Authors Notes. For the time being this is the end of the story, I will have to wait for book six before I will know whether it will be possible to continue it. Realistically I would think that a new story will have to be started and I must finish 'Love Conquers All,' as promised.
H.P. Love is All You Need
Chapter 11. The Hetaering.
As much as the previous day had been filled with several extraordinary things and a party, today promised to be what had, for the three of them, become relatively normal.
The trio arrived at 'their place' at ten to eight to find Tonks and the other five members of the Hetaerae already sat around the table eating breakfast; each of the girls, Tonks included, took an interlude to kiss Harry good morning.
It proved to be a day when they were all of the girls had determined to be particularly enthusiastic with their kissing, especially Daphne.
The previous evening Hermione had mentioned to Harry and Ginny that she thought Daphne might have a slight inferiority complex, no doubt created over the years by Draco and his cronies' continuous snide insults. Here she was a true equal and being treated as such, the complex would soon disappear.
Susan was also improving and she was certainly coping a lot better, once again she had managed to keep on her feet, she even found her way, unaided, back to her chair at the table.
As he was going to sit at the table Harry said, "Tonks! What on earth is that…stuff you're eating for breakfast?"
All of the girls had been equally intrigued but much too polite to ask her.
With a small smile she replied, "Kedgeree." Harry looked suspiciously at her plate and shuddered so she continued, "My dad was in India for years and he started eating it there, when he came home he told mum that he liked it. So my mum started making it for him when he was home, me being daddies little girl I copied him and I gradually grew to like it after all its mainly just rice with hard boiled eggs and smoked fish."
Ginny was looking extremely dubious, "So what's the red powder all over it."
With an innocent expression Tonks said, "It's Cayenne Pepper, it gives it a bit of bite, would you all like to try some?"
Hermione adopted her, 'do you think that I am some kind of idiot,' expression, "Cayenne Pepper is made from ground up red chillies and it's a bit like having a volcano in your mouth, so I for one will pass, but thank you for the offer Tonks."
Harry didn't like smoked fish but the others, in the interest of preserving their mouths, passed up the offer as well and breakfast was completed without anything further, of note, happening.
Before they all went to the room of requirements Tonks insisted that Harry opened at least her present to him from the previous day and when he did he found seven enchanted wrist holsters for their wands six of them were white and Harry's was black.
Feigning innocence and with a cheeky smile Harry said, "Thank you Tonks but I don't usually carry seven wands."
Tonks totally ignored his seven wand comment and said, "Well with you being stinking rich and all that, it was a bit difficult for me to think of something to buy you, but these will help keep you all safe and I guessed that you would appreciate that. When you put them on they disillusion themselves, so they can't be seen and no one else can draw or summon your wand from them. If you girls wear them tomorrow with your posh dresses then most people will not know that you are even carrying wands, quite useful.
The nine of them spent the day in the room of requirements they spent their time training, first they learned to use their wand holsters and then the group was learning to act as a single entity, both offensively and defensively. The prophecy, that had started the roller coaster that would cumulate the next day at the Hetaering, had even defined the positions of five of the nine members of the group and who were they to argue.
If it didn't happen tomorrow excellent, but the Dark Lord would soon be with them and when he arrived he would have to be dealt with.
Once again lunch was taken in the Bedouin tent, however joining them today in addition to Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall were, Mrs Patil, Mrs Weasley, Mrs Granger and Amelia Bones.
The Headmaster had information to impart and he began, "First let us be clear that the Hetaerae bonding ceremony is the oldest known union between men and women on the planet and it was conceived in pre-history by the gods of the earth; the Lord of the Forest is their manifestation in our dimension.
Wizard's weddings and those of Muggles are generally very much the same, as can be surmised the formation of a Hetaerae is very similar but it isn't the same and I wish to explain the two major superficial differences.
On the day of a wedding it is not normal for the bride and the groom to meet until she approaches the wedding alter, this applies to both sides, for a Hetaering the wizard and the witches walk to the bonding in a procession. It is obvious that they will not have kept out of each other's sight throughout the morning; in fact it is neither possible nor advisable for them to do so.
All manner of people can carry out a wedding ceremony be it Wizard or Muggle, unlike weddings a Hetaering can only be performed by, 'the Lord of the Forest' and in this context, the Forbidden Forrest is 'The Forest'.
I suppose that like most of you I have always thought that the Forrest was forbidden to keep students out, this being related to all of the dangerous creatures in it, it seemed natural. However I have been doing some research and I discovered that it was called the Forbidden Forest eons before Hogwarts was even thought of let alone built. Apparently it was so named because of the danger of upsetting its Lord who in his own way is probably the most powerful magical entity on the planet, so be warned.
Now it is only left for me to wish you all good luck in your life ahead also to remind you that the procession will assemble in the Entrance Hall prior to eleven thirty in the morning, enjoy your afternoon.
Oh and I must also remind you all to bring your wands, this isn't a game!"
After the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress had left Ron started grinning and said, "Well there's something that your precious 'Hogwarts a History' didn't tell you Hermione."
Daphne replied very tartly, "If the Headmaster didn't previously know about the Forbidden Forrest then I would hardly expect the authors of a school historical information book to be aware of it."
Ron looked suitably chastised and said, "Why is everybody having a go at me all the time?"
Luna spoke as though she was trying to explain something to a small child, "Because Ronnikins, although I love you dearly, in some ways, you don't appear to have grown up very much since you were twelve years old and we are all trying to help you to mature a little. Being needlessly crass and rude to people is something little children do, they usually only get chastised for it. If we carry on doing it at our age and actually upset someone a lot they could really hurt you and I would like you to continue in the shape that I am used to. So in future please try to engage your brain before operating your mouth, we will all appreciate it."
Everybody had finished their lunch and they returned to their training for the afternoon, once again they were practicing operating as a group and also synchronising their spell casting.
When they reached Hermione's home that evening the Granger's had a special dinner, the reason was obvious, it was Harry, Ginny and Hermione's last evening of freedom so really truly they all wanted it to be a little special.
It was as well that he was extremely tired or he wouldn't have slept at all, but before he dozed off it occurred to Harry that this would quite probably be the last night he would ever spend alone in his bed.
Eight o'clock Friday morning found them all gathered somewhat apprehensively around the breakfast table in 'their place', today Tonks was not eating kedgeree she wasn't actually eating anything. The 'all' included the three mothers of four of the girls as well as the aunt of the other two of course Harry and Tonks were also there but, as was everyone else, they were just picking anxiously at the food as well.
All of the fathers had been taken down to the Great Hall for their breakfast, Daphne's uncle, who was officially her guardian, had been one of the first to arrive, he was an 'Unspeakable' and as such he was very difficult to approach.
Ashok Patil, the twins' father was a Senior Healer in St Mungo's Hospital so he and Matt Granger had several things of mutual interest in common. However Arthur (the Muggle lover) Weasley was determined that Ashok was not going to have Matt to himself, Matt was a Muggle after all. In consequence, they were so engrossed in their conversation that it came as quite a shock to the three of them when they were told that it was almost eleven thirty and time for them to assemble in the Entrance Hall. As different as the three of them were, they had managed to become friends in the few hours they had spent chatting together about their different worlds and their children.
Meanwhile back in 'their place' the nervous tension was running high especially amongst the adults, even for Amelia Bones this was an unusual and stressful occasion with her two nieces involved. It related to a prophecy concerning Voldemort and predictions involving the Dark Lord were things that were best treated with the utmost respect, nobody would describe him as the nicest person that they had ever met. His Death Eaters apart, remarkably few people had ever even seen him and survived although two of them would be present today. She determined that in future she would take a leaf out of Albus and Harry's book, both of them had faced him on more than one occasion and neither of them were so scared that they cringed when someone else said his name, after all, it was only a name. She pulled herself together so she concentrated on her nieces, they both looked absolutely delightful and she wasn't going to spoil a momentous day for them.
Molly Weasley was trying not to fuss, but because she was nervous she was still fussing and starting to upset Ginny, eventually her daughter sent her off to check that Ron had washed behind his ears. Halfway from Ginny's room to the room that Ron was using she realised just what Ginny had done to her and she burst out laughing, then she carried on to Ron's room to, deliberately, annoy him for a while. When she eventually returned to Ginny's room the fiery redhead was practically ready so mother and daughter spent their time quite happily chatting and titivating each other's appearance.
Pinkie Patil, the twins mother, was starting to think that this day was purposely designed to find out just how fit she was, or wasn't. She had been trotting backwards and forwards between her two girls rooms in an attempt to offer the maximum support and assistance she could, to each of them. Eventually Padma could see her mother gradually wilting and she sent her off to the lounge to get herself a cup of tea from one of the house elves. When she returned, she was quite refreshed and she was again capable off offering assistance to the pair of them, the fact that they had both moved into one room to finalise their preparations had helped all three of them.
When Jane Granger first went into her daughter's room she was caught between being quite disgusted and flabbergasted. Hermione was wearing fairly tight, white leather shorts that came down to about three inches above her knees, the companion piece appeared to be a white leather basque. Her daughter made no bones about telling her that it wasn't kinky it was dragon hide, from a young Norwegian Ridgeback Dragon and as such it would deflect all but the worst curses that might be thrown at her. Harry had bought it for her as a surprise present, so then he had told her that the hips were the hardest part of the body to dodge with and he liked her hips as they were. As soon as Jane was over her initial shock, she, like her daughter became a model of efficiency and they prepared Hermione for the Hetaering without any trouble. Now her main hope was that her daughter wouldn't need her 'kinky' underwear in anger.
At eleven fifteen they were all ready and after about five minutes cuddling and reassuring each other and the adults, they used their Floo to go down to the Entrance Hall of the castle.
Needless to say there were a lot of people waiting for them and the first thing that Harry did was to ask the six young Aurors from the previous day to look after Hermione's parents, of course they agreed to do this for him. Tonks had heard his request so after telling her boss she took charge of the young Aurors and arranged with them how they were going to form an inconspicuous honour guard for the Grangers.
There were another twenty Senior Aurors waiting in the entrance hall to form a cortège for the procession that would also include several Hogwarts Professors and the Headmaster.
Noticeable by his absence was the Head of Slytherin House, Professor Severus Snape, or as both Harry, Ron and at least three of the girls preferred, 'the greasy haired git'.
As the gathering made its way down the steps from the castle doors, they could see, nearly a mile in the distance, a large group gathered near the junction of the forest and the lake and this was where they were heading.
Harry's first reaction was, 'how did the people know where to go?' However he soon realised that there was a golden glow coming from that part of the forest, it would have drawn them like moths to a candle.
When procession was just past half way to their destination a large group of Death Eaters arrived twenty yards in front of it, the Death Eaters had Voldemort to their rear.
The battle with the Death Eaters such as it was, was swift and bloodless.
All of Voldemort's remaining Death Eaters were there but, maybe it was a sign of the times, there were only forty-three of them, in unison Harry and the Hetaerae swept 'Gwahaniad a Selio', (sever and seal), once from side to side across them.
All forty-three of the Death Eaters were in two pieces and they had their cuts neatly cauterised.
In a way the cauterisation had made the killing totally impersonal, there was no blood, gore or screaming, one second they were alive, standing ready to do harm, the next they were on the ground in two halves, the Aurors were amazed. There had been no quarter given by the students, the Death Eaters had come to kill or maim, the good side had avoided all injuries and disposed of the lawbreakers, quickly and efficiently.
Three of the severing spells had hit Voldemort's shields twice, they had only caused them to flare six times and he laughed evilly. But by the time he had recovered from the shock of losing his followers and he had aimed his wand at Harry, he heard, 'Ffrwydro', a moment before he said, "Ad…"
Seven explosion hexes hit him simultaneously and his shields were gone but so was he, but he was gone sailing, like a golf ball, through the air to land somewhere in the middle of the golden glow nearly half a mile away.
The procession that had been moving regally across the lawn now started to hurry forward, Amelia had detailed four of the Aurors to clear away the bodies and produce a list for them, of who had been killed.
When they reached the Hetaering Dell they could not see the Lord of the Forest because he was emitting a golden glow, which was too bright to look at directly. But they did find a broken Voldemort covered by a grey haze, lying on the ground with his shattered limbs, even now attached, but all at very odd angles, however he was still alive and obviously in a great deal of pain.
As they came over the lip of the dell a voice came into their heads, "You need not your wands here, oh followers of the light."
Absolute trust was one of the things the voice instilled in them all and they put their wands away, the voice in their heads returned reflectively, "It's not human you know, it's a combination of dark magic and an evil, twisted halfblood essence, bound together by magic.
Do you want it Harry Potter?
You have vanquished it as per the prophecy using the power he knows not the power of love, love of you by others and by you for others. Now it is utterly defeated so if you give it to me I will send it into the abyss for all eternity and then this world will be rid of it forever.
So may I have it please?"
The option of not having to kill in cold blood had unexpectedly been offered to Harry, his instinct was to say yes immediately but he turned to Hermione for corroboration. She too was in doubt and she was worrying her bottom lip so she glanced at the Headmaster who gave a little nod, she started smiling then she looked back at Harry and with a proper smile she nodded confidently.
Having received assurance that his initial instinct had been correct Harry said, "You may have it to do with what ever you wish, I assume that it will not be pleasant."
The mental effect of having someone burst out laughing inside your head was something that no one who was there would ever be able to adequately describe in words. Harry didn't know it, but it had been many hundreds of years since the Lord of the Forest had laughed and now he was pleased to do so.
Eventually the Lord of the Forest's mind speech said, "Yes you may safely assume that it will not be very pleasant, I am about to outline the future as it pertains to this abomination.
You are to have your very own private abyss; you never endeared yourself sufficiently to anyone in this life to ever have a single friend. So you will have your dearest wish you are going to live forever but the pain of all of your broken bones will remain with you.
You will be alone for all time.
The grey haze that surrounded Voldemort appeared to compress and eventually it disappeared then a great weight seemed to lift from the world as their minds were filled with joy.
Now the intense golden glow from the Lord of the Forest started to diminish somewhat and as it did they could see that he took the form of a great male unicorn who was accompanied by six normal female unicorns.
"I apologise for the intrusion, to those who come for their Hetaering," the Lord of the Forest said, "are you now ready?"
The seven made their way down into the dell where they were each approached by one of the unicorns, the male going to Harry, a soft, translucent golden haze swallowed them and the wonderful beasts rested their horns on the shoulder's of the seven. A great sense of peace and love came over them it was followed by an intense feeling of unity coupled with respect for each other, also the certain knowledge that all would give their life in defence of their unity.
When the haze cleared the joining was done and the Lord told them so, but he asked them to wait a few more minutes and then he called, "Adam Ollivander are you here as I commanded?"
Mr Ollivander manoeuvred his way to the front of the spectators and said, "How may I be of service, my Lord?"
The unicorn said, "I allow you of times to come and collect materials for your business from my Forest, you have never offered and I have never asked for payment, well today I am asking. You are to draw one tail hair from each of us, it is for your saviours and you are to use the correct hair for the person each of we seven unicorn's have aligned ourselves with.
I am asking that you make them each a staff of life and for this you will require wood from the tree of life, which as you well know is the Holly. Holly trees are not usually big enough to give sufficient wood, but if you come near here at eight in the morning one of my number and my friend Hagrid will lead you into 'My Forest' to where you can collect the wood.
Jane and Matt Granger will you please come forward?"
Hermione's mother and father momentarily looked shocked but they soon came down into the dell and the Lord of the Forest continued, "You personify what is best amongst all people, you are Muggles yet you not only allow your only daughter into our Magical world but you support both her and her friends within it. I wish to give you a small gift, that of being able to see the things that are normally hidden from non-magical folk, I thought of making you magical but you are now adults and that gift would probably cause too many problems in your lives. However if you can see it is possible that the Headmaster will be able to use your knowledge for the teaching of Muggle Studies and you will be much nearer to your daughters world."
A golden glow surrounded Matt and Jane and when it cleared they were able to see many things that had previously been hidden from their eyes.
The Lord of the Forest continued, "Headmaster I have told Bain that he is to beg Firenze's forgiveness and ask him to rejoin the heard with full permission for him together with any of the other centaurs that wish, to help the children as needed.
Lastly Harry and you ladies, know that the staffs Ollivander makes for each of you will be extremely powerful so you are all to be very careful with them, if you ask Godric he will direct you to the correct books to study. You and henceforth all of your children will be forever welcome to enter and study in 'The Forest', it is time that the old magic residing here was relearned. If ever you need one of us, even if it is only for advise, then if you come near this place we will come to you, virginity will not be an issue for you six ladies.
Ah I see that Ollivander has finished collecting tail hairs at last, so we will be going now, goodbye to you seven and we will see you again."
The seven unicorns turned and following the Lord of the Forest they disappeared into the trees and the dell, which had appeared magically in the morning, disappeared and the ground took up its normal aspect.
Nobody said anything or moved for several minutes, they were all stunned by the enormity of some of the things that had transpired, but eventually people started talking quietly then Harry turned to Hermione and kissed her gently.
The other five girls were amazed and they all exclaimed at the same time, "I felt that!"
Harry turned to Ginny and kissed her, when he stopped Hermione was smiling and nodding her head, it obviously worked for all of them.
With wide eyes and a big smile Ginny said, "What's going to happen tonight when you two…"
Ginny couldn't continue because she and the other four were giggling too much, Hermione and Harry had complexions that would be a good colour match for a beetroot.
Authors Notes. Your Howlers are expected and will be well received, however where would I go from here that wouldn't seriously impinge on a sequel. The situation I have tried to leave myself in is one that I like and it will not be too restrictive if I decide to continue the tale, there are many possibilities.
There is now less than three weeks before the release of book six and I must finish 'Love Conquers All', as well. So if you can find it in your hart to forgive me PLEASE REVIEW and thank you.