Action Romance
Multiple Eras
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 07/20/2005
Updated: 01/05/2008
Words: 204,297
Chapters: 22
Hits: 56,754

Harry Potter and the Soul of the Hero


Story Summary:
The Boy Who Lived has survived Sword and Defiance, but his fight has only just begun. Power enough to destroy Existence is growing in more than one source, and the War for Creation will burn all worlds. Beings of higher power, both Light and Dark, battle for dominance and caught in the middle is Harry Potter. But Harry has his own war to fight - against the Dark Lord - and humanity must unite if he is to win. We have reached the end, and change is coming, whether it be for good or ill. Harry must gamble again with everything on the line, even if it means damning his soul to an eternity of darkness... will he pay that price to save those he loves, or will he tear down Creation itself to destroy his enemies?

Chapter 18 - Reality of a Broken Mind

Chapter Summary:
Harry's mind was never a nice place, a light place. It's dark, and insane, and he's about to see himself beyond illusion.

Harry Potter and the Soul of the Hero

Chapter 17 - Reality of a Broken Mind

If you understand hallucination and illusion, you don't
blindly follow any leader. You must know if the person is
sane or insane, over the abyss.


Saturday, July 26th

Harry had felt better.

He'd felt a lot better.

In fact, he couldn't remember feeling much worse than he did now. He was sure that at some point in his long life he had felt worse, but if he had then he was thankful he couldn't remember it.

Because he felt absolutely terrible now.

Lying on his bed he tried very hard not to move and only breathe when he had to. All his joints were excruciatingly painful, more so from the cruciatus than all the other wounds he had collected over time. His skin was inflamed, his scar merciless, and his body felt... dry.

"Drink this," Ginny said, hovering over him. She had a potion vial in her hand and was lifting his head as gently as she could to pour it down his throat. "Supposed to help with the after effects of the curse."

She brushed his hair back on his forehead as he swallowed the foul tasting concoction. It did help, a bit, and Harry fell back down with a sigh of mild relief. "How's the head doing?" he asked her.

"It feels fine," she smiled. "My shoulder itches a bit - it's irritating."

Harry nodded. "I don't remember much of healing you," he said. "I was worried that I'd done a poor job."

Ginny shrugged. "I'm still here and I'm still in one piece. Though this last fight was a close one... for all of us." Her deep brown eyes locked onto his emerald ones and more was said that couldn't be heard.

"I underestimated Voldemort," Harry said. "I was overconfident in my power. Though, I have some right to that - I haven't been overcome by an enemy in decades, Gin."

"I just don't want you to die," she said, resting her hand on his chest.

Harry winked. "I intend to live forever," he said, "or die trying."

"That's what I'm afraid of," Ginny replied, smiling sadly. "We'll never get cake in Paris if you do."


"You said that," she said, smiling again now but with bemusement. "In the Ministry after you woke up."

"I did?"

Ginny nodded. "You did - and you also complimented me on my very nice facial structure."

Harry snorted, laughed, and then winced as his every fibre protested to the effort and the movement. "You got any more of that potion?"

"The instructions say only one every few hours, Mr. Potter," she said, shaking her head. "You can have one in two hours at three."

Harry sighed. "I don't think its going to be painkillers that finally does me in, Gin. Come on...."

Shaking her head in defeat, and knowing that he was really in pain, Ginny reached into her pocket and pulled out another vial of the potion. "You can have half of one, Harry Potter," she said, and poured it down his throat. "And no more for at least four hours."

The potion worked its way quickly into his joints and the tension slackened a bit. Harry exhaled with relief. "I'll be on my feet in ten minutes," he said, stretching his neck. "I can't waste four hours."

He struggled to sit up but Ginny effortlessly kept her hands on his chest. He couldn't move he was so weakened. "You are not going anywhere. Three super-powerful cruciatus curses all at the same time is enough to take the strength out of anyone."

Harry grabbed her wrist and tried to move her hand. "Yeah," he said, "but I'm a lot stronger than most."

"Not a chance, Potter," she growled, and slapped his hand away.

"Oh ow," Harry complained, and then laughed as Ginny did. "I feel a lot better now," he ended with a sigh.

"Better!?" Ginny exclaimed. "You can't even move my hand - you're as weak as a kitten."

Harry nodded. "I meant up here," he said, and tapped his forehead. "I think the cruciatus, and the talk I had with Ethan, loosened up a few of those bolts that I'd tightened over the years."

"I thought those bolts were what kept you sane?"

"What's 'sane' these days?" Harry whispered, and rested his hand on top of Ginny's. Little sparks of pain blossomed in his fingertips but it was bearable. "I feel a lot... lighter, if that's the word - and I don't just think I'm high on painkilling potion." Ginny grinned. "It's more like I've... more like...."

"Spit it out, kid."

Harry found the right words. "More like if we're all going to die, we might as well die smiling, if you understand that. I'm not sure I do... but that's not important."

Ginny looked at him for a long moment, sitting on the edge of his bed as she was, his hand upon hers on his chest. "Do you feel dizzy?" she eventually asked. "Light headed?"

"A little bit," Harry confessed.

"Too much potion, I'm afraid. But you seem a lot less intimidating like this, Harry. Is this a new outlook on life?"

Harry ran his tongue between his teeth. His scar was still burning, on the edge of extremely painful, but Voldemort's anger seemed to be flowing away now. About time as well, it had been burning non-stop for hours. "A new outlook?" he said in response to Ginny. "You know, it might be. What would you rather have - miserable bastard Harry or carefree funny Harry?"

"You have to ask?" Ginny smiled, and swung her legs onto the bed so she was lying down next to him, one hand between their bodies and one still on his chest. "I'll settle for calm and sensible Harry, if you've got him."

"Haven't had him for years," Harry chuckled and his throat burned. "Ow... can I have some more potion?"

Ginny sighed, but she did give him the rest of the bottle. It was the last bottle as well. "You'll have to ask Hermione to brew some more if you don't start getting better," she told him.

Harry felt a lot better than he had done a few minutes ago, but also light headed from the double dose of painkillers he'd ingested. With Ginny at his side, he stared up and out of the open window into the clear blue sky over the south coast of Australia. It had taken all of his strength - every last scrap of it - to Apparate his friends and himself back here after the Ministry attack. He had passed out as soon as he had arrived.

He thought about this latest development of Voldemort's. Fusing power, raw power, into his human servants. It was immoral, wrong, vicious and cruel, but then he expected nothing less from the Dark Lord. It was a problem, for sure, one he couldn't fix without annihilating Voldemort. And that was a challenge unto itself - one he wasn't confident he could win.

There was no way Harry could safely fuse power into his own allies, say into his friends, and even if he could he wouldn't. It was not natural. It was against the order of things in the universe, in time and existence. He'd broken enough of those rules, made enough enemies, that way.

You'll just have to take it one enemy at a time, Ethan suggested. He was as tired as Harry.

I can't win this alone, Harry replied.

You may not have a choice, Ethan shrugged. But do what you will anyway, Darkslayer. I just hope that someone is there to put out the fires when you're done.

As always there was another problem biting at Harry from the back of his mind. The Destroyers. Such a simple name for a race of creatures, shadow itself, evil incarnate. They were coming to Earth, to this earth - to his home world. Not in the form of the demon Allarius, as he had destroyed that once before, but as billions upon billions of soldiers. Most likely in forms of inconceivable terror - the stuff of nightmares.

Harry was pretty sure he would feel it when they burst through the Boundary and into the world. He was pretty sure the entire world would know and feel it. How could he stop them? Should he even try? It would be next to impossible to find them in the Boundary - it was infinite, but once they burst through then it would be too late to save this world.

Juggling and juggling, Harry thought. He was juggling too many problems, and had already dropped a few of the proverbial balls. The Destroyers, under Voldemort, would destroy twilight if the could, murder the white rose, and Harry instinctively knew there would be no point in fighting if they did.

He had begun to suspect, given his life, that he was just as vital in some way to the workings of the universe - at least for this current period of Creation. If he were to die, alongside the rose or twilight, then it would be the end. He wondered if there was a story out there where he ever got to live in a world free of war.

For no reason that he knew, he doubted that.

"You look like you just swallowed a lemon, Harry," Ginny commented.

Harry blinked. "I was thinking about... about life in general."

The Destroyers floated to the front of his mind again and Harry became frustrated at the lack of progress he had made in the weeks since he had learnt of the threat. It was the single greatest danger the planet faced, next to Voldemort. He wondered if he were powerful enough to throw up a shield across the entire planet - one that would prevent travel between worlds.

A defence net. It had possibilities.

Easier said than done, he knew, but so far it was his only idea. The gamble would be if it would hold against a determined attack of the Destroyer forces and Voldemort's dark strength. He was just one man, after all, only human. And he had seen many worlds fall to a last defence... those worlds had rarely survived.

Although he had said he needed to be up and fighting within ten minutes, Harry found himself drifting to sleep. All across the worlds forces of light and dark were gearing up for war, whether they knew it or not, and Harry slept right through that day and the following night.

It was eight o'clock the following morning when he finally woke up, and stretched slowly. His joints and bones cracked as he moved, but in a relieving way. The after effects of the cruciatus had burnt themselves out.

The pale light of dawn filtered in through his window and Harry yawned. He guessed that too much of that potion had made him drowsy and, coupled with the tiredness he constantly felt, he had finally succumbed to sleep for more than a few hours. In fact, he wasn't sure if he had slept more than a single day - it could have been two, or three even.

It felt like just one however, and not a full one.

Knowing that he'd lost valuable time - time in which to plan, to plot, to fight and to kill - Harry slowly got up out of the bed. He was alone in his room; Ginny wasn't where he had last seen her at his side. He still felt a few aches over his body and knew he smelt none to fresh. So grabbing some clothes from his closet and a towel, Harry jumped into the shower. The hot water did wonders for his aches and pains.

Upon exiting the shower, Harry wiped away the condensation on the mirror and beheld his gaunt exterior, his reflection. That pale and haggard looking figure that looked back at him through the mirror was a stranger.

"You've looked better, Potter," he told himself, running both his hands back through his damp hair. It was longer than he usually had it, and, of course, hanging down and sticking up at odd angles. His fringe was brushing his eyelashes.

His cheeks were pale and his eyes were ringed with bruises, thanks to the cruciatus. His left eye was bloodshot as well, making him look a little wild. Instead of trimming his long hair back, Harry conjured a black bandana out of a small washcloth on the sink and wrapped that across his forehead and back under his hair. It pushed his fringe up and shoved the bulk of his hair behind his ears.

His scar twitched against the fabric but it was barely noticeable. Pulling on his black jeans and shrugging on his button up shirt, Harry forewent shaving and Apparated over to the kitchen. Hunger had finally won out, and when he appeared he made Hermione jump and Ron reach for his wand.

"Blimey, Harry," Ron breathed. "Sorry, don't know what to expect these days."

"You should still be in bed," Ginny said, from behind him. She stood in the kitchen in her pyjamas, milk in one hand and a box of cornflakes in the other. "But since you're not we probably won't get you back in there."

"What day is it?" Harry asked. His voice cracked when he spoke, but again it was a relief as the pain in his throat lessened a bit.

"Sunday," Hermione said, eating her own bowl of cereal with a large book propped up in front of her. "You've been asleep nearly twenty four hours."

Harry nodded and sat down at the table. There was a plate of toast in the centre and he grabbed a few slices of that, eating it as it was - only buttered. "Anything interesting happen in that time?" he asked. "Anything dire to report?"

"All the papers were full of the usual doom and gloom," Hermione answered him, motioning to a stack of folded newspaper on the kitchen side. "The Muggles are scared, Harry. Too much magic has been revealed to them in the last few weeks. The least of all that monster you fought above London." She shuddered at the end there.

"Or that massacre in Perth," Harry mused. "How about the wizarding papers?"

"Some are calling you a hero for taking a zero tolerance stance with Death Eaters you capture and... and other things." Hermione didn't want to talk about the men and women Harry had had executed, so she didn't. "Most are out for your blood, but that's just propaganda for the Ministries you threatened at the International Confederation."

"And the Prophet?"

Ron grinned. "Dad must have spoken to them, because it said this morning that our Ministry has thrown its full support behind you. I bet that pisses off a few of those other governments."

Harry swallowed the dry toast and nodded. "I just hope it doesn't lead to war," he said, and Ron's grin faded. "We've enough to be fighting against without fighting against each other. Which reminds me, I've got to go see a few old friends."

Ginny was just sitting down as he stood up and she raised her eyebrows. "Where are you going, fella?" she said.

"Somewhere I think I have too," Harry replied, frowning. "Somewhere I haven't been in a very long time. I shouldn't be too long, a few hours, and then I want you to be ready because we're going back to London."

They all nodded. "You still didn't tell us where you're going," Ginny added. Why are you always running....?

"No I didn't," Harry agreed. "I'm going to the Forbidden Forest and I won't be gone long."

Winking once, Harry grinned and then Apparated about thirteen thousand miles across the face of the planet, through the Hogwart's castle wards and appeared under a moonlit night sky. In the distance, the one place Harry had honestly called home was before him once again. Hogwarts.

It had been over one hundred years of war and heartache since he had last beheld the turreted school. It was currently school holidays, but there were still many torches burning up at the castle and it seemed to encase the entire structure in a faint glow of orange light.

Oddly enough, Harry only felt as if another piece of the jumble his life had become had fallen into place as he gazed upon the wizarding school. It still stood, as proud as ever. Harry turned away from it and headed into the forest.

It was a dark night and Harry soon lost sight of the moon and the scattering of silver stars that blanketed the sky under the canopy of trees. Twisted and broken roots blocked his path but he patiently worked his way deeper into the forest. It was cold but he didn't feel it.

He did feel the multitude of dark creatures that the forest was home to. He felt them in his stomach, his sense of the insane, and wisely they kept away, clearing a path ahead of him as he walked. The darkness in the forest was oppressive, but Harry was an old friend of darkness. His eyes grew accustomed to what little light there was fairly quickly, and he headed yet deeper into the old wood.

Mist roiled about his ankles, swirling up around his knees as he disturbed it. The tree trunks in this part of the forest were impressively thick, but all was eerily silent. The forest held no fear for him, nor he for it - they were both old and powerful living creatures.

Eventually, in what could have been an hour later, Harry stepped out of the trees into a small glade, deep within the forest's heart. There was a large reflective pool which was so still and tranquil that the night sky reflected in it could have been real. The stars shone brightly in Harry's eyes as he walked to the water's edge, reached down into it and disturbed the surface by dropping a small stone. It created a ripple that disappeared into the night.

"A small stone may make a ripple at first, but someday it will be a wave."

Harry turned, having known he would meet the owner of that voice here. He wasn't wrong. "Good evening, Firenze, Bane... and you all."

The centaur herd that lived in the forest called this clearing their home, and as one they bowed to Harry as he turned and stood before them. Firenze moved forward, his blue eyes dazzling in the starlight. Harry vaguely recalled that he had been banished from the forest some time ago - for whatever reason he had been allowed back, must have something to do with the future they saw.

"Harry Potter," Firenze continued, "you once made a ripple, and now I fear you have created a wave that will wash us all away."

Straight to the point, Ethan mumbled.

"I felt a need to come here tonight," Harry replied as the centaur herd circled him, keeping his back to the lake. "You are creatures of magic, you do not simply use it - you are it. Tell me what you've read in the sky."

Some of the horsemen stamped their hoofs, and Harry got the distinct impression that they were afraid. It was Firenze, the centaur Harry was most familiar with, who answered him.

"We know the Darkslayer walks this world," he said, his eyes two chips of clearest sapphire fastened onto Harry's. "You are he, Harry Potter, and the heavens may fall because of it."

Harry shrugged. His own eyes were intimidating in the starlight. "Let them fall, I'm ready," he whispered.

"Whenever mortals undertake to shift the course of history, things can go horribly wrong, Darkslayer," Bane growled, his hands holding his crossbow tight. "Is your soul tired, Harry Potter?"

"There are many people like me who have killed their souls, Bane - don't forget that," Harry replied. The herd of centaurs was stoically silent, most dark silhouettes on this night.

"You came here wishing to know the future," Firenze said. It wasn't a question. "The future is war, Harry Potter, the future is always war. And you humans always seem to be at the forefront... with power you don't understand."

"Power only breeds war," Bane added.

"I want to understand," Harry said honestly, linking his hands. "And what of the centaurs, Firenze? You know as well as anyone the dark times that are ahead. Where do you stand?"

Firenze moved slowly in the night, carefully stepping around Harry whilst never losing eye contact with him. "If war is to come," he finally said, "let it come. If the world is to be destroyed, so be it. If it is our fate to die, then we must simply die."

Harry frowned... he did not agree with that. "No matter what happens," he said, "...isn't it important to try?"

Firenze walked back to the front of the herd, alongside Bane. "Do you know who you really are, Harry Potter?" he asked. "Your soul is dead, you say, and that is a terrible thing. Should you win this coming battle... your victory may be no different from the Dark Lord's."

The other centaurs stomped their hoofs in agreement. "You have fought many wars and seen much death, Harry Potter, and to many you are as much a destroyer as a saviour."

Harry had to shrug at that. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a lot of the time," he said. "So, naturally, I became a hero. I've had to do some pretty damn distasteful things for the greater good, but I tried. I... I couldn't save everyone."

"What is done is done. The past should remain so...." Firenze whispered, trailing away as he and the other centaurs gazed as one up into the night sky.

Harry followed their gaze and saw a long, sparkling, shooting star make its way across the sky. A small asteroid burning across the sky, burning away to nothing. "A hero perhaps," Firenze continued, still gazing at the blanket of stars. "But a hero who does not know what is in his soul." At the end his eyes met Harry's again. He sounded angry.


"Who are you to lead this world to war?" Firenze cut in, stomping forward and cutting his hand down through the air. "You stand against evil when you do not know yourself. Mayhap you are just the lesser of two evils, Darkslayer. Millions have fallen to your swords. Planets and entire civilisations have been scorched by your hand - that is written in the sky, as dark as blood!"

The centaur's fist came down hard, and Harry didn't blink. In a blur he raised his own arm and deflected the blow away. He smiled, and so did Firenze.

"We must never give up hope," Harry said simply, as if over drinks. "Never that. You are right, however. I am both light and dark, and those scales are tipping. In which direction I do not know."

Bane stepped forward, as did several other centaurs. "Would you like to?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" Harry asked.

"A chance to search your soul, to seek out your inner morality," Firenze continued for Bane. "A journey, of sorts, into your subconscious. You will know who you are without any deception, without any falsities veiling your vision. You will see, Harry Potter, and that can be a terrible thing."

"My life is a terrible thing," Harry sighed, with a small shrug. "Anything you chaps have got can't be worse."

For the first time that night, Firenze grinned, and Bane was handed a cloth sack from one of the centaurs shrouded in darkness. He reached into the sack and picked up a handful of shining... sparks. He was holding a handful of sparkling 'powder'.

Harry watched as the centaur opened his palm and the grains of shining white powder spun around his hand, swirling across his skin. "We remember," Bane whispered, and there was power in his words. "We See, we live, we die." He blew on the sparks of magic, of power, and in a flurry they shot across the air and struck Harry in the face.

Harry fell back, a small smile playing around his lips, and he laughed once before frowning. His legs gave way beneath him and he fell to his knees in the dirt of the forest. He fell back as well, and one of the centaurs caught him before he tumbled into the lake. The creature lowered him slowly to the ground.

Firenze and Bane stood side by side as Harry twitched on the ground, his skin shining faintly white with the magic they had wrought upon him.

"Do you think he will survive, Firenze?" Bane asked. "Humans tend not to."

Firenze blinked. "He will not die. There is still too much he has to do."


"Knock! Knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door!"

Harry opened his eyes and wished he hadn't. He had seen a lot of things, wrong and terrible in his time, but what his eyes met now probably scarred him for life. Severus Snape was strumming a guitar on a stage before him, wearing nothing but a tight fitting pair of dark jeans and strumming an electric guitar.

Amazed and unable to turn away, Harry noted that the ill-tempered potions master had a tattoo of a revolver on one arm, and a rose on the other. This had to be the worst nightmare he had ever had.

"Mama put my guns in the ground. I can't shoot them any more. That cold black cloud is comin' down. Feels like I'm knockin' on heavens door."

Centaurs, he remembered, the centaurs had done something to him. Blown something into his face.

"HEAVENS DOOR!" Snape screeched, striking the strings of the guitar for all they were worth. Out of an amp came the sound, there were other instruments as well but no one playing them.

"What the bloody hell is going on!?" Harry eloquently summed up his thoughts.

He was standing in a large concert hall. Red seats stretched away into the darkness on his left and right, and behind him as well. He was alone when he turned back to the stage and Snape.

"I have never been this scared," he decided.

Someone was clapping behind him as Snape jumped up into the air and brought his guitar smacking down into the stage. "WHOO! WHOO! AGAIN! ENCORE!"

Harry spun and saw... a strange little man sitting a few rows away. He had a large cup of soada with a twisty clear straw and was holding a box of what Harry assumed was popcorn.

"DOWN IN FRONT YOU!" the little dwarf man cried and threw his cup at Harry. Harry ducked and turned around just in time to see Snape disappear in a blur of white smoke. He turned back quickly to see the little man was now balancing on the edge of the seat closest to him. "'lo, Harry," he said.

About three feet tall, with long ears and a wispy grey beard, this little man was indeed just that - a little man. He was wearing a green golfer's hat, was dressed in a pair of miniature jeans, a black shirt and a red tie.

"Time out, little guy," Harry said, and took a few steps back. "What the hell is going on here?" Harry's palms twitched with power.

The man raised his hands, looking down at Harry's palms. "Whoa, lad, keep it down, aye. Ain't nothing here that needs killing. My name is Beelzebub, the little devil, and you must be here for the standard soul searching inner peace quest thing."

Harry blinked. Beelzebub... someone had a sick sense of humour. "I'm here because a centaur threw some white glowing powder in my face."

"Ah," Beelzebub grinned. "You fell for the old centaur trick then. And if anyone has a sick sense of humour, Darkslayer, it is you. Anything you see here is a product of your own imagination - even me."

Harry paused for a moment there... the little devil had just read his mind. Also, if what he said were true, then.... "You mean I envisioned Snape half naked playing the guitar!?" he asked.

Beelzebub moved his eyebrows up and down and his eyes spun in his sockets. "That was me having a little bit of fun," he said. "But I am you in a weird and perfectly unexplainable way, so yes, Harry, your inner consciousness created that greasy man with the guitar melting out into some hard face, ass kicking, Guns N' Roses."

Exhaling, Harry slumped into the red seat behind him. "More nightmares will come to me now," he sighed. "More than I previously had."

"Cry me a river, dickhead," Beelzebub said, sitting down next to him and stretching his arms out. "So, Boy Who Lived, Darkslayer, Harry bleeding Potter, Mr. Twilight, you're here, courtesy of the centaur's stash, to discover who you really are." The dwarf man raised his arms and shook. "Spooky, mystical journey awaits. No doubt with the crap in your head it will also be hilarious and terrifying beyond all reason. What do you say we quit while we're ahead and go get a beer and some hookers? My treat."

"You are a strange, strange little man," Harry decided. "I think one of us is insane, and I know it's me, so what does that make you?"

"A laugh at parties," Beelzebub answered. "Come on then," he sighed. "Shake the dust of your heels, start you engines, ignite the fires and all of that jazz. We're off!"

The little man grasped Harry's wrist and his vision exploded with colour. He was thrown across a vast distance, wind howled in his ears and a rainbow of life and death swam before his eyes. It lasted for a few minutes, in which time didn't matter, and then he was standing in a very dirty room.

There was a chair, an old muggle television set, a window with dusty blinds and strewn about the carpeted floor were pizza boxes and empty beer bottles.

"This is my place," Beelzebub said. "Just got a pick up a few things before we head out to unlock the secrets of the universe. Make yourself at home - I wouldn't sit in my chair if I were you, however, last person who did that was never seen again."

Harry shook his head. He was pretty sure that the centaurs had given him something that caused very vivid hallucinations. He was high, and not on painkillers.

"Ralph, you son of a bitch!" Beelzebub suddenly exclaimed in his high pitched, nasally voice. "When did you get back into town?"

Harry looked over to the dwarf but could not see who he was talking to. There was no one else in the room and--

"Beelzebub, my friend," the pot plant resting on the cardboard boxes near the television said. Harry now saw, now that he was looking at it, that the plant was holding a cigarette in its... leaf. "You crazy bastard. I got back just last night - they kicked me out of the west side of the brain so here I am."

"No shit," cursed the little man. "Can I get you a beer?"

"Ah, I drank all you had in the fridge, Beezy," Ralph shrugged. He was a green plant; about two feet high and he had a few buds with orange flowers growing on them. He took a drag of his cigarette, bringing it to the mouth on his stork. Harry also saw that he had teeth, and that there was a dagger resting in the soil of his pot. "Sorry, little dude."

"You're replacing them," Beelzebub snapped, crushing a can underneath his booted foot. "Harry, get over here and say hello to an old friend of mine."

Willing to expect anything at this point, Harry stepped over a few discarded beer cans and pizza boxes. "Hi," he said to the plant.

"Who's this schmuck?" Ralph said.

Beelzebub chuckled. "This is Harry Potter, Ralph," he said. "He's my latest client on the epic life changing quest for inner peace."

Ralph laughed and a cloud of smoke billowed out of his mouth. "Hahahaha," he croaked. "Better you than me, buddy."

"You two get to know one another," Beelzebub said. "I'll be back in a minute." He disappeared into the adjoining room and Harry could hear him crushing more cans under his feet.

Ralph coughed on his smoke and Harry got the distinct impression that the houseplant was sizing him up. "So," he said, putting his hands in his pockets. "You come here often?"

"What the hell kind of question is that?" Ralph growled, rubbing the end of his cigarette into the soil of his pot. "Make yourself useful, Potter, and get me another smoke!"

Harry wasn't in the mood for this. "No," he said, and turned away.

"Don't mess with me, asshole," Ralph said. "I know your name now, me and the lads will come round your place and ruin your shit."

Harry ignored him and looked around the room with a sigh. Of all the nonsense that had happened to him over the long time he had been alive, this had to be in the top five.

"Hehe," Ralph continued. "I'm just kidding, kid. You're alright. We're gonna be good friends, I think. Here, I'll show you a picture of my last girl. Cheap she was, but I picked her up down the west side a few days ago and worked my stuff on her." Despite himself Harry turned around and saw that the plant was now holding a snapshot between its leaves. It was also snickering. "Here, take a look."

Harry stepped over to the plant and took the photo from its 'hand'. He turned it over and cursed. "HEY!" he shouted. The picture was of Ginny, and Ralph, and he was all over her. "What the hell, plant?"

"Who you calling a plant, human?" Ralph growled and picked up the dagger with his leaf. "I oughta cut you right now. You mess with the bull you get the horns!"

The houseplant suddenly jumped, swinging the dagger through the air. Harry was so shocked by the incredulous sight that he didn't move, and the dagger cut his left cheek open. He grunted and moved to the side as the bulk of the plant flew by him and hot blood streamed down his face. It stung and felt all too real.

No sooner had he done that than a sharp hot pain dug into the back of his leg as Ralph stabbed the blade in from behind and laughed. "Too good to get me a smoke, asshole. Well... Ralph's not the one bleeding now."

Harry spun and kicked the brown pot of the plant with his good leg as hard as he could. Ralph screamed and flipped back through the air; spinning until he hit a wall and slumped down to the floor leaving a long streak of dirt, reminiscent of blood, in a line down the white plaster.

"Ho ho," Ralph snickered. "You'll pay for that one. AAAAHHHH!"

However he was doing it, the plant propelled himself through the air again, dagger blazing, and took another swing at Harry. Harry limped out of the way, but tripped over a few of the beer cans and went sprawling down onto the floor. Knowing full well that he could soon be killed by a houseplant, he crawled forward and....

....noticed an axe lying undisturbed on the floor where it hadn't been a moment ago. It was a simple axe, with the red strip running down the blade. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Harry picked it up and turned around just as the kamikaze plant came hurtling down through the air at him, screaming death.

Harry swung and caught the plant's brown pot. It shattered in a haze of dirt and old cigarettes. Ralph now screamed as he fell in a heap next to Harry, a cloud of dirt shooting up as he landed. Crawling to his feet, Harry turned onto the now motionless plant and chopped it to pieces with the axe, until nothing bigger than a few leaves remained.

Once he was done, Harry just shook his head and dropped the wooden handle of the axe, falling back against the wall and wiping his face with his sleeve.

"Wow," said Beelzebub, carrying a six pack of beer. "That really escalated quickly. Nice swing with the axe, Potter. Ralph will be feeling that one in the morning. Anyways, I've got the beer he missed so we can get going now. Follow me."


In the Forbidden Forest, within the glade of the centaurs, Bane and Firenze watched as a line of blood appeared on Harry Potter's cheek and began to stream down his face. The injuries suffered in the mind seemed so real to the victim that they were real - magic made it so.

"I wonder what battle he fights with himself?" Bane whispered, his crossbow resting on his shoulder.

"I fear he fights a nightmare or worse," Firenze answered. "I do not think we can begin to understand his mind. He has fought many great battles, Bane, and yet this may be his greatest."


Shuffling on the spot, Harry watched Beelzebub dancing across the edge of the clear crystal bridge they crossed, chugging his beers one by one and singing into the twilight evening.

"Take.... my hand," he said, deep and with a growl. "We're off to never, neverland! WHOO!"

The little man threw his beer can off the bridge and down into the waters of the glittering sea below.

Harry had blinked and they were on the bridge a few minutes ago, having travelled from Beelzebub's place and the battle with Ralph. As far as he could tell the bridge stretched north and south to the horizon and beneath them was nothing but a whole load of sparkling ocean, currently being polluted by the dwarf's beer cans.

"We're gonna have fun, Harry," Beelzebub laughed. "I can feel it. So many possibilities with your mind, you know. We could go anywhere and almost anywhen. Yeehaw!"

Harry had tried to speak to Ethan as well, but so far he got no response to the man who lived in his head. He couldn't say why, but he thought it must have something to do with the fact that he was having this... this... dream, vision, in his own head. Ethan would be here somewhere, but the distances in his mind could be huge. He knew that from personal experience....

"I'm all out of love. I'm so lost without you. I know you were right...." Beelzebub had continued to sing and was now pretending to cry as he snapped off another beer.

Harry continued to limp up the bridge, the stab wound from that homicidal plant stinging in his leg. "Where are we going?" he asked. "More importantly, how do I get off this crazy rollercoaster?"

"Say my name. Do do do da do... of a life, so doodoo, you come and ease the pain. Shit, can never remember the words to that. Eh? Where we going? Why, we're going on an adventure - I don't think you've been on enough of them. During this adventure you're supposed to discover the true nature of yourself, who you really are, and that will end the ride."

Harry closed his eyes and counted slowly to ten, trying to calm himself. "As if Voldemort wasn't enough...." he mumbled. "Okay then," he said slowly. "Beelzebub, what's next."

"Meatloaf," the grinning dwarf replied. "Is nothing sacred anymore? Is forever just another word? Or maybe Metallica. So tear me open but beware - the things inside they just don't care. And the pain still takes me... so hold me, until it sleeps...."

"Good God," Harry sighed, rubbing his stubbly cheeks and wincing as he disturbed the cut on his cheek. "That really hurts," he said.

"It should," Beelzebub grinned. "It really happened!"

Before Harry had a chance to digest that, the little man jumped at him and grabbed his wrist and the myriad rainbow of colours exploded before his eyes once again.

"Line up, boys," came a gruff but yet familiar voice. "We're going over the wall."

When Harry opened his eyes he was somewhere else. He was in a trench, and he was dressed in mud-splattered army fatigues. In his hands was a rifle, strapped to his side was a revolver, and around his belt were two standard green grenades. He was also wearing a green helmet, as well as his black bandana. Looking to his left and right he saw that he was one soldier among many, and standing before them in the mud was.... he groaned.

"You chaps are the best of the best. The finest Britain has to offer," Beelzebub said, wearing his own little uniform and the hat of a commanding officer. He had no rifle, but a pistol was strapped to his belt. "Today, we take back our land and show these scum that the have awoken a sleeping giant."

There was gunfire in the distance, and close by as well. Looking overhead into the twilight sky, thick with cumulus clouds, Harry saw mortar fire and streaks of cannon blasts ricocheting across the vast distance of this trench, and probably no man's land beyond.

The soldiers he was grouped with looked familiar as well. Men he had seen and met over the years he was sure, pulled from his memory, but no one he could name. They all had the look of hardened soldiers, even if some were thin and pale, wearing crosses around their necks and whispering silent prayers.

"We're gonna show these bastards what for, lads," Beelzebub continued to pace back and forth, one hand on his pistol. Something exploded nearby and the ground shook. "That's it, while they think we're dead, over the wall, chaps! Think of your kids back home, and how you'll see them again soon."

Screaming, fear in their eyes - as must be in all soldiers' eyes - the thirty or so men began to run at the ladders against the trench wall. Beelzebub held back, and so did Harry. He was too shocked, too out of it to really comprehend this. Sure, he'd seen his fair share of battles, but this was different.

Soon he stood alone as all the men had climbed out of the trench. Some were still going up the ladders and suddenly the sound of gunfire was a whole lot closer.

"Private Potter!" Beelzebub exclaimed. "Get you ass up that ladder and fight for your country!"

The gun felt heavy in his hands, clunky, but he knew how to use it. Eight shots he'd get before he needed to replace the clip of bullets. Single shot fire and then pull back on the bolt. He had an affinity for most weapons. He didn't move when Beelzebub - Commander Beelzebub - spoke. The little fellow drew his weapon when he didn't.

"Son, I gave you a direct order. Are you just gonna let those men up there die?" He pointed the pistol at Harry.

Harry decided to forgo the gun and reached for the power to ignite his palms. It was more than enough to handle the dwarf and with any luck could end this dream. Shock, and disbelief flashed across his mind when he realised that his power wasn't there - that none of his magic was there.

Beelzebub fired a warning shot over his shoulder, the heat from the bullet zinging passed his ear. "No tricks, soldier," the little man grinned. "You're gonna fight like the common soldier, like so many of your fellow men that you led into battle. Now get up there and show me what you're made of!"

Not given much choice, Harry began to climb the ladder. Dirt and debris rained down upon him from above, the sound of mortar fire and guns was deafening and overhead he saw planes - bombers - dropping their payload further down the trench. The bombs exploded in a fiery cloud of death and destruction. The muddy walls of the trench shook and he held onto his helmet as he climbed.

It was a thousand times worse over the wall. The ground was littered with the corpses of the dead, some carrying the flag - the Union Jack - and others still grasping their weapons in cold dead hands. Weapons that hadn't fired a single shot before they had been gunned down themselves.

There was no enemy that Harry could see, only a lot of death and destruction. Green army trucks, cars and vans, artillery carriers and even downed planes littered the smoking field as he ran forward, gun raised, towards the group of soldiers that were firing at the unseen foe from behind the cover offered from the vehicles that were now scrap metal.

"CHRIST!" one man yelled. "I CAN'T SEE 'EM!"

Tracer bullets flew by overhead and even lower, the ground was churned up by the awesome amount of bullets fired from a chain gun up ahead, and Harry limped as best he could behind cover. The worst wound he had suffered was still from that bloody houseplant - Ralph, who had moved in on Ginny - and it was slowing him down now.

He felt extremely vulnerable without his magic as well. This was a real battle, a muggle battle, with guns and bombs. He vaguely remembered reading somewhere that the life expectancy of the average soldier that went over the wall in a trench could be quickly counted in seconds.

"Oh Danny boy," Beelzebub sang, jumping up out of the trench with his gun blazing, firing shots into the distance whilst simultaneously taking swigs from a can of beer. "The pipes, the pipes are calling. From glen to glen, and down the mountain--YEEOW!"

A bullet, fired presumably from an enemy somewhere in a distant trench, went straight through the little man's can of drink, which exploded.

"Okay, you bastards," Beelzebub growled. "You can kill my men by the thousand, you can bomb my trench to dust that the men dug before they died. But nobody, and I mean nobody, messes with the beer! YOU JUST MADE IT PERSONAL!"

Pulling a grenade from his belt, he bit out the pin and, still screaming to the sky, the dwarf tossed it at the unseen enemy and dived down next to Harry. A moment later they were showered with dirt and rock.

"HAHAHAHA!" Beelzebub exclaimed. "Having fun, soldier?" he asked Harry. "This is war, this is your life. You and the rest of humanity always turn to war when words will do! How does it feel, komesabe? How does it feel to be so powerless, and yet still be thrown into the thick of it?"

Bullets impacted off metal and in the mud all around them, and Harry chanced a look over his upturned jeep and saw a few men cut down by tracer fire. Spitfires and Mustangs were engaged in a dogfight overhead. It was war! He couldn't answer Beelzebub.

"Nothing to say, sport?" the dwarf asked, dancing on the spot as he reloaded his six-shooter. "I've lost a lot of good beer out here - we're gonna take a few of those bastards with us. Come on!"

Against his will, and surprising him with his strength, Beelzebub pulled Harry up and together they ran forward passed the still bleeding bodies of the soldiers he had stood in the trench with. Some were still alive and fighting, and now Harry caught glimpses of the gun nests and enemy placements through the jungle of crashed vehicles.

Whatever this war was about, his life was in danger. Taking careful aim and yet still running, Harry fired once, and his shot was perfect - they always were, he had had a lot of practice with guns. It took an unsuspecting enemy soldier in the face, powering through into his brain. He had killed again, and this time just to stay alive.

Pulling the bolt back on the gun, Harry fired again - this time at the man operating the rotating chain gun which had mowed down dozens of soldiers. This shot was on target as well. Ducking down, eyes hard and pain all forgotten, Harry once again pulled the bolt back and marked another soldier.


Another life ended.

Beelzebub was laughing, dancing around on the spot. "Potter, Potter, Potter," he now sang. "War, war, war. Remind me, if you will, exactly what we're fighting for?"

Diving down behind yet another upturned and smoking truck, Harry saw his clothes were all muddy and that the pain in his leg had doubled from his run. It was nothing compared to the memory of the cruciatus of a day or so ago, but it was constant and distracting.

"I don't know what we're fighting for!?" Harry snapped, swinging his rifle so the barrel of the weapon was pointed into the little man's face. "Why don't you tell me?"

Beelzebub laughed again. "If you can't tell me then you're not ready to know. Nice shooting by the way, those guys won't be going home to their kids."

"This is a dream...." Harry whispered, dropping the rifle and holding his head in his hands. "An illusion brought on by centaur drugs."

"You asked for it!" Beelzebub exclaimed. "This is why they tell kids not to do drugs in school."

Harry cursed, slammed his fist into the undercarriage he was leaning against, and once more picked up his rifle. Ejecting the clip, he put in a fresh one of eight sharp shots. A line of tracer shots cut a path through the truck on his right side, narrowly missing him by mere inches.

"You got that look in your eyes," Beelzebub whispered, and a sadistic grin spread across his face. "Someone's about to die."

Harry stood up, bolting back the rifle, and almost immediately found a target with his weapon. Across the desolate expanse of no man's land, another enemy soldier had taken up position on the chain gun. Harry fired once, smoothly and looking straight down the sight. The soldier's face exploded.

Leaning back behind the truck, Harry bolted the rifle again and stood back up, taking careful aim at another unshaven young face. The recoil from the shot dug the end of the rifle into his shoulder, but it was a clean shot - as they all were. Beelzebub was standing next to Harry, shooting with his revolver. He was shooting at six beer cans that had materialised on the wheel of an overturned military van.

"Gotta shoot something," he shrugged, as Harry looked down at him. Shaking his head, Harry didn't flinch as a barrage of shots cut up the front of the truck a few inches away. He saw the shooter, bolted the rifle, and took him out. "Well.... they'll give you a medal for that," the little devil laughed. "Come on, let's charge!"

Harry stepped out from behind the truck, rifle in one hand and he had drawn his revolver with the other. Walking forward, Beelzebub at his side, Harry fired into the enemy with a cold fury that had seen him topple mountains in the past. Shots rang out around him as the six shots from his revolver found six heads. He tossed it aside, bolted the rifle a clean bullet, and used that.

As if by magic, none of the shots fired towards him got close. Nearby an aircraft slammed down into the ground, a fireball scorching the earth, and Harry kept on moving. He unclipped a grenade, pulled the pin, and with deadly accuracy threw it into a nest of enemy soldiers.


The soft patter of limbs striking the earth was lost under the renewed explosions of the cannons and the mortar fire directly overhead. The shots left long smoky trails in the twilight sky.

Harry's rifle ran dry, but he just spun it on his finger and popped another clip, his last, into the chamber.

The gun was hot, almost painfully so, but his next eight shots found their mark, and one enemy bullet sizzled through the air and caught Harry on the shoulder, just glancing his flesh and digging a burrow through it before spinning into the metal piles behind him. He didn't feel it.

"You're a one man army," Beelzebub said, spinning his revolver around his hand. "Killing is what you're good at, Harry, and you are very, very good at it. But is it who you are?"

The cold rage in Harry's eyes flickered and died away. He dropped his spent rifle and slumped down into the mud, with its puddles of water that were stained misty red with the blood of so many fallen.

"I am a killer," he said, and Beelzebub stood close by - mercifully silent for once. "I've killed and will continue to kill. But I don't want to," he frowned, and turned to face the small creature. "Does that count for anything?"

"Not in death," was the honest reply.

"We going to get out of here?" Harry asked. "This place is miserable."

"This is your mind," replied Beelzebub. "But yeah, this part is done with."

The little man grasped Harry's wrist and the world fell away beneath his feet, spinning and churning in a suffocating colourless darkness. When the world blurred back to normality, Harry recognised the ground he stood upon. It was a world he had fought on a long time ago, eighty years at least.

Molten rock streamed by on either side of the hard basalt island he stood upon, and nearby an active volcano spewed forth hundreds of tonnes of ash and magma. The sky was hazy, the sun lost under the smoke, and the landscape as desolate as a war zone.

And then there were the demons, the monsters, surging up and out of the lava - as real and as dangerous as they had been the first time Harry had faced them. Twisted and searing hot forms of men that burnt the rock beneath their feet as they approached from all sides.

Still powerless and now without even a gun to fire - not that it would have done much good against these monsters, Harry began to back away, coughing on the ash in the air.

"Beelzebub!" he called. The little dwarf was nowhere to be seen. Vicious lightning tore across the sky as Harry called his name. "Where are you?"

Angry more than anything else, Harry continued to back away from the monsters - searching for anything that could help him out of his current problems. His shoulder burned from the shot he'd taken, as did his lower leg and cheek from the slashes of Ralph, the bastard houseplant.

Turning around in a full circle, Harry blinked as he caught sight of something odd descending through the sky from above. Two things, actually, two men flying down towards him with the aid of parachutes. Watching them fall, Harry thought he recognised the smaller figure - it could be no one else - but had no time for the second as suddenly a barrage of laser fire rained down from above.

Spheres of pure white power, fired from the two parachutists, cut down into the rock around Harry and then into the demons of molten rock, who had grown dangerously close. Large chunks of rock splintered away from the beasts as, on either side, Beelzebub and the second man landed, wielding semi-automatic modified weaponry.

"Picked up an old friend of yours," the little man growled, biting down on a cigar as he fired spheres of power into the roaring demons. "Two, actually.

"Hi, Harry," grinned Ethan, holding two larger rifles of his own. "What the hell is going on now?"

Cutting away his parachute, which quickly burst into flames when it blew into the lava, Ethan Rafe handed one of his rifles to Harry. He was wearing a backpack over his shirt and jeans, and now a familiar houseplant clawed his way out - toting a small pistol and grinning.

"Our shit's on pause, Potter," Ralph said, jumping from Ethan's bag. Harry could see that his pot had been glued back together, and that sticky tape was holding his leaves on.

Blinking, Harry sighed and turned towards the fight as more and more white hot fire creatures burst out of the lava and attempted to attack the small group of fighters.

"We've seen some crazy stuff over the years," Ethan said, leaning against Harry's back and he against his, spraying their entire radius with firepower. Beelzebub and Ralph were charging and firing their guns haphazardly. "A hell of a lot of crazy stuff... but this takes the cake. That's a goddamn potted pl--"

"Don't call him that," Harry warned. "He gets a bit... angry and starts stabbing."

Ethan just shook his head and wiped the sweat from his brow. "Whatever you say, mate."

Their fire increased and slowly the group beat back all of the demons, until no more rose from the fiery pits of streaming lava. His gun smoking, Harry looked at Ethan and shrugged as Beelzebub and Ralph waddled back across the island.

"It's all a goddamn mess," Beelzebub growled. "I found this guy swimming around in your head." He nodded to Ethan. "You're lucky we got here when we did, Potter. I'd hate it if something scarred that pretty little face of yours."

Ralph laughed.

"Funny bloke this fellow," Ethan commented, swinging his rifle round between the little man's eyes. "What's going on, Harry?"

"I was drugged," Harry confessed, in a tired voice. "And I apparently have a sick sense of humour. These guys are products of my subconscious."

"A sarcastic little man named after the devil and a talking, chain smoking houseplant?" Ethan raised an eyebrow. "Whatever floats your boat, Harry."

"I apologise for nothing," Harry grinned.

"Who you calling plant, bitch?" Ralph raged.

Oh dear, Harry thought.

Ethan ducked as a stream of power spheres buzzed through the air where his head had been a split second earlier.

"AARRRGGHH!" Ralph screamed, and threw himself towards Ethan, levelling the pistol at his head.

Harry caught him halfway with the back end of his rifle, swinging it like a baseball bat, and sent the unfortunate plant spinning through the air again. This time he landed in a river of molten rock, and promptly burst into flames.

Beelzebub was rolling around on the ground laughing. "It is not Ralph's day," he laughed, chuckling through his cigar. "First chopped to bits and then burnt to ash. I'd watch yourself, Potter, he'll be taking names."

"This," Ethan decided, "is extremely odd... and disturbing."

Harry nodded with a long sigh. "You didn't see Snape, count yourself lucky."

Plumes of smoke and debris were still erupting from the nearby volcano, and a firestorm of lava bombs was shaking the earth beneath their feet as the deadly balls impacted against the ground.

"You discovered inner peace yet?" Beelzebub asked. "Know who you really are? Hmm?"

Harry shook his head.

"Then we've only just begun," the little man sighed and turned to Ethan. "What about you, Billy No Mates? You want to come along for the ride?"

Ethan frowned and then shrugged. "Why not?" he said.

"Plenty reasons why not," Beelzebub grinned. "One, it's probably going to hurt a lot. Two, there will be very little beer. Three, Potter here is piss poor company. Need I go on?"

Harry rubbed the stubble on his chin and yawned. "I could have been a farmer," he mused. "I could have left the magical world and become a blackberry farmer years ago... but no, here I am...."

"Here you are," the dwarf agreed, nodding his head sagely. "Through an extremely unlikely turn of events the fate of the free world, of all worlds in all of time in all of existence, rests solely on your shoulders. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside to know we got you to rely on."

"I'm sensing a degree of sarcasm in his tone," Ethan smiled. "I like this little guy."

"Shut your mouth, Billy," Beelzebub stated. "Well, Potter, let's keep going. I'm sure the answer we're looking for is in some war or another."

Shouldering his rifle, Harry nodded and turned away from this battle destroyed world that was tearing itself apart. Perhaps it was a representation of what was really going on in his mind - that he couldn't be sure of. But he did need to know. For the good of Creation he did need to know who he really was....

And whether there was any hope for the salvation of his soul.