Disclaimer: Harry Potter and his wonderful universe don't belong to me, but to the real wizard, J.K. Rowling.
Author's Note: Sorry, for the wait. Also, sorry if I confuse anyone with the slight change of formatting. Don't panic. You have reached the infamous My Place, Chapter 40, by Opals of Autumn!
Unexpectedly, as I was writing this the thought of an epilogue crossed my mind, so I'm going to give it a shot. However, if it does not go to plan then I will come back and edit this chapter to make it more final. Wish me luck!
Chapter 40: My Place
THUD. THUD. THUD.
Harry's trunk bumped down the stairs, each thud a memory for Harry. A memory of his rough start in St. Brutus's, discovering where exactly he'd ended up, meeting his father and his grandparents, seeing Sirius again, meeting his mother. A part of Harry's heart keened at the thought of leaving these people he would never see again.
However, an equally determined part of Harry's brain knew what his heart could not comprehend. He had already made enough of a mess of the past. If he changed it much more who could say what the future would hold? Plus, Snape would absolutely kill Harry if he didn't use the very complicated potion that Harry's least favorable professor had slaved over for nearly half a year.
Most of all, what had resolved Harry's decision and was quieting his heart, was what Harry had witnessed when he had returned Edgar to his home. Edgar's family had been utterly shocked and speechless to see their beloved son on their front step after all those years. They were quick to recover though, and embraced Edgar tightly faces shining with tears and the light of life. It didn't matter that Edgar had changed. He was alive.
Edgar had had nothing to worry about, but people often do worry about things that turn out to be just fine in the end. In fact, it was his sister, who he's so worried about, who had hugged him first. Clearly Edgar had not been shoved aside, forgotten. How could a parent forget a child?
Especially a mother? Mother's are at one point literally attached to their offspring, but even when that literal tie is gone the bond is still there, immense yet out of sight, it binds two hearts together, it runs through the veins, gives the heart its own rhythm, and when mother and child hug and their hearts get so close together again that the bond strengthens sending its subjects into true bliss, eternal love. It's a love that can never be erased, never be severed, and never go missing.
Harry would never forget hugging his mother goodbye at the Hogwarts Express at the end of the year. At the same time, Harry knew he would not have been easily forgotten in the future. Who could forget the The Boy Who Lived's name any time soon?
Then why did Harry feel a niggling in the back of his mind that was telling him that something wasn't right about going back right now? It wasn't the jibe Harry had been feeling all year from the shaky terms between his father was it?
Speak of the devil.
"That-that was a nice thing you did, letting Sirius stay." James shifted from foot to foot not quite looking Harry in the eye.
Harry blinked. "He needs you more than I do." He replied, surprising himself, his mouth responding to his unselfish side before its evil twin could interject. Harry was shocked by how much he meant it now that he had said it and added with a short laugh, "He gets along with you better."
James's eyes flicked over Harry's.
Harry gave him a small smile. "Stay strong." He said. Then he pushed past James a grin breaking over his face. He was going home.
James's parents waited for Harry at the door. Upon catching sight of Harry, Mrs. Potter's full eyes promptly spilled silent tears. Harry was amazed by the sight of them, for even together they looked diminished in the strained light coming through the curtains. Shadows played over their flesh hollowing out their eyes.
He hugged them tight, not noticing the awkwardness of too many limbs, not paying attention to the feeling of the bob of Mr. Potter's Adam's apple, just memorizing the feel of them. He whispered muffled by the closeness, "I'll never forget."
Harry suspected he never would. He would never forget the past. It shaped you into who you were in the future. Harry would carry some part of this year with him always.
He would never forget meeting his parents and grandparents. They were just as important for shaping his future. Family installed values. Family gave you strength. Family gave you a reason for fighting.
And Harry would fight. He would fight for all those other children who had been orphaned and for those who could be orphans. He would fight for the future. He would fight for a future.
"Mrs. Potter," Harry said interrupting the hug, "I want you to take this."
"Harry!" Mrs. Potter replied alarmed when she saw what Harry was handing her; "No, Harry, I can't!"
"I won't be needing it." Harry told her firmly, "And no before you ask-I'm not going to live as a muggle-I have another wand where I'm going, but someone will be needing this wand in the future."
Mrs. Potter didn't quite seem to know what to say. She didn't know what was more intriguing—that Harry had another wand somewhere else or that he could see into the future.
"I need you to take this back to Mr. Ollivander. He'll be expecting you." Harry said and hugged Mrs. Potter tightly once more. Then he walked out the door and down the street disappearing at the end of the street.
Neighbors would say later that this mysterious boy vanished after throwing back a gulp of purple concoction into a severe heavy blue fog that obscured him from sight. They didn't know just how long it would be until Harry faced the world again.
"Mr. Potter," a voice hissed in his ear no longer than a second after his knees hit the ground.
Harry ignored the voice and instead breathed deeply trying to relieve the tightness that had developed in his chest during the twisting, turning ride. He coughed out clouds of green fog, but did not turn any greener himself.
Harry turned his head.
Snape sneered and said simply, "Hold on."
And the world swirled before Harry's eyes once again, but this time it never came back into focus. Instead, a blackness stole over him and the world went silent.
"Severus, I thought I told you bring Harry back. I don't think I ever suggested you knock him out."
Harry heard the words through fuzzy ears. The sounds came at him like a badly tuned radio.
"I didn't do it. Potter didn't eat before he came as he should have."
Harry groaned and curled up into his stomach.
"Well, it appears you didn't do as much damage as I had presumed."
A pair of hands flipped him over and Harry winced at a bright light that was abruptly aimed in his right eye. He sleepily batted the light away.
"He seems to have had a slight reaction to the side-along apparation."
"You have the potion I assume."
A glittery potion was forced into Harry's mouth. Hands quickly aided his throat in swallowing the potion which smelled and tasted like rotten seafood.
After a few moments, the fog cleared from his head and Harry was able to sit up and inquire, "Ergh, what was that?"
"That, Harry, was Professor Snape's wizard version of gravol." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled at Harry. "Rather good of him to have some with him right now, isn't it?"
Harry swallowed cautiously then turned his head over to Snape, "Er, thanks…Sir."
Snape sneered, "The pleasure was all mine." Then with a sharp glance at Dumbledore Snape turned on his heel and marched out the door.
Professor Dumbledore and Harry watched his back retreat. "I believe he is still in a bit of disbelief. He still can't seem to accept you're not your father."
"I realize that!" Harry said jumping into the conversation, "I didn't get along very well with my father. We don't have all that much in common aside from looks and a penchant for trouble."
"Indeed," Dumbledore said inclining his head and pulling a small tin from his pocket, "Lemon Drop?"
"No thanks," Harry responded, "but could I ask you a few questions?" The picture of the Order several decades ago had come floating up out of his subconscious and grabbed him by the shoulders, refusing to let go.
Dumbledore nodded again.
"Did you know Edgar Bones?"
Dumbledore's bushy, white eyebrows disappeared up into his hair and he cocked his head at Harry. "Indeed, Harry, indeed, but how do you know him?"
"I met him at St. Brutus's. He was originally introduced to me as No Name, but I met him again just a couple days ago. I took him back to his family."
"David and Victoria Bones," Dumbledore muttered, more to himself than to Harry, "I had no idea he had been at St. Brutus's. You must have had quite the trip, Harry."
"Yes sir," Harry replied, "But where is he now? I'd like to visit him."
"Number nine Hillside," Dumbledore answered with a far off look in his eye. "And you might want to stop by and visit your alter ego."
"Thank you," Harry merely said. Dumbledore had a look written in the lines of his face that suggested Harry not ask for more. He looked so old that Harry granted him his wish and went on to another topic that had rose to mind.
"Sir, when I was in the past I was having these dreams about Neville, er, not exactly Neville, but his parents."
Dumbledore did not seem surprised by this. Although with magic probably stranger things had happened.
"They were these ongoing dreams about the night that the Death Eaters came to the Longbottoms."
Dumbledore's eyes glinted from behind his half-moon spectacles and he said quietly, "I'm sorry."
"Yes," Harry agreed, "Professor? I have a theory about Neville. I'm not sure if it's ever been brought up but was Neville treated for the Cruciatus Curse that night?"
"The Cruciatus Curse? Neville?"
"Yes," Harry replied, "It was accidentally cast on him-not for very long-but I was wondering if anyone had known. It might explain how Neville's magical powers are so slow in developing."
Dumbledore removed his glasses tiredly. He didn't look up until he had finished cleaning them on his long purple robes. When he did he looked older and wearier from before, as if the sheer effort of cleaning his glasses had drained him.
"Harry," he said and cleared his throat, "I have a great many regrets. Perhaps one of my greatest is that night, and if what you have said is true-that Neville had the Cruciatus Curse cast on him and it went untreated-then it is."
There was a long moment of silence.
"I mustn't waste anymore time." Dumbledore said resolutely, "Harry you go to the Hospital Wing and explain your theory to Madam Pomfrey. I will go and retrieve Neville."
Harry didn't have to agree, they had both set off for the spiral staircase out of Dumbledore's office before he had even finished talking. When they reached the bottom Dumbledore murmured, "It is times like these we all wish we could go back and correct the past."
Harry nodded but said, "Once you're there things are a lot trickier than you think. It's like being an extra finger. Some people want to keep you and others see you as a nuisance. Either way you shouldn't be there and don't fit properly."
Dumbledore looked at him.
"This is where I belong. This is my place."
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