Harry Potter and the Tides of the Moon
Disclaimer: All JKR's, not mine.
Summary: AU After OOTP- After Harry is thrust back in time, he has to contend with surviving the rest of his years in Hogwarts and living his new life around people that he knows will one day become Death Eaters. Can he find the balance between giving people a chance and doing what he knows is right or will he crumble under the pressure that comes with knowing the future?
A/N: Thanks for the reviews everybody. Oh, and review again!
S/N: The story leaves Hogwarts after this chapter, so you'll eventually be getting the action you've been waiting for in time.
S/N2: This could be the last time that Harry writes in the journal. I've been holding this conversation since the first chapter, and now that I've used it, I'm not sure there's much else that Remus can do in this story.
Chapter 34: The End of the Beginning
The last months of Harry's Hogwarts time went by quicker than Harry could ever imagine they could go. The Wednesday immediately following his return from Easter break found Harry walking into the Headmaster's office as he had been doing nearly every Wednesday since the start of his seventh year, inwardly intent on learning all he could from the grand wizard. He recalled Dumbledore's offer the previous meeting in regards to teaching him magic, an offer he hoped was still on the table as there were many skills that Harry wanted to add to his repertoire that only the Headmaster could teach. After all, he had already used the Benumbing Hex that the Headmaster had taught him to great effect when he had to take on numerous Slytherins that night that Bellatrix made her decision, and he was certain there were plenty of other abilities that the Headmaster could pass onto him.
Upon entering the office and saying hello to the older wizard, he took a seat in front of the large oak desk. The Headmaster rose to his feet, and then walked around the desk to the tall cabinet that was set next to the desk, opening it to reveal a small bar, as well as a slew of other objects. "How was your break, Harry?" Dumbledore questioned as he poured them both a glass of an amber liquid, handing one glass to Harry as he came back around his desk and retook his seat.
"It was curious," Harry settled after a moment of thought, recalling the varying experiences that he had during the time away from school. "I met Andromeda and Ted Tonks, and then ate dinner with Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy; two very different experiences."
"I should say," Dumbledore nodded in understanding, having been the Headmaster for all four individuals during their time at Hogwarts—Ted and Lucius were quite different from one another, even more so than the two sisters were. "So your relationship with Bellatrix is moving on strongly, I see. That's good. You deserve happiness, Harry."
"Very much so," Harry agreed, taking a sip of his drink as a relaxed feeling washed over him. "She showed me that she's really trying when we were at Edgar's wedding, which makes me very, very happy."
"I wish I could have attended, but I felt it best if I sojourned myself from being an unnecessary distraction," Dumbledore sighed disappointedly, having wanted to see the ceremony and been part of the celebration thereafter for himself. "With me there, undoubtedly Voldemort would have taken actions to try and ruin the wedding, a situation I wanted to prevent."
"Isn't he afraid of you?" Harry questioned, recalling the conversation that he had with Edgar at the wedding, where the wizard relayed his opinion that Dumbledore couldn't capture Voldemort.
"He's not afraid in the normal sense of the word, as in a child that is afraid of the dark, but instead just knows that a duel with me is not worth the risk," Dumbledore shrugged, knowing that Voldemort would fight him if it came down to it, but would not purposely meet him in battle unless it was absolutely necessary. Additionally, he knew that if Voldemort was afraid of him, it was more because he was frightened about what Dumbledore knew about the past, rather than the might of his wand. "But he wouldn't have to duel me in order to ruin the wedding. There are other schemes he could concoct that would do just that."
"Yeah," Harry whispered, furrowing his brow in thought at what Voldemort could have done to ruin the wedding, all the while surprised at the candor in which Dumbledore spoke. There were probably a hundred things Voldemort could have done to try and kill Dumbledore without appearing at the wedding himself, which made Dumbledore's absence a rather wise decision in retrospect. "It was a nice wedding so I'm glad the Death Eaters didn't manage to ruin it. Edgar and Charlotte deserved it."
"I'm glad to hear it was a great night," Dumbledore smiled, as he raised his glass into the air in salute to the happy couple. "I believe I promised to teach you magic the last time we were here," Dumbledore started, placing his glass back down onto his desk and leaning back in his chair. "Let's get to it, shall we?"
Harry grinned at that pronouncement, happy that he didn't have to bring it up himself. "What are you going to teach me?" Harry questioned, earning a small smile from the older wizard as the man took out his wand from the top shelf of his desk.
An hour later found Harry leaving Dumbledore's office with more knowledge than he had previously and a newfound understanding of how a wizard of above average skill should duel. According to Dumbledore, dueling wasn't about dodging spells or jumping around like a gymnast, but instead, it was about twisting the spells sent your way and transforming your adversary's tactics to your own advantage. The point of dueling in the Headmaster's mind was to force your opponent to fall on his or her own sword, defeating them with as minimal amount of effort as one could. It was a novel theory to Harry, but one he hoped to be able to implement should the need ever arise, which he knew undoubtedly would upon leaving Hogwarts.
With his mind still on all that he had learned from Dumbledore, Harry took a stroll passed the portrait that Headmaster Kneen had pointed him towards and insisted that it would have answers to his questions about the Peverell brothers, but like the few times before, it was empty once more. He briefly wondered if the person had been destroyed in their other portrait, which would presumably be the cause of his long absence, but he still had hope that the portrait had simply forgotten to return like the Headmaster had suggested. He questioned the portraits surrounding the desired one, but they too did not have any answers for the disappearance. Sighing in disappointment, he headed up to the Ravenclaw common room, feeling a bit tired from the day and desiring an early night.
The weekend following was the finals of the sixth year dueling tournament, which pitted James Potter against the Slytherin Mulciber, a match that many knew would be a rout. James was known to be a clever and skilled wizard, an intelligent student that was talented in both theory and practice, even if he was believed to be a bit on the lazy side. Mulciber, meanwhile, was known as a brute with an evil sense of humor, someone that was only skilled in a select type of magic, that being dark magic, something he could not be seen using in a Hogwarts-sanctioned duel, which put him at a considerable disadvantage. Even so, Harry watched it with great interest, thrilled to be able to see his father using magic, happy to have been given the opportunity to see if his father was as gifted as people let on in his own time with his own eyes.
Sure enough, and with Harry's very own spell, the Sleepy Charm, James won the match in short work, earning the win for himself and Gryffindor as a whole. It was an especially quick duel in Harry's opinion with the two duelers only sending about four or five volleys each before Mulciber was hit with the orange jet of light. While Harry barely got the chance to see the full complement of skills that his father possessed, he was still able to see the talent that he had been hailed to have. Every movement James had with a wand was necessary, his actions were quick, and he had a position that always kept him ready for an attack, which all combined into a superb dueling form that greatly impressed Harry. Overall, it was quite intriguing to Harry to witness the early genesis of his father's dueling prowess—powers that would eventually evolve to such a level that he would be able to combat Voldemort himself with the help of Lily.
The hall was filled with energetic chatter as Professor Moonshine declared James the winner; Harry, Xenophilius, Bertram and Frank stood in the back of the Great Hall as they saw James, Sirius, Peter and Remus snaking their way through the crowd towards them. "Did you see it?" James said upon reaching the group of four, staring straight at Harry with a mischievous look on his face.
"My charm? Yeah," Harry agreed, impressed with his father's use of the spell that he himself had invented the year prior. It had taken him months to figure out its use, whereas his father learned it just by watching it being conjured once. "Good job, though I'm not sure it would have worked against me."
"Maybe, maybe not, I guess we'll never know," James replied with a broad smile, not seeing any reason in the future that the two would duel one another, either seriously or playfully. "Either way, I finished it for you."
"Finished?" Harry questioned, raising an eyebrow in curiosity, not knowing what James meant. While he knew the spell wasn't perfect, far from it actually, he thought he had completed it the summer before, so to hear that James had finished it was baffling to him.
"You didn't know it wasn't completely done?" James inquired confusedly, wondering how Harry had missed the faults in the charm. There were holes in the magic, small cavities that needed to be filled in order for the spell to be considered complete, each of which were patched by James in his preparations of the dueling tournament. "It had holes in it that needed to be sured up."
"Like what?" Frank asked, having experienced the spell's effects once before and not seeing any of the weaknesses to which James was alluding. To him, the spell had worked perfectly: it made him more tired and sleepy than he had been before being hit with its light.
"Well, being able to undue it with a simple Renerverate wouldn't be too wise, would it?" James replied, flicking his eyes over to Frank, respecting the Head Boy a great deal. There had been a few times where James would have normally gotten in trouble for his antics if Frank had not looked the other way since no one had been hurt by them, allowing the younger wizard to get off without notifying McGonagall or any other professor. "It would be positively useless then. The chocolate cure still works, though. Not sure you'd be able to eliminate that or that you would want to in all honesty."
"Agreed," Harry nodded, seeing the weakness by being able to undo it with a spell: it would be no different than a random jinx in that case, not unlike the Stunner. "What did you do to fix it?"
"I added a twist at the end of the flick," James said, using his wand to show Harry what he meant. He did the wand movements a few times, allowing the group to see the difference between how he did it and how Harry did. "It's a handy spell, thanks for showing it to me."
"Thanks for finishing it," Harry grinned, shaking his father's outstretched hand. His gaze flicked over to Sirius, who stood a few feet away, as if he wasn't completely comfortable with James just yet. "Oh, Sirius, I don't know if Alphard told you, but he's going to be coming by next Hogsmeade weekend. I'd love for you, as well as James and Remus, to join us if you want." Then, seeing Peter behind Sirius, Harry begrudgingly added, "And you, of course, Peter."
"He is?" Sirius questioned, earning a nod of agreement from Harry. "I'll see if I can come by, thanks for letting me know."
"No problem," Harry replied, watching as they all nodded and walked off, where they weaved their way through the crowd that was still hovered around. Happy to have interacted with his father and his friends, Harry turned back to his own friends, immediately seeing Frank's cocked eyebrow.
"Does he seem different to you?" Frank questioned, gesturing to the door in the distance to make his point. "Not that I was that great of friends with them beforehand, but they seem less...friendly to each other."
"They got into a fight a few weeks ago," Harry replied, seeing that Sirius had walked away with Remus, leaving James and Peter to themselves. "Apparently it hasn't been smoothed over yet. It will in time, though, I'm sure."
"I thought they were mates till the last," Frank shrugged, surprised that there seemed to be an issue between the two otherwise best friends. Sirius and James' friendship was well known throughout Hogwarts, with the two being compared to brothers by many a people, including their own teachers, who often separated them during detentions in fear of them having too much fun together.
"Anyway, about Hogsmeade, Edgar is going to be there, too," Harry said, wondering if the other wizard would want to join them. He had taken a liking to Frank over the past few months, even if their interactions with one another had been relatively brief, and wanted to become better friends with him because of it, knowing full well they would be working together in the near future when they both joined the Order of the Phoenix. "If you're interested in coming, I mean."
"Sure," Frank nodded in agreement, happily accepting Harry's invitation. He assumed tat Edgar would have notified him either way, but it was nice to be invited by another wizard, whom he had come to respect and like a great deal. "I'll see you, Harry. Later, guys," He said, nodding to Bertram and Xenophilius, who were quietly talking amongst themselves.
"Bye," Harry waved, as they walked their separate ways, with Frank heading towards the Gryffindor common room. The trio of Ravenclaws, meanwhile, headed to the kitchen in the basement for a bit of an afternoon snack.
Eventually, the next week passed and it was the Hogsmeade weekend that found Harry walking into the Three Broomsticks with Xenophilius, Bertram, and Frank. They took the only large table that was open, and ordered a round of drinks, waiting for Alphard and Edgar to arrive. The door opened, and Harry instinctively looked over to it, and grinned when he saw Sirius walk in. Looking over the bar's landscape and seeing Harry, Sirius headed straight towards their table, where he took an open seat opposite Bertram.
Just then, the door opened once more, and in walked both Edgar and Alphard, the pair apparently having met in Hogsmeade moments before. "Hey guys," Harry said with a smile as he rose from his seat to greet his two friends. "Glad you could make it."
"Good to see you, Harry," Alphard smiled, happy to spend the day with the younger wizard. His eyes flicked to the rest of the group, roaming over each person at the table, before resting on his nephew, which seemed to bring an even larger smile to his face. "Sirius, I'm happy to see you, too."
"Always, uncle," Sirius grinned, giving Alphard a hug as Edgar passed the pair to take a seat across from Frank.
Breaking the embrace, Sirius returned to his chair while Alphard took a seat across from Harry. "Alphard, this is Xenophilius Lovegood, Bertram Aubrey, and Frank Longbottom," Harry said, introducing the older wizard to his group of friends, all whom nodded when Harry mentioned their respective names. "Everyone, this is Alphard Black."
"Pleasure to meet you," Bertram smiled politely, giving a bow in his seat. Harry had told him that an older friend would be joining them, but he had no idea it would be a Black, a member of a family that was well-known for their pureblood leanings.
"You know my uncle Algie, don't you?" Frank asked, recognizing the name from something that his uncle had said one time or another. He knew that the Longbottoms were related to the Blacks, with his grandfather Harfang marrying Callidora, a member of the Black family that descended from Arcturus and Lysandra Black.
"I actually went to school with him, as well as your aunt Enid, though she was a few years younger than both of us," Alphard answered with a nod, recalling Algie from their days together in Hogwarts. While they weren't in the same house as each other, they had been friendly towards one another throughout their years there, which allowed them to have an amiable relationship once they left. "Is Algie still crazy?"
"Just about," Frank nodded with a grin, recalling numerous events throughout his life where Algie did something spur of the moment that turned out badly for him—and usually those around him, as well.
"I remember correctly then," Alphard smiled, realizing that he had not seen Algie for nearly a decade, a fact that saddened him a bit. "He had a humongous crush on your aunt in Hogwarts, it took him four years to work up the courage to say hi if I recall. He finally said it about ten minutes before we entered the boats to leave Hogwarts for the last time."
"Quicker than Xenophilius took with his girlfriend," Bertram opined, slapping Xenophilius on the back, which earned a few chuckles around the table from those that knew how long Xenophilius had liked his girlfriend before asking her out.
"I was patient, not scared," Xenophilius replied with a hint of a blush that seemingly gave away his denial. While it was true that he had been especially patient with making the first move with his girlfriend, it wasn't that he was nervous to talk to her, but rather he wanted make sure that he had the perfect conversation when he did finally approach her, which took time to master.
The drinks arrived, saving Xenophilus from any rebuttal, and after ordering some food, Alphard took his first sip and looked over the table. "So how did you all become friends?" Alphard questioned interestedly, wanting to know how they all had grown to be a group together.
"Edgar and I grew up together, and I know the rest simply from Hogwarts, even though I'm a Gryffindor," Frank said, knowing that he probably wasn't anywhere near as good of friends with everyone as the rest were. After all, he had spent most of his days in Hogwarts hanging out with Alice, who had been his most trusted friend in the dark times that surrounded them, with their friendship eventually evolving into something more.
"Xenophilius and Bertram became friends with me right away once I got sorted into Ravenclaw, Edgar waited a bit, and Sirius and Frank just kind of happened," Harry informed the older wizard, knowing that he was the reason they were all there and, as such, only he could really answer the question.
"Well, Bellatrix helped with that," added Frank, knowing that Bellatrix had played a part in Frank wanting to be friends with Harry, even though they hadn't truly become friends until Edgar's bachelor party. "I had to go to you to actually understand her sometimes, so that gave us a real reason to talk."
"Speaking of which, where is Bellatrix?" Sirius asked, wondering why his cousin wasn't there. With Bellatrix avoiding all of her former Slytherin friends, he didn't know who else she would be with on the weekends if not Harry, as he seemed to be the only one that was able to keep her on the right track.
"She's with her sister and not the one you think," Harry smiled, happy that Bellatrix had taken the initiative to see Andromeda so soon after seeing her the first time. He didn't know what they were doing, but he assumed it was just lunch, as it was something that would go quickly if awkward yet could be extended if it went well.
The conversation flowed after that, sometimes with multiple ones going on at the same time. Alphard listened to various stories that the younger wizards had, while he himself informed them of certain things that he knew about the older members of their families.
Quietly, Harry listened to Alphard's anecdotes, finding the man quite entertaining, just as he had presumed he would. He could tell that Alphard was a lonely soul, which Harry hoped he would be able to change with his presence in the man's life. Overall, as the dinner was served and the conversation went quiet, Harry was excited at the prospect of having Alphard in his life upon leaving Hogwarts.
As the sun went down and the night appeared, Alphard made to pay for everyone's tab, but was stopped by Harry. "You're not a bankroll, Alphard, we'll take care of it," Harry said, waving off the wizard's generosity. He hadn't invited Alphard out to pay for the meal, but instead to spend the day with him in an attempt to include him in his life.
"The old people are supposed to treat the younger generation, Harry," Alphard smiled, but saw that Harry would not back down. "All right, all right, but next time it is on me. It was good meeting you all," Alphard said, as he and Harry stood up to leave. "Thanks for coming out."
"See you, Alphard," Edgar waved in goodbye, assuming that he would see the older wizard again due to Harry's fondness for him.
"Bye uncle," Sirius said as he took a few steps forward in order to give his uncle a hug. Though he had never voiced it, he enjoyed the fact that Alphard was truly a good person, someone that he was more than happy to call his family, unlike the others with the Black name. "I'll see you when school lets out."
"Okay," Alphard nodded in appreciation, before turning and walking towards the door along with Harry. "You want to come buy a present with me real quick?"
"Sure," Harry agreed, gesturing to his friends that he'd be back in a few minutes. "I have to get one for Bellatrix, so this works."
"You mean for graduation?" Alphard inquired, opening the door for them before exiting onto the main street of Hogsmeade, which was all but empty except for the few Hogswarts students that were heading back to the castle. Looking both ways, Alphard gestured for Harry to follow him as he made his way in the direction of the far side of the town, where most of the better shops were located. Many of the shops that Alphard used to frequent had closed down due to the Death Eater activities, so the few that were still open were the only choices that he had.
"Yeah," Harry returned, wanting to get her present early so he could concentrate on studying for his N.E.W.T.s from then on. While he wasn't worried about failing his exams, he knew they would be difficult, forcing him to dedicate all of his effort and free time in order to get the best results possible.
Alphard nodded in understanding, and gave Harry a sideways glance as they walked, heading towards the door of Dervish and Banges. "You know, it's funny who you are friends with," he said with a hint of amusement in his voice, finding the irony of Harry's life especially interesting. "They all seem like great men in their own distinctive ways, but still funny nonetheless."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow, not understanding what Alphard was implying.
Alphard gave out a chuckle upon seeing Harry's confused expression, knowing how vague his statement had been. "For a man that is totally against blood purity and discrimination, your group of friends consist of a pureblood from the Bones family, one from the Longbottom family, one from the Lovegood family, another one of your friends hails lineage from the Ravenclaw family, and you're dating a pureblood member of the Black family," Alphard continued to laugh, his small belly jiggling all the while. "It's a who's who of magical folk in that group of yours."
Harry gave a small smirk at that revelation, realizing it for the first time himself. "The difference is," Harry started patiently, not at all offended by what Alphard had said, but instead finding it kind of amusing himself. "I don't think of them that way. So long as they are good people, caring and kind people, I think of them simply as my friends; I don't think of them as the purebloods or the halfbloods or...wait, who is related to Rowena Ravenclaw?"
Alphard flicked his gaze over to Harry, a small, teasing smile playing on his lips. "The Aubrey family is really old," Alphard replied with a hint of mystery in his voice, clearly knowing something that Harry didn't. "But his mother's side is even older."
"Bertram is related to Rowena Ravenclaw?" Harry questioned, surprised by that revelation. He looked back at the Three Broomsticks in the distance, as if he could see Bertram from his spot on the main street of Hogsmeade, before shaking his head and turning his attention back to Alphard.
"If I'm thinking of the right witch in regards to his mother, yeah, they hail lineage from Rowena's brother," Alphard nodded as he thought back to what he knew about the various pureblooded families of the country. Having been indoctrinated by his father, he knew more about purebloods and their history than most did, though he did not use that knowledge in any way other than to make conversation. "They're not the only ones, obviously, but they are from the most direct line."
"You don't say?" Harry whispered, recalling how Bertram had alluded to another reason for being in Ravenclaw, rather than his own smarts. If Bertram truly was related to Rowena, however distantly, then it would be reasonable to presume that Bertram believed that it was solely the reason for his being in Ravenclaw, rather than his own personal intelligence. His thoughts receded to the back of his mind as they arrived at the store, with Harry opening the door to the shop and allowing Alphard to go in first.
They entered Dervish and Banges and Alphard made direct line to a silver device that was nesting on a wooden shelf in the back of the shop. He picked up the device, gave it a once over with his eyes, before placing it back down with a sigh, apparently unhappy with the selection. Shaking his head, he turned and walked down the aisle, hoping that he would find another item that was more satisfactory, but he knew it was a long shot. "So have you found a place to live yet?" Alphard inquired, looking over to Harry with a raised eyebrow, recalling the conversation the pair had during their last meeting.
"Ah," Harry said slowly, frowning slightly in displeasure. While he had been searching for a flat or house during the past few months, nothing had popped out to him, leaving his permanent living situation post-Hogwarts up in the air for the immediate future. "No, I haven't, unfortunately. I've been trying to look for a place, but I haven't found anything yet."
"Yeah," Alphard whispered, as he walked over to another shelf that held numerous metallic items of various worth. Some whizzed, others whirled, but most sat on the shelf silently, as if they were not magical. "Well, when you leave Hogwarts, come by my house and we'll talk."
Harry furrowed his brows in curiosity, but silently nodded, appreciative of the gesture from Alphard. As Alphard gazed over the an assortment of trinkets, Harry walked around the store, noticing that it was filled with a lot of different objects, almost like a magical pawn shop, similar to Borgin and Burkes, except not having an ambiance of darkness. He walked passed different shelves, before a glint caught his eye and he paused in front of it. He bent down to get a closer look, and though he didn't know why, he felt it calling out to him so he gingerly took it into his hands.
"Do you think Bellatrix would like this?" He questioned quietly as he heard Alphard's footsteps—they were the only people in the shop—in an effort to ascertain Alphard's opinion on the matter. It was not that he thought Alphard knew Bellatrix's tastes more than he did, but instead, he just desired the second opinion in an effort to see if his instincts on the matter were correct.
Alphard moved his gaze from Harry to the item the wizard was holding, giving a small smile all the while, unsurprised by Harry's selection. "Yes, yes I do," He replied, truly believing that Bellatrix would greatly appreciate the gift.
With an enthusiastic air about him, Harry brought his selection up to the counter, hoping that Bellatrix would like it when he gave it to her after their graduation from Hogwarts. Alphard too, brought an item up to the counter, and after paying for their selections, the pair exited Dervish and Banges. They said their goodbyes, and Alphard called for and then entered the Knight Bus after the short wait to depart to his house, allowing Harry to return to the Three Broomsticks, where his friends were still enjoying their time. They spent the next few hours there before leaving with Edgar going home as the others made the walk up to the castle in the distance.
The rest of the year passed by quickly, and before Harry and the other seventh years knew it, they were in the thick of their N.E.W.T.s, the exams that would decide their careers and their future prospects. He studied nearly every moment of the week prior, never leaving his trunk except to eat and only seeing Bellatrix when they were in the Great Hall. He stayed up late and woke up early, rarely getting a good night's sleep, but supplementing himself with Wideye potions that allowed him to stay awake for long periods of time without feeling the symptoms of tiredness. While the commitment was fierce, he knew that it would pay off in the end.
Finally, after nearly seven years of schooling, Harry found himself walking into the Great Hall for his N.E.W.T. exam in Transfiguration theory, having already performed the practical portion in the morning. Feeling a bit nervous, he stared at the table in front of him as he waited for the exam to start, his mind entirely on the hours that were ahead of him. As everyone stopped funneling into the Great Hall, Harry looked up to the proctor, who was staring down at a pocket watch as she raised her wand into the air. He looked around one last time, and gave a small smile to Bellatrix, who raised an eyebrow in response as an amused look took shape on her face.
"The exam will end in one hour's time," She said loudly for all to hear, making sure the Hufflepuffs in the back understood what she was saying. Harry drew his attention away from Bellatrix's desk, and looked back up at the proctor as the nerves doubled in his chest. "You may begin," She ordered as a flash of purple light escaped from the tip of her wand, forming into a large hourglass that hovered in the air at the front of the hall.
Harry grabbed the pieces of parchment in front of him as letters magically appeared and formed into questions. He began reading the test, skimming over its entirety, with the anxiety inside of him subsiding very little as his gaze moved down the parchment. He took a deep breath before dipping his quill into the bottle of ink and starting the test, answering the first question to the best of his ability. He slowly made his way through the slew of questions, skipping the ones that he did not know and moving on to the answers he was confident he had, before rolling back to any unanswered questions that he had left blank. When fifteen minutes were left, he still had one more question to answer, and upon completing it, he quickly read through the answers that he had written, hoping to correct any noticeable mistakes. He saw a few that he had answered incorrectly, so he quickly fixed his mistakes, making sure that he did not overlook anything obvious.
He had just put his quill down on the desk when the proctor called time, which earned a loud groan from the Great Hall, many of the students clearly not having finished their exam. Confident that he had passed, though certainly not perfectly, Harry gave the thumbs up to his friends, each of whom gave him a response with moderate enthusiasm. After he left the Great Hall, he traveled down to the kitchens with Bellatrix, intent on getting a snack before spending the rest of the day studying. They grabbed their food and hugged goodbye, with Harry returning to his trunk for a long day of studying. Sure enough, nearing midnight later that night, he exited his trunk and passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow, his mind filled with potions knowledge.
The next day found Harry taking his Potions exam. Like the previous exam, the morning had the practical, while the afternoon had the theory portion of the exam. He was less confident in his Potions answers than he was with Transfiguration the day before, but he believed he had passed as he walked out of the Great Hall after the test was completed. He had brewed the required potion to the best of his ability in the morning, and while it wasn't exactly perfectly, the sheen and the consistency were both very close to the requirement, while answering the questions somewhat correctly during the afternoon. As such, as he heard others discuss what they thought of the test and how they feared they did poorly, he felt somewhat relieved, inwardly knowing that he had done enough to pass.
Even though he was tired from the day's events and the accumulation of lack of sleep, he made his way back up to his room, knowing that he had to study for his Charms exam that would take place the following day. He quickly hopped down to the bottom of his trunk, and took a seat at the table that was in the center of the library. Reaching over to the center of the table, he grabbed a leather-bound book and a bottle of ink. "Hey Remus," he wrote, writing in the journal that contained the werewolf's memories for the first time in a few weeks. He wanted to try and clear his mind for a time before he started studying in an effort to absorb more knowledge.
"Hello Harry, how are you?" The response came in black ink, glowing for a couple of moments before disappearing back into the paper.
"Studying for my N.E.W.T.s, can you believe it?" Harry replied with a small smile, wondering what Remus would think about him being the age to leave Hogwarts.
"Already?" Remus wrote back instantly, before disappearing and new words took shape. "Your Hogwarts years went by quickly."
"I agree," Harry returned, having felt that the past seven years, even with all the trials and tribulations that were put upon him by destiny, even with meeting all new friends and making new enemies, passed by in the blink of an eye. "I have taken two already, and now I have Charms, Herbology and Defense Against the Dark Arts left."
"Charms will be tough, but I'm confident you'll get an Outstanding in Defense," Remus answered, believing that Harry was more than intelligent enough to pass with flying colors. "Just have faith in your abilities."
"I hope so," Harry replied with a loud sigh, adding, "If only I had Hermione here to help me study!"
"If she were alive, I'm sure she'd be more than willing to help; more like insistent," Remus wrote back in loopy blank ink that eventually was absorbed back into the pages like always. "Though, you are in Ravenclaw now, so I'm sure you have a lot of those types around you if their reputation is true."
A word that Remus had used had caught Harry's attention, and a confused look appeared on his face as he stared down at the now blank page. "Alive?" He eventually wrote back, wondering if Remus simply meant not in the past or something completely different.
"She died in your time, Harry," Remus returned nearly instantly, being bluntly honest with his words. "They all did. I was basically the only one left, which led to my decision to send you back in time."
"What?" Harry wrote back, both surprised and a little horrified by that revelation. Where was it coming from? Why was Remus divulging that information then instead of when Harry had first arrived in the past?
"Your friends and the Order of the Phoenix had been systematically taken out, brutally and quickly, and I was the only one of a few left when you were sent back in time," The words eventually responded, making Harry's stomach twist in disgust as the letters appeared. "I only survived because I was with the werewolves most of the time, but eventually, I too would have been killed, leaving you defenseless. The war was over: we lost."
"All of the Weasleys were killed?" Harry wrote back, his heart sinking with every letter that he scrawled. The idea that the entire Weasley family were wiped out because of him repulsed him to no end, bringing a great sadness to his heart. How had he not known that the war was over and Voldemort had given the Order of the Phoenix the greatest defeat they knew up until that point? How had he been ignorant about that series of events?
"Everyone but Charlie," Remus answered in the same loopy cursive that conveyed no emotion, only facts. "It happened a few nights before you went back in time. I didn't tell you because I didn't want to burden you anymore than you already were."
"But how?" Harry quickly questioned, wanting to know the entire story of what had happened to the people he loved back in his own time.
In response, Remus told Harry the story about how the Order had been defeated, how Voldemort had secretly planned and orchestrated the take over the Ministry long before he had revealed himself and Fudge had been sacked. Using the information that they gained from a cabal of well-placed informants within the Ministry, a small group of Death Eaters led by Antonin Dolohov had been able to place themselves in the perfect place to act quickly against the Order of the Phoenix. They eventually sprung their trap when a portrait in the Headmaster's office had informed another portrait of Dumbledore's death, with the news eventually reaching the portrait of an ancestor of Avery, who informed his descendent and then told Dolohov. Once word got out that Dumbledore was dead, the entire Order except for a select few were wiped out in a single night, falling at the feet of the Death Eaters that had outnumbered them. In Remus' words, it was clear to Harry that Voldemort had forwent short-term plans during the two years that the public was unaware of his return in order to accomplish his long-term goal of eliminating those who had the courage to stand against him, which seemed to have done exactly as it was intended to do. To Harry, the reasons why Voldemort had orchestrated convoluted plans was because it was a long con: he was slowly gaining the information and followers that he needed to win the war in one swift sword strike, rather than go for short, relatively simple plans that would give him small gains.
"It was the worst night of my life," Remus ended the story, this time the emotion of the event was clear in his writing, though Harry did not know how. "We were out maneuvered, distracted by the mass panic that the announcement of Voldemort's return brought to the country, and they won as a result. I'm sorry I didn't tell you before this, it's hard for me to talk about."
"Yeah, I understand. I should get back to studying, I'll talk to you later, Remus," Harry stoically wrote, feeling awful inside, as if he had been hit in the chest with a sledgehammer. While he knew that Hermione and Ron did not technically exist, he had no idea that they had actually died in his time before then, which came as a big shock to him upon it being revealed and made him confused as to how he was supposed to feel. Should he mourn them again, but their deaths this time, rather than their exit from his life? A thousand questions entered his conscious, all stemming from the fact that he had no idea how he was supposed to react to the news, which only added to his already tired mind.
"I'm sure you'll do well, but good luck!" Remus returned just before Harry closed the journal.
He sat there for a few moments, contemplating what he had learned, before shaking his head and pushing the negative thoughts to the back of his mind. He would avenge their deaths soon enough, the entire Order's deaths, but first he had to do well on the rest of his N.E.W.T.s, so with that in mind, he dove back into his studying, losing himself in the various Charms that he had learned over the past seven years. He read pages upon pages of charms, each of which he was certain that he had covered over the course of his schooling. He practiced the wand movements and remembered the effects of certain spells for hours, before falling asleep at his desk, his mind drifting off to happier times with Bellatrix as he dreamed.
And just as Remus had predicted, when Harry completed his final test three days later, he was fully confident that he had scored an Outstanding when it came to Defense Against the Dark Arts. His happiness was only cut short with the realization that he would be leaving Hogwarts the next day, a sobering fact when one took into account that it had been the only real home that Harry had known up until that point. With his good feelings somewhat subdued but still very much present, he spent the rest of the day packing and partying with his roommates, each knowing that things would be different after they left Hogwarts. Each knew that they would be in a load of danger outside of the safety that Hogwarts presented, but all were excited to finally be able to embrace adulthood.
"Ready to go?" Bertram questioned, watching as Harry gathered the final things in his room on their final day at Hogwarts. He ran his wand over his trunk, shrinking it down to the size of a matchbox, and pocketed it, before grabbing a small green box off of the nightstand next to his bed and placing it in his other pocket.
"Yup," Harry replied, nodding his head around his room, assuring himself that he had everything that he needed. He walked over to the door, where Bertram and Xenophilius were waiting for him, both with a nervous enthusiasm about them.
After leaving the tower, with the common room having been absolutely empty, the trio of Ravenclaws walked down to the Great Hall, immediately seeing that the hall was decked out in the colors of the winning house of the year, the Gryffindors. They headed towards the Ravenclaw table as chatter enveloped the room around them. In the air was a mix of excitement and reticence, with many of the students animatedly gushing about the oncoming summer, while the seventh years realized they were saying goodbye to Hogwarts for the final time.
They sat with a small group of friends, Greta included, in the center of the Ravenclaw table, surrounded by those people they had seen every day while in Hogwarts. The food appeared on the gold plates that lined the tables, which were filled with various meats, cheeses, side dishes, and breads for all to enjoy. It was one of the most extravagant feasts Harry had ever had at Hogwarts, making him wonder why it was different than the ones he had experienced in the past, though the deliciousness of the meal quickly distracted him from his curiosity. Eventually, the dessert was eaten, the plates were cleared, their bellies were full, and the chatter came to an end as they saw the Headmaster rise from his seat.
"I want to say goodbye to all those wonderful students that will be leaving our halls today," smiled Dumbledore, a great sadness overcoming him, the fact that he had said the speech many times before not diminishing that emotion. Each student was special to him, and to see one go always tugged on his heart, no matter how much he experienced that feeling. "You have a destiny outside of this school, and I wish you as much luck and intelligence as you may need to reach your goals. So with that being said, I would like to say a few words before I declare the End of the Year Feast finished. They are: Tweak! Oddment! Blubber! Nitwit! Thank you and good luck."
With a round of applause, a lot of the students rose from their tables and rushed to their friends to say their final goodbyes as they all started to file out of the Great Hall. "I wish I knew what those words meant," Derrick sighed as they started to walk, having gone the entire time at Hogwarts not understanding why Dumbledore had said those four words every so often.
"He's just mad," grinned Bertram, inwardly knowing that he would miss the comfort and safety that the Headmaster's presence in the castle brought to him. "That or they're the antithesis of the qualities of the four houses."
"Meaning?" Derrick questioned, having never heard that idea before.
"They're the fears that many have when entering into a new situation: blubber, they fear being useless; nitwit, they fear not being good enough to succeed; oddment, they fear being the odd one out; and tweak, they fear change or having to change to fit the situation," Xenophilius answered, having grown to believe that there was indeed a hidden message in Dumbledore's words himself.
Harry flicked his gaze over to the trio as a smile played on his lips, knowing that he would miss the random conversations about nothing in particular. "Nah, he's just mad," He laughed, knowing that Dumbledore was a bit eccentric in his brilliance. Seeing his mother talking with his father over on the side, he excused himself from the group and headed over to the pair, realizing that this was going to be his last time talking to them together while in Hogwarts. "Hey, you two."
"Dumbledore," James grinned, still fully aware of the help that Harry had given him when it came to Lily a year prior. He had listened to Harry and decided to wait to talk to Lily about the mudblood incident, and because of the time that passed when he finally did approach her, she had been very receptive to the conversation, as if she was appreciative that he didn't just march right in and talk to her about it right away. As such, he had been much more patient when it came to Lily ever since, which was starting to pay off as she was more welcoming to him than she had been prior.
"Harry!" Lily said in a chipper tone, happy to see the Ravenclaw that she had been friendly with during his time in Hogwarts. "Congratulations!"
"Thank you," Harry nodded appreciatively, giving his mother a small grin as a wave of relief overcame him. "I'm sorry we didn't get to speak much this year, Lily, but I'm sure you've been busy with your N.E.W.T.s." He said, trying to justify his decision to focus on Bellatrix rather than his parents.
"And with being a Prefect," Lily agreed with a nod, knowing that she had very little time for any of her friends, let alone Harry, whom she admittedly barely knew. "But I'm glad I got to see you before you left."
"Of course," Harry laughed, having seen how busy Prefects were when Hermione and Ron had taken up the position during their fifth year. "Do you think you'll be made Head Girl next year?"
"One can only hope," Lily returned, inwardly optimistic that she would be rewarded with the prestigious title. While she wouldn't be angry or jealous if she wasn't made Head Girl, for she was grateful for all that she had, she would be a tad disappointed, having worked hard over the course of her Hogwarts career to achieve her goals with the Head Girl being one of them.
"I'm sure you will," Harry said confidently, not wanting to spoil the surprise that both of his parents would be the Heads. Then, seeing that everyone was almost out of the Great Hall, he gave out a sigh, realizing that this was it. He knew that this was going to be the last time for a little while that he would get to see his parents, so he was trying to make the most of it, but he knew that his time was short. He had made his choice to pursue Bellatrix and his own life, rather than befriend him like he had anticipated, but he knew that when they all were part of the Order of the Phoenix that he would become friends with them like he so longed to do. "Have a good summer, and a good year next year. I'll be waiting for you both on the other side."
"Thank you," They both replied in unison, earning a laugh from each as Lily gently touched James' arm. "See you."
Harry looked down at the contact between the pair, and he couldn't help but smile at that, seeing that something was finally brewing. "Bye," Harry waved, before walking off, giving them both one last look before exiting the castle. He was frowning as the sun entered his eyes, warming his face as memories of Hogwarts swelled in his mind. He had just taken his last step out of Hogwarts and his first step into manhood, moving towards the destiny that awaited him, though he did not know what that would be.
As the rest of the student body of Hogwarts jumped into the carts pulled by the many invisible threstals, the seventh years marched towards the charmed boats in the boathouse, just as they had done seven years prior upon first coming to Hogwarts. Quickly, Harry made his way through the mob of seventh years, before coming to his group of friends, all of whom were awaiting him before they stepped into their boat. With a push, their boat started towards the opposite side of the lake, a trip that would take about ten minutes at the speed they were going.
Harry kept his eyes on Hogwarts as the boats slowly made their way across the lake. The castle still loomed large in his mind, but it was smaller to him at the same time, having conquered the unknown that he felt when he first took the journey across the late. He had been so scared, so worried about entering Hogwarts for the first time seven years prior, not knowing whether he would be smart enough to handle the classes, whether he would make any friends, and even whether he was actually a wizard for real. However, he quickly learned that he had more strength inside of him than he ever knew, inner power that carried him throughout his seven years worth of adventures, ranging from tackling a basilisk to traveling back in time. Overall, as his boat neared the lake's far edge, he was sad to know that he would never walk through the halls of Hogwarts as a student again, but excited for the next great unknown—it was the end of the beginning for him, with a new beginning right around the corner.
Upon reaching their destination and jumping out of the boat, the small group of friends all convened at the edge of Hogsmeade. "So we'll meet at the Three Broomsticks in an hour?" Xenophilius questioned, looking over to Harry, who had business to attend before he could celebrate with the rest of them. While he could have tended to it while the rest crossed the lake, he wanted to experience the celebration for his own, forcing him to push it back.
"Yeah, that should be good, and Edgar and Charlotte will be arriving around then, too," Harry said, agreeing with the Xenophilius' plan. "I'll see you all later." Harry waved, leaning in a kissing Bellatrix's cheek, before turning and walking towards the gates at the end of Hogwarts, returning to the castle he had just left. As he neared the gates, he saw Filch standing next to them, opening them as he arrived, granting him entry back onto the grounds of the school once more, where he would be meeting with Dumbledore one last time to discuss his future.
Giving a nod of thanks to Filch, he took his time as he traveled up the path, knowing that he still had about fifteen minutes before he was to meet Dumbledore. He entered the castle, and headed towards the Headmaster's Office, gazing around the empty halls as he walked, with fond memories of Hermione and Ron took shape in his mind all the while. He knew that it might be the last time he ever walked around the hallways, which gave him a great sense of nostalgia, unlike the accomplishment that he had felt when he took the boat across the lake one last time just a few minutes prior.
He walked up the moving stairway, and on the second floor landing, he encountered his Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Regula Moonshine. "Hello there, Harry," The witch smiled, coming to a stop a few feet in front of him.
"I was hoping to see you, professor," Harry grinned in response, happy to say his goodbyes to the pretty witch. He had grown fond of her over the course of his two years, firmly believing that she was the best teacher that he had ever had when it came to Defense Against the Dark Arts.
"So this is it, hm? Finally out of Hogwarts?" She questioned with a raised eyebrow, having always enjoyed conversing with Harry. While she would never admit it, he was her favorite student, though because of the nature of their interactions outside of Hogwarts, what with him saving her life, she did not necessarily view him solely as a student like she did the others.
"Just about," Harry replied in an amused tone with a small shrug of his shoulders, trying to pretend that he wasn't excited. "I want to thank you, professor. You were great, one of the best teachers I've ever had."
"You're not my student anymore, Harry, you don't have to flatter me," joked the witch, having witnessed the lengths that students went to get a good grade during her short career as a teacher. "But I appreciate the kind words."
"Oh, in that case, your classes were awful," Harry replied, winking her way as she stared back at him with an amused expression on her face. "Like, really, really bad. Maybe teaching isn't your thing?"
She continued to look at Harry, before she gave out a loud laugh and shook her head, enjoying Harry's sarcasm. "I'll be seeing you," She said, turning around and walking down the hall, presumably headed to her personal quarters to gather her things to leave for the summer. "Don't be a stranger!"
"I'll try not to be, professor!" Harry returned in a loud voice, hoping that she would hear him.
"It's just Regula now, Harry," She called out, before disappearing in the distance, leaving Harry alone on the stairway. With a small smile on his face, he turned and continued on his way to Dumbledore's office, walking up another few flights before arriving on the floor that would lead to the office.
He turned down the hallway just in front of the office's stairwell, and saw Alice Prince and Frank Longbottom walking towards him, talking quietly to each other. "Hey guys," Harry said, coming to a stop a few feet from the couple.
"Congratulations," Frank grinned, reaching out and shaking Harry's hand. He knew that they would be seeing a lot of each other over the coming months, so the moment wasn't as poignant, but still, the excited energy around him was palpable for all.
"Same to you two, as well," Harry replied, the fact that he had graduated from Hogwarts still almost unbelievable to him. "You're still going to the Three Broomsticks, right? We'll be going in like forty-five minutes or so."
"Yup," Alice nodded in agreement, happy to celebrate along with a whole group of others from their year. "Just got to apparate home real quick to see our parents, but we'll be there eventually."
"Okay, awesome, I'll see you then," Harry waved, passing them and continuing on his path towards the Headmaster's office.
He walked up the stairway that was already down, and took a deep breath when he came to a pause on the landing. Gathering his courage, he gave the door a knock and turned the knob to enter, realizing all the while that this truly was the end of the beginning of the magical life that he had started all those years prior when Hagrid had come to retrieve him in the hut on the rock in the middle of the sea, and that there would be a new beginning starting when he left the office and met with Bellatrix and the rest of his friends afterwards. He smiled when he saw the Headmaster behind his desk, the aged wizard looking as lively as ever in Harry's eyes. As he turned and closed the door to the outside world behind him, he was none the wiser of the fact that the new beginning he had been aching to come would in fact be the beginning of the end.
A/N: Sorry for the long delay, I've been a tad busy with life recently so it took longer than I expected to get this chapter out. But, like always, it's my birthday, so as is tradition, I knew I had to get it out for you today.