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Harry Potter and the Time of Second Chances by Neville James
Chapter 24 : The Dark Sisters
 
Rating: 12+Chapter Reviews: 11


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A/N Hey everyone. So sorry about the long wait, but here it is. I've made it too long again so it's been cut in half. I'm posting this now, and I'll have the other half(chap 25) up tomorrow. Hope you enjoying it, and please review both if you get the chance. Take care and happy Valentines to everyone on Monday. Kyle : D


Chapter 24: The Dark Sisters


Another prophecy. Harry simply watched the Ravenclaw seated in front of him with what appeared to be calm eyes. Inside his head however, confused and severely angry thoughts swarmed madly about, trying their best to find the quickest way out. Neville also appeared to be dazed by this new information and simply sat wide eyed as he looked back and forth between the giver of the prophecy and the one it concerned.

The Headmaster smiled softly as he watched Luna eat her lemon drop and search around the room with her wide dreamy eyes. Harry now realised that Dumbledore had expected something of the sort and could feel the anger within him start to take control.

‘You knew!’ he shouted, and stood up from his seat to point accusingly at the old wizard.

‘I’m afraid I did not Harry, but I am simply unsurprised by this turn of events,’ Dumbledore said seriously in response.

‘I don’t understand,’ Neville interjected at that point. ‘How could there be another prophecy pertaining to Harry? We saw the shelf at the Department of Mysteries and the only one with his name on it was the one I shattered.’

‘That is true Mister Longbottom, however I do still believe this to be a true prophecy. You do bring up a valid point in that there are no other prophecies at the Ministry involving Harry. I myself have looked into it since last year’s troubles.’

‘Then how can it possibly be real?’ Harry asked irritably, still standing and beginning to pace back and forth.

‘I believe the only possible explanation would be for the prophecy to be older than the Ministry of Magic’s records,’ the Headmaster replied simply, eliciting rather confused expressions from both boys.

‘But we just watched Luna give the prophecy not five minutes ago,’ Neville stated plainly.

At this point Luna gave up trying to find something interesting to focus on and turned her attention to Neville.

‘I already told you that I’ve been dreaming about that for nearly two months now. Ever since Harry first disappeared,’ she explained casually. ‘A nice change from the dreams of mine and dad’s expeditions really.’

Harry’s eyes widened at hearing this and his mind began to think about something from the past.

‘Even so,’ Neville persisted, ‘that would make the prophecy two months old at best.’

‘No, you misunderstand me. It’s not my prophecy,’ Luna told him as she reached for another lemon drop from the desk top in front of her.

‘Then whose is it?’ Neville asked exasperated.

‘Ravenclaws,’ Harry answered for her.

‘That’s precisely what I believe Harry,’ Dumbledore said now with a wide smile. ‘How did you know?’

‘It makes sense. She first started getting the dreams when I disappeared and she is the heir to Rowena. It’s the best idea we have as to where an ancient prophecy might have come from. I doubt it’s any coincidence that Luna is the vessel.’

‘Very well. I believe that is enough for one evening’s meeting. Perhaps you should all get a good night’s sleep and we can meet again next week to discuss any further developments. If you could all please keep this information to yourselves it may prove beneficial in the future.’

All three students nodded and they started toward the door when Neville was called back.

‘If you could remain for a moment Mister Longbottom, there is something I would like to discuss.’

*


Lying on his bed, Harry thought about all he had learned in the last half hour. He had intended to tell Neville of his affiliation with Godric Gryffindor, and instead he met a third heir to the founders who informed him of yet another prophecy pertaining to both he and the Dark Lord. Why was this happening?

He continued to think about all the possible outcomes to his inevitable duel with Voldemort when he heard the dormitory door open again and someone creep in. After a few moments of silence, Neville made his presence known.

‘Harry? Are you still awake?’

Harry considered staying quiet and letting the boy think he was asleep but decided that perhaps he needed someone to speak with, as he too had just learned something possible life-altering. Then of course there was whatever Dumbledore had kept him back to speak about.

‘Did you need something Neville?’ Harry asked and pulled the thick red curtains away from his four-poster.

‘I was actually wondering the same thing,’ he said and took a seat on the edge of Harry’s bed. ‘Are you alright? I mean that is a lot of information.’

Harry was surprised by how undisturbed Neville was at learning he was Gryffindor’s heir, but shrugged it off and tried to focus on his own problems for the time being.

‘I’ve been better, but I won’t lie and say everything will be alright. I’m really not sure anymore Neville. Everyone assumes that I’ll always be there to save the day, or that no matter what happens Harry will surely win. How will they all feel when they find out that the boy-who-lived has to be either the boy-who-died or the boy-who-murdered? What then? Hermione and Ron don’t even know about the old prophecy or that I’m Slytherin’s heir. I don’t think I could stand losing them.’

Neville stayed quiet for a while and simply watched Harry in thought as the dark-haired boy leaned his back against his headboard and dropped his head into his hands with a sigh.

‘I can’t really speak for anyone else, but I know who you are and I’m still your friend. You could be Voldemort’s heir for all I care Harry, because no matter what you do, I know that you’ve always been there for me and I promise I’ll always do the same. It’s what friends do, and I’m sure that Ron and Hermione will both agree with me.’

‘Thanks Neville, but I don’t think it will be the same. I’ve been lying to them for so long now, and you know how Hermione is. We just got over the last fight and I don’t think she’d ever forgive after this,’ Harry said and dropped his head into his hands again.

‘Well, look on the bright side. You’re not lying to anyone anymore. Dumbledore specifically said that we were not to tell anyone about our meeting so we had better keep quiet about it,’ the blond boy said with a grin.

Harry looked up and smiled back too, unable to keep a chuckle away as Neville tried to be optimistic in such a ridiculous time.

‘I only wish we could have known for certain if the prophecy had come from Ravenclaw,’ Neville added as he stood up to go over to his bed. ‘You would think that the cleverest of the four Founders would have left some record of her Sight.’

Harry’s head nearly exploded as Neville said this. How could he have been such an idiot! He quickly jumped out of bed and rushed to the foot of his bed and his trunk. Flipping it open, Harry ignored Neville’s questions, and he rifled through the loose pieces of parchment and other things stored away. Finally he pulled out a large stack of very aged parchments and laid them out on his bed in four piles.

Neville watched curiously as Harry quickly scanned the top-most articles from each pile until finally standing up from his bed in excitement with a roll of parchment tightly clasped in his hand.

‘What is it?’ Neville asked, still oblivious to what his roommate was doing.

‘The answer we’ve been looking for,’ Harry answered with a grin and tossed the rolled up parchment across the room to him.

Neville immediately unrolled Harry’s mystery answer and found to his surprise the very prophecy he had just heard Luna tell written in very neat writing across the parchment.

‘Where did you get this?’ he asked in amazement.

‘Off of Ravenclaw’s personal office desk,’ Harry answered with a grin and laughed at the dumbfounded expression on Neville’s face.

‘You’re joking!’

‘Nope. That’s the room I found out about you and I being heirs. I figured I’d never find it again so I took a few things for later. Good choice I think,’ Harry said with a nod.

‘Yeah. I think so, Neville added and soon the pair was laughing again.

That night, Harry tried to clear his mind before going to bed, but found it nearly impossible with all the new thoughts streaming through his over stimulated mind. He first thought about what Neville had told him; Lupin was back. While he had been speaking with Dumbledore, Remus had arrived and after the initial shock he had invited James and Sirius to spend the night in his quarters. Harry would very much like to have gone, but given the lost time between the friends, he decided to give them a night alone to catch up.

Harry then wondered about his mother. How had her visit to the Dursleys gone, and what would Dudley have to say the next time Harry saw him? Hopefully he and Lily would get on alright and Dudley would understand what it was Harry had lost. Suddenly he wondered if Aunt Petunia would ever invite James to their home so that Dudley might meet his uncle.

Next, Harry’s thoughts turned to the newest prophecy. What had it all meant? He had only heard it the one time, but that was surely enough for it to stay with him until the day he died, and hopefully that would be a long time away. He had stared at Ravenclaw’s writing for nearly an hour after Neville had gone to sleep, and other than the brief interruption from Ron going to bed after performing his nightly Prefect’s patrol, Harry had thought only of deciphering the message. It appeared to be a three part prophecy, one part already having been fulfilled.


With the power of a flower’s magic, the chosen one shall rise and the Dark Lord shall fall.


At least the first line was clear as it had presumably already take place. He was obviously the chosen one, and he had been selected the night the Dark Lord fell; his scar proved it. A flower’s magic was undoubtedly referring to the charm cast by Lily’s love. Harry was irked to understand that his parents’ death and his being chosen were foreseen nearly a thousand years before.


At the hand of the protected child, and with aid from the flower’s equal, the Dark Lord shall be crippled once more.


The second line was not nearly as clear in its meaning. Harry gathered that he was the protected child and that Voldemort would be crippled at his hand again, however he was to have help from someone or something known as the flower’s equal. What could that be? What was Lily’s equal? Frustrated, he had moved on to the last and most important bit of writing.


When the power of love stands no more as a barrier, it will take not flowers, but the power of three to vanquish the darkness forever.’


For some reason or another love would no longer protect him. He already knew that, as his blood now filled Voldemort’s veins. He grimaced at the thought of the monster being alive because of him. No longer being protected by his mother or aunt’s blood, it would now take the power of three to finally defeat the Dark Lord. This was of course assuming that the darkness spoken of was indeed Voldemort. While the news of his defeat was uplifting, it was thoroughly discouraging to see that he would have to first cripple Voldemort before finally being through with him. That plainly meant another encounter, and possibly another emotionally taxing death should anyone get in the Dark Lord’s path to him.

That simply would not do. Harry would do everything in his power to avoid close proximity to Voldemort. He could not very well cripple him if he was nowhere near him. Perhaps the prophecy would be wrong, and by staying away, Harry could prove this. Letting his mind finally drift to sleep, Harry thought bitterly of all the fun he would have trying to evade the Dark Lord.

He found himself once again flying his Firebolt high around the Quidditch pitch, no one else around him. The sun was shining brightly in a nearly cloudless sky, and warmth he had not felt in several months shone down onto his face making him smile. Harry was unsure of why he was flying, but in this weather who needed a reason? He continued to fly around aimlessly, looking fondly up at the castle and even smiling at how serenely the treetops swayed in the far-reaching Forbidden Forest.

Finally, the inevitable occurred and Harry’s leisure flight ended as a bright green glow from the forest’s edge piqued his curiosity. Harry dismounted his broom and let it fall to the leaf-littered pitch as he wandered to the closest wall of branches. Pulling the thick brush out of his way, Harry stepped into the forest and soon regretted his inability to make good choices.

Unlike Harry’s last nightmare, he was not in a lavish black marble room lit by flickering green torches, but rather the familiar and sour-smelling cave he had frequented before his slightly extended trip through time. This time however, as Harry clung to the cave wall as was usual, he found one thing to be similar to his last nightmare: a Death Eater meeting.

Dozens of robed figured were gathered in the large stone room, each of their eyes turned to face their master in the center of the room. Harry took one look at Voldemort’s skull-like face and found himself wishing for the more youthful and human-looking man called Tom Riddle. Voldemort stood tall in the center of the cave with his wand pointed down at what Harry assumed would be Death Eaters being punished. As the Cruciatus curse left his nearly non-existent lips, Harry’s suspicions were confirmed and he stepped closer to the ring of followers to see who had upset Voldemort so.

‘You insolent fools!’ Harry heard the nasally voice that sent chills down his spine. ‘Crucio!’

Stepping closer, Harry pushed his way through the crowd to see three lone figures standing together at the inner edge, and closest to Voldemort. On the ground lay the body of MacNair and Harry felt little sympathy for the would-be murderer of Buckbeak. Next to his lifeless body, Harry found four others all writhing in pain as they were subjected to the Cruciatus.

It was another ten minutes before the torment was ended and the followers were asked to stand. Three of the four had difficulty complying but the fourth got directly to his feet and stood proudly, though Harry could hear wheezing from across the circle.

‘It sickens me that I am forced to waste my time to help idiots such as yourselves, only so that you in turn can fail once again in aiding me. I will tell you all right now that this is your final warning. If ever you fail me again, you will join your comrade,’ he spat in the direction of Macnair’s fallen corpse.

Harry watched as all four followers bowed low and stated their understanding out of pure fear for their lives.

‘It should not be difficult for you to accomplish the tasks I now set for you, as they will no longer be of such high caliber as before. While a relief to some of you, I am certain that this will displease one among you,’ Voldemort continued with a malicious grin.

Harry could practically see the relief flood from three of the followers as their bodies untensed, but the fourth and tallest of them all had now gone rigid and Harry wondered who it could be.

‘You have displeased me most of all,’ Voldemort spoke to this person now. ‘I hoped that perhaps leaving you to rot away would be the perfect punishment, but certain persons allowed me to understand how ineffective it would actually be to you. Instead, you will now continue to do my bidding and you will know that you are being watched and how very much you have proven to be a disappointment.’

As Voldemort’s berating of this follower continued, Harry became more and more intrigued as to his identity.

‘In your absence I have found, as I have twice before, that your wife is a far more loyal and capable follower than you have ever been. Take off your mask and look at her. You will get on your knees and you will bow to her now.’

Harry watched with interest as the Death eater lifted a pale hand to pull back his hood and gasped when the pointed face of Lucius Malfoy appeared. His usual sleek hair was filthy and knotted, and his generally strong featured and proud face was gaunt and tired, but it was undoubtedly him. Harry stared in disbelief as the proud man walked toward the three figures closest to Voldemort and dropped to his knees in front of the center-most follower.

‘Very good Malfoy,’ Voldemort sneered and nodded at the three figures next to him. ‘Narcissa has proven herself to be quite useful, as I should have realised, what with Bella being such a loyal follower.’

At this all three followers removed their hoods to glare down triumphantly at the kneeling man in front of them. Harry nearly shouted when he found Professor Black standing next to Narcissa and Bellatrix.

‘It would appear that much of your competence came from her, don’t you agree?’ Voldemort asked scathingly. ‘Your efforts were perhaps the woman behind the man all along. It happened with Rodolphus and Regulus, so why not you? It appears that all of the Black women were simply born to be better than their husbands.’

Harry was not completely certain but he thought for a moment he saw Lucius Malfoy wince at the harsh words and almost, but not quite, felt bad for him. What happened next caught Harry completely off guard. Lucius dropped lower and grabbed the hems of his wife’s robes to beg. He began pleading with her to forgive him while the Dark Lord watched with pleasure; this was exactly what he had been hoping to see.

At this point Harry started to shake his head in disgust. He now understood that Malfoy was not hurt in any way, but simply showing the Dark Lord exactly what he wanted to see. Lucius was not a stupid man, and he knew when he was beat.

‘Get off me you filthy excuse for a husband!’ Narcissa cried in a surprisingly strong voice. ‘You have failed our master and disgraced me. You speak of nothing but honour, when you can hardly be called honourable yourself. It disgusts me to be called Malfoy and I am certain that my son will soon feel the same way. I regret ever giving up the most noble and ancient name of Black.’

Harry then watched in surprise as she lifted her wand, slashed it down forcefully, and shouted ‘Crucio!’

He hated to admit it, but standing next to Professor Black and Bellatrix Lestrange, the admittedly attractive Narcissa Malfoy had a very strong presence he had not noticed before. He had always assumed she had been the silly girl to marry Malfoy for his money, but perhaps Voldemort was correct in assuming she was the mind behind the Malfoy.
Standing together, the three Black women were a highly intimidating trio.

The curse was soon lifted and Malfoy’s tormented screams were cut short.

‘Very good my dear,’ Voldemort gave her what must have been his version of a smile before glaring coldly down at Lucius’ heavily gasping form.

‘You will be getting your orders from Narcissa now as it would be ridiculous for you to waste my time at every gathering. You three will receive your orders from Bella and Hyacinth. Do not come out of hiding but for your work, else something tragic might happen,’ he threatened in as low a voice as was possible. ‘Now get out of my face.’

All four of the escapees bowed once again and finally disapparated without another word. Harry could not believe what he had just witnessed, but he tried to focus as there appeared to be more yet.

‘You may all go, save for you my dears, and the two of you,’ he said as he pointed to two more Death Eaters standing nearby.

One of the two additional followers to stay was short, plump and twitchy, obviously indicating Wormtail, but the other remained silent and stood a good foot and a half taller. The instant they began walking nearer to the Dark Lord to take their places next to the three women, Harry knew who it was. He had witnessed and feared that walk for nearly six years now, and as Snape lowered his hood, Harry’s suspicion was confirmed.

‘Wormtail has informed me that Hogwarts has recently acquired some rather interesting guests,’ the Dark Lord began.

‘Y-yes my Lord,’ Wormtail cowered, ‘I saw them with m-my own eyes in the Great Hall of the Castle. B-both James and Lily P-potter are somehow alive, b-but they’re no m-more than sixth years, m-my Lord.’

‘Both Professors Snape and Black have confirmed this,’ Voldemort went on now with narrowed eyes, ‘however I am uncertain as to why the Ministry does not have record of it. Bella and Narcissa will investigate the Ministry and ask our reliable friend why they missed such a large occurrence.’

He then turned to face Professor Black and asked if their friend at the Ministry would be sufficiently held under the Imperius curse once more, and Harry understood now that during a dream near the start of term it had been her that had cursed the prisoner chained to the cave wall; the familiar voice he had heard had been her all along.

‘Yes my Lord, Bella can handle it,’ came her reply, and Harry was disgusted to see the coy smile she gave him.

‘Good, now I expect the two of you to prove your worth at Hogwarts. I cannot let such an opportunity slip away. For the first time in years I have it within my reach to eliminate Harry Potter without ever getting near him.’

Harry’s eyes widened in shock at what he heard, but as hard as he tried to listen to the rest of the plan, he was unable as the lights started to dim and the cave setting began to fade away. The last thing he saw was Snape nod dutifully to his master.

*


The next morning Harry was seated across from Dumbledore in his office and was angrier with the man than he had ever been before. He had explained everything to him that he had seen in his dream the night before and tried to understand how the Headmaster could willingly employ a Death Eater, other than Snape, at Hogwarts. Once Harry had finished recounting his nightmare Dumbledore had done the unthinkable and sent Fawkes to call upon both Snape and Black.

Uncomfortable was not strong enough a word to describe the room’s atmosphere once the pair arrived. Dumbledore quickly explained the situation to them both while Harry tried his best to keep a strong resolve under the constant hate-filled glares he received from both parties.

At learning that Harry was accusing her of being a Death Eater, Professor Black began to laugh. Harry wanted nothing more than to hex her Death Eater grin off as she openly laughed in his face and it took all he had to keep from doing so.

‘While I may not be your favorite professor Mister Potter, I find it highly amusing and overly dramatic of you to accuse me of being a Death Eater. Just because I do not coddle you in class does not make me evil. I’ll assume that you’ve accused Dolores Umbridge of being a Death Eater as well then? And Professor McGonagall? She’s quite stern so we had better check on her as well.’

‘McGonagall is nothing like you! She is a decent human being!’ Harry jumped to his feet screaming, and was slightly surprised when Professor Black momentarily winced and looked hurt by his outburst. Was she capable of feeling?

She quickly recovered however and got to her feet, placing a hand on Snape’s chest to stop him standing first. She was now in a stance very similar to the one from his nightmare and Harry could not help but feel intimidated by the fierce looking woman.

‘I may not be what you consider a perfect human being Potter, but until you have proof of such things I warn you not to make false accusations. And that will be fifty points from Gryffindor for your little outburst. Now if you will all excuse me, I have students to torture.’

Harry watched her through narrowed eyes as she got to her feet and walked toward the door. As she passed by him he got a quick idea and grabbed the sleeve of her robes to expose her left forearm. Unfortunately for him, all he found was a perfectly clear forearm, without even the tiniest of freckles to mar its surface.

‘How dare you!’ Professor Black shouted as she pulled her sleeve from his grasp. ‘Fifty more points from Gryffindor, and if you ever touch me again,’ she started but ended with a huff. ‘Here Potter, look. Is this what you want?’ she said and lifted her other sleeve to expose a forearm as clear as the last.

Harry was dumbfounded. He had been certain that he would find the dark skull burned into her skin with a snake protruding from its mouth.

‘No. I saw you both. You were at the meeting last night, and you were standing two feet away from Lucius Malfoy while your precious sister-in-law cursed him. You and Bellatrix Lestrange,’ he nearly spat the name, ‘and Narcissa Malfoy are Voldemort’s new inner circle. The three of you stood together and looked on as though you enjoyed it, and then you and you,’ he said pointing at Snape, ‘agreed to a plan here at Hogwarts. If either of you does anything to hurt my parents or Sirius, I swear I’ll-’

‘Harry!’ Dumbledore cut him off before he could regret whatever came out of his mouth next. ‘I think that’s enough. You have seen for yourself that Professor Black is not a Death Eater. Now I must ask that you try to believe what has happened. The Dark Lord must have given you another false dream. While I hate to bring it up Harry, he has done this in the past.’

Harry glared darkly across the desk at the Headmaster. He refused to believe that this was not a real dream. Did Dumbledore honestly think him a liar or a fool; he would not fall for the same devious plan twice.

‘That’s fine Professor,’ Snape said in a cold voice. ‘If Potter wants to think that of her it’s his own will and we both know that there’s nothing that can stop him. However Potter, I suppose you are the expert on judging those marked by the Dark Lord. We are all so very dirty and evil are we not?’ he said with a glare and pointedly stared at Harry’s scar as he left the office behind Professor Black.

Sitting at breakfast that morning, Harry’s friends found it quite difficult to keep his attention. Even when they did manage to get him to look up from his meal, it was only for a split second and it always ended with him sending a glare up at the staff table. He had been consciously covering his scar with his hand all morning, never having felt more ashamed by the Dark Lord’s mark permanently etched onto his forehead.

He had been trying to think for the past twenty minutes about how Professor Black could have possibly hidden her Dark Mark. As far as he knew, it was not possible; otherwise Snape would have done away with his years ago. While he wanted to entirely dismiss Dumbledore’s suggestion, it was slightly difficult as there was no other proof to support what he had dreamed. The last time a breakout had occurred at Azkaban, the cover of the Daily Prophet had been emblazoned with the faces of the escapees. This morning’s post owls had already come and gone, and other than a howler to an unfortunate Hufflepuff boy, nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

Lily was the first one to get him to say anything and when he refused to look up at her while she spoke she gave him a smack across the face at which everyone gasped.

‘Harry James Potter!’ she said loudly enough for everyone to hear. ‘You look your mother in the eyes when she is talking to you. Do you understand me?’

Harry looked up at her with one hand holding his pink cheek and nodded his head fervently.

‘Good! Now I expect you to spend lunch with James, Sirius, Remus and I in the Room of Requirement. You lot are invited as well of course,’ she said to Hermione, Ron, Marc, Ginny and Neville, all of whom were staring in shock at the way she had managed to control Harry.

‘You’re attracting attention Lily,’ James said with a small grin while Sirius tried to suppress a laugh.

‘If that’s what it takes, I don’t care. Harry needs to snap out of whatever it is he’s so depressed about and have a good time with us while we’re here. I hate to bring it up so bluntly, but in barely any time we’ll be gone again and I doubt he wants to know that he wasted the little time he was offered. It’s not every day we get a second chance.’

That being said, Lily excused herself, telling everyone to meet after the end of their second lesson on the seventh floor and to all be in good spirits or else. Not a person argued and she was soon on her way up to the staff table where she began a conversation with her sister.

Nobody commented on what Lily had said for fear that Harry would explode in anger as he had so often done this year, but it was plain that every person at the table agreed whole-heartedly with the fiery redhead’s last comment. Harry knew that she was right as well and knew he would regret not enjoying every moment of his family’s company, but still he had difficulty simply pushing the fact that Black was a Death Eater to the back of his mind. He was not sure how yet, but as soon as the holidays were over, he would make it his mission to expose her for what she really was.

The morning lessons sped by and Harry had made sure to get to the Room of Requirement promptly so not to upset Lily in any way. He had rushed so much that he was the first to arrive; the first student at least. Upon entering the increasingly frequented Room of Requirement, Harry was pleased to find Remus already waiting at a long wooden table filled with an extremely amazing assortment of foods.

‘Remus!’ Harry shouted as he sprinted across the room and met the man in a hug. ‘How are you?’

‘Good to see you Harry. I’m glad you’re alright. I can’t believe you would do such an irresponsible thing,’ he said immediately, trying his best to show his disappointment, but failing when he saw the arched eyebrow from Harry. ‘Alright, I believe you could do it, I just thought you knew better.’

‘At least some good came of it,’ Harry tried to reason. ‘I mean, now I know what my parents were like, and Sirius is-’ he stopped when Remus’ smile faded.

‘Nothing has changed Harry. I know you must be extremely excited to see them, and of course I am too, but you have to realise that it will only be harder for you now once they’re gone.’

Harry sighed heavily.

‘I know Remus, and it’s been pointed out already today so if we could please leave it alone until the time comes I would really appreciate it. I don’t want to ruin the little time I have left.’

Remus smiled softly and nodded.

‘I had such an amazing time though. I just thought you should know,’ Harry said in an attempt to change the subject.

‘I know,’ the ex-Defense professor replied and gave a small laugh at the confused look on Harry’s face. ‘Dumbledore gave me my memories from the pensieve back. Thanks for taking care of them. You know, if you hadn’t told me, I would never have missed them.’

‘Oh,’ Harry said nodding. ‘Well, I thought you deserved to know.’

‘Well, I wanted to thank you Harry. You have no idea how much you helped me,’ the sandy-haired man said seriously.

Harry looked at him now and truly saw for the first time how healthy he appeared. While slightly run down, Remus Lupin was looking the part of a relatively normal person and Harry just did not understand why.

‘I spoke with Dumbledore, and I know what you did for me. Because of you, I was not registered at the Ministry as a werewolf Harry. I’ve not had to worry all these years about finding work or having others stare at me in disgust and fear. You have helped me more than you will ever understand. Because of you, I have a great job at the Ministry, hired by Fudge himself of course,’ he winked. ‘You are staring at the head of the part-human and wizard relations Department,’ he added now with a wide grin like Harry had never seen before. ‘Because of what you did, part-humans all throughout Britain have a representative who is one of them, thought they don’t know it,’ he added with a grin.

‘That’s amazing!’ Harry cried now, rushing forward to hug Remus again. ‘Congratulations!’

*


Two hours later, Harry found himself sitting in his first ever lesson taught by his magic-hating aunt. He had thoroughly enjoyed a fun-filled lunch with his friends and family, and then suffered through another essay-burning class with Professor Black in which she had been far more hostile than ever before. He had now learned practically all the Unforgivables in the world and was extremely disturbed at the large variance in what was acceptable in different countries. The perfect end to this day of lessons would surely be a class with Petunia.

He was sitting with James, Lily and Sirius, the four of them being the only students to not have attended a lesson with Professor Dursley. Despite his best efforts, Hermione and Ron had refused to give their opinions of her teaching style when Harry asked, and neither had joined in when he had tried to discredit her ability to teach.

The bell soon rang and the horse-faced woman strode through the doorway carrying her copy of Technology: What’s it Good For? under her arm. Once at the front of the room, she gave the class a quick once over before turning to the black board and scribbling down some notes for them all to copy. It was nearly ten minutes before she began to speak, and when she did Harry was surprised by how abnormal she sounded.

‘Televisions have been used for many years now as both a resourceful way of receiving daily news reports and a way to spend one’s leisure time. When the television was first revealed to the public, it was far from the exquisite and complex models that can be purchased in most shopping centers around the world today,’ she explained her notes to the class.

Harry did not bother taking notes as he had lived as a Muggle for eleven years and understood the theory of televisions quite well. Instead he marveled at how normal this Professor appeared in front of her class. She did not seem condescending or rude as was usual, and Harry felt as though he was listening to his aunt speak to Dudley. He was further surprised when she went on to accurately describe the various impacts technology had on the wizarding world as though she had fist hand experience with a magical life; it was ridiculous.

Harry continued to listen; rolling his eyes often at the random jokes Professor Dursley placed in her lecture, and gave Ron a very nasty glare every time he laughed at them. As much as he wanted to hate the woman, he could no more call her a a terrible teacher than a blast-ended Skrewt. Unlike Professor Windum, Professor Dursley managed to keep the interest of every student in the class, and even Hermione was taking notes, despite her being raised Muggle as well.

Near the end of class, Professor Dursley removed a stack of Muggle stationary from her desk and then gave Harry a cold look.

‘Misters Potter and Potter,’ she called and both boys looked up at her. ‘If you could please hand these out to each student. They are your assignments for the weekend. I would like you all to examine the papers and then determine exactly how I created the list of instructions on them. The only hint I will give you is the word printer.’

Harry and James grudgingly got out of their seats and each took a stack of papers from their Professor who continued to stare coldly at them both. Harry tried to smile but found it difficult; would he ever again have a professor who did not despise him?

The end of lesson bell rang and the Gryffindor friends all headed up to their common rooms, excited that the next day was Friday and the last day of lessons before Christmas holidays. Lily remained behind to speak to her sister, but Harry was concerned by the odd look she gave him before he left. Was she hiding something?

He did not have time to further contemplate Lily’s curious behaviour as he was quickly dragged away by Ron who was going on about tomorrow’s end of term Quidditch match: Ravenclaw versus Slytherin. Though he had missed the last match, Harry had been informed of every detail of the Hufflepuff versus Slytherin game, and just as he had predicted, Hufflepuff had lost terribly. Gryffindor would play Hufflepuff come the new term and if they won, it would be Gryffindor and Slytherin in the finals. This was of course assuming that Slytherin beat Ravenclaw tomorrow.

Friday’s lessons could not end quickly enough, but when they finally did, Harry was sitting right next to the rest of Gryffindor house in the stands, excitedly awaiting the long-awaited match. This really was a great way to end the term, and take his mind off the horribly long list of assignments the professors had assigned over break. At least Ron had agreed with him that it should have been made illegal to assign work during holidays; it defeated the purpose.

Harry, Ron, Marc and Ginny began to discuss team tactics with Sirius and James, while Lily and Hermione discussed the best way to complete their essays so to a lot a proper amount of time to each. Harry pretended not to hear what they were saying; his mother was normal in his mind. Before long, Lee Jordan’s voice boomed overhead and the team’s players were introduced onto the field. Moments after they had all taken their places, Madam Hooch blew her whistle and the quaffle was thrown into the air to start the game. At that time, Harry was surprised to see the Weasley twins, Angelina and Alicia all sit down behind him, ready to cheer on Ravenclaw and obviously to haggle the Slytherins.

James and Sirius were all too pleased to meet the infamous Weasley twins that they had heard so much about since they had arrived. Fred and George in turn had dropped to their knees and bowed to the pair who they claimed had been the founders of their success.

‘Without your wonderful map we wouldn’t have accomplished half of what we did,’ Fred had admitted.

‘Actually we would have still done it all, but it would have been more difficult,’ George corrected him and they all shared a laugh.’

Both James and Sirius made sure to congratulate the boys on their work with Umbridge and of course their memorial swamp that remained in the corridors of Hogwarts. They made the twins promise to give them each a sample swamp before they had to get back to their own time. Now it was Hermione and Lily who pretended not to hear anything.

For the next several hours everyone watched one of the fiercest Quidditch matches Hogwarts had seen in ages. Slytherin played as ruthlessly as ever, but the surprise came from how hard the Ravenclaw’s fought back. Every dirty trick the Slytherin’s tried, it was quickly turned around and thrown right back at them. While Madam Hooch did not enjoy dirty matches, she did appear to turn a blind eye to several of the obvious fouls taking place.

Harry thought for certain that he saw steam pouring from Snape’s ears when he looked over at the more than angered professor; it was not often that another house could out do his team when it came to cheating. Professor Flitwick appeared to be as cheerful as ever and next to him Professor McGonagall even seemed to be quite pleased with the show. Harry laughed at the professor’s obvious bias.

Nearly two more hours went by with each team scoring more and more points until they were neck in neck with 230 points each. In an unfortunate turn of events, Roger Davies was struck in the head by a well aimed beater’s bat, knocking him from the broom and effectively costing Ravenclaw a chaser and Slytherin a Beater. Not one of the professors was looking pleased now.

With their star chaser out of commission, Ravenclaw stood little chance against Slytherin’s three fairly good chasers and they were soon eighty points behind. All the fans excluding the Slytherins were now cheering louder than ever as encouragement for the team that was falling farther and farther behind. Harry could see Malfoy continuously circling the pitch high above in search of the tiny snitch and shook his head at the seeker’s pathetic abilities. He himself had seen the snitch twice in the last hour, and at least Cho had made three attempts to catch it so far.

It was another half hour until the match ended with a great finale; while the Hufflepuffs were distracted by an accidentally aimed bludger into the stands, Cho made a spectacular dive below Malfoy and finally caught the snitch from right under him. The three favoured houses roared with excitement at this wonderful turn of events and Ron cheered but was complaining that Ravenclaw was still going to be a threat now. The way things stood every team had now lost a match save for Gryffindor. If they won their next match they would jump into the lead.

Three quarters of the Hogwarts students went up to the castle in high spirits, discussing the wonderful game they had just witnessed and many people congratulating the Ravenclaw’s on their fantastic win. Once up in the castle, everyone entered the Great Hall for their final feast before heading down to the Hogsmeade station to catch the Express back to King’s Cross. The old members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team eagerly accepted McGonagall’s invitation to join the rest of the students and they explained that they thought it would be nice to walk them all back to the Nest. They had come to formally invite Lily, James, Sirius, and at Harry’s request Marc.

The friends enjoyed a wonderful feast, everyone laughing and getting along famously until the time came to say goodbye for the holidays and Parvati became teary. She hugged Ron for the longest time and he became quite red in the face while Sirius made faces in the background. They all said goodbye to Lavender, Dean, Seamus and Neville as well, and even Luna popped over to wish them all a happy Christmas before heading off to find the rest of her many missing school things.

Harry’s eyes lingered on Luna’s form for a few moments as he wondered how she was dealing with the news of being Ravenclaw’s heir. Unlike him and Neville who had each other to discuss their discovery, Luna barely even had a friend let alone a confidant to share her news with. He watched her turn a corner before resolving to speak with her when the holidays were over.

It was not long before everyone had collected their things for the holidays and was walking down the road to Hogsmeade in a large group. They had opted to walk rather than take the carriages to avoid the crowd of frenzying students and to joke about as they went along. In no time at all, the rather large group had passed Honeydukes and the Three Broomsticks and were walking up the stone pathway to the ever so eloquent Know-it-all Knocker.

James and Sirius commented on how they would like to visit some of the shops in this time to see how much things had changed over the years. Lily agreed that it could not hurt to try a few new sweets as well. After a good hard laugh at the knockers’ many ridiculous introductions, the large group entered the vast home and were all hugged in turn by Mrs. Weasley.

‘Oh Harry Dear, how good to see you safe and sound. I’m glad your safe, but come the end of holidays I have some chores for you to do to make up for scaring my wits away,’ she smiled at him and Harry smiled back but was unsure if she was kidding or not.

After hugging Ron, Ginny and Hermione, she gave Marc a quick hug and welcomed him before moving on to introduce herself to the time travelling guests. She became quite misty-eyed as she hugged Lily and tried her best to hustle everyone into the home so that they might get settled in. She assigned everyone their rooms, and as usual the boys would all be sharing Ron’s room, while Hermione, Ginny and Lily would share with Alicia and Katie.

The friends all joined Mrs. And Mr. Weasley in the kitchen for a light snack and catching up once they had unpacked, and Harry could not help but smile as he watched everyone looking so happy together. As far back as he could remember, this was now turning out to be one of his favorite memories. Mr. Weasley went on for nearly an hour laughing with the boys about old memories and the things that had changed in Hogwarts castle over the years; Harry was surprised to learn that he had been quite the joker in his time as well.

Molly and the girls spoke with Lily for most of the time, answering the red-haired girl’s questions about how Harry had grown up and things of the sort. Harry smiled when he saw Lily hugging Molly as thanks for welcoming her son into her family so readily.

All the guests and residents alike were having a wonderful time, but soon enough they were all sent to their rooms for a good night’s sleep for the eldest Weasley woman. According to Mrs. Weasley, they would all need their rest so to be ready for the many visitors they would receive over the next week. Harry noticed that she looked extremely excited about something or other, but when he questioned her she said it was surprise and that he would have to wait until Christmas. Harry nodded and was quickly pulled into another tight hug by the emotional woman before heading up to bed. Everyone said their goodnights and before long every guest in the Nest was fast asleep.


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