• Published 17th Jan 2019
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Harry Potter and the Equestrian Elegy - Maelaeran



The Battle for Hogwarts ends in catastrophe and Harry finds himself in a whole new world and in a new...body?

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Prologue - For Want of a Nail

Prologue – For Want of a Nail

On September 1st 1991, a young boy was introduced to a world that had been hidden just out of sight. However, unlike many other instances of him, he boarded a different train compartment that was not visited by a red-headed child, but was instead occupied by a girl surrounded by books.

In the ruined centre that was once the Great Hall of Hogwarts, two figures stood across from each other in a scene of carnage and destruction; glaring at one another. On one side amidst the twisted forms of defender and Death Eater alike was the greatest Dark Lord to have plagued the Wizarding World since Grindelwald: Lord Voldemort.

The dark wizard's once immaculate robes were now little more than rags, barely clinging onto the emaciated homunculus' form. Several wounds were on Voldemort's body that included large and small burns, bruises and other freshly bleeding wounds that wept out a strange silvery ichor which hissed and bubbled as it hit the stone floor. The largest of which was a great gash across his chest, courtesy of one very brave and very dead Gryffindor.

On the other side, a short boy that looked to be barely out of puberty kept a quivering hand pointed towards the dark lord. Looking far more exhausted and with more visible wounds, the fierce light that shone within the emerald eyes of the Boy-Who-Lived never dimmed as he glared right back at his nemesis. The cloak of Ignotus Peverell was draped around his shoulders, tightly wrapped around a rather deep wound. It was an almost crippling thought of how many more friends he would be apologizing to through the use of the Stone that lay within his pocket. Harry Potter's face was a rictus of rage, sorrow and determination as he stood amongst the broken and awfully still forms of his friends and family.

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...”

“No more, Tom.” Harry broke the strange silence that had elapsed between the two of them first. The cold power that he could feel within the Elder Wand was so very alien to his old wand. It had a cold, ruthless and very awful inevitable feeling to it that contrasted so strongly to the gentle warmth and excitement of his old Phoenix wand. “This ends here.” But it would be enough to finish the job started so very long ago.

“...Born to those who have thrice defied him,”

Voldemort's face twisted at the utterance of his cast-off name, though he did not immediately devolve into a fit of rage like he had so many times before. That had cost him far too much, thanks to Neville Longbottom, who had been completely bisected at the waist, still clutching the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Both wizards were on their last legs, in terms of physical fortitude and magical reserves.

“Born as the seventh month dies...”

The next spell would be the deciding one.

Voldemort's pale hand tightened around his wand, his lips parting in tandem with Harry's own as the very air seemed to charge itself with electricity. The ambient magic that resided within Hogwarts' ancient grounds mixed with the magic of the two wizards as various detritus that littered the hall were twisted and warped into strange crystalline amalgamations of beast and reptile.

AVADA KEDAVRA!

FLAMMIS IUSTITIAE!

The sickly green spellbolt of Voldemort's met the golden flames of Harry's, colliding in the middle of the hall with an explosion of sound and color. Magical energy poured into great waves from each of their wands, bolstering their respective spells whose forms began to twist and coalesce into shapes that matched their masters. A basilisk with burning red eyes thrashed against a magnificent golden stag that was wreathed in flames. Each clash between the two great beasts shook the very foundations of the ancient castle.

“...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal...”

'Flammis Iustitiae' or when translated: 'Flames of Justice' was Harry's final trump card. It was a legacy spell (of sorts) created by Dumbledore during his final years as a means of dealing with Voldemort's horcruxes (a backup to venom-enhanced swords and giant snake fangs) that was then passed down to Harry in his sixth year. In fact, it was with this very same spell that he used to cleanse Slytherin's ring of it's parasitic host. The catch was that it was an incredibly magically intensive spell, to the point that only Harry was able to cast it and even then, he could only manage a single casting before being competely drained of all energy. It was only thanks to the sheer power of the Elder Wand and it's similarity to the Patronus Charm that he wasn't collapsing underneath it's staggering demands.

And yet...!

Harry's teeth felt like they were going to crack from how hard he was clenching them. Strange esoteric runes (of which he only recgonized a fraction of) wriggled like worms up and down Voldemort's exposed flesh, pulsating to their own eerie beat that seemed to coincide with a burst of fresh power that further pressed against Harry's own spell. Despite all of the advantages he possessed, Voldemort was a magical powerhouse whose brilliance matched that of Dumbledore's with a depravity that knew no bounds. He locked eyes with Voldemort who had a fierce grin on his face as an unbidden thought came to his mind; the stag faltering in it's assault that the basilisk immediately capitalized on.

'He was going to die a snivelling mongrel.'

'Wait, since when do I-' Harry sucked in a deep breath that sent an agonizing flash through his ribs. Voldemort's chuckle somehow managed to be heard over the raucous magical din.

“Keep those Occlumency barriers up now!” Voldemort had already slipped out of his mind before he could retaliate in any fashion as the spellcasting battle took a decisive turn for the worse.

No matter how much Harry tried rallying up his already fleeting reserves of power, that one mistake had proved far too costly in this magical battle. Sensing that victory was soon within his grasp, it was rather typical that Voldemort could not resist one last taunt.

“This is it, Harry.” putting a mocking inflection on his name just as Harry did with his own. “There are no more professors to hide behind.”

'Professor Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall.

“No more friends!” His growing rage was reflected as the basilisk pushed the stag back even further.

'Hagrid. Hedwig. Ron. Dobby. Neville. Ginny. Luna. Fred. George. Draco. Everyone in the DA...Because of me!'

“No more snivelling fathers!” The cursed basilisk took a particularly vicious bite out of the incandescent stag that sent a white-hot pain coursing through Harry's arm. He staggered backwards, which Voldemort gleefully seized upon and pushed his spell even further.

'Dad! Sirius!'

“NO MORE FILTHY MUDBLOODS!” Black streaks seeped from Voldemort's wand and crept up the emerald snake, which seemed to feed on the wizard's rage and madness as it took on an even more malevolent appearance. The sheer fury coupled with pure ecstasy on Voldemort's face had never made him look more inhuman at this point.

'A red-haired woman pleaded for her baby's life. The baby in question smiling at his mother initially, now crying as she got louder and louder.'

YOU ARE NOT THE CHOSEN ONE, POTTER! YOU NEVER WERE!

'A red-faced girl with frizzy brown hair and a sheepish smile. A train ride that was filled with far too many sweets, book recommendations and laughter...'

“LORD VOLDEMORT SHALL REIGN FOR ETERNITY!!!

“...but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...”

No.

The basilisk bounced off the stag that it had previously been pushing back with growing ease. There, almost unnoticeable in it's size, were it not for the white-hot glow that burned even brighter than the stag...was a small otter resting between the antlers.

Harry was always more powerful than his peers. He was stronger than most adult witches and wizards, if not in skill or spell repertoire then certainly in raw power. With the Elder Wand, his natural abilities were enhanced to an even more absurd degree.

'Even so...'

'Hundreds of dementors descended upon an innocent man and his godson. Harry stood hidden behind a bush with Her. He couldn't wait for someone he knew now wouldn't ever come. He stood up, more magic surging within his body than had ever before as an incantation left his lips.'

A Grim burst out of his wand, closely followed by a doe and a wolf; joining the stag and otter. He could feel the Resurrection Stone pulsing at a different beat to his own heart in his pocket. With every beat, another figure would surge out of his wand to join the army that was now beating back a wildly flailing basilisk.

'I wouldn't be here without them!'

'“Oh! Before I forget! I got somethin' fer yer...” the giant of a man turned around and rummaged through his bag in front of the petrified Dursleys and stupefied Harry. He pulled out a rather tattered old box and nervously presented it to the boy.

Befuddled, Harry opened the box and gasped at it's contents: a brightly colored cake decorated with pink frosting with the impossible set of words 'HAPPEE BIRTHDAE HARRY' emblazoned on it in a green icing that matched his own eye color.

“I made it meself!” stated Hagrid proudly. A tear fell down Harry's face as he continued to stare at the cake absentmindedly.

A cake that was made just for him.

Hagrid seemed to lose his confidence and whispered anxiously, “Hope you don' mind the buttercream frostin'. S'all I had on hand.”'

'Their kindness! When no one had paid him anything of the sort before!'

A small, shimmering lamb burst out of his wand and dashed towards where his fellows were doing battle with Voldemort's basilisk. It let out a mighty bleat that belied it's diminutive size; the sound causing the emerald serpent to rear back in pain as the Grim and werewolf gleefully set upon it's weakened form.

“W-What is this magic?!” cried a stricken Voldemort.

'“Wingardium Leviosa!”

The massive club that was about to crush the pair of Harry and Hermione screeched to a halt in mid-air. They both turned wide-eyed to their unexpected savior who was standing at the threshold of the bathroom with a fierce look on his face.

Ronald Weasley slashed his wand downwards causing the massive club to smash down onto the troll's head. The troll moaned as his eyes immediately rolled upwards and took one tremulous step forwards before crashing down to the ground completely insensate.

The trio panted as the adrenaline faded from their bodies and Harry and Hermione stared at the redhead who slowly put his wand away. Ron's previously determined expression faded as he looked at Hermione with a mix of nervousness and shame.

“I...” Ron visibly gathered himself, “I'm really, really, REALLY sorry for what I said Hermione. I hope you can forgive me!”'

'Their loyalty! No matter how rough things got or what happened between them, they would always be there...!'

A jubilant Jack Russell terrier surged from Harry's wand howling as it was surrounded in an aura of crimson flames before dashing off to the defense of it's brethren.

Voldemort snarled and roared something in a language that caused Harry's vision to blur and his bones to ache. A shifting black ichor seeped out of his wand that spilled out into several puddles that hovered just before hitting the floor, before they abruptly expanded into great cloaked figures that joined his spectral basilisk.

'Neville shakily stood up to his feet and faced the three Gryffindors, his wand nowhere in sight.

“You-you three are planning on sneaking out again? Aren't you?” Their guilty faces were answer enough as the pudgy eleven year old tried to form a scowl, “You're-you're going to get Gryffindor in trouble again!”

“Neville, mate, just let us-”

“No!” yelled Neville, cutting off Ron. “I won't let you! I'll-I'll” Harry's eyes widened as Neville put up his fists in a ready stance, trembling all over, “I'll fight you!”'

'Their courage inspires me to keep moving forward!'

A smiling blonde face took the forefront of Harry's memory with another burst of heat emanating from the Resurrection Stone that heralded the arrival of a lumbering bear covered in golden fire that roared and batted away a pseudo-Dementor harrying the terrier.

'Another night with Dursleys, another night sent to his room without any food.

Somehow he thought discovering that he was a wizard would have changed things.

Well, technically he wasn't sent alone to the cupboard anymore.

He had been upgraded to the much classier version of Dudley's second bedroom. His charming cousin had even thoughtfully left old bits of food to attract bugs in out-of-the way places in a never before seen usage of brainpower.

Upsides and downsides, he supposed.

And he had friends!...who still haven't written him despite promising that they would do so.

Maybe they're just waiting to send him a whole bunch of stuff on his birthday. He flopped onto his bed (also an upgrade, if he didn't pay attention to the rusty springs that poked through the mattress) with a sigh.

“Prek!”

Harry blinked and then looked apologetically at Hedwig, going over to her cage and stroking her feathers. He smiled as she leaned into her touch, amber eyes closing in bliss, before chirping once more and flapping to his shoulder. Hedwig nuzzled the side of his cheek with her head, prompting his smile to widen further.

Owls were brilliant.

“Sorry girl. You're probably pretty hungry. I expect you'll have a busy night hunting.” Harry walked over to his window (will the upsides never cease to end?!) and unlatched it with practiced movements, making sure he didn't make too much noise. The warmth of an English summer night hit him along with a refreshing cool breeze.

“Beautiful night too. Wish we could go flying together. Unfortunately we'll have to wait until school starts up again.” He sighed and shook his head, stroking Hedwig's soft feathers, “Listen to me mope. You go enjoy yourself girl. At least one of us should.”

“Prek!” Hedwig's wings unfurled, but instead of the feeling of her talons tensing before she took off into the night, she simply gently smacked the back of Harry's head.

“Hedwig?” In lieu of an answer, his odd owl jumped to the windowsill, resolutely turned her back on the night and then jumped into Harry's arms with outstretched wings. The same feathery appendages gently wrapped around his head as she seemed to content herself with nuzzling Harry and making soft crooning noises.

Feeling like a frog was stuck in his throat, Harry closed the window and slid down the wall until he was sitting on the floor with his friend.'

'Their unwavering support! To let me know that I was no longer alone!'

Hedwig's echo soared out like a comet as she blasted towards the otter that was nestled within the antlers of the stag. She flew in a tight spiral, picking up more and more speed that generated a whirling vortex of raw magical energy that caused the pseudo-Dementors to spin out of control from the winds that were suddenly kicked up. None of Harry's army was affected however, and her support helped beat back the tide of Voldemort's spectres.

There was an expression on Voldemort's face. It was something that he had never seen before on the dark wizard.

'His feet were already moving the second he saw the message on the wall.

“Harry-wait! Wait up!”

Harry honestly found Ginny's crush extremely off-putting, even when he didn't consider that she was Ron's sister, Harry had never thought he would be so embarrassed when someone paid TOO much attention to him.

But she wasn't cruel to him.

She may have propped him up on a pedestal but she was on his side even when most of the entire school turned against him when he accidentally revealed his Parseltongue abilities.

The teachers seemed like they have already given up on Ginny still being alive. Now they were focused on trying to protect the ones who were still alive.

Who did he think he was kidding? He was just a 2nd year student. His and Ron's footsteps became more and more prominent as they separated from the rest of the student populous.

Even so...he had the ability to find her.

Didn't he wish for the same thing before Hogwarts?'

'I wouldn't have a reason to fight without them!'

“You think you've won, Potter?!” shouted Voldemort.

Fear.

“You think a few parlor tricks will save you?!”

That was what he was seeing on Voldemort.

“THAT YOU COULD BEAT ME!”

The newest addition to Harry's forces took the form of a spirited mare covered in dark red flames and galloped towards the battle with a magnificent whinny.

It was something so odd to see on a face that seemed to be set in a perpetual expression of malevolence with the occasional bouts of surprise whenever Harry managed to luck his way out of his latest misadventure.

He remembered seeing it only once before and that was with the diary Horcrux as it realized it's existence was quickly coming to an end.

“Marge won't be making it, tonight, it seems.” groused Uncle Vernon, hanging up the phone.

“Oh, dear! And Dudders was so looking forward to his Aunt visiting him today!” Harry was pretty sure Aunt Petunia wasn't as put out by this piece of news as his uncle was. She never really cared much for Marge and her awful dogs. “What happened?”

“Flat tires. All of them at once! She was furious and rightfully so considering she just got the car from the shop. Told her to go sue those ruddy mechanics for every penny they were worth for such a shoddy job.” harrumphed Vernon.

Just out of sight of the Dursleys, a small bulbous-eyed figure dressed in one of Harry's nicer shirts winked at him, before snapping his fingers and winking out of existence.

'Their dedication!'

A small figure wrapped in warm orange fire came into being behind Harry's legs and marched towards Voldemort, whose hand shot towards his face and ripped out his left eye. With a wordless snarl of pain and hate, Voldemort crushed the bloody orb and cast it's contents towards the basilisk. The 'skin' of the basilisk rippled at the point of impact, which travelled upwards until it the neck of the creature before eight more heads ripped their way out of the sides of the entity.

With newfound strength, along with it's few remaining pseudo-Dementors, it tore into the army that stood arrayed against it.

“I-Impossible.” muttered Voldemort in a hoarse tone.

An army that did not crumble.

There was something to said about chaos.

“Argus! Do something!” screeched Umbridge.

Specifically, the brand of chaos associated with the Weasley Twins.

“I'm trying, Headmistress!”

It was paradoxically controlled; directed against their intended victims with very little collateral damage. The sheer amount of effort and planning that the red-heads put in for their pranks was mind-boggling and were always absolutely spectacular.

“Finite!” yelled one Inquisitor, only for his fellow to try and stop his casting.

“No! Wait, don't try-”

BANG!

Countermeasures were always implemented in the case their recipients discovered the prank too early. Countermeasures for those countermeasures were developed before implementation on all but the most short-notice cases. Fred had once confided in him that the Sorting Hat had said that the two were suited for ALL four of the Houses.

In the end, it was their sheer nerve that was the deciding factor that landed them in Gryffindor, much to the horror of Professor McGonagall.

Harry had a wide smile on his face as he watched Umbridge,Filch and her Inquisitors scramble to get rid of the fireworks that were exploding into some of the most vile and filthy caricatures of Umbridge and her squad. Ducking into a secret passage, he found Fred and George stifling the other's laughter, with tears pouring down their faces.

Fred acknowledged him with a nod, but was having trouble stringing together any words into a coherent sentence.

“Oh, Merlin. I hope she tries vanishing them next! They multiply by ten every time you try.” choked out George.

“Evanesco!”

They all burst out into laughter the second Theodore Nott tried exactly that.

'Their cheerfulness!'

Slinking between the legs of the stag were two Siamese cats that shifted between red and gold colors. With twin powerful leaps, the cats leapt onto the hydra, quickly clawing their way up the body much to the shrieking displeasure of the beast who furiously shook itself in vain trying to dislodge the fiery felines.

Harry thought he would feel happy in seeing that the man who had quite literally haunted him for his entire life scared.

To see him so vulnerable.

So...

Human.

'Harry gave a low chuckle that had the barest hint of humor in it, as he stood together with Draco Malfoy of all people. “Scared, Draco?”

Draco snorted, though his eyes never left that of one of the Death Eaters that had encircled them both, “You wish.”

“Draco...come here. Now.” ordered Lucius Malfoy who was clad in full Death Eater regalia.

With a horrible mix of grief, longing, anger and regret on his face, Draco delivered his succinct answer. “No.”

Lucius' eyes widened with shock, “You would stand against the Dark Lord? Ally yourself with a bunch of blood traitors, half-breeds and mudbloods...?!”

“I would stand with my friends!” shot back Draco, “People who'll be there for me to stand against a monster when my own family wouldn't lift a finger to help me!”

'Their determination!'

A startled laugh escaped his lips when a lion sprang into existence that was apparently his representation of Draco. The fact that Voldemort's face went back to one of his usual favourites (Hatred for all things hairy) also served to alleviate the odd feeling at Voldemort's uncharacteristic display.

“When I was nine, I lost my mother.”

“What?”

Luna's voice had lost that dreamlike quality he had so often associated the blonde Ravenclaw with that it was a shock to hear her without it. Especially when it was about something so personal.

The two were out on the grounds. Harry had wanted to get some space to himself since the whole reveal in the Daily Prophet of his 'Chosen' status. She being the awesome woman She was, had managed to distract his fellow Gryffindors and allow him the chance to slip out of the castle. Harry had somehow wandered off to a small clearing near the Forbidden Forest where Luna had been feeding the thestrals.

She greeted him airily, but otherwise had the uncanny sense that he wasn't in the mood for conversation. Instead, she was just content to simply provide him silent companionship right up until his thoughts took a darker turn towards...Sirius.

Luna scratched the underside of a thestral who purred under the blonde's ministrations, “My mother was an Unspeakable. She was a very good spellcrafter.”

Harry remained silent, wondering where his friend was going with this, but unwilling to push her. “I...was always pestering her to let me see her make a spell. But she always turned me down, saying it was too dangerous. I wanted to see her more often, you see? Her work at the Department of Mysteries meant she didn't have a lot of time to spend with me or Daddy.”

Luna swallowed and sank down to the ground, pressed up against a thestral who was worriedly fussing over her. “Until one day, she said yes. It was meant to be a small thing she was making but I...must have distracted her and she lost control of the spell matrix and...”

She stopped talking and Harry was glad that she didn't finish the tale. He was filled with the horrifying knowledge of why she even brought it up.

“Luna...” What could he say? 'I'm sorry.'? Like he hasn't heard that enough from other people in regards to Sirius.

Still, she ended up proving why she was in Ravenclaw and why he was in Gryffindor with her next words.

“Harry.” she was looking at him, bright blue eyes having lost their usual lidded gaze, “It doesn't get any easier until you start to try and forgive yourself. Even if you want some sort of punishment for thinking that you deserve what happened to them or for wanting to feel better about yourself. My mother gave into my childish demands because she wanted me to be happy. And I didn't want to keep making her even more sad by wallowing in my own mistake.”

He didn't know at what point he felt something hot sliding down his cheeks...

“I don't know who Sirius was to you, but I'm sure he loved you as much as my mother did.”

...nor did he notice when Luna had crossed the distance between himself and her and locked him in a gentle embrace.

“So live, Harry. Don't just survive. If not for yourself, then do it to give them a reason to smile.”

'Their wisdom!'

A wispy hare that was just barely able to be seen with the fire covering it, popped in and out of Harry's vision in more and more improbable locations. Harry put a hand on the odd little animal that now rested on his shoulder. His determination to finish the fight was as strong as ever, but when looking at Voldemort's increasingly desperate expression...

'“Well, what's the bloody point?!” Harry snarled, losing his temper as he so often did in recent months. He was working on a particularly difficult bit of wide-area transfiguration that would allow him to turn the very environment into an all-purpose means of defence and attack.

Dumbledore could do it.

Voldemort could do it.

McGonagall could do it.

And of course: Hermione could do it.

But not Harry.

“The point, Mr. Potter” began McGonagall quietly, her voice piercing the stillness of the classroom and forcing him to meet her eyes filled with an unwavering determination, “Is that I made a promise last year to Dolores Umbridge and to yourself.”

Confused, Harry opened his mouth only to be cut off, “I don't follo-”

“Do you still want to be an Auror, Mr. Potter?”

“Bit hard, considering the whole fated fight with Voldemort coming up-”

“Do you still want to be an Auror, Mr. Potter?” she repeated without batting an eye.

Harry suddenly recalled the meeting he had with McGonagall and Umbridge who had decided to barge in on Harry's plans for the future. Umbridge had scoffed at his tentative dream to be an Auror on that day and McGonagall had retaliated with all the fury of a mother lion, saying that she would ensure that Harry would become an Auror even if she had to do it herself.

'Potter, I will assist you to become an Auror if it is the last thing I do! If I have to coach you nightly, I will make sure you achieve the required results!'

He steeled himself and looked his Head of House dead in the eye, “Yes.”

She nodded sharply and restored the room back to it's normal state with a flick of her wand. It was already getting to be very late in the morning, but she showed no signs of slowing down.

How could he do any less?'

'Their guidance!'

...it was clear that the fight was quickly reaching it's end.

“I AM LORD VOLDEMORT-”

A large yowling cat leapt onto the hydra and unceremoniously severed one of it's heads which burst into a sickly looking ooze that evaporated once it was disconnected from the main body. The leftover stump seemed to bubble ominously for a moment before a hare appeared over it and doused it in azure flames.

“-AND I WILL NOT-”

“Not that I do not appreciate the company, but I admit to being curious as to what brings you to my office today, Harry.” Dumbledore sipped his tea and Harry felt his heart settling down as he drank his own cup.

“It's just...” he began after a few minutes of silence, “...I ran into a group of first years – Hufflepuff and Gryffindors – and...when they saw me...”

Harry took a great gulp of the tea in front of him, wincing as it slightly burned his tongue. “...They must have been talking about Voldemort or his Death Eaters or something along those lines. They...they were so scared, sir. But when they saw me...”

“It was like their prayers had been answered.” finished Dumbledore quietly. “When I had defeated Grindelwald, when Tom was at his very worst...I experienced much the same. Harry, I-”

“But you're you!” exclaimed Harry, his hands shaking as he held onto the cup. “I've been getting better since the year started. I could probably go toe-to-toe with any student in this school and have a pretty good shot of beating them.”

“...but I'm not a genius like 'Mione. Not like you. Not like Him. When it really counted, I relied on dumb luck to get out of a scrap. I'm...not a savior. I'm just...Harry.”

At some point, without him realizing it, Dumbledore's weathered hands had settled over his own. The trembles that were coursing through them, gradually settled down as he looked into Dumbledore's eyes.

“I have made many mistakes in my life, Harry. Things that I still regret even to this very day. But even though you may not be as clever as Voldemort nor as gifted, I believe you will prevail regardless of the odds.”

'Their faith...'

“-I CANNOT-?!”

Voldemort's last rant was cut off as a massive phoenix blazed into existence and blasted all of the remaining pseudo-dementors and the remaining heads on the hydra with a single might sweep of it's wings.

Yes. You can.” spat Harry. “Not because I'm stronger. Or more clever. But because I have something that is far more precious!”

“POTTER!” he roared, even as he cast a magenta shield around himself to protect him from the forces that now pressed him on all sides.

They were both terrible dancers, but they had still managed to laugh themselves silly as they made more and more snide self-depreciating comments about their own skills that they were giggling like fools as they left the crowded Ball Room.

If there was one good thing about this stupid Tournament, it was that he was with his best friend. She sighed, still giggling slightly under her breath as She leaned against his arm while they walked into the cool night air of the Hogwarts Grounds.

A few other pairs could be seen wandering through the garden that Professor Sprout had created for this night and were off in their own little corners. Harry noted with a blush that more than a few were snogging without a care in the world and by the quick glance he darted down towards Her...

...Well, Her pink cheeks were a pretty good indication that she had noticed this as well.

Without speaking, the pair had trotted off to find their own secluded corner of the garden, the quiet chirping of insects and the fading tones of the music emanating from the Castle being their only accompaniment.

His heart was hammering in his chest, the blood roaring in his ears as he tenderly brushed a lock of brown hair behind Her ears. They locked eyes with each other, feelings that had been building up since the previous year's end were coming to a crescendo in this moment.

“Harry...” She whispered, Her face tilted up to meet his.

THEIR LOVE!” he roared out.

An army stood against the one who had cut them down. Defiant even in death, even though he had failed them all so badly, they still stood with him to the very end.

In his final moments as Harry's spell began to overcome Voldemort's prodigious arcane defences, the Dark Lord shrieked in rage and thrust out his left hand. His pale fingers forming into a claw that he wrenched backwards.

“If I am to die here...! Then I aM TAKING YOU WITH ME!”

CRACK!

There was a great ripping sound from behind Harry as something flew through the air and impacted his unprotected back. Harry gagged and collapsed onto his knees, the still form of Neville's top half dragging him down to the floor with Gryffindor's sword going straight through his spine and out the middle of his chest.

“...and either must die at the hand of the other...”

The last few ashes that once made up the Dark Lord Voldemort were scattered away by the remaining vestiges of magical power. Harry Potter collapsed onto his side with a weak, pained gasp in a pool of blood staining the already crimson hall. Harry struggled to get up, slipping constantly on his own blood as he attempted to do so. As his mind began to fade and his thoughts grew increasingly hazy, he blindly searched the hall, looking for a familiar brown frizz as his breathing became ever more shallow.

Hermione.” The Boy-Who-Lived took his final breath.

“...for neither can live while the other survives.”

~Equestrian Elegy~

Harry woke up in a white void.

Naked, too.

It was the second time he had done so and he was already sick of the place.

At least Voldemort was dead.

He supposed he should have been more upset that he died too. Especially considering he got taken down by Gryffindor's sword.

Smarmy bastard.

But on the other hand, it's not like he would have had much to go back to. At least this way he could see his friends and family again. They wouldn't be ephemeral shades that he couldn't touch, but...hopefully they would be something more real.

The station of King's Crossing soon shimmered into view, except this time it was completely empty. No odd Headmasters or Babymorts. He kind of expected to see Voldemort, though he was fairly sure the bastard was dead considering how much he was screaming.

Hopefully his lack of presence meant that he was already onboard a one-way trip to Hell.

While thinking such cheery thoughts, Harry walked over to the nearest bench and plopped down onto it as he waited for his own ride out of here. He was kind of hoping that he'd see some familiar faces on board when the train finally arrived and then thought that it might not be the best idea in the world to be the only one naked.

A set of comfy looking clothes in Gryffindor colors appeared next to him and fit perfectly as he shrugged them on, before sitting back down on the bench. Harry could have been waiting for a few minutes or hours or even longer. He didn't get tired, hungry or feel any particular need to use the loo; content to sit in a state of half-wakefulness that he was pulled from by a familiar shrill whistle.

Fading into existence, just at the extreme edge of his vision, was a nostalgic locomotive that rolled down the tracks, before coming to a gentle stop in front of him. Steam hissed out on all sides as the compartment doors popped open, inviting Harry on board.

Much to his disappointment, he didn't see anyone poking their heads out of the windows.

“Ah, well. I expect they're already waiting for me up ahead.” Harry gave one final look at Kings Cross before stepping up to board his last train, his thoughts on Hermione.

The station, train and everything else save for the white void disappeared just as he was about to take that last step, causing him to stumble in place and blink rapidly at the now missing vehicle.

“...eh?”

Harry spun in place, looking for...well...anything.

Nothing.

He turned around again and saw-

ChaosInfinityEverythingThatIsAndAllThatWillBeLockedIntoAnEndlessSpiralOfMadnessAndGriefAndJoyAndWonderAndHorrorAndLoveAndFamilyFriendsEnemiesLoversSonsMothersDaughtersBrothersSistersCivilizationsEndingUniversesCollapsingRealityCrumblingAwayToTheFinalOutcomeThatAwaitsAllAndDeniesOnlyOne

Harry was on his knees, open-mouthed staring at an all-too familiar structure that had been the source of more than a few of his nightmares and even rarer fantasies. An ancient stone archway with a shimmering veil of mist kept within it's opening, whispers of people that Harry could swear he could recognize but couldn't quite make the connection, filtered out from the structure.

The Veil of Death.

A sinking feeling came into being in his stomach as Harry shakily got up from his position, it was only redoubled as the mist became thicker within the archway as it condensed to fit the now smaller space it had to maneuver around-

Harry's eyes widened as the interior of the Veil began to be filled in with stone at a prodigious rate.

“No, stop!” he yelled out. Harry had the awful, awful certainty that if he didn't make it through the Veil in time before it closed, he would never get to see any of his family again.

Harry's feet pounded against the ground, wishing with all of his might that the distance between him and the archway would get shorter as he raced against time. To his growing horror however, no matter how much he ran or how much he prayed that this world would respond to his thoughts, the distance between him and his goal never changed.

As if to mock him even further, Harry suddenly arrived at his goal just as the Veil closed and filled completely with stone; the archway now resembled a tombstone more than anything.

The symbol of the Deathly Hallows was emblazoned across it's surface

Harry didn't care as he smashed a fist against the unyielding stone.

“LET ME IN!”

Two fists.

“LET ME GO!”

Shoulder charge.

“I HAVE TO SEE THEM!”

He ran around to the other side, only to meet the same sight. He snarled and wailed on the stone for all that he was worth.

“I AM NOT THE MASTER OF DEATH!”

Were he anywhere else, Harry was sure that his bones would have broken by now. As it were, the lack of pain only spurred him to try that much harder. At some point it occurred to him to wish that the Void would at least answer his prayers of a wand. Much to his vicious satisfaction, he received one that he quickly began to use to blast the door with everything he had.

When that failed to do anything for the hundreds of thousands of spells he casted, he started calling out to the other side, hoping someone would hear him.

“HERMIONE!”

Anyone.

“DAD!”

Harry scratched his nails across the stone, seeking to claw open the cracks that ran along the surface of the stone.

“MOM!”

His fist pounded against the doorway.

“SIRIUS!”

Harry screamed as loud as he could against the door.

“RON!”

“NEVILLE!”

“DUMBLEDORE!”

Anyone at all.

"SNAPE!"

“BELLATRIX!”

“TOM!”

“Please. Someone...!” he choked out. Harry slapped his hand against the stone repeatedly cycling through all the people he had loved.

All the ones he had met.

That he'd heard of.

That he'd hated.

All the Gods and Devils above and below. He prayed that he would not be stuck in this awful in-between existence, denied even the meanest of contact.

The Void did not change back to Kings Crossing, nor any other setting. All that remained was the Veil. It's final destination being something that Harry was becoming more and more certain would be denied to him.

Just when he was about to lose that last ember of hope that burned within him, something changed.

The Deathly Hallow symbol flashed, going through a kaleidoscope of different colors as a similar multi-hued circle appeared below his feet, engulfing him in it's light. He smiled, thinking his trial was finally over as he felt himself sinking into the portal, depositing him into a realm filled with shifting colors and shapes.

That was all he could glimpse before his world exploded into pain.

~Equestrian Elegy~

High atop a mountain where a grand castle perched precariously on it's side, two equine figures stood upon a balcony overlooking the picturesque landscape below that was dyed in glorious hues of orange and red from the setting sun.

The tallest figure was a tall slender mare of the purest white, that only stood out in more contrast to her polychromatic mane and tail that floated in an ethereal wind. Two large wings were partially tucked into the mare's side that was used to keep a much smaller pony – a purple filly with a small horn coming out the crown of her mane – in a tight, but not constrictive embrace. The mare had a large, elegant horn expanding from her head that was surrounded by a corona of green energy.

This was Princess Celestia – Monarch of Equestria and one of only two alicorns in the entire world sharing a private moment with her pupil, a unicorn filly entering her eleventh year of life, by the name of Twilight Sparkle.

The two ponies watched in companionable silence as the Sun began a controlled descent down the horizon.

“Tell me, Twilight, what do you feel?” asked Celestia in a gentle, motherly tone.

“Well based on the thaumic field you're currently outputting and the distance from the planet to the Sun, the rate at which the Sun is making it's descent, I'd estimate that the current amount of mana being expended is-” Twilight squeaked in embarrassment as her explanation was cut off when Celestia nuzzled her cheek.

“Don't worry about the specifics, Twilight. Close your eyes and tell me how what I'm doing makes you feel.”

Her cheeks red from the gentle admonishment, Twilight nonetheless quickly complied as she shut her eyes and contorted her face into a grimace. Celestia stifled a giggle at the serious expression the filly had adopted, not wanting to break her concentration.

“Umm...well I feel your magic, Princess. It's...really warm actually. It feels nice.” Twilight's expression became a little softer and she smiled. “But it also feels less than normal...?”

Celestia smiled, “Good, Twilight. Keep extending your senses, let my magic be the guide to yours.”

“There's a very thin...I want to say line, but that doesn't seem like the right word. More like a...cylinder?” Twilight nods to herself and affirms with more confidence, “Yes. A cylinder tapering out into a thinner shape and it...feels like it's getting warmer the farther I go...”

“Don't be afraid, Twilight. Nothing will happen so long as I am with you.” crooned Celestia, “Mix your magic with mine and follow where it goes. Remember the basics of tandem spellcasting, don't force a connection, but instead...?” she trailed off in a questioning tone.

“Harmonize it.” Despite not casting a spell, Twilight's horn lit up in a pale corona of violet energy and Celestia could feel her student's magic ever so gently mixing with her own. She was still a bit hesitant, but as expected, she was still a little better than she was the last time they had tried something like this.

This state of constant improvement was both a source of great pride and a small fear in Celestia. A fear that Twilight's own drive and natural talents would cause her to embark on a road devoted to seeking more and more power regardless of the cost. But unlike with Sunset Shimmer, Twilight at least had her family and Cadance to call upon. She even had a small circle of acquaintances – sadly, they weren't friends yet, but Celestia had hope they would be in time – who she spent time with, particularly one little filly by the name of Moondancer.

Shaking her mind free of such worries for the moment, Celestia instead overlapped her own magic with Twilight's and drew it into a protective embrace. She smiled as Twilight unconsciously snuggled closer to her as she did this as she watched with her mind's eye as Twilight's magic zoomed off towards the sky.

“It's getting really warm now...but it's not uncomfortable. I can feel...more of you the farther I go...” Twilight trailed off half in wonder and half in deep thought. She shook herself free a few heartbeats later, “And there's something at the end of your – our – magic, it feels ancient and so...vast...”

A great molten ball of fire and magic hundreds of times bigger than the entire planet, hovers in the cold reaches of outer space. It casts it's light out in all directions of the void, but if one were to look closer, they would see that a bit more light and a bit more warmth is directed towards a certain spot in Equestria where a pure white alicorn stares back at it.

Twilight gasped, though Celestia was very pleased to note that her magic barely wavered at all, before re-syncing with her own aether connection; a feat that most mages with decades more experience compared to Twilight have managed.

“P-Princess. W-what is that?” Twilight's eyes opened and were wide with awe.

“That is our world's oldest protector. The one who brought warmth to the world and life to it's inhabitants. It is the light that allows itself to be moved so that others may bask in it's presence.” lectured Celestia, her voice taking on a more passionate tone as she gazed towards the source of the mark that adorned her flanks.

“It is a very dangerous and potent power in the wrong hooves. One that could easily take away the life that has bloomed on this wonderful world. My own connection to the Sun is a bit more intimate than most, as I'm sure you can feel.”

“Do...you feel like this every day, Princess?” breathed Twilight, her eyes focused on the same distant (but oh so close) star as she was.

“Over the centuries the feeling of awe has diminished, yet every day when I am raising it and setting it down...” she breathed out deeply, “...that first moment when I make an active connection, I feel like a filly all over again.”

Allowing herself just a brief moment to lose herself in nostalgia, Celestia gained a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she looked at her young protégé. “And today, you'll be helping me give it that last nudge to lower it.”

~Equestrian Elegy~

One of her favourite parts of having pupils was when she got the opportunity to tuck them into bed. Celestia smiled softly at the deliriously happy expression still on Twilight's face as she pulled the blanket over her. Spike was already asleep by the time they got back to Twilight's quarters who was sleepily still trying to ask more questions about the celestial bodies around the planet.

“Good night, Twilight. Sweet dreams.” a slight frown crossed her muzzle at the last part of her sentence, but quickly vanished as she pressed a kiss to Twilight's forehead.

A quick build up of her mana after one last look at her student and Celestia teleported herself back to her room. Her regalia was levitated off of her in an age-old routine as she stepped out onto the balcony, staring up at the moon and the image of a pony plastered across it's surface.

“Oh, Luna...” she sighed. “Six more years. Only six more and we will finally meet again, dear sister.”

Tomorrow would mark the nine hundredth and ninety-third Summer Sun Celebration with the event occurring in Manehattan this year. She was sure the ponies of Equestria and those who chose to visit the nation would all have a wonderful time as usual.

Even as her smiles towards the masses became more strained with every passing year.

The knowledge that she still hadn't found proper successors to all the Elements gnawed on her. She had candidates, for sure, ponies that embodied each of the different aspects of Harmony were in different locations. The most promising were located in Ponyville, as close as possible to where the physical forms of the Elements rested. Some were fortunate happenstance and others she had enticed over with promising job offers or opportunities.

Though she cherished all of her ponies dearly, these ones were secretly watched over by her very best.

~Equestrian Elegy~

Within the sleepy hamlet of Ponyville inside of a small, well-kept cottage, there was an extremely fluffy pink pony with blue eyes who looked at the moon with a stern expression that didn't seem to fit her face.

The fluffy pony then proceeded to promptly blow a raspberry at the Mare-In-The-Moon.

Thhbbpphhhtttt.”

~Equestrian Elegy~

And Canterlot was close by if any serious problems were to arise, though Celestia knew very well that she couldn't prepare for everything. Despite all the power that was entrusted to her and what her ponies may believe, she wasn't all-knowing or all-powerful.

After nearly a thousand years of ruling alone and seeing friends pass away while she remained untouched by the ravages of time...

Well.

She was certainly glad she had Cadance now. Assuming everything went well, she might – no, she would get her sister back.

And in the very best case scenario, maybe, just maybe Twilight could-

The world lit up as the brilliance of one who has transcended beyond mortal flesh descends upon the world. Their presence serves to be a hallmark of great change as all things that go untouched by time are wont to do. Magic of an an ancient and otherworldly nature seeps through the hidden crevices of reality. It is only known to those who are of it's kin and it's existence serves to deliver a single message:

I AM HERE

Celestia nearly collapsed to her knees at the unexpected surge of...Alicorn magic. Unlike when her niece Cadance had become an Alicorn, this surge contained none of the warmth and passionate feelings associated with love. It felt far colder, more ancient and all encompassing...

...something that felt like the Sun being snuffed out.

Steeling herself, Celestia looked once more towards the moon and breathed out a sigh of relief when she saw that the image of Luna had not disappeared. For a moment however, her breath hitched as she felt the subtle tellings of space warping on the balcony, though considering the wards weren't reacting and what had just occurred, she had a good feeling as to who was paying her a midnight visit.

Pop!

A slender, pink alicorn mare blinked into existence as the light blue corona of her magic faded into shimmering motes of mana. Her normally well-groomed mane and tail was in a mess, as if she had just fallen out of bed and though the night was pleasantly warm, she was shivering.

“A-Auntie C-Celestia-” stuttered Cadance. Tears were prickling the corners of her eyes and were beginning to spill down her face.

It was easy to see her niece was very distressed and Celestia had found herself already closing the distance between them and enveloping her into a tight hug.

“Shhh. It's alright Cadance.” she murmured, as Cadance snuggled into the embrace still shivering. Celestia was saddened as her fur felt increasingly damp with her niece's tears who started to sob in quiet, painful and just awful wracking bursts.

“Something...something woke me up and it f-felt so, so, so sad and lonely as if I'd never see my friends, my parents, or Shiny, or Twili or you e-ever again!” Cadance wailed the last part and clutched at Celestia, seeking whatever comfort she could get from the older princess.

The next words of reassurance and comfort that she was about to say, died on Celestia's tongue when she felt a second, somewhat weaker, pulse of that same – InevitabilityCessationUntiringInexorable – magic made itself known once again. Judging by how Cadance suddenly stiffened in her embrace, it was easy to tell that she had felt it too.

Without speaking any words, the two alicorns linked their senses together and followed the quickly fading eddy of magic back to it's potential source. A frown crossed Celestia's face as she looked towards Ponyville and the ominous forest that bordered it.

Author's Note:

In terms of ages, Harry is 17 going on 18 by the start of this story, Applejack is 12 and the oldest of the Mane 6, Applebloom is only a few months old at this time, Big Mac is 15 and Twilight is 11 and the youngest of the Mane 6.

Next time, Harry finds out he's in a less spooky Forbidden Forest.