And So it Goes
There were people screaming, running in fear all over the stadium. Severus was dying behind him, suffering under the power of Nagini's potent venom. Before him stood the man, the creature that had haunted his dreams and steps his entire life. His pasty white face twisted into a sneer as he raised his wand and fired.
Emerald green light flew toward him at unimaginable speed. Harry closed his eyes and…
Harry's eyes flew open and he pushed himself into a sitting position, reaching for his wand. It only took him a second to realize he wasn't on the pitch. There weren't any death eaters and no Tom Riddle, old or young standing before him. He let out a shaky breath and ran a hand through his messy hair allowing his tense body to sag in relief.
He turned and looked down, focusing on Hermione as she slept on, breathing quietly. She had snuck in late the night before, not that anyone would fault her for it. The entire school had been shaken by the events the previous night and everyone seemed to need a bit of extra comfort. The sleep that had been alluding him until that point left him nearly the moment, she wrapped her arms around him.
Last, he had heard, their side had done surprisingly well. There were few deaths and most of the injuries inflicted during the attack and evacuation had been fixed in minutes. The deaths they did suffer were devastating though.
Harry may not have had many positive feelings when it came to Molly Weasley, at least not since his friendship with Ron disintegrated, but he knew the twins and their older brothers were devastated. They had their problems with the way she treated them but she was still their mom and her hovering came from love and wishing to protect her kids. George had told him the night before he would never be able to express how grateful he was that his mom saved his younger siblings.
Alastair Mad-eye Moody had been in their peripheral all year. He had been brought in to increase security so Harry had seen him around. Moody had scared more than one first year with his sneaking and paranoia but everyone knew he was there to protect. Tonks had wept openly when she told them he had taken the curse for her. She had also vowed to be better so no one had to die for her again.
Dumbledore was the hardest for Harry to deal with at the moment. He had become suspicious of the man after he started trusting the professors but he had also seen how much the man cared. After speaking with Moony about it and learning about the headmaster's health problems he had understood him more. The only problem was, Harry had not forgiven the man for making him go back to Private Drive. Now he would never have the chance.
"Harry?" Hermione groaned softly. "What time is it?"
"Early," he whispered, "I couldn't sleep any longer though."
He nodded, "I keep seeing the killing curse flying toward me and this time I'm not fast enough. That or I see his face as I stab him again." Harry shuddered, "I don't think I am going to be able to forget that for a long time."
She sat up and wrapped her arms around him, "I am here if you need to talk."
"I know," he looked around the room and grimaced as Ron snored loudly; the hardest part was that Seamus's snores weren't fighting his for dominance. "Do you want to head to the common room?"
With a nod she stood and reached for his hand, pulling him out of the dorm and down the stairs. To their surprise, Neville was already there, sitting with the twins, Remus and Aria.
"Couldn't sleep?" Harry asked, his eyes on Neville.
The other boy shook his head, "I keep seeing Crouch die. I'm not feeling guilty or anything, I just don't know how I feel about the way I did it. Does that make sense?"
"It's like you didn't know you were capable of that and you're not sure how to deal with that being part of you, right?"
Neville nodded, looking relieved that Harry understood what he was feeling. "He wasn't a good man and he deserves his fate but part of me wishes someone else had done it. The other part is glad I stopped him from hurting anyone else."
"How are you doing, Fred? George?" Hermione asked, dropping onto Harry's lap after pushing him into a free chair.
The twins shared a long look that spoke of their conflicting emotions. "Mom was never our favorite parent," Fred started.
George rubbed his eyes, "She never really paid attention to us unless we were in trouble so most of our memories of her were of her yelling at us."
"But we also saw the way she was with the others. Mom doted on Ginny and for the most part loved to brag about Bill, Charlie and Percy."
"Sure, she used to complain about Bill and Charlie's jobs to them, but if you asked her friends, she was proud of them."
"Percy was probably her favorite because he picked a safe job in the ministry."
"But she saved Ron and Ginny," they said together.
"We've lost our chance to show her that our dream wasn't stupid," Fred sighed.
"We lost our chance to fix our relationship with her." George looked at his hands in his lap. "I'm worried about dad. He got knocked out fairly early, lost his hearing on one side for sure, but he doesn't know yet because Madam Pomfrey wanted to sleep through the potions working their magic."
"So, we really don't know how we feel."
"How is Ashton doing?" Harry asked Remus knowing the twins wanted a change of subject, or at least the attention off of them.
"He's checking in with the rest of the pack and keeps insisting I give him more things to do so I can focus on the students here. I have Lucas staying with him in case he does break down."
"Kurt saved my life," Aria's breath hitched in a near sob. "It's going to be really hard to see Ashton without Kurt for quite a while."
Kurt, Ashton and Lucas had been close on hand in case something did happen at the last task and had been all over helping with evacuations and protecting those fighting. Lucas had been covering one of the exits from the stadium. Ashton and Kurt had split up, Kurt sticking close to Aria, and Narcissa while Ashton had taken care of the school entrance after a few escaped convicts had attacked the students and staff fleeing to the school. Sybil Trelawny had not survived the attack.
It came as a surprise to no one that Crabbe had been targeting known creatures and those who support them. While Aria's affliction was not that well known, some had their suspicions and Crabbe was one of them, and he knew who had been in Grayback's pack. The fact that their party was being guarded by Kurt sealed their fates whether they were werewolves or not. Crabbe had cast the curse on Aria first because he wanted to hurt Harry and his closest allies as much as possible before they were killed. "Amelia stopped by and let us know what exactly Crabbe was planning," Remus gave Aria's shoulders a squeeze, "they questioned him last night." Aria and Narcissa had stunned and bound the man so thoroughly in their rage it had taken three Aurors to remove the bindings.
"Who else was arrested?" Hermione wondered.
"Edwin Parkinson was apprehended by Kingsley, as was Travers. He managed to get Parkinson before he had fully landed the broom the two were riding." Remus grinned evilly, from what I understand, Kings had Travers strung up like a pig for slaughter in a few seconds flat. "He and Amelia also arrested Avery, who gave up Selwyn in questioning. Robards and Kingsley were heading to his manor late last night so he should be in custody now."
"That's good," Harry sighed, "I heard their names in the graveyard. Moldyshorts hit both of them with the Cruciatus curse and berated them for not helping him more."
"Goyle surrendered to dad," George added. "He didn't want to die so he came with the others during the break out but also didn't want to attack kids so he surrendered to dad when he saw him defending Slytherin students. Then one of the seventh years attacked dad from behind…"
"Or at least that is what Chauncy, a sixth year Slytherin, told us last night."
"Dolohov went after the students, Ashton and Pomona kept him at bay for a bit with the help of the teachers but apparently the person who took him down was Filius. I really wish I could have seen that duel." Remus sighed, "Dolohov was one of the best duelists in the last war and Filius is a dueling champion that wizards tend to underestimate. Ashton said he had trouble following the action because of how active Filius is in a bout."
Harry let a small smile across his face only for it to fall a moment later. "How many did we lose?"
"As you know, Headmaster Dumbledore fell, as did Moody, Molly Weasley, Bagman, and Karkaroff." Remus rubbed his neck to relieve the tension in it, "Sybil was the only professor lost, though Severus, Aurora Sinistra, and Madam Hooch were injured. Severus might have a limp for a while, the muscles in his leg need time to rebuild from the venom. Aurora will probably lose the sight in her left eye but is otherwise fine and probably won't even have a scar. Rolanda Hooch was hurt the worst, she was hit by a curse from Dolohov but Madam Pomfrey got to her rather quickly and had her transferred to St. Mungo's for further treatment so she is expected to make a full recovery or near enough to it to not impact her ability to fly and teach.
"At last count, seven students died last night," he continued after a brief pause. "Two seventh years, three sixth years, a fifth year and a third year."
"The sixth and seventh years were defending younger students when they were attacked by the Azkaban escapees," Aria cut in to give Remus a moment.
"The fifth year, Natalie Harding, is the daughter of a retired Auror, one of the Aurors who arrested the Lestranges so it is assumed that is why she was targeted by Rodolphus." Remus added knowing he needed to finish, "the third year was hit by Dolohov on the castle stairs and died late last night as they couldn't counter the curse in time."
"As of this morning," Severus said, limping into the room, "we had fifteen injured Hogwarts students. Eleven of those should be released by lunch. Another two should be out of the hospital wing by tomorrow morning. The last two were transferred to St. Mungo's. In my opinion both should survive but they will have to fight. The first year, a Slytherin, is a fighter and is in more stable condition this morning but did lose his hand at the wrist, luckily not his wand hand. Seamus," he looked to the five lions knowing that is who they were most concerned with, "is as stable as he can be at the moment. He lost one kidney to the blasting curse and it could not be saved in time. His ribs should be fixed later today. He will lose an eye and will have extensive scarring from the melting curse."
"But you think he will make it?"
The group turned to see Dean standing in the doorway to the boy's dorms, his face ashen, his eyes bloodshot. Hermione choked back a sob at seeing him and ran to him, drawing him into a hug. Seamus and Dean had helped the younger years evacuate, Dean leading while Seamus took the rear. "He is a fighter, Dean. No fire or explosion will keep him down."
Dean nodded, sniffing, attempting to hide his emotions as best he could. "Yeah, that sounds like Seamus. Ron was just heading to the loo; he should be right behind me."
"He couldn't sleep either?" Harry wondered.
"It's the dreams," Ron said with a yawn. "I keep seeing Nott and Lestrange pointing their wands at mom, Ginny and I. I think green is officially the most terrifying color in the world," he looked at Harry, "no offense, mate, but I am probably going to avoid looking at your eyes for a while."
"Whatever you need, Ron. I get it. I've been having dreams about green lights flying at me most of my life."
George got up and walked to his brother, pulling him into his arms. "Come sit. We were just getting an update. Professor Snape thinks Seamus is going to make it, a little scared but it fits with his explosives obsessions don't you think?"
Ron pushed back and looked at his brother with a raised eyebrow, "Is that really your idea of humor?"
"A little tasteless," Hermione nodded, leading Dean to the seating area, "But Seamus would probably find it hilarious."
"And on that disturbing note, how did the other schools do?" Neville asked.
"Both had fewer injuries and managed to avoid deaths outside Karkaroff. The escapees seemed to focus more on the students fleeing toward the school and most of the visiting students ran toward their school quarters instead of the castle. If I'm not mistaken Miss Delacour had the most aggreges injuries with her exposure to the Cruciatus and magical exhaustion."
"How are you holding up, Harry?"
Remus asked, focusing on Harry's hands. Every so often they would twitch, a clear indication of Cruciatus exposure.
"The tremors aren't that bad," he shrugged. "It helped that Professor Snape had a potion for me right when I landed back on the pitch."
Severus walked across the room, reaching into his pocket as he went. "I believe you are due for another dose. Additionally, the remaining judges would like to meet with all of the champions before breakfast. I would be down to the entrance hall by seven thirty."
Harry took the potion and downed it without pause, knowing that despite the taste it would help with the tremors. "Thank you, Severus," he stood. "I think I would like a shower, seeing as I didn't manage one last night before collapsing into bed."
"Please do, I prefer my boyfriend not smell like sweat and muck."
Harry shook his head and rolled his eyes, knowing he really didn't smell that bad.
When Harry walked into the entrance hall, the other three champions were already there. Upon seeing him, Cedric pulled him into a hug. "How are you holding up?"
Harry pulled back only to be pulled into Fleur's arms next, "Not entirely sure yet. I didn't sleep through the night but I have had problems with that off and on my whole life. The tremors don't help either."
"I can agree with that." Fleur kissed his cheek as she pulled back, "I never want to feel the Cruciatus curse again."
Victor, not to be out done, placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "You are very brave, Harry Potter, it has been an honor to compete against you." He grinned wickedly, "Let me know if you intend to join the league, so I can retire and keep my record clean."
The four all laughed at that, it was nice to talk about something cheery after the events of the night before. "Any idea what they want to talk to us about?"
"I don't know, Cedric," Harry shrugged. "Probably ask us how they want to do the final ceremony…"
"You are correct, Mister Potter," the group turned, hearing Professor McGonagall. She was, most likely, standing in for Professor Dumbledore. "Even if it is rather tasteless to bring it up so soon after the battle we were forced to endure," she gave a bland look to minister Fudge. Madam Maxine and a red eyed Percy were also giving him the stink eye.
"Now, now, Minerva, I am sure that the students could use something cheerful to start their day out." He grinned widely at the champions, "Normally we would present the trophy officially on the field after the port keys were activated but… well… you all remember what happened." He patted Harry on the shoulder, "Mister Potter won, and he should be awarded accordingly."
"I only won because Crouch was rigging the tasks in my favor half the time. That and the others were attacked during the final event."
"Harry," Fleur cut in before anyone else could. "You won because you prepared and you were lucky. It is more than I can say for my own opponent. You are powerful and you deserve this."
"She's right, mate," Cedric gave him a small smile. Sure, the snake in the swamp task was an extra bonus for you but you also got attacked during the air challenge. It evens out in the end."
"You out did us all in the first task and my headmaster was scoring with as much bias as he could get away with. We watched the replay on the ship last night, even with the attack, you were ahead of us last night and would have reached the center first either way."
"Great," Fudge interrupted, "so that is settled. We will present the Triwizard trophy during breakfast. Feel free to say a little something to keep spirits up." With a wink, Fudge walked away toward the room off the Great Hall.
Harry stood before the students on the dais in front of the head table. Fudge had given a speech about international cooperation, completely ignoring the battle from the night before. His speech had fallen rather flat and he seemed rather disappointed that he had only gotten a bland applause when he finally presented Harry with his trophy for winning the Triwizard tournament. As planned, the other three champions stood with him and they all shook hands before Harry stepped to the center to say a few words, even if he wished it was anyone else giving this speech.
Despite what happened the night before, he could see how much the school had changed. There were students from every house at every table. Visiting students were dispersed around each table, not together at one table the way they had been at the beginning of the year. He looked to his left, his eyes meeting first Fleur and then Cedric before he looked right to share the same look with Viktor.
"Thank you, Minister Fudge," he said only because it was expected. "While I appreciate this trophy, it isn't what is important now. I am going to channel my girlfriend here and say we shouldn't be celebrating a Hogwarts victory today; we should be celebrating what we have gained this year. I for one know that I have made friends that I hope to keep for life. Before the year began, I met Alek and Aimee and was given a chance to fly with Viktor. I met them again here and believe we only strengthened our connection. I spoke with quidditch fanatics from both schools and watched amazing duels and realized just how out classed I am in that area."
A few students chuckled at that, having seen Harry take down a dark lord with a sword.
"I got to cheer for friends old and new while they proved they knew way more than me about literally every subject at school." He took a deep breath, "In competing with these three, I gained friends and mentors. We trained together, studied together, in hopes that we could all survive with all of our limbs attached," he looked down at his hands and then grinned, "we managed, if only barely."
That sent a larger chuckle through the room and he could just see Hermione shaking her head and he knew rolling her eyes even if he couldn't see it from where he stood.
"Mostly, we should celebrate that we are still standing. Despite the danger we faced from not one but two Lord Voldemorts and his followers the school is still here. We lost great people last night, which should never be forgotten. Headmasters, Aurors, protectors, and students fell to madmen who killed without thought or question. Some of our own are still fighting for their lives, some have already rejoined us.
"I weep for those who are lost and celebrate those who have survived this ordeal. I will sleep easier now that the man born Tom Marvolo Riddle is no longer among the living." He swallowed down the lump in his throat at the thought of who was lost to them. "He can no longer hunt those who stand against him, and if we learn from the past, his ideals can no longer tear us apart.
"Magic is what we are. It doesn't matter if your parents are dentists, Aurors, healers or work in a bank, we all have magic. No one should be able to tell you who you are or what you are allowed to do, especially not a half-blood who renamed himself to make himself seem more important. Where you're from shouldn't matter, London, India, France, China, Bulgaria or anywhere else. It doesn't matter if you are part Veela, part giant or a werewolf, as long as you don't seek to harm another, you belong here. We are all magic."
Through the Years
Bill took a deep breath as he stepped into the Paris branch of Gringotts. It had been a few years since he had been in an actual Gringotts bank. After the whole Voldemort/Tom Riddle thing he had taken the opportunity to go back in the field. He had actually liked his position, hunting Horcruxes, but had missed the excitement and unpredictability of searching tombs. Ragnok had asked for a meeting a few weeks after the battle to offer him a choice and that was for any job he wanted. Apparently, he had proven himself to be an asset and friend to his employers and their nation and he would forever be a friend and have any opportunity he wished.
Choosing to return to the tombs had not been hard. It probably should have been considering what his family had been through and what they had lost but his heart still yearned for adventure.
He still visited his family, stopping by for holidays, birthdays and even for the grand opening for Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, but he hadn't been in any bank in nearly two years.
"Bill?" He heard someone call out, the question clear in her voice.
He looked up and couldn't help but smile.
Sirius Black was an idiot.
He knew it, accepted it and was prepared to inform the world as long as it got Liz to talk to him again. He also vowed, to himself, that he wasn't going to drink anymore; it made him too stupid and impulsive.
He had gone out to celebrate the impending marriage of one of his political allies. It involved a lot of alcohol, bar hopping and strippers, a very muggle style bachelor party. Sirius may have ended up kissing the girl giving him a lap dance because he was stupid and all he had really wanted to was to be at home making out with Liz. The girl hadn't taken not for an answer about the dance and then kissed him. He had pushed her off pretty quickly but, well, by that point the damage was done; the only good thing was the girl had been fired.
The problem, someone had told Liz and had managed to get a picture. They had a huge fight and she kicked him out.
Sirius had spent the last week groveling and trying to make it up to her.
When she finally opened the door, an hour after he rang the bell the first time, he was on his knees.
"You're an idiot."
"I know. I love you."
Liz sighed, "Come in, you're making the neighbors nervous."
His face lit up just a little, "Are we still engaged?"
"Yes," she called over her shoulder.
"Are you still going to marry me in five months, two weeks and three days?"
His shoulders slumped a little. He could live with that as long as he proved he was worth her. If he didn't, Narcissa was going to kill him…
Fay sat on a table swinging her legs as Severus finished up a potion. He had been trying to find a cure for werewolves but was currently working on another version of wolfsbane to help with pain. Fay had been his go to guinea pig since she graduated from Hogwarts.
"How are the kids?" Fay swung her legs out of boredom.
"Lila is mad at me because I couldn't come to her princess tea party. For a three-year-old she can hold a grudge. Roderick is excited for his fifth birthday in six months," he sends her an irritated look, "I really must thank you for his constant questions on whether his birthday is close or not."
Fay smirked. "Little man keeps saying he's a big boy and I think you have to be at least five to be a 'big boy' so I told him he was close."
"You are going to do this every year, increasing the age requirement until he figures it out, aren't you?"
"Probably not the best thing to admit to the person who controls your wolfsbane supply."
"I'm not worried, you have too much pride in your work to intentionally sabotage an experiment."
She was of course correct, that did not mean he was above prank potions from time to time. He had gone to school with the marauders, and while he didn't start the fights, he did retaliate.
A week later, Fay woke up looking like the wolf man. It lasted for seven days exactly.
He found it funny how life could change. You could go from penny-less to rich in a matter of hours, friendless to the most popular person in the room. A person could have no knowledge of kindness to knowing love and being surrounded by it. His life changed at eleven when a half giant told him that he was magic, and the world was waiting for him. He went from hunted to victor. His life went from hectic to almost boring, if boring was even possible when magic was around.
It was quiet now, not surprising considering the hour. Midnight had passed more than an hour before and most were sleeping. Normally he would be sleeping too but he had far too much energy for that at the moment.
His day had started out quiet enough. Breakfast with his wife, tending to the animals around the property, babysitting Severus and Narcissa's kids while they had a day to themselves, trying to convince Sirius that he was in fact an adult and didn't need help with his kids while his wife worked and their oldest was away at school.
All so normal.
Fay had visited, ranting about how horrible men were and lamenting that her ex-boyfriend Ilya was getting married and she was devastated despite the fact they had broken up nearly a decade ago. Neville had stopped by asking Harry to help him pick out a ring for Hannah as he was finally ready to pop the question. Most of the Weasley clan stopped by at one point or another, with the exception of Charlie and Ron. Charlie was with his beloved dragons, though he did send a letter, and Ron still didn't feel like he had the right to just drop by considering they really weren't that close. As always, the twins, and their wives, brought chaos into his life. New products for him to see and news about their business expansion plans. Sometimes he regretted investing. Percy was there only briefly to make sure he was holding up alright and to check in on Hermione considering how very pregnant she actually was.
Bill, having recently transferred back to the British branch, brought his wife and kids with him so the kids could play with the animals and Fleur could fuss over Hermione. The pair were a surprise couple to many, considering how much of a fool Fleur made of herself in front of him at first, but they really were in love. After the final battle they parted ways. They didn't see each other for over two years, a few months after she got a job at Gringotts. Bill had been working in Egypt and only walked through the French branch by chance and asked her to dinner to catch up. A year and a half later they were married.
But the real surprise was actually the marriage of Draco and Ginny. The pair started dating the school year following the fall of Voldemort and no one knew about it, not even Harry and Draco told him everything. They married a month after Ginny graduated, partially because she was five months pregnant but mostly because they loved each other. Narcissa was ecstatic her son was happy, but a little nervous about how soon he would have a kid of his own. The pair had four kids so far and didn't seem to be in a hurry to stop having more. Ginny had been looking at Hermione's pregnant belly longingly lately so Harry was sure Draco would be stopping by in the next few weeks to tell him that he was going to be a dad again. The pair had stopped by for dinner, with the intention of Ginny cooking while Draco made sure Hermione and Harry relaxed, their kids were with Arthur for the evening. That plan went out the window when Hermione went into labor during dinner.
Harry's ever practical wife had decided not to tell anyone that she had been having contractions all day and instead had just tracked them. Hermione knew that she didn't need to bother with the doctor until her water broke or the contractions got too close together. Apparently, she had been considering bringing it up but wanted to have dinner first. Then her water broke before she had finished her salad.
Having done this three times before, he had twins, Draco was anything but calm. Harry on the other hand had summoned Hermione's bag and sent a Patronus to her healer. He attributed his calm to being a magical vet and his brief career as a professional seeker. Winning two consecutive world cups would make anyone calm, or maybe it was delivering manticore babies, those mothers were vicious.
Hours later, about an hour before midnight, his wife gave him a beautiful baby girl. Luna had informed them that she would have Harry's eyes and Hermione's hair with just a bit of red in it.
Harry was already head over heels in love with Alyssa Potter. He looked down into the little bed sitting between Hermione's hospital bed and his chair to watch his little girl sleep. It had been a little over eleven years since the final confrontation with Tom Riddle and he couldn't be happier. He was married to his best friend and after seven years of marriage, establishing their careers and waiting until they were ready, they had a little girl.
He could do nothing but smile. Yes, his life had changed. It had taken him a while to determine the exact moment that things had turned in his favor, but it was hard. It could have been when Sirius asked him to move in, but at that point things had already been changing. It could have been the letter from Remus or talking to the map for the first time. Really, it could have been when the twins gifted him the map because it led to the discovery of Pettigrew but that really wasn't it either. No, the real turning point in his life was when he decided to trust. With his childhood he had learned to trust no one, and that adults were especially the worst sort to trust. But with a life on the line, he had decided to give them one last chance and that choice changed his life. Placing his trust in Severus Snape, a man he had hated had led to this. Led to his little girl being born on the one day a year he allowed himself to mourn. Halloween was no longer a day of mourning though now. It was no longer a day for loss. Instead, Halloween was now a day to celebrate because it was the day his first child was born.
Who would have thought that a simple choice could lead to this?
And this is the end!
All mistakes are my own, it went through a few word processors and read throughs but I'm no pro and certainly not perfect. I had to post now or I would have kept changing it!
I apologize for the delays but I finally finished it!
Some of this ending was planned for a long time, other parts were not. I actually rewrote most of it five or six times.
Thank you for reading and I hope to see you in another fic soon.
I had a bit of inspiration so I have been toying with adding to Chance Encounter (but a much shorter story than this).
see you next time :)