Disclaimer. Harry Potter is so not mine. Cali and the Academy, on the other hand, are. Don't steal them without permission or they'll get testy.
So, this update is coming out sooner than I had really expected. Thanks to the neighbors from hell, I finished this story at one o'clock yesterday, well today I suppose. And thanks to a desire not to research for my paper or read I present this, the last chapter, the end. It's weird, knowing that I'll never write this again. I hope you enjoy it. HUGS
The three pages were pushed around the table as people made notes of what they'd come up with. Harry took another bite of eggs while he scratched out what Flitwik had told them about the charm before pushing it toward Ron for his two cents. Everyone managed to finish before the bell rang, and he gathered the pages and slid them into his Potions book. An owl landed next to his plate and ruffled her feathers. Harry untied the letter and the owl took off.
The bleached envelope crinkled as he fiddled with the corners.
Dean nudged Harry's shoulder. "Are you going to read that?"
Harry smiled and shoved it among his notes. "Later, I think. We don't have a lot of time before class." He stood as the bell rang. "See?"
Hermione linked her arm with his and dragged him off through the crowd, finally slowing down as they rounded the corner. "Letter from Cali?"
He cleared his throat and shook his head. "No. It's from Jason. He does this loopy think with his h's." He shrugged and pulled her forward. "Come on. We've got to start moving or we'll be late." It took a few more tries, but he got her moving.
Potions took forever. He had to correct his potion with extra ingredients four times when he stirred too slowly or too violently or put in the wrong amount of an ingredient. The bell finally rang and they set their bottles on his desk as they headed out of the class.
"Mr. Potter, you will remain behind."
"Yes, sir." He waved Hermione to go on to class without him. When the door closed he stepped around his table. "We haven't found anything new. It's only been--"
"What is wrong?" You have made that potion before. It should not have been that complex for you to confuse so often."
Harry ducked his head. "I just got a letter. That's all."
Professor Snape lowered himself into his chair. "Did they have anything to report? Is something wrong there?"
"I haven't read it yet. I got it just before class." He pulled his hair over his face as much as he could. "I didn't want to open it in front of everyone."
"Perhaps you should open it now instead of putting your friends at risk in Transfiguration?"
"I--uh--no. I'll be able to concentrate. Yes. I'll be fine. I'll come back tonight. As promised. Yeah." The bell rang. "I'm late. I have to hurry."
"Harry, wait." He took a piece of parchment and signed it with his usual flourish.
Harry took the pass and slipped it into his pocket. "Thanks. Bye." He picked up his bag, ran through the hallways, and reached the transfiguration classroom only a few minutes later. He handed over the pass and slid in next to Ron.
"You okay, mate?"
"Yeah. Everything's okay." He bent over his parchment and started scratching out the notes. After class he told them he was heading to the kitchen and ran to the dorm once they rounded the corner. He pounded up the stairs, jumped onto his bed, and yanked the curtains shut. "Lumos." He took the slightly crinkled envelope out and tore the side open.
You have to be careful. You have to get out. I've done the spread twenty-six times and I can't think it's wrong anymore. You can't cast the spell, Harry. Some needed part is nowhere near you. I can't figure out what it is. None of us can. We don't know what to do anymore. Please don't get yourself hurt for nothing.
I love you
"Nox." He flipped onto his stomach and laid his head on his folded arms. "Damn it."
McGonagall pulled the curtains open after her shoes had clicked quickly across the floor from the door, avoiding the clothes strewn everywhere. "Mr. Potter, are you ill?"
He pushed his head farther under the pillow. "No."
She pulled the covers off of him. "Then why did you not attend any of your afternoon classes? Your roommates said you refused to leave your bed."
He yanked the covers back over him. "So? Is there a point? What's so great and important about classes? We're all going to die. Does it matter whether I'm at class or in bed?"
She turned his head to face her. "Has something happened? Are you having visions again?"
The door slammed shut. "Mr. Potter, get out of bed."
Harry turned away from Professor Snape. "Just leave me alone. It's worthless. All of it. Why should I have to get up?"
Professor Snape grabbed his arms and dragged him off the bed. "What did the letter say?" When Harry didn't respond he leaned over and picked up the letter from under the pillow. "You are putting all your faith in divination?"
"Jason knows what he's doing. He's only been wrong a few times and he was iffy about those."
Professor Snape crumpled the paper and threw it to the floor. "We will find it. They are three thousand miles away and not omniscient. Go get your missed work, do your homework, and stay out of the bloody bed unless you're sleeping."
"Severus, what do you think you're doing?" McGonagall pulled him away from Harry. "You cannot just--"
Harry uncrumpled the letter, shoved it into his trunk, put his books in his bag, and walked to the door. "I'd better go find Hermione to get the notes I missed." He slipped out the door and closed it on them arguing. He slid his arm around Dean's shoulder on the way down and turned him back toward the common room. "You don't want to go up there right now. McGonagall and Snape are having a bit of an argument."
"In our dorm?"
"Yeah. Whoops. Sorry about that."
Dean let himself be hurried down the stairs and kept Harry close to him when they reached the bottom. "Are you feeling better? You were completely out of it today."
With a sigh, Harry rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah. I think maybe I was. The Academy hit a dead end on the kill Voldemort problem. I may have overreacted just a bit."
Dean led him to where everyone else sat doing their homework in a corner. "The genius kids can't figure everything out. Sometimes you need an idiot. Right, Ron?"
Harry sat next to Hermione as the two guys smacked each other. When they started in with pillows he leaned closer to her. "Um, so Jason said that something was missing and trying was pointless and would only get me hurt. I got a little depressed, but Professor Snape has been quite clear about why I shouldn't miss classes again. Can I borrow your notes?"
She pushed them over. "I already copied them for you." She squeezed her shoulder. "At least you didn't skip potions."
He smiled wryly and picked up the first parchment. "Yeah, that would have been really bad."
Harry threw himself into his classes and after a week Snape stopped glaring at him during every meal. Unfortunately, he had plenty of time to devote to his homework as all progress had stopped on the spell and even Professor Snape admitted that the potion needed something to activate it that he couldn't figure out.
Christmas break loomed; Harry had been invited to the Weasleys, to stay at Grimwald place with Remus, and to travel to the Academy, but Dumbledore wouldn't give him a straight answer as to where it was safe to go.
He laid in the dark an hour after he'd gotten into bed, still staring at the ceiling.
Dean's shoes slid across the floor to where he kept them under the bed and smacking into the bed post as usual. "You're going home for Christmas this year, Ron?"
Ron shoved his books off the edge of his bed onto his trunk. "Yep. Harry's not staying at Hogwarts this year. Mum's ecstatic that I'm finally coming home for Christmas. She's planning this huge family get together for this year."
"I hear Harry's got a few places to go this year. Any idea which he's going to choose?"
"No, but maybe The Academy. I'm sure he'll like to be on top of everyone, I mean everything, there." The two guys laughed, said goodnight, and pulled their curtains shut.
Everyone was in bed and asleep an hour later.
Harry sat up and pulled his knees to his chest, chewing on his thumb.
Severus almost smiled as he stalked through the halls. Only six students remained over the holidays, and none of them were his Slytherins. If the world was perfect he could have a relaxing vacation for once. He froze as something clattered to the floor. Nothing was ever perfect. The hallway was mostly in shadow as the sun set, but he still slunk forward slowly. Harry sat, curled up in the window. That boy never made anything simple. He stood tall and strode forward. "Harry, what are you doing here?"
The boy shrugged and slid closer to the glass, his feet almost tucked under his body.
Severus reached out and turned Harry's face toward him. "By here I was referring to Hogwarts, not the window. Why are you not with the Weaslys, or Lupin, or Biara?" He was supposed to be away somewhere forgetting everything he'd learned and having pointless fun. "Couldn't you choose between all your admirers?"
Harry pulled away and jumped to the floor. "I just thought everyone would be happ--safer if I stayed here. It's not a big deal."
He was skittish again. That wasn't going to make this any easier. Severus walked by his side down the hall. "I would imagine your friends would disagree. How did you convince them?"
Harry scratched his ear, looking around, then sighed. "Round robin."
Severus grasped his arms and pulled him to a stop. "What does that mean exactly?"
Harry slumped against the wall. "The Weasleys and Remus think I'm at the Academy and I told Cali I was going to be with Remus, which means that everyone thinks I can't be contacted and I didn't sign up to stay until the last minute, so I'll be safe."
"And completely away from your friends for several weeks."
"So what? I can be safe and so can everyone else, and they can all enjoy time with their families."
"And what about Lupin? He doesn't have any family to visit."
Harry snorted. "When I told him I was worried about him being alone if I went to New York he said he had plans to go with Tonks to visit her parents if I didn't want to spend Christmas trapped in the house." He ran his hands through his hair. "Look, I'm fine. I know I'm moping right now, but it's no big deal. It's just a litter weird getting used to it being so quiet. I've never been here over break without Ron." He pulled away, ran up the stairs, and turned down the first corridor he came to.
Severus sighed and rubbed his forehead. "I wouldn't adjust to it too much." He spun and stalked back to his office.
Harry sat at the small round table avoiding Dumbledore's eyes as they waited for Professor Snape before they started the meal. He finally showed up seven minutes later and the food appeared as he sat.
He ate as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself, hard to do with so few people to hide him, but Hedwig flew in and landed on his shoulder as he was about to leave. "Hey girl. Good hunting?"
The side door to the Great Hall slammed open. "Very good. I hear she caught a first edition book of fairy tales in the original language." Cali snapped the book in her hand shut. "And if you think I am anywhere near to forgiving you for this stunt right now, you're so very wrong and quite possibly deluded."
Harry scowled at Snape and Hedwig took off as he stood. "Narc." He turned and half ran to Cali. "Um, sorry? I, uh, had the best intentions? Or--ow." He rubbed his shoulder as she pulled the book back toward her.
"You will come to the library and do homework with us. We took the liberty of gathering your things from the dorm." She turned on her heel and clicked her way toward the main door.
"Yes, ma'am." He stayed out of her range as he walked to the doors. He caught up and passed her ten feet from the entrance. "I missed you."
She threw herself at his back and propelled him through the doors. "I missed you too." She kissed the back of his neck. "Now let's move so everyone else has their chance to berate you too. I wouldn't want to leave them out."
"Great." He let out a deep breath.
As soon as he stepped through the door Jason wrapped his arms around him. "I meant this kind of hurt too, Harry."
Harry squeezed back and buried his face in Jason's shoulder. "I thought it was for the best."
"We've changed 'the best'; welcome to it." Cali pulled out a chair in the middle of a long table. "Now have a seat and write about the world of potions while I translate Medieval German."
"Why are you translating--"
Her one finger in the air silenced him. "You have not regained the right to ask questions. Sit."
Jason squeezed his arm as Harry jogged over to the table, slid into the chair, and opened his potions book.
An hour later, his potions essay was finished, and Cali was humming while balancing the chair on two legs. It hit the ground and half the table jumped and glanced up from their books. "Does anyone have the current, muggle fairytale book on them?"
Kyle took a book out of his bag and passed it down.
After flipping pages and comparing the books and her notes, she started laughing. Everyone ignored it until she'd slid out of her chair and under the table, still laughing hysterically.
Someone shook the table. "Just tell us what's funny already."
It took a few false starts, but she finally got her explanation out. "The two boys that vanquished the wizard were friends. That's what the current story says." She had to take a few breaths and then crawled out from under the table. "'Friends' is a very Victorian translation for the original word meaning something a bit closer."
Harry felt his face heat. "You mean they were lovers?"
Cali shut the book. "Yep. Something along those lines. And that's the only difference I can find. So if the hidden secret is in the story then that's it.
His head hit the table. "So the secret's a sex ritual or something? Great."
"Don't be so pessimistic." She slammed the book next to his head. "All right boys and girls. Set up a circle with our seer in the center. Let's see what we can get."
Bags of candles, crystals, and herbs seemed to come from everywhere, and they moved to a clear area. Jason anointed himself with oil and sat in the center with a bag of runes and three decks of tarot cards. Harry took his place in the circle, pressed his palms to those on either side, and closed his eyes. The chanting started to his left and moved randomly around the circle, everyone adding a line at their turn. He could feel the power building and flowing past him in circuits. His eyes opened with a gasp as energy filled him.
Jason's eyes locked with his then darted to the card under his fingertips. "Who're your brothers?"
"Who has what you need when you need it?"
"Neville." Harry shook his head and tried to push against the energy. "Draco."
Jason shook his head slightly and the hands holding his tightened. "Who got you this spell? Everything you needed."
"Cali, Draco, and Hermione, Neville and Professor Snape figured out the potion."
At Jason's nod the hands left and the energy fled. He saw everyone catching themselves on the floor before things faded.
Something poked his side. He tried to squirm away, but he couldn't move. The poking came back and he managed to smack it away.
"Hey, sunshine. You're nearly conscious. So if you can hear me, just relax. Your magic is drained, so you'll need another few hours of sleep before you feel normal again. We'll let everyone know what happened, well, at least that you're sleeping, at dinner. We've found a very enthusiastic house elf to watch you and make sure you get to eat when you wake up." Lips brushed his forehead. "I guess we should be happy. We're lucky that Mom's not here."
He let himself drift off again.
His back spasmed and he flipped onto his stomach.
"Harry Potter sir is awake." Dobby clutched his hands and jumped up and down. "Is Harry Potter sir hungry?"
Harry sat up and ran his hands through his hair. "Hi, Dobby. I'd love something to eat. Thank you."
With a snap, three trays appeared on the table next to the bed.
Chicken, pumpkin juice, and four kinds of dessert. Harry smiled and dug in; his energy finally coming back.
Cali ran into the room and stumbled when she caught sight of him. "Oh good. You're awake. I guess I can say sorry right now then."
Professor Snape slammed the door open. "Is this the reason I do not do anything nice? Everything just gets screwed up and I end up regretting ever helping anyone. What did you do, Mr. Potter?"
Harry licked the last of the cake off his fork. "Hey, that's not fair. For once, I did nothing." He scrunched his nose. "Well, except magic. I did some magic. Does magic count?"
Cali pulled the fork out of his hand. "Um, perhaps you have had too much sugar."
"Four chocolate desserts. I like them." He looked between them and took a deep breath. "But I will stop acting crazy. What's the problem?"
Professor Snape took out his wand and started casting diagnostic spells. "Perhaps the problem is that you lost consciousness." He lowered his wand. "However, you appear to be in good health. Do not do it again and be sure to be at breakfast tomorrow. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir. Of course. Have a good day, er, night?"
Professor Snape shook his head and left the common room muttering under his breath.
Harry waited until the portrait swung shut and spun to face Cali. "So, what did we learn?"
Cali smiled and hopped onto the bed next to him. "Everything. I think we can pull this off."
At three in the morning the four groups were, except for Harry, mysteriously missing from Hogwarts grounds.
Harry hopped back into the window that looked over the side entrance they'd snuck out of and pressed his nose against the glass until he bumped his glasses and pulled back.
"Still moping, Harry?" Professor Snape stepped out of the shadows. "I didn't think that Morganna would allow you out of her sight except to make excuses for you."
"We're going to cast the spell. However, we lacked certain components."
Professor Snape moved to the other side of the window and looked out. "They left the grounds? Do they want Biara to string me up by my thumbs?"
Harry laughed and then coughed. "Sorry. I'm sure they don't want you strung up by your thumbs, especially since you seem to be one of the components, but there might be a few more people wanting to string us all up before this is over." He shrugged. "How long does the potion take to brew?"
He leaned forward, bracing his shoulder against the corner of the wall. "Perhaps an hour, but it might take two. You seems to be in a bit of a rush with the preparations all of a sudden. When are you planning to do this?"
"Tonight, I hope, since things might get a little hairy if we don't since when Neville's grandmother realizes that he's not in the house anymore she'll probably completely freak."
The figures slipped out of the forest, so Harry slid off and walked toward the door.
Cali and Kyle slipped in the cracked door, Neville between them with a bag clutched to his chest.
"Hi, Neville. I know that you're probably completely freaked out, but let's go to the common room and I'll explain. Well, explain a bit while we wait for the others."
"Mr. Potter." Professor Snape crossed his arms over his chest.
Harry took Neville's arm and pulled his quickly toward the stairs. "Don't worry, Professor Snape. I'll see you at breakfast tomorrow."
When they were halfway to the common room, Harry relaxed and pulled Neville closer to his side. "I really appreciate you coming, Neville. This is all strange, but we think the spell will work best if we're together as much as possible before hand, and we want to be able to cast it today if we can manage it."
"And you think Hogwarts would be the strongest place to cast it from?"
Harry stepped back and tilted his head to the side. "What?"
Neville stopped walking. "Well, that's why you're here. Right? You left for the Academy the same day we left, didn't you?
"Oh, yeah. Well, Hogwarts has so much ambient magic that--"
Cali shoved him forward. "Come on, everyone else should be back soon. Then we can explain both how the spell is going to work and how you told everyone you were going somewhere else so you could sit alone here and mope."
Harry stomped down the hall out of her reach. "I was not moping."
"Severus said you were moping."
"Once! I can't get a little depressed over the quiet?"
"Not when you lie to everyone in order to get it."
Harry grasped her arms, t-shirt sliding back and pulling tight across her chest. "I didn't want you dead." Damn it. He turned away and walked quickly toward the tower. He gave the password and the portrait swung open. Hermione lay curled up on the couch in red and white snowflake pajamas.
She cracked her eyes open and yawned. "Hello, Harry. I assume it's important since we're all here, but nothing's enough to get me out of these pajamas in the middle of the night, so if anyone has a problem you're going to have to curse them for me, okay?"
Harry perched on the edge and ran his hand along her arm. "Fuzzy. I don't think I'd change either. Did you tell your parents you were leaving?"
"I left them a voicemail. They're at a three day conference. Hi, Neville. Why is Cali glaring?"
Neville shrugged at Harry. "Harry lied about his Christmas plans. He stayed here alone."
Hermione's eyes snapped open. She opened and closed her mouth a few times and then smacked Harry. She waved off his exclamation and him rubbing his arm and poked her finger repeatedly into his chest. "This is for whatever thought process got you to the conclusion that sitting alone in Hogwarts for Christmas would be safer or whatever for whoever you were trying to be nice to or protect or whatever."
He stood and walked to the chair by the fire. "Well then, should I apologize now or wait until everyone has had their chance to bitch at me?"
"Oh, I'd wait. I wouldn't want to miss my turn." Draco looked around. "So this is the Gryffindor common room? How very, red it is?"
Cali clapped her hands and spread her arms to the side. "Well, well, the gang's all here. Except Uncle Sev of course, but I can fill him in tomorrow. Let's hold off on making Harry feel miserable about lying for a little while since this is slightly more important." She perched on the arm of the couch. "So here's why you're going to come to hate each other over the next twelve hours."
Harry started to flip himself onto his stomach but stilled and scratched his nose. There was no way he couldn't sleep on this giant, square mattress when everyone kept moving and touching him. Someone's leg brushed his, and he yanked his knee to his chest.
"Relax. It's okay." Jason pushed his knee down and pulled Harry against his chest. "Just breathe and let yourself sleep. Everything will be okay."
Harry released his breath and leaned into Jason. "This is weird. I don't like it."
"I know. You--well one of the yous around this summer, anyway--didn't enjoy our sleepover either. You said the problem was that when you closed your eyes--"
"--If someone else is near me when I'm trying to sleep, then I'm in trouble. How do I make this stop?"
Jason shrugged. "I have no idea. Spend every night in someone's bed?"
Harry elbowed him and closed his eyes. "It's people like you that makes the world want to end. But don't worry, Kyle makes up for you."
"What? You want to go cuddle with Kyle?"
Harry laughed but it turned into a yawn. "No. I'll stay here. He's too pointy."
"Go to sleep."
Harry stirred six times counterclockwise then reached back and itched under Hermione's hand.
She shifted her hand to the other side and scratched his spine with her free hand. "Sorry. Better?"
He sighed. "Yes. Does this have to simmer for six minutes or ten?"
Neville looked up at him and then reached for the book without moving too far away from Harry's leg. He opened to the bookmark and ran his finger down the page. "Ten minutes. And that's the end of what you marked as part two."
"All right. We're making good time then. Jason, are you finished slicing the leeks?"
He smacked Draco with his free hand, or at least the one without the knife in it, that was tied to Draco's wrist. "If Draco would stop yanking my arm then I could more easily cut these into exactly equal pieces."
"It itches. " Draco scowled. "Why do I have to be connected to him?"
Harry shook his head. "My my, Draco. I didn't have any idea. If you wanted to feel me up you should have just said so."
Draco stilled then pulled the vial of dragon's blood closer. "Three milliliters, correct?"
Harry shrugged. "Yep. Just don't mix the yew sap into the vial until right before it needs to go in or it will react too violently with the violet blossoms."
Cali pulled Professor Snape through the door, their wrists bound with a pink, silk scarf. "It's your fault for trying to get away. I'm trying to kill Voldemort. I think I've got the higher moral ground here, so don't think that you can get back at me for this later."
Professor Snape yanked his arm and she twisted and landed on her butt. "What moral ground do I receive due to my failure to eviscerate you in the past five hours?"
She giggled and used his leverage to get to her feet. "None. That's just called being related to me." She slowly managed to maneuver him over to the table. "How's the potion?"
The liquid streamed into the cauldron and the potion turned brown almost immediately. Harry and Jason cast a cooling spell over the whole thing and relaxed. "Completed." Jason smacked Draco's hand away again and filled the first bottle a bit more before snapping the top on. "So, we've got the potion and we understand the spell. What's left to do?"
Harry finished filling his half of the vials, cracked his neck, and pulled Hermione and Neville next to him. "Just to cast the spell."
Jason's snort of laughter broke in. "And getting quite close to each other."
"Don't be crude." Cali slid over. "Lunch just ended. With the Great Hall cleared of the few people left in the castle we can use the convergence to boost the spell so we're sure to off the bastard."
Neville cleared his throat. "We're sure we have all the parts we need? I mean, didn't Harry get depressed and skip classes because something was missing?"
"Yeah, the close, personal relationship between the boys in the story." Cali rolled her eyes and smacked Jason's arm.
"But, nothing's changed. How does our knowing that change anything?"
Hermione's fingers twitched and Neville squeezed Harry's hand tightly.
Jason shook his head. "No. We did the whole trance thing before shooing everyone else home to keep Mom in the dark. He said these were the people needed if the spell was going to work."
Harry pulled his hands away and felt the two resettle their grip on his shoulders as he leaned against the table. "Cali wants this in the Great Hall for a power boost. Maybe what's missing is enough power to work."
"We have seven witches and wizards. That amount of power has to beat the power of two wizards, I don't care what kind of relationship they had."
Harry curled his fingers around the table edge. "But how do you know their evil wizard wasn't just weak? And how is the spell supposed to know to attack Voldemort? For all we know it could just attack the nearest user of dark magic. It's not written specifically for him. What's the focus supposed to be?"
Professor Snape hissed and clenched his left fist. He tugged at the scarf and Cali quickly unknotted it. "I must go."
Cali grabbed his arm. "Wait!"
He shoved her off "He waits for no one. I must go."
"Get your stuff and I'll meet you in the hall outside your room. I need a potion and thirty seconds and I think I can make you the focus." She pulled him toward the door and they ran in separate directions.
Three minutes later, Cali dashed back in. "Come on, guys. We don't have a lot of time. Voldemort might be able to detect my spell and know that something's wrong."
As one, they bolted through the door, each with their vial of potion, Hermione sealing the door from the end of the hall, and made it to the Great Hall in under two minutes as Snape reached the apparition point and dissolved away.
The large tables had been supplanted by one circular table in the front. Harry and Jason threw their robes to the floor and pulled their shirts off. The table shook as they jumped onto it, but held firm, so they sat back to back. Hermione and Neville climbed onto Harry's side and pressed their knees together to form a small circle as Cali and Draco did the same on the other side with Jason.
Cali passed Jason a gem. "That's connected to Uncle Sev."
He put it between his shoulder blades and leaned against Harry to hold it there.
They both reached out and rested their arms on the shoulders of the rest of their circle after pouring their vials of potion in a perfect circle.
The other four popped open their vials and created a line stretching nearly the diameter of the circle. They tossed the vials aside and pulled their fingers across the liquid, widening the base of the line near the two meditating boys and creating the branches on the other end. They joined hands and covered the two boys' hands with their own.
"Use as separate lives have none.
Taken as one it shall be done.
Nothing gained through evil deeds.
Freedom claims the deepest need.
Banishment now from this here plane
no more trace shall e're remain."
Yellow, flashing along with blue, faster and faster until they blurred together. The pain burst forth and slammed into Severus and he barely managed to keep from clutching his chest.
"Severus, come forward." The Dark Lord reclined on his throne, arm twisted slightly up and behind him as he stroked Nagini, wrapped around the chair.
Severus walked forward and dropped to his knees. "Yes, my lord?"
"It is time to move our plan forward. Potter is alone in his dorm for the break. You will bring him to me within three days. Subtlety has got us nothing with this boy. I believe overt violence will be more successful. Think of how the wizarding world will quake when we return the child in pieces. We shall have victory."
The others cheered and patted each others' shoulder as emphatically as they could without drawing their lord's attention to them.
Severus stood and took a step forward on every blue, yellow, blue, yellow, and on green shoved his hands against Voldemort's shoulders, his thumbs pressed against the protruding bones. "The time for subtlety is long over." The colors rushed in until they were overtaken by white.
Severus pushed the hand away and rolled onto his side. His head pounded, and rhythmically at that.
"Severus, you have to get up before you're arrested."
He squinted up at Tonks. "What?"
She glanced behind her and grimaced. "Too late."
The head of the auror department strode over. "Well, here's Severus Snape." He looked around and held out his hand. "It seems that Mr. Potter said that the spell you cast to make yourself a conduit to kill He who Shall Not be Named would leave you pretty weak. Since you were knocked out with the rest of them, we should get you checked out by a healer."
Chris jogged over and squeezed the auror's shoulder. "Thank goodness you found him. I've been all across this field." The auror finally dropped his arm as Chris pulled Severus to his feet and steadied him for a few moments.
Men in black cloaks were bound across the field; Bellatrix Lestrange was cursing and yanking at the ropes as she was led to a group portkey.
The throne was charred though bits of bone remained scattered around it. "He's dead."
Chris squeezed his hand and led him toward the American aurors keeping watch over prisoners waiting to be transported. "Yes. Harry fire-called me to get aurors here when he felt Voldemort die. Though things got complicated when the bastard's soul somehow survived." Chris barely caught Severus before his knees hit the ground. "No! It's all right. They altered the spell and combined their magic to eliminate every trace of him." Chris waved someone over with a portkey. "Though I don't expect to ever hear the end of Cali insisting that tavern songs are an integral part of education as they can be used to kill dark lords." He smirked as the book portkey yanked them to the hospital wing.
Several semi and completely hysterical parents crowded the ward, hovering over their children. Chris led Severus to the nearest empty bed and hustled off to find Madam Pomfrey.
His back cracked a few times as he stretched it before settling back against the pillows. "What is the score?"
Chocolate smeared across Harry's cheek when he tried to wipe it off his mouth. He scrubbed it off his cheek and shrugged. "Uh, I think Hermione parents are winning since they just told her that the next time she leaves the house in the middle of the night to battle dark lords that she should leave a more descriptive message, but that could be because Hermione headed them off with talking about how much less danger everyone was in now and how she hadn't even come face to face with Voldemort to do it. Neville's grandmother seems to be rotating between excessive pride, anger, and relief, so we'll wait to see which she settles on. Biara berated us and then said that she thought that's what we were doing and she can't believe that we thought we could fool her by sending most of them back, and Draco's mom has renounced her husband and is across the room knitting, though I'm quite sure she has no idea how, so I'm reserving judgment there too. How are you doing? When you passed out I was worried that something went wrong."
"I am fine."
"I believe that decision is my job." Madam Pomfrey fussed over him a few minutes before declaring him exhausted, dosing him with a few potions, and forcing a block of chocolate on him.
Cali eased herself onto the bed next to Harry. "So, it's goodbye again, already."
Harry nodded and slid over until he could smell her raspberry perfume. "This time I will be okay. I can function without everyone hovering over me."
Her head rested on his shoulder. "I don't see why you should. Sometimes it's nice to have someone hovering." She pulled her hair into her face. "I, uh, I talked to Dumbledore. He said it'd be safe for you to go wherever you want this summer because of how many of the death eaters they caught, especially the high level ones."
Harry looked away and sighed, picking at the sheets. "Yeah, I guess."
She turned his head back and pressed her lips to his forehead. "Don't stay away too long. You're our missing twelfth. Without you it's just eleven magical orphans and me." She sat up and wrapped her arms around him. "We'll always have a free bed for you."
He shifted a little, then lifted his arms and tightened them around her. "Thank you."
Jason cleared his throat and inclined his head toward the entrance to the hospital wing. "They're ready to go."
Cali nodded, stood, and hitched her bag onto her shoulder. "Harry, he's dead. This means that while you can't avoid your school work, you can have fun, and maybe not worry quite so much." She backed up. "Magic doesn't end with the practical, okay?" She turned and ran, slamming through the double doors.
Jason sighed and took Harry's head in his hands. "You can't avoid that we're all connected now, so don't try." He ruffled Harry's hair and walked to the door. "We'll see you this summer. Kyle's thinking about trying to make a replica of Hogwarts out of tinker toys, moving staircases and all." He winked and pushed through the doors.
Harry smiled into the stuffed penguin from Kyle, his 'stuck in the hospital wing' gift. Neville and Draco had probably never gotten to play with them at all. Sticking pieces of wood together doesn't seem quite like a pureblooded thing to do. Maybe Hermione could figure out how to make the wooden toys move without free-moving pivot points. He popped another piece of chocolate in his mouth and pulled out his pack of cards. "Up for a game?"
Professor Snape stepped out of the shadows next to the door and settled into the chair next to him. "As long as it will keep you out of trouble I suppose."
Harry smiled and dealt the first hand.
Well, here we are. At the end. This monster has finally settled at it's resting place. I'm not planning a sequel. I've been working on this forever and it's time for me to move on. This story has followed me through my four years of college, and I hope you have enjoyed following it too. I'll see what I write next, if any fanfiction at all, but that will all come in time. I thank everyone who has made it to this point. It means a lot that you would choose to read my work and stick with it through the long pauses between chapters. I love you all. And especially thanks to my Maggie, for listening to me whine over this story for four years. HUGS to everyone.
Happy reading to all my reviewers. May you find many wonderful stories to fill your time.