(A/N: Here's the conclusion to the story.)
Chapter 6 - Power
(Thu, Jul 31)
His birthday party for when he turned fifteen had been wonderful because it was his first and Sirius was there, but this one for turning seventeen was wonderful in its own way.
There were only six of them: Heidi, McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, and for a short time Trelawney. The Divination teacher had wished him a Happy Birthday and left for her tower with a piece of cake. The other professors stayed and told Harry stories about his parents, for which he was grateful.
It was half nine as Heidi was walking him back to their rooms. They stopped at a westward facing window to see the sun setting over a low point in the mountains. It wouldn't get really dark for another couple of hours.
"Are you going to tell me when you're birthday is now?" he asked as they looked at the sunset. "If you don't have one, just make one up."
She held onto him for a moment before stretching her neck a little and gently kissing him on the lips. "That's been the problem and I guess I didn't want to admit it. So what date do I pick?" She grinned at him suddenly, then her expression fell just as suddenly.
"What?" he asked.
"I had considered picking July 31st, then we could celebrate together; but that wouldn't be fair to steal your day." She sighed. "This is so hard, maybe you should pick for me."
"Do you remember when you became sentient?" he asked.
"It wasn't sudden," she answered. "It happened over most of 1979 and a little into 1980. I had thought of that, but there's no point in time like a birth."
"How about the 14th of October?" he threw out.
"Why … Oh." She brightened. "Yes, that was significant and a single day. Wow, I have a birthday now." She kissed him and told him. "Thanks!"
Feeling rather pleased with himself, Harry led her to his room. Like most evenings, Harry pulled her to his sofa and onto his lap where they could talk and make out lightly as they felt like.
Heidi suddenly stiffened only a few minutes after they had arrived.
"What?" he asked, a little alarmed that he had done something wrong.
"We have visitors at the front gates and they have more than pitchforks. Start taking your clothes off, I've got an outfit for you." Heidi faded out.
Harry had no idea why he should undress, but if nothing else, he knew he'd need a few things. Running to his bedroom, he pulled out the Death Wand, Cloak, and put the ring on so he'd have all three Hallows as it seemed like they worked better as a set. He also grabbed his sword. He didn't bother with the Marauders Map; he had Heidi.
She faded back in and handed him his own leather outfit - with boots - in a deep green. "I was going to give these to you later tonight. Happy birthday!" she told him with a grin as she started removing all of her clothes. Instead of the bluish purple suit, she had a royal blue leather suit and it was a several sizes larger than normal.
He froze with half of his clothes off when she morphed to her Rowena form, which he had only seen once before; she was totally nude.
"Keep moving, Harry," she told him as she put her suit on hurriedly. "He's coming."
Not feeling like it was right to look at her in that form, he turned and continued dressing.
"What's wrong? Don't like older women? Or am I that ugly like this?" she asked teasingly.
"The first, really. In that form you're older than my mother would be if she was alive and that doesn't feel right."
"No boxers, Harry. These are meant to be worn with nothing under them. Don't worry, there's charms on the inside to prevent chaffing. There's also charms on the outside to prevent minor curses from getting to you."
Four pops sounded as he finished closing up his pants. Looking over his shoulder, he saw four house elves paying close attention to her.
"You, make sure Trelawney stays in her tower. You, go see Sprout and tell her that if she's going to fight, to stay with the others, but I'd prefer her to stay in her room where she'll be safe. You go see McGonagall and you go see Flitwick. Tell them the castle is being invaded and they can choose to stay safe in their rooms or fight, but if they go fight they need to stay together. Go." Heidi told them and they all left.
Harry buttoned his top and started to grab his sword when Heidi stopped him by grabbing it. She pulled the sword out of the scabbard and dropped it on the bed. A new sword materialized in her hand and she put that in the scabbard and handed it to him. It was a sword he had used once before.
"You probably won't need it, but just in case. Remember to be conscious of the edge, Harry, it's magically sharp," she warned. "Also, you can block spells with the flat of the blade as long as your hand isn't at that spot. I remember Godric doing that effectively as he fought with the sword in his left and his wand in his right."
"That's why you've had me practicing with the sword in my left hand, isn't it?" he asked confidently as they walked out of the room.
"It is," she told him, pleased he had figured it out. "In case you're wondering, this is how Rowena Ravenclaw looked in the first memory I have of her, after the foundation of the school was laid and she had created the spark that would eventually become me."
"Are you going to let Flitwick and Sprout meet you too?" he wondered.
"Maybe Flitwick. Sprout has decided to stay in her room so I'm covering the door with stone like the walls around it so she can't be found. Let's stop near the main staircase," she told him. "Riddle is almost at the front door and we need to wait to see where everyone goes."
— — —
Lord Voldemort was feeling good about the evening. He thought it poetic that he kill Harry Potter on the boy's seventeenth birthday.
He was sure he had all the options covered. The Floo was cut off; he had followers coming in the tunnel from Hogsmeade; a group flew to the Astronomy Tower to enter that way; there were even a few flying on their broom around the castle in case Potter tried to fly away. He also had all of his followers here to find the troublesome boy. Snape would be well rewarded if Potter was found tonight.
As he led his group to the front doors, with Bella on his right and Snape on his left, he was surprised to see the front doors ajar just enough for someone to slip through at this time of evening. He looked at Snape. "Why are the doors open at this time?"
"I'm not certain, my Lord, but there are several valid reasons. The oaf Hagrid might have just returned from his visit to the giants. Someone may have stepped out for a few moments for some fresh air. It's even possible Potter has a visitor or two for his birthday, like Granger and Weasley. I can check for you," Snape volunteered.
"No. Rookwood? Look in entry hall and tell me what you see," Voldemort commanded the man on the other side of Bella.
"Of course, my Lord." While everyone waited at the bottom of the steps, Rookwood stepped into the crack and looked in. He walked back after a long moment. "My Lord, no one is in there and the lights are on low as they would be during the night. Even my Revealing spell detected no one hiding in there."
"Very well. Group leaders, take your group in and search your assigned area. Bella and Rookwood with me." Voldemort hung back and let everyone else enter, his group going last.
Snape had given him the password to the Headmaster's office and he wanted to look there, as well as see about the status of the wards. When he was done here, he also planned to retrieve Ravenclaw's diadem and take it with him to some place he fully controlled.
— — —
After Voldemort had entered the castle and was far enough away from the front door that he couldn't see it, the door slowly and quietly closed before sealing itself.
Next, three pairs of armor walked as silently as ghosts to nearby windows. At an order that only they could hear, they all fired their crossbows at the flyers around the castle, two per flyer. All six bolts hit and the riders fell out of the sky with no Death Eater inside being any wiser.
The hollow knights all reloaded their crossbows and returned to their assigned positions in case they had other visitors to take care of later.
— — —
When Flitwick had heard what the house elf had told him, a smile spread over him. "Please go tell Professor McGonagall that I shall meet her in the corridor in two minutes."
He hurried into his bedroom and pulled out his old dueling robes from his closet. As he changed clothes as quickly as possible, he grinned with anticipation. He hadn't had to fight like this since he'd left the dueling circuit and he was looking forward to it. He'd missed that excitement over the years.
These robes weren't ordinary either. He had augmented them after he had retired from his first profession. He had dragon hide over his back and a few runes branded into the leather that would have made it illegal to wear on the circuit but could be useful tonight.
Grabbing his extra wand, which he tucked into a special summon-proof pocket just for the backup weapon, he all but ran out of his room. As expected, Minerva was there waiting, looking the same as always.
"Pomona won't be joining us. Reaching back to the old days?" she asked with a hint of amusement as she eyed the three patches on his robes proclaiming him three time European Dueling Champion.
"Yes and it feels good to wear it again." He gave her a calculating look. "What do you believe the odds are that we'll meet up with some of our former students who looked down upon us so much?"
"Are you that anxious to show them that you're a charming fellow?" she asked with a straight face.
"Nice one," he complimented her. "I'm probably about as anxious for that as you are to give them a lesson they'll never forget."
"What should we do if we meet You-Know-Who?" she asked, becoming more serious.
"I don't know who you mean," he quipped, smiling at her exasperated look. "Didn't you tell me that Mr Potter was arranging a confrontation?"
"I did, as you well know."
"Then we shall have to trust that Mr Potter has a plan and that we won't have to deal with the Head Villain but only his followers," he told her.
They rounded a corner and stopped in their tracks as they saw a suit of armor stop them by holding out his hand in the universal sign for stop, before moving said hand and holding one finger in front of where his lips should be as if asking for silence. Then it pointed down the corridor before flicking the fingers left.
Flitwick looked at McGonagall and whispered, "I believe we're about to see some action. You take whoever is on the left and I'll take the right, meeting in the center." He took the lead when she nodded.
At the corner, he Disillusioned himself and peeked. "Four," he whispered before gliding across the corridor slowly to conceal his motion. He watched McGonagall disappear as well. Counting to five slowly, he ended the count with a silent Stunning spell. Another Stunning spell from across the corridor joined his a split second later as he fired as fast as possible.
The four Death Eaters walking down the corridor stopped in shock as if unable to comprehend anyone would fire spells at them in an empty school. They all went down before any of them could mount a defense.
"Unprepared and sloppy," Flitwick said condescendingly as he faded into sight, shaking his head at those on the sprawled on the floor.
"Yes, but I'd prefer for them all to be as easily defeated," she told him as she tied them up with conjured ropes.
"We should put them somewhere so they can't be revived and tell the others what happened," he suggested.
The words were barely out of his mouth when four house-elves popped in. They each grabbed an immobile Death Eater and popped out, leaving the place as if the battle had never happened.
"Where do you suppose they were taken?" McGonagall asked her colleague.
"I'd rather know who told them to take the prisoners away," he returned. "I barely had the thought."
McGonagall smiled at him. "I can guess who and maybe you'll even meet her," she said cryptically. "Let's continue."
At the next suit of armor they came to, it pointed up for them.
"Up to the next floor?" McGonagall asked.
It waved its hand from side to side and pointed up in larger gestures.
"Higher? The astronomy tower?" Flitwick guessed.
The armor gave them a thumbs up sign and returned to its normal pose.
"I'll assume some flew to the tower and are coming in that way," Flitwick said as they started moving again. He gave her a curious look. "Did you activate the castle's defense system?"
"No, I honestly wasn't aware it could do this on its own," she said with a smile. "I believe the castle's protector did though. I wonder what else we'll find."
— — —
Severus Snape was having a hard time with his team. None of them trusted him and there seemed to always be one of them watching him as they checked the rooms.
Finally, two of them looked in a room at the same time, leaving him with just the one. Pretending to walk over and look in a room too, he whirled and fired a Stunning spell. The man dropped just before he could fully bring his wand around.
Stepping to the side so he could take the others out as they came out of their rooms, he waited … and waited. As he was about to give up waiting and go in after one of them, thinking they had somehow seen him stun the last of their team, both doors opened and the two stumbled out. They fell to the ground, revealing a suit of armor behind each of them holding a sword with blood dripping down the length of it.
Fortunately, they stood there and looked at him and didn't attack. Three house-elves popped in and one said to him, "Professor, if you could tie him up?"
Without a word, Snape cast Incarcerous on all three, although only the one he stunned really need it. Two of the elves snapped their fingers and the blood disappeared from the swords of the suits of armor. They each grabbed a prisoner and disappeared. The last elf snapped his fingers and the blood on the floor disappeared, making it so clean that no one would ever suspect there had been a fight here. The last elf took the last prisoner and left.
If that wasn't mystifying enough, one suit of armor pointed at Snape, then flicked his hand to the right before pointing down, then moving his hand left.
"You want me to go down by the secret passageway around the corner, then go left?" Snape guessed.
The armor gave him a thumbs up and the two suits stepped back into the rooms they had come from, hiding behind the door.
Shaking his head at the absurdity of this evening, he started on the path the armor had suggested. Somehow, he was sure this was all the doing of the "she" Potter and McGonagall had talked about but wouldn't name.
— — —
Harry tied up the last prisoner of this group before the elves took them all away. He was getting better. This time he had taken out two while Rowena/Heidi had taken out the other two. The first two groups they had met, she had stopped three while he had stopped only one.
"It's time," she said. "He's heading towards Gryffindor Tower and there are no other groups between here and there."
He walked beside her as they strode quickly to their destination. She stopped as they were to round the last corner before the stairs to the Tower. A scream was heard and then an evil laugh.
"That was Annette, who you know as the Fat Lady. I told her to scream when he got there and then open the portrait and flee," she whispered.
"Why in Gryffindor Tower?" he whispered back.
"Because we'll have a few friends there and it seemed fitting to me. Let's go, they're inside." She rounded the corner and hurried up the stairs with Harry close behind. Heidi stopped them at the open portrait hole. "Just a moment longer," she whispered in his ear.
— — —
McGonagall and Flitwick came around the corner just in time to see two people, one in green and the other in blue, head into the opening of Gryffindor Tower.
"From here," Flitwick remarked, "the one in green looked like Mr Potter. But who was the one in blue?"
"That was the Protector of the school," she answered. "Perhaps you can meet her later. I think you'd find the conversation very stimulating. She's quite knowledgeable."
They heard a sound from the right and turned, wand ready. Severus Snape walked around that corner with a suit of armor silently accompanying him. When he stopped, the armor stopped as well, causing it to receive an annoyed look.
"Yes, Headmistress. I've been hunting down the groups, as it appears that you have too," the spy said.
"It appears you've picked up friend as well," Flitwick said, amused.
"Yes. He came with me after the last battle." Snape cast another disparaging glance at the armor. "Have you had similar encounters?"
"If you mean having the armor pointing out which way to go next, then yes we have," McGonagall admitted.
"I assume this is part of the castle's defense system?" Snape inquired.
"Obviously," Flitwick answered, "however, Minerva didn't activate it. Nevertheless, I find it absolutely fascinating. The animation charms are extraordinary," he said with great admiration. "Silencing the normally noisy armor was also very prudent."
The armor waved his hand and then pointed at the stairs going down.
"It seems we have our next target," Snape said drolly before he started to walk towards the stairs. "I assume this is all caused by the mysterious Protector you told me about?" He looked over the railing to make sure no one was visible below before he started down.
"There's no one else who it could be," McGonagall replied.
"We just saw her and Mr Potter from a distance," Flickwick said. "They were heading into Gryffindor tower."
Snape stopped and looked at them with great concern. "That was one of the places on the Dark Lord's list to check, and he has Bellatrix Lastrange and Rookwood with him. Why didn't you go help them?"
McGonagall knelt halfway down the stairs to survey where they were about to go. "Because we don't need to. If we did, don't you think your new friend would have pointed us in that direction?"
Snape threw another annoyed glance at the armor, but didn't replied. He continued on to the bottom of the stairs, where the armor pointed him to the left.
As they walked past the place where the doors to the library should be, Flitwick asked quietly, "We seem to me missing something here." He ran his hand over the rock and they all felt solid. "The door is gone and it's not an illusion."
"Yes, I noticed that had happened for the corridor to the teachers' quarters too," Snape answered very quietly. "I wasn't aware the castle could change it corridors like this for protection."
"The infirmary did move a few summers ago to a more central location," McGonagall reminded them.
The armor waved for their attention and place one finger in front of where its mouth should be before pointing to the corridor on the right up ahead.
All three professors gripped their wands a little more tightly and crept forward to their next battle.
— — —
"Remember that I've got your back and that Heidi loves you," Rowena whispered in his ear.
Before Harry could reply, he heard voices from inside.
A male said, "He's not in the boy's dorms, my Lord."
"And he's not in the girl's dorms, my Lord," a female voice said.
"You take Riddle," Rowena whispered. "I'll take the other two and then help you if you need it." She gave him a small nudge.
Harry took a deep breath and walked through the opening. "Looking for me?" Harry asked with more confidence than he really felt.
"Potter, how kind of you to find us," Voldemort said. "I wanted to wish you a Happy Birth… Who are you?"
"I am the Protector of this school, Tom Riddle."
"Don't call me that!" Voldemort shouted and pointed his wand at her.
"Yes, it wouldn't do for your followers to know that their leader had a Muggle father, would it?" she taunted him.
Voldemort fired a Killing Curse at her silently while Lastrange and Rookwood looked at him in mild surprise.
Harry stood still since the curse wasn't that close to him. He also noticed that there were extra suits of armor in the common room that weren't here at the end of last term.
Heidi stepped slightly to one side further away from Harry and the curse went by her and hit the stones behind. "You don't care for the truth, do you? Another truth is that you've lost almost all of your followers except for these here and two other groups, which will be defeated soon. You've lost them all and you're about to lose the war."
Voldemort looked at her for a moment before he chuckled. "I don't know who you are, but you're no match for me. The only person who could truly challenge me is now dead and buried outside," he boasted.
"Two more truths," Rowena said as she stepped sideways again, stopping not too far from Bella, "is that Harry is your equal magically and I've been training him on how to use it. Also, in this castle, I am so far beyond you magically, that you might as well be a first year. You have no hope, give up now."
"You lie! Crucio!" Bella screamed.
Heidi just held up her hand and the curse started curving midway between them and continued to curve until it hit Rookwood. His scream caused Bella to stop instantly and look at her wand in wonder.
Voldemort looked at the woman in blue in shock, having just witnessed what he would have believed to be impossible. When he recovered, a look of determination took over and he told her, "There is one thing you can't protect. Avada Kedavra!"
Harry had been expecting that and stepped to the side as the green spell flashed towards where he had been standing. `Reducto!` he thought, three times in a row, trying to bracket the man so one would hit.
The fight was on, but Bella was lost on what to do since her favorite spell had been redirected before. Trying again but hoping for a different outcome, she cast a silent Cutting Curse. That curse bent in mid-air and hit Rookwood too, who was still recovering from the torture curse.
Rowena cast a Banishing spell at Rookwood and sent him flying backwards and into the arms of a suit of armor, which grabbed him and held his arms out straight to the side as if on a cross before becoming perfectly still so he couldn't move. That was why she had walked to the side and stopped at that spot.
Voldemort banished several couch cushions at Harry, transfiguring them all into knives as they flew.
Harry transfigured a cushion into a wooden shield and levitated it so all the knives embedded themselves into it. He saw several chairs suddenly move to towards him to attack. With a grin, he used a spell Heidi had taught him that was a favorite of Godric Gryffindor: Harry's spell didn't destroy them but gave them a new target. The chairs turned their attack back to their animator.
Bella flung a chair at Heidi before casting Snape's slashing spell right behind it.
Rowena merely Vanished the chair and redirected the curse over to Voldemort, who had moved just in time so only his robes were cut. "Just give up now, Bellatrix Lastrange. Or do you want me to tell why Argus Filch doesn't like witches? About what you and he did years ago?"
Harry almost lost concentration at that image and barely ducked a curse before sending an Ice Encasement curse back.
Bella screamed, "How dare you?!" before she rushed at the Protector. One of the blocks in the floor suddenly raised up a few inches and Bella tripped, skidding on her stomach to a halt in front of Heidi, who stunned her.
A shield jumped out of Harry's wand as Voldemort tried using a Flame Whip. Harry was starting to really understand what Dumbledore meant now. His spells eagerly came out of this wand almost without bidding. It was truly a joy to use and had allowed him to keep up with Riddle so far.
"Why won't you die?!" Voldemort screamed. "You're just a boy!"
"Tom, Tom, Tom," Heidi said casually as she leaned against the wall watching the fight. "Don't you understand that you're not going to win here? Harry is your equal and I will help him so that he's the better one. He's going to win and you have no hope. Give up now."
"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort screamed, only to watch the curse be redirected and return towards him so he had to jump to the side.
That distraction was all Harry needed and he hit the Dark Lord with a transfiguration spell. When the once self-proclaimed Lord of the Wizarding World landed, he croaked and flicked his long tongue.
"I objected to his use of a Killing Curse, but turning him into a toad? Really Harry?" she asked.
Harry looked at her while panting slightly and shrugged. "Most any animal that can't move too fast would do."
"I suppose that's true," she said as she bound Lastrange and Rookwood and Harry picked up Voldemort's wand to add to his collection.
Three elves appeared. The one who took the "toad" away didn't look happy to be saddled with that task.
"Now what?" Harry asked as he looked around the heavily damaged room.
Heidi waved her hands at various debris and they started going back together into whole item, even if they were in the wrong place. After a minute, the room was repaired and elves arrived to clean and arrange it appropriately. "Now we head to the Great Hall," she told him. As they left, the extra suits of armor came with them like an honor guard.
"That was part of what I was asking," Harry said as he walked beside her, "but I was also asking what's going to happen to everyone we captured."
"After I question Riddle about his Horcruxes; you will go retrieve them with some help and I'll process the rest of them while you're doing that," she answered vaguely at the end regarding the Death Eaters.
Harry considered that along with the idea that this whole war was almost over. He was rather pleased despite the few loose ends; that no one on the "good side" was hurt just made it all better. He also hoped Ron and Hermione weren't too upset with him for doing this without them, just as he hoped they understood his desire to protect them.
In the Great Hall, the armor stopped just inside the doors while Heidi took Harry to where the head table should have been and they sat in new chairs to wait on the others.
"The others are coming here?" he asked.
"Yes, there's one last group of Death Eaters and they should be here in a moment with the professors chasing them." She grinned at him. "It's been hard not to laugh at times while I watch them. Flitwick has been the most amusing."
"What's it like being able to see and hear everywhere in the castle at once?" he asked her.
"I don't believe I can explain it, Harry. It's a sensation that I don't think you can understand." She motioned towards the door. "Here they come."
A few seconds later, they heard running footsteps. Harry saw two Death Eaters run through the doors as if to take refuge, only to have the armor hit them in the head with the broadside of their weapons, dropping them like a rock.
Flitwick slid to a stop in the doorway with wand in hand and maniacal smile. "Ah, they're already out."
He sounded so disappointed that Harry almost burst out laughing.
McGonagall walked up quickly behind him with Snape coming in last despite his long strides. "Hopefully they're the last since we've lost our guide."
Elves took the prisoners away after Flitwick tied them up.
"They were the last," Heidi said, causing the professors to look up and start walking towards them slowly.
Flitwick instantly recognized her and held a look of awe while Snape looked disbelieving.
"Yes, Professor Flitwick, there is a reason I look like the statue in the Ravenclaw Tower. While I am not really her, you may call me Rowena," she addressed them. "I am also who you would call the Protector."
They stopped about ten feet shy of the two waiting on them. Harry could tell Snape was working furiously trying to figure it all out; and it was obvious he wasn't successful because his frown was slowly growing.
"Professor Snape," Rowena addressed the man, causing him to step forward. "Your behavior over the sixteen years you've been employed is generally reprehensible. A normal Headmaster would have sacked you multiple times over.
"However, I made a deal with you that if you acted a proper professor and defended this school when you brought Tom Riddle and his followers here that I would look beyond your past actions. Today, you have acted with honor and upheld your end of the deal, so I shall uphold mine. You are released from all obligations to this school and may walk out the doors to do what you love best, potions without being surrounded by dunderheads," she finished with a smile, causing all others but Snape to smile as well.
"I will also give you a parting gift and a choice." A medium-sized rough hewn wooden box appeared on a short table beside her. "First the choice. You will either take a magical oath to keep my existence secret, or I will modify your memory to remember the Headmistress in my place and you remember her giving you this gift."
Snape blinked and looked at McGonagall, looking like he still had trouble believing any of this was possible.
"I have taken the oath of secrecy, Severus. It's not onerous," she told him.
As the silence dragged out, Flitwick piped up. "I'll take the oath. I want to keep these memories as well as have conversations with you in the future."
Rowena smile benevolently at him. "That can be arranged, Professor Flitwick. Professor Snape, your decision please."
"Very well, I'll take the oath," he said. A minute later, both he and Flitwick had sworn to keep her existence secret.
She floated the box over to him. "These are potions ingredients that Salazar Slytherin had set aside to dry and never did anything with them before he died. Their location was lost to everyone but me. I believe them to still be good, although I don't know what he planned to do with them. You may do with them as you wish, whether it's to hold onto them as something from Slytherin or to make something from them. Good luck … Severus Snape."
"This is a fabulous gift, Protector. Thank you." Snape bowed and left, with all watching him march out of the Great Hall for the last time and towards the now unlocked front door.
"Professor Flitwick." She looked down at the diminutive man. "I'm afraid that our first conversation will have to wait a few days as I shall be a little busy with the aftermath of this evening. However, do not fear; I will not forget about you. While I will answer as many of your questions as I can, I will also tell you a few things about your house that you may not like but will need to change for this next year."
"I understand," he told her, hoping the problems she wanted to correct weren't too difficult or severe.
"Headmistress, I'm sorry I made your job harder by having to find a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at this late date. However," Rowena's expressions became more pleased, "if you can find someone that you want to keep for a while, you will be able to. I've removed the curse on the position that limited a teacher to no more than a single year. I'm also training someone to take the position one day not too far into the future, if I can talk him into it." She looked at Harry.
Harry was surprised at the sudden inclusion into the conversation, and a little embarrassed that she mentioned that he might be good enough for the teaching position as well as for the scrutiny the two teachers were giving him.
"The last task I will give you before I leave to go release two teachers and a student from protective custody is to request that you call a group of the more active members of the Order of the Phoenix here tomorrow, including one Nymphadora Tonks. I believe there will be a need for her special talents for some of the clean up."
"Rowena, a question if I may?" McGonagall asked. At a nod from the avatar, she asked, "What about all the Death Eaters captured today? Shouldn't we call the Aurors?"
"No, you don't have to worry about them," Rowena said with a grim expression. "They are in a room that has not been visited for centuries and that you'll never find. I have some questions for them, which you shall see the answers to. Unless I'm very mistaken, those transcripts are the last you'll hear from them until I give their bodies to the Aurors at some future date. The answers to my questions to Tom Riddle are why your Order will be needed tomorrow. I will tell Harry what you need to do."
She looked at Harry. "I'd suggest you go see Heidi. She really wants to see you and make sure you're all right." Looking back at the teachers, she said, "I'll be available if I'm needed ... and for the occasional conversation." She winked at Flitwick before she faded out. "And Harry would make a great Head Boy…" her disembodied voice said in the air as if taken away on the wind, causing him to become embarrassed again.
"That was almost beyond belief," Flitwick squeaked in excitement. "She's Hogwarts, isn't she?"
"Yes," Harry said as he stood to leave.
"Mr Potter, are you all right? No injuries or anything?" McGonagall asked with concerned.
"No, Professor, other than being tired, I'm all right. If you'll excuse, I need to go see my girlfriend and I'll see you in the morning." With a hasty good-night to them, he walked very quickly back to his room.
Inside, he was engulfed in a hug by Heidi. "Are you really all right other than just being tired?"
"Yes. I think I want to lie down and sleep, maybe think about this tomorrow. I'm sure it'll all hit me then. I mean, I know Riddle is vanquished, but it's not entirely real yet."
"You were great, by the way," she told him as she led him into the bedroom.
Soon, they were snuggling together in bed. As the body of Heidi slept with Harry, Rowena was forcing potions into Tom Riddle while a Dict-O-Quill waited for the coming conversation.
— — —
The next day, Nymphadora Tonks was shown a picture of Bellatrix Lastrange and given a set of clothes and a vault key. A little over an hour later, she returned to the castle with an old cup with a picture of a badger on the side.
Meanwhile, Harry, Minerva McGonagall, Mad-Eye Moody, and Kingsley Shacklebolt took a trip to Malfoy Manor. A weepy Narcissa Malfoy let them in and took them to a room with a snake that she'd hated from the first moment she saw it.
Harry had only a little sympathy for her when he found out she was distressed from her (escaped from Azkaban) husband leaving last night and not returning this morning. While none of them knew for certain where Lucius was, Harry and McGonagall could guess. Harry thought Lucius had made his choice, as wrong as it was, and now the chips were falling - as the saying sort of went. Narcissa had lost Draco too since he was living in Azkaban for life.
Arriving at the castle, Harry took the sleeping and caged snake to the Room of Requirement.
Heidi checked it. "Yes, it's one," she said just before Gryffindor's sword appeared in her hand and she killed it. She then did the cleansing ritual on the cup. "That's all of the parts except for the main one," she told Harry with a smile. The unconscious body of Tom Riddle appeared in the room.
"Is there any special way this needs to be done?" he asked.
"Not really. Weapon, poison, spell," she shrugged. "Pick whatever you want. I'm sorry, but technically it should be you who does it."
"Since this is essentially giving him the death penalty for crimes, perhaps poison would be the most … civil?" Harry asked, a little squeamish but determined to do this. Killing someone in middle of battle was one thing, this felt like another.
A small phial materialized in Heidi's hand and she gave it to Harry. Without a word, he dumped the whole thing into the Riddle's mouth, even though he suspected only a few drops were needed. A moment later, Riddle's body spasmed and then he became very still.
"A Vanishing spell and you're done, Harry," she told him.
"But do we want to? Shouldn't people see evidence that he's really dead?" he asked.
"Do we want closet sympathizers to try to resurrect him with this body in some way?" she returned.
He thought about that for a moment before he cast "Evanesco" and the body disappeared like any other piece of trash.
"What about the Death Eaters?" he asked as he led her over to where their settee was, but this time it faced the outside wall which was a big picture window and let them look out over the school grounds. They sat with his arm around her and pulled in close for comfort.
"Those that died in the fight have already been sent to the special Floo in the Auror Department. There were only ten of them," she told him.
"And the rest?" he asked, wanting and yet not wanting to know.
"I'll question them with truth potions to ensure their innocence or guilt. All have been very guilty so far. At the end, I'll send their bodies to the Aurors too, along with a transcript of their confessions. I also plan to send the confessions to all the news outlets I can so everyone can see why they were killed, why these people deserved death. I'm sorry I have to do this," she said, "but these … well, they aren't really people any more … these Death Eaters who like to hurt people for fun and destroy our society, they deserve their own destruction."
"It's so easy to do in battle," he said after a long pause, "but to remove them like this. Yet, do we have a choice?" He felt guilty about being a part of this, yet he knew it had to be done.
"Do you want a healthy society or one that self-destructs?" she asked.
"I hope we never have to do this again," he said sincerely.
"So do I." She was just a fervent.
(Mon, 1997 Sep 1)
Harry Apparated to Platform 9 3/4 so he could ride the train to school, the place he had just come from, he thought with amusement. He did this for the fun, the time with his friends, and because the Head Boy badge on his robes required it. He had no trunk; that was back at the castle with Heidi.
As he was directing a new student, he heard his name called. A moment later he was almost hugged to death by Hermione.
"Hey, what's the problem? You know I've been fine since we've been writing," he said with a chuckle.
"But with all those stories about the Death Eaters in the paper and what they've done, and I know some will want to come after you," she told him before she whispered, "and with you being involved."
He looked at her a little puzzled. "You know that each of those Death Eaters are already dead and that's only their confession, right?"
"Yes, but there must be more live ones out there," she told him with confidence.
"I'm not totally sure about that," he replied, "or at least not any more marked ones." He'd only told his two friends that some Death Eaters had attacked the castle and that he and the professors had defeated them. If he had told them he had defeated Voldemort too, that would have required saying more about Heidi/Rowena than he or Heidi was comfortable with. The last confession sent in would be Tom Riddle's.
He promised himself that he would share the story with them one day soon, minus the part about Heidi's real identity. That was his and Heidi's secret for now.
At her demanding look, he pointed out, "I haven't read about any new Death Eater attacks since those confessions started being printed." He actually knew that Voldemort had brought all of his Death Eaters with him and that Snape was the only survivor not in Azkaban.
Heidi was mailing in one confession a day. A series about the lives and deeds of Death Eaters was now a semi-permanent feature on page two of the Daily Prophet and would be so for about another two months.
"You should still be careful, just in case," she told him.
"I will," he assured her. "I know you told me in your letters, but how are you doing since you found out you won't be Head Girl? Are you still all right"
"I am," she told him. "I'm still a little disappointed, but I'm fine with it. It will give me more time for my studies."
"That's good. Why don't you get a seat and I'll see you at the Prefect meeting," he told her as he saw a few more lost looking first years.
"Where's Susan? She is Head Girl and should be helping you," Hermione asked, seeing the same thing and wondering why Harry had to do everything.
Harry took the peeved comment in stride, understanding it for the disappointment his friend had yet to finish working through.
"She is. There was a tussle on the train so she's straightening that out. I suggested she take that because if I did then the ones fighting might need Madam Pomfrey when I was done," he said with a smile, teasing her.
"Prat," she told him shaking her head, recognizing the joke. "I'll see you soon."
Harry went back to helping those with questions, assuming he wouldn't see Ron until about five minutes before the train was to leave.
— — —
That evening, Harry laid down on his bed, tired from the long day. It wasn't that any one thing was hard, just that there were so many little things to do.
A bright spot was that Susan Bones - the Head Girl - got along with Heidi quite well. Then again, Harry wasn't sure there was anyone, other than maybe Draco Malfoy, that he'd ever seen Susan not get along with. She was just so easy going. If he hadn't had Heidi for a girlfriend, Susan would have made a good one - something he could never voice out loud.
Just as he got comfortable, a weight settled on his bed next to him.
"I wondered if you'd come," he told her.
"Of course. I plan to spend every night here, or at least every night that you'll let me," she told him good-naturedly. "Why do you think I wanted you to be Head Boy?" she asked. Before he could answer, she said, "So you'd have your own room for us to be together."
"How very convenient," he told her with a smile before he kissed her.
(Mon, 1998 Jun 25)
Harry was watching the Marauders Map, something he rarely used anymore since he could almost always ask Heidi about where people were in the castle. Tonight, he had a special mission, one that had taken most of the year to convince Heidi to agree to.
NEWTS had finished last Friday, so he was not going to distract his friend. He guessed she was doing personal research during the last week just for fun.
When he was sure he knew exactly where Hermione was, he asked, "Is anyone watching her?"
Pleased, he Apparated from his room to right in front of her in the Library. Despite his efforts, he must have made a noise because she was looking right at him with wide eyes. Doing his best not to burst out laughing, he said, "There you are. I've got a problem I need help with."
She was like a deer caught in sudden lights. The only movement for a moment was her slow blinking. "You can't do that," she finally said slowly and quietly.
"I can't ask my friend for help?" he asked casually, trying for a pout and not doing well as he held his laughter in, but it didn't seem to matter as she was still trying to process what she thought she saw.
"You can't Apparate in Hogwarts, but it looked like you just did." She sat up slowly. "All right, that was a good joke. How did you do it? The cancellation of a Disillusionment spell and a spell for the sound?"
"Err, no," he told her. "I Apparated." He looked around and no one seemed to be looking this way. "Watch, I'll go over there." With a quiet crack, much like the sound of someone closing a book a little too hard, Harry moved about ten feet over to the corner. "See? I can Apparate here. Can't you?"
Her eyes narrowed. "Hogwarts: A History says no one, not even the Headmaster, can Apparate through the wards here."
"If you insist," he told her, dropping the argument. "I really do need your help, so let me help you pack. Abrakadabra." He cast a spell to pack all her things into her bag before he grabbed the bag and her arm to help her stand. "Stand up, Hermione."
She glared at him. "That's not a real spell," she hissed.
"That's strange, because your things jumped in the bag when I did it, just like a real packing spell," he insisted, struggling to maintain a normal expression.
"Why are you making fun of me?" she asked a little crossly as she stood. "You're taking the joke too far, Harry."
"If I'm really doing the magic, are you sure it's a joke?" he asked before he Apparated both of them to his room.
"But… That's impossible," she muttered looking around the room, recognizing exactly where she was since she had visited a few times over the year. The sensations of being Side-Along Apparated had also been very real. Slowly, she sank onto the bed behind her, feeling a little week as her world twisted into a new shape she had never comprehended before.
A small crack sounded and Heidi appeared. "Actually, it's not impossible. All Apparation wards do is disrupt the normal magic used to Apparate so that magic used to travel can not operate in the warded area. That can be overcome by making a person's magical signature known to the wards so that person can go through anyway, much like matching frequencies. Historically, no one has ever had their magical signatures added as exceptions to the wards here at school. Harry is the first and only exception," Heidi explained.
"But you did it too," Hermione said shakily, still trying to process what she had experienced and seen.
"Not quite true, although you couldn't have known" Heidi corrected her. "I don't need an exception for the wards because you could say that I am the wards. That means that I'm the one that added Harry as the exception."
"But…" she looked up at Harry completely lost, silently pleading for his help to explain this.
He pulled up a chair for Heidi and sat down next to Hermione on the bed, putting his arm around her shoulders to steady her. "Look, I know this is going to be very hard to take in, but I thought that you needed to see a demonstration before the explanation.
"Heidi is not quite a normal girl. She's very special and she needs some help. I thought you were the best person to help and that you'd like to do this for the challenge. If after I tell you this, if you feel that I'm still joking or otherwise hate me for this, just say so and Heidi will Obliviate you so your world all goes back to what you knew ten minutes ago. However, please listen and think this through carefully because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. OK?"
"My choice?" Hermione asked timidly.
"It's all your choice, Hermione. You'll never be forced," he assured her.
She nodded after a moment. "All right. What's so special about her that allows her to do all this and you still need my help?"
"You see, Heidi can't ever leave Hogwarts," Harry told her, "and there are times that would be useful to her, and to me too. So we need your help to figure out how to do that. We think some sort of artificial body would work, but we can't determine how to do that."
"Why can't she leave Hogwarts?"
"Because she is Hogwarts," Harry said simply.
Hermione blinked and looked at who she thought of as her best friend. "This really isn't funny any more," she said, her anger building.
"He's not joking," Heidi told her. "Rowena Ravenclaw knew this would happen one day because of all the magic here and because of how I was constructed. I am the avatar or physical representation of Hogwart's magic. I became sentient about eighteen years ago."
Hermione stared at the girl, working through that. "Prove it," she finally said.
"You mean beyond being able to Apparate within Hogwarts?" Harry asked with a smile. "That's why I Apparated you here. Well, for proof and for the entertainment value. You're expression was priceless."
Hermione slapped him on the back of the head. Harry winced for a second but couldn't help but keep smiling.
Heidi sighed and looked at Harry. "Close your ears for a moment." She waved her hand and a bubble appeared around his head. "Now he can't hear. Hermione. The Sorting Hat can't share what he sees in a person during sorting. However, he is connected to me, like an extension. Therefore, I can tell you that the Hat told you, and I quote, 'You belong in Ravenclaw, but there is a lion in you if you'll let it out'. You agreed with his decision and that's why you went to Gryffindor … isn't it?"
Slowly, Hermione nodded while Heidi removed the bubble of silence from Harry.
"I never told anyone that. It's true then," Hermione said with awe. As that sunk in, she looked between the others, "But how does that work between the two of you?"
"Quite well, actually," Harry said with a cheeky grin. "She's got all of her girl parts and they're quite sexy too."
Heidi blushed but swatted at Harry, who moved aside at the last second, only to get hit by Hermione. "Thanks," Heidi told her. "So will you do it? Will you help me? You can live here for free, including meals. You can leave to visit your parents any evening or weekend you want. Date someone. Live life. I'll make it worth your time with reasonable pay too. I want to have someone help Harry to make me a body that I can use to leave the grounds with him on dates and other special occasions."
"What about the Headmistress? Won't she object?" Hermione asked worriedly.
"No, I'll see to that," Heidi assured her. "She knows that I exist, although she knows me as Rowena Ravenclaw the Protector of the school. When I ask her to let you live here, she'll agree. She likes you anyway. You just have to promise to keep my real identity secret."
Hermione smiled, happy with the praise. "I agree then." The trio hugged, all very happy.
Heidi smiled up at Harry as they walked down the street in London with his arm around her waist. "Thank you for bringing me here. I had a lot of fun tonight."
"I enjoyed the play too," he told her.
"It was great to finally see Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley yesterday, but I never realized just how much there was to the rest of the country and I've only been able to do this for three days." With the way she was always looking around, anyone who paid attention to her had assumed she was a tourist.
"We need to be heading back soon," he reminded her. "There's always next weekend."
"I supposed that being away up to six hours for every day isn't so bad, but I wished I could experience more faster," she told him with joy and wonder in her voice.
"Perhaps we'll find a way for you to bring more magic with you to allow longer times," he said, "but I have to agree that this is a great start."
They headed for a dark area so Harry could Apparate them back.
"I'm still very impressed that Hermione thought of infusing crystals in a golem body, then using dragon blood as the bridge to make it work," Heidi said with admiration.
"Me too. So what's the next project the two of you will be working on?" he asked her, curious as to what they'd pick from the long list of things they'd found over the years that interested them. The two girls had a great friendship and were very good research partners.
"Longer time away will be a possibility." She watched him carefully. "Or maybe finding a way for you to join me as part of the castle - if you wanted."
He almost tripped as he heard that. "You're serious?"
"Would you like to join me?"
"I, I am tempted," he told her. "Let's wait a bit and see though. It's so unusual I'll need time to think that through.
"Of course, my husband," she told him with a pleased look.
He chuckled as he wrapped her in his arms before Apparating them directly into their rooms.
"Mummy! Daddy!" All three children rushed at them and Harry looked at his two sons and daughter with pride. His oldest son would be starting Hogwarts in a few years.
"Were there any problems?" Heidi asked.
"No, Aunty Hermione and Uncle Charlie behaved," their daughter replied.
All four adults laughed. "I wasn't asking you, Helen," Heidi said as she hugged her daughter, now five, and named after her ghostly aunt.
"They were fine, if a handful," Charlie said with a smile. "They were good practice for us, even if that event may be a few years away."
"Yes, they can be a handful at times," Harry agreed.
Once Hermione had the idea that dragon blood could be useful for Heidi's body, she went to an easy source: Charlie. It also happened at a good time in Charlie's life, who became quickly interested in the bright twenty year-old who had once dated his youngest brother for a few weeks shortly after she had finished Hogwarts. Charlie had been wanting to return to Britain anyway and Hermione was a great excuse. A couple of years of dating made that relationship permanent.
"Heidi," Hermione said quietly, "you do know they can do wandless magic, right?"
Harry and Heidi both laughed. "Yes. Nigel and Ian have been able to do a few things for some time and Helen can summon things when she wants to bad enough," Harry told her. "We assume it's because they have two above average magical parents."
"Above average?" Hermione snorted and looked at Charlie who was chuckling. "Maybe one at the top of the scale and the other off the scale," she said sarcastically.
"You play the cards given to you," he said smugly. "Don't forget that we have a staff meeting tomorrow evening," he told his Transfiguration and Care of Magical Creatures professors.
"We haven't forgotten, Headmaster," Hermione told him teasingly. "Have a good night!"
Harry chuckled at their behavior. He was in his second year as Headmaster and was enjoying it so far.
When they left, Heidi went to her specially protected closet and put her golem body up to recharge for her next outing and transferred her magic back to her normal body that was lying on the cot there. Securing the room as only she could, she walked into the bedroom as Harry entered as well.
"Thanks for the lovely evening and for putting the children to bed," she told him with a kiss.
"Of course, my love," he told her, pleased with her, his family, and his life so far - as unusual as it all was.
(A/N: I had mentioned at the beginning that I'd talk about the origin. I was reading some story (sorry, I can't remember which one) and it asked the question of why there weren't more stories where Hogwarts helps Harry. Well, here's one and I can take it off my "to write" list and go back to what I was working on.
Someone also pointed out after chapter 2 that this is sort of a super!Harry story in disguise. I hadn't thought about it that way when I wrote it, but I think there is some truth to that. My goal was just to have a story that was fun to read.
I'm about half done with the next one, I think, and about 50Kw into it. I'm guessing it'll come out in a month or two … unless I get distracted by some other idea. There's a good chance I'll be dropping some small ones into my "Odds & Ends" collection. I hope you enjoyed this one - Kevin.)