Welcome to the final chapter of Keeping Appearances! Thank you all so much for your support. I would have never finished this story if not for the positive feedback of you reviewers! I hope that this chapter ties up all the loose ends. Forgive me for summarizing in some places, but time restraints require I be brief in some instances.
Disclaimer: Belongs to J.K.R. I do not take credit for her writing in this chapter or any of my other chapters.
Warnings: nothing concerning, brief mentions of abuse and torture but nothing graphic
The wind howled through the silent courtyard as the remaining light and dark fighters stared at the still body of the once great and powerful Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Hadrian Marvolo Riddle, the Dark Prince, stepped away from the dead wizard, turning to face the crowds of people with an expressionless mask on his regal features.
Abruptly, a scream of horror and rage broke through the silence, and Hadrian glanced over to see the plump figure of Molly Weasley pushing through the crowd. Hadrian prepared himself for an attack when he saw her wand raised. To his surprise, however, Minerva McGonagall stepped forward, blocking Molly's path.
"Did you not just see what I saw, Molly?" the professor asked cuttingly, her voice piercing through the courtyard. "Albus Dumbledore admitted to torturing a child! How can you continue to defend him?"
"He's lying, Albus would never-"
"Wouldn't he?" McGonagall cut in sharply. "Did you not see him threaten to kill an innocent woman and torture a defenseless young man?"
"He's You-Know-Who's son," Molly hissed, glaring at them, "he deserved it."
Suddenly, unable to contain himself any longer, Hadrian stepped forward furiously to face the mother of his once best friend. "Did I deserve it when I was a First Year?" he hissed, his magic pulsating. "When I had no idea who my father was? When I was so grateful to be at Hogwarts that I begged your leader to torture me? Was that right?"
The red-haired woman paused in horror, uncertainly eyeing the fallen light icon as if measuring if the headmaster was capable of such atrocities. Apparently she did, because she slowly stepped back to the crowd of remaining Order members.
"What will become of us now?" Professor McGonagall asked quietly, an uncommonly defeated expression on the Gryffindor Head of House as she faced the Dark Forces.
Hadrian stared at the light followers, all of whom looked as if the world had been turned upside down. Really, it had been. Their leader was a dark lunatic, and they had lost the war.
"Tend to your wounded," Hadrian replied steadily. "See to your loved ones. This is a battle that should have never happened. Unnecessary magical blood has been shed this day."
A wave of shock and amazement flooded over the Order members at his words. They looked toward the Dark Lord, who had been silently watching the proceedings until this point.
"Let us all go home," the Dark Lord agreed simply. "The battle is finally over."
Hadrian stepped back to his father proudly as the light followers retreated back to the safety of the castle. They had agreed not to take the Wizarding World by force, although if they ever changed their minds it would be an easy victory now. Simply put, the Dark Lord recognized that the victory of ruling over Britain would be short as a tyrant. He would reform the system, but not through force.
Lucius Malfoy stepped forward, talking quietly to the Dark Lord, and Hadrian was relieved to see his approaching friends close by. He quickly appraised their physical welfare, and saw that Blaise, Pansy, and Theo had experienced the worst of it. Blaise had a nasty slice on his leg, but Hadrian noted with relief that he had wrapped a bandage around it tightly to stop the bleeding. Pansy gripped her ribcage in pain, her breathing labored, but she grinned at him in excitement. Theo was being supported by Hermione and Draco due to a twisted knee. They were scarred, but they were all alive. Hadrian eyed his girlfriend anxiously, but apart from a few scrapes she was free of her own blood.
Daphne suddenly pulled him closer, forgoing all sense of etiquette, and kissed him passionately. Usually Hadrian would resist public affection as such behavior was unbefitting for the Dark Prince, but he found for once he did not care that the crowds of dark followers were most likely watching. When they pulled away, breathless and in each other's arms, Hadrian finally realized the magnitude of the moment. They had won the battle, and they were all still breathing.
"If you kiss me like that every day than I am so glad I'm alive," Hadrian whispered in her ear.
"As am I," she whispered back. "And I will remind you again, and again, and again for the rest of your life."
He could live with that.
Hadrian felt his father's hand on his shoulder, and he lessened his hold on Daphne. He turned, meeting his father's red eyes.
"Come," he said calmly. "It is time."
The Dark Lord yelled for the Dark Forces to leave, and Hadrian watched as everyone disapparated to the Headquarters. Hadrian nodded at each of his friends, and they also disapparated to their homes for treatment and rest. Finally, only he and his father remained in the empty courtyard.
"Let us go home, my son," he said softly, "and meet your mother."
The emotion that flooded through Hadrian at that instant could only be explained as pure joy, second only to the moment soon after when he arrived by his mother's bedside and wrapped his arms around her slim frame.
"My son," she whispered over and over, tears streaming down her pale face.
Hadrian pulled back, allowing his father to take his place and embrace his wife. No words were spoken between the pair, but Hadrian still felt like he was intruding when he watched them gaze into each other's eyes and kiss for a long moment. As if sensing his hesitation, Caroline pulled him back toward them. The emotion in the room was so strong Hadrian was certain he would suffocate.
Love, he recognized with a jolt. He was feeling love.
Maybe Dumbledore's propaganda had been right in one way, Hadrian mused. Love was, perhaps, the most powerful magic of all.
The courtroom fell utterly silent as Hadrian walked into the room confidently with his father, the Dark Lord, at his side. Fighting back a grin at some of the reactions around him, he continued to move casually with his father to the center of the wide room until they faced the Wizengamot directly.
"I believe we have some matters to discuss, yes?" the Dark Lord murmured, with one eyebrow raised elegantly.
Hadrian almost snorted at his father's comment, and his father gave him a subtle reproving glance. In response, he quickly composed himself, forcing back his nervous energy. This was a risky move they were taking, but a necessary one. They had taken precautions just in case their plan failed of course, and Hadrian was positive they would escape capture if the Wizengamot rejected their testimony.
"We thank you for accepting our request to meet us this day," Madam Bones replied formally, seemingly the only one in the room able to speak to the powerful and intimidating pair who four days prior had defeated Albus Dumbledore and his forces.
Although her demeanor was stern, her face was not unkind. Hadrian would not deny that he respected the woman. She was acting as the temporary Minister of Magic until one could be elected, although Hadrian suspected that a vote would only solidify her position.
"In the light of recent developments," Madam Bones continued, "we seek to find the truth of matters we once believed obvious. Some wish for you and your son to be punished for past actions, but I no longer am certain that the propaganda against you is true."
Hadrian glanced at his father, interested in what the lord would say in response.
"I will answer your questions, Madam Bones," he replied calmly. "I have no desire to hide the truth from the Wizarding World, nor does my son. But I am afraid that the truth may be hard to bear."
Madam Bones inclined her head in acknowledgment of his words. "We no longer have the privilege to protect our own delusions of peace, Lord Slytherin," she replied swiftly. "The former Minister may have allowed truth to be sacrificed for public support, but I will no longer tolerate such actions. I would ask for you to speak accordingly."
"Very well," the Dark Lord answered, removing his wand from his sleeve. "I, Lord Slytherin, do swear on my magic to speak only the truth this day in the Wizengamot courtroom."
All eyes were on the powerful wizard as he began to speak.
"One of the biggest lies Dumbledore told concerning my political campaign is that I wish to annihilate all magical individuals who are not purebloods. Although I believe that our magical heritage and tradition is being polluted and corrupted, I do not see half-bloods or muggleborns as tainted. Contrary to public opinion, I am not a pureblood."
Gasps echoed around the courtroom at his last statement, and the Dark Lord smiled humorlessly.
"Although I am a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin from my mother's side, my father was a muggle. I was born as a result of a love potion used by my mother on my father, who disowned me and my mother the moment he learned of the truth. My mother died shortly after. I grew up in an orphanage, and I was severely mistreated because of my magical abilities. When I entered Hogwarts, my hatred of muggles grew stronger, especially since many of my peers held an anti-muggle opinion. Dumbledore did everything in his power to ensure I and many other Slytherins were viewed negatively by other houses and his fellow professors. While many did not believe his words, others did. I also wished to continue as a teacher at Hogwarts after graduation, but Dumbledore strongly encouraged Headmaster Dippet to turn me down. I left Hogwarts, planning on gaining more experience, but shortly after Dumbledore became Headmaster. I then knew that my ambition to teach at Hogwarts would no longer be possible. I left that institution for good. Although I hate to agree with Albus Dumbledore about anything, I recognize now that I was incapable of teaching students with my current state of mind."
Hadrian gazed thoughtfully at his father when he paused, allowing the Wizengamot to absorb all his words and overcome their shock. Although Hadrian had heard his father's story before, with more depth even, it was still surprisingly hard to hear it every time. And now Hadrian recognized the real trouble began, where the Wizengamot would actually be able to prosecute his father for committing serious crimes. The dark-haired young adult was amazed when his father ploughed through boldly, forgoing his natural instincts of deception and self-preservation.
"My fifth year of Hogwarts I learned of my ancestry to Salazar Slytherin when I discovered the Chamber of Secrets."
Whispers erupted around the courtroom, but they quickly died after a swift glare from Madam Bones.
"Due to my ability to speak to snakes," the Dark Lord continued quietly, "I was able to control the basilisk, or so I thought. By awakening the snake I inadvertently awakened its innate need for blood and human flesh. I did not realize the extent of the damage of my actions until a student, Melinda Myrtle, was killed by the basilisk. I was only 16 - young, foolish, and ambitious. I enjoyed the power I held when I forced such a mighty beast to submission, but I was too arrogant. I should have realized that such a creature could not be completely restrained. The death of the student Myrtle was an accident."
The Dark Lord continued to stare at Madam Bones, waiting for her response to his admittance. Many Wizengamot members were visibly angry or upset over the announcement, but Madam Bones remained deathly quiet for a minute. Finally, she called order to the courtroom, her eyes remaining on the powerful lord.
"I recognize that you speak the truth, Lord Slytherin," she replied, although she eyed him knowingly as if she realized there was more to the story. "No legal action will be taken against you, due to your young age and the years that have passed since that, as legal requirement, nullify the crime."
Some protests came, although Hadrian was surprised there was not more. Madam Bones quickly stifled them and then urged the Dark Lord to continue.
"I thank the Wizengamot for understanding, although I suspect that you may not be so forgiving as I continue," his father said, calm despite his words. "My drive for power and interest in my wizarding heritage may have been born from my time at the orphanage, but my obsession of power and my heritage came from a much different experience." He paused, and Hadrian forced back the urge to yell for him to stop.
His father had promised both him and his mother that he would finally reveal the truth, although Hadrian now wondered if he wanted that. While his father needed to redeem himself in the eyes of the people, Hadrian was certain it would be better if he skipped over a few unnecessary areas. This was one of them.
"I confronted my father, who I learned was alive all this time," the Dark Lord explained slowly. "I accused him of abandoning me and my mother, as well as for my terrible childhood. I was consumed with anger. I decided to leave, unable to look at the man any longer, but he tried to attack me." His father halted for a moment, and for a split second Hadrian was certain he saw a hint of remorse. "I had not yet decided whether I would use magic, but I obtained a different wand in case I needed to. When my father attacked me both physically and verbally, in my fear and anger I cast the killing curse on him. I was 16 years old."
The room was silent as the members of the courtroom stared at the Dark Lord in a mixture of shock, fear, sympathy, and anger. Madam Bones lost composure briefly, her calm mask faltering at his words. After a few minutes of tense silence, she spoke deliberately.
"Once again, the circumstances of the incident, your age at the time, and the years that have passed since will result in no action from the Ministry against you for this crime."
Hadrian relaxed at those words, but Madam Bones quickly reinforced his worries.
"However," she said coldly, "do not expect me to be so forgiving in more recent accusations."
The Dark Lord nodded curtly in recognition of her words, his amber eyes unwavering. For a brief moment Hadrian was certain that Slytherins and Gryffindors were truly not so different after all. His father had to be the bravest man alive.
"I spiraled dangerously from there," the Dark Lord began again, although bolder than before. As Hadrian knew, the major crimes of his past were now in the open. "Due to my father and my childhood, I allowed my anger toward muggles to fester and grow uncontrollably. In my last two years at Hogwarts, as well as a few years after, I started forming a group comprised mostly of Slytherins and pureblood sympathizers. This part of Dumbledore's propaganda, at least, was true. I formulated plans to remove traces of filth from our society, to never allow a muggle to interfere with wizard kind again. I became more and more radical, although I had yet to take any major steps apart from recruitment. Shortly after Lucius Malfoy joined the group we called Death Eaters, and it was through him I met my future wife."
Hadrian noticed that the Wizengamot members softened at the mention of his mother, and Hadrian glanced at his father to see he now had a small smile on his face. Hadrian could not resist mirroring it as he considered his mother's survival.
"Caroline Malfoy epitomized everything I would later stand for," his father continued passionately. "She caught my attention from the very beginning, as she would boldly argue against my beliefs of muggles and my plans for the Wizarding World. Soon, I started to agree with some of her points, and I came to realize my hatred for muggles was misguided. She redirected the blame to the current wizarding system, and I reformed my plans in favor of reshaping our society. Shortly after we were married, and we continued to rise in influence through money and connections. Our ideas grew in popularity. This is when the propaganda against me was introduced by Albus Dumbledore." Anger flickered across the Dark Lord's face. "Dumbledore's power was being threatened, and he reacted by lying about my intentions and ideals. The first wizarding world began, and he captured my wife and newborn son." Amber eyes flickered over to Hadrian momentarily. "Consumed in desperation and grief, I urged my most trusted followers to search everywhere for my family, taking any means necessary to find them. It resulted in the unintended insanity of the Longbottoms, and it caused me to attack the Potters that Halloween night. The Potters, Longbottoms, and Dumbledore were those individuals involved in capturing my family, and they were the only way I would maybe find them again. Now I recognize that the Potters may have been blind to the true nature of their leader, but they still supported that mad man in capturing and torturing two innocent individuals. I gave them the opportunity to live, more than they ever offered my family, but they refused to give any information. I tried to reason with them about their leader, but they refused to listen and sought only to kill me. In self-defense, as well as in my grief and anger, I killed them."
"While the Potters may not have been innocent, you tortured and murdered their son a few years ago," Madam Bones said coldly, her eyes like flint as her voice pierced through the loud Wizengamot. "He was an innocent child, just as your family was. You are no better than they."
Hadrian shook his head fiercely, now stepping forward with his wand raised. "I, Hadrian Marvolo Riddle, do swear on my magic to speak only the truth this day in the Wizengamot courtroom." Hadrian tucked his wand away after the flash of white verified his vow, and he took a deep breath. "Harry Potter was never killed, because he never lived," he spoke quietly, but with power, and the Wizengamot members were transfixed by his words. "For 14 years of my life I was known as Harry James Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, when I really was the stolen son of Tom and Caroline Riddle. For 14 years I was abused by my relatives during the summer and tortured by Albus Dumbledore during the school year. It was not until Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy learned of my torture that I was freed from the clutches of that bastard."
Hadrian continued to explain the story of his recovery, of finding his father, and of trying to overcome the years of abuse. He ended with his explanation of the Final Battle, of his mother's survival and imprisonment, of miraculously surviving the killing curse, and finally killing Albus Dumbledore after an impromptu trial. His face was a stony mask as he spoke, but inwardly he had to fight to stay composed as he revealed all his private information. Only a few details remained secret, such as his nightmares, self-harming, his relationships, and horcruxes.
Horrified silence echoed around the spacious room when he ended his monologue, and Hadrian waited anxiously. Madam Bones seemed to be fighting back tears, which Hadrian suspected was because of his close age to her niece. His story, after all, was truly terrifying, even more to a parent.
"I am so sorry for your suffering and our ignorance," she finally spoke, her voice firm despite her sadness. "The Wizarding World has failed you." Her gaze turned to the Dark Lord. "It has failed both of you. And it is only because of you that we have escaped corruption. You could have chosen to seize power after you won the Final Battle but instead you decided to offer the wizarding world truth. No matter your past mistakes, I cannot ignore the extraneous circumstances and the sacrifices you have made for us all."
She took a deep breath, now falling into official mode. "I, Amelia Bones, acting Minister of Magic, do propose that Lord Slytherin be pardoned for all crimes committed before this date because of necessary acts to protect his own life, his family, and the welfare of the wizarding world. All in favor do indicate with a raised wand hand."
Hadrian watched in relief and surprise as half of the Wizengamot raised their hands to pardon his father.
"You are freed of all charges," Madam Bones declared formally, then turned to Hadrian. "I also propose that Hadrian Marvolo Riddle be pardoned for any crimes committed before this date, including the killing of one Albus Dumbledore, because of necessary acts to protect his own life, his family, and the welfare of the wizarding world. All in favor do indicate with a raised wand hand."
Almost every hand was raised in favor of his freedom, and Hadrian's heart lifted with renewed home.
"You both are free to go," Madam Bones declared. "We thank you for your services to the Wizarding World."
Hadrian turned to his father, who was now free of his past for the first time in over two decades. His father smirked, his amber eyes lighter and less harsh than normal.
"Let's go home," Hadrian murmured.
The two newly freed men disapparated, effectively tearing through the anti-apparition wards established by the Ministry. The Wizengamot sat in stilled shock, flabbergasted that some of the strongest wards in the world had been flicked away like child's play.
Amelia Bones smiled to herself knowingly. She knew no matter the verdict that Lord Slytherin and his heir would have never succumbed to the Ministry, nor would she delude herself into thinking they would actually have the ability to restrain them.
The Wizarding World was theirs for the taking. The fact that she was the acting Minister of Magic, despite the Dark Lord's clear victory, spoke volumes more than anything else spoken today in court.
The Dark Lord was a changed man, and Amelia Bones was certain that this change would better the Wizarding World in due time when the population was ready to accept it.
Hadrian collapsed on a nearby couch in one of the many sitting rooms attached to the library of Slytherin manor, thoroughly exhausted after another visit with Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom. Hadrian had been pleasantly surprised by their first visit almost two weeks ago. Neville had grown into a strong, self-assured young adult, and he admitted to being suspicious of Dumbledore since Hadrian's absence. Although he struggled at first to accept the torture against his parents, Neville grudgingly admitted that their actions prior to the act were what caused the attack, not the intentions of the Dark Lord. Luna, of course, was always especially perceptive, and she accepted the truth instantly. Hadrian was relieved that they, as well as many others, had accepted their testimonies.
Four weeks had passed since their stories had been revealed to the wizarding world, and many had come to ask forgiveness for following Dumbledore. The Hogwarts professors were distraught and extremely disturbed that the former headmaster had been torturing a student without their knowledge. Minerva McGonagall, in particular, begged Hadrian to forgive her for her blindness to what was happening under her tutelage as Head of House. Hadrian did so gracefully, and he also used his connections to ensure she would become the Headmistress. He was certain that she would reform the school and protect the children, both of which were extremely important after the damage inflicted by Dumbledore.
Hadrian was surprised by how many of his old friends from school confronted him. As expected, Ron Weasley did not believe their testimonies because they were "dark wizards," but the rest of his family did. Ginny and the twins were especially remorseful, and they quickly tried to make amends. Hadrian was surprised to find that Ginny, Fred, and George fit in well with his close group of friends, as did Neville and Luna.
Most important, however, was his reunion with Sirius and Remus. After the Final Battle, they had wanted to find Hadrian to confront him but were too occupied with attending to the wounded to seek him out before he left. Shortly after the trial, however, Sirius and Remus had requested a visit to Slytherin Manor. They had been permitted, and after the initial shock and disgust over the actions of their former best friends due to the deception of Dumbledore, Sirius and Remus came to accept the truth. Now they strived to help in any way they could in the reformation of the wizarding society. Remus was once again offered a teaching position at Hogwarts, and Sirius was planning on finding a good cause to invest his fortune and time into.
But, as expected, a few old Order members and followers still refused to believe the truth of Dumbledore's ways, despite the testimonies of Hadrian and his family and the witnesses at the Final Battle. Many worshiped Albus Dumbledore and refused to believe anything negative of the deceased wizard. But Hadrian knew the worst was over, and soon more and more would come to accept the truth.
The soft footsteps interrupted his inner thoughts and he sat up slightly to see his mother and father enter from the far side of the library. Hadrian smiled, still amazed to see his mother alive despite the month that had passed. She was slowly regaining weight and restoring her drained magical powers, but her immune system was weak and she continued to suffer nightmares. Despite this, never once did Hadrian doubt the woman's strength. Severus had recently created a potion that counteracts long exposures of the torture curse, and that has tremendously helped her recovery.
Hadrian was about to stand and approach them, but he stopped when he realized they were speaking in hushed tones. Curiously, he listened from his hidden position.
"Hadrian just told me that he plans on entering the Auror department," his father said softly.
"You worry about him," Caroline responded just as softly.
Hadrian shifted slightly, startled by his father's reaction. Earlier when he mentioned his interest in the Auror program the Dark Lord was unsurprised and showed no negative reaction.
"He is more than capable," the Dark Lord mused. "Frighteningly powerful some would say... but I fear he will face prejudice. There are still some of Dumbledore's followers who are eagerly waiting for an opportunity to discredit or harm him."
His mother did not respond for a few moments, and Hadrian fought the urge to risk his position to catch a glimpse of her facial expression. "People cannot deny he speaks the truth, Tom," she responded calmly. "The Wizengamot freed both of you of all charges."
"Some claim that the trial was corrupt," he retorted.
"Even with Amelia Bones conducting the trial?"
Hadrian fought back a smirk at his mother's incredulous response, knowing his father would have to concede that point.
"Hadrian is no longer a child, as much as I wish he was," Caroline continued, a sad note to her voice. "We cannot stop him from pursuing his ambitions."
"I know," his father responded curtly, uncharacteristically conceding defeat. Hadrian blinked, but recovered quickly. His father admitted his wrongs much more frequently around his wife.
"Hadrian has grown into a wonderful young wizard," Caroline murmured. "He will do fine. He takes after you more than I'd like."
"What do you mean by that, dear?" the Dark Lord purred dangerously.
"Oh, only that there is enough stubbornness and superiority in this household without your son adding to it," she responded sweetly. "It's enough to have one man thinking he is in charge."
"You didn't seem to mind when I took charge last night," the Dark Lord responded suggestively.
"I have to let you be in control occasionally, dear," she teased. "Your ego couldn't handle it otherwise."
Hadrian smirked at their flirtation, thoroughly amused, although also somewhat disgusted. Certain that they were too busy with each other to notice him for a brief instant, Hadrian risked a glance in their direction. He smirked when he saw his father pressed against a bookcase, his mother tight against him while whispering in his ear. Fortunately, it was too quiet to hear, as Hadrian was certain he did not want to know if the aroused expression on his father's face was any indication. It seemed like Caroline took charge more than his father would care to admit. After a few moments, the pair relaxed, and he wrapped his arms around her protectively.
"I don't know how I ever managed without you, Caroline," he said softly. "My grief almost killed me. Hadrian was what saved me from falling prey to black magic once again."
"I cannot believe you only had him for three years," she replied softly. "He seems well recovered from the damage of Dumbledore and those muggles."
There was a pause, and even though Hadrian could not see his father's face he could tell that he was displeased when he spoke. "He is good at putting on a mask. That's all he did for most of his life. He's overcome most of it - the self-loathing, the fear of failure, the abuse, the nightmares - but he will always have scars. And he will always have that mask as his safeguard."
"Just like you," she whispered. "But certain people will be able to look past it. His friends, his mentors, and us. He will never be alone."
"We will do the same for you," his father said firmly. "Caroline, I cannot fathom the trials you endured while locked up in that dungeon." When she started to protest, turning away, he gripped her elbow and firmly pulled her back to face him. "No Caroline, I need you to listen to this. You've been avoiding this for far too long." She shook her head, her eyes averted, but he gently titled her chin up. "I will never let you go again," he promised firmly. "Every night when you wake up from a nightmare I will be there holding you. I will listen and try to understand. You know I am not an easy man, but I will do anything for you."
Hadrian knew this would not be the first or last time his father would say those words to his mother, but every time it would be just as important.
"He's 18," she finally answered, and Hadrian could hear the tears in her voice. "My baby is 18. Dumbledore took his childhood away from both of us. I was locked up for years, wondering about the both of you. The physical torture was nothing compared to the mental torture. Dumbledore was so proud of everything, he boasted of the abuse he put Hadrian under and his training to kill you. I thought I would die from the grief of it all."
"We are together again," the Dark Lord reminded her calmly, although Hadrian could sense Dumbledore's actions angered him greatly. "Dumbledore failed and he is dead. He could never break us apart forever. Which means you are stuck with me and Hadrian for the rest of your life. That is, if you don't go batty first from all the testosterone."
Hadrian smiled when his mother laughed through her tears. Although his father had always been a charismatic man when he chose to be, he was a different man altogether when he was around Caroline.
"Never again will a magical child suffer as our son did," the Dark Lord promised, his strong arms wrapped around her tightly. "Never again will this family be broken apart. I will do all that is within my power to fulfill that promise."
"Never again," his mother mused. "Powerful words. I like it."
Hadrian smiled in agreement.
"Yes, I think our son would too," the Dark Lord said, his voice suddenly louder. "What do you think, Hadrian?"
Hadrian sighed to himself, irritated but unsurprised. No matter how hard he tried he was never able to eavesdrop on his father without getting caught. He stood up from his reclined position on the couch, a sheepish expression on his face when he noticed the two disapproving looks from his parents.
As expected, he received a talking to from his mother for a good ten minutes. Hadrian expected it was a tad longer than it normally would be for such an incident because his mother felt she needed to make up on lost time. He apologized in the correct places, trying to be charming and regretful to avoid punishment. Hadrian couldn't help but fight back a grin through the entirety of the reprimand. It felt good to have a mother. As if sensing the same thing, his mother suddenly enveloped him in a warm embrace.
"I love you, son," she whispered passionately.
"I love you too, Mum," he replied, smirking at his father in the background who was dramatically rolling his eyes at the very touching and emotional display of affection.
She released him, gave him another warm smile, and left without punishing him. Grinning, Hadrian turned to face his father.
"I'd say that went well, then," Hadrian drawled, leaning against a nearby bookcase casually.
"I'm so glad you think so, Hadrian," the Dark Lord replied smoothly, a vicious smirk on his face. "That means you won't be opposed to completing the mounds of paperwork on my desk for me."
Hadrian fought back a groan. He should have known better than think he could escape without a punishment. Maybe his mother knew all along that his father would deal out a worse punishment than she. Smart woman.
"How many times do I have to tell you that unsuccessful eavesdropping is unbecoming?"
Hadrian watched the smug Dark Lord with a light heart despite the long day ahead of him having to finish his father's neglected paper work. He had a feeling he would have years ahead of him to eavesdrop on his parents.
That idea gave him great happiness indeed.
Today he was going to do it. He was not nervous in any way, shape, or form. He was the Dark Prince, Heir of Slytherin, and conqueror of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. He was not afraid. How could she say no?
"What if she says no?" Hadrian groaned to Draco, forgoing his usual dignified appearance as he voiced the fear he was denying viciously in his head.
The blonde smirked at his friend's misery. "That would be smart of her, wouldn't it?" he teased.
At Hadrian's glare, he let out a disbelieving laugh. "C'mon Hadrian, who in their right mind would say no to you? Not only are you now Head Auror, but you are the second most powerful man alive. The Dark Lord is your father!"
Hadrian suddenly felt guilty. "You mean, you think she'd be afraid to say no?"
Draco groaned, thoroughly exasperated. "Hadrian, she loves you. She won't say no, you know that. If you wait any longer, mate, she may just kill you. She's been dying for months for you to ask her."
Hadrian relaxed, shaking his head at his ridiculous statement a moment earlier. "Yes, of course, I don't know why I'm so anxious," he murmured, playing with the ring in his pocket absentmindedly and expertly hiding his embarrassment at losing his cool in front of Draco. Suddenly, a beautiful thought popped into his head. Draco tensed at the vindictive smirk sent his way.
"And just think, once I propose to Daphne you will be able to propose to Astoria," Hadrian said sweetly. "Pureblood customs will no longer restrict you from giving her the Malfoy family ring."
Hadrian leaned back and smirked when his best friend paled drastically. Oh, how the tables have turned.
Draco and Astoria, Daphne's younger sister, have been dating since shortly after the Final Battle, now about two years. Astoria was a pureblood heiress, there is no doubt, but she had a wicked side to her that always kept Draco on edge. Hadrian and Daphne were certain they were perfect for each other, although Daphne, being the protective older sister, still worried about her sister having a love interest.
Of their other friends, Theodore and Hermione were the only ones married. Their relationship from school continued to grow stronger and stronger, and Hadrian had been pleased to give his oldest friend away to Theo. They had been married for about six months now. They both worked as Unspeakables, but Hadrian had a feeling that Hermione would be taking leave soon due to a pregnancy.
While Theo and Hermione came as no shock to everyone, Hadrian was surprised by the other romances in his close circle of friends. The introduction of Ginny into their group proved to be positive, as Blaise was immediately interested in the fiery redhead. They have been dating for a few months now, and Hadrian was always thoroughly amused by their verbal sparring.
Neville had also proven to be an interesting development, as everyone but he and Pansy could see that they were attracted to each other. Neville was still shy around women, although he was a successful and confident Auror with Hadrian. Pansy, on the other hand, refused to admit she loved a Gryffindor. Hadrian knew it would only take time, as well as a few more "accidental" incidents of locking them in broom closets. The Weasley Twins, in particular, enjoyed that pastime.
Hadrian was aroused from his inner musings when Draco bravely suggested a game of chess. The Dark Prince grinned viciously, eager to destroy his friend in a game of strategy. He had, after all, learned from the best.
Light music filled the cheerful atmosphere of the Grand Ceremonial Hall in The Ministry of Magic as the most powerful and influential members of society gathered for the inauguration of the newest Minister. Hadrian observed as the wizard in question, dressed in luxurious dark gray robes, stepped forward to the podium, effectively ending all music and conversation. Hadrian's mother, from beside him, squeezed his hand tightly. The Dark Prince glanced over at her, but her porcelain face was smooth and confident despite her nervous movement.
"Welcome," the new Minister said softly, his smooth voice thoroughly capturing the attention of every person in the room. "Words, for once, fail me as I stand before you. For years I have envisioned this very moment, but nothing can prepare you for such a moment of great responsibility." There was a long pause as his amber eyes thoughtfully regarded the members in the room. "I admit that my past is fraught with mistakes and prejudices due to the unfortunate circumstances of my birth, all of which you are all fully aware of."
A silence fell through the room as everyone considered the Wizengamot Trial of their leader and his son held shortly after the final battle. The truths that had been revealed had stunned the Wizarding World, especially those that had fought at the Battle of Hogwarts under the pretenses given by Albus Dumbledore. The wizard they had considered a Dark Lord, a tyrant, and a dictator, actually was an ambitious young man that wished to better the world. Albus Dumbledore had been the true evil of Britain, seeking to hold his own power and influence even if it meant manipulating, mutilating, and murdering in the process.
"Albus Dumbledore tried his hardest to lead me, and many others, down a path of darkness to create scapegoats that would help him rise in glory. My hatred and fear blinded me for many years. But I promise you this: never again will I act contrary to the welfare and success of Wizarding Britain."
The new Minister raised his head regally, his eyes narrowed in determination. "Never again will a child be mistreated under my time as Minister. Never again will Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry be used for unjust means. Never again will we allow prejudices to pollute our society. Never again will we dwindle in our power and might as a wizarding community."
When he ended his speech, applause erupted around the room. Hadrian watched as the Minister stepped back, turning to face him and his mother. His mother smiled proudly, her green eyes glittering in pride as she reached for her husband. For a moment the new Minister admired her beauty, amazed at how well this magnificent woman had recovered despite her years of captivity. The hints of aged sorrow that were normally visible in her countenance were now replaced with indescribable joy.
They had campaigned for four long years to reverse the bad publicity and false propaganda of the years. Speeches, meetings, interviews - they were all a common occurrence. They also disbanded the Death Eaters in a sign of diplomacy, and at first it was a hard change for both dark followers and the Dark Lord. But they had gradually adapted, as sacrifices were necessary for victory. And now, after all the blood, sweat, and tears from their hard work, their vision had finally been realized.
"I love you, Minister Slytherin," Caroline whispered teasingly in his ear.
"And I love you, my darling wife," he whispered back.
They pulled back, and the Minister's gaze snapped to his son. Hadrian grinned at his father, his emerald eyes alit with joy as he stepped closer.
"Hopefully your tutelage as Minister will not result in any major changes in the Auror department," Hadrian remarked smartly.
His father smirked. "There is no need for that, my son. From what I hear the Auror department has never been so exceptional."
Hadrian grinned cheekily. "I hear the new Head Auror is quite the tyrant. You sure you won't sack him?"
The Minister wrapped an arm around his son, who was now his same height much to his chagrin. "Wouldn't dream of it," he replied instantly. "He takes after his father, after all. I would expect nothing less."
Hadrian moved to embrace his mother, and the Minister watched the exchange with inner joy.
Years of upholding expectations had drained him, as well as his son. Now they were no longer restrained by such pretenses.
The wizarding world had a long way to go before all was well. Prejudices and hatred still ran amuck. But they were slowly fixing it.
His wife and son still struggled on a daily basis to fully overcome their past demons, as did he, but each day together their suffering lessened. It may not be perfect but it's a start.
The days of keeping appearances had passed and they would never again return.
The election of Tom Marvolo Riddle Slytherin would be remembered for centuries to come. It ushered in a new age of Wizarding Britain. Their alliances formed prior to the Final Battle held strong, and soon the Wizarding World became an international unified front against prejudice and corrupted magical culture. Dangerous substances such as love potions became banned, while dark arts and light arts were taught equally to reach out to all individuals with different natural magical preferences. Students were taught to use magic wisely, both dark and light. A program was also created to help orphaned and abused children, and muggleborns were carefully observed from birth to ensure fair treatment and understanding of wizarding culture. The former Dark Lord and Dark Lady were perfect examples to the world of pure and strong leadership.
After Minister Tom Marvolo Riddle Slytherin's retirement, his son, Hadrian Marvolo Riddle Slytherin, was elected. He and his wife, Daphne Greengrass Slytherin, continued the legacy of the Dark Lord and Lady. As predicted, Daphne accepted his marriage proposal instantly, stating sarcastically afterwards that "I thought I was going to be forced to get on my knee and propose to you!"
They had three children together. Their eldest, Thomas Hadrian Marvolo Slytherin, was rightly named. He took after his grandfather in appearance and love for politics and culture, and he fulfilled his grandfather's dream of teaching at Hogwarts as the Defense teacher and Slytherin Head of House. He married Cassandra Alice Longbottom, the only child of Neville and Pansy Parkinson Longbottom. Cassandra was clumsy like her father, which her husband found endearing, but her gentleness and intelligence were what really captivated Thomas in the first place.
Their second child, Selene Caroline Narcissa Slytherin, possessed little patience for politics. Rather, she chose to strive to mark her place in the history of the Auror department and be greater than even her father. Although Selene appeared much like Daphne, her mother swore that she was exactly like Hadrian in temperament. She married Hugo Nott, the eldest child of Theodore and Hermione Granger Nott and a leading diplomat for Britain.
Their third child, William Lucius Severus Slytherin, had Hadrian's dark hair and features but his mother's piercing blue eyes. His interest was on furthering research to help others, and he became a renowned healer for his medical discoveries. He married a brilliant muggleborn witch named Emily Finch, thoroughly ending any accusations of the Slytherin family prejudice. They met for the first time at the wizarding primary school, formed by Theodore and Hermione Nott to create a platform for muggleborns, half-bloods, and purebloods to come together to learn before Hogwarts. This school, called the Theodore and Hermione Nott School for Young Magical Education, or the YME for short, was designed to integrate muggleborns into wizarding culture and ways before entering Hogwarts.
Theodore and Hermione's second child, Rose Amelia Nott, acted as the headmistress of the YME when she reached adulthood. She soon married Scorpius Malfoy, the sole heir of Draco and Astoria Greengrass Malfoy, and they managed the primary school together for five decades before passing it onto their grandchildren.
The introduction of a young magical school was the first of many changes in this era. With the financial support of Sirius Black, as well as their own fortunes, Blaise and Ginerva Weasley Zabini pioneered and supported numerous foundations, all focused on the protection of magical children. They had four children of their own, all with flaming red hair. Arthur Hadrian Zabini, the eldest, played quidditch professionally and eventually married Holly Wood, the daughter of Oliver and Katie Bell Wood. Their next child, Cora Molly Zabini, became a well-established lawyer, and she married Gregory Nott, the last Nott child who worked with William Slytherin as a healer. Their third and fourth children, the twin boys, were named Frank Frederick Zabini and Gabriel George Zabini. The twins took after their uncles in mischief, continuing the marauder legacy.
Frank helped run the Weasley family joke shop business and eventually married a half-blood witch named Gina Lewis, daughter of Padma Patil and a muggle named Jordan Lewis.
Gabriel married Serenity Flint, daughter of Marcus and Luna Lovegood Flint. Luna became a psychologist after Hogwarts, and she helped Marcus overcome his personal struggles with having to kill during the Final Battle. A romance blossomed after that. Gabriel and Serenity restarted the production of the Quibbler, and it became a leading newspaper focused on declaring truth at any cost.
Severus Snape and Bellatrix Black were never formally married, as neither wanted to fuss over a wedding for a love they already knew was unbreakable. They didn't need an official marriage contract to tell them that. When Severus suggested a formal event, Bella firmly stated that "she had been married once, and once was enough for a lifetime." It was never mentioned again. Nonetheless, the couple was happy for all their years together, and they miraculously birthed one child despite their age. Her name was Stella Eileen Snape, and she was best friends with Thomas Slytherin. She inherited her father's talent and passion for potion making, and she met her husband, Victor Obelensky, at an international potions convention. Victor was the eldest son of Bulgarian Minister Obolensky, a good friend and ally of the Dark Lord.
Wizarding Britain had never been more powerful, peaceful, and joyful since the days of the founders. Hundreds of years from now young wizards and witches will whisper the names of the Dark Lord and Lady, and their son, with reverence and awe.
But one name will never be remembered, the Dark Lord ensured that. The name Albus Dumbledore was blotted out from every historical record, referring to him only as the Headmaster of the Dark Period. It was a revenge that was truly sweet.
Albus Dumbledore wanted to live on forever through his great name, but it will be forgotten. He will be forgotten.
But, as Hadrian Marvolo Riddle Slytherin had predicted, his story will be remembered forever.
I hope you all enjoyed the extra detail at the end of what happens afterwards with their children and such. I was a little dubious about adding it, but I felt you all deserved some extra information. By the end it just felt right to include it.
Wow. I can't believe it's finally finished. I started this project almost 4 years ago. Thank you so much to everyone who has stuck with me as this story has progressed. Your encouragement and support has been huge in me finishing this story! Please, please leave me a final review and let me know what you thought of this chapter and the story as a whole. If I reach 1,000 reviews it would be a dream come true!
Alas, I have reached the point where I am now redirecting my attention to my personal writing. For that reason I will most likely never return to the world of fanfiction. Nonetheless, I wish all of you happy writing and reading. :)