Following Harry's release from the St. Mungo's, he, Hermione, Lily and Dumbledore traveled in uneasy silence, each thinking of the complex journey ahead and their own part in it. Harry stepped out of the fireplace into the Headmistress's office at Hogwarts, moving quickly out of the way as the others followed. Hermione was next, then his mother—the two shifting to opposite sides of the fireplace as Minister Dumbledore stepped through the green flames last.
No one's eyes met and again, Harry felt the tension that had been present since he'd awoken in the hospital that morning. Hermione offered him a brief smile before glancing at his mother, who had moved to the corner of the office and stood motionless as she waited for Dumbledore to begin. The Minister nodded at her silently and moved behind the desk, quickly locating the box containing his Pensieve.
As the Minister placed the Pensieve on Professor McGonagall's desk, Harry felt a sudden attack of anxiety begin. Anxiousness, not for what he would see, but for the guilt he knew he'd feel once he had a better understand of everything Tonks had gone through for him. In spite of the vague reassurance Sirius had tried to give him, he had the uneasy suspicion she would never be the same. Never again the funny, smart, capable person he'd gotten to know when the Order met. Much as his own life experiences had shaped him.
Harry knew she'd volunteered to arrest Snape, but that didn't lessen the guilt. Yes, she'd gone into it with her eyes open. She'd wanted to protect him, as had so many other people who'd ended up hurt. Knowing why and seeing how she'd suffered were not the same thing in Harry's book. One was her a consequence of her job. The other? Pointless torture she'd endured because Snape had hated him. When all was said and done, did he really need to see how much the man had hated him? Did anyone? Still, Harry felt he had to do it. His guilt was a small price to pay for a life that would never be the same.
Dumbledore watched Harry from the other side of the desk, one eyebrow raised in question. When he spoke, Harry swore the man was reading his thoughts. Not for the first time that day. "You don't have to do this if you're feeling uncomfortable," he said. To Harry's relief, he seemed to be addressing the room at large.
"Are you sure you want to go with us?" Harry asked, turning to face his girlfriend. Hermione had been fumbling with the catch on her cloak before finally getting it to release. She tossed the garment onto the nearest chair and crossed her arms, taking a deep breath as she gathered her nerve.
Hermione nodded at Harry and turned to his mother. She cleared her throat to get Lily's attention. "I'm sorry for the way I acted earlier," she said softly, walking closer. "I don't know what came over me. I hope you're not upset with me."
Lily smiled and patted the girl's shoulder. "Don't worry about it, Hermione. There have been enough apologies to go around today. I understand you were just looking out for Harry. I might've done the same in your position." Her expression became thoughtful. "Though, not in such strong language."
Hermione blushed and brought one hand to her face. "I'm so—"
Suddenly, Harry clamped a hand over her mouth. She looked at him with wide eyes, talking from behind his fingers. "We're all sorry for a lot that we've said because this has been…a long, difficult weekend," he said. If killing his stepfather and finding out Voldemort could still come back counted as difficult, then yes, the past several days fit the description nicely. "Maybe we'll feel better if we stop talking about it," Harry added. He removed his hand from Hermione's mouth and replaced it with his lips. Lily looked on, a bemused expression on her face.
"I'm supposed to be upset with you for cutting me off," Hermione said when he pulled away. She grabbed his hand and laced her fingers through his. "Why can't I stay mad at you?"
"Because you love me and helping me stay calm through all of this craziness is a much better use of your energy," Harry said. He leaned in to kiss her again, blushing lightly when Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"Are we ready to begin, then?" Dumbledore asked. The silvery light emitting from the basin reflected off of his face and beard, giving him the appearance of a ghost.
Lily stepped forward and took Harry's other hand before nodding.
"Auror Tonks wanted me to assure all of you that in spite of how difficult this may be to watch, she does not regret taking on this assignment, nor does she blame anyone for what happened," Dumbledore said, looking directly at Harry. "I have yet to view this memory, but I understand it is quite graphic and lasts approximately fifteen minutes—from the time she entered the office until she fell unconscious. I'm giving you all one last chance to avoid seeing this."
"If it becomes too much for one of the children, I can send them out," Lily said.
Dumbledore nodded. "Very well." He reached for Lily's hand. "Let's begin."
Strong hands shaking his shoulder forced Harry awake. In the low light of the common room fire, he caught sight of a loudly snoring painting above the fireplace and then Hermione came into view, her brows pushed together in concern.
"Did I scream again?" Harry asked. He reached over to the table and retrieved his glasses.
She shook her head. "No, but you were moving around so much, I thought you were going to fall to the floor." Hermione pushed the blanket covering them aside and pulled out her wand. Raising it, she dried the sweat from his face and clothes. "You know, Madam Pomfrey could give you something to help you sleep."
"I know," Harry responded, "but I'd rather not let anyone know I'm back in the castle."
"I don't know why. Everyone will know in the morning when we come down for breakfast," Hermione said. "Besides, Professor McGonagall already told our professors we'd be coming back tonight. They're expecting us to return to class tomorrow. Well, me anyway. You may get the day off."
"I don't know, because you're having nightmares and a crazy person tried to kill you a few days ago?" Hermione suggested. "They may even care that you've just lost a beloved member of your family," she said. One hand went over her heart in mock sympathy.
"Don't joke like that, my stomach can't take it."
Hermione moved closer to him on the sofa. His arm slipped around her shoulders as she settled against his side. "Are you sure you don't want to lay down in your dorm?" she asked. "You might feel more comfortable."
"I think my roommates would feel more comfortable if the resident murderer didn't sneak into the room in the middle of the night," Harry said. "I'd rather not hear Ron screaming for help when he sees me outside his curtains. Would probably make my headache worse."
"He would not scream," she said slowly.
"Too scared to make a noise?" Harry asked. "You're right. He is more likely to squeak or something."
"Harry, stop it. No one is going to think you're a murderer. Nobody even knows the whole story. All that Prophet article said was that there was to be an arrest at the school, several people were injured and one died. It even stated the death was an accident."
"Exactly my point, Hermione. A professor gets killed on school grounds and there's hardly anything about it in the Prophet. Everyone is going to know there was some kind of cover-up. Why would something need to be hidden if everything that happened was above-board?" he asked. "I don't know who's idea it was to keep it completely out of the paper, but it's just going to make people more likely to be suspicious of me."
"You're being paranoid," Hermione said. "You have no idea if people are going to be suspicious of you."
Harry thought back to the beginning of his fifth year, when a series of Prophet articles had convinced most of his classmates and the Wizarding world that he had killed Cedric Diggory and Dumbledore had been fooled into covering it up. He knew better than to take anyone giving him the benefit of the doubt for granted. He'd be lucky if they didn't run him out of the castle.
"Don't I?" he asked. "No one has seen either of us around for days. Everyone knows I hated Snape. After all the crap he'd been giving me the past couple of weeks, you don't think I'm the number one suspect in his death?"
"I don't think the possible rumors are what's got you so worked up right now," she said quietly. "Are you finally ready to tell me about it?"
Harry started to say no again, but hesitated at her pleading look. She'd agreed to sleep with him in the common room, the least he could do was be honest. Hermione was scared for him. If he was going all the way with the honesty thing, what he'd seen had scared him too. It wasn't so much what had happened, it was the strength of feeling behind it. The kind of impotent fury that had lain dormant so long, Harry was surprised a stray comment in the hall or mouthing off one day in class hadn't caused Snape to vaporize him without hesitation. And for the bastard to say the only thing stopping him was Harry's mother? It made him sick to think of it.
"I was dreaming about the memory we watched earlier." Hermione settled her head on his chest and Harry pulled the blanket up around both of them. He closed his eyes as he tried to remember everything that happened. "I was tied to the chair and Snape was screaming at me. He was going on about a new world order and how he and Voldemort were going to set things to rights."
Even repeating the grandiose delusions he'd heard had the power to turn Harry's stomach, though he felt sure they would never come true. Still, when he thought of the number of people who had been hurt—and still might be—because one wizard had chosen the darkest path imaginable, he couldn't imagine where he'd get the strength to stand up to an evil that wouldn't die, let alone how he might win.
"Harry?" Hermione turned her face up towards his. Her hair brushed his arm and her breath warmed his skin when she spoke. "You're shaking. If you don't want to tell me the rest…"
"No, I'll tell you," he said. "Maybe if I get do, the nightmares will stop and we can get some sleep." He opened his eyes and looked down at her, smiling at her concern in spite of the imagery flashing through his mind. Harry squeezed her tight briefly before continuing. "He was going on about what they were going to do and then Voldemort started hurting me—well, Tonks. It was strange because when we watched the memory earlier, I saw it the same way you and my mum and Dumbledore did. But when I've dreamed it, I was in her body. He was hurting me, they both were. I could actually feel her pain."
One hand went to rub at his scar. Minutes before, he could swear the mark was pulsating with the same rage he'd felt from outside the office when Tonks was being tortured. Now, it was quiet. With all he'd learned that day about Horcruxes and his own part in thwarting Voldemort's plans, Harry couldn't help but think it was the quiet before the storm.
"I was screaming from the pain, screaming for him to let me go, to give me a few minutes to rest, promising he wouldn't be locked up, that he could go free if he just let me go and disappeared. I promised that the Ministry wouldn't go after Snape as long as he didn't bring Voldemort back. I know Tonks didn't really say half of that, but I think it was in her head to say to him when he was hurting her. I don't know, I guess Voldemort was reading her thoughts and transferred some of them to me. It may not even be real. Then, something strange happened. I went from being in her body to being inside the snake. I was Voldemort in the dream."
He'd been the snake again just as he'd dreamt of attacking Arthur Weasley months before, in another life. Only this time, the injuries had been more severe than any of them could've imagined. Harry knew it even if no one would tell him the full extent. He knew it just by dreaming of what Voldemort did to her, by becoming him in his own mind.
"He was hurting her through her thoughts somehow; it's hard to explain. It was like, he was taking every fear and every nightmare she'd ever had and making them real, creating memories of these things, pushing her until every injury she'd ever suffered, every loss or heartbreak or whatever seemed like it was happening. It was all in her mind but it was causing her real physical pain and fear. He was laughing the entire time. He was trying to drive her crazy."
Harry paused, suddenly remembering Snape's warning during his first Occlumency lesson that he could access memories Harry feared and use them as weapons. Now he knew the full meaning of that statement. "When Snape was torturing Tonks, Voldemort told him not to kill her because he wanted her to live with her injuries. So she could spend the rest of her life suffering."
It had taken everything Tonks had to withstand the continuous mental and physical assault. Her Auror training had given her a great advantage—one Harry never could have matched if he'd been the one helpless in the chair—but he knew what she'd gone through had gone much further than even three years of training could have prepared her for. All night he'd been telling himself he wasn't responsible, but that didn't begin to lessen the guilt and pain settling in for the long haul. In all actuality, Harry didn't think anything would. Nothing short of her seemingly improbable full recovery.
Harry felt Hermione's tears seeping through his shirt and quickly realized his own were joining hers. After the last eighteen or so hours, he wouldn't have thought he'd be capable of producing any more tears for a long while, but it felt right to grieve what had happened to someone who didn't deserve it.
"Was that the end of the dream?" Hermione asked after a minute.
"No," Harry cleared his throat. "Right before she passed out, Voldemort said, 'Don't hold out for my mercy. This is only the beginning.'" Though simple, the words served as a cold omen for the long fight ahead. One that could only end in death.
"Unfortunately, he was right," Hermione whispered. "If what Dumbledore said is true, you could spend most of your life doing this."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Harry said. "When this is all done, I will be too."
Hermione pushed herself into a sitting position. "I thought you weren't afraid of death," she said. "For the past couple of weeks—"
"For the past couple of weeks, I was sure Snape was going to kill me. I just wanted the chance to take him out before the curse got me. Now…" Harry shrugged. "I don't have the same expectations I had a few days ago. I thought if he was out of the picture, everything else would be fine. My mum can barely talk to me. I never thought I might not be able to have a close relationship with her. Maybe she'll want to one day, but I can tell all of this is killing her."
"She was doing fine earlier," Hermione observed. "She came back to your hospital room to talk to you and you were getting along when she came back to Hogwarts with us."
"Yeah, but she's going to miss the son she had. Especially now." He paused. "So are you."
Hermione frowned. "Harry, we talked about this."
He nodded, watching her expression flicker from uncertainty to concern.
"You know how I feel about you," she said.
"I know we jumped into a relationship and there's no rush now."
"Jumped? What are you saying?" Hermione pushed back further, letting the blanket slide from her shoulders and pool around them on the sofa. "You can't keep going back and forth like this." She sighed. "I don't know what I can say to you anymore," she said softly.
"I'm not changing my mind," he said. "I'm trying to be honest. I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I don't want to feel like we're going to be together for the wrong reasons." He stopped, reluctant to make his next admission. "Earlier at the hospital, when I was crying and started kissing you, I didn't think about what I was doing at the time." He paused and looked down at his hands. "It was just like with Cho. I never considered that she did the same thing to me. She was crying over Cedric, thinking about some other pain in her life and using me to forget it. There's no telling how many times she did that." Or how many times I've already done it, he thought.
"I don't want to do that to you. You deserve better."
"I deserve you in my life," Hermione said. "You keep telling me how smart I am, so you should know I am capable of figuring out what's going on between us." She reached for his hand. "I am glad you're talking to me about this. A lot of other boys wouldn't be concerned at all. Or they wouldn't care if they did consider it. Let me worry about it. With everything else that's going on, a relationship with me is the last thing you should be scared of."
He squeezed her hand. It wasn't that he was afraid, but going after what he really wanted hadn't served him too well recently. He wanted to take the next step with her, but didn't have the first clue what he would do if everything went wrong. Hermione would encourage him to take the chance anyway, if only for her own reasons. Was it worth the risk? There were many opportunities to screw everything up, but only one chance to do it right. When the time came, Harry hoped he'd make the right choice.
"That's what I'm saying, Hermione. Anything could happen and the more serious we get, the harder it's going to be on both of us when something happens."
"If something happens. I'm not going to put my life on hold because there's a madwoman on the loose with a Horcrux and an old notebook," Hermione said. "Dumbledore is going to help you and Neville live through this. With a lot of help from your mum and Sirius and everyone at the Ministry and me. You don't have to look at your life like it's going to end any day now. You deserve a real chance at life," she said, unconsciously echoing Dumbledore's words from days earlier.
"Are you going to need constant reassurance about us?" she asked. "I'm ready to give it, but I think you'll get sick of me repeating the same things over and over."
"Would it be something like do your essays, eat some breakfast, don't provoke the Death Eater married to your mother?"
She frowned. "Harry."
"I'm sorry," Harry said. A smile slowly dawned on his face. "I did tell you there's one way you can help me stay calm." Harry tugged on her hand and pulled her closer. She turned her head away when he tried to kiss her. "What is it?"
"Isn't this what you told me you were doing at the hospital? Using physical contact as a distraction?"
"Come on, Hermione." At her stare, he frowned. "Fine, I'll say it. I don't need constant reassurance from you. I know you love me."
"How do you feel?"
The quiet question unnerved him. She'd smiled afterward, but he knew it was one of suppressed disappointment, not calm acceptance of his inability to answer. The way she leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek did nothing to change that fact.
"Goodnight, Harry." Hermione stood and stretched.
"Where are you going?"
"To sleep in my bed," she answered. She yawned loudly and picked up the blanket and her wand. "I think the nightmares are done."
As Harry watched her ascend the stairs, he found himself vehemently disagreeing. If the past few days were any indication, the nightmares were far from over. It was just beginning.
Harry's morning didn't begin any better than his night had ended. He awoke to the sounds of his roommates getting dressing and talking—about him. It wasn't so much that they were gossiping more than Lavender and Parvati on an average day, it was that two of them seemed more than a little unsure of his innocence. Just as he'd told Hermione. What a time for her to be wrong.
"I don't care what McGonagall said," Seamus remarked. "He's been acting loopy since school started. He'd been fighting with Professor Snape, we all saw it. Now he's dead. If she didn't think Harry was dangerous, why'd she keep him locked up in her office all last week?"
"Hermione was in there too," Ron reminded him. "Besides, he was still sleeping here."
"Where have they been since Saturday?" Dean asked. "We were in the Great Hall for hours for some emergency and they were the only ones not there."
"Malfoy wasn't with Slytherin either," Ron put in.
"You in on it too Weasley?" Seamus asked. "You seem to be full of answers about Potter."
"Full of something," Dean added. The three of them began arguing. Harry lost track of the accusations and arguments being traded about him.
"He talked to us," Neville said over the din. The other boys fell silent. "If the rumors are true and Professor Snape was being arrested, what Harry told me was right. They were in there for protection. Looks like they needed it."
"If Harry's a killer now, who's going to protect us from him?" Dean asked.
"If you ask nicely, maybe you can hide behind McGonagall's robes," Harry called out. The room became quiet again. He reached for his glasses and parted the curtains to get out of bed. The four boys eyed him as he crossed the room to where they had gathered around the foot of Dean's bed. "What happened Saturday is in the Prophet for anyone to read," Harry said.
Seamus didn't seem mollified by this. "It's a bunch of crap thrown out by the Ministry to cover something up. Whatever you did."
"What did I do?" Harry asked. "You're not completely brainless. If I was dangerous, do you think McGonagall would want me here?"
"Maybe you threatened her."
Harry sighed. "I was wrong, you are brainless." He turned to Neville and Ron. "Thanks for at least trying to talk some sense into them." With a nod at both of them, he retrieved a change of clothes and his wand from his bedside and went into the bathroom. At this point, he didn't put it past anyone to try a sneak attack. He figured he'd had enough surprises.
When Harry came out of the bathroom, he found Neville waiting for him. The other boy's expression was unreadable, but the tightly crossed arms and tapping foot bespoke a tension Harry had felt almost constantly for the past two weeks. Before he could ask what was going on, Neville said, "I think it's about time you told me the truth."
Harry nodded and moved over to his bed. He sat down and waved Neville over. For the first time since it had all started, he wanted to lie, wanted to protect his friend and roommate from the darkness that lay ahead. But he knew, even as he told himself he could do it, no good would be served by keeping the only other person tied to Voldemort in the dark. Raising his wand, Harry locked the door and put a silencing charm on it.
"Do you remember when I told you what was going on wasn't about you?" Neville nodded. Harry knew he was thinking of the cryptic conversation they'd had a week before when Harry had done nothing to allay his fears of another possible attack, leaving him with more questions than answers.
Harry took a deep breath. There was nothing left to it but to plough straight ahead. "Has anyone ever told you the real reason Voldemort killed your parents?"
Neville laughed shortly. There was no humor in the gesture, but Harry could see the other boy was looking for a hint that he was joking. "You know something no one else knows?"
"You're going to think this is completely mad," Harry said.
"You're assuming I don't think that already," Neville responded. "Something weird happened Saturday and I felt…I don't know what it was. I nearly passed out again. I told Lavender it was just a headache, but you and I know better, don't we? Tell me everything."
Harry looked down at the wand in his hand and remembered that Neville owned one exactly like it. He held it up for the other boy to see. "There's a good reason you and I were both chosen by a holly and phoenix feather wand." He caught Neville's eye. "We were both marked by Voldemort," he said. Then, he told Neville the bare bones of a tale of two boys with scars and one common destiny.
"The Minister told you this?" Neville asked when he had finished. Harry nodded. "The old bloke with the long beard and the pocket full of lemon drops?" Neville shook his head. "Ron always said he's a complete nutter." Neville paused, considering. "That, or you might be."
Harry shrugged. "I'm not going to deny that. No reason some of this can't have driven me a little crazy and still be true. Even if you don't believe all of it, you know some of what's been happening at Hogwarts lately has been a little strange."
"That's just it, Harry. No one knows what's really going on outside of you, Hermione and Professor McGonagall," Neville said. "You can't even prove any of this."
"Dumbledore said he'd try to provide proof later." At Neville's skeptical expression, he added, "I know how that sounds, but when he was telling me the Horcrux bit yesterday, he said he had to do more research or tests or something. Proving the rest of it true is a bit more complicated than what I'm in the mood for right now."
"I don't know how much of this I should believe. I don't want to think you'd lie to me about something serious, but this?" Neville asked. "It's not like I can Owl Dumbledore to ask him if this is true. He'd probably send the letter straight to St. Mungo's so they can figure out why the Boy Who Lived is cracking up."
"He wouldn't do that," Harry said. "Besides, he'll be here later for the funeral. You can talk to him then." One corner of Harry's mouth quirked up. "Actually, he'll be pretty peeved that I told you anything, but I never promised him I wouldn't. I just waited until…well, Snape was supposed to be arrested Saturday. Dumbledore might have planned to talk to you that night, but you already know things didn't quite go as planned."
"Did you kill him?" Neville asked.
Harry paused before he could state the outright denial. He hadn't actually promised his mother he'd never tell anyone the truth about it. Still, he didn't want Neville thinking he was a crazed killer on top of everything else he might be thinking. "If I hadn't gotten involved, everyone in the room would've been killed," he said finally. "I'm not saying I did it all on my own, but they needed the extra help and I was there. I was pretty lucky I didn't get killed. All I got was a weekend in the hospital."
"So why not tell the Daily Prophet that?" Neville asked.
Harry shrugged. "Maybe Dumbledore didn't want to start a panic about Death Eaters on the rise and two of them being former Hogwarts professors. I didn't get any input into that article, otherwise I might have asked that they didn't mention a student was involved at all. I could do without the hassle."
"I'm not sure it was right to defend you this morning," Neville said quietly.
Harry lowered his eyes to the wand laying on his bed and said nothing. He couldn't think of anything that seemed adequate anyway. He knew how he would've felt if he'd grown up the way Neville had and someone came to him with this outrageous story out of nowhere. It had been enough of a shock finding out he was a wizard and what Voldemort had done to his parents without all the rest of it. In spite of his repeated wishes for honesty, Harry wasn't sure how he would've reacted if Dumbledore had told him everything he knew the first day they'd met, or even after Voldemort and Quirrell had come after the Philosopher's Stone. Even in the Wizarding world, some things just seemed too far outside the realm of possibility without proof.
Both boys jumped and looked over as the door to their dorm emitted a loud crack and then swung open wildly, slamming into the wall behind it. Hermione came in, wand drawn, looking around frantically until she spotted both boys on the bed.
"What's going on?" she asked, running across the room. "What happened? I asked Ron where you were and he said Neville asked to be left alone with you. I wasn't sure—"
"I'm fine, Hermione," Harry said, cutting off what could've been a long explanation. "You worry too much."
She glared at him. "After what's happened the past couple of weeks, of course I'm—" She cut off abruptly and smiled at Neville. "Not that I think you'd hurt Harry, but you wouldn't believe some of the stories going around the Great Hall this morning," she said, turning back to Harry. "I almost got into it with that obnoxious twit Parkinson, going on about how you turned in Draco's dad on false charges." Hermione rolled her eyes and joined them on the bed..
"Mr. Malfoy was arrested?" Neville asked.
"Wait, that wasn't in the Prophet?" Harry asked. "I thought sure that would've been part of the article."
Hermione shook her head. "No, remind me to show it to you later. The article was really short. It hardly said anything about…you know," she whispered, glancing at Neville.
"I told him everything," Harry said.
"Oh," Hermione responded. "Everything?" she asked a beat later, her eyes widening.
"I don't believe a word of it," Neville said. "You do?"
"That's obvious, isn't it?" She lay one hand over Harry's on the bed. "If you'd seen half of what we had, you would have no trouble at all believing it."
"Death Eaters and You-Know-Who coming after me and Harry because of a prophecy?" Neville looked back and forth between the two of them. "How could you expect anyone to believe it? Any sane person," he added as Hermione started to respond.
"Did you show him your other scar?" Hermione asked, picking up Harry's hand. She thrust it forward for Neville's inspection. "Or the prophecy?"
"What?" Harry turned to her as Neville's eyes widened at the words carved into the back of his hand.
"The globe you got from the Department of Mysteries, Harry. You do still have it?" Hermione asked. She stood and looked around, quickly spotting the bag with his belongings inside. She pulled out the small glass globe and placed it on the bed. "That should be all the proof you need," she said.
Harry picked up the globe. Unconsciously, he held his breath as small tendrils of smoke swirled around the center before dissipating, leaving the small globe clear again.
"Right," Neville said. "I don't know how I ever could've doubted your story." He started to stand.
"Hold on," Hermione said. "Why don't you hold it, Neville?"
Frowning, he sighed and took the globe from Harry, watching as the inside began filling with thin, silvery smoke before it became clear again. "Wow," he said. "Another big finish."
"Oh, shut up," Hermione snapped. She stood and grabbed Neville's wrist in one hand. Taking Harry's hand in the other, she brought them together, closing their fingers around the small globe on either side.
Within seconds, dark whorls of smoke filled the small globe, swirling until they reached a peak at the center and appeared to be coming out of the top. Harry gasped at the sight. Neville jumped and pulled his hand back as if something had bitten him. The globe fell to the bed.
"What the bloody hell was that?" he asked.
Hermione rolled her eyes and grabbed his wrist again. "You wanted to find out how much is true. This is your chance." She turned to Harry.
He'd already picked up the globe again and was waiting for Neville to join him in holding it. Together, the three teenagers watched as the smoke swirled and peaked again, and a figure of a woman appeared just above the globe's surface, her image made murky by the dark smoke. Her voice rang out loud and clear, speaking the words of the prophecy that had changed the course of Neville and Harry's lives forever. When it was done, Neville snatched his shaking hand back and Harry lowered the globe to the bed.
"W-what does it mean? Why did it only work for both of us?" Neville asked.
"I think it's clear," Harry said. "Whatever has to happen for Voldemort to die, we have to do it together. That's the only way for this to end."