Happily Ever After
With huge thanks to Kokopelli, Gardengirl, Ishtar and Greywizard for their hard work and encouragement.
Disclaimer: Some of the first part is taken directly from the Goblet Of Fire and is used without permission.
Harry felt his feet slam into the ground and his injured leg gave way. He fell forward, letting go of the Triwizard Cup at last. He raised his head.
"Where are we?" he said.
Cedric shook his head. He got up, pulled Harry to his feet, and they looked around.
They had left the Hogwarts grounds completely — they had obviously travelled miles, perhaps hundreds of miles, for even the mountains surrounding the castle were gone. They were standing instead in a dark and overgrown graveyard. The black outline of a small church was visible beyond a large yew tree to their right, and a hill rose above them to their left. Harry could just make out the outline of a fine old house on the hillside.
Cedric looked down at the Triwizard Cup and then up at Harry.
"Did anyone tell you the cup was a Portkey?" he asked.
"Nope," said Harry, looking around the graveyard. It was completely silent and slightly eerie. "Is this supposed to be part of the task?"
"I dunno," said Cedric. He sounded slightly nervous. "Wands out, d'you reckon?"
"Yeah," said Harry, glad that Cedric had made the suggestion rather than him.
They pulled out their wands. Harry kept looking around him. He had, yet again, the strange feeling that they were being watched.
"Someone's coming," he said suddenly.
Squinting tensely through the darkness, they watched the figure drawing nearer, walking steadily toward them between the graves. Harry couldn't make out a face, but from the way it was walking and holding its arms, he could tell that it was carrying something. Whoever it was, he was short, and wearing a hooded cloak pulled up over his head to obscure his face. And — several paces nearer, the gap between them closing all the time — Harry saw that the thing in the person’s arms looked like a baby … or was it merely a bundle of robes?
Harry lowered his wand slightly and glanced sideways at Cedric. Cedric shot him a quizzical look. They both turned back to watch the approaching figure.
It stopped beside a towering marble headstone, only six feet from them. For a second, Harry and Cedric and the short figure simply looked at one another.
And then, without warning, Harry's scar exploded with pain.
It was agony such as he had never felt in all his life. His wand slipped from his fingers as he put his hands over his face. His knees buckled, and he fell to the ground and could see nothing at all. His head felt as if it were about to split open.
From far away, above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, "Kill the spare."
A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words to the night:
Acting on instinct, Harry dived to the right, crashing into Cedric’s legs, knocking the boy to the floor. Harry yelped as the pain in his legs flared.
"That was the Dark Lord," Cedric cried, his eyes wide in shock.
"Not quite," the high pitched voice said, "but soon, soon I will be. You missed, Wormtail, you incompetent fool."
"I’m sorry, Master," the voice that had cast the spell snivelled.
"Wormtail?" Cedric whispered, a scared look on his face.
"My parents’ betrayer," Harry muttered as he scrabbled his fingers through the lank grass, searching for his wand. "You wouldn’t know a healing charm, would you?" There it was!
Cedric nodded and muttered under his breath, pointing his wand at Harry’s leg.
"Well," the thing in Wormtail’s arms said. "I’m sure my servant won’t miss again. Kill him."
"Accio Cup!" Harry yelled, pointing at the Triwizard Cup. It flew toward him, but as it was about to bump into him, he was pulled back by a curse; he watched with a sigh as Cedric caught it automatically and the Hufflepuff and the Cup both vanished.
Harry rose to his feet and shook his head, trying to clear his mind. He concentrated, repeating a mantra that the pain was nothing, over and over again. His wand rose shakily to point at Wormtail.
"How sweet," Voldemort hissed. "The boy is trying to fight me. Capture him."
Wormtail cast a spell directly at Harry, who dove to one side and returned a blasting spell.
"Die!" Harry yelled at the person responsible for his parents’ deaths.
Wormtail ducked in turn, and the spell missed him, striking a stone cauldron which split in two, splashing a silver-tinted fluid everywhere.
"No!" Voldemort yelled in anguish.
"Master, I’m sorry," Wormtail said, falling to his knees.
Harry didn’t hesitate and sent another curse, a stunner, at Wormtail. This one hit him cleanly, knocking him out. Voldemort fell out of Wormtail’s arms and hit the ground with a cry of distress. The pain in Harry’s head faded to a manageable level almost immediately.
Harry walked over and looked down at Voldemort, who was tangled in the dark fabric of the robes. He appeared like a baby crossed with a snake, twisted and scaly.
A hissing sound attracted Harry’s attention, and he swung, a cutting curse on his lips before he could think.
The curse hit a large snake, decapitating it instantly.
"No!" Voldemort yelled again, this time with an undercurrent of pain in his voice.
Harry looked down at him, relieved that Voldemort looked the way that he did. Harry would have no reservations about killing this thing.
"This is for my parents," he muttered as he cast what he hoped to be the last spell.
Voldemort’s hand reached out; grasping the wand that Wormtail had dropped. "Imperio," he whispered weakly.
The spell Harry cast collided with Voldemort’s spell, connecting the two wizards with a golden light.
Harry frowned and pushed more magic into the spell, trying to make it touch Voldemort.
The golden beam split into several strands of light, although the wands were still connected, and a golden cage of light surrounded them.
Without warning, a shape appeared from tip of the wand in Voldemort’s childlike hand and a ghostly something emerged from its tip, the dense shadow of a head, quickly followed by arms and torso, assembling into an old man Harry had seen only in a dream. His ghost, or his shadow, or whatever it was, stood up and surveyed Harry and Voldemort, and the golden web, and the connected wands, with mild surprise, leaning on his walking stick.
"He was a real wizard, then?" the old man said, his eyes on Voldemort. "Killed me, that one did… You fight him, boy."
But already, yet another head was emerging; this head, gray as a smoky statue, was a woman's. Harry, both arms shaking now as he fought to keep his wand still, saw her drop to the ground and straighten up like the other, staring.
The shadow of Bertha Jorkins surveyed the battle before her with wide eyes.
"Don't let go, now!" she cried, and her voice echoed as though from very far away. "Don't you let him go, Harry — don't let go!"
She began to pace around the inner walls of the golden web as Frank’s shadow joined her, both whispering words of encouragement to Harry.
The smoky shadow of a young woman with long hair fell to the ground as Bertha had done, straightened up, and looked at him ... and Harry; his arms shaking madly now, looked into the ghostly face of his mother.
"Your father's coming ..." she said quietly. "He wants to see you ... it will be all right, Harry... hold on...."
And he came, first his head, then his body. Tall and untidy-haired like Harry, the smoky, shadowy form of James Potter blossomed from the end of Voldemort's wand, fell to the ground, and straightened to stand next to his wife. He walked close to Harry, looking down at him, and he spoke in the same distant, echoing voice as the others, but quietly, so that Voldemort, his face now livid with fear as his victims prowled around him, could not hear.... "Hold on son, hold on, and listen to your mother!"
Harry nodded and took a deep breath. He could feel Voldemort trying to break the connection, but he wouldn’t let him, not now. "I won’t let you down, Dad — not now I’ve got you back."
"We are not really here," James said sadly. "We are but echoes of the people we were, but even then, we are so proud of you, my boy. Of the life you have led and what you have done." He paused for a second. "Although I am a tad disappointed. I would have liked more pranks while you were at school," he finished with a wink.
"My beautiful son," his mother whispered. "I am so very proud of you. We are here to help you end this."
"I was trying to kill him," Harry said in confusion.
Lily smiled sadly. "You would have merely delayed him, Harry. He has separated his soul — look."
Harry looked carefully at Voldemort. Four shimmering silver beams of energy seemed to shoot out from the centre of his body. Three went in different directions, while the fourth went from Voldemort’s heart to Harry’s forehead.
"You need to snip the links, Harry. Once you do that, he can be killed."
"How?" Harry asked, almost unwilling to look at the beams. He didn’t want to lose a second of time with his parents.
"Reach out, darling, reach out with your magic and cut the threads. You already cut one of the links when you killed the snake."
Harry nodded and did as his mother commanded, reaching out to his left, snipping the first strand he reached.
Voldemort wailed in agony, and Harry smiled.
"Well done," Lily said, beaming with pride. It was an expression that filled Harry with warmth. "Make sure that you do the one connected to you last, as that is the most important one."
Harry nodded, and made quick work of snapping the other two. Each time he did, Voldemort cried out and the connection between them weakened.
"It’s been a privilege," Bertha said, as she bowed in front of him. "Seeing him meet his end like this, at the hands of a fourteen year old boy, makes everything worthwhile. Thank you, Harry."
She moved away, and Frank Bryce approached him, echoing her sentiments.
"Harry," James said. "When you’re done here, you will have access to our vaults. I want you to spend the money on wine, women and pranks, and waste the rest. You’ve earned a lifetime’s worth of luxury for what you have done today. Make Remus get some new clothes, and get Sirius to teach you how to be an Animagus."
"I will, Dad."
"I love you, never forget that," James whispered.
Harry nodded, tears running down his face, trying to listen to his father and focus on keeping Voldemort pinned with the beam between the wands at the same time.
James took a step backward.
"I always wondered what you would look like when you were older," Lily whispered. "My beautiful boy is already a man. Your father is right, Harry. Live life from now on. Do what you will. I know you will never be hurtful or cruel. Have fun, help people when you can, but know that you have done more than any one else could have. You have defeated the Dark Lord for the final time.
"I can’t tell you what it was like carrying you inside me — I had a wonderful, visible proof of the love that your father and I shared. And you were everything I ever wanted, and so much more. I couldn’t be prouder of you — every expectation we ever had of you, you have exceeded.
"I love you, Harry James Potter, we both love you, and not once did we ever regret protecting you. You have lived up to our memories and so much more. Do not ever let anyone tell you otherwise."
"I won’t," Harry whispered.
Lily moved forward and he felt himself embraced by ghostly arms.
"As you cut the last thread, it will hurt," Lily whispered. "And we will disappear forever, but Voldemort will be dead."
"I don’t want you to go."
"I know," James said, putting his arm around his wife. "But we still live through you. Everything you do will make us proud and you will know that we will always be watching you." He paused. "Except when you start dating and get to the heavy side of things, then we’ll give you some privacy."
Harry laughed through his tears.
Lily looked proudly at James and kissed him on the cheek.
Harry smiled at his parents and took a deep breath.
"I love you. I miss you terribly."
"We love you," James and Lily said in unison.
"Not goodbye, only farewell for now," Lily whispered.
"And it should be a bloody long time before we meet again," James added, although the tears running down his face belied his light words.
Lily elbowed James firmly in the stomach.
Harry smiled; somehow seeing his parents, acting like that was the thing he needed just before finishing this.
He took a deep breath and cut the thread.
The pain smacked into him, but it was nothing compared to the agony of watching his parents fade out of view.
Voldemort shrieked as a final surge of energy streamed through the spell connection between them, and his wand exploded in his hand. The golden cage began to dissipate. Before it went entirely, Harry raised his wand and pointed it at the twisted creature one final time. "This ends now," he whispered. "Reducto!" There was an explosion and Harry went flying backward; his head connected sharply with a tombstone, and he knew no more.
The Portkey slammed Cedric to the ground at the edge of the maze, and he barely kept his footing. A babble of sound rose, and cheers from the Hufflepuff stands, where his Housemates assumed he’d won the Tournament and started celebrating. Headmaster Dumbledore, however, knew instantly that something was wrong, and hushed the crowd
"Cedric," the Headmaster said. "Where is Harry?"
Cedric blinked and raised his wand to his throat.
"Listen up," he yelled, a Sonorous charm ensuring that everyone could hear him. "We were taken by a Portkey to a cemetery. Someone called Wormtail was there, as was V-V-V-Voldemort."
There were shrieks of fear from the audience. "I saw Voldemort," he repeated, suddenly unafraid of the name. "He tried to kill me, but Harry saved my life!" He looked about frantically. "Harry is duelling Voldemort right now! We have to help him."
"The Dark Lord is not back," Minister Fudge retorted, fingering his bowler hat.
"Are you calling my son a liar?" Amos Diggory hissed as he walked over to Cedric and towered over the rotund politician.
"I would be dead if it wasn’t for Harry, you slime ball," Cedric yelled.
Fudge took a step back from the angry young wizard and his father.
"Point me, Harry Potter," Cedric called, throwing his wand in the air. The wand pointed southwest.
"Accio Nimbus!" Cedric yelled. "I’m going to find Harry and help him before it’s too late."
"Wait," Dumbledore shouted. He was suddenly radiating magic and authority. "Order, to me. I’ve dropped the anti-Apparition wards."
Next to Dumbledore, several of the Professors appeared, followed by former Professor Lupin, some of the Weasleys, and a number of people Cedric had never seen before. A black dog bounded out of the stands, moving next to Dumbledore, who absently stroked him.
"We know Harry is that way," Albus stated. "Fifteen mile Apparation, keep going until we fin…"
"Look," a bald headed man in an Auror’s uniform shouted, pointing to a bright magical light in the distance.
"Everyone," Albus snapped, "Apparate to the light"
Albus vanished, as did the group standing next to him, including Fudge. Large portions of the adult crowd vanished as well.
Cedric whispered, "We’re coming, Harry, don’t die," as he focused on the distant glow and Apparated.
It was the longest he’d ever managed to go in one jump, and he arrived to see a large crowd of wizards standing around, staring at something inside a golden dome.
"See the face of the Dark Lord," Dumbledore’s voice rang out, "see what Harry has reduced him to!"
In the centre of a golden dome was an ugly scaly creature the size of a baby. From its hand, a golden beam connected with Harry; from its body, two silver lines emanated.
Dumbledore walked over to the dome and started to cast some spells. He gasped loudly. "I don’t believe it," he muttered. He turned to face everyone. In a loud voice, he said, "Those silver lines are connections to Voldemort’s Horcruxes. They are containers for Voldemort’s soul, which was why he didn’t die the first time that Harry defeated him."
Cedric watched as Voldemort wailed in agony as the second to last strand was cut.
"Come on, Harry," Dumbledore called in excitement. "You can do it!"
"Go on, Harry," Cedric found himself yelling in encouragement. He could hardly believe that he was present at Voldemort’s death, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
There was some cheering, as they watched Harry’s mouth move, and the connection between the Dark Lord and Harry seemed to weaken.
"Go on, get him," one of the Wizards shouted. "You can do it, Harry."
Almost like at a Quidditch match, others took up the shouts, entreating Harry to continue to fight, to free them from the tyranny of Voldemort.
There was a loud bang and a sense of pure evil washed over them for a second.
Severus Snape and Mad-Eye Moody both yelled in pain and collapsed, each clutching their left arms.
Cedric watched in horror as Harry flew back, colliding against a headstone. The light of the golden dome flickered and then went out.
No one moved for a second. Then Dumbledore ran, with speed surprising for an old man, into the center of the blasted cemetery, and cast a diagnostic spell on what remained of the ruined body. "Voldemort is dead," he announced loudly, before running over to Harry. He was the second person to arrive at Harry’s side.
The cheers from the crowd were tempered with worry for the boy they had just seen do the impossible.
Cedric knelt by the two fallen professors. Before his eyes, Moody seemed to change.
"Professor McGonagall," he called.
McGonagall moved over to him and gasped in shock. "Barty Crouch, Junior," she whispered. "But how …?"
"Is he dead?" he asked.
She reached down and touched his neck, before nodding.
"Professor Snape too?"
She nodded again and sighed.
Cedric looked down, "Snape was a Death Eater?"
"There’s another one dead over here," someone shouted.
Cedric rushed over, checking the body’s left arm, pushing one of the Aurors out of his way. It too had a Dark Mark.
Cedric looked up. "Harry’s defeated the Death Eaters all at one go," he shouted in glee. "We’re free. He won!"
The cheer that went up was the loudest that had been heard for thirteen years, and was the start of a party the like of which had never been seen.
But for a certain group of people, the party never really happened.
In fact, it never really even began
Harry was moved carefully from the site of his victory to the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts, but nothing Madam Pomfrey could do caused him to wake. The Weasleys, all of them, along with Dumbledore, McGonagall, Cedric, Cho, Fleur and her sister, kept vigil and waited for the Boy-Who-Lived to wake up from his coma.
They would have a very long wait.
Colloportus: Make a flick with your wand and shout; it will lock any door…
Skunkruck was the leader of the first Goblin revolution…
Transfiguring a piece of wood into a chair is a relatively simple…
The Cannons have a new Seeker and have actually managed to win a few…
I’m a free man, Harry, and it’s almost like the…
We’ve got jobs at the Ministry, seems weird, doesn’t it…
I’m getting married soon, to Fleur…
Horcruxes are very dark magic, and a way of splitting your…
Mimbulus mimbletonia resembles a small grey cactus…
Now, to cook an omelette, you start with…
I did it; I got the highest marks…
We won the house cup again, not that we really care…
We’re in love, we’re getting married …
The legislative body of the Wizengamot…
The best way to kiss is to…
The first thing he felt was a pair of lips against his and a weight on his chest. Automatically, he slid his arms up and held the weight against him and began to kiss back. It was awkward at first, but he felt like he picked it up quickly, as he kept his lips firm and matched her movements with his own. A distant part of his newly conscious mind sincerely hoped that this was a girl.
He could feel her wiggle against him, and as it was a movement he wanted her to do again, he lightly moved his tongue against her lips. He didn’t have a clue who he was kissing, but had no desire to stop and actually find out. This was a lot of fun and even the slightly strange taste in his mouth didn’t put him off.
Eventually, the form pulled away, breathing hard.
"What do I have to do to get woken up like that again?" he asked breathlessly.
The girl giggled.
"Play your cards right, and I’ll see what I can do," she replied, with just a hint of an accent.
He opened his eyes slowly, somewhat relieved that the kisser was indeed a girl. He smiled as the girl shifted, sitting over his stomach, and he swallowed a gulp. She wasn’t just a girl; she was an incredibly beautiful girl. She had long blonde hair with a touch of silver to it, the cutest button nose, lips that looked slightly swollen and in need of another kiss, and the deepest brown eyes he’d ever had the privilege to look into.
"You are beautiful," he whispered as he tried to work out who she was. She looked a little like Fleur.
"Thank you," she said with a grin. "You’re not so bad yourself."
The girl looked to be around sixteen or seventeen, and he felt his eyes go wide as he looked down. She was wearing a white button-up shirt that did very little to hide the fact that puberty had been very kind to her.
"Wow," he whispered.
The girl laughed. "Play your cards right," she repeated, "and maybe you’ll get to see more."
That promise had an instant effect on a part of his anatomy, causing him to blush. "Whatever game you name, I’ll study hard - so I can win," he promised.
Her delighted laughter echoed around the room.
"Not to put a dampener on what has been my best awakening in hospital yet, but, erm, who are you?" He looked around the room and realised that he wasn’t actually in the Hospital Wing, as he’d expected. The bed was a hospital bed, true, but the room was obviously a private bedroom, with several comfortable chairs, presumably for visitors, drawn up near the bed. The lamps in the room were lit and it was dark outside the windows.
The girl frowned softly and reached to one side. She pulled her arm back and presented him with a small bottle. "This is a calming potion," she whispered. "Take it; you’re going to need it."
He looked at her, and then the bottle, and then further down at his chest. He blinked, realized he could see the pattern on his pyjama tops clearly although he wasn’t wearing his glasses, and took half the potion quickly. He felt it slide down his throat, filling him with a warmth that was nowhere near as effective as one of the kisses from the girl in front of him.
The girl took a deep breath. "You are in Hogwarts, in rooms that have been assigned to you. It’s eleven in the evening on Monday the thirteenth of September, in the year two thousand and two."
He blinked again, unsure what else he should be doing.
"And my name is Gabrielle Delacour."
Harry nodded slowly. "This I why I needed the calming potion, right?"
She nodded. "I suspect you would not be taking this lying down if you did not."
He grinned suddenly. "I dunno, lying down seems pretty good right now."
She grinned back. "Do you remember defeating Voldemort?"
He nodded. "I cut the links to his soul, but the last one was connected to me. It hurt a lot to cut it. Then I blasted him."
"When you hit him with the blasting curse, it caused an explosion. You flew backwards, hitting a tombstone which knocked you unconscious. You’ve been in a coma ever since."
"For eight years?"
He moved, and she slid off him. He sat up and walked to a mirror and looked at himself. The face he saw was not the same face that he had seen that morning. This face looked like it would need to be shaved on a regular basis. His body was not the same either; he appeared to have grown up successfully while unconscious.
Gabrielle looked at her watch and winced. "Now’s probably not the right time to mention this, but I was only able to disable the monitoring wards for thirty minutes, and that time is almost up. The whole planet is going to go insane when it finds out its hero is awake."
Harry rolled his eyes. "So, we should get out of here then?"
"Asking me to elope, already?"
Harry nodded. "Okay, you’re beautiful, a great kisser, and you’ve somehow managed to wake me. I saved you a few years ago, so we’re even, right? I think this is a great way to start a relationship."
Gabrielle giggled again, a tinkling sound that reminded him of water tumbling over rocks.
"You make it sound so tempting," she confessed. "But if you move out of this room, the whole of Hogwarts will lock down."
"Damn," Harry pouted. "So, I could spend the next few minutes asking questions…"
"Or…?" Gabrielle asked.
"Or I could kiss you again."
"Screw the questions," he smirked as he moved back over to the bed, and climbed in. Gabrielle instantly straddled his waist again.
"My, my," she whispered as she scooted down. "Someone’s a big boy."
Harry blushed again, but that didn’t stop him from kissing her thoroughly once more.
It was only the blaring of a fanfare that stopped him.
"That’s the alarm, right?" he muttered against her lips.
"Yes," she sighed.
"No more kissing?"
"Not until you’re answered a few questions, and I’ve been royally told off for breaking every rule on my first day here."
Harry grinned and shifted to one side. "So, if you won’t elope with me, can we at least go out together?"
"I didn’t say I wouldn’t elope," she pointed out, "only that it would lock Hogwarts down. And yes, I’ll go out with you."
"Excellent," he said cheerfully, mentally sending out a â€˜Yes!’ to his father, along with an image of the now-grown-up Gabrielle.
"How long does this calming thing last for?"
"If you drink the rest, it will last the remainder of the evening."
Harry instantly downed the last of it. "Well, do you want to be famous?"
"I’m Gabrielle Delacour. I already am," she said.
"You’re about to get a lot more famous, then," Harry smirked as he shifted to one side. "Sit."
She nodded and sat next to him.
As the door opened he sank back down and closed his eyes.
"Miss Delacour," Albus almost roared, "what do you think you are doing?"
"I’m," he heard Gabrielle start to say, and he felt he could just detect a hint of humour in her voice.
Harry could almost detect more people entering the room.
"Gabrielle!" a voice he did remember shouted, before launching into a furious diatribe in French.
"What’s going on?" a voice that sounded like Hermione demanded. "I felt the wards going off and used the emergency Portkey!"
"We were just going to find out," Albus’ voice cut through the general chatter.
"What, exactly, are you doing, Miss Delacour?"
Harry slowly reached out and touched her leg, wanting her to pause.
"I’m…" she said, and this time he could hear the laughter.
"This is not ze laughing matter," Fleur yelled.
"I dunno," Harry said sleepily as he opened his eyes and sat up. "I think it’s pretty funny."
There was an absolute silence in the room. Now that his eyes were open, he could see the Weasleys were all there, looking a lot older, as were Padfoot and Moony, and Professor McGonagall.
A wicked idea sprang to mind as he spotted his wand on the table beside the bed. There was a clear pathway between him and the doorway. He carefully took Gabrielle’s hand. She seemed to know what he was thinking, as she shifted.
Around the room, everyone was staring at him; some of them were opening and closing their mouths like fish, but no words were coming out.
"Now!" he yelled, as he grabbed his wand and leapt out of bed, making a run for it, dragging Gabrielle with him — not that there was much dragging involved, for she was moving as fast as he was.
They exploded out of the door before anyone else could move. He turned, slammed the door shut, and shouted "Colloportus." The door slammed shut with a strange squelching sound.
"That will only slow them down for a minute," said Harry. "We need to go somewhere."
"Where?" Gabrielle asked.
"Maybe Dumbledore’s office? Although it’s not really public enough."
Gabrielle giggled again. "It is the last place they’d look, though?"
There was a muffled sound from the other side of the door. "Run!"
Still laughing, the two of them sprinted down the corridor.
"Where are we?" Harry asked. He’d never seen this part of the castle before.
"Professors’ quarters," Gabrielle replied. "You’ll recognize things once we get around this corner."
They both ran around it and skidded to a halt. Gathered before them seemed to be the entire student population of Hogwarts.
"Bugger," Harry muttered.
"Too right," Gabrielle agreed.
He heard a door slam open behind them.
"Look, it’s the Goodyear Blimp," he shouted, pointing behind the students. Almost as one, the entire crowd turned to look.
He pulled Gabrielle to one side and they vanished down a corridor. "I can’t believe that worked," he panted as they ran. As they got to the Entrance Hall, the doors to Hogwarts slammed shut.
Harry shrugged, escaping wouldn’t be anywhere as near as fun as what he had in mind. He guided them into the Great Hall and locked the doors. "Not quite Dumbledore’s office, but … Are you shy?"
"What?" Gabrielle asked, as she tried to control her laughter.
"Shy, modest, you know, wouldn’t want anyone to see you in your bra?"
She shook her head. "Not even slightly. Why?"
There was a thump at the door.
"Take your shirt off, quick," he ordered as he pulled her over to the Hufflepuff table, which was nearest to the door.
Gabrielle shrugged and did exactly that.
"Bloody hell," Harry whispered. "You are gorgeous!" He’d never seen a woman that looked this good before, although admittedly, his experience with brassieres was limited to the times he’d done Petunia’s laundry, and they hadn’t been anywhere near as lacy.
Gabrielle grinned at him and deliberately shrugged her shoulders. "Now what?"
"You promise to do that again without a bra?" he asked.
"Your cards right, I know," he interrupted with a teasing grin. He lifted Gabrielle onto the table with ease, and laid her flat on her back. Crawling on top of her, he lowered himself so that his chest was touching hers. "Perfect," he whispered.
"Forget the card game," Gabrielle muttered, "just kiss me."
Harry laughed and did that, as the noise against the door increased in volume. "Having fun?"
"The most that I can remember," Gabrielle whispered against his lips. "Do you know what you’re doing?"
"My first line, yes. Everything else after that, not got a clue. I’m planning on just winging it."
"That’s what I wanted to hear."
Gabrielle’s legs had somehow ended up wrapped around him, and as he looked down, he could see that her knickers matched her bra. This was getting better and better.
There was a resounding crack and the doors to the Great Hall disintegrated. Behind them, Albus Dumbledore was radiating magic. Next to him, with their wands raised, were the same people who had been in his bedroom, and behind them was an even larger crowd of students and Professors.
"Do you mind?" Harry drawled casually. "We were trying to have a private snog, and as gorgeous as Gabbi is, I’m not about to show her off to the vaguely curious, so if you would just please leave, we’ll get back to what we were doing."
He could feel Gabrielle shake with laughter under him as they looked at the dumbfounded expressions on faces of their audience.
"Fred," a lone voice asked. "Have we ever pulled a looker like that?"
"No, George," another voice replied. "Nor have we been caught quite like this in front of the entire school, although we did come close a time or two."
"Good times," George sighed.
"Indeed," Fred agreed. "Damn, but it’s good to have you back, Harry."
Harry grinned at them. "I’d shake your hands, but, well, they’re occupied at the moment."
"Oh, we understand," George grinned, "however, I don’t think you’re going to be able to get away again."
"George," Harry pointed out slowly. "Getting away was never the plan. I wanted to prank the entire school!"
There was thud to one side as Sirius dropped to his knees and started to laugh hysterically, tears pouring out of his eyes.
Fred and George were the next to laugh, closely followed by Ron, Charlie, Bill, and Ginny.
Some of the students started to laugh as well, and even Professor McGonagall was smiling widely. Hermione was still glaring at him, even if her lips were twitching, but it was Professor Dumbledore who reassured him the most. His eyes were twinkling like never before.
Harry smiled and waited until the laughter showed a sign of slowing, "Okay," he shouted. "Everyone about-face; I’m the only person who gets to see my girlfriend topless!"
Dumbledore nodded and turned around, and he stared at everyone else until they did the same.
Harry reluctantly rolled off Gabrielle and helped her up. She reached for her shirt and moved it over her shoulders.
"May I?" Harry asked.
Gabrielle smirked at him and removed her hands, allowing him to do the buttons.
"I’ve never done this before," he whispered with a wink, as he managed to accidentally rub the back of his fingers over her chest.
"And you’re sticking to that excuse?"
"Damn right," he agreed. "Ready to face the firing squad?"
"You’re not going to leave me, now, are you?" he asked softly.
"Only if you want me to."
"I don’t," he grinned. "Is that going to cause problems?"
"With me? No. For them? Probably."
"Excellent." He leaned against the table and took her in his arms.
"Okay, you all can turn around again," Harry announced. "So, Sirius, you’re looking remarkably mature, what the hell happened to you? Remus, you look like a lawyer, please tell me you’ve not joined the Dark Side. And Professor Dumbledore, purple? Where are your polka dots?" Harry grinned and pointed his wand at the Headmaster, casting another spell. The Headmaster’s robes turned a shade of fluorescent yellow with black stripes.
Gabrielle whispered in his ear, and he grinned and cast another spell to make the stripes rotate.
"If I hadn’t heard Fred and George talking earlier, I’d swear that they all lost the ability to speak in the last eight years," Harry said casually to Gabrielle.
"They were quite ready to shout at me earlier," she reminded him.
"Oh, yeah. Oh, and I was going to make you more famous, wasn’t I?"
He grinned and hopped onto the table, looking at the people behind his old friends and professors.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll be delirious to know that I’ve finally awakened from my little nap, and that without the help of the gorgeous Gabrielle Delacour, I’d still be sleeping away the finest years of my life. However, as you can all guess, I’ve been out of the loop, and would like an evening to catch up with my nearest and dearest, so I hope you won’t mind if we leave you for now. We’ll have plenty of time to make friends in the morning, so if you’ll excuse us." He pointed at the bits of door and shouted "Reparo!"
The door flew back into one piece and blocked the outside again, to audible groans from the students. Only the Headmaster’s group had actually stepped inside the Great Hall.
Harry dropped down to sit on the table and pulled Gabrielle around to sit in front of him. He leant a little on her, drawing strength from her presence.
"So," he said to the still quiet group in front of him. "Anyone want to tell me just what the hell has been going on for the last eight years?"
"Harry? Is it really you?" Hermione asked slowly.
"If it’s not, I hope they catch the other guy quick, before he writes my name on a lot of checks."
"But…" Ron said, only to stop and gape at him again.
"What they are trying to say," Gabrielle said with a tone that made it clear she was rolling her eyes, "is that they never thought that you would awaken again, and that if you did, you’d lie in bed like a good little boy and let them all get used to the idea."
"So you’re saying that the escaping, the pranking, and the kissing wasn’t what was expected?"
"Okay. Can we go back to the kissing while they adjust themselves?"
"NO!" Fleur’s voice rang out. "No more kissing!"
Harry pouted at her. "Hey, I saved her life once, doesn’t that mean she owes me some sort of Wizarding debt?" he asked.
"I hadn’t thought of that," Gabrielle replied. "Oh, Harry," she said dramatically, her left hand going to her chest. "Take me - I’m yours." Her mock swoon was perfectly executed.
"STOP IT!" Hermione roared.
Harry looked at her. "Do you think it’s the grey hair that’s making her grumpy?" he asked the room at large.
"Harry James Potter!" Hermione yelled.
"Sirius Tiberius Black," Harry yelled.
"Yes?" Sirius asked. "Wait, my name isn’t Tiberius, and why am I being shouted at?"
"Oh, I thought we were playing a game," Harry said innocently. "I thought you’d pick someone next."
"Oh, right. Remus Argyle Lupin!"
Hermione cast a spell at Sirius that he dodged by diving to the floor, and yelled, "The next person to say anything gets cursed!"
Everyone went silent.
"Harry," she whispered at him.
"How are you feeling?"
"Do you know what year it is?"
He nodded again.
"How do you feel about that?"
He looked at her, a little frustrated, as he tried to work out how to answer her.
"Hermione," Professor Dumbledore said quietly.
Hermione turned and glared at him. She looked at his robes, shuddered, and cast a spell to put them back to the way they were before. "Yes?"
"You might want to allow Harry to speak," he pointed out gently. "You did say you’d curse him if he said anything."
Hermione blushed bright red and turned back to Harry. "You can speak now."
"Thank you," he said quietly. "I’m fine at the moment."
"How can you be fine!?"
"Because my very new, very beautiful, very smart, sexy, intelligent girlfriend obviously planned ahead, and fed me a calming potion before telling me anything."
"Oh," Hermione said quietly. "That was a good idea."
Gabrielle snorted eloquently.
"I’ll bet you have a few questions," Hermione said.
"More than a few," Harry agreed. "But at the moment, I’m a little wary of, well, all of you. You all look a lot older than I remember, and that should be really freaking me out at the moment, so, I’d appreciate if we keep the hugging to a minimum."
"You don’t see to have that problem with Gabrielle," Fleur pointed out.
"True," Harry agreed.
"It makes sense though," Hermione said thoughtfully. "She is part-Veela and they are descended from birds, a long time ago. When she woke Harry up, she probably reverse imprinted on him somehow, causing him to trust her more than anyone else."
Harry could see the others nod slowly.
"Gabrielle, how could you?" Fleur asked, deep disappointment in her voice.
"Whoa," Harry interrupted. "Hermione, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
"What?" Ron asked, looking blank. "You want to smoke?"
"Haven’t you got him out of that habit yet?" Harry asked Hermione.
Ron slowly started to blush.
"It means," Harry continued in a dry tone of voice, "that Hermione is reading far too much into this. Look, when I woke up there was this gorgeous girl kissing me. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve not had enough gorgeous girls wake me that I’m blasÃ© about it. As she was the one that woke me, and was prepared for my questions, I made the decision to trust her, and besides, have you taken a good look at her?"
"She is not a piece of meat, Harry," Fleur said primly.
Gabrielle snorted again. "Says the old maid," she muttered.
Harry grinned and hugged her tighter to him. "So, being about eight years behind schedule, I decided not to waste any time worrying about little things and got the girlfriend thing nailed down first. I think that has to be a record, coma to girlfriend in less than four minutes, but hey, someone had to do it.
"But, I am now getting hungry, so let’s talk and eat," he suggested.
"Great idea," Ron agreed.
"Just one more thing," Harry said. "To all of you, I might have been gone for eight years, but to me, it was just yesterday, so I have no real need to reconnect with any of you at the moment. I suspect when this potion wears off, I’ll start to get really freaked by the rings on Hermione and Ron’s hands, and the way Fleur seems draped over Bill, and even the way that girl whose hair keeps changing colour seems to be hanging on to Moony’s hand for dear life. But as it is, what surprises me most is that Snape isn’t here, dragging everyone down with his vampiric demeanour and tombstone teeth."
"I’m afraid that all the marked Death Eaters died with Voldemort," Albus Dumbledore said quietly.
"I killed Snape?" Harry demanded in shock.
"I’m afraid so," Hermione said gently.
"All right!" Harry yelled as he jumped off the table. "That one’s for you, Dad," he shouted in glee, before grabbing Gabrielle and waltzing her around the Great Hall, relishing the way she moulded her body to his, put her arms around his neck, and let him lead.
He finished with a dramatic dip and looked over at the expressions on the faces of the others. They ranged from highly amused to mildly disappointed.
"So," he said, "anyone want to explain why I can cast spells I never learned, and just how I seem to have grown several inches, why my chest has muscles I’ve never seen before, why said muscles didn’t atrophy during my incapacitation, just why I seem to have swallowed a dictionary, why I don’t look twenty-three, why I don’t need my glasses anymore, and how I knew how to dance Gabrielle around the room, when the last time I checked, I couldn’t dance my way out of a paper bag?"
"You’re almost a lot more adventurous than I expected," Gabrielle added from her dipped position.
"Nah, I’ve always been adventurous," Harry grinned down at her. "You comfortable like that?"
"Not sure, it’s kinda nice being held up like this. Think you can keep holding me?"
She closed her eyes and let go of his neck to move her hands over her head, arching her back so that her hands brushed the floor, before she slowly raised her legs so that she was balanced on the arm he was using to support her.
"Gabrielle!" Fleur yelled.
She sighed and opened her eyes at Harry. "I trust you."
He nodded, not exactly sure what had happened there.
She rolled off his hand comfortably and stood, taking his hand. "I think it’s time to pay the piper," she sighed.
"How about I promise to tip him well tomorrow, and we go off and dance all night."
She laughed and shook her head. "It’s not fair to the others."
"I guess," he sighed. "Dobby?"
"Harry Potter sir is AWAKE!" the house-elf shouted as he appeared with a pop.
"And hungry," Harry agreed.
Dobby looked torn. Harry took pity on the elf and dropped to his knees, holding out his hands.
Dobby hugged him tightly, sobbing against him.
"It is good to see you again, Dobby," Harry said gently.
Dobby nodded fervently, too overcome with emotion to say anything.
"So, you think you could whip me up a large meal? You remember what I like, right?"
Dobby nodded furiously and blew his nose on the t-shirt he was wearing.
"Get a few of the other elves to bring up drinks and snacks for the others, but I want you to cook mine."
Dobby beamed with absolute pride, nodded and popped out.
Harry stood, absently taking Gabrielle’s hand again. "What?" he asked, at the looks he was receiving.
"They’re a little surprised about how you handled Dobby," Gabrielle said.
"I’m going to get irritated if they don’t start to talk for themselves soon. This lot here are human and capable of rational thought. They can empathize with what I am going through; Dobby can’t."
Gabrielle nodded and they walked to a table, sitting down comfortably.
"Okay, let’s start with Fleur. What are you doing here?"
"I married William," Fleur explained. "Three years ago."
"Congratulations to you both," Harry said calmly. "That explains the draping. So, Remus, who’s the insecure blonde?"
"This is my fiancÃ©e, Nymphadora Tonks."
"Don’t call me Nymphadora though, it’s just Tonks."
"Right," Harry nodded. "So, what have you got to be insecure about?"
"I’m a Metamorphmagus, not insecure."
"Right," Harry drawled again. "And hiding behind a mane of hair that keeps changing colours isn’t a sign of insecurity?"
Tonks shook her head no while she blushed, but her hair stopped changing colour.
"Thanks," Harry said. "The rapid changes were giving me a headache. So, Remus, are you one of those blood-sucking fiends?"
Remus laughed and shook his head. "It is damn good to see you awake, Harry. And no, I’m not a lawyer."
"Then you dress like that on purpose?" Harry asked. "Tonks, can’t you do anything about it?"
Tonks shook her head. "I kinda like it," she said.
Harry rolled his eyes. "So, Sirius, no hot chick?"
Sirius blinked and then shook his head. "Not one that I’d bring here," he grinned.
"So you’ve been cleared, right?"
He nodded. "I’m an Auror now," he said proudly. "Mind you, not that there’s much to police; you took care of that."
"One does what one can," Harry said, grinning. "We need to have a chat later; there are a few things I need from you in private."
Sirius grinned back and nodded.
"So," Harry continued, looking down at the group. "How are the cauldron bottoms, Percy?"
"Regulation thickness," Percy replied solemnly. "However, you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that I have recovered from my recto-cranial inversion."
Harry laughed and saluted Percy casually. "Still working at the Ministry?"
Percy nodded. "Fudge’s assistant."
"That tosser is still in charge?" Harry asked in disbelief.
"That is a longer discussion for another day," Dumbledore said quietly.
"Right," Harry agreed. "I think I need to perform my own emergency operation before someone bursts," he said as he released Gabrielle’s hand and walked over to Molly Weasley.
She looked at him for a second, before bursting into tears and hugging him tightly.
He lightly patted her back and winked at Mr Weasley. Mr Weasley smiled back at him and nodded.
"Air’s becoming an issue, Mrs Weasley," he said quietly into her ear.
She reluctantly released him and smiled through her tears. "Thank you."
"I live to serve," he said, before pausing. "Actually, that was the old Harry. I think I’ll need something else to live for now."
"Like what?" Sirius asked.
"I like the sound of â€˜Live to find out what Gabrielle’s clothes look like on my bedroom floor.’"
"Ohh, sounds delightful," Gabrielle agreed.
"Gabrielle!" Fleur shouted.
"Do I have a get-out-of-being-shouted-at-free card at the moment?" he asked.
"It does appear that way," Minerva McGonagall said slowly.
"Hey, Professor," Harry greeted her cheerfully. "You don’t look like you’ve aged a day, you look years younger."
"Why thank you, Harry," she replied, looking pleased.
"In fact, any younger and Gabbi wouldn’t stand a chance."
He let loose an internal whoop of joy as McGonagall blushed.
"Charlie," he greeted the next Weasley.
"Is it true what Ron said?" he asked.
"That your love for Dragons dares not speak its name?"
Charlie blinked and then shot a glare at Ron. "No!"
"Oh, I’m sure Ron’s had that sort of thing nagged out of him by now, right, Hermione?"
Hermione sighed deeply, although her lips were twitching.
"Fred, George, we’ll talk in private as well."
"Okay, Harry," they said in unison.
"Professor," Harry greeted the Headmaster.
"Still as nutty as a fruitcake?"
"Wonderful," he grinned. He turned to Ginny. "Wow, you grew up nice," he said. "And an engagement ring as well."
She nodded shyly. "Neville," she explained, as she blushed.
"Good for you," Harry said cheerfully. "So, I guess that just leaves you two," he said to Ron and Hermione. "The last I saw of you, Ron was being a jerk and you had only recently shown the entire school that you were female."
Ron and Hermione both blushed.
"So, married, huh?"
"Pay up," Harry turned and looked at the twins.
"We thought you’d,"
"You bet on us getting married?" Hermione demanded.
"In his first year," George said as he handed over a galleon.
"We thought you wouldn’t be able to stand Ron at all."
Harry smiled and hugged Hermione, who burst into tears. He smiled slightly and pulled Ron into the hug as well, letting them get rid of their emotions. He could hear some of the others sniffle as well.
As far as he was concerned, he’d closed his eyes and everyone had grown. Ron was now well over six feet tall, and even Hermione was closer to his height — and that was without mentioning the fact that she had way more curves than he remembered.
Not for the first time that night he mentally thanked Gabrielle for the calming draught, because without it, he’d be going seriously (or should that be, Sirius-ly? he wondered to himself) nuts about now.
With a loud pop, Dobby appeared with a tray covered in food, and every single one of Harry’s favourites was there. Other elves appeared carrying trays with snack food and drinks.
Harry gently broke away from his friends and walked back over to Gabrielle. "Thanks," he said to Dobby, who smiled massively, bowed until his nose almost touched the floor, and popped out.
He lightly took Gabrielle’s hand for a second and placed it on his leg, before he started to dig in, and it took nearly all of his willpower not to eat like Ron used to.
"Hermione," he said between bites. "Want to give me the Reader’s Digest version of what happened to me?"
She took a cup of tea and leaned against Ron — something that still slightly freaked him out, despite the calming potion.
"After Cedric returned and alerted us, Professor Dumbledore and most of the adults Apparated to the graveyard, and arrived in time to witness the end of your duel."
"Yeah, I was a bit lucky there," Harry agreed. "Priori Incantatem occurred and shadows of Voldemort’s victims ca… Okay, how the hell do I know that?"
Hermione blushed. "I’ll get there in a minute," she promised. "After Voldemort was pronounced dead, there was a rather large party for most of the country, apart from us. We couldn’t believe what you’d done, and that you were in coma.
"Professor Dumbledore bought you back to Hogwarts, where Poppy cast a lot of spells on you. You were in a magical coma and we couldn’t tell why. The bump you had on your head wasn’t enough to cause it."
"I had part of Tom’s soul forcibly ripped out of me; cheeky bastard was powering himself from my magic through the scar. When his Killing Curse backfired the first time, he had a microsecond to act, and that was what came to his mind.
"So when I was cutting the links to his soul, I made sure to do mine last."
Hermione’s eyes were wide. "Of course," she said. "The magical backlash would be unbelievably painful, especially as your body had grown used to the constant pressure."
"It made every curse I’d ever been under feel like a summer breeze," he agreed. "I put it all into that last Blasting Curse. I guess I overcooked it slightly."
"Anyway," Hermione continued. "We put you under a stasis spell while we tried to work out what was going on."
"So I was in a form of suspended animation?"
"Exactly," Hermione agreed. "We finally took you out two years ago when we hadn’t found anything. We felt that the only chance would be for you to wake up naturally, as every spell we had tried had failed."
Harry nodded and moved onto his second dish.
"I discovered a spell that would allow us to talk to your unconscious mind," she continued, looking away modestly. "So, those of us whom we trusted agreed to spend some time with you to see if we could teach you all the things that you’d missed."
"So that’s why I’m thinking that I know a better recipe for Cottage Pie? And why I seem to know exactly who the fourth Goblin leader during the second rebellion was?"
"Exactly," Hermione agreed.
"Who do I thank for the kissing instructions?"
Sirius raised his hand, closely followed by every male in the room, including Professor Dumbledore.
"And for the Kama Sutra instructions?"
"That would be us," Fred and George said.
Gabrielle stood and walked around the table, where she dropped a kiss on their cheeks. "Thank you," she said quietly.
Fred and George both blushed a violent Weasley red and looked down.
Harry laughed as Fleur glared at her younger sister.
"And we continued to wait," Hermione said softly. "While you were out of stasis, we made sure that you were as healthy as could be. We used potions to fix the problems of not moving for so long and to ensure you went through puberty properly, and we all visited you once a week to read and talk to you. We got on with our lives, but we never forgot you."
Harry smiled slowly. "Okay, let me just say that getting on with your lives is the best thing you could have done. If you hadn’t, I’d be kicking your arses now. But, thank you. I can remember hearing your voices when I was unconscious, and I appreciate it more than I can ever say. It’s going to be as big an adjustment for you as it will be for me. What happened with Riddle changed me -- for the better I hope, but we’ll have to wait and see on that."
He finished off the second dish and reached for a bowl of strawberries covered in ice cream. "So, in a nutshell I’m twenty-three, with the body of a seventeen year old, and the memories of a fourteen year old packed full with the accumulated knowledge of our side’s finest?"
Hermione nodded slowly. "I estimate that your mind is probably around the seventeen mark."
Harry nodded. "As is my confidence. Tempus!" The floating figures indicated that it was now close to one in the morning. "So, I think that before we break up for the evening, we need one more story."
"Yes," Hermione agreed as she glared at Gabrielle. "Just what did you do tonight?"
"What you all failed to do for the past eight years," she sniffed, "and just what I promised to do."
"You did," Fleur whispered in shock. "But you forgot…"
"I never forgot," Gabrielle said with an undertone of scorn in her voice. "I asked to help you."
"And we told you that you were too young," Hermione muttered. "There was nothing you could do to help."
"Exactly," Gabrielle agreed. "Fortunately, I’ve never been good at listening to other people. So while you were wandering down dead ends, I did my own research."
"Wait," Harry interrupted. "What promise?"
The more observant among you may have noticed that Gabrielle has brown eyes, not blue. Fear not, that will be explained later.