Holy hell it's been forever. I started this fic in February 2018 and its been like nearly 4 years since I updated. I totally George RR Martin'ed right now, lol. Except without the mountains of money.

In all seriousness, for those that didn't know, during the middle of writing this fic, I had a really good idea for a Naruto fanfiction(The Last Prayer), which is my most popular fic. I then stopped in the middle of that fic for another good idea for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic(Chain of Ascension). I completed my Buffy fic(go check it out. ADULTS ONLY). So, I now get to come back to my other fics. I figured I'd start with From Ruin since fans of this fic have been waiting the longest.

I also changed the tenses for this fic. Chapters 1-26 are in simple past tense now, so if you re-read it, it should feel different. Thank you all for your amazing patience.

10.1K words. Enjoy!

Room 11

High above the grand throne room, King Ragnuk surveyed the unbelievable scene with an incredulous gaze. His attention flickered between his most formidable fallen warriors, his astonished subjects, and, most notably, the unyielding figure of Harry. The young wizard refused to cower under the Ragnuk's intense gaze; instead, his eyes glowed bright green with determination, as if challenging the Goblin King.

Within the majestic walls of the goblin palace, the air crackled with tension. It was a silent standoff, and every onlooker could feel that pushing the confrontation any further might not be the wisest course of action between the resolute King and the indomitable wizard.

Anyone there could see that Harry was an extraordinary wizard. He had single-handedly defeated four of the goblin nation's most formidable warriors and without a wand. It was apparent that, among the goblins, only Ragnuk himself might pose a legitimate challenge to Harry. A question lingered in the air: Would the high-class goblins around Harry want to risk their king possibly suffering a humiliating loss to a human child?

Ragnuk's sly smirk twisted his features with an oddly angled toothy grin. His voice, dripping with royal arrogance, sliced through the tension of the room, stating, "It would appear that thee would be worthy. How misguided must the essence of magic be to bestow such… capability upon one such as you?"

"I lost a lot for this," Harry retorted, his emerald eyes holding a deep, unwavering resolve. "But I wouldn't hesitate to give it all back if it meant getting back what I lost."

"Loss is a poignant reality the Goblin nation is all too familiar with," Ragnuk conceded. "Often inflicted at the hands of humans."

"Or goblins," Harry added, unwilling to let Ragnuk forget the dark deeds perpetrated by his kind. "Dark or otherwise."

"Quite right," Ragnuk returned with a smile.

A heavy silence settled upon the room. Charged with anticipation, all present held their breath, waiting with bated breath to discern the path King Ragnuk would choose. Harry didn't mind fighting Ragnuk, but he didn't believe that would get him the information he wanted. The only thing to break the growing tension was Nova, who flamed brightly toward Harry's shoulder. Ragnuk eyed the legendary bird on Harry's shoulder, casting an ethereal glow around the young wizard. It seemed to spark something within Ragnuk, prompting him to chuckle like a rolling thunderclap that dispelled the lingering unease.

Whether Ragnuk comprehended the significance of the noble creature's choice to bond with Harry or whether he recognized that Harry had defeated four of his most formidable warriors without even using Nova's aid remained a mystery. Regardless, the green-eyed wizard felt more reassured.

"Well, I do believe we've reached an accord," Ragnuk declared, shattering the tension. "Let it never be said or insinuated that goblins lack honor."

Eager for the information he sought about the dark goblins who were targeting his loved ones, Harry pressed his question. "Does that mean you'll give me the information I asked for?"

"No," the king replied, confusing Harry. "Despite your minor victory here, no goblin would ever contract the services of outsiders to fight our battles. Such a notion is inconceivable to our kind."

"I will find Vorkalth and Týr, one way or another," Harry replied, fierce determination clear in his eyes.

"Of that, I have no doubt," Ragnuk stated, his words echoing off the polished marble floors and intricately carved walls. "However, hear me, young one. Those you care for are in danger by a common enemy and you wish to protect them. I understand the desire to safeguard your people, and I mean to bring Vorkalth and his misguided supporters to ruin. We both want the same thing, and we can help each other."

Harry stared at the king, wondering if he was bartering again.

Ragnuk leaned forward, his piercing gaze locked with Harry's as he conveyed his demands."Give me the basilisk," he said. "And not only will we pay handsomely for it, but we will destroy Vorkalth—saving your loved ones—and your ministry need not know of any part your clan played in the serpent's discovery."

Harry saw no point in arguing with the king about a deal he would never make. Absolutely no one was taking Nāga from him. Thus, he turned on his heel, his robe swirling dramatically, and made his way toward the grand double doors of the chamber. Nicolas looked at Harry, the King, and then Harry once again before following his heir. The gathering of noble goblins watched the Flamels as they made their way to the exit.

As the Flamels neared the exit, a commanding voice reverberated through the chamber, bringing their departure to an abrupt halt.

"Wait!" The word hung in the air. Harry and Nicolas turned back to face the King as he finally stood from his royal chair. Harry wasn't the tallest wizard, and Ragnuk seemed to reach to his chest—though that was taller than most goblins.

"Convince me, wizard. Give me a reason I shouldn't demand the payment I desire for the bargain you want," the king demanded, causing a stir of hushed whispers.

Harry rolled his eyes, yet remained steadfast as he retraced his steps back to the king—Nicolas right beside him. Harry answered the king with a question.

"Is anyone here a parselmouth?" he inquired. Harry waited for the king to answer, and when he didn't, he asked the room, "Is there a single goblin in all of this great nation that can speak and understand the language of the snakes?"

The Goblin King hesitated for a moment before replying, "We need not know the language to subdue the beast. Or are wizards having rousing conversations with the dragons they hold?" he sarcastically asked.

Harry remained resolute, and his tone assertive as he replied, "The last wizard to successfully create a basilisk familiar was Salazar Slytherin. He could only do that because he spoke parseltongue, and more importantly, the snake imprinted on him."

As the weight of Harry's revelation began to dawn upon the goblin assembly, they exchanged meaningful glances and murmured in hushed tones. Ever the diplomat, Nicolas raised his voice, further emphasizing, "Meaning, should you find one, you can expect it to kill anything and anyone it doesn't recognize as its master."

"Or you kill it," Harry tacked on. "Now, if you want venom, we have venom. If you want a carcass, we have a carcass. But what we don't have for trade is a living basilisk. This conversation is simple: take our offer or we leave—your threats and demands won't change that."

Staring intensely into Harry's eyes, Ragnuk remained silent for a moment, absorbing the young wizard's words. He grinned suddenly and repeated, "For trade… I'm curious. How did you come upon a basilisk corpse?"

"As I said," Harry began. "Even if you speak the language, they attack anyone they don't recognize as Master."

"You mean to say you slayed a basilisk," Ragnuk finished, causing another uproar of whispered skepticism and gasps. Harry allowed his fierce and unwavering eyes to answer for him, making the king of goblins huff in amusement. "What of the living basilisk the revered professor Filius Flitwick reported to me?"

"I respect the professor," Harry flatly answered. "And I bear him no ill will."

"Are you stating he was mistaken?" the king probed further.

"Whether he was or wasn't, it doesn't change the only things we have to offer," Nicolas replied.

King Ragnuk descended the grand staircase with a regal poise, his heavy footsteps echoing across the polished marble floors. His sharp gaze fixed firmly on the Flamels, Ragnuk approached them, clarifying, "For full transparency, you're claiming that you do not have a living basilisk in your possession?"

"Yes," Harry answered with finality, never once considering Nāga as a possession.

Halting his descent three steps from the floor, Ragnuk leveled his gaze with Harry, ensuring they met eye to eye, as he responded, "Then, regrettably, there's nothing left to say." Harry pondered if Ragnuk actually regretted the failure in negotiations or if it was another play. He didn't seem bothered by not getting his way on the one thing he wanted more than anything.

"It would appear the Noble house of Flamel is bereft of a living basilisk to barter with," the unshaken king stated to all of his subjects. "Pity. Regardless, the Goblin nation is not one to dwell on setbacks in negotiations. While wizardkind often tests our patience, our realm graciously opens our arms to potential business partnerships. Thus, the goblin nation shall engage in business with the Noble and Most Ancient House of Flamel…"

Nearly glaring at Harry and Nicolas, Ragnuk added, "However, should fortune ever smile on you with the discovery of yet another basilisk, you must promptly and dutifully inform us, above all others. For it would offend us beyond measure should any member of your family ever facilitate the sale of such a rare creature to another party without first deigning us with an opportunity of discourse." Gazing intensely at Harry, King Ragnuk posed, "Do we understand each other?"

It was clear to Harry that this was his only way out and nodded before answering, "We do."

The king's face broke into a satisfied grin. "Wonderful," he affirmed, his voice like a boom throughout the room. "The Goblin nation will gladly accept the Basilisk corpse and half of the venom you possess. In exchange, we shall provide expertly crafted daggers and protective wear."

"And the information on Vorkalth and Týr," Harry pressed insistently, feeling his aggravation level rise.

Ragnuk's response was equally firm, his demeanor unyielding. "As I've said, young wizard: that will never happen. We will deal with the usurper. And I consider it a grave sign of disrespect if you continue to insist on waging war in our place, as if we were mewling children!"

Frustration bubbled within Harry, a storm of emotions churning beneath the surface at the thought of his friends remaining in danger of Týr and the dark goblins. He couldn't help but think Voldemort wouldn't accept such a deal. He wouldn't barter. Voldemort simply took what he wanted, and if he couldn't, he would deceive or decimate whoever he had to attain what he desired.

A hint of desperation tinged Harry's voice as he demanded, "What am I supposed to do about my friends? Týr and his team got into Hogwarts once; they can do it again."

Ragnuk's expression shifted to one of boredom, as if he had grown tired of dealing with this matter. He turned to walk back up the stairs as he said over his shoulder, "Hence the very reason we're supplying your companions with armor made from the basilisk hide. Our most revered rune masters will also add defensive features befit for a king. In return, I shall expect delivery of what we agreed upon within the hour. Farewell, wizards."

Harry grappled with a sense of powerlessness, a seething frustration building within him. He knew further negotiations with Ragnuk would lead to drastic measures, possibly the death and destruction of all goblins in Gobelin. 'Fuck,' he thought.

With a courteous bow, Nicolas acknowledged the goblin king's terms, and Harry followed suit. However, before they left, Harry couldn't help but make one last statement, a mixture of gratitude and veiled warning. "Thank you, King Ragnuk, for your wisdom and generosity in these negotiations. My friends mean everything to me. So much so, it wouldn't be a stretch to say they keep me centered. If anything should happen to them, it's hard to say how drastically I would react."

Ragnuk merely grunted in amusement, his crooked smirk revealing traces of admiration for Harry's daring. The humans and Flitwick were led to the large double doors.

Outside the throne room, Nicolas couldn't help but let out a long exhale. Palm on his chest, he exclaimed, "Merlin! That took decades off my life!"

When the Flamels returned to Gringotts, it was Nicolas who shouldered the weight of negotiations. They were led into a private room to barter for the dead basilisk and the venom. Though the bank manager Ranrok—who was negotiating on behalf of King Ragnuk—insisted on several kilograms of the dangerous substance, Nicolas remained unrelenting and argued that they didn't own that much.

The amount they were providing the goblins would already send them to Azkaban; however, if they wanted to protect Nāga, they had no choice but to hand over an illegal amount of the venom. Still, Nicolas was unyielding and Ranrok agreed on an amount that would only sentence their House to one life-term in prison, rather than execution.

With an uneasy deal finally struck, Harry and Nicolas flamed to the Chamber to retrieve the sixty-foot basilisk carcass. When they returned to Gringotts, they were escorted to a large receiving room for all sorts of immense products. Once the goblin inspectors had given their nod of approval after scrutinizing the basilisk corpse, they instructed the Flamels to send an owl detailing the clothing style and measurements required for the basilisk-hide armor.

"After which, you can expect the delivery of your items within a fortnight," Ranrok informed them.

Once outside, Nicolas turned to the frustrated Harry and let out a long exhale. Harry understood why. Dealing with the goblins was nerve-wracking for anyone who didn't want to start a war. With a tilt of his head, Nicolas beckoned Harry to follow him into the bustling streets of Diagon Alley. Harry wanted to return to his friends, but he complied and followed him.

Nicolas advised, "Don't look so down, Ares." Harry erected a privacy shield as the alchemist added, "We kept them from taking Nāga, and ensured the goblins won't reveal anything to the Ministry about the venom or the basilisk. I know you wanted Vorkalth and Týr, but this is still a win."

"It doesn't feel like it," a despondent Harry muttered.

"You and your friends will have the highest quality in protective clothing any auror would kill for," Nicolas added, though it didn't cheer Harry up. Knowing the young wizard as well as he did, he simply smiled and added, "And, if need be, you can always lure Týr into trying to kill you by pretending to be bait."

Harry raised an eyebrow at the suggestion, his lips quirking into a hesitant smile. Nicolas chuckled in amusement, then led the teen to Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. There, he ordered half a dozen of all twenty flavors they had available. Ice cream in hand, Harry then followed him to the Leaky Cauldron, where Nicolas ordered three casks of Butterbeer. With their delicious treats and drink, the pair finally return to Room 11.

In Harry's previous timeline, Room 11 had served as a spacious classroom for Firenze, where he comfortably taught divination. Within its walls, the room expanded to encompass a small forest and a starry night sky. But today, the large room was meticulously designed to mirror the Gryffindor common room; styled in hues of rich red and lustrous gold. The room had an opulent array of plush couches, love seats, and elegant tables for everyone to sit in around the centerpiece of the room, a magnificent circular fireplace. It was like the pupil in the circular room, crackling flames that captivated all who gazed upon it. Soft, velvety curtains cascaded from the lofty windows that nearly reached the high ceiling.

As the afternoon sun streamed through the expansive windows, the room was bathed in a golden glow. Yet, it wasn't just the sunlight that gave the splendid room a pleasant feel; the scenery outside the windows could be seamlessly transformed into any desired landscape at the wave of a wand. One moment, they could gaze upon the verdant trees of the Forbidden Forest, and the next, they could be overlooking the serene waters of the Great Lake.

Unlike the layout of the Gryffindor dormitory, there were no opposing staircases to separate the genders. Instead, four-poster beds lined the circular room, each draped with privacy curtains reminiscent of the bunks in the infirmary. The curtains around each bed allowed for a sense of seclusion, ensuring a peaceful sanctuary where one could change or be alone.

Harry and Nicolas flamed into the cozy and warm prison, and everyone—Perenelle, Alice, Tonks, Luna, the Grangers, the Delacours, Daphne and Astoria, Tracey and her mother Sharon, the Potters, the Weasleys, and the Malfoys—quickly gathered over to them. Charlie, Molly, and Tonks helped set the ice cream and casks of butterbeer on the tables for all to partake in while Alice asked after their whereabouts. Nicolas began explaining a heavily edited version of the meeting with the goblins to seek any help they could offer.

"We managed to broker a deal by which they will tailor the finest armor for the children to wear," Nicolas told the group. "It'll be made of basilisk hide, which, if you don't know, is not only strong in its defensive capabilities, but light and flexible. Additionally, the material couples extremely well with most magic. And if that weren't amazing enough, they'll also inscribe the very best goblin defensive runes into the garments."

While Nicolas spoke with the adults, Harry grabbed a mug of butterbeer and sat at a table as far away from everyone as possible. He was quickly followed by Hermione, Fleur, Daphne and Astoria, Tracey and Draco, and Luna—with their own mugs of butterbeer. Though Harry wanted to alleviate their worries about the Dark Goblins, the Weasleys, and Hardwin followed them so he couldn't say much. They were quite excited to receive goblin-made armor and asked Harry about meeting the goblin King.

"So, what about the dark Goblins?" Hermione inquired after his explanation of events.

"Ragnuk said they'd handle it," Harry answered, though the idea of leaving something so crucial in someone else's hands twisted his stomach in knots.

"I suppose we're waiting until we hear back from them," Daphne commented.

Tracey chimed in, "Alice said that the Ministry and Sirius are forcing Dumbledore and the professors to amp up the school's defenses. So, I feel like we'll be safe this time."

Harry assured the teens gathered, "Don't worry. Even without the information on the dark Goblins, I won't let things stay like this. Count on being back in your dorms or homes before the Yule ball."

"What are you going to do?" the worried Hermione asked.

"Whatever I have to," Harry solemnly answered, pondering a plan.

After a moment of tenseness, an eager Tracey couldn't stop herself from asking, "Sooooo, what style will the armor be in?" They all turned to her, bewildered by the question, and she elaborated, "I've seen the uniforms at Gringotts, and you'd think they were working at a mortuary rather than a bank. No, no. I'd rather not look like some creepy undertaker."

Taken aback, Harry stammered, "Uh, I'm not sure."

"Merlin! You don't know?" a surprised Fleur asked.

Noticing how shocked both Tracey and Fleur were, Harry hesitated to answer, "Y-Yeah. Uh, whatever the standard for armor-wear is, if I had to guess. Maybe an Auror look?"

"Non, non, Monsieur Trouble Star, you cannot!" Fleur exclaimed.

"What's wrong with what Aurors wear?" Fred asked.

"Yeah, they're wicked," George added.

Fleur emphasized to everyone, "We must be able to wear zhem anywhere and not appear out of place."

"And still look like we have a sense of style!" Tracey added, earning a collaborative nod from Fleur.

"We must decide on zhe proper style!" Fleur declared to her sister in fashion appreciation.

Bubbling with excitement, Tracey rushed to her bunk as she called out, "Let me get my sketch pad!"

Harry wasn't sure how much he should intervene, so simply stated, "They need our measurements either today or tomorrow."

"We weel 'andle zhis, Arez," Fleur replied happily, following Tracey.

The conversation within the group became casual, discussing more mundane things. Hermione and, to some extent, Daphne were insanely curious to learn about how he removed the paper gyve around Nova's foot. As Harry explained the intricate steps to revealing all the runes and disarming them, he noted how distant Daphne appeared. Having experienced the loss of so many friends and family, he empathized with the pain she was likely feeling.

Dinner was another interesting twist to the day. Their meal magically appeared on the dining tables. The Weasley children, Hardwin, and Tonks ate together. The adults dined together—Lily, the Grangers, Sharon, Apolline, Alice, and the Flamels. Harry found himself at the center of his group, which included Hermione, Luna, and the Slytherins. To everyone's surprise, Sirius returned during dinner with Arthur, Bill, and Xenophilius.

Ever the peculiar one, Luna expressed her happiness at the sight of her father with, "It's a relief you haven't been murdered." After which, she asked how his search for Crumple-horned Snorkacks in the forests of Sweden went. He seemed to be upset he hadn't been able to locate one, but was undeterred.

The Lovegoods spoke amongst themselves, as did the Weasleys, who were overjoyed to be together again. The Grangers seemed content to speak with Appoline since they spoke fluent French. Hermione and Perenelle joined as well. Despite the grim and life-altering circumstances, everyone seemed to be getting on. Harry hadn't expected that, certain that everyone would be dour. He had, however, expected Sirius to stand and address the gathering.

The Head Auror had spoken with Alice and Tonks first before explaining to everyone how the next few days were going to go. Standing on a table, he gathered everyone's attention before stating, "Alright, everyone. In light of everything that's happened, it's absolutely vital that we're all informed on three things: what's happened, what will be happening moving forward, and how best to protect ourselves. To that end, what's happened? The ministry has confirmed that Dark Goblins are targeting this group."

"Why us?" a concerned Molly asked. "And who confirmed this?"

Sirius replied, "Ragnuk, king of the goblins, said so himself. The reason being-"

"A Slytherin by the name of Ares," Ron snidely interjected.

Unfazed, Harry continued enjoying his strawberry peanut butter ice cream as Arthur sternly rebuked, "Ron!"

"That's incorrect, Ron," Sirius clarified. "Dark Goblins are actually trying to kill the Flamels." Ron blushed furiously, appearing to shrink a bit under everyone's gaze. The rest of the gathered eyed each of the Flamels, likely assessing how unfair that was.

Holding his wife's hand, Mr. Granger sought further clarification, asking, "But why are we included?"

Sirius explained, "Through Ares Flamel's statement, we learned that the Dark Goblins named each and every person in this room—marking them for a similar fate if they were unable to kill any of their intended targets—the Flamels. King Ragnuk has confirmed this is a standard of practice for this faction of goblins. If they can't get the target, they'll get anyone the target holds dear."

Aghast, Ron asked in abject horror, "Since when does a Slytherin hold a Gryffindor dear?"

"Since that Slytherin isn't blinded by the biases of House loyalty!" Hermione snapped back.

Adding additional details, Sirius stated, "More specifically, it seems known that Ginny, Fred, and George regularly practiced dueling with Flamel and his friends."

Molly, Arthur, and Charlie turned to the three in surprise, and Bill replied, "Really?" more amused by his younger siblings than anything else.

"What?" Fred responded, eying his family. "How could we possibly know that not all Slytherins were complete gits? It's a real head-scratcher."

Draco rolled his eyes but said nothing.

"We're as baffled as anyone here," George cheerily chimed in. "Getting on with a Slytherin is even more surprising than being marked for death by Dark Goblins," he added.

"Anyway," Sirius cut in. "Now that we've confirmed the threat is all too real, here are the steps we Aurors—along with Hogwarts—are going to take to ensure everyone here remains safe throughout this crisis. The Ministry is working as closely as it can with the Goblin Nation. Though we can only assist when they request it, they promised to keep us up to date with any new developments."

Lucius scoffed dismissively before stating, "If you truly expect those wretched goblins to stay true to their word, you're an even bigger fool than I feared, Black. They care for nothing but their insatiable greed and false sense of superiority."

Glaring at Lucius, Harry coldly retorted, "Sounds like someone I know."

Cutting in quickly, Sirius continued, "Regardless, Headmaster Dumbledore—together with professors Flitwick, McGonagall, Sprout, and Snape—will be enhancing the school's security, specifically strengthening the wards against Goblin magic. The portraits will monitor the halls, while foe-glasses and probity probes have been stationed throughout the castle to detect and show concealing spells or objects. Tonks and Alice will be stationed here at all times, while additional units will patrol the grounds. When I say we're doing everything, I mean it." Looking at Harry, he added, "I even made sure Dumbledore knew not to bind Nova."

Indicating toward Harry with his chin, Hardwin asked Sirius, "Won't that mean he can leave whenever he wants?"

"I won't leave unless absolutely necessary," Harry stated for all.

"I trust him to make that call," the auror told Harwin. When Sirius turned to Harry, the teenager almost panicked—hoping Sirius didn't recognize his old friend. "I'm sure he'll tell us if anything serious happens." Harry nodded. Sirius then turned to Nicolas, and with a smirk, stated, "I heard you managed to procure some top-quality basilisk hide protective gear for the kids—with the best goblin runes even. I don't know how you did it, but I'm glad you did. That'll help tremendously."

"Just traded some old things for it," Nicolas responded casually.

Turning to the group, the Head Auror continued informing the group, "Now, as for the day-to-day—as inconvenient as I'm sure this will be—I'm afraid you must all remain in this room for the time being." Many of the children and a few adults began to groan and protest. Sirius raised his palms, assuring them, "I understand—trust me, I do—but your safety is our top priority, and that trumps your comfort. So, bear with us."

"Will anyone be allowed to move freely?" Sharon asked.

With a hint of apology, Sirius sadly replied, "Alice and myself will be the only ones to come and go."

"For how long?" she pressed further.

Sirius gazed at Tracey a moment before solemnly answering, "Until we're sure our kids are safe." Taking her daughter's hand, Sharon nodded in understanding as Sirius continued, "Tomorrow, we'll be extending the room to include a class area for schooling, a play area for some relaxation, and a training area. All training and sparring will be overseen by an Auror, a professor, or a capable duelist—no exceptions. Classes will be conducted by Nicolas, Perenelle, and Lily. Should anyone here need anything vital, please speak to Alice, Lily, or myself."

Unexpectedly, Narcissa raised her hand, and even Lucius seemed surprised as she asked in her regal voice, "Cousin, can anyone here teach the children? Or must one be a professor or potions master?"

"Since Lily and Perenelle are official Hogwarts professors, you can speak to them about that," Sirius answered. "It'll be their call."

Turning her attention to Narcissa, Lily stated, "We can talk about it tomorrow morning if you'd like."

"Yes, I would," she replied, ignoring her husband's suspicious eyes. If Lucius had anything to say, he clearly intended to communicate his displeasure in the privacy of their curtained section. Harry imagined Draco wouldn't allow his father to speak too candidly to his mother.

"Anything else?" Sirius asked the group.

Mr. Granger raised his hand and asked, "What about my wife and I?"

Nodding, Sirius replied, "If there's anything you'd like to do to occupy your time here, I'm sure we can accommodate you. Sharon or Lily can help out in any way you need, since they're muggle-born. I promise you…" Addressing everyone, he restated, "I promise all of you: we'll do everything we can to root out this threat so you can go back to leading your lives."

Sirius once again asked if anyone had any further questions. Eying the Auror, Harry wondered if the man truly meant that, because, if so, he had an idea he couldn't voice in this room—an idea that too many people would be against if he brought it up publicly. Regardless, he felt it was a plan that would lead to the best outcome.

After dinner, Harry checked on all of his friends before bed, ensuring they knew he would be nearby if they needed him. The last two individuals he visited were Daphne and Astoria. He stood near the entrance of the privacy screen, inquiring as to how they were holding up. When Daphne's sullen eyes met his, he understood her natural propensity to refrain from sharing too much. Even still, her nose turned red and her eyes watered a little.

"It's odd," she began, her voice fluttering with uncertainty. "I can't understand why it hurts. It shouldn't. For years, he's been cold… a shell of what he used to be. And now he's gone. I should be glad… but instead, I'm…"

Daphne's expression grew tense—as if she were battling to contain her feelings—and Harry wasn't sure how to reply. Part of him felt he was to blame for the loss of her father, which meant he automatically lost the right to ever speak to her again. That side of him thought that she should be cursing his name for all the evils he brought to their lives. This darker side always made him feel like he deserved to die for even existing.

However, he couldn't wholly accept that bleak reality because, for some odd reason, many people around him refused to see him that way. He knew Nicolas and Perenelle didn't believe for a second that he was a plague upon their lives. He felt Hermione was the same, even though she hadn't known him for long. Eying the grieving beauty before him, Harry wondered if Daphne, too, would also believe he wasn't solely responsible for all the misfortunes that had befallen their lives.

With a measure of hesitation, Harry replied, "I've lost… a lot." He cleared his throat as he started feeling a dry scratchiness. His chest felt tighter, but he said, "I lost my parents… and I lost the closest friends to me. Uh, I just want you to know that I understand what you're going through. So, no matter what you feel, you're not alone."

In a voice as fragile as glass, Daphne asked, "How'd you get through it?"

With a weak smile, Harry admitted, "I don't reckon I ever did." Daphne responded with a small, understanding smile before bidding him goodnight. Harry felt an urge to say, "Someone once told me… grief is the price we pay for love." She stared at him through red-rimmed eyes as he added, "The fact that you're feeling like this means there was love. And there's nothing wrong with that."

Daphne took a step forward and enveloped Harry in a heartfelt hug. He momentarily lost his balance but quickly regained himself, embracing the grieving girl back. The beautiful blonde was distraught, and Harry was glad he could be of some comfort—after all, he never had that when he lost his friends. Sadly, amidst the compassion, the hormonal side of him never rested, and he couldn't stop noticing how pleasantly warm she felt. Her sweet scent alone was arousing. Harry had enough self-control to let go at the appropriate time, but he couldn't deny the frustrating intensity of his physical response.

Harry was taken aback when Daphne kissed his cheek before rushing inside her curtained room. The spot where she kissed him felt so hot. He palmed his cheek to make sure it wasn't on fire. Harry hated how fast his body reacted to such simple physical affection, and he wondered why. He knew it was odd—since he never felt this hormonal when he'd been a teenager—but then he recalled his conversation with Nicolas.

'The Elixir of Life,' he thought, wondering if the life-preserving potion coursing through his veins was the culprit behind the overwhelming arousal he felt for specific girls around him.

A faint, knowing giggling caught his attention, and Harry turned to see Alice, Perenelle, and Lily standing near the Potter's partitioned space, attempting to stifle their grins. He whipped away from their knowing gazes and quickly rushed to the Flamel's designated section. Rushing past Nicolas, he informed the man that he was headed to the Chamber before flaming away.

As Harry happily greeted Nāga, he was praying to any deity who would listen to ban all gossip for the next few days. After feeding his basilisk, Harry turned his attention to the last task of the day: breaking into Dumbledore's desk. In Draco's rush to leave Dumbledore's office, he brought the entire desk with the scrolls, tomes, quills, and bowl of candy still atop of it. Now the large brown desk stood as a venerable centerpiece in the middle of the empty Chamber of Secrets.

Circling the desk, Harry couldn't help but appreciate the polished wooden surface, a rich brown hue earned through decades of use. The desk bore the scars of countless tasks undertaken upon it, preserving the history of its service under many headmasters. It seemed to possess an aura of quiet majesty, as if exuding an air of enchantment.

Heightening his sensitivity to magic, Harry extricated his wand and scanned the sturdy desk. Faint wisps of arcane energy seemed to dance just beneath its surface. Harry could sense one drawer, above all, had many spells and incantations woven within its wooden fibers. Runes, etched in intricate patterns, lay subtly hidden, their purpose veiled to all but those who understood their cryptic language—those like Harry. To better understand the ward of the bottom right drawer, Harry dismantled the weaker defense of the drawer above it, and then slid it out, giving him a view of his prize: Tom Riddle's diary.

'I reckon he never expected anyone would break into his office—let alone steal his desk,' Harry thought—though, he lamented not being able to remove the diary from above.

Time slipped away as the young rune master studied the warded furniture—from the firm and unyielding legs to the ornate carvings depicting images of ancient wisdom and mystic creatures—looking for any weakness he could exploit. As Harry's white wand hovered over the surface, there was a visually perceptible quiver of the magic that coursed through its timeworn veins.

For hours, Harry tested various theories for retrieving the diary without triggering any traps. The night sprawled on as he methodically worked to dismantle the difficult wards, ever mindful of the fact that Dumbledore might respond at any moment. After all, the Headmaster already knew about the Chamber of Secrets. If he ever made the connection that Harry was a parselmouth, it would easily motivate him to try to enter the chamber. Harry couldn't risk losing the diary simply because he was tired and needed sleep.

Exhausted to the point of weary, Harry eventually concluded that without Dumbledore's magical signature—using the most powerful wand on the planet—he would need to brute force the drawer's exceptional ward. Unfortunately, Harry had grown so fatigued by that point that he was wary about undertaking such a focus-heavy rune-break. The slightest miscalculation could set off a trap or trigger an explosion large enough to kill him and Nāga.

'Should I leave it for tomorrow night?' he wondered, dreading the possibility of Dumbledore somehow locating and retrieving his desk. He didn't want to leave, but he wasn't ready for such a grueling undertaking—like attempting delicate brain surgery with his feet.

Harry's alternate plan for retrieving the diary was to shrink Nova to the size of a fly, have it flame past the wards, grab the diary, and then flame back. However, his phoenix's natural defenses were extremely resistant to all sorts of magic. He doubted with near certainty that it would work. And then he tested shrinking Nova. Not only did his avian friend not enjoy it, but she barely shrunk.

"Sorry, girl," he voiced, petting his familiar apologetically.

Staring longingly at the diary he so badly wanted to destroy but couldn't reach, Harry briefly contemplated reaching out to Dumbledore and negotiating for the Horcrux. Though, if Dumbledore truly was under its influence, he didn't expect the sage wizard to cooperate. The possibility of that encounter ending in a grand battle was quite high. Additionally, bargaining would only alert Dumbledore that Harry knew about the diary.

"Fuck," Harry cursed, wishing he could just drown the entire desk in basilisk venom and be done with it.

After a moment of stillness, his sluggish brain moved toward the idea. Harry looked at the drawer he'd already removed, then back to the diary that was right at the top of the stack. As an idea formed in his mind, he grinned broadly, albeit weakly.

"Harry Potter, you daft git," he berated himself.

In the subsequent twenty minutes, Harry gathered the items he would need to enact his plan: a dagger and basilisk venom. He meticulously rigged the bottom of the drawer that was above the diary with a rune scheme that would complete Harry's ultimate goal for the Horcruxes. After flaming to the Shrieking Shack with the desk, then flaming to his bed, he went to sleep with a small smile at the thought of never actually needing the diary.

Nearly three hours later, the dimly lit room was bathed in the soft morning glow as a lethargic Harry, his pajamas wrinkled and hair disheveled, dragged himself out of bed. The familiar scent of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the aroma of toast and scrambled eggs, teasing his senses. After tying his hair back, he reached the breakfast table and was surprised by who greeted him. Sitting beside Hermione was the brawny Viktor Krum, dressed in a well-tailored Durmstrang uniform, explaining to all what happened.

As the story goes…

Igor Karkaroff argued vehemently about how unfair it was to exclude Durmstrang's champion from the secret sanctuary—as three of the four Triwizard Champions were taken to an unknown location. He demanded his champion—along with himself—be allowed to join, to ensure they wouldn't plot against Durmstrang. Igor threatened the British Ministry that the Bulgarian government would dispute any results of the final tasks, and he would not cease quarreling until all four champions were at the same level of competition.

After much debate, Sirius only agreed if Igor was excluded from entering, since the Hogwarts Headmaster nor Beauxbatons Headmistress were with their champions. The Aurors scanned Viktor Krum thoroughly—to make certain it was him—and he had to comply with several conditions. Krum explained to those gathered around for breakfast what he readily agreed to do.

"I sign de… how do you say… otkaz? Formulyar za otkaz?" Krum asked the gathered, looking around for anyone to understand him.

"A waiver," Nicolas translated.

"Da!" Krum exclaimed, nodding at the Immortal Alchemist. "Uwaiber," he said. "I say to dhem, clearly: I unterstand. I place myself in danger. But dhis is not problem, I say. I champion. I fear no danger."

With a starstruck expression, Ron mumbled, "Wicked," loud enough for most to hear.

Krum added, "I also agreed zat I vood not leave dhe area un-teel dhe threat has been neutralized."

The adults at the table seemed pleased to welcome the Bulgarian Quidditch star, and the Weasley family—dressed in their colorful, mismatched attire—eagerly engaged in conversation with him. Still feeling the weight of exhaustion and hunger, Harry didn't care one way or another about his attendance and filled his plate.

After a satisfying breakfast, Harry, Nicolas, and Perenelle returned to their curtained off room for a private conversation. With a deft wave of his white wand, Harry erected his privacy charm as he hoped they wouldn't oppose his idea too sternly. He didn't want to argue with them.

"I don't think Ragnuk is going to be the solution to our Dark Goblin problem," he ventured, his voice tinged with doubt.

Perenelle's gaze locked onto Harry—her eyes reflecting her worry—as she replied, "I'm already worried about where this is going."

"It's not…" Harry couldn't seem to finish, as he knew it would be incredibly dangerous. "It'll only be dangerous to me."

Eying him with raised eyebrows, the motherly Perenelle countered, "And that's supposed to make me feel better?!"

Harry exhaled an exasperated sigh, and Nicolas, ever the mediator, quickly interjected, "What's your plan?"

"Well… you actually gave me a good idea yesterday," Harry nervously pointed out.

Recalling their conversation outside of Gringotts, Nicolas' head slumped in defeat.

Dreading the context Perenelle was missing, she eyed her husband suspiciously as she asked, "He did, did he? And pray tell, what sort of inspiration did you provide, my dear husband? Hmm? I'm dying to know."

Caught off guard, Nicolas turned to his wife with raised palms and quickly explained, "I was only trying to cheer him up."

Her piercing gaze cut through his flimsy excuse, and returned in a stern voice, "How?"

"Okay, guys," Harry interjected. "I know you're worried about me, but don't be." With sharp green eyes—as if envisioning the danger of his friends—he threatened, "The Dark Goblins are the only ones who need to be worried."

Nicolas and Perenelle eyed each other, speaking without words about how much they worried when Harry's intentions veered toward homicidal. Nicolas asked, "So, I take it you're going to use yourself as bait?"

"Oh, Merlin, help me," an exasperated Perenelle muttered as Harry nodded and affirmed, "The plan to be bait is simple… but the first step will be the tricky part."

"What's the first step?" Nicolas asked.

"Misinformation," Harry answered.

Curiosity piqued, Perenelle inquired, "Why's that tricky?"

"Because the trap we have to set can't feel like one," Harry answered. "It needs to feel completely authentic, or Týr and his crew won't come out." Recalling the dedication of the goblin warrior, Harry added, "I can just tell. He's patient. He'll wait a year if he has to for the perfect opportunity to strike at any of us. And I can't let that happen. I can't let him get in the way—not for that long. I have to end him now."

With a grave expression, Perenelle asked, "So, what did you have in mind?"

"We need to talk to Sirius," Harry answered. "More specifically, you guys need to talk to him, since we can't risk him suspecting I'm his best mate's son… other son."

"It wouldn't be the end of the world if they did," Perenelle remarked.

Harry sighed before reiterating in a drawl voice, "It would only get in the way."

Perenelle huffed, eager to refute him, but held it in. Nicolas instead asked, "And what are we talking to Sirius about?"

The corners of Harry's lips had a hint of mischief as he said, "How tempting it is to crash festive events, like weddings."

Nicolas and Perenelle exchanged worried glances, a sense of trepidation settling over them like a dark cloud.

In the ensuing weeks, life at the hidden refuge was rather relaxing for Harry and went by fairly smoothly. Many of the adult witches and wizards helped transform the place into a haven of learning and camaraderie. Now, beside the sleeping area, a spacious, semi-circular classroom stood. Polished mahogany desks were evenly spaced, offering ample room for each student to study, brew potions, or transfigure objects.

The room was bathed in the soft glow of an enchanted sun, a warm and inviting atmosphere for all the students—Harry, Hermione, Fleur, Gabrielle, Astoria, Daphne, Tracey, Draco, Luna, Ginny, Ron, Hardwin, Fred, George, and Krum. They studied Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, History of Magic, and Defense Against the Dark Arts in that classroom. The array of personalities and backgrounds made for an eclectic mix, but as none of them could leave, they had little choice but to set aside the pettiest differences.

While in Room 11, the fifteen students were taught by six of the adults present. Their professor for Charms was Lily Potter. She taught just as earnestly as Flitwick and was just as impressed as the half-goblin every time Harry effortlessly completed the day's task. Harry tried not to draw attention to himself when she was around and would often volunteer to help others or finish any homework assigned.

Nicolas presided over Potions class, and everyone enjoyed his style of teaching as much as they enjoyed Perenelle's, who continued to teach History of Magic. Nicolas' simple explanations and his patience helped many students understand the work faster than they would have under Snape.

In the Transfiguration class, Appoline guided her students with a firm hand and was quite adept at skill. Fleur and Gabrielle were excited to see their mother teaching, as were many of the male students. Professor Appoline's form-fitting attire was the stuff of fantasies, and George and Fred, in particular, were eager to be scolded by her. They often found themselves on the receiving end of Molly's stern reprimands.

To Harry's surprise, Narcissa Malfoy turned out to be an excellent Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor. She wasn't malicious, as one might expect of a Malfoy, and her methodology was thorough. She often used Harry to demonstrate spells, jinxes, or curses, but he never sensed malice or intent to harm behind her actions. He had even sparred against her and found she was quite adequate with a wand. Harry imagined that with a prodigious and cruel sister like Bellatrix, Narcissa had to be a fairly competent duelist.

Due to the secluded nature of their hideout, astronomy and herbology were classes constrained to written studies, resulting in a multitude of essay assignments. Lily ultimately enlisted Molly's help in these subjects, as she had plenty of experience gardening and was decent at astronomy.

Aside from the spacious, semi-circular classroom, most of the group spent their time in the training center that Tonks, Charlie, Bill, and Alice created. The expansive space boasted three dueling squares, several training dummies, a weight training area, and an immense swimming pool. Sunlight streamed through the large windows and torches were on every wall, easily illuminating the training space.

The weight room and pool were Harry's request—so as to maintain his cardio and muscle training. None of the Gryffindors could allow the Slytherins to show them up, and would join in swimming or muscle training—which was tough for them as most of Harry's housemates had been training for longer. Still, Harry shared his knowledge with anyone who asked.

Arthur, Sharon, and Lily helped Daniel and Charlotte Granger recreate a movie theater for everyone to enjoy, complete with a large screen and comfortable recliners. It took some magical tinkering to get the projector working, but they figured it out. Many gathered to watch a movie at the end of their day to unwind. Arthur was delighted by the entire enterprise, and to Harry's surprise, he enjoyed it as well. He could faintly recall when he lived in the muggle world how Vernon and Petunia rarely let him see any movies.

In a comfortable recliner surrounded by friends, he watched the moving pictures and almost felt normal. Almost everyone enjoyed The Breakfast Club, Ghostbusters, and The Princess Bride. Everyone was enthralled by Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, the Indiana Jones trilogy, and the Star Wars trilogy.

Other than working in the theater, the Grangers mostly read books or exercised. Percy, Lucius, and Xenophilius created the oddest entertainment room. It was a mixture of a sitting room for reading and playing wizard chess. Surprisingly, Ron could beat the adults more often than not.

Amid the diverse backgrounds and life experiences of the thirty souls residing in the confines of Room 11, an unexpected harmony began to take shape. Their days unfolded with a disciplined routine, beginning with a workout at the unforgiving hour of five in the morning. Harry's exercise with Draco, Hermione, Daphne, and Fleur remained unchanged. Only now, Krum, Bill, Charlie, Ron, Hardwin, and Tonks joined them as well. Together with the newcomers, the group swam in the enormous pool and trained rigorously in the weight room, and Harry wasn't sure why. After all, it wasn't as if he coerced any of them into training at the crack of dawn—aside from Draco.

After a hearty breakfast, all the students would attend their classes. Fortunately, the professors were more lenient than the school's professors. Every time Harry finished the assignment early, they allowed him to do as he pleased until the next class. Most of the time, he used the remaining class time to finish any homework that was assigned. Despite often finishing first, Hermione, Daphne, and Fleur were never far behind.

Lunch was often a grand feast with everyone in the room, filling the room with pleasant aromas and hearty conversation—minus Lucius, who felt too dignified to eat with everyone. The hours post-school were the most coveted. Since the top students were generally done with their after-school assignments in a few hours, Harry, Hermione, Daphne, Fleur, Luna, and Draco spent plenty of time in the expansive training room dueling. Harry fought against any of the adults that challenged him—Charlie, Bill, Tonks, Alice, Narcissa, or Sirius, whenever he was available—however, even if they offered more of a challenge, he never had to try hard to win. There wasn't a single soul in Room 11 who couldn't believe Harry was an exceptional duelist.

Of all of his opponents, Sirius was easily the most formidable, followed by Alice and Tonks. Sirius could wandlessly cast as fast as Barty Crouch Jr and employed more strategies than Harry expected. If Harry were a regular wizard, Sirius would win every time. However, Harry had his magic-sight, and with it, he could anticipate the likely attack, track the trajectory of the attack, and correctly guess the nature of the spell. That insight allowed Harry to evade, block, or parry as needed, and counter without much difficulty. Their duels became a captivating spectacle of entertainment and education for the crowd watching.

The Head Auror took his losses good-naturedly, often joking about recruiting Harry into the Auror's ranks, a notion that brought a wry smile to his face. Though Harry would prefer to stay as far away from Sirius, dueling the highly trained Auror served a secondary purpose that was necessary for his plan. If he were to become bait, Sirius and the other adults needed to have absolute confidence in Harry's abilities.

With this in mind, Sirius, Alice, Bill, Tonks, and Narcissa organized several ambush scenarios that would test Harry's resilience and skill. The young wizard would have to fight without the aid of Nova, his wand, and sometimes, be restrained in some way. Time and time again, Harry dominated every ambush scenario, confirming to the adults he could likely survive the role of bait.

Following the trails, Sirius, Tonks, Alice, Nicolas, Perenelle, and Harry had a frank conversation about Harry's plan. It was a candid discussion they had in the privacy of the semi-circular classroom while the others in Room 11 were watching a movie.

After they all heard Harry's plan, Alice openly voiced her apprehension with concern. "I don't like this, sir," she told her boss.

"The plan will work," Harry affirmed, eying her with certainty.

Alice's reservations ran deeper than the mere feasibility of the plan, and sharply told Harry, "That's not why I'm against it." Turning to Nicolas and Perenelle, she ardently argued, "I won't pretend to know the dynamics of your family, but this is his life we're putting at risk! Surely, there must be another way."

Nodding in solidarity, Perenelle answered, "I agree." She glanced at a stubborn Harry before stating, "I'd love nothing more than for Ares to be plagued with the most mundane of problems—girl troubles, finding a career he'll love to do, being nagged about grandchildren. But, for him to do any of that, he'd have to ignore a litany of injustices in this world—children in mortal danger, an unsafe school environment, bullying, inadequate educational courses, fighting the darkest deeds of men—and Ares is simply incapable of doing that."

"When we first met him," Nicolas began explaining. "We pledged our unwavering support and promised to do all we can. It's been a challenge at times, I'll admit. He seems to have an uncanny knack for sustaining injuries." The others chuckled and Harry rolled his eyes and sighed at the slight embarrassment creeping up on him. Nicolas continued, "But despite all of that, when it comes to preserving the peace—to saving lives—I trust no one more. And make no mistake, we most certainly are in danger."

Perenelle echoed her husband's sentiments, adding, "While we may not like the idea of our Ares offering himself as bait, I know he can protect himself better than most. If he thinks we should, then this plan is more than likely the best course of action."

Following several moments of deep thought, Tonks asked her superior, "Are we actually doing this, cousin?"

"Maybe," Sirius said, his face etched with great worry. "If Sharon doesn't kill me first."

Alice, Tonks, and Perenelle winced in unison, their expressions contorted with concern for him—easily imagining how that conversation would go. Though no one heard an argument, Sirius found himself resigned to sleeping on a couch that night—fortunately, all the couches were comfortable.

It was hard for Sharon to accept that such a reckless plan could be the best option available. Not only did it put Harry and the Aurors in danger, but it would fool their guests—small though the guest list may be. Rather than attending a wedding, their guests would, in actuality, be escorted to a safe zone to wait while the operation concluded. It wasn't until after Harry and the other students received their basilisk hide armor that Sharon's stance began to soften.

Fourteen students tore through their finely packaged box for the treasure within, while Harry read the note he'd received about his daggers before opening his box. The note detailed when and where he could pick up his magical weapons. Harry was relieved to read it would be at Gringotts, on the morning of Sirius's wedding.

Fred and George were beside themselves with joy, but it was the sight of their tweed, three-piece suits that left every student awestruck. With Harry's magic-sight, he could see that the dark slacks and blazer, tapestry vest, thigh-length overcoat, white dress shirt, and striped tie were infused with the magically resilient basilisk hide threading. He recognized that these suits were brimming with formidable magic that was defensive in nature.

The moment each student donned their elegant yet functional suit, the accents of the aristocrat vest and striped tie changed to their house colors—satin green for Slytherins, royal red for Gryffindors and Durmstrang, and French Blue for Ravenclaw and Beauxbaton. Though the girl's suits were more form-fitting, adding a sensual appeal—or possibly the way Fleur was modeling her attire—they were all designed for the ultimate protection. Collectively, the young witches and wizards, standing together, nearly looked like a mafia.

The Goblins left a letter detailing the remarkable features the armor had. The runes woven into the fabric endowed the suits with the ability to self-repair over time and be flexible, growing seamlessly with the wearer. Attempting to remove the attire without authorization would instantly suffer from the Jelly Finger hex, making it virtually impossible to forcibly take the clothes off—a feature all the girls loved.

There were additional features of the runes woven into the fabric. The suits were also capable of camouflage as needed; absorbed up to medium impact-based curses; utilized the wearer's magic to momentarily enhance its shielding effect; and even regulated the temperature so the wearer was never too hot or cold. Clad in these enchanted suits, the group could face many life-threatening situations and possibly survive.

One of Harry's concerns was quickly solved when Nova landed on his shoulder and her talons could still pierce the suit, reaching his shoulder and trapezius muscles. Harry wondered if it was because of Nova's connection to him as his familiar. However, when she could latch onto Draco as well, he imagined it had more to do with how creatures sacred to magic itself—like a phoenix or a unicorn—possessed an inherent power to transcend the defenses of the suits.

There were additional instructions on how to set a location for emergency apparation, and the six buttons on the cuffs were, in fact, edible—four of them served as emergency healing tablets while the remaining two were blood-replenishing tablets. These suits were truly sentinels against harm, and they provided Harry with a sense of relief. Along with the shrunken brooms he bought for his friends, he felt much more comfortable about their safety when he wasn't around.

In their enthusiasm, Fleur, Draco, and many others wanted to spar against Harry with their suits on, and he didn't mind, as he could test the effectiveness of their defenses. One by one, Harry brought them down, tagging them with different minor spells—as he didn't want to hurt them—but none of them were truly hurt. They simply got up and dusted themselves off, rejoicing at the feeling of being completely fine.

Their defensive wear became the deciding factor for Sharon, and she agreed to use her wedding as a sting operation. "This is what I get for falling in love with an Auror," she jested, earning a tender kiss on the cheek from Sirius.

Aside from everything else, the girls finally had a chance to meet Nāga. It began with Fleur asking to see his snake familiar. Daphne quickly found out and asked to see him as well. Soon enough, all the girls saw Nāga at least once every few days.

Time passed without an idle moment, and as they approached what Witch Weekly called the wedding of the year, the adults heavily encouraged all the young ones to practice their ballroom dancing. Draco and Krum proved to be two of the best dancers, and while Harry didn't mind the activity, Krum's inclination to partner with Hermione was growing annoying. It wasn't jealousy—after all, all the boys danced with all the girls. Often, even the adults would dance with the teenagers. Narcissa enjoyed dancing with her son, and Harry even danced with Perenelle. The bitterness in Harry's mouth had more to do with the thought of losing his dearest friend. He simply despised the idea of losing her.

On the other hand, Harry grew fond of dancing with Fleur—more than he felt he should. Even though he only focused on his 3/4 steps, sweeping posture, and leading their dance, he couldn't deny feeling upset when it came to an end. He felt pathetic for feeling so conflicted. Despite agreeing to be in a relationship, he had a hard time getting rid of his fear of her head on a wall because of him.

Even still, Harry expected to have more occasions to be alone with Fleur. He was confused about their relationship. They became a couple and kissed. She even went as far as to agree to a third girl in their relationship—which he was wondering if he should come clean about. Despite the steps forward, they have yet to spend any time together, and that confused Harry because that was how it should be. He should be alone. But there was a part of him that fought that rule.

Something deep in Harry—a weakness by his estimation—wanted something more than the grim destination of sacrificing himself to ensure Voldemort died. Being around his friends and loved ones had opened his eyes to what life could be like—one he couldn't help but desire. Harry grappled with the unfairness of being the one to sacrifice himself to rid the world of a Dark Lord. He thought it wasn't fair, but he knew it was the best and only way to save everyone around him.

But before any of that, he had to deal with dark goblins first.

I hope you all enjoyed that. The next chapter won't be a long wait. In order to write this chapter, I needed to write most of the following chapter as well just so I'm not missing anything.

If you spotted any mistakes, please let me know. I don't have beta writers for this fic.

For my Last Prayer fans, you won't have to wait too long. I'll get back on it soon.

That's everything. Thank you all again. I hope you have a great Labor Day. Be well,


PS. Happy Birthday little sis.