Dark Days Pass But Are Never Forgotten
But Never Forgotten
"Tell Cho I love her, tell her I'm sorry."
Michael lowered his head, "We tried to stop him, honest."
"We even tried to track his apparation, but there were no signs. You know that apparation for Order Members have just been recently allowed at Hogwarts. There are still many variables. Blocking tracking routes was a necessary safety precaution," Susan pleaded.
"From what we can tell, Noel was hit with a reverse patronus…" Michael added, "It's possible."
"Harry wouldn't do that," Susan snapped.
"Cho, are you alright?" Michael asked.
Suddenly the overwhelming rush in Cho's chest caused her to wake. She had been having the same dream for nearly five years. The conversation that Michael and Susan had come to haunted her like the memories of a past life. She reached for a glass of water on the bed table and took a long drink.
The moon was low in the sky—a sign that it was early in the morning. Cho took in a deep breath before letting her slipper glide onto her feet. She reached for her night robe that was draped over a nearby chair and wrapped it tightly around her shoulder.
"Love, where are you going?"
Cho forced a smile as she turned to her husband, Mario Fortez. He was use to her waking in the middle of the night, but never ceased to seem concerned about it.
"I can't sleep. I'm just going to go fix me a cup of tea in the kitchen."
"Cho, you have to start sleeping. It isn't healthy for someone in your condition. The potions…" Mario started.
Cho frowned, "I'm really fine. Just an odd dream, that's all. Go back to sleep dear."
She quickened her pace and left the room. It has become a routine. Sleep was something she neither desired nor needed. Her dreams were littered with memories of him: Memories of his touch, memories of his voice and memories of who he was. The wound that Harry Potter had left on her soul was deeper than any other love she had ever experienced.
Cho set the kettle of tea on the stove as she began to heat the water. She knew her heart was not in the right place. Mario was wonderful to her. When Harry had left her broken and alone to deal with the tragedy of Eros' murder, Mario had helped her pick up the pieces.
Though getting into her heart had proven a difficult if not an impossible task, he had finally managed. The two had been married less than a year and every night as Cho lay down to sleep, it was Harry who was on her mind. Part of Cho had believed that Harry would return when he discovered she was getting married. She had prayed that he would show up and rescues her and pledge his never-ending love to her.
If he were to burst through the doors at that moment, she had no doubt she fall into his arms and run away with him into the night. Suddenly the teakettle whistled shaking her back into reality.
"Get a grip over yourself, Cho," she scolded as she let the tea seap over a small bag.
She sometimes wondered if she should have kept waiting. She had pleaded with Dumbledore to tell her where Harry was. She had begged. Yet Dumbledore remained loyal to Harry and said that the reason he was gone was a greater sacrifice than could be fathomed.
It seemed Harry's sacrifice was a double-edged sword. The moment Harry had left, the rising had disappeared. Even after the damaged and chaos that had been caused by their last attack, they had vanished. There wasn't a disturbance from the Vampires, the Giants nor any Death Eater.
There had been no murders, no kidnappings… nothing.
This lead most people to believe that Harry was responsible for the Dark Rising and some even said he was the leader of it.
The most painful rumor Cho heard was his relationship with Noel. The prophecy had been heard throughout the Ministry of Magic. The love of Harry Potter had not been Cho it had been Noel. She only could speculate about the definition of their relationship.
Cho suddenly looked up at the voice of a house elf she both longed and dreaded seeing. She had lived at Grimmauld Place for nearly three years after Harry disappeared. She had expected him to come home every single day she had been there.
While most of the ones who lived in Grimmauld Place had left, she alone remained until she was the last one who believed. Dean had finally moved out with Hermione Granger's sister, Beatrice. Michael, Ernie, Justin and Terry had all opted to find a place of their own, not long after Harry disappeared. Neville had remained with her the longest, but his own marriage to Padma Patil-Longbottom had finally taken even him away.
Dobby the house elf was Cho's only support in her quest to wait for Harry. Sometimes in the early mornings, the elf would appear. He would deliver the news that the chores had been done and that Harry Potter would be home very soon. He would then proceed to ask her to return, for Harry would be very distress if she weren't there when he returned.
"Dobby," Cho said softly as he removed her tea bag.
"Dobby bids miss a good morning. I have cleaned the dining and family room as well as the two upstairs bedrooms. The parlor floors were waxed just yesterday Miss. Harry Potter will be thrilled to see it when he returns."
Cho nodded as she fought to hold back her tears; "Did you ever removed that dreaded tapestry?"
"No, Miss… Dobby is still working on it. I doubt it will be done before Harry Potter arrives home. I expect that will be at any time now."
Cho nodded; "That sounds wonderful, Dobby."
"Won't Miss come home? Harry Potter will be most upset if she isn't there when he returns," Dobby pleaded.
"Dobby, this is my home now. I'm married to Mario," Cho said softly with a tinge of regret in her voice.
Dobby nodded; "I will prepare supper tonight. Miss will come home-- Dobby knows she will. She will come home and be with Harry Potter."
"Harry isn't coming home, Dobby," Cho sobbed, "He's left us forever."
"Miss shouldn't say these things. Dobby knows that Harry Potter will return. You'll see."
It was a peaceful life. No dark wizards, no friends being murdered and best of all nobody knew of Harry Potter. The town was full of muggles and only muggles. Harry mainly stayed to himself. He rarely tried to bring attention to himself. His life could be called mostly normal, except for the odd looking man with a long gray beard that appeared at his door religiously once a year. Normal except there was something missing, something he couldn't explain.
It never failed, Albus Dumbledore showed up ever year on the day Harry had disappeared with his infinite wisdom. He would throw Harry a few pearls of wisdom then retreat back to the world Harry had abandoned. In all of Dumbledore's wisdom… he could never convince Harry that running from a problem never solved any.
Harry Potter didn't expect this anniversary day to be any different. It
wasn't as if his life wasn't full enough of all the memories of
everything he had cherished and left behind.
Dumbledore was just a bitter reminder of a past life, a past future.
As if on a magical cue the front door to Harry's small house resounded a small knock. Harry had chosen to ignore it once. Three hours later he had opened the door only to find his former Head Master patiently waiting.
"It's open," Harry called out, refusing to move from his location on his worn couch.
The door opened and in walked Dumbledore. He looked not a day older than he had the first time Harry had met him. His eyes twinkled with delight as he stooped slightly to allowed his hat to fit under the door way.
"Minister," Harry greeted.
"Ah, Harry Potter… alas, we meet again," Dumbledore began as he closed the door behind him. "It has been 365 days since our last visit, and yet your path remains unchanged and uncertain."
"Is Malfoy still keeping his word?" Harry asked, it was the only question he cared to have answered.
Dumbledore nodded as she took a seat in a nearby wooden rocker; "He is… young Master Malfoy is much more patient than his father was."
"That is all I need to know, Minister," Harry said curtly before turning his head; "As long as he keeps his word, I'll keep mine."
"A wizard's bond is a strong curse, indeed. But what was the word you made? Till your death? Then what, Harry?" Dumbledore asked. "This is not the way to bring balance to magic."
"By the time I reach my death then the dark rising and Voldemort will be a forgotten dream," Harry reasoned; "All those who are important in my life will be safe."
"Do you honestly believe that?" Dumbledore asked; "It was your destiny to destroy Voldemort, all of Voldemort… even the parts he left behind."
"And I fulfilled my destiny, my duty!"
"Did you? Do you not remember what I spoke of during our last visit."
Harry sighed loudly; "If Voldemort kept a memoir as you suggest what could be done. I've chosen a different path, this path."
"And of the ones you love?" Dumbledore asked.
"They're better off without me, they're happy," Harry spat bitterly.
"And you are not," Dumbledore added.
"Mrs.Weasley-Wood is expecting… the Healers are predicting twins," Dumbeldore started on his routine list.
"Molly and Arthur are thrilled of course. Ginny plans on taking the homemaker's route and abandon her duties in the Department of Muggle Relation for a time. It will be another seven months before we can greet the new additions. I hear that Ginny wants to name them after you and her brother. If they are boys, of course—imagine how silly those names would sound if they turned out to be girls," Dumbledore laughed lightly.
"Ah, Susan Bones has been promoted to head of Auror/Healer relations. Her aunt was thrilled. Terry and her are planning a wedding for next fall," Dumbledore said with a wink, " I guess he decided she wasn't to burly after all."
"What about her marriage to Michael?" Harry asked.
"Over, it is always difficult to hold a proper marriage with a career as an Auror. It was for the best they separated and parted ways. Michael is still in the ranks. He's taking a new student this coming term."
"Hermione Granger, ah yes… she is living as a muggle somewhere in Britain. Her location is a secret as your own. She is working for a muggle doctorial," the old man grinned. "So I hear from one of the professors as Hogwarts."
"Krum," Harry noted, "Are they still talking."
"Who can say," Dumbledore chuckled.
Harry shifted uncomfortably, "I read somewhere… that Cho…"
Harry couldn't bring himself to finish the statement. He had told himself it didn't matter, that it was something in his past.
"She has," Dumbledore confirmed; "To Mario Fortez…. She waited for you till the last moment."
"It's fine, she needed to move on with her life," Harry said quickly waving off the subject.
"Neville is going to start at Hogwarts this fall as our new Herbology professor. He will be joining his wife Professor Patil, our Ancient Runes professor. The Headmistress sends her request for a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor along with me. You could do Hogwarts a great justice."
Harry's eyes suddenly lifted; "What happened to Lupin?"
Dumbeldore let out a soft sigh; "I'm afraid his health will no longer allow him to teach. The mind is willing but the body protests."
"He's ill?" Harry asked.
Dumbledore offered Harry a warm smile; "He is a werewolf, Harry. Their lives are generally not nearly as long as a typical wizard. He is prepared for what await him. With December by his side, he can conquer anything—even death."
Harry made an uncomfortable shift on his couch, "Minister, can I ask you a favor."
"Anything," Dumbledore said with a nod.
Harry drew in a deep breath; "Don't let him know how I found out or where I am… but tell him I said hang in there."
"Another question plagues your mind… I have not been your only visitor this long terrible year," Dumbledore said suddenly.
Harry suddenly startled; "What did you say?"
Dumbledore was back on his feet peering out the window; "What a lovely day outside. I've always been quite taken on how the sun always seems to shine through the most dreary of days."
Harry watched as Dumbledore approached the window; "Would you mind if we entertained a walk?"
"Minister, sir… this is a muggle neighborhood. It probably wouldn't be the wisest idea," Harry muttered suspiciously.
Dumbledore laughed lightly; "However, I am the Minister of Magic. I'm sure I can over turn any conviction brought against me for violating our secrecy status. After all—I have always said that the only difference between a muggle and wizard is his ability to believe.'
Dumbledore had used that line before. However this time his word lingered in the air and rang in Harry's ears. There was something said in the old minister's voice.
"Minister, I have many chores left to do. I do believe our conversation has reached its end," Harry pronounced.
Dumbledore nodded; "Perhaps, however… it is time for me to dispel one of my many pearls of wisdom. In hope that youth has finally left you."
"Minister," Harry tried to interrupt.
Dumbledore continued on; "The balance to magic has not yet been accomplished. You've merely placed your task on the mantel. How long can you run before your fate catches up with you, Harry. Only by facing what you fear can you achieve the happiness you have so long been deprived of."
"I'm perfectly happy in this path," Harry argued.
Dumbledore nodded as he turned to walk towards the door; "Remus Lupin hasn't much time left in this phase. I hope that you reach a choice before life takes a loved one from you… without the use of a dark wand."
As quickly as he had appeared, Albus Dumbledore was gone.
Harry sighed loudly as he heard a vaguely familiar pop sound in the place the Minister of Magic had once stood. What did Albus Dumbledore know about the choice he made? It wasn't like he had wanted to abandon everyone and everything he loved. He hadn't even used a wand in five years. He doubted he'd ever remember how.
Dumbledore was right, he hadn't been Harry's only magical visitor this year. Almost a month earlier Luna Lovegood, someone he detested, had shown up in the backyard during his daily sulking. She was like a bible salesman with a Death Journal in her hand. She offered him a deal that he had to refuse. Apparently the magical world didn't take to kindly to those who had joined the Dark Rising. She offered Sirius' freedom from the veil in exchange for her freedom in the wizarding world.
It had not been a pleasant visit and Harry had actually pulled his wand in warning when she wore her welcome out. Although he had agreed not to use magic, he did have a fear of parting this his wand. He didn't trust Draco any more than he had trusted the Dursley had missed him being around during the school term back in his Hogwart days. Luna's arrival proved one thing; Draco knew where he was hiding and didn't have any reservations about having him watched.
The thought made Harry's skin crawl. Still, those who mattered were safe. Better yet, the entire wizarding world was safe. It was a great pain to know that life went on without him. Hermione was enjoying her life as a muggle—even if she had been one of the most clever witches ever to leave Hogwarts. Ginny was married and happy, carrying on the Weasley family. Although Dumbledore hadn't mentioned him during this visit, he knew Fred and George were doing well. They had opened two more bars in small wizarding communities across Europe. Dudley actually ran Ron's Place—and had been having much success with his Kwikspell studies.
Perhaps what had made him the happiest was the news that December O'Riley and Remus Lupin had finally gotten married. It had been a private ceremony, and relatively few in the wizarding world knew of the union. Marriage to a werewolf was frowned upon still in the magical world; especially for someone in December's position.
Dumbledore had not spoken much of Cho Chang. Harry sometimes found himself wondering what he would say or do if he ever confronted his once fiancé again. She had been battling her vampire condition and Harry read about some of the great steps forward the Healers at St. Mungo were making concerning the particular condition. He knew the years after his departure had been difficult for her. Eros Raymer had died in the last raid on the Ministry of Magic. Although the two had their difference, Harry was sure Cho had taken his death badly.
Suddenly Harry shook his head again. Reflecting was only going to succeed in making him feel bitter again. Still, Dumbledore's last words floated in Harry's head—those and the words of Luna Lovegood. He didn't trust Luna, but he also knew that once Lupin died all his hopes of unlocking the mystery of the Torto veil would die with him.
Luna's visit hadn't been the first time he had thought about the Torto's veil. It was odd how when one is placed in moments of great boredom what their mind can accomplish. First he had read a book he had long neglected, Hogwart's A History. While his wand hadn't been waved since his last fight on the field of battle—his find was never far from the magical world.
It was actually the fate of those who had fallen to the reverse patronus that had him stumble across the Torto's veil. In turned out the reverse patronus, the death veil and a dementor's kiss were all related. Those who fell all lost their souls. The place where their souls went was unknown, but according to those who were dead, they hadn't passed.
Harry vaguely remembered a conversation he had with Nearly Headless Nick back in his fifth year at Hogwarts. He knew that according to the rules of the dead, Nick could offer Harry very limited information on the phase after life.
Lupin knew more about the Dark Arts and Defense against them, than anyone he knew. If anybody had ever read about the freeing of trapped souls, it would be Remus Lupin. It had been Lupin who had taught Harry how to defend against Dementors. Although he pretended to be no expert on Dementors, Lupin knew more than most wizards three times his age. Dark creatures were his specialty.
Harry grinned as an adventure crossed his mind. It would be difficult, and risky. However, he doubted Malfoy would do anything foolish if he was caught outside the scopes of their bond. Their main bond had been concerning Cho regardless. It was apparent from his conversation from Luna that many of the Dark followers were not questioning their loyalties. The death of Voldemort and the falling of the short-lived Dragon Lord surely rocked the risings foundations. He had learned that the most of the Dark Allies had departed from the cause. The grin didn't fade as Harry suddenly reached for a piece of parchment on his desk and pulled an old quill out of his desk.
December paced the halls of St. Mungo with a scroll in her hand. Half in disbelief, half in denial she couldn't help but feel uneasiness. Harry had been missing from the wizarding world for nearly 5 years. Five peaceful perfect years. It was a double-edged sword. While she sincerely desired to see Harry again, she also knew what his visit could mean. She was one of the few privileged that realized what Harry had sacrificed when he had left. It was a secret that both tore her apart and gave her an odd sense of peace.
Her husband, Remus Lupin, remained in a delicate stage as the full moon approached, and the healers weren't sure he'd make it back this time. She also realized that Dumbledore's yearly visit had just occurred and it was no coincidence that Harry had written with intentions of a visit.
December sighed. So much had happened in five years. So much that could not be undone. The most difficult part was delivering Noel back to her mother. There were no O'Riley's left to carry on her family legacy. Another pureblood family lost to the folds of time.
Every muscle in December's body tensed. Slowly she turned around. The figure behind her had his head covered in a heavy cloak. December narrowed her eyes almost afraid to ask the question on the tip of her tongue.
"It's been awhile."
December nodded; "That it has."
"How is he?"
December sighed; "Not well, I'm afraid… come he'll want to see you."
December pushed open a door to her right and escorted her guest into the small room.
Once they entered, Harry revealed his face. December almost gasped… the five years had aged Harry. He was the spiting image of James right before he had died.
Remus' eyes lit up, and December knew he was thinking the same thoughts she was.
"Harry," Remus sighed; "I thought you had left the wizarding world?"
Harry forced a grin, "Dumbledore refused my wand."
"I glad…" Remus said softly, the stage of his condition causing his voice to weaken.
"Are you back?"
Harry shook his head; "No, I thought after all you had done for me—that I needed to be here."
"I've looked worse, I'm sure," Remus joked.
December reached Remus' side and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"We're both glad you've returned, even if it is temporary—but Harry, you know Dumbledore is right."
Harry shook his head; "I made a deal—I'm breaking that as we speak. If I'm not careful--If I'm discovered—do you have any idea what the price would be?"
"It's a different time, your 'deal' with Malfoy weakened the rising. It would be a different fight," December tried to reason, although her own voice betrayed her.
"No it wouldn't…. it would be the same fight. It's better for me to keep to my wizarding bond. I just felt I needed to be here in case there isn't another chance. There are many things left unsaid between us three."
Remus coughed slightly.
December gripped Remus' shoulder a bit tighter before speaking; "I don't blame you for what happened to Noel."
"Noel…" Harry said softly; "it's better off she died. Her life would have been hell."
"Dumbledore didn't know the entire wizarding bond. He told us as much as he knew, which wasn't much," Remus said softly.
Harry glanced down at this feet feeling a twinge of regret seep through him; "She agreed to marry Malfoy in exchange for my life and safety."
"Dumbledore figured as much…."
"There is another reason I returned," Harry said suddenly, "December, would you mind terribly if I had a moment alone, with Remus?"
December smiled; "Of course not." She crossed the room and gave Harry a quick hug before exiting the room.
Remus waited until the door closed before looking at Harry
"You've come back for a reason. What would that reason be?" Remus asked as he leaned a bit further into his pillow.
Harry focused his eyes; "Luna Lovegood paid me a visit. Is there hope in saving him or any of them?"
"The void," Remus replied with a bit more strength, "there are no known ways of saving or even reaching those in the void."
"But that is where Ron and Noel are as well?" Harry asked.
Remus nodded; "In theory."
"I've read up on it, I know how much progress has been made in the Department of Mystery. Before the veil was stolen, they had almost figured out the first boarder," Harry said with a little more conviction.
Remus grinned; "Well, at least you haven't been wasting your time doing nothing."
"Is there hope, is it worth the risk?" Harry asked swiftly.
"Honestly? No," Remus coughed, "Just because Lucius Malfoy discovered the Reverse Patronum, doesn't mean he unlocked the secret of Grindelwald or Torto."
"He showed all the signs of knowing the secret!" Harry exclaimed, "He knew how to control the moon and time! He mastered the reverse patronum!"
"Master it? That charm is not a charm one can master," Remus interrupted, "He didn't know the consequences of using the charm too frequently."
Harry paused; "That is what he became, a dementor?"
"Precisely," Remus confirmed, "That doesn't sound like someone who mastered anything."
Harry suddenly looked at Remus; "The secret to freeing them could be in the memoirs Voldemort left behind,"
"That is a gamble, Harry. It's a suicide mission," Remus said although there was nothing in his tone that suggested he thought it wasn't a good idea.
Harry sighed; "Dumbledore is right. If Voldemort learned how to cheat death as he did, what's to say Malfoy hasn't figured it out. He is sitting in a lair somewhere just waiting for me to die—either of old age or misery. I owe it to them, Remus. I've got to try."
"A wizard must find his own destiny and path. If you feel this is yours…"
"I learned long ago not to put faith in prophecies…" Harry muttered bitterly. "The next full moon isn't for two weeks."
"I'll be expecting to hear from you before then concerning this matter," Remus finished for him.
Harry smiled; "You keep fighting. You can't leave December…or me."
Harry walked back into the hallways of St. Mungo as he carefully pulled the hood back over his head.
"I need to find Hermione," Harry said quickly as he caught December's eye.
December appraised him for a minute before replying; "Her location is as secret as yours. However, her sister does live with Dean Thomas—perhaps she can help you with that task."
Harry nodded back towards Remus' room; "He's going to make it, isn't he?"
"He sincerely appreciates you coming to see him," December said softly before she re-entered the room leaving Harry alone in the halls.
He stopped as he felt a pair of lingering eyes on him. He dare not turn around—instead he moved onwards. He refused to face his entire past.
Cho Chang knew in an instant who was walking in front of her. His posture, his manner… she had him memorized. Somehow the thoughts of her husband standing next to her seem irrelevant. All that mattered in that moment was him.
"Are you alright?" Mario asked as he watched Cho slowly start to fall apart.
Cho suddenly felt her breath leave her; "Who was that – the person who just left Remus Lupin's room?"
Mario peered after the stranger then shrugged; "Dunno."
Cho swallowed hard, "I best be heading back to the house."
"You look like some rest will do you good," Mario agreed, "Don't forget to drink your potion as soon as you get home."
Cho nodded as Mario leaned down to kiss her. She felt her face rebel against her as she turned to receive the kiss on her cheek. No matter how many times she tried to get lost in Mario's kisses, she never could.
With forced steps she walked down the corridor in the footsteps of the stranger who wasn't so much of a stranger in her eyes. It didn't take her long to catch up with him, and like a fool she did the only thing she could think to do.
"Harry?" she called softly.
The figure flinched. That was all Cho needed to see before her eyes filled with tears. Before she could say another word… the stranger was gone. A loud crack buzzing in her ears was all that remained behind.
Cho blinked as reality hit her, and her mind raced with thought that she knew she shouldn't have. Mario was her husband now, not Harry. Harry had left her long ago.
She felt a few large tears hit her hand as she quickly tried to collect herself. Then she decide to go to the one place she knew she shouldn't. A place she had sworn to herself she'd never go to again. With a quick deep breath she disapparated to The Ancient and Noble House of Black.
Harry didn't know how to find Hermione's sister or Dean. There was one place he knew he could count on to steer him in the right direction, but he wasn't for sure if he was willing to face the Weasleys. They were the family he had never had. Yet, he wasn't sure how they would take to their surrogate son's return. He was pretty sure they knew nothing about his wizarding bond with Malfoy. December's connections kept her well informed. The Weasleys didn't have those high level connections.
The voice of Cho rang in his ear as he found his feet carrying towards the Burrows. How had she known it was him? Was his disguise that obvious? He suddenly stopped and started to reconsider. He could already feel the bond beginning to shatter and he wondered if Malfoy felt the same. Nothing good could come of a broken wizard's bond.
"Can I help you there?"
Harry turned and saw a sight he had not seen in such a very long time. Ginny hadn't changed much in Harry's absence. Her hair was a tab bit shorter but her lip still curled with suspicion.
"Hello," Harry said trying to disguise his tone, "I was looking for somebody."
Ginny raised her eyebrow; "Who are you looking for. You see, my parents live in that house up the road. I know basically everybody in the area so I could probably steer you in the right direction."
Harry swallowed, "I'm looking for someone I went to school with… Dean Thomas?"
Ginny hand slowly moved towards her hip, towards her wand. All the years of the war had taken their toll.
"I realize he doesn't live around here, but I was hoping somebody could point me in the right direction," Harry continued, not taking his eyes off Ginny's hand in case she decided to stun him and ask questions later.
"Dean… never heard of him," Ginny said flatly.
Harry felt the blood rush to his face; "He isn't in danger, is he?"
"No," Ginny said slowly before drawing her wand, "Remove your hood… I won't ask you again."
Harry stayed motionless as he watched Ginny size him up.
"I can't do that."
Ginny shook her head; "Oh, you can and you will."
"Ginny, please—trust me on this one," Harry pleaded.
Ginny's wand faltered slightly before blinking hard; "It can't be!"
Harry lowered his head; "I'm sorry to have bothered you… I shouldn't have come here."
"Harry Potter," Ginny whispered, "You self centered bastard."
Harry narrowed his eyes, "I didn't have a choice."
"Didn't have a choice," Ginny said in a harsh tone, "Do you have any idea what you put us all through. Mum cried her eyes out for YEARS. You were like a son to her to you know. She had just lost Ron, and then you disappear. Everybody said you were dead, or worse. Some said you were behind the whole dark rising—that was the reason you deserted. Cho Chang, do you have any idea what you put her through, the ridicule? After you left the prophecy came out."
"What prophecy?" Harry asked.
"The prophecy about you being exiled after your love died," Ginny snarled. "Did you know Cho killed Eros and faced expulsion from the wizarding world? Why, had it not been for Dumbledore… and where was her fiancé? GONE, and apparently in love with another woman."
Harry raised his hands in defense; "You don't know what I've been through. Do you honestly think I didn't want to be here?"
"And Hermione!" Ginny continued; " Hermione Granger is a muggle! She pulled away completely… some say she's worse than your Aunt Petunia… she won't even receive my owls anymore. She's completely withdrawn. I mean Beatrice said that Hermione calls her a freak because she's dating a wizard. You were her best friend, you were suppose to save her from herself like she had done for you."
"I didn't know about Hermione," Harry said flatly.
Ginny stomped her foot angrily; "No, you didn't know—because you chose to run and save your own skin rather than stay behind and fight. Did it just get to be too much? Is that it?"
"I made a deal with Malfoy," Harry blurted out.
Ginny suddenly stopped, as some redness seeped out of her face; "A deal?"
"Yes, a deal… it was the only way to protect everybody in the wizarding world. It was the only way I could protect your family," Harry spat.
Ginny frowned; "Then why are you back? It's starting again, isn't it?"
Harry drew a long breath; "It was never over… just on hold while two enemies regrouped."
"Why are you looking for Dean?"
Harry sighed again; "I need to find Hermione."
"Hermione?" Ginny asked.
Harry nodded, "She has just as much right as I do—I think she'll be interested in a proposition I would like to make to her."
"You're going after Malfoy?" Ginny asked, "If so… I'm going too."
Harry reached forward and lowered Ginny's wand and touched her stomach.
"You know you can't do that," Harry said slowly.
Ginny frowned and glanced at Harry's hand resting on her stomach; "You know I'd be there beside you if the circumstances were different."
"I know you would… but you have a good life now, Gin. This is something I have to do—it's what I was born to do. I was never good at being normal… I know what Dumbledore has talked about since I was eleven. I am the one who is supposed to bring balance to magic. I know how to do that now."
"Why do you need Hermione?" Ginny asked.
"So she can help me save Ron, to save all of them…"
Ginny frowned; "Save them… Harry, Ron is dead."
"But his soul is trapped in the void," Harry said solidly. "I think the answer to freeing those souls is in the memoirs Voldemort left behind, the ones Malfoy has been studying for five years."
"I can go get Hermione, I don't know if she'll listen but I can try. Heck, I'll stun her and drag her to Grimmauld Place if I have to. It would probably be safer than you showing up at her door. Her temper is nearly as bad as mine."
Harry glanced behind him, wondering the entire time if he was being trailed; "I need you to find somebody else for me."
"Who?" Ginny asked quickly.
Harry lowered his voice; "Luna Lovegood."
Cho sat in the upstairs bedroom of Grimmauld place with a few tears streaming down her face. She had done it to herself again. What she had promised she wouldn't ever do again. Harry was never coming back. She had to accept that. This was what life dealt her and she had to live with it.
She went to pick herself up and go home when something she was not expecting occurred. A soft crack sounded through the walls and her heart stopped.
"It can't be," Cho whispered as she slowly opened the door and peered over the banister.
The figure who had apparated was still wearing a dark cloak. It was same figure she had seen at St. Mungo not long before then. Her voice caught in her throat and she knew she couldn't speak. Time seemed to creep by as the figure started to remove the cloak and reveal his face.
She turned around and place her hand to her mouth. A hundred emotions engulfed her. It would have been easier to run and never look back, but she knew she'd regret doing so for the rest of her life.
Finally she turned back around. Her heart seemed to disappear as she saw him looking straight at her. There was no confusion or expectation.
"Hello," Cho said softly as her voice quivered.
Harry turned his head causing Cho to shift uncomfortably.
"You shouldn't be here," Harry said flatly.
Cho felt a few tears well up in her eyes, "I can leave. I didn't realize my permission had expired."
Harry didn't respond.
Cho suddenly drew a deep breath; "Welcome home then…"
"Cho," Harry finally stammered, "Wait."
"No, you're right. There really isn't much left to say between us. It was a long time ago. Things change, people change…. Plans change," Cho said softly as her body started to shake a bit harder.
Harry seemed to study her as neither dared to move.
"Congratulations on your marriage," Harry finally said awkwardly.
Cho startled, "Yes, well…."
"You look well," Harry continued in his same forced tone, "happy."
"Looks can be deceiving," Cho replied faintly.
After a few more moments of silence Cho finally managed to find her complete voice.
"Where have you been?"
Harry swallowed hard, "I had to go away."
"That wasn't what I asked."
"It was just something that I had to decided and I did. It was better for me to leave. Better for both of us," Harry finished, his eyes staring straight into Cho's.
Cho nodded, "If you had to go away, then you had to go. It would have been nice to remember you weren't the only one who was affected by your decision."
"There wasn't time. I had to go, it was the only way to keep you safe," Harry said sternly, regret apparent on his face.
"Did you love her?" Cho asked as her lip trembled.
Harry flinched; "Noel didn't deserve t die. She died, because of me. Because she loved me."
Harry's answer pierced that air as Cho suddenly seemed to compose herself and walk down the stairs.
"I should really return this to you. I have no right to keep it."
Cho tugged gently on her finger and removed a golden ring with the etchings of the moon engraved on it. Harry felt his chest tighten as he realized she had never taken if off her finger. She still wore his ring.
Cho held out the tiny band of gold with a steady hand, trying to hold all emotions back on her face.
"I gave that ring to you… I don't want it back," Harry replied shaking his head.
Cho swallowed; "It meant nothing. Why would I want to keep it?"
Harry stared at Cho's hand that had started to tremble.
"It did mean something, you know it did."
"Do I?" Cho said, her voice growing shaky.
Harry blinked as he suddenly grabbed her hand and enclosed it in his, "Cho, I loved you… I still do. I wouldn't have abandoned everything if I hadn't. I couldn't let anything happen to you. Bad things happen to people who love me…"
"You should have come to me—I would have run away with you. I would have followed you anywhere," Cho sobbed, "I still would, if only you asked."
Harry felt the air leave his lungs as suddenly the space between was closed and the past suddenly became the present again. Their lips relished in the bittersweet familiar sensation. Then as suddenly as it had begun it ended.
"We can't do this," Cho breathed.
"You're married," Harry finished for her.
Cho shook her head softly; "I am… it's too late for us…. Why did you come back?"
Harry lowered his head; "There is something I've got to do. There are too many things left unfinished."
Cho's eyes widened; "You're going after Malfoy."
Harry affirmed her suspicions; "It's the only way to keep you and everybody else in the wizarding world safe."
Cho hands flew up to her face; "You can't, I can't lose you again."
"Cho, you have a good life now. Much better than I could have ever given you. Don't let my sacrifice be in vain. Love Mario, give him the part of your heart I was too foolish to accept," Harry pleaded, "Go home."
"Harry," Cho started as he drew her in for one last kiss.
Harry smiled as he pushed a strand of hair out of her face; "You are the love of my life, you always have been—you always will be."
Cho sobbed as her head fell into Harry's chest.
"You have to go," Harry said softly as his hand touched her back, "You can't stay here with me."
Cho backed away, "I'm not going anywhere. I went through Auror training same as you, this is my fight too."
"You're married now, you have a husband to consider," Harry argued.
Cho clinched her fist; "I only married Mario because I wanted to get you home. I don't love Mario! Not like I love you."
"Cho, we will always love one another—love was never the problem. But our paths are divided. We have to go our separate ways," Harry said softly, "I would never be able to forgive myself if something were to happen…."
"But you expect me to live without you?" Cho asked.
Harry lowered his head; "It's my destiny. I'm just sorry I was never able to give you what I promised."
"Don't apologize. You're here now," Cho said suddenly.
Harry glanced at his watch; "I don't have much time. If I survive and if things turn out differently… if this war truly ends tonight."
"That's a lot of ifs."
Harry nodded; "I know…. I don't expect you to leave the life you have created. I would never ask you to leave your husband."
"You wouldn't have to," Cho interrupted; "I would follow you where ever you lead me. I'd leave this life and everything in it to be with you."
Cho quickly let her lips graze Harry's and then she pulled back; "Don't you dare leave me again. Go, do what you feel you must, but don't forget what I've said."
Harry closed his eyes; "Don't forget me."
Cho let her hand graze his face; "How could I ever forget—Harry Potter."
A few pops sounded throughout the room causing both Harry and Cho to back away from one another.
"Go," Harry said softly; "When I'm done, I'll find you."
Cho sighed but nodded before closing her eyes and disappearing.
Ginny Weasley looked questionable at Harry as Cho left his side, but didn't ask a single question. Hermione Grange stood next to her along with a figure draped in a dark cloak.
"You took a great risking coming back," the cloaked figure said darkly, "our arrangement?"
Harry nodded; "I'll make sure Dumbledore knows of our accord. If you are true to your word then you're name will be cleared and you'll be permitted to reenter the wizarding society."
"Harry, you can't actually expect, her to keep her word," Ginny argued.
Harry glanced at Ginny; "I don't have a choice."
He then glanced at Hermione who was looking rather confused but determined; "Did Ginny tell you?"
Hermione nodded; "I'm only doing this for Ron."
"I know," Harry said softly.
"After I'm done, I want nothing to do with the wizarding world ever again," Hermione said quickly. "I'd rather pretended it doesn't even exists."
Harry glanced at his long time friend and how time had changed her. She was bitter and cold. Her eyes no longer reflected a warm knowledgeable witch but a miserable muggle.
"Luna, where is the lair?" Harry asked turning his attention towards the Death Eater.
Luna's eyes gleamed from beneath her hood; "It's easy to find. It's right where it shouldn't be in London. The password is Avieta Krentaa, but the password hasn't been activated in years. The only way to get to the lair is by me."
"How do you mean?" Hermione asked.
Luna rolled up her sleeve and touched the spot on her arm until it turned black; "Hold on."
Harry reached for Luna's arm as did Hermione as Luna placed her finger to her arm. It was different than apparating and different then using a port-key. It was a sensation words couldn't describe.
As the three appeared Luna gave them a quick parting nod and then disappeared.
"Where to now?" Hermione asked.
Harry reached for Hermione's hand as the proceeded down a long dark corridor. Upon reaching the end was a tall ancient looking doorway that was already cracked open. The two walked through.
Hermione squeezed Harry's hand slightly and pulled him back.
"Harry," Hermione whispered; "I'm glad we're doing this together. Thank-you."
Harry smiled; "I think this was both our destines."
Hermione shook her head in agreement.
"For Ron?" Harry asked.
"For Ron, and everybody else we've lost."
Together the two pushed opened the door and entered into the room. It was illuminated in an eerie green glow.
"Harry Potter, we meet again."
Harry froze. He knew that voice.
"It can't be?" Harry muttered as he eyes grew wide. He pulled Hermione behind him.
"I killed you!"
The figure had his back to them but started to laugh. His baldhead glowing in the light.
"Did you know, I who took all the precautions to ensure eternal life. I knew even if the Allotimious Amora Kedavra curse was used that there could be another way."
Hermione gasped as the figured turned around.
"Malfoy?" Hermione asked.
The ghastly figured laughed again; "Malfoy, I knew he'd be easy to fool. Those who crave power are always predictable."
"You tricked him, with your memoirs. There was a spell or something that promised power but offered death," Hermione said suddenly.
Voldemort laughed; "Clever girl."
"So Malfoy is dead?" Harry asked.
Voldemort grinned; "Not exactly… he's right here. The heir of the short lived Dragon Lord. A suitable host….I've been waiting, patiently. I knew you'd eventually come."
"What would you want with Harry?" Hermione asked curtly as she suddenly drew her wand.
Harry reached for Hermione's hand and lowered it; "No, Hermione."
"Ah, you feel it to. You're powers are great and reality has finally presented itself."
"In essences divided," Harry said under his breath.
"Yes, quite divided. Now my search ends," Voldemort said in a smooth voice.
Hermione looked at Harry then back at Voldemort; "What's divided."
"For twenty-four years I've searched for the missing part of my being, now… my soul has returned."
Harry blinked, a wave of memories that were not his own flooded his mind. Terrible memories.
"NO!" Harry shirked.
Hermione jumped as she pressed against the wall.
"Yes," Voldemort urged; "It's time to become one… Harry Potter. Your mother stole my soul twenty-four years ago. Now, it's time to reclaim what was stolen from me."
Hermione suddenly looked at Voldemort then back to Harry. Realization was overtaking her. Her face was struck in a look of terror. She knew in that moment that she would never leave this room.
Harry had his head in his hands shaking violently.
"He's just a memory!" Hermione yelled, "Listen to me Harry, he's just a memory. Don't you see… don't you remember Lockheart."
Suddenly Hermione was engulfed by a green wave as the killing curse resounded in the air. Harry remained paralyzed and unable to move and powerless to stop it. With a loud thump Hermione's body hit the ground.
Her words raced in Harry's mind as it fought its way past all the memories.
"It's time," Voldemort hissed.
Harry finally felt clarity… he's only a memory. He lifted his wand and looked Voldemort right in his red coal eyes. Oblivate! The simple memory charm raced towards the Dark Lord causing a bright
light to suddenly explode within him. Harry suddenly felt a ripping
pain coursing through his body in the same moment. His eyes raced with
energy as the green suddenly faded into a hazel brown. Though nobody
would ever see it. A bright light blazed in front of Harry as the world suddenly began to
fade. He felt a warm hand engulf his and pull him forward. "Harry." Harry blinked as a smiling Hermione lead him forward. "They're waiting," Hermione said simply, "It's time to go." Harry looked back for only a second when he saw a waving Ron and Sirius urging him forward. "They're free?" Harry asked, but Hermione only smiled in response. Suddenly a deep heat resonated throughout his body and it fell limp.
Draco Malfoy's possessed body dropped in the same moment as the library
around them erupted into flames.
He lifted his wand and looked Voldemort right in his red coal eyes. Oblivate!
The simple memory charm raced towards the Dark Lord causing a bright light to suddenly explode within him. Harry suddenly felt a ripping pain coursing through his body in the same moment. His eyes raced with energy as the green suddenly faded into a hazel brown. Though nobody would ever see it.
A bright light blazed in front of Harry as the world suddenly began to fade. He felt a warm hand engulf his and pull him forward.
Harry blinked as a smiling Hermione lead him forward.
"They're waiting," Hermione said simply, "It's time to go."
Harry looked back for only a second when he saw a waving Ron and Sirius urging him forward.
"They're free?" Harry asked, but Hermione only smiled in response.
Suddenly a deep heat resonated throughout his body and it fell limp. Draco Malfoy's possessed body dropped in the same moment as the library around them erupted into flames.
An old man with a long dark beard meandered around the room of ash. There wasn't much less. He bent down and picked up a small wooden wand. He ran his long robes across the wand and polished it a bit before tucking it back into his pocket.
"Balance has been restored…thank-you, Harry Potter."
The old man turned away and nodded towards Michael Corner and a couple other Aurors.
"There isn't anything left here. Seal this room up and let it be forgotten. You'll need to contact Rita Skeeter at the Daily Prophet. Harry Potter has passed away. A memorial will be built in Hogmeade in honor of his sacrifice."
"Minister?" Michael asked.
Dumbledore smiled widely; "Oh, I almost forgot. Luna Lovegood will be cleared of all charges."
The group of Aurors watched in confusion as Albus Dumbledore left the room, humming a light tune."
Balance was restored to the magical world. It was like a heavy drape had been lifted. All those who suffered due to dark magic seemed miraculous healed. As a group of long time friends stood together again as the dedication ceremony to the Harry Potter memorial.
Dumbledore had urged those who remained behind not to be sad. Harry was at peace and in a place surrounded by those who he loved. Those who love us never truly leave us and if fate was held, he would be seen again.
Hermione also had passed, and her name was celebrated among witches. Her name would grace the pages of books for centuries to come. She would always be remembered as the cleverest witch of her age. If it weren't for Hermione, Harry would have never fulfilled his destiny.
Ginny reached down and touched her stomach as Oliver Wood pulled her close to him in support. Her mother Molly wept as she watched with both pride and anguish as those who lost their lives in the struggle had their names engaged at the base of the memorial.
Dumbledore announced each name as it became etched it gold and
appeared. As the last name appeared the crowd silently began to
disperse. It was time to let go and move on.
Remus Lupin reached for December's hand as he smiled at her. Harry's sacrifice had save him. As the balance to magic was restored all the dark magic was undone. His curse had been lifted.
Ginny also felt her soul released as the scars left behind by Tom Riddle had been erased.
The rest of Harry's former classmates and friends would have pleasant memories to take with them. Parvati Patil kissed her hand and placed it on the stone before she turned to embrace her sobbing sister.
Neville Longbottom gave a respectful nod in gratitude for what Harry had really done. Susan Bones smiled as Terry placed a white rose on the ground near the names as they passed, and Michael Corner muttered the single word "peace."
The rest passed what was left of Harry Potter's legacy and paid their last respects as they said good-bye to their friend until only one person remained.
Cho Chang sat on her knees alone staring at the large marble stone etched with names. She had lost him again. All her dreams her hopes had once again died. He was suppose to come back for her. She was suppose to go away with him.
Cho sobbed a bit louder as her head lowered and her tears damped the ground. Her scars had to been lifted. Her soul was free of the vampire curse that had haunted her. Yet her heart remained broken. Her husband Mario stood in the background, knowing he could offer no peace to his wife.
December O'Riley suddenly walked past him and approached Cho. She placed an understanding hand on her shoulder causing her to look up.
"You love him even now," December started, "Every day you dreamt about him breaking through your door and taking you away from the life filled with pain."
Cho didn't respond.
"Now, he's gone… and the reality of never having him to hold again feels like too much to bear. It will get better. You have a husband who loves you. You may never love Mario like you love Harry, but he's here now."
"How can I go back to the way things were?" Cho asked in a weak voice.
December turned her head; "You just do… dark days pass, but they are never forgotten. Your love with Harry will never die."
Cho shook her head and wiped the tears off her face.
"Besides, you'll see him again," December said with a smile.
She offered Cho a hand and helped her to her feet before engulfing her into a hug and walking to away from the memorial and back towards life.
Well, this story is now complete. Thank-you to everybody who had stayed with me through the ride. I hope this long chapter makes up for all the short one I've posted lately. I will go back and edit it, but I needed to publish it before submissions closed. If any of you guys have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at
I don't know if I'll write another story. I'll have to wait to see if HBP inspires me J
Happy Reading everybody. After tomorrow, this story will be the past, but hopefully never forgotten.