"The deathly hallows of a man's mind are a dark and dangerous place; a place which one can be easily lost if they walk the line between light and dark too carelessly. It's easy to fall in, to lose yourself. You may think you've not strayed too deeply into that gaping maw of death and despair until you look back up from the abyss and can no longer see the light. And then… then it is too late. You will be truly gone."
I should have listened, I suppose. But I was stubborn then, and definitely had no interest in taking advice from him of all people. I should have. He would, of course, know what it's like to be lost… to have fallen. But I was young, naive, headstrong… even delusional, you could say. And I don't mean mad; although, I could be mad now. No, I mean delusional in my way of thinking that being The Boy Who Lived didn't change who I was. That I could still drop out of school, read books and learn spells I would never have looked twice at if it wasn't for the war, and become the… man?... thing?... I needed to be to defeat Voldemort, and still be Harry. Just Harry. It was a delusion to think my destiny wouldn't change me. I mean, I had to change. I couldn't be the person I was at Hogwarts and still destroy the Horcruxes and kill Voldemort. That Harry wouldn't have lasted a week. I still tried to hold on to him, though. I had to hold on to that part of me - to remember what it was to be normal.
I should have listened to him.
The deathly hallows of a man's mind are a dark and dangerous place.
I remember snorting at him when he said that. "It's hollows," I had corrected him.
He had glared at me, as he always did, his black eyes glittering. "I beg your pardon?"
I had proceeded, in my arrogance, to sigh and explain: "I think you mean deathly hollows. Hallows isn't-"
He had snapped at me then, something about not giving him a grammar lesson, and that he knew exactly what he was talking about.
"I suggest you buy a dictionary, Potter."
Hal — low (vt): 1) to make somebody or something holy; 2) to have great respect or reverence for somebody or something
And then, to humor him, I looked up "deathly".
Death — ly (adj): resembling death or somebody who is dead
(adv): extremely or intensely
I was convinced more than ever that he had misspoke and just didn't want to admit it. Deathly hallows made absolutely no sense.
I should have listened.
… a place which one can be easily lost if they walk the line between light and dark too carelessly.
And that was exactly what I had started doing. I think, in his way, he was trying to warn me in the only way that he knew how - by lecture and intimidation. I never much cared for either.
It started out innocently enough. I got some books from Knockturn Alley, figuring that any kind of spellwork that Voldemort would have set up to protect the shards of his soul would be some form of Dark magic. I practiced slicing hexes and other such things that I probably never would have attempted to learn until I got into Auror training. I told myself it was for self-defense. I told myself that even as I tried to use Sectumsempra on Snape when we finally found him. He was just standing there, not fighting. And I sent it at him anyway. I wanted him to hurt, to bleed, and to die. He blocked it of course. I don't remember what happened after that. According to Ron, I totally lost it. The next thing I knew, I was in my bed at Grimmauld Place. Hermione and Ron were there, and they looked worried.
I brushed it off as a fit of temper and blamed it on my hatred for him. I decided it was his fault. I went back to my reading, shutting myself up in my room, practicing spells while the Order interrogated our new prisoner in the boiler room. They wouldn't let me go near him at first, and I thought they were over exaggerating the situation.
Then he told us to get the Pensieve and talk to Dumbledore's portrait. The idea was ridiculous. The proof, however, was not. We used both to clear his name at the Ministry. He told me he had his orders to help me destroy the Horcruxes. The idea sickened me. I didn't need his help. I needed him to burn in hell.
"Out of the two of us, Mr. Potter, which one has the extensive knowledge of the Dark Arts? Which one of us used to be consumed by them?" he asked me, sneering.
I had to stop myself from trying to hex him again. Dumbledore's portrait was the only thing that convinced me. Although, deep down, I knew he was right. I couldn't do this alone. He knew more than I did. So, with the both of us now on the run from Voldemort and Death Eaters, we began our search. And I began my new lessons.
He was hesitant, and not because he hated my guts and had no desire to teach me anything. I could tell he was actually worried about something. I had gotten loads better at non-verbal spells. I had memorized almost everything that I could out of the books that I had bought from Knockturn Alley. I could aim a slicing hex or fire whip curse with deadly precision. I thought nothing of it. It was something that I had to do to survive. We had found Hufflepuff's cup in the orphanage that Voldemort had grown up in as a child and destroyed it. I could feel myself getting more and more powerful. It didn't frighten me, but it was becoming apparent that it was starting to frighten him. And then, right before we left to find Ravenclaw's relic, he gave me that speech. And I didn't listen.
It's easy to fall in, to lose yourself.
It was so easy. It had already started, and I hadn't even noticed. I forgot about simple spells like Stupify and Incarcerous that would have protected me just as well as the others I had learned. He never warned me again. I guess he expected me to see the signs; be grown up enough to realize what I was doing. I realized too late. And at first, I thought the new powers I was accumulating from my extensive use of questionable magic were a blessing. The first to change were my eyes.
We had found out, by a series of trial and error, that Voldemort had indeed not found anything of Gryffindor's. We were at Hogwarts – Filch was leading us back out to the Entrance Hall — when I felt something. It was really quite by accident that we found the fifth Horcrux. Whatever power was emanating from it… it called to me. Pulled me. I followed it into the trophy room and to Riddle's shield. Before my new mentor could shout out to me to come to my senses, I had touched it, and found myself somewhere else entirely, although my body never left Hogwarts grounds.
And there I came face to face with what I was becoming. I didn't know it then. I thought it was some trick of Voldemort's curse, trying to frighten me into stopping my quest.
Its skin was pallid looking, and so dry that it looked to be literally cracking in places. It had no scar on its forehead, but a huge, gaping one on its cheek as though the flesh was decaying while the body was still alive. But what disturbed me most was its eyes. They were still green, but looked… shattered. There were great, cragged streaks of black in them. And it wore no glasses.
"You'll become what you hate. You'll become me. Turn back," it warned.
I destroyed the shield anyway. I came to and realized that I couldn't see. Not blindness; my eyesight was fuzzy, like when I first wake up and have to put my glasses on. Only, my glasses were already on. I took them off and… I could see. I could see. I could see the magic in everything and everyone, like strands in a spider web. I could see the colors of other people… auras, some call them. I could tell when they were happy, angry, worried, sad.
I convinced myself that the thing I had seen in my mind was indeed a trick. Voldemort didn't want me to have this power. Because my eyes had indeed changed, just like in the apparition. My eyes were still green, but shattered, with great, cragged streaks of black. The thing had lied, I decided. I wasn't straying too far. I was Harry Potter, the Chosen One. I would never fall to the Dark Arts.
You may think you've not strayed too deeply into that gaping maw of death and despair until you look back up from the abyss and can no longer see the light.
I was unstoppable after that. I knew no fear. I found the real locket and destroyed the Horcrux within it as well. I massacred Nagini, and with her death the last Horcrux was destroyed. There was something in her skin, though… some part of the curse that Voldemort had placed on her. Because my skin started changing a few hours later. It was dry… scaly even. It cracked and bled in places.
All that was left was Voldemort himself. I gathered an army. I had Buckbeak — for due to my new powers, I could communicate with him through magic — gather the Hippogriffs to fight on our side. I ordered the Thestrals to do so as well. The battle took place in the Department of Mysteries. Voldemort had tried to take over the Ministry. The battle moved from room to room, until finally it ended in the Death Chamber. And, for the first time in a long time, I used a Light spell, because I knew it was the only way to defeat him. I tried to think of my parents, but I realized that I could no longer remember what they looked like. I thought of Sirius and Dumbledore, but they were gone as well. Instead, I thought of Ron and Hermione, all the people that were fighting alongside me, of Ginny, and how safe and happy they would all be once he was gone. My Patronus leapt from my wand and charged Voldemort down as Snape — my new mentor, the one who had tried to warn me — opened the Locked Door and let the Power the Dark Lord Knows Not fill the Department of Mysteries. That Power ripped through Voldemort, left him a broken mass of nothing, and when my stag finally reached him and threw him into the veil, he did nothing to stop it.
And it was over. Lucius Malfoy had tried to stop Snape, and had injured him mortally. He survived long enough to open the door — to this day no one knows how he had done it — and then he was gone.
The Power had done something to me, too. The magic I had been using had altered me so that my body rejected the Power that came out of that room. It burned me in places, one being my face. But it removed the lightning bolt shaped scar; the only thing left of who I used to be. I caught my reflection on the way out during the celebration that followed. I saw the thing from my vision staring back at me. The truth of it all didn't hit me till later, when I realized that Ron and Hermione's faces had also started fading from my mind. I woke up every morning next to Ginny and had to remind myself who she was. For she had indeed waited for me. And she would never leave me. She still thought that she could save me.
I realized that the deathly hallows weren't what I thought Snape was talking about. I, in my arrogance and stupidity, thought he was trying to be some sort of poet and spout metaphor at me, about the hollow parts of people's minds. I realize now that the deathly hallows were the powers. The powers that each person holds deep within their consciousness. The ones that aren't awake. The ones you have to stir within yourself to make them come out. The one's you can control, if you know how. I didn't know how. And they consumed me. They have no origin. They were created when man was created, because it is in mankind that they are found. They helped me defeat Voldemort; there is no doubt of that. But they cost me so much more.
It wasn't any curse that changed me. I have since learned that my power was so great that I became immune to them. It was the powers themselves; the powers that I had used to destroy the Horcruxes and my enemies. The deathly hallows. They were what made me what I am now. It was me. All me.
And then… then it is too late. You will be truly gone.
I am no longer Harry Potter. I am the deathly hallows of my mind. I fell farther than Snape… maybe even farther than Voldemort. But I had known love, and had felt love, and that is why I was able to stop it eventually. It wouldn't do for the savior of the Wizarding world to become a dark wizard himself. I hurt many people in the process, most of all myself. And it is because of this that I now stand before the veil and Voldemort's final resting place. Soon to be mine as well. I've already taken so many steps toward darkness.
What's one more?