This is it, the final chapter of this story. I hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have. But don't think there's any rest for us, there are more years to go. I've already posted the first chapter of the next story. Read down to the bottom to get the name.
Thanks as always to my reviewers. KRP, NaginiFay, canuck84, and newcomer Anidori-Kiladra. You can be a reviewer, too. Just press the review button. Anyone reading this story long after I've finished posting is welcome to review, I always enjoy hearing what people think.
As always, my standard warnings: Text in italics is spoken Azkabaaner, and I don't own HP.
Chapter 24 – Unexpected Fates, Simple Pleasures
Esdras Demnin was nervous. His conversation with Azkaban did not go well. Admiral Grim was flying in, and scheduled to arrive at Hogwarts before dinner. The admiral had told him that Azkaban would be in contact with the Ministry and that his fate would be discussed in depth. Sufficed to say, Esdras was not looking forward to it. The Dementor sat at the Ravenclaw table, quickly wolfing down his breakfast. He had run into Katie before entering the Great Hall and told her that he would meet her after breakfast outside to tell her everything that she needed to know.
After a few servings of eggs, Esdras floated up from the table, made his excuses to his housemates, and floated towards the door. There he met Katie, who was looking equally curious and nervous. Despite that, she still managed a stunning smile for him. "You said you wanted to tell me something important?"
Esdras nodded and took her hand, leading her out the door for a walk around the castle. "What I'm about to tell you is a secret that very few people know. It will run contrary to everything that you've been told for most of your life and all of this year, so listen first, and then ask questions." Katie smiled and nodded, so Esdras decided to go for broke. "Sirius Black was wrongly accused. He is guilty of no crime."
Katie blinked in confusion, but kept walking. "Are you serious?"
He nodded. "Very much so, I know for a fact that the one person he was supposed to have murdered is still alive and therefore must be responsible for the collateral damage, as well."
She looked at him curiously. "And those times when he broke in and you got angry? And that whole week where you went all Azkaban Guard on us when he got into the dormitory?"
Esdras smirked slightly. "An act, necessary to convince everyone that I was intent on capturing him. You have no idea how hard it was for me to act that way towards everyone, you especially. I'm so very sorry."
Katie smiled. "You're already forgiven, darling." She sighed and shook her head slowly. "But why didn't you tell anyone." As Esdras told the story of the carefully hidden history, Katie's confusion turned to understanding. Finally, she looked at him with awe. "So in order to help him now, you had to surrender your career. That's a very brave thing, Esdras."
The Dementor looked confused. "You're not angry with me? I'm going to have to give up everything I have here, everything we have."
Katie smiled and hugged him tightly. "You protected the innocent and did what was right. You are a good Dementor and an honorable guard, and I am proud of you."
In the bright sunshine and light wind of the morning, Esdras was content to stay with his arms around Katie. Guard Command, admirals, prisoners, law, and justice be damned.
News came that Admiral Grim had arrived just before dinner. The guards at the main gate had reported to Aaron, and Aaron had faithfully reported to Esdras that the admiral was accompanied by the commander of the mortal auror guards and Cornelius Fudge. The presence of three high ranking figures did nothing to alleviate the Dementor's nerves.
Neither did the fact that, at dinner, there were three extra places set at the High Table, one for the minister, one for the auror commander, and one for the admiral. Esdras found that his ravenous appetite had left him. The other Ravenclaws were well aware of the situation that their friend was in and Cho spoke quietly to him from across the table. "It'll be alright, Esdras. We're all here for you."
The Dementor shook his head. "It won't matter; you'll be unable to stop this from coming. This is Azkaban business. I have no idea why they'd want to take care of it in front of the entire school. Unless they actively want to humiliate me for my failure, but that sort of thing goes against our very nature."
Katie, who was equally nervous, by this time had slipped from the Gryffindor table. She popped up beside Cho and squeezed in next to her. "Esdras, Aaron told me all about it. What is Admiral Grim doing here?"
Before he could answer, the attention of the school was drawn to the sound of metal on glass. Dumbledore was calling the school's attention by tapping his knife to his goblet. He rose slowly and scanned the crowd before speaking. "As many of you know, Sirius Black was recently captured and just as recently escaped. For the capture, we have to thank our own Professor Snape and Captain Demnin. As for the escape, we can only attribute it to the tenacity of Sirius Black." He smiled brightly, considering the circumstances. "Regarding this, Admiral Judas Grim of the Azkaban Guard Command has a presentation to make."
The admiral rose quietly and floated over the table to stand on the dais in front of the table. He called out in a voice that needed no translation. "Captain Esdras Demnin, report."
Esdras looked to his friends and smiled the smile of one resigned to his fate, calm and serene. He rose and quietly slipped out of his mortal form before floating down the aisle to stand below the dais in front of his commander. He snapped to attention and saluted. "Captain Demnin reports, sir."
The Dementor admiral drew a parchment scroll from the sleeve of his cloak and unrolled it. He spoke slowly, and behind him Dumbledore translated the Azkabaaner into English. "Due to the continued threat of the escaped inmate chi psi three nine zero, Sirius Black, the Azkaban Guard Command has deemed that a special force must be assembled with the mission of capturing him. It has been decided that observing the Hogsmeade area during the Hogwarts school year will facilitate his capture. With the cooperation and confirmation of the Ministry of Magic, the Azkaban Guard Command hereby commissions the Fourth Fleet, with the mission of guarding the Hogsmeade region and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Fourth Fleet will work in cooperation with the mortal auror forces to respond to any report of Sirius Black, time or place regardless." The admiral pulled out a second scroll and opened it up. "Mortal Katie Bell, come forward."
Still at the Ravenclaw table, Katie startled, not expecting to hear her name. She rose and walked quickly up the aisle to stand beside Esdras, who was still locked at attention. She spoke with Azkabaaner much improved after months of practice. "The admiral wishes to see me?"
Admiral Grim nodded. "So it is true, a second mortal fluent in our language." He looked over his shoulder. "You have company, Headmaster Dumbledore." He turned to Katie and held out the second scroll. "Rumor travels far, even all the way to Azkaban. I believe Esdras would like it if you were the one to read this."
Katie nodded and ascended the dais to take the scroll, casting her eyes across the delicate Azkabaaner script. She caught sight of one word and gasped. With a smile on her face, she began to read in a loud voice. "Captain Esdras Tarsus of the royal house of Demnin, you are hereby requested and required to take command of the Fourth Fleet of the Azkaban Guard, with all the commensurate duties and responsibilities thereof. To this end, you are hereby given the promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral, effective with the reading of this scroll. Signed this thirty sixth day of Recaldes, Treaty Year 1022."
Esdras was in shock, and didn't break from attention, not even as Admiral Grim came down from the dais to tap him gently on the shoulders with his wand, transforming the silver vultures on his shoulders to single silver crescent moons, denoting him as part of the Admiralty. He was still in shock as they saluted and the admiral floated away. He was still in shock when Dumbledore smiled down at him and spoke kindly. "I trust that you'll find time in your busy schedule to attend classes, Admiral? I believe the Ravenclaw Quidditch team would be disappointed if you resigned."
All Esdras could do was nod his reply to the wizard. But then Katie stepped down from the dais and smiled at him. "Congratulations, Admiral Demnin."
The newly promoted admiral shook his head quickly. "Did that just happen, Katie?"
She nodded and stepped closer. Esdras took mortal form and she jumped into his arms. "I am proud of you." She kissed him softly, but it quickly deepened. When they broke, she smiled. "So very proud."
It started slowly, centered around the Ravenclaw table. First one, then six, then many, many more. It moved across tables like a wave. Hogwarts applauded their own Dementor admiral.
The Hogwarts Express trundled along southward, again heading for King's Cross Station. Inside one car, a multi-house band of students gathered together. Katie Bell, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Esdras Demnin all sat together taking turns reading the note that Sirius Black had just sent via owl. Esdras had his cloak off and was absently adjusting the silver crescent moons for the hundredth time. Katie pulled the cloak away from him. "Keep touching them and they'll tarnish."
The Dementor laughed. "They have anti-tarnishing charms, you know. I think they'll be fine." He took his cloak back and turned to Harry. "Well, looks like I don't have to worry about keeping you out of Hogsmeade anymore."
Harry laughed and held up the second parchment sheet, a signed permission form from his godfather. "I guess not." He laughed. "I can't help but feel like we got away with something very big here."
Esdras nodded. "We did. We conned the Ministry, Azkaban, and pretty much the whole wizarding world and came out on top. Don't get cocky." He laughed suddenly. "I still can't believe that was your Patronus. You should have seen what that thing did to Veras Maul."
Katie, comfortably resting against his shoulder, smirked quietly and gave her boyfriend a confused look as she brought up something that had been bothering her since the start of the train ride. "Esdras, I'm not complaining, but why are you riding the train back, anyway? You just got promoted to a fleet command. Shouldn't you be with your troops?"
He shrugged happily and leaned back in the seat. "It's tradition. Hogwarts students ride the train in, and ride the train out. I'm not one to break with tradition. Besides, Captain Reaping is more than capable of seeing the fleet home to Azkaban."
This brought a smile to her face. "So you did it, you gave Aaron command of the Thirteenth Infantry?"
Esdras nodded. "I didn't even have a second choice. I couldn't imagine anyone else taking command, and it'll be good for him."
They were interrupted by the door to their compartment opening. Cho stuck her head in and smiled. "Good afternoon, Admiral."
The new admiral smiled happily. "Hello, Cho. And please stop calling me that. You're my friend and you aren't under my command."
She laughed gently. "We're nearing the station and I just wanted to say that if you can pull yourself away from Azkaban and are in the neighborhood, you're always welcome to come visit me." She looked to Katie. "Not that I'm trying to steal him away from you or anything."
Katie brushed her concerns aside and smiled at her Dementor. "Esdras is allowed to have friends."
Cho smiled happily. "Good. Send me a letter sometime, then." She waved. "I'll see you, Esdras." She looked to the other side of the compartment and smiled slightly. "Harry."
Esdras and Katie actively tried to hide their smirks of amusement at his flushed face.
It wasn't much longer before the Hogwarts Express pulled into King's Cross. Exiting the train, Esdras stretched and tugged his trunk along behind him. Katie followed him and placed her trunk down next to his, scanning the platform for her parents. "Well, it's been a good year, wouldn't you say?"
The Dementor shrugged. "More or less. I got a promotion, a girlfriend, and good grades. Not much more a man can ask for."
Katie laughed and waved to her parents, who had just walked through the wall to the platform. "I keep forgetting that you are a creature of simple pleasures."
Esdras smiled and put an arm around her, waving to the Bells as well. "Simple pleasures, I like that."
THE END of RISE OF THE GUARDIAN
But don't worry, Esdras Demnin will be back in…
TRIAL OF THE GUARDIAN
The second book in the "Guardian of Azkaban" series.