Finding a Place to Call Home
Wanda: And another story comes to a close! Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed, favorited and enjoyed this story so much. I had a great time writing it and I loved all the feedback I got and the fact that so many of you liked it. I do not own Harry Potter.
Chapter Twelve: Free
Twelve Years Later
"Does anyone have any questions?"
The Australian government liason and Albus Dumbledore, who now looked aged beyond his many years, were standing in the waiting lobby while a tour group filled with precocious children bombarded their guide with questions about the history of the magical world.
"I told you he'd be busy," The young agent said irritably. He didn't want to be the one saddled with the latest attempt of a corrupt society's attempts to rejoin the world at large, but the job had fallen into his lap when his two friends (the traitors) had suddenly called in sick. "Do you magical Brits have something against making appointments."
"I'm very sorry about the abruptness," Dumbledore answered in a way that was meant to be serene, but came out sounding tired. "But I'm afraid I'm short on time and opportunity."
The young man raised his eyes to the ceiling. The best attempt of Dolores Umbridge's reign over the British Ministry of Magic to convince countries to remove their embargo on her country was to trot out a disgraced has-been wizard who had served criminal time to use his former reputation to their advantage.
He straightened up when a young man with black hair, a laughing blonde and three adorable children scurried into the room. The young man pulled up short when he saw Dumbledore, blinking as though he had seen a ghost. The blonde tensed while their three children looked curious.
"Professor Dumbledore," The young man said neutrally, his green eyes flicking between them. He nodded in thanks to the agent, who smiled and left the room.
"Daddy? Is something the matter?" The youngest child asked, craning her neck to look up at him.
A smile quickly reappeared on his face. "Nothing, Lillian. Hey, I've got an appointment, how about you, Leah and Jace go and find Emily, Uncle Sirius and Teddy? I may be here a while."
The girl, Lillian, smiled once again, her concerns evaporating. "Okay!" She took the older girl's hand and all but dragged her out of the room, while the boy followed them looking exasperated.
Silence fell over the room for a moment after the door closed. The blonde woman was regarding the former headmaster with a fairly cold expression.
Dumbledore pulled out one of his infamous tranquil smile. "Ah, Harry...it's good to see you again after so many years."
"I'm not sure I feel the same," Harry Potter responded, staring emotionlessly at the other man. "I had been under the impression that our Prime Minister had already rejected your proposal."
"I had been hoping to speak to you." Dumbledore admitted, his eyes shifting away.
Harry snorted and shook his head. "You're asking the wrong person. I only work in social services." He stated. "I'm not that important and I trust our premier's decisions."
"I can't believe it," Astoria Potter nee Greengrass said disbelievingly. When Dumbledore glanced at her and balked, she crossed her arms. "All these years, and you're still expecting Harry to do things for you?"
"Tori," Harry murmured, but the blonde put a hand on his arm and looked seriously at him.
"Harry, let me handle him." She whispered. Turning her attention back towards the old man, she snapped out, "I can't believe you still haven't let this go. Everything that you meant for Harry to be has no purpose now. You always meant for him to be your martyr and accept whatever you believed to be right as what the world needed to do, and even now that your world as you knew it no longer exists you still haven't changed. How did you go from being a highly respected man to this?"
"My dear miss Greengrass-"
"Potter," Astoria interrupted. She clenched her fist, the golden band around her finger glinting. "I am his wife, and those were our children. Please, use my married name."
Dumbledore didn't look happy at this, but he conceded. "Miss Potter, everything I did was to make our world better. But after Harry left, everything fell to pieces."
Astoria stormed forward until she was nose to nose with her former headmaster.
"How dare you blame Harry for what happened after he finally escaped from his miserable past!" She shouted, green eyes blazing. "Your 'world' was already falling apart when you were trying to make him your pawn, and he had nothing to do with it! The purebloods made their bed, now they can lie in it. They drove away everyone they saw as lesser then them, and now they have no one to oppress and no one to use to build themselves up. That cesspool you call a society was doomed to failure from the very beginning because of that hubris."
Astoria's eyes narrowed into slits, as the speech she had been saving for years came out in full. "You made such terrible, almost evil decisions and refused to let anyone question them. You didn't see anything wrong with the way you treated Harry, from forcing him to live with those evil non magical people to letting people treat him like a pariah."
Jerking her hand away from the old man's attempt to placate her, she went on, "You wanted to protect the world, but you didn't want it to change. You had the power to try but that was too much for you, wasn't it? You didn't really want things to be different, if it had mattered to you so many things would have been different – including the way the Ministry was run. But you were too nearsighted to let any of it happen. No, you were too busy giving out compassion in all the wrong places."
"You misunderstand me miss Potter," Dumbledore said, sounding pained. "I recognize I made mistakes back when you were my students. I came here today to make things right in our country."
Harry sighed, gently pulling his wife back towards him. "Sir, go look out the window."
Confused, the former headmaster walked over to one of the parliment building's large windows and looked outside.
The weather, as usual for the country, was spectacular – the sunlight was bright and beautiful against a clear blue sky and a grassy lawn. Playing out in the yard were Lillian, Leah and Jace, who were being chased everywhere with a young girl who looked like a female mirror of Sirius Black.
Sitting on a bench and clearly talking intently about something was a young boy, a grey haired boy and a silver haired girl. Graham was discussing new developments in mental magic with a deeply interested Teddy Lupin listening, because the breakthroughs made were giving more insight into the minds of magical creatures including werewolfs. Lilith Moon, soon to be Pritchard, was sitting in the light of day without a trace of fear, her skin tanned and healthy.
A few feet away, Sirius Black was entertaining a laughing Jane and Beverly with tales of his youth while an amused Remus and Richard were standing nearby, keeping an eye on the children.
"This is my home." Harry's voice sounded from behind Dumbledore, causing the old man to turn around.
The young man was regarding him with something between happiness and a flash of old anger. "Magic Britian was never my home," He said firmly. "I was always adrift there. I had no real anchour – my friends gave me up over what should have obviously been a lie, my aunt and uncle hated me and made it clear I didn't belong. I never belonged there."
He turned and smiled at Astoria. "If it wasn't for my dear Tori, I doubt that I would have survived." He remarked. "If the tournament hadn't killed me, the downward spiral I had been sent on upon realizing how truly alone I was probably would have."
Dumbledore stared at him. While the old man had meant for Harry to be fairly marginalized to prevent him from getting a big head – hence why he had sent him to live with the Dursleys – he hadn't realized how dearly the boy had taken being so alone.
"But my dear boy, I'm here to fix this."
"It's too late, Professor." Harry said. His brow furrowed. "But you're not a teacher anymore. Sorry, force of habit."
"It's far too late for you to try and change what you did," Astoria said angrily. "You abandoned Sirius, you abandoned Harry and let horrible things happen to him, and you could have done so much more to help people but you refused to."
"And even if I decided to say yes, there's nothing I can really do to help Britian." Harry remarked. "Voldemort is a fading memory. He died in ingomity, never to haunt anyone ever again. People may still know me as the boy who lived, but only in passing – now I am known for Disaster Rescue and Repair. I doubt my appearance would make the purebloods feel any different."
"This was always going to happen," Astoria added. "Even back when I was young, I knew that the society the purebloods vaunt as perfect was going to fall to pieces. I could see the cracks in it...I have a hard time understanding why you didn't."
She glared at Dumbledore.
"Besides, didn't you consider that Harry and I might have our own lives to live now? We have children, jobs and people to look after. Did you really expect Harry to just up and abandon that to try and fulfil your idea of a legacy?"
Harry nodded. "I couldn't leave my kids. Sirius definitely wouldn't want to go back and I know Leah would be heartbroken to live away from his daughter Emily. They're very close friends."
With his piece said, Harry walked over to a nearby table and levitated the briefcase he had left there before his tour. "It's time for you to move on, Dumbledore." He said quietly. "The world is a different place now. A different, better place. And none of us can go back."
With that, Harry left the room. Astoria shot Dumbledore one last venomous look before leaving too.
Dumbledore simply stood there, stock still with shock and despair. He stared out the window, where Harry was greeting Sirius and his children.
When he turned around, he was face to face with Hela. The girl said nothing to him this time. She merely regarded him coldly for a moment before swinging her scythe in a wide arc.
"Hey dad, can we go to the Quiddich World Cup?" Jace asked as the group walked home. "I'd really like to see the Romanian Team head for their first international victory!"
"No," Emily dawled, "You just want to drool over their seeker. That Weasley chick."
Jace flushed immediately. "I do not. And her name's Ginny!"
Sirius laughed and ruffled Jace's blonde hair. "She's a bit old for you, kid, but you're headed in the right direction. Potter boys always love firecrackers!"
"You wouldn't have a chance anyhow," Emily chuckled as Jace sputtered indigently. "Rumor has it that lady Weasley bats for the other team."
"Really?" Harry said, looking at his godsibling in surprise. "Did you hear that from a tabloid?"
Emily wrinkled her nose. "C'mon uncle Harry, you know I have better taste them that. Nah, one of her teammates kissed her during a party. Their chaser, Amanda."
Astoria smiled, "Good for them," she said sincerely. Turning her attention to her son, she added, "To answer your question, of course Jace. I'll be sure to get us some good seats."
"Lovely!" Sirius said. "I was beginning to fear that me and Jane would have to go alone."
"What about Graham?" Harry asked.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Do you have to ask? You know he's not into that kind of stuff. No, he'll probably be taking Lilith to another amusement park."
"She really loves those rides." Astoria shivered when she recalled the run down Thunder Mountain at Disney World. "I still don't understand why."
"I'm not surprised." Harry remarked. "After being so repressed for a large chunk of her childhood something so wild and dangerous feeling is probably europhic for her."
Lillian squealed in delight when she caught sight of Daphne. The older blonde was waving at the doorstep, having finished her day job an hour earlier. She was Lillian's 'favourite aunt', as demonstrated when the youngest child bolted towards her. Leah yelled at her sister to wait up while hurrying after her, having caught the scent of freshly made cookies.
The rest of the family laughed as they ran to keep up. Right before they went into the house Harry stopped in front of the door with Astoria right behind him.
The blonde smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
Harry smiled and brushed his fingers against her cheek. "I'm so glad I met you," he whispered.
Astoria returned his smile before putting her arms around his neck. "I know," She whispered. "You, Harry Potter, are the best thing that ever happened to me."
The two kissed once more, this time on the lips, before heading inside to join their family. Standing at the end of the street, Hela smiled for the first time in centuries before turning and disappearing, not to be seen until many years later.