Epilogue – Leave-taking
Rated T: For occasional graphic concepts and atmosphere. No cussing, no adult situations, no violence.
Disclaimer: I do not own any rights for the worlds or characters in Harry Potter. Those rights are owned by Scholastic Publishing Inc and J.K. Rowling. I do own the rights to my original characters depicted here, in as far as they differ from the worlds created by J.K. Rowling.
The days that followed were like floating on a cloud. Harry was more popular than ever, and seemed to have friends throughout the school. He and Draco passed their exams, and Harry was quite pleased to note his potions score was his second highest, after transfiguration. Even Crabbe and Goyle – who hadn't done nearly as much studying, and often had no patience for learning at all, it seemed – had passed, and would be returning with them next year.
Professor Snape sent a notice that he would talk briefly to each of the Slytherins to give them advice on what to expect the next year, and while Harry wasn't exactly looking forward to his 'interview', even the thought of Snape's biting comments couldn't deflate his enjoyment of the end of the year.
Draco wouldn't tell him precisely what Snape had said during his interview, even though Harry pestered him when he returned looking rather thoughtful.
When it was Harry's turn, he entered Snape's office and took a seat without saying anything, wishing he could be anywhere else, but determined not to let the Potions Professor know how uncomfortable he was.
"I will admit I'm surprised you've done so well, Potter." Snape told him after a few tense moments.
"You shouldn't be; you've seen how much effort I've been putting into potions." Harry countered.
"Are you accusing me of falsehood?" One thin black eyebrow rose above his eye.
That reminded Harry of what Snape had said when they'd tried to ask him about Voldemort, as well as what Quirrel had revealed later. "Sir…" Harry had to ask.
Snape's scowl returned.
"Sir, when Draco asked you, about Voldemort…"
"Boldness, or foolishness, to speak His name." Snape said snidely.
Harry ignored the taunt, "When he asked you about Voldemort!" Harry repeated more firmly, "You said you knew of no one at the school who would help him."
"Is there a point to this Potter?" Snape replied acidly.
"Quirrel said you'd suspected him, and that's why you got injured on Halloween." Harry finished in a bit of a rush.
Snape looked genuinely startled, an expression Harry had never seen on his face before. Snape paced briefly behind his desk, and then regarded Harry seriously. Harry realized with an awkward start that Snape hadn't worn his customary look of distaste on his face when looking at Harry since before the incident with Norbert. Maybe Snape didn't hate him anymore, though he still didn't exactly look happy to be in Harry's presence.
"I'm assigning you a project for the summer." Snape told him at last, and Harry's heart suddenly sunk into his stomach. "Research soothstones; focus on the methods by which they can be fooled and undone. I'll expect an essay when you return in September, is that understood?"
He hadn't exactly evaded the question. Harry remembered now Lucius warning him that a soothstone could be fooled, Snape must have used one of those methods to fool him, and Harry hadn't even considered the possibility before now.
"Understood." Harry sighed.
Snape gave him no opportunity to argue, and soon Harry was back in the hall, wondering if he'd been mistaken to assume Snape no longer hated him. Afterall, he hadn't assigned anyone else extra homework over the summer break, just Harry.
He was almost back to the Slytherin common room when it occurred to Harry that he hadn't actually mentioned the soothstone to Snape.
Before he knew it, the last week had flown past, their things were all packed, and they were back on the train to platform nine and three-quarters at King's Cross Station. Once arrived, they passed through the archway in pairs, or in threes, and Harry hung back until almost last, because everyone wanted to say goodbye, or shake his hand. Or at least it seemed that way. Neither Ron Weasley or Seamus Finnigan appeared to bid him a good summer, he noted.
Once Harry made it through the wall between platforms nine and ten, he heard, "There he is, Mom, there he is, look!" It was the Weasley's youngest sister, Harry thought, as he recognized the red hair and freckles that matched Ron, Fred, George, and Percy's. Though her mother – the only member of the family he'd seen so far whose hair was brown instead of red – quickly admonished her for being rude and pointing.
He flashed them a smile, just the same, and the young girl hid when she realized he was looking her way.
"Are you Harry Potter?" a man asked him, and Harry blinked, recognizing a uniform of one of the muggle bag carriers here at the station, on a tall skinny boy who looked just old enough to be out of school, and didn't quite fit his uniform.
"Yes I am." He affirmed, wondering what this was about.
"I have a delivery for you." He told Harry, as he handed him a very normal looking envelope, and departed. This wasn't like the envelopes he was used to seeing wizards owl each other. This was a muggle white legal envelope. The only writing on it was Harry's name, the current time and date, and the location; "between platforms nine and ten". Harry opened the envelope and scanned the brief message.
I am delighted to hear of your successes at school this year, and look forwards to following your progress further in the years to come. I enjoyed our brief meeting, and I can assure you it won't be our last.
Congratulations, and good fortunes to you.
V. D. V.
There was no indication of the author other than the three very stylized initials, and Harry was bewildered as to the source or meaning of this unusual note. He couldn't imagine Voldemort sending him a letter, and he couldn't think of anyone he'd met who might send him something so cryptic in this unusual fashion. Unusual for wizards or muggles, now that Harry thought on it.
"You'll visit, over the summer, won't you?" Draco asked, standing now with his parents, who both smiled at Harry. He noted his aunt and uncle looking at the affluent pair with a small amount of wariness just a few feet beyond, and couldn't resist smiling as he imagined how the two families would clash if they were ever in the same room together.
"Of course, I'd love to visit the manor again." He said it loudly enough for the Dursleys to overhear. In many ways the Malfoys were what Vernon and Petunia aspired to be – except for being magic, of course – and Harry had a feeling that their eventual interactions would be a bit shocking, perhaps for both sides. For now though, he was just pleased with the thought of how he could torment Dudley, since none of them knew he wasn't allowed to use magic over the holidays.
"Great, I'll send you an owl, and we'll arrange transportation." Draco hugged Harry briefly, and added in a much softer voice, "And remember to let me know if they give you any trouble." Draco had evidently noticed the Dursleys as well. "I won't curse them, but I'm sure we can come up with something to make things… interesting." He grinned, and then turned to leave with his own family.
Whatever the future brought… for now, Harry was happy.
Author's Comments: Our first year gone and I must trouble you with an author's wheezing waffles…
Anyways… this is the end of Harry Potter and the Dragon's Heir, Year 1 – The Philosopher Stone. But it's far from the end of the story. I plan to revise this a bit, perhaps expand on it a little, but I'm also posting up the sequel right now too. It's been a long run, and hopefully the next year will be even longer, but also more punctually posted.
Thanks to everyone who stuck with me through this, as well as those newcomers to the story. Thanks for every review, and every comment, criticism, and critique. Every single one of them helps, even if I respond a little defensively sometimes.
EDIT: Well, consider this revisited, and expanded on. Hope you all appreciate the edits. Been a while in coming, but I'm hoping that going back through everything I've written will help me get back into writing new material. Wish me luck!
Once again the copyrights for the Harry Potter worlds belong to J.K. Rowling. All original characters depicted here and this story are copyrighted to me.
Part two is up, look for: Harry Potter and the Dragon's Heir, Year 2 – The Chamber of Secrets now.