You Can Live: Chapter 49 and Epilogue
Guys! It's the middle of the week and I'm updating! Why? Because I finished! This is the end of You Can Live! It is bittersweet, but it must be done. Thank you all so much for sticking through it for so long. I luv you guys! :)
I do not have a beta. Any and all mistakes are my own!
Disclaimer: you know I don't own HP. A very rich, brilliant lady does.
Warnings: Non-graphic child sexual abuse. If this triggers, please don't read!
I Found My Strength
Snape had to hold himself back from murdering Menos at that moment. Instead, he reached forward and held Harry back against his chest in a way that would not give his presence away. His boy trembled in his arms and looked as if he was going to be sick. Severus was right there with him.
In front of them, 'memory Menos' had 'memory Harry' pinned to the bed. Severus knew how Harry felt seeing the memories Menos showed him before, and he could understand why this particular one was so hard for the young man now. The Harry in front of them looked to be about ready to enter his sixth year at Hogwarts. For all the boy fought, he could not free himself, and Menos seemed to be enjoying the boy's attempts.
The Harry in Severus's arms knew there was nothing he could do to stop what was happening. The only option available to him was to watch. Closing his eyes would do him no good as he had already seen. His mind would easily conjure the images based on the sounds if he turned away. It was strange, however, that the real Menos had not shown himself yet. What was he waiting for?
Thundering footsteps coming down the hall made Harry's eyes widen and his face go ashen. He'd recognize those footsteps anywhere, and sure enough, Uncle Vernon pounded into the room. Harry leaned back further into his guardian and clutched at the man's arms to prevent himself from falling as his knees gave out.
Uncle Vernon looked a mixture of pissed off, afraid, and disgusted. His face was quickly turning bright red in anger, but he made no move any further into the room.
"Can't you keep that boy quiet? He'll bring the whole neighborhood to the door with his screaming." Harry couldn't breathe. His…his uncle had known? And he just…let it happen, over and over?! The Harry on the bed looked just as horrified.
Harry saw Menos cut a look at his uncle, and instead of answering, he grabbed the other Harry's jaw and cut off his next scream with a brutal kiss. Uncle Vernon made a noise of disgust and fled from the room.
Severus still had a tight hold on his boy, keeping him upright. They both watched as Menos laughed at Dursley's reaction and turned back to tormenting the younger Harry. When it was all said and done, probably a good ten minutes later, Menos kissed Harry once more and settled the boy's glasses back on his face.
"Now don't you worry, Love. I'll take care of that whale of an Uncle of yours. Can't have him thinking he can lend you out to just anybody. Obliviate." The younger Harry watched Menos leave with silent tears running down his face, blank expression set in. Once Menos was gone the present day Harry watched his younger self sit up suddenly and wince at the pain in his body. The boy looked down at himself, confusion and fear playing across his face as he couldn't remember how he had gotten injured. They all heard the front door close, and Uncle Vernon bellowed from down stairs.
"Boy! Get down here and make my lunch!"
"Y-yes, Uncle Vernon," Harry replied with a hoarse voice. Young Harry got dressed as quickly as he could, before fleeing the room, ignoring the red stains on his sheets.
Once 'memory Harry' was gone, the real Harry waited for something else to happen. Anger and fear and disgust burned in his chest, and his grip on his wand made the wood creak in protest.
"I could show you another, if you'd like. I certainly wouldn't mind." Harry didn't look at Menos; he just kept staring out the bedroom door to where his younger self ran out. He knew that he was supposed to do something, but after what he had just witnessed (and relived), he just couldn't bring himself to remember. Harry vaguely registered Menos snorting behind him.
"Don't worry. That was the first time he had come up to see what we were doing, and I did make him forget.. If he treated you differently afterwards, well…maybe a vague impression of the real you stuck around in his subconscious." Harry could hear the smirk in Menos's voice, and a hand squeezing his shoulder reminded him that he had to get rid of the dark wizard once and for all.
The young wizard turned and faced his tormentor. Menos's smirk grew into a full blown grin.
"And finally the Boy Hero faces his opponent!" The maniac clapped delightedly, before narrowing his eyes at Harry and taking a step closer. "Though, maybe opponent isn't the word I would choose. I'd much rather say lov-" Harry shoved Menos hard in the chest, and Severus had to hold himself back from doing much worse.
Menos seemed to sense something had changed in Harry. The boy standing before him wasn't the same one he had been sending running to a blade for comfort. This boy was stronger and more in control of himself…and angry. The smirk lessened considerably.
"Well, well. That potion's master of your finally give you back your spine? Let me guess: he told you he loved you no matter what? That you were actually worth something?" Menos scoffed, even as Harry pointed his wand at Menos's chest. "Please. Though I'm not surprised you went running straight to him like a baby. I bet you were sobbing your little heart out too. Well, guess what, Sweetheart? That's all gonna run out one day, and the only one you're gonna have left to turn to is me. No one is going to want a broken, little whore like you."
Through Menos's rant, he failed to notice the magical pressure building in the room. A hand that settled between Harry's shoulder blades centered him and helped him concentrate his wild magic and make it do exactly what he wanted. At that point, it meant slamming the door of the bedroom shut and strengthening the walls. Menos was not going to leave that room.
The dark wizard in front of him scowled. Harry could feel the man's magic pressing at the walls of the room, trying to find an exit. When it didn't, Menos growled and his eyes flashed menacingly.
"What. Did. You. Do?" Harry felt a surge of strength at seeing Menos so flustered and obviously anxious. It proved to him that the evil man was not as all powerful as he made himself out to be. So, Harry straightened his back and looked Menos straight in the eye.
"Making sure you'll never hurt me or anyone else ever again." The walls moved in and forced Menos to pull all of his power to himself. Menos roared in rage and charged at Harry, hands open to wrap around the boy's neck.
He didn't make it within three feet of the younger wizard. Severus blasted the man away, and Harry let the concealing magic fade. Menos glared at the potion's master from his new position on the floor.
"I would not even think of touching my son, if I were you." Harry's head whipped around at hearing those words fall from his guardian's lips. His heart skipped a beat and, though he was a bit confused, a smile was slowly growing across his face. Menos did not like it at all.
"Your son? Don't say things that you know will be obsolete in a week. You won't want him when I show you everything he did. He's MINE. You aren't fit to have him." The man's wording made something click in Severus's mind, something he had long been puzzling over.
"You forced Strant to bring those accusations against me. You made the whole situation go as far as it could, tormenting myself and my son, and then when there was no more use for Strant, you killed him. The whole trial was just to disturb Harry." Menos sneered as he stood.
"Well, gold star, Professor. Congratulations, you figured it out." Menos suddenly disappeared and reappeared behind Harry, leaning forward to whisper in the boy's ear.
"What are you doing, Sweetheart? You seem to be concentrating pretty hard." Harry had been using the distraction from Snape to build up the walls in his mind around the room as much as he could. Menos was right; he was concentrating as hard as he could. When Menos's tongue slithered out to touch his ear, Harry jerked away, and the walls weakened a bit.
"Harry, look at me. Don't think about him; look at me. You can do it. Concentrate." Harry nodded once and tried to get his focus back. He vaguely registered Menos snarling, and then hands were roaming over his chest and neck. Harry clenched his eyes shut and refused to react.
The walls were nearly complete, but Harry was having a really hard time with Menos's continued touching. The man was not getting the results he wanted, so he got rougher. Severus couldn't break the boy's concentration now, or Harry might not get it back. He nearly ripped Menos's head off when the man bit the back of Harry's neck, making the boy whimper.
Snape could almost hear Harry's teeth grinding, as the pressure in the room increased ten fold. Suddenly, the boy gasped and his eyes flew open to meet Snape's. One look of confirmation was all Severus needed.
They disappeared from the confines of Harry's mind to the sound of Menos screaming in rage.
Harry popped awake with a violent gasp, not taking note of the way his shirt clung to him or the slight wetness of his cheeks. Severus was right beside him, and held everyone back with a look. They had all surged forward upon seeing Harry awake, but the boy needed to concentrate again.
The young wizard lifted his wand, his hand shaking slightly, and placed it at his temple. This particular extraction was a bit painful, as memories typically didn't have something in them fighting to stay put. Harry managed however, and finally pulled the dream/memory free. Harry imagined he could hear Menos screaming as he quickly deposited it in the Pensieve.
The water in the Pensieve rippled, and Severus helped Harry quickly get to his feet.
"Everyone outside, now." No questions asked, everyone practically ran, Severus trailing with the Pensieve floating behind him.
Once situated outside, they all formed a circle around the Pensieve. As Harry passed it on the way to his position, he saw a hand press against the surface of the water from the inside. Harry couldn't help but feel satisfied.
"Wands at the ready," Kingsley called. All wands were raised and pointed directly at the Pensieve. "On my mark, say the incantation and then throw up your shields. Three, two, one, now!"
A collective Reducto! slammed into the Pensieve, and the object exploded. Harry didn't even have time to say the words for his shield, but his wild magic did it for him. After all the times before when it could not protect him from Menos, it would then.
It took a few minutes for everything to settle down, and for Harry to open his eyes. When he did…there was nothing there. No trace of the Pensieve, not even a sign that there had been an explosion. Everyone was in various splayed positions on the ground, except for Luna. She was on her feet and smiling at Harry and the lack of carnage. Hermione explained without having to be prompted.
"The Pensieve collapsed in on itself, and in essence became a black hole with all of its magical energy." Her fiancé helped her to her feet, and Draco brushed the few specks of dirt off of his pants.
Before Harry could stand, a pop next to his head was all the warning he had before he was attacked by Snippy.
"Master Harry is safe! No more bad guy! Snippy is so so so so happy!" Harry smiled at the exuberant house-elf that jumped on him to give him a hug. Harry hugged her back and smiled at Albus, who was flying around their small group. The owl looked so pleased it would trill like a song bird if it could.
A shadow fell over Harry and Snippy, and the boy smiled. Severus raised a brow.
"Snippy, if it is quite all right with you, I would like to hug my son." He said it in such a dry voice, Harry almost laughed. The boy may or may not be a bit punch drunk and verging on hysterical. Snippy smiled and nodded, letting Harry stand.
"Snippy make lots and lots of foods now! So many foods for Master Harry and Master Snape and all of Masters' friends!" With that the house-elf popped away, leaving Harry to be pulled into Severus chest. Harry squeezed his guardian back as hard as he could. He just couldn't stop smiling.
"It's over…It's over." Severus kissed the top of his head.
"It is son. It is." When they pulled back, Severus gave him a stern look. "If you attract one more Dark, psychotic wizard, I am taking you to St. Mungo's to get checked for curses."
"I second that," Ron called out. Harry couldn't help but laugh, and everyone came over for their own hug (even Draco).
Harry's cheeks hurt by the end of the day, but it was totally worth it.
"Would you stop fidgeting? Honestly! You're worse than a first year at the Opening Feast." Ron came up and patted Harry on the shoulder.
"Yeah, Mate. Why are you so nervous? It's not like you're the one getting married." As if he just reminded himself, Ron turned pale. Harry mock scowled at his friend.
"I'm not nervous. I'm excited. My two best friends are getting married! Dad! It's fine!" Harry batted at Severus's hands, which were trying to straighten his bow tie.
One thing Hermione insisted on was that Ron and his groomsmen wore the traditional Muggle tuxedo for the wedding. Molly had grumbled for a week, until she saw her baby boy in a custom made suit (stealthily paid for by Harry). She started bawling at the shop. Ron had been thrilled with the idea from the start, not wanting to be shoved into any more hideous dress robes.
Severus sighed and raised his hands in surrender. He opened his mouth to comment on Harry's hair, when Arthur suddenly poked his head into the room.
"It's time, Son." Ron got even more pale, and Harry laughed. He took hold of his friend's arm, while Severus passed him a watered down Calming Draught for the young Weasley.
"It'll be fine, Ron. You both love each other, and believe it or not, when I went to see Hermione, she was as nervous as you are." Ron turned to his friend.
"Really?" Harry nodded as he positioned Ron at the altar. Draco was waiting for them and rolled his eyes when Ron downed the Calming Draught like a shot of tequila.
"Seriously, Weasley? Haven't you had three of those already today?" Harry snorted but shook his head.
"This is only his second, Draco. Give the guy a break. He's getting married." Harry took the empty vial back and passed it to his father, seated in the front row.
The wedding was being held in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. The ceiling was spelled to show the bright blue sky, and the windows even allowed for the sounds of birds to filter through. All friends and family were in attendance, including Hermione's parents and some choice cousins. They're the only ones I can stand, and the only ones I trust won't spend the whole wedding gawking at magic. It was still relatively small and intimate in retrospect with the Weasleys taking the most seats. Luna and Ginny stood across from the boys as Hermione's bridesmaids, decked out in gorgeous sky blue dresses.
Arthur beamed at his son as he held a weeping Molly Weasley's hand. She was smiling brightly, but kept having to dab her eyes with a handkerchief. Kingsley finally came to stand at the altar as the officiator, and Harry squeezed Ron's shoulder in support. The Minister smiled at Ron and then motioned for the giant double doors to open.
Everyone turned to see Hermione come down the aisle. She was smiling from ear to ear on her dad's arm, and from the looks of it, she was trying to hold back some tears. Harry thought she was stunning, and one look at an awestruck Ron told him that the groom felt the same.
The ceremony went off without a hitch, and soon they were all enjoying the reception. Harry sat next to Ron as the Best Man and reminisced with the couple throughout the meal. Then the lighting changed and Harry knew it was time. Ron and Hermione both smiled at him as he stood, and he winked at them in turn.
"Well, hello everybody. For those of you who may not know, it is Muggle tradition for the Best Man to give a speech at the reception. I can't say I was thrilled when I heard," a few chuckles went around the room, everyone knowing how much Harry hated public speaking, "but I was happy to do it for my two best friends." Harry smiled down at the couple and cleared his throat to continue. "I met both Ron and Hermione my first year of Hogwarts. To say they were friends right off the bat would be a blatant lie. Hermione was obsessed with the rules, which we are glad to say we corrupted her away from, and Ron cared more about the food and Quidditch, which…really hasn't changed at all." Ron gave an indignant 'Oi!' before Harry continued.
"All three of us have been through a lot together. There were times we were at each other's throats and couldn't be around each other. However, for all they fought, Ron and Hermione never stopped caring about each other. One time in particular stands out to me. At one point during the war," everyone grew a bit somber. "Ron…left during one of our fights. We were both at fault, but being boys neither of us would admit that. He had been gone for a long time, and Hermione…well, she was heartbroken." Ron squeezed Hermione's hand in apology, and she kissed his cheek.
"Then Ron came back, with the help of one of Dumbledor's little inventions, and the first time Hermione saw him," Harry paused and smiled at the young woman. "She punched him right in the face." Everyone burst into shocked laughter, and Harry let it go on for a little while to break up the darkened mood he had set. "But he was forgiven in a few hours, and we were all back to sorts again. Ron and Hermione haven't been separated since. We all know they still argue, but their love for each other couldn't be stronger. It survived years together at Hogwarts. It survived a war. It survived being a friend to someone who attracted trouble like an owl to flight." Ron barked out a laugh and smacked Harry on the back. Harry lifted his glass motioning for the others to do so as well.
"I am proud to call Hermione a sister and Ron a brother and wish them a lifetime of happiness. And Ron, your mother told me to tell you she wants to be a grandmother soon. So get on that." Everyone laughed and cheered, even as Ron paled slightly.
The couple stood to hug Harry as everyone clapped. Harry saw his dad smile and lift his glass to him.
Everything wasn't perfect. Harry wasn't magically fixed once Menos was gone, but he was better. He had Hermione and Ron and Luna and Draco…and his dad. He wasn't alone, and he never would be again. His wild magic thrummed with his happiness, unintentionally brightening up the room. As Harry wished Ron and Hermione even more joy, he couldn't wait to see how the next few years turned out. He was ready to live.
Have no fear! I will return to the Harry Potter fandom one day, just not very soon. I do have ideas for future stories, but after how long this one took, I want to focus back on my roots in the Avengers and White Collar. Again, thank you for sticking around. I'll see you in the future! :)
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