In another reality, worlds away, life went on. The general Wizarding population was not immediately affected by the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old boy with messy black hair, a little-known werewolf, and a Death Eater-turned traitor. But not for long.
It started with whispered rumours that Voldemort had attacked Beauxbatons. And failed.
Some thought that the ancient inherent magic of the establishment had been too much for the Dark Lord. But then they figured that he'd gotten into Hogwarts, so Beauxbatons should have been child's play. Others thought that it was an odd coincidence that when the Death Eaters had attacked the school that just happened to be the current residence of Nicholas Flamel, their plans were thwarted. If the rumours were true, some said, then maybe He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was not as undefeatable as people thought. Hope bloomed in the hearts of many.
And then came the appearance of two mysterious black-cloaked Wizards. The Liberators, they were called by some, by others, the Black Knights. They were rarely seen, but suddenly dozens of families were claiming that they owed their lives to two unknown people who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
The stories of the Liberators became more and more fantastic until no one knew quite what to believe. All they knew was whenever Death Eaters attacked, the two were there, slipping in and out of shadows, taking down the attackers one by one, and using battle methods that had never before been seen. Rumour had it that the two had been endowed with the powers of Merlin himself. The more sensible circles, however guessed that they had stolen Muggle war secrets.
The latter was correct. Sirius and Regulus Black, having decided that they had nothing left to hold them back, had indeed surprised the Wizarding population with their unexpected appearance. With the odds against them, the Black brothers decided to utilize alternative methods to their advantage—one of which being their Animagus forms (Regulus finally admitted that he too was an Unregistered Animagus. Not surprisingly, his form was a black snake). They also used fear of the unknown, dressing in black and slipping in and out of shadows as they fired sometimes fatal spells and firearms and detonated Muggle bombs and explosives, to strike terror in the Death Eaters, who were rumoured as becoming more and more unwilling to follow Voldemort's every command.
Some whispered that the Dark Lord himself was becoming more and more uneasy as the weeks went by, and the two cloaked Wizards picked off his Death Eaters one by one. Then the story was told that he had attempted some sort of dark magical spell that had left him weak and susceptible. The stories were not far from the truth. Voldemort, having become more and more angry as his lesser Death Eaters were struck down, had tried every plot, every scheme he could think of to destroy the Black brothers. Traps had been set; spells had been tried. But still, the two Liberators evaded his grasp. Becoming desperate, and now only having Nagini as surety for his immortality, he'd attempted to create yet another Horcrux, with dire results.
Then, the news arrived in Britain that Nicholas Flamel was returning to his home country. Many people thought that Flamel was in some way connected with the Liberators, and together they would unite to destroy He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the darkest and most evil wizard since Grindelwald. In reality, Flamel was in no way associated with Sirius and Regulus Black, except, of course, in goals and ideologies. Voldemort would have been quite surprised to learn that the sole conspirator with the Black brothers was a sixteen-year-old redheaded girl.
Once Harry, Lupin, and Snape had departed, Ginny had stayed on with Regulus and Sirius, who had quietly abandoned his job at Hogwarts. They lived on at Castaway Cottage, secure in the knowledge that only three other people knew the true whereabouts of the forest-surrounded home: Severus Snape, the true owner, and Harry Potter, the Secret-Keeper. All three, it turned out, were far away from the reach of the Death Eaters in the Aperio world, so the location was secure.
Ginny insisted that she be as involved as possible with the preparations and plans that went into each mission. She was the one who wished the brothers luck as they apparated away each night, and she was the one to receive them when they arrived back in the wee hours of the morning, exhausted, bruised, and more often than not, victims of Death Eater spells that had found their mark.
As the need for a third wand-user became more evident, Ginny began a campaign that eventually ended in Regulus ordering a specially-made wand from overseas. Japan, to be exact; in that country, the Trace was not placed on adolescents' wands.
Thrilled, she began her self-education at once, and within months had advanced farther than some fifth-years at Hogwarts. This baffled Sirius and Regulus, but they finally agreed that her progress was indeed remarkable. She had power in her spellwork that denied reason, especially given her years of suppression in Azkaban. The brothers agreed that this might have some relation to her being the seventh child and the first girl born in several generations of Weasleys. Regulus in particular helped her as much as he could, when he wasn't saving the magical and Muggle population from Voldemort's wrath.
The Black brothers were not the only one making an effort to curve the devastation the Death Eaters left in their wake. After Christmas holidays, Alastor Moody turned in his public resignation at Hogwarts and announced his intent to return to the Auror Department at the Ministry. His request was not received well by Lucius Malfoy and the other followers of Voldemort, but Moody had been quite popular during his day, and the general public was behind him. In the end, Minister Malfoy was forced to give Moody a position or risk loosing the support of the people. He did, however, put serious restrictions on the experienced ex-Auror—not that the restrictions did much good, though. Mad-Eye was not there to take cases and fight Death Eaters; he was there simply to be an inside influence. He slowly began working his way through the Wizards and Witches hovering in the middle ground, reasoning, questioning, and in the end, convincing them to come back to the Light side and be ready to make a stand if ever a public resistance was made.
Minerva McGonagall remained at Hogwarts, watching over her students like a mother hen. Unfortunately, or maybe not so unfortunately, Dolores Umbridge was put into position as the Defence teacher when another suitable person could not be found. Thus, the students began to realise many of the things Moody had been trying to tell them for years. They needed to be prepared to fight—and they weren't, and never would be if they relied on Umbridge for proper instruction.
Maybe it was fate that one afternoon, Ron, Jeremy, and Neville remembered something Harry had mentioned in his quick rendition of his other life—a club called Dumbledore's Army that two of their number had been involved in. A plan was formed; a meeting called. The students were interested. Daphne Greengrass, the resident "Hermione," was given the task of creating a way of communication between club members. The association was named The Resistance Club, a list of necessary spells for battle was compiled, Jeremy gave the leaders a lesson on how to use the Room of Requirement, and the R.C. was born.
Some might have thought it was providence that a certain Slytherin named Theodore Nott accidentally found out about the club through eavesdropping on a whispered conversation by two overexcited first year Gryffindors in the library. He approached Daphne, the most reasonable and open-minded of the four leaders, and offered his services. After making him (as well as the other members) swear a carefully modified Wizard's Oath that would inflict painful boils on the unlucky student who divulged information regarding the club, he was accepted. It wasn't long before his rather advanced knowledge of defensive spells was put to good use—teaching the others what he knew.
The semester soon drew to a close; an infuriated Umbridge was no closer to discovering the meeting place of the Resistance Club her Slytherin spies had brought her rumours of. She would have used Veritiserum, had not McGonagall discovered her plans and raised an outcry resulting in a reluctant Ministerial decree that the Truth Serum was not to be used on students.
Near the end of the term, Mrs. Weasley made her intentions clear that she was going to leave Britain and take the remains of her family with her, but to everyone's surprise, Percy Weasley refused, as well as more predictably, Ginny. The former kissed his mother goodbye, then made a public rejection of his family and became immersed in Ministry politics. At first the remaining Order members were shocked, appalled, and angry, until certain parties began receiving anonymous letters filled with insider information regarding confidential Ministry information. They had a rather good guess at who was sending the correspondences.
The biggest blow-up of all, however, occurred when Ginny refused to leave. Molly Weasley nearly blew up apart the Burrow when the owl arrived, stating that her daughter was going to remain with the Black brothers, and that was that. In the end, Mrs. Weasley was powerless to bodily remove her daughter from the country, as Ginny's residence was currently under the Fidelius Charm. She resignedly surrendered to remaining in Britain and set about making the Burrow as safe as possible from attack.
It was at this time that Flamel finally arrived in Britain, accompanied by his wife and oddly enough a student from Beauxbatons—Hermione Granger. His intentions were clear in Voldemort's eyes, but not from the points of view of the Magical residents. They whispered and watched as Flamel holed up in his residence in Devon, evidently doing nothing.
In reality, while Hermione had come along to help with spell development and to make a long-denied visit to her Muggle parents, she and Flamel were not in Britain just to research and develop spells and enchantments. While she handled the more practical part of the plan, Flamel began contacting every great and powerful Wizard and Witch from across the globe. He invited them to a conference to be held in Geneva and surprisingly, most accepted.
Being one of the only Wizards in the world who could Apparate across oceans, Flamel did not need a Portkey, and therefore no one but his wife and Hermione knew of his journey to Switzerland on the 27th of June, ironically exactly one year after the three Aperio travelers had arrived in the new reality.
A meeting like the one at Geneva hadn't been seen for a thousand years. Attendees included Hiro Surani of China, Abdul Kashar of Iraq, Svetlana Vassikin of the U.S.S.R., Jordan Kittman of the United States, Gabriella Mendez of Brazil, and many more. They were the elite of their respective countries, the masters of every branch of the Magical Arts; they were the best. Svetlana Vassikin carried a staff instead of a wand; Hiro Surani carried no wand at all.
Flamel bowed, greeted them, and thanked them for coming. Then he related the plight of the British people, the story of the Aperio, the actions that had been taken, the many deaths, and the tales of unrewarded bravery. Then he appealed for their help.
Hours and days of deliberation followed. Among those supporting the idea of aiding their British brothers was Horst Wittgenstein of Germany, one of the youngest of the group, and a survivor of the last Wizarding War involving Grindelwald. Though only a teen at the time, he remembered Albus Dumbledore coming to the Germans' rescue and felt it only fair that he do what he could in the war against Voldemort.
Many disagreed, however, including U.S. representative Jordan Kittman, who was still brooding over the incident the Muggles called the War of 1812, despite the friendly British-American relations that had been maintained since.
Finally, a decision was reached after nearly a week of deliberation. They would help—all but the Swiss Witch who was bound by a national oath to remain neutral, and the Argentinean Wizard who was unfortunately in the middle of a similar though smaller-scaled war and felt it wrong to abandon his country to help another.
The plan was simple. Take the Ministry of Magic and wait for Voldemort to arrive. They knew he would come; the only question was, would he bring Nagini?
Five days later, the Ministry had fallen and had been turned into a fortress by the most genius-minded Witches and Wizards in the world. Voldemort rallied his followers and prepared to attack.
It was the Battle of the Century. Muggle repelling and concealing charms were placed in a five-mile radius around the Ministry, and fake bombs forced the residents of London to evacuate because of a "terrorist" threat.
Sirius and Regulus, Moody, McGonagall, and the other brave Light Wizards and Witches prepared to attack the Death Eaters from the flanks as those inside of the Ministry readied themselves for the last stand.
Several hundred Death Eaters, an army of Inferi and Dementors, and six giants were up against twenty-eight International Witches and Wizards and about fifty more Order members and untrained citizens. Voldemort evidently thought the odds were on his side; nevertheless, he did not bring the snake.
Not long into the battle, the Death Eaters realised that they were loosing. Attempts to Apparate or Portkey away were thwarted by a clever Moroccan Witch who'd erected large-scale undetectable anti-Apparation and Portkey wards around the premises. When Voldemort realised he was trapped, he attempted to flee on foot, but was repelled by the forces attacking from behind.
Slowly, the Light forces closed in. One by one, Voldemort's followers dropped to the ground, his Inferi went up in flames, the Dementors were repelled by more powerful Patroni that had ever been seen before, and his Giants toppled over, creating mini-earthquakes as they fell to the ground, destroying large sections of Muggle buildings.
In the end, it was Flamel who finished Voldemort off, once and for all, but the others who aided him keeping the darkest villin of all time under control as the oldest Wizard cast an ancient spell of Hermione's discovery.
Just like the night of Dumbledore's bitter victory, Voldemort disappeared. Not stopping to celebrate, the twenty-eight set off with the help of former Death Eater Regulus Black to find the secret quarters of the Death Eaters. The butchery of Nagini was over quickly, and only then could they rest and return to their respective countries, most of them never to be seen in Britain again.
Great were the celebrations that resulted from the news of Voldemort's final destruction. In the Great Hall of Hogwarts, a more subdued party was held. The remaining Order members attended, including Percy Weasley who was greeted like a hero for his inside work, and the Black brothers, who had amazingly survived the battle, though McGonagall swore up and down she'd seen the two of them taking on a Giant unassisted by anyone else.
Ginny was present, finally able to come out of hiding after nearly a year. She too was received like hero, especially after Sirius and Regulus related their midnight tales and insisted they couldn't have managed without her.
There were, however, empty seats. Moody had fallen from a curse fired by Voldemort himself; George Weasley was in the hospital, recovering from an Organ-Crushing Curse that should have taken his life; Kiara had lost her life fighting Bellatrix Lestrange with her bare hands. In the end, it'd been Neville who finished Lestrange off with a well-placed Reducto Curse. He refused to say just why he'd done it, but Minerva McGonagall was pretty sure she knew, having heard the sad story of the Longbottoms' fates from Harry many months before.
Former Order Members weren't the only ones who'd fallen: several students from the Resistance club who had fought even after being warned not to go anywhere near London were among the dead—Seamus Finnigan, a sixth-year Ravenclaw girl, Hannah Abbot, and a Slytherin prefect who had joined the Resistance Club halfway through the semester after some persuasion from Theodore Nott.
Celebration and grieving were necessary, but both were put aside near the end of the celebration as the Order members put their heads together and planned the rebuilding of the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. A new Minister must be appointed; but who? Who would the broken magical population accept?
The witches and wizards of Britain ended up speaking for themselves. They first offered the Minister position to Flamel, but he said no, stating his intentions to move back to France and enjoy a long and peaceful retirement. Next, Sirius Black was picked, but he scoffed at the offer, claiming that Britain would fall into chaos if ruled by a Marauder, to everyone's puzzlement. Regulus turned it down as well, and they moved on to McGonagall, who flatly refused, stating that her place was at Hogwarts. The next in line was Arthur Weasley, who was reluctant and finally said it wasn't his place. Thus the job fell to Percy Weasley, who, after much debate, accepted. Under the guidance of the elder and wiser Wizards, he restored the Ministry to its former glory, repaired Muggle London, and set up standards and laws to help prevent corruptness and Pureblood partiality from ever infiltrating the Ministry again.
The first law to be lifted was the ban on Muggleborns from living in Britain. Hundreds came out of hiding, finally declaring their true status. Immigration peaked, and the attendance at Hogwarts swelled as parents pulled their children out of the institutions abroad and returned them to their rightful school.
A year later, thousands of Witches and Wizards attended the national party celebrating the day of Voldemort's downfall. At the event, Minerva McGonagall got up, waited for the crowd to quiet, and then began a rather remarkable tale that began with the appearance of three ordinary-looking travelers from another reality. She told how their efforts had ended in disaster, but their devotion had been the spark in the hearts of many who had continued the fight and finally prevailed against evil. Finally, the true story behind Voldemort's defeat was told.
In the party held at Hogwarts afterwards, Neville and Daphne Greengrass announced their engagement and coincidentally, Ginny Weasley and Theodore Nott met for the first time after a clumsy accident that resulted in spilled wine and red-faced apologies. He asked her to dance with him, and she accepted with a dazzling smile.
The remaining Weasleys attended the party, George looking even better than ever before and escorting a grinning Katie Bell. Ron appeared, immediately finding Jeremy Javan and giving him a back-slapping hug. The youngest Weasley son then introduced his old friend to the dark haired female Seeker he'd brought with him from the Chudley Cannons, which he played for.
Hermione was at the party as well, and she would have faded into the background had not McGonagall spotted her and dragged her to the front, calling a toast to the young girl genius whose work had produced the spells necessary to not only send the Aperio travelers back to their rightful world, but also to end the war. After a blushing Hermione thanked the crowd, someone asked her what she planned to do, and she revealed that she'd been offered a position at Beauxbatons that she'd accepted. She would be the youngest teacher in the history of all three rival schools: Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts.
Finally the Minister of Magic showed up, strutting pompously across the room and clearing his throat into a Sonorus spell. He was still Percy, after all. "Attention. Attention, everyone!"
Soon the room was silent, every face upturned expectantly.
Percy straightened his glasses and nodded courteously to the crowd. "As you know, we are here to celebrate the victory over Voldemort."
Cheers. Applause. Whistles. Even a dozen Dementors couldn't have lowered their spirits tonight.
Percy waited once again, and when the room was quiet, he said, "We are also here to remember those who didn't make it though the war—the friends and family who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy today: The Potters. Nymphadora Tonks. My own brothers Charlie and Bill Weasley. Alastor Moody. The Longbottoms. Kingsley Shacklebolt. Fleur Delacour. Rubeus Hagrid. Kiara Thompson. Sturgis Podmore. And the many others who died bravely. They will always be remembered for what they did. They are the ones we owe our lives to."
Many eyes were wet. Someone in the back of the room blew their nose rather loudly.
"But even as we look back, we are reminded that the past is the past. We can remember, we can tribute, but the best thing we can do is look to the future. Learning from the past, we can resolve not to let it ever happen again, and concentrate on living our lives to the fullest, just as they'd have wanted us to do."
Mrs. Weasley smiled through her tears, clutching Arthur's arm.
"But before we turn our sights on the future before us, I'd like to propose a toast to the three special people who unfortunately cannot be with us today. They are the ones who originally reformed the Order and found the Horcruxes. Without them, we'd still be under Voldemort's regime, hiding in our homes, hoping that we wouldn't be the next target. Because of these three, we were able to muster up our courage to do what we knew was right.
"I'd like to propose a toast to Harry Potter, Remus Lupin, and Severus Snape for their bravery, courage, and dedication. Wherever they are, I have faith that they will be able to defeat Voldemort in their world. May they save their own world, and then live long and prosperous lives. To Harry, Remus, and Snape!"
In another world, Harry Potter did not know that hundreds of glasses were being lifted in his honour, but he suddenly felt a pinprick of inexplicable gratitude inside of his chest. And he smiled.