Soul of the Enemy

By Willow Spirit

Disclaimer: I only own the plot. Everything else belongs to the wonderful J. K. Rowling.

A/N: Well, this is finally it. I first came up with the concept for this story two and a half years ago. I've been working on it ever since (talk about life getting in the way!) Now it's finally finished and it feels wonderful. I hope you enjoyed it.

And Merry Christmas to everyone out there. Happy holidays to everyone, whatever you celebrate this time of year. And if you don't celebrate anything, that's cool too. Peace and joy all around, it's all good!

Chapter 30 – Aftermath

Four days after the big day, Hogwarts finally got to have a proper graduation ceremony (many of the non-essential exams had been canceled, much to the pleasure of most of the students.) So on a sunny day in mid-June, all the family and friends gathered together and tried their best to celebrate after such a traumatic event. It was a simple ceremony; it probably would have been a completely bored to tears kind of ceremony too had it not been for the elected student speaker.

Said speaker currently stood at the podium on the stage, looking out over the crowd of students and families. He really, really, hated democracy at this point, but he wasn't going to let anybody down. He knew he had been elected because of his "brilliant" and "amazing" plans that had allowed students to participate in the recent battle. This was the price he had to pay.

"Hello everyone," Ron nervously began his speech. "I…err…well, first of all, I just want to say that I'm not very good at speeches. I do have something prepared but it's probably not very good. So after a lot of thought, I don't think I'll be using that speech today after all."

Ron happened to glance at Harry and Hermione where they sat amongst the other graduates. They both gave him encouraging nods to continue. So that's exactly what he did.

"I don't know why I ever became Head Boy," he admitted honestly, earning a few chuckles from the crowd. "I honestly don't know what the professors were thinking. They must have made the decision at a late night pub session, or something, because I think it's just plain madness. I didn't think I was Head Boy material and I was sure that someone else could have done the job much better than I ever could. It's not surprising, really. Anyone who really knew me knew that I wasn't the fastest broom in the shed. I was just Ron Weasley, youngest son from the Weasley family and I certainly wasn't anything important. My older brothers, they were all talented in their own way, but not me. Not Ron Weasley.

"Then something happened. A certain Dark Lord wanted to come here and pick a fight with us, which, by the way, wasn't such a bright idea. At that point, everything changed here. So many people were afraid of him before but we couldn't afford to be anymore. Something had to be done and we couldn't be afraid. It was one of those moments in your life when you had to make a choice: you could scream and run for cover or you could stand your ground and fight. You had to use your abilities to fight and protect this school that we all love because it's our home away from home. For some of us, it was really our only home.

"So some of us who may have been afraid and quiet before suddenly had to step up and be brave. And sometimes that's exactly what we have to do sometimes. It's so easy just to go through life with your head down. Believe me, I know from experience. You look around at the world and the others around you and sometimes you feel intimidated, especially if you're surrounded by people who are powerful and successful in their own way. So you think to yourself that it's easier to try and be invisible. You don't set your standards high because then no one will expect much from you. Sometimes it's better to have lower standards so that if you fail, you won't have so far to fall and the people around you won't be disappointed in you.

"But I think I've finally learned that that's no way to live. It's not right only being half of what you could be. We're only on this Earth for a little while so why not kick some butt while we're here. I think that some of us proved just how great we can be when we fought against those Death Eaters a few days ago. Sure it was scary, but I think it was bloody brilliant. For the first time in my life I really felt like I was doing something worth while. I'm sure some of you felt the same way too. The strange part is, though, it was all right there in the first place. All we needed was a chance like that to bring it out of us.

"And you can be sure that we made history four days ago. Years down the road people will think back and remember us as the group of students who fought for our school. How many other students can actually say that? We will be remembered for our actions. We will go out there into the real world and we will make a difference. We will be known as the generation of fighters.

"I hope that's what everyone will keep in mind as we end our time here at Hogwarts. And as we get out there and start our new lives, please don't forget your fellow classmates. We spent seven years together. Many of us fought side by side, and it didn't even matter which house you came from. Today as we leave, we leave as Hogwarts graduates, as one united group.

"So never forget what happened here this week and never stop being who you really are. I guess that's all I have to say, so I just want to say thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to all of you."

The applause was so loud and deafening, the people down in Hogsmeade stopped dead in their tracks, wondering if a huge storm was approaching.

-----

Everyone was finally able to catch up with each other later on at the reception. After the required socializing was over, the Weasleys, Harry, Alex and Hermione all gathered together in a secluded corner to have a more private conversation.

"So this is it," Mrs. Weasley said, dabbing a handkerchief at the corners of her eyes. "My little Ron has finally graduated. I'm so proud you, sweetheart."

"That was a magnificent speech, son," Mr. Weasley beamed with pride. "Couldn't have done it better myself." Everyone else agreed heartily.

"I still can't believe it's over," Ron said.

"I know," Hermione sighed. It was both sad and exciting at the same time. "I wonder what's going to happen now."

"Well…" Harry started, glancing at Ron with a knowing look. "If you don't have any other plans…"

"We were kind of thinking that maybe we could all live together," Ron finished. "And once we all find jobs, we can complain about having to work."

"But where…?" Hermione looked back and forth between them with a surprised expression.

"And you're supposed to be the smart one in the group," Harry rolled his eyes.

"We're staying at your place if you still want it," Ron shook his head like it was obvious. "Weren't you the one saying you didn't know if you wanted to give it up? You were the one looking for roommates, don't you remember?"

For once in her life, Hermione Granger couldn't find the right thing to say. Her eyes just filled with tears as she threw herself into the arms of her two best friends in the world. She lingered a bit longer with Ron, taking time to give him an extra hug. "Thank you," she whispered next to her ear. Hermione clearly remembered how worried he had been earlier in the school year about this moment. And until know, Hermione didn't realized that deep down, she was feeling the exact same way. She didn't want to lose them either. They were a team and nothing was going to separate them.

"And speaking of your own place," Mrs. Weasley said secretively. "Your father and I and some of the others have gotten together to get you three a little graduation present."

"Really?" Ron instantly perked up upon hearing the word 'present'. "What is it?"

"Just a little something," Mr. Weasley handed Ron a thin envelope. Ron tore it open and he and Hermione started reading.

"What does it say?" Harry asked.

"They've set up an account for us at Gringotts," Hermione read, her eyes growing wide. "There's enough in it for about three months of house payments!"

"Woah," Alex and Ginny muttered softly under their breath.

"We thought you all could use a helping hand until you land on your feet," Mr. Weasley replied with a huge grin.

"But Mum, Dad," Ron looked at his parents in disbelief. "Where did this come from?"

"Like we said, the others helped," Mrs. Weasley said like it was nothing at all. "Remus, Alastor, Tonks, your brothers, even Dumbledore may have slipped a few Galleons in their behind our backs. Plus your father and I did have a tiny bit saved up, though we were saving it for something very important."

"And I would say this qualifies," Mr. Weasley nodded. "You three deserve it. You do know that your teachers go on about you like you're the best students since our time."

Well that was certainly something they didn't know.

"We can't thank you enough," Harry took his turn reading the bank letter.

"There's no need for thanks," Mr. Weasley said.

"Oh, I just remembered," Mrs. Weasley dug into her pocket and pulled out a miniature set of books. She tapped them with her wand and they grew into three full sized books. "We got you something too, Ginny. We didn't want you feeling left out."

"Thanks Mum," Ginny took the books at examined the covers. "I've never heard of these books."

"A fellow at work recommended them to me," Mr. Weasley said with enthusiasm. "He said that they were written by a famous Muggle author. I think you'll really like them."

"What is it, Gin?" Ron tried to get a better look.

"They're by J.R.R. Tolkien," Ginny said. "Lord of the Rings."

Hermione was just about to open her mouth when it felt like a bombshell hit her from the inside. She stared at the books, then she stared at Ginny, who was casually flipping through them.

They're my mother's favourite books.

I think she got her first copies when she was young, maybe when she was our age.

Hermione felt her jaw drop open. It couldn't be. She glanced at Alex who just stood there with a strange, frozen smile on her face. Their eyes connected for a few brief seconds.

It couldn't be!

But before Hermione could catch anything, Alex looked away like everything was cool. Hermione glanced over to Ginny and then to Harry. Could it happen? If she had learned on thing over the last few years it was anything is possible.

Hermione suddenly had a brilliant idea. "Ginny," Hermione. "You know, my house does have three bedrooms; four if we convert my father's study into a room as well. We could eventually have room for four people in the house. Maybe next year…"

"Seriously?" Ginny's eyes lit up with excitement.

"Of course," Hermione smiled to herself. A little mild manipulation and matchmaking never hurt anyone!

"I'm sorry we don't have anything for you, dear," Mrs. Weasley turned to Alex. "After all, we weren't expecting to have you here with us."

"That's okay," Alex replied graciously. "I got what I came for. Stopping a Dark Lord in his tracks is good enough for me. Speaking of which, I think it may be time for me to be going. I've stayed here long enough as it is."

Everyone reluctantly agreed. Since the reception wasn't over yet, they discreetly let the others know. Everyone quietly slipped out and made their way to the same empty classroom where Alex had finally revealed who she really was. It was almost exactly like that day. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Alex were there, along with Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Remus, Mad-Eye, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

Alex bid the professors and Mad-Eye respectful farewells, while she felt the need to hug Remus and the Weasleys. She then turned to the other four Gryffindors.

"Once again, I'm so sorry for everything that I put you guys through," she said before she hugged each one of them. Alex took a moment to whisper something to each of them, but no one else could hear what she was saying.

The last person Alex came to was Harry. The two stood there for a moment, just staring at each other. What could you say in a moment like this?

"I guess this is good bye," Harry offered lamely.

"I guess so," Alex fidgeted a bit.

"But I'll be seeing you in the future, right?" Harry asked.

"I hope so," Alex almost looked fearful. "85 efficiency, right? Not that I'm worried or anything. I just hope that everyone's alright. I don't really know what I'll find when I get back…if I get back…"

Harry completely understood. He looked her right in the eyes. "Everything will be alright, Alex," he said with conviction. "I promise you."

With a sniff and a laughing sob, Alex launched herself into Harry's arms. "I couldn't have survived here without you," she whispered as she held him tight. "I love you, Dad."

Harry felt his own eyes sting with tears as Alex quickly pulled away. She gave him a brilliant smile as she reached into her pocket and pulled out the matchbox. Alex opened it up and pulled out the last and final match. Striking the match against the side of the box, she gave one final glance to the rest of the group.

"See you later," she said. Then she brought the burning match close to her mouth and whispered her destination to it behind her hand.

She was gone in an instant.

-----

The next day, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were all sitting together in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. They were sitting in silence for the moment, but the others kept glancing anxiously at Harry every few minutes. He had been in a strange mood since yesterday, ever since Alex had left.

"I'm sure she's alright, Harry," Hermione reasoned. "There's no reason why it wouldn't have worked."

"85, Hermione," Harry reminded her. "All I can think about is something going wrong. What if she ended up somewhere else? What if the future turns out to be the same? What if…what if it changes too much and she isn't born at all? What if she no longer exists and we'll never see her again?"

Again, no one said anything for a while. Apparently, everyone else had been having the same thoughts too.

"We'll just have to wait a little while," Hermione said suddenly.

"Yeah, you mean like years," Harry replied impatiently.

"Maybe not…"

"What's that?" Ginny suddenly saw something through the train window. Whatever it was, it was coming directly towards them. The others joined her at the window.

"It looks like an owl," Ron squinted. It finally came close enough for everyone to see that it was indeed an owl, an owl that desperately wanted into their compartment.

"Well, let the poor thing in!" Hermione exclaimed. Ginny reached out and slid the window screen open. The owl soared in and promptly sat itself on Harry's knee. Hedwig gave a resentful hoot from her cage.

"Who's it from?" Ginny asked.

"Don't know," Harry shrugged, removing the letter from the owl's leg. He read the outside of the envelope where his name was clearly written. "Hang on a second. This writing almost looks familiar. But…"

Harry quickly tore open the letter and immediately looked inside. He froze, not moving an inch, as he stared at the contents of the envelope.

"Harry?" Hermione asked carefully when he still didn't move. "What is it?"

Finally Harry reached inside and pulled out a small scrap of parchment. He held it out for the others to see. The note only had four simple letters:

She made it.

Hermione

"That's your handwriting," Ron looked at Hermione in confusion. "And who's 'she'?"

"Alex," Harry said softly as he gazed at the parchment. "It means that Alex made it back alright."

"But how could…?" Ginny began to wonder but Hermione cut her off.

"Yes, it's my handwriting," Hermione confessed. "Before she left, Alex asked me to send you guys a note from the future. If she returned to her normal place in time, I was to send an owl back in time to let us all know if she arrived safely."

"So this owl's from the future?" Harry looked the new owl in the eye.

"Hermione, I can't believe you," Ron shook his head. "When are you going to stop meddling with time travel?"

"But I haven't done anything yet!"

As his friends continued their light-hearted banter, Harry took a moment to glance out the window. Somehow, somewhere in the whole cosmic universe of time and space, Alex was still alive. She hadn't disappeared like he had feared.

Everything was going to be alright. He would meet her again someday soon. And apparently he would also meet the mystery woman who would become Alex's mother. Harry smiled slightly to himself.

Maybe the future wasn't so bleak after all.

-----

A/N: Thanks again so much everyone. Please review.