What a Strange and Mysterious Thing It Is

Disclaimer All characters and references to Harry Potter mythology are the sole property of the amazing J.K. Rowling. I write for fun only, besides lawyers make me nervous.

Summary: Following the death of Sirius, truths emerge from everywhere. Harry must learn to cope with them and perhaps find what he has been seeking. This story, in keeping with the style of Ms. Rowling, is in Harry's point of view. It is mostly about Harry and Professor McGonagall, but there is a lot of AD/MM as well. It is rated PG-13 for some violence in later chapters. Please read and review! Enjoy!

A/N: I know I said that there would be thirteen chapters, but instead of having two short ones I combined them to have one longer one. So as they say, all good things must come to an end. I must say I am sad to see this story end. I have enjoyed writing it so much that it seems like I am having to say goodbye to an old friend. I am dedicating this chapter to Quill of Minerva. One of her reviews gave me such a profound bit of inspiration that thanks to her, this chapter holds what I consider one of my best pieces of writing I have ever created. A thousand thanks to all of you who ever reviewed! Because I so enjoyed reading the reviews I have included a little bonus at the end of the story to say thanks! And hopefully you'll get a chuckle out of it like I did. So to Quill of Minerva, Lou. McGonagall, mugglemin, Lanzer, Tabbymin, Silver Lily 77, Joelpup62, duj, Maxwell Coffee House, PiroKitty, Aurinko, E.W/H.D's Best Friend, Liat1989, DoomGazeHell, Jen2281, Nightwing509, Amandah Leigh, BlindJedi, Lady Urquentha, EJC, Neoma, and ancient-memories, I wish you peace, happiness, and a future as bright as you can make it.

Chapter Twelve: Remember My Love

It had been six months since that fateful day in the Riddle House. Harry was now in his seventh and final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It seemed almost a foreign idea to him that this was the first and only school year that he would be able to enjoy without the constant threat of Voldemort looming over him. He would no longer have to suffer pervasive dreams. He would no longer have to contemplate a future that may or may not exist. His future was certain now. Though what that future would bring would always be a mystery.

Ron and Hermione had been slightly upset with Harry for leaving them behind when he had gone to face Voldemort alone. Though Harry had not been alone. Neville had fulfilled his own unknown destiny. Harry could not help but think that Neville had been the true hero and he smiled to himself as he remembered his initial conversation with Professor Dumbledore regarding the prophecy.

"It means – me?"

Dumbledore surveyed him for a moment through his glasses.

"The odd this is, Harry," he said softly, "that it may not have meant you at all. Sibyll's prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times. One, of course, was you. The other was Neville Longbottom."

"But then...but then, why is my name on the prophecy and not Neville's?"

"The official record was relabeled after Voldemort's attack on you as a child," said Dumbledore. "It seemed plain to the keeper of the Hall of Prophecy that Voldemort could only have tried to kill you because he knew you to be the one to whom Sibyll was referring."

"Then – it might not be me?" said Harry.

"I am afraid," said Dumbledore slowly, looking as though every word cost him great effort, "that there is no doubt that it is you."

But Professor Dumbledore had been wrong. It was true that Harry had been the one to deliver the final blow, but it was Neville's presence that had made it possible. The wand Harry had discovered obscured in the shadows that night had been Neville's, not his. The moment Voldemort had arrogantly allowed Harry a chance to vanquish him, was the moment Harry's brain recognized the wand Neville had shown him after the confrontation with Draco Malfoy. Voldemort only saw a holly wand. However, this holly wand contained the heartstring of a dragon, not Fawkes' tail feather. The protection Voldemort had assumed via the Valiturus Draught could not withstand the spiritual incompatibility of Neville's wand. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord had been Harry by result alone, it was Neville who had made this destiny attainable. Neville had proven himself a true Gryffindor. He had snuck out to help Harry, and this he had done to the salvation of all wizard-kind.

The smile that had crept onto Harry's face slowly began to fade. His thoughts turned lovingly to Professor McGonagall. She had become his savior of sorts. She had given him hope for the future, and it was Professor McGonagall that helped him realize that grief was just another part of life. She had helped lift him out of the depths of despair when his self-torment over Sirius's death had threatened to consume him. He remembered the sensation of her touch as she had so gently caressed his hand with her own that night on her office floor. Grief and loss made the happy memories all that more sweet to remember. But as he ran his fingers over his hand where McGonagall's had done, he realized that perhaps the greatest gift she had given him was the knowledge he was loved for who he was, not for what his destiny may hold.

"Harry?" a soft voice said breaking him out of his musings. Harry turned to see Ron and Hermione staring at him. Ron had grown even taller, if that were possible, and Hermione was as beautiful as ever. His two friends approached him. Ron offered an understanding smile, and Hermione's eyes brimmed with tears. "Were you thinking about her again, Harry?" Hermione asked. Harry nodded as he reached up to wipe a fallen tear from her cheek.

"I thought there would always be a Professor McGonagall at Hogwarts," Ron declared with a sigh. "At least until long after we'd graduated."

Harry gazed into the faces of his two friends and nodded meekly. "Things change," he said softly. "Is it time, then?"

"Yes," Hermione replied.

"Then I had better go find Professor Dumbledore," Harry explained.

"We'll see you inside mate," Ron said squeezing Harry's arm.

As Harry reached Professor Dumbledore's office and the gargoyle jumped automatically aside, he could not help but think he had come full circle. So many times Harry had made his way to this office to seek help and support from his Headmaster. It was ironic that this time it was Harry who was offering the support. Harry entered the office without knocking and saw Professor Dumbledore sitting slouched over his desk. He had his Pensieve before him and was gazing into it with a curious expression.

"Sir?" Harry asked quizzically.

"Ah, Harry," Dumbledore replied automatically.

"What are you looking at?" inquired Harry.

"Come and we shall take a look," the Headmaster invited. "It applies to you as well." Dumbledore extended his hand to Harry. The young man hesitated momentarily before grasping it. Both men turned to the Pensieve. Dumbledore indicated Harry should go first. Harry plunged his face into the silvery substance inside the Pensieve. He could feel himself being drawn into it, and by the time Harry had opened his eyes Professor Dumbledore had appeared at his side.

Harry peered around him to determine where he was. To his left Harry saw the fifty-foot high quidditch rings. To his right was Hogwarts castle looming out of the mountainside. Straight ahead was the lake and Harry was not surprised when he saw Professor Dumbledore standing on its edge. Harry glanced up at the real Dumbledore at his side. His expression was oddly blank as he stared at the shadow of himself. Harry inched his way up to the past Dumbledore. This Dumbledore scanned the water's surface, his face too seemed oddly blank. A jumble of voices near the castle caused Dumbledore to glance in their direction. Harry followed his gaze and jumped slightly when he saw himself and Ron approaching down the path that led to the quidditch pitch.

"Of course," Harry said turning to the real Professor Dumbledore. "This is the day of my quidditch accident, isn't it?"

"Yes," Dumbledore replied simply.

"That means Professor McGonagall is..." Harry whirled around again to find that indeed his Transfiguration teacher was creeping toward them. Her face was stoic, but focused. Professor Dumbledore had long since returned his gaze to the lake and did not realize that he was being approached. His hands, which had been clasped behind his back, fell limply to his sides and his shoulders slumped. McGonagall was nearly upon them and Harry stood back to get out of her way. She hesitated momentarily, her eyes engrossed on Dumbledore's hand. Finally she eased her fingers into it.

"Albus?" she inquired softly. The Headmaster finally closed his hand around hers and turned to face her.

"Minerva," he greeted distantly.

"Is it true?" she asked. "Is it true, Albus? I need to know." Dumbledore would not answer her, or look her in the face. "Look at me," she prompted softly. When he did not respond, McGonagall placed her fingers underneath Professor Dumbledore's chin. Harry could see tears cascading silently down both of their faces as McGonagall guided his chin to force him to look at her.

"Is it true you still love me?" Professor McGonagall asked with an unmistakable note of pain in her voice. "Is it true you never stopped loving me? Tell me, Albus. Tell me, please, I need to know. I have to know."

A sudden, great rasping sob escaped from Dumbledore. Harry was surprised to see him so openly emotional. When he had witnessed this scene the first time around he had been too far away to catch everything that had transpired. Harry glanced up at the real Dumbledore. He was still surveying the scene quietly, but the blank expression that had adorned his face had melted away to a small smile.

"I thought I was protecting you," memory Dumbledore muttered. It seemed the situation was too much for him to bear. He made to quickly flee, but McGonagall had apparently been suspecting this. She grabbed his wrist and made him face her again.

"No more running, Albus!" she cried vehemently. "Do you not remember what it was to have my love? Do you not remember that I would have given up it all to be with you?" Dumbledore was looking so completely dejected that Harry could feel a pang of sympathy envelope him. "I understand why you made the choice you did all those years ago, do not run from me again."

"I still love you, Minerva," the Headmaster explained. "My love for you has never known an end, but I am afraid."

"Afraid?" McGonagall asked more sympathetic now. "What are you afraid of that we could not face together?"

"I am afraid of me," Dumbledore replied, the anguish in his voice evident. "My God, Minerva! I broke your heart. I did that! And I did it twice! I always told you that I loved you more than life itself, but I betrayed your love! I did not tell you the truth! I ran from the best thing I ever had because it was easy."

"Easy?" McGonagall inquired furrowing her brow. "Albus, I can see how you have suffered with regret, it hasn't been easy for you. I don't think it ever was."

"I may have regret, but it was easier than facing the thought that I may lose you. Some Gryffindor I turned out to be," he said shaking his head. "I took the coward's way out, Minerva. It was easier to break your heart than to face what might happen. I am so sorry. I will always love you, even if I am without you. But I am scared that I may hurt you again. I never want to hurt you again."

Professor McGonagall stepped closer to Dumbledore and pulled him into a tight embrace. "Albus, I know your trust in yourself is little, but I love you. Do not keep running from me because of what you think you might do in the future. If you do that you will be committing the same mistake again! But this time, you will be doing it to yourself." Dumbledore had relaxed into her embrace and the sobs that he had been trying to stifle, gently shook his body.

"Oh my dear Albus," Professor McGonagall soothed. "I can look past your mistakes to see the man behind them. Let yourself do the same. I will never pretend that it will be an easy road, but see beyond the failures. See beyond the hard times. You can do it, my love, I have faith in you. Travel the winding road, Albus, and you will find the woman who loves you waiting at the end with open arms."

Harry was finding it hard to focus clearly on what he was witnessing. His eyes were sparkling with tears as the corners of them burned uncomfortably. Harry swallowed hard to try and loosen his tightening throat. He wiped his eyes beneath his glasses as McGonagall cupped Dumbledore's head in her hands. "Remember my love," she said and kissed his forehead.

Professor Dumbledore pulled gently from McGonagall's embrace, but stroked her cheek tenderly. "I remember," he said softly. "I'll always remember." With that Dumbledore presented her his arm. She smiled sweetly and encircled her own around it. As Harry watched the two professors turn to walk at last toward the quidditch arena, he could not suppress the grin that spread across his face when he heard his own triumphant, "Woohoo!" echoing in the distance.

"I think it is time to go, Harry," a voice whispered in his ear as a hand encompassed his shoulder. Harry turned to see the real Professor Dumbledore smiling softly. Harry closed his eyes and felt himself being pulled out of the Pensieve. He landed with a soft thud and found himself once more in Dumbledore's office.

"Thank you for sharing that with me, Sir," Harry stated gratefully.

"No, thank you, Harry," Dumbledore waved him off. "Thank you for opening your heart to me so that I could once more see into mine."

A soft chirrup from Fawkes drew Harry's attention. Harry stared at the Phoenix. The bird was gazing at him with an intense expression. Harry suppressed a chuckle when he thought it reminiscent to one of Professor McGonagall's famous stern glares. Professor McGonagall.

"Sir," Harry suddenly remembered, "we need to go."

"Is it time already?" Professor Dumbledore inquired raising his eyebrows.

"Yes," replied Harry. As Harry and Professor Dumbledore exited the office Harry thought back upon his time at Hogwarts. It had been filled with many ups and downs, but somehow it had always seemed the good had outweighed the bad. When Umbridge wrought tyranny inside the school, students and teachers had stood up to her. When Voldemort threatened destruction, there were those who had dug deep inside themselves to find strength they never knew they had. When Harry had suffered loss after loss, there were those who surrounded him with love. Yet, with each reflection Harry came to realize that no experience or memory would compare with what he would have to face today.

Harry and Dumbledore paused outside of the Great Hall. Dumbledore was taking deep breaths, preparing himself for the emotional onslaught that lie within. "You know," Harry began, "Ron said that he thought there would always be a Professor McGonagall at Hogwarts. I have to admit I always thought the same. I never would have guessed this day would come."

Dumbledore smiled softly and pulled Harry into a tight embrace. "I know," he stated quietly. "Nor did I." He released Harry and as he pushed open the magnificent doors to the Great Hall, he echoed the sentiment that Harry had shared earlier with Ron and Hermione, "Things change."

The Great Hall was overflowing with people. Harry could hardly believe the turn out. The entire Weasley clan was there. Mrs. Weasley was already sobbing uncontrollably as Mr. Weasley comforted her in an one arm hug. Ron looked at his mother with a kind expression and he reached over to give her hand a squeeze. Hermione, who was on Ron's other side, held Ron's other hand. Harry also noticed Hagrid, clutching a handkerchief the size of a table cloth. His beetle-black eyes already red and puffy.

Professor Dumbledore and Harry walked silently toward the front of the Great Hall. Where the head table normally would have been were dozens of flowers. Indeed, what little space was not consumed by witches and wizards,held indications of Professor Sprout's handiwork. Dumbledore ascended the few steps at the front of the room with Harry still at his side. He turned to face the assembled crowd.

"Thank you all so much for coming," Dumbledore greeted. "Your support means so much to me." But the professor was unable to continue as rose petals began to fall beautifully from the enchanted ceiling. Dumbledore's eyes were gazing upward. Harry, however, began to smile warmly as the enormous doors opened again to a sight that brought everyone to their feet and many gasps from the crowd.

Severus Snape had entered the Hall and Harry could hardly believe the smile that enriched his features. It seemed to soften him greatly, but there was no surprise why the Potions master was acting as he was. On his arm was the most beautiful sight Harry had ever seen. In a long, white gown accented in many golden embellishments was a teary-eyed Minerva McGonagall. Her own smile shined like stars and Harry's heart filled with such joy he thought it may burst. She strode proudly up the aisle to meet the man she could not take her eyes off of. Harry for the first time took note of what Dumbledore was wearing. His dress robes were a beautiful midnight blue also holding many gold embellishments arranged in Celtic designs.

As Snape presented her arm to Dumbledore he quickly placed a small kiss on her cheek. She grinned contentedly back at him. Dumbledore too showed his respect and thanks for Snape as he placed a hand on his shoulder.

"You had better get going," Snape said in an uncharacteristically soft tone. "Hagrid may start blubbering soon." Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall glanced at Hagrid and could not hide their chuckles. Dumbledore guided McGonagall the remaining way to the front of the Great Hall where Madame Bones stood waiting for them. Harry stood back and watched the proceedings with overwhelming happiness.

The ceremony was short and sweet. Hagrid did indeed begin blubbering, but his sobs were short in rivaling Molly Weasley's and Madame Pomfrey's. Shaking his head, Snape offered Madame Pomfrey his handkerchief. Fred and George were eyeing their mother with a mischievous glint in their eyes. But for Harry the moment his two professors turned toward one another was the greatest of all. Dumbledore held her face in his hands and gently stroked her cheeks with his thumbs. He looked expectantly at Madame Bones.

"You may kiss the bride," the officiant chuckled.

Dumbledore again turned his loving gaze to his new wife and whispered, "I'll remember." With that he pulled her forward and placed a tender kiss on her lips. McGonagall wrapped her arms around him as the witnesses began to clap and cheer uproariously. Harry glanced down to his two friends. Hermione was also crying now and leaning on Ron for support. Ron, on the other hand, was widening his eyes to the size of saucers as the newlyweds prolonged their kiss. Apparently the thought of two professors being intimate with one another played heavily on his mind. Harry could see him turn to Hermione and mouth, "So instead of a McGonagall we have two Dumbledores? Bloody hell." Hermione slapped him playfully as the professors broke apart at last.

"May I introduce," Madame Bones declared brightly, "Mr. and Mrs. Albus and Minerva Dumbledore!"


Four years later...

"Harry get back here!" cried a familiar stern voice.

Harry turned around to see a small boy with black hair and twinkling blue eyes look up from the wriggling frog he was holding. The three-year-old dropped his captive and went teetering to the open arms of one Minerva McGonagall-Dumbledore.

"Yes, Mama," the little boy cooed in a soft voice. His mother bent down to scoop up the youngster into a loving hug. As she cuddled him she placed a tender kiss on his cheek.

"Mama and Papa are very busy so we need you to be good boy today, okay Harry?" the Transfiguration teacher smiled. The young Harry nodded vigorously and squeezed his mother's neck.

"What's the matter, Professor?" Harry asked slyly sneaking up behind them. "You can strike fear into the hearts of many a fifteen-year-old, but can't keep a three-year-old in check?"

"Harry Potter," Professor McGonagall-Dumbledore said sharply, but when she turned to face him her face shown with joy. "Just you wait young man. You'll see." She enveloped him in her arms. "It is so great to see you!"

"Same here," Harry replied. Harry was back at Hogwarts to attend another happy occasion. It was the graduation of the last member of what Harry had considered "his team." Euan Ambercrombie was no longer a tiny, hesitant teenager, but a tall and confident young man.

"Well, well, what do we have here?" asked a new arrival. Professor Dumbledore placed his arm gently around his wife's shoulders.

"Papa," said little Harry in an exasperated tone, "this is Harry Potter!" The little boy was surveying his father with a look of pure amazement.

"Oh! Thank you for telling me," Dumbledore said in a convincing response. His eyes twinkled madly. "Where is your young family, Harry?" Dumbledore said looking at his former student again.

"We're right here," chimed in a sweet voice. Harry turned lovingly as his wife and newborn son approached him. Minerva stepped forward and placed a kiss on Ginny's cheek.

"So good to see you too, dear," Minerva smiled. Suddenly, the professor's face softened and she sighed audibly. "Curious," she said faintly as the smile returned to her lips.

"What is it, my love?" Professor Dumbledore inquired.

"What do you see?" she asked nodding at Harry, Ginny, and their baby. Dumbledore narrowed his eyes for awhile. He seemed confused. He was not following to where his wife was trying to allude. Then a sudden dawning of comprehension drew the twinkle back in his eyes.

"Lily and James," he said quietly. Minerva nodded.

Harry knew exactly what they were talking about. It had long since entered his heart that the happiness he had been able to carve out for himself had echoed that of his late parents. Harry had always heard time and time again how much he looked like his father. It was perhaps poetic justice that he married a wonderfully sweet woman who had the same red hair as his mother. Their son completed the picture with the same untidy black hair that his own father and grandfather had. Harry knew that his son, Brian, would have a much brighter future to look forward to though. Voldemort was gone, and every child whether it was Brian, or little Harry, or Ron and Hermione's baby Anna, would be able to grow up in a world consumed in the strength that all of their parents had fought and suffered for. It was in love and friendship that they would be able to trust their futures. It was the power the Dark Lord had known not.


"It means – me?"

Dumbledore surveyed him for a moment through his glasses.

"The odd this is, Harry," he said softly, "that it may not have meant you at all. Sibyll's prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times. One, of course, was you. The other was Neville Longbottom."

"But then...but then, why is my name on the prophecy and not Neville's?"

"The official record was relabeled after Voldemort's attack on you as a child," said Dumbledore. "It seemed plain to the keeper of the Hall of Prophecy that Voldemort could only have tried to kill you because he knew you to be the one to whom Sibyll was referring."

"Then – it might not be me?" said Harry.

"I am afraid," said Dumbledore slowly, looking as though every word cost him great effort, "that there is no doubt that it is you."

-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37, "The Lost Prophecy", pgs. 841-2, American edition.


Just one last note for all of you who thought I had killed Minerva off...

FOOLED YOU!!!

Seriously though, I have to say that I was clapping at my computer with fiendish glee when I read the rviews for chapter eleven.


Okay now here is your little bonus. As I have said repeatedly I immensely enjoyed and appreciated all the reviews. Some of them were quite hilarious, so...

TOP TEN REVIEWS FOR "WHAT A STRANGE AND MYSTERIOUS THING IT IS"

10. Tabbymin - chapter 10: "O... MORE pleazy pleaz!

9. PiroKitty - chapter 8: "Ack... Oo Voldemort has a new ally? Another evil cliffie! Please continue! I'm anxiously waiting for more. "

8. Joelpup62 - chapter 10: "Ahh! No Harry should be like, "ok bye Voldemort" and then kick him or something. Dumbledore, where are you? Minerva needs you. Ok I just had to get that out, and please review soon."

7. Maxwell Coffee House - chapter 11: "Sobs uncontrollably..."

6. Liat1989 - chapter 7: "Yay! he told her. Then Dumbledore and McGonogall will get married and live happily ever after with Harry as their adopted son. Or not."

5. Quill of Minerva - chapter 10: "I am wearing gloves for the next few chapters now... Oh no...poor Minerva and poor Harry but where in the name of Merlin is Albus!"

4. BlindJedi - chapter 6: "Another excellent chapter. I love how you handled the quill situation. Still wish you wouldn't make Hermione suffer with Ron. Just because you think J.K. hates Hermione that much doesn't mean you have to. :) Oh well, sigh. Regardless, still like this story a lot."

3. BlindJedi - chapter 5: "Uf, great story so far. I really hope though that you don't make Hermione suffer too long with a person whose only thoughts in life are of Quidditch, chess, food, chess, Quidditch, ways to skive off homework, oh and did I say food and Quidditch? However, this is still a good story. I really hope that you write more soon."

2. Amandah Leigh - chapter 7: "and THAT is where you left off?!?!?! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?! Auugh! I need to know more, and THAT'S where you left off? I'm dyin' over here! Dying!

Okay, I feel better now. I took a few deep breathes, drank some Pepsi, put on some chamber music, and now I feel better...But still, omg like that's not a clffhanger (and that WAS sarcasm!) I seriously hope you plan to update soon! I mean, understand that you JUST updated and w/ 's troubles ppl aren't necessarily getting author alerts and all that, so you may want to wait until eveything is really smooth again...But don't. update asap! :) lol"

Drum roll please

And the #1 review for "What a Strange and Mysterious Thing It Is"

1. Lou. McGonagall - chapter 11: "OMG! How could you do that! No warning, no nothing! ('calm down Louisa, you ARE calm, collected and under control...) That's so incredibly unfair...poor Albus and poor, poor Harry. I can't believe this has happened.
Great story though, and a very unhappy twist. God, here come the tears... :(
I hope this isn't the end!"

Thank you all again for the millionth time.