Disclaimer: Anything recognisable belongs to J.K. Rowling.
. o O o . 77 . o O o .
When Harry woke there was not a trace of pain anywhere in his body. His head was blessedly free of any ache, absolutely and completely in a way it hadn't been since he'd begun learning Fidelimency.
He ran a hand over his chest and felt only smooth skin, and his arm seemed completely healed.
He sat up slowly, raised his hand it his face and ran a finger over the jagged scar on his forehead, amazed by the feeling of nothingness that he felt. It was like there was a brick wall in his mind, a pathway that had been there before was now blocked off, and though he knew it was a good thing, it had been with him so long that now it felt like there was a part missing, and it left a hollowness in the pit of his stomach.
The hospital wing was fuller than Harry had ever seen it; every bed was occupied, and it seemed that there were more beds than usual.
There was only just enough space between each bed for people to walk; before, there'd been a metre of space between them all.
The occupants of the beds on both side of Harry were sleeping peacefully.
He'd been sitting for ten minutes, content just to wait, before Madam noticed he was up and came over to fuss over him, a proud smile on her face. "Wonderful to see you awake at last, Mr. Potter. We're all extremely proud of you," she gushed as she bent his elbow and wrist to test out the range of movement. "I must say though, we were beginning to worry that you would wake up these past few days."
"Wait, I've been in here a few days? But I wasn't even injured badly."
"You simply wouldn't wake up, and we couldn't ascertain why. Professors Dumbledore and Snape have been by several times to perform their own little tests, but they couldn't find anything wrong, either. You seem fine, so perhaps you were simply exhausted and using the time to recuperate. That said, your arm is all fixed up and I've healed all the other cuts and bruises you acquired."
Harry nodded, unable to remember anything from the time he'd passed out in Hogsmeade to waking up just now. Was it even possible to sleep that long?
"They'll be coming by again today, I'm sure. In fact, I might pop through the Floo and let the Headmaster know."
"I could just go up to see him when I leave," suggested Harry.
"I'd prefer to keep you here, just in case the reason we couldn't wake you up is something serious that we haven't caught yet. If you're still awake and alert tomorrow, I'll declare you fit to leave."
Madam Pomfrey patted him on the cheek and bustled away to assist another student. Harry sighed and leaned back against his pillows. He was already bored and he'd only been left to his own devices less than a minute.
He was starting to drum his fingers when Ron and Hermione walked in the door of the hospital wing. Harry's face split into a grin.
They looked surprised to see him awake, but both smiled widely when they saw him. They squeezed between his bed and the next, Ron thumping him on the back in greeting and Hermione launching herself into his arms.
"We were so worried, Harry!"
Harry patted her back. "Don't worry, Hermione. I'm absolutely fine."
"What's that?" he asked, nodding at the newspaper that Hermione was trying to conceal behind her back as she pulled back.
"Oh, nothing. Tell us how you feel!" she said, sitting down on the edge of his bed.
"Hermione," sighed Harry. "Why are you trying to hide it from me?"
"Oh, I'm not ... it's just today's newspaper," she replied.
"Are you sure? If you aren't feeling well, it might just upset y-"
"Just give him the paper, Mione," said Ron, snatching it out of her hand and rolling his eyes as he handed it to Harry.
Harry shook the paper to straighten it out so he could read the front cover. His curiosity quickly turned to anger at Rita Skeeter's words.
Celebrations continue after the defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named this past weekend. Not only is the Dark Wizard's death celebrated, so too is the life of Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived-To-Save-Us-All - but this reporter worries: is Harry Potter really our hero, or someone to be feared? Yes, he defeated the Dark Wizard who has terrorised the lives of multiple generations of witches and wizards, but how did he accomplish it at such a young age?
A conversation overheard between Harry Potter and his friends may shed some light on how You-Know-Who was finally defeated. In the conversation, Potter admitted to knowledge of horcruxes, a magic so dark that most wizards and witches never hear it at all. For those of you who have never deigned to touch such magic, a horcrux binds one's soul to an object through the act of murder, making it impossible for them to die while the horcrux exists.
The further Harry got through article, the worse his anger grew.
While Potter, possibly with the help of a vigilante group called the Order of the Phoenix, may have managed to destroy these horcruxes, this reporter wonders where a student learned of such Dark Magic, and how said student managed to overcome it. This comment came from Minister for Magic, Septimus Thorne: 'Obviously questions will be asked. There's no reason why a seventeen year old school student, Boy Who Lived or not, should have anything to do with that particular branch of magic. While he is to be commended on the part he had to play in You-Know-Who's defeat, he isn't exempt from the laws which dictate what sort of magic may and may not be practiced in our schools and communities.'
This sort of fair and equal treatment for all is what marks Thorne as the Minister of a new era. Such an equitable, efficient and knowledgeable Minister is exactly what the wizarding world needs right now, for while He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named may be gone, many of his supporters are still at large. A number of his followers were apprehended after the Battle of Hogsmeade, but most escaped capture. The Minister has already personally organised a task force dedicated to tracking down and apprehending the remaining Death Eaters.
Harry gave up on the article, throwing it into his lap in disgust. It went on for another half a page, probably extolling Thorne's many virtues and condemning anyone else.
"This is a joke. I can't believe Thorne is still Minister!" he spat.
"We couldn't believe it either, but no one saw his face when they were fighting and as he wasn't captured, the only way he'll be found out as a Death Eaters is if someone accuses him."
"Well why haven't people? The Order knew he was dirty – why haven't they said anything?"
"Well, of course people have made the allegation, but Thorne has done such a good job of covering his tracks so far that no one believes them. Plus, no one's been able to publicly accuse him – it's really just a rumour, because he's enforcing an old rule the Ministry has about vigilante groups being illegal. If anyone from the Order were to show proof, they'd be accused of trying to do things on their own."
"What about the Death Eaters who were captured in the battle?"
"Thorne seems to be cutting their losses. Anyone found dressed as a Death Eater in Hogsmeade is being sentenced to the Kiss. At least, that's what Kingsley told us. There haven't actually been any trials yet, and they may not start for a month or so yet. The Ministry is in a bit of an uproar and that all needs to be sorted out first. The thing is, we can't see how Thorne can hold the usual trials. Thorne is the first person any Death Eater trying to avoid the Kiss will point their finger at. It isn't just that Thorne is protecting himself, either. He's protecting other Death Eaters that weren't captured. By running things his way, he'll be ensuring that no one else is named, except I suppose, unless he wants them to be."
"So basically, Thorne is killing anyone who might be able to speak out against him," stated Harry, jaw clenched in anger.
Hermione nodded. "All the Death Eaters that were captured in Hogsmeade are being sentenced to the Kiss, which is really quite terrible. Obviously a lot of them were there by choice, but of course there's the people who were blackmailed into it, and I daresay there may even have been some under the Imperius Curse. Those are the people more likely to have gotten caught, really. People who were blackmailed would have been fighting half-heartedly, and people under the Imperius Curse, if there were any, might have been struggling against it. That would have impaired their ability to duel. Those people are also the ones more likely to speak out against Thorne, or any other uncaptured Death Eaters that they know of."
"But how can we even tell between them?" asked Ron. "I mean, if someone asks them if they were blackmailed or cursed, they'll jump at the chance to say they were, if they think it means they avoid the Kiss, or Azkaban."
"Veritaserum?" suggested Harry.
Hermione shook her head. "How can Thorne administer Veritaserum? Anyone who knew he was a Death Eater would be able to say it, and everyone would have to accept they're telling the truth. According to Kingsley, Thorne is using the excuse that Veritaserum defeats a person's free will, so it isn't going to be used."
"As if Thorne gives a toss about someone's free will," Harry spluttered.
"But even if it was used, the trials are to be closed, again according to Kingsley. If only Ministry members are going to be there, then chances are the all the Death Eaters in the Ministry will be wanting to protect themselves as much as Thorne."
"The Wizengamot has people on it who aren't Death Eaters. Dumbledore, for one, and Madam Bones. There are others, too. They won't let anything unjust happen, surely."
"It's majority rules when it comes to the Wizengamot, Harry. If more than half are Death Eaters, which there's a good chance of, then what can they do?"
Harry slumped back against his pillows, the fight going out of him. He'd done his part – why did things have to still be so complicated?
He looked back down at the article, incensed by the injustice of it all. "This article reads like Thorne is some noble hero."
Hermione gave a hum of agreement. "He's fashioning himself as the leader of the Ministry that brought about the 'Downfall of the Dark Lord'."
"As if that's not a clue," spat Harry. "Only Death Eaters call him that."
"Well, it was a reference made by the Prophet first, and, well, it's catchy."
Harry snorted at Ron's comment.
Just then, lurid colours moving to Harry's right caught his eye. Dumbledore had entered the hospital wing, dressed in brightly coloured robes and a Snape accessory, and Madam Pomfrey was pointing Harry out to them.
Ron sighed. "I guess that means we have to go."
"I suppose so," grumbled Harry, annoyed at Dumbledore and Snape's timing.
"Mum and Dad are coming by to see you sometime as well. Probably today, since someone will tell them you're awake now."
"Thanks Ron. I'll see you guys later. Madam Pomfrey said I can get out tomorrow."
Ron gave a sigh of relief. "Good. Don't forget we have the Quidditch game this weekend. You've missed a practice while you were out of it, so we need you at the next one."
Harry grinned when Hermione punched Ron in the arm, scowling at him as they left.
They were quickly replaced by Dumbledore and his twinkling blue eyes and Snape with his ... black decor.
"Sorry to interrupt your conversation, but we heard you were awake and hastened at once to see you." Dumbledore gave a grandfatherly smile. "We are all so very proud of you, Harry."
"Er ... thankyou sir."
"You have overcome such great obstacles, Harry. You should be proud of yourself. I am aware of the method you used to defeat Tom, and I must say, I am impressed."
"I couldn't have done it without Professor Snape, sir. He's the one who showed it to me, and taught me how to do it."
"Ah yes, Professor Snape. Another of whom I am exceedingly proud. You have both done well.
Snape shifted, looking uncomfortable with the praise, and Dumbledore gave him a grandfatherly look, which seemed to annoy Snape.
"I am immensely glad – unspeakable glad – that Professor Snape was able to come up with an alternative to my rather ill-conceived plan. I had search many books of ancient magic trying to find my own alternative, and failing. I was convinced my way was the only way." Dumbledore shook his head sadly. "Forgive an old man for being set in his ways. I sometimes forget that the things I know are not the only things to be known."
Harry shook his head. "I couldn't have done it without you, either Professor. I think if I'd had to destroy all the horcruxes the way I did I would have given up or gone crazy."
Dumbledore smiled widely. "Well, let us be thankful that you did not."
Snape cut in quickly, as soon as Dumbledore had finished the sentence. "How do you feel, Potter?"
Dumbledore chuckled, though his expression turned more serious. "Of course, that is the most important question."
"I feel fine – completely fine."
That wasn't exactly true, but they were referring to him feeling any pain, or link to Voldemort, and there was none of that anymore.
Snape nodded slowly. "We were unable to wake you for the past few days. Both of us performed Legilimency on you while you slept, but could find nothing wrong. You may also be relieved to know that there is no sign of the horcrux in your soul any longer, though I suspect you will already know that."
Harry nodded. "I can tell that it's gone." He frowned. "I think that's the only thing that feels wrong. I feel like ... part of me is missing now."
Dumbledore and Snape exchanged a troubled glance, and Harry wished that he hadn't said anything.
"The thing to remember is that part of you is not missing. It is the Dark Lord's presence which is gone from your being. You will get used to it."
"I suppose," muttered Harry, feeling suddenly like being done with the conversation. "I'm quite tired. I think I might try to get some sleep."
It was a weak excuse, since he'd apparently been sleeping for days, but whether they believed him or just realised that he didn't want to talk any more, they left.
He received a lot more visitors that day, for which he was glad. Apart from being boring, being on his own made him contemplate the changes he could feel in himself, and that was something he didn't want to do.
Molly and Arthur Weasley dropped by, a visit that Harry enjoyed. A large number of Gryffindors including professor McGonagall, and a few people that he knew from other houses dropped by to say hello as well.
Despite the battle in Hogsmeade, the final game for the Quidditch Cup went ahead the following Saturday. It was Gryffindor versus Slytherin, and they were all gathered on the pitch in front of a full stadium.
The captains shook hands, and all of them took to the air. Harry flew straight up, higher than the other players, shooting a grin at Malfoy who had done the same.
He shot off to the opposite end, and then began a slow, loose figure of eight pattern over the pitch as he searched for the Snitch.
Harry's thoughts drifted as he swerved lazily, one eye looking out for bludgers and the other for the Snitch. He felt good today, but the sense of something missing never seemed to leave him. He knew it was a good thing, but it just didn't feel like it. It was like he'd had a companion (a cruel and sadistic one, certainly) his entire life, and now that companion was gone.
He pushed the thoughts away; they did nothing for his concentration on the game.
Half an hour into the game he looked to the scoreboard and found that the scores were even. The whole time, one team had been pulling ahead and then the other, then the other, back and forward the entire time. Now, Slytherin had just scored to draw even with Gryffindor at 80 all.
Harry's eyes scanned the pitch ahead of him as he came around the goalposts at one end and started back towards the other.
He paused as a golden glint caught his eye.
The Snitch hovered near the ground, about ten metres out from the goal posts and towads the left side of the pitch.
Harry was very high up in the air, and the Snitch was very close to the ground. He watched it dart a metre to the left and took his eyes of it for a brief moment to see what Malfoy was doing.
His breath caught as he saw that Malfoy was looking at the Snitch as well, and then Malfoy did exactly as Harry had done, looking up to see what the opposing seeker was doing.
He caught Harry's eye and for a split second they both paused, each knowing that the other had seen the Snitch.
At the same time, they broke eye contact and angled their brooms downward. Harry descended into a steep dive, his speed insanely fast.
He barely noticed the commentator's excited commentary, or the people in the stands coming to their feet, their boisterous screams. The other players had paused to watch the chase as well, the Quaffle hanging forgotten in a Slytherin player's hands.
Harry urged his broom faster, his vision taken up by the Snitch as it rapidly approached. He couldn't take his eyes off of it now, but as he got closer he could see Malfoy diving in as well.
Malfoy had a slightly faster broom, but Harry had been slightly closer and the race was close. They were close now, and the Snitch was darting about here and there, but not leaving the general area. Timing now was everything.
It was better to slow a bit, to allow reaction time when the Snitch abruptly changed direction, but if he slowed down too much, Malfoy would beat him.
The ground was approaching rapidly, and Harry was undoubtedly going faster than was safe, but he didn't slow; he wanted that Snitch. Besides, he hadn't been the youngest Seeker in a century for nothing.
He inched ahead of Malfoy who had decided to slow a bit.
Harry took one hand off the broom, extending it straight out in front of him.
He was several metres from the Snitch when it suddenly dropped lower and further left. If he'd been going slower he could have swerved smoothly to catch it, but his speed prevented that. He jerked the handle around sharply, angling it down and to the left.
It was dangerous, angling down when he was going so fast and so close to the ground. His subconscious took over catching the Snitch at that point, as his conscious mind decided avoiding a collision was more important.
He hardly felt as his fingers closed around the cool metal but he barely felt it.
He pulled at the end of his broom, tilting it upwards less than a second after tilting it down to follow the abrupt dart the Snitch had made. His knees brushed the grass and a loud 'Oooohh' came from the crowd, accompanying the lurch of his heart.
He jerked the handle around to the right and felt the banner that hung on a wall brush against his knee as he swerved just in time to avoid colliding with the wooden stands.
A jerk, back to the left again stopped him from running head first into a goal post.
By now he was slowing down and he let out his breath in a rush as he gained complete control of his broom and direction. The ground dropped away again and he circled up around the middle hoop. He paused up in the air.
Harry inspected the Snitch, the tiny golden ball sitting in his hand with its white wings flapping softly against his fingers.
The screaming crowds suddenly broke through to his consciousness and he held the Snitch above his head in victory. If it was even possible, the screams got louder.
A figure flew over on their broom. Harry looked over to the Slytherin. Malfoy gave him a small smile and offered his hand. "Congratulations Potter."
Harry grinned and shook Malfoy's hand, and they both descended to the grass. Harry was immediately enveloped by the rest of his team and they all went up to the platform where the trophy was awarded.
There was no ceremony - someone shoved it into Harry's hands and held the Quidditch Cup above his head as his team crowded around him and the crowds in the stands cheered.
The day after their satisfying Quidditch victory, Harry walked down to the dungeons, heading to Snape's office. The door was open, and Snape was working at his desk. Harry stuck his head in. "Sir, I was wondering if I could talk to you about something?"
Snape nodded. "Come in."
Harry did so, and came to stand in front of the desk where Snape was preparing ingredients for some sort of potion. "I wanted to talk to you about my Charms project."
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Shouldn't such comments be directed towards Professor Flitwick?"
"Well, yes, I need to tell him, too, but I thought I'd ask you first. You see, I can't really show my project to the class, and I also need someone to demonstrate on, which is why I'm here first."
"I take it this means you wish me to be the one you demonstrate on. I think not, Potter. I much enjoy the use of all faculties and limbs which I currently possess, and have no wish to lose any such ability." Snape dumped a handful of chopped Gloo roots into a tiny cauldron and pulled over a jar labelled Bat Eyelashes.
"My spell works; I've already successfully performed it on Malfoy."
Snape looked up with a heavily sceptical expression. "How much did you pay him to get him to agree to that?" He went back to his preparations.
"Nothing - he was pretty willing to let me remove his Mark before it got him sent to Azkaban," replied Harry dryly.
Snape's head snapped up, and for a moment he appeared speechless. "It was you who removed Draco's Mark before the trial?"
"You did this for your Charms assessment?" Snape's eyebrows went up.
Snape slowly brushed off his hands, a blank expression on his face.
"Well ... Draco is certainly lucky that you considered him a friend ... and this spell – it can be used on ... anyone?"
Harry nodded again. "I thought you might like to be my volunteer subject to demonstrate it to Flitwick." Harry shrugged. "But even if you don't, I'll still take it off for you, if you want."
"Volunteer subject," muttered Snape, his eyes staring down at his desk as he apparently subconsciously rubbed at his left forearm.
Finally he looked at Harry and gave a nod. "Let us go to Professor Flitwick's office."
Harry gave a sigh of relief. While he would have removed Snape's Mark anyway, he didn't want to fail his Charms Essay just because he couldn't show people the charm he had invented. "A pain relief potion might be useful," he suggested. "And some dittany and some kind of healing balm, too. That's what I gave Malfoy, and he healed up fine."
Snape went to a cabinet against one wall and pulled out the relevant vials, and then they left the office.
Snape set off at a brisk pace, and eight minutes later they arrived at Flitwick's office. Snape rapped sharply and opened the door when Flitwick's high voice rang out for them to enter.
"Filius, are you busy?"
"I've nothing pressing," replied the tiny man, depositing his quill and clasping his hands in front of him. "What can I help you with, Severus, Mr. Potter?"
Snape got straight to the point, and Harry fancied that the Potions Master was actually excited, though Snape would probably claim only to be impatient.
"Potter here wished to demonstrate his Charms project now, rather than with the class. I have come to ... assist him."
"Oh, is there a reason not to wait until the class presentation? I'm glad for your enthusiasm Mr. Potter, but
"I can't really show the rest of the class, sir. It would jeopardise somebody if I did."
Flitwick cocked his head curiously. "Oh? That sounds a tad dramatic."
"He is quite right, Filius."
"Well, let us proceed, then. I am intrigued as to what spell you have created. What does it do?"
Harry handed the tiny Charms professor his report and waited while he read the summary. Flitwick's bushy little eyebrows rose higher and higher, and he gave a tiny squeak of excitement as he neared the end of the first page. "Well, this certainly explains some things we've all been wondering!" He put the report aside. "I'll read that later, I think. I want to see this charm in action. I presume you've come along not as a casual observer, Severus?"
"No, I have not," replied Snape, his expression wry. He drew back his left sleeve, revealing the Dark Mark on the too-pale skin of his forearm.
Flitwick gave Harry an encouraging nod, and Harry placed the three vials on the desk before drawing his wand and moving closer to Snape so that he could press the wand to the professor's arm.
Taking a deep breath, he began to chant.
A minute later, Snape's jaw was clenched, sweat beading on his forehead. He was handling it better than Malfoy had, but for someone who rarely showed any emotion, what was showing through now gave a good indication of how much it was hurting.
It seemed to be taking longer than it had with Malfoy as well, maybe because Snape's had been there far longer. It occurred to Harry that Snape should have taken the pain relief potion before they started, instead of after.
He focussed more on the chant, remembering to concentrate on positive feelings as he chanted. After a few more minutes the Mark began to writhe on Snape's skin like it had on Malfoy's.
The edges began to break away from skin and flesh, creating rather deep rips in Snape's arm. Blood began to dribble onto the stone floor of Flitwick's office, but none of them paid any attention. Their eyes were all fixed on the Mark as, another couple of minutes later it tore itself free completely.
The three of them watched as the black-green wisp floated upwards and dissipated into the clear air.
Snape's arm was bleeding fiercely, but he didn't move to do anything about it for some time. He seemed astonished that Harry's spell had actually worked.
Harry stared at the arm, suddenly feeling sour. He wished it was that easy to remove the mark Voldemort had left on him. Harry picked up the vials of dittany and the other healing balm and passed them over silently.
"Excellent, excellent," squeaked Flitwick, and Harry had never seen him more excited. "Nothing less than an O for your efforts!"
Harry smiled, happy with his success.
"Outstanding indeed," murmured Snape, smoothing the mint green paste over the ragged flesh. "Forty points to Gryffindor."
Harry's grin widened.
"Savour the moment, Potter. It's almost certainly the last time you'll ever receive points from me. Probably the last time Gryffindor will, I might add."
Harry sat, leaning against his cold grey rock that overlooked the Black Lake.
It had been a week and a half since he had killed Voldemort.
He'd thought that once Voldemort was destroyed that everything would be as it should – but it wasn't.
Septimus Thorne, one of Voldemort's highest ranking Death Eaters, was still Minister for Magic, and the public appeared to adore him. The Ministry itself was still filled with Death Eaters, and no one was even aware of that except for people who really didn't have any power to do anything.
Still, maybe Thorne would be happy with being Minister. It wasn't as if it didn't afford him a great deal of power. Maybe most of the Death Eaters would simply go back to living lives free of Voldemort, and be completely law abiding citizens.
Voldemort had been a tyrant, and fear had probably been a driving force behind many of the Death Eater's loyalties.
On the other hand, part of Harry felt that it was far from over.
He gave a sigh and rubbed at his scar. It had become something of a different habit, now. Before he'd rubbed at it, trying to relieve the ache that stemmed from it. Now, he rubbed at it as if doing so would induce some kind of feeling in it.
It was like he'd owned a house, a house with some any rooms. Some of those rooms, he'd rarely gone into, but sun shone through the doorways and a breeze blew in through their windows. Then, one day, someone had come along and bricked in some of the rooms. Now the hallways were dark in some places, and the air was stale because no breeze blew any more. Some parts of the house were alright, but others seemed completely wrong.
He wasn't sure exactly what he would have found there before – well, he knew it had been Voldemort – but he felt as if things were missing, and yet couldn't actually identify anything specific.
Voldemort was gone, so shouldn't he go back to feeling like himself? He suddenly realised that he couldn't remember what 'himself' felt like.
It wasn't just that Voldemort's presence was gone – some of him was gone, too. The bits of consciousness that Voldemort were worrying. First had been the strand from the jumper, a part of Harry's consciousness that had loved. Was he less compassionate now, was that what he felt was different?
The second part had been a part of his consciousness that fought for people. He'd used it to distract Voldemort while Harry returned to his consciousness so he could apparate and kill Voldemort's body, and then Voldemort had destroyed it.
Did that mean he had lost some of his Gryffindor bravery, the part of him that wanted to fight and protect people?
Losing compassion and bravery only made him more like Voldemort.
And, now that Voldemort's presence was gone, Harry could feel more clearly what aspects of the Dark Wizard's personality had seeped into his, and he didn't like it.
He felt more ambitious now, which he supposed wasn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, there were a number of aspects that didn't seem bad – they just weren't him.
Harry sighed and dropped his hand from his scar. It was all so confusing. He couldn't think clearly about any of it, not when there were still other things to worry about, like Thorne.
He felt like there were so many people expecting things of him, speculating about him, he couldn't see clearly how he was supposed to act, what he was supposed to do. Did he have some duty to aid the Order's effort to overthrow Thorne, or had he done is part in defeating Voldemort?
Harry stood and looked tiredly over the lake for a moment before apparating.
He really did need to think, to sort himself out.
He apparated to the dormitory. Luckily it was empty. Silently, he packed all his belongings into his trunk, except for his Illiori plant which he placed on Neville's drawers. Neville would look after it.
Finding a piece of parchment, Harry wrote a short note and tucked it into his posket.
His trunk packed, he shrunk it and placed it into his pocket and then went down to the Common Room. Ron and Hermione were sitting on cushions, just talking.
Harry stopped by them, and wondered what to say.
"I'm going away for a little while."
"Want us to come with you?" asked Ron, looking up from the floor.
"No, I'm just going to go alone. I need some time to think."
"Are you alright?" asked Hermione.
Harry nodded. "I'm fine. I just want a bit of time on my own for a while."
"Okay," replied Ron. "See you when you get back."
"Yeah," he replied. "You will."
Hermione gave him a curious smile and a small wave, and he left the Common Room. He had the great feeling of things left unsaid, but he simply didn't know how to say them.
Harry meandered through the corridors of Hogwarts, Salazar's head poking out in curiosity. It had been a while since Harry had been to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, but he went there now and opened the tunnel that led down to the Chamber. It was slimy and unpleasant, but he felt like seeing it one last time before he left.
After passing through the dark tunnels he came into the room with the basilisk, where he collected a few things from it. After depositing those things in his trunk and returning the trunk to his pocket, Harry levitated two reasonably sized rocks from the floor at the far end of the chamber.
After that he continued on in to the library, the rocks floating behind him. At the first door, he hissed 'Open' and stepped through before dropping one of the rocks into the doorway. When the stone door slid shut, it was unable to close all the way, leaving a decent sized gap that a man could squeeze through.
He did the same for the second door, and then continued on.
He stood silently for a long while, looking out over the canyon, and then turned and crossed to the other side of the ovular room where the tunnels began.
He followed them, making his way to the waterfall painting.
"It'sss going to be cold," he warned Salazar, before stepping under the waterfall. Instead of going sideways into a painting, he stepped through the other side and into Snape's quarters. He listened, but here was silence.
Snape's furniture was all practical, and there were no decorative little side-tables anywhere. Shrugging, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the letter he'd written, dropping it onto the floor in front of the waterfall painting.
Then, just to annoy Snape, he opened the curtains that covered the window before apparating to Malfoy's room. The Slytherin wasn't in there, for which Harry was glad.
Removing an object from his person, Harry hung it over Malfoy's chair.
He donned his invisibility cloak before leaving the dungeons, removing it again before he walked into the Entrance Hall.
Lupin, who'd come to the last Quidditch came and to visit Harry waved from where he was talking to Professor McGonagall, who smiled at Harry. He waved back to them both before continuing out the doors and onto the castle's lawns.
Harry took his time walking down the lawns, and went by the lake, even though it took him longer to get to the gates that way. In his pocket, his trunk bumped rhythmically against his leg as he walked.
His plan changed slightly when he by-passed Hagrid's cabin, and he stopped in to say hello, leaving half an hour later with a pocketful of rockcakes and an aching jaw.
Finally he reached the gates, and stepped outside of them. He looked down at his booted feet, and then up the dirt track that led from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade.
He spun on his right foot, catching a brief, final glimpse of the castle that had been his home for seven years, before the squeeze of apparition forced the image away .
Woohoo can't believe that's finally over. Sorry this last chapter took so long – I'm never good at writing endings.
Thanks to everyone who has ever reviewed, and to everyone who's stuck with the story to the end -you have all been amazing and encouraging.
I'm thinking about a sequel. I think the next thing I'm going to write will be a sequel for my other story Murder, Child, and once I've finished that I might do the sequel for this. I also want to rewrite a lot of this story, because lots of the writing especially in earlier chapters makes me cry...
Thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter: Angeena, Slytherin66, LineApe, Gondegoogoo, Sasparilla89, sh777, Concealed Convict, Stygian Styx, nxkris, 1Aszreal1, Lady Black-Malfoy, oceanlover14, Balrog Roike, rasul, BadGirlgoesworse, Lady of the Hunt, LoireLoa, GryphonWonder14, witchsbroom, Pheonix Eternia, pink-fogg, maddiebooks, zoey zink, bybytte, SuperiorShortness, tanith-4486, flame55, LadiZsuzsi and
Shibo226: Glad you liked it! Thanks for all the reviews ever!!
Caterina: Hello again, thanks for the great review! Hope you enjoyed this last one :P
nick: Yay! Thanks for the encouraging comments :D
Anon: Exhilirating is good : ) Glad you like it!
marc: True, true. Thanks for the review : ) Glad you liked the chapter.
QuannanHade: What a coincidence, 'tis also one of mine. Thanks for pointing out those errors, they'll go on the 'to fix' list, which will hopefully get looked at soon. I don't think this was too rainbows and puppy dogs, definitely open-ended... Hope you liked it!
theonewhowillsignininaminute: Haha glad you like it that much. Thanks for reading and reviewing :P
TheNefariousMe: Hey, I like your name :P I also like that you like my story! Thanks for reviewing!