Harry left the Order Meeting with his friends, walking quietly through Hogwarts until they reached the Black Lake.
Ron picked up a stone and tried to skip it - it fell flat into the water.
"Do you think we'll ever find him?" Ron said, still looking out at the water.
Hermione looked at Harry, which was unusual. She was the optimist, and the one most likely to say "of course we will."
"Find who?" Harry asked, playing for time.
"The Chosen One," Ron said, skipping another stone.
"Come off it, man," Harry said, trying to sound more cheerful than he actually was. "Trelawney's an old bird, isn't she? I don't really think she's got a monopoly on these prophecy things."
"You think there's more than one?" Hermione said, her face looking more cheerful all of a sudden.
"Probably dozens!" Harry said. Then his demeanor sobered. "Of course, those Chosen Ones are probably not even born yet."
"Not even born?" Hermione said, echoed by Ron, so that Harry could hardly hear what either said.
"Yeah, assuming there's a jot of truth in prophecies at all," Harry said, looking skyward - he wasn't sure what his face would say, if his friends could see. So he pointedly wasn't meeting their eyes. "Think about it - He said he was going to live forever."
"Thousand of years of prophecies..." Hermione whispered, almost submerged in the little wave-sounds from the Lake. There was a stiff breeze, and it was chopsy today.
"And for fifteen of them," Harry said slowly, "both sides thought the prophecy was about me." Harry tucked his toes under a pile of gravelly pebbles, and, without warning, kicked them into the water.
Harry laughed, long and low, until the tears started - his laughter still clear as a bell. "That's the rub - Snape, of all people, was right!"
"He generally is, isn't he?" Hermione said quietly - not supportively, with a tone that seemed more rueful than anything.
"Snape?!" Ron responded, "He hasn't been right about the color of the sky, or the day the hawks fly.*"
Harry let Ron's remark go, wincing at his younger self, who would have cheerfully agreed with Ron. Snape held his smugness like a shield, so sure and self-confident in what he said. What if that was all a lie, though? What if Snape felt just as daft as Harry always did, and was always trying to make the best of horrid situations?
They went back to throwing stones.
Harry was the best at it, his manner shoddy and unpolished, but at least he understood the air - the stones wanted to be almost flat, but not quite. He'd tried to explain to Hermione, but he'd never been good at explaining. Hermione wasn't ever good at sports, anyhow.
*This is a saying, with a reference to hawk-migration.
[a/n: I swear this isn't a teasing chapter to the wonderful reader who made it through 200 chapters and then decided to ask me to change my description because "the story doesn't really focus on the search for a new Chosen One."
For all that are worried, I would like to reassure them that yes, there is a search still on - and it isn't even being done as a distraction. Dumbledore and Voldemort want the Chosen One.
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