really?) All this was starting to make a twisted kind of sense to Harry.
"Moros, what did you mean before? About me seeing more before I made a choice?"
The ageless face gave him Professor Dumbledore's penetrating stare and smiled toothily.
"Who you are, where you are and what you are doing today is dependant on actions taken in the past and actions others have taken in the past which have affected you in some way. Every choice we make in the present moment builds upon choices we have previously made."
That made sense. Hadn't the Headmaster told him that our choices defined who we were, not our abilities? Harry nodded and wished he hadn't, his head felt like it might come off leaving him free to join the Headless Hunt.
"I see you understand me. We can either claim our actions were predestined and in so doing, deny responsibility for what we do, or -which seems to be the path you choose to walk- say it is the only 'right' choice. In doing so you claim responsibility for what you undertake. You act in love, you are marked with it. You have experienced this in many of the other realities where you, Harry James Potter, exist."
Harry boggled and slipped back to the floor, too weak to support himself any longer. "You mean, all those things I felt…they were all me?" This was too surreal.
"Indeed. Somewhere you are married to Ginny with twins and a profound hangover, elsewhere you are female, and a very attractive one too."
Harry made a face and muttered, "Don't go there, this is weird enough already." Moros smiled.
"In another place, you are a confidant serial womaniser brought to heel by the only girl you truly love, in another your parents are still alive, but Ginny is not. I find that particular reality very sad."
Harry listened intently. "And the one where I'm fighting Voldemort, and presumably losing, judging by the blood all over my robes?"
"That is your current reality, the one in which you belong. However…I will give you the choice." Moros leaned back in his seat, carved in the shape of a curly letter ex, and linked his hands. "I will allow you to choose your destiny. I will allow you to choose the reality in which you wish to continue. I know you will accept the consequences of your actions."
Harry's sight darkened briefly with velvet unconsciousness but he held on somehow. He had to get this straight. "You'll let me choose? I could leave the fight with Voldemort behind and go into another reality?"
"Indeed." Moros leaned forward and gestured at the floor. Pushing himself up on his shaking elbows Harry saw countless small pictures of himself in different situations. The one closest showed him with his parents, standing on the threshold of a church, waiting for something.
"I could have my parents back?" he whispered with tears blurring his visual acuity.
"You have only to choose where you will go."
"Why me, though?" Harry demanded, struck by a sudden thought. "I didn't ask for any of this!"
Moros nodded agreeably as though he had expected this question. "You are a Child of Prophecy. How you and others like you fulfil that prophecy can be more important than accepting the hand that 'fate' has dealt them." He gave Harry another toothy smile. "It lies within my reading of the rules to allow a Child of Prophecy some leniency in their choices."
"You mentioned 'others'. What did they do with this offer?" Harry asked. It never hurt to see what others had made of this situation.
Moros shifted to cross his feet neatly at the ankles. Harry was absurdly reminded of the way the Queen sat, any time he had seen her on the Dursley's television.
"All made choices within their limitations. Of course, they have to be at the point of Becoming for me to make the offer..." His voice trailed off, leaving Harry with the impression that not many 'others' had got as far as this.
“So where am I? Right now? Between life and death?”
Moros inclined his head graciously. “In a way. You are not between places… you are between moments.”
Harry shifted his aching hip on the hard stone floor. Hermione would have got that in about two seconds. “Let’s pretend I’ve got all the time in the world and you explain it to me in words of one syllable.”
Moros smiled again. Children of Prophecy were not usually as interesting as this one, certainly not as selfless. He raised a finger. “At the time of Becoming, you lie between one instant and the next; tick…” His finger wagged one way. “…before you make the choice, tock…” The finger moved in an arc. “…it is made. In that space, I can reach you and no ‘time’,” He smiled, “is lost to you. You will not truly understand this until you have made your final choice in this web.”
Harry stayed silent, turning things over and was struck by a new idea. Hadn't he been misdirected this way once before? "How do I know this isn't some elaborate trick," he demanded. "I've been duped before." He was suddenly very conscious that he was wandless.
Moros gestured around him. "It lies within my power to reveal any part of the web to you. You may descend into any part of it, view anything of your choosing that would reassure you that you still control the outcome until you make the choice." He hesitated before adding tentatively, "I could show you a reality where your Godfather did not die and you share his life."
Harry's heart leaped into his throat. The loss of Sirius had scarcely healed and the very idea of seeing him alive was akin to probing a barely healed tooth socket. Exquisitely uncomfortable.
"NO!" he said violently. His head throbbed and his vision swam. "No, I-no."
Moros nodded with a display of empathy. "Forgive me, but I made the offer in goodwill."
Digesting this, Harry had another question. "What will happen in the reality I leave behind?"
"It will no longer concern you. That-which-has-become, that-which-is-becoming and that-which-must-necessarily-be, will weave the web according to the choice you make."
Harry laid his cheek on the cool tesserae and thought. He longed for a clear head and some advice. Why did he always have to make these kinds of decisions on his own? This was a huge responsibility; many other people would be affected by the choice he made now.
If he went to live with his parents, what would happen to Ron and Hermione?
They would die, said the critical little voice in his head and it would be his fault because he'd chosen selfishly. And Ginny…Voldemort would kill her too. He'd never get the chance to tell her he loved her. Whoa! Back up a sec. Where did that come from?
Moros spoke then and gave Harry no time to explore the certainty of this emotion.
"Though the web may force you into circumstances you would never have freely chosen for yourself, you will always have some choice about how you react to those situations. How you choose to react will always make a difference, if not to the world at large, then at least to your own 'Becoming'."
Harry nodded and sighed. "I can't leave my friends." He resolutely shut out the desire to go and live with his parents. "They need me, I have to go and help them." He was in this reality for a purpose and he would stick with it.
"I sense you are torn."
"Send me back," Harry said clearly; the sense of overwhelming disaster was creeping up on him, like something huge crouched at his back waiting to pounce.
Moros raised a hand in an age-old gesture of blessing. "You will remember this place. When you feel swept away, tell yourself that love is the last resort of all souls Becoming." His voice was becoming distant in Harry's ears with a feeling akin to rising too rapidly on his Firebolt and the heady sense of dissociation that his need for speed created. Darkness enfolded him with stealthy arms, robbing his eyes of sight…
A/N: I forgot this last time (Duffer!) and so a double helping of appreciation for their time and valuable comments goes to Aggiebell, bart and Ninkenate, my pre-betas, as well as to my patient Beta, Jelsemium. Y’all are brill!
Jels and I had ‘computer issues’ recently, but I think we’re sorted now. *Gives a Molly-glare at hard drive.*
Apologies all around for the slowness of posting. My fault. My brain is going… going… -- Jels