Chapter 36: Fresh out of Horcruces
After Voldemort dropped the killing curse on Harry and he dropped like a stone there was a shocked silence; and then a commotion.
Aurors and professors and older students poured out.
"Idiots" said David.
"No" said Dudley "They get to keep him guessing I think; you and me and our best shots can still pick off individuals, right?"
"Right" said David. "Oh look, here comes the ministry representative."
"And Pukey Percy" said Colin Weasley.
Percy Weasley was indeed half falling off his broom as he arrived beside Pius Thicknesse; then he turned and fired a jinx into the Minister's chest.
"AND BY THE WAY I RESIGN!" he cried "RON! WHERE ARE YOU?"
"RIGHT HERE!" Ron yelled. Fred and George were with him, having turned up through the room of requirements; and Ginny was busy avoiding her parents who had also arrived.
Fully two thirds of Voldemort's troops lay dead from the swingeing onslaught of the silver magical bullets; more were dying as Dudley Dursley and David Fraser set faced and concentrating fired again and again, their young bodyguard casting protego spells almost constantly as the deatheaters started to identify the source of the death from above.
Severus and Krait led the counter attack; and Krait shrugged negligently into the form of a Basilisk again, wrapping her unborn child in an egg as she had done with Lilith, her form making her immune to magic and her glance literally petrifying. She ignored her father. It was Nagini she was after, chasing the snake to sink poisoned fangs into the last horcrux.
He howled with frustration as his killing curse bounced off her; and turned his attentions to Severus and Lucius who dodged and parried.
"Voldemort" said a voice beside him.
He turned quickly.
It was Harry.
"Nagini dies" said Harry. "Last Horcrux old boy. Your only way forward is in remorse, you know. That can rebuild a shattered soul."
Voldemort was screaming the killing curse again; and the blood group cried out in brief, intolerable pain as it shared amongst them.
And then Harry plunged Gryffindor's sword into Voldemort's recreated heart.
There was a thin scream of terror, of pleading; then he fell to the ground, lifeless.
There was a brief, horrified hush.
Then the few remaining deatheaters made a rush to get away, to get out of the anti-apparating zone.
David Fraser and Dudley Dursley held their post; and none succeeded. The accurate range of a Kalashnikov is three hundred yards; but it will kill at twice that if enough bullets go towards the target. The evil wizards did not know even as they died how this strange magic worked.
That did not discommode David in the least.
And at last there was silence.
The house elves were busy finishing off the wounded.
"Weel!" said McGonagall "I should think that we need to help OUR wounded to the sanatorium and then I should say it was lunch time, what do you think, Headmaster?"
"I should say that's a very good idea" said Dumbledore.
The uproar was louder than the battle.
"Very nicely done, Harry" said Dumbledore "The only way to mend a shattered soul is by remorse – bless my soul, I don't recall telling you!"
"Your blood told Severus; and his told mine" said Harry. "It's obvious really if you think about it; and I had to offer it to him. Too many of my friends have dabbled with the Dark Arts not to be prepared to give him the chance. Somehow though, I knew he wouldn't take it. Excuse me."
Ginny was running at him, her long hair flying in the wind, her eyes blazing; and then her arms were around his neck kissing him as though nothing else in the world mattered.
Of course at that moment, to her, nothing else did matter.
Grace was doing the same to Draco.
Krait looked at Severus.
"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?" she suggested.
Severus swept her into his arms and kissed her hard, fiercely, almost cruelly. Krait subsided happily into his embrace.
It was some time later that she noticed absently the jagged, lightning like cut on his forehead; and felt her own.
"We all have it now" said Severus "All the bloodgroup. All except Albus who never was joined to Harry….the rest of us bear the mark of surviving the killing curse and THAT as much as anything else will help us force through what needs to be done. We must grab Lucius and Harry and set out for the ministry with the wireless fellow."
Lucius was with Narcissa and Charlotte; and Narcissa was busy thanking Charlotte for having the presence of mind to save Draco by stunning her.
"I'm a mother too you know" said Charlotte quietly "And mother love is a magic that transcends all other magic…I may be a muggle but I know about that!"
"Do you love Lucius?" demanded Narcissa.
"Dearly" said Charlotte.
Narcissa pursed her lips in thought.
"I'm sure we can manage to share him amicably my dear" she said. "And now I am my own person I think it's time to discuss giving him some more babies, both of us, don't you?"
"I think it's an excellent idea" said Charlotte "Though I THINK I might have a start on you."
"We shall share our children as we share Lucius" said Narcissa firmly. "If you are pregnant we need to take care of you; nothing but the best care for a Malfoy baby you know!"
"Well" said Krait to Severus "Felix certainly worked to tell CHARLOTTE how to act. And our sharpshooters almost couldn't miss…. Now let's get that broadcast out before it wears off!"
Harry's manifesto was published in the Daily Prophet as well as being broadcast with the news that Voldemort was dead and dead for good this time. He demanded that all the ministers be legilimensed to see who was acting under the imperius curse and indeed who was acting out of sheer evil; and demanded that the Ministry be no more than an advisory body in charge of its various departments but reporting to a true government made up partly of hereditary lords and partly of elected members, including those from goblin communities and other minority groups such as the muggle families of wizards and witches since, as he said scornfully, quoting Krait, any fool should realise that magical ability could pop up in any muggle family if the coincidence of heritance brought together inherited traits from generations back on both sides that was sufficiently strong to make for magical power. He suggested that the Department of Mysteries would do better to make simple heritance studies first before they tried those that were beyond their limited capabilities. He demanded that the old families who had proved themselves strong against Voldemort should be represented as the hereditary lords; and named Malfoy, Black, Prince, Weasley, Longbottom, Diggory, Bones and MacMillan. Lucius cleared his throat; and said that Harry had forgotten 'Potter' as a major family.
"PRINCE?" said Severus after the broadcast "Why the hell Prince?"
"Because I trust you to make good snide comments at government meetings" said Harry. "I didn't think you'd want to be named as yourself; but you could wear a mask you know, to cover the scars of battle; and that wouldn't even be a total untruth for you've got the scars from the burning."
"Hmmph…you always were a pestilential boy. When am I to find time to interfere in governance?"
"The time you have over from not having to plot against Fishface of course!" he said cheekily. "It's not like you can't apparate to London any time you need to. As it looks like I shall be lumbered with doing."
"Huh" said Severus.
"Will you do it? Please?"
"If you truly think it will help to form a good government then yes" said Severus "If it's only because I'm your favourite potions master…" and he gave his wry grin.
"I need you at my side to win the peace" said Harry. "You know, I had the resurrection stone in my hand; and I was half inclined to use it to bring my parents to support me. But they've moved on; and I had my kindred to support me – and the man who might have been my father if things had been a little different."
Severus' eyes were wet with tears and wordlessly he embraced Harry.
"You have three living fathers as well as James" he managed at last "Sirius, your Godfather; and Albus and me as your stepfathers."
"Albus I love as a family member" said Harry "Perhaps a grandfather; but you were THERE for me when he was busy protecting me from finding out all I needed to find out. Only your example made him tell us eventually what stories might be uncovered while he was officially dead. He will always be special to me; as will Hagrid. But my fathers are you and Padfoot, Scales, my Marauder fathers."
"Well! Your father says you need to get some rest now because you'll be inundated with work setting up this new government soon enough" said Severus brusquely.
There were interviews with everybody; with Albus Dumbledore, returned from the dead, smiling gently at the stories about his past and murmuring that Madame Snape, posing as a Deatheater, had done a most excellent job of smearing his character, hadn't she and mentioning that his memories of Ariana were too painful to rake up just now, thank you. The restoration of Alice and Frank Longbottom too was a sensation; and they refused with gentle firmness to discuss the means of their cure. Krait intended to keep quiet about her status as a metamorphagus and they respected that wish!
Remus Lupin spoke up for those people who were werewolves through no fault of their own and demanded that the ministry should provide Wolfsbane potion free to those afflicted, and that there should be no discrimination towards werewolves who were prepared to live within the law.
Kinat, first goblin student at Hogwarts spoke up to ask that goblins should be permitted to carry wands and be treated with equality; and hinted that if goblins had fairer treatment, goblins might be prepared to teach some goblin metalcrafting secrets to senior classes at Hogwarts. He had no mandate at all to suggest this, but every intention of using his Blood Status and scar to get what he thought was right and fair on both sides.
Beloc and Dobby spoke out as free house elves, respectably employed, that free elves should also be admitted into the wand carrying community and that slavery should be phased out as antiquated and barbaric and something even muggles didn't practice any more [ which had a greater impact than any pleas for fairness] and that those house elves who did not want to be free should also be respected in their wishes [which soothed a lot of ruffled feathers].
Hagrid too was a voice for half breeds; and another of Harry's loyal friends who had watched over him from his earliest years with, as Alastor Moody put it 'constant vigilance!'
Dudley Dursley was even given a spot, as a muggle who was brave enough to fight beside his wizarding cousin against the most terrifying wizard ever. David had warned him to be circumspect in what he said and made a few suggestions; so Dudley said that even a muggle could use goblin-made devices and crossbows and help his magical friends. "Draco and Harry are the best friends I ever had" he said "An' I guess you gotta stand by your friends, right?"
Dudley would never be the sharpest stick in the bundle; but his sincerity was plain. And his limited intellect was actually an asset to the treatment of muggles, because those wizards who were wavering were able to faintly despise his limits whilst admiring his loyalty and look upon him – and by extension all muggles – as a kind of cute pet Harry Potter was kind enough to keep about the place.
It was a false view; but it did much for the cause.
There was singing in the streets and demonstrations of joy as profound as those that had dismayed Vernon Dursley almost sixteen years before; and indeed disturbed him once again. And his first words when Dudley walked into the sitting room were
"Where the Hell have you been?"
"Oh DIDDYKINS!" cried Petunia "Where have you been?"
"Fighting Voldemort" said Dudley, grinning fatuously all over his big face. "With Harry and Draco."
"WHAT?" thundered Vernon "You've been getting mixed up in THEIR lot?"
"Popkin!" cried Petunia "Surely not! With….you mustn't say his name, you mustn't!"
"Can now" said Dudley "He's dead. Harry stuck a sword in him and the rest of us killed his followers. It was…" his face softened "It was scary mum but it was great, all being together, fighting together… I think I might join the muggle army you know…."
Petunia cast herself upon him and hugged him, sobbing and berating him and begging him to take care. Dudley, once considering that only natural, found he had to endure it stoically, recalling the gentle teasing Ron and Ginny had received when their mum acted the same. Mums weren't that different really, he thought. Draco's mum had been all over her precious darling too.
Gently he lifted her aside.
"I'm fine mum" he said "I had this other kid called Martin who was casting protective spells so I could shoot people….they had magic crossbows and magic bullets" he added hastily as he realised the thought forming in his father's prejudiced mind. "Silver enchanted against werewolves…"
"ENOUGH!" shouted Vernon "I don't want to hear any more, d'you understand me? It's bad enough with that boy around, without him corrupting my son!"
Dudley opened his mouth but shut it again. He knew his father well enough to know when not to push the issue.
His mother mouthed 'tell me later'; she at least wanted to know just what her baby had been doing even if she deplored him doing it.
"All right, I guess I've missed a couple of days' school, am I in trouble?"
"Oh no, Diddykins, mummy will write an excuse note and say you had a nasty cold" said Petunia fondly.
As she had done this often enough when Dudley just wanted a day off he had no expectation of it being believed; but on the other hand they could not disprove it.
And he felt so good, even if they gave him a detention he did not care.
And whatever his father said, Dudley was not going to lose touch with his friends at Hogwarts!
The rest of the term might almost have been considered anticlimactic; though there were still some deatheaters to round up, and ministers to legilimens. Krait too had her NEWTS to take; she was taking examinations in Potions, Transfigurations, Defence against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Arithmancy, Charms and Care of Magical Beasts, for which she was the only NEWT student. She found the exam in this quite easy, approaching and mounting and riding a hippogriff as the first part. She duly bowed to Buckbeak and mounted him, urging him to take off, circle, and return, landing in the precise spot they took off from which she knew would earn bonus marks. She answered questions on the care of various magical steeds, the main thrust of this advanced exam; and also answered questions on the recognition and characteristics of various types of dragons, reflecting that none of Harry's friends would ever forget anything about Hungarian Horntails. The written component of the exam was mostly about the means of avoiding damage to beast and self when handling dangerous beasts; and she thought she had done well.
As to Defence of the Dark Arts, the examiner summoned all those who had fought; and awarded everyone under fifteen an automatic OWL at E, and assorted older students higher marks. Krait, Draco, Harry, Ron and Hermione and Neville were given O at NEWT level, and E's were given to others such as Ernie MacMillan.
It seemed, as the examiner said, utterly ridiculous when all the would-be aurors had been part of the fight to waste their time and hers on theory when they had proved themselves more capable of fighting the Dark Arts than any of the ministry for the last twenty years.
Krait agreed; but was mightily pleased to hear it said aloud!
When the Potions examiner found out that Hermione, Draco and Krait had been involved in making Felix Felicis they were also awarded O out of hand.
As one of the questions on the Arithmancy paper was to write the equations of the most important arithmantic calculation the student had ever made, Krait wrote up the decision of the date for the battle, noting that she had cross referenced and worked with Miss Granger.
Hermione had also entered early in the hopes of taking more NEWTS – little realising when she applied that she would get two NEWTS for free – and had written it up and worried that it might not count; which Krait pooh-poohed.
"If that ain't significant I don't know what is" she said "I know we collaborated but we each took different angles; and that'll count. Several arithmancers work together for curse breaking you know, and wasn't he the worst curse on society there is?"
Hermione was pacified; no mean feat over examinations! She was elated to have gained two NEWTS already a year young 'for nothing' as she said.
"Not hardly nothing" said Draco "We worked bloody hard for what we had to do; getting recognition in terms of qualifications is just an extra in recognition, but not something we don't deserve."
Krait had then three more exams; Transfigurations, which caused her no trouble at all – indeed she found time to advance a new theory that occurred to her during the written examination, concerning the conservation of energy – and she felt she had not disgraced herself at Charms and Herbology. Since she had done hardly any formal work for either Herbology or Care of Magical beasts she was well pleased and hoped to get a pass at least.
Next year she would no longer be even a part time student; but she would be alongside her beloved Severus and helping out with junior classes and looking for teachers for a muggle and squib annexe. She had her eyes on the old orphanage for its facilities to house many children; but she wanted to ask the Hogwarts ghosts to have a riotous party there first to drive out the bad feelings! She had, too, to wait for probate on the death of her father – his body, transfigured to look as he had done to pose as a muggle – having to be found by the authorities; and his daughter, living with cousins – Wendy and Casimir – contacted. One might as well use what wealth he had built up, after all. Yes, she might have finished school but with all that, and her dear children, now safe at last, she had plenty of things with which to occupy herself!
The world was safe now for the muggles from the wizarding world; though the new muggle Prime Minister had the same smarmy charm as Tom Riddle so they might not be safe from him….but then, that was the muggles' problem for electing him.
Muggle politicians were as much a waste of space as wizarding ones; it must be a universal truth.
Like the ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
Charity Burbage was quite right.
Muggles and wizards were not really very different at all.
It was a shame that they had needed to contact Beauxbatons and Durmstrang to postpone the quidditch match but that was to look forward to next year instead.
The End – of Tom Riddle.
A/N Book 4, 'A Different Kind of Diplomacy' coming soon. But I'm taking time out so look for more on Valentine's Day. I have some writing I want to get on with!