The students at school would not look me in the eye. Most moved away from me as I walked, afraid for some reason. Even my close friends were cautious around me. I didn't know what to tell them. It is what it is. One way or the other Voldemort and I were going to have our showdown on Christmas day of this year. It should draw quite a crowd.
I did my schoolwork as best I could but it was difficult when everyone kept staring at me, including the professors. The biggest shock though was when Dumbledore offered to duel me and help me prepare for the fight. There was no way I could turn him down. I welcomed whatever insight he had. Moreover, getting experience fighting someone of his power and skill should certainly be beneficial for going against Voldemort.
We used the Room of Requirement since it could meet any need we had. Professor Flitwick helped as well giving me pointers along with Dumbledore after we dueled. The only problem I could see was I never was able to beat Dumbledore and he claimed that Voldemort was likely better than he was now. They pretty much tied the last time they met. How then was I supposed to succeed?
Dumbledore told me something similar to what Grandfather had shared with me. He said that I had heart and a very strong will. He cautioned me about letting Tom convince me that I wasn't good enough to win. As long as I didn't give up, he said, the fight would not be over.
"Look for his weakness," Dumbledore advised.
"You've fought him. What's his weakness?"
"I have fought him on several occasions Harry and his weakness always changed so I had to search for it each time. I found one the last time we fought but he managed to break out of that anyway before I could finish him off. He's very powerful and knows how to use that power."
"How am I supposed to find a weakness?"
"Do not give up. Hang on and it will become apparent. Watch him carefully as you fight him. Perhaps he will show weakness to you that he would not with me."
"Why would you say that?"
"He will likely underestimate you and not be as worried about you winning. Use your amazing ability to move and your stamina to make him work hard to hit you. He will try to slow you down so he can get in his killing shot. You cannot let him do that. Do not let him dictate the fight. Make him change his strategy. Make him do what he doesn't want to do."
"By you not letting him have his way. If he has to work as hard as you do, then you should outlast him. You're younger and in better condition. He doesn't run around dodging spells like you. Like me, he is good enough to just stand there and block them. I think he believes it's beneath him to have to move out of the way. Personally, I'm just too old to move around much."
"I wish I knew what I have to do now, so I could prepare."
"Trust in yourself and your ability, Harry. He will no doubt be the hardest wizard you have ever had to duel. Do not give up. Believe in yourself, Harry. I know I do. Even the prophecy gives you the edge and I know you believe in that."
"But I don't know what that power is supposed to be. When will it show up?"
"No one knows Harry but I think you will recognize it when it does appear. Have no doubt that it will become evident to you, likely at the time it is most needed."
I spent every weekend possible with Gwen at my house. We would make love, I would train and exercise, then we would make love again. I think she was trying to help me remember what I was going to be fighting for.
A few weeks before Christmas I stopped worrying about learning any additional spells. I just worked on using the ones I already knew. Grandfather had already taught me a few good ones that would come in handy if I could ever manage to hit him with one.
He had me work on casting strings of spells so that I was not casting just one spell at a time. The trick was to make all the spells in the string just as powerful as the first one. Voldemort may be good at blocking spells but he would definitely have to work harder defending against a string of them, especially if I varied up my aim a bit for each one. I could only hope that would make him work harder.
Of course, that was not as easy as it sounds so I had to practice, practice, practice.
The aurors put out a warning that only a certain amount of people would be allowed into Diagon Alley on Christmas Day to witness the duel. The space would be expanded and stands would be erected with strong wards against spells but there was still only so much room. They also reminded everyone that this was a legally sanctioned duel based on wizarding tradition and laws. That means their hands were tied before, during, and for thirty minutes after the duel. You-Know-Who cannot be attacked during this time as long as he adheres to the rules.
They explained that even if he manages to kill me, they would not be able to attack immediately following the duel. Anyone that tries will be taken down quickly. Voldemort will be allowed to leave within the thirty-minute time frame after the duel is completed, should he win. However, they stated that was as far as they were willing to go to honor tradition. Should he fail to adhere to the rules completely then he would forfeit the match and the full power of the DMLE would be unleashed upon him, regardless of the established dueling rules and wizarding tradition.
The rules were explained as well, including wizarding attire must be worn minus any armor. No armor, such as dragon hide, would be tolerated. Wands were the only weapon allowed.
They expanded the space in front of The Daily Prophet offices a good two weeks before the duel. They then started erecting the stands that allowed doorways into the shops and offices and passageways through the alley. The seating went high into the air and back above the buildings. The Muggles called that the nose bleed section.
They went ahead and setup the wards with rune stones but waited to activate them. It was strange to see all the empty seating in Diagon Alley. It looked like an oddly shaped coliseum in a way. People went about their business but you knew what everyone was discussing. They would gesture to the seating while they talked.
The Daily Prophet pretty much only talked about the upcoming duel now. Other news stories were relegated to the back pages. Apparently, there was even a betting pool that started up, calling odds on my chances. Some were impressed with what I had done in recent years but overall people were more afraid of Voldemort. I ended up being the underdog with large odds against me.
I completely stayed away from the public until the 25th. I was mobbed every time I tried to go out in the Magical world. Gwen and I would still go out some in the Muggle world but we even cut back on that.
On Christmas Eve, I sat Gwen down and told her how much I loved her. I then explained that should I not make it then the goblins would hand my house over to her, along with a substantial amount of gold. Dobby and Winky would also continue to serve her because that would make them happy. She didn't want to hear it but I had to tell her just in case.
She held me all night long while we slept. I didn't think I would be able to sleep but I did. I got more rest than I normally do. I was worried about the outcome but I felt good physically and mentally. We opened our presents Christmas morning and enjoyed a subdued but hearty breakfast.
Meanwhile back in Diagon Alley, wizards and witches had started showing up on Christmas Eve to guarantee themselves a seat. They stayed out all night with blankets, pillows, and warming charms so they could save the best seats. On Christmas morning there were many floos backed up with people trying to get in.
Others tried to apparate in but got redirected to somewhere else once all the seats were full and there was no more room for standing either. By seven in the morning the place was completely packed. Food vendors were making a good profit. Hot cocoa and tea were their biggest selling items.
People were chatting away happily with each other as if they were there for the big game and not to see someone die in front of them. Only some of my friends and others who know me looked a bit concerned. The aurors were all over the place maintaining order.
Gwen stayed home and didn't go. We both preferred that. I showed up at 11:30 and checked out the fighting area. When done I conjured a comfortable chair and sat down to relax. Everyone was watching me closely and no sound was heard as they watched. After I sat down the noise slowly started back up again.
Just before 11:45, Voldemort showed up and there were gasps from the crowd, some even screamed. He paid them no mind and took a stance across from where I was seated. It was completely quiet now until a loud voice was heard.
"Fifteen minutes before the duel starts."
Voldemort just stared at me and I shifted in my seat to get more comfortable. We stayed like that for several minutes before the voice was heard again.
"Ten minutes before the duel starts."
"Harry, did you not get enough rest last night?" Voldemort asked with a sneer.
I just ignored him.
"Harry, I'm talking to you."
I continued to ignore him.
He then used magic and said "Harry" very loudly in everyone's mind. People put their hands over their ears thinking it would help. I sat up straight and put my finger to my lips.
"Shhhh, it's not twelve yet. We have a few more minutes and I'm resting. Now be quiet."
I eased back down and watched him closely. I don't think he liked that even though he smiled at me. I could feel his magic but he couldn't do any more to me until the duel starts and he knew it. He had already pushed the rules but he just wanted to show off and scare everyone. He didn't fool me.
"Five minutes before the duel starts."
I kept resting until it was time to start. The speaker spoke again.
"The duel may now begin."
I stood up slowly and stretched like I didn't have a care in the world. Voldemort shrugged his shoulders and cast the Killing Curse at me. I quickly went into action when I heard the start of the spell and Conjured another chair to intercept the Killing Curse. As I stepped from in front of my chair, I banished it straight at Voldemort so he had to deal with two chairs. The Killing Curse demolished one and the other he just swatted it away from him with his hand.
He did not appear concerned at all. I circled to his left then cut back the other way real quick, when he cast another Killing Curse. I cast a Cutting Curse at his chest but he just swatted it away with his wand. I kept moving.
"I can see now why you were resting, Harry. I can assure you it will not help."
"Don't be too sure, Tom. If you're waiting for me to tire out then it's going to be a long day."
He just gritted his teeth and started a chain of spells coming faster than I could count. I blocked most of the spells, dodging the Unforgivables and a couple other nasty ones. When he finished I cast a string of three that sent one to his chest, one to his neck, and one to his head. He swatted them all away with his wand. He was quick.
"You're going to have to do better than that, Harry."
"Oh, don't you worry Tom. I haven't even started yet."
I watched him carefully to find a weakness but I hadn't seen anything yet. He was just too good. I stopped and just looked at him. He took the opportunity, as I suspected, to pounce but as soon as he started casting, I started moving again. I waited on one of his spells to be cast, timing it just right, and sent a Bludgeoning Spell real quick before he could cast another spell.
I had to block and dodge what he threw at me but the Bludgeoning Spell made him have to stop casting and block it quickly. It gonged loud off his shield. He eyed me carefully.
"Good thing your fast, Tom. That one would have really hurt."
He just stared at me and cast another Killing Curse. I just let it pass by me as I avoided it. I replied with a Bone Breaker Curse but he swatted it away like it was nothing. I then remembered what Grandfather and Dumbledore told me. Don't let him play his game. I noticed he never moved, just like Dumbledore said. He blocked everything and made it look easy by swatting them down. He barely moved his feet except when he cast the Killing Curse. He would then take a small step forward.
We kept trading spells with each other back and forth with him continuing to make me move and he just stood there. I decided to try to change that. I wanted to see if I could make him move. I cast a blasting curse at his feet but he bent down and blocked it. Well, at least he moved his torso.
I blocked and dodged a few more spells then ramped up a long string of my own that varied where I targeted him. He had to bend and straighten a lot as I bombarded him with spell from his head to his toes. I did them back and forth until he grew a little tired of it and stepped to his left instead of blocking his feet.
At least it was until he got me in the side with a Cutting Curse. Luckily, my movement caused it to not hit dead on, but it still made me bleed. He pulled a slick one on me and showed he could time spells as well and string them too right after. He cast a Killing Curse to end his string and I had to move quickly with a bleeding side. I barely made it out of the way.
"First blood, Harry, the beginning of the end."
"Yes, lucky you. I feel the end coming too… just not mine," I deadpanned.
He cast another Killing Curse and I saw him take the small step again as he cast it. I cast my string of spells again to make him move and it was really ticking him off. He definitely did not like to move. After that, I would cast at his head then his feet, alternating between the two. I would also vary my speed in casting. If he didn't step out of the way of the low spell then he had to cast a low shield causing him to bend at the waist. He really hated that.
I kept waiting for another Killing Curse so I could time my Bone Breaker at his lead foot. He didn't make it easy. In fact, he managed to cut my right leg next when I tried to set him up. This made him happy. He so wanted to slow me down. He tried to catch me again but I dodged the first Killing Curse and when he started another, I timed it and sent my Bone Breaker curse at his leading foot before dodging the second Killing Curse.
My spell was going to hit his foot but he moved it just in time. I sent another Bone Breaker at his leg. He blocked that one then let out a long string of curses to catch me but I blocked and dodged my way around them. He was watching me carefully now. My side and my leg hurt like crazy.
I tried to apparate right behind him to catch him but he was so fast it was amazing. He spun and sent me flying away from him before I could cast anything. When I landed, I apparated again to get back away from him. I managed to land on my feet with a shield in place and I took three steps to the left. It was a good thing since he sent another Killing Curse right where I landed.
I sent a lot of Bone Breakers and Cutting Curses. I even sent a few of the nasty ones Grandfather taught me but they never got through. I kept him busy for a while before he sent another Killing Curse at me. I kept trying to get that foot when he cast the Killing Curse but he was just too fast and usually made me pay. Instead, he would counter and hit me with a Cutting Curse before I could move or block it.
He was slowly taking me apart. I was bleeding in several places including my ear where he nicked it and I could no longer move as well as I did before. I was worried about the next Killing Curse and being able to move fast enough. Instead, he hit me with a blasting curse right to the chest that sent me flying back a good twenty feet. I hit the ground hard. It hurt so much. My cuts all opened more.
I groaned in pain.
I was having trouble breathing. He must have broken a rib or two. I barely managed to get up on my knees. I knew I was in big trouble now. He had me beat. His skills were amazing and he was just too powerful. I tried but I couldn't find a weakness. He was walking toward me. This was it. I might as well give up.
I then remembered what Dumbledore and Grandfather told me. They said that as long as I didn't give up then the fight was not over. Gwen entered my thoughts then. I loved her so much. I hated that I was going to die and not have that life with her that I wanted.
I watched Tom as he walked toward me and then remembered what he did last Christmas. He could have finished me by now, but what was he going to do? Gloat, of course. He knew he had me beat and now he would make his speech before finishing me off. Well, I'll just make it easy on him.
I put my wand back in its holster on my arm as he made it to right in front of me, not a scratch on him.
"Harry, Harry, Harry. I told you that you can't beat Lord Voldemort but you didn't listen. Now I'm going to kill you, Harry. I will finally show the world that I can't be beat, especially by someone as pathetic as you."
"Go ahead and finish me off Tom. I have put away my wand and I accept my defeat. You are just too good for me magically and I will now accept it. Kill me."
I was hearing "no, no, no" from the crowd and people crying.
"See your hero now?" Tom asked the crowd loudly. "Defeated, and now he will die."
Voldemort raised his wand and started the incantation. I was not even looking at him. I was looking at his foot that he stepped forward with slightly as he was casting it. I guess he did it for adding more power in the spell. I heard 'Avada –' before I struck.
Using the technique Grandfather taught me with my wand still in its holster, I hit Voldemort in that foot with a Bone Breaker curse. I put a lot of power into it too and instead of finishing the spell, he yelled in pain and started hopping around on his one good foot.
I cast another Bone Breaker and hit his wand arm causing him to drop his wand. He just stared at me as I hit his other arm, then his other foot. He dropped to his knees in front of me. The crowd gasped.
"Wandless magic, Harry?" he groaned out.
"No, not really, just a trick my grandfather taught me." I summoned his wand as he looked at me funny for mentioning my dead grandfather. "He also told me to look for your weakness while dueling but I couldn't find one until you had me beat. Then I remembered last Christmas and every other time we've fought. You like to gloat when you think you've won. That is your weakness. You are way too full of yourself to just finish the job before you start gloating."
Realization of his error was evident on his face.
"Now look at me talking too much while you still breathe."
I slashed my right hand quickly and my strong Cutting Curse took his head clean off. His body fell over sideways to the street. I turned and Conjured another chair and dragged myself up into it. The place was absolutely quiet. You could have heard a pin drop.
Then the crowd erupted in pandemonium, thrilled that Voldemort was finally dead. The noise was deafening. There were chants of my name and shouts coming from the stands. I heard "he did it" and "Harry Potter is our hero."
I was barely staying awake from my injuries. I had lost a lot of blood but I knew I somehow had to get out of there. I didn't think I could apparate again and I was fumbling to get my house portkey when Dumbledore appeared at my side.
"Here Harry," he said handing me a flyer with food items and drinks advertised.
I was looking at it and wondering if he wanted me to order lunch.
"A portkey, Harry, to the infirmary at Hogwarts. I think it best for you to get out of here and have Madam Pomfrey patch you up. The crowd is a little rambunctious. I will stay and make sure Tom's body is taken care of."
I slipped Tom's wand into my cloak then nodded. He tapped the flyer with his wand to activate it.
I appeared in a hospital bed at Hogwarts and Madam Pomfrey came rushing out to take care of me.
"Mr. Potter, I received a patronus from Albus telling me what happened. Congratulations on another victory. Now lay still while I get you set to rights."
While she was working on me, Dobby and Winky showed up. They were hopping up and down excitedly.
"Why are you house elves in my infirmary?"
"We is Potter family elves," they said proudly.
"Hi Dobby, hi Winky," I said.
"We is so glad you are okay Harry Potter sir," said Winky.
"Harry Potter is the greatest wizard ever!" added Dobby.
"Your names are Dobby and Winky?" asked Madam Pomfrey.
"Yes," answered Winky "and Winky will be happy to help take care of Harry Potter sir. Just tell Winky what you need her to do."
"Very well, Winky, bring me another dose of blood replenishing potion from the cabinet."
Winky popped off quickly. Dobby looked like he wanted to help too.
"Dobby, I have a different job for you," I said.
"Yes, Harry Potter sir. What can Dobby do?"
"I need you to go get Gwen for me and bring her straight here."
"Oh, Dobby will be ever so pleased to do that for Harry Potter sir."
"Who is this Gwen, Mr. Potter?"
"My girlfriend. She's a squib and a direct descendent of Ravenclaw."
"Oh? Been keeping that secret have you?"
"Yes. I had to keep her safe."
"Well, then I'm looking forward to meeting her."
She had barely got that out when Dobby and Gwen appeared right next to my bed. Gwen was crying. She leaned over and kissed me on the lips, her salty tears making my lips wet. She wiped them off.
"Sorry," she said.
"Gwen, this is Madam Pomfrey. She has healed me more times than I can remember and she's doing it again. Madam Pomfrey this is my girlfriend Gwen Peterson."
They finished introducing themselves while Winky hovered around me. Pomfrey had healed all my cuts, bones, and other issues so Winky took the opportunity to Magic some pajamas on me so I would be comfortable.
"Thank you, Winky."
"Normally I would keep you for a few days with this many injuries, Mr. Potter, but I healed them all easy enough and can see that you have plenty of help to get you back on your feet. I'm just going to give you a mild sleeping draught so you can rest and let those bones settle. You should be able to leave later today."
"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey."
"I'll be right back with that sleeping draught while you chat with your pretty young lady," she said with a wink.
She walked off and Gwen grabbed me in a hug.
"Oh Harry. I thought for sure I was going to lose you. I was so worried."
"He almost had me Gwen but I just couldn't bear not being able to see you again so I had to win."
She kissed me and was still kissing me when we heard Madam Pomfrey clear her throat.
"Sorry, Madam Pomfrey," said Gwen, "but I was just so worried about losing him."
"Perfectly understandable, dear. Now take this Mr. Potter and have a little nap."
I took the offered sleeping draught and shifted back down into the bed and my pillow while Gwen played with my hair. A few seconds more and I was sound asleep.
I woke a few hours later and saw a bunch of people in the hospital staring at me. I felt a weight on my chest and looked down to see Gwen had joined me. She was sleeping on top of the covers with her head on my chest. I kissed the top of her head and she woke up. She looked up and right into my eyes.
"We have company dear," I said.
"Oh," she replied and scrambled off the bed to stand beside it.
I sat up in the bed and she helped position my pillows behind me. She then began straightening her hair and clothes to make herself more presentable. I didn't worry about my hair, as it never made much difference. I looked around and saw Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Snape, Cravitz, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Susan, Amelia, Fred, George, then Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Dumbledore was smiling that benevolent smile.
"Who let all the riff raff in?" I asked with a smile.
"Before you do that, I need to run a diagnostic real quick, Mr. Potter," said Pomfrey who appeared from her office frowning at all the people in her hospital. "You are still under my care until I release you."
I smiled at everyone who all smiled back, knowing how Pomfrey was. She ran her diagnostics then looked at me.
"What's the verdict, Doc?" I asked.
"Fit as a fiddle, Mr. Potter. I want you to take it easy though the next three days. Get lots of rest. If you don't then I will have Winky deal with you."
"Yes, ma'am. I'll behave. Please, anything but Winky," I said winking at my elf in the corner. "Besides, I'm looking forward to some days off."
"Very well, Mr. Potter, you may leave when you are ready. Winky will come get me if you have any complications."
I was wondering how Madam Pomfrey managed to get Winky on her side so quickly. They must have conspired together while I was sleeping. I could rely on Dobby for help with this but Winky has him wrapped around her little finger. Oh well, time to face the music. I looked up at Dumbledore.
"I believe introductions are in order, Harry. Would you mind doing the honors?"
"Certainly." As I pointed to each one, I introduced them. "Gwen, this is Professor Dumbledore, the schools headmaster; Professor McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistress and Transfiguration Professor; Professor Flitwick, the Charms Professor; Professor Snape, the Potions Professor; Professor Cravitz, the Defense Professor; Ron Weasley, one of my best mates; Hermione Granger, another best friend; Ginny Weasley, Ron's sister and my very good friend; Luna Lovegood, another good friend; Neville Longbottom, another best mate; Susan Bones, a very good friend and Ancient Runes tutor; Amelia Bones, Susan's aunt and head of the DMLE; Fred Weasley and his twin George, both very close friends and business partners; and finally, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, parents to the red heads and others not present, plus they serve as my surrogate parents and treat me like one of their own. That's why I love them dearly."
I got a big smile from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
"Now for the easy part, everyone, this is Gwen Peterson. She's a squib and a direct descendent of Rowena Ravenclaw." There were a few gasps from that announcement but not near as many as my last proclamation. "Finally, Gwen is my girlfriend and there is no doubt we are madly in love."
I put my arm over her shoulder and pulled her to me, kissing her on the cheek. Over the year and a half we have known each other she was still around 5'9" but I was a growing boy and was now an even six foot.
"I'm not sure how many names I will remember," Gwen said, "but I'll work on it. I want to get to know all of Harry's friends."
That's when the dam broke and everyone started talking at once. A few took my girlfriend away from me to converse and get to know her better while my friends decided to press me for some answers.
"So Harry, that's why you received all the secret letters Hedwig brought you. How long have you been with Gwen?" asked Hermione.
"We met in early August of last year after I moved out on my own. She was getting ready to attend university and I was improving my body and skill with different weapons. We hit it off right away but didn't think it would be a lasting one since we were likely not going to see each other again, but we did and each time we drew closer. I asked her to be my girlfriend last Christmas break. We've been together ever since."
"And all this time you never said anything?" asked Ron.
"I had to protect her from Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Now I don't have to."
"Harry, you really had us worried old chap," said George.
"Yes, we thought he had you for sure at the end there," said Fred.
"Was that wandless magic you did," asked Neville.
"No, I just used my wand while it was still in its holster. It's a trick I picked up from my grandfather. I will have to explain all that at another time. It's a bit complicated."
"Wow!" said Susan.
"Well, I'm just happy you won Harry and lived through it," said Ginny.
I looked over at her.
"Me too, Ginny, me too."
I told them all the secrets I had been keeping. I even explained the prophecy and my lack of fear fighting Death Eaters. They were amazed at that. I showed how the prophecy was true and how I proved it. I had them wait on hearing my address though because I wanted Gwen and me to have the rest of the break to ourselves. I told them I would let them visit during the Easter holidays but would likely have a surprise for the beginning of summer for them.
The days passed by slowly while school was in session since I wanted to be with Gwen. She told me she felt the same way. Most weekends were ours but Hedwig still got a good bit of exercise anyway. During Easter break, I invited the Weasleys, Hermione, Amelia, and Susan to join us at my house. We had a big meal and beach party later with a bon fire where we roasted marshmallows and ate s'mores.
Amelia and Susan didn't spend the night but everyone else did. I talked them into staying longer and promised a surprise if they did. As expected, I got a call from Roy in the middle of the week and he told me that my yacht was waiting for me in my spot at the yacht club. We agreed on a time to meet there on the next day.
The next day I expanded the Bentley and piled all nine of us into the car. I drove us down to the yacht club and looked for my spot. I saw the yacht before I saw Roy. It was so big it was hard to miss. My yacht was over 200 feet of magnificence that was attracting attention from others who saw it delivered.
Roy was with some people, they were the ones who customized it and delivered it for me. It was such a significant purchase that they wanted to hand it over personally. Considering I no longer needed to hide, I went along with it.
I climbed out of the driver's seat and Gwen, along with Ginny, climbed out of the passenger side front. The other six climbed out of the back. Roy walked to me while the two men walked to Mr. Weasley thinking he was the purchaser. With his clothing, he looked a bit like an eccentric billionaire, while I looked like his chauffeur since I was driving.
"I'm afraid you have the wrong man, gentlemen" I heard Mr. Weasley say.
"Yes, Bob, Stephen, the buyer is over here with me."
"I'm terribly sorry for the mix up," said Bob looking embarrassed.
"Not a problem. Perfectly understandable," I replied. "I understand you have all of it completed?"
"Yes and I'm sure you will like it," said Stephen. "It has to be our best work."
"It was a pleasure getting her ready for you Mr. –"
"Potter, Harry Potter, but call me Harry."
"Yes, Harry. It was a great pleasure to prepare her for you. We rarely get to go all out like we did on this one."
"I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves. Is there anything I need to know before we part?"
"No, Harry. She has been fully tested and passed all of them. Here are your keys, and we hope to do more business with you in the future," said Bob as he placed the keys in my hand.
"Thank you, gentlemen. Have a great day!" I said shaking their hands. As they walked to their car, I turned to my friends. "Come on everyone. Let's take a tour of my new yacht."
I explained, as we looked her over, what magic I planned to use on her. Everyone was impressed with my research, especially Hermione. We looked at everything before leaving. Many people standing around spoke to me about the yacht as we exited, telling me how much they liked it. It seemed to be an attention grabber.
"What are you going to name her Harry?" asked Roy as we headed to our cars.
I turned back and looked at her from a distance. I then looked at Roy.
"I was thinking of naming her The Marauder."
"Sounds more like a him than a her," said Ron.
"I suppose she will have to be the first female marauder, Ron."
"I can see that," he replied.
On the way back to the house I explained my plans to go yachting as soon as we were done with school and I wanted to invite everyone to go with me for about a week. We could even invite Hermione's parents and see if they can go as well. They all seemed to like that idea.
After we arrived back at the house, everyone took the floo home, leaving Gwen, Dobby, Winky, and myself to our own devices. Dobby and I decided to leave the girls after dark so we could work on the yacht, adding magic where needed. I apparated over to it, cast a notice-me-not spell, and then called Dobby.
We immediately went to work.
We came home late but each night we went back until we had it all done. I took Winky with me on one trip so she could add "The Marauder" to my yacht. She was the artistic one so I let her have it and she did a great job. She just looked at the names on the other yachts and created a fantastic design for me. I was very pleased.
On the way to the galley, there was a spot perfect to put a hidden door. Behind said door, we created a magical space with lots of large bedrooms, loos, and areas for relaxation with games and plenty of flat screen TVs. The yacht was equipped with a satellite dish. We even created a large kitchen for magical cooking only. The rest of the yacht was left alone as far as Expansion Charms were concerned, except for a hidden spot in the Captain's quarters.
This alleviated any need to revert expansion charms back to normal when around Muggles who might see it. However, the yacht's ability to move at incredible speeds across the water, to become invisible, and to even submerge like a submarine were not hindered in any way. Muggles would never know.
I even found magical wards that would prevent the yacht from ever capsizing. There was also hidden Cushioning Charms on all sides to prevent it from bumping into docks. The hull was spelled to be Unbreakable and Impervious so we didn't want the yacht to cause any damage to anything it bumped into. I also found the spell to make engines that run on fuel, run on magic instead. The speed was less limited that way.
The good news? We finished all the magical renovations by the time Easter week was over. The bad news? Easter week was over and we had to return to school. It would be summer before we would get to use the yacht.
School continued to drag on and my irritation with the magical world continued to grow. They just would not leave me alone. The Daily Prophet would say something about me every day, constantly keeping my name in the paper. It was even bad at Hogwarts, so bad that Dumbledore had to make a few announcements threatening anyone who didn't respect my privacy and right to be left alone.
My friends who were prefects started taking house points to help with the problem. They had the full support of the faculty to do so. This helped a little.
I remember the first week I was back after Christmas break, I had a sore shoulder from so many students patting me on the back, congratulating me. Girls were giggling all around me. It was beyond irritating. I couldn't wait to get out of school and remove myself out of the eyes of the magical world. Luckily, this was my last year.
June finally came and we found ourselves deep into our NEWTs. I had managed to finish all my Ancient Runes classes so was able to test for my NEWT in that subject too. The exams were exhausting just like their name implied but we all managed to make it through them. I saw Gwen less during June than the previous months but it was due to all the studying and preparation we had to do for the tests. She had end of term exams as well to concentrate on.
I was never so happy to get away from my adoring fans when the last day finally arrived. It was sad to be my last day at Hogwarts but all the unwanted attention had ruined that for me. I was anxious to be away from the crowds. It had been so bad that I refused to ride the train for the last time going home. I apparated home instead and missed out on that last train ride with my friends.
They told me later that I had the right idea. Several students had stopped by looking for me and the press had sneaked on board too, they said.
I had scheduled with my friends to take my yacht out on July the fifth for a week. They had made sure not to schedule anything else. Hermione's parents were coming along with their daughter. So were the Weasley parents along with Ron and Ginny. Fred and George had to work at their shop that week so couldn't join us. Neville joined us though and so did Luna. She and her father were not going on a trip until later in the month. Lastly, Roy and Rona were joining us as well.
I had everyone floo over either on the fourth to spend the night at Potter Crest with us or they could come over in the morning of the fifth before we headed down to the yacht club. Roy and Rona came down on the fourth but spent the night in their beach house before driving over to my place in the morning. We had a big breakfast for everyone on the fifth, provided by Dobby and Winky. Everyone enjoyed that.
I prepared a portkey for some of them while others were going to ride with Roy. That way the car didn't have to look so over crowded when they got out. Dobby and Winky were going with us so Dobby and I went on ahead and made sure everything was in order. Dobby and Winky had already taken a load of food supplies to the yacht for us that morning.
I managed to get my yacht out of the dock without breaking anything. Of course, Roy was supervising and said I did a great job. Soon we were on our way and had a great time out on the water. Winky did most of the cooking and cleaning with Dobby's help. Dobby was interested in how the yacht worked and how it steered so I showed him and even let him captain for a while.
I also let Roy have his turn. I knew he was anxious to see how it handled. He did all the work on getting what I wanted so I made sure he was able to try it out. Dobby was pretty good up on his stool steering the ship so I let him do it a good bit of the time. I told him he would make a good captain.
Like before, we made some stops at different ports for shopping. Roy eventually wondered why we never had to refuel. When I told him, he begged me to work the same magic on his yacht. He had already seen the hidden space and how big it was. He wanted one of those right away. It worked better than turning the expansion charms on and off. I promised I would make sure he had everything he could handle when we got back.
The week was fun but everyone had to get back to his or her jobs and what not. That left Gwen and I at home with just each other and the elves of course. It was wonderful. My friends would contact us on occasion to get together but we always had to go to a Muggle place because of me. If we tried a magical location, I was mobbed.
Ron, Ginny, Neville, and Luna had a difficult time with the Muggle world. They just didn't feel comfortable, although Luna tended to fit in better than the others did. After a while, we did less and less together. They lived in the magical world and had jobs in the magical world and I couldn't set foot in it without causing a problem.
When Gwen went back for her education, I bought a house in Cambridge near her school so we could both live there while she attended the university. This way we saw each other more and didn't have to be away from each other as much. I still went back and forth while she was busy. Dobby and Winky took care of both houses for us, cleaning, and cooking as much as we let them.
As a project, I had Dobby and Winky help me find some more elves so I could start fixing up Potter Place. Grandfather explained to me more about the gryphons and how they would recognize me as a Potter, due to my blood. I had nothing to worry about, he assured me.
I found three good elves that were recommended so I bonded them to the Potter family and we set about repairing all the damage to my family home. Dobby helped me as well. As promised, the gryphons were friendly to me and would frequently come to visit. After I introduced the elves, they became friendly to them too.
It took us a good part of the year to get it completely repaired and updated a bit. Of course, my time was limited since I spent a lot of it with Gwen, but the elves continued to work even when I wasn't there. The place was huge so there was plenty to do.
I was going to have the three new elves stay at Potter Place and keep it nice after it was ready. Dobby would be my head elf and he could help them with any questions they had if I wasn't available. However, during the year it became apparent that the media was trying to find where I lived. They had asked my friends but of course, they couldn't tell them anything even if they wanted to due to the Fidelius on the house.
I even sent a letter to The Daily Prophet pleading with them to drop the interest in me so I could live a normal existence but they just ignored it. My name sold papers so they wouldn't drop it. I warned them and even sent a letter to the Wizengamot letting them know that if this constant attention on my life did not cease then I would have no choice but to leave the country.
By the time summer rolled around again, Gwen and I had already discussed it. She could go to a different school in America, such as MIT or Harvard, which were first and second in the world for her field of study. She had the grades to be admitted to either one and we both had the money to afford it. She went forward, applied to both, and was accepted.
The media never slacked off so when she got out of school for the summer we said our good byes and left in my yacht with Dobby serving as Captain. I even bought him a captain's hat like mine, only smaller so it fit him. Dobby had a good bit of practice over the year so he was now pretty much in charge of captaining the yacht.
We decided to go visit Gwen's uncle, aunt, and cousin for a while and look for a place to buy depending on which school Gwen picked to attend. We turned on the invisibility and boosted the speed. This got us across the Atlantic in record time. If it weren't a secret, I'm sure Guinness would be interested in the records we broke.
My friends were not happy to see us go but they understood my reasoning, especially when the Prophet continued to report Harry Potter sightings around London while we were in a completely different country.
Gwen decided on MIT. It was considered the best in her field but it was also in Massachusetts, which is where the Salem Magical Institute was located. It would put us closer to a magical community but be close to the Muggle world as well.
I found a big mansion to buy that was in easy driving distance to the school and we settled in. Dobby and Winky were glad it was large so they would have more to do. The three elves back home would make sure all my properties were maintained there. We could always take the yacht and go visit during the summers if we wanted.
Once Gwen graduated, then our time would depend on her job but I always contended that I could buy her a research company or build one from scratch so she could study and research whatever she wanted. She could also take off whenever she wanted. She said she would think about it after she gained a little more experience.
After she graduated, we went back home and got married. Roger, Emily, and Helen went with us in our yacht. They had been on it before. Roger was most impressed with the magic the first time he was on it with us. Our wedding was a private ceremony with just her family and my few close friends, but somehow word leaked out and it made the papers. After our honeymoon was over, we returned straight to the U.S. so Gwen could start work and we could plan on starting a family in the years to come.
We were in no big hurry though. We had time to enjoy life now and I no longer had to worry about some mad man trying to kill me. I made investments and bought more properties to fix up. I also bought some nice cars and trucks for the properties I purchased. It managed to keep Dobby and me busy.
Eventually we had a house in many parts of the U.S., including a beach house on the west coast in California where we learned to surf, a mountain resort in Colorado where we learned to ski, and a large ranch in Texas where we learned to ride horses. Occasionally we would even fix up a nice house then sell it for profit. I even ventured into Canada after a while… I couldn't get accustomed to drinking their beer though.
Life didn't get much better than this.