(A/N: Sadly, here's the last chapter of this little fantasy.)
As he ate his porridge, Harry watched a bleary-eyed Sirius came down to breakfast. While Sirius searched to look to see what his options for breakfast were, Harry got up and went over to him and pulled him into a hug.
"What's that for?" the man asked as he returned the gesture.
"I'm just so glad you're free. I really enjoyed just walking around with you in Hogsmeade yesterday afternoon."
Sirius chuckled as Harry let go and returned to his seat. "I was pretty thrilled about that too. I also liked that you didn't mind being seen with me. A lot of boys your age wouldn't have done that, being embarrassed and all."
"I told Ron yesterday that you were the person closest to being my dad and I didn't want to lose you."
Sirius put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. "I can't take James's place, but I'll do my very best to be here for you now." He squeezed again before returning to the cold cabinet to find something to eat.
A moment later, Sirius was hit with a spell, causing him to leap and spin with his wand out, but not able to do much as he was laughing almost uncontrollably. He was pointing at Remus, who was standing in the doorway with wand in hand and a grin on his face but doing nothing except watching his laughing friend.
Eventually, Sirius managed to cancel the tickling charm and get his breath back. "Really Remus? First thing in the morning?"
"Hey, the sign on your back said to 'Tickle Me'," Remus defended himself. "I was just following instructions."
Sirius twisted and reached behind himself until he pulled a note off of himself to see that it was true. He held it up to Harry with accusation in his voice. "So, all of that was just so you could do this to me?"
"Nope, I meant every word of it, but I thought you needed to be reminded not to drink so much and I knew Remus would take advantage of the situation." There wasn't a constant prank war, but Harry thought that once a week wasn't too bad. He also tried to not remember the last one that hit him: his hot bath water turning into cold strawberry Jello last week.
"Hey, I was celebrating my freedom," Sirius defended himself. "It'll only be the one time I get that drunk, until maybe I married, or you get married." He looked at Remus and grinned, "Or maybe he'll get married. I do promise it won't be often though, all right?"
"All right," Harry agreed to the compromise. "What's the lesson today?"
Sirius went back to rummaging in the cold cabinet. "I think a little more on animation. I especially want to see more imagination as you do it to objects. There are so many little ways you can use it to your advantage."
Harry considered it as Sirius cooked breakfast for the other two.
Sirius put the food on the table for him and Remus and then sat … creating a large farting noise. Reaching down, he pulled out a flat rubber bag. "A whoopee cushion too?"
"Just trying to give Harry some ideas, at least on conjuring" Remus said blithely as he dished his breakfast.
Harry stifled his laugh, enjoying the moment with family.
An owl brought the Daily Prophet, which Remus opened up. "Hey look, Sirius, you're now a free man!"
"I sure am," Sirius agreed proudly.
"Hmm, and this article says nine were arrested yesterday for helping a terrorist group known as the Death Eaters. That's a good start," Remus remarked.
"What about Fudge?" Sirius asked.
"Oh, here it is. He's being brought up on charges of corruption and his trial is next week. Umbridge is trying to take over but is being ignored it says here as people associate her with Fudge."
"That will keep her out of Hogwarts, won't it?" Harry asked.
"Probably, at least for a while, but it's hard to say which way that will go," Remus told him.
"Harry," Sirius looked at him. "If Fudge is no longer Minister and Umbridge didn't return to Hogwarts, would you want to return to school? You've only missed a little over two weeks."
"No," Harry answered without hesitation, "or at least not this term and probably not until next year."
"Oh, why?" Sirius asked, setting his fork down to really listen.
"Because I only really started to spend time with you and Remus and I'd like to have the rest of the year to do that." He was happy to see Sirius liked that answer. "I do want to go back for Quidditch and to be with my friends again, but one year off won't be so bad. I also trust you to help me do well on my OWLs."
Sirius looked at his old friend and pounded his fist over his heart. "It gets you right here, doesn't it?"
"It does," Remus answered, a slightly sappy look on his face too. Then he sobered before rattling the newspaper, "It also proclaims that Voldemort is back."
Sirius looked at Harry. "Now that they're admitting it and taking at least a little action, maybe we'll start to make progress on the war."
"We can hope," agreed Harry.
It was Halloween day when the trio visited the Ministry of Magic. As they walked to level ten as directed in the letter, Harry asked, "Are you sure we won't see that Umbridge woman?"
"I'm sure we won't," Sirius replied, "she was sacked from here. Didn't Hermione tell you she was still teaching?"
"Yes and that she's keeping out of sight most of the time, but I really don't want to run into her after what I've heard," Harry replied as they arrived at their destination.
They were met by a hooded individual. He gave a head bow to the three before he said, "Mr Potter, if you'll follow me." The three followed and he didn't stop the other two.
"Thank you for allowing me to come here," Harry said, trying to be polite.
"Having a friend in the Minister's office helps greatly," the Unspeakable replied.
"We've been very pleased by Amelia Bones' ascension to Minister since Fudge was thrown out of office," Sirius commented.
"Many have been. Touch nothing unless directed." The Unspeakable led them to a spinning room and then out a door that that seemed to be chosen at random.
A short time later, they were in a large room with many shelves and many glass balls on each shelf. The man took them to a specific place and pointed to a glass ball. "You may pick that up. Do not touch any other if you wish to stay sane. Tap your wand on it and you'll hear the contents in your mind."
Sirius had suggested they come listen after he had found out a prophecy for Harry really did exist, since forewarned was forearmed, as the saying goes. In addition, Harry was just dying of curiosity about it. A carefully worded letter to new Minister for Magic Bones had made this task possible.
Harry followed directions and finally heard the prophecy that the Order had been guarding. In some ways, it was anti-climactic to hear it as it had been close to what they had guessed. He listened to it several times, writing it down so they could discuss it later.
"Now I can break it?" Harry asked.
The words were barely out of his mouth before the orb was yanked from his hand and floated back to the shelf. "No," the Unspeakable said flatly.
"Can more protections be placed on it?" Remus asked. "I ask because I believe Voldemort will be coming to retrieve it and he won't care who or what he destroys to get to it. He might even have a spy in your department to help him get it."
The Unspeakable considered that for a long moment before pulling a small box from his robes, expanding it, and then setting it on the floor in front of Harry. "Retrieve the orb again and place it in the box then pick up the box and follow me." He also pulled the tag off the shelf and affixed it on the box.
Harry did as ordered. They came to a special shelf where he was shown to place the box on a mark. When he did so, the box disappeared. "Our high security shelf. It will not reappear for three years. If you believe it's still needs special protection at that time, return on this day in three years and we'll consider whether to do this again or not. Follow me."
The Unspeakable led them back to the elevators without another word and then disappeared.
"Very mysterious," Sirius said with a straight-face. "Let's head home."
They made it without incident where Harry placed the written prophecy on the table for them to look at and talk about. "About what we guessed. Pretty depressing in some ways."
"Sadly, it's definitely you," Remus added. After a long moment where no one said anything, he looked at his friend. "Sirius? You're very quiet."
"Why wasn't this complete back in 1981?"
Harry and Remus looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Good question!"
A quiet alarm sounded and Albus Dumbledore stepped out of the fireplace; he did not look happy. "I understand you've been to the Department of Mysteries."
Harry was not only very surprised that Dumbledore had actually presented himself but that he had appeared so soon after their visit to the Ministry.
"Yes," Sirius answered. "I thought it was Harry's right to know something that affected him."
"It isn't time yet-"
"And when is the right time, Albus?" Sirius cut him off with some heat in his voice. "Harry needs to know so we can prepare. You can't wait until the fight has started before telling him, unless you're planning on him dying. I'm certainly not planning on that!"
Albus joined them at the table. "You have a point, one which I have debated many times with myself. My main excuse was that I wanted Harry to have a childhood for this robs that from him."
Harry snorted and the others looked at him. "I haven't had a childhood since I've lived at the Dursleys," he said with rancor.
"My dear boy, I knew it would be difficult at times, but it really was the safest place for you with the blood wards I erected there. You really should still consider it your home and return there next summer to continue the protection."
Now Remus snorted. "The safest place, really? How is it safe now the Voldemort has Harry's blood?"
Albus froze and didn't answer, even when the wait became uncomfortable.
"I suppose it's best Harry is here now," Sirius said with a pointed look. "That aside, why wasn't this prophecy fulfilled in 1981?"
"Because Voldemort didn't fully die. Also, that victory was Lily's, not Harry's. She bought us time though," Albus answered.
Sirius opened his mouth to argue but stopped and just shook his head and held up his hand in helplessness at the non-answer.
"I have one," Harry asked. "What is the special power?"
"In a word, love," Dumbledore answered. "I don't believe Voldemort really knows what true love is."
"Can't say I do either as the Dursleys never showed me any, so it must be something else," Harry retorted.
"Love takes many forms, including deep friendship," Dumbledore told him. "Your mother loved you so much she was willing to die for you and that love sealed an old magic that was strong enough to protect you from a Killing Curse."
"How do you know that?" Harry asked. "I always wondered how everyone knows that when there were only two of us in the room and I don't remember. Or has Voldemort gone around telling everyone he used a Killing Curse?" Harry vividly remembered the scene the Dementors evoked in him, but he also wondered if that was a real memory or something his mind had made up based on the story he'd heard.
"Because it is his favorite curse to kill people," Dumbledore said solemnly. "Also, the shades of James and Lily came out of Voldemort's wand last spring in the fight in the graveyard."
"Probably a good guess, but still just a guess as he could have used a different spell to kill them," Sirius said. "Look we need to start training Harry now because we never know when they will meet, as evidenced by his adventures at school. Do you at least have advice for us there?"
"No, other than to give it all time. It will work itself out," Dumbledore said sagely.
"Not a useful answer," Harry said sarcastically and with a glower. His two trainers looked like they agreed whole-heartedly.
"At least you can stop having to guard the thing," Remus told him. "It's been moved to their high security area and is unavailable for the next three years."
Dumbledore looked very alarmed. "That was unwise as it was holding his attention. Now he will seek out tasks that will hurt many."
"Maybe," Sirius agreed in word but not in tone, "but at least you don't have to keep it a secret at the Order meeting and those you have been guarding it don't have to give up that part of their life. That's what got Podmore six months in Azkaban recently, wasn't it?"
"Sturgis made a mistake, but he did the right thing in not saying anything about the Order or his task," Dumbledore said with admiration.
"Still, no need for guarding it anymore," Remus reiterated.
"You have a point," Dumbledore said as he rose. "Please leave this hiding place as little as possible as you can now see how important Harry is."
"We'll be very careful," Sirius promised vaguely.
Dumbledore didn't argue and left.
"Damn!" Sirius shouted as he slammed his hand on the table and shoved himself up and away from the table and started to pace. "This changes everything. We're going to need new lesson plans." He stopped and twirled to look at his godson. "I wished you didn't have to, but you're going to need to learn some of the family's … edgier spells too. I'm sorry this is your OWL year, but that may have to be put aside. OWLs are important, but staying alive is even more important."
Remus nodded. "We'll postpone all of the non-wanded classes and double up on the wanded ones. The postponed ones will happen when we have time later. Harry, how do you feel about this?"
Harry looked at the two who were looking at him with a great deal of worry. He smiled at them. "I'm fine with you two to help me."
Sirius rushed over and gave him a hug while Remus gave him an approving look and nod.
Halloween sucked again, Harry thought, but at least I'm only attacked by a godfather with a hug, not a troll, basilisk, or something else dire.
The next day, he revised that thought, as his two teachers did attack him as they trained. Fortunately, they still found a little time for jokes and pranks along the way.
Harry looked in the mirror, turning each way and admiring the look. He was wearing his new robes he'd received for Christmas. They were a dark gray with maroon highlights - not quite as good as dress robes, but more formal than everyday robes.
"Ready?" Sirius asked. "Nice, the girls will love it."
He couldn't help the smile for that. "That's nice," he said casually.
Sirius chuckled. "You can't fool me on that topic. Of course it's nice and you'll enjoy every minute of their attention."
"I didn't say I wouldn't," Harry quipped, "but the point of the party is to spend time with friends and maybe make a few new ones, possibly allies too."
"Don't worry about the allies part, Remus and I will talk to the parents. You just have fun. Come on." Sirius led him down to the Floo and they were in the Three Broomsticks a moment later, where Remus was waiting for them and led them upstairs to a private party room.
The three spent a little time putting up Christmas decorations before Remus dealt with the food. Harry noticed that Sirius put up a few sprigs of mistletoe around the room, "Just in case it's needed," he teased.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I'm certainly not opposed to kissing girls and I hope that will happen in the future, but I don't feel I have time for a girlfriend at the moment. I'm far too busy." Sirius just smiled at him as if he knew better.
It was no surprise to Harry that Hermione would be the first to show. They hugged as they both said, "Hi," causing each of them to chuckle.
"Glad you could make it," he told her. "Did you have a good Christmas?"
"It was lovely. I've enjoyed spending time with my parents. I finished all of my holiday homework too," she told him with a slightly challenging look.
"I'm almost never behind because of the way we do our classes," he explained. "How's it going between you and Ron? Is he still a little distant?"
"Yes," she said with a resigned sigh. "We're still friends but we don't hang out together like we did last year. He still spends most of his time with Dean or Neville."
"I'm sorry," he told her. "Hey, why don't you come over for the day next Saturday? We'll catch up."
Hermione beamed at him. "I'd love to. You can show me what you've been learning too."
"It's a plan." He saw Katie Bell come in. "Grab a drink or snack if you like; the others are arriving."
He walked over and gave Katie a quick hug and said hello. Seamus and Dean walked in next and the rest seemed to come one after the other. Sirius had had him invite nearly everyone in his year and the year on either side of him. The exceptions were those whose families were known supporters of Voldemort; meaning Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Parkinson were definitely not invited, Bulstrude hadn't made the list either. Some had also declined saying they were busy with family, like Cho had.
However, Blaise Zabini, Daphne Greengrass, and Tracey Davis all came and entered together. Harry had been instructed by Sirius as to how to do a formal greeting and did so to those three, as well as the other Slytherins.
Looking back to first year, Harry could sort of see how Malfoy had tried to greet him formally, although it was done clumsily. He wondered if things might have been different between them if he had known little things like that and returned the greeting properly.
Ron and Ginny were among the last to arrive. Ron greeted him with a friendly, "Hey Harry!" before he headed for the table of food and then walked over to Dean and Seamus. Hermione was right, Harry thought, he's changing. Ginny gave him a very friendly hug before heading for her friends, causing him to wonder about the validity of Hermione's comment on Ginny giving up on him.
Harry continued to walk around the room to talk to everyone at least a little. However, when he saw Remus come into the room, he went over. "How's it going downstairs?"
"Sirius is still talking to a few parents and trying to get a feel for where they stand," the man answered. "Most of them just dropped their children off and said they'd come back later. How is it going up here?"
"Well, I think." Harry drained his bottle of Butterbeer as he looked around. He saw a few looking at him, but he wondered if it was him or Remus that was drawing the attention. "No one is giving them a hard time, fortunately," he said as he nodded slightly towards the Slytherins, who were generally standing together in a loose bunch. While Ron hadn't spoken to any of them, even he had left them alone.
Remus glanced over at them. "Too bad there's so much mistrust, but there are a few valid reasons."
Harry snorted softly. "Yes there are, Malfoy and his friends being most of them, but the rest seem all right for the most part as we talked. It's sort of too bad we don't have parties like this at school to help it out. I wonder why Dumbledore doesn't do that."
"Mostly because he's too busy and because it's never been done before, or so I'd imagine," Remus explained. "Of course-"
A loud explosion outside made everyone stop what they were doing, evening talking. After a couple of heartbeats, Harry hurried over to the nearby window and looked out. "Aw, crap! Just what I didn't need."
He turned around and faced the group as Remus looked out the window. "Everyone," he didn't have to shout because they were all silent and probably expecting the worst, which they were about to find out was true. "Stay up here and you'll probably be safe from the Death Eaters out in the street since there doesn't appear to be too many. Come on Remus."
Harry turned for the door and Hermione called, "Harry? We can help too."
As he reached the door, he turned back to face her. "Defend the others then, use the room for cover, but I think you're going to be on your own as I'm about to be really busy fighting someone you don't want to meet." He hurried on and Remus shut the door behind them, but they didn't lock it as they knew some in the room would have been able to undo any of the spells Remus could have put up in a hurry.
"You saw who was walking this way, didn't you?" the man asked.
"Yeah, so I guess we're about to find out if all those lessons for the last couple of months will be useful," he quipped a little sarcastically, mostly to hide his nerves.
"You won't be alone," Remus assured him with determination as they entered the main room downstairs to see people taking the Floo out as fast as possible and even a few just pulling out their wand and blasting a window to jump through because the line at the Floo was too slow.
Harry shook his head as he watched the last one run into the kitchen. "Cowards," he muttered as tables flipped on their side and pulled back near them courtesy of Sirius while Remus was removing most of the chairs by flinging them back towards the kitchen, shrinking them as they went.
The plan was obvious so Harry helped by transfiguring the tables to solid iron to help them to stand up better to the abuse they were about to receive. He also noticed the bar change to stone just as the front door opened and two people walked in.
This was going to be close quarters fighting, which was difficult because of less reaction time and reflexes were everything. Harry felt his side might have a little advantage because they had spent a lot of time practicing this style of fighting for the last two months since they were always inside the house. On the other hand, they might have had three fighters to the two on the other side, but the other side probably outclassed them on an individual basis.
When the witch cackled, Harry gripped his wand a little tighter and shook his head in disbelief. "Did you read that must be done in the Handbook for Big Bad Evil Witches?"
Bellatrix Lastrange stopped suddenly and looked at him, staring at him as if trying to figure him out.
Voldemort stopped next to Bella and actually smiled, at least in what probably passed for a smile from him. "Harry Potter," he said softly yet was easily heard. "I understand you're having a party but you didn't invite me. Why not?"
Harry just blinked. All the thoughts running through his head were likely to get him hexed, so he decided to go with the least offensive one to delay the inevitable fight for a little while longer. "I'm sorry, but it was for those who were near my age and I don't think you qualify."
"I suppose not, but here I am anyway," Voldemort returned, still not yet casting a spell. Bella followed his lead and didn't as well, although she was slightly bouncing on her toes in anticipation.
"Would asking you politely to leave work?" Harry asked, not sure what else to say.
"I'm afraid not. You see, you know something that I'm seeking. If you tell me, I'll consider leaving." Voldemort continued to look at him, wand in hand.
Harry felt a gentle push against his mind and realized what Voldemort was trying to do. Since he had only just started to learn Occlumency recently and knew he had no hope of stopping Riddle, he did the only thing he could: distract him with a muttered, "Reducto!" before continuing as fast as possible.
Voldemort snapped up a shield as the spell left Harry's wand and then shot a spell towards Sirius, who was also firing a spell before diving towards the bar. The shield held for the Blasting Curse from Harry, but shattered on the second. "Surprising," Voldemort commented calmly before sending a Killing Curse at Harry.
Harry now dived to the side to take temporary shelter behind an iron table and then flung a Piercing Hex at Riddle, who simply batted it away as he'd done to Sirius's spell.
Remus would have helped out, but he had his hands full dealing with Bella who seemed to find the close quarters combat fun since she started cackling again as she fought.
Sirius's next spell didn't even come close, which gave Voldemort the time to send a Cruciatus at Harry, who had to dive again. Coming back up, he tried a dark Cutting Curse Sirius had taught him, which was also batted away while Voldemort dealt with a few of the remaining chairs that were attacking him, proving Sirius's spell had done what he wanted.
Dodging yet another Unforgivable, Harry tried a similar tactic and caused the curtains right behind Voldemort to grab at him, but Riddle easily cut them down and sent them flying towards Harry, who cast a Banishing Spell too, causing the cloth to writhe while it hung in the air between them while each fought for dominance.
Suddenly, Voldemort's left foot gave way and he stumbled that direction for a moment and gasped as if in pain. The curtains flew over his head at high speed and cracked the window behind him.
Harry noticed the floor under Riddle looked funny and wondered what prank spell Sirius had used before he tried a Bone Exploding curse - which narrowly missed.
That unexpected sound from her master was just enough of a distraction to cause Bella to look over and gave Remus the chance he needed. A strong Piercing Hex went through Bella's shield and hit her in the stomach. Remus showed no mercy to the witch and a Cutting Curse took off her wand arm at the shoulder, causing her to cry out and go down.
Riddle sent a Killing Curse at Harry who could only throw himself backwards to land on his bum and it still almost hit him. Twisting as he hit the floor, he tried to scramble back up but not where he had been before.
Sirius banished his last chair at Riddle and this time sent a Killing Curse of his own at the monster, followed by yet another spell.
Having no choice but to abandon his attempt to aid Bella, Riddle blasted the chair into pieces before twisting out of the way of the Killing Curse only to get hit by Sirius's second spell, which caused his robes to start shrinking rapidly and hindered him, which allowed Remus to hit him with a Piercing Hex too now that he was free for the moment.
Harry felt a stinging sensation but ignored it when he noticed Bella going for her wand with her other hand, despite bleeding profusely from her shoulder. Not knowing what else to do but afraid Bella could cast with her other hand, he summoned her detached arm that still gripped the wand, banishing it at Voldemort.
Hampered by his shrunken and too tight robes, he wasn't prepared to be hit by a bloody arm, which caused him to stumble again. Remus helped the situation by hitting the Dark Lord with a Blasting Hex to the right side, knocking him off balance a second time and probably breaking a few ribs based on the pained expression.
Looking as if it was planned, but it wasn't, Harry and Sirius both cast transfiguration spells at the same time before Voldemort could raise a shield. Sirius's hit Voldemort in the body, causing his clothes to turn to steel; while Harry's hit Voldemort in the face and caused his flesh to turn to stone and fall backward with a mighty thud.
The two Marauders and Harry looked at each other and then at the two attackers. Bella was completely still and lying in a big pool of blood while Voldemort was as still as a rock … being one literally.
"Is everyone all right?" Remus asked into the silence. His robes were cut and ripped in a few places from close calls, but he didn't seem to be hurt.
"Yeah, good enough," Sirius said as he came out from behind the bar, looking disheveled and with a bruise starting to form on the right side of his face.
"I think so," Harry answered, lowering his wand but still looking at Riddle as if he might jump up again.
"Uh, Harry? Stand still for a moment," Remus told him. Waving his wand around Harry's face, the young man felt a number of sharp pains like pin pricks all over his face and neck.
"Oww! What are you doing?" Harry glared at him.
"Harry, just stand still," Sirius told him. "You had a number of wooden splinters and there is still a spike in your shoulder, probably from the chair that he blasted. I know they were raining down on me."
Remus continued working on Harry for another minute or so. "There. That should hold you." He handed Harry the spike that had been in his shoulder and was about the thickness of a finger and as long as Harry's hand.
Gulping a little, Harry looked up. "Why didn't I feel that?"
Sirius snorted. "Because you were fighting for your life and were so pumped up you weren't going to feel anything that wasn't major." He grinned and slapped Harry on the shoulder. "Good job … son."
Harry grinned too and threw his arms around Sirius and gave him a hug. "Thanks!" Letting go, he gave Remus a hug too. "Thanks for standing by me! There was no way I could have done this without both of you."
A noise outside drew their attention so they walked over to the windows. Looking out, they saw a few Death Eaters still fighting with the few Aurors present.
"Looks like the arrests after your trial were really helpful in reducing their numbers," Remus commented.
"I agree. Hey! Look over there!" Sirius said excitedly and pointed.
They saw Peter Pettigrew lying in the street, stiff and tied up. Sirius growled, "Yes! Serves the bastard right. I'm buying whoever did that something special." Not content with only his capture, he sent two quick spells that hit his former friend.
"What did you do?" Remus asked, looking like he wanted to curse the rat too.
"Tickling and itching jinxes; that should be fun while in a Body Bind," Sirius said with satisfaction.
Remus and Harry looked at each other and started laughing.
With the fighting under control, the three went back up the stairs, not noticing Madam Rosmerta looking at them in awe from the entrance to the kitchen, although she still refused to come out.
Harry figured it might be wise to knock on the closed door, as there might be traps on it, knowing Hermione. "It's me, Harry," he called loudly as he knocked. There were various sounds from inside the room before the door finally opened a few inches.
A wand and Neville's face was visible. "Tell me something only Harry would know."
"Uh, let me think. Only a few of us know why you earned points at the end of our first year for being brave. It was because you tried to stop us from going to save the Philosopher's Stone and Hermione-"
"Yeah, good enough," Neville cut him off and opening the door while looking a little embarrassed.
Harry looked around the room and found most over by the two windows looking out and with wands held in their hand. "The fighting downstairs is over. Is everyone all right up here?"
"What happened, Harry?" Hermione asked, sparing him only a glance as she kept watch out the window.
"Bella and Voldemort came to join the party and we defeated them-"
"Seriously?!" Neville shouted with wide eyes.
"Yeah, why?" Harry asked as Neville flung himself at Harry and gave him a hug Mrs Weasley would have been proud of.
"Thank you! Thank you! I'm in your debt for taking care of her!" Neville let go of Harry and ran out of the room.
Harry wondered if Remus would get the same treatment when Neville found out Remus had really done the deed.
"I'll go down and make sure he's all right," Remus said and left too.
"All right," Harry said, mystified with his friends enthusiasm for the moment.
"Sorry to interrupt, but where is Susan Bones?" Sirius called out.
"Here," the girl responded as she walked forward.
"Can you come with me and get your aunt on the Floo? We need her here," Sirius explained. The two left the room also.
— — —
Remus watched Neville stare at Bella, almost afraid for him as the boy wouldn't quit smiling and chuckling.
"Tell me about what happened to her, please?" Neville begged.
Remus noticed Sirius and Susan Bones come down the stairs. "Well, I'm not sure there's much to say, or that I should tell the details. We fought and I got a lucky shot when she was distracted. I cut her arm off and she died of blood loss."
Neville flung himself at Remus and hugged him tightly.
Remus patted the young man on the back slowly as he watched Susan Bones hurry back upstairs. "Perhaps you should go back upstairs," he suggested. When Sirius pointed out the window and he saw that Dumbledore was looking around outside as the Aurors started to clean up, Remus did his best to pull away. "Neville, you really need to go back upstairs. There are about to be conversations you really do not want to be part of, trust me."
Neville finally let go. "After I call my Gran, but thank you again." He hurried over to the fireplace to Floo Call his grandmother.
"I guess I never thought about how deeply she would affect him," Remus commented.
"Bella affected a lot of people - badly," Sirius said grimly. "What are we going to tell him?" He gestured out the window.
"As little as possible?" Remus suggested.
Sirius shrugged and turned. A moment later he was apologizing to Madam Rosmerta for making a mess of her establishment. Remus shook his head as Sirius received a hug from the older but buxom blonde; he had no doubt Sirius was enjoying that. Thankfully, Neville did head back up.
Albus Dumbledore walked in at the same time the fireplace belched out the Minister for Magic and a man in a non-descript hooded cloak plus a couple more Aurors.
"Minister," Remus said loudly. He heard Sirius walking over. "Dumbledore," he added in sounded like an after-thought. "I hope you don't mind, but we have some rubbish for you to dispose of, hopefully in a way that it'll never bother us again."
The cloaked man walked past them and started casting spells at the statue on the floor.
"What happened?" Bones asked, eyeing the entire scene, but paying most of her attention to the two figures on the floor.
Sirius took it upon himself to explain. He also made sure he ended the story with, "Harry's spell was the last one and," he looked right at Dumbledore, "vanquished him. We would suggest that the statue over there be thrown through the Veil of Death immediately."
Bones nodded as she looked over again. "Seems very reasonable. Algernon?
The cloaked figure stood. "I've learned what I came for and I concur with the suggestion. I'll call of a few from my team and take care of it."
"Very good," Bones told him. "I'm going to check outside for a few minutes, but I want to talk to Potter when I return." The two Aurors left with her.
Dumbledore stayed with them. "You did a good job of buying us more time."
Sirius glared at him. "No, we did a great job of finishing him off. He's," Sirius pointed at the stone figure, "done for and Harry is done with this."
"No," Sirius cut the old man off. "I said it's over. Harry is done with this. If you feel there is more to do, then you take care of it, but leave Harry out of whatever you have in mind. This is non-negotiable, Albus."
Remus noticed that Albus's expression disagreed that it was over or that Harry was done, but he didn't argue verbally.
— — —
"Harry?" Hermione looked at him again and walked over this time. "What happened and why do you have a bunch of bug bites on your face? Or that's what the red spots look like."
"Oh, small wounds from the fight I guess you could say," he answered as Susan returned.
Taking a moment to decide what to say, he told them all of the story. When he was done, Susan walked over and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him hard. "I saw what you did downstairs and you're amazing - thank you."
Harry felt a little stunned by her forwardness, although he did have to say that he had enjoyed her "thank you". "Err, you're welcome."
"I knew you could do it," Ginny told him as she walked up and grabbed his head to pull him down a little and she proceeded to kiss him soundly. At the end, she also hugged him and whispered, "There's more of that if you want it." She winked at him before letting go.
"I've always wanted to do that," Katie Bell said as she walked forward and put her arms around Harry and kissed him. It wasn't as passionate as Susan or Ginny, but more soulful and lingering. "Thank you for defending us, Harry."
She had barely stepped back when Luna Lovegood stepped up and kissed him. "Lovely, but I don't think it would work long term. Still, thank you, Harry Potter."
Harry started to turn red as he realized what she was implying, but he didn't have time to dwell on it as Hermione put her arms around him and kissed him too. "I've always wondered what that would be like and now I know. I think being friends is the right thing for us. Oh, and thank you for defending us."
Now he was a little confused. Hermione had kissed him?
"Why not, I'll probably never get another chance." Daphne Greengrass took her turn and kissed him too. "Thank you, Harry."
Every girl there kissed him and thanked him, much to Sirius's amusement as he had returned not long after the girls had started their thank you's. Harry was relieved that the boys only shook his hand and a few slapped him on the shoulder too - even Blaise Zabini and the other Slytherin boys.
"I have a question," Sirius called out. "Did anyone here get Pettigrew, the one down there in a Body Bind and tied up?"
"I did," Hermione answered. "I saw him and knew we needed to be careful with him after he escaped last time."
Sirius almost ran over and grabbed her around her body and lifted as he swung her around while he laughed. "I love you for that, Hermione, and if you were more my age I'd kiss you to show you too." He put her down after a couple of spins.
"Eww!" she cried and made a traumatized face, causing everyone to laugh.
Harry thought Sirius had probably done that just to see her reaction.
"My joking aside, how about I take you shopping at the bookstore for your reward for capturing him," he told her with a grin and an expectant look. He was not disappointed as her face lit.
"Really? Deal!" she squealed, forgiving him instantly for his joke for his promised gift.
"Great. I'll buy you all the books you can carry by yourself, but no bags or magic. Harry?" Sirius looked over at him. "You need to come down in a few minutes. Minister Bones and the Aurors want to talk to you before the Unspeakables take the statue away."
"All right," Harry answered. He really didn't want to do that, but knew he didn't have a choice.
"When you return, I'll be waiting," Susan told him with a shy but hopeful look.
"As will I," Ginny told him, looking sweetly at him with the occasion glower at Susan, who shot a glare back at the youngest Weasley.
Harry noticed Hermione smirking at him as a few other girls, including Greengrass, moved closer to him and had very interested looks. He gulped and wondered how he was going to deal with this situation. At least he had time for a girlfriend now and they wouldn't try to kill him like Voldemort had.
(A/N: Obviously, this was a "save Sirius" story. I also wanted something where Sirius would actually stand up to Molly, who I feel really didn't treat him well in his own house, though I can mostly understand she almost had to when he couldn't/wouldn't do what was needed, having been at least slightly damaged by Azkaban.
I hope you enjoyed it. Keep the author alerts on, I have a few more to publish here when I have time - Kevin)