Alyx peered over the edge looking at the story descending beyond the bottom of the screen, then she looked over at Bob.
“What's this?” she asked in confusion. This wasn't the story she thought he was working on.
Bob looked up sheepishly from his word processor. “Rabid Plot Bunny,” he muttered.
Alyx nodded knowingly. “They happen you know.”
“Not like this one!” Bob exclaimed.
“Oh? What's different about this one?”
“This story is a standalone and yet it isn't. There are possibilities for other stories to spin off in this AU verse. Despite the fact that we don't own Harry Potter, I've come up with a whole new universe based on this short rabid bunny.”
“How the hell did you manage that?”
“Erm... I started typing at the keyboard?” came the confused reply. “I already have a second story well underway in this universe.”
Alyx sighed and looked at the audience. “It's not Sunrise, it's not Sunset. It's not even the X-Men crossover we're still working on. But we're back.”
Bob smiled brightly and thought about technicolor penguins and dancing girls in the disclaimers.
Alyx noted his look and groaned to herself. She didn't want to groan out loud. The last time she did that Bob took off his clothes and looked at her hopefully.
Azkaban Prison, Cell Block 16...
He stopped and looked into the small dingy cell. The poor lighting made it difficult to see the figure hunched in the corner.
“Potter,” spat the figure in a hoarse voice.
Outside the cell, Harry gestured and a comfortable chair appeared next to him. The cell block was warded and he could feel Aurors dying as they crossed his ward, but he didn't care.
“Severus, how are you old friend?” Harry asked as he sat down. He conjured a few bottles of water and several loaves of bread, which he then pushed through the bars towards Snape.
Snape barked a harsh laugh and scrambled for the items. He tore off a chunk of bread and glared at Harry. “Don't 'old friend' me, Potter. You're just here to torment me again.”
Snape had been arrested shortly after the fall of Voldemort. He was one of the few Death Eaters who had been arrested and put in prison. He probably would have been safe, but Harry had turned it into a public embarrassment for the Ministry, forcing them to arrest the ex-professor.
He had made it a point to visit Snape at least once a year since his incarceration, just to chat. Harry knew it drove him crazy.
He leaned back in his comfortable chair and lit a pipe. Nearby, an auror tripped and fell through his ward, screaming as his body incinerated. Harry casually waved his hand, casting a zone of silence around them.
“Now, Severus, is that any way to talk? I mean, who else has visited you regularly for the last fifteen years, hmmm? Besides, this will be my last visit to you, I'm afraid.”
“So you've finally worked up the balls to kill me?” Snape asked, looking up from his bread.
Harry laughed. “Oh, no, old fellow. I'm not going to kill you. I'm going away, you see. I'm afraid that I've finally worn out my welcome in jolly old Britain.”
Snape glanced up the corridor where he could see the Aurors milling around outside of the ward in confusion, then he turned back to Harry. “So, what do you want? You wouldn't come back here just to have an idle chat while your wards fry those damnable aurors.”
Harry shook his head. “Severus, Severus! You really do need to learn patience. But you're right. I have a tale I need to tell, and you, my old friend, are perhaps the only person I know who can appreciate what I have to say.”
Seeing the other man's sneer, Harry made a move as if to stand. “Or, if you want, I can drop my wards and leave?”
“No!” Snape all but shouted. “Stay, please. If you leave, they'll take away the bread.”
For a very brief moment Harry's expression softened. As feelings of sympathy began to flood through him, images of the attack the man before him had orchestrated on Ginny flashed through his mind. He would not show mercy to the... thing... Snape had chosen to become! He'd given up his humanity for power and would pay the price for it.
Calming, Harry leaned back in his chair, crossed his legs and puffed contented on his pipe for a moment. “Very well. Let's begin, shall we?”
“Unlike so many tales, this one started with an ending. Voldemort was dead and you were in chains. Did I ever tell you how close I came to killing you that day? You really should thank me, Severus. Your death would have been the stuff of nightmares for millennia to come. Lucky for you, cooler minds prevailed that day.
“Anyway, there I was, still recovering from my battle with Voldemort, when Dumbledore appears, alive and pleased with the outcome of the war. The man acted as if he had personally killed the Dark Lord, rather than running and hiding like the cowardly dog he is. His appearance was merely the last straw in a series of last straws for me.
“Can you imagine the nerve of that old bastard, faking his own death? His only excuse was that he felt I was becoming too reliant on him!”
Harry paused and his eyes flared with barely controlled magical fury. He was quiet for a moment as he regained control. Then, taking a deep breath, he continued.
“My Ginny was dead, along with Ron and so many friends from the DA. Remus survived, but he killed himself a few months after Voldemort's death. He couldn't go on without Tonks. So many good people dead.”
He closed his eyes and bowed his head.
Snape reached for a bottle of water and watched him closely. When Harry finally looked at him again, he wore a malicious smile.
“On the other hand, there was some satisfaction. Malfoy senior was set aflame with a rather ingenious combination of charms that keeps him alive and forever burning. Hermione is quite a trick when it comes to combining charms like that, isn't she? Who else could have thought of combining an Incendio spell with healing and time slow charms? I understand that even with the deep sedation they keep him under, he still writhes and screams at St. Mungo's.
“And I won't go into what Luna did to Draco, but killing him would have been a mercy. He really shouldn't have tried to rape her, though.” Harry shook his head. “I think he was insane, at the end. From what I understand, he tried to end her spell by castrating himself. He bled to death, so I guess he was right, in a way. ”
He stopped to shudder at the memory of what happened to Draco. It even gave him nightmares.
“After the war, I went away. I needed to get away. I needed to heal. I had done my part; I had killed Voldemort. And I couldn't stand what that bastard Dumbledore was doing. He was strutting around like he had killed Voldemort personally. What's worse, the public was swallowing it, hook line and sinker!
“I pulled all my money from Gringotts and converted it muggle money. That, by the way, was the trigger that started the run that eventually bankrupted Gringotts. Fortunately, I had all my money out of there by then. But then, the Goblins really shouldn't have supported Voldemort either.”
“You might ask yourself, what does one do with all that wealth? I mean, I had several billion pounds, not to mention nearly a ton in gold bullion stashed away,” he said, then he paused and looked at Snape. “I know I asked myself that question. I wanted to get away. What could I buy to get away? A boat? A plane, maybe, so I could fly somewhere?
“No, I bought an island in the Bahamas, called Norman's Cay. Myself and several other survivors moved there. Then, slowly and fairly, we pushed the muggles off the island, buying up their land and businesses at fair market values.
“The first few years were great. I walked the beach, and fished. I finally learned to swim. There is nothing quite like the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean to swim in. I wasn't healed or happy yet, that would come later. I even managed to visit you a few times, making sure you were uncomfortable, or, at least, moderately unhappy. That gave me some satisfaction. I'm sure my gloating were the high points of each year for you.”
Harry smirked at Snape when the older man glared at him.
“My first inkling that something was wrong with the wizarding world came just after I had finished putting up the first anti-muggle ward on Norman's Cay. The Weasley twins approached me, asking if they could open their main office and manufacturing center on my island. By that time, the muggles had forgotten they even owned Norman's Cay and the twins were telling me they had gotten in trouble with the law because they had copied some muggle jokes.”
Harry paused and looked pointedly at Snape. “Can you believe that? They weren't infringing or anything, they just took an idea from the muggles.” He shook his head in amazement.
Snape nodded and continued to eat his bread. Even he could see that didn't make much sense, but the Weasley brats deserved it.
“My next inkling came from a frantic letter from Hermione, who had lost her job teaching at Hogwarts and needed a place to stay. That bastard, Dumbledore, stood back and watched as they took all her money and her Order of Merlin and did nothing to help her. She was penniless and had no hope of getting work. I immediately brought her to my home.
“I am firmly convinced that her treatment was due to what she did to Malfoy. She should have gutted the child buggering bastard, but at least her story ended better than Malfoy's did. He's still smoking and setting the bedding on fire.”
Harry chuckled, then he looked intently at Snape. “I couldn't believe it. Because Voldemort was a half blood, the stupid wizards were lashing out at all muggle born and half bloods. It had to the the stupidest thing the Ministry's ever done. No one bothered to point out to them that, while Voldemort was a half blood, it was the pure bloods who followed him causing all that death and destruction.”
Snape snorted with amusement, then he went back to eating. He motioned for Harry to continue.
Harry looked reflective for a minute. “You know, it's funny. Voldemort had lost, but in a way, he won. The wizarding world was rejecting their roots and hurting everyone they could. So I brought Hermione home, and started casting protective wards around my island.”
He puffed silently on his pipe for a moment. Then he removed the pipe from his mouth and stabbed the stem in Snape's direction. “I never thought I'd end up with Hermione. I mean, she was supposed to end up with Ron and I was supposed to end up with Ginny. Funny how things like that turn out.
“I saved Hermione and helped her find her purpose once more. In return, she helped me to find love again. I never thought I would, after Ginny. Hermione and I had always loved each other, though we tried hard to keep things platonic between us. In the end, we were only fooling ourselves. I imagine I really owe my sanity to that girl. She saved us both. I was rather brittle by that point.”
Harry shook his head gently in remembrance. “Before I put the Fidelius charm on the island, I was attacked by Ministry Aurors who wanted to arrest me. I had been away from the island when they attacked and away from the charm hiding us. The Auror team included Dumbledore's great grandson and Scrimgeour's youngest daughter, something which gave me great satisfaction.
“I sent them back to the Ministry building, naked and stripped of their memories and their magic. I later heard Dumbledore and Scrimgeour were mightily pissed that someone had turned their crack team of Aurors into squibs. Every mission they've sent after me has ended in disaster. But they've never been able to pin any of it on me. In fact, until today, the Ministry didn't have a clue, and they still don't really understand, what's going on. They know they shouldn't mess with me, but they don't really understand why they know that. But you will, my friend.”
Snape looked up, blinking at Harry in astonishment.
Harry grinned. “You mean, no one's told you?”
Snape shook his head.
Harry's grin widened. “You really need to get out more, old bean. When I killed Voldemort, I got his magic, and the magic of every other Death Eater I killed that day. I don't know how or why, but somehow I absorbed power that day, a lot of it. I'm not bragging, you understand. Well, maybe I am, a little, but I'm the most powerful wizard since Merlin, and I could probably give him a run for the title.”
Snape looked at him fearfully for a moment.
“Oh, don't be afraid. I'm not going to hurt you, Severus,” Harry said gently, his eyes shining. “Now, shall I continue my tale?”
Snape nodded eagerly. Any story, even one from his most hated student, was better than dying slowly from boredom. Since Harry destroyed the dementors in the last war, the only thing killing prisoners in Azkaban was the bad food, or lack of it. He had long grown accustomed to the nightmare curses the Aurors cast on him that caused him to wake, screaming in terror, every day.
Harry smiled gently. “Yes, well, we continued to work. The number of people grew until we had to expand the island several times. Eventually, I bought some of the surrounding islands and we incorporated those into Norman's Cay. While the rest of the Wizarding world tried to kill off the muggle born and the half bloods, I found that, somehow, I had become the heart of a rescue movement that had operatives world wide!”
Snape's jaw dropped open, giving Harry a lovely view of the half masticated bread the older man had been working so diligently on.
“It's true!” Harry exclaimed. “I didn't plan on it. But you know Hermione. She's got a heart of gold and a social conscience a mile wide. First, we rescued her parents, who'd just had another girl, another witch, if you can believe it. Then there were several raids on various prisons to rescue people who had been unfairly jailed, just because they were muggle born.
“Besides those we rescued, we had a large number of people who made their way to us on their own. Our island was fairly big, but not that big. I mean, you can walk from one end to another in less than an hour. We were being squeezed in by the number of people.
“With Hermione's help, I managed to enlarge the island several times. Now you need a car to get from one end to another in three hours, and the muggles never noticed a thing! The island has become a paradise, truly magnificent. Why, we even have a fake volcano rising nearly three thousand feet above sea level. Magic is truly grand on that scale.”
Harry relaxed a little more on his chair, his gaze focused on something distant.
“I guess you could say I was faced with a dilemma, old bean,” he said, focusing on Snape once more. “What was I to do about with the Wizarding World? After Scrimgeour died and Percy Weasley took over the Ministry, things became much worse. His laws sent us hundreds of wizards who had been formerly left alone. Pure bloods like Dr. Luna Lovegood-Atkins, whose only crime had been to marry a muggle. Or Blaise Zabini, whose parents owned a business that dealt with muggles.”
He sighed and shook his head. “Poor Luna. She watched as a team of Aurors tortured her husband to death,” he said, then he grinned. “The dear girl snapped, of course. She and her husband had been visiting Hogsmeade when they were caught. She cursed the town and the Aurors. I understand the Aurors all committed suicide within six months. And Hogsmeade? Well, it's not a very happy place these days.
“Even Dumbledore won't send the students there, thanks to her Dementor effect. According to Luna, they'd have to cast a finite on every speck of dirt in the town to dispel the effects of her curse. Except for a few hardy souls, it's almost abandoned these days.”
“I pulled Luna and a few others from a Ministry holding cell and brought them back to our island. It took a lot for Hermione and I to help Luna get past her grief.
“I think Luna was one of the people who surprised me the most. After Hogwarts, she met a frightfully intelligent fellow who was studying a new muggle science. It intrigued her so much that she became an expert in the field herself.”
Harry waved a hand and a small table appeared with a fresh pizza and a bottle of Butterbeer on it. He reached for a slice and the bottle, then turned back to Snape, who was eying the pizza hungrily.
“I'd offer you some, old bean, but there are rules against that sort of thing, you know. After all, this is a prison,” he said with a smirk.
“Damn you, Potter,” Snape growled.
“Now, Severus, is that any way to act towards me? After all, that isn't any ordinary bread I gave you. According to the recipe, it helps build bodies twelve ways... or some such thing,” Harry replied waving the pizza airily. “Shall I continue?”
Snape settled back in his corner and bit off another chunk of bread, then nodded.
He smiled. “Excellent! Well, let's see, where was I? Oh, yes, Luna! Well, we rescued Luna about seven years ago. For a while, she lived with Hermione and myself, then she moved into a nearby home and continued the research that she and her husband, Richard, had been working on.
“Luna is a strange girl and I love her to death, but she and Hermione combined are enough to drive any man insane. Imagine my surprise when Hermione and Luna approached me six years ago and told me that Luna wanted to have a baby and they wanted me to be the father! I swear, I nearly died. I mean, here's my wife standing next to the girl who wants me to have a baby with her?
“Well, after Hermione enervated me from my fainting spell she explained that I wouldn't be doing what I know you're thinking. Luna didn't want me to shag her, she wanted me to donate sperm! She said she wanted me to do it the muggle way. Needless to say, after Hermione explained that particular process she had to enervate me again!”
Harry leaned in closer to the cell. “They wanted me to... you know... do it into a cup and give it to Luna so she could take it to a clinic,” he said in a conspiratorial tone.
Snape blinked and stared at him, his bread forgotten in his shock. What did a cup have to do with conception? Why didn't muggles just do it the old fashioned way?
Seeing Snape's expression, Harry pointed a finger at him and nodded. “I know! And what's worse, until Hermione explained it more, I thought that was the way muggles always did it! I was actually beginning to feel sorry for them!”
Shaking his head and chuckling, Harry leaned back. “So, there I was, cup in hand and my wife shooing me off to the bathroom. When I told them the situation was about as romantic as you and Sprout doing it in the Great Hall, Luna broke down laughing. Even Hermione found it amusing. In any case, I spent nearly an hour in the bathroom staring at that stupid plastic cup, wondering how I was going to manage. Hermione came the rescue, however and lent a hand.” He grinned at the memory.
“Why are you tormenting me like this, Potter? Surely you have better things to do than regale me with tales of your sex life, poor as it might be,” Snape asked hoarsely.
Harry looked at Snape reflectively for a moment. “My sex life is quite fine, Severus. Actually, it's better than fine. Sure, Hermione and I were inexperienced, but I discovered it's true what they say about the quiet types. My wife has a wide exhibitionist streak in her. And while she might present an image of being studious and quiet, she has brought a much needed zeal back into my life. Considering some of the noises she makes, I'm very grateful that her parents live half a mile up the beach from us.
“As to why I'm telling you this tale? Well, for two reasons, really. The first is the simplest, and the one you'll be most able to understand. Revenge. I am telling you this tale because it makes me feel good knowing how angry you must be in knowing all these things are denied to you.
“The second reason is because you are the only one that can appreciate the scope of the revenge I'm talking about. Sure, my coming here is revenge on you, but that's really quite small and rather petty, in the grand scheme of things. No, I'm here to tell you about my revenge on the Wizarding world.”
Snape scowled. “The world?”
Harry nodded calmly and smiled. “Yes, old bean, the world. But you see, in order to understand what I'm doing, you need to understand the steps that brought me to this place.”
“Why weren't you sorted into Slytherin, Potter? I mean, sitting here, giving me bread while you eat that? Talking about revenge on the whole world? These aren't the acts of a Gryffindor!” Snape growled.
Harry laughed. “Didn't you know? I nearly did get sorted into Slytherin, but I begged the hat to put me anywhere else because I had already met Malfoy.”
Snape winced and considered what could have been if Potter had been sorted into his house. “Fine. Continue with your story. Listening to you is better than sitting here doing nothing,” he grumbled.
“True,” Harry agreed cheerfully, “and my time is running short. Somehow you got me onto the topic of my family and I don't think you want to know about them. But they are a handful. The two children that Hermione's given me and the three that Luna's had are all very intelligent. But I suspect that I'm a bit biased.”
Harry finished his pizza and vanished the box with the extra slices. Then he took a deep pull on his bottle of butterbeer. “Now, I want to tell you about something that happened not too long ago...”
Norman's Cay, The Bahamas (Six Months earlier)...
Hermione hurried into Harry's office, a concerned look on her face. She carried Emma in her arms. “Harry, was that the outer perimeter ward alarm I heard?”
“Yes. I sent Blaise and a team to go check it out. It looks like the Ministry is probing the wards again,” Harry said as he stood and lifted the toddler from her mother's arms and blew a noisy raspberry on her belly, making her laugh.
Hermione relaxed and sat down, watching her husband and daughter play. She was two years old and their second child. Sirius was nearly five now and was off on a snorkack hunting expedition with his half brother, Ramses, and Dobby.
Emma was a daddy's girl and she knew it. She could give Harry a certain look and he'd cave every time.
Harry glanced at Hermione and noted her look. He placed Emma on the floor and conjured some brightly floating orbs for her to play with. Every so often an orb would burst softly, revealing a treat of some fruit or a pretty shell, which Emma loved to collect much to her mother's dismay. Emma had a drawer full of pretty shells in her wardrobe.
“What's bothering you?” he asked.
“I'm just worried. Are you sure we should do this?” she asked in return.
Harry frowned. “Am I sure? Well, let's see. What would have happened to your parents and your sister, Victoria, if we hadn't rescued them?”
Hermione looked down at her hands. “They would have died,” she whispered.
Harry walked over to her and knelt down by the chair, looking into her eyes. “Hermione, in a perfect world, we wouldn't have had to worry about any of this. But it's not a perfect world. In fact, it's gotten worse since I killed Voldemort.”
She nodded unhappily.
“Tell me, are you unsure of your interpretation of the Avalon equations?”
She glared at him and he pretended to shrink back and ward off her glare, causing her to finally smile.
Snape stopped chewing and fumbled with his bread. “She's solved the equations?” he blurted.
Harry nodded with pride. “'Smartest witch in our generation', they called her at school. If only they knew just how much they'd underestimated her. Smartest witch ever, I say.”
Snape rocked back and hit the back of this cell in shock. He stared at Harry for a moment, then he waved at him to continue. Without really looking, he reached for the loaf of bread again.
“I have faith in my own abilities, Harry,” she replied with a bit of harrumph.
He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. “I know you do, my sweet. Just trust that the rest of us believe in you, as well,” he replied, then he stood and walked over to a large sliding glass door that led to the outer deck that surrounded the house.
“Look around you, Hermione. There are nearly sixteen thousand wizards and witches and their families now living on the Cay. Muggle born like yourself, half bloods like me and our children. Half breeds like Hagrid and Madame Maxime at the Cay school. And don't forget Fleur and Gabrielle at the primary school. Pure Bloods who were thrown out of polite society because they saw value in the muggle world. We've become outlaws everywhere but here, and you and I both know we can't keep going like we have been.”
“We have wand makers, printers, enchanters, wine growers and Nerf herders. We have teachers, healers and musicians of every type. Without planning it, we built a society, or maybe it just grew up around us, I don't know. In either case, they all depend on us.”
He turned to look at her expectantly.
“I know all that, Harry. I'm just frightened, I guess,” she replied.
“So am I, but for different reasons. I'm frightened for the children. What kind of world would we be giving them if we didn't take steps to stop what's happening? What kind of world would that leave for Emma and Siri?”
She remained silent for several minutes, so Harry decided to try a different tack.
“Would you prefer I return to the wizarding world and conquer it? Force them to do what we want them to do?” he asked quietly.
Her eyes darted up to his. “No! Not that, Harry,” she said, then jumped to her feet and ran to embrace him. She wrapped both arms around him, holding him tightly. She knew he had nightmares about being forced into that situation. It haunted him, even now. He had the power, he had the ability to make Tom Riddle look like a muggle show magician. Even with her holding him at nights, there were still times he woke in a cold sweat, his screams bottled up behind tightly clenched teeth.
“No, never that,” she said fiercely.
He held her tightly, burying his face in her hair and breathing deeply of her scent. “I would, for you,” he whispered.
“And I would never ask you to do that,” she replied.
He nodded and continued to hold her. “Then trust the plan. Your way will work, and it will be fairly painless for everyone. I won't say what you and Luna worked out is totally flawless, but it's the very best we have.”
She pulled back enough to look up at him. “Oh? How would you improve upon the plan then?”
Harry smirked at her. “How about a clause in there about all wives should be naked most of the time?”
She tried to wiggle free from his arms but he held her tight to him. “You pig!” she replied, then she returned his grin. “Besides, when I'm home, in private, I'm usually close to naked anyway.”
“Yeah, but what about Luna?” he asked with a fake whine.
“Harry, you may be the father of her children, and they may call you daddy and me and Luna mum, but you'll never lay a hand or any other part of your body on her. You're mine, Potter. Got it?”
Harry chuckled and made to reply when a glowing orb entered the room, pinging softly.
He glanced at Hermione for a second, making sure she was decent, then he activated the orb.
The orb expanded until it was roughly twelve inches in diameter. Blaise Zabini's head appeared inside the translucent bubble. He was one of the pure bloods who had escaped to Norman's Cay. The bubble swiveled until he could see Harry and Hermione.
“Go ahead, Blaise. What did you find?”
“I think you better come down here, Harry. This wasn't your ordinary probing force. We picked up nearly a hundred Aurors in the entrapment fields and, if you can believe this, they had several prisoners with them. Apparently, they caught some people trying to sneak in and brought them along.”
“Are the prisoners alright?” he asked with concern.
“Yeah. They've been pretty badly roughed up, but I think they'll pull through.”
Harry scowled. “Send the prisoners to the hospital. I'll hop over and visit them later. What about the Aurors?”
Blaise grinned maliciously. “We have some very old friends in this batch. I think you'll enjoy this.”
“Alright, send them to Luna for processing. Tell her to keep out of sight and not to do anything to them until I get there.”
“Got it, Harry. I'll get them moving.”
Harry nodded. “Thanks, Blaise. Tell your crew I said good job, all around. I owe them a round at the pub.”
Blaise nodded and grinned broadly.
“Fini!” Harry exclaimed and the orb shimmered and shrank until it was no longer visible.
He stepped over to his desk and picked up his hat. The tropical sun demanded he wear one, otherwise he burned horribly. “Do you want to come with me?” he asked Hermione. “We're going into the final phases of your plan.”
Hermione shook her head. “No, I need to keep an eye on Emma and I should find Siri. I'm sure he and Ramses are up to no good somewhere, even with Dobby watching them.”
Harry grinned. “Why shouldn't they be? They're only boys out having fun.”
She poked him in the shoulder. “Maybe, but then you had to pull that ritual before we got married that made sure your children would be as strong as you are. Really, Harry, they would have been strong enough without it. Don't you remember the time Emma nearly beached that muggle ocean liner because she thought it was pretty?”
Harry laughed and shook his head at her. “It was pretty, just not so pretty up close.”
Hermione folded her arms and looked at him crossly.
“Look, they're all wearing their inhibitors now, aren't they? And while they'll be stronger than most, they won't be as strong as I am. I just wanted to ensure they would have magic in their lives,” Harry said reasonably, then he kissed her cheek. “If it looks like I won't be home for dinner, I'll orb you, alright?”
She nodded and he vanished from sight without a sound.
Sighing, she shook her head and picked up Emma, who was eating a strawberry. “Your daddy is a very good man. Did you know that?”
Emma stared at Hermione for a moment with big eyes. Then, nodding, she wrapped her small arms around her mother's neck and hugged her.
Harry appeared in front of the building that Luna used for her experiments. It was the single largest building on the enlarged island and Harry had spent a fortune buying the equipment that Luna needed in order to conduct her work.
He never could figure Luna out. He loved her, although not quite in the same way he loved Hermione. She was more than a sister and a lot less than a lover, even though she had already had three of his children, Ramses, Reginald and Reena. He privately thought she harbored a secret lust for the letter 'R'. Publicly, Luna stated that statistics had proven that people whose name began with 'R' were forty percent less likely to be attacked by furry dweebles. Harry had no choice but to believe her. After all, she was the mother of three of his children.
She was also incredibly intelligent like Hermione, but then again, in a different way. Luna seemed to be naturally intuitive. She could look at two totally unrelated things and find relationships between them that no one would have guessed existed. It was a process that drove Hermione to distraction.
Hermione was linear. She went from point 'A' to point 'Z' making sure she stopped at each intermediate point in-between. She was methodical in everything she did and Harry knew it right down to his bones.
When Hermione decided it was time to have children, everything had to be timed to the nth degree. She'd orb him with her ovulation temperatures, much to the amusement of the islanders, then she'd remotely activate his emergency portkey when it was the right time. He be talking with some family and suddenly... whoosh! He'd be pulled back to their home where she was waiting for him.
Harry went along with it with Sirius. But when she tried to pull that with Emma, he put his foot down. For three months straight the islanders were laughing at Hermione, who often found herself suddenly dragged off because Harry decided it was a good time. She spent those three months with a goofy grin on her face and a funny walk.
“Oh, hi, Luna,” he said, giving her a light hug. “Yes, I was just thinking about some things. How are you today?”
She smiled up at him. “I'm busy. I take it you wanted to come talk to our latest catch?”
She opened the door and waved him into the air conditioned interior. “Well, come on in. We haven't done much except strip them down, and strap them onto the tables. Did Blaise tell you who we caught?”
Harry, walking beside her, shook his head. This was the third time they had captured a large group of Aurors that had been sniffing around the Cay. This was the largest group ever caught, however. The previous groups were smaller by at least half.
Luna glanced down at her clipboard. “Well, we have Theodore Nott, still wearing his dark mark. Apparently he was too busy to take the Ministry up on their offer of removing it. We also have Pansy Parkinson-Nott. I guess she set her sights on Teddy when Draco decided to try removing his own penis. I could have told him that wouldn't stop the continual orgasm I cursed him with.”
Harry winced and shook his head. “I'm glad your on our side, Luna. Otherwise I'd be truly afraid.”
“Harry,” Luna said with a laugh. “I'm not about to do anything like that to you. I mean, really, what if I want more children?”
Harry stopped and turned to look at her. “After I invoke the Avalon formula you won't be able to reach the clinic for at least twenty years. There's a good chance the clinic won't exist anymore.”
“I know that, silly, but I've been speaking with Healer Chang. She says she thinks she can duplicate their procedure. She thinks that, for you, she might even be willing to make it more enjoyable.”
Harry paled and shuddered. He was certain Hermione's reaction to Cho Chang's offer would not be well received. “Erm... I'm sure if it becomes necessary, Hermione would be more than happy to help me again,” he offered lamely, then he decided to change the subject. “Who else did we find in our net?”
Luna chuckled and looked down at her clipboard again. “Well, it seems the Nott's were the ones in charge of this raiding party. But we also picked up Daphne Greengrass, Lisa Turpin, and Marcus Flint”
Harry stopped and looked at her hard. “Who else did we pick up? You're hiding something from me, I can feel it.”
She sighed and handed him the clipboard. He glanced down at it and growled low in the back of his throat.
“Does Blaise know about this?”
Luna nodded. “He said she's no sister of his. Not after what she did to their parents.”
“And Su Li Weasley?”
“He doesn't want to talk to her, either,” Luna replied sadly.
Harry nodded. Blaise had been married to Su Li, but when the new laws were passed, she had sided with the Ministry when they arrested his parents for owning a company that dealt with muggles. Incensed by her actions, he fought with her publicly in Diagon Alley, causing considerable damage in the process. The Ministry stepped in and arrested Blaise and Su Li divorced him.
Blaise was picked up in the same raid that snatched Luna from the Ministry.
To Harry's great amusement, even to this day, no one ever thought to suspect he might be behind those rescues.
Su Li married Percy Weasley, not long after her divorce, in a wedding that rivaled a muggle royal wedding. Harry attended, despite the fact that he hadn't been invited, because he knew it would irritate Percy and the rest of the pure bloods. He didn't attend the reception, but he didn't need to. The twins, working with Dobby, arranged for everyone at that affair to come down with a three day case of the shits.
The Ministry attributed the sabotage of the reception to malcontents and hooligans. Fred and George were so pleased, they renamed their little group Team Hooligan.
“I figured you'd want to talk to them, so I put them all in the same area,” Luna said softly.
“Thank you, Luna. I shouldn't be long. Give me five minutes, then you can come in and start prepping them while I continue speaking with them.”
Harry stepped into the large room. All around him were beds with bodies strapped down on them. It reminded him eerily of a thriller movie he and Hermione had watched with her parents once. Next to each bed was an IV stand with a bottle waiting.
Sheets covered each person up to their shoulders, but Harry knew they were naked under the sheets. They would awaken, frightened and intimidated.
This was the third and last time he would be in this room. He had witnessed Luna run her procedure twice before, but this was the only time he would get personally involved.
He walked over to a particular corner of the room where several beds were grouped together. He conjured a chair and sat comfortably, then he gestured, causing the beds to tilt up so the occupants could see him clearly.
He lit his pipe and waited patiently for the spell to wear off.
Pansy Nott, formerly Parkinson, was the first to wake up. She opened her eyes, blinking and looking around in confusion. Teddy and Su Li woke next, followed by Greengrass, Turpin and Flint.
“Good afternoon, and welcome to Norman's Cay. Or, as the other residents prefer to call it, Potter's Redoubt,” Harry said softly.
Pansy turned her head to look at him, her eyes widening. She tried to jerk upwards, but the straps prevented her from sitting up.
“Potter!” snarled Theodore Nott. “I should have known we'd find you here!”
Harry shook his head. “Now, Teddy, is that anyway to treat your host? You and your people fell to our entrapment ward fairly easily. It really doesn't say much for Ministry training these days.”
Pansy looked down at her strapped in naked body. “What the hell are you doing with us, Potter?”
Harry's expression hardened and he looked at the group of Aurors. “I'm only going to give you one chance. If any of you are willing to give a binding blood oath, I'm willing to release you and let you come with us. If not, then you are all about to become vectors for one of Luna's experiments.”
“It's not an experiment, Harry, I told you, we stopped experimenting a year ago. The design is finalized,” Luna said from the doorway.
Harry turned and nodded at Luna, who was flipping switches, flooding the room with light. He turned back to the Notts and the others.
“There you go,” he said with a shrug. “It's not an experiment. And she would know, wouldn't she? It is, after all, her idea.”
He looked up fondly at Luna, who was wheeling a cart over to where Teddy Nott lay.
“You'll get no oath from us, you filthy half blood! Now, release us or the Ministry will get you for this!” Teddy snarled.
“So much for the offer of sanctuary, then,” Harry said, then he nodded to Luna. “You can start anytime, love.”
Luna placed a small bag on the IV stand next to the larger bag of dextrose and water. She then connected the small bag into the IV, using a shunt to the main tube. Once finished, she lifted the sheet and applied a tourniquet to Nott's arm.
“What are you doing?” he screeched nervously.
“Teddy,” Harry said softly. “Luna isn't going to hurt you. She's just making you a carrier.”
Turpin, a former Ravenclaw, was more knowledgeable about muggle terminology and technology. “A carrier for what, Potter?” she asked in a frightened tone.
“Ah,yes. Perhaps I should reintroduce you all. This is Doctor Luna Lovegood-Atkins, one of the worlds leading experts on the science of Nano-technology.”
Seeing the blank looks, he smirked.
“Harry, don't tease them. Making them tense like that will increase the chance of them being bitten by a wild wiffler,” Luna chided. “Besides, being the mother of your children is a more important title, if you ask me.”
“So, you finally bagged a pure blood, eh, Potter? Figures you'd go for her once the Weaslette was killed,” snarled Flint.
Harry stiffened and he looked at Luna questioningly.
She dropped her gaze for a moment. “No, we don't really need him,” she murmured unhappily.
When Harry nodded, Luna sighed heavily. She knew what was coming. There was a sharp snapping sound and Marcus Flint sagged on his bed, his head rolling loosely, his neck broken. She knew Flint's death would come back to haunt Harry in the form of nightmares. They always did. It didn't matter that Flint deserved to die for his actions in the war. The nightmares would come, regardless of what she or Hermione might say or do to comfort him.
“I'd strongly suggest you watch what you say,” Harry said flatly. His magic flared around him, causing his Bermuda shorts and his Aloha shirt to rustle in an unfelt wind.
Luna made a note to orb Hermione privately later and warn her about tonight so she could prepare.
“You killed Marcus,” Samatha Zabini whispered, straining at her straps. This Auror mission had stopped being fun now that the shoe was on the other foot.
Harry turned to her. “Do you really think killing him matters? We're killing your whole world, you daft cow. What's one life in comparison? Especially a bigot like Flint!” Harry snapped. His eyes glowed eerily, causing Samantha to flinch back on the table.
The bed with Flint's body tilted back flat then sunk into the floor as if it had never existed in the first place.
Lisa Turpin paled. “What is Nano-technology, Harry?”
“I'm glad you asked!” Harry said with a grin, his mood switching almost instantly.
Turpin bit her lip. Watching him, listening to his words, she began to believe he'd gone insane. She wasn't the only one among the captured Aurors to think so.
“The quick explanation is, nanites are micro machines. They're so tiny you can't see them without the help of a muggle microscope. It's really quite amazing when you think about it. You're receiving heavy dose of these machines.
“Luna has built them to perform three functions. First, they multiply wonderfully and pass themselves from person to person very easily. If you're infected with our nanites and sneeze in a room, you will infect every person in the room. Share a cup or kiss someone or shake someone's hand, and you've infected them. Make love to your spouse and... well, I think you get the picture.
“The second thing they do is burrow into every cell in your body, looking for one particular piece of DNA. Rather than bore you with all the mundane details, these machines find that which makes you a wizard or a witch and it prevents you from passing that to your children. Your children will have no magic at all. In short, they will be less than squibs.”
“Finally, in muggles, it prevents a witch or wizard from being born,” Harry said, grinning cheerfully.
“Harry, you're scaring them again,” Luna reminded him.
He nodded and looked at his captives. They were just coming to realize exactly what he was saying.
“Are you scared yet?” Harry asked them hopefully. Scaring them was the least he wanted to do to this batch of bigots.
“B-b-but, you'll catch it yourself!” protested Turpin.
Luna shook her head. “Silly, Lisa. You never did understand me, did you? You were always so busy stealing my knickers. I often wondered if you had a crush on me or something. Now, do you honestly believe I would create something so dangerous and not protect myself or my family? Everyone on this island has been inoculated.”
“You'll destroy the world, Potter!” Pansy exclaimed. “And here I thought Lord Voldemort was mad!”
“Alright, Potter, what's your price? What are your demands? As the senior Auror, I can negotiate on behalf of the Ministry.” Teddy snarled.
Su Li sobbed softly as Luna inserted her IV. She and Percy had been trying for children.
“Price? Why Teddy, I don't intend to blackmail the Wizarding word. I intend to destroy it,” Harry replied, looking shocked that anyone would think he wanted to blackmail the Ministry.
Nott blinked and stared at him in utter horror.
“Just a part of it, Harry,” Luna corrected.
Harry nodded. “Right! The Goblins have retreated back into their caverns and, thanks to the Ministry attacking them, Gringotts is not only gone, but bankrupt. We've warned the house elves, but a large number are coming with us. Not that it matters, as the nanites only attack humans. Unlike living things like viruses, nanites can't mutate between generations, so once the current generations are gone, the nanites will die off, leaving mankind magic-less.”
He turned to Luna. “Did I get that right?”
She smiled and nodded at him. “Sometimes he's just like a big kid,” she said softly to Su Li.
Su Li whimpered and tried to shake Luna off her arm.
“Now stop that, Su. You know it's not going to help you,” she said softly. “This will only hurt a little. It's only a little prick.”
“I do believe Penelope said the same thing about Percy when she arrived here, Luna,” Harry quipped.
Luna flashed him an amused smile.
“You said something about the house elves and them coming with you. Where are you going?” Pansy asked.
He leaned back in his chair. “Well, you see, Hermione, my wife... You remember her, I'm sure? Muggle born and frightfully intelligent? She's solved the Avalon equations. She tells me that I have enough power to perform the spell.”
“Harry, you have enough power to move the planet,” Luna said with a grin.
“It's not that bad,” Harry muttered darkly. Why did she insist on bursting his bubble? Wasn't he allowed to gloat once in a while?
Luna turned back to Su Li. “Yes, it really is,” she whispered to the whimpering woman.
“I thought Luna was your wife?” Teddy asked. He was desperately trying to stall while he worked on a way of getting out of there.
Luna looked up from what she was doing. “Oh, no, Hermione is his wife. As for me? Well, I thought about calling myself an alternative sperm recipient, but that seemed rather cold. Do you have a better suggestion?”
“So, what does this spell do?” Nott asked, trying to ignore the daft blond. He was having trouble putting together a coherent thought, but he knew he had to find out as much information as he possibly could.
Harry looked at him and wondered why he seemed amazingly calm, considering what was dripping into his veins right now.
“Don't you remember your history?” Lisa asked. “They are going away. Harry's going to make the island vanish like the island of Avalon did or Atlantis.”
Harry turned to Luna. “Luna? Why are they so calm? Did you cast a cheering charm on them?”
Luna smiled sweetly. “A muggle cheering charm called Sodium Pentothol, actually.”
He frowned. She had taken away part of his fun!
“So, explain this spell, Potter,” Pansy prompted.
Harry shrugged. “It doesn't matter. We'll be safely gone, while your world withers and dies. The spell will hide this island for a thousand years and slow time for everyone living here. For every year we live here, you'll live ten. In a hundred of your years, the mists will begin to slowly fade from the Cay. In three hundred of your years, we'll be able to bring outsiders to the island, though they won't be able to see it until they're actually standing on it. In a thousand of your years, the island will once again become visible to the world. In the meantime, we'll thrive and raise our families in peace.”
“Why are you telling us this?” asked Daphne.
Harry smiled evilly. “Because you'll all be obliviated before we send you back. By the time you're gone from this place, we'll be making preparations to leave. You'll return to Britain, never knowing that you are responsible for killing that which you hold most precious.”
Pansy, now understanding just what Harry's plan meant, began to weep. “Damn you,” she whimpered as she turned to Teddy. “I wanted to have kids right after we married, but you said we had to wait! Now what will we do?”
Luna walked over and adjusted her drip, then patted her shoulder. “Hush, Pansy. There's no reason to get upset. You can still have plenty of babies to love. They just won't have any magic.”
Even with the Sodium Pentothol, Pansy's wails were heard outside of Luna's processing center.
Azkaban Prison (The Present)...
“And that's what happened, old friend, just six short months ago. Luna tells us that her nanites has been detected in Bejing, London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Cape Town; they're everywhere, now. She thinks that, given another six months, everyone on the planet will probably be infected.”
Harry leaned back, spent from talking so much.
Snape stared at him incredulously for a few moments, then began to giggle. The sound was a bit odd coming from such a man as he. His giggles soon became outright laughter that echoed off the cell walls.
A noise at the far end of the corridor caught Harry's attention. He turned slightly on his chair and watched as Dumbledore attempted to break his ward.
Shaking his head, he stood and vanished his chair. Turning back to the now cackling former potions master, he smiled. “Sorry to run, old bean, but company's coming and I really don't feel like dealing with Dumbledore today. As tempted as I am to kill him and be done with it, I think it will be more fun for him to watch all his plans fall to dust.”
Harry reached into his pocket, fingered a small stone and debated with himself for a moment. Then, making his decision, he shrugged. “I won't be back to visit you again, Severus. It will be a hundred years before we can leave the Cay, you see. But I brought you one more little gift besides the bread.”
He tossed the small stone into the cell.
Snape picked up the stone and looked at it curiously.
“If things get too bad, swallow it, old bean. It will put an end to your misery,” Harry told him softly, neglecting to add that it would only end after a week of painful suffering.
Snape quickly hid the stone under his blankets. A loud booming came from up the corridor and Harry turned to give Dumbledore the finger. The old Headmaster was white with anger and probably felt the situation was a personal betrayal of Harry's.
“A most excellent revenge. It pains me to say it, but even Salazar would be proud of what you've done.”
Harry glanced up the corridor, then turned to Snape and nodded. “I've been gone from home long enough. Hermione is probably worrying herself silly. Ta Ta, old bean,” he said, then he faded from view.
Harry's ward collapsed and Dumbledore fell to his knees painfully. When he had heard that Harry was at Azkaban, he didn't think anything of it, at first. Harry had made several visits to Snape over the years and had hurt no one. But this time the reports came in mentioning a ward that was killing aurors. The Ministry had begged him to come help break the ward.
At first he hadn't believe the reports. On his arrival, however, the line of blanket covered bodies in the outer courtyard of the prison gave mute testimony to the slaughter that had happened within.
He was shocked to find a scintillating blue field cutting Harry and Snape off from the rest of the prison. The Warden warned him not to touch it. Everyone who had, had died.
He spent nearly an hour running tests on the ward and what he discovered disturbed him greatly. Even the Hogwarts wards, which were permanent castings anchored in runes deep within the castle, didn't have the power of this temporary ward. It was the strongest and most lethal spell he had ever encountered in his long life.
He tried a few spells, and Harry had finally noticed his presence. His anger flared when Harry made a crude gesture in his direction, then Harry had vanished and his ward had collapsed a few seconds later.
Dumbledore rushed forward. He stopped in front of Snape's cell, examining the man carefully.
Severus clutched the remaining loaf of bread, looked at Dumbledore and began to laugh hysterically.
One of the guards moved to open the cell to take the loaf of bread away from Snape, but Dumbledore stopped him.
“Don't. I know Harry. He didn't give the bread to Severus as a kindness,” the old man said.
“Doooooommmmmed! Doooooommmmmed! You're all doomed, Dumbledore, and it's all your fault, you old bastard,” Snape said between bouts of laughter.
Dumbledore shook his head, trying to shake off an uneasy feeling. “Poor devil. He's insane,” he murmured. Turning to the Warden, he sighed. “I will return to the Ministry and let them know we need to arrest Harry Potter on charges of murder.”
The Warden nodded absently, his eyes fixed on Snape. He'd been Warden of Azkaban for over fifty years. He'd watched countless prisoners teeter and eventually fall over the edge into insanity. He knew what it looked like, what it smelled and acted like. No, whatever Albus Dumbledore thought, the Warden knew Snape was not insane.
Norman's Cay (Several days later)...
Harry groaned and rolled over on the bed. Then a small mass hit him, hard.
“Daddeee!” squealed the mass.
He cracked open one eye and looked at his bushy haired green eyed son. “Hi, Siri,” he mumbled.
“Mama sent me in to see if you were awake. She told me to be quiet and not to wake you, but I knew you were faking sleep!” the little boy said proudly.
“How long have I been sleeping?” he asked groggily.
“Three days,” replied a worried voice.
He turned to see Hermione approaching the bed. She smiled softly at her son, who snuggled up against his father. Harry might be waking up, but Siri obviously decided that a nap was in order. He was fading fast.
“Did it work?” Harry asked quietly.
“Of course, it worked. But you wouldn't have exhausted yourself if you let us help you. But no, mister god-like-powers had to prove to the world that he's the most powerful wizard alive and perform a spell by himself that's supposed to take a hundred wizards to perform. You scared me to death when you keeled over like that!” she snapped worriedly.
She stopped, took a deep breath and scowled at him. “Luna and I have been going crazy. You'd exhausted yourself and were in a deep coma. My parents were pulling their hair out because we dropped the kids in their laps. If it weren't for the house elves, I think my mum would have resorted to tying Sirius to a tree to keep him still!”
Hermione placed her hands on her hips and her scowl became a death glare He would have blanched, but he was busy protecting their five year old son from her glare. A shield snapped in place and he stuck his tongue out at her.
“OHHH!” she exclaimed and stomped a foot. “Let me tell you something, Mister I-Killed-Voldemort. If you ever pull a stunt like that again, I'll let Emma have words with you. You scared her silly!”
Harry paled and the shield faded away instantly. He wasn't trying to make fun of her fear, but he hadn't considered the fright he may have caused his children.
“Is she alright? Where is she?” he asked.
Hermione climbed into the bed on the other side of Siri and spooned up behind Harry. “She's still at Mums. Luna was certain you'd wake today, which is why Siri is back here,” she whispered, then she sniffled a little.
“I'm sorry, I just wanted us to be safe. All of us,” Harry whispered sleepily.
“I know, Harry. Sleep now,” she replied. “We're all safe, thanks to you. I'll yell at you more later.”
He nodded, already drifting while she ran a hand through his hair. Within moments, he was sleeping. Minutes later, her eyes drifted closed and she joined her husband and son in slumber.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (One Year Later)...
The initial reaction to the Potter Azkaban Massacre, as the Daily Prophet called it, ignited a furor and great public outcry. But it quickly died off in the following months, as no one could find Potter, and his last known location, somewhere in the Bahamas, no longer existed.
At first Dumbledore had been fearful that Harry had finally turned the corner and would be taking up Voldemort's job. But that didn't seem to be the case. As the months dragged by, Albus began to relax. No one had heard from Harry and no one knew where he was.
If Harry was becoming the next Dark Lord, he had a few lessons to learn about keeping the terror level high.
A knock came from his door and he looked up. “Come!”
The door opened and his deputy Headmaster, Charlie Weasley, entered the office.
He smiled at Charlie. It was a shame about the Weasley family, he thought. The two youngest killed in the war, the twins were fugitives and so was Bill and his half breed wife. Arthur died from his injuries after the war. Molly was a pale shadow of her former self, a recluse who refused to part with her memories and what might have been.
“Yes, Charlie? Do come in and sit down.”
Charlie entered the room holding the student registry. “Albus, I've found something strange and I thought I'd talk to you about it.”
Charlie flushed. He had only been at the school for ten short years, first as the Care of Magical Creatures Professor when Hagrid went on the run, then as deputy Headmaster and head of Gryffindor house after McGonagall had quit when Flitwick and Granger were nearly arrested in the school. The fact that Flitwick and Granger had escaped from the Ministry before Percy could arrest them hadn't soothed McGonagall at all.
“I'm sorry, sir. I know you're busy with the start of the term, but I think this might be important,” Charlie said as he held out the large, heavy book.
Dumbledore sighed and cleared a space on his desk. Charlie gratefully laid the heavy book down and opened it.
“This is December of last year, Headmaster, just ten months ago. You'll see the registry is noting the births of sixteen wizards and witches, which is about average for our enrollment registry.”
Dumbledore glanced down. “Indeed, including your own Stephanie, I note,” he replied teasingly.
Charlie smiled with pride for a moment, then his expression changed again. “Yes, but look, Headmaster. January, fourteen births. February and March, ten birth each. April and May seven each. June three, July none, August none! Has this ever happened before?”
Albus stared at the book in surprise and started flipping pages. “But surely... I know the Longbottoms were expecting, Neville and Susan are quite strong, magically. And what about the Murphy's? No, wait, they vanished last year. What about...what was their name? Oh yes, the Notts were expecting, as well.”
Dumbledore peered up from the book to look at Charlie, who could only shrug.
Charlie knew about the Longbottom child, but no one had told him whether she was magical or not. He had just assumed she was, until he checked the book. She wasn't listed among the enrollees.
“You will say nothing of this to anyone until I have had a chance to research it,” Dumbledore said sternly
Charlie nodded vigorously. “Of course, Albus. I wouldn't dream of it.”
“Thank you, Charlie. You are dismissed.”
Charlie blinked in surprise. The Headmaster was rarely so abrupt! Standing, he nodded and exited the office.
Once he was alone, Dumbledore paged through the registry and muttered to himself. He had a terrible, sinking feeling that somehow things had been taken out of his control and he was worried.
Ministry of Magic (Two years after Harry's disappearance)...
Percival Weasley, Minister of Magic, walked out onto the stage and stepped up to the podium. He looked at the hushed audience for a moment, then he cast an amplification charm on himself.
“Witches and Wizards, thank you for coming to this emergency meeting. You represent the best and brightest masters in your fields. Potions, healing, charms, nearly every field imaginable is represented here today in the hopes that, between you, we can find a solution to the crisis that now faces our world...”
The doors in the back of the auditorium slammed open and Kingsley Shacklebolt, head of the DMLE, rushed in, waving a paper. “It's in the Prophet!” he shouted.
“Kingsley,” Weasley said disapprovingly. “We're busy trying to solve our crisis. We don't need you barging in...”
“Minister! It's in the Prophet! Look!” he said as he rushed up to the podium, slapped the paper down in front of Percy and muttered an incantation over it. Suddenly the front page of the Prophet appeared on the wall of the auditorium in stark relief.
Harry Potter's Final Words
Admits to destroying life as we know it!
Earlier this morning, the Daily Prophet received a wizarding letter delivered by a squib. The letter, signed in blood, was from Harry Potter and once we read it, we were stunned. In the interests of our world, we will not editorialize this, nor will we edit or change anything Mr. Potter has written. Here, then, are the final words of Harry James Potter, our savior and our destroyer.
Dear Wizarding World,
As you read this, my representatives have noted that your government is meeting in secret to try to find a way out of a problem they have been hiding from you. You see, for nearly two years now, there has not been a birth of a witch or wizard, anywhere in the world. No muggle born, no half bloods, and especially no pure bloods.
This is what your government doesn't want you to know. This is why new parents haven't been told what their children's Hammerstein Magical Index is. This is what St. Mungo's and other wizarding hospitals around the world don't want you to know.
Now, here is the truth.
There will be no witches or wizards born again in this world until we return. I did this to you because you do not deserve magic. Magic is a gift bestowed upon man so that those blessed with such gifts can work for the betterment of all mankind. But you have forgotten or ignored that fact. You have become cruel and callous to your fellow man and think you are better than they are.
This is your punishment and nothing your government does will be able to fix this because the change is permanent, affecting wizards and muggles alike. The muggles, not knowing about magic, will never know or care because all I've done is ensure their children will be as they have almost always been; ordinary muggles.
Wizards, however, are another story. In two hundred years, most of the wizards will be dead, except for those I've taken with me into my redoubt, and we are beyond your reach.
We solved the Avalon equations and I have invoked them. In time, we will bring magic back to the world for the greater good of all mankind. I know this is something you will never understand, since you rejected your humanity.
In the meantime, you can try your potions and your charms and curse my name if you like. It won't help. This is the price you pay for letting small minded people like Percy Weasley become Minister, and for letting people like Albus Dumbledore continue to teach children, when he clearly doesn't care about them.
This is your fate for thinking you are superior.
You let murdering Death Eaters go free and persecuted muggle born because they had muggles for parents. How sick is that?
For nearly fifteen years I watched and prayed you would turn from this path. Conditions got worse and worse, however, until I could not sit back and be idle any longer.
You are now reaping what you've sown. I hope you enjoy your fate. Actually, no I don't. I hope you all die, old and bitter, gnashing your teeth and cursing your fate. In the end, I hope you remember just one thing. You brought this on yourselves. You cursed your world; you destroyed your world.
There is one bright point in all of this. You can take hope from the slight solace that magic, gentle, tolerant magic, will return to mankind when we return to the world. Take hope that we will dedicate our lives to helping all mankind, not just a privileged few.
Harry James Potter,
Big Kahuna of Norman's Cay and official Luau Starter
Keeper of the Pretty Seashells.
For once, we in the Prophet are speechless. Mr. Potter's letter paints a picture of the Wizarding world that we'd like to deny, but we know in our hearts we can't. All we can do is turn to our Ministry and demand the truth.
Have any witches or wizards been born in the last two years, Minister Weasley?
The people want to know and await your response!
Percy sagged and only his grip on the podium held him upright. A great cry came from the audience as people read Harry's letter.
Percy straightened and quickly walked off the stage. Behind him, the greatest minds in the wizarding world erupted in a riot. It was a scene that would be replayed throughout the world over the course of the next few months. Hogsmeade would be burned to the ground, and Aurors would end up killing over fifty people in their attempt to put down the riots that erupted in Diagon Alley.
Slowly, things returned to a semblance of normalcy, but it was edged with panic and a great sense of frustration and anger. Percy Weasley was voted out of office and pushed through the veil without a trial by an angry Wizengamot. Dumbledore was ousted as Headmaster and barely escaped with his life.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Eighteen Years after Harry's disappearance)...
Albus Dumbledore stood silently on the side of the road. He was nearly a hundred and seventy years old, and his face showed every one of those years. His health was failing rapidly and nothing the healers could do seemed to help. He knew his time was short.
His biggest regret was that he'd leave life without seeing his greatest student one last time. He had much he would have liked to say to Harry if he had the chance. He had much to atone for. He knew it, just as he knew he'd lost any chance of doing so.
He watched in silence as Charlie Weasley, last Headmaster of Hogwarts, escorted the last graduating class from the school, all forty three of them. There were no more students to come, no more new witches or wizards. Charlie was the last Headmaster, the one left with the duty of sealing the castle in the hopes that, someday, students might return to the school once more.
Charlie spotted Dumbledore and he nodded cordially to the man. He'd always held him in high regard, despite his being ousted in disgrace over Potter's Punishment, as it was now called.
The students, seeing their parents, ran to meet them, while Charlie and his daughter, Stephanie, walked over to Dumbledore.
“Albus, how are you? You remember Stephanie, don't you?” Charlie asked.
Dumbledore peered at the young woman, so full of life, ready to start fresh. And so full of death.
“I do, yes. Congratulations, my dear, on graduating. Your parents must be very proud of you,” Dumbledore replied, then he turned to Charlie. “And what of you, Headmaster? With the school closed, what will you do?”
Charlie looked down at his feet for a moment and his daughter came to his rescue.
“Daddy and I plan on opening a muggle veterinarian service to help muggles with their pets. I've been accepted into veterinarian school in England,” Stephanie said proudly.
Dumbledore nodded and smiled sadly. It pained him to see such a bright young woman, who was clearly at the top of her class, rejecting her life as a witch in favor of going muggle. Seventeen years ago, she would have been sent to prison for even considering it. How times had changed, forced on them by one man.
He turned and started walking towards what would always be in his mind his school.
“Sir? Where are you going?” Charlie asked worriedly.
“I'm going home, young Charles. I am going to visit an old friend and have a long talk with her.”
“But the wards! The castle is sealed!”
Dumbledore waved him off. “She won't keep me out. I bid you farewell, Charles. I doubt we'll meet again in this life.”
Charlie stared at Dumbledore as the old man hobbled down the road towards the school. He stood motionless for a few minutes, then he turned and smiled at his daughter, his only magical child in a family of nine children. Taking her hand in his, he turned and continued their journey to Hogsmeade and a new life.
Over an hour later, Dumbledore collapsed on the chair in his old office. He had been right, the castle hadn't kept him out. In fact, it had welcomed him like an old master returning from a long journey.
“We've come a long long way, haven't we, old friend?” he said to the castle.
The castle, of course, remained silent.
“I only wish things hadn't turned out the way they did. In the end, all that I struggled to save, I destroyed. I was so wrapped up in receiving fame for something I didn't do, that I didn't see what I was doing. Not to him or to the others.”
“This is your fault, Albus. I told you not to anger that boy,” Phineas said from the wall.
“Yes, Phineas, I know. But I really thought Harry would always side with us,” Dumbledore replied in a breathy voice. He tried to ignore the stabbing stitch in his side.
“How could he, Albus? You drove him away,” spat Amando Dippet from his portrait. “You made him choose between us and what he perceived to be his own family. When forced into such a choice, family usually wins.”
The stitch in his side moved to the center of his chest and became a crushing pain. He gasped through blue lips and his hands trembled. “It.. was for the... greater good...”
Phineas stared at Dumbledore for a moment, nodding to himself in satisfaction. “Well, look were it got you. He'll be back. He'll own this castle and he'll bring his vision of magic to the world. And you'll be dead and forgotten, Albus. A footnote in the history books written about the great wizard Harry Potter, who saved magic for mankind.”
Albus tried to turn his head, but the pain was too intense. He slumped over the desk, his face buried in a book. A minute later, his chest ceased rising.
Several minutes later, a blank canvas across the room from Phineas began to glow. As the other paintings watched, Albus slowly appeared. Once the glow faded, Dumbledore looked around the office, bemused.
Phineas snorted and pointed a finger at the newest addition to their number. “And this is what you get, Albus. This is what your grand plan has achieved. When Potter returns to take up your position in our world, you'll be nothing more than crumbling paint chips and moth eaten canvas!”
Norman's Cay (twenty months into Avalon time)...
Hermione watched from the veranda, a frown of worry creasing her brow. Harry stood out on the quay, staring off into the distance. His gaze was firmly fixed on something she couldn't see.
She didn't dare try to make her way out to him. She was six months pregnant with their third child and she wouldn't risk those slippery rocks.
When he finally turned and looked at her, she was startled to see tears falling down his cheeks. He scrambled over the rocks and up to the veranda until he stood in front of her. Then, without a word, he grabbed her and she felt the shudders race through his body as he tried to hold back his emotions.
It was then that she became truly alarmed, Harry never cried! Not even when they buried Ron and Ginny. That was the reason why they parted paths for a few years after the war. She had thought he didn't care. It was only after she arrived on the island that she learned how much he actually held inside. It would have killed him, eventually, had she not intervened.
“Harry?” she asked in alarm.
“He's finally gone,” he said, his voice muffled against her neck. His emotional damn burst and he clung to her, weeping. A door to the past had closed in his life and he felt as though he was being reborn, right there in her arms.
Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around him, cooing and whispering encouragement in his ear.
Overhead, a phoenix appeared in flash of flame and sang a lament that tore through her soul. She clung to him and started to weep as well, her tears mingling with his.
They cried for different reasons. She cried for him and he cried for all that he had lost, thanks to the machinations of one man.
The Phoenix hovered above the pair for a moment longer before it's voice changed, washing away the tears with the joy of its song.
Harry and Hermione looked up in wonder as the small bird came to land nearby. It cocked its head from side to side, examining them both with bright, jewel like eyes. When it leaned toward them slightly, both gasped. They felt warmth and joy wash over them as creature bonded with them.
“Great, another pet in the house,” muttered Hermione, though her eyes were a bit wide. “Two owls, four cats, two land crabs named Fred and George, forty two fish and now this.”
The phoenix squawked and looked at her reproachfully and Harry began to laugh. He kissed her cheek in thanks and wiped away both their tears. He knew they would be having a long talk about this later, but he didn't mind. Then he lifted an arm, holding it out to the phoenix, who sprang aloft with a song of happiness.
“Let's show this pretty girl to the family,” he said.
Hermione nodded and they walked into the house.
Luna watched for a moment longer before returning to her own house. Someday, she'd tell Hermione about the bond that existed between all three of them. And someday, she'd also tell them about the life extending properties of her vaccine nanites, too.
But for now, she was content to know that Hermione would help Harry, and the phoenix would help them all.
OR IS IT?
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