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CLAWS OF A RAVEN
by Tyde

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Epilogue

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It was known as the Fall of Malfoy Manor and all up 21 Death Eaters (including Draco Malfoy) had been sentenced and now resided in Azkaban prison. Several were awaiting the outcomes of their trials on whether or not the Dementor's Kiss should be performed on them. Lucius Malfoy was one such person. He was responsible for many atrocities including the deaths of Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones, Susan's grandparents (in the 1970s), the Butterbeer poisoning, use of the Cruciatus Curse on the Longbottoms (in conjunction with the Lestranges) and Sorora Snape (a minor at the time) and also for the possession of many magical articles of ill repute. Draco was simply charged with illegal curse use and aiding and abetting.

Dumbledore was reluctant to keep the Dementors at Azkaban owing to his intense dislike of them but the newly appointed Minister of Magical Law Enforcement had insisted they stay.

"That way we can have them pay tax although not actually paying them anything for their services" Mundungus had rambled. "Wizards would want paying and a right lot too for having to guard these bastards. Most those prisoners should be shown the pointy end of the wand if you get my drift and no mistake".

Arthur Weasley wondered if somehow this was a devious plan for Mundungus to get out of paying his WAX come June but he couldn't be sure. Arthur was granted the position of Minister of the Order of the Phoenix a month after the captures and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was due to open its door again after the summer with Albus Dumbledore back at the helm.

Snape had been commended for his work in bringing about the downfall of the Death Eaters and rewarded with an Order of Merlin (Second Class). His parents still hurt by his actions over twenty years ago did not turn up to watch him be glorified. It would be a slow and painful process but eventually his father would send an owl to Hogwarts the following Christmas. It was a very short note but it was the only olive branch Snape'd been offered by them. It was a simple request to meet at the Three Broomsticks for a beer or two. Severus had agreed and it was an uncomfortable meeting but it did pave the way for a promising future.

Sirius Black had been cleared of all charges and had moved in with Remus Lupin who was starting up a small business in Portkey production. Sirius had been inducted into the new ranks of Auror and under his command were Percy Weasley and surprisingly Katie Bell who had signed up as soon as Dumbledore had abolished the Ministry. She proved to be a tough but fair enforcer of the law and was still hell on a broom. Percy found himself getting rather warm whenever she entered the room.

The Order of Merlin awarded to Peter Pettigrew posthumously was unceremoniously removed from his mother's possession. History books were magically altered to show the truth of what happened on Halloween 1981 and a strange occurrence was reported in several Muggle Oxford dictionaries. It seems that dictionaries in close proximity to either The Leaky Cauldron or the building that housed the Order of the Phoenix would have a little picture next to the word traitor. It was a faint sketchy outline of a chubby, balding man whose nose seemed to inconceivably twitch the more one stared at it.

Lord Voldemort had not been seen for several months and whispers in the community told of stories that he had retreated into a forest somewhere, shamed of his past and scared for his future. None of this was true of course. He would attack again in the not too distant future but for now he would lick his wounds and plan his revenge.

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Two feet carefully placed themselves on the linoleum-covered floor, one after another as if testing whether it was solid or not. A hand grasped the railing at the end of the bed and pushed down hard. His hips rose off the bed and he stood there in the hospital room, his legs shaking slightly with the effort to keep him upright. A hand came up to rest on his cheek and a face leaned in to give him a quick kiss.

"I'm so proud of you" Sorora breathed as she hugged him to her.

Julian smiled, even through the obvious pain. "And I am in awe of you. You faced your fears and you won, not many people can say that"

She nodded and returned his smile. "It helps that my fear is the type you can put behind bars forever" She led him to the sofa next to his bed and he sank into it gratefully. She snuggled up to her husband, resting her head on his chest. Her mussed up bed hair tickled his nose.

"The MediNurse that came in this morning told me they're reopening the school at the end of the month. Will you be going back to teach?"

Sorora considered this for a moment. For the past month she'd been holed up in a padded room in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. She'd been in and out of reality. Her parents had come to visit but their presence had only served to drive her deeper into her pain. The Petrification Paste had caused her skin to develop large welts over it and scars that could never be made to fade would decorate her torso for the rest of her life. They had ceased the treatment and instead tried a form of mind control which brought the worse up to the surface and was purged. It was similar to the old style Muggle medicine of 'bleeding' patients, but this was with the mind. It opened up a part of the memory that could be 'drained' of impurities.

A week ago the therapy and the herbal potions had brought her back from the brink she was teetering on and into a place she felt slightly more comfortable in being. They had transferred her straight to the room where her husband was and it boosted her spirit. Julian's eyes searched her own for an answer to his question. Running a finger down the length of his nose she kissed him softly. "I don't think so. You and I have too much catching up to do"

"So you're happy to go back to being a contented housewife that occasionally sells herbs from her garden at the village fair?" Julian put his arms around her and pulled her into his lap, his nose nestled itself in the crook of her neck. All pain seemed to have been forgotten as he held the love of his life tightly.

"Definitely. I've had enough experience with the Dark Arts to last me a lifetime" she said lightly. "Maybe we could really settle down, I think it's time we started on those children we were always talking about. Now is the time for family. Don't you think?"

He stroked her hair lightly with his hand, flattening it out of its unruly state. "I do. Family is what's important" The pause was only momentary as Julian weighed up something. "How about we start by inviting your brother around for dinner with your parents?"

She raised an eyebrow at that. "I think that would be pushing it. Plus I wouldn't like to see an all out Snape glaring competition in our dining room thank you very much. Mum's is particularly ferocious you know. Besides, the house isn't fire proofed"

Julian regarded her carefully and put his finger under her chin, bringing her face up to his so he could look into her eyes, "Seriously?"

She gave a brief embarrassed smile and looked away, "I'm just not ready to see him yet".

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A large trunk sat at the end of the bed and Hedwig clicked her beak softly in her cage. The wardrobe doors lay open and betrayed the emptiness inside. Harry lay on his lumpy bed that had been stripped of sheets and blankets in the smallest bedroom in Privet Drive and checked his watch for what must have been the umpteenth time. Sirius was coming to collect him at 11.30 but it was still ten minutes away.

Harry left his mind to drift and he thought back to the conversation he'd had with Dumbledore months ago, the day after Voldemort had disappeared again. They had been sitting on a wooden bench in the backyard of Remus's cottage. Harry had been permitted to remain a few extra days before he had to go back to the Dursleys, but only as a temporary measure until Sirius could establish a home for them. Harry remembered his mind had been racing from the events of the previous day.

"How did you know that Voldemort would come to the cottage?"

"I didn't. Remus set the Portkey to deliver whoever used it straight to wherever I may be at the time. Mister Weasley and Miss Granger informed me of what had happened"

"You've got brilliant timing. I don't think I would have been able to hold him off for much longer"

"You did very well Harry"

He smiled, but just for a second as the thought that had been upsetting him reared it's head. "But I used an Unforgivable Curse" he dug the toe of his shoe into the dirt. "Is it true what Voldemort said? Will it affect me?"

"Only if you let it. I myself have used Unforgivables. That is part of the reason I wrote the law. The struggle of what is right and wrong is never easy Harry"

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Harry watched a few owls circling the night sky, some wild and some with notes tied to their legs off to deliver their owners messages. A question had been weighing on his mind and he had been itching to ask. "Why did Voldemort just leave?"

"There is a long history between myself and Lord Voldemort. Sometimes he is cruelly reminded of that and it is enough to send him away. But I will not always be here Harry and he will not always remember"

"So it will never end? I'll always be looking over my shoulder?"

"Truthfully, yes. But you will have help along the way" and he had looked up at the sky where millions of stars twinkled in agreement.

The sound of the metal knocker on the front door being put to use snapped Harry out of his memory and within minutes Sirius was at his doorway, ready to take him to his new home and away from the Dursleys forever.

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THE END

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Author's note: Thank you to everybody that reviewed Claws of a Raven and stuck around for the ride. In order of appearance: Akki Torren, CrinkleCutRuffles, Colleen and Fish (the fish), Corrie, jasmin flower, Snape coolgirl, SnapeJuice, Werecat99, mavidian, labrisa, Kaelli Karali, Sárince, samson, Demoness Yasha, Tiffany, kat-tak. I hope you all enjoyed where this ended up.

anntagonist – I think that Ms Rowling is going to have Voldemort around as a threat until the end of book 7 so I didn't want to off him at the end of Harry's fifth year. Plus I just love catch 22 situations. When I wrote it I imagined Voldemort was dancing around like Michael Flatley – Lord of the Dance. It was a bit of a let down ending wasn't it...no fireworks here, I'd already blown the budget with all those Ghost!Julian special effects :o)

Colleen and Fish (the fish) – Definitely Dumbledore in his head. Sorora is the only one going insane in this fic. A bigger badder evil would probably be Alan Rickman in a dress; tap-dancing and singing a Britney Spears song hehe.

CrinkleCutRuffles – you registered...and you don't write :o( Oh well. If you ever do post anything in the future I'll be sure to review, thanks for adding me as your favourites. Sorora and Julian are looking forward to a nice, quiet life filled with an abundance of children.

*yawns* I think I'll go to bed now :oP