With huge thanks to Luan Mao and Kokopelli - who both did an emergency beta after I decided to add a scene at the last moment.
It was with a small amount of surprise that Harry realised that he had truly never been happier.
Back at Hogwarts, things settled down into a regular routine that was pretty similar to the way things have been before. The only difference was that there were more people involved. People just seemed more comfortable in his smithy. Fleur, Viktor and Esmeralda practically lived in there with him.
Whenever they didn’t have classes, they would do homework, study, or just relax. Harry didn’t mind, especially as the girls did tend to wear light clothing as it was always hot.
Cho, who was studying for her OWLs, and Cedric had more classes, so spent less time with him.
They all ate together; they now took up most of the bottom of the Gryffindor table. Every couple of days Viktor would badger him into going for a fly. And at least once a week, over the months, Cedric and Cho would join them, and Harry and Viktor would show them moves – moves that were instinctive for both of them, and thus difficult to teach.
That morning, he went to breakfast, and waited after it had ended.
“Harry?” Romilda asked.
“Hedwig’s coming,” he explained.
“How do you know?”
“She always comes when I want her to.”
There was a bark, and Hedwig glided in, alighting in front of him. She tilted her head and barked again.
Harry put his hands out, and used the elvish form of magic to summon a small parcel. Hedwig looked pleased as she held out an ankle, showing her eagerness to deliver it for him. Harry grinned at her and undid the package.
Hedwig peered at it curiously, and then her eyes flashed. Harry took the tiny silver helm, and gently placed it on her head. It fit neatly, as it was shaped to fit over her ears tufts, and had an eye guard. Hedwig shook her head briefly, and then barked her approval as it stuck to her head. Harry looked at it. The pointy helm fitted her personality and looked like a crown, which suited her perfectly as his owl was always regal.
Next, Harry lifted some delicate chain link armour, and wrapped it around her chest, leaving her wings free. After that, he held out some three-pronged boots, that Hedwig stepped into. Finally, he had some wing protectors that were charmed to be weightless and massless.
He leaned back and examined his work. Hedwig looked awesome.
“Right,” he told her, “three quick barks will remove it, and then three more to put it on again.”
Hedwig barked thrice, and the armour vanished. The owl paused, and then barked thrice again. She examined her wing as it returned. She looked at Harry and barked a question. Harry obediently made a mirror. Hedwig turned and looked at herself a few times, before she took off, and glided around the Great Hall. She dived from the rafters, before pulling herself up.
She swooped up, aileron rolled, and landed in front of him. With three quick barks, she vanished her armour, before she launched herself forward, and Harry found Hedwig rubbing her face all over his in thanks, as she barked her approval and gratitude.
Harry reached up and stroked her back, before helping her back on to the table. “You are very welcome,” he told her.
Hedwig raised her wings and curtseyed to him, before she barked thrice and launched herself, in her armour, up and out the door.
“You made armour for your owl?” Fleur demanded. The others were still recovering from obvious astonishment.
Harry nodded. “Hedwig’s awesome, of course I’m going to make her armour.”
“She certainly seemed to approve,” Hermione pointed out. “Somehow I doubt that Crookshanks would wear armour.”
“I don’t think my owl would, either,” Daphne said. “But then, I can’t talk to my owl.”
“Sure you can,” Harry encouraged. “You’ve just got to listen to her!”
“I do,” Daphne said, “but he’s not Hedwig.
Harry paused. Hedwig was an exceptional owl, so maybe other owls weren’t as good. He shrugged. “As much as I have enough work to do to please an Amish farmer, I have to go to the Ministry today.”
“Why?” Daphne asked with a small pout at the idea of him not being near her.
“The Aurors are ready for their armour, and I need to make sure they understand how to put it on properly the first time. Professor Dumbledore will be there, so there will be nothing to worry about.”
“Okay,” Daphne said, and leaned against Fleur, drawing the girl’s arm around her.
Harry stood, and immediately received a hug from Hermione, which was nice, and that was followed by hugs from Astoria and Romilda which he steadfastly didn’t think about, and by that time, Daphne had made her way around the table so that she could hug him too, which was again nice, and she was quickly followed by Fleur which was also nice. All in all, it was an extremely pleasant way to end a breakfast.
“Ready, Harry?” Dumbledore asked.
Harry reached out and put a hand on the Headmaster’s shoulder, and popped them both.
They arrived in a large hall, with Amelia Bones and the Aurors waiting patiently. They gave a small start at the sudden appearance. The Aurors were all standing in a line, looks of anticipation on their faces.
Harry looked at them. They were all standing straighter than they had been six weeks earlier, and some of them even looked bulkier. “Armour on,” he called. He watched as the armour assembled in front of him, bits flashing in from all points on a clock. There was a flash, and he was then inside his armour. He allowed himself a grin, now that it couldn’t be seen.
He drew his favourite sword, and held it out like he had before. Mentally, he counted to forty five, before he allowed it to drop. His arm muscles ached, and he had a bead of sweat on his face. He felt a cool breeze flash over his face, as his armour took care of the problem for him.
Still without saying a word, he handed carefully grabbed the sword by the blade, and handed it to the first Auror. The female one’s body changed slightly, as she held it up. He tilted his head curiously. As she held it, her pink hair slowly changed colour to a more natural looking black.
“Done,” he called after thirty seconds. “Pass.”
“Alright,” she cheered, her hair going purple, as she lowered the sword. She put the tip on the mat, and handed it to the large gentlemen next to her. “Go on, Shack.”
‘Shack’ lifted up the sword, and held it in place. After thirty seconds, Harry called out, but the man kept it there for another fifteen seconds, before he lowered it. Down the line, all of them managed his little task.
“Excellent,” he called, as the last finished. He called forth the six standard suits of armour he’d built on Daphne’s design. They appeared behind him, each on a stand under a red velvet curtain.
“Your armour will protect you against most curses. They will allow you to move fast and to hit hard. You will be able to breathe underwater, and the swords have runes to ensure they are sharp, and will fight dark creatures as if they were made of silver.
“The swords will not be able to be used against me, or any other Auror-level armour.” He passed Amelia Bones a letter. “Madam Bones now has the remote commands for the armour. If she activates it, the armour will seize, and you will not be able to move, let alone get away.
“As much as the armour is for your protection, it is also for the protection of the British Magical Community. They are not tools of war; they are not to be used by politicians to seize power.
“Do we get a cool way of putting them on?” the female asked eagerly.
Harry chuckled. “Unless you want to spend an hour getting in and out of it, a ‘cool way of putting them on’ is required. It is why I needed all those measurements, and that's why I had you all come back to Hogwarts last week, so I could magically connect each of you to your own armour. Right, you can go first.”
“Armour on,” the female called immediately.
The effect he had chosen was the first one he had designed, and it was interesting to watch the armour crawl up from the ground and melt into place.
With the helm finally in place, the Auror pulled out her sword, and swung it a few times, before she placed it back in the scabbard, and started to jog around the room.
“This is awesome,” she called. Her voice was harsher, deeper, as the runes on the helm made it sound more official. “Awesome voice,” she cheered. She raised her arms and managed a full cartwheel, before she jumped. “This is brilliant!” As she landed, her sword got caught between her legs, tripping her, and sending her flying into the man next to her.
“Can we go?” ‘Shack’ asked, as he steadied the female Auror.
“Armour on,” the other four called at once. Seconds later, they were all dressed in their armour.
“Atten-shun,” Amelia barked.
The Aurors lined up, and Harry got a good look at them together. The armour was brightly polished silver, with the Auror crest on the right breast. It was very much modelled after ancient armour, with none of the extrudements Daphne had designed for him.
The helms had faceplates that could swivel completely up. He had given them all easily detachable cloaks, in Armour parade uniform crests.
They looked recognisable as Aurors, and that was the effect he had wanted. “Night mode,” he called. The bright silver faded, and the entire armour turned dark. He nodded to himself and handed an instruction manual that Astoria and Hermione had written for them.
Amelia moved in front of them. “Helms up.”
They moved as one, revealing faces with broad grins.
“The armour is fitted for each of you, but the ability to wear it on duty is a privilege, and not a right. You will be expected to uphold the highest standards of the Auror division. Failure to meet this standard will result in dismissal, and the armour repurposed to another candidate.
“You will be the first contact for Death Eater raids, and you will be expected to attend one public meeting a week, so that the members of the public understand that you are still Aurors under the armour.
“As you are the first members of the new Auror Armoured Division, congratulations, you all get a twenty percent pay rise. You report to the Head of Magical Law Enforcement only, and you will never be a part of the Minister’s protection.”
The grins turned into huge smiles. “I never thought I could be so happy with my clothes on,” the female Auror said reverently.
“Mr Potter, do you mind attending a Press Conference?” Amelia asked.
Harry looked at Dumbledore, who shrugged.
“Okay,” he agreed, thinking of the publicity this could generate for their planned business. He followed Amelia as they headed through a door. There was a velvet curtain that the other Aurors stopped behind. As they moved, Harry allowed his armour to silently melt away. He was not going to meet the press in his Death-Eater-killing armour.
There were easily a hundred people gathered in the room, with at least thirty of them having cameras. Flashbulbs immediately started to pop.
Harry threw out his hand, and silenced them. He tried not to let a scowl show on his face.
Amelia moved in front of a lectern, and Harry took a seat behind her. Dumbledore sat next to him.
“Thank you for coming. Today, we reveal an exciting new turn in Magical Law Enforcement. For the first time since the 16th century, we are pleased to reveal the new Auror Armoured Division.” She waved her wand, and the curtain dropped, revealing the five Aurors. They had returned their armour to day mode, and had their helms down.
There was some applause from the journalists. The now-silent photographers were taking pictures frantically.
“Reporting to the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, these are our brightest and best Aurors, and they will be dedicated to your safety. The armour will protect against the Killing Curse, as well as the Cruciatus.”
Harry coughed slightly. Amelia turned and raised an eyebrow. “And the other one.”
Amelia’s monocle fell out. “H-how?”
Harry shrugged, and pointed to the press.
Amelia turned back. “I have just been informed that the armour will protect against the Imperius Curse as well. To demonstrate, I have given retired Auror Alastor Moody permission to demonstrate the three illegal curses.”
Moody walked in from the side, a terrifying grin on his face.
“Let’s start easy. Tonks,” he called. Harry wondered if all of the Aurors had nicknames, as he’d yet to hear something that sounded like a real name.
The female Auror took a step forward, and then faced Moody. “Imperio,” he called. “Sit down on the floor.” Nothing happened. He turned, and Amelia took a deep breath, before she nodded. “Imperio.” Amelia didn’t move. “Sit down on the floor.”
Amelia instantly lowered herself to the floor, and sat. Moody cancelled the spell, and she climbed back to her feet. The press applauded again, some shouting questions.
“Silence,” Moody roared. “This is the demonstration part.” He pointed his wand at Tonks again. “Crucio,” he roared.
The sickly red light flashed out of his wand, and struck the armour dead against her chest. She didn’t move. “Alright, Tonks?”
“Sir, yes sir,” Tonks replied, her voice sounded even, through the distortion runes.
“And finally,” Moody said. “Avada Kedavra.”
The green light impacted harmlessly on the chest, and Tonks moved back a little. “It’s like a strong push,” she said.
Amelia spoke next. “The most deadly curse we have, reduced to a strong push. I have also seen the armour absorb a fully-powered cutting curse.”
There was another round of applause.
“Thank you, Armoured Auror Tonks.”
Harry made a mental note that her surname was Tonks, so the other’s surname was probably Shack.
“Right, questions, and do be sensible.”
“Andy Smudgley, Daily Prophet,” the first managed to beat his colleagues. “How does the Armour work?”
Amelia turned and looked at Harry. “Trade secret,” he called back, giving them a grin. There were a few chuckles. Harry stood. “Seriously, through a series of specially designed runes, proprietary manufacturing techniques and based on an idea originally proposed by Professor Dumbledore, the armour exploits some of the base tenets of the Unforgivables to offer the wearer full protection.
“The five suits of Armour are a gift from the PVG Smithery to the British Public, to ensure their continued safety and prosperity.”
There was another round of applause from the journalists.
“Is PVG Smithery the name of your company?” Smudgley asked.
Harry nodded. “At the moment, we are small, and are still concentrating on initial designs and commissions; however, in a few years’ time, when I’ve left school and I can work full time on it, we will be opening our first store and accepting commissions from the public.”
“Jack Trebut, The Wizarding World News. Will other countries be able to order armour?”
Harry paused. He shrugged. “I would really rather avoid international politics, so I’d probably take the advice of the I.C.W.” Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Albus nodding his agreement, and he felt relieved.
“Simon Simonson, Wizard Monthly. With a lot of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s supporters arrested or dead, how is the search for him going?”
Harry retook his seat, allowing Amelia to answer his question.
“Before I answer that question, I should point out that there is no record at all of a peerage being bestowed on the self-titled Dark Lord. That is a moniker self-devised and self-appointed. While we know That Wizard’s real name, and understand how his moniker was derived from his own name, we are aware of the general public’s unease at his anagrammed name.
“As such, we will be referring to him as That Wizard. Now, to answer your question, working with the I.C.W. we have followed international conventions and have frozen both his and his allies’ bank accounts.
“We are now aware of three possible locations for him. They are protected by the Fidelius Charm, and we are working closely with our colleagues in the Department Of Mysteries to see about working around this charm.
“When we do, our Armoured Auror division will be the first to apprehend That Wizard.”
There was another round of applause from the journalists. The questions from there turned quite dull, and Harry stopped paying close attention.
A few days later, it was just Fleur left with him, as he was finishing off a new piece, and it was really late. He checked his watch, or really early, that should be. He put the particularly fine piece of casting, an arm bracer, down and allowed his magic to stop powering the forge.
He held out his hand to her.
“It is going to be chilly walking back to the carriages,” she said softly.
“Are you comfortable here?” he asked.
She looked at him thoughtfully. “I am.”
He dropped his hand, and reached over the desk to grab a stool, and perched on it.
“Oh,” Fleur said, and gave a small pout. “It’s time for zat conversation?”
He chuckled. “It is. Talk to me, Fleur.”
Fleur inhaled deeply, and started to speak, slowly. She was clearly concentrating on each word and making sure she enunciated them correctly.
“I think I am falling quite deeply for your sister. And for me, that is a serious statement. I do not just look at one thing, I look at everything. First, is she strong enough to deal with a Veela? That answer is yes. She approached me, and asked me out, despite being younger.
“Is she mature enough to deal with me? Not only did she accept that I might not be interested, she protected me when my control slipped.
“Is she attractive? I know it sounds bad, but that is important to me. And she is, she has wonderful eyes that look at me like I’m the most important thing in her life. They sparkle.
“Do I like her family? Derek is wonderful, and Cressida is very nice. Astoria has been nothing but welcoming with me.
“Does she like my family? She has charmed my parents, and my little sister thinks she’s wonderful.
“So my last question is, can I handle sharing her heart with someone else? In her heart is her brother, her rock. And just recently, I have been spending time with him, alone. He has talked to me, listened to me, teased me, and now, he is interrogating me. He is exactly what a big brother should be.
“I will not promise eternity, or that she will not be hurt. I can promise that it will not be deliberate.”
All during her little speech, she kept her eyes firmly on his.
He hopped over the table, and pulled her into a hug. “That last bit was all I wanted to hear,” he told her, “but I’m happy to hear the rest.”
“I do not mind if I get a protective big brother as well,” she whispered.
Harry smiled and popped them both straight to Daphne’s bedroom. Daphne was sat on her bed, one of the Wind in the Willows books on her lap. She looked up eagerly.
Harry smiled at Daphne.
“Yes!” she cheered.
“It’s quite chilly outside, and I’m pretty sure there are wolves out. I think Fleur needs somewhere to stay.”
Daphne raised her hand eagerly. “She can stay with me!”
“Looks like you won’t get cold,” he said to Fleur. She giggled and nodded. He headed to the door, and paused, without looking back, he called, “That’s not to mean that you need to do anything other than sleep.”
“Sleep is good,” Daphne agreed. “And maybe a bit of snuggling.”
“Yeah, I’ll leave now,” he said, and quickly got out of the room. He shut the door behind him, and leaned against it. “I must be fucking insane,” he mumbled. “Two of the best looking girls in the world and I’m slightly freaked out and want to protect them from each other.
“Thank Merlin they can’t get pregnant!” He paused, as he remembered his reassuring words to Derek about that subject. He shuddered, and tried really hard to get the idea out of his mind.
He shook himself, he could really do with some sleep, but he had too much to do. It was only a week until the final task, and he had so many people he cared about now.
He popped back to the smithy, asked for an Elf to bring him a pot of coffee and a stamina potion, and got back to work.
The next morning, Fleur greeted him with a pounce and hug, before she shifted so that Daphne could do the same.
“You should know,” Daphne said to their gathered friends, “that Fleur and I are now dating.”
“Congratulations,” Tori cheered, and hugged her sister. Romi agreed, and hugged Fleur, before the two younger ones switched.
“So, how bad was it, Fleur?” Hermione asked.
“I think he knows that Daphne likes me, so he just let me talk. I said the right things, I think, so there was no problem.”
“Really?” Hermione asked Harry.
“In that case, you may interrogate my future boyfriends.”
Harry laughed. “Really?”
Hermione nodded. “As much as I think the shotgun speech is stupidly over the top, I have nothing against someone I know loves me ensuring that I’m not getting into trouble.”
“Deal,” he agreed. “Breakfast?”
Daphne reached out and took Fleur’s hand. Fleur looked at her. “I’m not hiding,” Daphne said. “I love you, and I don’t care who knows it.”
“You live in a parochial society,” Fleur said softly. “I don’t mind.”
“I do. I’m proud that I’m dating you.”
Fleur slowly smiled. “And it is things like this as to why you are,” she said, before kissing Daphne gently on the lips.
“Besides,” Daphne said, “who will really care?”
“Dobby, can you take them to the Hall?” The two girls vanished. “Armour on, fast,” he called. Rather than a dramatic display, his armour came into existence straight onto him. “Daph might be optimistic, I’m not,” he explained, and popped out.
“Oh, my,” Astoria said. “We better get there as well.”
“Indeed,” Hermione agreed. “Probably best to wait a few seconds, just to let the tension rise. Someone will be stupid enough to say something.”
Romilda giggled. “He’ll be standing in front of them, ready to tear anyone apart who suggests that Daphne is unnatural.”
“All Harry cares about is that she’s happy,” Astoria agreed. “He told her she could date the entire Bulgarian Cheerleading Team, if it made her happy.”
Hermione gave a pleased smile. “He’s grown so nicely. Right, let’s get to the hall. Transportation for three, please.”
They were all popped, and arrived to an utterly silent Great Hall, apart from Harry’s intimidating breathing.
“Problem?” Hermione asked.
“Some people intimated that my sister was a freak ,” Harry grunted.
Hermione winced. That was one word that really got to Harry.
“And that somehow, my sister, or Fleur, are stealing girls from their rightful position, which I presume means available for their limited charms in the kitchen and the bedroom.
“Or that she should have accepted the unwashed and unlettered attentions of her fellow Slytherins, and forgone happiness to breed the next generation of inbred powerless prejudiced idiots with hyper-inflated opinions of themselves.
“But surprisingly, not one of these people are willing to say that to Daphne and Fleur’s big brother.”
“Yay,” Fleur cheered, as she pounced out of her seat and hugged Harry, armour and all. “Public acknowledgement is a good thing,” she said to Harry, and kissed him on the cheek. She took possession of his arm. Daphne moved over and took possession of his other arm. She reached up and kissed his other cheek.
“Same sex relationships are not common in the Wizarding World,” Nadya said from the Professors’ table.
“As long as it is consensual and harms no one, I really don’t care,” Harry said. “My sisters’ happiness is what I care about.
“So I will make it very clear. Fleur is my sister’s girlfriend. Daphne is my sister. While not official, I also claim Fleur as my sister. Any attempt to slander, insult, degrade, or interact negatively with my sisters will be handled under the existing laws of the Ministry of Magic. A duel, at dawn.” He paused. “And there is nothing in the law to stop me wearing my armour.”
There was a strange gulping sound from listening students.
“Am I, in any way, unclear?”
No one said anything.
“Good.” He guided the two girls over to their table, and sat, a little clunkily. Fleur and Daphne happily moved with him.
Hermione pinned Fleur with a gaze.
“Do you have any idea what it’s like to have a boy who admits that you are really attractive, but doesn’t want to do you?” the French witch asked.
“Well, until recently, I didn’t. So if I get to act all girly, you will ’ave to forgive me.”
Hermione suddenly chuckled. “I should try it,” she admitted.
“I am going to need my arms to eat.”
“We could feed you,” Daphne offered eagerly.
“No. I love you to bits, Daph, but that’s a step too far.”
“Meanie,” she pouted.
“Always,” he agreed. “Right, I’ve got a load of work that needs doing, so please release my arms.”
“Only if you remove the armour so we can snuggle.”
“This better be a different sort of snuggling to last night,” Harry grumbled, as his armour melted away, and the two girls had matching grins as they leaned against his arms.
Hermione snagged a hold of Fleur’s arm, and pulled her into a classroom.
“Okay, I love Harry, he’s my best friend, and probably a different kind of brother to me. I want to know what you are doing.”
“I am chasing the fairy tale,” Fleur said, and then smiled a relaxed and beautiful smile.
Hermione blinked. “Okay. Erm, what?”
Fleur laughed, and her accent returned to the better English she had been using recently. “Harry’s view and actions with Daph are not a brother and sister in the real world; it is the relationship of a fairy tale. He is the big, strong and caring brother, she is the dainty, beautiful little sister, and they love each other. There is no squabbling, no boredom, nothing of what normally existing between siblings. He loves her, like in a book. And she loves him the same way, she sees her own role as the little sister to the king, giving her protection, and in return, she will protect him, even if it means slipping a dagger between someone’s ribs, because that’s what princesses do.
“So for me, I want the same feeling of safety and protection, the same unreal devotion, affection and caring. I want to feel sad and get a hug from him, if Daph’s not around, and know that he loves me to bits. I want to know that if I am not around, my love can go to him and be picked up in mood. And I love to know that I never have to be jealous.
“So yes, I will be encouraging Harry to treat me like he does Daphne, because it means that the next time a boy calls me a whore because I am Veela, I have a strong big brother to protect my name and reputation.
“My Father has always tried his best to protect me from potential molesters and kidnappers. From the people who want to abuse me because I am gorgeous. I have always been aware of this, it has forced me to study, to practice, to be good enough to become the Beauxbatons champion.
“But my father is not Harry, he does not make these potential abusers wet themselves with fear at the thought of touching me, or my sister. And in return, like Daphne, I will happily slide a dagger between the ribs of anyone who needs it.”
“I understand, but do not abuse it, Fleur,” Hermione said sternly. “I do not want Harry hurt. I honestly don’t think Daphne could do so.”
“I could,” Fleur agreed, “but I won’t, because I wouldn’t just lose Harry, I’d lose Daph as well. And I am quite falling for her.”
“Okay,” Hermione smiled.
“This is the first time I have been interrogated as to my feelings for a boy that I am not romantically interested in.”
“I love Harry, but in a more real-world way.”
“Yes, like I love my sister,” Fleur agreed. “Please, do not hold that I want the fairy tale against me.”
Hermione moved over and hugged Fleur. “I won’t.”
Amelia Bones headed into the Ministry of Magic, and then paused. She tilted her head, before she slid her hand to her hip, and she pinched herself. It hurt, and therefore, she was definitely awake. It also squished more than she was happy about, so she resolved to skip snacks for the rest of the week. She looked over her shoulder at a noise behind her. “Tonks?”
“Describe what is in front of us.”
Tonks’s voice was unsure. “It appears to be our armour, Ma’am. It appears to be hanging upside-down from the ceiling. My armour also appears to have someone, who is quite definitely not me, inside it.
“She does have an extremely red face, so I would guess that she has been there for a while. If my memory is serving me correctly, she’s Alecto Carrow.”
Amelia nodded. “Her brother is in Shacklebolt’s armour next to her.”
“I wonder if Harry put something in to clean filth from his armour.”
“He did,” Amelia confirmed. “I’m trying to decide if I want to actually let them down.”
Tonks moved forward and touched the neck of one, inside the helm. “Unconscious, Ma’am.”
“Department Override, Armour Off,” Amelia called.
As the armour vanished, the five Death Eaters fell to the floor in ungainly heaps. She actually thought that she heard several bones break.
“Tonks, get some help, hand them over to the I.C.W. to get them out of the country, quick.”
Amelia headed on to her office, and allowed herself a smile. It was fun actually doing her job properly, and this time, she hadn’t felt any sorrow for the enemy.
She whistled under her breath as she sat down, and got to work.
Harry pounded the alloy he was currently experimenting with, his mind drifting. He was tired, really tired, and wanted nothing more than to sleep, but he had too much that needed doing. He was very suspicious that something was going to happen at the end of the last task, and he wanted to be ready.
No matter what happened, he was going to be in the lead, so he was reinforcing his armour with anything and everything he could think off.
His initial estimate that a piece could only accept two enchantments was correct. However Astoria had wondered why, if the limit was two enchantments per piece, they couldn’t just make the armour have more pieces. His armour was now made of more bits, each with the maximum enchantments.
Sure, some of the joints weren’t as strong physically as he would like, but the additional magical protection and additional features more than made up for it.
And that was just his armour.
He glanced down at his to-do list and sighed softly.
He wasn’t the only one working hard; Astoria had come up with a way for the Elves to do the enchantments on the boots, while Romilda had talked to a cousin who was able to supply Muggle boots. The money was pouring in. Whether it was sustainable growth he didn’t know, people might simply be interested short-term because of the match. But he felt it was fun, and judging by the solid bookings of the pitch, he wasn’t the only one who thought that.
Romilda had also sold another ten crests, and was working with Daph to visit the families so that the new crests could be based on their originals. On top of the eight he was already committed to make, this would fill his calendar for the next year, leaving just enough time to make daggers, put enough time into his school work to keep Hermione (and his sisters, now that the evil Hermione had convinced them to join forces with her) off his back, and, oh, kill Voldemort if anyone ever managed to track him down.
Hermione had discovered just how hard it was to write a proper research paper, and had decided to re-join her classes and work in her spare time – as she didn’t want to miss too much school work.
He could understand that, and it was one of the many reasons he had been more than happy to pass his idea on to others. That sort of work seemed rather dull.
He gave a yawn, stretched, and then forced himself to concentrate. He started on the next piece, and as he did, he started to think about how magic actually worked.
He had another week before the last task, and he would be ready, no matter what. And as soon as it was over, he was going to sleep for a week, and then never again touch the focusing, sleep replenishing, and energy potions he was having Dobby buy for him.
He had explained his reasons to Dobby, and the Elf had reluctantly agreed with him, with the warning that if Harry didn’t stop, he would tell Daphne about them.
The morning of the final task dawned far too early. In fact, it was so early that Harry decided he needed more sleep, and turned over and went back to the blackness he had been enjoying.
The second time he woke up, he felt far more willing to face the day, even if it was already ten. He got up, showered and washed, dressed, and yawned as he entered their little common room. It was empty, so he popped down to the Great Hall. All his friends were gathered around the end of the Gryffindor table, nattering.
He slid down, and thanked the Elves as a breakfast was put in front of him. He listened to the conversations, not joining in, until he had finished.
“Hey, Daph,” he called. “You mind if I borrow your girlfriend?”
“Of course not,” Daphne replied.
“Transportation for everyone to the smithy please,” Harry said, as he moved over and took Fleur’s hand. While the others appeared behind the desks, he and Fleur appeared in front. He reached out and removed Fleur’s robes, handing them to Daphne, who quickly folded them neatly.
Fleur was grinning at him, “You are more of a pure blood than I thought?” she asked playfully.
“Maybe I am leering at my sister’s girlfriend.”
“That does not work, when you claim me as your sister as well.”
“Cedric, Vik, close your eyes,” he ordered. “Fleur, blouse off, please.” Her bra was a lot more practical than the thing he had seen last time he had seen her topless. He picked up a padded t-shirt, and helped her put it on. He pulled it into place, knowing just how difficult it was to do so the first time you wore one.
“Erm, Harry?” Fleur asked, looking confused, but with a glimmer of hope in her eyes. She moved and pulled off her skirt, kicking off her shoes at the same time. Harry pulled out some padded shorts, and helped her into them.
It just wasn’t fair that Daphne had called dibs. Fleur’s body was so utterly perfect.
To get the pads into place, he had to tug at it from various different angles. At the end, he looked at his sister. “You have amazing taste.”
Daphne beamed at him.
“Really?” Fleur asked. She nodded, hard, her long blonde hair bouncing.
“No, wait. We need to put your hair up so it won't get caught in the metal.” That task was swiftly accomplished as Harry had plenty of practice dealing with Daphne’s hair. “OK, Armour on, Fleur.”
The padded underwear forced Fleur’s arms and legs apart, and armour started to attach itself to her. Fleur squeaked as it wrapped into place, her eyes widening as she felt just how intimate some of the straps could be.
As it finished, Harry looked, before walking behind her, and slamming his fists down on her shoulders, to straighten it. He walked around her front, and nodded. As he’d done this without Daphne’s help, he was very pleased with how it had come out.
The armour glistened with its highly polished steel plates, each plate having a light blue inlay. There was a small gap between the cuirass and the loin guard, showing the much deeper blue underneath. He’d covered that gap with careful runes, to ensure there was not a weak point.
The cuirass itself was carefully sculpted to ensure that the fact that Fleur was a healthy female Veela was not hidden.
The thigh protectors and greaves matched the top half. The finishing touch was the royal blue cape he’d designed. It would detach with any significant pressure, but looked awesome.
Daphne made a loud squeeing sound, and a second later he found himself locked in the most excited and tightest hug he’d received from her.
“How do I look?” Fleur demanded.
"You could never look less than perfect," Daphne called.
Hermione created a mirror, and Fleur examined herself. When she turned to look at him, she had tears in her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered. “So very much.”
“I’m so proud of you,” Daphne said, as she kissed him on the cheek. “Just when I think you’ve done everything you can for me, you do more. She looks fantastic, you’ve done so well.” She hugged him again, before she put her hands on her hips. “And that’s why you got me to knock up the designs for other schools and Hogwarts houses,” she added with an amused shake of the head, “not as a prospective gift!”
Daphne then bounced over to Fleur. She jumped up and hung from Fleur’s armour-clad neck, and kissed her.
Harry politely turned away.
When he looked back, Daphne had one of Fleur’s arms wrapped around her, and they’d moved to one side.
“Right, Vik, you’re not dating my sister, so I’m not going to tease. Strip.”
“Da!” Viktor exclaimed happily, as he vaulted the table and stripped down to his boxers. Harry helped him on with his padded undergarments, just as he had Fleur, before he called for Viktor’s armour.
The armour he’d designed for his friend was far more masculine, and was inlaid with the Durmstrang red, and had a matching cape. Viktor looked in the mirror, and Harry found out that having a Cossack hug you exuberantly in full armour was not the world’s most pleasant experience.
As Viktor put him down, and moved over to Esmeralda, Harry yelled, “Be careful hugging her, you maniac, you’re coated in steel!” He then moved to the last champion and repeated the process with Cedric’s yellow and black armour.
When they were all armoured, he looked at them. “As you are not Aurors, I’ve enchanted the armour so that it will stop a Killing Curse, as well most other curses, and to be light weight, so you can move in it properly.
“The armour is now locked to your magical signatures, so the commands to put on the armour and remove it will work for you. My armour has the padding built in. I couldn’t do that for you because I would have needed every single measurement, and that’s A, really intimate, and B, would have ruined the surprise.”
“I measured Harry,” Daphne announced, “and he’s right.” She smirked suddenly. “And some witch is going to be really lucky,” she added with a sing-song voice. Harry ignored the blushes that appeared on Astoria’s and Romilda’s faces.
“I’m probably being paranoid,” Harry continued, “But I want us all to survive whatever might happen today.”
He moved over and pulled out three swords he’d made for them. “Just in case.”
Viktor pulled his out of the scabbard. With casual ease he swung it a few times. He nodded and moved over to the side and stood before Harry’s practice dummy. With a suddenness that was surprising he attacked. The head of the dummy fell to the ground.
Viktor sighed audibly. “Goodbye poor Vik’s money,” he called. He looked at Harry. “Vik wants custom swords.”
“Typical barbarian,” Fleur murmured teasingly, as she walked over. Unlike Viktor’s power strokes her thrusts and strikes were far more precise and delicate, despite the weight of the sword.
She turned and grinned. “You think that the children of families like ours are not taught to fight?” she said at Harry’s bemused look.
“No,” Harry answered. “I thought it was going to be used as a last resort, and I was going to mention that the pointy end faces away from you.”
“Good advice,” Cedric mumbled. “I’ll stick with my wand, I think.”
“Sirius,” Derek called, as he headed toward the man.
“Derek? Man, you are still far too good looking for your own right. It’s a damn good job that you graduated long before me, because I’d’ve struck out if you were still around.”
Derek laughed. “I wanted to catch you about two things. You mind a quick chat?”
“I’ve got ten minutes,” Sirius agreed.
“Right, I’m probably overstepping some bounds here, but frankly, I love Harry to bits. What do you see when you look at him?”
A flash of something appeared in Sirius’ eyes, before he took a deep breath, and conjured a bench. Derek sat next to him.
“For a long time, I saw a miniature James,” he admitted. “Even the last time I saw him, I was still thinking of him as Prongs Junior, but, I said something, and he gave me this bewildered little look, and it hurt. I talked about it, and realised I didn’t know Harry that much.
“I know I love him, I know I always have, but, actually know him? Not much. So, the answer is, when I look at him now, I will see Harry.”
“Excellent,” Derek said, trying to keep the slight disappointment hidden. “Now, if you don’t mind some advice, tell him that.”
“I will,” Sirius agreed.
“Now, on to more fun things. How do you fancy joining the little wives of several important people and the gadfly of a husband of a respected divorce solicitor in a play business venture?”
Sirius tilted his head. “I’m listening.”
“Well, we all have access to lots of money, and are based in four different countries, and we realised that, for example, we could buy country manors over here, export them to China, and make at least three hundred percent profit.”
“Of course, no one will take us seriously, what, with Derek Greengrass, Ana Krum, GeorgievaDraganova, Apolline Delacour and Zhang Mei already involved. Adding the poor and obviously loony Sirius Black would make us that more laughable.”
Sirius frowned and stood, he started to pace in front of Derek. His nose started to twitch. “This sounds like the biggest prank in the world,” he pointed out.
Derek nodded. “We thought that you might put it that way. We want power, for many reasons, most of them to do with the fact that my daughter is dating a Veela, and that I love Harry to bits. And if I have to grow up a bit to ensure that, once Voldemort is dead, Harry can have the career he wants, free of entanglements and people trying to use him, then I will do that. And, cards on the table, if my help in making the world better for Harry inclines him further toward my youngest, then all the better.”
Sirius stopped his pacing. “Harry doesn’t want to fix the world?”
“He wants to be the best blacksmith in the world, and why shouldn’t he?”
“So I’d be pranking the world, and helping ensure that Harry can live his dreams in the sort of world he deserves? I am absolutely in.”
Derek stood, and shook the man’s hand. He grinned. “Apolline has mentioned that she has quite a few Veela friends who are looking to settle down.” Derek then found himself hugged exuberantly.
“That's chocolate icing on an already amazing cake!”
Harry met the other champions in the Entrance Hall to Hogwarts. Dumbledore walked over to them. “Before we start the task, we’ve arranged for your families to spend some time with you.”
Eagerly, Harry walked out with the others, and into a scrum of people. Viktor’s parents were there, along with Fleur’s.
He looked down as someone tugged on his shirt. There was a girl there, dressed in a light blue long sleeved summer dress, with black curly hair and huge brown eyes. She had a pleading expression on her face, and a smile that was missing one of the two front teeth. “Hi, Hawwy,” she lisped, “I’m Isabella, Womilda’s cousin, can I has hug please?”
Harry bent down and picked her up instantly, her legs instantly moved around his torso, her arms around his neck, and she relaxed.
“Thank you, Hawwy,” she whispered. “There’s lotsa people here, and I was scawed.”
He hugged her tighter.
“I turn my back for thirty seconds,” Romilda grumbled, as she approached him. “You’ve met my pet leech.”
“Don’t be a meany, Womi,” Isabella called.
Romilda sighed and rolled her eyes. “Come on, you can meet my parents, we figured that we’d get everyone together for you, because we’re all family.” She paused. “And make sure you’re speaking properly, Issy, you’re no longer five.”
“I’d love to meet them,” he said. He looked down to see Isabella pouting at Romilda.
He walked around Viktor, who was already play wrestling with his father, and stopped. “Sirius,” he yelled.
“Harry,” Sirius said with a large smile. He offered his hand, and Harry shook it, carefully balancing Isabella as he did. “It’s great to see you.”
“You too, you’re looking good.”
“Exercise, can’t have a fourteen-year-old having bigger muscles than me,” Sirius teased. “That, and eating right. Still, as good as the island was, I’m happy to be back in Blighty. I’m going into business with Derek.”
“That’s brilliant,” Harry said, feeling lighter all of a sudden.
Sirius’ smile seemed to grow in intensity. “Of course, if he wasn’t married, I’d be worried, I don’t need that sort of competition. All those years in jail have left me seriously out of practice!”
“You just need to play up the innocent hero who managed to escape Azkaban,” Harry suggested, ignoring the attempted pun.
“You’re teaching your grandmother to suck eggs,” Sirius replied. “Come on, Romilda’s been waiting patiently.”
Harry sent an apologetic look at the girl, who didn’t look in the slightest worried. “I took you this way on purpose,” she said. “But as we’re all going to be traipsing around Europe, Tori and I thought it would be a good idea for you to meet them for that reason as well. Anyway, Mum and Dad, this is Harry.” She pointed to a woman who looked like both an older version of Romilda and a younger version of Nadya, and Harry could not help noticing the low cut peasant blouse and the impressive way she filled said blouse.
The man next to her was very dark, with short curly black hair that was wild, tanned skin, a small black goatee, and a gold hooped earring. He had on white shirt with a red neckerchief and grey trousers.
“Harry, this is Rosella and Israel Vane, my parents.”
Harry stuck out his hand, to find that Israel had a very firm grip. “Romilda has told us a lot about you,” Israel said, as he turned Harry’s hand over, and smiled at the burn marks and calluses. “The hands of a craftsman!”
“And you’ve met Isabella,” Rosella said, as she leaned in and kissed him on both cheeks. “We’re so looking forward to this summer.”
Harry shot a smile at them both. “So am I,” he enthused. “I’ve never even seen the ocean, never mind another country, and I really can’t wait to explore.”
Sirius made a growling sound, Harry turned his head. “Relax, not only did Romi help me curse them, when we stumbled across them, she kicked Vernon so hard that Dudley will never be able to get it up.”
Sirius barked a laugh, as Rosella and Israel looked amused.
“Yes, we heard about some truly inventive curses,” Rosella agreed. She had a slightly foreign accent that Harry couldn’t place. “And some new ways of using them that we’d never thought of.”
“Yes,” Israel agreed, “but that’s a fireside story.”
“It’s really great to meet you both, as I love Astoria’s parents so much; I really wanted to meet Romilda’s as well.”
“Well, we’ve heard so much about you, and well,” Israel reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small diamond, and chucked it at his daughter, “we want some of those knives.”
Romilda pulled out a small jewellers’ eye loupe, and examined it.
“No faith,” Israel called playfully, striking the back of his hand to his forehead.
“This is my career we’re talking about,” Romilda retorted. “And yes, this will get you two.”
“We don’t carry much gold,” Israel explained.
“Give it back, Romi,” Harry said with a sigh. “Daph and I have already made your parents a knife each for having us this summer.” He put a playful scowl on his face. “It was supposed to be a surprise.”
Romilda pouted as she handed the diamond back. Israel looked delighted as he looked at his daughter. “I’m sure there will be other things we want,” he consoled her.
“Don’t forget bargaining is important,” Harry agreed, “but you’re the expert.”
Romilda smiled at him, and looked at her parents eagerly.
Israel made a cross with his fingers. “Back, evil child.”
Rosella smacked him, quite hard, in the arm.
“Is there room to increase the pulchritude in the group?” a familiar voice called.
“Derek,” Harry said happily, and gave the man a one-armed hug. He sniggered at the dumbfounded expression on Astoria, Daphne and Cressida’s faces. “And Cress, thanks for coming.”
“We wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Cressida exclaimed. “Rosella, Israel, it’s good to see you.” Astoria moved over to Romilda, and stood next to her.
“It’s been close to a year, far too long,” Israel agreed. “We need to get together and have a party.”
“How about you park your clan on our lawn again, at the start of summer. We could have a welcome home party for the kids, before everyone separates.”
“Wonderful idea,” Sirius agreed.
“Yo, Boris,” Harry called, “we’re planning a party, you want in?”
Boris appeared in a flash. “Is Boris,” he introduced himself, “is Vik’s dad,” before he dropped the playful accent. “So, the last time we had a party, Harry got up early and made the best breakfast in the world. And that was after introducing us to pizza and some manly beer.”
“This is Israel and Rosella Vane,” Harry introduced the two, “of the Vane Gypsy clan, and Romilda’s parents. We’re talking about celebrating the end of the school year with a large barbeque, sacrificing a large pig and a cow to the cause, and ordering in several crates of alcohol.”
“Here, have money,” Viktor introduced himself to the group, handing Harry his wallet. Esmeralda moved next to Boris. “Harry does lots, time for Viktor to do little.”
Harry laughed. “If you insist.”
“Vik does! Hello, parents of Romilda,” he added.
“Okay, even we’ve heard that you are an exceptional Quidditch player. Congratulations on your hard work and dedication.”
Vik turned to his father. “That, is nicest greeting professional player Vik has received.” He moved forward and bear-hugged Romilda’s father, and then kissed Rosella on both cheeks. “Vik so glad he came to Hogwarts this year!”
“Hello, Harry,” Ana said, as she appeared next to her husband. Sophia walked forward and looked up at him.
“Good luck in the task today, Harry,” she said, “I do want big brother to win, but would not mind if you did.”
Harry leaned down a bit, and hugged the young girl with his free arm. “Thank you, Sophia.”
She gave him a beaming smile with a faint hint of a blush on her cheeks, and then retreated to half-hide behind Viktor.
“Gathering over here, are we,” Apolline said, as she and her husband joined the crowd. Daphne and Fleur, who was carrying Gabrielle, appeared next to them, with Hermione next to Daphne. Harry looked around, and waved for Cedric, Cho, and Cedric’s parents to join them.
Cedric rolled his eyes, with his back to his parents, and shook his head.
Harry winced, and sent an apologetic look.
Cedric shrugged, mouthed, “Not your fault,” and turned back to his family.
Harry turned back as everyone finished introducing each other.
“So, do we have something special to look forward to?” Israel asked, “Nadya sent some wonderful descriptions and photos of the first two tasks.”
Fleur giggled. “Oui,” she said. “And as always, the true champion is the one leading it.”
“Cedric?” Harry asked.
“No, you, silly,” Fleur replied. “Daph, be a love?”
“Sure,” Daphne said, and bounced over to Harry, and kissed him on the cheek. “Hush,” she said sternly, “just because you consider yourself a fake champion, doesn’t mean the others do.”
“Okay,” he gave in, and decided to keep his opinion to himself.
“As sorry as I am to break this up,” Professor Dumbledore called, “it is time to start.”
Harry looked as Isabella tugged gently on his side. “Thank you for duh hug,” she said, and kissed his cheek. He lowered her to the ground, and she moved away, and joined Romilda.
Harry moved forward, and knelt. He showed her his bare hands, and then twisted them, and used elf magic to silently summon one of the leather Hedwig dolls he’d worked on. He offered the white leather and lamb fleece owl to the girl. He’d used amber for the eyes, and it was startlingly effective.
She gasped, and took it reverentially, before she hugged it tightly. She looked up at him, her eyes bright with excitement. “Thank you, Hawwy,” she said. “She is bootiful.”
Harry smiled at her. There was a commotion behind him, and he knew exactly what it was. He turned, to see a silenced Gabrielle at what appeared to be a start of an epic tantrum. He summoned another, and moved over and offered it to her. Immediately the tantrum ended, and she beamed happily. He had the feeling that she didn’t really care for the owl, she just didn’t want to be left out of something.
“Thank you,” Fleur said, and he knew she was thanking him for ending the tantrum, rather than the actual toy.
“Erm, can I get one?” Daphne asked hopefully.
Harry laughed, and summoned one for her as well. And then more as Hermione coughed, and held out a hand. It was a good job he’d had enough leather and fleece to make twenty of them. The first ten hadn’t been that good, but the last ten had met Hedwig’s standards. After handing Romilda and Astoria one each, plus one for Derek, who was grinning with child-like anticipation, he finished with Sophia.
“Thank you, so very much,” she whispered, and moved forward and hugged him again.
He stood. He moved over and hugged Derek and Cress, before offering a shy hug to Sirius, who grabbed him and whispered, “Good luck, Harry.”
He moved away, only to be pulled back by Hermione, and then Romilda and Astoria who both gave him good luck kisses on the cheek. He pretended he didn’t see their firm looks at Sophia, or the slightly defiant look she had as she stood behind her father.
Fleur kissed her parents and handed over Gabrielle, before kissing Daphne. Viktor hugged Ana, and then gave a bear hug to Boris, before giving Sophia a tight hug. He kissed Esmeralda. Together, they joined Cedric and walked toward the entrance to the maze.
“This is exciting,” Ludo Bagman’s voice echoed around the stadium. “Now, for the final task, the champions must enter the maze and fight their way to the centre. The first to the centre will find the Triwizard Cup and win the tournament.” He paused, as the crowd roared their approval.
Above the maze, the same floating screen from the second task appeared.
“Harry, you’re first, then Viktor, then Cedric, and finally Fleur. Ready?”
He blew a whistle, and Harry took a few steps forward, and then waited. He was joined by Viktor, and then Cedric, and finally Fleur.
“Ready?” The three other champions grinned. “Ladies first.”
“Armour on,” Fleur yelled. She shrugged off her robes, revealing the padded clothing, just in time for the armour to slide up her body, locking into position.
“Armour on,” Cedric and Viktor called, following the same motions.
“Armour on,” Harry whispered, last. He’d done this many times, and hadn’t want to stand out, so he’d made sure his armour grew on him the same way, and looked similar to theirs – the only difference, of course, was that his was in Hogwarts’ colours.
“Ready?” he asked, drawing a sword.
The other three nodded, drew their own swords – Cedric almost fumbling his – and together they entered the maze.
“Only Harry,” Derek called, amusement evident in his voice.
“He made the armour as a surprise,” Daphne announced. “He probably skipped a lot of sleep to do so.”
“Probably,” Hermione agreed with a sigh. “But part of this tournament was to bring the schools closer, and there you have the four of them working together.
As the four turned a corner, a Blast-Ended Skrewt appeared in front of them. It paused, and then, to the watching audience’s surprise, backed away slowly.
“Smart creature,” Astoria said approvingly.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t try and go through those four,” Sirius agreed. “Notice how Harry is still in front.”
“Well, he does know how to use the sword,” Romilda said. “We got some golems for him to practice on, and plenty of experience potions.”
Boris chuckled. “Mind you, with that amount of sharp steel and the muscles he’s built up, I’ll bet that even normal strokes are deadly.”
“They are,” Hermione said. “Harry always puts runes on them; he dropped one once, and it cut through a table.”
There was a round of laughter. “As impressive as this is, it is a bit dull,” Romilda pointed out. “But then, the second task was as well.”
“True, true,” Derek agreed readily.
“I don’t mind, though,” Esmeralda said, “I get enough grey hair watching Viktor play Quidditch.”
There was another round of laughter. “But Esmeralda, your hair is always so very pretty,” Sophia called.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” the elder witch replied.
“Ooo, this could be interesting,” Derek called. “A boggart!”
Everyone looked, as it faced Harry, who was still in the lead. Slowly it turned into Harry, inside a cupboard. “Gone, all gone,” the fake Harry whimpered. He was lying on the floor, curled up, rocking back and forth.
The armoured Harry paused. Suddenly, he jerked forward, striding past the creature and as he did, he twirled his sword and slammed the point down into the head of his doppelganger. His sword glowed as it did, the runes activating. Without looking back, Harry walked on.
“Oh, I am so proud of him right now,” Hermione said. “He’s over his childhood, and moving on to being an adult. Dobby?”
“You is calling?”
“Can you grab that dead Boggart, quickly? They were thought to be amortal, but that is definitely some sort of remains.”
“Dobby will,” the elf said, and popped away.
“Any idea what the runes on his sword are?”
“Which ones?” Astoria asked. “We’ve put all sorts on the blade and each piece of the handle. If you mean the glowing, that would be the undead-fighting runes that we put on in case of zombie attack.”
“Zombies are not going to attack,” Romilda pointed out.
“They might,” Astoria replied. “It’s far better to be safe than sorry.”
“It was a movie!”
“I don’t care. Zombies don’t stop. I had some spare space, so I was not going to be put in a situation where I would regret not adding them,” Astoria finished with a self-satisfied nod, her point having been incontrovertibly made.
Derek reached out and hugged his youngest. She didn’t protest, as she leant into him.
“There’s only really the sphinx to go,” Boris called, “And I think that Harry is in a bit of a bad mood now.”
“He is,” Daphne agreed. She giggled, as Harry moved in front of the sphinx, and held his sword out between the creature’s eyes.
“I have to ask you a riddle,” the Sphinx said quickly, raising her front paws defensively. “What is two plus two?”
“Four,” Harry replied.
“Right,” the Sphinx said, hopping out the way. Harry marched forward. “I have not been paid enough for this,” The Sphinx muttered. “See the world, they said. Get out of your musty pyramid, they said. Yeah, right. See a giant-ass sword right in your face, is what they didn't say.”
They arrived in a clearing, and Harry pulled his helm back. “Cedric, you’ve got your wand. You mind checking the cup?”
“Sure,” Cedric agreed. He removed his left gauntlet and pulled out his wand. He cast a few spells. “It’s safe.”
“On zero?” Harry suggested.
The others nodded.
“Three, two, one, go!”
The four grabbed the cup, and nothing happened. As everyone started to applaud and cheer, the ground underneath them suddenly erupted into a blood red pentagram, with fire down each line, and the four vanished.
Less than a second later, Dumbledore was there, casting spells, around them, adults vanished over to Dumbledore.
“Fuck,” Romilda swore. No one castigated her.
“Helms down,” Harry snapped, as they landed. “Armour off. Combat armour on.”
Harry felt his armour melt and reappear, putting him back in the armour he’d used to kill the original Death Eaters. He looked around; they were in a large room that looked like a prison cell. The walls were all stone, with only a barred door in front of them.
“Any idea where we are?” Fleur asked.
“None,” Cedric responded, looking around. “Apart from in prison,” he added.
There was a hissing sound, and Harry looked down, to see a green gas pouring in. It was clearly heavier than air, as it was slowly filling their cell.
“When I get out of here, I think I’m going to have to give Tori and Romi a kiss,” Harry muttered.
“Why?” Viktor asked.
“Astoria’s paranoid about Zombies, which is why I had the runes to kill the Boggart.”
“Drowning. Romilda insisted that we kept the enchantments I used for underwater breathing charms on all my helms, just in case.” He paused. “Anyone want to go back?”
“We’re safe at the moment. Although perhaps,” Cedric suggested as the gas rose, “we should pass out, anyway.”
Harry chuckled, and dropped to the ground noisily. He winced as something dug into his hip. The others dropped down as well.
Harry was prepared to transport them all to safety and the first hint that his helms were failing to filter the gas.
It was another five minutes of boredom, before the gas started to vanish. And another two minutes before the doors opened, and two Death Eaters entered. Harry sprang to his feet, and decapitated them both with a single stroke.
Fleur turned, and raised her helm, before she vomited. The other two raised theirs, and breathed hard.
“Sorry,” Harry winced. He moved over and put a hand on Fleur’s shoulders. “If it helps, imagine what they would do to a pretty little Veela child, like Gabrielle.”
Fleur suddenly looked enraged, as she glared at the corpses.
Harry cast a spell to clear her mouth, not mentioning that it was for his (and maybe Daphne’s) benefit as much as hers. “Do you three want to stay here, while I sort this out?”
“No,” Viktor said. “Harry is Viktor’s best friend. Viktor will have Harry’s back.”
“There is no way in hell I’m leaving,” Cedric said firmly.
“And I could not bear to lose my big brother, when I’ve only just found him,” Fleur said, as she got a determined look on her face.
“Right, then stay behind me. If you have to use your swords, be careful of each other, and me! And yourselves; the armour is good, but you can cut into your own leg if you try hard enough.”
The others nodded, and they headed out of the dungeon.
Fleur felt her heart slowly return to normal, as she focused more on Harry’s black armour, than the corridor in which they were travelling.
She’d been fine, even through the gas, as Harry had been visibly relaxed, but then the sudden violence with which he had reacted brought it home that this was not a game.
Daphne had told her of the night that he had first killed the Death Eaters, but it had never really seemed real, and it had been more important at the time to hear how Daph had discussed Fleur’s bum. And how much Daphne had liked it.
Fleur had liked that bit.
But now, she was realising just how real it was, and the fact that she would be dead if it wasn’t for Harry.
But she wasn’t, she had friends who she could be herself with, a girl who was cute, innocent, sexy and yet somehow downright ruthless, who looked at her with love and affection, and a man in front of her who would protect her with his life, tell her she was attractive, and all the while, not want to do her.
She swore to herself that she would prove to herself that she was worthy of Daphne and his love, by protecting him now.
Curses flashed past her, one impacting but doing nothing. In front of her, Harry sprinted, and the curses stopped.
She ignored the arm on the floor as she walked past the two dead Death Eaters. She looked to her left, to see Cedric and Viktor. Although she couldn’t see their faces, she could sense the same resolve from them.
Despite everything, this is what she had always wanted: love, family and friendship.
As they ascended from the dungeons, Harry looked around, and wondered if this was Malfoy manor. There was a set of ornate double doors ahead of them. He walked forward and gave an armour-enhanced kick to them. They flew open, ripping off their hinges.
They were in a small ballroom. There were closed doors to the left and right, and another directly ahead of them. A skylight above let in the light that illuminated the room and glinted off the armour of the man in front of them.
He was tall, taller than Harry, and had a ragged red beard that jutted out of his helm. His armour looked old, ancient even, but well cared for.
“Mulciber,” Cedric whispered. “Pure-blood lord, from the Wizengamot.”
“Potter,” Mulciber roared. “Your progress ends here. My lord has allowed me to kill you.”
Harry didn’t say anything.
Mulciber pulled out a bastard sword and swung it a few times, before flicking it in the air dramatically, and catching it. He span it around his body at an impressive speed. “You think you’re the only one with armour?” he asked. “My father insisted I learn, as he learnt from his father. So I challenge you, no magic, just me and you.”
All the reasons he should say no span through his mind. But this was possibly the only chance he was ever going to get to have an actual fight with someone else who wore armour and knew how to use a sword.
“I know this is stupid, so don’t bother telling me,” Harry said softly. “I accept.” He yelled the last bit.
Mulciber roared his approval. “My Lord is through there,” he pointed behind him. “All you have to do is get past me.”
Harry nodded and moved forward, his sword ready. Mulciber closed the gap and launched a huge overhead cut at him. Harry angled his sword and allowed it to slide down, and used the distraction to kick Mulciber.
Mulciber span from the kick, his sword flying it to a horizontal cut. Harry ducked the six inches needed to allow it to pass over his head. He swung his own sword up, aiming for Mulciber’s hips.
Mulciber stepped back and gave him a slightly deranged grin.
Harry shut his helm; Mulciber aped him. They clashed again, Harry deflecting a lunge and using his gauntlet to punch Mulciber.
Mulciber took the punch and launched an armoured knee into Harry’s protected stomach, Harry was off balance for a second, which allowed a low powered cut from Mulciber to slash against his armour. As Harry had expected, the cut did nothing.
Mulciber growled and attached again, this time launching a series of overhand strokes down on him, each one as furious as the last.
Harry deflected each of them, content to let the man tire himself out, as he watched and reacted.
Mulciber overbalanced slightly, and Harry reacted, launching a booted foot into his stomach, and swinging for Mulciber’s neck. The man swayed back just enough, and attacked again.
Harry was hard pressed, having to concentrate to avoid being overrun by the sustained attack. But every time his defence failed, his armour took the blow and easily held out.
“Your problem,” Harry called, as he stepped back quickly and chucked his sword to Viktor, “is that you brought a sword to a hammer fight.” He reached behind him, and activated the runes. His war-hammer appeared, and he pulled it forward, using the reinforced handle to block Mulciber’s next stroke.
His hammer was all black, with a heavy nine-pointed head, topped with a vicious iron alloy spike coming out of the top. He’d engraved the Hogwarts crest on each of the four sides of the hammer’s head. The handle was four feet long, with evenly separated double-gold rings all the way down, demarking the hand-holds.
“As every properly-trained warrior knows,” Harry continued, “swords against armour don’t work. Armour is designed specifically to stop slashing cuts.”
He backed away carefully, blocking, sidestepping and ducking the now frenzied attack.
As he started to recognise a pattern to Mulciber’s attacks, he came up with a plan. Mulciber launched into a side cut, and rather than dodge, Harry turned and caught it directly on his chest plate.
His armour held perfectly, freezing Mulciber for a second from the shock. He stepped back and slapped the head of his hammer against Mulciber’s arm. The sword went flying as Mulciber yelled in agony.
Harry darted forward, kicking hard at his enemy’s ankle. Mulciber tripped and crashed down, rolling onto his back. Harry didn’t hesitate, he raised the hammer high, holding it at the end of the handle, and pulled down, slamming the nine spikes as hard as he could – as hard as he had ever stroked anything – into the centre of Mulciber’s breast plate.
Mulciber made a small sharp barking noise as the air was forced out of lungs. All four of his limbs twitched horrifically for a few seconds, before he went totally limp. A pool of blood oozed out of the shattered and mangled chest piece.
Harry stepped back, more than slightly horrified at the sheer brutality of his last move. “Fuck,” he whispered.
“If anyone ever tells me that knights fighting were romantic, I’ll hit them,” Cedric said. “That was both awesome and terrifying.”
Harry stood and knocked back his helm. He winced as he resealed his hammer and looked at the large dent in Mulciber’s chest.
“Are you okay?” Fleur asked, as she moved over and gave him a quick iron-coated hug.
“Yeah, I shouldn’t have done it. It was a stupid risk to take, and announced that we are here to Voldemort.”
“It was awesome, though,” Fleur said with a small grin. “You were awesome. Did people really use hammers?”
“It was how soldiers on foot would deal with knights,” Harry said as he took a deep breath. “They’d drag them off their horses and either use a sharp point to pierce the armour or a hammer to crush it.”
Fleur winced playfully.
“Right,” Harry said, “through that door is Voldemort. You sure you don’t want to stay here?”
“Hell, no,” Cedric said. His words were echoed in a variety of ways by the other two.
“Okay,” Harry agreed. He took his sword back from Viktor and moved over to the doors. Like he had before, he used his foot as door opener, and stepped through the gap and into another, larger, ballroom.
Voldemort, who looked like an older version of the Tom Riddle from the diary crossed with a snake, was sat on a throne about ten metres away, at the end of the dance floor. They’d entered from the left side. To the left and right of him were five Death Eaters; the rest of the hall was empty.
“You were supposed to be alone, as who else could keep up with you, you’ve won everything else so easily,” Voldemort grumped. “I didn’t expect you to share your armour with your competition. I also hoped that I would have some of your armour as well, but alas, my minions failed.”
“No,” Harry exhaled, his voice dark and scary, “I don’t think you ever did understand how to love other people.”
“And the gas was supposed to knock you out,” Voldemort continued as if Harry had not spoken. He had a sour look on his face as he glared at them.
Harry heaved his sword forward, impaling the snake next to Voldemort, before he summoned it back. Voldemort blinked and frowned. “Violent, aren’t you?”
The Death Eaters all had their wands drawn. “This is what I am reduced to,” Voldemort lamented. “It took everything I had to set up that portal, and the gas, that was expensive. And yet, still I underestimated you.
“Mulciber guaranteed that he was better than you with a sword.”
“He possibly was,” Harry agreed, “but I was better with a hammer.”
Voldemort paused and stared at him, before the snake-like man shrugged. “But no more, we will fight, for our futures, and for how we want our world to grow.”
“Really?” Harry asked. “I believe it is traditional for me to taunt you a bit now, and I’d hate to be accused of not following tradition.”
“Go ahead,” Voldemort said, a strange expression of almost amusement flickered across his face. “Do feel free to add your philosophy of magic.”
“This plan was half-arsed,” Harry said. He shrugged. “I mean, seriously, there is nothing to stop me popping away to start with.”
“Yes, I know,” Voldemort agreed. “My main idea was that you wouldn’t want to leave, as this was your chance. I had high hopes for the gas.”
“I can breathe underwater...”
“Yes, I know, but I thought that maybe gas would not be stopped by your protections. Again, it was a hope.”
“So why?” Harry asked. “Why even do this?”
“I will not hide,” Voldemort said steadily. “I will not be treated as an irrelevance. My supporters are mostly gone, my places to hide vanishing. Even this, the Nott ancestral home, is being purchased by some stupid consortium. The normal methods of communication have been failing. Even Wormtail has abandoned me, and I did not realise how useful he was until he was gone.
“So, a desperate plan was needed, one to bring you in with the remaining loyal support that I have. I have a lifetime of spell knowledge over you. You have different flavours of magic, and that impressive armour. It will be a fight to remember. But you cheated; you didn’t come alone.
“Even so, we will fight. A fight for the future of the Wizarding world. A fight to see who has the correct philosophy, a fight that will go down in history!”
The Death Eaters were slowly edging away from Voldemort, but stopped as Voldemort turned his head.
Harry got the distinct impression that Voldemort was actually quite sane at the moment, and he could see some of the remnants of the brilliant and charismatic young man he had once been, who had swayed so many to his side.
Harry nodded slowly, and moved his sword into position.
As quick as a flash, the killing curse erupted from Voldemort’s wand, and was absorbed by his armour.
“Truly impressive,” the man said, as he launched a chain of curses. Harry used his sword to start deflecting them away.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Viktor rush toward the Death Eaters to the left, and, foregoing magic, he punched the first in the face, and kicked the second. With little effort, he then stabbed both. “For my family,” he called.
Cedric was heading toward the remaining Death Eaters, absorbing their curses. Fleur was moving out of the way.
Harry span out of the path of one lethal curse, and deflected another. He suddenly realised he had a huge problem, as he didn’t have his wand, or any form of ranged attack to fire back. He was good for up close, but the barrage was pushing him back and away from Voldemort.
He started to walk forward, relying more on his armour than he would like. He was shocked with the sheer speed and power that Voldemort possessed, before the spells abruptly stopped. Vodemort’s wand and the arm that had held it were now on the floor.
There was a stunned pause. Harry dashed forward, and rammed his sword into the shocked Voldemort’s stomach.
He retracted his sword, and with one swish, it was over.
“Armour off,” he whispered. He moved over and touched each of the other’s armour, repeating the command. He pulled Fleur into a hug. “You did it,” he whispered.
“No, no,” Fleur cried plaintively against him.
“You cut off his arm,” Harry pointed out.
“No, Harry, no,” Fleur cried again. She looked at him, “Please, I need you to protect me, now, more than ever.”
“I am part-Veela. If they hear I helped and injured him, all the Pure-blood sympathisers will be out for me, always. For you, they are scared, but they will try and get me, because I am not human!
“Please, Harry, I need you to take the credit.”
“She is right, Harry,” Cedric pointed out. “I’m willing to take a vow never to reveal it.”
“Me, too,” Viktor said. “Vik will remember the look on his face until he dies, as Harry cut the head off the Ñ…Ð¸Ð±Ñ€Ð¸Ð´.”
“It was Harry who stuck who sword into his gut, and Harry who removed his head,” Cedric continued. “And that was what killed him.”
“Agreed,” Viktor said.
“Right,” Fleur said. “I distracted him, Harry, but you killed him. You killed his support. You killed his reputation, and in the end, it was your armour that allowed us to kill his last few people, and it was your sword, held by you, that finished him.”
“You three are getting credit,” Harry said firmly. “You know, I think he knew all of that, and he’d restored enough of his soul to be sane enough to see how things were going, and wanted to go out on his own terms.”
“Possibly,” Cedric said. “It could also be that he was deluded enough to think that he’d still win, just because he’d never really been beaten in a direct duel before.”
Harry turned and looked at his two male friends. “How are you guys doing?”
“I’m holding it together,” Cedric confessed.
“Do not think of them as human,” Viktor said, his voice cold. “They tried to kill us, we killed them. They no try kill us, they still live. Their mistake. Vik saw them, remembered what they would do to Vik’s girlfriend and little sister, Vik put them down, like animals.”
Harry reached out and put a hand on Viktor’s shoulder. “That’s pretty much what Daphne told me, after the first time I killed them,” he agreed. “They were scum, diseased animals, and we put them out of our misery.”
Viktor nodded fiercely. Harry turned to Cedric, who was looking a bit more relaxed. “Cho, too,” Cedric murmured after a few second. “Being foreign is almost as bad to these racist fucks.” He moved over and kicked Voldemort’s corpse.
Harry laughed. He picked up Voldemort’s head and put it in a sack. “Tell you what, you three can burn him.”
“Yeah, Incendio the fucker.”
The other three laughed. With wands in hand, they looked at each other. Harry decided that leaving his wand by his bed that morning had been an incredibly stupid mistake. And that maybe Dobby had a point about the potions.
“On three?” Fleur called.
“Wait, is that three and then cast, or cast on three?”
“Three, then cast.”
Viktor and Cedric nodded.
“One, two, three,” Fleur counted, before they all cast the same spell on Voldemort’s body. It burst into fire, as did his wand, before it turned to ashes.
“Satisfying,” Viktor noted.
“Now, I suspect that some people are going nuts worried about us. Shall we get out of here and see our loved ones?” Harry asked.
The other three nodded. “Ready?” He popped them all back to the entrance to the maze.
Their friends and families were gathered, and the worried looks on their faces faded. Near them, the Armoured Auror squad were pacing, hands on the pommels of their swords, and a concerned looking Amelia Bones to the fore.
Harry raised his right hand, and silence engulfed the stands and the field. He slowly held up the sack. “Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, is dead.”
The cheer that followed was utterly awesome.
“With the help of Viktor Krum, Fleur Delacour and Cedric Diggory, the remaining Death Eaters were taken care of.” Even with the Sonorus charm, Harry had to shout to be heard.
“Which,” Cedric yelled, his own charm activated, “gave Harry the time and space to decapitate Voldemort. He died as he lived, hiding from the world, and trying to run from death.”
The cheer was even louder.
“The Tri-Wizard Tournament ended in a tie, and we couldn’t be happier. The money will be donated to the victims of Tom Riddle’s terrorism.”
The roar that followed was the loudest yet.
“And now that it is over, we are going to spend some time reassuring our families that we are okay.” Harry dropped the Sonorus charm. “Elves, can we transport everyone, and Professor Dumbledore and Professor Vane to the Greengrass ballroom?”
Harry stayed behind, and approached Amelia. “The Nott Ancestral home,” he told her. “We were kidnapped, they tried to gas us, failed, we killed the ones in the way, beat Voldemort, and headed back here.”
“Is there anything left for us?” Tonks asked eagerly.
Harry shrugged. “No idea at all.” He handed the bag to Amelia, who opened it, and paled slightly as she looked in.
“Thank you, Harry. There will be official recognition for this, and for everything else you’ve done this year.”
Harry shrugged. “Hopefully, I can go back to being a blacksmith. I’ve had enough of fighting.”
“And I will wish you nothing but the best of luck. You will also have to talk to the I.C.W. and me in an official capacity, to get your formal statement.”
Harry nodded and frowned. “Can you arrange to do it together, please? No matter how evil, decapitating someone isn’t something that I want to talk about more than once.”
Amelia nodded her agreement.
“Right, let Dumbledore know.” He didn’t wait for any more questions, he popped away to the Greengrass manor.
“Harry!” Hermione managed to beat Astoria and Romilda by a fraction of a second as they all pounced on him. All around him, the other three champions were getting the same treatment as he was.
Even the Diggorys had abandoned their dignity to check that Cedric was okay.
The girls were moved to a side, to allow Derek, Cressida and Sirius to take their places. Harry hugged them, before he was pounced on by a blonde. She kissed his cheek firmly, hugged him tightly. “You did it,” she whispered, “You protected my love, killed Voldemort, made it so that I can live the life I want. You are the most amazing big brother.”
He tightened his arms and hugged Daphne back. “So we can all live the lives we want.”
Daphne leaned back and smiled at him.
“Okay, Vik is happy and okay,” Viktor called. “Silence.”
Everyone went quiet and looked at him.
“Voldemort tried, Harry’s armour was better. We helped, Harry killed. Is done, we safe, sorry for worry, but time to move on, already.”
“Viktor’s right,” Cedric agreed. “Harry gave us the armour this morning, and when you are inside it, you feel pretty indestructible. We took out the support, while Harry duelled Voldemort, and then Harry cut his arm off, rammed his sword through Voldemort’s stomach, and then cut his head off.”
Harry felt a slight tug, and he moved automatically.
“And then,” Fleur said proudly, “we burned his body, so he cannot be raised again.”
“Excellent,” Professor Dumbledore called. He appeared to be bouncing, he was so happy. “Your four have done something amazing.”
“From what I can tell, these two,” Cedric pointed at Romilda and Astoria, “and this one,” he pointed to Hermione, “kicked it off by getting Harry to live up to himself. The rest just happened.”
Harry hugged Astoria with one arm, and kissed her chastely on the lips. He did the same to Romilda, before he finished with a kiss on Hermione’s cheek.
“I’m pretty sure that I talk for the four of us, when I say that it’s time for all of us to move on. The constant shadow of Voldemort has been blown away, and now we can get on with the rest of our lives. I’ve got loads of ideas for things I want to craft!”
“Like a range of Hedwig dolls?” Apolline suggested.
“Armoured Hedwig dolls as well,” Harry agreed. “Maybe dolls that can put on armour like Hedwig does.”
“Armoured?” Israel called.
Harry laughed. “Hedwig will be here in a second.” There was a bark, and his owl swooped in through a window that Harry was pretty sure hadn’t actually been open before. She landed on a table near him. Her armour was in place, and she had an extremely smug expression on her avian face. “What have you been up to?” he teased.
Hedwig barked a few times. “So that’s what he meant!” Harry laughed. “Look at Hedwigs’ boots.”
“What?” Cedric asked.
“Voldemort was trying to gather support by letter. Hed’s been doing her bit to ensure that those letters did not get through.” Hedwig barked again. “And she has some ideas for more armour.” He chuckled. “I was going to stop making armour, Hed, but I’ll happily make yours.”
Hedwig nodded her approval, before she glided to a mantelpiece, and went to sleep, still in full armour.
“You do know that’s not normal?” Sirius demanded.
“An armour-wearing owl? Yeah, I know. She looks great, though.”
Sirius laughed. “I meant talking to an owl.”
“Hed’s awesome. From what I can tell, other owls aren’t.” Harry looked around at all his friends and family – and Cedric’s parents – and how they were all still just standing around. “Derek, we got any beer left?”
Derek blinked, and then he nodded. “Of course, Harry. Come on you, Bulgarian barbarian, you can help,” the extraordinarily good looking man said to the extraordinarily hirsute man (who had already managed to lose his shirt). The two hurried off.
“Dobby,” Harry paused as the elf appeared. “Can you grab some other Elves and cook some food for this evening? Make sure you make enough so that all the Elves that help can eat with us.”
Dobby nodded eagerly. “Elves will be cooking great feast. And now that nasty man is gone, Elves can talk to Harry about their ideas for making things!”
“Absolutely,” Harry agreed. Dobby popped away just as Derek and Boris returned, floating crates behind them.
It didn’t take long for everyone to have a drink in their hands. “To the future,” Harry toasted.
“The future,” everyone else echoed. And with some alcohol, people started to relax and drifted into smaller groups. There was some movement, and Harry turned to watch, as Cedric talked to some Elves, before his parents were popped away, and his friend immediately looked more relaxed. More Elves appeared, this time with Cho’s parents, both of whom immediately checked that Cedric was okay. Harry popped out and picked up Georgie. Along with Sirius and Dumbledore, it was the same people from the great night they had enjoyed after their game of Podska.
Harry smiled and relaxed. The mood was still a little sombre, but then, this wasn’t a celebration as much as it was a chance for everyone to spend time together to reassure themselves that they had all made it.
“So,” Sirius said, “what the hell do you say when everything is over?”
“Yay?” Astoria suggested.
“Ding dong the witch is dead?” Hermione asked.
“Romilda Vane!” Rosella Vane interrupted. “I have no idea where you learn such language!”
A large part of the group sniggered, and looked at Nadya.
“Grandmother!” Rosella sighed.
“Oh, grow up, dear,” Nadya replied. She chuckled. “Actually, I think she meant, don’t lose your head.”
Harry laughed. “Good advice.” He took a long pull on the bottle, and felt more of himself relax. “It’s still hard to believe it is over. How did you feel, Professor, after you defeated Grindlewald?”
Albus stroked his beard. “Honestly? I got blind drunk and slept for two days. But then, at one time, we were friends, before our philosophies went very different directions. But, before I bring everyone down, that was a hell of a long time ago, and I do not live in the past. I can’t tell you how proud I am, Harry, of you, and your friends.
“The Tri-Wizard Tournament was meant to bring schools together, and it might not have done that as much as I might have wanted. It has certainly brought the champions together. And you four will go down in history, not just as Champions, but as the people who finally ended Voldemort’s dreams of conquest.”
“I think we should all call him That Wizard,” Astoria said. “Take away his name, make it a figure of fun. If you don’t eat your vegetables, That Wizard will come.”
“I like it,” Harry said. “Hey,” he looked at Romilda, “even though he’s dead, can I still give him a cursing?”
Romilda bounced. “We could try,” she said eagerly. “You want to destroy his memory?”
“Yep. Tori’s right. We’ve taken away his reputation, his life, and his supporters, we need to take away his legacy as well, so that what he stood for dies.”
“Hmm,” Rosella hummed. “You know, that might be possible. We’ll have to do a clan project on it. It’s a wonderful idea for revenge.”
“Agreed,” Israel said. He smiled. “New curses are always a fun thing to research.”
“Ouch,” Hermione said, as she snapped a rubber band she kept around her wrist. She blushed as everyone looked at her. “I’m still trying to keep focused. Tori and I have spent far longer than expected exploring the big jerk’s Magic is Magic idea, but we think we’re about finished. And in itself, I suspect I will spend the next few years researching it – and because of that, I can’t be distracted with shiny things.” She pouted.
Harry pulled her into a hug with his spare arm. “So I shouldn’t tell you about my new idea?”
Hermione punched him in the stomach, not hard. “No,” she said primly.
“Good, because I’ve not got one.”
The punch was harder the second time.
“Actually,” Harry said, “you know what, I’m gonna have a break.”
“I’ve been getting by on a couple of hours sleep for the past several months, because I was worried about the last task. Sirius, how is the house coming along?”
“It will be finished on time.”
“Cool. Derek, you mind putting up a couple of refugees for a few weeks?”
“Of course, Harry.”
“Professor Dumbledore, I’m done for the year.”
The Headmaster looked at him for a long moment, before he smiled. “Yes, that’s probably not a bad idea, Harry. You have worked exceptionally hard this year. I’ve had quite a few parents ask if we are going to offer more vocational classes in the next few years. It’s something I am seriously considering, when I see how well you have responded to it.” He paused. “Actually, I’ve changed my mind slightly. You can have the time off, but I want you to start thinking about the Lily Potter Wing for the library.”
“Deal,” Harry said with a grin.
“I shall ensure we have a few extra things in the gym,” Derek said, “because I suspect that with your cooking and the energy you won’t be burning down at the smithy, you’ll need an outlet.”
“And Sirius will need to avoid the old middle-aged-spread.”
“Hey,” Sirius protested.
“And,” Harry said enthusiastically, “we can start to plan the end-of-term party.”
Daphne bounced over from Fleur’s group. “Did I hear that right?” she asked with a pout. “You won’t be around at school?”
“Nah, I’ll still be there in the evenings,” Harry said, “I just won’t be working at the forge during the day.”
Daphne’s pout faded. “That’s okay then,” she cheered. She bounced, and looked at her parents. “Oh, did I tell you, Fleur and I are dating!”
“We know,” Cressida said dryly, “your sister did warn us. And the kiss earlier was a bit of a give-away.”
“Thanks, Tori,” Daphne said brightly.
“Derek had guessed, though,” Harry pointed out.
“Yeah, I almost got a crease on my forehead.”
“Ye gods, no,” Sirius declaimed, grabbing his heart.
“Ham,” Harry accused.
“I am,” Sirius agreed proudly. He grinned, and Harry grinned back at him. The more time he spent with his Godfather, the more comfortable he felt.
“If she gets heavy, you can put her down,” Israel told him. Harry tilted his head, and then looked down slightly, and tried to work out when he had picked Isabella up. She gave him a gap-toothed and contented smile, and put her head back down on his shoulder. “She’s fine.
“Now, my bottle is empty, and I’m starting to get hungry, so let’s move this into the dining room.”
Harry sat on the roof of the Greengrass mansion, and stared at the sky. “Wish I could see you again, Mum.”
Nothing happened, and he hadn’t expected it to. It was about three in the morning, and everything was silent and still. He couldn’t sleep, whether because of the alcohol, the relief of stress, the memory of Mulciber’s death, or the potions he still had in his system. The suddenness of the ending had caught him by surprise. Part of him wished he could talk to Tom Riddle, ask him so many questions. All he had was theories, such as maybe he had ignored Fleur because she wasn’t human.
It all just seemed so stupid. But maybe that was what you got when you split your soul and only rejoined bits of it.
He sighed and leaned back, so he didn’t have to hold his head up as he stared. He absently waved his wand that Dobby had fetched for him, and a shimmer appeared before him, focusing the light from the Hercules constellation. At one stage, it was called the Stag. Next to it, he pulled up another, this one focused between Aries and Perseus, for a constellation that was once briefly called the Lily.
“I did it,” he said to the two images. “Voldemort is dead, I have some incredible friends, I’ve got a new sport, and I’m only fourteen. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a year like this again, and really, I guess I hope I don’t.
“But killing Voldemort was so easy, so anti-climactic. We just walked in there, blasted through his traps, and killed him. So, I gotta ask, why did it take me, and three friends to kill him? Why didn’t anyone else do this? I mean, I heard that Professor Dumbledore has been shielding from the Killing Curse with raised walls for years, and as a shield works, why didn’t anyone just get a piece of metal and use it like the olden days?
“Why did I have to clear up the mess?
“And if I think about it, I realise that the problem wasn’t so much actions as inactions, as people not wanting to deal with it, like the Ministry and the Auror force.
“I know, I know, the I.C.W. made a huge difference this year, but if an international community can do a good job, it just says how bad a job our own leaders must have been doing. I vaguely remember some quote, about people getting the leadership they deserved.
“And if that’s true, and honestly, it looks like it, we really suck.
“And I don’t want to fix it. But what else can I do?” He gave out a deep sigh, and stared at the stars in front of him, trying to work out what he wanted. “I don’t want to even try and fix it, I don’t want to do politics,” he said quietly. “I’d prefer hitting people with swords, but I know that’s bad as well. I just want to be me, I’ve done my bit.
“Maybe, I guess, maybe, things are different this time, and that a lot of the problems that weren’t dealt with last time have been dealt with this time, and that things are going to change. I’ll just have to hope, you know?”
He sighed. “I do feel better getting that off of my chest, Mum, Dad.
“I’m getting happier with Sirius. It was good today; I didn’t feel weird with him. I think that Derek might have had a word.
“Dad, I hope you don’t mind, but Derek is probably always going to be the guy I turn to with dad-type problems. Sirius is more like my crazy uncle. I love him, but, you know, not the same?
“I hope it doesn’t disappoint you, I know you were great friends and everything.” He took a deep breath.
“Mum.” He took another deep breath. “Mum. I miss you. I’d love to talk to you about Romilda and Astoria, they are both amazing girls, both different but very similar. I’d love your advice about where I stand. I’m so confused about the whole thing.
“It doesn’t seem right to just make a decision and cut one out, but I can’t string both along.” He sighed. “Tori is cute and smart, she’s calm and expressive. Romilda is pretty and adventurous, and you know, has great boobs. I’m kinda attracted to both of them, physically and mentally, especially as they have both always been after Harry, not that weird Harry Potter guy that I’ve always disliked.
“So yeah, some advice would be great right now.”
Nothing happened, as he knew it wouldn’t. The stars continued to shine light that had been generated billions of years ago.
He chuckled wryly.
“On the other hand, there are three billion other females out there, so who knows what the future holds? You, maybe, but me, I’m just a teenager who fell in love with pounding hot metal. A teenager who managed to make the two best-looking girls he’d found into his sisters, which, my hormones have informed me repeatedly, was fucking stupid.”
He paused, “Sorry for the language,” he added quickly. “Blacksmithing is easy, growing up is hard.
“I guess I feel a little melancholy right now. Or drunk. Like, everything is about to change again, all the pressure to be Harry Potter is gone, and it’s just me now, someone who is as confused as everyone else my age.
“I want to create stuff, I want to play with Elf magic, and I want a girlfriend. And that’s it. Sure, one day I want kids, and all that stuff, but for now?” He paused. “I guess you know I lied to Hermione earlier?
“Yeah, I do have another idea, or maybe it’s just an expansion of my original idea. The way Elves talk to magic is actually more simplistic than humans. We use this weird Greek and Latin derivative along with formulaic wand movements. They kinda use the equivalent of childish English. Yeah, it doesn’t really translate, but popping is more, ‘Go here now,’ whereas Apparation is us saying, “Dear Magic, I would like to be squeezed here, please.”
“Wards are the equivalent of ‘Don’t let others go here, please.’”
“Power translates to how much you want it. If someone wants the opposite, the person who asks the strongest tends to win.”
Harry chuckled. “I sincerely hope that magic doesn’t have a personification, because can you imagine how annoyed she would be with the ‘Please kill that person on touch,’ spell.
“I think that’s why it’s so magically unblockable, because everyone was focusing on stopping the spell, and not doing the correct counter, which would be simply, ‘Please don’t kill me.’
“Scarily, you could cut down the Avada Kedavra spell and make it far worse, but I think I’ll keep that nugget to myself.
“Heh, Hermione would be telling me I’m rambling again. Sometimes it’s fun to ramble, and if you can’t ramble at the stars that represent your parents, who can you ramble at?
“Anyway, my idea was that you could build up a set of new magical building blocks, designed to ask magic to perform the tasks you want in a simple manner, and in doing so, you’d need to use less magic.
“A raw magical language, I guess. Whether it be something simple, like stringing together an adjective and a subject, or a full-on language I don’t know, but can you imagine the things we can create without foolish wand-waving or silly incantations?
“I know it will probably take me a lifetime to work out, but that’s the other thing I want to do with my life, make a contribution, you know?
“I want to know that when I eventually die and meet up with you again, that you’ll be proud of me, not just because I can do something physical, but because I did something mental as well.”
He went quiet and sighed, the magnification spell wavered and died, and he was again looking at the sky as a whole.
“I’ll talk to you later,” he promised, as he popped back to his room, and got ready for bed.
Hermione sat next to the open window. She was in a long flowing night gown, and she was cuddling her knees as she looked out.
She was struggling with extreme guilt. She’d heard a noise, and cast a spell to allow her to hear better, and had listened in to Harry talking to his parents.
Part of her had fallen for his Harry Potter act this year, and she’d somewhat forgotten, despite everything, that he was still a teenager deep inside.
A teenager who desperately missed his parents.
She wasn’t close to hers, but she still had them. And if the worst happened, she could rely on them for support.
She rested her chin on her knees and stared out the window. Family, it was weird. Harry was her family, first and foremost, but then, she had other good friends, Daphne, Astoria, Romilda, and now Fleur, and Viktor and Esmeralda and Cedric and Cho.
And she could go on, with other people she now knew well. She lived in another world from her blood family her new friends meant more to her than her actual parents did.
And she didn’t feel any loss for that.
Like Harry, she was quite ready for some romance, but she had a similar issue to Harry. She was his best friend, and she would have to be extremely careful that whoever she dated didn’t just want to get close to him.
It was a small price to pay, and maybe it meant that she would have to look outside of Hogwarts. And honestly, Israel Vane was a very attractive man, which gave her all sorts of pleasant thoughts for whom she might meet this summer.
Once more, she was feeling a little... she paused, she didn’t know what she felt, she just knew that her best friend was planning something so utterly revolutionary that he would go down in history for another reason, and she had been so busy thinking about his previous idea.
She sighed. Jealous, she supposed, was the word for what she was feeling. She smiled, but then, she was there, with him, and she’d be involved. It would be a research project like nothing else.
Harry was still the same, still that little boy who had jumped on the back of a troll to save her, and no matter what, he always would be.
Sure, he missed his parents and he had no clue what to do about his love life, or lack of love life, and he could make magic with fire and iron, and he could come up with brilliant ideas to change the world.
Harry was her best friend in the world, and always would be, and that fact made everything that had happened in her life appear trivial.
And she loved that feeling.
She made a mental note to give him a huge hug in the morning, and tell him that she loved him like a little brother.
She hopped to bed, and dreamt about a language where they could do anything their imagination could come up with.
“Crazy old uncle?” Sirius asked the ceiling. He grinned. That sounded fun. James’s mum had always told him that you never heard anything good when you eavesdropped on someone.
So yeah, he would never be a replacement for James, but that actually made things easier. He could concentrate on the important things in life. Such as making sure Harry got laid over the summer, and did not tie himself down so early in life.
Even James, who had loved Lily for years, had played the field before getting with her, and fourteen was far too early to be planning a permanent relationship, no matter how pretty Astoria and Romilda were, although he agreed with Harry, Romilda did have a remarkable rack for a little girl.
He liked Derek, the man clearly loved Harry as the son he didn’t have, and if he was going to be responsible, it allowed Sirius to do all the fun things. He paused. It also allowed him to be himself. The years in Azkaban were dead years, so he was somewhere in his thirties, with the mind of twenty-year-old, and honestly, he didn’t have the maturity to be the stern one yet.
He could party with Harry, but discipline him? Probably not.
Being the crazy uncle would allow him to grow up along with Harry, while giving the boy the benefit of the experience he did have.
He would have to get his motorcycle back, and get Harry one for his birthday.
Sirius had spent too much time in Azkaban, Harry had spent too much time with the Dursleys, both occupied by soul sucking creatures, and then Harry had gone ahead and killed Voldemort as well.
And if that didn’t mean he deserved to have some fun, he didn’t know what did.
So, maybe he could forget to get the builders to complete on time, and the first week of the holidays they could go and waste some of the Black fortune in Vegas. He’d heard it was brilliant, and the very fact that he would be wasting Black family gold at a Muggle place would have his ancestors rolling in their graves.
Sure, he’d be scolded when he got back, but in the meantime, he’d have had a week of fun and will have made Harry relax.
And then, when he got back, he could start the most important thing he could dream of. Using the resources that Derek was helping provide, along with the Zhangs, the Delacours, the Krums and the Draganovas to ensure that Harry could live his life the way he wanted to.
And he would work with them to finish dismantling the Pure-bloods’ status symbols, and then they could look at how the remaining ones made their money, and wipe them out as well. It was time for a change. The previous ways had failed.
Sirius was struck with his own genius. Cressida would make a great Minister for Magic. And with the sort of money they would be throwing around, getting her elected would be easy. And with her in charge, she would definitely work for fair and equitable laws, so that all the kids could live good and productive lives.
Sirius chuckled as he remembered why Derek was actually working for a change – it was for exactly the same reason. Well, that clearly meant that Derek was going to have to accept that he had a new loyal friend, and one who was pretty damn good looking himself.
And with that all in progress, he could start the second most import thing: meeting Apolline’s friends!
The future was so bright it was unbelievable.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore sat in the traditional chair of the Headmaster of Hogwarts, and, with the ease of long practice, ignored the fact that he would really like to replace it with something far less ostentatious and a little more comfortable; maybe even recline.
The I.C.W. had given him their draft report on the running of Hogwarts, and he’d already decided it would be followed completely. A lot of it was common sense, and that had been lacking recently.
There were going to be huge changes to Hogwarts, and he couldn’t see anything negative about it at all.
Not only were they using the ideas that Harry and his friends had donated money to, but they were going to use some of Hogwarts’ surplus to hire more staff and provide more opportunities for the students.
It would take a while, but he felt he was up for the challenge of making Hogwarts the premium school in the world.
And while he felt a little guilty about it, they were going to have a lot of transfers in the next year. People knew that Harry Potter was incredible, and that he had been schooled here, so wanted their children to get that sort of experience.
Sure, they might be a bit disappointed to find that Harry was different, and not really a regular student, but all the other plans he had would ensure that he would be able to ensure that they received the education they, and every other student deserved.
With a suddenness that would have been disconcerting if he weren’t used to it, Harry and his friends appeared for dinner.
He hadn’t seen Harry since the night before, and was pleased he was looking awake and happy. He still remembered his hangover after the fight with Grindlewald, and he wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
“I wonder if I can persuade him to give some lessons on smithing,” he mused out loud.
Minerva chuckled. “Probably a bad idea.”
“Everyone would sign up, and he’d hate that.”
“True,” Albus said with a sigh. He moved that idea into the figurative dustbin. He met Harry’s eyes, and raised his glass. Harry saluted back, a playful glint in his eye.
“The lad’ll be fine,” Alastor grunted. “He’s got an interview to give tomorrow with Amelia and the I.C.W. After that, he can concentrate on being a teenager.” The old Auror chuckled, “And then he can have the fun of turning down people who want his armour, and the commissions for everything else he can come up with.”
“Indeed,” Albus said, “And as long as he is still nominally in school, I can help protect him.” He paused. “With his consent, of course.” He chuckled softly.
“Albus?” Minerva asked.
“I do wonder how their group dynamic will change next year.”
“Why?” Minerva prodded.
“Viktor and Fleur will both be leaving school, and I happened to overhear Sophia, Viktor’s sister, and Viktor himself persuade their parents to allow Sophia to attend Hogwarts next year.”
“I’m sure she’ll fit in nicely,” Minerva said.
Albus chuckled and didn’t mention the young girl’s crush on Harry, or the way Viktor appeared to be aware and supportive of it.
The teachers went silent, all of them watching the far-right corner of the room, where the ex-Gryffindors and ex-Slytherins laughed and talked with the students from other schools, the Hufflepuff and the Ravenclaw.
It was a vision of the future that was utterly appealing. And one he fully hoped to see come into existence.
Kokopelli’s note: I retired from active fanfic writing several years ago, around the time I took up blacksmithing. So it was a bit of a delightful surprise when Jeconais lobbed this story into my inbox. A few words about terminology:
Smith — someone who shapes metal.
Smithy — the smith’s workshop.
Forge — the place where the metal is heated.
I had a lengthy discussion with Jeconais about how one heat treats knives, but it’s really too much detail for anyone but another blacksmith to appreciate. The story is pretty much accurate as blacksmithing works, but it’s entertainment, not an instructional manual.
Thanks again for letting me help.
Lily told Harry to kill Voldemort with a sword. The I.C.W. cleaned house. Mad-eye killed Pettigrew. Derek and his friends eliminated all the highing points. Hedwig stopped all the owls from taking Voldemort's letters anyway. They didn't use the Floo as it was too public. None of them had any idea about the others. Voldemort himself was sane enough to know that he was insane and losing. A terrifying position for him, one that dominated his thinking so much he gave everything on one roll of the dice.
Isabella was mentioned in an earlier chapter as the cuddlebug.
Amortal was a word from the HP wiki. Not one I'd come across before.
Harry's war hammer was very much based on King Robert's War Hammer from A Song of Ice and Fire.
I had Tonks do a cartwheel in armour, as I'd read that was possible. A few weeks ago I found the following video showing some of the movements available. People who lived in armour could do a hell of a lot more.
I know a lot of people haven't liked this story but I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully, in a few months time I'll be able to sit down and read it dispassionately. I hope I still like it then.
For those that did, thanks for sticking with me.
And once more a huge thanks to my betas - because without them, this would never have even been published.