Chapter Twenty-Five

Annoying sounds and something touching his cheek. A fly, a mosquito? He raised his hand to brush it away and gasped at the pain it caused.

"Wake up, child. Open your eyes and look at me."

He recognized the sensation on his cheek as the palm of someone's hand, and he grudgingly obeyed the insistent voice.

"What?" he whispered hoarsely, wishing that looks could kill, because the old lady would be dead meat.

"What is your name?"

His stomach jerked in alarm, and he remembered why his arm hurt. He'd been captured again, looked like. He was lying in the dark, helpless under this woman's watch, and they wanted to interrogate him for some reason.

"Evan," he whispered stubbornly, resolved that even under torture he would maintain the persona of an unremarkable wizard from Australia.

"Very good. What day is it?"

He looked at her askance. "How should I know?" he said, still whispering from the huskiness of sleep. "How long have I been here?"

"Relax, Mr. Rivers, I'm only checking on your head injury. Your father says you came here for help when you tripped and fell down the stairs at home. Is that right?"

"Oh, I remember you," he said with a relief that spread warmly through him, washing away that pinched feeling in his stomach. "I'm at Hogwarts. I can't remember your name."

"It's Pomfrey, Mr. Rivers. How did you injure your arm?"

"Don't remember," he grunted, and turned on his side, cradling his expertly-bandaged arm against his chest. "My head's fine, I'm going back to sleep."

"Let me see your pupils."

"In the morning."

He was already drifting away again, the guttering candle and the woman who held it above him already half-forgotten.

He heard someone talking, and he slowly swam up out of the fog of sleep. He could tell even before he opened his eyes that it was daylight. There was only one woman whose voice he'd ever heard while in bed, and he wondered why Anna was trying to talk to him while he was asleep. He reached out to put an arm around her, to show her that he didn't regret it and that she was worth it. . . He encountered not her wonderful, warm curves, but an expanse of empty blanket, and then his hand touched cold metal.

His eyes sprang open. His hand was gripping the frame of the small hospital bed he was laying in, and sunlight was spilling in through tall, lead-paned windows wrought in fanciful designs. He reached for the side of the bed to get his glasses, but they weren't there. He frowned, but they were nowhere about him. He squinted, trying to see the rest of the room. There was a whole row of empty beds stretched out in front of him, and he turned over on his other side, expecting to groan in pain but pleasantly surprised by the state of his arm. Looking the other direction was an occupied bed, over which Madam Pomfrey was standing and conversing with her patient, a girl with flaming red hair. Behind them was a door which led, Harry was certain, to the supply room and possibly to the lady's personal quarters, and also a wide pair of double doors which were the exit from the infirmary, if he was remembering correctly.

"Ah, look who's awake," Pomfrey said cheerfully, stepping away from the boy in the other bed to come to his side. "Well, let's have a look at you."

"I feel great," Harry protested, trying to fend her off. He didn't need anything, he did feel wonderful compared to last night. He didn't think he was one hundred percent, but he'd definitely been given a perfectly-made Blood Replenishing Potion sometime during the night that had invigorated him, and the lump on the back of his head had all but disappeared—a minor miracle after getting tossed up against the tombstone like that. "I'm fine."

"I'll be the judge of that," she retorted, and used her wand to give him a thorough examination. Her eyebrows flew up toward her hairline alarmingly. "I suppose you are. Very well, Mr. Rivers, I shall release you this very afternoon when I am sure that your head injury has left no lasting damage."

"What about me?" the girl in the other bed objected.

"You sustained a very ugly burn from your brother's firework, Miss Weasley, and you should be very grateful that I've managed to replace your skin at all," Pomfrey said, pressing her mouth into a thin line of intimidation. It had no obvious effect, since the girl simply raised one eyebrow and thinned her mouth right back. Pomfrey threw up her hands and sighed. "You may go this afternoon as well, Miss Weasley, and next time have a care around those rascals."

Harry was surprised to finally meet a member of the English contingent of the Weasley clan. He was very hesitant to mention his acquaintance with her brothers until he had a chance to speak to Sirius and figure out what their story was to be. Had Pettigrew been captured, or had he escaped? Were they coming out with their true identities? Best keep his mouth shut. In fact, he'd better not even mention his missing glasses until he knew why they were missing.

He irritably flicked hair out of his eyes, and suddenly realized that his hair was several inches longer than it had been last night. It was hanging in a shaggy fringe around his face, and his hand stopped. Best not to move it. Someone had grown it last night, for a very specific purpose. He stealthily let his hand creep under the hairline, and realized that it was covering his scar. He held a piece of the shaggy overhang out away from his forehead. Sandy, pale brown. Of course. Sirius' hair would likely be the same colour. This was the disguise, and he'd better not ruin it by flicking it out of his eyes and revealing the scar it covered to everyone.

When Madam Pomfrey had disappeared into the supply room, clucking and muttering to herself, the girl in the other bed turned to Harry and made a face, then grinned.

"So, I hear you and your father are from Brisbane," she said with enthusiasm. "Whatever made you decide to move so far? Weren't there any teaching positions in Australia for him?"

Harry thought fast. It looked like he wouldn't get a chance to speak with Sirius first, but it was obvious that he'd made the right decision when he'd acted as Evan Rivers. It didn't seem to be their normal story of travelers looking for a home, however, it seemed like Sirius had spread around that they were actually Australian.

"Oh, you know, we needed a change," he said, trying to sound casual. He kept Anna's face before him, remembering her giggles as he carefully taught himself to copy her speech patterns and rhythms. It was hard with hair tickling his forehead. He'd never let his hair go this neglected before.

"Did you really fall down the stairs last night?" she asked. "You must be awfully clumsy."

"Not normally," he said, trying to maintain his casual tone despite the sickness that gripped him when he thought about last night. "I was trying to put my things in the new bedroom and I couldn't see where I was going."

He sat up cautiously, and looked around the otherwise deserted infirmary. "Where's that other girl?"

"What other girl?"

"The one who was brought in last night injured. I thought she'd been attacked or something. She had all this brown hair going everywhere . . ."

"Oh, yeah." The Weasley girl sounded subdued. "Her parents came to get her this morning and take her out of here."

"Who is she?"

"She's in my house, Gryffindor House. You do know about the houses, don't you?"

"Of course," he said, impatient to hear the rest.

"Her name is Hermione Granger. Last night . . . I'm not sure what happened, since I only know from trying to eavesdrop on what Madam Pomfrey was telling her parents, but I know it was Viktor Krum."

"Krum?" Harry said in disbelief, thinking back to the teenager he remembered from the Quidditch match in Bulgaria. He'd known Krum was the Durmstrang champion, but it slipped to the back of his mind at this point. He hadn't been overwhelmingly interested in the Tournament.

"He was awfully disappointed about losing the Tournament, of course, and I know Granger went off to comfort him, they've been sneaking around with each other all year. He must have . . ." The Weasley girl trailed off, seeming uncomfortable now. "You know. Taken it out on her. She's from Hogwarts, after all. And she hasn't anybody to look out for her, her parents are Muggles and everything."

"Who bloody cares?" Harry growled, feeling inexplicably outraged. He kept remembering her limp body in the arms of the professor, the blood in her hair and the paleness of her skin. "She shouldn't need looking after, Krum had no right."

Surprised by his vehemence, she didn't argue.

"Professor Snape was the one who found her. What did he do to Krum? Did you hear anything about that?" Remembering the look of anger on Snape's face, he was willing to believe that Snape had left the boy tied up in his own entrails, at the very least. He'd been totally enraged at such a thing happening in his school.

"I don't know," she shrugged. "I hope it was something awful. I mean, really awful. You're right, he should have never—well. There's nothing really to say unless we know more about it."

Harry was beginning to feel guilty for talking about it at all, so he gave over and laid back in the bed with a sigh. He wanted his spectacles back, already. He wished Sirius would get his ass in here and explain what was going on. Pettigrew must have escaped again, that's the only reason for the Rivers story. I should have taken more precautions . . . but I didn't. What's that phrase about spilt milk? Harry knew that without Pettigrew to prove Sirius' innocence, things were going to be very hairy around here. Who knew what they'd say about Harry's survival? Maybe they'd say that Sirius had him trained up as a Death Eater?

The large door of the entrance opened, and he sat up in anticipation. A spill of red-haired teenagers poured through the door, and he lay back with a sigh. He was feeling perfectly well enough to leave, and he had half a mind to sneak out and go look for Sirius, since Sirius was not altogether concerned about him. But Madam Pomfrey rushed out flapping her starched white apron at the intruders, and Harry knew he'd never make it past her eagle eye.


"Aw, Gin, you're all right!"

"What're they keeping you in here for, you look fine to me!"

"All right, all right, miss, just keep your hair on!" one of the stocky, freckled twins turned and barked at Madam Pomfrey.

"We're only here to see our sister, after all!" the other twin added with an offended air.

"Crabby old besom," muttered the tall, lanky one.

The girl looked surprised and pleased to see them, but her tone of voice was cool and haughty.

"Wouldn't even be in here if it weren't for you, would I?"

"Aw, Gin, don't be like that," one of the twins muttered.

"We told you not to hold it like that, didn't we?"

"And we're the ones facing a summer's worth of grief from Mum on McGonagall's request, not you."

"You'll get your every whim catered to for weeks until you're tired of milking her," added the youngest one, half under his breath but perfectly audible to Harry, since he was standing closest to Harry's bed.

"Only two visitors to a patient!" Madam Pomfrey insisted, still hovering around their edges. She was obviously very nervous about the damage a host of Weasleys could inflict on the hospital wing, Harry thought with amusement, and likely making up this rule on the spot. After the letters back and forth with Charlie and the stories he'd heard, he was fairly sure she had good cause to worry. "One of you will have to go!"

The three boys all looked at each other with calculating expressions, then one of the twins said, "Right, okay," and turned around to face Harry. "Congratulations, you've got a visitor."

Madam Pomfrey would have started shrieking, but Harry just grinned and held out his hand to shake, still marveling at his ability to use it despite his knowledge of magical medicine. He'd never had to see its results on himself before.

"Evan Rivers," he drawled. "Which one are you?"

"Heard of us, have you?" the twin said with satisfaction, pretending to polish his fingernails on his shirt. "I'm Fred."

"You build fireworks?"

"Prototype," Fred shrugged. "Very early stages, of course, and we hope to have much better products in the future. Hence the injuries," he added, nodding toward Ginny's bed.

"Sweet," Harry said, a Johnny-ism he'd never gotten rid of. "Must have been a lot of work."

"We're no strangers to hard work, when the occasion calls for it." He wiggled his eyebrows. "Don't tell the professors."

Harry grinned, and stretched his shoulders lazily. "Me? Never."

"So, where d'you come from? You're not from Hogwarts."

"Oh, that's my new friend, the world's biggest klutz," Ginny called out from the next bed before Harry could respond. "He and his dad just got here from Brisbane, I guess his father's taking over for Moody next year."

This was news to Harry, but he just smiled with confidence.

"You'll be attending Hogwarts in the fall, then? What year are you?"

Harry's smiled wanted to fall, but he didn't allow that to happen, still trying to project a carefree attitude. "My father and I haven't really finished talking about that yet," he said, a statement that seemed safely devoid of commitment to any plan of action. Where in Merlin's name was Sirius?

As if Harry had reached out and called him there, Sirius opened the door and strolled in.

"There you are," Harry said.

"Oh, good, you're awake," Sirius said cheerfully—sticking as closely as possible to a Brisbane accent as he could manage, and Harry figured he was probably the only one in the room who'd be able to tell the difference. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm just fine, Father," he growled, reaching a hand up under his shaggy hair to scratch irritably at his forehead, pointedly drawing attention to the new hairstyle.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "You can get all upset about being stuck in the infirmary later, we've got things to do right now. Besides, you can hardly blame me for keeping busy ensuring your future happiness, can you?"

Harry snorted. "You make it sound like you've been arranging my marriage."
Sirius grinned at him. "Evan, you may not like this, but I have to tell you something . . ."

Harry threw his pillow at him. Sirius caught it one-handed and nearly swung it back, then realized he was being watched by four sets of interested eyes, not to mention one pair that were anxious to see that the patient's healing was not interrupted by boyish gestures out of grown men. He set the pillow on the end of the bed, and held out his hand to Harry.

"Come on, up you get," he said briskly—his voice, affected by the audience, sounding very, very English. "You've got to go see the headmaster and talk about a few things."

Oh, a few things? Harry thought to himself, but couldn't blame Sirius for keeping what those things were to himself at the moment. Still, he stifled laughter as he allowed Sirius to pull him to his feet. He did something he had attempted but rarely in the past, hoping it would work. He sent into Sirius' mind a flash of what he himself was seeing—or rather, not seeing. Sirius grunted in surprise and waved a hand in front of his face. There was nothing wrong with Sirius' eyes, of course, and Harry had only sent out the briefest moment, so he recovered quickly. He looked at Harry, who crossed his arms over his chest and waited for some kind of explanation.

"Come on," Sirius said, and put a hand on his back to guide him out the door. Harry snagged his shirt from the cart at the end of the bed and pulled it on. Since he'd only been dressed in a pair of loose fleece pants that he recognized as his own, he'd been feeling the need for more clothing in the presence of strangers. Putting on the shirt made him feel better, and he recognized it as one that had been in his backpack on the plane. Sirius had obviously been back at the house.

"Here," Sirius said, taking Harry's glasses out of his shirt pocket and slipping them to Harry. "Put them on, but let's not run into anybody on the way to the office, if we can help it."

"Part of the disguise?"

"Yup. Dumbledore and I talked about it—argued about it, really—for a good hour, but we finally think we've got something. The younger students aren't likely to know what you're supposed to look like, they've forgotten if they did know, and some minor changes should be good enough for the older students. The adults are pretty much on our side, so they'll be doing what they can to help, not to expose us."

"I take it this means I'll be attending here in the fall?"

Having been from the hospital wing to Dumbledore's office just the night before, Harry nevertheless was unsure of himself and allowed Sirius to lead the way. Sirius turned toward him to answer.

"Yes. That was part of the reason I was ready to come back, we talked about this. You've got to get formal schooling and certification if you're to have any future. But with the colour of your hair, which will be easy to maintain in secret, and the length, which will be a much less conspicuous way to cover the scar around your dormitory than makeup, although more chancy—"

"And I'll be getting contact lenses this summer, I take it?"

Sirius shrugged helplessly. "It'll make you look less like James and Lily. We'll take what we can get. This is a temporary solution at best."

"How are we going to make it seem like I'm just some random student that's going to be attending here, conveniently arriving in the country just when Harry Potter did?"

"Nobody knows Harry Potter is anywhere, at the moment."

"Except Voldemort and his followers."

"Yes, except Voldemort. But I'll let Dumbledore explain why he's likely to keep quiet about it for a while, as well as how it will be to our benefit when word does get out. I'd like your input on that before we come to any final decisions, anyway. You've got just as much say in this as anyone, and Merlin knows you've got plenty of insight. This comes to nothing if you don't like it."

"Dumbledore say that?"

Sirius grinned, and Harry thought of the sharp canine teeth of his Animagus form at that moment. "No, I did. Dumbledore will live with it. You're not his godson."

"True. Thankfully. Hey, does this mean you didn't catch Peter? He got away?"

A truly dangerous look came over Sirius, but he shook his head. "No. We've got him. He did turn into a rat and slip your ropes, of course, but Kreacher had to obey you, so he couldn't open the door and let him out. What did you do with his wand, by the way?"

Harry thought back over the previous night and tried to penetrate his fuzzy mental state and faulty memories. "Uh . . . I think it's in the bushes by the front door."

"Oh, great, we'll get it later. Anyway, being a rat was really his only way of escape. I was anticipating it, and I Apparated inside so he wouldn't have a way to slip out while I was coming in. I forced him back into human form and the headmaster and I escorted him to jail."

"The Ministry knows you're innocent? You're pardoned?"

Harry was ready to gush enthusiastically over the great news, but something in Sirius' face stopped him.

"Sort of. It's a little bit complicated."


"I'm not here," Sirius explained slowly. "Because if I were here, you would be here."


Sirius stared at him, puzzled. "Isn't that how you want it? I'm trying my best to keep your identity secret because I knew you'd want to keep a low profile. I mean, at least for a little while, until we can figure out what's going on in this country and where Voldemort's strengths are. Public opinion isn't something I wanted you to have to deal with right now."

Harry was surprised, but he shouldn't have been. Sirius always thought of him first, and always took the course of action that he thought would be best for Harry. "You're right," he said, but slowly and carefully as he thought about it. "It is what I want, and you're right about needing to get a handle on things first. Secrecy is good. I need press coverage like I need a case of boils." Those were not pleasant. Ugh. Damn Sascha straight to hell for his damned experimental lessons.

It was then that Sirius and Harry figured they should stop whispering in the corridor and should actually ascend to Dumbledore's office. Anything from this point on was better hashed out between all three of them, behind closed doors.

"I have made contact with everyone," Dumbledore said with no preamble when they entered the office. Harry was taken aback, although he maintained a serene exterior, but Sirius didn't miss a beat.

"Everyone alive, you mean."

"Yes, of course," Dumbledore said with perfect politeness despite the tactless comment. The beautiful bird that sat on its perch in front of him let out a trilling noise of disapproval, one gleaming eye fixed on Sirius. "There are not so many of us left as I would like," he admitted quietly, one hand stroking the bird. "But what remains of the Order has been recalled."

"I take it new recruits are pretty high on the priority list," Sirius said, taking a chair calmly. Harry remained standing. He wasn't nearly sure enough of himself yet.

"It will have to be."

The bird, preening its vibrant feathers, trilled again, much more softly, rubbing its head against Dumbledore's hand.

"Alastor is already thinking along those lines. He tells me there are promising young Aurors that he must speak to immediately."

"How are we going to do this?" Harry said, feeling as though he were interrupting, but he was feeling lost in what promised to be an intricate plan. "How are you going to convince people that Voldemort's in power, without me?"

"Without you?" Dumbledore repeated, sounding surprised.

"I mean, if I'm supposedly not here, then I can't have been the witness to all of it, and it will be very hard to get people to believe what happened without a witness."

"You're right," Sirius spoke up, "and the headmaster doesn't like it, but that's the way it's going to be. You're still dead, I'm still a fugitive, and Evan Rivers and his father are joining Hogwarts. It's what's best for us, right now. It will make it more difficult to get people to believe they are needed in the fight against Voldemort, but we'll manage."

"What about Neville Longbottom?" Harry asked quietly. "Does he know about the prophecy?"

"He knows some," Dumbledore said, looking stunned that Harry had thought of the other boy. "I have spoken with him. He is determined to continue in his role as long as is needed. He does not know that you have returned, he will believe you are what you say you are."

This is not going to end well, Harry thought, with a sense of doom. When the shit hits the fan . . . oh, boy.

And he determined, very privately and without meeting either man's eyes, that he would talk to Neville himself. The two of them would have a conversation about this. When Harry met him, and had a chance to gauge him, he would tell Neville the truth. But there were more pressing concerns at the moment.

"How long is this alias going to last? And isn't the Ministry involved, if Pettigrew is under arrest? Somebody there has got to know about all this."

"You're right," Dumbledore said slowly. "There are a few people who are aware of the whole truth, but most simply know that Peter Pettigrew framed Sirius Black and has been captured at last. That you and Sirius have arrived in the country is being kept very quiet." His face made it clear how unhappy he was about all this. He knew there was no way for this to end well, just as Harry was thinking. He didn't like it at all. And Harry knew that he'd set this all up because Sirius had threatened to yank Harry back out of the country and disappear again. Not that it was likely to work as well the second time, but it would waste months that ought to be spent subverting Voldemort's influence. This was the way to ensure their cooperation. Harry had mixed feelings about that. It was a little bit irrational of Sirius to think that what was best for them was more important than what was best for the country, but he understood. And he couldn't ask Sirius to change his mind, because he didn't want to. The idea of simply declaring himself and stepping out into the public eye made him feel queasy, and he knew he preferred it this way.

"What about Voldemort?"

Dumbledore's lips thinned. "He will keep quiet, for now."


"Because he will be wondering why we have chosen this path. He will think we have a much more elaborate plan than we truly do, and he will be waiting for us to show our hand, while he works behind the scenes to understand this. It will serve him to have the world believe that things go on as normal, you see. It is in his best interests for the public to believe he has not returned, so he may gain power in secret. He will allow your presence to go unremarked, for now, so that he can rebuild and try to discover what we are doing."

"I see. That makes sense," Harry admitted, thinking he'd better pay a lot more attention to his dreams, assuming he would still have them after last night. There had been nothing plaguing him during his stay in the infirmary. He could only hope—but maybe it would be better if he did dream. He could help them stay connected. "And the Ministry?"

"Has its own designs," Dumbledore muttered.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sirius spoke up, having been content thus far to let Harry and Dumbledore work things out.

"It means they are negotiating with me. We have not reached a decision just yet."

"A decision about what?"

"Their eyes on this school," he said, smiling painfully. "We shall see. Now, Harry, you must pardon my manners, I have not introduced you! This is Fawkes, my phoenix. Fawkes, meet young Harry Potter."

"Um, pleased to meet you," Harry said uncertainly, trying to remember if he'd ever studied phoenixes. Maybe it was time for him to get back into school.

"So, you're going to be teaching here, huh? No big change there, but I guess you'll have to have some more complicated lessons than you're used to. I'll have to take your class, I guess." Harry looked at Sirius, who was reaching for another sandwich off the plate they were sharing in Dumbledore's office while the venerable (alleged) leader of the Order of the Phoenix was at the Ministry engaged in further negotiations. "Isn't the Defense position supposed to be cursed?"

"Well, yes," Sirius admitted through a mouthful of sandwich. He swallowed. "But we'll see about that."

Harry was working on his sandwich very absentmindedly, more busy thinking over everything that was happening today; the plans they were making preoccupied every spare brain cell. It'll all fall apart, he kept thinking. It was morose, but he couldn't get rid of it. This plan was full of holes, and it wouldn't last long. But maybe it will last long enough for us to strike back. He was certain that Dumbledore and Sirius were thinking the same thing, and he really doubted anyone outside of the three of them knew everything. We all know it won't work for long, and we're all just hoping it'll work long enough to be of some use to us. We're keeping Voldemort from making any dramatic moves, we're keeping ourselves as safe as possible in disguise at Hogwarts, and then there's the Ministry . . .

"What about your pardon?" Harry asked suddenly.

"What about it?" There was a shifty look in his godfather's eyes.

Harry sighed. "Whatever it is, tell me."

Sirius sighed back, and took the folded-up newspaper off Dumbledore's desk. He unfolded it and handed it to Harry. Harry was shocked, and taken aback. The front page screamed Pettigrew's arrest in huge block letters, and the photograph showed the scruffy man trying to duck away from the camera with nervous twitches.

"Um, so I guess we went public with that," he said slowly, scanning the article. "And they're begging you to come home and tell them where I am?" He looked up. "How is this good for our disguise?"

"Actually, it's perfect," Sirius said, and took another bite. Harry forgave him, he'd been busy all night taking care of things and he likely hadn't eaten since breakfast yesterday. Neither had Harry, for that matter, but he just couldn't find it in him to be very hungry in light of all this.

"I think I get it," Harry said. "If you're welcome to come home, there'd be no reason for you to be hiding under an alias. It will actually work in our favour." For a while.

"Mm-hmm," Sirius agreed, and took a huge swig of pumpkin juice. "I'd forgotten what the house elves' cooking was like here," he said with satisfaction, patting his stomach. "Not that I don't appreciate it when you do it," he added hastily.

"Likewise," Harry said with narrowed eyes, and took a much more leisurely sip of the coffee he'd requested to get himself going and rid himself of the fuzzy feeling in his mouth. "Are you in a hurry or something?"

"Yes. We've got an appointment with an optometrist, a Squib who owes Dumbledore a few favours."

Harry groaned. "Contact lenses?"

Sirius shrugged. "Brown ones."

"Brown?" Harry said, making a face. "I mean, I get the reason they can't be green, but brown?"

"Is there something wrong with brown eyes?" Sirius asked.

Harry's mind, with a life of its own, shot to the very pretty red-haired girl with the very awesome older brothers that he'd talked to this morning. The pretty red-haired girl with the pretty brown eyes.

"No, nothing," he said.

This was a crappy plan, but he would get a chance to see what she looked like with his corrective lenses. Sirius gave him a questioning look, but Harry ignored it and went back to work on his sandwich. I'll get to try out for the Quidditch team! I'll finally get to play with other people! Maybe she plays Quidditch . . .

"It's going to be a very trying summer," Sirius said, changing the subject.

"Why's that?"

"We're going to be stuck in the house most of the time."

Harry thought about Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. Cobwebs, dust, evil artifacts, depressing memories . . . plus a restless Sirius and a creepy house elf, loathing each other and probably not willing to sit down and talk about it.

"Capital," Harry muttered. He reached for the coffee. He was going to need it.

A/N: This chapter turned out to be longer than I anticipated, but I'm sure you guys don't mind! I know that this chapter raises as many questions as it answers and that it leaves several issues still open, but don't worry! This is only the end of Book One, and there is plenty more to the story! I will start Book Two as soon as possible. Due to having been in a couple of summer classes, I haven't even started writing Book Two yet, but it is fully outlined. I will start posting it as soon as I have a good set of chapters prepared.

A couple of things to say about this last chapter, just to head off a few comments . . .

I refuse to answer questions about any future romantic attachments Harry might have. You may speculate to your heart's content, but I will neither confirm nor deny.

I know Remus did not appear and there was no reunion between him and Sirius. It will happen very early in Book Two, so be patient. There was really no room for it here.

With that, this first book of The Wise One Trilogy is concluded. My many thanks to my many reviewers, who have made writing and posting this story so very enjoyable. Thanks to the 430 people who have chosen to call this story a favourite of theirs, and especial thanks to those who have made a point to review and tell me why. It's been loads of fun, and I hope you'll stick around for more! If you get really tired of waiting during the few weeks it's going to take me to prepare for Book Two, there's always my other series . . .

You've been wonderful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.