A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! Here's chapter 20 (can you believe we're here already?) This is a more relaxing chapter than the last one, with lots of explanations and consequences abundant. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter and everything recognisable belongs to the wonderful JK Rowling.
Chapter Twenty – The Last Piece
If Henry thought that Apparating with three passengers had been hard, Apparating with four was infinitely times harder. When his feet hit the ground, his knees automatically buckled and he collapsed to the ground. He lay there for a few moments, stars bursting from behind his eyes and his ears ringing, both from pressure and Voldemort's echoing scream. Thankfully, the final curse that the Dark Lord had sent hadn't hit anyone: Henry had Apparated them out just seconds beforehand.
But, he had been winded by the force of hitting the ground and currently had no air in his lungs. And so, there was no real rush for Henry to stand up for he'd just fall over again. When, however, he could finally see well enough and was once again breathing, he sat up, swaying slightly as the blood rushed to his head.
Hermione was flat on her back, staring up at the sky with a dazed expression on her face. Lying right beside her, Ron seemed to have been knocked unconscious. Both, though, seemed to be doing wonderfully compared to Neville, who was clutching a closed fist to his chest and moaning, his face pale. Blood was spurting from his fist and Henry grimly thought that Neville was Splinched.
For a moment, Henry thought that it was just the five teenagers and he was going to have to try and restore whatever part of Longbottom that had been left behind, until he saw Dumbledore. The Headmaster was leaning over the unconscious body of Draco. Blood was dripping from Draco's right ear and leaking from his nose, but as Henry watched the blood stopped as Dumbledore continued to stabilize him. Dumbledore straightened, summoning five stretchers wordlessly that each floated to one of the fallen students and then went to Neville's side. Henry scrambled away from his stretcher and hurried to Draco's unconscious body.
Although there were no outward signs of injury from the Apparition on Draco's mangled body (that Henry could see, anyways), having blood leaking from your ears and nose was not good. Henry gently levitated Draco's limp form, guiding Draco's head with his hand, onto the awaiting stretcher. His cousin still looked very hurt, but miraculously, he had not been Splinched Apparating unconscious. Draco would survive for the moment and Henry turned to see what was going on with the others.
Dumbledore was talking softly to Neville, gently prodding him to uncurl his fist. Finally, Neville complied. His hand was completely covered in blood and his second finger seemed to have disappeared entirely. "Splinched," Dumbledore said, confirming Henry's earlier thought. He waved his wand over the wound, and, in a puff of smoke, Neville's finger reappeared.
"Thanks," Neville said in a shaky voice, flexing his fingers and hugging the injured hand to his chest.
"You're most welcome," Dumbledore said. His voice was serious and he returned his gaze to Henry. "Henry. I take it your mission was a success." He did not look pleased that he hadn't been able to come rescue Draco as well, but Henry stared obstinately back. Shouldn't he have known that Voldemort was going to have wards against just that? Old fool.
"It was," he said simply.
The Headmaster nodded once. He looked away and his gaze fell on Hermione and Ron. Hermione had gotten, shakily, to her feet, still looking dazed, but Ron was still unconscious. Dumbledore examined him for a moment and then smiled slightly. "Just the after effects of the Apparition," he said lightly. "Mr Weasley will be fine in a few minutes. Madam Pomfrey should be able to give him some chocolate and he'll be back on his feet in no time." He looked to Hermione, who was looking very unsteady on her feet and was blinking slowly, trying to clear her vision. "Miss Granger," Dumbledore asked, levitating Ron onto a stretcher without even looking. "Would you like one as well?"
Hermione shook her head and almost toppled over because of it. But, nevertheless, she said, "No, I'm fine."
Neville refused a stretcher, and so, with two unconscious students floating ahead of him, Dumbledore started up the lane towards the school.
Hermione, who seemed to be getting stronger by the moment, hurried to keep up with Dumbledore and walked beside Ron, gazing at him worriedly. Neville remained with Henry, who was lost in thought. So much had happened in the past few hours – Henry had failed the Dark Lord once more, he had been accused of being a dead child, his mother was murdered, Draco was tortured and he'd been to Riddle Manor on a rescue mission. Henry really desired a warm bed to lie down on so he could go to sleep and wake up from this awful nightmare.
Neville looked like he very much wanted to say something; Henry had an inkling about what. Softly, to keep the conversation private from Dumbledore, Neville asked, "Is it true what that Death Eater said? The one who Hermione Stunned. That – that your mother is dead?"
A jaw muscle pulsed in his cheek and Henry nodded once. "Yes," he said, his voice tight. "She was murdered. By the Dark Lord."
Neville seemed to have been silenced by shock. "By Voldemort?"
Hearing the name was still a jolt for Henry, who had been taught to revere the word ever since he was a child, and he nodded tightly.
Neville remained silent for few moments and then said, his voice faltering, "I'm sorry." Henry didn't believe that for a second, so he didn't reply, just stared straight ahead.
After passing the rest of the climb up to Hogwarts in silence, the group was greeted at the doors by a very irate looking Madam Pomfrey. She almost had a heart attack at the sight of Draco's mangled body and hurried the entire group into the castle.
In the Hospital Wing, where Madam Pomfrey had ushered them all to, Dumbledore levitated Ron onto a bed and Madam Pomfrey did the same with Draco. She didn't even go over to check on Ron yet – Draco was a much bigger concern. Only Hermione stayed beside Ron while all the others stood around Draco's bed.
"What exactly happened to him?" Madam Pomfrey demanded of Henry, summoning all sorts of vials and bottles to her side. They floated in front of her and she selected three of them, pouring equal amounts into small glasses. "Professor Dumbledore said –"
For a moment, Henry couldn't speak. If he didn't say it out loud, this wouldn't be true and Draco would sit up, laughing at Henry's gullibility.
"He was tortured," Neville said quietly, believing he was saving Henry from answering. In reality, Neville only confirmed this nightmare to be real and Henry wanted to punch him. "By Voldemort."
Madam Pomfrey sucked in a deep breath here and shook her head. "I heard it but I didn't believe it. He's a monster. Torturing innocent children..." her voice trailed off and she swallowed deeply. Madam Pomfrey poured the three glasses of liquid – one was an ugly, thick green, another was bright, bubbling blue, and the last was clear and sparkling as it hit the faint candlelight – into Draco's mouth.
After the potions had gone down and instructing Henry, Neville and Dumbledore to watch Draco for a moment ("And don't touch him!") Madam Pomfrey checked on Ron, muttering under her breath and clucking her tongue.
Henry took the seat next to his cousin. He wasn't sure what the medicine had done to Draco, but its effects hadn't hit him yet. Henry wasn't used to seeing Draco so unresponsive and hurt that he could scarcely believe that this was his cousin lying there in front of him when it just looked like a rag doll.
As if the universe had read Henry's mind, suddenly, Draco's body twisted in a violent spasm and he moaned, clutching at the sheets around him. Madam Pomfrey hurried back over, leaving Ron once more ignored.
"Mr Malfoy needs rest! I'm sorry Professor Dumbledore, but unless the students are staying here overnight, you all need to leave right this moment!"
"I'm not leaving him here alone!" Henry protested immediately, jumping up. "What if he wakes up and doesn't know where he is –"
Draco moaned again and his eyes fluttered open. Henry immediately fell silent and dropped to his knees next to his cousin. "Draco?" he whispered. "Draco, can you hear me?"
Draco's eyes were wild and couldn't focus on anything, but he seemed to grasp onto Henry's voice. He reached out with a bloody hand and Henry quickly grabbed it with his own. "Henry," Draco whispered, his voice so hoarse that Henry could barely hear him. "Henry, he's killed ... he's killed her."
"Shh, Draco, it's okay," Henry said consolingly, although a huge lump had started to form in his throat at the mention of Bellatrix's death. "Rest now, okay? We'll –"
"Henry!" Draco was more urgent now and his grip tightened on Henry's hand. "He ... the Dark Lord ... Bellatrix ... oh Merlin ...Henry, he's killed her."
"What?" said Dumbledore sharply, leaning closer to Draco. His blue eyes were wide, shocked. "Voldemort murdered Bellatrix?"
The words were like a slap to Henry, who bit his lip to stop from saying anything. Draco looked at Dumbledore and his eyes unfocused again. Then he mumbled, "Dead ... Must tell Henry ... Henry, she's gone ... gone."
There was a deathly silence in the hospital wing. Draco had spoken quietly, but the force of his words seemed to echo throughout the room. Henry refused to be the first to speak afterwards, lest any lingering emotion betray him and, to his surprise, Dumbledore didn't say anything else about Bellatrix, though he certainly looked like he wanted to.
Madam Pomfrey was the one to break the silence. She pulled the curtains around Draco's bed and turned to look at the group at large. "Out," she ordered. "I'm sorry, Professor, but you'll need to leave and unless the students are remaining here, they'll have to go as well."
Hermione didn't look like she particularly wanted to stay, but reluctantly agreed. Ron, who was still unconscious, had no say in the matter, and Henry suspected that another reason Hermione had agreed to remain was to make sure that he was okay. Neville hadn't put up much of a fight either. He seemed slightly traumatized by the Death Eater battle – it was, Henry realized, probably the first time Neville Longbottom had seen or participated in a Death Eater attack. The Chosen One was so sheltered that he'd only heard stories about the ferocity of Death Eaters or seen the aftermath of their attacks. If Henry had been on the Light side, he'd have been scared to death that the weight of their victory rested with this innocent boy.
The other three Gryffindors might've been persuaded to spend the night in the Hospital Wing by Madam Pomfrey, but Henry was not going to be that easy. He wasn't going to stay there where they could possibly take his blood in the middle of the night, even if he was worried to death about his cousin's condition.
"But, Lestrange, you've just battled Death Eaters!" Madam Pomfrey sounded furious. "What –"
"I'll be fine," he said shortly. "It's nothing I haven't done before."
That silenced her, and under her livid gaze, Henry marched from the Hospital Wing and to Gryffindor Tower. He had no desire to really return to his dormitory where the broken pieces of mirror were still doubtlessly spread about, but there was no way in hell that he was going to stay in a bloody infirmary.
It must've been past eleven at night, but there were still many students up and about in the Common Room. As it was a Saturday and a Hogsmeade weekend trip, curfew was usually a little lax and even some younger students were still awake. Henry didn't realize that he was covered in Draco's blood until all conversation ceased as he entered through the portrait hole. He considered walking faster, but he wanted to see the fear in the Gryffindors' eyes. He wanted them to know – whatever news they might hear in the upcoming days – that he was still Henry Lestrange and he could show up covered in blood as calm and collected as always.
He smirked at the room at large, looking around to see what Gryffindors he was currently shocking. His roommates, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan, were staring at him, while the other girls in his year, Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil, gawked openly at him and then started to whisper furiously as his gaze landed on them. A swell of rage erupted in him at the sight of Jason Potter, who was sitting near the fireplace with one of those stupid Zonko's hat that Henry had seen in Hogsmeade on his head. The boy was staring at him with his mouth hanging open and eyes bulging, looking like a complete fool.
Henry clenched his fists tightly into balls. This boy represented everything that had gone wrong in the last ten hours: he was a Potter, a son of Lily and James, present at the failure of the mission and therefore Draco's torture and the death of Bellatrix. Through no fault of Jason's own (though Henry was completely willing to blame it on him), the Light side had decided that Henry was Jason Potter's long deceased brother. And here the stupid boy sat, mercifully ignorant of the news that was about to rock his world to the core, with a Zonko's hat on his head. How could anyone even think that Henry was a sibling of such a silly, shallow boy?
There was a part of Henry that wanted to hurt Jason for being so innocent and carefree, but another complication was not what he wanted right now. He continued to his dormitory and shut the door firmly behind him. House-elves must've come in and cleaned because there was no sign of the mirror and Henry felt a huge swell of relief. It was bad enough to be in the room where he had witnessed his mother's murder – he didn't need the device by which he had seen it there too.
Looking at his warm bed, he suddenly realized how tired he was. Earlier, he'd have given anything to sleep and wake up from this nightmare, but now it was starting to set in that no, this wasn't a dream. He didn't want to sleep and wake up tomorrow to face a world where everything had suddenly changed overnight, but unfortunately for Henry, he was human. He was exhausted and his body needed sleep.
His dreams ran rampant that night, but all were focused on one thing - Bellatrix's death:
Henry was in the dormitory, holding the mirror up to his face. To his horror, the entire scene of Bellatrix's death replayed itself for him. He watched himself react as if he was standing outside his body, but he felt the same pain that he had the first time.
As Voldemort's image faded from the mirror, the dream started itself over again, but this time Henry watched Bellatrix die from Riddle Manor itself. He stood where Voldemort stood, held Voldemort's wand, felt Voldemort's rage. "You betrayed me," he heard himself say in the high, cold voice of the Dark Lord. "I never thought you would be the one to betray me, Bellatrix."
Henry's mother furiously denied it, but Henry as Voldemort showed no mercy. He raised his wand and shouted, "Avada -"
No! Henry yelled and this time it was his own voice that echoed from Voldemort's body. He was suddenly standing across from the Dark Lord. Voldemort regarded him coolly and then pointed the wand at Henry instead of Bellatrix.
"Harry Potter," the Dark Lord whispered. There was no mercy in his voice and Henry knew the end was coming and yet, strangely, he cared not. The Dark Lord sneered once and cried, "Avada Kedavra!"
The green light hit Henry in the chest and he fell, falling backwards, the light fading from his vision ... he was going to see Bellatrix again ...
Henry awoke from the dream, rolling over. For a moment, he didn't know if he was awake or asleep or dead, but he was soon taken into another dream.
Bellatrix's voice was frantic. "My lord that is not Harry Potter ... I haven't – that isn't Harry Potter! It's Henry, Henry, my son Henry ...no, please ... My lord ... Please ... Henry? ... Henry, where are you?" Her tone had changed to one of amusement and pleasure.
"You have to guess, Mama!" shouted Henry, giggling. He was about five years old and currently hiding behind the sofa in the living room of Lestrange Manor."That's the whole point of the game!"
"All right," said Bellatrix's voice, sounding amused. "Hmm, now where could Henry be ... under the table? No. How about behind the china cabinet? No, not there... Hmm. Where could he be?"
Giggling like a maniac, Henry jumped out from the couch, ready to pounce on his mother and declare his victory, but when he leapt away from his hiding spot, Bellatrix was nowhere to be seen.
"Mama?" he called, suddenly uncertain. She'd been right there – where had she gone? The room at Lestrange Manor where he'd been playing hide-and-seek with his mother was empty. He turned around, expecting to see her there, but he was greeted with a wall instead. "Mama?" he called out again.
"She is not your mother," whispered a soft voice from behind him. Henry whirled around and saw Lord Voldemort standing there. The Dark Lord looked just as he did in reality, with a black cloak swirling around him like smoke, eyes blood red. Voldemort took a step forward and Henry automatically took one in the opposite direction. "She is a traitor," he hissed.
Henry was starting to feel fear in his belly. "Mama's not a traitor!" he protested loudly.
"Oh but she is. You have no idea the lengths of her betrayals..." The Dark Lord transformed then, into a tall, pretty redheaded woman with emerald eyes. Unlike in life, this Lily Potter was staring at Henry with cruelty and malice. Her voice was sharp and the end of each syllable she spoke snapped out like a whip. "She has betrayed you too, Harry."
Henry jolted at the nickname and he snarled at the woman. "Only Auntie Narcissa calls me that!" he shouted. "Stop it!"
Lily Potter ignored him. "Only Auntie Narcissa? Why, I'm afraid, Harry, that you have no aunt named thus. You have an Aunt Petunia, though I'm certain she is much less pleasant than your current 'aunt'." She cocked her head to one side and then continued."Henry Lestrange is not your name. You were never Bellatrix's child," she said, her voice slippery and sweet at the same time. "Never. You see her betrayal, child? Her boy was dead and she needed someone to love, someone to betray because, in the end, that is all she was good for... She raised you as Henry Lestrange, but you were never him. That boy lies dead in the ground and you, you my dear boy, are Harry Potter."
Henry began to scream. "Mum, Mum!" He started to back away from Lily Potter, who was advancing towards him.
"Don't be foolish," she soothed, arms reached out as if to hug him, but Henry was terrified. "I'm right here. I'm your mother."
He screamed only louder. "No! Where is she? Where is my mum?"
Lily Potter's eyes were leering at him. "I understand, Harry," she said, sympathetically. "You think she's your mother. She lied to you for years, betrayed you, used you. I understand. Don't worry, my dear Harry." She straightened and suddenly looked immensely proud of her self. "I've taken care of her."
"What?" Henry yelled, backing up even further. Terror was cursing through Henry's veins. "Where's my mama?"
Lily Potter stepped aside, eyes glinting victoriously, her cloak swirling about her like smoke. Behind her on the floor lay Bellatrix, her black eyes wide open in horror.
Henry screamed and took another step, this time tripping over the coffee table. He landed hard on his elbows and cried out in pain.
"Oh, Harry," Lily Potter whispered, coming ever closer. "My poor son. Did you hurt yourself? Here, let me see –"
"No!" Henry screamed, kicking his legs out to keep her at bay.
As his scream faded away, Lily Potter straightened, her eyes even colder than before. "You want her?" she hissed. "You want the woman who stole you from me? The woman who stole your whole life? The woman who raised you to be a killer? You want her? Well, you can have her."
Like Voldemort had changed into her, Lily Potter dissolved and was replaced by Bellatrix. This Bellatrix was cold and meaner looking than Henry had ever seen her in life and having just seen her dead body, he whimpered at the sight of her.
"She's right," said Bellatrix. Her voice in the dream was strangely metallic, echoing in Henry's ears loudly. "You were never my child."
"Mum!" he cried out.
"I betrayed you, Harry." She sighed and stretched her arms out as if they were talking about the results of last week's Quidditch Final. "And you've never realized it. You were so easy to trick, so easy to manipulate ... You thought that I loved you? I never loved you. How could I? You aren't my son, you aren't pureblooded. You are the son of a Mudblood. You are Harry Potter, the Dark Lord's enemy. You don't deserve the name of Lestrange; in fact, you disgrace it."
Henry couldn't think of a response – he just stared at Bellatrix, his little mouth hanging open.
Bellatrix disappeared and Lily Potter stood there again, her arms outstretched. "Don't worry, Harry," she whispered, wrapping Henry into her embrace. Henry didn't even have the energy to struggle and even if he had, he wouldn't be able to get loose of her grip: it was like iron. "She's gone. The monster is gone."
Henry hadn't even realized he was sobbing. "Mama," he cried, over and over again. "Mama."
"Shh," Lily Potter whispered, tightening her grip on him. "Your mother is here now, Harry. Don't worry, my child. I'm here. I'm here."
Even the bravest of Death Eaters were quaking with fear at Lord Voldemort's wrath. He had killed four of them already and the back wall in his meeting room was completely burned from a furious fire curse earlier.
It would take hours for him to calm down, they all knew that, but since none of them had been dismissed, any movement would cause another Killing Curse to come speeding their way. No, it was best to stay immobile and wait until he had finished his rant.
"I have never been so ashamed to call you Death Eaters," Voldemort spat. "You all are worthless, pitiful pieces of rubbish. You have all betrayed me ... allowing Harry Potter to live in our midst and then letting him leave once more ..." Voldemort stared at the quivering Death Eaters." Out," he said curtly. "All of you."
There had never been such a scuffle for the door as that night. In only a matter of moments, the Dark Lord was alone with Nagini. His snake, the only being that ever comforted Voldemort, curled up to his legs. "Master –"
"Get out!" he shouted in Parseltongue at her.
The snake regarded him with cold eyes and then dipped her head once, slithering away. As Nagini's tail whipped the corner of the door as she departed, Voldemort suddenly felt more alone than ever. Furious at the emotion, he flicked his hand at the table. It overturned, snapping the chairs like twigs and sending paper flying everywhere.
The Dark Lord stood in the midst of the falling paper, livid. Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom had been in his house tonight. They'd been here tonight – both of them! – and his idiotic Death Eaters had allowed them to escape.
The ones who had done that had already been dealt with, but there would be more punishments, yes, many more. Voldemort had never felt such rage, not only at the Death Eaters, but at himself.
He had been foolish, very foolish. It would've been easy to summon the boy here, saying that he needed him, and once Harry Potter had been in his presence, kill him right where he stood. He had been rash, and allowed emotions to overwhelm him.
It could not happen again.
Potter was going to die and Lord Voldemort was going to be the one to kill him.
Twisted up in his sheets, sweat pooling on his brow, Henry awoke suddenly from his fanatical dreams. For a wild moment, he had no idea where he was. Then, he recognized the scarlet curtains around his bed and he relaxed slightly. He wasn't in Lestrange nor Riddle Manor, he was safe in Hogwarts. At that thought – safe in Hogwarts! – Henry breathed out deeply in mirth. Who knew that one day this school would be the only safe place for Henry Lestrange?
The last name that he had been so recently accused of disgracing stung him and he shuddered slightly. The dream had been so real – the three apparitions he'd witnessed had been identical in appearance to their true persons.
Was it true? Was it true what the apparitions had said? That he had been betrayed by Bellatrix, lied to and used by her for years? What if it was true and he was -
Stop it, he scolded himself. Stop it, Henry. It doesn't matter what your dreams say to you ... you're Henry Lestrange. That's never going to change.
After only a few moments of lying in his bed, staring at the ceiling, Henry knew that he wasn't going to get any more sleep that night. Softly, not to wake anyone and warrant unwanted questions, he pulled the curtains open and looked out. The curtains hadn't been drawn over the window, so moonlight snaked into the room, illuminating just enough of it for Henry to easily get to the door. Changing quickly, Henry crossed to the door, opening and closing it behind him silently.
He walked down the spiral staircase into the Common Room and saw, to his frustration, several people were still there, and they all looked up at Henry as he entered. The conversations ceased almost instantly – a constant thing when he entered the room recently – but Henry just walked past all the Gryffindors and their pointed whispers of, "Isn't it past curfew already?" He almost snorted at their stupidity. He was Henry Lestrange and curfew meant nothing to him. Honestly, what was the worse the teachers could do to him – detention?
Lily and James hadn't seen Henry since they'd told him the news about who they suspected he really was a few hours earlier. He'd ran off, looking petrified, claiming that he needed some alone time and they hadn't heard from him since.
To be honest, Lily didn't want to see him right away. She was still processing it and, even though she was nearly certain that Henry was her son, she couldn't fully accept it yet. He had always been so cold to her in and out of class, uncaring about Muggleborns' rights and the like. It was hard to believe that this, this cold, unflinchingly dark boy, was her son. Even when Lily was in her darkest of moods, she barely reached the level of anger that an infuriated Henry Lestrange could reach. And still James, who had not been all that pleasant when he was Henry's age, was still never as mean as the boy was.
"I still can't believe it," James said, echoing Lily's thoughts. "He's just so ..."
"Cold?" Lily suggested, her voice dry. "I know."
James sighed, running his hand through his hair, a gesture he hadn't lost from his teens. "I can't believe it," he repeated.
Before Lily could help herself, she spoke. "He's never going to be our little Harry again, James." Her voice broke and James put his arm tightly around her, but she swallowed and continued. "He loves her, he loves Bellatrix. He thinks that she's his – his –"
"Shh," James consoled, hugging Lily. "It's going to take some time for all of us to adjust to this. It's not going to be easy, but we'll get there, okay?"
James was right. Be happy, she scolded herself. Harry is alive! Your son is still alive! But, as a nasty part of her brain said, wouldn't it have been better if Harry had died and not grown up among Voldemort and Death Eaters?
Instantly, Lily felt a rush of shame. How could she think something like that? It shouldn't matter whether Harry had been brought up by Death Eaters or Muggles or wolves or anything. He was alive and that was all that mattered.
There was a sudden knock on the door and James and Lily jumped. Once opened, the door revealed Dumbledore, who had a grave look on his face.
"Albus," James said, surprised. "What's wrong?"
"We need to talk, James," he said. "May I come in?" Dumbledore entered the room and took a seat across from the couch where James had rejoined Lily.
"What is this about?" Lily asked, hesitantly. Dumbledore looked quite serious; the usual twinkle in his eyes was gone.
The Headmaster didn't answer Lily's question for a moment and then he spoke again. "Lord Voldemort knows about Harry."
Both Potters inhaled sharply; this was another of their worst fears realized. Thinking that they'd have Harry for a while before Voldemort was after him again had been a wishful dream, but a dream nonetheless. "How did he find out?"
"I do not know yet," Dumbledore said. "But, he was furious and dolled punishments out among members of the Lestrange and Malfoy families." He paused and then said, "He tortured Draco Malfoy nearly to death."
Lily put her hand to her mouth and James swore. "Merlin. Is he -?"
"He is alive," Dumbledore reassured. "He is resting in the Hospital Wing now after being rescued from Voldemort's headquarters by Henry."
"What?" Lily and James said, in surprised unison. "Rescued from -?"
"Yes. Henry went to rescue Draco a few hours ago and returned about twenty minutes ago."
"Is he alright?" James demanded immediately.
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, Harry is perfectly fine. While only he and Miss Granger returned completely unscathed -"
"Miss Granger?" Lily repeated sharply. "She went to Voldemort's headquarters, as well?"
"Oh, yes," Dumbledore said. "She, Ronald Weasley, and Neville Longbottom all accompanied him to Voldemort's headquarters."
James and Lily sat there, stunned and staring at Dumbledore. Before they could ask any further questions, Dumbledore continued, "Torturing innocent Draco was not the only punishment Voldemort carried out tonight." He paused, choosing his words and tone of voice delicately. "He also murdered Bellatrix."
For a moment, the room remained silent. Lily felt a rush of euphoria at Dumbledore's words - the monster who had stolen her child was dead!
"How is Henry?" James said swiftly. Immediately, Lily felt guilt wash over her again. Here she was, rejoicing over Bellatrix's death when, to Henry, he had lost his mother.
"As well as anyone can do when their primary caregiver is murdered," Dumbledore said sadly. "I think that, for the time being, he should be left alone. All of this has been a terrible shock to him - he will no doubt need a great deal of time to adjust to the change in his life." Silence descended on the room again; both Lily and James agreed, somewhat reluctantly, with Dumbledore's last words. "That is not the only reason I came to talk to you tonight," Dumbledore said finally. "I need to ask your permission for something."
"For what?" Lily inquired.
"To tell the Ministry that Bellatrix is dead, and, therefore, the rest of the wizarding world. The Ministry would be eager to hear of the news, but as this is so close to Henry, I leave the decision up to you. You are his parents and it is your decision."
Lily and James looked at each other. If they told about Bellatrix, then the news about Henry would only come out sooner. Both looked torn between keeping the secret so they could personally get adjusted to it all but at the same time wanted the world to know their elation that Harry hadn't died all those years ago.
"We can't really keep this from the public, can we?" Lily said softly to James. "They all have a right to know that we have hope again."
Dumbledore smiled gently. "I won't tell the Ministry about Henry yet; not until the blood test confirms it." He stood and made to leave, but paused at the doorway. "Hope never left us, Lily. But, now we have a tangible cause to start fighting again - redemption for Harry Potter and justice for his parents."
It was a chilly morning for late October; the sun shone high and cold, in the sky. Henry was sitting by himself on the ground, his body raw and frozen from sitting outside all night. He'd made a small, magical fire at one point to keep warm, but that had burned out and now, as the sun had risen a few minutes ago, he didn't recast it.
He was staring at the slightly rippling lake surface, not really seeing it. He'd skipped out on breakfast; he wasn't hungry, even though he hadn't eaten for almost a whole day.
A cold breeze kicked up and he shivered as it struck his face, but felt the wintry wind as a welcome relief from the numbness he was feeling inside. The adrenaline he'd had when saving Draco had worn off and the hollow feeling had returned. The only parent he had ever known was dead – killed by the man that Henry had looked up to his whole life.
He hadn't shed one tear since last night when he had broken down in the hallway. Bellatrix would have been furious had she seen her son crying, especially over her.
He heard footsteps crunching on the leaves behind him. Silently, barely moving, he gripped his wand, ready to curse the person to hell and back.
"Henry?" said a soft voice, almost nervously. The footsteps stopped. "Are you – I brought you some toast. You missed breakfast ..."
It was Hermione. Henry loosened his grip on his wand, but only slightly.
"No, I'm not hungry," he said, his voice dull and monotone.
He could sense Hermione still standing there, awkwardly, for a few minutes. Then she lowered herself down beside him. She was holding a napkin wrapped around two faintly steaming pieces of toast.
"When did you get out of the Hospital Wing?" Henry asked dully.
"About an hour ago," Hermione said. Her voice was cautious, distant. "I felt perfectly fine when I woke up so she released me."
"Is Draco still there?"
Hermione nodded. "As far as I know. The curtains are up around his bed, but Madam Pomfrey had him all bandaged when I went to sleep last night."
Good, Henry thought. At least Draco was in safe hands.
They were silent for several minutes, both staring out at the lake. Finally, Hermione said, her voice quiet, "I know you won't believe me, but I'm really sorry about your mother, Henry."
Henry clenched his fists; a Hogwarts student being sorry for Bellatrix's death meant next to nothing to him for it was an obvious lie, but he did recognize that Hermione was the only one who treated her death like Harry had just lost his mother. When everyone else on the Light side found out, Henry knew that they were going to be uncaring about this – they would all rejoice that the monster who had killed so many of them was dead.
"Does anyone else know?" asked Henry quietly.
Hermione hesitated before answering, "Yes. The whole school does. It was in the Daily Prophet this morning."
"Oh," said Henry. Certainly Bellatrix murdered by Voldemort himself would create an uproar. "How did the Prophet find out?"
"Well – please don't get mad – Dumbledore told the Ministry about it; you can't keep a high ranking Death Eater's death a secret from the public," she said, speaking very quickly. "It wouldn't be right."
Henry didn't respond. He didn't know why he was surprised that Dumbledore had told the media; for Henry, the death of Bellatrix was a huge blow, but to Dumbledore it was just another victory over Voldemort and the Dark Side. Voldemort was murdering his own supporters - the Dark Side would seem to be falling apart to an outsider.
"So, what are you going to do now?" asked Hermione, her voice still soft. "We've got Draco back now and it's safe at Hogwarts for you both –"
"Kill Voldemort," said Henry automatically.
"What?" Hermione sounded stunned.
He turned to look at her, anger burning in his eyes. "What, should I run and give him a hug?"
"He killed my mother, Hermione!" Henry shouted. That was the first time he spoke those words and, even though he'd swore to not cry again, he could feel emotion stirring under the surface. "He killed her and he tortured Draco! Of course I'm going to kill him!"
Hermione just stared at him, saying nothing, her eyes wide. They lapsed into silence again, Henry's heart pounding with fury.
Then he started to think about what he'd said – was that what he had to do? Kill Voldemort? It had been the most obvious answer the night before, but now, in the morning light – was that the right decision?
Bellatrix wouldn't have wanted it: loyalty to the Dark Lord was the most important thing in the world in her view. Henry had also believed that – until Voldemort murdered Bellatrix. Now Voldemort was an enemy. An enemy who had killed Henry's only remaining parent. An enemy who had to be destroyed.
What else could he do? There were no other real options. Everyone would soon think that he was Harry Potter and now that Bellatrix was dead, dead by Voldemort's own hand, Henry couldn't return to him. Voldemort didn't care that Harry had been raised as Henry Lestrange, raised to be loyal to the Dark Lord in every way – in Voldemort's eyes, Henry was Harry Potter and had to be exterminated.
Henry could understand it all perfectly; he'd grown up with Voldemort, after all. It had always been Neville Longbottom who had to be killed for he was the Chosen One, but now that the prophecy could mean either Neville or Henry (no matter how much Henry was reluctant to admit it), Voldemort was after both of them.
Henry and Hermione sat in silence for a long time. Finally, Hermione stood, wiping the dirt off of her legs. "I'm going back in," she said, her voice a little chillier than normal. "Do you want to come?"
Henry shook his head. "No." He paused and then called, "Hermione?" The footsteps stopped. "Thank you."
After Henry finally returned to the warmth of Hogwarts, he headed immediately to the Hospital Wing to see how Draco was doing.
Madam Pomfrey clucked her tongue at the sight of him entering, but said nothing. Ron and Neville, who were both awake and sitting up, just nodded at Henry, and he passed by them to Draco's bed wordlessly. Parting the curtains slightly, he saw that Draco was still unconscious, though his wounds were all bandaged and colour was starting to return to his cheeks.
Henry didn't know how long he sat there beside Draco's bed, staring at his cousin and willing him to wake up but eventually Madam Pomfrey tapped him on the shoulder.
"I need to change his bandages," she said softly. "Why don't you go get some lunch? If there are any changes with him, I'll tell you immediately."
Henry nodded and, reluctantly, allowed her to guide him out of the room. He started back down the hallway, unsure of his destination, with his hands in his pockets and staring at the floor. The Great Hall would be full of staring students, so it was out of the question. He must've been subconsciously heading to Gryffindor Tower when he nearly ran into a group of people.
They fell silent at the sight of him and Henry was briefly able to see who he'd encountered. To his immense disgust, it was Jason Potter and his usual group of cronies. Like the previous night, fury welled up in Henry at the sight of the younger Potter.
"Move it," Henry snarled, shoving past them.
As he stomped down the hallway, he heard Jason call out from behind him, "I'm sorry about your mother, Lestrange. I know I'd be really upset if I lost mine, so even if yours was a Death Eater it must be –"
Henry could not believe what that little brat had just said. Was Jason Potter actually trying to offer condolences for Bellatrix's death? Henry whirled around, his wand already drawn. "You're sorry?" he hissed.
Jason looked startled, but honestly what had he expected from talking to Henry? "Yeah," he said defensively. "I am."
Henry took a step towards the boy. "Who are you to say that?" he snarled. "You didn't know her, you filthy blood traitor –"
"Hey!" Jason said indignantly. He and all his other friends had drawn their wands and were pointing them at Henry. Of them all, only Jason didn't look afraid.
Having these young students point their wands at Henry didn't faze him at all. "What do you know about death? Or loss? You've never gone a day without your stupid Mudblood mother there to coddle you –"
Jason's face was now furious; red sparks shot out of the end of his wand. "Don't you dare insult my mother –!"
"What is going on here?
Henry turned to see who had interrupted them and his stomach nearly dropped to the ground. It was James Potter.
To say that James looked stunned was an understatement. He stared at Henry and Jason with wide eyes and his mouth parted in shock.
Jason immediately flushed a bright red. "Dad, he called Mum –"
James cut across Jason. "Get out of here, Jace," he ordered. "Go to Gryffindor Tower and remain there."
"Go." James's voice was firm. Jason shot his father a dirty look, but retreated with a final glare at Henry, his friends repeating the gesture.
Once they were gone, James looked to Henry. Henry stared defiantly back at him, willing the man to say something about how Henry (supposedly his son) had just about cursed his other son. But, to his surprise, James just shook his head and walked away.
After skipping out on a whole day of classes, Henry made the trip to the Hospital Wing once more. He was desperately hoping that Draco would be awake today as he really needed someone to talk to. No one else understood what Henry was going through; like he'd predicted, people had rejoiced at the news of Bellatrix's death.
People were callously talking in delighted voices about it when Henry walked through the halls to the Hospital Wing. It was still early and before the first class of the day, and Henry wanted to see if Draco was still asleep. Madam Pomfrey let him in without a complaint – she seemed to be getting that Henry would just come in anyways.
To Henry's immense surprise, Draco was awake and sitting up in his bed, reading a book. He put it down as Henry approached, smiling. His face was still badly bruised and the smile seemed to hurt him, so he quickly stopped.
"Took you long enough to come visit me," he said dryly.
Henry rolled his eyes, but felt a surge of relief that his cousin was alive with his snarky attitude intact. "You've been asleep ever other time I've been here, you dolt."
"I'm sorry, but I've been a bit busy recovering from being tortured," Draco said. He sounded light about the topic, but Henry could see the pain flash in his eyes at the memory. It vanished and then Draco grinned wryly again. "Oh, and I've been meaning to thank you for dropping me so many times on the escape."
Henry rolled his eyes, laughing slightly. "If you weren't so badly injured, I'd punch you."
Draco shrugged. "Well, if you hadn't dropped me –"
"Oh, shut up."
Draco laughed, but then his eyes darkened, both from the pain from his injuries and the change of subject. "How are you?"
Henry didn't answer; he looked away from Draco and out the window to where the grounds were starting to fill with students on their way to an early morning Herbology.
"Bad," he finally admitted. "I have nightmares; I can't sleep..."
"I know," Draco said gently.
Henry couldn't help it; he scoffed. "All you do is sleep, Draco."
Draco didn't laugh this time. "Henry." He didn't speak and Draco leaned forward slightly. "Henry, I need to know." Henry had been expecting this so he kept quiet. Draco looked like he very much didn't want to say anything and when he spoke his voice was carefully distant. "Is it true?"
There was another minute or two of silence. Then Henry shrugged. "That's what the Order all believe."
Draco leaned back against his pillows, looking deflated. "Oh."
"Oh," Henry repeated glumly. "They want me to take a blood test to prove it, but I've refused so far." He was carefully watching his cousin's expression to see if there were any changes in it, but Draco's face remained carefully neutral. And then, Henry couldn't contain himself any longer. He had been silent for days, unable to speak to anyone about what he was feeling and he couldn't stop the words from spilling from his mouth. "I wish none of this had ever happened. This is all my fault. The Hogwarts Express, the failure of the mission, her death..."
"It's not your fault," Draco said sharply. "It's not, Henry, and you can't think it is."
Henry dropped his face into his hands. "It is, Draco," he said, weakly. "I've done it all -"
"Stop it," Draco said. His voice was so firm that Henry looked up, feeling ashamed. "You're being a pansy, Henry. Honestly ... here I am, after being tortured and you're the one in need of comfort."
Unable to stop himself, Henry grinned, guiltily, at Draco. "Sorry, mate," he muttered.
Draco rolled his eyes, and spoke again. This time his voice was the most serious that Henry had ever heard it. "What happened has happened, all right. There's nothing we can do to change it and there's no point assigning blame. The only thing we can do now is get revenge."
"Revenge?" Henry repeated, looking astonished. Had Draco just really said exactly what Henry had been thinking?
"Well, what did you expect me to say?" Draco asked, immediately defensive. "That I'm just going to forget what he has done to me? Done to you? He killed Bellatrix, he tortured me, he's manipulated us, threatened us -"
"Draco, I'm not arguing with you," Henry said, feeling a little amused. "I agree with you." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "The only thing is, though, I don't know where to start. We'll be on our own, Draco - What?"
Draco looked uncomfortable. "I've been thinking about that. You're not going to like it, but ..."
Feeling apprehensive and certain that Draco was right about him not liking it, Henry asked, "What?"
"I think that you need to take the blood test, Henry."
Henry stared at him. "Excuse me?"
"I know what you're thinking, but it'll give us an advantage -"
"What kind of advantage?" Henry snarled. "That'll prove that my whole life was a lie -"
"It will if you make it that way!" Draco insisted. "Listen, Henry -"
Henry got to his feet, angry. "You don't understand -"
"I do understand!" Draco hollered. "You don't! If I could stand up, I would, and I'd come over there and hit you for being so stupid. Listen to me. If the Order believes that you're Harry Potter, they'll help you destroy the Dark Lord! They can help us! They want him dead too - what does it matter if the Light side helps us? I know neither of us want to admit it, but they're powerful; they've held off the Dark Lord for years ... Come on, Henry. Use them to your advantage! It's not like you're turning to the Light side, but why not let them think you are? We can use them!"
Henry stared at Draco, unable to believe his ears. Was Draco seriously suggesting this? His cousin looked sincere, and Henry couldn't refuse him now, with him all injured and it being his fault (no matter what Draco said).
"I'll think about it," he said, begrudgingly. "Okay?" He turned to leave, realizing that he was already late for classes.
He made it to the Hospital Wing doorway when Draco called out. "Henry." Henry turned to look at him, expectant; Draco was looking oddly contemplative. "You know it doesn't matter to me, right?" His voice was hesitant. "It doesn't matter to me who they think you are. You'll still always be my cousin."
Henry stared at Draco. Hearing his cousin, whom he had loved as his brother for years, speak those words suddenly lifted a great weight off his shoulders and Henry realized that he had been terrified that Draco would abandon him. He smiled, gratified, and said, quietly, "Thanks, Draco."
It had taken Henry two days to think about Draco's proposition. He had argued with himself, but in the end, Henry had always known that Draco was right. He would have to eventually take this test and it'd be better to take it on his terms, anyways, then having it forced upon him.
He was currently sitting on Draco's bed in the Hospital Wing, holding a white cloth over where Madam Pomfrey had drawn a vial of his blood about ten minutes ago. She hadn't healed in yet just in case she needed to draw more blood later and it was really, really, irritating.
Henry refused to look over to the other side of the room where the Potters, Black and Dumbledore stood. His dream about Lily Potter had reoccurred every night since the first time he dreamt it and he could barely bring himself to look at her.
The blood examining machine was whirring happily, shooting different coloured sparks and puffs of smoke into the air from four different towered turrets. It was unlike anything Henry had ever seen and it was taking an enormously long time to give out the results.
Henry was staring out the window to where the Ravenclaw Quidditch team was practicing. They were flying about without a care in the world, laughing and tossing the Quaffle back and forth. Henry envied them, envied their carefree lives.
There was a loud beep suddenly and Henry jolted in surprise. The machine had finished its analysis.
Madam Pomfrey pulled out a piece of parchment from one of the machine's towers and read it over. Without making any motion to say whether it was positive or negative, she handed the slip of paper to Dumbledore. Like her, the Headmaster read it in silence but then his face broke into a smile.
That was all Henry needed to see. As Henry's world completely fell away from him for good, he looked back out the Hospital Wing window, to a now deserted, lonely, Quidditch pitch.
Henry had been left alone by the rest of the school for the rest of that night for Dumbledore had made the announcement at dinner. Henry had been warned, briefly, beforehand that Dumbledore was going to tell everyone at the school, but still he was shocked that the old man had revealed it all so quickly. He was also quite shocked that the Potters had been willing to do it; he thought they were unendingly callous for revealing this when Henry hadn't adjusted to it at all yet.
The whole student body had avoided him since the announcement that evening. He'd tried, in vain, to go to the library to study for a huge test coming up (it was something to keep his mind occupied) but the stares and whispers had been unavoidable.
Finally, he left the library after the unproductive study session and came straight up to his dorm, collapsing on the bed. He didn't know how long he lay there because the curtains were drawn around his bed, shielding his alarm clock from sight. It must've been several hours after he'd arrived there – thinking nothing, feeling nothing – when the door creaked open and Henry heard soft footsteps enter.
"Is he asleep, d'you reckon?" whispered Seamus Finnigan's voice.
"I dunno," Weasley's whispered back. "I'd just want to sleep after what he's been through: losing his mum only to find out that she wasn't his mum in the first place."
There was a small silence and then Dean Thomas spoke. "So what do you guys think? About him being Harry Potter? Reckon it's true?"
The other boys didn't answer right away and then Weasley spoke. "He does look a lot like James Potter. And if Dumbledore thinks it's true ..."
Henry was disgusted, even more than usual when Weasley spoke. Who cared about what Dumbledore thought? The wizard knew nothing, nothing, about Henry! He thought Henry was a coward, a man who had run away from his responsibilities as a Death Eater to the sanctuary of Dumbledore's beloved school – he had no idea who Henry Lestrange was! He had no idea what Henry had done, who he had tortured, who he had killed! He was an old fool! The Dark Lord had been right all along about him–
The thought of Voldemort suddenly made Henry clench his jaw and his thoughts were instantly then onto his mother.
Thankfully, Seamus interrupted his thoughts with a snort. "We all know Dumbledore's a nutter, Ron. I don't believe it; after all, the Lestranges and Potters are related. It's not too hard to believe that Lestrange looks like James Potter."
"You're daft, Seamus," Thomas said. "I bet five you five Galleons that it's true –"
"Honestly," interrupted Longbottom's voice sharply. "Betting on something like this? You lot are really insensitive sometimes, you know that? The bloke's mother just died, for Merlin's sake. Do we really need to talk about this right now? Seriously, mates – have some tact."
The others fell silent and nothing more was said on the matter. Henry heard the sounds of his four roommates getting ready for bed. He tried to block them out, lest they speak any more about the previous subject, but then with the courteous 'goodnights' the room fell blissfully silent.
Suddenly, Henry was desperate for the conversation to begin again; even their incessant and nonsensical chatter was better than these thoughts that were threatening to overwhelm him. It remained quiet for a few moments, before Finnigan's voice rang out.
"I'll shut it after this, promise, but I just want to know: Neville, what do you reckon about Lestrange?"
Neville didn't answer for a few minutes and then, when he spoke, his voice was sadly thoughtful. "I think that, whatever's the truth, Henry has still lost his mother."
The next day, everywhere Henry went, people were whispering about him. Henry was currently on his way to Transfiguration, trying to ignore all the astonished looks and whispered theories of the Hogwarts student body. Most students had the grace to face silent as he passed, but then would resume their conversations the next moment.
"Did you hear?"
"I can't believe it."
"Him, Potter? What a load of –"
"I heard that that's why he was Sorted into Gryffindor."
"Did you hear what Jason Potter did when he found out?"
"Exploded, I reckon ..."
There was no avoiding it. Every possible theory or reasoning had been brought up, and Henry was infuriated with the whole situation.
What had possessed Dumbledore? How had telling the entire school that Henry Lestrange was Harry Potter been a good idea? Didn't the old man realize how hated the name of Lestrange was in these halls? How was telling these students that the boy they thought they had the right to despise was actually one of their prophesised heroes? It had been insanity to do so and Henry had never hated the old man more.
Henry entered the Transfiguration classroom just as the bell entered and so, thankfully, there was no time for any conversations. He got a seat at the back and was mercifully left alone for the whole class. Professor McGonagall ignored his very existence which was fine for him; he wished he could do the same thing.
After Transfiguration ended was Potions. Henry was dreading it and rightly so: if he had thought Severus Snape had looked at him in disgust and dislike beforehand, it was nothing compared to the looks the Potions Master now bestowed upon him. Henry had lost twenty points for Gryffindor for entering the classroom two minutes late, while a Slytherin had sauntered in after him and lost no points. When Henry had argued against it – he didn't care about losing the points, but rather the injustice of it – he lost another twenty.
Infuriated, Henry shut his mouth and resorted to giving Snape death glares. They were learning about something that Henry had known for two years and so, like always, he tuned out of the lecture.
That, it turned out, had been a very bad idea. Henry hadn't realized how furious Snape was about the revelation and if he had, he might've been paying attention when Snape tried to call on him for an answer.
Henry was jolted out of his reverie of thoughts about what he was going to do to Voldemort by a furious Snape charging towards him.
Oh shit, he thought briefly before Snape was in front of him. The Potions Master looked utterly furious, his dark eyes nearly bulging out of his head with rage.
"Perhaps you think yourself too important to pay attention, Mr Potter," he drawled out the name and Henry tried not to flinch. "You think that because you are now 'a hero', people will worship you? You, you insolent swine, have not seen the news. Not everyone is thrilled at the prospect of Henry Lestrange as the Potters' long lost son."
Truthfully, Henry hadn't seen the Prophet and had no desire to do so, but Snape flicked his wand and a copy slammed down onto the page in front of him. A picture of Henry, from where only Merlin knew, was on the front page, scowling under the headline Saviour or Scoundrel: Henry Lestrange revealed to be Harry Potter.
Henry clenched his hands into fists and tried to not react. He failed.
"Perhaps, Professor," Henry said, staring at Snape and trying to make his voice as cold as possible, "you haven't realized that I am one of those people who aren't thrilled. You think I want this? Maybe you should keep to teaching and I'll worry about my own life."
Snape looked like he wanted to punch Henry square on the nose, but then the bell rang. Henry shot out of his seat and was barely out of the classroom when Snape shouted after him, "Detention!"
Henry wanted to turn around and curse Snape, but he knew that that was just what he wanted, so he forced himself to keep walking. He walked all the way to the Hospital Wing, but Draco was asleep, so there was nowhere else for Henry to turn to except for his dorm room.
To his displeasure, the Gryffindor Common Room was crowded with students. As the portrait hole opened and Henry entered, it fell silent, as per the usual nowadays. Henry pushed his way through the crowd, scanning it briefly to see who was there.
Unfortunately, one of the last people Henry wanted to see - Jason Potter.
Henry had heard that Jason had nearly blown up his parents' bedroom when they'd told him about Henry. The boy was surrounded by Gryffindors, but his eyes immediately found Henry's. They locked briefly for a moment and then Henry continued on his way. Jason looked so furious and appalled that, for a moment, Henry had seen his own reaction there and seeing such a similar expression on someone whose face (Henry hated to admit it) was close to his own was too much. He hurried up to the dorm room and shut the door firmly behind him, leaning against it.
Henry hadn't had much to do with the Potters and he wasn't planning on it anytime soon. He knew there would come a time when he would have to face them, but for now he just wanted to wallow in his own misery.
Two long, torturous weeks.
A fortnight gone already since Bellatrix's death.
It had passed slowly but now, looking back, Henry couldn't remember a single thing he'd done. The Potters still hadn't reached out to Henry, and Henry was glad to have his space. The Hogwarts students were still whispering about him in the halls, but it was starting to become old news. People were calling him 'Potter' now and that was the most irritating. Draco had been released from the Hospital Wing and the bigger news nowadays was his escape from Riddle Manor. Neville, Ron and Hermione were being lauded with praise for joining the new hero Henry (ahem - Harry) on the rescue mission.
But, all in all, nothing big had happened at all. The Light side had rejoiced at Henry's 'return' but there had been silence from the Dark side. Lord Voldemort hadn't acknowledged anything.
It was a scary thought, Henry realized as he climbed the stairs. To think that the man who you had looked up to your whole life was going to try to kill you was ... frightening.
He reached the top of the stairs and looked around him. He had been summoned to Dumbledore's office and Henry had no idea why. He hadn't done anything to warrant a visit to the Headmaster that he knew of and really, he didn't want to go there for some other new 'revelation.' What, was he also half-mermaid?
He'd been told the password was "Cauldron Cakes" and entered the office easily. To his immense surprise, Neville was there as well.
"Henry?" Neville said, equally as surprised. While some individuals might've started calling Henry 'Potter', his first name had stuck with a lot of people.
Henry shrugged at Neville. "What's going on?" he demanded of Dumbledore, who was standing behind a large, stone basin.
"There are some things that I need to tell you two about," he said simply.
Henry and Neville exchanged a look. "About what?" Neville inquired.
"Neville, you have known about the prophecy for years, but Harry -" (Henry flinched slightly at the name) -"you most likely never heard the whole thing in full."
It was true. He'd known it vaguely since he'd been little but the exact words had always been kept from him.
Pulling the large basin that Henry now recognized as a Pensieve towards him, Dumbledore gestured for Henry to come closer.
"You are familiar with this -?"
"Yes," Henry said shortly. He knew what was expected, so he dropped his head into the Pensieve. Immediately, he fell into a memory; it was one of Dumbledore's.
The Headmaster looked quite a bit younger, but still had his shiny silver beard and hair. He was listening, looking terribly bored, to a wild looking woman that Henry recognized as the Divination teacher Sybill Trelawney.
Henry was very confused. What the hell was he doing, being shown this memory?
Suddenly, the Dumbledore in the memory got to his feet. "Thank you for your time, but I'm sorry, Miss Trelawney. I don't think you'll be suitable for this position."
"But -" Trelawney sounded astounded and hurt.
"I'm sorry," Dumbledore said firmly. He turned to leave, but then Trelawney spoke again. This time her voice was hoarse and raspy and it made Dumbledore turn around. Her eyes were glazed over and she didn't seem to be present in her own body.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches," she whispered in that hoarse voice. "Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh months dies..." Both Henry and Dumbledore stood there, staring at her with agape mouths. She had been the one to have the prophecy? "... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ..."
Trelawney's voice faded into an echo in the cold room and, as Henry was tugged away from the memory, Sybill Trelawney shook herself awake from the prophecy.
Henry pulled out of the memory to see Neville and Dumbledore standing there. The words echoed strangely in his head: '... born as the seventh month dies ...'
He looked at the other two, thoughts racing through his mind. "But my birthday isn't in July - oh."
Dumbledore was smiling at him sadly, and Henry felt incredibly foolish all of a sudden. He'd forgotten; Henry Lestrange's birthday was in June, but Harry Potter's was July 31st.
"I don't understand," he said quietly. "What does it mean? Is it Neville or me?"
"That remains to be seen," Dumbledore said. "For the longest time, we believed it to be Neville, since you were assumed dead for so many years. But now ... now it could mean either of you."
Neville was looking oddly relieved, but Henry felt awful. The prophecy did technically apply to him, as much as he didn't want to admit it. And, besides, from what Henry knew of Neville, he had never even met Voldemort so how he could've been marked remained to be seen. Henry, however...
Subconsciously, he touched his forearm. The Dark Mark felt like a weight on Henry's arm. It wasn't necessarily something that Voldemort had done to 'mark him as his equal' but the Dark Lord only ever gave the Marks to people he allowed into his Inner Circle. In a twisted way, Henry could see how the prophecy might mean him.
It was terrifying.
"I know this is all so fast for you, Harry," Dumbledore said, "But I also know you." He was smiling wryly. "I know you won't be sitting here in Hogwarts, waiting around for Voldemort to come get you. I know you'll want to go after him right away."
That might've been a subtle dig to Neville, but the boy obviously didn't catch it for he was staring at Dumbledore with a very interested expression.
"But, before you do, there is something you need to know."
Henry and Neville just stared at him, both willing him to speak further.
The Headmaster sighed once and then said, "I'm talking, of course, of Horcruxes."
A/N: Dun, dun, duh ... Please review! Let me know what you thought of this one ... I'm not too sure about it ... but hopefully you enjoyed it :)