Dumbledore sat down in his favorite squishy chair, the one upholstered in the caramel paisley jacquard, for what he hoped would be an afternoon of quiet, uninterrupted reading.
He opened the cover of his newly arrived book and turned to the dedication, where he noted that Harry had listed everyone who had rallied to help him after his terrible ordeal.
Albus looked up from the book and reflected upon the period following Harry's rescue. It had been a time of trial that had tested everyone's resolve; some had rallied where others could not.
But isn't that life? he thought. Easy or not, life's lessons leave little room for evasion.
His musings moved on to the happier times as he recalled Harry and Severus' bonding ceremony. It had been a beautiful occasion that had transpired just as planned, on the spring equinox following the capture of the Fastness.
All their close friends had made the trek to the villa to witness the event. And so with the magnificent vista of the Alta Maremma as a backdrop, Albus had stood before the couple to conduct the ceremony that would to seal their bond. Of the many accomplishments in all his years of living, performing that ceremony was one he would always cherish and to this day it still gave him a warm sense of satisfaction.
He sighed with contentment, turned to chapter one and began to read.
Four floors below the Headmaster's Tower, Remus Lupin was in his chambers and had just finished reading the introduction of Harry's book, which caused him to think about how much his life had changed in the past four years.
The fact that Harry had almost died only hours after they'd reconnected had been nothing less than an epiphany for Remus, an epiphany that had spurred him out of his safe cocoon of apathy. He'd decided it was time to end his tepid ways and instead - he'd follow Harry's example of embracing life.
His first priority had been to make more of an effort with Harry.
He'd started up regular correspondence with the young wizard and had attended the Bonding ceremony that was held in the spring. He returned to the villa for a week the following summer and then again for Christmas. These visits became a tradition and it felt wonderful to Remus to finally be considered part of a family.
Again, in keeping with Harry's example, Remus decided to reach outside himself to help others. He became an adviser to the Werewolf Support Services, a subdivision in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and Beings, which in turn had led to his integral part in the drafting of a very special bill.
It all started with the fervor that had arisen after Harry had given away his two Orders of Merlin to the elves. This gesture caused several witches and wizards to entertain the notion that perhaps they'd been wrong about the small creatures. After all, if Harry Potter thought so highly them, perhaps there was some merit to it.
This glimmer of hope from the wizarding world had spurred Hermione to once again take up the cause of S.P.E.W. Then, the following summer, when she and Ron traveled to the villa for a gigantic birthday celebration for Harry, Hermione and Remus had an opportunity to sit down and discuss the entire topic of discrimination against magical creatures. It was this initial conversation that was the catalyst for what would become one of wizarding society's greatest movements: the fight for equality and rights for all magical creatures.
Remus and Hermione had developed what they would later name "The Bill of Rights for Magical Beings". They worked on it together and oversaw every aspect of its creation: the actual writing and drafting of the document, the campaigning and garnering of support, and the lobbying amongst the members of the Ministry.
Remus had lost track of the hours he'd put into this cause and also the number of individuals he'd met and new friendships forged as a result of his expanded interest. The Bill was due to come before the Wizengamot that coming fall. His commitments toward the success of the Bill in addition to his full time teaching schedule left little time for self pity or endless hours of moping. On the contrary, now when Remus thought back on the person he had been, he found it hard to believe that he'd once been that man.
Molly sat at her kitchen table thoroughly engrossed in her edition of Harry's book. She simply could not put it down. He had been so honest and earnest, divulging his innermost thoughts and reactions. In all the time since his rescue, he'd never spoken about the details of what had happened to him; neither had anyone had the courage to ask. But it was all right here in the book. As extraordinary a tale as it was, the events at the Fastness paled in comparison to his inner struggle afterward and Molly went through many a hankie while she read his admissions of the truth.
She paused her reading to reflect upon the first time she'd met him.
He was so small, standing there on platform 9 and 3/4, in obvious need of motherly nurturing.
But to picture the Harry of today made her smile with contentment. He'd grown up secure in himself and in his life. He loved deeply and was loved deeply in return, and it gave Molly great satisfaction and comfort to know that Harry was at peace with his life.
The sound of mewling drew Molly from her musings.
She set down the book, walked over to the nearby crib and lifted up her four month old granddaughter. "Hello precious girl. Did you have a good nap?"
The baby snuggled upon Molly's ample bosom while she went to fetch one of the bottles Hermione had prepared for Rose to nurse upon while she was at work.
Molly cast a warming spell on Hermione's milk and then went over to sit in the well worn rocker. By the time Rose had drunk about half the milk, the Floo flared and out stepped Ron.
He walked straight over to them, knelt down and gave his precious girl a kiss on her forehead.
Rose recognized her daddy and started to kick her little legs with excitement.
"Here Mum, I'll take her."
He took Rose in his arms and switched places with Molly.
Now, with her bottle and held by her daddy, Rose was immensely content and she began to make little humming sounds while she drank her milk.
"Was she good for you today, Mum?"
"An angel, as always."
Ron and Hermione, now married, were the proud parents of baby Rose.
They both worked: Hermione had been snatched up by Gringotts as soon as she graduated from Oxford. With her high skill level in Ancient Runes, she had been a godsend to the company at deciphering the challenging runes on ancient artifacts discovered by Gringotts' scouts.
"Did you finish the book?"
"No, I'm only half way through. I keep crying … and then I start to think about him when he was young ... I can't help it Ronny, all of it pulls at my heart."
"Well," he said in a consoling voice, "I don't start crying or anything like that, but I know what you mean. Everything he talks about, it makes you have to stop and think about it for a while, y'know?"
"I'm so proud of him," Molly continued. "I'm going to write him a letter and tell him just that."
"Mum … You know Harry doesn't like getting fussed over."
"I think he's gotten used to it coming from me. Anyway, he doesn't have a choice. I'm going to tell him how much I love him and how proud I am of all he's accomplished. And then I'm going to tell him the same thing when I see him this summer."
"Well, to be honest … and don't you ever let him know I said this, but I think he actually kind of likes it when you fuss over him, you know - like a mother."
Helena was at the villa the day Harry's book came out. They had stayed in close contact - even after all these many years.
After discovering just how far Harry could Apparate, it really wasn't an issue for him to Apparate back to London if he felt the need for her counseling.
In all these years, Harry had only experienced one true flashback. It had happened one day late in the fall of his second year in college when he'd bent over to remove a spent blossom from the courtyard pond.
Severus was passing by and took hold of Harry's hips, to prevent him from falling into the water. Unfortunately, this also happened to be the same position Harry had been placed in the first time Voldemort had raped him.
As soon as Severus took hold, Harry's mind immediately shot to that first instance of rape. In a split second it was as if he'd transported back in time and was there again in that room.
Harry tore himself away from Severus and went slamming into the nearby courtyard wall.
The event was all so unexpected and shocking - not only for Harry but for Severus as well. Seeing their Masters so upset, Giano and Phia had become distressed as well.
This flashback had affected Harry so much that he was unable to travel to London, and so Helen had traveled to the villa to counsel him.
It was the first time she'd come to the villa and she loved it there so much that she stayed two weeks and made it a point to come out and visit every year thereafter.
It was evening now. Dinner was finished; Severus and Helena sat under the pergola sipping on red wine and discussing Harry's book while the younger wizard was in the nursery, singing his now well known elfin lullaby to Angelo, Giano and Phia's baby boy.
Everyone had been so surprised when Phia announced that she was expecting. Their children were already raised and on their own, and Giano and Phia hadn't planned on having any more children. But all went well; the baby was fine and he was welcomed by Severus and Harry with open arms.
When Phia came to nurse her baby boy, Harry quietly made his way out and headed toward the courtyard.
He poured himself a glass of wine then joined Helena and Severus out under the pergola. They chatted, sipped their wine and enjoyed the stillness of the warm spring evening while crickets chirped softly off in the distance.
"Have you received any feedback on how your book is doing?" asked Helena
Harry looked down, embarrassed. "I suppose it's doing okay. Flourish and Blotts sold out in one day."
"As did the bookstore in Hogsmeade," added Severus.
"Why are you embarrassed?" asked Helena.
Harry shrugged his shoulder. "I don't know. You'd think by now I wouldn't be, but …"
"When's your first speaking engagement?"
"I'm supposed to speak at some convention in London next week," he answered and then went on to relay his lengthy schedule of speaking engagements.
All the while he spoke, he and Severus held each other's hand, their fingers gently brushing together.
Helena watched the quiet intimacy between these two men and her heart sighed with relief that Harry and Severus' love had survived.
She thought back on those trying days and suddenly realized that Harry had yet to answer the question she had put to him, all those many years ago.
"Do you remember that first time we met at the Lakehouse? You told me about your neighbor back in Little Whinging, the one who was confined to a wheelchair?"
"Yeah?" he answered, curious at what she was up to.
"I had asked you what you thought about being different from who you had been before your incarceration and violation. Do you remember your answer?"
Harry thought a moment, looked questioningly to Severus and then turned back to Helena. "No, I guess I don't."
Helena smiled. "That's because you said that you weren't sure. You said, 'I'm not sure how I feel about it'." Then she got that look upon her face, a look that always told Harry her next question would be a soul searching one. "So … do you think you can answer that question now?"
Harry leaned back with a sigh and thought for a bit. "I guess I feel okay about it," he said slowly.
She waited for him to expound, which didn't come as any big surprise to Harry.
"What happened to me … well, it's a part now of who I am; it changed my life and took me in directions I would have never imagined."
Harry paused as he was momentarily caught up in a sea of memories.
"I'm not making light of what I went through," he eventually continued, "and I wish it hadn't happened, but the important thing was, and still is, what I do with my life and what kind of person I am. Everything I went through made me do a lot of thinking about myself. I know it's made me be more aware of how I respond to people and how I interpret new experiences."
He leaned forward and looked assuredly at Helena. "I'm guess what I'm saying is – I'm okay with who I am. So I guess the answer to your question is - it's fine with me that I'm a different person now than who I was before."
He looked at her a moment then went over and knelt down in front of Helena, placed her glass of wine on the side table and took both her hands in his.
"Helena, I know you like to keep things professional and all, but I want to say this to you: thank you. Thank you for everything you've done. If it wasn't for you, I don't know what would have happened to me. I don't think I would have made it. You've been so great through all of this and I just want to say … I want to tell you … that I love you."
Helena had tears in her eyes by the time Harry had finished. Their relationship had traversed many years and many challenges. Yes, she was still his counselor but there was no denying that he was also a dear friend. "Harry, there's something I would also like to tell you."
She rearranged their hands so that now she held his. "I couldn't be more proud of you if you were my own son. And I want you to know how happy I am that you've found peace and that you are able to give and receive love."
He started to say thank you, but she cut him off. "And I want you to know that I love you too Harry; I love you with all my heart."
For weeks, Harry's book had been the main topic of conversation in Hogwarts.
Having heard glimmers of these conversations, a fourth year Hufflepuff student decided to purchase her own copy of the book as soon as it was released.
Luckily, its release coincided with the upcoming Hogsmeade weekend and so that Saturday morning, she got an early start and headed off for the small village.
She made a beeline to the bookstore, quietly made her purchase and then headed back to the castle.
It was a beautiful day and so instead of returning to her dorm room the young witch opted instead to sit by the lake, or better yet – a secluded spot at the far end, so that she could read without interruption.
Once settled, she pulled the book out of the bag.
In one conversation she'd heard, she'd learned that Harry had added a personal message on the last page.
She wanted desperately to read it for herself so she turned the book over and opened the back cover.
If you are someone who has been raped and is reading my book, I want to tell you personally, that I know how horrible it is to be raped and how it can leave you scarred for life. I will never forget what happened to me or how it made me feel, but I want you to know, that what I chose to do was to not let it ruin my life. The choice is up to you. You can choose to heal from the trauma, or you can choose to let it affect you for the rest of you life. You will never be able to forget it and it will always be a part of who you are. Writing this book was really hard for me, even after all these years; but it was more important to me to let you know that you can choose to love yourself and take care of yourself. That is my message to you: that you keep yourself well and safe and most importantly, that you choose to live life.*
Tears welled up in her eyes. She had lived with her horrible secret for years, but dared not say a word.
Her father had warned her repeatedly that if she said anything, he would do the same thing to her younger siblings that he'd done to her.
Her shame had affected her entire life: She was an average student who achieved average grades. She had few friends and pretty much kept to herself, all because of the terrible insecurity complex she had developed from the sexual abuse.
But this message from Harry instilled a bit of hope in her heart. She wanted now, more than ever, to read Harry's entire story. She wanted to learn how he overcame the trauma and the shame and she thought to herself, If he was able to heal - then maybe, so can I.
She turned the book over and read the title:
REGAINING MY LIFE
HARRY JAMES POTTER
Credits: 'The Aftermath of Rape- Healing your Mind', by 'Lisa'
www . healthyplace . com/COMMUNITIES/Sex/abuse/sexual_abuse
Message from SHaria:
Writing this story has been a journey of discovery for me. While writing it, the story morphed from a Harry Potter fic into something more along the lines of a vehicle to deliver a message- Harry's message. The words contained in his message were drawn from advice written by a person named Lisa, who told her own account of rape and her journey of healing. She has written numerous articles cataloged under the above website.
Thank you for reading this story and if you would be so kind, please leave a review and share with me your thoughts and impressions. SHaria