No Such Thing as Goodbye
There had been no party but to say that Rufus Scrimgeour was eager to do everything in his power to help Harry with his plans was an understatement. In a blink of an eye, Harry had transportation to the States as well as a diversion for the press and public. With the help of the Muggle Prime Minister, Harry would travel by Muggle private jet with a few of the Prime Minister's security guards for his own safety. Apparently, Scrimgeour had informed the Prime Minister of Harry's role in Voldemort's defeat.
Time once again seemed to be playing tricks on Harry. Regardless of the endless questions about his future, Harry had been sad when his final morning at Hogwarts arrived. Each day had been aggravating but he had pushed through it, determined to spend as much time as possible with Remus and his friends. Sirius was still ignoring everyone although Remus did reveal that Narcissa's divorce was in the beginning stages.
Harry didn't know whether to be proud that Sirius was giving his cousin a chance or hurt that he could be so forgiving to a cousin but not to someone he claimed to love as a son. Sirius' behavior was probably what hurt the most. He could handle the wizarding world hating him. They had done that before. He could handle some of his friends angry that he was abandoning him. They would get over it. He was learning to deal with Remus' illness although it would probably never be all right. His godfather's cold shoulder, however, made Harry feel like he was back at the Dursleys and treated like he didn't matter in the slightest.
It made him feel like a disappointment to one of the few people Harry had never wanted to disappoint.
As Harry packed his trunk for the last time, memories seemed to overpower him as each article was carefully placed. He remembered receiving his father's Invisibility Cloak for Christmas his first year at Hogwarts from Professor Dumbledore. It had been the first time that his father had seemed like an actual person that had indeed existed. The existence of his parents had only intensified at the end of his first year with the photo album Hagrid had worked so hard to create. He had his Firebolt, his first present from his godfather, the handheld mirrors that Sirius and his father had created to communicate with each other in detention, the quilt Mrs. Weasley had made with a wolf, dog, stag, and lily embroidered in the center of it, the ring Professor Dumbledore had given him, as well as his Order of Merlin, First Class.
The last item surprisingly brought the most memories. It served as a reminder of all of the struggles and accomplishments that Harry had endured to reach the point he was at now. It served as a reminder of those who had sacrificed so much for him. Like my parents, Sirius, Remus, Professor Dumbledore, Kingsley, Tonks and my friends.
Walking out of Hogwarts, Harry was suddenly struck by waves of disappointment and remorse, forcing him to come to a halt. It was hard to hold back a smile as Harry closed his eyes and tried to assure Hogwarts that this wasn't goodbye. There would always be a part of him here and some day he would return to talk to her again. Hope replaced the disappointment but the remorse remained which was understandable. Harry felt the same way.
The train ride to London was logically completely unnecessary and risky as far as security was concerned but it was needed for everyone. The long ride allowed Harry to actually bid farewell to those that he wouldn't see for some time and gave Sirius and Remus some time to return to Grimmauld Place before Sirius would have to leave in order to avoid Harry.
As much as Harry tried to deny it, Sirius' behavior was really starting to anger him. At first, Sirius' reaction was understandable but now it was just childish. How long could a grown man sulk instead of dealing with what was happening around him? Evidently long enough to waste the time I have left here.
One of the downsides of studying abroad was all of the preparations that needed to be made. An account needed to be set up at the wizarding bank in New York, he had to establish his alias, find a place to live near St. Francis and furnish it, meet with the Board Members to set everything up under his alias, register for classes, and find a way to obtain a passport to even enter the States. It was maddening to even thing about it.
Remus had offered to help as much as he could but it was difficult since they had to do everything as discrete as possible to avoid the press getting wind of it. The Goblins at Gringotts had offered their assistance…at a price. However, Harry was starting to think that the price was worth it. At least it wouldn't be as bad as owing Scrimgeour a favor.
The train slowly came to a stop at Platform 9 ¾ to a sea of bright lights, flashing repeatedly. Harry, Ron and Hermione let out loud groans as they walked out of their compartment to join the long line to disembark. As they slowly moved from window to window, Harry noticed a decrease in the flashes in light and an increase in shoving. The closer he got to an exit, the more Harry realized that people were being forced backwards, allowing a group of familiar cloaked individuals. The flash of purple hair was all it took to confirm Harry's suspicions. Aurors were here but the question was who requested for their presence?
Stepping off the train, Harry quickly found that he didn't care. Cameras flashed as people pushed against the Auror guard to either catch a better glimpse of Harry or collect their own child. With his trunk already shrunken in his pocket, Harry had to fight the urge to Apparate home as he waved goodbye to a group of D.A. members that spotted their parents. He would never hear the end of it if he left before greeting the entire Weasley clan…which happened sooner than Harry expected.
It was nearly impossible to miss the mass of red hair that had been allowed to pass the Aurors. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley immediately gathered Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny in an awkward group hug. Harry gasped and suddenly found himself with a mouth full of hair. Waves of relief mixed with remorse wrapped around him as Mrs. Weasley's quiet sobs reached his ears.
"Mum!" Ron protested as he pulled free, causing Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to release Harry, Hermione and Ginny.
"Oh Ronald, can you blame me?" Mrs. Weasley asked tearfully. "This is the last time we'll see you all together." Her gaze rested on Harry. "When are you leaving, Harry, dear?"
Harry immediately felt a wave of silence pass over the crowd. An annoyed sigh escaped his lips. "Soon," he said evasively. "There are several things that need to be finalized first."
A gentle hand rested on Harry's shoulder, putting an abrupt end to the conversation. "Wotcher everyone," Tonks' cheerful voice seemed to echo in the silence. "I don't mean to interrupt but Harry's expected at home and the crowd doesn't seem too interested on leaving while he's here."
Mrs. Weasley looked like she was about to protest for a moment before pulling Harry into a fierce embrace. "Don't be a stranger, Harry, dear," she said into his ear. "No matter where you go, you'll always be a part of our family."
"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said as he returned the embrace. The rest of the Weasleys joined in on the farewell, each one either shaking Harry's hand or patting his back. Before long, the Weasleys stepped back, allowing Harry, Ron and Hermione some space.
Hermione immediately threw her arms around Harry. "You will tell us when you're leaving, right?" she asked in a wavering voice. "You're not just going to vanish in the middle of the night to avoid saying goodbye because if you do I'll hunt you down and hex you so bad that no one will ever be able to recognize you."
Harry couldn't help smiling. Only Hermione would issue a threat that she could follow through but wouldn't. "I swear," he assured her. "I'll send Hedwig in a few days."
Hermione gave Harry a watery smile before stepping back so Ron could grip Harry's shoulder. No words needed to be said between them…well, it was more of a fact that neither one of them knew what to say, especially with the crowd watching. Besides, this wasn't goodbye, not even in the slightest.
Apparating to Grimmauld Place couldn't come fast enough but once Harry arrived, he wished he had gone someplace else. The house was completely quiet. At first glance, one would think that no one was home but a note from Sirius proved otherwise.
Remus is resting upstairs. He will tell you differently but he needs the rest more than anything. If I'm not back by dinner, wake him up. He needs to eat.
P.S. A package arrived for you from St. Francis. It's on your bed.
If Harry needed any more proof that Sirius was never going to forgive him, he just received it. Sirius had written the letter like he was addressing a student, not his godson. After a solemn goodbye to Tonks, Harry retreated to his room. There on his bed was the square package with a something smaller placed beside it. On closer inspection, Harry realized that the smaller object was actually his passport.
He really can't wait to be rid of me.
Suddenly, leaving for America couldn't come fast enough.
To say the atmosphere at Grimmauld Place was tense would be a bit of an understatement. Harry had given up any hope of reconciling with Sirius, focusing completely on preparing for his departure and spending time with Remus. Sirius was rarely around and, when he was, he locked himself in his room, his study, or Remus' room. It was painful for Harry to even think of the close relationship he used to share with his godfather but he knew he couldn't back down now. He needed this. He needed a fresh start if he was really going to put everything with Voldemort behind him.
Ron and Hermione had visited as often as possible but it was becoming more and more difficult for them to hold their tongues. Both agreed that Sirius was acting like a childish prat who needed, at the very least, a swift kick where the sun didn't shine. It was a little uncomfortable to hear the two of them plot ways to extract revenge even though Harry knew they were just trying to make him feel better. It seemed that after seven years Ron and Hermione finally found something they agreed on, their protectiveness of Harry.
Of course, they still disagreed on nearly everything else, especially when it came to informing Harry on the happenings of other members of the Weasley family. Hermione didn't think Harry needed to know Ginny locked her self in her room after returning from Kings Cross Station, only speaking to Hermione and Mrs. Weasley for nearly three days while Ron just thought Ginny was being 'a silly girl'. The knowing look Hermione shot Harry, however, was all that was needed for Harry to know that it had something to do with him.
Great. Just great. You would think she would get over it and move on. The last thing I need is the Weasleys upset with me too.
Remus, unfortunately, seemed to be caught in the middle of everything. He was the only person Harry knew that was still on speaking terms with Sirius and he was the only person living at Grimmauld Place that would willingly talk to Harry. In the hours they had alone together, Harry had probably learned more about Remus' past than he had ever thought possible. He also learned quite a bit about his mother since Remus had been the Marauder she had related to the most. It was almost refreshing to hear about a different side of Lily Potter.
There was a downside to listening to the stories though. The more time Harry spent with Remus, the more he dreaded leaving him behind. For five years, Remus had been a part of his life, offering the calm and patient point of view that was often the most difficult to see. Remus was proof that you didn't have to be in the spotlight in order to make a difference.
Leaving the house was impossible for Harry unless he was under heavily glammours. It was suicide for Harry to enter any public place now. An interview with Harry was sought after by every magical reporter in the wizarding community to a point that many and stationed themselves in the Muggle world in hope to spot him. The public's obsession with Harry's life story intensified every day and would probably continue until another 'celebrity' was found.
Hermione and Remus had pointed out that it probably wouldn't be long before people started making up their own versions of Harry's adventures to appease the demand but that didn't alter Harry's stand. He knew that whatever some author made up couldn't be any more unbelievable than the truth. He knew what happened as well as those closest to him. That was all that mattered.
Time, once again, seemed to work against Harry. Minutes fell into hours which fell into days. Before he could even blink, the second weekend in July was only hours away and only a sunset and sunrise remained until Harry's departure from his home. Harry had managed to visit The Burrow one more time to thank the family who had given so much and asked for so little in return. It had been hard to say goodbye but not as difficult as it had been to sit down with Ginny and delicately tell her that he only saw her as a sister. It hurt to destroy someone's dreams, especially when you could actually feel their heart breaking.
At least now Ginny would be able to move on.
Sleep eluded Harry on his final night in London which gave him plenty of time to write down the words he knew would never be able to escape his lips to Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Ron and Hermione. In each letter, Harry firmly stated that this wasn't goodbye. He would never do that to his family. He would do everything in his power to stay in contact, especially considering Remus' condition. The last thing he wanted was to receive a surprise firecall, informing him of the worst.
As dawn broke, Harry reluctantly finished packing before shrinking his trunks. The car and protective guard assigned by the Prime Minister would be arriving at Number Two, Grimmauld Place in a little over an hour to take him to the London Gatwick Airport for the insanely long plane ride to the States. The ride wouldn't be too long but he was grateful that Ron and Hermione had offered to ride along even if it was mostly because they wanted to delay the goodbye as much as possible.
The roar of flames from the fireplace snapped Harry out of his thoughts. Turning around, He saw Ron, stumble out of large green flames with Hermione following him with significantly more grace. Harry couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face as they immediately started bickering over Ron's manners or the lack thereof.
"Hermione, its Harry!" Ron pointed out in exasperation. "He won't care if we show up without calling first."
"It doesn't matter who it is, Ronald," Hermione scolded. "It's common courtesy to ask for permission before entering. What if we had interrupted something? What if Harry and Sirius—"
Harry cleared his throat loudly, putting an abrupt end to the conversation. "Wishful thinking, Hermione," he said dryly. "How about you two go outside and wait for the car. I just have to…you know."
Hermione smiled compassionately as she pulled Ron towards the front door. "Take your time, Harry," she said softly. "If you need us, you know where we'll be."
Harry watched them leave before slowly taking the familiar journey up the stairs to the bedrooms. Every step seemed to echo throughout the house although that could have been Harry's imagination for no one seemed to have heard him. Despite Remus' condition, his hearing was still as keen as ever. Of course so was his sense of smell so he probably knew that it was only Harry.
Sirius' room was the first stop. As carefully as possible, Harry opened the door, allowing a stream of light to settle on the sleeping figure in the large four poster bed. Sirius slept like he always slept, on his side with all of his bedcovers pulled tightly around him. It was almost like he could never get warm enough under the cover of darkness. Harry had a feeling that it had something to do with Azkaban but it was just another one of those topics that were never discussed.
Slowly, Harry approached Sirius' bed while pulling the sealed letter with Sirius' name on it. Placing it on Sirius' bedside table, Harry fought to remain as quiet as possible even though he was screaming inside. It wasn't supposed to be like this. He shouldn't have to sneak out of the house like a rebellious teenager. There should have been a proper farewell with a few tears and a lot of pride mixed with understanding. Sirius should have understood that this was really the best for everyone. Sirius should have realized that this was his chance for a normal life.
Letting out a shaky breath, Harry reached out and lightly grasped Sirius' arm. His eyes closed as all of his conflicting feelings for Sirius swirled inside of him like a potion that was being stirred too quickly. The speed intensified until it splashed over, flowing through his arm, out of his hand and into Sirius. As much as he wanted to, Harry couldn't bring himself to feel any anger or hate towards his godfather. Sirius had made a choice, no matter how childish it was. Harry knew he had to accept the choice or he wouldn't be able to move on at all. It was hard to focus on the future when your mind was trapped in the past.
A soft gasp startled Harry out of his thoughts, causing him to release Sirius' arm. Harry didn't breathe as he stared at Sirius, waiting for any sign that Sirius was awake only to listen as Sirius' breath evened out. Letting out a sigh of relief, Harry took a step back, staring at Sirius for what felt like an eternity before turning and walking back towards the door. Before leaving his godfather one last time, Harry hesitated as the internal turmoil returned.
"I hope you find your happiness one day, Sirius," Harry whispered, "and I hope that one day you'll understand why I chose this path. I never meant to hurt you but I just couldn't stay in a place where I'm treated like a piece of meat. Please forgive me, Sirius…and…take care of Remus for me."
With a shaky breath, Harry left Sirius' room for the bedroom next door. Had he stayed a moment longer, he would have heard a labored breath escape the figure on the bed before his shoulders started to shake uncontrollably. Harry, however, never saw, never heard, and never felt anything to counter his belief that Sirius would always be angry with him for abandoning his family for his future.
Entering Remus' room, Harry came to an abrupt halt at the sight of Remus, wide awake; sitting up in bed looking like he was patiently waiting for him like one would a Healer. Remus' gaze immediately turned sympathetic as he motioned for Harry to sit on the edge of the bed. Exhaling slowly, Harry did as instructed, taking the opportunity to take a long look at Remus. There were obvious signs of illness but he looked more relaxed than he ever did at Hogwarts.
"Just give him time, Harry," Remus said softly, his voice slightly hoarse. "He'll come around eventually."
Harry shrugged his shoulders as he felt a hand weakly grip his own. "It doesn't matter," he said matter-of-factly as he sat down. "I'm not going to wait for that time to come. You will let me know if he's causing problems, right? I don't want you paying the price because you didn't take his side."
"I will do nothing of the sort, Harry," Remus said with a stern gaze. "Sirius knows how I feel and he also knows I'm right. We'll be fine. You just worry about yourself for once and use the mirror as often as possible." Remus nodded to the small square mirror on his bedside table. "The other will never be out of my sight. I expect updates on everything."
Harry nodded as his gaze fell to the hand loosely clutching his own. As he tried to find his voice, he was thankful he had written the letters. How could you even begin to thank someone for, never criticizing, never demanding, always offering their support and providing a life that most would die for? How do you possibly even begin to thank someone like Remus Lupin? It just wasn't possible.
"You know, Harry, sometimes words only seem to do an injustice to what is felt inside," Remus offered gently. "I have been trying to think of something profound to tell you ever since you revealed that you were leaving but all I've come up with is 'thank you'."
Harry stared at Remus incredulously. That had been the last thing he had expected to hear. "There's nothing to thank me for," Harry countered. "I'm the one who should be thanking you. If you hadn't taken me in after the Dursleys…well, I don't know where I would be." I'd probably be dead.
Remus smiled compassionately. "I think you give me too much credit, Harry. You were already a remarkable person when I reentered your life. You just needed someone to bring it out of you just like I needed someone to bring me out of the shell I had placed around myself. We helped each other so let's just call it even, all right?"
Harry bit back the urge to argue even though he knew that they were by no means 'even'. He stared at Remus and Remus stared back, his gaze never faltering. Letting out a resigned sigh, Harry pulled out Remus' letter and set it beside the charmed mirror. Remus glanced at the letter curiously for a moment before smiling in an understanding manner. "You will keep me informed on everything here, right?" Harry asked at last.
"If by everything you mean my health then yes, Harry, I will," Remus said with a small nod.
Harry's eyes narrowed slightly. "And you will be completely honest with me?" he asked cautiously.
Remus' smile wavered slightly. "Harry—"
"—no, Remus," Harry interrupted firmly. "If I'm going to leave the country, I need to know you will be completely honest with everything and everyone otherwise I will have Ron and Hermione do it and you know how nosy they can be."
Remus visibly cringed. "All right, Harry," he relented. "You win. I'll be as honest as I can with you but please understand that there may be some matters that I wish to keep to myself. I give you my word that I will contact you if anything serious happens, agreed?"
"Agreed," Harry answered before leaning forward and wrapping his arms around Remus. "Take care of yourself and remember to take your potions, especially the nutrient supplements when you're not feeling well enough to eat."
Remus returned the embrace although it was clear from Remus' shaking arms that it took quite a bit of effort to do so. "Back at you, cub," he said softly. "It's taken us years to fatten you up to a somewhat normal weight. Try not to lose it all in the first few weeks."
Harry couldn't stop the smile from gracing his face as he pulled away. "Always the parent," he said quietly.
Remus returned the grin as he slowly reached up and cupped the side of Harry's face. "Always, my cub," he said as waves of love, pride, happiness mixed with waves of remorse and regret. "If I'm not mistaken, you have several people waiting for you. Go on. You know where I am if you need me."
Reluctantly, Harry bid a final, shaky farewell and left Number 12, Grimmauld Place. Stepping out into the bright morning sunlight, Harry had to shield his eyes in order to see Ron and Hermione waiting beside several tall and stiff looking men dressed in black suits. Behind them was a shiny black car that the Dursleys would have undoubtedly paraded all around Surrey if they had owned it. Harry had obviously never paid attention when he was younger since he had been more interested on when his next meal would be rather than the type of car Vernon had preferred.
The men in suits immediately jumped into action. The shortest of the group hurried into the driver's seat and started up the car. The tallest of the group opened the rear passenger door and ushered Ron and Hermione into the car. The final two approached Harry, rested a hand on his shoulders and walked with him to the car. Harry fought the urge to shrug off their grips with every step. He had to wonder what in the world the Prime Minister had told the bodyguards to make them act like the members of the Order did during the war. He obviously wasn't aware that I can take care of myself.
Stepping into the car, Harry cast a cautious glance at an uncomfortable Ron and Hermione. He opened his mouth to ask what he missed only to be silenced when the two bodyguards climbed into the car and sat across from them, their firm stares never leaving Harry. Waves of resolve and pride circled each bodyguard. They obviously had no idea to who Harry was but they were determined to protect him nonetheless.
"Ready, Mr. Potter?" the driver asked, glancing at Harry in the rearview mirror.
Harry hesitated before nodding. The car pulled out into traffic and silence fell once again. "What's going on here?" he asked at last. "What's with the royalty service?"
The bodyguard sitting directly across from Harry leaned forward, his short dark hair and icy blue eyes giving him the presence of a well trained soldier. "We were instructed to protect you at all costs, Mr. Potter," he said sternly. "The Prime Minister led us to believe that there are some who wish you dead and others who view you as something similar to a rock star. We are here to protect you from both, should the need arise until our replacements arrive."
"Replacements?" Hermione asked immediately before casting Harry a curious glance. Harry shrugged helplessly. "What replacements?"
The bodyguard slowly shifted his gaze to Hermione. "The replacements who will be accompanying Mr. Potter throughout his flight to the States," he answered slowly.
"No," Harry countered instantly. This was really going too far. He had thought that the 'protection' would only last until he stepped on the plane. "I refuse. It's bad enough that the lot of you have to waste your time. I won't have others losing a day of their lives just to babysit me. I can take care of myself."
The bodyguard leaned back against the seat, his gaze returning to Harry. "I'm afraid you have no say in this, Mr. Potter," he said sternly. "This was the agreement made by the Prime Minister, your Minister and your guardian. As you are considered underage by our laws, you have to abide by what your guardian has arranged for you."
Ron and Hermione stared openmouthed as Harry buried his face into his hands. "This is a bloody nightmare," Harry groaned. "I'm going to spend the next twelve hours with a bunch of adults watching every single thing I do."
"You don't think Remus would have…" Hermione began uncomfortably.
"No," Harry muttered angrily as he enfolded his arms across his chest. "Remus would have told me. This has Sirius written all over it. He hasn't spoken a word to me in over a month only to turn around a pull this. I'm tempted to have the car turn around just so I can go home and---"
"—Harry!" Hermione interrupted nervously. "Don't even think it. It really isn't that bad. You're traveling to another country alone. Any parent in their right mind would do the same if they could. Personally, I'm not surprised in the slightest and even a bit relieved. This means that Sirius isn't as angry as we originally thought."
If only it were that easy, Harry thought bitterly. He may have believed Hermione if he hadn't been living with Sirius. There was no denying the anger and frustration that constantly surrounded him every waking moment of the day. The fact that Sirius hadn't even bothered leaving a note warning Harry of the protective guard was all the proof that Harry needed to know that his godfather wouldn't be forgiving him any time soon.
The remainder of the ride was uncomfortably quiet for everyone. Harry could tell that Ron and Hermione wanted to talk but they—like Harry—had no idea what they could or could not say in the presence of the bodyguards. Since they had mentioned 'their Minister', it was safe to conclude that they knew about the existence of the magical world but that didn't mean they knew about everything.
Pulling up to the airport terminal, Harry's stomach twisted nervously. This was it. It was actually happening. It wasn't too late to turn back, right? No one would think any less of him if he changed his mind. He was, after all, only seventeen. There was nothing wrong in waiting a year or two before entering training. He could work at Fred and George's shop or even become Madam Pomfrey's assistant and gain a little more experience.
"Harry?" Hermione asked quietly. "Harry, are you all right?"
Snapping out of his thoughts, Harry noticed that the bodyguards had left the car and were waiting on him to follow. What was wrong with him? Why did he suddenly doubt a decision he had stood firm on for so long? Was it just nerves or was it something else…something bigger?
A hand rested on his shoulder and squeezed it gently. "Harry," Hermione tried again. "Harry, it'll be all right. I promise."
Without even realizing it, Harry found himself out of the car and standing between two bodyguards while Ron and Hermione stepped out of the car. As a group, they entered the terminal and immediately started receiving stares from everyone around them, not because they recognized Harry but because they knew only someone important would need the sort of protection surrounding Harry.
Hermione looked like she was on the verge of exploding as she gripped Harry's arm and pulled him away from the bodyguards. "You lot just stay where you are," she ordered. "We'll just be over here."
Surprisingly, the bodyguards stayed where they were. True to Hermione's word, they didn't go far but they were certainly far enough to hold their own private conversation. Inhaling deeply, Harry took a good look at his best friends who had stood beside him through thick and thin. They had sacrificed so much, asking for nothing in return. Harry honestly didn't know where he would have been without them.
"So," Ron began uncomfortably. "You'll contact us when you have everything set up?"
Harry grinned. "I'll let you know where I am within the next couple of days. Once I set up the floo connection, I'll arrange a time with Remus to get Hedwig. I don't think she'll be able to fly across an ocean so if you need me, use the mirror Remus has. If we run into difficulties we can do something similar to the system Snape used to contact us before—well, you know."
Hermione tapped her chin thoughtfully. "That actually might be the best way. I'll look into it." Her face turned eager as she rubbed her hands together excitedly. "We want to know everything, Harry, all right? No matter how small. Experiencing another culture is really fascinating."
"Hermione," Ron groaned. "He's going to America. How different from us can they really be?"
"Well, for one thing they drive on the wrong side of the street," Hermione answered dryly. "I saw it once on the telly. I honestly can't imagine how they can stand it."
Ron let out a sigh before returning his attention to Harry. "Anyways, I guess there's no use delaying this," he said uncomfortably as he held out his hand. "You take care of yourself, all right, mate?"
Harry immediately grasped it. "You too, mate," he said softly. "You know what, Ron? I'm really glad you sat in my compartment that day on the Hogswarts Express. I can't imagine having anyone else as my best friend."
Ron smiled widely. "Actually, I should be the one thanking you. Over the years you've helped me see that it's okay to just be me and that's saying a lot. I know we've had our ups and downs and I also know that most of them were my fault but you kept giving me another chance. You had faith in me, Harry, and—well—I just want you to know that I won't ever take any of it for granted."
Harry felt his eyes sting as he shakily nodded and, before he knew it, he was pulled into a fierce embrace. He could feel Ron shaking and knew from the colliding waves of emotions that they were both in the same boat. They both felt the entire array of emotions that only brothers could feel because that was what they were. They were brothers in every way that mattered until the day they died.
To Harry's surprise, Ron had only started to pull away when Harry nearly fell over by another body jumping into his arms, hugging him as if their life depending on it while his vision was blocked by a sea of bushy brown hair. Like Ron, Harry could feel Hermione's body shaking as she buried her face into his shoulder. The stinging in his eyes intensified forcing Harry to blink furiously in hope to bash all sign of tears away.
Hermione let out a sniff as she pulled away and looked up at Harry with tears in her eyes. "You know the best day of my life was when you two saved me from that troll," she said with a laugh. "Before that day I never thought I would never have friends least of all someone who always challenged me—" she glanced over at Ron who shrugged helplessly before returning her gaze to Harry—"and someone could show me that it's okay to be a little different."
Harry flinched. Of all the things to be remembered for, that certainly wasn't one of them.
"Oh Harry," Hermione scolded. "Don't think of it that way. Think of all you overcome despite being signaled out for so many things. You never let it go to your head, Harry. You never turned your back on us for better friends."
Harry stared at Hermione horrified. "Hermione, I couldn't have asked for better friends than the two of you," he said hoarsely. Ron and Hermione beamed appreciatively before pulling Harry into a group hug. "You two take care of yourselves and each other, all right?" he asked although his voice was extremely muffled.
"You too, Harry," Hermione said as she stepped back, pulled out a small roll of parchment from her pocket and handed it over. "If you need us, that has my telephone number, my mailing address—at least until I find my own place—as well as floo information for both of us. Don't be afraid to ask for help, Harry. Just because we're a little further away doesn't mean that we can't get to you."
Harry couldn't help grinning as he pulled the final three letters out of his pocket. "I'll remember that," he said good-naturedly as he handed Ron his letter and gave the remaining two to Hermione. "If you could read those later and give Tonks hers…"
Ron pocketed his letter while Hermione clutched both letters as if her life depended on it.
"Mr. Potter," one of the bodyguards said sternly as he stepped forward. "It's time to go."
Harry let out a sigh and nodded. His gaze shifted from Ron to Hermione before Hermione jumped into his arms once again. Ron gave Harry's shoulder a firm squeeze followed by a pat on the back then pulled a reluctant Hermione away. Harry bit back a smile as Ron wrapped an arm around her. At that moment, Harry knew that Ron and Hermione would be all right as long as they had each other. He knew that everything would be all right.
"So, I'll see you two soon?" Harry offered hopefully.
Hermione gave Harry a watery smile as she brushed away a few tears that had fallen. "Before you know it," she said confidently.
"We'll be waiting for your call, mate," Ron added in a strained voice.
Feeling a hand rest on his shoulder, Harry gave a reluctant wave before allowing the bodyguards to steer him away. As the bodyguards surrounded him, Harry kept his gaze lowered to avoid the stares he was undoubtedly getting. He was barely aware of where he was being ushered too. The only thing in his mind was the goodbyes he hadn't said. He hadn't actually said goodbye to anyone in the D.A., the Hogwarts staff, Tonks, or Sirius.
He really wished he would have talked to Sirius.
They came to an abrupt halt as they reached a pair of shaded sliding doors that were surprisingly guarded by a rather large dark skinned man. The grip on Harry's shoulder tightened as the tallest bodyguard stepped forward, pulling some folded papers out of his suit jacket and handing them over to the guard. Nothing was said as the guard unfolded the papers and briefly glanced at the first page before his eyes widened and his hand slammed against the button on the wall, causing the doors to slide open. As the guard hastily moved aside, Harry could only imagine what had been written on those papers. It took an awful lot to frighten someone like that.
Harry's pondering was cut short as he was ushered into a spacious private room containing all of the luxuries one could possibly want for needed to pass some time while waiting for their flight. There were shelves of books, comfortable looking armchairs and sofa couches, a television mounted on the wall, a small refrigerator, small bowls of various snacks arranged along a counter, as well as a desk in the far corner with pens and paper arranged neatly on it.
Harry turned to the nearest bodyguard to ask how long they would be staying only to be hit by sudden waves of aggravation and panic. Stumbling slightly, Harry quickly looked around to find the source of the emotions but saw nothing out of the ordinary. The four bodyguards had positioned themselves around the room as if to protect Harry from any threat that came from any direction although there was really only one way someone could enter the room.
"Are you all right, Mr. Potter?" the shortest bodyguard asked.
Harry nodded distractedly. "Er—is there a bathroom?" he asked awkwardly.
The bodyguard standing against the right wall moved and pushed open a door that easily blended into the dark wood walls. Harry hurried into the dark room only to have it light up the moment he stepped inside. There were four S-bends against one wall and four sinks against the other. Harry immediately moved to the closest sink and turned on the faucet to gather some water in his cupped palms. Rinsing his face, Harry let out a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. The last thing he needed was to lose control in the middle of a muggle airport.
The door clicked shut as Harry rested his hands on the counter and bowed his head. He was torn between wanting to forget about the emotions and wanting to find out who they belonged to. They had been so strong, as if the owner of the emotions had been right behind him…
In a blink of an eye, Harry turned around with his wand in hand, his entire body on alert. He knew that voice. There was no way he would ever forget it. It belonged to the one person Harry wanted to curse into oblivion now that Voldemort was no more.
Snape was here, magically hidden from sight.
Reaching out with his senses, Harry tried to pinpoint where Snape was and, in no time, had the general location narrowed down. As Harry raised his wand, there was a suddenly flicker before Snape came into view as if someone had flipped a light on. Snape looked more ragged than Harry could ever remember seeing him as well as strange due to his traditional black robes being switched out for black muggle clothing.
"Put that away, Potter," Snape hissed quietly. "Casting one spell would alert the entire Ministry—"
"—which wouldn't exactly be a bad thing," Harry interrupted coolly. "Scrimgeour knows I'm here and would likely assume I would only use magic if I were in danger."
Snape sneered. "We had a deal, Potter. I helped you bring down the Dark Lord."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "So now you want your payment like every other rat. I'm leaving shortly, Snape. You've run out of time—"
"—don't you dare try to double cross me—"
"—actually, you're the one that double crossed us," Harry pointed out as he stepped forward, his want pointing at Snape's forehead. "No one else in the Order demanded reimbursement for their hard work."
Snape glowered hatefully at Harry. "No one else was placed in the service of the Dark Lord."
Harry had to suppress a laugh. This was unbelievable. "Placed? You joined Voldemort of your own free will and then turned to Dumbledore because you 'felt guilty for passing on the prophecy' that led to the deaths of my parents, one of them being one of the men you despised more than anyone else in the world. Give me one reason why I shouldn't alert my protection of your presence and allow them to take you away."
Snape was nearly shaking with rage as he pulled out his own wand and pointed it at Harry. "I should have known you would do something like this. Once again you prove how like your father you truly are."
With several flicks of Harry's wand, Snape was bound and hanging upside down with a gag in his mouth. Harry was strongly tempted to just leave him there and let someone else find him. Snape had plenty of opportunities to contact us when we could have done something about it. It's his own fault for waiting until I'm moments away from leaving the country. With a flick of his wrist, the gag in Snape's mouth vanished. "This is your last chance, give me one reason," Harry said at last.
"Or you'll do what?" Snape shot back sarcastically. "Kill me?"
As tempting as that was, Harry didn't want to deal with the mess that killing Snape would bring. The fact that Snape was a helpless outcast was really the best punishment anyone could think up. There was no possibility of redemption and no one left to speak on his behalf mainly because of his own doing. Snape had been a horrible git to everyone, especially to the children who were the future of the wizarding world. The Slytherins he favored would never risk their already tarnished names for him now.
"I don't think I will," Harry said then flicked his wand a few times to return Snape, unbound, back to the floor. "You, Snape, are a classic case of 'reap what you sow'. You spent your teaching years at Hogwarts as nothing more than a bully only to finally realize that no one will go out of their way to help a bully in need when the object of fear is removed. I had offered financing when I had been in a position to grant it. That time has passed." A thoughtful look passed over Harry's face. "However, if you're that desperate, you could contact Sirius and Remus—"
"—I would never contact the mutt and wolf for anything!" Snape hissed.
Harry shrugged helplessly. "Then you're out of luck," he said trying to keep his voice neutral.
There was a knock on the bathroom door. "Mr. Potter?" a muffled voice called out. "It's time to leave."
Snape looked like he was about to explode in rage but both of them knew that Harry was indeed telling the truth. There really was no way Harry could personally go to Gringotts to extract any amount of money and return for his flight. No account could be set up since Snape was still a wanted man and he had no sort of muggle identification. Snape's only chance was contacting Sirius or Remus since they were the only ones to have actually heard the agreement.
Holstering his wand, Harry never took his eyes off Snape as he walked out of the bathroom. He immediately fell into step with the four bodyguards, following their lead to the gate where a rather large airplane awaited them. Harry couldn't stop staring the closer they got. It seemed like such a waste to use something so big to take only one person across an ocean.
"This way, Mr. Potter."
Harry snapped out of his thoughts and followed the two bodyguards led the way through the long, square gate and onto the plane where three uniformed individuals were awaiting them. One, a middle-aged man dressed in a blue suit, white shirt and tie along with an odd looking hat on his graying brown hair, was obviously the pilot. The slightly younger man standing next to him was dressed in a similar fashion nominating him as to co-pilot. The woman standing next to them was dressed in the same colors but in a more casual manner.
"Mr. Potter," the woman said brightly. "Welcome. Please have a seat and make yourself comfortable."
Looking at the interior of the plane, Harry suddenly felt anything but comfortable. Like the private room he had just left, this plane seemed to have nearly everything needed to travel enjoyable. The chairs padded like condensed armchairs in sets of four surrounding tables, there were expensive looking books lined up in a sealed bookcase against the back of the plane, a television in the near corner, cases containing what looked like alcoholic bottles in the far corner, and a desk near the front of the plane.
Slowly, Harry moved to the back of the plane and sat down in one of the comfortable chairs by the window. The chair, if possible, was even more comfortable that what it looked, allowing Harry to easily relax. Suddenly, the lack of sleep and stress seemed to be coming back to haunt him. His eyes started to droop as quiet chatter washed over him. Maybe if I just rest my eyes for a second…
There was a subtle shaking as if one were in a vehicle driving down a very smooth road. Harry shifted in his chair only to feel a comfortable blanket had been placed over him. When did that happen? Frowning, Harry slowly opened his eyes and let out a groan at his clouded vision. Once again he had fallen asleep with his contacts in. Blinking repeatedly, Harry waited for his vision to clear before looking around. One glance out the window alerted Harry that they were flying high in the air with nothing but blue skies and the subtle hint of clouds. This wasn't good. How in the world had he managed to sleep through the plane taking off?
Nervously, Harry pushed off the blanket as he slowly stood, looking for any sign of the replacement bodyguards. His eyes immediately caught on the pillow visible over the head of the chair with its back facing him. There was someone definitely sleeping in the chair which struck Harry as odd. What do you expect? It's a really long flight. They're probably sleeping in shifts.
Harry's gaze shifted towards the front of the plane where he saw the flight attendant talking with someone hidden from view. From the look on the flight attendant's face, it was certainly clear that she was enjoying herself. The other bodyguard was obviously more relaxed than the first shift. Harry had a feeling that the first shift wouldn't have known a good joke if it bit them in the arse.
The flight attendant's laughter cut through the silence like a sharp knife, causing Harry to wince slightly. Coincidentally, she also chose that moment to notice that Harry was indeed awake. "Mr. Potter!" the flight attendant announced happily. "Good afternoon! Would you like something to eat or drink? We have quite a few selections today."
Harry quickly shook his head. Her cheerfulness and excitement were really a bit overwhelming. "Er—no," he said softly. "I—I'm fine. I—"
At that moment all words failed him. Stepping into view beside the flight attendant was a tall man with short black hair and blue, humor filled eyes. Harry stumbled as he stared into those eyes, unable to look away. It was like seeing a ghost. He was dreaming .That had to be it! It was the only explanation! Any moment now he'd wake up and see…well, he wouldn't see…
"If you'd excuse us, Marie," the man said as he stepped forward. "I need to have a word with my godson."
Harry slowly sank into the nearest chair as his eyes closed. Come on, Harry, wake up. You're mind is just playing tricks on you because you want to see him. He's not really there. He's in London, doing whatever he's been doing for the past few weeks.
"Harry," the man who wasn't Sirius said as he sat down beside Harry. "Harry, I know this is a shock but please just listen to me. I'm really sorry for what I've put you through but I knew you would have fought me every step of the way if I told you I was coming with you. You're just as stubborn as I am, especially when you're making a decision for other people."
Harry shook his head stubbornly only to feel Sirius rest a hand on his shoulder.
"Harry, please," the man pleaded. "I know you had us in mind when you made your decision so I had you in mind when I made mine. I don't care how old you are. You will always be my godson. My home is wherever you are. If your future is in the States then mine is too."
Harry slowly opened his eyes and stared at Sirius. He had no idea what to do, say or even think. That theory would have been passable if Harry hadn't been an empath. He had felt Sirius' anger and frustration…all the time. There was no way anyone could be happy about something and feel the exact opposite. Unless the emotions hadn't been directed at you.
A half-smile graced Sirius' face as he reached out and grasped Harry's hand. "I know you have no reason to believe me," he said quietly. "And I know that I have a lot to make up for. Remus pointed that out to me, repeatedly." Sirius nodded his head towards the chair with the pillow poking over the top of it. "I had to trick him with a Sleeping Draught just to get him to shut up about it. He wasn't too happy that I hid everything from him too but I knew that he didn't have it in him to hide what I was doing. He would have told you and then we would be back to arguing over you thinking you're doing what's best for us by leaving us behind."
Words failed to escape Harry's lips although a few hexes, curses and jinxes entered his mind clearly. There was no doubting the waves of anxiousness, hopefulness mixed with a hint of fear circling Sirius now. He couldn't believe Sirius would do something like this. Didn't the man have any idea what his 'rejection' had done to him? It was just too much. Pulling away as if he had been burned, Harry jumped to his feet and moved as far away from Sirius as possible.
"Harry," Sirius begged as he slowly rose to his feet. "Please, I know—"
"—no you don't!" Harry hissed angrily. "You have no idea how much I agonized over leaving because of you! I didn't want to leave the only family I've ever known but I knew if I didn't you would never have the life I knew you deserved. You're a great father, Sirius. You deserve to have your own children and raise them like I should have been raised by Mum and Dad."
"But you are my child too, Harry!" Sirius argued as he cautiously approached. "Ever since James put you in my arms after you were born, you were a part of my family more than my actual family could ever be. I wish you could remember all those times Remus and I babysat you. Your face would light up when you saw me, no matter how bad of a mood you were in. It drove your parents mad."
Harry snorted as he enfolded his arms across his chest and turned away. You didn't treat me like the lowest form of scum on the earth when I was a baby though. A hand on his shoulder forced Harry to turn around and stare at his godfather. He remained still as Sirius gently pulled the legacy pendants out from under Harry's shirt and stared at them.
"Do you remember what these pendants mean, Harry?" Sirius asked softly. Harry remained silent. "When you accepted these, you accepted that you would always have three fathers looking out for you. You accepted that you were indeed my first born son. If anything were to happen to me, you would inherit the title as Black family heir regardless of any other children I could have. Families used to use these in the past to select an heir when their choice wasn't the first born—usually when the first born was a daughter. Don't you see? It doesn't matter what the future may or may not bring. What's important is that we hold on to the family we have now."
Harry felt his eyes sting as he fought to maintain his anger. A part of him seriously wanted to strangle Sirius while another just wanted to go back to the way it was before the madness started. He wanted his godfather back but he just couldn't forget—
"Besides, if this is really just about me finding a nice, pretty witch and settling to pop out a few kids down then there should be no problem with me coming with you," Sirius added with a grin. "After all, who could possibly resist me?"
Harry couldn't help snorting. It was just wrong to hear your godfather talk about creating a family in such a blasé manner. "You're so full of yourself," Harry muttered with a shake of the head.
Sirius' smile faded to a look of confusion. "You're just finding this out now?" he asked in disbelief. "Oh Merlin, we have a lot of work to do."
It was a start and, at the moment, that was enough. Harry knew it would take time to repair the damage done but after all, it was a very long flight. They would figure something out. They always did. For that's what families did and—deep down—Harry knew as he ventured into the next stage of his life, he was glad that his family would be with him every step of the way. It may be not in the same fashion as it was in the past but change was a part of life. It was better to accept it than try to run from it.
Harry chose to accept it with open arms.
Five Years Later.
Time can be a miraculous thing. It can heal wounds, can see changes made for the better and it can certainly change priorities. It can force a generation to look back and see how much damage their decisions had caused just as it can force a younger generation to vow that they would not make the same mistakes as their elders. In the Wizarding World, many changes were made in hope to prevent the destruction of one man's terror from happening again. It was a slow process but no one could expect generations of fear and hate to vanish overnight.
To this day and probably for years to come, children are taught that good can always triumph over evil by use of the story of a brave child and his battles to rid their world of a ferocious Dark Lord. The story of Harry James Potter, the-boy-who-lived-to-become-the-savior-of-the-wizarding-world is already a legend with so many adaptations that few actually know what really happened. From the day Harry left the wizarding world, many have speculated what happened to him since his closest friends refused to comment and his family had vanished. Some suspected that his closest friends were still in contact with Harry Potter but could never find any proof to back the claim up.
At least, that was until the Daily Prophet found him.
It was a warm summer morning with blue skies as far as the eye could see except for the abundance of owls soaring through the air with what appeared to be a newspaper held in their clawed feet like they did every morning. The only difference was that the entire wizarding world would be talking about this issue for days, weeks, months and possibly even years to come. It was the headline that caught everyone's attention. Harry Potter Found! Harry Potter and Sirius Black spotted in New York!
What made everyone's jaws drop, however, was the moving picture underneath the headline. Sitting on a blanket in the middle of what looked like a large park was a laughing Sirius Black with his arm around a rather pretty dark haired woman. In front of them was a small, dark haired toddler who was continuously attempting to stand up and maintain his balance only to fail and fall on his bottom. Sitting across from the couple was a slightly older and more relaxed Harry Potter along with a woman with long hair slightly lighter than Harry's, a kind face and intense, humor filled eyes.
If that wasn't enough of a shock, one had only to glance at the newborn baby Harry Potter was holding in his arms as if it were the most precious thing on the earth. The baby's face was blocked from view but the abundance of messy hair matching Harry Potter's was all the public needed to draw their own conclusions.
Harry Potter was a father.
Many speculated what the names of the children could be and even to whether 'Baby Potter' was male or female but that was really all they could do. One thing was for certain, though. Regardless of everything Harry Potter and Sirius Black had been through, they were finally happy.
And that was what those who still kept in contact with the Potter and Black families already knew. Harry and Sirius finally had everything they had always wanted.
A/N: Based on the reviews I've already received, I think I need to clarify something. The person that was sleeping on the plane was indeed Remus. Remus made the trip to America with Sirius and Harry.
P.S.: There is a one-shot up on my author page called Bedtime Stories. It gives a little more information about what happened in those five years from Harry's point of view.