The Final Reckoning
Author's Note: This is the sequel to The Book of Morgan Le Fey. I highly recommend you read that story first before reading this one, as this story contains many plot elements from that story. This story also contains spoilers for all the canon books.
Summary: Harry, Ron and Hermione are heading for their final year at Hogwarts. As Ron struggles to come to terms with his extrasensory abilities and he and Hermione try to help Harry come up with a way to defeat Voldemort, Harry gets a second chance at happiness. But the girl in Harry's life makes the perfect target for Voldemort, and she may be special in more ways than one. Rated R for language, violence and sexual content.
Of course, the world of Harry Potter is the property of J.K. Rowling.
Chapter One: The Unfairness of Being Harry
Ron Weasley sat at his desk with a quill in his right hand, poised over the blank page of a hardcover book. He stared out the window longingly. It was one of those rare, perfect summer days: not too hot, sun shining, the sky a brilliant, nearly opalescent blue, a few cheerful, puffy clouds dotting the horizon.
It was two days since returning home from school. Two whole days, that had felt like two months. If he'd known this was how it was going to be, being home for the holiday, he would have stayed at Hogwarts for the summer.
Because Ron was a virtual prisoner in the family house. He and his younger sister Ginny had not been able to venture ten feet outside the house since returning home. Dumbledore's orders, their mother had snapped, when they'd both protested loudly at not being able to practice Quidditch. Dumbledore had to make sure all the new wards were in place, but it would take a few days, at least, for that to happen. And a few days after that to test them. Only then could Ron and Ginny get outdoors and enjoy their time off from school.
Until then, they were confined to the house, and the only time they were allowed outside was to help degnome the garden.
Ron thought about Dumbledore and scowled. He'd never had anything but respect for the Headmaster of Hogwarts. The old wizard--he had to be 150 by now--was considered by most to be the wisest, most powerful wizard alive. Indeed, he was the only wizard the Dark Lord Voldemort had ever feared.
But now Ron felt nothing but powerful resentment for Dumbledore. For making him a prisoner in his house. For telling him...
'I want you to explore the possibility,' Dumbledore had said.
You might be a Seer, he'd said. And if you are a Seer, your gift could help Harry.
The very idea still struck Ron as at least mildly ridiculous. Him, Ron Weasley, average in every way Ron Weasley, a Seer?
Dumbledore had asked Ron to keep a dream diary, and he'd done it. Ron had taken out his old dream diary--the one he'd used to record made-up dreams in for Divination classes with that bat Trelawney--and the morning after Dumbledore's news, and for the past few weeks now, Ron had begun to record his dreams.
He'd had a dream about forgetting to study for his N.E.W.T.s. He'd had a dream where he'd walked about Hogwarts castle completely naked, attending lessons in the altogether as if it were completely normal but having no idea why people were sniggering at him and pointing. He'd had a dream about Snape dressed in Neville's grandmother's clothes and singing Happy Birthday to Dobby, the house elf. He'd had a dream about Harry dressed as a knight, on the back of a huge white horse and alone on a massive chessboard, just like the one Ron had seen back in their first year, when they were trying to retrieve the Philosopher's Stone. He'd had a dream of a gleaming silver-bladed sword floating through the air; the sword had a gold handle encrusted with huge red stones, and the blade itself was coated in blood.
He'd dreamt of his girlfriend, Hermione Granger. Many times. More often than not she was in some state of undress; more often than not they were having sex, or about to have sex, or entwined in one another after just having had sex.
He'd dreamt of Antonin Dolohov. The Death Eater he had killed less than a month before, in the fracas at the Riddle House. Dolohov had poisoned Hermione, nearly killing her. He went after Ron, and they had fought, and just as the Death Eater gained the upper hand, and was about to use the Killing Curse, Ron struck him with a Cutting Charm across the throat. He could still hear the slash of the spell as it split open the Death Eater's jugular vein, could still hear Dolohov gurgling as his throat and his mouth filled with blood, could still hear the thud as Dolohov toppled, dead even before he hit the floor.
Ron shuddered. He hated that dream. No matter how justified he'd been, he couldn't quite get over the fact that he'd taken a life. He'd killed someone, and he was only seventeen.
'Bugger,' he muttered, and he tore his eyes away from the beckoning blue sky and looked down at his journal. He had to focus. None of the dreams he'd had so far seemed to be remotely significant--at least in terms of being helpful to Harry. But he'd dreamed of something last night, and when he woke up he knew it was important.
He'd dreamed of the sword again. Only this time, he'd dreamed of the sword in someone's hand.
Who that someone was, Ron had no idea, but whoever it was, was a man. He was relatively young--no more than thirty-five perhaps. He wore dark velvet robes, so dark that they could have been black, or blue, or green, or brown. The clothing beneath...
Ron closed his eyes, trying to remember. It hadn't been modern clothing at all. Leggings, and boots--medieval looking. And some kind of vest, a leather vest--a deep red leather vest, with a kind of gold crest on it. The man's face...Ron couldn't really picture the man's face, but his eyes...they were green.
The man held the sword in front of his body, two handed, wielding it as if in battle. And there was noise. A strange, hissing noise...it could have been a snake making that sound, or steam could have been pouring out of a cauldron...Ron couldn't remember. He just remembered the sound of hissing. And the man holding the sword. And that was all.
Not even a dream, really, Ron thought. More like...he shuddered again to think of it...a vision.
Ron had had those, too. Ever since last year, after that brain attack at the Department of Mysteries. The brain that had unfurled and wrapped round his arms, scarring his flesh and his mind and unlocking...something within him. The visions had been frightening, and numerous, the previous summer, but he hadn't told anyone about it. He forgot about them once he, Harry and Hermione had gone back to school for their sixth year; the visions had tapered off completely by then.
But that night at the Riddle House...the vision returned, and it was only when he saw Bellatrix Lestrange plummet to her death, pinioned beneath a massive crystal chandelier, that he realized the vision he'd been seeing throughout the summer previous was a vision of her death.
He hadn't had a vision since that night, and he had no desire to ever have one again. The visions were more terrifying than the dreams. At least the dreams happened when you slept. Visions came in the waking hours.
'Focus,' he said aloud, and he returned to his diary and read over the entry, trying to remember if he'd missed something. The sword, held by a youngish medieval man with green eyes, wearing a deep red leather vest with a gold crest.
Ron dipped his quill into his inkpot and wrote a small note in the margin:
Look over your entries, Dumbledore had said, and look for patterns or recurring themes.
Ron flipped through his diary, pausing long enough to skim each entry. So far, he counted only a few recurring themes:
Sex (the dreams featuring Hermione); death (the dreams featuring Dolohov); and that sword.
How could a sword be a theme?
Ron turned back to his most recent entry and wrote, 'Medieval theme?' Then he wrote 'Is sword real?'
And then another thing occurred to Ron. How, in his first year, when they'd gone after the Philosopher's Stone, he'd taken up the position of knight on that giant chessboard. Maybe he was just dreaming about some random guy done up like a knight because of that? Ron put quill to page and wrote 'Chess connection?'
He stared at the page again, and it suddenly seemed absurd, and he scowled once more, and gave a low, frustrated growl. He slammed the diary shut, and stood up abruptly from the desk. If he didn't get outside soon--and not just to degnome the bloody garden--he'd go stark raving mad.
It didn't make sense. None of it made sense. Last year he'd had prescient dreams. He hadn't realized it at the time, but in hindsight, some of his dreams had indeed come true in real life. They had been a kind of vision of the future.
But since that night in Dumbledore's office, Ron couldn't imagine how any of his dreams could possibly be visions of the future. Well, perhaps the sex dreams could be.
Or at least Ron hoped they could be. He'd only had sex with Hermione for the first...and second and third times a few nights ago, on their last night of school before the holidays. He'd wanted to be with her like that since the day they first kissed, on the boys' staircase in Gryffindor tower--perhaps even before that. But he loved Hermione, and more than wanting her, he wanted her to want him, and not just give in to him because he was pressuring her into it. It had taken no small amount of self-control on his part, but he'd been a gentleman about the physical stuff. It was with copious amounts of joy that he greeted Hermione's news that she was ready to make love with him.
He'd thought that finally having sex with his girlfriend would ease the six months of sexual frustration that his gentlemanly behavior and Hermione's reticence had caused. Instead, it only made Ron want sex more.
Not just sex, he thought at once. No, that wasn't it. It was the closeness, too. Having Hermione all wrapped up around him and fitting up against him so perfectly like she did. He smiled, without thinking. He tended to do that, when he thought about her.
She was the same girl he'd always known: bossy, stubborn, fussy, brilliant, driven, loyal, protective, nurturing, maddening. But she wasn't. She was his girl. She drove him crazy, with her out-of-control hair that he loved to bury his hands in, and the way she looked when she had her nose buried in a book and her expression was serious as her eyes danced over the words on the page, and the way her cheeks flushed when she was embarrassed, or angry, or after they'd kissed long and hard. There were things she said, and did, and a certain way she smiled, that were just for him, and it made him go weak in the knees and set his heart pounding. He still couldn't quite believe that she wanted him. He was, after all, Just Ron. But Hermione Granger loved him, and that made him feel like the greatest man on earth.
Two days away from her, and he could hardly stand it.
But the other dreams, Ron thought, yanking his mind away from Hermione and sex and back to reality. None of them seem to predict anything. He'd gotten pretty good at seeing the subtext of his dreams, but he just couldn't tell if any of the weirder ones were supposed to signify something that might be germane to Harry's problem.
That little problem of having to kill, or be killed, by Lord Voldemort.
Ron looked out the window again and felt a pang. Not just for himself and his sister Ginny, trapped indoors on a day like this. But for Harry, forced yet again to endure the company of his horrible relatives, Muggles who hated anything to do with magic and who treated him like something lower than dirt.
At least you're not stuck in Harry's boat, Ron thought, and then that familiar guilt spread inside him. Guilt at bemoaning his own lot when Harry had it so much worse. Had ALWAYS had it so much worse.
For Ron might be stuck inside, tired and cranky and sexually frustrated. But Harry was stuck in Surrey, with hateful relatives, having just been dumped by HIS girlfriend for no good reason and wondering just whether he'd survive his next encounter with the most evil wizard who'd ever lived.
Ron rubbed his tired eyes and stood up, just as a knock sounded on his door.
'Come in,' he called.
'Hey,' said a female voice behind him, as his door creaked open.
It was Ginny.
'Hey,' said Ron, not bothering to hide his sullen tone.
'Mum says we have to start degnoming the garden again in an hour,' Ginny announced, looking disgruntled.
'Lovely,' said Ron. 'Give me a few minutes, Gin, and I'll be jumping up and down about it.'
'Don't take it out on me, I'm just relaying the message--' she began hotly.
'Sorry, sorry,' he said, holding up his hands. 'Sorry.' He meant it, and he looked at his younger sister. She was dressed, her long hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She looked healthy as always. But Ron couldn't help studying her, for some sign...of Voldemort...he'd threatened her, in the Riddle House...he could have come back...
'Ron, quit studying me,' said Ginny, putting her hands on her hips. 'I'm fine, okay? I'm not being possessed.'
'Was I that obvious?' said Ron, looking down at his big feet.
'Trust me, big brother,' said Ginny, and her lips curled into an affectionate smile. 'Subtlety is not in your vocabulary.'
'Sorry,' Ron said again. 'I guess I just...you're sure you're okay?'
Ginny pursed her lips; she looked as though she was trying to keep from biting Ron's head off. 'Yes,' she said firmly, after taking a deep breath.
'Okay,' said Ron, nodding. He turned and headed for his tiny closet, to pull out something to wear for the day's chores; he thought Ginny would leave, but after a moment of rifling through an unkempt pile of clothes on the closet shelf, he felt her gaze on his back.
'What?' he said, turning to face her.
'Thanks,' she said, looking at him, then at her feet. 'For...for asking. I know you're just trying to look out for me.'
'Ginny...' he began. He'd been trying to get her to talk to him, even for a few minutes, about everything. But she always pushed him away.
'I don't want to talk about it, Ron,' she said. 'I'm dealing with it.'
'Okay,' Ron said again, at once. And the subject died.
'See you downstairs,' said Ginny, and she left the room. He watched her go, wanting to believe her, wanting to believe that she was dealing with 'it.' But he simply wasn't sure. And Ginny was good at hiding her feelings, at bluffing. At lying. She didn't take after Fred and George for nothing.
Ron sighed and began to dress, and his stomach rumbled. At least his appetite was still normal, meaning that it was huge. Mum could be a right taskmaster about chores, but she did feed her family well. Degnoming wasn't quite so bad on a full stomach.
'One, two, THREE!' Ginny whipped her arm round and hurled another gnome past the fence.
'Nice one,' Ron said, grinning. 'At least you'll keep your arm in good shape.'
'Yeah, right,' said Ginny, rolling her eyes, but she grinned. Ginny played Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and though Ron might be a bit biased, he thought she was one of the best Chasers he'd ever seen. The lack of Quidditch practice was grating on them both. They were good enough flyers but they didn't have Harry's talent; Harry could go for months without a fly and then get up on his broom as though he hadn't missed a day. Ron and Ginny had to work at it.
Ron's eyes scanned the soil and spotted another gnome. He grabbed it quickly, and the gnome began to squeal.
'Got another one,' Ron announced as he tossed it out of the garden.
'Me, too,' said Ginny, and another gnome went flying.
An hour later they were both filthy and coated in sweat.
'Bloody hell,' Ginny swore. 'Is it just me, or are there a lot more of them this year?'
'That,' said Ron grumpily, 'and there's only two of us left to do this.'
'Must have been shagging like mad over the winter,' said Ginny as she lunged for another gnome. 'Reproduced like rabbits, didn't they?'
'Rabbits don't talk...back...' Ron grunted, picking up yet another struggling gnome, 'when you kick them off the lawn.'
And on it went.
At around noon, Ron heard a loud crack coming from inside the house; he looked up to see the red-haired, slightly plump form of his mother, looking frazzled.
'Mum's back,' he said. 'She looks like she's in a strop.'
'When doesn't she?' said Ginny.
'Good point,' said Ron. 'Let's take a break, anyway, we deserve it.'
'Thank god,' said Ginny, wiping sweat from her brow. She stood up and stretched her back, and the siblings started toward the house.
'Hey, Mum,' said Ron, as they entered the house.
'Hello, dear,' she said, and she went into the pantry and pulled out a magically cooled pitcher of lemonade and some glasses. Her voice was tight and she looked fit to burst.
'What's up, Mum?' said Ginny, with no small amount of trepidation in her voice.
Ron counted to three under his breath, and Mrs. Weasley exploded.
'Oh, this RIDICULOUS trial!' she seethed.
'Trial--' Ginny began.
'Lucius Malfoy, of course!' Mrs. Weasley shouted. 'The Ministry is building their case against him. Which means the Wizengamot is drawing up more raid warrants for the ten or twenty or however many there are houses the Malfoys own! Which means your father has to go on raids every night this week!'
Ron and Ginny exchanged looks. There was generally only one way to deal with Mrs. Weasley when she was in a temper. Keep quiet and let it all blow over.
'They already KNOW they're not going to find anything,' Mrs. Weasley raged. 'Lucius Malfoy's no fool, he'll have covered his tracks, for heaven's sake! The only evidence they've got is witness testimony, and they KNOW it! But NO, they have to send Arthur out on raid after pointless raid. Never mind that he hasn't slept a night at home in weeks and has to camp out at the dreadful place...'
'That dreadful place' was, no doubt, the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, and Ron thoroughly agreed with his mother's assessment of the place. Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.
'What's the point of raids, then, anyway?' Mrs. Weasley went on, and she was pacing now. It was never a good sign when she paced, because it meant whoever was listening to her ranting was in it for a while. 'They don't just have Draco Malfoy's testimony anymore. They've got Harry's now, as well--'
'WHAT?' Ron interrupted.
'What do you mean, they've got Harry's testimony?' Ginny demanded.
Mrs. Weasley stopped pacing and looked at her two youngest children.
'I mean,' she said slowly, in that voice she used when she was trying not to blow up completely, 'that the Wizengamot drew up a subpoena for Harry to appear in court at Lucius Malfoy's trial. He's being ordered to testify.'
'No!' Ron shouted.
'They can't do that!' said Ginny indignantly.
'Bloody hell--' Ron began.
'Language, Ron!' Mrs. Weasley snapped, but Ron went of as if he hadn't heard her.
'--after everything Harry's had to put up with now he has to go to bloody court and testify?'
'What's Madam Bones on about?' said Ginny.
'It's not her decision,' said Mrs. Weasley tightly.
'Of course it's her bloody decision, she's the Minister of Magic!' Ron bellowed.
'Lower your voice, Ron!' Mrs. Weasley shouted, and then she seemed to realize that she was shouting, and lowered her voice. 'Listen to me, both of you. Madam Bones has done a fine job, considering all she's had to deal with. But there's tremendous pressure on the Ministry to convict Malfoy. The Chief Prosecutor wants Harry on the stand, and Madam Bones isn't going to refuse him if it means putting another nail in Malfoy's proverbial coffin.'
'It's not right,' said Ron bitterly. 'Two days, Mum. We've been home two days. And Harry has this to deal with.'
'I know,' said Mrs. Weasley, shaking her head, and her eyes filled with tears. 'That boy has had more grief thrown at him than any decent human being ever deserved.'
'It's not fair! Why Harry?' said Ginny, her voice still hot with anger. 'The rest of us were there, at the Riddle House. We all saw Lucius Malfoy. Why don't we testify?'
Ron took up the theme. 'Yeah, why not us? Me, Ginny, Bill, Hermione, they could probably get Luna and Neville to--'
'It's Harry they want,' said Mrs. Weasley sadly. 'It's not just the Riddle House. The court wants a full accounting of the night...You-Know-Who came back. They want the whole story about the Department of Mysteries. They want to know what part Lucius played in all of that. They can get the whole story from Harry.'
Ginny looked stricken at this news, and Ron ran a hand through his hair.
'Shit,' he muttered, and for once, his mother didn't correct him. 'They're going to make him talk about that night. He hasn't even talked to us.'
'And...and the press,' said Ginny, sounding fretful. 'My god, they'll make such a circus out of this. "The Boy Who Lived Tells All". It'll be horrible for Harry!'
'I know,' Mrs. Weasley said again, and a tear slipped down her cheek.
'Does he know yet?' Ron asked.
'They're owling him tomorrow,' said Mrs. Weasley. 'I can't believe...' Her voice trailed off, and she wiped away the tear and turned away from Ron and Ginny.
'I can't stay long,' she said, her tone suddenly brisk. 'I have to get back to Headquarters and speak with Minerva about the wards.' She picked up a bag and began to dig into it.
'I've got some sandwiches and things for you,' Mrs. Weasley went on, setting out piles of wrapped sandwiches on the kitchen table. 'Make sure you eat up, and clean up when you're finished. I'll be back in time to make dinner. The wards should be ready in two more days and you two will able to practice your Quidditch.'
'Thanks, Mum,' Ron and Ginny both mumbled.
Ron looked down miserably at his shoes. Only a few hours ago he was moping about being stuck in the house. Now the only thing he could think of was Harry, on a witness stand, in a room full of people, being forced to relive the night Cedric Diggory was murdered...to relive the night at the Department of Mysteries...to relive what had happened in the Riddle House. Harry would get the...whatever the official document was called, by post tomorrow. Somehow, Quidditch didn't seem so important right then.
Mrs. Weasley hugged Ginny and Ron both tightly, took a few steps, and Disapparated with a loud crack.
Ron and Ginny both looked at one another at the same time, then at the sandwiches, then back at one another.
'I'm suddenly...not very hungry,' said Ginny.
'Me, neither,' said Ron.
A/N: I'm back! Here is the beginning of the promised sequel. Thanks to all my faithful readers--I'm still getting reviews for my stories, which is wonderful.
A few words on this story. First and foremost, I regret that I cannot promise the rapid-fire updates that so many of you have become accustomed to. My life if very hectic right now, and there is only so much time for me to devote to fanfic writing. Second, the plot for this story is still up in the air. With Book of Morgan Le Fey I pretty much had a basic idea of things right from the start; with this one, things are coming in drips and drabs. I have a beginning and an ending and now I have to come up with a good meaty middle section, and that could take some time, so please bear with me. Third, this story is not going to be told strictly from Ron's perspective. I wish it could be that way, but as this is a seventh-year/final battle story, Harry's perspective has to be included. So you'll be hearing from both of The Guys, and depending on how things go I could include Hermione and/or Ginny perspectives, too. It just depends on whether I feel it would benefit the story (and whether I want to take on the tremendous challenge of writing from the eyes of four characters instead of two). Fourth, I'll reiterate that if you haven't read Book of Morgan Le Fey, I recommend that you do so. I don't plan on spending a great deal of time rehashing the events of that story, because I'm more interested in getting down to things quickly here. The Book of Morgan Le Fey is long but it will really help readers make sense of what's going on in this story.