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A/N: Hi again, everyone! Thanks again to all you faithful readers and reviewers! To answer a few questions I’ve gotten about this story/series: the conclusion of The Seer & The Condemned will in fact be the conclusion of both the story and the series (ie, I will not be writing a sequel to this story). As much as I’d like to and as much as I love these characters and what I’ve developed here, I think it’s time to bring this series to its conclusion. Thank you again, though, to everyone who has stuck with it this far and this long! As weird as it may sound, I was rereading The Seer the other day (double checking my foreshadowing I tried to include all those years ago), and I noticed so many grammatical errors that are killing me. So when I wrap up this story, I think will do some edits of both The Seer and this story to knock out those errors—so if you happen to notice The Seer or this story popping back up into your updated section and are wondering if there was a new chapter or if anything was changed, that will be why.

My next project, though, I think will be revamping a one-shot I have published here as well as a WIP I haven’t touched in a while. I’m hoping to rework its plot and revive it, but in case my muse doesn’t work out with these, I’m not going to name drop which ones. ;) If you’re curious, though, just keep an eye on my author’s page. ;)

On a separate note, I’ve also paired a scene in this chapter with music. If you’d like to listen while you read along, the song for this chapter is “We are All to Blame” by Rupert Gregson-Williams from Wonder Woman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Again, if you feel like listening, the moment to start playing the song is cued in the chapter.

Enjoy!




Previously:


“Avada Kedavra!”

The blast of green light left the tip of Parker’s wand and engulfed James whole. He collapsed to the ground, his eyes closed in peace and his body empty of life.

James awoke from what felt like a peaceful sleep. He blinked to find himself staring up a clear blue sky. He could feel plush grass beneath him, tickling his skin and evading his senses. He smiled up at the sky as the sun warmed his skin and the wind rushed by him.

Slowly, he sat up and looked around. He knew those towers surrounding the ring in which he sat—tall towers of gold and crimson, of blue and white, of yellow and black, and of green and silver. He knew where he was.

He found himself sitting in the middle of the Quidditch pitch at Hogwarts.

And standing in the middle of the pitch, with a broom lying on either side of him, was Albus.




“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
—Victor Hugo



James paled. That peaceful feeling he had awoken with suddenly fell away and was replaced with pure shock and—strangely—pure joy. He scrambled to his feet, nearly falling over in the process. When he had his footing, though, he found that he couldn’t move. He grew still and his muscles tensed as his eyes fell on his brother.

“A–A–Albus…?” he choked out.

He couldn’t be real, could he? This was only a figment of James’ imagination, right? He had to be imaging it. Al was dead, so how could this be?

James took an uneasy step forward. “Is that really you, Al…?”

From the center of the pitch, Albus broke out into a grin. “Hey, Jamie.”

He looked like himself—like he had before he had been mortally wounded, that is. He looked healthy. Happy even. Happier than he had in years. Before he had died, Albus had only been a shadow of what he once was. Since that fateful year that changed their lives, Albus seemed to have lost more and more of himself, piece by piece. Now he was whole again.

“Albus…” breathed James again in a whisper of astonishment. With every mention of his brother’s name, it felt more and more surreal—as if he weren’t really there—yet he grew happier each time he said it.

“It’s me, Jamie,” Al spoke again in a light and airy voice, reassuring his brother that he was truly there. “It’s really me.”

“Al,” choked James one more time as tears suddenly filled his eyes.

He bit down on his lip to hold back his cries and willed himself to move again. He ran forward to his brother at full speed. Albus opened up his arms as James reached him. Then James pitched himself into his brother’s arms.

They engulfed each other whole, arms grasping the other tightly and faces buried into the other’s neck.

James’ sobs escaped him as he realized that he was truly hugging his brother. He had almost half expected to feel nothing when he reached him, to see his arms go through Al’s body as if he were a ghost. But that wasn’t what happened at all. He was able to hold and hug him just as he would if he were alive.

He trembled in his brother’s embrace, growing more and more bewildered and verklempt with each passing second as he studied his brother’s form. His hands squeezed Al’s back to make sure he wasn’t imagining it all. He could feel him beneath his palms, feel the bone of his shoulders and the muscle along the length of his back. He body was real and firm. Warm even.

He was truly there. He was real.

James cried harder, burying himself into his brother and letting his tears graze Al’s neck.

Albus clung to him and rubbed his back reassuringly. “Hey,” he soothed. “It’s okay. I’m right here. I promise. I’m right here.”

“I c–can’t believe it,” stuttered James.

He pulled back from his brother—but just far enough to look at him as he spoke, to see his blue eyes as further reassurance that he was truly there. He kept his hands firmly planted on Al’s shoulders, though; he knew he had to cherish every moment and cling to his brother for as long as possible.

Al was beaming; every part of him was truly happy. James could see it in his every fiber. He was more than just happy, though. He had a different aura about him. He seemed wiser, more mature. He was no longer emotionally vulnerable.

James looked around the pitch to appraise the situation. The Hogwarts Quidditch pitch. He hadn’t been back there in years. He hadn’t been back to Hogwarts since he graduated, much less the Quidditch pitch, which he hadn’t been to since the night after the Quidditch Cup. Gryffindor had managed to pull off a win in a ridiculously close game against Hufflepuff, and that night, the Gryffindor team and their close friends had snuck out to the Quidditch pitch after hours and celebrated properly smack in the middle of the pitch. Al had been there; they had already suffered through the day at Azkaban and defeated Elias Namken, and although Al had already become a permanently changed person, he had still joined in the celebrations and laughed and had a good time with them until the early hours of the morning.

But that was nearly four years ago.

That didn’t explain why he was here, why Al was here, or what here technically was. So he focused back on the matter at hand.

Then it hit him.

He remembered fire. And Parker. He remembered Parker holding Harry captive, and he remembered convincing Parker to kill James first in the hopes that he would destroy the horcrux residing inside him and that it would give Harry and Norah the opportunity they needed to get the upperhand on Parker.

“Parker,” he muttered the one name that answered all. “I let him kill me.”

He was suddenly overcome with a feeling of déjà vu. He felt as if he were back along the shores of Azkaban after he had awoken with Harry, Albus, and Norah sitting around him. He remembered waking up and truly believing he was dead until he realized that wasn’t the case.

Only now he truly was dead.

He let out a heavy exhale. “So I’m dead…Aren’t I?”

“In a way,” Albus replied enigmatically. “But not completely.”

“Not completely?” James countered. “But then…? And h–how? How are you here?”

“It’s difficult to explain,” interjected Albus.

He suddenly remembered the prophecy about Al’s fate he had given months ago. He shall return to you when you reach your darkest hour. He muttered to himself, looking down to his feet. “My darkest hour…”

Hearing him, Al nodded. He squeezed his shoulders again. “You’ve been through so much,” breathed Al in admiration. “So much these past few months. And I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you.”

“Shut it,” James cut in immediately. He wouldn’t allow Al to apologize for his death. His eyes swam with tears again as he was overcome with guilt for his brother’s death. “Don’t you dare apologize. Don’t apologize for any of this. None of this is your fault. If anything, it’s mine. I should have walked you home that night o–or found a way to save you.”

“Stop,” said Al harshly, and he wrapped James into his arms for another hug. “Don’t blame yourself. You prophecized it yourself; there was nothing you—or anyone else—could have done. This was my fate, and I’ve accepted that. This was no one’s fault. No one’s but Parker’s.”

At the mention of his name again, James retracted from Albus. He sniffed and wiped his tears from his cheeks as he remembered the matter at hand. “So if I’m not completely dead, then does that mean…?”

Albus smiled a true and triumphant smile then. “Yes. It means it worked. That piece of Parker’s soul that was inside you—it’s gone now. For good.”

James released a soothing breath of air, and with Al’s words, he felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He felt lighter, if only in spirit.

“I still don’t understand how this all happened in the first place,” queried James. “How I became the horcrux. How I even survived Azkaban to begin with.”

“How do you still not know?” asked Al in a mere whisper with a reverent smile. It was more so a rhetorical question, but one that still left James stumped, as he had never quite been able to put the two together. When James furrowed his brow and rolled his shoulders, Al continued. “James, that day at Azkaban, you gave your life for me. When Elias revoked my immunity and told Parker to kill me, you pushed me out of the way. When the rocks came down, you used your body as a shield to protect me. Not only did you save me, but you were intending to die for me. In doing so, you created an immunity yourself.”

James listened to his brother carefully, clinging to his every word.

He would always remember that day vividly. As if it were yesterday. As much as he would like to forget.

Never give up on family, James. Since that day, the words had etched themselves into his memory. They had coursed through his veins like a chant when he had bolted forward atop the crumbling Azkaban and shoved Albus out of the way of Parker’s Killing Curse and again when James had used his body as a shield to protect Al from Azkaban.

“Then he hurt you. And he hurt Norah.”

The memory flashed before James’ eyes—Parker stepping down forcefully on James’ broken leg, Parker throwing Norah against the walls of Azkaban then dragging her along the ground and holding her down by standing on her wrists.

“Then you both cast the Killing Curse on each other. Parker’s Killing Curse missed you and hit Azkaban, but your curse did hit Parker. But before it did, a piece of Parker’s soul left him and clung to the nearest living thing. To you.”

James shook his head. “H–How? I don’t understand.”

“Well, I don’t have all the answers, but from what I’ve gathered, Parker’s soul was already split that day at Azkaban. He killed someone else…before he killed me. The summer before this all started, he drowned an Auror. When he committed his first murder, he severed his soul the first time. His mother had secretly performed the necessary acts for him to create a horcrux. His parents wanted to make him immortal, but Azkaban happened before they had a chance to tell him or actually create the horcrux. So that torn part of his soul was just sitting inside him, waiting for a host, and when your curse came at him, it must have sensed the danger and, out of sheer instinct and will to survive, fled from Parker’s body and latched on to you. So when your curst hit Parker, a part of him already resided in you, and, therefore, he couldn’t die. And neither could you—in a way, under the right circumstances. You had already scarified yourself for me twice, and then Elias used the Imperius Curse on me once more to force me to kill you. And you let me do it. You trusted me enough and believed in me, had faith in me, that I would break the curse. You never gave up on me, on us. That is why I couldn’t kill you. That is why you survived.”

James blinked in shock, nearly at loss for words. He looked around the pitch expectantly, as if he would find a chair nearby, for he needed to sit after receiving such information. “B–But I don’t…I still…This is…Holy shit.”

“I know,” smiled Albus. “I didn’t really understand it either at first. Everyone has always said nothing is more powerful than a mother’s love; that’s how Dad survived—because of his mother’s sacrifice for him. But Jamie, you did the same thing for me. And maybe that’s what this is really about—our bond, our love for each other. You’re my brother, and maybe that magic is just as powerful. Or, Jamie, maybe we don’t have to understand it. All we need to understand now is that you lived, the horcrux that was in you has been destroyed, and you have a choice to go back.”

“And I’m here with you,” breathed James again with a gladdened smile.

“I’m here,” encouraged Al. “With you.”

The two brothers smiled at each other and let the silence—and simply the other’s presence—sink in between them.

Then Albus smiled and cheered, bending over to pick up the brooms still lying on either side of him. He tossed one of the brooms to James without hesitation. “Now, how about one last game of Quidditch? Just like old times.”

James flashed a boyish grin at him hopped onto the broom, kicking off from the ground and soaring into the sky without a moment to lose. Albus pulled a snitch out of his pocket and tossed it into the air. The gold ball took flight and whizzed off as he climbed onto his broom and took to the skies as well.

Together, the brothers chased after the snitch, nudged each other playfully with their shoulders when they would cut the other off, and laughed jovially as they teased one another. They had always been competitive in their recreational games of Quidditch, but this time was different. They were in no rush to catch the snitch and instead focused on enjoying their time together and flying together just like they would in the summers.

But the game had to end sometime, and Albus was even reluctant when his hand closed over the snitch. Always competitive and often a rather sore loser, James even smiled when Al caught the snitch and won the game, not bitter in the least. In fact, he was reminded of their game on the day of James’ very first seizure. James had lost to Albus then too, only he hadn’t taken the loss in stride then, and after James had complained about his loss, Al had tossed him the snitch and promised to let him win next time.

They landed in the middle of the pitch after the game, and Al tossed him the dormant snitch as if he had been thinking the same thing as James—remembering the same game and how it had ended.

James wrapped his hand around it and clutched it tightly, his cheeks hurting from his smile.

Albus smiled to him sadly then, and James sensed the change in demeanor, his shoulders falling in disappointment.


*BEGIN “We Are All to Blame” by Rupert-Gregson Williams*
From Wonder Woman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack



“Don’t make me,” whispered James, not ready to leave his brother just yet.

Al stepped forward and reassuringly touched his shoulder. “But it’s almost over. You’re nearly there.”

Albus spoke as if it wasn’t really a choice James had at all—as if Al had already decided for him. James knew how this would go; Albus would make sure he went back to live his life. James found himself trembling, and he looked down solemnly to his feet. “And now I have to choose. Whether or not I go back…or stay here with you.”

Albus winced, detecting the pain in James’ voice. It was evident that James wanted to be with Albus again, but Albus couldn’t bear being the reason James gave up so much—gave up the life he could have. “But it’s more than that,” he emphasized. “This is about more than just being with me again. There is so much riding on this. Parker still needs to be defeated. Dad and Norah—Clancy and the Aurors!—they need your help, James! I can’t choose for you or make you choose. The choice is yours and yours alone. But you have to think about them and what’s at stake.”

James knew he was right, but that didn’t make it any easier. “B–But…I’m so tired. Tired of everything. A–And how can I leave you? I miss you, Al. So, so much. It hurts how badly I miss you.”

Albus pulled him into a hug at his words. With each word, James had grown weaker and weaker, and his eyes began to swim with tears once more. He could feel his pain, and Al wished he could take it all away.

“I know, Jamie,” soothed Al. “I know it does, but you know that I’m always with you. Not once have I left you since I died. I’ve been with you every step of the way.”

“But…Won’t you…” James didn’t know how to express his thoughts or phrase his question, but Al could very clearly read the concern for him on his face. So Al smiled and spared him from his struggle.

“Don’t worry about me,” he reassured him. “I’m fine. I’m better than fine. Jamie, I wasn’t me anymore when I died. I was never going to be the same. I’m happy. I promise.”

“But will you…Are you alone?” he asked sadly.

Al grinned. “I’ve never been alone. Not once.”

James nodded in satisfaction but pinched the bridge of his nose as he held back his tears. “I just…I don’t even know how to say goodbye to you. H–How can I leave you knowing I’ll never see you again?!”

“You’ll see me again. One day. One day, we’ll be together again, but until then, you have to go back and live your life. Go back—go, go save our dad, go defeat Parker, go live an extraordinary life. Go get married, go have kids, go and be happy.”

“Shit,” murmured James with a chuckle as he looked to the ground to hide his cries. He dried his cheeks before pulling Al in for another hug. “I will, Al. I’ll go.”

“Good,” chuckled Al. “And…tell Mum and Dad, Lily…everyone…hi for me. Tell them I love them. And tell them not to worry about me.”

“I will,” promised James. “I love you, Al.”

“I love you, too, big brother.”

They clung to one another for several moments as James cried silently into Al’s neck. He never wanted to leave him. Nothing in his life had ever been more difficult than saying goodbye to Al in that moment. He found that it was even harder to do than when Al had died.

Al let James be the one to pull away; he knew he had to allow his brother to take in every moment together. And finally he did pull away.

With one last sad smile, Al picked up the brooms once more and handed one to James. “Come on,” he said softly. “On the count of three.”

Nodding, James swiped at his eyes and mounted the broom. He looked to Al with a loving smile, his eyes never leaving his brother.

“One,” they began together. “Two…Three.”

Then James kicked off and was ascending toward the sky.

Albus smiled sadly from the ground as he watched him go. “Goodbye, brother…”




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