Epilogue – Infinity In Your Hands
"Father" and son faced each other across the desk in Dumbledore's office. Harry smiled sadly.
"Guess this is goodbye, then."
James just grinned back. "Aww, c'mon Harry. 'Course it's not goodbye. We'll see each other again. You're just going to be very young when we do."
Harry started to mention that although James still had his own future to look forward to, all this had already happened in Harry's past, but then he decided that it simply wasn't worth it. He did not want to remember his last conversation with James as being about the time steam continuum. Instead, he replied, "That's true. But I'm sure it won't be as… interesting… as the last few weeks have been."
"Oh, I'm sure you were a fascinating child… or, will be…"
Fortunately, Harry was spared having to respond to this as Dumbledore knocked softly on the door. "James, are you ready now?"
The door opened, and the elderly wizard's steady blue eyes regarded them for a moment before he said, "Aughtn't you return to class, Harry?"
"Yeah, I suppose." He stuck his hand out to James. "Bye, then."
"I'll be seeing ya."
As Harry walked out, James surreptitiously tucked the folded paper that Harry had passed to him into his pocket.
When the Headmaster turned around again, he had a small vial in his hands. "Do you know how this particular potion came into existence, James?"
He shook his head.
"Its developer was researching the butterfly effect. Change one action, however small, how many different outcomes can you make? That's why the time and place you wind up in is so difficult to control."
"Like Floo powder."
"Yes, but infinitely more complicated." He handed James the vial. "Do not miss your grate, James."
The boy nodded in what he hoped was a wise and serious manner. "I'll do my best, professor."
"That's all we've ever asked, James."
Silently, Dumbledore drew his wand and walked over to the fireplace. James followed, considering his possibilities…
But of course, this was why Dumbledore was performing the actual intricacies of the spell. Infinity in the hands of James Potter was never a good idea.
Harry did not return to class; McGonagall would understand. Instead, he walked back to his dorm room and took his photo album from the beside table. One by one, he flipped through the pictures, and finally stopped to stare at the blank page halfway through the book.
It had been his idea, but he still wondered if he'd done the right thing by giving it to James.
James fell out of the fireplace in Dumbledore's office with a soft thud. He stood up to brush himself off, and found himself facing a very confused McGonagall and a slightly perplexed-looking Headmaster.
"Mr. Potter, where are you coming from? Floo travel is forbidden within the school," McGonagall asked sharply.
"Wasn't using Floo powder, ma'am."
Dumbledore fixed James with a steady expression. "Then how, may I ask, did you come to find yourself falling out of my fireplace?"
James screwed his face up in thought. "Forgot the name of the stuff already. But it's not Floo powder. It sent me forward in time."
McGonagall opened her mouth to reprimand him for lying, but Dumbledore spoke first. "Alright, James. Explain."
The dark haired boy brushed the last of the soot off of his clothes, took a deep breath, and began.
"Has he gone then?" Ron asked.
Harry thought the answer was rather obvious, given that the extra bed had disappeared from the dorm room, but he nodded anyway.
Ron looked uncomfortable. "And are you… alright?"
"Ron, when have I ever been 'alright?'"
He flipped away from the blank page. On the one hand, he hoped he hadn't screwed anything up too badly. On the other, nothing really seemed to have changed, so he didn't seem to have destroyed the time stream. At least that was a plus.
"Listen, Hermione was thinking that maybe we could go for a walk outside before class starts again. You wanna come?"
Finally, Harry looked up. "No tricks to make me talk about this, right? Just a nice, normal walk?"
Ron grinned and put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Harry, when have we ever been normal?"
"Professor, you've got to believe me. Why would I make something like this up?"
"We aren't accusing you of lying, James--"
"But you don't believe me."
Dumbledore and McGonagall exchanged a glance before returning their gaze to the skinny, black-haired boy standing in front of them. The headmaster sighed, his mind sweeping over the possibilities, none of which were very plausible.
"Alright James, why don't you tell us again what happened."
James opened his mouth, thought for a second, closed it, and started to dig into his pockets. "I told you the truth the first time," he said, pulling out the crumpled photograph. "And this'll prove it."
He handed it to Professor McGonagall, who gasped slightly as she looked it over. The older James in the picture waved back merrily as she handed it to Dumbledore.
"Very well," the headmaster replied. "I believe you."
James grinned triumphantly.
"But I'm afraid I'm going to have to keep this, James."
"You know your future. But you must be the only one to know." He gave James a rather knowing smile. "I'm afraid I can't risk you showing this to certain others."
James mentally cursed. He knew Dumbledore was referring to Lily. So much for that plan…
As if on cue, the doors opened loudly, admitting a breathless Lily Evans. "Professor, I'm so sorry, I really didn't mean for anything to go wrong, but I talked James into performing a spell for me, and now he's – " She stopped as she took in the scene in front of her. James smirked.
"Standing here…" she finished. "James, what happened?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Enough." Professor McGonagall had regained her voice. "It's well after curfew, you should both be back in the dorms. Go."
They left before she could remember to take points from Gryffindor.
"So really, James," Lily asked as they neared the portrait, "what happened that I wouldn't believe?"
James paused, choosing his words. "If I told you that we were going to grow up, marry each other, and have a little boy named Harry with my hair and your eyes, what would you say?"
Lily quirked an eyebrow at him. "I'd tell you that you were crazy."
They'd reached the portrait. James gave the password, then stepped to the side and gave a little mock-bow as Lily climbed through into the common room. He felt a grin creep over his face as he heard her mutter something to the effect of, "Harry's such a silly name. You'd have to be crazy to pick that."
His grin only became larger. She believes me, he thought happily. The future's safe.