A/N: And we're back! Now you all get to find out whom the dude is! So without further ado, on with the show!!!

~Chapter 22~

Eleven wands were pointed at the figure that just stood there not moving, his face a mere shadow under his hood.

"Is that—"Cho started.

"No," Harry interrupted already knowing where her thoughts were going. "My scar isn't hurting." Knowing that their captor wasn't Voldemort was some relief letting Harry's mind turn to the current problem of getting the students safely back to the castle.

The object of their predicament started speaking again, "I knew that all I needed to do to get you out here was to snatch one of these wretched students. That's always the sort of thing that got your little heroic hearts all a flutter." He stepped forward in Draco's direction, "However, I didn't expect that all of you would be running into the forest to save this pitiful little Mudblood's life."

Emily's hand tightened around her wand at the use of such a foul name in association with her family. Chest heaving she took a step forward not really knowing what she would do. Hermione stood in front of Emily keeping her back giving her a sympathetic look, knowing full well how it felt to be called that horrible name. Still she couldn't allow Emily's anger to get the best of her in this situation, they still didn't know what they were up against.

"It's just as well that the rest of you are here," he continued, "it saves me the trouble of having to hunt you down."

"What do you want with us?" Harry demanded.

"Why to kill you of course, especially you Mr. Potter," he said turning in Harry's direction. "You have been a thorn in my side long enough. No more. After today, you will be nothing but a unpleasant memory."

"Who are you?" Ginny asked.

The hooded man laughed, "Haven't you figured it out by now?" He turned to look in Draco's direction again. "No ideas?"

Draco was looking at the ground where he had been looking since the hooded man started talking. His heart was beating in painful lurches at the truth that was in front of him. Somehow he knew it might come down to this, but had been hoping against it.

"Father?" he asked still hoping the impossible.

Everyone's eyes snapped to Draco as the man before them laughed a cruel heartless laugh. A pale hand reached out of the robe and pulled back the hood revealing Lucius Malfoy's face.

"Very good, Son," he said. "I was almost beginning to think that you'd forgotten your dear old father." His smirk faded into a contemptuous sneer, "Of course, it has been three years without any word so there's still some question there."

"What the hell is going on here?" Ron demanded.

Lucius' cold gray eyes snapped to Ron, "Temper, temper, Weasley. I'll get to you momentarily."

Things didn't look good at the moment and Harry didn't want his students to be around if it came down to battling Lucius. He turned to Parvati, "Get those kids out of here."

Parvati nodded her head and was about to comply when Lucius produced a wand from out of nowhere and called out, "Obrigatorio!" Everyone's wands fell to the ground as their arms were fastened behind them and they fell to their knees as their ankles were bound together as well.

"I believe I said no one was going anywhere," Lucius repeated.

"How many of you are out here?" Draco asked his father. He was trying to think of a way to get everyone out of here safely, but first they needed to know how many followers his father had with him.

"How many of us?" Lucius asked. "Oh you mean Death Eaters. It's just me, but don't worry, I can handle you meddlesome kids alone."

Draco looked confused for a moment, "Where is Voldemort?"

His father started laughing again. "Where is Voldemort?" he repeated. "Where is Voldemort? What a fantastic question. There is no more Voldemort," he said his face becoming gravely serious again. "It turns out this miserable boy actually defeated him," he said turning on Harry.

He knelt in front of Harry, "That must make you feel so proud doesn't it, Potter. You actually defeated the greatest Sorcerer that ever lived."

"Albus Dumbledore was the greatest Sorcerer that ever lived," Harry replied defiantly.

The back of Lucius' hand came down hard across Harry's face. Harry's face flung to the side and he quickly snapped it back to glare at Lucius, an angry red mark already showing on his face. Lucius ran his hand through his pale blonde hair, "See that was always your problem, Potter, you never knew when to keep your filthy mouth shut."

Lucius stood up again and continued with his story. "I had spent two years searching high and low for the Dark Lord to no avail, he was really gone. At the end of my search I thought that perhaps it was best that Voldemort was gone. I mean if he couldn't even stand up to this ridiculous boy then what hope was there that he would ever be able to lead the rest of us in a new world. Maybe it was his horrible Muggle father's blood that made him so incompetent."

"After that let down I began thinking and had an epiphany. I thought who better to lead the new future of Pureblood wizarding than an actual Pureblood. I took my idea to some of my old cohorts but they rejected me. They said that without Voldemort it was useless. It was his name that struck fear into the hearts of others," Lucius was growing steadily angrier.

"Imagine that, I had to prove myself to the old Death Eaters. Me! Voldemort's right hand! I knew I'd show them all, and then when I was in charge I'd make them all suffer! So I arranged a little demonstration."

"It was you . . . that day in Hogsmeade!" Hermione surmised.

Lucius turned to her, "Very good, Mudblood. You always were the quick one." Hermione glared at him as he continued with his story. "I should have killed you two when I had the chance, but I just wanted to show that I had the daring to go right up to where you are and take the chance. I needed to prove that to everyone. It was nothing to keep it out of the Daily Prophet seeing as how Fudge is still so easy to manipulate."

Ron gave a disgusted snort, "That stupid prat."

"As a Weasley you could never understand, but the truth is that if you line someone's pocket with enough Galleons they'll pretty much do whatever you want them to do." Lucius stopped and shook his head, "But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Before Hogsmeade and before going to see old allies, there was one person I went to go see. The one person that I thought above all others would back me one hundred percent. My son."

"You never came to see me," Draco countered.

For the briefest moment a look of hurt passed through Lucius' eyes but was gone just as quickly as it was there. "Oh I came to see you. The sad truth is that I was too humiliated to actually seek you out." Lucius came and stood right in front of his son. "Imagine my shock and embarrassment when I learned that my son, a Malfoy, had married a repulsive, disgusting, horrible Mudblood!"

All eyes turned to Draco again as his father laid out the details of Draco's past. "And on top of that, you had a miserable Half blood baby with her! Before I left I knew that you had a thing for that girl, but I thought once you had her you have gotten it out of your system and move on. Instead you marry her and sully the Malfoy name. You disgusted me, Son."

Tears were glistening in Draco's eyes, "I won't apologize for Alison or Bethany. If you had taken the time to get to know them—"

"Get to know them," Lucius guffawed, "You can't be serious. You dishonored your family and you actually wanted approval. No, that would never have happened. I only wish that I had been around to put a stop to all that rubbish before you had actually tarnished the Malfoy blood line."

"Do not talk about my wife and daughter that way!" Draco yelled at his father.

"At least I was able to do something about the situation before I had to go again. I gave you a second chance to live your life correctly."

It took Draco a minute for what his father was saying to register in his head. "No," he whispered, "The fire...that was you?"

"I had to purify the line," Lucius said offhandedly.

"No!" Draco screamed, agony raking through him. He couldn't believe what his father was telling him, how could his very own father actually have killed his wife and daughter; two people who had meant more to Draco than anyone else had.

Ginny was crying silently next to Draco, she wished she could wrap her arms around him to give him comfort. How could his father have been so cruel as to take away his happiness?

"Cut the dramatics," Lucius said, "What I did, I did for you, to give you a second chance. Of course what did you do with that? You came here to this school to teach with Muggle lovers and Mudbloods. Honestly, Draco, did I teach you nothing?" Lucius asked with honest disappointment in his voice.

"But I'm here to give you one last chance to embrace your birthright. To take your place by my side and live up to your proper potential."

"No Draco!" Ginny said from next to him. "Remember, you're your own person!"

Lucius glared at Ginny, "I think we've had enough from the rest of our guests." He pulled his wand out again, "Nocturno!"

Draco looked around as the rest of his companions fell to the ground in a deep sleep. Lucius turned his wand on Draco and said, "Libere!" a moment before Draco's hands and legs went free. He stood slowly in front of his father, still a bit wary of what was going on.

"What do you want from me?" he asked.

"I want you to prove yourself to me." He pointed his wand at Ginny, "Diurno!" Ginny's eyes opened and Lucius pointed his wand at her again pulling her back up to a kneeling position.

"What are you doing?" Draco asked stepping in between his father and Ginny.

Lucius smiled at his son, "It's not what I'm doing, it's what you're going to do. You're going to kill her."

"What?" Draco asked panic filling him. "Father no! Look you need some help. Please let me get you the help you need."

Lucius laughed without any real mirth, "And what kind of help would that be, Son? A nice room at St. Mungo's until a Dementor can come and give me that blasted kiss? No thank you. But if you really feel that way, then I'm afraid you're going to share in the same fate as your friends. Starting with the youngest Weasley here."

Lucius raised his wand again. "Father please, stop!"

Lucius looked at his son again, realization finally dawning on him. "Oh, Draco, a Weasley, honestly? I guess I should just be glad that she's a Pureblood. At least it's a step up from the last one." Draco tensed at his father's words but didn't say anything. He had to keep his cool if he didn't want Ginny to get hurt.

"Father let's just leave here. I'll go with you, we can go anywhere else."

"Don't you understand, Draco? I have to do this. I'm building you a legacy. What I do here I do for the future of all Purebloods." He sidestepped his son with his wand pointed at Ginny, "Crucio!"

Ginny started withering in pain as the Cruciatus Curse hit her. "No!" Draco yelled at his father.

"You have to choose, Son. What's it going to be?"

"Stop I'll do it!" Draco immediately removed the curse from Ginny and her small body fell to the ground. Draco rushed over to her and picked her head up and placed in his lap. "Ginny, Ginny wake up." Here eyes fluttered open, her body still spasming in pain. "I'm sorry, Ginny."

"Don't apologize for what you have to do, Draco. Think of the future and what your actions will bring around," he father said behind him.

"You're right," Draco said straightening.

This really was a no win situation for him. His father would never leave him alone if he didn't submit to his will. The only way he would have a normal life was to do what his father said, he had to think of the future. Besides, his father had made it abundantly clear that if he didn't approve of his son's choices he would remedy the situation in his own cold and sinister way. Bending down he placed a kiss on Ginny's lips, "I'm sorry," he said again and stood up.

He walked over to where his wand had fallen before and picked it up. Standing between his father and Ginny he pointed his wand.

"Wait," said his father, "I think that everyone should see you reclaim your birthright. Diurno!" he called out waking the others, including Franklin. With his wand he raised them all to their knees as he had done with Ginny. "Good, everyone is up. You're all privileged to bear witness to this auspicious occasion! Starting with the death of this Weasley, we will build a new wizarding world. Unfortunately, none of you will be around to see it."

Ron started struggling against his restraints, "You rat bastard! Don't you dare! I'll kill you Malfoy!"

"Enough! You'll be with your sister soon enough Mr. Weasley." Lucius said. "Go ahead, Draco."

Ginny still lay on the ground hey brown eyes staring at Draco. She didn't look at him with anger or censure; she had a look of understanding. Draco's throat tightened at the sight. He held up his wand and took a deep breath. "Avada..."

Lucius' eyes twinkled as his son's wand rose higher, "Yes...do it."

In the next instant Draco's wand came down but it wasn't pointed at Ginny, "Kedavra!" he finished the spell hurtling it at his father. His father's eyes flashed with real surprise just seconds before the spell hit him and he collapsed to the floor.

Pointing his wand at the others he called out, "Libere!" before running back to Ginny's side. Some of her strength had come back to her and she was able to push up to sitting position by the time he reached her. He sat next to her and she threw her arms around him.

"Your father,"she started.

"Shh," Draco said cradling her head to his shoulder, "Don't think about that now."

After checking on Ginny and Franklin, Ron and Harry had gone over to Lucius and took his wand away from him. "I can't believe he killed his own father," Ron whispered.

"It was what he had to do," Harry whispered back.

"I just don't know what to say," Ron told him.

"Let's get everyone back to the castle," Harry said.

The students were all well enough to walk back and even though Ginny insisted that she'd be alright, Draco ignored her and picked her up in his arms, partly because he wanted her to conserve her strength and partly because he wanted to have her close to him to know that she was really there with him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held tight the whole way back to the castle.

~~~

Madame Pomfrey wanted Ginny to stay in the hospital wing for at least a night to make sure she fully recovered but Ginny would hear nothing of it. Draco had left right after leaving her there and she hadn't seen him since. She wanted to go be there to comfort him when he needed it.

Leaving the hospital wing she went straight to Draco's room. Myra didn't waste time in letting her enter. His room was completely dark and Draco was lying on his bed holding the picture of his wife and daughter to his chest.

She walked to his bed and climbed in with him. He put out his arm to bring her to his side. "You really should have stayed with Madame Pomfrey over night," he told her.

"I couldn't leave you alone tonight," she told him nestling closer. "What are you going to tell your mother?"

Draco sighed thinking about the letter he had owled to his mother shortly after their arriving back at the castle. He and his mother hadn't spoken in some years either as she had shared his father's view of mixed blood marriages. After Alison had died and his mother hadn't made any attempt with him, he just wrote her off as well. "I told her the truth when I wrote her."

"Were your parents close?" Ginny asked running her hands up and down Draco's chest in a comforting manner.

"Yes. My father may have been cold and uncaring in some respects but when it came to my mother he loved her very much."

"I know this is a stupid question, but how are you feeling?" she asked.

Draco sighed again, "Relieved."

Ginny propped her head up surprised to hear him say that, "Relieved?"

"At least I know now that it's really over. My father will never cause pain to those I care about again," he told her.

Ginny's small hand caressed his face, "It was such a tough spot for you to be in."

"I made the right decision," he stated resolutely. "Not that he left me with much of a choice. But I couldn't let him take joy away from me twice. When he confessed to what he'd done...he wasn't my father anymore. He gave me all the vindication I needed when he told me not to be sorry for what I was going to do, but to think of the future it will bring me."

He sat up bringing her with him. He placed the picture of his family aside reverently. "You are my future Ginny. You were what I thought of. I want to have a life with you. After Alison, I thought that future happiness was hopeless. I came here hoping to escape that and instead I found you. The very last thing I wanted and the only thing I can't live without. I want you to be my family now Ginny, I think you have been for some time, but I want to make it official."

Ginny looked at him, tears slipping down her cheeks, "Draco, I don't want you to feel that you have to do this. I don't want you to give anymore than you're ready for."

He gently wiped the tears from her cheeks and looked deeply into her eyes, "Do you really think that these are idle statements Ginny?"

"I know they are not, and that's why I don't want you to make them after such a overwhelming day."

He smiled at her, "Are you trying to say that my brain might be muddled?"

She smiled back, "Why I would never imply such a thing!" Her expression turned serious, "I just don't want you to make any rash decisions."

"I've never been more serious in my life," he replied equally serious.

"Oh my God!" Ginny exclaimed, "I'm going to be Mrs. Virginia Malfoy!"

"It does have a nice ring to it." Draco said bringing her close to kiss her. Her response was quick and she brought her hands up in his hair. She got to her knees and moved over to sit on his lap. She started pulling his shirt up over his head and then moving to remove hers. As she reached behind her to unhook her bra, Draco grabbed her hands to stop her.

"Are you sure you're feeling up to this?" he asked still wanting to make sure that she would recover completely from the events of that afternoon.

She wrapped her arms around him bringing their bodies close, Draco's arms went around her waist and then up and down the exposed skin of her back. "Oh yes," she assured him, a lump rising in her throat at the look of concern in his eyes.

"Good," he said leaning her back and pressing her into his bed, "because after today, I don't think I can let you go."

She wrapped her legs around his waist, "Nobody's asking you to," she told him as she brought his mouth down to hers.

~~~

The next day before breakfast, Ginny and Draco decided to announce their news to their friends. "Congratulations!" Hermione said as she and the rest of the girls led Ginny away to discuss wedding preparations in much the same way they had done to Hermione when she and Ron had announced their engagement.

"Why do girls get like that?" Neville asked as he watched them squeal in delight over hairstyles and gown designs.

"I think it's something genetic," Harry suggested.

Ron shook his head and turned his attention to Draco. "I owe you an apology," he said.

Draco put up his hand and shook his head, "As much as I would love to hear this, it's not necessary, Weasley."

"No, it is. You saved my sister's life as well as all of ours." Ron looked down and his face was slightly pink, "Thank you," he said putting his hand out toward Draco. Draco took the offered hand in his. He certainly had no idea what was going on. "My sister is lucky to have a guy like you," Ron added as he pulled his hand back.

Draco's mouth fell open. Now he knew that this family was crazy. Ron was actually approving of him, just what was going on. Just then Ginny came back over to them and wrapped her arms around his, "Are you boys behaving over here?" Draco numbly nodded his head and when the others left to go eat he told her what happened with her brother. "Well, we Weasley's are fiercely loyal. What you did out there yesterday has made you forever indebted to my family."

"As long as you're still with me, your family's debt is paid in full," he said pulling her into a hug. She smiled radiantly at him and tipped her face up for his kiss.

Classes had been canceled until further notice so that McGonagall could go to the Ministry of Magic directly and deal with the Fudge problem herself. It was a few days later that they got notice that she would be returning the next morning and would join them in the staff lounge for breakfast.

About fifteen minutes after they had all arrived McGonagall swept into the room. "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting." With a heavy sigh she sat at the table. "Well, there is so much to tell you that I don't know where to begin." She glanced over to where Ginny and Draco were sitting and gave them a smile, "I do hear, however, that felicitations are once again in order?" The young couple gave her a smile of thanks before she moved on again.

"I guess I should begin with Fudge," she said. "Well, you'll all be happy to know that he is no longer the Minister of Magic. He was removed. Needless to say that everyone was more than just a little surprised to find out that he was on Lucius Malfoy's payroll and covering up important information for him." Draco shifted uncomfortably in his seat and Ginny took his hand in hers giving it a reassuring squeeze. "He'll be warming a cell in Azkaban for some time," she finished.

"After his removal the board immediately went into a vote to choose a new Minister of Magic." McGonagall stood up and began pacing the room. "I...I was chosen to be the new Minister of Magic."

The teachers all looked at each other for a moment before offering up their congratulations to McGonagall.

"So who's going to be the new Headmaster here?" Cho asked.

"Well, that leads me to my next topic of conversation," McGonagall said. "You'll all remember the seminars the teachers were sent to at the beginning of the year. It's the reason I was able to ask you all to come here." She waited as the others shook their heads in acknowledgement before continuing, "Those seminars were to prepare them to teach at the new university that is being opened up in association with Hogwarts."

Everyone looked at each other still not understanding what was going on. "The old teachers are not coming back," McGonagall clarified. "Well, all except Hagrid. He decided that he didn't want to be anywhere but Hogwarts and will be coming back at the end of the school year." They were still staring at her not really sure what to think, "The positions are yours if you want them." Everyone started talking all at once.

"Wow, we can stay!"

"Oh my God!"

"Thank God, I had no idea what I was going to do next."

"Wait a minute," Ron said, "If Hagrid comes back then that closes the Care of Magical Creatures position. Where does that leave me?"

"Actually Mr. Weasley, you'll be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts," she told him.

Harry's head snapped to her as Ron spoke again, "What? But that's Harry's position, what about him?"

"There was one concession that I made before accepting the Minister of Magic position. I told them that I would only agree to it if Harry were made the new Headmaster of Hogwarts. Unbelievably, they agreed."

Harry's mouth fell open as Ron and Draco leaned over to clap him on the back and Neville reached across the table to shake his hand. The girls all congratulated him enthusiastically. Him, the new Headmaster? There was no way. But McGonagall had no reason to lie and the look she had of pure pleasure at his latest achievement in life led him to believe that it was all true.

"So there you have it. You can all stay if you want." They all started chatting again excited that they no longer had to leave the place where they had all found promising careers. "I will make the announcement to the students at the end of year banquet."

~~~

The end of year banquet was an exciting one for the staff; it was their first in a long line of many to come. They no longer had to fear what was in their futures. They had come back to a place that had held happy memories of their childhoods and now held great promises of their adult lives as well.

McGonagall's announcement about the teachers returning was met with loud boisterous cheers and her announcement about her leaving and Harry being the new Headmaster was a bittersweet one. All the students had known McGonagall for their entire stay at the school and while she may have been tough in some respects she always cared most about what happened to her students.

The next day all the teachers accompanied the students to the train, which would take them back to Kings Cross Station. The Creevey's, Coop, and Tyler stood with the teachers saying their goodbyes. "Thank you again for what you all did," Emily said.

"Yes, well, hopefully next time you'll listen when you're told to stay put," Harry told her.

"Oh, don't listen to him," Draco interjected, "He never listened to reason either."

Harry blushed and shot a look of censure at Draco. Emily smiled, "Well thank you just the same."

Coop and Tyler stood just behind them. Neither had said much not really knowing what to say. They had witnessed their potions teacher, the man who had made their lives difficult for the past year, do what was necessary to save their lives. They now had a newfound respect for him. Grant it, they still didn't want to be on his bad side, but they did respect him.

"Well, we'd better get going," Emily said as the last whistle blew on the train. "I guess we'll be seeing you all next year." With that the four made their way on to the train.

The teachers turned back and headed toward the Thestrals, which were waiting nearby. Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Draco all climbed into one as Cho, Harry, Parvati, and Neville climbed into the other.

They were all headed back to the castle where they would have one last day with McGonagall and then would all pack up their bags and head to the Grimmauld Place, which was now Harry's home, where the rest of the Weasley clan would meet them.

"Mum owled again this morning to make sure that we were all going to be there tomorrow afternoon," Ron told his sister as they rode back to the castle. "I think she's probably already cooking for everyone.

Draco sat next to Ginny holding her left hand, fingering the platinum band that he had placed on her finger the day before. It may have been presumptuous, but when he wrote his mother to tell her of his father's death, he told her that he was going to marry the Weasley girl. His mother had owled him back the package in reply to the letter he'd sent her. She didn't mention anything about his father in her short note, but she expressed her sincere hope that her son would be happy and had apparently run out to purchase a ring for him to give his fiancé. He figured that this was her way to bridge the rift between them and he and Ginny were planning a trip to visit her during the summer.

"I just hope that she doesn't get any funny ideas in her head about sleeping arrangements," Ginny stated.

Draco's eyes snapped toward her, as much as he and her brother were now getting along, he didn't know what he'd do if he had to bunk with him for the next week let alone bunk with Potter or Longbottom. She laughed at the worried expression on his face, "Don't worry, I'm sure it will be fine."

Ron stared at Draco through narrowed eyes, "Just what are you doing with my sister?"

"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed.

Ginny's mouth dropped open, "Not that it's any of your business," she started and then went at it with her brother. Draco leaned back in his seat staying out of this argument. This definitely felt more familiar than nice Ron.

He smiled inwardly knowing that even though his life was finally getting back on balance it was still going to be just as unpredictable as ever. He was just happy that he had the pintsized red head with him along for the ride.

A/N: OMG! It's over! I can't believe it! I think I'm going to cry! Why is it that my proposals end with sex . . . I think I need to get that checked out! Anyway, so this was my story. Ten points to both Laur02 and noone2special for correctly guessing that it was Draco's daddy that was up to no good! I'm really sad that this story is over and I wish that it could have gone on forever and ever!

OK, so I took some artistic liberties in making up some spells. Of course this whole story is an artistic liberty so I don't think that anyone will mind too much that I made up a few words. Here are the explanations for those. "Obrigatorio!" is Portuguese for bind. "Libere!" is Spanish for liberate. "Nocturno!" is Spanish for nocturnal and lastly "Diurno!" is Spanish for diurnal. I just went on to freetranslation . com and put in a bunch of words until I got some stuff that I thought worked with what I wanted. Now I don't want to hear that any of you are cheating on your foreign language homework! Struggling through two years of Spanish was part of high school fun!!!

Thank you to everyone for reading! I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Really, I'm so sad to see this one go! It was my first Harry Potter fanfic! Rest assured however that it won't be my last! I already know what I want my next one to be so I don't think you'll have to wait too much longer to get more.

Thank you all again so much! I especially want to thank Zee, my very first reviewer in this story, Chelles, clanmalfoy, Rhinemjr, Nerwen Faelvirin, Bombshell, mystic-fox, Natalie, and everyone else who has read my story! I know that I probably forgot to mention people in this list and I really apologize! Thank you anyway! Thank you also to my lurkers who don't review, you know who you are!!!

I heart you all!