Chapter 16: Dresden Goes Home

I blinked my eyes and stared at Fawkes blearily. Okay, I take it back, this form of travel was worse than the portkey.....hands down!

Fawkes gives me a polite trill, apparently inquiring if I was okay. When things steady enough for me to take a nearby seat, I glare at him.

"You guys sure know how to travel," I say sarcastically.

The Phoenix sort of chortles in his least it sounded like that....obviously amused. I sigh and shake my head while he simply turns away and begins to preen those brilliant feathers of his.

Now that I could just sit still, I can feel all the hurts I'd received in that incredibly swift battle and how tired I am. I used a great deal of energy and felt like a limp rag because of it. Amazingly, I think the whole scrimmage lasted only thirty minutes from the minute we arrived at the ministry until I put an end to that monstrosity.

Not bad! And, more importantly, I don't think we lost anyone, though, I won't know for certain until Dumbledore gets back which I hope will be soon. I want to know just how many of those death eaters bit the dust and how many poor Harry and the order were still going to have to track down and finish off.

At least he won't have to worry so much about the head cheese an ugly sucker he was. Coming back from the dead did him no favors in the looks department. I'm glad I was able to keep Sirius from taking one in the back by that crazy bitch, too. Harry would have been so devastated to lose him and he'd already lost enough in his life.

Suddenly a bright light blinded me for a moment and when my vision cleared moments later, I was happy to see my troops as well as Dumbledore standing there in the center of his office.

"Welcome back, all!" I said laconically, not getting up from my seat.

Harry gave me a tired but pleased grin. He came over to me and leaned down to give me a hard hug. Straightening, he said loud enough for all to hear, "thank you. We couldn't have done it without your help and no one was seriously hurt or killed. And a special thanks for saving Sirius.....just that alone I can never thank you enough."

"Hey kid, you're the ones who did all the work. You've made me proud. As for your Godfather......" I shrugged my shoulders, "....really I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time."

"Still, I'm eternally grateful." I just smiled self consciously as Harry stepped back to stand with his friends.

"You have my utmost gratitude as well Mr. Dresden. The success of the mission was because of your diligent training of my students. If ever you need my help in the future, please don't hesitate to call on me," Dumbledore said warmly, coming close to give me a firm handshake and a wink.

"You're welcome, sir," I said getting embarrassed by all the attention so I changed the subject before it could get too mushy. "So, how many death eaters did we take out permanently?"

"Ahh, well we were able to determine only two had actually died. Voldemort and Rodolphus Lestrange. Bellatrix Lestrange's back is broken and there is some doubt she will recover much movement. As for the others, they are presently awaiting trial. Unfortunately, Lucius Malfoy and Antonin Dolohov managed to escape.

I frowned at that....from what I'd heard about those two, they could cause a lot of trouble all on their own without their boss. Malfoy was more of a sophisticate so might not get any further involved unless it served his own purposes, however, Dolohov was said to be a sadist and murderer many times over. He, I wished had been one of the casualties. I didn't like the thought of that creep still out there. He would cause trouble, I was certain.

Oh well, not my problem! I had to go home. I'd done what I came here to do and I couldn't risk getting any more deeply involved. I was incredibly lucky not to have been detected being here in the first place by the White Council. I certainly didn't want to push my luck any further.

I pushed myself reluctantly from my seat and stood up, swaying only a little. "I wish those two hadn't managed to get away but hopefully, you guys will be able to track them down soon. I wouldn't recommend allowing them time to regroup."

"You are right, of course, Mr. Dresden. I take it you are preparing to return to America?" Dumbledore asked politely.

"Yeah.....I'd better skedaddle......don't want to wear out my welcome......"

".....nor get caught by the White Council," a voice drawled from near the door.

We all turned to see Professor Snape standing there. He looked a bit disheveled. I hadn't seen him at the battle so how come he looked like he'd been fighting? I could see a rather livid cut across one cheek.

"What have you been doing Professor?" I asked archly.

Snape smirked. "While all of you were fighting the Dark Lord, I house, as it were."

My eyebrows raised at that......did he mean....? "Dare I hope you're saying you took out a nest of death eaters that didn't go to the party at the ministry?" I asked.

The pleased look curved into a brief cruel smile that almost made him look handsome before settling back into his normally bland expression. "A perfect description of what we did, Mr. Dresden. When word reached my location that Voldemort was no more, I and four aurors who were hiding until I could signal them, took out fifteen death eaters that were waiting word to rejoin the Dark Lord in his triumph. We caught them completely by surprise!"

I gave him a cold smile. "Great work! Means there are fewer to ferret out now."

"That is very good news, Severus. We will have to hold a meeting of the order in a few days to exchange notes and make plans to find all the other nests of these vipers," Dumbledore said, his smile cold, the twinkle in his eyes temporarily missing. The expression sent shivers through the students who had not seen this side of their Headmaster before. Moments later the twinkle returned to his eyes as he turned to give his students a much warmer smile.

"All of you have done a wonderful job but now it's time for you to get your rest. Unfortunately, the OWLs still need to be taken though in concession for the uproar that is going to occur tomorrow when the rest of the school learns of the Dark Lords death, I think we will wait one more day before beginning the tests again."

The kids groaned but shrugged in resignation. It wasn't totally bad news at least. With some last farewells and slaps on backs to each other, the students filed out of the office to head for their dorms.

Harry paused at the door to ask, "Dresden will you stay long enough to say farewell to everyone?"

I sighed and stared at him for a long moment. "Alright, one more day and that's all. I really do have to leave, Harry."

"I understand, sir. Since we'll get a break tomorrow, I'll gather everyone and see you tomorrow after lunch."

"Okay, that will do I guess. See you then."

He gave me a broad smile before ducking out the door leaving me alone with Snape and Dumbledore.

"I know you must be very tired, Mr. Dresden. That was a great deal of energy you expended today. Do you have any injuries that need tending?" Dumbledore asked politely.

"Nothing I can't tend myself, sir. Thank you! I think I'll just slip back into the room of requirement and get some food and rest. I'll leave immediately after the kids see me."

Dumbledore gave me a nod. "Then I bid you a restful night and a safe trip home.....and again, thank you for all you've done for us."

"You're welcome," I said nodding back then turning to make for the door myself. Just as I reached for the handle, Snape stopped me to shake my hand. I gave him a surprised look.

"I too wish to convey my thanks as well. I can look forward to a more normal life now that my skills as a spy are no longer needed," he said sincerely.

I realized at that moment, Snape's life had to have been hell.....always worrying about being discovered by that paranoid creep and being forced to play two parts for years. I was glad to have helped free him at last.

"Make the most of it and might I suggest you take up just potions and leave the teaching to others. You really suck at it!"

Instead of being angry at me for my less than charitable comment, he actually grinned again and said, "believe me when I say that I welcome the change. I have never desired to be a teacher in the first place. It was just a cover position for me. Potions is my life and I'm looking forward to returning to it full time."

I returned his smile then left the two alone as I invoked my disillusionment charm to hide myself and made my way back to my hideaway. I was looking forward to a large steak, a cold glass of ale and a hot shower.

Surprisingly, I slept well and deep which helped recoup my depleted energies somewhat. I was up and enjoying a fantastic lunch when the kids began to trickle in a few at a time.

They were beaming and in high spirits. I finished my lunch while listening to all the gossip about what was said and done during breakfast and lunch that day. Not surprisingly, Slytherin House didn't believe their beloved leader was dead but the rest of Hogwarts was ecstatic and celebrating their new freedom.

When no more students came in, I frowned in concern. I could see there were at least five missing.

"So what happened to some of you?" I asked.

"Oh, nothing too bad, some breaks and severe bruises but they do have to stay in the hospital wing for a few days," Hermione reassured him, smiling.

I sighed in relief. "Okay guys, gather round." The kids stopped talking but not smiling as they surrounded him.

"First, I want to tell you how very proud I am. You all handled yourselves well and a very bad enemy has been destroyed. Give yourselves a big pat on the back for that," I told them smiling then went on in a more serious vein. "Secondly, those with guns....I want you to keep them locked in your trunks. They should only be taken out when you are faced by a serious danger and for no other reason. Third, continue to improve your wizarding skills, pay close attention in your more goofing off, keep your bodies in good shape and continue to train in other forms of combat. As you've seen, unconventional ways of fighting give you an edge over your enemies. Relying too heavily on your magic and wands is far too great a weakness among the British wizards and worse, underestimating the skills and cunning of non-wizards is a receipe for future disaster."

This was very important. Wizarding Britain's arrogance and feelings of superiority would be their downfall when the rest of the world found out about them. "Non-magical people are fast out breeding our kind and their technology will eventually discover you. Their knowledge of diseases that could kill and weapons of mass destruction are far greater than your spells in ways you can't begin to imagine. So for the fourth thing, you need to go and explore that other world before it comes in and finds you. Then you'll be able to plan accordingly and protect your society," I stressed seriously.

The kids all stared at me with solemn eyes. The time we'd spent together had opened their eyes to how much they didn't know about the world outside their insular one. I think they will not be making the mistake of their elders that muggles are harmless.

"Thank you, Dresden. We will heed your words. It is obvious our elders were very wrong to ignore the muggle world and it could come back to destroy us all if we're not vigilant," Harry said gravely. "On a happier note, I hope one day to be able to visit you in America.....if I'm welcome....that is?"

I smiled broadly at him. "You'll always be welcome at my home, Harry." He grinned back at me.

As if that were a signal, the kids each said their farewells and wished me well then departed the room for other pursuits. The small group that had gone with me into the ministry, gathered close and gave me a group hug before stepping back to allow me to gather my stuff and prepare to jump through the portrait I'd called for earlier.

"Good luck guys and take care," I said in parting. They grinned and waved farewell as I called out, "Chicago, Illinois, USA" then jumped through the portrait. I looked back a moment and smiled at all the grinning faces before the image disappeared.

Sighing, I dropped my stuff on the couch. Bob made a complaint and I fished him out of his carry sack. He poured out of the skull and stood before me.

"Great job, Harry!"

"Thanks Bob! I thought so too." I went to the kitchen and fished out a cold coke from my ice box then returned to sit down. It was good to be home.


Life for me got back to normal and to my relief, no one ever learned of my part in ending a war overseas.

Bob made a point of visiting Hogwarts whenever I let him out. He would bring back tidbits of gossip, letting me know how my students were doing.

They were doing well in school and none but Harry had run into problems since my departure. I sighed. Why couldn't that poor kid ever catch a break? But Bob was quick to reassure me that Harry was well able to handle what came his way now.

Draco Malfoy tried to get revenge for his father being captured and sent to Azkaban by laying a trap for Harry one evening. Unfortunately for him, the trap backfired and it was he who was injured and humiliated.

I was told the boy he attempted to curse Potter but Harry swiftly gave Draco a Karate chop to the wrist holding the wand, breaking it, leaving him screaming in pain. The young Slytherin has since left Harry alone but I know such hatred will find an outlet again soon enough but felt confident my protégé could handle it.

As for Dolohov, surprisingly it was Neville who took that evil bastard out. He had been visiting his grandmother and had the foresight to take along his gun. Dolohov broke into the house and tried to take Neville hostage but the boy managed to break away then fired point blank at the man, blowing his chest out. His grandmother was shocked he had used a muggle weapon rather than his wand but gradually she approved of his methods since it showed her grandson could at last take care of himself.

The other kids found using methods other than magic to be fun and very handy in many altercations with Death Eaters.

Yes, those suckers were still around, but there were fewer and fewer of them. Hopefully by years end they will all be either dead or in jail. One could hope. One other piece of good news I received was that bitch, Umbridge had been prosecuted for abusing her authority and torturing students and was sent to Azkaban.

Harry sent me a message a month ago saying he was loving living with his God father. He never had to go back to his nasty relatives again. I was very happy for him.

Dumbledore dropped in on me about six months after my return and spent a pleasant afternoon going on a tour of my haunts with me. He especially enjoyed visiting McAnally's, eating a steak sandwich and drinking one of Mac's microbrews.

I gotta say, he might be one powerful wizard but he's really a likable long as you don't cross him and I plan on never doing that in my lifetime.