A/N: This is what happens when one of your best friends writes damn good HP stuff.
Everyone knew that there was a price to be paid, for victory. The final battle with the Dark Lord had taken more out of their Savior than the Wizarding world had anticipated. An eighteen year old boy had been called upon to equal the magics of a man almost four times his age and he had done it. He had done it by reaching into his own magical core and burning through all the stops, all the controls that set the limits.
And it was ripping him apart up from the inside.
As his friends, Hermione, Neville, Ron, Luna and Ginny spent every moment they could, doing as much as they could. They lost hours library researching how to stop, or even better, how to reverse what Harry had done and the infirmary, using their magics to support their friend. “The Power He Knows Not” hadn’t been some mystical thing that Harry had found, it was the willingness to go beyond sanity, beyond any hope of caution, to win.
Desperation caused one to throw caution to the wind after all. And when that happened?
The price it exacted afterwards was always dear.
“Damn it, Hermione! There is nothing here!” Ron slammed the book he was reading closed and sneezed at the light cloud of dust that came up from the pages.
His girlfriend didn’t even look up from the page she was reading before answering him, “If we don’t look everywhere, and Harry dies, do you think you can look at yourself in a mirror? I know I can’t. So… I am reading everything I can and I am going to keep reading until we find a cure.”
“But!” Ron muttered before brown eyes flicked up at him in annoyance and then down. Raising his eyes to the ceiling, the Gryffindor stared at the rafters above. He was dead tired of reading stuff that made no sense, and worse, had nothing to do with keeping Harry alive. There were so many things that were going wrong that he was getting confused. Grabbing a scrap of parchment and his quill, Ron started jotting down everything he knew about each symptom his friend displayed.
The list was long. And daunting. But, and here Ron crossed off several words that repeated themselves, it seemed more manageable than allowing the mess to stew in his head. Frowning at the words on the page, the Gryff dropped the quill back into the inkstand and stood up. If he was right, the list in his hand was pointing to something that he hadn’t even considered and book he needed hadn’t been one of the many Hermione had pulled off the shelves in the Healing section. He was looking for Folklores.
“Where are you going?” Neville asked as he watched the redhead move to the main catalog.
Ron didn’t bother to answer before writing down the name of a book and placing on the same pad that Ms. Pince used when she produced books for the students. He really wanted to be wrong. Seconds after the paper with the title was requested, a large book the size of the Muggle phone books Hermione had showed him was on the table.
The redheaded Gryff didn’t even bother to move it. He just opened it to the index and looked up the term Cavae Tristitia. As soon as he had the page number, he moved his search to the entry and Harry’s symptoms matched all the way down the line. Flipping the page, he kept reading, hoping that a cure might be in the offering. For once, it looked like they might be catching a break. Reading further, Ron felt his spirits plummet. What was needed, was something that he had no idea how to get. But maybe… “Fuck. Hermione, I have it. You can stop looking up what’s wrong with Harry,” Ron announced.
The babble of voices behind him made it sound like there were more than the three of them in the room. And when the other two crowded around him to read, he let them. Cavae Tristitia. How were they going to be able to fix that?
“What is Cavae Tristitia?” Neville asked carefully. “I mean, I recognize the Latin, but what is it?”
When his girlfriend didn’t pipe up, Ron dropped his eyes and looked at her. She was just as curious as their fellow Gryffindor it appeared. “Cavae Tristitia, or the Hollow Sadness. It means that, unless we can find the one who is Harry complimentary anchor, his magic, and all the things that make him Harry will get eaten by the storm he started in his core. The one that will scour him clean and leave only an empty, grieving shell. And unlike a Dementor, this leaves him alive.”
Neville blanched white, and Ron knew that he recognized the problem now. The condition was uncommon, even now, after two wars and people struggling to survive at any cost. To be willing to subject yourself to Cavae Tristitia, you had to be willing to give over everything to Magic and pray that someone compatible was there to catch you when you crashed. Ron knew that as much as they had tried, he and his friends weren’t enough, that they weren’t the one. That Magic was saying that while they could slow the crash, there was no way that they could stop it. If they had been, none of them would have been in the library at Hogwarts looking for a miracle.
Hermione was reading the entry in the book he had pulled up and ignoring the two of them. When she got to the end, she turned to the boys. “Complimentary anchor? What does that mean?”
Neville ran a hand over his face and looked at Ron before taking the lead. Every once in a while, the girl’s Muggle upbringing showed through, but Ron couldn’t fault her for not knowing this. It just wasn’t taught in Hogwarts. It was taught at home. Well, it was taught at home because a previous Headmaster had dropped the class from the syllabus.
“It breaks down like this… Everyone has an element that they are most comfortable with, have you noticed? Like, I am at my most relaxed when surrounded by the greenhouses or a garden. Surrounded by the element of Earth?” Neville asked carefully.
“Yes, I’ve seen that happen,” Hermione agreed just as carefully. “I’m very comfortable with the Earth as well. Even if my time in the greenhouses is better spent at identifying plants, instead of taking care of them,” she said with a wry grin.
“We noticed,” Neville commented. “The way my Gran figured, it was one reason why I am such pants at flying on a broom. Just not my element.”
Comprehension was quick to dawn on the Witch’s face and she turned to Ron. Holding out one hand, he cut her off quickly. “Before you ask, I have an affinity towards Fire. And yes, the hair is a bit of a give-away.”
“And Harry? What is he attuned to?” she asked.
“Can’t you guess? Where is he the most comfortable? Where did he go when he needed to think? When he needed to calm down?” Neville asked gently.
“Air.” Both boys agreed with finality.
Confused, Hermione looked from one of her classmates to another and pushed for an answer. “What does that mean? If the Wizarding Elements follow the Muggle ones, it is Earth to Water, Fire to Air, right? Crossing them with their opposites, Earth to Air and Fire to Water, would be bad, right?”
“Yeah. It is,” Ron agreed quietly. “If I was able to be his anchor, we would have bonded as soon as I tried to support him magically. The tales we have are quite certain on that piece of information.”
“Then we need to find Harry an anchor who is Fire. Ginny! Ginny has to be Fire. She’s a Weasley and a redhead,” the witch said eagerly. To finally have the answer they were looking for had obviously raised her hopes and Ron was loathe to quash them. Too bad she had missed the glaring clue that he had given her.
“I’m sorry, Hermione, but that won’t work,” Neville announced. The streak of courage that had gotten the shy young man into Gryffindor was showing now. It always did under pressure. When Hermione looked at him, Neville swallowed heavily and Ron could tell he was gripping he wand tightly in his pocket. “Ginny’s Element is Water. While Water can compliment Air, she is too different, too… Unsettled and chaotic. She feels like quick running rapids to me and I am one who theoretically compliments her. She wouldn’t work as his anchor.”
Eyes hard, she stood still and from the feeling on his skin, Ron could tell her magic was flexing as she fought her emotions. “If she can’t, then who can?”
Eyes grim, Ron shook his head, “I have no idea. But we have a place to start now. We are going to have to test everyone that we come in contact with. And if they are the right Element, we are taking them to see Harry. No matter what.”