"How are we doing this, Love?"
"You're going in with your family and I'm going in once everyone is inside. The element of surprise and all..."
"True. Give me a kiss and I'll get going." They shared a quick and entirely unsatisfying kiss.
"I'll see you there, Love."
"I never realised how much it hurt Harry to have to come back to us each summer; he never said anything, just put up with all of us. If...if I could go back and do it all over, I'd make sure that he knew that I didn't hate him or Lily." Petunia Dursley resumed her seat and quietly wiped tears out of her eyes.
Albus Dumbledore stood and looked around the room. "Is there anyone else who would like to share what they knew about Harry James Potter?" During the final battle, Harry had destroyed Voldemort, just as Albus wanted him to, but he had died in the process...just as Albus wanted him to. Unfortunately, there had been no body to bury; they could only assume that the extreme magic had consumed Harry's body, vaporising it.
A new voice rumbled from the very back of the room. Everyone turned to look at the dark haired, dark clothed young man leaning against the rear wall; he was not familiar, unknown to everyone...almost everyone...in the room. As he walked to the front of the room, all of their eyes followed the young man, horribly curious as to who he was.
"And you are...?" Albus had no idea who the man was, but maybe he could share some more stories about Harry Potter, the one who they were honouring that night.
"Who I am doesn't matter in the least...what matters is that I knew Harry Potter better than all of you combined."
A low murmur of questions broke out after this statement; if none of them had ever met him before, how could he possibly know Harry better than they did? They all turned to face the front of the room as the man stood in front of them and clasped his hands behind his back.
The young man turned to face them and they all took in his appearance; he was tallish, just shorter than Ron was, and lean, almost to the point of emaciation; he had scars on his face and neck, but they did not detract from his handsome good looks. He wore all black, as if in deference to the boy they were honouring that night but, for some reason, they all thought that wearing black was natural for this man. He looked over all of them, his dark brown eyes resting longer on some than it did on others; they all felt as if they were being measured by this man...being judged.
"I knew Harry James Potter very well; we had many conversations over the years, conversations that no one was privy to, bar ourselves. He told me many things about you, things that I'm sure you didn't even realise about yourselves. You see, Harry was very observant...he saw things that he was positive you wouldn't have wanted him to see. Let's start with his 'relatives'." The sneer was obvious in his voice as his gaze found and held Petunia's. "You hated him. No matter how much you try to sugar-coat it, you hated him. You allowed your whale of a husband to beat him, to starve and abuse Harry as much as he wanted; you never once tried to stop him. You didn't care what kind of damage he was doing to your 'precious nephew', you only wanted the 'Freak' out of your way. And you..." he turned to look at Dudley, "your episodes of Harry-Hunting taught him that it was dangerous to be friends with anyone; you made sure that no one was willing to befriend him, beating them if they tried. You, however, had one saving grace; when you realised exactly how badly your father was beating Harry, you tried to stop him. Harry did appreciate that, the one time you tried."
The man's endless dark gaze speared Ronald Weasley in his seat. "You were honestly friends with Harry for the first three years you knew him. After that, what happened to your friendship was anyone's guess...it sure as hell wasn't the same as the first three years. You were jealous of the fame that he hated; you wanted it for yourself. You didn't want to listen when he tried to explain that he had no idea how his name got into the Goblet of Fire; you didn't want to hear it. You thought that he had, somehow, found a way to get his name in there. Never mind the fact that he didn't want to compete; his sense of self-preservation was too strong at that time to risk getting killed. You apologised, but he knew you didn't really mean it; you thought that you could ride his coattails to your own fame...you'd be the best mate of The Boy Who Lived, Winner of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. That's when things truly started to go downhill with your friendship; you tried to use him to get what you wanted, not realising, or maybe not caring, that he knew what you were doing and it was killing him inside to be used like that. After the battle in the Ministry building, he overheard you talking to Hermione Granger about how dangerous it was to be friends with him and you weren't sure you wanted to continue with it; you thought he was deliberately trying to get you hurt so that he could have all the fame for himself."
The man gazed, unblinking, into Ron's mutinous blue eyes. "Then, right before the final battle you came right out and told him that you hoped he died in the battle, so that you could finally get what was coming to you. Well, you'll get that alright...exactly what's coming to you."
He moved on to Hermione, sitting just next to Ron. "You were never really sure if Harry was serious when he told you that he wanted nothing to do with the fame that came with being The Boy Who Lived; you seemed to think that he was doing everything he could to gain more fame. You even accused him of pushing you and Ronald to the side, just so that you couldn't share in the fame. Had you asked, he would have given you all the fame that he could...he didn't want any of it."
"Who are you?" Hermione's whisper carried throughout the room easily.
"I was Harry Potter's only true friend, the only one he could trust unconditionally. He and I were definitely radically different from each other. He was the Gryffindor Golden Boy; I would have been sorted into Slytherin...had I been allowed to attend Hogwarts. I wasn't permitted to go; it wouldn't have been a good thing, if I had." He raised his head and looked over the crowd again. "I see one of you has figured who I am...excellent! You'll keep quiet about it." The man flicked his hand and a blue glow surrounded Severus Snape. Everyone could see that he was breathing and blinking his eyes but, other than that, he couldn't move a muscle. "Now, who's next?"
His eyes roved over the people present and settled on Molly Weasley; she shifted nervously in her chair, unnerved by that gaze. "Mrs. Weasley...how appropriate that you are sitting in the place that Harry's mother should be sitting in, were she alive to be here. You imagined yourself to be Harry's surrogate mother, someone he could go to and talk to, if the need arose. Well, the need arose several times, but each time you fobbed him off, dismissing his concerns because they weren't what you wanted to talk about. You wanted to talk about his future...specifically his future with your daughter, Ginevra. When he began to go through puberty, at the ripe old age of thirteen, you started throwing Ginevra together with Harry every opportunity you could; it didn't matter that he had already tried to speak with you about the fact that he thought he was gay. He came to me in tears one day...he had tried to talk to you about his sexuality again and you told him that he wasn't gay; he was The Boy Who Lived...he wasn't allowed to be gay." Molly flushed angrily, but the man stopped her from speaking before she could do anything more than open her mouth. "I don't think so; I'm not done with you yet. He came to me again, after his godfather's death and couldn't do anything but cry. Once he had calmed down enough to talk, he told me that you had said that now that he was going to be Head of the House of Black, wouldn't it be such a wonderful thing when he married Ginevra? Not if, but when. You didn't even bother to ask Harry if he wanted to marry your daughter; you kept talking about spending all that lovely money that Harry was to inherit on a wedding that he didn't want to happen. After that, Harry tried to keep from being alone with you or Ginevra; he wasn't sure that the two of you wouldn't try to say that he took advantage of Ginevra when they were alone." Both Molly and Ginny flushed, so the man knew that he had been correct in his assumption. "See, apparently he was justified in his concern about that."
The young man lifted his gaze again and scanned the room. "I have no problem with most of you; you were just following orders. However, others here are not so innocent. Fred and George...you used Harry for his money. You kept asking him for more and more, especially after his godfather's death; there was an almost unending supply of galleons after that, and you were going to get what you could. Bill, you never did anything specific...you never did anything. You knew what was going on with your mother and sister; you knew what was going on with Ronald and Hermione; you never did a blessed thing to stop it. Harry trusted you, in that you were Ronald's older brother; he looked up to you like he would an older brother, but you never did a damn thing to help him. Arthur, you are absolutely clueless; your wife and daughter were plotting to force Harry to marry Ginevra and you never noticed. Several times you were in the room while they were discussing things and you never noticed; how could you not notice when your wife is talking about what colours to decorate the wedding tent in?"
The man's eyes again rose to scan the people who were, by now, stuck to their seats...literally. "Ah yes, Remus Lupin." Heads turned to look at the werewolf as he cringed in his chair; he knew some of what was going to be said and wasn't looking forward to having his dirty laundry aired in such a public manner. "You were Harry's honourary godfather; you weren't allowed to be an actual godfather because of your condition, Harry understood that. You could have, at the very least, shared some of your history with Harry's parents, though; he needed to know that they loved him. By the time he met you, he had already been conditioned by the Dursleys to believe that he was worthless and unlovable; the things that were happening to him only furthered that belief. You did nothing to reassure him, nothing to ease his worries; you told him next to nothing about your friendship with James and Lily Potter. Everything he found out, he found out either on his own or from his godfather.
"The only decent parental figure that Harry had...Sirius Black...got taken from him during the battle in the Ministry building. You blamed him for Black's death...he knew you did." Remus lowered his chin to his chest and began to sob quietly; the man was only telling the truth. "You never comforted him in his grief; you never helped him to get through that time. He had to find someone else to comfort him."
He looked at the man frozen at the back of the room. "Severus Snape...the esteemed Potions Master and Professor at Hogwarts. You hated Harry even before he could talk. He represented everything that you couldn't have...Lily and a child with her. Yes, you swore you would protect him, but why? Why protect someone you hate? You did it because Albus Dumbledore called in a life debt that you owed him; he kept you out of Azkaban, so you vowed to protect the only child of your enemy and your love. Harry tried to apologise to you, in his father's place, for what happened during your sixth year; you refused to listen and thought that he was also going to torment you...just like his father. He wouldn't have, you know; he was being sincere and you threw it back in his face...that devastated him."
The man took a deep breath and looked to the only other person standing. "Albus Dumbledore." The sneer was back in his voice, but this time it was joined by something darker, something more harsh...Hatred. "From the day of Harry's parents' deaths, you had been manipulating his life; you wanted to make sure things would happen a certain way and you needed Harry to make that happen. How else could you know what was going to happen and seem all-knowing and powerful?" He looked over the crowd again, noticing that someone else had put two and two together and come up with the correct answer. "No, I don't think so." The hand flicked again and Minerva McGonagall was frozen, just like Snape. "Sorry about that, but it's not time for the grand unveiling yet." He turned to look back at Dumbledore. "Harry was your pawn, your little chessman; you knew that the likelihood of him surviving the final battle with the Dark Lord was slim. You manipulated everything so that he could gain first-hand knowledge of how to go about doing things...but still not enough knowledge to destroy the Evil. You made sure to keep the really important knowledge away from him; you knew he had to die in order to destroy the Dark Lord, but you told him nothing. You never told him that, when the Dark Lord killed his parents, he had created a horcrux in Harry. For those of you who don't know, a wizard has the ability to split their soul up to seven times, hiding the piece of soul in another object; the eighth piece stays with the wizard. He hadn't created any until he killed Harry's parents; when he tried to kill Harry, the piece of his soul that had split off was sent into the scar on Harry's forehead. This allowed the Dark Lord to return. It is extremely dangerous...usually the wizard doesn't survive the attempt. So, we have poor, little Harry, a horcrux for the greatest evil this world has ever seen, and now he's an orphan. So, what do you do? Send him off to live with his magic-hating muggle relatives, that's what!"
"We've now come full circle...the manipulations start from the precise moment that you left Harry on his relatives' doorstep. Wait! Let's examine that for a moment...you left a fifteen month old child on a doorstep...outside...at night...on 31st October, wrapped only in a sleeper and a blanket. I don't know about the rest of you, but I happen to think it's rather fucking cold that late in the year...and at night, too! Ah, another one!" Everyone looked around to see who was glowing and found that it was the still sobbing Remus Lupin. "Bear with me, we're almost there."
"So, Harry had to die to destroy the horcrux he had been carrying for the last sixteen years. Did any of you see him die? I did...so did one other. Harry Potter was a necessary sacrifice for 'The Greater Good'. Harry Potter died on the field of battle that day, never to be seen again...but he didn't get to die right away, he had to kill Voldemort first." A blue glow settled over the entire room...except for two people. As everyone watched, a redhead stood and made his way up to the front of the room to stand next to the young man. "Now...now you get to find out who I am."
Charlie Weasley pointed his wand at the man and the light glamour he had been wearing melted away. Standing in front of the room, with his arm around the dragon handler's waist, was Harry Potter.
"So, you have all heard what had happened to Harry Potter before the last battle with Voldemort. I will now tell you what happened during that battle. Harry James Potter died on that field, right before I destroyed the Dark Lord. How, you may ask, are Harry and I two separate people? Very good question...you see, while Harry was growing up, he took to talking to himself in order to keep his sanity; you would too if you were being beaten for every little thing you did wrong. In doing so, he created me...my name is Harrison Evan Potter-Black. This is my husband, Charles Adam Potter-Black. We will celebrate our first anniversary the day after Harry's eighteenth birthday. I was that part of Harry that almost had him in Slytherin during his sorting. The Sorting Hat saw me and liked what he saw...fortunately, he listened to Harry and put him into Gryffindor; it wouldn't have worked out well if he had been put into Slytherin because of me.
"By the time I married Charlie, Harry Potter had almost ceased to exist; he was there, but only in spirit. I allowed him out when it was necessary to play the part of The Gryffindor Golden Boy, but then he was put away; he preferred it that way. Since no one paid me much attention, I was able to hide the changes. I had help, in the form of my husband; he helped me plan everything down to the last detail. I had overheard Dumbledore talking to Snape about how Harry had to die for Voldemort to become mortal again; I decided that Harry Potter would stay dead. Harry, Charlie and I had a long conversation about how it would work; Harry was tired of the fight and he was willing to die to end it all. So, when it came time and Voldemort cast the Killing Curse again, Harry willingly laid down and died; I was the one who got back up and destroyed Voldemort. Immediately following that, I used a portkey that was created specifically to take me away from the battlefield and to Charlie."
Charlie began to talk, picking up where Harrison left off. "Harrison had told me about everything that had gone on, all the manipulations, all the jealousy. I had seen some of it and was disgusted by how my family could be; yes, I know the Weasleys are poor, but to try to force Harry to marry Ginny? And only for his money? I had never been so ashamed to call myself a Weasley as I was right then. When he told me about what he had overheard about Harry having to die, I saw this as a way to stop the manipulations and the greed; Harry would die and Harrison would finally get to stay. Harry Potter was willing to leave, to never come back; as Harrison said, he was tired of everything by then and just wanted to go. We made that possible and Harry was very grateful to us for that."
Harrison started to speak again. "So, let us re-cap what we know... We have a manipulative Albus Dumbledore, a grief-stricken Severus Snape, a manipulative Molly Weasley, an easily led Ginevra Weasley and a jealous Ronald Weasley and his girlfriend Hermione Granger. Then there's Remus Lupin who never saw the love-starved boy that Harry was, even though he claimed to care about the boy. After that, there's Fred and George Weasley, who were out for money; and last, but not least, there were Bill and Arthur Weasley, who couldn't be bothered to care.
"All of you helped Harry create me and I want to thank you for that...no matter how unintentional it was. Without your assistance, Harry would have died on that battlefield and I would have died with him; but, he did create me, because he needed me. I was the one person who got him through his childhood and the horrible years after that. Charlie saw me, during the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and decided that he wanted to get to know me better; Harry allowed this because he saw how good Charlie and I were together. If it weren't for me, Harry wouldn't have survived the Tournament...and then where would that have left you?"
Harrison and Charlie looked at each other and then back at their audience. "Now that you know, you should also know that there is a spell on this house, which belongs to me, that will prevent you from speaking of this to anyone; if you try, you will die a very painful and immediate death. You will leave this house and never return to it; if you've left anything here, it will be returned to you...eventually. Oh, and there will be an article in The Daily Prophet tomorrow, stating all of the things I have shared with you today, minus the fact that Harry Potter and Harrison Potter-Black once shared the same body. You will not be able to remember that little fact once you leave this house. I will ruin you, just as you spent years ruining Harry Potter. Now...Get . Out . Of . My . House!"
Harrison and Charlie watched as everyone slowly filed out of the house, several of them stopping to look at the young man sadly as they left. Harrison was not sorry to be severing all ties to those people; they were his past, the man next to him was his future.
"Will you eventually contact Minerva? She never really did anything wrong." Charlie placed a small kiss on his husband's nose.
"Eventually. But not for at least a year; I want to give it a chance to calm down after the articles come out. They're going to ruin Dumbledore and Snape. I might forgive Remus at some point, but that won't be for a few years."
"How's he going to survive? He won't have a place to live?"
"Harry asked me to set him up with a house and a Gringotts vault...in Sirius' memory. Gringotts will be sending him a letter today, letting him know about them. After everything that Harry did for us, I couldn't deny him that one request...he did truly love the wolf."
Charlie nodded in agreement. They both had much to thank Harry Potter for; if it hadn't been for Harry's fear of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Harrison wouldn't have been allowed to come out for the tournament and then Charlie would never have met him. "So, what do we do now?"
"Now? Now we get to live the rest of our lives, exactly the way we want to. No one's going to bother us and, since I changed the Fidelius Charm when I came in, they won't be able to find the house again. We're truly free, Husband Mine."
Charlie picked up the young man and spun him around, kissing him soundly the whole time. Life with Harrison was never going to be boring...he was certain of that!