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Chapter 63: Epilogue----Dawn Flight
The rest of the summer passed by in a blur for Harry and his friends. Harry still had therapy with Sirius and Remus, but they had changed the sessions to two days a week instead of three due to Harry's progress in conquering his phobias of the dark and small spaces. Healer Sandrilas had done likewise with Severus, though he had told him that even after Severus went back to Hogwarts, it would be wise to come for at least one session on the weekend. "Stress is one of the number one things that cause patients in my field to relapse and we don't want that to happen."
"I will come for an hour, Alec," Severus promised. "With my schedule that's all I can promise now."
Alec knew that was the best he was going to get out of Severus at that time, and he encouraged the other to practice his meditation and calming mantras.
Harry continued to volunteer at the animal shelter along with Paul, and around the middle of August they finally had it out with Big Bart and his pack of bullies. Bart had returned to the shelter when a young staff member, Mimi Burton, was on duty. Mimi, twenty-five, was the granddaughter of famous actor Richard Burton, and liked to tell Paul and Harry stories about him, since both of them admired him. "Oh, he had his faults, don't get me wrong, but he was always very sweet to me. He used to buy me candy and read to me on the porch, and his voice, he made the storybooks come alive. He bought me my first kitten, Sage, when I was five, and she lived till sixteen before she passed on. 'Mimi,' he used to tell me 'don't ever become an actress, it'll destroy your spirit. Do something you feel is rewarding, no matter what it is.' That's why I'm studying to become a vet. And when my mum Jess divorced my rotten dad when I was ten, and took her maiden name back, she changed mine too, which is why I'm a Burton, like Grandda."
"And that's why you named your cat Dickie, right?" Paul asked.
"Yes, that's why. It's a kind of tribute." Mimi smiled.
Just then, Bart and his two deadbeat sidekicks burst into the shelter. "Oi, we wanna adopt a dog, missy," bellowed Bart.
"Yeah, a mean 'un." Added his blond friend.
"Like those pit bulls, ya know what I'm talking about?" drawled the other, leaning upon the counter and leering at Mimi, who had gotten her grandfather's dark hair and charming smile.
Mimi wasn't smiling. "I'm afraid I can't help you, gentlemen. We don't have any pit bulls and even if we did, we don't allow them to be adopted by just anyone."
"Aww, well, ain't that a shame."
"It is, now will you please leave? You've been here before and my director has told me that you are not eligible to adopt a dog." Mimi said frostily.
"Not what?" Blond Boy looked like somebody had hit him upside the head.
"Eligible? Speak English, girl!" snapped Bart.
"I am. Pardon if I don't speak guttersnipe. Now, I have asked you politely to leave, do so." She ordered, her eyes flashing.
"What if we don't?"
"What're you gonna do, Miss Fancy-arse?" growled Bart.
He reached across the counter to grab her chin in his fat hand and Mimi slapped him a good one. "Hands off me, dirtbag! You have till the count of three to get your sorry behinds out of here or I'm calling the police!"
"Bitch!" Bart cried and reached for the phone.
"Leave her alone, arsehole!" Paul shouted.
Bart turned. "Well, looky here. If it ain't the little shit shoveler and his friend that we was gonna teach a lesson to all those weeks ago. Looks like you're overdue for a thrashing, boy." He sprang at Paul, attempting to pin him against the wall.
But Paul was ready and he stepped aside. Bart hit the wall with a thud and several dogs started to bark. "Looks like you're the one who'l be getting a lesson, dorkamese." Paul sneered, lifting his fists.
Paul's companion went to grab him, but Harry tripped him, then he cast a wandless and silent Slippery Hex on the oaf, making the kid keep trying to gain his feet and then slip and fall down repeatedly.
The third member of the group was hanging over the desk, trying to rip the phone away from Mimi, who was speaking with the police station. Harry put an end to that by tackling him to the floor and the two rolled about, scrapping like two angry wolves.
Though Harry soon gained the upper hand, since he not only knew how to box, he knew how to handle himself in a conflict where his opponent was bigger and stronger than he was. Pretty soon he had the thug on his stomach, and he was sitting on the other's back, wrenching an arm behind the troublemaker's head while the other whined and cried 'uncle'.
By then the shelter was in an uproar, all the dogs were barking, and police sirens sounded outside. Paul had knocked Bart sprawling by then, and he was trying to get up when the police came and had them cuffed and subdued in a matter of minutes. They took statements from both boys and Mimi, and said Paul and Harry had done a good job.
"We've been after these hoodlums a long time, and now we finally got them up on charges thanks to you." The police officer said. "They'll be looking at the inside of a cell for aassault and battery and a couple other things as well."
Mimi came around the desk then and hugged and kissed them. "My heroes. You were wonderful."
Paul blushed like crazy, for he had a thing for her. Harry blushed too.
When the director heard about what had gone on, she told the boys they could adopt a dog or cat for free, waiving the adoption fee.
Paul was thunderstruck. "You mean, I can adopt Wolf?" Wolf was the white German shepherd he had been longing to bring home for ages.
"If your parents say it's okay." The director said. "How about you, Harry?"
"Uh, I think I might like to get another cat. A little kitten." Harry said. A new litter of kittens had been brought in two days ago.
Paul went home and begged his parents to allow him to adopt Wolf. How he convinced them to agree was a mystery, but finally they said yes, and Paul took the beautiful shepherd home. Wolf had been well trained, already housebroken, and was delighted to have found a new boy to love him.
Harry went home, told Severus what had happened, and said, "So, can I get a kitten, Da."
"Harry, we already have Major, and you know he doesn't exactly like kittens," Severus began.
"Not for me, Da. It's for Sasha. It's sort of a 'welcome to Hogwarts' present. We can keep it here till we go to school, then I'll give it to her. Please? I promise I'll keep it in my room, so she doesn't annoy Major."
"She? You've already picked one out?"
"Yeah. She's a golden fluffy one, I've named her Isabeau."
He gave Severus one of his patented pleading evergreen stares.
Severus sighed. "The things I put up with because of you, Harry James Potter-Snape."
Harry knew that was a "yes" and he said, "Thanks. You're the best."
He went and picked up Isabeau the next morning. The kitten was quiet and calm, and did not pounce all over Major like the other kittens had. Therefore, the gray cat was willing to share the house with her till Harry went to school.
When Sirius heard about Harry's altercation with Bart and company, he chuckled and said, "A chip off the old block. Your dad would have done the same thing."
"Beat up a bully?" Harry clarified, thinking that it seemed more likely James might have joined them. But then he recalled that Bart had been bullying a girl, so maybe not.
"Defended a girl's honor," Sirius clarified. He looked sidelong at Remus. "Right, Moony? Remember the time he knocked that louse Hastings off his broom for harassing little Charity Burbage?"
Harry gasped. "Charity Burbage that teaches Muggle Studies?"
"Yup. Same one."
"I remember." Remus said. "The two of you were always getting into some kind of scrap and making me come and get you out of it."
Harry laughed then, for that sounded exactly like the Marauders. James and Sirius leaping before they looked and Remus the voice of reason. And Pettigrew just skulking and looking for trouble.
"You all set to return to school in September, Harry?" asked Remus.
"Yes. Da took me shopping for all my stuff a few days ago, so all I have left to do is pack. I can't wait."
"Can't wait?" Sirius looked horrorstruck. "Who are you and what have you done with my godson? Remus, it's a doppelganger."
Remus was chuckling quietly. "Padfoot, have you gone round the bend? Of course Harry can't wait to go back to school. Because that's where he can see his girlfriend. Remember Meadowsweet?"
Now Sirius looked chagrined. "Oh. Right. I'm an idiot. In that case, I don't blame you, Harry."
"Da says I have a choice this year. I can either go on the train like everyone else or I can go back with him a week early and get everything settled before everyone arrives and even help him a little." Harry said. "I'm thinking about going back with him."
"Now why would you want to get to school early? Will Meadowsweet be there too?" Sirius asked slyly.
"I don't know. It depends on Madam Pomfrey. But I wouldn't mind helping Da, he's got a lot to figure out since he's going to be Headmaster now."
"The house elves can help him unpack and whatnot."
"It's not the same. Da's picky about his books and stuff. It's better if I'm there." Harry said.
"As you like it, Harry," Sirius shrugged, though he thought that living with Severus Snape, Mr. Law and Order, had corrupted James' son beyong repair. Harry was now that rarest of adolescents—a responsible sixteen-year-old.
When they had finished their session, Harry invited them for tea. He had made arrangements with Remus to continue his own therapy during school, disguised as extra lessons in Defense, so people like Malfoy wouldn't find out what he was really doing. If word ever leaked out that Harry Potter-Snape, Slayer of the Dark Lord, was seeing a therapist, even an informal one . . .
Harry hoped that the upcoming year would go well. So much had changed since he had left Hogwarts. He had discovered the wolfen, fulfilled a prophecy, destroyed Voldemort, gained a father, and managed to put himself back together and live a semi-normal life with a decent parent who really cared about him. He had made a new friend, fallen in love, and would be starting the year as both an apprentice and a prefect.
It would be a year like none other, of that Harry was certain.
Harry woke with the dawn the morning he was going to leave Spinner's End and accompany Severus to Hogwarts. He had already packed up his trunk, including his brand new set of school robes with the prefect badge attached to the right breast, a large gold "P" with a divided shield in Gryffindor colors. Severus had said that he was more than ready to be a prefect, and he would set a good example for his impetuous lions. Vince had been made a prefect too, which Harry was sure would put Malfoy's nose out of joint.
As he closed the trunk and shrank it to fit in the pocket of his jacket, Harry turned to look out the window. Hedwig had already flown on ahead, she would not be caught dead using wizard transportation when she had perfectly good wings.
The sun had just crested the tops of the trees and he could hear the sky calling, beckoning him to fly. It was very early, no Muggles would be awake. Harry eased open the window and then transformed.
Freedom shot out the casement and was up in the air before a human could blink, just a blur of brown and red feathers. He streaked up towards the sun, glorying in the feel of the wind that swirled above and beneath him, the sun dappled his feathers and warmed them. He leveled out, circling lazily, not hunting, but just content to hover in the air, drinking in the dawn and the sleepy hamlet below.
The houses were dark, all their occupants still asleep, Freedom thought. They didn't know what they were missing. The dawn was the best time to fly. The hawk flicked his wings, catching an eddy, spiraled upwards. Then he swiveled his head, huge amber eyes pinpointing a tiny shrew that had ventured from its nest in his backyard.
An instant later, the red-tail plummeted from the sly, wings closed, in a stoop.
He quickly approached speeds of ninety to one hundred miles an hour, but at the last second his wings snapped open and his mighty talons gently grazed the grass beside the terrified shrew. Kree-aarr! Ha! Tag, you're It, little mouse!
In three wingbeats, Freedom was airborne again, giving a raptor's chuckle of amusement. He had forgotten how much fun it was to simply tag prey. He cruised around the block, and sparrows and finches took flight when his shadow appeared overhead, but he ignored them. This was not a hunting flight, but a flight to bid farewell to Spinner's End until the holidays.
When he arrived at Hogwarts, he knew he would have little time for flights like this, he would be too busy with classes, and Quidditch, assisting Severus with his new Wizarding Studies program, and trying to have a relationship with Sasha. He hoped she would like Isabeau. Then there was Ginny, whose sudden crush or infatuation or whatever had to be dealt with.
You have to make a choice.
But that was nothing new, Freedom thought, gliding upon a cushion of warm air. The only difference this time was that he didn't have to choose between facing a megalomaniac and running and hiding, for once the fate of the world was not in his hands. Only the fate of his heart, and the hearts of two young women. Severus too had a choice to make, Freedom realized, whether to take a chance upon Thea McGonagall again and risk his heart a second time, or to remain solitary and guilt-ridden, like many a Headmaster before him.
Our choices define us, and make us what we are.
Freedom knew he had read that somewhere, but right now he couldn't remember.
He could worry about that later. Right then all he wanted was to fly and taste the warmth and freedom of the dawn.
He circled the house once more, shrilling a joyous cry, then shot off towards the end of the street.
Suddenly, a large shadow fell over him.
Freedom looked up and let out a startled squawk. Warrior!
Good morning, fledgling! greeted the black goshawk, circling tightly. One last flight before school, eh?
Yeah. I woke up and looked outside and then . . .
It's a beautiful morning for flying, agreed Warrior. Come, youngling! Let us race the dawn! He broke out of his circle and streaked across the sky like a black comet.
Freedom shrieked a battle cry and flew after him, using every bit of wind he could to boost his speed. He might not be as fast as his peregrine cousins, but he could outfly one middle-aged goshawk.
Or could he?
He thrust hard with his wings, spilling air, then caught a jetstream and used it to carry him along.
Warrior was about two lengths ahead of him, and not even working that hard.
Freedom redoubled his efforts, until finally he drew alongside, and cheeped, Watch your six, Da! 'Cause I'm gonna dust you!
That'll be the day! Catch me if you can, Master Insolence!
And with that, Warrior put on a fresh burst of speed and outflew his insolent son, beating the young red-tail back to the house with a triumphant victory screech.
And so we come to the end of our two hawks' long journey at last. It's been almost a year since I started this fic and I'd like to thank all of my readers for continuing to read and review this work.
Are there more adventures ahead for Harry and Severus? Yes, another whole year's worth. Who wants to see what happens with Sev as Headmaster and Harry as his apprentice? And if our two hawks will finally get to be with the women they love? I don't know when I'll return to this universe just yet, as I have other unfinished stories to work on, but I am seriously considering a sequel. Hopefully, that will please you. Review and let me know! And thank you again! If you would like to give me ideas for the sequel feel free to do so, I always appreciate it.
Also, Mimi Burton is not a real person, but my own creation. Richard Burton did have a daughter named Jessica, and whether or not he had grandchildren I do not know, but it's possible. He was brilliant actor, much like AR.