Title: What It Means...
Warnings: Harry-in-Azkaban, betrayal, angst, Dark-but-not-Evil!Harry, Slightly-Too-Powerful-To-Be-Realistic!Harry, character death
Summary: At the end of Fifth Year, things go as planned for some and not for others. When Harry is sent to Azkaban for killing his best friends, who will stand at his side and who will turn their back?
A/N: Because I can: A million thanks and candy to all my reviewers (though this fic has none as I'm writing this note, sine it's not yet posted). General devotion and love for my wicked beta, who will probably never let me live down Draco's four wands. Also, praises to the HP Lexicon, without which I would have been left flailing in the middle of chapter two for another couple of months. And last but not least, a great big 'thank you' to my mother, who allowed me to take over her laptop for almost the entirety of my spring break so I could finish this fic, with only a few complaints on her part.
Sorry for the day-late post, guys and gals. I was up at 3am yesterday morning and the last thing on my mind was posting this chapter. It was, actually, something along the lines of, "Shit, work till 11, then meet girlfriend for lunch, then hall meeting, then take exam, then try and take nap, then dinner without girlfriend, then meeting about this weekend's insanity, then SLEEP GODDAMNIT!" Uhm, so, yeah. (It didn't help that my normal work schedule's over now that classes are done, so I didn't remember on my way to work yesterday, like I usually do. -sweat- ) SORRY!!
Also: I am by no means a speech writer, though after two semesters of speech one would think I could manage it by now. -dry look-
Epilogue ...To Live
Harry smiled as he took his seat next to a grinning Neville, who was wearing his new Auror robes, at the ceremony. Draco settled into the chair on Neville's other side while Sirius and Remus took the seats on Harry's free side. Over the sounds of the hundreds of people filling the seats behind them and the stands of the quidditch pitch above them, Harry could just barely make out Peeves' shouts of glee as a few of his pranks went off. Harry wondered how long it would take for the Bloody Baron to lose his patience with the poltergeist and order him to settle down in the box made for the various ghosts attending, including a row of ghosts that only the other ghosts and Harry could see. A glance back at the box showed Lily Potter scolding her husband while an amused Fred and George mocked her behind her back.
Sirius squeezed Harry's shoulder. "What are they up to?" he asked.
"Dad must have done something to upset Mum; she's scolding him something fierce."
"I bet James helped Peeves," Remus offered with a fond smile. "I know Sirius did."
Sirius huffed. "Have to let the little bugger have his fun now, or he'll be booby-trapping the cottage for the next month."
"We could always just send him back here," Harry pointed out, amused.
Draco snorted. "Sure. Send him my way, why don't you?" the newest Hogwarts flying instructor said wryly.
"At least you have some measure of protection from him," Neville pointed out. "Think about the other professors."
"My thoughts on their behalf are always filled with mocking laughter," Draco assured the Gryffindor.
"Wotcher," Tonks said as she and Kingsley slid into their seats behind Harry's group. "What are you lot up to?"
"Mocking my fellow professors who don't have Harry as a close friend," Draco replied pompously.
Harry snorted in amusement and turned to Tonks. "Nervous?"
Tonks scoffed. "Hardly. After spending a month telling the trainees what all happened and writing out a hundred reports on the stupid battle I'm mostly over it. Will you be okay?"
Harry grimaced. After the final battle with Voldemort, he'd become somewhat of a shut-in so he didn't have to deal with all the reporters clamoring for an interview. Other than a few trips to St Mungo's to see Neville and giving his statement at the Ministry the day after the battle, this was the first time he'd been out in the public eye in a month and a half.
Sirius squeezed his shoulder again. "Dorcha will be fine. The reporters have to stay up in the stands."
Kingsley nodded. "The Minister is as tired of them as you are."
Harry snorted. "So there's something Scrimgeour and I see eye-to-eye on after all?" The Minister had been quite intent on dragging Harry before the Wizengamot for his use of Dark magic as Dorcha, not to mention his apparent escape from the prison. However, the Aurors refused to arrest Harry and the Wizengamot voted to not have a trial in light of Harry being both a war hero and wrongfully imprisoned at the time.
"You're a little too short to be seeing eye-to-eye with him on anything, Harry," Sirius pointed out teasingly. Remus elbowed him in the ribs while Harry rolled his eyes and the others laughed.
A large, circular thing appeared above their heads and an image of the stage a few feet in front of Harry's group appeared for those up in the stands. That was, for all intents and purposes, the warning that they were about to get started. A quick glance up at the stands found the glaring Baron herding a pouting Peeves to their box, so Harry settled back into his chair and mentally went over his speech for what felt like the hundredth time since that morning.
The stadium fell silent as Dumbledore slowly made his way from his seat, across the aisle from Harry's group, and up onto the stage. Leaning on a cane – his defeat at Voldemort's hand had almost cost him his right leg – he looked his age even as he smiled and twinkled at the gathered witches and wizards.
"My friends," Dumbledore boomed, "thank you for coming. We're here to reflect upon both our losses, and our gains. Yes, Voldemort has fallen, but we lost many in our fight for justice. No one here has been free of loss." Dumbledore paused for a moment and let everyone think on that.
"The list of dead is long indeed, but, friends, we cannot rebuild our community if we are intent on mourning those we've lost. Family and friends would want us to move on and remember them fondly. We have triumphed, and it is in their names that we have done so! Our ability to mourn those who have passed on is our strength, and was Voldemort's downfall!" He paused for a roar of cheers from the crowd, smiling up at them.
Harry chanced a glance back at the box of ghosts and saw smiles on all the faces there. Yes, the dead did want them to move on, Luna and Ginny had told Harry that often enough in the past weeks.
Dumbledore nodded as the noise died back down. "Remember the dead, but keep the living also in your minds and hearts. Without our brave Aurors and the resolute staff at St. Mungo's, we would still be at war even now. Above all else, let's not forget the one who destroyed the tyrant intent on killing us all: Harry 'Dorcha' James Potter!"
With a deep breath and another squeeze to his shoulder from Sirius, Harry got up and walked to the stage amid the overwhelming cheers of the stadium. Dumbledore and he shook hands formally, then Dumbledore hobbled off while Harry took up his position at the podium, which had a sonorus spell cast on it. He waited until the cheers had mostly died off before starting to speak:
"Fellow wizards and witches, families and friends, thank you. After what has seemed like a lifetime of war, we have found peace. Yes, I took down Voldemort, but if it hadn't been for the many others there at St Mungo's that day, it would have never happened. The battle was a madhouse, I must tell you. There is little glory to be found in murder of the sort Voldemort reveled in.
"Draco Malfoy once asked me why I would offer him my protection, knowing of his background as I did. In school, we traded insults over blood purity and money, the statuses of our parents and our stance in the coming war. To Draco's question, I posed my own: Had he seen people die before? Had he killed people himself? Did he enjoy their pain? Voldemort and many of his Death Eaters found pleasure in the pain of others. Our inability to find joy in that act is the very thing that sets us apart from those men and women.
"While I was in Azkaban, I had a lot of time to reflect on the things that had brought me there. Those who know me have often heard me complain of the fickle public. A wise man I once knew said simply that people never looked beyond the surface. They believe what they're told and look no further. When an article in the Prophet says so-and-so is a mad lunatic, we tend to take that at face value and forget what we may actually know about that person. Always question your sources. Rarely are things as they seem.
"One last thing, and then I'll hand this show over to Minister Scrimgeour. I have spent time with the dead. I suffered their legacies at school and their taunts in Azkaban. I have found life-long friends in the ghosts of Hogwarts and the Ministry, but never any enemies. One thing I can say of them, they've lived their lives and seen countless others pass by. When you are in need of a guide, they make some of the best. They do not judge on sight, rather, they will sit down and listen. And further yet, they can see things we could only dream of. They also, the Bloody Baron is constantly reminding me, make excellent spies.
"With that note, thank you again for being here and let me had the podium over to Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour!" Harry called, then stepped back to shake hands with the Minister in a show of non-existent solidarity and retook his seat.
Scrimgeour's speech was long and tedious – a recap of both Dumbledore and Harry's speeches as well as much of the same that had been appearing in papers regularly since the battle. Once he was finished, various other Ministry officials and some Aurors who'd been at the battle took their time with long speeches. By the time Dumbledore and Scrimgeour returned to the stage together – to hand out Orders of Merlin to those who'd been a part of the war – Harry was dozing lightly on Sirius' shoulder while the other four tried their best to stay awake.
Sirius elbowed Harry awake as Dumbledore stepped up to the podium. "Let us move on to our awards. Will the following please come forward to the podium for their Order of Merlin, Third Class: Dedalus Arnold Diggle, Filius Flitwick, Hestia Elizabeth Jones, Neville Frank Longbottom, Remus John Lupin, Minerva Aurora McGonagall, Sturgis Steven Podmore, and Severus Augustus Snape." The group was made up almost entirely of Order of the Phoenix members that hadn't made it to the battle for one reason or another.
A number of deceased Order members and Aurors had also received Order of Merlins of varying classes, but those awards would be going to their families or be hung in the Ministry of Magic later. The full list of Order of Merlin recipients had been in the Prophet that morning and was also listed in the pamphlets that had been given to everyone attending the ceremony.
The list of Order of Merlin, Second Class recipients that Dumbledore called out listed the surviving Aurors and staff of St Mungo's who'd fought in the final battle, as well as the Minister, some normal citizens who'd managed a few spells during the battle and a gleeful Peeves – the only poltergeist to ever receive an award of any sort.
When the Second Class awards were done, Dumbledore handed the podium over to the Minister. "Now, the following have shown admirable dedication in ridding our world of Voldemort and his followers. Will the following please come forth to receive their Order of Merlin, First Class medals: Sirius Orion Black, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody, Harry 'Dorcha' James Potter, Kingsley Erasto Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Andromeda Tonks and Ginevra Molly Weasley."
Harry walked up to the stage with his friends and took his medal, as well as Ginny's, since she couldn't. The rest of the Weasley families' medals, Harry knew, would be arriving at the cottage later that evening. Ginny had said, when asked, that her family would have wanted Harry to have all their medals, for he was a part of their family. As Harry turned to return to his seat, Dumbledore motioned for him to remain. Mentally frowning, he remained standing next to the Headmaster as the others returned to their seats.
The Minister nodded to him, then turned back to the podium. "While looking through Ministry records last night, I found that we had missed someone during our award ceremony at the end of Voldemort's first reign: Harry Potter. If not for Mr Potter, Voldemort would have continued on his way to destroying everything in sight and we would not have had the thirteen year respite we enjoyed. When I mentioned the mistake to Professor Dumbledore, he agreed that Mr Potter deserved a medal for his first defeat as well, even though it was an ancient ritual done by Lily Marie Evans Potter that really ended Voldemort that night. In light of all this and on behalf of the Ministry of Magic, I award Mr Harry 'Dorcha' James Potter a belated Order of Merlin, Second Class!"
Harry took the offered medal numbly as the stadium shook with the resulting cheers. Dumbledore placed a hand on Harry's shoulder and smiled at him. "You've done some great things, Harry. Be proud of them, just as so many others are proud of you."
Harry nodded and looked out at the hundreds of people who'd come to the ceremony. In the back, he saw a line of cheering, ghostly faces and he smiled. His family was proud of him, and that was enough for him.
Harry sighed as he slid into the bench across the table from Rita Skeeter, smirking when she blinked at him in confusion. He'd made himself look like he had when he'd caught Lucius, so he wouldn't be mobbed. "Rita," he said quietly. "I believe we have an interview scheduled?"
Blue eyes widened with understanding and she smiled. "Excellent disguise. I got a room upstairs for us to use."
Harry nodded and stood, then motioned for the reporter to lead the way up. After the award ceremony, he'd been bombarded with owls from various reporters asking for an interview. After a week of trying to ignore the mess, Remus suggested that Harry pick a reporter and give an interview, but state in the interview that it was the only one he would be giving. Harry had agreed and, after looking through all the letters, realized that there was one name that hadn't appeared in all the owls: Rita Skeeter.
Naturally, Harry wanted to know why she hadn't been bugging him, so he asked Draco, who would be the mostly likely to know, with his connections. Draco revealed that Rita's younger brother had been killed by Voldemort the year after Harry had been sentenced to Azkaban and her work after the death had been poor quality, so papers stopped publishing her work. After a couple of months, she disappeared from sight, though Draco was pretty certain she hadn't been killed.
Harry had written a quick note after that to the missing reporter, asking if he could give her an interview for the Prophet. A week later, her surprised letter had come back. She briefly filled him in on her status of no longer being a reporter and suggested he ask someone who would actually get it published. Harry's response was a simple, "I don't want another reporter, I want you." So Rita had suggested they meet at the Leaky Cauldron at noon the following Monday.
With that in mind, Harry compared the Rita in front of him to how he'd known her in the past. There was an air of sadness around her that he'd never sensed before and she had lines on her face that Harry recognized from his days of too little sleep and constant nightmares. Her once-blonde hair hung dully, as it had in Harry's fifth year after she'd been unemployed for so long and was a light brown with a few streaks of grey. She'd also done away with her dramatic robes and jeweled glasses, leaving behind a conservative black muggle suit and small glasses. Considering the muggle clothing, Harry decided she must have hidden herself away in the muggle world, where she wouldn't make such an easy target.
Once in the room, Harry paused to throw up a slew of privacy and silencing charms before taking the seat across from Rita at the small table in the room and shifting back to his normal form. Then he offered her a sad smile. "I'm sorry, by the way, about your brother. Draco told me when I asked him about you."
Rita nodded. "Thank you. If you know that, you also should know that no one's publishing my writing?" Harry nodded. "Then I'll ask again, 'Why me?' And, please, give me an actual answer this time."
Harry sighed and settled back in his chair. "I'm sure you've heard that the war is over?" Rita nodded with a faint smile. "Well, as expected, I got bombarded with owls from reporters asking for an interview. It was a little overwhelming." He offered her a wry smile and she chuckled. "Remus suggested I pick a reporter and give an interview, but make it clear that was the only interview I was giving. I was going through the owls, reading the names of all those reporters and I kept thinking, 'Where's Rita's letter?' But there wasn't one, so I asked Draco about you and he caught me up on your fate, as it were.
"I don't really know why I was so fixated on giving the interview to you, but it might have to do with you being the only reporter I've had more than a passing acquaintance with. You were absolutely nasty until Hermione caught you at the end of the tournament. Then, when I decided to give a full interview of Voldemort's return, Hermione got you, and you did it, even though popular opinion went the other way at the time. Well, given, you didn't have much of a choice at the time..."
"Yes," Rita agreed blandly. "Miss Granger was a piece of work."
Harry snickered. "That's one way to put it." He sighed and gave the woman a blank look. "What I guess I'm trying to say is: You're the only reporter I actually know, so you're the only reporter I'm comfortable with."
Rita leaned forward with an amused look. "Did I hear you right? You're comfortable with me?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yes, Rita. I'm comfortable with you. Merlin only knows why."
"First time for everything." Rita shook her head. "Okay. So, say I do your interview and no one will take it. Then what?"
"Their loss," Harry replied easily.
Rita laughed and shook her head again. "Right. Saying they actually take it, you're still going to have reporters after you for regular interviews and quotes about things that are going on."
Harry huffed, having already had this conversation with Draco. "If I have an opinion about something that I care to share with the rest of the world – which rarely happens; I'm a fan of people thinking for themselves – then I'll only tell you. Exclusive interview rights, if you will."
Rita gaped at him.
"Look. I've had enough of my life spread all over the front page of the Prophet. All I really want at this point is to continue living in peace with what's left of my family and friends. I'm well aware that I'm a legend in our world and everyone will want to know everything I'm doing, but some things I just won't share. Draco said that the best way to keep any part of my privacy is to put my foot down and give exclusive rights to only one or two reporters. What he said made sense, so it's what I'm doing."
Rita shook her head and laughed. "You're a piece of work yourself, Harry."
"Hermione and I are friends for a reason," Harry agreed.
"Alright. Say I take you up on these exclusive interview rights. What are your terms?"
"If I say no comment, I mean no comment. Same goes for if I say I'm not giving an interview." Rita nodded. "Also, if I see that bloody quill of yours, I'll destroy it. And then find another reporter."
Rita laughed. "Probably a good thing I got rid of that quill when I couldn't get any more stories published. But that's it? Nothing about snooping?"
Harry narrowed his eyes. "There are wards up around where I live that alert us to any Animagi not already worked into the wards. If you snoop, be ready to face down the Aurors who will come running when the alarms go off. I can assure you that Tonks, Kingsley and Neville will shoot first and ask questions later."
Rita winced. "Point taken." She took out a muggle note pad and pen, which earned her a raised eyebrow from Harry. A quick spell and the pen was charmed to write down everything they said. "Alright, Harry. Let's go through everything briefly, then I'll touch more on the interesting things. Let's start with the incident that landed you in Azkaban..."
'HARRY "DORCHA" POTTER: HUMAN LEGEND
'written by Rita Skeeter
'Four years in exile may have dulled my popularity, but
not even five years in Azkaban Prison could diminish
Harry Potter. Imagine my surprise, if you can, when an
owl landed at my kitchen table one morning two weeks after
the award ceremony to recognize those who fought against
Voldemort. The owl had a letter from our Saviour, Harry
Potter. He wanted to give an interview – needed to, really
– but he didn't want to give it to just anyone. Harry wanted
me. When I asked why, he said he was comfortable with
me, much to my surprise.
'So, as any reporter with half a brain would, I took him up
on his offer and met him in the Leaky Cauldron. We got a
room upstairs and got to it.
'I can honestly say, now that I've spoken to him again, that
Harry Potter is a legend. But he's not a fairytale legend that
is only there to save the world from evil and get the girl. No.
Harry is the sort of legend who is also a real person. He was
wronged by all of us and faced the most losses in the war
against Voldemort, but he didn't turn his back on us when he
could have. He fought for us, despite an ugly stay in Azkaban
that never should have happened and his own mourning for
the many people he lost.
'Harry hunted Death Eaters from Azkaban and even after,
despite the Minister's call for his arrest. He taught himself
how to become an animagus and an air elemental while stuck
in a dreary cell with little food and only the words of a
werewolf and, at the time, an escaped convict to give him hope.
He taught himself to fight against impossible odds and evaded
Ministry law with an ease that makes even me jealous.
'Despite past rivalry, when Lucius Malfoy begged Harry to
protect his son, Harry did. He dragged Draco Malfoy out of
the reach of a furious Voldemort and made him a part of his
painfully small family. And, later, he always took care to
protect the families of the Death Eaters he captured as long as
they weren't marked.
'After the final battle that ended in Voldemort's defeat, Harry
thought first of the safety of those he'd tried to protect with a
ward on the door in the Janus Thickey Ward. Once there, he
cared only for the surprising recovery of his friend, Neville
Longbottom, who had been placed there with his parents after
being tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange.
'When I asked Harry how he'd felt when he was given his two
Order of Merlins, he said, "I don't know if I actually deserve
them, Rita. The first time, it was my mother who defeated
Voldemort. This time, Professor Dumbledore wore him down
for me, and I was disguised as Dorcha at the time, so he didn't
see me as a threat. If I'd looked like myself, I'm not sure I would
have been able to bring him down. That's not to say I'm not glad
to have the metals – Ginny, Sirius and Remus knocked some
sense into me about that – but I don't think I deserve all the fame.
I wasn't the only person out there. Yes, I brought the bastard
down, but I wasn't alone. I wish people would remember everyone
else that fought and give them the same regard they give me."
'At the end of our interview, I asked Harry what he plans to do,
now that Voldemort's dead. "I plan to enjoy a little peace and
quiet with my family. I suppose that, after a few months, I'll
probably tire of the cottage and want to find a job or visit some
sights around the world. But, until then, I'm quite happy where I am."
'That, fellow witches and wizards, is our Saviour, Harry "Dorcha"
Potter. He risked his life to save the world we live in and lost his
family and friends so we might live with our own in peace. Harry
may indeed be a legend of the same breed as Albus Dumbledore
and Merlin himself, but he's also a human, who is able to forgive
even the most grievous of crimes against him. He's the wizard we
should all aspire to be, yes, but aim to be the human, rather than the
For full interview with Potter, turn to page 7.
For reactions to Potter's interview at the Ministry, turn to page 9.
For an Auror's look at the St Mungo's Battle, turn to page 2.
A/N: Woot! I've finished another fic!. -dances- Life is good. (Now I just have to finish some of my other fics... -.-)
Leave me a review and tell me what you think?