Author's Notes: Alright, it must be said. This of course was the easiest chapter to write. But I, as always am critical.
Harry's chapterisn't really the life he wants, but hey. It's what he wants that would make the life he wants possible. Three guesses what he gets.
Well this is the last chapter my friends. I didn't feel like writing for Neville or Draco or anything ridiculous like that. Tee hee. I'm going to go ahead and reply to the reviews up here, because if I were to down there, it would lower the whole tone of the ending, and you wouldn't be able to ponder it.
Rupertsgrl1479: Thanks. Yeah, I posted it again, because I edited it A LOT and added a whole bunch of stuff. Not that much in this chapter, but a lot more in the others. The story is finished, it's pretty short, but it's not too bad, if I do say so myself. I just want you guys to have a chance to review before I post the next chapter.
jeevesandwooster: Thank you. I thought it was pretty clever, too.
Lissy: Thank you, and here you are.
hydraspit: Thank you so much. I hope you like this one as much as the last. Oh and SQUEE! that Fallen From Grace is going to continue! I like that story.
One last note, for the first chapter, I removed the whole story and posted it again so that the people who had already read it would read it again because I changed it a lot. Yes. Well. Onwards.
"That...oh, Ron," Hermione was practically speechless. That was a first. She looked at her red-headed friend empathetically. She couldn't begin to fathom what he had dreamed.
Harry was already looking at the recovering Rose in it's box. He dreaded it. He hated it. Look what it had done to his friends. And to practically everyone else in the room. Students he trusted and despised alike were pale, forlorn, dejected.
Professor Sprout had never had a quieter class.
All Ron and Hermione could do was look at each other. It wasn't an awkward silence really. Just a silence. One of those exceedingly deafening ones.
Until Harry hit the floor.
The Rose was wrapped around the thin boy's frame. Hermione helped Ron drag him onto the stool and lean him comfortably against the wall.
"Three guesses what he gets," grumbled Ron.
Harry seemed to fly. He couldn't see his body at all, but he could see everything below him. He passed over a small village, it was night and only a few streetlamps were on.
Then he found himself approaching a forest, passing over it, then coming up on a clearing and diving lower.
He watched as a shadowy, cloaked figure advanced upon a small, quaint house. One light was on in the first floor.
Harry flew through the walls into the room with the light. A beautiful red-haired woman rocked a black-haired child in her arms, absently humming to him while she looked at a book.
A man with glasses and scraggly black hair, who looked unsurprisingly like Harry, except with stronger facial features and a few more worry lines, sat in an armchair and read the Daily Prophet. Disappearance of the Potters Puzzles All was the headline. Of course, it didn't really puzzle everyone. Quite a trusted few knew where they were. But of course, the idiotic reporters at the Daily Prophet just couldn't resist pointing it out and bringing attention to it. Two pictures, one of Lily and one of James were featured under the headline. James grinned up smugly, like he had a secret that he wanted to hold over everyone's heads. Lily beamed and met Harry's nonexistent eyes somehow. A wave of a very strange feeling swept over him. And he knew he was smiling.
And he was. His real self was grinning proudly, a truly happy smile, not layered over with guilt or rage or worry. Harry seldom smiled like that anymore. Hermione and Ron were taking unknowing turns glancing at one another. They kept missing the other one's fleeting glimpses, and so each felt that the other was angry or something. The comfortable silence between them had very quickly become a terribly awkward one.
Hermione feigned a coughing fit, so she could turn away from Ron and wipe her watering eyes. Ron pretended to sneeze as she did this, so he had an excuse to sniffle a bit. Hermione turned back and looked at him as Ron continued his sham and closed his eyes and rubbed his nose, as if it were bothering him. She looked awayjust beforehe ended his charade and peeked at her.
Each of them desperately wanted to say something, but neither could find the words to do it.
Lily turned a page and held her sleeping baby one armed. Her shining red hair cascaded down her shoulders, brushing the baby's nose. James leaned over and pushed the nose-tickling rogue strands over her shoulder. She looked up from her book and at him, wrinkling her nose with a smile.
Suddenly, a door slammed open loudly two rooms away. Lily and James looked away from each other and both their heads whipped towards the sound.
"Is Peter supposed to visit tonight?" Lily asked quietly. She knew he wasn't. Lily was bright, she quickly realized that her worst fears were becoming a reality. Betrayal. She never had trusted that little rat.
"No," James said, and he knew as well. "He's not." James shook his head and stood up, pulling out his wand. "Lily. Go. Take Harry. I'll hold him off." He kissed her and pointed towards a corner of the room where the wall and the floor met. Then he turned towards the door.
"No, James." Lily reached out and laid her hand on his cheek, turning his head back to her. "I'm not leaving you," she whispered stubbornly. She was determined, she always had been. You could see it in her bright green eyes. They sparkled with the will to fight.
"I love you, Lily," James said, putting his callused hands on her shoulders. "You have to go. You have to protect Harry." He ran his hand through the baby Harry's hair lovingly and headed for the door. Lily watched after him.
"James, wait. Help me," She whispered. She struggled with the trap door to their escape route. James came back and heaved the heavy door open. Lily set Harry on the fourth step, then came back, kissed her husband, and closed the door.
"Shh, James." She gently laid a finger across his lips. "Even if he kills us, Harry will be safe. Albus will make sure of that. But I'm not leaving you." With the stubbornness James had always adored, she pulled out her wand, locked the trap door several times and lead the way through the door, anger lighting in her eyes. Lily reminded James of a mother bear, ready to do anything to protect her cub.
He followed her and Harry could no longer see them. He willed this vision to allow him the sight, but he was planted in this room.
The whisper of cloth on wood. Harry couldn't stand not being able to see what was happening. He tried to yell to his parents. Nothing.
A hiss, a shout, a shriek and various colorful blasts of light converged for several minutes. Harry wanted to scream with frustration.
Then a sound, the most exasperating onomatopoeia Harry had ever been forced to endure. A resounding THUD.
Lily Evans rushed back to the trap door, casting unlocking spells as she went. Dropping her wand and falling to her knees, she grabbed the previously inexistent metal ring and heaved. James came in, helped her and saw that Harry still slept. Lily gently picked up her baby. James kissed her and looked her in the eye.
Hermione wiped a treacherous tear from her cheek before speaking.
"Ron, look. I-," she said. She had been about to say something, anything. But at that despicable second, the Rose had bloomed and her courage had waned. She pointed at the blossom as a scapegoat for her words.
Ron reached behind him to the table and grabbed the jar. He flicked a bit of powder on the beautiful flower. He let out a sympathetic sigh for his best friend as it withered.
"Free?" A high, icy laugh erupted from the shadows. "Never. You will never be free, Harry Potter. Never," the cold voice jeered quietly. A snake, a huge black snake, the snake that haunted Harry's nightmares, slithered from the darkness and snatched the sleeping baby from his motherwith it's tail. The infant woke up and began to whimper.
More snakes erupted from every dark corner, every shadow, every gloomy space in the world, it seemed. They slithered towards Harry's parents. One grabbed and swallowed Lily's wand. James blasted as many as he could, holding Lily beside him and yelling war cries. But there were too many. For every one he killed, ten more appeared.
He kept blasting as they covered his and Lily's feet. Lily cried out and, with a newfound visciousness, kicked and stomped as many as she could, until they entangled her legs and made her fall to her knees. James fell with her, and the snakes enveloped them, until Harry could no longer see his parents.
"Free?" the black snake hissed with a twist of malicious humor in it's voice, opening it's mouth upon the child. "Never."
Harry slowly opened his eyes. The Rose's nightmare had been predictable, exactly what they had all imagined. But of course it had.
The Boy-Who-Lived would never be free.