Chapter 48

Disclaimer: Just because I own copies of them, doesn't mean I own the originals.

0x0x0x0

"Potter! De Malebolge! Get up, we're headed to the Ministry now!" shouted Narcissa.

Harry looked down at Etna, who promptly nodded.

"How bad?" asked Harry, as he began casting cleaning charms and pulling on clean boxers.

"Middle of the night?" replied Etna. "This is very bad."

Harry nodded as he pulled on a shirt and began buttoning it as they went down the stairs to the floo.

"What's going on?" he asked.

"Harveste was attacked by Voldemort an hour ago," supplied Narcissa. "The only survivor was my niece, Nymphadora. Sirius is using family privilege to get all of us into her debriefing, and Dumbledore will likely be there as well. Knowing him, we'll be viewing it in his pensieve."

"Right," said Harry, before they all stepped through the floo into the Minister's office.

"Should we still be able to do that?" asked Etna, pointing at the Minister's floo grate.

The auror standing next to the fire place touched his wand to the marble around it, and iron spikes rose up into the flames.

"Well, never mind then," Etna commented with a smile. Another auror lead them to the elevator, and to the DMLE's offices. Harry spotted Elizabeth standing around with half a dozen others her age, all wearing red robes with orange striping on them. He guessed they were the other trainees. She gave him a quick nod as he entered, but kept her eye on the door. He noted she was the only one who did and smiled at that as they were lead into a conference room.

An auror that reminded Harry of Bellatrix was sitting in the room, along with two other aurors, Dumbledore, Alastor Moody, Cornelius Fudge, a white-robed healer, and Percy acting as a scribe. One of the aurors Harry recognized from the raid with Harveste, he seemed to be her second-in-command of sorts, the other he didn't. It took a second for him to realize that the Bellatrix lookalike was Tonks's natural form, which made him realize why she always looked so different. Dumbledore's pensieve dominated the center of the table. Harry could see it was currently empty.

"Hello, Tonks," said Narcissa, sitting down next to her.

"Narcissa," said Tonks. "Got everyone here?"

"Yes, we do."

"Where's Mum and Dad?"

"I've asked Remus to get them to Grimmauld," said Dumbledore. Narcissa winced at the awkwardness of that conversation, but pushed it to the back of her mind.

"Right," began Tonks. "We knew something was up when the music started. It echoed across the entire damn manor. It must have been their signal, because that's when the transit wards went up and they started ripping down the wards on the front gate."

"No way out the back?" asked Moody.

"Not really. David checked the rear, said there were two groups protecting ward teams outside the walls. Besides, you know how good Harveste's wards were. Can't get in or out less it's the front gate or the floo."

"Always told her to have a back way," grumbled Moody.

"Yeah," said Tonks. "We took up position on the windows for the Master Bedroom, and waited for the wards to fall. Travis, Connie, and Beatrice all took the front door. Stephen, Harveste's husband, took the 2nd floor landing. From there, well..." she looked at the pensieve. She touched her wand to her temple, and withdrew the silver threads of memory and dropped them into the bowl.

"You don't have to enter it," said Dumbledore.

"No. I need to. Need to see where I can do better next time," she said. Harry watched as her face become sharper, more angular as she steeled herself to enter the pensive.

"Then we'll have to project this. Everyone who doesn't wish to watch, I would recommend stepping from the room," said Dumbledore.

No one moved, beyond Fudge worrying the brim of his hat.

Dumbledore touched the side of the pensieve with his wand, and whispered a small chant. The room faded away, and they were all standing in what must have been Harveste's bedroom. A second Tonks stood at the window, wand out, with two other aurors and Harveste at three other windows. Everyone could hear the final climax of a horn-filled orchestra piece booming in their very bones.

"Mars, Bringer of War by Gustav Holst," supplied Dumbledore. "I always preferred Jupiter, Bringer of Joy, myself." They all stepped to the windows, and watched as the front gates came crashing down. A lone figured stepped onto the path up to the manor as everyone recognized Ride of the Valkyries.

"Voldemort," said Harveste. "On three." As Harveste counted, all of them began wand motions, Tonks's the most complex. Each of them shouted a different spell, although Harry only recognized the blasting and the bone-breaking curses. He watched as Voldemort swatted them aside with nary a thought, his wand likewise in motion. Harry watched the motions, and everyone flinched as a flash of light caused the Auror closest to the Tonks at the window to explode backward in a shower of burnt flesh. The healer shot a spell at Cornelius that probably prevented from retching his guts out. Still, he looked very green. They watched as Harveste cast the first killing curse of the fight. Tonks cast a curse through the open door, hitting another doorway, before closing and locking the bedroom door with another charm. The other remaining auror took station on the wall, casting a separate locking charm.

None of them could hear very much over the strings and horns of Ride of the Valkyries, but it was obvious when Tonks's curse went off. The other Auror looked hopeful, until the wall exploded where he was standing, killing him instantly.

Harry never looked away as Voldemort stepped into the room, his wand waving like a mad conductor, deflecting and shielding spells from both Tonks and Harveste even as he cast his own responses. He rarely moved, preferring to stand his ground and let his raw power and skill do what Tonks had to accomplish by agility. Even still, Harry could see that he was toying with both of them, leading them on almost in time to the music. It almost seemed a game to him, and they could all see the twisted smirk on his face as the Ride of the Valkyries reached its climax, and he disabled Tonks, sticking her to the wall.

They watched the anti-climactic duel between Voldemort and Harveste, his insults to her, and her eventual demise. The memory ended after Voldemort tipped his hat to them all.

The projection faded away, and they were back in the conference room. Fudge dropped into a chair, looking particularly green as the healer handed him a potion.

"The pedestrian insult," asked Etna. "Who was that aimed at?"

"Myself," said Dumbledore. "I find it refreshing to banter with him during our duels, and insulting his heritage was always my preferred method of distracting him. I suspect the sectumsempra at the end was, as well."

"Might help," said Etna to Harry.

Harry grunted in acknowledgement as he stared at the pensieve.

"He was showing off," began Harry, "but he was only toying with you and Harveste. He didn't like to move, but there wasn't much space in that room to begin with." He looked at Tonks. "Can you give me a copy of the memory, just the fight?"

"Why? Planning on picking a fight with him?" asked a sarcastic Tonks.

"Don't have much of a choice," said Harry, frowning at the pensieve. "Albus, I think Etna and I'll need access to Hogwarts. Probably Alessa, too."

"It will be done, Harry," said Albus.

"You can't be serious," said Fudge.

Harry merely nodded.

"Harry, Etna, let's get back to the house. Is my cousin free to go?"

"Aye, she is," said Moody. "Leave the memory for now, Lass. We'll look it over a few more times and I'll get it back.

"Right. Come on then."

"Harry," came Elizabeth's voice. It easily carried over the nervous chatter in the room.

"Hang on, Sirius," said Harry, walking over to Elizabeth.

"What's going on?"

"Voldemort personally killed Harveste," said Harry. "He left Tonks as a witness."

"Any takers for director?"

"Fudge, Albus, Narcissa, and Moody are in there. Maybe they'll figure out something," said Harry. "No idea, though."

Elizabeth nodded, before going back to the rest of the cadets to spread the news. Harry and Etna left the Ministry through the Atrium, returning to Grimmauld Place.

With that, they collapsed back into bed, waiting for news of what was going to happen.

0x0x0x0

Even with the late night, Harry was up early. Libby was waiting for him in the kitchen before he could make any sort of breakfast.

"Mistress says that Mister Potter Sir and everyone in Grim Old Place is to join Mistress for breakfast at the Manor."

"Right then," said Harry. "Which breakfast room?"

"The green breakfast hall, Sir."

"Thank you, Libby. I'll get the others and we'll be over soon."

Libby disappeared with a pop. Harry went back back upstairs to wake up Etna and Sirius.

0x0x0x0

"Narcissa... why is there a stuffed penguin next to you?" asked Tonks at breakfast.

"This is Alessa," said Narcissa. "She was damned by the actions of Voldemort, and is here to repent for her sins."

"Hi, dood," said Alessa, waving a flipper at Tonks, before going back to her breakfast.

The rest of breakfast was slightly awkward, with very little cross-conversation, although Narcissa was animatedly talking with her sister, while Sirius was slamming back coffee like it was a lifeline. Harry and Etna were filling Tonks in on the prophecy, and why it would have to be Harry that fought Voldemort.

"Right then," said Tonks. "Dumbledore's letting you into the castle, right? I'm joining you. You need training, and I'm sure Moody'll let it happen."

"Moody?" asked Harry.

"Fudge, Dumbledore, and Narcissa convinced him to take the DMLE. Gawain Robards is Head Auror now."

"Moody doesn't seem like an administrator," commented Etna.

"He isn't," said Dumbledore, stepping into the hall and taking a seat next to Harry. "Gawain and Percy will be taking most of that responsibility. Alastor will be focusing on training and tactics over administration. Also, I imagine, surviving in the position."

"Morning Albus," said Harry to Tonks's surprise.

"Good morning, Harry," said Albus as he took a seat. "My office floo should be open to Grimmauld Place, now."

"When does Hermione have patrols?"

"Tuesdays and Thursdays," replied Albus.

"Then we'll start with Monday, Wednesday, Friday."

"Might be a good idea to try your wand," added Etna.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Harry, if I used any other wand, I'd be on par with a 2nd year. I've got as much power as I do because the King delved to the bottom of my wand."

"Really? How long did that take?"

"An afternoon," said Etna.

Harry blanched.

"He's the Overlord for a reason," continued Etna.

"What's this about wands, kings and overlords?" asked Tonks.

"You'll see," said Etna.

Harry gave Etna a questioning look. She smirked in response, and Harry shrugged.

Tonks eyed them carefully, mildly disturbed by their silent conversation.

0x0x0x0

"Harry!" shouted Hermione, lifting Harry off the ground with a bone-crushing hug.

Luna followed Hermione into the Room of Requirement at a more sedate pace, with Ron, Susan, Neville, Ginny, and Draco bringing up the rear.

"It's only been two days, Hermione," said Harry.

"Yes, but there's been so much going on..."

"I know," said Harry. "You all know Tonks. She's going to be teaching some of the nastier spells. Then we're going to do something a bit dangerous and stupid."

"And what's that?" asked Luna.

"Item world," said Harry, holding up his wand.

"Ah," said Luna. "That is a bit dangerous and stupid. Understandable, though."

"We'll take turns with each one, then?" asked Hermione.

"We'll also work on your bow and staff," said Etna. "Those will be last, though."

"Will someone please explain what's going on?" asked Tonks.

"Sure. We'll start with the basics. I'm a demon."

"I know you're evil, de Malebolge, but that doesn't... mean..." trailed off Tonks as Etna removed the glamors covering her ears, wings, and tail. "Right. Demon. Why?"

"Hermione, Ron, and I summoned her last summer to kill Voldemort," said Harry.

"Shit," replied Tonks. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?"

"I provided the summoning ritual," said Luna.

"Oh... well, I guess that's slightly less dangerous," said Tonks, rolling her eyes.

"I am perfectly dangerous," said Etna, nose in the air. "Besides, that's not the only bit. Harry?"

Harry dropped his glamor, and revealed his pointed ears.

"You mean..." trailed off Tonks. "Oh, shit."

"The major points are higher spell resistance and nigh-limitless potential," said Etna. "With the major drawbacks being everybody's terrified of you, people can summon you and bind you to their will if they're skilled and/or dumb enough, and if it's done wrong you'll lose your conscience and maybe your soul."

"Maybe?" asked Hermione.

"Well, I showed you the right way," said Etna.

"Can we please stop talking about things that are probably illegal, and get back to teaching you some of the spells that'll help you with You-Know-Who?"

"Voldemort," said Harry, making Tonks flinch.

"You didn't duel him. I've got the right," said Tonks.

"I have dueled him. I lucked out and ran away. I still call him Voldemort."

"No you... wait... at the end of the Third Task?"

Harry nodded.

"Right then."

"Start with nasty and esoteric, and we'll go from there," said Etna.

"Fine, we'll start with the transfiguration for white phosphorous," began Tonks.

"Wait, white phosphorous?" asked Hermione. "As in the muggle incendiary?"

Tonks nodded.

"According to mum, Grandpa Cygnus lived through the Blitz, and went to both Korea and Vietnam to see how muggles killed each other. Or he just wanted to see muggles die. She wasn't really specific on that. I think it's also because being a pyro runs in the family. He also made a thermite conjuration and a modification of the aguamenti spell that sprays napalm."

"Tonks, you're my new best friend," said Etna, glee on her face.

0x0x0x0

Harry wasn't sure why he agreed to entering his own wand via the Item World, but was more than certain this was a bad idea.

It felt distinctly odd to not carry his wand. It was something he always carried, and now it was something he wasn't carrying at all. He felt... naked, for lack of a better description. He just had his fists, and what magic he could cast without his wand. He was tempted to cast his blood wolf, but he held off, at least for now.

Hermione's and Luna's were both out, Etna was only carrying her spear. Tonks and Alessa both stood at the back of the group. Alessa was afraid, but she was holding her knives in front of her. Tonks's wand was out, ready for anything.

"Anything" turned out to be Hermione shouting "Ent!", her wand sending a stream of naplam at a massive creature, followed by the thermite conjuration. The creature went up with a roar, both its body bursting into flames, and its own roar of pain. A creature of pure fire, Luna called it an efreet, came along next to it, and began a duel of the elements with Luna. Flashes of flame and spears of ice were exchange between the two of them. Tonks and Alessa teamed up to deal with a pair of shambling zombies. Alessa made short work of one, hacking off its arms, before it spat ichor all over her. Tonks sent a cleaning charm at her, between dismembering curses.

Harry watched as a white dog crested a hill, held aloft by glowing wings.

"Holy dragon," supplied Etna, tightening her grip on her spear. "Don't bother with elemental attacks. It's immune."

"Right," said Harry.

It swooped down, attempting to bite or claw Harry. He leapt out of the way, Etna's spear piercing its side. Harry jumped it, smashing his fist into the back of its head. It collapsed, dead. Harry stepped back, looking at the deceased creature.

"It's always weird to kill something... beautiful."

"Trust me, it wouldn't have left you beautiful. Come on," said Etna. They watched as Luna finished off the efreet, while Hermione turned the ent she was fighting into a veritable bonfire.

"At least there's no dragons," commented Harry, as they completed the floor, and fell to the next one.

There was a familiar roar, and Etna smacked Harry in the back of his head.

0x0x0x0

Tonks and Alessa collapsed into a heap once they left the item world.

"How the fuck do you do that?"

"There's children present," called out Hermione.

"Alessa, cover your ears."

Alessa's flippers slapped over the sides of her head.

"Skull-buggering douchenuggets, how the bloody fuck do you manage to pull that shit off?"

"We can go again, if you want," said Etna.

Tonks flipped off Etna.

Harry reached down to the center of the circle and picked up his wand. He gave it a wave.

"How does it feel?" asked Etna.

"Much... better? Easier?"

"Good. We're going to go round-robin. We're saving Hermione's for last."

"What's so bad about Hermione's?" asked Alessa.

"Dragons," said Harry. "Lots of dragons."

Tonks and Alessa shuddered in understanding.

0x0x0x0

Voldemort read the morning paper, making note of the confirmation of Alastor Moody as the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Interesting, but not something he was overly concerned about. He'd have to get a mole in the department to find out who was actually running it. Moody was an excellent fighter and tactician, but he wasn't an administrator. Gawain Robards? The name didn't strike any bells in Voldemort's mind. He'd have to speak with Macnair about it.

He put the paper away, and then checked his lab.

Everything was going according to plan. The growth serums were working as they should. His latest pet was on schedule. Really, he shouldn't keep to his joy of dates, but he couldn't help it. It was symbolic, after all. One couldn't avoid that.

Potter defeated him on All Hallow's Eve. He would kill Potter on All Hallow's Eve.

It was happy coincidence, and he knew the people would be all the more terrified by it. Who was he to say no?

Author's Notes: So this is late. Because I'm awesome at keeping a schedule. I'm taking a vacation from work, because I'm working at a place that gives me vacation time and I remembered the fact that the last time I took a vacation (even if it was unpaid) was back in 2007. So this week might be late as well, since I get easily distracted (There's a reason I write on the train to and from work).

So we'll see how well I do for next week. By the way, OSTs for Final Fantasy? Awesome. Distant World collection? Awesomer. Full Orchestral Version of One-Winged Angel? Awesomest.

Anyways... So Alessa is back. I have a good idea as to how she'll be worked into the ending. It should be awesome and hilarious, depending on how well I write it. And we're definitely approaching the ending, if Voldemort's bit wasn't a gigantic hint. A number of you have figured out what he's growing, but none of you have figured out just what he's doing with it. Which amuses me greatly.