A/N: Yep, I know it's not Thursday. Sorry. However, I got wrapped up in writing this final chapter. I want to thank all of you for sticking it out with me and reading my story. I'm extremely grateful for this. As of right now, I am thinking about writing a sequel. It should be called something like "Child of Destiny." Either way, hope you enjoy.
Cadet Abernathy: Thanks so much for your review. I'm glad I answered all of the things you were curious about. I was kind of worried that I was leaving out something big. And I guess I'll be hearing from you soon with my new story.
Endings of Sorts
Somewhere in an undisclosed part of England, Lord Voldemort and his remaining followers gathered in an abandoned manor a week later. A moat surrounded the outside of the ivy-covered manor so that the manor's occupants would notice all visitors. It came in extremely handy whenever the offensive Order tried to sneak in their foolish operatives, which had only happened twice. Only known Death Eaters were privy to the password for the lowering of the bridge, and Voldemort had ensured that only his most trusted knew it. However, those numbers were dwindling, unfortunately.
Voldemort slowly stalked across the marble floor towards a black high-backed chair. When he found the manor a month ago, he knew at once that his luck was shifting. He and his followers had only had that small amount of time to search it, but they had found certain secrets that Voldemort believed would turn the war in his favor. In fact, the dark damp dungeons contained several interesting laboratories that someone filled with horrific experimental research notes. One such note explained the various differences between a Muggle and a wizard that the researcher found after dissecting both specimens. Another page of research cited how to purify the blood of a fetus in order to ensure that the child would be a pureblood at birth, since the unborn child would be the result of a romantic tryst with either a Muggleborn or Muggle.
In addition to the research, the laboratories contained volumes upon volumes of old spell books, which some dated back to Merlin's era. Today was not a day Voldemort would be celebrating, though. He had lost more of his followers to Dumbledore's pathetic group.
With a sneer firmly etched into his face, Voldemort angrily snarled towards his pathetic remaining followers who all cowered down out of fear. The exact second Snape showed his true loyalty to the insufferable old coot was when Voldemort knew his grand plan was not working. Voldemort's red sinister eyes then caught the cowering worthless plump follower closest to his chair.
"Wormtail!" he snarled towards the cowardly plump man.
"Yes…yes, my Lord?" Wormtail replied in his fearful stutter.
"Bring him to me at once, Wormtail!" Voldemort quietly chuckled when he heard the soft squeak uttered from the plump follower before skittering away towards a side room of the castle. He then sat down in his chair and glared at his followers. "You've disappointed me, Death Eaters. All of you have," he said in a very deadly voice. "Need I remind you what happens when you disappoint me?" Not a single follower replied.
"You sent for me?" an elderly man in navy blue robes silkily said as he glided into the room. The light previously in the room from the various candelabras appeared to darken the second the man entered. Shadows crept up the walls in a manner that looked as if in a scary movie. Soft groans echoed throughout the room with each step the man took towards Voldemort.
"Ah, this is most excellent. Regrettably, I must admit that I am in need of your expertise. My followers have been…" Voldemort then sent a horrific glare towards the five remaining Death Eaters who knelt on the floor. "Most disappointing to say the least," he spoke smoothly.
"I understand," the man replied as he threw a quick glance towards the five. He held his gaze for a few minutes before glancing back to Voldemort. "I take it that you did not kill the boy?"
"How dissatisfying for you," the man responded emotionless. He then brushed off his robes in such a manner that it was obvious the man was being sarcastic. "I take it you still wish to make your traitor suffer for his actions?"
"Oh, yes, that will never change."
"Then he will be left to you. I have no intention of interfering in that hornet's nest."
"As you wish, Elder Malante," Voldemort replied. Seconds later, the navy blue robed man disappeared. In response, Voldemort held out his long bony hand. He smirked as he felt Nagini slowly slither up to him. "Soon everyone will know that the Great Harry Potter is nothing but a broken dream for pathetic fools. I, the merciful lord, will relieve them of this false belief and show them the truth." Sinister chuckling followed the words in cold crisp August night. "It will not be long now, my pet."
In Lady Atal's chambers, the Great Lady herself felt the strange new wind enter into her room. Her cerulean eyes immediately darted towards her bay window that overlooked the Wizarding World. She noticed the darkness slowly settle over the world.
"It is starting again, my Lady," the Shadow calmly spoke as it walked into the room.
"Unfortunately, you are correct, Shadow." Lady Atal then turned to glance towards the dark-robed figure. "We have done our part, though. We must hope that it will hold for now."
"Yet again, the Council spared his life while telling us the opposite, my Lady."
"So it seems, Shadow. However, Malante will learn soon enough that things are not all that they seem this time. I have faith in the Shadow Walker. Do you not concur?"
"I do. However, I have serious concerns about the Shadow Walker's allowance to roam freely, my Lady. We should ensure that he remains on the path this time."
"Oh, I have no doubts of that. We have ensured that through our gift. No, what worries me is what Malante will do once he realizes the Shadow Walker's role. Malante is a dangerous man. We know this. Therefore, I must do everything in my power to prevent harm to the Shadow Walker and his mate."
"And the boy, my Lady?" the Shadow asked quietly.
"He is the Shadow Walker's, not mine. In any case, it is time, Shadow. You are free from the bounds placed on you. Go and be with the one you love. You belong to me no more."
"You will protect them, my Lady?"
"I have vowed to you that I would. It is not a vow I made to you or to Lily lightly."
"As you wish," the Shadow replied softly. Slowly, the black sleeved arms came up, and the hood lowered. As the spell was undone, the blankness left the familiar eyes. "I don't mean to sound as if I doubt you, but you truly believe that Harry will be safe with him, Lady Atal?"
"I've given you my word. Severus will protect Harry at all costs. You need not worry about your son, James. Now, go. You have done all that I asked. I return you to your wife." Lady Atal sighed softly when James Potter slowly disappeared from her chambers. "Forgive me, Lily. We must now rely on our ability to have casted right the sacred ritual on Severus. For Harry's sake," Lady Atal whispered.
A week later, Dumbledore sat calmly in his chair in his office reading over the list of names of the students attending Hogwarts during the upcoming year. In a little more than week, students would fill the empty halls as the term began. He had always loved the beginning of the new term. He honestly couldn't decide if it was from the new first-years maturing in their abilities to cast magic or to noticing the friendships taking place between the different Houses, but he knew he loved it all. However, this year was different because he had numerous Order dealings to attend to while he was also doing his normal headmaster routines.
This term Dumbledore knew he would have to rely heavily on Minerva. His only regret was that he wasn't necessarily on speaking terms with her yet due to the whole Severus debacle over the summer. She still was rather peeved over his treatment of Severus. Fortunately, Minerva only knew part of the story. Otherwise, Dumbledore knew that he would be sporting some lovely curse marks that were a result of some rare uncontrolled magic from the witch.
Dumbledore was just about to stand up to head towards his pensieve for a break when a small black owl flew in from the opened window to his office. His blue eyes twinkled as the animal flew straight to him with a letter attached to its leg. He softly chuckled when the owl held out its leg. He calmly untied the twine from the owl's leg before gently running a finger down its back.
"Thank you, my dear," Dumbledore replied rather amused. "I suppose you think I should read your master's reply?" The owl softly hooted in response, which made the wizard quietly chuckle. "Very well, we shall see what she says today. I must say that I have not ever had someone wanting to come to Hogwarts as much as your master, not even Petunia Evans was this bad." Dumbledore then softly stroked the owl as he silently reflected on the days before the war. It did not take long before he spoke again. "I suppose your master is more like her sister than I had first thought. You may rest here for the afternoon. I shall have a reply for you in two hours." His twinkling blue eyes then watched the black owl flap his wings wildly before it flew back out the window. As soon as the owl disappeared, Dumbledore carefully opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. He softly smirked at the tiny scrawl.
Dear Headmaster Dumbledore:
I realize that I am terribly bothering you with my numerous requests of entrance into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this summer, but it's only because I really want to attend your school. Beauxbatons Academy of Magic is nice and all, but it doesn't have my big sister. Please, Headmaster Dumbledore, you have to accept me to your school. I know that my sister doesn't want me there and all that other junk, but I have to be. I just have to be at your school!
You see, all I ever wanted to do was to go to Hogwarts, just like my big sister. If I can't do that, I don't know what I would do. I know I should be happy for being at Beauxbatons in the first place. Quite honestly, not a lot of witches can afford the place. Mom's happy and all that I'm there, but I'm not.
Headmaster Dumbledore, I hate it there. No one likes me. All of the other girls are either stuck-up snobs or horrid succubi. Okay, well, maybe they're not really a succubus, but I refuse to call them by anything else. I know that you've probably been in contact with Madame Maxine, and she's told you all about my anger issues. Well, you don't have to worry about that. Honestly, I just lose my temper at Beauxbatons because I hate it so much there. I know I won't hate Hogwarts.
I mean, I can't hate it there. Every break my sister comes home she tells me stories about it. She told me that a couple years ago you had a troll, which sounds very cool. I wish I had a troll. She also told me about the different Houses and ghosts. I think when I'm there I'm going to be in Slytherin. My big sister was in that House, you know. How silly of me. Of course, you know that. Please, Headmaster Dumbledore. Please accept me into your school. My big sister is at Hogwarts. Shouldn't I be there too?
I know that I'll be behind in my schooling because I'm sure the standards at Beauxbatons is totally different than Hogwarts, but I'll make it up. I promise I will. Please, Headmaster Dumbledore. Please let me come to Hogwarts this year.
Dumbledore sighed after he finished reading the letter. Carefully folding it again, he placed it back into its envelope. He then grabbed a spare bit of parchment from a stack on his desk and wrote his reply to Jezlyn's five-hundredth letter to him that summer with a soft smile gracing his lips.
Meanwhile in the dungeon, Snape silently paced his sitting room. He had been doing that quite frequently. In fact, it had been ever since his last encounter with Lady Atal. He just couldn't seem to shake the words out of his head. At some point in the future, he would be a father. That was what Salazar and Lady Atal revealed to him. It was a daunting and terrifying thing to think.
"You are concerned about something, my son," Eileen softly said from her portrait as she continued to watch her son. He did not reply, though. "It is not about that woman you have foolishly started to date, is it? I am sure that even she can learn new tricks." She smirked slightly when her son's eyes darted towards her. "Surely, you have noticed—"
"I fail to see how Aurora is like a dog, Mother."
"Oh, I can list numerous ways one could compare her to a dog, my son."
"And if you even start, Mother, know that I will slash your portrait."
"As you wish, Severus," Eileen quietly replied. She allowed him his solitude for a few minutes, but soon it was even getting on her nerves. "What is it that troubles you?"
"I am to have a child, Mother."
"She is pregnant already?" Eileen loudly exclaimed. However, she caught her son's glare.
"She is not. However, Lady Atal has revealed that Aurora and I shall have a child together in the future. It is…unsettling."
"Oh, yes, I can see how, my son. I do not blame you for being disturbed by the idea of being with that woman." Her son's glare deepened.
"I am not unsettled by the fact that it will be Aurora's child, Mother," Snape growled.
"Why ever not, Severus?" she replied dumbfounded. "That woman clearly throws herself at any man who happens to be walking by. Surely, I am not the only one who has noticed this."
"Continue with your words, Mother, and you will find yourself without a mouth," Snape threatened in a deadly low voice.
"See? She has already made you disrespectful towards your own mother. What's next?"
"Perhaps if my mother was not trying to denigrate—"
"Fine, Severus. I shall remain perfectly still for you."
"That is most excellent, Mother." Snape then sighed heavily and shook his head. The conversation was not helping to calm his nerves. "I am unsure what I should do with this information."
"Well, most certainly you will have to care for the child."
"That is obvious, Mother," Snape drawled.
"You truly have feelings for her?" Eileen's only reply from her son was his quick glance. "I see. Well, then I see you have no choice. The child will be yours, and you have already taken steps to ensure that you are part of its life by acknowledging its mother. I fail to understand your dilemma, Severus."
"Do I reveal to Aurora what I saw, though? Need I put her through that?"
"If you believe it is necessary, then yes. Merlin knows the girl has a mouth on her."
"Forgive me, Mother, but she was not wrong in her words."
"Then you believe that I am a—"
"I believe nothing of the sort, Mother. However, you intentionally provoked her to see her reaction. Therefore, the fault lies in you for causing that regretful line to come from her lips, not her. Perhaps next time words will be chosen more carefully before they are hurtled."
"I see that I have lost my son to the devil incarnate then," Eileen softly replied. "Good day, Severus." She then huffed in exasperation before disappearing from her portrait.
In response, Snape slowly shook his head at the empty frame. He knew that his mother meant nothing by her words. He could understand her frustration. Sometimes, even he wanted to turn and disappear so that no one would find him. Soon his concerns returned, though. He still was not any closer to finding the right words to tell Aurora what he saw, and he had only eleven more days before the start of the new term. He knew the minute he told her what he saw that everything would change. On one hand, Aurora needed to know what lay in store for her if he continued their relationship. On the other, there was a chance that he would lose her then too. Therefore, doing as any respectable Slytherin would do, he schemed of ways he could tell her a half-truth for later that night.
The day before leaving Grimmauld Place for Hogwarts, Harry Potter sighed heavily as he flopped back against an old sofa. Almost immediately, a dust cloud overtook the room, which made the small teenager choke. As soon as the dust settled again, he sighed again. Every year since his first-year had been riddled with…well…Riddle. Harry could only guess what Voldemort would do this term.
However, Harry could not stop thinking about what Snape had said earlier in the summer. The words kept repeating in his head. Every time Harry tried to sleep, he would hear Snape say, "Caring and protecting are two very different things, Harry." At first, the teenager thought he had misheard Snape. However, as the summer went on and he had more time to reflect on Snape's actions, he started to notice the signs. Snape may not have cared about him, but he was at least protecting Harry from Voldemort. Obviously, there was more to the Potions Master than Harry had first thought.
Then the whole matter of Snape referring to Harry by his first name instead of Potter came into question. All throughout Harry's four previous years, Snape always snarled Potter whenever something went wrong or whenever he just wanted to torment Harry. Though the short time he had spent with Snape, there were only a few utterances of Potter. Then again, Harry could understand if that slipup was only because the Potions Master was badly injured.
"Mate, you still thinking about that greasy git?" a red-haired boy asked as he walked in.
"Unfortunately," Harry replied miserably. "I just can't get it out of my head, Ron."
"Eh, Harry, that's probably just Snape trying to torture you again. You know what he's like." Ron then slapped Harry's shoulder. "Come on, Mate. Let's go eat. Mum's probably wondering where we've gone. Hell, you know what she's like when you're not there."
"Yeah," Harry said with a soft laugh while he stood up and followed his best friend. When the two boys reached the kitchen door, Ron stuck out a hand to block Harry. Harry instantly glanced towards him with a puzzled look.
"Whatever happens this year, Mate, know that Hermione and I are here for you."
"Thanks, Ron. Let's go before the Order searches for us." The boys then walked in together.
West of London in a large family estate, a young girl in emerald robes ran down the halls towards the kitchen as fast as she could when her tiny black owl headed to the manor. She had done this same routine every day that summer. As soon as she burst in, her honey hair waved majestically.
"Did it come? Did it come? Father, please. Did it come?" the young girl anxiously asked while a tall dark haired man stood in the doorway. His dark eyes instantly narrowed on his daughter, but he made no vocal reply. He only held out a small envelope. She squealed with delight before snatching it from his hands. She tore voraciously at the envelope and threw it far from her in order to get at the letter faster. Her green eyes quickly read the first sentence written in the fancy calligraphy.
"It came?" a golden blond-haired woman spoke with a hint of amusement as she walked into the room in an elegant green and silver robe. The man's arms quickly encircled the woman's waist.
"So it seems, Syra," he replied softly.
"Hmm…Aura is not going to be happy about this."
"Well, we can't keep both of our girls happy all the time, Love."
"No, but we did promise her that Jezlyn would be at Beauxbatons again this year."
"Did we?" he replied with a soft smile. "Oh, then I blame it all on you and your Slytheriness."
"You knew that when you married me, Orin." Syra then gently poked a finger in her husband's side before she said, "And this had nothing to do with my family, so don't bring that up."
"I GOT IN!" the young girl happily squealed. She then danced around waving her acceptance letter around for her parents to see. "Look! Look! I got in! Headmaster Dumbledore accepted me!"
"Congratulations, Jezlyn. You should pack then. The Hogwarts Express leaves tomorrow."
"Mother, do you think Aura will be happy to see me tomorrow?"
"I think your sister will definitely feel something. Now go." Jezlyn did not need her mother to tell her twice. She rushed to her room to pack. However, once she reached for the picture of her older sister to pack up, she stopped and gently ran a finger over the older dark-haired pale witch's picture.
"I'm coming, Big Sister." Jezlyn then sighed contently. "I'm coming to Hogwarts, Aura."
A/N: Sequel is now up as of 12/22/2009.