AN: This is for Sharis B who asked me a question but didn't leave me a way to answer. Please create an account on ffnet and write me a private message so I can answer your question.
For everyone else: here is the end of this story. I hope it is a good conclusion as this is another part I had planned from the start.
CW: Suicide, Major Character Dead, nothing graphic
Harry watched with unease as his father carefully moved over the meticulously prepared floor, drawing the lines of a runic circle. He really wished that this wasn't happening, but as he had known for decades by now, Marvolo was set to perform this ritual. To make sure that the information on Horcruxes and all their drawbacks would be available to everyone contemplating their use, in the hope of giving them enough information to make them reconsider.
"Harry, please, you knew as well as I that this was coming. And as sorry as I am that Father will no longer be with us… the fact that there's something he fears more than death is a big step for him." Marcus had come over to stand with Harry, placing a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to console his older brother.
"I know that Father fears dementia more than he fears death. But with everything he managed to invent, why does he insist on this ritual?! He could stay with us for several decades still!" Harry wanted to pace, but refrained because he didn't want to agitate his wife – Tara was standing with their five daughters and their partners – so he dropped his voice down to almost a whisper and moderated his gestures. "Don't you wish that he would be with us longer?"
"Harry," Marcus sighed, clearly struggling with how to word what he wanted to say. "Yes, it's true that I wish Father would stay. I would like for him to be still here when my youngest graduates, and I become a grandfather. But he has planned this for so long." Marcus trailed off, looking back to where his wife and husband were talking to their adult children and their spouses. Harry still was happy that he and Marvolo had managed to make marriages of more than two people legal, so that those families built with the use of Severus' completion of the Anteros Potion could legally stay together, with all the advantages, for instance the handling of material possessions such as houses. That both Marcus and his husband liked women as well had made for an interesting family dynamic from Harry's point of view.
"But you know how obsessed he's been with making sure others don't repeat his error. Making sure every magical library will hold a copy of his book as long as there are individuals able to perform the magic needed to split a soul… I can understand why he wants that." Harry huffed. Marcus was always so reasonable about everything. Even after all those years, his sorting into Ravenclaw was still obvious and understandable.
"You'll make a great Lord Slytherin." Harry had taken the position as Lord Potter after he had finished his apprenticeship in art on the continent. But when he never had a son, only girls, they had transferred the title of Heir Slytherin to Marcus, who had several sons able to speak parseltongue. "I still struggle with being that diplomatic."
"Don't be too hard on yourself, Harry. You and father have come far in removing a lot of the bad laws and senseless bans. And you're a renowned artist." Marcus once again placed his hand on Harry's shoulder, shaking him a little. "You did finish that portrait of father. We won't lose him completely."
Harry brushed his brother's hand away. Marcus really was trying to comfort him, but Harry didn't want to be comforted. "Portraits are not my main… Please, Marcus, let me wallow in my guilt and grief. The fact that we needed to go to Albania for this should be hint enough that this isn't some benign magic. And regardless of my understanding of father's reasons for this," Harry waved his hand around the rune circle, the pyre, and the members of their family gathered around, "I still would rather keep my father." Harry would have been happy if there was no country allowing the use of a willing human sacrifice, because as bizarre as it was, his father wouldn't go against the law to do this.
Marcus sighed and embraced Harry. "I know, brother, I would rather keep him too."
While Marcus wandered back towards his immediate family, Harry turned around to wait for other guests, fighting to keep his Occlumency going.
When he saw who had just arrived Harry smiled a little, despite the tense situation. "Severus, Sonja, I'm happy you could make it." Harry embraced first Sonja – her hair gone completely grey by now – and then Severus, once again marvelling how much their relationship had changed since Severus had been Professor Snape.
"We are too," Sonja said with a sad smile. "Sadly, the twins couldn't make it. As the Heads of Slytherin and Gryffindor," Severus made a face while his wife explained, but it was obvious that Severus was only joking, as he had done since the younger of the twins had been sorted into Gryffindor, "they had to go to the school early to prepare everything."
Desperate and full of tension, Harry turned fully towards Severus. "Please, Severus, did you find anything to cure father? If we could remove the reason father wants to go through with this ritual of his now, he could stop!" Harry knew the possibility that Severus had found something was slim, but he also knew that Severus didn't want his friend and Lord to die either.
"The healers haven't found anything, and I haven't found anything either. The onset of dementia is clearly tied to the fact that Marvolo's body was created through a dark magical ritual. Short of creating a new body and transferring his mind and soul to it, there is no way. And you know enough to realise that such an endeavour would be dark magic as well." Severus was patient – much more patient than he had been as a Potions Professor – while he explained.
"I know." Harry's voice was small and defeated.
"And I'm sure you tried to find a way to bind a book to the existence of magical humans, so it'll appear in all magical libraries, that doesn't need a willing human sacrifice." Harry nodded. He had tried, he really had. But it was useless. The requirements that Marvolo had written down for the ritual, and that he insisted on needed to be met, demanded a level of power that wasn't to be gained any other way. "I wish I didn't understand why father wants to do this. But I do… kind of." Making sure no other desperate teenager would find fragmented information, making a horrible mistake… Harry did understand. But he was anything but happy.
When Marvolo finished, he called everyone over. Marcus and Harry walked over to say their goodbyes. Lots of tears were shed as the Head of their families said farewell to everyone.
Harry really didn't want to let him go and held the embrace even as Marvolo carefully indicated that it was time to let go. .:Please, my son. I love you, but knowing that I will lose myself, I'd rather perform this ritual, giving my life willingly, than become a burden to you, your brother, and your families:.
Harry's hissed reply was almost choked with his tears. .:I love you. I'll miss you:.
Later, Harry would only remember snatches of the ritual: Marvolo climbing onto the pyre, his book – to be magically bound to be available everywhere, anytime – and an athame the only things with him.
The sound of blood and the flare of the fire starting and consuming the body of Lord Marvolo Slytherin.
An important part of Harry's life had just ended. Later Tara wrapped her arms around Harry, offering her silent support as their daughters who had finished school – the youngest one hadn't been able to come – gathered around them. There was a future here. With time Harry would learn to look forward and remember his father fondly. But for today and the near future he would mourn his father.
AN: I want to thank you all for four years of fun. If there had been no reaction to my story I don't know if I would have finished it. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun as well as a good practice for my English and writing skills. Not sure what I'll be writing next, but I'm sure I'll keep writing.
People have mentioned this should have a warning and as I can see where they are coming from with this I decided to add it.
That I leave a lot of the side plots open and some changes unexplained is intentional and matches with what I like about stories. I know it's not to everyone's taste and am aware that there is a lot that could be written still, but I wanted to concentrate on Harry, Marvolo, and Severus and their start of healing. The world and people around them were important to show them and their journey, which is why I decided to not start concentrating on them instead.
Once again I want to express my thanks to Jordre and Jake who have helped me remove a great many of my usual errors and typos from the chapters before I published them. It was a delight working with them.
First published on the 3rd of October 2019 (exactly four years after I published the very first chapter)
Last edited on 11th of October 2019