Disclaimer: This short little story is the result of a what if question and is solely my idea as I played around in JKR's amazing world. The character's are (mostly) hers and all credit belongs to the amazing goddess that she is.
Cursing Snape extensively in his head, Harry ignored his friends waving him over to their seats by the fire and instead stalked up the stairs to his dorm room. He knew what they would say; Ron would undoubtedly grimace, throw out a 'tough luck, mate. Stupid greasy git,' and then continue playing chess against Dean while Hermione would tut and chide him about working harder while reminding him that it was 'Professor Snape,' as if the evil man ever earned such respect. He realised there wasn't much that either of them could do about his Occlumency lessons, but something more than empty sympathy and platitudes would have been nice.
He didn't think either of them had any concept of what he went through during the so-called lessons down in the dungeon torture chamber. When he had tried to explain it to them they had both brushed it off as him exaggerating and whinging. Which baffled him, as they both knew he wasn't prone to either, in fact he was rather more likely to do the exact opposite. Neither of them had ever had anything horrible in their life (excepting their adventures with him) and thus it seemed they were incapable of believing that he was telling the truth. Ron was firm in his belief that if Dumbledore asked this of him then it was for the best, as the Headmaster was Merlin reincarnate in the redhead's mind; Hermione was simply blinded by her unwavering obedience to authority figures.
He often wondered how the two of them had managed to maintain these beliefs after being around him for the last few years.
He angrily threw himself on the bed, resisting the urge to scream in frustration. Screaming would only aggravate his already pounding head. He was positive that bastard Snape was purposely hurting him; after nearly two months of Occlumency lessons he still hadn't learned anything, and his dreams were actually getting worse. He had found himself plotting how to get through that blasted door the other day before he remembered that it was Voldemort who wanted what was behind it, not him. He had tried to talk to Ron and Hermione about this, but that had been relatively useless. Ron had only ranted about Snape while Hermione had admonished him to try harder. Try at what? Snape had never done more than attack him, and he had certainly never told him how to stop his attacks. Even Hermione usually required a little more instruction than 'clear your mind.' And Harry knew that she had been unable to find any instruction in her trusty library; he had often daydreamed about what would happen if she was the one in lessons with absolutely no resources or instructions. Snape would eat her alive.
Almost like clockwork, as this happened after every lesson, the pain in his scar signaled a new vision. By this point he was almost used to finding himself in Voldemort's body, despite the revulsion that always accompanied this change of venue. A terrifying looking wild man was standing in front of him. He was talking about getting rid of some hindrance, and some of the methods he suggested made Harry gag in horror. He didn't even know the human body could be contorted in such a fashion, and cringed to think how many bones would have to be broken to allow it. The knowledge that there were monsters out there who did such things, and, even worse, enjoyed it, made him briefly wonder why he even cared to try and stop Voldemort from taking over the world; let him kill all the monsters. But then Harry remembered his friends, and, no matter how frustrated he was with them right now, he did care about them. Ron and Hermione, the Weasleys, the Quidditch girls, Sirius and Remus... Remus... With a jolt he finally realized who the man was after... Remus.
Harry's life up until this point had been miserable. He had been systematically denied any true form of happiness since he was a year old, and he didn't think this was going to change any time soon. He never knew his parents, was deprived of the relationship he wished to have with his only remaining relatives, and was isolated from forming friendships for his entire childhood. Even when he got to Hogwarts it didn't really improve. He had Ron and Hermione, but Harry was not blind to the fact that his only two friends had major faults. For a few glorious minutes two years ago he thought it was all going to change, and that he would get to live with Sirius and experience a real family, only to have that snatched away from him. And even though he got to spend time with Sirius last summer and at Christmas, the presence of the Weasleys and the Order seemed to prevent him from having the relationship he craved with his godfather. And now Voldemort was trying to take away one of the few people in the world who Harry considered family.
Angered beyond belief and having finally reached the end of his rope, Harry did something rash, as was his want in such situations. He could feel his magic sizzling through his body, seeking a target for his anger. Desperately, he pushed power towards his scar with the single phrase kill him! As far as he was concerned, he had nothing left to lose; he figured the next step was for Voldemort to completely take possession of his mind and body and he knew that would lead to the death of everyone he remotely cared about. So Harry pushed.
When Voldemort's wand came up and the familiar green light struck the surprised man's chest, Harry was not the only one who was shocked. Voldemort stared down at his own wand as if confused to see it there. He even carefully caressed it with his left hand as if ensuring it really was there as he thought. He carefully reviewed the last few minutes in his mind and was completely flummoxed as to why he had wanted so badly to kill Greyback. Yet he clearly remembered making the decision to kill the werewolf and there was no possibility of anyone having tampered with his thoughts, as he was the premier practitioner of the mind arts since the great Salazar himself. He dismissed the issue; the werewolf was annoying him anyways and his disturbing lack of personal hygiene was an affront to Voldemort's sensibilities. Really, was it too hard for the man to clean off in a river more than once every seven years? Voldemort shrugged to himself and called for a guard to remove the body; it was starting to stink up his room.
Hundreds of miles away, Harry Potter lay on his bed, a large but rather predatory smile coming over his face. It looked like the tide had just changed in this war.
The next morning, the entire castle watched in complete and utter confusion as the moody Harry Potter they had all grown used to was replaced with a smirking and humming copy. When Malfoy sneered at him and made one of his typical comments, Potter simply winked at the blond and moved on, leaving a befuddled Slytherin in his wake. When Snape descended at lunch and made up a reason to take twenty points from him, Potter not only didn't protest, he answered back with a respectful "sir" that seemed to leave the Head Snake with no comeback. But perhaps the most interesting part of the day, at least to the castle gossipers who had been hovering all day, was the argument Potter had with Granger and Weasley over dinner. Lavender Brown had managed to snag the best seat in the Great Hall for the argument and it was her version that was quickly being spread around the castle.
Granger sat down with a huff, glaring at Potter who had arrived at dinner several minutes before her and Weasley. Weasley had not even sat down before he was already chewing on a chicken leg. When Potter didn't acknowledge their presence after several minutes, Granger huffed louder.
"Where did you disappear to, Harry?"
Potter looked up, still smirking. A look which had Granger immediately narrowing her eyes at him. "Library."
"The library? You? What did you need? Why didn't you ask for my help?"
Potter calmly laid down his silverware before looking up, the glee that had been on his face all day no longer apparent. "I have asked for your help and understanding on this subject numerous times, Hermione." The girl's mouth opened to speak but he held up his hand to stop her. "But instead of helping me, you chose instead to constantly deride me and chastise me for not working hard enough."
"But Harry, obviously you haven't been working hard enough or you would have made at least some progress by now. You're letting your hatred for... your teacher prevent you from learning this and you know how important it is!"
Lavender almost fell off the bench when Potter's answering expression was briefly turned towards her. He was sneering at Granger!
Potter turned to Weasley, who was still eating while his eyes bounced back and forth between Potter and Granger. "Do you believe the same, Ron?"
His ears an alarming shade of red, Weasley awkwardly swallowed before answering. "Well, I do think... he is a lousy git, but you know Hermione's always right about stuff like this. You just have to work a bit at it."
Potter nodded, as if he had guessed this would be Weasley's answer. "Very well, thank you for expressing your opinions. I am going to let you continue to believe your delusions while I continue on with my own methods without your help. Have a good evening." And with that said, Potter rose and left a flabbergasted Granger and Weasley in his wake.
In the excitement over the Potter-drama, very few people noticed the small article in the paper the next morning detailing the strange demise of one Fenrir Greyback, werewolf, by way of a Killing Curse fired by an unknown assailant. The end of the article stated that the assailant should contact Gringotts, with proof, to claim their reward for putting down the wanted man.
During his Occlumency lesson that evening, Harry didn't even attempt to fight back. He really needed to learn how to invade Voldemort's mind on his own, but for now this was the only way he knew to trigger a vision. It seemed to infuriate Snape even more when he merely stood there, smirking at him. He staggered back to Gryffindor tower, waving cheekily at Hermione (which had the lovely side effect of removing her rather annoying smug expression), and climbed into his bed, shutting his curtain around him.
Immediately, the pain he had held at bay swelled up and when he blinked open his eyes he was looking at three men bowing before him. One of them he recognised as having escaped from Azkaban, Mulciber, but the other two he didn't know. But this was of no consequence to Harry. They were serving Voldemort, and so they had to be stopped. He stoked his anger until his magic was smouldering and then concentrated it once more on his scar.
Kill them all!
It took several weeks before any of the students in the castle realised what was happening in the world outside. The DMLE had been finding the bodies of dead Death Eaters, some who had already been on the wanted list and some they hadn't yet known about; sometimes it was only one at a time, but it had been as many as six at once. Each of them was killed by an Avada Kedavra and the same magical signature was on them all.
They had no idea who it was.
Harry's Occlumency lessons had become rather interesting. The knowledge of what he was doing, under everyone's nose, had given him the confidence that he had lacked all his life and this had fed his determination. With pure will, the kind that only seemed to pop up when his life was on the line (usually in June every year when the Bludger had well and truly hit the dragon dung), he had kept Snape away from any of his recent memories. He imagined he was back in the graveyard, Cedric dead at his side, Voldemort's wand connected to his, and the little sliding beads of light were Snape's intrusions. He let the man gleefully torture him with memories of the Dursleys, all while internally laughing at having finally succeeded in learning to keep the man out from the truly important places. And each night afterwards, he thinned Voldemort's ranks further, feeding the paranoia as Voldemort tried to understand why he was losing control of his own actions.
Snape's reports of his abysmal lessons had long ago convinced Voldemort that Harry did not have the ability to do exactly what he was, and so Voldemort had not even considered the idea. Currently, he thought Dumbledore was somehow managing to possess him from a distance, and was frantically trying to find a way to stop the phantom possessions.
Within the school, Harry was highly amused by the whispers about the mysterious AK-vigilante, as the Daily Prophet had taking to calling the unknown assailant. The number of Death Eaters being found, with their Dark Marks clearly displayed, had added credence to his story of the return of Voldemort. Some of those found were too young to have been marked during the last war, and yet their Dark Marks were indistinguishable from those of the known Death Eaters who had been killed at their sides. Even Umbridge had been largely silenced by the overwhelming number of those who had been found branded with the mark. She had also been unable to make Harry lash out in anger as he had previously, despite great effort.
Fifth year was definitely looking up for Harry Potter.
Harry sat up in bed, a huge grin on his face. He had managed to get all three Lestranges tonight, and Voldemort's anger over Bellatrix's death had Harry laughing aloud. The mad witch deserved it for everything she had put Neville through. Harry could hardly wait for Neville to see the news. He knew it would relieve the quiet boy to know that all four of his parents' tormenters had now paid with their lives.
The extra bounce in his step the next day attracted quite a bit of attention. On his way back to the tower after lunch he was stopped by a blushing Susan Bones, who asked if he wanted to go to Hogsmeade with her sometime.
Harry looked at her in shock. He remembered the redhead sneering at him in second year and warning Justin to stay away from him, and then wearing that accursed badge last year. And only a few months ago he remembered her nodding along in agreement as he was once more called a liar. He bit back his first response and counted to ten in his head; there was no need to be that harsh.
"Thank you for the invitation, Susan, but I don't think that is a good idea."
She pouted. "But... why?"
He clenched his hands in fury, but his words came out in a civil tone. "I have a long memory, Susan."
"Oh! I... I see." She bowed her head. "I am sorry, Harry," she whispered, before dashing away.
Harry never noticed the pair of blue eyes that were watching from the shadows.
Neville didn't take the Daily Prophet, and Hermione was avidly reading hers between sending glares his way, so Harry gave a small cough and slid his paper in front of Neville's plate.
"You might want to read this, Nev."
Neville gave him a curious look before beginning to read. A sharp hiss let Harry know he had found the right article. But even Harry was surprised when the normally shy Neville Longbottom jumped from his seat and proceeded to dance a jig of joy. Shortly, he had pulled a laughing Harry up to join him. When a tight-lipped McGonagall came down to reprimand them, Neville merely shoved the paper in her face, gave her a half a minute to digest it, and then picked her bodily up and twirled her around the Great Hall.
It wasn't this that went down in Hogwarts infamy, it was the fact that McGonagall smiled briefly and then left without taking a single point. Neville was an instant celebrity.
Harry's smile that day was outmatched only by his quiet friend's, but no one questioned either of them, the news having quickly made the rounds after Neville's display at breakfast.
The following morning, however, brought an interesting change in that Dumbledore descended from his fancy chair at breakfast and actually met Harry's eye for the first time in nearly a year.
"Harry, I would like to speak with you after breakfast."
Harry looked up, not completely shocked that Dumbledore had finally broken his self-imposed silence. He had been wondering when the old man would start to question him about the unusual happenings. "Certainly, sir. We can go now, if that is agreeable."
The Headmaster nodded, and the two proceeded out of the Great Hall together, every eye following them curiously. When they were seated in the Headmaster's Office, with Dumbledore's eyes twinkling away merrily at him, Harry looked up at the man who he had once respected and looked up to but now... He wasn't entirely sure how he felt about the Headmaster but he would almost call it ambivalence.
"How has your year been, Harry?"
Harry laughed softly. "Oh, just splendid. I simply adore cutting open my own hand for a sadistic professor that you refuse to stop, and then being forced to watch as my best friend's dad is attacked. And we must not forget the trice weekly torture sessions by our resident greasy friend. Yes, Headmaster, it has been a splendid year."
"Professor Umbridge is unfortunately not someone I can control, though she seems to have calmed recently, and you are very much aware why you must learn to protect your mind. Professor Snape has let me know that you have made no noticeable progress yet, and seem to have actually regressed. This is rather disturbing, Harry."
Harry snorted, "What Professor Snape thinks and what is actually true are two vastly different things, Headmaster."
"Indeed." The old man watched him silently for several minutes. "Perhaps you would allow me to test you myself?"
Harry shrugged. An extra chance to attack Voldie sounded wonderful. "Sure."
The Headmaster's attack was noticeably gentler than Snape's, but Harry still felt it instantly. The man seemed to be searching for something particular, and it had to do with his vision, but Harry would have none of that. Instead of pulling up memories of his time at the Dursleys, he recalled with vivid detail his various detentions with Umbridge. Dumbledore had more strength behind his effort to deviate from Harry's force-feeding of memories, but Harry had much more to lose. If he found even a hint of what Harry was up to... the consequences would be rather interesting.
Harry received an unexpected help when a bell-like note rang out into the air, and he had to suppress a smirk at the sound; Fawkes was actually helping him to keep Dumbledore out.
When Dumbledore finally withdrew, Harry slumped back into his chair and immediately started blocking the pain in his head. He knew he would have to hold on long enough to get out of this office.
"That was a rather interesting technique, Harry. It seems that Professor Snape is once more underestimating your ingenuity. When was the last time he got through?"
Harry shrugged. "Not sure."
"You seem quite proficient in this method of yours. Do you feel you are sufficiently practiced so as to discontinue lessons?"
Harry had to fight to keep his reaction to himself. This would be a disaster; he still couldn't trigger a vision without a legilimency attack first. But he had to play this carefully, as he knew the Headmaster would fully expect him to jump at the chance to be done with Snape.
"Um... probably." He paused as if in thought for several moments. "Will I always be so drained afterwards?"
"How drained? Do you feel like you just want to go to bed, or like you will have trouble walking back to bed in the first place?"
"Um... the second one?"
"Hmm, perhaps it would be best not to discontinue your lessons quite yet. You need to build up a better tolerance."
"But, sir! I mean... can't I practice with someone other than Snape?"
"No, Harry. I'm afraid he is the best option available to us."
"Why can't you help me?"
"Aside from the fact that my schedule would not often allow for it, there are other considerations. I was very hesitant to even test you as I did tonight, though it seems to have done you no lasting harm."
Harry slumped further into his chair, trying to look highly put upon. "Fine." He grumbled in his best imitation of Ron after Hermione badgered him into doing his homework. "Can I go? I'm really tired."
"Yes, of course. Do keep up the good work, Harry."
He managed to maintain his facade until the stone gargoyle slid shut behind him, but then he slumped against the wall, his hands coming up to fist into his hair as he fought the pain. There was no way he was going to make it to his bed; it had already been too long. Feeling along the wall blindly, he found the first door and went in.
Once more a pair of blue eyes were watching, this time with a touch of concern, he really didn't look good right now. Harry never realised that in his haste he forgot to fully shut the door, and he never knew that when he let his magic flood his body in preparation for issuing his commands, his entire body glowed with an emerald light.
He got five more that night.
She was so bloody frustrated. There was something up with Potter these days, and she was bound and determined to figure it out. That freaking aura last night had shocked her so badly she had to bite her tongue to stop from screaming. She had never bought into the commonly held view that he was merely lucky in escaping during all his previous escapades; she knew there was more to him than met the eye. And right now she knew he was up to something.
But how the bloody hell could he be doing anything when she saw with her own eyes that he hadn't so much as lifted his wand, let alone left the castle. Stupid, frustrating boys.
Delores was furious. Things had been going so well. She was finally stamping down on the rebellions in that school, she was just about to throw out that disgusting half-breed, when these horrible vigilantes had shown up. And there were so many victims, even Cornelius was beginning to believe the rumours. He had even forbidden her from doing anything more overt towards the Potter boy—"What if he is right, Delores?"—and right as she was about to revoke his Quidditch privileges, too. These vigilantes needed to be stopped before they killed any more respectable members of society. Of course, they had managed to get many of the most wanted list.
Hmm. That was an interesting idea. Many of the victims had large rewards on their head, rewards held in trust by Gringotts. Since the vigilantes couldn't claim the bounty (as Cornelius had assured her they would be prosecuted for their repeated use of an Unforgivable) the bounty was lying there uncollected. It seemed only right that it fell to the Ministry.
Half an hour later, with her simmering smile back in place, she rapped her knuckles sharply on the ledger of one of those filthy beasts. Really, there were ignoring her. Who did they think she was?
"Yes?" The creature growled.
"I am Delores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minster of Magic and Hogwarts High Inquisitor."
"We know who you are, human. What is it you want?"
"I have here an order from the Minister for the immediate transfer of the unclaimed rewards set aside from the Most Wanted Kill or Capture list."
The dirty beast took it and read it over carefully, if it even could read, before looking back up at her. "Per the original agreement regarding those rewards, this is in order. All unclaimed rewards, after a thirty day period, will be returned to the Ministry." Then the filthy thing went back to its book as if dismissing her. Her.
"Hm Hm. And how much would that amount to, as of this moment?"
The thing looked up at her. "I'll just go check."
Delores fumed as she was made to wait like a common clerk. That grimy creature kept her waiting for nearly twenty minutes! When it finally came back, she starred at it for several moments. "Well! How much is it?"
"Nothing, Madam Umbridge."
"Nothing. All rewards, up to this moment, have been claimed."
"But... but... how? These vigilantes are criminals. You were informed to notify Aurors if any criminal appeared to collect their reward!"
"And we would have. But they instead contacted us by letter inquiring about the reward. They then swore a magically binding oath, via a blood quill, that they caused the deaths without actually casting a spell, thus clearing them of any pesky legal issues."
The scuttlebutt in the Ministry was that it was lucky there happened to be an off-duty Auror in the Gringotts lobby that evening, as he managed to subdue Umbridge before she could actually land a spell on one of the Gringotts goblins. Had she succeeded in her attempts, it would no doubt have started another bloody rebellion. When Umbridge returned to Hogwarts the next morning, she was noticeably subdued. She didn't take a point from Harry Potter for over a week.
Snape took the opportunity to schedule a lesson every night during the Easter holidays. Harry put up the expected protest, but internally he was rejoicing; he knew he was close to getting all of Voldemort's men. Last week he had even sat through an hour of Voldemort's ramblings about recruitments to an empty room instead of being able to eliminate anyone.
Something was different this time, and it wasn't just the change in location. The man in front of him was not acting like a Death Eater, but begging for mercy. Now, this was typical of Voldemort's followers so it wouldn't have normally caught Harry's attention, but the man wasn't asking for mercy for himself. He was begging for the lives of his daughters. Harry's eyes widened as three thugs dragged in an astonishingly beautiful woman and her two daughters. He recognised one of them.
The magic that Harry had built up in preparation to strike sizzled further; there was nothing that could get to him as much as a parent pleading for the life of their child, particularly a parent who willingly put themselves between Voldemort and their child.
She was terrified. She was thrown to the floor next to her mother and little sister, and immediately threw herself over her sister. Her mother was barely conscious beside her, but her father was standing tall before them, begging that he spare she and her sister. It was incredibly brave, even if it was pointless; he didn't spare anyone.
As she shushed her sister, she hoped it would at least be quick. She did not want either of them to become the Death Eaters' newest plaything, but she held out little hope. Draco had more than once expressed his desire for her and he would relish the opportunity to take what he thought was his due.
She squeezed her eyes shut as Voldemort uttered those hated words, knowing that her father would be the first target. Only the sound of the body hitting the ground didn't come from in front of her, it came from the side. And then it was repeated twice more. Startled, she looked up to see that the three thugs were all dead. Voldemort, ignoring them for the moment, walked over and stripped all of their left sleeves before tapping them each on the chest. With a faint blue glow, they all disappeared.
Now she was just confused.
Then he looked up and met her eyes before turning to look at her father. "I admire your devotion, Greengrass. I have no further quarrel with you and yours." His eyes once more looked at her, and it almost looked like he was looking for injuries, and was relieved when he didn't see any. It was as he turned to leave that she noticed.
His eyes, though slitted red, held a faint green aura that she had seen before.
The next day, a Gringotts owl came early in the morning, informing them that the reward for the death of Death Eater Lane Reginald, who had been killed during the attempted kidnapping the day before at their home, had been donated to their family to help them relocate for the duration of the war. With relief evident in his eyes, her father sent she and her sister back to school, promising that he and their mother were going into hiding that very day. She nodded, and then proceeded to barricade herself and her sister in an empty compartment, her wand trained on the door for the entire train ride and her mind racing faster than the Express.
Harry was making his way back from the library, a book on possession in his hand. It wasn't exactly what he was doing to Voldemort, but he hoped it was similar enough that it would give him some ideas; he needed to know how far he could exert control over Voldemort's actions. It also gave him something to focus on instead of the utter ruin of his relationship with his once best friends. Harry had never felt so alone in the castle; even during second and fourth year he had at least had Hermione by his side. But now there was no one. Sure, the girls were still asking him out, and others were constantly trying to gain his attention, but it was all for the wrong reasons having only started once the wizarding world in general had decided he wasn't actually an attention-seeking quack.
He was completely started when a hand grabbed his arm and tugged him roughly into an empty classroom. He went with the movement, pulling his wand and pointing it straight between the eyes of his captor. Then his eyes went wide.
As her wand wasn't out, he lowered his. "Greengrass."
She stared hard at him for several agonizingly long minutes, causing Harry to nearly have a panic attack inside. But then a small smile graced her face. "I wanted to thank you."
He shifted uncomfortably. "For what?"
"Don't pull that act. I have no idea how you managed it, but I know very well that it was you who saved my family last night. And I'm willing to bet we have you to thank for the anonymous donation that allowed my parents to go into hiding today."
"Um... I think you're confused. I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Stupid doesn't look good on you, Potter." She paused for a moment. "I'm not going to pry or insist on knowing exactly how it is you have managed to take out so many Death Eaters when I'm positive you haven't left the school, but you saved my sister and I last night and that deserves thanks. So, thank you."
So quickly that he almost missed it, she leaned up and kissed his cheek, and then she ducked out the door and was gone. Stunned, Harry stood in that empty classroom for several minutes. He wasn't sure exactly how she had figured it out, but he was well and truly caught. And yet, she didn't seem to be doing any of things he had expected from someone who caught him. She wasn't demanding how or why; she wasn't yelling at him for killing so many; she wasn't threatening to turn him in to Dumbledore, the Ministry, or Voldemort; she wasn't asking for favours.
Daphne Greengrass was a complete enigma to him, and he hated riddles.
Harry was sitting at the end of the Gryffindor table, his eyes repeatedly darting up to look at the Slytherin table. When the owls flooded into the Great Hall, a smile briefly crossed his face before he quickly repressed it. Two owls made their way to Malfoy, and the arrogant boy chose to open the one from his family's eagle owl first. The boy barely showed any emotion as he read the letter, and Harry was impressed with his control. But then Malfoy reached for the second letter. Harry knew what was in this one, for he recognised the distinctive livery of a Gringotts messenger owl.
He had finally got Lucius Malfoy last night, but first he forced the man to sign over seventy percent of his wealth and donate it to the Auror Division. He didn't want to leave anyone destitute, but he also didn't want Draco to immediately step into Lucius' place. Plus, it was a good cause.
An inarticulate scream caused everyone in the Hall to turn and stare at the usually calm Slytherin prince. He was stalking up to Snape, the letter clutched tightly in his hand. "This has to be some kind of mistake!" He screamed, thrusting the letter at his Head of House. Snape immediately went into a conference with Dumbledore, and then the three of them hurriedly left the Hall, Draco still spluttering in rage.
Harry barely was able to suppress his urge to whistle happily until he was safely outside. He spent the day out by the lake, in a quiet glade that was hidden from view of the castle. Half an hour after he left the Great Hall, he got company.
Time passed as it is want to, and Harry divided his time between studying for OWLS and perfecting his control of his mind. The pattern of dead Death Eaters continued somewhat steadily, though discerning minds would notice that it was slowing down. Eventually it was time for the tests themselves, and several of the fifth years were quite amused by the glares that Hermione Granger sent Harry Potter during every exam when Potter would finish early and set his quill down, leaning back and looking completely relaxed. The Defense OWL was particularly interesting; news of Potter's exploits had reached the ears of the examination committee and so they had taken to asking every fifth year if they were capable of producing a Patronus.
Granger was forced to give up after three failed attempts. She was just exiting the exam room when a large silver falcon glided around the room. Turning around in shock, Granger's eyes met Greengrass's just as the Slytherin girl let the spell dissipate.
The day after the last of the OWLS, Harry was called once more to the Headmaster's office. He listened carefully as Dumbledore informed him of a prophecy that was given before he was born that proclaimed that he would be the vanquisher of Voldemort, and then Dumbledore proceed to explain to him how it was his ability to love that would lead to this defeat.
Harry completely lost it and started cracking up laughing. When he had calmed sufficiently, he looked up at a completely flummoxed headmaster. "You're wrong," was all he said before walking out of the office, still chuckling.
There was one Death Eater that Harry had so far resisted the urge to kill. He had plans for Wormtail, and he didn't want Dumbledore to have enough time to think up an alternate location for his summer jail, so he had put these plans on hold. But tonight the rat was finally going to get justice. Harry had been practicing his control just for this moment.
"Imperio," Voldemort hissed and Wormtail's eyes went blank. "You will travel to the Ministry as a rat, you will sneak into Auror headquarters and wait for Amelia Bones to arrive in the morning. Then you will transform and tell her of your betrayal of the Potters, framing of Black, and murdering of Diggory's boy. You will not try to escape."
Harry was sitting beaming at the breakfast table, happily munching on an apple while reading the paper.
SIRIUS BLACK INNOCENT! PETTIGREW ALIVE AND BEHIND IT ALL!
The shocked silence of the Great Hall was broken as a large black dog barreled into the room, followed by a beaming Remus Lupin. Three feet from Potter the black dog transformed into Sirius Black, formerly most wanted man in Britain, who then proceeded to tackle his laughing godson onto the floor.
Most of the occupants of the Hall were still trying to digest the news that Sirius Black was in fact innocent, and didn't know how to handle seeing the man himself. Several of the faculty members were smiling down at the laughing man and his beaming godson. And one Slytherin was half smiling at the scene before turning her attention to the Head table.
Dumbledore was completely shocked. None of his sources had given him a hint that this was coming, and now he had a problem. The school year was over in two days, and that was not enough time to develop a new plan. He knew that there was no way Sirius would let Harry return to the Dursleys now that he had been exonerated. If he hadn't been listening to Snape's opinion about Harry for five years, Dumbledore might have begun to wonder about the extraordinary timing of this.
Tom Riddle, self-styled Lord Voldemort, was completely alone. He hadn't managed to locate a single servant in the last five days, not since he had sent Pettigrew away. Of course, given how much he was questioning his own sanity it might be a good thing that he didn't have anyone on which to take out his questionable aggression.
He had spent the last two hours contemplating why he chose to force Pettigrew to turn himself in and confess instead of outright killing the rat.
Without any men, he had been forced to abandon his idea of luring Potter to the Department of Mysteries to retrieve the Prophecy orb for him. In point of fact, he had been forced to abandon most of his plans for the last few months. He was starting to doubt himself. Was it truly worth all this just to rule over some miserable excuse for humans? He should have gone the Malfoy route and ruled them all with money.
It was all getting so tiresome, and he was almost bored with this world domination bid. He wondered if it was too late to try the other method. He could start fresh, manipulate instead of terrorize, accumulate wealth instead of followers. He could be the power behind the Minister, now that Lucius was out of the way. When he was a boy he had always been able to charm his way into anything. Of course, he knew that his handsome looks had something to do with that. Hm, wasn't there a ritual that would return him to his original appearance?
Yes, he liked this idea. And best of all was that no one would ever expect it of him. He would, of course, have to come up with a whole new identity, but that was something he was good at. And this time it might be better to not always champion the pureblood cause (seeing as how he had killed so many of them recently). Maybe a Muggle grandparent?
He was still idly making plans as he carefully set up the ritual from memory.
BODY POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED AS BEING THAT OF VOLDEMORT
Yesterday a decomposing body was delivered to the Ministry of Magic. This reporter, who was in the building and happened to catch a glimpse, would have guessed that it had been dead for over a decade, but forensic magic revealed it had actually been alive only twelve hours earlier. It was positively identified as belonging to one Tom Marvolo Riddle, whose name is an anagram for I am Lord Voldemort.
The Gringotts goblins have also released a statement that they have dispersed the contents of the Ministry vault set up as a reward for the death or capture of Voldemort, which has been happily accruing interest since it was set up in 1973.
Ministry experts tell us that Voldemort appeared to have attempted a rare ritual that would return him to his natural appearance. He failed to take into account that his natural appearance, without all the rituals he underwent that preserved his life on Halloween, 1981, was that of a decomposing corpse.
Could it be that the most feared Dark Lord in the last five centuries was brought down because he failed to properly do his research? Or was there more at work here?
Sirius Black smiled as he set the paper down in the sand by his towel, then happily lay back, basking in the sun. Black Island sure made a nice change from Britain, even if his name finally had been cleared. He opened his eyes at the sound of someone sitting down beside him.
"Has Harry seen this yet?"
Sirius looked at his old acquaintance. Steffan Greengrass looked so much more relaxed now, and Sirius was glad the man no longer had to worry so much for his family.
"No." He gave a leer, "Harry and Daphne haven't emerged from their room yet this morning."
Steffan gave a nod. It had taken him a few days to get used to his daughter's relationship with Harry Potter, but he didn't fault her choice. Harry had saved them all, and never once asked for anything in return. Daphne's letters as she practically forced Harry to get to know her had been fascinating. And as soon as they reached the island a week ago their relationship had leapt forward, though Steffan was fairly sure it was Daphne that had been the impetus behind that.
He idly wondered how the world would take the revelation of Harry Potter's relationship with a Slytherin pureblood princess. Ah, well, they had two months before they had to deal with any of that. For now he just had to try and not think about what the boy was doing with his little girl.
Albus Dumbledore was still staring at the paper on his desk four hours after the owl had dropped it off. He didn't know what to make of this. He had been so sure that Tom had made several Horcruxes, but then how could he be dead? And it had to be real, as the goblins had means at their disposal to verify this before they handed over reward vaults. And yet, it made no sense. He knew that Harry had to be the one to kill Tom, and yet Harry had been safely tucked away in Gryffindor tower on the night in question. How was it possible?
There had been so many odd happenings these last few months, and for the first time in nearly seven decades Albus Dumbledore was at a complete and total loss. When that boy finally returned from wherever Sirius Black had spirited him away for the summer he had a lot to answer to.
For the first time since the twins had started Hogwarts, the Weasley family was early for the Hogwarts Express. The reason for this was simple: Molly Weasley wanted answers from the boy she considered to be her seventh son, even if he had refused to communicate with her beyond a simple note to let her know he was alive and spending the summer with that reprobate of a godfather of his. She had been thinking all summer, and come to the conclusion that Harry had somehow had his hand in the demise of V... You-Know-Who. That most likely meant he was also involved in the unfortunate deaths of all those Death Eaters as well, and that was just not acceptable. The boy needed to be taken to task for his unacceptable morals. And the way he had been treating Ron and Hermione at the end of the year was simply not acceptable.
Molly had sent her two youngest onto the train already and been pacing for a good twenty minutes when a much changed Harry Potter finally emerged through the barrier. She was just opening her mouth to beginning explaining the facts of life to him when she recognised who was with him. Sirius and Remus, with young Nymphadora on his arm, were on one side, but on the other he had an arm wrapped around a lovely young lady with long black hair and startling blue eyes. Molly wouldn't have recognised her if she wasn't the spitting image of her mother.
"HARRY JAMES POTTER! WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH A GREENGRASS?"
Seemingly unfazed by her tone, Harry turned to her. "Hello, Mrs. Weasley, how was your summer?"
"Don't you ignore me, young man? What are you doing with that Slytherin hussy?"
Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Please do not insult my girlfriend, Mrs. Weasley."
"Girlfriend! But... but... you... you're supposed to... what about my Ginny?"
"Um, I've never dated Ginny, Mrs. Weasley, and frankly, I was never inclined to. Lovely girl, but looks a tad too much like I imagine my little sister might have. A little unnerving, if you know what I mean. Now, if you don't mind, we need to board the train before it leaves."
He left her there, spluttering in rage, Sirius laughing hysterically in the background.
Oddly enough, no one was able to find Harry Potter on the train to school, and rumours began to spread that he wasn't coming back to school. No one noticed that Daphne Greengrass also appeared to be missing. So it was that when they walked in together to an already full Great Hall, every eye was on them even before Ron Weasley's indignant shriek rang out. Harry walked Daphne to the Slytherin table, kissed her cheek, and then turned and took his seat at the Gryffindor table. The fact that he chose to sit several spots down from Ron and Hermione sparked further conversation to break out throughout the hall.
Hermione waited until Dumbledore had finished his announcements before she pounced. Then she stood up and calmly took a seat across from Harry.
"Yes, Daphne and I have been dating for several months now."
"Ah. How did you meet?"
"She cornered me after I saved her family from Voldemort. Then she honestly wouldn't leave me alone. I think she felt that I needed a friend. That or she was just fascinated with trying to figure me out. We didn't officially start dating until the start of summer. Sirius invited her family to stay with us and as soon as we got to... where we were staying she basically, well, she jumped me."
Hermione raised one bushy eyebrow. "I see. How serious are you?"
"Very. Her father actually mentioned betrothal to me. I told him I would consider it at Christmas, but that I wanted to date for six months first."
"Are you sure it is... safe to associate with her?"
He set his fork down and looked her in the eye. "Nearly every Death Eater is dead, and the rest are so scared they won't try anything. And Voldemort has been dealt with. What else are you worried about, Hermione?"
"Are you sure that Voldemort won't be able to come back again? He has done so before."
He gave a flick of his wand, and she recognised the privacy ward that went up. "As I was personally responsible for both of his defeats, yes I am sure."
She looked surprised. "But... the Prophet said it was a botched ritual."
"Let's call it the power of suggestion and leave it at that."
"Hermione, you told me numerous times last term that you didn't believe me or want to help me with the method I used to defeat him. I am not inclined to let you share in it now that it worked. Suffice it to say that I was right, Snape was wrong, and things are not always as they appear." With another flick his ward came down, and that was the last he spoke to Hermione outside of class related topics for several weeks.
He had honestly expected the summons last night, so the fact that Professor McGonagall was waiting that morning to escort him to Dumbledore's office did not come as much of a shock. It did mean he missed his morning kiss from Daphne, though, which meant he already wasn't in a good mood.
Dumbledore waited until he was seated before talking, as was his custom. The traditional twinkle, however, was absent.
"Hello, Harry. How was you summer?"
"It was wonderful, Headmaster. Extremely relaxing. How was yours?"
"Perplexing. Something I am hoping you can help me with."
"Well, I can try."
"You may recall our discussion about a certain prophecy. It was only several days later that it occurred to me that you seemed to have a very good idea about how it would be resolved. This was perplexing to me as I have spent over two decades searching for the way to bring down Tom Riddle and I thought I had discovered the answer." Harry merely looked at him, so Dumbledore continued.
"Do you know what a Horcrux is, Harry?"
"Absolutely no idea."
"Hm, you seem to be telling the truth. It is a truly vile thing wherein a wizard commits an act of evil and splits a portion of their soul, then places it into an object. When the wizard is killed, this portion of their soul is anchored to the mortal world, preventing them from moving on and thus preventing their true death. When you brought me the diary of Tom Riddle over three years ago I was convinced that it was this that had allowed Tom to linger after that eventful Halloween of 1981. I had searched for years and was even convinced I had located another one of his Horcruxes and was planning on retrieving it after school let out. Of course, these plans were derailed with the Daily Prophet announced Tom's supposed final defeat."
"I admit that I was skeptical, but then the goblins confirmed the release of the reward, and the goblins have ways of ensuring that they are never wrong in such cases. Confused, I went after what I thought was a Horcrux. To my surprise, I discovered that it had been one, but no longer was. Something had caused all of Tom's Horcruxes to self-destruct, allowing him to truly die. I knew that because of the prophecy it had to be you that led to his defeat, so I am wondering if you might satisfy an old man's curiosity and tell me what you know."
Harry stared at him for nearly five minutes in silence before coming to a decision on how much to reveal. Then he began his tale.
"Snape is the worst Occlumency teacher you could have possibly found for me." Dumbledore made to interrupt, but Harry held up a hand to stop him. "I do not know if he did so intentionally or not, but after every lesson I was even more susceptible and would find myself falling into Voldemort's mind. One night I was witness to a meeting between Voldemort and a man who I later found out was Fenrir Greyback." Dumbledore's eyes widened—that was the first victim of the AK-vigilante. "They were plotting to kill Remus and I had had enough. My anger boiled over and I pushed it towards my scar with the intention of killing Greyback. Imagine my surprise when Voldemort followed my command. This opened up a world of possibilities. I never did figure out if it was a true possession, though with your explanation I'm inclined to think that I was a Horcrux, but somehow I was able to use Voldemort to thin out his Death Eaters until there were almost none left."
"By this time he was utterly paranoid, he actually thought you were possessing him somehow. I fed his paranoia and managed to convince him that it was better to be the economic power behind the throne than it was to rule by fear. I made him believe that the best way to do this was to return to his younger body when he was still handsome and charming. I led him towards a ritual that I knew would return him to his original body as it would be at this exact moment in time, that is dead, not his younger body as he thought it would. My guess is it also returned his soul to its original place. I'm not really going to complain about not having to chase down all his little soul pieces, though. Sounds like a bloody nightmare."
"Quite. Now that Voldemort has been dealt with, what are your plans?"
Harry chuckled and stood up. He walked to the door and only answered when he opened it and was about to step through. "None of your bloody business."
Harry Potter and Daphne Greengrass graduated with top marks from Hogwarts and immediately married. Harry claimed his family's hereditary seat on the Wizengamot that summer and the couple started making a splash. They threw parties, dinners, and soirees. Potter quickly became known for his moving speeches in the Wizengamot chamber and his ability to make deals out of it. On his thirtieth birthday he was sworn in as Chief Warlock. He would become legend as the power behind the revolutionizing of the Wizarding world. Two of his sons would be Minister of Magic, a son-in-law Head of the DMLE, and his eldest daughter succeeded him as Chief Witch. His third grandson became Headmaster of Hogwarts. His eldest great-granddaughter married the heir to the British Muggle throne, who was a closest wizard.
Harry would laugh every time the press asked about the many accomplishments of his family and say that he was proudest of the number of times his wife was voted to Witch Weekly's Most Beautiful list (it was 27). He passed away peacefully at the age of 211, five days after his beloved wife. His funeral was so well attended they were forced to hold it in the Quidditch World Cup stadium.
A/N: This is a short little drabble that I has been percolating in my head for awhile. And I have no intention of ever adding to it, in case you are wondering. My writing time has been severely curtailed recently (having gotten a real job in the last bit and so I can't slack off as much). I have three other stories that I work on occasionally (a Harry/Tonks, a Harry/Hermione and a Harry/OOC) that will eventually go up. I hope to finally start working on the clean up and finishing of War against Voldemort this summer. But that might take awhile so don't hold your breath waiting for it. (I do promise that it will eventually be finished.) The romance was largely secondary in this, which is not my usual style, so I reused one of my favourite pairings. I do love Daphne. Enjoy.