A/N: Well, this is it. The last chapter. For real. Probably. Unless I come up with another idea :) Seriously though, this is most likely it. Thanks for sticking with me through all of this. You guys are a great community! Harmony forever!
I suppose I should once again mention that I own nothing familiar from this story.
The note delivered by the large, black owl was succinct and straight to the point.
Draco flinched as the temperamental familiar pecked at him and beat her wings in his face for a moment before taking off. "Blasted bird," he grumbled, burning the note with a wave of his wand. He grabbed the long dagger from his nightstand and once again cursed Harry Potter. At least he'd have a pair of boots or a slick new vest to show for his effort. Knowing Ginerva, he'd probably have to spare some of the skin for a clutch or purse of some sort. Of course, all that was based on one large assumption.
He had to survive the encounter with that damned snake first.
"Lucius!" Tom Marvolo Riddle was getting, for lack of a better word, antsy. With the Malfoy brat's news that his most competent rival, Albus Dumbledore, was bedridden and of ill health, he had decided that tonight was the night to strike. Nearly every available Death Eater had been sent to infiltrate the antiquated school in the Scottish highlands and to kill the old Headmaster. When he had assigned Draco the task of eliminating the old fool, he had expected nothing more than some ill-conceived attempt followed by complete and abject failure. Truthfully, Tom had been more interested in punishing Lucius' failure in retrieving the prophecy with the death of his spawn than any half-arsed plan to eliminate the ancient but still powerful Dumbledore. However, the boy had come through in spades. Citing the blood-traitor Weasley brat, who he had apparently been fucking in return for information, he relayed the news that Albus was suffering from an unknown ailment and was currently laid up in his school. After summoning Severus back from his global trip to gather potion supplies and receiving confirmation of Dumbledore's illness, he had quickly put together a plan to eliminate the meddlesome Headmaster and capture the school for his own. When his squad of Death Eaters arrived at the castle, Severus would allow them entry through the front gate. Nothing complicated, but having a traitor already placed inside would certainly pay off. Now he was simply waiting for word from his subjects that the deed had been done. Speaking of... "Lucius," he yelled again.
Finally, the blonde aristocrat made his way into the dining room that Tom had claimed for his receiving room. The short amount of time that Lucius Malfoy had spent in Azkaban had certainly done him no favors. His appearance, formerly a point of pride, was now worn and shabby. His face was thin and drawn and he looked as if he had aged a decade. "Yes, my lord," the man asked, bowing low.
"What news of the attack on Hogwarts? Did Severus gain them entry into the school?" Lucius tried to hide the worried look in his eyes but the Dark Lord could smell his fear. "What is it, Lucius? Tell me now!"
"We've received no communications from any of your servants since they arrived at the school, my lord," Lucius stammered.
"Useless fools!" Tom stood and paced the floor in anger. Worthless idiots, the lot of them. He should have known that those simpletons couldn't even handle something this easy. "Where is Peter? PETER," he yelled at the house. When neither reply nor Wormtail showed, he turned back to Lucius. "Where is that imbecile Pettigrew?" He waved off Lucius' stuttered reply. "No matter. I need Nagini." He tried to contact his familiar through their shared mental connection but was unable to make any sort of link. After a few moments of trying, he gave up with a roar of frustration. "Find me Nagini! Find me Wormtail! Now!" The house's blonde owner quickly scurried off.
Tom rubbed the bridge of his nose in frustration. He was aware that the vast majority of his servants were idiots but, in times like these, he wished that his cause attracted those with some semblance of intelligence. He was surrounded by simpering fools like Pettigrew and Malfoy and blind worshipers like Bellatrix Lestrange.
"My lord?" He snapped his head up at Lucius' wary tone. The frightened look on his face promised bad news.
At least for Lucius.
"What is it? Have you found Nagini or Wormtail?" Lucius hesitated a moment and, once again, Tom could smell the fear radiating from his pores. Oh yes, bad news indeed. "Out with it, Lucius!"
"Apologies, my lord, but Pettigrew and Nagini were... located."
"They're... they're dead, my lord."
Tom stood immediately from his seat. "WHAT?! CRUCIO," he screamed at the prostrate Lucius, who writhed on the ground in pure, unadulterated agony. After holding the curse for a brief time, he cut it off with a wave of his wand. "Explain, Lucius. Now."
"P-p-peter had a d-dagger buried in his gut," the prone form forced out as he recovered from the excruciating pain of the torture curse. "It appears that he killed Nagini and then took his own life." He cried out in torment as the Cruciatus ripped through his body once again.
This time Tom allowed the curse to inflict pain for a long moment. "Fool! Can you not recognize the signs of the Imperius when it is staring you in the face? Wormtail has had plenty of chances to defy me in the past and his loyalty has never been in question. What kind of fool stabs themselves in the stomach to achieve death?" He finally waved his wand, ending Lucius' torture for the time being. Another wave dragged the blonde man towards him where he met with a swift kick to his gut. "Stand up, Lucius! We have a traitor in our midst." Lucius stood, suppressing a groan of agony. "Apparate to Hogsmeade and recall my servants there."
The elder Malfoy nodded, quickly gathering himself. He spun in place, intending to transport himself to the small Wizarding town on the outskirts of Hogwarts. All he succeeded in doing, however, was making a fool of himself as he pirouetted on the spot and fell on his arse.
"IDIOT," Tom raged. "Have you forgotten how to Apparate?" He grabbed Lucius' arm in his and attempted his own apparition, only to fail as his subject had. "An anti-apparition ward?"
"My lord, only a Malfoy can alter the wards around the manor-"
"Silence, fool. I know this." The magically powered lights in the manor went out. "I believe your imbecile son has betrayed us, Lucius." To who, though, Tom asked himself. The Ministry? He dismissed this thought almost immediately. Draco knew as well as anyone that no Auror could challenge him. Other than Moody, Shacklebolt, and a few others, none could last more than a few moments against his superior dueling skills. The only wizard that could possibly challenge him was the senile Headmaster of Hogwarts. If it weren't for Severus confirming the old coot's illness, he might be slightly concerned. That left only one option.
"Potter," he growled.
Nice of you to join the party, Tom.
He almost replied out loud before realizing the voice had come from his head, confirming his suspicions. Very good, Potter. You have learned to control our mental connection. An admirable effort, but inconsequential. You will still die. And how courteous of you to come to me! For saving me the trip, I will make your death quick.
Will you now, the voice asked snidely. What happened to the lights? Did Malfoy forget to pay the electric bill?
Tom tried to get his wand to light up, ignoring the laughing voice rattling through his head. "Lucius," he yelled through the dark, "take down that nullifying ward and get these lights back up." Silence greeted him. "Lucius!"
The boy's annoying laugh echoed in his mind again. That's the problem with hired help, Tom. You never know when they're going to turn their back on you. Luckily for you, I terminated Lucius' employment. In fact, I gave him a very nice... severance. Heads up!
A large object flew from the shadows and struck Tom in the chest, almost knocking him over. Barely able to make out the dark, spherical object on the floor, he reached down and touched... hair. Long hair. Realization struck, along with an emotion Tom was only familiar with vicariously: Fear. He slowly backed away from the head laying on the floor.
He raised his wand, pointing from one dark corner of the room to another as Potter's laughter continued to reverberate through their connection. You're all alone now, Tom. He thought he heard a noise and swiveled to the opposite corner. How does it feel, knowing that your death is eminent? Tom thought the voice had come from the opposite side of the room but, once again, only darkness greeted him. Another large object struck him in the back, and he spun quickly. Nothing there, save the pear-shaped object laying on the ground at his feet. Wormtail. Very good, Tom. Two for two! Should I be concerned that you can identify your servants by the shape of their heads? And once again, that inane laughter.
"Come out and duel me like a man," he yelled at the shadows. "Avada Kedavra," he screamed and waved his wand, attempting to cast the Killing Curse into the darkness, but to no avail. "Coward! Your father shrieked like a woman as I tortured him and your Mudblood mother cursed your name before she died!" He spun from corner to corner, driving himself into a fear-induced frenzy. "WHERE ARE YOU, POTTER?"
Tom turned in surprise at the boy's actual voice coming from behind him and raised his wand, forgetting that it was still useless. A hot stream of pain shot into his arm, just above his elbow, and he fell to the ground, screaming in agony.
"Drop the wards," Potter's voice commanded and the lights came up almost immediately. He squinted his eyes as his most hated enemy's familiar visage came into view, along with the Mudblood Granger, the younger Malfoy and the blood-traitor Weasley. Tom's eyes settled on his severed arm, still holding his wand, and he quickly tried for the weapon, only for Potter to kick it away. "Talk about disarming," the boy quipped to the others, before turning back to him. "You're finished, Tom."
"Foolish boy. You have not defeated me. I have conquered death! There are ways of avoiding destruction, ways that you cannot even begin to comprehend, Potter!"
"You wouldn't be talking about Horcruxes, would you," the Mudblood innocently asked.
His eyes widened momentarily before he schooled his features. "So you know what I have accomplished. Bah! It means nothing!"
"It means that I have found and destroyed them all, Tom," Harry replied. "The diary, the ring, the diadem, the cup, the locket, and Nagini. All destroyed." The boy leveled the blood-covered sword he carried at his neck. "You're finished, Riddle."
"Never! I'll kill you, Potter! I swear it!" A swing of the sword and the being once known as Tom Marvolo Riddle was no more.
19 Years Later
"Alright, you three. Here's the entrance to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters." Hermione motioned to her husband. "Harry, you go first and-"
"I'm going first!" Her oldest, James, set off before his mother could say anything and quickly pushed his cart through the invisible barrier separating the Muggle form of King's Cross Station with the magical version.
Hermione turned back to her husband, a scowl on her face. "He's such a little you," she muttered. "And wipe that grin off of your face. It's not funny." Harry only smiled bigger and, finally, a small smile appeared on her face as well.
"It's a little funny," Harry informed her, the large grin still on his face. He pinched his wife's bum lightly, causing her to jump and let out a small squeak in surprise, before he hurriedly passed through the barrier himself.
Groaning at her husband's childlike behavior, she turned to her two youngest. "Alright then, you two? Did you see your brother and father do it?"
Her daughter rolled her eyes, reminding Hermione greatly of herself at that age. "Yes, mother," Ursula replied.
"We've been with you when you dropped James off the past two years, mother," her brother, Castor, added.
So they had, Hermione reminded herself. How quickly the time passed these days. It seemed like it was just a short time ago that she had given birth to these two, yet here they were, leaving for their first day of school. "Yes. Well, it doesn't hurt to be too prepared, now does it?" Attentive children that they were, the twins shook their heads. "On with you now. Your father will be wondering what is taking so long." Ursula hopped onto their luggage cart and her brother obligingly pushed it through the barrier. After checking her surroundings and finding the coast to be clear, she quickly followed and nearly ran into the twins, who had stopped their cart and were staring at some sort of commotion away from the tracks. "What's the hold-up here, loves?" Ursula shrugged her shoulders and Castor shook his head, signaling that he knew no more than his sister. Hermione spied her husband making his way in towards her. "There's your father. Maybe he knows." As Harry got closer, she could make out the worried look on his face. It must be serious for him to show that much emotion in public. "What is it? Is James okay," she asked softly.
"James is fine," he reassured her, gesturing off to the side where her oldest son was conversing with Neville Longbottom. Hermione let out a breath that she didn't know she was holding. Her relief didn't last long, however. "It's Ron."
"Sweet Morgana. He didn't?"
Harry shook his head. "He did. Luckily Neville was there and got to him before he could fire on James. He's still alive, but in bad shape." They made their way over to their oldest, who seemed not the worse for wear.
"I hear my son owes you a life-debt," Hermione offered to one of their oldest friends and former classmate.
"Think nothing of it, Milady." Neville sketched a bow in her direction. "Prince James was just telling me how excited he is to be starting his fifth year."
"And lucky he is to be making it there," Hermione said, glaring at her oldest, who shrank under his mother's harsh stare. "Go on over and keep and eye on your brother and sister, James." Her tone brooking no argument, James slunk away to the perch from which the twins were watching the proceedings. Once he had gone, Hermione turned back to the man who had saved her son's life. "Thank you again, Neville. I mean it. Harry told me that Ronald would have killed him if it wasn't for your quick wand. How can we thank you?"
"You and the King have done more than enough for me already, Milady. If not for your suggestion to Hannah and Susan that they use that Muggle procedure, Vivian wouldn't have been born."
"Artificial insemination is a very common way for same-sex couples to have a baby in the Muggle world and Hannah and Susan couldn't have picked a better donor for their daughter's father." Hermione smiled warmly at their friend. "How is your little girl doing?"
"Growing like a weed," Neville laughed. "Excited for her first year, of course." He gestured across the platform, where Susan and Hannah Bones were doing their level best to corral a hyperactive little brown-haired girl. His face turned somber as he looked back to the wall at the edge of the platform where a slumped, redheaded shape lay. "I imagine you'll want to speak to him, then?"
Harry and Hermione nodded gloomily. "The least we could do for our oldest friend," Harry sadly muttered.
Neville handed them Ron's wand. "I'll be nearby. Milord, Milady." He offered another short bow and made his way over to where their children waited for them.
"Ready," Hermione asked her husband.
Harry shook his head. "No, but I guess we have to anyway." He took her hand in his and they slowly strode to the end of the platform and the hunched, disheveled form of Ronald Weasley. "Hello, Ron." Their best friend looked up at his name being called and Hermione nearly cried at the sight of him. His face unshaven and gaunt, his body skinny and emaciated, Ronald looked far older than his 35 years.
"Harry. 'Mione," he ground out, blood leaking from the corner of his mouth. "Fancy seeing you here." He tried to laugh but all that came out was a racking cough.
"Merlin, Ronald. Why? Why do this," Hermione asked. "We gave you and the others every opportunity to join us. Even when you denied us, we still allowed you to leave without incident. After everything we've been through together, after everything we've done for you since, you come after our son! Why?"
"You want to know why? Because you're tyrants, that's why," Ron spat. "Eliminating those that don't agree with your views, passing laws to restrict freedoms, forcing everyone else to leave their homes. Those aren't the actions of a benign ruler. You two're murderers, plain and simple. I just wanted to give you some of what you've shared with me for the past two decades. I did it for Dumbledore, Tonks, Minerva, and everyone else we lost to you. I did it for my family." He coughed again, more blood dribbling from his mouth as well as his nose. "I did it to show that we don't have to be afraid of standing up to you.
"Of course Neville, that traitor, really buggered it up, didn't he?"
Harry shook his head. "I wish I could have prevented every one of those deaths. I offered all of you clemency if you'd give up this foolish fight but you all insisted. Traitors to the crown cannot be suffered to live. As for Arthur and Molly-"
"Don't you DARE mention their names! They treated you like a son and you had them killed!"
"It was an accident, Ron, I swear," Harry pleaded. "I would never hurt your family."
"And Ginny? What of her? You can't tell me that you didn't have anything to do with her... change."
"Ginerva is just fine, Ron. I'm sure she's here with Draco and-"
"That's not my sister," Ron interrupted. "Ginny disappeared that summer and never came back." His eyes misted over for a moment and he looked away. "I suppose I won't be leaving the station, will I?"
Harry shook his head sorrowfully. "No, you won't."
Ron nodded his head, accepting his fate. "The Order will avenge me, you know. You'll never have a moment's worth of peace while we're around."
"Ronald, the Order is no more," Hermione whispered, cleaning the blood from his face with a silent Scourgify. He may be their enemy now, but he was their friend once and he deserved to die with dignity. "Our forces captured the remnants of the Order this morning. We'll make them an offer for leniency, of course." She looked at the clock and noticed it was getting towards eleven. "It's time, Ronald. As one last favor for our oldest friend, we promise to release your wife and daughter. They'll face no reprisal from us, you have our vow."
A single tear tracked its way down his face and he gave a quick nod. "Make it quick, will you?"
Harry nodded. "Of course, mate." A whispered Avada Kedavra and Ron was off to his next great adventure. Harry lingered for a moment, his head bowed, before closing his friend's eyes and standing.
"He chose his path, beloved," Hermione whispered, using her pet name for her husband. She spied her children looking in their direction. "Let's go speak with them," she said, nodding in that direction. A quick shake of her head directed the Aurors to take care of Ron's body and they made their way towards their children.
"What took so long," James moaned as they walked up. "You should have just killed the traitor and gotten it over with. Now all the compartments are going to be full!" Harry and Hermione shared a look before Harry took his oldest son off to the side, leaving Hermione with the twins.
"Why does he always do that," Ursula asked once they were gone.
"Why does your father do what?" Hermione tried to fix her daughter's curly black hair into some semblance of order before giving it up as a bad job.
"Take James off to the side like that," Castor supplied. "Like he doesn't want us to listen to what he's saying."
"It's not that your father doesn't want you to hear what he's saying, loves, he just has important things to share with your brother sometimes. Things that, in this case, might be embarrassing for James to hear in front of anyone else." She looked over to her husband, who was quietly dressing down his oldest for putting himself in danger earlier and his lack of tact just now. "As the heir to the Throne, your brother will occasionally be privy to lessons from your father that you might not."
"You don't have to tell us, Mother. He's been rubbing it in our faces all summer," lamented Ursula. "I'm James Artouiros Magnus Potter and I'm going to be King one day," she sneered, standing on her tiptoes and imitating her brother.
Hermione stifled a laugh. It wouldn't do to encourage that behavior. "That's enough, Ursula," she gently chided her daughter. "Your father loves you both, very much. You know that, right?" The twins nodded. "You'll have a great responsibility of your own when you come of age." Their eyes widened at this news. "Your brother may be King, but you will be his hands. Your father gave you the name of Black to honor a man who was this position for his own father. When you have children of your own, they will serve your niece or nephew in the same way. And so it will continue. A Black will always serve a Potter as their closest confidant. So you see, Ursula Lilith Black and Castor Lycanis Black," she placed a hand fondly on both of her twins' heads, "even though you might not be fated to lead, you still have important destinies." A loud whistle cut through the air. "That will be the Express. Best get going, loves." She bent down and gave them both hugs as well as a kiss on the cheek. She stood to find her husband had rejoined her.
"Well then, you two," Harry said, leaning down and wrapping them both in his long arms. "Try not to cause too much trouble. With that in mind, I have a gift for you." He reached into his back pocket, removed a very familiar looking parchment and handed it to Castor. "Your mother and I had some fun with that when we went to Hogwarts."
"A blank piece of parchment," Castor asked, looking skeptical.
"A blank piece of parchment right now. You'll just have to figure out the key phrase. You've enough of your mother in you that I think you can handle it." Hermione smacked him on the shoulder for the backhanded compliment. "Kidding, kidding. If you don't have it in a week, I'll owl you the password."
"Thank you, Dad," the two chorused.
The train whistled once more. "Best be getting going, then. I'm sure Arachne Malfoy is holding a compartment for you two."
"She hates that name, Dad," Castor grumbled, grabbing his trunk.
"Castor likes Guinevere, Castor likes Guinevere," his sister taunted as they dragged their trunks towards the scarlet locomotive. Soon enough, they were aboard and seated in a compartment, waving to their parents, who returned the gesture enthusiastically.
As the engine steamed and pulled the train away from the station, Harry wrapped his wife in his arms and kissed away her happy tears. "Empty house again, eh love?"
"They grew up so fast, Harry. I miss them already."
"Don't tell me you want more," he asked, eyebrow raised.
"Well maybe not right away," Hermione purred, curled up in her favorite place: Harry's embrace. "Who's to say we can't practice, though?"
Harry snaked an arm around her chest and softly squeezed a breast. He licked her earlobe, causing her to shiver in anticipation, and whispered the one thing that he knew would drive her wild.
"Dirty little witch."
A/N: I love reading and writing about these two. They just seem to fit together in so many different ways that the possibilities for them seem almost endless. Someone wrote that they're the classic lovers, starting off as best friends and becoming something more. They would have been so good together in canon! Unfortunately, JKR didn't agree but I guess that's what ff is for. It's weird though, she even gave interviews saying that she always saw herself in Hermione and that she tended to date men like Ron, until she married her husband, who reminded her more of Harry. I could go on all day but seems a bit pointless now with the series finished, doesn't it?
Not sure what's on the plate next. Got an idea for a few stories rattling around. One non-HP and one in this universe. Kinda just came to me the other night. What if Tom was a half-blood and muggleborn sympathizer instead of a pure-blood supremacist? Something different, I hope. Anyway, thanks again for reading my story. Help me get too 100 reviews, please! That would make my day.