Disclaimer – I solemnly swear that JKR owns everything Harry Potter. Whether or not I am up to no good with her characters is for you to decide.
The sight before him was both horrifying and exhilarating at the same time. On the floor of the Headmaster's Office of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry lay the body of Tom Riddle, self-styled Lord Voldemort. In eight tiny, bloody pieces. Blood was everywhere, still oozing from the pieces of the Dark Lord – in some cases from both ends – as well as splattered on the carpet, walls, books and portraits.
The Dark Lord. Lord Voldemort. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Tom Riddle. Dead at Harry's feet, by Harry's hand. And with no soul anchors, horcruxes, left to tie him to Earth, he was gone for good.
A retching sound behind him shook Harry from his shock.
Turning about, Harry's eyes darted to Hermione, finding her vomiting where she lay on her side completely bound in ropes. The sticky, disgusting mess had landed in her hair and on her face and was slowly spreading out around her.
A quick slash of his wand as he rushed to her vanished the ropes. A scourgify cleaned up the majority of the mess, the rest he ignored as he wrapped his arms around her. As he held Hermione, he felt her sobs and heaving as the terror of the past few minutes overwhelmed her.
A snap behind him turned Harry's head.
"Nasty Old Master was trying to leave," Dobby said with a shrug as he indicated Lucius Malfoy trussed up on the ground in front of the door.
"Great work, Dobby," Harry said.
"Uh, a little help?" Sirius asked.
A series of snaps from Dobby's fingers had the ropes that bound the rest of the group vanishing.
One by one, they rose; Hermione clinging to Harry the whole time.
"You did it, Pup!" Sirius exclaimed, bounding over to join in the hug. "You offed him! No more Dark Lord!"
"Ugh, did you have to make it so messy, though?" Neville asked, one arm holding his stomach, the other over his mouth.
"Sorry, mate, first spell that popped into my head," Harry replied.
"Alastor would be extremely pleased at your choice of spell," Minerva replied as she retrieved their wands and Harry's staff, "even if the results are rather grisly."
A sudden boom that shook the castle, rattling the windows, reminded them that they weren't the only ones involved in battle that night.
"Looks like the fighting's concentrated around the Great Doors," Daphne commented from where she stood looking out the window.
"I can't tell who's winning," Luna stated with a frown.
"The Death Eaters have got the most cover; they're going to overwhelm Amelia and her forces unless something changes quickly," Minerva stated.
"They need a distraction," Harry mused.
"Got just the thing," Sirius replied. "Open one of the windows."
Harry turned to see Sirius levitating the surprised-looking head of Tom Riddle before him, blood was even still dripping from it. Quickly, he pushed one of the windows open and scurried out of the way.
The floating, bobbing head of the ex-Dark Lord was levitated out of the window before being banished towards the Great Doors.
"If that doesn't distract them, I don't know what will," Sirius commented.
The unexpected meaty thwap of something landing at the bottom of the steps leading to the very doors of Hogwarts castle surprised Bellatrix. Her eyes tracked the thing even as her wand arm continued its movements, casting the entrail expelling curse that she'd been in the middle of.
The head, as she realised it was, rolled twice before stopping in the light cast from the doors, face up. Its bald visage, lack of nose and dull red, staring eyes ripped a scream of absolute rage from her.
No, it simply couldn't be. Nothing nothing could kill him. He'd beaten death before and shown himself invincible.
"Get up!" she screamed at him.
When the head remained still, she knew that he needed her, his most devoted of all Death Eaters, to come to his aid.
With nary a thought for her own safety, Bellatrix Lestrange left her cover, her eyes solely for the severed head of her Master.
It was no surprise to those watching, then, when a curse tore through Bellatrix's neck. As her body toppled and fell forward, her severed head rolled the last couple of metres to come to rest alongside her Master's.
The unexpected arrival of Tom Riddle's severed head into the middle of the battle and the subsequent death of Bellatrix Lestrange froze all on the field of battle. All, that is, except for Amelia Bones.
Amelia's wand barely stopped from the time that it'd cast that overpowered diffindo to moving straight into a battle chain of spells.
Seeing her combination slam into two Death Eaters that had slightly left their cover reawakened the forces fighting alongside her.
Spells were shouted and cast with renewed vigour, a touch of victory already in the voices of the attacking force.
It was a victory that became more and more assured as each spell was cast. What little defence that came back at them slowly petered out. With the death of the Lord and his most able, vicious lieutenant, the fight seemed to have drained straight out of the remaining Death Eaters.
"Hold your fire!" Amelia called.
When all spell-fire had ceased, she eyed those in the castle, weighing, judging.
"Throw down your wands and come out with your hands up and you'll be guaranteed a fair trial," she called.
At first, it seemed as though none were going to take her up on her offer but, just as Amelia was about to order her forces to continue the attack, a lone wand was tossed through the air to land on the grass. Amelia watched as a shorter, plump, balding man, his mask missing, came into view, his arms stretched high above his head.
"I surrender. Don't kill me," he called in a wheezing voice.
And, as though that was the signal that others had been waiting for, dozens more wands were tossed out and other Death Eaters appeared, their arms high, their masks left on the stone floors where they'd been standing.
"Cover them. And get magic suppression cuffs on them as well," Amelia ordered as she broke cover, her wand still raised, ready.
The first man had stopped just in front of the bodies of Riddle and Lestrange, his head bowed in defeat.
"Peter Pettigrew," Amelia stated, looking at the man. "A wise decision. Probably the first one you've made in your life.
Moments later, Tonks was beside her, pulling out her cuffs and ripping the man's hands behind his back to fix them.
Slowly, cautiously, Amelia continued on towards the castle. Just outside the Great Doors, she paused, took a deep breath and ducked inside, running hard up against the wall just in case. As soon as she reached the first suit of armour, she ducked behind it and took stock of the Entrance Hall.
While there were bodies there, none were alive. She sighed as she realised that more than one of them were still kids. In fact, the platinum blonde haired boy lying in front of the next window across, blood pooling from the side of his head, was Lucius Malfoy's son if she wasn't mistaken.
"The prisoners outside are secure. They're in the process of being transported back to the holding cells in the Ministry," Shacklebolt relayed in his deep voice as he approached. "We've won."
Amelia shook her head. "Not quite yet. We've still got to make sure that there aren't any hold outs hidden in the castle somewhere. Find Potter and Black, they should be in the Headmaster's Office if I'm not mistaken. We need that map of theirs."
After a single nod, Shacklebolt strode away being careful, she noted, to check each cross-corridor before passing it as he went.
The voice that crackled over the Wizarding Wireless Network was one that the entire population of Magical Britain recognised. What the Acting Minister for Magic announced caused celebrations up and down the country for nearly a week. Magical fireworks were even set off the first night before the culprit, Dedalus Diggle, was arrested for breaking the Statute of Secrecy. Parties were held in Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and a host of small magical pubs located throughout the isles.
"The war is over!" Minister Bones announced. "Tom Riddle, self-styled Lord Voldemort, was killed by Harry Potter last night at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Also killed were Bellatrix Lestrange, Alecto Carrow, Amycus Carrow, Jeremiah Selwyn, Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange and a further thirty-nine Death Eaters. Twenty-one wizards on the attacking force were also killed in battle.
"The Death Eaters that surrendered will be given trials as soon as they can be arranged once the Wizengamot has been recalled and a new Chief Warlock elected. The election of our new Minister for Magic will take place on Saturday, September twenty-eight.
"Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been secured for our students' use as a school once more. At this stage, there is no set time when Hogwarts will reopen. Once a new Headmaster has been installed, they will make the decision and announcement when they are ready.
"The students that had been held as hostages at Hogwarts before being rescued by Harry Potter, Sirius Black, Minerva McGonagall, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom and Daphne Greengrass will be returned to Britain from their safe location by the end of the week.
"I would like to thank each member of our magical community for your strength and endurance during this dark time. It has not been easy but together, we have prevailed. Now, together, we can work towards rebuilding our society, our homes, our businesses, our lives and to create a new beginning filled with hope, inclusion and acceptance, a society that we can be proud of.
Of course, the biggest and at the same time most understated response to Amelia's message occurred in Diagon Alley. The morning after her announcement, the doors of Gringotts Bank were opened with no fanfare whatsoever. When the first witches and wizards tentatively ventured inside, it was to find the goblins going about the business, counting gold and sitting at their desks awaiting customers just as though the war had not happened.
"This is only temporary?" Kingsley Shacklebolt asked, not for the first time.
Amelia and Minerva shared an amused look with each other.
"You're too valuable an auror to lose, Shack," Amelia replied. "Besides, if things go as I hope they don't, I'll need you more as the Head of the DMLE than as the Headmaster of Hogwarts."
"You'll make an excellent Minister for Magic," Minerva told her friend. "You've already proven that and the fact that no one has declared themselves as running against you, not to mention the way the public looks up to you says that the entire magical community agrees."
Amelia simply frowned.
"Let's get on with this," she said. "Hogwarts needs at least a temporary Headmaster until the new Board can appoint one to ensure that the wards remain stable."
With a nod, Minerva moved into position between Kingsley and the great ward stone hidden deep in the very bowels of the castle, only seen by a very few. Lifting her wand, she began the long, complicated spell that would tie man and castle together, just as Kingsley raised his wand.
"I, Kingsley Randolf Shacklebolt, do hereby …"
Augusta Longbottom looked over the vast crowds gathered in front of Gringotts from her position at the very top of the stairs on the small stage that had been erected there.
Wizards and witches, men and women and children of all ages, were packed together so closely that they could hardly breathe. There were so many there that the crowd even spilled both ways down the alley. People had taken up whatever vantage points they could get, even going so far as for a few to perch themselves either on broomsticks above the crowd below or on the very roofs of the buildings across the way.
Behind her and to the sides, a legion of goblins was arrayed. Many wore the armour and carried the weapons of the guards, obviously there to provide protection to the others. She recognised a few – Slipshard and Ragnok among them, and had no doubts that the others held just as important positions within the Goblin Nation as well.
Yes, she nodded, they were right to hold it here instead of in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic where this sort of ceremony was traditionally held. There simply would not have been enough room for everyone there.
Movement behind Augusta had her turning her head and smiling. Walking onto the erected stage were Harry Potter, Sirius Black, Amelia Bones, Hermione Granger, Daphne Greengrass, Neville Longbottom and Minerva McGonagall.
Each of the young people were dressed in their Diricawl finest: polished black dragonhide boots, long black skirt for the girls or black cargo pants for the boys, a crisp white shirt and deep green and gold tie and over it all, the dark green robe, with a silver clasp at the throat and the golden badge of Diricawl Academy on the cloak's left breast. Completing the outfit, each wore a dark green beret. Harry, of course, strode on to the stage with his staff tapping with every other step.
As for the adults, Amelia wore her official auror uniform, appropriate as she had not yet been elected to the Minster for Magic's post. Sirius and Minerva sported new cloaks with a hint of forest green in them, a nod, Augusta guessed, to their allegiance to Diricawl Academy.
Once all were in their proper positions, although both Neville and Harry appeared to be fighting the urge to fidget, Augusta gave a subtle nod to the small orchestra on the side of the stage.
The blast of music that erupted was thankfully short, at least in Augusta's opinion. Once the music had stopped and all eyes were directed at the stage, Augusta took a single step forward, closer to the specialised wand that would not only amplify her voice for those in the Alley to hear but also to broadcast these proceedings to the greater magical community via the Wizarding Wireless Network.
"My name is Madam Augusta Longbottom, Regent for the Most Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom and member of the Wizengamot. It is my great honour and privilege today to officiate at this Order of Merlin ceremony. Ordinarily, that honour would fall to the Minister of Magic, but seeing as elections have yet to occur and that our Acting Minister is one of the recipients, along with the fact that the Wizengamot has yet to elect a new Chief Warlock, I have been appointed.
"Before I award the medals to our recipients today, I should like to take the opportunity to explain to you the actions that these people behind me have taken which has resulted in their being awarded today.
"Amelia Bones has been the most prominent of our Awardees today. During the first part of this latest war, she was the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. In this role, she acted in defence of our country, tirelessly working to track down and arrest the terrorists that plagued our nation. After the coup that resulted in Tom Riddle and Delores Umbridge taking control of the Ministry of Magic, Amelia continued to act in defence of the magical and mundane population, directing and participating in numerous battles, using what limited resources she still had at her disposal.
"Amelia Bones was also the spearhead at the front of the counterattack that took place here in Diagon Alley when the citizens here were being killed by Death Eaters; she led one of the major forces in liberating the Ministry of Magic itself; accepted the role of Acting Minister for Magic; and led the assault on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
"Today, for achievement and endeavour beyond the extraordinary, Amelia Susan Bones is awarded the Order of Merlin, Second Class."
The claps, cheers, whistles and sheer roar of approval that erupted was enough to almost deafen those on the stage and Augusta wondered how well the Alley's wards could hold up to such a noise.
As Amelia walked across the stage, Augusta leant down and lifted the great golden medallion by its purple ribbon from the case that the house elf that appeared beside her bore. Straightening, Augusta smiled at her old friend and reached up and placed the ribbon around her neck. As it settled, a second, equally as loud cheer was sent up from the crowd.
Once Amelia was back in line with her fellow recipients and the crowd had quietened, Augusta announced the next group of awards.
"It has become common knowledge in our community that, after Tom Riddle captured Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he held our entire country to ransom by holding our children hostage within the wards of the school, wards that he made impenetrable by any not bearing the Dark Mark that he made all of his followers bear. It is also common knowledge that it was the actions of Sirius Black, Hermione Granger, Daphne Greengrass, Neville Longbottom, Minerva McGonagall and Harry Potter that resulted in our children being rescued and taken to safety.
"What is not common knowledge is how they managed such a feat.
"A flaw was found in the great wards surrounding Hogwarts, a flaw that allowed animagi to penetrate the anti-Dark Mark wards – a flaw that I must add has been rectified in the wards that have been erected around the Ministry of Magic building. I will also add that those who had not yet been registered as being Animagi have since registered with the Ministry.
"Utilising this flaw, the six of them, in their Animagus forms, infiltrated Hogwarts, evaded the Death Eaters and magical creatures loyal to Tom Riddle and liberated our children, rescuing them and getting them away from danger.
"These six utilised this flaw a second time on the night of the final battle at Hogwarts. Once again, they infiltrated the wards that kept all others out and convinced then-Headmaster Severus Snape to lower the anti-Dark Mark ward, allowing the Ministry and volunteer forces to attack and defeat Riddle's forces once and for all.
"For these actions, Sirius Orion Black, Hermione Jane Granger, Daphne Ophelia Greengrass, Neville Francis Longbottom and Minerva Margaret McGonagall are awarded the Order of Merlin, Second Class."
Once again, the crowd erupted with a deafening cheer and managed to keep it up as each, one by one, walked forward to have the purple-ribboned gold medallion placed around their neck. Augusta had tears in her eyes as she presented Neville's, even going 'off-script' to lean forward and give her grandson a hug and a kiss on his cheek.
Finally, when the five of them had all had their medals presented and were back in place, Augusta smiled at the last remaining awardee. Turning back to the crowd, she could feel the expectancy in the very air.
"Finally, Harry James Potter is awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class for, not only the actions that I have already described, but also for his acts of outstanding bravery in numerous battles, including here at Diagon Alley, at the Ministry of Magic and in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In addition to this, Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived-Again, the Chosen One, the Man-Who-Won, killed the Dark Lord, Tom Riddle, ridding magical Britain forever of his evil.
As the young man in question stepped forward, his now famous staff in hand, Dobby appeared on the stage bearing his friend and master's award. Augusta reached in and pulled out the golden medallion by its green ribbon, turned and hung it around his neck.
As soon as it was placed, she stepped back, joining in with the applause and cheers from the crowd that now included the goblin guards crashing their spears against their shields. If Augusta had thought that the sound of the crowd before was loud, then she now realised that she was absolutely and completely wrong. The explosion of sound was akin to a great roar that a herd of dragons would make.
Harry, for his part, took it well, standing tall in the middle of the stage, alone until he gestured at those behind him.
Tears fell from Augusta's eyes as firstly, Hermione joined him, wrapping him in a hug, her mouth and smile indicating that she was laughing although no sound could be heard. Neville was next, throwing one arm over Harry's shoulder and raising the other in the air. And then the rest of them – Sirius, Daphne, Minerva and Amelia joined them sending the crowd even further into excitement and keeping the cheer and applause going for a long, long time.
This, Augusta thought, this truly proved that the war was finally won.
A/N – This concludes Book 6: Castle Voldemort. A huge thanks to all who's read and reviewed, Favourited and Followed, it's really meant a lot. The final part of The Cupboard Series, Book 7: Graduation Day has been posted for you to enjoy – you can find it through my profile page. See you over there.
NB – If you liked this story, check out my profile page where you can find all of my FanFiction stories. Also there is a link to my Facebook page and my website where you will find all of my original stories as well.