A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, Harry and friends face...
Monday, August 18, 1997
Sabrina Spellman walked down from the once pristine parlor of #4 Privet Drive and into the cellar. A group there was watching a battle that she could barely understand. She knew that Harry had engaged Voldemort in a battle of mental magic. Supported by her mother, Luna, and Master J and another native Australian, Harry was trying to pin down the Dark Lord.
The battle had been going on for over twenty minutes, which was longer than any of the experts had predicted possible. Still, from the slight expressions on the astral warriors' faces, things weren't going badly, although it did mean that Voldemort would not be destroyed this way. Sabrina decided not to resume her position sitting next to Ginny Weasley yet, and instead let her attention and curiosity roam as she stayed standing.
She could hear the people in the rest of the house. There were thirty-six aurors and hit-wizards, and fifteen members of the Hidden. There were also fifteen people who would act as medics. Even though they were trying to keep fairly quiet, fifty-one warriors and fifteen medics on the upper two floors could make a lot of noise just murmuring, shuffling their feet, and taking turns in the bathrooms.
She turned her attention to the cellar. Granger and Tom Lawrence were keeping a close watch on the astral warriors. They seemed to know what they were doing, although under other circumstances seeing Granger with the plastic squirt bottle in her hand, looming over her mother and the others, would have amused Tabitha a great deal.
Her father, Master Cadfael, Lloyd Trowbridge, and Tudor Myrddin were sitting on the stairs, waiting to relay any orders to the warriors upstairs. Ron and Neville were standing between the stairs and Granger. Off in a far corner stood a very disturbing-looking man called Mad-Eye Moody, as well as the very imposing Albus Dumbledore. Ron's brother Percy was almost hiding in the shadows, behind stacks of boxes merely labeled 'Dudley's'.
Master J suddenly made a movement, drawing all eyes to him. He opened his eyes and held out his hand. Dumbledore handed him a large sack, as the other astral explorers other than Harry came back as well.
Master J said a spell and then held out the sack, saying, "Everyone take a marble. You all know which wave you are to enter with. Right?"
Everyone, even Dumbledore, nodded their agreement as they took one. Master J handed the sack to Sabrina's father, who pocketed his own marble and then went up the stairs after Master J had whispered a few sentences to him.
Tudor called after him, "The first wave leaves in six minutes!"
"Right!" Tudor waved his wand, and four hour glasses appeared, representing each wave. Sabrina was sure similar hour glasses appeared on the other floors.
"If anyone needs to use a toilet, get in line now," Tom Lawrence said. Neville nodded, and he and Luna left the cellar as well.
Sabrina looked at the hour glasses. She knew she was leaving in the final wave. The second wave would leave three minutes after the first, and would include Harry and Ron. The third group would leave seven minutes after the first, and the fourth would leave fifteen minutes after the first.
"We managed to subdue Voldemort," Master J stated. "We had of course hoped we could destroy him, but his defenses were too strong. He should be unconscious for some time, however. As best we could tell, the dementors are nearby, and there are just three Death Eaters. However, there are a number of the Muggles which were Kissed by the dementors. They are likely to be under Voldemort's control. Should Voldemort recover before the first wave arrives, they will have to subdue them. If he doesn't, they will be destroyed quickly."
"So we will have to deal with the dementors, and may have to deal with Voldemort and perhaps these mindless zombies?" Dumbledore asked.
"Exactly. Still, if those are all we are dealing with, we should have the numbers to deal with everything with minimum dangers."
"Let us hope," Dumbledore said.
Luna came back down the stairs just as Harry came partially out of his trance (he was still keeping Voldemort from completely waking up). Harry's community started to gather around him.
Harry and most of the community would be leaving with the second wave. Despite her protests, Granger would be leaving with Sabrina and Ginny in the final wave. As the center, she would actually function better outside of the danger zone. It had taken a fair amount of arguing to get Granger, Ginny, and Sabrina permission to go at all. Harry had finally had to intervene on their behalf.
Just before the first group portkeyed out, Harry and Hermione initiated all the mental and magical links.
The first group portkeyed out.
The group gathered even more closely around Harry, and embraced. Sabrina could feel the strands of power, and the feelings of love and affection, between them. Some strands, like those from Percy to most of the group, were comparatively weak (except to Ron and Ginny). Some were immensely powerful, such as those between Harry and Luna, and her mother for her.
Sabrina tested the connections, and was surprised at how strong nearly all of them were. Except for those to her mother and to Ron, hers were generally the weakest. Then she touched one of amazing potential.
It was Harry.
It was a Harry that she had never sensed before.
The connections the previous January had been strong, but had grown even stronger over the summer. Now that the group was preparing for battle, all their feelings were fully exposed and feeding the links. Somehow, Harry had the ability to more fully process those emotions into raw magical power than anyone had anticipated.
Sabrina flinched as the second group moved out. She couldn't tell what was going on, but knew that Harry was drawing no extra power.
The third group portkeyed out.
The minutes between the third group and the final group were the hardest wait for Sabrina (and Ginny and Granger, for that matter). The three teens stood behind the old sofa in the cellar, wands drawn, and they were just touching each other back to back, forming a triad that could launch an attack in any direction, just in case they were misreading the situation.
"Nobody seems hurt," Hermione muttered.
"Ron is very nervous," Sabrina said.
"Neville is more angry than nervous," Ginny put in.
"It's almost time," Hermione said simply.
"See you all there," Sabrina told them, and they disappeared with the rest of the fourth wave.
Sabrina arrived facing a cavern wall. She blinked and turned around.
It was a large cavern, perhaps once a large mine gallery, and was not very high, ranging irregularly between eight and fifteen feet. The cavern floor was fairly even, and it was a roughly rectangular 30 by 80 meters.
The cavern was fairly, perhaps amazingly, uncrowded, with just a knot of people in a far corner. Approaching, the knot of people showed all familiar faces: her parents; Tudor, Master J, and Master Cadfael; Dumbledore, Lupin, and Moody; Tom and Lloyd; Ron, Percy, Neville, Luna, and Harry.
They were all standing in a semi-circle, and Sabrina wasn't totally surprised to see they were standing around a tallish figure, laying on the ground. The being looked almost as much like a snake as it did a human. It would have made an excellent alien in a cheap movie.
"I guess it's time," Harry said thickly. Sabrina could feel the tremors of Harry's emotions through the links. He was upset to the point of nausea.
"I'm afraid so, Harry," Remus answered.
"Does everyone have to . . . well, watch?"
"The more witnesses the better, I'm afraid," Dumbledore said.
"We're all sorry it has to be you," Henry said.
"We'd all prefer to take the burden from you," Tudor added.
"I wouldn't," Sabrina said, making every stare at her. "Well, I wouldn't. I don't mine sharing the responsibility, though."
"Right," Ron said. "We do it together."
"If anyone's hex is a split second ahead of the others'," Dumbledore started to warn, but Hermione interrupted him.
"The group will do it together," Hermione told him. "Harry and I have worked together controlling the actions of the whole often enough to insure we do it right."
"And, should Voldemort's essence somehow survive, we have the means of trapping him until the end of time," Cadfael added.
"Are you sure this is really him?" Moody asked.
"Yes!" Harry, Dumbledore, and Cadfael chorused.
Hermione and Tabitha went into deep conversation, discussing the exact placements needed for the group curse to work. They placed each member precisely, and told them where to aim.
Part of Sabrina's mind wanted to scream, and she knew her thoughts were being echoed by Granger and Lovegood at the least, and possibly by Harry, Ron, and her mother. This was all too clinical. This was so many things: the ending of a reign of terror; the ending of a now-unnatural life; an execution.
Whatever Sabrina (and most of the others) had expected at the end, it hadn't been this. They had expected blood, violence, and the end coming in the heat of battle.
Sabrina could feel Granger and Lovegood struggling with this as well. She was willing to bet that under almost any other circumstances, both would be against the death penalty. 'It's easier to be for or against something like this when it's abstract,' she thought.
A voice echoed in her head. 'It is. Don't feel you have to dirty yourself,' Harry's voice said.
'I have found my match in Ron, and Ron will fight for you at least as hard as he would fight for me. My parents love you like a foster son. Tom, Lloyd, and Tudor do, too. I have sworn my self to your community, Harry Potter. It's too late to have doubts just because the job has gotten dirtier than we'd hoped.' Harry smiled grimly at her, and turned his attention back to the petrified Voldemort. Sabrina, looking at him closely for the first time, could see Voldemort was now struggling to break the enchantments.
Tom saw it as well. "We have about six minutes before he breaks free."
Cadfael walked over. "Tom Marvolo Riddle, who has called himself Lord Voldemort, you have been condemned for numerous crimes against the wizarding and Muggle world by the Council of Old Believers and by the International Confederation of Wizards. Let the punishment for these crimes be exacted."
Harry led his community, and together they exacted a small amount of vengeance for almost thirty years of horror. Together, they cast the Killing Curse
The elders gathered around the body. Hermione bit her lower lip, so as not to make an inane remark.
Cadfael and Dumbledore confirmed that Tom Riddle was no more.
Saturday, August 23, 1997
In the kitchen of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the house elves were having a grand time preparing the greatest feast in the recent history of Hogwarts. That recorder of all things epicurean at the school, the Hufflepuff ghost known to most as the Fat Friar, was already rhapsodizing about the upcoming event.
Down deep in the dungeons, Severus Snape sat, contemplating what should be his final achievement.
He had many achievements, although most were so dark, done for the now-fallen Dark Lord nearly twenty years before, that Snape had preferred not being credited with their creation. A few of the others would have made him famous, although he had not released any of them. He glanced over at his greatest achievement, considered purely professionally.
It shone silvery white in the gloomy dungeon, the private lair of a very private man. Any werewolf who drank that potion would be able to instead transform into an animagus wolf instead, and, if it tested out as Snape thought it would, after a year or so of taking it, the werewolf would never be infectious again.
No, he had sworn not to release that while he lived, as long as Lupin lived. Snape's mouth quirked, wondering, if his plan worked, if Lupin would now avail himself of the discovery.
Irony. And revenge.
He forced his attention to the innocuous, frothy, almost cheerfully pink potion in front of him. If he drank it, he would become a weapon when the potion became fully effective, which would take about an hour. The first human he touched should die in less than three minutes. There was no antidote possible. Of course, once he touched that person, he would also die in about three minutes.
Snape had written up his reasons for assassinating Potter. He wouldn't want his act to be thought of in any way as an act of revenge for Potter's killing the Dark Lord. No, Snape was grateful Potter had succeeded, and he said so.
Potter had succeeded, because he had been given too much power. Snape could not imagine trusting anyone with that much power, not even Dumbledore. Certainly not 'The Boy'. Snape had also written a claim that he was not doing this out of revenge for Potter's father and the other "Marauders," although in truth, even he was a tad less sure of his motives there.
Snape took a deep breath, picked up the vial, and drank the lethal pink potion. He smiled, thinking of all the awful tasting potions he had brewed over the years. How ironic that his last one, in many ways the most deadly one, tasted so pleasantly of wintergreen and cinnamon.
Minerva McGonagall looked the great hall over with a critical eye. The head table was enlarged to its maximum size. The Minister and a few other officials from the Ministry, the International, the Order, and the main honorees would sit there. The other honorees would sit at the Gryffindor table. There would be more Order of Merlins passed out this night than in any other entire year in the history of the Order.
McGonagall smiled. Harry Potter would receive the first Order of Merlin (as opposed to First, Second, or Third class) in over two hundred and fifty years. She hoped that after the publicity of the evening, things would calm down under the relentless normality of the upcoming school year, finally giving Harry a chance to decompress a little. He would be going off to a secluded location with his friends, with a few adults to chaperone, in two days, to spend the time before school started.
McGonagall turned her attention back to the House tables, glancing to make certain there was a place card for each setting. Ministry officials and VIPs from around the world would fill the Ravenclaw table, while lesser contributors to the cause (such as McGonagall herself) would be seated at the Hufflepuff table. The press and others would be sent to the Slytherin table.
McGonagall sensed someone behind her more than heard them. Turning, she was only slightly surprised to see a very tired Harry Potter. "Good evening, Potter."
"Hi, Professor," he responded.
"Are you that anxious for the ceremony to start? Or perhaps you're just getting hungry."
Harry smiled slightly at that. "After that lunch, I am not going to be all that hungry tonight, although I think Ron is. No, I'm sure you know how I feel. The sooner this thing starts, the sooner it will be over."
"How does it feel to have your whole life in front of you?" his Head of House asked.
"Empty," Harry answered. "Believe me, I'm glad it's over, but I really haven't felt this way before in my life."
"Really," he affirmed. "Even before things got started my First year, no matter how much I loved this place, I knew I would have to go back to the Dursleys. I never intend to step foot in that house again."
"Are you cutting them off?"
"No," Harry admitted, "at least not right away. No matter where I go after next year, I'll set up a Muggle postal address for them to send me mail, if they over want to. If they don't, well, that's up to them."
"That's good. Still up for auror training somewhere?"
Harry shook his head. "No. The International and the Old Believers will be giving me some training in North America after Luna and Ginny leave. Tudor and Henry have convinced me to spend a year on the dueling circuit before going."
"Really? I'll place my bets now, then."
Harry grinned. McGonagall smile back. "Go finish getting dressed."
Twenty-five minutes before the presentations were to start, Albus Dumbledore sat in his high-backed chair overlooking the great hall. Nearly all the guests, dignitaries, and press were present. Dumbledore smiled towards one corner, filled with the complete Weasley family and their escorts. It was good to see that the family had not only survived the war intact, but had healed earlier divisions, now that the war was over.
Another corner brought a slight frown. The press had certainly become much less gentlemanly over the course of the twentieth century, Dumbledore mused. Given the chance, they would mob poor Harry, and perhaps provoke his power in accidental ways.
Dumbledore smiled as Tabitha Spellman repelled the press by the sheer force of her personalty, and then the bulks of Tudor Myrddin, Henry Dorff, and Tobias Jones prevented the press from swirling around the irate redhead. 'No,' Dumbledore observed, 'there goes one around the end.' He smiled as Hermione Granger halted the news hound in mid-stride, wand raised. Would she dare? Yes, there he was now, turned into a rather frightened-looking Chihuahua. The press retreated further away as Luna Lovegood's loud laugh echoed through the hall, and Harry doubled over in laughter.
Dumbledore's eyes roamed around the hall, taking in faces, most of whom he knew. With one exception, the staff of Hogwarts was doing their job, mingling with the guests.
'Ah, there he is,' Dumbledore thought as Snape came into the room and started making his way towards the corner with Harry in it. 'Poor boy. He always looks rather constipated. Perhaps I should do a little slight-of-hand and put that rather interesting new Wheeze into Severus' wine tonight. That would clean out a giant, let alone Severus. Still, I doubt it would improve his over-all disposition.'
Dumbledore snorted in amusement, but fortunately no one noticed. 'He must be torn,' Dumbledore went on. 'How anyone who knows Harry cannot at least tolerate him is beyond me. He is such a good boy. I'm glad a little of the tiredness has left him. Harry needs that rest. He and Severus could both use a little more color in their cheeks. Severus looks worse that usual, even if he's always dressed in black. Tonight he looks worse than his usual pale, he looks positively gray.'
Dumbledore sat up with a jerk. "Gray?" He remembered Ron's last prophecy. There was no way he could stop Snape. He couldn't yell, the hall was far too noisy. He couldn't drop Severus with a hex, it was too crowded, and he might not be believed. There was only one thing to do.
Dumbledore moved to intercept Snape, trying to read his intentions as he did so. Snape had been practicing, however, and it took several subtle tries before Dumbledore could read enough of Snape's surface thoughts to realize what the Potions genius had done.
Dumbledore was appalled, and grew ever more shocked as the tendrils of thought connected him to Snape's chain of reasoning, and his own part in that chain. Dumbledore realized that he had to do this alone. Involving anyone else would risk them touching Severus, and he could not risk an innocent's death.
The eddies finally brought Dumbledore and Snape together only nine feet from Harry. Harry was just starting to turn towards Snape, a puzzled look on his face, when Dumbledore reached around a stray Potter-fan and grasped Snape firmly at the nape of his neck.
Snape froze, horrified, and turned to see who had violated his personal space in such a fatal way. "Oh, no," he whispered, "not you of all people."
"Yes," Dumbledore said sadly, "it is I. And while I forgive you my own death, I can not forgive what you have tried to do. I presume there is nothing to do and little time in which not to do it?"
"About three minutes. It should not be very painful."
"What's happened?" Harry demanded.
While Snape quickly explained to Tabitha, Dumbledore turned to Harry and said his last words. "If you forgive me my mistakes, and try your best, know that I enter the next great adventure with a clear resolve."
"I forgive you everything," Harry answered, "and I'll do my best." With that, the greatest wizard of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries passed on to his next adventure in the arms of the greatest wizard of the twenty-first.