Harry Potter brushed his dark bushy
hair out of his eyes, revealing the lightning-bolt shaped scar on his
forehead. Vernon Dursley, his
disagreeably-tempered uncle, opened the door wider so Harry could fit his trunk
through the door. “And we’re never going
to see you again?” he asked, barely hiding his glee.
worry,” Harry replied. “I don’t plan on
ever coming back.”
make sure that Dumbly fellow knows we’re done with you. We don’t need any more of your kind stopping by here again.”
name, Harry drew up short involuntarily, contemplating the benefits of cursing
his uncle once and for all, but was successfully distracted by what was at the
end of the driveway.
“I didn’t think you’d have the guts to show
your face around me, Mundungus Fletcher.”
Harrry had to admit he wasn’t entirely sad to see the little thief,
especially considering the apoplectic noises his uncle was making behind him at
such a person being on his front lawn.
me come,” Mundungus muttered sullenly. “She said I had to apologize for sellin’
Sirius’ stuff, and I had to tell you who I sold it to.” He pulled a package from his robes. After Harry politely declined the jelly
baby, Mundungus pulled out another package, this one rather grimy. It also smelled faintly of Limburger
cheese. “In ‘ere is the address, ‘arry,
frowned at the lines. Where was
Hereford’s Revenge? Before he could ask
the thief, he heard a crack and Mundungus was gone. With a groan, he put the package into his trunk. If he had time later he’d look through the
list. They were only things, and he had
more important tasks to do now. He opened
Hedwig’s cage. “I’m going to Godric’s
Hollow, so you can meet up with me there, or just go to the Burrow. I’ll see you.” He watched as his owl took off.
Then, gripping the handle of his trunk tightly and picturing his uncle’s
horrified face at magic being performed on his front lawn, he Apparated.
hoped he would recognize it. He hadn’t
counted on it looking exactly as he’d imagined.
him were hollows and, every so often, pictures of Godric Gryffindor. There on the right was one of Godric at the
first Hogwarts founder’s day feast, arm around Salazar Slytherin. On the left was Godric at the 14th
National Warlocks Convention. And
beyond that – was it? Yes, it was. Godric Gryffindor, one-year-old, blissfully
naked on a bear rug.
how long it would take you to get here.”
whirled around. A young woman in purple
robes stood at a podium to his right.
Harry Potter, are you not?”
woman smiled. “Who I am is not
important. What is important is what I
have for you.” She drew a wand from her
robes, and Harry took a step back, fumbling for his own. “Don’t be silly,” she reprimanded. “If I wanted to hurt you I would have done
it as soon as you arrived. This is for
you.” She extended the wand, which was
made of wood so dark it was almost black.
belonged to Ravenclaw. I obtained it
through a series of harrowing events that I won’t bother you with now. But I believe you’ve been hoping to find
the wand from her in disbelief. He
looked at her more closely and realized, under her disguise, he knew who she
was. “Madam Bones?”
a little sadly. “I’d love to explain,
Harry, but you haven’t got time to sit around and chat. Suffice it to say, my death was faked so I
would be able to continue my attempts at finding and destroying He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s
Harry. Visit your parents for a
while.” She gestured to her left at a
rough pathway. “Maybe we’ll see each
other in the future. The best of luck.”
Before Harry could even say ‘thank
you,’ she was gone. Left behind was a
thick letter with his name on it. Harry
picked it up and placed it in his trunk with the wand, which he secured with a
heavy locking spell.
headed off into the rather wild woods that held his parents’ graves. He made a left around a particularly gnarled
tree and found a clearing with two piles of stones at the far end. He had found them.
hour was a very private one. Harry made
sure his eyes were dry when he left and returned to the empty podium. He Apparated to the Burrow, grimly reminded
that he was alone in this impossible quest.
At which point he was attacked by Fred and George Weasley. “Harry!” Fred shouted.
you weren’t going to make it!” George announced, slapping Harry on the
back. “’Bout time someone sane showed
up here. Mum’s driving us all crazy.”
grinned back at them. “Somehow I wonder
if it isn’t the other way around.” He
looked pointedly at The Weasleys’ Party in a Bag sticking out of Fred’s pocket
– Guaranteed to Liven Up Any Friendly Gathering in Three Seconds or Less.
laughed. “The woman thinks the
highlight of the evening before a man’s wedding should be the cake.”
Fred put in. “The woman is
dashed down the pathway to hug Harry.
“I’m so glad you made it!” she cried.
Ron strolled up behind her, a huge grin on his face.
everything you needed to, mate?”
jerked his head toward his trunk. “I’ll
tell you later.”
about you not going back to school,” Fred told him. “The real world is the best teacher we’ve always thought. Just don’t go talking about it too much
around Mum. She breaks things when Ron
my head,” he put in, patting the thatch of ginger hair atop said head
a moment to appreciate the laughter, and his steadfast friend who’d caused it,
but he knew that his mission couldn’t wait for the good times to end. The moment Ron closed the door on his room –
which they’d be sharing with Charlie – Harry took out the wand.
“Is that …
Hermione.” He handed it to her. “It’s Ravenclaw’s wand.” He sighed.
“One down, four to go.”
it around in his hands. He shrugged and
suddenly whacked it against his bedpost.
The strike made a deep thwack but the wand was undamaged and Ron, who
was vibrating himself, said, “Well that won’t do.”
pursed her lips, probably to keep from laughing rather than scolding, and
announced, “I’ve been thinking about that.”
She held up the wand. “It’s too
bad Dumbledore didn’t leave you any hints.
You managed to destroy the diary using the basilisk tooth. Maybe we need to find something as powerful
to destroy this.”
we going to find another basilisk tooth?” Ron asked.
sure that would do it this time. Maybe
a particularly powerful fire, to burn it?”
frowned. “I wouldn’t know where to
start looking for something like that.”
He pulled the package and the letter from his robes. “But I ran into Amelia Bones today, and she
gave me this.”
opened the letter, deciding to overlook Harry’s apparent dip into fantasy
(Madam Bones was dead!) to read:
Possible Methods of
1. Curses A -Z of Bonkaroo’s Nasty Hexes and Other Foul Spells for Avenging – Time-consuming, exhausting
and ultimately futile. But that
Bonkaroo is rather dashing.
2. Charms A-Z – Dear Lily tried everything
she knew, but nothing seemed to come close.
I’m just glad she didn’t bother to ask why I was trying to destroy this
blasted, hideous cup.
Energetic Jumping, Thrashing, or Whacking – Not so far, but highly therapeutic
4. Ask Really Nicely
– Obviously, I am fast
approaching desperation, but my mother always told me that fine manners could
win most things.
5. A Particularly
Powerful Fire – Success! The cup let out a blood-curdling scream
before it collapsed into a grey-looking gold.
Used anti-coagulating charm to restore blood to normal.
concluded with a scrawled Now,
where are the rest of these evil things?
passed it to Ron. Harry suddenly had a
huge grin on his face. He looked up
from the letter he had been reading through.
“I know where Slytherin’s locket is!”
He gave Hermione the letter.
“This is a list of what Mundungus Fletcher stole from Sirius’
house. Look at the third item.”
“Heavy silver locket, ‘S’ on the front.”
Harry. Are you sure?”
has been destroyed!” Ron said with a shout.
He was no less excited when Harry and Hermione brought him up to speed on
the second letter. “This is
brilliant! It’s like someone’s trying
to make this as easy as possible for you!”
snorted, locked the wand away again, opened the door – and stood face to face
with Ginny Weasley. “Yeah, easy,” he
Harry,” Ginny said calmly. “What’s
Ron replied. “Don’t you have a last
minute fitting or something?”
frowned. “I just wanted to let you
know—Luna, Neville, and I have decided we’re not going back to Hogwarts
either. Harry, if we can help you, we
want to. You know we can.”
looked into her sincere eyes and knew she meant it. “Thanks, Ginny. It means
a lot—it really does. But right now I
just want you all to be happy and enjoy tomorrow.”
Ginny said. “But don’t go getting
killed without me.” She turned and
Ron grunted. “Lemme see that letter,
Heresford’s Revenge?” Hermione asked.
sound like somewhere I want to go, anyhow.”
Ron turned over the letter. “On
the other hand …”
had been written on the back of a photocopied newspaper article. In faded type, the trio read about an
elderly Mr. Cratchett who lived in a house named Heresford’s Revenge. After winning the national lottery in
mid-age, he’d shut himself up in the isolated house, put a sign outside (“This
here’s Heresford’s Revenge, now go away.”), and was seen in town only on
Christmas and Banging Budgie Day (Don’t ask).
He was rumored to have an extremely
rare and extremely obliging disease nicknamed Magpie Madness. If it was shiny, Mr. Cratchett would buy
some really shiny pennies,” Ron muttered.
“I bet I could get a couple of pounds out of the codger.”
to focus on the problem at hand.”
Hermione looked anxiously at Harry.
“How are we going to get the locket back?”
stared at the picture grimly. “We’ll
find out tonight when we get there.”
hours later, after the sounds of the dinner had faded into the night to be
replaced with Charlie’s satisfied snores, Harry, Ron, and Hermione snuck
quietly out of the front door of the Burrow.
When they had crept far enough away that they wouldn’t be heard, they
Apparated to Heresford’s Revenge.
was large and creepy and the lawn looked like it hadn’t been cared for in
years. Ron tripped over a root in the
walkway to the front door and cursed loudly.
Hermione scolded. “How do you expect to
get in?” she asked Harry.
going to knock on the front door,” he announced firmly. “Got those shiny pennies still, Ron?” Ron rattled his pockets in response. Harry started up the massive front door and
grasped the silver knocker. It clanged
loudly and resonated through the yard.
expected the woman who opened the door.
“Can I help
you?” asked the tall, fiercely once-beautiful woman.
what are you doing here?” Harry croaked.
Lestrange frowned. “I live here. What are you
doing here?” She frowned even more
heavily, and the cold, cruel look he was used to began to steal into her
gleaming eyes. “Do I know you?”
“No, no, definitely not,” reassured
Ron. “We just came to … uh …”
hello to Mr. Cratchett,” put in Hermione.
“Is he in?”
suspicion didn’t leave her face, but she obligingly opened the door and lead
them down the crowded, dusty hallway.
gasped. “Oh, Harry!” She pointed to the
end of the hallway, where Slytherin’s locket was on display in a glass
case. A shaft of moonlight illuminated
it so it shined.
was eyeing them warily. “What do you
want with it?”
so beautiful,” Hermione answered carefully.
better not touch,” the dark-haired woman warned. “It’s mine.”
you think is up with her?” Ron mumbled to Harry. “Maybe she’s caught whatever the old codger’s got wrong in the
head?” Harry glanced back at
the woman. Loyal Death Eater,
unrepentant murderer, Bellatrix Lestrange was hopping from foot to foot and
flapping her arms. “Yep,” said Ron. “Completely bonkers.”
mean we shouldn’t be careful,” murmured Harry.
“I don’t like how she’s chomping her teeth.”
agreed Ron. “Get ready to grab it,
Harry.” Ron rummaged in his pocket,
pulled out his pennies, and pitched them down the hallway.
squealed and dashed after them. Harry
ripped the cover off the locket. An
alarm began sounding and Hermione clapped her hands over her ears. “We didn’t think of a security system!”
his wand. Bellatrix had stopped
gathering up the pennies and turned back to them. “Harry,” Ron said warily, “look out.”
Harry said, grasping the locket and pulling his wand with the other hand. He pointed to the door to their right. “We’ll go through there.”
worked well enough for the first few steps, but suddenly they were sliding down
the dark, rickety staircase. With a
crash and a painful thump (which was mostly drowned out by Ron’s high-pitched
“eeeeeee”) they landed on what felt like several metal cacti.
“Blimey . .
.” Surrounding them were heaps of treasure.
Jewels, gold, silver, in every shape and shade imaginable. “There must be millions in here—thousands
just under my bum.” And with no further
ado, Ron began to shovel handfuls into his pocket.
want a birthday present or not?”
hesitated. “Leave the jewels. They’re harder to sell.”
and continued what he was doing. Harry
looked around. “How do we get out of
stood up unsteadily on the piles of treasure.
She lit her wand and peered around.
There were no doors, only windows.
She ran to one and tried it but found it was locked.
of a scuffle reached them from above.
“My treasure!” a man’s voice shouted.
The three below spun around. An
old man with wild gray hair was pushing Bellatrix out of the way at the door.
treasure!” Bellatrix screeched. “It’s
is mad,” Hermione breathed.
outta here before we catch it,” Ron demanded.
quick Alohamora the windows flew open
and they hopped to the ground. Hermione
spun around and locked the windows behind them. Bellatrix threw herself against the glass, futilely scratching
her fingers against it as the old man began to count his coins behind her.
practiced ease, they Apparated back to the Burrow. All three paused, certain Mrs. Weasley would fall on them with
questions, rebukes, and commands. When
this failed to happen, Harry felt rather more disappointed than relieved.
Hermione said quietly. “Let’s try to
destroy these things.”
proved ridiculously easy. Crouching in
the Weasley shed, Hermione conjured one of her famous fires to smelt the locket
much as Madam Bones had. Harry cast Muffliato
to muffle the shrill shrieks it emanated as it melted. After sneaking back into the house to grab
the wand, Harry snapped it by wedging it between the lid of a trunk and jumping
on the protruding end. Hermione burnt
the rent pieces, too, just for good measure.
They sat there for a time as their hearing returned, suddenly at a loss
for action. A rooster called the hour.
almost time to be getting up,” remarked Ron tiredly.
it should be a relaxing day.” Hermione
rested her head on his shoulder.
dragged themselves into the kitchen, just as Mrs. Weasley was coming down the
stairs. “Are you three up already? Good.
You can start setting the table for breakfast. We’ve got a real horde waking up soon.” She cheerfully sashayed to the stove.
and banged his head on the table. Harry
felt if it wasn’t for the relief of knowing that only one horcrux remained he
would be right there with him.
started arriving soon afterward for the dawn ceremony. Lupin and Tonks, her hair a delicate shade
of blue for the occasion, were the first. Fred and George set up fireworks to greet the guests until Madam
Maxime nearly tumbled into the flowerbed in shock and Mr. Weasley made them
stop. Even Moody came, his eye spinning
madly in search of traps set by the twins.
Harry was happiest to see Hagrid arrive – even happier when he learned
Grawp had been left behind. “Nothn’
decent to wear,” the big fuzzy man explained.
Harry took this to be an understatement as Hagrid’s dressing judgment
was notoriously bad.
first time, Harry saw the ceremony site.
The old paddock where they’d practice Quidditch had been converted into
something bearing resemblance to a Roman amphitheater. Fleur, apparently, was a big fan of the
classical. She’d written in sparkling
letters “The Sacred Hallows,” and they sang a little as the guests walked
a seat next to Lupin as Bill and Fleur joined hands in front of Madam Maxime,
who was officiating. “Marriage ez what
brings us together today—” Lupin
suddenly started. A silvery fox had appeared
at his feet. Harry looked at it in
curiosity. It certainly looked like a
Patronus, but whom could it belong to?
Lupin rose suddenly and shot a silvery stream from his own wand in
several directions. He murmured in
Tonks’s ear, then turned to Harry.
“That was from Snape. I don’t
know what’s going to happen, but—”
had the chance to finish. Lupin was
frozen on the spot. Harry was almost
too distracted to realize he had been petrified as well. Bill and Fleur had just started exchanging
vows when, with a crack, Voldemort appeared in the middle of the dais.
that should have erupted were oddly silent.
Voldemort chuckled as his Death Eaters stepped through the crowd. “So sorry to arrive uninvited, but I have a
prophecy to fulfill.” His slitted gaze
fell on Harry. “Come here,
A flick of
his wand made Harry and his chair float up and over, landing with surreal
gentleness in front of Voldemort. With
another flick of his wand Voldemort sent Harry’s wand soaring away from him to
clatter to the ground some distance away.
A lackey – Wormtail, Harry realized – had already moved Fleur, Bill, and
Madame Maxime. As he no doubt loved,
Voldemort had center stage. “What,” he
hissed, “have you done with my horcruxes, you miserable boy?”
Wormtail flinch, horrified understanding dawning on his pointed face. Their eyes locked for just a moment.
“Speak!” Voldemort demanded.
suddenly found that he could. “We
destroyed them,” he explained calmly.
“There’s only one left.” And,
again, Harry looked at the man who’d been Peter Pettigrew, for in his arms he
clutched Nagini, the last prodigal portion of Voldemort’s soul.
Lord!” Just to make matters worse,
Draco Malfoy arrived on scene.
Voldemort hissed in anger at being interrupted. Draco tried to smile around his sneer. “I have brought you spies. I found them poking around the Riddle house
and captured them.” Harry’s heart sank
into his stomach. Draco had brought
Neville and Luna with him, bound and gagged.
Voldemort hissed, turning his gaze from Harry.
A dark form
stepped forward from the other Death Eaters.
“My Lord,” said a silky voice that grated at Harry’s nerves and made him
fight harder than ever against the spell that bound him, “I can deal with the
boy for you. Please, do not be
distracted.” Snape placed a hand on
Draco’s shoulder, and if Harry could have moved, even without his wand he would
have cursed him where he stood.
eyes flashed. “Be sure you do, Snape.” He turned back to Harry. “Destroyed?
How unfortunate for you. I might
have dispatched you quickly, but now I’ll take my time.”
wandless, there was nothing Harry could do to stop the Crucio curse. He couldn’t even cry out to release the pain
of it. In this long moment, Harry knew
that he wasn’t – and never would be – the equal of Voldemort in power. And he actually felt relieved. Released from the pressure to magically
triumph, Harry relaxed into knowing that his best truly was his best, even if
it meant he didn’t win.
was looking at Neville, mouthing words Harry couldn’t hear. Neville’s look of bewilderment suddenly set
into determination. Luna, standing
nearly on top of Neville, was studying the orange sky with polite interest, her
arms wiggling oddly.
Neville’s arms were free, the raggedly cut bond falling to the floor with as
much inspiring grace as Neville’s outstretched hand commanded. A wand leaped into it, and, with grim
satisfaction, Neville aimed at Wormtail, fired, and – the one time it mattered
most – hit his target. The snake Nagini
fell to the floor as a pile of ashes.
roar echoed fiercely throughout the amphitheater, but Harry recognized the
terror at the heart of it. A sense of
calm optimism filled his breast, even as Luna and Neville were taken down by a
Death Eater’s spell from somewhere behind Harry, even as Voldemort sent
Wormtail’s life from his tired body.
moment of Voldemort’s distraction, Harry found himself released from the Petrificus curse. He bolted toward the demented creature
without any idea of what he was going to do.
What could he do, except give his last breath to fighting the evil? He might die, but he would die like his
parents, and there couldn’t be anything more honorable than that.
of Apparition sounded, and Harry heard familiar voices shouting to each
other. McGonagall, Kingsley, and others
he had met at 12 Grimmauld Place had arrived.
The frozen statues came back to life and the Death Eaters were caught
off-guard as they found they were surrounded by enemies.
couldn’t find his wand as he charge toward Voldemort, but in the midst of the
confusion a snowy owl swooped overhead.
“Hedwig!” Harry reached up and
caught his wand as it fell from the bird’s grasp.
Voldemort saw Harry moving toward him, and reaching out he grasped Draco by the
collar and pulled him close. “Watch
out, Potter. Even without my horcruxes,
I am much more powerful than you are.
You cannot hope to defeat me.”
can or not, I’m still going to try.”
Lord gave a hollow laugh. “Would you
still, Potter, if I told you I would kill a friend if you tried to attack
me?” Out of the corner of his eye,
Harry could see Snape was very close by, ignoring the fray around him.
laughed back. “Malfoy is no friend of
“True.” The slit of a mouth opened in what Harry
assumed was an attempt at a smile.
“But, Potter, don’t you subscribe to the out-dated philosophy of that
fool, Dumbledore? Do you, Potter, truly
believe there is a love greater than any power I can wield? That mercy and forgiveness outmatch my
dropped into a surprisingly persuasive murmur.
“Don’t you have revenge in your heart, Harry? Don’t you hate this boy, this arrogant, stupid boy who’s hounded
your every step, who’s done all in his power to make you ridiculous? Don’t you want to hurt this boy, the reason
your beloved Dumbledore is dead? Would
you stop me from killing him?”
pulled Draco more tightly against him, his wand pressing painfully at his
throat. Harry watched Draco wince with
detached fascination. The number of
times Harry’d longed to damage Draco came to surface in a bubble of resentment
him to death? Harry looked into Draco’s
still idiotically loyal eyes and finally understood Dumbledore’s message. Voldemort was not capable of mercy; his own
mother had proven that.
was. “Yes, I would stop you. It doesn’t matter what he’s done to me. It would be wrong for you to kill him, and I
would try to stop you.”
hissed and threw Draco away from him.
“If not him, what about my most loyal servant, hmm? Snape, come to me.”
gripped his wand so tightly he thought it would break. Snape slowly stepped out of the shadows
until Harry could make out his features.
The sallow-faced man was sneering, and Harry did not bother to fight the
waves of hatred he felt. Snape had
killed Dumbledore. It would be justice
for Snape to be killed by Voldemort.
Voldemort was smiling. “Yes, remember
what he did on my orders. He killed
Dumbledore and made it possible for me to make my move. He has been loyal to me from the
beginning. And yet I will not hesitate
to strike him down. Would you stop me
flicker on Snape’s face was to glance down at Draco, who was still on the
ground. He looked back at Harry without
a trace of emotion. Dumbledore had been
so wrong to trust this man. Harry knew
with every fiber of his being that Snape deserved to die, and he wanted to
watch if he couldn’t do it himself.
But he also
knew, deep down where Dumbledore’s voice still resonated, that it was still
wrong. If Snape were to die at
Voldemort’s hand, it wouldn’t fix anything.
Snape had been the advocate of revenge, and it had never repaired
him. At the end, at the very least,
Harry wasn’t going to be like Snape, not ever.
said, not looking away from Snape. “I
won’t let you kill him either. Not
because I forgive him, because I won’t ever do that. But because I’m not going to let hating him ruin my life like
hating my father ruined his.” He turned
back to Voldemort. “If you try to kill
him, I’m going to stop you, if it’s the last thing I do.”
tilted his head to the side. “You are
as big a fool as that idiot headmaster.
But it doesn’t matter. In the
end, you’ll both come to the same fate.
Do you want to go down fighting, or would you rather I strike you dead
where you stand?”
had to answer the question. A burst of
green light blinded him, and in that instant, Voldemort was dead.
stared at the form crumpled on the ground, not believing his own eyes. He looked up and stared dumbly at Snape,
whose wand was drawn and pointed at the figure. “Why?” he asked haltingly.
didn’t look up from his former master’s body, and if Harry hadn’t known better
he would have said Snape looked as surprised as he felt. “Well, it certainly wasn’t for you.”
“Traitor!” Draco was on his feet now, his wand pointed
at Snape’s heart. Before either Harry
or Snape could move, Draco gave his own killing blow.
to the ground, his dark eyes open and as emotionless as they had been moments
blinked, oddly unsatisfied. Next
second, he found himself on the ground, having been knocked over by Fleur
Delacour and her three-foot wide dress.
“You are inconsiderate! You are
a buffoon!” She pummeled a shocked
Draco Malfoy about the head with her rapidly disintegrating bouquet. Once more, her Veela heritage was obvious,
if for a different reason than usual.
“You are ruining my be-you-tiful wedding!”
And with a
final round kick (which Bill would fondly recall until the end of his days),
the Beauxbaton’s TriWizard Champion knocked Draco Malfoy quite
“Harry! Are you all right?” A pretty vision in gold kneeled next to him.
assured Ginny Weasley. “Though ... I’m
a bit confused.”
hit your head? Neville and Luna are
still a bit scrambled, but Tonks says they’re going to be fine. No one else is injured – on our side, that
is – except for Aunt Winifred, but she’s just faking to make Uncle Everett let
her take a rest holiday in Spain …” She
stopped because Harry was grinning at her.
Her face as red as her hair,
she silently helped him up.
you didn’t have to do it!” Ron bounded
up and clapped him on the back. “Never
thought Snape’d have it in him. But
handy of him to break the prophecy.”
out Ginny’s curious, “What prophecy?” Hermione excitedly contradicted Ron. “He
didn’t! Because I had all that time to
think while we were petrified, I’ve figured it all out! You see, it’s all a matter of unclear
antecedents! When the prophecy said,
‘Either shall die at the hand of the other’ it really meant either Harry or
Voldemort will die at the hand of another
– the other person in the prophecy so inadequately introduced – Snape!”
Ron took this in rather slowly and painfully, ignoring Ginny’s indignant cries
of “What prophecy? What dying!”
moment Lupin came running up with McGonagall and Hagrid close behind him. “Harry!
Are you alright?” McGonagall
clapped her hand over her mouth at the scene.
Harry said tiredly. “I’m fine. It was Snape that killed him.”
looked down at Snape. “But why did he
know. He didn’t have a chance to
say. I’m just glad he did. Saved my life.” Harry felt Ginny slide an arm around his waist, and he suddenly
felt a little less tired. McGonagall
just surveyed the bodies with a look of sadness.
me! Everyone!” They looked to their right, where Fleur, her
wedding dress dirty and a little ripped at the hem, was waving what was left of
her bouquet in the air. “Everyone! Ve are going to ‘ave this wedding today ef
it kills us! Take your seats, unless
you are tying up ze bad people.
Bill! Bill! Get over here!”
snorted. “All this mess, and she’s
still going through with it?”
looked into her eyes and smiled. “Of
course she is. They’ve waited long
enough, don’t you think?” Ginny looked
back at him with surprise. Slowly she
Harry’s hand and led him to the seat next to hers. In a few moments, bodies moved to the side where several
harried-looking Ministry officials were trying to sort things out, Fleur and
Bill were married. But Harry missed
most of the ceremony because he was too pre-occupied with the most beautiful
Harry ran a
finger along the edge of the mahogany desk, feeling for the nicks he’d made
seventeen years ago when he smashed Albus Dumbledore’s mysterious
instruments. Now it was McGonagall’s
office, and Harry had lingered behind after meeting with the Headmistress.
wandered over to the plaque fastened to the wall, awarding both Sirius and
Regulus Black posthumous clemency and an Order of Merlin, First Class. Harry didn’t particularly care about
Regulus’s, but since he’d burned down number 12 Grimmauld Place, there was
nowhere else to hang it. Besides, he
owed the man that much respect for apparently deciding at the last to work
against Voldemort. They still weren’t
entirely sure, but the initials RAB and the presence of the locket in the Black
household were strong links.
to it was a smaller plaque marking the years Severus Snape had taught at
Hogwarts. Most agreed that this was not
enough recognition for his acts at what was now called the Deathly
Hallows. He had, after all, been the
one to alert Lupin and to kill Voldemort.
But the Ministry had apparently only so much forgiveness per year and
had refused to honor the murderer of Albus Dumbledore. So Minerva McGonagall, as Headmistress of
Hogwarts, had bestowed the highest honor she had in her disposal: an award for
Special Services to the school.
Percy Weasley who’d made sure the pardons and honors were (or weren’t)
issued. This act was less of an apology
and more of an overture. Now that his
father was Minister of Magic, Arthur Weasley’s views on the world seemed so
much more sensible.
In a rather
sinister coincidence, the same day Mr. Weasley finally achieved his wife’s
fondest wish, Dolores Umbridge suffered a terrible accident involving a hair
curling wand and a poorly hung gamboling kitten platter. Hermione was the first Healer to arrive at
the gruesome scene. She later admitted
to Harry that she’d been tempted to tell Rita Skeeter, the dispatched reporter,
a few more “tidbits” than were strictly necessary. Instead, she’d gone home to her husband and their five curly,
children, Ron and Harry had spent several years, after completing their last
year at Hogwarts, as Aurors. They had
helped round up the last of the known Death Eaters. Harry had taken special pride in presenting evidence against
Lucius and Draco Malfoy, and stopped by Azkaban on occasion to make sure they
were securely still residing there. He
and Ron remainedl the best of friends, even after Ron decided to stay home with
the children and Harry had accepted the Defense Against the Dark Arts position
at McGonagall’s request. The curse on
the position had apparently broken with Voldemort’s death.
He hoped he
would enjoy teaching more than he had liked being a student. Neville apparently did, as he was currently
the most loved teacher in recent memory and had turned the greenhouses into the
most popular classrooms. Hagrid was
still the grounds keeper, but had been joined by his brother, Grawp, and
together they had brought many more magical creatures into the Hogwarts boundaries. Harry had been pleasantly surprised to learn
of the skrewts’ heretofore untapped ability to plow a Quidditch field.
checked his robes in the mirror by the door and tried as futilely as ever to
flatten his hair into a more respectable pattern, although even Ginny had given
up on it after their children were born and she learned it was genetic.
a smile at Albus Dumbledore’s portrait.
The man with the sparkling eyes was slumped comfortably in a wingback
chair. “Just a little,” he admitted.
nodded wisely. “Give it some time. Took me about twenty years.”
chuckle followed Harry down the winding stairs, carried him through the mostly
empty halls and into the crowded classroom.
Like so many years ago, hushed whispers erupted from the first-year
students: “It’s him!” and “Can you see the scar?”
time Harry didn’t try to hide. He
strode smoothly to the front of the room, cleared his throat and said, “Good
morning. My name is Professor Potter. Let me tell you the story behind this scar.”