Author Notes

Zaraky : I didn't take it critically, I was kidding. I actually agree with you. Kari isn't a full/fleshed out character. She only exists to give some good reason for the distance between Ron/Hermione and Harry. And to give him some support. The type of review you gave is exactly what I want. It makes me go back and think about what I did. I appreciate it.

Ak-Alterego: My only other thought for a title was Harry Potter & the Tome of Renaul. Didn't really like either.

End Author Notes

Some time later, Harry woke up to the familiar smell. It was dark but he still instinctively reached to the nightstand for his glasses. A feeling of dread and the need to escape suddenly flooded him. He felt trapped, like he didn't belong in this place. Before he could make a move to get up, the room lightened a bit and Professor Dumbledore stepped out from the shadows. "Ah, you are awake much sooner than we expected." The calming voice seemed to push the initial thoughts out of his mind and when Harry got a look at the man, he thought the Headmaster seemed somewhat different but couldn't place what. "How are you feeling?"

Harry tried to bend a little. "Just a little sore sir," Harry said with a scratchy throat still trying to understand his initial feelings. Dumbledore handed him a glass of water which he quickly downed. "Thanks." "Did it work? Is it over?" Harry asked.

"Yes it worked," Dumbledore said with a small smile. "Is it over? I'm afraid it is never truly over." Seeing Harry's confusion he added, "Was it over when I defeated Grindewald? We hoped so but then Tom came along. Voldemort is over, I can attest to that. I dealt with the remains myself."

"How long? Is everyone ok?" Harry simply asked.

"A few days," the Headmaster replied. "Everyone is fine as well. You gave us quite a scare but I must say you recovered more rapidly than anyone expected." After looking at Harry for a moment he added, "Miss Boslav and your friends were most hesitant to leave but with final exams they were forced to." Hearing a loud snore got Harry's attention and he saw his Godfather curled up in a chair not far away. "Nothing however could force Sirius to leave," Dumbledore added still watching Harry closely. "There has been much celebrating as you can imagine. The truth was quickly made known."

Harry grimaced, let out a long breath and said, "He killed Altair." Dumbledore sadly nodded. "How many more of them?"

"A fair number Harry," Dumbledore admitted. "Altair was prepared for this. He made the choice just as you did to do whatever was necessary. You know it wouldn't have worked without his presence. Voldemort would have known something wasn't right.

"You should expect visitors from their clan," Dumbledore said causing Harry to look surprised. "You trusted them implicitly. That is something rare and you will always have a bond to them." After watching Harry take in this information he added, "A few of the Death Eaters however escaped."

"Malfoy," Harry spat.

"No, Lucius did not survive the battle."

Harry nodded and then snapped, "Bellatrix!"

"Somehow she managed to get away."


"Interesting story," Dumbledore calmly said. "It seems he tried to stop Bellatrix from cursing you just before you disappeared with Voldemort." Harry remembered a curse narrowly missing his head. "She quickly killed him. Maybe he knew this was his last chance to repay the Wizard Debt to you."

"You sent me to my parent's house," Harry said looking confused.

"I said to the place where your connection to the tormented souls would be the strongest," Dumbledore sadly said and then noticed the necklace Harry was still wearing. "I didn't know you still had the life-stone."

"Kari gave it to me before I left. I had to promise to bring it back to her," Harry said and finally allowed himself to smile.

"And I assume that is the happy thought you focused on…"

Harry nodded and then remembered something. "His wand! Sir, I had Voldemort's wand when I came back."

"It is in my office. I didn't think it wise to just be lying around. You may retrieve it before you depart."

"You want me to take it? But it killed my parents," Harry gasped but then felt slightly anxious to retrieve the wand.

"Voldemort killed your parents Harry. The wand was just a tool he used," Dumbledore replied watching Harry closely.

Harry noticed the bandage on his left hand. "Take a look. I imagine it is almost healed by now," Dumbledore prodded.

Pulling off the bandage, Harry saw a still raw mark in the exact same shape as the scar on his forehead. "Great, another bloody scar for people to gawk at."

"I don't think you'll mind this one quite so much," Dumbledore said holding up his own left hand to show the same scar, just fainter on his palm. "You have some company this time. Molly Weasley is especially proud of hers. Sirius is most disappointed that yours will be more pronounced." Seeing Harry's confusion he said, "I will tell you the full story later and you can tell me yours. You will be able to leave soon. Madame Pomphrey was convinced to let you decide when you were ready." After a pause, Dumbledore rummaged in his pocket and produced a small object. Handing this object to Harry he said, "We've confiscated many of these from students. It has been hard to keep them focused on their exams. Please wait until I am out of the room." Dumbledore nodded at Sirius' sleeping form, smiled at Harry and then left the room. As soon as the old Wizard heard the doors close behind him he grasped onto the wall for support. It was quite some time before he finally made it back to his office.

Harry looked at the object and instantly recognized it as one of the twin's fireworks. Prodding the small object with his wand caused it to whiz into the air exploding with a loud 'Bang'. Sirius fell off the chair and jumped up, wand wildly waving around. When he looked up, he saw a large glowing red lightning bolt near the ceiling.

"That wasn't much louder than your snoring," Harry said smiling brightly at the look on Sirius' face.

"That was just bloody mean!" Sirius said looking truly angry for a second but seeing the smile on Harry's face made him lose any negative thoughts and he came to hug his Godson tightly. "You did it!"

"We did it," Harry corrected, holding in the slight pain Sirius was causing.

"Sure but you get the better mark," Sirius said showing Harry the lightning scar on his left hand. "How do you feel?"

"Pretty good actually," Harry said looking confused. "With everything he did to me, I can't believe I feel this good."

Sirius grimaced and said, "You almost didn't make it. Dumbledore did something that helped you get through it. He won't say what though."

Harry wondered what the Headmaster had done but decided to just ask about it later. "Well I feel fine now. If I wasn't sore I'd feel great actually."

"Remus has been in and out," Sirius said. "Of course your friends have been here a lot. I thought Kari was going to hex Albus when he forced her to leave." Harry smiled at this thought. He knew Kari was a very strong-willed person.

"No more Dursleys," Harry said smiling at his Godfather.

"But there are still Death Eaters and they haven't been silent. Some don't believe he's gone and others are trying to do as much damage as possible before they're caught," Sirius said.

"I'm not going back," Harry coldly said startling Sirius by the tone.

"You've earned the right to make that choice," Sirius said watching Harry intently. "Grimmauld place will have to be good enough."

"I want to rebuild my parent's house," Harry firmly said realizing that is where he ultimately wanted to live.

Sirius made a face and asked, "After everything that happened there?" Seeing the look of determination on Harry's face he added, "If that's what you want but let's give it some time."

Sirius went on to tell Harry about all the Prophet articles about him and how Molly Weasley had threatened to hex the next reporter that even attempted to contact Harry. Finally, Harry was able to convince Sirius that the man should be out celebrating instead of hanging around the Hospital with him. With some peace and quiet, Harry was able to finally replay what happened in those final moments. What he couldn't understand was some of the memories that seemed to occupy his mind as well as a slight desire to get far away.

It was just after lunch when the doors flew open causing Harry to hope to see Kari walk through but wasn't disappointed to see one of his best friends come in instead. "Harry!" Hermione quickly said and gave him a tentative hug.

"I'm fine Hermione," Harry said smiling. "You don't have to worry about hurting me."

"You looked so bad Harry," Hermione said tearing up even though she was happy. "We really didn't think you were going to make it."

"You were there?" Harry exclaimed, wide-eyed.

Hermione nodded and said, "We went looking for you and the map showed everyone here so…well…you know us…"

"Can't keep your nose out of things," he teased.

Hermione smiled a bit, knowing Harry was just teasing. "I can't believe you really did it. It's over."

"Where's Ron," Harry asked just now realizing his other friend wasn't around.

"Oh," Hermione said looking a bit nervous. "Well he's…" She sighed and said, "He's kind of upset right now." Seeing Harry's confused look she said, "We know everything now. How you let Draco overhear when you told us about Professor Lupin." Harry's eyes showed the guilt he felt but Hermione continued, "And that you heard the Prophecy last year."

"I didn't want talk about the Prophecy," Harry said. "I just didn't want you guys to worry so much." Pausing for a second he said, "Dumbledore told me not to tell anyone about the real plan. He knew Malfoy was watching me. I told Kari the same story as well."

"But then you told her the truth," Hermione said with slightly more annoyance than she intended. "And you told her about the Prophecy."

Dropping back on the bed, something deep within Harry made him feel like he wanted to rage at Hermione but seeing the hurt look on her face made him say, "I can't keep anything from her. You've got Ron to share things with."

Hermione was quiet for a good bit but then said, "I can kind of understand. I just miss it being the three of us. But at least you're talking to someone."

"Thanks Hermione," Harry replied. "I don't think it'll be so easy with Ron though."

Shaking her head, Hermione said, "Probably not. He's also upset that his mom went through so much." Harry grimaced. "She wouldn't have it any other way," Hermione quickly added. "I think he's more upset that she helped instead of him. I kind of feel the same way about that. We would have done that for you."

"Professor Dumbledore said it had to be people that I knew for sure loved me," Harry said and saw the hurt look come over Hermione. "I couldn't have any doubt that they really loved me. This year, heck even last year has just been hard for us, especially with me and Ron." "I couldn't even come up with four people," Harry quickly added. "It wasn't until Professor Dumbledore made me think about why he made some of the choices he did concerning me that I realized it was really out of love and not simply using me as a tool."

"He would never use you like that," Hermione quickly said.

"You don't know how it was Hermione," Harry snapped but then caught his anger. "You can't possibly know," he said softly.

"Well," Hermione said trying to sound cheerful, "all that's in the past. You did it. It's just amazing. There's been whole Prophet editions about you." Harry groaned. "At least this time it was because of something you can remember; and choose to do."

"But I had help!" Harry added.

"That got reported as well. Professor Dumbledore's kind of getting some bad press since everyone said it should have been him and not you but the others are being praised." Harry smiled a bit at this. "Of course you're everyone's hero," Hermione teased.

"Great," Harry groaned.

Hermione took his hand and firmly said, "You are though. You know that, right?"

"I just did what had to be done. It was our best chance," Harry quickly replied.

Nodding, Hermione said, "And that's what makes you the hero. Things may have changed a bit with all of us but you're still my best friend. Ron and I are together but in many ways you and I are closer. You're family as much as my parents are."

Those words nearly brought a tear to his eye and he hugged her saying, "You're my best friend too Hermione. No matter what happens with Kari I'd do anything for you."

"I know you would," Hermione said, "and you should know that I love you no matter what. Ron does too, he just needs some time." Harry couldn't respond to this so he just hugged her again.

Later that afternoon, Madame Pomphrey had just finished running her wand over Harry when she said, "I suppose you insist on leaving tomorrow?" Harry just smiled at the woman. "Well you have come a long way in the past few days. I still think…."

"Oh no!" Kari exclaimed quickly entering the room. "He's out of here in the morning. We've already been over this." Harry wondered if it had been Kari that convinced Madame Pomphrey that he could leave as soon as he felt ready.

Madame Pomphrey looked ready to explode but Kari didn't seem intimidated. Harry however just stared at the girl in amazement. The Matron turned back to Harry and said, "I'll see you in the morning Mr. Potter." With that she turned and left the room without another look at the girl.

Turning back to the patient, Kari launched herself into him and hugged him tight. As soon as she let up Harry said, "Man you're scary sometimes. And I thought you were such a nice sweet girl."

"Stuff it Potter," Kari said giving him a firm kiss. "I've never given you the impression I'm a nice sweet girl. And," she said pausing to kiss him again, "as I recall you didn't have a big problem with that."

"No problem at all," Harry said smiling. Holding out his hand, Harry dropped the life-stone back into her hand. "I promised I'd return this." He thought she was having a hard time controlling her emotions as he added, "It was you. I needed the happiest thought I could come up with and it was you."

This time Harry pulled her into a hug and when he let go, he could tell her eyes were quite wet but she dealt with it well. "Don't you ever put me through that again." Before Harry could say anything, she gave him another deep kiss.

"I'm done with the prophecy," Harry said smiling. "From now on I'll be plain old boring Harry."

Kari snorted a bit and said, "Somehow I don't ever see you being plain and boring." Kari spent the next hour telling Harry about all the celebrations and about Dumbledore binding a dozen reporters and sending them floating out of the castle. "And your bloody Gryffindors are strutting around here like they're king of the world. They're completely insufferable," she said shaking her head. "Like they had any clue what was going on."

"You don't mean that," Harry said and saw Kari roll her eyes. "What about the Slytherins?"

"A few of them left," she quickly said stunning Harry. "I think the ones whose parents were already Death Eaters are kind of afraid what you'll do to them."

"Me? What could I do to them?" Harry asked.

After shaking her head she said, "I've really got my work cut out with you. Know that?" After a quick kiss she said, "Don't think about them, we don't want their kind around anyway."

Just remembering something he asked, "What happened to Malfoy?"

"Convinced he belonged somewhere else," she said with an evil glare. "Should have been more but he didn't actually break any laws. Git. They should have let me take care of him"

Kari was sitting on the edge of Harry's bed still talking about everything else that was going on and all the wild stories being told about him when Madame Pomphrey came back in and firmly said, "Curfew was ten minutes ago Miss Boslav and your boyfriend may be the most famous Wizard in Britain right now but no student stays in my Ward overnight unless they're a patient."

Harry could see Kari tense up but he said, "Don't get on her wrong side or she won't fix me up so well next time. Just come back in the morning."

"Oh I'll be here," Kari said giving the woman another evil glare. "Now that tests are over you won't be able to get rid of me."

"I have no problem with that," Harry said with a final kiss.

It took Harry a while to fall asleep, even after the torches were put out and the Ward became dark. His sleep was less than peaceful though as flashes of things he didn't understand kept startling him away. A slight sound woke him sometime later. Slowly putting his glasses on, he realized he couldn't see very far in the dim light but something shimmering caught his eye just off to the side of his bed. Focusing hard on the shimmer, he was amazed as it slowly came into focus. Standing just besides the next bed was Ginny Weasley covered by what Harry now recognized as his Invisibility Cloak. 'How can I see through that?' Harry thought about it and quickly remembered Dumbledore being able to see through them. "Ginny," Harry softly said and watched the girl's eyes grow huge as she glanced down to see if her feet were sticking out. "It's not your feet," Harry joked. "Come closer."

Ginny took a tentative step and Harry said, "And take my cloak off. How'd you get it anyway?"

Slowly, Ginny removed the cloak still with a wide-eyed expression on her face. "How'd you see me?"

"How'd you get my cloak?" Harry asked smiling.

"Hermione thought you may need some company," Ginny said stepping just a little closer.

"Hermione's more likely to say I need my rest," Harry joked.

"Oh…well maybe she did say that but she still got the cloak for me. That's ok isn't it?"

"Of course! I've had enough sleep the past few days anyway."

"I figured you had visitors all day so that's why I didn't come by yet," she said fidgeting.

"You could have come up anytime, but it is kind of nice now that it's quiet," Harry said. "So you're not mad at me like Ron is?"

"Well," she said getting a sly glint in her eye, "definitely not as much as Ron but let's just say that if you weren't in the Hospital this conversation wouldn't be so quiet."

Harry actually laughed but then said, "Well now I'm glad Madame Pomphrey kept me overnight." He then turned serious and said, "I hope you can forgive me for not telling you everything. I just couldn't talk about the Prophecy. I could barely deal with it myself."

"I guess I can kind of understand," Ginny said now leaning against his bed. "I wanted to say that I'm sorry for getting all moody on you this year." She didn't let Harry talk and continued, "When you came back we all thought…well you didn't look good and I just thought that if you didn't make it well I wasted a bunch of time acting weird."

"No one should apologize to me for acting moody," Harry quickly said. "You all put up with me and continued to be my friend when I acted way worse than you ever did." The two were silent until Harry said, "How about we both just promise to say whatever we want to each other. I know you would never do anything to intentionally hurt me and I hope you know that I'd never hurt you on purpose either. You're one of my favorite people in the world."

Ginny beamed and said, "Yeah, that sounds good." Laughing she said, "You should see mom. She's always going around showing people her palm. Bill said that Fred and George laced the meal the other night so the whole family had a scar on their hand."

Harry laughed and then turned very serious as he said, "I really didn't know that getting hurt would cause them so much pain. I thought it was just supposed to be a little bit."

Ginny grimaced and said, "It was scary. But she sat us down that night and explained everything. She wouldn't want you to go through that without her." Harry nodded in silence but Ginny said, "We're all really proud of you. Before long things can get back to normal."

"Normal," Harry said sighing. "I don't really know what normal is. The best times I can remember are the few weeks I've been able to spend at the Burrow."

"Well," Ginny said smiling as she patted his hand, "you can spend as much time there now as you want. And with the twins gone, you'll be much safer than I ever was." Ginny stayed a while longer before she snuck back to the common room feeling very content.

Harry had just started trying to get back to sleep with a soft shuffle caught his ears. Thinking that Ginny had come back he looked around in the darkness again and saw no shimmering this time. Just as he was ready to dismiss this as sounds an old castle makes, he felt a wave of comfort and knew what was around. Sitting back up Harry now saw three darkened shapes at the end of his bed. "I wish I knew how you did that," Harry said. "Lumos," he added causing his wand to glow lighting up the immediate area. The Headmaster had mentioned that they may want to talk to him.

He now saw that there were three Vampires at the end of his bed, surveying him with curious smiles. Two very large middle-aged men on either side of a more petite woman. As much as Harry thought Altair exuded confidence, this female vampire had it is excess.

She stepped around to the side and said, "We may trust you Harry Potter but we won't give away all our secrets. My name is Daniella Drovich. I was appointed leader after Altair's murder." Harry grimaced at the thought of the Vampire being murdered by Voldemort. "He chose that path," she said in a more calming voice. "If he hadn't, Voldemort would have been suspicious."

"I know," Harry said still feeling bad. "I just hoped he would have made it somehow."

"He is being remembered as a hero," she said. "His sacrifice showed our people that he believed in what he told us."

"Thank you all for your help," Harry honestly said. "The papers didn't mention you had any part in it though."

The two male vampires grumbled a little but Daniella simply said, "How could they? If it had come out you were working with our kind, most would consider you just slightly above Voldemort. It is the only way."

"Is there any way we can change that?" Harry asked.

"Maybe in time," Daniella firmly said. "Now is not the time though. I wanted to come tonight to meet you in person and to say that Altair had confidence in what you were doing." Harry slowly nodded. "We have agreed to help with the Death Eaters who escaped, but must do it quietly. The Ministry would never accept our help."

"That's just crazy," Harry exclaimed. "We couldn't have beaten Voldemort without you."

"Of course you could have," Daniella firmly replied. "It may have taken longer but you would have. Maybe in the future things will change but for now we will remain in the shadows."

"If I can ever do anything, just ask," Harry said causing the two male vampires to look at each other.

"We may take you up on that Harry," Daniella said shaking his hand again. "If you ever want to talk, just focus really hard. One of us will feel it. We don't move as quickly as Wizards can but we will come."

It took Harry quite a while to finally fall asleep after the Vampires left. Every few minutes he would sit up to see if anyone else was in the room with him.

Harry had just gotten changed into his robes the next morning when Kari walked in asking, "So now that you're The Boy Who Kicked Butt are you ready to take over the ministry?"

"How about we finish school first?" Harry asked as he bumped shoulders with her.

"Bloody no-ambition Gryffindors," Kari teased. "So what do you want to do today?"

"Do you think everybody will leave me alone?" Harry asked and Kari quickly snorted. "I suppose that was too much to hope for. How about we just go out by the lake? If we can make it past them."

"Oh we can make it past," Kari said pulling out Harry's Invisibility Cloak. The shocked look must have shown on Harry's face. "No I haven't been sneaking into your dorm. However, I think that will be a goal of mine for next year." This made Harry's eyes grow wide. "The little Weasley girl was hanging around the top of the stairs to our dungeons this morning and told me that we may want this." This really surprised Harry. "Do I want to know why she has your Invisibility Cloak?"

"Hermione gave it to her so she could visit last night," Harry quickly said.

"Oh," Kari said. "That shouldn't bother me should it?"

"What?" Harry quickly exclaimed and then turned the girl around to face him. "I would never do anything that I thought would make you mad. You don't need to worry about that."

She only studied his face for a moment before kissing him and saying, "Good. I'd hate to see the headlines if I blasted you into next week so soon after you finished off You-Know-Who."

"You know I'm a hero now and you shouldn't be threatening me in public. Think of what it would do to my image," Harry joked as the two disappeared under the cloak.

After a quiet day where the two spent it hidden, moving amongst the students, both inside and outside of the castle, Harry headed back to the dorm to pack for the trip home in the morning. He was still under the Invisibility Cloak as he followed a younger student into their Common Room. Instantly he was glad he was hidden because there were banners with his name and congratulations everywhere. One thing that did make him happy however was that everyone seemed really happy. With all the attacks this year, it had been rare when the students had acted genuinely happy.

Silently he made his way up the stairs, narrowly avoiding other boys and snuck in. All of the other dorm mates were busy packing as well. Dean and Seamus seemed to be having a war with small objects that exploded with spots of color when they hit the other person. Ron seemed to just be pushing around what few things he had already put in his trunk. A small part of Harry wanted to yell at Ron for not coming to visit but the largest part of him wanted things to just go back to when they were happy.

Taking off his Invisibility Cloak without being noticed, Harry grabbed the top of his open trunk and slammed it shut causing a loud 'bang' to echo through the dorm. There were various shouts but Ron's roar of 'Bloody Hell!' was by far the loudest. "Sorry guys did I startle you?" Harry asked with a gleam in his eyes.

Three of his dorm mates instantly came over to congratulate him and ask questions but Ron seemed to be hanging back. Dean noticed and after elbowing Seamus and Neville, those three said they had to get back to packing.

Harry could tell that Ron was a mix of emotions and also knew his friend wasn't very good at handling conflicting emotions anyway so he decided to sidestep the entire subject. "Jeez mate," Harry said gesturing at Ron's stuff strewn across his bed, "I just got here and I'm not far behind you." Ron shrugged and dropped another few things into his trunk. Harry caught Neville's eye and nodded to the door.

Understanding Neville said to Dean and Seamus, "Hey guys could you help me with something out here?" Neville looked between Harry and Ron and then nodded to the door.

"Wha…?" Seamus started to ask before Dean hit him in the arm and said, "Sure Neville. Let's go."

Harry smiled at the boys as they left, grateful for their understanding. Ron was still fidgeting with the pile of clothes he just place in his trunk when Harry firmly asked, "So is this how it's going to be?" Ron spun around looking angry but Harry didn't back down and simply asked, "Well is it?"

"You knew about the Prophecy since last year. Why didn't you tell us?" Ron questioned obviously angry.

"I just didn't want to talk about it. At first I didn't know how to deal with it myself." Ron started to say something but Harry continued, "And you know how you two would have been. Hermione would have started crying and then spent every free hour in the library trying to find out some logical solution to the whole thing. And you would have gotten all mad because she was spending all her free time on that rather than with you."

Ron started to say something two or three times but always stopped. Finally he said, "But you didn't have a problem talking to the Slytherin about it."

"Her name is Kari, Ron. You should learn it," Harry snapped.

Ron flinched at the venom in Harry's voice but still said, "Fine but you still told her and not us. We've been your friends forever and you just told her."

Harry felt a stab of guilt at this and said, "I owed her Ron. I couldn't have gotten Sirius back without her. I owed her."

"You didn't tell us about that either!" Ron bellowed.

"Well sorry that upset you but it was the right thing," Harry yelled back. "I couldn't have done it without Kari and if I told you and Hermione what I was going to do, Hermione would have tried to stop me. She said she'd tell Dumbledore if I was even thinking about the Veil. And you wouldn't have stopped your girlfriend. I don't regret not telling you about that."

Harry could see Ron repeatedly clenching his fists but knew that his friend had to know he was right about how Hermione would have acted. "Fine," Ron snapped surprising Harry, "But you used us when you fed us that fake story. You could have told us the truth later. You told her."

That one hurt because Harry had been so torn on whether to tell them the whole plan or not. He dropped onto his bed and rubbed his temples. "Yeah I could have," Harry said sounding defeated. "I just worried about us getting into another row and something about the plan getting blurted out. Kind of like you letting slip about us and the Slytherin Common Room. I just couldn't take the chance. I'm sorry."

Now Ron sat as well and Harry could tell he was thinking hard. "You used to need us around. Now it's like you don't need us at all," the boy admitted, almost looking ashamed to have said this.

It took Harry a second to think of something to say. "I need you as my friend Ron. You were the first friend I ever had. You and Hermione seemed to be doing just fine not hanging around me very much at the beginning of the year by the way. You two were off on your own thing before I was. You two didn't need me either."

Ron snorted and said, "Obviously we did. The whole bloody Wizarding World did. We just didn't know it until the other night." After a bit of silence Ron again seemed annoyed and asked, "How many more things are you keeping from us?"

Tired of fighting the same battles Harry firmly said, "More than you'll ever know Ron." This wasn't what the other boy expected but Harry continued, "The only question is can you still be my friend knowing that?"

A few hours before the leave-taking feast, Harry was summoned to the Headmaster's office. Just before opening the door, the feeling of dread and a desire to run began rising but as soon as he entered the door, Fawkes flapped happily and trilled a note which banished all negative thoughts. "You get prettier every time I see you Fawkes," Harry said stroking the bird.

"I think Fawkes may visit you over the summer Harry," Dumbledore said from behind his desk. "He was most distressed when you were in the Hospital."

"Don't worry about me Fawkes," Harry said with a final stroke. "Everything's going to be ok now."

"May I ask if you are still planning to pursue a career as an Auror?" Dumbledore said as Harry sat in front of the desk.

Harry laughed and told the man what Kari had said, "I'm not sure I like the idea of being at the bidding of the Ministry. Madame Bones seems ok but it could just as easily be someone like Fudge. Maybe I can play Quidditch?"

"If I may suggest," Dumbledore said looking at Harry over his half-glasses. "Think about coming back some day." Seeing the startled expression on Harry's face he added, "After your successful Quidditch career of course. I think you would make a fine teacher and I'm sure you would always feel at home here."

After letting this sink in for a second Harry smiled brightly and said, "Only if the curse of the Defense Professors is gone by then." Then he remembered something, "Sir, someone came to visit me in the Hospital last night and they were wearing my Invisibility Cloak." Harry just remembered who he was talking to and added, "Umm...The points are final now aren't they?"

Dumbledore smiled and said, "I assure you I won't take any points for anything said in the next thirty minutes."

"Good," Harry said brightly. "Well when Ginny came in, I could see her under the Cloak. How did I do that?"

Dumbledore didn't hesitate and said, "I would imagine it is some residual effects of being linked to the four of us. I wouldn't worry about it. You could have learned it easily enough." Even though his voice didn't betray anything, Harry had the sudden impression that the Headmaster wasn't being entirely truthful to him but decided not to say at the moment.

Harry then thought he saw the Headmaster flinch but he didn't say anything. "You should get ready for the feast," Dumbledore said without rising. "Here," he added handing Harry the wand that had caused him so much pain. Harry hesitantly took it and Dumbledore could see the pain in the boy's eyes. Beneath the pain however was a bubbling feeling of contentment at having that wand in his hands. "You can destroy it if you want," Dumbledore said causing Harry to feel slightly panicked. "I dare say Fawkes would approve. However I think that in a few years you would be glad to have it as a remembrance of what you fought for."

Harry nodded and with a final goodbye to Fawkes, left the room. Dumbledore visibly weakened once Harry was out of the room and was still weary when Professor McGonagall came up shortly after.

"Albus, you shouldn't go to the feast. Putting on an act like this is taking too much out of you," McGonagall scolded because she hated to see her mentor distressed.

"Minerva it is imperative I go," Dumbledore said sitting up a bit straighter. "There are those out there who are still enraged and confused. If they think Hogwarts is unprotected, the will use the opportunity. They must not know yet."

The woman shook her head and asked, "Not even Harry?"

"No," Dumbledore firmly said. "Let him have a few days without worry. He has earned that much. I'll see you down there."

After Professor McGonagall was safely out of earshot, the portrait of Phineas Nigellas watched the current Headmaster intently and asked, "Was it worth it?"

"Oh yes my old friend," Dumbledore cheerfully replied. "Something I am most proud of actually."

"Did you ever have any doubt in him?"

"That he would win?" Dumbledore thought only for a second and said, "No. That he would make it back?..." The man gave no firm answer.

"Well have you picked out a prime spot for your portrait?" the portrait asked.

"I would like something with a view out the window I think," Dumbledore answered smiling.

"Might I suggest something out of Potter's throwing range," Phineas threw in drawing a grand laugh from the Headmaster.

The leave taking feast passed almost in a blur to Harry. Even though he sat with his friends and even had a few normal conversations with Ron, he still felt something wasn't right. Adding to his feeling of unease was the quick departure of the Headmaster after a short speech. Oh, the man gave a good enough reason. There were in fact still Death Eaters and the Ministry did need help at the moment, but Harry still could tell the Headmaster had been hiding something.

Harry and Kari only spent a short time together after the feast, promising to meet first thing in the morning and to ride together on the train. After making the excuse he was tired which his friends understood, he made his way through the students to his bed and closed the curtains.

Finally with some time to think, Harry thought about the reason the Headmaster had given him for being able to see through his Invisibility Cloak. 'Residual effects' was the reason given but Harry knew Professor Dumbledore wasn't telling him everything. Now, after a few hours of thinking about it, Harry knew why he could see through the Invisibility Cloak. He could see the technique clearly in his mind. How it got there he wasn't sure but didn't buy it was residual effects of being linked.

Trying to focus on the thoughts and feelings that had been skirting the edges of his memory, Harry could tell they weren't from anything he had experienced. Some of them seemed to bring up the desire to get away from the castle but he couldn't ever focus on those clearly.

It was long after the other boys had come up and gone to bed that Harry lay there, still wide awake, trying to get his hands around the snippets of thoughts he was having. After replaying the last minutes with Voldemort and seeing the man try some spell before falling to the floor and dropping his wand, Harry had the urge to look at the wand that had caused him so much pain.

Taking extra care so he didn't wake anyone up, Harry lifted the clothes that hid the item he was looking for. A feeling of slight disgust came over him just before he touched the wand, but once it was firmly wrapped in his fingers, it didn't feel unwelcome at all. Sitting up in his bed now and studying the wand, Harry didn't feel like being trapped in the dorm and needed some space.

Silently making his way out of the dorm and down to the Common Room, Harry felt slightly more relieved with each step. When he closed the portrait of the Fat Lady after stepping through she said, "Now where are you going at this hour?"

The first feeling that welled up in him actually scared him a bit, but fortunately he was able to catch it and simply glared at the woman. "I'm just going for a walk. I know you all talk about me but don't worry; I'm not going to do anything that you need to tell Professor Dumbledore about. He needs his rest." The painting studied him so Harry said, "I promise."

The Fat Lady softened and said, "Very well dear. Be careful."

Moving silently through the darkened halls, Harry felt comfortable in the silence. After some time of walking he found himself in front of the girl's bathroom that brought back both fond and terrifying memories. Immediately after stepping in, a slight smile crossed his face as he pictured Ron, Hermione and himself working on the Polyjuice potion.

"Hello Harry," Moaning Myrtle said floating in. "I wondered if you'd come by."

Looking at the girl, Harry noticed she didn't seem quite so depressed. "Hi Myrtle," Harry said. "Why didn't you tell me back then? You knew didn't you?" Harry asked knowing she would understand what he was talking about.

"I knew. Would it have made you happy?" Myrtle said causing Harry to think. "You know it wouldn't have," she said gliding closer. "But you knew something was different then didn't you?" Harry just shrugged. "Of course you did. You were always so nice to us and even to me."

"So you've all been spying on me and making sure Professor Dumbledore knew everything I did," he said without any spite in his voice.

"Well," she said looking slightly guilty, "we did take an extra interest in you but we let him know all kinds of things. You never got in too much trouble though did you?"

Harry smiled thinking about this. Even if Dumbledore knew all the things he and his friends did, the man never used this against them. "Thank you Myrtle," Harry said as he walked out to continue his thinking.

Finally arriving at the top of the stairs on the 6th floor, Harry placed his legs through the railing and looked all the way down to the ground floor, enjoying the feeling of height. When the stairs moved, he took in the feeling of movement as the paintings went by his face. Standing and leaning against the rail, he took out the wand again. Not quite understanding why he wasn't repulsed to have the object in his hands, Harry began twirling the wand in his hand, feeling more and more comfortable with it by the minute.

Concentrating, he was able to make the wand light up and then focused on timing the light to only come on at the top of the cycle lighting up the area in short flashes. Each time he timed it correctly a small surge of excitement coursed through him. Looking around at the portraits and hallways as they lit up, Harry began to think about all the possibilities before him.

Severus Snape woke from his restless sleep feeling a dull ache and a sense of dread. Knowing it shouldn't be anything to worry about; he still couldn't shake the feelings, both the ache and the dread. Standing in an annoyed mood, the Potions Master decided to take a walk in hopes of catching some student breaking rules. Nothing helped his mood more than extracting punishment on students from other houses.

As he stepped out of the dungeon, the ache throbbed a bit but then went back to the dull feeling the he originally had. Even though the man had no clear destination, he felt drawn in a direction. Finally arriving in the entrance hall, the man instantly noticed a flashing light high above him. Focusing on the light he could tell it was a student. With firm determination, the man silently but swiftly climbed the stairs, preparing to dole out harsh punishment. When he reached the fourth floor, he now saw something that he couldn't figure out. The student was sitting on top of the railing with his feet hooked through to keep his balance. The next flash brought both a gleam to the man's eyes and also a sense of foreboding as the ache throbbed again. The Teacher now recognized the student but couldn't place the look in the boy's eyes.

Quickly climbing the remaining steps to reach the boy's level, Professor Snape felt the rush at being able to bring the boy down a level. "Potter!" Snape exclaimed once he was on the same stairway as the boy. "You do know it is after curfew don't you? Of course you never feel rules apply to you."

Snape had a hard time not showing his confusion as Harry simply swung one leg back over the railing so that he was now straddling the stone rail. "Hello Sev…Professor Snape," Harry said still twirling the flashing wand.

"You are fortunate awards have already been given Potter or you would have lost your house the cup," Snape spat, trying to figure out the boy's expression and to understand why the ache increased.

"I think they would have forgiven me Professor," Harry said now jumping off the railing so that he was standing a few steps above the Professor.

"You think you're something don't you Potter?" Snape growled. "One bit of luck and nearly getting four people killed and now you expect everyone to drop down and bow."

Severus could have sworn he felt pressure on his back that almost forced him to bow but it quickly passed. "I'm sorry Professor," Harry said. "I just couldn't sleep and wanted to take a walk. I'm sure whatever punishment you give will be …fair."

"You will be punished Potter. Gryffindor will start out in the hole next year," Snape said and was annoyed that Harry's expression didn't change. "It was luck you know," Snape added. "You had no hope without their help. You did nothing special. And stop that incessant twirling!"

Harry felt something flash but kept it deep inside. Professor Snape however caught the change as the bright white flashes of light turned into a couple of green flashes instead. Then the twirling stopped and Harry's light went out. "May I go now Professor?" Harry asked with annoyance in his voice.

"Get out of my sight Potter. And don't whine about the points next year," Snape coldly said.

"Of course Professor," Harry said stepping by the man. Snape watched the boy descend the stairs with both rage and confusion. Harry stopped just before the final stair on this level and without turning around asked, "Professor. How's your arm?" Continuing down the stairs, Harry didn't see the look of shock on Professor Snape's face or the man grabbing his left arm. The entrance hall began flashing again as Harry returned to twirling the wand.

The train ride back to London had been non-eventful with Harry, Kari and two of her friends sitting with Ron and Hermione. Ron didn't look comfortable the entire trip but Hermione did an outstanding job of talking to the Slytherins and did manage to get Ron involved a few times. With brief flashes of normalcy, Harry felt he and Ron would be fine before long.

Exiting the train, it was clear that there were loads more people waiting than normal. When Harry and Kari stepped out, the whispers, then mumbling and then shouting began. Harry grimaced but Kari whispered, "The Ministry…Walk in. Tell her you want the job."

"Shut up Boslav," Harry whispered back just as a few familiar faces walked up.

"Wotcher Harry, Kari," Tonks brightly said as she approached with Kingsley and Mad-Eye. The two men nodded at him.

"I don't need a guard anymore," Harry said annoyed.

"'Course you do Potter," Mad-Eye said. "Haven't caught them all yet."

Harry was just about to go off on the man but Kinsgley said, "Were not here so much to guard you as to keep them," the man nodded to the press waiting not far away, "from bothering you. Unless of course you want to hex them yourself?"

"Just ignore them," Kari firmly said. "Haven't I taught you anything?" she added with a smile. They quickly walked to where Harry saw the Weasleys standing. The three adults were walked on the outside, keeping them separated from the crowd yelling.

"Oh my dear boy," Mrs. Weasley exclaimed as soon as she let Ginny go. Harry was pulled into a tight hug, one that he returned with more meaning than ever before. "We're so proud of you."

"Thank you Mrs. Weasley," Harry said. "I couldn't have done it without you."

The woman stepped back beaming and turned to the Slytherin. Surprising the usually in control girl, Molly embraced her in a motherly hug and said, "It's good to see you under less stressful conditions dear."

Kari regained her composure and said, "You too Mrs. Weasley. I don't think I ever thanked you for helping him come back."

"My pleasure dear," the woman said just as they heard someone call "Kari!"

"My parents," Kari excitedly said. Harry turned to see the two adults just off to one side. He instantly saw where she got her looks as her mother was an extremely attractive woman. She got her height from her father as the man was easily over six feet. With an anxious feeling nearing the night he went to fight Voldemort, Harry allowed himself to be dragged towards the adults.

Kari released his had just as they got to her parents and wrapped her mother in a tight hug. She quickly moved to her father next. Harry stood back just a bit both nervous and happy to see how she got on with her parents. His pleasant thoughts were interrupted when she said, "Get over here!"

Tentatively, Harry stepped up to the three and Kari took his hand again. "Mom, Dad, this is Harry."

"Pleased to meet you Harry," Mrs. Boslav said extending her hand but closely studying the boy.

"Nice to meet you Mrs. Boslav," Harry said lightly shaking her hand.

Her father seemed to be watching Harry even closer as he then extended his hand. "Mr. Potter," he said.

"Mr. Boslav," Harry replied shaking the man's hand. "It's nice to meet you both."

Mrs. Boslav finally smiled brightly and said, "Thank you for everything you've done." The woman then hugged Harry firmly.

"But why'd you have to be a Gryffindor?" Mr. Boslav asked.

"Dad!" Kari said as her father gave her a sly smile.

The three talked for a few minutes before Harry noticed Sirius standing near the Weasleys, talking to Hermione's parents. Kari saw him looking and said, "Ok, you will write and we'll see each other a lot."

Harry nodded and said, "And we'll be able to apparate before much longer and then it'll be easier to see each other."

"My birthday's a couple weeks before yours. Do you want me to wait so we can take the test together?" she asked.

"No!" Harry firmly said. "Don't wait on me. Get your license as soon as you can."

After their goodbyes, Harry ignored all the calls and made his way to his Godfather, hugging the man tightly. "Ok, so how are we getting home? Are we going to floo?"

Sirius got the look in his eyes that made Harry know something was up. "Floos are so boring," Sirius said drawing a look from Mrs. Weasley. "I've got another idea. C'mon." Sirius then turned to Tonks and said, "You getting his trunk?"

Tonks nodded and then firmly said, "You hurt him and I'll hurt you."

"Don't worry so much…mum," Sirius joked as they made their way into Muggle London. Harry noticed that directly in front of the station, there was only one large car parked where there should have been many. "Muggles think it's full," Sirius said.

"This one's ours," Arthur said as he opened the door to the large car. "The Ministry is feeling generous."

"But how's Harry getting home?" Ginny asked, which was the question he wanted answered as well.

"On this of course," Sirius said as he felt around until his hand stopped on something. With a flick of his thumb, a large motorbike appeared in thin air. Quickly looking around, Harry noticed no Muggles were even paying attention. Before he could ask how Sirius had done that, the answer seemed to come to him. With a quick focus on that, he knew exactly what the charm was. "Unless of course you're afraid," he heard Sirius said and it snapped him out of his thoughts. Harry saw Ron and Ginny eyeing the bike closely.

"Even if I was, I wouldn't let you know," Harry said looking at the gleaming bike. "Where's it been?"

"Well Hagrid had it while I was…away," Sirius said. "It's been at the house since I've been back. I've spent the past couple months cleaning it up and making sure it was in prime condition. Here," he added tossing Harry a helmet. "I don't see how it could make your hair any worse than it normally is."

Harry could see Mrs. Weasley not looking pleased, but Mr. Weasley had his arm around her and whispered something, causing the woman to slightly smile. "Make sure you write," Ginny said giving him a kiss on the cheek. "And you," she said rounding on Sirius. "Be careful with him." Sirius nodded and winked at the girl.

"See you this summer?" Ron asked with a slightly embarrassed look on his face.

"You bet. Couldn't miss a summer at the Burrow," Harry brightly replied causing Ron to beam.

Sirius started the motorbike with a loud roar causing Muggles to now look. Harry hopped on behind Sirius and his Godfather took of, squealing the tires as he went. The ride back had been fantastic as far as Harry was concerned. Sirius drove fast; really fast but Harry felt alive and never once felt frightened.

"That was brilliant!" Harry exclaimed as the two got off the bike at their destination. "I thought it had some special features though."

"You bet it does," Sirius said proudly. "We could have been here in less than half the time but sometimes quicker isn't always better. I'll show you everything it can do before long.

Harry entered the house without and reservation at all. He was genuinely anxious to live here. As soon as they entered, they heard Tonks and Remus talking from the kitchen. "Why don't you go get settled into your room," Sirius said. "Come back down whenever you feel like it."

Nodding, Harry started climbing the steps to his room. His own room, not Dudley's second room, but one of his own. "You!" he heard as he passed the portrait of Sirius' mom. He had assumed she was asleep since he didn't hear her bellowing earlier. "You're the worst of the lot you know. Mudblood lover. Couldn't leave well enough alone."

Harry flashed enough anger to startle the woman in the portrait but before yelling, a feeling came over him and he slowly pulled the second wand from his pocket. "Mrs. Black," Harry coldly said and then leaned over the stairs to make sure the adults were still in the kitchen. "I don't know why Professor Dumbledore didn't throw you out," he coldly said and saw her eyes get wide. "Oh, I know he could have. You know what happened don't you?"

"So what," the woman spat. "A stroke of luck. He rose once before he will again."

Harry smiled and said, "Tom Riddle will never come back." Leaning closer he said, "I can take you down you know. I know what to do."

"Filthy liar," the woman snapped but Harry could tell she wasn't sure.

"Well," Harry said holding up the wand, "you may not recognize this but you may understand what it can do." Harry softly drug the wand over the edge of the painting causing the woman to his in pain. "Now you know for sure."

"You can't use magic," she hissed. "I know how old you are."

Looking again to make sure the adults weren't paying attention Harry said, "Do you really think the Ministry is going to charge me again? After what just happened?"

"So take me down," she spat. "Get me away from that blood traitor."

"Don't you ever talk about Sirius that way," Harry said with the wand tip pointing at the woman's head. Collecting himself Harry said, "I happen to think you should stay." The woman looked like she didn't believe him. "This was your house and you are a blood relative of Sirius. And," Harry said getting an evil smile, "there is nothing as important as blood." After watching the woman ponder this he said, "I can remove you." She looked skeptical so Harry held up the wand again. "I'm going to ask you a simple question and you only get one chance. Do you want to stay? If you do, you will behave and at least be respectful of anyone who comes to the house. One slip and…well I think you understand. Now what do you say?"

The woman's eyes flitted around and then she focused on Harry and nodded. "Good," Harry brightly said returning the wand to its hiding place. "I think you belong here."

Once in his room, Harry rubbed his head and wondered how he knew the technique to remove that portrait and how he knew what would hurt her. Taking in his surroundings for the first time, he smiled. His Godfather had brightened the room greatly. Feeling like he really belonged somewhere caused him to feel very warm and happy and in that feeling came a quick flash of something that happened when he came back to the Hospital Wing. He saw what Dumbledore did but didn't fully understand what it was. Just as he was trying to concentrate on that, he heard Sirius yell at him from downstairs.

The rest of the day passed quickly and later it was only Sirius, Remus and Harry sitting in the kitchen. "Is the Order still going to meet here?" Harry asked.

"Yes," Sirius quickly said. "Dumbledore's cancelled the latest ones though. Suppose he's busy but I'd like to know what's going on."

"Just enjoy the time off Sirius," Remus joked. "Think you can stand living here?" he asked looking at Harry.

"Stand it?" Harry exclaimed. "I think it's brilliant." Both men beamed.

"You know about the tie thing don't you?" Sirius asked causing Remus to choke. Harry shook his head. "Well," Sirius went on with a gleam, "Since we have three healthy men living here, there may be times when one of us has company of the fairer sex."

"Or species in your case Padfoot," Remus quickly added causing Harry to laugh.

"Whatever," Sirius scowled. "A tie on the door is the key. Don't disturb someone with a tie on the door. Got it." Harry nodded, not really wanting to think about Remus or Sirius doing something like that.

"You're not really ready to need a tie yet are you Harry?" Remus asked, looking slightly unsure he wanted the answer.

Before Harry could answer Sirius exclaimed, "He should be! By the time I was out of sixth year I…." The man saw Remus' scowl and Harry's wide eyes and said, "Well I was just glad I had a tie."

"No tie yet," Harry said shaking his head at Sirius. "Listen, I'm going to bed. It's been a long day." 'This is going to take some getting used to,' Harry thought climbing into bed. He had been so used to not talking to people in the house and spending so much time alone in his room that this was somewhat foreign to him. Now alone with his thoughts, he tried to understand some of the things that were coming to him. During the day, except for rare cases, the thoughts had been very comforting and the thoughts seemed to be making more sense as time went on. At night however, many of the thoughts disturbed and yet excited him on some level.

It was the third night when Harry sat straight up in bed and understood what the Headmaster had done to save his life that night. A feeling of panic came over him and he stood up and began pacing, not wanting to believe it and yet understanding why the man done it. It all made sense now. The feelings he had been having and the Headmaster's actions before leaving school.

Harry was still in a daze the next morning, trying to think of any other explanation. He noticed Remus and Sirius exchanging looks of worry but was thankful that they both didn't push him on it.

It was just after breakfast when with a flash of fire Fawkes appeared in the kitchen singing a single note that filled the room. Harry was almost expecting this and didn't jump like the two adults did. "Hello Fawkes," Harry said stroking the bird. "Suppose this is for me?" The bird nuzzled his hand and Harry took the note.

"Sure. He gets mail via Phoenix and we're stuck with a borrowed owl," Sirius said.

"Let's get another owl then," Harry said smiling at his Godfather. "Hedwig could use the company." Harry also wasn't very surprised by the note:

Mr. Potter…

The Headmaster would like your presence at your earliest convenience. He said you would know how to get here.

Minerva McGonagall

Harry nodded his head and then looked at Fawkes who was eyeing him intently. "Well?" Sirius said.

"Professor Dumbledore wants to see me," Harry firmly said.

The two men looked worried as Sirius said, "I've tried to see him for days but he's too busy."

"You didn't just save the world," Remus said only half teasing.

"But you two helped!" Harry said trying to keep it light-hearted.

"How are you getting there? Do you want me to drive you?" Sirius asked.

"I guess that's why Fawkes is still here. Is that right boy?" Harry asked stroking the large bird again. "Well I'll go see what he wants," Harry said and could tell Sirius didn't like him going alone. "I'm with a Phoenix and going to see Professor Dumbledore. What could happen to me?"

Harry could tell Sirius was torn but Remus said, "He's not used to the mothering role. Go on, we'll see you later."

Not catching Sirius' response to Remus, Harry grabbed Fawkes' tail and vanished in a blaze of fire. "I'd like to try that once," Sirius said as his Godson vanished.

Harry appeared in the Headmaster's office where Professor McGonagall was waiting. The first thing Harry noticed was that the woman seemed quite sad. Even though he had now expected this, the reality of it deeply saddened him. "Mr. Potter," she said through bloodshot eyes. "Al..The Headmaster would like to see you but before…."

"I know Professor," Harry sadly said as she looked stunned. "I'm sorry," he softly added.

After she studied him closely, she said, "Very well, he's through there." Pointing to a door off the side of the office.

Harry stepped through, fighting hard to control the feeling welling up. Once inside what he now realized was the Headmaster's private Chamber, he saw the man he respected above all others laying on a bed looking very frail. Fawkes was perched not far away moving his gaze from the Headmaster to Harry and back.

"Welcome Harry," Professor Dumbledore said raising his head slightly. "Come closer."

Harry didn't know why he hadn't already done that and quickly made up the distance to the man. Even though the man's body looked frail, his eyes still brightly twinkled and he said, "I assume you now understand."

Harry nodded and fought with everything to control the emotions. "But why? You shouldn't have done it."

"My dear boy," Dumbledore said putting his hand on top of Harry's. "I told you we were very similar. You would have done the exact same thing in my place." Harry didn't say anything; he couldn't put his feelings into worlds. "I hope I have not made you angry with me again."

Harry slightly smiled and shook his head. "I should have never been angry with you before. I didn't understand."

"But you do now."

Harry nodded and asked, "When?"

"As soon as we finish talking," the man said with a slight smile.

"Can you do that?" Harry asked sounding amazed.

"I have enough left to choose the time. I want it to be on my terms. Another way we are alike, I think," the Headmaster said.

"Thank you for everything sir," Harry said losing his fight with his emotions.

"You are most welcome. And thank you for allowing me to be a part of that and to provide what help I could."

Harry fidgeted and finally said, "Sir…well…I…umm…"

"That's quite all right Harry. I know," the man softly said.

"It's not all right," Harry said wiping his eyes. "I do… I love you," Harry said and then dropped his head onto the bed. "I'm going to miss you," he choked out before giving in and doing something he never had before. He openly cried.

The Headmaster let him cry without saying a word until Harry roughly wiped his eyes and looked up. "You don't know how much that means to me Harry," the old man said with his own tears streaming down. "There is nothing else I can ask for in my life." Just then Fawkes gave a trill. "Would you take care of Fawkes? I have the feeling he will join you but that is his choice."

"Of course sir," Harry said looking at the impressive bird.

After a few moments of silence the Headmaster said, "Now you understand why I said you'd always feel comfortable if you return to Hogwarts to teach." Harry nodded. "Don't do it on my account though. You deserve to be happy in whatever you choose." Harry knew he couldn't answer so he just nodded. "Well…" the old man started, "would you rather not be present?"

Tears started coming down Harry's face again but he got out, "I don't want to leave you sir."

The Headmaster gave a slight nod and said, "Do not be sad for me Harry. I am going on to a great adventure where my age will no longer matter. Please use the gifts you have been given well. Use them with discretion, I've told no one. Most importantly though, allow yourself to love and to be loved. You've seen how important that can be."

Harry smiled the best he could as the Headmaster lay back down. It was only a few seconds before he felt the man give his had one last squeeze before it went limp in his own hands. At that instant, Fawkes burst into flames. Lightly placing Professor Dumbledore's hand back on his body, Harry moved to the pile of ashes and moved them around so the naked, featherless body could have room to move.

When Professor McGonagall finally came in, she wasn't surprised to see the Headmaster had passed on. She was surprised to see Harry, stroking the baby Phoenix with tears still streaming down his face. The Headmaster had only told her he extended too much energy when he helped heal Harry, not that he had essentially transferred his magical energy to the young boy.

"Are you all right Mr…Harry," she softly asked through her own sadness.

Harry swallowed a few times and said, "Yes Professor. I'm just going to miss him." Something deep within Harry stirred at the same time. A feeling of freedom and limitless possibilities.

The End


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