A/N: Yeah I admit I actually forgot about this story. Be warned, due to lack of practise and out of flow, the writing quality and possibly the chapter itself might be of a crappy quality, which is a shame, this being the final chapter and all. Also, it is a very long chapter, so bear with me. Try to enjoy!
"Wait." Harry suddenly broke the silence. "You said I have to use magic on him, right?"
Dumbledore nodded, wondering what got Harry so excited.
There was a crazy gleam in his eyes as he spoke.
"Let's show him some magic, then."
Everyone in the room looked puzzled. Dumbledore spoke first.
"Harry, I'm sure you have become more accomplished in magic than I anticipated, but you cannot possibly be thinking about taking Voldemort head-on with magic. As I said, even I cannot match Voldemort's magic right now and, forgive me for my lack of modesty, I am a bit more magically powerful than the average wizard."
"I know that I can't beat Voldemort in a straight up duel, professor. But like any tyrant, he knows very little of his victims. I want to make the most of his ignorance and turn it against him."
Dumbledore nodded, not entirely sure what Harry was talking about, but looking at the young man he felt that he wasn't looking at a average wizard either.
"What do you have in mind Harry?" Sirius asked.
"Let's call it a mash up."
"So we have a deal?"
Edward looked a little uncomfortable and looked sideways at his partner Tyler.
"Yeah about that..." Tyler started, extremely uncomfortable. Tonks frowned.
"Is there any problem Ed?" she asked, a hint of suspicion in her voice. Was it possible that Edward and his partner got cold feet, possibly scared of what would happen if everyone knew them and Voldemort couldn't be killed?
"Um... not exactly. I mean, yeah we're up for it, but I was talking to Tyler a while back and uh…" he didn't know how to continue.
"Are you scared?" Andromeda asked them.
"Of course not!" Tyler replied defiantly. "It's just that we made a living from this and although we are doing good business now, what you're asking will… ah… set us back financially. I mean I wouldn't care for a few thousand galleons if it meant You-Know-Who's gonna go away, but this is more than that."
Edward looked away in embarrassment. He felt like a selfish arse, talking money when the future of the Wizarding world was depending upon them, but Tyler pointed out that if the war was over they couldn't get back to the position they were in maybe a few years. Ministry sure as hell isn't gonna pay and they had to think about themselves. Reluctantly, Edward agreed to bring this up.
"Don't get us wrong." Tyler continued. "We don't see you as a customer. You are friends to us, and we wouldn't insist on anything, but can you at least try to gather some coins so we can start again once this is all over?"
At first Harry wanted to be angry, but he realized that they weren't wrong. War doesn't only take lives. If a person can't make a living after helping in a war, what was the point of the war? Starve with freedom?
"You don't have to worry about it." Sirius replied with a smile. "My ancestors made a shitload of gold in shameful methods. If I have to, I would empty the whole Black fortune for this. Name the amount that you would trade all these with a customer."
Slightly red in face, Edward mumbled the amount.
"Ha! That's not even half of the Black family fortune. Shame really. You'll get your gold by today."
"But you don't have to pay the whole-" Tyler tried to protest but Andromeda cut him off.
"Shut up and start working."
"Uh, okay." Tyler said sheepishly before turning and leaving.
They all looked at each other after Tyler left and the air seemed to be heavier than usual with the immense weight of what was about to come hanging upon them. The plan laid out by Harry was very dangerous and nowhere near fail proof. Things could go wrong at any instant and everyone's life could be in jeopardy. Even if the plan worked, no one could assure that lives wouldn't be lost. Unfortunately, this seemed, after some modifications and revisions, to be their best shot at ending the reign of Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Andromeda was the first to break the silence, mainly because it was getting on her nerves.
"I think we should start tomorrow."
Harry nodded, hiding his surprise and nervousness. It was one thing to plan something to the minutest detail, but actually doing it required a totally different set of nerves.
"Go get some sleep. It's gonna be a long day tomorrow." Sirius advised. It was a reflection of how grim the situation was, that even Sirius stopped joking around.
The date was set and published to all the newspapers. Tonks found herself wishing they had a few more weeks before the showdown so that she could have a chance at a normal life (or what was normal for a life with Harry) for a little longer.
But she also knew that the more they delayed, more lives were lost. Each day people disappeared left and right, sometimes their mangled corpses (thought to be a creation of werewolves) reappearing under a Dark Mark, sometimes they didn't return at all and no one knew which group was the luckier one. Despite losing some inner members, the Death Eaters seemed to be active as ever. Aurors were afraid to take strong measures, in case the next ones to disappear were themselves, or worse, their families. All in all, the Wizarding World was in terror and utter despair.
And it didn't help that there was a lot of pressure on Tonks herself. Sure, being an Auror and protecting people she loved was totally her idea. But in Harry's plan, her role was so major that a small blunder could put the whole Wizarding world (especially her loved ones, of course) in even more danger that they were now facing. Harry could handle all those pressure in stride and made it look easy, but Tonks wasn't sure she was totally up to the task. Every time she thought about it made her want to throw up or cry, or do both. But she also knew that she was the best person for this position and so she swallowed her fear and tried to mask it in a cool, unnerving posture, which didn't fool her mother or Harry. But to their credit, they didn't try to treat her like a scared baby like others would have done.
"Okay guys, enough warming up. Time for some real practice." Sirius shouted and most of them groaned.
"Oh c'mon! We are exhausted. We need some rest." Someone complained. Others nodded supportively.
"Stop being such a wuss. Five more minutes, and then I'll come to bite everyone's arse." He warned.
"He doesn't mean that literally, does he?" Tonks asked to no one in particular. A great black dog barked in answer.
In a corner, Andromeda was in a conversation with Harry and she seemed pissed for some reason.
"Does he really need to come here?" she asked with no attempt in hiding her irritation.
"Who needs to come here?" Tonks asked her mother.
"Dumbledore." Harry replied. "He wants to see our progress and maybe he can give the guys a tip or two."
"Yeah, which is all very noble and appreciable of him, I'm sure, but why does he need to stick his long nose to places where they don't belong is beyond me." Andromeda said with a huff and Harry chuckled.
"Look, I know that you can't stand him and I'm not very fond of him either, but he is a pretty important part of the plan and you know that he needs to know every detail to do his job. I don't like him being here, preaching about 'no harming' and all that crap, but I think he wouldn't try to interfere too much. And either way, we need him. Like it or not, Dumbledore is the only one Voldemort ever feared. If any of us has a chance to go head to head with Voldemort, it's him."
Andromeda sighed and then nodded. What Harry said was true. The man was an arse, but he was useful. And if Harry could be mature enough to catch that, she could bear to be in the same room with him for a few hours too.
They didn't have to wait for long before the old Headmaster knocked on the door. Sirius opened the door and pointed his wand at Dumbledore.
"What was my favourite subject at Hogwarts?"
"The common guess would be Defence Against the Dark Arts, but I think I'll go with Transfiguration."
Sirius nodded and lowered his wand.
"Well, you got a lot of hair. Easy for someone to pick up one from the floor and impersonate you if your shampoo isn't working that good." Dumbledore nodded in agreement.
"You are quite right, Sirius. Hair not as voluminous as it used to be. Maybe I should switch to that hair loss preventing conditioner Minerva was talking about." He mused.
"If it works on you, we should send one over to Voldemort. Merlin knows that guy needs a new hairstyle." Tonks commented.
"Ah Nym... Tonks, good to see you again dear. Andromeda, a pleasure as always." Dumbledore bowed a bit towards her. Andromeda nodded curtly.
"And there's Harry. Hope you are doing well?" he asked politely. His face showed a carefully masked hesitation, and it was not totally unreasonable. Last time he checked, Harry was not the biggest fan of Dumbledore at the moment.
"Yes headmaster, I am doing as well as reasonable for someone who's about to finish Tommy boy tomorrow." Harry replied with a drop of sarcasm. Dumbledore chuckled dryly.
"Indeed. Now I am no seer but I can tell that I do not have the most appreciated presence around here, so I think that should be enough pleasantries for today. Let us get to work, shall we?" he nodded to a bunch of comfy chairs he just conjured for everyone.
The meeting went on for over an hour, making sure everyone knows about every tiny detail, which was being modified a lot. Andromeda might hate the old headmaster, but even she couldn't deny that having the bastard in their team is a huge blessing. That man was not "The Only One He Feared" for nothing. His knowledge alone surpassed all of the others combined. Then there was his 150 years of experience and wisdom. He had some unique insights and alternative solutions for problems that none of them could have ever come up with. Also, he pointed out and rectified some of the details they haven't thought of. The only downside was that he didn't approve of any killing, though he didn't voice it after the first time when Andromeda threatened to keep him out of the loop if he mentioned it again.
After every part of the plan was sufficiently covered twice (thrice for some tricky parts) Dumbledore rose up. He looked like he was about to deliver a lecture, but he simply said, "Well, I better get going then." Then, with a nod to the present company, he turned to leave.
"Can I have a private word with you?" Dumbledore was surprised by Harry's request, but he quickly smiled at the boy.
"Of course, Harry. Lead the way."
They were in a terrace overlooking a green field. It felt peaceful to be somewhere the war haven't reached. Yet.
"War has a way of making us appreciate the simple things in life." Dumbledore commented, as if reading Harry's thoughts. Harry nodded. He wasn't really sure why he wanted a conversation with Dumbledore. He suspected that the looming fate that hung over him made him lose some anger.
"I always thought I want to get rid of Riddle as quickly as possible, but now that the time is set, I somewhat wish I waited a bit more." Harry said, looking distantly at the horizon.
"When you are up against Voldemort, you are never prepared enough. All the planning can still go horribly wrong and, forgive me for being blunt, we might all end up as being causalities of war. And if we succeed, it is likely to be at a price. It is natural to be afraid, Harry. You wouldn't be human if you were not afraid." Dumbledore replied solemnly. The old Harry would have claimed that he wasn't afraid, not for himself. It was a mark of how much Harry have grown in the last few months that he just nodded.
He would be lying if he said he wasn't afraid. Hard as he tried, Harry wasn't totally selfless. Of course, he thought about how Andromeda, Sirius and Dora would be heartbroken if he didn't survive tomorrow, not to mention his friends. But he also wanted to live. He wanted to spend more time with Dora, he wanted to love her and be loved in return, and maybe someday have a family with her. He wanted to see the mutt get old with Jennifer. He wanted to have more memories with his friends and their families. His life could have been worse, but he will be damned if he didn't deserve a normal and happy life after all the crap he had to endure and by Merlin he would grab that life and claim it, or die trying.
"You know, for a while, I really hated you for all that went wrong with my life because of you." Harry started, his voice lacking any accusations. "But as time went by I realized that it wasn't really worth it. Holding a grudge, I mean. Look how bitter Snape got. And I didn't want to be like him. You made some terrible mistakes and many people paid for it, me included. But if I am going to moan about it for the rest of my life, I would be throwing away the opportunity to live properly, wouldn't I?"
Dumbledore looked like he was 500 years old at the moment.
"You are a far greater man than I can ever be, Harry. I know that no amount of apologies would right the wrong that my actions has caused you. But you are right, Harry. It does not do well to live in past and forget to live the present. I only hope that one day you find the heart to forgive this old man for his mistakes. I confess to you Harry, although quite a few among the wizarding world believes me to be infallible and wise, I actually make a lot of mistakes. And being slightly powerful than the average wizard, pardon my lack of humbleness, my mistakes tend to cause a greater consequence. You cannot imagine the amount of dead friends I had to say goodbye to, and a lot of these deaths were indirectly caused by my actions, or lack thereof. 150 years is a lot of time to live with regrets and blood in my hands.
"You must wonder why I try to discourage killing so much. I know that some of the people our society could live without, and some, like Tom, needs to be permanently stopped. But believe me Harry, it will take a cost on you. During my lifetime, there had been numerous dark wizards, who needed to be put down for the world's sake, and people requested me to kill them. But I just turned them to the authorities. Many have broken out of their imprisonments and terrorized the world again, and I could see the accusation in people's eyes. If I killed them in the first place, they couldn't have broken out again. But I never did it. I never thought I had the right to deprive someone of their life. Who was I to decide who gets to live and who gets to die? I don't get to play god. But most importantly, I was selfish. I didn't want any more blood on my hands than there already is. Clearly, that doesn't work out very well for me." He finished with a strained chuckle.
Harry was a bit overwhelmed. Although he was letting go of his grudge against the man, it was strange for him to see the great wizard so full of regret. Harry wondered that if he was lucky to live about a 100 years, would he be this full of regrets as well? He sure hoped not. He might not be forgiving Dumbledore right away, but the man had suffered and will continue to suffer in hands of his own conscience. They say time heals everything. Maybe too much time makes you focus more at the scars of your wounds.
To an uninformed person, it was a fine sunny day. The sky was fairly clear with a gentle breeze flowing around. It seemed like a perfect day for a picnic. However, that was the last thing that was about to happen today in the charming village of Hogsmeade.
For the readers of Daily Prophet, today was an exciting day. Because today Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, called a press conference where he promised to reveal to the masses of the wizarding world why He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was not as big a threat as everyone thought him to be. Some of the older people, who survived the last war, were sceptical to say the least, letting everyone in their vicinity know in no uncertain terms that the boy must have had a bludger to the head or he simply didn't know what You-Know-Who was capable of. Some thought that young Potter haven't seen the last war, so he didn't know what You-Know-Who was capable of and hence underestimated the Dark Lord. Others, which consisted of the majority, didn't know what to make of it and was eagerly waiting in front of their wireless for the live telecast. Almost all of Britain and a significant number of other European wizarding families wanted to know what the Boy-Who-Lived had to say.
Only the team that trained for the last few days together at one of the Black estates knew exactly what was going to happen, and although they couldn't swear an oath claiming that they would come victorious today, one thing was for sure: blood was going to flow today, and most, if not all, of it would belong to Death Eaters. If everything went right, there would be no causalities on their side and most of the Death would be captured or dead and Voldemort will finally meet his end. But as Mad-Eye Moody said, if you expect things to go in your way in a war, don't even bother to fight.
A modest stage has been set up near the Hog's Head with seats for the journalists from all over Europe that were invited. There was a separate platform for photographers and recording personnel. Andromeda hired professional event organizers to make sure everything was perfect. After all, it wouldn't do well if their plan was hampered because some foreign journalist couldn't find a seat.
The plan was very straightforward, but carrying it out is another thing entirely. It was even possible that the Death Eaters wouldn't take the bait, or worse, a few of the newbies would appear and get their arses kicked and so much preparation would be for nothing. But everyone agreed that Voldemort was very likely to appear, as the chance of killing Harry in front of the media would be too much of a temptation for a megalomaniac like Voldemort to pass up. On the other hand, there is the chance that Riddle would sniff out the ambush and decide to attack another place to make a point. Only time would tell.
As the time of the conference was approaching, journalists began apparating to a spot specified in the invitation letter. They were quickly led to their seats by Remus Lupin and Emmeline Vance, courtesy of the Order of the Phoenix. One of the perks of involving Dumbledore in the plan was the extra wands from the Order. He let everyone know that this was probably the final stand against Voldemort and all of the Order volunteered.
Once the seats were all filled, Andromeda checked if everyone was in position. They figured that if the Death Eaters and Voldemort did appear, they wouldn't do so until Harry showed up. Therefore they had to make sure everything was in place before that happened. Using a charmed earring that worked like a muggle headset, everyone confirmed her that so far everything was going according to plan. Tonks was in position inside Hog's Head. Sirius finished delivering emergency portkeys to every shopkeepers in Hogsmeade and took up position at the Shrieking Shack. A phoenix trilled, indicating that Dumbledore was ready as well. Everyone else was where they were supposed to be.
"Well, this is it. Good luck everyone." Andromeda whispered to her earring.
Diana Allers had a nervous feeling in her gut as she waited for Harry Potter to show up. Her task was simple. If Harry Potter actually showed up, the number of Aurors present were not too much and finally Albus Dumbledore was not nearby, press her recently acquired Dark Mark. She didn't want to take up the Dark Mark, but you don't refuse the Dark Lord, especially when he just killed your husband and had your son at wand point. She hoped that her little Timothy was okay.
Soon, a blonde girl was announcing the start of the conference and all the noise stopped for a moment before Harry Potter climbed up the stage and everyone greeted him with applause. Behind him was Auror Shacklebolt, calmly scanning for any sign of trouble. Diana quickly scanned her surroundings and saw Auror Dawlish and another Auror she didn't know lazily covering the flanks of the stage. There was no sign of Dumbledore or any more Aurors. The Dark Lord would be pleased.
She knew she should just press the Dark Mark on her arm, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Potter was saying something about a Tom Riddle but she had other things in her mind. She knew she had no choice, but if she pressed the mark, she would most probably be the cause of the death of the wizarding world's only hope. And if, by any chance, they survived this war, how could she live with the knowledge that she played a very significant role in the downfall of the wizarding world? But then again, if she refused, they would kill her son, and if they were merciful, she would follow soon. She hoped her conscience would forgive her for being this selfish. Biting down on her lips, she pressed the Dark Mark.
Voldemort felt the Allers woman calling him. It seemed he had given the boy too much credit. After the attack that caused the death of many families, some of whom were close to the boy, apparently failed to force the boy into hiding. He suspected Dumbledore might have tried to persuade him to go hiding, but the boy's stupidity must have no limits. Severus often salivated claiming that the boy was nothing but a mediocre whelp who didn't know how to cut a root in half, but Voldemort knew that the boy had power. He became painfully aware of that in the graveyard when the brat burned his wand and part of his hands in a lucky shot.
Of course, none of his Death Eater knew how much damage the boy had done to him that night, but after Crabbe senior had the audacity to ask if Potter really burned the Lord's hand, the Cruciatus Curse was maintained for almost half an hour, after which Crabbe senior became no more than a vegetable (not very different from the Longbottoms) and no one else dared to ever raise the topic ever again.
He ordered Bella to gather his Inner Circle. Whenever he made an appearance in public, he never took the newcomers with him. He had conditioned his Inner Circle for a long time and they knew exactly what he wanted them to do without the need of putting his orders into words. The new wands are more likely to blotch up the mission and be a liability than anything else. Anyways, he suspected they would be terrified themselves if they found themselves fighting alongside the Dark Lord. No, they were better off for causing simple mayhem and muggle killing rather than important assignments.
Fifteen of his Inner Circle gathered near him, waiting for him to give the order. Their number had fallen after someone (he suspected a ministry-appointed assassin) infiltrated his headquarters and killed a few of his faithful Death Eaters and his dear Nagini. When he found out, his rage was uncontrollable. Every Death Eater present in the building that day bore scars to support that fact.
"I thought the boy had enough sense to keep his head low. Apparently I was wrong. But if Harry Potter wants to meet death so eagerly, who am I to refuse him?" he laughed in a high pitched voice that sent shivers down the spine of everyone present. Well, everyone except Bellatrix. She just smiled widely like she was about to have an orgasm.
"Leave no survivors. The boy is mine. The rest does not matter. You can leave a few journalists alone. After all, everyone needs to see how unfortunate it is to be Lord Voldemort's enemy and how foolish it is to oppose him."
The Death Eaters put on their masks and disapparated.
As soon as he apparated in the middle of Hogsmeade, Voldemort's snake-like eyes scoured for Potter. He had always let the boy slip through his fingers in the past. This time he would kill everyone he knows until he had the boy in his grasp. And once he had him, the boy would beg him to end his life, which he would gladly agree to.
The brat was on the stage, pulling out his wand at the newcomers. The journalists started screaming in panic, but no one even tried to apparate away. Though this seemed odd, Voldemort didn't waste time pondering over it. His followers started to destroy everything is sight, while Potter charged right at them. It appeared that Potter hadn't noticed him yet, which was expected since he cast a disillusionment charm on himself as soon as he arrived. It was possible that Potter would flee at the sight of him, and that wasn't a chance Voldemort was willing to take.
After a minute of watching, he realized that he overestimated the boy. He seemed to be throwing a lot of curses, but his aim was so poor that not a single shot landed on any of his Death Eaters. The two ministry Aurors were not going to survive for another minute as everyone else just fled for survival, leaving those two to their jobs.
Deciding that he had seen enough, Voldemort cast a binding spell at Potter, cancelling his disillusionment charm, and by what seemed like an unfortunate stroke of luck, the boy ducked at the last second, noticing him.
The Dark Lord was about to cast a killing curse when something strange happened. The boy shouted something to apparently no one in particular and closed his eyes in concentration and within two seconds, three of his Death Eaters' heads exploded right beside him. All he felt was the wind around him shifting, but no magic. He looked around wildly for the source and within moments three more heads turned to a bundle of blood, gore and brains.
"Three? Are you sure?"
"Yeah. The alignment is perfect."
"If you say so."
"Do it when I say….. NOW!"
After three seconds, there was a reaction.
"Well, fuck me sideways." Someone said with disbelief on their voice.
It was now the Death Eater's turn to panic. They were trying to disapparate (and three more fell to the ground, with large holes in their heads) but there was an anti-apparation ward already in place. Voldemort, however didn't pay attention to his followers, he fired curse after curse at the boy, who seemed to be dancing around them, and only standing still moments before groups of Death Eaters lost their heads.
Voldemort didn't become the most powerful evil wizard in a century without being ruthless. And as his followers would endorse to, he was ruthless to his followers as often as he was with his enemies, if not more. If he had to lose three Death Eaters to get a killing shot at Potter, it was an easy choice.
He did not even turn to look as Lucius tried desperately to disappear just before a metal projectile entered his life and came out of the other side along with his life. The remaining five Death Eaters were moving constantly and avoided that particular projectile, but moments later, another of their numbers fell and there were only four of the Inner Circle left.
In the moment the boy stood still, Voldemort cast the killing curse at the boy once again, but to his utter shock, the boy just shimmered at the spot where the cast touched him and the curse passed right through him. Potter smiled at him.
"Oh you are still here? I thought you'd have fled by now. Apparently, the fact that you can't land any spell on me effectively hasn't worked its way through your brain, has it?" he mocked the Dark Lord, who seemed to be enraged beyond words. He fired curse after curses at the boy and every single one passed right through him as if he were a ghost. To make sure that the boy really wasn't a ghost, he threw some spells that would hurt ghosts as well, but the boy simply seemed immune to magic.
"Maybe, your magic stopped being effective. Did you try to cast a spell at these poor journalists here?" Potter suggested him, pointing at the bunch of people hiding behind chairs and whatever they could find.
He cast a powerful blasting curse on of the journalists, but it just hit the earth behind him, passing through them completely.
"Now let me show you some parlour tricks, Tom. Fair warning, this might hurt a little bit."
No sooner than he finished saying it, Voldemort's head felt like it had been hit with a sledgehammer wielded by that half giant Hagrid. He was sure if his skin wasn't magically reinforced, he would've lost his head as well.
As he fell to his knees from the impact, Voldemort quickly looked around to see only three of his Death Eaters, Bellatrix, Snape and Dolohov were still standing, although they were forced to maintain the strongest full body shield, making them unable to cast any magic.
"Well, this is boring. It's usually you who talks a lot when we meet and although I can see the appeal now, I think I prefer actual fighting against someone who can really do magic." The boy said with a yawn. Voldemort cast another curse at him, with no better effect that before. Beside him, he saw Dolohov drop to the ground, his heart pierced, apparently his magic drained from maintaining the shield and ultimately the shield fell. So the Dark Lord, unable to land any spell on anyone, was left with two of his faithful followers, both of them busy saving their own skin, quite literally. And at that moment, a fire erupted in the middle of the war zone.
For the first time in many years, Lord Voldemort felt genuinely afraid. It has been so long that Voldemort actually felt fear, that the emotion felt alien to him.
Deciding quickly, he prepared to disapparate from the place, but he found that someone placed an anti-apparation charm on the place. He almost laughed at the stupidity. Powering through these fields was as easy as breathing for Lord Voldemort.
Once again, he was shocked when he found that he couldn't. Who on earth was there to match Lord Voldemort's power? For a fleet second, he panicked. But when he saw the figure slowly approaching through the smoke, his jaws hardened and he barely resisted the urge to scream.
"Come to die, Albus?"
He quickly turned at his other enemy, who seemed to be flickering.
"I'll let you two catch on, see you later." Harry said right before he just vanished, along with all the journalists and even the furniture.
Tonks knew she couldn't hold out much longer and she could tell that her team was exhausted as well. In fact, one of them had already passed out five minutes ago. Susan was slowly turning pale as she poured more magic into the wards. For the sake of maintaining their concentration, this group didn't receive any updates on the outside situation, so Tonks couldn't say how many Death Eaters were left. She just knew Dumbledore was now engaging Voldemort in a duel and that Harry had to join in soon enough.
No sooner than she thought of Harry, he appeared beside her and gently put a hand on her shoulder, so not to startle her. She felt her heart flutter seeing him. Although Harry was never in too much danger up to this part of the plan, one could never be too careful, especially when fighting a Dark Lord.
"Everything is going okay till now." He reassured her. "Snape and Bellatrix are the only ones left. We aren't hitting Snape hard, because Dumbledore still claims he is on our side, but I'm not letting him get away to call for backup. And speaking of Dumbledore, the old man is duelling with Tom. How long do you think you'll be able to hold the wards?"
"Not very long." She said in a shaky voice. "Five minutes tops."
Harry nodded and kissed the top of her head. "See you in a bit."
She smiled and nodded back.
"Oh and Dora?" he called, one step already out of the door. She turned at him.
"I love you."
"I think we will have to let those two go if we don't want a lot of people dying from magical exhaustion." Andromeda informed them, a frown on face. She wished that Bella wasn't such a great witch. Actually she wished her sister wasn't such a horrible excuse for a human being, but she knew both were laughably impossible. She knew Bella could hold her shield till they all dropped from exhaustion and then torture them before killing them all. If she wasn't blindly devoted to Voldemort and didn't serve her time in Azkaban, she could've become one of the greatest witches of her time. Shame that didn't happen.
"I have a better idea than to let them escape and our fighters fall sick." Harry called. Sirius shot another bullet at his least favourite cousin and looked questioningly at Harry. Now that Harry was here meant that very few shots actually hit Bella, and almost none at Snape, but they didn't know that or couldn't afford to lose their shield.
"And what is the plan?" asked Andromeda, half a mind to refrain from asking that question. Harry's ideas weren't exactly pleasant to hear, both for his friends and foes.
"Well, it is a bit dangerous..." Harry started and almost everyone in the room sighed.
A few minutes later, Harry was brandishing a Light Machine Gun that fired off a hundred and fifty rounds per minute. Not a terribly impressive feat by muggle standards, but it was portable, so Harry wasn't complaining. He insisted on wearing a red piece of cloth on his forehead, claiming that he looked like a Rambo, whatever the hell that was. Andromeda thought it looked ridiculous, but Sirius approved heartily. Although none of them were happy about this plan, they didn't have a better plan and had to admit that the plan had its merits.
Harry gradually approached Bellatrix, who started cackling madly when she spotted harry walking towards them, though she looked a bit apprehensive of the unknown instrument Harry was holding.
"Aw ickle baby Potter has come to play with the big boys. Ickle baby will get hurt! What is that you're holding Potter? Your new toy?" she asked in a sing song baby voice. Harry surprised her with a wide grin.
"Why Bella, you guessed it right. It is indeed my new toy and I have indeed come to play with you. Wanna see how this toy works?" he replied, and without waiting for a reply he started firing the LMG, targeting the general area around the witch's abdomen.
If Bellatrix wasn't a seasoned Death Eater, the initial shock could've made her drop her shield and die immediately. But she wasn't Bellatrix Lestrange for nothing. Although the shock almost breached her shields, she managed to reinforce her shield quickly without suffering too much damage.
"What the fuck is that thing?" she snarled, not amused anymore. Harry didn't stop the onslaught to respond, he came closer to the mad witch who was now backing away slowly, her shield hampering her mobility.
"Oh just a muggle toy I thought you would like. What do you think of it?" he sneered at the woman, his green eyes resembling both fire and ice at the same time. They both knew that Bellatrix's shield would eventually fall under his barrage. The question was, whether she would abandon her shield to try to attack (which might prove difficult for Harry to counter, but gave him the chance to shoot her head and be done with her), or she would hold on to the shield (which would buy more time for either side, depending on how Dumbledore was faring with Voldemort right now).
Harry would be disappointed if Bellatrix chose to wait out and Bellatrix never disappointed anyone except her elder sister. With a scream, she dropped her shield and went to offensive.
Or tried to, anyway. Before she could even say the spell of a dark cutting curse, her right hand was riddled with bullets, and being so close to the gun meant that the bullets tore through her flesh and exiting through the other end, leaving behind a tattered mound of irregularly shaped flesh.
With another scream, Bellatrix brandished a knife from Merlin knew where and charged at Harry. At that moment Harry knew why she was Voldemort's most favoured Death Eater. The woman's right hand was blown off, her wand destroyed to pieces, but she didn't act like it was anything more than a minor annoyance and she fucking charged at him. Had it been another guy in Harry's place, that sight alone would've made them pee on their pants, but Harry knew that to Bellatrix, pain was companionable. She considered Cruciatus as foreplay. Pain wouldn't stop this woman. There were only two things that could stop Bellatrix. One of them was Voldemort (she had a very unhealthy obsession with the Dark Lord, relishing his most painful punishments) and the other was death, and Harry wasn't entirely sure about the second one. But a man had to try.
"Sorry Andy." He whispered to the earpiece before aiming at the charging witch's head and pulling the trigger.
The mutilated, but once brilliant brain of Bellatrix Lestrange laid on the dusty grounds of Hogsmeade and her body followed after a few seconds. Harry closed his eyes for a moment. A teenaged boy shouldn't be allowed to see this scene, let alone cause it.
When he opened his eyes, he turned at Snape. The man was shocked to his very core to see the incompetent brat killing the most feared witch in the entire western world.
"Drop your shield, throw down your wand and put your hands up." Harry quietly said to his old Potions teacher. The man sneered at him.
"I'm on your side you insolent brat. And I am not taking orders from-"
Snape couldn't finish his sentence as Harry started firing his LMG at him. Snape was a clever man, but he was nowhere near powerful as Bellatrix was. His shield hadn't been tested much, but he wouldn't last two minutes under the gun's sheer force. Harry paused after half a minute.
"I will ask you once again. I intend to take you as a prisoner because I don't trust you. But if you don't surrender now, you saw what happened to poor Bella."
Snape watched with disbelieving eyes as the Potter boy adjusted his aim at his head and started to pull the trigger once again and when he looked at the eyes of Lily, he knew Potter was not bluffing, he would actually kill him!
"Alright! I surrender!" he shouted, dropping his wand to the floor and raising his hand above his head. Harry considered him for a moment and then brought out something from his pocket. Snape became alarmed as he saw what is was: a pistol.
"Now wait boy, we had a deal, you said-" once again, Severus Snape couldn't finish his sentence as the boy fired the pistol at him and along with the sharp pain (but nothing broke his skin) he felt a tug behind his navel and disappeared from sight.
"Reckon I can kill old Tom the same way?" he asked no one in particular.
"Probably not. You don't have enough ammunition to exhaust Voldemort. And even if you did, bullets wouldn't kill him." Andromeda replied somewhat shakily. She didn't feel the slightest bit of regret or sadness for Bella's death. The witch that died wasn't her sister anyway. But she was not prepared to see Harry killing her in such a way. She knew that he wasn't your average innocent teenager, Voldemort has robbed his innocence since he was a child. But still she couldn't bear the fact that such a young boy- no a young man had to see the ugliest side of war at this age.
"Alright. Get a few pepper-up potions ready. I'm gonna end this war now." Harry spoke to his communication device before switching it off. He needed a few moments to himself.
Despite what everyone believed, there was still a big chance that Harry would lose and Voldemort would continue to live. Despite his new influx of power, he never really had a chance to test it to his full strength. He assumed that he packed quite a punch, but he didn't know if it was close to Voldemort, or just slightly better than average. He knew that he couldn't be significantly powerful than Voldemort, as Voldemort himself became this powerful by many dark rituals and years of practice. Dumbledore's power was close (or maybe a bit more than him, magical power didn't have unit to measure with reference to) to Voldemort but Dumbledore was naturally gifted, and he had a century and half years' worth of practice. If Harry grew up as a regular wizarding kid, he might've been a decently powered (probably a bit more than average) wizard, but the block on his magic from the horcrux made him much stronger. And yet he couldn't bet on winning against Tom Riddle. Even if he could match the Dark Lord's power, the fact remained that Riddle had decades of experience over him. Harry knew that and that was why he didn't play totally fair so far.
When Voldemort couldn't hit Harry or anything else a while ago, it was because they weren't really there. The whole scene was just a 3D projected image (the idea came from some bad sci-fi movies Harry watched with Tonks, Edward just produced a magical counterpart from the idea). Harry was nearby under his cloak, making sure that the sniper shooters hit their targets. And when Voldemort was starting to actually doubt himself, he set Dumbledore on him, never giving the Dark Lord a moment to consider everything logically, or call for backup. They guessed, from their fighting styles, that Riddle probably brought his Inner Circle, not anticipating to encounter much resistance. But he was sure Voldy had a bunch of other Death Eaters, who were probably not as important or competent, waiting to arrive if called. Harry and co. had no intention of letting them join this fight. He didn't know if he would be alive at the end of this, but he was going to make sure that Voldemort didn't bother anyone after this.
"Where are those potions then?" he asked, entering the room where everyone gathered now. Andromeda handed her two phials. Nodding, he gulped down both of them. At first, he felt like his insides were on fire. After a few moments, he just felt refreshed and alert, his magic tingling on the surface. The potion was a delicate mixture of pepper-up, magic replenishing potion and caffeine. One phial would give the drinker heightened reflexes, make their magic drain slower than usual and additional physical strength for about an hour. But after the hour was over, the person would be exhausted, both magically and physically, for a day or two, depending on how much strain they went through while on the potion. Drinking two phials would give him more edge on that one hour, but the exhaustion could last for up to a week. That was fine with Harry, because if he defeated Voldemort, he could spend the rest of his life as a muggle and he wouldn't complain. He would've taken even more of the potion, but more than two phials would cause a cardiac arrest almost immediately. The same would happen if the user decided to take another phial until the first one's effects and the following exhaustion had completely passed.
Harry opened his mouth to say some parting words, but Tonks beat him to it.
"Don't even try to say goodbye. Just go and beat that son of a bitch and come back to me." She ordered him and planted a firm kiss on his lips. He kissed her back and for a moment he thought of abandoning this whole thing altogether and eloping to another country, or another continent with Dora, but he firmly put that thought aside. He was not gonna take her away from her home. He was going to give her home back.
As they broke the kiss, she whispered, "I love you Harry."
"I love you too Dora."
Sirius was the next to hug him. He held him tight for a moment and when he released him, he just nodded at his godson, silently telling him to kill that bastard, which he understood. Andromeda snatched him away from Sirius and proceeded to hug him.
"Now listen to me carefully. I just lost the man I loved to this war. I don't want the same thing to happen to my daughter. You defeat that tosser and come back to me. Do you understand?"
"Don't worry Andy, I have no intention of losing or dying." Harry promised her. He shook hands with all men and hugged all the women.
"See you all later. I got a Dark Lord to kill." He said as he strode toward the flashes of light that was the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort.
Albus Dumbledore wasn't faring very well against Voldemort, he wasn't as young as he used to be, and Tom hasn't failed to take advantage of that fact. But then again, Tom wasn't exactly unscathed. The Dark Lord was sporting a few burn marks, his robes tattered and blood flowing from multiple cuts. The dark wizard was quite winded too. His hands which Harry burned in the graveyard was still tender and his old wand, which was also burned to ashes by Harry, was missed terribly by him, as he had over powered three wands since. The new wands weren't used to the quantity or the darkness of Voldemort's preferred magic, so whenever Riddle exerted too much power or performed an exceptional dark magic, the wands had a tendency to become unstable. After all, the wand learns from the wizard and vice versa. Riddle, who cared very little about how wands worked, powered through them and replaced them once they became unstable or, in one case, spontaneously burst into flames.
"Why won't you die, old fool? You know that you can't defeat me. You are still afraid to use any dark magic. You really expect to win against me?" Tom Riddle called out, sending shards of sharp-ended black ice, which Dumbledore melted with fireballs and sent a fire whip back at Voldemort.
As Voldemort's shield absorbed the whip and he sent a blood boiling curse back hastily, he let out a frustrated scream. This fight has been going on for almost half an hour. And although he knew he would eventually win, but it would go on for too long before the fight would reach a conclusion. He was already a bit slower due to exhaustion, and the old fool didn't give any indication of giving up.
"Need a hand, Headmaster?"
"Wouldn't mind, Harry."
Voldemort's snake-like eyes narrowed as he saw the boy approach the duel. Any other day, he would've laughed at the boy's stupidity in interfering a duel between him and Dumbledore, but the boy had shown him that he had some surprises hidden under his belt. His earlier trick, an illusionary charm, probably, wasn't something he ever heard of and there were very few aspects of magic he didn't have knowledge on.
"Come to die, boy?" he called, sending a sinister-looking blue light of energy at him. He had to duck immediately as this opening allowed Dumbledore to hit a powerful cutting curse at him. And he was disappointed to see the boy casually side-step his curse, as if it was nothing.
"Funny you would say that. I don't remember a time when we fought and you ended up as the winner. It's high time I start to spar with someone with better standards."
"Your death will be very painful, boy!" was Voldemort's reply. How original.
Voldemort's eyes flashed dangerously. Not only because of the boy's words (or the truth behind them), but also due the series of spells the boy was throwing at him. They were a very peculiar combination. A Jelly-leg jinx followed by a disarming hex, which was followed by a cutting curse and ended with a reductor curse at his feet. The first two was easily avoided by moving away, the third had to be blocked while the last one forced him to conjure a shield. And to make things worse, Dumbledore was attacking relentlessly, as if energized by Harry's presence.
However, if he couldn't handle two wizards at a time, he wouldn't have been the most feared wizard in a century. He kept up with both of them, though his new wand holding him back enough so that he couldn't gain advantage over either of them.
"Wow you really suck at this." Harry commented, sending two reductor curses at his head and feet respectively. "I expected more from you, Riddle." This time, a bolt of lightning shot out from Harry's wand and Voldemort didn't know the curse and erected a metallic shield.
Which was a bad move.
As soon as the bolt connected with the shield, the shield sparkled like an electrocuted metal dome (which wasn't that far from the truth) and Voldemort's wand relayed the shock to his hand.
Needless to say, having never experienced live electricity before, Voldemort screamed in shock and his grip on his wand loosened. Dumbledore, the most experienced dueler out of the three, didn't waste a second to take advantage (although he made a mental note to ask Harry about the curse at a later date, should the both of them survive the day) of this and disarmed the Dark Lord.
Once again proving that he had adequate reasons to be a Dork Lord, Voldemort rolled out of the next curses and picked out Dolohov's wand, which was lying beside his headless corpse.
Firing off a few Killing curse at his opponents, he tested out the new wand. It was not very good for him. If he cared for wandlore at all, he should've known that the wand would be a poor choice for him, as the previous master didn't give it to him willingly or lose it to him.
"Cover me professor." Harry called and he reached for his pocket. A number of spherical objects, each barely larger than a snitch, came to his hands. Choosing the appropriate ones, he threw at Voldemort. As expected, he threw a shield at the incoming projectiles, which was exactly what Harry wanted. Coming to contact with the shield, the balls exploded and released a reddish cloud. If one carefully observed the cloud, they would have noticed that it consisted of a very fine powder. Also, on closer inspection, the powder would prove to be finely ground chili flakes. Tasty on your pizza, deadly on your enemy's inhalable zone.
Coughing and blinking out the tears, as some of the cloud slipped through the edge of the shield, Voldemort did not see or was prepared for the next thing that came at him: three consecutive flashbangs.
With three of his senses (the three that actually mattered in a fight, incidentally: vision, sound and smell) disabled temporarily, Voldemort did the only thing that any regular Tom, Dick or Harry would do (fitting, him being a Tom): threw curses at everywhere while screaming his lungs out.
And it was a very fitting picture when his screams stopped suddenly. Still unable to see anything, Voldemort didn't see Harry Potter approaching him with a shield erected, nor did he see him pulling something out of an old hat, but he felt the sword of Gryffindor pierce both of his lungs as it entered him from one side and came out of the other side.
He didn't have the chance to feel anything else as Harry pulled out the sword only to swing it again and a moment later, the surprised and mutated head of Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort fell to the dirt of Hogsmeade. Pausing to take a breath, Harry pointed his wand at the headless body of his mortal enemy and blew it to smithereens. He idly wondered if he should embed the head of the Dark Lord in his sword like a Roman warrior. He dismissed the idea. He simply didn't care enough.
"It's over. The fucker's dead." He said to his earpiece, throwing away the sword, which vanished in mid-flight. He knew it went back to its place. Summoning it was very simple. He was a true Gryffindor, and he needed it for a noble purpose. So it appeared when he wished for it.
Pulling out the earpiece and throwing it away too, he looked back at the decapitated head of Voldemort for one last time. The man made sure he didn't have a childhood, caused deaths of thousands of people, and was either directly or indirectly responsible for almost everything that went wrong with Harry's life.
Now that he was gone, Harry realized that he spent most of the last few months planning for this moment, and when the moment came, he didn't feel particularly jubilant. He just wanted to go home, take a long shower, cuddle for a while with Dora and fall asleep together. Not making out or anything, he just wanted to fall asleep with her, without having Voldemort on his mind. He also wanted to gobble down the largest cheeseburger available to mankind. Though that was probably another side effect of the potion he took earlier.
He turned to see a group of people coming at him. The group was led by a pink haired witch, who was practically sprinting. Harry chuckled at her because he knew what was coming before she did.
She tripped and fell face first on the ground.
"Hey beautiful". He called at her, smiling brightly.
"Hi handsome." She purred back with a sultry voice, which would've worked if her face wasn't covered with dirt and she was still sprawled on the ground, facing up at him. He laughed. It was good to know that things were going to be better from now on.
He stood on the same place he did a few days back, with the same company. The end of a war separating the two incidents. Also, this time it was Dumbledore who sought out Harry for a private conversation, instead of the other way round. The terrace overlooking the green expanse of land remained untouched by the war, after all.
"I decided to step down from my position as Headmaster of Hogwarts." Dumbledore said, looking pensive. Harry was surprised.
"Can I ask why?" he asked the older wizard. He still wasn't overly fond of the old wizard, but bringing down a Dark Lord together tended to form a sort of companionship between two people. They weren't friends by any means, not yet at least, but Harry had moved beyond his dislike of the man. Mostly.
"You actually." Dumbledore replied. "I realized that I made a lot of mistakes with you. And you forced me to reconsider many of my other actions, and although I had my heart at the right place, I realized that the road to hell was paved with good intentions. From a young age, I knew I wasn't trustworthy with power. That was the reason I turned down offers for being the minister every time. What I failed to realize was that I had enough power without being the Minister for Magic. I am resigning from all of my posts. I convinced my brother Aberforth to employ me as a bartender in his pub. I think that will do me some good."
"You want to be a barman at the Hog's Head?" Harry asked incredulously. He was having a very hard time picturing the old wizard pouring drinks to strangers. Dumbledore chuckled at the look on Harry's face.
"Yes, I think after all these years, I would like to be a normal person until I pass on to the next great adventure. Although I suspect my brother might prove to be a difficult boss to please." He added as an afterthought. Harry didn't know what to say.
"Well, I hope you find peace with that. I hear bartending can be difficult sometimes, especially with the type of customers usually at Hog's Head."
"Oh I'm sure it is. I will have to work hard to keep up." The old man smiled, his eyes twinkling.
"No Dora, just because I asked you to marry me doesn't mean we have to get married now. In fact, we shouldn't get married now. It should be at least four years before we do that, if not more."
"Are you sure? I mean I can't take a vacation right now, Aurors are needed to lock up the outer circle Death Eaters. But I can leave the job if it is necessary. I mean we have money, don't we? Not that I want to live off your money. I mean I-"
"Nymphadora, shut up." Andromeda interrupted her, giving Harry a look that said 'Why did you have to ask her now?'
"Oh thank Merlin she shut up." Sirius groaned. "Really pup, I'm glad you asked your chick to marry you and all, but couldn't you wait for a few years?"
Harry laughed as Dora pouted and her hair turned deep red.
"Don't worry, she will get used to the idea by the time of the actual wedding." Harry replied, looking at Dora, who stuck out her tongue at him.
"Yeah well, we will see who gets used to what. I am just mildly anticipating the idea of getting married and living in a different house and maybe having to cook and manage stuff like an adult and I think I'll get a house elf cause I'm shite at household chores and-"
"Here we go again." Sirius muttered dejectedly.
"Dora?" Harry interrupted her.
"-which might be a good neighbourhood and… yes Harry?" she responded absentmindedly.
"Did you know that you haven't actually said yes?"
A/N: Here you go. After all these years, I thought I would never finish this, but here I am. To be perfectly honest, I forgot many characters and events that took place in this story and I didn't have time to read them again. So if you have a question regarding it, PM me. (I have stopped responding to reviews, which is a very bad thing to do, but I'm not a very good person either)
I want to thank everyone reading, following and favourite-ing this story and most importantly, the reviewers. I honestly wouldn't have finished this without you people. I am grateful.
I have plans for a Harry/Daphne story next and I have written a few chapters, but I won't promise anything. I will only post it after I finish the whole story, mainly to avoid a delay like this story. Hope to really finish it.
I would also like to say that I read all the reviews, even if I don't respond to them. So feel free to tell me how you felt about this ending.
Thanks for reading.