Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Harry stood over the fallen body of the man who had caused so much suffering in his life. He looked down at the open lifeless red eyes that stared at nothing. Harry couldn't believe he'd won. All fighting had ceased around him as Voldemort had collapsed. Most Death Eaters were surrendering; some who had been truly imperiused dropped their wands and collapsed in tears as they remembered what they had been forced to do.
Harry felt someone rush to him and wrap their arms around him. "Harry you did it!" Hermione yelled.
He turned and looked at his friend and smiled. He wrapped his arm around her in a returned hug and answered. "No, we did it!"
They both looked back down at Voldemort's body. "I can't believe it ended that way. His curse just bounced back on him," Hermione commented. "I mean his own curse killed him."
Harry's eyes widened as they shot up and looked at his friend. "It bounced...back," He whispered as he looked back down at the Elder Wand he'd just caught. "It didn't happen...it wasn't by my hand," Harry's eyes lost focus for a second and then a look of rage appeared on his face as he screamed "DAMN HIM!"
"What?" Hermione asked, startled by her friend's outburst.
"DAMN HIM!" Harry repeated as he turned and sprinted out of the Great Hall. Hermione tried to keep up but Harry Potter was on a mission of rage and he left her way behind.
Harry passed the overturn Gargoyle and pounded up the steps to the Headmaster's office. The door was closed, but he didn't even bother to check to see if it was unlocked. A "REDUCTO!" from the Elder Wand reduced it to dust. He only stopped when he was standing in front of the portrait of Albus Dumbledore.
Around the room all the portraits were yelling in celebration as word had spread rapidly through the castle. Albus looked down at the young man before him. Tears were sliding past the half moon glasses and into the long white beard. "I'm so proud.." the portrait started.
"DAMN YOU!" Harry shouted and every portrait in the office instantly fell silent. "DAMN YOU TO HELL!"
The portrait of Albus Dumbledore looked shocked. "Why? This is a time of celebration…"
"SHUT UP!" Harry yelled.
"Harry, what's going on?" the breathless voice of Hermione called from behind him.
"Yeah mate," Ron added also sounding a bit out of breath.
Harry kept staring at the Portrait in front of him. "YOU LIED TO ME!" and before the portrait could respond he continued. "Either must die at the hand of the other…do you recognize those words?" He asked in a low dangerous voice.
"Of course Harry.."
"HE DIDN"T DIE BY MY HAND!" Harry's voice was filled anger. "The prophecy was wrong," Some small expression by the portrait caught Harry's eye and for some reason Harry instantly knew what had happened.
"You bastard," Harry said. "If you weren't dead, I'd kill you a dozen times over for what you've done."
"Harry…Harry," Hermione was trying to get his attention.
Harry turned and looked at Hermione causing her to take a step back. The rage that filled Harry's eyes made the green as dark as she had ever seen them.
That step back and the concern Harry saw in Hermione's eyes soothed something inside of him. As he found the eyes of his friend upon him, the friend who'd been with him every step of the way, the rage lessened. Without the horcrux sucking life from his soul he could feel the emotions that had been buried all along. He barely noticed that Ginny had followed and now was in the room as well. Slowly, as he locked eyes with Hermione the rage drained away until finally, emotionally spent, he collapsed heavily into a chair.
For several seconds he sat there with his face buried in his hands. Finally he looked again at Hermione. His eyes were now filled with fatigue and tears. He swallowed hard but finally found words again. "It was a lie. It was ALL a lie," He explained in a choked voice as he saw the faces of the dead before him. Lupin and Tonks laying side by side along with Fred and Colin Creevey. The numerous bodies of the people who had been killed that night. "It was all a lie," He repeated.
"What was a lie?" Hermione asked as she knelt beside Harry.
Harry turned his gaze from Hermione as he looked back at the portrait behind the Headmaster's desk. As he stared at Albus Dumbledore the tears faded away to be replaced with the anger he felt for the Wizard. "Wasn't it Albus? You lied to the world didn't you? You manipulated me, my friends, Voldemort, the whole damn Wizarding World."
Tears had stopped flowing down the former Headmaster's face in the portrait but he stilled answered in his grandfatherly voice. "Whatever do you mean my dear boy?"
"Shove it you old goat," Harry snarled. "You know exactly what I mean. There never was a prophecy was there? Not a real one anyway."
"Harry?" Hermione asked as she glanced between the portrait and her friend. "What do you mean?"
"The damn prophecy Hermione. Don't you see? Voldemort did not die by my hand as it said he would."
"Of course he did..I mean.." Hermione started but Harry cut her off.
"In our fourth year when Draco and I exchanged spells and you were hit, did I hex you or did Draco?"
"Draco of course but..."
"But Draco's hex bounced off my spell," Harry explained. "Same as just now. You said it yourself, VOLDEMORT WAS KILLED BY HIS OWN CURSE!" He paused for a couple of seconds before continuing. "If his curse had hit a Death Eater, wouldn't it have been Voldemort who killed him?"
"Then Voldemort died by his own curse, not my spell, it was his. I did not kill him by my own hand."
Hermione's hand shot to her mouth as she realized what Harry was explaining.
"Would you care to explain that Albus?" Harry asked.
"What does it matter Harry?" Ron interjected. "You-Know-Who's dead."
"Damn it Ron, can't you call him Voldemort even now?" Harry snarled at his friend. "I mean he's laying dead in the hall downstairs."
Ron's face turned blood red as he looked at the floor and muttered something.
Harry had already turned back to the portrait. "I'm still waiting."
"I really do not know what you mean," Dumbledore replied airily.
"Excuse me," A Scottish accented voice said from behind them. "Am I to understand you think Dumbledore lied to you?"
Everyone turned to look at the door where Professor McGonagall was standing.
"YES!" Harry raged. "He..."
"Well it's easy enough to verify Mr. Potter," McGonagall said, cutting off the angry young man. She turned to the Portrait. "Dumbledore you are to answer all questions from Mr. Potter or his friends as if they are coming from me. I was just named Headmistress by Shacklebolt who is representing the Ministry at the moment," She looked at Harry and his friends and explained. "The portraits are required by the magic which creates them to always answer truthfully to the residing Headmaster or Headmistress. It is the only way we can ensure we can trust the advice they give," She looked over at a particular portrait. "Right Phineas?"
The portrait of Phineas Nigellus looked totally uncaring but finally answered. "Of course Headmistress."
All eyes had turned back to Dumbledore who now had a look of outrage but said nothing.
"Well Dumbledore?" Harry asked. "Tell us the truth now."
The all familiar twinkling was gone from Dumbledore's eyes. The blue eyes now were harder, piercing. "If you insist," He replied finally with a shrug. "It is all done now, my master plan fulfilled," The portrait of Dumbledore sat down in the chair and smiled. "You all know about my interview with Trelawney all those years ago?" When the four young teenagers nodded he continued. "The prophecy she spat out when I was about to leave was obviously a fake. An attempt to convince me that she in fact did possess an inner eye."
"FAKE!" Hermione yelled this time.
"Yes it was a fake," Dumbledore replied. "I paid it no attention until I found out later that Severus had overheard some of it and reported it to Voldemort. I couldn't believe that the intelligent young man I use to know as Tom Riddle would believe such triviality, but he did and a plan formed. It was simple enough. Find a child that matched the vague wording of the prophecy and use he or she as a trap. It had to be someone born in July and I quickly had two likely candidates. Both Lily Potter and Alice Longbottom were pregnant. Though both were due in August, that really didn't matter. A few potions insured both mothers had earlier than expected deliveries. They never noticed a thing of course. Then when both you and Neville were born, I had another decision to make. Which one to send Voldemort after. It was an easy enough decision and I made sure Riddle targeted the Potters or more specifically you Harry."
"Why?" Hermione asked.
"The Longbottoms were both Aurors and well placed in the Ministry, not to mention excellent fighters and loyal to the cause while those damn Marauders wouldn't stop their stupid idiotic pranks. Every time I turned around my robes were pink or my beard was green. They were more of a pain than useful."
"You Bastard!" Harry snarled. "You set my parents up to die."
"Call me what you will, but I shall go down as the greatest Wizard of them all," Dumbledore replied and then he shrugged. "Of course I did. I leaked word the you were showing great power and Voldemort snatched up the information and decided to attack you just as I knew he would."
"But...but you suggested the Fidelius," Hermione argued confused.
"Ah yes, one of my more brilliant ideas if I must say so myself," Dumbledore replied as he smiled over his half moon glasses. "The Potters were very adept at avoiding Voldemort and I was growing annoyed with the delay. So I suggested a spell that sounded like the perfect solution but had a flaw that was way to easy to exploit."
"What do you mean?"
"What happened to Grimmauld place when I died? Who became the Secret Keeper?"
"Everyone who held the secret became...*"
"Exactly. I knew Peter was a Death Eater, but I thought for sure Sirius would be Secret Keeper. I just planned to ensure he had an early demise as soon as he told Peter the secret. Peter then would be a secret keeper and Voldemort would have his way to your parents. But I didn't even need to do that. Your parents, being the idiots they were, decided to pull another prank. Hardly surprising."
Rage showed on Harry's face at the pure lack of care in the portrait's voice.
"What about me?" Harry asked. "What happened that night."
"Your bleeding heart of a mother happened," Dumbledore replied testily. "Though I guess I should be somewhat grateful. I expected Voldemort to kill your parents of course, then kill you. I was in the room in fact when he cast that killing curse."
"WHAT?" Harry yelled as he rose rapidly from his seat.
"I had your father's cloak for quite some time so I knew the secret to seeing people under it, Voldemort never had that chance. I was under the cloak that night and watched impatiently as Lily begged for your life, I didn't expect it to amount to much. I almost killed her myself to stop that screeching. But then it happened, I could not believe it when the killing curse backfired on Voldemort. I watched in stunned disbelief as his body disintegrated and his disembodied essence fled. I had planned on killing him right after he killed you, the same old 'I arrived just a second too late story' you know. Of course I still planned on taking the credit as soon as I dropped you off somewhere."
"What happened? Why didn't you?" Hermione asked.
"That stupid oaf of a half-giant. He couldn't do a simple thing like take a child and transport him to Privet Dr. He stopped at a bar and started blabbing on and on about the Potters being killed and you surviving. Surprisingly enough the stories that came from that were pretty much accurate, the people started giving Harry the credit for killing Voldemort and all of my plans laid in ruins."
Harry just continued to stare and seethe. Hermione closed the distance and put her arms around her friend.
"How do you think I know what happened that night Harry? How the magical world found out so quickly?" The portrait asked. "But to continue the story, I wanted you out of the way. With Voldemort banished, I planned on building up my reputation again. I actually had no intention of ever bringing you into the magical world. All I needed was the boy-who-lived taking away from my fame."
If Hermione hadn't squeezed his shoulder right then, Harry would have blasted the portrait to smithereens. "Why did you bring me back to the magical world then?"
"The Horcruxes. I finally figured out about them and knew Voldemort would return someday, so I needed the prophecy again and a perfect dupe to go get killed by Voldemort. But then you showed up all beaten down and meek," Dumbledore explained. "I realized I needed to get your confidence up. Confident but ignorant. I first set you up with the Weasleys. I knew Ron would hold you back from learning anything useful in class. Not that there are many teachers in this school who are actually competent."
Harry and Hermione both turned and looked at Ron who just had a blank look on his face. Ginny had a confused look on hers.
"I grew worried about Miss Granger though. She was just a bit too clever and you were the only person not ignoring her," Dumbledore continued. "When Quirrell let the troll in on that Halloween, I took the opportunity to lead it toward that bathroom I knew she was in."
"You tried to kill Hermione?"
"Kill or maim enough to send her home," Dumbledore replied with a wave of his hand. "It didn't matter either way to me."
Harry looked over at Hermione and saw the cold look that now rested in her eyes.
"But of course I didn't count on your stupidity," Dumbledore continued to Harry. "How was I to imagine that you would go chasing after a troll three times your size. Nonetheless, there you were hanging onto it's back and I still needed you. So I had to take out the troll..."
"Ron did that," Hermione argued.
Dumbledore's portrait laughed. "Weasley almost put out his own eye flailing his wand around. I just used his motions to cover my own silent levitation spell and knocked the troll out. Of course my plan backfired and you grew closer to Miss Granger because of the incident. Fortunately you kept to Mr. Weasley's study habits."
Harry looked at Hermione and saw her looking back. He mouthed an "I'm sorry," to her and she nodded in return. Then to Dumbledore's portrait. "What happened then?"
"I needed you to have a reason to fight, a purpose you might say," Dumbledore explained. "So I guided you to the Mirror of Erised. I wanted you to take up the battle your parents fought and be willing to die just like they did. So I let you go back night after night until I was sure you were hooked and then I took it away. Now I had started you on the path of the right mind-set. Your parents were dead, but there they were in a mirror. Dying wasn't such a bad thing was it?"
Harry was about to retort but Hermione gave him another squeeze and whispered, "Let him continue. Let's find out the whole story."
Harry turned and again her eyes showed the concern she had for him. Harry swallowed again and nodded before turning back to the portrait. "And then?"
"I noticed your behavior around Quirrell, especially the pain with your scar and a suspicion developed. That suspicion proved to be true in that you had a piece of Voldemort's soul in you. It wasn't a big concern since I planned on you dying anyway but it did make me hesitate."
"The GREAT Dumbledore had to hesitate?" Harry quipped.
Dumbledore shrugged again. "As I said you were to die anyway, I just needed time to make sure it didn't effect my plans. Of course you were doing your best to thwarts those in your obvious stupidity. I mean how obvious of clues did I have to leave to get you to chase after the stone? Finally though everything was set and I was ready for you to have your confrontation with Voldemort. I did, of course have to change out the traps the professors had set. Couldn't have you dying too soon now could I?"
"You...you changed out the traps? What was there before?" Hermione asked as her curiosity overtook her.
"The Devil's Snare was there but it was intermixed with Sol Mors Mortis," Dumbledore explained.
Hermione gasped as her eyes flew open wide.
"What it that?" Harry asked.
"Death by sunlight," Hermione explained. "Or Sun Death. It's a plant that grows in the darkest caves and if introduced to sunlight it shoots out poisonous thorns. Kills almost instantly."
"Exactly. A person gets caught in the Devils snare to which the obvious defense is to cast a sunlight spell. They would set the Sol Mors Mortis off and the intruders dies instantly. There are more difficult light spells that Devil's Snare does not like, but will not trigger the Sun Death plants," Albus explained. "Then of course the keys were suppose to be more of diversion. The broom was hexed to immediately go to top speed and crash into the ceiling. Even if that didn't kill you, the fall probably would have."
"You had to cast freezing charms as the keys came close, eventually you would get the right one without touching the broom."
"Oh.." Harry muttered as he remembered how Hermione had frozen the pixies in their second year.
"Then there was the chess set. I was almost embarrassed by it, but I had to find something Weasley was good at, and that was about the extent of his abilities. Originally Minerva had the whole floor transfigured into a multitude of hidden traps including animals, pits and other things."
"It was the same. I knew Quirrell would be ahead of you and I wanted his trap to be the same or he might get suspicious," Albus explained. "I was sure he'd leave it unconscious or dead."
"What...what about the potions?" Hermione asked nervously.
"ALL of the bottle were originally filled with Draught of Living Death, the clue was only there to induce intruders into drinking one of them. You had to know to bring the flame-freeze potion with you to get through."
"Why not? I wanted another confrontation between you and Voldemort. I didn't really go to London, no I was there following you. I wanted to know if Riddle would mention his horcruxes, but to my disappointment they never came up"
"Sorry," Harry replied sarcastically.
"Oh that's quite alright. The reaction Quirrell had from touching you was well worth it."
"What about the Chamber?" Harry asked.
"I, of course knew about the horcrux in the possession of Ginny and about the Basilisk, but again I wanted to know if this Horcrux would provide clues to other ones," Dumbledore explained. "I actually made a mistake that year, but fortunately it passed unnoticed."
"A mistake?" Hermione asked. "You admit you made a mistake."
"It was small and as I said, it went unnoticed. You see I almost gave away the fact I knew about the Chamber to Minerva when Creevey was petrified."
"How so?" Harry asked.
"I slipped and told her that the Chamber had indeed been opened. Now if I didn't believe there was a Chamber and didn't know what the monster was in it, how could I have known what the petrification meant? Fortunately, though you're a pretty decent teacher Minerva, you're not very smart at figuring things out."
Every eye in the room turned to Minerva who was blood red in anger herself now.
"But what about Ginny?"
"What about her?" Dumbledore asked. "Stupid child shouldn't have been throwing herself into a book she knew nothing about. If she died, it was no big deal."
Harry turned and looked at Ginny who was a bit green in the face.
"But...you sent Fawkes," Harry exclaimed when he turned back to the portrait.
"To SAVE you, you idiotic boy," Dumbledore replied. "Again I underestimated your stupidity. I didn't expect you to take on a Basilisk by yourself. I expected you to go to a professor. But you were there so I had to do something. I told the hat to tell you to forget the girl and escape with Fawkes," Dumbledore said. "Blasted bird and hat. Some kind of enchantment in the Chamber stopped my influence over them and they helped you defeat the Basilisk. Worst yet you DESTROYED the horcrux. Any chances of using it to find the others was gone. At least as soon as Fawkes left the Chamber my control was reasserted."
"You were controlling Fawkes?"
"Of course," Dumbledore replied. "He was a most useful creature, though incredibly annoying."
Harry remembered the scarlet and gold majestic bird and his anger grew.
"Then of course Sirius escaped. Damn the ministry," Dumbledore said. "I knew he was innocent, but didn't need him giving you advice. All I needed was you starting to act like your father."
"But you let us save him."
"I had to," Dumbledore grumbled. "I already noticed with the events that had unfolded with Buckbeak and the Dementors that you must be back in time with your time turner Miss Granger. My guess is the first time around you thought of it, so I made sure I suggested it so I could take the credit for it. Otherwise he might have got out from my influence. Thankfully Bellatrix took care of that irritant."
Harry glared at the portrait as he remembered his godfather.
"Then there was the that fourth year when everything started coming together," Dumbledore continued as he ignored the look Harry was sending his way. "I realized Crouch was Moody from the very beginning of course. I mean true paranoia is just too difficult to fake. Besides, I'd know Alastor too many years to not notice. I watched as he tried to guide you through the challenges of the Triwizard knowing some how he was trying to get you to Voldemort. I thought he was going to have a coronary when you didn't first appear for the second task. He kept stomping around and looking toward the castle," The portrait chuckled at the memory. "Of course I was concerned when your friendship with Weasley seemed to suffer. I was worried that if you ever started telling Miss Granger everything, she'd see through my manipulations very quickly. I was relieved when Weasley came rushing back to you when you did so well after the first task. It was obvious to me that he realized that you would have the fame with or without him, and it was better to have your coattails than be a nobody," He nodded toward Ron. "Even now he's probably thinking about getting his own Chocolate Frog card than what we are talking about."
All eyes again turned toward Ron whose face had turned red. "What? I deserve a Chocolate Frog card," He said.
Hermione rolled her eyes as she wondered what in the world she thought she saw in him.
"I was still concerned about Miss Granger though," Dumbledore continued. "The time you two spent together away from Weasley concerned me. If you two grew closer and you started telling her all of your secrets...I knew I had to stop it. I feared you'd ask her to the Yule Ball starting something I could not let happen. So the right potions and an imperius curse and I had Krum chasing after her. I swear that young man has the weakest mind I've ever seen outside of Mr. Weasley."
Hermione was ready to rip the portrait from the wall now. "Come now Miss Granger. Krum could have had his choice of dates. Did you really think he was interested in you?"
"But he wrote letters to me after he left."
"Hmm.. well as I said, his mind was not the strongest. After two imperius in a single year, it might have had long lasting effects."
Harry remembered that he really didn't show the same enthusiasm for Hermione at Fleur and Bill's wedding that she had for him. In fact he had been looking at all the girls and mentioning his fame. He lean over to Hermione and whispered. "It's alright. I think you are very beautiful. In fact you were the most beautiful girl at the ball."
Hermione mouth stopped in mid opening as she had planned on retorting to Dumbledore. She turned and looked at Harry strangely, but he'd already turned back to the portrait.
"Then the third task happened," Dumbledore continued. "I have to admit that Voldemort fooled me there. I expected Crouch to try to whisk you away and I had tracking locations on him. The idea of Portkeying you to another location never crossed my brilliant mind. I really had no idea you'd left Hogwarts until you showed up with the dead body of Mr. Diggory. Now it was worse than ever, Voldemort had returned and I still had no leads on the Horcruxes. But at least no one believed you. All I would have needed was the magical world fawning over you like they did when you were a baby."
Harry's hand twitched around the Elder Wand.
"So I locked you back away with your Aunt and Uncle. The order had strict orders to keep everyone away of course. They thought it was more for your own protection," Dumbledore paused. He rearranged his lurid robes before continuing. "The fifth year was a disaster, but I think it more than proved my point about allowing you and Miss Granger to get close. I could not believe you trained those students under my nose."
"It's a large nose," Hermione snarled. Harry looked over and smiled.
Dumbledore's portrait ignored the insult and continued. "But then I found out you had named the organization after me and I knew I would be given credit for it as well. Then of course the Ministry happened. Thestrals? You know if you had landed the damn things and called for the Knight Bus you might have gotten there a little faster," The portrait rolled his eyes. "Kids," He then looked back at the teens and Headmistress. "Severus and I waited for hours waiting for you to get to the Ministry. I was positive that the Death Eaters wouldn't kill Harry so I just needed to make sure the Order and I showed up at the appropriate time to get the credit for the rescue."
"What about my friends?" Harry asked.
"Their lives meant nothing to my plan," Dumbledore explained. "I was hoping one or two of them would die. More to blame on Voldemort. Innocent children killed. The public would be swarming back to me. I, of course showed up at the perfect time and took all the credit for Voldemort after I sent you back to the school."
"What happened then?" Hermione asked. "How did the great Albus Dumbledore get taken down by a ring?"
"Why am I now believing that it has nothing to do with seeing your sister?" Harry asked.
"Of course it didn't," Dumbledore replied. "The Horcruxes were everything. They were the path to my immortality."
Harry's face shot up quickly in shock.
"No, not that type of immortality. I had no desire to live like Riddle did. No, I'm talking about the type that Merlin has. To be the one who killed the immortal Voldemort would make me as famous as he is. Never to be forgotten in history," The look on the portrait's face showed pride and arrogance. "I thought I had a spell that would show the links between that Horcrux and the others telling me where they all were. When I cast it, a protection spell Voldemort had put on the ring reflected back and caused the withering to occur."
"I needed you to carry on in my name of course," Dumbledore replied. "Though I couldn't spend too much time showing you the memories of Riddle because I spent a lot of the time trying to find a cure for my disease. But finally that night did occur. Severus assured me I had less than a week left, so I finally let Draco fix the cabinet so I could go out in my blaze of glory."
"What do you mean you let Draco fix the cabinet?" Hermione asked. "You knew what he was doing?"
"Of course," Dumbledore replied. "I had to delay his attempt for a full year or Severus' vow would have kicked in."
"But I saw you..." Harry started.
Dumbledore smiled. "Ah yes and you told everyone how I wanted to spare a young man's life only to have mine taken by a betraying Death Eater. Thank you, that plan worked brilliantly."
"Is that why you left us all of those things then?" Hermione asked. "So we'd give you all the credit?'
"What do you mean? the only thing that really mattered was the snitch. The other stuff were decoys."
"But the symbol that you wrote in the book?"
"What symbol?" Dumbledore questioned.
"The Hallows symbol in the book you left me," Hermione replied.
Dumbledore frowned as he thought. "Oh Grindelwald must have wrote that in there," He replied finally. "He's the one who gave it to me."
"What about the Deluminator?" Harry asked. "It helped Ron find his way back to us."
"How? It was never designed...Oh... you mean no one removed the tracking charms I had on you tied to that thing?" Dumbledore asked. "He must have tripped one of those accidentally."
"So what was so important about the snitch?" Harry asked. "I know it had the Resurrection Stone in it. But it only opened when I was thought I was going to die."
The portrait painting of Dumbledore turned ashened. "You...you didn't open it until tonight?" Dumbledore's color cycled to a more reddish color as anger came over his features. "You stupidity knows no bound does it? Your death? You thought it was to open on your death?"
"That's what it said, I open at the close."
"THE CLOSE OF MY LIFE!" Dumbledore screamed. "YOU WERE SUPPOSE TO CALL ME BACK TO GUIDE YOU! The snitch was charmed to open when you touched it with you mouth and said any word associated with death."
"How was I supposed to know that?" Harry asked. "We did the best we could stuck in that damn tent all year."
"Tent?" Dumbledore asked. "Why were you in a tent? You have twenty million galleons in your bank account Harry and that's not even including the Black money. You could have stayed in the finest hotels in England. Riddle would never have looked for you there."
"Twenty million galleons?" Harry asked. "I never knew..."
"Of course not, I couldn't let you know you were that rich or you might have used it to leave Hog..."
"WHAM!" Both Harry and Hermione looked at each other as they each lowered their wands. They had both lost their patience at the same time and where the Portrait of Albus Dumbledore had hung a black smoking hole existed.
"I've had it," Harry replied. "I've had it with the entire wizarding world." He turned to McGonagall. "Ma'am, this whole magical country is nuts as far as I can tell," He turned and started for the door.
"Harry wait," Hermione called. "Where are you going."
"I'm going to Gringotts and see if I can get any gold, then I'm leaving this country."
"You are doing no such thing!" Ginny said as she finally came to her senses. "I don't care what the bloody portrait said. You are my boyfriend and you are going to march downstairs and take the credit." Ginny got a far off look as she continued. "Then you and I are going to go get married and... Harry...Harry where did you go?"
Harry and Hermione disappeared down the steps under the invisibility cloak. As they neared the front door Hermione stopped Harry. "Harry wait a minute."
Hermione looked nervously into Harry's green eyes and asked "Do you really think I'm beautiful?"
Harry found himself looking into Hermione almond coloured eyes as he answered. "More beautiful than anything in the world."
Hermione found herself lost in those eyes. The same one she remembered from years previous from a boy on the back of a troll telling her to run. She swallowed hard as she decided to take a chance. Steeling herself she leaned in and her lips found Harry's. The kiss started lightly, testing and when she found acceptance it then deepened. When finally they separated Harry had a stunned look in his eyes. Hermione stared nervously at her best friend hoping she had read the situation correctly. Finally the stunned looked left Harry's eyes and a smile appeared. This time he initiated the kiss.
"How about we go find your parents," Harry finally replied.
"I always thought a man is suppose to ask a lady's parents if he wants to marry her."
*** E E ***
The trip to the bank was most enlightening. Harry and Hermione met with Ragnok personally to negotiate the damages they had been done to the bank. Once Ragnok informed Harry his fortune was closer to forty million galleon, they quickly agreed to a five million galleon damage agreement. Once Harry had converted a substantial amount of galleons into muggle currency they were ready to depart.
As the were preparing to leave, Ragnok said. "There is a curious note in your records Mr. Potter. It was placed here by Miss Granger in fact."
"What? But I've never been..I mean I've only exchanged money here."
Ragnok touched a spot on his desk and various numbers and words appeared above it similar to what Dumbledore's pensieve did. "Actually Miss Granger you opened a Vault last summer and at that time you requested this note to be added."
"What does the note say?" Harry asked.
"It says simply that if either you or Miss Granger shows up at the Bank after the death of the Dark Lord you are to be told of the Vault that was opened."
Hermione still had a puzzled look on her face as she looked at Harry.
"Shall we go see it then?" Ragnok asked. When Harry and Hermione nodded, Ragnok personally took them to the Vault. The ride to the chambers was uneventful, at least in comparison to their last entry to the lower catacombs. Ragnok himself open the vault and Harry and Hermione entered. In the center of the small room was a pensieve and a single vial of silvery substance. Obviously a memory.
Hermione quickly poured the memory into the pensieve and then looking at Harry, she took his hand they entered it together. As their feet landed, they found themselves looking at another Hermione who appeared to be a year younger.
"Hello my future self," The memory Hermione said. "I'm hoping we did what we had to do and you came to the bank with Harry to exchange money to go look for our parents."
Present Hermione only nodded at the past Hermione. "You or I should say I made an elaborate plan to protect them. I plan on making myself think they are in Australia using the name Wendell and Monica Wilkens, but that is only because I fear I might be captured. You and I know we'd never betray Harry, but they could be used against us. You know Harry would sacrifice himself for them if he thought he had to. Now if it's time to go get them, you need to know you never changed their memories. They agreed to leave and are currently residing in a city in the United States. Look for them in Orlando Florida. You remember us going to Disney World when we were eight?"
Again the present Hermione nodded at the past Hermione who of course could not see her.
"This was the final layer of protection. Just in case you are not my future self, I made this final plan. Under this bowl is a puzzle of facts only you and I would know. Solve it and you'll have the phone number you must call. You will need to go to the hotel we stayed in when we visited and use the phone from the lobby there. Our parents will only believe you if you are calling from that number. Finally you are to tell them the first thing you told them when you came home for Christmas our first year at Hogwarts."
Hermione had tears flowing down her face. She quickly found herself engulfed in Harry's arms."I..I didn't wipe their memories." She sobbed happily into his shoulder.
It was several minutes before Ragnok cleared his throat."Mr. Potter. Miss Granger. Can we go now?"
"Yes, of course. Thank you Ragnok."
A day later after travel documents were created for them by the Goblins, Harry and Hermione found themselves on a British Airways flight for Australia. They didn't want to be followed and since Ron would have told everyone where they were headed, they acted like that was exactly what they planned to do. But when they had a layover in Singapore, they changed airlines and flew to Los Angeles and then on to Tampa Florida. From there they took a bus to Orlando.
"So what was the first thing you told your parents that Christmas?" Harry asked as the bus neared Orlando.
Hermione's cheeks turned very red as she muttered something very softly.
"I'm sorry. I didn't hear that," Harry said.
Hermione turned and looked Harry in the eyes. "I told them that I wanted to marry Harry Potter when I was old enough."
Harry's eyebrow rose in question.
"I was bloody twelve years old and you had just saved my life Harry."
"And now?" Harry asked.
"Well you said something about talking to my parents didn't you? I guess you'll have to wait until you ask the question properly want you?" Hermione replied with a smile before she turned back to the book she was reading.
*** E E ***
Based on Ron's reluctant information, teams of Aurors and newspaper reporters swarmed Australia in search of the Hero of the wizarding world. No one paid any attention when Andromeda Tonks and little Teddy Lupin left their home a few months later to 'get away from the crowds'. Nor did anyone think it strange when Luna Lovegood announced she was heading out of the country in search of Crumpled Horned Snorkacks about the same time, though a few people wondered when Neville Longbottom agreed to go with her.
*** E E ***
Fourteen years later a very tired Minerva McGonagall was returning from another magical introduction to a muggleborn family. Though she was still Headmistress, she still enjoyed doing the little things as well. As she entered her office she found herself staring at a thirty year old ebony haired man standing beside a brown haired young lady. Another young couple stood over beside them. In front of both pairs of adults were two children.
"Potter?" Minerva asked. "Is it really you?"
"Hello Minerva," Harry replied.
"Mrs. Potter actually, it's been a long time Professor."
"Yes Ma'am and you know my wife Luna."
The aging Scottish lady made her way to her desk and sat down heavily. Her eyes never leaving the adults. "What happened to you? They looked all over Australia and Europe for you."
"We didn't want to be found," Hermione replied. "The people who mattered we let them know of course. Andromeda lives very close to us in fact."
"Why not me?"
"We were extremely disappointed when you didn't tell the real story all those years ago," Hermione replied.
"Shacklebolt wouldn't believe me, no one believed me," McGonagall explained. "Ronald Weasley even denied it. He took all the credit for what you did. Then of course you know he died the follow year. The gold from the endorsements went to his head. They found him with three street-witches, six bottles of firewhiskey and some other illegal potions."
"We read something about that," Harry said. "Didn't surprise us."
"Your children?" McGonagall asked waving toward the youngsters.
"Yes," Hermione said. "This one." she put her hand on a young boy with curly brown hair and green eyes. "Is James Michael Potter and he's nine."
"And my princess," Harry said as he swept the black haired girl into his arms. "Is five year old Lily Ursula Potter."
"Daddy..." the little girl squealed in delight.
Minerva looked over at Neville. "Our oldest," He motioned to a girl who was the splitting image of Luna. "Is Celine Alice Longbottom after Luna's and my mother and this one," He picked up his littlest one who had hair that matched his. "Is Susan Hermione Longbottom. Of course she gets her middle name after her godmother."
"Are you back?" Minerva asked.
"Ma'am, you still have Binns teaching history, the Malfoys still haven't been punished for their crimes and there is a bloody statue of Dumbledore in Diagon Alley," Harry replied. "If it wasn't for wanting to see a few old friends, I wouldn't be anywhere near this country."
"Used to be a statue love," Hermione reminded him.
"Yeah that's right," Harry said. "Used to be a statue of Dumbledore."
"What do you mean used to be?"
"Well we'll call it accidental magic," Harry said as he looked at his wife.
"Yes it was very accidental," She agreed. "I mean it was clearly an accident when you hit it with the blasting hex right?"
"Clearly it was."
"Was my taking a piss on the rubble an accident as well?" Neville asked.
"Neville, the children," Luna said. She looked at the two girls and said. "He meant urinate girls. When he urinated on the rubble of that evil man's statue."
"Here," Hermione said, handing Minerva a book. "This is going on sale tomorrow. It's a full accounting of everything Dumbledore did. I finally found a technique that allows memories to be displayed in a book like a Pensieve. In the middle of the book is Dumbledore's full confession."
They spoke for a few more minutes before the Potters and Longbottoms left.
As they left her office, Minerva McGonagall thought back to those years long gone and she had to admit that she was at fault. After her initial protest, she'd went along with the crowds, doing what was easy instead of what was right. Though tired, she looked over at the clock and then got up and left her office in search of her current ghost of a History Professor. She knew they had been right and it was time for a change. It was time for her to do what was right.
* As stated in book seven. This has GOT to be the worst spell for protection in the history of magic.