Well here it is. Sorry it took so long the last two months have been insane. I can't believe I'm finally done. This has been an epic journey and I want to thank everyone who came along for the ride. You all rock. I hope this epilogue lives up to expectations it's a bit thrown together. I'm sure I'll reread it after the holidays and hate it. But I need to finish this story before it got too heavy for me to carry anymore. I never wanted it to turn into a burden. So here it is and thanks again for all the amazing support.
God has a sense of humor. That was all Harry could think the next day after the defeat of Tom and Aaquerafet. If he'd thought being “the boy who lived” was difficult being “the boy who lived twice.” was even worse. Contemplating the situation by the Hogwarts lake Harry felt the familiar presence that had come to mean the world to him.
“Hello, sir.” Harry said without turning around.
Dumbledore chuckled with amusement. “I see my days of appearing without warning are now over.”
“Oh I don't know, sir.” Harry smiled wearily back. “I'm sure you still have a few tricks up your sleeve.”
“That's what I've always appreciated about you, Harry.” Dumbledore replied sitting on the log beside Harry. “You never underestimate me, while never putting me on a pedestal to high for me to stand.”
Harry contemplated the Headmasters wise words before saying, “It's the least I can do since you've returned the favor.”
“You're facing some difficult times ahead, Harry.” Dumbledore continued. “Decisions that are almost going to be more difficult then the war you've just so successfully fought.”
“How did you handle it, sir?” Harry asked desperately. “I never wanted the title of “the boy who lived”, much less this new title of “the boy who lived twice.”
“You do seem destined to remain in the public eye.” Dumbledore agreed.
“What makes it worse is that I don't know how I did it. I mean I saw the curse coming and knew I needed to make the sacrifice but all I remember is everything going black and then waking up sometime later with “the sacrifice” ringing in my ears.” Harry ranted the frustration of not being able to explain his resurrection coloring his tone.
“Yes, that does seem to add to the air of mystery already surrounding your rather extraordinary life.” Dumbledore replied calmly.
“So what do I do?” Harry asked. “I mean even Rita Skeeters being nice to me.” Harry lamented. “She actually apologized to me.” Harry exclaimed incredulously.
“I do have to say I wouldn't be so eager to change that if I were you.” Dumbledore admitted pragmatically.
That forced a chuckle from Harry, “Under normal circumstances no, sir you're right I would love hearing her apologize, but sir if even someone who hated me thinks I'm some kind of I don't even know what, then how am I ever going to get to live a normal life?”
“Yes with your current resurrection fighting Tom and then young Samuel's stunning new development the wizarding world is quite in turmoil.” Dumbledore admitted.
“Yeah poor Sam.” Harry said his usual empathy coming back to the front. “I mean I've had years getting used to being famous. The Winchesters are used to flying under the radar.”
“Well I'm sure when they get back to the States things will return to a more normal state for our fearless trio.”
“Think they'd be willing to take on a stowaway?” Harry asked somewhat seriously.
“Might not be a bad idea.” Dumbledore answered before smiling at the shocked look on Harry's face. “Did you know after the defeat of Grindelwald I took some time to myself?”
“Really?” Harry asked looking stunned.
“Yes, really.” Dumbledore stated his eyes drifting back to his younger years, “As I'm sure you know Grindelwald was once a friend and our eventual battle was very difficult for me emotionally. Add to the sudden all consuming fame that came after and I felt quite overwhelmed.”
“So what did you do?” Harry asked the question again desperate for some guidance.
“I backed my bags and apperated to China.” Dumbledore admitted.
“China, sir?” Harry asked unsurely.
“It was the one place I could think of that no one would know who I was and also the last place I could think anyone would look.” Dumbledore explained. “I wandered around reliving the battle in my head everyday alone and friendless falling deeper and deeper into depression till one day I met a rather remarkable man.” Dumbledore's eyes were unfocused turned inward remembering his rather black time as a younger man.
Harry remained silent transfixed by the story unfolding in front of him.
“I was standing in front of an opium den contemplating if I should go inside when a man came up to me and said, “If it's taking you this long to decide then the answers you seek will not be inside that place.” I was quite stunned and I asked him how he could possibly know anything about the answers I was looking for.” Dumbledore gazed at Harry the twinkle firmly in his eye. “He then replied that everyone was looking for the same answers it was only the details of the circumstances that were different.”
“So?” Harry asked at last as the silence continued.
“So I realized the gentleman was right. Harry my life hadn't turned out the way I'd hoped or dreamed, but it was still life. I could choose to accept the inevitable and make the best of the situation or continue to dwell in the past losing what life there was left ahead of me.” Dumbledore replied sagely.
“Oh.” Harry said looking down at his hands.
“Of course making that decision was just the first step.” Dumbledore started again. “I then sat down with some parchment and quill and began to make a list of what was really important to me. What I needed to do to be able to look in the mirror each morning. Once that was done I packed my bags and came home.”
Harry stared out over the peaceful lake and considered the Headmasters advice.
“Once you know what you can't live without you'll find everything else will cease to matter. Including the adoration or abject hatred of people you have never met.” Dumbledore rose as he finished patting Harry gently on the shoulder and then walking away.
Harry felt a smile tug on his lips, “Sneaky old bastard.” Harry thought fondly as he stayed by the lake enjoying the now peaceful atmosphere as his emotions began to mirror those of his surroundings.
“So I was wondering?” Dean asked conversationally as he and Sam packed their belongings.
“Yeah.” Sam answered looking slightly apprehensive.
“You going to fly back home or are you going with Dad and I?” Dean asked with a smirk.
Shaking his head Sam threw a shirt at Dean's head before muttering, “Jerk.”
“Bitch.” Came the automatic reply.
“The flying jokes aren't going to stop any time soon are they?” Sam asked with resignation.
“Uh that would be no.” Dean snarked back with a grin.
“Great, just great.” Sam muttered.
“Oh come on, Sammy.” Dean groused amazed at his brothers lack of enthusiasm. “You've got frigging WINGS man! How can you not be totally stoked?”
“I don't know, Dean?” Sam argued back. “Maybe because you had to DIE for me to get them and that's all I can think about.”
Sam's outburst caused Dean to pause and take a good look at his younger brother. Sam's eyes were filled with anguish and distress over the memory of Dean's death. “Dude, don't turn this into a chick flick. I'm fine. You've got wings, lets focus on the positive.” Dean stated as honestly as he could.
Sam shook his head and rolled his eyes, he knew Dean wouldn't be comfortable with his outburst but Sam wasn't the type to hold in his emotions he worked through them that was how he stayed sane. “Whatever you say, Dean.” Sam wearily said at last knowing he wouldn't get any further with Dean.
“Exactly,” Dean said jumping up and crossing to Sam. “I'm older and therefore I'm always right. Now whip out the wings I want to see them again up close, dude they are so bad ass.”
Sam couldn't help but chuckle even as he blushed bright red. “Jerk, no I'm not whipping them out. Don't be crazy.”
“How is this crazy, come on let me see them.” Dean cajoled.
Sam let out a long suffering sigh as he took off his shirt and concentrated till the wings erupted from his back and unfurled to there full length.
Dean looked on with awe and glee. “Dude you've got the frigging wing span of a 747 now. That's so cool.” Dean approached a wing and began to closely inspect them. “We are so going to turn the tide on evil. I mean first there was the visions, then the telekinesis, and now wings. I can't believe I'm saying this but you're like an evil killing machine.”
“And it would bode you both well to keep that little secret to ourselves.” John stated emphatically from the doorway watching his sons interact. He too approached one of Sam's wings and let out a low whistle of appreciation. They really are something else, Sammy.” John gently ran his fingers of the soft white feathers.
“What are you talking about, dad?” Dean asked looking confused. “This is a great thing.”
“I'm not doubting that, son.” John replied seriously. “But there are too many hunters out there who are incapable of seeing anything other then black and white. I'm afraid they might think Sam here is something to hunt rather then an asset.”
“I didn't even think about that.” Sam said softly retracting the wings. “But Dad I doubt Bobby or Paster Jim would ever think that.”
“Look boys there are a lot more hunters out there then you think and they are also better informed then you might believe. I tried to keep you boys isolated from them due to Sammy being special but this fight we just finished was too big to keep a secret and once word gets out I'm worried about the consequences.” John said taking a seat on the coach and looking each young man in the eye.
“How many hunters are we talking here?” Dean asked gearing up into big brother mode. They hadn't just kicked evils ass and won to be brought down by their own side.
“At least a couple hundred.” John answered steadily. “There's a roadhouse where most converge to pass along information and discuss cases.”
“A couple of HUNDRED!” Sam exclaimed beginning to pace the room with agitation.
“Look, Sammy I'm not saying it's going to be a problem but I just want you boys to be on your guard when we get back stateside.” John answered trying to calm down his youngest son.
“But we won't have to split up anymore now that the Demons dead.” Dean rationalized. “I mean can't you talk to these people or what?” Dean asked equally stunned but confident in John and his own abilities to protect Sam from some idiotic hunter who got the wrong idea.
“I hope so, Dean but I'd rather not have to get in a theological debate with these people.” John answered. “I'd rather we just continue on the way we have slowly introducing you boys to these guys without any preconceived notions on their parts.”
“Let them get to know me as a hunter before finding out I'm a freak.” Sam clarified feeling weariness once more settle into his bones.
“Hey, you're not a freak.” Dean stated his eyes burning with a fierce protective light. “You've got a gift, Sammy. I'm talking about a real honest to God gift to help hold back the forces of evil and no one anywhere is going to get the chance to think otherwise.”
“Dean's right, Sam.” John stated rising and standing in front of Sam causing him to stop pacing. “This is not a bad thing I just want us to be cautious that's all.”
Sam slowly nodded his head appreciating John and Dean's support though inwardly not feeling as confident that his abilities weren't going to cause some serious problems. “Perhaps we should stay here a little longer.” Sam suggested at last. “Spend some time finding out what I've really become before trying to convince a bunch of paranoid hunters that I'm not going to go dark side and lead the forces of hell against them.”
“No, Sam I think are best bet is to get back to work and let our actions speak louder then words.” John answered standing and continuing to pack the weapons up for travel. “We'll just keep a low profile for a while and in a few weeks I'll take you boys to the roadhouse for your first introduction into the hunter connections.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Dean agreed as he grabbed his favorite shotgun and began to dissemble it for travel.
“Okay.” Sam agreed knowing that arguing was futile. “Lets go home.”
When Harry entered the Gryfindor Common room later he was relieved to see only Ron and Hermione waiting for him. The speculating as well as looks of awe from other classmates was still difficult for the young man to handle. Even with his new found resolve.
“Hey guys, where is everyone?” Harry asked taking a seating and letting out a sigh of relief.
“Out and about, mate.” Ron answered. “How are you doing?”
Harry grinned ironically, “Better, I just talked with Dumbledore and he helped put some things into perspective.”
“I'm glad, Harry.” Hermione said giving the young man a one armed hug. “I was worried about how you were going to deal with all the new fame.” Hermione admitted.
“You and me both.” Harry agreed closing his eyes briefly.
“So what did the old man tell you to do?” Ron asked earning a half hearted punch from Hermione for call the Headmaster an old man.
“He just reminded me to remember what's important.” Harry grinned suddenly. “By the way, do you know where I could find Ginny?” Harry asked.
Ron grinned back feeling a swell of relief at the grin on Harry's face. “I think she was heading up to the library. The Professor's have decided to still give finals those crazy buggers.” Ron spoke the last with amazement.
“Ron you couldn't have expected them to cancel finals we still have two weeks to study.” Hermione began to lightly chastise as Harry rose from the couch.
“I'm going to have to side with Ron on this one, Hermione.” Harry agreed as he stretched his arms above his head. “After saving the world it doesn't seem fair to have to take finals, but I'm going to leave it to Ron to convince you.” Harry grinned as he turned away from the duo.
“And where would you be going while I'm arguing with Hermione, here?” Ron asked a know-it-all grin on his face.
“The library.” Harry answered as he walked out of the Common Room ready to see where this new lease on life was going to take him.
“Roadhouse.” Ellen answered in her usual no nonsense tone of voice.
“Ellen.” John answered simply back listening closely to hear any change in tone in the woman's voice.
“Well I'll be damned, if it isn't John Winchester. Last I heard you were OUTCON.” Ellen answered with no discernible change in tone.
“Still are, but we're heading back that way. Thought I might bring the boys by when we got back.” John hinted knowing Ellen would be able to pick up on his underlying question. “Wasn't sure if it was the right time though so I thought I'd call and see how things are going.”
“Oh you know, it was the same old same old till word came rather suddenly that you'd managed to complete you quest and kill that demon.” Ellen's tone changed slightly to one of warning. “Lot's of crazy stories floating around about how you and your boys pulled it off. Should make for an interesting few months.”
“Yeah that's what I figured.” John slightly growled. He didn't want to have to deal with crazy ass hunters getting the wrong idea. “We'll be in contact when we get back stateside see what you can do about dismissing those stories if you don't mind. The boys and I got lucky and we know it.” John offered up hoping to diffuse the situation before it got out of control.
“John Winchester admitting he got lucky.” Ellen chuckled without humor. “It would be easier for some here to believe Sam could fly.” Ellen let the statement sink in as the line went silent.
“Well I guess they'll just have to believe it then, cause that's what happened.” John said at last his tone controlled and contemplative.
“Yeah, well you know what they say about wishes and horses, don't you John.” Ellen responded eying her patrons as they all strived to hear her conversation without appearing too.
“Yeah, beggars would ride.” John answered his voice hardening to steel. “Then I suggest you remind those gullible hunters that I'm no beggar.” John growled the threat fully willing to take on the whole damn world to keep his boys safe.
“Good point.” Ellen admitted thinking she'd lay solid odds on John and his boys coming out on top any day of the week and twice on Sundays. “See you when you get back stateside, and John safe travels.”
“Will do.” John answered before hanging up his cell phone and exiting the magical circle Dumbledore had created to allow the device to work on Hogwarts grounds.
Back at the Roadhouse a lone black man sat in the back contemplating the conversation he'd just heard. Gordan Walker wasn't a man to see shades of gray and he'd already heard the rumors floating around about John's youngest boy. A cool and confident hunter Gordon began to calculate his odds of surviving should the rumors about the boy were true. It would be a hell of a fight that's for sure. Well for now he'd just wait and see, and if Sam Winchester was evil, then Gordon would kill him. Plain and simple.
It was a weary but relieved group that met in front of Hogwarts to see the Winchesters off a few days later.
Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Draco, and Neville were talking with Dean wishing the hunter a safe journey and petting Zeus goodbye.
Dumbledore and John were standing off to the side talking quietly as the two men admitted though only to themselves that they would miss the others company more then either expected.
Apart from the group Sam and Harry stood facing each other neither knowing exactly what to say.
“Well,” Sam began at last giving Harry a wry grin. “Don't walk into any rooms with someone behind you.”
Harry chuckled remembering his fury over that particular lesson. “You either.” He answered back. “Good luck with convincing the other hunters you're not evil.” He offered to the older man.
“Good luck with convincing the wizarding world you're not the second coming.” Sam offered back knowing both of them faced some difficult times ahead.
“Keep in touch, okay.” Harry asked tentatively he was going to miss Sam's company more then he'd guessed.
“You too.” Sam answered back pulling Harry into a tight hug.
The two young men pulled apart and walked back over to the packed Impala. “Well I can't say lets do this again but call if you ever need anything.” Sam said to the group at large as all three Winchesters were inundated with hugs and well wishes.
It took awhile to get away but at last the Impala roared out of the Hogwarts gates heading back towards home all three hunters and one bird silently contemplating the journey they'd just completed as well as the one that faced them.
“Well here's to surviving to fight another day.” John thought to himself letting a feeling of peace and contentment wash over him. Mary's death was avenged and he was back together with both his boys. Life would be difficult over the coming months but never let it be said a Winchester backed down from a challenge. “Let's get to back to work, boys.” He said out loud before turning to smile into the Scottish countryside.
“Yes, sir.” Sam and Dean answered automatically before sharing a grin. The Winchesters were back.