Well, this is it…
DISCLAIMER IN CHAPTER 1
Two days later:
Harry ran a distracted hand through his already ruffled hair. He had never realized just how much paperwork a headmaster had to review, understand and sign off on. Not to mention nearly every parent with a child in the school had sent him an owl, some congratulatory regarding his new position and some not. They all needed a personal reply. And then there was paperwork from the ministry to fill out. And the way that this day was already going it wasn't going to be finished anytime soon. People just wouldn't leave him alone.
Remus poked his head in the door and had to stifle a grin at the frazzled look on Harry's face. "You wanted to see me?"
Harry looked up. "Oh, Remus. Yes, actually. The curse against Defense against the Dark Arts teachers still seems to be going strong. Except now they aren't even lasting a year. Professor Amaris was suddenly called home yesterday evening. Her husband is very ill with…" Harry drew a blank. "Well, she told me, but I can't remember. I was wondering if you would be interested in the job, either full time, or just for a short while until I find someone else."
Remus sat down in the chair in front of Harry's desk. Dumbledore's belongings still filled the office, but Harry had had to clean out the desk in order to get some work done. "Favoritism, Harry?"
Harry nodded. "Sure. If you want to call it that. I need a good Defense teacher. You were my favorite DADA teacher, and well recommended by Dumbledore in his files. I believe the exact quote was, 'Note to self: Convince to return at some later date, way too stubborn now.' The way I see it, your one good excuse is gone now."
Remus looked tempted. "Well, I was planning on working with werewolves…" Although the Lycan potion, as the papers had named Harry and Snape's collaboration, was working quite well, there was still work to be done to get government aid for those who couldn't pay for the expensive ingredients. Not to mention the fact that many werewolves were hermits or living in secrecy and poverty and might not even hear of their new opportunity.
Harry could see why that would be important to the former werewolf. "I think that it would do your cause a lot of good to have such a visible job. You can prove that being a former werewolf isn't anything to be ashamed of. You'll also have the ability to talk to the whole next generation about the unfairness of how you and others were treated. Hopefully, discrimination like that will never happen again." Harry could see that Remus wasn't totally convinced and added his final gambit. "Plus, there's always summers to go crusading…"
Remus smiled. "You argue like your mother. Very well, I'll accept the position for this year. We can discuss the future at the end of the term. Good thing I kept all of my old class schedules. I'll go get started on updating them."
Harry smiled back. "Wonderful. Feel free to corral any wandering students to tell you what they've covered already this year." It was a Hogsmeade weekend, which left the castle mercifully quiet for the most part.
Remus nodded his agreement. "Thank you, Headmaster." He left, already muttering something under his breath about adding the impervious curse to the 6th year work.
Harry rolled his eyes at the title and returned to his paperwork. He managed to write exactly three words before he was interrupted again. "Hello, Harry."
Albus Dumbledore stood in the doorway. "Professor!" Harry looked suspicious. "Are you supposed to be up?"
The former headmaster looked slightly guilty as he checked over his shoulder. "Not exactly, but I needed to talk to you. And, please, call me Albus."
Harry motioned towards the chair. "You could have had Madam Pomfrey come and get me, you know. I didn't even realize you were awake yet."
Dumbledore sat, leaning a cane against his knees. "I awoke several hours ago. And before you ask, yes, I have been filled in on the pertinent facts that I missed while sleeping the day away. I hope that you don't feel forced into this, Harry." He waved one wrinkled hand around the office. "I didn't realize until I had a chance to think it over with a bit of a clearer mind that you may have felt pressured by my actions, and I certainly didn't intend that."
Harry met the headmaster's gaze. "Pro- er, Albus, I didn't feel forced. I'm actually enjoying the challenge so far, but I have to admit that this paperwork is beginning to wear me down." He looked mournfully at the stack of letters to answer.
Dumbledore chuckled, relief at Harry's remarks clear in his eyes. "Good. Harry, I am being perfectly honest when I say I truly believe that you will make an excellent headmaster, one that hopefully will serve for many years. I am also being perfectly honest when I say that paperwork will survive anything you throw at it. I have tried everything, believe me."
Harry sighed. "Now you tell me…" He suddenly had a thought and pulled a folded up piece of parchment from the nearest drawer. "Now that you here, I do have a question or two, if you are feeling up to it."
Dumbledore looked happy that Harry was willing to ask for his help. "Of course, Harry. I haven't left you the easiest of jobs. Anything I can do to help I will."
Harry nodded his thanks. "So, what's up with the History of Magic position? Why is it empty?"
Dumbledore sighed. "Regulations. Over the several decades, Hogwarts graduates have averaged the lowest N.E.W.T.'s grades on that subject in over three hundred years. Professor Binns seems to be incapable of making the class as interesting as it needs to be to keep students attention. I had to let him go at the end of last year, and haven't been able to find a teacher yet. Binns has been teaching for so long that there aren't very many alumni even capable. To be honest, I was beginning to get quite desperate. Professor Granger could have done it, but she's overworked already between her Care of Magical Creatures class and leading two advanced study clubs."
"I could do it." Both men looked up. Sirius stood in the doorway, where he had obviously been listening in. "Merlin knows that my mother drilled enough of it into me."
Dumbledore blinked. "You did do remarkably well on your History N.E.W.T, if I remember correctly. Best in the class, wasn't it? I would have contacted you over the summer, but at the time, I wasn't sure as to your current situation."
Sirius nodded in response to Dumbledore's question. "Nice to know my family was good for something, although I do have my doubts about Merlin really being a Black incognito."
Harry just blinked. "You? A professor?"
Sirius winced. "Wouldn't James laugh to hear that. Anyway, I still think that I could do it. At least for a while."
Harry thought for a moment and then shrugged. "Works with me. You can't possibly be as boring as Binns was. You're hired." Sirius chuckled merrily and turned to leave. Harry stopped him. "Blow up the classroom and I'll be the first headmaster to give a professor detention."
Dumbledore laughed. "Not quite the first, Harry."
Sirius nodded condescendingly. "I'll be a good little Black, really."
Harry rolled his eyes and continued, suddenly remembering something that he'd forgotten. "Oh, and if you see Remus before I do, tell him that the wards are seeing him as an animagus. Don't ask me why. He may want to look into it."
Sirius blinked. "Really? Huh. Well, he did go through most of the rituals with us, maybe that has something to do with it."
Harry shrugged. "I don't know." Sirius left, leaving Harry and Dumbledore alone again. Harry sighed and rubbed his head. "I don't think I quite know what I'm getting into here…"
Dumbledore chuckled softly and smiled at Harry, eyes still full of life behind his small glasses. "You'll do fine."
"So, what are you planning to do with your free time?" Harry chuckled suddenly. "The way it's been going, I can probably find you a job…"
Dumbledore laughed. "Actually, I think I will write a book. I've always wanted to, and now that I have a bit of time on my hands, we'll see if I actually can."
Harry grinned. "I'll look forward to reading it. I…" Whatever he was planning on saying was lost as the door slammed open once again.
Severus Snape stood in the doorway, looking unusually emotional for a Slytherin. The emotion was one part shock, one part disbelief. "You've hired LUPIN?"
Harry sat back, folded his arms, and narrowed his eyes. "Yes. And before you start ranting, name me one good reason, other than the fact that you don't like him, that he won't do perfectly well."
Harry continued casually. "I even know that you aren't jealous, because I just read your file." Harry had been able to lay to rest his childhood suspicion about Snape coveting the DADA position with the proof that Dumbledore had offered the position to him twice. Potions was the older man's true calling, and they both knew it. He loved teaching his art, and would continue to do so as long as he was able.
Snape sighed and sat down heavily on a chair next to Albus. "Fine." His voice was still faintly petulant.
Harry conjured up a cup of tea for both of his two guests. Mischievously, he waited until Snape had taken a swallow before he spoke again. "The History position has been filled as well. I believe you know Sirius Black?"
Snape's reaction was truly priceless. Somehow, the professor managed to keep from spitting out his tea. When he finally managed to get control of himself, the only thing that he could seem to muster in response was a drawn out moan. He looked up at Harry beseechingly. "Please tell me you are joking."
Harry shook his head. "You two will just have to learn to stay out of each other's way. I suppose it's too much to ask that you try to get along?" Snape just glared. "Try. You have much more in common than you know."
Dumbledore spoke up. "If you can get those two to realize that, you will have accomplished more than I ever have." His eyes twinkled with laughter.
Snape took a deep breath and shook his finger in Harry's face. "This is nepotism!"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Neither of them are related to me. They are just friends. And you're still working here, aren't you?"
Snape blinked, realized that there was more than one way to look at that comment, and looked faintly pleased. Not to be sidetracked for long, he tried one last time. "There will be trouble, mark my words."
Harry grinned. "If you can't figure out a way to handle it, maybe I should reconsider who holds the Slytherin Headship. You all are supposed to be the sneaky, manipulative ones. However, I'll repeat what I told him. Professors can be given detention if things get out of hand."
Snape glared at Dumbledore for a brief second. "Yes, I know." Sighing, he stood and placed his teacup and saucer on the desk. "Well, at least both the Defense and History classrooms are on the other side of the castle." He left grumbling, but Harry thought that it was done more for effect than any real anger.
Dumbledore waited until the door shut behind the potions master, and then burst into laughter. "Oh, masterfully handled. I couldn't have diffused him better myself. You may get them to work well together yet."
Harry smirked slightly. "It will take a miracle." He might be able to manage it. He wasn't going to be placing any large bets on the matter, though.
Dumbledore finished his tea and opened his mouth to speak when a knock sounded at the door. A voice called from outside. "Headmaster Potter, I'm dreadfully sorry, but is Albus in there?"
Albus paled and stood. "Perhaps I should go now, Harry. It was nice to speak to you." He waved his wand once and muttered a few words just as the door opened to reveal Madam Pomfrey with her hands on her hips. Knickknacks and magical oddities flew from all over the room, shrinking as they came. In two seconds, all of Dumbledore's personal possessions were stowed inside a small sack.
Madam Pomfrey looked annoyed. "Sneaking out of bed like a second year, really, Albus, I thought better of you. And give me your wand! You know you aren't supposed to be doing magic. It won't be my fault if you relapse." She huffed angrily. "You should be ashamed. Honestly!"
Ignoring the nurse's tirade, Dumbledore nodded cheerily to Harry as he was herded out the door. "Well, Harry, you'll have to fill your own walls now. Good luck!"
Harry just watched as the door shut. He scanned the now rather bare room and smiled thoughtfully. He would have to get some of his books brought over. And his broom, definitely. And maybe he could figure out away to link his castle to Hogwarts so that he could go home for more than just the summer holidays.
But before he could even think about any of that, he had an awful lot of work to do. Harry looked at the stack of papers, groaned, and shot an extremely strong locking charm at the door.
A smile crossed his face. Hard work had never been foreign to him, and for the first time in a long time, Harry felt content, even happy with where he was and the prospects for the future.
Life didn't look like it was going to be boring anytime soon.
REALLY THE END!
LONG AUTHORS NOTE
(Hopefully answering all remaining questions…)
First of all, I want to thank everyone who read and reviewed my story. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have spent as much time on this story as I did if it hadn't been for your support and encouragement. You all are wonderful. I found it fascinating how deeply people looked at what I wrote. Sometimes way more that I did! Forgiveness and the process leading up to that was obviously the theme that I had in mind from the beginning, and I am reasonably happy with the finished product and what it portrays.
A note from the last chapter: I forgot to say that the term haltia is from Finland. (Would that be Finnish? shrugs I dunno…) I just got the term out of an online translator. I'm American, and I do know that haltia means fairy and not really anything close to what I described, but I do have an excuse. I kind of did it on purpose, the idea being that we muggles wouldn't know what we were talking about… Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Also, Harry's actual power level is the same as it would have been if he hadn't been in Azkaban. The haltia didn't actually add any power to him, but taught him new and different ways to use his magic, making him more efficient and stronger. It's like the human body, most of us have the ability to fight to some extent, but there is a difference between instinctual fighting and something like karate, and a even larger difference between a beginner and a master. Essentially, Harry is a master of his way of using magic, one that isn't known or understood by anyone else in the magical community. This gives him an advantage over witches and wizards who have no way of learning what he did. Like a black belt up against a boxer. They may both be experts in their forms, but they fight in totally different ways.
And yes, the haltia left as soon as the tasks were completed.
As for the romance, I (obviously) am leaving it open. I started the story thinking it would be Ginny, and I have to admit that I still think that that is the most likely thing for canon, but I have to think that Tonks would have just as much of a chance in my world. I decided not to do either, so that you can choose in your mind. Technically, for you H/H people, that could still work in my world as well, since Ron and Hermione aren't married, just dating… Now, see, we can all be happy…
I think that I mentioned somewhere that Harry's castle is roughly a hundred miles away from Hogwarts, pick a direction, any direction, 'cause I don't know.
I've implied without ever coming right out and saying it that the mysterious room in Harry's castle was a room of requirement.
Remus' animagus form… well, all Harry knows is that he's an animagus, not what he is, but yes the wolf would be the logical thing. Can't have a Moony without a howl, now can we?
Several people asked that the epilogue feature Hagrid. I have a confession to make. For the life of me I can't write Hagrid and have it come out right. Every time I try I managed to mix up his speech really really badly. Imagine a pirate/Yoda Irish brogue and you might have it. shudders And I can't stand it. So I don't write Hagrid.
Now for the bad news. From a lot of your reviews, I have been getting requests for a sequel. Unfortunately, as you may have gathered from my rather erratic update schedule recently, I hardly have enough time to start another story now. I won't say never, but for right now, I have to deal with some of the things real life is throwing at me. Actually I rather like the Redemption universe the way it is, with a lot of horizons opened up and plenty of room for imagination about the future. I will probably just leave it there. I do have some other unrelated story ideas, but I won't be pursuing them right away, and several of them aren't Harry Potter, so who knows…
That being said, I know that there are a lot of opportunities in the Redemption universe for one shot and fillers throughout the six years that Harry was in prison and the half a year of so spanning the story. If anyone wants to contact me via email with ideas, I would have no problem with someone else writing in my universe as long as the major points are adhered to. All I ask is that you let me know. I will be out of touch for about two weeks after posting this, but I'll get back to you after that.
Thank you again! This has been a real learning experience for me!