An AU of a Sixth Year AU Story: What would have happened if two liberal American druids had taken Harry to America, before returning with him to Hogwarts? In this chapter, Harry confronts his future.
Harry woke up slowly. When he opened his eyes, he saw that he was in a private room in the Infirmary, and it was just past dawn, which meant, in those high latitudes, it was very early.
Turning the other way, he saw the Headmaster sitting quietly, looking at him. "Good morning, Harry."
"Good morning, sir."
"Quite the eventful evening you had last night. Do you have any questions about it?"
"Are the others all right?"
"Oh, yes. Miss Granger had no real injuries. Mister Weasley was more injured than Mister Longbottom, but both will be out of the Infirmary by lunchtime, and you will be out by dinner."
"The Quidditch game!"
"Has been postponed until tomorrow. Madam Pomfrey may be prevailed upon to let you fly. Anything else?"
"Sir . . . was I . . . was I set up?"
Dumbledore averted his gaze. "I wish I could tell you that you were not, but alas, you were. You were 'set up', as you say, in many ways. Just before you were born, there was a prophecy made, that only one wizard, soon to be born, would be able to fully destroy Voldemort. From the details, it meant that it had to be either you or your friend Neville Longbottom. Voldemort had to choose, and he chose you, the boy most like himself."
"In what way?"
"He was the heir of Salazar Slytherin, but his father was a Muggle. You come from an equally ancient family on your father's side, but your mother was Muggle-born. Your mother's sacrifice saved you from the Killing Curse that night, and it rebounded on to him. He could not kill himself, so his essence survived, and became the parasite you encountered last night."
"Now, your mother was also given a prophecy, after they had decided to go into hiding. It said that they would be killed, and if you were given to your foster parents, you would triumph over Voldemort at the end of your First year here. If not, you would fight Voldemort at the end of your Sixth year instead. Your parents decided to intrust you to your foster parents, should the prophecy work out and they were killed."
"Your foster parents worked hard to raise you well, because they and their friends love you. The Hidden got involved, in part because they feared a later return of Voldemort would create a wider war. They also believe you are a Key, a person of great power around whom events center. I, of course, needed to use you to fight Voldemort as well, and all of us helped bring this confrontation about, where you would have as much advantage as possible."
"Did my friends know?"
"No. I doubt if even Miss Granger guessed anything like this."
"They're both gone . . . dead . . . aren't they?" Harry asked in a small voice.
"Yes, Harry. Voldemort was not quite either dead or alive, but he is now completely dead. Quirrell died because he had given himself over to Voldemort. Had he not done so, he would not have been harmed."
Harry was not comforted by these distinctions. "So, I murdered them."
"Again, you finished the destruction of Voldemort, which was started when he attempted to kill you."
Harry said nothing.
"You will have to answer some questions later," Dumbledore said. "There are a number of people waiting to see you, even at this early hour. Whom would you like to see?"
"Mom," Harry said in a strangled voice. "I need Mom, and maybe Dad and Hermione later, if any of them want to talk with me."
"They will," Dumbledore said, standing. "I hope someday you can forgive me for having to use you."
Harry said nothing, merely rolling over and hugging his pillow.
As soon as Dumbledore opened the door, Tabitha ran into the room, pushed Dumbledore out and locked the door. She gathered Harry into her arms, and rocked as he cried out his anguish and guilt for the next half an hour.
After being consoled and talking with his mother, Harry spent time talking with Henry Dorff. Henry remembered his first 'kill,' and how he still sometimes had nightmares about it.
He had been 21, not a few months shy of 12. Both he and Tabitha knew it would take time for Harry to talk out his feelings. Tom and Lloyd would help them, and even Alastor Moody had offered to talk with Harry. They would also insure that Harry kept his privacy this coming summer.
Harry's meetings with Ron and Neville had been less stressful. Tabitha and Henry were glad that both boys were simply and totally happy that Harry was doing well. Both seemed to understand what Harry had done, but neither glamorized it nor seemed to think it more important than the fact that Harry was doing well.
Hermione had simply embraced her friend and cried, and Harry had cried again with her. When they finished, they were still holding hands, and that would be a common sight for many decades to come.
All the adults were glad that Fudge had been ousted as Minister back in January. He, no doubt, would have made waves. The reporters had demanded interviews with Harry, but Tabitha and Henry made it very clear what they would do to anyone bothering Harry. The Ministry people made it clear that if Harry's parents actually did those things to a reporter, there would not be any Ministerial retribution.
The important thing, for all concerned except Harry and his parents, was that Voldemort was truly dead. There might still be unconvicted Death Eaters 'out there,' but there was no longer any focal point.
The Daily Prophet would run the biggest banner headlines the next day since November, 1981.
The next afternoon, just as a recovered Harry Potter was making his winning grab at the Snitch, Lucius Malfoy sat in his lavish personal office/library at Malfoy Manor. He had spent the morning rummaging through a pile of objects, and was contemplating what he had been searching for.
It looked like an old, inexpensive Muggle yearly diary. It was actually a very powerful magical device. He had tried three times to smuggle it to some unsuspecting young student, so they would take it with them to Hogwarts, but he had never found the right person to give it to.
If it had worked, a youthful avatar of the Dark Lord might have appeared, which could have joined with the essence of the Dark Lord. That essence was now destroyed. Was it worth the chance to try again?
Malfoy rolled up his sleeve, where the Dark Mark was hidden. He hated Muggles, and all they stood for. On the other hand, despite the recent set-backs, he was a powerful and wealthy wizard. He had risked it all when he was a young man, because then he had only risked his life.
Could he risk the entire House of Malfoy, which he now led? Could he risk everything he believed in on a powerful and sadistic sorcerer, who had failed twice?
Lucius picked up a letter from Dumbledore to all the governors of the school, announcing his intention of appointing Sirius Black as the Defense teacher, with an appointment of the werewolf Remus Lupin as a teaching assistant for Defense and Care for Magical Creatures as well. Could he even hope to slip something by those two? After all, they might be a blood-traitor and, well, a werewolf, but they were clever, powerful, and dangerous. Lucius reviewed his decision for the last time, and rang a bell. A house elf appeared. "Is it ready?"
Lucius made no further sign, but hurried out of his office, out of the Manor.
A hot bonfire, of coal and charcoal, was burning in a small clearing. Taking a deep breath, Lucius tossed the small diary onto the fire, and cast protective wards around it.
The leather booklet caught fire quickly. For a brief moment, Lucius looked into the shocked and angry eyes of the young Tom Riddle, before the whole thing went up in smoke.
Lucius waited for hours, hardly moving, until the fire was gone, and the coals and ashes cold. There was no trace of the diary. He rang the small bell he had brought with him.
"I want you to divide these ashes into a hundred parts, and spread them all across the world. I want you to divide the very ground and rocks the fire was set on and around, and spread them to a thousand places, untouched by all the others. I order you never to speak of this to anyone. And then . . . and then I want you to go away. I never want to see you again, or for you to see me." He took out a handkerchief and blew his nose. He threw it on the ground. "That's yours, when you've done as I've commanded, and agreed to my last order. I never want to be reminded of this day. Understand?"
"Not completely, Master, but that does not matter. Dobby obeys."
Lucius stalked away, and never looked back.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Minerva McGonagall looked at the great hall with satisfaction. The students had left the day before, but it was set for a grand party. Tonight, Albus Dumbledore would retire.
He was retiring at a time of relative peace in the wizarding world. The Pure-Blood Movement hadn't completely died just because Voldemort had been destroyed thirteen years before. Lucius Malfoy and his son were still pushing the agenda politically. The only political force organized against it was the Old Believers from North America, and it was anyone's guess where that clash might lead.
McGonagall held little in common with either, although she did enjoy watching the Old Believers undercut the prejudices of the Pure-Bloods. After all, most of the Old Believer leaders had pedigrees at least millennia or two older than people like Lucius Malfoy.
She was checking the place cards on the Gryffindor table. She realized she had stopped when she had come to a set of names that she could never forget. How she wished they were all, or at least mostly, Hogwarts staff. The magical baby-boom of the '80s and '90s meant that the staff was nearly twice what it had been thirteen years before. Hermione Potter really should have taken over her position the next year, but she was involved in assuring the Muggle-born fuller acceptance into the magical community. Certainly an up-hill fight, even for her. Her alliance with the more liberal of the Old Believer groups certainly helped her almost as much as Harry's wife did.
Harry would make a tremendous Defense teacher, now that Sirius was leaving 'to have fun.' Harry and Remus would have made a fine team, but she would make do with Cedric Diggory, the Tri-wizard Champion, and Harry would continue being a 'trouble-shooter' for the Ministry and the Old Believers.
No, Neville Longbottom was an excellent Herbology instructor, and Ron Weasley would no doubt be a good Flying instructor, but she wished Hermione and Harry were here as well. Of course, Harry, Ron, and Neville seemed determined to create their own mini-baby boom with their wives Hermione, Sabrina, and Ginny (three each, and both Hermione and Ginny were pregnant yet again), so perhaps she shouldn't begrudge them.
She passed over to the Ravenclaw table, and soon paused again, shaking her head. "I swear, The Quibbler gets odder and odder each year," she muttered. "A pity Lovegood had such a rough time here, and never found anyone to be with."
No, life was far from perfect, but then life was never meant to be perfect. There were ripples in the magical world, and she understood there was even greater trouble than usual in the Muggle world. Still, compared with might have been, life was normal.
Minerva McGonagall smiled.