"Miss Potter you will sit down this instant!"

I so disliked yelling at the students, but the youngest of the Potter-Weasley clan was quite the handful. Born into wealth, privilege and status, her life displayed on the pages of Teen Witch and her birth front-page news in The Daily Prophet, Lilly Potter was well deserving of a name to which no educator enjoys resorting: 'Spoiled Brat'. At this moment, she had taken time during her Transfiguration class to turn an ordinary handkerchief into a full-sized house-elf structure presenting me with the palm-back V sign. Rather than uniform shoes she wore canvas high-top basketball shoes, and her "school tie" was a tie-died amalgam of every color she could find, save scarlet and gold, yellow and black, blue and bronze or green and silver. Harry and Ginny Potter had been called in on her behalf numerous times. She had played her final card, and as Head of Gryffindor House, Lily Potter's house, the unpleasant duty of snapping her wand and expelling the young witch would fall to me. Had she not strutted out of my Transfigurations classroom already, I would have arranged a nighttime meeting with her to handle the final paperwork, and have her escorted out of the castle accompanied by Aurors.

I've had to do this a time or two before, and it's never been pleasant. But these circumstances were different. Certainly, the entire faculty was in agreement that Miss Potter was on her way out the door. Certainly she was not Hogwarts material, and were I to execute my plan and snap her wand, there would not be word one raised against it, especially not from her parents Harry and Ginny. But each time I've expelled a child – and lest we forget, they are all children – the offenses have been dire. Unforgivable Curses. Cheating on NEWTs or OWLs to murder. Lily had done none of these. Her crime was that of being a grade-A spoiled brat, and it seemed a waste of a bright witch to have her expelled. Her brothers, James and Albus, were no trouble whatsoever during their time – at least no more than could be expected of the children of Potters and Weasleys. And Lily had started out well. She was nearly as bright as her mother first and second year (not that her mother had much of a first year, mind you), but by fourth year she had developed an attitude that she wouldn't shake. She was the youngest of Molly and Arthur Weasley's myriad grandchildren, and for the last twelve years, Hogwarts was practically the Burrow's northern outpost. Her remarkable intelligence, coupled by a deep-seated boredom of everything Hogwarts-related, and an oversized sense of entitlement that came from being the youngest child of The Boy Who Lived Ever-So-Many-Times had her in a spot emotionally in which she simply could not live another moment in the context of being Lily Potter. The girl needed something I could not give her. She needed Albus Dumbledore. Furthermore, so did I.

I borrowed the Headmaster's office from Professor Flitwick for the evening, explaining that it had to do with Miss Potter's imminent dismissal from Hogwarts, and he assented without question. Ten years earlier I had given up that office for my health – a witch of my years simply couldn't keep up with the political, professional and emotional demands of being Hogwarts Headmistress. As I walked into the office, Albus seemed to be expecting me.

"Good evening, Minerva. I have heard that it is a very sad occasion that brings you here tonight."

"Yes, Albus. But I am so at a loss. The only student I've seen under more emotional stress during his or her time at Hogwarts than Lily was her father, but…"

"Minerva, as Lily will undoubtedly be the first to tell you, we can't all be Harry Potter."

"Certainly, Albus. But if you had seen the boy after the Second War, how he handled himself." And I relayed to Albus's portrait the story of Harry Potter's eighth year at Hogwarts.

It had taken some convincing on my part to get Mr. Potter, Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley to return for their belated seventh year. Right. Well, Ms. Granger would most likely study the theory of wand movement, along with a class on calculating the vectors required for maximum spell efficiency if given the chance, so I was not worried about her. Having been blessed to have the trio in my house for six of the last seven years, I had considered using the tack of approaching Hermione and having her convince "Her Boys" – as she liked to call Harry and Ron, but then thought better. Does the man who saved the wizarding world really deserve to be manipulated thusly? No, certainly more tact would be required. I decided to approach the youths as I would any other.

About a week after the last of the funerals, I owled Molly Weasley at the Burrow to let her know I'd like to drop by. She was – as is her nature – gracious as ever, but I kept my meeting with Ron, Hermione and Harry short and to the point. The Burrow was eerily quiet, and the vibrant energy with which I had come to associate Arthur and Molly's home was missing, and their sitting room felt rather like the Gryffindor common room the day after the students have left for the summer.

"To say that Hogwarts would be honored by your presence would, of course, be a gross understatement …"

It is my job to know how to speak to children. But what does one say to three young people who have, quite literally, saved the world?

"Head Boy and Girl would be yours for the asking, or yours to refuse. Head Boy could go to both Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley, or neither, if you'd rather simply be left alone. Hogwarts can offer you as many or as few privileges as you would like … "

After defeating Voldemort, I couldn't help but feel that the title "Head Boy" or "Prefect" would sound a bit hollow in Harry's ears. I continued on with my presentation in this vein for a little longer before noticing the glassy-eyed expression on Harry's face. Blast it all, I was lecturing! To imagine that Harry would care one way or another about any "opportunities" Hogwarts could offer him was sheer hubris. This tack was simply not working, and I knew I needed to come clean on my motives for wanting Harry at Hogwarts.

"Mr. – Harry, please allow me to speak plainly with you." Perhaps the shock of hearing Hogwarts' Headmistress address him by his first name was enough to shake him out of his stupor. "Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger are going to do just as they like. I fully expect Miss Granger has been leaning toward continuing her education for the sheer joy of learning, am I correct in assuming this?" Hermione nodded. "Mr. Weasley will no doubt wish to follow, if simply because Miss Granger is there," All three chuckled at this, and it was good to see Ron lose a bit of his natural shyness around the subject of his dear Hermione. "You, however, have no pressing reason to continue on. You have, whether you like it or not, the wizarding world at your feet. Any career you should wish to have – and I dare say this includes that of Auror – would be offered you simply by your asking, NEWTs or no NEWTs. You have the financial wherewithal to relocate to Hogsmeade to be near Miss Weasley during her seventh year, and your innate knowledge of many aspects of magic rival even Albus Dumbledore's. Do you know why so many of us who truly love you wish to see you return for your seventh year?"

"No, Professor. I honestly haven't figured that out." He replied.

"Because, Harry, this is your time. A tremendous burden was thrust on you seventeen years ago. You didn't ask for it, and for most of your life, you didn't know it was there. Your life since re-entering the magical world has been response after response to a series of demands placed upon you by those who had their interests at heart, by those who wanted you to follow in their footsteps, fight their battles, be their 'boy who lived'. Somewhere inside you knew this, and yet you fulfilled everything asked of you with a grace and dignity that put most people three times your age to shame. But even deeper inside, you searched for normalcy. Having escaped your horrid aunt and uncle, you wanted a life you could enjoy, and those of us who love Harry, not some 'boy who lived', watched you delay that year after year. Harry, I should have been taking house points from you all these years for kissing young witches in deserted classrooms, not for running off at odd hours of the night to fight Death Eaters. Your adventures should have played out on the Quidditch pitch rather than the battlefield. But you needed to do what you felt was right, and the world is indebted to you for that. Now it's time the world repay you for your youth."

Harry could not hide his tears, which pooled gently at his emerald eyes and rolled nonchalantly down his face. The sight of this brave young man whom I had watched grow with awe crying broke my heart in two. I wanted to hold him to me – this orphan child had felt so much like my son for seven years – but I saw that his Ginny had already done this.

"Harry. There is one more thing you must consider, and that is your fame. I may be able to promise that there will be no prophesies linking your fate with that of any dark wizards, but I will not be able to keep people from seeing you as their savior. There may be press at the Hogwarts Express. There may be students – and even some parents – who will ask for an autograph or some other imposition on your time. I have no doubt that there will be those classmates who see you as a hero, as well as those who see you as a nuisance. There will be charges of favoritism surrounding everything you do, but I suspect you are quite used to that." Harry chuckled slightly, which brought a smile to my face as well.

"You need not give me an answer now, Harry. But I would like one by week's end, so that I may plan schedules and provide for living quarters. Oh, and about the Quidditch. While I thank you for your previous service as Gryffindor's captain, I am sorry to tell you that we shan't be needing you in that position this year. However, if you ask Miss Weasley politely, she may just find time to offer you a tryout to reclaim your seeker position. Good day, Harry. Miss Granger. Miss Weasley. Mr. Weasley." And with this, I thanked Molly for her hospitality and left the Burrow.

I received an owl from Harry that week indicating that he would very much like to return to Hogwarts, as well as one from Hermione which, as I anticipated, said the very same thing. Ron, however, chose not to return for his seventh year, choosing instead to help his brother George open a Hogsmeade branch of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. This left a vacancy at Head Boy, one that I was delightedly surprised to discover Harry willing to fill.

As promised, Harry's arrival at platform 9¾ was not without fanfare. The Daily Prophet had been there, as had nearly hundreds of onlookers and well-wishers. Caught rather by surprise by the occasion, as he would tell me later that week, Harry was forced into an impromptu speech. The Daily Prophet had a transcript in the paper the next day.

"Thank you. Thank you all for being here. I dare say this is the largest send-off for a seventh-year I've ever seen (general laughter). Last year at this time there were few people who could see their children off. Muggles, Muggle-born witches and wizards, and many others were denied the opportunity of either sending their children to Hogwarts or of seeing them go themselves for fear of capture by Tom Riddle's band of thugs. And I'd like to thank the throng of Aurors here today for making sure we don't have a repeat this year (general applause).

"For those of you sending first years to school today, let me congratulate you. Whether your child is sorted into Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin, know that he or she will be among the first to help create a new Hogwarts, and thereby a new wizarding world. A Hogwarts where healthy inter-house rivalry is supported, but one in which the good of Hogwarts is held primary. And a wizarding world in which bloodlines are sources of familial pride, whether one's parents are dentists or 19th generation wizards. And while Hogwarts will do its part to foster this understanding among all magical people, if you don't continue this ethic when we get home, it will end here at Kings' Cross. And now, if you will all excuse me, I have a train to catch. Thank you again."

Thankfully for Harry, this was the last burst of "fame" he would have to experience that year. Or almost. Apparently on the Hogwarts Express, one of the second years had opened up a Chocolate Frog card to find one Hermione Granger. Several others opened up Ginevra Weasley, Luna Lovegood and Harry Potter cards. I quickly set up a "no autographs" policy to protect the seventh years, but I suspect this was circumvented in several cases. For instance, the complete autographed set (along with Neville Longbottom and Ronald Weasley) was presented to me from the lot of them upon completion of their NEWTs.

Harry's seventh year progressed as normally as possible, I suppose. Miss Weasley did find a place for him on the Gryffindor Quidditch side, and Harry did not disappoint, catching the snitch in a "golden catch" – before the opponents had scored a goal with the quaffle – in the match versus a depleted Slytherin side. He played with similar class in the match versus Hufflepuff, and were it not for a rogue bludger, Gryffindor would have swept their three autumn matches. Harry's marks were similarly impressive – "amazing how easy school is without someone trying to kill you every year" was his assessment of the matter. He was looking to score quite well in his Transfiguration NEWT, as well as Charms. As for Defense against the Dark Arts, Professor Quinn actually refused to have Harry in his classes, claiming he was "more qualified than I in the subject, and after all he's done, he deserves the free period". As Harry was also conducting regular (and now school-sanctioned) Dumbledore's Army meetings, I didn't see any harm in this. Besides, I knew full well that the professor was correct concerning Harry's qualifications. As for his social life, the Trio had switched players, with Ginny and Hermione constant alongside Harry. I must say the young man was living the life of Reilly in his final Hogwarts year.

Call it "Witches' Intuition" if you like, but when the Ministry owl showed up at my window in early November, I knew that the beginning of the end of Harry's all-too-short childhood had arrived. Kingsley had written, asking for an appointment, and dread notwithstanding, denying the Minister of Magic an audience is simply not done.

"Minerva, please. We need him. He took a group of fourth- and fifth-years and turned them in to Aurors, for Merlin's sake!"

"Kingsley – He's having an uninterrupted term for the first time in his life. What would it say of me as an educator if I were to let him gallivant off to the Ministry thrice weekly to have him do what should be the job of a forty-five year old Auror?"

"And if Moody were here, Minerva, we wouldn't be having this conversation. If Remus were here – Ye Gods! If I had the bloody cycles to spare, I'd do it myself rather than have Harry miss time from his last year. But I don't. There simply is no wizard in Britain right now with the kind of leadership and training experience young Harry has. No one even comes close. And what would it say of me as a Minister of Magic were I to leave my people unprotected?"

I had no answer. It was fait accomplis. Harry was going to develop and deliver a new training regimen to the entire corps of Aurors This was the role Harry was born to play, and the Fates had simply called him to it a few years earlier than I would have liked. I called the new Trio to my office that evening to discuss the matter with them. I had hoped that seeing the look on the two witches' faces would go towards dissuading him. The threat of a Weasley woman scorned mingled with the well-grounded Miss Granger's ever-present 'tut-tutting' would certainly mollify Harry's noble enthusiasm for saving a world that always finds itself in trouble again. Yet to my surprise –

"Headmistress, did Minister Shacklebolt say when he'd like an answer?"

And just like that, three jaws flew open with all of the speed and grace of a bear-trap. I was a wee bit flustered, to say the least.

"Mr. Potter, it honestly didn't occur to us that you would turn down such an offer. I am rather delightedly shocked that you aren't simply jumping at this."

"Oh no, Headmistress, I'm most likely going to take the Minister up on his offer." Harry flashed a rather cheeky smile. "But as he needs me so much more than I need him, I'm going to take the position on my terms." Ginny beamed as he said this, and then planted a quick peck on the young man's cheek. I had half a mind to do the same.

No one thought for a moment that Harry was going to use his fame to curry special favors. His 'terms', as it turned out, were quite reasonable:

1. Harry was resigning his position as Head Boy.

2. Harry would have the following days free: each Hogsmeade weekend, the day before and day of each Gryffindor Quidditch match, and the two weeks before NEWT exams.

3. All training would take place at Hogwarts, alongside Harry's current DA students. Harry would floo to the Ministry only for occasional one-on-one meetings with Minister Shacklebolt.

4. No Ministry employee, save Minister Shacklebolt and active Aurors would be permitted anywhere near Harry while he is working for the Aurors department.

5. Harry would draw a salary of 250 galleons per month for his services, which was well in-line for a part-time employee of Harry's experience and qualifications.

Harry began his Ministry service on 28th November 1998, and to this day the Auror department has been blessed with his talents.

"And Harry did like he always had then, everything that was asked of him. What will you suggest to Miss Potter, Minerva, that she be more like her father?"

"Albus Dumbledore, don't you dare patronize me! I know full well that the girl has had a much different set of life experiences. But she has a mother, too, and a damned fine one. One that gave up quite a career to be with her, as I recall."

"Captain Gryffindor", as Harry liked to call her, was having her way with the opposition on the Quidditch pitch. While I was no stranger to having Quidditch scouts in the stands during matches, when I heard that Gwenog Jones was to take in the Gryffindor – Ravenclaw match that opened the Spring season in person, I was a bit star-struck. After inviting Miss Jones to the Headmistress's box to watch the match, I found that I needn't have been.

After Harry had seen Miss Jones, he hurriedly had Ginny call for time. It was the oldest trick in student Quidditch, of course, that a Seeker who can catch the snitch at will would hold off long enough to allow a Chaser time to shine when a scout was present. As Miss Jones was not a seasoned scout, though, I'd thought the ruse worked flawlessly. Ten Gryffindor tallies and half her flask of firewhiskey later, Jones turns to me:

"Right fit bird that Weasley, what?" Asked Jones with the noblesse oblige that so many professional Quidditch stars seemed to possess regarding young witches.

"Oh, yes." I answered pointedly, "I suppose it's a special ahem 'bird' indeed that winds up with the man who defeated Lord Voldemort himself."

Jones looked chastened, but resolute. Half an hour later she spoke again, this time with a bit of frustration in her voice. She did, of course, like her Quidditch unadulterated.

"Oi, Potter! Catch the bleedin' snitch already while we're young! You've seen it four times, fer fark's sake. Yer missy's already gettin' a tryout!" And two minutes later he did just that.

At the Gryffindor celebration, Ginny looked like a schoolgirl, which was refreshing to see. I overheard her talking to Harry about her conversation with Jones

"And it's next week. Oh, Harry, I'm so excited! The Harpies! Do you think McGonagall will let me go?"

"That will be five points from Gryffindor, Miss Weasley." I intervened. "And I'm quite certain that if you ask Headmistress McGonagall, you will be allowed to attend, provided you can find someone in the Auror department to accompany you." A wink in Harry's direction let him know what my plans were.

Thanks to Ginny, I've been able to watch my beloved Harpies (any Quidditch-loving Witch who does not support Harpies is a traitor to her sex, in my opinion) from the press box at Holyhead for years. And my autographed "Potter – 10" kit is mounted and framed in my office. At her tribute match in May of '05, Harry released the ceremonial quaffle to tumultuous applause whilst I held baby James in the press box. After a year with her name on the Injury Table for maternity leave, she got one last good fly-about and hung up her broom for good. Now Ginny and I watch three or four matches a season together, and I've seen one or two of my own pithy comments make the Sport pages of The Daily Prophet under her column.

The Auror that was sent to escort Miss Potter was none other than her uncle, Ronald Weasley. It had been a long time since Ron and I had seen each other, Lily hadn't even been born. I did know, from Rose, Hugo and Hermione – with whom I kept some contact – that he had become a remarkable father. Hugo, in fact, was the only cousin to whom Lily had any connection. Through their first four years, Hugo and Lily were nearly the Marauders re-writ. Yet, as often happens among the best of friends, as Hugo began to understand the demands of a Hogwarts education and grow into wizardhood, he left Lily behind, culminating in a tremendous row in the Gryffindor common room. Hermione had been brought in to mediate, but we could already see the change that had taken place in Lily was permanent. She and I had had a chance to talk about her family and career, and how fatherhood was treating her husband. The last time I had seen Ron in person, as a matter of fact, he was just about to learn that this was to be his fate.

About a month and a half after Ginevra's tribute match, I was passing by a muggle electronics store in Dundee when I saw the most atrocious site on one of their televisions. After safely returning to my flat at Hogwarts I flooed the most knowledgeable muggle-born I knew to help me understand what I had seen.

"Oh, Minerva, it's simply dreadful," explained a decidedly distraught Hermione Weasley. "Harry's called Ron in to the Aurors' office to see if he can help, and Ginny hasn't heard from Harry since he left for work this morning. He passes right by Kings' Cross each morning. She's over here now with James." I offered my services, as it gave me a chance not only to watch the events unfold on one of the few working televisions in wizarding Britain.

Stopping by the Weasley's also gave me a chance to catch up with Hermione, who as a student I had grown quite fond of. Not that we had lost touch, but after a woman gets married (as she and Ron finally did), matters outside of the home become so often forgotten. Two years before her nuptials, she was working towards seven NEWTS, all of which were going to be Outstanding, and the poor dear hadn't a clue what to do with them. Towards the spring of her final year, she was barraged by offers for internships for which most witches her age would sell their firstborn. Hermione knew better than to jump at any of these, though. She certainly had both the skill and brains to pick a career at random and ride it to the top of whatever profession that was. But after spending her childhood and much of her youth saving the wizarding world, she was simply not going to settle for a career that would make her anything less than blissfully happy. I counseled her to take her time. I gave her (with the permission of her professors, of course) three weeks to go to Shell cottage with Bill and Fleur for some introspection, knowing that Dobby's grave would provide all of the inspiration she needed. Upon completing Hogwarts, she took a position with the Magical Creatures Liaison office, and had by this time written some ground-breaking legislation not only outlawing Elvish slavery and abuse, but also fully-enfranchising Centaurs, Giants and Goblins.

Arriving at the Weasley's modest row house in wizarding London by floo, I sat Hermione down and put on a kettle. Ginny was already transfixed by the telly while she was nursing James.

"All we know so far is that some muggle busses and the Underground were bombed" ('Bombing', apparently, is like a powerful Reducto spell with some fire added). "Neither Scotland Yard nor M15 know anything more, at least not that they're saying, but I wouldn't be surprised if it weren't those same bastards that attacked those poor muggles in New York a couple of years ago. It's just too organized to be one crazy person". And the conversation continued along like this. Ginny and Hermione looked for signs of magical happenings on what had become ceaseless television coverage – shimmers in backgrounds that oughtn't be there and the like. I made tea and listened. Even though Ginny hadn't heard from Harry since before the attacks, it was Hermione that seemed to be the most affected. Her parents were safely on holiday in Cornwall, and none of the other Weasleys were anywhere near London at the time. I tried to take her mind off of things by asking her about work.

"Oh, and Minerva. The nerve of these people. Treating other magical creatures positively subhuman… it's nothing different than what I and other muggle-borns had been subject to for years. And "unpaid servant" is simply not going to be an acceptable alternative name for "slave" – it's barely even a clever euphemism. I have a list right now in my study of fourteen different wizarding families who are still, in 2005, trying to get away with slave ownership. It's reprehensible. I simply don't know what I'll do if the Wizengamot doesn't provide adequate prosecution."

With some hindsight, I now know what she did do. She took on the case herself, acting as chief prosecutor. She studied every scrap of parchment on magical law, on case proceedings and protocols, and quickly became a self-taught Wizengamot prosecutor. Today she makes it her life's work, and is as accomplished in that pursuit as she has been in every other one she's attempted.

By about four-thirty in the afternoon, I had felt that I had overstayed my welcome, but Hermione insisted. She was terribly anxious, and I guess I was a calming presence. Although after two pots of tea, Hermione's talkative nature would make nearly anyone a little anxious though. For Hermione it wasn't the tea, as I overheard whilst cleaning up in the kitchen.

"Ginny, how do I tell him?"

"But are you sure? Couldn't it just be the stress of the cases that's caused you to be late this month? Have you been eating right – I know how hard you work yourself?"

"Ginny, I'm pregnant. I just know, all right? Now how do I tell that brother of yours without him ruining the carpet by puking all over it when he hears?

"Hermione, I think you underestimate him. He's faced bloody Voldemort. He's faced me as a sister and you as a wife. That alone would be enough to scare any man. He'll see fatherhood as an adventure and play along. You'll see, having a kid will be something that turns him around. He'll have found something in his life more important than him, and something that unlike you, actually needs his guidance and protection."

"Ginny dear, you're the one who married Harry. This is Ron we're talking about."

"Hermione darling, this is fatherhood we're talking about. It changes a man. I'll ask you how it's going in a year." I took this as my cue that their initial reactions were finished and offered my congratulations. Not being a mother, but being a woman, I was myself only a bit of an outsider in the general conversation of babies, birthing, nursing and the gestation and caretaking of new life. We sat for a good few hours discussing such important matters, ones which lent quite the pleasant counterpoint to the day's horrors we had witnessed in the muggle world.

The men came by at eight o'clock or so. Harry was livid, as any lawman might be after such a day, but was softened immediately by the sight of his red-haired love and their sleeping infant. Ron was flustered, apologized for being gone so long, and had brought with him a bouquet of thirteen red roses by way of making amends to Hermione for not being able to keep her abreast of the situation. Ginny whispered something in Harry's ear, and the three of them flooed home after making a quick goodbye. I also took my leave at that time.

"Ronald, so good to see you, honestly. I wish it were under better circumstances than this, though. I am glad that you can be here for your niece on what she will look back on as the saddest day in her life."

"Minerva, it's been twenty years since we've seen each other" he said, greeting me with a kiss and a handshake, "yet we always seem to find each other during tragedies. First 7/7, and now what's happening in America yet again"

"Ronald, I've not heard anything. What's gone on down there?"

"Do you remember that horrible hurricane they had in New Orleans back in '05? Well, they did such a job placing patch-holes on the levees that they've fallen again after another major hurricane. A full quarter of the American wizarding society is in New Orleans, the entire city's under water again, and Harry's been called to assist in the rebuilding efforts."

"I had heard something like this through my portrait at Salem," piped in Albus. "But I wasn't aware of the extent of the damage yet again.

"The only thing I know for certain is that Harry would have loved to have been the one to frog-march Lily out of here himself. We love her with all of our hearts, him most of all, but we've simply had enough. But now Harry's probably going to be stuck with the rebuilding efforts for so long, I'll imagine they'd rather get it right this time…"

And an idea came to me. Certainly Lily was not going to be Harry's daughter unless she, too was part of something great. After consulting with Ronald and Flitwick, I postponed my meeting with Lily until I had had time to arrange a few details. All in all, as a witch of my years has a favor or two at her disposal, it took about three days to arrange everything.

"Lily Ginevra Potter, please hand me your wand." And the sixteen-year-old witch did so with a sunken head, and an uncharacteristic, yet not unexpected lack of cheek.

"Before you are escorted out of Hogwarts, is there anything you wish to say?"

"I – I guess I just wanted to say that I'm sorry I failed you all. I'm sorry I couldn't live up to the Weasley or the Potter name, I'm just, so sorry is all…" and she broke down into tears. This I had also expected. I allowed her a moment to compose herself, and then I continued.

"Miss Potter, in my nearly eighty years of experience, I have never expelled a student for cheeky behavior. This truly is a first. You simply don't want to be here, and for that I am truly sorry. You tell me that you feel as though you have failed us, but it is quite the other way around, dear girl. We are the ones who have failed you. We have not provided you an atmosphere in which you can develop into the extraordinary witch that I know you could have been, and the wizarding world is weaker for losing you. Your time here at Hogwarts is at an end, and that is a shame."

"Professor," she asked in the quietest voice ever to part those lips, "what will become of me? Will I live like a squib now? Must I find my way in the muggle world?"

"That is entirely up to you, Miss Potter. If I were to offer a chance to remain in the wizarding world as a fully privileged member, would you take it?" The light returning to her eyes told me everything I needed to know.

"I have been in contact with another wizarding school, one which is in quite dire straits. The Laveaux School in New Orleans, USA has been nearly destroyed. I believe you are aware that your father has been sent there to assist in the general clean-up. Should you wish it, I would like to send you tomorrow to High Priestess Arcueil, who will have you assist her in getting her school back in order. You will be in the same city as your father, but for your own sake, you may wish to keep a wide berth for a few days. But I know the kind of man he is, so let me suggest something to you. Show Laveaux the kind of love he showed Hogwarts when Hogwarts needed him after the Second War. You have it in you, Lily; it's in your blood.

"Why are you doing this for me, Professor? I've done nothing to earn this kind of trust from anyone?"

"Because, Lily, I am of the firm belief that the only reason you did not succeed at Hogwarts is that you were stifled by the familiarity of it all. What I am doing is giving myself a second chance to be an educator. You'll be going someplace where you – not your uncle or aunt or mother or father – can do something wonderful that will be remembered. You will be the only red-head for miles around. And so like your father, you'll be able to express that love for others that rests inside you. How could you show it while you were here – everyone knew what you were going to do before you'd done it? In Louisiana (that's where New Orleans is, dear), you'll be able to become your own witch. After you graduate – which is an American ceremony that officially finishes your schooling – I'd like it very much if you would visit me, although I'm sure I should hear of your progress via owl from your parents. And Miss Potter?"

"Yes, Professor?"

"Two more things. Firstly, you're going to need your wand. Secondly, remember that you are a guest in the United States. Do make sure you remember that."

"Of course, Professor. Thank you Professor."

"Thank you Miss Potter. That is all."