Chapter 11

"He's coming around, Albus," said Madam Pomfrey as she gently massaged Colin Creevey's throat after administering him the potion. Dumbledore had purchased the Mandrake Restorative Draught from St Mungo's to revive the boy who had been petrified.

The young boy's form began trembling as he finally regained consciousness.

"Easy there, Mr Creevey," soothed Madam Pomfrey. "You're in the Hogwarts hospital wing. You're safe."

"Wha – what happened?" croaked Colin.

"You were attacked, Mr Creevey," said Dumbledore gravely. "You were petrified by an unknown party. Do you remember anything before you were attacked?"

"Ahem," fidgeted Colin. "Sorry, sir, but I don't. I was coming down to the hospital wing that night to – ahem – see if Harry and Alex were okay. I saw something I front of me, so I decided to take a picture. That's all I remember, I guess."

Dumbledore sighed. It was the same as last time. Even fifty years ago, none of the victims had been able to recall what they had seen. He had contemplated that it could be the legendary creature that had attacked the victims, but he had no proof. History was never clear about the fabled Chamber of Secrets. Tom Riddle could have certainly been behind the attacks fifty years ago, but who was doing it now? Maybe it was time to visit the ghost of Myrtle Warren again. Pleading with the girl to talk to him and give him information hadn't really worked in the past, but it wouldn't hurt to try again.

Maybe it was a good thing that the students were leaving for the holidays soon. It would give him time to thoroughly search the castle once more.


The winter holidays finally arrived and the students of Hogwarts were quite eager to go home. There had been no more attacks after Colin Creevey's petrification, but that one attack was enough to cause chaos in the castle.

"What's everyone doing for the holidays?" asked Susan.

"My parents and I are going to France for a week," replied Daphne as she popped a chocolate frog in her mouth.

"Nothing special with me," shrugged Neville.

"Same here," muttered Alex. "But our mother did tell that she would be going to see Aunt Petunia sometime this week."

"What?" spluttered Harry. "Why?"

Harry hated his aunt. The last time he had gone to visit his mother's older sister had been when he was nine, and it had been an unmitigated disaster. Petunia had been very hateful to her sister and Harry couldn't understand why his mother was trying so hard to fix her relationship with a woman she now knew wasn't even related to her by blood.

"I don't know," shrugged Alex. "But I'm certainly not going to let her go alone. Are you coming?"

"I'm not going to look at that horse-faced bitch again in my life," replied Harry angrily. "Alex, I'm warning you; don't go. You weren't there the last time. Do you know what Dudley tried to do to Belladonna? He was bullying her, and she was just a six-year-old girl back then! If Mum hadn't brought us back home, I would have cursed him into oblivion!"

"You did give him a pig's tail," said Susan casually. Daphne and Neville snickered.

Harry's cheeks tinted pink. "It's not my fault!" he said defensively. "It was accidental magic! Besides, Mum repaired the damage."

"Maybe it is better if you don't visit Aunt Petunia this year," agreed Alex. "We don't want a repeat of that scene, do we?"

Harry was all for it. The rest of the train ride passed smoothly. Draco Malfoy stopped by once near their compartment, but he couldn't open the door. It had been locked with a strong Colloportus charm and it was quite amusing to watch the blonde repeatedly try to open the door.

Several hours later, they finally reached Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. After hugging each other goodbye, the Potter family Flooed back home, and the boys were immediately assaulted by their sisters.

"Are you both okay?" asked Camellia worriedly. "Mum and Dad told us about the bludger attack."

"And you also called us immediately after the attack to ask we were fine," teased Harry.

Camellia huffed. "Well, if you don't want me to ask –"

Harry laughed as he hugged his little sister. The family soon had a light dinner, with the boys constantly updating their parents and siblings about what they had gotten up to at school. Just before they were about to head to bed, Alex broached the topic.

"Mum, are you going to meet Aunt Petunia again this year?"

James groaned, and so did Harry and the girls. All of them had met Petunia before and none of them wanted to talk to her again.

"Yes," sighed Lily. "I'll be meeting her two days from now. Why?"

"Can I come?" asked Alex quickly.

"I don't think that's a good idea," frowned James.

"Please, Mum?" begged Alex. "I don't want you to go there all alone."

Lily looked conflicted. She knew without a doubt that James would never agree to meet the Dursleys, so he wouldn't be accompanying her this time. Also, there was no way she would take Harry and the girls after the stunt her oldest had pulled a few years ago.

Of all her children, Alex was definitely the most level-headed.

"Fine," she said. "But I'm warning you now that it's not going to be pretty."

Harry grimaced. He shot a filthy look at his brother which Alex ignored. When they were climbing up the stairs to their rooms, the older twin cornered his younger brother.

"What part of don't go didn't you understand?" snarled Harry.

"What concern of it is yours?" snapped Alex. "I'm not asking you to meet her, I am? I know that you hate her, Harry, but that doesn't mean I'll let Mum go there alone!"

Harry sighed. "Just –" he hesitated, "just try to keep your cool, alright?"

Alex snorted. Harry was far too temperamental as compared to him. He never faced such anger problems like his older brother. Everything would be fine.


Two days later, mother and son were walking down the street in Little Whinging, Surrey. It was late evening. The festive mood was in the air and Lily kept glancing at her son who was observing his surroundings.

"This place is so weird," he muttered. "They have identical houses. Not only that, they're all practically glued to each other. How do they prevent theft without protective enchantments?"

"They have their own ways," replied Lily. "They're not as effective as what we have in the magical world, but it works for them."

"Didn't you grow up in this house?"

"We moved here after my first year at Hogwarts," admitted Lily softly. "I still remember how happy we were at moving to a new home. Petunia and I could finally have our own bedrooms and it was larger than my childhood home. After my parents died, they willed it to my sister. I never thought I would feel so unwelcome in the home I grew up in."

"Then why are we here?" asked Alex in exasperation. "Come on, Mum, you know that she hates you! You're not even related!"

"I may have been adopted, Alex, but that does not mean I love my parents any less. I promised my mother on her deathbed that I would mend my relationship with Petunia. I will not break my promise."

"Mum, had Grandma been alive, do you think she would have wanted you to do this?" asked Alex earnestly. "You said that Grandma was very practical . . . well, mending your relationship with Aunt Petunia isn't going to be easy! You've tried so many times and she still hates you!"

"A little encouragement would go a long way. You can go back home if you're so against it."

Alex remained silent. He would not let his mother face these people alone. He looked at his surroundings wearily. Their family didn't venture into the Muggle world that often, so this was a surreal experience for him.

Lily took a deep breath as she rang the doorbell. They waited for several seconds until the front door of the house finally opened.

"You," spat Petunia. "What part of don't come here didn't you understand?"

Alex mentally grimaced. They were already on to a bad start.

"And why did you bring him along?" shrieked Petunia. "He's the one who attacked my poor Dudders the last time!"

"Hello, Aunt Petunia. I'm afraid you've mistaken me for my twin brother," said Alex, forcing a smile on his face. "I'm Alex, not Harry."

"Turney, do you want to have this conversation outside, where everyone can overhear?" asked Lily softly.

Petunia scowled as she reluctantly led them inside. Alex looked around curiously. The last time he had met the Dursleys was when he was seven years old, but even then, he had never been inside their house. The mantelpiece in the living room was filled with pictures of Dudley Dursley. He fought the urge to laugh at one of the pictures. Alex's cousin was wearing a brown jacket and orange trousers. That hat he was sporting was also ridiculous!

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Petunia was glaring hatefully at her sister.

"What do you want now?" she spat. "Didn't you receive my letter telling you not to come?"

"Turney, it has been three years since that incident," said Lily in resignation. "We're sisters! Is it wrong for me to come and see how you're doing?"

The older sister sniffed. "I don't fraternize with freaks such as you. We're a normal family. It would have been a lot better had you left us alone."

Lily sighed in frustration. "Petunia, please. Just explain to me once and for all what your problem with me is. Is it only because of me being magical?"

Petunia snapped as all the bitterness that had mounted over the years reach its peak. "Of course it's because of you and your abnormal powers!" she shrieked. "Don't you remember how close we once were before we met that horrible Snape boy? I told you to stay away from him –"

"– and in hindsight, you were right," muttered Lily to herself.

"– but no," sneered Petunia. "Lily Evans was too excited about being a witch that she forgot about the rest of her family. Always hanging around with that horrible boy and using more of your freakish powers. Do you remember the time he nearly killed me?"

Lily paused. At one point in their childhood, Severus had lost control of his magic and had nearly caused a branch to fall on Petunia's head. That incident had caused her sister to be scared of magic. That didn't stop her from writing to Dumbledore, though.

"This grudge has gone on long enough, Petunia," reasoned Lily. "I'm nearly thirty-eight years old. I was eleven when I went to Hogwarts. All these years I have tried to mend our relationship, but you still hold it against me. I can't help but be magical. I didn't choose to be born with it. Why don't you understand that?"

"Yes, you can't help but be a freak," spat Petunia. "It was all Mum and Dad could ever see since the day you got that blasted letter. We have a witch in the family, isn't it wonderful? I was the only one to see what you truly were! They never cared about me with you around. It was always Lily this, and Lily that!"

"They had you at home throughout the year!" replied Lily heatedly. "I used to come home only for two months, and I was living in a place that was unknown to them. Can't we get along at least for the sake of our parents? I promised Mum before she died that I would mend my relationship with you, Petunia, please!"

Petunia looked away, still scowling. Just when she was about to reply, there was an explosion from the living room.


Alex was sitting on a sofa in the living room, reading one of Aunt Petunia's magazines. He found it odd that none of the pictures moved. He was also fascinated with some of the gadgets that were in the living room, especially the television. Just as he was looking around, the front door opened and Vernon entered.

"It's not a bother at all, Marge," said Vernon as he dragged his sister's luggage inside the house. "It's not your fault that your flight was cancelled."

"Yes," said Marge imperiously. "I had been looking forward to this vacation. I had to leave poor Ripper with the Colonel too. What they do with – and who are you?"

Alex looked at the people who had entered the living room, wondering what to say. His mother and aunt were still in the kitchen and probably hadn't heard them come in. While he hadn't met his aunt's husband before, the pictures in the room gave him enough indication to know that this was his uncle. He hesitated only for a moment before he introduced himself.

"Hello, Uncle Vernon," said Alex, smiling faintly. "I'm Alex Potter. My mother decided to visit Aunt Petunia today, so I decided to tag along. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

Vernon's face turned red in anger. "You!" he said waspishly. "You're the one who attacked Dudley the last time! How dare you enter my house?"

"That wasn't me! That was -"

"Oh, so you're Petunia's nephew, eh?" commented Marge shrewdly, interrupting him.

"I'm sorry, but I don't think we have been introduced," said Alex politely.

"Marge Dursley," sniffed the woman. "I've heard about you, of course."

"Get out, boy," said Vernon angrily. "I don't want any of your freakishness in my house! I won't tolerate it, I tell you!"

Alex frowned. Freakishness?

"Let him stay, Vernon," said Marge, with a glint in her eye. "What did you say his father is? An unemployed drunken layabout, wasn't it?"

Vernon swallowed slightly when he saw the smile slip from Alex's face. "My father is not a drunk," he said quietly. "Please refrain from commenting on things you know nothing about. It only makes you look like a fool."

"You see here boy –" began Vernon angrily, but was cut off by his sister who laughed.

"Defending them, are we?" she said sarcastically. "You need to be taught some manners, boy, and watch that mouth of yours. I know exactly what your parents do. Vernon and Petunia have told me everything."

"And what is everything?" asked Alex furiously, trying his best to control his temper. His hand was trembling in fury as he desperately tried to bury his emotions under his Occlumency shields. Who did this woman think she was and how dare she call his father a drunk?

Marge snorted. "I'm telling you, Vernon, it all comes down to breeding," she commented, as though they were having a casual conversation about a lab experiment. "Nothing against Petunia's family, but it shows that something went wrong when your wife turned out so well, but her sister chose the path of a prostitute."

Alex's head snapped up in shock, his green eyes glowing with suppressed rage. Vernon cast nervous glances at the boy. He knew what had happened the last time when Dudley had gotten a pig's tail, and he was determined to make his sister stop before she did more damage.

"Maybe we should get you to the guest room, Marge. I'm sure dinner will be ready soon. Also, Dudley should be back home any minute now."

"Proud of your parents, boy?" sneered Marge. "You can't hope to compete with our little Dudders. After all, you're the son of a drunk and a whore. You can quote me on this, Vernon, as a professional dog breeder, I have observed that if there's something wrong with the bitch, there's something wrong with the pup –"

That was all she said before Alex screamed in anger. The windows shattered and the two Dursleys were thrown against the wall violently.

"Boy!" roared Vernon.

"Don't you dare!" snarled Alex furiously. He had never been this angry in his life. He could handle it if anyone insulted him personally, but no one had the right to insult his parents. That was the reason he and Harry hated Snape so vehemently and why Harry had extracted his revenge on the former Potions Master the previous year.

Alex slashed his wand as Marge screamed in pain. He had broken the bones in her hand. She also seemed to be inflating like a balloon. The lights in the living room were flickering due to the amount of magic in the air. Her buttons popped but she was still expanding. Vernon tried to attack Alex but with another flick of the latter's wand, Vernon found himself upside down, dangling by his ankle.

"How dare you call my mother a whore?" yelled Alex. "I'll show you who the prostitute really is!"


The boy turned towards the entrance of the living room only to see the furious face of his mother.

Lily was beside herself. She could not even say anything to describe the fury she was currently feeling. "Alex, what are you doing?"

"Vernon!" screeched Petunia in panic as she moved towards her husband. "You!" she rounded on her sister. "It's your fault that this has happened! You and your son's freakishness and abnormality! This is the second time my family has been attacked because of you. Fix this NOW!"

"Mum –"

Lily ignored her son as she waved her wand in a fluid motion. Everything repaired itself as the shards of glass attached themselves to the windows. Within a minute, the living room was back to its former condition.

"What spells did you use?" snapped Lily.

"I – I – well – a bone-breaking curse," cringed Alex. "Also Levicorpus and the Banishing charm."

"What about what you did that woman? She's inflated like a balloon!"

"I didn't use any spells for that," he admitted softly. "Probably accidental magic."

Lily pursed her lips as she began repairing the damage caused. She mended the broken bones and deflated Marge Dursley.

"Get out, you freaks!" spat Petunia hatefully. "Take your abnormalities with you and never darken my doorstep! From now on, we're no longer related!"

"Big deal, Muggle!" shot back Alex furiously. "Grandpa and Grandma adopted Mum when she was a baby! Your wish came true! You both aren't related. Are you happy?"

Lily looked at her son with an unreadable expression on her face. Taking a deep breath, she pointed her wand at the three Dursleys. She knew without a doubt that this was probably the last time she would ever meet Petunia. With that in mind, she cast the charm.



Potter Manor

Twelve-year-old Harry Potter was on the first floor of his parents' palatial study. He was looking for James' hand-written notes on Human Transfiguration that he wanted to refer before his father continued training him during the holidays. Just as he finished copying the notes, the door to the study downstairs opened with a bang.

Harry was startled. From his angle, he could see what was going on, but he cast an eavesdropping charm to listen.

"Mum, please hear me out," begged Alex. "You don't understand what happened!"

Lily Potter fixed her son with a cold look. "Vernon insulted me," she said in a clipped tone. "And you attacked him. Did I miss anything?"

"Not only Uncle Vernon, but that horrible woman did so too! She called you – she called you a prostitute! She called Dad an unemployed drunk!"

The Floo in the study flashed green and James stepped out. "I got your Patronus message," he said sharply. "What happened?"

"What happened," snorted Lily, "is that our son decided to attack Vernon and his sister. He also seemed to be enjoying it. Some would call it Muggle baiting."

Alex paled. "Mum –"

"Son, what did you do?" sighed James. He didn't seem surprised.

"He inflated Marge Dursley like a balloon," shouted Lily furiously. "He destroyed their living room, used bone-breaking curses on them, and finally revealed to Petunia that I was adopted."

"Why would you do such a thing?" asked James, frowning at him. "Alex, do you realize that since you were in a Muggle area, you not only violated the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, but also the International Statute of Secrecy? You could be dragged to court for this!"

"That bitch insulted my parents!" yelled Alex. "What did you expect me to do? Stand still and take all the insults she heaped on me?"

"No, but I expected you to not use magic in their house, especially after the stunt Harry pulled the last time!" snapped Lily. "You know that Petunia and Vernon hate magic! That's the reason my sister and I are virtual strangers today. What you did was not an accident! You did it intentionally, to cause pain! I understand that you were angry, Alex, but how could you lose control like that and lash out at them? You wanted to see them suffer, don't deny it! Such actions from the general population were what caused the rise of Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the first place!"

Alex swallowed as he understood why his mother was so angry. "Mum, that's not the reason," he pleaded. "I – I couldn't handle her calling you a prostitute!"

James' face tightened. "She called my wife a what?" he whispered harshly.

"She called Mum a whore and you an unemployed drunk! I tried to control myself, honest, but when she began comparing us to dogs, my magic lashed out! I didn't mean to lose control, I swear!"

"Go to your room," said Lily quietly. "I'm too angry to even speak to you right now. I never thought my son would utter the word Muggle with such anger and disgust."

"That was only because she kept calling you a freak!" defended Alex with tears in his eyes. "Mum, I'm sorry!"

Lily turned her back on him, breathing deeply. James looked agitated as he sighed. "Go to your room, son," he said gently. "We'll talk later."

Alex nodded, wiping his tears away as he slowly walked out of his parents' study. Just as the door snapped shut, James looked at his wife shrewdly.

"Can you show me?" he asked.

Lily nodded as she flicked her wand to summon the Pensieve. She pointed her wand at her temple and extracted the memory and deposited it into the device. James dived into the Pensieve and came out a few minutes later.

He sighed as he pulled his wife into a hug. "I can understand why you're angry," he admitted softly.

Lily allowed the tears to fall as she choked on a sob. "I was making progress," she admitted softly. "Petunia was at least receptive to me, but I don't think I can bring myself to ever talk to her again, even though I wiped her memory. But that's not what bothers me, James. It's the way Alex called them Muggles."

"Lily, you know that's not the case. Alex does not harbour a hatred for Muggles. He's just a boy. He lost control. Hell, even I would have lost control had anyone called my mother a whore! Don't you remember how Snape and I used to curse each other when we were at school?"

She sighed. "I know," she muttered. "He's lucky that he won't be dragged to Amelia's office for this. The only reason the Ministry didn't detect his magic is because I removed the trace from the boys' wands after they bought it. This incident – it brings back terrible memories of my years at Hogwarts, and of the war. I may be a pureblood in the traditional sense, but I am and shall always be Lily Evans. I am a Muggleborn at heart and no one can change that. And my own son acting like this . . ."

"And I fell in love with that Muggleborn girl," said James soothingly, rubbing her back. "But don't let the bigotry you faced at Hogwarts and during the war influence your thoughts on this incident. Alex was angry because of them calling us names. He just responded in kind. He's a child, Lily, and it is our job to tell him where he went wrong. He won't know unless we discipline him. Our children aren't pureblood bigots, you know that!"

Lily nodded silently. She chuckled bitterly. "And here I thought Alex was the most level-headed of them all. I shudder to think what might have happened had I taken Harry along too. With the anger fuelling him, the Horcrux might have influenced him to take drastic actions. Vernon's sister might have only been a smear on the wall."

James exhaled. "I'm working on that, by the way," he muttered. "I've compiled a list of rituals based on blood magic. We'll need to integrate them all together and create a new one to extract the soul-piece without killing Harry in the process."

He sat down in an armchair and pulled his wife to his lap. He stroked her hair as he tried to get her to relax. "You're overworked," he muttered. "Maybe we should have gone on a vacation this winter."

"No, it's okay," whispered Lily, snuggling into his hold.

On the first floor, Harry smiled slightly when he saw his parents sitting together. He was just about to leave through a secret passageway when he heard his father speak.

"We you able to get a copy of the prophecy about Harry, Alex and Voldemort?" asked James.

"Yes," replied Lily. "I had to convince Croaker to lift the protective enchantments on the sphere for me to view it, but he finally agreed. Listen."

She removed another strand of memory and deposited it in the Pensieve. A figure of Sybill Trelawney rose from its depths and spoke in a hoarse voice.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches . . . born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies . . . and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have the power the Dark Lord knows not . . . and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives . . . the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month . . ."

"What does this mean?" muttered James. "Were both Harry and Alex marked by Voldemort?"

"Alex's scar was due to the magical backlash," explained Lily quietly. "Harry was the one who he targeted. However, we cannot assume anything because prophecies are difficult to interpret. It could still mean them both."

"Either must die at the hand of the other," frowned James. "That means they, which is most probably Harry, will have to face Voldemort in the end to kill him."

"According to the prophecy – yes," muttered Lily.

Harry deactivated the eavesdropping charm and escaped through a secret passageway. He was gone before his parents even knew he was there.

"But not all prophecies are fulfilled, James. Just because Trelawney predicted it doesn't mean it has to come true. The future is always uncertain."

James hummed as he rested his chin on his wife's head, lost in thought. "Can you tell me more about the Horcruxes?"

"It's classified, sorry," she apologised. "The department is working on it, but I can't tell you more. Any progress in getting the Wizengamot Accession Act repealed?"

"We're still digging for enough blackmail material," smirked James. "We're already got some, but I've sent the house-elves to keep an eye on Fudge and his movements. I can't touch Dumbledore, but Fudge has enough support through members of the Wizengamot for him to pull some strings. With him in my grasp, I can get that stupid law repealed."

"Good," whispered Lily, kissing his chin softly. "I'm so tired."

"You need to clear things up with Alex," said James firmly.

"I know," sighed Lily. "I'll talk to him later tonight."


Harry swallowed as he collapsed on his bed. His mind was spinning as he recalled the prophecy . . . a prophecy that had marked both him and his brother. A prophecy that would force them to confront Voldemort at some point in their lives. Harry remembered his first meeting with Voldemort six months ago. The Dark Lord had promised to kill both him and Alex, and Harry would not let that happen. He and his brother would train and learn more magic . . . anything to defeat Voldemort!

His mind drifted to his brother and Harry immediately rushed out of his bedroom. He checked the room right next to his and found Alex not there. He quickly walked down the marble staircase, reached the entrance hall, and exited the manor through the front doors. The gentle breeze of the night ruffled his hair as he searched for the large oak tree a couple of hundred feet away from the manor. When Harry had once told his brother that he wished Alex was never born, this was where the younger twin had hidden, and this was where they had finally reconciled. It was where Alex would hide whenever he was angry or upset.

"Figured I'd find you up here," commented Harry.

Alex was perched on a branch of the oak tree. He looked down to spot his twin brother who took a seat on the ground, leaning against the tree trunk. "What are you doing here?" he asked curiously.

"I was in Mum and Dad's study when you returned home," said Harry softly. "I heard everything."


Alex took a deep breath. "You were right," he admitted quietly. "I shouldn't have gone with her to visit that bitch."

"I'm always right."

"Now is not the time to get smart, brother dear," snorted Alex.

"But I am the smart twin," grinned Harry.

"And I'm the handsome twin, now shut up!" said Alex, trying to hide the smile that was threatening to form on his face.

Harry stood up and carefully climbed up the tree as well. The branches were already charmed to be unbreakable so it was without any fear that he sat next to his brother, putting a comforting arm around his shoulders.

"I don't blame you for losing control," admitted Harry in a low voice. "Had I been there, I probably would have killed this Marge woman."

"Nothing less than she deserves," spat Alex bitterly, clenching his fists. "But I've never seen Mum so angry before. Even our biggest pranks until now haven't made her react like this."

"I know," said Harry soothingly. "But I think it was mainly due to you calling them 'Muggles'. What exactly happened?"

"It was not meant to be an insult!" defended Alex. "She kept calling us freaks and I called her a Muggle. What's wrong with that? Does she think I'm a blood purist like Malfoy?"

"Come on, mate, you know she doesn't . . . Dad said it brought back memories of the time she spent at school. Don't you remember him telling how much bigotry she had to put up with back then?"

"I guess," exhaled Alex. "Maybe I should have controlled myself –"

"You're not a saint, Alex, you know that!" said Harry in exasperation. "You have more patience than I do! It's their fault for provoking you with their words."

"Mum and Dad won't agree with you."

"Forget about them. I'm telling you that you did nothing wrong. And you better listen to me, little brother, because I'm older and wiser."

Alex snorted in amusement. "Fifty-five seconds does not make you older and wiser, you dolt," he said wryly.

Harry chuckled. "That's still nearly a minute. I learnt a lot in those fifty-five seconds, you know. I had a private chat with Merlin too so that I could one day bestow my knowledge to lesser mortals."

"Like me?"

"Knew you'd understand."

"You're crazy," muttered Alex under his breath. Harry simply laughed.

They sat there in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the cold breeze. The warming charms on their clothes kept them warm enough for the breeze to feel nice against their skin. Finally, Harry broke the silence.

"There is something you should know," he said in a serious voice. "When I was eavesdropping, I also heard the contents of the prophecy. The same prophecy –"

"– that Voldemort mentioned at the end of last term!" exclaimed Alex excitedly. "What does it say?"

Harry sighed as he repeated the wordings to his brother. At the end of it, Alex was looking pale. "Whatever I was expecting, it wasn't that," he admitted softly. "It means you, doesn't it?"

"Not really sure," admitted Harry as he kept swinging his legs in the air. "While there is no denying that Voldemort's curse hit me, both of us have scars – mine due to the curse and yours due to the magical backlash. Mum says the prophecy is too vague. It could still refer to either of us."

"Voldemort said that what happened that night is irrelevant," muttered Alex. "That he would kill both us because he considers us dangerous. And after what happened with the Philosopher's stone . . ."

Both of them swallowed nervously.

"We'll work hard and study," said Harry defiantly. "We can do this!"

"Yeah!" said Alex firmly. "With both of us working together, Voldemort had better run with his tail between his legs!"

They looked at each other and burst out laughing. "Can you imagine?" gasped Harry. "Voldemort actually having a tail?"

"I wonder what his Animagus form is," grinned Alex. "If I had to guess, it would be –"

"– a frog?"

"No, a mongoose. I think that would be the ultimate prank against His Snakiness!"

"And what are you going to be?" teased Harry. "I bet you'll be a chameleon!"

"I'm not going to be a colour-changing lizard!" exclaimed Alex, looking horrified. "I want to be something cool, like a large panther!"

"No fair, I wanted to be a panther!"

"Oh, please, with your temper, you'll probably be an overemotional lion," teased Alex. "All you have to do is sit in the middle of the forest and read a book. The tigress – well, Daphne – will bring you food and –"

He avoided a punch Harry threw at him and jumped to the ground. The boys kept laughing and wrestling as their parents watched from a distance with a smile on their faces.

James placed a kiss on his wife's forehead. "Everything will be fine," he murmured. "You'll see."

Lily hummed. "Come on, let's tuck the girls in bed. These two can remain here for a while. I'll talk to Alex before he goes to bed."

The couple walked back inside the manor with content smiles on their faces, happy to have all their children together again for the holidays.


AN: I apologise for the long delay in uploading a new chapter. I had hit a dry spell in this story, but thankfully, I now have the entire scene mapped out. It will be easier to write the story now that I know how it's going to proceed. Sorry for keeping you all waiting. I assure you that I haven't abandoned this fic. Thank you for your patience.