Harry Crow

A/N warning - as promised, no cliffy!

Chapter 102

The dark lord looked upon the statue of Robert the Bruce and wasn't impressed. Then again, very little impressed him. One thing did imprint on a young Tom Riddle however, one of his primary school teachers had a way with words that simply mesmerised and inspired the children in his care.

Listening to the enthralling tale of how this noble knight had failed twice already in his quest, and was then forced to hide for his life in a cave, was a memory that still stuck with him after all these years. Hearing how The Bruce gained hope by watching while a spider tried and tried again until it managed to spin its web was awe inspiring to a seven year old Tom Riddle. This was the tiny seed that eventually germinated into his 'never give up and your schemes will come to pass' mentality. Lord Voldemort certainly now realised that part of the story was probably nothing more than an old wives' tale, but it was undeniable that Robert the Bruce won a great victory on this very spot. He also became ruler of his country - which was what had brought the dark lord here.

Unlike The Bruce, Lord Voldemort had spun his own web and now it only remained for his victim to fall into his clutches. When he killed Potter, the dark lord intended to transfigure this statue into a giant likeness of himself before placing the boy's dead body in the effigy's outstretched hands.

They would then remove the muggle repelling charms from the site and head out of the country, returning to their base only long enough to pick up Nagini and the baby. Like Robert the Bruce, Lord Voldemort was destined to rule over this country too - and that journey would start over in earnest today.

-oOoOo-

The echo of the gunshot wasn't heard, Dumbledore's screams of pain drowning out any chance of that happening. After listening to what he'd intended, Alice's finger had tightened on that trigger all of its own accord. The spirit of her best friend, Lily Potter, might have had something to do with this, though Lily would surely have aimed higher up. Alice's gun was now aimed considerably higher up, right between Dumbledore's eyes.

The bullet that had destroyed his knee also caused the old wizard to tumble right off his seat, Dumbledore was now lying on the floorspace between the rows of seats, writhing in agony while an armed Alice coolly towered over him - poised and ready to finish the job.

"You sick bastard, have you ever spoken the truth to us?"

A hand very gently pushed her gun arm down. "Wwwwe're better than him, l…love."

"I know, darling, and he really deserves to spend the rest of his miserable life rotting in Azkaban. Anything happens to our family though, nothing and no one is going to stop me shooting the bastard again."

Severus then stunned Albus, removed his wand and wrapped him in chains for good measure. With a shattered elbow and knee, Dumbledore wasn't going anywhere under his own steam.

Emma was determined her children weren't going anywhere either. She handed Jamie to Sapphire, a crying Luna was sitting next to her goblin friend with Colin trying to comfort his girlfriend. Colin nodded he would take care of all of them before Emma headed down to be with the group. Knowing there were effectively two prime ministers and the goblin ruler standing there, and that Harry was an officer in that same goblin army, Emma couldn't go charging in as protective mummy with all guns blazing. She intended that her opinion would be heard though, and was delighted to see Dan seemed to be on the same wavelength.

"Won't your armour protect you from that spell, Harry?"

"Normally that would be a yes, Dan, but touching that cup with my armour won't activate the portkey. it needs skin contact, specifically mine. It will also stun anyone else who touches the cup along with me."

Emma waited no longer. "Now we know where they are, can't you just all go and get them?"

Harry hated having to give this answer, he just didn't have another. "They're behind wards, mum. By the time we could set up wards of our own to keep them there, they would be long gone - and we would have missed our only chance. We have to be in there to give our warders the time they need to complete their task, before those three disappear again. We are talking about ten seconds, mum, and Amelia will already be using those precious seconds to start bringing down Voldemort's wards."

Hermione wanted to let everyone know Harry wasn't going anywhere without her. "Betsy can make sure I'm right behind you. Between my arrival, Tonks, Neville and Padma - along with the hundreds turning up outside their wards, that should buy us the seconds we need for me to revive you."

"Can't we get that stunner removed from the portkey? This scheme was already too dangerous in my opinion, you arriving into their clutches while unconscious is bloody madness..." Only Dan's arms wrapping around Emma halted her race to hysteria. It was a close call though, and she couldn't rule out visiting that location later.

The Longbottoms and Severus arrived to destroy Emma's last desperate suggestion. "I'm sorry about this, Emma, but it took Dumbledore hours to weave that spell through the portkey. It would take him hours to remove it too, but that was before Alice put a couple of bullets in him. He couldn't do it now, even if we trusted him with a wand - something I wouldn't recommend. Having looked into his mind, Albus Dumbledore is one sick, twisted individual."

It was Barchoke who summed the situation up. "They have a plan that has a fair chance of working but we're going to need a decision - and soon. These five are the ones who are going to be in danger, I think it's their decision to make..." The Ambassador found himself being interrupted by Neville.

"I think it's Harry's decision to make. We'll be right behind him but it's his life that's on the line here. He says go, Padma and I will have his back." Tonks quickly agreed with that sentiment, where Harry went she would follow.

Taking Hermione's hand, Harry asked for her help with this decision. "It's us, Hermione, from now until the end. This is certainly something that affects both of us, so what do you think?"

"I think we might not get a better chance, a chance we've all trained bloody hard for. As I've just said, Betsy and I will be right behind you - with the revival spell already on my lips. Then we dance. We can't live the rest of our lives looking over our shoulders for the ambush we know would come one day. Now is our day, Harry, this is our hour."

That was exactly how Harry felt, Hermione just put those same emotions into words far better than he ever could. They both discovered though that someone had already done that job for them, brilliantly too. Professor McGonagall's Scottish lilt was thicker than anyone there had heard it before, as Minerva recited something she obviously knew well.

"Now's the day, and now's the hour; See the front o' battle lour: See approach proud Edward's pow'r- Chains and slaverie! Edward Longshanks wasn't known as the Hammer of the Scots for nothing, and he didn't distinguish between magical and muggle. Rabbie Burns wrote that about the Battle of Bannockburn, something that has a special place in every Scot's heart. That abomination, Voldemort, wants to destroy that association forever, and Dumbledore was helping him! I can make Amelia portkeys that will drop her aurors right on top of the bastards..."

There were a few others in the audience shouting they could do the same. With the mission now a go, there was a load of organising to be done, and quickly. Mad-eye, Shacks and the trio of aurors they had sparred with were prepared for this moment. The aurors were split into five groups and received a rapid refresher course on the best spells for pulling down wards.

Bill had his own group who were doing the same. His group might not rival the auror groups for size but they won hands down on commitment. Arthur, Percy, Penny and the now of age twins were just the members of Bill's family that were involved. The Blacks, Hobsons and Remus would also be hitting those wards with everything they had. The other two champions had been joined by Roger and Cedric, Amos also choosing to fight beside his son. Madam Maxine had insisted on joining too, as had Pomona Sprout, Filius Flitwick and Severus. Since Amelia was in overall charge of the battle, Borislaw and Cornelius intended to fight alongside this group too.

Minerva was making her contribution with the portkeys, she needed to sit down for the last couple and had nothing left to take to any fight. Dan had his own squad of shooters, with Barchoke, Frank and Ramrao. Not one of the fathers would hesitate to put a bullet into any of the three murderers.

Ragnok had teams of warders ready to stop anyone leaving the fight before it was finished, while four squads of warriors were itching for their steel to taste blood. The women, children and warriors these three had murdered that dark afternoon in Diagon Alley would be avenged today, they were all hoping the price paid wouldn't be as high though.

Knowing their centurion was going to enter this battle unconscious, relying on his mate and their friends to rescue him, elevated all five of their statuses even higher within the warriors' ranks and The Nation. If they pulled this off today, the Hall of Heroes would be seeing a new tableau commissioned.

The three mothers were currently hugging the five who would face this. Emma, Smita and Alice considered all of them family, devastated wouldn't even come close to describing their emotions if they didn't all come back.

Amelia was looking over everything, while trying to think of anything they might have missed, when she felt a tug on her robes. She recognised Dobby and Betsy at once, and they had four other elves for company.

"Missie Bones, we's went and seen bad wizards. We's like to show you before you'se go there."

Amelia wasn't sure what was being offered here. "You can show me this, Dobby, without Voldemort knowing about it?"

All six elves were enthusiastically nodding in sync, though it would seem Dobby had been elected spokes-elf. "We's cans do that, easy."

The half a dozen elves began waving their hands and the ground in front of Amelia quickly transformed into a scale model of the battle site. It took her a moment to get her breath back before Amelia shouted, the urgency in her voice stopping everyone. "Harry, you'll definitely want to see this, and so will quite a few others."

A quick explanation of what this was saw the Granger women fussing over a blushing Dobby and Betsy, Harry made a point of thanking the other four too. They all now knew the warded area was slightly smaller than a quidditch pitch. Barchoke was already talking with the elves on the best place to transport his warders while Dan was carrying out the exact same process with the shooters.

They were running out of time, though all were now far more prepared than they thought they could possibly be. Only Harry being stunned was holding them back from cheering at all the good news coming their way. The three couples shared needy kisses with their spouses before getting into position, ready to give the signal.

There were witches sitting in the stadium who had once fancied they had a chance at the Boy Who Lived, watching this drama unfold just emphasised why their chances had always been nil. Harry was deliberately placing his very life in Hermione's hands, and she was prepared to go toe-to-toe with the trio of Voldemort, Lestrange and Rookwood in an effort to save him. As much as they might have coveted the title of Lady Potter, none of them were crazy enough to even contemplate doing that.

Amelia's voice rang around the stadium. "This is it people, do your jobs and the first round is on me. When Harry leaves, we're all right behind him. Counting down, five, four, three, two, one, go!"

The mock-maze supposedly arranged for the third task had long since been vanished, Harry stood in the centre of the arena and reached for the cup. He had no sooner left than Hermione was gone too, holding the little elf's hand. Tonks shouted, 'Potter emergency, go, go, go!' before she was also gone, Padma and Neville were also traveling by holding an elf's hand, the couple quickly leaving too. Within seconds, an arena that had been bursting at the seams was empty, except for the three mothers and Augusta. Sapphire made her way over to return Jamie to his mother while Hannah and Susan brought Astrid over as the group were left with nothing to do but wait for news. A crying Luna raced to the group and was now clinging to Emma and Jamie, this had been a total shock to her.

The rest of the stadium could only sit quietly and await news. Some like Molly, who was sitting trying to comfort Ginny, now had a large stake in this battle too, most of her family had just portkeyed away to fight Voldemort. It was only the sheer number of those who had left to fight alongside them that was offering her comfort, even Voldemort shouldn't be able to resist when faced with what was effectively two armies.

Parvati was weeping in Blaise's arms, having said all that needed saying to the four of them before the event began. Parvati knew if she'd gone down there then it could have affected Padma. They would probably have needed to stun her before she would let her twin go to face this. Blaise had his suspicions but this was way beyond anything he'd imagined. Draco and Pansy were sitting beside them, trying to offer some comfort.

"I guessed what they were planning way back, a part of me wishes I hadn't. It's been horrendous watching them train for this and not being able to help in any way."

Parvati was trying to control her sobs as she spoke. "Just being there for them is all they wanted, Draco. Blaise, we need to go down there, mum will need us now." The four headed to where the group was anxiously waiting for news, knowing today's battle would be measured in minutes - if that.

All around the stadium, children were being comforted by parents or friends. Natalie was nearly as upset as Luna, she clung to her parents - seeking their assurance everything would be okay.

Little Danielle Dugan knew her daddy, Harry, Hermione and Barchoke had all gone off to fight the bad wizards. In her case though, she was the one actually offering comfort. "Mummy, the bad wizards won't stand a chance, not with my daddy and Harry fighting them together. Barchoke and Hermione won't let anything happen to them either." Deborah wrapped their precious daughter in her arms, hoping Danielle was right.

Maggie Creevey was simply inconsolable, it didn't matter what anyone said, she wouldn't believe them. Nothing would work except seeing them all come back.

Jenny was a nervous wreck, clinging to Euan for comfort. Bill had kissed her before a lot of people she knew really well basically just headed off to war. She didn't know anything about magical wars. What Jenny did know though was that, in any type of war, very rarely did everyone make it home alive and in one piece. She was praying like she'd never prayed before that this would be one of those oh so rare occasions.

-oOoOo-

The elation that flashed through the dark lord when the wards warned him there was an incoming portkey was indescribable. Here was his chance for revenge, his chance for redemption in the eyes of his deserting pureblood followers, his chance to get off that bloody island.

The elation vanished instantly though when an unconscious Potter arrived, something wasn't right here. All three already had their wands in their hands, those wands immediately tracked to the girl who had just appeared at Potter's side.

Betsy placed Hermione right beside Harry, she was alarmed though at the three wands now pointed at her beloved mistress. With a snap of her fingers, the trio were knocked onto their arses. "You will not hurt my family…"

After reviving Harry, Hermione could see how much the loyal elf had taken out of herself buying them that time. She was swaying about as if drunk. "Betsy go, be safe."

When Tonks appeared beside her master and mistress, Betsy popped away to the other side of the wards. She would be staying to watch in case her mistress needed her again.

Augustus scrambled back to his feet, disbelief written on his features. Not only were there now three opponents inside their blood wards, what seemed like hundreds more were appearing outside them. Knowing their trap had just been reversed, he looked toward his master and mate - and knew instantly he would die today. They should have left immediately but that wouldn't be happening. His master was enraged beyond reason at being thwarted again, and getting knocked on his arse by a house elf was clearly an insult too far for him, while his beautiful Bella had the bloodlust in her eyes. They wouldn't be going back to collect Marvolo after this battle.

Augustus wouldn't be going anywhere at all. His last thoughts proved to be those about his mate and son, since none of them had seen the witch and wizard that an elf had placed behind them. Powerful cutting curses from Padma and Neville slammed into him, his very last memory was that of an enraged Bella turning to face these new attackers.

The goblins had their ward up in record time and the magic users were all hitting the dark lord's blood ward with everything they had. Warriors and centurions were poised to charge the instant the wards came down, knowing those same magical users would be firing over their heads.

Padma and Neville were in way over their heads. Putting Rookwood down had swung the odds to five against two. When those two were Voldemort and Lestrange though, those odds still weren't in their favour. Bellatrix was faster, deadlier and more powerful than anyone they'd ever faced. She was also clearly mad, as in more than just angry. Foam and spittle was coming from her mouth as curses spewed out her wand, all of them powerful, dark and deadly.

Both of their goblin shields had already been sacrificed to save them from some really nasty shit. When Padma stumbled on the uneven ground, she thought it was all over. Lestrange was on her in a flash, a cruciatus heading in her direction - only for Neville to throw himself in front of the torture curse.

His screams were loud and piercing as Lestrange couldn't resist a bit of taunting. "Oh look, another Longbottom at the end of my wand. I'll need to make sure this one doesn't recover…"

It took four warriors to pull Frank down. Seeing his son under that hated curse caused the retired auror to open fire, even though the wards had yet to come down. There were bullets ricocheting everywhere and someone was going to be hurt. The warriors were as gentle as possible, they just needed to get Frank to stop pulling the trigger.

Harry already had his shield on his arm when he'd touched the portkey. Hermione's revival spell saw him roll and then get to his feet, with his armour now active and his knife in his hand. The sword of Gryffindor was soon out the sheath at his shoulder and in his other hand. He would need everything he had as Voldemort appeared to be seriously pissed-off. Padma and Neville then taking out Rookwood certainly didn't improve Voldemort's mood any. His roll had placed Harry to Hermione's right, with Tonks covering her left. All three were firing spells at Voldemort but he was still managing to return deadly spells at them.

The ground under their feet was just a field, not the best for dodging around on - and that was before spellfire started churning it up. Every time Harry would attempt to get close enough to use his sword, Voldemort increased the rate and ferocity of his spells heading in Tonks and Hermione's directions. Harry was then forced to fire spells and move back to help cover the girls, there would be no victory in taking out Voldemort if it cost one of them their lives. This tactic was effectively forcing Harry to fight Voldemort's type of fight, but all the combatants knew it wouldn't be for much longer. Hence why no one was holding anything back, this was sheer bedlam.

There was an unprecedented amount of magic being poured into those shields so the clock was ticking. Since Both Hermione and Harry had already had their goblin shields shattered too, it simply couldn't go on much longer without someone getting seriously hurt. Harry's worst fears were just borne out as Neville's screams reverberated over the battlefield.

Tonks had no option but to attack Lestrange, the fact that the three of them were barely containing Voldemort at the time couldn't be taken into consideration. Harry was about to change tactics again when Voldemort beat him to it.

Seeing the pink haired one having to switch her attack gave the dark lord the opportunity he'd been working toward. He didn't want to just kill the Potter brat today, he wanted him to die a broken man - and Lord Voldemort knew exactly how to achieve that. Seeing she was distracted by the delicious screams coming from her friend, three curses left his wand in the direction of Potter's bitch.

She managed to dodge two but not the third. It didn't really matter that it only hit her right shoulder, when the killing curse hit - you were dead. Watching her topple to the ground froze Potter, and gave the dark lord a few seconds to enjoy his victory.

"Ah Potter, another mudblood bitch dies trying to save you - and fails. It's time to die, Harry Potter."

Neville's screams had forced Tonks to change targets, the auror was now hitting her aunt with everything she had. Bella though was dealing with it all, and still had time to chat.

"Oh look, a half-blood Black dares to attack her betters. I'll show those sisters of mine who's stronger, they'll know for sure when they're weeping over your body. Avada kedaaaaaa…."

Bella never got to finish the spell as she had just made a critical error. Bella had dismissed Padma, not something that a person who had just tortured Neville should ever do. The enraged witch charged the short distance between them and her flashing blade, with the Longbottom name engraved along its length, sliced through Bella's arm just below the elbow. Tonk's hit her aunt with a stunner just as a second cry rang around the wards, the anguish dripping off this voice would have melted hearts of stone.

Seeing Hermione lying there unmoving, Harry's sword seemed to move on its own. As a heartbroken scream left his lungs, his magic poured from the fabled blade. His grief was mighty and everything he had left was channeled toward defeating his enemy.

Voldemort was just about to cast another killing curse when a bolt of blinding white light shot from the sword and there was no wand left to cast the spell - there was no arm there either. The raw magic had simply vaporised everything it touched, his wand, arm and part of his shoulder before continuing on its way and impacting on the ward.

Dan had tried their doctored bullets the instant they arrived, quickly signalling to the other three they wouldn't penetrate the wards. He was standing watching what appeared somewhat like the deadliest New Year celebrations on the planet. Magic was being poured into the shields, the flashes of light also causing flakes of twinkling magic to drop down on the combatants inside like macabre confetti.

Those inside were also supplying fireworks of their own with spells being fired off at an incredible rate. Seconds almost seemed like hours as they were forced to wait on the wards coming down, never more so than when Neville screamed. Watching as Hermione was hit with that green curse of death seemed to make time stand still, his daughter appeared to take an entire lifetime to collapse to the ground.

Harry's anguished scream restarted time and Dan was firing before he knew it. Harry's magic also hitting the wards was the final push needed to bring them down, Dan's bullet was perhaps the first thing to pass through them. Since Barchoke had shot at the exact same time, it would be impossible to tell who was first. What was unmistakable though was that both bullets impacted with Voldemort's head, he was dead before the maelstrom of spells hit as he fell to the ground.

Tonks had heard Amelia's 'DOWN' and pulled Padma to the ground, the witch was intent on using her blade to finish Lestrange. She pointed Padma at Neville before turning to see a sight that was totally heartbreaking. Harry was crawling to Hermione, trying to protect his mate from any overhead spells by covering her body with his own. The shout of 'CEASE FIRE' brought silence to the field of battle.

Harry was lying protectively over Hermione, knowing it was too late but not caring. He was crying while tenderly moving her beautiful hair from her face, whispering softly in her ear as he embraced the woman he loved. "You are mine, and I will always be yours - now and until the day I die. I am so sorry my love, you fought so bravely..." Harry couldn't say anymore, his imagination was playing tricks on him. He could have sworn Hermione's chest had just risen but the dead don't breathe. He then examined her shoulder to see it was bleeding, something the dead don't do either - and the killing curse doesn't leave a mark. There was no mistake this time, her chest had just risen again.

Warriors had formed a circle around the centurion and his fallen mate, giving him a little time to grieve. They were facing away to provide their centurion with some semblance of privacy so the warriors couldn't really miss both fathers trying to comfort one another. Barchoke had his arm around Dan's shoulder, this was possible because the distraught father was currently slumped on his knees sobbing. Both fathers couldn't quite believe what they heard next.

""Alive! She's alive. We need a healer, get a healer over here quick...""

Ragnok himself was first through the line of warriors protecting the couple, closely followed by a couple of healers. Dan struggled drunkenly to his feet, desperately wanting to believe what he'd just heard but terrified to do so. Leaning on Barchoke was the only reason he was able to approach their fallen daughter. Both gained a semblance of hope from watching the healers work, there was nothing for a healer to do when someone was dead.

Cutting her dragon hide top away, the healers were at once able to see what had happened. ""Centurion, your family armour saved your mate's life. The killing curse can be stopped by a physical barrier, though that barrier is often destroyed. Her golden armour has been blasted into her shoulder and will have to be removed. The shock from that probably knocked her out, however I would not recommend reviving her at the moment. She would and will be in a lot of pain until we can clean that shoulder up.""

Ragnok wanted there to be no chance of errors here. ""Healer, she will live?""

""She will have trouble wielding a sword like she has before, apart from that I would expect her to make a full recovery...""

The healer was prevented from saying anymore as Ragnok let out a bellow that was part celebration but a good portion of relief too. This was immediately picked up and repeated by Barchoke and the other goblins, spreading right across the battlefield as jubilant warriors announced to the world in general that their warrior princess had defied the odds again and survived. Swords and axes drummed off shields as a total victory was now being wildly celebrated.

Dan held the emotional wreck that was Harry in his arms, it was the only way the healers could get to work on Hermione.

"I thought I had lost her, Dan, I can't lose her - I just can't."

"She's still with us, son, though who's going to tell her mother?"

Both felt hands on their shoulders as a knackered Sirius stood with them. "I'll do that, you'll need to go to Gringotts with Hermione. I'll bring the rest of the family, Gringotts is going to be busy tonight."

With Sirius mentioning family, it suddenly hit Harry he hadn't asked about anyone else. Seeing his Hermione lying there had blocked everything and everyone else out. "Neville, Padma, Tonks, how are they?"

"Neville was hit with the cruciatus and is being treated as we speak. Padam is fine but won't leave his side. Tonks has been inconsolable, she thought she failed you..."

"Tonks was magnificent! We would never have lasted without her, those were the longest seconds of all our lives."

He would get no argument from his godfather on that one. "I'll tell her that, she just about fainted when the word spread Hermione had made it. I'm puzzled though, I thought her armour only covered her shield side and part of her torso. That's her other shoulder, did you change it?"

This had Harry shaking his head. "We haven't done anything. That's why I thought she was gone, I knew that shoulder was unprotected."

It was a smiling Barchoke who enjoyed proving his son wrong. "I beg to differ, have you tried it since completing your bond?"

Harry was still standing with Dan's arm around him as the healers had Hermione on a stretcher and would soon be ready to portkey her away. He kept his head down as he answered. "No, we've only done light training since returning from the island."

Seeing his son was uncomfortable with this subject, Barchoke press ahead. Now this war was over, their new situation would have to be dealt with. The only way to do that was to get the subject out in the open and talk about it. "I think the magic released when you completed your bond would have been enough to extend her armour, there was certainly plenty magic present when you initiated your bond. That was three years ago, and you're both a lot more powerful now."

Harry still had his head down. "I never noticed, in either of those occasions."

Dan pulled Harry closer. "Listen, son, I know Hermione wanted to complete your bonding so she could save you. If that saved her life too, then you'll certainly get no grief from me about it - or your mum."

At that, they were ready to go. Both fathers accompanied their children to Gringotts, leaving Sirius with the task of returning to Hogwarts and breaking the news.

Amelia stood with Cornelius, Borislaw and Ragnok over the body of Voldemort, he wasn't coming back from this. Between bullets, multiple spells and Amelia had seen at least one fireball hit, the dark lord was truly gone.

"Do you want the body to display? I know that is your custom."

Ragnok nodded to the minister in thanks but declined the offer. "While it is our custom to display the heads of our enemies, this piece of shit doesn't even deserve that honour. We have been avenged, and had plenty of our people here to witness it. Rookwood is also dead but what about Lestrange?"

Cornelius quickly answered that, seeing Borislaw was more than interested too. "Oh you have my assurance she will be dealt with, permanently. We will need to interview her first about what happened to any baby, she was pregnant after all, and also to discover if anyone other than Umbridge was working with them. Then she will receive an overdose of veritaserum."

Both Borislaw and Ragnok were satisfied with that. The group then found themselves being approached by Rita Skeeter and asked if any of them would like to make a statement.

-oOoOo-

Harry was asked to leave as the healers worked on Hermione. She needed delicate work done, not something to be hampered by her mate pacing up and down while glowering at them. He found both fathers waiting outside, and Betsy cowering in a corner. He approached the little elf and knelt down beside her.

"She's going to be fine, Betsy, Hermione is going to be with us for many years to come."

"Master is sure?"

"I'm sure..."

She flung herself at him and cried into his chest. "Betsy thought she had lost her mistress..."

"So did I, Betsy, so did I." As the little elf regained control of herself, still determined to wait outside the place her mistress was, Harry, Barchoke and Dan headed off to find Neville. They walked into his room and Harry was attacked by a witch, Padma had her arms around him and was kissing all over his face between words. "Are you alright? I thought we'd lost her..."

"I'm fine, Padma, and Hermione will be too."

Sounding remarkably like his father, Neville still had the shakes from the cruciatus exposure, he nevertheless tried to crack a joke. "Hhhey, Hhharry, anything going on yyyou two want to ttell us abbbout?"

Standing with his arms around this beautiful witch, Harry just couldn't resist. "Yes Neville, Padma and I are getting married..." This announcement was greeted with total silence. Harry squeezed Padma to let her know there was a punchline coming, and to stop her belting him one.

"...to the two most wonderful people on the planet!"

Barchoke started it but soon Dan, Frank, Ramrao, Neville and Padma were all roaring with laughter. This just seemed to upset Harry though. "Aw, c'mon guys. You wait until Hermione isn't here and then you laugh at one of my jokes? You know she'll never believe this..."

That just made the six of them laugh all the harder, knowing what Harry said was true.

-oOoOo-

Augusta had made a portkey that would bring some of them right back to the stadium. As the minutes ticked by, the worry felt by those waiting climbed exponentially.

"Something must have happened, they should have been back with news by now."

"Emma, we don't know that. I was an auror, this is always the worst bit."

They were huddled in a group, trying to ignore that every pair of eyes in the stadium was focused on them. Alice's words providing a little comfort until another minute passed. It was Smita this time who let her nerves get the better of her.

"Amelia hoped to have those wards down in thirty seconds, they left nearly ten minutes ago..." She was halted by the appearance of the Blacks and Hobsons in the middle of the arena.

Sirius wasn't going to hang about, he knew there were thousands of people here waiting on news. Casting a sonorus on himself, he gave them the ultra-short version of what had happened. "Voldemort is dead, and our people are all okay..."

The roar this generated would have deafened the shooters had they still been hidden in the stadium roof. The four then headed straight over to the family who were all hugging each other while crying tears of relief. Knowing Sirius as they did, all could see he had more to say.

"You need to remember what I just said is true. We have some injuries but they'll soon be fine. Lestrange hit Neville with the cruciatus..."

Alice had her hand over her mouth at that, trying not to scream at the pain her son must have suffered.

"He's fine, Alice, and receiving treatment in Gringotts. That Padma took Lestrange out with her sword is probably the best tonic he could have at the moment."

She may have tears in her eyes but Alice Longbottom was made of stern stuff. Turning to Smita she attempted a smile. "Have I told you that I love my daughter-in-law? She's certainly good for my son."

Sirius then turned to Emma. "Harry and Hermione are really mates now, both are the only known survivors of Voldemort's killing curse. It hit her armour and she has an injury similar to the one Barchoke received in the ministry, the healers are removing pieces of her golden armour from her shoulder as we speak."

Emma had first-hand experience of just how good goblin healing was, Hermione being in their care was actually reassuring. She just needed to hear confirmation for herself. "She's fine though, Sirius, Hermione's in no danger?"

"Only of my godson never letting her out of his sight again. For a moment we all thought we had lost her, Emma, that was not a good moment. All four fathers travelled to Gringotts and are waiting for you there."

That was all Emma needed to hear, they were all safe and waiting on her. "Are you okay to travel, Sirius? The four of you look done-in."

"The four of us are, Emma. We could see them all fighting for their lives, their opponents weren't holding anything back. You better believe we all put everything we had into bringing those wards down. They were handing out pepper-up potions back at Bannockburn but we knew you would be desperate for news. We'll all follow on shortly, after a visit to Poppy."

She kissed Sirius' cheek while Henrica collected Astrid. Emma then called for Dobby and asked if he could arrange transport for all of them to Gringotts. It only took a minute for all the family to be standing on the front steps of the goblin bank, only Augusta staying behind to look after Hogwarts. The goblin guards knew exactly who these people were, especially with Sapphire amongst them, they were escorted straight to the medical facility.

-oOoOo-

Hermione slowly opened her eyes to find herself looking into that special pair of green ones she loved so much, then what happened earlier hit home.

"Oh Harry, I'm so sorry, I let everyone down. What Happened? How's Neville..." Hermione was stopped from saying anymore by the simple fact of Harry kissing her.

"Everyone's fine, love, the job's done and you didn't let anyone down. Just take it easy, it's not everyday you get hit by a killing curse. The entire family are waiting to see you, but there's someone you need to see first."

A signal with his hand and Betsy was very nearly in the bed beside Hermione. "Mistress needs to do what master says, take care of herself and get better."

"I will, Betsy, and thank you for today. You were wonderful, probably saved all our lives. I need you to look after yourself too. Will you do that for me?"

The little elf's head was nearly coming off with the eagerness of her nodding, trying to please her mistress. "You take a good rest, Betsy, we'll soon be back home."

A happy Betsy hugged her mistress before popping away to follow orders, she could do with a nap.

"Harry, how did I survive the killing curse?"

"Your bracelet that says 'best friends forever' wouldn't let Voldemort take you from me. The person who gave you that bracelet thinks forever should mean forever. Father suggested completing our bonding now has your armour covering all your body, that was a conversation I could have done without having with your dad..."

Hermione was giggling at that when Luna and Sapphire stuck their heads in, both rushing into the room when they realised she was awake. "Oh Hermione, you're awake! We've got a rota going where we take turns checking to see if you were - I'd better go and tell Emma."

Luna shot out of there, giving Sapphire a moment to talk. "Once the girls got over the shock, they understood why you didn't tell them. I didn't want you worrying about it, I don't want you worrying about anything. Oh, and the whole goblins bowing to you might be back with a vengeance, but don't expect me to be doing it." Sapphire barely had time to hug Hermione before the door was flung open and their extended family began streaming in.

The room was soon full and Harry stood back to let everyone see Hermione was indeed alright. Watching Neville enter was just the icing on the cake. He might be leaning a little on Padma but he would be back to normal in a day or so, both Neville and Hermione would certainly be fit enough to attend the family meeting where they arranged this summer's holidays. Tonks and Hermione hugging settled the last of any unrest amongst the family, none of the four underestimated the crucial part she had played in ensuring they were all here tonight to talk about what happened today.

Harry felt his father standing beside him and reached out to pull the goblin into a hug. ""We have a fine family, father, a family that is all here. I think this counts as a special occasion.""

""Indeed, son, getting humans to appreciate our sense of humour is no small achievement.""

Watching as father and son held each other while they laughed their heads off was the best medicine Hermione could have. That was until Padma dropped the bombshell that she and Harry were getting married...

A/N thanks for reading.