The lights blinked off. Then on again. And off. Then, all at once, all the glass in all the lights, bottles and lenses burst so fine it filled the air with sand. In every home in England. In every home in Europe. Both magical... and muggle.
But even the magical homes had no idea what could have caused this, what had the power to do so. In fact, possibily the only place that may suspect the cause had busied themselves with calming party guests. The British Ministry of Magic, home to the Department of Mysteries, was protected in a pocket of time and space that cushioned the event but didn't protect them.
The look on the faces of the party planners was a mixture of surprise and horror as every delicate crystal glass full of rare liquors burst, staining satin dress robes, and the elaborate chandeliers seemed to explode, the largest shards of glass raining on the party guests and cutting thier shoulders and cheeks the same.
At the Ministry of Magic, in thier ballroom, the most powerful political figures in the world of magic began to panic. A flurry of shield charms were shot into the air at non existent attackers and the aurors guarding the event jumped into action... except... there was no dark wizard on the premises to subdue.
Murial Small, head event coordinator, also jumped into action with auror-like reflexes. He bound to the small platform for the band and speakers. Before him, he saw chaos. The torches exploded with flame and the false sunset that had been playing dusk for hours outside the glass walls of the Ministry ballroom defied it's charm and lit the wall with piercing, platinum light before flashing into darkness. The torches died in an instant.
"We're under attack!" yelled a shrill voice.
"Sonorus," whispered Murial, "lumos, lumos, lumos, lumos," he lit each corner of the room, others too threw balls of light into the sky and the entire room was bathed in a pale glow.
"Please, everyone, be calm," Murial said to the group. It did nothing.
Murial heard the aurors talking to Scrimgeor, "We can't find anyone. There's no one here."
"Just a glitch everyone," Murial continued, "there's no one here. We're not under attack. Just stay calm, no need to panic. Everything is fine."
The guests began to quiet and paused to listen to him, wands still in hand though. Murial eyed terrified dates and body guards shielding thier handlers.
"Nothing to worry ab-" Murial was cut off.
"Is that the party planner?"
"Get out of here, get an auror up there!"
"Where's someone who knows what they're talking about?" the crowd and Ministry officials began angrily.
Murial felt hands pull his robes and push him off the stage. Scrimgeor and some aurors took his place as Murial was tossed on the marble floor. He felt shards of glass pierce the palms of his hands. This was his show. He would be the one to figure out what was going on.
He cut a sharp line through the anxious crowd. At the door out of the room, where the suspended time bubble ended, Murial raised his wand. He muttered the password to disable the automatic locking system and slipped out the door.
He ran down the hallway, which had been bewitched to ease the transition between the fake euphora of the ballroom and the real world. It was now empty. He could hear voices ahead of him, they sounded awed.
Murial rounded a corner and stopped dead in his tracks. His heart stopped.
The huge glass windows looking out over the real London showed a bizarre and terrifying scene. Night had burst into ferious, growling storms in the broken blood and blue sky, ripped sharply between dozens of bolts of lightning. Clouds rolled on themselves and a thick mist drifted through the streets, flooding over the tops of the buildings.
"Sweet Mother of Merlin..." Murial whispered.
Aurors ran past him. Scrimgeor arrived a moment later, stopping where Murial had.
"Get every soldier we have," Scrimgeor whispered to an auror. Murial could feel the power of his words as fear coiled in the pit of his stomach.
One of the other party planners arrived at his side, he was a civil servent too. Murial needed to do his job and protect the people.
"Get every bottle of wine we have... and serve it to the guests," he whispered to the assistant. He had vowed to serve even in times of fear and emergency.
If Murial understood exactly how dire the situation was however, he likely would have gone to spend those precious moments with his family.
Harry felt sick. He clenched his jaw. What had he done, he thought helplessly. What had he just let loose on the world. The midnight sky around the clearing in the forest had turned an eerie shade of red. Voldemort stood a few meters away inspecting his own hands and forarms as blue magic traveled up and and crisscrossed his pale skin.
Harry hated himself more than he hated Voldemort at that moment. Except even his notion of hate was dulled by the realization he was the last Horcrux. Life felt so pointless and painful then. Why should he even care anymore? How could this be real? Not just a cruel joke, with every twist getting worse and worse.
He wanted it all to end.
Guilt slowly twisted his insides. People needed him and he had given up. It was the moment of truth, the last stand and he had stopped caring. How had he forgotten what it was all for? Why everything had built up to this moment. And how much had been sacraficed for him.
"We take the Ministry now, while they're still blind, everything will fall after that. We will have Hogwarts by noon, Europe at dusk."
"No," Harry spoke.
Voldemort turned to look at him. A smile spread across his face. The Death Eaters began to laugh.
"Harry," Voldemort said, "you've already failed."
"No," Harry repeated.
"My power is infinate now. And you will become weaker each time I use it until your heart doesn't even have the energy to beat and you will die."
A shiver ran through Harry's body. He didn't know that.
"No," he said once more for lack of anything else to reply.
Voldemort laughed. He waved his hand lazily and Harry was thrown backward powerfully, his ribs cracked and pierced his skin as he collided with a tree and he fell to the ground like a rag doll.
Harry groaned, burning pain echoing around his body and the frosted ground numbing his cheek. He willed open his eyes to see.
"Take him back to Grimmauld Place. Leave him alive enough to know what he has done," Voldemort said to three of his Death Eaters before he and the rest disappeared.
One of the three Death Eaters approached Harry and lifted him by his hair. The Death Eater took off his mask. Fenir Greyback. Harry gritted his teeth as the werewolf licked his sharpened teeth. The other two Death Eaters too removed thier masks. Regulus and Wormtail.
Harry saw out of the corner of his eye Lupin beginning to move. He caught Wormtail's gaze. The guilt and the pain and the anger and the sorrow came away and was replaced with white hot rage. Some limit within him broke and Harry felt his body fill with more power than even he had ever known before.
His broken bones knit stronger than before and the pain was absorbed then added to the power. He grabbed Greyback's wrist. The werewolf felt his skin burn beneath his sleeve and let go of Harry. Instantly realizing his mistake, he grabbed his wand but Harry was too quick for him.
He dodged Greyback's curse to face Regulus and Wormtail. Lupin had got to his knees but the Death Eaters hadn't noticed. Lupin was disarmed and looked disoriented.
"Crucio!" Regulus yelled. Harry instinctively put up his hand and without reason or warning, he stopped the curse midair. No one moved. "Crucio!" Regulus tried again. The curse stopped.
Behind him, Greyback yelled, "destruire!" Harry spun to his knees and stopped it too. He looked back at Regulus and Wormtail, Regulus had noticed Lupin stirring and was advacing towards him with his wand ready. Harry knew now they had no reason to keep Lupin alive and no instructions to do so. He had to stop them.
He concentrated on Regulus and he was thrown out of the clearing in the same way Voldemort had done to Harry only moments ago.
But he had let his guard down. It was too late. Fenir Greyback knocked him down, wand at his throat. He seemed to change his mind in an instant. He grabbed Harry by the jaw and Harry struggled and Greyback's nails cut him and teeth began to sink into his shoulder.
He felt something warm spill down his front. It smelt like blood. Greyback's bite had frozen. His blood? No. It couldn't be. There was too much. His skin was numb. He felt Greyback had gone rigid, he pulled away from his grasp. The werewolf's mouth had morphed to a silent scream as he looked down. Something was glinting in his chest.
Harry took another step backward. He saw Wormtail behind Greyback and realized in horror what the silver protruding from Greyback's chest was. Wormtail had punctured Greyback's body with his silver hand, shining fingers, covered in blood twisted and ripped Greyback's robes. Wormtail pulled his hand out of Greyback and stumbled away as Greyback fell to his knees.
Blood began to pour through Greyback's teeth. The blood turned black and it rotted his chin as it dribbled down. The rot began to spread and Greyback's skin turned gray before curling and breaking open. The silver had poisoned the werewolf and his back arched in pain on the ground beneath the red sky as he decayed-alive.
His long fingernails clawed at the ground before ripping from his graying fingers. His spine curved further than it should and he began to howl in pain. His howl became a sickening scream and his body fell limp. Dead.
Harry met Wormtail's horrified eyes.
"Traitor!" Regulus had re-emerged from the trees, "Avada kedavr-"
Lupin leapt up to Regulus and stabbed something into Regulus's shoulder. He struggled to push Lupin off of him, weakened by the moon and wolfsbane, Lupin fell back but twisted the knife and Regulus yelled and fell to his knees, a knife was stuck in his shoulder but he had managed to hold onto his wand.
"Traitor!" Regulus yelled again, though this time his wand was aimed at Lupin.
Blood poured from the knife wound in his shoulder to the ground.
"Avada kedavra!" Regulus pointed his wand back to Wormtail and yelled. Wormtail was dead before he even knew what had happened.
Regulus pulled the knife from his shoulder and the wound began to heal itself. Voldemort's Death Eaters were more powerful then ever, and if Voldemort's power was infinite, he had likely portioned a huge amount to each Death Eater as none would ever have the ability to challenge him.
He got to his feet, his wand on Lupin now.
"Move, and I kill him," Regulus said, "I never was fond of you Remus."
"The only ones you were ever fond of were Voldemort and your mother. Not belonging to that group is an honour," Remus said.
"Bitter, aren't we? You were always more mature then that. I suppose being betrayed by James's son will do that to you though," Regulus teased.
"Finish this, Harry," Remus said.
But Harry wouldn't sacrafice Remus's life.
"Good boy," said Regulus.
Another figure had appeared behind Regulus. As it got closer, Harry couldn't tell if it was a Death Eater or not, all he knew was that he had to leave there and stop Voldemort. It had to be a hallucination, Harry thought as he realized who the figure was.
The voice he had heard earlier in the cabin.
Sirius was there.
He must be alive.
"Sirius," Harry breathed.
Regulus whirled around to see what had distracted Harry. Sirius put a pale hand on Regulus's shoulder and looked to Harry.
"I know you can handle this, but I couldn't pass up one last battle," Sirus smiled.
Something about the way he grabbed Regulus had paralyzed him.
"You're dead!" Regulus yelled.
"I know," said Sirius.
Sirius tightened his grip on Regulus and Regulus's eyes, wide with fear, landed on Harry. Harry looked to Sirius, who was still smiling calmly.
"Come on, Brother," Sirius said, "a lot of people have been waiting for you."
Sirius grabbed Regulus's neck and forced his mouth open, something white and translucent floated out and Regulus's body crumpled to the ground. Harry wasn't sure how he knew it, but he could feel Regulus had just died. A chill ran through his body.
"You can't go," Harry said to Sirius.
"Harry, listen to me," Sirius said purposely, stepping close to Harry. Harry could feel a void where Sirius was supposed to be. He had to be some kind of ghost, "you're going to finish this. I know you're going to because I know you," Sirius spoke with a calm urgency, purposefully.
"Just st-" Harry started.
"Harry, you don't need me. You never did. But I am always with you when you think you do," he placed his hand on Harry's shoulder, Harry felt his presence though he couldn't feel his hand, "kill him."
Harry nodded. Sirius smiled.
"I'm really not supposed to be here though," Sirius said mischieviously as though all he had done was sneak out past curfew, "Moony," he nodded and acknowledged Lupin. Sirius cast another look back to Harry and he began to fade into the night itself.
"Profe-" Harry began, Harry noticed Lupin was injured.
Voldemort. Voldemort would be at the Ministry. He had to stop him.
The castle was eerily still.
Ginny had drifted far away though.
She had been returned to Hogwarts that night because it would be the safest place for her. She had ran there with the hundreds of others seeking refuge within it's walls since the storm had started. By then, they all knew it couldn't just be a storm and a phenomenom in nature though. This was dark magic at it's core.
Death Eaters arrived at the Ministry only hours before. None had yet been seen at Hogwarts.
She looked around the Gryffindor tower. What did they all know? Did any realize she had been a captive of Lord Voldemort less than a day before? Did any of them know this was her fault? If they did, did they not speak to her out of anger? Or out of fear?
Most, she knew though, were simply terrified. Thier families weren't in the castle, the way most of the Weasleys were. Thier families were unprotected in muggle towns, easy targets for the Death Eaters before, and now like sheep to the slaughter.
But part of her knew it wasn't yet hopeless. If it didn't then she would have dissolved already and allowed herself to spend this night crying in her mother's arms the way the child within her begged to. For it was there that none of this existed and the world would always be safe. She wouldn't have to accept the fact that this may be the end of life as she knew it.
Harry was still there.
Harry was still alive.
Harry still was a refuge for the last of her hope.
Ron was holding Hermione in an armchair. Tears were sliding down her cheeks though her face showed no emotion. They had been returned to the school still half asleep and it had been a cruel awakening when they heard what had happened.
A few students were missing from the tower. They were likely the ones whose family had found thier way to Hogwarts. The Great Hall had been fortified also and along with the four houses, the Hogwarts population waited in silence. There was nothing left to do but wait until the Ministry falls, at which time the school surely would follow.
A student renewed the lumos charm that kept the common room lit. Sound punctured the silence very suddenly, mechanical, tinny sound.
Colin Creevy had accidentally flipped his radio, he quickly shut it off as everyone stared at him angrily.
"Sorry," he mumbled.
He had been listening to a performance at the Ministry of Magic Ball. All the speeches were to be broadcast as they were public interest. Now, however, after a wizard had begged the Ministry's guests to be calm then was ousted from the stage and Rufus Scrimgeor had asked the same, the broadcast was turn off.
Ginny had distinctly heard someone whispering.
She had assumed the broadcast was off the air. But now she believed it may still be airing.
"...Turn it back on," she whispered. Everyone stared at her. Perhaps they did know she was so recently a captive of Voldemort. Colin eyed her then slowly turned the knob on his radio and it clicked on.
"No point in pretending they're not out there," Ginny justified her request to the silent but questioning eyes of Gryffindor.
"Oh, and so we can know exactly when we're going to die," Seamus said angrily.
"Seamus!" Hermione hissed. Some of the younger students looked more horrified, if possible.
"Well if we're not going to be pretending anymore, why not confront the whole truth!" Seamus yelled, the tower began to turn on it self as everyone began hissing at each other, "we're all going to die. And you're in denial if you don't think so. Dumbledore's not here anymore," Seamus said over all the voices and they fell into silence. Sobbing, blankly staring or somberly agreeing.
"...But Harry is," Ginny said quietly. Eyes flickered up to her.
She looked to Ron and Hermione. Fresh tears breached Hermione's eyes, Ron looked away angrily. He was Harry's best friend but was angry at Harry's betrayal in Grimmauld Place. Ginny knew it was just guilt on Ron's part.
She noticed more and more people looking to her. Even Seamus cast a fugitive glace in her direction. She smiled more confidently then she knew she could. She suddenly forgave all her feelings of doubt in Harry when she had seen him with Voldemort in Grimmauld place. If they did share any connection, Ginny offered every ounce of strength she had to him.
She prayed she was right.
Harry had again used Draco's dark mark to find Voldemort. He knew he had apparted far. The air was smoky, he heard screaming and saw the air light up with curses every few seconds. He crouched to the ground, hidden by the dense smoke. He had to be in the Ministry of Magic. As his eyes adjusted he saw overturned tables and the remains of what looked like a fancy party.
Outside the windows, the storm had broke through the enchanted sky and they now showed the weather off England. The clouds burst with lightning and rolled across the sky in a colour of deep red and black.
Harry's scar stung. Voldemort was close. He knew the aurors were there. The Death Eaters must be fighting somewhere. Did the Ministry know though that Voldemort's forces could appart to his side the way Harry had just done. They must have already broken the appartion charms. Harry got to his feet. He was still wandless, but that didn't feel like it mattered anymore.
"Stupefy," Harry said, hand raised towards a group of Death Eaters. A few slumped over, some were thrown off balance, most, however were simply pushed slightly and thier shields cracked. Now they had noticed him. Some of the aurors glanced at him. The Death Eaters stopped and Voldemort too turned his gaze from his duel with Scrimgeor to Harry.
He had more Death Eaters. The aurors were severly out numbered and there were guests too, hiding behind tables and in corners of the room. Some looked injured and a few weren't moving. Voldemort's looked insane with power, it coursed through his face too. Harry felt Voldemort's mind, the connection between them. This was a game to the Death Eaters. The aurros didn't have a chance. They were taunting them.
The duels had stopped when they saw him.
"Harry, nice of you to join us," Voldemort said, "you never disappoint," he hissed in parseltongue.
"This ends tonight," Harry said. The Death Eaters had now turned thier wands from thier apponents and aimed them at Harry.
"It already has, Child, give up," Voldemort hissed in a teasingly soothing voice.
The aurors began trying to take advantage of the Death Eaters' distraction, but all thier spells disapated. They hadn't known how powerful Voldemort had made his servants.
"It's not over until one of us is dead," Harry hissed. He was somewhat aware that his speaking parseltongue was making the already-confused aurors nervous.
"As you wish," Voldemort smiled, "Impacus!"
Harry dove out of the way as Voldemort's wand shot a huge crater into the marble floor where he was just standing. The broken chunks of marble flew at him and Harry sheilded himself wandlessly. Harry concentrated and out his wrist a curse shot towards Voldemort.
Voldemort effortlessly blocked Harry's attack.
"Crucio!" Voldemort yelled. This was more powerful then Regulus's curse before and it struck Harry in the chest. He bit through his tongue and colapsed, willing himself not to scream as pain cut him open. He twisted out of the grip of the curse.
He felt the connection with Voldemort. He predicted it. He knew Voldemort's next move.
"Protia!" Harry yelled, Voldemort's curse didn't reach Harry.
But he didn't stay ahead. Voldemort flicked his wrist at Harry and a powerful column of air twisted him off his feet and sent him backwards into a wall. Before Harry could regain his footing, Voldemort repeated the motion and Harry was sent into the glass wall. The thick, enchanted glass that hadn't been destroyed like most of the rest of the glass into Europe gave way under the force Harry was thrown with and cut at his skin and robes.
The glass didn't entirely break through. He felt his arm crack then heal itself instantly.
"Crucio!" Voldemort said again before Harry knew what was happening. The pain overloaded in his brain and his body reached a new kind of paralyzed numbness.
He felt another presence near him.
"Finish him," Harry heard Voldemort say in parseltongue. He lifted the curse, Harry realized he was on the ground, he rolled just in time to see Nagini poised and ready to strike above him. Her fangs dripped with poison. He shielded himself as her head plunged down to stab him with her fangs. She seemed to grow in size as they struggled. Harry grabbed the ton-snake with his hands and wrestled her head away from his neck.
One of his hands was wrapped around one of her fangs and the other clenched her slippery, scales. Harry felt the power in his veins melt through the palms of his hands, where he had gripped her skin angry gashes had appeared, showering Harry's aching body with blood, her fang slipped away from his other hand as she pulled her head backwards.
Nagini's tail whipped around and caught Harry before he got to his feet. He grabbed her skin again and more red, bleeding cuts travelled the length of her body. Nagini hissed and spat. She readied to strick once more, the rest of her body now writhering and whipping around in the pooling blood.
Harry held his palms up before she could strike him and blue magic shot like daggers from his wrists, wrapping around the snake and forcing her to the ground. Nagini stopped struggling and lay unmoving on the ground. Voldemort no longer looked happy. He now held a horrible look of fury directed at Harry, who forced his fear away from the surface. There was no time.
"Kill him," Voldemort was finished playing games.
Every Death Eater raised thier wands at Harry, but Harry was now prepared. He knew what he was dealing with and wouldn't underestimate them again. He also wouldn't risk Avada kedavra though. He dodged every curse then raised his arms, palms facing outward, the blue magic danced around his fingers for moments before exploding and expanding, sending each Death Eater flying and temporarily stripping them of their magic.
It was now Harry and Voldemort.
More marble around Harry shot up, filling the air with dust again.
"Uccidere!" Voldemort hissed, ancient and dark magic only spoken in parseltongue.
Harry couldn't dodge this one, it filled the air and began to choke the air from his lungs.
"Possos," Harry choked, Voldemort's wand was knocked away from him. Harry's eyes began to water as his throat begged for air, Harry aimed his hand rigid at Voldemort.
Voldemort grasped his chest where Harry was trying to send a curse at him.
"Occulus!" Voldemort yelled.
Harry's vision clouded black. He couldn't breathe or see. He began to feel dizzy from the lack of air. Harry could still sense Voldemort. He felt Voldemort's power in his own mind. He forced it backwards, away from him.
Harry gasped a wheezing, choking breathe as he forced the curse away from his own throat and spots of colour began to dissolve the blackness of his sight.
He did the same, now, but with his hands. He felt Voldemort's power. He used his own to force it away from the old wizard.
This had to end then.
"Immobilius Spiritus," Harry said using a powerful variation of the body bind, trapping Voldemort in a bubble of his own power.
For the first time, Harry saw what looked like a spasm of fear go across Voldemort's face.
Voldemort released all the curses he currently held, he knew it was the only way to free himself, the aurors were able to stand. The doors to the Great Hall were able to open as the Order of the Phoenix rushed in.
"Arri-" Voldemort began.
"Avere!" Harry yelled. Harry forced Voldemort's power from his body and into his own. But it was too much. Voldemort was still too powerful and the effort was weakening Harry, "slisus!"
Voldemort's skin began to bruise black as the veins under it's surface began to corrode. Harry used this oppertunity to try and absorb more of Voldemort's power.
"Crearae," Voldemort said, stopping Harry without bothering to repair his own body.
But it was a mistake. The magic that had coursed through his veins was now radiating away from him, out of his skin and into the air. He was rapidly loosing power. Harry saw what might be his only chance.
"Leave," he hissed, "leave and never come back and I'll let you live." Harry whispered. Voldemort knew he was loosing his magic more quickly than it could be regenorated.
"One of us will kill tonight," Voldemort hissed.
"Leave," Harry repeated in English. He knew the Order had arrived and the aurors were conscience again. He had subdued the Death Eaters already and now Voldemort was on his last life.
"One of us needs to kill," Voldemort repeated, his voice was beginning to fail.
"Leave, disappear," Harry wasn't giving him a choice.
Voldemort eyed Harry. He saw his own hands and arms, which once were entwined with power, now were black with blood bubbling through his skin. He gave a small nod. Harry looked around at the Death Eaters, Aurors, Ball Guests and the Order.
Had he just made a huge mistake? Voldemort hadn't taken the bait?
Without warning, Voldemort aimed his wand at Harry, "Avada Kedavra!"
The curse hit Harry's arm.
No one took a breath. Voldemort smiled icily. Harry was frozen for a moment, still standing before his body would fall.
But then... his body didn't fall... Harry looked down at where the curse hit him. The green light had cut his robes and now danced on his skin. His gamble paid off. He looked at Voldemort with a small smile, suddenly a look of pure terror flashed across Voldemort's face. He realized his mistake. He met Harry's eyes.
"One of us dies tonight," Harry whispered.
The green light continued to dance on Harry's skin, then it slithered down his arm and wrapped itself around his forearm and hand the way Voldemort's had done before. Voldemort said nothing. The magic surged from Harry's hand and shot back into Voldemort's wand. There was a moment of silence, then, the very air seemed to explode.
The glass windows that had now survived two events were blown apart. Storms outside roared. The marble floors around Harry and Voldemort cracked. Even the lumos charms in the sky flooded the room and bathed it in yellow light.
Chaos fell to calm. The glass rested on the outside ground. The lumous charms disappeared. The sky drifted into a placid lavender hue and the clouds dissolved to show a gently rising sun. The dust from the marble began to settle in the Ministry of Magic's Ballroom. Every auror, Order Member and able-Party Goer raised thier wands and aimed them at the centre of the room where the duel had taken place.
The dead snake, now coated in a paste of dust and blood. Then the sillouettes of a body on the ground and another standing over it. The final clouds of dust fell to reveal seventeen year old Harry Potter standing over the fallen body of Lord Voldemort.
It was Scrimgeor who first moved forward. He had been forgotten in the attack.
Scrimgeor kept his wand on Voldemort's body. He looked at Harry for a moment. The aurors kept their wands on Voldemort. Then, the Order came forward, except, they had thier wands trained on Harry. He watched them confused then caught Minerva McGonagall's eye. She lowered her wand, as did every other member of the Order.
Harry nodded. Scrimgeor opened his mouth to say something to the young victor, but Harry disappeared from the scene in an instant.
In the clearing of the Dark Forest of Albania, the sun there too was rising. Harry felt a stone sit heavy in his stomach as he approached the cabin. He took a deep breath before walking in. Harry wasn't sure what he was expecting to see, but he was nonetheless surprised.
Remus Lupin was inside reading an ancient-looking tome. He seemed so impossibly calm. Harry wasn't calm. He was so far from it, he drifted in a slight daze.
"Harry," Lupin said, seeing him, "...Voldemort?"
The duel had finished less then a minute ago. Harry hadn't even had the courage to think about the result, let alone say it. But now, in the presence of one of the few people in the world he trusted, he finally felt the victory he was supposed to.
"I-I killed him," Harry said.
But the victory didn't take away his sadness.
Lupin's face broke into a smile, "I thought you would... Harry?" his face fell again, seeing the youth's sadness, "what's wrong? Voldemort's gone?"
"I-I killed him."
"...Harry... listen to me... you had to do it."
"...That's not it... I killed him... but he would still exist in me..."
Harry made no motion to deny or confirm it.
"I-I should fix this before he r-returns," Harry muttered sollomly, looking at the scales. The book Remus had been reading read "Balance" on the front in Latin, "d-do you kn-"
Harry looked at Lupin.
"He's not coming back," Lupin stated smiling.
"...But I'm the final horcrux and I'm still alive, I-"
"Harry, do you remember what destroys Voldemort?" Lupin asked.
Harry didn't say anything. First, it had been love, and then again. Most recently it had been forgiveness that destroyed him. Harry had remembered he learned the power of forgiveness was infinite and thus why a life debt was eternally binding. When Harry forgave Voldemort and showed him mercy, he had shown his love of any life was more powerful then his desire to destroy, it was the only thing that could kill Voldemort for it was the only power he could never harness.
"Love?" Harry asked.
"Yes, Harry, love."
"Do you really think any piece of his soul could exist in you if you have love?"
A weight lifted off of Harry's shoulders. The victory was real. Voldemort was gone. He would never come back. He would never again be able to hurt Harry or the people he loved. He had been killed. His parents, Sirius, Dumbledore, what they had been fighting for had finally been achieved.
Harry felt the rising sun through the window warm his cheek. Inside he felt warm and whole for the first time since Dumbledore's death.
"It's over?" Harry asked, daring to let a smile cross his face.
"I think I know how to destroy the last horcrux for sure too," Harry said. He would do it after resetting the balance in the cabin.
It was a celebration uncomparable to anything that had happened in the last 16 years. The Creevy radio had gotten official confirmation that Harry Potter had destroyed Voldemort fifteen minutes before, and ten minutes earlier the Gryffindor tower was allowed to be open again. There was even more crying now then before, though now there were tears of happiness.
Ginny had remained in her armchair, curled up with a smile and now a bottle of butterbeer. All of the world's magical population was celebrating at that moment. By 1 o'clock in the morning, word had reached the Americas, Africa and Asia of the emergency in England and they knew thier fate would be decided too.
But she didn't really care at that moment what had been riding on Harry. All Ginny cared about was seeing him again, no celebration would ever match that and she couldn't be truely happy again until they were together again. She saw that the party had spilled out of the Gryffindor common room and into the halls of Hogwarts. Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws and even Slytherins were celebrating in the halls and the Gryffindor common room.
They were crying and drinking and swapping Harry-rumours. Ginny sighed and then she felt her heart flutter. That connection that couldn't be decided to exist or not sparked up. She felt someone behind her. Ginny craned in her chair but saw no one.
"Shh," she heard a voice in her ear, "I want to talk to you."
Harry's voice. She felt an invisible hand take her hand and lead her from the common room and carefully out through the hall. It was too crowded for anyone to notice or care about an invisible being pushing past them. Harry led her down a hall further away and out a door to a secluded corner of the lawns where they were finally insulated from the celebrations.
The invisibility cloak slid off Harry's shoulders. Ginny threw her arms around him, her eyes brimming with tears and she buried herself in his neck. He smelt like blood, sweat and dirt. But it was more perfect than anything she could have imagined.
"Harry," she cried.
"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," he whispered in a strangled voice to her.
"No, Harry..." she snifled, "I was so worried."
"I'm so sorry you had to go through that... I-I'll never let it happen again..."
"Harry... no... it wasn't your fault," she didn't care about Voldemort catching her anymore. It was over. It didn't matter. He had to be crazy to think she blamed him in the least, "Harry it's over. It's all over. You did it."
"I love you."
"I love you too."
"It's all over."
"Yes, Harry," she kissed his cheek. More tears had started to fall from her eyes. Harry pulled away from her, "Harry?"
He took a step back, not looking at her. She could sense he was anxious.
"Harry, what's wrong? What is it?"
He took a deep breath and met her eyes. His green eyes looked terrified. Ginny was scared. What had happened. Why did this happiness have to end. Then, Harry took another step away from her... then he took a step down... on one knee...
"Harry..." she didn't risk think it.
"Ginny... I love you more than I thought I ever could love someone and you're the only one on this Earth and in this universe I want to spend the rest of my life with. I know we're young, but I can't imagine ever finding anyone I love as much as I love you and I know I'd never want to even look. Ginny," he took another deep breath, "will you marry me?"
She couldn't even speak. Ginny nodded her head, crying more, "yes," she whispered, "yes!" she said again, gathering her voice. Harry jumped to his feet and grabbed her by the waist, picking her up and spinning her around. Ginny screamed with happiness.
It was too perfect.
He had proposed.
They were going to get married.
Voldemort had been destroyed and he had asked to marry her.
She never wanted this happiness to end. She never wanted the moment to end because nothing could be as perfect as it was then. Harry, smelling like a fight, the ground sparkling with shards of the weaker Hogwarts windows and was soaked from the storm. The sun was now high in the air adn there was a pink haze that cast a rose glow over the grounds.
Inside the castle, she heard the party get louder, but they stayed there longer.
When they finally did go back in, it was no longer just students celebrating. Hogsmeade and every surrounding town had made thier way to Hogwarts. Even the ghosts and house elves were dancing in the halls.
Ginny noticed Harry was shly trying to hide his face but he was doing an abysmal job of it and within moments of entering the castle again the crowds had begun surging towards him. He clutched Ginny close to him and she was glad because if not, they would have been definately torn apart by the overly exciting crowd.
"Harry!" Ginny heard Hermione scream. She flung herself and Ron through the crowd and threw her arms around Harry. Even Ron looked like he was about to cry. Ginny had forgotten just how close to this they were. Ron and Hermione had been there with Harry for the last seven years, through the worst of Voldemort and Harry. They were a team that kept Harry alive and giving him his first real friendships. The first people he knew to trust.
Harry and Ron wrestled with it for a moment before throwing thier arms around each other in a hug. Ginny stood with Hermione, still crying but not sure why anymore. The crowd was begging Harry to tell them what had happened. He said over and over that he was tired. Ginny blushed and clutched his arm. She didn't care how he had done it. She was just happy he was back and safe now.
They were in the entrance hall when Ginny spotted Hagrid cutting a huge and possibly dangerous path in the students, knocking some over and picking up Harry four feet off the ground in a huge. His jaw was broken and wired shut be he was still trying to say something to Harry. Ginny could tell Harry was genuinely glad to see Hagrid.
When he was put down, Professor McGonagall had arrived and the crowds were now giving them a small, but precious, birth.
She held out her hand for Harry to shake, "Harry," she said, "I knew you could do it."
"...Thank you," he said.
"Sirius would be proud," she whispered. Tears now in her eyes.
Hagrid tried to add something that sounded a little bit like "and so would Lily and James."
"Please follow me," she said to Harry, speaking to him like an equal. He did as did Ginny, Ron and Hermione into the private, teachers' chambers.
Inside the largest, Ginny saw the Order of the Phoenix and her own parents. They all jumped into congratulations, and some mild scolding at a gamble Harry apparently made. Harry was told he would be recieving the Order of Merlin First Class.
Then she and Harry made her way to Ginny's parents.
Ginny's mum hugged Harry and whispered something in his ear. Mr. Weasley held out his hand. Harry shook it and Ginny's dad patted his shoulder.
"Mr. Weasley, Mrs. Weasley, I need to tell you something," Harry said.
Mrs. Weasley nodded, she was crying. It had to be contagious.
"Well, we, I, er," Harry cleared his throat, "I proposed to Ginny."
She clutched his arm, watching her parents faces. They both grew into smiles.
"Harry, we couldn't ask for a son-in-law better than you," said Mr. Weasley, "we'd be proud to have you as a son."
"Oh, Ginny..." Ginny's mum threw her arms around both of them, "my baby is grown up. And Harry," she sobbed into Harry's shoulder, "we're happy for you."
Ron had approached them, he had before been with Hermione talking to Charlie, Fred, Bill and George. Now all the brothers approached them.
"I proposed," Harry said to Ginny's brother's in one breath.
"We're going to be brothers!" Ron yelled. He grabbed and half-hugged Harry then kissed Ginny on the cheek.
Ginny blushed as the twins approached Harry, "You take care of her. She's our only little sister. If you think Voldemort was a challenge, you don't want to deal with us if you break her heart."
"Don't worry about it," he said.
Charlie and Bill offered thier congratulations.
Ginny kissed Harry on the cheek. He kissed her back. He smiled. She had missed his smile. It had been so elusive since Voldemort's return and now it was her who got to see it. It would always be her from then on that got to see Harry's smile.
Voldemort's body was burned the next day. All artifacts and his possessions were held in the Department of Mysteries. His Death Eaters didn't regain thier power, so dependant of Voldemort had they recently become that when he died, they were left barely squibs and were trialed before being sent to Azkaban.
Severus Snape was found dead less than a week later. The cause of death was found to be poison, but no one had yet been able to prove whether he had ingested it purposefully or not. Regulus Black was also found dead, but since he had already died, and for various other reasons, he was not mourned.
Harry was awarded the Order of Merlin First Class. He and Ginny decided to marry in the summer.
Murial surveyed the damage. Millions of galleons of it. Thousands of hours of charm work destroyed too. He could have cried. The light-yet-rich desserts he had choosen for the Ministry Ball now smeared the floor and the whole room smelled of the the antique champagne served.
This could have made or broke his career! The most important contract in history!
Who's fault was this? Murial wondered angrily, crushing a ruined finger sandwich in his fist. Harry Potter! That's who! Damn kids! Never understand a day's work! And not only that, he was being rewarded for his destruction of a perfectly nice party. Didn't Potter understand it would have been much more impressive and much more appriciated if he could have taken care of Voldemort without disturbing the party? Now that would have been a real feat!
He saw a broken piece of wand laying in some of the rubble. It must be a piece of Voldemort's wand. Murial picked it up. He could feel it's power.
That was it.
He would get revenge on potter.
With the splinter of a wand in his hand, Murial got on the platform.
"I will revenge my party, Potter," Murial began to cackle and waved the piece of wood around.
A lone janitor sweeping up glass looked up at the confused event coordinator, "Murial... go home..." the janitor said and continued to sweep.
Murial stopped cackling. He looked around suspiciously then slyly pocketed the splinter.
He would extract it's power! The wand of Voldemort must have power!
Unfortunately, the Unspeakables had cleaned up anything of interest already and Murial was fugitively protecting a piece of chair that had broken off when it had been sat on by one of the more portly Forgien Policy Ministers.
There was very little power in that piece of chair. Murial was to have a lot of difficultly basing his revenge on Harry Potter, now unanimously granted the unofficial bragging rights to Most Powerful Wizard, on the power found in a piece of chair.
Murial did not live happily ever after.
AN: Io ho finito! J'ai fini! Me be finished! We had some fun times though... remember PartChair!Harry, fermented soy beans, an odd thing with Codfish, me not updating for a few months. But now it's come to the end. Thanks to all the reviewers. I'll pm or email reply to anyone who wants to ask questions and so on and so forth (still trying to figure out the new system, this is what happens when you disappear for a few months.) BYE! smily face
ps. I may still do an epilogue, I haven't decided yet. There are a few loose ends that I might feel better about if I tie up.
022606 -EDIT My rather pointless invention of the "Avera Kedravra" curse, which does exactly the same thing, looks the same, and has the exact history of the "Avada Kedavra" curse was replaced with the original. Thanks, yasgur53.