Disclaimer: The character or characters in this story
belong to J.K. Rowling, near as I can figure.
A/N: This is being published before the release of
Deathly Hallows. It can’t be right. But if it is, remember you saw it here
Thanks to Discordant_Harmony, to J Forias, and especially
to Zsenya, who bore the full, impenetrable obscurity of the first version of
“I find myself standing in awe, here at the end of my
career at the Department of Mysteries, of the progress that has been made in
understanding the soul. At the beginning of that career, even in the
callowness of youth, I could scarcely have envisioned what we would know by now,
nor could I even have imagined the questions that remain unanswered.
“We now know that the soul operates on a plane of its
own, distinct from that of the mind. It makes use of the mind to become aware
of its surrounding, and while it does not speak directly to the mind, the mind
may respond to its promptings. This is the main known mechanism by
which souls communicate, although there are strong indications that direct
communication between souls is also possible under certain conditions. I must
point out here that the mind often does not respond to the promptings of the
soul, and I venture to say that this is the main mechanism by which souls fail
“Time exists for the soul, in the sense that the soul,
like the mind, seems to experience events in chronological order. We have no
evidence of its being able to see into the future, for example. That said,
time does seem to flow differently for the soul than for the mind: at times
(so to speak) it can run much more quickly for one than for the other.
“Although the soul exists on a plane different than that
of the mind, let alone that of the body, occurrences on those lower planes can
affect it. For example, a variety of potions are now known to have deleterious,
even grave, effects on it. Tragically, the use of some of these potions has
become fashionable among Muggles, with consequences for their society that are
all too obvious. If my own work on understanding these effects has contributed
to wizards’ avoidance of such things, then I count my life well spent.
“It has long been known that the use of Dark spells causes
permanent and often severe damage to the caster’s soul. In the past several
decades we have had, regrettably, more than ample opportunity to study these
effects; one can only hope that the resulting knowledge may convince more and
more of us to foreswear such magic. The first-discovered, and consequently
best-known, example of this damage is the rending or splitting of the soul
resulting from commission of murder. The two fragments of the soul seem seldom
to coexist peaceably in a single person, and in most cases insanity ultimately
sets in unless death liberates the soul fragments from one another’s company.
The Muggle expression ‘beside oneself’ displays (probably fortuitously) an
unusually prescient understanding of this condition…”
– from the preface to Soul
Man: Reflections on a Life of Studying the Most Human of Mysteries, by Gwyndaf
I think they really like me!
“Of course they do,” the woman replies. “I’ve been telling
you that people would.” And she always has been, as I well remember.
“Don’t be fooled,” the man warns. “They’re just trying to
get something from you.” It’s pretty much what I expect of him; unlike the
woman, he always seems to have something discouraging to say.
“Who asked you?” she barks at him.
“No one, same as asked you,” he shoots back. “I just
thought that someone ought to talk some sense to him, and it certainly
doesn’t seem like that someone is going to be you.”
“Oh really, then? And what would you know about sense?”
“I know what he can do with these people who claim to ‘like’
him. I can show him – here, let me show you how to get what you want from
I don’t think I like that idea.
“Oh, no, you’re not showing him any such thing! He knows
not to treat friends that way, and I’m not going to let you change that.”
“Oh, spare me. Look, boy, at what ‘not treating friends
that way’ did for her. Is that what you want?”
“I have no regrets, if you please. Except that I’m stuck
with you, and more importantly that he’s stuck with you as well. I wish
you could just leave.”
“Terribly sorry, but I have every right to be here – more
than you do, I might add. If anyone is going to leave it should be you.”
“Ohhh, no, I’m not going to go and leave him with the
likes of you.”
“You couldn’t leave if you wanted to, and you know it.”
“Fine, then. But I’ll thank you not to bother him with your
“You’ll thank me, will you? That will be a first.”
“Right, it will be the first time I’ve ever had anything to
thank you about…”
Just another argument like all the others. Those two can
fight perfectly well without my paying them any attention. Besides, I have
real friends out there now, and they’re much more interesting!
“Idiots! Damned idiots! Why must I be surrounded by
idiots?” It’s the man, of course. Sometimes he just seems so damaged.
“This is all your fault!” He seems to think I’m all the idiots in the
world rolled into one.
But that girl needs my help. She’s in a lot of trouble.
And besides, she’s –
“She’s none of your concern! You had no business bothering
with her in the first place!”
That boy was being mean to her. I couldn’t just let him!
“Of course you could have let him. Everything would have
been fine if you had just done as I told you and let them be. But no! You had
to get involved. And now –” Did I say sometimes? No, he always
“He did the right thing,” the woman says brusquely.
“The right thing!” he spits. “Well, it didn’t help her
any, did it! And now look at the predicament we’re in. Thanks to you,
and you, and to that idiot out there too.”
But she’s saying something to me quietly as he rants. “Destroy
“What did you just say?” he hisses.
She ignores him. “You’ll see. Just destroy thmmmfff”
“Owww!” he roars. “What was that for, you
“You were trying to shut me up, I had to do that. And watch
your language, there’s a child present.”
“I don’t care about any idiot child, bitch! I’ll–”
I don’t really mind the foul language. I’m used to it by
now. But I do seem to be destroying the book, like the woman suggested.
Oh, so that’s why.
Can’t someone get rid of them? They’re so scary – I’m so
afraid they’re going to come and take me away from here. And then what would
happen to me?
“I know some ways to take care of them,” the man offers, but
the woman cuts him off
“It’s all right, you don’t need any of that.” She’s consoling
me, like she always does. But I’ve never been this frightened before. “You’re
a big boy now, you can make them go away.”
But it’s so scary when they’re around, like they can reach
in here and get me. And the screaming – it’s like a nightmare, but loads worse
and I can’t wake up from it.
“That’s because it really happened. You’re not dreaming it,
you’re remembering it.”
I can’t be remembering it. I don’t even know who it is
“It’s hard to remember, because you were very young then,
but it was your Mum. Someone was hurting her.”
“It could have been worse,” the man suggests.
Who? Who was it? And why was he hurting my Mum?
“You needn’t worry about that. It was a long time ago, and
she’s all right now.”
“Oh, that’s what you consider all right?” the man taunts.
He sounds amused.
“She’s just fine,” she replies haughtily.
People say I have my Mum’s eyes.
“No doubt you do. Do you remember that Muggle saying? ‘The
eyes are the windows of the soul.’”
“I can fix those eyes for you.”
“Not if I’m here, you won’t.”
I love my Mum. I hate her being hurt like that.
“You probably can’t even remember how much she loved you,”
she says, a bit dreamily. “I’m old enough to remember, though.” She almost
seems to be talking to herself. “But then again, perhaps you can
remember, … if you can just think back a tiny bit before that bad memory …”
It’s worth a try.
Oh. Ohh! Yes, I think I can!
“Then I’m sure you can make them go away.”
… And the next time I try, I really do make them go away.
Wow, it’s a stag!
“It’s lovely,” the woman breathes.
“It’s venison,” the man says with spite.
I’ve never known her to tear into him the way she does this
I don’t get it. Why did he want it to wait ‘just a little
“Because he’s being an idiot again,” the man replies.
I haven’t known him to be this worried since two years ago.
What do you, mean, again? How can it be ‘again’ when
we’ve never even seen him before?
“Oh. Sorry. My mistake.” What, does he think I can’t
Fat lot of help you’re being. Now if you’ll excuse
me, I have to get away from him.
“At least you got that right,” the man says dryly.
“So if you’d do something about it now …” This is getting annoying.
Let’s see how he likes sarcasm on the receiving end.
Thanks for all the great ideas. Here’s one of my own: I
won’t run away, I’ll just kill him now.
The man laughs at me.
“Kill him?” the woman asks warily. “Why?”
Come on, isn’t this obvious? He killed my parents. I loved
my parents. So I’ve got to kill him.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” she says gently.
“No, it takes three,” the man interjects.
“Shut up! You shut –”
“But the third one has to be really big.”
But wait. I don’t get it. If I’m not supposed to kill him
… what am I supposed to do?
She has a suggestion, as always. “Wouldn’t it be enough if
you could make him … not a threat to anyone any more?”
Well, I suppose … maybe …
“I think that would make a nice memorial for your parents,
don’t you think?”
Yes, but how do I …
Try taking away his wand. Do iiiit … now!
Well, it nearly worked – but I certainly didn’t expect that
to happen. Did you know that– hey, it … it’s my mum! I’ve seen the pictures –
it’s her! And Dad!
“You should listen to your parents,” she suggests. I do
what they tell me, and presently we’re all safe.
That voice – Mum’s voice – somehow it sounded familiar.
Strange, I would expect the woman to have something to say
I’m going to hurt her! I’m going to kill her!
“Good, good. Do it!” Why does the man suddenly want to
“Why do you want to hurt her?” the woman asks. She can be
really maddening when she’s calm like this.
She killed him! He was my friend, he was my parents’
friend, he was my godfather, and she killed him! And I didn’t get to say
goodbye, or even see him come out! I want her dead!
“Vengeance isn’t love, you know.”
Well, what am I to do, then?
“You want justice done, of course.”
That’s what I’m talking about, in case you haven’t noticed.
“No, it isn’t justice if you take it into your own hands
like that. It’s revenge. That’s hate, not love, and if you do it out of hate,
then how are any you better than she is?”
Arrrggghh! Why is it always so difficult? I’m not supposed
to take revenge on her because it isn’t love. I’m not supposed to take revenge
on him because it isn’t love either. Maybe I should just give it up. I
mean, judging from what I’ve seen this year, love doesn’t seem to be anything
worth the time it takes anyway.
“Excellent,” the man says. “You’re learning.”
And to top it all off I find out that Dad was some kind of
“Now waaaait a minute,” the woman drawls. “I knew your
father quite well, lad, and while he certainly was a bit of a hellion, I assure
you there was quite a bit more to him than that, and he was anything but a
‘jerk’. And what was this about love not being worthwhile?”
“Sense, for a change,” the man tosses in. “He’s finally
growing up.” But she’s only paying attention to me, not to him. I don’t know
why she wants me to come out and say it – she saw it all herself, after all.
Oh, well, I guess she’s going to insist. Here goes …
Cho Chang. Satisfied?
But she’s actually chuckling! If she’s laughing at me over
this ... “Oh, don’t worry about that. You were both just trying to figure out
what love is, and you didn’t get it right the first time. Nothing to be
ashamed of – hardly anybody ever does. She wasn’t the one for you, you weren’t
the one for her. Evidently she thought you were attractive, and you thought
she was pretty?”
You saw. Oh, all right – yes, I thought she was pretty.
“Those things don’t really matter, you know.”
Mum was pretty. So don’t go saying things like that.
“It didn’t matter to your father, though. And he was
handsome, too, but that didn’t matter to your mum. They loved each other for
much more important things. You’ll find out about that sort of thing
yourself. All in good time. Now as for dealing with Voldemort.”
The man interrupts. “Naming him! Aren’t you the brave
one?” He’s one to talk, isn’t he? For years I’ve really thought of him as
only half a man. If that.
“Yes I am,” she retorts icily. Then back to me. “As for
Voldemort, you certainly should deal with him. I’m just saying that you’ll
need a better reason for it than revenge. If revenge is your reason, you won’t
be any better than he is, and then you’ll fail.”
Then what kind of rea– What? What’s happening? Aaaaa!
“How dare you!”
“You get away from there.”
“I’m here, I say!”
“Leave him be!”
It’s over. Finally. What was that? It came so
close – it shouldn’t be able to get in here, should it?
The woman is absolutely incensed. But I’ve never heard the
man so gleeful. He’s practically singing, “Hah, I’m getting out of this rat-hole,
and soon! And then you’ll be dealt with, wait and see.”
You were right about Cho Chang, you know.
I didn’t give her any preface, but the woman has her answer
ready. “I did know, in fact. Why do you mention it?”
Well … It’s the same thing again this time, isn’t it?
“What makes you think so?”
It’s just that … that Ginny’s … pretty.
Cho was pretty, but that’s all it was. And Ginny’s pretty,
too. More than Cho, even.
“So you think she can’t be the one, then?”
Not if it’s like last time.
“Remember, you said your mum was pretty. But it seems your father
managed to love her in spite of that.”
Yes, very funny, but I don’t see what that has to do with
“Does it matter that she’s pretty?”
I don’t know.
“Think, then: If something happened to Ginny so she wasn’t
pretty anymore, would you still want to be with her?”
“Hm, an excellent idea,” the man says, as if to himself.
Of course I’d still want to be with her! She’s –
“Then it doesn’t matter that she’s pretty.”
So are you telling me … I mean, is this what love is like?
“Well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself, but I
suspect that it might be. One kind of love, at least.”
“Interesting … perhaps there is some use for this ‘love’
drivel after all,” the man is musing.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? I mean, all this happening with
Ginny at the same time I’m learning about what he did.
“You mean Voldemort and those Horcruxes?”
Ugh, yes. And how Dumbledore and I need to get rid of them
before we – before I can take on Voldemort himself.
“Yes, they’ll need to be got rid of … I take it you’re still
intent on killing Voldemort?”
“A fine idea,” the man offers. “Just trying will solve all
your problems.” I’m getting terribly tired of listening to him.
I am going to kill him. I have to.
What do you mean, ‘why’?
“Why do you have to kill him?”
Because the prophecy says –
“The prophecy says that only you can do it. I’m
asking why you want to do it. Why you say you have to do it.”
Because … what happens if I don’t? Lots of people will
suffer, lots of people will die.
“Dying’s not necessarily the worst thing that can happen to
But what about everybody else? What about the ones who are
left when people they love die? When Voldemort killed my parents, that did
something to me too, and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.
“He certainly did do something dreadful to you. More than
you realize, in fact.”
What do you mean?
“Do you ever feel a mite, er, cramped?”
Cramped? That doesn’t make sense. I don’t see what you’re
“This place is only meant for one, you know. You saw that
teacher all but saying that.”
Only one. But we have –
“Do you remember before he was here?”
You mean the man there?
“That half a man, yes.”
You’re right, I do sometimes think of him that way.
“And you’re right to. But do you remember when he wasn’t
No, he’s always been here.
“No, he hasn’t, and I know for a fact that you can
remember a time before he was here. It’s not easy to remember back that far,
but you’ve done it before.”
But that must mean that there was a time that he came
here. He talks about leaving, though, and I don’t think he can do it. Why
can’t he? And if he can’t leave, how could he have come?
“I think Professor Dumbledore’s told you most of that. Now
you just need to work out the rest.”
“Happy birthday, young man!” The woman is in a good
Thanks, but I don’t think ‘happy’ is quite appropriate.
“No, I dare say not, but it sounded a lot better than ‘important
birthday’, don’t you think?”
All right, you have a point there. But then, how important
is a birthday, really?
“This birthday is very important – you’re of
age now. Now you can do all manner of things.”
Well, I certainly hope I can. Things like defeating
Voldemort. Oh, and before that, … let’s see … finding and destroying one
stolen Horcrux and three that are still protected.
The man snorts yet again. He’s really been insufferably
smug about all this for well over a year now, and it’s getting pretty old.
Conspiratorially, the woman whispers, “Two.”
“Two protected Horcruxes.”
No, three! Dumbledore said.
“Two,” she repeats. “What did Dumbledore tell you about the
murders Voldemort used to make his Horcruxes?”
That he only used his most significant ones.
“Right. And what could be more significant that murdering
the person who is prophesied to be able to defeat you?”
But he didn’t.
“Right again, but he tried. He killed your parents and then
tried to kill you, but failed.”
“Don’t you think he would have been planning to use your
murder to make a Horcrux?”
Of course. Um … where is this going?
“Voldemort brought a special object with him to Godric’s
Hollow. Just before he was going to kill you, he cast the spell to prepare it
to be a Horcrux, but by then your mum was screaming at him and I guess she
distracted him. He killed her, but then when he tried to kill you the spell went
I’ve heard that story. And I’ve remembered the screams –
the Dementors made me remember them.
“Apparently his Killing Curse wasn’t the only spell that
didn’t work properly in all the confusion. The preparation spell must have
been miscast as well.”
“You became the Horcrux.”
What? But that can’t be! If I … no, it can’t. You
couldn’t possibly know about that anyway, even if it were true.
“Believe me, I know. I was there. I saw it all. It’s
No. No, I just can’t believe it. You’re joking and it’s
“I only wish I were joking. Now you know who he is.”
Half a man, you said. He’s half of a soul, then?
“If that much.”
But … oh, bloody hell! That means it’s all over, doesn’t
it? The prophecy says that only I can kill Voldemort, but if I kill him he
doesn’t die because he still has a Horcrux – me. So I have to destroy myself
to make him mortal, but then I’m not around to kill him. Either way he wins.
It’s just no use.
“No, there’s another way. You’re of age now. If you don’t
want him here, you and I can overpower him.”
You mean we can get rid of him?
“Not exactly. It’s more that you can get rid of us,
with my help.”
You mean –
“You wouldn’t be powerful enough to expel him by yourself. But
if you expel me, I won’t fight it – and I can force him to come out with me.”
And that would leave me free to … Wait a minute! Who are
“Well, when you were being made into a Horcrux, Voldemort’s
soul wasn’t the only one that was on the move, was it?”
You mean, because he had just killed two people?
“Right in one! It seems he made his little mistake at just
the wrong time. Or just the right time, depending on how you look at it. I
was able to follow him in here, so you wouldn’t be left alone with him.”
And that’s why there are three of us here in this place that
you say is only meant for one.
And you tell me that I can make the two of you go away.
Tell me … Do you want to go?
“To be completely honest, yes and no. It seems a shame to
leave. But then, I don’t really belong here, and he certainly doesn’t. Besides,
if I take him with me, then after all these years I will have finished doing my
part to defeat Voldemort. And I would like to see your father again,
I understand. But – this is going to sound selfish, I know
– but I’m going to have to get used to being alone. That’s a pretty scary
“Don’t worry. You know that this place is only meant for
one soul, not three, so you’ll just be putting things back the way they should
be. And as for being alone, … you’ll not be alone. Far from it!”
And I’ll still have the chance to deal with Voldemort then …
“Yes, and prevent all that suffering. Happy birthday, son.”
A/N: I’ve seen the various arguments about whether or
not Harry is a Horcrux, and I haven’t found any of them to be convincing. This
in itself is a tribute to JKR’s writing! But the “In the confusion at Godric’s
Hollow” argument got me thinking about what else might be true if that was. I
figured that this would go some way toward explaining why Harry always seems to
find the right thing to do in impossible life-or-death situations, and why he
has his mother’s eyes. Also, if you accept the idea that your Patronus reflects
that which you love (which I saw in potterhead37’s
fic Expecto Pure
Disappointment), then it bears on why Harry’s Patronus is a stag.