Chapter 55 - June 25th, 1998

Harry James Potter graduated from Hogwarts with little fanfare. As far he was concerned at least. Declining to ride the train the last time he missed the reporters at the station. Of course he also missed his godfather and werewolf professor as well not that he cared.

He was pleased with his grades for the most part. Five Outstandings in Defense, Runes, Potions, Divination, and Healing, which he'd continued to study with Madame Pomfrey every year he was actually in the school but learned much of the craft from other parselmages in Australia and Brazil. Calypso actually came to the graduation ceremony and gifted him with a silver scrying bowl and Mr. Goyle had offered him some contracting work. Four Exceeds Expectations in Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, Herbology, and Transfiguration. His only Acceptable was in History. According to the examiner his exam paper included too much speculation reminding Harry that not everyone had access to a founder's journals like he did. It reminded Hermione that he still needed to translate them for her.

Hermione to absolutely no one's surprise but her own graduated with all Outstandings in all of her subjects. She was quite pleased to have beaten even Percy in this as she'd also kept up with Healing and so had 13 to his 12. She was to start working in the library in Diagon next week which pleased her to no end. She was dragging Harry apartment hunting in Diagon next week too.

Ron managed an Outstanding in Charms, Defense, and Care of Magical Creatures. His Transfiguration and Herbology Exceeded Expectations. Not that he cared a great deal. He'd led the Gryffindors to a final victory and had been scouted to a Canadian team. His portkey left almost immediately after the ceremony to the dismay of his mother. He gave Hermione, Luna, Neville, Harry, and his family all fierce hugs and a promise to send them tickets before he disappeared his lovingly maintained Cleansweep in hand.

Neville had actually achieved more Outstandings than Harry. Defense, Charms, Herbology, Transfiguration, Arithmancy, and to absolutely everyone's surprise but mostly his own, Potions. His Gran was almost beside herself in shock. She immediately began talking about the Auror program but for once Neville, who now towered over his gran didn't cringe in front of her demands. He was leaving with Harry in a month for Africa and would not be swayed. His gran looked almost as proud of him for standing up to her as she did about his grades.

As everyone began to head towards Hogsmeade and the train Harry stayed behind.

"Mr. Potter?"

Harry didn't turn at Professor McGonagall's call.

"Aren't you leaving with your friends my boy?" The Headmaster asked.

Harry turned around and smiled at them. "No Headmaster. I think I'll stick closer to home for a little while." With a turn he apparated from Hogwart's front lawn to the Professor's shock.

Down in the Chamber of Secrets Basilisk pulled the James Potter wig from his head and gleefully burned the thing. Harry James Potter was no more. Basilisk Mars climbed the stairs to his bedroom and ran himself a hot bath as he began to massage his scalp.

Hours later a tall man with long red hair and slit green eyes that glowed too brightly out of his dark hood scrolled along the streets of Knockturn Alley. His smile was too sharp and his tongue seemed forked and one hag who tried to rob him fell screaming in the streets after a flash of blue scales moved from beneath his robes. Sly men with daggers in their boots and women with potion stained hands bought little yellow vials he pulled from his cloak. He jingled when he walked his sibilant hiss of "Venom for sale" a song in time with his steps. The Venom Peddler was born.