A chance remark by Moody triggers a confrontation. It's not pretty. HT, for those into ships, but it's not that important to the story.
Disclaimer: Ain't mine, it's JKRs!
'The guests are met, the feast is set :
May'st hear the merry din.'
To say the least, Harry Potter came off of the summer before his sixth year not in the best of moods. He was quite ready to take care of business, finally.
Tonks had sneaked him some Auror training manuals, and she and Moody had conspired with Harry to put him through some intensive training. They had expanded Harry's room a bit, put in a self-cleaning toilet, and erected wards that suppressed the under-age magic detection on Harry's wand. They also set up a pair of apparition points, one inside of his room, the other in the back garden where they would be well hidden to allow them to come and go without annoying the Dursleys.
Harry's talent for magical fighting paid off, and at the end of the first month, Moody had sneaked off and gotten some books from the Black Library in the Black Mansion at Grimmauld Place that were decidedly not on the approved reading list. Together, they had worked through the materials, and all three found themselves far more capable than they had been. Harry started to wonder if perhaps the Ravenclaws didn't have the right of things with their idea that knowledge was its own reward.
Harry, Tonks, and Moody also had long talks about Harry's life to date, and as the other two learned things, they got progressively more and more upset with the Headmaster. Harry noticed this after the first week, and asked them why.
Moody growled. "Most adults, finding out they'd been manipulated this way, even for the so-called greater good, would called that meddling old geezer out on a duel. Though, truth be told, few would actually do it out of fear of Dumbledore's strength. He really is a most powerful wizard."
"You mean the Wizarding World still has a valid Code Duelo? I can call challenge on another Wizard for insults done to my person and my family?" Harry had to ask.
"Certainly, Shorty!" Tonks added her two bits. "In fact, you could easily call out Minister Fudge over his statements about you in the Daily Prophet, Snape over the crap he pulls in class - in fact, I'm surprised Snape hasn't been called out long ago - and you certainly could call out Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore for his actions. And I think you should! Enough is enough!
"Great idea, Tonks! Do you honestly think I'm strong enough to take out Professor Dumbledore?" Harry looked at Tonks like she was a bit out of her mind. This was reinforced by the fact that Tonks had decided to leave her hair its trademark pink, but had somehow made her scalp and skull transparent, making it look as though her brain was in fact exposed. "And do you have to try to gross me out that way? And is calling me Shorty a good way to get on my good side? I should call YOU out on a duel!"
Tonks leaped up. "As you wish, Foul Potter! The duel shall be tickling shielding spells, to the cry of Uncle!"
Harry leaped up as well. "I accept, Naughty Nymphadora!"
Tonks looked at him, annoyed. "What have I ..."
She was interrupted when Harry's tickling spell hit her, dropping her to the floor rolling as the spell played with her body. Finally, it faded enough for her to gasp out "UNCLE!!!"
When she finally recovered enough to return to the table they'd conjured in the middle of Harry's room, she muttered nasty comments about the unfairness of it all until Moody finally yelled his signature "Constant Vigilance!" at her. That got them all to laughing.
After the first week, it became apparent rapidly that Harry was neither getting enough to eat, nor enough sleep. Tonks and Moody took to bringing him food to handle the problem of eating; getting him enough sleep was more troublesome, until one evening when Harry had fallen asleep on his bed while Tonks and Moody discussed the day's activities. Tonks heard the first whimpers as nightmares took hold of his slumber, and she turned and walked over to the bed. As she touched him, the whimpering slowed, but as she released him, it returned. Giving Moody a look as if to ask permission, he tipped his head for a second, granting it. Tonks then laid down beside Harry in the bed, guarding him against the horrors welling up from the depths of his memories. Moody spent the night sitting in his chair, thinking, and considering.
After they awoke the next morning, to Harry's embarrassment to find Tonks in bed with him, they resumed their classes. When they were done for the day, Moody indicated to Tonks that he wanted to talk to her, so they both made excuses and left instead of doing their normal sitting around and chatting. Moody and Tonks both apparated to the Three Broomsticks, to have their discussion.
"Tonks? What do you think? If we don't do something, he won't survive the summer sane just from sleep deprivation."
"I know Moody, but you know the dangers of Dreamless Sleep Potion as well as I do."
"But you saw how much better he was this morning. I know it might be hard for you, Tonks, but I have to suggest it - I think you need to sleep with him every night."
Tonks snorted into her upside-down glass of antivodka. "Hard? Moody, it'd be the most torturous thing I've ever done. And the easiest. You don't know how much I want to - but that's the problem. I WANT to! I want to so badly, it hurts. But I'm scared, desperately scared of hurting him if I do." She looked a bit odd drinking from her upside-down glass, since the antivodka wanted to float away.
"Hurt him, Tonks? I doubt it. I know you love him. I know you love him a lot. I see how you look at him when he's not looking, and my magical eye lets me see how your body reacts to him. But I also know you're far more mature than you let most people realize. Just like he has, you've had maturity forced on you by your situation. However, he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, courtesy of that damn prophecy Dumbledore won't ever tell us about. I think Dumbledore actually told him the prophecy after they returned from the Ministry. I think that set off the explosion in Dumbledore's office that we all heard, and I think it's big. Very big. I worry it puts Harry into a position of kill or be killed, and I know what kind of affect something like that would have on the boy.
"I think you would be good for him. I think tomorrow, we're going to skip fighting training, and take him to the park for a picnic. We'll talk, and see what happens. Maybe he'll totally refuse to have you there. And, as long as it's for the right reasons, we'll find another solution. But if it's out of a misplaced sense of nobility - we'll have to knock some sense into his head.
"Besides, I know he cares about you, a lot. And if you can hold off a few weeks, it won't even be illegal if you decide together to go a bit further. And I think the complete escape from the world that that provides would probably be a good thing. Frankly, Tonks, I'm scared for him. He needs help, and he's not getting it."
"I know. I'll think about it. I guess I could do the sleeping-with - and I do mean just sleeping! - part. We'll see what happens in the long run."
They sat there a little while longer, lost in their thoughts, occasionally taking sips of their drinks. Finally, they went their separate ways, home.
The next morning, Tonks packed a picnic basket, and apparated to Harry's room. Harry looked askance at the basket, and Tonks told him to wait for Moody, that it was a surprise. When Moody arrived, Tonks and Moody apparated him outside into the back garden, and then they walked to the park. Moody quietly cast notice-me-not and muggle-repelling wards around them, as well as a privacy charm. They spent most of the day sitting, chatting, and generally having a good time. However, Harry finally asked the question he knew he had to.
"OK, you two. You've both had something you want to talk to me about all day. It's been a wonderful day, and I feel much better now. So why don't we get it out of the way, and see if we can have a good evening?"
Tonks looked at Moody, who looked back at her as though to tell her it was her decision. She decided. "Harry, the other night, when you fell asleep, it sounded like you were having a nightmare. Have you been having a lot of nightmares?"
"Most nights, yes, Tonks, every night since the Ministry. Well, except for that one night." He blushed, turning from her.
"That's about what Moody and I figured. It's wearing you out. You obviously haven't had enough sleep for quite some time, and it sounds like you're getting down to nearly none at this point. That night, we heard your nightmare start, and as soon as I touched you, you settled down. As soon as I released you, the nightmare resumed - so I laid down beside you, and fell asleep myself. If you're willing, I'll come and sleep with you, like that, every night, so you can get the rest you need."
"No! I mean... No, that's not necessary. I'm getting enough sleep."
"No, Harry, you're not. Not at all. We could easily see how much better you did the next day, and the day after, you went back down again. We need you to get better. Want to try another reason?"
"You know I'm who Voldemort is going for. Why risk staying longer than you have to? It's too risky for you to spend extra time around me!"
"Nope," Tonks said, "That won't work either. The blood wards, while mostly being here to protect you, should protect me too. I'm safer here than at my flat. Want to try again? Third time's the charm, you know."
"Why would you want to stay with me? I'm just ..." He broke down at this, crying.
"You are Harry James Potter, one of the best men I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. You are one of the most powerful wizards I've ever heard of. You are friendly, caring, and amazingly responsible. Too responsible, perhaps. But you need some help, and I'd like to help you. No matter what, I'll always be here, to help you. So please let me help you sleep. And I promise, no funny stuff in bed."
He looked at her, his sobs having stilled. He looked at her. "Is that a threat?" She giggled at that. "No, it's just an offer."
"OK. You win. You can stay with me. You're both right; I could feel the difference that day. I just hope you don't end up hurt, Tonks."
"If I do, I know it won't be your fault. In fact, I know it'll probably be because you've jumped in front of me and gotten yourself badly hurt. You really need to work on that saving people thing, you know."
With that settled, though it took a bit to get over the strain, they did go back to talking, and having a bit more to eat and drink from the supplies in the picnic basket. Eventually, they went back to Harry's place, where they talked some more. Finally, Moody left, leaving just Harry and Tonks. Harry decided to hide himself under his invisibility cloak to change into his pajamas, the he got into bed, and offered it to Tonks for her use. She took it, and quickly did the same, pulling her pajamas from a small bag Moody had dropped off earlier. She crawled in beside Harry, keeping a sheet between them, because she knew Harry would feel much more comfortable that way.
The summer passed in much this way, the Dursleys scared to bother Harry because of the threats the Order had made when he was picked up from King's Cross Station. Harry did much better when he was actually getting the sleep he needed, and he progressed rapidly.
Finally, the day to return to Hogwarts came, and Tonks slipped out early so that she could come with the rest of the party to pick up Harry and take him to Platform 9 3/4ths. The trip was uneventful; Harry got back together with Ron and Hermione in a compartment as usual. This year, they were joined by Ginny, Luna, and Neville. Everyone commented on how good Harry was looking - they figured he had a much better summer than usual, and they were very glad he had.
They got to the grounds of Hogwarts, and Harry and the rest went in and took their usual seats at the Gryffindor table. Harry felt a little nervous, but he knew what he was going to do. He was going to give Dumbledore the ass-kicking he deserved. Harry sat through the Sorting, through Dumbledore's usual speech regarding the off-limits status of the Forbidden Forest, and the updating of Finch's list of verboten items to include the latest "New Items" flyer issued by Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes - a laugh ran around the house tables when the Headmaster mentioned that he doubted anyone needed to read the copy posted on Finch's door, as most everyone already had a copy, and anyone who didn't knew who to get them from. With this comment, Ron turned a bit red, and Ginny gave a knowing look to everyone, with a twinkle in her eyes much resembling the one in Dumbledore's.
While Dumbledore nattered on, Harry remembered the first summer he'd spent at the Dursley's where he actually got the rest he needed to face what was to come. The camaraderie with Tonks and Moody, and the chance to sleep well, unencumbered by nightmares and visions impressed on him by Voldemort, left him in much better shape than he had ever been, psychologically. The training had left him in much better shape physically. Harry had even been able to unbend enough that he and Tonks had played around some with each other - nothing over the line, but snogging, groping, and gentle teasing had done a lot to make Harry more comfortable with his body. And that had translated into even better performance in his training.
Dumbledore finished his speech, and Harry knew the time had come. He reached deep into his Gryffindor core, and stood up. "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, as Head of the Potter Family, I, Harry James Potter, Last of the Line, challenge you for your manipulations of my circumstances, your risks to my blood line, and your competence in managing this war, and this school, risking not only my life, but the lives of my friends and fellow students. I challenge you to a duel, to the point of unconsciousness. You will turn over management of this school to Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, call for an election of a new Head for the Order, and confine yourself to an advisory role, while admitting that you do not necessarily know best. If Headmistress McGonagall desires, you may be allowed to stay as a regular teacher, and even as Head of a House, but no more."
"Harry! There's no need for this!"
Harry interrupted. "As the Challenged, Sir, you have no call to decide need or not for this. In my first year, you allowed a teacher possessed by the spirit of Lord Voldemort to teach, while trying to protect a valuable resource by means of rather elementary traps that were defeated by three first-year students. my second, you hired a defense teacher who was a complete fraud, having solely skill as an obliviator. My third year, the defense instructor was excellent, but you failed both to keep me properly informed of the dangers you believed existed from Sirius Black, as well as the circumstances of my relationship to him. My fourth, another fraud of a defense teacher, this one an active Death-Eater using polyjuice, of all things, to maintain his disguise. You also allowed me, even required me, to participate in an incredibly risky competition, and put no serious effort into finding a way out of it for me. Nor was any serious investigation put into finding out how I was entered in the first place. To your credit, you did believe me when I returned with Cedric Diggory's body, and the news of Voldemort's return, but I am forced to wonder if that was because it was something you expected, or wanted to occur.
"However, it was my fifth year in which you crossed so far over the line, that I find myself otherwise beyond relief. It is only the fact that your knowledge will be so critical to the fight against Voldemort that my Challenge is not To The Death. In my fifth year, you suddenly abandoned me, after encouraging me so long to lean on you, and your behavior caused others to likewise abandon and ignore my pleas for assistance. Your assignment of Professor Snape to teach me Occlumency was so obviously wrong, and apparent from the very first lesson, but you again refused to look for alternatives, for reasons I can only guess at. Further is your insistence that I trust Professor Snape with my life, simply on your say-so, despite my experiences with him. In fact, not just I suffered, but all of the students suffered due to your abandonment of them to the not-so-tender mercies of Dolores Umbridge, and her Blood Quill."
"Harry! Surely we can discuss this in my office, and not bother these young people who need their rest!"
"No, Sir, I do not trust you should I find myself isolated in your office. These students are my friends, and my witnesses to the ignominy you have committed. I repeat: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, I Challenge you to a duel to unconciousness. I present my Seconds..." With this, Tonks removed the invisibility cloak she had borrowed from Harry, and Moody removed his own disillusionment spell. "On my right, Auror Nymphadora Tonks, on my left, the real Chief Auror Emeritus Alastor Moody."
"Enough, Sir. Do you accept my Challenge, or Forfeit? Yes or No, Sir?"
"Very well, Harry. I accept." Dumbledore's voice was heavy with regret. He felt a quick defeat would at least give Harry pause to consider that perhaps he hadn't really done so badly by Harry, and that his mistakes were perfectly acceptable.
"Do you wish Seconds, Sir?" Harry asked, formally.
"No, I don't think they will be necessary." Dumbledore waved his hand, and the tables cleared of the remains of the meal, and the House tables moved somewhat to the side, to provide more room for the dueling circle.
Harry looked behind him. "My Seconds, if you would erect the shieldings for the Witnesses?" Tonks and Moody went around the room, layering several layers of protective spells, alternating between them the casting of the layers of shielding. They then took up stations across from each other, at right angles to the line between the combatants.
"Professor Flitwick, if you would care to signal the start of our duel?" Dumbledore asked.
"Certainly, Professor Dumbledore. At my signal of Fight!, the two of you will commence fighting until the time comes when one of you hears my monitoring spell call Cease Fire!, which will only occur when it senses true unconciousness, and not a tactic of playing dead. Wizards, please step to your appointed spots. Three. Two. One. Fight!"
With that, the onlookers were amazed to see a wave of light appear around Harry, as he seemed to cast a half-dozen luridly colored spells in an instant. A split-second later, another wave of spells arose from another spot, as Harry ducked, dived, and rolled away from where he'd launched the first round.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore, seeing a barrage of spells far more intense than he'd dreamed possible from Harry, erected a general-purpose shield, then caught the second wave out of the corner of his eye and instantly put a second shield up for those. The echos of his cries of PROTEGO! bounced off the wall. He snapped off a quick shot of the most powerful stunner he knew of, towards where he had just seen Harry's spells coming from.
However, Harry was no longer there, barely having paused in his rolls long enough to cast the spells, and one other surprise. Harry's momentum carried him around further, nearly behind Dumbledore, while his first two storms of mystic energy rang against the Headmaster's shields. Harry fired another quick storm of immense power against the wizened old coot in clashing purple and electric blue robes, with slashes of sherbert orange running through the pattern.
In a room far away, a monster with red slit-pupilled eyes realized what he was seeing through his link with Harry Potter. He knew that if he applied enough power, he could actual apparate into Hogwarts through the wards, though he knew he didn't have near enough power to bring any of his Death-Eaters with him. But with his two most powerful enemies draining their magic away at an astonishing rate, he expected that he could easily finish off the loser, as well as the horribly weaked winner. With a crack, not bothering to use any of his power to eliminate the distinctive sound, he disappeared from his headquarters.
Harry's nerves were stretched to their maximum, instantly reactive. He heard the first whispers of something beside him, and he instantly reached out with his off hand, wandlessly casting a Stupify spell towards whatever was coming from that way. He heard a thud, while in the middle of casting his third fury of magic against his primary opponent. A quick glance showed something laying on the floor, seemingly solidly out of it, so he gave it no more thought until it made another sound.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore was still reacting to Harry's onslaught. He raised yet another shield, but missed the sight of the stunner he'd launched earlier reflecting from a shield that Harry had left behind at his second location. As the hailstorm of eldritch energies tore at his newest shield, the stunner slipped by the edge of it, to catch and stop him in his tracks. He fell to the floor, instantly knocked out, as the last of the spells Harry had launched passed over him when the shield buckled from his loss of concentration.
Harry walked over, looked at Dumbledore, and simply frowned, sorry for what he had had to do. "I presume I will be getting detention for this, Headmistress McGonagall?" He asked wryly.
He was surprised to hear nobody around him saying anything - just the last faint echos of "Cease Fire" off of the walls. He turned, to see what had everyone spellbound - and his wand flashed back into his hand! Behind him was the stunned body of Voldemort, laid out on the floor. "Avad...!" He started to cast the killing curse, but realized that that might not be the best solution at this point - it might simply make him a spirit once more. However, trying to bottle him up didn't seem too bright, either - it seemed very likely that Death Eaters would try to rescue him.
He looked up further, to see Malfoy edging towards the doors. "Colloportus!" "No trying to go get help for your ex-master, Malfoy. Everyone's going to stay right here until we figure out how to dispose of him properly."
"Ennervate!" Harry was surprised to see that Dumbledore didn't awaken immediately. "Harry, you'll need to cast it at least three times to have any effect. That was a very powerful spell he used there!" Moody advised him from the sidelines. Tonks suggested with her eyes lowering the protective shields around the area, but Moody shook his head at her.
Dumbledore stirred, then slowly woke up. "I'm not certain how, Lord Potter, but I acknowledge my loss. I..."
Harry interrupted. "I accept, Professor, but we've got a very important problem right now, so further ceremony can be called accepted. We seem to have had a visitor to our little duel, and I'm not sure how I did it, but... We now have one Tom Marvolo Riddle as our prisoner."
Dumbledore could not have looked more shocked. "Please repeat that, slowly, Harry? I would swear you said Voldemort is our prisoner?"
"That's right, Professor. I almost hit him with the Killing Curse before waking you, but I then worried about whether he might take on a wraith form again. So, I decided to wake you and see if you have any advice."
"Now, Harry, since we have him, I'm sure we don't have to kill him. We will get the Ministry..."
"Sir, you are once more forgetting your place. You have lost my Challenge. You may advise - you do not order. I understand you advise calling in the Ministry, and turning him over to them for trial.
"However, Sir, I'm not willing to live with him getting lose once more on my conscience. I know that I must kill him - after all, that's what the Prophecy says. And I know I will have his death on my conscience to the day I die. However, if he escapes, there will likely be thousands more deaths on my - and on your - conscience. No Sir, turning him over to the Ministry, while technically an option, is not a viable one. Let's try again.
"Do we have any clue how he survived the backlash of the Killing Curse to start with?"
"Actually, Harry, I've long suspected that he must have created Horcruxes - an ancient and horrible dark magic, very seldom even discussed. It involves ripping ones soul into pieces, and requires a murder for each piece made. The pieces of the souls are then stored in items, and as long as those items are kept safe, his soul can never be banished from this world."
"And you never told anyone about this - why?"
"This was merely speculation on my part. At least, until the incident in the Chamber of Secrets. Then my suspicions weren't completely confirmed, but they became much more likely with the way the Diary acted."
"Well, I believe that we don't really need to worry about a trial, since he has confessed - even gloated - about his crimes on numerous occasions. Now, Professor Dumbledore - could you perhaps use Legilimency on him while he's in this state to read his mind and find out what and where his horcruxes are?"
"Do you have a good reason, aside from squeamishness about not asking his permission, to not do it? Or that it won't work? Or is there someone else powerful enough that we can trust - don't even think about saying Professor Snape."
"I'll do it, Harry. /Legilimens/." Dumbledore spent about 30 minutes exploring the depths of Voldemort's mind. "The things Tom knows about Death. He knows more than anyone alive does, certainly. I've learned a hundred times as much as I knew before, and I haven't learned a hundredth of what he knows. But you're right, Harry. There's too much risk if we don't stop him now. /Comify!/" Dumbledore sounded as though he had been crying for days, as though he'd not slept in that time. Each word made everyone listening feel the burdens he'd carried for 60 years.
"I've confirmed it. He made a total of 6 Horcruxes, with himself as the 7th for magical power. The diary is indeed one, and he did not know where it was, nor that it had been destroyed. The others are a ring from his Father, a locket, from his mother, that was Salazar Slytherin's, a pair of cups that belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, a dagger that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw, a gauntlet that Godric Gryffindor once wore in battle, and finally, his snake, Nagini.
"We'll have to collect them all, and destroy them, preferably at the same time we destroy him. Once we do, we'll be done with him forever."
"Thanks, Professor Dumbledore. Now, if Tonks and Moody will come over here, and let you confirm that they are who they are, we'll send them out to round up a team to go find the rest of the horcruxes, and bring them in for destruction. Dragonflame is magical, isn't it, Professor? Could we bring them, along with the horcruxes, out to the front field, and have Charlie bring in say three Dragons to burn them together? We could also use Bill's skills at curse-breaking... Tonks & Moody to guard and collect, and Remus would probably be an asset as well. Should we put a healer on the team, Sir, or do you think these four will be enough?"
"I think four people on the team will be enough. We can give them emergency portkeys set for the Hospital Wing."
Dumbledore verified the identity of Tonks and Moody to his satisfaction, then they went and picked up Bill and Remus. Bringing them back to the castle, Dumbledore verified them as well. Dumbledore then used his Legilimency to show them both the items involved, and their locations, and any traps he learned about from Voldemort's mind.
Within a week they returned, bringing back with them the items they had found. While they were gone, nobody was able to leave the Hogwarts grounds, and owls were not allowed to fly. Instead, a short note was sent to all parents explaining that there was a magical ailment going around that apparently could even be spread by contact with messages.
Bill spoke up. "There's a problem here, Harry. This locket we found where the locket was supposed to be, doesn't actually look like the one the Headmaster showed us in his memories. Harry took the locket, and examined it. Bill looked it over as well, and found a small catch that opened it. Inside was a message taunting Voldemort. Discussing the matter, Harry asked Hermione if she could identify the mysterious R.A.B. who signed the note.
Hermione spent all night searching books almost at random, until Harry mentioned something about it likely being a Death Eater, and therefore a pureblood, and asked her which pureblood families started with B. A light lit up in Hermione's eyes. "Well, there are the Boneses, the Blacks, and the Bells that I can think of immediately, but I'm sure there are others. Let's see if we can find family trees and look them over real quick!
Ginny overheard their conversation, and mentioned that both the Bells and the Boneses were well known as families on the side of Light, but didn't Sirius have a brother named Regulus, who joined Voldemort, but was later killed after he tried to turn away from him?
This moved the Black Family tree up to the top of the list, and Dumbledore spoke up. "Yes, indeed - Regulus Atillius Black. I think you are likely right, Miss Weasley. Now, where would Regulus have hidden the locket?"
Once more, Ginny piped up. "Didn't we find a locket something like that in the Black Mansion while we were cleaning up? Anyone know what we did with it?"
Harry looked a bit worried. "I think we put it in the pile of jewelry to be sold."
Now it was Lupin's turn to contribute. "No, I felt something dark about it, so I moved it to the dangerous pile. And we took those to... the Headmaster's office! Phew! I was getting scared there!"
Everyone headed out for the Headmistress's office. When they got there, to everyone but Dumbledore's amusement, he forgot that it was no longer his office, and was surprised that his password no longer worked. However, the Headmistress had come up with them, and she let them in. They immediately went and retrieved the locket from the shelf where that stuff had been stored.
"Now that everything is ready, Mr. Potter, perhaps we should invite some witnesses from the Ministry to see what happens and reassure everyone that in fact, Voldemort is finally gone for good this time. Since I doubt there will be even ashes left after you have three dragons burning him up."
"Thank you for the suggestion, Headmistress. I like it very much. Perhaps we'll make them wait, as well, for an hour to verify that it isn't polyjuice. We'll also hold their wands, too. I might let Madame Bones and Madam Pomfrey examine the body to make sure there are no glamours or other tricks. We'll send them the message this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, in the bright sunrise, we'll bring about our own day of a new day for the Wizarding Community." Harry sat back, pensive about the end of his major role in life. Sure, there would be Death Eaters trying to take over Voldemort's power, but they wouldn't. Most of the highest in his ranks had been captured back in the spring, at the Ministry of Magic; the rest would be relatively easy to catch. Harry wasn't sure what he would do after this - the job of Auror didn't really sound all that attractive, after the battle at the Ministry. Maybe he would get lucky and get drafted for professional Quidditch. Now that sounded like fun!
Maybe he would marry Tonks, he mused. After sleeping - and only sleeping - with him for more than two months, she certainly knew him better than almost anyone else. In some ways, she knew him better than Ron and Hermione, though he knew that couple would always know him in a special way as well. But Tonks would be his, and his alone.
When everyone finished talking, they noticed Harry had fallen asleep on the couch, and nobody had the heart to wake him up. Tonks simply took charge, and levitating him, floated him downstairs to one of the guest rooms where he could sleep through the night. Meanwhile, Headmistress McGonagall had taken care of writing notification of the next day's events, and owling them to the appropriate parties.
The morning broke bright and early, and as soon as Harry was awake and dressed, he was summoned to the front gates, there to greet at the edge of the wards those dignitaries that had been invited to witness the final death of Tom Marvolo Riddle. Minister Fudge, a half-dozen members of his cabinet, Director Bones of the DMLE, a representative from the Department of Mysteries, and one reporter and photographer team from the Daily Prophet were allowed through. Voldemort's body had been brought outside, and laid on a bier, for all to see. The students of Hogwarts were all gathered around, pressing against the shield keeping them at a distance, looking at him in fear and wonder. Harry looked up over the Forbidden Forest, to see the last, and most necessary guests of this event winging their way to the site.
Harry tapped his wand to his throat. "Sonorus!" If everyone would back up a little bit, and give the dragons room to land?" Everyone looked up in surprise, and backed away hurriedly! Harry was surprised to see three Chinese Fireballs swoop, backwing, and touch down in perfect sync, in perfect formation. It was an incredible display of dragon handling. Camera flashes came both from the Daily Prophet team, and good old Colin, who could be counted on to document any event.
Someone waved at Harry from the back of one of the dragons, and then hopped down from his seat behind the rider. He recognized the approaching figure as Charlie as he got closer.
"When you said you needed three of our hottest dragons to burn something really dangerous, we happened to have these three Fireballs and their handlers visiting. We asked them to bring them, since the Fireballs are much hotter than the Hungarian Horntails we normally take care of."
"Thanks, Charlie! That's a great idea. All that's left for me to do is to put these items on Voldemort's side, and then I'll ask that you have all three dragons burn just as hot and long as they can. Be sure to stay back a safe distance - Dumbledore, your brother Bill, and I will be casting some spells to help destroy the items."
"No worries, mate. We'll get this done, and everyone can hold a party this afternoon celebrating the final defeat of this git!"
From the roar behind them, it seemed much of the crowd had heard Charlie's suggestion, and found it a very good one. Each of the spellcasters took up a position beside the shoulder of one of the dragons, and together they cast a shield outside of the ring, to try to protect the crowd. Everyone heard Charlie count down, and as soon as he yelled "Flame!", three enormous gouts of blue-hot fire belched forth from the dragons. As one, the three spellcasters also repeatedly sent brilliantly colored bolts of spell-energy into the maelstrom of hellfire at the focus of attention. Finally, after what seemed hours, but could only have been a minute or two, at most, the flames of the dragons winked out, and the spellcasters stopped firing.
For an instant, it seemed nothing had happened. But then a pinhole streaming bright light was seen for a split second, then everyone's vision was washed out in an intense burst of white light. When they recovered their vision, there was nothing left of the bier, except for 4 small misshapen lumps of metal, which could just barely be made out to be a well-melted badger, snake, raven, and griffin.
It was done.
Everyone started cheering, screaming loudly. The faculty learned how thoroughly Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes had penetrated Hogwarts, as from somewhere, stockpiles of their fireworks were pulled out, and an unbelievable display was launched - far more fireworks than anyone had dreamed the Weasley's had even manufactured, much less that the students could have smuggled in and stored. People were filing past the smoking crater, to see for themselves the final resting place of a poor abused orphan who took his horrors out on the world.
Harry sneaked up to Headmistress McGonagall. "I know you'll have to give me detention when I get back, but I'm grabbing Tonks and disappearing for a week or two before they start dragging me off to ceremonies to give speeches and such. I'll keep Ron and Hermione advised of where I am, so that you can honestly tell them you don't know where I am, and can't get ahold of me. Thanks!"
Grabbing Tonks' arm on the way by, he dragged her over to a quiet spot. "Tonks, I'm over 16 now, I'm done with this damn prophecy, and I'd like nothing more than to find some muggle beach where nobody will have any idea who I am, and snog for a week or two. Or even, if you're willing, shag for those two weeks, though you'll have to show me where tab A and slot B are."
Tonks laughed, and agreed whole-heartedly to his idea. Together, they got Ron and Hermione to one side, and told them of their plans. Ron was amazed that Hermione had no problems, even with the shagging part of the plans, nor even with the idea of skipping a week or two of classes. Hermione promised to send Hedwig to them first thing, so that they could keep in touch.
Harry and Tonks walked hand in hand out to just past the front gates, just past the wards, and then Tonks apparated the pair of them to Gringotts, to pick up some money for their trip. Their next stop was a muggle shopping center just outside of the Leaky Cauldron, where they picked up some clothes for Harry that fit, and then they went to Tonk's flat, where she packed some of her stuff.
Harry let her pick their destination. He laughed when he found himself on the beach on the French Riviera. They went and found a hotel room to stay in for a couple of weeks, and then hit the beach. Tonks got in plenty of teasing about the stares Harry was giving other women who weren't wearing tops. Of course, Tonks herself wasn't wearing a top, either, so she came in for her share of stares as well.
Tonks cast a notice-me-not spell on herself, then entertained herself by morphing her breasts into various shapes, and having Harry identify the woman whose breasts she was wearing. She took great pleasure in how embarrassed he got, but after a while, he got over it, and she let the game drop.
That night, they spent the night sleeping in the same bed once more. Over the next week, they would continue the pattern of spending the day on the beach for a while, or wandering around the town seeing the sights, and window-shopping, though they did end up getting a couple of small items for souvenirs for all of their friends. At night, they went dancing a few times, ate at a different restaurant every night, and in general had a good time.
And, as time progressed, and they became more comfortable with each other, a little touching, snogging, and groping took place, until one night, it just seemed normal for them to do a bit of shagging. The revelation of that kind of fun turned a short session into a day-long romp, by the end of which both were fairly sore and very exhausted.
When Harry woke up the next morning, it was to an experience they had not gotten around to the day before, involving Tonks giving him a very special kiss. The pleasure was so intense, that when she was done, he collapsed and passed out for a few minutes once more. Finally getting up, to see Tonks cooking breakfast without bothering to dress, he went over, and lifted her sea-green hair to kiss her on the nape of her neck. He wished her a good morning, then went on to take his morning shower. He was only a bit surprised when she slipped into the shower with him, explaining that she had waited to take her morning shower with him. They entertained each other by very carefully ensuring their partner was very clean. All over.
By the end of the second week, three days before they were to return, Harry had something he wanted to talk to Tonks about.
Harry bit his lip, worried. "I know I'm pretty young, but in a few years, that won't really matter. At least not as much. And I know I'm not that much to look at - I'm not really sure why you've been willing to sleep with me. But, maybe, if you haven't found someone more right for you, after I graduate from Hogwarts... Well, I know you'd never want to marry me, but do you think we could live together, at least for a while?"
"Harry, I'd drag you down to the French Ministry right now, and marry you in a heartbeat, and it would be perfectly legal. But our friends, and especially Ron and Hermione, would never forgive us for not letting them share in our joy! How about Christmas?"
"What about Christmas?"
"To get married, loverboy! You proposed, I'm not about to let you get away! That'll give you three months to get cold feet, though I plan to keep them warm at night. I'll take a flat in Hogsmeade until the wedding, then if Headmistress McGonagall can't find us married student's quarters in the Castle, we can visit back and forth as often as possible, until you graduate."
"OK, Tonks, if you really think you want to marry me!" Tonks was amazed to see Harry crying at the idea that someone could love him that much. She made a vow to herself that she would never give him cause to doubt her. The next thought through her mind was "Damn, that sounds mature!" Of course, this meant pillow war! They spent the next four hours in a massive pillow fight, using repairing and mending spells every time one of the pillows started to fall apart. When they went to sleep that night, they simply held each other, Harry cuddling up against Tonks like a small child.
They both awoke the next morning before any shops were open, so they spent an hour or two writing letters. The one to Hermione was the only one that mentioned their upcoming nuptials, but that tidbit of knowledge was accompanied by dire threats should anyone else find out about it from her. The letter to Headmistress McGonagall asked her, in confidence, about school policies regarding married students. All of the letters, most of them to the Ministry Crew, included tales of their time at the French Riviera, as well as warnings that should any kind of party be arranged, there would be hell to pay.
They were amused a few hours later, when McGonagall wrote back that since Auror Kingsley was on loan from the Ministry as DADA professor that year, would Tonks be willing to take that position instead, and take quarters in Hogwarts? As they weren't married yet, she couldn't allow Harry to sleep in the same rooms, but that it was almost certainly a better deal than having her best student sneaking off to Hogsmeade every time someone turned around. She just asked that they exhibit some decorum, even once they were married. They both got a laugh out of the pleading tone the Headmistress had put into that last request.
Now, it could not properly be said that they lived happily ever after. Harry spent most of his time doing independent research into many fields of magic and working with the Weasley twins to develop both pranks for their shop, and tools to help Aurors in their jobs. Eventually, Harry was asked to come back to Hogwarts to teach. Tonks, on the other hand, went back to field Auror status after Harry graduated, and this was no cushy job. With many Death Eaters still running around, she ended up wounded on a regular basis. There were a couple of times when Harry spent weeks by her side as she recovered from injuries that the Healers had given her less than a 10% chance to survive. But survive she did, and eventually she joined Harry on the faculty at Hogwarts.
After leaving active duty, she eventually presented Harry with 5 children, the first being a set of triplet girls who very early showed signs of being metamorphmagi. As the children grew up and reached the age where they would go to school, Harry and Tonks decided to send them to Beauxbatons, to avoid any possibility of favoritism.
Eventually, McGonagall elected to step down from running Hogwarts, and the Board of Governors asked Harry to take the position of Headmaster. After long discussions, Harry agreed, on the condition that Tonks would be recognized as Headmistress at the same time. One the arguments about tradition settled down, most of the Board members saw the possibilities, and a debate started about whether or not to require a married couple for the position always. Nobody was in a hurry to settle it, though, nor was it settled for quite a long time, because Harry & Tonks ended up serving as the Heads of Hogwarts for a very long time indeed.
Note 1: sneaked vs. snuck - snuck sounds much more natural to me, more correct, but my spell-checker barfed on it. So, off I go to the wide world of Google, where I learn that snuck is basically an Americanism that is rapidly spreading, and may even be taking over, but that sneaked is in fact the more correct term. Considering the British thing for correctness, I went with sneaked.
Note 2: There's got to be more to drink in the Wizarding World than butterbear, pumpkin juice, and firewhiskey!
Note 3: As you can see, there was no lemons or limes harmed in the making of this story - there's not even an extra scene buried somewhere on my hard drive. Tempting as it is to write a Harry/Tonks PWoP story, that's just not where this story is going. Maybe I'll get a good plot-bunny for one one of these days. Speaking of - is sex with an animagus in their alternate form actually bestiality?
Note 4: Why the hell did I pick Tonks & Moody as the two here? Where did Remus run off to? I have No clue.
Note 5: Ah, found Remus, for now. Maybe he had a really bad couple of months with his change.
Note 6: I'm probably going to have to look for a beta to help encourage me to flesh things out. This looks like it's going to end up between 6500 and 7000 words, and parts feel rushed as I look over them. Perhaps I should plot and plan out a bit more - who knows. We'll see what the futureholds.
Note 7: 8200 words, but some of that is author's notes. But that seems like a good place to stop. I do suspect that in the future, I'll write a version 2.0 of this story, but for now, it is done.
Note 8: I'm not allergic to reviews. Thanks.