Chapter 14: Farewell, For Now
Predictably, Harry avoided James and Lily over the next few days and when he did talk to them, he was always with at least one other person. So, they never got the chance to question him about his outburst. Other than that, none of the three showed any signs that anything had changed, except James, who seemed to finally be managing his grief.
The whole school knew of the Death Eater attack and Voldemort's appearance, though the purpose of the attack and the events leading to the retreat were kept quiet. The "Potter posse" knew the truth, though. Everyone treated Harry with awe, which made him scowl...which made everyone else grin as if enjoying a private joke. People stopped treating James delicately, too, which he was grateful for. Somehow, being treated like he would have broken down any minute had made him more likely to do it.
Eventually, James and Lily decided to throw caution to the winds and dragged Harry from his conversation with Ron to an empty classroom – imagine that.
"Harry, will you talk to us, please?" Lily pleaded.
"No. Just forget you heard that."
"Oh, yeah, that will be easy to forget," said James, his voice thick with sarcasm. "Just talk to us."
"There's nothing to talk about."
"Of course there is!" cried Lily, tears beginning to leak out of her eyes. "Oh, Harry, how can you possibly keep this to yourself any longer?"
Harry turned his back on them. "I have to," he mumbled and James swore he heard a sob.
"This is about changing time, isn't it?" Lily said with an alarmingly motherly briskness, as if she had caught Harry with a guilty secret. "You don't want to change the future." Harry nodded.
"Why not?" James asked, incredulous.
"Because I don't know that the future would be better."
"Of course it would be better," said James gently. "You said it yourself: Leave defeating Voldemort to 'the Chosen One.' We will be alive, Voldemort will be dead, how is that not better?" He tried to put a hand on Harry's shoulder, but Harry shrugged it off.
Lily gasped as realization hit her. "You're 'the Chosen One,'" she whispered, her eyes flicking up to his scar.
Laughing bitterly, Harry said, "Yeah, I'm 'the Chosen One,'" – he spat the title – "but not because of some damn prophecy. Voldemort may have been acting on the prophecy, but he's the one who chose me. ...It's an Oedipus Rex thing."
"What?" asked James.
"By trying to prevent it, Voldemort made it true," Lily quietly answered.
Harry nodded miserably and sank into a chair. With a great effort, he looked up at James. "You lost your parents when you were seventeen. I lost mine when I was one, all because Voldemort was trying to fulfill some bloody prophecy. I'm your son. If you want vengeance so badly...imagine how much I want it."
James didn't know what to say. Everything that had happened while Harry was here suddenly took on new meaning. And Lis...with a jolt, he realized that the same thing had happened to Lis. Was their family destined to suffer?
Not able to stand it any longer, Lily gathered her son in her arms, determined to let him cry on her shoulder at least once in his lifetime.
NEWTs had passed, so had the graduation ceremony, and the end of the term was approaching. Dumbledore promised the time travelers that the records of their exams would carry through the years. All that was left was to find a way home.
"No offense to you guys," Ron said, "but I would like to get back to our time. I wonder if Dumbledore has a spell yet."
Lis smiled slyly. "We told him not to worry about that."
"Relax," Ronan said. "We have the spell and the Room of Requirement can give us all the ingredients."
So they enjoyed their last days together, not worrying about what would come with the end of the year. They just enjoyed each others' presence. Finally, the day came to say goodbye.
Lis approached Harry with a slip of parchment in her hands. "Not long until your eighteenth birthday," she chuckled.
"No, it isn't," Harry said, looking a tad worried. With a rush of pride, James remembered everything Lis had said about 'the Chosen One.'
"That's why Aunt Hermione wanted me to give you this." She gave Harry the parchment. "It should speed things up. Detailed instructions and everything."
Harry read the paper, his mouth spreading slowly into a grin. "This is perfect!" He seized Hermione unexpectedly and kissed her on the cheek. This annoyed Ron a bit, until Harry showed them the paper and they became just as excited as him.
Sirius looked at James questioningly, who shrugged. "Future stuff."
Soon, it was time for the Marauders to leave; they still had to catch the Hogwarts Express after all.
"I guess this is it," Harry said lamely.
"Farewell, for now," Lis amended. "I'm sure we'll meet again, whether it be in this life or the next."
"And remember, the ones who love us never really leave us," Harry finished.
Sirius laughed. "That's good. Definitely not something James would say, though. Who told you that? I want to thank them."
"Oh... Well, thank me, then."
That sent everyone into a round of chuckles. It was a wonder that the Marauders got out of there at all. But, all too soon, Lily and James found themselves outside, staring back at Hogwarts one last time.
"Do you think Hogwarts will always be the same?" Lily asked.
"Of course," James replied. A train whistle sounded. "Come on. The rest of our lives are ahead of us. Let's make the most of them." He held up his mother's ring, their engagement ring. Lily didn't know where he'd gotten it, nor did she care. She just slipped it on and took James' hand.
Together, they went to face their destiny, their heads held high.