AN: Thank you for the correction about Harry's missing arm. Here is the last chapter of the story, hope you enjoy it.
It was a rather chilly morning for that time of the year - it was the end of July - but a man and a woman could be seen jogging on the beach, wearing only shorts and t-shirts. When they were finally done running for the day, the man doubled over with his hands on his knees.
"I can't believe you're still making me run like a dog after all these years," the man said through his panting.
"If you think I'm ever letting you get a dad body, you're sorely mistaken," the woman said, her blue eyes narrowing at him sharply. "First of all, you should be happy you have a partner as energetic as me! And second, I've never heard you complaining whenever you get to enjoy this," she said and gestured to her body, trailing her hands up and down her waist and hips.
A groan came from him before he said:
"Sometimes, you make me wanno go commit die. It's my birthday! I should be allowed to sleep in longer at least today!"
"You've been skipping on our morning runs as of late. No way I'm letting this go any longer! How did you ever become a Quidditch superstar, you lazy bum?"
"That was in my past life. I'm just an old man now."
She rolled her eyes at him and let out a suffering sigh.
"You've just turned 20 for god's sake!"
Standing up from his bent-over position, Harry opened his arms... his one arm for a hug.
"Come here. I need to fill my Fleur-meter for the day."
She giggled at his choice of words before wrapping her arms around him tightly. Whenever she took a look at his missing arm, she could not help the overwhelming urge to embrace him and let him know just how much she loved him. But Harry was aware of it and he took full advantage of it. He was addicted to the feeling of intimacy and love he felt whenever she embraced him.
After a while, Fleur broke the hug and looked up at him with a smile before raising on her tippy toes and pecking him on the lips. Puberty had done him well - while Fleur's height stayed mostly the same (around 5'7) he was now 3 inches taller than her. Moreover, Fleur's adamant insistence when it came to working out and staying healthy was shown in Harry's appearance as well.
Unexpectedly - it was 6 am - another pair of people appeared in the distance and Harry let out a dejected sigh.
"We should go."
It was another young couple who was out for a morning run. However, they were Muggles - Harry and Fleur knew all the magicals living close to them and those people weren't sporty; wizards and witches in general weren't.
"Do you have to go to work today?" Harry asked, his voice letting her know clearly how bummed out he was.
"It's only a few hours. I'll be back before you know it, I promise!" Fleur said and gave him a quick kiss before stepping into a tall but narrow cabinet. It was a Vanishing Cabinet connected to the Blackthorn.
As they had dreamt of doing while they were still students, after graduating, Fleur and Harry got married and built a home for themselves in Southern France, Provence, by the sea, not far from Fleur's parents. However, with Fleur's workplace being in London, UK, travelling there by portkey every day was too inconvenient due to the Portkey-sickness that came with it so Harry came up with the idea of using the Vanishing Cabinets. With both the Blackthorn and their home being protected by Fidelius Charms, the Cabinets were perfectly secure.
"It's always 'only a few hours'..." Harry muttered after the Cabinet's door closed and she vanished.
When he lost his arm several years ago, unlike his expectations - "Fleur is going to kill me!" - his then-girlfriend reacted in a completely different manner. She didn't berate him for being reckless or for not consulting with her first. She wasn't angry at him and she didn't nag at him. That was because she knew what it was like to be willing to sacrifice anything for one's goals. She had been willing to throw her life away for the sake of preventing the terrible future of her timeline, to prevent her parents and her little sister from being killed again.
However, starting with that day, considering that most of the people that had played a key role in the terrible future from her timeline were dead and Voldemort was gone for good too, there was nothing to hold her back. She threw herself into her studies.
'Years passed but she's still fixated on it,' he thought.
Her hard work did not betray her: not long after graduating from Hogwarts, Fleur got her Charms Mastery. Out of a Charms Master's four main fields of specialisation - Duelling, Curse Breaking, Spell Crafting, and Enchanting - she chose to focus on Spell Crafting in preparation for becoming an Enchanter and applied for a job at the Department of Mysteries in England. Some of the Unspeakables complained about nepotism when she was hired because the Head of the Department of Mysteries, Bellatrix Black, was Fleur Potter's mother-in-law. But as weeks and months passed, Fleur's work ethic and her results silenced their negativity.
Over the past few weeks in particular, it was a luxury for Harry to spend more than 2 hours a day with his wife. It was no secret to him what Fleur and Bella were working on - to create a life-like prosthetic arm for him - but Harry had long since given up on that thought and he had gotten used to doing everything with one arm, just like in his previous life.
It was 4 o'clock in the afternoon and, as per Harry's predictions, Fleur's "only a few hours" became a full shift, just like usual. Grumbling to himself about his workaholic Veela wife, he went to his "Music Room". It was a soundproofed room holding little else besides the black grand piano by the large window and its seat.
As a child, when Bellatrix started teaching him the piano, Harry gave his best to learn how to play it mostly as a way of showing his appreciation for her. A single woman in her late thirties had taken in an orphan child and cared for him as if it was her own without asking for anything in return - although mentally he had been an adult, his gratitude for her couldn't be put into simple words. However, after a while, he started to love the piano himself too.
But losing his left arm robbed him of the pleasure of playing the piano. Although unable to play his favourite instrument properly anymore, he had still bought a grand piano and dedicated a room for it when he and Fleur moved into their own home. The number of songs that he could play with only one hand was small but he had continued to study the piano over the years and he always bothered Bellatrix to play for him whenever she visited them.
'Off days are rather lonely,' He thought as he put down the book he was reading. It was a book by Alexandre Dumas, one of the most well-known Muggle French writers.
As his eyes wandered around the living room, his gaze momentarily stopped on the two framed golden medals hanging from the wall right across the entrance door. In spite of knowing about his past and his real prowess, Fleur was so proud of him winning the British Duelling Championship and then the International one that she framed them and put them on display for all the guests to see.
'But we don't have any guests outside of our family,' he thought and snorted in amusement. Only those very close to them could visit their home because it was protected by a Fidelius Charm, just like Bella's Blackthorn.
In truth, it was unheard of for someone as young as 17 and respectively 18 years old to become the national and then World Champion in the Duelling championships organised by the ICW. In general, the wizards and witches that won were well into their thirties, many were even older. The consensus was that people into their mid or late forties were the best duellists, striking the perfect balance between knowledge, experience, magic power, and athleticism.
It had not been his intention to cause such waves and become internationally famous but due to his handicap, his original career path went down the drain. Harry could not become a Pro Quidditch player with only one hand. In the end, he had to go back to what he knew to do best: fighting.
However, chasing down dark wizards and witches and fighting for his life on the battlefield once again was the last thing he wanted. From the beginning of this second chance at life, his wish had been to have peace and quiet. And that's how he had decided to get into Duelling. Off-season, when he was not participating in tournaments, he was working as an instructor/mentor for other aspiring Duellists.
Suddenly, a very familiar voice rang from the hallway:
"Honey! I'm home!"
His annoyance at Fleur not taking a day off to spend it together with him on his birthday melted like a miracle at the sound of her voice and he quickly stood up, going to the entrance hall to welcome her.
Although he should've expected it, he was momentarily surprised to see yet another person stepping out of the Cabinet after Fleur: it was Bellatrix. But that was not the end. After Bellatrix, another half a dozen people stepped out of the Vanishing Cabinet, one by one, quickly making his home's entrance hall appear crowded.
Andromeda and Ted Tonks, Nymphadora Weasley with her husband Bill and their 4-year-old girl Angela, and Sirius Black together with his fiance as well (the player had finally decided to settle down), all came to visit him!
"What are you all doing here?" Harry asked wide-eyed.
He wasn't the kind to throw parties and he had definitely not been told that he and Fleur would have any other visitors except for Bella who, for all intents and purposes, was a regular in their home.
Before they could reply, the doorbell rang and, when Andromeda opened the door, the Delacour Couple together and Gabrielle came in as well.
He could only give up and smile wryly before calling for his House Elf's help:
One hour later, after everyone sang him "Happy Birthday" and they feasted on the cake that Fleur had bought, except for Tonks and her daughter they were all seated at a table under a gazebo that had been enlarged thanks to a certain Charms Mistress to accommodate everyone.
Seeing as everyone had their own lives and jobs, it wasn't that often that they met so they were happy to catch up over a glass or two of white wine.
"She's got you all wrapped around her little finger. I bet you're only speaking in French when it's just the two of you. Don't try to deny it, I can hear it in your accent!" Sirius said accusatorily.
"What can I say, I love my wife," Harry said and grinned at the way Fleur's face lit up when she heard his words. "And French is a very beautiful language too."
"Damn it, Harry, you're an Englishman! How could you!" Sirius said in irritation and downed his entire glass of wine in one gulp.
As a wine producer and connoisseur, Mr Delacour felt his eyebrow twitch at Sirius's barbaric way of drinking white wine.
"All I can say is that I am glad not all Englishmen lack class. I don't know what my poor daughter would 'ave done if that 'ad been the case," Jean said and sipped elegantly from his glass.
"Ha~ah, you, French, and your wines. Weak alcohol is for weak men! Hah!"
Apolline put her hand on her husband's forearm and giggled quietly while Sirius's fiance also attempted to calm him down:
"Siri, baby, I think you've had too much wine."
But when she tried to take away his now full glass of wine, he quickly downed it one gulp once more, faster than she could even react, making everyone at the table start laughing.
In spite of Sirius's and Jean's cutting remarks at each other, there was no tension. They all knew by now that Sirius and Jean were like oil and vinegar. They went together but they didn't mix. Their annual family reunions on Christmas would not be complete in anyone's eyes if the two men didn't try to get on each other's nerves at least once. At this point, it was almost like a tradition.
By now, the sky had turned several shades of orange and red as the sun was about to set.
"I think it's time we gave the birthday boy his present, isn't?" Bellatrix suddenly stood up and said.
"I've been telling you every year that you don't have to buy me presents," Harry said helplessly. "I have all that I could wish for. Spending my birthday together with you is the best thing you could've given me. I didn't expect all of you to come over this year."
"Hehe, I am pretty sure you'll be eating your words in a few moments. Fleur, would you be a dear and bring me my suitcase please?"
The look of anticipation on Fleur's and Bella's faces was hard to ignore and Harry felt himself getting excited because of them too.
While Fleur went back in the house, Bellatrix called Harry's House Elf and asked him to take away the bottles and glasses of wine from the table (much to Jean's and Sirius's chagrin)
Once Fleur put the suitcase right on the table, she came next to Bellatrix and said:
"Bella and I have been working on this present for a very long time. It's been six years since you lost your left arm-"
"You didn't!" Harry said in disbelief.
Fleur's eyes teared up with emotion and she nodded several times.
"We did. We did it!" she said and finally opened the suitcase.
Fleur and Bella's present for Harry had been kept a secret not just from him but from everyone else. When she opened the suitcase, everyone huddled around closely to take a better look at it.
"It's... incredible," Harry said in a whisper.
It was an arm. A man's left arm to be precise. But it wasn't like the arm that Voldemort had rewarded Wormtail with in his past life. The arm in front of him looked life-like, impossible to distinguish from a real one at a first glance.
Fleur came around the table and grabbed the artificial arm before raising it in front of Harry.
"Roll up your sleeve, please."
Harry was mostly on autopilot as he rolled up the short sleeve of his t-shirt, revealing the stump that was left after he had severed his arm 6 years ago.
"This is going to hurt in the beginning for a few moments when the arm will connect to the rest of your nervous system. Bear with it."
Saying that, she raised the artificial arm and touched its end to his left shoulder. Harry was forced to lean on his other hand against the table to not fall from the sharp burst of pain that suddenly rocked his body but thankfully it did not last long.
When the pain disappeared, the artificial arm melded into his shoulder and its skin tone changed to match the rest of his body as well.
"Come on, give it a try!" Bellatrix urged from the side, tears rolling freely down her cheeks at the scene.
Slowly, as if he was afraid to not break something, Harry gently moved the fingers of his new left arm.
"I can't believe it."
He had resigned himself to a life as a cripple because, as far as he knew, even magic couldn't regrow whole limbs from scratch.
Harry suddenly took Fleur in his arms, hugged her tightly to his chest and buried his face into his hair. He wasn't making any sounds but the rocking of his shoulders let everyone know that the was crying his eyes out.
It was only two barely audible words but they were so thick with emotion that the others felt themselves tearing up too.
"Goddamnit, who is cutting onions now!" Sirius said and wiped the wetness at the corners of his eyes with the back of his hand.
In spite of himself, Harry found himself chuckling through his tears at Sirius's words. Breaking the hug, he opened his other arm and embraced Bellatrix too who joined them in a three-way embrace.
That heartwarming scene was not meant to last forever though. Half an hour later, while they were all having dinner, a tawny owl carrying mail suddenly landed on the dinner table and stopped in front of Bellatrix.
Bellatrix let out a sigh of annoyance but she did not take her anger on the poor owl. Instead, after untying the rolled piece of parchment on its leg, she fed the owl a generous piece of chicken breast before sending it back on its way.
Unfurling the piece of parchment, she quickly skimmed through its contents before using her wand to Vanish it, all the while looking as if she was fed up with it.
"What did it say?" Tonks asked curiously, alternating between looking at Bellatrix and making sure that her pink-haired daughter did pour her bowl of tomato soup on her head.
"Nothing out of ordinary. Just another couple of Muggleborns lacking common sense. The parents of a young witch from Manchester went to the Police and tried to divulge the secret of our world. Everyone has been Obliviated by the Unspeakables. It's routine stuff, I don't get why Selwyn keeps sending me letters for every single trivial thing. It's starting to irritate me. If he keeps that up he might find himself getting demoted back to his old position soon."
"Isn't that the man that 'as been trying to woo Bella for years?" Gabrielle piped up at the chance to start some gossip.
"He's a married man, and he has children even older than Harry," Bellatrix said with a huff and waved her hand dismissively.
"That doesn't stop 'im from ogling at your bum every time you turn around," Fleur retorted.
"Fleur!" "Fleur!" the Delacour couple shouted scandalized, much to Bill's and Tonks' amusement.
"When you look like me, men ogle at you all the time. It's normal," Bellatrix said.
"Ever the modest and proper lady," Andromeda said sarcastically. "Don't ever change, Bella."
"By the way, where is Narcissa?" Bill asked curiously. The Weasleys and the Malfoys had been at odds for so many years before Lucius and Draco's unexpected death that it was hard for him not to notice her absence.
"She's on a trip around Europe with her husband. I think they are in Italy now," Andromeda replied to him.
While everyone was making small talk about this and that, Harry could not ignore the contents of Bellatrix's letter.
The "Zombie Apocalypse" as the Muggles had dubbed the Inferi Pandemic from 6 years ago had left a deep wound on the non-magical world. Hundreds of millions of people had lost their lives and even half a year after Voldemort's death and the end of the plague, people were still burying dead bodies all over the world. Six years later, the world was barely now coming back to normal.
However, while society started functioning again rather fast and economic activities went back on track, people were not like soulless machines to so easily forget the horrors of the past. There was almost no-one who had not lost a father, a mother, a lover, a sibling, a cousin, or at least a friend in the "Apocalypse". Because of that, nowadays, it was not all that uncommon for the parents of first-year Muggleborn students to sneakily try to inform the authorities about Wizarding World. Due to the fact that even half a decade later the scientists had not been able to find an answer to how dead bodies could start moving again and attack the living, after learning about the fact that magic was real, one of the first things that people would ask themselves was: "was the Zombie Apocalypse caused by magic?".
'It's getting increasingly difficult for us to continue our lives like before,' Harry thought and his mind also went to the ever-increasing number of CCTV cameras in most of the large cities in Europe. Then, he also knew from his previous life that Muggles' technology was bound to experience extraordinary growth in the years to come. 'Obliviation won't be able to erase all evidence once smartphones become common among the Muggle population...'
The Wizarding World would soon be confronted with a crucial decision: were they going to come out of hiding and expose their existence to the Muggles? Or would they decide to isolate themselves completely from the Muggle world?
Harry didn't know what decision were the leading figures of the ICW going to take as he had not been around long enough to see it in his previous life. He had stepped into the Veil of Death before he had the chance to witness that historic event. Besides, this was a different world with different circumstances. Harry had long since learnt not to put much stock in his knowledge about the future of his previous life.
"You ok? Any discomfort from your left arm?" Fleur asked with a smile and put her right hand on top of his, squeezing it lightly.
"None whatsoever," he said and also smiled before bringing her hand up to his lips and kissing the back of her palm tenderly. "Everything is fine."
And it was fine. Surrounded by a big family, married to a loving and faithful wife, his body no longer handicapped, and living in a beautiful home of his own, in Southern France, not far from the sea, in the countryside - never before in either of his two lives had Harry been as content and happy as he was now.
AN: This is the end. After almost 2 years, the story is finally completed. As I've probably told you before, when I started writing this story, I had not expected it to get so popular. Thank for you your support and for encouraging me to write such a long story and bring it to completion as well. I hope that this is a satisfactory epilogue for you and that it ties most of the loose ends.
PS: Many of you probably agree with me when I say that this not-evil version of Bellatrix turned out to be a gem. I know quite a few among you were regretful that she was not paired with Harry as well. I won't spoil too much but I will say that there might be a spin-off one-shot or, who knows, maybe even a full-fledged story with this pairing in the future. If it ever comes to be I will let you know, promise.
Until next time!