31. Epilog - 2144AD
Garry lay upon his deathbed looking at his family gathered in the large ballroom. His bed was tilted so that he could easily see across the room. What with grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren — heh, at 180 years old he had almost eight generations gathered in the room, not to mention the nephews and nieces contributed by his sisters — there were far too many Wizards and Witches to fit into his bedroom, even as enormous as it was. And that didn't include his many friends and business associates, especially Harry Potter and his four wives, Hermione, Luna, Daphne, and Gabrielle. Sirius had passed on long ago, but the Black family was also in good attendance. Now a Grey family, as were Harry's and Garry's, they had been instrumental in dragging the Wizarding World into accepting the non-magical as worthy of their respect.
The party was in full swing — Garry had insisted upon it being a party — with two bands alternating sets between current hits and oldies for the more mature set. Watching both his descendants and Harry's mixing and enjoying themselves set his heart to glowing with happiness.
Harry's fifth year had been just like his third — quiet except for the normal drama teenagers get up to in a boarding school. Daphne Greengrass had started hanging out with Hermione and Luna in Third Year as the peer pressure of the Death Eaters' children faded with their fortunes. The Tri-Wizard Tournament hadn't changed that, except to give him more support.
She and Hermione had always battled for first place in their classes and a friendly rivalry had emerged and then blossomed into an odd friendship. Early in Fifth Year she had apparently confessed to Hermione about liking Harry. By Christmas the trio became a quad.
Fleur and Garry's wedding in the Spring of 1996 had brought the little Veela back into contact with Harry — and his three girlfriends. She had stayed at Grimmauld Place with the Tonks, Bella, Sirius, Remus, Harry, her sister and Garry for the summer. Gabrielle had transferred to Hogwarts during Harry's sixth year and by Christmas had joined 'Harry's Harem' as the other students had started calling them. Harry's three Lordships — it turned out there was a magical tome in the Ministry that listed Heirships, and Lockart's filing of a Will with the Goblins had triggered it —had inundated him with marriage offers. Fortunately, the bribes paid to the Goblins had managed to delay that revelation until after Harry had finished his OWLS. Accepting Daphne and Gabrielle as official girlfriends in sixth year along with the already established Hermione and Luna had brought him peace and quiet as he was then, officially, off the available list.
The summer before Seventh Year had solidified the arrangement into official betrothals. Waiting for Gabrielle to graduate had delayed things only a bit in the scheme of life, and gave Harry a chance to establish himself as a Seeker in professional Quidditch for several years. The quad wedding of Harry and his wives, the summer after Gabrielle passed her OWLS was the social event of the year. All four wives giving birth to their first children, two girls and two boys, just ten months later was another major event for the Wizarding World.
Despite having four wives, and having babies at a rate that rivalled that of the Weasleys, or maybe because of it, Harry stayed in the Quidditch league for almost thirty years. Several people joked that he was growing his own Quidditch league, given how many of his offspring ended up being talented players.
Next, he joined the Aurors, but that lasted only a few years. It was far too grim an undertaking and he would rather enjoy life. Enforcing the law at the end of a wand was just not his cup of tea. If attacked, he defended himself and his charges with an intensity and dedication that astounded others, but that his family took as normal for Harry.
He had finally settled down in the Ministry, exercising his power with his three Lordships to help the average Wizard thrive in the magic World.
Every time Garry saw Harry smiling, it made him happy. Fleur, and then later the rest of his family, at first had been puzzled at how closely he had followed Harry's family and career, and his obvious delight at Harry's good fortunes. When Harry hit a rough spot in Life, Gilderoy Lockhart-Slytherin always seemed to be nearby with helpful advice and assistance. And pranks. But they had accepted his rationalization that he had emotionally adopted the boy during his time at Hogwarts.
Lockhart had found himself terminally bored staying at home, so he and Fleur went exploring around the world. His talents with the Dark Arts had segued him into a career as a premiere curse breaker. Which led to a never-ending supply of book releases chronicling his accomplishments. He had ended his illustrious career with forty years as Hogwarts' most beloved Headmaster.
When Fleur had died of old age, Garry had found his life remarkably empty. His descendants had tried to help, but the light of his life was gone and it showed. Only seeing Harry and his wives could bring him out of his doldrums.
And now it was his turn to "go to the next great adventure." He found himself quite looking forward to it. The children's band had just concluded their set. It was still early for most of the crowd and not yet midnight. But it was time. He was tiring and couldn't stay awake much longer.
He reached out and touched a rune that cast a sonorous on himself. A soft, but penetrating "gong" echoed through the room. The crowd quieted and turned towards the stage.
"Thank you all for coming tonight. I know you all have more important things to do than listen to an old man's ramblings, but I did want to say a few things. First, people have been asking me, and Harry, what happened to that Dark Wizard Voldemort? Everyone knows he kidnapped Harry Potter, and that a battle took place, but we've never said what happened. Did Voldie run away again? Did Harry Potter once again vanquish the evil monster? Or had Harry finally destroyed the git?"
He had the crowds' complete attention.
"I chose not to say so that the next Dark Lord, or Lady, would think twice about making a power grab. Most knew of Voldemort's temper and none wanted to test it. That worked for several decades. Long enough for us to put societal safeguards in place that have prevented any new truly evil Wizards or Witches from appearing. With vigilance, that will continue for a long time."
He paused and took a small sip from the glass beside his table. It was a mild Pepper-up Potion. Too strong a one would give him a surge of strength that wouldn't last more than minutes and would doom him when it wore off. As it was, the Healers said he only had a few days left, if that. And he didn't want to rush it, even if Death was an old friend.
"The Dark Wizard known as Lord Voldemort was indeed vanquished by Harry Potter, but it was about a week after the kidnapping. It went like this . . . ."
"Why are we so far down in the Ministry, Gil?" Harry asked as he followed the older Wizard. The Unspeakable accompanying them was levitating a glowing spherical crystal just in front of them, which unsettled him. Whether it was the crystal, which kept drawing his eyes for some reason, or the Unspeakable himself, Harry wasn't sure.
"Well, Harry, that's a deep subject," was Garry's casual reply.
Harry groaned and said, "That's terrible, Gil."
The spinning doors had surprised Harry and made him unsteady on his feet — assisted by a small spell Garry had casted on him before they entered the Ministry. Harry had then distracted the Unspeakable by grabbing his cloak and neither noticed the subtle spell Garry cast on the sphere being transported.
They entered a small auditorium that was empty except for chairs centred on a platform that held an archway. The arch drew his attention immediately as the grey curtain across it seemed to sway and move in a breeze he couldn't feel.
"This, Harry," Lockhart said quietly, "is called the Veil of Death. The Unspeakables believe it is a doorway to the realm of the dead. If you listen, you can hear voices coming from it, but you can never determine what they are saying. It draws you like a moth to a flame. If you aren't careful, you could find yourself inadvertently stepping through it.
"Sit," he said, pointing at a chair and sitting down in another. The Unspeakable remained standing. Harry sat, looking at Lockhart questioningly.
"Harry, as you know Voldemort didn't die in 1981 when he tried to kill you with an Unforgiveable Curse. The reason is simple. He created these things called Horcruxes, soul anchors. They're also called soul vessels. He did a terrible and very evil ritual in which he split a piece off his soul and stored it in something else, such as that diary that Ginny Weasley had in your second year."
Harry gasped, his eyes wide. "Ginny released the Basilisk?"
Garry nodded, "Under the control of part of Tom Riddle's soul, she had no choice. If I hadn't taken the diary from her, the diary would have taken her very life force and killed her while creating a new body for the soul fragment in the diary."
Harry leaned back, stunned.
"And he didn't just do it once. Or twice . . . ."
Harry reflected for a moment, then said softly, "Oh my god! My scar . . . ."
"Indeed, Harry, indeed. That was why I focused on recovering the founder's items in your Second Year. As well as the diary, Tom Riddle had invested a piece of his soul in Hufflepuff's Cup, Ravenclaw's Diadem, and Slytherin's Locket — he had a sick fixation on the Founders' items. Gryffindor's sword was the only item he did not befoul, and that was because he couldn't find it. There were three other items he did this to, as well. Well, two I knew for sure at that end of Second Year, the third I wasn't sure of until we were in the graveyard after you were portkeyed away.
"One was the Gaunt Head of House ring, which I destroyed. The third was that giant snake, Nagini, that was chasing you in the graveyard. The second one was an accident. He had prepared the ritual in advance and only needed the final component to complete it. But he died before he could do that."
Harry nodded, waiting for his friend to continue. Lockhart seemed lost in thought.
"And I was the second, wasn't I?" he finally prompted.
The older Wizard took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I wasn't going to tell you, at first, before we ended up at the graveyard. I had hoped that I could head Tom off and trap him. If I could trap him, then he would be harmless. He would be isolated from the world under a heavy Draught of Living Death potion as well as a stasis charm, and never again would you have dreams or nightmares from him. I planned to keep a careful eye on you while I searched for a way to remove that final fragment without harming you.
"Unfortunately, he managed to get to you before I got to him. And, well, you know the rest.
Harry sat silent for the longest time. Then he looked up at Gilderoy. "So why are we here? You killed Voldemort, right? And I don't have that soul fragment anymore, it's gone."
Garry looked away, at the arch, for several moments, then turned his attention back to Harry. "There was a prophecy concerning you, Harry. Your favourite Divination teacher at Hogwarts had spoken it back in 1970.
"Trelawney," Harry said in a disgusted tone.
"Indeed. It was why Dumbledore hired her — to keep her out of Voldewhore's clutches, because who knew what he might do with the seer if he found she had a real talent.
"I won't bore you with the prophecy itself, it was a rather typical piece of drivel. Unfortunately, a Death Eater overheard part of the prophecy and carried the tale to Lord Voldefraud. The superstitious twit believed it and set about making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. If he had ignored it — well, he would be ruling the world now.
"The full prophecy said that someone born at the end of July would have the power to vanquish the Dark Lord. Two boys fit that description — you and Neville."
"Neville?" repeated Harry, stunned.
"Yes. And that's why he killed your parents, he planned to go after Neville, next."
Harry stared back at him, too surprised at the revelation to say anything.
"Both sets of parents had gone into hiding, as you know, to protect you two infants. And were betrayed. That part of the story you know. And that was why he was so obsessed with you, it was you who sent him off. It was a major blow to his pride, and he had to set that right. What you don't know is that your scar was a sign that Voldewhore had marked you as the one who had the power to defeat him.
"I . . . learned of this situation and decided to take a hand — but I didn't know about the Horcruxes at first. It was ludicrous to believe that a child not yet in his teens could battle the second most powerful Wizard in the world and win! So, I stepped in to see what I could do. As soon as I saw you at the Flourish and Blotts I knew things were in dire straits. When I arrived at Hogwarts I could feel the same taint of evil lingering there. Then I found the Diadem and discovered it was a Horcrux! Well! I knew I was in for a struggle.
"But I am Gilderoy Lockhart! I don't give up! So I started hunting the horcruxes, and taking care of his Death Eater followers. All the Death Eaters were criminals of the worst sort; rape, murder, torture, each of them did all those deeds. There were no innocent Death Eaters. Some of them might have been pressured by their families into accepting the Dark Mark, at first, but they still participated in evil deeds, and eventually grew to consider them justified. And then, when Voldewhore disappeared that Halloween, they escaped punishment with lies and bribes.
"So, I became judge, jury, and executioner.
"I have a terrible stain on my soul," Garry said tiredly staring into Harry's eyes, "but better it is me than you." He paused a moment thinking. "You are my redemption, Harry. I need you to live your life to the fullest, to love and be loved. To have the family you never had. Do those things and everything I have done will be worth the sacrifice."
Harry stood quietly, then stepped close and hugged the older Wizard. "I don't care what you did, Gil, you are still the best Wizard, man, I have ever met."
Garry took a deep breath, deeply moved. "Thank you, Harry," he said as he hugged the boy back. He wasn't about to cry, it was merely dust in his eyes that was making them wet.
He cleared his throat. "And that brings us to the here and now."
Lockhart reached into his pocket and pulled out his glass sphere. It was opaque. The magics had fully charged, now, and nothing could get in or out of it, not even light. He gazed at it a moment, smiling. He handed it to Harry. "Throw this through the veil, Harry."
"What is it?" Harry asked as he took it and turnined it over in his hands, examining it.
"I'll explain in a moment, just toss it through the veil."
Harry shrugged, and threw it underhand in a short arc that hit the veil in the centre. The voices from the veil got much louder, and the veil itself billowed outward as if hit with a great wind. Then it gradually quieted and settled down.
Garry said as he turned to look at the crystal ball being levitated by the Unspeakable which remained brightly glowing. "Oops!" he said, as if embarrassed.
The Unspeakable gasped, "The Prophecy is still active! He's not dead! There must be one more Horcrux!" He turned to the other Wizard, rage building in his tone, "You said you had accounted for them all!"
Harry was watching with eyes wide, horror creeping into his expression.
Smugly, the prankster wizard said, "Oh, I did," as he flicked his fingers at the crystal and removed the spell he had placed on it earlier. The glow abruptly disappeared, leaving it dull and dark.
"You idiot!" the Unspeakable said in outrage. He pulled out his wand and waved it over the hovering Prophesy Sphere, and studied the glowing runes that appeared.
"It is done," the Unspeakable growled angrily. He reached up and grabbed the crystal ball and dropped it into a pocket in his robe. "It is just as you said, Mr. Lockhart." His voice was clipped and as insincere as possible. You didn't have to see his lips to know he was sneering as he said, "Thank you." Harry had the impression that the Unspeakable was barely restraining himself from hexing the infuriating Wizard.
Lockhart smiled widely. "Harry, Voldemort, also known as Tom Riddle, has been removed from this plane of existence by your hand, as prophesized." And then laughed at the stunned expression on the boy's face.
"While you were dead, I stunned, shrunk, and sealed Squirrelmort into an impregnable prison, that glass ball. The ball was indestructible by magic, from either inside or out. That was my original plan, after all. And now that all his horcruxes are gone, it was safe to dispose of him.
"Although, it was tempting to just keep it on my desk at home as a trophy. Everyone would see it and not realize that the most dangerous Dark Wizard in centuries was inside that innocuous black ball that I used as a paperweight." He sighed mournfully at the loss.
After a moment's pause, in which his audience of two stared at him incredulously, he added defensively, "It was only a thought! Anyway, we know all the horcruxes are gone because the Prophecy Sphere is now dark!"
He, of course, couldn't tell them he knew exactly what all the horcruxes were because he had already destroyed them in another version of the future. Let them think he was so arrogant as to assume he had destroyed them all when he might have missed one. Maybe they would think twice, themselves, before doing something just as monumentally stupid in the future.
Gilderoy said, "There is one more thing to do." He pulled a wand out of his pocket. It was very old and very worn. Harry stared at it a moment before exclaiming, "Isn't that Dumbledore's wand?"
The Unspeakable seemed to give a start, it was difficult to tell.
"No, Harry, it isn't his wand," Garry explained. "His wand is buried in his tomb." He brandished the wand, holding it vertical in two fingers by its handle. He casually flicked underhanded it through the veil. "That was the so-called 'Elder Wand,'" he said as the wand vanished through the grey curtain. "Dumbledore won it from Grindlewald. It was also called the 'Wand of Destiny' and 'The Deathstick.'"
From the way the Unspeakable moved it was clear he was as dumbfounded as Harry. "You had the real Elder Wand!?" the Unspeakable said incredulously.
"Not any more!" Garry said, smirking. "And now it has been returned to its rightful owner. The swath of death and destruction caused by those seeking and using that wand is at an end." He smiled to himself. "A promise is a promise. And I always keep my promises. Even to myself."
He looked over at the Unspeakable. "And, yes, before you ask, not only do I know where the other two items are, I had all three in my possession at the same time . . . and for quite some time." He turned and looked back at the veil. "And now no one else will ever have that opportunity — not that it meant much anyway." He turned back to the Unspeakable. "Mr. Croaker," the Unspeakable gave a small start at Lockhart apparently knowing who it was in the cowl, "you can officially record that the Elder Wand, the Wand of Destiny, the Deathstick, the wand allegedly given to one of the Peverell brothers by Death itself, has been tossed through the veil.
He sighed and rubbed the side of his face tiredly. "It really wasn't all that powerful, anyway. The innate power of the Wizard or Witch using a wand is of far more import than any magic in the wand wielded."
He looked over at Harry, who was staring back and forth between the two Wizards.
"Come, Harry, our business here is completed." He turned and the two of them headed back up the stairs of the small chamber leaving the Unspeakable behind to catch up.
It was as the doors to the lift to the rest of the Ministry were about to close that he called out to the Unspeakable, "Oh, by the way Saul, if you and the Ministry are nice enough to Harry and me, I might just let you have the Resurrection Stone. It really does let you call back the dead and converse with them." The Unspeakable turned and appeared to be looking at them as the doors closed. You could almost imagine his jaw dropping open in surprise.
"But first, Harry," Lockhart said, turning to small boy beside him, "How would you like to speak with your parents for a few minutes when we get home?"
"And that was how Harry Potter-Peverell-Gryffindor-Delacour cast Tom Riddle through the Veil of Death." He left out his remarks regarding the Resurrection Stone, of course. No need to bring up the whole Master of Death situation.
"Complete details on how I, Gilderoy Lockhart-Slytherin, three-time awardee of the Order of Merlin, First Class, Member of the Dark Force Defence League, Award-winning author, twenty-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award, Hogwarts' most beloved Headmaster, Slayer of Basilisks, detector of Dark Wizards, and Curse-Breaker Extraordinaire, managed to detect, track down, and defeat the most dangerous Dark Lord of our time is in my forthcoming book, Dancing with Death! It will be available in all fine bookstores.
Thank you for reading this. I really had fun writing it. I am gratified to hear that so many found it entertaining and funny — after reading the same thing ten times, I can't tell if something is funny or not anymore! And I wasn't sure if anyone but me would find it funny, anyway.
Several readers criticized that Gilderoy was romping through without any real opposition — well, if you already know most of your opponents' moves and secrets, it is rather easy to trounce them. The problem is not getting cocky getting caught by surprise when someone does something you didn't expect.