Author's notes: Here it is! The grand epilogue. I hope it's going to be to your liking.
Disclaimer: I wanted to make my parents proud, instead I'm writing about something I have no rights on. Oh well, better luck next life!
Harry daydreamed about sandy beaches, a ride on a motor-less boat... to dive in the green and blue waters of the tropics and watching a rainbow of fishes pass by, and to sleep. To sleep under the sun, naked, without a hat or tan lotion, just basking in the glow of the sun.
Instead, he was leading a party of Auror through Hogwarts' grounds to get Albus Dumbledore's body and to make a deposition of the events. No doubt that ink would bleed in every magical newspapers of Britain. When they got back to the ministry building, Fudge stood in front of the monument of 'Magical brotherhood', a sad parody of the popular misconceptions of the races. He gave a speech about how the people needn't to fear as he was there, yet again, solid as an oak, to take reins of power as Britain lost yet again its leader. Harry, not checking in with his brain, changed course and set directly for the self-appointed leader. What he saw and heard while he was pure knowledge in the sky sickened him. Technically, it was Voldemort's knowledge at the time, but it was his now.
The self-appointed Interim Minister was about to greet him but didn't have the time. Harry went through the crowd of journalists, who parted from his path like a flock of birds on a train track. He took his wand and cast a spell wordlessly, which started to worry Fudge. He made two steps back, before he saw a curtain of haziness trapping him and Harry inside a dome. He heard senseless noises coming from outside and saw the people as blobs of colours. He never saw, or felt, such a strong privacy charm.
"What the hell do you think you are doing, Fudge?" Harry asked aggressively, taking the older man aback. "Don't you think you've done enough damage to the society yet?"
"What are you talking about, boy? The people need a leader in this dire hour, as something tragic happens yet again around you..."
"Oh, please!" Harry interrupted Fudge, rolling his eyes. "The people can live without a leader for quite a while. Shops will still be open, the bank will still hold transactions and the school will give its courses: the world will keep on spinning! You're trying to rush things for the people to think they must have a leader right away or society would collapse!" Harry let out, still circling Fudge.
"Stay out of my way, boy, or I swear..."
"You swear what, Fudge?" Harry cut him once again. "You'll have me disappear in an 'accident' like you did to my godfather when he was in place? You never expected that your spy in the Department of Mystery, in the R&D labs, would get such a result when you told him to sabotage their work! Admit you missed by a long shot as you didn't expect them to survive!"
"If only you could have been swallowed with that lot! You think Serena Lovegood is the only walking brain working for the Ministry? My spy is a genius too and a pureblood with my vision of things! He calculated the exact magnitude of the incident! I was sure you'd be with that blasted Sirius Black, not with Mister Two! I would have never imagined this...traitor to side with you either," Fudge spat, hate deforming his trait.
"You are a cruel and stupid man, Fudge. You know there was no victory against the Nightmare with me gone," Harry said with disgust.
"Why should I give a damn?! Shades?! Nightmares?! We had them for over fifteen years and managed damn well! Why is a perpetual full moon that bad? It gave me an opportunity to have money vanish in that After Dark Department of yours without you seeing a knut of it!" gloated Fudge.
Harry had enough. He waved his wand and the curtains fell. Fudge resumed his composed face of benevolent Minister but something was off. People looked at him with surprise, disgust and horror.
"That wasn't a privacy charm, by the way," Harry said from behind, striding away. "It was the exact opposite."
Harry left the vulnerable man to the hound of journalists and took the time to cast an anti-Apparition ward on the Hall.
"Make sure he doesn't leave the premise, arrest him when he'll try to Floo away but let him suffer at the hands of the journalists a bit," Harry told the first Auror he met. The man was no newbie nor was he a paper-pusher, but he recognized when an order would issue justice. He nodded and jogged his way to the fallen politician to be sure to stop him before he escaped.
Rufus Scrimgeour knew a cover-up when he saw one. The boy's story added up. In fact, it added up perfectly. There was no hesitation what-so-ever in his answers and everything fell in known behaviors and profiles. He had Harry Potter repeat his version four times, asking questions all the while, changing the time and order of the events and used every single tricks short of a full blown interrogation. The room wasn't that comfortable, but he was allowed to have water and to go to the bathroom. They didn't change the room's temperature drastically either. It was civil, but thorough. The Black Heir never changed a detail of his deposition.
He went to get one last piece of artifact he learned where to find after sharing information with Albus Dumbledore but the very nature of the object was confidential information. He was possessed by said artifact and could only vaguely remember the next day, except for a few definite details: he was the one who attacked the Lovegood home and stole a crystal of major importance in the Über-Nightmare war. Albus Dumbledore caught him after the fact and battled him in Hogwarts, persuaded that Harry was lost after seeing him fuse with other Übers. The old Headmaster managed to destroy the entity possessing him in a mental battle but died in the process. The destruction of both the crystal, used in the battle, and that of the Über-Nightmares triggered a chain reaction that freed the world from the Nightmares and Shades.
There were obvious signs of epic-sized struggle in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It was a miracle the ceiling didn't collapse. Harry Potter, the Nightmare Hunter, wouldn't call the end of his war without good reason, even before the first nightfall following his victory. No, it was something else... There was recognition and gratitude in his voice but the same that a politician used to thank another for his support. As if it was only business, nothing personal. Was there something more personal than someone saving you from possession? That's what didn't add up.
Rufus Scrimgeour knew when he was shown a better truth but it wasn't the truth and he didn't like it. Heroes were heroes and the same stood for villains.
"I know we covered it already, Mister Potter, but I'd like to start back from the start, at the moment you spoke to Albus Dumbledore about that mysterious artifact," he said patiently.
"But of course, it's only natural," answered Harry, smiling.
This was the fourth hour. It wasn't natural at all. He should have been impatient, starving, tired and revolted against his insistence.
"Let's cut the chase short, Mister Potter. I know you are hiding a very important detail from your story and you are in no position to determine if it is relevant or not. You might think you are doing this for the 'greater good', but it is not up to you to decide," he said, leaning toward the kid.
Something in what he just said triggered a tremendous change in the teen. He smirked and leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms loosely. He stared at him like he was never stared at before. Rufus felt nervous and...insufficient. He felt he was the one on the touch.
"You know what? I think you are absolutely right. It is not my place to decide. Who the Inferno am I to decide?!' he said, his smirk never leaving his lips.
Rufus felt as if he was allowed to have free will right now.
"Voldemort was not the one to steal the Crystal from the After Dark Department, Dumbledore was," Harry said, pulling no punches.
Scrimgeour wasn't so sure about wanting to know the truth all of the sudden.
"Everything else was pretty accurate except for some details, such as Dumbledore kidnapping a dryad with manacles made of Dead Iron and admitting to Voldemort that I was a planned sacrifice for him to reach immortality."
The Head Auror felt livid. He probably was.
"The Minister didn't really die in his mental battle with Voldemort. I destroyed them both, spending the crystal's energy at the same time, while they were too busy with each other to take notice of my actions."
Rufus closed his eyes. What a mess! Even if he had any intention of putting Harry in a trial, he could claim self-defense, magic-induced dementia, that he never was aware of any of it happening or any half-dozen good excuses any lawyer would choose to use.
And they would be right to. Harry was the one of the three deserving to live, at that precise moment. He chose to destroy them in order to save himself but... There was this nagging voice in his head that asked 'Couldn't he have tried to save them, or at least Dumbledore, if he was in such a position of superiority?'
"Would you have done any better?" Harry asked soberly, all trace of humor gone.
Rufus looked at him for a long moment and shook his head.
"It is far easier to offer critics then an actual, concrete solution to a problem. You did what you had to do, Harry. I believe you are right, and that we should relate Dumbledore's death as you described it first," the Head Auror said, sitting on his chair.
"Who are you to decide what the population should hear or not? Who are you to decide of the truth?" Harry asked, cocking his head to the side.
"I... am the Head Auror of Magical Britain and it is my job and duty to the people to assure their well-being. Dumbledore was an idol that practically came back to life to lead them, as he was always pre-destined to be, in an age of darkness. To learn he was corrupted would scare the population and ripped them of the confidence they could have in any future leader. If you prefer the short version, I have the right because I said so."
"Well said. I'm glad it took only four hours for you, the adult who knows better, to come to the same conclusion as I, shattering your opinion of the great Dumbledore at the same time. I hope you'll feel better living with the truth. Now that this matter is done, I will ask of you to refrain from looking into any future business of mine."
As the magical cop was about to sneer, he caught a glimpse of a shine on Harry's forehead and a feeling of dread that constricted his throat. He wisely decided to simply nod.
"Good," Harry finished, getting up. He turned around and left the Auror stunned and alone in the room. What did he become? And wasn't the door locked from the outside?
That night was one of grief and celebration. Candles were put on the windowsills, a tribute to Albus Dumbledore, one of the greatest wizards of the Light known since Merlin. The festivities went without huge bonfires, fireworks or magical lights.
People gathered outside in the dark that felt anonymous and empty once more and watched the sky, minus the moon. It was deemed fitting, as she kept watch for sixteen years, that the next night the Nightmare vanished it was a new moon. She deserved a rest. The stars were only more visible. It was peaceful. Most gatherings were spent in silence or whispers. People didn't fear sleep or dreams anymore: it was all over, finally.
The gathered stars-gazer spoke in hushed tones of a better, stress-less world. The youngest kids were afraid at first, but soon played at 'find the moon' and ran around, carrying round objects and throwing them in the air. Adults made sure that breakable plates were well out of reach.
People got chattier as the night went on. No one cared if they had to work the next day. There were debates if Albus Dumbledore should get a posthumous Order of Merlin, first class, or if the Ministry should invent 'The Order of Dumbledore' in honor to his sacrifice and courage. People swore they would have never voted for Fudge if they had a clue of how evil he was.
People discussed of the next Minister that would present himself or if Sirius Black, now in remission, would apply again.
They talked of Hogwarts and when they would re-open the school but the concept made people uneasy. To send their children to that... pit of monsters? There must be a reason why it became the nest of Nightmares in the first place, no? What force pulled them there? What if it attracted other nasties? Hogwarts was probably the least safe place in Britain, after Azkaban.
People spoke all night long of all things except for one: Harry Potter. He was on everyone's mind though but no one dared to mention it. There were rumors saying he came back changed. He had that aura of formidable power you'd find around legends like Dumbledore in his younger days. The one knowing better wisely kept their mouth shut.
No one thought of addressing a medal, an order of Merlin or any other kind of commendation to Harry. People didn't think of thanking him or to send a grateful owl to him. After all, that was his job, right? He'd have done it anyway, no? That was who he was, what he did, his purpose. Anything less would have been disappointing, really.
Harry had a wonderful time, that night. The Lovegood home, as good as new, only lacked the heavy weight of the mirrors on the roof. It was furnished to look like a lounge now. Long chairs were spread around with cushions and a few low tables. Harry shared a hammock with Luna: that special bedding was made for cuddling! They stood there, looking at the sky and sharing body heat while Lazuli sat nearby, on the edge of a chair, looking at them with her head resting on her palms. When Serena asked her, on a mildly frosty tone, if everything was all right, she answered everything was perfect, even though she felt the woman wanted to rip her head off. Harry tried to hide his sniggers while Luna didn't even made the effort.
At some point, Luna's father brought a chair to sit in front of Harry with a quill and a notebook.
"Now that we have some time on our hands, surely you won't mind answering a few questions? After tonight, the world will seem so much brighter, like a curtain that had been lifted after an age of anguish. You are confirming that the Nightmare menace is gone?"
Harry nodded slightly, a very small smile playing on his lips. Journalists...
"Yes, the presence of the Über-Nightmares in Hogwarts brought them all in the vicinity of the school and they were sucked in the ritual Voldemort made to re-assemble his soul. If any were missed, I'll make sure to hunt them down but with Voldemort gone, though, they should be inert."
"Very good! What of the After Dark Department? What will it become?"
"Everything will be cataloged, sealed and put on a tablet. I will consult with the next Minister, once one will be elected, in order to transform the Department as an extension of the R&D of the Department of Mystery, or for the Auror. They could use a good Quartermaster for new law-enforcing tools in Serena Lovegood. I will suggest we use their library as an Archive out of the Ministry building, as one less official and stuffy."
"A very wise suggestion indeed and I'm sure that Honey - that Ms Lovegood will be pleased by the opportunity! Now, what about Hogwarts? How much time do you expect before its re-opening? I hear there was extensive damages done both in the return of the Ministry's staff and in the final battle with the Dark Lord Voldemort."
Harry sighed. This would have a lot more ink bleeding.
"I don't expect a return of Hogwarts to its original function. In fact, I believe the structure should be destroyed as soon as it could be emptied."
Luna's father dropped his quill in shock. Luna looked up at her love with a question mark etched on her face. Serena moved closer and Lazuli kept on looking, with a slight frown.
"Don't worry, my friend," Harry reassured the dryad. "I do not plan on even rustling the edge of your home: it has its place there. You wouldn't be as lovely anywhere else. Still, the castle has to go. Those who made Hogwarts sat it on a convergence of Ley lines and...well...let's just say there are enough to make Stonehenge jealous."
Serena looked at him with a frown.
"There are about four different lines running under Stonehenge," she said with assurance.
"Five, in facts," Harry corrected her, raising a finger. "One shot straight up from underground from very, very deep down. Which explain in turn why Hogwarts is so strong. There are three known Lines crossing its ground. Long before it was built, the druids were the dominant force here and guarded the location. Later on, our ancestors came and were able to connect with a greater source of power at the same location, as the different Lines have different affinities. Five lines shoot from underground to twist and mix in the three we usually detect."
"We usually detect? Only a handful of mages in history could map them out!" stammered Serena.
"Anyway, the result is a fountain of magic going up out way: the easiest access ever. One of the best in the world, even. Power attracts power and that kind of energy lure creatures and beings that need that kind of power to either come in our world, to be born or to grow to what they're meant to be. Power easily corrupts too and the school was meant as a protection over that Nexus of Ley Lines."
"A protection where all the children of our world, defenseless, are gathered?" asked Luna's father, doubtful.
"A place where the people at the top of their arts, constantly practicing, are reunited," countered Harry. "The castle is the strongest kind of structure short of being built underground. It is heavily protected, even if you compare it to today's standard in wards. With the strongest wizards inside and no shortage of little foot soldiers, this is a stronghold that was, for a long time, the safest place in Britain. It was true then but now, it merely is a temptation for the bad guys to find a lair and grow powerful. We can't let Hogwarts resume activities on the menace of losing the future of the Wizarding World. Right now, the schooling system is ideal. It's built on a strong and strengthening system of communication and transport. We will never lack space as each student can provide a classroom. The community is closer than ever before, and they will need to be."
A chill went up their spine despite the warm night air.
"Why is that?" Luna asked softly.
"A New Age is coming up. I am not merely talking of a Dark Lord rising. There will be... an awakening of the world, of creatures and Legends. Things will come out of hiding. The Wizarding World will no longer be able to hide the existence of magic. It will be a dangerous, powerful, mystical and marvelous time to live in. It will be harsh at times, but living will be so much more fulfilling," Harry said, his gaze lost in the distance.
"Merlin, who... what have you become?" Serena asked in a whisper.
Luna answered before they could figure an adequate answer.
"He's my boyfriend and a friend of nature's sprites. He's the vanquisher of Voldemort, the Heir of Black. He's Harry Potter. Didn't you knew all of this already, mother? Why are you asking? If he's becoming someone else, he'll show it to us, through his actions."
Harry kissed Luna softly on a cheek, hugging her even closer, making her giggle a bit. If she could keep on thinking of him like that, Harry would find the strength and motivation to keep up. Take a deep breath, Harry, and be the one to breach in the New Age first.
He's named Grimmlook and he was the Head Goblin, leader of Britain's Goblin Nation. He was Third Arbitrary of the Great Council of the Goblin Nations. He had one of the oldest bloodline, carrying a dormant Berserker. He finished his schooling in accounting, great accounting, great floundering, aggressive administration and personal management by the time he was fifteen cycle. He still took personal classes in order to share his experience and constantly refresh his knowledge.
Right now, Grimmlook was anxious and...dared he voiced it?
Finally, challenges worth his salt would soon come his way. The signs couldn't lie. The augurs all sent warning of numerous ancestral dangers growling in their sleep. The trembling goblin, carrier of bad news, was another drop in the overflowing chalice.
"Weakening?" he repeated, having not lost a word while daydreaming of the times to come.
"Y-yes. The... hum...escape of the golden dragon weakened the structure of the banking building and caused minor collapse in the underground structures. Debris crashed on the... the..."
"On the Containment Field, supervisor! Do not fear the name of the cage or else how are you going to speak of the creature inside!"
The goblin's face got a few spots of purple on it, only at the thought of its name.
"Hum, yes. Well, the dolmens... how can I explain? They are not weakening but they do not seem to be enough anymore. The structure is simply lacking power, and the rise in activity is coinciding with the Über-Nightmare incident. The cage is still intact and the creature is still dormant, but stirring."
"I will bring it to the attention of the Goblin Nations' Council, next month. What of our cover business?"
"The bank suffered from considerable damage and the wizards have been closing a lot of accounts lately. They are losing confidence," admitted the poor scapegoat.
"They wish to keep the gold to themselves. We cannot allow that! If the situation doesn't change, this will mean another war. They think we want the secret of their wands and magic, the fools! What we always wanted was the gold! Have the Chosen Ones prepared and order the return of the squads! Have the smiths roaring...and have the Great One lit."
The goblin's eyes widen comically.
"The Great One, you heard me! Or do you think we'll fight a war, contain The Stray..." he said, having the supervisor cringe, "...and facing the other threats coming up without a weapon of legend to face them? We'll build such a masterpiece that Excalibur will pale in its shadow, making everyone forget it was stolen by a human!"
The goblin fled. It was unusual, really, to leave without express permission, but while he spoke, Grimmlook turned a bright red and doubled in size. His berserker blood boiled in anticipation. He couldn't wait! Quick, monsters and legends, come and get some!
Sirius offered his service as a special consultant for the Ministry but turned down the suggestion to run for Minister again, stating that other matters required his attention as of now. He took the occasion to present his new fiancé, Madeline Watson.
Harry was approached by journalists, asking if he'd become the first underage Minister of history, which Harry laughed off. He said he'd consider working for another Department but rather than taking a leading position, he would keep on working for the public safety. He had a lot of projects in mind and quite a lot of plans to show the future Minister already. He wished to keep working as handyman in the After Dark Department and re-orient its purpose. The journalists seemed very receptive of this and avoided the usual question about Hogwarts' future. Why should he know anything about it? It's not as if he had a word to say, despite what the... Quibbler... said.
Harry asked for his N.E.W.T. examinations in secret and passed them all with flying colours. It was the only way to 'drop school' without it biting him in the rear later. Luna started thinking seriously about her own future, checking out the courses she'd take in order to help in the new Department.
One evening, she found Harry hunched over a very, very large square piece of paper. She heard of 'blueprints' before, but never actually saw any. This one was impressive even before she realized there was about ten identically sized, thin piece of paper stacked! Harry drew lines with a sharpened white chalk without the help of a ruler. That was new too, as Harry never was the artistic kind before. She looked at it from behind him and tried to make sense of the drawing.
"It looks complicated, but beautiful. What is it?"
Harry made a grand gesture and all ten pieces of paper rose in the air, at equivalent distance, taking all the space available between the table and the high ceiling. Lines of lights played connect-the-dot between the sheets and space filled themselves with more liquid light of different texture. It was grand, majestic.
"It is beautiful!"
"It will be my home. Our home, if you accept..." he said suggestively.
"I like it! Where will you build it?" she said, ignoring the obvious insinuation. It made her a bit too nervous to think right now...
Harry simply looked at her until the answer came to her. It was so evident!
"Oh. I guess we won't have much trouble with the garden, then."
She looked at the plans of the building that would succeed Hogwarts and imagined living there.
"I just can't believe all of this to be real," she whispered. "It all seems so intense, so much more... true."
"The world is changing, Luna. Our world passed the stage of simple reality. It's heading toward surreal and only those able to adapt will survive. I don't have a fear for you, as your eyes will be the best to look at the New Age."
"Can you predict the future? Can you see what will be?" she asked, lost in the contemplation of the tall tower's blueprints.
"Luna," Harry scolded playfully, his eyes blazing with contained power, "Where would be the fun in that?!"
or maybe not.