February 16, 2001
The pressure that prompted nausea from his internal organs slowly drained away as the tin like buzzing in his ears faded. The discomfort almost had Harry crying from nostalgia.
Fresh, bitter, grass-root scents filled his nose, letting his shrunken lungs fill up immediately, but he didn't even have time to feel happy. He was in 2001. He was here. Present.
All his attention was focused on the words Malfoy spit around the sneer of his mouth.
Who told you to become his only weakness?
He could understand each word separately, but how was it that he couldn't understand them strung together?
What did he mean by 'you, his weakness'?
He fell to the floor, no strength left in his body that allowed for movement. The chill of the laboratory floor bled into his body, gradually freezing him from the inside out. The price of time-travelling caused the pain to pierce straight through to his core.
47 days ago, 20 years ago, he was tasked with everyone's last hope, a sacred mission - find Voldemort's weakness.
He worked hard for 47 days, 20 years, to find and wait for this so-called weakness to appear; but 47 days, 20 years, of hard work later, he was told that he'd been the one carving out Voldemort's weakness all along?
However, for Voldemort of 2001, Harry Potter was just an enemy born on July 31, 1980. For Tom Riddle, whose memories had been erased by Fate, he couldn't possibly remember there existed a Harry Potter from 70 years ago; his weakness had long been annihilated.
Although Harry toiled and did his best; in the end, it was all for nothing!
He looked at the laboratory's white ceiling and laughed. He laughed; laughed at his own failure; laughed openly at his youthful and frivolous self; but the more he forced himself to look carefree and easy-going, the more heartbreaking his laughs became, sounding hoarse and unpleasant.
So this was what Fate had planned all along? So this was the foreshadowing Fate buried?
He spun around in circles only to end up back to the start; resisted and struggled before realising he'd been the one to personally push forward this situation's development; exhausted his efforts and strength only to find out later that it was all for nothing - all for nothing.
How absolutely amazing Fate is! Truly. Amazing.
In the end, only Hermione was able to see through this the clearest - this is a game long set up by Fate.
Yet he'd stubbornly held firm and naively refused to listen, walking right into Fate's illusion of complacency and triumph.
Harry would always remember how ecstatic he'd felt after learning that he'd managed to change Tom's birthplace.
But looking back at it, it was all just a joke.
How stupid and ignorant; how pitiful and pathetic.
The laboratory was probably the best-furnished room in Dumbledore's Army's camp. Due to the necessity of Harry's mission, Hermione took all the stable and expensive building materials around them to randomly pile the lab up.
Its soundproof feature was excellent, it was near impossible for outsiders to see the inside, and no sound from the outside could be heard from the inside either. But no matter how soundproof a space is, it's impossible to directly remove the air within and completely block the path for sound transmission.
Harry laid on the ground, his ears pressed against the cold stone ground, and felt the commotion outside the laboratory.
It sounded chaotic, the distance and pitches completely indistinguishable as if interwoven into a ball, creating an almost stifling atmosphere.
The thin and pale Saviour got up from the floor. He was still wrapped in a thin sweater, the wide-open neckline unable to cover the bruises scattered around his collarbone; they were dark to a terrifying degree, causing any traces of ambiguity to be removed.
He walked to the laboratory door with difficulty, still suffering from nausea caused by his stomach cramps, and twisted open the door handle.
The light that streamed in from the crack of the door was similar to a sword, poking straight into his pupils, causing the Gryffindor, who hadn't seen the sun for such a long time, to feel a strange joy of rebirth. The rays of light shining on him allowed him to finally feel the reality of returning to his era.
He really came back; he once again had Hermione, Ron, his comrades and elders… This sense of belonging made his gloomy soul tremble with cheerfulness.
But the light was too sharp, its scorching heat slightly unbearable; he squinted, waiting for the white screen in his vision to fade away.
The door opened completely and the outside noises flooded past Harry like a tide, vibrating his tympanic membrane; it was so overwhelming he could feel a headache coming up.
What caught his eyes was the black sea of Death Eaters. And standing in front of that sea, standing in front of him, were two figures he'd been missing for too long. The companions who put their trust, faith and lives in him stood tensely by the entrance of the laboratory, their spines straight and motionless as if they'd been standing guard since ancient times, each holding up a side of the sky to leave him room to breathe.
Harry wanted to call their names but was interrupted by a sharp, female voice.
"Ha! The Saviour!"
The two people standing before him heard this; they turned their head in surprise as if relieved.
"Are you okay?" There wasn't a single tremor from the hand Hermione was holding her wand in, but the gaze directed at Harry was subconsciously softened.
Ron's arm muscles had already knotted. "Harry, you came back so late; it's already night time."
Daylight was thinning to the west, the fireball gradually sinking down the horizon; yet it was still struggling with dignity, trying to escape the horizon's swallow. The night's prelude was beginning, and the world was sinking into the darkness.
"Hahaha, Sirius is dead, and now his godson's gonna die too!" That person continued screaming, her curly mass of messy black hair making her appear even more terrible.
Bellatrix. Harry stared at her coldly, enduring the pain that felt as if his internal organs were being stirred.
Ron and Hermione quickly backed away to stand with Harry.
"Harry, Ginny and the others have already evacuated. We must leave immediately. Can you still ride a broom?" Hermione asked in a lowered voice, her eyes never leaving from the crowd, watching for any movement from the enemies.
Harry smiled, nodding without hesitation.
"Very well. We have to take advantage of You-Know-Who's absence to leave quickly. Wait for me to count down from three before summoning your broom!" The wise Gryffindor planned carefully and boldly, her chestnut hair tied behind her.
Harry smiled bitterly. "Hermione, I don't have a broom."
Tom Riddle deprived him of almost everything; his freedom, his time, his friends, his wand. But fortunately, he came back. How regretful his wand had to stay in 1946 forever.
"I'll give you mine; I'll ride with Ron." Hermione determinedly decided.
As Hermione counted down quietly, Harry secretly charged up; breathing deeply to suppress all the chaos, pain and confusion in his mind, and adjusting to respond in his best state.
"Now!" Hermione yelled. She took something out of her pocket and threw it to the ground; almost instantly, a brown-yellow gas quickly spread around her, swallowing all the Death Eaters like an evil beast and affecting their vision.
Two broomsticks immediately flew into the sky like meteors, separating from the smoke, and quickly shot into the direction of Hogwarts.
The Death Eaters also seemed to realise, and all kinds of spells were cast into the air; Harry could even feel the scorching blasts of the spells flashing under his feet.
"Avada Kedavra!" A green curse shot towards him from behind; with an instinctual perception to danger, Harry struggled into a somersault, watching that fatal curse fail to hit him and gradually fizz out in the air.
"We'll meet again, my dear Saviour." The voice of a grown man echoed in the air, the magical voice deceptive and the murmured whispers as intimate as love words.
The Dark Lord played with the Elder Wand in his hands, his eyes blood-red and casual.
"Voldemort!" Ron was taken aback and mobilised all of his magic to speed up his broom.
Harry never looked back; he just focused on pushing forward.
"You will not abandon me?"
"I'll stay with you, for as long as you need me."
It's a pity you want nothing more than to kill me now.
Harry had no time to be sentimental, no time to mourn what he gave yet lost. Behind him were his comrades-in-arms, beside him were his friends who transcended life and death, he had no time to worry about Tom Riddle and Voldemort.
Elie Wiesel once said, 'the opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference; the opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference; the opposite of life is not death; it's indifference.'
'The opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference.'
The Saviour is back!
This news spread through Hogwarts within just a few hours; for those who'd always been fighting and resisting slavery, these few words couldn't help but stir their souls and cause them to swing their arms and cheer. Their arm muscles were exposed from swinging their arms too hard, and their necks bulged from their cheers.
And for those who were passing their days in a muddle, were content with the current status quo, or followed the darkness with an obsession, this news was like a virus that caused a large-scale flu; an unstoppable force.
"The Slytherins refused to cooperate, which was expected," George shrugged, watching Hermione apply medicine on Harry's wounds, "they clamoured for us to let them out."
"How funny!" Fred groaned out. "I can't help but wish for them to leave as soon as possible!"
"Harry…" Hermione wrapped gauze around Harry's forehead, frowning as she began with a pondering tone. "Those Slytherins… Are all descendants of Pureblood families. Most of them will become future Death Eaters. We can use them to threaten…"
Hermione lowered her head but met eyes filled with disapproval.
"Hermione, we're not Death Eaters because we've got morals. Once we compromise them, our advantage ceases to exist."
Hermione smiled bitterly, rubbing her temples helplessly. "Right. I just want to win."
Harry sat on the hospital bed in the medical wing, a warm orange light shining on him and making the young man's slim figure appear softer.
"We will win."
He said this, like a priest in a church uttering a prayer; it was sacred, firm and inviolable.
Win, triumph, survive… These things could no longer be categorised into choices or possibilities. His words of hope had long become a belief; just like a battle flag erected on horseback on an ancient battlefield, just raising it up could make one's soul tremble.
When night falls, pain would indeed stretch long.
But when the morning sun rises, we must dare to break through with hope.
Just like (1) Shelley's almost well-known poem once asked: 'If winter comes, can spring be far behind?'
(1) 'Shelley' refers to Percy Bysshe Shelley, a major English romantic poet, and the poem refers to 'Ode to the West Wind'.