1 and a bit years later...
After arriving in New Zealand and finding his way to the Matakitaki River School of Magics, Harry Potter, formerly of Hogwarts, formerly of the United Kingdom, formerly...dead, felt like this was somewhere he could enjoy and embrace life.
The Fiordland National Park had become a favourite of his, by broom or by water he found the landscape magical.
There was something just...
He frequently found himself just lying back, somewhat awkwardly on his broom as he coasted through the lakes and mountains.
He had also learnt so much in his 10 or so months here, the Matakitaki River School of Magics having an entirely different perspective on magic and its relationship with the peoples of New Zealand.
He didn't know when he'd decided not to continue his journey onwards to the rest of the world.
He felt...content, calm, relaxed.
There were few people here that knew him. That knew what happened to him.
The magical community, as it were, was far less constrained than in Britain with a seemingly vague open acknowledgment of magic.
According to the teachers at the Matakitaki River School of Magics they were a bit more relaxed down here on the South Island.
He'd so much enjoyed himself he'd rented a house in Manapouri, in part because Hermione had finished Hogwarts and wanted to visit to see 'what he'd been up to'.
For much of his stay he'd been staying with teachers of the school, or their friends, it seemed everyone was curious about his time at Hogwarts and what followed. Few wizards made their way down here, and fewer still actually came to learn, they'd even wanted him to teach. He'd refused, he really didn't think he had the knowledge to be teaching whole lesson's worth, but he'd given some talks, here and there about his experiences, with the law, with fighting and his experience facing Voldemort. He'd found it somewhat liberating, sharing his experiences, with people who didn't shudder at Voldemort's name and who took his decisions seriously, understanding why he'd done the things he'd done in the way he'd done them.
Ron, according to Hermione's letters, he said very few things when he'd written, had said he was going for a Quidditch team, as well as something in the Ministry and couldn't come down immediately after finishing Hogwarts.
-/ - \\-
"Merlin Harry," Hermione exhaled as he let go of her.
"Beautiful isn't it?" Harry said looking at the mountains.
"Far," Hermione finally said.
Harry nodded. Even for an expert and capable wizard getting to New Zealand was difficult.
He'd after all come by ship.
But it was possible to apparate.
You could get most of the way from Britain in short hops through Europe and Asia and across Australia without going over huge stretches of water.
Then you either apparated to Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island and then the North Island of New Zealand.
Or from Tasmania to the South Island.
He had recently done that, just out of curiosity.
His friends he'd made at the school had suggested a big breakfast because it'll 'knock the shit out of you bro'.
And it did, by Merlin it did.
It was more than 1500 kilometres, across the sea.
Or you could create a portkey, which was how a lot of New Zealand witches and wizards got around internationally.
It wasn't as locked down as in Britain.
But you still needed to be registered to do it, there were oodles of paperwork to complete in order to get the correct certification for it.
Those who needed to learned to apparate the distance. But from what he understood the relative ease and without thought that he did so was still rare outside of New Zealand. Even Australian wizards had issues apparating to New Zealand, though around their own sizeable country they did so with ease.
"So this is where you've been living," she said looking around the kitchen of the weatherboard house.
Harry turned around from putting the kettle on. "Nah. Just rented it, wanted to see what it's like living here," he said as he explained he'd been living around the place, sometimes on people's couches.
Hermione seemed shocked and surprised. "A bohemian lifestyle Harry?"
"I thought you were going travelling?" Hermione challenged lightly.
Harry shrugged. "I got stuck, there's something about this place Hermione."
"But you're going to come back, to live in Britain aren't you Harry?" Hermione asked in a hopeful tone.
Harry realised he'd remained silent for too long when the kettle whistled breaking the silence.
"Harry?" Hermione prompted.
"I'm not sure Hermione," he said pouring the water into the teapot. "There's something about throwing some brews into the chilly bin and going fishing."
Hermione stared at him. "I genuinely don't know what you're talking about Harry Potter," she said with a broad smile. "But you sound relaxed."
"I feel it. I don't have to actively worry about the Ministry, my on-going legal pursuits," he paused.
"How is that Harry?" Hermione asked curiously.
"On-going. It might be resolve-" He was cut off.
"That's good," Hermione said.
"Sometime this decade," Harry finished.
"Oh, Harry you're not serious?" she asked, incredulous.
Harry wished he weren't. He didn't get regular updates, well not daily. Rather it was more like monthly updates from his lawyers. Now that he was away from the Ministry's pursuits, and more to the point a lot less people actually wanting his head it was down to his lawyers and the Ministry to work things out, or not.
His investments were all ticking over making money, essentially he could do whatever he wanted.
He didn't need to worry or even think about Voldemort or Hogwarts or anything, he needn't return to those subjects at all.
Though he did, frequently.
"And you don't mind, talking about it Harry? At Hogwarts with Lockhart and..." Hermione trailed off as she bit into a biscuit.
Harry exhaled a sigh. "A bit of time lends perspective Hermione. I can consider how Ron reacted, what Dumbledore did, what he might have done and...everything. I've found it insightful to discover other people's perspective on things, to learn," he paused. "Plus no one knows me, no one knows me as a paragraph in Hogwarts: A History, or some story."
Hermione nodded. "Information came out when we were finishing Hogwarts, about how you fought Voldemort. It's more like a chapter now," she finished.
Harry smiled in amusement. "I suppose it might have done. I didn't hear much."
Hermione gave him a look. "You need Hedwig back so you can get your post properly Harry."
"You don't like having her?" Harry asked, curious.
"She's yours Harry, I don't think she will let me forget that. Especially as you seem settled here," she observed.
"Not here." Harry looked around the house.
"No. Here." Hermione emphasised.
Harry smiled and nodded. "I suppose I am."
-/ - \\-
1 more year and a bit later...
Harry was down at the docks, watching as a sailing ship finished pulling into the port and began to be tied tightly to the dock.
It had been a little over 6 months since he'd last seen the person on the ship and a little over double that since he'd last seen the only other person who'd come to visit him. Said person, one Ms Hermione Granger was making waves in the wizarding research community, so the journals he received said.
Hedwig had taken to the long flights, his initial concern about her long distance flying seemed unfounded. Although he had said to her that it mattered not at the speed of her deliveries, just that she and they got there.
He'd not received a visit from Ron and his letters had tailed off since Ron had finished Hogwarts. Harry suspected that it was just one of those things, some people remained friends after school and others...the jealous, paranoid types perhaps they didn't.
Harry'd received some letters from Fred and George who were supposedly ignoring their mother's desires for them to pursue some sort of wizarding industry for commercial potions or something and instead become businessmen. It sounded rather interesting. They'd mentioned in roundabout ways that financing the thing was the hardest. He'd thought about offering them money, but hadn't, instead he'd asked his lawyers to draft a loan agreement for them.
It seemed that the goblins' loan terms were rather complicated and the two Weasley brothers were an unknown quantity.
But in some instances you just had to go with your 'gut feeling' and work on trust. It was something he still wished Ron had done, back at Hogwarts. Even though he told himself that was the past.
A woman, walking down the just-placed gang plank broke him out of his considerations.
"Good to see you continue to be prompt as reported Harry," she said as they embraced in greeting.
Harry smiled at her. He'd become a sort of unofficial shipping agent for them, their old agent having decided to return to Britain shortly after they had deposited him in New Zealand.
He'd offered to take over while he found his feet here, and...it was only once every couple of months if that, in which he had to come down here and meet the ship and check its manifest.
"I've brought my husband on the trip this time," Astoria Greengrass said conspiratorially to him.
"Husband?" Harry asked. He'd met her sister Daphne once or twice, but it seemed she was more on the technical side of the Greengrass' shipping and logistics company. Astoria was more swashbuckling and travelling.
"Potter," said a voice attached to a blonde man.
"Harry Potter." Astoria corrected.
"He's your agent?" Malfoy seemed surprised.
"Hello Draco," Harry said neutrally as he held out his hand to the other man. They'd corresponded once or twice since he'd left Britain but not much. Enough to satisfy his father that their agreement stood and held water.
"Potter," he shook his hand, he wore a neutral expression on his face. "So this is where you've decided to hide from wizarding Britain."
Harry laughed. "Hardly, hide. It's not impossible to get here."
"If you've the right vessel." Astoria commented slightly.
"Indeed and the right captain," Harry praised.
"Are you flirting with me Mr Potter? My husband is right here," Astoria teased.
Harry chuckled. "Never. We barely know each other."
"Why don't you two men go for a walk and let me get on with my work," she ordered.
"Yes ma'am," Harry gestured away from the pier. "Take a walk Draco?"
"Fine Potter," Malfoy said buttoning up his coat against the wind.
They walked in silence for a time. "Will you ever call me Harry?" Harry asked the other man.
"What?" Draco seemed surprised by the question.
"We are a long way from Hogwarts, and time passed," Harry mused philosophically.
"Weasley, I've heard pines for you," Draco said changing the subject.
"You will have to be more specific, there are a lot of Weasleys, I wouldn't want to think that Percy Weasley sitting in his room pleasuring himself to a photo of me," Harry commented wickedly making Draco stumble.
"Potter, vulgarity is unbecoming," he coughed. "The youngest, Ginevra."
"Ah," Harry said. "Hermione did mention that I had achieved some sort of celebrity status with the revelation of the defeat of-"
"Voldemort," Draco cut him off. "I can say his name. He was a...betrayal," he said after a pause.
"A betrayal? Are you harbouring pureblood elitist desires?" Harry asked curiously. "Biding your time to overthrow the government?" He continued in a somewhat playful tone.
"Hardly Potter," Draco turned around to look back at his wife's ship, only the masts were visible from where they had walked to. "No one wishes to be in the Ministry, real power is not there."
"Wielded elsewhere behind the scenes perhaps?" Harry asked, ever curious about Malfoy's world, he'd seen bits of pieces of it during his still ongoing legal matters. Enough to know how to play.
"By my father perhaps," Draco mused. "You successfully tempered it amongst our peers."
Harry was taken aback by the statement. "Me?"
Draco looked at him amused by his bemusement. "Time past has revealed that much. You wielded what limited power you had well Potter, using the power of the wizard" he paused "and muggle legal systems for your own ends. You dealt wisely with my father and my peer's guardians for an outcome which was beneficial. It remains on going, your effect."
"I also had a prophecy to contend with" Harry added.
"Which, Potter you dealt with, without destroying our society and without an impact on the muggle world," Draco paused. "There were rumours Dumbledore was going to enlist muggle militia to engage those who mistakenly followed Voldemort," he said in a conspiratorial tone.
Harry smiled. "Nothing Draco surprises me about our former headmaster," he paused. "How would you like to see something amazing?" Harry asked curiously, changing the subject.
Draco looked at him oddly. "Astoria will be expecting-"
Harry cut him off pulling out a small notebook from his pocket and wrote out a set of coordinates on the page, pulling the perforated page out with one hand and folding it one handedly as he replaced the notebook in his pocket and balanced the page on his wand. Then he lifted it rapidly into the air where it took flight.
"Wordless magic and with such ease Potter, your travels have been an education," Draco praised.
"I haven't travelled Draco, I got on one of your wife's ships and ended up here," Harry said offering Draco his hand.
"Here?" Draco sounded surprised. "There was talk, Granger and your associate Weasley-"
"You've got some obsession with the Weasleys Draco, surely they're beneath you to be obsessed with," Harry teased. "Come on." He looked at the other man. "Unless you don't trust me to side along you."
Draco snorted. "I don't trust anyone outside of my family Potter," he took his hand. "But you faced death for the benefit of the wizarding world. Few wizards can claim that."
"I faced Voldemort for rather more selfish reasons. I wanted to live," he disapparated.
"The survival of the wizarding world was rather more of an afterthought." Harry finished.
"Merlin," Draco exhaled.
They were stood in a secluded part of the Fiordland National Park, although much of it was, isolated and secluded.
Harry felt that, like the rest of New Zealand secrets both wonderful and awesome lay around every corner.
"Come on, there's a hut just up here, I'll make you a cup of tea." Harry said gesturing up the small hill.
"But Astoria," Draco began.
"I gave her coordinates next to the hut," Harry said. "Please, I do know how to give apparition instructions Draco."
Draco followed Potter as they entered the small hut, Potter walking in he fired a spell, wordlessly at the fire that was inside the hut.
It was a very simple hut, seemingly used by muggles for shelter.
"It's used by wizards as well" Potter explained seemingly guessing by his curious looking around the room. "You'll see at the back wall there's a panel there hiding some things protected so muggles can't see."
Draco cursed that he had not noticed when he'd entered the hut, but there was a small panel.
"There's some wizarding blends of tea in there. The milk's muggle, long life I come up here infrequently, but keep the milk and regular tea here in case muggles make it up here. There's some cake there."
"Inside the preservation dome. I see Potter, how very thoughtful of you," he said taking it out. "Do many wizards come here?" He asked. Draco did not know much of the Antipodes' wizarding culture that Potter seemed to inveigled himself into in a short amount of time. He admitted as much to Potter who was busying himself putting the kettle on top of the stove.
"It's a smaller though more open community, everyone's been very friendly," Potter said with his back to the fire. "I feel like there's something still very mysterious here Draco," he paused. "What made you jump on a ship with Astoria?"
Draco was somewhat taken aback by Potter's casual questioning of his marriage, it took him a moment to remember Potter was not one of his peers, they had come together because Potter had been adept enough to recognise how to play his father. But that was what made Potter intriguing. "I have married into a highly successful family Potter."
"I know. Most of the wizarding trade that comes through New Zealand is carried by the Greengrasses."
"Most?" Draco thought that his wife's family had a monopoly on the trade to this country.
"Some wizards apparate some bits and pieces across over to the Australia," said Potter casually.
Draco was surprised. The span of water was not inconsiderate.
"Not everyone's capable, I've done it here and there to Tasmania and back, it's not easy. You need a big breakfast in you" Potter explained noticing his surprise.
Draco nodded, he knew such an expanse of water was taxing on a wizard to apparate such a distance. Even just carrying a small bag taxed a wizard's concentration that little bit more. "I imagine there are other carriers in Australia for them?"
Potter nodded. "I don't know how many others. As your wife's family brought me out here and while I've been their agent I've not needed to look elsewhere. But I do know some wizards sometimes go over to Europe and use a muggle shipping container to fill up with stuff and then send it back down here. It works out cheaper and faster in some respects."
Draco frowned. "Shipping container?"
"Those steel oblong things, you'd have seen them around the docks, they're all standardised so muggle machines can pick them up and move them easily," Potter explained as the kettle began to boil. "Remember muggles have to use machines to move vast loads."
"Because they lack magic," Draco realised. He had briefly forgotten Potter had lived with muggles raising him. He now seemed adept at magic, the casual way he had sent a message to Astoria spoke of a wizard who was very capable with magic and adept in its usage in a way that even some purebloods are not. Too used to having house elves and the like to assist.
"Exactly. Although there is something to be said for standardisation of shipping. I see the appeal, packing a container full of stuff from Europe." Potter paused and gave him a look. "Not that I really have to be concerned with money, saving is good, but..."
Draco smirked. "You do not need to be coy relating to money Potter. You and I are both aware of one another's wealth."
Potter nodded. "Somehow, I still feel somewhat ashamed, I think whenever I've spoken with Ron in the past..." Potter trailed off shaking his head. "I've invested, I have my money spread out a lot away from the claws and fees of the goblins. I think," he paused gesturing three old arm chairs and the table where they might sit. "I think I can enjoy my life, whatever that might be without feeling guilty, associate with whomever I want."
Draco nodded as he gestured with his wand pouring tea out of the tea pot into three mugs Potter had brought over. "And your legal issues Potter?"
Potter smirked. "Even you're curious, Astoria questions me about it."
"Do I hear my name?" Said his wife as she walked in. "Breathtaking Harry Potter, breathtaking. I can see why you have chosen to run away from Britain." She sat down beside him.
"Draco was questioning me about my legal problems," Potter said with a casualness that few had with his wife.
"Do tell Harry, Draco's ever so curious, there's few who have had such drawn out processes in magical Britain," Astoria relaxed into the chair.
Potter leaned pack, gesturing the cake over to the table as he did so. "I don't believe I'll ever return to Hogwarts. Durmstrang and Beauxbatons should have concluded their legal proceedings against the Ministry for their involvement in this affair."
"Oh, does that mean you could visit those schools?" Astoria asked curiously.
Potter nodded. "Probably. They're now in a similar position as I am. But more so outliers, if another Triwizard is held they will be able to participate without any legal worries. Supposedly I'll hear sometime next year or so of an outcome of all of this, the lengthy process it's been," Potter said sipping from his mug.
4 years later on...(6 years since Harry left Britain)...
It had been about 6 years. Harry thought to himself.
Six years since he'd been back to Britain.
Harry Potter found he already missed his newly adopted home.
A little more than 8 months ago, after travelling around Australia and New Zealand and a few outliers in that part of the world he'd decided to join New Zealand permanently, as a dual citizen. He'd not wanted to renounce his birthplace, but had found in New Zealand a sense of place.
He still wasn't sure what he was going to do, aside from continue as he had, speaking, very occasionally teaching and still learning. Plus investing, exploring, adventuring and discovering his new life.
He'd found that a lot of people wanted to hear his stories, of what he'd experienced and what he'd learnt along the way, and he found the experience of talking about it somewhat liberating.
But now he'd been summoned back to Britain and it was as he remembered. Yet not, he suspected that coming from New Zealand, especially the South Island, that he was experiencing a population shock. He'd not recalled this many people in London.
He'd sent messages off to his friends, associates and whomever else, when he found out he'd need to come back. So he could meet, have a chat, a meal and whatever else.
Ron, whom he'd so very infrequently communicated with in the past few years was off in America. Supposedly touring with a Quidditch team, but he had heard that he was also doing something for the Ministry.
Hermione was in the south of France researching something about new potions procedures or some such. He would go and meet her in France somewhere later once his business had concluded here.
So he'd written to Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy asking if they would like to meet for breakfast prior to his legal meeting.
Only Draco could attend. However both had offered their residence to stay in, while he was in Britain, this had been surprising.
Harry still found it amusing the association he'd struck up with the other man.
"You find it amusing because you think we should never have been friends Potter," Draco stated with some finality.
"You think we should have been, had my mind not been poisoned against all things Slytherin?" Harry asked as they ordered.
"My godfather is perhaps correct," Draco commented diplomatically. "You have done well, thus far Potter. Something of an eccentric."
Harry chuckled. "Aren't you also an eccentric then, by association?"
"Hardly, I can associate with a great many people Potter. You're the one dressed like a vagabond and wandering around from the unknown," Draco looked at him and his mode of dress pointedly.
Harry looked down at his battered sheepskin flying jacket. He'd bought it for a cheap price in an old second hand clothing shop in Bunbury when he'd been in Australia. Though he suspected it had been through more than two hands before it had arrived in his hands. But it was warm and spoke of history, the exterior had revealed as he'd begin carefully restoring and fixing it innumerable previous dangers the jacket had encountered; two bullet holes and evidence of at least 5 obscure spells that had been fired at a previous wearer of it.
"This jacket has history and character, I know for a fact it was owned by a wizard," he revealed, explaining to Draco its history.
"Then I applaud you Potter," Draco mockingly clapped.
"You're maintaining history. By dressing like a vagabond," he countered with a smirk.
Harry laughed again. "Come on Draco, let's go and eat."
Harry was sure his lightened mood from breakfasting with Draco would soon be crushed by his meeting at the Ministry of Magic, with the new Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour.
Lyle was there, who looked more relaxed, probably because he wasn't hanging around making trouble for the lawyer.
Then the Ministry's law professional laid out what Ministry proposed.
For a moment afterwards Harry was somewhat speechless.
"If Mr Potter could have a few minutes to consider your proposal," Lyle broke the silence.
Both the Minister and his legal assistance acquiesced and departed.
"That's one hell of an offer," Harry leaned back in the chair, blown away at just the commas in the amount that was literally on the table.
The Ministry was accepting full responsibility for the Triwizard cup affair. They would accept all of his legal costs, all of his education costs and all of his housing costs because he hadn't been able to attend Hogwarts. They would print a written apology in the news media and make a verbal statement on the wireless.
They were also offering a considerable amount in compensation.
They'd written it out for him. It was a very long number. On a very long scroll.
"How did they arrive at that number?" Harry asked.
"You understand you won't be able to set foot in Hogwarts, for them the law is too difficult to change. The exceptions exist, when Dumbledore dies, as the overseer of the original tournament and cup he is tied to it. He has also not accepted any of the responsibility in this agreement, so we can still pursue legal action against him."
"I see. I had accepted Lyle that I wouldn't set foot in Hogwarts ever again." Harry said with some sadness. "But it has been several years since I even set foot in this country, even more so since I did Hogwarts."
"In part it is compensation, for not being able to go to Hogwarts, they've used a lot of different metrics for this. There is the loss of potential employment had you continued at Hogwarts, they also used your NEWT-equivelant scores to work that out," Lyle paused. "There is probably a small amount of money to entice you back to Britain, they would be aware of your move to New Zealand."
"That's not a requirement is it?" Harry asked in a worried tone.
"No, just my speculating Harry," Lyle reassured.
"And there's no strings attached aside from Hogwarts?" Harry asked.
"No," Lyle said.
"I think I should accept, put this part of my life behind me," Harry said after very little thought.
"A wise decision I think Harry," Lyle said.
-/ - \\-
Harry Potter stood at the gates of Hogwarts, aware he couldn't go in.
"Mr Potter. How good to see you," said an elder voice.
"Minerva McGonagall, you're looking very spry and youthful," Harry praised as she stepped out onto the recently banished of snow path to Hogwarts.
"Thank you Mr Potter, you are looking well. Travelling suits you? I assume you are still travelling?" She asked. He had sent a message to her mentioning he was back in England.
"I didn't quite," Harry explained.
"I see, well, it agrees with you Mr Potter. Albus informs me you have made arrangements with the Ministry," she said as they slowly walked along the path.
"Yes," Harry didn't elaborate. "I just thought while I was in the country I'd come by, see you."
"That's very kind Mr Potter, you could have done very well at and after Hogwarts," she said.
Harry nodded. "I wanted to see if I could do more."
"More? Mr Potter, you defeated one of most dangerous wizards of our generation. That is not something to shy away from," she said.
Harry smiled. "I don't mean chest beating," he said. "I'd like if you'd allow to tell my story, what I've learnt from...all this. I want the students to know that there are other options."
"For when you're presented with none?" The Professor enquired with a raised eyebrow.
"It's something of what I've been doing some of the time around New Zealand, I also pop over to Australia every now and then." Harry explained.
"'Pop' you mean to say you apparate between New Zealand and Australia Mr Potter?" She sounded shocked.
"A lot of wizards do it down there Professor," Harry commented in an amused tone, but added "It is hard."
"I have no doubt, it is one of the more difficult passages for apparition Mr Potter," she agreed.
"If you don't want me to speak it's fine," Harry said almost regretting offering, but he'd wanted to offer. "It's not an ego trip, not like Lockhart, but I want them to know there's help in unlikely places and learning to be had in even more."
"I see Mr Potter, your proposal is unusual, though not unheard of. I understand because of your situation this presentation will need to be in Hogsmeade?" She asked.
Harry nodded. "Yes, I cannot for, while Dumbledore is alive along with other factors step foot in Hogwarts," Harry paraphrased.
"I will need to discuss this with the headmaster Mr Potter. Will you be in Britain long?" She enquired.
Harry nodded. "I'm catching up with Cedric later and some others from Hogwarts but I can make things work."
"And where will you be staying, so I might contact you when a decision is reached?" She asked.
"I'm staying with Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass-Malfoy," Harry paused. "I'm not sure if that's the Malfoys or the Greengrass-Malfoys." Harry wondered, he'd always dealt with Astoria as Astoria Greengrass, but she had joking said that both she and Draco had linked their families and names. But she often said that in jest. As he was pondering this he realised that McGonagall had stopped walking in pace with him. "Are you alright?"
"You have grown Mr Potter, few of your classmates would allow themselves to be accommodated with Mr Malfoy."
"I know Astoria better, but Draco and I have an association. What is in the past was..." Harry trailed off. "Silly children's stuff. We're adults, we can't be dragged down by what happened in the early days of our schooling or what house a talking hat puts us in."
This seemed to ruffle her. "That 'talking hat' as you put it has been a constant at this school for many-"
Harry held his hands up in sign a sign of resignation. "I'm not arguing, I'm just...not willing to be governed by its ruling. There is nothing that says two former students at Hogwarts can't have an association after they've left." Harry turned to look at her carefully. "I refuse to be governed or be held back by matters of the past." Harry paused. "I'll bid you good day Minerva," Harry said with a smile and disapparated noiselessly.
-/ - \\-
"You're very quiet Severus," Minerva observed the Potions Master had been quiet while she'd relayed Potter's visit to the Headmaster and Remus.
"Few wizards would have responded to Voldemort's danger in the way Potter did, and remained away from the podium as he has done," Severus said. "If Potter feels he has something to impart, so be it."
"I don't think it should be compulsory," Remus said. "Allow those who wish to hear him go."
"Have you heard much from him Remus?" Dumbledore asked a hopeful tone in his voice.
Remus shifted. "We have exchanged correspondence."
"Indeed," Severus seemed to agree also.
Minerva wondered if it was only herself and Albus Potter had not been corresponding with during the past few years.
"And where should I send our correspondence to? Harry does not have a residence in the United Kingdom that I'm aware of." Albus asked.
"He is staying with the Greengrass-Malfoys," she said. Remus seemed surprised. Severus did not.
"You are aware of their association Severus?" Albus asked.
"Potter had an understanding with Lucius regarding interacting with Draco. I was surprised it extended beyond that. That they have chosen to accommodate Potter while he is in the United Kingdom does not concern me." Severus rose from his chair. "Good day Minerva. Lupin," he said and flowed out of the room.
"Headmaster," Remus said leaving a moment later.
"I will craft a response, I think...I think perhaps Minerva you should send it to Harry." Albus paused. "We have much water under the bridge as the muggles like to say. He has been generous in his offer, I would not like to jeopardise the opportunity for the students," he said sounding slightly weary.
-/ - \\-
"Altruism Potter?" Draco shook his head.
Harry smiled at Draco. "Surely competition is good. I don't mean to give money away willy nilly. Just a helping hand."
"You will expect repayment?" Astoria asked as she buttered some toast.
He was still considering the details. Some years ago he had leant some money to Fred and George, although he'd almost had to force it on them. They now had a valuable business and his loan had been easily repaid, something they were still extremely thankful for, though something they did not shout out about.
He wanted to do something similar, maybe something bigger, he wasn't sure. Some sort of organisation for witches and wizards that needed assistance, advice, money or whatever. Maybe it could build into something...he wasn't sure. He wasn't really sure about any of it at the moment.
He had a very, in fact extremely large amount of money from the Ministry of Magic and he didn't just want it to go into his vault.
"I'm still not sure if it's a good idea. But if Draco's disbelief is anything to go by I think it is," Harry said in an amused tone.
"Or Potter you just want to be contrary to those of us who are at an elevated status to you." Draco challenged in an equally amusing tone.
Harry smiled. "Then why Draco have you allowed someone as lowly as me, if my status is so below you to stay?"
"Few people Potter are as intriguing as you. You curried favour with some of the most powerful families, with little more than a promise leveraging your own status," Draco paused. "Then you disappeared to the other end of the world, for only the most dedicated witch or wizard to seek you out."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "I didn't have anything else to leverage. You also forget, I also suggested to everyone, including Lucius that were I to die they could always pretend to have double crossed me," Harry said in a slightly more serious tone. "One would want to get away after that."
"You play with the risks Potter, astute," Draco almost praised.
"Indeed. You know how to gamble Harry. That's valuable," Astoria commented.
"I gambled with my life," Harry said as a house elf popped in with the morning's post.
Astoria floated two letters towards him. "A popular man."
"Hardly. I mentioned to Cedric that while I'm in Britain the Triwizard competitors should get together, and me. Survivors," he explained.
"And the other?" Draco asked.
"Draco!" Astoria chastised.
"A response from Hogwarts." Harry said opening the letter. "The Headmaster accepts my proposal...blah, blah, blah, grateful of my offer etc," Harry waved his hand. "Lots of waffle and a few dates they can accommodate."
"Better you than me Potter," Draco mused.
"Altruism unbecoming of a Malfoy Draco?" Harry queried.
"Influence is something cultivated Potter. Altruism is but one path. But I don't think you want that," he looked to him.
"No," Harry shook his head. "I thought I just wanted to get away. But I also want to share what I've learnt from my escape and the path there. Important that those at school know what's out there for them."
-/ - \\-
Harry stepped out onto the stage, it was one of the larger rooms in the post office.
The students were a mix of ages, some were probably at Hogwarts when he made his exit.
"Greetings to you all. My name's Harry Potter, I was once a student at Hogwarts for 3 and a bit years before I needed to make a quick exit, because events occurred and my options became limited," Harry began. He was being slightly more diplomatic for the Hogwarts crowd, aware that a lot of his former teachers were also in the crowd.
"He speaks well. Confidently," Minerva muttered to both Remus and Severus.
"More honest than I thought Harry would have been," Remus muttered in a soft tone.
"Indeed," Severus said quietly.
Harry picked up the tankard of water, he'd been speaking for a good hour and had mostly come to a natural conclusion.
"Now that I seem to have reached the end of my tales, are there any questions?" He said looking around.
"There's a rumour you were nearly sorted into Slytherin," shouted someone.
"I was going to say raise your hands, but we're not in class at the moment," Harry chuckled. "Yes. That's true," he said as a wave of muttering went through the room. "I would follow that up with that you shouldn't listen to some old hat."
Another more raucous sound went through the crowd.
"You will change your mind multiple times throughout your life, you will change ideas, you will grow and develop as a person," he paused. "Don't let the hat or your house determine who you are," he paused again. "I remain friends with those of my house at Hogwarts, and those in other houses. Even people I once disagreed with, argued with, mistrusted I am now on close terms with."
Harry stepped back bowing his head as the students before him applauded. He'd had some concerns, opening up himself to questions. But he had found that by talking about his life thus far he'd felt more open, more honest about his life.
All of it. Even the bits he had been ashamed of.
He stepped back into the small backstage area to allow the room to empty out. He didn't want to meet and chat to those in the room after the grilling they'd given him.
Even if it was at his own invitation.
When it sounded like most of the footsteps were gone he stepped back out into the room.
There was only one person standing there and it was the one man he didn't want to see.
But there he was.
"You spoke well Harry," the man in the long robes said.
"Albus Dumbledore," Harry spoke calmly. "Were you here under an invisibility cloak?"
The man held up a fleshy cord of some sort, holding it out in front of him.
Gesturing wordlessly with his wand Harry summoned them.
"They are a particular creation of the Weasley twins, quite, interesting," Dumbledore said with much appreciation in his voice.
Harry felt the fleshy thing between his fingers, it certainly had a...otherness quality to it. "Some sort of audio surveillance?" He wondered.
"'Extendable ears' my dear boy, quite magnificent," he said with a sparkle in his eye.
Harry had wondered, occasionally, and especially upon suggesting that he come here what he might say, were he confronted with Albus Dumbledore.
What could he say to the man who had dumped him at the Dursleys, who knew of the prophecy and the horcruxes and did nothing, the man, the wizard who had sent Sirius out on that task that had led to his death?
He'd not seen the man for over six years, and now he was stood before him. "Someone recently suggested that I kill you Albus," Harry lied. "That killing you would allow me the revenge on your multiple indiscretions and end most of the contract obligations." He continued to calmly lie. No one had suggested this.
"Mr Malfoy, I presume suggested this?" Albus Dumbledore wondered. "Death solves few problems Harry. I dearly wish those who lost their lives had not."
Harry forced himself not to let loose his emotions at Albus Dumbledore, no longer was he the Supreme Mugwump, that title had been lost in the past few years since his departure from Hogwarts and from Britain, Dumbledore having used his title one too many times, with many of Dumbledore's indiscretions of the past being discovered by the International Confederation of Wizards.
Harry instead of rising to anger allowed himself to be amused that Albus Dumbledore would so quickly jump to conclusion concerning the company he kept.
"Lucius and I have little to do with one another. Draco never suggested anything of the sort." Harry explained calmly.
It took a moment for Dumbledore to realise that he'd lied. "Why Harry?"
"Why not?" Harry asked. "How often did you lie to me, keep information, mistruths? How much pain, injury and suffering could have been avoided had you simply told the truth about Voldemort, Sirius...and me?" Harry pressed, maintaining a cool tone.
Dumbledore looked at him.
Harry couldn't feel anything, from Dumbledore, but mental defences were something he had continued to practice for a long while. It was like pulling on clean pants in the morning, something you did automatically, just in case you got hit by a bus.
Then the door opened. "Harry, the students are back at the castle, we'd like to take you for a drink...oh, headmaster." Remus suddenly stopped talking.
"It's quite alright Remus, I think, Harry and I have just finished speaking." Dumbledore gave him one final look and made to open the door.
Remus gave him a look as he opened the door wide for Dumbledore.
"I killed only one person, and I hoped from then I would never have to kill another person." Harry called to the headmaster. "That you think I would be capable of killing you Albus says more of you than I."
Dumbledore paused at the door before slipping out.
Remus gave him a look.
Harry shook his head. "Small lies told reveal big answers Remus," Harry said as he summoned his coat. "Let's have that drink."
-/ - \\-
I didn't always know I was going to end this story (more or less) with Harry in New Zealand, it's hard enough to get him away from Great Britain, but there's something about NZ and this Harry I can imagine throwing his jandals on and grabbing the chilly bin to go and get munted with some bros.
I was tempted to write more of this story. In this universe.
Harry may have formed an organisation and probably some sort of education institution like a university . This was something that was in my early drafts for this (and was even suggested more strongly than it is currently in previous chapters).
But it just didn't fit ultimately the style and themes for Harry's character.
So it ends here. Harry's legal situation is resolved with lots and lots of cash.
He's found himself a life, far away from where his life had been torn asunder, and he's returned to face it all, including Dumbledore.
Thanks for reading.