Disclaimer: Anything familiar to JKR's books probably comes from there and is hers not mine. Also, Harry Potter, Hogwarts, the Wizarding World, and anything else that has to do with it belongs to the lovely JK Rowling, not me. I'm just playing in her sandbox and building my own Hogwarts in it.

Chapter Fifty-Four

Everyone was surprised to see Harry awake and reading a book at eight in the morning when they woke up, but he had been up since six when his mirror vibrated on its place on top of his bedside table.

"Let's go eat and receive the Daily Prophet Samuel ordered for us," Harry told them with a grin, closing his book and shrinking it so that he could place it in his pocket. He would say nothing more on what he knew.

As they began eating in a somewhat full Great Hall, the owl post came in, bringing with it a newspaper full of news that Lord Voldemort – though they still called him He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and You-Know-Who – had returned.

"You knew?" Tracey demanded, and Harry grinned as he nodded.

"I was woken up at six in the morning with the news by Sirius. If I had to wake up early, I felt you all could wait ten minutes for the paper," he said, and the others were obviously annoyed but they couldn't deny he had a bit of a point. "Anyway, you can use the mirror this evening to call them. I want to just spend the day outside by the lake relaxing and swimming. OWLs are done!"

Everyone laughed at his happiness as he threw his hands up into the air in celebration. Around the Hall, everyone saw how relaxed they were and realized they had known this for the entire year, so it wasn't really big news.

When Professor Dumbledore walked into the Great Hall during the middle of breakfast, when most students were finally there, a cheer went up around the room, especially as Umbridge wasn't in the Hall. No one knew why she wasn't there, but they didn't really care either.

"What are you reading, Harry?" Tracey asked as he pulled out his book from that morning and began reading it while he leaned against their normal tree. They were going to go swimming in a bit, but they wanted to relax still.

As he held it up, most were surprised to see it was on the law system of Britain's Magical World. Grinning, Harry went back to reading it, trying to at least finish his paragraph before the reactions began. He just barely made it in time.

"You're planning on doing something with law?" Hermione demanded, and Harry closed the book as he sighed, nodding.

"You're planning to accept your seat, aren't you?" Draco asked, realizing the truth. A few pairs of eyes widened, but most were confused by Draco's words.

"Yes, though I hadn't known about it until I spoke to Snape," Harry said. "And what Draco means is that, once I'm done with school, I'm going to be accepting my seat on the Wizengamot." The Purebloods nodded while those who hadn't known about the seat blinked and tried to process the idea.

"I want to make a difference," Harry continued after a moment. "Changing the way the Wizarding World here in Britain is run and the various laws is something I can and will do in the future. It will mean studying for the next couple of years to be ready for the position, but Sirius is going to help."

"You'll have the House of Black behind you," Draco declared with a grin of his face.

"The House of Nott as well," Theo agreed. Harry had pulled him aside to inform him that his father had been captured the night before, meaning he would inherit the seat when he turned seventeen and left Hogwarts just as Draco and Harry would.

"If you're planning to do this, I'll ask my grandmother to train me, even if it means dealing with her toughness for hours on end," Neville stated. "Longbottom will follow you."

Around Harry, his various Pureblood friends all began to agree, and he was touched by their support. Those who couldn't back him in the Wizengamot still gave him their encouragement and said they'd help how they could.

"And Harry proves to be the Alpha of us all," Luna sang just loud enough to be heard by them all, silencing them.

"She's right, you know," Hannah mused quietly. "You're not just the Alpha of the colored Journals but the entire next generation."

"Our Alpha!" the twins exclaimed, each wrapping an arm around Harry's shoulders as they grinned. Harry elbowed them to get them to let go.

"Not another nickname," he groaned. "At least this one is better than those the public give me…"

The others laughed in amusement before settling down to relax and talk about anything and nothing.

"You called for me, Professor?" Harry asked as he settled down in a chair across from Professor Dumbledore in the Headmaster's office.

"Yes, Harry, I did," Professor Dumbledore sighed, unable to look Harry in eye. It gave Harry an idea of why he was there, and it didn't please him very much, though he would keep his anger down for now. "There is something I should have, perhaps, told you many years ago."

"Why didn't you?" Harry asked, knowing without a doubt now that it was the prophecy he had known about since he was twelve going on thirteen.

"In the beginning, it was because I was afraid you might turn out like Lord Voldemort did," Professor Dumbledore admitted with another sigh. "He was known as Tom Riddle, as you learned in your second year, and he was a Slytherin like yourself, an orphan. His interest was Dark Magic and gaining followers to become more powerful. He only wanted power, Harry.

"I'm afraid I thought you might be like that when you were Sorted into Slytherin. It took me a while to realize you weren't like him, but I still couldn't be sure. He was such a charming and dangerous young man, and I had to know if you would follow in his footsteps or not. The way you went against me and left your aunt and uncle's home… it scared me. That action reminded me of Tom Riddle."

"Anyone would have done that if they wanted to get away from a home where the people living there didn't love him!" Harry exclaimed, unable to hold it in any longer. "It's better to be loved and enjoy life than to be hated and brought down just to be protected. You were trying to deny me that!"

"And I admit I may have been in the wrong by placing you with the Dursleys," Professor Dumbledore said, and Harry snorted. Might have been? "Still, it did not help when you disappeared with Miss Weasley into the Chamber of Secrets, especially when I found you had hidden your Parseltongue ability. Of course, saving your young friend did help as it showed you had a penchant for saving people. That was one thing Tom Riddle did not have."

Harry's anger and frustration began to mount as he realized Professor Dumbledore truly had not seen he wasn't Tom Riddle for years after meeting him just because he was a Slytherin and not his Golden Boy. Still, he kept quiet, listening and allowing the flame to build.

"Your third year came around and you suddenly come to me knowing about Peter Pettigrew without an explanation of how, as if you had known the entire time," Professor Dumbledore continued. "Yes, Mr. Malfoy did claim it was his father, but you both were not truly friends, so why would he tell you? It did not make much sense.

"Finally, we came to fourth year," Professor Dumbledore sighed. "You somehow were entered into the Tournament, and what was I to believe but you might have done it yourself? Still, I let you prove you hadn't and had to admit you were innocent. As the Tasks went on and you created The Den, I began seeing you were both powerful and intelligent beyond what classes had shown. You were most certainly charming and resourceful, with spell knowledge and the ability to fight beyond your years.

"Yet, you helped the others during the Second Task and agreed to sharing the win with Cedric." Here, Harry flinched, remembering his dead friend. "Finally, though, my proof that you were different came when you said no to Lord Voldemort's offer of joining him to get your parents back. He would not have done that, nor would anyone only after power."

Professor Dumbledore sighed and looked at the ceiling of his office while Harry internally steamed. He couldn't believe what he was hearing! Five YEARS had been spent uniting the school and getting rid of bias and prejudice, yet it had taken the Headmaster four to get past his blindness and worry enough to see this?

"Then Minister Fudge began to interfere, and I realized I could not be seen with you, so I had to hold back even more," Professor Dumbledore continued, neatly stepping over his kidnapping of Harry over the summer, Harry noted. "Now, though, you informed Professor Snape of your vision, and you deserve to know what the vision was about."

"You mean the bloody prophecy?" Harry snarled, and Professor Dumbledore's shocked blue eyes locked onto Harry's furious emerald green ones. Harry was shaking with anger, barely staying in his seat.

"Yes, Professor, I know all about that bloody prophecy!" Harry exclaimed. "The orb you've been protecting all year? Yeah, it's a fake! I heard the whole thing three BLOODY years ago!"

Harry felt some smugness at the completely shocked look on the Headmaster's face, though he was also slightly guilty for yelling at him like this. Pushing aside the guilt, Harry continued on.

"I've spent five YEARS doing what no one has ever been able to do: unite the Houses! Yet you, somehow, have the ability to look at that and see Tom Marvolo Riddle in me! You – you, I don't have enough words to describe what I'm feeling right now after hearing all of this! Ginny has told me all about one Tom Riddle, and I know for a fact that I'm nothing like him. You've seen only what you want to see, Professor, not what's really in front of you." Sometime during that, Harry had stood up angrily, a glare on his face.

"So I'm not your bloody chess piece to control! It doesn't matter! I'm a person, not something for you to control, just as I've been saying for years! Every time I tell you, you ignore me. Bloody hell, you even went far enough to kidnap me last summer, turning the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix against the friends I left behind when I escaped!

"It's as if you believe you control everyone in the world no matter what. Who's the Dark Wizard, Lord Voldemort – or you?"

Harry was panting, and Professor Dumbledore was staring at him, his face showing the pain Harry's words had caused him. It didn't matter to Harry, though, as he knew that Professor Dumbledore had needed to hear those words, needed to be torn apart by someone. Maybe now he would be more willing to work with Harry, to listen to Harry, but only time would tell.

"Unless you have anything else to add, Professor, my friends are waiting for me," Harry finally said into the silence his words had left behind.

"You may go," Professor Dumbledore said softly, his eyes closed.

As Harry passed Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore's phoenix, the phoenix let out a soft trill that made Harry feel as if he had done the right thing.

Though he didn't know it, Professor Dumbledore felt the exact same thing from Fawkes' trill, making him rethink a great many things from over the past few years.

"What's wrong?" Ginny asked softly as Harry finally collapsed onto a thin, soft mattress suddenly underneath him after attacking a punching bag for at least a half-hour straight.

"Dumbledore," Harry muttered. "He finally wanted to tell me to prophecy but explained the reason he waited so long was because he didn't trust me until after the Final Task last year when I denied Voldemort's offer. I just got so furious at him…"

Harry trailed off, and Ginny went to lie down on the mattress beside him, wrapping an arm around his waist despite the smell of sweat on him. It was something one got used to after so much time training.

"Harry, we knew he was holding it back from you," Ginny said softly.

"We thought it was to protect me," Harry reminded her, "not because he didn't trust me."

"Still, Harry, you need to calm down," Ginny sighed. "Dumbledore is one man, not a god, not Merlin. He's human and can make mistakes, does make mistakes. Unfortunately, it's usually others who feel the effects of his mistakes before he does. Knowing you, you made him realize and truly feel his mistakes with you. Next year, when we come back, you'll go to his office when he calls, and you'll let him talk. When he's done, knowing you, you'll give him one last chance to work with you, even if you do sometimes run from his office in anger or cut him off. You'll still work with him."

Harry sighed, knowing she was right. Wrapping his arm around her waist, Harry kept his eyes closed and put his nose in her hair. They just lay there like that until Tracey came to find them, agreeing that a swim sounded like a good idea when it was brought up by the third member of their trio. The meeting wasn't mentioned at all between the three of them, and no one ever asked how it went.

Standing in the Room of Requirement, Harry couldn't help but feel a bit sad to be looking at the seventh years in front of him. They would be leaving in just three days, and they had all agreed to meet one last time so that goodbyes could be said between teachers and students. Beside Harry were Ginny and Tracey, and he figured they felt the same way.

"It has been one hell of a year," Harry declared, and most of the room laughed. "Umbridge is gone and will most likely be arrested over the summer, Fudge will be sacked, the truth is out, and Dumbledore is back." Everyone cheered, and Harry let them, taking in their grins.

"The thing is, you won't be coming back," Harry continued when they calmed. "After this, you'll rarely grace these corridors again, and in two days you'll be saying goodbye to the Journals for good." Many students looked quite sad about that, but they knew it would be the tradition.

"Still, there is a war, and it's about to get a lot worse. None of us want to leave you all without protection or a way to get help, so we're not going to." Ginny and Tracey each held up a dragonhide bag that Harry knew was expanded on the inside to hold what they needed.

"Tracey and I have spent some time here and there since Christmas creating necklaces for you, asking her father to make a Portkey in the shape of the Hogwarts crest that will take you to the home I used to live in before last summer. It will be kept stocked with food and clean, and those I live with will be alerted so they can help you. If the necklaces burn in a single, sudden, burst, it means Voldemort is attacking Hogwarts and we need you here."

As Harry spoke, Tracey had been passing out the necklaces, which were on leather cords like those they had used for the Journals, small pendants hanging from them. Each seventh year immediately put them on.

"And what Ginny has is every single sword and dagger owned between the Black, Potter, Davis, and Greengrass vaults," Harry said, gesturing to Ginny. "Tonight, you try them all until you find the one that is most balanced for you, as many of you won't find the perfect sword and dagger. I didn't. Still, you can continue to train with them yourself or with friends. If you wish, I have a list of charms that can be used to create and animate a dummy to train with.

"Please, accept these as our gifts for you as you leave Hogwarts. Use them well."

Ginny opened the bag and allowed Harry to charm the swords and daggers to fly out and stick to an empty wall that the Room had created. As the seventh years began finding their weapons, they took turns walking up to the trio to thank them, giving all three a hug.

When, an hour later, they were all ready and the weapons had been put away, the only thing any of the three could say was, "Goodbye, and good luck." No more needed to be said.

In the special room off The Den, almost the entire school stood by as the seventh years, one by one, kissed their Journals and gave them to the leader of their House in Harry's year. Harry took each Slytherin's and put them into the Slytherin case, the names wiped from the black Journals the moment they touched his hands to be put away.

When they were done, no one cheered, but the seventh years were hugged as more goodbyes were said to them. The next day was the day they left Hogwarts for the summer. In September, the new first years would be welcomed with open arms even as the seventh years were remembered.

Turning his back on the goodbyes, Harry looked up at Cedric's Journal, picture, and plaque.

"Cedric, basically the entire school is united," he whispered softly under his breath. "You'd approve, I know you would, and part of this was done in your memory. You'll never be forgotten, Cedric, never."

An arm wrapped around his waist as he looked up at the Journal, and Harry knew it was Ginny without turning to face her, the smell of flowers he associated with her reaching his nose. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Harry led her from the room, proud of what he had accomplished, sad at the leaving of the seventh years, upset by why he had succeeded at his goal so early, and just plain worried about the war that was both coming and already here.

"Another year, gone," Professor Dumbledore said as he looked around the room. Harry noticed the Headmaster was careful not to look him in the eye. "Seventh years, your lives are just beginning, but please, be careful. Lord Voldemort is back, and a war is coming." Harry was proud that not a single person besides the four not in training had flinched at the name.

"Hogwarts will always be open to those in need of a place to go. Remember that. Now, I believe we all know which House has won the House Cup, so please give Slytherin House a round of applause!"

The entire Hall broke into the applause, the Slytherins cheering for their win and the rest being good sports about it with smiles.

"Dig in!" the Headmaster called as the noise began to calm. Instantly, the anticipated feast began, appearing on the platters in the middle of the tables.

"It's so different from years past," Harry said with a grin. "Usually it's only polite clapping from a few people when another House wins, yet now it's just friendly competition between the Houses that doesn't cause much rivalry anymore."

"All because of you," Draco declared with a grin, raising his goblet to Harry, the rest copying his example, making Harry blush slightly at the praise.

All around the Hall, students were eating and chatting happily. For this one evening, Harry knew, they were pretending the outside world didn't exist and that there was no threat. So, he went along with the flow and began laughing as Theo retold some of the stories of the best pranks on Umbridge from that year.

As pudding came to a close, a loud bang was heard throughout the Great Hall, smoke filling the room. When it finally faded, everyone stared at those nearest them before looking at everyone else. Finally, the Hall was full of laughter, especially when they caught sight of Harry and Tracey.

Everyone in the school had been changed into black animals. Snakes were slithering all over the Slytherin table, badgers crawled under the Hufflepuff table, eagles were flying above the Ravenclaw table, and lions roared from the Gryffindor table. Up at the Head Table, the teachers were all owls.

Of course, Tracey and Harry were snakes, but they weren't black. Harry was pure gold, and Tracey was crimson red. Above them were fireworks with the words Scarlet and Gold written with them, two arrows pointing down at the Slytherins.

"Now I don't feel so bad about doing this," Harry muttered to Tracey as he touched his wand, which he had left next to his plate to activate his own prank in a minute anyway, with his tail, silently activating their prank.

Another bang was heard, and when the smoke created by this one went away, everyone began to laugh again while Harry looked proud.

The twin he knew was Fred was silver while George was emerald green, both still lions. Above their heads was a sign that read:

Fred and George Weasley!
Known as Silver and Emerald!
You'll both be missed!

The twins laughed as they recognized Harry's work, standing up proudly on the Gryffindor table just as Harry made himself high enough to be seen on the Slytherin table, Tracey beside him but not trying to be seen. The three pranksters all bowed to the ones who had done the pranking before calling up Ginny and Tracey, allowing all five to bow to their opponents, Ginny standing on a different section of the Gryffindor table to bow to her older brothers.

All around the Hall, everyone was laughing even as the prank finished and they turned back to humans in odd positions, the five pranksters still bowing. The coloring disappeared with the animal shapes on all four.

It was a good way to end the last End of Term Feast the Weasleys twins would ever be there for… unless then snuck in.

"The Ministry is a mess," Susan told the group as they sat in their compartment on the Hogwarts Express, headed home. "Auntie says she's living at the Manor for extra protection because both the Ministry and Wizengamot want her as Minister, so my parents agreed to let me stay there again while they take a trip to America for the summer. They'll meet me at the station to say goodbye, first."

"It's going to be quite the summer, isn't it?" Hermione asked, and the others nodded.

"I just wish Mum would let me at least visit you guys, but she said no again because it's isn't safe," Ginny groaned, mimicking her mother's tone almost perfectly, in Harry's opinion. "Like I don't know that, already! She's treating me like I'm three, not almost fifteen!"

"She just wants to protect you, Gin," Harry said softly, wrapping an arm around her and kissing her head.

"I know, Harry, but it drives me insane that she's doing this," she sighed. "Luckily the twins will be staying with you while visiting us at Headquarters, so they can pass on gifts and notes and stuff."

"Expect the Order to be checking anything the twins bring in," Draco warned, and Ginny rolled her eyes.

"They won't get caught," she said with a smirk. "There's already an idea in place for how to do it. We'll be fine."

"I'll see you on September first," Harry told Ginny as they said goodbye on the station.

"Just as long as the Order doesn't try to kidnap you again," Ginny said with a laugh, and Harry snorted.

"Let's just hope they learned their lesson," Harry declared before bending down to pull Ginny into a kiss.

Watching them, their friends were smiling at the sight as it wasn't something the pair did in front of others often. Sirius was proud of his godson for finding someone so obviously good for him. Remus just smiled as he remembered the year he had taught them and their interaction. Samuel and Daniella were just shaking their heads in amusement.

The twins were being forced to stay quiet by Ron, who was smiling slightly. Their mother was beside them, an Order guard with her, looking at her little girl sadly, realizing she wasn't so little anymore and that she was keeping Ginny from someone she obviously loved, even if they hadn't admitted it yet. Still, there wasn't anything more she could do.

As Harry and Ginny pulled apart, Harry wasn't thinking about the war or the prophecy or the Horcruxes or anything else that he knew he would have to deal with in the future. No, he was just thinking about his girlfriend and how much she meant to him, even if neither showed it often.

Fin… For Now…

That's it, Return of an Alpha is complete. Dumbledore now realizes that Harry was never truly like Voldemort, Harry's upset with the man, Fred and George got pranked one last time, and the school year is finished. Next up are the final two years of Hogwarts with more Hogwarts Protectors and pranks and homework and war.

Thank you all so, so very much for each and every review you've given me on this story. This is the story with the most reviews I've ever received, and it's been amazing. I know I haven't been replying to reviews as much anymore, but believe me when I say I appreciate every last one of them. They mean so much to me.

Huge shout out and thanks to my Beta, Arnel, who comes from SIYE and has been amazing. Without her, this story wouldn't be quite as good as it is now. She's done more than her part of making this story what it is today.

To you, my lovely readers, I will see you again on New Year's (Perhaps I'll try posting this when the ball drops for me in the Eastern time zone of the US?) with the story Clash of the Alphas. Look for it around midnight my time, though perhaps it will be a bit earlier… We'll see.

Thank you all so much for making this series my most successful writing so far. I don't believe I could show my gratitude well enough. Until next time!

Posted: 12/28/11