Harry awoke in the Hospital wing at Hogwarts. At some point, he had passed out from exhaustion, but he felt better as he sat up now. Harry looked about and smiled when he saw Sirius sitting next to him. His godfather look tired, but healthier than he'd ever been. Clearly traveling abroad agreed with him.
"Hey, welcome back, young man." Sirius said softly. "You gave us a bit of a start when you passed out."
"Sirius." Harry smiled, hugging his godfather. "What happened to you? I tried for weeks to get in touch with you."
"Yes, well, traveling as a muggle does have disadvantages it seems." Sirius chuckled, his face becoming red. "I was on a train outside of Munich when I was joined by a pleasant, if not rather large woman. I think she may have been related to your Uncle. She had a bit of a moustache, you see. Anyway, she sat on my bag, and broke the mirror. I couldn't make a new one without yours, as they need to be connected."
"That's actually much funnier than what Daphne came up with. She figured you had a romantic evening with a woman who stole the mirror."
"No, I always hid the mirror." Sirius sighed. "I've spoken with Neville and Tracey. They were let go almost immediately. I'm very proud of you, Harry. What you did was very brave. Foolish, but brave."
"I didn't know what else to do. I had to help you." Harry shrugged.
"Yes, well I couldn't have asked for a better rescue team. All of you performed fantastically."
"How is everyone?" Harry said looking around.
"Everyone is asleep. Ron is the worst. No one knows what he was hit with, but Madam Pomfrey is taking good care of him. He'll be asleep for a day or two, and that scar will never go away."
Harry stood and went to see the redhead. Sirius followed closely.
"He saved us all, Sirius. Several times in fact."
"Ron's heart has always been with you. Sometimes the mind has a hard time remembering that."
"I don't know what's going to happen between us." Harry shook his head sadly. Sirius clutched Harry's shoulder.
"Don't worry about it just yet. Sometimes friends grow apart. Sometimes you need distance so each of you can grow, then you come back together. The friendship will be different, but maybe it will be better. Give him a chance to decide, and then leave the past in the past, yeah?"
Harry nodded. He moved to where Hermione lay resting. "What happened to her?" He asked, a little panic rising in his voice.
"Well, not much, really. A few bumps and bruises, nothing to bad. She just refused to leave until she knew everyone was ok. She's fiercely loyal, that one."
Harry turned and went to where the person he wanted to see most was lying peacefully. Her black hair was fanned out on her pillow, and she looked angelic as she slept. Harry sat beside her and took her hand.
"Malfoy almost made me believe she had betrayed me, Sirius. I almost fell for it, and I could have lost her." Harry said glumly.
"But you didn't."
"Thanks to Ron. Sirius, when Voldemort was possessing me, I saw her. I saw you and Hermione, and as much as I hurt, as much as I wanted Dumbledore to kill me, I saw her and I wanted to live, to be with her."
"It's called love, son. It makes us stronger than we know. Makes us face impossible odds, and conquer our fears. It also makes us do silly stuff, all just to see the object of our love smile at us. It is the strangest, most powerful magic I have ever witnessed." Sirius smiled.
"It is indeed." Dumbledore smiled, a brilliant twinkle in his eye. "I see that you are well enough to be walking around, Harry. I wonder if you and Sirius would be so kind as to join me in my office for a very long overdue conversation."
The walk to the Headmaster's office was slightly exhausting to Harry, but he made it just fine. Sirius and he were sitting in two high backed chairs facing the old wizard.
"First, Let me be the first to tell you that I have been reinstated as Headmaster, and that all of Madam Umbridge's ridiculous decrees have been thrown out. Also, she is being charged by the courts for possession and use of a blood quill which was found among her possessions. You will be need to testify against here at her hearing."
"I'll be glad to help put that vile woman away." Harry clenched his fist, the scars show stark against his skin.
"Next, I would like to tell you how immensely proud of you I am, Harry. You have gone so far above and beyond any expectations this year. First, with helping to do something that many have tried throughout the years. You have helped to finally put to rest the silly House rivalries at this school. You have led others to try to make friends in all of the different houses. No small feat by any means, Harry. I myself have been unable to help Slytherins and Gryffindor form friendships.
"And then, your amazing work in helping other students in learning Defense Against the Dark Arts. Were it not for your relative inexperience, and your age, I would seriously consider asking you to teach in the future. As it stands, I would ask that you consider continuing the club in the next year.
"And now, I must ask for your forgiveness. It seems, once again, I was mistaken in my choices." Dumbledore frowned. His eyes bore gazed at Harry as the young man seemed to be thinking.
"I don't understand, sir." Harry said, clearly confused. Dumbledore stood, and retrieved his Pensieve, setting it on his desk.
"Your godfather was correct. Not only should I have told you about the prophecy and it's contents, but I should have done it years ago. But I wanted to protect you, as any who meet you and experience your good nature rend to want to do. You, Harry, have come from a difficult life, and still managed to be one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
"But in my efforts, I became blind to your needs. You see, Harry, as I look at what needs to be done for the good of the world, I forget about the people in it. It is those people whom I am trying to protect that matter most. You matter most, and I have failed you." The Headmaster waved his wand, and a ghostly figure emerged from the shallow basin.
"The one with the power to vanquish the - Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…"
Harry couldn't breathe. He clutched his chest, and felt Sirius gripping his shoulder. Harry put his head down, trying to get blood going to his brain. He shut his eyes, tears burning him. Finally he knew the reasons he'd lost his parents. Harry knew why the prophecy was so important to Voldemort, and why He, Harry had been tricked into going to the Ministry to retrieve it.
"What does it mean?" He uttered.
"Harry, it meant nothing. Nothing at all, until Voldemort heard the first portion, which I understand you have been told of."
Harry looked up. His eyes were burning with the tears that spilled down his cheeks. "Why? Why did this all happen?"
"Because of jealousy, and the lust for power." Dumbledore said sadly. "You of course know all about Severus' mistake. But Voldemort is just as any others who have gained power. They are afraid of losing it. But Lord Voldemort's deepest fear is death. You, of course, heard him tell me that there was nothing worse than death, and he has taken many steps to see that he can never truly die.
"Harry, this prophecy could have been made about two different boys, you and Neville Longbottom. But he made it about you the night he murdered you parents. He marked you, Harry.
"But his greatest weakness is his inability to look at a problem from all its angles, and understand it's meanings. He is brash, and does not use his knowledge as he should. It was how he was defeated that night. Your mother placed herself between Lord Voldemort and yourself. When he killed her, he invoked a deep magic that rebounded the killing curse off of you and destroyed his body. That scar was Voldemort marking you his equal. Had he ignored the prophecy, none of this would have happened, and he would, perhaps, still have his original body and possibly be more powerful. But he chose to heed the prophecy without knowing it's entire contents.
"So I have to kill him, or he kills me? Is that how it works than?" Harry said, staring at the Pensieve.
"I am unsure of the true nature, as of yet." Dumbledore answered. "I have been doing extensive research into Lord Voldemort's past. I believe that understanding the past can help in solving the problems of the future. I have discovered how Lord Voldemort has conquered death, and begun taking steps to reverse it. It will take time, Harry, but I am doing my best to make sure that the Dark Lord will be defeated. I do know this about the Prophecy. It will be you who faces him. But I doubt you will be alone. As has been proven, you will have the help of your friends."
Harry swallowed thickly. He looked to Sirius, who was watching Harry with a mixture of pride and fear for what the boy would have to face.
"What happened to Voldemort when he possessed me?" Harry asked. Dumbledore sat back in his seat, a fond smile on his face.
"Your love for your friends. The most powerful magic there is, Harry. And Voldemort, who has never believed in it's power, and always felt was a weakness, has just learned how truly powerful it is. He felt it in you and it hurt him. I imagine when you saw Miss Greengrass, you felt warm inside, perhaps filled with a strength you've never felt before?"
Harry nodded and Dumbledore chuckled. "That was how you were able to throw him out of your mind, and hurt him. He will, I imagine, be physically scarred by it, a reminder, perhaps, of what he has again failed to understand and embrace.
"Harry, there is much more we need to discuss. I wish to tell you all I have learned and help prepare you for what must be done. But I think it prudent that you try to have fun, and live your life. Do not let this prophecy run your life as Lord Voldemort did.
"You should start this summer. You, of course, know that you will not be returning to you relatives, as the wards have failed. When Lord Voldemort took your blood to make his body, he negated the wards and they began to crumble. Perhaps if your aunt and uncle had treated you as their own, as I had suggested, the wards would have been harder to destroy. But it is too late for it, at any rate."
"What will happen to them?" Harry asked curious. He didn't care about his family, who had never showed him any thing but contempt.
"They have been moved out of the country. Your Uncle was given a promotion and sent overseas. They are quite happy in their new life." Dumbledore smiled genuinely.
"What happens to me?"
"As I understand it, you and Sirius will be traveling abroad for a month. While you are away, members of the Order will be putting every kind of protection on your new home. Quite a lovely place, on the coast. When you return from your travels, perhaps seeing some friends would be wise, and also, a special young lady…" The twinkle in the Headmaster's eyes were bright, and there was a hint of a smile.
"Won't they all be in danger now?" Harry asked.
"They were in danger the moment they were born, Harry." Sirius spoke up for the first time. "So long as Voldemort draws breath, danger hangs over us all, no matter if we associate with you or not. Remember that your friends give you strength, and it would be foolish to push them away."
"I could never do that. They showed me that today. I just want them as safe as possible." Harry said softly.
"Measures will be taken. Now, I think it wise for you to get back to the Hospital wing. Rest up, Harry, spend time with you friends, and try to think not of the prophecy, but of living your life. We shall speak again soon, and this I swear to you now." Dumbledore stood, looking meaningfully at Harry.
"No longer will you be kept in the dark, or not have the tools and information you need. Sirius has been correct all this time, and as wise as I am, it would do me well to heed the young."
Daphne awoke feeling refreshed, though her ankle still hurt a bit. She sat up in her bed and Madam Pomfrey rushed forward to check on her. After a few moments she pronounce Daphne fit, and allowed her to stand. She looked about and found the bed with her boyfriend. She rushed over to him, as he too was just now waking up.
"Hey." She said, sitting next to him.
"Hey. I'm sorry. None of us should have been there." He said honestly. Daphne caressed his cheek, and turned his head so he could look into her eyes.
"We went with you because it was the right thing to do. We'd all do it again in a moment."
"She's right." Said Neville sitting down next to Harry's bed. Tracey plopped down into his lap.
"I will always have your back." Neville smiled. Harry reached out his hand and Neville gripped it firmly. They nodded at each other and released the handshake.
"Where's Hermione?" Harry asked.
"Wondering what happens now." Said the bushy haired witch, who sat at the foot of Harry's bed. She looked tired, but otherwise fine. "Where do we go from here?"
"We live. We don't let anything or anyone stop us from having fun and enjoying life. Whatever comes our way, we'll deal with, but it's not going to run our lives." Harry said. He looked at each of them in turn, and they all nodded agreement.
"Well you're not doing it without me." Ron said. He was hobbling over to them on crutches. "I screwed up big this year, and it took nearly losing you all to see what you truly meant to me, even the Slytherins." He said grinning. "I'm not going to make those mistakes anymore. I'm truly sorry for the way I was before…"
"Ron." Neville smiled. "I think you made up for it already."
"I'm not asking for forgiveness here." Ron said quietly.
"But you have it." Daphne smiled. "Now, sit down before you fall down."
Ron nodded, smiling at them, as Hermione helped him to sit on Harry's bed.
"So what do we do now?" Tracey asked. "I mean, we fought Death Eaters, which my parents are going to freak out over."
"You've never had a howler from my mother." Ron said, ears turning pink.
"We never did catch Malfoy, either." Daphne sighed. "He's going to keep on torturing people next year."
"I think he's going to have bigger problems" Hermione smiled. "His father was taken to Azkaban, and the Ministry has launched a full investigation on the family. Malfoy may not have anything but the clothes on his back before too long."
"The Ministry's wising up then?" Harry asked.
"Hard to keep denying the Dark Lord's back when he's at the Ministry." Daphne smile, brushing Harry's hair with her fingers. Harry looked at his girlfriend and sighed.
"So, I'd really like it if you all came to visit." Ron said. They all looked at him. "Mum's a great cook, and we can play Quidditch, and swim in the pond."
"Sounds nice." Tracey smiled.
"It won't be until August." Harry said. "Sirius and I are traveling around. I'll bring you lots of gifts."
"You'd better." Daphne punched his arm. Harry pulled her close and kissed her softly.
"August is good for me. Hermione's coming to my house for a bit." Tracey smiled at the bushy haired witch. Hermione looked up surprised. "I live close to Daphne, so it'll be easy for us to get together. And Neville's just a floo call away."
"Oh, so we get to watch you snog you boyfriend?" Daphne asked playfully. Neville began turn red, but Tracey shook her head.
"No, but you do get to hear all the details."
"Oh, god." Neville groaned and everyone laughed.
"You know, Harry, now that you've faced the Dark ponce for the hundredth time, your next task should be a breeze." Daphne said sweetly.
"What task?" Harry looked up puzzled.
"Meeting my parents." Daphne grinned, as Harry's face as it went white.
Ron was released from the Hospital wing in time for the Leaving Feast. The group of friends couldn't sit together, as it was traditional to remain at their house tables, but they waved and smiled at each other throughout the feast.
They all noticed the absence of Draco Malfoy, who had been locked in his Dorm room for the past week, sulking, so Blaise had informed them.
The next morning, Neville and Harry helped Ron to the entrance hall and into a carriage, where Luna Lovegood sat. She began engaging Ron in conversation, which Ron could barely keep up with. Blaise, not wanting to miss the show, took Susan's hand and jumped into the carriage with the odd pair, and the rest watched as the carriage began winding it's way to the train platform.
"Luna's been asking about Ron for months now." Ginny grinned, watching the carriage go. "Someone like her would help him to open his eyes and mind. She's not as batty as she appears, you know."
Harry and the rest watched as Ginny joined Dean Thomas, Seamus and Lavender in another carriage.
"Hermione?" Called a voice and they all turned to see Zacharias Smith holding a carriage door open.
"Well, I shall see you all on the train." Hermione waved and sauntered toward Zacharias, who was smiling coyly. When Hermione reached the carriage she kissed Zacharias softly and he helped her into the carriage.
"When did that happen?" Neville asked, mouth hanging open
"A week before exams." Tracey smiled after her bushy haired friend. "He found her crying over Anthony, and they just talked. He's liked her for ages anyway. Close your mouth sweetheart."
"Plus, he's a Hufflepuff, and their fiercely loyal. He'll be good for her." Daphne nodded approvingly. "When are you leaving?"
Harry smiled, and kissed his girlfriend. "Right after we get off the train. Sirius is sending my stuff on to the house, but we're not going there. In fact, I've no idea where we're going."
"You had better write to me." Daphne said elbowing the boy in the ribs playfully.
"I will. And I promised to return with loads of gifts."
"Invitation is open, mate. As soon as you get back, you're welcome to visit." Neville smiled as he climbed into the carriage.
"I'm thinking of having everyone at my new house. It's on the beach, from what I understand, and not far from a muggle amusement park. Sirius has been dumping all kinds of money into this place. I can't wait to see it."
"That'd be interesting to go to a muggle amusement park. I've heard they're loads of fun." Tracey said, climbing into the carriage after Neville. Harry helped Daphne into the carriage, and looked back to the distant castle.
"Just remember one thing, Harry." Daphne said when he settled into the seat next to her. "You're going nowhere until you've properly said hello to my mother and father."
"I promise." Harry said. Daphne settled closer to him, and nestled her head onto his shoulder. Harry watched the forest go by him, thinking of how great his summer was shaping up to be.
He looked about at his friends, and thought of Ron, and Hermione and Blaise, Susan, Fred, George and all the others who had become his family. He thought of Sirius and Remus, and the Weasleys. The thoughts filled him with warmth, and he knew that he had something that was telling him he could beat Voldemort. He had something worth fighting for. Love.