Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, not me.

A/N By the way, I'd like to make it clear that in this story, Horcruxes do not exist. If you wish to believe that the Diary was the one and only Horcrux that Riddle made, that's fine. My point is that in this story, there are no Horcruxes that need to be found and eliminated. However, Dumbledore's wand is the Elder Wand.

It's for the Best

Chapter 15 – The Two Dark Lords

It was a normal, peaceful evening at the Granger residence. Translation: Adam and Marissa were snogging on the couch like a pair of teenagers. The fact that it was Friday the 13th didn't seem to bother the couple at all, as they enjoyed each other's company. They broke apart and stood up, however, when there was a bright flash of fire in front of them followed by a familiar cry of, "Mum, Dad!" Their daughter had arrived with her boyfriend and a large red bird, which Marissa believed was a phoenix based off of one of Hermione's books that she'd borrowed.

The young couple looked filthy and scared, and Harry's glasses were broken. He also had a burn on his left cheek. Hermione flung herself into her mother's arms and cried, while the phoenix flew to touch Harry's face with its own and shed a tear directly on his burn, instantly healing it while the parents watched in awe.

Finally, Adam spoke. "What happened? Why aren't you at Hogwarts?"

Hermione said, "We can't go back," between sobs.

Harry took a deep breath. "It's a long story, but I think that we'll all have to leave here."

"Is Voldemort coming after you?" asked Adam.

"No, although he's still after me. It's Dumbledore."

"What?" asked both parents together.

"It's true," said Hermione, finally letting go of her mother. "He just tried to kill me."

-

After the Grangers had been apprised of what had been happening at Hogwarts for the past few weeks, and everything that Dumbledore had done against Harry, they agreed that the headmaster might check their house for the young couple, and so they were quickly packing everything they needed – which consisted mainly of clothes and photos that couldn't be replaced – into Harry's bottomless trunk. Hermione hurriedly stuffed all the books from her small library in there as well.

Thirty minutes after the couple arrived at Granger residence, they were leaving. After healing Harry's burn, the phoenix landed on his shoulder and stayed there since. They tried to ask him to take them to Grimmauld Place, but he didn't seem to want to. Hermione theorized that phoenixes only transported people by flame when there was an urgent need. He, after all, didn't flame Harry, Ron, Ginny and Lockhart out of the Chamber of Secrets. They'd had to ride along on a normal flight.

However, it occurred to Harry that he had Dobby and Winky working for him, so he summoned them. First, they transported Mr. and Mrs. Granger to Grimmauld Place (after Harry told them the address so they could see it), then they transported Harry and Hermione there, and finally, they returned to move all of the Grangers' possessions, including the two Mercedes, to Black Manor.

-

As soon as they arrived at Black Manor, Hermione took out her wand, pointed it at Harry's face, and said, "Occulus repairo." His glasses were immediately repaired. At the same time, shrunk items from the Granger home began popping into the house at an alarming rate. Fortunately they weren't appearing where the people were standing. Obviously the elves were hard at work.

Ignoring the incoming objects, Harry looked panicky at Hermione while Adam and Marissa looked impressed with their daughter. "What did you do that for? The Ministry'll put you on trial for underage magic."

"Honestly," said Hermione, who was looking at him like he's grown an antler. "We are under the Fidelius Charm. No one can detect anything that happens in here, including underage magic."

Harry looked flabbergasted. "I wish someone had told me that the first time I came here. It would've been a lot easier than manually cleaning everything."

"They didn't tell anyone that. I found out later while reading a book on the Fidelius Charm. Besides, you'd just been charged with underage magic, and I'm sure no one wanted to encourage you to do it again."

"I'd been atta…"

"I know what happened, Harry," she said kindly. She then took a deep breath. "The point is that you know now."

At that moment, both Dobby and Winky appeared, looking concerned. Each of them was holding what appeared to be a toy Mercedes.

Dobby said, "Dobby and Winky is finishing shrinking the cars when we is sensing the headmaster coming. We is leaving immediately."

"Did he see you?" asked Hermione.

"No, Dobby isn't thinking so."

"Did you get all their stuff?" asked Harry.

"Yes. We is getting everything out of there before Professor Dumbledore is coming."

Harry smiled. "You both did a good job."

Dobby and Winky immediately began crying at the compliment. Before Harry could respond, Fawkes chirped, gaining his attention.

Harry gently asked, "What is it, Fawkes? I haven't properly thanked you yet for saving our lives."

"Yes, thank you, Fawkes," said Hermione.

Fawkes spread his wings and flew off of Harry's shoulder and turned around to face him. The phoenix stared into Harry's eyes for about thirty seconds. Neither blinked, and it was as though nothing else existed in the world for them. To Harry, it felt like the bird was looking straight into his soul as a calming sensation began growing from deep inside him, as though a phoenix were singing – but Fawkes wasn't making a sound. Harry had a sudden impulse to hold out his right hand to the phoenix, which he did. Immediately, without breaking eye contact, Fawkes bit Harry's index finger, drawing blood. Although Harry winced a bit from the pain, he continued looking into Fawkes' eyes and did not withdraw his hand. Harry saw tears form in his new companion's eyes. Three of them dropped directly on his new wound, which healed immediately.

"Harry! Are you alright!" demanded Hermione urgently. "A magical…cocoon of silver light appeared around you and Fawkes and we could barely see you. I saw Fawkes bite you. I was afraid that he'd changed his mind and was taking you to Dumbledore or killing you himself. What happened?"

Harry looked around at the looks of concern on the three Grangers, and then to the looks of awe on the two elves. Before he could answer, Winky spoke. "Pardon me, Miss Grangey, but Fawkes isn't hurting Master Harry, but binding to him. We is being honored to be witnessing such an event, but Master Harry is being honored even greater."

She looked from Winky to her boyfriend. "Harry?"

"Winky's right. Fawkes did bind with me. I don't know how I know that, but I do. I agree that it's a great honor." He turned to his winged companion. "Thank you, Fawkes. I am deeply honored." The phoenix then began singing, filling everyone with hope and comfort. The song only lasted five minutes, but it seemed like it went on for much longer. When he stopped, everyone was refreshed.

"Wow," said Marissa.

"The books didn't do phoenix song justice," commented Hermione.

"It is incredible," Adam agreed.

Yes it is," said Harry happily. Then he came to himself and added, "Now that we've calmed down, we need to figure out what to do."

"Well," said Hermione, "we're safe here."

"But what about work," said Adam. "We have a dental practice that…"

"That Dumbledore will no doubt visit," said Harry.

"Probably in disguise," added Hermione. "He could pose as any of your patients, or could walk in there invisible." She took a deep breath. "I've been worried about you with Voldemort out there as well, and have been considering asking you to leave the country, and the Granger name, already. I'd have probably asked you to do that by next year. With Dumbledore also after us, I think you should disappear now."

Harry looked grim as he faced his girlfriend's parents. "Hermione's right. You do have to disappear. You're safe in this house, and are welcome to stay here as long as you want. But if you feel cooped up in here, you'll have to leave the country." He then looked down at the ground, uncomfortable. "Er, if money's the problem, I've got plenty you can have."

"No, Harry, son, we don't need your money," said Adam, putting his hand on Harry's shoulder in a fatherly way. "Marissa and I will discuss what we want to do, but for now," he glanced at his wife, "I think we'll stay here at least until Hermione's birthday. However, I'll need to make a few phone calls to arrange things, and I'll need my phonebook."

Hermione pointed her wand toward the pile of shrunk junk and said, "Accio, dad's phonebook."

While his girlfriend was resizing her dad's phonebook, Harry said, "Dobby can take you to the house where Aunt Petunia's staying. That has a phone. Make all the calls you need to." He took a deep breath. "It would probably be best if I went there first so that Aunt Petunia doesn't panic when a strange man shows up."

-

A minute later, Harry and Dobby popped into the middle of the living room of the house Petunia and Dudley Dursley were living. They'd appeared right in front of the tele that Dudley was watching, and he jumped in fright, landing with his backside on the floor.

Harry laughed as he said, "Hi, Dudley. Is your mum here?" Just in case, he fingered his wand.

"Yes, she is, Potter," he yelled, "in the kitchen." Then he stormed off to his bedroom.

"Duddy-poo, is something wrong?" came Petunia's voice from the kitchen.

"He's in his room," said Harry.

"Oh, Hi, Dobby, Harry. Aren't you supposed to be at school?"

"I…had to leave. Isn't Dudley supposed to be at Smeltings?"

"Since we were attacked at home, I thought he might be attacked at school, so I started home-schooling him. He doesn't seem to like it. So, what brings you here?"

"Hermione's parents have been targeted, too."

"Oh, no. Do they need to share this house?"

"No," Harry shook his head. "They're staying someplace else, but her dad needs to make some phone calls to set their affairs in order, and the place they're staying doesn't have a phone. So…"

"So you want him to make his calls from here?" Harry nodded. "You're the one paying the phone bill."

"Okay, Dobby, go get him." The elf disappeared with a pop, reappearing ten seconds later with Hermione's dad.

Harry introduced them. "Adam Granger, meet Petunia Dursley." They shook hands, and then Petunia showed him where the phone was.

While Dr. Granger made his phone calls, Harry updated his aunt on what was going on, mainly so that she wouldn't trust the headmaster if he somehow found her. "I NEVER liked that old man!" she declared, "But I never thought he'd do that!" She then looked a bit nervous. "Are you sure that we're safe here?"

"Yeah. No one knows about this place. But if it makes you feel better, Hermione turns 17 next Thursday. I'm sure I can talk her into warding this house after that. I'm sure she knows some clever spells to protect you. I'll have her make you some emergency portkeys, too. I'm sure she knows how to do that. She's really brilliant."

"Yes, she is," said Adam, as he walked into the room with them. He was beaming with pride. "I'm glad to see that you admire her enough to brag to your aunt about her."

He smiled at the older man. "How could I not? I guess you're done with the phone?"

"Yes. We've sold our practice to a competitor who made an offer a few months ago. We can start up a new one if we want to when the crisis is over, or we could get along without working. We wouldn't be rich, but with the house paid for and our daughter raised, we won't need that much money to live comfortably on."

"Okay, then I guess I'll see you later, Aunt Petunia."

"Bye, Harry."

He then called Dobby back, who brought them to Grimmauld Place.

-

The next morning, Minerva McGonagall was escorting three students to see Professor Dumbledore, who'd appeared very agitated when he'd asked her to retrieve them. Harry Potter and Hermione Granger had left the school the previous night, and no one seemed to know where they went. She, of course, knew that they had been considering it, so she wasn't worried, although she was a bit disappointed that they'd decided to leave. She'd tried explaining that to the headmaster earlier, but he didn't seem to be listening. He just told her to get Ron and Ginny Weasley, along with Neville Longbottom. Minerva knew that Harry was also friends with Luna Lovegood, but wasn't about to bring her up. Besides, Dumbledore probably knew about her as well, but figured that Harry wouldn't have told the odd Ravenclaw anything he hadn't told his fellow Gryffindors, who looked distinctly nervous about this.

"Acid Pops," she said to the gargoyle, which moved out of the way, revealing the staircase.

They climbed it in silence, and when they reached the door to his office, Dumbledore's voice called out, "Come in," before the door opened.

The headmaster was looking much calmer, and the twinkle was back in his eyes as he sat at his desk motioning them to have a seat. "You may go, Minerva," he said.

"If you don't mind, headmaster, I believe I'd like to stay," she said firmly as she conjured an extra chair and sat down.

The twinkle disappeared from his eyes for a moment before returning. "Very well." Turning to the Gryffindors that had accompanied their head of house, he said, "Have a seat, children. Would any of you like a lemon drop?"

In Minerva's opinion, the kids looked terrified to take anything Dumbledore offered them as they politely shook their heads.

"Very well. How are your classes going?"

"Fine," they all answered.

He looked at the Weasley siblings. "Are you enjoying your Quidditch practices?"

"Y-yes, sir," said Ginny, nervously.

"Now, we'll get to the purpose of this meeting. As I'm sure you're aware, both Harry Potter and Hermione Granger left the castle last night." They nodded. "No doubt you are aware of the way Lord Voldemort has continually chased after Mr. Potter, and see the danger of them being outside the castle without protection."

"Pardon me," said Neville, "But it seems like this castle hasn't exactly been safe for them this year."

"Ah, yes," said Dumbledore calmly, "The unfortunate incidents involving Miss Granger's prefect rounds. I thought they might have factored into this rash decision of theirs. However, I believe that that particular danger has been eliminated."

"By Harry," muttered Ginny.

With his eyes twinkling madly, Dumbledore looked into Ginny's eyes. "I see. You are all convinced that Mr. Potter can take care of himself. Against a few Death Eaters, I would agree. However, Lord Voldemort would send all of his followers after them, and no one could be expected to survive those odds. I must know where he is. Surely he told you, his closest friends."

"Ow!" exclaimed Ginny, just before breaking eye contact with the headmaster. Judging by the way the young girl was holding her head. Minerva had a suspicion about what her boss was doing. When Ron had the same reaction to Albus' gaze, her suspicion was confirmed.

"Albus!" she exclaimed, gaining his attention. She noticed that the twinkle was gone from his eyes. He turned his attention back to the students.

"So, none of you will answer your headmaster's questions?" he demanded, trying but failing to sound polite.

The children were completely still as Neville said, "We don't know where they went. They didn't tell us."

"Very well. Mr. and Miss Weasley, you are hereby removed from the Quidditch team; Mr. Longbottom, you are banned from the greenhouses except for when you have Herbology class; and all three of you are in detention."

"Professor Dumbledore!" interrupted Minerva. "They have done nothing wrong! If Mr. Potter and Miss Granger didn't choose to tell these students where they went, you cannot punish them for it!" The old man glared at Minerva with more anger than she had ever seen before in his formerly kind face.

"Very well," he spat. "You're not being punished. You're all dismissed." Those kids didn't need to be told twice as they bolted for the door, and Minerva didn't blame them, as she, too, was in a hurry to escape this angry man.

"I won't forget this insubordination, Minerva," he said as she walked out the door.

-

Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, was sitting at his desk looking miserable. He was not having a good day. When he arrived at the office, he received the horrible news that Death Eaters had massacred a muggle orphanage in London the night before, not leaving anyone alive. The building was then burned to the ground, with a Dark Mark hovering over it. He couldn't for the life of him figure out why He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would want to destroy that particular orphanage. It had been around for over eighty years. The Daily Prophet was having a field day at his expense, as though it was his fault, and he could only imagine the howlers that his house elves were putting up with.

He was interrupted from his musing by his private floo coming to life with green flames. The face of Albus Dumbledore came out from it and looked up at him, eyes twinkling. "Minister, might I have a word with you?"

Rufus sighed and said, "I suppose."

The professor smiled. "Splendid." He then walked out of the fireplace, dusting himself off before taking a seat at the desk.

"What's this about, Dumbledore? I don't have a lot of time, with that orphanage attack last night…"

"Yes, that was unfortunate that Riddle destroyed his old orphanage," Scrimgeour's eyes widened. He knew from a previous meeting with the headmaster that You-Know-Who's original name was Tom Riddle, but he'd forgotten that he'd grown up in an orphanage.

"Are you sure that was the orphanage…"

"Of course I'm sure. I went there myself to deliver his Hogwarts letter, which I now regret, of course. But we have more urgent business to attend to. Harry Potter and his girlfriend, Hermione Granger, are missing."

"WHAT?" he asked, shocked. He, naturally knew all about them. He'd made it a point to be familiar with everyone associated with Harry Potter. "Were they kidnapped? I know there have been attacks at Hogwarts but…"

"No. I'm afraid they left of their own free will. Alone. They need protection from Lord Voldemort. I need to find them. Will you have them found, arrested and brought to me for their own safety?"

The Minister looked at Dumbledore as though he'd grown an extra nose. "On what charge? It's legal for anyone who's passed their O.W.L.s to drop out of school. For all I know, they left to elope. We've got enough to worry about with Death Eater attacks to spend time looking for them. I hope Mr. Potter turns up, but I doubt he's in danger. From what I understand, he could probably out-duel most of my aurors. If you don't know where he is, then the odds are that You-Know-Who doesn't know, either."

-

The week went by quickly for Harry and the Grangers, and it was now Thursday, September 19th – Hermione's 17th birthday. They had spent the week making plans for what they'd do once Hermione could legally do magic, not to mention going through the material they would have covered at Hogwarts. Hermione had removed the tracking charm on Harry's motorcycle, and the two of them had gone through their other stuff and found and removed five more – two on Hermione's possessions. They'd also contacted Lupin, and he was now staying with them at Black Manor, helping Harry and Hermione train every day. He'd been shocked at how far Dumbledore had gone to manipulate Harry, but did believe them about it, considering that he already knew that the old man had tried to swindle Harry out of his house.

Dobby had handled purchasing all magical supplies and so forth, since the odds of anyone recognizing an elf out running errands was minimal. However, Lupin had purchased anything they needed in the muggle world, including exercise equipment. Harry and Hermione had continued their regimen of daily training, and expanded it since they didn't have classes to attend. Remus was helping them with advanced dueling, along with teaching them apparition. Although they didn't think now was a good time to show up at the Ministry to test for a license, they realized that this would be a good skill to have.

Harry woke up very early to help arrange things for Hermione's surprise party. He knew that she planned on doing a lot of things that day, now that she could legally do magic, so he thought it would be best to surprise her with a party at breakfast. Her parents and Remus agreed.

He left his bedroom and walked over to the door of her room, casting a silencing spell so that their efforts wouldn't wake her, and then walked downstairs. He was joined shortly by his co-conspirators.

-

At precisely 7:05 a.m., the door to Hermione's bedroom opened from the inside, revealing the birthday girl wearing her exercise clothes. Their custom had been to eat breakfast, practice dueling, and then exercise, followed by taking showers. She made her way down the stairs and opened the door to the kitchen.

"SURPRISE!!!"

The woman about jumped out of her skin. Her heart was beating rapidly as she caught her breath. She looked around the room to see a banner that said, 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERMIONE' floating in the middle of the room. A cake was on the table, along with scrambled eggs. There was another table in the room that contained some gift-wrapped packages. She turned her attention to the smiling faces looking at her expectantly, waiting for a response. "Thanks," she said, as a smile grew on her face.

"This was Harry's idea," said her mother. "He knew you might not have time for this later."

She looked at her boyfriend affectionately. "Thanks, Harry." She walked up and, mindful of her parents, gave him a chaste kiss.

The small party continued from that point, and Hermione enjoyed receiving several new books from her parents and Remus. Harry, however, gave her a gold necklace with a small white stag on it. She kissed him again when she opened that gift.

-

At Hermione's insistence, they kept up with the training routine. After lunch, Hermione took four small bottles she'd saved for just this occasion. She had Harry sit down while she stood next to him, her wand pointed at his temple. "You know what to do?" He nodded.

They'd decided to send Harry's memory of watching Dumbledore's memory to both the Daily Prophet and the Minister of Magic, along with Hermione's memory of their last encounter with the headmaster. Hermione had learned that there were two different silent spells to extract memories. One would remove the memory from that person's mind, while the other would simply copy it. She was doing the latter spell as the silvery substance came from her boyfriend's mind.

They'd waited until her birthday so that no one could say that the memories were obtained illegally. Hedwig, who'd surprised them all by showing up the day after they'd left, had been offended when Harry performed a charm to turn her feathers brown so she wouldn't be recognized when she carried a brown paper bag, which contained the two memories and a note explaining the memories signed by Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, to the editor of the Daily Prophet. Once the owl was gone, an identical package was given to Fawkes, who flamed directly to the Minister's office.

"Now that that's out of the way," said Hermione, "We'll head over to Petunia's house."

-

While Harry chatted with his aunt (and Dudley stayed in his room), Remus and Hermione performed several spells on Harry's house, occasionally needing him (the owner) to help in some way. Usually it was to provide a drop of blood on some rune they'd put there.

About twenty minutes after they arrived, Harry was talking to his aunt, when his newest companion flashed right in between them. Petunia jumped backwards while Harry said, "Hi, Fawkes." The phoenix chirped in response. Harry noticed that a rolled up piece of parchment had been tied to his leg. "Is that a letter from Scrimgeour?" Another chirp. "By the way, Fawkes, this is my Aunt Petunia."

"Er, nice to meet you, Fawkes," said the nervous woman while Harry got his mail. He unrolled the scroll and read it.

Dear Mr. Potter and Miss Granger,

I must say that I was surprised, though pleased, to hear from you. I was even more surprised that your package was delivered by Professor Dumbledore's phoenix. That was, of course, before I read your letter of explanation.

I am naturally astounded by the accusations you've brought against the headmaster, although the fact that his phoenix has left him for you certainly adds credence to your story. I shall be viewing those memories shortly, and if they contain what you say they contain, I promise you that I will personally issue a warrant for his arrest, and I know that a phoenix won't help him escape this time.

Hoping that we can work together more in the future,

Rufus Scrimgeour

Minister of Magic

Harry grinned and looked up at his phoenix and his aunt that was petting it. "Good news. Scrimgeour's gonna arrest Dumbledore. I've got to tell Hermione!" He got up and ran to his girlfriend, who was equally thrilled with the news. She gave him a very thorough kiss before resuming her work on the wards.

Dobby brought Mr. and Mrs. Granger there during the afternoon to use the phone, and returned them to Black Manor after they finished the calls and had a short visit with the others.

It was late at night when Harry, Hermione and Remus left. When it was over with, the house was impervious to fire and most spell damage, and was unplotable. It had wards against any magical being that Harry didn't specify from being inside it. No matter how they entered, they would immediately be stunned, and would not wake up until they were out of the house or keyed into the ward.

Hermione had found that ward in the Black Library. Of course, that book had recommended using the cruciatus curse, as opposed to the stunning spell. It could actually work with any spell that the owner wanted. Whatever spell is chosen, the affects remain until the victim is outside the house. They'd decided against using the Fidelius Charm, because it interferes with electricity. They also put an emergency portkey in the house so that there'd be a way to escape in case the wards failed.

-

When they got back, Mr. and Mrs. Granger were waiting for them, and appeared nervous. "Hello, everyone," said Marissa. "How'd it go?"

"Great," said Hermione, beaming. "I was able to put what I've learned in Ancient Runes to practical use."

"We've rented a flat in Australia for six months," said Adam. "We'll be moving tomorrow morning."

Hermione looked crestfallen, but was trying to act happy. "Oh, er, that's great. Did you use those names I recommended?"

Marissa put her hand on her daughter's shoulder and smiled. "No. We didn't want to go by the names Wendell and Monica Wilkins." Harry and Remus snorted, earning a glare from Hermione. "We're going by the names Dan and Emma Radcliff."

"Er, that's great," said Harry. "I hope you enjoy it, and I hope that the trouble's over by then."

"Me, too," said Adam, who took a deep breath. "I know we can't talk you two into coming with us, but can you at least promise to be careful?"

Looking very serious, Hermione answered, "We'll do our best."

They hugged each other and went to bed, only to have a tearful goodbye the next morning, during which Adam charged Harry to, "Take care of my girl." Dobby apparated them both to the flat they'd rented and resized their stuff, including their cars, which he discretely put in their parking lot. Hermione had put a cunfundus charm on their license plates, so that anybody reading them would get confused. That way, no one would run their plates and find out their true identity. She'd also changed their driver's licenses to reflect their aliases.

-

Neville and Ginny (who'd gotten together that week) were snogging that same night in a corner of the Gryffindor room when suddenly, the background noise disappeared. This was so unsettling that the young couple separated and looked around.

Everyone, including Ron (who was playing chess with Colin Creevey), was looking at the doorway, where Albus Dumbledore was standing, his eyes twinkling madly.

"Hello, everyone. I hope you're enjoying your year. I'd like to have a private chat with Mr. Weasley, Miss Weasley, and Mr. Longbottom."

The three of them looked at each other, and then got up. "What would you like to know, Headmaster?" asked Ginny, politely. "We already told you that we don't know where Harry and Hermione are." At the same time, Ron whispered something to Colin before walking toward the headmaster.

With a twinkle in his eye, he answered, "I just thought that a private chat might allow some little detail they might have mentioned to rise to the surface of your thoughts."

"I doubt it," said Neville.

"I'm afraid I must insist, Mr. Longbottom. All three of you, come with me."

Realizing that they didn't have a choice, they walked out the door, ahead of Professor Dumbledore. Colin ran to the door, preventing it from completely closing, and watched them walk down the hallway, being careful not to be noticed by the headmaster. As soon as the quartet was out of sight, he ran out the door the other way.

-

"I must insist that each of you drink this lemonade," Dumbledore said, still with the twinkle in his eyes, "It is exceptionally good." They were back in his office.

"No," said all three together, fairly certain of what was in the drink. The professor's countenance changed to rage.

"Very well. Have it your way." In less than one second, he'd grabbed his wand and placed each of the students in the full body-bind. They never even saw it coming. He pulled a small bottle with a clear liquid marked only with a V out of a desk drawer. He unscrewed the cap and dipped an eye-dropper in it, filling it to capacity. He recapped the liquid and replaced it in the drawer.

He walked over to Ron first, figuring that he was Harry's best friend for five years and would know the most. He released precisely three drops of the liquid into the redhead's mouth, and modified the body-bind to allow him to speak. Ron's eyes had a glazed look about them.

The headmaster's twinkle returned to his eyes as he smiled. "That's better. Now, what…"

At that moment, the door burst open, revealing an angry-looking Minerva McGonagall, who was standing next to a shocked-looking Professor Jones. McGonagall took one look at the students and pointed her wand at them, releasing them from the headmaster's spell. "What did he do?" she asked the teenagers while she pointed her wand at Dumbledore.

Ron said in a dreamy voice, "He put us in the full body-bind and put three drops of something I think is veritaserum in my mouth, and then released me enough to speak."

"What," asked Hestia, looking between Ron and the headmaster with horror in her eyes.

"Did he ask you any questions?" Minerva demanded, a look of shock on her face.

"No. He was about to when you came it," he replied, still with a dreamy voice.

"Accio, Veritaserum!" she said, causing the eye dropper to come straight out of her boss' hand. "Please put your wand on the table, headmaster."

"I'm afraid I can't do…"

"Stop! In the name of the Ministry of Magic you are under arrest, Professor Dumbledore!" shouted a voice from the doorway. They all looked to see Auror Hale, one of the people that had come to the school when Harry and Hermione were attacked by Snape and his Slytherins.

The headmaster seemed completely shocked. "On what charge?"

"Conspiracy to attempted murder and attempted murder of Miss Hermione Granger, for two," said Scrimgeour, who had now come into view. "You are also charged with the use of the Imperius Curse on a Ministry employee, specifically Mr. Arthur Weasley, although that might be harder to prove."

Dumbledore's face was red. He seemed close to foaming at the mouth. "I didn't…"

"You can add illegal use of veritaserum on a minor, specifically Mr. Ronald Weasley, to those charges, Minister," said Minerva, handing him the dropper.

"Surrender your wand," said Auror Hale, with his wand pointed directly at Albus.

He pointed his wand directly at the young auror. "Never, and you'll never beat me! If you do not wish to get hurt, young man, I suggest…what!?"

While he'd been bragging to his opponent, he didn't notice Ginny Weasley sneak up and grab the wand out of his hand. He turned and glared at the smirking girl for a moment before being stupefied by the auror. As they were levitating the unconscious headmaster out of the room, the Minister of Magic walked up to Miss Weasley. "You may keep that wand, young lady. Mr. Ollivander once told me that a wand will surrender itself to anyone who takes it from its former master, so it's yours now."

"Thank you, Minister," she said politely. With silent agreement, they all followed Scrimgeour and Hale as they levitated Dumbledore down the stairs, through the entrance hall, and finally out the front doors, with several students watching in silence.

Once they were gone, the chattering began until McGonagall amplified her voice to say, "Attention, everyone. Professor Dumbledore is not ill. The fact is that he has been arrested on several charges, and resisted the Ministry, therefore getting stunned in the process. For the time being, as Deputy-Headmistress, I am in charge of the school and classes will go as normal. The Board of Directors will determine who Professor Dumbledore's replacement will be. Good evening."

-

The next morning, the Daily Prophet had an article all about it that was extremely accurate for a change. It was titled, "Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore Arrested after Attempting to Murder a Student – Harry Potter's Girlfriend." It detailed the memories that Harry and Hermione had sent them as well as the letter they'd sent, and what had just happened at Hogwarts. Needless to say, the wizarding community was shocked. So was Lord Voldemort when he read the paper that Wormtail had gotten him.

"Well, well, well," he said with a maniacal grin, "Dumbledore isn't so perfect, after all. I never knew he had it in him to attack a student, though."

"Y-yes, master," said Pettigrew.

"You do realize what this means, don't you?"

"Harry Potter will probably return to Hogwarts?"

"NO! Crucio!" While Wormtail writhed in agony, his silver hand banging on the floor, he conceded, "I suppose that he will, but that's not my point. Dumbledore is no longer protecting Hogwarts." He finally lifted the curse off of his minion.

"T-T-True, my lord," he agreed.

"Then we shall attack the castle and kill every last student there. That shall bring the wizarding world to its knees! I believe that Halloween will be the perfect time."

Peter's eyes widened. "A-Another massacre of children, master?" he asked. "I-I thought you'd enjoyed enough at that orphanage?"

"Crucio! I will never have killed enough to be satisfied!" He let up the curse. "Get out of my sight, rat! And find a way to sneak into Hogwarts. Kill the teachers in their beds the night before Halloween and summon me when it is done! The students will be leaderless and confused when we attack. Leave Harry Potter to me, though."

The little bald man with a silver hand made his way out of Voldemort's headquarters, wondering how much more of this he could take. He was still having nightmares of the young children that Voldemort had tortured before killing them. He wondered if it was too late – if there was any way to get out of this wretched life he'd chosen.

-

"Silence!" demanded McGonagall, putting a sudden end to the arguments that were taking place. They were having the first Order meeting since the truth about Dumbledore had come out. "I know that all of us have had our faith shaken by what Dumbledore turned out to be…"

"Says Potter," interrupted Shacklebolt. "How do we know…"

"I saw Dumbledore questioning students with veritaserum!" shouted Hestia Jones.

"He lied to both me and Harry about owning our old Headquarters, and then locked everyone out when he learned that Harry had found out!" said Lupin.

"But attempted murder of Hermione Granger?" questioned Mad-Eye.

"They provided memories," said Molly Weasley. "I still can't believe that he was the one who'd bewitched Arthur."

"Neither can I," said the Weasley patriarch, "but it does make sense. I do have memory lapses from that time that always end with me alone with Dumbledore. So, even though I can't actually remember his putting me under the curse, I do remember being with him."

"All this debate is pointless," said McGonagall. "He will have a trial wherein his victims will testify. The question is what to do with the Order now."

Taking a deep breath, Shacklebolt said, "Maybe we should just dissolve it. Snape's gone, and we don't know if he ever really was our spy, or if he was spying on us. We don't seem to have any extra resources or purpose now. The Ministry knows You-Know-Who is back, and is trying to combat him, so what is the point of continuing now?"

"I realize that recent event have been very trying, but I do not believe that the answer is to immediately give up," said Minerva. "I would like to end the meeting and plan for another one in two weeks. That should give us all time to think about how we can help in this war, and who our new leader should be."

-

"I can't believe that it's only been two weeks since we left," said Hermione. She and Harry had just stepped out of the fireplace in the Headmistress' office.

It was the morning of Sunday, September 29th. Dumbledore had had his trial a few days before, and had been found guilty and sentenced to life in Azkaban. Scrimgeour had demanded that the trial be held that soon so that the matter would be resolved quickly. The testimony of Harry, Hermione, Arthur, Ron, Ginny and Neville for his various crimes was enough to convict him. His only defense was that it was, "for the greater good." With him gone, the young couple (mainly Hermione) had decided to return to school. Hermione's parents, whom they visited the day before, were very supportive of that decision, but decided that they would stay in Australia until the war ended. They contacted the newly appointed Headmistress McGonagall, who informed them that she would be delighted to welcome them back.

"It hasn't been the same without you. Also, I should inform you, Miss Granger, that Miss. Parvati Patil told me last week that if you returned she would be more than happy to step down and allow you to resume your prefect responsibilities."

"That was nice of her," said Hermione. Harry managed to hold back a snort of laughter. He knew that Parvati would've hated being stuck as a prefect, and wasn't giving it up to be nice to Hermione.

"Where's your luggage?" asked the headmistress, looking around.

"Shrunk and in my pocket," said Harry with a grin.

"Very well," she said. "I'd suggest you make your way to Gryffindor Tower to announce your presence."

-

"Here's your change, sir, and thank you for shopping at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes," said George as he finished up the last customer of the evening. As soon as the door was closed behind the man, Fred pointed his wand at the entrance, causing it to glow green.

"What a day," said George.

"I think we enjoyed inventing stuff so much," said Fred.

"That we didn't realize what hard work it is to actually run a store," finished George.

"And a fine job you make of it," said a squeaky voice behind them. Both Weasley twins spun around, pulled out their wands, and pointed them at the stranger in less than a second. Before them was a man they'd never actually seen before – at least as a human – but knew the general description of the balding man with graying hair and a rat-like face and pointed nose well enough. If there were any doubt about the identity of this intruder, it was eliminated by his silver right hand.

"Wormtail!" both twins said together.

The small man was shaking as he pleaded, "Please don't kill me; I'm tired of the Dark Lord always killing children; I'm sorry for what I've done; I have information – important information to give to Harry Potter!" One of the twins magically bound him in ropes. He fell to the ground on his face.

"Why should we," said George.

"Believe you," said Fred. He threw a pellet at the intruder. A moment later, Pettigrew was covered in green slime, which was covered with feathers.

"I don't want to serve the Dark Lord, anymore," he cried.

"So, now you're betraying him, too!"

"Seems all you're good for!" They both used the Aguamenti spell to rinse him off while he stayed still, now kneeling on the floor.

"Please believe me!" he begged.

"We'll see about that!" said Fred.

"Accio, veritaserum!" said George. A small bottle flew from behind the desk, straight into his hand.

Fred levitated and turned the broken man around and George put three drops of the clear liquid in his mouth. "Are you really betraying You-Know-Who?" he asked.

"Yes," he said with a dreamy voice.

"Why?"

"The Dark Lord is being so ruthless. He tortured those children at that orphanage and killed them all. He's planning on a massacre at Hogwarts on Halloween."

"He's attacking Hogwarts?" asked George.

"Yes."

"Why do you want to talk to Harry Potter?"

"Because I believe he's the Chosen One."

"What did you want to tell him?"

"That the Dark Lord has a powerful shield around himself through an enchanted object – he hasn't told me what. He can't be affected by any spell while he's wearing whatever it is. So anything Potter has planned to do to the Dark Lord will fail unless he finds a way around this shield."

"Very interesting," said Fred.

"Now tell us everything you know about the other Death Eaters."

-

After finding out everything they could from Wormtail, including that Voldemort's headquarters were under the Fidelius Charm with Voldemort himself as Secret-Keeper, they stupefied him, took his wand, and put him in a cage that neither a man nor a rat could escape out of. They sent a note to Harry, telling him what Wormtail had said about Hogwarts and Voldemort. Knowing that Voldemort was expecting a message from the rat, they knew they couldn't turn him over to the Ministry without blowing the opportunity to trap Voldemort on Halloween. Having previously learned from their parents that the Order was meeting the next day, they made it a point to show up there with their prisoner, and suggest that they prepare for Voldemort's trap that Wormtail had agreed to help orchestrate, if they promised to protect him.

-

Hermione reread the note that the twins had sent Harry for the fifth time while Harry paced angrily in the Room of Requirement. He'd gotten the letter and hour before and shown it to her. She decided they should talk about this before involving their close friends. She knew how he felt about Pettigrew and decided that it would be best for all concerned parties if she handled Harry's temper.

"They have Wormtail! Why can't I go there and tear that worthless piece of…"

"Harry! He's betrayed Voldemort and is help…"

"That's not the first one he's betrayed! We can't trust him for…"

"They used veritaserum!"

"Fine! He was telling the truth, today. That doesn't mean…"

"What it means, Harry, is that we have two problems to deal with: Hogwarts is being attacked and Voldemort can't be killed."

"It didn't say he couldn't be killed, just not by magic," said Harry. "If I can get close enough to strangle…"

"Of course!" exclaimed Hermione, excitedly. "Don't you remember our conversation about the power he doesn't know?"

"What?" Harry looked confused.

"Remember our discussion of what it could be? One of the possibilities was that muggle weaponry, which Voldemort has rejected along with everything else non-magical, could be the power he knows not." She bit her lip in concentration. She then smiled. "It's so simple. We need to get you a gun."

Harry looked at her like she'd grown a third ear. "How on earth can we get one of those?"

"Simple. We ask the Weasley twins to."

"Do you really think…"

"Apparating into and robbing a military base is a very easy thing for a wizard to do. Especially a sneaky one." She suddenly looked hesitant. "Maybe we should give them money to leave behind. I don't want to rob the government."

-

Harry and Hermione had told Ron, Neville, Ginny and Luna about the impending attack, and together, they decided to inform the rest of the D.A. and begin planning a strategy. They brought their battle plan to McGonagall, who they knew had been informed of the attack by Fred and George, who had earned membership in the Order. Minerva had been placed in charge of the Order for the time being. Order members were being snuck into the school to stay until after the attack. McGonagall hated to admit it, but the D.A. had come up with a good plan. She did specify that only students who had passed their defense O.W.L.s would be allowed to participate, but both Ginny and Luna decided to sneak into the battle anyway. Luna told Ginny, "If we get in trouble, we can always claim that quembrats made us do it."

A few days after Wormtail defected, the twins had sent Harry a gun, holster, and a ton of ammo with Lupin when he snuck to the castle, along with a special item that Harry had asked him to bring. "They didn't say where they got it, and I don't want to know," Remus told the young couple. "They did say that they were coming the night before Halloween right after they close up shop. They claimed they'd be missed if they disappeared too soon, but I think they just want to make as much money as possible without missing the fight."

Harry began spending a lot of time practicing using the gun in the Room of Requirement, which provided targets. He decided that it would be best to dissolution the holster and gun, in hopes of surprising Riddle.

When the twins did arrive on October 30th, they brought Wormtail with them in his portable prison so that he could signal Voldemort to come. Harry thought about confronting Wormtail, but felt like he should wait until after the battle. He didn't trust himself to not strangle the rat, and they needed him around.

-

That night, Harry asked Hermione if he could speak to her alone, so they found themselves in an abandoned classroom. She was sitting on a chair while her boyfriend was silently pacing.

"You're going to wear out the floor," she said with a grin.

He stopped pacing and stuck his hands in his pockets. He looked distinctly nervous as he swallowed. "I g-guess so."

"I guess you're nervous about tomorrow, huh?"

He shrugged. "I suppose, a little."

"What did you want to talk to me about?"

He swallowed again, and Hermione could tell that he was beginning to sweat. "Er, I…" He fumbled around in his left pocket until a small black box fell out onto the floor. As he muttered an expletive, his girlfriend recognized what kind of box it was. Her eyes widened.

He grabbed the box and held it firmly in his hand, facing her. She gazed back at him lovingly. "Er, I'm not good at saying things, but I know that I couldn't live without you."

"Harry…"

"Let me finish. I couldn't have made it this far without you. You're the first person I want to see when I wake up, and the last one I want to see when I go to sleep. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I-I love you, very much, and I want you to know that." He dropped down on one knee while Hermione fought back the tears that were threatening to fall. He opened the box, revealing a gold ring with a gem that looked like a diamond, except that it seemed to radiate with magic. Inside the stone, she could see every color of the rainbow pulsating. She was so mesmerized by the engagement ring that she barely heard him ask, "Will you marry me?"

She forced her attention back to the frightened face of the man kneeling in front of her and smiled brightly. "Of course I will." He placed the ring on her finger, and they kissed.

-

On Halloween morning, everybody got into position, including the younger students, who were hidden in the Room of Requirement. With a trembling hand, Wormtail touched his Dark Mark, signaling to Voldemort that it was time to begin the attack. Fred then turned his wand on Wormtail. "It's not that we don't trust you…Okay, we don't trust you. You should be fine here until after the battle. Stupefy."

-

Voldemort and his people apparated into position in Hogsmeade at 7:00 a.m. when they got the signal from Wormtail.

"Excellent," he hissed to his one hundred fifty Death Eaters. "The students will be waking up and making their way to the Great Hall. I can imagine the chaos that will ensue when they realize that none of their precious teachers are alive to help them."

They marched with Voldemort in the middle. A few Death Eaters in the back killed anybody from Hogsmeade that saw them. They marched straight toward Honeydukes, and killed the owners and the two auror guards that were watching the trap door into Hogwarts.

"This door will take us to the seventh floor of the castle. We will march from there directly to the Great Hall, killing any student we find. It is doubtful that any of them will be in their dormitories at this time. They'll be stuffing their faces and then panicking when they realize that all the staff is gone. My loyal Slytherin students have already been killed by Potter, and I will personally kill him. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Master," they all said.

"Yaxley, you take the lead. Open the trap door."

-

It was exactly a half-hour later when the Death Eaters approached the Great Hall. They had run across no student so far, and Voldemort assured them that the kids were still sitting in the Great Hall waiting for their teachers to show up.

When they walked into the largest room in the castle, they saw that the professors were not in the Great Hall, but all the younger students were gone as well. The approximately seventy students present looked up and pointed their wands, which were already in their hands. They looked at each other in silence for about two seconds before Harry said, "Reducto!"

A powerful beam of magic shot out of Harry's wand, beheading Yaxley. The other students began firing as well, and the Death Eaters began shooting killing curses at the students, who were dodging as Voldemort's army marched in. The ones in the front were casting shields that could stop most of the students' spells.

Several Order members came out from hiding behind the staff table and joined in the fray. This was not at all the easy victory that Voldemort had planned. "Wormtail," he grumbled to himself.

From the antechamber where the Triwizard champions had congregated a few years before, brandishing the wand she had taken from Dumbledore, came Ginny Weasley. Following her was Luna Lovegood. They had snuck into that room when no one was looking so that they could participate in the battle.

Ginny fired the bat-bogey hex at the first Death Eater she saw. It went through the shield that had been conjured and hit the mask. The disgusting bogeys came out of the victim's nose, which was inside the mask. The skull-shaped mask was vibrating as the bats attacked the face. He let down his guard to pull off his mask, and Ginny shot a reducto that took off the murderer's wand arm. Another one shot an Avada Kedavra at her, and she ducked.

Luna, along with most of the students, was firing stunning spells while Harry, Hermione, Neville and Ron were firing Reducto's. The invading army seemed obsessed with firing killing curses, and about ten students had been hit. Suddenly, the Death Eaters in the back of the group began to fall as an army of teachers attacked from the rear.

Flitwick fired a, "Reducto!" that hit Voldemort in the back of the head, but did no damage. It did have the affect of angering Riddle. He turned and grinned at the small man, aiming his wand.

"You dare attack me? Crucio!"

Harry knew he had his chance while Flitwick was writhing on the floor. He pulled his disillusioned gun out of the holster and aimed it.

"You should have known better than to opposed me, you filthy half-breed," Tom said to Flitwick after releasing the curse. "Avada…" BOOM!!! Harry shot him in back of the head, effectively killing him.

"You killed our master!" shouted Alecto Carrow while aiming her wand at Harry. "Crucio!" The curse hit Harry, who fell to the floor writhing for a few seconds before Hermione shot a Reducto at her head, stopping her from ever hurting anybody else.

Ginny, in the meantime, was amazed at how well she was doing with her new wand. It seemed to be practically dueling for her, and no one could beat it. It went through shield spells like they were nothing, and seemed to be guiding her to move whenever a spell was shot at her. She didn't know what was happening, but she liked it. She most definitely preferred this wand to her old one.

The battle was fierce, and there were casualties, but within a half-hour all the Death Eaters were either killed or captured. The students that had been killed were Lavender Brown, Padma Patil, Cormac McLaggen, Terry Boot, and a dozen others that Harry didn't know. The casualties from the Order were Dedalus Diggle, Emmeline Vance and Sturgis Podmore. Sybil Trelawney was the only teacher killed, although she had taken out three different Death Eaters by throwing crystal balls at them. Not many were injured, due to the fact that the Death Eaters mostly cast killing curses. You were either hit or you weren't. The few that were injured were mended quite quickly.

-

Epilogue

"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."

Nearly Eighteen-year-old Harry Potter, who had taken his N.E.W.T.s a week before, moved the veil from covering Hermione's face and kissed her. They were in the muggle church that she had attended while growing up. Her parents were sitting in the front row on her side while Remus and Tonks, who consented to have brown hair for the occasion, were sitting in the front row of the groom's side of the sanctuary with a baby in between them. The baby's hair was completely covered by a hood. It was decided that all of Harry and Hermione's magical friends would sit on that side, while Hermione's muggle friends would sit on her side with what seemed like the whole Granger family.

Ron was best man, while his fiancé, Luna, was a bridesmaid. The Maid of Honor was Ginny, and her fiancé, Neville, was a groomsman. Molly Weasley was sitting with the rest of her family, crying. The twins said she was practicing for the two pending Weasley weddings, which were planned for the next summer (once the brides graduated) in one double wedding.

The preacher cleared his throat after about two minutes, when the couple didn't show any signs of ending their kiss. They separated their faces while blushing in response to the twins' catcalls, and walked out, holding hands, and went to the muggle reception (after being photographed a billion times). There, Harry was passed from one Granger relative to the other for about one hour of torture, which he knew would be worth it. The cover story for the short time they spent at the reception was that the couple had a plane to catch, but the truth was that a wizarding party was also planned. As soon as they could, they left for that reception.

At the magical reception, Ron stood up with a glass in his hands and cleared his throat. "Now, er, as I'm best man here, I'm supposed to make the first toast. I've known these two for a long time now – since we were all eleven years old. Harry and Hermione always seemed to have a special connection, even when they couldn't see it. Anyway, they've been through a lot and they deserve the best, which is why Harry let me make this announcement. He's just been signed on as Seeker for Puddlemere United," people began clapping, and couldn't hear, "and I've signed up to be Keeper for the Chudley Cannons!"

He started to sit down until his fiancé whispered, "Has a Wragroff made you forget that you're making a toast?"

He stood back up with a red face. "Here's to the bride and groom," he said before taking a drink.

Ginny, who was also at the table, asked her brother, "Why didn't you announce that Hermione's opening the Lily Potter Library?"

"Why would they want to hear that?" he whispered back.

"Because it's the first public library to ever contain both wizarding and muggle books, and it's an effort to promote understanding muggles better, and it's devoted to Harry's mother. Dad'll love it."

"What's that got to do with Quidditch?" Ron asked.

Sighing, his sister said, "I'm sure there'll be a Quidditch book there."

"Oh, okay. I'll announce it."

"Never mind."

In the mean time, Harry and Hermione were pretty much oblivious to everything going on around them, except for their requests to kiss, yet again. Finally, when it was getting late, Harry got up to make his own speech. "Thank you, everyone, for coming and celebrating this happy day with us. As with all good things, it has to come to an end."

The catcalls coming from half the people there made it clear why they thought Harry was in a hurry to leave the party.

"This has been fun, and I look forward to the next party. Until then, goodbye."

-

The End.

Although I didn't put it in the story, Pettigrew was pardoned after clearing Sirius' name, but never became a close enough friend to Harry (or Remus for that matter) to be at his wedding.

Please review. Thank you to those who have. To paraphrase Harry, thank you, everyone, for reading this story. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. As with all good things, it has to come to an end. This has been fun, and I look forward to my next story. Until then, goodbye.

By the way, I've started rereading HBP, and noticed that in the 2nd chapter (Spinner's End), it looks like Bellatrix almost told Snape and Narcissa about the Horcrux. What do you think?

"He calls me his most loyal, his most faithful –"

"Does he?" said Snape, his voice delicately inflected to suggest his disbelief. "Does he still, after the fiasco at the Ministry?"

"That was not my fault!" said Bellatrix, flushing. "The Dark Lord has, in the past, entrusted me with his most precious – if Lucius hadn't –"

I believe that the 'most precious' thing she was referring to was Hufflepuff's Cup, which indicates that he'd given it to her before he'd been vanquished, which suggests that it was in her vault the whole time she was in Azkaban.