Chapter Fifteen: The Final Chapter
The blast of light ejected Harry in the blink of an eye back to his present time. He landed with a crash, for a few seconds, he feared that he was too late, but everything was still in tact, the artifact was blinking, but at the last minute, Harry dove for the artifact with incredible speed and reflections and yanked it from the wall, crashing down to the ground. He held onto the artifact, a smile appearing on his face as he clutched it in his hands, before he turned over, as the group around him looked pleased and Ginny rushed forward, wrapping her arms around him, before kissing him, a gesture that Harry eagerly returned, with a great deal of relief. He could only begin to guess how much longer he had before everything crumbled out from underneath him. They pulled apart, as other eyes were around them.
"Dumbledore's finished then," said Allison, who decided to speak what every one else was thinking and Harry reached into the pocket of his robes, before he pulled out a vial of ashes, before he held it out.
"This is what's left of him, he overdosed on the Elixir of Life," responded Harry.
"Impaled on his own sword then, the ironies of it all," said Jade with a smile as Lily looked forward.
"Dumbledore never looked better as far as I am concerned," remarked Lily, as she breathed a sigh of relief. James was on the road to recovery, her children were safe, and the man who haunted every waking moment in her life, with his followers looking around every corner was put to rest.
"I've known him for much longer and I would have to agree," said Riddle in a pained voice from the injuries, but the fact that Dumbledore was gone brought him some measure of relief. "Nothing has changed, has it?"
"No, everything remains as it is, as far as I can tell and any changes that might have happened are so small that it would be difficult to notice them," reported Ginny, as she leaned close to Harry, as he wrapped his arm around her.
"Doubt it will make a different, Dumbledore's followers will be heartbroken, but I know the perfect place where his remains can go," responded Riddle, as he took the vial of ashes from Harry. "I know of a nice veil in the Department of Mysteries, a perfect resting place for someone like Dumbledore. Perhaps you've come across it during your careers?"
"Yes, we have, something we know all too well," responded Harry, who decided it would be fitting that this version of Dumbledore would be thrown behind the veil for all eternity. He held up the artifact in his hands, it looked harmless, despite the potentially deadly chain reactions it was beginning to create. "Now, we'll going to see what can be done about this, because now that I've done my good deed for this dimension, it's time for us to see if we can undo what happened."
"I just hope we can," said Ginny, who thought about it and agreed with Harry, it would be best to just return home. No matter how many problems their world had back home, at least they were familiar ones.
"That thing was put through a lot, what makes you think you can get it working?" asked Allison.
"If anyone can, Harry can," said Ginny and Harry just tried to look modest, but he was grinning.
"We can sort this out at the Great Hall of Hogwarts, Dumbledore might still have followers lurking around, I'll meet you in five minutes after I dispose of some rubbish," said Riddle as he held up the vial, before a Portkey was created, to bring the group to Hogwarts, to get a bit closer of a look to whether or not the artifact could take them home. Harry wondered whether or not it would work, but he did not know how much longer he could live someone else's life. It was not his life and while his was far from perfect, it was the right thing to return to. Hopefully Dumbledore had not strained the artifact beyond all working, if not Harry did not know what to do.
Riddle had returned from the Department of Mysteries, before he came face to face with Mad Eye Moody, who stood in the corridor, staring down Riddle with slight contempt.
"Hello Riddle, I wonder what you're doing lurking around this part of the Ministry of Magic, especially considering when you're not entitled to be here in the first place," said Moody gruffly.
"I could ask the same thing about you, Moody, it is the long way from the Auror Department," responded Riddle, but Moody refused to be intimidated, as he looked back at Riddle, not taking his eyes off of the man. "Have you heard the good news…"
"Yeah, Potter was recovered, of course, he might not have been in that position if he would have exercised a bit of constant vigilance," growled Moody, as he looked at Riddle in a distrustful manner. "It is always good to see the good one's back in business, especially after they have been lead down a path towards something not in their best interests by others."
"Perhaps, but that is not the best news of the day," said Riddle and Moody became interested with that news. "Long story short, because I know I'm going to have quite a schedule but Dumbledore is finished, this time once and for all."
"Did you check to ensure the body was dead this time, Riddle?" asked Moody, who had been through this song and dance with Dumbledore being dead before and thus did not want to get his hopes up at all. "Did you burn it? Portkey the ashes into the sun? Double check to make sure it was not a duplicate?"
"Dumbledore's dead, he was reduced to ashes in a battle with an associate of mine," said Riddle, choosing his words carefully. "No, Moody, I know what you're going to say, and yes, I disposed of the remains."
"Do tell me that you did not just flush the ashes down a toilet or something utterly ridiculous where they can still be recovered by Dumbledore's Cult," responded Moody gruffly as he was careful not to take his eyes off of Riddle, even for a second.
"Naturally, I did not, I've learned my lesson, I've thrown them the one place where I know Dumbledore's little followers won't find them I…." stated Riddle but Moody silenced him with his wand immediately.
"Best not complete that sentence, Riddle, the walls can hear things on occasion," advised Moody roughly. "Given what you've said so far and where you've come from, I know enough where you might have disposed of him and I must commend you on your innovation. His followers will find it difficult to retrieve him in some ill fated attempt to resurrect him, not that won't try. And don't think for one second that it will be over just because Dumbledore has met his final fate. It is never over."
"Believe me, I know," said Riddle, as Moody still kept a watch on Riddle, as he slowly backed towards the door. The paranoid Auror did not take his eyes off of Riddle, until he had gone into the next corridor and even then he was keeping an eye on him as he walked. Riddle turned, ready to return to Hogwarts. As much as he wanted to celebrate the downfall of the old man, he knew better. Even though Dumbledore was dead, very few will believe it for a while, given the fact of what happened last time. Something told Riddle this was it, but he still felt as if he was going to have to look over his shoulder at every moment.
Still, Riddle knew what must be done to undo the damage of Dumbledore. Someone would have to take charge and force anyone who opposed Dumbledore down to the level they belonged. A red flicker appeared in Riddle's eyes, as he made plans for the future and the control that needed to be taken, the show of power that will be required to ensure his plans would come to pass.
"Anything yet?" asked Jade as she peaked over Harry's shoulder.
"A few more minutes at most before I can figure out if Dumbledore had not burned this thing completely up when he used it," responded Harry, as he looked at it, meticulously translating the Runes and the language, he was certain that he could find a clue to take him straight home. Ginny sat at his side, pointing at everything he missed.
"Harry, there's always a chance that it won't work," said Allison in a grim voice, obviously because she would never see her Harry ever again did this not work.
"And a chance that their minds and our bodies were destroyed in the accident," muttered Harry grimly.
"I'm sure we'll learn to adapt if you have to stay here," said Jade as she looked at Harry. She missed her brother, but this Harry was like him in many ways. There were a few times where it hit her that this was a different Harry.
"You've heard him, he doesn't want to stay here, he'll be miserable," said Allison as she looked at Harry, quite frankly, there were times where she did not know exactly what she wanted.
"Not a matter of what I want, but rather what has to be done and as I said, I have to assume that this thing is still workable," said Harry, as he was nearly done completing the translations. He spent a few more seconds checking over his work. "I might not have agreed with Dumbledore most of the time and I blame him for a lot, but a couple of things that he said did make sense. Leaving this world behind, no matter how flawed it is might not be the easy thing to do, but it is the right thing to do."
"Sometimes doing the right thing is absolutely wrong for everyone around you in the end, then it's no longer the right thing," argued Allison.
"In the end, we can't really judge what the right thing truly is," offered Lily, who had just walked in. She admired this Harry for his attempt to return home, when it would be just easy to smash the artifact and live in this world. He did not have to be this Boy-Who-Lived in this world, although she did admit that he would be in danger from Dumbledore's followers if word ever got out about the part he played in defeating the old man. She looked at Harry. "Hermione is a lost cause I'm afraid, removing whatever Dumbledore did to her would damage her brain permanently and live her a vegetable. She will be well cared for though, even though she might have to be sedated most of the time so she does not try and harm herself and others. Dumbledore and Molly Weasley really did a number on the poor girl."
"Who knows what happened to the others," said Jade and Harry just shrugged. "Ginny told me you and her were friends in the other world…"
"Yes we were, but she died a long time ago, a heroic sacrifice, even if she was in over her head," said Harry, as he double checked his translations again. "This Hermione, I don't know what she is, but the only similarity between the two is that they were rather driven, even though that's a stretch. This version took it to a horrific extreme."
"An accurate assessment if I ever heard one, Mr. Potter," said Riddle as he arrived. "So this is the end, I rarely offer this sentiment, but I appreciate your help in defeating Dumbledore."
"Given our past in the other world, I doubt you could even begin to appreciate how weird this is," commented Harry lightly and Riddle just nodded, a serious look on his face, as Harry poured over several pieces of parchment full of notes. He made a couple of final notes on the calibrations that would be needed and a small test would give him all of the information he needed. "Well, I think I've found out everything that we need."
"What's the final word?" asked Ginny anxious. "Can we go back?"
"Yes, but barely, Dumbledore really put this artifact through the ringer," said Harry with a sigh. "It will be a leap of faith to get us back, but thankfully we're both powerful enough to give what little magic remains in this artifact before it crumbles."
"So they others still exist then," said Jade.
"According to one of the Runes on the artifact, it can switch minds of individuals from different times and dimensions, so if it is calibrated properly, it can switch back again," said Harry as he looked at it. "A few adjustments and a bit of a start, and then we'll be on our way."
"And they will be back," responded Allison. This was a good thing on one account and a very bad thing on another account.
"Yes, they will, although I would sedate the other me immediately, if she's half as bad as you're hinting," commented Ginny.
"This is it, we have to leave, I don't know exactly how much time we have left before this thing crumbles to dust," remarked Harry with a frown, before he turned to the group. "So thank you and good luck, because defeating the leader is just one small step, the battle is not over. We're still feeling the effects of Lord Voldemort for some time."
"We know as well as anyone, Mr. Potter, and believe me, we will remove all traces of Dumbledore's influence," stated Riddle as Harry responded with a nod. "I know personally I won't rest until Albus Dumbledore's manipulations are something of the distant past."
"Given what I've seen, I have no doubts of it, Riddle," said Harry as he turned to the artifact, before Lily cleared her throat.
"We'll just get out of your way, thank you and good luck," said Lily.
"You're quite welcome and the next time you look into these eyes, the son you know will be staring back at you," said Harry as the group left, before they left, leaving Harry and Ginny alone together in the Great Hall. Harry turned to the artifact, looking at it, a moment of indecision.
"Having second thoughts Harry?" asked Ginny quietly. "Do you really want to go back?"
"It's not what I want, it's what has to be done," answered Harry, as he held her hand, as they both held their wands, touching them to the artifact. "Ready."
"Yes, I'm ready," said Ginny, as they were ready, both taking a deep breath, before they prepared to operate the artifact. They were at the point of no return now. Thinking about what happened, they would always remember, even if it was best not to remember.
Still the artifact was activated and the same light that consumed them the first time erupted them. The artifact struggled to hold itself together but it remained together just long enough to transport them back.
Seconds later, the artifact crumbled to dust, as the unconscious bodies of Harry and Ginny laid on the ground, their consciousness from this dimension just beginning to wake up.
"Ginny?" muttered Harry mentally.
"Mmm," responded Ginny in a dazed manner.
"I hope it worked," thought Harry.
"Where there is only one way to know so," commented Ginny lightly.
"Open our eyes and find out," suggested Harry as they did so. "Er Ginny, why do we have our wands at each other's throats."
"Guess our counterparts really didn't like each other," responded Ginny, as she sounded highly amused.
They withdrew their wands, as they were inside the chamber, the artifact that had sent them there had just crumbled into nothingness, as they looked in each other's eyes. They were back in the Department of Mysteries in their home dimensions before someone blasted open the office door.
"There you are!" shouted a voice in the corridor. "We thought we would never give in, we've been trying to break through for the last thirty minutes."
"Thirty minutes, we were out for only that long?" asked Ginny in surprise.
"One of the mysteries of inter-dimensional travel," commented Harry lightly.
"Yes, we tried to force the door open, what happened in there?" asked one of the Unspeakables.
"Reaction with an artifact we had, apparently it died down, it looks like we need to clean up this mess," said Harry, as he looked around. Whether or not this was from the reaction of the artifact or their counterparts dueling was in fact a mystery. The group outside nodded, before they went their separate ways, as Ginny turned to Harry.
"So, it worked, we're home," said Ginny as she breathed a sigh of relief.
"Yes, for better or for worse, we made it back in the end where we belong," concluded Harry, as they began to clear up the mess in the chamber in the Department of Mysteries.
And that's the end.