This has been a brilliant week. It was my birthday, my team were unbelievably top of the league and my wife had a bout of Laryngitis! Today I realised I'm now a year older, my team got gubbed and the house is once more full of my wife's dulcet tones. I guess this just proves that all good things must come to an end. To continue in that vein, this is the final chapter of Souls Abound. As something that started with a 'what would happen if...' question in my tiny mind, I'm quite pleased with how far that idea has actually come. Just to reiterate though – I don't own any of the 125,000 words used in this story, only the order I placed them in do I claim as my own. Robert.
Dolores came barrelling into the great hall, her six accompanying aurors marching in formation behind her. The head of the DMLE was obviously hoping to appear intimidating, she failed to pull it off for two reasons. That little girl voice she used just grated on your nerves and Conan the Barbarian couldn't pull off intimidating wearing a Dolores Umbridge trademark pink cardigan.
"Headmistress, sorry but this isn't a social call. I'm here to investigate the attack and unlawful killing of a ministry worker on the Hogwarts express. I have it on good authority certain of your students carried out this attack while the employee was carrying out their duties."
Amelia felt her hackles rising, but then again this woman always had that effect on her. "I'm sorry Madam Umbridge, you have me at a disadvantage. The only incident that I am aware of was a dementor boarding the express. It was driven off by some of my students, an act I was so proud of that they all were awarded housepoints at the opening feast by me."
"Hem, hem. The dementor was working for the ministry and my investigation shows it wasn't driven off, it was killed. There was a ministerial search of the train scheduled to check for the presence of Sirius Black or Albus Dumbledore. I'm here this morning to arrest those involved in disrupting that search and killing a ministerial worker who was merely carrying out their orders."
Amelia was stunned into silence while her brain caught up with what this bitch was saying.
Harry thought this was brilliant. He wanted all the attention he could get on them this morning. Having the Head of the DMLE and half a dozen aurors present in the hall was better than he could ever have hoped for. Harry also thought this latest effort to arrest him was ministerial stupidity taken to a whole new level, he wanted to laugh but decided instead to have some fun.
"Excuse me Madam Umbridge, what was the man's name? I assume it was male, did he leave a wife and kids behind? What department did he work for and what salary scale was he on? Do the ministry have insurance or will his widow be suing me for loss of earnings?"
This was all stuff his uncle used to spout off about from his job in Grunnings, Harry could see it was having an effect on Umbridge as her complexion began to resemble Vernon Dursley's patented shade of puce. He wasn't sure if that may have been because the entire hall was now laughing at her, the twins may have started the chuckles but everyone was now vocally expressing how laughable her supposed charges were. Harry gave a subtle signal to Neville before continuing to bait the obnoxious witch.
"I think his cloak was tossed off the train. We couldn't leave it there, it was a health and safety hazard just lying in the corridor. Why, anyone could have tripped over it and hurt themselves."
The laughter had now spread to some of the staff, all except Remus. The marauder knew exactly what Harry was now up to and was poised ready to spring to their aid if he was needed.
Dolores was furious at the ridicule she was receiving from this little half-blood upstart. All pretence at being nice disappeared as she attempted to quieten the hall. "Silence! I'm glad you find this amusing Potter, we'll see if it's still as funny when you're sitting inside a ministry cell."
"That's Lord Potter to you and your latest attempt to arrest me is even more amateurish than your last. Your own ministry classes dementors as the darkest of creatures, the only advice given on defending yourself against the threat they pose is to run away. Please tell me how we were supposed to follow that advice when we were sitting on a train?"
Harry really wasn't paying attention to Umbridge anymore, he just continued talking to mask what Neville was doing behind him.
"You claim that creature worked for you yet it carried no ministerial identification. These wizards with you this morning are clearly aurors, they have the robes and all will carry badges that identify them as such. The dementor never identified itself nor told anyone what it was doing on board the express, can they even speak?"
Harry didn't know the answer to that last bit but just threw it in there anyway. "The ministry ordered at least one of those things onto a train full of children, with no supervision and no prior warning of what its intentions were. Whoever gave that order should be the one facing criminal charges today, not the people who defended themselves."
This led to a lot of cheering in agreement with those words but Harry would later not be able to remember what he said. He was now watching Neville feed Scabbers a very special titbit.
The rat had his head sticking out of Ron's pocket and appeared to be taking great interest in this morning's proceedings. It quickly accepted the piece of cheese from the boy sitting next to Ron. Peter had no way of knowing this piece of cheese had been left to soak in a special potion Remus and Sirius had prepared in France. The potion had been developed to force a stuck animagus back into their human form, it was apparently a lot less painful and stressful than the spell that performed the same function. Peter Pettigrew certainly wouldn't agree with that.
Ron felt a sudden weight at his side while the pocket ripped off his brand new Hogwarts robes. The small, pudgy, balding man now sitting between him and Neville was a total shock to him. He only managed a 'What the…' when there were stunners flying all around him.
Neville, Hermione and Harry all hit Peter with stunners as the six aurors now had their wands drawn, searching for the threat.
Minerva McGonagall had been handing out the Gryffindor timetables when Umbridge arrived and had slowly made her way toward Harry as he was speaking. There was no way this bitch was taking any of her lion cubs away for defending themselves. Her hand flew to her mouth in shock when she spied her former, and supposedly deceased, pupil sitting back amongst her students at the Gryffindor table. The same hand then sped for her wand and Minerva soon had him bound in ropes.
"That's Peter Pettigrew!"
Umbridge made a vain attempt to regain control of a situation she'd lost the moment they entered the hall. "Impossible McGonagall, Pettigrew's dead. Black killed him."
Harry may have been having fun in his earlier verbal battle with this bitch, now he was deadly serious. "And just how do you know that? Sirius Black was never even questioned about what happened that day, far less given a trial. Thrown in Azkaban and left to rot, now condemned to a dementor's kiss while the guilty party was awarded an order of Merlin. Will the ministry take the medal back now Pettigrew's alive?"
Minerva backed Harry to the hilt. "I was Peter Pettigrew's head of house and Transfiguration teacher for seven years. I can assure you, that IS indeed him lying there."
Dolores thought was more interested in what Potter had just said, the head of the DMLE was sure she had the brat now. "Just how do you know that? Sirius Black is a wanted criminal, as is anyone withholding information on his whereabouts."
"Go ahead and try to arrest me, third time might be the charm? Sirius Black is actually my godfather."
This drew gasps of astonishment from a lot of the people inside the hall.
"He made contact with me while I was holidaying in Europe and told me everything. I'm sure he's not in Britain at the moment, and no country will deport him here after learning he was never tried for the crimes he spent twelve years in Azkaban for. Now, that same ministry have ordered him to be administered the dementor's kiss on sight?"
They had rehearsed the way to play this many times while in France. Umbridge might be an unexpected complication, but it was worth it to have her here as a witness.
"Headmistress, this man was heavily involved in an attempt to end the Potter line. As Lord Potter, I claim the right to question him under truth serum and in front of witnesses. Since we're all already here, right now works for me?"
Andi Tonks was struggling to believe everything she was hearing, she'd always wondered what motive Sirius would have for betraying a man he thought of as a brother. She gave a little yelp of surprise as something was placed in her lap, hidden by the table. She glanced at Remus sitting beside her before studying the vial of clear liquid he'd obviously just passed her.
"Just in case you don't have any handy at the moment, Sirius sends his love."
That was all Andi needed to hear, with a wide smile on her face she interrupted the discussion. "Headmistress, I have some veritaserum here."
Dolores found herself helpless to intervene where a noble house line issue was concerned, Harry though was keen to involve the DMLE in the interrogation.
"Madam Umbridge, could one of your aurors please take official notes on Pettigrew's testimony?"
She could only nod as one of them quickly volunteered for the task, removing writing materials from a pocket that was obviously expanded on the inside.
McGonagall levitated the bound and still stunned Pettigrew to the front of the hall, within moments he was trussed up on a chair. One of the aurors came forward and searched Pettigrew, removing his wand.
Harry knew the potion on that cheese would prevent Pettigrew transforming for half an hour or so, plenty of time to get this done.
Amelia was always going t allow the questioning. The headmistress collected the veritaserum from Andi, reviving Pettigrew before administering the serum. She watched carefully as his eyes took on a glazed appearance before signalling to Harry it was time to begin. The entire hall was silent as everyone strained to hear what was about to unfold.
Harry was comforted by the fact both Hermione and Remus had made their way over to be by his side, it was time to get some answers as to why his parents died that Halloween.
In a clear voice, Harry began. "What is your name?"
"Peter Pettigrew." The answer may have been emotionless but it certainly generated a few emotions inside the hall.
"Are you a death eater?"
"Who was the Potter secret keeper?"
"Why did everyone think it was Sirius who was the secret keeper?"
"To keep suspicion away from me."
"Who killed all those muggles in that street?"
With that, Pettigrew had cleared Sirius of any wrongdoing but Harry wanted more. "Why did you cut off part of your finger?"
"To blame Black for my crimes."
Remus was actually growling at the traitor, Hermione had to stand in front of the marauder in case he attacked the rat.
"How did you escape from Sirius?"
"I blew a hole in the street and changed into my animagus form."
"What is your animagus form?"'
Harry could clearly hear Ron parting with his breakfast behind him, he had to ignore his friend's discomfort for the moment. There was one question Harry needed to know the answer to. "Why did you betray my mum and dad?"
"The dark lord is very powerful. To disobey him meant a slow and painful death."
"I don't call spending eleven years as a rat much of a life?" Harry had meant it as a rhetorical question but Pettigrew was still under the chemical effects of the truth serum and was compelled to answer.
"It was better than being Sirius Black and stuck in Azkaban."
Hermione found herself having to get in front of both Harry and Remus at that point. Thankfully, Amelia took over proceedings.
"Madam Umbridge, you came here today with the intention of making a high-profile arrest. That opportunity is now sitting bound right in front of you. A supposedly deceased Order of Merlin winner who's actually a live murdering death eater."
Hermione had settled Harry enough that he was able to continue with the reason for today's theatricals. "I think we've just proved beyond any doubt that my godfather is an innocent man. I want to see Sirius Black's name cleared and the manhunt called off. Hundreds of witnesses just heard the facts from the murderer who betrayed my parents."
Dolores was running through scenarios in her head, trying to predict the public's response to whatever action she took. Admitting they were wrong about Black would harm the ministry, of that there was no doubt. Having the man who fooled them all in custody, complete with a full confession, would go a very long way to curbing the bad publicity. They finally had the Potter's betrayer and everyone liked a good twist to a story. The clincher though was staring Dolores in the face. The whole of Hogwarts had heard the confession, the chances of containing this were nil.
"We'll take responsibility of Pettigrew from here. Lord Potter, I can see no other recourse than to declare Sirius Black an innocent wizard. That will be done today."
With her head up, Dolores Umbridge led her aurors and their prisoner from the great hall of Hogwarts. It may not have been the prisoner she intended to arrest this morning but they were being cheered as they left the hall, she would settle for that.
Peter was now free of the truth serum's effects and broke away from his guards for a second to beg Percy Weasley for help. "I was a good pet to you, please don't let them take me away like this."
Percy knocked the grasping hands away before slugging Pettigrew on the jaw. Peter landed on the Gryffindor table with forgotten breakfast's going everywhere before the aurors once more had a hold of him. Percy stood there, fists clenched and ready for action, as everyone saw a different side to the studious and fastidious Gryffindor head boy. Penelope Clearwater certainly liked what she was seeing.
Hermione was wrapped around Harry while Remus was thumping him on the back in congratulations. They were soon joined by the rest of their friends.
Harry had his apology ready for an ashen-faced Ron. "Sorry we had to keep you in the dark there mate, you'd never have been able to act naturally around the rat if you'd known what he was."
Neville immediately backed Harry up. "I don't think either Harry or I slept a wink last night, knowing who we were sharing a dorm with."
Luna came up and cuddled into her boyfriend's side. She was probably more worried about Ron's reaction than Harry was.
Ron's first question was well thought out, though perhaps not worded best for being in the middle of the great hall. "Why didn't you let Crookshanks eat the bastard on the train?"
Hermione had no intention of chiding her friend for his language today, she thought he was handling the news rather well. "It wasn't about revenge Ron, we were more focused on getting Sirius declared a free man."
Harry was nodding in agreement. "Otherwise we would have told you at once and captured him first chance we got. It had to be done somewhere so public, the ministry couldn't sweep it under the carpet."
All Luna's old insecurities had resurfaced while she clung to Ron and practically begged for his forgiveness. "I'm really sorry for not telling you Ron, I hope you can understand why I did it and not be angry with me?"
Ron pulled his girlfriend into a tight hug. "We'll kiss and make up later love. Knowing that man was in my pocket saw me lose my breakfast, I need to brush my teeth before we get to that."
Luna now had a wide smile on her face as she kissed his cheek. "Looking forward to it."
Ginny also instantly forgave their friends, knowing they were right. Neither she nor Ron could have acted normally around Scabbers if they had known who he really was. All it would have taken was one verbal slip-up and the rat would have run.
Amelia and Minerva quickly decided to start the day on second period, due to the time taken over this morning's activities. The headmistress was about to announce this when there was an almighty dong that reverberated in every corner of the castle. Every door and window flew open and resisted all efforts to close them. Minerva knew what this was but she had trouble believing it.
"Amelia, every ward in the school has just fallen. What could have caused that?"
The headmistress shook her head nonplussed. "I have no idea, the Hogwarts wards have stood for a millennium…" Amelia stopped talking as both witches noticed that their breath was now visible. The rapid drop in temperature signalled that they had a far more pressing problem to deal with than why the wards failed.
Albus had trouble believing his eyes, or his luck as he recognised the prisoner Dolores and her aurors were escorting out of Hogwarts. The prisoner was understandably older and certainly looking the worse for wear but Albus couldn't help but identify the terrified wizard as Peter Pettigrew. That Peter was alive and under arrest told Albus everything he needed to know, how he pulled it off and why Pettigrew was inside Hogwarts was immaterial to Dumbledore.
Fate had just handed him the missing ingredient in his scheme, a genuine bad guy to take the blame. Albus sprang into action, he had the group disarmed and on the ground before they even knew what hit them.
His next stage of the plan saw him release the spells that hid the Hogwarts ward stone he'd previously uncovered. It had taken him almost two days to remove all the protection charms that had been placed there specifically to prevent him from doing what he was about to. Using the wand he received on his eleventh birthday, Albus cast the most powerful blasting curse he could at the now exposed ward stone.
Albus was well aware the Dementors would be here in mere moments and hoped the veritable feast he was providing them here would be enough to induce a feeding frenzy. He didn't think they would be able to resist the sheer volume of unprotected young souls readily available inside the castle.
Before making his escape, Albus wanted to make the tableau that others would find appear a bit more convincing. A quick enverate and Albus had an audience of one. He wanted someone to know the brilliance of his scheme, especially as that someone wouldn't tell a soul about it. Peter soon wouldn't have one.
"Hello Peter, I have to say you've looked better."
"Oh Albus, thank Merlin it's you. None of them would listen to me, you've got to help me."
"Actually Peter, I don't. I only woke you so you could attempt to run away, make it appear more authentic when the ministry eventually investigates. I want it to appear as if you fought a battle with the aurors that accidentally brought the wards down. Unfortunately, this allowed the Dementors to surprise you and everyone perished. I suggest you start running as the Dementors will soon be upon us."
Albus himself was almost caught out at how quickly the Dementors were upon them, he'd never seen the creatures so angry. He was forced to cast his patronus to protect himself, only to lose sight of Peter while doing so. How could the little shit disappear so quickly? Albus made certain he hadn't a wand before he revived him. He couldn't allow Peter to escape, he had seen and knew far too much.
Albus screamed in excruciating pain as he suddenly knew where Peter was, right behind him. Pettigrew's left hand was now at his throat, it was the right one though that had just stabbed something sharp into his lower back. The old wizard was powerless to do anything with his wand other than maintain his patronus, the Dementors had now reached them and Dolores was experiencing what was probably her first kiss.
Peter was enjoying his moment of triumph and spoke into Albus' ear from behind. "I spent the last eleven years hiding from everyone, I don't need you searching for me too."
Albus could feel his power slipping away as his blood leaked onto the grass, he tried to reason with his attacker. "If my patronus fails, we both get our souls sucked. You've got to stop this Peter."
"Actually Albus, I don't" As if to prove his point, Peter pulled out the knife and stabbed it back into Dumbledore.
He waited to the screaming stopped before speaking again. "The great Albus Dumbledore, brought to his knees by a knife I nicked off the Gryffindor table. I always was the best thief amongst the Marauders. Unlike you, I also have a way out of here. Goodbye old man."
Peter stabbed Dumbledore a couple of times more until his patronus gave out. As Albus lay dying on the grass, the last thing he saw before the Dementors closed in was a rat scurrying away in the direction of the forbidden forest.
The self-proclaimed leader of the light had come to a very dark end.
Amelia was used to making decisions under pressure but the magnitude of this one dwarfed everything she'd ever done. The wards were down and the dementors were coming for them, she literally had seconds to devise a way that everyone in the hall wouldn't have their soul sucked. With the wards gone, apparition should now be possible. Experience had taught her though that most witches and wizards couldn't apparate while under a dementor attack, and most of the school couldn't do it anyway.
What they needed was somewhere big enough for everyone to be safely contained in yet easily defendable. "Everyone who can cast a patronus, do so now! Harry, can you still open the chamber of secrets?"
With the lad's cry of 'yes', Amelia's decision was made.
There were soon silver animals whizzing around the hall, providing relief for the moment. There weren't nearly enough of them though to provide protection against any sustained attack by the number of dementors present. They really needed to get to a location where there was at most only one way in or out, then hope help would arrive. The measure she was about to order could be considered rash but Amelia felt sitting here and hoping for the best would see most of them into an early grave.
"Remus, I need you, Harry and Hermione to get to that bathroom and have the entrance open for us arriving. We'll be following on right behind you."
Prongs had been standing guarding the doors to the great hall. The first few dementors that had tried to force their way passed were now empty cloaks, lying in the entrance hall. The trio were soon behind the stag, a silver otter and wolf guarding their backs.
When the dementors saw that it was only this small group who were leaving, they parted like the Red Sea and granted them safe passage. There were plenty more souls still in the hall and only one golden stag.
They raced for Myrtle's bathroom and Harry wasted no time in hissing at the sink. When the goblins had been here during the summer, they had used a portable stair system to get up and down the tube. Harry was pleased to see they had taken it with them when they were finished. Sliding down the massive tube would get everyone down there much quicker, and today quicker could save lives.
The rat watched as the dementors swarmed toward the castle after removing the souls of those victims left laying on the grass. Peter was hoping the castle would be wiped out, leaving him in the clear. The death eater had felt the potion that was in the cheese wear off and had been looking for an opportunity to once more change into his rat form. It was hard to believe that Albus Dumbledore had been the one to provided it, Peter had now gotten himself out from under two dark lords and counted himself mighty lucky to have survived. He was so concerned about his safety, Peter forgot that the outside world could be a dangerous place for a rat.
Vengeance swooped in silently on white wings and the animagus didn't even know what hit him. Hedwig's talons had Peter in the air and his back broken before the animagus could possibly think about reacting.
Amelia had the entire school population bunched up as tight as possible. Minerva was at the front, with Arthur, Ron, Ginny and Luna, it was hoped their combined patronuses would be enough to push their way through the corridors. The first years were bunched up behind them, with the prefects there to keep the eleven year olds moving. Other staff who could cast the charm were sprinkled about the mass of the remaining students with Amelia, Susan, Neville and Hannah to cover their rear. The headmistress hated having to use the children in this matter but had no other option, all their lives were at stake here.
The dementors were becoming more frantic as the large group of souls was continually being denied them. As they made their way along the corridors, their group was subject to attack after attack. The dark creatures then changed tactics and now tried to grab terrified students out from the masses. Ron thought the golden stag and silver otter coming racing down the corridor to join the fight was one of the most beautiful sights he'd ever seen.
Prongs sent the dementors fleeing as the head of the large column of humanity turned the corner and spotted their salvation. Anyone who's ever held one in still would have no idea of the relief felt as they now raced for the toilet up ahead. Minerva didn't stop as she ran straight up and jumped down the tube. By the time the first student arrived mere seconds later, she had transfigured some pebbles into mattresses so they would have a softer landing than the head of Gryffindor had just experienced. Minerva thought if she got out of this with nothing more than a bruised arse, that would be one hell of a victory.
As the students streamed down the chute, she was busy transfiguring torches and sticking them to the tunnel walls. The children were terrified and the last thing they needed was to be in a dark tunnel. As the first prefects arrived, Minerva had them herding their fellow students into groups. All eyes were still glued on the chute, as if they expected the dementors to follow them down here.
Back above, things were becoming quite desperate. The dementors could sense their pray escaping and now attacked with even more ferocity, the rear guard were bearing the brunt of it. Amelia was prouder than she could possibly say of the kids for facing this nightmare the way they were, but they were still kids. Susan and Hannah were almost out on their feet while Neville wasn't much better. Reinforcements arrived in the shape of three Weasleys and Luna, their combined patronuses momentarily relieving the pressure they were under.
"C'mon guys, why would you want to hang about here when there's a perfectly creepy chamber of secrets waiting on you around the corner?"
Hannah may be exhausted but she still had a joke left in her. "Ron, if that's your idea of a greeting, how did you ever land Luna as a girlfriend?" Her patronus failed as Hannah's concentration lapsed, a Dementor sensed its chance and took the opportunity presented. It had a hold of the now screaming girl and was trying to drag her away from her friends. The other Dementors also surged at this point, leaving the knackered defenders fighting for their own lives.
Hannah was struggling with every bit of strength she had left in her body but the Dementor was gaining the upper hand. It was leaning down to administer the kiss when suddenly it had a face full of silver otter. Hermione managed to hold it off Hannah until Prongs got there and used his antlers to rip the dementor's arm right off.
Hannah collapsed to the floor before Arthur raced forward and scooped the girl up into his arms, he led the mad dash back to the bathroom as Remus and Filius were seeing the last of the students into the chute. Arthur didn't stop but jumped right in with Hannah still in his arms, she had such a tight hold of him it would have wasted far to much time trying to peel her off. Ginny and Lunna were right behind them.
Soon it was only Harry and Amelia who were left in the bathroom with Prongs standing at the doorway, barring entry to the hoard of Dementors who were still chasing.
"Amelia, you need to go so I can close this as I jump in."
"I can't do that and leave you alone here."
"Trust me when I say I'll be right behind you. Hermione will be going nuts down there, Remus had to practically throw her into the chute."
Amelia realised Harry was right, and that Susan would be doing the same waiting on her arriving. "You better be right behind me young man or I'll be taking those points back off you."
It wasn't much of a joke but both appreciated it wasn't too bad, considering the circumstances.
Amelia jumped and Harry hesitated only long enough to hiss 'close' in parseltongue at the sink, before jumping in as it closed above him. By the time Prongs faded from the door, the toilet was empty and nothing larger than a cockroach was getting into the chute.
Harry landed on something soft before something soft and yet immensely strong pounced on him, wrapping limbs around his body to ensure he wasn't going anywhere soon. He had just about gotten his betrothed calmed when the both of them were hit by another sobbing female, Hannah's mantra of 'thank you' between her sobs was getting embarrassing.
"Hannah, we didn't do anything you wouldn't have done for us. Who was one of the first to have her wand out at Beauxbatons?"
"Hermione's right as usual. We need to get up, get people out this tunnel and into the chamber."
Neville was the one who asked the obvious question. "You mean this isn't the chamber?"
"This is only the tunnel leading to the chamber. Its behind another massive door that only I can open. Once there, nothing will get through."
This saw spirits lift as Arthur led the group of friends forward so Harry could open the chamber. Hannah was holding onto Neville and Susan while Ginny found herself wedged between Ron and Luna. Arthur could now see what the Grangers had been talking about for himself. Yes he was there, but only in a supervisory capacity. This group were very tight and looked after each other. When he saw the massive door that Harry opened, Arthur was certain they would be safe once behind it. He headed back to help Amelia ferry the students along here.
Some of them gasped at finally seeing the inside of the fabled chamber but Ron had seen it all before, he had other things on his mind. "Some chocolate would certainly hit the spot right about now."
No sooner had he spoken than a small table with eight mugs of hot chocolate appeared in front of them.
Hermione was first to realise what was happening. "It must be the Hogwarts elves, they can now find this chamber."
"Hope they can provide enough for everyone, there are some people back there who could really use it."
The words were hardly out of Harry's mouth when they got to witness the magic of Hogwarts.
Amelia was catching up with Minerva on what their situation was. "We have about half a dozen broken bones, mainly ankles and wrists, caused by students clattering into one enother when exiting the chute. About twenty twists and sprains and one head knock, nothing Poppy can't handle and they'll all be fine by tonight."
Arthur joined them and reported that the door was open. Prefects led their charges along the tunnel as the professors brought the injured along, when they arrived there was a real pleasant surprise waiting on them. The house tables were now in the chamber and they were laden with steaming mugs of hot chocolate. The elves were also whizzing around like dervishes and cleaning the chamber, probably for the first time since it was built. When the last person was inside, Harry closed the door to a great cheer. Even the most terrified amongst them could see nothing would be coming through that door until Harry opened it.
Hermione approached the two women in charge. "Headmistress, Professor McGonagall, we were able to call for Dobby. He left with a message for Ragnok, telling him what happened here this morning. We trust the goblins to take action rather than the ministry, we've all met the head of the DMLE."
Amelia nodded in agreement. The hot chocolate was helping but the adrenalin come down was kicking in, she understood just how lucky they were today. Even with this bolt hole available, there would have been lives lost if not for that amazing patronus of Harry's. With the elves able to reach them, they could easily spend the day here. Her primary task was the care of these children but, with everyone safe for the moment, Amelia couldn't help but think how today's events would effect their world.
Anyone involved in placing the Dementors around Hogwarts saw their careers ended today, there would be no surviving the backlash from this. Amelia herself was going to have to survive the ire of the Grangers, she'd promised they would be safe yet both Harry and Hermione were in the thick of the action today. The parents were entitled to be raging, she was raging herself.
Emma was using her hands to cover her eyes but that didn't really help, she could still hear the screaming. That some of those screams were coming from her husband, daughter and Sirius didn't help her at all, she was wishing with all her heart that the kids had never set foot back inside Hogwarts.
A mixture of cheers and groans coaxed the distraught parent to remove her hands, she really needed to know just what was going on. Harry shot passed in front of her, reaching speeds that should be illegal for someone of his age. When she'd seen him go into that dive, Emma was sure her boy was going to be eating grass. Instead it had been a feint and the Slytherin seeker now had more green on his robes than when he started the game. Grass stains could be a bugger to get out too.
One glance at her husband, bedecked in Gryffindor colours, was enough to tell Emma he was having the time of his life. Hermione was a wonderful daughter but her sporting abilities would never be something to cheer for. She well remembered a seven year old version's quip after a less than stellar performance at her school sports day. 'I'm Hermione Granger, built to read - not run!'
Dan loved his sport and it wasn't really considered proper etiquette to scream and cheer at a children's spelling bee. Here he was able to give full vent to those urges, Dan was doing just that and really didn't need the encouragement that Sirius was providing.
Her gaze switched to her daughter, only to see a myriad of emotions displayed there. Worry, pride, excitement and concern were all there but when Hermione was watching Harry, the dominant emotion would always be love. Their friends were also really into the game, Ron and Ginny had two brothers up there on brooms as well.
Emma was struggling with watching her boy fly around like a lunatic while others whacked cannon balls at him. She needed to take her thoughts off what was happening in front of her so cast her mind back to how they came to be sitting at the Gryffindor - Slytherin quidditch match.
They had all known what the plan was for dealing with Pettigrew. Only the fact that it would be very public, and Remus swore he would be there, saw parents and godfather agreeing to the scheme. So when Dobby was called for, they weren't too surprised. When the little guy didn't quickly return with the expected good news, that was when they began to worry. On finally hearing just what happened, all three wanted to get to Scotland as quickly as possible, only for Dobby to tell them no.
"Master Harry ordered me not to bring you to Hogwarts, or help you get there. Master Harry says they are perfectly safe and the Hogwarts elves are taking good care of everyone and it's very dangerous for anyone outside and mistress worried for you too. Master Harry also said godfather need to wait on official word of being free."
After later hearing what had actually happened, Emma was forced to agree that 'Master Harry' was right. The Dementors had been thwarted inside Hogwarts, an action that saw even more of their number killed. This had never happened before and they wanted revenge, the dementors went on the rampage.
The residents of Hogsmead appeared to be about to bear the brunt of their ire as the Dementors decended on the magical village. The residents' screams of terror changed to shouts of confusion and hope as fifty goblin warriors in full battle gear ported into the centre of the village.
The goblins as a species are unaffected by the Dementors debilitating mental attacks, and they also knew how to dispose of their other deadly threat. It was extremely difficult for a dementor to administer anyone a kiss when a goblin blade was protruding from its skull. The goblins always forged their blades with a trace of mithril added to the steel, this had an effect on the dark creatures that was considerably worse than silver to a werewolf.
The battle was brutal, swift and totally one sided, to the soundtrack of roaring cheers of encouragement by the occupants of an entire village. The goblins slaughtered every last Dementor.
Ragnok hadn't paused to accept the adulation of the grateful Hogsmead residents, instead pushed on to Hogwarts. They rapidly proceeded to the correct toilet and used the memory sphere Harry had provided at the start of summer. When they gained access to the chamber and inform everyone it was now safe to return to the surface, the goblin rescuers were met by their second round of wizards and witches cheering them.
All the children had to be sent back home as Hogwarts was wide open until a new ward scheme could be erected. With the ministry thrown into total disarray, Harry and Amelia took it upon themselves to negotiated with Ragnok for the goblins to ward the castle. That Potter gold was used to protect Hogwarts was money well spent as far as Harry was concerned. Ragnok was so delighted at the amazingly good press the goblin nation was receiving, he gave Harry the lowest price he possibly could.
The press rather predictably went crazy over Harry's involvement, pointing out that he had saved Hogwarts before contacting the goblins who then saved Hogsmead. Harry and his friends missed most of the post Dementor debacle since they all headed off to France until the dust settled.
Dead Dumbledore, Dolores and the aurors made little sense until an equally dead Peter Pettigrew was also found, lying mangled on the owlery floor. The notes carried by the auror were still considered to be the official transcript of the Pettigrew questioning carried out inside Hogwarts. Sirius was not only free, he could have been elected minister if Harry Potter said that's what he wanted to happen.
The ministry was in utter meltdown as anyone associated with Fudge resigned before the angry mob could turn up at the door. The people had trusted Fudge and Dumbledore, both had been shown to be severly undeserving of that trust. The only figure who they now trusted was one who had apparently left the country, not something that sat well with the British wizarding public.
Approaches were made to entice Amelia away from Hogwarts to be minister, that was until she let it be known that particular move might see Harry Potter leave the school. The headmistress was positive that wouldn't be the case, but it certainly ensured her name was no longer associated with a job she now didn't want.
She had worked at the ministry since starting auror academy at the age of eighteen, yet Amelia felt she had achieved more for the wizarding community in her very short tenture as Headmistress of Hogwarts than all those years spent at the ministry. Amelia swore she would resist any and all efforts to remove her from the headmistress' job, at least until Susan left Hogwarts.
The new minister was apparently here today. Hardly surprising though since most of wizarding Britain appeared to be here today. Amelia wanted to show that Hogwarts was back in business, and better than ever. She'd thrown the castle open to all the parents who wanted to attend the first Quidditch match of the season. With Harry Potter playing seeker for Gryffindor, the place was jam packed.
Both Grangers and Sirius had supported Amelia's decision, but they had also expressed their views that this wouldn't turn into a public relations circus. Harry would be meeting with neither minister nor press, he would play and then enjoy the after match festivities with his friends. Amelia had given her word. In magical Britain at the moment, whatever Harry Potter wanted was not something to be opposed.
Emma shuddered once more as she watched Harry dive again, she could see from Hermione's excitement that this dive was different. He pulled up but this time he had a golden ball in his hands and the stands went nuts. Remus had given up all pretence of being impartial as he, Dad and Sirius jumped up and down with excitement at the win.
Emma couldn't help but think that, like the snitch, Harry could hold the wizarding world in the palm of his hands. Like everyone else, she was watching as he was congratulated by his teammates before flying up to Hermione and presenting her with the snitch and a kiss. She also couldn't help but think this was typical of the young man she'd rapidly come to think of as her son. His only interest in having the world in the palm of his hand would be to present it to Hermione.
No one could predict what the future would hold but Emma could only see her family going from strength to strength. She was also sure their family would be getting larger, but not for a good few years yet.
Thanks for reading.