Author's Note: Holy cow! This chapter was impossible to write. I am still not happy with it but as I've written it three times already I think this will is the best it will ever be. It's the longest its ever taken me to write a chapter. This is the end… the story is over. I may write a spin-off one shot later or not. I hope you won't be too terribly disappointed. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 15: Starting Anew
The cheer started with the aurors and soon spread to the others in the castle… The Dark Lord was dead! Despite the best efforts of the aurors in the castle the news traveled quickly and reporters soon swarmed the school trying to gain entry to the castle.
Harry was mentally exhausted, he had finally fulfilled his destiny and he was tired. Hermione and his friends quickly hid him from the masses attempting to see their hero. They retreated back to the Chamber as it was the most protected area of the castle. The four friends just sat quietly reading, letting Harry come to terms with what just happened. They knew he was not ready to talk about it yet.
Harry appreciated the silence his friends were giving him. His head was a jumble of emotions as he tried to process what had just happened. One minute he had been presenting his findings on Slytherin and the next he was trapped next to battling psychopaths and was finally able to fulfill the hard parts of the prophesy. He still wondered about the lines that said he would lead the wizarding world into a new era. He hoped that meant his defeat would lift the shadows of war the people were under but was afraid he would once again have to enter the spotlight and point out the wizarding world sheep just how backwards they were.
"Harry, should we ask the elves to send dinner down here?" Hermione asked cautiously as none of the friends knew what type of mood he was in.
"No, I think it's time to face the crowd and let everyone know he really is dead and is not coming back this time. I'm sure the Great Hall is swarming with reporters by now, may as well get it over with." He told them with a sigh as he stood to make his way up to his adoring public, he just hoped he would actually get the chance to eat something.
The Great Hall was rowdy and packed with students, reporters and the academics from the Symposium. The moment Harry and friends entered the room went completely silent for a few moments before breaking out in ear shattering cheers. Harry made his way to the front and stood behind the very podium that had protected him from the fight between the two old men. As he took a moment to compose his thoughts he ran his fingers over a burn mark on the wood, proof that a battle had taken place there a few hours ago.
"As I told some of you earlier today, the so called Dark Lord Voldemort's real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle. Tom was the child of Merope Guant, younger sister of Morfin Guant who was the last confirmed Heir of the Slytherin line. Merope had very limited magical ability; her own father despised her as he though she was a squib. When her father and brother were arrested for crimes against muggles and resisting arrest, she was finally free to go after the only man she had ever desired. Tom Riddle was the local squire's son and very handsome but never gave plain and poor Merope a second glance, then one day he ran off and eloped with Merope. A few months later he returned, alone and saying he had been hoodwinked. Merope we assume used a love potion to ensnare him and then convinced herself he really loved her and stopped giving him the potion. What Tom Riddle either never knew or didn't care was that Merope was with child when he left her. Merope struggled through the end of her pregnancy alone, somehow making it to London and the safety of an orphanage. She lived long enough to give birth to her son who she named Tom after his father, Marvolo after her father and then gave him his father's name of Riddle." Harry paused here to see the reaction of the crowd to his story so far.
"Young Tom grew up in that very same muggle orphanage as no one named Riddle ever came to claim him. He was a strange boy, according to the records, and we must all realize that his accidental magic would not be understood by the muggle caretakers at the orphanage. By a young age Tom had realized he was different, had realized he could 'do things' and make other children obey him. He already had established a pattern of taking revenge on anyone that crossed him before he had ever heard of Hogwarts or been told that he was a wizard."
"Albus Dumbledore knew that young Tom was heading down the wrong path and rather than do anything about it, he ignored it. Dumbledore thought Tom was the last descendent of Slytherin, or the Heir of Slytherin, and I assume thought he would make a good rival. Albus loved the idea of taking out another Dark Lord to cement his position as the 'Greatest Wizard of the Age.' He knew that Tom was a parselmouth and knew about the basilisk in the Chamber when it was first opened when Tom was in school. The two of them have been fighting since Tom was a first year but Albus could not defeat him. Why you may ask? Well because it was fated that another would defeat them both. In the summer of 1979 Albus was interviewing a potential candidate for the vacant Divination post. He was ready to dismiss her as a total fraud when she went rigid, her eyes blank and began speaking in a rough voice. She gave a prophesy that has ruled my life until this very day. It went like this."
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies... He will be betrayed by those who should have protected him, and the light will rally behind him… Revered yet not feared, he will lead the wizarding world into a new era.
The one with the power to vanquish the Light Lord approaches… Born to those who will die to protect him, born as the seventh month dies… And the Light Lord will use him for his own ends, but he will be stronger than the Light Lord knows… And in his strength he will overcome and then expose the Light Lord's manipulations… The one with the power to vanquish the Light Lord will be born as the seventh month dies… He will be accepted by those who once despised him, and the dark will follow his lead… Revered yet not feared, he will lead the wizarding world into a new era.
The room was left silent and wide eyed as Harry revealed to all the contents of the prophesy. "Albus determined that two families would fit the profile that were in his Order of the Phoenix. Both Lily and James Potter and Alice and Frank Longbottom had openly defied Voldemort and his death eaters before and lived to tell the tale. At the time of the prophesy, they had each only defied him three times so he kept a careful watch waiting to see which ones would defy him again and then announce they were having a child. He did not have to wait long as on Halloween the Potters and Longbottoms were celebrating together in Diagon Alley when Riddle attacked. They led the resistance against him and caused his forces to retreat, thus defying him for a third time each. Shortly after both Lily and Alice found out they were pregnant and due at the end of July or early August. Albus knew whichever couple had a boy, that child would be the chosen one. He figured that if they were both boys, then whichever one was born closest to the end of the month would be the one. My good friend and god-brother Neville Franklin Longbottom was born exactly 7 minutes before me. As luck would have it, he was born at 11:58 pm on July 30th while I was born at 12:05 am on July 31st. I still maintain that those were the luckiest 7 minutes of Neville's life!" He told them, only getting a chuckle from his friends and a smile from a few others.
"Now most of you know what happened the night my parents were taken from me and shortly after when Neville's parents were taken from him in an even worse way. The intervening years were hard on both of us. I was told part of the prophesy at the end of my 5th year. Dumbledore told me the part where I would have the power to destroy Voldemort; he told me less than an hour after I watched my god-father die. I found out the truth about my life shortly after that and began my quest to fulfill the real prophesy. It was not until after Christmas and the discovery of the Founder's Library that I found something that could qualify as the 'power he knows not.' I discovered the lost art of Parsel Magic. I wasn't sure it would be enough until I found a spell in the last of Salazar's journals where he talked about a spell he tried to use it in revenge of his wife but was unable. The spell roughly translated to "Judgment by the Innocent" and would cause anyone hit with the spell to relive any curse or wounds they have inflicted on an innocent. I wasn't sure it would work as the person who it is cast at must be truly evil and the person casting it has had to have their innocence stripped away by that person. I figured it was poetic justice to use it against Voldemort who assumed he was the Heir of Slytherin." Harry then went on to describe the fight between Dumbles and Voldie and how he took out the most feared Dark Lord in history. "Tom Marvolo Riddle is no more. I hit him with a soul binding curse before he died. He will never return to haunt this world again. He and Dumbledore have both moved on to the next great adventure and I truly hope that wherever their souls went that my parents, my god-father, my friend Cedric Diggory and all the hundreds more lost to those two maniacs are now at peace as they are finally avenged. May we never forget the sacrifices that so many made that we may live now in a better world. May we never allow bitterness to fester in our hearts or prejudice to cloud our judgment. I hope for a world that I will be proud to be a part of, where one day my children will not have to worry about terrorists like the Death Eaters, where a muggle-born witch can become Minister of Magic or Headmistress of Hogwarts, where it's our abilities that we are judged upon and not our blood. I hope that you all will join me in creating lasting peace in our world." Harry finished as walked to the Gryffindor table to sit down and eat his dinner. He ignored the shouts of praise and the cheering and tucked into his dinner surrounded by his closest friends and for once content with knowing that every eye in the hall was upon him.
The school year was finished and with no Dumbledore to force him to Privet Drive Harry and Hermione apparated straight from King's Cross to Black Manor. Neville and Luna would be arriving soon as they were staying with Harry for most of the summer. Remus was already there and had picked up Dudley from Smeltings the week earlier. As Dudley was considered a squib, he was now considered of age in the Wizarding world as he had turned 17 in February. Dudley had been studying non-stop since he arrived and Remus was beginning to tutor him in some of the more obviously magical subjects like Potions, Herbologry, Divination and Care of Magical Creatures. He and Hermione had tutors lined up for the summer to teach them Gobbledygook and Elvish so they could get a start on their Non-Human language OWL and were still trying to decide if they would attempt a NEWT later.
Dudley was going to sit for a few of his OWLs over the summer. His tutors told him he was ready for the triple As: Ancient Runes (it seemed it ran in the family to understand them so easily), Arithmacy (muggle math really helped) and Astronomy. He would also take the OWL in Fine Arts focusing on Singing, musical composition and pottery. He was also learning the piano and would add either sculpture or photography to get his NEWT. He was going to attempt his OWL in Magical Craftsmanship as well with a focus on jewelry design and stained glass. He had taken a workshop at Smeltings on metallurgy as well as glasswork but was not confidant enough in them yet, but they would be what he would add to get his NEWT. Remus was going to give him mock exams in History of Magic to see if he was ready for that exam as well. Hermione had looked further into the testing requirements and found that Dudley could take 17 of the OWL exams since he found he could fly they added the Flying exam to the list. He would only be able to sit 12 NEWT exams since Runes, Arithmancy, Herbologry, Potions and Flying required magic for the NEWT. Arithmancy NEWT exams cover the basics of spell creation, Runes covers runic shielding and rune casting, Herbologry and Potions require specific spells on the plants/potions and Flying requires charming of brooms and equipment. With 17 exams he could take he wanted to space them out and was excited that he was ready to pass at least 5 maybe 6 after just a year of study. He knew if he passed all 6 he would be tied with many of the current Hogwarts students and also knew by the time he was done with all 17 OWLs and 12 NEWTs he would have passed more exams than most of the fully magical members of their world.
Neville would be staying with Harry for the summer to escape his grandmother. He was using the excuse of Harry's greenhouses and gardens to get her to agree. He loved and missed his parents but his grandmother seemed to think they needed to visit them for hours each day in the hospital, it was depressing watching them just lay there. He was proud of them for standing up the Death Eaters and desperately wished they would wake up but didn't think they would want him wasting away at their bedsides. His Occlumency training had unlocked some of his very early memories and he remembered that awful night. What he hadn't told anyone is that his mother protected him using her own body for a shield. She wrapped herself around him and even under the excruciating pain of the torture curse she never let him go. It was this that kept him from being cursed as well. No one year old would be able to survive even a few seconds of Crucio pain. His mother may not be remembered for her sacrifice like Lily Potter, but she gave up her life for her son as well. Harry got it right when he told the press that Neville's parents were taken from him in an even worse way. It would have been much easier on his family if his parents had been killed rather than permanently incapacitated. He thought it was so unfair that they were trapped in a less than half-life here when they could be happier in the next world.
The Wizarding world was still in shock from the defeat of its biggest tyrant. They didn't know how exactly to move on from there and were clamoring for Harry's advice on a daily basis. He was their ultimate hero and could do no wrong in the eyes of many. They didn't understand why he wanted a quiet summer or even why he was planning on finishing Hogwarts. Many had suggested that he immediately be made Minister of Magic, others wanted him to take over as head of the Wizengammot. He did agree to join the Hogwarts Board of Governors' once he finished school and promised to take up his seats in the Wizengammot when he came of age but flatly refused everything else. Slowly but surely the wizarding people would begin to think for themselves again. It would be a long road but they had nowhere to go but up and they would succeed, Harry would make sure of it.
The summer flew by for the teens. All 5 friends attended a session at The Farm. Luna attending the Announcer camp, Hermione a Beginner Flyers camp, Neville and Dudley went to the regular camp to improve their flying as a chaser and beater and of course Harry joined him as the team's seeker. Dudley started his idea of opening a funky t-shirt shop in the wizarding world by designing a few to be sold at the Farm gift shop, they were a big hit. The Farm was fully staffed and all the new additions had been finished. Attendance at the summer camps was at an all-time high with the lower fees and Pro team attendance was up over 50% and looked like it would continue to rise. Overall Harry did an amazing job of getting it back to its former glory and was now looking into some of the other business he had interests in or owned outright. He figured if he had that much success at The Farm he would try it elsewhere. He had put off joining the English National team so he could still play at Hogwarts for his final year but he got lots of advice from the Farm pro players on how to stay in top form.
When school began again for the gang's 7th and final year at Hogwarts Harry was both excited at sad. It would be his last year as a student at his favorite place on earth, but he would always be Hogwart's heir so he would always be welcome. He was excited as it was his first every school year that would be both Dumbledore and Voldemort free and he was thinking that maybe, just maybe he might be able to be normal this year. He was hoping to play Quidditch, do well in school, have fun with his friends and maybe even get a girlfriend. It was the start of the rest of his life and he was feeling free to be himself. He was sure everything would work out fine in the future and if not he had his friends and family and they could do anything if they worked together.
The End… or the start of rest of their lives.
Author's note: I am going to take a break from writing for a while. I have two different stories started but they are both 'stuck' so I'm going to finish them before I try and post them so I don't get into the place where writer's block causes months between updates. Thanks for all your support. Check out my favorites or my bio for a list of other stories to read!