Standard disclaimer – I don't own the Harry Potter universe. This is done for purely my entertainment and not for profit.

Chapter 1 Three Stand Alone

"Susan are you almost finished with the dishes? Your aunt and I would like to see you in the living room."

"Almost done mum. Just a few more." Susan answered cheerfully placing a plate in the drying rack.

She started to work on a silver pot cover. While doing so, she regarded herself in the reflection. Susan Bones was pretty. Not really "cute" and certainly not "gorgeous or stunning". Her eyes had a very nice tint of blue and were framed by an oval face with a clear complexion. One of the two things she always received compliments on were her hair a silky mass of auburn usually in a braid that ran halfway down her back. The other feature was her smile. She almost always had a slight smile on her face. Her best friend Hannah Abbott would commonly mention how Susan had a private joke that she did not want to share.

An outside observer standing in the kitchen of the Bones family manor would see a young woman who had was just a few months shy of her seventeenth birthday. Had her birthday been just one week earlier she would be attending her seventh year at Hogwarts instead of her sixth year at the renowned school of magic. Susan was "beginning to bloom" as her mother put it, developing some womanly curves on her five foot six inch frame. One of the more recent developments, especially since it was the summer break and Susan was no longer required to wear the bulky and notoriously unflattering school robes, was her developing bustline. The few boyfriends in her past would often joke how they could get lost in her eyes, but recent encounters with males in her age group found that more often then not the young men's eyes would start at her face and but would quickly drift downward to her cleavage. Susan had confided in her mother how self-conscious this made her feel. Her mother's response was to describe the males in her age group as a "pack of hormone driven, depraved, mangy mongrels with delusions of grandeur".

She completed the last of the dishes. This was Susan's only assigned chore, the manor did after all have a house elf, which would have gladly done this as well as all the other chores, but Susan's mother and aunt insisted that she do this to enforce a sense of responsibility. Susan certainly did not shy away from hard work; she was after all a hufflepuff. One of the defining characteristics of that house was the willingness to roll up the sleeve and put in a solid effort. It is fortunate that most of the students in that house took great pride in their work ethic, because of the four houses at Hogwarts; Hufflepuff was probably the least respected by the others. The other three houses suffered from their own degrees of arrogance. The Slytherins were noted for their cunning and ambition and saw Hufflepuff loyalty and steadfastness as tools to be used and discarded as necessary. If you need help on an assignment and can't charm a Ravenclaw, then simply say a few kind words to a Hufflepuff drone. If you can't find a date for a Hogsmeade weekend there are always a Hufflepuff or two that could be convinced with a few choice words. The other two houses Gryffindor and Ravenclaw were less contemptible in their treatment of Hufflepuff, but still maintained certain sense of superiority. Both houses appreciated the virtues of loyalty and hard work, but each of the other houses always seemed to have an air of "if you were just a little braver you could have been in Gryffindor or perhaps a bit brighter and you could have been a Ravenclaw". It was an unspoken truth that the other 3 houses believed you were sorted into their houses or "put" into Hufflepuff as if were something of a consolation prize.

"Sorry," Susan said walking in from the kitchen. "It took a little longer than I expected. What did you want to talk to me about?"

Her mother smiled at her. "Well, Amelia has some news she would like to share with us."

"What is it Auntie?"

"It appears that Minister Fudge has lost the no confidence vote. It was not even a close contest. We will be reconvening tomorrow to select a replacement. I have it on good authority that I am the leading candidate to replace him."

"That's fantastic Auntie!" Susan jumped up to give an excited hug. "You will be a wonderful Minister! If anyone can organize that mess Fudge has created it will be you!"

"Thank you Susan. I appreciate the vote of confidence." Amelia Bones replied. "The last Bones to be Minister of Magic was over eighty years ago. You are quite right about the mess the Ministry is in at the moment."

"Auntie, how much of what the Daily Prophet says is true about You-Know-Who being at the Ministry? There were all kinds of rumors at school the last week before the end of the year. A few of Harry Potter's friends were stuck in the infirmary with mysterious injuries and Harry just looked so lost and angry. When Hannah and Ernie tried to approach him about it, he snapped at them like an underfed welsh green. I would have sworn he was just going to start hexing away, but at the last second it was like the rage in him vanished and it was like he shrunk in front of my eyes. Next thing I know he is running out of the Great Hall while the Slyterin's were laying into him about a dead dog or something like that."

Amelia carefully considered her reply to her niece. There was of course the professional answer, suitable for the media trolls that call themselves journalists. It was a simple relaying of some of the facts. A small group of underage wizards along with several ministry employees and Dumbledore encountered a group of Death Eaters and He-Who-Must-Not be named himself in the Ministry. A quick public search by some of the more crafty media trolls had determined that the students arrived there on a "Rescue Mission". Fortunately, Amelia had been able to keep the names (other than Harry's of course) of the other students from publication. It required some heavy-handed use of her powers to accomplish that, but in the end the Daily Prophet relented. Amelia decided that her niece deserved as much of the truth as she could afford to tell.

"Well, you are correct in assuming that your friend Harry and five of his friends were in the Ministry. Where they were and what they were doing there is still classified. I can say that a group of death eaters were there to capture Harry. He and his friends from your little Dueling Club fought well, giving as good, pardon me better than they got until a group consisting of ministry officials and the headmaster arrived. At that same time Voldemort also arrived and the proverbial kneazle was out of the bag. Dumbledore dueled with Voldemort and drove him off. I was able to see a bit of the duel through a pensive image that Albus was kind enough to 'unofficially' provide to my department. Beyond that Susan, I can not really answer your questions."

"That's okay Auntie. I appreciate the facts rather than the wild speculation. I mean some people are weaving these crazy tales that Sirius Black was there as well and that Harry killed him in a duel for betraying his parents."

Susan's mother who had been listening quietly chose this moment to add her opinion. "You really can't believe all the rumors and innuendo that goes around these days, young lady. People are getting scared. The Ministry just had its first no confidence vote pass in over 200 years. The leaders being kicked out were more concerned with staying in power than believing that there might actually be a threat. The Wizarding Wireless talk show programs aren't helping to ease anyone's paranoia."

"Yes. Quite a turnaround from just a month or two ago, I do believe that your friend Harry was a 'glory seeking, mentally unstable menace' and Albus was a 'senile old coot who needs to be put out to pasture'. Suddenly, they are the lone voices of truth in a suddenly dark time. I saw how badly the Minister was trying to damage Harry Potter last summer. He was called before a full session of the Wizengot for protecting himself from Dementors! He even tried to change the time and place of the hearing at the last minute in the hopes that Albus would miss it! Shameful behavior, absolutely shameful I tell you."

The conversation turned to more pleasant topics as the evening turned into the night. The three were about ready to retire for the evening when there was a loud ringing noise that could be heard throughout the house.

"The wards! Someone is attacking the outer wards. Susan quickly light a fire in the fireplace! We may need to Floo out of here." Amelia shouted drawing her wand. She had a great deal of faith in the wards on her house. They were performed by some of the finest cursebreakers contracted out from Gringotts. Most of the ministry officials had been investing heavily in wards to protect their families and their homes. The ringing noise, which thankfully only lasted 10 seconds was the intruder detection ward placed at the perimeter of the property. This ward and the muggle-repelling wards constituted the first line of defense for the house. Once the intrusion ward was activated, it triggers a powerful confundo charm to disorient the would-be assailants and a moderately powerful stinger to let them know that they are not welcome here.

"Incendio!" Susan shouted pointing her wand at the fireplace. A fire sprang to life in the hearth. Susan grabbed a handful of Floo powder and tossed it into the fire while shouting for Auror Headquarters. Instead of turning green and connecting to the Floo network as she had expected, the fire stayed its regular color.

"Some-something's wrong with the Floo! It's not working!" Susan stammered.

"Whoever is out there must be running a Floo-Jammer, that's a very powerful jinx. I can't apparate either. I will try a portkey."

Much to Amelia's horror, absolutely nothing happened when she tapped her wand on a throw pillow and shouted "Portus!" She immediately pointed her wand at the painting on the wall and said "Lethal!" This turned on inner layer of wards, which contained fatal combinations of wards designed to kill whomever was outside. She could hear crackle of the wards activating. Her sister-in-law ran to the window.

"Amelia! It looks like they are using Inferni! The wards are destroying some of them, but there are too many! Reducto! Reducto!"

"Susan! Quit trying the fireplace and help your mother. Don't use Incendio, it will just set our house on fire. Use cutters and blasters! I won't sugarcoat this, someone is out there running anti-Floo, anit-portkey and anti-apparation curses. That takes a tremendous amount of energy. Voldemort is probably here! Let's not make it easy for the bastard!"

Susan ran over to the window just in time to catch her mother, who had just been hit by a jet of red light. Susan cast a quick enverate spell to wake her mother back up. She stepped past her waking mother and looked out the shattered window. She could still see a small fireworks show on the front lawn as the wards attacked the undead staggering forward. Leveling her wand, she cast a succession of reductor curses at the nearest inferni. A grim smile crossed her face as she watched the magically animated abomination fall and not rise again. Susan estimated that there were at least a dozen inferni still shuffling towards the house. A loud gong signaled that the wards had expended their energy. From here they were on their own. Susan raised a quick shield to protect her from a stunner fired by one of the figures circling behind the inferni. The stunner bounced away harmlessly.

By this time her mother had joined her at the window using reductor curses on the remaining inferni. They settled into a pattern where Susan shielded her mother from incoming hexes and her mother blasted away at the inferni. They were only able to stay at the window for another minute before the first inferni reached the windows and doors.

"Dana! Susan! Fall back behind the defenses I have transfigured." Amelia shouted to her sister-in-law and niece.

Susan and her mother retreated back into the room. She could only admire her Aunt's skill at transfiguration. The three porcelain statues of dogs had been transformed into living snarling mastiffs, which leapt on the inferni trying to get through the broken window. Where the couch and recliners once stood, there were now stone walls. Susan vainly tried the fireplace again to see if the Floo network was available. She had just crouched behind one of the stone walls when the front door blew inward. She watched as her aunt banished the coffee table right into the path of the door fragments. It flew through them and smashed into the surprised death eater standing in the doorframe. She followed it with a lavender colored curse, which Susan identified as a rather nasty bone breaking curse.

"Them or us ladies! Don't hold back! Don't waste your time with stunners! Make them hurt and bleed!"

Susan blanched slightly at her aunt's viscous statement, but you don't rise to the head of magical law enforcement without being able having a brutal side. Susan took mental inventory of the best spells at her disposal silently thanking Harry Potter for helping her and the others in the DA perfect them. The reductor curse was by far her best offensive spell, although she was quite good with cutting curses. Sadly, she remembered hearing Harry and his "inner circle" deciding to teach bone breakers in the coming sessions of the DA, when Umbridge and her little Slytherin pets managed to break up the DA with that little traitor Edgecombe's help.

Susan looked at one of the transfigured dogs that had been hurled back into the room. Using a simple levitation spell. She raised the dog above the door jam and waited for the next death eater to come through the opening.

The next death eater was slightly more cunning than his predecessor. He shoved an inferni ahead of him to take the damaging curses. It would have been a very good plan had Susan not dropped a sixty-kilo mastiff on top of him. By the time one of his cohorts slew the animated dog with a cutting curse, the death eater was bleeding badly from wounds on his face, neck and arms. Her aunt caught her eye long enough to smile at her for a well played maneuver.

Curses flew across the living room for the next minute. The last of the inferni had fallen and was no longer able to rise. Unable to stand, it dragged itself along the floor towards Dana Bones. Dana finished it with a pair of well placed cutting curses that severed the creature's head.

Amelia did a quick mental tally. They had eliminated two dozen inferni and at least one if not two death eaters. She felt slightly lightheaded from the transfigurations and the volleys of curses. Too many years of leading department meetings and processing paperwork, not enough time spent channeling her magic. Dana seemed to be fairing even worse. Her sister-in-law had never been a very powerful witch to begin with and her exhaustion was only barely masked by her determination to protect her daughter. Susan seemed to be holding up quite well. Amelia recalled some of the bits of information that Susan shared from those meetings of "Dumbledore's Army". One that seemed to stand out was "dodge it if you can – shield it if you can't". This emphasized young wizard's and witch's better physical conditioning and allowed them to conserve their magical energy.

"Ah Amelia!" A loud and almost inhuman voice hissed. "So nice of you to welcome us into your home this evening."

With that most of the front wall simply vanished. There in haze was Voldemort and six more death eaters. He looked even more frightening then when Amelia had seen him in Dumbledore's memory. His minions, who had previously been held at the door, now stood tall in his presence unwilling to show fear or hesitation in the face of their master.

"Kill the witches! Capture the girl!" Voldemort commanded.

Amelia swallowed hearing they wanted Susan alive, but that seemed to help her find a second wind as she began trading curses with Voldemort himself. Her first volley consisted of a bone breaker quickly followed by a cutter. For all the pomp and terror he inspired, Amelia knew that Voldemort was still a wizard – an unbelievably powerful one, but still a wizard. She wanted to see how maintaining the escape prevention wards, defeating the house's wards and vanishing a large hole in the entranceway had taxed his energy. The dark lord shielded the bone breaker and most of the cutter, but Amelia gained some satisfaction hearing him hiss in pain as a gash opened on his left shoulder.

"Bitch! You will suffer!" Voldemort screamed as he responded with a powerful blasting curse, which shattered her transfigured wall spraying her with debris. She gasped in pain as chunks of rock embedded in her arm she shielded her face with. Amelia instinctively rolled to her right and sent a poorly aimed cutter back in his direction. She was distracted momentarily by a jet of green light crossing the room to strike Dana Bones in the chest. She heard Susan's blood curdling scream as Dana fell lifeless to the ground.

Summoning all her remaining strength she cast the most powerful spell she had at her disposal. Hoping that he would not have the energy to properly shield himself, she unleashed a powerful bludgeoning curse nicknamed "The Devastator".

Voldemort saw the golden ray and heard Amelia shout "Impactus Magnificus". Still feeling the sting from his earlier injury and knowing that Madam Bones was now playing her endgame, he met this challenge as he had met all those before. There was a reason he had risen to power following Gridenwald's destruction. He possessed a savage determination to succeed. The year's following his graduation from Hogwart's and his transformation into the Dark Lord were marked with terrifyingly brutal battles that ranged across six of the seven continents. The "light" side had rejoiced at the fall of Gridenwald and was so caught in their euphoria that most failed to notice the struggle for supremacy fought in the 1950's and 1960's amongst dark wizards. Who indeed would care if a few more dark wizards disappeared battling amongst themselves? It was a testament to his cunning and ruthlessness that he prevailed where the other competitor's failed at the cost of their lives. This was the Voldemort the world should remember, victorious and towering over the corpses of his enemies. Certainly not the Dark Lord felled by a blood magic charm placed on an infant by a witch moments before her death. He would rewrite that legacy with an ocean of blood if needed.

"Bludgeness Negatus!" The Dark Lord chanted channeling his energy into a shield specifically designed to counter bludgeoning curses. The curse impacted on the shield and the battle now became a test of magical reserves, willpower and sheer survival instinct. The point where curse and shield collided crackled with energy as both combatants poured their everything into their spells. The crackling energy continued for ten full seconds before the golden ray from the witch's wand began to noticeably weaken and fade. Voldemort smiled a feral grin. Amelia Bones was a powerful witch, who fought with an impressive zeal, but she was not conditioned to facing her death on a regular basis. He was. Every battle was a chance for his plans for immortality to unravel. Every duel was a primal scream of rage at an indifferent universe that did not care who lives and who dies. He would make the universe care!

He smiled as Madam Bones dropped to her knees, magically exhausted. "Well fought, Amelia, but your best quite simply was not enough. To honor your fighting spirit, I grant you a quick and relatively painless death."

Amelia Bones struggled to her feet. She would not die on her knees before this monster! As the green energy began to gather at the tip of her enemy's wand, she glanced over at Susan. Her niece stood frozen like a statue in a full body bind. She smiled a brave smile for her niece and turned to face her executioner.

"You win this day, but your end will come." She stated as the killing curse struck her.

Many miles from the battle, in the smallest bedroom in a well kept house a young man woke with a start from a nightmare. He grabbed his glasses and a roughly foot long stick of holly from his nightstand. Not really knowing how he was able to perform this and uncaring of the consequences, he reached for an empty cola can and muttered a single word.


Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed this effort. I particularly am interested in your opinion's on the unspoken truth of how the other houses view Hufflepuff. I have not seen a similar characterization in my readings, but the world of fan fiction is both wide and diverse. I am proud of my description of the battle and the wards on the house. I rarely see an author do a good job describing the warding process. Most of the time it is wizard X (Bill, Dumbledore or whomever) spent the night setting powerful wards over the house.

Why Susan as a potential love interest? Why not? She gets a raw deal in my opinion. Most fan fiction stories where she gets to date Harry, Susan is the transition girl before Harry starts dating Ginny, Hermoine or Mary Sue whatever. Heck in some she just gets a passing mention. Something along the lines of "Oh I would have been asked you out back then, but you spent most of your 6th year dating Susan Bones." Thus, I decided to write a story where Susan actually gets a chance. I am going to try and make Susan into her own character and not just a pale imitation of Ginny or Hermoine. I also intend to make Voldemort a little more believable and confrontational. In most stories, he sits on his throne and orders / punishes his servants, "Kill Harry Potter!" – while Harry dreams about him doing so. I probably will not utilize the whole Horcrux concept, but I will use certain events from book 6 at least as a starting point.