Harry had expected the summer holidays to be boring and not all that different from previous years. He'd been right, for the most part, as when he arrived at the Dursley's he was immediately set to work on weeding the lawn and repainting the fence. His relatives acted like his escape the previous summer had never happened and Harry didn't know whether to be grateful or not about it.
A month into the summer, Harry had already worked his arm more than Madam Pomfrey had recommended that he do and his work list was only growing. Harry decided that he was done then and there. He was already having trouble absorbing the memories he had gained in the Chamber and he didn't need any help damaging himself further.
In hindsight, he really should have seen this coming. Or Gabriel should have seen this coming. Thinking about it made his head hurt. Either way, the advanced rate of his memories being shoved into his head was jumbled, having been kick started by the flash of his death as Gabriel that he had received in the Chamber. Three human lives had also been played out in his dreams since then and Harry was beginning to have trouble separating himself from whom he had been and who he was.
'Identity crisis taken to a whole new level,' Gabriel commented in his head and Harry started in surprise. Gabriel had been mostly silent since he (they?) had arrived back at the Dursley's. 'Really?' Gabriel asked in surprise. 'I don't remember being quiet...'
Oh great, his memories didn't remember. That made total sense. Harry shook his head, rubbing his temples at the sudden change in personality. 'Is this how its always going to be?' He asked, half horrified by the thought while the other half that had been a scientist in another life was intrigued. 'I don't think I can handle the split personality!'
'I don't know,' Gabriel sounded apologetic. 'Nothing like this has ever happened before and from what I can tell, we're already doing better than we could have been.'
Harry felt the urge to laugh hysterically. 'This is better?' He hoped the disbelief in his thoughts was apparent. 'I can barely tell who I am half the time! It's like every set of memories I've gained since the Chamber are at war with each other!'
'That would be the fault of the increase in Grace to our system that was caused by the Chamber,' Gabriel told him and Harry could almost hear the 'duh' that wasn't spoken...err...thought. 'I did tell you that our estimated time of complete reintegration had been pushed up! We're lucky that our Grace isn't eating us from the inside out or that we're not causing a near nuclear explosion and killing everyone around us.'
Harry was silent. When he put it that way... 'This is better,' he admitted, ignoring the curiosity that seemed to accompany all of his decisions lately. No, he did not want to know how this was happening! He wanted to know when it would end, dammit!
'I told you that too,' Gabriel reminded him, apparently now able to read all of his thoughts. 'From our current rate we should be one being again by the time we're...oh.'
'Oh?' Harry asked, not sure he wanted to know but knowing that he did.
'When we're seventeen.' Gabriel answered and Harry could hear the slight uncertainty in his counterparts thoughts. 'We've lost another year.'
'Oh great,' Harry groaned. 'Until then I guess I can get used to the idea of being more than even two people!' He paused. 'If you say it could be worse...' he trailed off in warning.
Gabriel aborted his sentence in favor of silence, which Harry wasn't sure if that was an improvement or not. Great, he thought to himself. I'm telling myself to shut up! His head gave another pained throb and Harry forced himself to remain quiet as he laid on his rather shabby bed, staring at the stained ceiling in Dudley's second bedroom.
'We need to get out of here,' Gabriel said after a few minutes. 'Being worked to death and aggravating our already bad injury isn't helping us any.'
'We'll make a break for it in the morning,' Harry conceded. 'I'll use the opportunity to get Vernon to sign my permission slip for Hogsmeade. He'll probably jump on the chance to get us gone before Aunt Marge gets here.'
Gabriel was silent and Harry took that to mean that he agreed with the plan. Reluctant to close his eyes, where he would most likely gain even more memories, Harry closed his eyes after he determined that not sleeping wouldn't help him any either.
He was asleep only minutes later.
Harry had been right, Vernon had jumped at the chance. The slip was signed without hesitation before shoved into Harry's hands along with strict orders to be gone before Vernon got back from work. Harry complied, packing up all of his things into his trunk, throwing on some clean robes, before trekking outside to the curb of the street.
It had turned out that Harry had been born in this particular universe more than the twice that he had known about. One of the influxes of memories had belonged to a woman version of himself who had died when she was thirty, after the defeat of Grindelwald but before the rise of Voldemort. It seemed that unlike what he had assumed, Harry wasn't getting the memories in any real order. That or he was being reincarnated all over the time stream of each universe.
'Twelve going on ninety,' Harry remarked absently in his head, Gabriel humming in agreement. Harry didn't feel like a child anymore, not like he had when he'd arrived at Hogwarts or even how he had felt just the year before. Grasping his wand in his hand, Harry held it up straight out.
He was rewarded with a band that signaled the arrival of the Knight Bus, although instead of being a dark purple color that Harry had associated with it, the bus was a red color that resembled the muggle buses that he had seen in London the few times he had been there. 'So it changes color in the daytime?' Gabriel wondered. Harry didn't have an answer, just shrugging in reply as the doors of the bus folded open.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus," a tall, rather skinny man greeted him, brown hair somewhat covering his eyes. "Fine Wizarding Transport since..." the man finally looked at Harry, his eyes bulging when he caught sight of Harry's scar. "Ern! Wake up, Ern! Harry Potter is standing next to the Knight Bus!"
'Great,' Harry sighed inwardly. 'Fans.'
"Names Stanley Shunpike!" The conductor told him, seemingly pleased at just being able to talk to him. "Where ya headed, Mr. Potter?"
"The Leaky Cauldron, please?" Harry asked, glad that the man had begun asking him all the questions he could about his scar, what he remembered, or worse, for his autograph. Lockhart the year before had been bad enough.
'Speaking of said annoying professor,' Gabriel interjected. 'I don't remember seeing him before the end of the year. Sure, exams were cancelled and all, but he still should have shown up for the leaving feast, shouldn't he have?'
Harry didn't remember seeing him there either but was distracted from his response as he caught his first sight of the Knight Bus's interior. Instead of the beds and blankets, the inside actually look like a normal bus. Harry had never used the bus during the daytime in his previous lives and hadn't known that it had different setting for each. Either way, the inside of the bus was decent looking and Harry sat down on the nearest booth seat while Stanley levitated his trunk into the bus.
"To the Leaky Cauldron, Ern!" Stan called out to the driver and Harry fought to hold onto his seat as the bus took off at breakneck speeds. Harry watched in interest as muggle vehicles seemed to swerve out of the way of the bus before righting themselves as soon as they were past them. From the lack of reaction any of the muggles they passed showed, Harry doubted that any of them could even see the bus.
Either way, they arrived at the Leaky Cauldron only minutes after Harry had gotten on the bus and the black haired wizard was impressed by how fast the had gotten there, though he wasn't sure why seeing as he had used the bus in other lives. 'Best not think too much on it,' Gabriel suggested and Harry accepted the advice, putting those thoughts into the back of his head to revisit later.
Stan helped Harry carry his trunk off the bus, happily accepting the money that Harry passed to him to pay for the ride. They waited for him to be inside the Leaky Cauldron before they took off, a loud bang their final goodbye.
"Hello there, Harry!" Tom called over to him and Harry was surprised to see very little people there. "What can I do for you?"
"Hello Tom," Harry smiled back, feeling more and more like himself already. "I was hoping to rent a room for the rest of the summer. My relatives are visiting my cousin's aunt; her and I don't get on that well so they were hoping I could stay here for the rest of break."
Something flashed in Tom's eyes and Harry knew that the barkeeper was displeased with Harry's mostly true story. "It would be my pleasure," Tom told him with a smile. The barkeeper turned around, fiddling with some keys before grabbing one. "The room is at the end of the hallway to the right," Tom told him as he handed Harry the key. "I'll be up in a little while to check on you. Feel free to unpack while you wait."
'Well,' Gabriel commented dryly as they moved to head to their new room. 'Next time you might want consider using less truth. I don't think Tom appreciated hearing that our relatives abandoned us for the rest of break.'
'Why should I lie?' Harry wondered as he unlocked the room and pulled his trunk with him inside. 'The Dursley's are horrible. They hate me, I hate them.'
'Lying about these things can come back to bite us,' Gabriel grudgingly agreed, still displeased. 'But if we end up with an even worse family, I'm blaming you.'
'I'm told blaming yourself gets you nowhere,' Harry retorted, silencing his counterpart due to his reply. Before now, Harry had been careful about what he said, even in the privacy of his own mind where only Gabriel could hear him.
'Huh,' Gabriel mused. 'Looks like those memories have done some good after all. It's about time that we come out of our shell.'
"If you say so," Harry mumbled out loud, pulling out only the essential clothing and his homework for now. He didn't want to chance having to pack everything up again if he wasn't able to stay as long as he hoped. He had just finished setting the books on the desk by the door when he heard someone knocking.
That was fast, Harry thought as he opened the door to see Tom with a handful of towels in his hands. "Thought you might need these," Tom told him as he handed over the towels. "This is one of our long term rooms; we don't get many long term tenants so I wasn't sure if it was stocked."
"Thanks, Tom." Harry grinned at the man and moved to place the stack on the dresser, the barkeeper stepping into the room as he did so.
"If you need anything, feel free to ask," Tom told him, looking around the room as if to inspect it. "Your bill won't be given until you leave and meals are included into the price of the room, so feel free to eat in the diner when you're hungry."
Harry nodded at the man, thanking him again as the barkeeper left, closing the door behind him. Flopping down on the bed in the room, Harry stared at the ceiling, his thoughts turning to last summer, before he had met Gabriel. He'd been so different then and Harry could scarcely believe that less than a year had changed him so much.
'It might be less than a year time wise,' Gabriel began. 'But with your memories that you've regained in that time period, more than two hundred years have passed since then. The fact that you're still mostly the same person says a lot about who our reincarnations were.'
'But I'm still not the same person. If Dobby was to show up now with the same warning, I would probably interrogate him instead of letting him talk,' Harry pointed out.
'Suspicion is good,' Gabriel countered. 'Suspicion is what is going to keep us alive. Voldemort has somehow split his soul and I doubt he only did it the one time. I also doubt that he's going to leave us alone anytime soon and we're vulnerable as we are right now. He could take us out easily.'
'What do you want us to do?' Harry snapped back. 'If you haven't noticed, we aren't even thirteen yet! Our body is too young to learn some of the magic that our memories have and I really don't think that we'll be able to pull anything big using Grace, seeing as it almost killed us quicker that the Basilisk venom would have!'
'Then we need to brush up on our other skills,' Gabriel told him evenly. 'We have the knowledge on how to wield a sword and we have more than a few other weapon skills in our memories. We lack the muscle memory and the training to use it properly but that's all we lack.'
'Somehow I don't think we're going to be able to carry around a sword unnoticed.' Harry rubbed his temples, his head throbbing.
'We don't need to carry around a sword,' Gabriel said, his voice mischievous in nature. 'That influx of Grace may have nearly killed us but it also gave us an advantage; we now have enough Grace in our system to access our sword.'
A flash of metal hitting metal, different from any metal that Harry had ever seen appeared in his head. It didn't look like any sword he had ever seen before, resembling an icepick more than traditional swords with its handle carved with runes that Harry felt he should knew yet he couldn't comprehend them. 'Yes,' Gabriel sounded pleased. 'That sword. Focus on it and call it to you. It should come.'
Harry closed his eyes, pausing the image in his minds eye as he tried to call the sword into his hand. He focused on the feeling of carved metal in his palm and the tingle of lightning as he swung it. He could feel a static in the air that wasn't there before and kept the image in his mind, willing the sword, his sword to answer him.
Harry fought back a scream as his back ripped open at the same time metal appeared in his hand. There was no blood and his skin remained unblemished as he reached his hand up to grab as the skin of his back in shock. The fabric wasn't even disturbed above his hand and yet at his shoulder blades, Harry could feel two new appendages that hadn't been there before.
Whipping around with his eyes now wide open, Harry stared into the mirror, eyes focused on the two large, looming wings that were spread behind him. Green and gold feathers decorated the appendages and Harry could have sworn that they were glowing a faint white light that was eerily reminiscent of the part of his mind where Gabriel resided. 'I did not expect that to happen,' Gabriel commented, his voice suddenly louder than Harry had ever heard it before. 'I guess Cassie did still have his wings when he was depowered and swinging around that sword...'
'We have wings,' Harry said as he reached out in what looked to be an attempt to touch the mirror. 'Why...how...'
'Like I've said before,' Gabriel interrupted before Harry could have a complete breakdown. 'Perks of being what we are.'
Harry had never asked, had never even thought to ask, and felt stupid for not asking before now. 'What are we?'
Gabriel was silent and Harry could practically feel his counterpart considering whether or not to tell him. It was also becoming apparent that Gabriel was deliberately hiding that information from him and Harry couldn't even begin to guess why. 'Are you sure that you want to know?' Gabriel finally asked, sounding unsure of himself with a hint of fear in his voice. 'Do you honestly want to know what we are? Could you even accept what we are?'
Harry was the one that fell silent this time. Did he want to know? Could he accept it, whatever they were? He didn't know yet he also knew that if he wasn't ready now, when he was split between being multiple people, he would never be ready and he for one didn't want to stay in this state of half-being. 'If I'm not then I never will be,' Harry told him confidently.
'We are Gabriel,' his memories given consciousness said, his voice ringing out in their head. 'We are the Messenger, he who stands in the presence of God and takes the Word of God unto the world. We are old, older than the universes in which we have lived, older than the oldest of the seraphs. We are one of the Pillars of Heaven. We are Gabriel, Archangel of God's army!'
The room was filled with static and Harry gasped as his newly grown wings spread out intimidatingly, as if in response to a threat that he could not see. Harry's mind was rapidly turning, taking in everything that Gabriel...that he had told himself. The sword in his hand grew warm under his touch and Harry watched as his eyes glowed a bright white in the mirror. Harry opened his mouth to speak. "We are Gabriel," he tested the words out and his eyes dimmed back to their emerald green color, his wings lowering themselves and the warmth of his sword disappearing as he looked at his reflection.
'Good,' Gabriel, or his memories of being Gabriel, said in his mind. Harry could have sworn that the Archangel (holy shit, he was an angel) sounded relieved. 'If you had reacted badly then it was possible that we could have self destructed right here.'
Harry paused, his eyes growing impossibly wide. "Self-destructed?!" he hissed, just barely able to keep from squeaking. 'If that was a possibility then why did you tell me?!' He demanded.
'Like you said,' Gabriel said and Harry could almost see the smug grin. 'If you couldn't accept it now than it was likely that you'd never be able to. Best to just get it over with.'
Harry thought it over, mulling over the truthfulness in those words. "So," he said out loud, raising the sword in his hands to eye level. "How do I use this?"
Gabriel laughed in his head and Harry got a strange sense of foreboding. I'm going to regret asking that, he thought to himself as Gabriel's laughter turned into mad cackling.
It turned out that learning how to reuse a sword was harder than Harry had thought it would be. He didn't know if it was because he was still growing or that his newly regrown pair of wings were throwing off his balance, but Harry ended up on the floor face first more often than not. His reflexes were decent for his age and his senses were better than anyone else in the Wizarding World but his sense of balance was shot to hell.
Learning to use his sword wasn't the only thing Harry had to do either. With Gabriel's instructions, Harry was slowly learning how to move his wings without getting distracted due to their presence on his back. It was a slow work in progress and Harry was getting increasingly frustrated which showed as his feather ruffled in irritation, causing him even further distraction due to the odd feeling that he was not yet used to.
The emergence of his wings and his manifestation of his sword had one good outcome: he was no longer having an influx of memories every night. In fact, he had yet to regain any new memories, the ones he had already regained playing in his dreams instead, seemingly trying to merge with his other memories better than they had before.
'That's because our Grace was overflowing and trying to force the merge faster than we were able to handle,' Gabriel explained during one of their wing practice sessions. 'Now that Grace as an outlet in the form of our wings. Think of it like a faucet sink that's been plugged up. The water has nowhere else to go so it tips over the side but when you unplug the sink, it easily drains out. You were the sink and our Grace was the water with our wings acting like the drain.'
Harry had a feeling that Gabriel's explanation wasn't the best one out there. He didn't pay it much mind, though, as it had managed to get the point across and Harry felt more than a bit of relief that they weren't at too much risk of burning out anymore. They were still ahead of schedule and Harry could look forward to remembering everything when he turned seventeen, yet they weren't in danger of killing everyone around them at any given moment anymore. Ahead of schedule but not dangerously so.
The summer days passed quickly now that Harry had something to occupy his time with. His birthday was announced with the arrival of gifts from his friends. Ron and his family had gotten to go to Egypt to visit Bill after their father had won the lottery and his redheaded friend had also gotten a new wand. He sent Harry a sneak-o-scope. Hermione had sent him a broom care kit that had him smiling and putting in his trunk next to his Quidditch stuff. The Twins had sent him, incredibly, a knife along with a book on how to use it. It seemed that they didn't like that fact that he had been defenseless without his wand in the chamber.
He got a cake from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley that came with a letter that wished him well. Ginny had sent him what looked like a hand-carved Basilisk, which he put with the hand-carved flute and the scene of Hope and her foals immediately. He bemoaned the fact that he had nowhere to display them but promised that he would find the perfect place as soon as he no longer lived with the Dursley's. Hagrid had sent up stack of photos that featured Hope and him, the foals, and him playing with the foals. Harry nearly smacked his head as he remembered that he had gotten his own camera for Christmas the year before, along with a photo album to put them in. Digging through his trunk, he pulled out the book and placed each of the photo's in a slot as carefully as he could.
Hagrid had also sent him a book with a note attached. Harry blinked as the book, snarled and snapped at him when he touched it before jumped out of his hands and running across the floor. Harry quickly grabbed the note, which had fallen to the floor, and read it over. Thought you might need this. Stroke the spine to calm it down. -Hagrid. Harry dropped the note on the bed and got down on both knees. "Come on little guy," he cooed to the book, ignoring the feeling of ridiculousness as he did so. "I'm not going to hurt you."
The book shuffled forward as the pixies, who had been living in Harry's trunk since they had escaped from Lockhart the year before, landed on the floor next to him. Harry had wondered if they were still in there, the two having been so quiet and well behaved since they had first met him. "That's it," Harry encouraged the book, the two pixies chirping their own encouragements until The Monster Book of Monsters was sitting nicely in front of the thirteen year old wizard. Harry reached his hand down, grinning as the book let him touch it. Stroking the book's spine in reward, Harry laughed as it purred.
"I guess I know who the Care of Magical Creatures professor is," Harry commented as he made a small bed out of towels for the book on the floor. Hedwig flew down to the floor to study the book curiously, hooting in acceptance as the book didn't try to eat her. Luckily, none of his other presents were sentient and the rest of the day was spent trimming his broom and eating cake.
His birthday was the only interlude in his sword and wing practice. Gabriel was determined to get their muscle memory back as soon as the could and Harry had to agree with him. Out of the two years that he had spent in Hogwarts. Harry had nearly died twice. Now he had an advantage that most people couldn't even see and he doubted that Voldemort or whoever else decided to attack him, would expect him to pull out a sword from nowhere.
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the summer was nearly over and the Weasley's were visiting him in the Leaky Cauldron as they waited for Hermione so that they could go shopping together. Harry congratulated Percy for making Head Boy, the seventh year blushing as Harry complimented him. After all, he had gone with Hermione to try and tell the professor's about her discovery even knowing that there was a Basilisk on the loose in the castle. If that didn't scream dedication, nothing did.
The shopping was more interesting that Harry could have hoped for. Hermione bought a new cat named Crookshanks, who seemed to be able to see Harry's wings as the cat batted at them whenever he was within reach. Harry was just happy that the cat didn't seem to be able to touch them as his paw went through the area where they should be every time. 'They aren't part of the physical world,' Gabriel told him when Harry asked. ' Certain people can see them and other angels can touch them but other than that, for all intents and purposes they aren't even there.'
'Wow,' Harry said, glancing at the wings in the reflection of a shop window. Ron was complaining about Hermione's new cat as he kept his rat, Scabbers, away from intelligent seeking eyes. Harry had to wonder if attacking rats was a cat thing as Crookshanks hadn't seemed bothered by any of the other mice in the pet store.
He was distracted from those thoughts as they entered the bookstore and Harry had to comfort a nearly sobbing shopkeeper as he sobbed, apparently having been mauled by most of The Monster Book of Monsters that had come in for the new year. The shopkeeper seemed to sob all that harder when Harry offered to teach the man how to handle the books.
Several minutes later and Harry was surrounded by purring books and teaching the shopkeeper (Harry felt rather bad for the already mauled man) how to stroke their spines in a way that would make the books putty in his hands. The discount on all of their school books that earned them was a surprisingly generous amount and Ron was pleased to find out that he actually had leftover money when they finally completed their shopping.
They headed to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor last, each of them ordering a different flavor of ice cream. Harry order their death by chocolate after the urging of Gabriel and was more than pleased with the ice cream as they ate in happy silence.
"Excuse me," the voice of a young girl broke the silence and Harry turned to look at a blond girl with radish earrings. "Did you know that there are pixies in your robe?"
Ron and Hermione stared, craning their necks to see two pleased pixies munching on bits of ice cream cone that Harry had broken off for them. "I'd forgotten about them," Ron marveled as he looked at the blue pixies. Harry didn't blame them, the two having been as well behaved as they were.
"I did tell them they could stay as long as they behaved," Harry reminded him. Ron shrugged in response, going back to his ice cream. It seemed that the pixies didn't bother him as much as they used to. Harry fought back laughter as Tinker and Havoc began playing what looked like a game of tag around his shoulders, looking more than comfortable being the middle of the Diagon Alley shopping crowd.
"That's very kind of you," the girl said dreamily. "Letting them stay."
Harry was the one who shrugged now. "They're cute," he told her, echoing Gabriel's words from the year before. The pixies chirped in pleasure from his pocket, pleased at the compliment.
"It was nice to meet you, Harry Potter." The girl told him, her expression still as dreamy as it had been when she had first appeared. "Your wings are very pretty."
Harry froze and he felt Gabriel jerk to attention in the back of their mind. 'Well I'll be,' Gabriel mused as they watched the girl walk away. 'I didn't expect to run into one of those here.'
'Those?' Harry asked as Ron and Hermione began arguing about Scabbers and Crookshanks again.
'A human that's gifted with the Sight.' Gabriel told him. 'Not a prophet but still able to see things that most other people can't. It's rare, though.'
"Who was she?" Harry asked aloud, catching his two friend's attentions.
"Her?" Ron asked, finishing up his ice cream. "Her name's Luna Lovegood. She doesn't live too far from the Burrow and her dad run the Quibbler. Most just call her Looney, though."
That was rather cruel, Harry thought angrily as he watched the girl walk into the bookshop with the laughter of some older students following her. 'I hate people like that,' Harry growled silently, not liking how Luna was being treated at all.
'You and me both,' Gabriel said.
Thoughts of Luna disappeared from his mind as he overhead Mr. and Mrs. Weasley talking later that night and learned about Sirius Black, the man who was said to be Voldemort's right hand man and had broken out of Azkaban, the most secure Wizarding Prison in the world. The only one to ever break out and they thought he was coming after Harry.
'Great,' Gabriel grumbled as they arrived securely in their room 'I'm beginning to see a theme here and I don't like it.'
Harry couldn't agree more.