The Last Battle has been fought, and Harry Potter has won. The price, however, has been high. Nearly every person Harry cared for is dead, maimed, or otherwise injured. The magical culture of Bri...
With some additions (Blaise Zabini, Anthony Goldstein, Su Li, Mandy Brocklehurst, Terry Boot, and Morag McGougal), the rising-third years who met for training that August were organized in the same teams as the year before:
Team 1 (Ron team leader, Justin second), Daphne, Padma, Lavender, Susan, Su, Anthony;
Team 2 (Draco team leader, Ernie second) Vincent, Gregory, Hannah, Seamus, Mandy, Terry;
Team 3 (Neville team leader, Tracey second) Anthony, Millicent, Parvati, Dean, Blaise, Morag.
Harry had hoped to get Lisa Turpin and the two most neutral Slytherin girls to join in, especially once Blaise had agreed. The two Slytherin girls had been interested, but forbidden by their families. While Harry would have been happy to have had unbalanced teams to accommodate Lisa, she was spending the summer traveling.
He had the group doing physical training (in part disguised as outdoor games), flying, and shield training. Just for fun, Harry had the 25 students attack him with all they had the second day, just to test his shielding against multiple rapid hits.
Seeing Harry's shield holding easily, Remus and Sirius decided to add their stunners to the attack. Harry's shields flared, but held easily. Moody, drawn to the sight and sound of the contest, added his own stunners as well.
"Enough!" Hermione finally yelled. The hexes died off over a few seconds. Harry stood there, sweating but untouched. "That was tough!" Harry exclaimed.
Moody, Sirius, and Remus merely exchanged glances, knowing that despite the somewhat weak level of the students' stunners, the sheer volume of the attack should have broken down any shield within minutes.
Harry had easily last fifteen.
Thursday, August 26, 1993
"Mister Harry?" Dobby whispered. "Mister Harry?" The elf reluctantly gave Harry a slight poke on the shoulder.
Harry opened his eye and saw Dobby. He carefully disentangled himself from Hermione, grabbed a pair of clean boxers, and followed Dobby out of the bedroom at the Dumbledore cottage where the pair, along with Winky, spent their evenings alone.
"Elves have found one of the nasty ones for you, Mister Harry."
"The unrelated one." Harry nodded his understanding.
Back in bed, Hermione, who had stopped pretending to be asleep, clutched her pillow and shivered.
Fenrir Grayback was hunting. He hunted as a werewolf no matter what his form. If he did not taste the blood of an innocent at least every six weeks or so, the blood lust would be almost unbearable.
This was not, as many thought, because he was a werewolf. No, Grayback had embraced being a werewolf because it fit into his psychopathic mentality. Now, a little after 7:00, he was walking the streets of a Berlin suburb, whistling a little tune from Peer Gynt and looking for a small child to kidnap, terrorize to death, and cannibalize, for he had not killed since before the incident with the Master's portkey at the end of June, and he could not wait until the next nighttime full moon.
Grayback's whistle missed a note before the tune came smoothly back.
The werewolf knew someone was following him. Whomever it was must not realize how acute his senses were. 'Adult blood', he thought. While not as satisfying to his perverted tastes as a child's, it held other compensations.
Grayback wandered out of the neighborhood and into a small business district. He turned into a dead-end alley, as if preparing to apparate. His shadow, who must be under an invisibility clock or perfectly disillusioned Grayback reasoned, followed.
Grayback turned as quickly as his enhanced reflexes could manage, but his swipe totally missed. Grayback didn't even have time to be startled, to realize that whoever was attacking him was even faster than a werewolf, as a silver alloy knife sliced between two vertebrae in the middle of his back.
A cleaver then chopped off the werewolf's head in three blows and carefully wrapped it in a leak-proof sack. The entire attack, from Grayback's swing until the bagging of his head, took less than thirty seconds.
The disillusioned attacker then dropped some bio-hazard flyers around the body to warn off any Muggles, although the powerful Muggle-repelling spell on the mouth of the alley should keep them from coming in from the street, if not from any of the back doors. The powerful spell should also attract the German authorities to the spot.
With a faint 'pop', the alley went quiet.
The next day, Harry was called away from the rest period after lunch by a rather agitated Headmaster, flanked by Moody and Remus. "Is there a problem, Headmaster?" Harry asked cooly.
"Fenrir Grayback's body was found yesterday morning outside of Berlin," Dumbledore said, watching Harry closely. "Not his head, mind you, but his body."
"I would imagine someone took the head for the reward," Harry answered.
"Perhaps," Dumbledore said in turn. "An interesting point was that some flyers were left, which would have discouraged Muggles from getting too close to the body."
"Even though there were some amazingly powerful anti-Muggle wards cast nearby," Moody added.
"It's good to know there are responsible bounty hunters," Harry responded.
"Harry . . . no magic was used on Grayback," Remus said. "He wasn't stunned first, he was incapacitated by a silver alloy knife through the spine. To out-maneuver and stab Grayback wouldn't take more than human strength, given the sharpness of the knife, but it would take almost superhuman reflexes, and I don't think Grayback would have allowed any powerful werewolf near enough."
Harry merely looked at them. No one said anything for several seconds.
"Did you execute Grayback, Harry?" Moody finally asked.
That blunt statement froze the trio.
After a moment, Moody asked, "And Macnair, last December?"
"Planning on doing in anyone other than Lestrange and Riddle?" Moody then asked.
"I hope not."
The three looked at Harry, then Moody said, "Fair enough."
As Moody started to walk away, Remus said, "I'm sorry it came to this, Harry." Moody stopped to listen.
"Believe me," Harry answered, "so am I."
"I suppose I should just be glad someone killed that monster," Remus said.
"We're just sorry it had to be you," Moody added.
"Thanks." The two men walked away. Harry glared at the Headmaster. "Something to add, Headmaster?"
Dumbledore sighed. "No." Then he too walked away.
Saturday, August 28, 1993
"Are you alright, Neville?" Harry asked, sitting next to his friend out near the woods abutting the Dumbledore cottage. Neville had been almost as clumsy had the Neville Harry had known in his original time-stream the last two days.
Neville looked at Harry with a very frightened look on his face. "I overheard you talking with Professor Dumbledore, and Professors Moody and Lupin for that matter."
"I just don't understand, Harry," Neville said. "You killed two people?"
"I'm the Boy-Who-Lived," Harry said bitterly. "I'm partially responsible for Quirrell's death, too. Remember?" Neville winced at the reminder. "Do you know why Voldemort went after me? There was a Prophecy, saying a wizarding boy born under certain circumstances would have the power to defeat Voldemort. Two infants met the criteria -- you and me."
Neville looked like he was about to pass out.
"Would you have preferred it was you he went after first?" Harry asked bluntly. Neville quickly shook his head 'no'. "My life is cursed by that bloody Prophecy, Neville. Even if I win, all that means is that dark-lord wanna-bes will be after me for the rest of my life, and the wizarding world will kick me and spit at me because they're afraid of me, until there's some crises, when they'll demand to know why I didn't prevent it and ask how I'm going to solve it."
"Do you really think we would turn on you?" Neville asked.
"You probably know me better than anyone in our year, other than Hermione," Harry said. "Aren't you afraid of me?"
Neville looked down in shame. "You're right, I was." He looked at Harry straight in the eye. "Now I'm more afraid for you."
"Thank you, it's good to know you're still my friend," Harry said sincerely.
"So, who was this Grayback?" Neville asked. "I remember he was on that list on the wanted posters last winter."
"He was high on that list," Harry said. "He was a mass murderer of Muggle children. He was also a werewolf who periodically would maul and infect magical children."
"Like Professor Lupin?" Remus' condition was something of an open secret, barely tolerated by many because of his connections with the redeemed Sirius Black and young Harry Potter.
"Like Professor Lupin," Harry agreed. "He also worked with Voldemort. I don't know if he was a marked Death Eater or not."
"And the other person they mentioned?"
"Macnair? He was a marked Death Eater, working in the Ministry as a spy," Harry said.
Neville wanted to know how Harry know all this; how Harry had managed to get to Germany, kill a werewolf, and get back. Ron would have demanded answers. Neville thought about it, and decided he was better off not knowing. What he didn't know, he could never reveal accidentally.
Of course, what he also wanted to know was, "And the name on the top of that list? Why are you after her? I know it's not for the money."
Harry gave Neville a small smile. "Nev, who do you think put up all the reward money?"
Neville's eyes went wide. "You?" he whispered in shock.
Harry nodded. "As for Lestrange . . . she's truly evil. She's at the top of that list for several reasons. One is, she helped bring Voldemort back to a body. Believe me, you do NOT want those details."
"I'll believe you." Neville tried to ask the next question, but couldn't.
"Yes, another reason is because of what she did to your parents, and what she and the others did to you," Harry said.
"Thank you, Harry," Neville said. "If . . . if you learn she's dead, and it isn't announced. . . ."
"I'll let you know," Harry said.
"I wish I had the guts to kill her myself," Neville said.
"I hope you're never put in the position were you have to kill," Harry said. "I know, by the time I'm done training you, all of you will be able to not only defend yourselves, but strike back in force. And I promise you, I won't consider my job done until both Voldemort and Lestrange are dead."
Neville nodded, then asked, "What about Malfoy's father?"
"He was a Death Eater the first time around," Harry agreed. "He's backed off. If we find out he's gone back to Voldemort, he goes on the list."
"Is all this why you cast silencing charms at night at Hogwarts?" Neville asked.
"I do have nightmares," Harry admitted. They were nothing like the ones he had had in the original time stream, but they were often bad enough. Harry was very pleasantly surprised to have learned that he slept very peaceably in Hermione's arms.
"I'm sorry I invaded your privacy," Neville said.
"I'm glad we could work things out," Harry said. "We have, haven't we?"
"We have," Neville agreed.
That night, as Harry and Hermione cuddled together in bed, Harry finished telling Hermione about his conversation with Neville.
"Are you going to tell the Headmaster or Remus?" Hermione asked.
"I don't think I should," Harry mused. "If they told Alastor, he'd want to Obliviate Neville and even if he wasn't allowed to, he'd probably spook Nev by watching him too closely."
"Didn't you tell me some of Neville's problems came from being Obliviated?"
Harry made an affirmative noise and went on, "At the age of two, he was forced to watch his parents being driven insane under the Cruciatus, and was even hit very briefly by the spell itself by Bellatrix. Fudge was in charge of the clean-up detail, and tried to help Neville by Obliviating the memory, but Nev was just too young to be hit by a spell like that. He was very lucky that the damage was surface only. It took five years at Hogwarts the first time around for Neville shook off the effects as well as he has now after two."
"Three," Hermione corrected. "Two years at Hogwarts, but three years being friends with you. In both cases, you were at least the catalyst."
"Maybe," Harry said.
"Certainly," Hermione said, crawling on top of Harry. Harry was very glad he was wearing boxers and Hermione panties, or else they would have a difficult time not breaking their 'no actual sex' vows.
"Anyway, with Grayback gone, where do we stand?" Hermione asked.
"As far as I know, Voldemort only has Bellatrix and maybe two wild dementors on his side," Harry said, trying to look Hermione in the eye -- a difficult task, since she was only wearing panties -- and wondering why Hermione was asking him to review facts that she knew as well as he did.
"Then we have to worry, but not be obsessive," Hermione reminded him. She leaned over and lightly kissed Harry on the lips and then started to kiss her way down his neck to his chest. "Let me give you something else to obsess about."
By the end of August, everyone was quite happy with the progress of the Third years. Their defensive spell work was easily equal to the average Sixth year. Some, like Draco and Neville, were equal to Sixth years at the end of that year; others, like Parvati and Lavender, were still equal to most Sixth years at the start of that year.
Harry had tried to teach them the Patronus, but only Hermione (whose defensive work was that of the typical Seventh year) could even produce silvery sparks.
Harry was more leery of teaching them offensive magic. He remembered too well how uncritical he and his friends had been as Third years. Therefore, they only learned the offensive spells they would have usually learned over the next year.
The students least satisfied with that arrangement were Draco and especially Ron. Draco had at least picked up some interesting hexes from the older Slytherins, which he was only willing to teach other Slytherins and Harry. It was only Sirius' promise to teach them some more offense during the dueling club over the next year that quieted Ron down. Ron was terribly worried that Draco or Hermione, who had placed a strong second and third the year before, would be able to replace him at the club champion.
Harry was happy that Ron had seemed to have gotten over his jealously of Harry's superior abilities, at least for the moment.
On August 31, this band of twenty-six thirteen year olds descended on Diagon Alley en masse. They went from shop-to-shop as a group, including Ollivander's. Harry had insisted that anyone who didn't have a professionally-matched wand had to at least have theirs tested against one which was. Neville and Ron were not the only two who came away with new wands, purchased by Harry if the family would not cough up the Galleons needed.
Since the full moon would occur around 2:30 the next morning, Remus was not with the group. He was already at Hogwarts, getting ready to be dosed with the Wolfsbane Potion and locked in the Shrieking Shack with Sirius that night. Sirius and Tonks were therefore run-ragged, trying to keep up with their twenty-six charges, as Harry was having too much fun with them to try to keep them in line.
Meanwhile, deep under a mountain in the southern Alps, a very stunned Voldemort had just been given some very startling news.
"Are you certain, Bella?" he demanded for the third time.
"Yes, Master," Bellatrix answered. "I am two months pregnant, with your daughter."
Voldemort considered his parody of a body, and wondered what his spawn might be like, if it would resemble this body or some other.
"Do we keep it alive, Master, or should I abort it?" Bellatrix asked.
Voldemort had to think about that. After all, the girl would not be the blood heir of Slytherin, for this body of his was a mixture of his Muggle grandparents, the Order woman and Potter's blood, and Bellatrix' flesh. Still, that would make the girl relation to both himself and to Potter. And Potter might have a soft spot for any baby related to him, especially a girl.
That could be useful. If not, he had a very desperate plan to end Potter's charmed life.
"What problems do you anticipate in having the child, if any?" Voldemort demanded, unwilling to concede that he knew next to nothing about pregnancy.
Bellatrix only knew a bit more, and that only from casually observing her younger sister's pregnancy. "I will have to forego apparating and my dueling practice if you wish the child born healthy," she admitted. "Also, since I sacrificed my breasts to you, we will need Muggle formula or a wet-nurse."
Voldemort nodded. "It might be good to have a hostage to fortune, one that is as much Potter's blood relative as my own. If you do not give birth before hand, we will induce you to have it as close to the equinox in March as possible. Equinoxes and solstices are good times for magical children to be conceived or born."
"When the time comes, we will simply kidnap some nursing Muggle who has an extra abundant supply of milk. As long as she feeds and cares for our spawn, we will allow her to care and feed her own."
"A powerful inducement for the weak, Master," Bellatrix acknowledged.
"So it is," Voldemort answered, the wheels inside his devious brain already spinning out possible plots. "So it is."
Author's Notes: Grayback's actions echo the classic movie M.