A/N: I can't believe this is finally happening...Here is the final chapter of Surprise. Finally.
I'm dedicating this story to my mom, Theresa. She isn't here today to share this moment with me. But I know she would be so happy and proud. (And she'd ask me why I can't publish it and make some money...to which I'd explain for the hundredth time about Copyright and publishing laws...)
Here's to you mom. You encouraged me and pushed me and shared in my triumphs. You allowed me to be myself and love this HP world, even to the point of me getting a tattoo to show my love of it (even though you hate tattoos). I wish you could be here to actually read it and then push me to write my own novel. I love you and miss you. This story is for you, mom. 3
Harry woke up late the next morning and had a light brunch with his parents, and Sirius. They ate in peaceful quiet, Harry and James passing the paper back and forth and Lily reading from a Healing Potions textbook. As it was a Saturday, they spent the rest of the morning lounging around the house. James and Sirius would occasionally laugh about something in the blueprints they were hunched over, which would cause Harry and Lily to glance over at the pair with a smile.
At a quarter to noon, Harry got ready to head to the Burrow for lunch with Lonnie Sidner. He bid his family farewell and Apparated away.
Harry walked into the Burrow's kitchen and found Molly working on lunch.
"Molly?" he asked. "Need any help?"
"Oh, hello Harry dear! No I don't need any help. You can just sit here. George and Ginny are going to stop by soon as well," she said happily. "It'll be good to see Lonnie again. I haven't seen him in ages it seems." They chatted about nothing of importance for a while when they heard the Floo ignite.
"I can't believe Ron fell for that!" Ginny laughed.
"Me either. You'd think after all the jokes played on him he'd have learned by now," George said with a grin.
"What did you two do to Ron?" Molly asked with a frown.
George looked sheepish, but Ginny ploughed on and told them the story.
"So, since Ron agreed to watch the store for an hour, George offered to buy him lunch. He ordered a meal from the Leaky Cauldron and George went to pick it up for him. We decided to let him eat before taking off, so Ron was sitting and eating in the break room. Just as his break was up, we're standing by the fireplace, and hear him start to bellow from the back room. The last thing I saw before George pushed me into the Floo was Ron running out of the back room with bright purple skin and lime green hair!" Ginny laughed. Harry grinned at the image he pictured.
"George! He is doing you a favour by staying there alone! You go take that spell off him right now!" Molly exclaimed.
"I can't mum. It's got to wear off. It'll be gone in ten minutes. Just before the shop opens back up for the afternoon. No one will see him," George added with a sideways grin.
Molly huffed but backed down.
"Nice," Harry whispered to George, who chuckled.
George and Ginny sat down next to Harry and Molly finished the last touches of the lunch. Ginny hopped up and started to set the table just as they heard a knock on the door.
"Harry, will you go welcome our guest?" Molly asked, stirring the soup. He jumped up and ran to the door, opening it to a portly man in a red and brown plaid shirt, blue trousers, and silver suspenders. He was carrying a jacket over his arm, but was clearly over heated if the sweat beads on his brow were an indicator. He had a large handlebar moustache as well.
"Harry Potter!" he cried, glancing at the faint scar on his forehead. "So nice to meet you!"
"Please, come in," Harry said with a smile. "May I take your jacket?"
"Of course, of course. It really is splendid to meet you lad," Lonnie exclaimed once more.
Harry hung up the slightly damp jacket and led the man to the kitchen. As they entered, Lonnie once again loudly claimed how wonderful it was to meet Harry, which caused Ginny and George to give each other a knowing look. Harry's smile was slightly forced due to the fact that he was about to participate in an interview, something he typically avoided. Not to mention his trust of journalists was at an all time low.
"Molly!" Lonnie yelled spotting the woman near the stove.
"Lon! It's so wonderful to see you again! Come in," Molly cried as she hurried over to hug the man. Ginny gave Harry a look as if to ask if he could handle this meeting and he nodded. He had no choice really if he needed that interview done.
The next hour or so was spent getting to know Lonnie and answering questions about the incident at the shop. Harry explained about how they were in a prank contest amongst the two families and one prank went a little too far, leading to a half-off sale advert being posted. So, in order to not lose all of the stock or profit, George came up with some rules.
This is where George explained how a spell was cast on the door, almost like a ward, to indicate who had been in the shop already. Once the person left the shop with Wheezes items in their possession, a hybrid of the tracking charm was placed on the person, so if they entered the shop again in the next twenty-four hours, the employees could see who had been there and who had left with items. He also explained that there were rules clearly posted around the shop and on the door stating that the sale restrictions was only a few items per person and the sale would only work for the person once. They couldn't come back later and get another purchase at the half price sale.
Then, Ginny spoke up explaining how this one child had come in earlier that day and purchased a few items, and then came back around lunch and tried to get away with buying more things. She was an employee so she could see the tracking symbol indicating he had already been a customer that day and informed him he couldn't get another discount and why.
Finally, Harry stepped in and explained how he watched the kid verbally abuse Ginny and then attempt to steal the items he was trying to purchase.
"I took him outside and told him off. He tried to punch me, so I grabbed his fist and held it as I watched his mother come over. Once she was within a decent distance, I released him and they finally recognized who I was. The kid froze and the mother recognized my Auror robes. I explained what was going on, and why he was now banned for a month from the shop," Harry finished.
"I would like to add that we have no records of who is banned or who isn't. We don't really keep track of that, but I'd prefer if that wasn't put into the article. I'd just like it on record," George added.
"Well, that sure sounds like it was blown out of proportions by ol' Rita," Lonnie said. He had been taking notes in between bites of Molly's tomato bisque soup and sweet bread sticks.
"I sent a letter to the Prophet requesting them to print a retraction since it was so exaggerated. I was reprimanded at work by my superior and told that if I brought in any more negative press, I'd be suspended for a week. The editor sent this letter back to me," Harry said bitterly as he handed the letter to Lonnie.
"My friend Wanda said that since they didn't identify a reporter by name, I should be able to just have you write it up and it should be able to be printed. If you are willing to do this of course," Harry added. Lonnie read the letter and frowned.
"Harry do you have a lawyer?" he asked.
"Um," Harry's stomach dropped. "No, should I?" he asked.
"Off the record," Lonnie started giving them all significant looks. "I would suggest looking into it. Over the years the Prophet has printed some pretty libellous stuff about you. You could have a pretty good case against them." Lonnie handed back the letter and wrote something down on his notebook. "I would definitely appreciate it if you didn't let anyone know I told you that. I'd rather not lose my job," he added.
"Mr. Sidner," Ginny began. "My dad and our friend Hermione suggested Harry get a publicist. What is your opinion of that?" Harry shot her a dark look.
"Oh it would be a splendid idea. A publicist would take care of it all for you. Tell me, Harry lad, do you get a lot of fan mail?"
"Yeah, but I have a system that separates it all for me so it's not really a problem," replied Harry.
"Well, a publicist would have all fan mail directed to them, and they usually have people who scan and sort the fan mail for you. You'd also make a standard form letter, or a couple for variety, that they would send back to the fan with your signature on it, this way your fans all get a reply and you do minimal work. The publicist would also handle all publicity and articles written about you, make sure nothing is defamatory or libellous and if it is, they automatically send out a retraction request with a subtle hint towards legal action if they don't comply," Lonnie listed. "A publicist would be incredibly beneficial for you Harry. Eventually, businesses like the Prophet would learn that Harry Potter is not one to mess with."
"So they would need proof to write articles about me?" Harry asked. He was finally starting to be intrigued by the idea of getting a publicist. Ginny simply smirked at him.
"Proof, and often times, direct permission from you or the publicist you hire."
Harry sat back and thought about this for a moment while Lonnie had a third bowl of bisque and a sixth bread stick.
"Molly, this is truly superb. I have never eaten so well, even at five star restaurants."
"Oh stop," Molly replied with a giggle. Ginny and George had wide eyes and tried to hide their grins.
Once Lonnie was finished, he packed up his briefcase and turned to Harry.
"I will have this written up and I will have my editor check it over. He works under the Editor-in-Chief, but he can still okay something for print. This way we can have it printed and out to the public before Cuffe sees it. If you'd like, I can send you an owl in an hour or two with a draft you can check over and give me the okay."
"You'd do that for me?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Harry, that's normally standard practice in this field. If you do an interview, we let you check it over and it won't be published unless you agree with what's written," Lonnie said seriously.
"Huh," Harry huffed. "Well, I have a meeting this afternoon with my cousin and I don't know how long that will last. Would you be able to send it to me around five or six?"
"I have to have my final draft in by four," Lonnie said with a frown.
"I can read it over for you, Harry," Ginny suggested. "I know how you feel about the story. And I wouldn't want you to miss seeing Dudley since you already had to postpone once. I'd be able to read it and give Mr. Sidner the okay he needs. If you want," she added.
"Actually, that works fine for me. Lonnie?" Harry asked.
"As long as you trust Miss Weasley I can trust her as well," Lonnie said with a smile as he patted Ginny on the head like a toddler. Ginny frowned and gave Harry a dark look and he had to fight a grin from escaping.
Several minutes went by as Lonnie was saying his goodbye to Molly. Finally, as he was about to walk out the door he picked up his briefcase and a magazine fell out at Harry's feet. On the cover was a large photo of himself.
"Ah, yes, I completely forgot that was in there," Lonnie said stutteringly. Harry didn't believe him even a tiny bit, remembering Wanda's comment about an autograph. "Would you mind, maybe, signing it for me?" Lonnie asked hopefully as he picked it up. Harry sighed inwardly, but gave a smile and asked Molly for a quill. He wrote a small thank you and signed his name before handing it back to the reporter.
Lonnie beamed at him and then packed the magazine away neatly. His bid his farewells and left out the front door. Harry was grateful for the man's help, but he hoped he didn't need to see him often.
For the last several months, he and Dudley had been meeting up for lunch every couple weeks. Both were dealing with their pasts and they felt that since they were family they should stay in contact. Over the weeks, they were developing a less awkward bond but were still not able to get past the elephant in the room that was Dudley's parents.
Harry always felt a little nervous before a luncheon with Dudley but was glad his cousin wanted to mend fences and work on their tentative friendship.
He arrived at the small café they usually met at and found a seat. He ordered a fancy tea that was slightly over-sugared and waited. Dudley arrived a few minutes later and ordered a fruity sounding tea before sitting down.
"Harry," Dudley said with a nod.
"Dudley," Harry responded with a smile.
"So why did you need to reschedule?" Dudley asked.
"I had a meeting I needed to make. It was the only time he could meet," he replied. He didn't want to come off as a braggart to his cousin by explaining that he was giving an interview for the newspaper. He also didn't want to get into the reason behind the interview either.
"So…how are you?" Harry asked. He sipped his tea and burnt his lips.
"I'm good. I have a bit of a surprise though. I've kind of been waiting to tell you actually." Dudley smiled as he took out his wallet. He handed a photograph to Harry. It was a photo of a young woman with long, blonde hair that was braided into two plaits. She was wearing a floral headband and holding a guitar.
"Her name is Sally Nightingale. She's my...er, girlfriend," Dudley said with a blush.
"Nice. She looks lovely," said Harry as he handed the photo back. "Tell me about her!"
"Well, she's a yoga instructor. I met her at the gym a few weeks ago. Actually, more like two months now," Dudley chuckled. "She's a vegan and has been introducing me to that diet. It's definitely…something. I'm not sure how I like it. She would be what dad would call a hippy or as she likes to call it, New Ager."
Harry thought about it and was a little shocked. "That's…interesting. Not really who I would have imagined you being with, but I'm happy for you, Dud."
"She's wonderful. She's got a huge family; five siblings. Her parents and siblings all lived with her grandparents when they were young so it was a big household. Total opposite of our house," Dudley chuckled. "I met her parents a couple of nights ago and they were very nice. Her dad's a mechanic and her mum owns a grocery shop in Stratford a few miles from my flat. She's the oldest girl, and has one older brother who's a lawyer. I haven't met any of the siblings yet though." Dudley rambled on for a while about Sally. Harry could tell he was smitten, and as far as Harry knew, this was the first real girlfriend in his cousin's life.
"Well, I'm really happy for you Dudley," Harry finally said in a moment of quiet. They sipped their beverages for a moment. Harry was contemplating how to bring up his parents when Dudley asked, "So how has your life been lately?"
"Wow. That is…well…A lot's happened since we last saw each other Duds. So much. A lifetimes worth of stuff," Harry said dramatically. "Merlin, where do I begin?"
So Harry spoke about his birthday and finding a letter. He spoke for several minutes and by the end of the story, Dudley's eyes were wide, his jaw hung to his chest, and his hands were shredding a paper napkin.
"Your parents…are alive?" he dumbly asked finally.
"Yep. I've spent the last couple weeks telling them all about my life and showing them memories in a Pensieve. It's a bowl where you can add your actual memories and then visit them like a virtual reality world. Like living them all over again."
"Wicked! Like, any memory?" Dudley asked in shock.
"Any memory. They were not happy about the memories of my childhood. Mum actually wants to pay Petunia a visit," Harry added with a dark smile.
"Er, they aren't…going to hurt mum and dad are they?" Dudley asked hesitantly.
"No. I made them promise that if they do anything that it's reversible and won't cause lasting physical damage. Now, psychological damage is on the table still, but I'll try to rein them in if they get too out there," Harry laughed. "Actually, they want to meet you too."
Dudley gulped and paled.
"Um…they aren't going to do anything to me…are they? Should I be worried?" he asked worriedly.
"No, they know you and I are working on having an actual friendship. That we want to be a family still. They want to meet their nephew," Harry said with smile."We could set up a dinner in the next week or two. Though Sirius might be a little bit of a worry. He's a lot like Fred and George. They were the twins who gave you that Ton-Tongue Toffee a few years ago."
Dudley laughed, surprising Harry. "Oh man. That was a night. Mum was so furious and dad ranted for days after that."
Harry chuckled a bit with him and they fell silent once again. Another awkward sip of coffee and Dudley asked a question.
"So, how's it been so far? Getting to know them and all? I can't imagine what it might feel like to have them back all of a sudden."
"It's been…interesting. I've been showing them all my memories and we had a fight because my mum flipped out after I did some crazy flying stunt on my birthday.
"But it's been nice too. They've shown me a few memories of their lives. Dad showed me to his family manor, which is huge, by the way. We'll have to invite you out some time. It has a pool!"
"Sweet!" Dudley exclaimed.
"Yeah, mum told me more about her childhood, growing up with Aunt Petunia. Dad and mum argue a bit and it's always weird hearing them because your parents never really fought much. I'm not used to hearing it."
They talked a bit about rebuilding Godric's Hallow and Sirius' island home. Dudley told him about working at a petrol station, living on his own, and starting uni.
"Honestly, I'm surprised you got into uni," Harry admitted sheepishly.
"You're surprised? I almost shat myself when I got the acceptance letter!" Dudley burst out laughing.
"So what are you studying?"
"I guess I've been thinking of being a fitness coach or boxing trainer. So most of my classes are just health education and fitness courses. I don't have a very full schedule yet. But it's been interesting. I like it much more than Smeltings though, that's for sure. I think it helps being able to pick my own classes."
"Fitness coach, eh? Sounds right up your alley Big-D," Harry chuckled.
"Yeah, well, I have to work to my strengths I guess," Dudley barked out a laugh at his joke. Harry snorted as he sipped his tea.
Conversation picked up a bit and they jumped from topic to topic, only having awkward silences once or twice.
"So Dudley, how are your parents doing?" he asked tentatively.
Dudley sighed. "Dad stops by my flat every couple weeks to see how I'm doing. He's covering my tuition for school, so he asks how my grades are and how classes are going. He asks if I need any money for food or rent, I say no. It's all very uncomfortable."
"Is it…because of me?" Harry asked with a grimace.
"Sort of." Dudley gave him an apologetic look."They know I'm in regular contact with you. Mum freaked out in June when I said I might get an owl so we can write more frequently. We had a huge row about it. That's when I stormed out and kind of moved in with Piers for a while as I searched for my own place. I haven't spoken to mum since that night. It's been a few months now."
Harry could see Dudley was sad about this, but there was a spark of underlying determination. Harry felt a warm glow inside. He felt bad that his only cousin was alienating his family because of him, but Petunia was entirely deserving of losing her son for a while. If she couldn't let go of her hatred, perhaps the threat of losing her treasured son would wake her up.
"At least your dad still comes by," he offered. Dudley shrugged.
"I think mum sets him up to do it. Can't stand the idea of her dinky Diddy-dums starving on his own," Dudley spat angrily. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths.
"My therapist says I need to learn to let go of my anger towards her. Dad told me while we were away that while he didn't like the unnaturalness, mum was the one who hated you and made him treat you badly. I'm not sure I can totally believe him. I remember how he treated you and he was definitely an instigator sometimes."
"So you went to Dr Beadle?" Harry asked. Dr Lund has suggested her partner, who was also familiar with the Wizarding World when he'd asked if she could see Dudley too. She didn't like to see family members concurrently so she suggested David Beadle, her associate.
"I was pretty hesitant at first, but I went to see him and he was actually really cool. He's really been helping me. He suggested that since my parents were so horrible to you, they overcompensated with me to kind of, make you jealous or something. In doing that they caused an eating disorder for me and a whole lot of personality issues. He thinks that because they allowed me to hurt you, I reckoned it was okay to hurt anyone. He's brilliant," he finished with a smile. "Thank you for suggesting I see him."
"Well, I knew how much Dr Lund was helping me and if anyone I knew needed help it was you," Harry laughed.
Eventually they had moved on to the topics of girlfriends again.
"Ginny is amazing. I bought her tickets for a cruise for her birthday. It leaves in a week or so," Harry said excitedly.
"Nice! I wish I could afford something like that. Sally would probably love a cruise. She's been pretty down lately."
"Well, we should set up a time where we can all meet. You and Sally, Ginny and I. I know Ginny's been wanting to see the new you," he said with a smile.
"Well, Sally's actually staying at a friend's house for a while. Her friend's child has been missing for a week now. You might have heard about it on the news? Went missing from the park by their house," Dudley said sadly. "Sally's living there to help Maggie deal with all the stress and worry."
"Really?" Harry asked in serious tone. "Her friend isn't…erm, magical?" he asked quietly.
"I don't think so. Why?"
"Well…we've been having a rash of kidnappings in our world. Some of them have been a bit… gruesome. About four now in the last few months," Harry trailed off thinking hard. Dudley sat in silence for a moment.
"I've never met the kid or her friend, so I really wouldn't know if he was magical. Do you think it's possible?" Dudley asked.
"They might be targeting anyone with magical blood, but I don't know how they would find a Muggle Born so young. I don't know the parentage of the four we know about. Unless he did something very obviously magical in plain sight." Harry scratched his forehead and ran his fingers through his hair while deep in thought. Finally he sighed. "There's nothing I can do right now. I'll owl my superior when I get home. Could you get her name and address for me? I think the Aurors could come by with a few questions for her. If he was magical that makes five kids in three months. Possibly more if the kidnappers are targeting Muggleborns as well and we haven't seen that connection yet. Shite," Harry muttered.
"Uh, yeah. I have the address at home. I can mail it to you if you send your owl to me later. I should be home around nine or ten tonight," replied Dudley.
"Okay. That should work. I can just give my superior the address in the morning then."
They changed the topic, though it was stunted with worry now for a while. Eventually, Harry muffled their area with a Muffliato and told Dudley about the prank war and all the magical pranks they had pulled. He had Dudley roaring by the end of the story.
"And then Arthur opens the shed door…and BOOM! We hear this explosion! Everyone goes running and there's Arthur…HA! Standing in the middle of all this shitty, smelly goo freaking out because his plugs were ruined!" Harry cried. Dudley just pounded the table and guffawed.
Finally they calmed down enough for Dudley to ask, "So how'd you get rid of all the stinky goo?"
Harry laughed. "That's the best part, I just waved my wand and made it disappear, just as dad and Sirius were wading through it, so they suddenly went flying and collapsed on each other!"
They laughed a bit more and soon enough the waitress started to give them a look.
"I think she hates us," Dudley whispered.
"She is glaring at us quite strongly. I think she wants us to leave," Harry chuckled back. "We have been here for about four hours. And only bought one drink each. Perhaps we should go."
"Yeah, before her death glare makes us burst into flame," Dudley replied with a giggle.
The two chuckled as they walked past the icy barista and outside.
"So, I'll owl you tonight to get that address from you and call you soon and set up a night for dinner with my folks. It was good seeing you Big-D," Harry laughed. Dudley laughed outright at the old nickname.
"Yeah, Harrykins, simply spiffing. I look forward to meeting Aunt Lily and Uncle James."
The two shook hands and said their goodbyes, turning to walk in opposite directions. Once Dudley was out of sight, Harry ducked into an alleyway and Apparated home.
Walking into the kitchen, Harry was thinking about how far Dudley had come since their childhood. They still had their awkward silences but they were becoming fewer and farther in between. Harry knew they would have to address their childhood someday, and was hoping they could convince one of their therapists to sit in on the discussion in case it started to get heated. But he knew that before that could happen, Dudley needed to confront his own past first. But hopefully someday they could move past it all and be a real family who got together on holidays and exchanged Christmas cards and gifts every year. Dudley had confessed earlier on in their renewal of friendship that he had a new view of family after living near a large family in America while they were in hiding. He'd seen how close they all were and how they helped each other and been there for each other. He had come to the realization that aside from Aunt Marge, Harry was his only extended family he knew and he didn't want to lose that connection. Family was becoming much more important to him now that he was estranged from his parents.
Harry felt bad for Dudley in that aspect. Here he was with the whole Weasley family, plus now he had his own parents and godfather, and his own godson even. Harry's extended family had only grown since he left the Muggle world twelve years earlier. Whereas Dudley's had shrunk exponentially.
Harry was considering inviting Dudley to meet the Weasley's when he spotted a note on the table.
They are demolishing the house today, if you want to watch. Your mum, Sirius and I will be gathering cornerstones afterward. The demolition is set for 6 o'clock. See you there?
Harry checked the time and saw he had fifteen minutes until then, so he decided to head over after sending Marcel out to go to Dudley. He Apparated from the front steps and almost landed on his mum when he arrived.
"Oh! Sorry," he said as he watched Lily jump and spin around wildly.
"Harry! Oh you made it! Lovely," she said hugging him tightly.
Harry heard someone shouting and turned to see a woman in official looking robes arguing with James, Sirius, and the contractor.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"The Ministry doesn't want the house demolished," she whispered back with a frown.
"So what, they have no choice," Harry said back, without whispering. James turned and saw Harry, who was walking towards them.
"What's all this?" Harry asked his dad now.
"This woman says we aren't allowed to demolish our own house," spat James.
"I have official documents stating that this property is a national landmark. Any destruction to it will result in a large fine and –"
"Well you can go tell the Ministry that we own this property and we'll do with it what we want," Harry interrupted her.
"This house is a National Monument!" she stated in a shrill voice.
"This house is a dump, and legally, it is owned by the Potters," stated the contractor, Gerard.
"Do you know how many people visit this area every year? This house is the Magical community's Mecca," she asked suddenly. Everyone became visibly upset at this piece of information.
"I don't care how many people come to gawk at this place. The Ministry should never have set this up as some disgusting tourist sight. At the time it was believed that people were murdered here," Harry began.
"But they weren't!" she stated in a superior tone of voice as she pointed at James and Lily.
"So what! At the time it was believed they were killed and a child orphaned. What kind of demented government would set it up as some creepy monument to that kind of thing?" Sirius demanded.
"It was the site of the end of the war! He-Who-Must-Not-B—"
"VOLDEMORT! His name was bloody Voldemort! Start saying his bloody name!" Harry suddenly shouted in her face. She took a step back stunned. "It's just a bleeding name. There is no more taboo on it since HE IS DEAD, and I am bloody sick of hearing all that hyphenated bullshit.
"Look madam, we own the damn property. Ask the bloody goblins. We will do what we want with this house, and we will be putting an Unplottable ward up once the new house is built. We might even put another Fidelius charm up, just to spite the bloody Ministry. Our past is no longer your vacation spot! Now get the hell off our land. And you know what, if anyone else comes here to bother us or the contractors, I'll be speaking to the Minister myself to make sure we're left alone," Harry finished and turned around.
"Gerard, please continue," he said politely. Everyone stared at him in stunned silence while the woman sputtered and huffed behind him. Finally, he turned around and glared at her. She let out a small, mousy noise before Disapparating away.
Sirius burst out laughing. He was laughing so hard he fell to his knees eventually and pounded on the ground with his fist.
"Thanks mate. We were trying to get her to bugger off for about twenty minutes before you showed up," Gerard said with a beaming smile.
"I was this close to grabbing those damned documents out of her hands and ripping them up and throwing them at her," James added.
"I should scold you for your language, but…I'm just glad she's gone now," said Lily from behind him. Sirius continued to roar from the ground as they all turned to watch the house.
Harry didn't say anything. He was trying to calm himself down and lower his surface magic. He was very close to causing some sort of explosive emotional magic outburst similar to when he blew up Marge before his third year. The farther away they get from the end of the war, the more upset he got when he heard people use the misnomers for Voldemort. It irritated him almost as much as his own hyphenated nickname.
As he calmed himself down, Gerard went over to speak to a man in a hardhat. It was oddly shaped though, coming to a rounded point like a short cone. They chatted for a few moments and James stepped over to Lily.
"Do you think they might let us walk through it one more time?" he asked tentatively.
"I'm sure if you asked, we might be able to," Lily replied with a sad smile. James nodded and walked over to Gerard. They spoke for a moment and Gerard gave him a smiling nod and turned back to the hardhat man. James waved them over to him so Harry, Lily, and Sirius trotted over.
"We can go in for a bit." James led the way into the house.
Inside, they saw that it was gutted of all items, including the carpet or flooring. Each room was eerily empty, their footsteps echoed through the musty air. They wandered from room to room, stopping to stare around a bit. No one spoke for a while until suddenly James chuckled softly in the kitchen.
"Remember Harry's first birthday?" he asked Lily and Sirius. Both of them smiled and gave soft laughs.
"I made you a personal cake. Just a small one, with thick blue icing," Lily said when she saw Harry's confused look.
"We gave it to you in your highchair and just let you go to town on it. Merlin you were a mess, just covered in blue goo," James laughed.
"Remus reached over at one point and used the icing in your hair to spike it up in a weird hairdo," Sirius joined in.
"A mohawk," Lily clarified. "You had a blue mohawk and had skin like a smurf." Harry chuckled at the image in his head.
"We had some pictures, but I'm not sure which album they were in. We'll have to find them and show you," said Lily with a smile.
They continued through the house, each of the adults sharing stories they had from that room. In the living room, Lily laughingly told them about the time Harry was riding James around the room like a dog and Harry fell off, bumping his head on the floor. He cried and wouldn't let James hold him for an hour. Then, as soon as Sirius walked in the door, Harry jumped up and ran at him yelling about how daddy wasn't a good dog like Uncle Siri and he wanted to ride Padfoot at that exact moment.
"The look on James' face was priceless," Lily said with a laugh.
"Yeah, but then Sirius said, 'Of course your daddy isn't a good dog, because he's a stag!' and Harry turned to me and I changed into Prongs. Boy were you surprised," James chuckled.
"You only wanted to ride 'the pony' after that," Sirius barked. James frowned at him.
"I called you a pony?" Harry chortled.
"I don't think you understood what a stag was when you were nearly thirteen months," said Lily.
"You neighed at him for weeks!" Sirius added with a guffaw. Harry joined in the laughter when he saw James pout.
The next room on their journey was the upstairs sitting room.
"I remember picking out furniture for this room," started Lily.
"Once we got it here, none of it fit right in the places we'd planned them to be. Someone had measured it all wrong," James added.
"My measuring skills were fine, no one could read your chicken scratch handwriting," Lily joked.
Harry walked to the edge of the hole in the flooring and looked into the nursery. It still had all the stuff inside with faded pictures on the wall, stuff hanging in the cupboard, and the crushed cot in the corner. He also spotted some blocks in the corners and a mangled teddy bear in the cot. Lily joined him and placed her arms around him.
"This was my favourite room. We had such a good time decorating it while we waited for you to come. And then your dad and I would sit out here in the sitting room and just listen to you babble and coo to yourself as you fell asleep. It was so amazing how smart you were and how fast you learned stuff. You constantly amazed us," she said with a smile.
"Still do in fact," added James as he walked over.
They stood together as a family looking into the destroyed room. Sirius decided to head back outside and give them some time alone. For several minutes they stood together in silence.
Harry thought about how far he'd come since that night and everything that had happened since then. He saw Lily wipe a tear off her cheek and James squeezed them both before sniffling slightly.
They heard Sirius calling them from downstairs.
"Hey guys, I think the guy is getting impatient. You might want to come back outside soon." They hugged each other before finally heading back outside. Harry nodded to Gerard who gave the signal to start the demolition.
As the house came down James and Lily each stood on one side of him and they all had their arms around each other. Harry revelled in the feeling of his mum's arm around his shoulder and his father leaning into him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, briefly seeing images of him sitting next to his parents opening Christmas presents, going on a vacation abroad, telling them he wanted to propose to Ginny, presenting his first child to them, and he smiled before opening his eyes.
"It's time to move forward. Build a new home and continue our lives." He turned to them both and saw their smiles. "We lost a lot of time together, but I think we can actually start to focus on getting to know each other better now. We can finally be a family."
A/N: Well...it is done. It has been an incredible journey to get to this point. It's hard to believe this story was never actually meant to be a Dumbledore-bashing story, it was definitely not meant to be well over 300K words or 70+ chapters. I've gone through so much in this span of the last 5.5 years...this definitely wasn't supposed to take this long either. I love several friends, my mom, my niece, almost lost my grandma, and I've graduated twice (Associates and Bachelors) plus started Grad school. I've made several good friends and I hope I have learned more about writing and improved my abilities. It's hard to believe this story started out as a dream that woke me up at 7 am and made me start writing. (Look at my first chapter's A/N...I didn't even capitalize my 'I's...ugh...)
I do plan on continuing the Potter's story. I have plans for a prequel and a sequel. I probably won't be posting anything any time soon. I kind of liked writing it all out then posting it as I edited. So I'll probably be doing things that way this time. So you can either put my author page up on an Alert or you can put this story on an Alert (I'll put a new chapter up on Surprise for a Sequel Tidbit when I post) and you'll get an email saying I've posted something.
I want to thank my beta, Teufel1987, for picking apart my errors and shouting at me (through typefont) about my abundant apostrophe and coma errors and Brit-picking my stories over so they came off as more correct. My story has been made so much better by having you edit this beast of a story for me. So thank you Mihir!
I'd also like to thank several of my readers who have stuck with me for so long. Pari, you've been awesome! Thanks for letting me bounce ideas off of you and letting me pick your brain about life in England. FriendOfMolly who was (I believe) my 1,000 reviewer and has been here since the beginning almost. Thanks for sticking with me! Louey06 who has put my story in their recommended list on their profile! You can actually switch it to Complete now! Lol!
And finally SiriusBlackCat who sent me a PM recently that made me cry a little. I lost my mom to liver failure 2 years ago. SBC sent me a message saying that, because of my mom's story, she picked Organ Donation for an essay topic and was learning more about it and had made the decision to become an Organ Donor. I can't say how much it means to me that you sent that PM to me. We need more Organ Donors in the world. More people die in one month waiting for an organ than the number people who receive an organ donation in one year. To think that our story changed one persons' decision makes me very happy, so thank you very much!
And thank you to all the other people who have read my story! And more thanks to all who have reviewed, favorited, and put it on Alert! I appreciate each and every one of you! Your reviews never fail to make me smile! It still blows my mind how many reviews I have on this story...I kind of tear up a bit. Thank you sooooooo much!