Waiting for Godot … erm … Harry
A/N – Not certain where this one came from, other than someone asking "How long would Albus have waited for Harry to show up?" The usual disclaimers apply – everything recognizable with the exception of the concept of archangels belongs to JK Rowling and her various and sundry corporate partners. The concepts behind the title for the story and the chapter belong to their respective authors.
Also, this story ends up Lunar Harmony (H / Hr / L) though that really doesn't impact the story to a great amount. For anyone who finds that objectionable, please either stop about 7500 words in while it's still 1998 and they're still flirting with each other or give this story a pass.
Chapter 1 – "Hell no, Headmaster!" Said the Bookworm
Anteroom of the Afterlife Local time immaterial – about 10 pm, 1 May 1998 back in Scotland
Looking around with a satisfied expression on his face, Albus Dumbledore conjured a comfortable armchair into the middle of what appeared to be Platform 9¾ and sat down to wait. Even now, poor Severus was dying and passing along the key information to Harry regarding his ultimate fate.
Folding his hands across his knee, Albus closed his eyes and relaxed back into the chair. Time enough to banish it without being noticed once Harry arrived with the fragment of Tom's soul in tow. Mustn't have anything out of place to distract the poor boy as he finishes his part of 'The Greater Good'.
Ticking off in his head the plans he had skillfully woven together over the past half-century to see his protégé Tom Riddle return from his adolescent folly of pursuing immortality at any cost, Albus Dumbledore was content that he had successfully left no one with any choice but to do what he had scripted out for them.
Severus was finally getting his wish to die in an attempt to atone for his betrayal of Lily Evans, Tom would soon come face to face with the fact he was mortal and he would have to reconsider his plans for overt world domination, bringing him back into the plans that Albus had crafted for him.
And Harry would be so overwhelmed with the knowledge that he was a Horcrux and that he must die to allow his nemesis to be destroyed that he would immediately make his way to the Forbidden Forest to embrace his fate at the hands of Tom Riddle. The rest of his pawns were immaterial by this point. While it would be best if the Longbottom heir destroyed Nagini, it really didn't matter who as long as it was done. Anything the rest of them did or didn't do would be immaterial, survival included.
Tom would then realize he was mortal and break off from the attack on Hogwarts. Since he was as intelligent as he was ambitious, he would see that dropping his Lord Voldemort persona would allow him to reenter wizarding society and begin to work through the system to remake the wizarding world into Albus' vision of 'The Greater Good'. The compulsions that he had placed in the boy's mind all those years ago would finally come to the fore and allow him to take his rightful place as the leader of a new era.
'Minister of Magic, Tom Marvolo Riddle' has a nice ring to it.
Smiling contentedly, Albus relaxed and waited. It was only a matter of time before Harry arrived. Regretting the fact that he had no awareness of the passing of time in the mortal world where he was, Albus reached into his pocket for a lemon drop and began to patiently wait.
11pm 1 May, 1998 – The Great Hall, Hogwarts
A sudden tightness gripped Hermione's chest as Harry's face flashed unbidden before her mind's eye. Realizing that they had lost contact with Harry as they entered the Great Hall, it didn't take long for Hermione to puzzle out where Harry, carrying the memories of Professor Snape, must be.
Looking around, she saw that Ron was with his family as they gathered around the body of Fred. Taking stock of everything that had happened over the last hour, Hermione tried focusing on Ron and the grief he was feeling, but her thoughts kept circling back to Harry.
At that moment, the scene in the hallway when she had kissed Ron earlier sprung to mind. And rather than focusing on the kiss between her and Ron, all she could see in great detail was the look on Harry's face right as it happened.
A look of loss and pain.
A look as if his heart had just been ripped from his chest.
Which was promptly replaced by a weak smile and a joke.
As if waking from a slumber, the analytical side of Hermione's personality took over as the shock of realizing Harry was less than thrilled with the relationship between his two best friends settled in.
"How does seven years of treating me horribly get swept away by getting it right just once?" was the first thought that popped up on Hermione's mental whiteboard she used for problem solving. Unable to find a good answer for that question, Hermione decided that she could spend a moment trying to puzzle this out.
Realizing it wasn't going to be reined in, her analytical self quickly added, "Exactly when did you finally give up on Harry and decide to settle for Ronald?" Adding "Shell Cottage" as the obvious answer to the board, Hermione looked for a good reason to have done that and came up with nothing.
"Which one came up with a plan to rescue you at Malfoy Manor?"
Harry, she conceded. Ron's ranting and running around like a headless chicken did nothing but distract everyone while she was being tortured. Rubbing a hand over the scars on her arm, she remembered the look on Harry's face when he arrived at Shell Cottage.
"Who jumped on the back of a twelve foot troll and who stayed in the doorway, a step away from safety?"
On and on went the entries, and every time the action was positive, Harry's was the name beside it on the board. When it was hurtful, inconsiderate, or of no help at all, Ron's.
The final line mentally floored her as she read it.
"If this were someone else asking you what she should do, and then she told you she kissed Ron, what would Occam's razor tell you?"
The first thing that came to Hermione's mind was a love potion, which was followed by two memories back to back.
Mrs. Weasley sitting there and telling her and Ginny about using a love potion when she was in school.
Fleur Weasley handing her a potion vial that Hermione recognized as a universal antidote for potions or enchantments that affect or control the emotions and urged her to take it 'before it was too late to do any good' as they left Shell Cottage for Gringotts.
Not allowing herself to think or rationalize, Hermione dug into her beaded bag and retrieved the vial that Fleur had given her. Realizing that Fleur being married to a curse-breaker, being a curse breaker in training herself, well on her way to her Mastery in both Charms and Potions, and the fact that her Veela heritage would not only allow her insight into the hearts and minds around her, would leave Fleur well equipped to not only spot a problem but to craft an effective remedy, Hermione popped the seal on the vial with her thumb with a single move and downed the contents in one pull.
As the potion hit home in her stomach, it was as if her entire being was undergoing a rebirth. Layers of forgotten memories replaced the lies that had been put into place to obscure them, while her normally observant nature began to go over things she did remember and had chosen to ignore. Like the book she had seen in Ron's belongings in the tent.
As Harry's face flashed into her mind's eye again, she knew what she needed to do.
As the grizzled house elf appeared next to her with a subtle 'pop', she held up her hand to forestall his usual rant.
"Kreacher, you can call me names to your heart's content later. Right now I need information and I need to know if you'll help me help Harry."
The look on Kreacher's face underwent a transformation as she mentioned Harry. Taking a good look at the witch in front of him, Kreacher came to a conclusion and sketched a very shallow bow.
"Mistress has finally decided to help Master. Kreacher will help Mistress."
"Where is he?" Not waiting to puzzle out Kreacher's logic, Hermione decided that she would take what assistance she could get.
"Do you know where he is?" Seeing Kreacher nod, she held out her hand.
"Take me to him," she ordered. Seeing the gleam in Kreacher's eye, she didn't have time to repent of her phrasing as the elf grabbed her hand and she was elsewhere.
Suddenly, Kreacher and Hermione found themselves standing on a playground watching a pair of child around ten or eleven. Seeing that one was unmistakably a much younger Severus Snape and the other had a very uncanny resemblance to Ginny Weasley as a first year, Hermione deduced that the young girl was Harry's mother and that they were in the memories that Professor Snape had provided.
Looking around, Hermione could see Harry standing a couple of yards away, watching the ongoing interaction, but she couldn't get his attention. Turning to Kreacher with a puzzled expression, she was surprised when he answered her before she asked.
"We did not enter with Master Harry, so all we can do is follow along and learn what he learns as he learns it," was Kreacher's reply to her unasked question. Seeing the look on her face, Kreacher shook his head.
"We won't get left behind. Now watch so you can properly interpret what the old meddler has left for the Master to learn."
Quelling her curiosity, Hermione watched and listened closely as Harry lived the memories that Snape had provided as he was dying. The interactions of Lily and Petunia with a younger Severus Snape was soon replaced by watching the scene from platform 9¾ and the fight between Lily and Petunia, fueled by Severus' prompting Lily to read her sister's letter to the Hogwarts Headmaster.
Seeing Snape's initial dismissal of Lily's sister as merely being a muggle, Hermione saw that the seeds of the conflict between the two sisters had been planted and nurtured by Severus in an attempt to isolate Lily from her family, hoping to make her dependent upon him.
Already planning on being in Slytherin House, Snape's initial conflict with a young James Potter and Sirius Black saw Lily taking the side of her only friend in a strange environment.
As scene shifted to scene, Hermione watched with horror as she could see Dumbledore's manipulations mixed with Snape's obsession with Lily Evans came together to place Harry on a collision course with Voldemort. As she saw Snape exiting the Headmaster's office with the Sword of Gryffindor, she looked down to Kreacher and said, "Take me out to the office, now."
As the memory version of Dumbledore's office disappeared, Hermione blinked twice before she realized that Harry was lying on the carpet at her feet.
Quickly kneeling down, she gathered Harry up into her arms and held him as he slowly came to. Gently stroking his back, she whispered softly in his ear as she waited for him to recover from being dumped from the memory.
She could tell Harry was back when he started struggling in her arms.
"Easy, Harry. I've got you," she whispered as he slumped in her arms. "I saw it all, I know everything."
"Then you know what I must do," was his whispered reply. "I've got to go to and face Tom so you and Ron…"
"There is no 'Ron and I'," she interrupted as she placed a finger on his lips. "Fleur gave me the same antidote she gave you."
Seeing the disbelieving look on his face, she nodded. "Harry, I didn't take it until just a little bit ago, but I know everything."
Struggling to sit up, Harry pulled away from her and rested with one hand on the floor. "Then you know what I have to do."
"Harry, there's got to be another way," Hermione began. Taken aback at the look of loss and sadness on Harry's face, she reached over and gently cupped his cheek. "There just has to be."
Placing his hand over hers, Harry closed his eyes. "There are two orphaned slices of Tom Riddle's soul left. Nagini has one and I've got the other. Both of us need to die so Tom can follow on."
Pausing for a moment, he chuckled. "Remember, it's 'neither can live while the other survives'." Looking directly in her eyes, Harry smiled bitterly. "You should have left the potions in place for a while."
"You don't think losing you wouldn't have ripped my heart out. Deep down I've always known."
Helping him to his feet, Hermione watched the resigned cast to Harry's features. Coming to a decision, Hermione tried one last time.
"Nothing I can say will stop you?"
Seeing him shake his head, not trusting his voice, Hermione smiled sadly. "Do you have your cloak?"
Seeing him nod, she leaned forward and kissed him gently on the cheek. As he turned to exit, she waited until his hand was on the door before she spoke.
"I'm sorry, Harry."
As he stopped at the tone in her voice, he started to throw himself to the side as she said, "Stupefy!"
As Harry slid bonelessly to the floor, Hermione moved to catch him to keep him from hurting himself when he hit the floor. Easing him down, she slid his cloak out and draped it over him.
Standing back, she levitated the cloaked Harry into the air and out of the office.
Passing through the corridors and up the stairs, she made her way to the seventh floor and the door to the Room of Requirement. Gently placing Harry on the floor next to the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, she took a second to compose herself. Crossing the corridor, she opened the door and stepped inside.
Looking around, she saw that the only person still present was Ginny Weasley. Composing her features to mask her feelings of disgust and loathing, Hermione hoped she looked happy to see the red-haired witch.
"Ginny, Harry's down in the Great Hall," Hermione began. Seeing the younger witch's eyes light up, she continued. "He's asking for you. I think he has something that he wants to ask you before he goes to defeat Voldemort."
Seeing the involuntary shudder when she mentioned Tom Riddle's assumed name, Hermione repressed the urge to gloat in favor of her plan. "Hurry, Harry got a small box out of his parent's vault while we were at Gringotts and he said that it was for you."
Barely stepping out of the way before Ginny barreled through the door, Hermione waited for a couple of seconds before closing the door again. Pausing to give a name to the configuration that the room was currently in so she could return it to its current state once she finished with her attempt to save Harry from Dumbledore's plot and his own selflessness, she began to pace back and forth, with only one thought on her mind.
Focusing all of her concentration and prayers on the mantra "I need something and somewhere to safely remove the Horcrux from Harry without killing him," she took a deep breath as she reached for the knob of the ornate door that appeared before her. Looking a bit familiar, she pulled the door open.
And stared in horrified disbelief.
Instead of a room, she found herself looking at a corridor with a small table sitting against the left hand wall. Except for the table, which had an ancient looking tome sitting on it, the corridor looked eerily familiar.
It was the corridor leading from the revolving room in the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry in London.
Shaking her head in disbelief, she began muttering "No, it can't be" over and over until a voice in the seventh floor corridor behind her interrupted her train of thought.
"It might help if you read the book on the table, Hermione."
Spinning around, wand at the ready, Hermione came face to face with Luna Lovegood, who was staring at her with and amused expression on her face.
"Never thought you'd be the one to kidnap Harry so she could have her wicked way with him," Luna continued, all the while ignoring the fact Hermione had her wand pointed at her. "I always figured that was more Ginny or Daphne's style."
Shaking herself, Hermione stared at Luna for a couple of seconds before a question beyond her control came tumbling from her lips.
"Daphne? As in Daphne Greengrass?"
Smirking, Luna stepped forward and put the palm of her hand flat against the tip of Hermione's wand and gently applied enough pressure to get her to lower it.
"Of course I meant Daphne Greengrass. Daphne Churchill in Hufflepuff is much too shy to kidnap anyone," Luna explained. "And the fact she's a second-year might put her at a distinct disadvantage in holding onto Harry after she's had her way with him."
"Luna, I don't have time to chat about witches having their way with Harry. I'm trying to find a way to …"
"Remove the Horcrux from his scar without him having to let Voldemort kill him," Luna finished with an exasperated air. "I know all about that. This is why you need to read the book so we can take Harry to the Death Chamber."
"Luna, killing Harry myself is hardly an acceptable alternative to Voldemort doing it," Hermione began. Walking over to where Harry was resting against the wall, she reached down and removed the cloak from over him.
"I asked the Room for a way to remove the Horcrux without killing him"
"And that's exactly what you've been given," Luna replied cheerily. Pointing her wand at Harry, she levitated the unconscious wizard and started moving him into the corridor. "Come along, Tom's not going to wait all night you know."
Staring in disbelief, Hermione watched as Luna carefully moved Harry down the hallway and gently deposited him beside the table. Placing her hands on her hips, she looked back at Hermione and started patting her foot on the floor.
"Just read the entry about the Veil of Enoch, if you still have any questions we can discuss them then."
Moving up the corridor, Hermione heard the door close behind her as she reached the table Luna was standing beside. Looking down at the ancient tome, which was opened about three quarters of the way through, she saw that the illuminated heading on the left hand page showed a representation of the Veil of Death from the Ministry and was titled 'The Veil of Enoch'.
Reading through the passage, Hermione saw that the presence of the Veil was the reason that the Ministry was situated where it was. While there was no real evidence that the biblical patriarch was actually associated with the artifact, the name came from the fact that persons who passed through the Veil were not killed, they were simply directly routed to whatever place in the afterlife they had earned for themselves, for better or for worse.
One could pass a limb or their head into the Veil and suffer no ill effects. Only when the entire soul was passed through the Veil would it function. And since the soul, normally, inhabited the entire body, persons fully entering the Veil passed through never to return.
Reading further into the text, Hermione saw with a bit of intellectual interest that the Veil functioned on only those with a soul. Animals and other lower creatures without souls could pass through the Veil without fear, but when a soul passed through the Veil's boundaries, it and the shell that spawned it were immediately transported, intact, to the afterlife. Presumably for immediate disposition or judgment.
After puzzling through the arithmancy equations by the fameous wizard Michael Scot regarding the hypothetical effect of the Veil on a person or entity who's soul had been severely damaged and wondering, with a slight shiver, whether or not he had had access to an individual with a Horcrux to come to the conclusion that the fate of a portion of a soul effected the entire thing, she sighed in exasperation.
Turning to ask Luna exactly how this would help Harry, since even though the Veil wouldn't kill him, having him bodily transported to his final reward wasn't what she was looking for, she stopped and stared.
As her brain finally focused upon what she had read, a smile crossed her face and reached her eyes for the first time in days. Spinning around and staring at Harry, who was still unconscious on the floor where Luna had left him, she pumped her fist in the air and crowed with joy.
"Exactly what I thought," Luna commented dryly. "Since the soul fragment is isolated to Harry's scar, if we just stick his head through…"
"The Veil will send that particular fragment of Voldemort's soul and all the rest to his just reward." Pausing for a second, Hermione looked a bit puzzled and turned around to look at Luna. "Any idea what happened to those fragments we've been destroying?"
Twirling her wand around a couple of times before sticking it behind her ear, Luna smiled guilelessly. "My guess is that they're either being held like a set of Stubby Boardman commemorative tour butterbeer corks waiting for the entire set to get there to be judged, or if the Powers are really annoyed with him, each soul fragment got judged and punished individually."
Pausing for a second, Luna stared at Hermione with a very cheeky grin.
"Do we really care?"
"Not in the least, Luna. Not in the least."
Turning around, Hermione levitated Harry up from the floor. Before she could move forward, Luna went over and removed Harry's moleskin bag from around his neck and hung it around her own. Seeing the surprised look on Hermione's face, Luna rolled her eyes.
"There's stuff in there that we don't want too close to the Veil. No sense saving the world and Harry from Voldemort if we then go and blow 3000 acres of central London to Belgium because we slid a bit too much of Harry into the Veil."
Leaving Hermione staring at her, Luna skipped down the corridor to the door at the end. As Hermione followed after her, trying to be careful not to brush Harry up against the walls, the older witch was trying to decide whether or not Luna was serious, and if she was if there was a basis for worrying. As she caught up to her, before she could say anything, Luna answered.
"Harry's wand is in that bag. While wands aren't sentient, per se, they do have a rudimentary awareness to them. Also, whatever Professor Dumbledore left Harry in that snitch probably shouldn't be brought too near to the Veil."
Turning around and looking at Hermione with an expression that was very serious, Luna added. "Not that I know what's in there, but one can't be too careful."
Reaching for the door knob, Luna turned it gently and opened the door. Instead of the circular spinning room that they had encountered when they had invaded the Department of Mysteries two years ago, this time the door opened directly into the Death Chamber.
As Luna skipped over to the Veil, Hermione followed at a much slower pace. As she reached the dais that the Veil was on, she looked at Luna who was standing there staring into the Veil.
The quirky blonde was sticking her hand into the Veil and smirking as it didn't come out the other side. Seeing the worried look on Hermione's face, Luna sighed and pulled her hand out and waved it about.
"See? Nothing the matter, except for the fact it stripped off my nail polish." Sitting down on the dais, Luna smiled up at Hermione.
"Go on, stick his head in there. Since Harry's not wearing nail polish on his head, we shouldn't have any effects other than losing the Horcrux."
Taking a deep breath, Hermione began to slowly move Harry towards the Veil, head first. The closer he got to the Veil, the more distinct the voices and murmurings that seemed to be coming from the Veil became.
The voices became louder as the top of Harry's head passed through. Just then, Harry's eyes flew open as the scar entered the Veil.
At that moment, several things happened at once.
In the Death Chamber, a high pitched keening started coming from the Veil. Startled, Hermione allowed Harry to drop a couple of inches, but she held him steady with his forehead within the Veil, but his eyes on the outside of it.
In a clearing in the Forbidden Forest, Nagini exploded and a stream of black mist started moving at high speed towards London.
This caught Voldemort's attention, and he stopped paying attention to Bellatrix who was writhing and groveling at his feet. Feeling the channel in his thoughts that led to his connection to Potter's mind open, Voldemort's eyes opened wide when he realized that it wasn't Potter on the other end of the connection.
And that the Entity that was not Potter was less than pleased.
Before he could do or say anything else, Lord Voldemort nee Tom Riddle experienced the very unpleasant sensation of having the remainder of his soul pulled forcefully though that connection.
As his soul was dragged from his body, which was more magical construct than natural being, the body began to break down into its component parts in front of all of his followers. The robes he was wearing dropped in a heap in front of Bellatrix's disbelieving eyes and his wand clattered to the ground.
Harry managed to sit upright, still being levitated by Hermione's spell, clearing his head from the Veil just as the Veil began to glow painfully bright with silver light that flooded the room. Locking his eyes on Hermione's, Harry felt as if he were the laundry from one of those anthropological shows about indigenous peoples that played on the BBC late at night. Dumped in a river, pounded on a rock, and then left out in the tropical sun to dry. He was clean and renewed, but definitely worked over in the process.
As the last two fragments of Voldemort's soul reached the Veil, a horrifying scream was heard in the Death Chamber just as every marked Death Eater, scattered over three continents, simultaneously grabbed their left arms as searing pain coursed through their bodies. More soul searing than any Cruciatus they had ever endured, the pain went on for over a minute as the connection between the Mark and their magic drained the magical cores of each and every marked Death Eater.
As their magic faded, those that were adults had their appearance age until it matched what a muggle would look like at their actually age. For the wizards and witches, instead of eighty being the magical equivalent of muggle forty, they suddenly found out what eighty in the muggle world was like. Eighty without any of the benefits of modern muggle medicine.
Those whose magic was sustaining their life against injuries or ailments that they had suffered over the years succumbed to the physical effects that magic had been holding at bay for so long.
Pandemonium erupted in the clearing in the Forbidden Forest as the Death Eater followers of Voldemort suddenly found themselves without magic or magical protections and physically weakened standing in the middle of the vile creatures that had flocked to their leader's banner, all ignoring their natural inclinations and hatreds due to the power of Voldemort until this moment.
Since Voldemort's power and authority no longer called them, and the Death Eaters were without protection of their own abilities, the vampires, werewolves, giants, and other creatures that were present turned on the Death Eaters who were all stunned senseless at the loss of their magical powers.
Narcissa Malfoy, since she had never taken the Dark Mark, found herself in possession of her faculties and her magic, surrounded by hostile creatures and Voldemort's former elite. Quickly making up her mind, she made a move to grab the wand that the Dark Lord had dropped which was on the ground by her sister Bellatrix, but when the wand disappeared with a pulse of silver energy, she cut her losses and apparated out of there to the front gates of Hogwarts, intent on finding her son Draco.
Back in the Death Chamber, the silver light that flooded the room reached an intensity that made it difficult for the three teens in the room to see anything clearly. Unnoticed was the small pulse of light that occurred when the Elder Wand appeared in the Death Chamber, but what happened next was very apparent.
The Elder Wand flew into Harry's outstretched hand just as the light in the room began to coalesce around the three teens. Harry's moleskin bag seemed to shimmy before the snitch that Albus had bequeathed to Harry came flying out, with Luna catching the snitch by reflex.
As the small golden ball was encased in Luna's hand, it opened and her fingers curled around the stone that was inside of it. Hermione, holding Harry's invisibility cloak, Luna holding the stone, and Harry holding the wand all three felt a connection form between themselves and the artifact that they held.
A beam of golden light erupted from the tip of the Elder Wand, struck the Cloak, and then ricocheted over and stuck the Resurrection Stone before glancing off and returning to the Wand.
As the glowing triangle stabilized, a tall imposing figure appeared in the center. Almost seven feet tall, the glowing, winged figure seemed to fade into view. Seeing the tall, imposing figure, Luna's face brightened with recognition.
"Clarence, you didn't mention you were going to stop by for this earlier."
Staring in disbelief, Hermione kept turning her attention from the imposing figure of what could only be an angel, and an archangel at that, to Luna and back again. Finally giving herself a shake, she rolled her eyes and asked, "Clarence?"
"It's easier if I think about him that way," was Luna's reply as she smiled slyly. "If I talk about a friend no one can see named 'Clarence', people just write it off as me being a bit odd. If I start talking about having an ongoing personal relationship with the Archangel Uriel, …" Trailing off as she could see Hermione's eyes start to glaze over, Luna giggled and turned to Harry.
"Well, you can see the usual reaction,"
"Luna, stop teasing your friends." The Angel of Death's voice was a surprisingly light tenor considering his size and his portfolio. "We haven't much time here; even I can only stretch the moment so long without getting permission from Higher Authority. Now that the three of you have taken control of the Hallows …"
"Hold it, right there." Harry, holding up his hand to cut the Heavenly representative off, he turned his attention to Hermione. Seeing that she was starting to recover from the shock, he gently reached over and took her hand.
"You all right?"
Seeing her nod, Harry turned his attention back to Uriel.
"You're not dragging these two into this mess," he began missing the identical amused looks on the faces of Luna and the angel and the shock on Hermione's. "I've been saddled with this mess since I was a baby, but you're not involving them any further." Turning to the witches, Harry tried to look stern.
"You two were tricked into this, give me the cloak and the stone and then you two can hightail it back to Hogwarts while I worry about what comes next."
Hermione's indignant response was derailed by Luna breaking into a fit of laughter. Settling to the ground, Luna began laughing harder than when she was back on the train and Ronald had been going on about giving Goyle lines. Repeating "what comes next" over and over, Luna laughed uncontrollably while both Harry and Hermione stared at their friend in disbelief.
Finally, after Uriel cleared his throat several times, Luna stopped and used the back of her hand to wipe her eyes, while holding onto the Resurrection Stone. Looking up at Harry, she stuck her tongue out at him.
"Harry, neither of us are going to do that. Hermione's spent the last seven years trying to keep you from getting killed, or worse expelled, so she's hardly going to quit now just because you're trying to go all 'Boy Who Lived' on us and I've already discussed what comes next with both Uriel and Daddy, so you're just going to have to accept the fact that you're no longer the sole center of the universe and live a little."
Gobsmacked, Harry turned from staring at Luna in disbelief to Uriel. Seeing that the Heavenly messenger was simply standing there and looking a bit amused at his reaction, Harry turned finally to Hermione, hoping to find a voice of sanity.
What he got was an enraged brunette.
"Harry James Potter. I'm going to credit that last little bit to shock from being awoken while Voldemort's soul fragment was being ripped out of your head and the fact you really haven't had time to think about things, especially since someone seems to have been hiding the fact that the bloody Angel of Death, was involved in this entire affair." Taking a deep breath, Hermione turned her attention for a moment to Luna, who was still seated on the floor and giggling.
"And you can just stop that. While I agree with your sentiment that Harry's not going to push the two of us off to the sidelines, you have quite a bit of explaining to do once we get back to school."
Turning her attention back to Harry, Hermione glared at him for a moment before breaking into tears and pulling him into a hug. Crying furiously, she kept repeating, over and over, "I almost lost you" with her face buried into Harry's chest.
Not knowing exactly what to do, Harry wrapped his arms around Hermione and started awkwardly patting her on the back. Looking over at Luna who, while smiling beatifically at them, simply gestured for him to keep doing what he was doing to console and reassure Hermione.
The moment stretched on as Luna came over and put a hand on each of the other two. Looking over her shoulder, she smirked.
"I know you were looking forward to doing this whole 'Pronouncement From On High' thing, but I think we need to get things rolling if you want this over anytime soon." Seeing Uriel nod, Luna winked at him.
"I promise, we'll tell everyone you explained the thing in great detail, using a bunch of 'thees' and 'thous' along with the appropriate amount of special effects." As the sound of a distant rumble of thunder reached them, Luna giggled.
"Right then," Luna began. "Short story long, the three of us are now the holders of the Deathly Hallows." Seeing Hermione's head shoot up and the look of panic as what she had said settled in, Luna nodded encouragingly.
"I know that Harry might want to trade with you so he can have his father's old invisibility cloak, we don't really have time at the moment to set up the rules that would allow him to lose a duel to you," Luna continued ignoring the shocked looks on the faces of the others.
"My suggestion is that we lie our bahookies off if anyone ever asks us about them, I'm really not looking forward to explaining to every Tom, Lucius, or Albus that I'm not going to call the spirits of their dearly departed back from the afterlife so they can find out where Aunt Cassie's haggis recipe was stuck before she died."
Pausing for a moment, Luna turned her head a bit so that they couldn't see her face before she continued.
"The fact that the three of us are now the de facto holders of the Hallows means that there are a few changes going to be happening to us and our relationships."
As Hermione opened her mouth to ask Luna to explain, her eyes went wide when she heard, clear as a bell, Harry wondering what Luna was getting at.
In her head.
Turning back to face them both, Luna was smirking broadly as she winked and replied, "Yes?" without opening her mouth.
"Oh this is bad, very bad," was Hermione's panicked response as her eyes flicked from Harry to Luna. "If anyone ever finds out …"
"Hermione, that's very naughty of you," was Luna's amused response to what she had glimpsed in Hermione's thoughts. The crimson blush on Harry's face left no doubt as to whether or not he had been privy to Hermione's train of thought.
"If the three of you will focus on speaking and listening with your ears," Uriel interrupted, "I think we can get though the formalities."
Looking slightly chagrined, Luna nodded. Turning back to the other two, she took a deep breath and released it slowly. Seeing that both of the Gryffindors were regaining their composure, she smiled sweetly, admonished Hermione to "hold that thought", and started.
"Uriel has informed us that since we're the holders of the Hallows, we've been dumped into the middle of trying to sort out magical Britain whether we really like it or not."
"You planned this." Turning on Luna, Hermione was glaring at the younger witch. "That whole routine with Harry's pouch …" Trailing off, Hermione blushed as Harry looked at her in disbelief. "I mean she grabbed your bag …"
Pulling up Harry's moleskin pouch, Luna waited until Harry nodded to her before letting Hermione see her holding it up. Shaking her head at the blushing brunette, Luna cheekily winked at her.
"As I was saying before someone interrupted, I 'saw' that Hermione would finally realize that she'd been duped and potioned, so I simply waited for you on the seventh floor to bring Harry to find a suitable solution."
Looking at Uriel for a moment, Harry then looked down at the wand in his hand. Shaking his head, held the wand up. "And this paints a target on all of our backs, if we do it this way."
Looking puzzled, Luna paused flipping the Resurrection Stone into the air and looked at Harry. "I don't see how. Everyone 'knows' that Voldemort took the Wand of Destiny from Dumbledore's tomb," she said airily. Pausing for a second as she could both see and 'hear' Hermione's objection, she smiled.
"Well, everyone will 'know' as soon as we spoon-feed the proper story to Rita Skeeter. Voldemort desecrating Dumbledore's tomb to take his wand for his confrontation with Harry Potter only to be foiled by a desperate secret ritual carried out by the valiant 'Boy-Who-Lived' and his two stalwart witches who risked sacrificing their sanity and lives to destroy the power of a Dark Lord."
Seeing the disbelief in both Harry and Hermione's eyes, Luna giggled. "It beats the heck out of telling everyone that Harry was a Horcrux and two teenage witches broke into the Department of Mysteries, again, and stuck his head through the Veil of Death and now we've ended up with the Deadly Hallows. We can make it sound as desperate as we need to. Frantic research in the Restricted Section," pausing for a second, Luna leaned over, grabbed the Elder Wand from Harry's grasp, waived it once so a decrepit piece of parchment appeared in front of her before handing the glowing wand back to him with an apologetic smile.
"Sorry, and that doesn't count." Pausing for a second, she picked up the parchment and reading over it, she smiled and handed it to Hermione.
"And you found this fragment of a dark ritual while we were in Malfoy Manor that led us to the answer, how to destroy Voldemort."
Staring at Luna as if one of them had lost her mind, and she wasn't quite certain which one was which, Hermione glanced down at the parchment and saw that it was a fragment of a ritual that would condemn the soul of a depraved killer to his or her just rewards by imploring the Powers to judge the offender and offering the souls of the petitioners as forfeit if the person judged wasn't worthy of such a fate. Going pale at the serious repercussions behind invoking such a ritual, she looked up at the Archangel and asked, "This would have worked?"
Leaning over, Uriel studied the Latin text for a moment, and then chuckled. "Well, if you and everyone involved were sincere, I think Gabriel would allow for the two omissions that I noticed in the text." Turning his attention to Luna, he smiled.
"I warned you that those tomes you liberated from the Vatican Archives were flawed. Those folks don't even trust themselves, they have some serious issues. If you get a chance, verify them against the ones you can find in the library of the Metropolitan of Theodosiopolis in Ezurum. The old man who's the librarian there has a sweet tooth, so bringing him some pastries he can't get locally would be a good start towards getting his cooperation."
Turning his attention back to Harry, Uriel nodded solemnly. "We're running out of time here. Your former Headmaster is currently waiting for you to show up with the soul fragment from your scar in tow."
Seeing the shocked looks on the faces of Harry and Hermione, and the scowl on Luna's, the Archangel proceeded to explain Dumbledore's plan to have Harry go out to confront his former pupil, Tom Riddle, in the Forbidden Forest and allow himself to be killed to destroy the Horcrux in his scar. Dumbledore's plan that Riddle, once he realized he was now mortal, would abandon his plan for world domination and retire his 'Lord Voldemort' persona and adopt a more socially acceptable method of world domination, such as the one Dumbledore himself had pursued.
"So right now," Uriel concluded, "Albus Dumbledore is sitting in a small pocket of the afterlife, waiting for you to show up so he can appeal to your sense of duty to get you to perform one small act of rebellion and pass on."
Looking from Hermione to Luna, Harry questioned each one mentally before speaking.
"Let me get this straight, Dumbledore's entire plan to get Voldemort to repent is for me to make him mortal, and he'll suddenly realize that being a rotten bastard isn't a viable career path, so he's going to pretend to repent so he can become the next Dumbledore?"
"Of course, that's coupled with Harry giving up his 'saving people thing' in an act of selfishness to let someone else take care of Riddle instead of going back and doing it himself," Luna chimed in in disgust. "Is it any wonder that wizarding England is in the shape that it's in if that's the quality of leadership we've had for the past century or so?"
"So where does that leave us," Hermione asked. Having given up being annoyed with Luna as a bad option since she couldn't fault the quirky blonde since everything worked and having the Angel of Death in one's corner gave her a bit of credibility, she was transferring all of her anger and frustrations to their departed Headmaster.
"Do we storm Heaven just to give Albus bloody Dumbledore the pantsing he so richly deserves?"
As Harry was about to answer, Uriel held up his hand and chuckled. "While my portfolio is linked to ensuring that mortals end up facing their just rewards, since Mr. Dumbledore has already passed on, he's not currently my problem, per se."
Seeing that all three teens were watching him closely, Uriel returned Luna's knowing smile and chuckled again.
"My advice, if you were to ask, would be to leave things be. He's toyed with Fate enough that Harry will eventually end up onstage for the little piece of melodrama that he's planned, but that doesn't mean that you have to actually play along with him."
Seeing the look of protest on Hermione's face, he quickly added, "And since he has no way to gauge the passing of time since he's out of contact with both Heaven and Earth …"
Looking dumbfounded, Hermione's mind buzzed as she took Uriel's idea to its logical conclusion.
"He won't know how long it takes for Harry to show up, and if we're careful when we do …"
" …the Headmaster will miss our arrival altogether and we can be gone without him noticing."
"We?" Harry asked skeptically.
Taking Harry's arm, Hermione pulled him possessively to her and smiled. "Yes, Harry. 'We'. If you think I'm letting you go off and do something like that on your own, you're mental."
(Lunar Harmony Alert)
Sundown, 31 October 2180 – Potter Manor on the slopes of Mount Snowdon
The room was lit by the cheerfully flickering flames from the fireplace and the softly glowing globes set around the walls. The master suite of Potter Manor was quiet as two of its three occupants fitfully slumbered in each other's arms.
Looking up from where she was sitting by the window, Luna Black nee Lovegood smiled as she watched her spouses sleep. While considered old by even wizarding standards, all three had lived full lives and had been active in the lives of their family until very recently. The traumas that both Harry and Hermione had suffered during their younger life had finally caught up to them in the past year and Luna knew that the two she had loved with all of her heart for over a century and a half were soon to depart onto their Next Great Adventure.
Feeling a familiar presence in the room, Luna sighed noisily as she stretched. "It's soon, isn't it?"
Walking lightly across the floor, the Archangel Uriel moved from his spot by the fireplace and stood by the bed before answering.
"You know I'm not allowed to give specifics Poppet," he replied softly as he gazed at the pair sleeping together. "The tortures young Harry suffered growing up and that ritual in the cemetery took their toll on him."
"And Bellatrix's torture and Dolohov's curse did the same for her," Luna added letting a bit of the bitterness she felt come to the fore.
"I won't stay behind. I won't be the one left to grieve."
"No one's asking you to," Uriel replied as he looked over at her with a longsuffering smile. "No one's allowed to know the day or hour of their Fate, but after all the three of you have suffered things will work out for the best."
"We knew it was soon, when we were finally allowed to pass the Hallows on last spring," Luna replied as she got up from her seat by the window. Even though she knew it was more a gesture than a requirement since Hermione's obsession with Dewey would soon be a pleasant memory for their family, she carefully returned the tome she had been reading to its proper place on the shelf beside the desk before coming over and hopping up on the bed.
Arranging herself so that Harry was between her and Hermione, she smiled as both stopped their restless movements and settled into a deeper sleep. Looking up at Uriel, she smirked. "And beside everything else, it's just fitting for it to be tonight. They found each other on Halloween, Dumbledore's plotting allowed Wormtail to betray Harry's parents on Halloween, it's just karmic that our first and last combined prank on him should be tonight."
"Go in peace, little one," Uriel whispered as he leaned across the bed. Gently kissing first Harry and then Hermione on the top of their heads, he waited until their last breaths came before turning to Luna, who had moved herself beneath the covers and was snuggled into Harry's side.
Seeing the slight nod, Uriel leaned over and gently kissed her on the forehead as she closed her eyes for one last time.
As he stood, he caught her murmured "Night Clarence, see you in a bit," as she breathed her last.
Anteroom of the Afterlife Local time immaterial
"Budge over and hush you two"
Finding herself crouching behind a bench, Luna smirked as she put her arms around Harry and Hermione. Giving a peek over the back of the bench, she could see her former headmaster, Albus Dumbledore sitting patiently in an overstuffed armchair that would have been right at home in the Ravenclaw common room back during her student days watching a portion of the Platform 9¾ that was away from where the Hogwarts Express sat idling.
"What took you so long," was Hermione's whispered reply. "We thought you might have decided to wait. Our first great-great-great-great grandchild was due to be born any day now and little Ari was always one of your favorites."
"Nonsense, we haven't been parted for more than a weekend in over a century. There are plenty of people to look after Ari and the baby. The last time I let the two of you go someplace on your own, you ended up facing down a pair of zombie dragons and wrecking three blocks of the Las Vegas strip."
"Totally not our fault Lu," came Harry's whispered denial. "How were we supposed to know that an evil tenth century necromancer had guarded his tomb with a pair of undead dragons?" Pausing for a second as he winked at Hermione who was blushing at the memory, Harry chuckled.
"Besides, it only took a day to fix the casinos. I think one hundred and four years is a bit long to keep bringing it up, even for you. Are we ready to do this?"
Nodding, all three bunched close together. Having appeared in the Afterlife looking the same as when they first rode the Hogwarts Express well over a century ago, the girls smirked as Harry pulled what appeared to be his old invisibility cloak from inside his jumper and put it over them.
Moving cautiously, the three crept silently across the empty platform until they reached the train. Taking a look over his shoulder and seeing that Dumbledore's attention was still directed towards the place that he expected Harry and the fragment of Tom Riddle's soul to appear, the three quickly entered the train and made their way to the first compartment they could find.
Rushing in, they locked the door behind them and quietly made their way to the window.
Looking out, they could see their former Headmaster was still waiting patiently for Harry's appearance, an appearance he had been patiently awaiting since the spring of 1998.
"Think he'll ever give up," Harry asked as he took one last look out the window before stepping back and plopping noisily into the center of one of the seats in the compartment. "He can't be that convinced he's right, can he?"
Looking over fondly at the wizard she had loved since she met him, Hermione smiled and took her usual position on Harry's right. Toeing off her shoes, she pulled her feet up under her as she snuggled into Harry's side. Seeing that Luna was taking her usual spot on Harry's left, she waited until the other witch was comfortable before reaching across Harry and taking her free hand.
"Albus has no concept of time here, and he's just as convinced that he's the only one who knows what's best as he was before he died." Seeing the knowing smirk on Luna's face, Hermione stretched up and kissed Harry on the cheek.
"He's incapable of imagining things proceeding anyway except for the way he's planned for them to go."
"True, but I think it's time for us to move along," Luna added. Looking up towards the door, she could see Uriel standing in the corridor outside their compartment. Nodding to him, she smiled as she felt the train begin to move. Seeing the archangel return her nod as he faded from view, she squeezed Hermione's hand affectionately and chuckled as she guilelessly looked Harry in the eye and smiled innocently.
"So, Harry. Tell us again how you're planning to introduce both of your wives to your folks when we get there."
Meanwhile, back on the platform, Albus Dumbledore sighed contentedly, knowing that it was just a matter of time before all of his plans would come to fruition. There was no way Harry could escape his fate and everything was going to plan. Soon, all of his planning would be rewarded.
Time for another lemon drop.