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Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon by Edward Ollivander
Chapter 43 : Draco Dormiens Nunguan Titillandus
Rating: 12+Chapter Reviews: 65

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The day that many of the students had been dreading all year finally arrived. In the early hours of the morning, there was not a chair to be had in the library, and the room of requirement was buzzing with activity as the students attempted to cram every bit of studying they could before breakfast.

“I’m glad you remembered that Harry said not to wake him up for any study time this morning, Ron,” Ginny said as she sat down where Ron and Hermione were discussing the merits of a potion ingredient.

“I thought it was the least I could do for him,” Ron responded. “He stayed up for a while before we went to sleep last night to answer a few questions for all of us in the dorm.”

“Ron,” Hermione said scoldingly. “Why would you do something like that? Hasn’t he done enough?”

“He’s the one who offered it to us,” Ron said. “He said we could ask him one question each if we wanted to. He said he was hoping it would make us sleep better having one less thing to worry about.”

“He hasn’t had any problem staying relaxed about the exam,” Ginny said. “He took me out on a walk by the lake last night and kept me out there for two hours looking up at the stars. Everyone else probably thought he was doing it to study for astronomy, but he was just doing it for fun.”

“What would he have to worry about?” Hermione asked. “He’s been like a walking encyclopedia of magic around here for months. I happen to know he hasn’t cracked a book yet. I asked him. He’s making me a nervous wreck.”

“I’m not worried,” Ron said. “I’m not nearly as nervous as I was going into my O.W.L.s. I think the whole school must feel that way this year. We couldn’t be more prepared.”

“Good morning, everyone,” Harry said as he ran his fingers through his trademark messy hair. “Is everyone ready for breakfast?”

“You never lose your appetite, do you?” Ginny said with a smile as he bent over to kiss her.

“It’s the price I pay for being a seventeen year old boy,” Harry said with a smile.

Minutes later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron walked into a nearly deserted Great Hall. Apparently, most of the other students had not had enough of studying.

“Good morning,” Dumbledore said as he came to a stop behind the four Gryffindors. “How are you all feeling today?”

“Great, Professor,” Harry said. “How are you?”

“Well, I must admit that I’m a bit nervous,” Dumbledore said. “I always get that way before the testing begins. I was fine until the examiners arrived earlier this morning. Every time I see them I can’t help but think about how nervous I was when they came to give my O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s.”

“Have they posted the testing order yet, Professor?” Hermione asked.

“Not officially,” Dumbledore began, “but I think I can tell you all. Gryffindor N.E.W.T.s will begin with Herbology. Ginny, you won’t be taking any N.E.W.T.s until next year, but something tells me you won’t be too far from the exams today.”

“I’m just going along as moral support this year, Professor,” Ginny said. “Not that they’ll need any, of course.”

“I dare say you might be right,” Dumbledore said with a smile. “I anticipate great things from the students this year.”

Around noon, the Gryffindor seventh years walked out of their Herbology N.E.W.T.

“How was it?” Ginny, who had waited outside through the entire exam, asked.

“Harder than I expected,” Ron said.

“I told you the N.E.W.T.s were more in depth than the O.W.L.s were,” Hermione said.

“I know,” Ron said. “I know. No worries though. I’m sure I passed.”

“You had better hope so, Ron,” Ginny said. “Mum will send you howlers for the rest of your life if you didn’t.”

“You had better study more for your next one,”
Hermione said. “This will determine what job you get once you leave Hogwarts, you know.”

“Maybe you would like to study with me after lunch,” Ron said. “I have a free period.”

“I don’t though,” Hermione said. “I have my N.E.W.T. for Ancient Runes right after lunch.”

“I’ll study with you, Ron,” Harry said. “I have a free period, too.”

“Well of course you do, Harry,” Ginny said. “The two of you are taking exactly the same classes.”

“Do what you can with him, Harry,” Hermione said. “Potions isn’t his best subject.”

“He’ll be fine,” Harry said. “Snape isn’t giving the exam after all.”

“Boys,” Hermione said shaking her head. “They never take anything seriously.”

The Potions N.E.W.T. was given in two parts. The first part was a written exam that took place at individual desks in the Great Hall. To no one’s surprise, barely forty five minutes later, Harry took his test up to the appraiser overseeing the test.

“Finished already?” Ginny asked as Harry walked out of the Great Hall.

“Not completely,” Harry said. “I still have to take the practicals in the Potions classroom. Do you feel like walking me there?”

“Of course,” Ginny said. “On the way there, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Well at least you know I’ll answer it,” Harry said with a grin.

“I do love having that power sometimes,” Ginny said with a wide smile of her own.

“So, what do you want to know?” Harry asked.

“Have you thought at all about what kind of a wedding you would like to have?” Ginny asked expecting Harry to be at least a little flustered by the question.

“Every single day,” Harry responded quickly.

“Really?” Ginny asked surprised.

“It makes me happy to think about it,” Harry said. “I can tell you what I would like if you want.”

“Please do,” Ginny said intrigued.

“First of all,” Harry began, “I would like it to be at the Burrow. I want it to be in the spot on the ground right below where we shared our first kiss. Maybe sometime in the Summer. I’ll wear black. You’ll be in white. I think Hermione and Luna should be joined by a few others in pink. I imagine Ron in a deep shade of red, although his robes will be just as black as mine. All of my other dorm mates will be there with me as well. Maybe even Draco will show up. Of course I’d like to have Dumbledore and all of the teachers there, as well as the members of the Order. And the flowers…”

“Stop, Harry,” Ginny said. “Don’t tell me any more. I’d hate to find out you’ve put more thought into it than I have. I could never live that down.”

“I just need you there to make me happy, Gin,” Harry said.

“Count on it,” Ginny said. “I always will be.”

Later that evening, Harry and Ginny were sitting in the Gryffindor common room when Hermione walked in with a frazzled looking Ron.

“What a day,” Ron said as he tossed himself down in a chair.

“It wasn’t that bad was it?” Harry asked.

“Easy for you to say, mate,” Ron said. “You finished your written portion of the exam so quickly that the next person to turn it in took at least that long again before she finished it, and that was Hermione.”

“How did your practicals go, Harry?” Hermione asked. “You were already gone by the time I got there.”

“They let me skip those,” Harry said.

“What?” Ron asked as he suddenly sat up.

“Apparently one of the appraisers had read in Hogwarts, A History that I had passed that potions test back in January,” Harry said. “Before I got there they reviewed that test and declared that I had achieved a level that was beyond what would be expected during the N.E.W.T. So, they gave me an exemption.”

“So how did you do, Ron?” Ginny asked as Ron sat looking at Harry unable to form an appropriate response.

“I passed,” Ron finally said as he collapsed back into the chair. “I may not be as fast as Hermione, or as lucky as Harry, but I made it through at my own pace. At least I made it out before Neville.”

“Not by much though,” Hermione said. “He came out when I was still talking to Ron in the hallway. Luna was waiting there for him and they were going to take a walk down by the lake to unwind before dinner.”

“Speaking of dinner…” Harry began.

“I agree,” Ron said before Harry could finish. “Lets go see if they’ve put the house tables back together in time for dinner yet.”

The next day, Harry found himself standing in the Great Hall once again as he prepared to take his only N.E.W.T. of the day, Transfiguration.

“Excellent, Mr. Potter,” Examiner Marchbanks said as Harry turned the burning candle back into his shoe. “Very impressive.”

“Thank you,” Harry responded.

“Do you think you could successfully transform yourself into an animal?” Marchbanks asked.

“Certainly,” Harry said.

Moments later, everyone in the room stopped to watch as Harry the phoenix soared around the Great Hall. Just as he had done in the Transfiguration classroom in front of Professor McGonagal, Harry soared around for several minutes before landing once again in front of Examiner Marchbanks.

“Wow, Harry!” Dean exclaimed from where he was standing for his test. “That was wicked!”

“Please return your attention to your own exam, Mr. Thomas,” Marchbanks said before turning her attention back to Harry. “He was right though. That was one of the most brilliant examples of transfiguration I have seen in many many years.”

“Thank you,” Harry said.

“I was here during your O.W.L.s you know,” Marchbanks said. “I watched you produce your patronus. Little did I know that I would come back just two years later to witness yet another incredible of piece of wizardry. I tested your parents for their N.E.W.T.s you know.”

“I didn’t know that,” Harry said.

“It’s amazing to me how much of them can be seen in your magic,” Marchbanks said.

“Really?” Harry asked, anxious to know more, yet fighting to hold back tears of joy.

“Certainly,” Marchbanks responded. “Many years ago, I sat in this very room, and watched as your father changed into his animagus form for another examiner. Two years ago, I watched as you produced a patronus exactly matching that form. And today… Are you aware that your mother was a registered animagus as well, Harry?”

“No,” Harry said as tears began to fall from his eyes. “No one ever told me.”

“On the day of her Transfiguration N.E.W.T., she stood in front of me and changed into her own animagus form,” Marchbanks said. “She changed into a phoenix, Harry.”

After several seconds of wiping away tears, Harry said, “Thank you. I can never tell you how much it means to me to know that.”

“If I had known that no one had told you,” Marchbanks began, “I would have told you myself two years ago. You should know everything. There is only one final thing that I will ask you before I let you go, Harry. Have you ever tried to find out if you are an animagus?”
“Yes,” Harry said, some of recent joy fading away. “I have the ability, but I’ll never use it again.”

“Really?” Marchbanks asked. “Why not?”

“Because my animal form is a basilisk,” Harry said, causing his examiners eyes to widen.

“Are you sure?” Marchbanks asked.

“Positive,” Harry said. “I would never willingly become that monster. A few years ago, one nearly killed several of my friends. I’ll never be that creature.”

“I understand,” Marchbanks said. “I will have to report it to the ministry for registration though.”

“I know,” Harry said.

“If I remember correctly,” Marchbanks began, “your father didn’t realize what he had done until after he had changed into his animal form already. Apparently he had intended to keep it a secret. The desire to show off his abilities was a strong one in him.”

“I’ve heard that about him before,” Harry said with a grin. “He was especially likely to do it if he was trying to impress my mum.”

“She eventually settled him down a bit,” Marchbanks said with a grin. “In the years that followed, your father grew into quite the family man. Your mother was everything to him, you know. That is, until you came along. I think that was the point when your father really settled down. I had never seen your parents happier. You will do their memory well I think.”

“I’ll try to,” Harry said.

“Yes,” Marchbanks said as she looked deeply into Harry’s eyes, before remembering where they both were and what she was supposed to be doing. “Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I understand that you may not want your animal form to be made public. Rest assured that it does not have to be. There is a list kept at the ministry where the animagus forms may be registered, but stay off the list made known to the public. In a case such as yours, where the animal form could be extremely dangerous, only the minister of magic would know placement on that list. I did it for your father, so I can certainly do it for you.”

“My father?” Harry asked. “Why was he put on the list? His animal wasn’t especially dangerous.”

“Suffice it to say that your father could be very persuasive,” Marchbanks said. “I refused at first, but he eventually wore me down. That man had a natural talent for finding a person’s soft spot. So, congratulations, Harry. You have just completed your N.E.W.T. for Transfiguration. Best of luck with the rest of your exams. It has been a pleasure.”

“Thank you,” Harry said. “I think the pleasure was all mine. Thank you for telling me more about my parents.”

Examiner Marchbanks smiled and said, “You are very welcome, Harry.”

“You know,” Ginny said as Harry walked out of the Great Hall, “in the entire history of Hogwarts, I don’t think anyone has ever walked out of so many N.E.W.T. exams with a smile on their face as you have.”

“Sometimes,” Harry began, “even in a test you can learn things. Let’s take a walk outside and I’ll tell you about it.”

Friday, and the last day of exams, finally arrived. The Gryffindor seventh years were delighted that they were to end the exams. Theirs would be the last impression the examiners would get of Hogwarts that year. Better yet, it would end with the exam for Defense Against the Dark Arts. They all took the written part of the exam with the rest of the seventh years earlier in the afternoon, but they would be the last to go in the practical dueling test that evening.

One by one, the Gryffindors were called into the Great Hall. Harry watched them all come out, and he felt very satisfied when he saw that most of them were smiling. Most of them had been D.A. members, and stopped to thank him for the training, since it had apparently served them all well. Little by little, the number of people waiting dwindled.

Ron had come out of the Great Hall with a smile, as Neville was called in.

“That was so easy,” Ron said as he walked over to where Ginny was standing with Hermione and Harry, who were the only ones left that had not been called in.

“Easy?” Ginny asked.

“Well, I don’t mean it like that,” Ron corrected. “The guy we have to duel against is good. I’ll give him that. I just mean that while I was dueling him I didn’t really have to think about what I was going to do. My reflexes just took over. Before I knew what happened, the test was over. I think I had stunned the guy three times by then.”

“I suppose it will be strange just dueling against one person after the training we had against multiple opponents in the D.A. meetings,” Hermione said.

“Don’t let that fool you,” Harry said. “One spell is all it would take. You’re about to face an opponent you don’t know anything about. He could have some special trick he’s just saving to use against you. You have to be…”

“Constantly vigilant,” Ron and Hermione said at the same time.

“Relax, Harry,” Hermione said. “You’ve drilled that into us for so long that I'll never forget it. I’ll keep my eyes open.”

“See that you do,” Ron said in mock seriousness. “I want you back in one piece.”

Ron began to lean over and kiss Hermione when Ginny said, “You’ll break her concentration like that, you know.”

Ron went ahead and kissed Hermione before he said, “As if you’re going to let Harry walk in there without giving him a kiss. You’ve kissed him before he’s gone into every exam so far.”

“Well I have to do what I can to get him to relax,” Ginny said with a grin.

“Right,” Ron said with a chuckle. “He hasn’t broken a sweat all week. If he gets any more relaxed he’ll be asleep.”

“Hermione Granger,” the examiner said as Neville walked out of the Great Hall.

“Wish me luck,” Hermione said as she walked toward the examiner.

“Good luck,” Ron, Ginny, and Harry said in unison.

Neville walked over and stuck his hand out to Harry as he said, “Thank you, Harry. I never could have done that well without you.”

“You always had it inside you, Neville,” Harry said as he shook Neville’s hand. “I just helped you find it.”

“Still,” Neville said, “thanks for everything.”

“You had better go find Luna,” Harry said. “She’ll want to know how you did. After that, remember to send an owl to your parents.”

Neville smiled as he said, “Don’t worry. I won’t forget.”

Only a few minutes later, Harry walked into the Great Hall to find what appeared to be most of the examiners present and observing. Harry also noticed that only three of them had quills ready to mark down scores. In the back of his mind, Harry stored the thought that the rest could become a possible threat at any time during the duel. He didn’t know if the examiners had any tricks like that planned, but there was no harm in being ready for it.

“Welcome to your Defense Against the Dark Arts N.E.W.T., Mr. Potter,” Examiner Marchbanks said from behind the table where she was sitting with her quill in hand.

“Thank you, Examiner Marchbanks,” Harry said.

“Allow me to introduce you to your dueling opponent for the exam,” Marchbanks said as she gestured to a man who looked to be in his mid thirties. “This is Boris Gallagher.”

Boris stepped forward with an excitement in his eyes that Harry would have expected to see from a first or second year student as he stuck out his hand and said, “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to actually meet you, Mr. Potter. I’ve been looking forward to this all day long. I can’t believe I actually get to duel against Harry Potter. Wow.”

“That’s enough, Boris,” Marchbanks said. “You’re going to make Harry think you’re going to take it easy on him.”

“Oh, no,” Boris said. “I wouldn’t do that, Mr. Potter. I’ll give you the best I have.”

“I’ll do the same for you, Mr. Gallagher” Harry said.

“I have to tell you, Harry,” Marchbanks began, “that I think the rest of the students may have softened Boris up for you. He’s dueled the students during these tests for the last seven years, and I don’t ever remember seeing he or any of his predecessors spend so much time stunned on the floor. I understand you may have had something to do with that. Professor Dumbledore tells me you’ve been leading a study group on dueling for a good portion of the year. Is that true?”

“Yes,” Harry said.

“I see,” Marchbanks said with a smile. “In that case, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’re anxious to see just what you can do.”

Harry never had time to respond. Loud screams from the hallway were enough to make Harry draw his wand instinctively.

“Stay calm, Harry,” Marchbanks said. “We’ll find out what the problem is.”

Harry didn’t need them to find out. His ring was already warm. The stone was red. The word he dreaded was formed clearly on the band.

Ginny burst through the doors to the Great Hall as soon as one of the examiners had opened the door to take a look outside, and she said, “Harry! It’s starting!”

“I know,” Harry said calmly.

“What has started?” Marchbanks asked.

“Please tell Professor Dumbledore and the teachers to secure the castle,” Harry said. “Voldemort is on his way.”

“What?” Marchbanks screeched. “Where are you going?”

“Voldemort isn’t here yet,” Harry said as he looked back from the door, “but the dementors are.”

Harry and Ginny ran out of the castle, and found the trouble instantly. At the very gates of Hogwarts, a small group of D.A. members had each cast their patronus to defend against the dementors coming from the direction of Hogsmeade. Harry could see that they wouldn’t last long though. The sky beyond them was dark with hundreds of dementors.

Harry was still just over one hundred meters away from where the students stood wavering under the attack when he saw the aurors from the Ministry of Magic, and order members apparate just outside the gates. They each added their own patronus to the battle, but Harry could tell that even that would not be enough to hold out for long.

Harry stopped just at the edge of where he could feel the cold of the dementors touch him as Ginny asked, “Will your patronus be strong enough, Harry? You never found a way to kill them did you?”

“No,” Harry said. “I have to try to drive them away though. Maybe it will be strong enough to help with that. You had better stand back, Ginny.”

“Not a chance, Harry,” Ginny said as she ran further into the battle to join the other students as she cast her own patronus.

‘Please let this work,’ Harry thought. “Valaya atra saikata. Valaya azakti saikata. Valaya saikata rejastejas. Valaya sukhecca saikata.”

The last of the sand poured out of the end of Harry’s wand as he looked down at the four magic circles that surrounded him. It was the most powerful combination he had been able to come up with to that point. The circles represented protection, power, light and hope. The key was still missing, but Harry didn’t have any more time to look for it.

Harry searched his mind for the happy thought he would use to produce his patronus. The moment it sprang into mind, it suddenly clicked. He knew what the key was. He wasn’t going to be able to do it alone though.

“Ginny,” Harry yelled to get Ginny’s attention. “I need you.”

Ginny’s patronus disappeared as she ran back to Harry and asked, “Is something wrong, Harry?”
“I need your help,” Harry said. “We have to do it together. Step inside the circles."

Ginny did as Harry asked as she said, “I haven’t helped you with this at all. I don’t know what to do.”
Harry took Ginny in his arms and reveled in the joyous feeling that coursed through him. Harry held his wand in his left hand and clasped it to Ginny’s right hand so that their wands were touching.

“It’s love, Ginny,” Harry said. “That was the key I’ve been missing. We have to do it together.”

Ginny nodded at Harry as they both raised their clasped hands towards the dementors and said, “Expecto patronum.”

The grounds of Hogwarts were almost instantly bathed in a pure white light. The students and the aurors who had been holding off the dementors stopped what they were doing to shield their eyes from the brightness as their patronuses disappeared. The dementors were apparently equally taken by surprise as they held their position and didn’t advance.

The ball of light that had issued from the end of Harry’s and Ginny’s wands began to take on a shape. In the matter of only a few seconds, they all looked up to see a woman in flowing white robes made of light, standing at least five meters tall. There was calm for only a few seconds. The instant the woman spread her arms, the dementors attacked.

The dementors couldn’t have resisted though. An unseen force was pulling them. Everyone watched in amazement as the dementors slammed head first into the chest of the woman and disappeared. On and on the swarm of dementors came, yet none ever emerged from the other side. In less than three minutes, the dementors were gone.

Harry and Ginny lowered their wands, and the woman disappeared.

Students began to appear all around Harry as they apparated, frustrated at having been confined to the castle. Hagrid ran over to Harry carrying his crossbow, as the doors to the castle burst open and the flow of students and teachers cascaded out.

“Are ya alrigh’ ‘arry?” Hagrid asked.

“I’m fine Hagrid,” Harry said. “I don’t know if that crossbow would have done you any good.”

“It was the firs’ thin I grabbed,” Hagrid said.

“What happened to the dementors, Harry?” Tonks asked.

“They’re gone,” Harry said. “They won’t ever bother anyone again.”

“You must be kidding,” Kingsley said. “How is that possible?”

Harry was just about to answer when Salisis suddenly flew in and wrapped around Harry’s arm. Ginny was just in time to stop Kingsley from blasting him with a spell. There were several seconds of silence as everyone listened to Harry speak to the black winged tree serpent.

“It isn’t over,” Harry finally said. “The death eaters are trying to come through the forest. There are more of them then I had suspected. Salisis said they’re going to walk right through where you have Grawp hidden, Hagrid.”

“Not to worry, ‘arry,” Hagrid said. “Grawp can ‘andle a few death eaters.”

“They aren’t alone,” Harry said just as a deafening roar went up from deep in the forest.

Even from where they stood, everyone could see the flickering glow above the trees. The death eaters had found Grawp. There were hundreds of spells being shot at him, and he didn’t sound at all happy about it.

“Grawp good boy,” Grwap said loudly. “No hurt Grawp or make angry.”

The pesky little wizards didn’t show any signs of stopping their assault, so Grawp did what came naturally. He reached over and snapped off the top of a tree, and swung it at a group of the wizards below.

Lucius Malfoy saw the twenty five death eaters that had just been wiped out by the giant and yelled, “This isn’t the fight we came for. Apparate further into the forest. Leave the others to deal with the giant.”

In an instant, the wizards were gone. Grawp wasn’t alone though. The wizards were gone, but the creatures they left behind were beginning to beat at his legs with clubs. He raised a leg and knew just how to deal with them.

“Professor,” Harry said as Dumbledore walked toward him, “I want to take the D.A. into the forest. The death eaters are attacking Grawp.”

“Relax,” Dumbledore said calmly. “The death eaters have already apparated closer to Hogwarts. We’ll make our stand here at the castle.”

“What about the other creatures that were with the death eaters?” Harry asked.

“Grawp has that under control,” Dumbledore said just as a dark spot appeared above the forest.

Everyone watched as the spot grew larger. It was coming in their general direction, but was angled more toward the lake. Seconds later, it landed with an enormous splash in the middle of the lake.

“Was that what I think it was?” Hermione asked.

“Indeed it was, Hermione,” Dumbledore said.

“I’m glad Grawp is on our side,” Ron said. “Anyone who can toss a troll that far is not someone I want fighting against me.”

Ten minutes later, the death eaters walked to the edge of the forest to find the path to the castle unblocked.

“Something doesn’t feel right to me,” Malfoy said.

“What do you mean?” Bellatrix asked.

“The dementors should have attacked by now,” Malfoy answered.

“We knew there was the possibility they might find some way to repel them,” Bellatrix said. “This is exactly what we were expecting to find. Either the dememtors would have killed everyone by now, or they would have been driven away. Everyone is probably inside celebrating right now. We’ll take them by surprise.”

“With the noise that giant made when we stumbled across it?” Malfoy asked. “They could have been in the deepest recesses of the dungeons and heard that.”

“Maybe they evacuated the castle then,” Bellatrix said. “Either way, we won’t know until we get in there and check it out. So, let’s get going.”

“Fine,” Malfoy said. “Let’s go. We’ll enter through the courtyard. Quietly.”

“I can’t believe this works,” Ron said as he and the rest of the D.A. stood in the middle of the grounds and watched the death eaters stream out of the forest. “I can’t believe we can stand right here in plain sight and they can’t see or hear us at all.”

“Concealment charms have always been a bit of a specialty of mine,” Dumbledore said. “I must say that I was a bit of a terror with them while I was a student here.”

“I’m glad I didn’t find that out any sooner,” Ron said. “I would have been paranoid around here for years if I had.”

“They’re almost to the courtyard, Professor,” Harry said.

“That they are,” Dumbledore responded. “Go ahead and move into position everyone. Good luck.”

The closer to the castle he moved, the more uneasy Malfoy became. It appeared that they were taking them by surprise, but something was nagging at his mind. He had to stay focused though. They were just about to enter the courtyard, and beyond that lay the castle.

Malfoy flattened himself against the stone wall that surrounded the courtyard and took a quick glance inside. It appeared to be as empty as the rest of the grounds. Malfoy entered the courtyard followed by Bellatrix and Dolohov, but they stopped dead in their tracks when the next death eater tried to enter.

Some kind of barrier had gone up that was preventing any other death eaters from getting in. To Malfoy’s dismay, it was also keeping them from getting back out. It was a trap.

“You don’t really want to leave so soon do you, father,” Draco said.

The death eaters spun around to see Draco standing there where he had not been before. Beside him were Neville Longbottom, Drew Caldwell, and four other students none of them recognized.

At the same time, death eaters outside of the courtyard ran for cover as students and teachers appeared out of nowhere and began showering them with stunning spells.

“What do you think you’re doing, Draco?” Malfoy asked.

“Something you taught me long ago,” Draco said with a grin. “Cut off the head and the body almost always dies. The head is trapped here in the courtyard, while the body is being killed on the grounds.”

“This is all Dumbledore could send to try to defeat us?” Bellatrix asked. “You must be as mad as your parents, Longbottom, if you think you can stand against me.”

“The question is,” Neville began in all seriousness, “can you stand against me if you can’t use your favorite spell.”

“We’ll see about that,” Bellatrix said as she instantly brought her wand up. “Crucio.”

Neville just stood there and looked at Bellatrix with a smile and said, “I hope that isn’t the best you’ve got.”

“Impossible,” Bellatrix screamed.

“I’ve been preparing for this moment since we met in the Department of Mysteries a few years ago,” Neville said. “I’ve had someone apply that spell to me nearly every day for the past two years. It turns out that, over time, you can build up a resistance to the pain that spell causes.”

No more words were necessary. The students were instantly on the defensive as the death eaters launched into a hard pressing attack. Draco stood toe to toe with his father. Neville took joy in showing Bellatrix how much Harry’s D.A. class had taught him. Dolohov had his hands full as the five younger students fanned out around him. Inside the courtyard, the war was raging.

Outside the courtyard, things were not looking good for the death eaters. They had been caught by surprise, and the level of resistance they met initially had been enough to knock nearly half of their number out of action almost right away. Without any of their leaders to tell them what to do, their ranks fell into chaotic individual battles instead of an organized effort. All too quickly, their numbers dropped significantly.

“I thought you wanted to kill me,” Draco said as he launched a nasty spell at his father that just barely missed its mark. “Come on then. You can do better than that.”

“Accio wand,” Dolohov screamed, wrenching the wand out of Drew’s hand before he could grasp it tighter.
Dolohov pointed his own wand at Drew and lined him up for the kill. It was a time when his focus did not serve him well though. He was never able to utter a syllable before he was hit with a stunning spell and a binding charm from Drew’s team members. He toppled over immediately and was out of the fight.

“Well, baby Neville has learned some new tricks,” Bellatrix said as she sent a battering blow to Neville’s shield.

“You haven’t seen all of them yet,” Neville said as he sent a spell back at her that nearly knocked her off her feet. “Keep your eyes open. You’re about to see five more.”

Bellatrix realized too late what he was talking about. Drew sent out a spell to negate her shield, while three of his teammates sent stunning spells a fraction of a second later. The last person had her wrapped in a binding before she ever hit the ground.

“Surrender while you can,” Draco said. “Take a look around you. There is no way out for you. Even if you defeat me, the others are more than capable of taking you down.”

“I’ll see you dead first traitor,” Malfoy screamed as he rushed Draco and got a knee in the gut for it.

Draco performed a binding spell that pinned Malfoy’s arms at his side before he said, “I’m not going to kill you. I want you to sit in Azkaban and think about the mistakes you’ve made.”

“I can think of one that I made many years ago,” Malfoy said nastily as he looked up as Draco.

“There are some mistakes you just can’t take back,” Draco said. “By the way, Harry and I are getting along great now. Cassidy and I may even visit him at the Burrow this summer.”

“It was that mudblood who ruined you in the first place,” Malfoy said.

“You may want to change your views on that,” Draco said. “If she agrees to it, she’ll be your daughter-in-law someday.”

“Not likely,” Malfoy said with a grin. “When the Dark Lord comes, he’ll free me and kill your little mudblood girlfriend.”

“He’ll have to get past Harry first,” Draco said. “From what I’ve seen lately, he had better be at the top of his game.”

“The Dark Lord is all powerful,” Malfoy said through gritted teeth. “No wizard can defeat him.”

“We’ll see,” Draco said with a grin. “Remember, Harry was the one that trained all of us to defeat you.”

Draco walked through the barrier closing off the courtyard and surveyed the grounds around him. He was amazed it had worked so well. In less than fifteen minutes, a bunch of students were able to defeat the most feared group of fighters in the world. Every single death eater that had been outside the courtyard had been stunned, seriously wounded, or forced to surrender. Bindings were being put around those who had been stunned.

Draco looked up and saw that the Dark Mark had been cast over the forbidden forest. He spotted Harry, and could see that he was rubbing his forehead while he talked to Dumbledore and Snape. He walked in that direction.

“It’s him alright,” Harry said. “He’s close by. Not far into the forest.”

“The courtyard is taken care of, Professor Dumbledore,” Draco said as he walked up.

“Thank you, Draco,” Dumbledore said. “Nice work.”

“Is that Voldemort you’re talking about, Harry?” Draco asked.

“Yes,” Harry confirmed. “I would have found him sooner, but I shut down my mental connection to him so my scar wouldn’t hurt when we were fighting the death eaters.”

“Have any of you seen Cassidy?” Draco asked.

“The battle scattered over a fairly wide area,” Snape said. “I believe Cassidy was helping with the binding. She may have wondered around the corner of the castle.”

“Thanks, Professor,” Draco said as he took off to look for Cassidy.

“I think he’s just waiting for me to come and find him,” Harry said. “I’ll bet he sent up the Dark Mark to lure me into the forest.”

“It would be foolish to do so,” Snape said.

“I agree,” Dumbledore said. “If this battle must happen, you can’t let him dictate the terms.”

“I don’t plan to,” Harry said.

“Send the aurors into the forest to look for him,” Snape said. “That is their job after all.”

“I think the aurors have their hands full until a group from the ministry can get here to take charge of all of the prisoners,” Dumbledore said.

“Voldemort isn’t that patient,” Harry said. “It won’t take him long to come looking for me. I think it would be a good idea to start moving people back into the castle as soon as possible.”

“We can try, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “I don’t know how much good it will do, but we can try.”

“Are you alright, Harry?” Ginny asked as she walked over.

“Ginny,” Draco said in a near panic before Harry could answer. “Have you seen Cassidy? I’ve looked everywhere.”

“The last time I saw her she was using a binding spell on a death eater near the forest,” Ginny said.

Draco’s eyes went wide with horror as he looked to the forest and then to the Dark Mark in the sky.

Harry was thinking the same thing as Draco, near tears, said, “Please, Harry. Help me find her.”

Harry knew what he had to do as he nodded and said, “Well it looks as if Voldemort is going to get what he wants after all.”

They were all silent for a few seconds until Dumbledore said, “Be careful, Harry.”

Harry nodded and began to walk off toward the forest, but stopped when he noticed that Draco was walking with him.

“Stay here, Draco,” Harry said. “Trust me; I’ll bring her back to you. It’s me he wants.”

“I would go with you, you know,” Draco said as the tears ran down his face. “She means everything to me, Harry.”

“I know,” Harry said. “I know.”

Harry had only taken another fifteen steps before he saw something that made him stop. Cassidy was walking out of the forest just ahead of him, and he didn’t like the look in her eye.

“Cassidy!” Draco exclaimed as he started running for the forest.

Harry turned and stuck out his hand and said, “Stop, Draco. Something isn’t right.”

“Don’t bother going after Voldemort, Harry,” Cassidy said as she continued to walk toward him. “I just
killed him myself.”

“Really,” Harry said flatly.

“I just killed the Dark Lord himself, and that still won’t be enough will it?” Cassidy asked. “I’m still going to have to take a back seat in the headlines to the ‘Famous Harry Potter’.

“That isn’t true,” Harry said.

“Isn’t it?” Cassidy asked angrily. “There will always be that thought on everyone’s minds. ‘She killed Voldemort, but could she have really beaten Harry Potter.’”

“No one will ever say that,” Harry said as he clutched his wand tighter.

“I’ll say it!” Cassidy screamed as she brought her wand up and shot a spell at Harry that he dodged easily.

“Cassidy, no!” Draco yelled as she shot another spell that Harry blocked with a shield.

Harry sent his own spell toward Cassidy that went well wide of its mark, but made her sidestep anyway.

Cassidy shot off two spells for every one that Harry sent her way. Cassidy’s spells hit Harry’s shield, but all of Harry’s shots went just wide enough to tell those who knew him that he wasn’t really trying to hit her at all. Slowly, but surely, Harry got closer and closer to Cassidy. When he was no more than three meters from her, Harry shot a spell so close to hitting her that she momentarily lost her balance trying to dodge it.

In that moment, Harry charged for Cassidy and grabbed her from behind as he pointed his wand at the ground and said, “Valaya atra saikata.”

The last of the sand had barely hit the ground when the air around Harry and Cassidy flared into a bright red. Cassidy collapsed into Harry’s arms as he lowered her to the ground.

“I’m so sorry, Harry,” Cassidy whispered. “I should have listened to you. I was no match for him. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t stop myself.”

“I know,” Harry said soothingly. “It’s over now. You’re safe from his mind control inside of this circle. Just rest.”

Draco ran over to the circle where Harry was holding Cassidy and asked, “What happened?”

“She went after Voldemort and he took control of her mind in order to make her attack me,” Harry said. “Go ahead and step into the circle.”

Draco walked right through the red colored air that surrounded Harry and Cassidy.

“Stay here with her,” Harry said as he passed Cassidy into Draco’s arms. “No matter what, don’t leave this circle.”

“What are you going to do?” Draco asked.

“Find him,” Harry said seriously as he stood to go.

“Harry,” Draco said just before Harry walked out of the circle. “Thanks.”

“Draco,” Harry said, “if anything should happen to me… Ginny…”

“I’ll do what I can for her,” Draco said. “Be careful.”

Harry nodded and walked outside the protection of the circle.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Harry,” Voldemort said from the darkness of the tree line.

“How have you been, Tom?” Harry asked.

“Never call me that,” Voldemort demanded.

“I think I can,” Harry said. “You see, I was on a first name basis with your sixteen year old personality you left in your diary. If anyone has, I’ve earned the right to call you by your real name.”

“I left that life behind many years ago,” Voldemort said taking a few steps out of the forest.

“I see you’ve gotten to experience part of my life,” Harry said looking at the scar on Voldemort’s forehead.

“It’s not something I’m very happy about,” Voldemort said with a warning in his voice.

“That makes two of us then,” Harry said. “Why don’t you surrender now, Tom? Your army is all but destroyed. There isn’t any reason to fight anymore.”

“You don’t understand me at all do you, Harry?” Voldemort asked.

“Better than you might think actually,” Harry said with a grin.

“You gave me the chance to surrender, and I refused,” Voldemort said inching closer. “Now I’ll ask you to join me and we can rule the world together.”

“Not a chance,” Harry said. “I guess that means we have to fight then.”

“So be it,” Voldemort said as he quickly raised his wand and cast a spell.

Harry guessed what he was up to and cast a spell back at Voldemort at the same time. As had happened before, a thin golden line connected the tips of their two wands.

“Does this look familiar to you, Tom?” Harry asked. “Priori incantatum. We’ll sit here like this all night if we don’t work out a strategy for this duel. Our wands contain a feather from the same phoenix. We can’t attack each other at the same time. We’ll have to take turns. One attacks while the other defends.”

“Very well,” Voldemort said as he broke the connection. “So who should go first?”

“Well I thought…” Harry began.

Before Harry could finish his thought, Voldemort hit him with a spell that tore up the ground between them and tossed Harry back to where all of the teachers and students stood watching.

Voldemort laughed evilly as he walked closer to where Harry had landed. He stopped when the dark landscape between them was suddenly awash with light. Looking up, he saw a dozen glowing renditions of Harry’s head that the students had cast into the sky looking back down at him.

Harry got to his feet and said, “Not bad, Tom. I take it you wanted to go first. Now it’s my turn.”

Voldemort barely got a shield up in time as Harry’s spell slammed into him and knocked him back into the forbidden forest. Voldemort pried himself away from the tree he had landed against, and ran back into the open with a boiling temper. He scanned the area Harry had just been in, but he was nowhere to be seen. Looking to his left, he spotted Harry walking slowly away from the crowd and watching his every move.

Voldemort walked to within ten meters of Harry before unleashing his next attack. A stream of fire spewed continually from the end of his wand, and washed all around Harry.

Voldemort thought that Harry must have been fried to a crisp, but Harry appeared out of thin air behind him and said, “My turn.”

This time, Voldemort didn’t get a shield up in time, as Harry’s spell sliced a deep gash across his left shoulder, and he grunted loudly out of both pain and frustration.

“You’ll pay for that,” Voldemort seethed.

“It’s your turn,” Harry said. “Stop holding back and show me what you’ve got.”

Voldemort vanished momentarily before reappearing behind Harry and shooting a spell at his back. Even the powerful shield Harry had up was not enough to completely block the cutting spell that made a diagonal cut from the base of his left shoulder to his right hip.

Harry hadn’t had time to recover from the cut before he felt his feet lift off of the ground as he was shot toward the lake and dropped in. Another powerful spell from Voldemort caused the entire lake to freeze over completely in a layer of ice more than thirty centimeters thick, trapping Harry beneath.

There was a collective gasp from the crowd of teachers and students that were watching as Voldemort let out a malicious laugh.

“Harry!” Ginny screamed, causing Voldemort to turn to look at her.

“Ahh,” Voldemort said as she walked closer, “Harry’s little girlfriend. Have you suffered enough yet? Are you ready to admit that there is no one who can stand against Lord Voldemort?”

“I’ll stand against you,” Ginny said through her sobs.

“Then I will kill you next,” Voldemort said with a twisted grin.

“You’ll have to go through me first,” Ron said as he stepped in front of Ginny.

“And me,” Hermione said as she stepped next to Ron.

“You’ll have to go through all of us,” Dumbledore said as he, the aurors and order members put themselves between Voldemort and the students.

“Old fool,” Voldemort said with a chuckle. “You know that even you are no match for me. Release my death eaters and we will depart to fight another day.”

“I think not,” Dumbledore said seriously. “One way or another, it will end here tonight.”

“Are you man enough to face me alone, old man,” Voldemort asked, “or must I destroy all of you at once?”

“That will have to wait,” Harry said as he appeared, still somewhat wet, behind Voldemort. “I’m not done with you yet.”

Voldemort turned with surprise at hearing Harry’s voice, and barely vanished in time as Harry conjured a deadly wall of impaling spikes that fell in the spot where he had just stood.

“I’m surprised at you, Harry,” Voldemort said as he reappeared just seven meters to Harry’s right. “I didn’t think you were capable of such a viscous attack.”

“You have no idea what I’m capable of,” Harry said as he shot another spell at Voldemort that cut through his shield and placed a long cut along his right jaw line.

“You’ll pay for that,” Voldemort said as he shot a spell at Harry.

Harry’s shield blocked the attack and Harry immediately sent a spell back at Voldemort that knocked him backwards and strained his shield to it’s maximum. Harry then sent another spell that Voldemort dodged.

“You’re not playing fair, Harry,” Voldemort said as he shot off a spell that Harry deflected into the forest. “We’re supposed to be taking turns.”

“The way you were when you dumped me in the lake you mean?” Harry asked as he sent another spell that Voldemort countered.

“You aren’t still upset about that are you?” Voldemort asked as Harry sidestepped his hex.

“I’ll get over it,” Harry said. “Threatening to kill my girlfriend may stick with me for a while though.”

Voldemort stumbled back as part of a spell from Harry made it through his shield and collided with his chest. He was still gasping for air when Harry’s next spell turned the ground he was standing on to a pool of molten lava. He was barely able to jump out of the way before his feet started to burn.

There was no time for him to recover though as Harry reigned a barrage of spells down on him that he was hard pressed to defend against. There was a brief moment when he got the chance to shoot a spell back at Harry, but Harry countered it immediately.

Voldemort was just about to set up for another spell when he noticed that Harry had his wand clasped between his hands raised above his head. Almost too late, he realized what Harry was about to do.

Harry brought his hands down and sent a blast of super chilled air directly at Voldemort, who vanished again just before the spell reached him.

Harry heard screams off to his left, and looked to see the crowd parting. A corridor opened between Harry and Voldemort.

“What will you do now, Harry?” Voldemort asked as he held Rachael from behind. “Your feelings have always been your weakness.”

“What would you know about feelings?” Harry asked as he looked into Rachael’s terrified eyes.

“Enough to know that you’ll do anything I say to keep me from hurting this girl,” Voldemort said with an ugly grin. “Have I picked one that you know? One that you care about? For her sake the answer had better be yes.”

“You can’t stop, Harry,” Rachael said through her tears. “You taught us that on the first day. We both know what you have to do. Just do it.”

Harry raised his wand as Voldemort said, “You’re bluffing. You wouldn’t take the chance of hurting your little friend.”

“You’re right,” Harry said as he uttered a spell that shot from his wand and hit Rachael in the center of her chest.

For a split second, no one breathed. For a moment, they all thought Harry had lost his mind. Their minds all struggled to catch up even as their eyes watched Rachael shrink and slide from Voldemort’s grasp as she was transfigured into a mouse.

Rachael scurried away quickly as Harry drew back his wand and muttered an incantation under his breath. When his arm came forward, a powerful force erupted from the end of his wand that those lining the corridor felt as it passed by. Voldemort realized too late what was happening, and had his shield only half completed when the spell collided with his body and threw him hard into the stone wall of the castle.

Voldemort fell to the ground in a daze as blood streamed from his mouth. The next thing he felt was the searing pain in his forehead that kept getting stronger and stronger. He finally realized what was happening and collected himself enough to push Harry back out of his mind.

“Accio wand,” Harry said, causing Voldemort to realize that he had dropped his wand when he hit the wall.

Harry caught the wand in his left hand and stared at it for a moment. He could feel the gentle pull, and he somehow knew what he had to do.

Harry placed Voldemort’s wand in his right hand along with his own. Almost instantly, the two wands twisted around one another and joined to form a new single wand. A wand with the power of two phoenix feathers at its core. Harry had to marvel at the wonder of it. The two different woods spiraled together gracefully as one wand. Fawks’ tail feathers were reunited once again.

“So, what do you say, Tom?” Harry asked. “First no army, and now no wand. Are you ready to surrender yet?”

Voldemort spit blood out of his mouth before he looked back at Harry and said, “I’ll get my wand back soon enough. I don’t need a wand to kill you, Harry.”

Voldemort vanished suddenly, and Harry ran out onto the grounds to search for where he had gone in case he was trying to escape. Voldemort reappeared in the center of the grounds, standing, though hunched noticeably.

“That wand won’t do you much good now, Harry,” Voldemort said as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Seconds later, it was plain to Harry exactly what Voldemort had meant. Once again, Harry was going to have to face a basilisk. It was one of the few animals who were nearly impervious to wand magic.

Screams rang out from some of the students, and the teachers once again tried to make them go inside. Of course, almost no one moved. They were witnessing the battle that the wizarding world had been waiting sixteen years for, and nothing short of death was going to make them miss it.

The basilisk immediately slithered straight for Harry. Harry tried to hit it with a wand spell, but it just turned and let the spell impact on it’s skin before continuing the attack. Harry ran to draw the basilisk further away from the crowd, and nearly met his end, as Voldemort cut him off and nearly bit his head off.

Luckily for Harry, he was able to vanish and reappear on the other side of the grounds. As Voldemort slithered toward him again, he wondered which one of them would drop from exhaustion first. Somehow, Harry wasn’t liking his chances.

Several times, it proceeded the same way. Then Harry made a critical mistake. He had become too predictable in the distance he would move when he vanished. He reappeared after too long a time, and wasn’t in time to defend against the basilisk tail that was swinging directly for him. It hit Harry squarely in the chest and sent him flying ten meters through the air with a hard landing. He wasn’t even able to stand up again before he had to roll quickly to the side to avoid the basilisk’s snapping jaws

Harry made it to his feet and started to run, but the tail swung around again and pounded him hard in the back. Harry went for another flight, but was able to roll through his landing to come to a stop at the feet of the students.

“You have to do it now, Harry,” Ginny said as she ran to him from the crowd. “I know you don’t want to, but it may be your only chance. Please, Harry. Do it for me.”

Harry knew exactly what Ginny was talking about. He stood up and ran a safe distance out onto the grounds. On the way there, he calmed his thoughts. It was a creature he did not want to become, but Ginny had asked it of him, and he refused her nothing.

‘Animagia transforma,’ Harry thought. Harry’s transformation began, and everyone watched in amazement. Even Voldemort stopped half way to his target out of surprise.

Harry had never felt so powerful in his life. The creature he was becoming had unimaginable strength. Harry kept his eyes closed through the entire transformation, but he could tell the instant it was complete. He felt strange. Not like he had expected. Harry raised his head and stretched out his… wings?

“Yeah!” Ron exclaimed as he looked at what his friend had become.

“Oh, my…” McGonagal began but was never able to finish.

“Wicked,” was the response of several of those present.

“Interesting,” Dumbledore said as if he had not been totally surprised.

“’es beu’iful,” Hagrid said in awe.

There before them all stood an extremely large dragon with bluish white scales, and gigantic wings that were being flexed experimentally. The dragon looked over at them and they could all see the brilliant green eyes staring down on them.

Ginny stepped forward and yelled, “I love you, Harry Potter. Now get in there and kick his bum."

The reaction they all saw from the dragon was something they could only interpret as a smile. Doing otherwise, considering the size of the razor sharp teeth that were exposed, would seem almost gruesome.

Harry compressed his body closer to the ground before launching himself upwards with a spread of his wings. It was a magnificent feeling for Harry, and quite a show for those still on the ground.

Harry wasted no time in locating his target. Voldemort was coiled up in the spot where he had stopped to watch Harry transform. Harry sped toward the basilisk and opened his mouth to deliver a fire blast as he glided overhead.

Voldemort was annoyed by the fire he took in the face, but he stayed focused, and as Harry passed overhead he propelled his snake body as high into the sky as he could get. One bite is all it would take for the poison to begin killing Harry. On this attempt anyway, he was just short as Harry raised his tail to avoid the bite.

Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to avoid direct confrontation forever. His fire attack would only act as a diversion. Somehow, he was going to have to get a good bite on Voldemort without giving him the same opportunity.

Harry made a wide circle before coming back on his next attack run. Just as before, he could see that Voldemort was coiling for another jump. Harry gave Voldemort a face full of fire once again as he passed a little closer, but as Voldemort jumped, Harry turned his agile dragon body into a vertical dive for the ground. Voldemort jumped past him as he righted himself just short of the ground and used his powerful wings to keep him in the air as he reached out with the sharp claws on his feet and caught Voldemort’s tale.

Harry flapped his wings as hard as he could and Volemort was jerked upside down as Harry carried him high into the air. Voldemort began to fold himself in half and slither up his own body in an effort to get to Harry, but before he could, Harry let go of him.

Voldemort hit the ground with a sickening crash and lay still. Harry circled him for some time trying to determine if he was actually dead. Somehow he doubted that the fall would have killed him, but it may have knocked him out sufficiently for Harry to sneak in and get a good bite on him. Harry landed and walked toward Voldemort slowly looking for any signs of movement. He was well within range when he got his answer.

The basilisk suddenly came to life and wrapped itself around Harry in a powerful grip and pinned his wings so he couldn’t fly away. Harry knew the head would be coming in for the kill very soon, so he decided to see just how powerful his dragon body was. Harry put all the force he could muster into expanding his wings and pushing outwards with his short but powerful arms. He could feel the basilisk’s muscles giving way, and just as the head came into view, Harry burst free.

The head was still coming for him, but Harry reached out and wrapped his mighty hands around the snake just behind the jaw and clapped down hard. Voldemort couldn’t move his head around enough to get a bite on Harry. Harry had him where he wanted him, but that might not last. So, he had to take the advantage while he could.

Harry again spread his wings and launched himself into the air with Voldemort. Once he was high enough, Harry swung a foot up and caught the sharp talons on Voldemort’s snake body. With a powerful thrust, they punctured deep inside the body. Harry dragged his foot downwards and sliced open three long gashes that spilled blood profusely.

Harry could feel Voldemort’s strength waning. He knew that he was doomed. He swooped down out of the sky and dropped the bloodied basilisk on the ground. Harry wanted nothing more than to rip him apart at that moment. He had to be made to pay for all of the pain he had caused. Harry knew just how to do it.

Harry landed back on the ground and changed back into himself once again. Voldemort had also returned to his natural form after hitting the ground. Harry walked near him and pulled a bottle out of his robes along with his new wand.

“I’ve been carrying this around for months just in case I ran into you,” Harry said as he held out the small bottle. “I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.”

“I am Lord Voldemort,” Voldemort said as he lay dying.

“You are Tom Riddle,” Harry yelled, unable to contain the anger that was brewing in him. “You are the lord of nothing and no one now.”

“I will survive,” Voldemort said defiantly. “I am the greatest wizard that ever lived.”

“Not for long,” Harry said as he held up the bottle and pointed his wand at it. “Transpotata internalimay Voldemort.”

“What have you done?” Voldemort asked as he clutched at his wounds.

“Made you into what you hate the most,” Harry said. “Now I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you died as a muggle and I’m going to speed that death along for you a little more. Accio sword.”

Harry raised his hand and waited. Seconds later everyone could see the light reflecting off of a sword as it descended toward Harry. Harry closed his hand on the sword, and prepared to swing it at Voldemort.

“Harry, stop!” Ginny cried as she ran over to him. One look in his eyes was enough to tell her that he had given in to the dark thoughts that were a part of him. “Harry, listen to me. This isn’t you. It’s the part of Voldemort that you have inside of you that’s making you want to do this. Fight it, Harry. Calm your mind. Remember who you are.”

Ginny reached out and touched his hand, and it all became suddenly clear. It was true. Tom Riddle wasn’t a threat to anyone anymore. He had already seen to that. He was dying.

Harry dropped the sword, and pulled Ginny into a hug instead. He tried to convince himself that it was finally over, but he knew that it wasn’t. There was a human being laying there dying on the ground. Harry knew him better than anyone. Part of him was part of Harry.

Harry led Ginny over to where Tom Riddle lay bleeding, and he knelt down as he said, “I can’t do anything to stop you from dying, but I’ll stay with you until you do. You don’t have to be alone.”

“I’ve been alone all of my life,” Voldemort said.

“I know,” Harry said. “I wouldn’t wish your life on anyone. You’ve spent your entire life seeking power. All those years you just never knew where to look for it. I didn’t find it until this year. I’d like you to experience it just once before you die.”

Harry took hold of Ginny’s hand once again, and the familiar power of their love coursed through him. Harry placed his other hand into Voldemort’s.

As soon as Harry opened the mental channel that would let Tom Riddle experience what he was feeling, Tom took in a sharp breath, and his eyes seemed to soften slightly. It was only seconds later that tears began to trickle down his face for the first time since his childhood.

“Harry…” Voldemort said as his life was ending. “I… never… knew.”

“I know, Tom,” Harry said softly. “Just rest.”

With that, Tom Riddle closed his eyes for the last time.

“Harry?” Ron said softly as he and Hermione walked close to them. “Are you alright?”

“It’s over, Ron,” Harry said. “He’s dead.”

“Yeah,” Ron said. “I’m sorry, Harry. I know it can’t be easy to kill another person.”

“It isn’t,” Harry said as he stood and put his arms around Ginny again and buried his head in her shoulder.

“It’s a terrible thing to ask a person to do to another,” Dumbledore said as he walked into range of the group. “Hopefully none of us will ever have to do that again.”

“Do you want us to leave you alone for awhile, Harry?” Hermione asked.

“No,” Harry said as he took his tear stained face away from Ginny’s shoulder. “You’re here because you care. Tom Riddle was the way he was because he thought no one cared about him. I don’t want you to ever leave me alone. I always have time for my friends.”

“I think you have a few more that are anxious to congratulate you, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “I know it isn’t exactly praise you’re looking for right now, but…”

“I know,” Harry said. “They have to get it out somehow. I just can’t do it for long. This cut on my back is going to need Madame Pomfrey soon.”

“I’ll bring your dinner up to the hospital wing for you, Harry,” Ron said as they were walking back and nearing where the teachers were having a hard time holding the students back. “I’d hate to see the kind of attention you’d be in for in the Great Hall tonight.”

“Oh my goodness!” Harry exclaimed. “I forgot. I haven’t done my last N.E.W.T. yet.”

Examiner Marchbanks was close enough to hear what Harry said, so she walked over to him and said, “Harry, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I think what we just witnessed would be enough to pass what ever dueling test we wanted to give you. By the way, impressive animagus form. Somehow I don’t think it would do any good to put it on that secret list. Not now that a few hundred students know about it. It’ll be on the front page by tomorrow.”

“I know,” Harry said with a smile. “I’ve been on the front page before. Hopefully this will be the last time.”

“Somehow I doubt that,” Ron said.

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