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This Means War
10c - Werewolves, Goblins and Dragons, Oh My! (Part 3 of 3)
Cc: Severus, Pomona, Filius
Subject: What did we just do?
Did we do the right thing? Or were we just caught up for a moment in a single vision?
To: Senior Faculty
Subject: Re: What did we just do?
I think that we just signed up for possibly the most important thing since Godric, Rowena, Helga and Salazar got together one morning and said, “Hey, here’s an idea, let’s open a school.”
I don’t know where it’s going, and I don’t know where it’s going to end, but I can recognise when someone has had an epiphany.
And the very fact that said epiphany was a lesson taught by an animal we consider to be, well, dumb, drags home his point.
To: Other members of Team Hogwarts
Subject: Re: What did we just do?
Fil is right. When we had the dragons here for the First Task, I didn’t think of using Legilimency on them, even though I tend to use it all the time. Why? Because they are mindless beasts, right?
And how prevalent is my attitude? Pretty much global.
I’ve often wondered if one of the reasons I was open to joining the Dark Tosser was because of a subconscious desire for change to occur.
Well, this time I’ve hitched my wagon to another charismatic leader, but this time there is no mark that says I am his, no dark magic; instead it is something far more insidious. I willingly offered him my very soul.
Sev – who is going to bugger off to bed, as he has a Quidditch match tomorrow – so hurry with your opinions, Albus, Pommie.
Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years
To: Sleepy Sev + others
Subject: My opinion
There was magic in that room, deep, personal magic, the sort of magic that is only barely mentioned in fairy tales.
I want part of it, I want more than that; I want in on it, and I want to experience it.
It’s that simple, really.
P – over to you, Albus
From: Hogwarts Headmaster
To: Fellow followers
Subject: This evening
For a very long time, I have been the most powerful magic user in the world. I’m not boasting; it’s a simple fact.
But then Voldemort returned, and I was then one of two. And then Harry grew up, and I am now one of three.
And I look back at my many years, at the way I have used my power, and I am ashamed. I grew up in the same world as the rest of you, and I never questioned what is normal, I never really looked behind the surface. I defeated a Dark Lord, and was somewhat responsible for the emergence of the next, due to my inactions.
I have nightmares about the experiences Harry had with the Dursleys, turning him dark.
But tonight -- tonight, Harry offered me redemption. He offered a vision so wide and so pure that it left me breathless. He showed me a way I can make a lasting difference, not just by defeating Voldemort, but by making sure that there can never be another single human who tries to take control at the expense of everyone else.
He offered me immortality.
And I believe that everyone in the room looked upon their lives and their achievements, and felt the same sense of lacking that I did.
But we didn’t join him, as much as we joined his idea, and the power of an idea is greater than all the magic in the world.
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards
Cc: Minerva, Pomona, Filius
Subject: Re: This Evening
Never forget, Albus, that although you might have made mistakes, on the eternal scales of justice, your actions put you heavily on the correct side.
Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years
To: Bill (and Fleur)
Subject: Our apology to Harry
Gonna need your help to do this, but Bill, I’ve got it. I had a chat with Crenth, and he told me that he’d get us some fresh Dragon Scale – not the molted stuff, but top of the line, still fresh Scale!
We can make him an absolute kick-ass outfit out of them, which will help him against Voldemort!
To: Affianced, Charlie and Tonks
Subject: Over! use! of! exclamation! marks!
Sounds like a good idea. Fleur and I have some charms that’ll help with the magical protection.
We’ll need to work fast though, as he’ll need them soon.
Now get to sleep!
We have a Quidditch Match to win tomorrow!
B – who can use ‘em as well.
The day of the Quidditch match was another glorious day in the long Indian summer Hogwarts had been enjoying.
There was not a cloud in the sky, and a gentle breeze kept the temperature down.
Outside, people had already started to gather for the amateur Quidditch match. Ministry Officials and minor celebrities jostled for space near the reporters, as Filius, Minerva, Pomona and Albus worked to reinforce the stands.
Harry watched them with a slight smile from his balcony.
“It seems so long ago,” Ginny said, “that all this started.”
“It was a different life, Gin. One I’m happy is behind me. And I’ll be so much happier when all of this is over, and I can be a teenager for a little longer.”
Ginny laughed softly. “Me, too. Perhaps then you’ll stop falling asleep on me,” she teased.
“And who was it that fell asleep on me the other night?” Harry demanded.
Ginny waved her hand airily. “We’re talking about your faults, not mine.”
“Ohhhhh,” Harry replied. “In that case, fair maiden, I do beg of thee, forgive my incomprehensible inattention.”
“That’s more like it,” Ginny replied, before giggling. “Ready for the match?”
“Absolutely! I can’t wait to play again. It’s been forever since my last match.”
“Are you going to let me know the team yet?” Ginny asked.
“I didn’t realise I hadn’t. It’s…”
There was a knock on the door, which opened, and their friends trooped in.
“Your timing is almost as bad as my mother’s,” Ginny groused.
“Sorry,” Blaise said perkily and completely insincerely, “but when you didn’t come down for breakfast, we figured you’d be here and decided to join you. Dobby will be bringing food in a few minutes.”
“Take a seat,” Harry said, “and watch the fun. It’s basically just journalists and people who want their views known at the moment.”
“Harry, Aunt Amelia said that she’d be here an hour before the match starts, and that she’s coming mob-handed.”
“Excellent. I just hope that Voldemort doesn’t decide to attack, anyway. I’ve got a few too many eggs in the non-attacking basket for me to be truly comfortable.”
“Do you think he might?”
“Only if he’s an absolute idiot or if he doesn’t trust the information I’ve placed.”
“Are you going to tell us how you’ve placed it?” Blaise asked.
Blaise pouted. “That’s a bloody Slytherin response, Potter.”
“I know,” Harry grinned. He paused as Dobby arrived, bearing steaming plates of food; he put the largest plate in front of Harry.
“Harry Potter needs to be keeping his energy up,” Dobby said. “Some elves were being listening to Harry Potter sir last night, and theys is starting to think that maybe Dobby is being right.”
“Good,” Harry said, surprised.
“Dobby always says that Harry Potter sir is a great and powerful wizard,” Dobby said before popping out.
“You’re going to have to help me with the Snorkacks,” Luna said as she started to eat. “If anyone can find them, it will be you.”
“Do you think so?” Harry asked.
Luna nodded eagerly. “They like males with dark hair and green eyes.”
“So do I,” Ginny murmured.
“You know, that could make a fun holiday,” Harry said. “We all get a couple of those Wizarding tents and have a holiday traipsing around Europe looking for them.”
“That sounds fun,” Padma agreed.
“Yeah,” Parvati added. “It’s hardly roughing it with the right tent.”
“So, a way to spend the summer?” Lavender asked.
“If Voldemort is dead, none of our parents will mind,” Blaise predicted.
“Then it’s agreed. I’ll tell Ron and Hermione later.” Ginny smiled at Luna. “Happy?”
Luna nodded hard, causing her wand to fall from its perch on her ear. “Extremely.”
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to this special match at Hogwarts. I’m Lee Jordan, your host for this afternoon’s entertainment. Next to me, as always, is the lovely Professor McGonagall, and for once, she won’t be shouting at me for biased commenting against the Slytherins, as they’re not playing.
“They are, of course, represented in the person of Professor Severus Snape. Professor Snape was a Chaser back in his day, and helped Slytherin house to several noticeable victories against the other teams, including the Gryffindor team that two of his cohorts in today’s match played on. As Beaters, we have Remus Lupin, the best Defence professor we’ve ever had, and Sirius Black, who has recovered from his long incarceration at Azkaban. As for the other names, we know that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley are playing, but not who the other Chaser or Keeper are.
“Switching to the other team, we have, Weasley, Weasley, Weasley, Weasley, Weasley, and Weasley!”
“Sorry, Professor,” Lee replied, “but I just couldn’t resist. Seriously, we have the six Weasley boys, and the beautiful Alicia Spinnet. I’ll go through their positions later, but I think it is time for a bit of background.
“For those that aren’t aware, Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter started dating, and a cuter couple you’re unlikely to find this side of the Atlantic.
“The Weasley boys, ignoring the fact that Harry Potter is, to quote a few female friends of mine, ‘hot, loaded, with a body to die for, and honourable to boot,’ decided that they didn’t approve of anyone dating their little sister. They also managed to ignore the fact that their ‘little’ sister is big enough and powerful enough to look after herself.
“So, to put Harry off, they played a prank on him. Sadly, the only effect that prank had was to raise the oestrogen levels in the Great Hall, and, coincidentally, irritate Harry.
“Now, when Harry gets irritated, things start to happen. He freed his godfather, the infamous Sirius Black, and rescued Severus Snape from the clutches of the Dark Tosser himself.
“It was only then did he turn his attention back to the Weasleys. One prank later, which, by the way, was filmed from start to finish – prints are available from the Hogwarts Press Office and all proceeds go to St Mungo’s – he managed to get them into a display of an old Muggle disco classic. He followed this up by presenting this match as a way to end the pranking.
“The end of the pranking is something that we’re all grateful for. Hogwarts has suffered under the yoke of some great pranksters and, as I can testify from personal experience, not being able to eat breakfast for fear of turning into some form of animal is not always fun.
“I did a straw poll of Hogwarts students, and they are all backing Harry against the Weasleys, who, luckily, have now grown up and the sting has been taken out of this match. So, what does that leave us with?
“Well, Team Weasley, along with Alicia, is a very skilled unit. Often called the first family of Quidditch, they have an extremely distinguished school career before them, with both Bill and Charlie being offered professional contracts – although candour does force me to admit that Bill’s offer was for a reserve position. Sadly for the sport in general, their love of Egypt, in Bill’s case, and dragons, in Charlie’s, meant that they turned them down.
“Percy, the next in age, is the self-admitted weakest link, but in a family this talented, it really means that he is above-average, so you should look for some skill even from him.
“Next we have the best Gryffindor beaters since Remus and Sirius, the proprietors of the wildly successful Honest Abe’s Original Butterbeer, Fred and George Weasley!” Lee paused for a cheer to ring around the stadium. “Finally, we have Gryffindor’s current Keeper, Ron Weasley. He holds the record for the least goals conceded in a match in the last ten years.
“Finishing off the team is their friend and former Gryffindor teammate, Alicia Spinnet, who, while making public her dislike of the original purpose of this game, is now enjoying what should be a very special occasion.
“And here comes the Weasley team, dressed in Gryffindor colours. As Chasers, Bill, Percy, and Alicia. As Beaters, Fred and George, as Keeper, Ron, and as Seeker, the famous Charlie!” Seven red and gold streaks shot out of the starting gate, circling around the pitch to enthusiastic cheering.
Lee paused and looked down. “And I’ve just received an Mmail, hopefully containing the Potter team.” He opened the Mmail and smirked. “Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to state that, while gambling may be irresponsible, any of you who have placed bets on the Potter team should really enjoy this match. I know I will be happily spending my winnings tonight.
“As Chasers, Severus Snape, Ginny Weasley, and…” he paused to watch the faces of the Weasleys who were lined up in front of him. “Harry James Potter,” he finished, to gasps of surprise. “As Beaters, we have Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. As Keeper we have, from Puddlemere United, a close friend of Harry Potter and former team captain of Gryffindor, Oliver Wood!” There were screams of delight from the crowd, and nervous looks from the Weasleys. “And to finish off the team, another close friend of Harry’s, on loan from the Vrasta Vultures, the World Cup Seeker, Viktor Krum!”
There was another roar from the crowd as the seven players flew out, wearing light grey uniforms, with a band of colour for each of Hogwarts houses on the side. Lavender and Parvati spent many an hour coming up with this natty looking outfit to help distinguish them from the Gryffindor Weasleys, and to show some school unity – a popular theme of Harry’s. Viktor and Oliver had huge smiles on their faces as they waved back to the crowd. Ginny and Harry flew up to the Weasleys.
“Afternoon,” Harry said pleasantly.
“Damn it, Harry,” Ron sighed. “Wood and Krum? No wonder Hermione’s been smirking at me all day.”
“I don’t like losing,” Harry replied.
“But I only agreed to play to get a shot at you,” Charlie complained.
Harry winked at him. “Sorry, Charlie, but you’re the wrong Weasley.”
Charlie shot him a foul look.
“Captains,” Madame Hooch shouted.
Bill flew down, as did Ginny.
“Not Harry?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Not this time. He said I’d be better.”
“You do know that the outcome doesn’t matter anymore?”
“Of course. Well, apart from bragging rights.”
Bill laughed. “Right, Munchkin. We’re not going to go down without a fight.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything else,” Ginny replied, as the Snitch was released.
“And the match begins,” Lee’s amplified voice rose over the noise of the crowd. “Let’s hope for a prime example of good Quidditch play.”
Remus spun his broom around, cushioning the Bludger that was flying toward him, gently pushing it toward Sirius, who smacked it merrily straight at Percy.
Percy evaded quickly, but lost sight of the Quaffle as it was thrown at him. Ginny flew past and grabbed it, chucking it toward Harry, who caught it and passed it to Snape, who executed a cork-screw roll before firing it at Ron. The Quaffle evaded his outstretched fingers, and it was ten points to Harry’s team.
The three Chasers slapped hands as they retreated back to their positions. Above them, Charlie and Viktor were engaged in a thrilling duel, as Viktor tried to plough Charlie into the ground. The dragon-riding Weasley managed to pull up, and nudged Viktor so that he had to take evasive action to avoid Oliver. In the confusion, Bill passed to Alicia, who evened the score.
“Man,” Sirius shouted, as he intercepted a Bludger aimed at Oliver, “this is fun!” He hovered around Oliver, in case it was fired back.
“You’re damn right,” Oliver agreed, as he blocked another attack and threw the Quaffle to Harry. “Potter’s almost as good a Chaser as he is Seeker, and this is being played at around 90% professional speed, so it’s a lot of fun to play in without having to push ourselves to the limit.”
“And the result doesn’t matter,” Remus added as he teamed up with Sirius for a Dopplebeater Defence that flew straight toward the Weasley twins, causing them both to dodge out of the way.
Sirius darted to the left and smacked the other Bludger back at Percy.
“For old guys, you two are pretty good,” Oliver rumbled. “Potter, fake to the left!”
Harry did exactly that, although there was no way he could have heard Oliver across the pitch, and scored another ten points. He grinned at the crowd and blew a kiss to Ginny.
Ginny smiled, and then dived quickly as Charlie and Viktor started another wild chase, both barely hanging on to their brooms as they used the players as obstacles in their chase and swerved around them.
Harry shook his head enviously, before retreating to try to stop Percy. He managed it, but Percy managed to offload to Bill, who faked and then scored.
The roar of the crowd was a constant reminder that people were here to have fun. Throughout the crowds, students were doing a roaring trade selling Butterbeer for Fred and George. The children were on a generous commission, and sold as much as they could.
The girlfriends of the Weasley boys, as well as Juanita, were sitting together, cheering the match. Their cheering was pretty bilateral, as loyalty to their partners predisposed them to cheer for the Weasleys, while loyalty to Harry and Ginny made them cheer for the other team too.
Tonks was on duty, along with a large contingent of office workers, who were wondering just why they were being paid to watch Quidditch and wear Auror cloaks. The fact that the Auror cloaks had heating and cooling charms meant that no one really complained. The effect was the impression that the Aurors were there in force.
Lucius Malfoy sat near Cornelius Fudge, a sneer on his face. Next to him, Narcissa spent her time trying to find Draco in the crowd.
The students – those not employed by Fred and George, anyway – were sitting together, house rivalries completely forgotten as they cheered for Harry and Ginny – not so much because they disliked the Weasleys, but because a lot of them had been the victim of Fred and George in the past, and were quite willing to see a little revenge paid out.
Viktor flew away from Charlie and signalled to Ginny. Ginny called for a timeout, and all the players dropped to the ground.
“Harry,” Viktor said, “Charlie is a good flyer. If I am to beat him, I must play like a pro, but I have a match on Tuesday. We should svap.”
“You don’t mind playing Chaser for a bit?”
“I am a good Chaser,” Viktor replied. “Good Quidditch player, I like to beat Charlie, but I promised boss I vould not go all out.”
“I appreciate this, Viktor.”
Krum waved the compliment aside. “Dis is best fun I’ve had in ages. Now, go catch the Snitch, let me fly vith the pretty Chaser,” he finished with a wink.
“Viktor,” Snape smirked, “I never knew you cared!”
Viktor looked at him and then laughed. “I valked inter dat,” he admitted. “Now, let us beat the meddlink boys.”
The teams took to the skies again.
“It looks like there has been a change,” Lee’s voice rang out, “with Viktor changing to Chaser and Harry turning to Seeker.”
“Viktor thought you were too good,” Harry said, as he flew around above the match with Charlie. “He said he’d have to go all out, and as he’s doing this for free, he didn’t want to break his promise to his coach to be available for his next match.”
“That’s a hell of a compliment,” Charlie replied, “I was barely hanging on half the time. How did you get him to play?”
“I asked nicely. Now, are you ready to show me why I’m always being compared to you?”
“Catch me if you can,” Charlie retorted and flew straight down. Harry kicked his broom into top speed and followed him down, spiralling as he did. He smiled; flying like this seemed much easier than in the past. His avian form could fly even faster, and flying Gwyneth was so much faster it was unreal.
He overtook Charlie and casually pulled up at the last second, his feet brushing the turf, before he shot straight back up and rocketed into the sky. He leaned forward, into a parabolic arc that gave him a feeling of complete weightlessness, before he dived back down, as fast as before, and did an inverse swoop, so that his head brushed the grass, before he rotated and shot back up, coming to a lazy stop.
He looked around, to see everyone staring at him. “What?” he shouted.
“Shoot,” Oliver yelled, “We can marvel at the boy wonder’s flying later.”
Snape shook himself and did exactly that.
“Charlie?” Harry asked as the other man flew up to him.
“Where did you learn to do that?” Charlie demanded.
“Pull off those moves! You were flying at your broom’s top speed and everyone thought you were going to kill yourself! An inverse swoop at top speed!? How did you not fall off?”
Harry shrugged. “It wasn’t that fast. I’ve flown much faster.”
“It was bloody fast, Harry. If you ever decide to go pro, you’re going to redefine the Seeker’s role! I don’t know how you hung on upside down, the gravity must have been immense! I’m going to have to fly with Crenth a lot so I can get used to that sort of speed before I try it.”
“Gwyneth was much faster,” Harry said, as he relaxed a little. “When you’ve flown at the speed of sound, these brooms seem pedestrian.”
“A Firebolt, pedestrian,” Charlie muttered. “Well, as much as I’d like to sit and chat, I have a Snitch to catch.” He turned his broom and raced off, heading toward the other posts.
Harry swore and took off after him at full speed; he slowly started to catch up as Charlie weaved through the players and under the stands, following the darting Snitch. Harry followed him without an ounce of fear, as they swerved up and down between wooden beams, before they both exploded out into the open again.
Charlie urged his broom forward, his eyes fixed on the Snitch. He flinched as Ginny flew in front of him, and then dodged to the right to avoid a pair of Bludgers that flew straight at him. That was the only chance Harry needed. He darted in and caught the Snitch inches before Charlie’s despairing grab.
Harry raised his hand in triumph, before pushing his broom down abruptly to avoid the hoops. He landed and was immediately embraced by an ecstatic Ginny. He hugged her back and carried her over to the others. “Great game, guys,” he yelled happily. “Without Ginny and those Bludgers, Charlie would have caught the Snitch!”
Remus and Sirius grinned at each other. “There’s a lesson for you, there, Harry,” Snape said. “You surround yourself with good players, and play for them, and they’ll return the favour and help you look good as well.”
“Severus,” Sirius said, “your Chasing skills are better than I remembered them.”
“Minerva gave me some help,” he admitted.
“Minerva?” Harry asked. “Hey, I just had an idea to spice up next year.”
“Staff Quidditch team.”
Snape grinned. “I like that idea.”
“Oliver,” Harry said, as he hugged the Keeper, “damn good to play with you again.”
“You too, Harry,” Oliver replied, “and it was great to be on the same side as Viktor Krum!”
“Krum is worried,” Viktor sighed. “If you decide to play pro … pfft!” he said with a dismissive hand gesture. “I can not fly like dat!”
Harry thumped Viktor on the back. “I’ll tell you what,” he said, “as soon as this mess with the Dark Tosser is over, I’ll show you how I did it.”
Krum’s face lit up. “Danke, Harry,” he replied happily.
“Come on, guys,” Ginny said, “let’s go over to my family.”
What followed was more hugging and laughter, as they discussed the match.
Harry looked around and spotted Lucius Malfoy heading toward them. He turned and walked over to Amelia.
She looked at him, and then over his shoulder, glancing past Malfoy to survey the markedly Death Eater-free Quidditch Pitch. “And where, exactly, is the Dark Lord, Mr Potter?” she demanded.
Harry looked down and shuffled his feet. “I knew he was going to attack,” he protested. “I can’t understand why he didn’t!”
“A feeling?” she asked icily. “While I’m sure that my Aurors have enjoyed a day off, I’m sure that the victims of crime today will not be. My Aurors are not your play toy.”
“Halloween,” Harry blurted. “He always attacks on Halloween.”
Amelia snorted. “We’ll talk about this tomorrow, young man,” she promised ominously, before pausing. “He’s gone,” she said quietly.
Harry grinned. “Was he listening?”
“Yes. Your messages will be back with Voldemort before you can blink.”
“Did you enjoy the match?”
“Not as much as Kingsley did,” she admitted. “He had some very good odds on you winning, and that was some nice flying.”
“Thanks. Hopefully you’ll see why we did this when Voldemort attacks on Thursday,” he said, after putting up a silencing charm around them.
“He’s going to attack with all his forces, here, probably in the morning. I should know his full forces by Wednesday at the latest, and I’ve got plans to deal with them.”
“The Aurors will be ready,” she promised.
Harry looked at her. “Would many of them have any objections to using the Unforgivables, if I get the Wizengamot to allow it?”
“The ones who would won’t be there.”
Harry smiled. “I’ll need your help on Monday. You’re going to help Percy get rid of Fudge.”
“Because of what happened at Azkaban?”
“Among other things.”
“Who are you getting to replace him, Umbridge?”
Harry snorted. “Let’s talk about that,” he said, wrapping an arm around her.
To: My Lord
After today’s match, I successfully eavesdropped on Potter and Bones. Bones was extremely angry with Potter for wasting her time and resources. Potter told her that you would attack at Halloween, and she did not believe him.
From: The Dark Lord
Subject: Re: Plan
Excellent news, Lucius.
The werewolves joined us yesterday.
This time next week, Potter and Dumbledore will be dead, and I will rule supreme.
From: Roland Randolson
To: Harry Potter
I am the scout for the Chudley Cannons, and we’d like to offer you a contract when you leave school.
Your ability as a Seeker is amazing, and the fact that you can pinch-hit as Chaser as well makes you even more valuable.
From: Joyce Jackson
To: Harry Potter
Subject: Falmouth Falcons
Having watched your impressive display today, I would like to offer you a position with the Falcons. Your ability with a broom is unsurpassed.
Please reply at your convenience, and we shall discuss the matter further.
Ginny smiled happily as she looked around the Great Hall. The match had turned into a huge party afterward, and she adored these moments with her family.
Charlie and Harry were huddled in a corner with Viktor, talking about Seeking. Bill, Ron and Oliver were sitting together as well. Snape, Sirius, Remus, Fred and George were in another group, while Percy had bowed out early to spend an evening with Penelope. Her mother and father were with the professors, talking cheerfully.
She drifted from group to group, just enjoying the last quiet evening they were going to have, before Thursday and everything that was going to happen. Harry had plans in place for the rest of the week, and she wasn’t looking forward to it. He was going to push them, hard, but only because he wanted them to be alive at the end of the day.
“Hey,” she said as she sat down with Dean and his family.
“Quidditch is amazing,” Dudley stated. “Basketball on brooms, and I honestly thought that Harry was going to kill himself.”
“I think we all did,” Ginny replied. “That sort of thing isn’t normal.”
“We kinda figured that,” Graeme said, “seeing as you all stopped to watch.”
Ginny laughed, “Not exactly professional behaviour, I’ll grant you, but you don’t normally see that sort of thing pulled off that easily.”
“It was surprising to see Harry enjoying himself like that.”
“He always feels free when he’s flying,” Dean said. “We’ve always seen it. Up there, he’s got no pressure to keep all of us alive; he’s just a kid having fun.”
“And hopefully,” Ginny added softly, “he can have a bit more of that when all of this is over and done with.”
“You were pretty damn good as well,” Dudley added. “The way you crossed in front of your brother was brilliant.”
Ginny blushed. “It was luck actually,” she confessed, “I just happened to see the Snitch and where they were going.”
“Teamwork is like that,” Graeme agreed.
Harry groaned and cracked open an eyelid. “Blaise,” he asked. “Why are you sitting on the ceiling?”
“Talking hurts,” Blaise muttered, barely audible.
Harry felt that groaning was an appropriate response, so he did so again. He reached down, to find that down was up, and that Ginny was attached firmly to his chest.
She looked up, or down, at him. “Hey,” she rasped. “What happened?”
Harry surveyed the scene in front of him. There were various girls strewn around the room, with Ron and Hermione cuddled in a corner. “I think we celebrated,” Harry muttered.
“Oh, yeah,” Ginny agreed. “We got a bottle or two of Firewhisky, didn’t we?”
“Will you two please SHUT UP!” Blaise demanded.
“Accio hangover cure,” Harry mumbled, before collapsing back down as the magic left him exhausted.
A minute later, a bottle flew in through the window. He opened it and looked at it with a sigh.
“Everyone,” he called.
“Potter, will you please shut up!” Susan demanded.
“I have a bottle of hangover cure.”
“I love you.” Susan’s tone changed completely.
Harry waved his hand, and the sound of running water emanated from the bathroom. “This stuff has a hell of a kick,” he pointed out. “Take a large gulp, and you’ll know what to do from there.” He passed it to Ginny, who did as she was told, before she started to turn green, and flew toward the bathroom.
He took his own drink and passed it to Susan. A second later, the steam came out of his ears, and he dived toward the bathroom, and jumped straight into the large bath. He sighed in relief, and then shifted as first Blaise, then Padma, Lavender, Parvati, and Luna joined them.
“H-h-harry,” Ginny whispered, her teeth chattering. “Heat the water.”
Harry did so, and exhaled in relief as the cold left his body. “Next time,” he said softly, “we plan ahead.”
“Next time?” Susan asked. “You’d want to do this again?”
“Didn’t you know?” Harry asked. “Gryffindors are fiendishly brave. And we did have a good party, didn’t we?”
“From what I can remember,” Lavender said, “It was brilliant. We had no one to impress, just a bunch of friends having a laugh, a drink, and a good time.”
“No teachers, no curfew,” Parvati continued and sighed happily. “And any party that ends up with eight people in a hot tub, partially dressed, is a good one.”
Ginny laughed. “Which is probably why Harry’s not opened his eyes since he jumped in.”
Harry shook his head. “I think I drank slightly more than you guys,” he explained, “my eyesight is still a little sensitive. The light in here is a little too bright; otherwise I’d be leering to my heart’s content. As it is, you can rest assured that while I’m thinking about Ginny naked, most of you are in there somewhere, too.”
There was a second of silence, before Blaise started to laugh, a laugh that was quickly taken up by the others. “So, when are we going to awaken sleeping beauties, and what’s the plan for today, Harry?”
“I’m going to Beauxbatons with Fleur, and then I’m going to talk to the Professors. Today is the last day I need you guys to do research. Tomorrow, we’ll be putting the spells into practice.”
“So,” Blaise said cheerfully, “that just leaves one question. How do we all get out of here?”
Harry laughed. “I’ll go first and then you girls can take your time.”
“Ginny,” Susan said in a stage whisper, “we’re all going to watch your boyfriend.”
“As long as watching is all it is, I don’t mind,” Ginny whispered back, “I’ll be doing it as well.”
Harry grinned and made to splash the girls. They all flinched, and by the time they realised he wasn’t going to splash them, he was padding out the door in his wolf form.
“Damn you, Harry Potter,” Ginny yelled, semi-irately. “You’re no fun at all!”
From: Harry Potter
To: Andromeda Tonks
I got your Mmail address from Tonks, and wondered if you’d mind giving me some insight into your sister. I’ve spent some time with her recently, and, well, she’s not what I expected.
She has the pureblood arrogance and supercilious nature that I expect, but she also seems to be able to think for herself – at times – and seems very competitive.
But if that’s the case, why does she seem so supportive of a half-blood tosser like Voldemort?
From: Call me Andy
Subject: Re: Narcissa
I expected your Mmail; Nymphadora mentioned that you’d be writing.
As you will have guessed, I am no longer in contact with Narcissa. I haven’t been since I was disowned for marrying Ted. Before that, we were never that close.
Of the three of us, Bellatrix was the most radical and I was the least. Although, from their perspective, I would suppose that I was the radical. Bellatrix bought into the family doctrine, while Narcissa bought into the family.
Family is everything to Narcissa, or I should say, the Black family is everything. Yes, she is now a Malfoy, but I’ll be she still thinks of herself as a ‘Black-Malfoy’.
Narcissa was and is very much in love with Lucius, but was not completely on board with his anti-Muggle, anti-Mudblood behaviour. She thinks that she is better than them, but cannot see the point in expending so much energy against them.
Narcissa was always Father’s favourite, and I think that was very important to her. From what I’ve heard from Nymphadora, rumour has it that Narcissa is no longer close to Lucius, as he has made it clear that Voldemort is more important than she is – and I mean that in an attention-giving way. If there is one thing that Narcissa will not stand for, it is being ignored. And if she feels slighted, she will pay that slight back on Lucius a thousand times over.
Narcissa and Bellatrix were very close growing up, and I am sure that there is genuine love between them as sisters, and I can guarantee that they will not betray each other. I could not give that guarantee about anyone else.
For the past fifteen years, Narcissa has worked tirelessly to ensure that the Black and Malfoy names are the most prominent in society, and I suspect that she only worked on the Black name as a precaution, just in case anything negative ever happened to the Malfoy name
Narcissa is a very proud woman, but don’t underestimate her. If she felt that it would benefit the Black name, she would take lessons from the house-elves.
I’m sorry I can’t be of any more help, but as I’ve not talked to her in many years, I only have my judgement and memories to go on.
Subject: Re: Narcissa
Andy, thanks a lot – that does actually give me some clue to her motivation. There is an old saying: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
“Ready?” Harry asked the elegant blonde witch next to him.
“I am,” Fleur replied.
Harry bowed and took her hand, “Then let us away!” He Apparated them both straight to the entrance to Beauxbatons, in the south of France.
The school before him was staggeringly beautiful, almost regal in its charm. While Hogwarts was awe-inspiring in size, and engaging in tone, this was the complete opposite, almost the definition of French sophistication.
The huge building had a large lake to the right, with a fountain streaming water high in to the air in the centre. The lake formed part of a moat that was bridged by a sweeping white staircase. Each corner had a large tower, with a circular turret at the top. The castle itself gleamed in the morning sun, the white walls reflecting the bright sunlight, while the slate grey roof added depth and gave a magical touch to the whole experience.
“Magnificent,” Harry whispered.
“It was built during the Renaissance,” Fleur said quietly, “we have a team of people dedicated to keeping it in top condition.”
“I think I’m in love,” Harry admitted.
“Beauxbatons has that effect on people. But Hogwarts is amazing as well.”
“Oh, I know,” Harry agreed. “I guess I just like the elegant simplicity. Hogwarts is, and always will be, my home.”
“Come on,” Fleur said, “Madame Maxime is waiting.”
Harry walked with Fleur into the school, looking around eagerly and committing everything to memory. “I wonder if I can talk Albus into a student exchange next year.”
“You’d have to learn French.”
“I’ve always wanted to do that anyway.” He paused, as he noticed students staring at him. “Am I so out of place?” he asked in a whisper.
Fleur laughed under her breath. “You are the great Harry Potter,” she reminded him gently. “You are as much a hero here as you are in England. Why, even our press covered yesterday’s Quidditch match. They had a full page spread dedicated to that little move you pulled off.”
Fleur laughed again and banged on the door.
“Come,” a deep voice ordered.
Fleur opened the door and ushered Harry in, shutting the door behind him.
The office had pale blue walls, and unlike Albus’ office, did not have portraits of previous Headmasters on them. Her desk was huge, but fitted the half-giantess perfectly.
“Madame Maxime,” he said with a bow. “You are looking as lovely as always.”
“Why thank you, Harry,” she said. “You’ve grown up as well.”
“I’ve been trying.”
“Take a seat.” Harry sat. “So, what can I do for you, Mr Potter?”
“Offer sanctuary,” Harry replied instantly.
Harry looked at her for a long moment; he’d made the decision to trust her completely after talking to Albus. “Voldemort is going to be attacking Hogwarts on Thursday.”
Madam Maxime jerked forward. “It will be a tight squeeze,” she said, “but we’ll fit everyone in, and we’ll reinforce the wards.”
Harry smiled at her. “I thank you,” he said, “but it won’t be that many of us.”
“Most of the school is ready to fight him. Voldemort is walking into a trap. But there are students who are not ready to fight, or do not want to. It is for them that I ask sanctuary, Madame Maxime.”
“Please, call me Olympe,” she said absently. “You are luring the Dark Lord into a trap?”
Harry nodded. “As I believe Albus told you, I’m the only one that can kill him, and I intend on doing that sooner rather than later. I’ve got more important things to worry about than some pretentious tosspot with delusions of adequacy.”
Olympe threw her head back and roared with laughter. “My school is yours,” she promised. “Would you mind a bit of an exchange?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Beauxbatons is not defenceless. We have many skilled witches and wizards here, some of whom have grudges against the Death Eaters that they would love to avenge. We have been touched by the Dark Lord’s…”
“Tosser,” Harry interrupted. “If you can’t call him Voldemort, call him the Dark Tosser.”
Olympe nodded. “Touched by the Dark Tosser’s evil as well,” she finished.
“If they can take orders,” Harry said slowly, “I’d welcome any help we can get. The more numbers we have, the better.”
“Albus has told me a lot,” she confessed, “and I am grateful that you honour me by asking me in person.”
“It is a large favour that I ask,” Harry replied. “If I fail, Beauxbatons becomes his next target.”
“If you fail, Harry,” Olympe said softly, “that will be the least of our worries.” She paused for a second. “Have you eaten?”
“Then you shall have dinner with us. I’m sure my children will love seeing a hero in person.”
Olympe got to her feet and laughed. “Don’t worry, they’ll be gentle.”
“The things I do,” Harry grumbled. He offered his arm to the Headmistress. “Shall we?”
“We shall,” Olympe said, as they walked through the school. “Do you like my school?”
“I think I’ve fallen in love,” Harry admitted. “Would you be open to a student exchange next year?”
“If it involved at least one assistant professor, I could be persuaded.”
Harry laughed. “It will. I can think of seven girls who would love to spend a term here.”
“And I can think of numerous children who would give their eye teeth to look into Hogwarts library.”
They entered through a side door, unseen from the other students. Harry looked around and smiled as he spotted a familiar face. “Is that Gabrielle Delacour?” he asked.
Olympe smiled and nodded. “Yes, she started this year.”
“I thought she was younger that that,” he admitted. “How’s she settling in?”
“It has been a little difficult for her. Her Veela powers are difficult for her to control at times. The girls do not like her, and the boys are too busy making idiots of themselves.”
“Do you mind if I…?” he trailed off, not sure what he was asking.
“Go ahead, she speaks excellent English.”
Harry walked into the Hall, ignoring the gasps as he headed toward the small blonde girl. She was reading a book; silver glasses perched on the end of her nose.
“Hey, remember me?” he asked.
Gabrielle looked up and did a classic double-take. “Harry,” she screamed as she jumped up, her glasses vanishing from her face, and she hugged him tightly.
Harry smiled and hugged her back. “You do, then.”
Gabrielle pulled back and shot a huge smile at him. “I will remember you forever,” she said fervently. “You saved me.”
“I’m here for lunch,” Harry said, avoiding the compliment. “Are you going to keep me company?”
“Of course,” she replied happily.
“What are you reading?” he asked as he sat next to her.
She held up the book so he could see the title. Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique - Folie et déraison. “Madness and Civilization: A History of Madness in the Age of Reason,” Gabrielle translated for him. She winkled her nose cutely, “I’m trying to understand why I am who I am, and why people are affected as they are. I’m not getting very far with it,” she confessed. “But I’ll get it!”
Harry whistled under his breath. “I’m impressed,” he admitted. “It’s not what I expected.”
“I’m rarely what people expect,” Gabrielle replied without rancour.
“Touché,” Harry smirked. “A feeling I know well. I’ve just never had the idea to study why people react to me the way they do.”
“Oh, that’s simple. Individually, your features are not classically handsome, however you have a purity about you that is intoxicating, a power that is immeasurable, and an aura of goodness that shouts that you will do what you believe is right, regardless of the cost to yourself.”
Harry blinked at her.
She laughed happily. “The fact that you are modest as well helps.”
“How are you enjoying school?” he asked, in an effort to change the subject.
“The lessons are fun, the people…” she trailed off and gave him a sad look.
“The people don’t choose to look beneath the surface, and anyone who does not fit in is to be pushed aside, correct?”
“They are only children,” Harry explained, “like you. You, however, are different, through no fault of your own, and that is all the matters to them.” He reached out and raised her chin as she looked down. “Some people will accept you for who you are, Gabrielle Delacour, and some people won’t. The ones that will are the ones that will be your friends for eternity. But you, you have to do the hardest thing.”
“What’s that?” she asked, as she looked into his eyes.
“Be yourself and don’t compromise. One of my best friends is a werewolf. He went to school with my father and my godfather. He is the bravest man I have ever met. He has stood up to injustice, to prejudice and persecution. And he is still the most honourable man I know. He is the sort of person that I aim to become.
“But I am determined, Gabrielle, that I’ll do what ever I can to stop it. I’ll stop the prejudice and persecution that comes from being different. It sickens me deep inside, that wonderful people are outcasts through no fault of their own. People smirking and looking down on others because of blood, because of race, because of species, is bigotry, pure and simple. All intelligent species are equal, and I won’t rest until that notion is enshrined in the core of human belief.”
Gabrielle took a deep breath. “I promise,” she said clearly.
Harry grinned at her and let her face go. “Sorry,” he apologised. “I get on my high-horse a bit.”
“No, Harry, I needed to hear that more than you can ever know. The loneliness of being unique leads to self-doubt. I know you understand what it’s like, and now I know that I’m not alone, that there are others like me.”
Harry smiled and summoned a book from Hogwarts library. He gave it to her.
“Occlumency and Legilimency - The Art of Mind Control,” she read.
“Read it, and then Mmail me. Don’t try it out on your own, though.”
“I won’t,” she promised, and wrote down his Mmail address as he whispered it to her.
“What do you do for fun around here?” he asked.
“Fly,” she replied happily. “Veela are birds, after all.”
Harry grinned at her. “Then we’ll fly together.”
“Really?” she gasped. “Can you show me how to fly like you did yesterday?”
“Of course. Now where’s the food? I’m hungry enough to hunt down a horse.”
I believe that your boyfriend has just made my sister’s life. She was experiencing the same things that I did at school, only I did not have a big brother like Harry come from Hogwarts and make it all better.
Olympe cast a charm so that the whole school could hear Harry as he promised to Gabrielle that he would end the prejudice that she has suffered as a Veela. He shamed many people, and then he took her flying for the afternoon. I’ve not seen Gabrielle this happy for years. She has adopted him as her brother and I think he has adopted her as well.
When he talks, he talks with such passion and belief that it is hypnotic to watch.
Love him, Ginny, because every man needs one person he can rely on above all else.
Subject: I do
With everything that I am for the rest of our lives. This I swear, Fleur.
Audaces fortuna juvat
Damn it, Harry, if you’re going to steal some anti-hangover potions, can you NOT destroy half my room in the process?
Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years
Sev, I’m sorry about that. I’ll drop by this evening and fix things.
Audaces fortuna juvat
It was raining on Monday morning, when Harry woke. It was going to be a miserable day, but it didn’t change Harry’s good mood. He wasn’t going to let a bit of rain have that effect on him.
He felt like he was going to explode as he walked down to breakfast.
“Harry?” Hermione asked, “you’re putting out a load of power. What’s going on?”
“Percy is going to deal with Fudge today,” he explained with a small smile. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Harry grinned at her and touched the side of his nose. “You’ll see.”
“You’re incorrigible,” she sighed as she shook her head. “Is this part of your master plan?”
He nodded, and didn’t mention that his master plan was only a vague outline that he was fleshing out as he went.
Ginny wandered into the school and sleepily sat beside him.
“You’re really not a morning person, are you?”
“No,” she mumbled and rested against his arm.
“What are you doing today, Harry?” Ron asked.
“Potions first thing, and then Transfiguration.”
“And this afternoon?”
“That depends on what happens this morning.”
“Give it up, Hermione,” Ginny said with a large yawn. “I’m too tired to referee the pair of you.”
Hermione pouted. “But it’s fun!”
Subject: Send the next Mmail to Voldemonkey: EOM
To: The lovely Narcissa
Subject: Spies and counter moves
My beautiful Narcissa, it’s been too long since I’ve seen you properly. It was horrible seeing you attached to that git at the match. I could tell how unhappy you were.
I think we have another spy at Hogwarts. I was so sure that Voldemort would attack on Saturday and now Amelia doesn’t trust me. Luckily Albus is planning on getting rid of Fudge today. He only mentioned it this morning, but it cheered me right up.
I can’t wait to see you this afternoon for our ‘lesson’.
Audaces fortuna juvat
From: The lady who infiltrated Hogwarts
To: Lord Voldemort
Subject: The naive brat’s latest missive
My Lord, I believe this is important.
From: The Eternal Dark Lord
That meddling old fool is going to interfere with the Wizengamot today. Talk to Parkinson; tell him to make sure that the people who support us ensure that Fudge’s toad takes control. She is easy to manipulate, and beyond suspicion as she is not an actual supporter of mine.
We will corrupt her as soon as she has power.
Victory or Death
From: Lord Voldemort
Subject: Your ‘dance’ lesson
Tell Potter that I do have another spy at Hogwarts, that one of the students is helping me. It will sow some uncertainty in the boy.
Victory or Death
“I do wish Harry would tell me who I’ll be working for,” Percy grumbled.
“Trust him,” Kingsley Shacklebolt advised.
Percy snorted elegantly. “For all I know, he’s planning on resurrecting Merlin!”
“Now there’s an idea,” Amelia mumbled.
“Give up, Percy,” Tonks told him. “You’re not going to get it out of us early.”
“I know, I know. Is everyone ready?”
“We are,” Kingsley said.
“Indeed,” Amelia agreed with a small, slightly evil, smile. “I’m going to enjoy this on far too many levels.”
“Just remember,” Amelia said to Percy. “Be as arrogant as you can and shout down anyone who tries to quiet you. Remember that the Aurors have your back, and if anything goes wrong, Harry is only an Mmail away.”
There was a noise from the hallway, and as Percy looked up, he saw the Animagus form of Sirius Black bounding up.
“What are you doing here?”
Sirius transformed. “I heard you were getting rid of Fudge,” he explained. “There was no way on earth that I could miss this – so I begged Harry nicely, and he said I could watch.”
“And?” Percy asked suspiciously.
Sirius sighed. “If I was Kingsley’s guard dog,” he muttered.
Kingsley smirked as Sirius pulled a lead and a bag out of his pocket and handed it to the Auror.
“What’s this?” Kingsley asked.
Sirius blushed. “Dog biscuits.”
Percy shook his head in disbelief but said nothing. After Kingsley had Sirius on his lead, he looked at the doors to the Wizengamot, before nodding to the two ceremonial Aurors each side.
They smirked at him, before throwing the doors open. Percy marched in, his best sneer in place.
“What is the meaning of this!?” Dolores Umbridge shouted. “The Wizengamot is in session.”
“Quiet,” Percy ordered as he walked into the middle of the circular room. As was usual, the Wizengamot was three-quarters empty, as most people had better things to do than listen to Fudge and his crony..
“Cornelius Oswald Fudge, you are hereby charged with aiding and abetting a known fugitive, and for accepting money in direct contravention of the Wizengamot rules.”
“What are you talking about?” Fudge blustered. “You can’t arrest me - I’m the Minister for Magic. Guards, remove this man. I’m innocent.”
The guards moved forward toward Percy. Amelia stepped next to him and glared at the guards. The guards quickly resumed their position.
“Would you care to explain just why you received a large donation to your personal bank account on the same day that Sirius Black was freed?” Percy asked, placing a piece of paper on the display table. The wall behind the table lit up with Fudge’s bank details.
“One of my investments paid out,” Fudge said.
“Tell me, what happened to Peter Pettigrew?” Percy asked.
“He was Kissed, as was ordered by the court.”
Percy nodded to Kingsley. “Accio Pettigrew,” Kingsley said, causing the rat-like man to fly in and crash against a wall. Peter screamed in agony, and then started to swear vociferously at Kingsley. Kingsley sighed and stunned him, and he slumped to the floor, unconscious.
“Kissed?” Percy asked. “Why, the Dementors seem to have lost their touch. Amelia, would you be as kind as to invite our next guest in?”
Amelia nodded and barked out an order. A few seconds later, the form of Claudia Striven was pulled into the room, in chains.
“I think,” Percy said slowly, “that we will now take a fifteen minute recess so that the full Wizengamot can be summoned. The Weasley-Shacklebolt report has been finalised, and I’m sure you’re going to find everything very, very interesting.”
“Not you, Fudge,” Amelia barked as Fudge and his toad tried to leave. “You stay exactly where you are.”
Percy stood in the front of the chamber, in his best robes. His hands were behind his back as he stared up at the lawmakers as they assembled, the very picture of a calm and collected career politician.
“Silence,” Percy ordered when he was bored of waiting. The last wizard to arrive was Albus Dumbledore.
“As you have seen or heard, this special meeting of the Wizengamot is to deal with the current Minister for Magic, and the fact that he has been working for Voldemort for the past decade.”
There were scattered screams of terror from the Wizengamot at the mention of the Dark Lord’s pseudonym.
“Such courage from our leaders is truly inspiring,” Percy sneered. “I was at Hogwarts last night and some of the eleven-year-olds there show more courage when faced with the fact of a stupid, made-up name like ‘Voldemort’.”
“Stop saying that!” an elderly member shouted.
“No, I will not! Voldemort is a ridiculous name of a terrorist who we should be dealing with, not cowering from. However, I invite anyone who doesn’t like the name Voldemort to leave now.”
“Of course,” Amelia added, “doing so during an extra-ordinary meeting of the Wizengamot will relieve you of your obligations to serve. Permanently.”
“So, is anyone going to leave because I keep saying ‘Voldemort’?” Percy asked hopefully.
There was a lot of protest, but no one actually left.
“How wonderful,” Percy mumbled sarcastically. “To get back to the point – because I have better things to do than spend all day in front of a bunch of cowards who are scared of a name.
“The Shacklebolt-Weasley report will be made available to all members when I finish, but first, we need to deal with our Minister.”
“I must protest,” Fudge said, his bowler hat in his hands.
“Will you be quiet, you disgusting traitor!” Percy demanded. “Thanks to some excellent intelligence, we were able to obtain Cornelius Fudge’s bank report. It is displayed to your left. As you can see by the way I’ve nicely highlighted it for you, there was a large deposit made on the same day that Sirius Black was freed. On the same day, Peter Pettigrew was ordered to be Kissed. And as you can also see, Pettigrew is alive, well, and still working for the Dark Tosser.”
“I must insist that you stop this immediately,” an elderly member shouted.
“Why?” Percy asked. “Speak your objection and get it out of the way, so that I can get on with the business of imprisoning the traitor clutching his bowler hat like a child with his security blanket.”
“Do you have no regard for our safety?”
"Yes," Percy snarled. "More than you do, apparently. I'm doing something about it. Any organisation that relies on a minor to solve its problems has lost all moral rights to safety. Sit down, shut up, and do what you are told.” He paused for a second. “Amelia, I’m going to want every single member of the Wizengamot scanned for the Dark Mark before we continue.”
“You can’t do this!” More of the members shouted this time.
“I control the Aurors,” Percy stated. “And more, I work directly for Harry Potter. I can do exactly as I please, because I have real power backing me up. We’ll start with Professor Dumbledore.”
Dumbledore beamed happily and bounced down to Amelia and Tonks. He held out his arm eagerly.
“Thank you, Chief Warlock,” Percy said respectfully. “And as the Chief Warlock has been validated, I’m sure none of you lesser gentlemen have any objections, do you?”
It was patently obvious, though, that most of them did have some very strong objections.
“I might add,” Percy continued idly, “that these entire proceedings are being recorded for broadcast later. So, Trevor Parkinson, I believe you’re next?”
“But…” the father of Pansy Parkinson started.
“Nymphadora,” Percy said, taking his life into his own hands. “You will Stun the next person who refuses to move.”
“Okay, Percy,” Tonks said, an eagerness in her voice matching the bright smile on her face.
Parkinson didn’t move, until Sirius padded forward and growled threateningly. “Easy boy,” Kingsley said, “You only get to eat him if he runs.”
Sirius turned and whined, before he gave an expressive woof. He turned, and lunged at the stationary Parkinson.
“Bad doggy,” Kingsley yelled, yanking on the chain.
Sirius barked in response.
Kingsley reached into his pocket and looked at the label. “I’ve got Scooby Snacks!”
Sirius froze. He turned and looked at Kingsley hopefully. Kingsley threw a few in to the air – Sirius caught them before they hit the ground.
“I suggest you start moving before he finishes,” Kingsley advised. “He can finish a sandwich the size of your head in seconds!”
With a gulp of fear, Parkinson held out his hand. There was a flash of light, and before Parkinson could react, Kingsley had moved, grabbed his arm, and thrown him to the ground with a thump. Sirius immediately pounced on him as Kingsley had dropped his lead, and now sat down firmly on the Death Eater, jaws parted with a fierce-looking smile as he looked down at the fear-paralyzed man.
“Trevor Parkinson, you are hereby under arrest for wilfully aiding and abetting a known terrorist, and for membership of an illegal organization. You will be tried, under Veritaserum, and you will be punished for your crimes.”
“Veritaserum?” another member, Richard Parakletos, gasped.
“Indeed,” Percy sneered. “Why, the Minister for Magic signed the bill authorising it just last week.”
“No, I didn’t,” Fudge protested, an outraged look on his face.
Percy smirked. “I tacked an addendum to the House Elf Subjugation Rules. Surely you read it before you signed it?”
Fudge’s face slowly turned red.
“You didn’t?” Percy asked with a fake sound of shock in his voice. “Why, that was quite careless of you. And as I’m sure you are all aware, there are anti-Portkey, anti-Mmail and anti-Apparition wards in place around this room. No one is getting out of here before we’ve finished.”
Percy stood by and watched as all the hundred and eleven members who had answered the summons were tested. Thirty-five were immediately escorted out of the room and placed in holding cells.
“Now that the unwelcome element has been removed for our midst,” he said, getting back to business, “it’s time to examine the facts. For my first witness, I call Claudia Striven, the erstwhile head of the Azkaban penal colony.”
With great reluctance, she walked up to the witness block.
“I’m not going to bother swearing you in,” Percy told her. “You’ve already proven that your word is worth exactly two hundred and fifty galleons a shot. The Veritaserum, if you please, Amelia.”
Amelia walked over and locked the prisoner in a full body bind, before administering three drops of the truth serum.
“It’s been a hard day for you, hasn’t it, Claudia?” she asked, as she removed the bind.
She nodded sleepily. “Very long,” she agreed.
“So, how long have you been working for Voldemort?”
“Oh, I don’t work for him,” Claudia said quietly. “I work for Cornelius Fudge. He pays me two hundred and fifty galleons for every prisoner that I help escape the Kiss.”
“That’s a lot of money.”
“It is,” she agreed. “Much more than the Ministry pays me for my services. Of course, it was only Death Eaters that were ever freed. No one else.”
“And you kept the records perfect so that no one would ever look, right?”
“Oh yes,” she agreed, her face still strangely blank. “I followed all the ridiculous rules and no one suspected a thing, until your last inspection. I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids.”
Sirius made a bark that sounded suspiciously like a laugh as Kingsley absently fed him another Scooby snack.
“I think we’ve heard enough, unless there’s anything else you want to tell us?”
“Fudge owns a mansion in the Lake District that no one knows about,” she said. “I was planning on blackmailing him if he ever tried to stop paying me.”
“Thank you,” Percy said. “I believe that you’ve been more than helpful.”
Claudia started to sway, then she shook herself hard and stared at Percy. “I hate you,” she whispered.
“Just remember that when you are executed by firing squad,” Percy told her, a hard look in his eyes.
Claudia went completely white.
“Get her out of here.” He paused while the terrified witch was bundled out of the meeting hall. He hid a nervous sigh to himself. He was breaking practically every rule and several laws with his cavalier treatment of the prisoners, but he was having an incredible amount of fun doing so.
“So, from the pony’s mouth, we have a direct implication of Fudge buying freedom for Death Eaters, and at the same time we have corresponding donations into Fudge’s bank account. I think it’s time for another witness. Put Pettigrew on the stand.”
Kingsley kicked the prisoner until he moved into position. The small rat-like man cowered as he stared out at the Wizengamot.
“Peter Pettigrew, you have already been sentenced to death by a fully accredited court of the Ministry of Magic, operating under the original charter as set by our founding members, back in 406. If I detect any falsehood from you, or if you refuse to answer any of the questions, the sentence will be carried out immediately, where you stand.”
Kingsley moved directly in front of Pettigrew and pointed his wand at the shaking man.
“If you answer every question truthfully and to the utmost degree of your knowledge, I will allow you to live until you die a natural death, in protective custody.” Percy didn’t mention that the protective custody would be the deepest, dankest prison cell they could find. “Why don’t you state, for the Wizengamot, exactly what happened on the day of your capture?”
Pettigrew looked down and didn’t say anything.
Sirius bounded forward and placed his front paws on the balustrade in front of Pettigrew and snarled.
Pettigrew went completely white. “Keep him away from me! I’ll tell you everything, I promise!”
“Kingsley,” Percy said.
“Here, boy,” Kingsley called.
Sirius dropped down and padded over to Kingsley, sitting next to him obediently. Kingsley scratched him on the head and handed him another Scooby snack.
“W-w-well,” Peter stuttered. “I received an email from Lord Voldemort,” – there was less of a fuss this time – “from Harry Potter. I believed that Potter was going to join, what I didn’t know was that the attachment was a Portkey that took me straight to court. After I was tried and sentenced to the Kiss, I wasn’t worried. I knew my Lord would protect me, and he would send Lucius Malfoy to pay off Fudge, as he has done every time we needed an important Death Eater in the past. It would have been a lot worse for me if I had just been sentenced to jail, as it takes a lot of time to release a prisoner. Someone who is going to get Kissed can be released instantly.
“I spent around fifteen minutes in Claudia’s office, before I was Portkeyed away, and a Muggle was used to take my place in the Kissing ceremony.”
Percy felt his insides freeze. “You had a Muggle Kissed?”
Wormtail nodded so fast it looked like his head might topple off. “Fudge’s plan – the only problem is, unlike a wizard, a Muggle can’t survive the Kiss, so the body has to be removed instantly. As far as the guards are concerned, another prisoner has had their soul sucked.”
Percy looked up at the Minister. “I believe that makes you a murderer, as well as a traitor,” he hissed.
“Objection,” Dolores shouted.
“Don’t be an idiot,” Percy hissed. “There is no one to object to. With Fudge being accused of practically every crime known to man, the only person you could object to is the Chief Warlock.”
“Don’t look at me,” Albus said. “I’m finding myself thoroughly disgusted in Cornelius, and quite convinced so far.”
Percy turned to Pettigrew again. “Exactly what did you do after you were freed?”
“Lord Voldemort ordered me to keep it a secret that I was alive, and that I was able to infiltrate Hogwarts and spy on Harry Potter’s plans. It was going well, until you found out and told Harry.”
“Indeed,” Percy said quietly. “For the second time, Mr Potter has fixed the mistakes made by the Ministry and captured someone we had believed dead without checking. This is something we are going to have to deal with in the future. For far too long, we have taken a hands-off approach to running this country.
“That has led us to be in the state we are in today. We have an illegal terrorist organisation camped on our desktop, and traitors and murderers among our legislative body.” He paused and looked at Cornelius. “So, do you have anything to say for yourself?”
“You can’t do this to me – I’m the Minister for Magic!”
Albus stood, his power radiating enough to attract the attention of everyone in the room. “That, Cornelius, is something we shall rectify immediately. I hereby place the motion to the floor that the current Minister for Magic be removed from office, effective immediately.”
“Seconded,” Amelia said instantly.
“You will now vote, Gentlemen,” Percy said formally, happier to be back on a somewhat less dubious legal footing. “As always, you will place your wands on the mark in front of you. A ‘Yes’ signifies that you agree, a ‘No’ signifies that you disagree. Please vote now.”
It didn’t take long for an overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote to be recorded.
“Kingsley, please take Mr Pettigrew into protective custody. Nymphadora, please escort the former Minister into the dock.”
Tonks scowled as she ordered Fudge into place at wand point. Dolores was now studiously edging away from Fudge.
“Amelia,” Percy said, “the Veritaserum, please.”
“No!” Fudge protested, but it was a futile protest, and three drops of the potion were promptly administered.
“Tell me, Cornelius, how long have you worked for Voldemort?”
“Since the beginning,” Cornelius responded with a dull expression in his eyes. “Lucius Malfoy helped me to become the Minister, and he made it clear that the Dark Lord was not dead and that he would be returning, and that if I wanted to have a position of power once the Dark Lord took power, I should help out.”
“And what did you do?”
“I didn’t have to do much, at all. I tried to alienate as many of the Ministry’s allies as I could, and arrange for the Death Eater prisoners to find a way out of Azkaban. I even ordered the escape of Lucius Malfoy last year.”
“The Wizengamot supports the Dark Lord and his policies, so life was easy.”
The members of the Wizengamot responded with shock, horror and denials, but it was obvious that his charge was true. Whether they had realised it or not, the Wizengamot had, indeed, supported the Dark Lord.
Kingsley was struggling to hold back an incensed Sirius.
“Until Harry Potter came along.”
“Blasted child was intent on ruining everything, but I managed to get the press to discredit him. Without that, the Dark Lord might have never returned.”
There was a horrified gasp from the Wizengamot.
“Cornelius Oswald Fudge,” Percy said formally. “You will be tried, officially, next Monday, for crimes too numerous to mention here. You are remanded into custody until that time. Do you understand?”
“I deserve it,” Fudge replied, before he started to shake.
“Kingsley, escort the previous Minister to his new abode.”
“No!” Cornelius wailed, only to be hit by a silencing charm from Tonks.
“This has been a fun day,” Percy said.
“Indeed,” Dolores Umbridge said. “As acting Minister...”
Percy looked up and laughed at her. “Acting Minister?”
“As the Minister’s Undersecretary,” she started.
“Tonks, put the bitch in the dock,” Percy snapped.
“Finally, he gets my name right,” Tonks muttered as she approached Umbridge.
Umbridge pulled out her wand and pointed it at her. Tonks morphed into Umbridge’s form, and used her momentary confusion at seeing herself to disarm the Undersecretary.
“Dolores Jane Umbridge,” Percy said formally. “You are hereby charged with the Attempted Murder of Harry James Potter. How do you plead?”
“This isn’t an official court,” Dolores blustered.
“Amelia, would you be so kind as to take your seat?”
Amelia took Fudge’s vacated seat. She placed an old grey wig on her head. “As head of Magical Law Enforcement, I hereby declare this court to be in session. Albus Dumbledore,” Amelia said. “Would you please act as counsel to the defendant?”
Albus nodded and took his stand. “May I request a ten-minute recess to discuss the charges with Undersecretary Umbridge?”
“Of course,” Amelia said, and banged her gravel.
Albus and Dolores went into a corner, and Albus erected a silencing charm around them.
Percy turned to the Wizengamot. “As I’m sure that you all know, the Wizengamot is capable of becoming a full court, and has been empowered to do so since 1342. The trial of former Minister Fudge is slightly different, as the people of this country deserve to see that corruption at the highest level is dealt with in a swift, but just matter. This is a minor matter that we will deal with as quickly as is possible so that you may continue your normal routine.”
He stood very still at the front and waited for the remaining seven minutes to pass by.
As soon as Umbridge retook the stand, she said, “I would like to plead guilty as charged.”
Percy blinked at her.
“My counsel has pointed out that you are using Veritaserum,” she explained bitterly, “and as I can’t fight it, I don’t have any real choice.”
“The court accepts your plea,” Amelia said. “The evidence will be made available to the members of the Wizengamot. In sentencing you, I have taken into account your plea, and place you in the same protective custody as Peter Pettigrew.”
“Thank you,” Dolores said with a surprised look on her face.
Amelia nodded to Kingsley, who escorted the last prisoner of the day out.
“And with that, I’ve taken enough of your time today,” Percy said.
“I’m afraid there is one more thing,” Albus interrupted.
Percy looked at him.
“We need to appoint an interim Minister for Magic,” Dumbledore reminded him.
With that, the Hogwarts Headmaster walked into the middle of the floor and looked at the assembled Wizengamot.
“We are now very aware that we have failed,” he said solemnly. “We have failed in our solemn duty to protect the people, and we have pinned our hopes on a sixteen year old boy. We have been fortunate in the fact that he is more than capable, but we must, as honour dictates, stop standing in his way and start to help him.
“Because of this, I would like to place a nomination for Interim Minister. The candidate is from a well-known Pureblood family, and has fought for the Light for many, many years. He has proven himself trustworthy not only to me, but to Harry himself. He has been instrumental in ferreting out Ministerial corruption, and his swift action has saved the lives of many who would have otherwise perished as a result of Voldemort’s actions.”
Percy frowned, trying to work out who Albus was talking about, before he suddenly realised that the only person who fit the bill was his father, Arthur.
“And so, with complete confidence, I hereby place the name of Percy Ignatius Weasley into consideration for the Interim Position of Minster for Magic.”
Percy blinked, and then absently placed his finger in the ear, to remove the blockage that must surely be there, as it sounded like Dumbledore had said the wrong name.
“Seconded,” Amelia agreed from behind him. “It is, perhaps, time to let a younger man take this temporary position while we defeat Voldemort, and then have normal elections as soon as we can thereafter.”
Percy fought to stop his jaw from hanging open, but as he looked around, he could see many people nodding, and suspected that the idea that it was only temporary was going to work in his favour.
Amelia ordered the vote, and he turned, hardly believing it as he was voted into the highest position in the land.
“Percy, if you’ll take your place,” Amelia said, strong amusement in her voice.
In a daze, Percy walked up the prime place and looked out at the sea of faces. From this level, he was almost looking down on them. “Thank you for your trust,” he said solemnly. He paused, trying to decide what to do first. “My Lords and Ladies, ladies and gentlemen,” he began.
“I hereby order two working parties to be formed. The first will examine all laws that have been issued in the last thirty years, and will bring to our attention any that unfairly legislate against any group, race, or species.
“The second will be constructed of an equal number of Aurors, Barristers, and members of the Wizengamot. Their brief will be to examine our current procedural laws, and bring the laws of our great nation up to date, so that the sort of ad-hoc justice demonstrated today can not be done again in the future. We must have a justice system that relies on law and justice. Although we have used the system for good today, there is nothing to stop it being used for evil in the future. We must protect ourselves, and protect our people, and ensure that justice be done, regardless of prejudice, incompetence, position or species.”
From: The Minister for Magic
To: The Git
Subject: New Job
I don’t know whether to hug you or kill you, Harry. Damn you!
Percy I. Weasley
Acting Minister for Magic
Harry looked at the Mmail and did a little dance of delight in the middle of the Great Hall.
“Harry?” Minerva asked.
“It worked,” he shouted.
Harry looked to the left, and saw all the Weasleys’ and associate Weasleys’ Mmail notifiers go off. Ginny’s lit up at the same moment. “I’ll let him tell you.”
From: The Minister for Magic
To: My extended family
Subject: That damn boy
No, you’re not misreading. Bloody Potter has somehow got me elected as the Minister for Magic.
I’m still not quite sure how he’s done it, but for now, and until we can arrange a full election, I have the power to make some real changes.
I’m well aware of where I have come from, and this is not the start of Git!Percy returning. I will work for the ideals that Harry has clarified in all of us, and I am now in a position to make sure that Harry gets the backing he deserves.
I don’t know how he did it, but it is done. I, Percy of ‘Cauldron Bottom’ fame, have been placed in the highest position I barely dreamed about, because Harry trusts me. I will live up to that trust!
I know that I never say this, but I love you all. You accepted me back in to the family despite my attitude, and it is with my family that I have the strength and the courage to accept this position.
Percy I. Weasley
Acting Minister for Magic
From: Lucius Malfoy
To: Lord Voldemort
It saddens me to report that Parkinson has failed. He is currently under arrest.
The Wizengamot arrested every one of our followers, and then elected the Blood Traitor Percy Weasley as Interim Minister.
Your humble servant,
Subject: Re: Parkinson
Have Parkinson killed for his failure.
This may look like bad news, but the Blood Traitor will not have time to prepare anything before we attack on Thursday.
When we have killed Potter, we will punish their incompetence.
Victory or Death
There was a moment of silence as the Weasleys looked at each other, before they started to celebrate. People grabbed each other, hugging tightly, as they talked incoherently.
“Damn it, Harry,” Blaise shouted above the noise of a gaggle of Weasleys celebrating. “What happened?”
“Fudge is in prison,” Harry said with a small smile. “And Percy Weasley is the new Minister for Magic.”
“How the bloody hell did you do that?!” Blaise demanded, a look of incredulity on her face.
Harry just grinned and waited. Ginny was the first to break away, as she sprinted over to him and jumped, wrapping herself around him. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she chanted as she kissed him.
“I didn’t do anything,” he replied.
Ginny rolled her eyes and gave him a sizzling kiss full of promise and desire. “And I’ll not do anything the second I get you alone,” she whispered huskily.
Harry smiled and pushed her toward her mother, who was hugging people at random. He stood back, and the smile slowly fell from his face. He wanted to let them enjoy the moment, before he had to bring reality back into the mix. This was his last throw of the dice, and while it had come up sixes, it signified the beginning of the end.
Through a mixture of luck, snap decisions, and a modicum of planning, he’d forced Voldemort into a corner. He’d cut off the Dark Tosser’s money, his intelligence, his public support – through the new Butterbeer – and now the Ministry he’d enjoyed was gone as well.
Voldemort was going to have to attack on Thursday, and it was now Harry’s job to make sure that everyone was going to live through that fight. It was still a gamble, but it was one he felt was worth taking.
He watched as Albus entered and took his seat at the head of the Professors’ table. The great man’s eyes were twinkling as he scanned the hall. Harry met his eyes for an endless moment.
He took a deep breath. This was it, this is what he had subconsciously been aiming for, this was the moment when he could no longer play at being in control, using his friends and family as support; this was the moment when he had to take the lead officially.
He walked in front of the huge doors and turned, so that he could see everyone. Slowly, the noise level died down as everyone turned to look at him.
“Until Halloween, I am taking charge of Hogwarts,” Harry said softly. “We have lived under the oppression of the Dark Tosser and his cohorts for too long. I am ending it, as soon as I can.
“I want everyone who is willing to fight with me, to the left, and those who do not feel they are able, to the right. There is no shame in knowing your limitations, nor dishonour in being afraid. You are children. You should not even be asked this question, so make your decision with a clear conscience, and do not let peer pressure influence you. I want you all to look deep in your hearts and ask yourself if you have the ability to fight and the will to survive. Even if you are with me, you do not have to fight – there are many ways to help, and only some of them are with the actual fighting.”
Ginny was the first person to move, from the Gryffindor table to the Slytherin. Ron and Hermione were only a second behind her, as were the other Weasleys. That started a mass migration as the children chose the sides they felt most comfortable with.
As a block, the entire Hufflepuff house stood and moved over, stubborn looks on their faces. The Gryffindors were soon with them, proud looks on their faces. Most of the Ravenclaws followed suit, with some deciding that, logically, they couldn’t help, and would be better off with the others to the right. A number of Slytherin House also crossed to the right, conflicted expressions on their faces, leaving Harry to think that they didn’t want to fight their own parents.
Dean hugged his parents, slapped Dudley on the back, as he moved to the left, leaving his family on the right.
“Professors,” Harry said respectfully, “could you choose your sides as well?”
The senior staff moved to the left without hesitation, as did Hagrid and Poppy.
The Defence professor – and Harry still couldn’t remember his name – moved to the right, as did Sinistra and Vector and the rest of the professors.
Harry looked to the left and blinked in surprise. “Draco?”
Draco sighed and nodded at Terry. “He’s not fighting alone,” he said simply.
Harry nodded. “Parkinson, and anyone else who believes that the Dark Tosser is the way forward, you can leave the school. But know that if you do, you will not be coming back, and if I meet you on the field of battle at Halloween, you will be treated as any other Death Muncher.”
“The spell,” Pansy muttered as she scowled at him.
Harry smirked at them. “It never existed. You fell for my friends’ story hook, line, and stinker.”
Pansy looked outraged.
“Go,” Harry said, opening the door behind her.
“Well, come on then,” Pansy snapped to some of the Slytherins.
“You’re on your own, you crazy bitch,” Theodore Nott stated calmly from his place on the right. “I’ve got no love for Muggles, the Muggleborn, or anyone else, but if you think I’m going to stand nose to nose against Potter, you are not only ugly, but stupid as well.”
“Cowards,” Pansy spat, and stormed out. “You’ll get yours,” she snarled at Harry as she left.
He just smiled at her angelically.
“Professor Sinistra, you are now in charge of the children. Please arrange for as many lessons as you can, and report to Albus if there are any problems.” He turned to face the group to the right. “The house elves are currently moving your belongings, so that you can all be together in the Slytherin dungeon. It is the safest place for all of you. I’m afraid that you are no longer allowed on the second floor or higher. As security is an issue, the boundaries will be warded, and you don’t want to see what happens if you try and break them. We’ll see you after Halloween.” They started to file out the door, accompanied by their Professors.
“Everyone else, follow me.” Harry turned and walked out of the Great Hall. He walked up several flights of steps, to the Room of Requirement. Inside, the room was a bigger replication of the Great Hall. He moved to the front of the room and waited for everyone to enter. The entire Defence Association filled in the front rows.
“Everyone who hasn’t already sworn to keep what I am about to say a secret, please take your wand and cast an oath now. Please don’t try and fake it, we will know.”
In a wave of magic, the promise was given, which allowed Harry to relax. He smiled slightly and hopped up onto the table, dangling his legs. He waved his hand and the door slammed shut.
“Some of you are probably wondering just why I let Parkinson go. Here’s the deal. Over the past week, Voldemort and I have been playing a game. Sadly for him, I’ve been cheating. Voldemort thinks that he has a spy at Hogwarts. He doesn’t. The spy works for me, and I’ve been feeding Voldemort false information, while getting accurate information about him and his forces back.
“Voldemort told the spy to tell me that he’ll be attacking during the Halloween ball. This is false, as he will actually be attacking on Thursday.”
There was a gasp from the students and a few of the professors. Harry held up his hand and they went silent. “I know this, because I’ve arranged for him to attack then. For the past few days, I’ve had some of the most Machiavellian minds in Britain researching spells and booby traps, and I’ve been gathering our allies. Voldemort will march toward Hogwarts, convinced he is springing a surprise attack.”
“When in fact,” Draco Malfoy whispered, barely loudly enough to be heard, “he’s marching straight into a trap, where you know everything about him, and he knows nothing about you.”
“Damn,” Draco said admiringly. “And Pansy wondered why I gave up trying to fight you!”
There was some laughter from around the room. “The plan,” Harry said, “is for us to work together on our fighting skills. Please notice that I did not say duelling. There is going to be no formality out there. This is going to be a fight, and it’s what we’ve been training you for all this year. You know how to work together, you know how to block the Cruciatus curse, and believe me, Death Munchers will freeze when they cast their favourite toy at you and it has about as much affect as a tickling curse against a dragon.
“Over the next few days, you’re going to be pushed like never before - you’re going to learn new things and new techniques that are going to save your life.” Harry looked at Professor Dumbledore. “Avada Kedavra!” he suddenly shouted.
A blast of green light flew out of his hand, aimed at the headmaster. Albus merely smiled faintly and raised his wand. A stone wall appeared in front of him. It disintegrated as the curse hit it, and then he lowered his wand.
Harry looked back at the students and teachers before him. “You all know that the Imperius can be fought. I’ve shown you how to block the Cruciatus, and Professor Dumbledore has just proven that even the Killing Curse can be blocked. By Thursday, we’ll all know our roles, we’ll all know each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and when we stand together, we will once again prove that Hogwarts is the best, and we will show the Dark Tosser what happens to people who stand against us!”
“Yeah!” Ron cheered, and it was a noise that the others soon took up, as they screamed and cheered and clapped.
Harry smiled at them. “Now, until this is over, there are no professors, and no students. We are in this together, and we will learn from each other. We have Minerva, Filius, Albus, Severus, Pomona, Poppy, Molly, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Penelope, Alicia, Katie, Angelina, and we will be joined by a few others. Remus, Sirius, Arthur, Fred, George and Aberforth will be joining as soon as they can. There are others who will be here for the battle, too, but they’ve all got tasks making sure that the Dark Tosser doesn’t attack early.
“For the next four days, we’re going to eat, sleep, and act like the team we are.” Harry exhaled and smiled as his first army looked at each other and shared nervous grins. “Hermione?”
Hermione moved next to him, and pulled out a stack of parchment. “Well, let’s get started,” she said cheerfully. “I’ve got everyone’s first assignment marked out.”
From: Molly and the trappers
Subject: Daily report
It was a good idea giving me the young ones. They’re determined to help you, but they are still a little scared. This way they know they’re making a difference.
We’ve made a game out of the traps, and they’re coming along fine. I’ve been making notes of some of the things they’ve been saying, as the twins would love these ideas.
We’ll be finished by Wednesday lunchtime. After that, we’re going to report to Poppy as we’ll be helping her with the casualties.
From: Albus and the defenders
To: General Potter
Cc: Quartermaster Granger
Subject: Daily Report
This is the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. I’ve been wanting to get closer to the students, and this is a wonderful way of doing so.
I must say that I admire your command structure. Your closest friends seem to be everywhere, making sure that everything is going smoothly. When this is over, I shall ensure that Susan, Luna, Blaise, Padma, Parvati, Lavender, Ron, Hermione and Ginny are given special awards for service to the school. The energy, effort, and good humour they are showing makes me feel incredibly hopeful for the future.
Of course, even they can’t keep up with you. So far I’ve seen you take two hours’ sleep, and that was as a wolf. Harry, you do need to relax a little. I know that you feel the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but you will be no good to us if you are dead on your feet.
Now, our progress is startling. The children are working hard, and have already mastered the basic creation of a wall. We are now working on endurance, speed, and observation.
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards
From: Minerva and the Transformers
To: The Boy Who Took Charge
Cc: His administrative assistant
Subject: Daily Report
Harry, some of these Transfiguration spells are nasty! Turning grass to glass makes me wince, even though I understand the necessity. However, we are making steady progress, and I promise you that we will be ready.
I have found myself forming closer relationships with my team, and while I was doubtful at first, I now appreciate the comradeship you have inspired in us.
From: Snape and the Brewers
Cc: Task giver-outer
Subject: Daily Report
100 healing potions
50 post-Cruciatus potions
10 hallucinogenic potions
8 other assorted potions that I wouldn’t ever want used on me.
I had a chance to chat with Blaise, and I’m very pleased that you are backing her. She even offered me a job! Cheeky brat. If she can top my current retirement benefits, I just might take it.
Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years
From: Poppy and the Nurses
Cc: Chief Administrator
Subject: Daily Report
First, Mr Potter, as your physician, if you don’t start taking more rest, I shall declare you unfit to lead, shove a potion down your throat and get your girlfriend to sit on you until you pass out.
Second, I am very pleased with the people I have. We ran some training drills today, and the bravery that some of the ‘Puffs have shown as stretcher bearers is astonishing.
The auxiliary nurses have mastered the basic healing spells, and a couple show a real talent.
From: Pomona and the Sprouts
Subject: Daily Report
Things are progressing nicely here. We have some wonderful plants being cultivated. Neville is proving invaluable; that boy has the greenest fingers I’ve ever seen.
We also have a crop of Mandrakes ready, and they should help if we have to fight any banshees.
From: Filius and the fighters
To: Duel Master
Subject: Daily Report
Harry, you do seem to have inspired these children. They’re working harder than you can imagine, and they seem to carry a most implacable grudge against the Death Munchers.
Having seen some of them duel, I wouldn’t bet against our students versus Voldemort’s inner circle if they remember the lessons on teamwork we have taught them.
Subject: Daily Report
Always said you were going to be a great wizard, Harry, and your parents would be proud of you.
I’ve done what you asked, and they’re willing to help.
From: Superior Spy
To: The Boy Wonder
As requested, a detailed list of the Dark Lord’s forces.
Bella – congrats on getting Weasley elected. Voldemort was NOT a happy bunny.
From: The Minister for Magic (Who hasn’t yet got tired of writing that)
To: The Power Behind the Throne
As a result of a secret vote last night, the Aurors have now been given the permission to use the Unforgivable curses – which makes them pretty forgivable, actually.
The Aurors have been sent on a two-day training course, today and tomorrow. No one will realise that the second day will be defending Hogwarts. Kingsley has been in contact with Hermione and knows what to do.
I’ll see you tomorrow, Harry – because if you think that I’m going to miss this, you’re wrong.
Percy I. Weasley
Acting Minister for Magic
To: The General
Subject: Something for your plans
The first is from my spy, and should be pretty damn accurate. The second is from me, and is very accurate.
Bung ‘em into the mix and see what you come up with.
I want you to keep in close contact with Amelia and Kingsley, so they know what is going on.
Audaces fortuna juvat
To: The Boss
Subject: Re: Something for your plans
These are real?
Subject: Re: Blimey
Yeah, I’ve been a bit busy.
And do you know any other swearwords apart from “Blimey” and “Crikey”?
From: RW – note the missing B
Subject: Re: Blimey
Of course I do.
But if I use them, Hermione cuts me off.
From: The boy about to bleach his mind
To: The boy who couldn’t keep his quill to himself
Subject: Re: Blimey
TMI! TMI! TMI!
Audaces fortuna juvat
From: The one who was asked
To: The boy who asked
Subject: Re: Blimey
You asked, mate. And you’re the one dating my sister.
Moving back onto topic for a second. I’ve looked through the enemies and allies, and I can’t help but come to a conclusion.
You’re making a statement, aren’t you?
“Potential Dark Lords, beware, because if you irritate Harry, you will be squished like a bug.”
Subject: Re: Blimey
Keep our extras under your hat for now. I want people thinking and practising as if they aren’t there – there’s no place for complacency.
Oh, and who, me?
Audaces fortuna juvat
Harry looked around the room and smiled softly to himself. Everyone had worked so incredibly hard, he could hardly believe it. Everyone was sitting together in the groups that Hermione had placed them, students and professors talking as old friends. They were eating the last meal of the day, and talking about the battle that was going to happen tomorrow.
As the students finished the meal, Harry stood. “I think,” he said clearly, “that I need to say how proud of you I am, how proud of the work that you have put in over the last few days. To you,” he said, and raised his glass, before taking a large drink.
His action was emulated by everyone in the room, and as they sat down, most of the students started to fall asleep. Harry moved his hands slowly, and one by one, the students floated toward the sleeping areas.
“Harry?” Hermione asked.
“They need to sleep properly tonight, so I got Sev to get me some sleeping potions,” Harry explained. “Too many of them would have spent the night worrying about things they can’t change. And before you ask, after we’ve had a final meeting, we’re all going to be taking one as well. We need to be rested for tomorrow.”
“That’s actually a good idea,” Hermione said.
“It’s just what I’m feeling,” Harry agreed. “Okay, gather around everyone.”
From the different tables, his friends and family gathered around him, most of them creating nice seats to sit in. Ginny moved to sit next to him and took his hand in hers.
“Are we ready?” Harry asked. “Sev?”
“Yes. Enough potions to heal practically anything, and quite a few offensive ones as well. I’ve got enough people trained on how to use them. As far as I can see, we’re ready.”
“Traps are in place. They’re keyed to you giving the word. Morag, who’s a scarily smart girl, came up with a way of using the Dark Mark research she did with you so that the traps will only affect Death Munchers.”
Harry smiled. “That’s brilliant news,” he said softly. “The problem with traps generally is that they’re pretty indiscriminate. Fred, George, Abe?”
“We’re ready,” Abe said. “We’ve got some of the most fun things I’ve ever seen ready, we’re going to confuse and befuddle where we can. These spells are a lot lighter than you might expect, but are harder to defend against.”
“Bill, Fleur, how are the wards?”
“They’re some of our best work,” Bill said proudly. “Practically undetectable to start with, and as soon as we set them up, they will reinforce Hogwarts’ own wards, and make sure that no one can leave the dance early.”
“Arthur, how are the caltrops coming on?”
Arthur smiled happily. “Well, I thought that if we had a Muggle weapon, I’d use a Muggle device to spread it. With plenty of help, I’ve built a trebuchet. We’ve tested it, and it should spread them high and wide. And if they happen to land on anyone, even better. Severus has supplied us with the potions, and we’ll apply them tomorrow.”
“Blaise, Lavender, Parvati, how’s Hogwarts coming along?”
Blaise smirked. “We’ve reinforced the entrance wards, and used the Marauders Map to ensure that every other entrance to Hogwarts is hidden. We borrowed Padfoot and Moony, and they borrowed the twins’ Portkey Paste. Anyone who tries and enters through one of the other entrances will be Portkeyed to the area we think will be the main battle area.”
“Luna, Padma, Susan, what’s the general morale at the moment?”
“They’re generally positive. People trust you, Harry, and they trust what you’ve been doing. They’re nervous about the fight, but really, it’s a bit of a game to them at the moment. The reality was going to hit tonight, but you’ve made that a non-issue. Tomorrow, they won’t have time to worry.”
Harry smiled and relaxed back against his chair, he stretched. “Okay, is there anything else that I need to know?”
Bill and Charlie looked at each other. “As you know,” Bill said, “We owe you an apology. And being Weasleys, we like to do things in style.”
Charlie reached under the table and pulled out a box. “Of course, we had to hire your partners to help us out.” Harry shot a curious look at Fred and George. “Not them,” Charlie continued, “your good-looking partners; Lavender and Parvati.” He opened the box. “Crenth supplied some scales for us, and we’ve enchanted them with every protection spell we know, and a few we researched.” He held up a pair of black trousers that gleamed in the candlelight, and added a jacket of matching colour. He passed them both to Harry.
“You didn’t have to do this,” Harry whispered, awed by the gift in front of him.
“We know,” Bill said, “but we’re Weasleys. We do things properly.”
“I’ll wear them tomorrow. Thank you, guys. And you were forgiven a very long time ago.”
“Ron, anything to add before we all hit the sack?” Harry asked.
“I’ve looked into the forces Voldemort is bringing tomorrow, and once the werewolves join us, we should have the advantage – and that’s ignoring the traps we’ve placed, and the charms we’ve produced. When we add in the Aurors, we should have superior numbers.”
“So, as we are, we’re in good stead?” Harry asked, to clarify.
Harry smiled. “Percy has given the Aurors carte blanche to use what ever curses they want. And any Death Eater captured will be tried before the Wizengamot, force-fed Veritaserum, and executed if they are found guilty. There will be no escapes and bribery this time – mainly because most of the money is gone.
“I told you all the other day that Voldemort is standing in the way of the future. We’ll send a message that will reverberate into that future that we will not tolerate one group trying to subjugate others, and that if you poke us, we’ll poke back.”
“But I like poking,” Sirius complained.
“So Juanita tells me,” Severus muttered.
Harry laughed as Sirius threw an apple at the Potions Master.
“I’ve got one more thing,” Hermione said. “What about you?”
“Me?” Harry asked. “What about me?”
“You’ve had five hours of sleep since Monday. You’ve spent two of those hours as a wolf, and one as a hawk. You’ve also spent time with every single group, helped Ron and me out, and kept an overview on everything, and managed to fit in practising your duelling against all five professors at once.”
Harry shrugged. “I find my other forms relaxing, and I’ll sleep when this is over. No matter what happens to the Death Eaters tomorrow, no matter what happens to Voldemort’s allies, I will have to fight Voldemort, and I will be ready for that.”
“And killing him?” Albus asked quietly.
“He’s no longer human, and I’ve killed a couple of Death Eaters already. I’ve heard that it gets easier, I guess I’m going to find out if that’s true.”
“You sound cold, Harry,” Minerva said softly, in a sad voice.
“My emotions are still here, Min, they’re just locked up. I’m wondering if my desire for a normal life has made me push Voldemort too hard, push us too hard. I picked an arbitrary date – should I have picked a later one?”
“Harry, second guessing yourself isn’t going to help,” Remus said firmly.
“I know, but that is just the start of my doubts.” He smiled faintly, “I think I just want this whole thing over with.” He stood and walked around the table, pouring out a new glass of the potion-enriched juice for everyone. “Tonight,” he said firmly, “everyone sleeps.”
He saluted them, and downed his drink. He took Ginny’s hand, and walked with her to the cot they had been sleeping on, while the others made their way to their own sleeping quarters.
Harry closed his eyes and listened to the sound of his girlfriend sleeping. He waited five minutes before standing. He walked around the hall and checked that everyone was asleep before he smiled sadly at them. It hadn’t been hard to neutralise the potion in his own drink – a small amount of wandless magic and it was plain orange juice. He didn’t want to sleep, not the night before his life either changed or ended.
He hadn’t lied to the others; he did feel more rested after sleeping as an animal, especially the wolf. He was calling on reserves he didn’t know he had, but felt extremely comfortable with, nonetheless. He changed into his hawk form and flew out the window, changing into his wolf as he landed. He’d get some sleep later, and be fine.
He padded into the Forbidden Forest and sniffed around, until he caught the scent he wanted. It didn’t take him long to find the large huts that were the permanent home of the centaur clan that inhabited the Forbidden Forest.
A centaur moved in front of him and pointed a spear at him. “Halt.”
Harry growled warningly. He was here to talk, and he wasn’t going to be stopped by a guard.
The centaur looked nervously around, before slowly backing away as Harry moved forward purposefully. The centaur raised a horn to his lips and blew it, hesitantly at first, then with more confidence, to summon the others.
Harry nodded and proceeded into the centre of the village, before he changed into his human form and sat down, ignoring the guard who was following him. One by one, roused by the guard’s horn, the centaurs emerged from their huts and approached the lone human.
“Human,” a centaur hissed. “You have trespassed. You will be executed for this.”
Harry looked at him and smiled, recognising him. “Bane,” he said softly, “the next time you open your mouth, if the usual mindless vitriol and racism spills out, I will end your miserable life.”
Bane sneered at him and opened his mouth.
Harry started to move, calling his sword to him, as he forced himself to move as he had done so many times. It wasn’t quite as fast as he wanted – he’d spent too much time concentrating on his Animagus forms and not enough time practising it – nor was it as easy to do, now that he knew he shouldn’t be doing it. But it was effective enough. He paused with his sword against Bane’s neck. “Finish the sentence.”
Bane glared at him, but didn’t say anything.
Harry turned his back on the centaur and re-took his seat, his sword by his side.
“Harry,” Firenze said as he moved to the front.
“Voldemort is attacking tomorrow. Where do you stand?”
“Why should we help you, human?” Bane spat.
“Silencio,” Harry said, pointing at Bane. “You can speak again when your betters have finished.” He turned back to Firenze.
Firenze looked amused. “I think, Harry, that I’m the wrong person to be speaking to. This is Magorian, clan leader.”
Harry stood and inclined his head slightly to the larger centaur, as one pack-leader to another.
Magorian studied him for a few seconds, before nodding back. “You’ve not made a good impression with Bane.”
“If you are all like him, then I’ll probably be forced to evict you from the Forest. I won’t have a bunch of selfish, racist, ignorant idiots in my range.”
“Do you think you can do that, human?”
“Easily, centaur,” Harry replied.
Magorian nodded firmly, and Harry sensed an attack from behind him. He rolled to the left, stood, batted a spear aside with his sword and then reversed the sweep of the blade, intending to decapitate the centaur.
“Stop!” Magorian roared.
Harry paused his swing, stopping the blade against the neck of the terrified centaur. “Why?”
“He was only acting on orders.”
“I know,” Harry replied, “which is why you will be next.”
Magorian snorted in amusement, before he went down on one knee. “I apologise, pack-leader, for insulting you in such a manner.”
Harry stared at him for a long moment, his wolfish instincts battling against his human ones. The human ones won, just. “Don’t do it again,” he whispered, as he vanished his sword and sat back down.
Magorian returned to standing on all four legs. “What do you want from us, Harry?”
“Well, Magorian.” Harry used the centaur’s name deliberately, as the centaur had used his without invitation. “I’d quite like you to keep the forest free from Death Eaters, and if a few of your people would like to stand on the edge and fire a few arrows toward the Death Eaters, that would be appreciated as well.”
Magorian nodded. “And in return?”
“Freedom from oppression and being treated like a third-class species.”
“That is a large promise.”
“I’m not doing it for you. You’ll just benefit from it. Firenze apart, you’re all too arrogant for my liking.” He stood. “You treat all humans based on the actions of the few. If I was to do the same, I’d probably think that Bane’s attitude was the most prevalent, and I’d treat you all as he deserves.” He walked to the edge of the clearing, then paused and turned, his eyes meeting Bane’s. “Do not have any accidents tomorrow, because I will hold you personally responsible.”
He took a last look around before Apparating away to Mackrack’s outer office. The alarms didn’t go off this time.
“Come in, Harry,” Mackrack called. “We fixed the wards so that you don’t set them off anymore.”
“Aww,” Harry pouted as he walked in and dropped into a seat. “That takes the fun out of it.”
“Just so-so, actually. I just had a meeting with the centaurs. Bane’s an arrogant git, and Magorian attacked me while I was under his protection. He seems to have forgotten how to conduct himself with a pack leader.”
“I doubt he’s actually met a pack leader for a long time, Harry,” Mackrack pointed out. “What did you do?”
“I came very close to killing him. You know, I wouldn’t even have noticed the insult a few weeks ago, but the more time I spend as a wolf, the more stuff I find myself knowing instinctively. I find the idea of breaking my word, or breaking the ancient compacts so morally abhorrent that I’d rather die first.”
Mackrack bared his teeth. “Humans have forgotten the compacts. As they became ‘civilised,’ they abandoned the rules about dealing with other leaders.”
“It’s not as if they’re difficult,” Harry complained. “Treat another leader as your equal while he is in your camp, regardless of real strength. Respect the leader, and place him under your personal protection. If you are going to fight, do so on the field of battle not like a coward.”
“It’s the first one, Harry, which causes the problems. Would you mind me saying that you are no longer really human?”
Harry shrugged. “I don’t know what I am.”
“A part-human, part-wolf, part-hawk, part-snake, and the first dragon rider in over a millennium.”
Harry laughed. “Well, yeah, I guess. When this is all over, I’m planning on spending a lot more time as a hawk. I’ve not really used the form enough yet.”
Mackrack nodded and changed the subject abruptly. “Are you ready for tomorrow?”
Harry nodded. “The important question is, are you?”
“Two hundred of our finest goblins are ready,” he paused. “Which, sadly, is the total size of our army. It’s all we were allowed after the last rebellion, but rest assured, they are extremely powerful warriors.” He paused. “Well, two hundred and ten, actually.”
“My father,” he sighed. “Elder Blutwood. He wanted to meet this human I spoke so highly of. You impressed him. He spent Monday evening polishing his axe, before he called a few of his old friends up. They all decided that this was a perfectly good way to spend a Thursday. He’s arranged for his wife to manage the Butterbeer distribution in his absence.”
“Are they capable?”
Mackrack cackled. “Most of father’s friends have fought in a war or two,” he admitted with a wide grin that showed a lot of teeth. “What they lack in speed they make up for in skill.”
“Then I’ll be delighted to have them.”
“I thought you would,” Mackrack grunted. “My father seems to view retirement with a general contempt. He didn’t even want to get paid!”
“Well, technically, he is being paid,” Harry pointed out. “He works for one of my companies.”
Mackrack scowled. “He said the same thing.” The goblin threw his hands up in the air. “I give up. Let the old man have his last battle.”
Harry smiled and pulled a piece of string out of his pocket. He cast an enlargement charm on it, and then turned it into a Portkey. “Activation word is ‘Hogwarts’. I’ll Mmail you as soon as I know what time the Dark Tosser is going to turn up.”
“What are your plans now?” Mackrack asked.
Harry smiled faintly. “I’m going to have one last check around the battlefield, and look at the charms we have in place, and then I’m going to find a nice spot where I can curl up and sleep until the sun wakes me. I’ll then slip into bed with my mate and pretend that I was there all night.”
“Sneaky,” the Goblin approved. “Oh, I’ve heard about your latest venture into commerce. A new potions shop?”
“Do you think she’d be interested in brewing some goblin potions as well?”
“If everything goes well tomorrow, I’ll bring her by and you can ask her yourself. But I suspect the answer will be positive.”
“You wouldn’t be backing her otherwise.”
Harry nodded in agreement, and said his goodbyes. He Apparated back to Hogwarts and performed a slow and thorough check, and tried to make sure that he had covered all the angles for tomorrow.
He sighed softly as he realised he had overlooked something. The dragons were in Romania, and he was going to need them at short notice. Gwyneth was probably the only dragon capable of getting there on time. He Apparated to Romania, appearing high above the earth, and as he started to fall, he turned into his hawk form and spent a few minutes playing in the air currents around the mountain range.
It was a lot more fun that he expected, as he swooped and dived, before lazily floating up in the updrafts.
‘It’s a good thing I’m not the jealous type.’
Harry almost missed a beat of his wings in surprise. He turned, to find the humongous form of Gwyneth lazily hovering behind him.
‘Why?’ Harry asked.
‘I’m a dragon, you’re a dragon rider, and flying on your own might be seen as a little cheeky.’
Harry squawked in amusement. ‘I love to fly, on a broom, in this form, or on your back.’ He paused for a second, ‘But to be honest, nothing matches the sheer thrill of riding you.’
Gwyneth grinned at him. ‘Well, as we are flying, you may as well learn how to do it properly. Follow me.’
Harry did as he was told, grateful that the dragon kept the speed to something he could handle. He learnt more about what it was like to fly in the next hour than he would have in a lifetime on his own. Over and above the knowledge his own instincts had given him, he learnt how to read the air currents, how to use them to increase his speed, almost like surfing on an ocean, and how to hover effortlessly. He made a mental note to try and find a real wolf to learn from in the future.
Eventually, Gwyneth alighted on a large rock outcropping on the side of a mountain. Harry followed her down and landed next to her, before he transformed into his human form.
‘You didn’t come here for flying lessons.’
‘I didn’t,’ Harry agreed. ‘I’ve arranged for Voldemort to attack tomorrow. Come and have a look.’ He shuddered as the dragon moved straight into his mind, and took a look at his plans. ‘I need you nearer to Hogwarts, but I don’t want Voldemort to have any idea that something might be up.’
‘Impressive,’ Gwyneth mused. ‘A few thousand years or so ago, this would not have been a problem, all the old ones would have been able to fly as fast as I could, but they are all taking a nap – I agreed to stay awake to help the young ones. How are your illusions?’
‘I can do them,’ Harry answered.
‘Then we shall mix human and dragon magic, and the results will work.’
‘What illusion do you want?’
‘I will tell the dragons to take off, they will be invisible before they do – a necessary survival skill – and you will create an illusion that they are still sleeping.’
‘Follow me down, my rider.’ Gwyneth seemed to fall forward, before she spread her wings and almost hugged the ground as she flew down the mountain.
He smiled and jumped after her, straining to catch up, as he experienced the exhilarating rush of a power dive less than thirty feet off the ground.
As Gwyneth landed, Harry spiralled high into the air, and prepared to cast the spell. Now that he knew that positive thinking was all that really mattered in a spell, he had no doubts about his ability to pull off the illusion.
His powerful eyesight allowed him to memorise the positions of all the dragons.
‘Five seconds, Harry.”
Harry switched into his human form, and as he started to fall he counted down. On zero, he cast the spell and gasped as the magic rushed out of him. The dragons seemed to flicker.
‘I can feel your tiredness, my rider,’ Gwyneth’s voice echoed inside his mind. ‘Do not change back, you’ve had your fun, now, rider, it is time for you to be where you belong.’
Harry laughed softly; the faint outline of Gwyneth joined him as he plummeted down, and he didn’t have to do anything as she manoeuvred herself so that he landed gently on her back.
Harry was asleep before the command had completed.
When he awoke, he could see the start of the sun dawning over the horizon. He felt incredible, much better than he had ever felt before.
‘That is how it is supposed to be,’ Gwyneth said smugly. ‘A dragon and her rider are a very special relationship. It allows us to work together, to share resources, just as you warmed me in the great void, I warmed you last night.’
‘We will hide until you need us,’ Gwynyth said. ‘It is time for you to go back. You will need to end your spell before the fight starts, as you do not want it draining your magic.’
‘I will. Thank you, for everything.’
Gwyneth turned her head and smiled. ‘It is right, for I am a dragon and you are my rider.’
Harry nodded and jumped off her back. As he fell, he Apparated back to Hogwarts, and silently slipped into bed with Ginny. Despite his nap, it wasn’t long before he fell asleep.
“Harry,” Ginny called, lightly pushing his shoulders.
Harry growled softly and tightened his arm around her.
“You know, that growling is really sexy.”
“I thought you weren’t a morning person,” Harry said without opening his eyes.
“Blaise brought me a coffee earlier. Everyone is awake, refreshed, and contemplating how much of a Slytherin you are.”
“Oh yes, they’re very impressed that you made them sleep last night, even if it was downright sneaky.”
Harry sighed and opened his eyes. He wasn’t tired; he was just making sure that he didn’t get caught in his slight deception of the night before.
He stood and stretched, before casting a cleaning charm on himself. He went to pull on a pair of jeans, when he stopped and realised he should wear the outfit Charlie and Bill had created for him.
He picked up the trousers and read the tag. “‘No underwear.’”
Ginny showed no sign at all of looking away, so he shrugged and kicked off his boxers. Ginny’s face turned an interesting shade of red, although she didn’t once look away.
Harry pulled the tight trousers on and then inhaled to do them up. He shrugged the jacket on over his bare chest and drew the front closure together. It sealed itself up the front, and then the bottom of the jacket joined itself to the trousers. There would be no skin carelessly exposed to enemy spells. He added a pair of boots, and ran his fingers through his hair.
“How do I look?”
Ginny’s mouth opened and shut a few times as she looked at him, but she seemed incapable of speech. He took her hand and led her toward the food area.
Harry took a seat at the head of the main table, and looked around. Draco was looking at him in a way that made him shudder, before Terry nudged Draco, firmly. Draco blushed, and then leaned over to whisper something into Terry’s ear, probably an apology. Harry made a mental note to bleach his mind later. If he didn’t have Ginny, if by some quirk of nature, he didn’t like girls, if he lived in a world where water flowed uphill and he was actually gay, there was still no way at all that he could ever be anything other than polite to the ferret.
“So, is everyone ready?”
“After that enforced nap, I think we actually are,” Seamus said confidently. “I’ve had a good night of sleep, I can remember more charms than a cat at Christmas, I’m fighting with a guy who’s going to sit in the Pantheon next to Merlin, and I’m ready to kick some Death Eater arse!”
“Damn right,” Dean agreed. “Although I’ll bet Merlin never wore leather trousers to breakfast.”
“Dragon scale,” Harry corrected.
“Of course, how silly of me,” Dean muttered.
“Well, as we’ve all got this energy, and we’re waiting for Voldemort to wander into our trap, why don’t we play a game or two?”
“Before we do that, Harry,” Blaise said, “some of my friends brought something up this morning. What if Voldemort brings Dementors? We’ve got a plan to deal with everything else.”
“Dementors aren’t worth worrying about,” he said. “I’ve scared a few away with my Patronus in the past.”
“Define a few?”
“Several hundred,” Hermione interrupted. “He saved our lives.”
Blaise whistled. “Just one Patronus?”
Harry nodded. “Hands up everyone who can cast a corporeal one.”
Remus, Sirius, Albus, Bill, Charlie, Penelope, Minerva, Ron, and Hermione raised their hands. Ginny half raised hers.
“Ginny?” Harry asked in surprise.
“I’ve been trying,” she said, “but all I get is mist.”
“Try it now,” Harry told her.
“Expecto Patronum!” she called. From her wand a thick silver mist erupted, but it slowly vanished.
“You know that it is positive memories that count, right?”
He leaned over and kissed her hard, lifting her out of her chair and plastering her along his body. He lightly nibbled her lower lip, before whispering, “As soon as this thing with Voldemort is over, I’m going to expect your help to get out of these trousers, and you know what I’m wearing underneath.”
She gasped and her cheeks went pink. Harry released her.
“Now, cast the charm again!”
“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Ginny shouted, her face still flushed, and a dreamy smile on her lips.
A huge silver wolf exploded out of her wand and bounded around the room, looking for enemies.
“I can’t decide if that’s sickeningly cute, sickeningly predictable, or just sickening,” Ron sighed.
Hermione elbowed him firmly.
“Do you think I could get the same help?” Susan asked, her eyes twinkling.
Ginny looked at her wolf, then at her boyfriend.
“No,” she replied.
Susan pouted playfully.
“Anyway, I think that’s Dementors taken care of,” Harry said. “Any other worries?”
“You know, I don’t think there is,” Ron said. “Now, about this game…?”
“Well, you’re all in groups, so dodgeball it is. Abe, can you referee again?” He waited a moment until everyone was distracted with the organisation of the game, then sought out one person who was standing on the sidelines. “Neville, can I have a word?”
They slipped out of the Room of Requirement. Harry guided Neville silently through Hogwarts to his rooms, and settled into his small study.
“What’s up, Harry?” Neville asked, a worried look on his face.
“Promise me this won’t go any further?”
Neville took out his wand and swore an oath.
Harry blinked, “I’d have accepted your word,” he pointed out.
Harry sighed deeply. “You know I’ve got a spy in the Death Eaters?”
“I’ve promised the spy some sort of limited freedom for the information.”
“Uh huh. That makes sense. What has this got to do with me?”
“It’s Bellatrix Lestrange.”
Neville gaped at him, before he turned white, and then red, and then white again.
“You can’t be serious,” he yelled.
“I am,” Harry said quietly.
“But she tortured my parents, and me!”
“I can’t believe you’d do this to me,” he shouted irately. “I’ve stood by you, been with your every step of the way, and then this – you let the person who ruined my life off, just like that?”
“For the information and help that she has provided, yes.”
“But she tortured my parents!”
“I know. But I needed her information and her assistance. None of this could have been arranged without her. I had to make a decision.”
“You made the wrong bloody one.” He stood and glared at Harry, before turning and storming out.
“Neville!” Harry’s voice cracked like a whip.
Neville paused in the doorway.
“If I have to choose between hurting your feelings and keeping you, and everyone else, alive, I’ll make a deal with the devil himself to keep you lot alive.”
Neville slammed the door shut behind him.
Harry sighed softly. As bad as he felt for Neville, he wasn’t going to apologise for it. He could understand where the boy was coming from, and wondered how he’d react if someone said that Voldemort was getting away with what he did to his parents because of some information.
He smiled faintly. In that hypothetical circumstance, he’d probably end up killing Voldemort anyway – and really, if Neville wanted to challenge Bellatrix later, he had no way, or desire, to stop him.
He hoped it didn’t come to that, because as crazy as Bellatrix was, she was a skilled and powerful witch, and while Neville was skilled as well, he’d never be able to beat Bellatrix. Neville cared too much about living to truly be able to understand and beat the crazed witch.
From: Lord Voldemort
To: Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix, you are to go to the werewolves and prepare them for battle at eleven am. You will Apparate to the gates of Hogwarts at five minutes to eleven, where you will join the main force.
Victory or Death
From: Lord Voldemort
To: Lucius Malfoy
Lucius, it is time for us to reveal our secret. You will retrieve the Dementors from their hiding place. Take thirty Death Eaters with you.
I will expect you at the gates of Hogwarts at 10:55
Victory or Death
Subject: 11am EOM
To: Lord Voldemort
Subject: A request
May I be permitted to join you, so that I may fight with my husband for your cause, and see the boy’s face when he finds out who the spy really is?
Subject: Re: A request
And when we have won, I will Mark you as mine, and you will join the Death Eaters as a favoured member.
Be at Hogwarts at 10:55
Victory or Death
To: Werewolves (all)
Subject: The fight
When Voldemort tells you to attack, use these.
Audaces fortuna juvat
To: Kingsley, Tonks, and Percy
Subject: The fight
Be at Hogwarts at 10:30 to get ready.
Audaces fortuna juvat
To: The future sisters Black
Subject: Changing sides
Use these when I mention that you work for me.
Audaces fortuna juvat
Harry walked downstairs and into Snape’s dungeon classroom. He smirked as he saw the friendlier decor that the other Professors had given it.
“Sorry to interrupt,” he said as he leaned against the door. “But I’m here to evacuate you all.”
“Why?” Sinistra demanded.
“Because Voldemort will be launching a surprise attack in the next forty minutes, and I want you all safely out the way.”
“How can it be a surprise if you know about it?” Vector asked.
Harry merely tapped his nose and smirked. He pulled a piece of string out of his pocket and enlarged it. “Everyone take hold – and don’t try and stay behind. If you do, I’ll have to presume that you’re working for Voldemort.”
“Harry, look after yourself,” Dudley said as he took a hold of the rope.
“That’s what I’ve got the others for,” Harry quipped as he gave Jenny a quick hug.
The students and professors all took hold of the rope, and they vanished, to re-appear in the Beauxbatons dining area.
Madame Maxime was waiting for him there with approximately fifty students gathered around her. Behind her, looking curious, were the rest of the students.
“Welcome to Beauxbatons,” she greeted the newcomers with a smile. “You should have an enjoyable day, although I’m afraid that I’ve had to disable the WizardNet system temporarily. It should be back in forty minutes.”
Harry walked over to her with the rope. “Are you coming?”
Olympe smiled massively. “But, of course,” she said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Take hold then.”
Olympe said something in French, and the other students took hold.
“Harry, wait,” Gabrielle shouted. She dashed across the room and hugged him tightly, before kissing his cheek. “Stay safe, mon frère,” she whispered intently.
Harry hugged her back and kissed her cheek. “I will,” he promised. “If everything goes well, I’ll return later to bring you to the party.”
She smiled brilliantly and returned back to the other students. Harry activated the Portkey, and they arrived in the Room of Requirement.
“Excellent,” Ron said. “Part one of the reinforcements.”
Harry smiled and pointed to the left. A few seconds later, two hundred and eleven Goblins appeared, all in full armour, carrying large axes.
“Mackrack?” Harry asked.
“There is much honour to be had here,” he said, “and if you think that I, as leader, will let others have it all, you’re quite wrong.”
Harry sniggered and indicated Ron. “Take your orders from him; he’s been doing the planning.”
Mackrack marched over and saluted him. “We are at your service, General Weasley.”
Ron flushed bright red, self-conscious at the address given him, but nodded and returned a passable salute in return before beginning to confer with the Goblin director.
“Harry,” Blaise called. “Are there any more surprises?”
Harry pointed to the final corner, and a hundred and fifty Aurors arrived, surprised looks on their faces. Percy was with them, and he moved over to his family.
“Sorry about the delay,” Kingsley said as he strode to the front. “We had a slight issue with a few Death Eater Aurors. They’re now contemplating their mistakes in the next life.”
“Does everyone know what they are doing?” Harry asked him.
Kingsley nodded. “Tonks and I have been drilling them; they know most of what you have planned, and how hard everyone has been working. They know their roles.”
“Good. Ron’s got the final updates. I want every team leader, Kingsley, Tonks, and Mackrack, going through the plan. Charlie, we’re going to get the final reinforcements.”
“All right!” Charlie exclaimed enthusiastically, doing a little dance. He dashed over to Tonks and gave her a quick kiss, before he arrived in front of Harry, and they Apparated to Romania.
“What are you doing here?” Morgo Flashchime asked in lieu of a greeting. “The dragons are sleeping today.”
“We’re going to borrow them for a bit,” Harry said.
“You have the paperwork?”
“Ahh,” Harry said slowly, “you appear to be under the impression that you are in charge of the dragons. As far as Gwyneth is concerned, you’re a servant, not an owner. Gwyneth has already agreed to help, and she will be. You really have very little say in the matter.”
Morgo blinked. “Oh,” he said slowly, and scratched his head. “Right.”
Charlie moved forward in front of Harry. “You’ll have to excuse Harry,” he said with a disarming smile. “He’s more interested in the large amount of Death Eaters who are about to attack Hogwarts than being diplomatic.”
Morgo sighed and looked at his watch. “You do what you want. I’m going to go and get a drink.” He paused. “Maybe several drinks.”
Harry jogged over to the illusion of Gwyneth. The dragon lifted her head, nodded, before she launched herself into the air and vanished.
“Where did they go?” Charlie asked in confusion.
“Dragons have been hiding from humans for years like this,” Harry explained. “We’re going to meet up with them a few miles up.”
“Right,” Charlie said softly, as Harry grabbed him, and they Apparated to the south coast of England, where Harry could feel Gwyneth.
“What’s going on, Potter? That is Portsmouth far below us. There is no way the dragons could fly this far, this fast.” Charlie casually ignored the fact that they were falling toward the ground.
Harry smiled at him. “I moved them last night,” he explained as he felt Gwyneth move under him.
“Whoa!” Charlie yelled, before he grabbed at the outline before him and moved himself into the proper position behind Crenth.
‘Crenth will learn,’ Gwyneth laughed. ‘He is still a baby.’
‘Are you ready?’
“Harry,” Charlie yelled. “Just what were you doing when you were supposed to be sleeping last night!”
Harry turned. “Making sure that we win.”
Charlie opened his mouth, and then shut it again as Crenth turned his head to look at him.
‘Of course, I am ready; I have not had anything to interest me for many years. I am excited,’ Gwyneth said, ‘and Crenth is explaining things to his potential rider.’
‘I’ll see you there, then, at eleven.’
‘At eleven. Stay safe, my rider.’
‘Stay safe, my dragon,’ Harry replied formally, before he Apparated back to Hogwarts.
“Is everyone ready?”
Nervous looks were exchanged, but everyone present nodded firmly.
“Then let’s take our positions.”
Most of the fighters walked out and down toward the Hogwarts entrance. Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Arthur, Molly and a lot of the younger children headed toward the roof.
Harry stood and looked out over the long driveway, toward the entrance where Voldemort and the Death Eaters were expected shortly. He hugged Ginny to him, before doing the same to Ron and Hermione. “Thanks,” he whispered, “for always being here.”
He got three radiant smiles in return. “Stay safe,” he ordered, before he hopped up onto the parapet.
He could sense the tension around, both from here and the others downstairs. He smiled slightly and cast a spell that allowed him to talk with the students waiting by the entrance.
“Albus,” he called, “you don’t happen to remember where that room with all the toilets is, do you? I think I could do with a bathroom break.”
There was some laughter from the kids around him as he winked, and the tension eased slightly.
“I’m afraid not,” Albus replied. “But you could ask the Weasley twins, I believe they’ve found the same room – although it was full of toilet seats for them.”
“Don’t look at us,” Fred’s voice rang out. “We’re innocent.”
“Right,” Molly’s voice entered the conversation. “And the day that’s true is the day that I become Queen of England.”
“A new ambition, Molly?” Harry asked. “I’ve already made Percy Minister, so if you’re really interested in the job, just say so…”
There was a silence, before Molly started to laugh. “I’m going to pretend that’s a joke,” she said. “I’ve got enough trouble looking after my family, without taking on the whole country.”
“Agreed,” Albus said. “That’s Harry’s job.”
Harry just groaned. “Stay safe, everyone. And look out for a few surprises.”
“Damn it, Harry,” Severus’ voice rang out. “More of them?”
“Harry just wants everyone to know that if they think of following Voldemort, they’ll be better off going somewhere quiet and turning the Killing Curse on themselves,” Ron’s voice echoed through the school, “because that way would be much quicker and neater and much less painful.”
There were a few more giggles.
Harry took a deep breath as he saw Voldemort’s forces start the march toward Hogwarts.
“Albus, did you invite a bunch of mask-wearing cowards to lunch?”
“I’m afraid not, Harry,” Albus replied solemnly.
“Then I believe we have some trespassers. Would someone be as kind as to raise the first ward so that Tom and I can have a little chat?”
“Are you going to taunt him?” George asked.
“I am,” Harry confirmed.
“Damn it, I’m on my way up, try and keep him talking for a second or two.”
“Okay, everyone keep this channel clear for important messages now. I’ll leave it open so you can hear what is going on.”
Harry hopped up onto the parapet and cast a couple of spells. The first magnified the area that Tom was leading his troops into, the second allowed those downstairs and hidden to see what was happening.
“Tom, what a pleasant surprise,” Harry called. He could see Voldemort stop, and then look up, before he cast a Sonorus spell.
“Harry, so sorry I’m early, but I do like to see old friends. Are you ready to die?”
“I’m afraid not. Why don’t you run away like the coward you are, give up the Dark Tosser malarkey, and we can all get on with our lives?”
“Don’t call me that,” Voldemort roared. “This is the day that you die, just like your parents.”
Harry looked down as an Mmail appeared from Fred. He read it quickly and shrugged. “Yeah?” he taunted, “Well, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.”
Voldemort looked both taken aback and quite puzzled at what Harry had shouted at him.
“Pull!” George shouted. Harry turned to see Arthur pull the lever releasing the arm of the trebuchet. An object flew high into the sky, mooing loudly. As everyone watched it with a sense of surreal disbelief, it landed in the middle of the Death Eaters, crushing one completely.
“George,” Harry said slowly, “did you just hurl a large, live cow at the Death Eaters?”
George nodded and looked very pleased with himself. “It’s a Muggle tradition,” he explained solemnly. “All battles begin with taunting and a cow hurled by trebuchet.”
Harry stared at him for a long moment. “And just who, pray tell, told you that?”
“Hermione, of course! We figured we’d insult the Dark Tosser by doing things the Muggle way, so we asked her for details. She was great! She made us visual guides and everything.”
“Was it a real cow?”
George assumed an injured look. “Of course not! That wouldn’t be fair to the cow! We Transfigured one of Neville’s Giant Devil’s Snares, just in case somebody cast a Finite Incantatem on it.”
“Get back downstairs, you lunatic,” Harry said, trying to hide his laughter.
“Yes, my general,” George saluted before vanishing.
Harry shook his head and grinned, wondering how long it would be before the Weasley twins found out they’d been pranked by the least likely person in Hogwarts.
Harry turned back to the rampant and pretended to be surprised. “Are you still here?” he demanded of Voldemort.
Voldemort appeared to be hopping mad, and a team of Death Eaters were dismantling the wards that were stopping them. They succeeded, and ran forward, only to hit another hidden one. A few random cries of “Ni!” drifted down from the children on the ramparts.
“Your childish wards won’t be able to stop us for long,” Voldemort snarled. “We know your plans, and we know that you’re not ready.”
Harry looked away from Voldemort. “Close the trap,” he ordered.
“Wards are up,” came Bill’s replies a few seconds later.
“About that, Tom,” Harry said. “You see, your death today is about as likely as Bellatrix and Narcissa divorcing their husbands and joining me.”
Voldemort smirked, until two female voices shouted, “Avada Kedavra!” Lucius Malfoy and Rodolphus Lestrange fell to the ground, extremely dead. Bellatrix activated her Mmail Portkey immediately. Narcissa paused momentarily to flatten Marcus Flint with a Blasting Curse and then followed suit. Both women vanished before any of the Death Eaters knew what was going on, appearing next to Harry.
Harry reached out and grabbed Bellatrix’s arm. Without hesitation, or with any real gentleness, he launched himself into the Dark Mark and quickly severed all ties she had to Voldemort.
Bellatrix screamed and fell to the floor. “Damn,” she muttered. “You certainly pack a punch,” she said with smirk as she climbed back to her feet. She cast a Sonorus charm. “Consider this my resignation, you half-blood bastard,” she yelled. “I’m going to dance on your grave, you misogynistic prick.”
Voldemort’s face glowed molten red as he screamed in rage.
Narcissa cast her own Sonorus charm. “Did you really think I was going to be a whore for you, you disgusting, ignorant, illiterate, illegitimate son of a goat? The dance lessons were Harry’s idea, and he played you like the monkey you are. And believe me, when you’re decomposing, doing something useful for the first time, I shall join my sister in dancing on your grave!”
“Dementors, attack,” Voldemort ordered, sweeping his hand forward. The Dementors came from behind the Death Eaters, gliding forward in their typical eerie manner.
“I didn’t know they were coming,” Bellatrix said apologetically. “Want me to go down there and scare ‘em away?”
Harry looked at her and groaned. “Oh Merlin, you’re going through that ‘I’ve just been released from Voldemort’ high, aren’t you?”
She winked at him.
“Go find your boyfriend, and make sure he survives,” he ordered.
She grinned and dashed away. “What about me?” Narcissa asked.
Harry indicated his friends. “You’re with them.”
She nodded and walked over to stand next to Ginny. “I think you’re the first girl who’s ever had her boyfriend arrange a complete revolution just so he can get some time to get her naked.”
Ginny laughed, and offered her hand. “It’s nice to meet you in person. Harry’s actually said some nice things about you.”
Narcissa shook her hand. “Well, we can catch up later, but for now, we have some Dementors to deal with.”
“Okay guys, let’s round ‘em up. Expecto Patronum!” Harry’s Patronus rocketed out of his hand like it had been shot from a gun and then floated down to the ground. It was soon joined by Ginny’s wolf, Hermione’s otter, and Ron’s Jack Russell terrier. There was another incantation and a large bear joined the others.
Harry looked at Narcissa, who shrugged.
“I am a Black,” she pointed out.
The five Patronuses seemed to have no problem rounding up all the Dementors, and because they were so far away, the depressing effect didn’t reach them.
“Youngling, leave the soulless ones to us,” Gwyneth’s voice echoed in his ear.
“Prepare yourselves,” Harry ordered.
“For what?” Narcissa asked.
“Another of Harry’s little surprises,” Ginny replied cheerfully.
“There they are,” Harry called, pointing to the east. With sunlight glinting on their wings, a flight of dragons swooped toward Hogwarts. There was an overwhelming feeling of freedom and triumph coming from the dragons. Gwyneth was in the lead, with Charlie and Crenth flying next to her. They dived down, and as one, seemed to take a deep breath, before they exhaled, launching a torrent of fire straight at the Dementors.
There was an unholy scream of agony, and a black cloud of smoke slowly rose toward the heavens. The dragons turned, still in perfect formation, and flew straight through it, breaking it up.
The five Patronuses on the floor padded around silently as they looked at each other, and then slowly faded out of existence.
Gwyneth flew around and perched on the battlements near Harry.
“Perfect timing,” Harry told her.
She smirked and nudged him firmly. “It’s going to take us a while to recharge,” she said silently.
Voldemort looked stunned at the ease in which his secret force had been decimated. “Werewolves, attack,” he called.
The werewolves started to run toward the castle, and then vanished suddenly.
“Oh,” Harry said, as he looked at Tom. “Did I forget to mention that the werewolves work for me as well? I am getting forgetful in my old age.”
“Oh my,” Narcissa murmured, looking down at the field. “Voldemort is upset, isn’t he?”
“This will only delay your death,” Voldemort roared. “Trolls, Banshees, Red Caps and Vampires, attack!”
As one body, nearly a thousand Dark creatures of various sorts started their charge toward the doors of Hogwarts.
Ron pulled out his wand and set off a firework high into the sky. From behind him, a cheer went up as Arthur launched the first barrage of caltrops into the air. They fell, spread over a large expanse of grass, in front of the charging creatures.
Another firework from Ron, and a hail of arrows came out from the Forbidden Forest, landing in the middle of the charging army.
As the banshees moved to the front, Ron cast a spell, and ten students, led by Neville, ran out from the castle. They were wearing thick ear muffs. Each carried a basket, from which they pulled out mandrakes. The plants immediately started to scream – the noise unearthly and inhumane, even from the distance that Harry and the others were.
The banshees shrieked and tried to stop, only to be trampled from behind by the Red Caps.
“Get out of there, now,” Harry’s voice rang out. The students turned and sprinted back to Hogwarts, stuffing the mandrakes back into the baskets as they ran.
The Red Caps were the first to meet the ever-thickening zone of caltrops, as Arthur launched more and more into the sky. They seemed to ignore them – right until they stepped on them. Then they screamed in agony and started to attack each other.
It was absolute carnage, and the vampires and trolls had no chance as their erstwhile allies turned on them.
“What was Snape’s potion?” Harry asked curiously as they watched Voldemort’s forces enthusiastically attack each other.
“Bloodlust mixed with confounding and hallucinogenic potions,” Arthur replied as he watched the carnage. “They have no idea who they are fighting at the moment.”
“Voldemort doesn’t seem to know what to do,” Ron noted.
“He’s not used to surprises,” Narcissa said. “He’s used to everyone bowing and scraping to him. This is the first time he’s met organised resistance, and the first time that he hasn’t had complete control over a situation. The Death Eaters are going to be more of a handful than these beasts, though.”
“Arthur, send up another load of caltrops, see if you can land them on the remaining fighters.”
“Aye, Harry,” Arthur replied and sent up another load. “That was the last batch.”
“I know your tricks, Potter,” Voldemort shouted. “You might have dealt with those mindless beasts, but your dragons can’t help you with their fire anymore, and now you are going to face the might of my finest soldiers. Enjoy your last few moments alive.”
From down at the bottom of the castle, the faint sounds of music started. Harry blinked in surprise before he started to laugh. The music slowly gained in volume as first one person, then another, cast a Sonorus spell.
Harry turned back to face the Dark Lord and prepared to join in.
“Harry, what’s going on?” Hermione asked.
“The twins haven’t finished with Voldemort yet,” Harry whispered, his head turned away from Voldemort. He took a deep breath, and with the backup of a thousand combined voices, he started to sing.
Oh Tommy boy, the wands, the wands are calling
From lake to lake, and down the old schools side
The summer’s gone, and all your men are dying
‘Tis you, ‘tis you must go and I must bide.
“That’s awful,” Hermione groaned.
“So you don’t want to hear the rest of the lyrics?”
“I do,” Narcissa murmured. “I’ve never seen Voldemort quite that shade of puce before.”
“Mm. Looks like he’s been taking lessons from my Uncle Vernon,” Harry muttered before starting the next verse.
And if you flee, when all your men are dying
And I’m not dead, as dead you soon will be
I’ll come and find the place where you are lying
And kneel and say a curse or two from me.
“Did I ever mention that I love my brothers?” Ginny asked. “They were drunk the first time they sung this.”
“I’m not surprised,” Hermione sighed. “You’d have to be drunk to butcher ‘O Danny Boy’ like this. But,” she said after a brief pause, looking down, “I’ve never seen anyone be literally hopping mad before. Give me those lyrics.”
And you shall hear, tho’ soft I tread about me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll not fail to tell me that you hate me
And you will rot in Hell for all eternity.
“Prepare to die, all of you!” Voldemort screamed, as spittle flew haphazardly from his mouth. The Dark Lord raised his arms, and with a huge blast of magic, every caltrop was blown apart, and every ward between the Death Eaters and Hogwarts was destroyed.
“Oh bugger,” Harry groaned, before he cancelled the Sonorus spell and jumped off the parapet.
Voldemort went down on one knee, exhausted from the massive expenditure of magic. “Attack!” he ordered his Death Eaters.
“Bugger?” Narcissa asked, ignoring the cheers from the Death Eaters below.
Ron smirked at her. “That was for the Dark Tosser’s benefit. The people downstairs aren’t just here for their musical ability.”
“Which is probably a good thing,” Narcissa murmured. “Hogwarts is not known for singing lessons.”
“Well, Miss Black,” Ron said, “a few weeks ago I’d be either trying to curse you or be swearing that you’re evil because you’re Draco’s mother, but I’ve been forced to grow up a little, and even I can see how you’ve helped Harry. So, welcome to Hogwarts. I hope you enjoy your stay.”
Narcissa smiled faintly. “Thank you, Mr Weasley. And congratulations on your brother’s new job.”
Ron nodded. “This is my girlfriend and, I hope, my future wife, Hermione Granger.”
Narcissa looked at her for a long moment, and then took a deep breath. “I’ve heard so much about you. We probably have a lot to talk about. Would you be willing to help me learn what it’s like to come into our world?”
“I would be delighted, Miss Black.”
Harry smiled. “Okay, Ron, Hermione, you two stay up here and direct things – listen for my prompts before you start activating the traps. Ginny, Narcissa, get downstairs and join the others. Arthur, keep the young ones up here, it’s going to get messy down there.”
“What about you?” Ginny asked.
Harry leaned over and kissed her quickly. He grinned at Gwyneth before he looked back at Ginny. “I’m bait,” he said with a grin as he jumped onto the parapet, and back-flipped off.
Narcissa jumped forward and stared down. “I thought he was a wolf?” she asked in a stunned voice.
“He is,” Ginny said, “and a hawk as well. Now come on, we don’t want to miss the start of the dance.”
Harry swooped down and came to the stop in front of the great doors. The Death Eaters were still a goodly distance away as they ran toward him past the corpses of the dead Dark creatures, doing in the occasional still-rampaging Red Cap as they went.
“Grass,” he ordered quietly.
There were screams of agony as the first of the traps was popped. Minerva’s Spellwork turned the grass to needle-sharp glass. Harry gulped as his enhanced eyesight allowed him to pick up what happened when the front line of Death Eaters tripped and fell face first onto it.
“Explosions,” he whispered.
Four discs exploded from the ground and hovered, waist high. With a devastating suddenness they exploded, flinging potion-coated shrapnel at the invading wizards, who had stopped to deal with the glass.
The effect was devastating, as scores of Death Eaters were, literally, cut down. Harry could hear the sounds of panic from them, but Voldemort’s voice kept them attacking. A cry went up, saying that they were trapped, but they had no escape. They had to keep going. Any sign of desertion was met with a Killing Curse from Voldemort.
A number of Death Eaters cast ‘Finite Incantatem’ to take care of the grass. In the wash of magic, the cow turned back into a giant Devil’s Snare, which started rolling towards Voldemort like a malevolent tumbleweed, forcing the Dark Lord to divert his attention for a few critical moments.
“Ron, Hermione, take over the traps now. Would everyone else like to join me?”
The doors to Hogwarts swung open, and the werewolves streamed out, going to the far right. After them came the Aurors, going to the left. In absolute perfect unison, all two hundred and eleven goblins, Mackrack and Blutwood at the fore, marched out to take the centre. Finally, behind the goblins, came the Hogwarts and Beauxbatons students, all proudly wearing their school uniforms.
“We were wondering when you were going to allow us to join you,” Blutwood grunted. “We were getting worried that you were going to kill them all before we could get any.”
Harry smiled. “Don’t worry – there’s plenty for everybody.”
He cast another Sonorus spell, keeping an eye on the Death Eaters.
“This is it, my friends,” he said, his voice echoing around his allies. “Remember your training, trust the people behind us to do their jobs, do not get killed, and remember that we are fighting for our dream, we are fighting for our future, and we will not be defeated.
“This is the greatest army that has been assembled for nearly a thousand years. Each group is capable on its own, but together, as a team, we are unbeatable. So raise your weapons, face the enemy, and attack. Attack for your families, attack for your future, attack for the freedom they are trying to take away. Everything we have practised for is standing before us, and at the end is a party that you will never forget.”
Harry called his sword and raised it aloft. It started to glow with its own light as he poured his magic into it. “Riddle, I’m coming for you,” he yelled. “Charge!”
Harry started to run, his sword held aloft like a beacon, and behind him, the others started to run as well.
Up ahead of him, Ron and Hermione were activating the traps left, right, and centre. The combined intellect of some of the most Machiavellian minds ever to grace Hogwarts wreaked havoc and chaos in the attackers.
Death Eaters found themselves transformed into small animals that were promptly squished by their comrades. Some found themselves completely distracted as hexes and jinxes were cast on them, and they were soon cut down. Others found themselves attacking their own comrades.
“Avada Kedavra!” The first offensive spell from the Death Eaters was cast directly at Harry. He didn’t stop, or even do anything to protect himself. From behind him there was a shout, and a wall appeared in front of him. It exploded as the curse hit it, allowing Harry to run through the dust. A Cruciatus curse was met with equal contempt.
And then Harry met the first Death Eater. His sword swung out as he jumped into the fray, foregoing magic, concentrating on fighting as hard and as fast as he could. He wasn’t particularly skilled with a sword, but he didn’t need to be.
The Death Eaters didn’t seem to know what to do with a physical attack from even one person. Then the werewolves and the goblins arrived, and they were totally outmatched. The werewolves were carrying all sorts of melee weapons that Remus had picked from the Hogwarts dungeons. The elves had made sure they were all razor-sharp and coated in some of Snape’s finest potions, ensuring that they were deadly. Remus was in the fore, with Sirius next to him, both using their wands to protect the werewolves as they hacked their way into the Death Eaters.
The goblins didn’t even slow down as their charge encountered the enemy. Screams of agony and pain marked their progress as their axes cleared a path. Blutwood and his friends seemed to be having a wonderful time as they hacked and chopped their way through the Death Eaters. They might not have had much magic, but their weapons were more than capable of diverting spells aimed at them, which the Death Eaters found to their cost when their own Killing Curses were reflected back to them.
There was a huge volley of curses from the massed Hogwarts and Beauxbatons students and Aurors. The Death Eaters, already stunned by the sheer savagery they faced, were unprepared for actual magic.
Harry could vaguely hear Ron and Hermione’s voices as they called forth more traps and directed the attacks. He absently cut down a couple of Death Eaters who were doing a waltz, before he leaped into the air and turned into his hawk, the sword becoming part of his form just like his armour. He swooped high so that he could look down on the whole field.
It was absolute carnage. A slaughter. The Death Eaters, unaccustomed to working together, unused to anyone standing up to them, and reliant primarily on two curses that simply weren’t working, all tried to escape, self-preservation at the fore of their minds.
Unfortunately for them, there was nowhere to go.
To the south, their way was blocked by the lake. To the north was the road to Hogsmeade and freedom, but to Harry’s surprise, a herd of centaurs, led by Firenze, had broken out of the forest and galloped across the grounds to block that route with a hail of arrows. Retreating toward Voldemort, of course, was certain death.
The fact that Voldemort’s right hand man, Lucius, had been cut down before the fight even started was another point against them. They had no one to lead them, and everyone remaining had seen what had happened to the creatures that had tried to attack a supposedly defenceless Hogwarts – utter annihilation.
Harry could see Voldemort look on from the back, and could feel that he was slowly regaining his power, though some of it had been wasted on the attacking Devil’s Snare, which had been blown to bits, the individual parts incinerated. The Dark Lord’s expression was that of absolute rage as he looked at his Death Eaters being overrun.
To the left, he watched as two Hogwarts students carried a wounded werewolf from the battle. They were weaponless and completely dependent on the students casting the shield spells behind them, but they didn’t appear to be worried.
Ginny, Blaise, Narcissa, Snape, Bellatrix and most of the Weasleys were fighting together, and while there were a lot of very good fighters out there, it was Bellatrix who was doing the most damage. Her power and ability was second to none as she tore through her former associates with a vengeance and viciousness that made Harry wince.
Some Aurors to his left looked like they were having some problems, but before he could react, Ron’s voice roared out orders and the Beauxbatons students moved to help them out.
There was a bellow of triumph from Hagrid as he came running around the castle from the north. Flying above him, in a wedge shape, were the Thestrals that Harry had asked Hagrid to train. The invisible skeleton horses rampaged through the Death Eaters, biting and kicking. The centaurs followed on the ground, not using their arrows for fear of hitting the thestrals, but corralling any Death Eaters that were trying to get away and throwing them back into play.
With the realisation that everything was under control, Harry flew down into the middle of the largest group of Death Eaters left and went back to the job at hand – destroying Death Eaters.
There was a loud thump next to him, as Gwyneth landed, squashing four Death Eaters. She roared and attacked; her claws and teeth truly terrifying.
“I surrender,” a Death Eater shouted as Harry aimed for him. Harry thought about killing him for a second, his wolf’s instincts calling out for more blood. He repressed the thought and stunned him, making the spell as obvious as possible. Seeing their salvation, more and more Death Eaters started to surrender, laying down their wands.
The surrenders were accepted, but those who didn’t surrender faced the Aurors, faced the Hogwarts students, faced the Werewolves, and faced the implacable Goblins. And those remaining faced Harry.
Some of the Death Eaters tried to fight, launching curse after curse. Harry could see out of the corner of his eye as members of his army were cut down and picked up by the stretcher bearers, who carried them back to Poppy and the other volunteer nurses.
A rumbling spell caused Harry to change directions. Voldemort had finally joined the fight.
That allowed some of the Death Eaters a clear chance to escape, but they soon ran into the wards that Bill and Fleur had erected to stop anyone escaping. Harry almost winced as they were decapitated. Bill had certainly given the wards teeth.
Harry reached Voldemort and batted a Killing Curse to one side, before kicking the Dark Lord in the stomach. He grabbed Voldemort’s head, and pulled it forward as he drove his knee straight in to Voldemort’s face.
Voldemort screamed and cursed Harry, throwing him high into the air. Harry changed into his hawk and dived back down, turning back as he landed in front of Voldemort. “Diffindo,” he chanted, and a wave of magic swept out of his hand.
Voldemort diverted the spell. “Accio glasses!”
Harry’s glasses flew from his face. “This will be fun,” Voldemort smirked as he cast the Cruciatus at Harry.
Harry swayed to one side. “Forgot my eyes were fixed, didn’t you?” he taunted as he threw a few spells back. “Severus makes some good potions. Did you honestly believe that you were going to be able to defeat me with an ‘Accio’?”
Voldemort blocked the spells easily and snarled. He was about to throw one back when a loud cheer went up.
Harry and Voldemort looked around, to find that there were no Death Eaters left. The attack had been completely routed. “That didn’t go very well, did it?” he asked Voldemort.
“Incompetents,” Voldemort sneered. “When you are dead, I’ll have no problem rebuilding them.”
“You’ve lost, Tom,” Harry told him, as nearly a thousand of the defenders gathered around.
“Not yet,” Voldemort sneered. “I’ll defeat you, and with you gone, it won’t be hard to take out these traitors.”
“Crucio!” Bellatrix’s voice rang out, and the curse hit Voldemort directly. “Yeah,” she crowed, as she danced on the spot. “Who’s the daddy now, bitch?!”
“Bellatrix raises a good point,” Narcissa agreed. “Crucio!”
The Dark Lord screamed in agony as he fell to the ground.
“Crucio!” Snape’s voice sneered. “See how you like it, you snake-faced bastard!”
“Is this a private party, or can anyone join in?” Sirius asked politely.
“Be our guest,” Severus replied cheerfully.
“Crucio!” Sirius shouted. “Come on, Remus, this is fun.”
Voldemort was shaking on the floor, his voice almost completely gone as he screamed his agony to the sky.
“Crucio,” this time the spell came from around a hundred different voices as every Auror present seemed to think that it was a good time to get some revenge in.
“You can’t die until I kill you,” Harry said as he approached the Dark Lord who was still writhing under all the curses. “I had so many plans on how to defeat you, so many moves I’ve practised. But the problem was that, despite thinking that you were an incompetent, I still over-estimated you. You are a nothing that only got where you have because of the incompetence of the people who were supposed to be fighting you.
“I was planning on fighting you in a duel, but as Bellatrix pointed out, why should I? You would not give me the same honour, so I’m not going to lose any sleep as you suffer your favourite curse.”
He pulled out his sword and stepped forward. With an almost anti-climatic sweep, Voldemort, all two pieces of him, breathed no more.
Gwyneth walked up to Harry and nudged him to one side. She opened her mouth, and the Dark Lord’s remains were incinerated.
“Thanks,” Harry said to her as a huge cheer went up. The grounds thronged with celebrating people, but Harry had to check on the injured before he could allow himself to join in. He headed for the field hospital that had been set up in the shadow of Hogwarts’ walls.
“Poppy, what’s the score?”
“Absolutely no deaths,” the school nurse said proudly. “I’ve had to re-attach a few limbs, but not much else. The children protecting against the Killing curse and the Cruciatus were outstanding! I’ve treated fifteen goblins and thirty-two werewolves as well. Everyone will be back on their feet shortly. We were well stocked with all the potions we needed, and our Hufflepuff team were brilliant at rescuing people.”
“All right!” Harry cheered, as Ginny, who had finally caught up with him, jumped on him and they kissed firmly.
“How many Death Eaters?” he asked, holding Ginny against him.
“We’ve got thirty-seven still alive, out of the nearly four hundred who attacked,” Percy said. “The courts are going to be very busy over the few weeks, and Severus has agreed to supply us with some extra Veritaserum.”
“Mackrack?” Harry called.
“You run an exhilarating fight, Harry,” Mackrack said. His father was next to him, polishing his axe with a Death Eater’s robe. “The way we like it. Complete and total annihilation of the enemy, with minimal damage to our own people.”
Harry grinned and then looked at the carnage staining the grass in front of Hogwarts.
“Oooh, time for us,” Fred said to George and Aberforth.
“Indeed it is,” Abe agreed. The three of them raised their wands, and the last of their toys were deployed. Spikes appeared from the ground and they started to spray a clear liquid. The liquid bubbled whenever it met blood and flesh, and after a few minutes, the grass was pristine again.
“I guess,” Harry said, as Arthur and Molly appeared with the younger kids, “that the only thing left is for me to say ‘Thanks’.” Gwyneth nudged him, and he reluctantly released his girlfriend and jumped onto the dragon so that he could be seen. “I said beforehand that this was the moment we had been waiting for, and we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We’ve defeated our enemy, and the next time a Dark Lord thinks about taking control, he will look at today and he will shudder!
“So, the only thing left to say is that in the kitchen, the house elves have been preparing a feast the likes of which have never been seen. There is food for everyone, drinks for all – and you can all invite your families to come and join in!”
There was a huge cheer from Harry’s army.
“Albus, can you invite the Centaurs to join us? I’m going to get our refugees and the rest of the Beauxbatons people. Madame Maxime, will you mind if I bring everyone?”
“Of course not,” she said, a proud look on her face as she surveyed her own students. “This is the time for a real party!”
“Minerva, Filius, Blaise, Susan, Padma, Parvati, Lavender, Luna, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and all the Weasleys and partners, can you create everything we’ll need?”
“No problem, Harry,” Ginny said happily.
“Abe, Fred, George, go get the Butterbeer.” There was another cheer as they nodded in agreement.
“Hagrid, can you get some cows for our dragon friends?”
“’Course I can, Harry!”
“Everyone else, invite your partners, get out of uniform, and prepare for a party we’ll never forget!”
There was another roar as Harry finished and he vanished from Gwyneth’s back. He appeared at Beauxbatons, where all the students were talking softly, worried looks on their faces.
“You won!” Dudley shouted as soon as he saw Harry.
Harry grinned and nodded.
“Woohoo!” Sheryl yelled, as she started to celebrate wildly, before she grabbed Dudley and kissed him passionately. The cheer was taken up by the others. Gabrielle and Jenny both ran up to Harry and hugged him.
“Come on,” Harry shouted, Gabrielle translating next to him. “We’ve got a party going on at Hogwarts and you’re all invited!”
There was another cheer as Harry made another rope Portkey.
Back at Hogwarts, the party was already in full swing, having taken over the Great Hall, the entry hall, and several of the courtyards for the centaurs, who didn’t feel comfortable indoors. The humans, werewolves and goblins were mingling freely, as were the French and English students. Harry smiled widely; this was exactly what he had wanted.
As he walked around, he started to hear the stories of the heroism that he had missed during his fight. How Albus and Minerva had fought as a team to ensure that no Hogwarts students were killed, how Filius and Pomona had directed the students responsible for the shield charms, and had ensured that they kept their focus. How Arthur and Molly had shielded the younger students from the carnage.
The noise level was incredible as more and more people joined the party, either Apparating in, just outside the wards, or coming through a Floo opened in a fireplace just off the Main hall. He could see Luna talking to her father, describing the battle, while Colin Creevey was already showing off the pictures he had already developed.
Gwyneth was with Charlie, Crenth and Hagrid, and Hagrid looked like every dream he had ever had had come true at once.
He walked over and hugged each of his friends, one by one, to be hugged back in an exuberant manner.
He found Narcissa talking to Draco and Terry. “Potter,” Draco called. “Thanks.”
Harry nodded at him, clapped Terry on the back. Then he hugged Narcissa. “You’re not bad, for a pureblood.”
Narcissa laughed. “Albus has your sense of humour,” she told him.
“He offered me a position as the Muggle Studies professor next year. Professor Thornwhistle is retiring.”
Harry blinked at her. “Are you going to take it?”
She nodded slowly. “It would certainly force me to examine all my prejudices closely, and I’ll have almost a year to prepare. I told him that as long as I get Hermione as an assistant, I’d do it. Besides, someone once told me that living off your ancestors’ accumulated wealth was somewhat despicable.”
Harry smiled at her. “Good,” he leaned in closer and whispered, “and we still have our lessons to finish.”
Narcissa kissed him on the cheek. “We do indeed, Benjamin.”
“Pansy’s dead, if you’re wondering,” Draco drawled.
Harry looked at him. “Oh?”
“Bitch tried to attack Ter in the back.”
“She probably blamed me for turning you gay,” Terry pointed out.
“You didn’t turn me gay, I always was.”
Harry looked at Narcissa, as the two boys bantered while holding hands. She rolled her eyes at him and winked.
Harry bowed to her and turned, looking for Bellatrix. He couldn’t see her, so he wandered into Hogwarts.
Snape was leaning against a wall, as he watched Bellatrix and Neville.
“You ruined my life,” Neville shouted.
“I did a lot of that to a lot of people,” Bellatrix agreed. “What are you expecting to get out of this? An apology? Sure, I regret what I did. I’d like to pretend that it was the Dark Mark that made me do it, but it wasn’t. I was doing what I thought was right. I was wrong.”
Neville growled and punched her.
Bellatrix dropped to the floor, but was soon back on her feet, her wand in her hand. Neville stared at her, his eyes practically glowing with wrath. “You’re not worth it,” he finally said. “I’m not going to spend the rest of my life hating someone like you. You helped save my friends’ lives, so you walk. But I hope we never meet again.” Neville nodded to Snape and walked toward Harry.
He looked at Harry, and then offered his hand. “You did the right thing; it just hurt. I’m sorry.”
Harry took it and shook it. “I’m not the only one who has grown up, Neville Longbottom.”
Neville nodded. “It happens to the best of us.”
Harry clapped him on the back, before he walked over to Snape. “Do you take responsibility for her?”
Snape sighed and nodded.
“Bellatrix, your actions have earned you your freedom, or perhaps your damnation.” He cast a spell on her, and then on Snape. “Your magic is now under Serverus’ control,” he said. “Look after him.”
Bellatrix slowly smiled. “Thank you,” she whispered, before pouncing on Snape and kissing him senseless. There were cries of “Eeewwww!” from the nearest groups of students, who quickly found other places to be. The sight of Snape being snogged was just too much for most of them.
Harry smirked and turned back to Neville. “Snape’s loved her for a long time, and if she even thinks of being bad, Snape can cut off her magic now. And I trust him to make the right decision.”
Neville nodded. “I still wish she was dead,” he confessed.
“Me, too,” Harry sighed. “But we can’t have everything. Now, let’s go back to the party, and you can finally tell Hannah you like her.”
Neville flushed bright red.
Hours later, the party was still going strong, but Harry no longer cared. He’d checked to make sure everyone was alive and danced with a few people, including a delirious Orla, a delighted Jenny and a radiant Gabrielle. He’d talked to Luna’s dad and deciphered his annoying and alienating alliteration, and spent time with all his friends and family.
As far as he was concerned, his job was officially over now.
From: Harry James Potter
To: Weasleys, Future Weasleys, Hogwarts Staff, Close Friends, my Godfather, Hagrid, Werewolves, Goblins, Students, Abe & Everyone else I can think of
For the past month, I’ve practically taken control of the nation in one way or another. I’ve usurped power left, right, and centre. I’ve forced some of my alpha instincts to the fore to ensure that Voldemort wouldn’t stand a chance.
And he didn’t. He is now thoroughly dead, with the only regret being that we didn’t leave enough for Narcissa and Bellatrix to do their victory dance on.
So, I hereby cede control of Hogwarts back to Albus, retract my claim to alpha status of the werewolves, and remove my claws from Percy.
I’m sixteen years old. What I want from the next two years is to spend quality time with my girlfriend, teach some decent defence lessons to the Hogwarts students, spend a term in Beauxbatons with Madame Maxime and Gabrielle, learn some new spells for fun, and generally be a teenager again.
That means that I won’t be available to pull your irons out of the fire.
Fred, George, and Abe: I’m happy to do some promotional stuff, but it will be up to you guys to manage your business.
Percy: you know what the Ministry needs, so do it – and remember that your brothers will be mocking your every move, so it won’t go to your head.
Molly and Arthur: thanks for all your help.
Lavender, Parvati and Blaise: we can still talk about your new shops; just don’t expect me to make any decisions for you. I’m here for advice only.
If anyone else is thinking of a new business, study the amount of work that Blaise put in; that’s the sort of professionalism I’ll be expecting in a proposal.
It’s been an incredibly fun few weeks, full of drama, fighting, and more time in Poppy’s care than I wanted. The only time I want to see her now should be for lessons in healing people, not learning new ways to kill them.
Remus, Sirius, that means you two are again nominally in charge of me. Of course, you should remember that I am a stupidly powerful wizard who just took out Voldemort and I am an assistant professor – just a friendly warning.
Oh, and Remus, as a close friend of yours – that moustache of yours, it REALLY makes it seem like you prefer the company of other men, if you get my drift.
As general statement: No, I’m not going to talk to the press, nor am I going to give autographs, pose for chocolate frog cards, join the Cannons, or utilise what just happened in any other way. I am going to snog the hell out of my girlfriend, play Quidditch and study.
Thank you all for letting me take control when I needed to, and thank you for trusting me despite the fact that I was flying by the seat of my trousers half the time.
I’m prouder than I can say of every single one of you who stood up and was counted when it was needed. We’ve sent a message that will reverberate throughout history – that if a few strong people stand up and are counted when times are dark, the Dark Tossers will simply have no chance.
With profound thanks,
This is Harry James Potter signing off and going back to being Harry, a somewhat normal teenager.
Audaces fortuna juvat The final taunt to Voldemort: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries
Harry stalked through the dance floor, and grabbed Ginny, as the whole room seemed to light up with Mmail notifications.
“Hey,” she said, kissing him soundly.
“I need some help.”
“Trousers are itchy.”
Ginny looked confused, before she slowly blushed. “Really?”
He nodded and smiled at her. “Abso-bloody-lutely, love.”
Ginny grinned and took his hand, and dragged him away from the party, heading straight toward his room.
From: Hermione Granger
To: Ginny Weasley
Subject: Silencing Charms
Ginny, please find attached some very powerful silencing charms.
Please use them!
A disturbed Hermione
Subject: Current Harry and Ginny Scorecard
I went to Harry’s room to fetch my dress shoes, but the door was charmed shut with a most amazing combination of spells. For reasons unknown, a silencing spell was not among them, which let me hear the most amazing collection of sounds.
Here’s the current count:
18 religious declarations
16 exhortations for more
15 expletive based encouragements
14 non-verbal sounds
8 verified completions
And the night is still young…
We need to get Professor Dumbledore to arrange for Harry to teach some sex education classes for the other guys.
To: Professor Snape
Cc: My friends
Subject: Potion for Ginny
Dear Professor Snape,
Please can you make a voice restoration potion for Ginny, it sounds like she is going to need it.
The Truth Is Out There
To: Big sister
Subject: What Harry and Ginny are doing.
It certainly sounds like a lot of fun. Can I try it with Harry next?
To: Little sister
Subject: Re: What Harry and Ginny are doing.
I’ll explain what they’re doing when you’re (much) older, I promise. You wouldn’t want to do that, trust me.
Subject: Re: What Harry and Ginny are doing
Fleur, my lovely sister, please allow me to point out that, just like you, I am Veela and, as such, know exactly what they are doing…
Hence my question.
To: Little and YOUNG sister
Subject: Re: What Harry and Ginny are doing
In that case.
HELL NO! NOT WITH HARRY, AND NOT WITH ANYONE ELSE UNTIL YOU’RE THIRTY!
Fleur - Your BIG sister who knows ALL the Veela secrets!
From: The prettier sister
To: The Ugly Sister
Subject: Re: What Harry and Ginny are doing
You do know that he’s my God, right? Never mind defeating Voldemort, the man’s a machine!
Albus Dumbledore sat in his office, his feet on his desk, and a glass of Butterbeer in his hand. Today had been a wonderful end to a wonderful week. He could feel the stress caused by Voldemort falling away from him.
He looked at the shelf in front of him and smiled at the destroyed ornaments that held pride of place: an old ring, a diary, a locket, a cup, Wormtail’s silver hand, and the newest piece, a snake’s head. His Order had managed to find each and every one.
He soon turned away. Tomorrow was another day, and he suspected the party was going to continue through most of it. His school was full of life, full of people who had gathered around one extraordinary boy – a boy who had managed to find allies and arranged for Voldemort to reveal his own incompetence.
In the end, it had been easy, but that was probably the point. Voldemort was only ever as dangerous as the world allowed him to be – and once the world stood up and took notice, or at least the parts of the world that counted, he was dispatched as he should have been many years before.
He was incredibly proud of Harry, and was looking forward to another day of talking about what had happened and hearing about how remarkable his students truly were.
He didn’t think he would have been able to be any prouder of Harry, until he had read the boy’s last Mmail. To give up so much power spoke volumes for Harry’s character, and his pride in Harry had increased another notch.
He was quite sure that Harry was going to be planning pranks, and generally being a teenager, and he found himself looking forward to them immensely.
He paused as a faint sound drifted through his ceiling. He really needed to talk to his new professor about silencing charms!
Subject: That “Talk” you gave Harry.
All is forgiven.
Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Audaces fortuna juvat
After far too many years’ work, we are finally at the end of this story, and before anyone asks, there will quite definitely NOT be a sequel. It was incredibly hard for me to write this final part, and it took up far too much of my time and my life. But it is now done, and I’m pretty happy with it.
There have been a lot of people who have helped with this story over the years, betas who have come and gone, and some who have stuck with me all the way. I thank each and every one that has helped for their invaluable contribution in making this my most popular story.
I do feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that this story is over and done with, and it shows that I do complete stories, even if it does take a ridiculous time to do so.
I always said that this would be my last mega chapter, and I’m living up to that. Even the end of Hope is only looking like it will be 80-90 pages – a much more approachable feat.
This is the last outstanding Harry/Ginny fic I will be dealing with. Is it the last H/G fic I’ll be writing? Who knows? I have no plans for any that I’m going to write, but if an original idea hits me, then it is possible.
Harry’s Last Mmail
So, Harry has made a last bid for being a teenager. Is he going to be successful? That’s for you to come to your own conclusion.
Me? I don’t think so. You can’t stop being an Alpha, and Percy isn’t going to stop running things by Harry. In fact, I think that he’ll end running things from the shadows, while he sorts out the problems he feels are holding society back.
There are 17 sickles to the galleon and Harry paid 2 sickles for a bottle of butterbeer.
A barrel can hold 248 pints, and if the average bottle is half a pint, that’s 496 bottles, which comes in at 992 sickles, or 58.35 galleons at retail. Now, when I worked retail, the store worked on a 5% profit margin, once all costs were dealt with. The costs here and negligible as a commercial Floo connection takes care of the delivery, and this is the Wizarding world, so we’ll factor in a 10% profit margin and 10% cost (staff, premises, tax) so they’ll be paying 793 sickles per barrel, or 46 Galleons.
Butterbeer is, to all intents and purposes, alcohol free, so has a VAT at 5%, which means that 9.2 of those Galleons go to the Ministry. Each barrel costs around 8 Galleons in raw materials, and a further 8 is spent in making it, leaving a profit of approx 21 galleons per barrel, so paying 2.5% of that as a fixed cost to the Goblin help is a good idea. With 21 galleons a barrel profit, and a minimum order of ten barrels a go, and a population that can support a huge bureaucratic Ministry and a professional Sports League, and with WWW having a complete lock on the sale of the improved Butterbeer, as marketed by the Boy Who Lived, it really is a licence to print money. Six orders would give more profit than Harry used to set up the WWW in the first place.
Butterbeer was Malfoy’s, and through him, Voldemort’s main source of income, so it was a huge blow for them to lose it.
Snape being kissed by Ginny:
The entire Snape arc, started what, nearly three(?) years ago, was to get to that scene – maybe a little anti-climatic, but it was the only reason I made him a good character in the first place. Of course, he grew to be much more important along the way, but when I had him switch sides and call Draco gay, it was with this idea in mind.
I thought that people would get who the spy was a long time ago. It was only when no one guessed that I started to realise that it was being built up higher than I meant it to be. It was only a bit of misdirection in my part. If I’d said, “Fudge received a bribe on the same day that Pettigrew was taken away to be kissed,” everyone would have got it instantly. As I read some of the theories over who it could be (from Seamus to House Elves, from Harry himself to sentient plants) I was amused, and some of them I actually wanted to use – but I stuck to my original plan, and used good ol’ Wormtail, who is still in solitary confinement at the bottom of a large pit, slowly going insane, with only the shrieks of Fudge’s toad to comfort him when the night terrors start.
Neville and Harry:
Harry’s last line to Neville about making a deal with the devil is another thing that has lasted in my head since the fourth part. I also wanted to point out that Bellatrix is a murdering bitch, despite her being with Snape. Without her, Voldemort’s forces would not have been decimated, so you have to ask if the thousands of lives she saved cancels out those that she killed.
Harry decided they did – just.
Bellatrix and Narcissa:
Bellatrix was always going to be the spy – Narcissa was a late addition who seemed to fit perfectly. She (and the dragons) was the only unplanned element in this story. Everything else, including Dean’s family and the Dursleys arriving at Hogwarts, was planned a long time ago, and it was difficult to keep all of that in place.
The whole “Graduate” thing was in part a response to a lot of fics that have Harry and Narcissa together, and a bit of a smile at the cliché. The Black sisters’ “divorce” of their husbands was put in place a long time ago. I’d feel sorry for Lucius, but…
The Château I used is Château Hôtel Savigny, and is just south of the Loire Valley, you can find more about it here: http://www.chsfrance.com/
The “Dark Tosser”
Okay, I’m sorry. I came up with the name because there were a lot of Americanisms around for Voldemort back when I started this, and I wanted something unique. I’d never seen it before (Note: That’s not to say it didn’t exist), and the idea of a lot of people who don’t know what a tosser is (synonym for masturbating) using it amused me. But now I see it all over the place – so I apologise for letting it loose. I cringe whenever I see it, and it was difficult to write in this chapter.
Amorous mode for the Marauders Map was useless, as Harry had his own room – as much as a cupboard might be fun, a bedroom with a large bed is a LOT more fun. The Halloween ball was too far in the future. I was also going to do something about the Spam mail in the previous part, but it didn’t really fit in anywhere.
Harry’s Disingenuous Referral of Hagrid’s Umbrella
In the last part (10 b) I had Harry make a reference to Hagrid using an umbrella. Of course, JKR’s implication was that Hagrid has his wand pieces in there, that allowed him to focus his magic. When Harry mentioned it like he did, he was playing on their arrogance – with the idea that if Hagrid didn’t need a wand, then surely there was no reason for them to need one. Harry was also working on the same idea that was one of the major themes – if he could do anything he didn’t know he couldn’t, why wouldn’t that work for them?
Mrs Robinson and Benjamin both come from The Graduate, of which I shamelessly stole some dialogue. The ‘V’ alliteration from the first part was from ‘V for Vendetta’. The taunting and the flying cow and the cries of “Ni!” are, of course, from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
TMW as a story (Written after the first two parts have been posted)
In some ways, this is quite a confused story; it doesn’t know whether it is a farce, a comedy or a serious bit of fiction. It has parts of all, some of the actions are wildly out of character (for example: Hermione’s spear tackle) but those were included because they were meant to be humorous. Some of it, like the dragon flight into space probably didn’t really fit as neatly as it could.
I don’t think that there was any other way to end this story, than the way I did. And an end it needs to be. I know a lot of people who like this story would like more, especially explaining the egalitarian ideals that Harry is now standing for. There are two reasons I won’t write it.
1) The early parts of this story are too old. The writing style utilised is too different to how I write now, and it doesn’t match up. I don’t use humour the same way that I once did.
2) It wouldn’t be a very interesting story.
TMW is finished, some people like it, some people dislike it, and some people rabidly hate it. I’m happy enough with the latter parts, slightly embarrassed by the earlier parts, but pleased that it is finished.
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