Harry Potter and the Brethren of Ares
Note: Here it is, folks, the epilogue. All the acknowledgements, thank yous, and sequel information can be found at the bottom of this page.
Epilogue: What Will Come Will Come
Harry knew better than to think. He knew better than to open his mind and reflect on the memories of that horrible night; he knew that he shouldn't think about Sirius or Bellatrix Lestrange; and he knew better than to examine the look on his best friend's face.
He knew better. So he didn't.
He turned his attention to the food on the plate in front of him. He hadn't eaten much, even though he knew he should've. The leaving feast was never wonderful, but he knew that he had to eat as much as he could before the summer. He knew better than to sit and not eat, so he reluctantly picked up a chicken leg and tore the flesh from the bone.
He knew that he should. So he did.
He knew that Hermione was sitting across from Ron and him, keeping up an endless chatter about Gryffindor winning the House cup, the N.E.W.T.'s, and whatever she could think of, desperately trying to engage Ginny or Ron into a conversation. He knew he should be helping her. But, he didn't.
Harry knew that there was only one way to really place smiles on the faces of the people he loved. He knew that his teachers were exhausted, knew that the Order needed help, and knew that everything rested on his shoulders. He was sixteen. He had a girlfriend, two best friends, a man who was somewhat like a father, and a mind he could stop from thinking. He knew that he didn't deserve the heavy burden that he would one day have to face. But he did have to face it one day.
That's was when Harry knew what he needed, what they all needed. Silently, he made a vow he knew he would keep. By the time he was eighteen, Voldemort would be dead, even if it meant that Harry had to die as well. He gave himself a little over a year to make things right again. He needed time to prepare. He'd have it.
He knew- and that knowledge would save them all.
The train ride was virtually silent. Ginny had fallen asleep almost immediately, her head tucked into the crook of Ron's shoulder, Ron's arm around her. Ron had succumbed to sleep a few moments later. Hermione took at a book and stared at it, but she wasn't reading. Her eyes weren't moving. Draco had entered the cabin at one point, but nothing he said got a rise out of Harry, or indeed, any reaction at all, so he had exited quickly.
Harry, for his part, sat in the seat closest to the window, his photo album opened to a picture from his parents' last day at Hogwarts. He watched the scene play out over and over: his father twirling his mother around in circles in front of the steps in the entrance hall, Peter laughing gaily near them, his arm around a pretty blonde; Remus sitting on the steps a few feet away from them, in between two brunettes, neither of which Harry recognized, and finally, Sirius, who slid down the banister over and over, tossing rose after rose at someone who was standing away from the camera. Harry looked at it for a long time, his mind carefully blank.
For a moment, Harry wondered where it had gone wrong.
Thankfully, they had arrived at the station. Hermione gave him a forced smile that didn't reach her eyes, before leaning to carefully wake Ginny and Ron up. Silently, the foursome retrieved their luggage, owls, and cat, and exited the train. Padma smiled at Harry from across the room, and motioned with her head towards his friends. He immediately knew that she meant she would speak with him whenever he had a chance. He gave her a small, thanking smile before returning his attention to the Weasleys.
Molly Weasley was the only one in the clan who had came to pick her children up. Wordlessly, she pulled her son and daughter into an embrace. Harry and Hermione stood a few feet off. Harry grabbed Hermione in a quick hug. She smiled softly at him before pulling away. "I'll write right away," she muttered. He nodded.
Harry turned and felt a flash of guilt when he saw Mrs. Weasley's haggard appearance. He shook himself slightly before catching her in a quick mother-to-son embrace. She pecked him on the cheek and pulled away, sniffling. Harry slipped his arms around Ginny easily. He felt her shaking slightly. She squeezed him around the waist and stepped out of the hug. Harry turned to Ron.
Ron's face was emotionless. He took Harry by surprise, however, by grabbing him in a brief, awkward, manly back-slapping hug.
"See you next year, mate."
Ron nodded. "See you."
The three Weasleys gave one last wave, and walked towards the exit. Hermione waved at him again, repeated her promise to write, and ran off towards her parents. Harry didn't see the Dursleys. His eyes quickly skimmed the crowd, hoping he hadn't missed her....
"Oof!" Harry gasped in surprise when Padma tackled him around the middle. He laughed quietly and pulled her into a proper hug. "Hey."
"Hey." She grinned up at him for a moment. Then, her expression changed to one of concern. "Are you alright?"
Harry sighed. "Dunno."
Padma tucked her head into his shoulder, and Harry breathed in deeply, laying his cheek on Padma's hair and closing his eyes. He hoped that the Dursleys weren't coming anytime soon.
Harry lifted his head from Padma's and looked up. His face filled with color. Parvati was standing a few feet away, looking amused. Next to her stood a woman- she was literally the same height as Parvati, with eyes that were a slightly darker blue, but her hair was the same shade of black and the same texture as the twins. Next to the woman was a man- he was a good foot taller than the woman, but his hair was the same color. His eyes, Harry recognized, were the same blue as Padma's. His girlfriend also shared the woman's curvy build. Presumably, he was looking at Padma's parents.
Padma turned around in Harry's arms. "Hi mum, hi dad," she said casually. She turned around again, grinning up at Harry. "Isn't this fun?" She pecked him on the mouth quickly, and then pulled away.
"What in all the hells..."
Harry turned and saw the shocked face of his Uncle Vernon. Vernon was mouthing wordlessly, and Harry was irresistibly reminded of Ron's face after the Yule Ball in fourth year.
"Hello, Uncle Vernon."
"Padma, who is this young man?" Mrs. Patil glided forward- her feet didn't seem to be leaving the floor.
"Oh, this is Harry Potter, my boyfriend. Harry, these are my parents." The Patils stared at Harry. Parvati appeared to be having the time of her life.
Harry shoved a hand through his hair nervously. He didn't like this.
"Boy! Let's go!" Uncle Vernon grabbed Harry's trunk and began wheeling away.
"Okay, I have to go. Bye Padma, Parvati. It was nice meeting you, Mr. and Mrs. Patil." Harry grinned at Padma one last time before taking off after his uncle.
He pushed everything out of his mind again. He didn't even hear his uncle's muttered cursing and lecture.
They stepped out into the mid afternoon sunlight. He paused, and looked around the street that ran in front of the station. It was filled to the brim with people, all of them teeming with movement.
At that moment, what Harry had to do was clearer than ever. He remembered what Hagrid had told him at the end of his fourth year- what's coming is coming, and we'll meet it when it gets here.
What will come will come. He'd be ready.
He looked towards the sky.
Acknowledgements and Thank Yous; Sequel Information
First and foremost, I would like to say thank you to every person who ever let me know what they thought of my story, whether it was through a review, an email, or through instant messenger. You know who you are, my friends. I've met some wonderful people while writing this. I would just like to let you all know that I couldn't have done it without you.
Second, I would like to thank Shayla (that's her pen name here at ff.net), who hasn't read this story and probably never will. Her wonderful series gave me the courage to really try and start getting my own ideas posted again. She's also the first writer that I read who involved a Harry/Padma relationship, and made me love the concept of it. That coupling is a catalyst in this story, and without her influence, I wouldn't have realized it, and this story may not have been written.
Third, I would like to thank my friend Apinda, whose name is always changing here- as of posting time, it is Intercedo Circu. Apinda, you've become a good friend of mine, and I would have struggled through this story without you- well, much more than I did, anyway. I'm still awaiting your new story!
Fourth, I would like to thank my friend Greek Mione. A school friend of mine, she stuck with this story even though she converted to Harry/Hermione. She was never afraid to tell me exactly what she thought of this story, and her swift reminders were often what kept me from blanking out on this story when I was facing a particularly difficult time. I love ya, Greeky!
Again, thank you, everyone. You guys make me look good.
The sequel to this story, Harry Potter and the Arch of Hades, should be following within a month. Check back on my author profile to catch it when the prologue comes out. I'm still working out some of the bugs- nasty, Rita Skeeter sized bugs, they are- but here's some little tidbits to tide you over- no guarantee of these making the final cut:
The first thing that Harry noticed that she was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Then, he began to wonder why the hell she was visiting him.
"You love him, don't you?"
"What the bloody- what's with the ruddy talent show?!"
See you all when it comes out! Just a note: the sequel will be rated R, and not as just a caution!
Thank you all for everything.