Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR. Thank you so much for seven wonderful books!!! SPOILER ALERT – DO NOT READ THIS STORY IF YOU HAVE NOT READ DEATHLY HALLOWS!!!!!

Loyalty

Kreacher looked at his locket again and felt a swell of pride inside of him.

He had served both his masters well…the past and the present.

Harry Potter had fallen asleep in the Gryffindor dormitory (which was an awful mess). But, exhausted as he was, Harry Potter had not forgotten to thank Kreacher…to tell him that he was a credit to house elves and that, if Kreacher wished to be free, Harry Potter would not object.

"I can't ask you to do more than you did," Harry Potter yawned (the young master had finished off a half dozen sandwiches in the blink of an eye). "You were brilliant…just brilliant. If you want to be free, I'd say you deserve it. I have…a red jumper…new…"

And Harry Potter was asleep, glasses still on and the crumbs of the last sandwich on his mouth. Kreacher, hesitating (it had been a long time since he had had a master he did not hate), took the glasses from Harry Potter's face and placed them carefully on the small night table.

Kreacher had never worn glasses but he imagined that sleeping with them would not be very comfortable.

Without the glasses, Kreacher was surprised to see how young Harry Potter was. It reminded him of Regulus.

It was difficult to believe that this young wizard had triumphed. But he had…and Harry Potter had kept his promise to continue the work of Regulus Black, who had given himself up to the inferi (Kreacher still had nightmares) in the hopes of weakening the Dark Lord.

Kreacher then took the empty tray (Harry Potter had even cleaned up the crumbs – when had he eaten last?) and goblet and returned to the kitchen. The other house elves were celebrating and cooking delicacies in such quantities that Kreacher doubted anyone would be hungry for a week.

The appetizing smells reminded Kreacher of how much he loved cooking…the young muggleborn witch (it surprised him how quickly he had lost the habit of calling her a Mudblood) had once asked him how he made French onion soup saying that it was even better than her mother's.

And he had not even thought to complain about being compared to a Muggle.

Somehow, those things were no longer important.

Kreacher watched the house elves for a time but decided that, since the young master would not soon be needing anything other than his bed, he would return to his home…to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.

There was something he needed to do.

He made his way along the corridor and looked up at the portrait of Black's mother who was sleeping.

"Mistress Black," Kreacher called.

The portrait awoke and, looking down, assumed a disdainful expression.

"The Dark Lord has fallen, Mistress Black. Harry Potter has won," Kreacher said with a smile on his face.

The portrait looked horrified and began screeching about Mudbloods and blood traitors and house elf scum.

"The Death Eaters are no more, Mistress Black. The House of Black is no more. And now, you will be no more," Kreacher continued mercilessly.

The portrait stopped and a look of utter hatred and revulsion appeared on her face.

"You dare to speak to me, house elf?" she shouted. "You are less than scum. You are less than the dirtiest, filthiest Muggle wallowing on the face of the earth. You are nothing more than subservient cattle!"

"I am Kreacher and I belong to Harry Potter," Kreacher replied calmly.

"He is filth…a stain to be cleansed!" she shrieked.

"He is my master because I choose it. And you will no longer be welcome in his house," Kreacher smiled.

"His house?? Harry Potter's house??!! How dare you, lowest of filth! You dare threaten me…in my own house!!!"

The portrait began to scream obscenities at Kreacher but he said nothing in reply.

"You are no longer welcome in my master's house," Kreacher raised his hand.

The portrait began to laugh hysterically. "You think you can remove me, dirty house elf? You think that your insignificant magic can remove my portrait from my own home? You haven't the brains of a pickled Mandrake, house elf!!!"

But, when Kreacher snapped his fingers, all was suddenly quiet. He took a couple of steps closer to the portrait and saw that his former Mistress was frozen…with an expression of utter fury and loathing on her face.

Kreacher then chuckled and took the portrait down, resolving to leave it somewhere for the thief, Mundungus, to find. Kreacher knew Mundungus would not think twice about taking it.

Yes, Kreacher was a loyal house elf.

But no longer to the House of Black.