Harry came awake as a large finger poked him on the shoulder for the second time. “What time is it,” he asked Hagrid, who had come up to wake him.
“It’s four thirty, come on we’ll be late startin’,” Hagrid said.
Harry put his glasses on and looked at his friend. “Hagrid, what time did you get up?”
“Ah, I never went to bed, I stayed up watchin’ the castle.” Hagrid confessed. “I didn’t wan’ any left over death eaters to come in, since the main doors still can’t close properly, like.”
Harry laced up his trainers and followed Hagrid out of his dorm door. They walked in silence until they were standing in a small clearing between the forbidden forest and the lake. Hagrid pointed out a large stone slab some 4 by 4 meters in size. In the center of the slab rested a large pyre of wood. When Harry saw that everything was already set he turned to Hagrid with a questioning look on his face.
“I ‘ad some free time last night so I thought I’d put this together,” Hagrid said, scratching his head as if he was wondering if what he had done was all right with Harry.
“This is just what we need, there’s enough wood here to make sure that everything will be properly consumed by the fire,” Harry said as he looked over the completed funeral pyre.
On the way back to the castle to retrieve Tom’s corpse, Harry came to a decision. “Hagrid, I’m sorry for what I had to do yesterday, but I couldn’t take the chance of Tom realizing that I was still alive, I just felt that I had no other option,” Harry explained quietly.
“ Arry, don’t ever do that to me again. I don’t think me heart could take something like that again. I’m getting to old for that type of stress. I thought we were done for. But when I looked over and saw that your body weren’t there where I had dropped it, I knew we would win. I just knew it” Hagrid told him as they reached the main doors.
Hagrid and Harry entered into the side room where the bodies were kept. Hagrid went over and pulled the top of the shroud that covered Tom’s body down enough to make sure it was truly him. Tom laid there, a definite bluish grey tint to his face. “Looking at ‘im now doesn’t show ‘im as the wizard that caused such fear and destruction for so many years. It’s too bad. He could ‘ave been a great wizard, if he had stayed straight,” Hagrid Mused.
“He had his chance, Hagrid, everyone has his chance. Tom chose to abuse the power he was blessed with. I saw what becomes of someone that does the things that Tom has done. If everyone could see it as well, no one would ever do anything that even approximates what Tom did,” Harry whispered a sound of awe in his voice.
Harry lifted his wand and Tom’s body floated off the floor and preceded them out the door. They walked in silence, once again, back to the clearing. Harry set Tom’s body down on the pyre and checked to see that all was ready for the last time. He didn’t want anything to go wrong. Then, using his wand, Harry set powerful wards up around the four sides of the slab before he turned to Hagrid.
“I intend on not letting anything of Tom’s escape from here. When I’m finished there’s only going to be ash left.” With this said, Harry pointed his wand at the pyre and verbally intoned, “Conflagration Maxima!” Immediately, great gouts of flame shot form his wand and completely engulfed Tom’s body. The heat was so intense that Hagrid and Harry had to step back and out of the immediate area.
As the breeze from the lake caught the thick noxious smoke Hagrid pushed Harry to the right. “ya don’ wana be down wind of a stench like that , trust me,” Hagrid said without taking his eyes off the body.
Both men watched as Tom’s arms and legs started to move. His eyes opened and his mouth stretched out into what looked like a scream. Tom sat strait up and lay back down then back up again. Harry’s mouth fell open. “Avada...” he went to say, but Hagrid slapped his hand over Harry’s mouth.
"No don’t!! He’s dead! ‘Tis the heat effecting the humors and juices in the body,” he said as he removed his hand from Harry’s mouth. “Ya don’ wana use that curse on a dead body, Harry. In some cases it can rebound on the one who cast it,” Hagrid explained further as he moved Harry around the fire again as the wind changed direction.
“Thanks Hagrid, I really thought he was coming back to life. I guess I’m more jumpy then before. I can’t seem to relax. When he started moving my heart almost stopped,” Harry gasped as if he had been running a race.
“We’re all gona be jumpy for a while, I reckon. We’ve been at war for a long time and ya’ can’t just turn it off when the war is over,” Hagrid finished. “Last time it took me several years and I still didn’t become comfortable enough to say Tom’s name.”
For the next several hours Harry and Hagrid swept the burning embers and ash back into the pyre until Tom had been reduced to a pile of fine grey ash.
“Arry, what are we gona put im in now e’s just ash?” Hagrid asked. “I don’ know of a cremation urn large enough to hold all this –waste-.”
Harry looked at Hagrid, it had never occurred to him, what he was going to use after the cremation. He looked back at the castle, thinking of what could be done.
The last flames flickered down on the center of the coals and ash. Harry stood there watching the last of Tom. An idea struck Harry, “Kreacher,” Harry called. His elf appeared with a Pop.
“Yes, Master Harry, what do you need,” Kreacher bowed as he inquired of his master.
“Do you have any large, empty jars in the kitchen that you don’t need?" Harry asked.
Kreacher thought for a moment. “Would a pickle jar do, Master?”
Harry though for a moment, “how big is this jar?” His house elf held his hand even with the bridge of his large, hooked, nose.
“That will be fine, could you get one and bring it to me please? Make sure its dry. I also need the cover,” Harry said.
Kreacher popped away and returned a couple of minutes later with the jar. “Thanks Kreacher, this will do fine,” Harry observed.
He took the jar and placed it near the pile of ash. Harry moved his wand in such a way that it developed a tornado like vortex that drew up all the ash and scrubbed the rock slab clean at the same time. He then placed the apex of his maelstrom over the opened mouth of the jar and compressed all the ash into the jar’s interior. Harry then sealed the cover so that the two parts became one. Using his wand, Harry levitated the jar to the waters edge; then he turned his attention to the slab. With Hagrid’s help he excavated a large hole in the ground and levitated the slab of rock into it. Both men covered over the hole and set a Fidelius charm about the area so that no one could ever find it again.
“Hagrid would you do me a favor?” Harry asked.
“O’ course, what do ya need?” Hagrid was willing to do anything to help Harry complete his task.
“Would you keep the urn in your cabin until later today, I don’t want it left out, if I can help it” Harry explained.
Hagrid stared at Harry. The idea that he would have Tom as a house guess for a while wasn’t his cup of tea, but he agreed to watch it.
The two men returned to the castle. Hagrid went off to his cabin to watch the urn, and Harry went off to the castle to find Neville.
When Harry entered the Great Hall, he was met by a certain red head. He hadn’t seen her coming until his vision was obscured by a wave of smooth, copper, cascade of hair. The kiss was fresh and persistent and lifted Harry’s spirits from the morose pit it had been in all morning long.
“Ginny!” Harry yelled as he caught her up around the waist and swung her around.
“It’s about time, Potter. I was beginning to think you wanted to be around Hagrid more then me,” she said.
“Let me finish doing what I have to do and then I’m yours forever, if you want,” Harry said as he blushed. “Have you seen Neville,” he whispered to her.
Ginny liked the way that his breath tickled in her ear. “Oh, my, what he does to me,” she thought to herself.
“I thought I saw him holding court at the far end of the Gryffindor table. He had his entourage with him,” she giggled.
“What do you mean?” he asked her.
“You’ll see, he’s become the hero of all the six year girls, except me, of course. I already have my hero,” she batted her eyes up at him and laughed as she saw what his reaction was like.
Harry gave her a quick kiss and headed off toward the large group of girls at the far end of the table. When he approached close enough, he saw Neville, still with the sword, talking about how and why he did what he had done. Luna sat next to him, her arm was around his waist, using body language to tell the other girls, “look but don’t touch. He’s mine.”
Harry smiled as he realized that Neville didn’t understand that he had been claimed. It would take time before the ramifications of what was happening now, would sink in. How far this would go Harry didn’t know but it was nice to see his friends coming together in what he hoped would be a long time relationship. After everything that they had gone through, this was a nice change. He couldn’t help feeling better about what would happen with the world now that Tom was truly gone.
“Neville, I hate to interrupt but could you help me for a minute,” Harry said.
“Sure Harry. What do you need?” Neville asked, with a hint of curiosity in his voice.
“Can I speak with you in private please?” Neville and Harry moved some distance away from the girls who were chatting and giggling amongst themselves. “Is there any way you could get me enough gilly weed to keep me under water for at least three hours. This is very important,” Harry said confidentially.
“Whoa, three hours, Harry beyond two and a half the transformation may become permanent,” Neville warned. “What are you doing that will keep you underwater for that long?” he asked.
“I’d rather not say, Neville, It’s very important and it’s best if no one else knows about it,” Harry warned. “All right then. Can I have enough for two hours?” Harry asked as he was trying to figure out how to do what he needed in the allotted time.
“Sure Harry, I’ll see what I can do,” Neville said, “see you at the lake.”
Harry had planned out what he was going to do but not how it was going to get done. As he headed out of the castle he ran into Hermione and Ron leaving the Great Hall.
“Harry, where are you going?” Hermione asked.
“I’d rather not say at this time, it has to do with Tom. What people don’t know won’t lead to him coming back. I have to go. I’ll see you later, all right?” Harry asked.
He walked out to Hagrid’s hut and collected Tom’s pot: as Harry had started to think of it. He then walked to the lakes edge to wait for Neville. Within a few minutes Harry spotted Neville and Luna coming toward him. “So much for trying to keep this quiet,” Harry thought. “Thanks Neville. Hello, Luna, I didn’t expect to see you here,” Harry said as he glanced at Neville with an accusatory look.
“I thought Luna could help, she has a good idea, you need to listen to her Harry,” Neville said in an apologetic tone of voice.
“Harry, if you’re going to put that urn underwater, you’re going to need to get one of the mermaids to help,” Luna said.
“Luna, how can I do that? I don’t know how to call them, and even if I could, I can’t speak mermish,” Harry said in exasperation.
“Oh, that’s easy,” Luna told him. “Last year, Daddy and I were looking for pangolins at a part of the lake up north from here. While we camped out near the lake I met and became friends with one of the young mermaids. She taught me how to talk mermish. It’s quite easy!”
“All right, how do you call them then?” asked Harry.
“Watch,” Luna said as she picked up a stone and threw it as far out into the lake as she could. She waited a minute and then threw out two more stones, and then she waited again and threw out three more stones. “Now we sit and wait,” she said as she pulled Neville down next to her and rested her head on his shoulder.
“How long?” Harry asked.
“Not long,” she replied.
Some five minutes later a head broke the surface of the lake close to where Luna had tossed the stones. Luna began to squeak and click in a high pitch sing song voice. After some discussion the mermaid swam toward shore.
“Harry, this is Mari. She knows of a place deep, deep down where no one goes too. She would be willing to take the great Harry Potter there. She also said that she’ll bring you back to shore after you’re done,” Luna explained.
Harry picked up Tom’s pot and waded out into the water. The temperature was still so cold that Harry’s legs and waist went numb as soon as he got them wet. He continued to wade out until he was chest deep, he then took out the gilly weed, ripped off half of the piece that Neville had given him. He looked at Mari and shoved the weed into his mouth and started chewing. Harry had just enough time to swallow his mouth full when the pain struck. He knew that gills were forming on the sides of his neck, and his hands and feet were developing web skin. He waved to his friends on shore and turned to the mergirl, “shall we go?” He slipped under the surface and was gone.
Mari came up to him and led him deeper toward the center of the lake. Harry took out his wand and held it in front of him as he moved along. He wasn’t going to take the chance of being attacked by the Grindylows. This was too important to take any chances. He clutched the pickle jar to his chest and started to swim as hard as he could.
Seeing the slow pace that Harry was setting caused Mari to come to his aid. The mergirl came up behind him and slipped her arms around his chest and started to propel them forward with the thrust of her tail. Harry had never experienced moving so quickly underwater before. He just opened his mouth and allowed the water to rush through his gills, oxygenating his blood in a way that it had never been done when he had been underwater the first time.
The color of the water changed as they traveled on. Harry could tell that they were getting deeper as time went by. He marveled at how fast they were able to progress on their trip. If he had tried to do this on his own, he knew he wouldn’t have gotten any where near this far in the time that had passed already.
Harry recognized some of the landscapes and could tell that the Mervillage was only a short way over the next rise. They continued on into the deeper realms of the lake. Some time later, Mari stopped and showed him the base of the cliff that reached the true bottom of the lake. He swam forward and found an area with several long dormant volcanic vents. This is what Harry had been looking for, to put Tom into. Near the base of the cliff, he spotted a vent hole that was just a little larger around than Tom’s pot. Harry illuminated the tip of his wand and looked into the vent opening. He saw that it descended down several dozen meters. He slid the jar into the mouth of the opening and let it go. It slowly bobbed and rocked back and fourth as it pushed the water in the tube out of the way as it descended. Harry could hear the jar tap the sides as it slid down into the depths of the vent. After several minutes had passed, the sound stopped, indicating that it had reached the bottom. Along with Mari, Harry floated back and aimed his wand at the cliff side above the vent. The spell that Harry cast caused several sections of the base of the cliff to collapse over the vent, sealing it up forever. Harry then placed another Fidelius charm over the area so that no one would ever find it again.
No sooner had Harry completed his task then he heard what sounded like a muffled cry. As he turned toward the sound, a large tentacle snapped around his waist. The giant squid had found the two of them in his territory and decided that they would make a tasty repast. The tentacle tightened around his waist and a burning sensation wrapped itself around Harry. Each sucker had a serrated edge and in the middle there existed a razor sharp claw that was cutting into his flesh. The ammonia produced by the squid shocked and burned Harry’s gills and kept him from using them properly.
The squid shortened its arms and pulled Harry toward its razor sharp beak. Harry shot a stunning spell at the beast several times to no avail. He was getting desperate, the pain was increasing and Harry was afraid of going into shock. The squid pulled Mari closer to its beak as well. She trashed and pulled, but all that did was to cause the suckers to dig in deeper into her flesh.
Harry shot streams of boiling hot water at the base of the tentacle that was holding the mergirl. The squid turned its attention on Harry and started to pull him in closer. He placed his flippered feet on either side of the squid’s beak, but knew he couldn’t hold out much longer. In a last desperate act Harry touched his wand to the point of the tentacle and body and focused all his energy on one last spell; Rictusempra!!! A brilliant silver light flared up from the tip of Harry’s wand.
Once his spell had been cast, he held on for dear life. At first, the squid didn’t seem to be effected but after a short time it stopped moving for several seconds. Slowly the squid’s skin started to change colors, white, then bright red, then camouflage to match the gravel color of the bottom, and then back to white. Harry watched as the color changes occurred faster and faster, the squid started to move its arms in and out, and up and down. With the passing of a few more seconds the squid started to exhibit spasms and convulsions on the spot. It started to slam Harry and Mari into the ground several times, and then violently pushed them away. The behemoth settled to the ground and continued to shake. Harry pointed his wand at its body and intoned in his head, “Finite Incantatem.” The squid shot off into the distance with a blast of ink as a parting shot.
Harry swam over to Mari; he could see she was badly hurt. Wisp of blood seeped out of the wounds and trailed off into the deep water currents. He used his wand and produced a jet of scalding hot water to cauterize the bleeding wounds around Mari’s torso and tail. Once this was done, he used the same technique on himself, gritting his teeth against the agony.
Harry put his arm around Mari’s waist and started to swim toward the village. He had gone only a few meters when his strength faulted. Resting on the bottom, Harry thought of what he could do to save them from their predicament. Taking his wand and pointing it back between his legs he cast the Aguamenti spell. The water jetting out of his wand acted as a propulsion device that pushed them forward. He had gone only a few meters when the water started gagging him, at first he didn’t realize what was happening until it dawned on him that it had been over an hour since he had ingested the gilly weed. Harry ended his spell and settled back to the bottom. He reached into his pocket and found that most of it had been torn off in the battle with the squid. Feeling around in the remains of his pocket he found a small piece of weed left in the bottom. Harry realized that he only had a few minutes left under water. Shoving the remains in his mouth, he chewed until he felt his gills functioning once again.
Mari began to chirp and squeak as loudly as she could. Harry thought that she was voicing his fears of dying. Within a few minutes he realized that she had been calling for help. There, coming at them, were three of the largest mermen Harry had ever seen.
The three came up and took hold of Mari, but Harry wouldn’t let her go. One of the three recognized him and began to chat and click quickly with the others. The two smaller mermen, each took Harry and Mari by the arms and started pulling them toward the village.
Harry pointed to Mari and to himself then pointed upward toward shore. At first, the three mermen didn’t understand, but when Harry pointed to the wounds on Mari and to the wounds on himself, they realized what he was telling them. They started pushing them up toward shore. The largest of the three came up in between and grabbed Harry and Mari by the arms and with the help of the other two started to very quickly move upwards. The small amount of gilly weed was finally wearing off just as Harry saw the bottom pitching upwards to the shoreline. The water was once again getting wet in Harry’s mouth; he knew he didn’t have much time left so he tried to gulp as much water to oxygenate his blood before his gills disappeared. Within a few seconds Harry’s head broke the surface of the lake. Fresh air flooded into his lungs with every gulp of air he took. Immediately Neville splashed out to grab Harry and pull him in to shore. Harry waved him off and gasped, “get Mari, she’s hurt! I’m all right. Luna can you go get Madame Pomfrey she has to help?” Neville pulled Mari into the shallows; he then went back and pulled Harry out of the water on to the shore. The three mermen floated just a short way off shore, waiting to see what would happen.
“What happened to the two of you?” Neville asked.
“We were attacked by the squid,” Harry was able to answer before darkness came up and claimed him.
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