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Came Out of the Darkness 50 – Keep your Friends Close – Jen S (jcswriter)

My castle built in the world created by the amazing J. K. Rowling. Anything you recognize belongs to her.

*x*x*x*x*x*

Citizen soldiers
Holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair
Standing on guard for the ones that we've sheltered
We'll always be ready because we will always be there

Hope and pray, that you never need me
But rest assured I will not let you down
I walk beside you, but you may not see me
The strongest among you may not wear a crown
Citizen soldier – 3Doors Down – Lyrics by: Brad Arnold, Robert Todd Harrell, Christopher L. Henderson, Matthew Darrick Roberts

*x*x*x*x*x*

Everyone was still wound up as they boarded the train. Excited chatter and laughter filled the air. Harry, Cedric, and Draco loaded their trunks as Neville stood with Luna and Hermione and the animals. Once done, Harry walked back to Hermione and wrapped her in his arms, resting his chin on her shoulder.

Draco glanced back toward the Castle and saw Snape escorting Crabbe and Goyle. "Oh, whoops."

"Whoops?" Hermione asked.

Neville followed his line of sight, "Oh, we forgot them."

Everyone looked from Neville to Draco and back. Draco sighed, "Crabbe and Goyle were going around the Castle writing down what everyone was doing and snickering about turning everyone in."

"So we shoved them into a storage closet," Neville said. "And then we forgot about them."

"The Elves brought them to the dorm just after midnight," Blaise Zabini reported as he walked up. "They've been insisting on talking to Snape ever since. Couple of squealers. And that was before the Minister assigned five scrolls."

"I can't believe the Minister of Magic gave us homework," Colin Creevey moaned. "How can he do that?"

"He can't," Hermione replied. "He is not a professor, he has no authority to assign anything."

"Really?" Dennis Creevey asked, his eyes wide. "Are you going to do the assignment, Maya?"

"No," Hermione shook her head. Dennis darted away to start spreading the word.

Crabbe and Goyle stomped by them muttering to each other. Draco turned away from them, "You really aren't doing the scrolls, Maya?"

"No," she repeated. "Like I said, the Minister has no authority to assign work. Even the Governors can only request that one of the professors assign work, but they can't insist on it or assign it themselves. So no, really not doing the scrolls."

Blaise grinned, tossed a wave, and walked to the train.

"He's not bad," Draco advised. "Keeps to himself. Quiet. Has a few friends in fifth year. Nott's hooked up with Crabbe and Goyle now that the Weasel is gone. Surprised he wasn't with them last night. Or maybe I'm not. He probably sent them out in the middle of everything, obviously gathering information to pass along to the adults. I didn't see him in the chaos."

"I did," Pansy said softly. She'd been standing a few feet away with Isabel, Susan, and the Patil twins. "He was running around with the Slytherin firsties. Giving them tasks like tossing the potion balloons at the officials or distracting the professors. He was also making sure they didn't get caught." Draco smiled at her, Pansy smiled and ducked her head. Draco offered her his arm and escorted her to the train.

Word traveled quickly through the students. A few came to confirm with Cedric or Hermione that no, they did not have to do the assignment ordered by Fudge. The information, combined with the unlimited sweets from the trolley paid for by the two champions, meant the trip home was full of happy, sugar amped children. All too soon, the train was pulling into the station at the end of the line. Harry and Hermione hung back in the compartment to say their goodbyes privately.

"I am going to miss you so much," Harry said as he kissed her.

"I know, but it won't be for long," Hermione replied. "I've arranged to go to the Village as soon as you go. And we have these," she pulled the locket out from under her shirt. "We can talk every night. Let's say at ten. We should both be in our rooms by then and can talk without attracting attention." She kissed him. "I love you, my husband."

"I love you, my wife," Harry sighed.

"Sorry, you two," Cedric said from the doorway, "But everyone else is off the train."

"We're coming," Harry replied with one last kiss.

Cedric reached out and took the cat carrier from Hermione.

*x*x*x*x*x*

Cedric slipped through the barrier and stuck his arm back in to wave the all clear. Harry pushed the trolley with their trunks out through the wall into the main part of the station. He saw Hermione's parents immediately, standing with the Diggorys and Lady Aggie.

The Creevey boys darted past to race to their parents. Dennis leapt into the air and was caught by his father who spun around laughing. Colin ran into his mother's arms.

Hermione rubbed Harry's back as he looked away. He smiled to her and took the trolley to her parents' car.

"Hello Harry," Aggie swept him into a hug.

"Hello Aggie," he hugged her back.

"Hello Harry," Jane Granger greeted as Dan embraced their daughter. "Good to see you again."

"Harry," Dan offered his hand for a firm shake.

Harry and Dan loaded Hermione's trunk into the trunk of the car as Cedric hefted Crookshanks in his carrier to the back seat. With one last hug and a touch, Hermione got into the car and they drove away.

"Did you tell her parents about the Bonding?" Cedric asked.

"Her father didn't kill me where I stand. What do you think?" Harry retorted.

"I think you are much too young," Aggie sniffed. "But your bond is strong. And when you are old enough we will have a beautiful wedding."

Harry blinked, "Never thought about having a wedding. Aren't we already married?"

"By Magic," Beth nodded, "But legally you won't be married until you… well, marry."

Cedric slapped him on the back, "So a few more years of freedom before you strap on the old ball and chain." Beth rolled her eyes. They said their goodbyes and Harry watched the Diggorys and the Longbottoms leave the station.

"Harry?"

Harry turned. "Dudley?" He blinked in shock, "Wow, look at you!" In the eleven months since he'd seen Dudley, his cousin had sprouted a few inches in height and slimmed down to a more muscular physique.

Dudley smiled, "Took your advice and joined that gym last summer. My trainer there suggested boxing at school. Won a few bouts this spring," he bragged. "This is Todd and Rick. Friends from Smeltings. We were coming into London today so we volunteered to pick you up." Todd was a tall, solid boy who picked up Harry's truck easily and carried it to an old, beat up car.

"Car's a piece of shit," Rick said, "But it runs and it's mine." He climbed into the driver's seat as Todd took the front passenger. Harry and Dudley climbed into the back with Hedwig between them. "What's with the owl?"

"Harry trains them," Dudley lied.

"There are a lot of pretty girls around here," Todd remarked. "They go to your school?"

"Yes," Harry replied as he waved to Susan and Lavender.

"How do you get any work done?" Rick chuckled.

"Got a girlfriend Harry?" Todd asked. "One of them?" he nodded to a few more Hogwarts girls greeting their families.

Harry ran his thumb over the ring on his finger, "Yes I do, but no, she was picked up already." He reached out across the bond and felt Hermione's affectionate response. The smile that crossed his face led to a car ride full of teasing from his cousin and his friends.

Harry dragged his trunk inside and up the stairs as Dudley said goodbye and made plans with his friends. Neither Vernon nor Petunia were in the house. He sat down the cage and let Hedwig out to stretch her wings flying around the room. His trunk once again held food and snacks just in case, but he wasn't hungry. He had homework, but didn't feel like starting it. He was at a loss as to what to do after such a busy year. Plus he missed Hermione already.

"Hey," Dudley said from the doorway. "Lord Rosier sent me a copy of his new game." He grinned, "I got it two weeks before it was in the stores. Made me very popular at school. Want to try it out?"

"Sure," Harry nodded.

*x*x*x*x*x*

Ten days. Each one passing with agonizing slowness. Harry woke every morning and marked another day on the calendar. He went downstairs and fixed breakfast. He talked to Dudley, while Petunia and Vernon ignored his existence. There were no chores after the kitchen was cleaned up. It was the hottest summer on record, so he spent the days inside. Sometimes playing video games with Dudley. Usually just lying in bed reading. Lunch and dinner were both cold meals and easy clean up. Then back to his room. Once it got dark he would take a long walk around the neighborhood, each night expecting to be attacked by the Dementors. He returned to his room each night by ten to watch call Hermione. Neville, Luna, Draco, and Snape would answer too and talk for a few minutes before silencing their connection and giving Harry and Hermione privacy. They would talk for a half hour or so, then sign off. Afterward Hizzy would pop in. Harry would talk to the old Elf for a while, giving him and his wife Elsie a few chores to do secretly around the house, a quick dusting or spells to clean the bathroom. Finally Harry would settle in to sleep with one final reach across the bond to Hermione. Only when she sent back her comfort and love would he sleep. And wake the next morning to repeat the day.

He'd begun to believe that the Dementors wouldn't attack. That he'd pass the days until July 24th in absolute boredom before being able to return to Longbottom Village. On the ninth night, he actually suggested that he stay in Little Whinging for the rest of the summer, worried that the Dementors would attack on the same day in August while he was in the Village. His request had been immediately outvoted by everyone, especially Snape. Loudly.

Then on the afternoon of the tenth day, he was at his desk finishing an essay for Charms. Dudley knocked on the doorframe, "Hey, busy?"

"Homework," Harry replied, "But I am finished."

"There is an amateur boxing match at the gym tonight at 7. Want to go with me? My trainer said I should go to watch technique."

"Sure," Harry nodded. "Think we'll be back by ten?"

"Should be. Why? Gotta call your girlfriend?" Dudley smirked.

"Yes actually."

"On the telephone?"

"Not quite."

*x*x*x*x*x*

The night was stifling hot. Harry and Dudley were walking back from the gym in town. Harry had little experience with boxing, but Dudley had said it was a good fight. As they walked, he'd fallen silent. Harry enjoyed the quiet, and surprisingly the company.

He half expected it. Even though he'd come to doubt it would happen. It was one of the few nights of the last ten that he and Dudley had been out together after dark. The moon was bright overhead. The stars twinkled vividly. Then the clouds began to roll in, thick and black. An icy cold breeze flowed. Lightning cracked across the sky, followed by the harsh boom of thunder. Harry pulled his wand as Dudley noticed the change.

"Dudley whatever you do, do not scream, do not open your mouth. Stay close to me," Harry ordered.

"What's happening?"

"Dementors."

"Demon tours?" Dudley said. "Should we run?"

"No, stay here, out in the open," Harry replied as the storm clouds thickened and the bolts of lightning struck closer. The rain began, huge heavy drops.

"Are we going to die?"

"No."

Then they came. Darker than the storm, darker than the night. Blackness and evil. Drawing the good out of the world as they drew out the heat. Dudley moaned and staggered behind Harry. Harry felt the dread, the despair begin to fill him.

"Make it stop," Dudley begged.

The Dementors circled, then dove in for the attack. When the cold became unbearable, when the first woman's scream filled Harry's ears, only then did he flick his wand. Pulling on the bond, feeling Hermione at the other end, filling with the love she sent back, he cast the spell, "Expecto Patronum".

The eagle patronus burst out from the tip of his wand and sliced the first Dementor in half. The resulting pieces incinerated instantly. The eagle swooped through the air and slammed into the second Dementor. With a dazzling burst of light, the patronus and the Dementor disappeared leaving only a shower of ash.

Harry turned back to check on Dudley and found him blinking violently. "You alright?"

"Light, bright light, am I dead?" Dudley mumbled.

Pop, pop, pop-pop.

Severus, Remus, Sirius, and Alastor apparated into the park near Harry and Dudley. All four had their wands out but were clad in normal, Muggle looking clothing.

"Where are they?" Alastor demanded.

Harry wordlessly pointed to the pile of ash at Remus' feet that was quickly drifting away in the wind. Remus kicked at the pile as Sirius and Severus moved in to check Harry. "I'm fine," Harry said. "Dudley?"

"I don't want to be dead," Dudley moaned.

Harry pulled his cousin's arm over his shoulders as Severus did the same on the other side. He glanced around.

"What are you looking for?" Sirius asked.

"Mrs. Figg," Harry replied. "She found us last time. After Mundungus Fletcher abandoned his guard post."

"Arabella Figg?" Severus asked.

"She was in the Order," Alastor advised.

"Still is," Harry replied. "She lived here so she could watch me for Dumbledore."

"Well she did a piss poor job of that, didn't she?" Severus snapped.

Harry sighed as they drew closer to the Squib's home, "It's not like I ran telling her how bad things were. I didn't tell anyone. Last time through I never even told any of you."

"Harry?" Mrs. Figg called anxiously. "Oh dear, what happened?" she emerged from her house, pulled a rain hat over her hair.

"Dementors," Alastor reported.

"Oh my," Figg covered her mouth with her hand. "Goodness me. But it is good to see you again, Alastor. You are looking well."

"And you are still a bad liar Arabella," Alastor smiled. Mrs. Figg blushed as she followed them towards the Dursley home. "Harry, Arabella bred your wife's cat, did you know that?"

"Crookshanks? No I didn't," Harry replied. "She loves that little bugger, Mrs. Figg."

"Oh I know," Arabella nodded.

"How?" Harry asked.

"Uhm," Arabella glanced to Alastor who nodded, "There is a spell on each cat, kneazle kitten that lets me know when he or she has been taken to their forever home. And lets me know how they are faring. Crookshanks has been quite content since Sweet Lady Maya adopted him. He'd been waiting for her for a long time. I hope you remember some of the lessons I taught you when you were a boy?"

"Lessons?"

"How to recognize the kneazle in the cat and how to care for them? They are excellent hunters but need more water set out."

Harry realized that since Hermione had brought Crookshanks into their lives he had instinctively put down bowls of water in his dorm room and then in the Suite. "And never pick one up unless they leap into your arms or you will regret it."

"You will regret it," Arabella said along with him. "Such a smart, good boy. I shall miss you Harry. But I shan't miss this neighborhood. Or those Dursleys."

"You're moving?" Harry asked.

"No reason to stay," Mrs. Figg replied. "The Figg Family Elves are all ready to start packing as soon as I get home."

"Figg Family Elves?"

Mrs. Figg nodded, "My husband was a wizard. The Ministry wanted to confiscate the Elves but Dumbledore wouldn't allow them to. How else do you think I kept the house so clean and tidy?"

They reached the Dursleys' doorstep and Arabella slipped away after a pat to Harry's back. Alastor shoved open the door without knocking.

"Dudders is that you," Petunia called. She stepped into view, "What are you… what have you done to my son?!" She came at Severus, attacking him with a dishtowel.

"Stifle woman," Severus snarled and yanked the towel away from her.

Vernon struggled up from his chair, "How dare you!" but Alastor sent him back down with a glare.

"Can't be dead," Dudley moaned, "Not still here with them."

Harry and Severus deposited Dudley into a chair at the dining room table. Severus shoved by Petunia to retrieve a glass of water from the kitchen. Harry went to the foot of the stairs and sat down. He reached across the bond to Hermione. He felt anger and frustration from her, then the reassurance and love. He sent back confusion, what he got back told him wherever she was, she wasn't able to immediately come to his side. Severus sat down the water and yanked several vials from his pocket. He grabbed Dudley's chin and dumped the first one's contents down his throat.

"Don't you give my son any of that poison," Vernon snarled.

"Shut up," Remus ordered. "Is he alright, Sev?"

"Will be," Severus replied as he poured another potion into Dudley

Just then an owl swooped in and dropped an envelope that floated in the air to deliver a message from Mafalda Hopkirk of the Improper Use of Magic office advising Harry that he'd been expelled and that representatives from the Ministry would be along to destroy his wand. Even though he knew it wouldn't happen, he still felt that flare of panic in his chest. Severus looked at him and he felt Hermione's concern through the bond.

Then two more owls flew in and dropped two envelopes into Harry's lap. He opened the first and read it aloud, "Harry, I am on my way to the Ministry to sort this out, do not perform any more magic, Amos Diggory." Then the second, "You will not be expelled or lose your wand. Stay in the house until we arrive. Gabriel Rosier."

There was a long stretch of silence, then there were two loud pops in the back yard. Alastor's Magical Eye swiveled to check and he nodded silently. Sirius walked over to the sliding glass doors and admitted Lucius Malfoy and Gabriel Rosier.

"Amos is still arguing with the Improper Use office," Rosier reported. "Arthur Weasley has also arrived to attempt to plead your case. We should know something shortly."

"Meanwhile, Severus I have the custody paperwork assembled here for signature," Lucius said.

"Custody paperwork," Petunia repeated.

"Lily and James left a will," Severus said as he broke chocolate into pieces and fed one to Dudley. Lucius took a piece and carried it over to Harry. "Harry was to come to me if his godmother was unavailable. Lily never intended for him to be sent to you." He glowered at her and Petunia fled back to the kitchen.

"Sev," Lucius sighed, "Petunia we will need your signature," he called.

A car was heard pulling up and stopping outside. Alastor again looked to see who was coming. This time he smiled and opened the door himself. Hermione raced inside and went straight to Harry. Harry leapt to his feet and caught her close.

Dudley blinked, "Who is that?" He reached up and smoothed down his hair and straightened his shirt.

Remus snickered, "We've just discovered the cure for Dementor exposure. Send in the pretty girl."

"That," Severus answered as he tested Dudley's pulse, "Is your cousin's wife."

A plate clattered loudly in the kitchen sink. Petunia emerged, wide eyed in shock, "Wife?"

"Wife?" Dudley said. "You said you had a girlfriend, didn't say anything about a wife."

"Girlfriend?" Hermione put her hands on her hips, "And who would that be Harry James Potter?" she tried to sound angry, but was smiling.

"Only you my love," Harry kissed her. "And one of Dudley's new friends asked me. I wasn't about to tell a couple of teenagers that I was married."

"Coulda told me," Dudley sulked.

"You're right, I should have," Harry nodded. "Dudley, this is Hermione. Hermione, Dudley, my Aunt Petunia, and Uncle Vernon." Hermione smiled at each of them in response. "Are your parents here? Did they bring you?"

"My parents are gone Harry," she replied.

"Gone? What do you mean gone?"

"Moved. To the United States," she said. "My mother's sister's husband is a dentist. He's been ill and was going to have to close his practice. It's a small town with few dentists. So my parents sold their practice here and moved there a few weeks ago. They picked me up at the station and we stayed with my father's family for a few days. When they had to go back, they left me with the Cravens."

"So you've finally met them? What are they like? And why didn't you tell me all of this was happening?"

Hermione sighed, "I didn't tell you because you had enough going on. And the Cravens are… much as I expected. They were very nice. Lady Craven took me shopping for clothes and a ton of new books." She gestured to the pretty skirt and top she wore.

"You look very nice. Tell me more, tell me everything," Harry demanded.

"Harry," her voice went firm, "This is not something you need in your head. I will tell you when the time is right." Her fingers went to the scar, meaningfully. Their eyes locked and she sent all the emotions swirling around inside across the bond. Worry, dread, anxiety, anger, and frustration. Harry found himself being the one to send back comfort and love. She sighed and sent back love. And hope. Hermione glanced back as she realized they'd become the center of attention from wizard and Muggle alike. "Sorry."

Lucius cleared his throat and pulled a stack of document scrolls from his robes. "Petunia and Vernon Dursley, according to the legal final will of Lily and James Potter, you should not have received custody of Harry James Potter after his parents' death. We are here to correct that error. If both of you will sign where indicated, please."

Vernon huffed his way out of the chair and came over to sign the scroll with an expression of absolute glee, "Finally rid of that freaky little brat." Severus started out of his chair, but stilled when Lucius pointed a finger. Petunia stared at the signature line for a long moment, then finally signed her name. As soon as she finished, the scroll rolled itself up and disappeared.

"You cannot remain in this house," Lucius advised. "Any protection placed here will vanish the moment Harry leaves."

"Hizzy," Harry called, "We're ready for Mr. Griphook."

Hizzy and Griphook appeared in the hallway. Vernon gasped and rapidly began to redden. Petunia sank down into a chair and fanned herself. Dudley leaned forward, "Cool," he said excitedly.

Griphook scowled at the Muggles, nodded to the Wizards, and walked over to spread several documents out on the table. "Lord Potter, I have found five potential residences for the Dursley family. All of them have the requirements you specified as to location, size, and amenities."

"They're all close to your work," Harry said looking at Vernon who still glowered at the Elf and Goblin. "Vernon," Harry slapped the table. "Knock it off, or we will walk out that door and leave you on your own."

"Mother look," Dudley said as he leaned over the blueprints, "This one has central air conditioning!" Petunia began to read the information. "Do I have to leave my school?"

"No," Harry shook his head. "Just the house."

"I have to decide tonight?" Petunia asked.

"Yes," Griphook nodded. "Unless you wish to take a chance with your lives."

"No," Petunia said. "This one. I have always wanted to live in…."

"No," Lucius snapped. "None of us can know where you are going."

"Oh."

"This is it then," Dudley said. "This is when you disappear."

Harry nodded, "For now." He turned away, "Hizzy can you call the other elves to come pack up the house please. We're ready to go."

"Right away Harry," Hizzy nodded. "Potter Elves to the Dursley home, we've got work to do."

The sight of twenty more Elves appearing in his living room sent Vernon over the edge. He began to sputter angrily. "SHUT UP VERNON!" Petunia shouted. "Harry is giving us a house. A safe place. More than we ever did for him. So you will shut your mouth about it." Sirius applauded quietly despite Remus' shove.

A Ministry Owl swooped in with another letter from Mafalda Hopkirk advising that he was not about to be expelled or have his wand snapped. Shortly afterward another pop was heard in the back garden. Amos Diggory entered when Lucius opened the door.

"Well," Amos shook the rain from his robes. "What a mess, but things seem to have settled. Did you get the second letter from the Ministry?" Harry held it up silently. "Good. You'll still have to get through the hearing but at least there is a chance now."

"Over the fact that he used magic in a life threatening situation in front of a Muggle who already knows about magic," Gabe scoffed. "What is Hopkirk thinking?"

"You really believe she or anyone else there is thinking for themselves?" Lucius retorted.

"Easy gentlemen," Amos soothed. "Young Mr. Dursley, if you are feeling able, Lord Rosier and I should take your statement as to the sequence of events. Perhaps in the living room?" Dudley nodded and stood up. He was a bit shaky but able to walk under his own power. He led the two men into the living room.

"Should I start packing or…" Petunia said. "Maybe fix some tea or…"

"The Elves will pack and move everything Aunt Petunia," Harry replied. "But I do need my mother's jewelry." He saw Griphook's quick look. "Yes I was supposed to ask about it last summer, I forgot."

"You forgot?" Griphook asked. He shook his head with a slight tsking sound.

"Oh so did I," Hermione added. "It was a bit of a stressful time."

"Oh," Griphook nodded.

Harry snorted, "So I forget and it's 'oh how could you' but since she forgot it's alright?"

"Yes," Griphook replied.

"What jewelry?" Petunia finally answered him but she wouldn't meet his eyes.

"My mother's regular jewelry," Harry scowled. "Griphook said there were Potter family pieces that she wore regularly. Please fetch them. Or I will call them to come to me, walls and furniture be damned."

"You wouldn't," Petunia gasped. "You can't use magic. Those letters said so."

"But I can," Severus said. "And I will. You know damn well I will Tuney."

Petunia scampered away and up the stairs. She returned a moment later with a small wooden jewelry box. She sat it on the table and Griphook opened it to begin sorting through the pieces. Petunia bit her lip then pulled a long chain from her pocket. There was a locket hanging on it. She laid it down reluctantly.

"This isn't a Potter piece," Griphook said as he examined it closely. "Definitely Muggle made."

"This was our mother's," Petunia said. "It was supposed to be mine. I was oldest. But when Lily went off to that school, our mother gave it to her."

Harry lifted the locket. He glanced to Hermione and she nodded her agreement. Harry took Petunia's hand and gently placed the locket into it. "You're right, it should be yours."

Tears filled Petunia's eyes, "Thank you Harry. I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry. We don't deserve any of this."

Harry took a deep breath, "It's still the right thing to do. Once you leave here tonight, you will never see me again."

"Good riddance," Vernon grumbled.

Petunia stalked over and slapped him across the face.

*x*x*x*x*x*

The Elves packed everything quickly but carefully and Griphook sent them all to the new home to unpack it all. The Dursleys were left in an empty house with the wizards. Harry went upstairs to make a completely unnecessary sweep of his room. Dudley followed him down. When Harry reached the foot of the stairs, Dudley stopped midway down and jumped on the steps above the cupboard. Harry turned and gave him a grin.

But his action drew Severus' attention to the cupboard under the stairs. And he remembered the conversation in the locker room third year while Neville, Draco, and Hermione lay in the hospital wing. They locked me in a cupboard for the first decade I was under their roof. Severus walked over and yanked the cupboard open to stare inside. The small cot still lay inside.

Lucius watched him and walked over to stand next to Petunia, "Your sister. Your amazing, loving, good-hearted sister. She told all sorts of stories when she got to Hogwarts about her wonderful, caring older sister Petunia and how much she loved and missed her. If it were within my power I would curse you to suffer every slight against that child. Every bruise, every cut, every day without enough food or rest. Every abuse you heaped upon the only child of your beloved Lily. And you know what, every man in this room would allow it to happen. And then they would hand you over to Severus." Petunia was shaking as Lucius swept away. She glanced around but found no compassion in any face.

"Come along," Griphook said. "You will drive your vehicle to the edge of town and I will transport you to the new house."

Harry stood in the entryway as Vernon and Petunia left. Dudley offered his hand, "This isn't the last goodbye, is it Harry?"

"I hope not," Harry replied honestly. "Take care of yourself, Dudley."

Dudley glanced to where Hermione stood with Lucius and Severus, "How did you land such a pretty girl, cousin?"

"Fate," Harry replied. He watched as they drove away.

A moment later several black SUVs arrived. Hizzy and Elsie returned and sent Harry's things into the back of one of them. Severus slid into the driver's seat with Amos taking the passenger. Harry and Hermione climbed into the back. Lucius and Gabe were in the next one, while Alastor, Remus, and Sirius took the last. They drove past Mrs. Figg's house that now looked completely abandoned. Once they reached the edge of town, the SUVs ported away. Severus drove up to the front of Longbottom Manor with Remus guiding their SUV behind him. As soon as they parked, the doors opened, spilling out Beth, Cedric, Neville, Luna, and Lady Aggie.

Harry was home with his family.

*x*x*x*x*x*

On that day when you need your brothers and sisters to care
I'll be right here
On that day when you don't have the strength for the burden you bear
I'll be right here

Citizen soldiers
Holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair
Standing on guard for the ones that we've sheltered
We'll always be ready because we will always be there

Citizen soldier – 3Doors Down – Lyrics by: Brad Arnold, Robert Todd Harrell, Christopher L. Henderson, Matthew Darrick Roberts

*x*x*x*x*x*

More soon… we are far from over :)