Chapter 14: The Phoenix's Lesson
The rest of the day passed in a blur. I remember successfully restraining from killing Peter. Even if noone else would remember, Mum and Dad would. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be tempted to change the future, but I still don't want them knowing.
The Order played a game of Quidditch, too. Enough people agreed to play to make two full teams, so I got to Seek against Dad. I won, of course. Dad let me win, like I expected him to. We're pretty evenly matched, otherwise. He has a greater amount of experience under his belt but I have more difficult experiences.
I remember a celebration. Lots of drinks, some champagne even. I was slightly jealous of Ron and Hermione – recently eighteen – as they toasted with the Order...until Dad slipped me some that he'd Transfigured into looking like butterbeer.
Near sundown, some Order members got out instruments and a lively dance began. When the slow song came up, I got to watch Mum and Dad dancing. It brought tears to my eyes, seeing them slowly revolving, oblivious to anything besides them. Ron and Hermione brought tears to my eyes while they danced, too. But, that was because Hermione was especially giggly and Ron was red in the face. It seems the champagne affected them more than they thought. To my delight, Hermione kissed Ron on the cheek. He turned even redder, but drew her closer to him. Finally! All they needed was to get...tipsy...
But, it didn't end there. After the dance, the five of us went home and enjoyed watching Ron and Dad play chess. I don't think I've ever seen Ron concentrate harder on a game of chess that didn't have any lives depending on it. Dad sure gave Ron a run for his money, too.
I went to bed that night feeling refreshed. For the first time in my life, I felt truly at home. Hogwarts is where I belong, but it's not a home, not really. I think...this is what Fawkes meant when he said I needed to learn a lesson. It goes deeper than just knowing my parents and knowing that I'm the Heir of Gryffindor. I was feeling a bit depressed before, and I needed to learn why my parents gave their lives for me, why they wanted me to live. Why I need to keep living.
In the morning, I was woken by the sun shining merrily in the window and the delicious smell of breakfast. Coming downstairs, I saw that Sirius had decided to drop by.
"Morning, sleepy head," Sirius chuckled.
I grinned, "Morning."
Mum set a huge plate in front of me; eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, toast. My stomach growled as I dug in. Sirius and Dad, who was next to Sirius, both laughed while Mum frowned at me.
"You look underfed, Harry. Have you been getting enough to eat?"
I nearly inhaled my eggs as I tried to laugh. It ended up being a half-cough, half-laugh. Truthfully, I haven't been eating well, but she doesn't need to know that.
"It's amazing how much you sound like Mrs. Weasley," I chortled.
She smiled at me. "It's a mother thing, dear. Molly just treats everyone like they're her children. Her family is in the Order, even though she isn't, and she likes to help out by cooking once in a while."
I swallowed another bite. "Hey! Are Ron and Hermione awake?"
"Yes," smirked Dad. "They're still in their room."
I had let them have the guestroom while I took the couch, hoping something like this would happen. "If I'd known all they needed was some bubbly, I would've done it a long time ago," I snorted.
"You would've done what a long time ago?" Hermione asked, dragging Ron in after her.
"Nothing, nothing," I replied nonchalantly. Neither of them believed me, but they knew me well enough that they didn't try to wheedle it out of me.
Mum quickly put plates in front of them. "After breakfast, what do you say to a day in Diagon Alley?"
Noone got a chance to answer, though. The doorbell rang and Dad opened the door to let Dumbledore in. A second later, Fawkes flamed in and perched on Dumbledore's shoulder. Truthfully, I wasn't surprised to see them.
"Time to go," I sighed.
Fawkes bowed his handsome head. Aye. Even I won't be able to fix it if you change too much. To send you back, though, I will need your wand and ring.
I held them out for Fawkes, who grabbed them in his talons and flew in the direction of the living room. Soon, I heard the crackling of a fire in the hearth.
Dumbledore cleared his throat. "I apologize if I seem impatient, but I really must return to school."
"Of course," I chuckled, smiling at him. He smiled fondly back, his eyes twinkling. Then, I did something I'd always wanted to do. I hugged my teacher, trying to express all my feelings through the gesture. Startled, it took him a moment before he returned the hug.
I pulled away and Ron moved forward to shake his hand. "Good luck with me and my siblings, sir."
Hermione went to him with tears in the corners of her eyes. "Thank you for admitting me to you school, Professor. We'll never forget you."
"It was my pleasure to meet you and will be my pleasure to teach you, I'm sure," he replied before turning with a swish of his cloak and Disapparating.
Sirius put a brave face on. "I guess I'll see you three later. I wish you could say the same." All three of us went to hug Sirius this time.
"Thanks for being a brilliant godfather," I whispered tearfully.
"To all of us," Hermione added while Ron nodded.
That just left Mum and Dad. Ron and Hermione went first this time, realizing that I wanted some time with them alone. Mum and Dad insisted on embracing both of them.
"Thank you for being such great friends to Harry," Mum told them. "I'm glad to know that he's in good hands."
Ron answered, seeing that Hermione was about to lose it, "We're glad to finally meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Potter."
Dad laughed, "Call us Lily and James."
"We'll be watching over you, dears," said Mum.
Ron, Hermione, and Sirius left, leaving the three of us alone.
"You two are the only ones who will remember in this time," I began. Then, I was hugging them both. The tears that had threatened to spill this whole time finally came pouring out.
"I love you, so much," I whispered.
They both clutched me tighter and murmured back, "We love you, too."
I wanted to stay there, with them, forever. I didn't want them to die, but I knew I couldn't stop them from dying. Even if I changed the future, nothing stops death.
I'm not sure how long we hugged, or how we got to the living room, but we did. A bright, red and gold fire burned in the hearth.
The return journey will be slightly different, Fawkes chimed. I didn't think you'd mind, seeing as the ring was substituted for Tom's wand.
I chuckled as Fawkes returned the ring and my wand. Ron, Hermione, and I stepped into the fire. It licked us pleasantly and I was reminded of Floo Powder. Wonderful.
Through the flames, I gazed at my parents one last time and felt the fire sear my throat again. This time, Voldemort is finished.
The magic deposited us in a sunlit room. My brows came together as I realized it was the hotel room we had stayed in the night before I went to battle Voldemort.
"This is the same day we left," Hermione squeaked.
Indeed, said Fawkes as he appeared on the bed. This day wasn't finished when you left. It seems the Fates have given you a chance to rewrite this day before it is set forever in Time.
"You mean I have a chance to redo this day?" I asked.
Nodding, Fawkes came closer so that he could look me straight in the eye. Don't become what you hate.
"Um, Harry?" Ron said, looking at me like I was crazy. "Staring at Fawkes is not going to get him to suddenly gain the ability to talk and answer your question."
"He's right, Harry," agreed Hermione, putting on the face she wears when she knows something Ron and I don't. "Phoenixes can only talk to the humans that they're bonded to. Really very interesting to read about in My Life Bonded to a Phoenix. Fawkes was probably bonded with Dumbledore."
She's right, you know, Fawkes chirped in amusement. But, I must be off now. Good luck, Harry.
"What was that all about?" Ron asked, startled by Fawkes' sudden departure.
I waved my hand offhandedly. "He said that I get to redo today and told me not to become what I hate, whatever that means."
Hermione stared at me. "You heard Fawkes?"
"Yeah," I grinned.
Ron threw up his hands. "Why am I not surprised?"
"Anyway," Hermione continued, "he probably meant he doesn't want you to become like Voldemort. Does that make any sense?"
I replayed the events leading to our trip to the past and cringed, "Yes." I looked up at them in fierce determination. "But I know how to fix that. I'll see you later, then?"
They both nodded, saying, "Good luck!" and "Be careful."
I strode up to the Riddle mansion, this time without a guide. Thinking about how I had killed Peter "after his usefulness ended" brought bile to my mouth. This time I just turned Peter in to the Ministry and officially cleared Sirius' name. A warm feeling spread in my stomach knowing that everyone would know the truth now.
There was Nagini, coiled near the steps like before. She started to slither away, but I pointed my wand at her and yelled, "Stop."
Her great head turned toward me, poised and dignified. I couldn't help noticing that she was actually quite beautiful for a snake. A lump formed in my throat, suddenly, at the thought of killing her. She's not evil, she's just a loyal pet. Like Fawkes.
"You mean to kill me?"
"I have to," I muttered. "Please forgive me. Avada Kedavra!"
Last time, I'd wanted to make Voldemort feel some of the pain he'd made me feel. To cause unnecessary pain, just like him. Not this time.
A shriek rent the night and the air exploded outward as Voldemort Apparated in front of me. His eyes narrowed as he growled my name. It didn't take Legilimency to feel the malice rolling off him.
"Enough running. Enough hiding," I told him. "It's time to finish this, once and for all."
As we moved into position, I couldn't resist one last Muggle quote: "Hello. My name is Harry Potter. You killed my parents. Prepare to die."