The herald on the walls broke the silence as dawn rose over the city of Gryffindor.

"Lord Harry of the Hallow has returned!"

His cry was first alone and echoed only by the distant mountains. Then another herald repeated the call. Then another. The guards on the castle keep echoed the news. It raced along the streets, over the bridges and into even the cesspits and mines under the streets. Guards and nobles, merchants and farmers, serfs and craftsmen; everyone who could hear took up the cry

"Lord Harry of the Hallow has returned!"

The boy prince had long left the city on a quest against the dark Sorcerer DeMorte and had vanished for a year. The city had been besieged by the sorcerer's armies, but Sir Longbottom of the Toad had led the Order of the White Bee to astonishing victories. The guards still had their weapons ready that morning, fearing a last attack that would destroy all hope, but instead of the dark lord's armies, it was their ruler.

Prince he was, but not for long. The crown had been lost when DeMorte and King James killed each other at Godric when Harry was in the cradle. DeMorte, having found a way to restore himself to life, had plans of seizing the empty throne, having the grand vizier Severus murder the White Wizard that had acted as regent. However, it did nothing but inspire the prince and his two companions,

The long night had been over at last, and a growing crowd of cheering citizens poured into the streets and clamored at the gate to let in their new ruler.

"Hail Harry! The House of the Hallows has returned!" they took up the chant

Prince Harry did not lead an army or even a party of elite guardsmen, but only two young riders and lifelong companions of the prince. On his right was Duke Ronald, the youngest son of Baron Arthur, the current head of the house of the Weasel (a poor but loyal family that adopted Harry when he was a small child). Ronald, all the people knew, was Harry's most loyal friend and a tall, handsome, and courageous man. On his left was the fair Duchess Hermione. She had been born of a peasant family, but had shown such ability in leadership and intellect that she was accepted into the high court. She was not as radiant, most men thought, as Harry's fiancé and Ron's sister Ginevra, but still beautiful and attired in splendor. Like Ronald, she had a strong temper and iron will, and was loyal to the death to Harry.

It was Harry that the crowds loved the most, the one they loved, the one they put all their faith in. He was their savior, their commander, and now, their king.

Harry himself was resplendent as he rode down the streets. He was only a boy, but he was dressed in his father's fine robes, the royal diadem on his brow, and holding the standard of Gryffindor with one hand while steering his magnificent ivory steed with the other. Some sensed a feeling of fatigue on the boy-prince, but whatever exhaustion he had was overcome by the incredible sense of relief his posture reflected.

The people threw flowers in the path of the three horses, cheering and trying to touch the hero and his companions. About halfway to the castle, an armored squadron of knights marched out to meet the prince. Their armor was stained and pitted, but they carried the flags of Gryffindor and the Order of the White Bee proudly. Their leader raised his visor, revealing a round, pale, but sweaty face beaming at the prince.

"Sir Neville! It is a relief to see you drawing breath" Harry smiled at him

"Your majesty! I knew you would return. The Lady Ginevra is in the midst of preparing a wonderful banquet in your honor. Luna of the tower sent us tidings of your return, and Queen Chang has called the city of Ravenclaw into celebration. Mere words cannot express how wonderful it is to see the three of you safe and to hear of the DeMort's defeat" And with that, he dismounted, motioning to the others to dismount, and caught the three heroes in warm embraces. As he took off his helmet, Duchess Hermione gasped.

On Sir Neville's face, just below auburn hair, several scars crisscrossed his forehead and cheeks.

"Milady, do not worry. They were tokens from Lord DeMort himself as he led his last assault. I struck down his banner and smote Sir LeStrange, and even threw him from his mount. Alas, he overcame me and nearly slew me before he and his army turned around and fled the field of battle. Your doing, I suppose."

"Indeed, but we shall discuss it in court" Her look of anxiety gave way to a warm smile. Harry noticed Duke Ronald look at the duchess nervously. The prince knew of their affection toward each other and of Ronald's inability to express himself well enough to court her.

His thoughts were interrupted by a red-haired maiden that flung herself in his arms and embraced him ferociously. Ronald stalked off to the castle, this being the last straw for him. Harry didn't notice or care, but only had eyes for Princess Ginevra. Everyone knew they would be married in a matter of months.

Duchess Hermione, however, noticed Ronald storm into the castle in a rage. She knew he was protective about his sister, but there was also look of jealousy around him. She glanced at the knight beside her. Her agile mind worked its magic and her situation became clear: two of her most loyal friends looked to court her. This worry gnawed at her like a worm as she walked into the castle, the cheers of the crowd seeming very distant as if in a dream.