A/N: Last chapter!! XD
Playing at Life
Before anything else in the way of greeting could be said, a blonde woman scampered forward with a too-happy smile on her face. "Forgive me, Majesty, Lords," she said, performing a quick curtsey, "but we really must know if the rumours are true."
"What rumours?" Harry asked, pulling off confused rather well.
"Why, about the prophecy concerning yourself and You-Know-Who, Mr Potter," she said, eyes wide. "You are the Chosen One, are you not?"
Before Harry could answer, another voice said, "Of course he is." Everyone turned to stare in shock and horror as Lord Voldemort stepped into the circle of on-lookers. "But not for much longer. Avada Kedavra!"
Harry gasped as Kaizer shoved them both to the ground. "Why does this always happen to me?" the teen complained.
Kaizer grinned. "Because life wouldn't be any fun otherwise."
"Oh, piss off," Harry snapped back.
Both of them got back up to their feet and joined the aurors, Sirius and the other two members of the royal party in shooting off curses at Voldemort and the Death Eaters who'd been hiding in the crowd. Ministry employees and reporters ran everywhere, screaming their heads off.
"They're going to get slaughtered," Harry whispered, shooting a shield spell at a woman who didn't see a curse headed for her back.
"There's nothing you can do," Rögnvaldr said, blocking a curse aimed at Perdita. "Trust me."
Harry looked briefly at his best friend's older face, then nodded. "Any chance the Headmaster's going to show up?" he asked, taking down a few Death Eaters with some stunners. It's not like he could use much else, considering he was supposed to be 'Light'.
"He's a bit held up," Kaizer offered drily.
Another body joined their circle and shot off a jet of sickly green light at a Death Eater with was halfway through the incantation to do the same. "We're under wartime laws," Scrimgeour commented when Sirius looked at him in shock. "Killing Curse is legal."
"In that case," Kaizer said, then shot off three of the Unforgivables in a row, taking down three more Death Eaters that were aiming at a group of reporters who'd trapped themselves in a corner. "Harry, can you get to that group?"
Harry considered the distance between their party in the middle of the floor and the group of reporters. "Sirius, come on," he ordered, then broke away and hurried towards the group, blocking a few stray curses that came his way while Sirius followed and Kaizer and Rögnvaldr shot a barrage of curses at Voldemort to keep the man busy.
Once they were standing over the terrified group, Harry and Sirius worked together to throw up a complex shield spell before turning to them. "Why are you lot just standing here?" Harry snapped.
"Cowards, the lot of them," Sirius offered cheerfully, then shot a few spells out at an approaching Death Eater.
"We should just leave you to die," Harry told them, disgusted with the terrified looks most of them were wearing. "Honestly. If I can fight them, you can fight them."
"But, the prophecy–" one of them stammered.
"I've only just finished my fifth year, moron. What do you think I can really do against a bunch of trained Death Eaters? Hit them with expelliarmus and hope they don't get back up?" Harry demanded, then turned to shoot off a few stunners. "Prophecies only tell of a possible future, not a certain one. There's nothing saying that I'll defeat Voldemort, only that I have the ability to do it."
That seemed to get through to a few of them, at least, because Harry and Sirius weren't the only ones shooting off stunners anymore. Slowly, the number of stunners grew until Harry was pretty sure there wasn't anyone left on the ground.
Harry let his own spellcasting lull and looked over at where his older self, his friends and Scrimgeour were standing. Two Killing Curses came from their circle every few minutes while Rögnvaldr and Perdita kept up a shield and blocked any incoming Killing Curses with conjured odds and ends. On the far side of the welcoming area, the aurors were against another wall and keeping up a shield similar to what Harry's group had. They, too, were shooting off the occasional Killing Curse while some members blocked return fire and others shot stunners and other Light spells.
Harry watched the Death Eaters' number dwindle and wondered how much longer Voldemort and his troops would last. Almost as he finished the thought, a spell Harry didn't know made his and Sirius' shield shatter and the teen found himself facing Voldemort himself, who was already halfway through the Killing Curse.
"Harry!" Sirius shouted, but he was too far away from his godson to protect him, and Kaizer was even farther away.
As the spell left Voldemort's wand, one of the reporters jumped forward, catching the spell in the back. Harry stared at her as the life left her eyes behind jewelled spectacles and she fell to the ground in front of him.
Harry didn't even have to think as he returned the forbidden spell, baring his teeth when Voldemort blocked it with a smile.
"Harry Potter, using the Killing Curse?" Voldemort said tauntingly.
Harry smiled back, which seemed to confuse Voldemort for a moment, then cast the Skin Sheering Curse, which was almost as illegal as the Killing Curse.
Then their battle really started, Harry and Voldemort trading nasty curse after nasty curse, without caring that what they were casting was illegal and that they had half the auror corps there as witness. (Of course, Voldemort had never cared about witnesses, but Harry probably should have.) And, of course, with that battle having started, everyone else stopped their own spells and simply stood back to watch. Even Sirius was forced to do no more than watch, as the reporters were in his way.
The only man in the room not simply watching the duel was Lord Kaizer. He'd already fought this fight once, and he knew it had to end by Harry's wand, but he also knew that Harry wouldn't be able to get a spell in unless something distracted Voldemort.
Kaizer was watching close enough that he saw Harry's eyes dart towards him and held up three fingers in response to the silent question. Harry nodded and counted down in his head. At three, he skipped backwards a bit.
Voldemort was momentarily confused, but he was still able to turn and block the Killing Curse that flew at him from Kaizer.
He wasn't able, however, to block the one that came mere moments after it from Harry, who had moved around behind him.
Everyone was silent in the aftermath, not quite able to believe it was all over.
Perdita took the chance and, as Harry had told her she should, tossed the timeturner to the younger form of her best friend.
As soon as Harry caught it, he spun it back six hours, to a time when this room would be empty, as dawn wouldn't have broken quite yet.
The silence that met him as time stopped spinning was so like the silence he'd just left that Harry had to stop and look around himself. Make sure there weren't still people staring at him.
Once he was sure the place was empty, he apparated to the edge of Hogwarts, knowing he'd need to get something to heal himself after his battle. Now that his adrenaline was leaving him, he could feel the various curses that had hit him during the one-on-one duel.
Rather than go to the possibly empty hospital wing, Harry made for Dumbledore's office, which he knew was always kept open during the summer, in case a member of the Order needed him. At the very least, if Dumbledore wasn't in, he could sneak a few phoenix tears from Dumbledore's collection in his desk.
The gargoyle was open, as expected, so Harry stepped onto the spiral stairs and let them take him up, impossibly glad for them.
As it was, Harry was so exhausted that he didn't even recognise the voices drifting down from Dumbledore's office until he was already standing in the doorway and could see Snape and Dumbledore. The latter was sitting calmly at his desk while the former snapped about something. It took Harry a great deal of effort to understand what Snape was ranting about.
"...Ministry when Potter's supposed to arrive! Don't you care, even the slightest? Albus!"
But Dumbledore had seen Harry at that point and jumped to his feet, pulling something out of a drawer. "Harry," he breathed.
Snape turned around to look at where the teen stood in the doorway and his mouth snapped shut in surprise. Harry smiled at him tiredly and said, "I look so bad, then?"
"You're not to arrive for another..." Snape started, but trailed off to look at a clock.
"Six hours," Harry offered as Dumbledore hurried over to him and held out a vial. "Thank you," he said, then downed the healing potion. The Dark in him recoiled at the phoenix tears Harry knew Dumbledore had put in the potion, but since it made him feel much better, he didn't mind.
Dumbledore led Harry to a chair and forced him to sit down before saying, "I thought you wouldn't be here for another three hours? Miss Granger seemed to think that's all the time you three would need to get ready."
Harry smiled. "Ah. I should have known Hermione would get in contact with you," he murmured, resting his head back against the chair. "And that would have been fine, but a few things happened during my arrival and when she tossed me the timeturner, I just turned it to a time when I knew there wouldn't be anyone else there."
"Enough with your melodramatics, Potter," Snape snapped. "What happened?"
"Voldemort attacked," Harry said, and ignored Snape's hiss at the name. "We duelled and I killed him."
"You kill–" Snape started, but Dumbledore waved at him to be silent.
"Harry, he's gone?" the Headmaster asked gently.
Harry smiled ever so slightly, then, and nodded. "In about six hours, yeah."
Dumbledore breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank Merlin."
Snape glanced at Dumbledore for the okay to speak, then said, "You killed him, Potter?"
Harry tensed slightly, but nodded. "Killing Curse."
Dumbledore closed his eyes helplessly. "Harry," he breathed.
"I didn't have a choice," he said defensively. "Kaizer had distracted him and his back was to me and that was the only curse I could think of that would finish the job without him having the chance to fix it. What else was I supposed to do?"
Dumbledore sighed, because he admitted – if only to himself – that Harry was Dark and had fewer compunctions about using that spell than Dumbledore himself would have. Also, the Headmaster hadn't been there, so he wasn't able to say if there would have been another way or not.
Dumbledore blinked. Had he been there? "Harry? Was I there?"
Harry shook his head. "Kaizer said you were otherwise occupied."
"The attack on the Ministry," Snape immediately jumped in. "The Dark Lord has been making rather noisy plans about attacking the Ministry while most of the aurors are off greeting you," he said to Harry's curious look, "and I was just warning the Headmaster about it."
"Of course," Harry breathed. "He would never be able to finish me with you there, sir," he said, looking at Dumbledore. "So he had to keep you busy. Make noise about attacking the Ministry and when you hear about it, you'll go there. Then, once he knew you were suitably occupied, he attacked my welcoming party. He's never been worried about the Ministry, only you. And if you weren't there, he could kill me. Then there would be no one who could stop him..."
"Brilliant," Dumbledore whispered. "And I would have fallen for it."
"You still will," Harry said firmly. "Sir, you have to go to the Ministry. Because without you there to welcome me back, I can kill him. And Voldemort isn't the sort to make plans so obviously and then not follow through on them, especially if there's a chance you don't hear about it in time. If you don't stop his people at the Ministry, they can still do a lot of damage. More people will die if you don't."
"And how many people died at the battle you've come from?" Dumbledore wanted to know, bright eyes troubled.
Harry shook the image of Rita Skeeter sacrificing herself from his mind. "Too many," he admitted. "If I could find a way to tell the people who came to greet me not to, I would. But I can't. And you can't not go to the Ministry."
Dumbledore sighed and nodded. "I know," he said. "But I wish there was another way."
"Me too," Harry agreed, closing his eyes. "Me too."
Six hours later, Harry stood next to his two best friends and the Minister for Magic, watching his younger self disappear. The taste of the Killing Curse lingered still on his tongue and a part of him wanted to be sick.
"Where did he go?" the Minister asked.
As if the man's voice were the counter to the spell that had kept everyone from moving, people jerked into action. Harry tossed a few, half-hearted stunners at a few Death Eaters, but otherwise left them for the aurors to clean up. Even with six hours to think on it, Harry wasn't sure how to face his actions. He didn't want to be congratulated for taking a life. Didn't want to come out with the truth of who he was. He wanted to still be able to hide behind Lord Kaizer.
"We always face things we don't want to do, Harry," Dumbledore had said when Harry finally admitted his worries to the old man, "but we must do them, no matter the cost. You wish to hide, I know, but it is time to show the world who you are. Perhaps past time."
So Harry turned to Scrimgeour and said, "He went back in time about six hours."
Scrimgeour turned to him, something dangerous in his eyes. "And did you teach him all those spells? A Dark wizard such as yourself wouldn't have cared if he was breaking the law."
Harry cocked an eyebrow at the Minister, then waved his wand against his forehead, where a very distinct lightning bolt scar appeared. "I taught myself, Minister," he said to the shocked man, "because it is in my blood to know and use Dark magic. And because I was well aware – even if no one else in this stupid world was – that the only way to destroy Voldemort was by using the very magic he himself enjoys throwing about without care."
"Harry," Hermione whispered, setting a hand on her friend's arm. Ron stood firm on her other side, frowning at the Minister.
Scrimgeour turned, then, on Hermione. "And you must be that muggleborn he always runs around with. What were you thinking, playing at royalty?!"
Harry reached forward and grabbed the front of Scrimgeour's robes before Ron could do more than growl. "Let's get something perfectly clear, Minister," Harry hissed, breath reeking of Dark magic and false brown eyes flashing with the light of the Killing Curse. "We don't play at being anything. Hermione is the rightful Heir of the throne, as you would know if you had any knowledge of the Old ways. If you continue to disrespect Her Majesty, I will personally end your life. Are we clear?"
The Minister nodded, face pale, and Harry let him go.
Hermione sighed and shook her head. "Harry, you don't need to be so..."
"Drastic?" Ron suggested, nodding to Harry in understanding.
"Oh, good," a new voice said behind Harry. "If the cat's out of the bag, I can do this," Sirius finished, then smacked the back of Harry's head. "Who said you could throw around the Killing Curse like that?" he hissed furiously.
Harry gave his godfather a tired look. "I did. And, anyway, the Minister started it."
"That didn't mean you had to continue it," Sirius replied.
Harry shrugged. "Kept the buggers from getting back up again, though, didn't it?"
"That's not the point!"
Harry rolled his eyes.
The sounds of apparation joined the general noises of cleaning up after a battle and tending to the wounded. It was a show of just how on edge everyone still was that they all turned, wands drawn, on the new arrivals.
"At ease," Dumbledore said with a faint smile, then directed the healers and extra aurors he'd picked up on his way to help where they could. Once satisfied with their assistance, he walked over to where Harry, his friends, Sirius and the Minister all stood. "The Ministry is secure," he said to the three teens turned adults, and they all breathed out in relief.
"Of course the Ministry's secure," Scrimgeour snapped.
"While you buggers were here making a spectacle of yourselves and letting Voldemort know where I was," Harry offered drily, "a group of his people where descending on the Ministry in hopes of distracting the Headmaster. It worked, of course, because we let it work. But, Minister, this should remind you that currying favour with fifteen-year-olds should not be your top priority. Especially not in so public a place."
"If we hadn't known what to expect," Hermione added in a much more gentle tone than Harry had been using, "the Ministry would have fallen and everyone here would be dead, including your 'Chosen One'."
"Would have made a brilliant front page as a start to Voldemort's new regime," Harry added cheerfully.
"Harry," Dumbledore said.
Harry shrugged. "Just making my point."
"It's been made," the Headmaster assured him, then turned to Scrimgeour. "Between what I can guess at from my brief look here and what I saw at the Ministry, all of Voldemort's people were out and should have been either captured or killed." He glanced at Harry to convey how he felt about the teen's usage of the Killing Curse, but Harry shrugged. He and Dumbledore had already agreed to disagree on that regard. "Probably about twenty civilians and Ministry personal were critically wounded or killed, and another forty with minor wounds."
Scrimgeour sighed and looked around them. Most things were being cleaned up as they spoke and everyone had been transported to either St Mungo's or the Ministry's holding cells. "Very well," he agreed, then glanced at Harry. "Now, about Mr Potter's use of illegal Dark magic–"
"I wouldn't, if I were you, Minister," Hermione commented with a frosty smile. "Dark magic or no, Harry's just defeated Voldemort. He's going to be quite the popular person over the next few days."
"Bloody hell," Harry complained, having not quite admitted that point to himself yet.
"Anyway, anything you do to him now, Her Majesty will undo in two years," Ron helpfully pointed out.
Scrimgeour looked for a moment like he might tell Ron exactly what he thought of Hermione taking over Europe, but Harry's eyes flashed with the Killing Curse and the man backed down. "Of course," he said with a helpless smile.
"So glad we understand each other," Hermione said pleasantly. "Now, I think we should head back to the school to fix ourselves up a bit?" she suggested to her two best friends.
"Agreed," Ron replied, and the two turned to Harry.
Harry rolled his eyes and held out an arm for the other two to grab, which they did, then he apparated them away.
'Boy Who Lived Kills You-Know-Who!
'In a stunning battle this afternoon, Harry Potter and Ministry aurors
faced down against You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. Her Majesty,
Queen Perdita and her two loyal bodyguards were also in attendance
and helped the Ministry aurors hold back the Death Eaters and the
Dark Lord himself. Harry Potter, meanwhile, came to the aid of a group
of trapped reporters and Ministry officials, where he admitted to being
the Chosen One, but also pointed out that a prophecy only foretells one
possible future, not a sure one, and he was still only fifteen. Far too young
for us to expect him to kill You-Know-Who.
'But kill him he did. When You-Know-Who brought down a shield placed
by Harry and his guardian, Sirius Black, Harry joined him in an impressive
duel that will be forever remembered by all who witnessed it, including
yours truly. Lord Kaizer assisted Harry in distracting You-Know-Who,
giving our boy hero his chance to curse the Dark Lord without him
'You-Know-Who is dead. For good this time. And all his Death Eaters have
been captured and taken in to custody by the Ministry. All of them await
trial and, Minister Scrimgeour assures us, none of them will be buying
their ways out of it.'
'One-Year Anniversary: The Magical World Without Fear
'One year ago today, Harry James Potter took on Lord Voldemort
in a duel to the death and came out on top. Our boy saviour has just
finished his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
and left to visit America, as he did last year. When he left, he did so
with the joking promise that, this time, when he returns, there wouldn't
be another epic battle.
'Even without Voldemort, however, Mr Potter reminds us, there is
oppression. Mr Potter's best friend, muggleborn Hermione Granger,
is the top of their class, but still faces hurtful words from her pureblood
' "Her Majesty wants to change all that," Potter said during a meeting
with the press shortly before he was to leave for America. "Queen
Perdita wants to make this world – our world – a place where every-
one can enjoy life. She wants muggleborns to be able to go through
school without having to be mocked by pureblood scions and for
non-humans to be allowed to attend Hogwarts, same as you or me.
' "When I visited America last year, I heard about a young vampire
whose sire would like him to attend Hogwarts, but according to our
laws, he cannot. Instead, this young man will be attending Salem's
Magical Academy. Doesn't it seem wrong to you, somehow, that
America gives rights to people that we ignore? Our colony is so
much better than us in that way. It's almost insulting.
' "It's time Britain moved beyond the Dark Ages of its past. It's time
we created a world in which another Lord Voldemort cannot thrive,
for we'll create a world in which everyone can have the same rights.
The same wonderful future. Perhaps it will be hard to change our
culture so much, but I think it's time. And so does Her Majesty!" '
'New World 'This was the name our predecessors once gave to a continent across
an ocean which we can now cross in a tenth of the time it took them.
America, a world of fresh starts, of dreams come true.
'For some, America was just that. For the non-humans, America was
a world where they were equal to wizards and witches. Until only a
few months ago, America was still the only place they could go.
'But no more.
'With her graduation from Hogwarts School, Her Majesty, Queen
"Perdita" Hermione Jean Granger-Vasil will take on her bloodright
as the Queen of Magical Europe. As she and her two best friends,
Lord Ronald Bilius Weasley and Lord Harry James Potter-Kaizer,
have been telling us for the past two years, they intend to install
new laws governing the treatment of muggleborns and non-humans.
All new laws will be issued through the current Ministries of Magic,
which are remaining in place as more of a formality and "because
people are comfortable with them," as Her Majesty said.
'All new laws will have come into effect by September, and Her
Majesty foresees a rocky time for all of Europe, but she assures
us: "We can do it. We can change our ways and become a better
people. A people our children and our children's children can
be proud of."
'When asked about her plans for her future personal life, Her
Majesty laughed and said, "Oh, goodness! Well, I'm not quite
sure. We – Harry, Ron and myself – have all agreed that the
most important thing right now is seeing to the good of our
people. I've got
with and make an Heir. And after Voldemort, I don't see
many Dark Lords for a while. Harry assures me that, if
another one does show up, he'll duel him until he goes
away. Harry is, of course, the best wizard in all of Europe
when it comes to Light or Dark defensive magic, so I
don't think that will be a problem. Why don't we fix Europe,
then you can come back and ask me about future children?"
'So there it is, wizards and witches. Her Majesty is determined
to see to our happiness before her own. If that isn't the exact
sort of person I want to see on a long-cold throne, I don't
know who it would be.'
'This was the name our predecessors once gave to a continent across
A/N: That was much shorter than I'd expected, personally. I thought for sure that I'd get another five or six chapters out of it, but Voldemort wanted to be killed – a rare thing, in my writing – so killed he was. And I didn't want to have to come up with a pairing at the last minute, so I couldn't continue too far into the future, or I'd have to face the question of who Hermione was going to marry. And the newspaper articles were to get everything that was happening across without having to spend a lot of time coming up with erroneous information to add to any scenes.
Also! In the article, Hermione's additional last name was something that just popped into my head. It's the last name, as it were, of the royal family. So she officially added it to her name.
Hope you enjoyed the ride!