Disclaimer I do not own Harry Potter and everything recognisable belongs to J K Rowling.
Thanks for all your reviews. Sorry for the long wait. I hope the long chapter makes up for it. (I know Epilogues are supposed to be short but...I couldn't help myself) Enjoy!!
Chapter Forty Five
Harry let out a sigh as he walked out of the Great Hall, having finished the last of his O.W.L.S exams. He walked along with the steady stream of students and headed for the stairs. Ron and Hermione caught up with him and were already discussing the paper. Harry tuned out Hermione's repetition of what answers she had given and Ron's loud groans in response.
They made their way to the common room, ready to finally rest after finishing a fortnight of their first proper wizarding exams.
Harry found himself in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady in no time. Seamus had already given the password so the portrait swung open, allowing access. Harry followed Ron and climbed into the common room. The trio sat in their usual place, next to the fire.
"Bloody hell, I'm glad that's over!" Ron said, putting his feet up on the table, wearing a very tired expression.
Hermione shook her head disapprovingly at him.
"I don't know why so many people hate examinations. I personally find them exhilarating." She announced.
"You would!" Ron answered.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.
"I'm not the only one who enjoys studying." She defended. "Harry had a great time studying for his O.W.L.S, didn't you Harry?" she asked.
Harry gave her a half heartened smile and nodded his head.
Ever since the day his family had left him to go back to their universe, Harry had fought the feelings of despair and loneliness. He had tried to keep his mind busy so he didn't think about them. As a result, he submersed himself in his studies, catching up on all he had missed and doing revision exercises nightly so he could sit his O.W.L.S examinations. Hermione had, of course, helped and encouraged him to catch up on all his lessons. Professor Dumbledore had asked all the Professors to help Harry so he could get up to date with his studies and the end result was that Harry sat all his O.W.L.S exams and he expected to pass all of them, even if he only scraped a pass.
But now his exams were over and Harry didn't know what he could do to keep himself from thinking about his family. He only had his friends to keep him busy.
"Well, I'm sure even Harry is glad to have the exams over and done with." Ron said.
"Just because you don't like to use your brain doesn't mean everyone is like that!" Hermione bickered.
"Guys, quit it." Harry said tiredly. "The exams are over, can we just drop it?"
Ron and Hermione looked away from each other and focused on Harry.
"You look really tired, Harry?" Hermione said. "Have you been sleeping properly?" she asked.
Harry nodded, even though he was lying.
No matter how hard he tried, no matter how busy he kept his mind during the day, when it came to the night and Harry lay in his bed, all he could do was think back to his time with his parents and his brother in another world. He couldn't sleep when he thought about Potter Manor and the large Quidditch pitch in which he had played countless games with Damien and James and sometimes Sirius. He remembered what it felt like to wake up in the morning and go downstairs into the kitchen to see his mum cooking breakfast. He thought about all the meal times, sitting at the table with his parents and his brother, laughing and enjoying their company. He remembered the way Lily fussed over how much food was in his plate and complained that he didn't eat enough. He remembered the way James' eyes would sparkle with pride whenever Harry beat him at Quidditch matches. He missed the silly and pointless gossip he shared with Damien. He even missed the way Damien used to argue with him. He missed everything about them. All of that was gone now and no matter how much he told himself it was for the best, he couldn't suppress the part of him that wished he could have them back.
Instinctively, Harry reached for his phone and his fingers lightly traced over the rectangular device sitting in his top pocket. The only connection he had to his family.
"Have you spoken to them recently?" Hermione asked as she noticed this developing habit of her friend.
"Mum and dad call me, every day." He answered. "And Damien calls nearly every night." A shadow of a smile graced his face.
"That's nice." Hermione smiled.
"How are they?" Ron asked.
Harry looked up at him.
"They're good." He answered.
"And Harry," Ron asked, whispering the name, "have you spoken to him?"
Harry shook his head.
"No." he added verbally. "We don't really have much to say to each other."
Ron and Hermione fell silent at that.
"We should go get some dinner." Hermione said quietly.
"Good idea! I'm starving!" Ron said, getting up from his seat.
Hermione threw him a look.
"What else is new?" She remarked.
Ron and Hermione got up and started making their way to the portrait door. Harry kicked his bag to the side and was about to get to his feet when they heard someone approach him.
Harry looked up at the voice and saw Neville standing before him.
"Hey Neville." Harry answered.
"How did you find the last paper?" Neville asked, sitting down next to Harry. "I thought it was okay."
Harry nodded his head tiredly.
"Yeah, it was, fine."
Neville glanced hesitantly at Harry for a moment before leaning towards him.
"Harry, I wanted to ask you something." Neville started. "The...the boy, the one pretending to be you," he whispered quietly, "do you know him? I mean who he really is?"
Harry was surprised that Neville was asking about the other Harry. He had spent the last few months sharing a dormitory with him, but he never brought up the subject then.
"Yeah, I know who he is." Harry answered, playing along with the lie that the other Harry had been a fake who had come to Hogwarts as Harry Potter to trick Voldemort.
"Will you be seeing him soon?" Neville asked quickly. "I mean over summer or something. Will you meet him again?"
Harry paused before shaking his head, his heart breaking at the thought.
"No, I'm not going to meet him again." He answered.
Neville looked disappointed.
"Oh, okay. I just thought...it's okay, never mind."
He made to get up but Harry stopped him.
"Why did you ask about him, Neville?" Harry asked.
Neville turned to look at Harry, a sheepish smile on his round face.
"I just thought you might know him quite well, seeing as he pretended to be you and everything. I thought he might be a good mate of yours." Neville said with a shrug.
Harry couldn't help but smile a little at that.
"Yeah, he is a really good mate of mine." he confirmed.
"I wanted to ask you before but you were busy with catching up with lectures and classes and I didn't want to disturb you." he said, looking uncomfortable. "I just...if you talk to him or if you meet him again, will you do something for me?"
Harry nodded, wondering what it was that Neville possibly wanted to say to his counterpart.
"Just tell him, thanks, for everything." Neville said. "I won't give up and I'll continue on my own, like he showed me." At seeing Harry's confused expression he added, "He'll know what I'm talking about." Neville grinned.
"Sure, Neville, if I talk to him, I'll pass on your message." Harry replied.
"Thanks!" Neville smiled and then got back up, heading to the stairs leading to his dormitory to drop off his bag.
Harry got up on his feet and started making his way through the busy common room heading for the door. He noted the stares falling on him as soon as he got up. Harry had been dreading it, having to face the population of Hogwarts, dealing with the questions they no doubt had about his doppelganger, the one who had attended in his place since the start of term. To his relief, however, no one asked him anything to do with the other Harry, other than Neville just now. The others stared at him, whispered about him, pointed at him like usual but no one came to him outright and asked him where he had been and why he had been switched. Harry didn't care why the students avoided the topic, he was just grateful for it. He already knew it was probably on the Headmaster's orders that no one harassed him.
He should have known it wouldn't last.
As soon as Harry followed Ron and Hermione out of the portrait door and down the stairs, he met a group of Hufflepuff students, on their way to the Great Hall too. The small group of seven Hufflepuff students looked up at Harry as he approached with Ron and Hermione and instantly the staring and whispering started. Harry ignored it, like he usually did and walked past them.
"...don't know how no one picked up on it. I mean he's totally different..."
"...I always knew something wasn't right...!"
"...potion mistake? Yeah, right....!"
The whispers weren't quiet enough and Harry fought down his annoyance and focused on getting to the Great Hall.
Harry stopped at his name and looked around at the boy who had called to him. He recognised him as Zacharias Smith, a Hufflepuff Quidditch player.
"Yeah?" Harry answered, his irritation apparent in his voice.
Hermione clutched at Harry's arm but he ignored her.
Zacharias looked around at his fellow Hufflepuff students before turning smugly at Harry.
"I heard you went into hiding," he said outright, "during your swap with that impostor." He elaborated.
Harry felt his anger bubble furiously just under the surface.
"What's it got to do with you?!" Ron asked. "Have you forgotten how he threw you out? Want a repeat performance? Cause I'd love to send you smashing face first into the wall, Smith!"
The Hufflepuff boy coloured but he stubbornly kept his eyes glued to Ron.
"I wasn't talking to you, Weasley!" he spat. He turned to look back at Harry. "Did you and the Headmaster really come up with that plan to fool You-Know-Who?" he asked with clear disbelief.
"Why do you want to know?" Harry asked. "It's got nothing to do with you."
Hermione pulled at Harry's arm.
"Come on, Harry. Don't bother with him." she said quietly.
Harry turned, along with Ron to continue their way to dinner.
They heard Zacharias scoff behind them as he turned to his friends.
"Don't know why anyone believed that impostor was Potter!"
Harry ignored him and continued walking away.
"You believed he was Potter too." One of the other Hufflepuff students pointed out.
"But I knew something was up when he attacked me!" Zacharias defended. "He wandlessly blasted me across the room! After that it was bloody obvious he wasn't Potter!" he scoffed again, "Potter's not that advanced when it comes to magic."
Harry stopped again and turned around to look at Zacharias. Harry suddenly smiled at him.
"You're right, that should have been obvious." Harry said making the Hufflepuff boy stare back at him. "I can't do the things he can." Harry's emerald gaze shifted to Zacharias' wand which was tucked in his robes pocket. With a sudden whooshing sound, the wand flew from the Zacharias' pocket, straight towards Harry, who caught it just as easily as he did the golden snitch at his Quidditch matches. Harry's fingers closed around the wand and he smiled at the awestruck expressions of the others. "I don't know what you were thinking, believing I can do that sort of magic." Harry mocked.
Zacharias was lost for words and was just staring at Harry, his eyes flickering from his wand to Harry's face.
Harry threw the boy his wand back, which the Hufflepuff caught clumsily. Without another word, Harry turned and walked away, Ron and Hermione hurrying behind him, wearing very large grins.
Dinner was, like usual, a feast and Harry felt comfortably full and quite sleepy. He was finishing his dessert of treacle tart when Hermione nudged him glancing at the staff table.
"Professor Umbridge hasn't taken her eyes off you this whole time." She whispered.
Harry stole a sideways glance and saw the witch clad in pink, staring at him.
"I know. I can feel her eyes on me." He told Hermione.
Harry had quickly learned having returned to Hogwarts just what kind of a witch Umbridge was, and he had decided just as quickly that he disliked her. She had ignored him while teaching her class and offered no help to him when he was catching up with lectures. Thankfully, the subject of Defence Against the Dark Arts was Harry's favourite subject and he didn't struggle with it. But Harry knew it was also his dad's tutoring in the said subject that gave him an advantage.
"What is her problem?" Ron glowered openly at Umbridge as she continued to stare at Harry.
"It's obvious," Hermione answered. "Harry just made a fool out of the Minister and the whole Ministry." At the two boys' confused expressions she elaborated. "The official story being that Harry and Professor Dumbledore played a trick to fool..." she lowered her voice, "Voldemort," she raised her voice to normal again and continued, "...into revealing himself. Since the Ministry had no idea what was going on, it makes them look foolish." Hermione shrugged as she helped herself to dessert. "After all, it is supposed to be the Minister's job to deal with threats such as Voldemort." She whispered the name again. "Umbridge is obviously worried about all the trouble her dear Minister Fudge is getting into because of all this. She obviously blames Harry." She turned to the dark haired boy. "Have you heard the recent news? It seems Minister Fudge might be replaced."
Harry turned to face her in surprise.
"Really?" he asked.
"Apparently, Minister Fudge is feeling the heat now that everyone knows he ignored the warning you and Professor Dumbledore gave last year about Voldemort returning. Now that Voldemort is substantially weakened with next to no Death Eaters at his side, no one wants Fudge to mess up and let him get away. I heard a new Minister might be appointed, one that can handle the situation and get Voldemort before he grows strong again."
Harry looked thoughtful.
"Who might that be?" he asked, more himself than Hermione.
"Rufus Scrimgeour." Hermione said at once.
"Who?" Ron asked through a mouthful.
"Rufus Scrimgeour; he's the head of the Auror Office of the Ministry of Magic. Apparently he's a man of action. He's fought dark wizards most of his life so he's thought to be the best person to deal with this situation as he won't underestimate the threat of Voldemort." Hermione said, sipping her pumpkin juice. "That's the gossip anyway."
"Where do you get all this information from?" Ron asked amazed and wide eyed.
"I have my sources." Hermione smirked.
Suddenly the door to the Great Hall opened and a group of blue robed Aurors entered the hall, hurrying up to the staff table. The group of Aurors caught every eye as they made their way up to Dumbledore. The headmaster rose to his feet at the sight and Harry saw the look of confusion on the aged wizard's face.
The Auror leading the rest came to stop in front of Dumbledore. He said something to the headmaster in a quiet voice, so none of the students could hear him, as he pulled a scroll from his pocket and offered it. The headmaster took the scroll and unfurled it. His eyes scanned the parchment and then his gaze lifted and went straight to Harry. The raven haired boy felt a moment of unease wash over him as the headmaster's gaze picked him out. Were the Aurors here for him? What had he done now?
Harry's thoughts changed the next moment when he saw Dumbledore nod his head, a strange fire in his blue eyes and he stepped aside allowing the Aurors to move past him. The group of men went straight to the end of the table and stood towering over the short, squat woman, dressed in a fluffy pink cardigan.
"Dolores Jane Umbridge, you are under arrest for the unauthorised use of Dementors," the Aurors said in a loud clear voice, which reached the curious students. "You don't have to say anything in your defence as anything you say may be used against you..."
Two Aurors stood either side of the short woman and took her wand from her as the Auror continued to read out her rights. As soon as the Auror finished, the two Aurors took Umbridge by the arms to lead her away.
"What is this?" Umbridge asked, her voice still high and girly. Her high pitched giggle left her nervously. "There must be mistake."
The Aurors paid her no attention and started to lead her towards the doors.
"Come with us, Miss Umbridge." An Auror said as two of them began marching her down the hall.
"This is unacceptable!" Umbridge yelled, fighting the men in vain. "Let go of me! I haven't done anything!"
"Miss Umbridge, the Ministry have uncovered evidence which reveal you instructed two Dementors to go to Little Whinging, Surrey, London last August." the Auror replied, not breaking his stride towards the doors.
Hermione gasped out loud at the revelation, turning to look at Harry at once. Hermione had heard rumours that there was an investigation underway, into what the Minister and those close to him had been doing last year. It was in order to discredit the Minister, to show he wasn't fulfilling his responsibilities. The investigation must have uncovered Umbridge's action as well, since she was the senior Undersecretary to the Minister and must have been examined as well.
Harry found he couldn't look away from the struggling witch. Hermione and Ron had told him about the Dementor attack at Little Whinging. He couldn't believe Umbridge was the one to have sent those Dementors to target him. Umbridge suddenly turned to look at Harry too, her eyes fixed hatefully on him.
"I was doing everyone a favour!" she yelled, trying to wrench her arms out of the strong grips. "Potter was causing too much trouble! He had to be stopped! Desperate times call for desperate measures!" she explained, her voice betraying her growing hysteria. "Look, you obviously don't know what you are doing! Let me speak to Cornelius, he will explain to you that I am his Senior Undersecretary! You cannot arrest me!"
"Your arrest order has come from Minister Fudge himself." the Auror said, without even turning around to look at her.
The look of shock on Umbridge's face almost made Harry feel sorry for her.
"But...no...wait! I didn't do anything wrong! Potter had to be stopped! You have to listen to me!"
Umbridge continued to fight but her attempts were useless as the Aurors marched her out of the Great Hall and out of Hogwarts.
The Hogwarts Express started to slow down, pulling into Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross station. Even as the train came to a complete stop, Harry continued to sit in his seat, his gaze fixed on the window. Ron and Hermione quietly got up and started to pull their trunks out of the storage compartments.
"Harry?" Hermione called, making the bespectacled boy look away from the window and around at her. "We're here." She told him quietly.
With a sigh, Harry picked himself out of his seat and pulled out his trunk. The three students started making their way out of the compartment, mixing with the steady stream of students that were hurrying to get off the train and to their homes. Harry allowed the chaos and frantic rush to sweep him up and lead him out of the scarlet train.
He pushed past the students, pulling his trunk with him, as he stepped off the train. Harry waited for Ron and Hermione to join him. Just as Ron jumped off the train, Harry saw the blond haired Slytherin push his way past the students and step off the train as well. The grey eyes met Harry's and the Slytherin paused momentarily. Then, without a single word, or even a malicious sneer, Draco Malfoy turned, picked up his luggage and walked away, passing Harry and Ron.
"What's gotten into him?" Ron asked as both boys watched Draco disappear into the crowd.
Draco had been strangely quiet and subdued since Harry saw him when he returned to Hogwarts a few months ago. Harry had expected the usual bullying and taunts by the blond Slytherin and was extremely surprised to receive nothing from him.
Hermione joined the two boys and glanced in the direction they were staring in.
"Really, you two are impossible!" she admonished. "If Malfoy does anything you hate him, if he leaves you alone, you're still not happy!" she clicked her tongue at them. "Shame on you both!" she teased.
They picked up their luggage and headed for the brick wall, the gateway that led them to the muggle world.
"It just seems weird that Malfoy is so quiet." Harry said, explaining himself. "I would have thought he would have a comment or two to throw my way."
"Just ignore him Harry." Hermione replied. "I've been telling you to do that for years!"
They approached the brick wall and Harry, Ron and Hermione passed through the gateway and made their way through Kings Cross Station.
Harry slowed down, not looking forward to the journey ahead. He was heading back to Privet Drive, back to stay with his aunt, who still hated him and was probably going to make his stay there hell as payback for whatever it was the other Harry had done to her and the rest of the Dursleys. Harry pushed along his trolley, looking absolutely miserable. Ron clapped a hand on his back.
"Cheer up, Harry!" he said. "Don't look so depressed. It won't be so bad."
"Yeah, Harry," Hermione joined in. "You only have to stay at your aunt's for a week. The rest of your summer will be with Sirius." She consoled.
"I know but that's just the thing. I don't want to spend a week with the Dursleys. Now that I know I can stay with Sirius in his new home, I can't bear the thought of spending seven days at Privet Drive. It's going to be murder!"
"It'll be fine." Hermione answered. "It's not a choice thing, Harry, you know that. Voldemort is still out there and he'll be trying his hardest to get to you. You need protection and for that you have to spend at least a week at your aunt's home. You know what Professor Dumbledore said; as long as you can call Privet Drive your home, the blood magic will protect you."
Harry nodded his head. He knew that but that didn't make him any happier about it.
"Hey, it's still cool for me to come and stay with you and Sirius, right?" Ron asked as they pushed their way through the crowd.
"Yeah, Sirius is fine with it." Harry answered.
"I can't wait to see your room!" Ron said excitedly.
"Neither can I," Harry responded, "Sirius said it's the second biggest room in the Manor and he's decorated it in the colours I asked for." He grinned, his face breaking into a smile for the first time that day.
"Sounds wonderful." Hermione smiled at the sight of her friend happy.
"I'm just glad Sirius gave in and didn't get a thirty room mansion." Harry said. "Although, ten rooms are still a lot."
Ron shook his head.
"Nah, ten rooms are fine. The Burrow has eight rooms."
"Yes, but Ron, the Burrow had eight people living in it at one time." Hermione pointed out. "Here it's just Harry and Sirius."
Harry caught sight of his uncle, standing near the doors, his usual scowl on his face as he waited for him. The sight of him made Harry slow down. His hand instinctively went to his pocket, his fingers outlining the small rectangle resting in his pocket.
"Did you tell your parents you're going back to your aunts?" Ron asked, seeing Harry's hand ghosting over his pocket that held the precious phone.
"Yeah, mum was going ballistic again," Harry smiled remembering how protective his mum was. "She was actually planning on paying aunt Petunia a visit when she came here."
"Why didn't she?" Hermione asked.
"I asked her not to." Harry replied. "I didn't want to cause even more problems. I don't know how Harry treated the Dursleys but I can guess, and that doesn't bode well for me." He shrugged at the looks he was getting from the other two. "I didn't want mum getting involved as well. Not to mention that aunt Petunia would probably have a breakdown if she thought her dead sister had come back to yell at her."
Hermione opened her mouth to say something but then changed her mind.
Vernon's small beady eyes finally found Harry and his expression changed as he saw the small boy pushing along his trolley in his direction. A look of relief flashed on his face before his scowl reappeared, deepening as he raised his hand, gesturing for Harry to hurry up.
Harry sighed again and turned to his friends.
"Alright, I guess I'll see you guys later." He said, dejectedly.
"Take care, Harry," Hermione hugged him. "And no matter what, don't let them get to you." Her eyes glanced in Vernon's direction. "Just keep thinking, one week, that's how long you have to tolerate them for. After that, you'll be with Sirius, in your new home."
"Second home," Harry reminded. "Remember, that's how Professor Dumbledore wants me to think of Sirius' home."
Ron hugged Harry as well, mirroring Hermione's words and reminding him that he was going to come a few weeks from now to spend summer with him.
Ron and Hermione saw their families waiting for them and they hurried over to them as Harry pushed his trolley towards his waiting uncle. Vernon didn't wait for Harry to reach him and turned, heading to his car. Harry followed behind him, wishing his one week with the Dursleys was over already.
The car pulled into the driveway of number four Privet Drive. Harry got out and pulled out his trunk and Hedwig's cage. The journey had been a silent one and Harry didn't even look in his uncle's direction. Harry headed to the house, wanting to just get inside as quickly as possible.
He hurried behind his uncle and as soon as the door opened, Harry rushed inside. He dropped his trunk before the cupboard under the stairs. He knew his aunt and uncle enjoyed taking his school things and locking them in the cupboard for the duration of summer. Harry didn't put up a fight this time and he left his trunk sitting in front of the cupboard door before taking Hedwig's cage and going up the stairs.
His peripheral vision picked up on his aunt Petunia standing at the kitchen door watching him. He didn't give her any notice as he trudged up the stairs. He went straight to the smallest bedroom in the house and opened the door. He stopped dead at the sight inside.
A new bed was sitting against the far wall, along with a new mattress and new bed covers. His tatty, broken wardrobe had been replaced with a small two door wardrobe but it looked new as well. The dull walls had been painted white and Harry was amazed to see a new carpet as well.
Dumbfounded, Harry turned around to see both his aunt and uncle standing behind him, wearing slightly nervous looking expressions.
"What's all this?" Harry asked, gesturing to his newly furnished and decorated room.
Petunia looked to her husband who spoke, clearing his throat.
"Petunia and I decided that your room was, well, it needed a change." He pointed at the door. "This cost us a lot, so don't give us any cheek about not liking it." his eyes kept darting to Harry's face and then his hand, as if expecting to see him reach for his wand.
Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing. He looked back at the room again.
"You like it, don't you?" Petunia asked suddenly, surprising Harry. "You'll stay here now? You won't want our room, will you?"
Harry's eyebrows shot up and he opened his mouth in surprise.
His raised voice made Petunia and Vernon nervous and they backed away a step.
"Now look here!" Vernon started, obviously trying to keep in control. "We have to come to an agreement! This is your room and now it's just as nice as the rest of the house so you have to stay here! You can't take our room!"
Harry shook his head.
"I don't want your room." Harry defended.
The two muggles relaxed at once.
"Good, that's...that's good." Vernon stammered, nodding his head. "Well, glad that's sorted." He turned and quickly went downstairs.
Harry watched as Petunia followed, glancing over at Harry but not saying anything to him.
Harry walked into his new room and closed the door behind him, idly noting the absence of locks on his door. He walked over and settled Hedwig on top of the new bedside cabinet and sat down on his bed.
He rubbed at his face, still dealing with the shock of what the Dursleys had said and done. He looked around at the fresh room. This was all obviously done in response to whatever it was his counterpart had done to them. Harry mentally kicked himself. Why didn't he ask his other self what it was he had done to his aunt and uncle? He had learned that he had taken over their bedroom. Harry chuckled at the thought. He could just see his older counterpart refusing to stay in this room and forcefully taking over his aunt's room.
"This room? Are you kidding me? It's too small. I like this one! I'm staying here!"
The voice rang in his head, mimicking the tone of his other self. Harry shook his head at the thought. At least the seven days he had to spend here wouldn't be spent sleeping on an uncomfortable bed and locked inside a dull room.
Hedwig hooted at him, making Harry get up to go over to her. He got some water for her and poured it into her tray. He turned to get her an owl treat when he realised that the new carpet had blocked his access to the small storage space under a loose floorboard he had, under his bed.
Getting down, under his bed, Harry tugged at the edge of the carpet. He had stored a lot of his things under the loose floorboard. He needed them back. Harry pulled and thankfully the carpet came up easily. Harry reached over and pushed the loose floorboard aside and dug his hand into the hole and started pulling out things he had stashed there. His fingers came into contact with something soft and velvety. Perplexed, Harry pulled it out and saw a deep purple velvet pouch, with a drawstring. He pulled the pouch out from under the floor and stared at it. He had never seen it before. He placed it to the side and continued digging out his things. Once he was sure everything had been taken out of his makeshift storage, he clicked the floorboard back into place and straightened out the carpet, rolling it smooth and tucking it in at the edges.
Harry climbed back out from under his bed and brought with him his hidden possessions and the strange velvet pouch which clearly had something inside. Harry picked up the packet of owl treats and pulled a few out, depositing them into Hedwig's cage so she could enjoy them. Ignoring everything else, Harry picked up the purple velvet bag and sat down on his bed.
He pulled the string to open and peered inside. Pulling out the bulky contents Harry was surprised to find a small book and dozens of loose parchment, some with strange drawings on them. He found a folded piece of parchment with his name clearly written across it. He picked up the parchment and opened it.
Just a helping hand. Hopefully this might help you get even with Voldemort, without going to Dumbledore! Just remember, things might be different in this world so research everything!
Harry knew the note was from his counterpart, even before he read the signature at the end of the short note. The hand writing was a dead giveaway.
Harry smiled, putting aside the letter from himself. So his counterpart didn't destroy the compass and already used it to come back and leave this stuff for him. Harry found he was actually relieved and immensely glad that his other self hadn't listened to him and destroyed the compass. At least this way, Harry could have a little hope that he may be able to visit his family again, or when everything was okay and Voldemort was gone for good, his family could come to see him.
Feeling motivated, Harry studied the mass of papers left for him. These could help him destroy Voldemort? How? Harry saw the heading 'Horcruxes' on the loose parchment sheets, which he quickly deduced were notes on the subject. He recognised Hermione's neat writing on a few of the sheets and Professor Dumbledore's writing on the rest. He picked up the small book and turned it over, examining it. He couldn't see anything special about the book. It looked like a normal journal.
He opened it and read the inscription inside.
"Who is Jason Riley?" Harry asked himself.
The pub was already filled with people, being a Friday night, it was packed with witches and wizards having a drink to wind down and get ready for the weekend.
Draco was sitting alone at a side table. Two drinks before him. He brought up one of the bottles, taking a sip before putting it back down again. His back was to the door but he still heard it opening. He smiled as he heard the footsteps approaching and without turning around, he reached over and picked up the unopened bottle. He held it up and waited, just for a few seconds, before he felt someone take the bottle from his grip. The same person passed him and sat down on the seat opposite, opening the offered bottle.
"Thanks." Harry said as he brought the fire whiskey up to his lips and took a swig at it.
Draco held up his own bottle and took a deep gulp.
"You took your time." Draco commented.
"Sirius and Remus had come over. I couldn't get away." Harry answered.
"I didn't mean just now." Draco replied. "I meant you took your time coming back to this dimension."
Harry didn't answer right away and took another, longer gulp of his drink.
"It didn't all go to plan." He admitted.
"No kidding," Draco mocked. "Has anything you've ever planned gone smoothly?"
Harry gave Draco a look.
"I didn't know the bloody compass was going to be so sensitive. I was supposed to switch back after two days." Harry replied.
"Instead you spent seven months in another world." Draco teased. "So, how was it?" he asked taking another sip of his fire whiskey.
Harry thought about it for a moment before lifting his gaze.
"Terrible." Harry replied.
"Really?" Draco asked.
"I won't be doing it again in a hurry." Harry said, shaking his head.
Draco snorted in amusement before draining his bottle.
"Did you get up to anything interesting while you were there?" Draco asked.
Harry tapped the table with his fingers.
"Plenty, but nothing of great importance." He dismissed.
"So your last seven months were a waste of time?" Draco asked.
Harry smiled a little and leaned back.
"Of course not, I got a chance to reflect on myself." He replied.
"Yeah, I met your reflection too." He mused, "a little overly dramatic, I must say." He commented. "But you are an emotional mess most of the time, so no big surprise there."
Harry threw his friend a look but didn't say anything.
"Did you learn anything from your time, reflecting?" Draco asked.
Harry smiled a little as he sat up.
"Of course I did."
When Harry didn't offer anything else, Draco had to prompt him.
Harry tapped the table with his fingers again.
"I realised I give myself far too little credit. I'm capable of things I never thought possible."
Draco looked confused. He knew Harry was talking about the other Harry.
"Really? He didn't look exceptionally powerful to me, quite the opposite actually."
Harry looked up at him, a strange emotion in his eyes.
"No, Draco, he is powerful, far more than me. He can learn and train himself to do what I can, but what he can do, I could never."
Draco realised what powers his friend was taking about. It wasn't the magic that could be taught, it was the other magic, the one that every person was born with but only a few could hold onto. It was the magic of purity, to be an innocent, to possess the power of forgiveness, to have an untarnished soul.
Draco picked up his drink again.
"Yeah, but he's still far too dramatic."
Harry raised an eyebrow at the comment but didn't say anything. The two friends continued to talk; Harry told him everything that happened to him and what he did to weaken the Voldemort of that world. Draco listened in silence. Harry didn't tell him how he was tricked and trapped by Voldemort. He didn't want to mention his best friend's counterpart. Instead he told Draco about what he had learned about Snape being the one to inform Voldemort about the prophecy.
"Do you think the same happened here?" Draco asked, surprised at the information.
"Probably," Harry answered. "I think that was why Snape offered to become a spy for Dumbledore. He wanted to make up for it." he shook his head in disdain.
Draco looked thoughtful for a moment.
"I don't get one thing." Draco said. "Voldemort came here and attacked mother and father, took their memories so he could use them to deal with you." He summarised. "If he saw father's memories, wouldn't he have seen that Snape was actually a spy for the Order? I mean, father was there in the chamber with us when the Aurors ambushed the manor. He would have seen Snape turn against him."
Harry shook his head.
"No, he wouldn't have seen that." He answered.
"Because Lucius made sure that memory was taken away." Harry explained. "Voldemort never saw what happened that day, Lucius took it away himself."
"Why?" Draco asked in surprise.
"To protect you." Harry answered. "He told me, when you were still in a coma and he came back. Lucius told me he had taken all the steps he could to protect you. He felt it was useless since you still got hurt."
Draco was visibly shocked.
"I never knew he did that." He mumbled.
"Voldemort didn't know how his counterpart was destroyed," Harry said. "He made a point of telling me that. He figured out what must have happened but he never saw the memory. He never saw Snape and you trick him with Damien. He still believes Snape is loyal to him."
Draco nodded, still looking surprised at how far his father went to ensure his safety.
"When were you planning on telling me?" Harry asked.
Draco tilted his head to the side.
"About Lucius," Harry said. Draco looked away, his fingers toying with the bottle but not lifting it. "Did you think I wouldn't notice he was missing?" Harry asked.
"I knew you would find out," Draco said, looking at Harry now, "I just...it's not something I look forward to telling everyone; my father is in Azkaban serving a life sentence."
"Don't worry; he won't be behind bars for long." Harry promised.
Draco shook his head.
"Don't do anything, Harry. Let him be." Draco said. "I think father doesn't mind being in Azkaban. I guess, without the Dementors, Azkaban isn't all that bad a place. Mother visits him often. Both are communicating more now than they did when they were married." Draco said with a half smile. "I think father feels like he needs to be in Azkaban. It's his repentance." Draco shrugged again at Harry's expression.
Harry was quiet for long minutes.
"I'm going to meet him." Harry said, breaking the silence. "I'll see exactly how he feels."
"Afraid not," Draco shook his head. "You have to be an immediate family member to see a prisoner of Azkaban."
Harry shot Draco a look.
"Let's see them try and stop me."
Draco shook his head, a half smile on his face as he drained his drink.
James looked up from his desk at the sound of a knock at his door. Before he could say anything the door opened and Harry walked into his quarters.
"Harry," James said happily, dropping his quill onto the stack of papers he was marking. "Come in, come in," he said excitedly getting up from his desk and walking over to greet his son. "This is a surprise. I wasn't expecting you tonight."
Harry smirked at him.
"If you want, I can go back." He joked.
"No, no, I just meant since you were here yesterday. I thought you wouldn't be back for a few days." James explained.
Harry shrugged as he sat down on the sofa.
"I was bored. Being the only Potter in Potter manor isn't as much fun as I thought it would be."
James beamed at Harry.
"Aw, you miss us!" he teased.
Harry rolled his eyes playfully.
"I miss mum's cooking, that's about it." he teased back.
James sat down across from Harry. He hated how quickly he had to return to Hogwarts when they got back from their two week trip to the other dimension. He and Lily had to resume their posts as Hogwarts Professors and Damien had to return to continue with his fifth year studies. That left Harry alone in Potter Manor but he had been visiting them regularly. At first it was only twice in the week and the weekends but now it was almost every other night. James knew Harry missed them and was coming to see them not only because he was bored.
"Have you had dinner yet?" James asked. They had finished dinner in the Great Hall about a half hour ago.
"I had a bite with Remus." He answered.
"Moony and Padfoot keeping you company?" James asked with a smile.
"Yeah, that's the other reason I'm here," he smirked. "I've got to get away from that pair!"
James laughed, knowing Harry was only joking.
"You don't need a reason to come. I hate that you're on your own." James said honestly.
Harry shifted in his seat, leaning forward, towards James.
"About that," he started, "I wanted to run something by you..."
The door behind James opened, interrupting Harry. Both James and Harry looked around to see Damien hurry inside, head lowered over a thick book in his hands.
"Dad, I give up! I can't get this..." he trailed off when he looked up from the open book and saw his brother. "Harry!" he breathed in relief, "am I glad to see you!" he darted towards him.
Harry chuckled at his younger brother's flushed appearance.
"You okay, Damy?" he asked.
"Hell, no!" Damien replied. "I've got my transfiguration practical tomorrow and I can't get this stupid spell to work!" Damien groaned as he thrust the thick book into Harry's hands.
Harry glanced at the spell the page was detailing and then looked back up at Damien.
"A Vanishing spell? This is basic transfiguration." He stated.
"No, this is O.W.L.S level transfiguration and no matter how hard I try, I can't get it to work!" Damien complained. "But since you're here and you can do wandless transfiguration, you can help me." Damien said with a relieved smile.
James coughed loudly making Damien and Harry look over at him.
"Um, hello? I was an Animagi at your age." He said to Damien.
Damien blinked confusedly at him.
"Good for you, dad." Damien replied, before turning back to Harry.
Harry smirked at the insulted look on James.
"I think what dad is trying to say is, he could have helped you with transfiguration." Harry explained to Damien.
Damien turned to look at James.
"Well, I came here to get help from you. But since Harry's here and he's... you know...better than you." Damien said matter-of-factly.
Harry smiled smugly as James rolled his eyes.
"Fine, fine, go to Harry." James said. "Harry must be a good teacher if he can get you to learn anything." he teased his youngest.
"Not cool parenting, dad!" Damien muttered as he dropped onto the sofa next to Harry.
James stalked off to his desk, pretending to be insulted. He was secretly very proud of Harry and didn't mind it one bit that Damien preferred to go to Harry instead of him.
James quickly went through the rest of his marking, rushing through his second year essays while Harry helped Damien. Just as James was finished with his pile of marking, his door opened again and this time, Lily came inside.
"James, I just wanted to check if you..." Lily spotted both her sons on the sofa. "Harry!" she greeted happily, her eyes lighting up at once. "I didn't know you were here." She hurried over to him, kissing him affectionately on the cheek. "Have you been here long?" she asked, annoyed that she hadn't known of his arrival.
"No, I just got here." Harry replied.
"Can you chat later?" Damien said, gesturing to his mum to leave. "He's helping me, very big practical exam tomorrow!"
"Which you should have been preparing for, long before now." Lily admonished.
"Mum, come on, that's not me. Why must you change me?" Damien asked with a fake hurt look.
Lily rolled her eyes before playfully ruffling his hair.
She left her two boys and went to her husband, sitting next to him so Harry could take his time teaching Damien.
"How do you even know if the vanishing spell is going to be a part of the exam?" Lily asked Damien, as she watched Harry demonstrate the spell.
"It's just a guess," Damien replied, "Everyone seems to think it will be in the practical." He twisted his wand in a complicated wave and let out a triumphant hoot as the coaster he was targeting vanished. "I did it!" Damy beamed. "Thanks, Harry!" he breathed in relief.
Harry flicked his own wand and brought back the coaster.
"Anytime," he answered. "I just need an excuse to demonstrate how poor this school is." Harry added as he put his feet up on the coffee table. "Vanishing spells at fifth year," he shook his head, "pathetic."
"Alright, can we leave Hogwarts bashing until later?" Lily asked as she walked over to her sons. She smiled warmly at Harry as she sat next to him. "Have you been looking after yourself?" she asked, taking his face in her hands.
"No," Harry replied with a smirk. "In the space of just 24 hours I've been completely careless."
Lily scrutinised Harry's face.
"I know you're only being sarcastic but your face does seem thinner than last night."
"Mum," Harry groaned, "I'm fine, I'm eating, sleeping, doing everything possible to keep myself alive, so stop worrying."
Lily dropped her hands away from him.
"I know you can look after yourself. It's just, I hate being away from you. I want us all to be together." She smiled at him again. "I just got you back and I'm stuck here while you're at home, by yourself."
Harry didn't say anything but a small smile came to his face, almost like he was enjoying a private joke with himself.
"You were about to tell me something before Damien came." James reminded as he came to sit next to Harry.
Harry shifted in his seat, sitting up now. He glanced at his mum and Damien before shaking his head at James.
"It was nothing, forget it." Harry said.
James didn't push the subject, trusting Harry to tell him whatever it was in his own time.
James and Lily made their way to dinner after a busy day of classes. It was Friday, the last day of the second week of exams. More than the students, James was glad it was over. He needed the time to recuperate from all the revision lectures he had given to his fifth, sixth and seventh years.
Just as he climbed the stairs with Lily he saw the group of fifth year Gryffindors making their way into the hall. He spotted Damien among the crowd. He smiled at his son's tired but relieved looking face.
Damien held back so he could share a few words with his parents before they went into the Great Hall.
"Hey Damy," James greeted. "So how do you feel?" he asked, referring to the end of his exams.
"Grateful," Damien replied with a sigh. "I never want to do that again!"
Lily playfully swatted him on the head.
"You have to make me proud, you hear?" she said.
The three Potters were just about to walk into the hall when the sound of a door opening stopped them. They turned around to see a very peculiar sight.
The door to the staffroom had opened and a dark haired boy walked out, followed by Dumbledore, both still deep in conversation with each other. The boy nodded his head and looked at Dumbledore, seemingly agreeing with him. Dumbledore offered a hand which the boy took, just for a second, before moving away from him. Dumbledore turned and went back into the staffroom, wearing a smile. The boy turned to come face to face with the stunned looking Potters.
Harry looked mildly surprised at the sight of his family standing before him, gaping at him.
"Hey guys!" Harry greeted.
"Harry?" James asked, not sure what he had just seen.
"What is going on?" Lily asked, coming over to Harry, spotting a thin file in her son's hands. "What just happened? Did you and Dumbledore just...shake hands?" she asked.
"As shocking as that is, yes we did." Harry smirked back.
James suddenly leaned towards Harry, eyes narrowed, studying his face carefully.
"Harry?" he asked in a low whisper.
Harry rolled his eyes.
"It's still me," Harry said, "the nasty one."
James straightened up.
"Just checking," then added, "And don't talk about my son that way. You're not nasty."
"Let's reserve judgement until we figure out what he's done." Damien said and then turning to Harry he asked, "What did you do?" in a condescending tone.
"I have some news." Harry started, his playful smirk coming into place. "You should be sitting down for this."
All four Potters were gathered on the sofas in James living quarters. They had asked the house elves to bring dinner to them in the quarter and had quickly rushed through it. Harry took his time, annoying the other three.
"Alright, now tell us why you were talking with Dumbledore?" James asked, "and in a civil manner no less." He added.
Harry gave James a look before dropping his fork onto his plate.
"Actually I was exceptionally rude to him today." Harry defended. "I told him exactly how rubbish his school was."
"You were shaking his hand." Damien pointed out.
"I was duped into that one." Harry protested.
"How?" Lily asked.
Harry took a moment before he started explaining.
"Alright, do you all remember that Duelling job Dumbledore offered me last year?"
"Of course." James answered.
"You took the job!" Damien suddenly said, looking at Harry with surprise.
"Not in this lifetime, Damy." Harry corrected.
Damien sat back.
"So, if you didn't take the job, what were you talking to Dumbledore about?" James asked, he had secretly thought Harry had taken the job too.
Harry smiled as he looked at his dad.
"See, when I was in the other world, Hermione sort of blackmailed me into helping her set up this group..." Harry started.
"The DA." Damien supplied.
"DA?" Lily asked.
"Yeah, it was..." Harry started.
"Dumbledore's Army!" Damien interrupted. "Harry told me about it."
"Damy?" Harry called.
"Shut it. I'm telling the story."
"Okay" Damien replied, with a shrug.
"Anyway, Hermione set up this group called DA so the students could learn Defence Against the Dark Arts." Harry explained. "I only did it to piss off Dumbledore and Umbridge. I thought teaching a handful of students a few spells would be easy." Harry shook his head. "Turns out, it was murder. They hardly knew how to block, never mind counter attack. Trying to get them to use simple defensive spells was like teaching them the Unforgivables." At seeing the expressions on his parents faces he added, "Which I didn't teach them, by the way."
Lily looked relieved and muttered a quiet, "Thank Merlin."
"Anyway, ever since getting back I found myself wondering what it was I wanted to do with my life." Harry looked at his family, "All of you were busy with either teaching or learning and I realised that I didn't actually mind...teaching, at least, I didn't mind what I did with the DA. I wouldn't mind doing that full time."
Damien looked around at his parents; they looked just as lost as he felt.
"I'm sorry, but didn't you just say you didn't take the Duelling job?" Lily asked.
"That's right, I didn't take the job." Harry replied. "I did something different."
"What?" James asked.
Harry smiled at them before pushing the thin file across the table, towards his parents. James took it and quickly opened it, wearing a frown.
"What is this?" he asked.
"It's my contract with the school board." Harry answered. "I offered them my services and they took it."
"I don't understand." Lily said, taking the file from James and scanning it quickly. "You're saying you didn't take the job but you've signed a contract with the school board?"
Harry grinned at her confusion.
"I don't work for Dumbledore or for Hogwarts." Harry replied. "I didn't want to become a Hogwarts Professor. So I met with the school board and offered them a deal. I'm more like an independent teacher; I have my own curriculum, my own rules, my own standards. I don't have to report back to anyone, especially not Dumbledore."
"But why would the school board agree to something like that?" Lily asked.
"They want me to teach the students how to duel effectively." Harry said simply. "They've acknowledged their shortcomings and they know what I have to offer. They agreed to my terms and gave a few of their own." Harry smirked. "Not that I'm bothered with any of them."
"So you are like an independent educationalist?" James asked, trying to figure out what Harry would be termed as.
"Sort of, yeah." Harry agreed.
"Wouldn't it have been easier to just take the job?" Damien asked.
Harry shook his head.
"No, this way, I'm my own boss. I'm not working for anyone."
"But, in reality it's the same thing." James said. "You are going to be teaching effective duelling. Whether you do it as a Hogwarts Professor or as an independent educationalist is irrelevant. In either way, you're still teaching for Hogwarts."
"Actually, I'm not." Harry said. "There's something else that I need to tell you. You know that part of Hogwarts grounds that leads into the Forbidden Forest, just behind the lake?"
"Yeah" all three answered.
"Well, that's no longer Hogwarts grounds." Harry said, "It's mine."
James, Lily and Damien just stared at Harry.
"I'm sorry, it's what?" Lily asked.
"It's mine, I bought it."
"What do you mean you bought it!?" Lily asked.
"I paid for it, it belongs to me." Harry explained.
"Harry, for God's sake," James said, shaking his head. "Explain what you're talking about."
"I bought a section of the grounds and before next term starts, there will be a small building built on it. That's where I'll be teaching, not in Hogwarts."
"How did you manage to buy a part of Hogwarts grounds?" Damien asked in awe. "I didn't think it would be up for sale."
"For the right price, anything can be sold." Harry answered.
"Okay, awkward question," James started, "where did you get the money to buy a part of Hogwarts grounds?" He didn't even want to guess how much a small section of Hogwarts grounds could cost. He was sure it would definitely empty Harry's vault.
"Oh God!" Lily gasped. "You used all your money!" she shook her head. "Harry, that money in your Potter vault was supposed to help you with your future!"
"I didn't use the money in my Potter vault." Harry said. "I've not touched my Potter inheritance."
"So, where did you get the money?" James asked.
"I think you all are forgetting that I'm the sole heir to a once very financially stable Dark Lord." Harry said.
The three Potters went very quiet.
Harry looked down at his hands resting in his lap.
"I didn't know what to do with his money." He admitted quietly. "I didn't want to use it and until now, I just ignored it. Everything he ever had has been given to me. Even Riddle Manor is mine, which is why it opened at my touch." Harry said. "But when I thought about doing this, I knew I could use the money and it felt right." Harry looked up at his family. "Voldemort always wanted to own Hogwarts. This way he owns a part of it."
Damien smiled at Harry's words. He looked up at his parents to see understanding in their eyes also.
"So, you're not actually teaching at Hogwarts. It's more like Hogwarts students are coming to you to learn effective duelling." James said.
"You're starting to finally get it." Harry grinned. "I don't work for Hogwarts. Hogwarts is coming to me. "
"Why didn't you tell us you were thinking about doing all this?" Lily asked.
"I was going to say something a fortnight ago when I finalised the deal with buying the land, but I was certain the school board was not going to agree to my terms so I held back, wanting to make sure it was happening before I said anything."
"So, everything is finalised?" Damien asked.
"I just signed the contract today. Dumbledore wanted to talk over a few things so that's why I was in the staff room with him." Harry explained.
"I can't believe this is happening." Lily said, happily. "You're going to be here, teaching with us! Oh, I'm so glad you're not away from us anymore!"
"You won't get a staff quarter, will you?" James asked, seeing the glitches in Harry's brilliant plan.
"No, since I'm not a Hogwarts professor, I don't get the perks." Harry answered.
"Where will you stay?" Damien asked. "Are you going to have to apparate back home every day?"
"It's not a problem for me." Harry shrugged. He smirked as he looked over at Lily. "But I could get a place nearer, maybe in Hogsmeade. A nice two bedroom..."
"Forget it!" Lily was quick to say. "You're not moving out, not yet."
"I'm eighteen, mum." Harry pointed out.
"Yes, but out of these eighteen years, you've only been with us for two." She fixed him with her 'no-further-argument' look. "You're stuck with us for a little longer."
"Yeah, I figured I couldn't get away that easily."
"When you do move out, can I get your room?" Damien asked hopefully.
"Damy?" Lily turned to him.
"What? His room is bigger than mine." Damien defended.
"You got first pick. You could have taken it." James reminded.
"Yeah, but I chose the room that has windows facing the back, that way I can sneak..." Damien caught himself in time. "Never mind, not important."
"When I move out, you can have it." Harry said. "It's only another few months, at the most a year." He added, glancing at Lily with a smile.
Lily raised an eyebrow.
"We'll see about that."
The summer break found all four Potters back at Potter Manor. Harry was busy, trying to get the necessary work done on his newly purchased land so his building was ready in time for September.
The news of him offering a course to teach 'Effective Duelling' had spread in the wizarding world but Harry had not expected the majority to react positively. Harry still instilled fear in most but at the same time he attracted attention and curiosity by refusing to come under the spotlight. Many wanted to know who exactly he was and a chance to learn his exceptional skills far outweighed any reservations they had.
Lily set down two plates for her two sons. She had already had her lunch with James while their two sons were busy training. She called to them again, warning them to come in otherwise she was going to come out to get them.
Harry sat down across from Damien and had not even taken a bite when a blue and white bird swooped inside and settled on Damien's shoulder.
"Hey Neelam!" Damien greeted his pet owl. "Are you hungry?"
Harry watched in barely concealed disgust as Damien fed the owl from his plate, happily passing her bits of his toast which Neelam chewed on with vigour. When Damien offered the bird his water to drink from his own glass, Harry lost his battle to keep quiet.
"Don't do that!" he said, grabbing the glass before Neelam could dip her beak into it.
Damien looked lost.
"What?" he asked.
"Do you have to share your food and water with a bird?" Harry asked.
"What's wrong with Neelam eating with me?"
"Aside from the fact that it's disgusting?"
Damien pursed his lips at him.
"Hey, you're talking about my pet." He defended.
"I'm talking about a bird." Harry said. He shook his head as he picked up his fork. "A bird? Out of all the possible presents he could have gotten you, he gets you a bird."
Damien looked annoyed.
"I love that Harry got me an owl." He defended. "Neelam is great! You're just bitter because you don't have one."
Harry gave Damien a look.
"I assure you, I'm not bitter." Harry said, "I don't like birds. I'm not good with them."
"Right, because a giant serpent is no problems but birds? Oh no, birds are just too weird!" Damien said sarcastically.
"Hey, at least I could talk with Nagini! I could communicate with her." Harry defended.
"I talk with Neelam." Damien said.
"No surprises there," Harry said. "All you do is hoot and chirrup. It's no wonder you're good with birds."
Damien turned to Neelam and made odd tweeting sounds at her. Neelam just hooted once before going back to her toast.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked.
"I just told Neelam to clip you over the head with her extra sharp talons." Damien replied.
"Just try it!" Harry challenged, "You'll have a ball of feathers to call your pet!"
"Merlin help you, Harry, if you lay a finger on my bird!" Damien threatened.
"Boys, really?" Sirius said from beside the door. "All this energy, fighting over a bird?" He shook his head. "I tell you, it's a sad day when a bird comes between two brothers."
Harry and Damien looked at each other before bursting into a fit of laughter. Sirius chuckled as he joined the boys at the table.
"I didn't know you had come over." Damien said.
"I was bored." Sirius replied as he sat down. "There's a game on, fancy it?" Sirius asked, directing the question to both Harry and Damien.
"Who's playing?" Damien asked, interested.
"Not a clue," Sirius answered grinning. "Moony mentioned it. I thought I would ask Prongs and both of you if you wanted to go watch it."
"Yeah." Damien nodded. Quidditch was Quidditch; Damien didn't care if it was a national game or just local teams having a game.
Sirius turned to his godson.
"Harry?" he questioned.
"Sure." he responded, but not as enthusiastic.
"Great! Now I just have to convince your mum." He started to get up from his seat.
"Mum won't go. She hates Quidditch." Damien reminded.
"I'm not asking her to come. I need to ask her if James can come." Sirius explained with a wink.
Harry and Damien both chuckled.
A small pop and Ginny suddenly appeared in the kitchen. She smiled brightly at the three wizards.
"Ginny! You're here!" Sirius greeted. "Do you fancy going to a Quidditch game?" he asked quickly getting to the point.
"Who's playing?" Ginny asked.
"Who cares?" Sirius answered. "It's Quidditch."
Ginny thought about it for a moment.
"Okay, sounds fun."
"Yes!" Sirius smiled. "The more people going the less chance Lily will say no."
Ginny sat next to Harry, sharing a kiss with him.
"Are you coming too?" she asked.
"Yeah." Harry nodded.
"When is the game starting?" Damien asked, finishing his lunch and getting up to clear the table.
"About four, I think." Sirius answered. He saw Ginny lean in to whisper something to her boyfriend before kissing him again. Sirius smirked.
"Aww, so sweet!" he teased.
Harry ignored him but Ginny blushed a little.
"Why are you still here?" she asked defensively.
Sirius, always ready to annoy anyone he could, sat down across from Harry.
"You both are so damn cute together!" he said. "I'm so glad your time apart didn't end the relationship." He gestured to Harry with a nod, "I didn't trust him, to be honest. I thought he might have a little side thing with another cutie in that other dimension." He smiled innocently at Harry's expression. "I know I would have!" he chuckled.
"Thanks." Harry answered dryly. "I'm so glad I'm not like you."
Sirius laughed and winked at him, showing that he was only joking. Ginny suddenly turned to look at Harry, her expression suddenly serious.
"That reminds me," she started, "guess who I met while you were away?" she asked. Without giving Harry a chance to answer she continued, "Amy Jackson," she looked Harry straight in the eyes, "do you know an Amy Jackson?"
Harry looked confused.
"Amy Jackson?" he repeated the name, "I don't know a witch named Amy Jackson." He said.
"I never said she was a witch." Ginny said. "She's a muggle. We met her when we went for a drink with Hermione at a muggle pub."
Harry's confused expression cleared suddenly and he smiled, a look in his eyes that told Ginny he remembered.
"Amy," Harry murmured the name, "Yeah, I remember; about 5ft 6, dark hair, blue eyes, long legs..."
Ginny looked murderously at Harry.
"Damn, wish I knew Amy." Sirius joked. When Ginny turned to glare at him, Sirius quickly lost his smile. "I better go and...get Prongs." He got up and quickly left.
"I thought you already had this conversation." Damien said to Ginny. He remembered the day they met Amy, how Ginny had taken the phone and left to talk with Harry.
"I stopped myself from asking that day." Ginny looked back at Harry. "I decided I wanted to be face-to-face to have this conversation." Harry just smiled, holding back his laughter as Ginny looked at him crossly. "So, you do remember her, a little too well, actually." She glowered.
"My, my, are we jealous?" he asked.
"I'm not jealous, I'm annoyed!" Ginny elaborated.
"Why?" Harry asked.
"Because you never told me you had previous girlfriends!"
"I didn't!" Harry protested. "But Alex did."
"Don't think you can get away with blaming your muggle alter ego!" Ginny warned.
Harry laughed, making Ginny swat him hard on the arm.
"She wasn't my girlfriend." Harry protested. "I just met her a few times and we had a drink."
"And went dancing." Damien added. Harry turned to look at him. "Amy mentioned it." he defended.
"Get out, Damy." Harry instructed.
"Fine," Damien smirked. "I don't want to witness this bloody massacre anyway." He grinned at Harry. "Come on, Neelam."
The owl hooted once and flew over to Damien, settling on his offered arm. Damien left Harry and Ginny alone.
"You should have told me, mentioned it even once, so I didn't feel like an absolute fool when I met her!" Ginny said.
"How was I supposed to know you two would meet?" Harry asked.
"How many others are there?" Ginny asked suddenly.
"How many other girlfriends did you or Alex have?"
"It's not important." He answered.
"It is to me!" Ginny argued.
"Why?" Harry asked. "It doesn't matter if there was one girl before you or a hundred." At Ginny's gobsmacked expression, Harry quickly added, "It's not a hundred. I just mean that the number is irrelevant. I never had a girlfriend and neither did Alex." Harry teased. "Amy Jackson and the rest were girls that I had fun with. It was never anything more. There was never a relationship there."
"Oh, so I'm the relationship girlfriend! I'm no fun!" Ginny exclaimed.
"How could you get that from what I said?" Harry asked.
"You admitted you had fun with Amy!" Ginny repeated. "You did like her, I knew it! I knew you liked her more than me!"
"No, I never said that." Harry defended. "I don't like Amy more than you. Actually, I don't like any girl more than you."
"Really?" Ginny asked in a quiet unsure voice.
Harry pulled her hand into his.
"Come on, Ginny. You're the girl I rescued, many, many times." He said playfully, making Ginny roll her eyes. "I never did that with Amy or the rest." Harry tilted her face up when she dropped her head. "You're the only girl I made a marriage reference to." He said. "If that doesn't say something, I don't know what will."
Ginny smiled, ducking her head again. She finally looked up at him, her brown eyes sparkling with happiness. She leaned forward and kissed him.
"Okay, I believe you." She whispered. "But only because of the marriage reference thing."
When Harry and Ginny walked into the living room they were surprised to see there were visitors in Potter Manor.
Frank and Alice Longbottom smiled at Harry as he entered the room, holding Ginny's hand. They got up to greet Harry, Frank shaking hands with him while Alice preferred to hug him.
"What are you doing here?" Harry asked.
"They are our friends, remember?" Lily said.
Harry scanned the room.
"You didn't bring Nigel?" he asked, disappointment evident in his voice.
"Neville's taken him out for the day. He was mentioning something about a Quidditch match later on or something." Frank explained.
"Nigel loves Quidditch. Neville's taught him how to fly already." Alice added.
Harry didn't say anything but was secretly glad Neville was bringing Nigel to the same match they were going to. He would see Nigel there.
"So, we heard the news." Frank said, bringing Harry's attention back to him. "Seems like there will be another 'Professor Potter' at Hogwarts now!"
"Nope, it'll be Harry, just Harry."
"Oh, you're not disowning us again, are you?" Damien asked, sarcastically.
"Not all," Harry answered, "just the youngest."
Damien pulled a face at Harry but couldn't help the grin that came almost afterwards. He loved bickering playfully with his brother, it felt natural.
"Everyone is talking about your 'revolutionary' course to teach effective duelling." Alice said, smiling proudly at Harry. "It's all anyone can talk about. It's the first time a course will be taught at Hogwarts that is not a part of Hogwarts standard curriculum."
"It's going to be incredible, I already know it!" Frank beamed. "We've put Nigel's name down on the waiting list already."
Harry ran a hand through his hair.
"I just hope no one pulls their kids out of the class once it starts. I'm not a very patient teacher."
"Just remember the one and only golden rule; don't get mad and blow things up." Sirius said, grinning.
"It's funny, everyone keeps saying that to me." Harry defended. "It was all the school board could talk about."
"Big mystery why?" Damien commented.
"I'm sure you'll be fine." Lily comforted. "After all, your temper, as terrifying as it is, doesn't compare to mine. If the students of Hogwarts can survive me, you will be fine."
Harry and Damien grinned. There was no question about that.
The Longbottom's were still at Potter manor but Harry had left them to be alone in his room. Ginny had left to go back to the Burrow to get changed for the game and to tell Ron and the rest about the Quidditch match, so they could come as well. Harry was supposed to be getting ready as well, as they were leaving for the game in an hour's time but Harry still had to change. He was outside on the balcony, letting the afternoon sun glare down on him. He watched the birds, spotting the blue and white ball that was Neelam, fly over the trees and disappear among the tall branches.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
Harry turned around to see Alice standing at the glass doors. She gestured to the scenery.
"Yeah." Harry responded, turning around to stare out before him.
Alice walked over to Harry.
"I hope you don't mind me coming up here. I just wanted to talk to you."
Harry nodded his head.
"It's fine." He responded.
"Harry, you might remember I wanted to talk to you, that day in the Three Broomsticks, last years' Valentine's Day?"
Harry nodded again, keeping his eyes fixed straight ahead.
"You don't have to say it. I know what you want to say." Harry said, without looking at her.
"What is it you think I want to say?" Alice asked.
Harry turned his head, just a fraction, and glanced at her before dropping his gaze to the ground.
"You want to thank me, for saving Nigel's life." Harry said. "But you don't need to. I did what I did because I had to. Nigel was only targeted because of me. It was up to me to save him."
Alice was quiet for a few moments and kept her gentle gaze on Harry.
"That's not what I wanted to say." She said finally.
"No?" Harry asked, still refusing to look over at her.
"No, I know you are fully aware of our gratitude. Frank and I could never thank you enough for what you did for Nigel and for us." Alice looked straight at Harry. "I wanted to say, I'm sorry."
Harry looked over at her, caught by the strangeness of her words.
"For what?" he asked.
"For your loss." She stated simply. "I know no one has said this to you and it's understandable why." She hesitated for a second before looking back up at Harry, at his stunned emerald green eyes. "I remember that night, when you came with the Death Eaters. The way you spoke about...about him and the dedication you had to him, your loyalty to the man you called father was frightening." She smiled sadly as she continued, "I remember feeling so lost then. I was so desperate for you to realise you were not Voldemort's son and it was only afterwards that I realised that you were in fact his son. You were brought up by him. He was all you knew since you were a baby. To lose someone that close to you, I can only imagine the pain."
Harry was rendered speechless. No one had showed any concern over the loss of Voldemort. Everyone was too busy rejoicing his demise.
"You're actually paying me condolence for Voldemort?" Harry asked.
"You lost your father, whether or not Voldemort be worthy of that title is another matter." Alice replied. "You suffered the loss of someone close to you." She reached out and touched his cheek. "And you above all, didn't deserve that." Alice studied the boy carefully before she next spoke. "I know why you spared me and Frank that day. You didn't kill me when you found out I was expecting Nigel. It was that innocent little life that was depending on me and on Frank that made you help us." She looked at Harry sadly. "You save the innocence of others because no one was there to save yours."
Harry didn't say anything but he dropped his gaze, choosing to look away from her. He felt her warm hand clasp onto his, making him look up at her. Alice smiled at him before letting go and walking to his door.
"Alice," Harry called, making her stop to look back at him. "Thanks." He said quietly.
Alice just smiled before turning and walking past the glass doors and out of Harry's room.
There was a knock on Harry's door before it opened and James walked in.
"You ready?" James asked as Harry was pulling on his shoes.
"Yeah," Harry answered. "Is Ginny back?"
"She's downstairs with your mum. Ron and Hermione came with her.
"It's quite a turnout. It's a shame we don't even know who is playing."
"It's Quidditch! Not much wrong can happen."
Harry stood up.
"Alright, I'm ready. Let's go."
He started towards the door but James stopped him.
"Just a minute, Harry. I wanted to give something to you first."
James reached into his robes and pulled out a box. He handed it to Harry who looked perplexed. He opened the box to find two glass vials sitting inside, a silvery white mist, not quite gas, not quite liquid swimming within them.
"Whose are they?" Harry asked, recognising he was holding someone's memories.
"Lucius and Narcissa's." James replied.
Harry looked up at James with surprise.
"What?" he asked.
"These are Lucius and Narcissa's memories of the times you were obliviated." James explained quickly. "I know that these probably aren't even a fraction of the memories you lost at the hands of Voldemort but at least it's something." James offered. "I know you were upset with not knowing what happened to you, especially with Narcissa." James paused, trying to see what Harry's reaction was.
The raven haired boy just stared at the two vials before his gaze lifted and he looked at his dad.
"You asked them for these?" Harry questioned.
"I wanted you to get some answers, even if it is only a few." James answered. "I meant to give you these ever since you got back but I decided to wait until we all got back from Hogwarts.
Harry stared at his dad. He knew what that last statement meant. James had wanted to wait until everyone was home before giving him the memories, because he didn't want Harry to be alone after watching them. Harry replaced the lid on the box carefully and looked back up at James, not knowing how to express his sheer gratitude.
"Thanks, dad." Harry said. "I know what it must have felt like, asking Lucius for this."
James smiled back.
"If it makes you happy, it was worth it." James turned to the door. "Come downstairs. We're leaving in about twenty minutes."
"I'll be right there." Harry replied.
James left, leaving Harry still holding the box. Slowly, Harry turned towards the balcony again, carrying the box with him.
Harry stood at his balcony, the wind ruffling his hair. He stood holding both vials of memories in his hands. He twirled the two vials between his fingers, feeling the weight of the tubes in his hands. He had the answers he had wondered about within his fingertips. The missing parts of his past, some of it was here, in his very hands.
Harry let out a breath as he placed the two vials onto the wall of the balcony. Then, he gently moved his hand forward and tipped both vials over the edge, letting them fall over. He watched as both vials glittered in the sunlight as they fell to the ground below and with a small tinkle, they smashed onto the ground, the glass breaking into millions of tiny shards. The white mist of memories blossomed into a cloud before evaporating into the air.
Harry watched until nothing was left of the cloud that had been Lucius and Narcissa's memories. He pulled away from the edge of the balcony and turned to go downstairs, only to stop at the sight of Damien, standing behind him, looking shocked.
"What did you do?" Damien asked as he hurried over to him, peering over the edge of the balcony. "Why did you smash the memories? I thought you wanted to know what happened in your past."
"I did," Harry answered calmly. He looked over at the ground below, where the shattered vials lay before looking back up at Damien. "But I figure, it's time I leave the past and concentrate on my future."
Damien smiled, he was so glad to hear Harry say that.
Harry smiled as he slung an arm around Damy's shoulder and both brothers headed downstairs, where the rest of their family and friends were waiting for them, to go to the Quidditch match.
There you go; the end of 'The Dark Prince Trilogy'. Thank you so much to everyone who read and reviewed. Please review to tell me what you thought. Cheers!!