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“Do you mind if I join you?”

“Of course not.  Take a seat.”

“Might I enquire as to what you are doing?”

“Watching the grass grow.”

“Any particular reason?”

“I find it calming.  It puts things in perspective.  There's a life form here that's going to grow, die, and be reborn, without ever knowing or caring that I exist.  It's just following its genetically determined path.”

“And you find that calming?”

“It means that what ever happens, life will go on.  People will go on.  It might be dark for a while, but it can't rain forever.”

“Forgive me for saying so, but you're sounding rather fatalistic.”

“Really?  I don't feel it.  This is what I've been aiming for; this is finally it.  All the things I have learnt will be put to the test soon, and I will either die in the process, or I will live, get married to my girlfriend, and spend the rest of my life secure in the knowledge that I have fulfilled my destiny. 

“And between the two of us, I would prefer the second option.”

“I'm remarkably pleased to hear that, Harry.  It's only now, as I look back, that I find myself regretting some of my actions.”

“No offence, Albus, but it's a little late for that now.  You've made your decisions, as I have made mine, and now we have to live with them, for better or for worse.”

“I can still apologise.”

“You can, but I'd rather you didn't.  It doesn't matter anyway.  Good decisions, bad decisions - that's life.  We do the best we can with the information available to us, guided by our sense of what is right and wrong.  We can't remake the past, so there is little point in worrying about it.  The only thing we can do is take the lessons learnt, and use them in the future.”

“It is strange how time changes things, Harry.  I thank you for offering advice to an old man who forgot that he was fallible.”

“It's not just me.  Some truly remarkable people have helped me over the years:

“Ron and Hermione, who have been everything that friends should ever be, and more.  They've stood by me, saved my life, and given themselves whole-heartedly to the defeat of Voldemort. 

“Ginny, proof positive that size is no indication of power.  Sharp and funny, and someone who fought to make herself a human after experiencing something no one should ever have to go through.

“Padma, the last person I would have expected to fall in love with, but I have.  She’s as scarily smart as Hermione, but with an in-built understanding of me, amazingly gorgeous, and brave enough to be a Gryffindor.

“Minerva, my favourite Professor, who took the time to become my friend, and showed me the path to adulthood with incredible grace and clarity.

“Hagrid, who has taught me never to judge someone by their appearance but to judge them by their actions.

“And you yourself, Albus.  You've been my mentor, my guru, and at times, my protagonist.  But through it all, I never doubted that you cared about me.  It's been a long journey, and one that will soon be over.”

“Harry, are you saying what I think you are saying?”

“That Voldemort will be here soon?  Yes.  He will.  In a couple of weeks.”

“How do you know?  Have you had a vision?  Why haven't you told me?”

“Close your eyes, Albus.  Take a deep breath, feel the air, and feel the magic flowing around Hogwarts.  Describe it for me.”

“It's fast, running around, circling and flowing like I've not felt for some time.”

“Exactly.  Voldemort and I are written in prophecy - we are destiny.  The castle knows. Voldemort knows.  The magic knows.  I know.”

“Another sign of my fallibility - that I didn't notice.”

“You noticed last time, didn't you?”

“What do you mean?”

“When you were a servant of prophecy.  When you were fighting Grindelwald.  You knew then, didn't you?”

“I did.”

“This is not your time, Albus.  It is my time, and you are going to have to accept that quickly.  When the time comes, I will be leading the students.  I will be leading the battle.  It is my right, and it is my destiny.  You cannot do this; this is not your fight to lead.  These are not your lives to be responsible for.  They are my people, they are my responsibility, and they are mine to keep alive.”

“I have held onto this torch for so very long that I am almost afraid to let it go.  I am afraid of relinquishing control to anyone.  I have been the hope for the Light since before your parents were born, Harry.  It's a burden I have carried with both joy and despair.”

“You no longer have a choice.  If you don't hand over control, you will have become what you hate most.  It's time for one last act of heroism from you - to willingly give me what I must have, because if you don’t, you will be against me.  This is a fight that has been laid down to determine the future.  This is a fight for life against death, for freedom against oppression, for what is right over what is wrong.

“Look inside yourself, Albus.  Look at your magic, and look at who you are and who you want to be.  Look at how you want to be remembered, and look at what you have achieved in your long life.

“You know that you can't defeat Voldemort - that only I can, and you know that it is time.  Your next adventure is coming soon, we both know it; you need time to enjoy and prepare without the burden of overwhelming expectation.”

“It is a scary thought, Harry.  For so long, I have defined myself by my power, by my skill, and by my leadership.  But I am prouder now that I have such a fine young man to pass the torch to.  I have never had any intention of keeping the torch; it has been yours for the asking for many years.  I have merely been waiting for you to ask. 

“I have known since Voldemort marked you, that one day this time would come.  That one day I would be passing the torch to you; that you were my natural successor.  You will allow me to fight by your side, won’t you?”

“I wouldn't have it any other way.  I think you should call a meeting of the Order tonight. It will eliminate some questions if we do it in public.”

“Of course.  I shall call it for nine o'clock.”

“I will be bringing a few people along with me.  This Order is yours, Albus.  It always has been.  The DA is mine, and in time it will replace the Order, and the game will go on.”

“Indeed it will, Harry.  But who knows for how long.”

“As you knew then, I know the same thing now.  I know that, if I win, that sometime in the future, I will be in your shoes, and a bright eyed youngster will tell me with certainty that he is the future, and I will know then that my time in charge is over, and I will be feeling the same thing you do.  But where you go back to your beloved school, I will go to my beloved wife, and we shall prepare for the next great adventure together.”

“I have a feeling, Harry, that there will be many years before you are in the position I am.”

“I certainly hope so.  I'm young and I fear growing old, but at the same time, I am aware that it is preferable to the alternative.”

“Indeed it is, Harry.  Indeed it is.  Now, may I ask one further question?”

“Of course.”

“Have you told the inestimable Miss Patil that you have such strong feelings for her?”

“I haven't, and I won't say the words to her.  She knows that I love her, but I will not give her that final commitment till I can promise her everything for the rest of my natural life.  I will tell her when Voldemort lies dead, his dreams of conquest an already fading memory.”

“I wish you both luck.”


“Yes, Harry.”

“I expect you to live through this as well.  Our children are going to need a grandfather, and Padma and I are going to need someone to perform our wedding ceremony.”

“I can honestly say that I have never felt so honoured in my life.”

Harry stood up and offered his hand to the older man.  He pulled him up and hugged him.

Without embarrassment, Harry released the Hogwarts Headmaster and smiled.  “Now if you'll excuse me, I'm close to being late for a date with my girlfriend.”

“Of course, Harry.  Please be so kind as to give her my regards.  And you must stop by for tea again soon.”

“I will.” 

With a jaunty salute, Harry turned on his heel and jogged toward the entrance, leaving behind an old man who suddenly looked many years younger.

Harry entered the school, to find Padma standing with Ron, Luna, Hermione, and Blaise. 

“How did it go?” Padma asked.

Harry smiled slowly.  “The game continues.  A new player comes to the table.”

“Sometimes Harry, you make about as much sense as Luna used to.”

Luna elbowed Ron firmly in the stomach.  “You need to learn to listen to what people don't say, Ronald.  It tells you just as much as what they do.”


Luna sighed.  “Make yourself useful and keep Padma company.  I want to talk to Harry.”

Ron shrugged and offered his arm to the beautiful girl dressed in Muggle clothing. 

“So,” the red haired wizard said to her.  “Do you and Parvati share everything?”

Harry laughed softly, and grinned at Hermione and Blaise.  “We'll follow you down.”

“Okay. Harry, I do expect more details.”

“You wouldn't be Hermione if you didn't.”

She smiled, wrapped her arm around her boyfriend, and guided him away, leaving only the tall dark-haired wizard and the smaller blonde witch to follow.

“What can I do for you, Luna?”

She looked down and started to walk.  “I have to thank you,” she said quietly.

“You don't,” Harry corrected gently.  “I didn't do anything.  Ron already had it inside him; I just helped him see it.”

“Please, Harry.  I know Ron a lot better than that.  If you hadn't said anything, he would have never changed, and I would never have been this happy.  And you are the only person who bothered to look through the exterior and find out who I was. 

“I owe you my life and my happiness.”

“You owe me nothing.  I did what I did because you are a friend, and because Ron is my best friend.  You are what he needs, just as he is what you need.  You both just needed a little hint to see what you could become.”

“You are a great man, Harry.  You will never admit it, but it is true.  You inspire loyalty in those around you; we will follow you through the gates of Hell, and we will stand with you when Voldemort comes soon.”

“How do you know that?”

“I can see the signs as well as you can.  The Thestrals are nervous - the spiders excited.  Change is upon us.  Big change.  And around here, the only big change is the fulfilment of the prophecy.  The others suspect as well, because you have changed too much recently for there to be any doubt.

“When you look in the mirror, what do you see?”

“I see me, Harry James Potter.  I see unruly hair and green eyes.  I see what I have always seen.”

“As you always will.  We see the same thing, Harry.  We see the man that you have become - secure in his power, secure in his ability to reason.  But we also see the imprint of greatness that you cannot.  We see the man who will take the weight of the world on his shoulders, and will do so without complaint and without thought of shirking his duty.  We see a man who we know will do everything he can, and more, to keep us alive.”

“I'm just me, that's all I have ever been.”

“And that is why you are truly great.  You will not stand alone when he comes.  We will be with you.”

“I never doubted that for a second.”

Harry paused, and turned to look at the girl.  He reached out and lightly brushed her hair back from over her eyes.  “You know, Ron's a very lucky man.”

Luna blushed lightly.  “Come on, we're falling behind.  I bet I can run faster than you.”


“If I can outrun the limping Roo tree of Nigeria, I can outrun you.”

Harry shook his head, waited for a second, and watched as Luna bounced down the road towards Hogsmeade, before he took after her.  His long legs soon closing the distance, but he kept behind her.  Winning wasn't everything.  It never was.

“I won!” Luna shouted, jumping straight into Ron's arms.

“Well done,” Ron cheered, spinning around with her.

“Bad luck,” Padma said with a soft smile.  She leaned up and kissed the corner of his mouth.

“So, where to, first?” Harry asked, looking around.

“Why don't we separate for an hour, and then meet for lunch?” Hermione said.

“And then we can spend the afternoon together without interruptions,” Blaise finished.

“You do know that it's bad when you complete each other’s thoughts, right?” Ron asked.

“Oh shush,” Hermione said with a smile.  “We'll see you in an hour.”

“Come on, Ronald.  I want to look at the pet shop.  They might have an Esquilax.”

“A what?” Ron asked, as they walked off together.

“So, I have you to myself for an hour?”

“You do,” Harry agreed.  “What do you want to do first? I'm at your beck and call.”

“First, I want a proper kiss.  It seems like it has been forever since we've had one of those.”

Harry smiled and pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her waist.  He leant down and tenderly touched his lips to hers, hardly using any pressure.

Padma slid her arms up around him.  It was almost formalised how they would start a kiss, but neither would change it.  She loved being held so close and so strong by him, and he loved the trust she gave him as she allowed him to hold her upright.

Her mouth opened lazily against his, as she tilted her head a little and deepened the kiss.  Her tongue slid into his mouth, as they both gave into the feelings that the kiss invoked.

“Thank you,” she whispered as they finally broke the kiss.

“You never have to thank me for kissing you; it's something I want to do for a very long time.”

“That sounds nice.  Is there anything you want to do?”

“Not really, I just want to spend time with you.”

“Me too.  Why don't we go to the Three Broomsticks and grab a table.  We can wait for the others.”

“Okay.”  He wrapped his arm around her waist, holding her close, as they walked down the street.

They entered the pub and blinked for a second, as their eyes got accustomed to the dim light inside.  It was as full as normal, with a lot of the younger kids sitting around eagerly sipping from tankards of Butterbeer.

“Padma!” a cheery voice called, as a beautiful girl, her long hair tied back, bounced over to them. 

“Hey, Parvati.”

“Hi, Harry,” she continued.  “You know my boyfriend, Draco?”

“We've met a time or two,” Harry said dryly.

“I need to use the bathroom,” Parvati announced.  “Come with?” she asked her sister.

Padma shot a look at Harry, and at his nod she walked off with her sister.

She was a little uncomfortable seeing the smirk on Draco's face and she decided to make this as quick as possible.

“No one else for you to date, so you're dating Draco?”

“You're dating someone rich, good looking, and powerful, and enjoying it, so I thought I'd try it as well.  There aren't many people who can successfully stand up to your boyfriend in the school.”

Padma blinked.  “When has Draco successfully stood up to Harry?”

“He beat Harry in a duel a few weeks ago.”

“Who told you that?”

“Draco did.”

Padma laughed softly and shook her head.  “And you believed him?”


“Draco's never beaten Harry at anything.”

“You're just jealous that I've got someone like you have.  And I bet he's better than Harry is in bed, as well.”

“I wouldn't know,” Padma sighed, shaking her head as she looked at her twin.  “We're very different people, aren't we?”

“What do you mean, you don't know?”

“Harry and I are taking things slowly.  Neither of us want to rush into something that we're not ready for.”

“But what about the whole Dark Lord thing?”

“If Harry dies in that, I will die as well, and we'll be together in our next great adventure.”


“I've never judged you, Parv.  I've always been with you, supported you, and been friends with you.  That will never change.  You're my sister, my twin, but I think you're making a mistake with Draco.  He's a small-minded, petty, arrogant little twerp with delusions of grandeur, and more than a little support for Voldemort.”

“He's spying for Dumbledore, he told me.”

Padma laughed softly and shook her head again. 

“No, he's not.  Albus would have told Harry.”


“I'm Harry's girlfriend,” Padma said simply.  “Albus and Harry have an incredible relationship, and I'm now part of it.  Harry will be the leader when Voldemort attacks, Dumbledore knows that, and he tells Harry everything.”

“No, Draco wouldn't lie to me.”

“And I would?”

“No,” Parvati sighed.  “But you're possibly mistaken.”  She paused.  “Why don't you tie your hair back anymore?”

“Harry likes it loose,” Padma replied, accepting the conversation change.  “And I like him playing with it.”

“Don't you think it's a bad thing that you've changed so much for him?”

“With him, Parv; there's a difference.”


“The changes I have made to myself have been made for me.  So I can have what I want, not for Harry.  I'm a better dueller now; I can stand with my new friends with confidence, secure that I can look after myself.  I've met creatures from my nightmares that I would have never been able to see, before.  Harry has given me the space and opportunity to become what I want.”

“Well, what about your clothes?”

“You mean, why aren't I hiding that I'm pretty anymore?”

“Well, yeah.  You always said that a boy should love you for your mind, not for how pretty we are.”

“I was younger then,” Padma said with a smile.  “As I told Harry, there is nothing wrong with using any natural advantage we have.  And I know that he loves me for my mind as much as for my body.”

“Our body,” Parvati corrected.

Padma shook her head softly, “Harry doesn't see us as being identical, Parv.  It's to do with his power and who he is, but he sees us as being completely different.”

“No way,” Parvati disagreed.

“Come on,” Padma said, “Let's go back to the boys, and hope that Harry hasn't killed Draco.”

“Draco can handle himself.”

“Last time they met, Harry knocked out Crabbe and Goyle in a few seconds, then broke Draco's jaw in several places.  We were going to leave them naked, but we ended up kissing and forgot.”

Parvati just frowned.

They walked back into the bar, and Padma reached out and grabbed her sister, stopping them so they could listen.

“Okay, I'll regret asking this, but why are you smirking at me?” Harry asked Draco, breaking a long silence.

“Doesn't it drive you mad?”


“That I know what your girlfriend looks like naked.”

“No, you don't.”

“Oh I do, and Parvati's a right little tart in bed.  Really up for it.”

Harry sighed.  “You've seen Parvati naked, you've not seen Padma.”

“They're identical twins.”

“You really are a sick, twisted, little boy, Malfoy.  You don't even see that they are different people, do you?  You see what's on the surface, and think that's all there is.  Padma and Parvati are different people.  I suppose to people like you they look the same, but when you look at people like I do, they're as different as east and west. 

“I pity you, in a way; you're locked in a small, petty mindset that you will never break out of.  You have delusions of grandeur you can never live up to, and you will never be happy with your life.  There will always be something or somebody that you think has more than you.

“You had everything growing up, and a real chance to make something of yourself, but you fail at everything you do, even at serving Voldemort.  You even date a nice girl, just because she looks like my girlfriend to try and enact some sort of revenge at me. 

“I really can't think what would be a worse punishment for you; killing you or allowing you to live your pathetic little life.

“Run away, Draco.  Run away now, from Hogwarts - go to Voldemort.  Tell him I sent you.  Tell him that you're no longer welcome at Hogwarts.  Tell him you failed.”

Draco paled dramatically.  “What?”

“I told you to go to Voldemort.  Did you really think I wouldn't notice the Dark Mark on your arm?  Did you think I wouldn't know the very second you entered his service?  Go, now.”

“You can't do this,” Draco replied.

“I can, and I have.”

Draco pulled out his wand, pointing it straight at Harry.  The rest of the room took a deep breath.  Although six other wands trained themselves at Draco, no one interfered.

Harry didn't move, didn't change expression.

Draco suddenly fell to his knees, groaning and clutching his arm.

“Light pierces darkness,” Harry said softly.  “It illuminates what is hidden, it makes the dark vanish.  You're feeling the power of Light against the power of Voldemort’s dark.

“You could have come to me many times over the past few years, and I would have helped you, even after everything you've done and tried to do to me.  But you chose to kneel before the evil that is Voldemort.  You chose to allow him to brand you, in the hope that you will gain favour in the future.  You joined him of your own free will, and I can never accept or forgive that.”

Harry reached out and picked up Draco's wand.  With a contemptuous flick of his hands, he snapped it in two, the sound reverberating around the silent pub.

“Run, Draco.  Because the next time I see you, I will kill you.  You've rolled your final dice, and made your final choice.”

Draco stumbled to his feet, clutching his arm.  “You'll pay,” he snarled.  “You'll pa...”

His words were interrupted as Parvati took a step forward and punched him as hard as she could. 

“I trusted you!” she cried, tears dripping down her face.  “You lied to me! You used me!”  She took a deep breath and then kicked him between the legs.  “And you were absolutely shit in bed!”

Everyone went still as an electric feeling of magic swept through the room.  As one, they turned to the source.  Harry was standing still, a faint glow emanating from him.  His lips moved endlessly, but no sound came out.  The power continued to grow, till some of the younger students had to look away.

“Go,” Harry said softly to Draco, who instantly vanished.

The power level in the room dropped to normal.

“Could I have a drink, please?” Harry asked Madam Rosemerta.

She nodded, and with shaky hands poured a shot of firewhiskey and drowned it quickly.  Only after the steam had poured out of her ears, did she pour him a glass of Butterbeer.

“Where did you send him?” Hermione asked, breaking the unnatural silence.

“Malfoy Manor.”

Hermione nodded and looked around the pub. 

“The show is over,” she said.  “I suggest you continue with your day.”

The younger students nodded, and the volume level picked up again.

“Is there any chance we can use the function room?” Harry asked.  “I don't really want to be interrupted this afternoon.”

“I think, Harry,” Madam Rosemerta said slowly, “that you can do what ever you want.”

“Thanks,” Harry said and walked to the side of the bar, opening the door and ushering his friends in.

“Harry,” Parvati called.  She walked over to him and hugged him tightly.  “I'm really sorry, I don't know what I was thinking.  Wait, yes, I do.  I was jealous of Padma, and I wanted something similar, and he seemed to be it.”

“It's okay.  We all make mistakes, even me.  None of us are perfect.”

Parvati nodded and walked over to her sister.  “I'm sorry, Padma.”

“You're forgiven, sis.”

“You're incredibly lucky, sis.  Don't let him go.”

“I have no intention of doing that, ever.”

“I'll be with you, when Voldemort comes.  I'm not losing my sister and future brother-in-law.

“I'll see you later, okay?”

“Okay, Parv.”

Parvati walked out of the pub, her head held high.

“I think that she won't make those mistakes again,” Padma said with a slight smile on her face.  “Sometimes growing up has to be painful, but at least all that's damaged is her pride.”

Harry nodded and ushered her into the room, looking around.  “Ginny,” he called.  “Why don't you join us?”

“Thanks,” she grinned as she left the group of girls she was sitting with.

Harry walked into the room last, shutting the door behind him.  He moved to the front of the table, and looked down.  Six of his friends sat, three down each side.

“Welcome to the inaugural meeting of the Order of the Phoenix,” he said simply.

“But the Order already exists.” Hermione managed to beat the rest of them by half a second.

Harry nodded slowly.  “I know, but this is different.  Every time the Light battles the dark, the leader pulls together the people he trusts the most, and he makes them into his Order.  Albus did the same when he was ready to face Grindelwald.  I am doing it now.  My successor will do it in the future.

“You are the people I trust most, the people I am closest to, the people who I know without doubt will stand beside me as we face Voldemort.  We are the people charged with keeping the world safe from Voldemort, and we are the people who will succeed or die trying.”

“You won't mind if I hope for the ‘succeed’ part, right?” Ron asked.

Harry laughed.  “I'm rather partial to that idea myself.”

“Why now?” Hermione asked.

“Because the time is drawing near.  You can all feel it, that sense of incompleteness inside you, the restlessness, the feeling that what you are doing doesn't really matter.”

“Oh thank god,” Hermione said, relaxing back into her chair.


She smiled, “I thought I was losing interest in school work.  It's just Voldemort coming.”

Harry blinked repeatedly, and then burst out into laughter.  A laughter that the rest of the table joined in on.

Blaise stood and walked around the table, and pulled his girlfriend into a hug. 

“Don't ever change, sweetheart,” he said simply.

He regained his seat and looked at Harry.  “Actually, I'm kinda surprised to be here,” he said.

Harry grinned at him.  “I figured that if I'm going to be Best Man at your wedding, we should probably be closer friends.”

“What wedding?”

“Yours and Hermione's.”

He shook his head, as if trying to clear it.  “But I haven't asked her yet.”

Harry smirked.  “I know.”

“That's enough, Harry,” Hermione interrupted.  She looked across the table.  “I'm going to say ‘yes’, but in order to make sure that our hero over there doesn't end up killing half of your friends, my ‘yes’ comes with the proviso that he gets to be Best Man.”

Blaise slowly smiled.  “You know, having Harry as Best Man would do wonders for my career.”

“Typical Slytherin,” Ron grinned.  “Always looking for a way to gain out of a situation.”

“I'm going to need a groomsman as well,” Blaise replied with a smile.

“Like I said,” Ron replied.  “Untypical Slytherin.  He’s a good man Hermione.”

Hermione groaned.  “Untypical?  Can you butcher the language any more?”

“If he really tried,” Ginny said dryly.

“But for the sake of our ears, Luna, could you please make sure he doesn't?”

“Of course,” Luna replied, leaning over and whispering in his ear.

“I say,” Ron said, his ears blushing.  “I promise that nothing but lucid, eloquent perfection shall pass these lips.”

Accio Thesaurus,” Harry said dryly.

“Okay,” Padma said, as the laughter died.  “What next?”

“First,” Harry said.  “Do you accept?  Do you agree to join the Order, with me as the leader?  Hermione?”

Hermione smiled.  “I knew from the start that you were destined for greatness.  I will be beside you now, as I have every other time.”

Ron spoke up next, out of turn, “And I will be there as well, Harry.  When the three of us work together, we will not fail.  We never have, and we never will.”


“I sat on the fence for many years,” he said, a thoughtful expression on his face.  “I watched the two main factions in our year clash time and time again, and I watched you win most, until this year. 

“You grew up, Harry.  Suddenly, it was like watching a two year old try to attack an Unspeakable.  Your ability grew in leaps and bounds.  I decided to join the D.A. then, because I felt that you were going to be the winner. 

“As I got to know you, and to know Hermione, I realised just how special you are.  Just how much of a leader you are.  You've had my friendship for some time; I now pledge my life and loyalty to you.”

Harry bowed solemnly to him.  “Luna?”

“I joined you earlier,” she said simply.  “I've known.  I've always known.  I owe you more than I can repay in this lifetime.  I pledge my life and loyalty to you.”


Ginny smiled sadly.  “I've watched you for so many years, Harry.  You've been a special part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I will never forget that you risked your life to save mine, even after I embarrassed you.

“I always thought that we would be together and wanted it more than anything, especially after you grew into the person you are now.

“I've accepted it's not to be.  Seeing you so happy with Padma was the final thing I needed to be able to close that chapter in my life, and start to look at moving on. 

“You saved my life Harry.  Everything I do for the rest of my life is with thanks to you.  I pledge my life and loyalty to you.”


“Do you really have to ask?” she said gently.  She stood and walked around the table, and pulled Ginny into a hug.  “Thank you,” she whispered softly.

“Thank you,” Ginny whispered back.  “For understanding and allowing me to remain friends with Harry.”

Padma returned to her seat.  “I pledge my life, my loyalty,” she paused, and suddenly shot him a grin, “and my body to you.”

Harry blushed furiously, while everyone else laughed loudly.

“Okay,” Harry said, waving his hands at them to stop.

“Wait, Harry,” Ron interrupted.  “I've been jealous of you, have even turned on you once, and was too stupid to see how bad my actions were, but you've always been my friend.  And you were the only person to stop me from making the biggest mistake of my life.”  He looked at Luna, smiling softly for a second.  “I pledge my life and loyalty to you.”

“My turn again,” Hermione said.  “My boyfriend does have a lovely way with words.  It's one of the things I love about him the most.  Harry, I pledge my life and loyalty to you,” she said formally, using what had become a pledge between them.

Harry stood there, a visible sheen in his eyes.  “Thank you,” he said to everyone.  He looked around the table.  “I, Harry James Potter, hereby pledge my life and loyalty to each of you and to your families.  I will always be available to all of you, and will do what ever is needed for you.

“You are true friends, you are my family, and I will never forget that.”

He took a deep breath, “Okay, let's get on with business.

“Tonight, Albus is going to formally hand over leadership to me.  It's not going to be easy, but we're all going to be there.  Ron, Ginny, you're going to face your parents and your family.  It might not be pleasant, but you are my people now.  You answer to me first and foremost.”

The meeting lasted for most of the day, as they ironed out the details.

Four weeks later

Harry looked around; next to him was his Order of the Phoenix.  The members of Albus' were next to them.  Most of the previous group had joined him instantly, each recognising that it was the natural order of things.  A couple had chosen to retire instead, something Harry had been more than willing to accept.  None of his originals would ever work for anyone else; he knew that with absolute certainty.  Remus had been the first to join him, closely followed by Tonks.

Arthur and Molly Weasley had been the last to join, and almost reluctant to see their children so deeply involved in the new Order.

Behind them were the Aurors and D.A. students.  Behind them was everyone else they could get hold of.

He walked forwards alone to meet at the centre of the two armies.  In front of him was Voldemort and the Death Eaters. 

“Morning, Tom,” Harry said with a smile.  “Good of you to drop by; I was getting a little worried that you might be late.”

“Don't call me that, arrogant boy.”

Harry smiled casually and sat down on the grass.  “Take a seat,” he offered.

Voldemort merely growled.

“If you surrender now, I will let your followers go,” he hissed.  A Sonorous spell made sure that everyone heard the conversation.

“I'm afraid I can't offer the same to you,” Harry said regretfully.  “All your followers will be tried as criminals after your death.  Those that are still alive, obviously.”

“How dare you, you impertinent child!” Voldemort snarled.

“You don't get it, do you?” Harry asked.

“Get what?”

“That I've already won.”


“Despite everything you've done, despite everything you've tried, I'm happy.  I've got a life I really enjoy, and you haven't been able to take that away from me.”

“Meaningless nonsense,” Voldemort snarled.

“I'm not afraid of you.  None of my people are afraid of you anymore.  Everyone here knows that you are Tom Marvolo Riddle, half-blood orphan.”  His voice echoed out across the Death Eaters.

“Don't call me that,” Voldemort demanded.  His wand appeared in his hand, pointing at Harry.

“Go ahead,” Harry offered.

Crucio,” Voldemort growled.

“Well, that was successful,” Harry noted.  “Ouch.  Ow.  Please stop.”

“What is happening?”

“It's not time yet; our meeting here was pre-ordained.  Can't you feel it?”

“Feel what?”

Harry shook his head.  “The game of eternity is before you, and you can't even see the pieces.  You failed, Tom.  The only way you could beat me would have been to take away the thing I have that you don't.  Love.  You failed.  You never took the time to understand that I am only as strong as the people whose shoulders I am standing on.  You are surrounded by Pygmies.  Snivelling toadies who follow your every word - who you torture if they dare show signs of independent thought.

“I am standing on the shoulders of giants, people who follow me through love, through trust, through faith.  People I will not let down.”

“Powerless children,” Voldemort interrupted.

“I would take them over every single one of your Death Eaters.  I would die for them, and I know they would die for me.  Show me a single one of your Death Eaters who will do the same for you, or for whom you would do the same for them.”

Voldemort paused.

“Just one.  Show me one person you care enough about to die for.”

“This is pointless,” Voldemort growled.

“No, it's not.  It took me a long time to realise this - that I'm not alone, that the choices I make, and the people I make friends with are the people who really count.  You are alone - I am surrounded by friends.”

Harry climbed to his feet and bowed to Voldemort.  “It is time,” he said simply. 

“Attack!” Ron shouted, his voice reaching everyone.  As one, they launched an attack against the Death Eaters, catching many unprepared.

Harry smiled as he started to fight.  He threw a few fireballs at Voldemort.  His wand was by his bed, there would be no Priori Incantatem; this would be a fight to the death.

He ignored the fights going on around him; his friends would take care of that, and he trusted them completely to do their job.

“Join me,” Voldemort offered after ten minutes of solid duelling, as he dodged a curse.  “We can rule for eternity together.”

“Don't you see, Tom,” Harry replied, throwing a few more curses.  “You've already lost.  If you're resorting to that old cliché, it means that you don't think you can win, so you're trying to subvert me.  It won't work.  It will never work.  You are standing in my way; you are stopping me from having the life I want to have.”

Voldemort growled and launched a blistering array of curses at Harry.  He tried to stop them but some of them got through, spinning him around.  Harry spat some blood out of his mouth onto the green grass, and he threw his hands forward, sending a couple of bolts of pure light directly at Voldemort.  The Dark Lord managed to block the first, but the second caught him in the stomach, sending him catapulting through the air. 

Harry chased after him, breathing hard, each step causing a sharp pain in his chest, as he discovered the damage the curses had done to him.

On his knees, Voldemort raised his hands in a gesture of supplication.

For a split second, Harry paused, confused.

Petrificus Totalus,” Draco Malfoy snarled, a new wand in his hand, appearing behind Harry.

Voldemort got to his feet.  “Never underestimate the power of hate as a motivator,” he sneered.  “You will be rewarded for this,” he told Draco.

Draco smiled broadly. 

“Now,” Voldemort said, “You must die.”

Harry started to shake, as he tried to break Draco's spell.  Normally it would have been easy, but the long duel had taken so much of his power.

“Avada Kedav...”

“No!” Padma screamed, launching herself in front of Voldemort.  She twisted in mid air, her foot flying out, knocking Voldemort's wand-hand to one side.  The green curse impacted hard into the ground.

Ron dived straight into Draco, and forgoing Magic, he started to punch him in the face, as years of torment were paid back.

Hermione cast a stunning spell at her own opponent, and turned, kicking hard into Voldemort's wrist, dislodging his wand.  The phoenix core wand flew into the air, twisting.

Accio Voldemort's wand,” Blaise shouted.

Rictusempra,” Luna cried, her wand pointing straight at Voldemort.  As the Dark Lord started to laugh, Blaise ran towards Harry, ignoring the curses that were flying around him.

Harry finally broke through the spell, and collapsed.  Ginny appeared next to him, lifting him up, supporting him.

“Here,” Blaise said, throwing the wand the last few feet.

Harry caught it, and turned to Voldemort.  “Avada Kedavra!” he yelled, pouring all his hatred, all his magic, all his fear and despair into the spell.

There was a sudden silence across the field.  An eerie pause, as everyone stopped.

Voldemort, his face locked in a smile from the tickling curse, stood stock-still, before he crumpled to the ground, dead.

As one, the Death Eaters screamed, each grabbing their left arm, as the magic that connected them to Voldemort vanished.

A huge volley of stunning charms went out, knocking them out.

Harry collapsed, exhausted.  Ginny, with Blaise's help, lowered him to the ground.

He turned and looked at Voldemort's body, and started to crawl towards it.

“Here,” Blaise said, lifting him.  Ginny took the other side, helping him up.  Padma, Ron, Luna, and Hermione walked over to Voldemort's body, meeting Harry there.

Around them, everyone else who had fought, and who wasn't currently dealing with the stunned Death Eaters joined them.

Harry looked down at the snake-like body before him and bent down, placing Voldemort's wand on his chest.

He stepped back and looked at his friends.  “Incinerate the bastard,” he ordered.

Ron, Luna, Ginny, Hermione, Blaise, and Padma pointed their wands at Voldemort.  As one, they said, “Incendio.”

There was a sudden burst of green flame from Voldemort that rose high into the sky, and lasted for a minute.  When it was done, all that was left was a burnt patch of grass.

Harry nodded, and coughed, blood splattering out of his mouth.

“Did anyone see Wormtail?” Harry demanded.

“I got him,” Remus announced. 

Harry smiled slightly, “Thanks Wolfie.”

Remus groaned at the nickname.

“What are you going to do with Draco?” Ron asked.

Harry, now being held up by Padma, walked towards the blond Slytherin.  Draco's face was coated in blood. 

“He looks a little tenderised,” Harry said with a soft laugh.  “Feel good?” he asked as he turned to look at Ron.

“Oh yeah,” Ron said, his arm tightly around Luna.  “Almost as good as seeing my girlfriend cast a tickling charm on Voldemort.”

“Don't make me laugh,” Harry begged.  “Breathing hurts at the moment.”

“We need to get you to the nurse,” Hermione said.

“In a minute,” Harry agreed.  “Wake him.”

Ginny casually walked up and kicked Draco hard in the stomach.

“I meant magically,” Harry clarified his request.

“Oh,” Ginny replied.  “Whoops.”

“Can you heal him?” Harry asked Padma.

She nodded, and cast a few spells at the fallen boy, the last one waking him.

Draco looked around and went white.

“I warned you what would happen,” Harry said in a low voice.  It echoed around the field, so that everyone could hear it.  It was implacable.

“No,” Draco dropped to his knees.  “Don't kill me.”

“I'm not going to kill you,” Harry continued.  “I told you that I couldn't decide what the worst punishment for you would be.  I've decided now.”

Harry closed his eyes and pointed at Draco.  The blond Slytherin looked confused, and then began to smirk. 

Harry cancelled the spell with a weary movement of his hand.  He dropped to his knees.  “Give him his wand.”

Hermione moved, handing Draco his new wand without hesitation.

Draco smirked even more and pointed his wand at Harry.  “I can't believe you'd be so stupid.”

Harry smiled slowly.  “Look at Hogwarts, Draco.”


“Just turn around and look behind you.”

Draco turned.  “Where's it gone?” he demanded.

“You can't see it,” Harry said, as he got to his feet, a smile appearing on his face.  “Good luck with the rest of your life, ferret.”

“What have you done to me?”

“Made you into what you hate most,” Harry answered, turning his back on Draco dismissively.  “A Muggle.” 

“You can’t do this to me,” Draco yelled.  “Don’t you know who I am – I’m a Malfoy.  I’ll get you for…”

Harry waved his hand, and the boy vanished, never to be seen again.

There was another strange silence as everyone looked at him. 

“I don't kill unless I have to,” he explained simply.  “And yes, I did use his magic to heal myself.  I really didn't fancy another stay in the Hospital Wing.

“Harry?” Ron asked.


“Don't take this the wrong way, but I love you.  That was bloody brilliant.”

There was another second’s pause, before people began to laugh, the tension broken.

Harry grinned and met each of his Order's eyes.  There were no words needed, not now.

As he reached Padma last, he lost his smile.

“Padma, you said something to me in the Ravenclaw Common Room some time ago.”

“Oh?” she said, a small smile appearing on her face.

Harry dropped down one to one knee in front of her. 

“Padma Patil, I love you,” he said clearly, his voice once more echoing around the battlefield.  “Will you marry me?”

She squealed in joy, and then jumped on him, pushing him to the ground and kissing him firmly.

“I think that was a yes,” Parvati announced with a grin. 

“Damn right it was,” Padma agreed, breaking the kiss.  She stood and pulled Harry up.

“Let's go back to Hogwarts.”

Harry and Padma turned to walk, a path appearing through the crowd of Order members, Aurors, DA members, and everyone else.  Some saluted as they passed, others mouthed messages of good luck.

Behind them, Ron and Blaise started to argue over who was going to be Best Man, while Ginny, Luna, and Hermione, with Parvati joining them, started to plan the wedding.

At the end of the path, Minerva stood waiting.  She walked forwards and embraced both Harry and Padma.  She no longer cared about showing her affection for the two of them.  No one would ever question it, not now.

She released them, a suspicious gleam in her eyes.

Finally, Harry faced Albus Dumbledore, his mentor for so many years.

Dumbledore smiled, his blue eyes twinkling.  “I believe,” he said slowly, “That there is one thing you have forgotten.”

Harry laughed softly and nodded.  He turned, and grinned facing the large crowd; he kept his arm around Padma, and looked around slowly. 

“Voldemort is dead,” he shouted.  “And you know what that means?”

“That we get an ‘O’ in our Defence class?” Ron shouted back.

Harry laughed.  “No, it means that we won and that if you think they celebrated fifteen years ago, wait till you see the party we're going to have tonight.  I want all of you to go home, put on your best robes, and get back here, because tonight is going to be the biggest party ever seen!”

The cheer started somewhere near the back, and soon went through the entire crowd but it faded in Harry's ears as he looked into the eyes of his fiancée and kissed her. 

“Let's get to our rooms,” he said softly, breaking the kiss.

Padma smiled, “And just think, now that you've defeated Voldemort, you can do something really scary.”

“What's that?”

“Meet my parents.”

Harry's groan echoed around the field, as his friends burst into laughter one more time.

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Author Notes:

Well, here we are at the end of my "Object Lesson" trilogy - named by the wonderful [info]elsielann, and it is a better name than the boring trilogy *grin*

Thanks to [info]ohginnyfan, [info]pixiellie, [info]c_cliodne, [info]elsielann, and Rachel for the pre/betaing, and the good suggestions.

You know the drill by now - read carefully or you'll get lost in places.

One of my motivations for writing this was to explore the changes that could happen to Harry if he was dating a Ravenclaw, and to show the sometimes the best match for a Gryffindor is a Ravenclaw (of course, I'm biased having married a Ravenclaw *grins*)

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