"If you come with wands blazing to kill innocent children just because they stand in your way, I will hunt you down and kill you, just like how I put down your pet werewolf, Fenrir Greyback. You have been warned."
Lord Voldemort seethed as he listened to Potter's speech. Since when had the boy grown a backbone? The Harry Potter he knew wasn't this confident in defeating him! This was the breaking point. Not even Dumbledore, in all his meddlesome schemes, had dared to publicly announce Voldemort's ancestry. The old man had tried, of course, but had been thwarted by the Dark Lord's brutal attacks on innocents. Potter was brave to attempt this, but foolish to think that anyone would believe him.
"How dare the filthy half-blood lie about our Lord!" screeched Bellatrix, fury clearly marked on her face, her insane eyes glinting with rage.
Many looked at her wearily. No one wanted to cross her when she was angry, not even her husband. In fact, it was during her last fit of rage that she had gone and killed her sister Andromeda for 'betraying' her family by marrying a Mudblood.
"But –" said a Death Eater uncertainty, but that was the last word he spoke before a jet of green light flew from Bellatrix's wand and impacted his chest. He dropped to the ground, dead.
"Does anyone else have anything to say?" Bellatrix hissed.
Many of the Death Eaters gulped, but they knew better than to say anything to the mad witch. She was the Dark Lord's absolute favourite, not to mention was batshit crazy. No one wanted to mess with her.
"Harry Potter is lying, my friends," said Voldemort silkily. "He is nothing but a conniving liar who is trying to destabilise what we have achieved over the past year and a half. Think of our great achievements. We have removed the Mudblood filth from our society! Muggles have no place among us. Pretty soon, all of Britain will be free from the contaminant of Muggles and purebloods alone will rise as the leaders of the new order. Once the international magical community sees what we have achieved, we can take over the world! We will show the Muggles their place and eradicate them, but for that, we need to kill Harry Potter. He is the beacon of light for them all. Once he is dead, the war will be over and we shall have peace! I, Lord Voldemort, the heir of the Salazar Slytherin, the greatest of the Founders of Hogwarts, declare it so!"
Thunderous cheers and applause greeted Voldemort's speech as the Death Eaters bowed to their Lord in submission.
"ATTACK!" shouted Bellatrix as hundreds of Death Eaters entered the grounds, launching brutal spells at the castle in order to bring down the various protective enchantments the defenders of Hogwarts had erected.
Voldemort tapped his wand on his head, casting a Disillusionment Charm so powerful that no one could see him. He walked towards his destination with a smile on his lipless mouth. A sense of euphoria rent the air, a sense of purpose flooded his mind. Potter's words wouldn't have the effect the boy thought it would. His army wasn't going to betray him. It was not possible for them to betray him. Bellatrix did a good job in showing them exactly what would happen to traitors.
The entire situation did nothing but amuse him greatly. He had been planning on attacking Hogwarts to lure Potter here, but instead, the boy did it himself! It was unfortunate that he could not check on his Horcruxes. By the time he had left Godric's Hollow after confirming Grindelwald's identity with the pictures owned by Bathilda Bagshot, word had already reached him through Snape that Potter had been spotted in Hogsmeade and would soon make his way to Hogwarts. There had been no time to go to the Gaunt shack in Little Hangleton as he needed to mobilise his Death Eaters and plan an attack strategy. After all, he wasn't a fool like Potter who would engage his enemy without a plan.
He wondered if he should join his servants.
No, he would wait. After innocent blood was shed, Potter would come to him. Of this, he was certain. The boy wouldn't be able to stand it if his friends died because of him. He would have Potter within his grasp soon. Until then, his Death Eaters would do the killing. He was positive that those idiots of Hogwarts would never use lethal spells. The members of the infamous Dumbledore's Army student organization as well as the Order of the Phoenix would stun people left, right and centre. By the time he entered the battle, the defenders of Hogwarts would be weakened while the Death Eaters would still be large in number. Voldemort laughed softly. Dumbledore's philosophy of giving second chances was foolish, and whatever Potter might say, he was Dumbledore's pet through and through. The boy would only disarm or stun; how pathetic.
When he reached his destination, he was annoyed. The marble tomb was a blemish on the beautiful grounds of Hogwarts. He raised his Yew wand. How fitting that this would be its last, great act. The tomb split open and the wrappings fell apart. He could almost taste his victory …
Unfortunately, the Elder Wand wasn't there.
He screamed in rage. White hot anger coursed through his veins. Dumbledore must have known that he would search for the Elder Wand and had taken appropriate precautions to guard it. The old man was a thorn in his side, even in death!
Within minutes, he was in the Shrieking Shack, with Macnair at his feet.
"Call the giants and dementors, now!" Voldemort ordered, in a deadly, cold voice.
"Yes, my Lord. At once!"
Voldemort fumed. They would all pay for denying him the Deathstick. He would kill them all! He wondered how his enemies could possibility hope to stop the giants under his command and drive away hundreds of Dementors. The Dark Lord smirked in satisfaction.
Harry Potter had already lost the battle; the boy just didn't know it yet.
"Harry, why did you come to Hogwarts?" Hermione cried. "You know that we haven't destroyed any of the Horcruxes. You should have –"
"Stop, just stop!" Harry interrupted her curtly. "I've been busy ever since you two decided to abandon me."
"Harry, mate –" Ron began, but the younger boy ignored him.
"I have a lead on another one, which is why I'm here. If you want to help, be my guest, but if you want to cause trouble, leave me alone."
Ron's ears slowly turned red in anger but one look from Hermione shut him up. Harry paced three times in front of the wall and the metal gates appeared. There was a loud explosion from below; the battle of Hogwarts had begun. Just as he entered a room that resembled a junk yard, he noticed Ron and Hermione following him. He remembered the diadem from where he had hidden Snape's old potions book at the end of last term. He asked them to split up.
"Somewhere here," he whispered urgently, the light from his wand illuminating his path. After several minutes of search, he found it; a faceless bust with an innocent looking tiara on top. He smirked at the Horcrux and wasted no time in grabbing it. Just as he was about to slip the diadem into his expanded pocket, he heard a sound from his left. Acting quickly, he silently cast, 'Homeneum Revelio!'
The moment three shadows appeared on the ground, their presence revealed by the spell, he saw a jet of red light heading his way. He dodged it and fired a Cutting Curse at his opponent. There was an unholy scream. The Disillusionment Charm came unravelled and he saw Gregory Goyle thrashing on the ground, his face bloody; Harry's curse had impacted his eye. There were two other intruders as well: Draco Malfoy and Vincent Crabbe.
"Hold it, Potter," said Malfoy snidely. "Don't think you can leave."
"We're here to take you to the Dark Lord," Crabbe spat, surprising Harry. For six years, he had been under the impression that Crabbe and Goyle were too stupid to speak. He didn't let the situation bother him, though. The diadem was firmly in his hand and he had planned to go searching for Draco after destroying the Horcrux. Maybe Mother Magic was looking out for him tonight as the Malfoy scion had come searching for him!
"I never thought I would be this glad to see you, Draco," Harry smiled, unnerving the Slytherin. Both of them moved at the same time. Harry and Malfoy slashed their wands in the air as jets of light flew in all directions. The Boy-Who-Lived was duelling two at once, using the junk in the Room of Hidden Things to his advantage.
"Avada Kedavra!" yelled Crabbe. Knowing the curse was coming right at him, Harry banished the diadem in the path of the curse. The Killing Curse impacted the artefact, destroying the Horcrux in the process. A screeching sound unlike anything Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle had heard before echoed throughout the room.
"Harry! Look out!" screamed Hermione, emerging from behind the broken vanishing cabinet. Her sudden appearance startled Harry, who was caught in the path of a Cutting Curse. He gasped in pain as his white shirt slowly turned red due to blood. Harry snarled in annoyance. Really, what was the need to screech like that? Didn't Hermione know that it didn't help during a duel?
Wanting to end the fight quickly, Harry cast a rapid spell-chain. Goyle was already incapacitated. A Blood-Boiling curse impacted Crabbe. Two Bone-Breaking curses shattered Malfoy's wand arm and left leg. Malfoy screamed in agony, but it was nothing compared to what Crabbe was going through. The boy's blood was so hot that it was literally boiling within his body. His skin blackened and he died a gory, painful death.
"H-Harry, y-you cast t-that –" Ron stammered, his face extremely pale due to fear, his eyes not darting from Crabbe's corpse.
"Y-You killed him, Harry!" whispered Hermione fearfully.
"They chose to attack me first," replied Harry, panting heavily. "You heard him, Hermione, he cast a Killing Curse. Did you expect me to disarm him instead?"
Harry snorted. He might have done that several months ago, but not now. The reality of war had hardened him. He now understood what Remus had told him back at the Burrow, just after he had been moved from Privet Drive. It was imperative that their enemies were crushed, lest they get back up and continue fighting. Harry had taken that advice to heart, which was why he had instructed the defenders of Hogwarts to use lethal spells and not simply cast stunners at the Death Eaters.
Harry levitated the three Slytherins out of the room while he carefully put the diadem inside the Mokeskin pouch. They quickly walked away, with Ron and Hermione still confused about Harry's behaviour. When they reached the mouth of the corridor leading to the room, they saw Percy and Fred fighting a couple of Death Eaters. Harry, seizing the opportunity, fired Reductor Curses at them from the side. The Death Eaters didn't even have a chance to dodge as the curse tore through their bodies, killing them instantly.
Swiftly moving about, he used the Elder Wand to fire several spells at the enemy, taking down one Death Eater after another. Harry was now the master of the Deathstick, and it showed. He saw, much to his delight, that the defenders of Hogwarts were indeed following his orders as they fired lethal curses at the Death Eaters. As he turned a corner, through the gap in the large window, he saw hundreds of Dementors approaching the grounds. The temperature plummeted and the sky darkened. Even though the Dementors were hundreds of feet away, Harry could hear an echo of his mother's screams.
Something huge and silvery erupted from the tip of the Elder Wand, but it wasn't a stag. A twelve-foot-tall Hungarian Horntail Patronus took shape as it flew towards the Dementors, pushing them back, with the help of several other Patronuses that joined hands with the dragon. The battle continued. Even though the threat of the soul-sucking creatures had been neutralised, it was only a minor victory. After all, most of them fighting were teenagers, facing an army of adult witches and wizards. The battle was proving to be costly, Harry realised that.
Entering the grounds, Harry fought viciously against Voldemort's forces. He did wonder why the Dark Lord hadn't actively sought him out. Suddenly, there was a massive movement from the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Before he could even contemplate what was going on, a large Acromantula attacked him, pinning him to the ground, ready to bite his neck. Desperately moving his straining arm, Harry pointed the Elder Wand at the creature's underbelly and screamed, "Confringo!"
The Blasting Curse did its job. The spider screeched in pain as it was blasted to bits, pieces of its body flying everywhere, leaving Harry free.
Panting heavily, his clothes torn in several places, with multiple cuts on his body, Harry rotated his wand over his head. Fire erupted all around him, and he used it as a whip, just like Dumbledore had done to drive away the Inferi several months ago. The members of the D.A. and the Order of the Phoenix too cast fire spells, setting the large spiders aflame. The tactic proved to be useful, with many of them banishing the burning creatures towards the Death Eaters.
Unfortunately, their problems were still far from over.
The thirty-foot tall giants were coming towards them, swinging their massive clubs, and Harry paled, trembling with terror. These creatures had the potential to completely change the tide of the war if the situation was left to escalate without being put to an end. If the giants were not killed, the casualties would be catastrophic.
Just how do you stop a group of giants? Their hide was resistant to magic, wasn't it?
But were they resistant to Basilisk venom?
Quickly, he rushed inside the castle and up the stairs to the Headmaster's office. The gargoyle stepped aside when it saw him. When he opened the oak door, he saw that all the portraits were asleep. Ignoring them, he walked towards Dumbledore's portrait and yanked it open. It swung forward to reveal a cavity where the real Sword of Gryffindor was hidden. He pulled it out and it gleamed under the lighting charms. He shut the portrait roughly, not looking at the alarmed expression on the face of the painted Albus Dumbledore as he left the room.
"How did he know it was there?" asked Dumbledore's portrait, worriedly. "Did Severus reveal it to him? Does Harry know about the soul-piece in his scar? What is he doing?"
Harry exited the Head's office and picked up one of the discarded broomsticks left behind on the floor. Kicking off into the air, he approached the giant that was destroying everything in its path, advancing towards the crowd of fighting witches and wizards.
"What's that?" asked Ernie Macmillan incredulously, looking at the rapidly moving figure in the sky.
"It's – It's Harry!" shouted Susan Bones in awe.
Harry dived, twirled and started spinning in circles around the giant in order to distract it from the people on the ground. Flying towards its chest, Harry plunged the sword deep into its heart; while normal metal would have found it impossible to pierce through the tough hide of the giant, the specially crafted blade made of goblin silver, imbibed with basilisk venom, made it through. The giant howled in pain and swatted Harry with its enormous hand. Even though he was an outstanding flier, the former Seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team lost control of his broom as he painfully hit the ground, with blood dripping from the injuries he had suffered all over. Susan, Luna and Ernie came over to help him up, just as the giant fell back, dead. The basilisk venom being injected directly into the heart had a near instant effect.
"Good job, Potter," praised one of the Ministry Hit-Wizards who was fighting on their side. "We'll distract the other two giants; do you think you can manage to stab them too?"
Spitting blood on the ground, Harry tried to get his breathing under control. "I'll do my best," he replied hoarsely.
He picked up his broom and sword and flew towards the second giant. With the help of several witches and wizards, he managed to stab the creatures in the chest without being knocked off his broom. In less than twenty minutes, the two remaining giants had been killed.
But Harry was injured badly at this point; he could barely walk. There were several cuts and broken bones all over his body and he was glad that he didn't have his glasses anymore. Merlin knows what would have happened had he lost them during the battle. Wanting to enter the castle in order to seek medical help, he donned his Invisibility Cloak and limped towards the doors. He suddenly stiffened when the voice of his enemy rang out. All around him, people stopped fighting.
"You have fought," said the high, cold voice, "valiantly. Lord Voldemort knows how to value bravery. Yet you have sustained heavy losses. If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one. I do not wish this to happen. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a loss and a waste."
"Lord Voldemort is merciful. I command my forces to retreat immediately."
"You have one hour. Dispose of your dead with dignity. Treat your injured."
"I speak now, Harry Potter, directly to you. You have permitted your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have not come to me, have not given yourself up, then the battle recommences. This time, I shall enter the fray myself, Harry Potter, and I shall find you and kill every last man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me. One hour."
The Death Eaters quickly retreated. Harry decided that it was time to mobilise and find out exactly where they stood. Just before he entered the Great Hall, he heard a crack of Apparition.
"Dobby, report," Harry rasped out.
"Dobby and the other elves freed the Muggle-borns, Master Harry," smiled Dobby. "They all be safe at the Potter and Black farmhouses."
"How many were killed, Dobby?"
"Dobby does not believe the bad Ministry killed them, Master Harry. The Muggle-borns be only locked up and starved. A few dozen died when wizards like Dobby's bad master tortured them, but the others are alive," said Dobby, shaking his head. "Those in camps be very sick and hungry. We be taking care of them. There are many thousands of them, Master Harry."
Thank Merlin for small mercies. The thousands of Muggle-borns taken by the Ministry were not killed. He was sure they were tortured, though, which wasn't any better.
"Thank you, Dobby. You all did an excellent job," said Harry softly as he patted the elf on the head. "I have to go now. I need to get healed before the hour is up."
When Harry entered the Great Hall, all eyes turned to him and some gasped at his appearance. He looked bloody and beaten, face puffed up, with several cuts all over his body. His shirt was soaked in blood and he was limping. The first thing that caught his attention were bodies; so many bodies. Some dead, others injured. Guilt filled him to the bone, but Harry pushed those negative thoughts to the back of his mind. As he slowly limped forward, he saw a Slytherin first year shivering in the corner, crying silently, surrounded by a few other eleven-year-olds. The boy had a cut on his cheek.
"Hey there, mate," said Harry softly as he slowly kneeled down in front of him. "What are you doing here? Why didn't you go home?"
The boy shook his head as more tears trickled down his face. "I don't want to go home," he whispered. "My father and big brother are fighting alongside those people. I don't want to be with them. I want my Mummy, but she – she – she was killed by the Dark Lord!"
Harry swallowed as he held the sobbing boy who had suddenly rushed into his arms, not aware that many were watching. "What's your name?"
"T-T-Thaddeus Nott," the boy hiccupped. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but please don't send me back to my father! He and the Dark Lord will kill me just like they killed my mother! Please!"
"Don't worry, we won't send you back," Harry assured the young boy. "But I must ask you and your companions to stay out of the fight. Can you do that for me?"
"But where can we go?"
Before Harry could answer, the kindly Professor Sprout took charge and led the few remaining first years to the kitchens where they could be looked after by the house-elves.
With that taken care of, Harry limped towards one of the student-healers who had just finished patching up Susan Bones.
"Hey Susan, are you okay?" he inquired.
"I'm fine, Harry," she smiled. "Good job on taking care of the giants. It was a brilliant idea. Is that the Sword of Gryffindor?" she asked, looking at the sword gleaming from Harry's belt.
"Potter, please stay still. You're badly wounded," said Daphne Greengrass quietly, pointing her wand at his right knee. "It'll take several minutes for me to heal you."
Fifteen minutes later, once she had patched him up, Harry stood on his feet, only to painfully hit the stone floor when someone punched him in the face.
The entire Great Hall gasped collectively in shock as Harry fell on his butt, clutching his nose as he looked up at his attacker with fire in his green eyes.
Ron Weasley stared back at his best friend, with a snarl painted on his face.
"YOU!" he screamed angrily. "It's because of you that my father is dead! You bloody bastard, I – I –"
Unable to form any coherent words due to the pain he was experiencing in losing one of his parents, Ron instead chose to punch him again, only for Harry to slash his wand in the air and banish the ginger to the stone floor. People were watching attentively, wondering what happened to the friendship the Boy-Who-Lived and the youngest Weasley son had once shared.
"How am I to blame, Ron?" hissed Harry angrily. "Are you labouring under the delusion that I was sitting on my butt the whole time? I was fighting too!"
"And a fat load of good it did!" Ron bellowed. "Where the hell were you when my father was attacked?"
"I was on the grounds, killing the three fucking thirty-foot-tall giants," spat Harry. "This is a war, Ron! I didn't even know where your father was! How could I have helped him? You're his son; it was you who should have been with him and protected him!"
"Ronald, maybe we should take this somewhere private," Hermione interrupted, but the ginger cut her off.
"This battle would never have taken place if not for you! You know that he can't be killed. You didn't finish the mission Dumbledore gave you and instead, you're killing innocent people by starting this fight. You're as bad as You-Know-Who!"
Silence reigned once more as Harry stared at Ron in shock, unable to believe what he was hearing. Recovering in moments, he stepped closer to the redhead so that they were face-to-face.
"Is that so?" he said, his voice dripping with venom. "You think I'm just like Voldemort? If that's what you believe, Ronald, then that shows that you have never been my friend all these years. Let me assure you that the reason I took a stand tonight is because I have every intention of killing him. I'm willing to forgive you because your grief is clouding your judgement, but don't expect me to ever be your friend after this night."
With that as his parting statement, Harry walked away from Ron, who was still glaring at him. Hermione was close to tears at the sight of a further rift in their friendship and at the feeling of helplessness, not knowing what was going on. The rest of the Weasleys hadn't noticed, too distressed over the death of their father.
Harry was sad that a good man had died, but Arthur's death didn't really hurt him. Cedric, Sirius and Dumbledore's murders had shaken him too much and every death after that became numb. Harry paused in front of the bodies of Remus and Tonks.
Harry had never spoken to his former professor after they had lashed out at each other in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place in August. Remus had informed them of his separation from his heavily pregnant wife, unable to deal with the guilt he felt at the possibility of his then unborn child being born a werewolf. Harry had been disgusted and furious, going so far as to verbally attack Remus, comparing him to James Potter who had selflessly walked to his death with the hope of giving his wife and son time to escape, while Remus had abandoned his pregnant wife and unborn child during a time of war, choosing the path of a coward. Had Hermione not intervened, the two would have probably duelled in the kitchen. While Harry did not feel guilty about that confrontation, he did feel bad that he had never reconciled with the last of his father's best friends.
He suddenly realised, with a jolt, that Teddy was an orphan. The boy's parents and grandparents were all dead. Harry was the only family he had left. If he survived the battle tonight, his godson would be his top priority. He would not repeat Sirius' mistakes.
Kneeling down, Harry closed his eyes and breathed deeply, conserving his energy. He knew that one of the reasons he had been able to take out so many Death Eaters was because of the sheer power of the Elder Wand. Voldemort must have been furious at not finding the wand in Dumbledore's grave.
The various healers worked with quiet efficiency as they patched people through. Many in the Hall occasionally stole glances at Harry as he meditated, hoping that he wouldn't give into the pressure and turn himself over to Voldemort. Thankfully, as the minutes ticked by, it became clear that their saviour was not going to leave. He had obviously decided to fight, not surrender, and that only rejuvenated many a witch and wizard in the Hall.
When the hour was almost up, Harry opened his eyes and stood up.
"If I could have everyone's attention please," he called out loudly. Hundreds of heads turned towards him.
"This is it. We have a chance to end this war here and now. This war has gone on for decades, destroying Magical Britain in the process. Remember what we have lost and what we can hope to regain once it is over. Remember all those who gave their lives for freedom. Do you recall what Riddle said? He said that he will destroy every man, woman and child who steps in his path. Those are the words of an insane monster, not those of a visionary. No matter what you believe, trust me when I say that he is not invincible! He can he stopped once and for all! So, please, I beg of you, don't give up now. Not when we are this close! This madman doesn't care about anyone but himself! He is willing to kill innocent children! If we let this go, there will no Magical Britain left to defend. This is our last chance. Don't waste it!"
"I agree," said Neville loudly as he stood up. "Let's finish this once and for all. To victory!" he yelled, raising his fist high in the air.
The scream of determination from all echoed throughout the castle and grounds.
The battle resumed. Harry, under his Invisibility Cloak, used stealth to the best of his advantage as he killed the Death Eaters that he knew were dangerous and notorious. No matter how passionate the defenders of Hogwarts were in achieving victory over their enemies, the sad truth was that the teenagers were just not skilled enough to defeat the inner circle members of Voldemort's army.
Voldemort was fighting three at once – McGonagall, Kingsley and Slughorn, who couldn't get a scratch on him. Bellatrix was fighting multiple opponents too and just as Harry was about to cast a curse from his invisible position, a jet of orange light soared past her defences and impacted Bellatrix in the chest. She screamed and withered in pain as the organs in her body liquefied, bringing unending pain to the insane witch. The attacker followed with a Cutting Curse, severing her neck from her body.
Voldemort roared in fury at the loss of his most trusted lieutenant. He pointed his wand at the person responsible, Neville Longbottom, only for a block of marble to impact the Killing Curse. He looked around wildly, only to snarl, "Potter!" when Harry finally removed the Invisibility Cloak, revealing himself to the Dark Lord.
People had stopped fighting now. They watched as Harry and Voldemort circled each other like a pair of wolves, ready to tear the other in two.
"It's over, Tom," Harry hissed in Parseltongue.
He purposely chose not to speak English. That was the only way he could communicate with the Dark Lord without anyone else understanding what he was saying. Information about the Horcruxes could never be revealed to the masses, after all. There was no telling what anyone would do with it. Knowledge about the Horcruxes was better left forgotten, never to be discovered by the common witch and wizard.
"There are no more Horcruxes. You are mortal now!"
People were wondering what Harry had just said when Voldemort let out a maniacal laugh and hissed back, "Do you think you could find them all, Potter? I am Lord Voldemort! I have pushed the boundaries of magic more than anyone in history! You can't find them all and a pathetic wizard like you can never hope to breach the enchantments I have erected around them! Face it, Potter, I am immortal and I shall always be immortal!"
Harry smirked faintly, tightening his grip on the handle of the Elder Wand to prepare for the duel that would begin in the next few seconds.
"Still the pathetic six-year-old boy who is scared of death, aren't you Tom? The diary given to Lucius Malfoy; Helga Hufflepuff's Cup in Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at Gringotts; Marvolo Gaunt's ring in the shack in Little Hangleton; Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem in the Room of Requirement here at Hogwarts; Salazar Slytherin's locket in the cave by the sea where you tortured your fellow orphans; and of course, you're snake Nagini – all of them have been destroyed!"
Fear gripped Voldemort like it never had before. How? How had the boy discovered his greatest secret? Was he telling the truth? Blinding hatred assaulted his vision as he slashed his wand in the air. Jets of light flew in all directions as Harry and Voldemort battled for supremacy. Harry, unfortunately, was not a match for the Dark Lord's knowledge in magic and was quickly losing. Sensing a weakness, Voldemort decided to end it once and for all as he pointed the Yew wand at his greatest foe.
Harry, seizing the opportunity, knowing that being the master of the Elder Wand would ensure that he won this duel, flicked his wand at the man who had murdered his parents, thus destroying his life. With a silent prayer to Mother Magic, he too yelled –
Two beams of green light flew from the tips of both wands as they impacted each other. Flashes of light could be seen, but Harry pushed and soon, Voldemort found himself on the back foot, unable to strike. As much as Voldemort tried, he couldn't match the power of the Elder Wand. Harry's Killing Curse hit Voldemort, destroying the Dark Lord's wand in the process. With shock still etched on his snake-like face, his body shrunk into a feeble mass as he hit the ground.
Tom Marvolo Riddle was dead, killed by the boy who was prophesied to defeat him.
Harry stood there, breathing hard, but when he saw people about to celebrate, he pointed his wand at the remaining Death Eaters and started stunning them. Getting the hint, the rest of them began to stun and bound members of the late Dark Lord's army, who were still in shock at their Master's sudden defeat.
No one was getting off easy this time.
When they were done, the tumult broke around Harry as the screams and the cheers and the roars of the watchers rent the air. The fierce new sun dazzled the windows as they thundered toward him, all of them wanting to shake his hand and touch the Boy Who Lived; their beloved saviour.
After he was able to get away from the crowd, Harry informed Kingsley that the Muggle-borns who were sent to camps were rescued, currently safe at his family's farmhouses. With relief evident in his eyes, the former Auror left, wanting to take charge at the Ministry.
Once there was some semblance of control, Harry and a few other members of the D.A. spent half an hour ensuring that all the Death Eaters present had been captured. That was when he encountered the stunned and bound form of Severus Snape. The man had entered during the last stages of the battle like the coward he was. Harry vowed to himself that Snape would get what was coming to him.
The House tables were restored and people were sitting, eating and making merry. Not exactly in the mood to celebrate, Harry left the Great Hall and headed towards the Head's office. Even though he had summoned the spirit and forced Dumbledore to tell the truth, he still wanted to talk to the rotten portrait. As he was walking, his lips thinned when he saw Ron and Hermione hurrying towards him.
"Harry – mate – slow down," panted Ron as he ran up to talk to him. "Harry, I'm sorry I yelled at you. I was upset and Dad had just died and –"
"It's fine," Harry said simply, though his tone was enough to convey the message that he wasn't going to forgive the boy.
"Harry, how did you get the rest of the Horcruxes?" asked Hermione in shock and not a little resentment. "What happened to your glasses? You've suddenly grown taller and the features on your face seem to have changed!"
Harry didn't answer her as he calmly led them to the Head's office. As he opened the door, there were voices of celebration as the portraits welcomed him. He looked at the portrait directly behind the headmaster's desk. Tears were flowing from his eyes into his long silver beard.
"What are you crying for, Dumbledore?" asked Harry quietly. "Are you distraught that your plan went up in smoke and that I'm not dead?"
His green eyes were glowing with unadulterated rage.
Dumbledore's portrait panicked, jumping to the wrong conclusion. "Miss Granger, Mr Weasley! Voldemort is not dead! He –"
"Oh, shut up, Dumbledore," snapped Harry. With a flick of his wand, he created a privacy bubble around him and the portrait, cutting off any sound from Ron and Hermione. "I've already gotten rid of the damn soul-piece. Did you think your stupid plan was the only thing that could work? Did you honestly believe that sacrificing myself on the altar of the greater good was the only way to kill Voldemort?"
Dumbledore's portrait gaped at Harry. "It's-It's gone?" he exclaimed. "Is it really you, Harry?"
"Even if I were Voldemort, I'd say yes. But to answer your question, I did get rid of the Horcrux in my scar. And for the record, I did not let Voldemort hit me with a bloody Killing Curse to remove it!"
"Then the soul-piece is not destroyed!" cried Dumbledore's portrait. "My boy, you've made a grave mistake! If you didn't follow my instructions, then Voldemort is alive and still out there!"
"Voldemort is dead." Harry stated flatly. "He's not coming back. All his Horcruxes were destroyed, I personally saw to it. As for my scar, I received help from the goblins, Dumbledore. They found a way to destroy it without killing me. Are you disappointed that I'm not dead? After all, you raised me like a weapon, ready to be deployed at destroyed at the right time."
"Harry, I only did what I thought was best. Voldemort had to be killed."
"And I, with him," Harry said bitterly. "You screwed me over, Dumbledore, multiple times. Not only me, but everyone as well. You tried to redeem worthless scum like Draco Malfoy while putting innocent people at risk. Your selfish, dim-witted actions caused the deaths of thousands! Well, your great plan went up in flames. Your weapon is still alive and Snape is in custody. I'll ensure that every witch and wizard in the magical world knows of your atrocities."
Dumbledore's portrait closed his eyes in defeat. He knew that his explanation for his actions would not be enough to reason with Harry.
The defeater of the Dark Lord Voldemort turned to leave, but paused mid-stride. He looked at Dumbledore's portrait with barely concealed disgust and before Ron and Hermione knew what was happening, Gryffindor's sword was buried in the canvas.
"HARRY!" yelled Ron, just as the silencing charm was disabled.
"What are you doing, Harry?" screeched Hermione. "That's Dumbledore's portrait! It's Dumbledore! What's wrong with you?"
The other portraits of the headmasters and headmistress also screamed and shouted profanities at him for destroying the sole portrait of the great Albus Dumbledore, but Harry ignored them all and simply strolled out of the room without a backward glance.
He doubted if things would ever be the same with him, Ron and Hermione again. The war, the discovery of the Horcrux in his scar, and Dumbledore's betrayal, had changed him. Maybe if he was not as deeply hurt and scarred as he was over Dumbledore's actions, he would have tried to mend his friendship with Ron and Hermione, but now, after everything that had happened, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. No matter how much he tried, how much he forced himself to remember the last six years of friendship, he wasn't able to forgive Ron for his actions and hurtful words.
Then there was Hermione. Harry wondered if he should be angry with Hermione as much as he was, but then again, she too believed in Dumbledore's infallibility and would never hear a word against him. He hadn't forgotten her constant, condescending nagging and how she had looked at him as though he was the culprit whenever his scar had throbbed. He wondered how she would have fared under Snape's tutelage if he had taught her Occlumency. Harry was sure that Hermione would have gone insane due to the torture.
He just wasn't in the mood to deal with her and the endless questions about the Horcruxes that would surely follow. Not now. He was exhausted; physically, mentally and emotionally. Maybe he would talk to her later, once he was rested and his mind clearer, but he would never forgive Ron. Ever. Nor would he reveal the truth about the existence of the Elder Wand and him being its master, or that his scar had once housed a piece of Voldemort's soul. That information would remain a secret with him forever.
Harry walked out of the gates of the castle, grimacing at the destruction the battle had caused. It would take a lot of time and effort to repair the damage done to Hogwarts. He took a deep breath, enjoying his solitude, no longer surrounded by people who were constantly praising him. He had come to realise over the course of his life that fame was very fickle. When he had first defeated Voldemort back in 1981, people celebrated, but no one cared that Albus Dumbledore had left him to rot at the Dursleys to be broken and abused for years to come.
Thinking about that day reminded Harry of another orphan whose family had been destroyed by the Death Eaters.
The elf appeared before him. She smiled brightly and asked, "What can Winky do for Master Harry?"
"Winky, I want you to go to the Burrow, the home of the Weasleys, and bring me my godson."
Harry then paused. Mrs Weasley had not come to Hogwarts for the final battle and he wasn't sure if she was informed about her husband's death. For all he knew, she could already be at Hogwarts, having been summoned by her children.
"He's with Mrs Weasley," he continued, "but in case she's not home, check the Great Hall here at Hogwarts. I don't want to enter the castle again. Wherever she is, inform Mrs Weasley that you are my house-elf and that I'll be taking care of Teddy from now on."
Winky nodded and a few minutes later, she brought the crying baby to him. The three-month old infant was wrapped securely in a light blue blanket. His face was puffed up and the tear stains on his little cheeks revealed to Harry that his godson might have been crying for quite some time.
Swallowing, he murmured, "Any problems?"
The elf shook her head. "No, Master Harry," she replied. "Billy Weasley had little master with him in the Great Hall. Once Winky explained to him who she was and that Master Harry wanted to take care of little master, he didn't complain."
If Bill had Teddy, that meant Mrs Weasley was here, having been informed about Arthur's death. Guilt gnawed at him for leaving, but he couldn't stay here anymore.
Harry gently took the infant from Winky, carefully supporting the child's head with his arm. Teddy continued to whimper, but he was no longer bawling; he was probably tired and sleepy. Balancing Teddy in one arm, he extracted Gryffindor's sword from his belt where it had been stuck and handed it over to Winky, instructing her to keep it safe at Potter Manor.
"Don't worry, Teddy," Harry whispered to the baby, gently rocking him to sleep. The child's eyelids slowly drifted shut at the soothing movement. "I won't let you grow up alone and unloved like me. I won't make the same mistakes that all the adults in my life did when I was a baby. I may not be able to bring your parents back, but I can ensure that you are not an orphan. I will do everything in my power to keep you safe and happy, this is a promise."
He placed a kiss on his godson's forehead. With a near silent crack, Harry Disapparated from the gates of Hogwarts.
"Is it possible?"
"Of course," answered Ragnok. "Blood adoption is usually done to infants who are less than a year old. Yours was the only ritual we've performed where the person being adopted was an adult."
"Good," said Harry quietly.
He knew that it would seem distasteful to some, but Teddy was better off not having to deal with Remus' stigma as a werewolf. He had decided not to reveal the child's parentage to anyone, even the goblins. The members of the Order of the Phoenix would know; that could not be helped, but no one else outside the Order could know that Teddy was Remus and Tonks' child. He had simply told the goblins that he was the godfather of the child, and that Teddy was the son of a family friend who had died during the Battle of Hogwarts.
They were interrupted by a subordinate goblin who spoke to Ragnok in low tones. The aged goblin frowned. "It appears that this child's birth was not registered with the Ministry of Magic, Mr Potter-Black."
"I know," Harry nodded. "The Ministry was already compromised when he was born and his parents did not feel the need to attract the wrong sort of attention by making his existence public. Is it possible to register his birth now? With me being listed as the father?"
Ragnok looked thoughtful. "You might encounter problems with the Ministry, if you plan to adopt him without declaring his birth parents' identity."
Harry shook his head. "That won't be an issue," he stated. He could always ask Kingsley for help, who was currently the Interim Minister of Magic.
"Then we can proceed," the goblin said. "Just decide on the name soon as the registration process has to be completed before you can leave the bank."
Harry nodded. It would take a few hours for Teddy to be fully adopted and that was enough time to come up with a name. He allowed the goblins to extract some of his blood and followed them to the ritual chamber. He stayed with Teddy throughout the duration of the ritual, thinking quietly.
He had already decided to change his godson's name from 'Ted', but to what? It had to be something that could be shortened to Teddy, as the child was already responding to that name. The only choices he could think of were Theodore, Edmund and Edward. He kept going over the names in his head for an hour before settling on the one that he liked best.
Harry was hesitant to change Teddy's middle name from 'Remus', but the paranoid part of his mind kept thinking that it was a dead giveaway, especially since it would be public record that Teddy was adopted. What if someone made the connection? After much deliberation, he came to a decision.
Edmund Harrison Potter-Black. That would be his son's name.
Two hours later, Harry picked up the sleeping infant now registered as Edmund Harrison Potter-Black, formerly Ted Remus Lupin, and Disapparated from Gringotts. When he arrived at his destination, guided by the Potter signet ring, he was greeted by a pair of large metal gates. They opened at his touch after the enchantments recognised him as a Potter. Carefully tucking the baby in his arms, Harry walked towards his new home.
He was extremely glad that his ancestral home had been under a stasis charm. Who knew what state it could be in after seventeen years? Grimmauld Place was barely habitable!
After a few minutes of walking along a grassy path, a beautiful and expansive mansion made of light brown stone came into view. Harry smiled when he saw Potter Manor for the first time. From what Sirius had told him back during the summer before his fifth year, the mansion had been damaged during the first Voldemort war, when Death Eaters had attacked it to murder his grandparents, Charlus and Dorea, which was why James and Lily had shifted their residence to the modest collage in Godric's Hollow. After renovations were complete, the couple had decided to place the ancestral manor under a stasis charm, as James had still been haunted by the deaths of his parents at his childhood home. Lily too had preferred to stay in the village, which was why the mansion lay empty for close to two decades, even if it was perfectly preserved.
It was clear that, anticipating his arrival, Dobby and Winky had worked to bring life to the manor. The large fountain that stood at the entrance of the building was active, a few droplets of water falling on Harry as he walked past it, bringing a smile to his face. He wished he had ten pairs of eyes to simply look around and admire both the exquisite architecture of the mansion and the stunning beauty of the surrounding grounds.
As he stepped into the entrance hall, Harry was in awe of the splendour the interior of the manor offered. The marble floor gleamed under the rays of sunlight streaming from the windows. Rich cream and gold colours dominated the walls. After casting a point-me spell, he proceeded towards the master bedroom.
The bedroom was very large and spacious, with an expansive four-poster bed, a sofa set and other pieces of furniture. The balcony off the bedroom afforded a breathtaking view of the lake situated on the grounds. Harry gently placed Teddy on the bed and climbed in after him. While it was still before noon, he was way too exhausted to explore the manor like he wanted to. He felt his eyelids slowly becoming heavier, so he knew it wouldn't be long before he was lost to slumber.
Thanks to the ritual, he knew that Teddy wouldn't wake up for a while. He could already see that the bone structure and other distinguishing features on the infant's face had changed to match his own. While Harry's own adoption had not changed too much of his original looks, Ragnok had warned Harry that younger the child, the more powerful the ritual would be. Clearly, that was true. The child's natural appearance seemed to make him look like a miniature form of his adopted father.
The lingering guilt in blood-adopting the boy and changing his name remained, but he knew that had he not done so, Teddy's future would have been anything but happy. Even though the child wasn't a werewolf, and had instead inherited his birth-mother's Metamorphmagus trait, most people would still treat Teddy like a pariah due to Remus' condition.
Remus and Tonks may not agree with Harry's decision, but he was the child's godfather, and it was his duty to ensure Teddy's happiness. And this was the only way he knew in order to secure the baby's future.
He gently kissed Teddy's forehead as he drifted off to sleep. The toddler snuggled into Harry's hold and smiled as he inherently recognised the magical presence of his new father.
Back at Hogwarts, Molly Weasley was inconsolable when she found out about her husband's death; she was weeping brokenly. Thankfully, Percy had finally grown a spine and had apologised to his father before the battle, but that didn't make him feel any less guilty. Fred and George had blank expressions on their faces as they stayed with their mother, not speaking a word. Bill, Fleur and Charlie were helping with the repair work. Ron, Hermione and Ginny were searching everywhere for Harry.
The Ministry of Magic, on the other hand, was going through a thorough cleaning. Kingsley was leaving no stone unturned as he did his best to make sure that all the people who were accessories to Voldemort's reign were arrested, waiting to be tried by the reinstated Wizengamot. The holding cells were full and not for the first time did he wish that he had Amelia Bones around to take care of the chaos that had gripped the government.
Unfortunately, one person had slipped through his fingers. This person wasn't present at the battle but had only heard whispers. Thinking that the extremist pureblood faction still held power, Dolores Umbridge entered the Great Hall of Hogwarts with a superior expression on her face, flanked by two of her most faithful Aurors.
"Where is Harry Potter?" she asked in a sickeningly sweet voice.
Headmistress McGonagall boiled with rage when she saw the toad again. She knew the atrocities this woman had committed under Voldemort's reign of terror and her hand twitched towards her wand. Several others in the Great Hall palmed their wands as well, unknown to the Senior Undersecretary.
"Why?" spat McGonagall.
Umbridge puffed out her chest importantly. "He is under arrest for the murder of several upstanding purebloods –"
That was all she said before she and her two Aurors were blasted off their feet by no less than ten different stunners at the same time. The three hit the wall in the entrance hall and dropped to floor with a heap, unconscious.
"Oh dear," said McGonagall in a mock concerned voice. "It seems the toad has finally croaked."
People chuckled as she bound Umbridge and the two Aurors. She had to call the D.M.L.E. to arrest them. Merlin knows the woman's crimes were numerous.
"Where's Harry?" exclaimed Hermione. "I want to know how he found the rest of the Horcruxes. What if he missed something? Maybe –"
Ron and Hermione were outside, searching for their friend, surrounded by various witches and wizards who were in the process of restoring the castle. The damage done to Hogwarts could not be repaired easily. McGonagall was thinking of cancelling the second term so that they could open again next September. After all, it would take a long time for things to get back under control. Reopening the school was not a priority at the moment as there were too many orphans and injured people to deal with.
"I don't know," said Ron bitterly. "Did you see the way he ignored us? It looks like fame has finally gone to his head, the git!"
Hermione shook her head in frustration. "Honestly, Ronald," she snapped. "Grow up, will you? Fame is not the issue. Harry said that he destroyed all the remaining Horcruxes, including the locket. How did he do that? He doesn't know how to cast Fiendfyre and he clearly didn't have access to Basilisk venom. For that matter, how did he destroy the diadem? Did you see how he did it?" Not waiting for a response, she continued. "And what if he missed something? A Horcrux that was overlooked? That's why Dumbledore wanted the three of us to work together. If Voldemort isn't really dead, that could prove to be a huge problem for us!"
Ron had the decency to look slightly abashed. After a minute, he spoke.
"Do you think it's really him, though?" he asked curiously. "The Harry I know would never kill anyone, including Death Eaters. He cast the Killing Curse on You-Know-Who, for Merlin's sake! And he looks different too!"
"Who would want to impersonate Harry and kill Voldemort? No, it was definitely Harry. He found the diadem, didn't he? But how did he know it was there? How did he get rid of the locket? What about Hufflepuff's cup? Nagini? Don't tell me he destroyed them all just after we left! None of us had a clue as to where they were and how to destroy them! And from where did he get Gryffindor's sword?"
Ron was startled. "Oh, yeah!" he blurted out. "That goblin said that after Ginny tried to steal it, it was placed in Gringotts! And at the time, we didn't know where the real sword was!"
"So how did he get it?" Hermione muttered in frustration. There were so many questions for which she had no answers! And damn it, she needed answers badly!
The two of them simply stood in silence, letting the cold Scottish breeze ruffle their hair. They heard footsteps and Ginny Weasley came up to them and demanded, "Where's Harry? Dad's been killed and Mum's in a right state! How can he just run off like that?"
"I know!" Ron spat angrily. "The git vanished right after the battle. Does he care that Dad died? After everything we've done for him, is this how he treats us?"
"You know how Harry is," Hermione sighed, shaking her head sadly. "He probably believes it is entirely his fault. Unless we make him talk about it, he'll keep it bottled up until he explodes. I was trying to make him talk about Sirius's death last year, but he never listened to me! But this time, it's going to be much worse. I think we should stick to him once we find him and make sure he tells us everything."
"We'll wait for him," said Ron. "He has to come back here sometime."
Daphne Greengrass sighed tiredly as she finished patching up another injured student. There were hundreds of wounded patients that required her attention, but thankfully, the critical ones were all taken to St Mungo's. Since she was one of the few people who had apprenticed under Madam Pomfrey before applying for Healer's school, she was qualified to take care of the broken bones, cuts and hexes. The reversal and treatment of various dark curses, however, were handled by Madam Pomfrey and other professional healers.
Finally taking a break after working constantly for twelve hours, Daphne walked out of the Great Hall. She watched with satisfaction as Dolores Umbridge and her two Aurors were escorted out of the school by members of the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol. That woman was a nasty piece of work. Hopefully, she would be punished for her crimes.
That's when she caught sight of the nasty gash of Professor McGonagall's face.
"Let me take a look at that, Professor," said Daphne softly as she moved towards the headmistress.
The Transfiguration teacher shook her head distractedly, already moving towards the Great Hall. "It's fine, Miss Greengrass. It's just a scratch. I have a lot of work to do and don't have time for –"
"This place is contaminated with dirt and dark magic, Professor," Daphne interrupted, already scanning her teacher's face with her wand. "You don't want to have an open wound. It could lead to an infection."
Having diagnosed the nature of the hex that had caught McGonagall in the face, Daphne began muttering incantations under her breath, with her wand pointed at her teacher's cheek.
McGonagall smiled faintly. She usually didn't like many Slytherin students due to their open bigotry and disgusting behaviour – Severus, a bigot himself, being their Head of House for so many years hadn't helped matters any – but she genuinely like Daphne. She, along with Padma Patil, was the top student of their year. Many were under the impression that Hermione Granger was the best, but they were mistaken. While no one could dispute that Hermione was very talented, she tended to recite what was written in books, while Daphne and Padma chose to explain the concepts in their own way; their papers were a joy to read. Their practical work too had differences. Creativity was a key aspect in magic, and that required broadmindedness and imagination, two qualities that, much to McGonagall's dismay, Hermione Granger lacked. Hermione's practical work was flawless, but dry and repetitive. Daphne and Padma, on the other hand, had practical work that always brought something new to the table.
Hermione never knew this because they never gave a merit list at Hogwarts. There was no need to publicise other people's marks, was what the staff believed, so not many knew about Daphne's achievements.
McGonagall never played favourites, but if hypothetically, there ever was a list of her most favourite students in a deep corner of her mind, Daphne Greengrass would definitely be on it.
"How is your father, Miss Greengrass?" asked McGonagall softly, after the girl had finished healing the cut.
Daphne remained stoic as she lowered her head, staring at the floor. She was silent for a few moments as she tried to control the tears that were pooling in her eyes.
"He's dead, Professor," she answered in a cracked voice. "He didn't make it."
About a month back, Daphne's father, a member of the Wizengamot, had been tortured extensively by the Death Eaters for refusing to join Voldemort and supply the outrageous amounts of money and resources for his campaign that they had demanded from him. Lord Cyrus Greengrass had tried to remain neutral during the conflict, but no one could do so under Voldemort's regime. Daphne also suspected that it was Draco Malfoy who had urged the Death Eaters to attack her father. The blond boy had been furious that she had dared to reject his advances. Apparently, her kicking him in the balls for refusing to sleep with him, not to mention trying to protect the various younger students in the school from the Carrows, was not acceptable behaviour, and her father had paid the price for it.
"I'm so sorry, Daphne," said Professor McGonagall, smiling sadly at her.
"It's okay, Professor," she muttered, quickly wiping the tears away with her hand. "The healers had already informed me that any chance of recovery was slim to none. At least he wouldn't spend the rest of his life like the Longbottoms. He may have been a very strict disciplinarian, but he was still my father. With him gone, I don't know how long it will be before my stepmother decides to throw me out of the house."
That's when Daphne felt a gentle hand on her shoulder, squeezing it comfortingly.
"Don't worry, Daphne. If you need help, my door is always open to you," said Madam Pomfrey warmly. "Don't think we haven't noticed how much you helped the younger students over the past few months. Quite a few of them told me stories of how you protected the first and second-years during detentions with the Carrows. You did it even after you were caught and tortured. Not only that, but you helped students across all four Houses. That exhibits your strength and character. Harry Potter's speech really struck a chord around here, but in my opinion, people badly needed it."
Daphne nodded, lost in thought. She never expected the Gryffindor Golden Boy to defend the Slytherins. She could understand why McGonagall had told her Housemates to leave, as many of them did support Voldemort's goals. It would have been unwise for them to have started fighting each other inside when Voldemort was a threat. Harry Potter having nearly been a Slytherin himself was a shock to everyone. Daphne had always thought he was a tactless idiot, but after last night's battle, her opinion about Potter had changed drastically.
Taking another deep breath, Daphne returned to work. There were still more wounds she had to tend to.
Harry gently placed the sucker of the small milk bottle in Teddy's mouth. He was really grateful for house-elves. They knew how to take care of children and Harry didn't have to worry about his son's safety. They would see to the child's needs when he wasn't around, but that didn't mean that he didn't want to help too.
Teddy started crying when he realised it wasn't his mother's milk that he was being fed. Harry sighed sadly as he gently rocked the baby.
"Shh, please don't cry, Teddy," he whispered soothingly, rubbing the boy's back while he bounced him on his knee. "It's going to be okay. Daddy is here for you now."
Getting an idea, Harry flicked his wand and whispered, "Expecto Patronum!"
The Horntail burst from the tip of the Elder Wand. The snout of the silver dragon approached them and Teddy hiccupped as the positive emotions from the Patronus helped soothe him. Taking it as a good sign, Harry again placed the sucker of the bottle at his son's mouth. Now calmer, Teddy drank his milk. His hair turned bright blue as he looked at Harry with big green eyes, identical to his own.
The elf in question appeared before him, bowing to her master.
"Winky, I'll have to head to the Ministry soon. Please ensure that Teddy is fed and taken care of when I'm gone. Also, can you find a pair of my father's old robes? Maybe they're still in good condition."
"Yes, Master Harry," said Winky happily.
Harry got up from the sofa and walked around the enormous bedroom with Teddy in his arms, rubbing the infant's back soothingly as he put the baby to sleep. He had to admit, he had no experience dealing with children, but he was sure that he would do a much better job than his Aunt Petunia.
Ten minutes later, he placed Teddy on the large bed. He still had no time to go shopping, unfortunately, and so there was no crib he could use. After a refreshing shower, he donned a respectable pair of robes that had once belonged to James Potter, surprisingly in good condition. Once he was ready, he walked downstairs and Disapparated to the Ministry of Magic. He would ensure that every one of those arrested was given a trial. Innocent people would not be sent to prison and the guilty would not get off scot-free this time.
Severus Snape couldn't believe his fate. How had he landed himself in a D.M.L.E. holding cell? Once moment the Dark Lord was the ruler of Britain and the next, he was dead? How had Potter done it?
However, despite the circumstances, Snape remained calm. Albus had assured him that once Harry knew the whole truth, he would realise what a great asset Snape had been for the Order and the country as a whole. He was quite pleased with the arrangement; a consummate Slytherin indeed! When the Dark Lord was in power, he had been one of his most faithful Death Eaters, gifted the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts School. And now, with the Order of the Phoenix having won the war, he would reveal the truth to them and would be hailed as a hero.
Snape really hated the fact that he would have to spill his secrets to Potter in order to be acquitted. He had hoped that the brat would die, but he hadn't. Had the Dark Lord killed the boy, he would have celebrated with a bottle of the most expensive Firewhisky he could get his hands on for the extinction of the wretched Potter line. Instead, he was now confined in a D.M.L.E. holding cell.
The door suddenly clicked opened and someone stepped inside.
"Well, well, well," said a familiar voice. "How the mighty Severus Snape has fallen."
"Potter," Snape sneered. "I'm glad that you're here. I wanted to speak to you. I was not loyal to the Dark Lord. I have been working for Dumbledore all this time. Take my memories and it will show you –"
"– that you believe you are in love with my mother, that Dumbledore raised me like a pig for slaughter, the old man's death was planned between the two of you, and that I have a piece of Voldemort's soul in my scar?" finished Harry, eyebrows raised, stopping Snape's explanation.
Snape's black eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How did you know all this?" he hissed.
"I know a lot of things, Snape, but suffice it to say, I got rid of that stupid soul piece before I came to Hogwarts for the final battle. Tell me, did you think I would kill myself just because that manipulative bastard said so? Were you labouring under the delusion that I would forgive you for all that you've done to me over the years, just because you claim to be in love with my mother? Did you think I've forgotten our Occlumency lessons, Snivellus? Did you honestly think I would make you a hero?"
"You're a fool if you think I would save you," he spat angrily, as Snape's face contorted with rage. "I know that it was you who spilled the information about the prophecy to Voldemort. I've known about it since before Dumbledore's death. Who cares if Dumbledore made you kill him, Snape? As far as the world is concerned, you murdered Albus Dumbledore on Voldemort's orders; end of story."
Snape began calculating on how to deal with this new situation. He planned to tell the Wizengamot the truth about the soul piece in Potter's scar. With any luck, they would kill him too. As long as Potter died, Snape would be content.
Unfortunately, Harry wasn't willing to take any chances with his life.
"This situation is so ironic isn't it?" Harry smirked, positioning the Elder Wand at Snape's forehead.
Harry entered the Wizengamot chamber wearing the traditional deep plum coloured robes that were designed for the members of the legislative and highest judicial body of Magical Britain. He ascended to one of the empty seats and sat down, silently observing everyone present. He had already spoken to Kingsley, so at least the interim Minister of Magic knew about his status as Lord Potter-Black. He would have to be formally introduced during this session. There was no Chief Warlock elected as yet, as Yaxley was arrested during the Battle of Hogwarts.
People started whispering about him when they saw the duel Potter and Black crests on his robes. When some exclaimed in surprise, they saw the signet rings clearly visible on his fingers. Finally, Interim Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt ascended to his seat and banged his gavel.
"Wizengamot in session on the twenty-sixth of December, 1997," said Kingsley. "We are here today to stand in judgement of several witches and wizards who have betrayed this country and government by consorting with the Dark Lord Voldemort, whose true name was Tom Marvolo Riddle. But before we do, we have a new member amongst us: Lord Harry James Potter-Black of the Most Ancient and Noble Clan of Potter-Black."
Harry got up amidst thunderous applause, ignoring the whispers that the introduction of the Potter-Black Clan had produced. He could see that many were curious about how he was Lord Black. Once he bowed to them, he reclaimed his seat. Hushed silence soon descended upon the chamber as the proceedings began.
"Bring in the accused," Kingsley ordered.
The Boy-Who-Lived mentally smirked when he saw Severus Snape being brought in. The power of the Elder Wand had proved to be useful in erasing the memories in Snape's mind of Harry being a Horcrux.
"Severus Tobias Snape, you have been brought before the Wizengamot for the murder of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, former Headmaster of Hogwarts and former Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. You are further accused of aiding the Dark Lord Voldemort during his reign by killing numerous innocents and torturing others. You have also been accused of leaking information about the prophecy which foretold the defeat of the Dark Lord at the hands of a boy that was to be born in July 1980. Your actions led to the deaths of James and Lily Potter and also the torture and permanent incapacitation of Frank and Alice Longbottom. You are –"
Pandemonium gripped the Wizengamot. The journalists were writing down the charges in excitement even though their dicta-quills were working. The Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot were in uproar, chief among them was Lady Augusta Longbottom. She couldn't believe that Snape, who Dumbledore had personally vouched for, was responsible for what had happened to her son and daughter-in-law. Harry calmly leaned back, crossed his legs and watched the spectacle with amusement shining in his green eyes.
Once the chamber was under control, Kingsley continued. "You are also accused of torturing and mind-raping your student, Harry Potter-Black, under the guise of Occlumency lessons two years ago. You are further accused of voluntarily giving Veritaserum to Dolores Umbridge when she wanted to illegally question students. How do you plead to all these charges?"
"Not guilty," said Snape monotonously, but one could observe that the man was deathly pale.
"So noted," said Kingsley. "Give him the serum."
Snape's eyes widened in panic; it had been twenty-four hours since he had taken the Veritaserum antidote. Without it, he would be forced to answer the Wizengamot's questions. Kingsley had ordered six drops, which would manage to severely wreck his Occlumency shields. He had not anticipated such a brutal tactic. The reason the serum wasn't used regularly was due to it being unsafe for the brain. He struggled, but it was futile and he quickly succumbed to its effects.
The interrogation was perfect. Snape admitted that he was a Death Eater and a supporter of Voldemort and had killed Dumbledore on the Dark Lord's orders. This was the problem with Veritaserum; they needed to ask precise questions, but since Snape did indeed kill Dumbledore on Voldemort's orders, he couldn't tell them that Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him. He also admitted to delivering the information about the prophecy to Voldemort and went to Hogwarts to spy on his master's orders. Finally, he revealed all the terrible deeds that he had committed during his role as Death Eater, including mind-raping Harry Potter-Black under the pretence of Occlumency lessons, also under the orders of Lord Voldemort.
"All those in favour of execution?" said Kingsley.
Harry raised his lit wand and the vote passed by a majority. Snape would be pushed through the Veil of Death that very evening. It wasn't the kiss, but then again, even a Dementor wouldn't want to kiss Snape, would it? Those foul beasts would all be destroyed soon using Fiendfyre; they were just too dangerous to be left free. Azkaban would no longer play host to the soul-sucking demons.
So much for Dumbledore's grand plan for the greater good where Snape was a hero.
Things were going well. If only a certain ginger would stop annoying him; the female one.
Harry stood still as he watched the funeral of Arthur Weasley. He had already cremated Remus and Tonks as per the traditions of his family, and here he was, at the Burrow, a week after the final battle, attending another funeral.
Mr Weasley had been a good man. He had graciously welcomed Harry into his home and provided food and comfort without asking for anything in return. He had even taken Harry to the Quidditch World Cup when there was no reason to do so. Harry had never been particularly close to the man, but he could sympathise with the Weasleys' sense of loss.
What was irritating was how Ginny would constantly stand next to him, trying to take his hand. When she tried for the third time, his eye began to twitch in annoyance. He wanted to let her know that there was nothing between them anymore. He didn't know why, but he just wasn't interested in Ginny. What had he seen in her? He had no idea. He actually found her to be … shallow.
As the ceremony continued, Harry couldn't help but let his mind wander. The adoption papers and birth certificate of Edmund Potter-Black had been submitted to the Ministry of Magic. Thanks to his influence, he didn't have to answer too many questions, and Kingsley aided him as well when Harry faced problems over Teddy's birth parents not being mentioned in the birth certificate, which instead, had his name listed as the father. Kingsley had told Harry that he was very proud of him for adopting Remus and Tonks' child, having stepped up and taken responsibility for the baby. The adoption hadn't been released to the press yet, but Harry wanted to talk to Luna about an interview. He was touched that the Lovegoods had been printing positive facts about him during the Voldemort regime, knowing how dangerous it was to do so.
He was snapped out of his musings when he felt someone grab his arm and pull him away from the family.
"Harry, we need to talk," Ginny said quietly, waving her wand around them to cast a silencing charm. "Why are you avoiding me?"
"Ginny, this is really not the time," Harry sighed tiredly.
"Then when is the time?" she shot back. "This is the first time I've gotten the chance to speak to you since the final battle! As your girlfriend, I think I have the right to be upset when my boyfriend refuses to spend time with me!"
"Hold on a second! Boyfriend?" asked Harry incredulously. "What gave you … okay, listen, Ginny. I have too many things going on right now. I have responsibilities that I need to fulfil, not to mention a baby to take care of. I'm not exactly looking for a relationship. I'm sorry, but we won't be getting back together."
"What?" she shouted angrily. "You can't just leave me like this! After Dumbledore died, I let you go because I knew you wouldn't rest until you killed You-Know-Who. That's what you've always wanted to do, and I understood that. But now, you suddenly –"
"No, Ginny," Harry interrupted. "Killing Voldemort was not what I always wanted to do. The responsibly of killing him was thrust upon my shoulders and I carried the burden unwillingly. All I've ever wanted was to be a regular, ordinary wizard. Not the Boy-Who-Lived."
"But you are the Boy-Who-Lived!" she cried. "Don't you dare break up with me, Harry Potter! Don't be an idiot. We're supposed to get married and have children and that's what we're going to do. I respected your wishes the last time, and now, you respect mine!"
Harry shook his head, scowling at her. "It's my life, Ginny," he shot back furiously. "And I'll decide who I want to spend my life with and when I wish to start a family. We are not getting back together and I'm not your boyfriend!"
Fuming, Harry marched towards the Apparition point beyond the wards surrounding the Burrow, not caring about how rude it was to simply leave without saying goodbye. Just as he was about to Disapparate, he saw Ron and Hermione running towards him.
"Oh, bloody hell," he muttered, rubbing his forehead with his fingers. "Kill me."
"Harry – mate – where have you been this past week?" Ron panted.
"We've been searching for you since the battle!" said Hermione furiously. "We sent owls, but not once did you choose to reply until yesterday! Do you know how worried we've been?"
Harry closed his eyes as he took in deep breaths. He flicked his wand and erected a silencing charm around them.
"Is that Dumbledore's wand?" asked Hermione sharply, her gaze fixed on the Elder Wand in Harry's hand.
"No, it's the wand of my ancestor."
Technically, it was true. According to the family tree that he had seen in one of the drawing rooms at Potter Manor, he was the descendant of Ignotus Peverell, and Kreacher had said that the Peverells were supposed to be the brothers of the tale.
"Then why are you using it? What happened to your wand?" asked Hermione, her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"I'm using it because I like it better than my old wand," said Harry through gritted teeth. What was this, an interrogation? It was quite unwelcome, as he wasn't in the mood to talk to them.
"Where have you been living for the past week, mate?" asked Ron, repeating his earlier question. "You didn't come to the Burrow. I mean, where else can you go?"
"I've been living at the Potter ancestral manor," said Harry stiffly. "Since I'm seventeen, I claimed my inheritance and was finally able to access my family's properties."
When he sensed Ron's jealousy rise up again, he interrupted, "Did you think everything was going to be rosy again after you two walked out on me?"
Ron and Hermione gaped at him.
"Harry, we tried to come back, we did, but," Hermione said uncertainly, "we couldn't find you."
"I'm glad you never found me. If you had, the war would have never ended. Didn't I tell you that hunting for the Horcruxes wouldn't be easy, Ron? What part of that didn't you understand? Was your stomach all you could think about? We were at war! Did you think Dumbledore told me everything and had given me a layout of all his plans? That manipulative old goat never prepared me for anything! I had to figure it out all on my own! I told you that there was a Horcrux at Hogwarts. You snubbed me. You insulted me. Both of you were constantly whispering behind my back. You thought I was such an idiot that I could never figure things out without you, didn't you Hermione?"
The two of them were stunned. "Harry –" Hermione began.
"I killed the snake in Godric's Hollow," said Harry, shutting her up. "I approached the goblins and sought their help in getting the cup. It was in Bellatrix's vault. The diadem was in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts. I destroyed the locket with the Killing Curse the day you both left. He really is dead. All his Horcruxes were destroyed. That's why I took a stand that night. I'm not a monster who engineers a battle with Voldemort and his Death Eaters purely for the fun of it! It was done so that we could finally defeat him once and for all! After knowing me for six years, you had gall to compare me to Voldemort?"
Harry had lost his composure by then and had started screaming. Hermione shot a filthy look at Ron. The redhead spluttered, unable to come up with anything to appease his friend.
"Harry," said Ron weakly. "I know it was wrong. But come on! My dad had just died, mate! You know I would never have said that if he had been alive! As for what happened in the tent, it was that bloody locket! It affected me more than you and Hermione!"
"And I didn't mean to Disapparate, Harry," Hermione said softly. "You know that."
Harry waited patiently for a minute, simply staring at them. "That's it?" he asked incredulously. "No apologies? Is 'sorry' an alien word to you?"
Ron's face and ears turned red. It was clear that his temper was rising. Hermione opened her mouth but Harry beat her to it.
"I forgave you after the first task of the Triwizard Tournament, even though you never apologised," he said angrily. "At the time, despite how awful you were to me, I could sympathise with your situation, so I let it go. But now? Abandoning me during a time of war, only because of your damn stomach? And then blaming me for your father's death and to top it off, accusing me of being the same as Voldemort? That, Ron, I can never forgive. I would have at least considered it if you seemed genuinely sorry, but the word doesn't even seem to come out of your mouth! Even now, you don't seem to realise the magnitude of your actions."
Ron glared back at him. He didn't utter a single word.
Harry turned towards his other best friend. Hermione had tears in her eyes and Harry could feel his vision being blurred by tears too.
"One month may not be a long time for a person to change, Hermione," he said quietly. "But to me, it definitely was. It changed me, and I don't think you'll accept me for who I am now. Thank you for everything, Hermione, but our friendship will never be the same again. I'm sorry."
Without another word, Harry Disapparated from the Burrow, leaving Hermione upset and Ron very angry. Ginny walked up to them a few minutes later and was furious to find out that Harry had left without reconciling with her. She thought giving him some space to cool off would be enough, but Harry had used that time to disappear again.
"Where did he run off to now?" asked Ginny angrily.
"He went to his manor," spat Ron. "Bloody git. He's acting like Malfoy."
Hermione was silent. There was more to the mystery than what Harry told her and Merlin be damn it, she was going to get to the bottom of it. She was also sure that if she gave Harry enough time to cool, things would settle down. The younger boy had an infamous temper, but she also knew that he was a very forgiving soul.
He would be back and their friendship would mend.
The Hogwarts Express shined brightly under the sunlight as people gathered on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Headmistress McGonagall had reconsidered her decision to cancel the second term, so the school reopened on the first of February. Various magical construction companies had worked efficiently, and the castle was finally repaired in a month's time thanks to the generous donation the school received from several witches and wizards across Magical Britain. People were talking excitedly as they boarded the train, the gloom that had been prevalent over the last two years having disappeared. The most notable name being mentioned in nearly every conversation was Harry Potter-Black.
Harry James Potter-Black, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One, the Man-Who-Won, the defeater of You-Know-Who, the holder of Order of Merlin, First Class, the Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble Clan of Potter-Black, was the hero of everyone around. He had given a personal interview which had appeared in the Quibbler in the second week of January. The young wizard had explained that he had disappeared underground during those months for a reason, and that it was only due to his mission being a success that he was able to defeat Lord Voldemort. He had also praised several people like Neville Longbottom, Minister Shakelebolt, Lee Jordan, and the Lovegoods who had stood up against the Death Eaters and protected the innocent.
In addition, the young Lord had donated quite a bit of money to Hogwarts and the Magical Orphanage, which sadly, had a large inflow of new orphans. Unknown to others, Harry, on the advice of Ragnok, had also invested in many businesses which were doing poorly because of the war. In time, they would grow into cash cows and Harry had quickly acted, making him reap the rewards in the future.
What was shocking, however, was that Harry Potter-Black had also adopted an orphan. The baby was just four months old, and it was said that Harry had already blood-adopted the child, who was named Edmund Potter-Black. It also came as a surprise to people when Harry announced that he was the blood-adopted son of the infamous Sirius Black. No one knew until recently that Sirius had been innocent; Fudge had buried the information after Voldemort had revealed himself to the world, not wanting to attract more problems for himself and the Ministry. It was quite satisfying when Cornelius Fudge himself was sent to Azkaban for corruption. The foolish man's incompetence was what helped Voldemort seize power so quickly.
Harry stepped out of the Floo with Neville Longbottom, the silver Head Boy badge gleaming on his chest. He had accepted the position when McGonagall offered it to him, only because he could get a separate suite. He couldn't raise Edmund in the Gryffindor dorm, after all.
"Ah, it is so nice to finally be rid of them," Neville said with relish.
Harry smiled and nodded. All the remaining Death Eaters, after being questioned, were given appropriate sentences. The inner circle Death Eaters, along with others who had committed horrible crimes, were all executed through the Veil. The others were given a sentence in Azkaban based on their crimes. Many were made to do community service to repair the damage caused. Harry had been very happy when Dolores Umbridge was executed, kicking and screaming. Draco Malfoy too was sent to Azkaban for the attempted murder of several people during his sixth year; the arrogant boy had nearly killed Katie Bell, Ronald Weasley and Professor Slughorn, not to mention smuggled a dozen Death Eaters into Hogwarts, resulting in several people being injured and Albus Dumbledore being killed. All those families had to pay a lot of money to the Ministry as compensation, so none of them had enough gold to bribe people.
Harry boarded the train and headed towards the prefects' compartment. Ron's badge had been given to Neville at the beginning of the year, much to the redhead's anger, so Neville was now a prefect. However, Hermione had still retained her badge. When he entered, Harry was surprised to see who the Head Girl was.
"Greengrass?" he asked in surprise.
Daphne looked up from her book and greeted him politely. "Hello, Potter. Or do you prefer Black?"
"Potter is fine," Harry said dismissively.
"Where's your son?"
Harry beamed with happiness. "He's with my house-elves. I didn't want to scare him by bringing him to the platform where he could be mobbed by strangers. He's only four months old, after all. He'll be brought here once the meeting is done."
Daphne smiled slightly and nodded. She was quite surprised when she was offered the position of Head Girl. After all, it was rare for non-prefects to be chosen for the position, but Professor McGonagall had explained that she was the highest-ranking student in their year, and that the only reason she was not chosen as prefect two years ago was due to Severus Snape's favouritism towards Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson. In addition, the headmistress had commented that Daphne's exemplary work during the first term, with her having helped save numerous first and second-year students from the Carrows' wrath by putting herself in harm's way, could not be forgotten. Daphne had been initially overwhelmed, but after a few more encouraging remarks, finally accepted the position.
Hermione Granger entered the compartment a minute later and glared at the Head Girl badge pinned to Daphne's uniform. How could she have not been made the Head Girl? She was the top student in their year, was she not? She had also fought against Voldemort. What had Greengrass done to deserve this? Nothing! The girl was a nobody! She hadn't contributed to the war effort while Hermione had been helping Harry with it for years! Granted, things didn't work out in the end, but she was sure that her contribution held more weight than someone like Greengrass!
Hermione also saw that Harry had been made Head Boy, and she couldn't help but feel a twinge of resentment and jealousy. How could Harry be the Head Boy while she wasn't chosen as Head Girl?!
That was not the only thing that bothered her. She was also angry at her friend for his recent behaviour. Harry had come to the Burrow to comfort Mrs Weasley a week after Arthur's funeral, but when the woman had demanded Harry stay at the Burrow, he had flatly refused, saying that he had to take care of his son. The fact that he had blood-adopted Remus and Tonks' child was quite a shock. She was disappointed in him for doing so, and for changing the boy's name. Sure, Teddy was Harry's godson, but that didn't give him the right to take away the child's identity! She had pointed out that Remus and Tonks would be disheartened to find out that their only child did not resemble them anymore, and that he would grow up without their chosen name, but it was futile. His stubbornness could easily rival hers, and it was legendary.
Ginny wasn't pleased with him adopting the child either, but Harry would hear none of it. Hermione could see that her friend was getting annoyed with Ginny's repeated attempts in trying to get back together. He had told the girl in no uncertain terms that he wasn't interested in continuing any sort of romantic relationship with her, and that had led to a heated argument, with Ginny and Molly yelling at him to fall in line. Harry's point was that they had only dated for about two weeks and he had realised after the war that he wasn't interested in her anymore. He had changed as a person, was his defence, and Ginny hadn't taken it well at all.
Changed … that was the same reason he had given her and Ron for breaking off their friendship.
Hermione huffed as she finished the meeting and left to find Ron and Ginny. Harry surely had changed because the Harry Potter she knew wouldn't be acting like this.
"Where's Harry?" asked Ginny without preamble once she entered the compartment.
"He's not coming," Hermione said bitterly as she sat down, folding her arms over her chest. "He's still in the prefects' compartment. The rest of them are all cooing over Teddy."
"He's bringing the child to school?"
"Well, considering that he's here, I can assume that Teddy will be with Harry the entire term."
"Why would he blood-adopt the child and change his name?" asked Ron, shaking his head in exasperation. "I mean, it's not his son! The way he acts –"
"It's like Teddy is his own, I know," frowned Hermione. "I can't believe Sirius adopted Harry. How is that possible, anyway? Are you sure it's legal? Blood rituals are illegal, aren't they?"
"Not the adoption ritual," Ginny huffed testily.
Harry released puffs of colourful smoke from the tip of his wand, making Teddy squeal in excitement as he tried to catch it. They were in the prefects' compartment, with several of his friends and classmates surrounding him.
"He's so adorable," gushed Hannah Abbott.
Harry smiled again as he watched his son look at the others in the room with big violet eyes. Teddy turned towards his father and his face crinkled. Soon, his hair turned jet black and his eyes bright emerald green – his natural appearance.
"Wow!" exclaimed Tracy Davis, the new Slytherin prefect. "He looks so much like you now! I wish I were a Metamorphmagus!"
"Don't we all?" chuckled Neville as he tickled the boy, making him giggle.
"He changes his hair colour to the most ridiculous colour that catches his fancy," Harry chuckled. "We play that game for hours on end and he seems to enjoy the attention."
Harry released a dark purple colour smoke ball. "Teddy, can you change your hair to this colour? Come on, mate, you can do it!" he encouraged, planting a kiss on his son's nose.
Teddy squealed in delight, his hair turning from black to purple.
The people all around applauded and cooed over his behaviour. Harry smiled as he hugged the boy closer. He was very happy with his decision in adopting Teddy as his son.
Daphne Greengrass smiled softly at the father-son duo. How she wished her mother or father had loved her like how Potter loved his son! But that was not to be, because life was cruel that way. Her stepmother, Ursula, had never liked her. In fact, she hated her step-daughter and went out of her way to treat Daphne badly, making the girl feel like a stranger in her own home. Her father, being the astute businessman and politician, didn't spend as much time with his two daughters as he should have. Truthfully, Daphne had never really known him. He had been virtually absent throughout her life, and the few times he did pay attention to his eldest daughter, he was strict and aloof. By the time she was eleven, Daphne had sunk so deep into her shell that she was too afraid to come out. She had been a loner throughout her life, but war tended to bring people far from their comfort zone. She had been unable to watch silently while the Carrow siblings tortured the young children at Hogwarts.
Detentions were the worst, where the older years were made to practice the Cruciatus Curses on the younger ones. Daphne had kept a keen eye on the students being given detention. There was a handy book in the school library that automatically updated every point loss and detention being given to a student and she made use of it judiciously. The junior Death Eaters who were eager to cast the torture curse on the younger students found themselves stunned and bound before they could reach their destination. That way, the first-years were not harmed. Those whom she could not save, she brought them to Madam Pomfrey so that they could be healed.
Daphne even came up with an ingenious plan six weeks into the first term. She anonymously purchased a large batch of Polyjuice Potion from the black market and used it to impersonate the first years during detention. No eleven-year-old deserved to be cast under the Cruciatus Curse just because they had a Muggle-born in the family. The students had been reduced to tears at her actions, but she managed to extract their silence. If word ever got out about what she was doing, then things would get ugly, very fast.
Unfortunately, a month before the final battle, she had been caught by Alecto Carrow. Needless to say, her punishment had not been pretty. But that did nothing to deter her from protecting the younger years.
The reason Daphne was so protective of the first and second-year students was due to her own history, having been bullied by Parkinson and her cronies when she had been a first year. Ursula, her stepmother, had refused to teach her any magic before Hogwarts, so when she was sorted into Slytherin, it was a dangerous place for her, as all the first years in Slytherin knew several hexes and jinxes even before their first Charms or Defence class. It was expected. No pureblood parent would send their child to a boarding school without teaching them at least a few useful spells.
Needless to say, her first and second years had been an absolute nightmare. Worse, she had no one to confide in. Her father was busy and the less she said about her stepmother, the better.
It was during this time that she became close to Madam Pomfrey. With so many hexes and jinxes cast on her by her dormmates, she needed treatment. The Hogwarts healer had been worried about her, but Daphne had been tight-lipped, not revealing anything about the bullying. She knew that if she said anything, it would only get worse as she had practically no support from her parents or teachers. Snape clearly favoured Parkinson.
However, Madam Pomfrey had guessed what had happened, and in Daphne's second year, during the Chamber of Secrets fiasco, she had pulled the girl into the hospital wing, practically forcing an apprenticeship down her throat in order to teach her various healing spells and counter-curses. With the constant attention of the matron, Daphne improved and blossomed. She was still a loner, but was finally able to defend herself from her tormentors.
After an ugly confrontation on the first day back to school during her third year, Pansy Parkinson understood that her favourite target wasn't so easy to bully anymore. Daphne had bested her in a duel and humiliated her in front of all the other Slytherins in the common room and the bullying stopped immediately. They finally left her alone.
She had continued her apprenticeship under Madam Pomfrey until her seventh year: the year where she saw, much to her horror, eleven and twelve-year-old children being placed under the Cruciatus Curse. She remembered how it was to be tortured at that age, and had been unable to watch silently. She recalled all the help Madam Pomfrey had given her, and this time, the roles were reversed. Determined to help those who were being picked on by the Death Eaters, Daphne had come out of her shell and taken a stand, only for her father to be tortured and killed for her actions.
It was only a matter of time before her stepmother and Astoria made her leave Greengrass Manor permanently. Daphne was surprised that they hadn't done so already. Astoria had been contracted to marry Draco Malfoy, but he was in prison for the next five years, something she knew her half-sister was quite pissed about, and hated Harry Potter for it. The younger Greengrass' relationship with Malfoy had been going well, except the foolish little girl didn't know that Malfoy was trying to force Daphne to have sex with him the whole time. Even the blond ponce could see that Daphne was far more beautiful than Astoria, and he probably thought that the quiet girl would be easy to seduce. How wrong he had been! At least without all those morons in the Slytherin common room, it would hopefully be a good term.
But she wouldn't be living with the Slytherins. She would be living with Harry Potter in the Head Boy/Girl's suite. She wondered how the situation would play out, as she was not an easy person to get along with. She hoped they wouldn't come to blows. Harry was a very powerful wizard, magically and politically, and at the moment, she had nothing.
"Hey, does anyone know whose Patronus that dragon was?" asked Ernie suddenly. "That thing was huge!"
"Yeah, I was thinking about that too," frowned Padma. "I've never actually seen a dragon Patronus before!"
Harry chuckled to himself as he whispered, "Expecto Patronum!"
People gasped as the silver Hungarian Horntail Patronus burst from the tip of the Elder Wand. It wasn't as large as before, but it was still pretty impressive.
"It was you?" cried Neville.
"I thought your Patronus was a stag, Harry," said Luna, looking confused.
Harry shrugged. "It changed, apparently. That was the first time I cast it with the dragon form. I'd used it just hours before in Hogsmeade and it was a stag then, but when I cast it again during the battle, it was a Horntail; not sure why it happened, though."
That caused people to whisper excitedly as they wondered what would cause a Patronus to change its form. Edmund was petting the Patronus on its snout and laughing in excitement. The final year at Hogwarts was going to be brilliant; Harry was sure of it.
Harry entered the Head's suite after the feast, with mixed emotions. While the deaths had not seemed to affect him then, he was wrong when he thought they wouldn't affect him now. So many people had died … when he looked at the House tables, it was a testament to how deadly the war had really been. The victory was costly for the country, all because of foolish old men like Voldemort and Dumbledore.
He sighed as he put Edmund in his crib after rocking him to sleep. Not able to fall asleep himself, he returned to the common room and sat by the fireplace. He had been lost in thought until he heard a female voice.
"Potter? What are you doing here? It's nearly midnight," said Daphne in surprise.
Harry turned and saw Daphne walking towards him. The first thing he noticed was that she was incredibly beautiful. She was dressed in a thin nightgown which highlighted her breasts and curves very well. She was about five feet nine inches in height and had long, wavy raven-black hair that framed her face. Her features were delicate, with heavy-lidded eyes and soft pink lips, and her hair was falling elegantly over the front of her shoulders. Her deep blue eyes were concerned at the moment, and she looked like Aphrodite herself as she sat down opposite to him.
"Potter, are you okay?"
"Huh?" said Harry as he snapped out of his daze. He blushed when he realised that he had been staring at her and quickly stammered an apology. "I'm fine, thanks. Call me Harry. We'll be living here for the next six months. I hope we can move past the last name business."
Daphne thought for a few seconds and nodded slowly. "That sounds reasonable. You may call me Daphne. So again, what are you doing here at this time? Hungry, are you?"
"No," he replied softly. "Coming back here reminded me of the people who died during the battle. I just couldn't go to sleep."
Daphne remained silent, not knowing what to say.
"I wonder if I could have avoided the Battle of Hogwarts. Maybe if I had done things differently, I could have saved needless people from dying. If I had not asked Neville to call for reinforcements; had I not asked McGonagall to make a stand against Voldemort that night, would it have been different?"
By this time, Harry felt like he was talking to himself and Daphne was intently listening to him. He was unconsciously muttering while staring at the fire.
"Am I to blame for what happened? But how am I at fault? Voldemort would have killed everybody whether or not I had been involved. If his attacks on the Muggles had continued, it would have only been a matter of time before we were exposed. And Merlin knows that would have easily destroyed our society, with endless war and destruction. Those bloody fools; didn't they realise they were essentially destroying themselves? A pureblood order is not established by killing purebloods themselves! It makes no sense!"
"But if I had taken the battle away from Hogwarts, would I have been able to kill him?" Harry exhaled and shook his head. "No, I don't think so. I was no match for his skill. I only had superior power at my disposal, not magical skill. But that wouldn't have stopped the Death Eaters or the Ministry, right? His support was from his Death Eaters primarily, which was why I asked for reinforcements. But did I force people to fight? I told them to use lethal curses. All are these deaths really my fault?"
"Stop," Daphne interrupted him and Harry jumped, not realising that she was still there.
"The battle was not your fault, Harry," Daphne said quietly. "You weren't here; you don't know how terrible it was, especially during detentions. The Carrows showed no mercy at all and it was infinitely worse in the Slytherin dorms. The junior Death Eaters were all forcing themselves on other girls. It made me sick! I stood up to them and they didn't like that. When I was caught protecting the first and second-year students by impersonating them during detentions with the use of Polyjuice Potion, they tortured me endlessly."
"Really?" Harry exclaimed in surprise. "You did that?"
Daphne signed. "Not the point. But the torture itself wasn't the only bad thing happening at Hogwarts. Malfoy kept trying to force me to sleep with him. I kicked him in the balls and after the Polyjuice incident, they decided that I needed to be taught a lesson."
Harry swallowed. "What did they do?" he asked, dreading the answer. Neville had told him about Alecto and Amycus Carrow, and he knew in his gut that this story was going to end badly.
"They went after my father," Daphne murmured in the same quiet voice. "They tortured him badly and he died a month later. My stepmother agreed with the Dark Lord's goals, so they spared her."
She looked uncomfortable with the admiring look that Harry gave her and the boy immediately averted his gaze, blushing slightly. Taking a deep breath, Daphne continued.
"I didn't tell you this story to make you see me as a good person or to answer your silent question as to why McGonagall gave me the Head Girl position. I'm telling you this because it's the truth. You took a stand when no one else did. Yes, many people died during the battle, but I believe it would have been much worse had we not fought. That battle wasn't only about you. It was a fight of freedom for us all. All of us suffered because of the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters, so don't blame yourself. Sorry for being candid, but it is pretty arrogant if you think the whole battle was about you. It wasn't."
Harry smiled softly. The battle wasn't about him. Yes, she was right, but that didn't make it any easier to accept; survivor's guilt.
"I'm sorry about your father. What happened to your mother, if you don't mind my asking?"
"My mother died due to unforeseen complications during my birth. It's no secret because until then, it was unheard of for a mother to die during childbirth in the magical world. It caused quite a stir back then, I'm told. My father remarried soon after and had Astoria, who is my half-sister."
Harry nodded. They sat in silence for a long time, both of them contemplating the conversation they had with each other. Suddenly, a child's wail pierced the silence as Edmund started crying again. Harry got up and headed to his room and gently gathered the infant in his arms.
"What's wrong, Teddy?" asked Harry in a soothing voice as he brought the baby to the common room. "You can't be hungry and you have the diaper on. Can't go to sleep?"
Edmund didn't understand what was being said, but he continued to cry. Harry sighed tiredly as he walked around the common room, pointing at various things to distract the boy. Daphne joined him a couple of minutes later, conjuring several fluffy animals to amuse the toddler. After nearly half an hour of running around and playing with the creatures, Edmund finally went to sleep, sucking on his thumb. Harry gently removed the finger from the child's mouth and placed the young boy in his crib.
"I'm really impressed, Harry," Daphne smiled faintly when he returned to the common room. She had already vanished the animals. "Not many seventeen-year-olds would be so caring towards a baby."
"I could say the same for you," Harry grinned at her. "I didn't even think of conjuring animals to distract him! It's a brilliant idea!"
Daphne reddened at the praise and immediately bent her head to stare at her feet.
Harry bit his lip awkwardly. "Anyway, thanks," he muttered.
She nodded, having regained control of her emotions. Hesitantly, she asked, "May I ask a question?"
"What made you adopt him? Who are his parents?"
"I'm sorry, Daphne, but I can't answer that," Harry said apologetically. "It's private. But what I can tell you is that he was orphan. He was my responsibility anyway, so I decided to blood-adopt him instead of being a regular guardian. I didn't want him to go through what I did as a child."
Realising that he had blurted out about his childhood to a stranger, Harry immediately wished her a good night and dashed to his room and shut the door, his face scarlet.
Daphne looked at Harry in surprise. The boy had probably revealed more than he wanted to. Her mind was buzzing as she went to bed. Harry Potter-Black was an enigma to her. Malfoy and Snape had clearly lied about him. The Harry Potter she had just spoken to was not a brash, arrogant idiot. He was a soft-spoken and kind-hearted boy. She wondered what other surprises he had in store.
The months passed by quickly. Since it was an intensive course of six months, the classes were crammed together. There was no Quidditch either, something which made Ron complain about constantly. They all had to work on their N.E.W.T.s which were just a few months away.
Harry also took his job as Head Boy seriously. He, with the help of Daphne, revamped how the student body operated so that there were minimum disputes. He also did his best to not be biased while enforcing the rules or awarding punishments. Some of the blood purists who remained in the school soon realised that they would be punished severely if they spouted Voldemort's propaganda. The war had cost them all too much and Harry wasn't willing to let the disease fester. It was going to stop here and now. He also spent a lot of his free time with Teddy, who was taken care of by his house-elves when he wasn't around, something which Hermione Granger found out much later.
Many heads in the Gryffindor Common Room turned towards Hermione as she shouted at Harry, who looked annoyed.
"You made house-elves bond with you?" screamed Hermione. "How could you, Harry? It's slavery! I can't believe you condone slave labour! You –"
"Enough, Hermione," snapped Harry. "I've not ill-treated any of them. Dobby informed me why they needed to bond, and had I known that before, I would never have signed up for your campaign for their freedom. Do you know that elves need to bond with wizards in order to live? Without the bond, they die a horrible, painful death. They bond with witches and wizards so that they can use our magic to live and reproduce. In return, they cook, clean and take care of the children. In its truest form, the relationship between us is supposed to be of mutual aid, not slavery. It's not my fault that there are bastards out there like Lucius Malfoy who abuse their elves. The house-elves I bonded to were near death and only my magical transfer saved them. They remain with me because they want to do so, not because I force them to. I will not coerce them to accept clothes! I'm not a tyrant. It is their lives and their decision if they want to work for me. Yes, my elves are bonded to me and they are happy and there is nothing more I wish to say on the matter."
That incident made the gossip vine of Hogwarts run overtime as many wondered what happened to the so-called golden trio that drove a wedge between Harry and the other two. Ron and Hermione had started dating but Harry always claimed that he had no knowledge of the subject.
Harry had fought publicly with his ex-girlfriend as well. Despite their arguments at the Burrow, Ginny still thought she was entitled to Harry since they had dated the previous year, and that it was only a matter of time before they got back together. She had threatened many girls who were eyeing Harry, even though the boy was not interested in any of them. Finally, Harry, not being able to stand her behaviour anymore, had publicly lashed out at Ginny, saying that her love potions wouldn't work and that she should just give up. The redhead had turned white as a sheet at the accusation and when she tried to slap Harry, she was hit by a Stunning Spell by Daphne. That was the last time Harry ever spoke to Ginny.
But Harry wasn't interested in Ginny. Over the past several months, he had grown to like someone else ... someone with whom he was spending a lot of time with: the Head Girl, Daphne Greengrass. She was intelligent, beautiful, passionate, and actually took care of his son when he wasn't around. They also had similar backgrounds and interests that helped them form a strong bond of friendship.
They bonded over being orphans and their horrible childhoods. Never had Harry opened up to anyone about his life at the Dursleys, not even Ron and Hermione, but he had revealed it all to Daphne, who in turn told him about her experiences with her father, stepmother and Pansy Parkinson.
Best of all, Teddy had grown to adore Daphne. Harry found himself caring for her more and more but he was too scared to openly admit it. They had acknowledged each other as the other's best friend and Harry didn't want to do anything to spoil their wonderful friendship. As the days passed, he couldn't help but wonder if she would be interested in him, but not once could he muster the courage to confess his feelings to her. He still had self-confidence issues when it came to girls, even though almost all the girls in school openly fancied him.
July finally arrived and it was time for the N.E.W.T.s. Harry had chosen Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration. He no longer had the ambition to become an Auror. Instead, he had decided to take up his family seats on the Wizengamot. He wanted to help reshape the British magical world into a place worth living in. A place where Dark Lords could never gain power again. A place where all would be treated equally, and where magic thrived and blossomed.
In the past five months, Daphne had explained to him about how the magical world truly worked and how it was like to be born and raised as a witch or wizard. Knowing what he did now, Harry felt he was ready to take an active role in politics.
Harry groaned as he finished his final N.E.W.T. practical. While it had only been five papers, it was still bad. He was thankful for his Occlumency skills which he had acquired during the Horcrux extraction ritual because it was a boon during his written exams. The practical exams went smoothly, and he was confident that he could score an Outstanding in Charms, Defence, and Transfiguration, and he felt he had done reasonably well in Potions and Herbology as well. The last exam had been Potions, and it had been brutal. After the practical was done, Harry decided to head to his suite, intending to take a hot bath.
Just as he entered, he heard Teddy crying again. Wanting to soothe his young son, he rushed to his room, only to stop at the door. His eyes widened when he saw the spectacle in front of him.
"Shh, calm down Teddy," whispered Daphne as she gently rocked him, his face buried in the nape of her neck. Her hand kept rubbing his back soothingly. She frowned and Harry knew why that was. Teddy was always more well-behaved when Daphne was around. He didn't know if his best friend knew it, but Harry had known for quite some time now that Teddy adored Daphne. He was worried how his son would deal with not having the girl around him every day. What then?
"What is it, little guy?" Daphne whispered, bringing Harry out of his musings. "Do you want me to get Daddy?"
Teddy still cried heartbreakingly as he clutched Daphne's hair. "MAMA!" he wailed, his large green eyes filled with despair. "MAMA, no go!"
Harry stiffened. How could the toddler know that their time at Hogwarts was finished? That they would be leaving in a few days? Surely Teddy hadn't come to that conclusion simply by watching Harry pack, right? His son was less than a year old! How was that possible?!
Daphne felt tears sting her eyes as she hugged the nine-month-old baby to her chest. She had grown very attached to the boy over the past several months and she wondered if she would ever see him again.
Add to that, she had started developing feelings for Harry as well. How could she not develop feelings for Harry? They both had so much in common and had grown closer after spending a lot of time together. They were now close enough to verbally acknowledge each other as the other's best friend! He was also intelligent, handsome, kind, considerate and loving. She recalled all the times they had spent together alone in the common room, talking to each other as they played with Teddy and later fed him and rocked him to sleep. They had spoken to the other about their lives, families, experiences; she couldn't explain it, but she knew that she had fallen in love with him. But she was also not brave enough to tell him about it. She didn't know if he would return her feelings.
He was the Boy-Who-Lived! The Chosen One! The defeater of Lord Voldemort! He had girls following him all the time! Best friends or not, she wasn't even confident that he would keep in touch with her after school ended, so where was the question about being in a relationship with him? Why would he want to choose her, of all people, when he could have the pick of the litter?
"I'm going to miss you so much, Teddy," Daphne said softly, placing soft kisses on his face, not realising that tears were streaming down her cheeks too. "I don't know if I will ever see you again."
Teddy cried harder at that as he hugged her and screamed, "Mama! No go!"
She turned around in surprise, only to find Harry standing at the doorway, watching her. Daphne blushed deeply. She wiped her tears quickly as she stammered, "Sorry, Harry. He was crying and –"
"Hey, you have nothing to apologise for," Harry murmured soothingly. "Here, let me help."
He took Teddy from her, but the boy kept looking at Daphne, pointing his tiny hand at her as he screamed, "Mama! Mama! Dada! Mama! No go! Mama!"
Harry's heart skipped a beat as he realised what had happened. Daphne was the only girl who spent so much time with Teddy. Like Harry, she too fed him, changed him, played with him, and rocked him to sleep. She also laughed with him and spoke to him, practically the only motherly influence in his life since Tonks had died. He knew that Teddy adored her, but never had he realised that it was to this extent, that he had latched on to her and had come to regard her as his mother.
Harry fought back tears as he whispered, "Teddy, Mummy and Daddy are not going anywhere. We'll be right here, okay? Please don't cry, Teddy. Calm down. Look, Mummy's here," he said, pointing at Daphne. "And Daddy is here too. We're not going anywhere, all right?"
After several minutes of reassuring the baby that they were not leaving him, they quietly stepped out of Harry's room once the toddler was asleep. Daphne still had tears in her eyes as Teddy's calls for her echoed in her mind.
"I – I guess it's only natural that he sees you as his mother," Harry fidgeted. "I hope you weren't offended by it, Daphne."
"No, it's fine Harry," said Daphne softly. "I don't mind at all. I was honoured when Teddy called me that. In fact –"
She wanted to say that she had grown very attached to the boy too, but couldn't muster up the courage. After all, Harry was the boy's father. Who was she to claim the mother's spot when she and Harry weren't even together? It wasn't fair to either Teddy or Harry.
She looked up and stared into his emerald green eyes. Harry looked into her deep blue eyes, multiple emotions swirling in them. Teddy had called him 'Dada' before, but this was the first time he had called Daphne 'Mama'. Something had changed between them; both of them could feel it.
They didn't know how long they stood there, staring at each other, each gathering the courage to say something but failing miserably. The breeze from the window blew inside, making several strands of Daphne's dark hair fall over her face. Harry tentatively reached up and tucked the strands of hair carefully behind her ear. Now that he had touched her skin, he couldn't stop it. He ran his finger up and down the side of her face. He realised that her skin was so soft. She looked so beautiful and so perfect.
Daphne's breath was caught in her throat as she felt Harry's fingers caress her cheek. This wasn't a dream, was it? She could see the longing in his eyes. Tentatively, she leaned forward, very slightly, mustering all her courage in the process. Taking it as a positive sign, Harry too leaned forward; his fingers trembled as he delicately cupped her cheek. For nearly half a minute, they simply stared at each other as he ever so slightly leaned forward. Harry's thumb moved, gently caressing her cheek. Daphne reached out and took his other hand in hers. She could feel his breath on her face. She closed her eyes in anticipation.
Their lips touched briefly; once, twice, thrice . . .
It was slow and tentative when their lips met, but they didn't break it. Harry let go of her hand and grabbed her by the waist. Daphne slowly sneaked her arms around his neck as she hugged him tightly. Both of them involuntarily smiled into the kiss as they realised that the other truly did have feelings for them. When they broke apart, they were panting; Harry leaned his forehead against hers and grinned. He hadn't been this happy in a long time.
"This better not be a dream again, Daphne, because I would throw a fit if I were to wake up and find that it wasn't real," whispered Harry as he gently kissed her eyes.
Daphne smiled as she captured his lips again. "This is real, Harry," she assured him as they continued to kiss passionately. It started out slow again, but soon, Daphne moaned as she opened her lips, allowing Harry's tongue to probe her mouth. The two of them were too caught up to realise that they were moving inside Daphne's bedroom.
Harry grabbed her waist and pushed her against himself as he trailed kissed down her jaw and neck, eliciting a moan of pleasure from Daphne. He squeezed her arse, making her squeak and he immediately froze, looking unsure. Daphne immediately took control as she kissed him back, running her fingers through his hair. When her legs hit the bed, they fell against the mattress, with Harry on top of her. They kissed passionately for several minutes, neither wanting to move.
Finally, Harry broke the kiss and looked at her. Feeling a bit uncertain, he whispered, "Do you want to take this further?"
Daphne groaned. "Dear Merlin, yes!" she gasped.
Grinning again, Harry bent down to kiss her, before moving his attention to her ear, tugging at her lobe with his teeth gently. That elicited a loud moan from Daphne who was in the process of unbuttoning his shirt. A minute of awkward fumbling later, Harry was shirtless, with her warm hands exploring the hard muscles of his upper body.
Not wanting to let her remain dressed, Harry kissed his way down her neck. He unbuttoned her shirt but when he saw that she had a bra on, he stopped. He wasn't sure how to remove it, but thankfully, Daphne began doing it herself.
Seeing a girl's bare breasts for the first time was definitely a memory that was etched in Harry's mind forever. He stared at the beautiful girl beneath him, his lips parted in awe. Gently cupping her lush breasts, he felt them beneath his fingers and squeezed them tentatively. Judging by the sounds Daphne was making, he took it as a good sign and leaned down to kiss and fondle them.
It wasn't long before Daphne was panting and Harry was sucking her nipples quite enthusiastically, humping the bed to relieve the tension in his trousers. When he let go of the nipple with a loud, wet, pop, Daphne groaned and he took that opportunity to tug at her panties which soon landed on the floor.
"You're so beautiful," Harry whispered when her vagina was fully exposed to him.
Daphne reddened but before he could touch her, she pushed him on his back and straddled him. Unbuttoning and unzipping his trousers, she yanked them down along with his underwear, revealing his thick cock to her, the tip glistening with his arousal. Her eyes widened as she stared with wonder.
"I've never seen a naked boy before," she breathed out, carefully wrapping her fist around his shaft and giving it a few experimental strokes.
"You've never done it before either?" asked Harry in surprise.
"What do you mean?" asked Daphne, her sharp gaze immediately darting to his face in astonishment. "You mean this is your first time?"
"Yes," Harry answered, somewhat shyly. "I've never been comfortable with anyone else to go this far. In fact, you're the first girl I've kissed in a year."
Daphne was slack-jawed. The Boy-Who-Lived, who literally had dozens of girls willing to sleep with him at a moment's notice, had never had sex before?
Harry simply nodded. "Yeah," he answered truthfully.
"What about Ginny Weasley?"
Harry groaned. "Can we not spoil the moment by talking about her? She gave me love potions. I'd suspected it, but that confrontation the last time confirmed it for me."
"Well then, this is quite perfect!" teased Daphne, grinning broadly. "Who would have ever guessed that I'd be the one to take Harry Potter's innocence?"
Smacking her arse playfully, he shot back, "Who knew I'd be the one to melt the Ice Queen's heart?"
Laughing, she leaned down and kissed him lovingly. Harry kicked his trousers off the bed and summoned his wand, intending to cast the Contraceptive Charm. Once it was done, Daphne pounced on him again, kissing him like her life depended on it.
The afternoon was spent basking in the glow of their new relationship as they made love to each other for the first time.
It was one of the most memorable experiences of their young lives.
A few hours later, Daphne woke up and moaned softly when she felt Harry nibbling on her sensitive earlobe.
"Hello, beautiful," he whispered, moving lower to trail kisses along her neck and shoulder. "Nice of you to come back to the land of the living!"
Smiling with contentment, Daphne buried her face in his chest. "I like it here," came her muffled voice. "It's very comfortable."
Harry chuckled. Daphne quickly captured his lips and gave him a passionate kiss. After they separated, she cupped his face, gently brushing her thumb over his cheek adoringly.
"I think I'm falling in love with you, Harry," she confessed.
He started at her, eyes wide, looking overwhelmed. Did she just say that?
Daphne swallowed, feeling anxious. Had she been too forward? Curse the fates, she had ruined it! Her stomach began doing backflips and just when she thought she was going to be sick with worry, she saw Harry's eyes pool with tears.
"No one has ever told me that they love me before," Harry whispered in a choked voice. "My parents don't count as I don't remember them, but no one that I can remember has told me that they love me. Thank you."
"No thanks needed," Daphne murmured, finally relaxing. She placed a quick kiss to his chin and continued, "I was only stating the truth. I do love you, Harry. I love you very much."
Harry gently nuzzled her face against his as they cuddled, a lone tear sliding down his face. His lover kissed the tear away and before he knew it, she was kissing him again, this time soft and with full of love and adoration.
Just when things began heating up, the alert charm went off.
"Blast it," Harry cursed, as he got up with a groan and walked out of the room. Daphne chuckled as she searched for something to wear. Finding Harry's shirt, she summoned it and tried it on. She felt nice wearing it and decided to check on the boys in the next room.
When she entered, Harry had just finished changing another diaper and was rubbing Teddy's back gently. She giggled in amusement as she glided towards her boyfriend and smacked his bare arse.
"Go cover yourself, lover boy," teased Daphne. "You're not the baby here."
Harry pouted, making Daphne laugh. "Did you hear that, Teddy?" he complained, intentionally making his tone whiny to amuse their son. "Mummy thinks I'm the baby here, but we all know who the baby really is, don't we?"
Teddy laughed as he grabbed a fist full of his parents' hair in each of his little hands.
"MAMA! DADA!" he screamed happily.
"Yes," whispered Harry, beaming at Daphne. "We are your Mummy and Daddy."
Daphne smiled when he wrapped his arms around her. She snuggled into the embrace, resting her head on his chest. Harry gently placed a kiss on her forehead as the three of them enjoyed the moment as a family.
"I love you too, Daphne."
Harry and Daphne started dating from that day in July. Since school had almost ended, they didn't announce their relationship to anyone. Once they returned home a few days later, Ursula, Daphne's stepmother, indeed tried to make things miserable for her by attempting to force her into a marriage with someone who was three times her age.
Now an adult and more confident in herself, Daphne outright ignored her stepmother, knowing that the woman couldn't force her to do anything, let alone get married to the groom of her choice. Instead, Daphne had packed all her belongings and simply moved into Potter Manor the very next day, not wanting to live with Ursula or Astoria anymore. Of course, Ursula Greengrass didn't know where Daphne had moved into. Had she known, she would have done everything possible to lock Daphne up in Greengrass Manor, as Ursula utterly despised Harry Potter-Black for his role in Draco Malfoy's imprisonment and the poor state of the Malfoy fortune, thanks to the Ministry's heavy sanctions. Her precious daughter Astoria's life lay in ruins thanks to the actions of the Boy-Who-Lived.
After six months of living together, Harry had proposed to Daphne who happily accepted. To announce their engagement to everyone, they had given a small interview to Luna who had published the article in the Quibbler. The entire country was taken by surprise because none of them had expected the former Head Boy and Head Girl of Hogwarts to be a couple. Many were happy for them, but some were not, especially two people named Ronald and Ginevra Weasley.
Ron had ranted for hours about how Harry had betrayed them all by consorting with a slimy Slytherin, while Ginny had been furious at how the Slytherin bitch had taken her future husband away from her. Molly Weasley too was upset and had sent Harry a howler expressing her anger and disappointment about how he had 'cheated' on Ginny. Unfortunately for Molly, there were anti-howler wards around Potter Manor, making the owl return to the Burrow without delivering the letter. Her kitchen was destroyed due to the resultant explosion.
Ursula and Astoria Greengrass had thrown a fit when they realised that Daphne was getting married to Harry Potter-Black. Because of the nature of the contract that Ursula and the Malfoys had created for Astoria and Draco, the girl couldn't marry anyone else, forcing her to wait for her betrothed to be released from prison. Unfortunately, when Draco did get released from Azkaban after five years, the Malfoy vault at Gringotts contained so little gold that the goblins deemed it more profitable to draw up the account closing papers instead. Draco had not taken Azkaban well and his eyes and body reflected it. Unfortunately, even though the Dementors had been destroyed, the effects on the prison remained. The blond had been declared impotent years later, and the Malfoy line died with Draco and Astoria.
Harry and Daphne had gotten married on a beautiful winter morning on the grounds of Potter Manor. They had a simple wedding, inviting only their friends and well-wishers. Even though his friendship with Ron and Ginny had fallen apart, Harry was still on excellent terms with Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Fred and George Weasley. He had invited his old Quidditch teammates, D.A. members, some of the members of the Order of the Phoenix, and all the Hogwarts teachers. Teddy hadn't really understood what was going on, but he enjoyed the ceremony nonetheless, squealing with excitement when his parents bonded with the blessings of Mother Magic.
After graduating from Hogwarts, Harry immediately took his place on the Wizengamot while pursuing a higher education in Magical Law at the same time. Wanting to make a difference in the world, and due to the lack of good and honest politicians, Daphne had changed her mind about her career. She no longer wished to become a Healer, but instead, she joined her husband on the Wizengamot using the Greengrass Lordship that she had inherited from her father.
The couple soon began making progress. They were known for their powerful presence and many of the discriminating laws against Muggle-borns and magical creatures were removed. The relations between the Ministry of Magic and the Goblin Nation were at an all-time high due to the efforts of Harry and Daphne Potter-Black. Thanks to Harry's popularity, he was barely twenty-three years old when he was made the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.
A couple of months after they got married, Daphne realised that she was pregnant. Nine months later, she gave birth to twins. The eldest was a baby boy who they named James Sirius Potter-Black, after his grandfathers. The youngest was a girl, who was named Lily Elizabeth Potter-Black, after Harry and Daphne's mothers. Five years after the twins were born, Harry and Daphne decided that any plans of having more children would be discarded immediately. Teddy, Jamie and Lily had all inherited their grandfathers' penchant for mischief and the couple had more than enough on their plates with the three boisterous children. Having been denied a good childhood, both Harry and Daphne made a conscious effort to raise their children well, showering them with love and affection and yet being strict when necessary. All three grew up to be revolutionary witches and wizards in their respective fields of profession, and ever better people.
When Edmund was ten years old, Harry did tell the boy about his birth parents. Surprisingly, he took it rather well. He had asked them the standard questions, for which Harry told him everything he knew about Remus and Tonks. Edmund had later hugged the couple and told them that adopted or not, Harry and Daphne would forever be his true parents, and no one could claim otherwise. They had been touched and reduced to tears at their son's confession.
Ron and Hermione had gotten married to each other, but even though they managed to make do due to their friendship, their marriage had not been the best. Hermione had realised a little too late that she was just not compatible with Ron to be involved in a long-term romantic relationship with him. She completed her Master's degree in Potion-making and built a career out of brewing potions for St Mungo's Hospital. Ron, after much reluctance, had taken a job at the Ministry, employed by the Department of Magical Maintenance. They had one daughter named Rose.
Fred and George had married their long-time girlfriends Angelina and Alicia respectively. McGonagall had retired after the last of their children had left Hogwarts, saying that she couldn't handle the chaos anymore. She was sent a large gift basket by the twins, full of her favourite goodies, thanking her for putting up with their children who were much worse than Fred and George had been at Hogwarts during their time.
Ginny tried to make it work at professional Quidditch and had been a popular player for the Holyhead Harpies. She tried to connect with several guys, but none of her relationships lasted long. She died alone in her mother's house, forever cursing Daphne's name.
Having been told the story of her husband's childhood, a vengeful Daphne eventually tracked down Vernon, Petunia and Dudley Dursley a few years after the final battle. The three of them had no idea that Harry's wife had found them and Daphne was quite content in letting them live in ignorance. She cooked up several delicious schemes for them over the years. The Dursleys suffered extensively as Vernon lost his job after several incidents of anger issues and accusations of embezzlement of funds. They defaulted on their mortgages and the banks were not merciful. They also lost their house and somehow, the people in Privet Drive realised that they had been lied to about Harry Potter who had lived there several years ago. Petunia couldn't show her face in public after Harry made a charitable contribution to a Muggle orphanage, his face appearing on national television and in the newspapers. Dudley was arrested for using and selling illegal drugs, and after several years of punishment, Vernon died of a heart-attack while Petunia died in bitterness and misery.
Harry also wrote an autobiography which detailed his life from the time he was abandoned at the Dursleys to his current life as Chief Warlock. The book was a best seller, not only in Magical Britain, but all over the world.
When Kingsley retired, Harry took over as Minister of Magic, having been voted in by an enormous margin, both by the public as well as the Wizengamot. Daphne stepped up to his previous position of Chief Warlock. Together, the couple was responsible for the development, and later protection, of the international magical world when new threats emerged.
At the end of their lives, Harry and Daphne Potter-Black were hero-worshipped throughout the international magical community for all that they had done, and they died peacefully in each other's arms at the age of two hundred and eleven, having served as the first and longest standing Supreme Chancellor and Chief Justice of the newly formed International Magical Republic.
Author's Note: I have always wanted to write a fanfic that was relatively canon compliant until Book 7 and yet, Harry doesn't end up with Ginny. I wanted to make it a one-shot but finally decided on two chapters. Yes, Teddy was born much later in canon, but I tweaked the story of how Remus and Tonks got together. From what I've read, while Teddy didn't face too much backlash because of his status as Harry's godson, Rita Skeeter did take a punch at him several times because of him being the son of a werewolf. Besides, I wanted Harry to raise a child early. Teddy was an integral part of Harry and Daphne's relationship. That's how they bonded.
I also don't like how the entire Slytherin House was targeted in Book 7. Come on, let's be realistic! One-fourth of the population were ex-Slytherin students. Not all of them were Death Eaters! It's ridiculous! Also, If you think it was quite simple for Harry to figure things out, remember that it was by chance that Harry figured out that the Resurrection Stone was inside the snitch and about the cup in the vault and about the diadem in the Room of Requirement in Book 7. If he can get brainwaves like that in canon, why not here?
I believe I have correctly portrayed Ron and Hermione's behaviour and how Harry's relationship with them would have been affected if some of the key events in Book 7 hadn't taken place after Ron left. Some might disagree with me, though. You have to remember that this Hermione didn't listen to Harry's rant about Dumbledore, nor did she get tortured by Bellatrix. Ron didn't come back seeking forgiveness either, and without that, there was no chance for him to grow or redeem himself to Harry.
And yes, Harry's grandparents here were Charlus and Dorea. I won't be changing it. Sorry JKR and to anyone else who is unfortunate enough to be named Fleamont; I don't like it, so I won't be using it.
This fic was revised in November 2019. A note to anyone who returned to re-read it. Thanks for the reviews, everyone!