A/N: So here's part two. It was supposed to be short one-shot, but it got a life of its own and grew. It was not supposed to be a harmony story, either, but it kept happening in the plot and the dialogue, so I gave in. I find that writing romance is hard, and juggling that as the plot progressed was also hard, so I may tidy this up in the future.

As always, I own nothing, and thank Ms. Rowling.

The Mark, part two.

"So what's the problem, then? You figured this all out, Merlin knows how, we tell Kingsley, blow Lucius' plan to pieces, Draco goes to Azkaban, and we all live happily ever after."

Hermione was wringing her hands again. "I know, Harry, and much of that will happen one way or another. The problem is what happens at the end. I'm not sure about the happily ever after bit."

"Why not? All the bad guys are off the Wizengamot and in jail, once and for all."

"That's just it, Harry. It's not once and for all."

"Huh? Why not?"

"Wizengamot seats are hereditary, Harry. We clean it up, and their heirs, their very upset heirs, take over."

"So, they still have to keep their noses clean, and they can't be all bad. It could still be a good change."

"I'm not so sure for the long haul. They're all pureblood families. Not necessarily evil, but very traditional. They've done things like the Trace, and the underage magic laws that only seem to apply to non-purebloods, the really crappy way people like me are introduced to the magical world, the rules that may keep Teddy from being Head of House, and let you be put with the Dursleys just because Dumbledore said so. All the Death Eaters got a pass the first time around because they came from 'good families.'"

"They're used to getting their own way, and running things the way they want. It's just built in. It didn't start with Riddle, but it certainly allowed him to come to power, and it's not going to end now that he's gone. They can't even imagine that it's wrong or that there's another way to do things. They might be mad that I sent their parents to jail, but they'll be more mad that I didn't do things 'the way things were done.'"

"I checked, Harry. There's not a single firstborn Head or even assistant head in the whole Ministry. Ninety percent of the employees are connected to a pureblood family. They may not hate people like me, but they have no use for me either. And once they start in on how Riddle was a halfblood, and raised Muggle, and that's what the problem 'really was', I, and my children, and anyone like me are going to be at best a low level clerk or find themselves a graduate of Hogwarts with no job opportunities at all and have to go back to the non-magical world and start all over. That's actually what a lot of firstborn do already. I can't see it getting any better."

"Hermione, you have an Order of Merlin, First Class. You could probably get one of those empty Wizengamot seats yourself."

"Maybe Harry, but what good would it do? It'd be just me. I'd fight my whole life to fix things, and lose the entire time. I'd be a running joke, the crazy muggleborn witch with another stupid idea. They'd plan tea breaks or days off around when they knew I was going to speak before them."

"I'd help."

Hermione sighed, and wrung her hands tighter. "I know Harry, and now we're finally at my problem. I have two solutions. I don't like either one. They're not fair to you, and I can't ask them of you."

"Hermione, I promised to listen. You have to promise to ask. You can ask me anything."

"I know Harry, and that in itself is a reason not to."

"Hermione, stop making things complicated and ask."

"All right. The first is that I have to go find my parents—"

Harry felt a sudden lump of guilt in his stomach. "Damn. I forgot all about them. That's terrible. I'm sorry, Hermione, you do have to find them. But I'd be happy to help with that—"

Hermione put her hand over Harry's mouth. "I know you would, Harry." She took a deep breath. "But once I found them, I wouldn't come back. The packages that were delivered, they were information from the Australian Ministry of Magic. Things seem totally different there. Blood status means nothing, they're totally used to dealing with firstborns and their families, I could get any job I was interested in—"

Harry put his hand over Hermione's mouth. He had quit listening around the word 'packages'. The lump of guilt in his stomach became a gaping chasm, accompanied by a stab through his heart and a boulder in his throat. Never, in all the years he'd known her, had she ever suggested anything that would separate them. Sure she was bossy, and had on a few occasions gone over his head or fought with him, but it was always for him, and in retrospect she usually was right. The thing with Ron had finally seemed to settle down, and they all got along as good as ever, his secret bouts of jealousy aside. Hermione was living at Grimmauld Place for the trials, and Ron pretty much was as well. Never, ever, had he contemplated what it would be like without her in his life. She was always there for him, his one constant, and he had never thought she wouldn't always be there in the future.

The magnitude of his need for her shocked him. It was like he turned around and for the first time saw the mountain he was standing on, looked up from his feet and saw the great valley below him. His sudden recognition of his need for her was surpassed by the sudden possibility of losing her. He felt panic, despair, anger. The sense that yet again, something was being taken away from him overwhelmed him. He was suddenly faced with a turning point in his life, as big as finding out he was a magical, or hearing about the prophecy, one marked by the absence of Hermione. His emotions were already stirred up by the events of the morning, and his control over them was limited. The anger turned to rage, and he leapt off the couch.

"You're asking my permission for you to leave?" he shouted. "Leave me for good? Just when we win, just when there's finally a bit of hope, and you're leaving? How long have you been planning this—"

"No, no, no, Harry. I was going to ask you to come with me—"

Harry didn't hear her. "—planning this without me? You and Ron going off without me? You planning on taking him with you? But not me?" He was pacing, stomping actually, around the room, tears streaming down his face unnoticed.

"Petrificus totalis." Hermione, tears on her face as well, came around in front of him. "I'm so sorry Harry, I didn't mean to upset you. But the part you missed is that I wanted you to come with me." She released him from the spell and he collapsed to the floor, sobbing quietly. She knelt beside him and reached out to touch him, but pulled back.

"I'm sorry, Hermione," he finally said. His voice was muffled, as his arms were folded over his face. "I shouldn't have yelled at you like that. But when I thought you were leaving, leaving me, for good, there was this huge hole inside me, and I panicked, and I was angry, and I felt all alone again." He gathered his courage, the fear of loss adding to his bravery. "I never want to feel like that again. I can't not have you in my life."

"And the bit about Ron?"

"I'm sorry. I'm not proud of it, but I do get jealous of you two."

"Harry, Ron and I are not together."

Harry's face appeared from under his arms. His heart was pounding, a hope that he had been only partially able to suppress for months flared suddenly. "What, I thought you two were getting along great. I haven't heard any yelling or anything for weeks."

Hermione blushed. "Well, at first it was because we were, um, snogging. Then it was because we had to use silencing charms—"

"I didn't need to know that, Hermione."

She smiled and hit him on the shoulder. "—to keep you from hearing the yelling because we started disagreeing again. Prat."


"And after that, it was because we agreed that without you as a referee, we couldn't be alone together without fighting, and needing you around forever just to keep us civil to each other was not a basis for a healthy relationship, and we broke it off. It seems that once the initial attraction was satisfied, there was nothing left in common to base a relationship on. There hasn't been any yelling since."

"How'd I miss all that?" Harry had a vague recollection of a few-days span several weeks ago where they seemed mad at each other, then really not much since.

"We were trying to keep you from being uncomfortable, then we were trying to solve things on our own just to prove that we could, then it didn't matter any more. And you had much more important things to worry about."

Harry just grunted.

Hermione rested her hand on Harry's arm. "And you and Ginny? I notice you two haven't been spending much time together."

"Oh. We had a chat too, back when the trials started. There was nothing there any more. My time away, her time in the castle under the Death Eaters, we grew a lot, and grew apart. We're still friends, but nothing more than that."

"How'd I miss that?"

Harry sniffed mightily and rolled onto his back. "Well, you were up in your room, being quiet. I don't know what stage you were in. And the trials lasting all day every day doesn't really leave much time for gossiping."

He took her hand. "You really want me to move to Australia with you?"

Hermione sighed and looked down, her hair hiding her face. "When I figured out what my life would most likely be like if I stayed here, and that I should just move to Australia and convince my parents to stay there, the one thing that kept me here was the same thing you just said. I couldn't not have you in my life. I'd want you to help me find my parents. I'd want you to meet them. I'd want to see Australia with you." Harry felt a sudden warmth in his chest that spread out everywhere, relaxing the tightness.

"So why didn't you just ask?"

"It wouldn't be fair to you, Harry. You just got some sort of normalcy in your life, I couldn't then ask you to leave everything behind. And you're the last of the Potters, and now the Blacks. You're important here, Harry, and I'm leaving because I'm not—"

"Hermione, please. You are too important. And you of anyone should know I don't care about all that. I don't even know what 'all that' means."

"I know. But it doesn't make it not true. I couldn't ask you to give it all up."

"I've done fine without 'all that' all my life, and I really don't have any interest in it. Giving it up isn't hard at all."

"But now…" said Hermione, waving at the room around her.

"Yeah, I guess that does make it a little tougher," but he was looking only at the portrait. He blinked, then looked around the room. "Where's Kreacher?"

He appeared with a small 'pop,' with a tray of tea and scones. "I thought Master and Mistress would need some tea." He put the tray down on a low table by the sofa.

"Thanks Kreacher. Are you sure it wasn't my yelling that sent you off?"

"No, Master Harry. I knew Mistress Hermione would set you right. And that was nothing compared to Mistress Walburga. Call if you need me."

"Hang on, Kreacher. Can we take the portrait with us?"

Kreacher looked up at the portrait. "Usually, Master Harry, they can be moved, even house to house. But its magic is so low I do not know how it would be effected. If it were to be restored, then we could tell for sure."

Harry was staring up at the portrait again. "Thanks, Kreacher."

"Of course, Master Harry," and he popped away.

"You really want me to move to Australia with you?" Harry asked again, still staring at the portrait. He suddenly had butterflies in his stomach. Things like vaults and manors and trials seemed very unimportant.

Hermione sighed. "Yes, Harry. I do."

"Is this a really complicated way to ask me out?" He was nervous and hopeful and slightly giddy all at the same time.

"I hadn't got that far in my thinking. I couldn't really assume you'd come with me."

"Hermione, we just got through admitting we couldn't not be together."

"I know, but if we're not even on the same continent—"

He squeezed her hand. "I promise we'll work it out."

"But your house—"

"Hermione. It's just a house. It keeps the rain off and the heat in. Other than the portrait I'm not even sure there's anything here that would mean anything to me." He snorted as she looked up and around at all the books. "There's time to go through everything." He paused. "So does that mean we're going out?"

"It'd be nice.…"

"You're going to have to help me out here. I've got little experience with any of this, and most of it went wrong. I don't want to ruin things even before we get started."

"Are you sure? Maybe you should wait and see how things with the trials—"

Harry was getting frustrated and worried. "Hermione, stop. Will. You. Go. Out. With. Me?" he asked, each word punctuated by another squeeze on her hand. Hermione didn't answer, and the butterflies in his stomach got much worse. Was she just telling him idle wishes, but didn't really like him enough to commit?

"I'd love to, Harry," he finally heard.

Harry gave a great 'whoop' of joy and pulled Hermione down into a crushing hug, rocking them back and forth. Hermione squirmed to get her arms under his and hugged him back. A few minutes later Harry heard a small sniff from Hermione. He loosened his arms and leaned his head back a bit. She was crying. Harry panicked. He was finally going out with Hermione, and the first thing he did was make her cry.

"You all right?"

"I'm fine."

"But you're crying. Did I do something wrong already?"

She propped herself up on his chest. "No, no, no, Harry. I'm just very happy and very relieved."

"People cry because they're happy?" He was unaware of this phenomenon.

"Yes, Harry. Especially if they're very happy."

Harry reached up to wipe a tear off her cheek. "Oh. That makes things difficult, then."


"Well, on the one hand I don't want to make you cry. On the other, I want to make you as happy as I can—"

Hermione giggled. He hadn't heard her do that before, and it did funny things to his insides. He found he rather liked it. "What?"

"That was cheesy."

He cupped her cheek, and she leaned into it. "But it's true." He stared into her eyes. They were sparkly, and happy. And deep. And getting closer. He was slightly surprised as she pressed her lips to his. His list of kisses to compare it to was short, being either damp or tingly and vigorous. This was gentle and deep and warm and caused a rushing sound in his ears and made him a little dizzy. It was perfect.

It took him a moment to focus after it ended. "Wow." Hermione giggled again. Yes, he definitely liked it when she did that. "I think asking you to go out with me is the smartest thing I've ever done. Thank Merlin you talked me into it."

Hermione rewarded him with another kiss.

Several minutes later he was able to get back on track. "All right. So that's Plan A. What's Plan B?"

"You're not going to like this one either, Harry."

"Well, other than a few details that need sorting, I kind of like Plan A." He kissed her again.

"Thanks Harry, you're sweet. Let me tell you why you're not going to like it first."


"You've done enough. More than enough. I can't ask you to take on more. You just need time to be yourself, to do whatever you want, not have the pressure of the magical world on you again."

"Appreciated. But unless there's another crazed lunatic tied to me by a prophecy that says only I can defeat them, I don't see that I in particular have to do anything. That being said, what's Plan B then?"

Hermione mumbled something.

"Hermione, speak up."

"I said, you could take it over."

"Take what over?"

"The Wizengamot. The Ministry. All of it."

"What? How the heck could I do that? Evil wizard out to get me I get. Prophecy, a little dodgy, but it explains why said evil wizard was out to get me. Horcrux, blood rituals and Elder wand, totally weird, but it worked out. But I got nothing on how to even get on the Wizengamot, much less take it and the Ministry over."

"Bear with me Harry. I told you they're short a whole bunch of members. You'll probably get a seat for either House Black or House Potter. If you pushed for it you could get both, holding one for your kids."

"So that's why you wanted to know my Head of House status. Great. So assuming that they give them to me though I'm not or not yet Head of House, that's two. I'll push for you to get one, so we're up to three. Neville's gran might vote with us. Susan Bones and Hannah Abbot might become members soon, so we're up to six."

Hermione hit his shoulder. "Prat. Let me finish. Though I am impressed that you knew even that."


"You'd be the first to admit that politics are not your best topic."

"Agreed. So how do we get another twenty some seats?"

"We might not need that many. First we expose Lucius' plan, and have as many members arrested and thrown off as we can."

"That gets them out, not me in."

"I know, Harry. Like I said, the seats are hereditary, and there are enough Death Eater members about to get sentenced to even things out briefly. And before they get sentenced, thus completing their conviction, they're still able to manage their households and more importantly make wills, assign their Wizengamot seats, and assign Head of House."

She paused again. "We're going to get them to assign it all to you."

"What? You really think all those Death Eaters are going to give me all that just because I asked nice?"

"No. I think they'll probably yell and curse and threaten to kill you. But if you order them to, they might."

"How do you figure that?"

"It depends on if you're heir to the Gaunt line."

"Heatherington said I wasn't."

"Heatherington said he couldn't find out. Magic will determine if you actually are or not."

"Fine, fine. So what if I am?"

"Here's the part you really, really, won't like Harry. If you're the heir to the House of Gaunt, you also inherit from Riddle."

"What, a shack and an old house? The Ministry confiscated anything else he may have owned."

"Yes, those. And maybe, just maybe, control over the Dark Mark."


"I know, I know. I know it's terrible. But it's possible."

"You want me to take over where Tom left off—"

"NO! No, Harry, no. Nothing like that. No killing, no hurting, no overthrowing the government to establish a pureblood dictatorship. But if all that power and wealth is about to shift down a generation, why must it go back into the hands of a bunch of purebloods who's only apparent goal in life is to make life miserable for the rest of us?"

"As you know, I talked with one of the Unspeakables. She didn't know for sure what the Mark was, but it reminded her of a slave binding from ancient Egypt. Given that's likely where he got the horcrux idea, it makes sense. The slave binding that she knew of bound the slave to the royal house, not just the person. It was actually felt to be a sign of trust and honour. It also did not require you to rape, maim, torture or kill to get it, either. That was just a fun bonus Riddle added. If he found out the same information the Unspeakable had, then it's possible that control over the Mark passed to you, and if it did, you can tell them to leave everything to you."

"I know you hate the spotlight Harry, and politics, and don't want to be seen as a conquerer, but only you, and only at this point in time before they're sentenced, can we make this work. We can take that wealth and power and break open the Ministry and the Wizengamot so that it represents everyone, not just a wealthy few."

Harry sat back, stunned. The sheer brilliance and scope of Hermione's plan was astounding. If it wasn't about him, he'd be all for it. But she was right. He hated the spotlight, hated politics, and especially politicians. He hated to think what the public would say about him the moment he did something unpopular. Hell, he hated what they said about him just for living his life. And he didn't want the power anyway. Who was he to make all the decisions? He was done fighting, done worrying about the fate of magical Britain. It's was someone else's turn.

But Hermione was also right about who would be left. He thought about the next generation of non-magical-born and -raised coming into the magical world. Why should a few old families make all the rules that all the rest had to follow? If things went back to the way they were, Hermione was leaving for good, and Harry likely would be too. But what about everyone else who couldn't? What would their lives be like? Could he really not care about them?

Words and phrases from the past popped into his head. "Try for some remorse."(1) "…it's going to fall to you and your friends to eventually take the reins of leadership." "Maybe you don't have to do this all by yourself, mate."(2) It all came to him in a flash of clarity. Harry started laughing. It was perfect. And hilarious. The Marauders would be proud. He couldn't stop laughing it was so funny.

Hermione stared at Harry as he broke out in laughter. Thankfully it was honest to goodness laughter, not evil 'I'm going to take over the world laughter.' She shook him.



"Harry!" she yelled, poking him.

Harry opened his eyes and saw Hermione staring at him, her expression shifting from confused to concerned to annoyed. He tried to control himself before she pulled out her wand again.

"I'm sorry, Hermione. I'm not laughing at your idea. It is as usual brilliant. And you're right that I don't want all that power. But you're wrong on two counts."


"Well, we are in fact going to overthrow the government in a way. Hey it was your idea," he added hastily as she got a look of horror on her face. "And not only do I not want all that power, I shouldn't have it. No one person should have it. That's part of the problem. Instead of getting all that power and being able to make lives better for others, why not just let them make it better for themselves?"

Hermione stared at Harry blankly for a few seconds, following his thoughts. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth, then she started laughing as well. "Oh, that's brilliant. And it gets you off the hook."

"Well, we still have to do all the work. And how do we find out if it actually will work?"

"We'll just have to try it."

"We'll need volunteers if it does."

"Call a meeting for after tomorrow's trial, then meet with Kingsley."

"We're going to need some help. We can't involve Kingsley too much officially, or he'll get in trouble. We need someone pureblood enough to walk us through this, but who understands the non magical world enough that they'd want to help."

Hermione thought for a moment, then smiled. "Andromeda. She's a Black, but married a firstborn. And we have to talk with her about Head of House Black anyway."

"Brilliant! If it doesn't work, I give Head of House Black to Teddy and we take off. If it does work, we take over the Wizengamot, then we take off."

"You'd leave anyway?"

"Of course. We have to find your parents, and it should be soon. We don't have to stay away permanently if we can make things better, but there's no reason we can't take a long holiday. I say we deserve one."

A huge smile lit up Hermione's face and she wrapped Harry in a huge hug. Harry squeezed back, liking this more and more. A sudden thought worried him.



"I hate to ask, but what about Ron?"

She lifted her head up. He loved looking into her eyes. "What about Ron?"

"What are we going to tell him about…you know?" and he tightened his hug.



"That I owe him five galleons."

"What?" That was not an answer he expected.

"It's not yet Christmas, and we're going out. That was his bet. I thought he was crazy, but…." She shrugged and kissed him again.

"When did that happen?"

"That's one of the things we talked about. After we decided that we weren't suited, he said he always knew you'd be better for me, but he was glad that he and I had the opportunity to give it a go. At least he wouldn't always be wondering. Then he said you and I would be together by Christmas, I said he was crackers and it turned into a bet."

"Ron Weasley said all that?"

"Yeah, I was impressed too."

"Well, that's a load off."

Hermione giggled again.


"We're plotting to overthrow magical Britain and you're nervous about what Ron might think about us going out?"

"Well, one's the right thing to do, the other had a high likelihood of getting very messy."

Hermione just shook her head. "That's my Harry."

Harry liked the sound of that. He sighed. "Want some tea?"

"I'm kind of happy where I am."

Happy. "Happy. Yes." He pulled out his wand. "I have a new, very happy, memory." This earned him another kiss. Pointing his wand at the portrait, he said very quietly, "Expecto patronum."

Prongs appeared out of his wand, larger, brighter, and more solid appearing than ever. It trotted around the room before leaping up at the portrait, splashing against it. A silver light enveloped it, fading slowly. No one was moving, but the colours seemed brighter, the depth deeper.

Hermione tightened her hug. "Well done, Harry." Her stomach let out a little rumble. "Maybe some tea and scones would be good."

They plunked themselves down on the couch and grabbed a mug of tea and a scone. The tea was still hot, the scones warm. "Thank Merlin for Kreacher," Harry said.

"Yum," agreed Hermione. They sat quietly for a few minutes.

"So how do we do this?" asked Harry.

Hermione dug in her pocket and pulled out her DA galleon. She tapped it a few times with her wand. "First, we notify everyone to stay after the trial tomorrow for a meeting, just, like, that." She put the galleon away. "We'll make note of those that still need to be alerted beforehand and at lunch."

"Second, like I said we need to talk with Andromeda. Today if we can. We need to talk about Teddy and Head of House. It might work best legally if she gives up claim of Head of House on Teddy's behalf, but then you make him the Heir and her the regent. Once you get Head of House, you can do what ever you have to do to make her a Black again according to the family rules. We also need to see if she will be Proxy for some of our younger Hogwarts' members that might suddenly find themselves with a Wizengamot seat, and tutor for the rest of us on how purebloods think. We'll send Kreacher with a note when we get back."

She continued. "Then we talk with Kingsley about visiting the Death Eaters in prison. We need a reason to want to see them."

"That came to me earlier. Dumbledore was big on redemption and forgiveness, even wanted to give Riddle the chance to feel remorse and heal his soul. I'm sure Kingsley picked up some sense of that."

"Ooo, nice one. If he needs convincing I'll add something about needing closure or some such."

Harry laughed. "Do we feel bad about doing this to him?"

"He needs plausible deniability. We don't have to convince him so much as anyone who might question his decision to let us do this. I give him even odds on figuring it out but not caring."

They sat and enjoyed their tea and scones. "You really think this will work?" Harry asked.

"As you said, magic is screwy. You might be the heir by descent. Then there's the whole shared a soul for most of your life, shared blood and therefore your mum's sacrificial magic, defeated him in combat half a dozen times, and apparently hand delivered a chunk of his soul to the afterlife. I don't know of any two people more closely intertwined than the two of you."

"Eww. Now that you put it like that, I feel all slimy."

"Harry, you willingly sacrificed yourself to save the rest of us. I think you can safely say any sliminess has been removed."

"Humph. Though a story about defeating him in combat and getting control over the Mark that way might be more impressive to the Death Eaters than telling them they killed off enough other purebloods to leave me the heir. "

They finished their tea.

"Shall we?" Hermione asked.

"Of course. Think Ron is up yet?"

"Only if Kreacher has started cooking lunch and the aroma woke him."

"We'll find out. Kreacher?"

Kreacher appeared with a soft 'crack.'

"Yes, Master Harry?"

"Thanks for the tea and scones, they were lovely."

"Of course, Master Harry." Kreacher gathered up the plates and cups onto the tray, and it all vanished. "What else can I do for you?"

"We're about done here, we were wondering if Ron was up yet."

"Not yet, Master Harry, but the roast just went in the oven."

"How's the magic of the house?"

Kreacher paused for a moment. "The wards are recharging. The house is the same." He looked at the portrait. "The portrait has easily detectable magic. Not nearly as much as it should, but much more than when we came."

"Excellent. Can you take us back to Grimmauld Place?"

"Of course, Master Harry. But you should seal the house again."

"How do I do that?"

"Somewhere in the house or your vaults should be the Potter Family Codex or similar collection, which will have all the specifics of the Potter history, wards, manor, spells, and other magic. In the meantime, now that the house has recognised you, you should be able to seal the doors the same way you opened them."

"Perhaps without the kicking and swearing."

"Sorry about that."

"No need to apologise Harry, and I was just teasing."

They left the house and Harry pulled the doors shut. "Close," he said. The doors clicked and he again felt the tug in his gut. "Humph." He wiggled the handles. They were locked. He stood staring at the doors, and ran his hand over the smooth wood.


"Sorry, Hermione. Just nervous I guess."

"About what?"

Harry turned and gave her a big hug, kissing the top of her head. "Today has been a very up and down day, but on the whole one of the better ones I've ever had." Hermione gave him a big squeeze. "So far in my life, everything important to me has been taken away. I just worry that if I leave here I'll never find it again, or that you'll disappear somehow too. I know it's not rational, but…."

Hermione squeezed again. "Oh, Harry. I'm not going anywhere, and if nothing else I'll make sure the rest of your life makes up for your losses so far. As for coming back here… where exactly is here, Kreacher?"

"County Hampshire, Mistress Hermione. Due east of Twyford."

"Certainly close enough to apparate ourselves. Prove you can open the doors again then we'll prove you can get here on your own."

Harry sheepishly placed his hands on the doorknobs and said, "Open." He felt the tug again, and the handles turned. "Thanks for being patient with me." He sealed the doors again.

"Of course, Harry."

Something clicked in Harry's mind. For a long time, they had been saying 'of course' to each other. He couldn't really remember when it started. But now it meant a great deal, a depth and permanence to whatever their relationship had been, was now, and what it might be. Somewhere along the line, 'of course' had come to mean 'I love you' as well. He turned and looked at the mountain again. It was bigger and more magnificent than just a few minutes ago. He wrapped Hermione in another hug, holding her silently.

"Harry?" Hermione asked after a minute.

"How long?"

"How long what?"

"How long have we said 'of course' to each other?"

"What… oh." She quickly figured out the significance. "A couple years for me." She gave him a squeeze.

"I suppose for me, too. Why haven't we gone out before now?"

Hermione sighed. "It's complicated, Harry. Partly we were too young. Partly our lives have not exactly been normal. Partly we built our relationship without the burden of the hormonal attraction we had for others. Partly we had hormonal attraction for others. Partly you're Harry Potter, hero of the magical world and I'm just a muggleborn witch—"

"Hey. None of that. You know I hate that."

"I know Harry, but it's part of the world we live in."

"Doesn't make it true. Without you, I would have died at eleven. And many times since."

"Thanks, Harry."

"Promise me something?"

"Of course, Harry. What?"

He gave her another squeeze. "From now on, things aren't complicated. You have me and I have you, and that's all we need."

She hugged him tighter and sighed again. "I like that, Harry."

After a minute she turned to Kreacher. "To the gates, Kreacher."

Kreacher took them to the gates and Harry closed, opened, and closed them again. Then Hermione made him apparate to Grimmauld Place and back on his own against his protests that it was unnecessary.

"Think, feel, and know are all different things, Harry. I want you to know you can come back here."

When he popped back, he wrapped her in another hug and stared again into her eyes from up close. "Thank you for all this today, Hermione. I know I want you in my life."

Her eyes crinkled from the wide smile on her face. "Of course." She kissed him again.

They disappeared with a pop back to Grimmauld Place.


They were sitting in the kitchen, enjoying another cup of tea when Ron finally joined them. He was still in his pyjamas and his hair was sticking up in all directions.

"Morning," he said with a large yawn.

"Morning Ron, welcome to the land of the living."

Ron just grunted. Kreacher slid the last few scones and a cup of tea in front of him.

"Thanks Kreacher," Ron said, taking a big bite. After a sip of tea, he seemed more alive.

"What's up for today?" he asked.

Harry blanked for a moment. He still wasn't sure Ron wouldn't be angry. That and Harry was still cautious about what he shared with Ron. He wasn't the best at being discrete. Hermione took pity on him. "We were talking about visiting Teddy. We should hear back from Andromeda soon," she said. "You want to come?"

Ron inhaled deeply, appreciating the smell of the roast. "Nope. I think I'll stay here for lunch. Though visiting family reminds me that I should probably pop over to the Burrow today."

"Just in time for Sunday dinner at the Burrow?"

"Exactly." He turned his attention back to he tea and scones.

Kreacher brought a letter in to Harry. "Ms. Tonks' reply, Master Harry."

"Thanks, Kreacher." He opened it and Hermione leaned in to read.

Ron finished his scones, and looked up to see Harry and Hermione talking quietly about the letter. They sat pretty close. They seemed pretty close. And stayed pretty close. Closer than usual.


They looked up.

"Anything you want to tell me?"

Harry paled. Hermione saw this and laughed. Shaking her head, she pulled five galleons out of her bag.

Ron just smiled, then gave a loud "Hah," grabbing the galleons. "Way before Christmas, too."

Hermione laughed again. "Smug bastard."

"Too right. You all right there, Harry?"

"You sure you're okay with this, Ron?"

"More power to you, mate." He raised his tea in salute. "We're definitely not suited. Besides," he jingled his coins, "it got me five galleons." He looked at Harry for a moment. "You were really worried, weren't you?"

"Well, yeah. You guys seemed to have this thing for years…"

"Not that we're all that old and wise now, but most of that was being too young and nervous to do much. When we finally got up the nerve, well you can see that it didn't last long. Now the pressure's off we get along much better. Don't we, Herms?"

"Much. And don't call me Herms," she said with a smile.

Ron laughed. "See?"

"Well, all right then."

"So what're you guys planning?"

Harry was on more comfortable ground now. "Oh, Hermione's just figuring out how to take over the world."

Ron laughed. "No, seriously, what are you planning?"

"Just making sure that Draco won't get off. Check your DA galleon. We'll have a meeting after the trial tomorrow."

"We're having a meeting on how to make sure Draco goes to jail? Count me in. How was he going to get off?"

"Well, he never actually killed anyone, and Narcissa already testified that he didn't identify Harry when he could have, and she got off."

"He was never very good at being bad, was he? Even you beat him up."

"What do you mean, even me?" Hermione asked as Harry laughed. "And shut it, you," she said, poking Harry in the ribs.

Ron tried to backpedal. "Well, at the time, you must admit you weren't the strapping fighter that you are today."

Hermione tried to reply, but kept busting up instead. Harry trying to keep his laughter in enough not to get poked in the ribs again didn't help. Finally Hermione got herself under control.

"Okay, fine. I'll agree, he wasn't much of a challenge. Even with his two goons."

"See, he was bollocks at the whole evil thing."

"True. But we have to make sure that doesn't become an adequate excuse."

"I'll be there. You guys heading over to Andromeda's?"

"Pretty quick," said Harry, waving the letter. "Should only be gone a couple of hours. Don't eat all the roast."

"I will save some for you both, Master Harry," said Kreacher.


Monday's trial continued like most of the days before. They had covered the planting of the Horcrux diary, and were dealing with Lucius' manipulation of the Ministry, and the Minister. Fudge was already under arrest himself, but as he was merely corrupt and incompetent and never actually tied to Voldemort, his trial was slated for much later. Most of the Hogwarts contingent was there, the few that were missing were contacted by owl and made it for the start of the afternoon session. Hermione had gotten permission from Kingsley to stay after for a while in the courtroom. She did have to promise that there would be no battles or wandering off into restricted areas of the ministry. She was pretty sure he was teasing. Once the courtroom was clear, Hermione stood.

"Um, thank you all for coming. Harry and I—"

Harry snorted. "Hermione, take credit where its due."

"Okay fine, I noticed something during Lucius' testimony, and it got me thinking. I did some checking, and I think I'm right about a couple things, and I need your help."

She pulled a parchment and quill out of her bag.

"Not again," said a voice from the back, prompting equal measures of laughter and grumbling.

George spoke up. "Oi. Shut it." As George seldom said anything lately, this quieted the room. He turned to Hermione.



"More important than how the DA turned out to be?"

"Much." This guaranteed everyone's attention.

"And the parchment?"

"A written binding and oath that will make you unable to discuss what's to follow until released, maybe in about a month."

"Anything illegal?"

"Um, probably not." More grumbling and laughter. "Even if you don't want to participate, this has to remain secret. If you don't sigh, you'll have to leave."

"Give it over." George signed at the bottom without even reading it, and handed it off.

"Just like that?" asked Justin.

George gave Justin a bleak look. "These three pretty much saved all our arses as well as the whole damn country, and I don't know about you, but what I learned in the DA saved my life. If the brains of the outfit says it's important, I'm in."

"Well, if you put it like that," Justin muttered, signing the parchment.

Everyone signed. Hermione addressed the group again. "Right then. You all saw that Narcissa Malfoy was declared innocent. It was a close vote, but she's free. There's only one trial left—"

"You think Draco's going to get off?" asked Lee.

"Yes, that's what we're worried about. He has the Mark, but never killed anyone to get it, never killed anyone at all. He didn't identify Harry when he was captured, and didn't do much in the final battle. Dumbledore went to great lengths to 'redeem' him, and the Wizengamot knows it. We think he'll be fined, but might avoid prison."

"So what do you want us to do?" asked Lee again.

"Nothing about that, we've got that covered, I think. It's what comes after."

"What?" came from about half the group.

"Well, you'll notice that the Wizengamot is down several members. And that might get worse soon. What we need is…"

Hermione laid out part of their plan, Harry as the mighty conqueror convincing the Death Eaters to repent, but minus any discussion about the Mark, to mixed shock and amazement, and in George's case, hilarity. It was the first time he had laughed since the battle. In the end she had plenty of volunteers. No one disapproved, even those from magical families. She and Harry would be busy for the next couple of weeks.


"Let me get this straight," said Mr. Harris. "You want me to be on retainer to record and file the last will and testament of convicted Death Eaters?"

"Yes, sir," said Harry. "Hermione did some checking, and you come highly recommended. You practice law in both the magical and non magical world, and are aware of issues pertaining to both. And you specialise in wills and estates."

"Yes, yes, and I'm muggleborn as well. All of which seems to make me the least likely candidate for this."

"You might be surprised, sir. It may turn out to be an asset."

If it were anyone other than Harry Potter, Mr. Harris would have turned them out by now. 'Unlikely' seemed to describe much of what he knew of Harry and Hermione's stories. Somehow they always seemed to come out on top. "What exactly are you proposing?"

"We're hoping to meet with them before their convictions, see if any of them would like to make restitution for their actions. They're still able to make or remake a will before then. If they're unable to pay you, I would provide the money."

"Unless of course Harry or I were a beneficiary. That would be a conflict of interest. We were hoping you could write that off if it happened. For now, we would just need your agreement, and a stack of business cards to give them if they were interested."

"You're serious about this."

"Yes, sir."

"And you think they'd be willing to hire me?"

"It would be part of their, um, repentance. They wouldn't contact you if they weren't willing."

"Anything else?"

"Well, I may need some help with the Black estate. It's a mess at the moment."

That got Mr. Harris' attention, even more than the thought of dealing face to face with a bunch of Death Eaters. The Black estate was rumoured to be huge. Writing off fees for a few wills would be no problem.

"And if you could smooth things out with Gringott's, that would be great."

"Gringott's. Is that all? You don't do things by halves, do you Mr. Potter?" Mr. Harris was back to definitely earning his money. On the other hand, there might be a lot of it, for a long time. His life had seemed so simple when he got up this morning.

"You have no idea, sir."


"Let me get this straight," said Kingsley. "You want to meet with each and every convicted Death Eater, to offer them a chance to show remorse?"

"Yes, sir." Kingsley's eyebrows went up at the 'sir'.

"You going to push for reduced sentences for those that do?"

"No, sir. They all deserve what they're going to get. It's more of a matter of the state of their souls."

His eyebrows went up further.

"It's what Dumbledore wanted, sir. He believed in redemption. I even encouraged Riddle to try to save his soul—"

"I know, I was there. I couldn't figure out why then, and I still can't."

"Is there anything more important than the state of your soul, sir? Or showing mercy to those that deserve it?"

"That's where we may disagree, and where I disagreed with Dumbledore. Who deserves it."

"I still believe in consequences, sir, which may be where Dumbledore and I are different. As I said, I won't be trying to change their sentencing in any way."

Kingsley stared at them intently for a full minute. "All right. I think it's a fool's errand, but they are entitled visitors, so I can't stop you. I'll assign some Aurors."

Harry and Hermione looked at each other. "Could they remain outside? Some of this may get personal and private," asked Hermione.

Kingsley nodded slowly. "I suppose we can arrange something safe. Who would you like to meet with first?"

"I think the Carrows, sir."

Kingsley shook his head. "I can't see this going well, but if you're sure?" They both nodded.

"All right, we'll give the Carrows a try and see what happens."

"Thank you, sir."


"Let me get this straight," said the Auror in charge of the holding cell wing. "The two of you want to meet with the Carrows?"

Harry and Hermione nodded.

"Both at the same time?"

They nodded again.

"Without us in the room?"

They nodded yet again.

The Auror sighed. "If it wasn't the two of you, and if you didn't have the letter from the Minister, I wouldn't even consider it." Harry and Hermione just looked back at her innocently.

She sighed again. "All right. I'll rig up something from the violent prisoner protocols."

"Thank you, ma'am," they both said.


"You're sure you want to do this?" asked the senior Auror.

"Yes, ma'am," said Harry.

"It's Angela, not ma'am. All right then. They'll be restrained in their chairs. There'll be a table between you, and the door'll be behind you. There's a large rune on your side of the table, hit it if you need help. You're sure you don't want us in there with you?"

"We'll be fine, Angela. If things aren't going to go well, it'll be very brief. If it's going well, it'll still only be a little while."

"Right. I'm still going to poke my head in after about ten minutes."

They reached a desk next to a heavy steel door. "I'm sorry, but no wands beyond this point." They handed their wands to the Auror at the desk. "This way."

Angela and her partner led them through the steel door into the Ministry holding cells. The first door on the right was the interrogation room. Cell doors stretched down both sides of the long corridor. It was eerily quiet, probably due to liberal use of silencing charms. Her partner opened the door and proceeded them in.

Alecto and Amycus were chained to chairs on the opposite side of a heavy table, an Auror standing behind each. All the furniture was fixed to the floor, and a large blue rune glowed in the middle of the near edge of the table. One Auror cuffed Amycus on the back of the head. "Remember what we told you." Amycus glowered but said nothing. Harry and Hermione sat on their side of the table and the Aurors filed out.

"The door is silenced, so you'll have to hit the rune or open the slot if you need us," Angela said, pointing to a small sliding panel about at eye level.

"Thank you. We should be fine."

As soon as the door was shut, Alecto was screaming at Hermione, "Filthy mudblood whore, I'll gut you with a spoon and string you up by your innards …" and Amycus started in on Harry, "Halfblood freak! Think you've won, do you? I should've sliced you to pieces when I had the chance…"

Hermione looked calmly over at Harry. "Now would be fine."

Harry took a deep breath, and said quietly, "Silence."

Amycus and Alecto broke off their invectives to laugh loudly at Harry, but seconds later their eyes opened wide. Amycus looked at Harry in astonishment. "The Mark. It burns. How…?" he started.

"Silence," Harry said quietly again. They both fell silent. They stared at Harry in a combination of rage and shock, and struggled against their bonds, but couldn't speak.

Harry looked over at Hermione. "Brilliant, as usual."

Hermione smiled a small smile. "Thanks, Harry. Are you sure you can do this?"

"I really don't like it, but as you said, maybe some good can come of it."

He turned to the Carrows. "Mr. Carrow, Ms. Carrow. We're here to offer you a chance for redemption. No reduction in your sentence, no change in the final outcome, just a chance to unburden yourselves and mend the damage to your souls."

"The first part, I'm sorry to say, you don't have a choice in. As you can see, since I defeated Riddle yet again, this time permanently, I inherited control over the Mark." Harry paused. "Just out of curiosity, what exactly was the oath you swore when you got your Mark?"

Amycus struggled to stay silent, but the pain in his Mark and the compulsion to obey became too much. "On my life, my magic, and my soul, I pledge my eternal obedience to my Lord."

"Oh my," said Hermione.


"Well, it implies that you could strip them of their magic or even kill them through the Mark, just by wanting to."

Harry paled as much as Amycus and Alecto did. He struggled to keep on task.

"Let's hope it doesn't come to that." He turned back to Amycus and Alecto, who watched him warily. "So this is my command. Alecto will make a will, leaving everything to Amycus. Amycus will make a will, leaving everything, including Head of House Carrow, to Lee Jordan. Remember that. Lee Jordan. In the event you are sentenced to life in prison rather than death, you will still assign Head of House Carrow to Lee Jordan. Here is the lawyer you will use."

He slid a card for Mr. Harris onto the table. "You will present this as your own idea. If anyone asks you why, you will say it is out of a sense of remorse. You will tell no one about my control over the Mark or that the Mark has any influence over you. You will not attempt to hurt or kill yourself before your sentence is carried out. You will otherwise act as you wish. Do you understand?"

They still glared, but a "yes" was forced from each of them.

"You will ask for Mr. Harris as soon as we leave." Harry sighed.

"The second part of your redemption is completely voluntary. If you wish to apologise to me, or Hermione, or anyone else you harmed, just ask and you will be given the opportunity."

From the looks on their faces, that was the last thing they would ever do. Harry hoped a trip through the veil or a kiss from a dementor would be their last act.

"I miss anything?" Harry asked Hermione.

"No, I think that covers it. Shall we?"

They stood and stopped before the door. Harry released the Carrows from their silence just as Hermione slid open the slot. The door swung open rapidly, a wand appearing at each edge. Angela raised her eyebrows at the calm Harry and Hermione before her and the strangely quiet Carrows still seated at the table.

"You two all right, then?"

"Just fine, thanks," said Harry. "The Carrows have a request for you."

Angela poked her head into the room.

"We need a lawyer," Amycus grumbled, nodding at the card on the table.

Angela turned to stare at Harry and Hermione. Harry just shrugged. "I think they're still entitled to one."

"Right, then. Well. Anything else we can do for you?"

"Actually yes," said Hermione. "Since this went so well, we'd like to meet with these people today if we could," she said, handing her a small roll of parchment.

Angela's eyebrows threatened to disappear into her hairline as she unrolled it and read the names. "You're sure about this?"


It took until late afternoon the next day, but they met with all the surviving Death Eaters, from Avery to Yaxley. They anticipated a dozen Wizengamot seats outright and nearly twenty Heads of House, longstanding purebloods all, to change hands in the coming weeks. Mr. Harris was going to be very busy.


The next day they returned to Lucius' trial, just in time to hear about the end of the basilisk. Harry, and many others, had already given testimony about it all; Lucius confirmed and explained it all thanks to the veritaserum. Harry was pleased the bit about freeing Dobby and Lucius getting knocked on his arse was included, it generated smirks and laughs throughout the room.

After the day's session, the Hogwarts' contingent met again. Harry and Hermione briefly outlined their accomplishments to date.

Ron spoke up. "They all agreed?"

"Well, I did defeat Riddle several times. They seemed to feel obligated or something," Harry fudged.

Ron started laughing, and couldn't seem to stop. "That's brilliant," he said between laughs. "Pureblood snobs taking orders from a halfblood and a muggleborn. Perfect." Several others saw the same irony and humour in the situation, and joined him. Finally Hermione cleared her throat.

"Heh hem." This generated a few laughs of its own. "Right, whatever. There's only two more verdicts to go, and Lucius' trial should be over in a week or two. In the meantime, Andromeda Tonks has agreed to tutor our volunteers for their new positions. Lessons will be each evening from five to six. Harry and I will take a few of you to her apparation point tonight if you want." She handed out strips of parchment. "These are books you might find helpful." This caused a few more laughs.

The list included The Pureblood Directory, Extraordinary Trials in History, Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century, Laws of Conduct When Dealing With Muggles, Legislative Guide to the Proper Use of Magic, Magical Moral Perspective, Modern Magical History, Muggle 'Law & Order' - Complete Guide, Nature's Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy, and A Young Witch's and Wizard's Guide to Proper Behaviour. (3)

"It's mostly tripe, of course, but they'll let you know what we're up against." No one had heard Hermione criticise a book before, and looked over the lists with interest. "If nothing else, you should get the first and last ones the list. They'll tell you who we're dealing with and why they act the way they do. Get a few of the rest and share them around."

"You're really serious about this, aren't you?" asked Katie.

Harry put his hand on Hermione's arm as she was about to answer, and looked at Katie until she shifted uncomfortably. "The 'grown ups' before us either allowed Riddle nearly take over the country or actively supported him. If they'd won, we'd be dead, or for some of you girls, worse." Many faces paled as they understood what he meant.

"We're all currently 'heroes.' If there's a backlash or recurrence, we'll be the blood traitors, enemies, and magic stealers all over again. Believe me, I know how fickle things can be." Some of the group had the grace to blush at that.

Harry summarised his and Hermione's concerns. "Riddle was a halfblood raised in a 'muggle' orphanage. If you're a pureblood in power, how easy is going to be to blame his lack of 'proper upbringing' as the 'true cause' of all the problems, and return things to exactly the way they were that allowed Riddle to come to power in the first place? I'm not going to spend the next hundred years or so in a country like that. Either we change it, or I'm leaving."

Many in the group looked shocked at that, some looked thoughtful, a few were nodding, having already come to the same conclusions. The volunteers had a new look of determination on their faces as they asked to be apparated to the Tonks' home.


Lucius' trial finally came to an end on the following Thursday. In all he was convicted of over three hundred counts of bribery, corruption, conspiracy, Unforgiveables, assault, and murder. There was a sense of relief that it was finally over, the Wizengamot members were nearly numb after the onslaught of crimes they had heard over the past several weeks. The amount of new evidence against those already convicted was immense, and there was debate on whether some needed to be retried, or if it should just be included at the sentencing. Needing a break, they had called a recess for Friday, postponing Draco's trial until the following Monday. They filed out quietly, looking forward to a few days off.

Harry and Hermione went down to the main floor of the courtroom and waited until Kingsley had gathered his parchment and finished talking with various exiting Wizengamot and Ministry members.

"You two again?"

"We need to talk," said Hermione.

Kingsley frowned. "This going to be like the last time? Every person you talked to has filed a new will. Mr. Harris has never been in the Ministry so much before, now he's practically an employee of the Hall of Records. I dread to find out what's going to happen when those wills are executed."

"Nothing bad, we promise. But our conversation needs to be private."

"Humph." He led the way to his office.

After getting them seated with a cup of tea, he tapped his wand to the crystal on his desk that sealed the door and prevented eavesdropping. "All right, I'm listening."

Harry let Hermione do the talking. "We'd like to talk with Mr Malfoy."

"That follows, I suppose—"

"And we'll need you, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Parker, and a few Aurors that you're sure are absolutely, one-hundred-percent, trustworthy in with us for the last part of the conversation."

Kingsley frowned and sat back in his chair. "Is this going to effect the rather lengthy trial we just finally finished?" he asked after a minute.

Harry and Hermione looked at each other. "Unlikely," Hermione said. "We'll certainly ask his advocate and the prosecutor for a formal agreement, but I'm pretty sure everything will stand."

"And I'm supposed to take the word of a seventeen year old witch on that?"

Harry tensed. "She—" he started loudly.

Hermione put a hand on his arm. "I suppose we could talk with the press instead. But then his verdict likely would come into question and you might have to do it all over again."

Kingsley looked at them incredulously. "Are you trying to blackmail the Minister of Magic?"

"Oh, no sir. Merely postulating on the likely outcomes of events given the rules of our legal system."

Kingsley started to laugh, softly at first, then louder, his deep voice echoing off the office walls. Finally he was able to talk again. "Oh, I feel better. The last few months have been brutal. Now then, why don't you tell me what you're up to, so there's no nasty surprises when we have our little 'chat' with Mr. Malfoy."

"Well, sir," she began, and laid out her concerns regarding the Malfoys' possible plans to an increasingly concerned Kingsley. They left out any mention of the Mark.


The next morning, Harry and Hermione were led into a different, larger, interview room. The setup was the same, but there were more chairs on their side of the table. Lucius sat calmly on the other side. He remained silent until the door closed.

"So, Mr. Potter. Come to gloat?"

"No. We have come to offer you the same opportunity we gave all the rest of the Death Eaters."

Lucius briefly glanced at Hermione, his gaze flicking down her body before returning to Harry, otherwise ignoring her completely. Harry was offended by this far more than any cursing by any of the other Death Eaters. Hermione put her hand on his arm. Harry took a deep breath. They had talked about this, and he worked to calm himself. Lucius just sniffed and if possible seemed to look down his nose at them even further.

"Near the end, Dumbledore talked with me about souls, and advised me to offer Riddle the chance to repair his, to feel remorse for his actions. We've offered the same to all of his servants, and now we're offering the same to you. If you want to apologise to me or Hermione, or anyone else, now would be the time."

Lucius' upper lip crinkled fractionally. "My only regret that I would share with you is that I didn't kill you when I had the chance. You are a waste of magic, understanding nothing of what it means to be a wizard. Otherwise, I have nothing further to say to anyone."

"Funny, that—" said Hermione.

"Keep her silent, Potter. She should not speak in the presence of her betters. You are barely worth talking to as it is."

Hermione's hand on his arm was the only thing keeping him from jumping up on the table and kicking Lucius' teeth down his throat. That and what was to come next.

"Well. That was part one. Part two is a history lesson. Do you remember the prophecy, Lucius? Oh, that's right, you failed to get it and got arrested while the rest of us escaped. Well, the words aren't really important, but the prophecy bound Riddle and my lives together until one of us finally killed the other. Then he nearly gets offed by casting a curse at me, and I end up with a chunk of his soul in my forehead. Then he takes my blood and uses it to make a body for himself. Then he kills me personally, and I get to deliver the chunk of his soul in my head to the afterlife."

Lucius was displaying great disinterest in anything Harry was saying until his mention of the afterlife, when his eyes widened slightly.

"Yes, Lucius, there is an afterlife. I've been there, and old Tommy using my blood, containing the protection my mother, my muggleborn mother, provided, saved me yet again and allowed me to come back. I'm quite sure your experience in the afterlife is going to be nothing like mine. But on the bright side, you'll be back serving your master soon, and I'm sure he'll spend eons expressing his displeasure with your inadequacies."

Lucius was reddening slightly, and his lips thinned into a straight line, but other than that he still didn't react.

"Where were we? Oh yes. Well, as Hermione rightly pointed out, it's very unlikely that there have ever been two wizards more closely bound than Riddle and I. And in the end I defeated him, his body, his magic, and his soul not just once but several times. This got her thinking, magic and prophecy have this funny thing for symmetry. So she wondered, what happens to the Mark? Were we close enough, bound enough by sharing souls and blood and prophecy, that control of the Mark falls to me?"

This finally spurred Lucius to break his silence. "Preposterous! You're not worthy to receive a Mark, much less control it. You are weak, ignorant, inferior in all ways—"


"How dare you speak to—" Lucius' eyes widened in disbelief as first the Mark on his arm started to burn and then he was compelled to be silent.

"I did say it was a history lesson, Lucius. You didn't think we would test this out on you, did you? We've met with every known Death Eater and been through the same thing with them. The whole process has been distasteful to say the least, but I must admit to looking forward to this, just a little."

"Bark like a dog."

Lucius turned red, with hate-filled eyes, as he was forced to obey.

"Now sound like a cat."

"Now like a pig."

"Now sing 'I'm a Little Teapot'."

Surprisingly, Lucius knew the words, and even more surprisingly, had a lovely singing voice.

"Harry, that's enough," said Hermione quietly, but not until after Lucius had made it through the first verse and looked fit to explode.

"You may be silent." Lucius stopped singing but the hateful glare continued.

"Right, to business. My command to you, that you must obey as you pledged everything you are to the one in control of the Mark, is that you will make a new will. Here is the lawyer you will use." Harry placed the card on the table. "You will disinherit your wife and son, divorce Narcissa and cast Draco out of the Malfoy family. You will leave everything that you have, including your estate, your vaults, anything hidden away wherever it might be which you will carefully list out, and most especially Head of House Malfoy, to Dennis Creevy."

Draco had obviously mentioned the Creevys in his letters home, enough anyway for Lucius to recognise Dennis as the 'mugglest' of all possible recipients of the Malfoy wealth and power. Harry didn't think it was possible, but Lucius turned a few shades darker of red.

"Calm yourself, Lucius," Harry said, and remarkably he did. "Huh. Excellent. Now for the important bits. You will present this as your own idea. If anyone asks you why, you will say it is out of a sense of remorse. You will tell no one about my control over the Mark or that the Mark has any influence over you, or anything that would even suggest that I or Hermione had anything to do with this other than a pleasant but compelling conversation. You will not mention anything about the afterlife other than perhaps your fear of where you might go. You will not attempt to hurt or kill yourself before your sentence is carried out, and you will remain calm until then. You will otherwise act as you wish. Do you understand?"

A very reluctant 'yes' was drug from Lucius.

"You will make no further efforts to fight my commands. Do you understand?"

"Yes," came again, this time completely naturally. Lucius' colour was nearly back to normal.

"Excellent. Now, seeing as how you're the last Death Eater, you get a part three. It's really the reason we decided to do all this to begin with. We took Draco's name, and his money. Now we're going to take his freedom. Hermione also figured out your plan to make sure he was found innocent. We're going to put paid to that too."

Despite Harry's command that he remain calm, Lucius turned pale as Harry revealed that they knew his secret.

"Now then. More instructions. You will continue to remain calm. You will treat Hermione with respect. You will cooperate with those about to enter this room, and answer all questions posed to you by me, Hermione, or the Minister, and confess fully your bribery of Mr. Mitchell, the Wizengamot members, anyone else you may have bribed, and Mr. Parkers' role in all of it. Do you understand?"

"Yes." They could hear his defeat even through his command-induced calm.

"Shall we?" Harry asked.

"I think we're ready." Hermione went to the door and opened the slot. "Come in, please."

Kingsley, Mitchell, Parker, and a few Aurors filed into the room. Parker took the seat next to Lucius, Mitchell and Kingsley flanked Harry and Hermione. The Aurors stood unobtrusively against the walls around the room.

Hermione welcomed them in. "Thank you for coming, Minister, Mr. Parker, Mr. Mitchell. We've been having a conversation with Mr. Malfoy, and like the rest he would like to do a couple of things. He wishes to consult with Mr. Harris about his estate. He also wishes to try to make up for his actions by adding some further confessions."

"What's this?" asked Mr. Parker sharply. "The trial is over. It's a little late to be bringing more charges. And I would handle anything regarding his estate."

"No more charges," said Hermione. "No more trials. I suppose the first thing to do is to grant Mr. Malfoy immunity for whatever he is about to confess, but no leniency in sentencing either. This is about repentance and the state of Mr. Malfoy's soul, not criminal prosecution."

"Mr. Parker, Mr. Mitchell, can we agree that whatever Mr. Malfoy voluntarily confesses in this limited setting will be immune from prosecution?" asked Kingsley. "I agree that the trial is over, and I really can't see whatever he confesses here altering his sentence substantially. If this is about repentance, I would be interested in allowing Mr. Malfoy the opportunity."

Mr. Parker and Mr. Mitchell looked at each other warily, looking for pitfalls and loopholes, and Mr. Parker had a rather lengthy whispered conversation with Lucius. He wasn't satisfied as Lucius wouldn't provide any specifics, but eventually conceded that he couldn't stop him. Finally they called for parchment and a quill, and a deal was hammered out. Mr. Parker, Mr. Mitchell, and Mr. Malfoy all signed, and Kingsley finally addressed Lucius.

"All right Mr. Malfoy, what did you want to tell us?"

Lucius just looked to Harry and Hermione, and Hermione asked the questions.

"Are you aware of any Death Eaters not currently dead or in Ministry custody?"


"Are you aware of any crimes committed by Cornelius Fudge that he has not been charged with?"


Both Mr. Parker and Mr. Mitchell seemed to be losing their patience with the negative answers, but then Hermione sprung the trap.

"Of all the people you have bribed, who is in this room?"

Several things happened at once. Mr. Parker and Mr. Mitchell both yelled "WHAT?" and leapt to their feet, reaching for wands that fortunately weren't there. An Auror grabbed each by the shoulder from behind and pressed a wand to their neck, quickly causing them to become very, very still. And Mr. Malfoy finished his quiet reply of "Mr. Mitchell."

Kingsley looked up at his Aurors. "Well done." He turned back to Mr. Malfoy. "I'm sorry Mr. Malfoy, you were rudely interrupted. Could you repeat that?"

"Mr. Mitchell."

"I see. Could you tell me what you bribed him for?"

"He was to avoid certain questions during my trial. He was to keep Narcissa from serving time in prison. The same for Draco."

"I see—"

"This is ridiculous," said Mr. Mitchell. "You can't believe any of this, he's just getting back at me for destroying him in his trial. I want him screened for potions and the Imperious, and I want these two questioned under—"

Kingsley glanced at his Auror. "Audrey?" There was a brief red glow and Mr. Mitchell dropped bonelessly to the floor. Everyone else winced. A stunner from point blank range to the neck was going to cause a major headache.

Kingsley looked up to Mr. Parker. "Are we going to have problems with you?"

Mr. Parker shook his head quickly, suddenly remembering that Kingsley was an Auror himself for years before becoming Minister.

"Excellent." He turned back to Mr. Malfoy. "Are you aware of any crimes committed by or bribes taken by Assistant Prosecutor Hughes?"


Kingsley turned to the Auror by the door. "Please fetch Mr. Hughes. Tell him to drop whatever else he's doing, and escort him here with a few rolls of parchment and a dictaquill. Tell him nothing else. You say anything but 'excuse me' to anyone else at all and your psychological fitness eval will start this morning and last twenty years. Are we clear?"

"Sir." The Auror braced briefly to attention before opening the door and dashing off.

"Harry, Hermione, thank you. I didn't believe you, I didn't want to believe you, but you were right."

He turned again to Mr. Malfoy. "And Mr. Parker is in on it too?"

"Yes. He delivered the money."

Kingsley pondered Mr. Parker. "Well, we have the deal in writing. Mr. Malfoy is free to answer or not answer anything we ask, has immunity from anything he does confess to, and it was apparently his idea anyway. So I'm fairly certain his rights won't be violated in any fashion. I'm really not interested in prosecuting Mr. Malfoy any further, and leniency is off the table as well. So I'm not sure we really need Mr. Parker here at all. Would you care to confess now, Mr. Parker?"

Surprisingly, Mr. Parker just slowly slid to the floor, whimpering. Corruption involving a capital case, especially a multiple capital case, could see him in prison for decades. If any conspiracy charges stuck he could share Lucius' fate.

"Find them cells nearby, search them thoroughly. Strip them down, leave a prison uniform. Speak to no one. Return here immediately."

An unconscious Mr. Mitchell and a still limp Mr. Parker were hauled out by the arms by two Aurors each just as Mr. Hughes was escorted in, eyes wide in shock.

"Minister, what's going on?"

"Mr. Hughes, welcome. It appears you're going to be busy today, and for the next several weeks. Mr. Malfoy would like to confess to further crimes, and it appears they involve Mr. Parker, Mr. Mitchell, and an as yet unknown number of Wizengamot members. Is there any reason for me to worry that you will need the same treatment as Mr. Mitchell?"

Mr. Hughes gulped. "No, sir." He recovered from his surprise. "Of course not, sir."

"Have a seat."

Harry took Hermione's hand. "Mr. Malfoy, I think you should cooperate fully with Mr. Hughes. Tell him everything." It may have been his imagination, but Harry thought behind the command-induced pleasant facade, he could see deep in Lucius' eyes rage and hate and despair. Or maybe not. He sat back, holding Hermione's hand, while yet again Lucius Malfoy began reciting a list of his crimes.


Several hours later, Harry and Hermione sat once more with Kingsley in his office, sipping tea. He studied them intently, eventually breaking the silence.

"Do I really want to know what's going on?"

"Sir?" asked Hermione.

"Please. There's no way in hell every single Death Eater, especially Lucius Malfoy, is going to roll over and play nice just because the two of you have a brief chat with them."

Harry smiled. "Oh, I don't know. I find Hermione very persuasive."

"Perhaps they find Harry's claim of conquest over Riddle compelling," added Hermione. Harry nearly choked on his tea at that. "Regardless, they are still entitled to due process of law and can bequeath their estates as they wish. Whatever they arrange with Mr. Harris is between them and him."

Kingsley just stared at them. Harry sighed. "No, sir. You don't want to know what's going on."

Kingsley stared at them some more. The corners of his mouth twitched. "Perhaps you're right. Anyone else going to be able to tell me what you did?"

"No, sir."

"All right then." Kingsley sipped his tea. "Off the record, whatever it is, I approve."

"Thank you, sir."


Angela led them to the interrogation room for their last meeting. "Same set up as before."

"He knows?"

"Yes. Minister Shacklebolt was in with Prosecutor Hughes. They reviewed all the documents Lucius signed. He wasn't too happy."

"Thanks, Angela. We'll call you in if he's willing to sign." Nothing magical or potentially magical, even just parchment or quills, was allowed in the room without official presence.

Angela opened the door and let them in. As they took their seats, Angela and Draco's guard left. As soon as the door clanked shut, Draco spoke.

"Couldn't be satisfied with ruining my life, scarhead? Had to bring the mudblood whore to gloat? I would've thought that beneath you."

"Why do they all ask that, and why do they all call you that?" Harry asked Hermione, ignoring Draco.

"I'm not sure. Perhaps limited intelligence from excessive inbreeding and limited social exposure from being brainwashed from an early age by purebloods afraid of the wider world. He'd be gloating in this situation, so he can't imagine anyone doing anything else."

"Huh. Maybe. Anyway Draco, as far as ruining your life, personally I would blame your parents and how they raised you. You were pretty much doomed from the start. Your personal choices along the way certainly didn't help. At least you were such an incompetent Death Eater the death penalty is not being considered for you."

"Nice, scarhead. Any other insults you want to pile one?"

"No, but I will ask a favour."

"You're joking, right? A favour? Assuming there was actually something I could do for you, there's no way in hell I would. Even if it benefitted me, I wouldn't just to annoy you."

"It's a small thing, Draco. While I inherited the Black Estate, Head of House was not formally assigned. You, me, and Edward Lupin all have different claims to it, so I'm here to get it sorted. Given that both your family and the Death Eaters actively conspired against and attacked the last remaining members and or Heir of the Black family, namely me, Sirius and his brother Regulus, believe me when I tell you that as both a Malfoy, well an ex-Malfoy, and a Death Eater there's no way in hell you will get it, even if you somehow found the money to hire an advocate to go after it. Rather than wait the couple weeks for the Wizengamot to rule in our favour over this as part of your sentencing, you should just relinquish any claim today."

"Like I said, Potter, I'm not going to do it just to annoy you. If it makes you wait, then you get to wait." Draco began shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

"Draco, you're so pathetic. You think we're so far beneath you, but then you spend your whole life around making sure we know that. If we're that inferior, forget about us and focus on whatever it is that purebloods do."

Draco looked even more uncomfortable, twisting his left arm back and forth in the chains.

"Fine, if it will get you out of my life, I'll do it. You're right, you're not worth my time."

Hermione hopped up out of her chair and opened the slot in the door. "He'll sign."

The door opened and Angela and the guard came in. The guard stood behind Draco with wand tip to his neck. Angela put the parchment and quill on the table, then tapped the chains holding his right arm. They slithered down under the chair. Draco read the brief statement before signing his name.

As Angela tapped the arm of the chair and the chains climbed up to bind Draco again, he said, "There, happy? You going to get out of my life now?"

Harry and Hermione stood to leave. "Draco, if we never see you again, it'll be too soon."


They stopped in the hallway well back from the doors to the Hall of Records. It was empty other than for them. Harry leaned back up against the wall and closed his eyes. Hermione leaned into him and they wrapped their arms around each other. "Think we did it?"

"Hard to know, Harry. He could have just been persuaded. He's had a bunch of nasty shocks today, he really could have recognised the futility of his situation and just wanted us to go away, hopefully for good."


"But, he was twisting his left arm at the end, like his Mark was hurting him."


"I would have to guess yes, Harry. Either way, we got what we need. It's not like we're going to test it out."

"Hell no. I just worry that one of the others is going to find a way to tell, or Draco will figure it out."

"I'm pretty sure the others are all going through the Veil in the next couple of weeks. The remaining Wizengamot members are going to need to be seen as very hard on crime or they'll lose all credibility. So they shouldn't be a problem. If you actually did influence Draco, the other command you gave him was to forget about us. Hopefully that'll keep him from thinking about why he changed his mind and helped us so easily."

"I hope so."

"Me, too. That and he's really not that bright."

"Heh." Harry just rested, enjoying the feel of Hermione next to him. "Was it enough?"

"I think so. We won't have an actual majority, but we'll have both a large block of votes and money, and there's enough support from people like Ms. Longbottom that things are likely to change."

Harry was quiet for a moment. "Was it right?"

Hermione looked up at him. "Are you worried about that?"

"Yeah, I am. They didn't have a choice, we, I made them. It's too much like the whole 'greater good' thing."

She tightened her hug. "One of the things I love about you Harry is your moral compass. You always try to do the right thing, even if it's not just for you. My original idea had you getting all the power and money and making things right for everyone else. You could have taken all that, blackmailed the Wizengamot, and made yourself King if you wanted. Instead you gave it all away so people could make things better for themselves. It won't be perfect, but it will be better, fairer. I find that I don't have to justify any of this."

"Humph. Thanks Hermione."

"Of course. It does help that they'll all likely be dead in a couple of weeks. Removes any temptation."

"Except for Draco. But we already know he makes a terrible minion."

"Heh. True."

"So can we go to Australia, then?"

"I think so. And it might be best if we were out of the country for a while. People might not connect us to all the upheaval then."

"Fat chance of that."

"Fine. I just want to sit on a beach with you, then."

He kissed the top of her head. "That's a better reason. Shall we?"

"Absolutely. Mr. Heatherington said he would be in today. We should help him with his work."

They went through the doors to deliver the parchments from Draco relinquishing any claim to Head of House Black, Andromeda relinquishing Head of House Black on behalf of Teddy, and several from Harry. One asked to be made Head of House, the rest to take effect if that happened; reinstating Andromeda to the family to satisfy any family rules, Teddy declared Heir to House Black, and Narcissa and Draco being cast from the Black family, officially.


Harry and Hermione took their luggage from the cabbie and gave him a nice tip. They headed in towards the Qantas desk to check in. Joining the queue for international flights, they checked to make sure they had all their documents. Something caught Hermione's eye, then she paled. She tugged Harry's sleeve. "Harry."

Harry looked up, and seeing Hermione's face, immediately scanned the area. His eyes widened. Seated on a bench near the door they had come in was a tall blond witch in the blue robes of the Unspeakables looking at them over the top of her paper. She smiled and waved them over.

They stepped out of queue and wheeled their suitcases over. "How…?" asked Hermione.

The Unspeakable smiled again. "Nice to see you again, Ms. Granger. Have a seat."

They sat. The noise of the airport was cut off.

"Disillusionment charm on the way in. Muggle repelling charm and notice-me-not field. Localised silencing charm. Adjust the cameras to just miss these seats." Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Yes, we know all about security cameras and the like. Not everyone at the Ministry is totally clueless about the world."

Hermione laughed. Harry was still worried. "What do you want?" he asked.

"No worries, Mr. Potter. We want several things. The first is to congratulate the two of you on your efforts. Nicely done indeed. There was so much potential for abuse of power, or to just abandon us to decades of the same stagnation, yet you threaded the needle perfectly. We're confident you tipped the scales just enough, and Magical Britain will be brought, kicking and screaming perhaps, into the modern age. Most importantly, on its own, not under the control of just one person." Harry visibly relaxed. "Once the furore dies down of course."

Harry winced. Seventeen more Wizengamot members were arrested and awaiting trial. Every hearing they sat in on had to be examined, and the member questioned under veritaserum about their vote, to see if it had to be redone. Every trial had to be revoted on, and Narcissa was being retried. Harry and Hermione were worried that it all might bring down Kingsley's government, but he came out with the news right away and framed it as continuing the fight on corruption, and now he was more popular than ever.

The wills would start to be processed soon. Mr. Harris said they were all as ironclad as possible, but 'muggleborns' had not sat on the Wizengamot before, and it was indeed going to cause a furore. It seemed like a good time to get out of the country.

"The second is to congratulate Hermione on her brilliant deductions and reasoning. Most magicals have no logic skills whatsoever, and most non-magicals have no intuitive grasp of magic. You, my dear, have both in spades."

Hermione blushed and mumbled a soft "Thank you." Harry just smiled and bumped his shoulder into hers.

"Which brings me to my next issue. Should you decide to return from Australia, and we hope that you will, we wish to have Miss Granger join us in our department. Someone with her skill set would be wasted anywhere else. Though I'm sure the Minister was hoping that someday you would be his Prosecutor."

"I… thank you… but I haven't…" Hermione stammered.

Harry nudged her again. "Told you. Ron, too."

The Unspeakable smiled again. A small disk appeared in her right hand and she turned it over and over with her fingers a few times before flipping it up into the air. Hermione caught it. She turned it over and gasped. It was a S.P.E.W. badge. "How…?"

"There's a few circulating around. Your cover, if you wanted, could be head of Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. No one has ever thoroughly researched elf magic, and we're greatly interested in it. And that department is at the top of the list of needing modernisation. Otherwise you could work in our department on just the magic itself."

Hermione stared at the badge for a moment, before looking up at the Unspeakable. "That's very tempting. But then it would be, wouldn't it?"

The Unspeakable laughed. "Of course it would. We find it best if we work on what interests us. Self motivation is hard to beat. Even if you just wanted to head the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures without working for us, it would still be a great and needed thing. But there's support and knowledge in our department that could assist you in what you wanted to do. Take some time. Find your parents, enjoy Australia, learn to surf, get a tan. But come find me if and when you come back. No matter what you want to do, I can help."

"Thank you."

"No, thank you. And the Minister wanted you to have this." She handed Hermione a small strip of parchment.

Hermione opened it and gasped.

"What?" asked Harry.

She showed him the parchment. It was the street address for a Mr. and Mrs. Wendell Wilkins, in Adelaide.

"Thank you so much."

"It's the least we could do, Ms. Granger. And lastly, for you Mr. Potter." He tensed again.

"I wish to convey the message that the Unspeakables officially find you completely and totally uninteresting. Everyone with the Mark but Draco is gone, the horcruxes are gone, Riddle is gone. We would of course love to talk with you in detail about your experiences, but since many happened when you were an infant, or are totally unreproducible and unverifiable, you are now simply ordinary and boring. We hope you enjoy your normalcy."

Harry grinned, then laughed. "Thanks. I'll certainly try. I think that's the nicest thing anyone at the Ministry has ever said to me."

"We will of course deny ever having said so, or even having met with you. But you're welcome. Now then, we all need to be off. Enjoy your flight." With that, she disillusioned herself. The sounds of the busy airport returned.

Harry and Hermione looked at each other, then got back into the queue to check in. After a few minutes of silence, Harry asked, "Think she knows?"

"I would assume so. She mentioned all the important bits. But she also said you're no longer interesting to them, and that things would be unverifiable, and they would deny ever meeting with you, so I think they're giving us a pass. If we come back, I'm sure we'll have that conversation, purely hypothetically of course, about what the Mark used to be."

"What do you think?"

"About what?"

"All that she said."

"Well, for now the important parts are 'enjoy your flight,' 'take some time,' 'find your parents,' and 'get a tan.' The rest can wait until later."

Harry gently pulled her in for a kiss. "Brilliant as always."

She kissed him back. "Someone has to make up for you being 'ordinary and boring.'"

Harry laughed. "Be my guest."







1-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

2-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

3-Harry Potter wiki site, 'books' page. Except the last one, I made that up.

A/N: I was trying to make the control over the Mark a surprise to the reader as well, but it became an obvious set of cliffhangers and annoying. This way we get to enjoy knowing and anticipating Lucius' downfall, so it's still good.

What little canon there is on the origin of the horcrux attributes it to Herpo the Foul (Harry Potter wiki) but most of fanon puts it in Egypt, so a made the Mark come from there too, seemed to work.

I have no association with Qantas, other than being a satisfied customer.

I don't plan on any more to this story. If I can think I can improve on Harry and Hermione coming together, I might edit it a bit, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it. Now back to my other two stories. Slow going. n