Hello hello and here it is, the final chapter. Thank you all for your patience over the last ... forever, I know it took a while to finish the story and I'm very grateful to all of those who were patient and continued to be supportive of the work that went into this little piece of writing. Biggest thank yous to those of you who reviewed, I love the feedback so much and it really keeps me writing.
I know the state of the world is getting everyone down at the moment, hopefully this little opus helps to cheer up anyone who needs it. Stay safe and well everyone, enjoy the last chapter and let me know how you liked the ending, it'll help me get through this isolation.
With Dumbledore defeated and all of the occupants of the school having seen the truth of his past, McGonagall surrendered on behalf of Hogwarts and the battle was over. Harry was more than impressed at how well the head of Gryffindor kept herself business like while looking like she wanted to simultaneously throw up and find and kill Dumbledore herself. She apologised profusely to Harry and he could clearly see the sorrow in her eyes directed at him. She felt terrible for what had happened to him and as much as he assured her that he didn't hold her responsible, he had a feeling she would for the rest of her life. The other professors and students were sullen and quiet and most of them didn't look at Harry at all. Poppy, Professor Sprout and several of the Hufflepuff students were huddled together crying at what they'd seen. He couldn't blame them, knowing Dumbledore it was probably pretty awful.
While all of this was going on Voldemort's forces within the ministry, who weren't part of that battle, captured the minister of magic and all of his supporting staff and took them to Slytherin Manor to wait in the dungeons for Voldemort's return. With no minister in place Voldemort's forces within the ministry created an emergency committee to run the magical world of Britain until Voldemort had recovered and was ready to take his place as Britain's ruler.
Everything had gone according to plan and all in all it was the best outcome they could have asked for. Harry and Narcissa used the healing liquids ability to spread the healing around Voldemort's death eaters and any students or faculty who had been injured during the battle, meaning there had been very few student casualties, exactly as they'd wanted. When at last all the work was done, Harry allowed himself a moment to hug Hermione, the twins and his other Gryffindor friends, who were so happy to see him alive and well that they managed to pull themselves out of their doldrums just long enough to do so. He promised to catch up with them all properly when things settled down and left the school with Voldemort and the others who'd come to the school with them.
He was almost out of the door when he spotted Ron, lying tied up on the floor near the door. He turned to the twins and told them they could decide what to do with him, before leaving the room, well past the point of caring what happened to the other boy now. He noticed that Ron began levitating from the room, and when they reached the edge of the anti apparition wards and disapparated back to Slytherin Manor, he came along with them. The twins asked Elsie to take him to the dungeons for them to deal with later, then they turned their attention back to Harry and gave him another very long hug. Hermione joined in moments later and after making completely sure he knew how happy they were to have him back, the three of them bid the gathered group farewell and headed off back to the Lovegood's house to update the rest of their family and Neville about what had gone down.
Harry smiled after them and before he could say anything else he found himself completely engulfed in Remus' and Severus' arms. They both held him for what felt like hours, sobbing quietly into his hair; which Harry knew was a big deal for Severus. He held them back and snuggled into their arms, enjoying the family moment they were getting to share when they may have never had one like it again.
"Harry we're …" Severus tried to speak but he couldn't finish the sentence, and Harry stroked both of their backs gently, knowing how horrified they must have been to hear he was dead.
"I know," he assured them quietly, feeling his own eyes tear. "I love you, both of you."
"We love you too," Remus replied and Severus just nodded.
After a very long time they managed to compose themselves and pull back, kissing his hair as they went, and he smiled at them both, "Words don't come easily to any of us, but I want you to know how grateful I am to have you both with me and how glad I am that you're both okay too. I love you both so much."
"We love you too, Harry," Severus said this time, "And I don't think either of us would have survived if you hadn't come back to us."
They shared another long hug before finally pulling away and heading off to the medical wing to find Draco and the others. Harry hadn't noticed at the time, but Tom had left the room to give the three of them privacy during their reunion and he was sure that's where the Dark Lord would have gone.
They reached the room, all traces of tears erased from their faces with a wave of their wands before they moved through the doors. Harry felt naked walking into the throng of death eaters without his mask, but he figured there was no point wearing it anymore when Voldemort had already announced who he was to everyone during his speech about Dumbledore. He wasn't prepared for all the pureblooded children, who he'd been looking after for the last several weeks, to leap up from their reunions with their parents and rush over to greet him with hugs and smiles. It was nice to know they'd been saddened by his passing and that they were happy to see him.
It was as he was moving through the room, talking to them all and seeing them back with their mothers and so happy, that a thought suddenly occurred to him. When he reached Tom, as much as he just wanted to fall into his arms and enjoy their reunion properly, he greeted the Malfoys and the Lovegoods and had a small reunion with them, hugging Narcissa tightly and telling her how happy he was that she was okay, before taking Tom aside and asking if he could get a group together to take him somewhere.
"Wherever do you want to go, beloved?" Tom asked concernedly.
"Seeing all the children being reunited with their parents, I just realised there is someone I know who won't get that today unless I do something. I don't have to go far, just to St Mungos, but I need to go now before the healing liquid wears off and I can't help them."
Tom looked confused but he agreed, organising for Remus, Severus, Rudolphus and Rabastan to go with them both, as he wouldn't allow Harry out of his sight. The other four looked as confused as Tom did, but they did as they were asked. They were all obviously tired but as reluctant as Tom was to let Harry go anywhere without them. They apparated just outside St Mungos and headed inside. Harry didn't know exactly where he was going, but it was thankfully easy enough to find their way around and it took only a few minutes of navigating to reach their destination.
He slipped into the room he needed alone and was out just a couple of minutes later. He didn't know whether it would have worked, but the gold light passed into the couple he touched and he hoped it had done it's job properly. They'd both been asleep so he wouldn't find out for a while, but really, it wasn't him who needed to be told if it did or not. He thanked the others for coming with him and he saw pride in both Severus' and Remus' eyes as they had both worked out who he'd come to see. He smiled back at them and they all left the hospital together, heading back to the manor.
When they arrived they all split off to head to their rooms, completely exhausted and ready to get to bed. Harry and Tom went straight to their room and after getting a very enthusiastic greeting from Nagini, which Harry returned with just as much enthusiasm, they made their way into the bathroom and Tom waved his wand at the bath to get it running before pulling Harry into his arms. He held Harry so tightly he could barely breathe, but Harry didn't care. He was so happy to be back in his love's arms and he was sure his own grip on Tom was just as tight.
"Harry … I can't believe you're here," Tom said quietly. "I never thought I'd get to hold you again, I thought …" he trailed off and Harry heard his breath catch on a sob. "Harry I love you so much. I kept my promise, I didn't turn back into a murderous beast, but if I'd survived that battle I don't know what I would have turned back into without you. I … Merlin there's so much I want to say to you, but … but I can't find the words," he sobbed.
Harry had held it together with the others, but being back in Tom's arms after being certain he'd never get to feel like this again, he couldn't keep his sobs contained any longer. "It's okay," he assured the other man, burrowing deeper into this arms. "We don't need words, not right now. You've told me you love me, that's all I really need to hear right now."
"I do love you, so much," Tom sobbed, "When you were dying in my arms I felt like my heart was being ripped apart."
"I know," Harry replied. "I felt it too. I wasn't scared of dying, I was devastated that I'd never get to touch you or hold you again. I love you too, more than I'll ever find the words to express to you, I just … I never want to be parted from you again."
"And you never will be," Tom promised. "Nothing is ever going to take you away from me again."
They held each other until they managed to calm down a little, then Harry pulled back and slipped his hand up into Tom's beautiful, long hair, gazing adoringly into his tear drenched, ruby mica eyes. "Kiss me," he whispered and Tom wasted no time in doing what he asked.
Within minutes they'd stripped each other of their battle robes and they were slipping into the bath that Tom somehow remembered to stop filling before it overflowed. They both wanted to get clean, but they put it aside for a few minutes to make love, exploring each other's skin with a fervour one only felt when they thought they'd never get the chance again. Exhaustion couldn't win over their passion and after a thorough scrubbing they were back to claiming each other's bodies. The water was well and truly cold by the time they pulled themselves out of their passionate fervour and climbed out of the tub, but they didn't do more than dry each other before they were making their way to their bed, mouths fused, desperate for each other again.
Nagini stayed close by but didn't get in their way, knowing they needed this time together. She loved them both so much and she would never be able to describe just how happy she was that they were both safe and well and back together.
Across the manor the rest of it's occupants enjoyed their own celebrations.
Draco and his family spent a good deal of time together after getting back from the battle and as soon as Luna was within their vicinity Draco pulled her into a tight hug, thanking her over and over for saving his mother and his father by extension. Both of the Malfoy parents surprised the entire hospital wing by giving her tight hugs of their own, thanking her profusely and telling her how happy they were that they would be welcoming her into their family in the near future.
Everyone around could tell she was equally surprised and pleased by their words and she hugged them back just as tightly. When the family felt they'd had enough time together, Xeno coming to join them after the first little while, they bid each other good evening. Luna headed up to bed with Draco and they spent their second ever intimate evening together. This time without the impending battle to worry them; it was even sweeter than the first had been.
Lucius and Narcissa headed up to their own room to shower and spent the next several hours getting lost in each other. When at last they were exhausted enough to retire to bed for the night, they spent a long time just looking at each other and sharing soft kisses. Narcissa eventually fell asleep and Lucius stayed awake for several hours afterwards watching the gentle rise and fall of her chest and enjoying being in their bed for the first time in several weeks. He hadn't been able to stand being in there without her, the feeling of emptiness had just been too consuming.
Xeno had watched Luna and Draco head up to bed together with a soft smile on his face, glad to see his daughter so happy. He'd been about to head to bed himself when Rodolphus asked him to come out into the corridor for a minute. He followed the other man and was about to ask what was wrong when he found himself being thoroughly kissed. It was amazing and explosive and Xeno felt lust spark within him immediately in ways he hadn't felt since his wife died.
When Rudolphus pulled back a moment later, he looked straight into Xeno's eyes and said, "I love you, I've always loved you, and I'm sorry I never told you."
Xeno was more than a little surprised, but it certainly wasn't an unpleasant surprise. "Well, you've told me now," he replied, pulling Rodolphus into another heated kiss before inviting him back to his room. Rodolphus gave him a heated smile in return and told him to lead the way. Their night was amazing.
Severus and Remus headed up to their room to shower as well and didn't even make it out of the shower before they were leaping on each other. Severus was usually the one taking charge of their intimate moments, but that night Remus was just as forceful as the potions master and Severus would have been lying if he said he didn't love it. They ended their night tucked up together in bed and before Severus fell asleep he looked straight into Remus' eyes and whispered, "Marry me."
Remus' eyes filled with tears as he nodded, "In a heartbeat," he replied, and before he could say anything else Severus summoned a small box from a nearby cupboard and flipped it open to reveal a beautiful gold and amber ring that matched his eyes perfectly. Remus didn't even try to stop the tears that slipped down his cheeks as Severus slipped the ring onto this finger and he allowed himself a moment to enjoy seeing it there before he pulled Severus into a heart stopping kiss.
The recovered ladies spent the evening with their husbands and their children, all of them glad to be reunited again.
Around the continent people celebrated or commiserated.
At Hogwarts the students and faculty waited uneasily for any sign that Voldemort wasn't going to keep to his word and would in fact be returning to kill them. As the early hours of the morning crept in however, they all eventually accepted that they were safe and fell asleep, glad that the battle, and therefore the war, were over.
In Wales the Weasley twins and Hermione returned to the Lovegood house and were immediately pounced on by a relieved Molly and Ginny. Once they were perfectly assured that every one was okay they all sat down to a big celebratory dinner that Molly made before spending a few hours playing games together in the parlour. They finally retired to bed in the early hours of the morning.
And in a dark, quiet ward in St Mungos, a 17 year old boy ran through the corridors to his parents' room, worried sick about why he'd been summoned there and terrified that it might mean something was wrong with them. When he flew through the door and was instead greeted with the sight of his parents, clear eyed and sane for the first time in his life, he almost fell over in shock.
His mother smiled lovingly at him as she approached, holding her arms out to him. "Neville, my sweet boy, I can finally hold you," she said tearfully. Neville all but dove into her arms, not knowing how any of this was possible, but so happy he really didn't care; particularly when his father came over and wrapped them both up in a hug.
He had never been this happy.
There was a lot to do in the coming days and months. There was an entire government to reform and a continent that needed leadership. No one knew what lay ahead of them, but for now the war was over and they could take a minute to just breathe.
No one ventured far from their beds the following day, most of them were too tired and sore from the battle to want to go anywhere, even if they weren't more interested in who was in their bed than what the outside world held. Tom sent out a general message to everyone to rest up for the day and they'd get back to business the following day, something they were all relieved to hear.
When the following day dawned however they all knew they had work to get to. They rose early and enjoyed a companionable breakfast together, all of them congratulating Remus and Severus on their engagement, before Voldemort gave them their tasks for the day.
Lucius was to check in at the ministry and make sure the temporary council was doing all right. He then had to organise a meeting with them and Voldemort for the following day and sort out security for when it was to take place.
Severus and Remus were to check on Hogwarts and get any damage assessed, as well as checking in on the students and faculty and ensuring them that Voldemort did indeed intend to keep to his word.
Draco and Dimitrov were to give everyone a full physical check over to make sure all of the death eaters were in perfect physical shape and none of them had any injuries or curses floating around in their bodies that they were unaware of.
Voldemort and Harry were going to spend the day checking in on all the death eater groups and making sure all the plans were going smoothly. That evening, when everyone had returned, they would move on to Dumbledore's execution.
Voldemort instructed Narcissa and Luna to organise a celebratory party for the following evening and make sure the house elves had everything ready. He told Luna to invite Harry's friends who were staying in her house and instructed she and Narcissa to ensure they all had appropriate attire, knowing they had grabbed whatever they could and ran when they left their home.
Everyone went about their tasks efficiently and as Voldemort received all of their reports he was pleased to hear everything was travelling smoothly. The meeting to set up the new government was scheduled for mid morning the next day, the party was all organised and invitations sent out for the following evening. By the end of the day all that was left was Dumbledore's execution.
Harry, Severus, Remus, Xeno and Luna had created the spells sewn into the large wooden wheel Dumbledore would be strung out on very well. His body would be physically uncomfortable throughout the entire experience but most of his suffering would be mental, until right at the end where the last several spells would destroy his body leaving nothing but burnt ash. The premise of the spell was karmic payback. For every horrible deed Dumbledore had done to another he would suffer proportionately to the suffering he'd caused that person. It started with the lesser crimes and moved on to the more serious ones; so as the execution wore on his suffering would only increase.
He was still spelled frozen as he was tied to the wooden wheel, which also had suppression spells woven into it to keep him from using any of his own magic, only released from the spell when he was well secured and there was no one else in the cell.
When at last he was released Voldemort asked whether he had any last words and he started a speech about how his vision of the world was the right one and they were all inferior to him, and what did they think they could to do him? He was the greatest wizard that ever lived. It was cut short as Harry got sick of listening to his drivel and started the spell.
The execution was exquisite in its brutality and Harry was certain that anyone Dumbledore had hurt, or caused to be hurt, would be plenty avenged and happy that their suffering had been returned in kind. He may not have been able to go back in time and stop him hurting those people, but at least he'd made sure the monster could never hurt anyone else.
When it was over the death eaters who had assembled to watch, Harry was pretty certain it was all of them as Voldemort had needed to magically resize the room to accomodate them all, headed back to their rooms or their homes and Harry and Tom did the same, neither of them in the mood to do anything that night besides hold each other and fall asleep.
No matter how much revenge they got on the old man they both knew they could never get back what he'd taken from them. They also knew though, that more than anyone, they understood each other's feelings very well, and that offered a little comfort at least.
The meeting the following day was very interesting for Harry and he was glad Tom had included him. He'd never been overly interested in politics, but as his lover was going to be the man ruling their continent now he decided he needed to take an interest. He listened intently to all the conversations going on around him and was pleasantly surprised to find that he understood most of what was being discussed, as he'd been involved in the planning with Tom and Lucius for the past several months.
They had hammered out most of the major details, there only seemed to be one real sticking point that was bothering the committee members. Tom had a very frightening past and that was how most of the wizarding world knew him. He was going to be their ruler and they had no choice in that, but the more people were afraid of him, the more likely there was to be a rebellion within the population, and that was the last thing any of them wanted. They were talking about ways to soften his image to the general population and they all seemed concerned about it; all except for Tom himself. He got them all to quiet and he finally spoke, the words leaving his mouth surprising everyone present.
"You all make an excellent point, and I completely agree that the population would have difficulty accepting me as a single, overall ruler. That is why I will not be ruling alone," he said.
"How do you intend to rule then, My Lord?" One of the men asked curiously.
"Well of course I will have a council to help with major decisions, and I will give the public the ability to vote for whom they wish to be included in that council, but I think the best way to reassure the public and quell any fears is to have another ruler, equal in power to myself, ruling by my side; and I know just who that person is going to be," he finished, looking over at Harry.
"Wait, what?" Harry asked alarmed, "You don't seriously mean …? Really?"
"I do indeed," Tom replied with a soft smile. "You are my partner and the partner of a monarch always helps rule the people, I'm just suggesting that you have as much power as I do rather than standing a step behind me."
"My Lord, If I may, are you sure that's such a good idea? Mr Potter is quite young," One of the men asked.
"Actually, as far as maturity goes, Harry is miles ahead of many people I know who are years his senior; that includes myself at times. His life forced him to grow up far sooner than he should have, but he is still young enough to think about and view things differently to most of us here, and I think, right now, that's what our world needs," Tom replied. "Our world is very much set in tradition and there are a lot of areas where I feel this needs to be maintained, however, our world is also changing so much every day, and I think having a ruler who can maintain tradition, as well as a ruler who is young enough to think flexibly, is just what this world needs right now."
He turned to look at Harry again then and gave him a sincere smile, "Harry has already made me a better man, I will freely admit to that, he is the perfect person to rule by my side and keep me from doing anything we'll all regret. Besides," he continued, turning back to address the others in the room, "Who would soften my image better than the man the light has always viewed as their golden boy? Aside from the people at Hogwarts no one knows that he's been part of our cause for the last several months, Dumbledore never made that information public because it would have hurt his cause. You tell the general public that he's the one ruling with me and they're far more likely to accept it and feel safe."
He turned to address Harry again then, taking his hand gently, "It is entirely up to you though, Harry. This is not something I want you to feel forced into doing. I think you are the perfect person to help me rule our world, but you have to feel comfortable to do it. Take some time to think about it, I want you to be sure before you agree, all right."
Harry nodded and Tom kissed his hand gently before turning back to address the others. "Is there anything else you wish to discuss today?" he asked.
They all answered in the negative and Voldemort rose from his chair, bidding them all a good day and reminding them about the party that evening. They shuffled from the room, closing the door behind them, and as soon as they were gone Tom sat back down beside Harry, who was too stunned to move, and took his hands gently. "I know I surprised you today, but did you really expect that you wouldn't be ruling with me? You are my partner after all."
"I suppose in a lot of ways it makes sense. I just always thought you'd want to rule on your own; it has been your dream for your entire life," Harry replied, wrapping his fingers around Tom's.
"Yes it has been, but I know the others are right. People are afraid of me, and as much as that didn't bother me before I'm a different man now. I don't want to walk down the street and have everybody be terrified of me, but I know they're going to be for a long time. If they see you with me though, and they know you have as much power to stop a decision I make as I have to make it, I think they'll be far more at ease, don't you?" he asked.
Harry had to admit he was right, having Harry ruling with him would definitely make things easier all round. He'd never imagined himself ruling the wizarding world, but Tom was also right when he said a king's partner usually ruled with them; this would just be an equal leadership rather than one of them being inferior to the other. It was going to be a challenge, there was no getting past that, but if Tom was with him he was sure he could handle anything. Besides, they were partners now, he'd made that decision all those week ago knowing this was where Tom's life was headed, and wasn't it his job as Tom's partner to support him any way he could. With that logic behind him there really was only one answer to Tom's question.
He reached forward and slipped his hand up to gently caress Tom's beautiful face, leaning in and kissing him softly. "Okay, I'll rule the world with you," he agreed, pulling back to study Tom's face and smiling when it lit up with delight. "Don't expect me to be very good at it though, particularly in the beginning; I have no idea what I'm doing."
"Don't worry, love," Tom replied, "I don't think any ruler really does at the start." He leant forward and kissed Harry, pulling back and giving him an adoring smile. "Thank you, my darling, you're going to be amazing," he purred.
Harry let out a huff of laughter, "We'd best hope so," he replied with a shake of his head.
Tom stood up and helped him to his feet, "Come along, love, we have a party to get ready for."
The party was beautiful, every detail had been painstakingly planned and the ball room was awash with colour. Harry was pleased to see everyone they'd invited had accepted the invitation, including Hermione, Molly and the rest of the Weasleys that were still on Harry's good side. It was weird to see them moving through the throng of death eaters and he could tell they felt a little awkward, but they lit up like christmas trees as soon as they spotted Harry and immediately came over for hugs. Hermione reached him first and threw her arms around him, holding him tightly. She looked absolutely beautiful in a purple gown with her hair artfully styled.
Molly was next and she gave him a hug just as tight as Hermione had. Harry was happy to note that even she was dressed up to the nines and looking beautiful. He knew Tom had ordered Narcissa to make sure they were all appropriately dressed for the occasion and he was glad she'd accepted the offer and hadn't let her pride get in the way. He'd never been a person to judge someone on their money, or lack there of, but she would have looked out of place in this crowd if she hadn't been properly attired and he knew she would have already been feeling out of place enough as it was.
When she'd ascertained that he was in fact fine and didn't have even a hair out of place, she stepped back and let the others in to greet him. They all looked amazing, and despite their discomfort, they chatted animatedly to Harry about anything and everything. It was so lovely to be back in their company and he made sure to let them know how happy he was that they came.
They spent most of the party moving around the room with him and he didn't mind at all, he knew it made them feel more comfortable and he definitely enjoyed their company. They were polite enough not to get in the way when he greeted, or was greeted by, someone else, which he was glad about. Despite everything they seemed to understand that he had duties at the party that didn't include them, and he was pleased to note they weren't at all sour about that.
He'd just done a full trip around the room, talking to anyone who he knew or who seemed to want to talk to him, when he realised he had no idea where Tom was. In the entire time he'd been in the manor this was the longest he'd gone without Tom coming up to talk to him or touch him in some way, and he caste his eyes around the room searching for his love.
"Is everything all right, Harry dear?" Molly asked concernedly.
"Yes, I'm just looking for Tom," Harry replied, scouring the room with his eyes.
"It's so strange to hear you call him that," Molly commented quietly and he turned to look at her with understanding eyes.
"I know it's odd for you, Molly, but it's been the norm for me for quite a few weeks now and I promise you'll get used to it," he reassured her before returning to his search, reaching out with his magic as well.
He was just starting to worry when he felt the man's powerful presence approaching from behind him. He knew the moment Tom was close because Hermione and the others fell silent around him. He ignored their discomfort in favour of turning around and giving his partner a loving smile.
"There you are," he greeted, moving forward to take his hands. "I was wondering where you'd gotten to."
"I didn't go far," Tom reassured him, pulling him close and reaching one hand up to gently stroke his face. "I know it's been a while since you had a chance to properly catch up with your friends and I'm sure getting to spend time with you is making the evening easier for them; I wanted to give you some space."
"Well I appreciate that," Harry replied, "but don't stay away from me all night, all right, I miss you."
Tom smiled, leaning forward to kiss him softly. "Don't worry, I promise I'll never be far," he purred, leaning up to kiss Harry's forehead. "And I will make sure to come back and check in with you every hour all right."
"Half an hour," Harry countered and Tom chuckled.
"All right, darling, half an hour," he agreed, leaning down to kiss Harry again. "I love you," he said softly.
"I love you too," Harry replied, knowing his smile probably looked more than a little sappy, but not caring in the least. They shared one last kiss before Tom pulled away and headed back out into the throng of people. Harry watched him go, thinking about how much he loved the man. It wasn't until Fred spoke that he snapped back to reality.
"Okay, that was weird," the twin said and Harry turned to find the whole group of them watching him with wide eyes and open mouths.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Um, that," Fred replied, motioning to where Tom had just disappeared into the crowd. "I mean that's Voldemort and he was just … sweet."
Harry laughed, he'd completely forgotten that the way Tom always behaved around him was weird for other people. "He is actually," he agreed, "It's one of the many reasons I love him." When the group just continued to stare at him blankly he laughed again and steered them all towards the bar, "Come on, let's get you all a drink."
The rest of the night ran smoothly and Tom kept his promise to check in every half an hour or so, which made Harry happy. His friends eventually stopped staring at him like deers in headlights after the fourth visit or so, and while he knew it would take them a good long while to get past the shock properly, he knew seeing him and Tom together helped them all to feel better about his relationship with the man; he was more than aware they'd all had their concerns and he couldn't blame them.
When the party was nearing it's end Tom stood up in front of the assembled group and called Harry up onto the stage, announcing what they'd discussed earlier that day about Harry ruling the continent as his equal. Harry could tell it was a surprise for everyone that Voldemort would willingly share leadership of the British wizarding world with someone else, but they'd all seen Harry fighting alongside him in the last few months, and they'd found out about their relationship during the battle of Hogwarts, so they were slightly less surprised than they might have otherwise been. Besides, they were all either death eaters or people who'd joined Voldemort's cause during the war at some point and they knew he wouldn't make a decision like this without giving it careful thought. So, despite all of their surprise, their only response was to applaud his decision, and as much as Harry hated being the centre of attention he managed to stand up on front of them all and smile without looking awkward.
When the applause had died down Tom spoke again, "Tomorrow marks a new beginning for our world and everyone living in it. We have a great deal of work ahead of us and I know it's going to be hard, but I also know that together we are all up to the task. For tonight though we put all of that aside and enjoy our victory. It was hard fought and we lost some very good people in the process, but in the end we achieved our goals, and I like to think we honour the memory of those we lost by making the world a better place."
The crowd applauded once more, and this time when it died down Tom was quiet for a moment before he spoke. "It is important to acknowledge our fallen comrades, as well as acknowledge those who fought and came back to us alive. I salute every one of you for a job well done, but there is a group here tonight who I think deserve special recognition. We all know that several weeks ago a group of pureblood ladies were enjoying a social afternoon when they were viciously attacked by the order."
There were unhappy murmurs from the entire crowd and Voldemort gave them all a moment before he continued.
"This attack was nothing short of barbaric and was clearly intended to be a death sentence for every one of these ladies. I don't think the order expected any resistance when they turned up at Lady Zambini's manor that day, but they certainly got some, and it was fierce. When we speak of bravery and valour we often speak of men as it is generally a rule that women are kept out of fighting wherever possible. I have many fine men fighting by my side and I am proud of every single one of you, but I have to say, ladies, I saw what you were up against, I saw the horrendous conditions you were faced with and I saw that very few members of the order who attacked you that day left alive. We all know your husbands are great duellers and fine soldiers when the occasion calls for it, but I don't think it is ever properly acknowledged just how strong and powerful you ladies are."
Voldemort searched the crowd until he found Narcissa and directed the next comment to her. "Darling Narcissa, I saw the order members who attacked you, I know just how hard you must have fought to defeat them, and I am beyond proud to have you as a member of my first circle."
He spoke to the gathered crowd once more. "For those of you who don't know this, Lady Malfoy fought off 5 order members on her own, and while her injuries were extensive she still came out on top." There were murmurs of awe from around the room and Narcissa blushed. "We all know just how formidable Lucius is when it comes to a duel, I have met very few who have bested him on the battle field, but I don't think I ever stopped to consider just how formidable his lovely wife could be when needed. Tonight I want to acknowledge her bravery and valour as well as all the ladies who fought in that horrible attack. To salute those who lost their lives and celebrate those who fought valiantly and survived." he raised his glass and everyone else in the room did the same.
Harry smiled as they all took a sip and Lucius took Narcissa's hand, kissing it softly.
"Now, with all the serious stuff out of the way let's get back to enjoying our night of celebration. Thank you all for coming, and have a lovely evening, you've earned it," Tom finished, and the assembled crowd applauded once more before dissipating back into the conversations they'd been involved in before he'd started speaking.
"That was a lovely speech, handsome," Harry complimented his love.
"Thank you, beloved," Tom replied, slipping an arm around Harry and pulling him close as they stepped off the raised stage area together and headed for where Narcissa and Lucius were standing with Draco, Luna and Xeno. Narcissa's blush was still very much present, but Harry could tell she was pleased with Tom's speech. "I am sorry if I singled you out, Narcissa, but I think it's only right that your valour be acknowledged," Tom said as they reached the group.
"That's all right, Tom," Narcissa replied with a soft smile, "It was very kind of you."
"I just wanted you all to know how proud I am of you. I don't think you, or the other ladies, receive anywhere near as much acknowledgment as you deserve," Narcissa looked like she wanted to argue, but Harry spoke before she could.
"He's right you know. When people talk about your family there's one thing you always hear, Lucius Malfoy is a force to be reckoned with. All anyone ever hears about you is how beautiful you are, which you are by the way, but there's far more to you than that and it's important people know it."
Narcissa looked surprised by the compliment, "Well, thank you very much, Harry, it's very kind of you to say so," she replied graciously.
Harry smiled back at her for a moment, but his expression soon became serious again. "It wasn't the same without you, the inner circle, I don't know how else to describe it except … empty. While you were in that coma I felt terrible for Lucius and Draco, but I don't think I ever realised how much I missed you being around until you came back and everything was just right again. I don't know you very well, lady, despite the time we've been in the manor together, but I'd like to get to know you better. Your presence is far more necessary than I think you realise."
Narcissa gave him a bright smile and pulled him into a gentle hug. "Thank you, Harry, that's a lovely thing to say. I'm looking forward to getting to know you better as well."
Harry smiled back and was just trying to think of something else to say when the band started playing a song that drew Narcissa's attention and she turned to Lucius with a look of delighted surprise, "Lucius it's our wedding song."
"It is indeed," Lucius acknowledged. "Would you care to dance, my love?"
"I'd be honoured, darling," Narcissa replied and Lucius took her hand and led her out to the middle of the floor. It didn't take people long to realise that a couple was dancing and several other couples soon joined them on the dance floor. Harry smiled at how happy they looked floating around the ball room together. He really was happier than he could ever express that Narcissa had recovered.
"Shall we join them, beloved?" Tom whispered in his ear and Harry agreed without hesitation. They moved together out on to the dance floor and Tom pulled him close, holding Harry's hand softly against his chest and slipping his arm around Harry's back as they began to move together in a soft, slow dance. Harry wrapped his arm around Tom's back and up over his shoulder, burying his face in Tom's neck and savouring the feeling of having him close.
The song blended into another and Harry didn't even think about moving, he was far too content. He did however open his eyes for a while and do a quick scan of the room, taking in the sight of all the people he'd come to know over the last several months, happy and enjoying themselves. Lucius and Narcissa were gazing at each other like newlyweds, Draco and Luna were completely lost in each other as well. Xeno and Rodolphus were looking very happy in each other's arms and Severus and Remus had even dropped their usual 'no lovey dove stuff around other people' rule and were enjoying a slow dance together.
This was never how Harry imagined his life would end up. Yet here he was, slow dancing with the dark lord, surrounded by death eaters, and come tomorrow he'd be ruling all of wizarding Britain with his love. He finally had parental figures who loved him and who he knew would stick by him no matter what, something they had both proven several times over the last few months. Hermione and the Weasleys that he cared about were all happy and safe; which is all he'd ever wanted for them and so were his Gryffindor friends.
All in all his life was perfectly weird and he wouldn't have it any other way, a sentiment he was once more reminded of when he and Tom crawled into bed together that night and were quickly joined by a very large snake who wrapped her body around the pair of them in her own version of a cuddle.
Harry kissed Tom gently, wished him good night and told him he loved him, then he leant over and did the same to Nagini.
"I love you too, Harry," they both hissed back to him in parcel tongue and Harry settled down to sleep with a perfectly content smile on his face.
His bad idea turned out to be the best one he'd ever had.
And there we have it folks, the story is finished. What did we all think of the ending? Please review, I'd love to know what you thought. Thank you all for your patience and support with this story, I know it took a while to finish and I'm so glad to finally be done. I hope the ending was everything you hoped it would be. There is an Epilogue in the making and I'll hopefully have it done soon. Like many though I'll be home schooling my eldest while simultaniously looking after a 3 yr old and a 4 month old so it might be a while.
If there's anything particular you'd like to see in the epilogue or any little mini stories I could write as offshoots from this one that might cheer you up a little feel free to review and ask, it I can manage it and it won't completely ruin the story in my mind I'll see what I can do.
Stay safe and healthy everyone xoxo.
Thank you for reading, love to you all.