Disclaimer: Jo's world, I just live here.
Summary: This is the epilogue, why are you looking for a summary here?
A/N: Well, here it is, the actual and literal last chapter, the epilogue.
Harry woke slowly, stretching his arms out wide to grip the edges of his senselessly large bed. Much wider than his bed at Hogwarts or either of the beds at the Dursleys', it was one of those ridiculous luxuries that Harry adamantly refused not to relish. What little morning light made it through his west-facing window splashed cheerfully over the soft, sky-blue coverlet and the pile of presents at the foot of his bed. The sight of the latter woke Harry completely with the unexpected reminder that it was his birthday! Without counting down to it as he had during previous summers, he had almost missed the event altogether.
Sighing contentedly, the boy relaxed back onto his pillows and thought of the incredible events of the past year that had brought him to this point.
After Voldemort's defeat, Harry became an even bigger celebrity. People he'd known for years suddenly wanted his autograph. It seemed like the entire world was celebrating; except Harry. As much as he could, he tried to avoid public gatherings, including the nightly parties in the Gryffindor common room. This led to him wandering around in the halls after curfew and, inevitably, running into Snape.
"Tired of your fawning public already, Potter?" the Professor sneered. Harry watched his reflection in the window he'd been looking out of.
"I need quiet," Harry explained, not rising to the bait. "I need to think."
Snape cocked his head. "You are not still having lapses in memory?"
"No," sighed Harry, closing his eyes and shaking his head. "But I haven't had a chance to sift through all I learned after Voldemort died; to figure out who the bloody hell I am now!"
Snape had disappeared while his eyes had been closed, but the very next day Harry received a detention from him (much of the student body volunteered to hold a hunger strike in protest, but Harry declined). The spent two hours that evening, and two evenings every week afterward, working together to sort through the muddle Harry's mind had become.
That hadn't been the only surprise, however. The first Saturday after Harry got out of the hospital wing, Dumbledore had taken him to Ollivander's to choose a new wand. He now used a beautifully responsive 11 inch Beech with a phoenix tail feather core (this time from a young Arabian phoenix named Jubilance). The wand led into the next big surprise – the only problem he had in classes was toning down his power enough to get only the effect he wanted. Homework suddenly took no time at all and he even knew many of the answers in class, without having to read the chapter beforehand.
Of course he still read. In fact, now that he found himself enjoying reading, he and Hermione spent a good deal of time in the library together. To Harry's further surprise, Draco Malfoy joined them on the odd occasion they researched potions or anything Dark. Harry didn't question the Slytherin's presence, though he got the sense Draco expected him to. When Hermione had told him the story of how she and he had ended up working together, Harry couldn't help but chuckle. It seemed a very Malfoy thing to do, to adamantly deny that he was attempting to save Harry Potter, even though he knew just as well as anyone that Harry and Snape had been in the same spot.
After one term had passed, the Gryffindor had fallen into a comfortable routine – counseling sessions with Snape twice a week, studying with Hermione and occasionally Draco, and, whenever he needed a break, he found that Malfoy was almost as good as Ron for Quidditch discussions and just recreational flying.
Indeed, the entire rest of the school year was full of surprises, but none so large as the one he'd gotten a week before the end of the school year. Dumbledore had called him up to his office for a talk, and when he arrived, Snape was there too.
"What's this about?" he asked, only slightly wary. These were two of the men he trusted most in the world, after all.
"Well, Harry, we need to discuss where you will go for the summer," Dumbledore answered, twinkling brightly. "As Severus has made it quite clear that the Dursleys' is no longer an option, we must come up with something else."
Harry nodded thoughtfully. Any other year, he'd have opted for the Burrow, but Ron was staying there now, under house arrest, so that wasn't really viable either.
"If you have no objections, Potter," Snape drawled casually, "perhaps my own house would suffice."
As much as he would deny it later, Harry's jaw dropped open at the offer. He knew he and Snape didn't hate each other anymore, and actually suspected the man had developed a bit of a soft spot toward him (at least, as soft as Snape got), but to offer up his own home for Harry's use?
The silence lasted just a bit too long and Snape sneered.
"Of course, I doubt my humble abode would be considered habitable by one so used to lavish comforts as the Great Harry Potter," he snapped.
Harry cringed; Snape only reverted like that when Harry was being rude and nasty. The man must have thought Harry was horrified if he had lashed out like that.
"No!" he denied hastily. "I – I'd love to stay at your house, Professor!"
Snape nodded once, curtly, then swept out of the room.
Harry stifled a chuckle at the memory. Being generous seemed to give the potions master aneurisms. But in any case, that was how he happened to be where he was now – lounging about in one of the most decadent beds he'd ever seen in one of the guest rooms of Snape's (whatever he said about 'humble) opulent manor on his birthday.
And speak of the devil; three sharp knocks on the door indicated the professor's presence outside, and Harry quickly jumped out of bed to let him in.
"Still in your night clothes at this hour?" Snape sneered teasingly. "Well, you'd best dress yourself quickly, we have much to do today. Much to do indeed."
The almost manic glint in Snape's eyes made a thrill of excitement run through Harry. Whatever his temporary guardian had planned, it was going to be good. The boy hurriedly closed his door, slipped on a pair of denim trousers (ones that fit) and a red T-shirt that was just comfortably loose, rather than overly baggy. Muggle clothes, he knew, but muggle clothes weren't that uncommon in the wizarding world anymore, and if they were going into the muggle world he wanted to be prepared. As soon as he was dressed, he practically ran down to the dining room.
Snape took one look at Harry's attire and ordered him back upstairs to change, this time into the outfit Snape had place in his wardrobe the day before.
Harry asked him why he hadn't just told him what he wanted Harry to wear.
Snape responded that Harry had slammed the door in his face before he could.
With a shrug, Harry retreated to his room to find this mysterious new outfit, and returned wearing a proud set of storm-grey, black-lined, Auror-quality dueling robes. With small slits in the sides and an open front, they allowed full range of motion for any sort of scuffle, and came complete with dark grey trousers with specialized pockets and a black shirt made of special fiber that was as good as any armor and breathed like cotton. The whole effect was really quite spectacular.
"Where are we going in this?" Harry asked, picking at the stiff fabric of the robes. It all seemed terribly expensive for just a birthday present.
"We are going for a little visit," Snape answered enigmatically. "Take hold of my arm; I will apparate us, as you don't technically have your license yet. You have your wand?"
Harry nodded and grabbed Snape's arm, wondering who they were planning to visit and why he had to have a wand – all the Death Eaters had been captured in the raid on Caer y Twr or shortly afterward. Not that he would go anywhere unarmed, but Snape seemed suspicious in his insistence. However, the boy didn't have much time to wonder as he was shortly squeezed through a tight tube, popping out on a familiar street, in front of a familiar house. Harry gasped as he recognized the font façade of Number Four Privet Drive. His grip tightened on his wand.
"I managed to get Dumbledore to postpone filing an official complaint against them with the muggle authorities until you are of age," Snape hissed in his ear. "Though he requests we not do anything…permanent, we have four hours until the muggle police will arrive."
He held out a canvas bag, which Harry took. Looking inside, he found dozens of various pranks from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, topped with a glittery note saying 'Harry Birthday, Happy! – from, Gred and Forge'.
Harry laughed, a short, harsh sound, covering up a wellspring of emotions suddenly finding their way to the surface after so long ignored. Snape placed a firm, steady hand on his shoulder.
"I will help you with this, Mr. Potter, if you wish for it," the man said quietly. "But now is the time to take your revenge, if you are ever going to take it."
Harry nodded shakily, identifying those feelings that caught in his throat; pain, anger, bitterness, hatred, and even a certain lust for the fear he would instill in his relatives today. He laughed again, dropped the pouch of Wheezes in his robe pocket, and strolled up the first step, mouth already setting into a familiar sneer.
Four hours of very satisfying yelling, accusing, intimidating, pranking, and hexing later, Harry and Snape walked back out the front door, discreetly vanishing the multi-colored liquids that covered the front of their robes. Harry felt hundreds of times better, satisfied that at least a fraction of the misery the Dursleys had caused had been visited back upon them.
And, he thought, as he caught sight of the clearly marked police cars turning onto Privet Drive, it is about to get even better.
Snape pulled out Harry's invisibility cloak and hid them under it so they could watch the spectacle. They weren't alone though; the entire neighborhood came out of their houses to spy on which of their neighbors was the 'scoundrel' they all suspected. Harry wondered how many of them thought the police were there for him, especially once the three police cars parked in front of Number Four. However, the numerous policemen who burst through the front door returned, not with 'that little Potter criminal', but with Vernon, Petunia and Dudley. Dudley, Harry supposed, wasn't being arrested but 'taken into custody', since he wasn't a legal adult yet.
Under any other circumstances, Harry had no doubt that Vernon would be raising a ruckus and trying to discredit the police for arresting him, but he and Petunia were both so shaken up that they went quit meekly. Harry hoped that wouldn't help his relative's case.
Snape apparated them back to the manor and Harry regarded his undoubtedly un-Dursley-ish surroundings with a sigh of satisfaction.
In the back of his mind, a sheepish voice said, "Happy birthday, Harry," and opened the last door, the end of the end.
The end. For real this time.
A/N: There won't be a sequel for this, being that I had no plot for this story and I don't know where I'd get a plot for a sequel. If you need more closure than that, just add 'and they lived happily ever after'.
Sorry, I know I disappointed a lot of people right there.
On a brighter note, I'd like to vigorously and sincerely thank all my loyal reviewers, without whom there would have been no story beyond the first chapter, because this was just a silly idea I came up with in the middle of my psychology class. As silly ideas go, though, I think it went rather well, and that is only and wholly because of the reviews who helped me along the way, giving me both encouragement and, from time to time, ideas.
Farewell (unless you plan to read Time For Me, which should be updated again soon).
PANTZ - Emerson