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SIYE Time:6:55 on 23rd October 2021


Through Shadows
By hp_fangal

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:All, Harry/Ginny
Genres: Angst
Warnings: Mental Abuse, Mild Language, Violence/Physical Abuse
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 118
Summary: When Harry goes missing from Privet Drive without a single personal possession, the worst is assumed by the Order of the Phoenix and the magical community of Britain at large. Upon his rescue, Ginny and the others find that everything they thought they knew from the moment Harry returned from the maze with Cedric's body in his arms must be called into question. Will Harry be able to heal from a traumatic ordeal that has left scars too deep to see?
Hitcount: Story Total: 11788; Chapter Total: 262
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Here, have an angsty, but hopeful chapter for Harry's 41st birthday! This chapter encompasses Harry's perspective of his escape from the basement and his first day at Grimmauld Place — you might want to reread chapters 3-6 as a review. Enjoy!

Oh, also: This is now the second-shortest chapter in this story, not chapter 5.




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Chapter Fifteen: Rebuild



Pain. The manacles were painful, but that was normal.

It was all that was known in this place.

Just pain.

Standing and walking had become foreign, but movement was required, and it was “real.”

“Real,” agreed Remus. He was real.

People moving, bits of talking, it all wandered through as the inside thoughts tried to make sense of things beyond moving forward with Sirius and then Remus wrapped around the senses.

Then the scar burned, and the anger roared through with burning intensity because he was “coming. He’s coming, he’s angry ””

Worried voices, a tight grip, the strange sensation of being forced through a tight rubber tube, but nothing compared to the raging serpent within. And it hurt.

“Harry” ” that name over and over again, only heard in dreams ” “I need you to focus on what's going on around you, what's real.”

Only the pain was real, and the blackness was the only way to hide ” if Voldemort can’t see, he can’t come ”

“Please, Harry, you need to focus on us.”

Couldn’t look, couldn’t dispel the darkness because “he'll see. Sees everything, can't ””

Holding on was the only thing to be done, keeping him away mattered more. Could outside pain possibly overcome inside pain? There hadn’t been a chance to try before now, but maybe enough pressure against the source…

“He isn't here. Harry, he can't hurt you here. Please, kiddo, you've got to read this note before we can get you somewhere completely safe.”

But that couldn’t be true. Voldemort had drilled the lesson well that it was “not safe. Never safe.”

The pain inside became too much, screaming the only outlet, gentle hands the only anchor before Voldemort was forced to focus on battling against the others who had come to rescue the boy ”

The serpent withdrew to the shadows, leaving exhaustion behind.

“Is ” is he gone?”

What bliss that would be, to have Voldemort gone, but the reality was that he was “never gone.” As always when the pain inside reduced, he was “just not looking."

A slip of parchment, a place to hide…

Her.

“Come on now, dear.”

Not real not real not real she hugged him don’t touch stay away ”

Stairs, kind touch from the real, flash of bright brown ” was that real?

Weakness was becoming ever more present as movement upward continued. Sirius was strong enough to finish the journey, and now there was a bed to sit upon.

Beds were a forgotten concept. There were no beds in the cellar, after all.

Sirius started to move away ” don’t go, please stay, you’re real, don’t want to get lost ”

“I'm here,” murmured Sirius, settling down on the bed, and then Remus was there, too. “I'm not going anywhere.”

Sirius and Remus were real, so they could be trusted with the “scared” feeling within.

“I know,” said Remus, voice thick. “We've been scared for a while now, too.”

Remus placed his arm around tight shoulders, and it felt real. Shoulders belonged to a person, didn’t they? Voldemort had taken personage away, but if there was a person, with shoulders and arms and wrists and hands and all the things that could make a person real, then maybe…

Maybe Harry was real in a way he had been denied. Could that name be his again?

“Harry,” said Sirius softly, “we need to get you changed out of your old clothes. You'll warm up better that way.”

Harry… Harry is real.

Lifting his head for what felt like the first time since sinking in the quagmire of Voldemort’s experiments and games, Harry nodded and allowed Sirius and Remus to help him change into pajamas. Remus almost left, but the thought of real fading was too much not to beg.

Remus stayed, and Harry slept.



“Sirius? It's Ginny. I have breakfast, Mum thought you might be hungry.”

The first words since waking to filter through Harry’s mind were quiet and careful, and he contemplated them as Remus went to let Ginny in.

Real. She was real in the dreams. Is she real?

Ginny crossed to the desk with a tray. Her words washed through, but “I just thought someone not as close to him might be better” stuck around.

They weren’t close. But she had seen, even if she hadn’t put the pieces together. Those dreams had been the only thing to make sense as Harry was lost to nothingness.

So… real. Wasn’t that right?

Breakfast felt… warm. But too much. It hurt. He turned his head away. One could only push a nonexistent appetite so far.

Ginny’s bright brown eyes weren’t scared as she spoke to him. There was warmth, kindness, all the things denied in the state of nothingness that had been the reality before.

Then Remus returned, and he wasn’t alone.

Madam Pomfrey. No no no stay still.

The bustling, no-nonsense attitude was the same, but the memory of how the matron had fallen prey to the Imperius Curse so easily, the way she had looked and not seen ”

Not real not real “NO!” don’t touch go AWAY ”

“Will you let me do it?”

Who was more surprised, Harry hearing the offer, or Ginny for suggesting it? He met her eyes as he tried to decide.

Maybe she’s real. The dreams… they didn’t lie. The dreams could never lie, Voldemort didn’t create them.

There’s no maybe. It
is or it isn’t.

She’s real. She’s safe.

So he nodded, watched her care for him alongside Sirius. There was kindness and… warmth. Why was this so warm? It didn’t make sense.

But she was real, so she was safe. There was no question.

Less pain existed now, leaving behind exhaustion.

“I kept feeling as though something was wrong after the Third Task,” said Ginny, “but I couldn't figure out what."

Harry knew the reality was that she was “not s'posed to know.”

Ginny jumped and looked at Harry. “Harry?” she said.

Everything Voldemort had done was, to him, nothing more than a “game. Just… a game.”

“He likes games,” said Ginny, and Harry startled, met her gaze, considered her words.

“The ” the diary,” she forced out. “It ” well, he, I suppose ” thought it was a game, seeing how far he could go. How many holes he could punch in my memory, how many people he could hurt, how far he could push before I tried to say anything…” She swallowed as Harry watched and listened. “Playing with our minds, seeing how far people can be pushed before they break ”” Ginny suddenly broke off and straightened. “I'm sorry, I shouldn't be talking about this right now, I'll just ””

No, don’t leave, you’re real, the dreams were right, please “stay.”

Ginny stared at Harry. “I ” are you ”?”

Harry gazed at her. “Please,” he tried to form the whole thought, though it was futile. He had to settle and simply ask her to “stay.”

Ginny swallowed again and sat down again. “All right,” she told him. “I'll stay.”

Surrounded by real, it was easy to give into exhaustion, but sleep didn’t linger because Snape came.

Real? Not real? Never saw him as Harry, too much to decide ” not real?

Trust Remus,
he decided in the end.

Then his scar burst and the serpent reared its head, fury and determination rising, and all Harry wanted for him to “stop looking. Please, stop…”

But it wouldn’t stop, and nothing anyone said could change the fact that he barely knew where he ended and the serpent began. The serpent knew this, it could taste victory, and it laughed and laughed, echoing inside Harry’s mind as though ten Riddles were laughing at once ”

“Shut up, Tom!”

Ginny.

Not weak, not lying dead on a stone floor as the life was drained from her, but real, alive, withstanding the storm in the name of casting out the serpent.

A door was imagined, memories hiding in the maelstrom which needed to stay hidden, determination to be real digging into the spaces where Harry was tangled and prying him free, and then the door slammed shut.

Harry slumped, spent, coughing, weak as could be… but he was Harry.

Just Harry.

Brick by brick, he was going to rebuild and find a way to be himself again. It didn’t matter that Snape stayed, that he tested and propped and poked with advance warning until he was satisfied. It didn’t matter that Mrs. Weasley was responsible for every mouthful of food he was to consume. It didn’t matter that bathing wouldn’t be private for some time because he was too weak to manage on his own.

It didn’t matter. Harry was real.
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