Hi everyone,

The epilogue is here!

It is quite long, so I hope you will enjoy it.

Once again I would like to thank all the reviewers, favs, alerts: you made my day more than once, and it was always a pleasure to know that this fanfiction was appreciated.

For your information, the outlines of the epilogue were planned from the very beginning of the story… so yeah, it was always supposed to finish like that.

Have a nice day,



Epilogue - September 2004

Still half asleep, Hermione Granger stumbled from her room to the bathroom, and she looked at herself critically in the mirror. Her hair was as always horribly unruly, her face was nothing more than a beacon of her tiredness, and the comfortable dress she had put on hastily had seen better days.

"You look awful," the mirror commented.

"Oh shut up," Hermione retorted dryly.

She knew she looked awful, no need to remind her. Firstly, she had come home way too late the day before, after going out in a Muggle pub with Harry, Ron, Ginny, Neville and Luna. And secondly, she would rather have this day disappear completely. Unlike a typical Sunday when most Weasley and their closest friends would meet at the Burrow for lunch and spend the afternoon there, Sunday, September 12th, 2004 marked the five years of the Dark Lord's fall. The five years of Lord Voldemort's death. A grand ceremony was planned in Hogwarts to celebrate this, and Hermione had no desire at all to go there.

Many things had changed in five years. After the death of Lord Voldemort, the wizarding population had suddenly rioted in most countries of the Magic Alliance. Days of chaos had followed, before the situation finally stabilized, mostly in favour of the rebels. But the Death Eaters had not resigned easily however, and many more rebels and civilians had died. Among the people Hermione knew, Molly Weasley, Daphne Greengrass, Sturgis Podmore, Lee Jordan, and Professor Flitwick had died during the Battle of Hogwarts. The following skirmishes had taken away Dean Thomas, Angelina Johnson and Cho Chang.

And all the others did not come out unscathed either. Padma was still limping due to the Fiendfyre, who had almost carried her leg off. Neville had developed a taste for raw meat that was hardly natural. Sirius had lost the mobility of his left arm. And if Bill had finally recovered, he could hardly make the slightest physical effort, even five years later.

But the magnitude of the revolts that had risen had still limited the losses. Rebels had realized that everywhere networks of resistance had formed and struggled for years more or less in the shadows. Even in the UK, the fall of the Dark Lord had revealed that many ministry officials had quietly made some documents disappear to protect citizens. The rebels had discovered with astonishment that Percy Weasley had elevated this documents disappearance to the rank of art, saving many people, including his own family.

Like every time when she remembered the few days after the fall, Hermione had a disdainful thought for Voldemort. He had been so sure that he had an absolute power over his people. So convinced that reigning by terror was the best solution. With the result that, six days after his death, his entire empire had come tumbling down like a house of cards, and most of his Death Eaters had been imprisoned.

Among his closest followers, Fenrir Greyback, Tyler Greengrass, Bellatrix Lestrange, Antonin Dolohov and Evan Rosier had died. The other bearers of the dark mark were in Azkaban for the rest of their lives. The sinister prison was no longer guarded by Dementors, but the wards around it had been reinforced to reassure the population.

For the Dark Lord's followers who were not important enough to be marked, the sentences had been lighter. One of the main reason being that the new government had not wanted to rule as tyrannically as the previous one. And if Hermione understood and approved, it was still quite odd to know that Draco Malfoy was now resuming his life with Astoria Greengrass after two years spent in prison. Every time they met, she could not help but remember with discomfort the way the Dark Lord had forced her to torture him with the Cruciatus curse.

Once Voldemort's puppets had been taken down, it had been necessary to rebuild the countries. To release and heal the victims of Voldemort's reign. To establish temporary governments. To abolish the unfair laws dictated the last twelve years. Thus Hermione had spent the first year after the fall trying to bring back together the wizarding society, with the help of all the other rebels.

They had also been able to trace down all the Muggleborns that had been hidden by Albus Dumbledore. The day that Kingsley Shacklebolt took office as Britain's temporary Minister of Magic, a scroll had appeared before him, explaining Dumbledore's approach and stating that the list would only be revealed when a minister without the Dark Mark will rule. Very simple, but efficient. How Dumbledore had transferred part of his aura to Hermione, however, will remain a mystery, as no documentation about it had been found anywhere.

The integration of Muggleborns had not been easy. Between those who had been reduced to slavery, and those who were just discovering this world in the middle of their higher education, part of them had not wanted to have anything to do with magic. Hermione had spent hours talking to each one of them. To explain to them what the new magical world could bring them. Many had finally decided to give the new regime a chance. For the others, Hermione had left them her contact information, urging them to reach to her if they ever changed their minds.

The following year, when the wizarding world had regained some stability, Hermione had enrolled in Hogwarts for her seventh year to take her N.E.T.W.s, a necessary diploma for any good career in the United Kingdom. She could have studied by correspondence before taking them, but Harry, Ron and Ginny had convinced her that nothing was worth Hogwarts. And she had to admit that it had been a particularly interesting experience. The castle itself was incredibly exciting, and Hermione had spent most of her nights exploring it, Harry having loaned her the Marauder's map for the occasion.

Most of the students in her class were younger than her, but the difference was small enough that it was not too obvious. And the classes were in any case particularly disorganized that year, many Muggleborns just starting their magical studies although they were about her age.

Hogwarts had even had to hire temporary teachers to manage all the different levels. Harry had excelled as a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher for the youngest, Remus Lupin holding the position for the older students, and Hermione knew that Harry would surely have loved to continue teaching if his hero complex had not pushed him to finally become a remarkable auror.

She had been surprised when she had been sorted into Gryffindor, thinking that she would end up in Ravenclaw, and she had worn the red and gold colours with pride, even though she had spent more hours in the library than all her classmates. She had also discovered that she had little trouble attending classes, even without having completed the previous six years. Defence Against the Dark Art, Transfiguration, Charms, Arithmancy, and Ancient Runes were in fact easy subjects with everything she had learned at Slytherin Castle.

She had had to put more efforts into Potions, History of Magic, Astronomy, and Herbology that she had never really studied, even though she had sometimes discussed them with the Dark Lord or the rebels. She had also discovered the existence of Care of Magical Creatures, a branch of magic that the Dark Lord must have considered non-existent since she had never seen a single book dealing with the subject in his library.

The only thing she hated right away was Divination. A bunch of idiocy for the gullible. And yet she knew that this topic, contrary to Care of Magical Creatures, the Dark Lord had held it in high esteem. What she still found incomprehensible today. She had even dropped the subject during the course of the year, finally getting only eleven N.E.W.T.s. Ten Outstanding, and one Exceed Expectations in Astronomy about which she was trying not to think too often.

Then she went to the University. It was even more amazing than anything she had imagined. In equal parts incredibly difficult and wonderfully motivating. She had met Asma Bacaffa again. She had been introduced to other magi, as well as of course to the dean of the University Maria d'Aguilar. And she had met many students from all around the world with whom she was still in touch. Three years later, in June 2004, right after her exams, Hermione had been sworn in as a mage, the only student to have this privilege for many years.

Her only regret was her final results at the University. The highest for a little over fifty years. It had almost been the highest for much longer. But no, of course Marvolo Gaunt had had to get three more points than her. She did not even know how it was possible to get those three extra points, and even three months later, it frustrated her more than she wanted to admit.

After her oath, Hermione had left England for a few months, not really knowing what she wanted to do next, and wishing to visit most of the magical places she still did not have discovered during her studies. She had spent a few days in all the iconic wizarding places, and even in those much more remote, just coming back from time to time for Sunday's lunches at the Burrow and leaving immediately after, too worried to linger. Once again she had searched for traces, clues, proofs of her suspicions. In vain.

And for two weeks she was now back in the UK, wandering for the moment aimlessly, still hesitating between entering the magical law department, becoming an unspeakable, or spending a few more years studying magic abroad.

And of course she had been expressly asked by Kingsley to come to the ceremony in honour of Voldemort's defeat, as well as most of the other rebels. She already knew how it was going to be. Dozens and dozens of people were going to wander there, wishing to greet them, shake their hands, and exchange a word with them. Congratulate her for disarming the Dark Lord, and praise Harry and Ginny for finally killing him. And they would pretend to smile, while they would internally doubt that he was really dead.

Few were aware of her doubts. The magi she knew personally, Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, Remus Lupin, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Harry, Ron, Ginny and her. But if they had remained vigilant, they could not do anything else about it, no trace of Lord Voldemort having been noticed in the past five years. And sometimes, Hermione wondered if she did not have those doubts just because part of her would have wanted him to survive. A part of her that she usually tried to relegate as much as possible in the background, to avoid the painful feeling of emptiness that occurred every time she thought about him. About his unbearable arrogance. About his incredible knowledge. About his bewitching magic.

"Stop Hermione, stop," she slammed.

She did not want her thoughts to go in this dangerous direction. Sighing, she casted a few precise spells on her face, falsely refreshing her complexion. She then changed her dress, putting on something much fancier. Finally, she waved her hair in a messy bun.

"Much, much better," the mirror commented, smiling at her.

Hermione arranged a last lock of hair, before letting her hands fall. She felt something slide along her left wrist, and a moment later a noise echoed near the ground. By reflex she moved away sharply, pointing her wand to the source of the noise. And her eyes fell on her white gold bracelet. Which had just crashed on the floor of her bathroom.

She remained petrified, looking in disbelief at the bracelet lying on the floor. She had tried for months to remove it, without success. Neither she, nor Harry, nor any wizards had succeeded. Asma, Maria, Alexandra and she had tried everything to at least identify its properties, but whatever the Dark Lord had done, it had turned out to be above their level. And now the bracelet had just fallen down? Five years later? It sounded like a very bad omen and an icy chill ran down her back.

Shaking her head, Hermione picked up the bracelet, put it in one of the pockets of her dress and decided to go to the ceremony a little earlier than planned. If she wanted to discuss the event with Harry, it would be there anyway that she would find him. There was also a good chance that she would meet Alexandra, who was now ruling magical Russia, and Asma, who took pleasure in such ceremonies, although he did not participate in any of the battles, and had never hidden his admiration for Lord Voldemort, nor his disappointment that he may be dead.

When she arrived near the gates of Hogwarts, she was reassured to see that there was still no one. Argus Filch made her enter the castle with his usual moody temper, and she hurried to the great hall, much more anxious than she had been in the last five years.

The unbearable crowd that would undoubtedly roam the park during the afternoon was not yet present, but the castle was however full of students. They seemed to have just finished their lunch, and where currently lazily spilling in the park to enjoy the sun. Most of them stopped short when they noticed her, and then whispered excitedly as she passed.

"It's Hermione Granger!"


"I heard she..."

"Hermione Granger!"

"You think that..."

"Get out of my way!"


Hermione did not pay attention to the whispers, as she was used to see people looking at her as soon as she stepped outside her home. And it was even worse when Harry, Ron, Ginny and she were heading together for dinner or for some shopping. During all her wanderings, it was only in the depths of Burma, in Alexandra's house around Inle Lake, that she had met wizards who did not know her.

She walked steadily towards the castle gates, and entered Hogwarts as Headmistress McGonagall, Minister Shacklebolt, and Harry and Ginny came out of the great hall. The last three had come to the castle for lunch to finalize the last details of the ceremony, much to Harry's misfortune, who hated nothing more than his celebrity. He had been grumbling all the previous night about it, until Ginny had threatened to make him sleep on the couch for four months if he did not stop complaining right away. The threat had made Ron spill his beer, but Harry had finally stopped his grumbling.

"Hermione," Ginny greeted when she noticed her, hugging her the next moment.

Hermione gave her a forced smile, and then quickly nodded towards Harry, Kingsley and Minerva.

"What's going on?" Harry asked, perceiving her discomfort.

With a trembling hand, Hermione pulled the white gold bracelet out of her pocket, and without a word she handed it to Harry. Instantly, the faces of Harry, Ginny, Kingsley and Minerva lost their colours, and they dragged her to the Headmistress' office.


Hermione collapsed on the sofa in her living room. It was nearly two o'clock in the morning, and she had just returned home after the ceremony and hours of discussion with the former rebels.

Despite the bad omen of the broken golden bracelet, everything had gone perfectly well. Kingsley had made a decidedly forward-looking speech, Harry and Ginny had said some poignant words for the memory of those who had died five years earlier, and the wizarding population had celebrated the date with joy and hope.

Hermione had gladly discussed with people she had not yet seen since her return. Former members of the rebellion. Her classmates from Hogwarts and the University. Alexandra with all the pomp of her official status, and also Asma and Maria who had mingled with the crowd discreetly – at least for those who were not able to feel their incredible magical auras -.

"Hermione, Hermione!"

She looked up suddenly, alerted by the worried undertone in Harry's voice. She rushed to the fireplace, kneeling to be at the same level as the head of her friend who had just appeared above the ashes.

"Harry? What's going on?" she asked.

"My cloak is gone."


"My invisibility cloak is gone, it disappeared."

Hermione stiffened with terror. Several months after the fall of the Dark Lord, she had tried to find and read the books she had seen in his secret room. She had not managed to find most of them, of course, and it had been absolutely impossible for anyone to find Slytherin Castle, as if it had simply disappeared from the surface of Earth. But finding the tales of Beedle the Bard had hardly been difficult.

And among all the stories, she had ended up finding the tale of the three brothers. A wand, a stone and a cloak. She had remembered the glimpse of fear in the Dark Lord's gaze when she had disarmed him from his new strange wand, and how he had put himself in danger to retrieve it. She had remembered the black stone set in the ring he was wearing. And his interest in Harry's cloak. She had told only Harry about it, asking him to watch over his cloak.

"Your protection spells were destroyed?" she asked.

"They were in perfect condition Hermione, as if nothing had happened," Harry said, shaking his head.

It was all the more frightening, and Hermione felt like something was squeezing her chest painfully as she asked Harry to open the chimney for her to check on her own.


It was September 19th, the day of her 25th birthday, and instead of celebrating it with her friends as originally planned, Hermione was all dressed in black in a graveyard, surrounded by Harry, Ginny, Ron and other rebels. Severus Snape had been found dead two days earlier in his potions lab, when Minerva McGonagall had come to visit him. Although Severus Snape had retired from the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts just after the fall of the Dark Lord to dedicate his time to potions, the two former colleagues had remained very close.

The death seemed accidental. Emanations of Flitterbloom and hemlock, mixed with the vapours of Phineas Bourne's fifth floral poison, in a temperature below 10 degrees Celsius. A quite unknown explosive reaction, even among potion experts. Perfectly plausible, because Severus Snape had been working on an antidote to this specific poison, aiming to publish about it next month.

The small academic world of potion masters had been shocked to learn about this death, and many had come, despite the fact that Severus Snape's character hardly lent sympathy. One of the potion masters was currently saying a few words about Snape, but Hermione was not listening. Her hand was tight on her wand, and she surveyed the crowd, trying to find evidence of her suspicions. In vain.


Her destination well in mind, Hermione Apparated to Norway. She arrived with a small pop - despite all her efforts she was still unable to Apparate silently - and she stilled in awe. While it was still warm in the UK for this autumnal equinox, the place where she was now was far enough in the north for a stretch of pristine snow to recover the ground all around her, making the firs forest look like it was truly enchanted.

A white marble path was laid out in front of her, almost invisible in the middle of the snow, leading to a translucent barrier that seemed to hide nothing of the landscape behind it. At once excited and intimidated, Hermione walked slowly towards the gate. She stopped for a split second in front of the barrier, before stepping resolutely into it.

As soon as she passed the barrier the venue appeared in front of her. She was now inside the entrance hall of a palace solely made of ice. Everything was sculpted with impressive finesse in forms defying the laws of physics, and Hermione could not help but gaze admiringly on all sides. Everything was magical, of course, and an impressive magic it was.

A tall, fair-haired man, dressed in a thick ecru robe embroidered with fur, approached her.

"Hi there, you must be Hermione," he said kindly.

A quiet force was oozing from him, and it soothed Hermione's apprehension.

"Indeed," she replied.

"Welcome to your first equinox evening Hermione, I'm Sondre Haraldsen."

Hermione remembered what Alexandra had told her. Sondre Haraldsen was a shaman mage who usually lived completely isolated, and who was able to communicate with most animals and even some plants. Both Luna and Neville would have been fascinated.

"Pleasure to meet you s… Sondre," she said politely. "As you already know, I'm Hermione Granger."

She had stumbled on his name, nearly referring to him as sir. In spite of her efforts, she was still unused to the fact that she now should discuss with the magi on a first name basis. Especially when the vast majority of them were at least thirty years older than her, even though they all seemed younger than their real age.

"All the pleasure is mine," Sondre replied with a smile.

He guided her to the reception hall, from where indistinct chatters could be heard. From where was also oozing the most impressive amount of magical power that Hermione had ever felt in one place.

It was the first thing she had checked when she had arrived, the different magical auras. She had sought out one in particular, without finding it. But she did not feel much more reassured. Because she knew that on the list of the Dark Lord's enemies, she had to be somewhere at the same level as Severus Snape, if not higher.

She had barely taken a few steps into the room that Asma noticed her and walked towards her.

"Ah Hermione, what a pleasure to finally see you here!" he said enthusiastically. "With a bit of delay, but it's never too late."

A huge smile was spread across his face, as always, and Hermione wondered for a moment if he was smiling as widely when he was implementing one of his specialties, the possession of human beings. She had refused to talk to him for three months after learning that this good-natured mage excelled in this particularly dark magic. And practiced it regularly.

"Hello Asma. Am I really late? I was pretty sure to be right on time," she answered, quickly checking that she was not the last one to arrive.

He looked at her for a moment with a surprised look.

"He hadn't told you about it then? Of course he had not told you about it…" he said to himself. "Marvolo had promised me that he would take you with him to the next equinox evening five years ago."

"Pardon me?"

Voldemort had promised Asma that he would take her to the next equinox evening? Absolutely no way. Now that she knew that the magi could not kill each other as a rule of their order – otherwise they would become the target of all the others – it was just unthinkable that Voldemort would have agreed to bring her there. This was a strong statement, something like sponsoring her to become a mage! A message so strong that it would have almost guaranteed her later acceptance in the circle.

"In exchange of what?" she asked suspiciously.

Asma burst out laughing and patted her shoulder in a paternalistic gesture that irritated her.

"Alexandra's location. He was still looking for Seth's amulet at that time. For what it was worth. His whole empire has collapsed now. What a pity."

There was a hint of sadness in Asma's voice that annoyed Hermione. Of course, she could only admit that Voldemort's magical abilities were particularly admirable, and she even had to admit that she had found him fascinating. But the regime he had put in place was cruel and unjust, and far too many people had suffered under his rule. Far too many people had died. And she resented Asma for freely assuming his regrets.

When she had started to study at the university, she had asked Asma why the magi did not intervene in the fight against Voldemort. He had replied that most of them had fought, each in their own countries, but that the magi rules prevented frontal intervention as long as Voldemort respected the Status of Secrecy, which was the historical goal of the circle of magi. She had also deduced between the lines that a good part of them, even if they did not appreciate Voldemort's rule, admired or feared the man sufficiently to avoid looking for trouble.

"I would not speak as freely if I were you Asma," a voice said behind them.

Asma and Hermione both greeted Alexandra, who was absolutely stunning in an emerald green dress.

"Are you afraid he will suddenly appear from behind a pillar Alexandra?" Asma asked mockingly.

"And why not?" the witch replied. "We all doubt that he's dead."

Hermione thought back to her broken bracelet. To Harry's missing invisibility cloak. To Severus Snape's suspicious death. To the extra wards she had casted around her apartment. To the Fidelius charm that Harry and Ginny had put on their house few days ago.

"I almost hope he'll come tonight. If he indeed managed to survive, I would really like to know how!" Asma said excitedly.

"Even if he was alive, and even if he would have decided to grace us with his despicable presence, you know perfectly well that he would not tell you anything," Alexandra replied with a touch of contempt.

"One can always dream!"

Alexandra and Hermione glare at least managed to crack Asma's smile slightly. Alexandra was one of the few magi, with Albus Dumbledore and Akinito Meiji, to have really fought against the Dark Lord. Her patience with Asma's remarks was slightly diminished due to it, even though the two were particularly close otherwise.

"You seem to be really getting along well tonight," Maria said ironically.

She had just arrived next to them, and seemed quite amused by their discussion.

"You'd better introduce Hermione to all the magi she hasn't met yet. You know very well that if Marvolo indeed is still alive, he will anyway reveal himself only if he wishes to."

The next hour, Hermione was kindly introduced to all the magi she did not know yet. In the end there was not that much remaining.

After entering the university, Asma had contacted her, taking her under his wing. She knew that he had highly recommended her to Maria and Alexandra, and Hermione had seen the three of them a lot in the recent years. Some magi were also professors at the University. Antonio Ibanez had taught her her favourite subject, spells' architecture, and she had talked a lot with him between classes. She was also more or less familiar with Dae Ho, a Korean mage who was teaching fundamental magic.

But it was the first time she met the others. Sikh Hâ, an old gnarly Indian who, according to Alexandra, was terrified of the Dark Lord for a reason no one knew. Shane Wilson, an American who seemed particularly strict. Hee Tan, a 40-year-old Chinese witch, who was the closest to Hermione in terms of age. Sekope Tupou, an Australian who was obviously angry with her for having worked against the Dark Lord. And few others.

In total there were twenty to be present. In the last five years, Voldemort, Akinito Meiji and Gellert Grindelwald had died, and only Hermione had joined the very elitist circle of magi. The conversations were particularly interesting, and all of the magi told at least one thing to Hermione that challenged her actual understanding of how magic worked. It was both frustrating and refreshing, and Hermione realized that she would be absolutely delighted to see most of the magi again to continue these discussions after the equinox.

However, unaccustomed to a magical concentration so important, she went out in the middle of the evening on one of the terraces in the hope to breath some fresh air. Despite the ice palace beneath her feet, and the snow all around, the air was not freezing, just cool, and Hermione leaned on the railing, allowing herself to relax while looking at the snow-covered trees.

"Good evening Hermione."

Hermione stilled, her whole body suddenly frozen. There was no mistaking regarding the identity of the person to whom this voice belonged. For a moment she felt as if she was not even able to breathe properly, before forcing herself to recover.

"It's not fair to hide your magic," she said in a falsely indifferent tone.

Morgana's theory or Dumbledore's shield? She had no idea what he was currently using, but it did not matter. She turned around slowly, trying to keep an expressionless face even though her whole body was preparing to fight. He was there, leaning nonchalantly against the wall, as if nothing had happened, as if five years had not passed. Her heart missed a beat when she saw that his appearance had not changed at all. Even his smirk was exactly the same.

She noticed at a glance that the doors to the ice palace were now closed behind him. They were alone on the terrace, and Hermione knew that even if the magi noticed what was going on, they would need several minutes to break his spells. And only if they thought their effort were worth it. They could be perfectly content to just watch, commentating on how Voldemort would dispose of her, until he finally killed her, and then, then they would have no other choice than to intervene.

"How is it possible?" Hermione murmured.

She could not believe that he was here, in front of her, in flesh and blood, his yew wand in his hands. She had sought him after his fall, when she had realized that she still could not remove the bracelet. She had toured the world many times in her spare time, going as far as Burma and the Amazon, without finding any trace of the Dark Lord. Even Harry had found that she was too obsessed with him, and that had been one of the reasons of her breakup with Ron.

And now he was right in front of her, looking at her sarcastically. Was he going to kill her there? In front of all the magi? And then kill them? No, even he could not oppose all the magi at the same time...

"Do you really think that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley could have defeated me Hermione?"

His voice was oozing contempt and Hermione strengthened her grip on her vine wand that had been in her hand since the exact second she had recognized his voice.

"I strongly suspected that you had survived Marvolo," she said with a tranquillity she absolutely did not feel.

It was not the first time she used his middle name. She had already discussed about him with Asma and Maria after her mage's oath, after having obtained the right, and the obligation, to be on a first name basis with the magi. But it was the first time she was addressing him directly, and the sensation was almost exhilarating. As if she had finally freed herself from the hold he had had on her.

But to Hermione's surprise the usage of his middle name did not infuriate the Dark Lord. He even seemed more satisfied if his amused smile was any indication. He took a few steps towards her, releasing his magic, and Hermione struggle not to let out a moan when she felt the intoxicating power she now realized she had missed terribly.

His smirk intensified further due to Hermione's reaction, annoying her tremendously. She no longer was the helpless little Muggle who had fallen into the Dark Lord's clutches, for Merlin's sake. She was a mage now, and if she doubted strongly about her chances to have the upper hand in a duel against him, she would not yield in front of him. He did not scare her anymore.

"Had we forgotten one of your Horcruxes?" she asked.

The Dark Lord's face reflected for a split second his anger, before he recovered and displayed only the utmost indifference. As if the fact that they had managed to destroy all his Horcruxes was not worth more than a second of anger. As if their actions had been totally insignificant. Which was at least partially the case, Hermione admitted reluctantly. After all, Voldemort seemed quite alive right now.

"I have often wondered how Severus and you had managed to destroy my diary and the cup," Voldemort said slowly, deliberately not answering her question. "And at some point I remembered your little excursion in the corridors. The way you had hidden your own magical aura in Hogwarts. And finally our discussion about it. Morgana le Fay's theory. I must admit that I have been impressed when I realized that you had understood the simplifications implied by the opposing polarities of our magical auras. And of course Severus must have taught you some rudiments of Occlumency."

He had advanced further as he spoke, and she raised her wand in front of her. It was out of the question to let him come closer. His magic was already difficult to bear with him few meters away. He just raised a mocking eyebrow at her gesture.

"You know you are not allowed to kill me anymore, don't you?"

"Do not tempt me," Hermione said firmly.

Her hand was not shaking, but deep in her chest she felt her heart beating dangerously fast due to the tension between them. He could not kill her either. Not so obviously anyway. Had he just come here to taunt her then? To frighten her? To make her live in fear until he finds a way to kill her without having the magi uniting to avenge her death?

"How did you survive?" Hermione asked to avoid thinking about her uncertain future.

"Humour me first Hermione. How did you learn that your magical polarity was the opposite of mine?"

Hermione looked back at the last days she had spent at Slytherin Castle. There were events she would never remember after having erased her own memory, even if some of them had from time to time resurfaced, triggered by a place or a word.

"Greatest Wizards Magical Auras'," she answered finally. "You had the book displayed when Asma had visited you. I looked into it, searching for Seth's amulet, and I came across a paragraph mentioning magical auras with opposite polarities. It was worth a try."

Voldemort face was thoughtful for a moment, but soon enough his insufferable smirk was back, and Hermione distinctly felt cold sweets run down her back.

"Had we forgotten one of your Horcruxes?" she asked again.

If it was indeed the case, this whole disaster would be her responsibility, as she was the one having suggested the theory of the seven soul pieces. And if it was not the case, she wanted to know how he had managed to survive to Harry and Ginny's Avada Kedavra. To know what was still maintaining him alive.

"You still have a lot to learn Hermione, Horcruxes are far from being the only way to achieve immortality."

"But how then? This legend about the deathly hallows? But you did not get the cloak until a few days ago."

Her gaze drifted for a moment to the Dark Lord's left hand.

"And you do not even wear the stone, nor do you use the wand anymore."

"I have given the Hallows back to their original owner, Hermione, and I can assure you that they are far more valuable than my Horcruxes had ever been. I am now immune from death. If right know you decided to send me an Avada Kedavra, it would have absolutely no effect."

Hermione squinted suspiciously, feeling her heart freeze. It could not be possible. If it was indeed the case, it would be a disaster. That would mean they had no chance against him. And that he was going to burn down the whole planet again and again without anyone being able to stop him.

"Even if that was true, you were not the master of the Deathly Hallows during the Battle of Hogwarts. You were still missing the cloak," she said.

And why was he freely telling her about the hallows? Why not keep the secret as he had done for the Horcruxes?

"Indeed," he replied with a smile. "And you almost stole one of them at some point, making me react far too instinctively."

She must have lowered her wand without realizing it, because he was now only a few inches away from her. She leaned deeper on the rail just behind her, trying to get away from his exhilarating magic that she had missed so much.

"So then what?" Hermione asked eagerly, focusing on the conversation rather than on their closeness. "What saved you?"

She wanted to know why they had failed. Why she was now back in front of the Dark Lord. Why she was again at the heart of his intoxicating attention.

"Seth's amulet," Voldemort revealed.

Hermione could not help her surprise to show on her face.

"Seth's amulet? But Asma and Alexandra told me it was broken. And what's the link between the amulet and cheating death?"

She had of course spoken with the two magi about this amulet, wishing to understand why Voldemort had been after it. But it had nothing to do with immortality, it was meant to borrow magic from the person wearing it if some condition linked to magical polarity were met.

"Ah, but Asma and Alexandra have never understood the true usefulness of the amulet," Voldemort said with an irritating self-satisfaction.

She suddenly had a particularly strong desire to see how much she could hurt the Dark Lord if she hit his face with her fist. At least he would lose his superior look. And he was close enough for this to work. Close enough not to have the time to avoid it. She imagined for a moment the satisfaction of seeing him flinch, but she restrained herself.

"And what does the amulet do then?" she asked, forcing herself to stay calm.

She thought for a moment that he was not going to tell her, but he just let the silence hover for a few seconds before speaking again.

"It creates a magical bridge between two wizards of opposite polarity. When the bridge is established, if any fatal curse lands on the first person, his magic will temporarily find refuge in the magic of the other, leaving only the body in a state of clinical death. And then the magic will come back to revive him. It is so fast it is not even visible to the naked eye."

"But you completely disappeared that day," Hermione pointed out.

"It takes five years for the bridge to work properly. Before, the result tends to have some unwanted side effects," he said in a slightly pinched tone.

Hermione let out an indignant cry as she understood.

"Five years? It's the link with my magic that saved your life? My magic?"

Satisfaction oozed from the Dark Lord.


He leaned towards her saying that, and Hermione moved slightly to the side, putting some distance between them. She took out of her pocket the white gold bracelet she had kept near her for the last few days, as if it had had the power to trigger a catastrophe if she had not kept a close eye on it.

"Seth's amulet is inside?" she asked, examining it carefully.

"Not anymore," the Dark Lord replied.

He took the bracelet from her hand.

"The amulet is consumed by the enchantments," he explained. "At the end of the five years, nothing of it remains."

"I guess it was not the original one then."

"No, indeed. But the amulet itself is almost impossible to create. It must contain a feather of Horus in its falcon form. The one that has just been consumed in this bracelet was the last known, and if it survived so long, it is only because the wizard who had tried to create this amulet was an incompetent idiot who did not understand in the least the needed charms, and thus confused generations of wizards about the amulet real powers."

"How is it possible that you were the only one to understand the real properties?"

How was it possible that Asma and Alexandra had missed those specificities? They had studied the amulet for years. If they had knew, they would for sure have done something about it. After all, during the last five years Voldemort would have probably died if she was herself killed.

"Seth has written most of his works in Parseltongue."

He gave her back the bracelet, and Hermione carefully slipped it in her pocket, feeling quite resigned. She now knew why he had still not killed her. And she even knew why he was here. If she was the one protecting him from death, he would undoubtedly want to hide her somewhere. By reflex, she tightened her grip on her wand. What if they both died in an explosion? Would it work? Maybe she could give it a try. But there was another issue.

"If this amulet works so well, why were you so interested in the Deathly Hallows?" she asked.

He remained silent, and simply raised an eyebrow.

"There are some flaws, aren't there? Are the amulet powers usable only once? Or only to a certain extent? Or the fact that you could still die if we die together? Is that why you had not publicly reappeared before securing the Deathly Hallows? Because you knew that I will be ready to sacrifice myself to kill both of us? But the Deathly Hallows' powers must also have some loopholes… Otherwise it would be contrary to the magical equilibrium law as stated by Ptolemy…"

Voldemort was looking at her with visible amusement.

"What?" she asked irritably.

It was a really interesting problem. And she needed to understand what was at work here if she wanted to be able to stop him. And she knew that she was still missing something…

"What are you doing here tonight Marvolo?" she asked. "And what have you been doing for the past five years?"

"I stayed at Slytherin Castle the first months, when my magic was too unstable. Then I travelled to reconstruct the ritual allowing to return the Deathly Hallows to Death itself. It is quite complex as you may suspect. As for my presence tonight..."

He made a vague gesture towards the still closed doors leading to the reception, and Hermione's blood froze.

"No," she whispered. "No, I will not let you kill the magi!"

Once again she firmly pointed her wand at the Dark Lord, and in a fluid movement placed herself between him and the closed doors.

"Really? You're far from being a match for me in a duel Hermione. And I am immortal."

"But I am too, aren't I?" Hermione understood. "If the legend is correct, then the relics identify a person per its magic. And if there is a bridge from your magic to mine, then the relics would have also made me immortal."

And that was why he was there. Not because she protected his immortality. But because she was now the only one who could in fact be a match for him. Or at least become at some point a match to him. Of course he would want to control her, to restrain her.

Voldemort looked at her with that amusement that had not left him since the beginning.

"I just want to greet the magi Hermione. After all, that's what the equinox soiree is for, isn't it?"

"I don't believe you," she replied, her wand still lifted in his direction.

"Even if I cannot die, the magi could still out power me, and potentially lock me somewhere. I will rather kill them discreetly one by one."

"By waiting for them in the darkest corner of their potion lab for example?" Hermione said aggressively.

"Severus was a traitor Hermione, and he knew I may come back and kill him one day. You should be grateful that I recovered the invisibility cloak without killing your precious friends."

And here she imagined him, entering Harry's and Ginny's home, and nonchalantly killing her friends with a simple wand movement, without even stopping in his tracks.

"I won't let you kill them."

"I am not planning to."

"No? Really?" she said sarcastically.

He did not answer and Hermione's annoyance rose.

"So what do you want then Marvolo? Why are you here tonight?"

The Dark Lord approached her, as if she was not aiming her wand strait at him, and she finally lowered it. What was the use anyway if none of them could kill the other? And he was absolutely right: her duelling abilities were still pretty far from Voldemort's.

"I want you to come with me."

Hermione exhaled loudly. She had been right. But why had he decided to approach her during the equinox, with all the magi nearby? If he wanted to abduct her, he could have done it much more discreetly.

"No," she stated firmly.

"I could show you a beautiful library on Amazonian magic in the centre of Brazil, even if everyone considers it lost. I know where the Lygoravetlat scrolls are. And I have found the Ark of Samarkand. Is that enough to interest you?"

Hermione could not deny that her curiosity was picked. Even more than picked. The Ark of Samarkand was legendary. The scrolls of the Lygoravetlat were supposed to describe a very particular approach to spells' architecture. And Amazonian magics had fascinated Hermione since the first course she had had about them at the University. And the fact that he visibly knew that very well was quite worrying.

Was it his way of trying to deceive her? By making her believe that he needed her for his research? That he offered to share his knowledge with her? She reminiscently remembered that according to the legend the Ark of Samarkand could only be activated by two wizards with opposite magical polarities. She could almost believe that was just why he needed her.

She tried to read his expression, but she knew there was absolutely no chance for her to know his real thoughts beyond his controlled composure. Still, there was one certain thing. Even though he seemed now satisfied to discover and explore new forms of magic, he would try to regain power sooner or later.

"No, not in the least," she answered. "You are not fooling me Marvolo. How long before you launch a new conquest? A few months, the time to deceive me? A few years, after everyone has really started to finally feel safe?"

"A few years, probably," Voldemort replied indifferently.

"I will find a way to stop you. There is necessarily a loophole, even with both Seth's amulet and the Deathly Hallows. Even if you imprison me somewhere, even if it takes me decades, I will find a way to stop you."

She had tried to put in her voice more conviction than she had and they stood face to face a few moments before Voldemort turned away abruptly.

"I do not intend to reconquer my kingdom in a bloodbath, Hermione," he said with a touch of exasperation. "Otherwise it would already be done. I have little interest in spending all my days trying to govern a bunch of morons who cannot even calm a few revolts."

"Disappointed to see how quickly your empire has collapsed after your death?" Hermione could not help but taunt.

"Fortunately, I cannot die anymore," Voldemort replied with satisfaction. "I could even try to do a comparative study of the different ways of establishing a dictatorship."

This time it was Hermione who looked at him with exasperation. But it did not even surprise her that he could treat the fate of millions of people so carelessly.

"And assuming you haven't lied, what are you planning to do? Explore different magical ruins, gathering each time squads of aurors as soon as a wizard notices you? And what will you do then; kill all the witnesses until there are no more wizards left alive?'

"Your lack of confidence is saddening me, Hermione," he replied sarcastically. "I am perfectly able to go everywhere without being noticed. After all, I was at the beautiful ceremony in honour of my death and neither Maria, nor Alexandra, nor Asma, nor you had noticed me."

Hermione could not stop a strangled cry when she understood a posteriori that Voldemort had been at Hogwarts during the five years anniversary of his own death. Quite satisfied with her reaction, Voldemort moved closer to her again and held out his arm elegantly.

"Shall we?" he asked.

"I don't…"

"Hermione, Hermione, how do you plan to stop me if you do not even come with me?"

With a frustrated sigh, Hermione put her arm on the Dark Lord's. Her magic buzzed under the touch, and a strange feeling of contentment filled her, despite all the efforts she made to be angry with him.

With a lazy gesture, he reopened the doors of the terrace, and he guided her gallantly inside. She had to find a solution to protect the world from his return. But in the meantime…

"The Ark of Samarkand, really?" she could not help asking.


It was the end of the equinox soiree, and Marvolo and Hermione had just left. Together. Only Maria, Asma and Alexandra remained on the marble path in front of the ice palace, which was slowly disappearing into nothingness. Even Sondre had disappeared a few minutes earlier in the surrounding forest.

"You owe me a hundred Galleons, Maria," Asma said.

"It would seem so indeed," Maria replied, rummaging through the pockets of her dress.

Alexandra cast a scandalous glance at the other two magi.

"Did you bet on his presence? You knew where he was for the last five years?" she exclaimed.

"No, no, not at all," Asma said jovially. "The bet was about his reaction if he reappeared. Maria had bet that..."

"I had bet there would be at least one exchange of spells," Maria interrupted. "I guess Hermione has become more mature than what I had imagined. Or perhaps Marvolo had finally learned few things about temperance…"

Alexandra sighed with annoyance. How could they be so calm when it was now certain that Marvolo was back? Especially a Marvolo as visibly satisfied as he had been tonight?

"Where are they now?" she asked.

"No idea," Asma replied. "But I'm sure we'll hear from them soon. I think they were talking about the Ark of Samarkand at some point, and if they manage to activate it without killing each other, I hope they will share their knowledge!"

"Not a chance in hell that Marvolo will share anything," Alexandra said scornfully.

"But Hermione may," Asma replied with a hint of hope in his voice.

They remained silent for a moment, before Alexandra spoke again.

"Doesn't it scare you, then, that he's trying to regain power again? We were not even able to talk to Hermione alone for the rest of the evening; he stayed with her all night."

Neither Asma nor Maria answered and Alexandra also remained silent. After all, like the others, she knew that when he would start again to conquer the wizarding world, Marvolo would surely be even harder to stop than the previous time.

"She will need a lot of selflessness to endure him day by day," she finally said with a sigh.


When the Apparition sensation stopped, Hermione immediately realized that they were at Slytherin Castle. She had lived many months surrounded by the ancestral magic that flowed inside, even if she had not been there for five years. She noticed from the corner of her eye huge sculptures of marble snakes, with emerald eyes, and realized that they must be in the entrance hall.

"A little ostentatious, isn't it?" she said to hide her nervousness.

The Dark Lord smirked at her and Hermione shook her head. There were countless problems that needed to be dealt with urgently. Warn Harry and others. Undertake extensive research about Seth's amulet and the Deathly Hallows. Find the third way Voldemort had probably used to protect his immortality, even if he had not mentioned it.

If she had followed him, it was mainly not to lose his track. So that he did not disappear again. Or at least, that was what she wanted to believe. She was feeling both anxious and eager to be alone with him, but she could not delve into this right now.

"Marvolo, I..." she began.

He did not let her finish, taking possession of her lips, preventing her from recoiling by wrapping his arms around her. But it was useless, as, as soon as their lips touched, nothing else mattered for Hermione. All she could feel and think about was the sudden surge of heat in her body. Blankness seemed to have replaced any coherent thought she could have had, and Hermione lost herself in this burning desire that had remained unfulfilled for five years. And she realized that neither the year she had spent with Ron, nor her brief romances with other students at the University had even slightly appeased this want that was now consuming her.

She tried to put her hands on the Dark Lord's back, but the next moment he slammed her against one of the walls, trapping her hands over her head, and Hermione let out a nervous laugh. Of course he would need to feel like he was the one in control. Even in this context. Breaking their kiss, he move his head back just enough to cast her a disapproving look.

She knew she had to push him away. Cast all the spells she knew at him and try to run away. Or even try her luck and challenge him to a duel right now, hoping to beat him. But here, alone with him, she just smiled mockingly at him before bending her head and filling on her own the few centimetres separating them.

Slowly, she kissed the upper lip of the Dark Lord, then his lower lip, putting all the sweetness she was capable of into it, taking advantage of his surprise to explore with pleasure his mouth. But he quickly regained control, pressing her harder against the wall, painfully accentuating the pressure on her arms, again dominating their kiss. Hermione's legs shook and she felt dizzy. She had the impression that if he had not held her, she would have already collapsed on the floor.

Then he stopped and she could not hold back a frustrated moan, making the Dark lord's face become complacent. She wanted to retort something, though she did not know what, but she had barely opened her mouth that he was kissing her neck, lasciviously wrapping his magic around her at the same time, and her protests turned into a another moan. She tilted her head slightly, offering her neck more freely, knowing that she wanted him as much as he wanted her, and that if they did not give up now it would only worsen the situation.

Voldemort's magic became even more present around her and her body began to burn with a fierce envy she had not felt for any other man. She finally knew that he was still a threat to the entire wizarding population. That he was still alive and even more powerful than before. But for the moment they were detached from the outer world, alone at Slytherin Castle, and all she felt was the intoxicating satisfaction of having him only for her.

Without stopping his kiss, he released her hands, but before she could even bring them back against her, she felt the familiar sensation of Apparition. Hermione had never been in the room they Apparated to, and she moved slightly away from him to have a look at it. It was a large room, luxuriously decorated in green tones, with a magnificent view on the surrounding park. She raised an inquiring eyebrow.

"The master bedroom, should I feel rather honoured or scared?"

But the only answer he had was a smirk, and without giving her more time to look around, he pushed her on the bed.

"Hey!" she said in a half amused, half reproachful tone, surprised to find herself suddenly lying in front of him.

She tried to get up but Voldemort was already over her, overlooking her, and her heart started beating far too fast.

"Problem, Hermione?" he asked.

Then he made a quick gesture with his hand and she felt her dress vanish, leaving her in underwear in front of him.

"Let me lead the dance Hermione, it will only be better," he added when she was going to protest again.

"Your presumption really only equals... your... ah!"

But she was not able to finish her thoughts, because he had at the same time moved one of his hands in an aerial caress along her body that was far too pleasurable.

"Exactly," the Dark Lord said with smugness.

She had to admit that he was devilishly good, playing with his magic as well as with his hands, and that she did indeed have only one desire, let him lead. She was even certain that most of the women would have pledge their loyalty to him just to have sex with him once. But she was not one of those meek women.

Instead of answering him, she moved briskly, rolling him beside her with the help of her magic, and she found herself on him, a victorious smile on her lips. He raised a haughty eyebrow, before very visibly detailing her body, making her blush furiously. As if even below her, he was the one controlling everything.

She was a bookworm, not one of those young girls who twined the boys around their fingers as easily as the locks of their hair. She knew she was far from being a Veela, and it was not usually on her that the boys turned when she went out with Ginny and the other girls. But she was not going to be embarrassed by the Dark Lord. Not by him.

Hermione lifted her right hand, and using the same spell as he had before, she slowly removed his robe, detailing his perfect torso in the same way he had detailed her, even managing to pretend to be disinterested. This time, it was the Dark Lord who let out a slightly mocking laugh.

"What, aren't I good enough?" she asked with false indignation.

He put one of his hands on her back and the other in her hair, and drew her to him. He kissed her passionately again and she realized that the contact of their bare skin against each other was absolutely electrifying. She did not notice that he was moving before she found herself again immobilized under him. He stared at her. This time, there was no more trace of fun in his gaze but only desire, and Hermione suddenly felt way too hot.

He gently caressed her belly and her hips and Hermione moaned softly at his touch. She felt her bra disappear and she brought her hands to cover her breasts in a gesture she knew to be ridiculous. The Dark Lord grabbed her wrists and pushed her arms aside resolutely, exposing her chest to his eyes.

He just stared at her for a few seconds, revelling in her flushed cheeks, before starting to caress her chest. Hermione felt like she was losing her mind. She did not know if it was his magic, or simply the man himself, but the sensations she felt carried her away. She moaned again and unconsciously arched her back.

She wanted to touch him again, to run her hands through his hair, to bring him closer so she could kiss him, but she was not able to move her arms. She smirked at the realization that he had placed a binding spell on her hands, not in the least surprised by the Dark Lord's desire to control everything – again.

Then she was lost in the feeling of his hands on her body. She closed her eyes, focussing more and more on his less and less innocent caresses. When for the first time his hands passed between her legs she arched her back abruptly, letting out a moan that was almost a cry, and she hardly realized that she was now completely naked.

She opened her eyes again, and his gaze rested on her with smugness. He continued his touching, and Hermione had to fight to gather her thoughts, but she was able to concentrate long enough to manipulate her magic, making it caress his body as he was caressing hers, and finally landing an aerial caress on his intimacy. He managed to banish any surprise from his face, but she felt his body stiffen and she looked at him with the same smugness he had previously shown, while starting again with a deliberate slowness.

The swirling magic that overwhelmed her in return made her switch off everything except this marvellous feeling, and her thoughts were totally disordered for a few seconds before she regained her composure. She already wanted him far too badly, and by observing his naked body she could see that his desire matched hers.

He spread her legs gently, and not to let him completely dominate the situation, she invited him with a malicious look, keeping her eyes riveted in his until he was just against her.

"I hope that Lord Voldemort lives up to his reputation," she said.

"Are you still doubting it?" he answered with a smirk.

She shivered and he kissed her slightly, almost tenderly, before slowly pushing between her tights. She had never felt so good. The tension of these last days, of this last evening had gone away, taking with it her reticence, creating an ephemeral bubble of a pleasure which was only better due to its limited existence.

He then began to move and Hermione stirred slightly to increase contact between them. She felt his skin against hers. His magic against hers. And she almost could feel the bridge between their two magics, the bond that kept them both immortal, that kept both of them apart from everyone else.

When he increased the pace, she was no longer able to think coherently. There was no longer anything apart the sensations that he made her feel, his legs between hers, his magic electrifying hers as he accelerated his pace. Somewhere in the middle of this, she managed to free her hands with the brute force of her will. She raised her arms and pulled him closer to her. He yielded at her request, and when she felt his body pressed firmly against hers, she closed her eyes to focus only on what she felt.

They moved perfectly in rhythm, feeling what the other felt through their magics, knowing instinctively how to increase their mutual pleasure. When the orgasm reached them at the same time, Hermione did not know anymore where she was or who she was. She just knew that she had never experienced this, and that of all the times she had made love, it had never been so perfect.

They remained entwined for a moment, Hermione half stuck under the Dark Lord's body, before he moved and laid down next to her. Her mind still confused, Hermione kept a moment her eyes closed to enjoy a little longer of these sensations.

Then she sat up with a sigh, wanting to leave before he threw her out. Immediately, the Dark Lord's arms wrapped around her, bringing her sharply against him.

"Stay here," he ordered in a tone that did not admit any refusal.

Hermione laughed slightly, and she immediately felt far warmer inside.

"It doesn't matter, you know. I won't cease to try to stop you," she said seriously.

"I'll be disappointed if you do."

The balance between them was particularly unstable.

He needed to have her with him. To keep her in plain view, to activate the Ark of Samarkand, and perhaps because somehow, she was the only one whose presence he tolerated.

And she needed to have him with her. To prevent him from regaining power, to profit from his endless knowledge, and perhaps because somehow she had never felt as alive as since he had returned.


AN: The end :)

I hope you enjoyed this epilogue and that it answered all your questions.

Feel free to add my profile in your alerts if you are interested in any other stories I may post (I have few on my mind, all around LV and HG).

And if you want to leave a review for this story, this is your last chance :)

I wish you all a nice day,