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The day broke hot and with a beautiful sun. In her room in the castle, the same room she had occupied since she was 6 years old until she moved to the Gryffindor Tower, next to Dumbledore’s room, Ariel woke up a little bit earlier than she was expecting, but after the battle last night, after she had finally met Harry as a person and found out that the man she loved and trusted since she was 16 years old was alive, she could not spend one more minute in bed. There was too much adrenaline in her veins. And besides, there were lots to be told and done. First of all, she needed to talk to her grandfather and tell him what she had done: she had avenged Sirius’s death, because at the moment of the battle, she had thought he was dead. She was not a child anymore, she was a grown-up woman and had been a great Auror for the Ministry and the Order for a couple of years before Lily and James died, but she was still Dumbledore’s Great Great Granddaughter and she loved to discuss things with him. And also... People had been killed. Bad people, but people all the same.


Ariel got dressed in one of her Muggle clothes comprising of a pair of jeans, a white shirt and finished her ensemble off with a pair of brown boots. After washing her face and teeth, she left her room and made her way to Dumbledore’s Study. Standing at the entrance to his office she looked at the gargoyle and smiled.



‘Strawberry ice cream,’ she said and the gargoyle sprang to life, hopping aside, allowing the wall to split in two and a spiral staircase to appear, moving down slowly. Ariel stepped on it, and the wall behind her closed. At the top of the stairs she knocked on the door and opened it. ‘Hello?’ she called and entered, looking around. ‘Hi, Fawkes! Is Grandpa here?’ she asked the phoenix. Fawkes tuned his head, looked at her and blinked.



‘Oh, if it is not my Great Granddaughter,’ said a man in one of the portraits. ‘Are you tired of being a bird already?’



Ariel turned around and looked at Phineas Nigellus’s portrait on the wall.



‘Hi, Grandpa Nigellus,’ she said, smiling. ‘And nope, if it is to protect and be with Harry, I could be a bird forever.’



‘What a waste of talent! Waste of energy! Protect that rogue!’ Nigellus said.



‘My Godson, Grandpa,’ she said. ‘By the way, Sirius says hi.’



‘I did not know you spoke with the dead,’ Nigellus said with a strange look on his face.



‘Uh, he’s not dead, he’s very alive and handsome, Grandpa,’ she said with a sigh. ‘Oh, and he proposed again,’ she added, showing him her hand with the ring. He looked at her for a few seconds.



‘That’s something I haven’t been informed about,’ he stated seriously. She smiled.



‘Grandfather, you are just a portrait,’ she said matter-of-factly. ‘It’s not like you need to know everything that happens with the Black clan.’



‘This answer is so typical of you,’ he said indignantly. ‘Dumbledore spoiled you.’



‘Oh, my dear friend Phineas,’ Dumbledore said from the stairs, ‘you should just be happy and proud of our girl’



They looked towards the stairs and Ariel smiled.



‘Grandpa! Good morning,’ she greeted him.



‘Good morning, my dear.’



‘Forever the same mistake... Shameful!’ Nigellus groaned.



Dumbledore looked at Ariel, who laughed, and shook his head.



‘Grandfather,’ she started, ‘can you have breakfast with me? I’m starving!’



‘Absolutely,’ he answered with a smile, ‘we have much to talk about.’



Ariel smiled and looked at the portrait of Phineas Nigellus.



‘Bye, Grandfather! I’ll be back late, so we can chat a little bit more,’ she said and left with Dumbledore, closing the door behind her, both ignoring Phineas Nigellus' grumble.



‘Always the same... I bet he’s going in search of Sirius to deliver some choice words about you and him,’ Dumbledore said and Ariel laughed.



‘Well, it must be a little bit boring to be a portrait, don’t you think?’ she asked.



‘Oh, Ariel... You will never change, will you?’ he asked her in a patronizing voice. She smiled with her cheeks turning slightly pink. ‘Looking at you is like going back in time and seeing you running around the castle or giggling with young Lily in the corridors.’



Ariel’s eyes filled with tears, but she smiled. Those were amazing times... The only thing that frightened them back then was their OWLs and NEWTs, or maybe not even that, but the next bloke they would have a crush on the following week...




HOGWARTS, OCTOBER 1976




The door to the dungeons opened abruptly and four boys came into the room laughing and talking, making all the people in the room turn and look at them.



‘Sorry, Professor,’ a tall, blond boy said, going to one of the cauldrons at the back of the classroom and he was followed by the three others, James Potter, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. Lily and Ariel looked at each other and Ariel rolled her eyes.



‘Boys,’ Lily said to her friend.



‘As I was saying before being interrupted by the four late gentlemen... Today we are going to study some of the most powerful potions there are! Can anyone tell me what they are?’ Professor Slughorn asked.



Ariel and Lily looked at each other and both raised their hands into the air. Slughorn smiled and looked at the girls. Sirius and James, at the back of the Gryffindor table, looked at each other and Sirius sighed.



‘Why do they always know everything? It’s annoying,’ he said with a grimace. James and Peter nodded. Lily looked at them, casting a disapproving glance at the same time. James straightened up and tried to smooth his untidy hair. Ariel tried to hide her laughter and Lily nudged her.



‘Miss Loiseau... Can you tell me what this one is?’ the Professor asked, pointing to the cauldron next to the Hufflepuff table.



‘It’s Polyjuice Potion, sir. It makes a person look like someone else for an hour,’ she replied.



‘Excellent, Miss Loiseau! And this one, Miss Evans?’ Professor Slughorn asked, pointing to another cauldron next to the Ravenclaw table.



‘It’s Veritaserum, Professor. It makes the person who drinks it tell only the truth,’ Lily answered.



‘Perfect! And this one?’ he pointed to yet another cauldron.



Ariel looked at Sirius and raised her hand again. Slughorn looked at the girl and smiled.



‘It’s Amortentia, Professor... It’s the most powerful love potion there is. It does not actually create love, but it makes the person who drinks it become obsessive with the person who gave it to him or her. Also, each person smells it differently. For example, I can smell...’ Ariel closed her eyes, ‘chocolate, jasmine and….’ she opened her eyes and glanced at the end of the table, towards Sirius’ direction, then at Professor Slughorn, ‘oak!’



Lily bit her lower lip, trying to contain her laughter this time, while James, Remus and Peter looked at Sirius, who, for the first time, felt his cheeks growing hot. Slughorn smiled.



‘Very interesting combination, Miss Loiseau! 20 points to Gryffindor for the excellent assessment, ladies!’ he said.



Ariel smiled timidly and Slughorn continued on with his lesson, asking them to brew a potion called Mens Sana, a potion to clean the mind and make it more appropriate to learning. After Professor Slughorn checked all the cauldrons, he asked the students to put their potions in vials and leave them on his desk. The girls packed their things and left the classroom, going to the greenhouses for their Herbology class.


‘Loiseau!’



Ariel and Lily looked towards the sound and James Potter smiled as he moved towards them.



‘Hi, Potter,’ Ariel said, smiling back at him. She looked at Lily, who sighed.



‘Hi... Hi, Evans!’ James said.



‘Oh... Hi, Potter’, Lily replied with an impatient look. Ariel looked at James, who was looking at Lily, and she smiled.



‘So, did you want to talk to me?’ Ariel asked.



‘Sorry?’ James said, not looking away from Lily.



‘You... Do you want to talk to me?’ Ariel asked again. James turned and stared at her blankly. ‘Yeah, you know you called me,’ she added.



‘Oh... Yes!’ he said with a smile and smoothed his hair, like he always did when Lily was around. ‘Uh... We have Quidditch practice tonight.’



‘Oh... alright,’ Ariel said.



‘Just wanted to make sure that you don’t forget it’, he said.



‘No, I won’t. Thanks,’ she said. ‘Is someone going to watch it?’



‘You mean...’ James asked.



‘I mean, the next game is against Slytherin, and there is always a spy there to try and steal our techniques, Captain,’ Ariel answered.



‘Yeah... always! But I don’t think they will tonight... Moony and Wormtail said they will be there,’ James said.



‘Oh, ok, then,’ Ariel said, ‘so your friend Sirius won’t have a fit during practice this time?’ she asked. James laughed.



‘Just ignore him and you’ll be OK,’ he advised her.



‘C’mon, Ariel, let’s go,’ Lily admonished.



‘Go on, I’ll be there in a minute,’ Ariel told her.



‘OK.’



Lily left them in the Entrance Hall and headed towards the Greenhouses. Once Lily had left they looked at each other and Ariel held her hair, twisting it over her shoulder.



‘So, Hogsmeade on Sunday?’ she asked.



‘Yeah, I guess,’ he said.



‘Don’t worry, James... she’ll be there, just... try not to mess so much with your hair! That is really annoying and... try to be more... not so arrogant in front of her and please... please ignore Snivellus!’ Ariel advised him. He looked at her impatiently.



‘You are asking me to do something almost impossible’ he sighed.



‘If you want to go out with Evans, you’ll have to try. Oh and take Remus with you, not Sirius! He causes too much trouble!’



James looked at her with a mischievous smile.



‘You don’t want me to take Sirius with me?’ he asked



‘Yes! I mean... If he wants to go to Hogsmeade, fine, but don’t bring him to the Three Broomsticks to meet us!’ she answered.



‘This is very strange... you of all people, asking me this!’



‘Why?’ she asked him defiantly, crossing her arms over her chest.



‘Because if I didn’t know you better, I’d say our Potions class was a lapse!’ he said with an amused face.



Ariel’s cheeks turned pink, but she took a deep breath, narrowing her big blue eyes.



‘What? What do you mean?’ she asked.



James smirked. ‘If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!’ he said



She shook her head. ‘That’s right. You can’t be nice even when someone is trying to help you, huh? Fine!’ she said, a little irritated. ‘And wipe that smirk off your face, Potter!’



‘Ok, I’ll try to remember your advice,’ he said, still smiling.



‘Your... troop is coming!’ she said with an upset tone and turned around, heading to the greenhouse. James smiled and Sirius slapped his shoulder, wrapping an arm around it.



‘Inviting Miss Loiseau to Hogsmeade?’ Sirius asked, smirking. James looked at him and shook his head.



‘Of course not, we were talking about the practice tonight,’ James explained.



‘Yes, of course,’ Sirius said.



‘You know, Padfoot... You should start paying more attention in class,’ Remus said. Peter and Sirius looked at him with a blank expression, while James’s eyes met Remus’s and they both smiled.



‘What?’ Sirius asked.



‘Let’s go to class or we’ll be late,’ James said. Sirius spent all the way to the greenhouse pestering them to explain what Remus had meant.




PRESENT DAY




‘Loas of memories, I believe,’ Dumbledore said, examining her face and eyes. Ariel looked at him and smiled.



‘Yes... being here by myself, and walking among the students, is...’ she stopped and sighed, ‘well it’s like being home! I mean, Hogwarts was my home even when I was away!’



‘I know,’ he said and they smiled.



As they entered the Great Hall, which was still empty because of the early hour in the morning, they made their way over to the staff table and sat down. Immediately it filled with food and Dumbledore poured himself some tea while Ariel poured herself a cup of coffee.



‘How long do we have alone before the students start coming down for breakfast, Grandfather?’ Ariel asked.



‘Until nine, and once they are all here I will make an announcement’, he answered.



‘So, we do have some time?’ she said.



‘Plenty of it,’ he replied leaning back into his chair, resting his hands neatly on the table.



‘Poor kids, they will be terrified when they see you here’, she said, amused. ‘The Wizarding World reckons you are dead, Grandfather.’



Dumbledore smiled and nodded. Ariel shook her head and while sipping her coffee she gazed round at the familiar surroundings. Her eyes roamed to the ceiling; it was just like outside, cloudless, the sun shining and beautiful.



‘I am very proud of you, Ariel,’ Dumbledore said suddenly and she looked at him. ‘Yes... You did an amazing job during these seven years and you never hesitated, even when you thought I was dead... Or Sirius.’



‘I...’ she began, ‘I had Harry. Even if he didn’t know who I really was, I had him’



‘Yes,’ Dumbledore smiled, ‘Harry is special in so many ways, even when he is not aware of it.’



‘That’s what makes him so different from Tom Riddle. His childhood was hell and even so he knew how to separate things,’ she said proudly. ‘He’s a little bit of James and Lily, but he’s so... him. His temper is something though’



‘No one better than you to judge it,’ he said with a smile, ‘you know every side of Harry.’



‘Yes, I do’, she said, nodding.



Dumbledore held her hand and they looked at each other. ' Ariel,’ he said, ‘you were trained as an Auror, a fighter, and I know you are a different person now, with thoughts different than when you left Hogwarts twenty years ago, but you did what you had to do. In a war, we fight for our beloved ones. That is one of the reasons that make us go further,’ he added. Their eyes met and she bit her lower lip. ‘I know what happened between you and Bellatrix Lestrange.’



‘I’m not proud of it... It was revenge,’ she muttered.



‘Sometimes we do things that do not make us proud of ourselves,’ he stated. She nodded and hugged him tight. Dumbledore hugged her back.



‘Thank you, Grandfather.’



He smiled and kissed her forehead, then looked at the doors, which were open, allowing the Great Hall to be filled with students.



‘Oh, it is time, already,’ Dumbledore said with a smile. Ariel looked at the students entering the hall and then stopping in their tracks upon seeing their deceased Headmaster. The Great Hall burst into whispers and the students looked at the staff table with completely puzzled faces. Dumbledore watched as the Great Hall began to fill, and the whispers and looks towards the table grew. Professor McGonagall arrived and sat next to Professor Dumbledore, waiting until the place was completely full. Among the students, Ariel spotted the ‘trio’ and Ginny walking towards the Gryffindor table. Her and Harry’s eyes met and they both smiled.



Soon the Great Hall was filled with all the students, including Luna and Neville, both had just been released from the infirmary with scratches and Neville with a broken arm, all the staff joined them and Sirius, who sat next to Ariel. As he sat down they both exchanged a smile before he took her hand and kissed it. Professor McGonagall looked at Professor Dumbledore, who nodded and stood up, cleared his throat, and making conversation faded out. The students looked at him with surprise and confusion and the Headmaster smiled.



‘Good morning,’ he started. ‘I am absolutely certain that you are very surprised to see me here, especially because most of you attended my funeral last year, but all I am going to say about it at this moment is that Hogwarts is my home and as long as there are people who are faithful to me in these grounds, I will always be back home. I owe you all an explanation about my supposed death, but I’m certain that the Daily Prophet will explain everything.’ He said it with twinkle in his blue eyes. The students gave a nervous laugh still not believing that their former or current Headmaster was really there, alive. ‘Now, the most important announcement I have ever made in my whole life...’ he said and an eerie silence fell across the hall. ‘Today is a very special day for the Wizarding community. As you must be aware by now, last night was the end of the Second Wizarding War, for Lord Voldemort was defeated at last!’



The crowd involuntary shuddered at hearing Voldemort’s name, but the words ‘defeated at last’ that followed it turned the shuddering into cries of joy and an epidemic of hugs among the students. Dumbledore smiled as he saw the happy faces of the students.



‘We must never forget, however,’ he began again and the crowd turned its attention back to him, ‘that were it not for Harry Potter and his most loyal friends, Mr Weasley, Mr Longbottom and Misses Granger, Weasley and Lovegood...’ Harry smiled uncomfortably and looked at the others, blushing, then at Dumbledore, who smiled and winked at him, ‘who had the courage to fight and believed in the victory and freedom of the Wizarding World. and did what was necessary to free our world from the most evil influence in history! Naturally, some of his followers are still at loose, so it isn’t imprudent to be careful, but a new day has begun and we should do nothing but celebrate!’ he clapped his hands and goblets of butterbeer appeared everywhere. ‘To peace!’ he raised his glass in a toast.



‘To peace!’ the crowd cried in unison and they cheered.



Dumbledore smiled and drank his Butterbeer, then looked at the students again. ‘I have one more announcement to make: tonight, we will have a party to celebrate our victory and a message was sent inviting your families to come and celebrate with us,’ he added with a smile. ‘Oh, and I was almost forgetting... All the exams are cancelled! You can head home with your families tonight after the feast, so I advise you to pack.’



The crowd cheered and cried. Dumbledore sat down again and the food appeared on the tables, so the students started having breakfast. Hermione sighed and looked at the boys.



‘I can’t believe it... again!’ she said, exasperated.



‘Again what?’ Ron asked with his mouth full of food.



‘You don’t need to be tested, Hermione! Our greatest test was outside, fighting against Voldemort, the Death Eaters and the rest of his followers,’ Harry said with a smile.



‘Harry is right ‘Mione. And out there you not only proved how smart and powerful you are, but you also proved your loyalty’, Ron added. They looked at him.



‘Where did that come from?’ Ginny asked playfully. ‘My brother is using reason?’



‘My brain might be tiny, but it’s there!’ Ron said, pointing to his head.



‘No, mate... It’s not tiny at all! If it weren’t for your strategy, maybe today wouldn't be one of the best days of my life,’ Harry said with a grateful smile. Hermione’s eyes filled with tears and Ginny smiled. Ron’s face turned as red as a beetroot.



‘Oh, Harry,’ Hermione whimpered and held his hand. Harry smiled at her.



‘I’m serious, Hermione. We are a team, without you lot, I wouldn’t have made it,’ he said matter-of-factly.



They smiled. Harry looked at the staff table. Ariel, Sirius and Lupin were talking and laughing, probably reminiscing over something funny, since Ariel seemed to be mimicking and making grimaces.



‘Right, mate?’ Ron asked. Harry looked at him.



‘Err... Right,’ he said and his eyes met Ginny’s for a moment. He sighed. ‘Gin... Can we talk outside for a minute, please?’



‘Uh... Sure,’ she agreed. Ron and Hermione watched them as they got up and left the Great Hall and she smiled.



‘What?’ Ron asked.



‘Nothing, Ron. Nothing,’ she said and sighed, taking a sip of her pumpkin juice. Ron shrugged and turned his attention to the food, which seemed to be a lot less complicated than women.

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