Chapter 17
The One Approaches

Hermione said in a worried voice: "You still haven't told us your idea, Harry."

Harry said, "It's five hours till sundown, and all three of us have our time free. I feel like Apparating to wherever Tom Riddle and his big snake are at, and killing them. Want to come with me?"

Hermione wanted to yell at the top of her lungs, Are you barking mad? The eleven-year-old girl who had boarded the firstie train, four years and two days ago, would have lectured Harry for ten full minutes about why attacking Voldemort now, today, without the entire DMLE at his back, was the most foolish idea imaginable.

But Hermione was no longer this bossy know-it-all anymore. She had learnt that sometimes she was wrong, and she had learnt that Harry usually had good ideas of his own.

So now Hermione took a deep breath, willed herself calm (Ha!) and said to Harry and Luna, "Please share your thoughts."

Luna was wearing her usual dreamy, serene smile. "With my Seer smoke gone, I say without conceit that if I'm at Harry Potter's side today, he can't fail. But his victory would feel hollow without you there to see it, Hermione Potter."

Harry said, "Let me explain my reasoning, 'Mione. The Prophecy says 'for neither can live while the other survives.' I think the word live is a play on the word survives. What I think this line means is 'for neither can stand it, can tolerate it, whilst the other stays alive.' Now Voldy has tried to kill me five times already—he's clearly fulfilling his part of the line. But why can't the line go the other way, with me hunting down Voldy because I can't stand him living? After all, until I kill Voldy or he kills me, I'm treading water, I can't plan for any kind of future. This is damned annoying. What I'm about to say sounds suicidal though it's not, but I'd rather die today than stand around and wait—and wait and wait—for Voldy's sixth attack on me. On the other hand, my here-and-now self has one advantage over me much older: ol' Tommy is not expecting me to attack today."

Hermione said, "But Harry, you could be killed. Can you honestly tell me that at fifteen, you're ready for him?"

"Look, he has a fifty-three-years head start on me. If I waited till I had crow's-feet and a receding hairline, I wouldn't be any more ready for him than I am now. Anyway, right now all but a few of his loyal followers are dead or in Azkaban—he's weak now. But every day I find excuses to delay, is a day that Voldemort gets more followers and more money in his vaults. Please, Hermione, Luna is right. She and I—and you—have Founders-level power now, so I'm sure we'll win if we make a surprise attack today. But it won't feel like a win to me unless you, Hermione Jean Granger-Potter, see me win."

Hermione thought about Harry's words. Then she said, "You mentioned our 'Founders-level power.' If Voldemort took on Godric, Rowena and Helga, he wouldn't last ten minutes."

Harry grinned at Hermione. "Exactly. Put aside your fear for a moment, and think about everything you know about Voldy and his Death Eaters, and everything you know about the three of us. Do you really think Voldy would win? Or when you put aside your fear, don't you see all the advantages I have?"

Hermione stepped up to Harry and snogged him mightily. When she broke the kiss, she said, "Let's go vanquish the Dark Lord. But first, I need to ring up my parents."

Hermione walked into the Granger-house kitchen, to where a telephone hung on the wall. Harry and a curious Luna followed. (During a previous visit to the Granger house, the telephone had been pointed out to Luna, but she had never seen the telephone being used.)

Hermione punched in the telephone number for Granger & Granger Dental, as Luna watched closely.

Silence passed for several seconds, then Hermione said into the mouthpiece, "Hello, Sylvia, this is Hermione. May I speak to either of my parents, please? I need only a minute."

Soon after this, Hermione announced to her audience in the kitchen, "I've been put on hold; now I'm listening to music. 'I'm He-ne-ry the Eighth I am, He-ne-ry the Eighth I am, I am'—could be worse. I am utterly sick of 'Dancing Queen.' Hopefully I won't—oi, Mum."

Then Hermione's voice turned overpowered-Cheering-Charm cheerful: "The three of us took care of the problem, so it's okay for you and Dad to come home tonight. And don't worry about the carpet. I used a great spell, and you can't even tell where the puddle of blood was."

Several seconds of silence passed, then Hermione said into the telephone, "Mum, are you still there? Hello?"

Ten minutes later

The trio had realised that if they were going to battle Tom Riddle and his Death Eaters, they should have a way to turn invisible at times—whilst making sure that invisible wizards could not sneak up on them.

All three of them knew that someone who was Disillusioned by the charm Excaeco could have that effect undone with the Homenum revelio spell. A minute of experimentation revealed that regular Homenum revelio did not work on the Parseltongue-version Disillusionment charm, §Excaeco§, but §Homenum revelio§ worked. Furthermore, the Parseltongue reveal-person spell, §Homenum revelio§, undid both Excaeco and §Excaeco§.

The first shocker of the afternoon was discovering that it did not matter whether Harry or Hermione cast Excaeco or §Excaeco§, on themselves or on each other—Luna could see him (or her), as though the Disillusionment charm had not been cast. Or rather, Luna could see the Disillusioned person's aura.

Harry got curious whether Luna could see him when he was under his Invisibility Cloak. So Harry had Dobby fetch the Invisibility Cloak, and Harry threw it over his head. This led to Harry's second shocker of the afternoon: his Invisibility Cloak had been doctored.

A cotton thread, which was the exact same silver colour as the other threads of the Cloak, had been sewn into the Cloak. This cotton thread had a Tracking Charm laid on it, which Luna could aura-see.

Once Harry and Hermione knew, with Luna's guidance, where the impostor thread had to be, they eventually managed to spot the thread. The cotton thread was slightly wider than the other threads of the Cloak, and the cotton thread reflected light differently.

Anyway, once Harry vanished the cotton thread in the Invisibility Cloak, Luna, as Harry hoped, no longer could aura-see any part of Harry when he was under the Cloak. (Presumably, Voldemort, Dumbledore and Thanatos now could not see Harry under the Invisibility Cloak either.)

A minute later

Hermione said to the other two, "You know why the Death Eaters wear those black robes and frightening masks?"

Harry replied, "To scare the people who see them."

Hermione said, "I have an idea. We should try something like that."

Harry said, "Hermione? Three teenagers are not going to scare Tommy and his Death Eaters."

Hermione's grin was evil. "I don't want to scare them so badly they make mistakes, I want to annoy them so badly they make mistakes." Hermione aimed her wand at Luna and cast the Colour-Change Charm on Luna's clothes and her radish earrings.

Hermione explained, "Remember in the basilisk room, when we kept shooting Stinging Hexes at Luna, and none of them hit? Annoying, wasn't it?"

Luna said serenely, "So your plan, Hermione Potter, is to have all the Death Eaters try to kill me instead of trying to kill Harry Potter? Merlin, it will be quite an exciting tale to tell my grandchildren."

The trio did a little more planning, then Luna did some trick with seeing futures that meant that she could exactly locate on a map, any place that was under the Fidelius Charm. Luna gave the other two teens Apparation coordinates, then Harry and Hermione Apparated to the outskirts of Riddle Manor.

(Rather than Luna Apparate herself to Riddle Manor from the Grangers' house, Harry Side-Along Apparated her. It would be distracting for Luna if she received a letter from the Improper Use of Magic Office in the middle of a battle.)

The time now was 2:59 p.m. When the trio found themselves ten feet outside the wards for Riddle Manor, the three teens had a bit over four and a half hours of daylight left.

Luna led Harry and Hermione to one of Riddle Manor's wardstones—which Harry could not see, because the wardstone was Disillusioned.

What Harry did next was not something he did to the wardstone, but to himself: Harry transfigured his clothing. Now he was dressed just like Godric Gryffindor, right down to the (empty) red/yellow scabbard at his hip.

Then Harry magically created a black Goldkeh (anti-magic) ball, putting much magic into it. Harry floated the Ball of Magical Cancellation close to where the wardstone was supposed to be—and suddenly he could see the wardstone. (The wardstone's Disillusionment spell, Harry guessed, had been demagicked.)

Harry said to Hermione, "Kedavrub Protego shield up, Hermione! The party is about to start."

Hermione put up her AK-proof shield (as shieldless Luna smiled serenely). Then Harry moved the black ball to where the bottom third of the ball was in the same space as the wardstone. Sluuuurp! The wardstone lost magic.

The anti-magic black ball had not disappeared (meaning, the ball still could absorb magic) when there was a sudden BOOM! An arch suddenly formed around the wardstone, edged in glowing white. This arch was tall enough and wide enough that a fleet of lorries, side by side, could be driven through the arch.

Hermione said lowly, "The cylindrical wards round Riddle Manor now have a breach. That glowing arch defines the edge of the breach."

Harry heard a loud hissing voice, "§Wardstone 4 has been breached. Wardstone 4 has been breached. Wardstone 4...§"

Harry called the magic that he had put into the anti-magic ball, back into himself. The black ball faded away.

Meanwhile, through the arch that suddenly had appeared, a four-story manor house became visible. Robed and masked Death Eaters soon began to pour out of the front and back doors of the house.

Harry pointed his wand at the manor house and yelled, "§Expulso!§" Once Harry had fired off the Exploding Curse, he said to Hermione and Luna, "Destroy everyone and everything."

Hermione snarled, "I'll show them the same mercy they show Muggle-borns."

Seconds later, Harry's Parsel-version Exploding Curse hit Tom Riddle's grand house. The explosion was spectacular.

Harry Sonorused himself. "Knock-knock, Tommy. It's the Boy Whom You Couldn't Kill. Let's party. Quietus."

Meanwhile (3:01 p.m)
In the headmaster's office, Hogwarts SOW&W

Albus was writing a directive to Auror-Professor Nigel Grenwick, on the subject of school discipline. In short, Albus was writing the man to say, "Don't be so harsh in handing out punishments. Overlook the small things."

Miss Lovegood had managed to walk to the Infirmary unaided, so Albus considered her attack to be one of the "small things" that Nigel should take no notice of.

Now as Albus was writing, he gradually realised that something about his office seemed off-kilter.

It took Albus ten minutes to figure out what was wrong: Fawkes's perch remained in Albus's office, but Fawkes himself was gone.

Albus was puzzled: Where did my phoenix go? Albus was sure that he had not sent Fawkes on any errand, and nobody but Albus could call the ancient bird. So why did Fawkes leave, and when would Fawkes return?

Elsewhere in Hogwarts Castle

Minerva was in her office, planning Transfiguration lessons, when there was a knock on her door. She presumed her visitor was a student. "Come in," she said.

No student entered Minerva's office; rather, Amelia Bones stepped in. Minerva saw Nigel Grenwick and two other Aurors standing outside the doorway of Minerva's open door. All three men looked serious.

"Amelia?" said Minerva, who was completely unable to guess why the Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement might be calling on her. "What's going on?"

"We're here to arrest the headmaster," Amelia said.

Minerva's jaw dropped.

Amelia continued, "Once this happens, you'll become the Acting Headmistress. May I suggest that you upgrade the castle wards as soon as you've the authority?"

"Sure, that's a good idea," gobsmacked Minerva replied. "Amelia, what you're here to arrest Albus for—is it serious?"

"Dead serious, Minerva. Which reminds me: You need to hire a replacement potions-master; Severus Snape is dead."

Minerva stared.

A minute later

The stone gargoyle stood at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the headmaster's office, in the middle of the bottom step so as to stop anyone from climbing those stairs. To get past the gargoyle, someone amongst the would-be visitors was required to speak the correct password—

"DMLE business," Amelia said. The gargoyle stepped aside.

Amelia Bones, Minerva, Nigel Grenwick and the two other Aurors all rode the rotating, self-rising steps up to the headmaster's office door. To Minerva's surprise, Amelia opened the door without knocking, then strode into the headmaster's office.

"Amelia, what a pleasant surprise," Albus said, his eyes twinkling. He looked completely unworried about having four blue-wand people in his office. "How may I help you today?"

Minerva said, "Albus, Severus is dead."

"Dead? Dead? Those Muggles somehow managed to kill Severus?"

What Muggles? Minerva wanted to ask. How was Severus involved with Muggles?

Albus looked from Minerva to Amelia. "I hope that your dedicated Aurors have arrested those Muggles and they're in a holding cell now."

Amelia said, "No Muggle killed Professor Snape. He died by magical means."

Albus was silent now, and his face showed confusion.

Amelia pulled a scrap of parchment from her pocket and passed it to Minerva. Written in two places on the parchment was the word DUPLICATE in red. But it was what else was on the parchment that had Minerva staring at the parchment in horror, then glaring at Albus in disgust.

"Would you pass that parchment to Mr Dumbledore, please?" Amelia said.

Minerva slammed the parchment down on the desk, in front of Albus. Meanwhile, three Aurors and Amelia all pointed blue wands at the headmaster.

Amelia said, "We found the original of this parchment in the deceased's pocket. Deputy Headmistress McGonagall, do you confirm that the writing is by Mr Dumbledore?"

"I confirm," Minerva spit. "I definitely confirm."

Then Minerva looked about. "Where is Fawkes, your phoenix, Albus? He's flown away, hasn't he? When you plotted to murder Lady Potter's parents, Fawkes flew away!"

"Bloody blimey," Grenwick murmured.

Albus said, "I can explain this parchment, Amelia. I sent Severus to consult with Miss Granger's parents about a delicate matter. I am sorry, but I may not divulge the nature of their discussions."

Minerva did not roll her eyes, but she wanted to. She was sure that Amelia wanted to roll her own eyes as well.

Amelia spoke formally: "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, you are under arrest for conspiracy to murder nonmagical relatives of Lord Harry Potter and of Lady Hermione Potter. Drawing or waving your wand now is considered resisting arrest, and may be met with deadly force. Stand up now, so that your wrists can be enclosed in magic-suppressing handcuffs. Anything you say from now on can be used against you during your Wizengamot trial next Friday. Bannon, un-wand him and remove all hidden Portkeys. Fawley, cuff him. Detainee Dumbledore, do you have any questions?"

Albus stood up, and one of the two unknown-name Aurors said, "Accio Dumbledore wands." Three wands flew out of Albus's robes. Seconds later, three small objects, presumably Portkeys, likewise flew towards that same Auror.

Meanwhile, Albus was saying to Amelia, "Please, tell me—if the Grangers did not kill Severus, who did?"

Amelia looked at Grenwick and the other two Aurors. "All I want the detainee to know before next Friday's trial is that I've ruled the death of Professor Snape to be 'justifiable.' I do not want the name of the professor's killer revealed before Mr Dumbledore's trial."

The three Aurors nodded.

"Amelia!" yelled Albus. "I need to know: Who killed Severus?"

It was Minerva, feeling disgusted, who answered: "If Amelia refuses to tell you today, I'm sure it's for the Greater Good."

Then Amelia Bones looked at now-handcuffed Albus with her own face showing disgust. "I've already spoken with Minister Fudge, and he has given me written permission to question you with Veritaserum."

To Minerva, Albus now looked as panicked as if he were locked in a cage with the basilisk that he had let endanger the school.

Amelia added, "And whilst I'm questioning you under Veritaserum, I've one or two questions about you and my dear niece Susan."

"He's been bothering Susan?" one of the Aurors muttered.

Meanwhile at Riddle Manor

Luna was annoying the Death Eaters. She was wearing canary-yellow clothing, from her earrings down to her shoes, so the evil wizards could not fail to see her.

She had no magical shield up now. Furthermore, she had not put up a shield, for even one second, since the beginning of the battle. Instead, when deadly curses were fired at her, she ... stepped out of their way.

Also, Luna had developed a nasty trick of firing curses towards seemingly empty air—then a few seconds later, a Death Eater, whilst fighting Harry or Hermione, would step into the path of Luna's curse just before it arrived. Scratch one Death Eater. Or rather, slice one Death Eater.

Luna, after five minutes of failed experiments, got Sectumsempra to work for her. After Luna figured out how to cast Snape's curse, she not only made Death Eaters die, they died in halves.

But from time to time, Luna got bored with Sectumsempra. So instead, Luna caused loud explosions. Death Eaters died—often after loud screaming—whilst Luna smiled dreamily.

Sometimes Luna would shoot a curse towards empty air, the curse would travel some distance, then the curse would be absorbed by a suddenly visible (and suddenly dead) Death Eater.

If Luna was dressed in eyeball-stomping yellow, Hermione was dressed in blue jeans and a Union Jack t-shirt. No Death Eater needed to be told that the bushy-haired girl next to Harry Potter had Muggle parents.

Harry was unfamiliar with some of the curses that Hermione sent out—the words she spoke were unfamiliar, and sometimes startling colours shot out of her wand. Whenever one of Hermione's unknown curses hit a Death Eater, the results always were ghastly.

Harry loved Hermione with all his heart, but he had to be honest: Sometimes his bushy-haired bookworm could be vicious.

Harry did not play nice today; he did not cast Expelliarmus or Incarcerous or Stupefy. Harry's spell of choice today was an overpowered 9-millimeter Piercing Hex, fired several times at the same person. When cast wordlessly, the spell was silent and deadly, the magical equivalent of a sniper bullet. Also, one Piercing Hex, even when overpowered, did not use much magical power, which left Harry free to put more magic into his Kedavrub Protego shield—and into the anti-magic ball that Harry planned to use later.

The Kedavrub Protego shields that were in front of Harry and Hermione were marvels. The first ten Death Eaters to fire Killing Curses at the Potters had stood there unmoving after their own curses were reflected back towards them. Did the inbred morons try to evade the deadly spells coming their way, as Luna was so skillfully doing? No, they just stood there, undoubtedly in shock, until their own green curses hit them; then they dropped limp.

Ordinarily, luck would have run out for either Hermione or Luna by now—in circumstances where to be unlucky at all was to be dead. But thanks to that conversation with Thanatos, Harry was confident that the girls would live through today—they were fated to live through today. Now Harry only had to worry about keeping himself alive.

(Before the beginning of summer, Harry would not have cared if he lived or died, so long as he could keep his friends safe from Voldemort. But now in September, Harry had so much to live for, and he was sure that his two closest friends were safe, even amidst this battle. For the first time in Harry's life, he could afford the luxury of feeling selfish.)

Harry, Hermione and Luna were steadily advancing on Voldemort and the Death Eaters; the teens now were about halfway between the wards-failure arch and the (now uninhabitable) manor house.

A Death Eater suddenly turned and tried to run away from Harry. Voldemort, who was standing behind all his fighters as he harangued them, AK'd his battle-deserting minion.

Harry grinned when he saw that the cowardly Death Eater had had a silver left hand when he had died. You're now worm food, Wormtail.

How was the battle going? However-many minutes in, Harry, Hermione and Luna had not suffered so much as a scratch. As for the Death Eaters, dozens of their corpses covered the lawn round Riddle Manor.

Pop-p-p-pop. Death Eaters from elsewhere were Apparating into the battle. Harry thought, Perfect, more Death Eaters to kill.


Plus a few day-shifting werewolves have come to visit, Harry thought, with Fenrir Greyback probably leading the pack.

Voldy's Sonorused voice called out, "Werewolves, kill the girls. You may make sport with their corpses."

I think not, thought Harry.

As soon as Tom Riddle gave his order to the werewolves, the Death Eaters stopped trying to shoot curses at Hermione and Luna. But this did not mean that the girls stopped shooting curses at the Death Eaters. Even as the howling werewolf-pack ran towards Harry and the girls, some Death Eaters ate death.

Now Fenrir (in human form) ran up to the trio, leading a pack of werewolves.

Harry thought, Let's see how much of a Master of Death I am. Harry held up his hand in a Stop gesture.

The werewolf pack stopped. Fenrir bowed his head and, with eyes staring at the ground, said, "You are Alpha."

Harry said, "I am." Then Harry raised his voice and pointed. "Werewolves, I declare Fenrir Greyback to be Omega. Kill him contemptuously."

A werewolf ran up to Fenrir and bit hard into the top front of Fenrir's trousers. Fenrir started to scream—until another werewolf ripped out his throat.

About half a minute later, after it was obvious that Fenrir was dead, the werewolves formed an oval round his bloody, misshapen corpse.

Then they all pissed on him.

Harry said, "Werewolves, form a side-by-side line, facing me."

After the werewolves did this, Harry piercing-hexed them all with conjured silver. Scratch one pack.

Then Harry heard Sonorused hissing: "§Harry Potter, you die now. Nagini, kill them all.§"

The giant snake moved from where she was, which was next to Voldemort, to where the three teenagers were. The snake's speed was inhumanly fast—

But five feet away from the trio, the snake stopped. Nagini looked at Harry.

Harry commanded, "§Deadly creature Nagini, stay still.§" Because of Harry's Master of Death power over deadly creatures, Nagini obeyed. Harry sent out a 200-millimeter (7-7/8 in.) Piercing Hex to Nagini's head, which quite inconvenienced the big snake.

A black mist rose from Nagini's mangled head. The mist screamed in a human voice before it dissipated.

"NOO!" still-Sonorused Voldemort yelled.

The Death Eaters (those who were still alive) were struck silent and motionless. They had seen the Dark Lord in many moods, but mournful and despairing? This was a new side of the Dark Lord, and it scared his minions.

In the silence, Luna could be heard clearly: "Aw, ickle Death Eaters don't want to play anymore? But I still want to play." Luna's smile now was not dreamy, it was maniacal. As she smiled, she slashed three Death Eaters in half with one sideways stroke.

"Keep them busy," Harry said to Hermione and Luna—

Then Harry Sonorused himself. "Happy news, Tommy. Today the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches you. You killed my parents, Tommy, and I owe you payback."

So saying, Harry walked confidently towards his enemy.

Riddle chortled. "You think you can defeat me, Potter? Even if you turn me into a wraith again, which you won't, I shall return."

"Sorry, Tommy, I forgot to mention: your little you-know-whats? They're all gone: the big snake, the diary, the locket, the cup, the tiara, the ring, and my scar. You're mortal now, old man."

For as long as Harry lived, he would remember the expressions of fear, panic and hopelessness that passed across the face of the noseless Dark Lord.

Riddle fired off a green spell; Harry's Kedavrub Protego reflected it back to its caster, and Riddle barely dodged it.

"I shall still win, Pot—"

Harry murmured: "§Goldkeh.§"

After Harry had used the Goldkeh spell earlier, to make a rip in the wards-cylinder, he had hurriedly ended the Goldkeh spell, and none of the trio had used the spell in today's battle. So Goldkeh was a spell that no Death Eater had seen before, and it was a spell that the Dark Lord knew not.

Even as the black ball at the end of the magic stream was growing, Harry sent it to Riddle along a corkscrew path. A few inches in front of Riddle, the black ball hesitated; Slurp. A magical shield flashed, then died. The black ball moved forwards, into Riddle's chest.

Riddle screamed. The Death Eaters on the torn-up lawn of Riddle Manor—those who had not been killed yet—they screamed too.

In the Ministry of Magic, some Pureblood employees of the Ministry (including several Aurors), all started screaming. This confused their coworkers.

In Azkaban Wizarding Prison, the Dark Lord's most faithful followers all started screaming. The prison's human guards did not hear them—because only a fool went near Rookwood or any of the Lestranges except when holding a meal tray.

When the Goldkeh ball finished absorbing all of Riddle's magic, Tom Riddle himself was still alive—but every one of his minions had dropped dead.

In the silence, Hermione said, "I love you, Harry." Riddle scowled.

Harry cast "§Rope his ankles together.§"—which Riddle now was helpless to stop. Then Harry cast Expelliarmus—which beside bringing Riddle's yew wand to Harry's hand, had the side effect of knocking Riddle onto his arse.

Harry snapped Riddle's wand in half and tossed the pieces aside.

By now, Hermione and Luna—each of them completely unhurt—were standing on either side of Harry. Hermione looked down at Riddle and said, "Defeated by a halfblood, a blood-traitor and a mudblood. Tsk."

Luna said, "Tom Riddle always has wanted to know the Prophecy. Will you help him out, Harry Potter?"

Harry stared into Riddle's eyes and recited, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies..."

Luna interrupted: "Tom Riddle, here comes the part that Severus Snape didn't hear."

Harry continued, "And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

By now, Riddle was staring at Harry's face in horror.

As Harry finished speaking the words of the Prophecy, he felt a tug on his hip. He discovered that his previously empty scabbard was not empty now.

As Harry drew the Sword of Gryffindor, he looked down at Riddle's face and said, "You die now, Tommy."

"Wait! How am I defeated by a boy and two girls? Why didn't Snape warn me about you? Why isn't Dumbledore here, strutting and bloviating?"

"Dumbledore? Please. He isn't here because I haven't told him about any of this. You know how he gets, Tommy—he never admits he's wrong, and he likes to cause misery to orphan boys. Also, if I took orders from Dumbledore, you'd have been unbothered by the Light till you'd surrounded Hogwarts Castle someday. As for Snape, I killed him when he tried to kill Hermione."

Riddle stared at Harry in shock. It was the last thing Riddle ever did.

Riddle's beheading, after everything that had happened between Harry and Riddle before then, was anticlimactic.

Several seconds of silence passed as Harry wiped blood off the Sword, using Riddle's robes. Then Harry spoke to Hermione and Luna: "I'll never claim public credit for killing Voldy, and I ask that you don't either. Let Wizarding Britain believe that Voldy hit his head in the bathtub and drowned."

As soon as the Sword of Gryffindor was clean of blood, it vanished from Harry's hand.

Each of the three teens reverse-transfigured his or her clothing to what that clothing had been at lunchtime. Whilst nobody might notice that Hermione was wearing a different Muggle outfit than she had worn to lunch, everyone would notice if Luna walked into the Great Hall dressed all in Hufflepuff yellow whilst Harry was wearing a Godric Gryffindor costume.

Once the teens' clothing was restored, daylight still had hours to go when Harry, Hermione and Luna Apparated away from the grounds of Riddle Manor, never to return.

The last thing that Harry heard at Riddle Manor was the buzzing of flies.