Hi everyone. Yes, finally back. I know this has been a long time coming. The muse for this story left. Combined with the fact that I have been fighting a bad spate of migraines that have put me out of work. This is the worse that I have had since I was knocked out of school years ago. Thankfully a new medicine seems to be helping. They don't come every day, but three to four times a week is too often when I take a day to recover. I have been writing some in between, but it wasn't this, because the muse refused to visit. I am sorry, but I had another story that forced itself through my pain addled brain. I actually had a story that was coming at me while I was wearing sunglasses because the screen was too bright and hurt. I know, craziness. Anyway, that one is done and I will be posting and trying to focus back on this one now. I also plan on getting back to work soon when I get cleared by the doc. I hope you enjoy this chapter. As I've said before, I will never abandon a story, even if I leave it for a while.

o-o-o-o

Chapter 26 – Snake Hunting

The next couple of days saw Harry gradually increasing his workouts as he was determined to regain his fitness. Hermione saw to it that he tempered his resolve. Their professors helped the effort by heaping schoolwork on them that required most of his focus as well. Gradually though he felt a bit of his strength returning.

On Thursday night, Tonks arrived a bit earlier than expected and asked that they meet in the apartment first. All of the allies adjourned there first and Hermione and she both laid down privacy wards after she handed Harry a letter with the Black house seal. When Harry opened it, he found what he had expected in the note from Sirius. Andromeda had been reinstated to the house of Black, and her daughter with her, at least until Nymphadora married. That brought them both under the oaths of the Black family. With that assurance, Harry set the note aside and called Dobby to bring them drinks before turning his gaze on Tonks.

"Alright Tonks, you probably know that we've been holding back on some information. Only allies to House Potter have been privy to everything. House Black is an ally. Now that you are part of House Black, that makes you an ally. Are you ready to know everything? This will take a while, and it's a bit much to take."

"Enough already my lord. I'm not daft. I've had enough of the walking on dragonshells. I'm not some princess in a tower. I'm a bloody Auror. And Dobby, don't you have something stronger to drink?"

The elf quaked a bit and nodded before popping out and returning with firewhiskey. Tonks grabbed the bottle, uncapped it and waved it at Harry in an obvious motion to tell him to get on with it. Sighing, Harry begin the long tale of the prophecy and the horcruxes, including removing the one from his head, as well as destroying the others they had found. By the time he was done, their training time for the evening was almost done and the firewhiskey bottle had made a couple of circuits of the room, which had grown quiet as Harry finished. It was Tonks who broke the quiet.

"Well damn, I've heard of a lot of reasons for house secrets, but that definitely caps it. Alright, I understand the snake hunting. Unfortunately, we're out of time tonight. I should have some time this weekend. I was going to meet up with a shag buddy, but you need to get back in shape more than I need to get my brains shagged out. We'll try to meet three times a week at least. Hey you, if you're going to choke on the booze, hand it over. Anyway, I think I'm done in for tonight. Let's plan on Saturday. Maybe at one. Yes, I only have a morning shift. I can meet Chris later then. That will still work both ways. Why is Ron gaping like a fish? Anyway, we'll plan on that. If something changes with my schedule, I'll owl you. Does that work?"

"Sure Tonks, that sounds fine. Thanks. I want to get back in shape before the Death Eaters decide to move again."

"Well then, I'll see you all then. It's almost curfew. Dobby, can you pop me out to the gates?"

The elf left with the Auror, leaving the student allies behind. Ron still looked stunned. Blaise meanwhile found his voice.

"Did she say she needed to get her brains shagged out?"

Hermione looked around at the glazed expressions around the room and shook her head. She decided it was time to clear her apartment.

"Yes, some of us need that on occasion. Now, all of you out!"

Everyone scrambled, with Neville and Ron blustering while their girlfriends chuckled. Hermione then turned back around and looked at her husband. Harry grinned and held out his hand. She took it and allowed herself to be pulled into his embrace. They kissed for long minutes and she briefly had had the fleeting thought that they should study a bit more but then Harry tossed her blouse aside and began to work her bra loose. As he brushed across her nipples, she moaned and any rational thought left her. Soon his clothes began to be tossed as well and her skirt soon decorated a lamp. What had started casual soon gained a frenzy that they hadn't had in weeks due to Harry's convalescence. It was something they both needed and each felt like they were on fire, racing for satisfaction. They enjoyed making love, but now each felt the other's raw, animal need. There was no time to make it to the bedroom. No time for gentle caresses and endearments. Bare minutes after Hermione had scared their friends away, they were grinding against each other, naked and sweaty as their mouths sought to devour and their hands clutched everywhere. They bumped sideways into the couch and Harry was struck by inspiration as he positioned his wife over the couch and spread her hips wide, burying his fingers into her as he did. She was wet and he nearly growled in anticipation, happy that she was ready, as he couldn't wait any longer. A second later he buried himself deep into her from behind. The rough texture of the couch rubbed her clit, only adding to the sensation and causing Hermione to come almost immediately. Harry lasted barely two strokes, aided by the pulsing of his love around his cock. Still, he continued pounding into her, driving them both onward. Later they would both reflect and be glad for the thick stone walls, as neither had cast charms before they began. Eventually they settled and Harry slipped loose from his love. As they caught their breath, he gathered her in his arms and stumbled toward the bedroom, falling across the bed as they lay together, staring at each other with their minds and hearts linked.

The next morning the Potters would have been late to class if their elf had not arrived, blindfolded, ringing a bell to wake them. He also carried a breakfast tray. They thanked him and took the tray. It was unusual to have breakfast in bed on a week day, but after their exercises the night before, they welcomed the respite. Still, they had to rush a bit more than the weekend. After eating, they made the unfortunate decision that they should shower separately if they wished to be at class on time. Still, they just barely made it, with Harry's hair still dripping. Given Hermione's parting comment the night before, Ron was groaning at what their late appearance meant.

Saturday saw the Potters returning to their morning exercises and then back to their studying. After lunch, everyone was waiting outside the Great Hall when Tonks arrived and they all made their way to the Room of Requirement for their training. Now that she knew the full truth, Tonks drilled them with renewed fervor and even seemed more understanding of Harry's snake drills. By the end of the training session, everyone was groaning and went their separate directions to hot showers.

The following Monday saw the official one month countdown to the first OWL test and Hermione truly begin to fret and outlined revision schedules for herself and Harry, with a strong emphasis to their fifth year friends that they would be wise to join them. Their professors seemed to be of the same mind and poured on the pressure even more than before.

One curiosity that was added to that Monday was the addition back to their classes of a pompous young Lord Malfoy. Draco had left school several days after he had taken the dreaded oath. Nothing had been officially acknowledged about Lucius' death, but Draco had been gone one night and had not returned for over a week. Now he was back wearing lord's robes and strutting about the castle. At least the oath kept him from harassing the Potters and their allies. He still looked at Harry with disdain, but he said nothing to them at least. And of course they knew that the Dark Lord was no longer able to lodge on Malfoy grounds any longer either as well. Draco would probably always hate him, but at least he could never actively oppose him outright.

Tonks kept her promise and increased their exercises to three times a week. It was a chore given their increased studies, but Quidditch was done for the year at least. It had been a tight year, with an amazing three way run between Gryffindor, Slytherin and Ravenclaw. A bare fifty points separated the three, but Gryffindor had pulled out a win for the cup, causing a couple of rare McGonagall smirks. It also left more blocks of time free to focus on training. Harry found his form returning quickly, even if his back still twinged more than he liked to acknowledge. Of course, Hermione always knew and was ready to provide him private massages once their friends had left.

That was something else that seemed to be going well, all of their friends' relationships. Each pairing seemed well matched and despite minor arguments, the couples seemed to be weathering well. It was something Harry pondered one night when he and Hermione were cuddling in bed in the last minutes before sleep claimed them.

"Mione, I've been wondering something. About our friends. I'm glad Blaise and Susie patched up. Whatever he did really set her right quick. It seems strange though the way our friends seem to have found lasting matches. I've noticed they don't seem to switch around like others. I mean I know we are the lucky exception to have a soul blond and I thank the gods every day for it, but I've been thinking a bit on relationships. Back in my school in Little Whinging, no one was ever serious. Even in the older grades. Here at Hogwarts, no one gets serious until about fifth year. By sixth year, everyone is serious and by sixth or seventh a lot of people start settling on a partner. No one did that in the muggle world that I know of."

"I'm surprised that you noticed Harry, but you notice more than most guys. I've thought about it quite a bit and I think once again it comes down to magic. Our magic, as well as fate brought us together, but magic plays a good bit in bringing together most magicals I think. It helps people find who they're compatible with. At least if they allow their magic to work and don't fight it while paying attention to superficial things light looks and money. That only makes the arranged pureblood marriages even worse. If they would only allow their magic to work, magicals could have even better and happier marriages than non-magicals. I think though that a person's magic has to mature for it to really work. That's why you see it more in the older years. In the younger years you still have hormonal teenagers who want what they see in the older years and what their hormones say they should want, but their magic isn't working well enough yet. As for our friends, well I'm not sure about them. They're fifth year, so they're on the edge of magical maturity. Except for Ginny and Luna, although they're above average intelligence and magical ability. Anyway, I have a theory. With the extra study, as well as everything we've been through together, I think it's pushed their magical maturity some. Not a lot, but enough that their magic is able to recognize a good match. We'll see if it lasts. Again, this is theory based some on a bit of knowledge."

"Well, your theory is usually right. And it makes sense. We'll see what happens. They're all good friends at least. I can't see that changing."

Hermione gave him a kiss and then the two dozed off with that last thought.

Over the next week, Tonks continued their drills and Harry was finally able to once again match his times that he had been making before his injury. She also kept him updated on intelligence and advised that there was no updates on major movements of Death Eaters. They were still making small raids on muggles towns, but everything the DMLE had was leading them to believe that a bigger operation was in the works. That of course worried Harry and he knew it was time to put his own plans in place to go snake hunting. Hermione hated it, but she also knew it had to be done. The snake was the final horcrux. It was now well into May and even in Wales it would be warm enough for the snake to be out hunting. It was time to make the hunter the hunted.

That Saturday night all the friends met in the Potter apartment for a brainstorming session. Tonks had provided a map of the Lake Lliwbran area in detail and they pored over it. They knew the wards were 400 meters out, but decided not to approach anywhere closer than 450 for guaranteed safety. Harry hoped with the time that Voldemort had been there that a snake as large as Nagini would have hunted out or scared off anything closer.

Looking at the lake, it was situated in a valley that once had been quite isolated. Now there was a narrow roadway that skirted the north side of it, although it didn't look to be heavily trafficked. The south side though was still as rugged and uninviting as ever. Tonks was going to arrange a portkey that would drop Harry and Hermione off on the edge of the muggle road. They would wear muggle clothes and appear to be a young muggle couple out for a romantic walk by the lakeside. Apparently there was a hiker's hostel a few kilometers up the road that they could claim to have gotten lost from if needed. Harry didn't like the idea of including Hermione, but she rightly pointed out that she was always with him in a way anyway. And if he did something stupid and died then it wouldn't matter how safe she was tucked away. He hated it when she was logical.

Once they were on their 'lover's stroll' along the lake, they would hike south under a disillusionment charm and begin the search for both Death Eaters on watch and also for Nagini. Harry planned to call her out if he could, but that brought up another question. He knew parseltongue, but what exactly did snakes say when they met up with one another or when they were hunting? What was casual snake conversation when out hunting? That subject was batted around a bit and it was decided that Harry needed to do some snake research. Which led to the decision that Harry should make a trip to Reptile House at the London Zoo the following day. Since it was Sunday, he had no hard and fast plans. He offered Hermione to come along, but the Reptile House wasn't her favorite part of the zoo and she saw no reason to set her revision schedule in disarray. Still, it was best that Harry not go alone and surprisingly it was Blaise who volunteered to join him.

With the plans made for snake research, the next decision was when to actually start hunting. Logically they knew that it might take a number of nights before they would meet with success. It was already May 18th, with the new moon having been the night before. OWLs were scheduled for June 17th-20th. With that in mind, Harry decided to start on the night of Friday, May 24th. The 25th would be a half moon, allowing enough light without being ridiculously bright. He hoped for success in those three days. If not, maybe the following weekend. Or maybe they would try during the week. He would regroup after the weekend if not. With initial plans made, the group called it a night shortly before curfew and dispersed.

The following day saw Harry and Blaise leaving mid-morning and flooing to the Leaky Cauldron in London. They were dressed muggle and Harry led them out to a nearby Tube stop. Blaise looked a bit bewildered and Harry gave him a quick lesson on reading the map of the different lines as he explained the train. Then he led his pureblood friend to a ticket machine and bought them tickets before they caught the train that would take them to the zoo. Blaise seemed amazed throughout the ride, but managed to keep from saying anything untoward, which was better than Ron would have done. At the zoo stop, Blaise took a moment to get familiar with the escalator and then looked around in stunned silence as they arrived at the entrance to the zoo. Harry bought their tickets and then decided to look at a couple of exhibits on their way to the Reptile House. They reached the reptiles in good time though and Harry was happy to find that a python was being fed. They spent a good hour plus watching and listening. Harry found the snakes quite interesting, but could tell Blaise was ready to leave.

Exiting the building, Harry found an outside restaurant and they sat down to watch flamingos while they ate burgers. The table he had selected was purposefully out of the way and Harry cast a discrete muffliato. Blaise noticed and sighed.

"Thanks Harry. I tell you, this trip was for you today, but I've learned more than you I think. You should bind up everyone in Slytherin house and drag them into muggle London. Just taking a ride on the Tube will make them see muggles different."

"Well, Hermione has been saying since first year that muggle studies is horribly out of date. She says it needs to be updated and also needs to be compulsory."

Blaise snorted.

"Good luck with that. Although, if anyone can…"

Harry nodded as he munched his chips. Blaise had the right of it when it came to Hermione.

"So, did you get what you needed from the snakes?"

"Yes, I think so. The pythons are quite interesting. The vipers were quite dull and the rat snake barely spoke at all. I have no idea what breed Nagini is, or was at one time. But I think I have enough of an idea. I think if we can get close enough to her, I can sound like a competing snake trying to lure food and hopefully that will lure her to come to me."

"Have you thought more about what Ron said, about how you're going to fight her?"

"Yes, Hermione and I talked after you all had to leave for curfew. As the heir of Gryffindor, I can call for the sword at any time. I think I'll try to call for it before we leave. Then I'll leave it in the apartment. If we're going to use the cover of lost hikers, I don't think having a large, ancient sword in my backpack will help the cover story. If we find Nagini, I'll use my signet and call for it then."

"I suppose that will work. As long as you can hold her off."

Harry nodded and finished off his lunch. The plan still had some unknowns, but like always, he would work it out as he went.

Back at Hogwarts later that day, all the friends were studying and Harry confirmed that the zoo trip accomplished what he had planned. Blaise also regaled everyone with the wonders of the muggle world. Susan especially was amused at her excited boyfriend. Although she was pureblood, Amelia saw to it that her niece was more exposed to the muggle world and she found it entertaining to see Blaise act like a small boy with new wonders.

When Tonks arrived the following Tuesday, she was early again and they all adjourned back to the Potter apartment for the anticipated briefing. As usual, she didn't delay.

"Alright everyone, what's the expected schedule for snake hunting?"

"Starting this coming Friday evening."

"Alright, that's about when I expected. I've got a portkey for you. Multi-use, set to the location we discussed. Return use, means wherever you activate it from, the next time you use it, it returns you to that spot. These can only be created by department directors. It comes straight from Amelia. Guard it carefully. If you're going to be captured, the last thing you do should be to light it on fire. Also, I have some Auror prisoner portkeys. If you run across guards, feel free to stun, bind, and send them back with these. Once you have them incapacitated, just drop one of these on them and tap it with your wand. They'll end up back in a holding cell for processing and questioning. I know your focus is on the snake, but I figure there's no reason if you trip across a Death Eater not to get one or two out of the way as well."

Harry nodded, it made sense. And it didn't involve killing, just incapacitating and arresting basically.

"Alright, well, Amelia wishes you luck. If you get in trouble though, she can't send in official backup. Any individuals who want to go in on their own may be another matter. She did say that she hopes to have more to move on in a couple more weeks. Now, let's get moving. You lot have been spending too long in the books, you're looking soft!"

Everyone shook their heads, but no one objected as Tonks chivvied them out of the apartment and began to run them up to the seventh floor.

Although Tonks couldn't free up time to see to more training before Friday, Harry and Hermione ran snake drills on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, they did their usual morning workouts, but Harry decided that with the actual initial hunt that night that they'd drilled as much as they could. The rest of the day was spent trying to focus on classes and the more the more mundane aspects of life, however difficult it might be.

Dinner that night was quieter than usual, although Hermione did her best to make normal dinner conversation with their friends. When they'd finished eating, the Potters and their allies excused themselves back to the apartment to try to study for a couple of more hours. It was largely futile, but it helped to be surrounded by their friends in their personal environment. A simple lightened bag with the few supplies they would need was triple checked and finally declared satisfactory. They really didn't need much except a couple of bottles of water and heavier jumpers in case the night got cooler. It would also help with their cover of being hikers. The bag also included a hidden pouch with a few healing potions that Hermione was bringing along just in case. All of the portkeys were secured in hidden pockets in their muggle pants as well.

A few minutes before nine all their friends wished them well, including Dobby, who took the note that he was to deliver to the headmaster. It was to explain the fluctuation in the wards that the headmaster would feel shortly. Then Hermione dipped into the castle wards and opened a hole within the wards in their apartment that would allow their portkey to work. With the wards adjusted, she and Harry took hold and Harry activated the portkey a moment later. With the Potters gone, all their friends took a moment to collectively sigh and then departed together.

The Potters felt the tug and swirl of the portkey for a few brief seconds and then landed with only a bit of a stumble in stubby grass and rocky terrain a few meters off the side of a disused roadway. They took a moment to get their bearings, glad for a bit of moonlight. There was no sign of anyone around and Hermione cast a spell to get a quick compass pointing. Once they were oriented, they disillusioned themselves and walked a bit down the valley and soon saw the lake. Even in the faint moonlight, they could tell that it would be quite picturesque in the daytime. The valley on the other side was supposed to be steep, but they were glad that the side they were on was more gradual, with less rocks and more grassy slope, just now starting to green. Harry used a spell that allowed him to mark how far they were walking and they made gradual progress, going slow and listening for any sign that they had company around them. At one point they startled slightly, but realized the sound was only a distant owl hooting and they moved along.

They had been walking for close to an hour and knew they must be nearing the south end of the lake when a new and strange sound suddenly caused them to stop. It was hard to place at first and then Harry grimaced. It was a person slurping a drink rather noisily. Whoever it was sounded like a slob. The person stopped drinking then and began to mutter to himself.

"…bloody bastar..Travers…always getting…mes in troubles…Georgie…you left the wing door open…you gots to go check the far wards…bloody far wards…damn long walk…damn far wards…not like I'm gonna argue…Hodgson put up a fuss before…gots himself a personal audience with the Dark Lord…no Georgie knows better…Georgie be checkin the far war…"

Hermione had heard enough. Georgie had rambled long enough to provide them a good target and she cast a stunner in the direction of the mumbling, which suddenly stopped. She then cast an accio and a string bean of a man came zooming toward them from about forty meters away, giving them a good idea of where the wards were. The man was in his forties, with balding grey hair and a motley assemblage of robes. Harry cast an incarcerous on him as Hermione produced one of the portkeys that Tonks had provided and dropped it on the man. A quick touch of her wand and the sloppy wizard winked out on his way to a holding cell.

Well, that's one thing accomplished tonight. If he was checking the wards, I would guess from where he was standing, they are about twenty five meters from us. I think we can walk another twenty meters and be safe.

Sounds good love. We knew this was going to take a few nights probably. Anyway, one less Death Eater, even if he was low level.

Hermione gave a mental nod and they moved forward a few meters and then skirted at a safe distance. Harry began speaking in parseltongue on occasion, general calls for food that he had heard from different snakes at the zoo. He heard no other snakes in the vicinity. He and Hermione spent another couple of hours walking in a criss-cross pattern, but had no further luck and decided to call it a night. As promised, the portkey returned them back to the apartment. As soon as they returned, Harry closed the hole in the wards. After a quick shower, they happily crawled into bed and both agreed that a lie-in was called for.

The Potters' friends didn't see them until lunch on Saturday. The afternoon was spent studying as usual and then the evening was spent much the same as the night before. Unfortunately, that night's hike was even less eventful than Friday night's, as not even a lowly Death Eater was encountered. With a light rain also falling, they were miserable as well and called it early.

On Sunday, Tonks arrived at Hogwarts just after lunch and joined everyone in the Room of Requirement for training. First though, she wanted to check in on the hunt and update them on their 'arrest'.

"We received your delivery on Friday. George Jensen, low level hood with a long list of crimes and a total of six years spent in Azkaban over the last twenty years, most of it medium security. One of those that is more of a headache and nuisance. Anyway, he was high enough to be marked though, which meant he warranted veritaserum. Also means he'll be in Azkaban longer this time. He didn't give us more than we already know about Voldemort's base. Good for confirming though. And one less cannon fodder for the Dark Lord. Any other luck?"

"Not yet. We've only had two nights. And the weather last night was miserable. I'm surprised Georgie was that highly placed. We'll be back tonight. And I think I want to keep going at least for the week. I want to use the moonlight. I know we have tests coming up, but this is too important."

Hermione looked torn, but nodded in agreement. She and Harry had discussed this quite a bit. She was even more torn, but she had reluctantly made the same choice. Tonks nodded and then turned everyone's focus to their training. As usual, she didn't cut them any slack and everyone enjoyed the change from the heavy focus on books and studying. Not that anyone would admit it to Tonks.

That night saw the Potters once again back at the lake. The weather was improved, but the search was not. Harry was frustrated, but Hermione reminded him that he knew this was going to take a while. A snake like Nagini didn't need to eat often. They returned to school shortly after midnight and got to sleep quickly to prepare for classes in the morning.

Once again it was a surreal life for the Potters. They were busy in the last weeks of their fifth year of schoolwork, preparing for the all important OWL tests during the day. By night they were portkeying hundreds of kilometers away to hunt down Voldemort's snake familiar horcrux. With Quidditch season done, any distraction from OWLs was gone for most of the fifth years and the castle was near manic as Madam Pomfrey kept calming draughts on standby. Hermione would normally be one of the most manic, but she had the perspective of hunting down Voldemort. Also, she found that regular sex was better than any calming draught and her husband was always more than happy to oblige.

Monday night was their fourth at the lake and Harry thought soon he would be able to offer guided nature hikes of the area. Maybe once the Death Eaters weren't based nearby. That kind of ruined the tourism draw. As he let these thoughts filter through his head, Hermione chuckled and slapped his arm, bringing back his focus. They still had a ways before they were near the wards, but he really should strengthen his mental shields and focus on the task at hand.

As they came within the usual landmarks that told them they were within fifty meters of the wards, they turned and began their usual route to continue skirting south of the wards. Now Harry was on high alert and began his occasional calls in parseltongue. The half moon was now several days past and the moon was growing even brighter. The weather was clear and relatively warm. Still, they were careful to keep up their guard despite the apparently pleasant surroundings.

They were a half hour past their southerly turn when a strange sound to their left caused Harry to stop in mid hiss as both he and Hermione turned toward the sound. Their wands were raised toward the sound, as a voice called to them.

"Edgar, you hear that? Sounded like a snake. Like hissing. Is that damn snake hunting tonight? I thought it was a good night for us to be out looking for mushrooms?"

What do we do Harry? They're on the other side of the wards, maybe fifty meters. Should we lure them?

I think we can. You stunned the one before through the wards.

You try this time, you're stronger.

Harry gave a quick mental acknowledgement and decided to use a field stunner that Tonks had taught them. It was something Aurors used in the field when they didn't know the exact position of an opponent. The problem was it used a lot of power and didn't stun for long. Harry took a deep breath and reached deep for his magic. Then he aimed toward where he had heard the voices and cast as hard as he could. Once he did that, he cast an accio. Suddenly two people, a pile of dirt and plants came flying at him and Hermione. They both jumped aside, but were still hit with some of the loose debris.

A bit too much power there I think love.

Um…sorry.

Hermione shook herself off and went to look at the two individuals. Harry was shaking himself when he heard something to his right.

Down …

Harry hit the ground seconds before Nagini struck the air where he had been standing, rolling as he had drilled countless times. His wand was in his hand and he was firing toward the direction of the snake, but she had already moved and was turning back on him. Harry constricted and rolled as he jumped back up to his feet, feeling the still tight muscles in his back protest a bit. At least he was back on his feet. Nagini was a bit to his right and ready to strike again.

Mione?

Fine…focus on Nagini.

Harry cast a reducto that missed by a couple of inches, but threw enough dirt that it blinded the snake for a moment. Switching his wand to his left hand, Harry stroked his signet and called on the power of Gryffindor, thinking of the sword. He grinned as he felt the reassuring weight of the Sword of Gryffindor materialize in his hand. With his wand in one hand and the sword in the other, he faced off with the massive snake once again. Hermione was now with him as well, standing slightly to his left. She cast a cutting curse that caused Nagini to hiss. It was nothing more than a nuisance, but it did distract her briefly. Meanwhile Harry also cast a cutting curse while trying to step closer with the sword. The two of them continued dancing closer to Nagini, who tried to strike at several points, only to meet the blade every time. When the blade cut through one of her long fangs, she let out a loud screech and Harry had to withhold an early scream of triumph. The three of them parried and Harry was feeling a bit of fatigue, but knew that Nagini was as well, as she bled from a dozen wounds. Finally, as she moved to strike at Hermione on his left, he was able cross over with the Sword of Gryffindor and cut down on her from the right side, take her head off in one move. As he did, a foul black mist went screaming away and green ichor oozed from the body. The smell was noxious as well and they both backed hastily away. Both Harry and Hermione were winded and bruised, but otherwise alright as they turned from the gruesome sight. The deed was done.

With Nagini taken care of, Harry turned back to the two Death Eaters, hoping they were still stunned. Thankfully, they were and he dropped two portkeys on them and sent them to the DMLE. Looking around at the carnage, he shook his head.

Should we clean this up? What if someone comes looking?

I was wondering about that. You cast really powerful through the wards. I wouldn't be surprised if something was noticed. I hate to do this, but it may be time for a small forest fire. Not fiendfyre, just standard.

Harry nodded and they stepped back a few meters and separated a bit. A few fire spells carefully placed saw the hillside start to blaze. Nagini's remains burned bright and the torn up hillside was soon engulfed. Harry was happy to see that the fire went through the wards and began to burn the grasses on the other side. With their work done, he and Hermione portkeyed back to Hogwarts.