Harry opened his eyes and blinked before taking notice that everything was in even less focus than usual when he wasn’t wearing his glasses. Making a mental note to have his eyes examined soon, he raised his hand off of his bed to reach for the glasses next to him. Instantly, Harry was overwhelmed with a feeling of utter confusion. The simple action of moving his hand caused a jolt of dull pain to course through his wrist, as he became aware of how much effort was required to lift his hand at all. In fact, he noticed that the soreness he felt in his wrist and hand could also be felt throughout the rest of his body.
With considerable effort, Harry’s hand closed around his glasses and he began putting them on. As he was struggling physically, he also searched his memory for a recent time when someone had used the cruciatus curse on him. He remembered well the effects it could have, and he was sure he was experiencing the after effects of a prolonged exposure. Then the likely explanation took solid root in his mind. It was the death eaters. It had to be.
Harry winced as he struggled to sit up as quickly as he could. If the death eaters were nearby he knew he would have to act quickly, but no amount of effort could convince his body to move faster than it already was. Finally, with tears running from his eyes from the effort, he swung his legs off of the bed and his feet hit the floor.
Harry surveyed the room quickly, and he was surprised at what he saw. Instead of an unfamiliar room of imprisonment he was stunned to see the very familiar surroundings of his own bedroom. Almost everything was exactly as he remembered it. The curtains had changed, and he tried to remember when Ginny might have done that. Looking to his nightstand he spotted the picture of Ginny he always kept there.
Also there beside his bed was the polished wood of the cane Ron had made for him after they had been assigned to track down a rogue dragon. Harry’s leg had been badly injured when he found himself not quite as far out of the range of the dragon’s tail as he had thought. The hand grip on the cane looked to be well worn now. Harry wondered at that as he took the cane in hand and began the effort of rising to a standing position.
Once mostly erect, Harry reached for his wand on the nightstand beside Ginny’s picture. As soon as the wand was in his hand a shiver went up his spine. In that instant he knew that something was very wrong. The wand looked the same as it always did, but something felt off about it. He couldn’t explain it, but a wizard comes to know his wand, and this was not his wand. Then he began to think that perhaps Ginny had never actually changed the curtains. Maybe the handgrip on the cane Ron had made for him had not been as well worn. Maybe this wasn’t his real room at all.
Just as Harry was working himself into a panic the door to the room opened. Harry’s arm moved despite the pain as he raised the suspect wand toward the middle aged man who stood in the doorway. He didn’t know the man, but something about him seemed strangely familiar.
“Who are you?” Harry asked, becoming aware of the odd sound of his own voice.
“My goodness, Harry,” the man said. “I didn’t expect you to be up and moving already.”
“You have me at a loss, sir,” Harry said. “You seem to know my name, yet I don’t know yours.”
“My name is James,” James stated hoping Harry would suddenly remember. “James Potter.”
“You lie,” Harry charged. “My dad died when I was young, so you’re not him. My son is younger than you, so you can’t be him either. I think maybe you’re a death eater.”
“There are no more death eaters,” James said as he watched Harry’s face for any sign of clarity. “The aurors rounded all of them up a long time ago.”
“So if you are not a death eater,” Harry said, “then just who are you?”
“I’ll tell you if you’ll lower the wand,” James said calmly.
“Not likely,” Harry replied. “If I lower it you’ll just draw yours and attack me. I want answers, and I want them now.”
“I never bring my wand into your room,” James said.
“I don’t know how I came to be here,” Harry said seriously, “but if you’ve harmed Ginny in any way then I’ll kill you where you stand.”
“There is no need for threats, Harry,” James said. “This is your house. You are not a prisoner. I’m here to take care of you.”
“Then where is Ginny?” Harry asked.
James sighed heavily as he stared back at Harry with deep compassion, and said, “I’m sorry, Harry. Ginny is gone.”
“What do you mean gone?” Harry asked becoming irritated. “Gone where?”
“She’s dead, Harry,” James confessed as gently as he could.
“You lie,” Harry spat angrily. “She was with me here last night. What kind of fool do you think I am?”
“Try to remember, Harry,” James urged. “She died when I was still a young boy.”
“That’s impossible,” Harry said as tears came to his eyes of their own accord. “She was here…”
“I know this is difficult for you, Harry,” James said sympathetically. “You have… lapses of memory. Sometimes you think you’re still an auror getting up to go to work every day. Other times you think you’re still a student at Hogwarts. Occasionally you even wake up wondering why you weren’t sleeping in the cupboard under the stairs. Sometimes you actually remember who I am.”
“Supposing any of that was true,” Harry said still holding the wand on James, “Who exactly are you?”
“As I said, I’m James Potter,” James repeated. “My father was Charles Potter. His father was Albus Severus Potter. I’m your great grandson, Harry.”
“That’s crazy,” Harry said. “I would remember that.”
“You may still remember it at some point today,” James said with a grin. “Then again, it wouldn’t be unusual for you not to. I don’t suppose you remember Olivia, do you?”
“No,” Harry replied. “Should I?”
“She’s my wife,” James said. “She’s downstairs cooking breakfast right now. Would you like me to bring some up to you?”
“No,” Harry said without further explanation.
“Very well then, Harry,” James said as he made a motion as if he was turning to go. “You’ll find the potion for your arthritis in the bedside drawer. Just one capful is all you’ll need for the day.”
“James,” Harry said, causing James to stop and turn back to look at him.
“Yes, Harry?” James asked.
“If I’m your great granddad then why don’t you call me that?” Harry asked watching James closely. “Why do you call me by my name?”
James smiled as he said, “You told me to. You always said calling you great granddad would make you seem older than you really were.”
With that, James walked out and closed the door behind him. Harry lowered the wand to his side as he searched his memory for anything that might tell him James had been telling the truth. He didn’t believe it though. He wouldn’t believe it. Ginny couldn’t be dead.
Harry sat on the bed and again felt the complaint of nearly every joint in his body. Setting the wand down on the nightstand, Harry pulled the drawer open to see a bottle of potion sitting right where James had said it would be. Of course, it could just as easily have been a drug to make him more cooperative if James really was a death eater. As Harry was considering his options he spotted the edge of a book of some kind in the drawer. Pulling the book out onto his lap, he opened it to the first page and realized that it wasn’t a book at all. It was a photo album.
Harry looked down at a familiar picture of he and Ginny at their wedding. Even that could have been faked, but Harry became choked with emotion as he looked at Ginny and realized that he may never see her again. Turning the page, the pictures of all of his children as babies didn’t make his emotions calm at all. Over the next few minutes Harry turned page after page of memories from his life.
Harry closed the album after looking at the last page. He sat for several seconds with his hand on the rear cover as if trying to absorb it all into his memory. He looked back to the drawer and reached for the potion bottle. He still didn’t discount the idea that it could be something other than an arthritis medicine, but he drank a cap full of the potion anyway. It was a reckless thing to do, but he needed answers one way or another.
Olivia was just removing another pancake from the pan when she heard a noise behind her. She turned around and gasped in surprise as Harry stood in the doorway of the kitchen looking at her appraisingly.
“Harry,” Olivia finally said. “Did you come down the stairs by yourself? You should have let James help you.”
“The arthritis potion helped,” Harry responded as he noticed her long blonde hair and somewhat angular yet still feminine facial features. “I don’t move very fast, but I made it in my own time, Olivia.”
Olivia’s face lit up with excitement as she asked, “You remember me?”
“James told me your name earlier,” Harry said as he watched disappointment wash over her face. “He said you were cooking breakfast.”
“Are you hungry?” Olivia asked. “I’ll make you anything you would like.”
“Pumpkin juice?” Harry asked.
“Coming right up,” Olivia said as she turned toward where she already had a pitcher of juice waiting.
“And some answers,” Harry said as Olivia turned and noticed the photo album in his hand.
“Of course,” Olivia said as she set the glass of juice at the kitchen table and waited as Harry slowly made his way to his chair.
When they were both seated, Harry placed the album on the table and looked at it as he asked, “They’re all dead aren’t they? Ron and Hermione, Neville, George, Luna, Ginny… even all of my kids, they’re all dead.”
“Yes, Harry,” Olivia said as she tried to control her own tears. “I’m sorry you have to keep reliving that.”
“How old am I?” Harry asked. “I could swear that I’m only forty-five, but I passed a mirror on the way here. I don’t remember getting this old.”
“Are you sure you want me to tell you the exact number?” Olivia asked. “You’ve lived an unusually long life.”
“You might as well tell me,” Harry said. “I likely won’t remember it tomorrow.”
“In a few weeks you’ll turn one hundred twenty six,” Olivia said as Harry’s mouth dropped open before he could stop it.
“How long…” Harry said, unable to finish his question. “When did Ginny…”
“She was eighty seven,” Olivia said. “She didn’t suffer, Harry. You were with her when it happened. She wanted you to find happiness in your grandchildren.”
“Now I can’t even give her that,” Harry said sadly. “I see their pictures in this album, but I can’t even remember who they are.”
“Not all of the time,” Olivia pointed out. “There are some days when you remember everything and everyone.”
“I get the feeling that those days are few and far between,” Harry said. “I pointed a wand at James earlier this morning and accused him of being a death eater.”
“So I heard,” Olivia said with a grin. “You couldn’t have hurt him if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“I know the wand wasn’t mine,” Harry said.
“It isn’t even real,” Olivia admitted. “James switched it for his own safety last year after a close call.”
“I should be in a hospital or something,” Harry said. “The two of you shouldn’t have to put up with me going off my head all the time. You should be free to live your own lives.”
“Let me tell you a little something about James,” Olivia said. “As a young boy James sat around and listened every time anyone was telling a story about Harry Potter, The Chosen One, the auror. He took it in with wide eyed fascination that only a child could have. Simply put, you were his idol. That only deepened when you gave him his first broom riding lesson when he was eight years old. He eventually became the seeker for Gryffindor at Hogwarts. He even became an auror the same as you. He retired from that two years ago. That was about the same time you started having lapses in your memory. There was never any hesitation for him. He doesn’t do this because he has to. He just wants to spend as much time as he can with you.”
“He should be spending that time with you,” Harry said. “He’s a fool if he can’t see that.”
Olivia smiled widely, and said, “You have to understand that he wasn’t the only one who grew up idolizing Harry Potter.”
“You?” Harry asked in surprise as she nodded. “I have to say that I never expected to hear that from a Malfoy.”
Olivia’s eyes went wide again as she asked, “How did you know?”
“Because you look very similar to Draco’s mum, Narcissa,” Harry observed. “I knew there had to be Malfoy blood in your history somewhere. Were you descended from Scorpius and Rose?”
“No,” Olivia said. “Scorpius was my great uncle. His brother Titus was my Grandfather. I was always so jealous of my cousin Molly. Rose was her Grandmother, so she always got to go to the Weasley holiday celebrations. Of course those celebrations never took place without the Potters present as well. I was madly envious every time Molly told me about seeing you there. I was ten years old before I convinced my parents to let me go with Molly to the Burrow for Christmas.”
“I’m glad she did too,” James said with a smile from the door as he walked into the room. “That was the first time I had ever met her. I went back to Hogwarts anxious for the next year when she would be there with me. When she was, she ruined all of my plans by being sorted into Slytherin.”
“You seem to have worked things out since then,” Harry commented.
“Thanks to you, Harry,” Olivia said. “If it wasn’t for you, James might have given up on me entirely.”
“What did I do?” Harry asked.
“Go ahead and tell him, James,” Olivia said as she stood from the table. “I’ll get your breakfast.”
James sat at the table with Harry as he said, “I left Hogwarts after that year and spent the entire summer distracted by the conflicting feelings I had inside. I didn’t tell anyone what I was feeling, but apparently Molly guessed what it was. She mentioned it to Ginny and they decided it was something you should talk to me about. So you did. I confessed everything, and you told me that only feelings created in the mind respected the boundaries of the house tables. You said that feelings that flowed directly from the heart knew no boundary or limitation. You said that if my feelings for Olivia were true then I shouldn’t be afraid to follow them wherever they may lead.”
“He pursued me for two years after that before I realized that it really didn’t matter to me what house he was in,” Olivia said. “The rest is ancient history.”
Harry jumped involuntarily as an owl suddenly flew into the open kitchen window and landed on the table beside James. James greeted the owl by name and removed the note tied to his leg.
“What is it, James?” Olivia asked as James read the note.
“It’s from Fiona,” James said before he realized that Harry wouldn’t know who Fiona was. “Fiona is our daughter, Harry. She says that a big group is going to the Burrow today for a summer celebration. She says there is going to be a quidditch match so I should bring my broom.”
“It’s sweet of her to invite us,” Olivia said with a smile.
“You’re going aren’t you?” Harry asked expecting a positive answer.
“I think we’ll skip this one,” James replied causing Harry’s expression to drop into one of deep consideration.
“It’s because of me isn’t it?” Harry asked. “If you didn’t have to take care of me then you wouldn’t hesitate to accept that invitation.”
“No, Harry,” James said a bit too quickly. “I just have some things to do here around the house.”
“Things that couldn’t wait until later?” Harry asked.
“You can go, James,” Olivia said. “I’ll be here.”
“Both of you should go,” Harry suggested.
“Harry, I don’t think that would be…” James began.
“Fine then,” Harry said as he pushed down on his cane to help him stand. “We’ll all go. If you have to keep a constant eye on me then I’ll go with you. Besides, I haven’t seen a good game of quidditch in… well actually I have no idea when it was. Let me know when you’re ready to leave.”
Harry picked up his photo album from the table and turned to begin his slow walk to the sitting room. James and Olivia looked at each other and shrugged without saying anything until Harry was out of the room.
“We’ll wait him out,” James said. “In an hour he won’t even remember that an owl came.”
“That’s a cruel thing to do, James. We all know that the most important thing to Harry has always been family. That’s why he doesn’t want us to miss it. He woke up this morning and found out that the only family he remembers having are dead. He understands how important every moment spent with family is.”
“I know that,” James said, “but how can we take him there? Apparating at his age could kill him. A port key is out of the question. Even the floo network would be too rough on him.”
Just then there was a crashing sound from the sitting room. James jumped up immediately and ran for the sitting room with Olivia following behind him. Upon entering the room they saw Harry leaning against a wall as if he had fallen against it and caught himself. The photo album lay dropped on the floor beside him. He turned his head to them with a terrified expression on his face.
“Where am I?” Harry yelled. “Who are you? What have you done to me?”
“Take it easy, Harry,” James said as he inched closer.
“I have to get away,” Harry said frantically. “Somewhere safe.”
James was only a meter away when Harry suddenly disapparated with a pop. James and Olivia were immediately in a panic. Harry’s age and physical condition greatly increased his chance of splinching. Even without that, the physical strain of apparating was likely to prove to be more than he was able to withstand. Informing Olivia of his immediate search plan, James instructed her to wait for any news of Harry that may be delivered to the house. James immediately disapparated to the Ministry of Magic.
Emily Weasley was in the kitchen of the Burrow preparing food for the party that people would soon begin arriving for. She flicked her wand and caused the spoons in three pots to begin stirring at the same time while the frying pan began tossing its contents to stir them up. She hummed quietly to herself as she opened the oven to look at the bread she had baking there. She had just closed the oven door when she heard a pop behind her. Thinking that her first guest had arrived, she turned to see Harry fall forward onto the floor.
“HARRY!” Emily screamed as she ran over to him.
“Mrs. Weasley,” Harry struggled to say. “I need your help.”
Thirty minutes later James apparated back to Harry’s house to find Olivia pacing.
“Anything?” Olivia asked.
“Not yet,” James said. “He wasn’t at the Ministry. A few of the aurors are out looking for him now for me. He wasn’t at number twelve either. I checked every shop in Hogsmeade. Nothing so far, but I’m going to look at the Burrow next. If he isn’t there I’ll go back to the muggle house he grew up in. After that I don’t know where to look.”
A knock at the door made them both look at one another as a frightful thought was passed between them without a sound. They both walked to the door quickly, and James opened it to find Will Weasley standing there.
“Will,” James said quickly, “have you seen…”
“You can both rest easy,” Will said, as he walked into the house. “Harry is at my house. Emily and the kids are with him.”
“Oh thank goodness,” Olivia said as she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Was he hurt?” James asked.
“He was a little shaken up from apparating, but I made sure he was on the way to recovery before I came to tell you where he was,” Will said. “He must have been anxious to get to the party.”
“Well he apparently thinks of your house as a safe place,” James informed him. “At least a safe place was what he said he needed when he was so desperate to get out of here.”
“Not too surprising,” Will said with a smile. “He suddenly found himself in a place he didn’t know with people around him he didn’t know.”
“He didn’t even know his own house?” Olivia asked. “How far back has his mind gone?”
“He thinks he’s seventeen again,” Will said as the reality of that sank into James and Olivia who knew Harry’s history as well as anyone. “It was the year he was actively being pursued by death eaters and right before his battle with Voldemort.”
“We’ll get him and bring him back here,” James said.
“Wicked bad idea if you ask me,” Will commented. “Even as confused as he currently finds himself surrounded by people he doesn’t know, he still feels safe at the Burrow. Besides, soon there should be plenty of people there to watch after him. I think you two could stand a break.”
“He may be right, James,” Olivia said. “Harry did say he wanted to see the quidditch match.”
“That was forty-five year old Harry,” James pointed out. “Still, I guess he won’t be in any danger surrounded by so many relatives.”
At the Burrow, Emily said, “Because I have to finish cooking for the party. You only have to keep Harry company until your dad gets home.”
“I’d rather have triple potions classes,” Fred blurted before he could stop himself, and his twin brother George suppressed a grin.
“How could you say that, Fred?” Emily asked in her most disappointed tone as she placed her hands on her hips.
“I’m sorry, mum,” Fred said, “but he’s a creepy old guy.”
“Fred’s right, mum,” George said. “He keeps looking at us funny. He doesn’t even know who we are.”
“That isn’t his fault,” Emily said. “He’s lived for a very long time. He’s just a little confused right now. Harry is your great great great great uncle. Not many people have uncles from that far back.”
“I feel sorry for him,” Ginny said quietly as she spoke up for the first time. “I can’t imagine what he goes through every day.”
“You only say that because you were named after his dead wife,” Fred said before Emily clasped a hand tightly on his shoulder.
“She was the sister of your own namesake,” Emily reminded him. “If your dad were here he would…”
“I’m sorry, mum,” Fred pleaded.
“You know Fred always talks without thinking,” George said trying to calm his mum.
“I’ll stay with him, mum,” Ginny said. “Fred and George don’t have to.”
“Are you sure?” Emily asked. “Can you handle him alone?”
“He’s very sad right now,” Ginny explained. “I think he just needs someone he can talk to. I don’t think this would be a good time to send Fred in there.”
“Thanks, Ginny,” Fred said with a smile as he started walking for the door. “I owe you one.”
“Thanks, Ginny,” George said as he followed his brother.
Ginny turned without another word and walked back into the sitting room. Harry was sitting with his head in his hands. Ginny moved quietly toward him and sat down beside him. Harry felt someone sit down, and he turned to look at her with eyes red and swollen from the tears he had already shed. Sitting back, he looked down at his trembling wrinkled hands in his lap.
“I guess I look pretty silly,” Harry said.
“Why do you say that?” Ginny asked.
“Well, I went from seventeen to one hundred twenty five in about five minutes,” Harry explained. “I don’t seem to be taking it very well.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” Ginny asked.
“Not unless you can turn back time, or raise the dead,” Harry said flatly. “Everyone that I ever remember knowing is dead. The wife I didn’t know I had is dead. My friends are all dead. Molly and Arthur Weasley are dead. Everything that I’ve ever fought for is gone.”
“When I was little,” Ginny said, “you used to tell me stories about my aunt Ginny and how you met. I think of those stories as my own idea of what a fairy tale love should be. I hope to find it myself someday. You told me that your parents had been killed, and you were left alone with muggle relatives that didn’t like you very much. When you went to Hogwarts you met Ron and Hermione. Then you met aunt Ginny, Arthur, Molly, and the rest of the Weasleys. You said they had become your family. Even though they’re dead now the way your parents were then, there are going to be loads of people here today who know you and care about you. Do you think you can think of them as your new family?”
Harry looked at Ginny and considered her for a few moments before he smiled and asked, “Just how many people are we talking about?”
“Enough that you can pick and choose if you like,” Ginny said with a smile. “Feel free to leave my brothers out if you want. I would if I could sometimes.”
“Well it wouldn’t be a proper Weasley household if you didn’t feel that way,” Harry said with a chuckle. “If Fred and George are anything like the ones I remember then I can imagine you wanting to get away from them quite often.”
“I wish I could have met the original ones that you knew,” Ginny said. “I see pictures of them still hanging in the shop, and they seem really fun.”
“They were to a point,” Harry mused. “You just had to be careful if they asked you to try something new. They were always looking for people to test things on. They would be happy to know that their shop is still there.”
“It sure is,” Ginny said proudly. “My dad runs it now.”
“So, what about you?” Harry asked. “You’re at Hogwarts now, right?”
“I just finished my first year,” Ginny replied.
“How was it?” Harry asked.
“I finished near the top of my class,” Ginny said proudly. “Fred and George didn’t do nearly as well. They did really well in Defense against the Dark Arts, Potions, and Transfiguration, but they just barely got by in the rest of their classes.”
“Now Ginny,” Will said from the doorway, “what have I told you about pointing out your brother’s shortcomings?”
“It isn’t fair,” Ginny said in complaint. “It isn’t my fault they don’t take their studies seriously.”
“Still,” Will said, “it isn’t polite to talk about people behind their backs.”
“Fine,” Ginny said as she sat back and crossed her arms in a soured mood.
“How are you feeling, Harry?” Will asked.
“This is still a bit much for me to process,” Harry explained, “but having Ginny to talk to has made me feel better.”
Will took notice of the subtle brightening of his daughter’s expression before he asked Harry, “Is there anything you need?”
“I think I’d like to go outside and get some air,” Harry replied.
“Then you’ll need this,” Will said as he walked closer and handed Harry his cane. “I brought that from your house. Your friend Ron made it for you.”
“Thank you,” Harry said as he used the cane to stand slowly.
“I’ll walk out with you,” Will offered as he put his hand out to Harry.
“If you don’t mind,” Harry said, “I’d like it if Ginny would walk with me. I’d like to hear about what Hogwarts is like now.”
Will could see that Ginny was beaming as he asked, “Would you take Harry outside and show him around, Ginny.”
“Sure,” Ginny said as she stood next to Harry and placed her arm through his. “Right this way, Harry.”
Ginny walked slowly beside Harry as he shuffled along as best as he could. With Will following them, Harry and Ginny walked into the kitchen. Standing there with Emily, Harry saw the two people he had seen just before he came to the Burrow.
“I’m sorry I reacted the way I did,” Harry said.
“That’s okay, Harry,” James said. “We’re just glad you’re alright. I’m James, and this is my wife Olivia.”
“James is a fine name,” Harry said. “Someone very close to me had that name. I’m very happy to meet you both… again I guess. If you’ll excuse me, Ginny is kindly taking an old man for a walk outside.”
“Of course,” James said. “Just call for us if you need anything.”
Harry had to lean on Ginny heavily as he negotiated the step down from the kitchen to the yard. He hadn’t needed her help since then as he had his cane, but she kept her hand on his arm just in case. He listened while Ginny told him all about the new complement of teachers at Hogwarts. He listened intently until they had rounded the hedge into the rear paddock. Ahead of them they could see several brooms in the air while a few people of all ages stood below and watched them.
They all turned to look at Harry as soon as they were aware of his presence. Several of the younger people either mounted their own brooms and flew into the air, or walked away to a separate space from where the older adults were gathered. Harry didn’t mind that. The fewer names to memorize the better.
“Hello, Harry,” Fiona said as he neared where she was standing. “I didn’t expect to see you here today. How are you feeling?”
“Either terrible, or very well,” Harry replied. “I don’t have enough memory to base my answer on.”
“Another memory lapse I guess,” Fiona said. “How old are you this time?”
“Seventeen,” Harry said as he noticed that no one in the group seemed surprised.
“I guess introductions are in order then,” Remus said from Fiona’s side. “I’m Remus, and this is my sister Fiona. Our parents are James and Olivia. They’re the people who have been taking care of you for the past two years.”
Harry detected a slight hint of irritation in Remus’ voice, but continued listening as Fiona placed her hand on the shoulder of the little girl clinging to her skirt, and said, “This is my daughter Amelia.”
“Hello, Amelia,” Harry said with a smile.
In response, Amelia’s face took on a look of terror before she looked up at her mum and asked, “Can I go and play with the other kids now, mum?”
“Go ahead,” Fiona said as the girl took off at a run.
Remus gestured to a tall red haired man standing next to a petite dark haired woman and said, “This is Michael Weasley and his wife Sarah.”
Fiona looked over at the last member of the group and said, “Last but not least, this is Giselle Weasley.”
Harry took one look at Giselle and could plainly see that she was descended from Bill and Fleur. He was a bit disturbed about the way she was looking at him though.
Also having caught the strange look, Ginny asked, “Are you having a vision?”
Giselle nodded, but hesitated to elaborate.
“Giselle is in her seventh year at Hogwarts, Harry,” Ginny informed him. “She’s a seer. She can see signs and look into the future. People say that she should apply to be the new Divination teacher at Hogwarts.”
“Don’t keep us in suspense, Giselle,” Michael said. “What do you see?”
“I shouldn’t say,” Giselle replied still looking at Harry.
“Let me guess,” Harry said with a grin. “It has to do with me.”
“Yes,” Giselle conceded.
“The Grim, maybe?” Harry asked as Giselle looked shocked.
“How did you know?” Giselle asked
“The Grim?” Ginny asked with genuine concern for Harry.
“Don’t worry,” Harry said. “The Grim has been with me since my first day of Divination class. I wouldn’t feel safe if I didn’t have someone predict a death omen for me at least twice a year.”
“You shouldn’t take Giselle’s visions so lightly,” Fiona suggested. “She’s never wrong.”
“There’s no sense me worrying about it though,” Harry pointed out. “From what I’ve been told recently I likely won’t remember anything about it for very long. I thank all of you for being kind enough to introduce yourselves to me, but I think I need to go back to the house and rest. I’m feeling quite tired. Ginny, you can stay here with the others if you like. I can find my way back.”
“That’s okay,” Ginny said as she took hold of Harry’s arm once again. “I’ll take you back.”
They had walked a fair distance away before Fiona turned and leveled a stare at her brother.
“What?” Remus asked.
“You had better hope mum and dad don’t hear about the way you just spoke to him,” Fiona warned. “Dad will hex you into next week without a bit of hesitation.”
“I’m twenty four years old,” Remus argued. “I can make my own decisions about who I worship and who I don’t.”
“There’s a fine line between civility and disrespect, Remus,” Fiona said. “From now on I suggest you try to smile and be pleasant the way the rest of us do.”
Ginny was unusually quiet on the trip back to the house. Harry could tell that she was still thinking about Giselle’s prediction of doom.
They were near the kitchen door, and Harry was turning to reassure Ginny that the prediction shouldn’t be taken so seriously, but as he did an image of his Ginny popped into his head. She was lying in a bed at St. Mungo’s, and Harry was suddenly filled with sadness so deep and profound that he felt he might easily drown in it. As he fell to his knees he was only vaguely aware of a high pitched scream near him.
Will and James ran out of the house first, followed by Olivia and Emily. Panic threatened to grip each of them as they ran to where Harry lay collapsed on the grass as Ginny tearfully bent over him.
“Harry,” James said urgently as he knelt down beside Harry. “Are you alright?”
Harry couldn’t respond through the river of tears flowing from his eyes.
“Ginny, what happened?” Will asked.
“I’m sor… sorry dad,” Ginny cried as Fiona and the others appeared from around the hedge. “It was the… Grim. He wouldn’t believe us.”
“Grim?” Will asked. “What are you talking about?”
“Giselle saw a Grim in his future,” Fiona supplied as they looked on.
“Oh, be still, Ginny,” Emily said as she wrapped her arms around her daughter. “Harry isn’t dead. He’s just jumped to another memory. A very sad one.”
“Harry,” Olivia said softly as she knelt down beside Harry, “why are you so sad?”
“I…” Harry struggled to say. “I can’t… live without her. I don’t want… to.”
“Harry,” James began, wishing he didn’t have to ask, “when did she die?”
“J… Just a… few minutes ago,” Harry said.
“Oh, God,” Olivia prayed softly. “Not that day. Please don’t make him live through that again.”
James reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a small vial of potion. Removing the cork, he offered it to Harry as he held Harry’s head and poured it in. Harry was in no state to object. Seconds later Harry stopped crying and went eerily still.
“What did you give him?” Ginny asked with concern.
“A sleeping potion,” James replied. “I’ve carried it with me every day just in case of this very thing.”
“You were expecting this?” Remus asked.
“I hoped this day would never come,” James said as he held Harry in his arms. “I was there that day. Believe me, if any of you had been there you would understand exactly why I can’t stand to let him go through that again. I was thirteen years old when it happened. It was one of the defining moments of my young life.”
“We should get him inside,” Emily suggested.
Will pulled out his wand and levitated Harry as James and Olivia walked alongside him. Ginny clasped tightly to Harry’s hand as they entered the house. Emily followed behind them leaving only the young adults standing outside.
Remus turned to leave as he said, “I guess the freak show is over.”
“Remus,” Fiona said in a disapproving tone.
“What?” Remus asked as he turned back to face them.
“That was a wicked cold thing to say,” Michael pointed out.
“I heard comments like that all the time in Slytherin,” Sarah commented, “but I never thought I would hear it from a Gryffindor.”
“Get over it,” Remus said. “None of you are fooling me. When we heard Ginny scream we all ran here expecting Giselle’s prediction to have come true. We were all half expecting to round the hedge and see the Grim standing over him.”
“That may be,” Fiona acknowledged, “but you seem to be the only one wishing for it.”
“Is that so?” Remus asked.
“We may not revere him the way some of our parents or grandparents may have, Remus,” Michael said, “but we don’t have to be openly hostile to him. He is family after all.”
“Too bad he can never remember that,” Remus shot back acidly. “He shouldn’t even be here. Everyone was supposed to get together today to laugh and have fun. Harry being here has put a damper on any hopes of that. My parents sure aren’t going to have any. Now we’re all fighting among ourselves. The only ones he hasn’t affected yet are the kids who had the good sense to run off as soon as they saw him coming.”
“Don’t drag the kids into this, Remus,” Fiona warned.
“You’ve already done that, Fiona,” Remus charged. “You were the one who insisted that Amelia stay and greet Harry even though you know she’s scared of him.”
Fiona slapped Remus hard as she yelled, “I wanted her to learn that she didn’t need to be. Some example we set for them.”
Fiona turned in a huff and walked back around the hedge with heavy steps. Remus grinned as he rubbed his cheek and followed her at a slower pace.
“I think I should have kept my vision to myself,” Giselle said as she looked after them.
“I don’t think it really would have made a difference,” Sarah said. “It probably would have happened this way regardless of your vision. In some small way Remus is right. Harry being here in the condition he’s in is going to create a tension that wouldn’t have been here otherwise. That’s why Fiona is so upset. She knows he’s right about that.”
Harry was sleeping soundly in one of the many bedrooms at the Burrow while guests began flooding in for lunch. By the time they all gathered around the tables that had been conjured outside, the knowledge of what had happened to Harry was widely known. Opinions about it were as strictly divided as the tables. Most of the young people chose to sit together while the older adults did the same.
“What about little Ginny, Will?” Charles Potter asked as he stuck his fork into a slice of ham. “I don’t see her among the other children.”
“She’s still sitting with Harry,” Will replied.
“Is that a good idea?” Margaret Weasley asked.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Charles asked. “Are you saying that my Granddad can’t be trusted around children?”
“I meant that it could be dangerous in his current condition if he were to wake up and find her there,” Margaret said. “James can tell you what he’s like. Harry actually took a shot at him last year. I’m not trying to suggest that he would do anything if he was in his right mind.”
“Right mind or not,” James said, “Harry wouldn’t lift a finger against a little girl like Ginny.”
“Not just a little girl,” Charles said with a chuckle. “Potter men don’t raise hand or voice against a woman. We’ve all been given that lecture. I remember a story my dad told me once about a time when he was fifteen and dared to make a disrespectful comment to his mum. Harry happened to overhear him, so he grabbed him by the shoulder and dragged him out to the back yard. My dad said he knew from the look on Harry’s face that he was in more trouble than he had ever been in before, and that was saying something. Harry paced off a distance between them and then turned and drew his wand. He told my dad that he had made him, but he had chosen Ginny. He said that no man was allowed to disrespect his wife without paying the consequences. He made dad draw his own wand and duel against him. Needless to say dad got the thrashing of his life. Then he had to walk back into the house and apologize to his mum.”
“It’s true,” Jake Potter said with a grin. “My dad told me that Uncle Albus walked upstairs looking a mess. Before he got the chance to ask him what had happened, Harry walked up the stairs and sat the two of them down to talk to them. They were the first ones to get the talk about how Potter men were expected to treat women. To my knowledge, no Potter has ever strayed from that teaching since.”
“Besides,” James said, “that potion I gave him shouldn’t wear off until later this evening.”
It wore off at seven minutes after six in the evening. Harry opened his eyes and reached for his glasses. Even before he put them on he could make out the form of someone sitting in a chair near his bed. Putting on his glasses he saw Ginny sitting and looking at him with a hopeful expression.
“Well, hello, Ginny,” Harry said with a smile.
“You remember me?” Ginny asked excitedly.
“It’s a tragic thing that I ever forget you,” Harry said as he sat up. “I guess I’ve had another memory problem. I must say that I’m surprised to wake up here at the Burrow. How in the world did I get here?”
“You apparated,” Ginny replied as she held out Harry’s cane to him.
“Apparated?” Harry questioned with a smile. “Well, that was a silly thing to do at my age. Has anyone told James?”
“My dad told him,” Ginny said. “He and Olivia are here along with everyone else.”
“Everyone?” Harry asked as he stood up.
“We’re having the summer party today,” Ginny informed him.
“Then I picked a good day to drop in,” Harry said. “Have I missed the quidditch match?”
“I think they finished one after lunch,” Ginny said, “but I think they’re playing another one by now.”
“Let’s be off then,” Harry said as he let her take hold of his arm and they began moving toward the door.
Olivia looked up as she heard someone on the stairs and was shocked to see Harry with Ginny at his side negotiating the last couple of steps. She waited quietly for him to make it down as Emily, Margaret, and Ann noticed Harry as well.
“Hello everyone,” Harry said brightly as he looked up and noticed everyone looking at him. “Dear Olivia, I’m so sorry for what I must have put you and James through today.”
“You remember me, Harry?” Olivia asked as Harry nodded.
“I seem to be having one of my lucid moments,” Harry commented. “I know all of you. You’ll have to excuse me though. Ginny tells me there might be a quidditch match going on right now.”
“Don’t bother, Harry,” Emily said. “Will and James have gone out to put a stop to it. Dinner is about to be served.”
“Great,” Harry said. “I’m starving.”
“Charles is outside,” Ann said. “I’d wager he’s already found a place at the table.”
“Is my grandson still treating you like a princess, Ann?” Harry asked with a grin as he watched the smile spread over Ann’s face.
“I couldn’t have found a more wonderful man unless you were a few years younger, Harry,” Ann replied.
“Don’t tell me that,” Harry said. “I have a dream that each generation of Potters will be better than the one before it. I’m proud to observe that so far my dream is a reality.”
Upon exiting the house, Harry did indeed find Charles already sitting at the table and waiting. He stood along with several others when they spotted Harry walking toward them. They were all very pleased to find out that he was experiencing a moment of such clarity on such an important day. Quietly they were all hoping it would last through the rest of the evening.
Ginny had intended to stay at Harry’s side, but he insisted that she sit with her cousins who had missed getting to play with her during the day. Harry sat with all of the older adults during dinner, and Charles commented on the fact that the young people were being rude not to come over and greet Harry. Harry told him not to worry. He explained that there would be plenty of time for socializing with them after dinner. James wondered if that was really true given Harry’s recent episodes and their increasing frequency.
Long before the adults got up from the dinner table the younger kids ran back off to continue their qudditch game. Nearly an hour later, Fiona walked to the adult table in a hurry.
“Dad, we need you,” Fiona said catching her breath.
“What is it?” James said as he stood up quickly.
“We need you to play seeker,” Fiona said.
“Seeker?” James asked as he relaxed. “Is that all you wanted? I thought someone was hurt.”
“That’s why we need you,” Fiona said as she took his hand and tried to nudge him in the direction of the game. “Archie Longbottom ran into a tree while he was chasing the snitch.”
“Is he alright?” Olivia asked.
“He just had the wind knocked out of him,” Fiona explained. “He’ll be fine, but we don’t have a seeker now. Come on.”
“Don’t tell me you don’t have someone among all of those kids who is willing to do it,” James said.
“We need someone who can actually catch the snitch,” Fiona said as she continued to tug on her dad’s hand.
“Go on, James,” Charles said. “We all know you still haven’t gotten quidditch out of your system yet.”
James smiled as he set off at a run behind Fiona toward the paddock. Harry stood slowly and said he didn’t want to miss it. By the time Harry, Charles, Ann, Olivia, and the others had made it around the hedge, James was already in the air on a broom. They conjured comfortable chairs and sat down to watch the match in the light from the hovering torches set in a ring around the pitch.
Twenty minutes after Harry and the others sat down to watch James’ quest for the snitch, Giselle stood away from them with her own group of friends while turning back to look at Harry occasionally. Fiona was the first to take notice.
“Are you still seeing the grim?” Fiona asked as she looked at Giselle and everyone else stopped talking to look at her as well.
“Yes,” Giselle replied. “I don’t understand why it is taking so long though. I’ve never heard of a grim waiting so long. It is just sitting there on the grass behind Harry.”
“The actual grim is there?” Michael asked.
“Yes,” Giselle answered.
“I thought you were just seeing a vision of it in his future,” Michael said.
“I was earlier,” Giselle said, “but the grim has been stalking just behind him since dinner.”
“What is it waiting for?” Sarah asked.
“Maybe Harry was right,” Remus supplied. “Maybe it has been with him since his first year at Hogwarts. Maybe he keeps it as a pet.”
Just then Giselle looked back at the grim and it turned its great head and looked straight at her. In that moment that passed as their eyes met Giselle was filled with a feeling as strong as any she had ever felt. The grim yawned and lay on the grass behind Harry as Giselle put her hand to her chest and breathed in sharply.
“What is it?” Fiona asked as Giselle looked at her with wide eyes.
“I think… No, I know that the grim is waiting because Harry wants to talk to you,” Giselle said.
“Me?” Fiona asked. “What about?”
“I don’t know,” Giselle said, “but you need to walk away from this group before it can happen. Harry wants to talk to you alone.”
“So she could stay here and keep Harry alive then,” Remus pointed out.
“I don’t think so,” Giselle said. “I think it will happen soon one way or the other.”
Fiona considered, took a deep breath, and turned to walk away from her group. She stopped at the half way point between her friends and Harry. Giselle and the others watched as Harry began to stand slowly shortly after. Several others stood with him, but sat back down after he indicated where he was going. Soon Fiona could hear the sound of his feet shuffling through the grass behind her, but she continued to look up at the broomsticks overhead. Eventually he was standing beside her.
“Quite a match isn’t it?” Harry asked.
“They do get more challenging at night even with the torches,” Fiona commented. “I’m glad dad got a chance to play. I know he misses it.”
“I know how he feels,” Harry said. “Even as old as I am I still get excited thinking about what it felt like to sit up there and wait for the chance to go speeding after the snitch.”
“Dad was so disappointed when Remus and I didn’t join the quidditch team at Hogwarts,” Fiona said.
“I hope you know that disappointment only lasted for about five minutes,” Harry said. “James has always been very proud of both of you.”
“I guess so,” Fiona said.
“I haven’t seen your husband here tonight,” Harry commented. “I thought John would be playing quidditch.”
“He was here for lunch earlier,” Fiona said, “but he had to go back to work tonight.”
“St. Mungo’s is lucky to have him,” Harry said as Fiona glanced at him for the first time. “He’s a good healer, and a good man.”
“Thank you, Harry,” Fiona said.
“You were a good healer too,” Harry supplied.
“I can be again,” Fiona said.
“I don’t think I ever told you how proud I am of you,” Harry said causing Fiona to turn to look at him. “I know some people told you that you were making a mistake when you decided to leave your job to take care of little Amelia full time, but I think it took a great deal of courage to do what you did. I should have told you that then.”
“Harry…” Fiona stuttered.
“You’ve done a fine job raising Amelia so far,” Harry said. “She’s a credit to you and John.”
“Oh, Harry,” Fiona said as a tear threatened to slip from her eye, “I’m sorry that Amelia is so shy and doesn’t greet you properly.”
Harry looked at Fiona and grinned as he said, “Don’t worry about that. I wouldn’t expect anything different. It isn’t easy for young people to relate to someone as old as I am.”
“I’m ashamed not to have set a better example for her,” Fiona said as she realized this was the most sincere conversation she ever had with Harry.
“It also isn’t easy for a young person to grow up in a house where my every achievement is held up by the adults as some impossible tale of heroism,” Harry said with a knowing grin as he reached out and took Fiona’s hand in his. “I wish I could have spared you that. I wish we had been given more time to have a more meaningful relationship.”
“I’ll make that effort from now on,” Fiona vowed.
“I would like that,” Harry said, “but no matter what happens I have only one request of you.”
“What is it?” Fiona asked.
“Never be afraid to follow your heart,” Harry said. “Even if others criticize you for it the way they did when you left your job, follow your heart. Your heart will never lead you astray. I’ve tried to follow that advice in my adult life, and I stand before you as a man who is truly blessed.”
Remus stood watching his sister as she chatted with Harry. His attention was only drawn away as a hand closed onto his upper arm. Turning to look he saw Giselle looking at him as if she were seeing through him entirely. He shivered involuntarily.
“Now you have to speak with him, Remus,” Giselle said.
“I don’t have to do anything,” Remus replied, “but I will sacrifice if necessary to save Fiona from having to talk to him any more.”
As Remus walked closer to where Harry and Fiona were standing, he could see that they were holding hands and looking directly at one another as they spoke. It wasn’t until he got closer that he witnessed Fiona actually move closer and hug Harry tightly. She had just broken the hug as Remus stopped on the grass behind her.
“Sarah needs you, Fiona,” Remus said thinking it was as good an excuse as any other. “She’s going to go and check on the kids. You should check on Amelia. It’s getting late.”
“I’m talking to Harry,” Fiona pointed out.
“That may be,” Remus said, “but Giselle says I need to talk to him now.”
“Oh,” Fiona said with understanding as she turned back to Harry. “I had better go now.”
“I understand,” Harry said with a smile. “We’ll talk again soon.”
Fiona gasped before she could stop herself as she stepped back and forced herself to turn around as she walked off. Harry and Remus watched her until she was nearly back to her original group.
“So, Giselle sent you to talk to me,” Harry observed. “Is there something you’re supposed to tell me?”
“You tell me,” Remus said.
“The grim again I would guess,” Harry said with a grin. “I’d rather not hear about that. I’d rather hear about how you’ve been.”
“Really?” Remus asked flatly. “I’ve been doing just fine if you must know.”
“Still at the Prophet?” Harry asked.
“Yes,” Remus answered shortly.
“I’m glad you were able to get a job doing something you love to do,” Harry said.
“Something I love to do?” Remus asked. “What makes you think I love working at the Prophet?”
“Well, you were always interested in writing when you were young,” Harry explained. “Your articles that I’ve read are certainly better written than most of the others.”
“So you’re a literary critic among all of your other talents?” Remus asked.
“I lay claim to very few talents as it is,” Harry said with a chuckle. “I know that you used to talk about writing a novel.”
“I was young then,” Remus said. “When I got older I realized that I had to have a job that would pay the bills. I could write well enough to get a job at the Prophet. Novels have to be written in a reporter’s spare time.”
“So, you do still want to write a book,” Harry observed. “I guess your articles don’t allow you the opportunity to flex your creativity the way you would like.”
“It isn’t easy to wax poetic while reporting on the dry statistics that come out of the Ministry,” Remus said, grinning in spite of himself.
“Don’t give up on your dream, Remus,” Harry said as Remus turned to look at him for the first time. “Never give up on it. If writing a novel is what you want to do then keep working on it with whatever time you have. Even if it takes you twenty years to finish it you shouldn’t give up. Don’t stop until you feel satisfied that you’ve achieved everything you wanted to.”
Remus studied Harry for several seconds before he asked, “Is that what you did? Did your dream come true?”
“Oh yes,” Harry replied with a smile. “It certainly did. It started so long ago. I was still at Hogwarts. I’ve been blessed to this day with the fulfillment of my dream.”
“I guess it was defeating Voldemort and becoming so famous,” Remus said as Harry looked at him and chuckled.
“Lord, no,” Harry said. “Those are just the burdens I’ve had to contend with. I’m only sorry that I had to live so long before I became irrelevant.”
“Irrelevant?” Remus asked. “I wouldn’t say that.”
“Of course you would,” Harry said with a good natured smile. “Take a look at all of the young people flying around on their brooms up there. There isn’t one of them aside from James that has the slightest interest in this scar on my forehead or my battles with the wizard who gave it to me. Why should they? All of that is far removed from the realities of their own existence. The only time they’re likely to hear about it at all is in their seventh year History of Magic class on the last couple of days of class. I’m sure you remember how many people are actually paying attention in that class with the end of school so near.”
“Maybe one,” Remus admitted.
“I know that most of the people in your generation feel the same way,” Harry said. “I’m just shocked that it took so long before people started feeling that way. Do you know that they put my picture on one of the cards in the chocolate frog package the year after I defeated Voldemort? They went crazy with it. It averaged out to about one of my cards to every ten chocolate frog packages. I got so sick of opening a package up and seeing my own face that I stopped eating the things. I don’t know how everyone else kept the whole ‘Chosen One’ campaign going.”
Remus looked thoughtfully at Harry before asking, “So what was it? If being the Chosen One wasn’t your dream then what was?”
“You,” Harry responded as a surprised expression washed over Remus’ face.
“Me?” Remus asked.
“Well… not you exclusively,” Harry clarified. “All of you are my dream. Growing up without my parents the way I did left me with only the Dursley’s as an example of what a family was like. Then I met the Weasleys. I never knew that a family could be so loving and fulfilling. From that point on I wished for a family like that of my own. Marrying Ginny was the first step in making that dream a reality. Little Amelia is likely the last part of the dream I’ll live to see. All of you in between have brought a joy to me that I couldn’t explain to you in words.”
Fiona looked back at Giselle after hearing her gasp, and asked, “What is it?”
“The grim,” Giselle said as a tear slipped from her eye. “It’s walking closer to Harry now. Oh my God, Fiona. I can’t do anything to stop it. Harry is about to die. We’re going to see it happen.”
“Turn away from it, Giselle,” Fiona urged as tears sprang to her own eyes. “Don’t watch it. You’re the only one who can see the grim.”
“Well that isn’t a good sign,” Harry commented.
“What?” Remus asked as he noticed Harry glancing back at where Fiona and the others were standing.
“Fiona and Giselle are crying,” Harry pointed out. “The grim must be close.”
“I don’t see how you can be so calm about that,” Remus said. “Maybe you don’t have much faith in the visions of a seer, but Fiona was right. Giselle is never wrong.”
“I have complete faith that Giselle’s visions are entirely accurate,” Harry said as a questioning look of confusion crept onto Remus’ face. “The grim is a companion I’ve left unattended for more years than I care to think about.”
“I guess my dad was right,” Remus said as he looked at Harry more clearly than he ever had. “He always said you had nerves of iron when you faced Voldemort.”
“Don’t believe it for a second,” Harry said with a chuckle and a dismissing wave of his hand. “I was more terrified than I had ever been before.”
“Are you afraid now?” Remus asked.
“Not really,” Harry replied as he looked up and saw James descending toward him. “I don’t know if I can fully explain why though. I feel comforted right now. It’s as if I’m wrapped in a blanket of happiness. I’m thinking of reunions long awaited and long overdue, though I wish more than anything to have a chance to stay and watch Amelia grow up. I would like to see you on your wedding day. I really wish I had time to stay and read your novel.”
“I wish I had bothered to take the time sooner to understand you the way I have tonight,” Remus said.
Giselle chanced a look in Harry’s direction again just as she noticed several misty figures materialize and walk over closer to where Harry stood. The grim was sitting on the grass waiting as the figures walked up beside it. A smile of clarity spread over her face as she watched one of the figures place a hand on the grim’s head and pet it.
“What is it now?” Michael asked. “Why are you smiling?”
“She’s here,” Giselle said softly.
“Who?” Sarah asked.
“Ginny,” Giselle replied not taking her eyes from the scene around Harry. “Harry’s Ginny is standing beside the grim. Ron and Hermione are there with her. Arthur and Molly are there, and there are two others that I don’t… wait. I think Harry’s parents are with him as well.”
“Mum is walking toward Harry,” Fiona observed. “Maybe we should all get closer too.”
Olivia arrived near Harry at about the same time as Fiona, Giselle, Michael and Sarah. Just before they got there, James landed right beside Harry and dismounted his broom looking a bit stiff.
“That’s enough for me I’m afraid,” James said as he tried to stretch a pain out of his back. “I can’t stay on one of these as long as I used to.”
“But now we don’t have a seeker up there,” Fiona complained.
“I don’t know that it really matters,” James said with a smile trying to catch his breath. “I doubt anyone will have a chance to catch it until morning anyway. Maybe Archie is ready to step back in.”
“Doubtful,” Olivia said. “He must have hit that tree fairly hard. He’s been complaining about seeing double.”
“Michael…” Fiona said as she turned to him.
“Don’t even think about it,” Sarah warned him. “We’re trying to have another baby. The healers told you no more brooms until afterwards.”
“Yes, dear,” Michael said seeming very disappointed.
Then it happened. Everyone’s heads whipped around as they heard the unmistakable sound of wings flapping rapidly nearby. The snitch hovered in front of them for fractions of a second before it rocketed off across the paddock. James’ mind didn’t catch up to what was happening until too late. In a swift motion, Harry snatched the broom from James’ hand, mounted it and sped off after the snitch before his cane even hit the ground.
Anyone who had still been seated before was on their feet soon after Harry took to the air. Everyone was so stunned that they couldn’t even bring themselves to voice their concern over the winces and gasps that they let escape at every twist and turn that Harry made. They all held a collective breath as the snitch shot upward and Harry pulled into a vertical climb to match it. All of the other players pulled their brooms to a hover position and watched Harry in surprise. Even Vicky Thomas, the seeker for the other team, stopped to watch him for several seconds in wonder. Only a few seconds passed before she realized what he was doing. She pulled her broom over into a dive even as she watched Harry already into his steep dive.
Harry leveled out a meter above the grass as he reached out his hand in front of him. Vicky was willing all of the speed out of her broom that she could, but she could see that her chances of overtaking Harry before he took a grab at the snitch were slim at best. She could only hope that he would miss time the grab or the snitch would change direction suddenly.
Harry turned his broom back toward where James stood even as the rest of the players started their decent. He held onto the broom tightly with one hand, but he held tighter to the snitch in the other. Slowing his speed as he neared where the group was gathered, Harry dropped slightly and touched a foot to the ground. Having caught a toe in a small hole, he proceeded to tumble end over end onto the grass as he let go of the broom. When Harry finally came to rest a large group of people rushed to surround him.
“Harry!” James exclaimed as he knelt down next to his hero. “Oh, God. Harry, are you…”
“That was so wicked,” Harry said with a wide smile as he opened his eyes. “I had forgotten how much I loved flying.”
“It was a damned fool thing to do,” Olivia pointed out.
“Probably not the smartest thing I could have done,” Harry agreed. “I couldn’t help myself though. I didn’t think about it. As soon as I saw the snitch I just acted on instinct.”
“You did catch it, right?” Remus asked. “I did see that for real.”
Harry held up his hand and placed the snitch into Remus’ palm just as Ginny pushed her way through the crowd to kneel down beside Harry.
“Are you hurt, Harry?” Ginny asked with concern.
“I think I might wake up a bit more sore than usual tomorrow,” Harry replied with a grin. “You’ll have to ask Fiona if there will be any lasting damage.”
Ginny looked up to see Fiona already running her wand over Harry muttering diagnostic spells. Seconds later Fiona dropped her wand to her side.
“I don’t know how,” Fiona said, “but you don’t seem to have any serious injuries from your questionable landing. No more flying for you though. You need to rest.”
“I concur, Doctor,” Harry agreed. “Well, is anyone going to help me up?”
James and Will stood to either side of Harry and helped him to stand. Emily handed Harry his cane, and Ginny put her arm through Harry’s to escort him back to the house.
Most of those present broke into smaller groups and discussed their perspectives on what they had just seen Harry do. A small contingent of adults escorted Harry to the house. Fiona, Remus, Michael and Sarah followed Giselle as she trailed a respectable distance behind Harry’s group.
“I don’t see you with a stunned expression very often, Giselle,” Fiona said. “What are you seeing?”
“There are more of them,” Giselle replied. “They keep coming.”
“What are you talking about?” Remus asked.
“There are spirits of Harry’s friends and family that were standing with the grim,” Sarah informed him.
“Who is here now?” Fiona asked.
“I don’t know all of them,” Giselle admitted. “I recognize some of them from pictures. I think all of Arthur and Molly’s kids are here. That must be Remus Lupin and his wife Tonks. I remember hearing a story about that pink hair. Wow. Hagrid really was huge. I think that must be Harry‘s kids walking beside Ginny.”
“If this keeps up the dead people are going to outnumber the living ones,” Michael observed.
Several adults accompanied Harry into the house, but most remained downstairs as James, Olivia, Will, Emily and Ginny escorted Harry to a bedroom where he could sleep for the night. From Giselle’s perspective, the only spirits that went inside with Harry were Ginny and his parents. The rest of the spirits remained just outside the house waiting as more and more of their number kept arriving.
“I wish I could see what you’re seeing, Giselle,” Sarah said. “It must be tremendous.”
“It is,” Giselle confirmed. “I can’t believe this is happening. There isn’t a documented case anywhere of a seer witnessing anything close to this. I keep having to remind myself that all of this is foreshadowing a really terrible event. Harry may be dying as we speak.”
“That isn’t the way Harry looks at it,” Remus said.
“What do you mean?” Fiona asked. “What did you two talk about?”
“Harry is looking forward to being reunited with his family and friends that passed before him,” Remus replied. “I don’t know if he was expecting everyone that Giselle sees to be here, but he was at least hoping Ginny would be I think.”
Everyone tensed as they heard the door to the house open. Their chests tightened when they saw little Ginny run from the house in tears. All of the adults followed from the house and tried to comfort the little girl. Giselle walked closer to them followed by her friends.
“Don’t worry, Ginny,” Jake Potter said soothingly. “If my granddad died every time someone thought he would I never would have been born.”
“That’s true, Ginny,” Charles said. “He’s a fighter. He always makes it through.”
Ginny continued to sob as she looked up at Giselle and said, “Tell them. If you see the grim then Harry is going to die soon.”
“I’m afraid so,” Giselle said, shocking most of the adults.
“Seeing a grim in his future doesn’t necessarily mean…” Olivia began.
“There’s more, mum,” Fiona interrupted softly as tears rolled down her cheeks. “The grim isn’t the only one here.”
“What?” James asked. “What does that mean?”
“It means that there are spirits of people from Harry’s past hanging out all around us right now,” Remus said as they all looked around them as if they might be able to see.
“But the grim is going to kill Harry!” Ginny sobbed into her mum’s sleeve.
“The grim will not kill Harry,” a voice said as only Giselle turned to look at the wizard standing behind her.
“Professor Dumbledore?” Giselle asked.
“Indeed,” Dumbledore confirmed as everyone watched Giselle looking off into the night. “In fact, you can tell Ginny that the grim isn’t even here.”
“Not even here?” Giselle asked. “I’ve seen it myself.”
“If you take another look I think you will find that not to be the case,” Dumbledore said.
Giselle looked at the grim as it walked up beside Dumbledore and then… began changing. Seconds later, Giselle recognized the man standing before her.
Giselle kneeled down on the grass beside Ginny and said, “I was wrong, Ginny. I’ve just seen it. It was Sirius Black the whole time.”
“I didn’t intend to upset anyone,” Sirius said with a gentle smile. “I just thought Harry would have a laugh if he saw me. He would have realized it was me.”
“He was just playing a joke on Harry, Ginny,” Giselle explained.
“Harry is still going to die though,” Ginny sobbed. “He was the only… person who… didn’t talk to me like I was a little kid. I don’t want him to go.”
“None of us do, Gin,” Will said soothingly. “There are things in this world beyond our control. If anything does happen to Harry, you should just think about the time you spent with him today. I don’t know if you can even realize how much Harry enjoyed spending time with you.”
“I truly did,” Harry said as Giselle looked around and gasped as she placed her hand over her mouth in surprise.
“What is it, Giselle?” Fiona asked as she watched tears roll down Giselle’s cheeks.
Giselle took her hand away only long enough to say, “It’s, Harry.”
At that moment, the breath of those present left their bodies momentarily as the meaning of Giselle’s reply filled their heads. After the brief moment of paralysis, Olivia buried her head in James’ shoulder, Ginny jumped into her dad’s arms and held tightly to him, and everyone began wiping tears from their eyes.
“I wish everyone would stop crying,” Harry said as he waited for Giselle to calm herself enough to pass what he was saying on to everyone else. “I lived a very long and happy life thanks to all of you. Obviously this is not the last time we will see each other. I promise that none of you will pass over to this side without me there waiting for you. I love you all.”
Giselle finished passing on Harry’s message, and she looked around to see Harry gliding over the grass away from them as he held Ginny’s hand and the other spirits began to gather around him. Slowly, Harry and his fellow spirits faded away as if they were walking into an invisible mist. Giselle watched them until she could see them no more.
Shortly after Harry’s departure, the process began for notifying all of the Potters and Weasleys that could not come to the party of the sad news. Remus comforted his family for a time before apparating to The Daily Prophet. The article he wrote that night appeared in the Prophet the next morning, though Remus was angry about the attention it was given. The article was on the front page as he thought it should be, but it was a small headline on the lower half of the page with only two short paragraphs following it. The remainder of the article continued on page seven. The main headline given the most prominence that day read, ‘Harpies End Cannons Undefeated Run.” Remus was furious, but he realized that Harry likely would have preferred it that way.
Harry’s funeral was well attended by friends and family. Charles, Jake and James spoke at the funeral as everyone expected, but everyone was especially moved as Remus and Fiona spoke about what they had learned from Harry on that final night. Ginny and Amelia, unable to control their tears, laid roses on Harry’s coffin.
The aurors at the Ministry petitioned for a statue of Harry to be erected in the main atrium of the Ministry. The Minister of Magic denied their request.
That same day, a good portion of the Potter and Weasley families sat in a large meeting room inside Gringotts and listened as Harry’s will was read to them. After all of the generous monetary allocations had been announced, the will went on to bestow a few personal gifts. James and Olivia were given Harry’s house. To Will Weasley Harry left an amazingly well preserved collection of some of the first novelties ever created by the original Fred and George for sale in their shop. To Charles, Jake and his other seven grandsons, Harry left nine rememberals so that they may never forget the most important things in life. To Ginny Weasley he left a golden locket with his wedding picture inside that he had given to his wife on their first anniversary. With it she was to remember that dreams are reality waiting to happen.
Just over a year after Harry was laid to rest, Remus walked into the cemetery and sat down on the grass beside Harry’s grave. In his hand he held a freshly printed book.
“I’ve done it, Harry,” Remus said. “I’ve written my first novel. I hope you don’t mind. I know you were tired of the fame of being ‘The Chosen One’, but I’ve written it about you. I titled it ‘Harry Potter, The Man Behind the Legend’. This was the first copy to be printed. I’d like to read some of it to you now. I hope you like it.”
Remus opened the book to the first page and began reading. He continued until he came to the end of the first chapter. After a pause to wipe tears from his eyes, Remus closed the book and laid it against Harry’s headstone.
Standing, Remus brushed the grass from his pants as he looked at the grave and said, “I’ll let you finish the rest on your own, Harry. Thank you, Harry. I love you.”
Remus turned around and began walking away quickly as fresh tears began pooling in his eyes. Not looking back, he never saw the book shimmer momentarily before completely disappearing.