HP vs Himself (Pt 3)

Draco Malfoy wandered outside of the DADA classroom, a thoughtful and solitary figure. As he passed a dusty side-corridor, no doubt created during the castle’s recent shuffling, I muttered, “Accio Malfoy.”

Malfoy’s gasp mingled with a more distant yelp as he stumbled towards us. With a nervous glance around the seemingly empty corridor, Malfoy said, “P-Potter?”

I whipped off the cloak, revealing Hermione and myself. Striding towards him, I said, “What gave me away? The strength of my spell-casting? The brilliance of my plan? The subtle scent of –”

“You were invisible,” he said.

I paused, not at all appreciating Hermione’s giggles. “Right, yes, I suppose that makes sense.”

Malfoy glanced back towards the entranceway, which shimmered with invisibility and silencing spells. “What are you doing here, Potter? You shouldn’t have…wait, have you been here all year, skulking around under your cloak?”

I leaned casually against the wall, arms crossed. “Perhaps.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “No.”

“I could have been,” I said.

“That doesn’t change the fact that you weren’t,” Hermione said, maliciously diminishing my reputation.

Malfoy drummed his fingers against his wand, body half-turned towards the exit. “You still haven’t explained what you’re doing here.”

“I have a proposition for you” – I twirled my wand between my fingers – “How would you like to join Hermione’s Dark Army?”

“Harry, you are not –

I raised a hand to silence her. “Quiet, Hermione. If you aren’t going to be proactive, then I’ll have to do this for you.”

“Granger has an army,” Malfoy said, still too blinded by Hermione’s innocent image and his own lingering feelings to imagine it.

I nodded. “We’re still in the early recruiting stages, which offers you a chance to get in on the ground floor. With Hermione’s brilliant, vicious mind and your financial resources, as well as the lessons you’ve learned from my trials, you could completely replace the government within a decade. I understand that you may be reluctant to follow someone with lesser blood than you. I can assure you, however, that that would not be the case in this instance.”

“You will not –” Hermione cut off as my Silencing Spell hit her.

She glared daggers at me, but I spoke firmly. “He has a right to know.”

I turned back to the curious blond with a smile. “Rowena Ravenclaw had a second daughter, a squib. She never talked about her, of course, because she was a squib.”

Malfoy sneered. “Understandable.”

“That daughter had children of her own. Eventually, her descendants moved to Australia where their magical blood rekindled to form the Granger family. Generally, the Grangers have been an odd and reclusive clan, keeping well away from even the Australian magical society. Upon discovering their relation to a Hogwarts founder, however, they chose to send their latest child to study abroad.”

Hermione had finally worked off the Silencing Charm. “I am not the Heiress of Ravenclaw.”

“Really? If it isn’t true, then why are you denying it?” I demanded.

Taken aback by my stunning logic, she turned to the much more gullible Malfoy. “You don’t believe this tripe!”

“It would explain a few things,” he admitted. “But, no, you’re actively denying it, and I’ve learned my lesson about listening to Potter.”

“Oh, thank Circe,” Hermione sighed.

“I hope you’ll still join,” I said. “Despite Hermione’s incessant secret- keeping.”

Malfoy frowned, clearly put off by the heiress’s antics. “I suppose.”

“Wonderful!” I exclaimed. “First order of business: Eliminating the competition. Hermione?”

Malfoy let out a strangled squeak as my best minion explained, “We’ve been collecting several objects necessary to kill You-Know-Who. All we need is the Diadem of Ravenclaw –”

“Hermione’s family heirloom,” I interjected.

“Unfortunately, it’s still in the Room of Requirement, which is locked.”

“Luckily, you” – I tapped him on the chest with my wand – “Have part of the key. I figure we can get the rest by dinner.”

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “Dinner? It took me over a year to get the last five pieces.”

“I designed it to be completed in about three months,” I said. “Trust me, we’ll be in by dinner.”

Malfoy’s eye twitched.

I smirked. “Hermione, you can grab Ron and the trunk while we tackle the next trial. Meet us at the Room of Requirement.”

“Alright.” Hermione cast a Disillusionment Charm on herself.

“Draco, I need you to throw a snake at me.”

Malfoy paused for a moment. “Mind repeating that, Potter?”

“Throw a snake at me!” I cried. “Quickly. There’s no time to explain.”

Draco threw a snake at me. I recognized the pattern of black and green scales immediately. “Ophion!

The snake peered upwards, scenting the air. “You are a speaker?”

“You don’t remember me?” I asked.

The snake hissed a no. With a heavy sigh, I vanished it.

“Harry!” Hermione snapped. “Why did you do that?”

“He wasn’t the same, so I killed him,” I explained.

Malfoy paled and demonstrated an appropriate level of fear and awe by taking a step away from me. Hermione groaned. “Harry, are you under the Imperius again?”

“…and he kept planning partner activities even though I was the only one who attended class!” Draco ranted.

I thoughtfully caressed my wand. “So you would consider the Dark Lord a fairly bad professor, then?”

Yes,” Draco said. “I mean, he’s probably the best DADA teacher I’ve ever had, but he’s still horrible.”

While talking, we had entered the third floor corridor which sometimes held the entrance to the Room of Requirement. Ron and Hermione were waiting for us by the locked door, and Hermione hurried over. “Oh, good, I was worried you would…Is Malfoy wearing leather pants?”

I glanced at the tight, black pants Draco was currently sporting. “Technically, it’s dragon hide. It protects you from fire.”

“Yes, but why?” she pressed, yet again demonstrating her intense curiosity about the world at a wildly inappropriate time.

“Dragons breathe fire. It’s a part of their metaphysical nature –”

“Not that,” Hermione snapped. “Why is he wearing them?”

I glanced towards the door to confirm that Ron and Hermione had not suddenly swapped places. “To protect him from fire, of course.”

She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Then why isn’t he wearing a shirt?”

“It caught on fire. For Merlin’s sake, Hermione, keep up!”

Ron, noticing Draco’s shirtless state, came over to glare at him. “I still don’t trust you. Why are you even helping us, anyway?”

“I don’t believe in the Dark Lord’s tenets anymore…excepting the Creatures Rights laws,” Draco said. “The fourth trial taught me a lot about acceptance, and I can’t seem to unlearn it.”

Ron snorted. “So you’re suddenly our friend?”

Draco crossed his arms over his bare chest and sneered. “Don’t worry Weasel, I still think you’re a pathetic, idiotic Gryffindork.”

“You didn’t mention that he’s poor,” I pointed out.

“The second trial taught me what it’s like to have nothing” – Draco smirked – “I imagine that how Weasley feels all the time.”

“I DO NOT!” Ron roared, jabbing his wand against Draco’s chest.

Hermione batted it down with her own wand, glaring at them. “Enough! Let’s stop bickering and go into the room.”

Draco paused. “…We can’t.”

“Why not?” Hermione said coldly, Ron looming above her.

Draco pulled six silver objects from his dragon hide pants. They glowed slightly where they touched each other. “The key still isn’t complete.”

“Right, yes, I almost forgot about that” – I rifled through my pockets – “Here you go, Draco.”

Draco stared at the item in my hand. “You had the final piece.”

“The whole time.”

He snatched the rest of the key, glowering at the three of us. “Then it wasn’t fair at all!”

“Sure it was. You could have learned a lesson about friendship or espionage or possibly seduction.”

Ron asked, “Is that why he’s not wearing a shirt?”

“But you weren’t even in the castle this year,” Draco said.

“Yet, when you needed the final piece, I was. Perhaps, I always would have been.”

Draco growled at me and, with a burst of light, the pieces united into an ornate, silver key. He stomped towards the door and stuck it into the lock.

The key broke, its pieces disappearing, and the door remained closed.

The blond whirled around, glowering. “It broke.”

I hurried forward. “Draco, don’t you deserve to get in?”

Draco sneered. “Of course I do. I did all your stupid trials.”

“And learned so many lessons,” I mused. “If you truly deserve to go in, then why would you need a key?”

“You’re kidding me,” he said flatly.

I placed a hand on his shoulder. “Draco, open the door.”

Young Malfoy turned the knob and the door smoothly opened.

“You see?” I said. “The true key was within you all along. All you had to do was believe in yourself!”

Draco gazed into the Room of Requirement, which was empty save for the pedestal holding Ravenclaw’s Diadem. “I spent a year and a half tracking down the key pieces, all for a key that I didn’t need.”

I chuckled, pushing past him. “Just because the key doesn’t open the door doesn’t mean you don’t need the key.”

My three minions followed me inside.

“Ravenclaw’s Diadem,” Hermione breathed. She collapsed against the doorway to gaze upon her ancestor’s artifact.

I grinned, opening my trunk to store the Diadem with my other Horcruxes.

“You aren’t putting it on?” Ron asked.

I blinked. “What?”

“Y’know, the Diadem. The whole point of it is to put it on, right? It makes you smarter and stuff.”

Hermione clucked her tongue. “It’s a strange magical artifact that may very well be cursed. Of course he isn’t just tossing it on his –”

“Merlin, I’m so stupid. So many missed opportunities, so many overlooked alliances, so many times I shouldn’t have gotten drunk…”

“You put it on” – Hermione sighed – “Of course you did.”

She thought I’d been acting foolishly, but she was wrong. Her point regarding the possibility of my Diadem being cursed was a fair one, particularly considering the fact that it _was _cursed. However, this was the wisest thing I’d ever done.

I should have worn it years ago, rather than making the Horcrux. Or I even could have done both. Sure, people would try to steal it, but I would guard it heavily regardless of whether it contained my soul.

“Harry?” Ron asked weakly. He sounded cautious but concerned. Of course he did, he was fond of me. And I’ve proven myself to be somewhat childish. Even insane. What a fool I was.

“Harry, are you alright?” Hermione asked.

No, no I wasn’t. I was an idiot. Why did I even want to be the Defense teacher, anyway? Or to be immortal? What was the point?

I grabbed the Diadem, flinging it towards Hermione. “Hermione, destroy it.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “It’s a relic, Harry. I won’t damage a vital piece of history simply because you don’t like the truth. Besides, we need it for the ritual.”

She put it on.

My eyes widened. “No! You fool. Take it off right now and perhaps you’ll escape –”

“Merlin. I’m so stupid…”

Ron plucked it off her head. Hermione swayed, mumbling, “Oh, that really was awful.”

Ron tucked it under his arm. Draco sneered. “Aren’t you putting it on? You might finally learn what it’s like to have normal intelligence.”

Ron rolled his eyes and remarked, “Nah, I already know I’ve been dumb. Why? You want it?”

Draco paled. “You can keep it.”

Ron shrugged, tossing it back to me. I slung it over my shoulder, which I imagine gained incredible insight into the world but was unable to share it due to being a shoulder.

Hermione, meanwhile, had approached Ron. She smiled. “When I was wearing the Diadem, I realized that we could be dead in a couple of hours and I never would have told you that I liked you. Which is just so absolutely stupid because you obviously like me too. So I was wondering if, perhaps, presuming the Diadem isn’t cursed to give misleading information –”

Ron leaned down to kiss her, and she enthusiastically reciprocated. I watched, dumbfounded.

Ron and Hermione. Wow. I did not see that coming.

Draco turned away, unable to watch his first love with another man. I said, “I’m so sorry, Draco.”

He raised an eyebrow and drawled, “Potter, I’m disgusted.”

“Sure you are,” I said, “but, if you ever need to talk about this, I can lend you Ginevra…Come to think of it, you can keep her.”

Draco sneered at me, a sure sign that he was feeling better. “I don’t want your girlfriend, Potter.”

He’d even discovered his sense of humor!

I said, “We should get back to the rebel base to regroup. Along the way, Hermione can devise one of her evil schemes.”

Hermione tore herself from the snog for an indignant: “I don’t devise evil schemes!”

I rolled my eyes. “Fine. One of your regular schemes, then.”

Hermione would find a way to make it evil.

Draco stood atop the staircase. Lost in thought, he steadied himself on the slimy wall. “Even after my trial down here, I’m still shocked that _you _ended up being the Heir.”

“Why does everyone think that? It was Ginevra.”

Draco snapped out of his reverie and snatched his hand from the muck-lined wall with a wet pop. After a panicked cleaning charm, he said, “A Weasley the Heir of Slytherin?”

Ron said, “Well, why not?”

“You’re Gryffindors,” he spat.

I chuckled. “Just because someone is a Gryffindor doesn’t mean they aren’t a Slytherin. Right, Hermione?”

Hermione pushed past us and into the darkness, muttering about morons (probably Ron’s fault). We hurriedly followed.

I said, “To be fair, Ginevra is a seventh child.”

Draco said, “You can’t expect me to believe that the Weasleys managed to squeeze a Parselmouth from their impure blood, no matter how many children they pop out.”

Ron’s face flushed bright red, but his angry exclamation was cut short by a calm voice below us. “I’m quite certain Ginny’s a Parselmouth. She taught me how to say my name in it and everything.”

There is no word in that language which comes anywhere near Luna’s name. I shudder to think what horribly mispronounced nickname Ginevra had bestowed upon the poor girl.

The blonde was cheerfully waiting at the bottom of the steps with Hermione, who said, “Luna’s guarding the door.”

“You aren’t Death Eaters polyjuiced to look like you four, are you?” the blonde politely inquired.

Draco raised an eyebrow. “If that were the case, why would _I _be here?”

“I’m not sure why you’re here, anyway,” Ron muttered.

I said, “To be fair, the Death Eaters might have run out of polyjuice.”

“That would be pathetic,” Draco said.

“It sounds fairly typical for them, really,” I mused.

Ron chose to use his brain, and, as always, the result was a terrible disappointment. “Could you even beat that many Death Eaters, Luna?”

Hermione pursed her lips. “It’s more about sounding the alarm, Ronald.”

“If she couldn’t, why would they bother using polyjuice?” I added.

“I’ll be fine. Neville even loaned me the Sword of Gryffindor.” Luna hefted the sword and waved it at us.

Hermione’s eye twitched. Violently. “You are a true Gryffindor.”

“Not really,” she said. “It’s more about how you hold it.”

“I –”

“Is that my House Elf?” Draco demanded, glaring into the Chamber where Dobby was scurrying about with a tray of sandwiches.

“Oh, yes,” Luna said. “Apparently, he’s been stealing from you for several years. I think he’s a true Slytherin.”

Draco’s agitated gaze swept over the room, eyes widening when he reached a small crowd towards the center. “Snape?!”

“He’s more of a Ravenclaw,” Luna said.

Draco rushed over to the crowd. I sedately followed. With a casual Incarcerous to tie up Draco, Ginevra said, “Hi, Harry! I didn’t know you were going to kidnap Malfoy.”

“Hermione recruited him, actually,” I said.

“Huh” – Ginevra glanced down at the struggling, rope-bound boy at her feet – “I guess she’s wanted him for a while, so good for her.”

I gestured towards the man bound to a wooden chair. “I see you’ve kidnapped Snape.”

“Astute as ever, Potter,” Severus said.

“We took him right from his office,” Neville said, lifting up the Sorting Hat as an odd trophy. It remained inactive, still and deflated in his grasp.

Ginevra beamed. “We’ve got the Headmaster, so we’re pretty sure we own the school, now.”

“That’s ridiculous. We’re in the exact same situation we were this morning,” Hermione said.

“Yeah, but now Snape can awaken the castle and drive out the invaders,” Ginevra continued.

Hermione eyes fluttered at this new and overwhelming information. “Awaken…I’m sorry?”

I explained, “The castle is a living being, capable of controlling all within its walls.”

“Only the Headmaster can call it to action, though,” Ginevra said.

“Cute. Do you two practice this?” Draco spat from his position on the floor.

“Of course not. We’re simply right,” I said.

Severus watched our conversation with a sense of overwhelming boredom. “No. You are not.”

I jabbed him in the chest with my wand. “Really? If the castle isn’t sentient, then why does it hate us so much?”

Severus merely sighed. “Regardless, I have no such power.”

“He could be lying,” Neville said. “He probably isn’t, but he could be.”

I frowned. “No way to know for sure. He fooled Dumbledore for years. Our best bet is to kill him before he sows dissension in our ranks.”

“Harry, we are not killing the Headmaster,” Hermione said, again showcasing her hypocrisy.

“If we kill him, I’m pretty sure we become the Headmaster.”

“They got rid of that rule in the thirteenth century,” she said sharply, struggling to hide her disappointment.

“Still –”

“I suspect this is a good time to mention that I am a spy,” Severus said.

Neville regarded him coldly. He set the Sorting Hat on the bed and took his sword back from Luna. “We’re aware.”

“For Dumbledore,” Severus clarified.

I snorted. “You don’t actually expect us to believe that?”

Ginevra chirped, “You hate Harry, even though he’s the Chosen One and great at Potions and a genius and so, so handsome.”

Not wanting to encourage Ginevra’s lunacy, I said, “You’re a terrible teacher.”

“You helped You-Know-Who take over the school,” Hermione said.

“You’re best friends with Sirius Black.” I leaned out of biting range as Snape snarled at that suggestion.

Lavender’s head crept upwards to settle on Neville’s shoulder. “You made me cry every day in Second Year!”

“…Me too,” Neville said.

“So sensitive!” she squealed, throwing her hands around his neck in a crushing hug.

Hermione sent them a disapproving look and Ron hastily averted his eyes. He said, “You haven’t told the Order of the Phoenix anything since Dumbledore died, and I know because my family pretty much _is _the Order now.”

I casually accioed the Sorting Hat, stuffing it into my trunk. “Finally, you’re a werewolf.”

“Not all werewolves are Death Eaters,” Ron said.

“Of course they are.”

I paused, quite certain that I hadn’t spoken.

Voldemort strode towards us, backed by several of his most loyal followers. More Death Eaters were pouring through the passageway by the moment.

Right. The girl on guard duty had followed us inside and was currently giving Sirius Black, Voldemort’s right-hand man, a friendly wave. Meanwhile, Fenrir Greyback bared his teeth at Ron in some approximation of a smile, Lucius anxiously tousled his hair at the thought of himself and his clone in such a filthy place, and several Death Eaters were gesturing frantically at Neville.

Voldemort beamed, as if ready to get his picture taken. “Your plan was brilliant. After all, he who commands the Headmaster commands the school. Unfortunately for you, Severus has always been my most loyal servant.”

With a flick of the Dark Lord’s hand, the ropes fell and Severus’s wand snapped into its owner’s hand. The man then leapt from the chair and threw a spell at one of his fellow Death Eaters.

Voldemort gaped. “You couldn’t possibly have turned him already!”

“Of course not,” Severus drawled. “They’re idiots. I betrayed you decades ago.”

Another slash of his wand sent a masked figure careening into the crowd. Voldemort raised his own wand, sneering. “I always knew you would betray me, one day. Crucio.”

Hagrid lumbered forward to shield Severus with his enormous, half-Giant body.

“Severus, Hagrid, Bellatrix, Rodolphus and Rabastan…who’s next, Sirius Black?” Voldemort laughed derisively. To be fair, the notion was completely ridiculous.

To our shock, Black leapt into the battle. “I was never one of you! You only thought that because you were idiots. I don’t even have the Dark Mark.”

“That was a sign of my trust!”

Voldemort was overwhelmed and heartbroken. He coped with these feelings, like all others, through murder. It was about that time that the werewolves rebelled and the battle began in earnest.

Before I could show off my own impressive skills, Hermione pulled me under the invisibility cloak with Ron and the trunk. I frowned. “What was that about?”

“We can’t just fight Voldemort on his own footing,” she hissed.

I said, “I could take him.”

“We need a plan,” she insisted.

“Bloody hell,” Ron said, staring out at the battlefield. “Did Neville just take out that guy’s heart?”

I smirked. “It’s nice to see he’s found a use for his wand.”

He shook his head, freckles dark against his ghostly face. “I didn’t even know they were that sharp.”

I leaned in to whisper, “They aren’t.”

Hermione peered into my trunk. “We need to isolate him from his followers…”

“Oh, not again,” Ginevra wailed as Fawkes descended from the ceiling to attack the Basilisk.

Hermione’s lips pursed. “…and we still have to worry about keeping him immobile for the duration of the ritual.”

“At least Luna’s enjoying herself,” I said as the blonde frolicked past the Malfoys, who were cowering in the corner - as they often do.

Ron nodded, wincing at the fate of the girl’s newest victim.

“Honestly! Will you two pay attention? People are dying,” Hermione snapped.

“Like Snape,” I agreed.

“What? A-are you sure?” Hermione said. Oh, of course. Talking is a huge problem unless she’s the one who wants to do it. Then it’s fine.

Severus threw his hands into the air as he lurched to the stone floor. “YOU HAVE MURDERED ME!”

“Yeah, pretty sure,” I said.


Ron laughed. “That’s Snape alright.”


“A death curse. That’s some pretty nasty blood magic. I wouldn’t want to be them,” I said.

Hermione let out a shaky breath. “Harry, you have some of Voldemort’s memories. Surely you know something.”

“Wait, what? Why do you think that?” I said.

“I figured it out in Fourth Year, and, frankly, I’m embarrassed it took me that long,” Hermione said, “It’s frightfully obvious.”

Ron seemed completely lost, so Hermione said, “Harry remembers some of the things from Voldemort’s life due to their weird connection. That’s why he knows so much magic and has so many biases.”

“Right, yes,” I said weakly. “That’s exactly what happened. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to think I was a dirty Slytherin.”

“I would never think that, Harry,” Ron said.

“Not the time,” Hermione said. “Does Voldemort have any weaknesses?”

My answer was immediate. “No. He’s perfect.”

Hermione flinched at this disheartening news. “Can we trick him?”

I thought about it for a time, over the sounds of battle and Fawkes’ ineffectual yet enthusiastic pecks at the Basilisk’s scales. “Yes. I think we can.”

“Oh, thank Merlin,” Hermione sighed.

I turned to my best mate. “Ron, I’m going to need you to be the most Gryffindor you have been in your entire life.”

A wry smile twisted Ron’s lips. “I’m going to be bait again, aren’t I?”

I shook my head. “No…more of a distraction.”

The battlefield was red. Not with blood, but with the blinding light of a stunner.

The combatants froze, eyes wide as the light faded to reveal Ronald Weasley. He grinned and said, “Oy, Voldemort! Why don’t you fight the real Chosen One?”

The Dark Lord was the first to break into action, unsurprising considering the quality of his present company. “That’s ridiculous. No Weasleys were born during the end of July.”

Ron said. “July’s the seventh month of the Gregorian calendar. All real prophecies use the Roman one. I was born at the end of _its _seventh month. You’d know that, if you ever took Divination.”

Voldemort frowned. “What about Harry Potter?”

“He doesn’t fit the prophecy,” Ron said. “The Chosen One has to be a sixth son. It says so in the part you didn’t hear.”

Voldemort’s eyes narrowed, and his followers scuttled out of his way as he approached Ron. “I always suspected you Weasleys were up to something. Your family knew about this all along, didn’t you? That’s why they had so many children.”

“Uh, yeah, ‘course we did,” Ron agreed.

“You’ve been preparing for this day, biding your time while using Potter as bait. How vicious of you…I don’t suppose you’d be interested in joining the Death Eaters?”

“Nah. If being a Death Eater was any good, then all the other ones wouldn’t have gone traitor,” Ron said.

Voldemort scowled. “In that case, I’m going to kill you.”

“Alright,” Ron said. “We should probly set up some sorta shield or something. That way, nobody can get involved in our battle.”

A swish of Voldemort’s wand sent a shield shimmering darkly around them. This cut the two men off from the rest of the battlefield, who still watched in anxious silence. Only a handful of corpses shared their arena. Voldemort raised his wand.

Ron’s face scrunched up in a Weasley fashion. “Aren’t we supposed to bow first? Y’know, to help with our, uh…legends?”

Voldemort glanced at the crowd and said, “Yes, I suppose this would be a fitting addition to the legend of the Dark Lord Voldemort, politician, Weasley-slayer, and future, undisputed leader of the British Isles.”

Ron grinned and began to bow.

Voldemort followed suit, maintaining eye contact the whole time and grasping his wand loosely in his hand. Until, of course, I accioed it.

He whirled around, not noticing the red beam until it slammed into his back. Eyes wide open, Lord Voldemort fell to the floor.

With a flick of my old, yew wand, I flung the invisibility cloak off to reveal the trunk, Hermione, and myself.

The frizzy-haired girl immediately rushed over to Ron, hugging him. I nudged Voldemort with my foot. “Ron, I need you over here immediately. This is the moment you’ve been training for your whole life.”

My best mate came over, grinning. “Yeah?”

I pointed emphatically with my wands. “If he moves, I need you to stun him, and, if he doesn’t move, then he’s probably trying to trick you and you should stun him anyway.”

Ron nodded gravely, casting a stunner to demonstrate his understanding. With that taken care of, I turned to the crowd. “Lord Voldemort has been defeated by me, Harry Potter.”

The Death Eaters’ uneasy murmurs mingled with the Light siders’ cheers. “Anyone who keeps fighting on his behalf shall be crushed –”

Several Death Eaters fled towards the exit. I twirled my wands and waited for them to leave. “Good! I presume that you remaining few are his most loyal followers, so we don’t need to feel bad about unleashing the really horrible spells…and there goes the rest of them.”

Sirius Black let out a whoop of joy, tossing a curse at their backs. I shivered. Truly, he knew no loyalty. Hermione raised a hand for silence. “We have everything under control, so you can all get rest or medical treatment –”

“Or drunk,” I added. Delighted yells and laughter rung out across the crowd.

Ron threw another stunner at Voldemort. “And somebody should probly call the Aurors.”

“We, meanwhile, will be killing Voldemort with a secret technique left by Albus Dumbledore, the Lightest of Light wizards,” I said.

I tossed my old wand into my left hand and, raising both arms heavenward, released plumes of red smoke. I was only casting with my Holly wand, but it was all very stylish. The smoke pushed against the shield, hiding us from the crowd.

Hermione added a Silencing Charm, and turned to me, “How precisely do we do this ritual, then?”

I snatched the locket from the Dark Lord’s neck and rifled through the trunk, pulling out my Horcruxes and the still inactivated Sorting Hat. Nagini slithered off my arm, first, settling a foot away from Voldemort’s head. Next, I set the other items in a circle around him. A slash of my wand cut Voldemort’s arm, and a stream of blood twirled out.

Ron gaped. “Is that blood magic?”

“Just like my mother used,” I said. “The ritual requires the caster’s blood, but, because of Voldemort’s resurrection ritual, we literally have the same blood. Or metaphorically have the same blood. Either way, I don’t have to bleed.”

Hermione pursed her lips. “That seems highly irresponsible.”

“You’re hardly one to talk, Miss Granger,” a familiar voice drawled.

Our heads snapped to the corner where Severus Snape disapprovingly regarded the smoky ceiling. Hermione said, “Professor?!”

“No one bothered to check if I was dead or merely wounded. How touching.”

“To be fair, you did say you were dead,” I pointed out.

Hermione hurried over, making a fuss over his injuries to distract from her earlier apathy.

Severus’s dark eyes flicked to the thoroughly stunned Voldemort as Ron hit the body with another spell. “It appears that, despite your bumbling idiocy and outrageous arrogance, you have successfully defeated the Dark Lord.”

Hermione said, “Not yet, Professor. We still need a few minutes.”

Severus inclined his head. “Fifty points to Slytherin.”

“I’m rooting for Gryffindor now,” I said.

“I don’t care, Potter.”

“…I’m also not technically a student.”

His eyes were dull and without emotion, as they always are. “I still don’t care.”

“We kill You-Know-Who and our reward is Slytherin winning the Cup,” Ron said. “It’s Snape alright.”

Hermione tossed a stinging hex at Ron, and Severus said, “Twenty points for your cheek.”

I paused, mulling over the redhead’s words. “A reward would be nice…Snape, you’re still the headmaster, right?”

Severus narrowed his eyes at me. “Presumably.”

I beamed. “Can I be the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor?”

Severus said, “Potter, I spent the last year as a spy under a murderous regime, despised by all my true allies, and running a school where the students were in constant warfare with half the staff. Despite all of that, the lack of your presence has made this the most pleasant year I’ve had in some time. I hoped that I could spend the rest of my life pretending you didn’t exist.”

“So, that’s a ‘no,’ then.”

Severus stared at me silently. I stood there, wands heavy in my hands.

“Uh, mate, shouldn’t we be getting rid of Voldemort?” Ron asked, casually stunning him.

“I suppose,” I said morosely. “Once I get over my disappointment.”

Severus scowled. “…Potter, are you holding the Wizarding World hostage to get a job?”

Hermione clucked disapprovingly.

I shook my head. “No, but I may be too upset to do the ritual, right now, and who knows what sort of daring escape Voldemort might pull while we wait.”

Ron punctuated my point with a jet of red light.

“Fine, you’re hired.”

Colorful sparks shot gaily from my wands. “Really?”

Severus consoled himself with a muttered, “You’ll be gone in a year, anyway.”

“Harry, would you please do something about the genocidal maniac on the floor?” Hermione said, her natural selfishness winning out yet again.

I turned back to the ritual with a smile. A flick of my wand painted a bloody heptagon on the floor. Its points lay at myself, Nagini, Ravenclaw’s Diadem, Huffepuff’s Cup, Slytherin’s Locket, the Gaunt ring, and the Sorting Hat.

“This ends the way it began: Avada Kedavra!”

Voldemort’s soul was knocked from his body but contained in the heptagon by the bloody markings.

The ritual was conceptually simple. At each point of the heptagon lay a portion of Voldemort’s soul, barring one: The Sorting Hat. To balance this out, the soul would naturally gravitate towards the empty container, forming a new Horcrux with Voldemort’s death serving as the necessary sacrifice.

The bloody lines vanished as the soul settled into its new home, and the ritual’s magic dispersed into the air, canceling the shield around us. Everyone peered through the smoke, not noticing as I tossed my Horcruxes inside the trunk.

At that moment, Fawkes landed upon my shoulder. He let out a shriek, directly into my ear, and burst into flames.

Later, many would describe this as a beautiful scene, symbolizing the rebirth of Wizarding Britain after Lord Voldemort’s demise.

I don’t know why. Fawkes does this every couple of years, and the second- degree burns he left were hardly inspirational.

Personally, I believe he did it out of spite.

A/N: Luna’s Parseltongue name roughly translates to “Climbing Egg.” You see, snakes rarely look up, and, when they do, they do not care.

The Epilogue is still to come, and then there’ll also be an omake chapter.

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