Harry found himself drifting back out from the blackness that had consumed him for Merlin knew how long. Far, far away he heard voices speaking.
"Harry? Can you hear me?" The concerned voice belonged to a female, and it sounded very familiar, but he couldn't place it exactly.
Suddenly he found himself back in his body, but any pain that he had expected to have, was not present. On the contrary, he felt perfectly fine.
"Son! Are you awake?" this voice belonged to a man, one that he knew from his dreams.
"Dad?" Harry forced himself to open his eyes, and found an older copy of himself staring back at him with a frown of worry. A pair of hazel brown eyes met his own. Catching a movement to his right, Harry shifted a little, and saw the relieved expression of the woman he remembered from the Mirror of Erised; his mum. Her hands were holding his own in a firm grip.
"How do you feel, sweetheart?"
"Fine," Harry replied and sat up. He felt his father's hand on his back as he helped him up into a sitting position. He looked around. The place he was in was foggy, and the objects nearby were blurred with a thick mist. Perhaps this was a dream, then? Either that, or he was dead, because his parents were here, and they were dead; he knew that all too well. "Where are we?"
"In between life and death," Lily explained, kneeling beside him.
"Does that mean that I'm dead?" he asked hopefully. "Can I stay with you?"
"It means you have a choice," James answered. "This isn't death, only almost, which is why we are able to come here and meet you."
"I saw Voldemort getting hit by the backfire. Isn't he here too?"
"No. He passed straight through. Unlike you, he had only his own, divided soul, whereas you had a horcrux in that scar," James began. "You see, the night your mum and I were killed, he accidentally made you a horcrux. He never meant to, but today it saved your life. The horcrux had to go before you could die yourself. That's why you're here, and not on the other side."
Harry felt nauseated. For almost fifteen years he had had a piece of Voldemort's soul inside himself; a part of the monster that murdered his parents. On the other hand, it would explain a lot why he had experienced the visions from Voldemort's point of view.
"But it's gone now, right?" he asked his mother, swallowing hard.
She nodded and smiled brightly at him.
"And so is Voldemort. And we couldn't have been prouder of you," James said. "I wish that we could have been on Earth with you and make your life a little easier. But you have managed so fanatastically despite this! To think that my son is the best seeker in the world!"
Harry snorted, but couldn't help a faint blush creeping onto his cheeks. "Thanks, dad," he muttered.
Lily leaned over and hugged him. "We are proud of you because you are the one you are, not only because you're a great seeker," she said, running her fingers lovingly through his hair.
Harry sighed. "Do I have to come back? Can't you come back with me? Since you are here?"
"I'm sorry, sweetie," Lily said, her eyes filled with sadness. "I wish we could, but we belong to the other side now. We can't return to Earth the same way that you can."
"But I don't have to, right?" Harry asked hopefully.
James and Lily exchanged a slightly disappointed look. "It would have been a waste to end your life now, wouldn't it? Think of everything you would miss? We missed a lot by leaving Earth this early; we don't want you to miss it as well. We will see each other again, when the time comes," James said wisely.
Harry's gaze moved from Lily to James and back. "Alright. I'll go back."
His parents smiled at him.
"Say hello to Moony and Padfoot for me, will you, son?" James asked.
"Sure." Harry found himself pulled into a big hug by them, and when they released him, he only reluctantly walked in the direction that they pointed out for him, turning back every once in a while to wave until at one point they had disappeared in the mist. Only seconds later Harry found himself surprised by a sudden bright light and had to close his eyes. In fear of being blinded, he did not dare open his eyes, but felt his back make contact with the ground in an odd way. He had not fallen, but still he was now lying on the ground.
The second thing he felt was his body throbbing painfully by his right ribs, where he had landed on his broomstick. A strong, stinging feeling was located on the left side of his chest, undoubtedly where the curse had hit him.
The scent of damp grass and soil filled his nostrils, and there was an absolute silence around him. He had no perspective of how long he had been lying there, so he opened his eyes to look around. Voldemort's Death Eaters were staring at their Master's dead body a some ten feet away, in shock. A few seconds passed before a terrified, whispering voice called out.
"Is he dead?" It was Bellatrix Lestrange. The woman stepped forward, her dark hair falling forward, hiding her face as she knelt beside Voldemort's body. She nudged him gently.
"My Lord?" When there was no response, she felt for his pulse before throwing herself at the body, crying hysterically. "No! No!" she shouted, while cracks of apparition were heard from the midst of the Death Eaters. Harry caught sight of aurors and prrofessors running past him, and then Rabastan Lestrange grabbing Bellatrix by her arm and wrenched her away from Voldemort's body, and was about to apparate with her when two well-aimed stunners hit both of them in the chest.
Seeing his chance, Harry grabbed for his broom beneath him, and with a tight grip on it, he shot straight up towards the sky in a speed only the world's best seeker could manage. Shouts were heard from below, and when Harry for the first time glanced inside the area of the protective barrier, which had now fallen, he saw people staring up at him, shouting in delighted surprise.
And then there were chants of celebration as the last of the Death Eaters either escaped or were captured. Harry slowly sank towards the ground in front of the castle. Two people were pushin their ways through the crowd that gathered around him, chanting and cheering. Headmistress Reaburn reached him first, quickly followed by Petunia Dursley.
"Are you alright, Mr. Potter? Anything hurting? Should we have Madam Pomfrey have a look at you, perhaps?"
"I'm alright, Professor," Harry assured her, before being engulfed into a hug by Petunia.
"Harry, don't ever do that again! I was sure we had lost you!"
Harry gave her a weary smile. "I thought I had died too. I'll explain later, I promise," he said as the crowd moved in. Fred and George lifted him up and put him on their shoulders.
"The Boy-Who-Lived-Twice! He who vanquished You-Know-Who!" They shouted while making way through the crowd.
"Our sponsor! To Weasleys' Wizaring Wheezes at ninety-three Diagon Alley!" Fred shouted, causing Harry to laugh.
"You can put me down now, guys," he said, and Fred and George dropped him down on the ground. Only a minute or so lasted before Professor Reaburn returned along with Madame Maxime and Professor McGonagall, who had taken over for Dumbledore after the incident With the memory charm. Karkaroff was not there.
"Mr. Potter, if we could kindly have a word with you at my office?" Professor McGonagall asked.
Harry only nodded, eager to get away from the people who were pushing against each other to get to him and express their gratitude or apologies. With Madame Maxime making way, Professor Reaburn ushered Harry through the oak doors while Professor McGonagall gave some orders to her professors. The younger Hogwarts students that had been shown inside when Voldemort had arrived, were now outside the Great Hall through the opening in the door, and were chatting loudly, asking Professor McGonagall questions when they reached the landing.
"It is perfectly safe, thanks to Mr. Potter and his fellows from Waratah. Voldemort is dead." Professor McGonagall said with a hint of pride in her tone, and her normally stern face gave off a small smile when the students erupted in cheers.
Harry hurried on after Madame Maxime until they reached the gargoyle, where Professor McGonagall merely touched it to make it move.
Harry was at once surprised at the noise coming from inside, and for a moment thought that the students had found a way to sneak inside. That was until he saw the portraits of the former Headmasters and Headmistresses of Hogwarts cheering and applauding when he entered. He was baffled at how fast rumours had spread, since it had only been minutes since Voldemort had actually died. The room had changed quite a lot since he had seen it while Dumbledore had had the Office. The silver instruments were gone, and were instead replaced by a bouquet of flowers placed on top of a red tablecloth.
Professor McGonagall waved her wand, causing chairs for Harry and Professor Reaburn to appear, as well as a loveseat for Madame Maxime, before she sat down on her own chair behind the desk. Harry watched him with a hint of uncertainty. It was weird to see his old Transfiguration professor sitting in the Headmaster's Chair, and couldn't help but feel slightly guilty. The feeling disappeared quickly, however, as he recalled the event. It had been Dumbledore who had attacked him; Harry had only defended himself.
"First of all, Mr. Potter, I must tell you I am very sorry," Professor McGonagall said.
Out of all the things that he could have said this was not anything near what Harry had expected McGonagall to say, and thus stared at her with brows raised in surprise.
"I must apologize on behalf of my school and on behalf of Dumbledore, who has completely misjudged both you and Waratah – I must apologize to Professor Reaburn for that fact," Professor McGonagall said, her voice not quite as firm as used to be. "She has taught you far more than any of use expected, and she has made you very capable to meet the destiny and burden that Voldemort once bestowed upon you. I am aware that our own chance to help you, slipped away by neglected discipline of the students, and I will have to correct my students for misbehaviour and cruelty to you, Mr. Potter. However, I think that their view of you changed today – "
"He shouldn't have had to do that to avoid being cursed and disliked by the Whole School, Minerva," Professor Reaburn said sharply, her arms crossed in annoyance.
"I am aware of that, and the whole staff the blame for that. It is after all our responsibility that everybody thrive here at Hogwarts. Mr. Potter should not have been treated by peers and professors the way he was while studying here," Professor McGonagall said, folding her hands on top of her desk while she looked from Harry to Professor Reaburn over the edge of her spectacles.
Until now Madame Maxime had not said a word. Now she chose the moment of silence to speak. "I teenk we all should be very gratefool to Mr. Potter for vanquishing zat monstrosity!" she declared. "And I also teenk he shall not be 'ere listening to you two arguing; he should be eating and resting."
Professor McGonagall looked at her for a second or so before she nodded. "You are very right, Olympe. However, if you wish my help for something, Mr. Potter, you just have to send an owl or step by my Office. It will, and always have been open for you, and I hope you knew that."
"I did, Professor. You were one of those who did react, as far as I recall," Harry said, and gave her a small smile.
Professor McGonagall returned it with a smile that Harry thought few of her students were lucky enough to receive. "Then I think it is time that you do what Madame Maxime just suggested. Get yourself a good meal and some rest. No one deserves it as much as you do today, Mr. Potter."
Harry just nodded and left the room. When he reached the main staircase he wished he had his invisibility cloak, but unfortunately, that one had been left in the carriage. With only his broom at hand, Harry decided flying would not be a good idea if he wanted to avoid attention, so he walked as quickly as he could through the crowd and was out of sight before anyone managed to react. Down by the carriage he found Fred, George and Neville talking to Oscar and Ivan right by the stairs.
"…probably at the Headmistress' off – no, there he is!" Ivan said and waved at Harry. His hand was clutching the trophy, having saved it during the short battle.
"Harry!" Fred and George chorused. "Hi, mate! We thought you might be hungry, so we'd show you to the kitchen if you like?"
Harry felt his stomach growl at the thought of food. "You're godsent!" he declared. "I'll just grab my invisibility cloak."
He ran inside and quickly dug out his father's cloak from the wardrobe that was his, and returned outside. The four of them walked back up to the castle; Harry wrapped the cloak around him halfway, and luckily for him, the boys pushed the way through the crowd, so he didn't have to worry so much about touching the people heading in for a meal in the Great Hall.
He was shown down to the basement and to a picture with a fruit bowl. George tickled the pear with a finger, which caused it to squirm, an the picture frame swung open, revealing the entrance to a spacious kitchen filled with at least hundred little house-elves who were scurrying around setting foods on four long tables in the room. At the door opening, they paused, and Harry, who had let his cloak drop, was immediately surprised when a female wearing a toga with the Hogwarts School crest on, took his hand and pulled him over to a nearby round table.
"Tinky knows very well about Mister Harry Potter's achievements today. He is the bravest wizard Tinky knows of, even braver than Tinky's late master," she informed him, pushing him down on a chair. "What would Harry Potter sir like to eat?"
"Ermm…" Harry hesitated and glanced at Fred, George and Neville, who plopped down on the other chairs surrounding the table. "How about that roast chicken? It looks very yummy," he said.
"Right away, sir!" The elf told him and ran off to fetch him some while another served them all pumpkin juice.
"So, what are you going to do now, Harry?" Neville wondered. "Now that Tom is dead?"
"Try to live my life as normal as possible," Harry replied, to which Fred grinned widely.
"And that is very easy when being an international Quidditch star, right?"
"Yeah," Harry replied with a smile. "At least I won't have to worry about some dark lord who want to kill me."
"True," Neville agreed.
"When is ever Harry Potter's life going to be boring?" George pointed out.
"The day he marries and has lots of black-haired mini-Harrys," Fred gave Harry a wide, mischievous grin.
Harry snorted and shook his head. "That is far into the future, trust me. Honestly, I'm at my sixth year at school, and I don't know what to do afterwards. I think we'll handle that first. I'm just glad to be going home now."
A/N: I'm sorry it took so long to finish the story. I had no idea how to conclude it, so there was a writers' Block going on for way too long. Again, I'm sorry. There will not be a sequel, in case you wondered.
Edit: I had amateurishly forgotten about the memory charm incident. Thank you for reminding me. I did a few small changes concerning that.