Harry Potter and the Gilded Portrait


Welcome to Harry Potter and the Gilded Portrait and thank you for taking the time to read it. It is a rather involved days after the final confrontation story that popped into my head one day. As this is simply a tune-up story for practice prior to beginning some original work, I'm having a bit of fun with this concept. While the plot line lives in my head, getting in down in words is a bit more difficult so please bear with me.

Part one of this story might be a bit confusing to some but you must realize that the first several chapters are happening at the same time. It is a re-introduction of the three main characters of the Potter Series and necessary for the development of this story. It was the only way I could make things fit within a specific time line.

I am trying to follow canon as closely as possible in the beginning but lives and relationships change as the story progresses. While I do try to proof and edit as I write, this story knows no beta at this time so keep that in mind as you read. Please leave comments about this story because they do help and are appreciated greatly (positive and negative) but suggestions on possible plot line changes will be ignored. Sorry, the story is already finished in my head.

As always, Harry Potter and all things connected to his world are the sole intellectual property of J.K. Rowling/Scholastic Books/Warner Bro. and whomever else may legally have their hands in the cookie jar! Therefore, this story may not be published or reproduced in a for-profit environment in any way, shape or form. All original characters and the basic plot line are completely my own and were created for entertainment use only within the realm of this story. Thank you! I truly hope you enjoy!

Chapter One – The Day After

As they made their way out of the Headmaster's office, the halls seemed eerily quit after what had taken place throughout the castle a few scant hours before.

They each stepped over the broken form of the gargoyle that protected the Headmaster's office.

It shot them a doleful look as it lay there in pieces.

"Oh, don't mind me. Certainly wouldn't want to get in the way! Hope you didn't get any of me on your shoe!"

Ron stopped and glared down at the gargoyle's head.

"Now see here you…"

"Ronald!" Hermione cut across Ron's retort with an exasperated sigh. She waved her wand and recited a spell as if from memory, "Statueus Reparo!"

The many pieces of the gargoyle flew through the still air, jumped back together and set itself in its place in front of the Headmaster's office entrance once again. It blinked its huge eyes for a moment.

"Thanks for that missy," it growled, "Haven't seen me tail have you?"

They could see over its haunches to a spot on its hind end that was still jagged. It looked down at Ron's feet.

"Hey ginger, do you mind?"

Ron looked down to find that he was, indeed standing on what appeared to be a chunk of stone. It was wiggling, trying to extricate itself from his right trainer. He lifted his foot and the small piece flew back into place.

The gargoyle looked at Ron blandly.

"Hoping for a bit of a souvenir were you?"

"Oy," Ron's eyebrows shot up.

Hermione grabbed Ron's arm. In a huff she spun him round and began pushing him away from the Headmaster's hallway.

Ron kept glaring at the gargoyle.

It stuck its tongue out at him as he was being ushered away.

Ron pointed at the gargoyle glaring, mumbling nasty epithets under his breath.

Harry could do nothing but roll his eyes as he watched it all unfold. His head began to pound with lack of sleep and nourishment. He was beginning to feel slightly ill.

They passed no-one as they made their way through the corridors, mostly in silence – each lost in their own thoughts but they could hear the sounds of people in the distance already hard at work making repairs to the damaged school.

Ron's ire at the gargoyle slowly faded and his thoughts turned to his family. He knew he needed to be with them as they mourned the loss of Fred. He was sure they would be taking his body somewhere, most likely to St. Mungo's.

He thought about George. His injury aside, how would the loss of his twin affect him? Fred and George had never been apart that he could remember. He was going to be plenty angry when he found out he had lost his ear accidentally from an errant severing curse by Snape.

He also thought about the Burrow. It lay in ruins as a result of the fire that destroyed everything his family owned. He had no idea what was to become of them now.

Hermione's thoughts were on so many different things. They all seemed to be crowding her mind at once.

She thought about her parents, whom she had left to the mercy of the Fates in a bungalow in Perth, Australia with a completely fictitious identity. She wanted them back as soon as she could get them. She was going to have to recruit Professor McGonagall's assistance for that.

She thought about the seemingly countless number of people she knew who were dead or severely injured.

She thought about poor Teddy Lupin who would never know his mother or father. That thought hit a bit close to home for her as she glanced clandestinely at Harry.

She thought about little Colin Creevey. He had snuck back into the castle to fight and died in the battle.

She thought about Hagrid and concern filled her for all of them, but the thought that plagued her conscious mind the most was Harry.

She couldn't help but think that, with the death of Remus Lupin, there was no-one left to connect him to his past or his family. The last of the Marauders was gone.

He was truly all alone.

She knew he and Ginny had started something before the end of last term. She wondered if Harry was going to try and get back together with her.

All Hermione knew was she hoped Harry could at last find some peace and happiness. She silently vowed to do everything she could to help.

Harry's thoughts could seem to go no further than his old four-poster in the Gryffindor boy's dormitory.

He was physically and mentally exhausted.

The adrenaline that coursed through his veins during his confrontation with Tom Riddle had long since waned and he was finding it difficult to remain standing.

It felt so good to have his old wand back in one piece that he still held it in his hand, unable to part with it even long enough to put it away.

He had unceremoniously shoved the Elder Wand in the right front pocket of his old hand-me-down cargo trousers and had not given it another thought.

As they walked silently along, Hermione noticed the wand sticking out of his pocket and froze mid-stride.

Harry and Ron both noticed and glanced back to see a look of horror on her face as she stared at the wand. Ron was the first to break the silence.

"What is it Hermione," he asked with one eyebrow raised. He noticed she was breathing a bit heavier than she should be.

Hermione pointed at the wand then looked at Harry with wide eyes.

"The Elder Wand Harry…you told Dumbledore's portrait you were going to put it back where it came from?"

Harry gave her a quizzical look then glanced at his pocket. He nodded.

"Yah, I did…and I will."

Hermione still looked frightened. Ron was looking back and forth between them in confusion. He then looked at Harry and shrugged.

"I still think you're barmy mate," Ron said matter-of-factly, "You won the wand's allegiance fair and square and you did it without killing anyone. I'll bet you're just about the first bloke in history to do that and I'd be willing to bet my whole Chocolate Frog card collection you could do just about anything with that wand."

The implications of Ron's words hit Harry like a physical blow to the chest. He pulled the Elder Wand from his pocket and held it out in front of him.

Hermione looked as if she was about to be sick.

"That's not the point Ronald. That thing is dangerous and I for one think it should be destroyed!"

She was starting to squeak. When Hermione Granger started squeaking…that was bad.

Part of Harry wanted to argue the point, it wasn't the wand itself that was dangerous but the one who wielded it, but he was much too exhausted to even try. However, as he stood there, Mr. Ollivander's words echoed in his head once again…

The wand chooses the Wizard, Mr. Potter…

If Harry was going to be honest with himself, he realized she had a point.

All three stood staring at the wand for a moment.

Harry glanced at Hermione and could see a storm of rage and indignation brewing in her eyes. She was winding up to argue her point if it came to that.

He then looked at Ron and saw unmistakable desperate longing in his eyes. It sent cold shivers down his spine.

That was enough to convince him Hermione's words rang true enough.

"No!" Harry said flatly and tucked the wand back in his pocket, "It goes back where it came from."

He turned and continued walking, not caring if they followed.

He saw, out of the corner of his eye before he turned away, the tension leaving Hermione's shoulders. He was glad. He cared very deeply for her but he didn't think he was in any condition to endure one of her lectures.

She shot Ron a glowering look of disdain before she continued down the hall in Harry's wake.

Ron simply shrugged his shoulders again as he fell in step behind his two best friends.

Hermione caught up to Harry and she placed a hand gently on his arm as they walked along.

"Harry I…I think we should put the wand back now."

Harry stopped walking again and turned to face her. Irritation flashed white-hot across his beleaguered mind until he looked into her eyes.

He saw real fear there.

He closed his eyes for a moment to stamp down his growing frustration. He knew it was fueled by his daunting fatigue. A voice in his head calmed him.

Trust her Harry…

He did. Completely, and she was the only one he did trust in that way.

If he had learned anything over the past year it was when Hermione Granger spoke, you should listen. Trusting her had saved his life more than once.

He just wished he had learned that lesson several years earlier. He wouldn't have rushed to the Department of Mysteries to save a Godfather who wasn't even there. She wouldn't have been hit with Dolohov's curse.

The guilt from that night still hung heavy in his mind. He could have gotten them all killed!

He smiled at her.

"I think you might be right. Maybe we should find Professor McGonagall. She can help us open Dumbledore's tomb. I'm not sure how I feel about doing something like that."

Hermione seemed to deflate slightly as if she had been holding her breath. She returned Harry's smile as Ron sidled up next to her.

"I don't know Harry," Hermione said sadly, "but I believe the less people who know about where this wand is, the better."

They both looked pointedly at Ron. He bristled slightly under their gazes.

"Well I'm not going to tell anyone where it is," he grumbled, "I can't believe you would even think such a thing!"

Harry and Hermione looked at one another for a moment and it was as if they had reached the same conclusion without the need for words.

Fidelius Charm!

They both thought the exact same thing at once. They continued on their way through the castle to find McGonagall.

As they got close to the Great Hall they heard talking ahead of them. When they rounded the corner of a bisecting hallway they ran into Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood.

As they neared their fellow D.A. members, Harry could see Neville still looked battered and bruised as ever, which made his big toothy grin appear quite out of place. Luna looked a bit disheveled but otherwise unharmed.

"There you three are," Luna said in her ever-present dreamy voice.

"Looking for us, were you?" Ron asked.

Neville looked at them with such reverence it made Harry a bit uncomfortable.

"Yah, we were sent to find you," Neville looked at Ron, "Your mother asked us to tell you the rest of your family is about to leave. They're taking Fred to St. Mungo's. I think they want you to go with them."

A look of deep sadness washed over Ron's features. Hermione touched Ron's arm affectionately. He reached up and patted her hand.

"Right," Ron said, "thanks Neville," he looked down at Hermione, "You coming?"

Hermione was suddenly torn. She wanted to be with Ron. She felt she should be but she also wanted to be with Harry to make curtain the Elder Wand was returned to Dumbledore's tomb and the Fidelius charm was administered properly.

Harry could see her struggling.

"Go on Hermione. I'm sure Professor McGonagall and I can handle," he glanced at Neville and Luna, "you know." He patted his pocket.

Neville's eyes grew wide as he looked at the wand sticking out of Harry's pocket.

"Is that the Death Stick Harry? Think I could take a look at it?"

Hermione blanched and Harry stiffened. Ron just rolled his eyes.

"Don't be daft Neville, that's not the Death Stick," Ron said with as much conviction as he could muster, "It got destroyed when Harry put old Voldy's lights out. Do you really think Harry would be walking about the castle with a thing like that stuck in his pocket? That's Malfoy's wand and we were taking it to Kingsley. I'm hoping it will get the little ferret faced git chucked into Azkaban for a good long holiday!"

It was just as Hermione had warned. Everyone had seen the final fight between Harry and Voldemort. Everyone had heard. She was right. The wand was nothing but trouble and he wanted to be shed of it.

Neville looked at the three of them for a moment as if deciding what Ron was telling him was the truth or not, but then he smiled at Harry.

"Good call that. I hope you're right Ron. Malfoy is a git. Kingsley's in the Great Hall with Professor McGonagall at the moment."

Harry let out a breath he wasn't even aware he was holding and the color returned to Hermione's cheeks.

Luna, however, stared at Harry for a bit longer, her brows furrowing in consternation. Harry got the uneasy feeling she could somehow sense their deception and it made him feel a bit ashamed. She reached up and lovingly stroked Neville's arm.

"Neville pulled the sword of Gryffindor from the sorting hat and killed that great serpent all by himself." Luna beamed up at him.

Neville blushed so red he looked like a bruised tomato.

Ron coughed to stifle a chuckle.

Hermione shot Ron a withering glance, then gave Neville one of her most dazzling smiles.

"Well done Neville. You're a real hero!" She stepped forward and gave Neville a hug.

"Yah, he did Luna." Harry smiled and looked at Neville, "and you're absolutely right Hermione but not just for killing the snake. The way you stood up to the Carrows here at Hogwarts and again to Voldemort last night makes me proud to call you my friend. Dumbledore once told me only a true Gryffindor could pull the sword from the Sorting Hat."

Harry held out his hand. Neville took it in his and shook it slowly. He looked as if he were on the verge of tears.

"Th…thanks Harry. That means a lot coming from you," Neville whispered.

Ron sobered immediately, turned quite red then patted his shoulder.

"Right mate! You know…like they said."

"We'd better be getting back to the Great Hall Neville," Luna said as she gave him a gentle push, "or we won't get to help."

"Help?" Ron asked.

"Yes," Luna said, "We're helping repair the damage to the school. Everyone is."

She gave Ron a look that told him he had asked a silly question as they turned to go.

"Well, I better be off as well," Ron said looking at them both, "Mum will be plenty angry if I don't go with them. Besides, I'm not sure were we're going to be staying now, what with the Burrow a mess."

Harry and Hermione looked at one-another. Neither had given Ron's predicament much thought as they were immersed in their own troubled musings.

Harry made an instant decision.

"You're all more than welcome at #12 if you need a place to stay until the Burrow is mended."

Ron smiled.

"Thanks mate! That's right kind of you. I'll tell mum and dad that…but honestly Harry, I'm not sure I could handle being yelled at every day by that barmy old hag's portrait."

He changed his voice to a rather passable imitation of Sirius' mother…

"Blood traitors, filth, scourge of the Wizarding world!"

They laughed.

"I'm sure Ginny would love the idea though."


Harry felt a sudden stab of anxiety as he thought about her.

The thought of how she had seemed to sense his presence when he passed her on the Hogwarts grounds as he made his way to what he was certain would be his demise filled him with a sense of wonder.

His tired brain couldn't seem to grasp the concept that, with the threat of impending doom that loomed over his life every moment now gone, it would be safe to resume his budding relationship with his best mate's sister.

Hermione grabbed Ron's arm and pulled him along down the hall in her usual bossy fashion.

"Come on then," she looked back at Harry, "I'll be back as soon as I can."

Harry nodded as he watched them go. They turned the corner and Harry found himself standing in a silent, deserted hallway.

He suddenly felt very much alone.

He could hear Hermione and Ron's entrance had caused quite an uproar as they entered the Great Hall.

He decided to slip his invisibility cloak over his head as he made his way in. He chose to be less conspicuous. He didn't need or want the attention.

The sights and sounds of people milling about, working to repair the damage appeared to fill the entire castle. Windows knitted back into place. The house hour glasses had been mended, large chunks of stone stacked themselves neatly back into holes that had been blasted into the walls by flying curses.

He watched as two older wizards replaced a large section of the handrail that ran along the outer edge of the floor above the grand staircase.

He saw Hermione and Ron. They were gathered at the entrance with the rest of the Weasley clan. Bill and Arthur were levitating a large wooden box out onto the castle grounds ahead of the small group.


He strained his eyes against the sunlit entrance to see if he could get a glimpse of Ginny.

He spotted her and could see she was engaged in what appeared to be a rather private conversation with Dean Thomas.

Part of him thought he should be concerned about that but in his present state, he knew he had about just enough energy left to dispose of the wand. He would worry about those things later.

He also noticed Hermione was constantly looking over her shoulder back into the Great Hall as if she were looking for someone. He had a good idea who that was.

He spied Professor McGonagall in a small group huddled by the head table. It consisted of the Deputy Headmistress, the temporary Minister Elect Kingsley Shacklebolt, Professor Slughorn, Professor Sprout and little Professor Flitwick.

As he neared the group, he picked up on their conversation. Professor McGonagall was speaking.

"…think it would be wise to position as many Aurors as possible around the grounds just to be safe. While I am confident the greatest threat has past there is always the possibility of retaliation from those who avoided capture. Besides, there are still many Dementors on the loose and until they are brought back under Ministry control I'm not willing to take any risks. Would you agree with that assessment Minister?"

Kingsley frowned deeply.

"Yes, I readily agree Minerva but please don't call me Minister. It is a title I truly feel I have no claim to and one I'm not certain I even want yet. You and I have been friends far too long for us to be so formal anyway." He smiled at her.

"Yes, well," McGonagall replied a bit rosier in the cheeks, "I'm merely attempting to follow decorum, you understand."

Kingsley gave her a reverent bow.

She looked at Professor Sprout.

"Pomona. Could you be a dear and round up as many volunteers as you can. There is much repair needed in the west wing on the second, third and fourth floors."

"Of course Headmistress," Professor Sprout nodded, spun on her heel and was off.

"I'll gather as many of my Ravenclaws as I can muck up and assist Pomona," Professor Flitwick squeaked.

"Thank you Filius," McGonagall replied wearily, "Has anyone seen Hagrid?"

"I think he went to look for that insufferable brother of his," someone said.

Kingsley gave McGonagall a significant look.

"I'll see to it my people help put his hut to right while we're patrolling."

"Thank you, Kingsley," she smiled as he turned to leave. She turned to Professor Slughorn.

"Horace. Do you feel up to checking the lower levels?"

"Certainly Headmistress," Slughorn bowed slightly, turned and was off.

Madam Pomfrey appeared from out of the small room behind the Head table.

Harry remembered that room from his fourth year when the Goblet of Fire unceremoniously spit his name out for the Tri-Wizard tournament.

"All of the injured and…deceased have been transported to St. Mungo's as per your instructions Minerva."

"Bless you Poppy. What in the world would I do without you?" McGonagall smiled at her old friend. She leaned against the edge of the Head table gripping it with both hands. The aged Headmistress suddenly looked very much like Harry felt.

"Think nothing of it Minerva," the nurse smiled warmly, "Looks like you could do with a spot of Pepper Up yourself dear."

McGonagall waved her off smiling.

"There's much to attend to Poppy. I believe Mr. Potter has been waiting for me patiently so if you'll excuse me."

Harry almost swallowed his tongue.

How in the name of Marlin's beard…

"Of course," Madam Pomfrey placed a small hand on McGonagall's shoulder then turned to leave, "I'll be in the infirmary if anyone needs me."

Professor McGonagall looked pointedly at the exact location Harry was standing completely hidden under the invisibility cloak, or so he thought.

"Follow me Mr. Potter," the Headmistress said as she made her way to the room Madam Pomfrey had just exited.

She opened the door, stood aside to allow Harry to enter then closed them both in. She plucked her wand from the folds of her robe and gave it a flick.

"I believe it is safe to come out now. No one will disturb us."

Harry slid the cloak off and looked at the old professor sheepishly.

"How did you know?"

McGonagall's eyes twinkled in the candle light.

"Even though one's eyes cannot see does not mean one's other senses cease to function properly, Mr. Potter? I take it you have a reason for your surreptitiousness?"

"Yes, Headmistress," Harry was about to pull the Elder Wand from his pocket when there came a loud bang on the door.

Professor McGonagall's eyebrows shot up as she stared at the door for a moment.

"Perhaps I was a bit premature about not being disturbed," the old witch looked perturbed, "If you'll excuse me."

McGonagall moved to the door. She waved her wand again and the door flew open.

Hermione Granger tumbled into the room, her wild mane covering her eyes as she fought to regain her balance. McGonagall regarded her with lips pursed, arms folded, peering at the intruder over the top of her tiny spectacles.

Harry wasn't surprised in the slightest. He couldn't help but chuckle. Hermione was nothing if not resourceful.

Hermione looked as if she had been caught doing something very naughty.

"I…I'm very s…sorry Headmistress but I really thought I should be here," Hermione cringed.

"Of course, Miss Granger," McGonagall flicked her wand and the door closed.

This time, however, the door glowed brightly and then quite unexpectedly disappeared all together.

"Where one goeth, so shall the others follow, much like the three blind mice, I believe," She muttered under her breath smiling slightly as she said it.

She turned back toward the two.

"Now can you please enlighten me as to what this is all about Mr. Potter and why all this clandestine behavior or should we wait for Mr. Weasley?"

He and Hermione shared a quick look as he pulled the Elder Wand from his pocket. He placed it on the table he was standing next to.

The Headmistress looked at the wand and her eyes grew large with fear and trepidation. Her hand flew to her mouth as if to stifle a scream.

"Why that's…"

"Yes," Harry said, He was about to say the Elder Wand when McGonagall's face turned red with sudden rage.


Harry was suddenly struck dumb by the Headmistresses unexpected distress.

"Wha…NO!" Harry cried.

Luckily, Hermione was much quicker on the uptake. She stepped between Harry and the Professor quickly and raised her hands.

"No, Professor," she said speaking rapidly, "you don't understand. Harry didn't remove the wand from Dumbledore's tomb. Voldemort did. This is the Elder Wand. It's often referred to in history as the Death Stick or the Wand of Destiny. Professor Dumbledore won this wand from Grindelwald all those years ago. It's one of the Deathly Hallows…"

That seemed to get the Headmistress' attention.

"One of the Deathly…? You mean …"

"Yes," Hermione cut across McGonagall, "as in the story from the Tales of Beedle the Bard. I didn't believe it at first either but the story, as it turns out is a true adaptation, although greatly embellished I'm sure, about the Peverell brothers."

"They were real wizards. Harry is a direct descendant of Ignotus Peverell. His grave is in the church yard in Godric's Hollow, the same one where the Potters and the Dumbledores are buried."

"His invisibility cloak has been handed down for generations. It's one of the Hallows as well. Professor Dumbledore didn't want the Hallows falling into the wrong hands so he gave Harry clues to find them."

"He knew Harry was the only one who could possess all three Hallows and not use them for evil. It was said the one who possessed all three Hallows would be the Master of Death!"

Hermione took a breath and gave McGonagall a moment to absorb what she had said so far. The old Headmistress looked aghast from Harry to Hermione.

Harry knew all of what Hermione said may not have been the exact line of thinking but it was bloody close enough. He also couldn't believe McGonagall did not realize this during the confrontation with Voldemort. Tom Riddle had admitted to taking the wand. He was wondering how she had missed it but that detail mattered little now.

"I think I need to sit down," she put her hand to her forehead.

Harry whipped out his own wand and conjured a chair from thin air. He placed it under the old Professor as she practically collapsed onto it.

Hermione looked at him impressed with his spell work.

"I'm really sorry Professor," Harry stammered, "I thought you knew…" It was about all he could say.

Harry had never been so glad Hermione Granger was his friend and had figured out a way to be there with him at that moment. He looked at her as if she was the most precious thing he had ever seen. She smiled and squeezed his arm. Hermione then turned back to McGonagall who seemed to be struggling to regain her usual poise and composure.

"Headmistress," Hermione asked, "how much did Professor Dumbledore tell you of what he was doing with Harry before he died?"

McGonagall was beginning to look a bit green in the candlelight. Harry and Hermione shot each other worried glances. Hermione pulled her wand and conjured a cool glass of water.

"Here, Professor."

She handed the glass to McGonagall who accepted it willingly. She nodded.

"Thank you, child."

The old Headmistress took a long drink then placed the glass on the floor beside her. She looked wearier than ever. She removed her spectacles and pinched the bridge of her nose. Looking off into the shadows of the room, she began to speak.

"I must confess I knew little of what the Headmaster was planning. I have always trusted his judgments when it came to what was best for our school or our students or the wizard world at large for that matter. I knew he was spending an inordinate amount of time with Professor Snape. Whether my exclusion from such things was intentional or that I was simply more concerned for the welfare of Hogwarts I cannot say."

She looked pointedly at Harry for a moment then continued.

"I do know he cared for you very deeply Harry. He carried an enormous amount of guilt for putting so much on someone so young…but he had faith you would prevail. He asked only that we trust you when the time came to do so. He said I would know when and, of course, he was right."

"So you're saying Albus set you on this path to keep the Dark Lord from procuring these…Deathly Hallows?"

"Professor," Harry said tiredly, "That's not even the half of it."

Harry looked at Hermione trying to get an indication from her how far he should go with this revelation.

"We might as well start from the beginning Harry. There's no reason to keep this a secret any longer, at least not from her." She waved her wand and produced two more chairs.

Harry nodded. That four-poster seemed even farther away now but he knew this was necessary if they were going to get her to help them replace the Elder Wand. So they told McGonagall everything.

From the first time Harry had realized he had a connection with Voldemort's mind to the moment he had finally understood why the Elder Wand hadn't worked for the Dark Lord the way it was supposed to, Harry and Hermione recounted all of it.

McGonagall took it much better than they had expected. She only fainted twice. Once when they told her Voldemort had split his soul into seven pieces and again when Harry told her he had an unexpected Horcrux inside of him that could only be destroyed if Voldemort killed Harry himself.

After all was said, Professor McGonagall could manage only one comment.

"What a horrible, evil creature!"

"Sums it up quite nicely I think," Harry said as he tried to rise to his feet. He was beyond exhausted now. He was becoming giddy. Hermione had to catch and steady him so he wouldn't fall on his face.

"Really Professor," she implored, "We need to replace that wand and perform the Fidelius charm. I don't think Harry can last much longer. He's been up for over twenty four hours and has been through so much."

Harry looked at Hermione and smiled.

"You've been through as much as I have."

"Yes, well," Hermione muttered, "I managed to dodge that whole getting murdered thing."

"Right," McGonagall said as she stood rather abruptly. She seemed to be invigorated by her indignation, "You're correct, of course, the fewer people who know the whereabouts of this wand, the better."

"Once we exit from this room I will place a disillusionment charm upon us so we can move freely out to the monument and take care of this once and for all."

"I also agree Ms. Granger that we should create the illusion this wand has been destroyed. I will meet with Kingsley and see to it personally the proper people are notified and covered under the Fidelius umbrella."

"I believe I still carry a small amount of weight at the Ministry." She smiled as she made her way to open the exit.

And so it was done. With the Elder Wand replaced back in the hands of Albus Dumbledore and the Fidelius charm performed to make sure it stayed there, Hermione took Harry by the hand and they made their way back toward the castle.

I can finally get some sleep!

As he looked up, he noticed they were headed out away from Hogwarts toward the gate guarded by the two winged boars.

"Where are we going Hermione? I thought you were taking me to lie down?' Harry asked quizzically through his sleepy haze.

"I am," she said smiling, patting him on the back, "not to worry."

As they passed beyond the Hogwarts boundaries, Hermione turned and gathered Harry in a tight embrace.

Oh my, Ron wouldn't like this at all!

His brain was slowly taking on the consistency of porridge.

She gave him her sweet crooked little smirk, turned on the spot and they both vanished with a loud 'POP.'

The next thing Harry knew, he was being gently laid down into his Godfather's old bed at his house at #12 Grimmuald Place. As he found himself burrowing into the comfortable mattress, he heard Hermione's soft voice.

"Hang on mister," she scolded, "not quite yet."

He felt her tugging his shirt off over his head. Next went his trainers and then his socks. He could then feel her tugging on his…


…Harry sat bolt upright just in time to see Hermione unbuttoning his trousers.

"May I ask what you're doing witch?"

"What does it look like I'm doing you dolt?" Hermione looked at him strangely, "I'm taking off your trousers."

"I can see that," Harry said in a slur, "I think I can handle that part of it," his face flushed a bright red.

"Oh, for the love of Merlin Harry," She put her hands on her hips, "you're acting like you're eleven years old."

"By the way," he asked as he gave up. He fell back on the bed and let her do as she pleased, "how did you get away from the Weasley clan?"

Harry looked down, watching as she unzipped him and begin to tug him out of his trousers. Her hair covered most of her face so he couldn't see her reaction, if she even had one.

"Lift," she said.

Harry lifted his rump off the bed as she pulled the trousers down to his knees. His body felt like it weighed a thousand tons.

It's all very clinical, being undressed by a bossy little know-it-all nightmare. I always thought being disrobed by a girl would be…erm…different.

Harry chuckled. Hermione looked up at him.

"What's so funny?" She asked.

She always looks so serious…

"Nothing really," he paused to reflect for a moment, "It's just that you're always the one stuck taking care of me when I can't seem to take care of myself."

He tried to read her face as she finally extracted his legs from his worn out Dudley hand-me-downs. He could have sworn he caught a glimpse of a smile but his vision had gone blurry, even with his glasses on so he couldn't be sure. It could have been a grimace.

"Someone has to Harry," he heard her whisper, or had she said it at all. Maybe he was imagining it. He was so tired.

He was then suddenly struck with a terrible thought.

"What am I going to do when you're not around any more?"

That was what he wanted to say but he wasn't sure it had come out right. He had lost control of his mouth as well.

Harry could no longer keep his eyes open as he felt blankets being pulled up to his chin. The warmth and softness of the bed took him.

Just before he lost consciousness, he thought he heard Hermione say something.

"I told them I had more important things to do and I will always be around to take care of you, you git, now go to sleep," she reached up and slid his glasses from his face and placed them on the small, spindly legged table beside the bed, "Besides, you'll have Ginny."


He felt soft, warm lips being pressed on his forehead right over the lighting bolt shaped scar just before total blackness claimed him.