A/N: It's been a long road, readers. Here's the end of it. The epilogue of 'Time, Mr. Potter?'
"Why, Mr. Anderson, why, why? Why do you do it? Why? Why get up? Why keep fighting?"
"Because I choose to." – Agent Smith / Neo – Matrix Revolutions
Epilogue – 'All Good Things...'
Daily Prophet – One Month On
It's been a month since the death of Lord Voldemort during the storming of Hogwarts by his supporters, and still the Wizarding World is essentially in the dark as to the circumstances of his death. While it has been confirmed by four independent sources that Voldemort, formerly known as Tom Riddle, is in fact deceased, who cast the fatal Killing Curse is still a mystery.
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, has remained tight-lipped on the subject, as has Minister Scrimgeour. While Dumbledore sustained serious injuries during the battle, duelling Voldemort himself in the Entrance Hall of Hogwarts, and thus could not possibly have witnessed the final conflict where the Dark Lord met his end, widespread speculation indicates that he knows more than he is letting on. When he appeared at the Order of Merlin awards ceremony for all combatants- Muggle and Magical - involved in the various conflicts in this brief but bloody war, he declined to comment.
None of this speculation is quashed by persistent rumours of Harry Potter, third year student at Hogwarts, unnaturally aged by a potions accident, being sighted at Hogwarts during the battle - some say he even cast the final Curse himself. How Potter, the fated Boy-Who-Lived, would have managed to gain the skills needed to duel such a powerful wizard as Voldemort is, however, unexplained. What is 'officially' known, however, is that Potter has not been seen since his alleged capture in the events surrounding the destruction of Hogsmeade village.
Which brings this reporter to consider the final person under question – the mysterious Phoenix. Allegedly killed by Voldemort himself during the conflict in Diagon Alley which claimed many lives, the Phoenix was a staunch opponent of Voldemort, and fought him at every turn. So who was he, and where did his body go? Was he an Auror, a rogue Hit-Wizard? Again, persistent rumours of the Phoenix being none other than Harry Potter are still mere speculation. It seems his mystery is something that will never be fully solved.
Whatever is said or discussed behind closed doors, one thing remains certain: The Wizarding World sleeps easier knowing that Voldemort is dead, whoever cast the final curse. And if Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, is out there, this reporter wishes him all the best, wherever he may be.
Now, as the last of our dead are interred, we can all look to the future with lighter hearts.
"Not bad," Sirius said, as Harry tossed the paper he had been reading aloud from aside. Harry nodded in agreement, stuffing a piece of bacon in his mouth and scanning the other articles on the front page – all to do with Voldemort, whose name was now being said aloud with relish by the Wizarding population at large one month on from his demise. On page seven was an article about his life before he became a Dark Lord, and on page thirteen was an article about Harry from a 'guest writer' to the Prophet. Intrigued, he turned to it while Sirius flicked through a Witch Weekly (Harry had laughed at first, but some of the pictures of the female dress-robes models in there made him think Sirius wasn't reading it for the articles).
Harry Potter – Time Traveller?
He almost choked on his orange juice, kicking Sirius under the table and jabbing a finger at the page he was reading.
They were eating at an upmarket cafe in Piccadilly, with carefully-placed concealment charms on their newspapers. The Ministry was officially on the hunt for both of them, but Dumbledore had assured them, using Fawkes, that he would see Tonks placed in charge of the investigation – so essentially there was no investigation. Outside it was a bit gloomy, as it was entering late October, but inside the cafe it was warm and dry.
"Shit, Sirius, look at this!"
"It's the Prophet, d'you really think they'll have it right?"
Harry Potter – Time Traveller? – Xenophilius Lovegood
Nothing is impossible, it seems, when it comes to magic – not even Time Travel. While Time-Turners, heavily controlled Ministry artefacts, allow a short 'jump' back in time to the tune of a few hours, actual Time Travel is thought to be impossible – until now.
Through careful research and observation it has become clear to me that, through the use of Zephy hair and Feeny wings, that Harry Potter has disappeared – through time.
The Boy-Who-Lived no doubt-
Harry snorted with laughter, tossing the paper back onto the table. "Good old Lovegood. I was worried there for a moment."
"What in Merlin's name is a 'Feeny'?" Sirius said incredulously, popping a chip into his mouth as he did so. "He usually edits the Quibbler, doesn't he?"
Harry nodded. "I bet the Prophet regret letting him even write a'guest article'. Ah well, it makes for good reading, don't you think?"
"Well, he is sort of right. He just omitted the details of a whole load of curses hitting a Time Turner all at once, as it was turning, as what actually happened. Not something you can really write down to test later..."
"It worked out fine for me," Harry concluded, finishing his orange juice and slapping a pair of twenty-pound notes onto the table. "So are we going to definitely do this today?" he asked, as he and Sirius shrugged on their coats and left the cafe, dressed inauspiciously in suitable Muggle clothing.
Sirius said nothing for a moment, smiling at a pretty blonde girl as they walked down the pavement. Harry nudged him, and he grinned.
"Yeah kid, I think so. It's been a month, hasn't it? Dumbledore seemed to be a bit impatient in his last letter. And I bet Ron and Hermione have a load of questions for you – that should be fun," he said with a wink. Harry grimaced.
"I'm looking forward to seeing them, but what the hell am I going to say? Last time they saw me I was, well, dead. Dead, smashed up having stopped a curse with my torso, and speaking gibberish. I'm glad Dumbledore memory-charmed the rest of the people in that dorm, that would have been difficult to explain away."
"Well, according to the Prophet it wasn't all explained away. At least there wasn't too much fuss about that dragon they had. I thought that'd be it for Dumbledore – bringing a dragon onto the grounds with only two people to manage it, even if one of them was Hagrid!" Sirius replied, still grinning, as they walked, as a pair, into an alleyway off of the main road they had been on. With a furtive glance left and right, the pair of them pulled wands out of their jeans pockets, and Disapparated.
Albus Dumbledore smiled as he saw his ward indicators light up red, showing a pair of 'intruders' in the Forbidden Forest. He nodded at Fawkes, who trilled happily, before picking up a small black sphere from his desk – a paperweight – and tapping it with his wand. With a soft blue glow, the sphere grew warm to the touch, before Dumbledore felt a familiar jerk round his navel and he spun for a moment, before reappearing in the shady Forest, about a hundred metres from the edge of the treeline.
It was fairly cold; Dumbledore drew his enchanted canary-yellow robes about him with a shiver, and strode forwards, leaves crunching under his feet where he trod. After a few moments he saw two figures ahead of him, dressed in Muggle clothing.
"Mr. Black, Mr. Potter," he called out ahead of him, lighting up the end of his wand to see them more clearly; it was noon, but the thick trees blocked out a lot of light. "Welcome back, it's always good to see old students."
Harry and Sirius waved, blinking in the light from the wand. "Afternoon, Headmaster," they chorused. As Dumbledore got a closer look at Harry, he stopped, taking in the features of the Boy-Who-Lived. His eyes did the customary flick upwards to the lightning-bolt scar, but now they flicked downwards to Harry's forearm, where he had rolled up the sleeve of his jacket and shirt to show the puckered Dark Mark scar.
"It worked perfectly, then..." Dumbledore said quietly, and Harry nodded.
"It was weird, when I went into the potion. But after that... there's just this. No mood swings or anything like that. I'm fine, it seems." Harry replied, as he and Sirius walked up to Dumbledore.
"Harry, my boy, I-"
Harry raised a hand. "You said it all in your letters, Headmaster. What's done is done, and it worked out for the best in the end."
Dumbledore inclined his head, before looking at Sirius with a wry smile. "So tell me, Sirius, where have you been gone with Harry? Minerva guessed you'd gone off with him, and anticipated some sort of large-scale destruction at some point; I think she owes me a Galleon over that, actually..."
Sirius laughed, as Dumbledore conjured up three comfortable armchairs for them to sit in the middle of the forest. "Well, Dumbledore, it's been quite a trip. Mayfair first, then we popped into Rome, saw a bit of Paris, caught some sun in Algiers, and then decided to spend the remaining week or so in a rather expensive Piccadilly hotel. Good holiday, all in all."
"Except for when you tried to haggle with that merchant in Algiers and he transfigured your peni-"
"EXCEPT for that," Sirius said pointedly, cutting off Harry's interjection. "Was odd, having it as a paintbrush..." he finished, reminiscing.
Dumbledore chuckled, stroking his beard. "Well, gentlemen, how are we going to do this?" he said after a while, looking at Sirius and Harry through his half-moon glasses. "Sirius, your name was cleared in the week following Voldemort's death, and Harry as far as everyone is concerned you're still missing, presumed dead, regardless of what the Daily Prophet might suggest. Are you two ready to rejoin society?"
"Well, Headmaster, I was thinking we just take it one step at a time. Can't Harry just meet Ron and Hermione first? Then we can see where things stand," Sirius said, leaning forward in his chair. Dumbledore nodded. "Let's just see how that goes."
"Very well, I can arrange something right now, if you wish...?" Dumbledore said, looking at Harry and letting the question hang. Harry said nothing for a moment, thinking, before nodding. Inside, he was panicking slightly. Dumbledore had obviously prepared to have Ron and Hermione meet him at a moment's notice; this caught him off guard somewhat.
"I'd like that, Headmaster. I've come a long way, done a lot of things... I think I just need to try to readjust to things with my friends. Even if I've known them differently up until now." He said, slowly.
"I quite agree, Harry. Now there is no pretence, I'm sure things will be easier." He picked up a stick, tapping it twice with his wand; once to turn it a pale silver, marking it out amongst the detritus of the Forest floor, and another to turn it into a Portkey. "When this glows red," he said to Harry and Sirius, "take it, and it will send you off to meet Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger. I hope the meeting goes well for you, Harry."
He stood up, vanishing his armchair. With a slight bow, he bid the pair adieu, and Portkeyed back into the castle, leaving Harry and Sirius alone.
"Nervous?" Sirius said, leaning back in his armchair.
"I don't think Voldemort was quite as terrifying as the prospect of meeting two thirteen-year-olds who I loved in a time that never existed. What the hell am I going to say to them?"
"When you put it like that, kid, your life is pretty messed up," Sirius replied with a smile.
"Oh shut it," Harry shot back, with a smile.
They talked happily for close to an hour, in the Forest, before the silver twig glowed red. Harry paused, seemingly not wanting to touch it, before Sirius urged him on with a glance and they both grabbed it at the same time, sending them spinning for a second before landing.
They were in a classroom, somewhere in Hogwarts – near the Astronomy tower, if the view from the window they'd landed next to was anything to go by. The room was empty, save for some armchairs. After a few seconds there was a knock on the door, and Dumbledore's head popped round it, and he smiled as he saw them both.
"Here we go, gentlemen. Sirius, you can come with me or you can remain here; your choice."
Sirius moved instantly towards the door, despite Harry's pleading look. As he slipped out, Harry sat in one of the empty armchairs, looking at the ground. After a few seconds two people entered and sat opposite him; Ron and Hermione.
He looked at them, and they looked at him. Hermione looked as though she'd been crying very recently; evidently Harry was not the only one with emotional attachment concerning this meeting. He gestured weakly and they both sat down, no-one saying anything.
He studied them both. Ron, looking nervous but determined, his freckles standing out across his face. He looked shockingly young still, though Harry could trace the lines of his adult face in the face of the teenager looking at him; a slightly squarer jaw, slightly thicker neck. His eyes were the biggest difference from the Ron that Harry had fought with and seen die – these eyes were warm, friendly but very nervous; the Ron that Harry remembered had been steely, confident, assured.
Hermione was also young, and her overbite seemed almost comical in comparison to the Hermione of Harry's past. Her hair was pretty much as he remembered it – bushy, almost to the point of frizzy. Her eyes, red from where she had been crying, were much the same as Ron's – pleading for Harry to be the boy and friend she remembered, but also terrified of what she had seen and what she had worked out. She knew he had been involved in time travel.
There was a long silence.
Harry opened his mouth, licking his lips nervously. Ron opened his mouth as well, as though he was going to say something, but closed it. There was another silence.
Hermione finally spoke.
"Harry... please... tell us everything?" she said quietly, looking her best friend dead in the eyes.
And as soon as those words were said, it was suddenly easy. The story came spilling out, and none of them even noticed the sky outside darken as Harry's tale echoed around the empty classroom.
And as he told it, Harry knew that while everything wouldn't be as it used to be for him – how could it possibly be? – his friends, the friends he had sitting in front of him, the friends he had fought and died with, would make sure it was the best it possibly could be.
He had the chance at a life now, for the first time in twenty-five years. A life with friends, a life with safety, a life where he could do what he wanted, unfettered by Prophecy.
All he had to do was live it.
A/N: All I can say is thanks for reading. I started this when I was around sixteen, and now I'm eighteen. Weird feeling to finally write 'The End' on something like this.
I've loved writing it though, every moment. And I hope you lot enjoy reading it.
If you've read from the start - been with me from the beginning – leave a review, tell me what you thought. Good, bad, whatever. I just hope you enjoyed it.
Until next time.