Selene ran into the cemetery proper, quickly moving over to Snape.
"Harry! Is he all right?"
Snape answered, without any trace of emotion, "He has lost a lot of blood, but beyond that I cannot say. He should get to the healers right away."
She cast a featherlight charm on him and picked him up. She then cast a Sonorus on her own neck, and yelled, "Larry! Harry's alive, but I'm taking him to St. Mungo's. See you there! Finite" She started running.
"Be careful!" Snape yelled after her, "There's a large, gray, wounded animal around here that they used in the ritual!" The warning didn't slow Selene down. Sibyll and Bill Henderson came running into view from another direction. Snape pointed after the retreating mother, and told them, "Protect her!"
As Sibyll ran, she reflected that Severus didn't have his usual sneer. They didn't do much protecting, seeing no one to protect Selene from as she ran towards the edge of the wards. Once beyond them, she Apparated away. Bill told Sibyll to follow her while he stayed and offered his assistance to the local authorities.
Sibyll arrived at St. Mungo's and saw Selene checking Harry into the hospital. She made her way to her sister-in-law.
"Oh, Sibyll!" Selene said, as she noticed the other woman. "Please go back to the Hogwarts gates and bring Luna here. She'll be beside herself with worry!"
Sibyll reassured Selene, as Harry was put on a gurney and rolled away quickly, followed by Selene. Sibyll made her way to the Apparition point and returned to Hogwarts.
- - -
Moments after Sibyll and Luna Disapparated from the gates of Hogwarts, several more figures showed up. One man had another thrown over his shoulder.
"Medic! This man's been bitten by a large green snake."
With the help of the brown haired woman who appeared with them, he got the wizard off his shoulder.
The healers conjured a bed for the patient, and went to work on the pale, clammy wizard.
"This would be easier if we knew what kind of snake it was that bit him," Pomfrey said.
Sirius pulled a glass jar from the pocket of his robe, conjured another bed, and dropped what looked like a worm from the jar onto the bed. A wave of his wand caused it to return to its original ten foot length.
As Pomfrey started casting detection spells on the snake, Sirius took the victim's hand and whispered, "Hang on Remus! We haven't taught Harry all our tricks yet."
- - -
Dumbledore found that Amelia had summoned more Aurors before he made it to Voldemort's body. They were bringing in Death Eaters' bodies, and searching for more. Amelia had estimated about twenty-five but hadn't actually counted. Only a few were still alive.
Someone had conjured a set of boxers for Voldemort. Someone else had covered the boxers with playing kitty cats.
"What happened?" he asked.
"We don't know," Amelia said. "Snape said that he saw some large animal with a horn nearby when he arrived. According to him, it had a cut on its leg, like its blood had been used in the resurrection ritual. Our guess is that it woke when it wasn't supposed to and gored Pettigrew and Voldemort. It's on the loose, but I don't have the manpower to hunt it right now."
"And the Lovegood boy?"
"He too had been bled for the ritual," Snape said, coming over to them. "He recovered enough to save me from McNair and has been taken to St. Mungo's. He might be able to give us more information on the ritual, but then again, he could have been bled to unconsciousness before it got started."
"Yes, we will have to talk to the boy. It's vital that we learn everything we can, to make sure that Voldemort can't return this way again."
Bones and Snape looked at him in surprise. "You think he's going to return from the dead, again?" she asked.
"Unfortunately, I do. He did it once. I see no reason why he won't do it again."
"Headmaster," Snape exposed his arm, "the Dark Mark is completely gone this time. Voldemort is gone for good!"
"No, we just think he's gone. He'll be back. He has to."
Bones' eyes widened at that remark and her monocle fell out of her eye. She coldly asked, "Please explain that remark, Headmaster?"
"I'm sorry, Director, but there are some things I cannot tell you."
"And there are some things I have to know. We'll continue this discussion later."
At that time, an Auror came out of the woods levitating a body. It was not dressed in black.
"Director. . . ." he started to say, but was interrupted by Bones.
"Richards? He's. . . ?"
"Yes, looks like the killing curse."
"He had a family. . . ." she said.
- - -
Madam Maxime cast a charm to reinforce the table in the middle of the Quidditch pitch. Casting the announcer's spell on her neck, she climbed on the top of the table and informed the crowd (and the reporters) that the fourth champion had been rescued and that Voldemort had been resurrected but was now truly dead.
Hermione, sitting in the stands with Draco, said, "He's not only really dead, he's really most sincerely dead."
Draco looked at her with an expression that said he was questioning her sanity.
"It's a Muggle song about the death of an evil witch," she explained.
"I don't think I'll ever understand Muggles," he muttered, and joined in the cheering for the demise of the Dark Lord.
Meanwhile the press was questioning the Beauxbatons' Headmistress about the rescue. It was the magic in the spell that caused her answers to be heard despite the cheering. Like a seasoned politician, she incorporated the questions into the answers so everyone could know what she was answering.
"We think a sacrificial animal used in the ritual to resurrect him ended up killing Voldemort."
"He cast a spell on his name, but with his true death, it's gone. Now anyone can say Voldemort and no one fears it."
"We can only guess why he kidnapped a champion. We think it was both because he needed a human sacrifice, and he wanted to spread fear and terror when the body was returned."
"There was plenty for us to do once we arrived at the ritual site. There were over two dozen Death Eaters who did not know that Voldemort was dead, but wanted us to share that fate. The Aurors are there, now, and have taken the survivors into custody."
"We will worry about scoring the contest after Dumbledore has returned. Karkaroff disappeared before the rescue."
"At least one other rescuer was hurt. He was taken to the gates of Hogwarts where healers were waiting. No, I don't know his or the Lovegood boy's status. No more questions. Go celebrate!"
She gave a little hop off the table and was caught by Hagrid as she landed.
The reporters intercepted the party entering Hogwarts from the gates. Sirius and Hestia stopped them from pestering the healers and trying to question the drugged up Remus.
- - -
"Good afternoon, Harry," Luna said, as he woke up.
"Uggg, I think I ate a bug. Or a whole bunch of bugs. That died last year."
"Must be that blood replenishing potion that they gave you; you know Mum always says that the taste is in inverse proportion to the usefulness of the potion. Here, have some water."
Harry drank. "Your mum always did like big words. How did I get here? Where is here?"
"St. Mungo's. The family rescued you."
"I think so. Mum's outside keeping the Aurors and reporters away." She brushed his forehead with her hand. "Harry, the last line is gone. He's gone. You're free."
Harry took her hand and kissed it with a tired smile. "Good. Let's get married."
"We're already married."
"Then everything important is done. Good night, wife." He closed his eyes.
She kissed him on the cheek and continued to hold his hand. "Good night, husband," she whispered. He was soon asleep, as the healers had told Luna he would be.
- - -
"Let me through! Let me through! I have to get in there!" With his authority and forceful personality, Dumbledore had reached the corridor outside Harry's room in St. Mungo's. However, even the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and most powerful wizard of the age were no match for an angry mother.
"Please let me in to talk to Harry," he told Selene.
"No. If we had followed your suggestion to let him escape on his own, he would be dead! You had no desire to go to him when he needed help, now leave him alone when he's healing."
"Is that true?" one of the reporters asked. "You counseled against the rescue?"
"If Voldemort had been alive, he would have killed every one of the rescue party. We could not have stood up to him," Dumbledore explained.
"So how did the boy kill Voldemort?"
"Evidence shows he didn't," the Auror standing next to Selene spoke up. He was a large, bald, black man, and he gave the impression that there was no force, mundane or magical, that would move him from his position. "We examined the spells cast through Lovegood's wand, and the only spell that was cast after he was taken from the Triwizard Tournament was a flame spear, and I've been informed he cast that to save his potions professor, well after the rescue group arrived."
- - -
The final count was twenty four dead black robed figures, three alive, Remus and Harry injured, and Robert Richards, one of Fudge's Aurors, killed. Director Bones finished with the crime scene and returned to her office. She already had a dozen reports from different Aurors about the events of the day on her desk. There was also a copy of the special edition of the Daily Prophet with big bold headlines proclaiming,
Voldemort Dead Again
Defeated by 14 year old this time
Fudge refuses to join rescue team
She smiled at the last headline. Maybe they would finally get rid of that bumbler. Her department, which included the enforcement of the Secrecy statute, was the reason the Ministry existed. But that hadn't stopped Fudge from reducing the budget nearly every year he had been in office.
Maybe she should. . . ? Never mind. Who would vote for her?
She looked through the papers. No one had interviewed the kidnap victim. She looked at the other pile of papers she had on her desk from before going to Hogwarts. Yes, she thought. This interview was one she would take care of herself.
She headed to St. Mungo's.
- - -
Severus Snape followed a group of mostly upper level Slytherins as they climbed the stairs from the dungeons. He had just had a discussion about how the Dark Lord was dead, and as Slytherins, no matter what their feelings about the Dark Lord, they had to present a joyful face. The forces of Light had won, and supporters of the Dark would have to hide what they really felt until things changed again. Things always changed. A Slytherin works with the world as it is, not as they want it to be.
He also told them that he would be in and out of the castle, but eventually would be in his office, should anyone want to talk to him. He encouraged them to go to the celebration and blend in.
From the entrance hall, his students headed towards the blast of sound that escaped the Great Hall. Snape continued up the stairs to the Ravenclaw tower. There were a few students there from Dark Families, and he encouraged them to join the celebration, too. He made his way to the third year dormitory and with the help of an elf collected what he wanted. He made his way to the headmaster's office, and floo-ed to St. Mungo's.
- - -
Director Bones picked up the Daily Prophet'ssecond special edition in the lobby of St. Mungo's. She recognized someone sitting in the lobby and stopped to talk with him.
"Headmaster. What are you doing here?"
"Ah, Director! I'm hoping to talk with Harry. It's vital that I find out what happened today."
"I think we have most of the story. He was used to provide blood for some sort of resurrection ritual. The mystery beast escaped and killed Pettigrew and Voldemort, and we showed up as the Death Eaters did. Very little remains to be answered. We've still had no luck hunting down the creature."
"I disagree, Director! A great deal needs to be answered. What ritual did they use? What creature did they use? How was it strong enough to kill Voldemort? He is one of the most powerful wizards in the world. A mere animal shouldn't have been able to kill him. And I don't believe he's any more gone now than he was the last time. He'll be back! We have to learn everything we can so that next time it will be the last time!"
"Calm down, Headmaster," Bones said, removing his hands from her shoulders. "There's no reason to be upset. According to Professor Snape the last time the Dark Mark did not fade completely. This time it did. He's convinced that Voldemort is gone for good. We can even say his name. Why can't you accept it?"
"For reasons I cannot disclose to even you, Director Bones, I know that Voldemort is coming back."
"Well, I have to go talk to Larry and Selene, and if I can, Harry. But we'll continue this discussion later. And you better consider sharing some of this information with me, or you might find yourself in legal trouble."
"There are things more important than laws, Director. The greater good has to be served, even by you."
"Right. Philosophical discussions another time. Go celebrate!"
- - -
Snape saw the Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement in a heated discussion with Dumbledore. It was time to re-evaluate his relationship with the Headmaster, he thought as he went to the information desk. Soon he was making his way through the small crowd of reporters who were still hanging around Harry's room. He approached the Auror by the door.
"I am Mr. Lovegood's potions instructor. I would like to speak with his parents if I could. I also brought some clothes and other things for him," he said, lifting the bag.
"Thanks. Wait here, and I'll get one of them." Shacklebolt poked his head in the room, and was out in a moment. Larry appeared, and took the bag from Snape.
"Thanks, Professor!" he said.
"If I may come in for a moment, Mr. Lovegood, I would like to discuss something with you and your wife, and my student if he is awake."
"Very well, come in, but Harry's asleep."
"Thank you." They entered the hospital room.
Once the door was closed, he saw that Harry was sleeping with his . . . girlfriend? Cousin? Wife? . . . next to him. Her mother came over toward him. He noticed she had the same silvery eyes that her daughter had.
"He brought some clothes for Harry," Larry told his wife.
"That you, Professor. And thank you for coming on the rescue."
"You are welcome, madam. I also put in his hair and eye coloring compounds in that bag. I think you should fix him up before he leaves here."
Larry looked shocked, but Selene seemed to take it in stride.
"Thank you, again. Have you told anyone?" she asked.
"No. I felt it was not my secret to tell."
"When did you find out?"
"When I found him in the cemetery and his disguise was gone. Until then, I had no idea. It was an excellent disguise."
Snape glanced over at the sleeping child. "Please give him my thanks. At the last moment, he saved me from being killed. I am in his debt."
"I will," she said, as she removed the Eye Dye from the bag. "And we are in yours, as I didn't even notice his eyes."
"The Dark Lord must have done that before the ceremony."
"I guess. Harry hasn't woken up long enough to get his story. The healers say that that's normal after losing so much blood."
Snape just nodded. "May I ask how the Boy-Who-Lived came to be bonded with your daughter. This is for my own information, and it will not be revealed to obsessed headmasters."
Selene answered, "A seven year old little girl invited him home, and shortly thereafter bonded with her new friend. After that we had to make sure he was properly cared for. And we never used his title. He was just a little boy who needed help."
"You did well raising him. He could easily have been an arrogant bully like his father. I congratulate you, madam."
"Thank you, Professor."
They made a little more small talk, and he left. Amelia Bones was outside the room, talking with the bald Auror.
"Is he awake?" she asked.
She opened the paper and saw that it was mostly the same. The comment about Lovegood killing Voldemort was gone. But there was a new headline.
Dumbledore advised parents to abandon Harry
The next few days were busy ones for Amelia Bones. The Obliviators were kept very busy cleaning up after celebrations got too magically demonstrative. Harry, after explaining what happened to his guardians, gave a statement to Amelia that said that he was tied to the tombstone and passed out after Pettigrew bled him. He didn't see the gray creature that Snape had, but later, after waking up, he was behind the tombstone, and no longer tied up. He crawled to Pettigrew's body, retrieved his wand, and saved Snape. He had learned the fire spear spell on his own, and his head of house knew that he knew it.
Thus, the mystery of what really happened to Voldemort was speculated, theorized, and editorialized continuously for over a week.
- - -
Harry felt really bad when he heard about Auror Richards' death. It took a lot of tender loving care, but Selene convinced him that he had nothing to feel guilty about. He could feel sad for his death, he could rail at the injustice of it, he could hate Voldemort or his Death Eaters for causing it, but he had no reason to feel guilty. Given other outlets for his feelings, he did overcome his guilt. He wanted to, and was given permission to go to the funeral. Larry, Selene, Sibyll, and her American Auror boyfriend joined him.
Amelia took time off from her busy schedule to attend, too, but Fudge did not. He had been told that the family did not want him there, and he wisely took their suggestion. Unfriendly bereaved family always made for bad press. Unfortunately, not showing up did, too.
The reporters did try to interview Harry. Larry had anticipated this, and had helped Harry prepare a statement in case he was waylaid by reporters there.
"I am not going to answer any questions now. This is a funeral for a brave man who helped rescue me. You should be talking to the friends and family of a real hero, not a victim. Thank you."
- - -
Despite the euphoria over the defeat of the Dark Lord, some people were not having good days.
Karkaroff re-appeared after the announcement of Voldemort's death, but the damage to his career was done. He was removed from his position as headmaster of Durmstrang only two days later.
Fudge's career almost survived. He was almost rescued when some reporters witnessed the former Divination Professor from Hogwarts running through St. Mungo's while being chased by Dumbledore, who was yelling that he only wanted to talk to her.
That got the rumors mills working overtime, and took Fudge off the front page, but it couldn't remove all the criticism of Fudge from the papers, and the funeral was the last straw. Rufus Scrimgeour, head of the Aurors, was appointed interim minister until elections could be organized. He allowed Fudge's last act, an investigation into Dumbledore's actions during the Triwizard Tournament and afterwards, to continue. Everyone agreed that Dumbledore tried to discourage the rescue. His insistence that it was for their own safety didn't pacify the wizarding public. And when the story of him chasing Sibyll Lovegood (formerly Trelawney) through St. Mungo's came out, Dumbledore was forced to resign from his positions of authority by the Hogwarts Board of Governors.
Dumbledore also hadn't been forthcoming when he had his private meeting with Madam Bones. He still insisted that Voldemort would come back, but wouldn't give any reasons. She couldn't force him to talk, but told him not to leave the country, as he seemed to have information important to the security of wizarding Britain.
- - -
The Triwizard cup was awarded three days after the contest. It took that long to get the judges back together and focused on the event. While Harry's group was awarded points for innovation in crossing the moat, Cedric's group had to both overcome the Beauxbatons team and the squid, as well as a few other obstacles before reaching the cup. In terms of leadership and difficulty, his activities were deemed to be worth more, and as they both reached the cup at the same time, he was awarded more points. Even though he was no longer headmaster, Karkaroff still remained a judge, and successfully argued that anything that happened after they touched the cup couldn't be counted in the score. So in the end, Cedric beat Harry by a point. Harry, at home recovering, sent a note of congratulations to the other three champions, but especially Cedric. He also sent "Thank you"s to Neville, Elizabeth, and the rest of the Ravenclaws who helped him train. He sent a letter every day to Luna.
- - -
Harry spent a week at home, during which time Dumbledore was removed from the school. Being home from school wasn't as much fun as it could have been. He had to spend most of it in bed and Luna wasn't released from classes, so she wasn't there. When he did return he got a huge party in the Ravenclaw common room in honor of coming in second in the Triwizard Tournament.
The Beauxbaton and Durmstrang students returned to their own schools, and there were comments about having another tournament (in the words of Madam Maxime) "In another hundred years or so. We'll see."
One thing Harry missed was the temporary withdrawal of fifteen students from Hogwarts so they could attend funerals for their parents. Draco was not among the students -- his father hadn't been captured or killed. Harry and Hermione went out of their way to include any children of Death Eaters in activities they were involved in, mostly the after dinner study hall. He got the older Ravenclaws to do the same with the children in their years.
Things almost quieted down -- any remaining Death Eaters who weren't at the cemetery got off free: no one turned them in, and since they no longer had the Dark Mark, they couldn't be found in a crowd. Malfoy, senior, was happy that Voldemort was gone and he had escaped without detection. He could continue as a puppetmaster behind the throne. He felt lucky.
- - -
Crime was down, accidental violations of the Secrecy Statute were down, school was finishing soon, Scrimgeour looked like a shoe in for the Ministers job . . . when the press broke another story.
A reporter doing follow up work on some of the people involved in the rescue for future stories -- specifically, they were thinking of the anniversary stories that would run the next year -- found out that Sibyll Lovegood was a registered Oracle with two confirmed predictions in the New World. That led to the discovery of her one recorded prophesy in the British Department of Mysteries. The acting minister insisted that Dumbledore take it off the shelf so that government could hear it. Dumbledore tried to quietly refuse, but received an anonymous note saying that if he didn't cooperate a certain vase and explanation would be given to the Aurors. So far that whole episode had been kept from the public eye, and Dumbledore knew he wouldn't be able to avoid Azkaban if it ever came to light.
Scrimgeour tried to make political hay from the event, allowing a reporter to get into the Hall of Prophecies before the official government group went in. He was hidden one aisle over from the prophecy. Dumbledore removed the ball, but before he touched it with his wand he tried to talk Scrimgeour out of his course of action.
"You realize that Voldemort would love to know what's in this ball." He looked around at the officials and continued, "You are jeopardizing the future of the wizarding world by letting this information get out. You are condemning us all by letting so many people hear this."
"Stop being melodramatic, Dumbledore, just get on with it."
"I could let just you hear it, Rufus. There's no need for this to get out. We can still protect our world, and you'll see. . . ."
"Stop stalling, and touch it."
Dumbledore did, and the prophecy was heard by the group and the reporter.
Scrimgeour looked at him with a certain amount of glee. "That's it? That's the prophecy? Dumbledore, I do believe you are losing it. That prophecy was fulfilled thirteen years ago."
Dumbledore interrupted, "Voldemort will be back, and Harry Potter will defeat him."
"Keep saying that, Dumbledore. No matter how much you believe, it won't make it true."
The group broke up and the reporter was called into Scrimgeour's office. The acting minister officially released the text of the prophecy, denigrating Dumbledore at the same time.
The lead story the next day was not what the Acting Minister of Magic expected:
Scrimgeour Would put Wizarding World in Danger For the Sake of His Career
Yesterday, Acting Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour acknowledged by his actions that he would put his political career ahead of the public's safety. In the Hall of Prophecies, he insisted that Albus Dumbledore reveal the contents of a prophecy to a group of government officials. Dumbledore, the one who heard and recorded the prophecy, insisted that the contents would put the wizarding world in danger if it became widespread knowledge. He offered to let Scrimgeour hear it privately, but the Acting Minister rejected Dumbledore's suggestions.
While it turned out that Dumbledore was wrong (see companion piece on the prophecy's contents), Scrimgeour had no way of knowing that before he listened. Is this the kind of man you want as Minister of Magic?
Scrimgeour's approval rating, fairly high before then, plummeted. A quick look over the other candidates, who would all turn on and tear down the front runner, led to the drafting of a new candidate.
By the end of the school year, Amelia Bones was the new Minister of Magic.
- - -
At noon, several hours after the Hogwarts Express had taken the children away, the staff was having their traditional final feast.
Headmistress Minerva McGonagall thanked the staff for their hard work as teachers and the extra work involved in the Triwizard Tournament. She handed out little gifts to all the instructors.
"And finally, to those who are staying, I thank you for your vote of confidence. To the rest of you, I wish you well with your future endeavors. Please keep us posted as to your status, we would love to hear from you. Sir Giles, good luck in Ethiopia. I look forward to your next book. Rubeus, good luck in France. May all your dreams come true. Hogwarts just won't be the same without you. Severus, good luck with your potions research. I expect great things from you.
"But it is with a little trepidation that I make the next announcement, because it flies in the face of twenty years of tradition. I most happily announce that Alastor will be returning next year as our Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor -- the first person to hold the position for two consecutive years in more than two decades. I hope you set a record for length of time as the instructor, Mad Eye.
"Once again, to all who are leaving, and all who are staying, I thank you for a successful year."
After lunch the new Headmistress and the new Deputy Headmaster were in her office discussing the positions that they had to fill. Taking a break from official business, they relaxed with some tea.
"Poor Albus," Filius Flitwick commented. "That prophecy, and the loss of Harry Potter must have driven him around the bend."
"Unfortunately, I agree. I shudder to think what he might have done had he actually found Harry."
"True. Although I do wonder about the prophecy. . . " Filius mused.
"I have a feeling we don't really know everything that happened at Voldemort's resurrection."
Minerva gave one of her rare smiles. "It sounds like you've discovered the nom de guerre of our missing student?"
"Yes. Turns out that his disguise is rather susceptible to magical transformation. When he ate one of the Weasley twins' Canary Creams he returned to himself with green eyes and black hair. And you? How did you find out?"
"After considering all the students in his normal year, I looked at the other years. There were very few students who didn't have normal parents. Then, when word of his marriage with his cousin was revealed, I tried to find out how closely they were related and was unable to find out who his parents were. Not conclusive, but strongly suspicious."
Filius nodded. "But I see that you, like I, felt no need to tell anyone else."
"With the strange things that happen around him already? He didn't need the burden of being the "Boy-Who-Lived" on top of it."
"I totally agree," Filius said, as he lifted his tea cup. "To Harry!"
"To Harry!" Minerva responded.
- - -
Harry, Luna, Hermione, and Draco were in a compartment together. They were on the outskirts of London and had spoken to a lot of their friends during the train ride home. But the day was getting on, and everyone was tiring out, so they relaxed, holding hands and talking.
"We'll see you at least for Sirius' wedding," Harry said to Draco.
"I've never been to a wedding," Hermione said.
Draco gave her hand a squeeze and promised, "I'll make sure you get an invitation. It will probably be at his place."
Luna nodded, "I would expect so, and as he's still not good with crowds, I would guess it will be a small wedding."
Harry asked Draco, "Are you going to be living there still?"
"Probably. My Mum said she would be trying to mend some fences with Father, now that the Dark Lord is dead. I'll see if I can get him to agree to let me have a party at Malfoy Mansion. We have our own pitch, you know. I intend to have enough people who play Quidditch there so we can have a game."
"That will be good after a year of no Quidditch," Harry said. Hermione only rolled her eyes.
"Hey," he told her, "it's our cultural heritage. You should try and learn to enjoy it. Or at least learn not to roll your eyes when someone talks about it."
They laughed at that. The train soon reached the station, they said their good-byes, and headed home. But before they left the compartment, Hermione stopped Harry and whispered to him, "I'm not sure what you did, but thank you for defeating Voldemort."
Harry just nodded and smiled.
- - -
Sirius' wedding was relatively small, but it was still about twice as large as his annual Boxing Day party since it had to include Hestia's friends and family. After the ceremony and the formal dinner, Sirius and Remus took Harry away from the proceedings.
"How goes the Animagus meditation, Harry? Still keeping up with that, despite tournaments and kidnappings?"
"Oh, yes. Uncle Ollie says that meditation is useful for concentrating when carving, and for Occlumency, which is helpful to your memory."
"Do you want to try to transform again? I think you were close last Easter break."
"Sure," Harry said with a smile. He sat and relaxed his mind, falling into the meditative state. Since he worked about 20 hours a week at Ollivander's store, Uncle Ollie did recommend meditation frequently. He also recommended studying his runes, and practice carving, but Harry felt he didn't need to bring that up in the current situation. He reached the relaxed state he wanted to be in, and let his inner animal out. He transformed completely into his rhinoceros form.
"Wow! That's great!" Sirius exclaimed.
Remus walked around the huge animal, patting his flank. "That is quite amazing. Can you turn back? Or do you need some help."
The rhino snorted, and a minute later Harry was back. He got up from the floor, brushing the dust from his formal clothes.
"Congratulations, Harry," Remus said. "Are you going to register?"
"I'm going to wait until after N.E.W.T.s. I'm going to present my Animagus form for extra credit on the Transfiguration N.E.W.T. and claim that I learned it during my last two years of school."
Remus looked at Harry, thinking about what he just said. "Snivilus' beast! That was you! You killed Voldemort!"
"What?" Sirius asked.
"Harry turned into his rhino and killed Pettigrew and Voldemort in the cemetery. Snape healed him while he was still in animal form, and you changed back in time to save him!"
Harry nodded, smiling.
Sirius got a puzzled look on his face, "Oh, yes, Harry, about that. . . . Ow!" Remus interrupted Sirius by elbowing him.
"You're secret is safe with us, Harry," Remus said, glaring at Sirius.
"Oh, right. Congratulations again, Harry. And we better get back to the party."
"You're hair and eyes are the wrong color."
"Oh, no! Not again!"
"I think this is going to happen every time I transform!"
"We'll put a glamour on you for today."
"Thanks. Those Eye-Dye drops sting."
"You may want to slowly get rid of the disguise. We'll help you with that."
"Thanks. I think I better do that.
"By the way, you guys," Harry said after they magically changed his appearance so he looked like he usually did, "I don't think those boots quite go with the rest of your ensemble. I've never seen boots quite that color, either. What are they, Welsh Green Dragon hide?"
Remus smiled and answered, "No. Voldemort's big, venomous snake hide. We still have enough left over to make you a set after you stop growing."
"That would be great. But I am not wearing them for my wedding."
"Spoil sport," Sirius groused.
- - -
That summer the Lovegoods didn't go on any big vacation, just a number of small ones throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. They visited many muggle and wizarding tourist spots as they went on day, overnight, and weekend trips.
They were in the Surry Zoo one day, enjoying the sun, relaxing away from their jobs -- Harry worked half time at Ollivander's Wand shop, while Luna had a part time job at a nick-knack store in Diagon Alley. They made their way around through the zoo, until they came to the reptile house.
Luna said, "Why don't you go in and visit with the snakes. I need to use the little Witch's room." The rest of her family went into the exhibit, while Luna walked away. Once out of sight, she changed course and came to the Big Cat building. She went inside and stood outside the cage of the black jaguar with the name plate Warriorette.
"Hi, Trixie! It's me, Luna. I thought you'd like to know: Neville's parents are all better; Voldemort is really dead; and I'm going to marry James Potter's son once we're done with school."
The Jaguar gave a snarly growl.
"I hope you're happy, too. I'll be back someday, especially once I have children. It's been good talking to you. Bye bye!" She hurried out of the building, and went to find her future husband.
As she had gotten older, and realized all that marriage involved, she came to think of Harry as her "future husband" as they weren't going to be performing all the activities of their marriage until they held the ceremony after Hogwarts. She knew that their vow bound them, but there was more to marriage than magic.
And until that day, she would work at becoming the wife that he deserved, and that she should be, just as she knew he attempted to do the same thing for her, but only less successfully. He was, after all, only a boy.
- - -
That evening Harry and Luna sat on some chairs in the garden at the Meadow. The moon was out, but didn't illuminate much. They could see the start of the woods surrounding them, and hear the gurgle of the stream, but details, except for the stars, were hidden in the darkness.
"You're very quiet, Harry. Is something bothering you?"
"No. I'm just tired. When do you think Remus and Tonks will marry?"
"Probably next summer. Why?"
"He'll want to tell her my secret soon after they get engaged."
"It's not so important any more."
"No, but I think I like being Harry Lovegood. I think being Harry Potter would only get in the way of, well everything."
Luna nodded. "Even after we're married?"
Harry nodded, "Yes. I had thought about announcing it then, but really, why bother. I am who I am, and using that other name would just make people think I'm someone else."
"Do you remember when you first came, and we hadn't decided on your name yet?"
Harry laughed and nodded.
"Who would have thought it would take seven years to decide."
Harry added, "And who would have thought there would be a Dark Lord trying to mess us up."
"He didn't stand a chance against us."
Harry smiled at her. "Remember when we were wondering about the power he knew not?"
"Yes. You know what it is? Your animagus form? What then?"
"Cooperation. He just ordered people around, he didn't work with them. Makes you shudder to think what a Dark Lord who tried to get along with people could do."
"No, I don't want to think about it. Let's think of something nicer. Like how to put these chairs together so we can sit closer."
"Hmm, get up a moment," Harry also stood up. He concentrated, waved his wand and one of the lawn chairs was big enough for two. They both sat down on it.
Harry looked at Luna and said, "Have I told you today that I love you?"
Luna looked thoughtful, "Maybe, but that doesn't preclude you doing it again."
"I love you."
"And I love you."
They embraced, and kissed, and later looked at the stars. Harry held his bonded close and dreamed of the ceremony they would have in three years, and the lifetime afterwards.
- - - - -
Author Note: Thank you to all my betas! I couldn't do it without you.
Thank you, readers. You're reviews were encouraging and helpful.
To those who hoped that this story would be longer, I decided to end it here, as this was the end of the story. I had thought about making the meeting with Bellatrix in the zoo in an epilogue several years in the future, but I've got the beginning of an idea for another story with Luna and Harry Lovegood, and suddenly the future was different, and I still wanted Luna to meet with Trixie in the zoo, so it just became part of the summer. However, don't look for a sequel anytime soon. I have a number of other projects going, and don't need to start still another. I'll let it germinate in the back of my mind for a while.
On a different note, in the previous chapter Voldemort got the date for Wulpurgis wrong. He obviously misremembered and didn't bother to look it up. But Iwasn't going to point out his mistake to him. I'm not that crazy. However, I'm sure he's sorry, now.
This chapter, like many of them, was beta-ed by Swordchucks, Evan Mayerle, and Wombat. I can't thank you guys enough!