Harry tried to pretend to be asleep and listen to the conversation. He had to try to understand what was happening.
"It was your portrait Albus. It had all the clues. I'm so happy to see you back! I can't tell you the number of complicated plans ruined trying to get control of the boy. He's just too powerful to allow to live." Was that the Minister of Magic?
"But the prophecy! He must be allowed to defeat Voldemort!" Albus nearly shouted.
"The last of the Dark Lords minions are dead. I've cleaned out Azkaban. Only your Professor Snape here and one other live who carry his mark." Same man. But who?
"And Voldemort never made for the stone?" Albus demanded.
"No. After Quirrell was killed in the ceiling collapse near Fluffy, there wasn't a single sign of him. The Centaurs reported no unicorns hunted. No signs of anything foul. Nothing." That was Lupin talking.
Harry dared a peek.
The Minister of Magic was there, next to a now empty portrait. Harry recognized the fancy frame.
Albus stroked his long white beard. "My wand. Do you know what happened to it?"
Dumbledore was looking around, so Harry quickly shut his eyes again.
"It was never discovered. Perhaps Minerva put it in the school vaults, but she refused to talk about it. Said it was your business." That was Professor Snape.
"Dear Minerva was always so loyal. For the most part."
"Albus, do you think you could heal my arm?" Diggle begged. Then hiccuped loudly. Twice.
"Oh, you poor man! All for me." Dumbledore hissed some quiet words in parseltongue. Just because he couldn't speak it anymore didn't mean that Hadrian didn't notice it when others used it. Especially with magic.
"Thank you Albus. That's much better. Now, what to do about Mr. Potter."
"There's something you should know, Professor. Lord Black had found out about the Dark Lord's horcruxes and was destroying them. My information, which I count as reliable, says that he found them all." Was that the Minister?
"Yes, Ogden. He'd have the resources to find all but one. The one within Harry himself."
"Well then. Let's kill the boy, and be done with it!"
Several voices argued against that idea.
"How is the boy to marry my Ginny if he's dead? And his family has done nothing but help mine! Percy, the twins. I'll stand here and fight you myself if you try to harm this boy. I was told he had to give up some blood to resurrect Dumbledore. Some potions, and no harm done. But no one said anything about killing anyone. We never did in the order! We are fighting magicals!"
'Go Mrs. Weasley. Except for the marrying your daughter part.' thought Harry.
"Surely curse breakers have seen such a situation before. They likely know how to remove a horcrux from a live person. Not that I'm opposed to killing the Potter brat. But I too am bound by life debts. No matter how unwillingly, I would have to fight you or risk my magic, Minister."
'Love you too Professor Snape. At least I know your tells. You like me, maybe not a lot. But you do.' Harry thought to himself.
"I swore to Narcissa that I would avenge her husband's killer. Question the boy! He killed Lucius just as he killed Dumbledore!"
"What is this? Harry killed me? I don't recall it."
"That's because your horcrux is in his head!" Diggle giggled. Clearly the medicine had some alcohol in it, and the man was slightly built and more than a little drunk. "You have to kill him to kill the Dark Lord, but if you do, you become mortal yourself. Problems, problems."
Harry felt sick. He had parts of two mages in his head? Is that where his power came from? Well, even if that were true, he'd rather be free of them both and powerless as a muggle rather than put up with that!
"I've never found another way. I always hoped it would be the Dark Lord that tried to finish what he started. Then Harry would have a chance to come back. But no, if he is carrying my horcrux, which I do not remember right now, then we can't kill him. I need to make sure that every bit of Voldemort is gone before we do anything else." Dumbledore intoned.
"And if his head does hold a horcrux, and it's you-know-whos last one, then what? Will you stand and kill the son of James and Lily? They supported you completely! James lost his inheritance because of you! Charlus nearly cut him off completely as James was so generous to you!" That was Remus Lupin's voice. "They were my friends. I won't let you kill their son!"
The minister just had to jump in. "Friends, friends. Nothing need be done here today. Harry's family is likely looking for him. We can't let him go. This is about our world. Dumbledore, Black has damaged our world beyond recognition, warped young Hadrian's mind, turned him into an assassin. You can ask him!
All eyes went to Harry, and Lupin came over to the couch where Harry was pretending to sleep. But he had heard enough.
"Come on, lad. Time to get up now." Lupin had sniffed at him early, and was sniffing him again.
He gently shook him and allowed him to sit up. His hands were no longer bound, but he was wearing the awful cuffs. They were making him sick and weak.
"Let the boy use the loo." Remus said. "I'll go with him."
He walked over to the bathroom, and opened the door, turned on the water. "I won't let anyone hurt you. I swear. I just owe him so much...I'm very sorry. I should not have betrayed you. I was lied to, told you would be returned to your family immediately after the ritual."
The Heir to the House of Black felt very weak, but he saw that Dumbledore was weak as well. Very weak. If Harry died right now, what would happen to Dumbledore? Would he become stronger? Weaker?
Would he die as well?
The twins burst into the tent. The tent that Harry had given Mrs. Weasley, the tent that was inside all of the security protections and wards.
"Mum! Mum! We need to help find Harry Potter! His family is frantic. If he was port-keyed away, he might be dying! If he doesn't get to St. Mungo's soon, he won't make it! Have you found your mirror yet?" Fred said, but George was tugging on his robes.
"Is that Alberforth? I didn't know he came…"
Both boys were stunned by a woman Harry didn't recognize.
"Those are my children! How dare you!" Mrs. Weasley shouted.
Lupin demanded to know in low tones if what the twins said was true. Harry reluctantly said yes. He wasn't sure who he could trust right now. He really thought Lupin liked him.
"I really need to go to the hospital. By muggle means. I doubt we can borrow Grandfather's carriage. Or I will be dead. If I understand right, at least that would make Dumbledore mortal."
"You mean if this lot doesn't return you to your family, you are going to die? Why did your family let you come in such bad shape?" Mad-eye Moody came up, wondering what was taking so long.
"I am or rather was getting better. It's the stupid port-key! I'm not supposed to spin or travel by floo with my head not fully healed. And I didn't want to disappoint Hermione, she was looking forward to all of the interesting things…"
"A girl? Potter! Urgg…teenagers." Moody was clearly angry at the situation, but Harry didn't ask to be portkeyed.
Lupin pushed Harry into the loo, and shut the door. Harry could hear the group getting louder, and Lupin and Moody whispering. He was dizzy and sick. The clarity he had earlier was fading, and he was becoming confused.
He tried to release the cuffs, but the emergency button wouldn't work! It wouldn't work!
Who could he trust? Professor Snape had likely helped him with a potion at a critical time. He would never betray the man by saying thank you. If Harry lived through this, he owed the man something though. Going to him now would mean his death. Both of them.
The door to the loo opened again.
Harry held up his hands, and Moody undid the cuffs with a key.
"The release?" Moody asked.
"Didn't work." Harry declared.
Moody looked punched. Betrayed. His eyes, both of them focused on the Heir of House Potter.
"When is the coach due back?" Moody asked.
"It's here, waiting for me nearby." Harry informed them. "I'm late getting to it."
"Can you ride?" Lupin asked, and Harry couldn't help but grin.
Bulstrode was a patient man. He had his smokes, nearly a year's salary for a few hours work. And it was a lovely summer's evening. He sighed in contentment of being out and about with his lovely winged horses.
Suddenly, he had company.
"Harry wants to ride back instead of taking the carriage. Is that all right?"
"You Lupin?" He demanded.
"What's the password?"
Lupin scrambled, then remembered both the smell on the boy and that Harry had a copy of the map according to Moody.
"I solemnly swear I'm up to no good."
"How many mounts do you need?" Bulstrode asked, climbing down from the carriage.
Mrs. Weasley had been the perfect distraction. No one took a wand to one of her children! And trying to hurt Harry Potter? She would never have been a part of this if she had known he was injured or sick. It was her wand work that took out more than half of the Order by herself, Moody, Lupin, and Snape all joining in.
Harry was extremely nauseous and took a moment to release his stomach contents onto a stunned and newly resurrected Dumbledore. Lupin agreed that his robes looked better now too.
Moody then stunned Snape and Molly, with their permission, to give them an alibi. Of course, they were planning on saying that Alastor and Remus were chasing after Harry, not helping him escape.
That would give things away there.
The flight was magnificent. Riding a broom was one thing, but this, this was magical.
Mad-eye led the way. He wasn't whooping like Harry was, but all three wizards would be happy to repeat the flight. Anytime.
Well, Harry was willing to skip the concussion part.
"You're late, young man! But it looks like there was some trouble, so I'll be getting you in. Are you coming or going gentlemen?"
They reluctantly dismounted. The flight would make its way back home, maybe even making some friends along the way. One of the mares had been in season, and had embarrassed Lupin twice with her antics.
They went into the hospital, and Lupin took out his mirror. His old mirror.
"Harry, where have you...Moony."
"You didn't tell me."
"Peter betrayed us."
"He's not the only one. I'm with Harry. The minister wants him dead. A promise to Narcissa."
"Much becomes clear. Perhaps Dobby isn't insane."
"Just conflicted loyalties."
"I won't let Dumbledore or the minister kill him."
"Dumbledore? But Dumbedore's dead."
"Not any more."
Ares Black thought hard. "I swear, I am and always shall be your friend. And I would do anything for Hadrian."
"You could have killed Harry as a baby, and anytime in the last 8 years or so. You have helped me more than once with food, shelter, money and jobs. You never blamed or shamed me for being who I am. I swear, I am your friend. I am loyal to Harry as well."
"We have to get Harry to the hospital."
"Already done, Pads. Now, send us the goblins. And get the rest of your family to safety. Dumbledore knows that Daphne and Hermione are the keys to getting to Neville and Harry. We also need to protect Harry from the Minister." Lupin looked up, clearly very worried. "This is the nasty part."
"It gets worse? How can it get worse?" Ares demanded. No, he was outed. Sirius Black demanded.
"Dumbledore had a horcrux. He used Lily's murder. A murder he arranged for. "For the Greater Good, of course." He didn't want Snape to have her, Snape would have left his service. Dumbledore put it in Harry's wound where you-know-who's horcrux already was.
The mirror turned blue for awhile.
"Yeah, that's my thought as well."
"You're right. It's worse."
Some people thought the Daily Prophet was a publicly owned company, as shares would now and then become available for sale.
The ministry owned 70%. Never sold, traded, or borrowed against them.
It gave the ministry complete control over what was printed and what wasn't.
The World Cup took over the paper for the next several days.
A small article, below the fold, talked about a miraculous cure. Dumbledore had been under a curse, and a pureblood witch had come up with a cure. He had only been listed as dead as the coma he had been under was considered incurable. Blah. Blah.
No one had heard of the mentioned healer before or since.
Dumbledore, when seen in public looked ill. Very ill.
Dumbledore knew that there really only was one solution if the boy was dying.
Harry Potter had to die before he drained Albus Dumbledore completely.
Heir Potter created the key to defeat Dumbledore. His godfather was a seer. He knew. Harry had to be powerless. Harry was a mage of a level that had never been recorded before.
Losing his powers would likely kill him.
The night before they were to come home from St. Mungos. Ares had had a bad dream. A see-saw, only it was somehow Dumbledore getting stronger as Harry did, and Dumbledore dying when Harry did. And if Dumbledore grew into power he would destroy House Black and House Potter before stealing all of their resources. And use them to form his version of the world. Betray the secret. Combine the worlds.
Destroy the wizarding world, for the muggles would undoubtedly track all of the magicals down and kill them to the last. Just as Vernon Dursley would have done, multiplied by millions, billions.
Hadrian couldn't let him do that. He just couldn't. What was one life compared to the balance of humanity?
Neither could live while the other survived.
Harry was skipping rocks. His mount was nearby eating grass with Daphne's mount. Neville and Hermione had declined to ride, but the four were enjoying a good-bye picnic. Harry had left letters for his family knowing that they would never understand or support what he planned to do next.
"Harry, I'm going to miss you so much!" Daphne wailed.
Harry thought that their friendship had mostly recovered from Daphne's crush. Hadrian really held very few grudges. He trusted his friends. Hannah, Susie and Justin may not be as close friends, but he had left them letters as well.
Hermione was crying. They both realized that they had had potential to be more than friends. Their magic revelled in being close to one another. It was gentle, peaceful to be with her.
Harry drew Hermione in for a warm hug. There was no more time left. He wanted to say goodbye to his friends before Dumbledore recovered his power. Before it was too late to defeat him.
At least Neville's parents, Hermione and her parents, and Daphne and her parents would be safe. Potter Manor wasn't even crowded yet!
Arcturus had decided that Hermione's parents, well dressed in the finest robes available, were clearly royal squibs, not muggles, and therefore would be tolerated. He had even had dinner with them.
"Solence says that she's looking forward to being beautiful again." Harry told her. "Even if she's acting like a different girl this time."
"Prat. Just don't be kissing her!"
Harry drew her in. "You are my first kiss, love."
Harry Potter pulled Hermione in close, and they shared their first, sweet, loving kiss.
'And my last.' The thought they shared together.
It was nearly time.
"Padfoot, could you be Prince, just for a minute?" Hadrian asked in a small voice.
The Grim was there, protector of the innocent.
"I just kissed her. She's the one. I know it. Oh, Prince!" Hadrian hugged his dog, and cried into his fur. The 'what if's' nearly distracting him from his path.
And then it was Sirius Black holding the boy, placing him in his lap like he had when he was younger, holding him, rocking him. Kissed him gently, sweetly on his forehead.
"Let's find a way to transfer this to me, you're too young…" Ares started. "I can't let you…"
"Sleep, Father." Hadrian told him, and used magic on him before laying him gently on the couch. And kissed him on his forehead just as the man had done him. "I love you too."
It was time.
Tiberius folded the letter neatly. His source hadn't been wrong before.
"We need to get Dumbledore and get to Diagon Alley in one hour. Harry Potter will be shopping with Hermione Granger. Thinks that they will be safe since it's public."
"What are you planning on, my love?" Narcissa asked nervously.
The Minister of Magic shook his head. He couldn't kill his lovely second wife, he had plans. A wave of his hand to a nearby guard, and she was stunned and laid carefully on the couch, unknowingly mirroring her cousin.
"No time to explain, my dear. Busy, busy, busy."
They set up in an exclusive restaurant. Dumbledore looked terrible. Minerva had sent him a dozen wands from the vault, apologizing for not labeling which one was Dumbledore's. She was the only one besides Harry who knew that the story in the paper had more fertilizer than Professor Sprout's greenhouse.
None of the wands were worthwhile. They were all burnt-out duds that had been turned into Ollivander when getting a new one. Garrick hadn't asked her what she wanted them for, and she hadn't offered.
They had that kind of relationship.
Dumbledore had taken the one that had sparked a little, and was using that. Drat Minerva! This was a terrible time for revenge. Didn't she understand that it was for the greater good that Neville used a poor wand! They had no time to try and get him a better one.
The minister's wand worked just fine for the minister, so he was armed, as was his personal guard. They all had their orders. It was clear and simple.
The cuffs were prepared.
One man had argued that those cuffs had hurt the boy before, and promptly lost his job. Two others quit right then. But others secretly agreed with the ones who didn't like the changes to their world, and saw the boy a menace. Saw Dumbledore as the solution. They would follow the men.
Harry Potter was going to be taken care of, one way or another.
It was easy to pretend that it was Hermione on his arm. He bought her an ice cream, and used his cone to dot her nose with ice cream, and then lick it off playfully.
Honestly, how long did it take for an assassin to get there?
He looked at the shop that was vacant across the way. It was going to be the new Marauder store. At least Harry's gold and prank notebook would help the newest generation of pranksters. He was going to miss the twins terribly. Harry hoped that they forgave him for what he was doing.
He hadn't told his Grandfather or Ares the truth. They would have tried to stop him. The letters he left would be scant comfort, he knew.
Harry tried very hard not to think of Persephone just then. Writing her had been hard enough.
Harry waited and waited. Then he saw the old man, standing there. His only chance at justice was now. The only thing that Harry could kill was the legend.
And he had just the right weapon to do it. The truth.
"Did you know that Grindlewald and Dumbledore were lovers? Oh yes, he left me his diary. All his love notes. And their great plans to conquer the world. Here he was, the son of a muggle, pretending to be a pureblood, turning the wizarding world against muggleborns in an attempt to rule, to control."
Harry's sonorus was working just fine.
"Dumbledore didn't kill Grindlewald. Just put him in prison. Likes to go there and visit. Likely slips him a little love potion now and then. The real crime was Tom Riddle. Do you like puzzles? Take Tom Marvolo Riddle and mix them up. Yes, it's the Dark Lord's terrifying name."
"And me. It worked so well to put Tom with abusive muggles to get a dark lord, why not try it again with me? But I was saved. My Grandfather Black, and Ares and Persephone gave me a home. Gave me love. I won't kill. I won't kill the Minister, not even when he sends assassins after me. I won't kill Dumbledore, even though he's here to kill me.
"Do you know why?
"Because Dumbledore failed. I'm not a Dark Lord. I love my family, I love my friends."
"Arrest that boy! He's a danger to society!" The minister claimed. Those awful cuffs were placed on his arms by the minister's flunkies. The minister himself casting a spell at him.
He turned to the girl next to him as his magic drained away.
"And I love my girlfriend Hermione Granger." Harry said it sincerely knowing if this woman lived, she would get the message to Hermione. He reached out a hand to touch her honey brown hair, gaze into the warm chocolate eyes, and pretend that this was really his Hermione. He could face death with this view.
"The boy lies!" Dumbledore tried for a sonorus himself, but his magic was fading fast. While Harry could now see the man, he could barely see the former's headmaster's magic.
Someone must have told the Minister about the suppression cuffs, that they took magic to start working. To start draining his magic. Soon, soon he would be less than a squib.
Barely a spark left.
"Kill him! He's draining me! Kill him!" Dumbledore ordered, but no one saw the boy doing anything wrong. Other than looking very, very sick.
Some people were calling for aurors, some for healers But it was too late. Aurors were there already.
The magical cuffs that the minister of magic had had made at great cost had done their work.
Harry Potter's magic was gone. Dumbledore's magic was gone.
Harry Potter could not live without his magic. He fell, leaving his body next to his friend.
Dumbledore could not live without his magic.
A whirlwind arrived to collect him.
Harry was surrounded by a warm glow. There! There they were!
"I hope that you aren't mad at me!"
"Harry, how could we be mad at you?"
A very ugly baby cried.
"Is that Tom or Albus?" Harry asked.
"You sent Tom here a long time ago. I'm not sure why you kept Albus, but you did. You weren't here long enough to drop off both I guess. Tom didn't spend much time here. He was put in, what you might call 'time out'.
"Don't I get to stay with you?" Harry hugged his mother again, though it had only been just a moment ago he had been here, it felt like.
"You can. Or you can go back. With Ares and Persephone. Acturus. Neville and Daphne. Hermione." James said. "Smart choice there."
"That's because she reminds you of Mum. I think so. At least she doesn't look like her. Don't think I could contemplate marrying her then."
"No, not even purebloods do that." James teased as Lily gently hit him, then she kissed him.
"But I want to be here too."
"You are, in our hearts, as we are in yours. We will be together again one day. Bring Hermione, if that works out, and your children. Bring Neville, and the rest."
"Padfoot is crying. Tell him that I love him and miss him. Tell him he looks good in pink." James said.
"Inside joke, he'll understand."
Final hugs were shared, tears shed.
James kissed Harry on the forehead, as did Lily.
And the world went black.
Dumbledore was standing, the last of his magic faded, when suddenly a vortex opened up. The foul odors of brimstone could be smelled.
"Albus something something Dumbledore! You escaped my grasp a few years ago! You cried crocodile tears, and pleaded for mercy. You promised if given a second chance, you would sacrifice your life for someone's. Do you remember?"
"No, I mean yes, but, but I was stuck in a portrait! I just got my body back! Everyone believes that I'm evil!"
"Believes Albus? If they see and hear me, and know that you share my punishment, my pain, my dear boy, they know that you did something wrong. However justified, you were a naughty, naughty, boy."
"NO! I work for the good of all!" Dumbledore was begging now.
The smell became overpowering.
Dumbledore's newly acquired perfectly formed body fell to the ground, but his spirit went spiralling away.
Down, down, down.
Falling as though thrown from a high window.
Narcissa Black Malfoy Odgen was crying. She was now only Narcissa Odgen.
She had lost her Black family, which meant that she lost her small allowance from the Malfoy estate. It was lost to Draco now forever. At least he was adopted by her husband.
It was being thrown from the family that hurt. How dare she try to take revenge against an innocent boy! If she thought he had done such a thing, then why not go to the Head of House and look into the matter.
She knew he was right.
She also knew that if he had done it, that no one would punish the golden child since it got rid of a bad seed.
Narcissa had tried so hard to get her husband's love, and thought that Lucius had been close to loving her. Then he was dead, and she was out of time.
Tiberius was furious with this news.
"When? When did he cast you out? Before or after 2 this afternoon?"
"I don't know. Why would it matter?"
"Because the boy is dead. Potter is dead! If it was after, then Draco inherits, don't you see? The Potter fortune joins ours."
Narcissa looked at his face. The face of greed.
"Why did you have Harry Potter killed? She subtly cast a charm of her making. It made people want to boast of their clever plots, but they only spoke the truth.
Narcissa had used this charm on Cordelia Greengrass more than once, and the woman never noticed!
"He was dangerous to our world! Too powerful! Needed to take him out when he was sick or injured. And his wealth! His family will share it around. He'll share it with Draco because of family, but that's just the Potter wealth. With him being dead, he can't be the Black Heir which is why I adopted Draco. He can be the Black Heir, and once he is, I take out Acturus.
"Another reason I had to have Harry Potter killed was because he had Albus Dumbledore's horcrux in his head. Now, Albus might have been useful as a pillar, seen as Leader of the Light, but after what the boy said about him? No, his reputation is as dead as he is. Though it is sad that I can't use him to restore the world. But I digress.
"Do you know how much I spent on trying to turn that brat into a squib? Had special magical cuffs made that would suck out his magic like a vampire sucks blood. Everyone knows that it's Daphne Greengrass that his heart really belongs to. My nephew Tiberius Flint was proud to help set up the golden boy to fall. That didn't work, but I wouldn't give up.
"Setting up Cornflower to be his mind-healer was key. She never knew that each time she came back from counseling the boy that I had her thoroughly interrogated and obliviated after. The boy was supposed to be my friend Albus' protege. But the brat rejected everything good, everything that the man stood for.
"Of course, I tried to poison Lord Black before, but he found out somehow. Never confronted me, so it might just be he hasn't drank it yet. But if not, then he might someday, and I hope it gets that son of a squib Ares. He should be put down. And you my love, so beautiful, so trusting! As soon as Draco had it all, he would have an accident, and your daughter would be married off and the money all invested back into the company.
"And then we would have a son. He would have the Potter, Black, Malfoy and Ogden fortune, his mother's beauty, his father's brains and cunning. Isn't that just wonderful?"
Odgen never saw the stiletto blade that pierced his heart. Never really felt it.
She swore and spit on his body, and called for Dobby.
"Did he ask you to hurt family?"
"Yes Mistress many times." Dobby nodded, bandaged, and ravaged.
"Poor thing. Get better Dobby. I'm going to get my place back in the family."