“Arthur, Molly,” Kingsley replied in a solemn tone of voice as the Weasley Matriarch came to stand beside her husband. The Minister for Magic gave each of them a tight nod. “Good to see you both again,” he offered in greeting.
“We were just about to have a bit to eat if you’d care to join us, Kingsley?” Molly offered even as she began to get the feeling that this was more than just a social call. While she knew that Kingsley was the Minister now, she had called the man by his name for so long that she just couldn’t bring herself to change how she addressed him.
“I am sorry, I’m here in the official capacity of Minister for Magic today,” Kingsley explained, confirming the witch’s fears. “Normally I wouldn’t be involved, however given the delicate nature of this matter…,”Kingsley’s words trailed off for a moment as he didn’t know what to say. “This is Ragnok, Gringotts Bank Manager,” the tall man explained with a gesture towards the goblin with him. “Arthur, can you please lower the Burrow’s wards for a bit. We’re expecting someone and it would be difficult for them to get here with the wards in place.”
“This is about Harry? Isn’t it!” Hermione suddenly exclaimed loudly from where she stood near the tables. The witch carefully passed Teddy back to his grandmother. The child, perhaps picking up on her anxiety, started to cry and fuss. “Has something happened to him?” Hermione enquired, taking several steps towards them before she paused, eyeing the Aurors. The young witch began to nervously wring her hands before her as the moments ticked past without an answer from the Minister.
Just when the atmosphere was becoming tense for everyone aline of black cars appeared on the road leading towards the Burrow. Those gathered huddled closer together as they watched the motorcade approach. Arthur Weasley looked at the vehicles longingly and with an envious gleam to his eyes. He had wanted another car but after the events of Ron and Harry’s ill-fated trip in the flying Ford Anglia, Molly had put her foot down and not allowed him to have one. Perhaps one day, he silently prayed.
Five sedans in total rolled up. In short order the doors to four of them opened and what was clearly a security detailed bailed out and took up defensive positions about the area. Several of the men held wands in their hands while others grasped small firearms. Once they were all in place the rear door of the middle car opened and an elder lady of regal bearing stepped forth. Those gathered, with the exception of the Minister, Aurors and security personnel, dropped to one knee as was traditional when in the presence of royalty. Kingsley quickly gesture with his wand and a comfortable chair appeared.
“Due get up,” the Queen directed once she was seated in the conjured seat. “That can’t be all that comfortable,” she added. “We thank you for the seat,” Elizabeth stated with a slight tilting of her head towards Kingsley. “We hope WE are not terribly late? There was a bit of a problem finding the place,” the Queen confessed. “Our driver kept getting turned about for some reason. Have you started?” she asked with a look towards Kingsley.
“No Ma`am,” the Minister assured the Monarch. “We had but arrived ourselves,” the former Auror informed his boss. Kingsley was fairly certain that the Burrow wards were the reason for the Queen’s driver getting lost.
“I see. Who might these lovely people be?” the Queen enquired as she turned her gaze to the others gathered presently. It didn’t take long for her to see that the group before her was out of sorts, nervous and a bit scared. At a slight gesture the Queen’s security details fanned out giving the Queen and her court a bit of privacy.
Arthur hastily stepped forward, a shocked Molly right behind him. “If it pleases your Majesty,” he said with a bow. “I am Arthur Weasley. I work at the Ministry with Minister Shacklebolt. This is my wife Molly,” he continued with as Molly did a very dignified curtsy.
“You have a lovely house, Mrs. Weasley. Our thanks for hosting us this evening,” the Queen offered. “We hope We shall not be too much of a bother.” Molly, blushing at the praise and shocked rather speechless for once, could do little more than nod.
Arthur smiled as he knew that his wife would never forget this day. Molly loved anything royal and was an avid fan of the entire royal family, none so much as of the Queen herself though. “This is my eldest son William and his wife Fleur.” Bill bowed respectfully and Fleur’s curtsied as gracefully as flowing water.
“Ms. Delacour, or should I say Mrs. Weasley now?” said the Queen with a smile. “It is a pleasure to meet the Tri-Wizard Tournament Champion for Beauxbatons.” Fleur showed that even a Veela could blush beautifully. “Mr. Weasley be certain you do not lose her. Curse breaking is anasty business,” she added, addressing Bill. Stunned like his mother, the eldest Weasley son could only nod as he slipped his wife’s hand into his.
“These other lads are Charles, Percy, George and Ronald,” Arthur continued with as he pointed to each. “The young lady there is our daughter, Ginevra.”
“You have a fine family in deed,” the Queen said to Molly and Arthur as the children bowed rather awkwardly, having never really done that sort of thing before.
“Here we have Andromeda Tonks and her grandson, Teddy Lupin,” Arthur said as he motioned to the witch in question.
“It saddened Us to hear of your families loss,” the Queen spoke to Andi. “To lose ones parents so young is never a good thing,” the Queen said sadly as she gazed at the small babe in Andi’s arm. “We owe your family a debt of much more than gratitude. If there is anything We can do please do let Us know.”
“Thank you Ma`am,” Andi replied with a perfect curtsy of her own. It wouldn’t do for a daughter of the Black family to be anything other than proper.
Arthur motioned to the final group. “These are our dear friends, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood and Hermione Granger. They are all guests of ours this evening.”
“I have it on very good authority from a young gentleman friend of yours that We owe you all a debt of gratitude as well. The Realm is in your debt for your service to Country and Crown,” the Queen told them as she looked to them each till her eyes fell on Hermione whom she gave a long appraising look before turning back to address Arthur and Molly. “Your great loss has only just recently been brought to Our attention, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. We share in your sorrow. Would that no parent should feel your loss, even if it were given in the defense of the Realm,” the Queen said, once more addressing Arthur.
“You are most kind, your Majesty,” Arthur replied, woefully uncertain as just what to say. To those gathered it still seemed unreal that the Queen was actually sitting in a conjured chair in their garden as if she did this sort of thing every day.
“Perhaps if we were to proceed?” Elizabeth stated as she turned to look towards Kingsley and the goblin beside him. If she had never seen a goblin before one could not tell as she gave no indication of being shocked or put off at the appearance of the creature. “I believe there is acertain procedure which must be adhered to?”
“If I may, Your Majesty” Ragnok requested. After a nod of approval the goblin waved his hand and a table appeared with enough chairs before it to seat everyone. “If you will be so kind as to take a seat,” he instructed as he seated himself in the single chair on that side of the table, setting the box he had been carrying before him. “Before we begin I have been instructed by Mr. Potter to read a letter he has composed that will be released tomorrow morning in the Daily Prophet as well as the Quibbler.” Without further delay Ragnok opened the box and extracted a scroll and began to read.
The deed is done. Voldemort is dead by my hand.
It is no small matter to take a man’s life, even one perhaps as deserving of it as he was. Sadly this is not the first time I’ve had to end a life. No, that was when I was eleven years old. This is something that most of you will thankfully never know, seeing another human being die by your hand. Your hands will always remain pristinely clean of blood because you, like so many others, decided to do nothing. To turn a blind eye to what was happening. Rather you would place the burden on a small child as if he owed you some debt which could only be paid by saving you from your own cowardice.
It mattered not that his parents had sacrificed themselves already to save him and through him, all of you. As if that were not payment enough, years later you expected him to once again come to your rescue. Time and time again he prevailed against Voldemort only to be ridiculed and belittled by you, the very people he saved. He was called nutter, spoiled, attention seeker only till such time as he was needed once again to make good upon the debt you felt owed you. Then he was The-Boy-Who-Lived, The Chosen One, the shield which you could hide behind rather than stand up and fight for what was yours. You did what was easy, rather than what was right.
Fight I did. You don’t know what it’s like to hear your mother’s screams as she begs for your life knowing that hers is already forfeited. You’ll never have to watch as the last of your family is killed before your eyes trying to save you. You’ll never have to witness your friends being tortured and murdered simply because they chose to stand beside you. You’ll never have to stand alone in the middle of a cold desolate forest knowing you’re about to die with no one there who cares for you to witness your final moments. I know so many things you will never know. Because it was the only way to beat Voldemort I stood there, not knowing if I would survive or not, and watched as the killing curse flew at me. All the while praying that Iwouldn’t survive, that this time my luck wouldn’t hold. All so that it would just finally be over with.
But it’s not over with. It will never be over with will it? Not matter how many of my loved ones die, friends are killed or sacrifices are made, it will never be over for me. I foolishly thought that with the Dark Lords defeat I would be free to live a normal life. A life like everyone else. But I can’t. You who have done nothing will want to hold me up for all the world to see. A gilded bird in a gilded cage more securely shackled than any prophecy ever could make me. I, now more so than ever, will never be able to escape the demands you will continue to place upon me.
I tell you here and now, no more! I am not yours. I am not some object which you own or can claim rights to. I will not be your prized trophy to be shown off to the rest of the Wizarding world. I will no longer be the one forced to do the very things you will not do for yourselves. My debt, whatever it may have been, has been paid in full tenfold. If anything, it is now you which are in my debt. Your families which live because mine died. Your friends which you spend time with because mine are no more. All you who did nothing are now truly and rightfully indebted to me.
Unlike you I will not make you lose all that is dear to you. I shall not ask of you that you shed blood, fight the unimaginable or live a life of servitude. I will not belittle you, slander your word or think ill of you. I simply ask that you continue to do nothing. Do not speak to me. Do not seek me out. Do nothing more than you have done for my entire life. I know you will not stand up and fight for your freedom, so do the easy thing instead…forget that I ever existed.
I am the only child of James and Lily Potter. By the time you read this, I, Harry James Potter shall be no more and the Potter line will have ceased to exist. I thought that fact would upset me more than it does. Sadly it no longer matters. When I first came to the Wizarding world and started at Hogwarts I’m certain it would have, but not now. Not anymore. Now, at the end of it all, I am just glad to be done with everything.
A wise wizard once said ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good witches and wizards to do nothing’. I hope you will remember those words for the next time a Dark Lord rises. No matter how strong he or she might be they are but one person. They are nothing when compared to every witch and wizard joined resolutely to stand against them. You may think that one wand cannot make the difference yet was that not exactly what you expected of me? Did not my one wand in fact make all the difference? So to can yours!
There is not just safety in numbers, there is strength as well. A strength that no Dark Lord could ever hope to surpass. Voldemort had a few hundred followers. Britain has several thousand witches and wizards. Do the math. Evil will only win if you let it. I will not be there next time to save you. You will have to save yourselves.
By my hand,
Harry James Potter
Before those assembled could recover from what he had read, Ragnok continued. “I will read now the last Will and Testament of Harry James Potter, last of the Noble Potter line.” Several of those gathered gasped in disbelief at what they had heard. This was not what they had expected when they had been invited to the gathering. Many an eye sprung a leak as tears were shed as the stunned onlookers listened to the final wishes of their dear friend.
“To my good friend, Neville Longbottom, who has always been there when I needed him most. I happen to chance upon several books within the Black family library that dealt specifically with mind magics. Do not give up hope, Neville. Muggles believe that even when a person is within acoma they can still hear what is happening around them. I do not know if these will help your folks but I hope they do. I know what it is like to miss ones parents and I don’t want your life to always be like that. Hopefully these will help. You’re a true Gryffindor and a stalwart friend!”
The goblin reached within the box on the table and pulled forth four tomes that were tied together with twine. With a gesture he motioned Neville forward and after the wizard had signed for them he handed them over. Neville regarded the books reverently as he returned to his seat.
“To my dear friend, Luna Lovegood. I was very fortunate when the Nargals led you into my life. You most of all understand how it feels to be different, forever on the outside being looked at by others. You deal with it so much better than I do, Luna. Please don’t ever change. You are adear, dear friend who I will sorely miss and no, that is not the wrackspurts talking. I happen to discover a very old tome in Regulus’ room that was written by Sirius’ several times removed great uncle who was a bit of an explorer. There were several entries made concerning a unique creature that he had discovered in upper Mongolia. The distinguishing characteristic of the animal was that it had a crumpled horn. I hope his notes and maps help you in finding what you’ve been looking for.”
Luna skipped up to the table and quickly scooped up the tome, after signing for it, before skipping back to her seat with it clutch protectively to her chest. The young witch was already laying the ground work for a trip to Mongolia with her father. The petite witch was happy for her missing friend as she knew that he was finally going to have the life he had always wanted. If there was any sadness it was only that she knew that she would not be a part of Harry’s new life. She would miss him as he had been one of her truest and dearest friends.
“To Ginevra Weasley, who has at times been like a little sister to me and has had my back on more than one occasion. Ginny you truly are a remarkable person and some bloke, assuming he can survive your brothers, is going to be very fortunate to be yours one day. I hope you won’t mind if Igive you a hand-me down. I know you will take good care of it. I leave you my treasured Firebolt. Make certain to win the House Cup for us before you turn pro!”
“Please step forth and sign for the item, Ms. Weasley,” Ragnok instructed the emotional witch. Once that was done he pulled the shrunken broom from the box and handed it to her. As soon as she touched it the broom expanded to its full size. The young crying witch held the broom lovingly to her chest as she returned to her seat.
“To George Weasley who has always been the older, if slightly insane, brother. Okay, largely insane! I had intended to give this to Fred and you when I first found it. I am certain that the previous owners of it would be honored to know that it was in your possession for reasons which will become clearer when you read it. I know you will put it to good use.”
George, looking more than slightly confused, approached the table and signed for the item which turned out to be a thin journal without title or ornamentation. The lanky wizard tried to open the front cover only to find that it wouldn’t budge. “He’s having a go at me, he is!” George exclaimed after trying unsuccessfully to open the book several times. The wizard returned to his seat when he suddenly had a thought. Taking out his wand he tapped the front cover and whispered, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”. The book opened and upon the front page was written in bold letters, ‘The Marauder’s Manual’. George quickly closed the book and hugged it, knowing that Fred would have likely fainted right about now were he there.
“To Arthur and Molly Weasley. You took me into your home when I had none of my own. Through you and the other Weasley’s I was able to finally see just how a family should be. Sure it is often chaotic, noisy and messy, with a smattering of tempers that one would expect from so many under one roof. But all of that does very little to hide the depth of love you all hold for each other. Not only did you show me what a real family is but you invited me in to be a member of it. I can’t even begin to tell you just how much that meant to me. You are as much my parents as my own are. It is the responsibility of the children, once grown, to take care of their parents. I hope you will accept this as such for I will not be there when you are aged. I leave to you the sum of 350,000 galleons so that you may find comfort in your declining years.”
Arthur handed the sobbing Molly to his son Bill so that he could approach the table and sign the required paperwork after wiping several tears from his own cheeks. The wizard didn’t want to accept the galleons but he felt to do so would be a dishonor to the boy they were from. As proud as he was, he just couldn’t do that to Harry whom he still thought of as his own son.
“To Edward Remus Lupin, my godson. Teddy, it greaves me that I will not be there to witness you grow into the wonderful man I am certain you will become. With parents such as Moony and Tonks you couldn’t be anything other than wonderful. I’m certain Andi will see to that as well. Try not to give her or your godmother too much grief, but do try and have some fun in your life. Remember that your father was a Marauder and your godfather was the son of one just as you are. I leave it to you to carry on the Marauder name!”
“Andi, I wish I had been able to spend more time with you, cousin. In the short time that I did have to come to know you, I am certain you’ll be a wonderful mum for Teddy. I have setup a trust vault for Teddy that will cover all of his Hogwarts expenses as well as many others as he grows. The vault is in your care till such time as Teddy reaches maturity. If Icannot be there for him I can at least see that he lacks for nothing.”
Andi approached the table and after signing the bit of parchment accepted the vault key from the goblin. The crying witch made her way back to her seat a bit unsteadily. In the short time she had known Harry she had come to think rather highly of him. She, like few others, didn’t see him as The-Boy-Who-Lived or the Chosen One. She knew him as her cousin, as the friend of Dora and Remus as well as the godfather of Teddy. She knew that was how she would always remember him and how she would tell Teddy about his godfather.
“To Ronald Bilius Weasley. You are the brother that Inever had, mate. You were the first mate I met on the train and we’ve been friends through thick and thin, crazy flying car rides, escaping from giant spiders, potion laced chocolates, Quidditch, more chess games than I can count. You are a great bloke, truly one of the best. You have everything you need already. Fame, fortune is over rated and has never brought me as much happiness as a single game of chess with you has. Friends, family, those are the true riches of this world. They are the things that matter and are worth fighting for, mate. Thankfully you already have them in spades!
I leave a certain scrap of parchment in your care for your seventh year at Hogwarts. Before you say you won’t be returning, we both know Hermione will bagger you into going! I’m sure you’ll know what to do with it. If not just ask Hermione, the brilliant one of our trio. Please see that it is handed down to Teddy when he is of the right age. As it belonged to his father I think it is only right that he inherit it. Also, as ever bloke needs someplace to relax and play some Quidditch I leave to you Snuffle’s island hideaway.”
Ron numbly made his way to the table, wiping the tears from his cheeks as he went and scratched his signature upon the required documents. Ragnok handed over an envelope containing the Marauder’s Map as well as a glass snow globe to the wizard. “Mr. Weasley, this is a portkey that will take you to the location mentioned in Mr. Potter’s will. Do not lose it as it is currently the only way to get there.” Ron simply nodded once before returning to his seat, hastily wiping at his eyes once again.
“To my very best friend, Hermione Granger. You have always been there for me ‘Mione. Without you there I would have died several times over, not to mention have been expelled! You never gave up on me. Never doubted me. Your trust was unwavering. You have always been my rock, my harbor which sheltered me from the storm that has been my life. You, are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I wish I had been able to tell you just what you mean to me and how much I love you. All my very best memories begin and end with you. You will always be foremost in my heart.
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, saying goodbye to you. I know you have big plans ahead of you. You want to change the world and I know you will do it. There is nothing you can’t do, I’m living proof of that. If you can keep me alive then changing the world should be child’s play for you! The sky truly is the limit, ‘Mione. You’re the brightest witch of our time. Books and learning, that’s what is called for now. Not me. Not here. This world is no longer mine and so I give you all that I have so that you might change the world for the better. Make the difference that I couldn’t.”
“Per Mr. Potter’s request, and with the assistance of Gringotts, all Black family assets, including all property, currency as well as the hereditary seat upon the Wizengamot have been transferred to you Ms. Granger,” Kingsley stated as he motioned for the young witch to step forth. “The Black family name is now yours.”
For the first time ever that any of them could recall, Hermione was at a loss for words. In what amounted to a daze, she approached the table and signed where the goblin indicated she should, though she was not truly cognizance of her actions. As the last signature was completed the parchment glowed a deep blue for a moment and suddenly the Black family signet ring appeared upon her finger. Kingsley took the girl by the elbow and guided her over to the Queen where she was instructed to kneel.
Elizabeth stood and held forth a hand into which shimmer into existence a sword. “In accordance with your young man’s wishes, By my God given right I name thee Peer of the Realm and grant you all rights and responsibilities forth with for you and your heirs till such time as the Realm deems otherwise or the world does end.” The sword rose and tapped first one shoulder than the other before being withdrawn. “Arise Lady Hermione Granger Black, Duchess of Hogsmeade. From this day hence you shall sit upon the Queen’s Council and advise Us concerning matters of the Realm and that of Our magical subjects. You will act as Our voice within the magical portion of The Realm and have the power to enact change as We and the Realm see it is needed.”
The sudden realization of what was happening seemed to finally sink in as the newly anointed Duchess slowly got to her feet. Hermione’s head moved side to side as she tried to deny the most recent events. Harry can’t be gone, her mind screamed. “No. This isn’t right,” she mumbled aloud.
“And what, pray tell Us, is not right about it, child?” the Queen enquired knowingly. Through her discussion with Harry she had come to the realization that the young man was hopelessly besotted with the witch who currently stood before her. Even never having met the girl, Elizabeth knew from Harry that she would be a changing force within the magical world. Elizabeth could only hope that the girl loved Harry as well or all would be truly lost.
“This. All of this!” Hermione replied in a raised voice. “None of this matters without Harry! What good is changing the world if he isn’t there to see it…to share it with me?”
“The young man of which you speak does no longer exist. He did impart to Us his desire to sever himself from your world,” the Queen replied. “Harry Potter good and truly is no more.”
“Harry is not dead!” Hermione snapped angrily, not giving one wit that it was the Queen she was addressing. “I just need to find him and talk some sense into his head. He’ll listen to me. He always listens to me,”she said in a tear filled tone. I…I just have to find him. He can’t be gone. He can’t leave. Not just when I realized…that…I haven’t even told him that Ilove him yet!”
“Child, you have been given the means by which to change your world. That young man has sacrificed everything for your world and for you to have a chance to accomplish your dreams. All he asked in return was for you to make a difference. To make it better than it is,” Elizabeth told the young witch. “What will you do given this opportunity?”
Hermione chewed her bottom lip, lost in thought. Her first impulse was to go find the boy and drag him back kicking and screaming. But is that what is best for him, she asked herself. Harry’s letter had been right in many ways, particularly in the fact that the Wizarding world would never let him be, just Harry. To them he will always be the next Albus Dumbledore or Merlin. I know that is not the life Harry wants to have.
The young witch also realized that with her newly granted title and seat upon the Wizengamot she would really have a chance to make serious reform within the Wizarding world. I would be the only member within the Wizengamot of Peerage and with the ability to speak on the Queen’s behalf. That alone she knew would give her considerable leverage to effect change where it was sorely needed. Lives could be saved and made infinitely better were she to do as Harry asked.
“I…I don’t know,” she finally replied. Inside her chest her heart hurt and ached for the man she loved, for her Harry. There was little doubt in her mind that she loved Harry and that she was in love with the missing wizard. As much as she had been there for him, he had been there for her. Time and time again they had each risked their lives for the other. They shared a connection with each other that she had never felt before and doubted she would ever feel with anyone else, ever.
The Queen, seeing the despair and heartache on Hermione’s face offered her some words of wisdom. “Child, if life has shown me one thing it is that the males of our species seldom know what they truly want. Thankfully, they have us here to make sure they know what they really need out of life.”
Hermione looked up with large hopeful eyes, “Do you know where he is? Please tell me if you do!”
“We were not told where his travels would lead him,” the Queen replied. “Mr. Potter spoke very highly of you. I believe ‘she’s what’s kept me alive all these years’ was the term he used. Not who, but what,”Elizabeth emphasized. “We couldn’t help but notice the deep love he held for you, child. It was so very evident when your name left his lips. He said that you are the brightest witch of this age. We would think that given that and the resources which are at your disposal, you should be able to locate him. In the meantime might We suggest that you also work upon the changes that apparently you and he feel are needed.”
“Of course, Your Majesty,” Hermione replied with adetermined set to her features as she turned to head towards the Burrow and the floo located there.
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