Fusion of Destinies
a Harry Potter/Metroid crossover
Chapter 25: See You Next Mission
6-3-2006
by Grey-X

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter series and all of its characters are the creation and property of J. K. Rowling. Samus Aran and the Metroid series are the creation and property of Nintendo, and was originally masterminded by Gunpei Yokoi (1941-1997).

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Harry, Ron and Hermione stood behind the pilot's chair where Samus was seated. They gazed wondrously at the spectacular view from the cockpit window. As Samus's ship skimmed a few dozen meters over the surface, the three of them got a clear, close-up view of the hilly ridges and valleys of ice that extended as far as the eye could see. Part of him wanted to shiver inwardly at the sight of such an impossibly cold, harsh environment, but for the most part, Harry enjoyed the majestic view, especially since he knew he'd probably never get a chance to see it again.

"As you can see, the entire surface of Triton is covered with frozen valleys and ridges," said Adam. "Triton is Neptune's largest moon, with a diameter of over 2700 kilometers, and there is ample evidence that, at one time, Triton had volcanoes that spewed a slush composed of water and ammonia, which froze on the surface to create the landscape you see now. The surface has a temperature of -235 degrees Celsius, perhaps the lowest temperature in this solar system."

Harry merely nodded, only half-listening to what Adam had to say. He merely wanted to take in the sights and savor every moment of this experience, and he had a feeling that Ron felt the same way. They weren't in class, after all.

However, it was a different story with Hermione. "That's so fascinating! I've looked at this moon so many times with the telescopes back at Hogwarts, and I've always wondered what could have created a landscape like this," she said, her voice trembling with excitement. "Adam, what else can you..."

"Hermione, calm down," Samus said suddenly, turning back to look at her. Her helmet was off at the moment, and once again she wore robes to conceal her fusion suit. "This isn't a study session, just a tour through the system."

Harry half-expected Hermione to shoot Samus a nasty look, but she just breathed deeply and said, "Oh, I am, I am! I've always dreamed of exploring the solar system and seeing all the planets and moons for myself! Believe me, Samus, in this time every little boy and girl dreams of having an opportunity like this!"

"Actually, I don't really recall many witches or wizards sounding anxious to explore space," said Harry. "Mostly, they seem content just looking through a telescope."

"Not my dad," Ron cut in. "The Muggles' obsession with space must've rubbed off on him, too. He talks about it a lot. Too bad we couldn't bring him along. His head would probably explode from excitement," he finished slyly.

Samus looked over to Ron. "Yeah, I bet he would. He was here a week ago and I worked with him. He was completely infatuated by me, and not for the usual reason men can't seem to take their eyes off someone from the opposite sex."

Ron just nodded, and Harry saw that Hermione had rolled her eyes. What, she's STILL getting jealous? thought Harry. Then he noticed that, for one brief moment, Ron was paying more attention to Samus than to the view of Triton's surface. Well, I suppose it's only natural. Samus IS beautiful in her own way.

He then wondered why he never felt attracted to Samus. He reasoned that it was because he looked up to her like an older sister, or maybe abnormally tall girls just weren't his type. It's obviously a different story with Ron and George, though, he thought with a smile. Then he gazed out the cockpit window again, looking up into Triton's sky at Neptune and its other moons. Too bad I can't spend every Thursday doing this after classes, Harry mused, thinking of how this would make classes with Snape and Umbridge worth it if he could do this every day.

Thinking back over the last few days, Harry felt a little surprised about how peaceful things were now. Now that the X parasites were eradicated completely, that constant feeling of dread that had plagued them was lifted, letting them all breathe a little easier. While it was true that Voldemort had escaped again, and he was still out there, plotting and scheming, Harry felt like he could breathe easy, now that there was no threat of alien parasites laying waste to everything.

Of course, their immediate return to Hogwarts wasn't all that pleasant. McGonagall, Snape and the Weasleys were waiting outside the grounds when Samus's ship landed. Of course, with the explosion that station made, they must've known we were coming, thought Harry, shaking his head as he remembered how he was greeted. As expected, McGonagall gave him a tongue-lashing, Snape took potshots at him, and Molly Weasley almost crushed him to death with that smothering hug only she could do, sobbing the whole time. That would've gone on had not Samus stepped in, demanding they give him some breathing room.

After that, McGonagall demanded that he spend the night in the hospital wing, pointing out how exhausted and worn out he looked. Harry smiled when he remembered McGonagall demanded the same of Samus, after she explained that Voldemort had been behind everything all along, and let it slip she was hit with multiple Killing Curses . Before falling asleep on the hospital bed that evening, Harry couldn't help but recall that night he lay dying, his body infested with the X, and Samus had stayed by him, watching over him...

The next morning, however, everything was back to normal...or at least, what was normal for him, which wasn't exactly good. Monday's classes - with Binns, Trelawney, Snape and Umbridge - were as insufferably torturous as ever. And he once again had to put up with the furtive stares and whispered comments students made whenever he walked by, which made him angrier than ever. He knew that now it was mostly because of the rumors that someone who looked exactly like him had attacked the Handu Mountain Preserve (which, of course, was more than mere rumors), but it still made him mad. He kept thinking that if they knew what he had gone through, seen the horrors he had, they wouldn't be so quick to judge him.

But what made things worse was how he didn't see Samus prowling the hallways anymore. Now that the X were gone, she obviously didn't feel the need to stand watch over the castle. The only time this week he saw her during school hours was when she had to get her alien friends under control. The Etecoons and Dachoras had barged into Tuesday's Care of Magical Creatures class and made a commotion. Samus arrived just in time to get them under control and McGonagall was also there to alter memories. However, before they could, one of the Etecoons had jumped up into Pansy Parkinson's skirt and the adult Dachora headbutted Blaise Zabini in the groin after he sent out at Stunner and missed. Needless to say, Ron said he'd file that in his memory right next to the sight of Draco Malfoy's gang being turned into popsicles.

However, whenever he wasn't busy with classes or homework, Harry and his friends spent every minute they could with Samus. Surprisingly, she didn't resist them at all, almost welcoming the company. And now, here she was, giving them a guided tour of the solar system. It was a Thursday evening, and Samus offered to do this for them. There was still plenty of work to do, but this was an opportunity no one in their right mind would pass up. Even Hermione didn't have to think twice.

They had already seen such incredible sights like the surface of Mars, skimming along its surface and gazing at its expanses of blood-red sands, Olympus Mons, the dried-up river beds and the frozen ice caps. After that, Samus piloted the ship through the asteroid belt, and more than once an asteroid came too close for comfort, making Ron and Hermione jump. They also skimmed the surfaces of the moons of the other gas giants, such as the volcanic surface of Io , and Samus had actually flown the ship THROUGH Saturn's rings, letting them see that they were indeed composed of tiny bits of rock, ice and dust...

Unfortunately, there were no spare space suits in the ship that were functional, so they couldn't actually go out and explore the planets and moons themselves. For the most part, that suited Harry just fine. After dealing with the magma in sector 3, he wasn't anxious to go out on Io's surface. And the surface of Triton...forget it.

All this, she was doing just for them, her newest and perhaps her most cherished friends. It was almost as if she had been with them at Hogwarts all along, and Harry couldn't bear the thought that soon, she might leave forever...

But Harry was jarred out of his thoughts when the ship suddenly swerved to the side. Harry and his friends were knocked off their feet, slamming painfully into the wall. Samus, however, was perfectly secure in her seat. "Sorry about that, people," said Samus. "I guess Adam forgot to mention that those volcanoes occasionally jettison large crystals of frozen nitrogen. Had to act fast to avoid getting impaled by one," she finished sheepishly.

Ron and Hermione glared at her. "A little warning next time," Ron muttered irritably as he picked himself up from the wall.

Samus flashed a small smile back at him. "Well, I suppose we've spent enough time skimming Triton's surface. I think we'd better pull up now." After she said that, Harry felt the ship lurch upward and Triton's icy landscape vanished from view. In a few moments, the ship was once again orbiting Neptune.

Harry glanced out at the gas giant again, marveling its unearthly splendor. They were so close, Harry could almost see the thick, blue clouds moving along its surface. Harry remembered Adam saying that those clouds covering Neptune were mostly made up of frozen methane, sometimes picking up speeds of over 700 miles per hour. Then he noticed Neptune's rings: three distinct ones, and a faint outer ring, which had three curved segments that looked brighter and denser than the rest of it. Adam had said that even in Samus's time, the ring's uneven brightness and density was a mystery.

Neptune's breathtaking beauty wasn't lost on his two best friends, either. "Absolutely divine, that crystal-blue surface," whispered Hermione. "All those times in Astronomy class, when I looked at Neptune...I never thought that one day I'd actually see it for myself."

"Neither did I," said Ron.

"And it looks so majestic with all those moons. Eleven in all, just like wizards always believed," added Hermione. "But of course, Muggles still think there's only eight..."

"To be honest though, I liked the view of the last planet better," said Ron offhandedly. "It just looked so weird with those rings being vertical."

"I agree, it did," replied Hermione. "And I would've enjoyed our time gazing at it and its moons a whole lot more if you hadn't cracked every Uranus joke known to mankind," Hermione added in that haughty tone she got sometimes.

Ron stared at Hermione sourly for a moment, but then, Samus spoke up. "I was wondering, what WAS the point of all those statements about Uranus? I didn't get any of that." Harry stared at Samus blankly. Surely she didn't mean that. But one look at her expression let Harry know she was truly confused by Ron's immature wisecracks.

It was Hermione who spoke next. "Samus, come on...you didn't get all that?"

Samus shook her head. "Nope."

"Oh, this should be good," mused Adam.

"Adam, shut it," said Harry.

Hermione spoke up again, still sounding surprised. "Samus, it's the way the planet's name sounds...Uranus..."

Samus just continued to stare blankly at Hermione. Hermione sighed and shook her head, then said, "Think about it, Samus. When you say it a certain way, it sounds like 'your anus'..."

Samus on staring dumbly at Hermione for a few seconds, but then, suddenly, she blurted out, "Oh! I get it now! I guess it is kind of funny!" She let out a nervous laugh while Hermione looked at her disbelievingly. Harry even swore he heard something like a snort come from the ship's comm system.

Harry facepalmed and shook his head. No wonder she's not a very social person. So much stuff is lost on her, he thought dryly. For someone who was educated by a super-enlightened race, she can be really slow sometimes.

"Well, from what I understand, it's normal for human males going through puberty to make jokes which would be deemed vulgar," Samus said.

Harry groaned. Oh, so now the discussion has turned to puberty. Lovely, he thought sourly.

"Well, er...yes, that tends to be the case," Hermione said timidly, also taken aback Samus's rather tactless statement. "Girls tend to mature faster, though. Thankfully." That last remark earned her a scowl from Ron.

"Hmmm. I'm not exactly sure that was true of me," said Samus. "Of course, my upbringing can hardly be considered normal by any standard, in any era."

Let's see...orphaned at the age of two, then raised to be the ultimate fighting machine, a one-woman army... Yep, that classifies as anything but normal, thought Harry. Makes my life look completely mundane...

"Samus, what do you mean?" asked Hermione. "You mean, you..."

"What? Just because she was infused with alien blood and DNA as an infant, you think that she was somehow exempt from normal human biological functions?" asked Adam tersely.

"He's right. Puberty was insanely frustrating for me. I kept feeling energetic and anxious for apparently no reason, it was harder to focus on lessons, I started butting heads with the elders. And the fact that the Chozo were almost totally ignorant of how human females develop didn't make things easier for them," Samus said, going down the list of details about her childhood. "And then, there was my first menstrual cycle..."

Oh, please stop, thought Harry desperately.

"Yeah, I still remember it. I was out training in Crateria's fields with Bird Grandpa when suddenly my training garb became soaked with blood for apparently no reason. Needless to say, I was freaked out, and the elders had no idea what was going on," Samus went on, heedless of Harry and Ron's exasperated looks. "I was rushed to the infirmary and after hours of examinations, they eventually realized it was merely a basic human biological function. Looking back, it was actually pretty funny, and we frequently joked about it after that." She then smiled, completely unaware that she had revealed far more information than the trio wanted to know.

Hermione looked at Samus with a vacant expression. "That was an...interesting story, Samus," she said hesitantly.

It was then that Adam spoke up, perhaps sensing that a change of subject was in order. "I believe we've spent enough time observing Neptune, everyone. Perhaps we should set a course for the last planet in this system."

"For once, we agree," said Harry, unable to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

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Snape deftly navigated the deepest depths of Knockturn Alley, grateful that it was nearly midnight and hardly anyone would be around. Even Borgin & Burkes was now closed. Still, he pulled his hood over his head, not wanting to run the risk of being recognized. Only Dumbledore knew he was heading here tonight...him, and the one who had summoned him here.

"Severus," hissed a cold voice from the shadows behind him. Snape nervously turned about, and saw a pair of glistening scarlet eyes peering at him from the shadowy cover next to a store.

"Master," breathed Snape as he cautiously stepped closer. "Why here? Why not at our..."

"I do not wish for any of the other Death Eaters to overhear us. Out of all of them, only you know the truth about what happened, I'd like to keep it that way," Voldemort muttered irritably to his double agent.

A soft rustling sound made Voldemort look behind him nervously, but it was only a piece of newspaper being blown down the streets. He turned back to Snape. "Also, I wished to see Knockturn Alley again for myself. Sentimental reasons," he said, remembering the time he spent working at Borgin & Burkes, which also led to him acquiring Helga Hufflepuff's cup.

"I-I see," said Snape uneasily. "I-I must confess, I still find it hard to believe what Potter said about you being..."

"My apologies, Severus, but I didn't feel as if I completely could trust any of my old followers yet, not with a secret of this magnitude," said Voldemort.

"I understand, My Lord. I did, unknowingly, keep you from acquiring the Sorceror's Stone, after all," replied Snape. "But I swear to you, if you had been open with me, I could have helped you. I hate how I unknowingly hindered you yet again, concocting that immunity potion for Dumbledore... And had you come to me later, I could have given you the formula myself, instead of..."

"Yes yes, I regret having to send the HP-X after you like that, but I found it necessary," said Voldemort.

"But what about Lucius? Did you really have to have the HP-X viciously attack him? Those curse scars are unlike anything I've..."

"It was a penance for practically abandoning me all those years ago, when I believed him to be one of my most loyal followers," said Voldemort dangerously. "And don't forget, you thought he finished as well, but I believed the humiliation you suffered at the hands of something that looked like Potter was enough punishment for you."

Snape frowned, obviously flustered. "I suppose you're right, My Lord."

Voldemort flashed a wicked smile, pleased he had put his subordinate in his place. But just then, his shoulder exploded with a burning pain, and his face began to burn as well. One hand flew to his face while the other clutched his shoulder, sagging against the wall.

"Master? What is it?" asked Snape.

"Keep your voice down," hissed Voldemort. "It is of no concern. Some parts of my body still ache from burning plasma."

"Still?" inquired Snape. "Then the salve and elixir I invented were of no use. I knew I should have added more bubotober pus and used less armadillo bile, and..."

"Your concoction was sufficient enough to dull the pain, and my body will heal fully soon enough," said Voldemort irritably, cutting Snape off. "Anyway, to business, Severus. Tell me, what of Potter and the bounty hunter? What does Dumbledore plan on doing with them now?"

Snape cleared his throat. "Incredible as it sounds, it seems things are back to normal for Potter. He went back to classes the day after he escaped as if nothing had happened, though I made sure to drill him enough times during Potions," he said with a sly grin. "It's unbelievable how shrewdly Dumbledore was able to manipulate the Ministry of Magic officials even now, convincing enough people that Potter wasn't actually the one who attacked the preserve."

"Indeed it is," said Voldemort offhandedly. "And what of Samus Aran?"

Snape sighed. "For the most part, she's merely been lounging around the castle, not even tending to her old duties. She spends all the time she can with Potter and his lot, I've noticed."

"I see. And what does Dumbledore have planned for her?"

"He is still working on a way to send her back to her own time. Actually, it seems very likely that he will succeed, even insisting I help him and he's come up with a very convincing method of getting the job done," said Snape. "Why? Should I try to kill her before she can be sent back to the future?" asked Snape nervously, obviously not relishing the idea of trying to assassinate someone as dangerous as Samus Aran.

Voldemort regarded him sternly for a moment, not too pleased with Snape's sudden reluctance to serve his master. He was also thinking back to his battles onboard his rebuilt B.S.L...all those months of hard work, of intense magical experimentation, the planning... And then Samus Aran and Harry Potter barged in and brought down the entire operation within a few hours! One Muggle mercenary and one unremarkable teenage wizard had beaten back the most powerful Dark wizard in history and every X parasite in their path!

No. I was at fault. I became too overconfident. I realized too late that no amount of X parasites would hold them back, and I failed to consider that, by working together, they actually could defeat me, Voldemort thought, frustrated with himself. And it wasn't just them. It was their doppelgangers that were the biggest threat all along. If what the SA-X said was true, then my efforts were truly doomed from the start...or rather, from the moment I had Potter's double created and the SA-X revived. He shook his head, enraged at how the X had begun to turn against him right under his nose. Luckily, I had a mere carbon copy of myself, a puppet, in place in case anything went wrong. Well, it's all over now...I wiped them all out. Unfortunately, Potter escaped at the last possible second, so now I must go back to my original plans...

"Master? What is it?" asked Snape uneasily.

Voldemort looked up at him, annoyed that he had been lost in thought for so long. "Nothing," he finally said.

"Then...what should be done about Samus?" asked Snape.

Voldemort thought about it for a moment. It was true he deeply loathed Samus Aran. While he admitted that she had power and skill beyond what any other Muggle could possibly hope to have, he still resented how a lone Muggle fought him off single-handedly. Of course, both times, Potter needed to save her, Voldemort reminded himself. "Do nothing," he then ordered. "A bit of petty revenge is not worth jeopardizing your cover. Let Dumbledore send her back to her own time, where she can never get in my way again."

"As you wish, My Lord," said Snape, but his tone wasn't quite one of finality.

"What else is on your mind?" demanded Voldemort harshly.

"M-Master, I-I was just wondering...what of our plans to steal the prophecy? Things are progressing too slowly, after all."

"Yes, our plan to use Sturgis Podmore failed," said Voldemort angrily, mainly because that scheme had mostly been his idea. It also served to remind him of why he was so eager to obtain the prophecy in the first place. There can be no denying it now. As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, Potter is no ordinary wizard, not if he could charge into my space station and lay waste to all those X parasites. He may truly become a danger to me one day, and I must find a way to destroy him before that happens...

"And I'm afraid I'm at a loss as to what we should do next," Snape went on, snapping Voldemort back to attention. "I haven't been able to gleam any more meaningful information out of Dumbledore."

Something about Snape's tone didn't sound right to Voldemort. He sounded more nervous than he ought to be, a bit uncertain about what to say. He had come to believe he could rely on Snape again to a certain extent, but now...old doubts about his true loyalties came back. He looked Snape in the eye and began to use Legilimency. Snape merely looked back, apparently offering no resistance, but after several moments, Voldemort could find no hint of deception in him.

Snape then spoke up again. "My Lord, if I may, perhaps Augustus Rookwood may know of a way. He worked in the Department of Mysteries, after all. If we could only get him out of Azkaban..."

"Do you think I have not already considered that?" hissed Voldemort angrily. He had reason to be frustrated. After attacking the Handu Mountain Preserve, he had planned to go after Azkaban next and free the Death Eaters imprisoned there. Now, without the X at his command, he would have to wait longer, bide his time... "Believe me, Severus, I desperately want to bring down the walls of Azkaban, to reward all those who did not renounce me, especially the Lestranges..."

"Ah yes. Bellatrix," Snape said coldly.

Voldemort snorted angrily. "That's right. You two never did get along," he said. Then he thought, This conversation is going nowhere. "Severus, return to Hogwarts for now. Do whatever you can to ensure Samus Aran gets back to her time. The sooner she is no longer a danger to us, the better. In the meantime, I'll be rethinking our plans to steal the prophecy." Snape immediately bowed, then Disapparated. Voldemort took another long look around Knockturn Alley before Disapparating himself, but not before thinking, You may have won the battle, Potter, but the war is far from over. And I learned what lengths to will go through to aid those who care about. But you knew Samus for just over a week. The key may be to find someone within reach you've known longer, feel even stronger about...

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Samus silently watched as Pluto slowly came into view. She entered the appropriate commands, slowing their velocity as they approached the small, frozen world. Even at a distance, Samus had to balk at how ugly it looked in comparison to the gas giants: it was mainly covered with dark brown spots, which she knew were made up of frozen methane. They were brighter spots due to frozen nitrogen, but they hardly alleviated how unsightly the planetoid looked. Pluto's only moon, Charon, which was roughly half its size, didn't look interesting either. Not really a fun way to conclude a tour of this system, Samus thought, sighing.

However, Harry and his friends felt differently. "Amazing! Even with our special telescopes at Hogwarts, it's hard to see Pluto clearly. Now, it's like I'm seeing it for the first time!" said Hermione excitedly, transfixed by the sight. The ship had come as close as possible to Pluto, practically entering the planet's orbit.

"Yeah, this is something," Ron agreed. "It's hard to believe we're out so far away from Earth. This is the farthest planet out there, after all."

Adam then chimed in. "Actually, Pluto is not exactly considered a planet anymore. Furthermore, it has a rather erratic orbit, and for certain stretches of time it will come closer to the sun than Neptune, as is the case at this present time. This will remain so until February 11th, 1999."

"And how many times have I tried to explain that to you?" scoffed Hermione. "No wonder you still have so much trouble in our Astronomy class." Ron just rolled his eyes and sighed. Harry, meanwhile, simply ignored them both and continued to gaze at Pluto, his expression unreadable.

Samus couldn't help but giggle to herself. In her time, during the brief periods she was forced to spend among other humans, she had observed the sort of behavior Hermione and Ron displayed among older, married couples. It's as if they were made for each other, she thought wryly.

Suddenly, a beeping sound from the control console made Samus look down. Her expression turned from amusement of frustration when she saw the alert displayed. "Again?" she fumed.

"I'm afraid so, Lady," said Adam. "It appears the deflector shield matrix has gone offline again, possibly due to some complications with the circuitry in surrounding sections. I've already activated the automated repair system in order to isolate the cause."

"Save it, Adam. I'll have a look at it myself," said Samus irritably, getting up from the pilot's seat.

"Is that really necessary, Samus?" asked Hermione. "You don't think we'll be attacked out here, do you? And I doubt even V-V-Voldemort can Apparate from a distance of over 3.5 billion miles," she went on, ignoring how Ron winced.

"She is right, Lady," said Adam. "You should simply allow me to conduct automated repairs. I'm confident that I will be able to fix this."

"That's what you said the last two times," said Samus as she strode to the rear of her ship. Over the last few days, she had made frequent trips into space, both to tractor debris from Voldemort's station and send it on a path into the sun, and to allow Dumbledore to examine the exit apertures of the singularities that brought her, Adam, and the X to this time. And twice during those trips, the shields had failed her. It was obvious the damage had been more extensive than she thought. If you want something done right, I guess you have to do it yourself, she thought as she knelt down and removed a cover panel, exposing power relays and circuitry.

Samus immediately got to work, grabbing a diagnostic tool and examining the circuitry for defects or damage. Doing things by myself, she thought to herself again. For a long time, I thought that was the way it should be. But now...

Samus sighed as she continued her task, but her thoughts kept wandering, going over all that had happened to her at Hogwarts and onboard the rebuilt. B.S.L. All that time, she believed she should have been able to handle the X on her own, that it was her responsibility. But that view had constantly been challenged. Members of the Order of the Phoenix constantly lent her a hand, and ultimately, she found herself joined in battle by none other than Harry Potter, who doggedly refused to back down. And ultimately, it was him who saved her. Twice.

She sighed again and closed her eyes, still lost in thought. She had always found it difficult to relate to anyone, especially her own kind, being raised apart from humanity. She always worked alone whenever possible, not being able to bear the thought of anyone else dying on her watch. Seeing the Metroid Hatchling die only reinforced that. And that feeling of isolation was only made worse when Adam Malkovich sacrificed himself so she could fight on, leaving her guilt-ridden, her heart and soul almost broken beyond repair.

Samus looked back to the cockpit, where Harry, Ron and Hermione were still gazing out at Pluto and its moon. For a fleeting instant, she felt jealous of Harry, at how he had people he could trust completely. But that feeling vanished as she realized she already had someone like that in Harry. True to his word, Harry had seen out the whole crisis with her until the end. He kept insisting that it was only because of the special powers he absorbed from the X parasites, but Samus knew now there was more to it than that. She had finally realized it during that final fight with Voldemort. He wasn't just a born fighter, he was a loyal friend willing to help anyone, even freakish, inhuman bounty hunters from the future. Knowing that filled Samus with a feeling she hadn't experienced for a long, long time, but she knew that soon, she would be forced to leave him behind...

Maybe willing to risk having someone fight alongside me IS worth it, after all, Samus thought as she returned to her task. All my life, I believed that I was meant to handle any threat myself. I thought the Chozo were training me to fight on my own, without relying on anyone else. But maybe, just maybe...there were things they couldn't teach me, things I had to learn on my own...

"Samus?" asked a hesitant voice.

Samus lowered her diagnostic tool and looked behind her. Harry was there, looking down at her with an uneasy expression. He had the look of someone with a lot on his mind. Not unlike me right now, she thought to herself. Out loud, she asked, "What's on your mind, Harry?"

"Oh, i-it's nothing," said Harry uneasily, but one withering glance from Samus told him that she didn't believe him. "Well, it's just that...you seem really bothered by something right now."

"Of course I am. This is the third time that this shield matrix has gone offline on me," said Samus brusquely. However, a withering look from Harry that convinced Samus to spill her guts.

After Samus finished, Harry immediately said. "I see. It's really going to be hard going back to the future, isn't it?"

Samus thought about it for a moment. "To be honest, I'm not sure I even WANT to go back. But...there's really no place for me here, and Adam and I can't risk affecting history more than we already have. There's no telling how badly we've altered the history of your Wizarding world as it is," she said. And yet, it almost seems as if we were meant to meet each other, she silently added.

"What about people in your time? Besides the Chozo, of course," replied Harry.

"Well, it's not as if I'm exactly welcome among the Galactic Federation troopers. Especially now, considering what Adam and I had to do," said Samus, smiling weakly.

"Yeah, I'll bet," scoffed Harry, his arms folded. "The GF's going to be all bent out of shape because you destroyed their precious little station? And here I thought I had problems with the Ministry," he added with a derisive tone.

Samus frowned. It was true both of them had to put up with people who wouldn't truly understand what they had to go through, or even try to understand. "It's outrageous, I know. But I'm sure enough people in my time will understand what I had to do, just like how you've got the Order of the Phoenix," said Samus, echoing what Adam had told her. But Harry's sour expression told Samus he didn't really find solace in that, so she went back to Harry's original question. "There are others I've worked with from time to time. There's Captain Falcon, for instance..."

"Who's he?" asked Harry, interested.

"He's another bounty hunter, but he's best known for being an F-Zero racer," explained Samus. "He's a competent fighter and investigator, but of course, he has nothing on me," she finished with a smile.

"Do you know him well?"

"Not really. He's always been a man of mystery...and he's got a bit of an arrogant streak," said Samus, remembering all the times Captain Falcon had been brazen enough to hit on her. "And then there's Kirby."

"You told me about him already," Harry pointed out.

"But he was one of the friendlier aliens I've ever met outside the Chozo," said Samus. "However, it's been quite a while since I last saw him."

"Then maybe you should pay him a visit once Dumbledore gets you back to your own time. Him and Falcon both," Harry suggested.

"Yeah, maybe I should," Samus admitted. Then she looked up again and saw Harry's expression still suggested something was weighing heavily on his mind. "Something else bothering you, Harry?"

Harry shook his head. "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. And I still can't get over what the SA-X said."

"You mean, about what their true motives were all along?" Samus inquired.

This time, Harry nodded. "It was one thing when we thought the HP-X and the SA-X were just evil versions of us. But from what the SA-X said, they were really acting on what WE really wanted, deep down. It's like they took on our desire for peace, and it was perverted and, and..." Harry shook his head again. "It's just disturbing, knowing that. Knowing that they were more like us than we thought. That they didn't just look like us."

"There's an adage among my Chozo tribe, Harry," Samus said. "It goes like this: Some of the darkest desires are those born of good intentions. It's true, our doppelgangers probably fed off our deep longing for a peaceful universe, but they were corrupted by the power they had at their disposal, and chose to try to impose their version of unity. There are several instances just like that in the history of many other worlds, where tyrants rose thinking they had the right to impose their vision on others.

"But Harry, you shouldn't let that get you down any more than the fact that you still have Metroid DNA," Samus continued. "If you're worried that one day you might turn out like the HP-X, don't be. I'm not worried at all. Like Dumbledore and I have told you, the type of choices you make prove you're not that type of person."

"You really think so?" asked Harry uneasily.

"I know so," Samus answered. "You're a caring person at heart, Harry. For instance, instead of finishing off the SA-X, you chose to try and revive me first. That proves you care more about your friends than eliminating the enemy."

"So, I made the right choices?" he asked hesitantly.

"Not really. That was a tactically unsound move," Samus admitted in a flat tone. "You should have finished off my double first, THEN came to try and revive me. Still, it proves what kind of person you are, and I can confidently say it's not the mark of some budding tyrant. And Dumbledore told me about Voldemort's past, and it's obvious you're NOTHING like him. Also, I remember how you even tried to drag Umbridge to safety."

Harry smiled. "Speaking of Umbridge, Fred and George should have that tunnel ready soon."

"That's good to know," said Samus, smiling as well.

"I hate to break up this heartwarming exchange," blurted out Adam unceremoniously, "but according to my chronometer, it is now midnight on Earth, by the time at Hogwarts. Perhaps, since our tour is concluded, we should set a course back to Earth?"

Harry let out a deep sigh of annoyance. Samus, meanwhile, turned back to her work and said, "Fine, Adam. Lay in a course yourself. I still have work to do."

"Damn," muttered Harry.

"You've got school tomorrow," said Samus. "Consider yourself lucky. You can always count on weekends and summer vacation. Back on Zebes, my training and education was practically nonstop for a length of over one of your decades." Harry sighed again as Samus felt Adam move the ship and alter its heading, then engage its engines at sublight speeds.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx x

Harry stared dully at his copy of Defensive Magical Theory, barely able to force himself to read it. Most. Useless. Textbook. Ever, Harry thought sourly as he stared blankly at the pages. At least the textbooks for Snape's classes...those I actually LEARN stuff from. But this bilge...

Harry looked up and glanced around at the desks around him. No one else was particularly enjoying sitting in class, merely reading a book. He was pleased to see that even Hermione, the most bookwormish person he'd ever met, had a look of disgust on her face, clearly sharing his thoughts. He looked back down at his book and sighed. Come on, Harry, it's Friday. Just get through this class, and it'll be the weekend soon enough, he thought.

But then he glanced over at Dolores Umbridge's desk, where the squat witch was grading papers, and his blood boiled all over again. If only you and Fudge knew what I had to go through last Sunday, what it was like on that station...if only we could've brought back some solid proof about what happened! he thought angrily. Voldemort will try something again soon enough, he'll overplay his hand...at least when that happens, you and Fudge will fall, and fall hard.

Harry tried to read the assigned chapter again, but it was no use. Ugh, I could teach better than this Wilbert Slinkhard! He was then reminded of Hermione's suggestion, that HE teach Defense Against the Dark Arts to other students. Maybe I should, he admitted to himself. After taking on a legion of alien parasites and then fighting Lord Voldemort again, I guess I could teach everyone else a thing or two.

He let his mind wander, thinking about what he should try to teach. As it turned out, the Aguamenti spell actually was pretty useful when I used it to attack. But I wonder...it's a pretty advanced charm, will other people be able to use it like that? I guess maybe if I do these lessons, I should start with something basic, like the Disarming Charm...

A strange, faint noise stopped his lesson planning. It sounded as if something was rolling underneath the stone floor...

Oh, here it comes! Harry thought excitedly, glancing over at Umbridge's desk again. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ron and Hermione do the same. Fred and George's little invention worked! Drilling a small tunnel over a meter wide, just enough for a certain someone to roll on in and...

An odd blooping noise could be heard coming from underneath Umbridge's desk, a total of four times, in rapid succession. "What in the name of Merlin? What's..." Umbridge started to say.

But a loud explosion went off underneath her desk cut her off, blasting away the floor and causing it to crumble. Three more explosions went off after that, smashing the desk to splinters and sending up a plume of debris and dust. When it finally cleared, Umbridge could be seen at the bottom of a newly-formed crater, covered with soot and dust, wearing an expression of mingled fury and confusion.

For a moment, everyone stared dumbly at the front of the class. But when they got a good look at Umbridge, every student in the classroom burst into laughter, including Harry. After getting his laughter under control, he looked over at Hermione. She was beaming at him, holding up a small, disposable camera in her hand. It would be a simple process to use magic on the photographs, preserving that moment forever. Harry looked over at Ron, who was staring off into space. Harry could practically hear Ron filing away that moment right next to 'The Amazing Bouncing Ferret.'

Thanks, Samus, Harry thought happily. We all needed that.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It was now Saturday evening, and Harry and his friends had spent most of the day catching up on schoolwork. Using that Thursday evening to explore the entire solar system had them all falling behind, and today they had to pay for it. Still, it was worth it. Harry thought back to Samus's tour, knowing he'd never forget any of it. Not even Ron's immature Uranus jokes.

But at last, things were quieting down around the castle, and with a sufficient amount of work out of the way, they could all relax. But for Ron, his idea of relaxing was a rousing game of chess. And tonight, his opponent was none other than Samus Aran. Their game was the center of attention in the Gryffindor common room (sure, Harry wasn't supposed to let her in, but so what?). Harry, Hermione, Ginny, Fred, George and Neville were all watching their game intently, even though it sometimes took Ron and Samus several minutes to decide on their next move. The game had gone on for over two hours, but now, both of their forces had been whittled down. It looked like the end was near, but who would ultimately come out on top, or who he should even be rooting for, Harry had no idea.

"Not even Hermione's lasted this long against Ron," Harry heard Neville mutter under his breath. Harry just nodded. It was true that when it came to chess, Ron had handily defeated just about every person in Gryffindor House, including Minerva McGonagall. Harry was certain the extra load of homework McGonagall dumped in their laps that one weekend last year, right after her defeat at Ron's hands, wasn't a coincidence.

"I've got quite a few Galleons riding on Samus. I know she'll win," said George enthusiastically. His twin just rolled his eyes and Harry shook his head. It was painfully obvious George was still infatuated with Samus. Looking over at Samus, who was once again wearing only her teal rubber garments, he began to see why. Still, it was extremely vexing, the way George kept pressuring Harry, asking about whether or not he thought he could possibly arrange a date.

"Betting against your own brother? That's low," said Hermione. George just shot her a sour look.

"Why not? I did too," Ginny cut in. "I've heard about how smart Samus is. And if she can fight Voldemort head-on, then a game of chess has got to be child's play for her."

"Not necessarily," Hermione muttered darkly. Harry looked over at her. He knew that Hermione accepted Samus as a friend, but was she still feeling jealous of her? Not only because of how Ron seemed infatuated by her as well, but also because of how other people in Gryffindor were admiring her intellect?

"Y'know, I'd really appreciate it if you'd all shut the hell up," Ron said flatly, looking flustered. It was still his turn to move, and his face was screwed up in concentration. Eventually, though, he said, "Rook to H6." Immediately, Ron's white rook piece slowly slid across the chess board, clobbering the black pawn at H6.

Ron looked over at Samus, who said, "Hmmm, I expected you to try that." Her hand went for her black queen piece, but when her fingers got close to it, it pricked her finger with its tiny sword. "Oww!" exclaimed Samus, sucking her finger.

Ron laughed. "Haven't you figured it out yet? This isn't Muggle chess, just call out where you want the pieces to go," he said, still smirking.

Samus glared at him, then looked back down at the board. She sighed, then said, "Queen to G7." Samus's queen instantly slid to the desired spot. When it came to rest, Harry couldn't help but notice that Ron was grinning broadly. Evidently, Samus noticed as well. "What are you so happy for? You've got nothing in place to take my king or queen."

"Oh, you'll see," Ron said, beaming at her.

"I'm still not sure who I should be rooting for," Harry whispered to Hermione, "or who's going to win this."

"Ron will win, naturally," replied Hermione. "He's beaten everyone else, and this is probably Samus's first time playing chess."

"Well, when I was growing up, I was exposed to many complex mental and strategic exercises and programs, some very similar to this," Samus spoke up, obviously overhearing them.

"Maybe, but you're still..." Ron began, then he looked at the board again. "Bishop to D2." The bishop slid to the indicated square. Ron looked up at Samus. "Wanna take my rook? Be my guest," he said. Samus looked back at him, but said nothing. Then she looked back down at the board and remained silent for several minutes, carefully considering her next move.

And so, their game dragged on for almost another half-hour, while Harry and the others watched breathlessly, the outcome still as unclear as when the game began. Would this super-intelligent bounty hunter from the future come out on top, or would Ron's winning streak remain unbroken? If anyone has a chance of beating him, it's her, Harry silently admitted.

"King to C5," Samus called out. The glossy, black chess piece moved to the desired square, but Ron was grinning broadly again as it did so.

There was no hesitation when he called out his next move. "Knight to E4," he commanded, and the piece slid into place. "Check," he added gleefully.

For about a minute, Samus stared at the board again, her face unreadable. But eventually, her face fell, her expression one of resigned defeat. "He's got me," she said reluctantly.

"WHAT? Come off it! You've got to be joking!" exclaimed George, refusing to believe what he had heard.

"Please, say it isn't so," whimpered Ginny.

Samus shook her head. "Nope, it's inevitable. Checkmate in four turns," she said softly. She then flicked her finger at her king piece, toppling it. "Well, that settles it. Ron here is still the reigning champion."

"H-How?" Fred asked under his breath. "Samus is so smart, and..."

"I know what went wrong," said Hermione, cutting Fred off. "Samus is always accustomed to doing things on her own, without anyone's help. Commanding an army is just something she's not suited for."

Harry didn't quite believe Hermione, but Samus nodded and said, "She's absolutely right, you know. It's not that much of a surprise that Ron beat me."

"Not that it was easy," Ron said, trying to sound humble. "You lasted eighty turns. It's never taken me THAT many turns to beat someone. Not even McGonagall lasted that long."

"I know. I remember our game well," came a voice from the entrance.

Everyone turned to see the Head of Gryffindor House standing by the entrance. "Good evening, everyone," she calmly said. "Actually, it is past midnight now," she said as her gaze turned to Samus.

"Yeah yeah, I know I shouldn't be here," muttered Samus.

"True, it is against school policy and warrants the deduction of House points," said McGonagall, glancing over at Harry. "However, I suppose I can overlook this little transgression. I only wish I had been here to see that chess game."

"I'll say! Samus gave Ron the game of his life!" said George.

"Not that there was any doubt about who would win," said Hermione. Ron's chest seemed to puff up with pride, while Samus managed a small smile.

McGonagall smiled as well, but her gaze drifted back over to Samus. There was a solemn look in her eyes now, one that made Samus look uneasy. It served to unsettle Harry as well. "What is it, Professor?" he asked.

Still looking at Samus, McGonagall said, "It's time."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Harry trudged along behind Samus, who had suited up again, but had that set of robes on to conceal her armor. All of his close friends from Gryffindor House walked beside him, and Dobby was with them too. He was certain they felt the same way that he did. They had all gotten know Samus over the course of the last week, and now she was leaving, possibly forever...

No one said anything as McGonagall led the way into the Forbidden Forest, to where Samus's ship was. It was probably because no one could think of anything to say, the general mood was so gloomy. The danger had passed, Voldemort's plans were crushed, but the one responsible for their victory, their newest friend, now had to return to where she came from, and words couldn't describe the turmoil this put Harry through.

If only she could just stay here with us, Harry thought to himself as he held up his wand, lighting the way. She could just keep working at Hogwarts with Dobby and Filch, her alien mates could stay with the centaurs... Not to mention she could join the Order. With her help, I know they could stop Voldemort for good, I'm sure of it...

In his heart, Harry desperately wanted Samus to say, but intellectually, he knew why it was important for her to return to her own time. He had seen enough science-fiction to know that any alterations in the past could affect the future, and Samus and the X parasites had made enough of an impact already.

And from what Samus told him about her future, he didn't want it endangered. Though there would still be conflict and strife, it sounded better than the Muggle world he knew now. Plus, from what Adam said, it sounded like his own kind would reach for the stars as well. The HP-X and SA-X were wrong to try to force the whole universe to conform to what they wanted, to have their version of peace imposed on everyone, Harry thought. Having all the different races in the galaxy come together and work together, on their own, that's the way it's supposed to be. Too bad there'll be bad apples like the Space Pirates...

Besides, there was Adam... Samus's ship needed refueling, the computer systems needed maintenance, and nothing in this time could possibly do the job. Even magic couldn't handle everything in this case. It would be selfish of him to ask Samus to stay, to stay there for one friend while endangering another.

"We're here," McGonagall suddenly said. With a flick of her wand, she lifted the Disillusionment Charm put on Samus's ship. The air in front of them seemed to bend and ripple, and slowly, her spaceship came back into view, its purple hull glistening from the wandlight supplied by the students.

Samus said she's got some stealth field that'll also make her ship invisible, but it wasn't working, Harry recalled. Amazing, how in her time, there's technology that's so advanced, can substitute our magic... If only I could go and see it for myself...

"There you are, Samus," she said, turning to the bounty hunter. "I truly regret how you must leave us. I was suspicious of you when Dumbledore first took you in, but now, after all these months, I can't imagine Hogwarts without you."

"Neither can we," Fred chimed in.

"Yeah. Those stunts you pulled on Malfoy's lot and Umbridge were bloody brilliant," said George. This elicited a laugh from everyone, including McGonagall. Hermione had shown her the enchanted photograph she had taken. McGonagall had immediately demanded a copy.

"Believe me, Minerva, I truly wish I could stay here with all of you," Samus said, her tone a melancholy one. "This is the only place besides Zebes that's truly felt like home to me. And it feels like I'm leaving a job half-finished. Voldemort's still out there, and someone needs to stop him once and for all..."

"I appreciate how you feel, Samus," McGonagall cut in. "But I'm sure you understand how important it is that you return to your future. I'm afraid the task of putting an end to You-Know-Who's plans rests with us."

"And it sounds like there are enemies in your time only you can fight," said Hermione. "You've got your battles, and we've got ours."

Samus let out a heavy sigh. "I suppose you're right, Hermione, as usual." Samus looked around, as if trying to spot something. "But I can't go yet, not until my old companions show up. I figured they would've come to me themselves. Where are..."

"Your friends are here," came a booming, imperious voice from behind the group. "Some of your number told us when you would be here."

Turning around, Harry saw Bane and Ronan trotting up to the ship, the Etecoons and Dachoras beside them. And they weren't the only ones accompanying the centaurs. Arthur Weasley and Moody were making their way toward the group along with them.

"Dad?" excalimed Ron. "What are you doing here?"

"Moody and I came to see Samus off," replied Arthur. "Everyone in the Order owes her a huge debt."

"Everyone in the WORLD owes her a huge debt," growled Moody. "That much, I'll have to admit. If only there were more people in our world that had your brains and guts, scum like You-Know-Who wouldn't be a problem."

Samus flashed a small smile. "I can't take all the credit, though," she said in a humble tone, then looked toward Harry. "This time, I had plenty of help." Harry smiled back, allowing himself to feel a swell of pride.

"Oh, Samus!" Hermione called out, walking up to Samus. "There's something...we'd like to give you, something Harry and the others put together." She reached into her robes and pulled out what looked like a large photo album, then handed it to Samus. "It has pictures of all of us, and the things we did this past week, including the 'bombs away' incident. We just thought it'd be nice to have, so you'll always remember this time we had together."

Samus took it hesitantly, looking as if she were speechless. "Th-thanks, Hermione. I don't know what to say...except that I doubt I'll ever forget about all of this, I assure you."

"And we got something else for you," said Fred, holding a large, bulging sack. "Our little invention, which dug out that tunnel for you. You never know when you might need them again, drop some bombs on these Pirate gits..."

"Thanks again," said Samus, stuffing the photo album into the confines of her robes, then taking the sack.

"Dobby has something too!" cried the house-elf. "Dobby would like Samus to have this as a going-away present!" Dobby took off the tea cozy he wore as a hat, its badges glimmering in the wandlight.

Samus looked warily at the tea cozy, a confused look on her face. "T-Thanks, Dobby. But I'd rather you keep that, I know how much it means to you." Dobby, looking crestfallen, put the tea cozy back on his head. Samus turned to face the group again. "I-I'm sorry, everyone, I never thought of anything to give to all of you."

"Well, you gave me the first REAL game of chess I've had in ages," said Ron smugly.

"Not to mention, you gave me the cure that saved my life," reminded Harry. "And I still have this," he added, pulling the breathing filter Adam gave him out of his pocket. "Believe me, I'll hang on to this. I'm sure it'll come in handy again one day."

Samus just smiled back, just as the Etecoons and Dachoras began to flock around her. "Oh, I wish I could have one of those monkey-things, they're so cute," Ginny cooed.

"I know," said Hermione in agreement.

"Speaking of gifts, there is one last thing you will need," said McGonagall. She reached into her robes and pulled out a silver alarm clock. "This is the key to returning to your own time."

Samus handed Fred and George's sack to one of the Etecoons and took the clock from McGonagall. "I'm still a bit fuzzy about this, and I was half-asleep when Dumbledore briefed me. How does this work?"

McGonagall cleared her throat. "Well, as Dumbledore found out, the points where you, that escape pod and the station parts all left permanent traces. After close examination and some experimentation, Dumbledore deduced how to reopen those apertures, and reconfigure them to allow passage BACK to your time instead of taking things and people from it. All you have to do is have this clock touch one of those points, and the path will be opened, but only for a short time," she explained.

"Ah, I see. Basically using sorcery to reopen and stabilize a wormhole, only this wormhole is a rift in time as well as space," said Samus as she examined the clock closely. "Well, I suppose that's it. I better be going."

Those last few words tore through Harry like a knife in the gut. "Samus..." he started to say as he stepped closer to her, but the rest of what he wanted to say got caught in his throat.

"Harry, I-I'm sorry," said Samus softly, "But I have to go now. As much as I want to stay, I don't belong here."

"I know, Samus, I know," Harry muttered dejectedly. "It's just...I wish...if only I could go back with you."

Samus looked at him for a moment, her expression one of empathy. "I wish I could take you, too. But...you've got friends here, a life, a future... It'd be selfish of me to uproot you and take you away from all that, just like it'd be selfish for me to stay and risk affecting the timeline adversely."

"Yeah, well, it's not much of a life right now," Harry muttered.

"It'll get better, once your government wises up," said Samus. "And you've got friends to help you through all that...and I'll be fine knowing that you're all happy together, working together. Besides, Harry, you've already done so much for me, and I'm not just talking about wiping out the X. You taught me something, that trusting others takes strength in itself, and you've helped me learn to trust myself again..."

Harry said nothing in response, merely regarding Samus for several seconds. But then, his eyes full of tears, he reached forward and hugged Samus. Samus knelt slightly and wrapped her left arm around Harry, almost crushing him against her armored body. "Samus..." Harry began.

"I'll be fine, Harry," Samus whispered. "I promise you."

After what seemed an eternity, the two broke apart, and Samus and her alien companions walked underneath her ship, where Adam would be ready to receive them. "Good-bye everyone, I'll never forget you!" she called out to the others, waving at them. A chorus of good-byes echoed around her as she, the Etecoons and the Dachoras were levitated into the ship.

A few seconds later, the engines came to life with a thunderous roar as the vertical thrusters lifted the ship off the forest ground. Harry watched helplessly as the ship slowly ascended, then began its flight away from the Forbidden Forest, away from Earth, away from his time.

"Thank you, Samus," Harry called out to no one in particular, "for everything."

However, unnoticed by Harry and the others, Bane watched Samus's ship depart from behind a nearby tree, an odd look in his eyes.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Samus sulked in the pilot's seat while Adam handled the piloting duties, staring dully at Hermione's photo album. At the moment, she couldn't bear opening it, to be reminded of all the wonderful people she was leaving behind forever. Maybe Harry is right, she thought to herself. There has to be other humans in my time that are just like him and his friends, maybe I should stop acting like a nomad and a hermit all the time. Anthony Higgs must still be around, and he may be helpful with the coming clashes with the Galactic Federation. And if I could somehow get in contact with the witches and wizards in MY time...

"Penny for your thoughts, Lady?" Adam spoke up in a queurulous tone.

Samus looked up from the album clutched tightly in her hand. "Oh, it's nothing Adam. I'm just saddened because we'll never see these kids again. From our perspective, they've been long dead for centuries," she said sorrowfully. "You are going to miss them too, right?"

"Indeed. They are truly unique individuals, and it would have been nice to continue to have Harry Potter accompanying us. Continuing to have a capable partner in the field would only have been beneficial for you."

"I know, Adam, I know," said Samus, nodding in agreement. "In a way, he felt closer to me than anyone in the tribe of Chozo that raised me. It kills me, knowing that I'll never see him again either..."

"You never know, Lady," said Adam airily. "In this universe, nothing is truly definite..."

Samus said nothing. She knew the odds of ever seeing Harry and his friends again was far too miniscule to bother computing, and yet...

"By the way, aren't you going to take those garments off?" Adam asked suddenly. "It's not like you require that disguise anymore."

Samus looked down at herself, noting how the flowing, black, silky cloth neatly covered the features of her fusion suit. "I don't know, Adam. I've kind of grown fond of it. Besides, it may be useful...I could easily blend in with the crowds at most spaceports wearing this. And who knows, we might stumble the witches and wizards in our time..."

"If you say so, Lady," said Adam offhandedly. "And by the way, we've arrived at what I believe is the exit aperture of the singularity that brought us here in the first place." Looking up, Samus saw the starry expanse of space outside the cockpit window, the Earth and its moon behind them. Then, Samus saw Dumbledore's enchanted clock slowly float through space, having been sent out by Adam. After a few seconds, Samus's vision was filled with a blinding, silvery glow, but once it abated somewhat, she could make out the entrance to what looked like a small, stable wormhole.

"Well, this is it, Adam. Let's go," she said resolutely. With that, she disengaged the autopilot and took control of the ship herself, flying her ship directly into the singularity's entrance. She was heading back to her time, to a chaotic life and an uncertain future where the Galactic Federation would hound her for what she did, but she realized that now, she wouldn't - and shouldn't - have to face it all alone...

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And so, that ended the most bizarre adventure of my life. Right now, a lot of witches and wizards are insanely curious about my life, obsessed with me because they think I'm destined to rid them of Voldemort forever. Imagine if I told all of them that I still have the genetic material of a lethal alien parasite, and that I helped a bounty hunter from the future take down another alien parasite, and beat back Lord Voldemort while we were at it...

What Samus faced when she returned to her time, I may never know. I can just hope that, because of me, she will no longer feel like she needs to keep everything to herself, that she's realized she can confide in others...

As for me, she's shown me quite a lot. If it wasn't for our little adventure, I doubt I would've had enough confidence to start the D.A., but it goes further than that. The reason we became so close is because we saw ourselves in each other. I don't have her special abilities anymore, but I don't need them. She gave me something far more valuable than her Metroid DNA. She's shown me what true courage and conviction is, what it means to be willing to risk so much and fight for what one knows is right. There have been times that I've lost sight of that, but now that I've learned of the prophecy, I know what I have to do.

She had to watch helplessly as her friend Adam Malkovich and the Metroid Hatchling died right in front of her, just like I've had to watch Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore die while I was powerless to do anything to save them. Like her, I've had to suffer like few people ever have, but she found the strength to carry on and fight a war she knew she had to win, as must I. Now, as I've come to terms with the job of finding all of Voldemort's Horcruxes, I'll keep her in my heart as my friends and I do what we have to, win or lose. I'll find comfort in the fact I once had the honor of fighting with a soul as pure as hers, that I learned so much from her...

Thank you, Samus Aran. I'll never forget you.

THE END

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hidden References:

- The way Harry stepped into the final battle with Voldemort and fought alongside Samus...I sort of meant that to parallel the ending to Zelda: The Wind Waker, where Zelda fights with Link. Also, the whole deal with having a new B.S.L that was essentially the same but with a different layout...I got that idea from the 'second quest' in the original Legend of Zelda.
- Some of Voldemort's utterances ("Not yet Samus! It's not over yet!" "Good work, Samus. But this is where it gets interesting.") were ripped from the mouths of Metal Gear villains. And the way McGonagall balks at how Samus intended to take on the X alone and Samus replies, "It won't be the first time." was pulled from an exchange between Solid Snake and Meryl in Metal Gear Solid. Lastly, 'Way To Fall' was the ending theme for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
- The way Samus declares to Adam "We're going in," and points at Voldemort's station was a nod to Avery Johnson's declaration in Halo 2.
- The whole thing with giving Samus a whip was one big jab at Castlevania and how just about every sequel since Symphony of the Night has essentially been a rip-off of Super Metroid. Also, the combo Samus busted out on Voldemort was lifted from Lament of Innocence, and 'Bloody Tears' is the name of a track first introduced in Castlevania II.
- And just like the whip, the whole 'screw roll' thing was one big nod to Sonic the Hedgehog. I basically figured, 'Hey, if Sonic can do a spin attack while rolling on the ground, why can't Samus?' In addition, 'Final Rush' was the name of the last Hero level in Sonic Adventure 2, after which Sonic faced off against - you guessed it - his dark twin.
- The U-No-Poo hits the fan when strange monsters start appearing in the school, which we find out are breeding deep underneath school grounds...remind anyone of the beginning of Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium?
- The beginning of this whole time travel mess is marked by a strange object falling from the sky...kinda makes you recall Chrono Trigger, don't it?
- The floating platforms that Voldemort conjures up, which are actually traps that shoot out deadly attacks...that was blatantly ripped from the final fight with Sigma in the first Mega Man X game.
- The sheer number of pointless references must remind some of you of Conker's Bad Fur Day and its tasteless movie spoofery.
- 'Invasion From Within' is the name of a song done by a Japanese band called Tsunami Bomb, which was used in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness.
- When I said "Another chapter, another box of stolen quills," in the blurb at the end of Chapter 6, and Harry thinking Most. Useless. Textbook. Ever…that was just my chronic need to put at least one Simpsons reference in every fic I write.
- Alright, I'm sure that the end of the duel between Harry and the SA-X made some otakus out there recall the final battle of the first season of Sailor Moon.
-'Where No Wizard Has Gone Before' was an obvious Star Trek reference

- I'm sure some of you must've been reminded of the Terminator movies when the HP-X first appeared, having freed himself from that jar.
- I just had to have both Harry and Samus use the 'You are one UGLY motherf...' line from the Predator movies.
- And lastly, how could I not toss in some nods to Aliens? When Samus said 'Stay away from him you heartless BITCH!' was just a variation of when Ripley yelled 'Get away from her you BITCH!' Also, the gruesome death of Samus's mother in that flashback was a nod to that ultra-gross scene where Bishop gets impaled by the Alien Queen's tail.

Lastly, before I end this for good, I need to take a moment and give credit to each and every person that made this story possible.

CREDITS:

-J.K. Rowling, for creating such an imaginative, magical world and such unforgettable characters. May her name be immortalized forever.
-Nintendo, for publishing the Metroid games, and Gumpei Yokoi (1941-1997), who oversaw the production of the original trilogy and worked on so many of Nintendo's other projects, but whose life tragically ended in a car accident. May he rest in peace.
-Yoshio Sakamoto and the development team that worked on the original trilogy and Metroid Fusion, and Shigeru Miyamoto and Retro Studios for making a near-perfect transition to 3D with Metroid Prime.
-Fernando Badaro, aka Razor Knight, a fellow writer and the best online pen-pal a guy could ask for.
-CubedCinder128 and his sister Barbie7635, who also have encouraged me to write.
-Sarumarine, an old friend and author of 'Blackdie', the best Metroid fic I've ever read.
-Marz1, author of the excellent Harry Potter/Stargate SG1 crossover 'Crumpets Aren't My Style', which, in my eyes, set a standard that I had to live up to.
-Bill Harris, author of what I consider the greatest fanfic series ever written...'Sailor Trek'. His crossover series had a profound impact on me, and I wouldn't be the writer I am today if I had somehow missed it.
-And lastly, everyone who took the time to read this story and saw it through to the end. Thank you.

See you next mission,
Grey-X

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