A/N: Well here we have it the final chapter (for real this time!). I want to thank everyone who has reviewed, favourited and alerted this story. You've kept me motivated andmade me want to write better to try to make this a somewhat alright story. This chapter is dedicated to you guys, it was particularly hard to write (I know I keep saying that however endings really are hard for me to write) but nonetheless I hope you enjoy it :)
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter.
I apologise for any spelling and/or grammar mistakes.
Harry was floating, moving gently by ripples his thoughts were generating. It was strange, almost like he was disembodied but still thought of himself with limbs, could still sense and think. For one insane moment he thought he was back at King's Cross with Dumbledore. However that was impossible, he was just asleep and moving in the stream of his unconscious mind. It felt oddly relaxing and slowly he felt more and more awareness come back to him. Flexing his fingers he moved his arm and lay it behind his head. It felt as if more of himself was appearing as the moments passed, as if he was being rebuilt and slowly he felt his strength return to him. He had been so tired, he remembered the weight he felt pressing down on his shoulders and could only compare it to that of Atlas, the titan frozen forever and holding up the sky. Yes, his burdens had seemed as heavy as the sky but that hadn't stopped him from trying to shoulder them. Ginny had changed that, she had appeared, like a pillar - alleviating the pressure for a while until he had been stupid and pushed her away. The Gryffindor part of him scoffed at him calling it 'idiotic' but upon reflection he realised that he had been. He had thought he was being noble by ignoring her advances or putting a stop to them. His reasons however had been valid, at least until Ginny had reminded him how strong she was. It was funnily enough on Halloween that he had realised that fully and, for the first time since he could remember, nothing bad had happened. He had felt content, happy however behind that he had felt selfish for giving in, for condemning Ginny to a lifetime of press attention and threats. He still felt like that sometimes but couldn't bring himself to pay it any attention anymore. Sure to him he was being selfish but surely it was about time. All his life he had given away everything, thought about everyone else before himself, now it was about time he acted in his own interest for a change. If Ginny wanted to back out she was free to do so, if she wanted to leave he wouldn't stop her. It would hurt him but he would rather suffer and her be happy than be with her and her be miserable. Feeling the current getting quicker he flailed his limbs helplessly. It was getting faster now and he felt like it was building towards something. The current was dragging him along and with a shock Harry realised that he was heading for a waterfall. Looking around wildly he tried to find something to grab onto but failing, he flew over the edge and was tipped into consciousness.
"He's awake" Harry was vaguely aware of Poppy casting a diagnostic spell, the tingling felt strange to his newly awoken limbs.
"Harry!" came Ginny's voice.
Opening his eyes he blinked as the bright light burned his retinas, sending colourful patterns swimming across his vision. Rubbing his eyes he tried to get rid of them and looking up he saw Ginny smiling down at him. The light seemed to make a halo around her, making her glow and add new warmth to her features. She was almost like an angel, guiding him back to the waking world. Slowly he sat up, his head spinning a little at the movement. Judging by his reactions he'd guessed that he'd been out for a long time. Yawning, he stretched, his bones creaking as they moved for the first time since, well a long time. He'd have to find that out.
"How long have I been out?" he croaked, his mouth was incredibly dry and he felt parched. As if reading his mind, Ginny handed him a glass of water, guiding it to his mouth. Gulping it down he felt the cool liquid almost rejuvenate him.
Looking to the left he was greeted with eyes that were exactly like his own, worry swirled in their depths along with a hint of… was that fear? Lily had tear streaks down her face but it just made her look devastatingly beautiful and as she gave him a watery smile he felt his breath momentarily leave his body. Flicking his eyes to the side he saw James was next to her, their hands were clasped tightly, giving each other support. James's hazel eyes were also looking at him with concern and his features were tight as if he were reining in his emotions. Harry could understand, Lily was looking to him for support and he had to look strong for her. He was surprised really, looking into their eyes he could see his parents shining through and not the schoolchildren he had been teaching for half the year. They seemed more grown up and he guessed that their capture had helped them mature, they were on the way to being the adults that would one day die for him.
"You've been unconscious for eight days, its January 3rd 1978" said Poppy, "Now Harry, your magical core has replenished but I daresay you'll feel a little tired for a while. Although you've been unconscious your body has been busy correcting your core damage and so you haven't technically been resting. Now because of this I want you to take it easy for a few days but we should be able to discharge you later on tonight if all goes according to plan". With that Poppy left, leaving him alone with Ginny, Lily and James.
"Harry, are you okay?" asked James.
"Yeah, I just feel a little tired, shouldn't you be in class?" asked Harry, his voice stronger thanks to the water.
"Its night time, we aren't that dedicated… well Lily might be" corrected James grinning.
"Hey! I would not!" exclaimed Lily, smacking James's arm.
"So anyway you have some explaining to do" said James, looking Harry in the eye steadily.
"I haven't told them anything, I thought you might want to" said Ginny, giving Harry's hand a squeeze.
"Do me a favour cast a silencing charm and raise some privacy wards" said Harry to Ginny.
Watching her set up the wards Harry mentally sighed. His nerves had came back and his stomach clenched at the thought of telling his story to his parents. He never wanted to scare him and had already decided just to mention the bare essentials and there was absolutely no way he would tell them about the horcruxes. Seeing Ginny step out for a moment, he was puzzled until he realised that she was probably retrieving his wand. Seeing no reason to wait for her - she knew it all already - Harry launched into it-
"Our family was targeted by Lord Voldemort when he became aware of a prophecy that told of a child born on the 31st of July 1980 would lead to his downfall. I was that child and so on the 31st of October 1981 he managed to track you down and murder you whilst you try and protect me. However when he tried to kill me the killing curse rebounds and hits him," Harry swore a flash of recognition passed through Lily's eyes at this but shoved it aside.
"I grew up at the Dursley's until Hagrid came and told me I was a wizard, I won't lie, my childhood was unpleasant and I was treated like a house-elf most of the time. During my years at Hogwarts I had to go against Voldemort four times, each time I managed to beat him. However in my fourth year he succeeded in regaining his body and that is when the second war began. I missed my seventh year following up on the mission Dumbledore had given me that related to Voldemort's downfall, a mission that eventually brought me back to Hogwarts. There was a battle and I managed to defeat Voldemort. After coming back to re-sit my seventh year with Ginny we began exploring the castle. It was during my exploration that I found the device that transported me back here. I'm sorry I know its a lot to take in" finished Harry, all through it his voice had been steady, he was surprised that he had managed to maintain it for that long. Just then Ginny came in. Harry guessed that she had been hovering outside unsure whether she should enter or not. Passing him his wand she sat on the edge of his bed looking sadly at the two pale pupils sitting by his bedside. As soon as Harry's fingers grasped the thin stick of wood he felt warm shoot up his arm, as if he had been reunited with a lost limb.
"So wait a minute, we die?" asked James, his eyes widened with shock and pulling Harry out of his reverie.
"Yes James, we do. However it has to be that way if Voldemort is to be destroyed once and for all" said Lily sadly, looking across at Ginny, Harry wondered what she had told Lily whilst he was unconscious.
"Did you really manage to beat Voldemort four times?" asked James.
"Technically it was five but yes he did, he's also saved my life more than once" said Ginny, squeezing his hand tightly.
"Yeah but most of those times I had help and it really was just luck-" started Harry.
"Harry James Potter stop being modest!" exclaimed Ginny.
"But its true" defended Harry.
"Urgh I give up" groaned Ginny, rubbing her temples.
"Looks like he's inherited your stubbornness Lily" laughed James.
"I'm not stubborn I'm just determined!" said Lily indignantly.
"Sure you are" said James, earning himself yet another smack.
"I'm going to have to have a word with Petunia about your childhood though" said Lily darkly.
"No, really don't, I don't want the future to change. I mean even the slightest difference can have great consequences" said Harry, copying what Dumbledore had told McGonagall.
"Not even a little bit?" asked Lily.
"No I'm sorry but I don't want to risk it" said Harry.
"But wait, won't Voldemort capturing us change the timeline? That only happened because you were here" said James.
"I've been thinking about that actually, do you think this was meant to happen, that we were meant to come back?" asked Ginny.
"We'll never know but the best we can go for now is damage control" said Harry solemnly.
"Wait does that mean your going to obliviate us?" asked Lily.
"No, I was thinking about an unbreakable vow, it would be too strange if you suddenly forgot about the incident when other's hadn't" said Harry.
"True, I suppose we should do that now whilst we have privacy" said Lily sensibly.
One by one both Lily and James promised not to reveal any of the information that Harry had told them of the future to anyone and Harry breathed a sigh of relief when the last tendrils of magic dissipated. The future was safe and his parents still knew who he was, it was strange but a part of him never wanted to erase their memories of him. Just as he hadn't gotten to know them, they hadn't gotten to know him and it would comfort him to know the man that he had became.
"I never got to know you and so these past few months have been amazing for me. Now I actually have memories of my own instead of stories and I can't possibly tell you how much that means to me" said Harry, his heart constricting as he remembered his parents fate.
"It's the same for us. Its nice to know that you grow up to be happy despite the harrowing childhood you have. You have became a great person and I mean it when I say that we are both proud of you" replied James, looking Harry in the eyes. At this Harry's chest filled with warmth, his parents were proud of him. All through his life he's wondered what they would have thought about him and his choices. He felt his eyes well up and couldn't speak.
"Oh Harry" said Lily softly, enveloping him in a hug. Feeling someone place a hand on his arm he looked up to see James, pride swimming in his eyes but also joined with sorrow as though he was mourning that they couldn't watch him grow up to be the man that they were so proud of. Immediately a bright light filled the cubicle and surrounded Harry and Ginny. Pulling away Lily looked at him, her eyes mirroring James' and Harry knew that it was time to leave.
"I don't want to go" he managed to choke out.
"I know love but we'll see you again" promised Lily, her eyes brimming with tears. Despite his anxiety Harry realised that she was right, to them he hadn't been born yet and so they would see him again and for one lovely year they would be the family that Harry had always longed for.
"We love you son and we're proud of you" said James, he too was crying, the tears pouring down his cheeks.
And then they were gone. The last image he had of his parents were them standing together, James' arms around Lily's waist both crying, their tears going unheeded as they smiled at him, bidding him goodbye.
"Are you okay Harry?" asked Ginny, placing her hands on Harry's shoulders, trying to lend him strength.
"I'll be fine, I just wasn't expecting it to be so soon" whispered Harry, his voice wobbling a little as he tried to control his emotions. When Ginny embraced him however, he lost the battle and she had to support him as his grief made itself known. It felt as if he were losing them all over again, but it was worse this time, much much worse. When he was younger he had grieved for his parents when he had been locked in his cupboard, thinking that if they had been there they could save him from Vernon and Dudley's cruelty. Now it was stronger as he was grieving for them, not the idealistic version. Now he knew what he had lost and what he could have had if the prophecy hadn't existed. For a few moments he had glimpsed the people his parents had been, for a few moments he glimpsed the future that had been stolen for him. For him a few moments hadn't been enough but there was no way to change it and that's what hurt the most.
"Sorry" he choked, pulling back.
"Don't be, that's what I'm here for... plus other things" said Ginny, despite her joking tone her eyes gazed at him, filled with worry.
"Ah Harry, Ginny your back, everyone has been quite worried about you" said Dumbledore, looking down at them from his portrait, effectively breaking the melancholy mood that had settled in the office.
"Hello sir, where is Professor McGonagall?" asked Harry, his voice was thick as he hastily wiped away his tears.
"She is currently having dinner in the Great Hall, did you have fun in 1977?" asked Dumbledore, either not noticing Harry's state or chosing to ignore it to save his pride.
"It was quite an experience" answered Ginny, taking a seat in the chair in front of the desk.
"Lily and James told me to give you something. They were quite precise about the date, the 3rd January 2000. I think its in the desk drawer" said Dumbledore suddenly.
Going over to the desk Harry rummaged around until he pulled out a box with his name on it. It was rectangular and about the same length and breadth as a post card. Placing it on the desk Harry stared at it for a few moments, wondering whether he should open it then or later.
"What is that Harry?" asked Ginny, coming over to stand behind him.
"My parents left me something and asked Dumbledore to give it to me today" said Harry numbly.
"Are you going to open it?" asked Ginny.
"Not right now" decided Harry. If he was truthful with himself he wanted to open it by himself. Hearing footsteps his head snapped up as the door opened. Professor McGonagall closed the door softly behind her. Turning around, her eyes landed on Harry and Ginny. The reaction was instantaneous and she stopped in her tracks, her eyes widening and her mouth agape. While she re-composed herself, Harry grabbed the box and handed it to Ginny who stuffed it in one of her robe's pockets - Harry was still wearing the pyjamas.
"Oh thank goodness your back!" said McGonagall, relief flooding into her features, Harry was touched that she had worried about them.
"Yeah we just got back a few moments ago" said Harry truthfully.
"Right well I'd better owl Mr Weasley and Miss Granger, they made me promise to alert them the moment you came back."
"Actually would it be possible if we flooed to the Burrow Professor?" asked Harry.
"Of course Harry" said McGonagall, throwing a pinch of floopowder into the fireplace and saying "the Burrow", immediately the flames turned emerald green.
"However I expect a full report at the start of term" she said as they stepped through the flames.
Stepping out of the flames Harry tried not to laugh as the Weasley's stared at them in shock. It felt strange seeing them again, almost as if a barrier had been erected between them. He hadn't realised how much they would have missed him. Not once had he thought that they might be suffering, wondering where they were and when they would come back. A tinge of guilt washed through his system as he mulled this over. Tentatively Ginny took a step towards her mother - Molly was frozen in the act of biting into a biscuit - and hugged her tightly. Just like that the barrier vanished only to be replaced with a wall of sound as they were hit with a barrage of "thank goodness your back" and "we'd started to think you'd eloped" - that was the twins - and other such phrases. Eventually when Harry felt his ribs would be cracked if he was hugged anymore, there was silence and the family calmed down.
"Where is Ron and Hermione?" asked Harry, untangling himself from Mrs Weasley.
"They'll be in the garden, they've missed you a lot and its hard for them, it was hard for all of us" said Mrs Weasley, her eyes brimming with tears.
"I know, I'm sorry but we're back now-" Harry began, trying to quell Mrs Weasley's tears.
"Harry, you needed to do this we do understand but it never made it any easier, however your right you are back now and I don't think Ron and Hermione will appreciate being kept waiting" said Mrs Weasley sternly.
"Wait, here" said Ginny, handing him the box. Taking it, Harry went out the back. Standing at the base of a large tree Harry saw two figures silhouetted in the moonlight. One was leaning on the other and they gazed up at the expanse of stars, swirling in the heavens like an exotic celestial dance. Moving over to them silently, he stood behind them, savouring the feeling of warmth that had spread through his body at the sight of his two best friends.
"Long time no see" he whispered softy, watching as they spun around to face him. His heart dropped when he saw that their eyes were filled with tears but he never had long to feel guilty over this as Hermione had wrapped him in a bone crushing hug.
"Never. Do. That. To. Us. Again!" she growled in his ear.
"I'm sorry" he said quietly, looking over Hermione's shoulder at Ron who smiled back easily, as if his best friend hadn't been missing for months.
"To be honest it was bound to happen sometime, I mean with no Dark Lord around Fate just had to throw something else at you" said Ron, effectively lifting the morose mood.
"True," chuckled Harry, "It was surreal."
"What happened? We know that you were teaching DADA in 1977 but that can't just have been it" said Hermione, pulling away and linking arms with Ron. This was how he had wanted it to be, part of him had been scared and five months was a long time. What if they had moved on and forgotten about him? What if he had put them through to much and this was the last straw? In that moment all these thoughts had been dispelled and he was instantly reminded of how good his friends were. They had been through hell and high water together and, compared to some of the things that they'd been through, something as trivial as an accidental time jump wouldn't shake the deep foundations of their friendship. He found himself easily falling back into the same pattern that they had and it was just as if he hadn't been away. He told them everything that had happened to him, even the parts about Ginny trying to get back together with him - Ron had merely chuckled and said that when she wanted something she damn well got it, in fact he was surprised that Harry had lasted that long! As they watched the sunrise, the garden was bathed in the warming rays that signalled the start of a new day. Yawning, Hermione said that they had better get to bed and so trudging back inside they found that everyone else had gone to sleep, giving the three friends privacy to catch up fully without fear of interruption. Biding goodnight to Hermione, Harry entered Ron's room, the boy to whom it belonged coming in a few minutes later a goofy grin on his face. It was good to know that their relationship was still going strong. Transfiguring a chair into a bed, Harry lay down, waiting for Ron to finish changing.
"Its good to have you back mate" said Ron before using the deluminator to switch off the light.
"Yeah its good to be back" said Harry, hearing Ron turn on his side. Soon the room was full of the sound of Ron's snores and Harry, feeling it was safe, pulled out the box.
Raising his shaking hand, Harry held the lid and gingerly took it off. At the top of the box was a piece of parchment, it looked old and was a pale yellow. Unfolding it Harry scanned the contents.
I'm writing this on the 30th October 1981, James is just putting you to bed. I know that tomorrow is the day Voldemort comes but I want you to know that we are not scared. Ginny told me how she survived the killing curse and I've surmised that you survive by the same means. If our deaths mean giving you life then we welcome it gladly, it is just a shame that one of us cannot stay and look after you but that is how it must be. I wanted to remind you how proud we are of you and it gives me great pride to know that you liberate the wizarding world of that monster. Even though we won't be there physically we will always be with you spiritually, please remember that. I've enclosed some memories of your childhood with us, I thought it would be nice for you to see for yourself instead of just through others.
We love you with all our hearts,
A/N: Right well that's it, its finally finished! I hope you have enjoyed this, I can tell you I've enjoyed writing this immensely. About the actual ending I felt like that was a nice place to leave it and I hope you did too. :)
Oh as for Fred being alive, I'm a twin myself and I never wanted George to be without Fred. If that were me I don't know what I would do and so I just couldn't bring myself to keep him dead in this fic... other twins will probably know where I'm coming from...
As always reviews are appreciated.