A/N: When I decided to enter the challenge I was immediately
tempted to go for comedy, as I have been in Jules’ calendar recently,
but then this plot bunny bit me and it’s all gone a bit different… I
also had to promise that this would be twice as good having nicked the
first and second anniversary gifts – I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
This is set two years after the death of Albus Dumbledore.
For disclaimers, please see the A/N at the end of the fic.
The cold and empty space woke Ginny, something that she’d never expected, but had always feared. He was gone.
Gentle light flooded in through the gap in the curtains of her room. Their room.
one year now she had been with Harry, a year of increasing terror as
Voldemort’s power grew without end. The beginning had been two years
ago with the death of Albus Dumbledore, and what her father now
referred to as their ‘descent into darkness’. ‘In the absence of light, darkness prevails,’ Harry had replied, with a strange smile on his face, ‘and things go bump in the night. Mr. Weasley, I’m going to bump back.’
for the best part of a year he’d disappeared, only coming back for
fleeting visits. Sometimes Ron would go with Harry, and twice they took
Hermione as well. ‘They need brains as well as brawn,’ she said
to Ginny, without ever telling her what had been going on. Ron had been
the same, even with her, the one sibling who had never overshadowed
him, and had never wanted to.
One night Ron had come back from the pub in the village with Fred and George, who stumbled up to their own room to sleep. ‘He’s fighting, Ginny,’ Ron had said, ‘not with Voldemort (and that told Ginny how far gone he was) or Malfoy or any of that scum. He’s fighting for us, for you… to make sure you can be together safely.’
When Harry had finally returned at the end of Ginny's sixth year, he promised that he would never leave her again, ‘I can protect you now,’ he whispered as he held her fiercely, ‘I know how to protect everyone.’
In the following months they seemed empty words as the number of
attacks grew, with giants rampaging along the coasts and Dementors
attacking Muggles alongside Death Eaters.
lived in Hogsmeade, staying in a room above the Three Broomsticks, and
it seemed that his very presence was driving Voldemort’s darkness from
Hogwarts. Ginny was allowed to visit him every weekend, no questions
asked or eyebrows raised if she was gone overnight. When they came home
at Christmas, her mother hadn’t even blinked when she told them their
bed was made up in Ginny's room.
Ron had gone bright pink, muttering something about Quidditch scores on the radio.
‘She threw him out of the house the first night he didn’t come back from Hermione's,’ her father recalled with a chuckle as they washed up later on. ‘You have no idea how long it took for me to convince her to put a double bed in his room.’ He paused, his forehead creasing more than ever, ‘It’s
funny…I didn’t have to convince her to put the bed in your room, it’s
like she realised something it took the rest of us longer to accept,
that you and Harry belong together.’ He added the last part with a warm smile, squeezing his daughter’s hand gently.
had returned to Hogwarts and Harry to Hogsmeade for the next two terms,
only returning to the Burrow in the last week, after her exams had
finished. They had gone to sleep last night as they had been for the
past few months, Harry gently cradling Ginny in his arms – her warmth
in a cold world.
But now he was gone.
calmly, not panicking and losing her head, but taking time to make sure
she wiped the tears from her cheeks. Her door creaked quietly as she
opened it, and the murmur of conversation that had started drifting up
the stairs suddenly ceased.
Her parents and Hermione sat at
the table, and Ginny could see that her mother’s eyes were red from hot
tears, while Hermione's face was pale beyond recognition. ‘They’ve
gone,’ she said, ‘haven’t they?’
‘The Order will find them,’
Mr. Weasley said hurriedly, in what he supposed was a reassuring voice,
but was actually high and panicky. ‘Remus said he’d be right on it.’
won’t,’ Hermione said, chewing her lip nervously as she glanced between
Ginny and her parents. Eventually she continued, looking at the table
as she spoke softly, ‘We’ve spent the last two years working out how to
destroy Voldemort – forever. Not just to take his body, but him – all
of his essence, down to the last hint of his soul.’
needed you for the Horcruxes,’ Ginny said tonelessly, while her
feelings inside raged between sorrow and a profound anger at her friend.
for some, Ginny, and I swear it wouldn’t have lead to this,’ Hermione
replied, fresh tears rolling down her face. ‘I didn’t know they’d found
the others, or I would never have let them go.’
‘Would they have given you a choice?’ Ginny asked quietly in return, causing Hermione to break down into silent sobs once more.
found this,’ her father said quietly, passing Ginny a small, plain
envelope with her name written across in Harry’s familiar scribble.
Wordlessly she took it and left the room, climbing the stairs and
returning to her room. Quietly she shut the door once more, returning
to the cold bed where she pulled the covers about her.
The paper rustled as she lifted the flap of the envelope, finding just a single piece of paper within.
never wanted to you leave you this way, but I always knew I must. The
prophecy has to be fulfilled for this to end, and I want it to end. Not
just for you and me, but for Ron and Hermione, your parents, Remus,
Tonks, Hagrid – and for everyone else.
So many have sacrificed themselves for me already, it’s time I took responsibility for myself.
told me that paper is the one year anniversary gift, so this letter is
my gift to you, not much after a year of perfection, but the best I can
do. No matter what may happen, I will love you always. My heart belongs
to you, my soul is yours forever.
I love you, Ginny.
Clutching the letter to her heart, Ginny pulled the covers tighter around her shaking body, burying her face in her knees.
* * *
‘If you make it through this,’ Ron said to Harry over his Firewhisky, ‘Ginny will kill you.’
meant to say ‘when’,’ Harry responded, his voice laden with irony, ‘and
that’s not half of what Hermione will do to you. Keeping those Horcrux
expeditions secret and running out on her to fight the worst evil in the world?’
gulped down his Firewhisky in one shot, gasping as it burnt his throat
on the way. ‘I’m not here to fight,’ he managed to wheeze out, ‘not Him, anyway.’
take care of your end,’ Harry said, standing up from the table, ‘and
make that your last – or Hermione will kill me instead.’ On his way
out, Harry stopped at the table where Tonks and Lupin sat, their hands
‘You’re sure?’ Lupin asked, for the fifteenth time, while Tonks rolled her eyes at the older wizard.
‘Keep an eye on Ron,’ Harry replied in acknowledgement, ‘and you better watch him,’ he added to Tonks with a nod at Lupin.
reaction was to smile at Harry, but not grimly, ‘The last Marauder is
safe with me.’ Nodding at the small package Harry held, she softened
her voice to ask him one question before he could walk away. ‘That’s
not the last one, is it?’
‘They’re all destroyed,’ Harry
replied firmly, ‘apart from the one piece of soul Voldemort calls his
own. This,’ he continued, hefting the package briefly, ‘this is a
present.’ He added the last bit with a flicker of a smile, but it
quickly faded away. Nodding to them both once more, he left the Leaky
Cauldron after a final glance back at Ron, who had mercifully stopped
Hogsmeade village was deserted; the usual bustle of
students had left with the end of term – the attacks by Voldemort
elsewhere had kept everyone else indoors. The small stones of the
street leading to the Hogwarts gates crunched together under Harry’s
feet, the noise reminding him of better times, walking to the village
with his friends.
He didn’t head up toward the castle, but
instead began to follow the well worn grass path that lead towards the
lake, and the white monument overlooking the ground.
Dumbledore’s monument. Dumbledore’s tomb.
sun was high over the grounds now, bathing them in the heat of the
summer as Harry came to a halt beside the sepulchre. Putting a hand on
the stone he found it pleasantly cool to touch, as if Dumbledore’s body
within was still exuding the calm radiance the elderly wizard had
always had about him.
‘What yeh doin’ here, Harry?’ a gruff
voice asked suddenly, cutting into the moment of peace. He turned to
see Hagrid standing beside him, clutching a small jar in one hand.
dropping this off,’ Harry replied, carefully putting the package he had
been carrying by the foot of the tomb. ‘I see you brought him his
favourite,’ he added, smiling at the jar of lemon sherbets that Hagrid
‘’S’not right for him to be without,’ Hagrid said with a sad grin, ‘great man, Dumbledore.’
you’ve said,’ Harry replied warmly, stepping away so Hagrid could put
the jar down. ‘What are you doing here, anyway – McGon…Minerva – she
told me everyone would be off the grounds today.’
leave Grawp alone, yeh know how upset he gets about things.’ Hagrid
replied, then turned to face Harry, ‘what have yeh done?’
back to your cabin and shut the door until Remus and the others show
up,’ Harry said, a slight hint of anger in his voice, ‘now,
Hagrid.’ The gentle giant took a sudden step back at the iron tone
beneath Harry’s usually calm voice, then turned and walked back to his
cabin. He only made it halfway before the grounds came alive with the
cracking noises of Apparating wizards.
Death Eaters appeared everywhere, wands drawn, and eyes blazing furiously behind the skull masks that covered their faces. ‘HAGRID! RUN!´
Harry yelled, his voice drawing the attention of the crowd of Dark
Wizards away from the half giant lumbering along in their midst.
his wand, Harry launched off a spell that threw aside the Death Eaters
blocking Hagrid’s path, leaving him free to escape into his hut,
slamming the door behind him. Harry didn’t stop moving once his first
jinx had been cast, ducking and spinning he loosed spell after spell
into the mass of Dark Wizards, scattering them and forcing them to aim
wide. The ground tore up around Harry’s feet as he dodged, gradually
covering him in small particles of dirt and sod.
the side, Harry took temporary reprieve behind the tomb of his
headmaster, thankful that the marble reflected spells aside. Where is he?
Harry thought angrily, looking around the grounds where Death Eaters
seemed to be spawning everywhere. Sweeping his wand in an arc, Harry
cast a spell that threw back the line that was advancing towards him,
sending up a spray of blood as each Death Eater’s nose was broken
Standing up again, Harry found himself face to face
with a Death Eater who had advanced to the far side of the tomb. The
witch or wizard hadn’t been expecting him to appear, or Harry would
have been dead. The second they gave Harry to move his wand was all he
needed, ‘Levicorpus,’ he muttered, and the Death Eater began to
flail as his body shot upward at speed. And as their flapping cloak
flicked out of his view, Harry finally saw his nemesis, standing tall
and proud in the centre of the grounds.
Pale skinned and red-eyed, Lord Voldemort had finally come back to Hogwarts.
leapt over the tomb, using a simple spell to loft him easily over the
structure, and began to advance on the Dark Wizard. ‘TOM!’ he yelled,
swiping his wand at a charging Death Eater, who fell back with fire
burning from his chest. Voldemort turned, his eyes narrowing as Harry
approached, and with a lazy movement he flicked a spell at the young
wizard. Harry’s response hit Voldemort’s full on, creating an explosion
of light that threw several Death Eaters aside as red smoke jetted from
When the blaze had cleared, Voldemort’s eyes
were even thinner – from both surprise and anger. ‘You’re not the only
one with a new wand,’ Harry said calmly, holding Dumbledore’s by his
‘The Malfoy boy told me that was destroyed,’ Voldemort spat, fire flashing in his eyes.
or after you drove him insane?’ Harry asked, suddenly dodging aside as
Voldemort sent a curse his way. ‘You shouldn’t have come here, Tom,
Aurors will be arriving soon.’
‘You sound like that old Muggle
lover,’ Voldemort replied, nodding his head at Dumbledore’s tomb.
‘Maybe you should join him?’ another spell flew at Harry and he
conjured a shield charm with a second to spare, but the impact threw
him sprawling to the ground.
As Voldemort advanced Harry allowed himself a small grin as he gestured upward, ‘Liberacorpus!,’
he shouted. The Death Eater who had been sent flying upward plummeted
with a scream, forcing Voldemort to flick his wand upward, diverting
the falling body aside. Harry’s jinx caught him full in the chest, and
Voldemort spun to the floor, spitting and cursing aloud. The Death
Eater landed to the side in a mess of broken bones and blood.
and Harry stood, their wands held at their sides once more. A thin
trickle of blood was wending its way down Voldemort’s lip, which he
wiped at disgustedly with his sleeve. ‘Half-blood, isn’t it?’ Harry
asked quietly, ‘when’s the last time you saw it spill?’
‘What have you done?’ Voldemort hissed, fear on his tone.
Horcruxes,’ Harry replied, holding up his left hand and blowing the
dirt that was there away. ‘Gone. One soul left now, Tom, just like me.’
‘I’m nothing like you!’ Voldemort screamed, ‘Avada Kedavra!’
Harry threw himself aside as the Killing Curse tore the ground up. When
he stood up again he saw Voldemort twist on the spot, then repeat the
turn clumsily once more.
‘The wards are back up,’ Harry said
confidently, ‘there’s no running this time.’ At the edge of his vision
he suddenly saw an explosion rock the school gates as the Order of the
Phoenix joined the battle. ‘We have to finish what you started, and
with Dumbledore’s help I’ll end it,’ Harry continued, gesturing at
Voldemort with his mentor’s wand.
‘Dumbledore’s dead and
gone,’ Voldemort spat back, drawing his wand ready once more, ‘a lost
memory – and you will join him soon enough.’
Curses began to
fly between the two immediately, with Harry immersing Voldemort in a
ball of flame. It didn’t survive Voldemort’s defence long enough to
singe the Dark Wizard, and in return he hurled a hex that sent Harry
spiralling through the air. Landing deftly on his feet, Harry jerked
the ground in front of him upward, using the natural barrier to deflect
a second Killing Curse.
With a cry of rage, Voldemort charged
at Harry, battering away at the barrier with jinx after jinx, tearing
away at the sod while Harry stood calmly on the other side. Gathering
his strength, Voldemort destroyed the barrier with a swipe of his wand,
then swiftly grabbed Harry’s wand arm with his spare hand, the pale
fingers gripping it like a vice. ‘You can’t kill me, Potter, I’m
‘I don’t have to kill you,’ Harry replied, and
punched Voldemort full on in the face with his spare hand, ‘I just have
to destroy your soul.’ But instead of breaking his grip, Voldemort only
increased it, and Harry heard a sickening snapping noise as his wrist
was suddenly twisted apart, and Dumbledore’s wand fell to the ground.
out Harry’s knees crumpled, and a jet of white light punched him in the
stomach and sent him flying back into the white tomb. Harry’s body
thumped into the hard stone, and he collapsed in a heap at the bottom,
landing on his right hand and sending a rictus of agony along his arm.
Gritting his teeth against the pain, Harry wasn’t prepared for it to
suddenly double as Voldemort used the Cruciatus Curse on him.
a few strides the Dark Lord was right in front of the writhing younger
wizard, who kept silent despite the agony etched on his features.
Behind him the Order was breaking through the Death Eater lines,
stunning and cursing them as they tried to flee but found the wards
surrounding Hogwarts back in place. Ignoring the confusion, Voldemort
very calmly lifted the spell from Harry, and centred his wand tip on
Harry’s forehead, digging the point into his lightning shaped scar.
ends, but not the way the old wizard wanted it to,’ he said, his voice
filled with spite and anger. Harry shut his eyes, letting the wand
point drive his head back against the cool stone behind him.
* * *
Phoenix song was filling Harry’s head, and he felt a wonderful peace about him suddenly.
slowed as Harry’s eyes opened, and he saw Voldemort’s bloody mouth
forming the Killing Curse. But the eyes of the Dark Wizard flickered
slowly, and suddenly the red turned to a blazing orange.
slammed into Voldemort’s head, his talons gouging into the serpent-like
eyes as he screeched furiously. Voldemort screamed loudly, flapping
away at the firebird with his arms and dropping his wand. Launching
himself from the ground, Harry dove on top of the wand, grasping it
with ruined fingers.
‘Move Fawkes!’ he yelled, and the phoenix
immediately released his grip on Voldemort, leaving two ragged and
bloody holes where the wizard’s eyes should have been. ‘Goodbye Tom,’
Harry said clearly, feeling a grim satisfaction as the blinded killer
turned to stare sightlessly at him.
He didn’t hear the words,
but Harry saw the Killing Curse strike Tom Riddle down, who fell
slowly, almost gracefully to the floor.
Pulling himself along
the ground, Harry left the wand lying on the floor, his useless arm
trailing behind him as he moved back to the tomb. ‘Thank you,’ he
whispered, leaning his head against the cool surface.
‘I will only have truly left this school when none here are loyal to me…help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it, Harry.’
‘Can you rest now?’ Harry asked quietly, a grateful tear falling down his grime covered cheek.
‘Until I am needed again, Harry, as I have always planned. And thank you for the socks.’
‘They’re cotton,’ Harry said with a grin, choking briefly on the tears, ‘for your two year anniversary.’
nice, I’m sure that Dobby will enjoy them. Take care of Fawkes now,
Harry, he will always be the protection for Hogwarts’ protector.’
‘I’ll see you,’ Harry whispered, putting a palm against the stone, which warmed beneath his touch.
‘Not for a long time, unless Miss Weasley decides otherwise when you return to the Burrow.’ As Dumbledore’s voice faded, the stone began to cool once more, ‘And do tell Miss Granger that even the wisest people in the world can be mistaken from time to time, we call it eccentricity.’
Harry laughed aloud, even as he felt Dumbledore’s presence fade back to wherever it had come from.
someone asked, breaking through the phoenix song that had been drowning
out all but Dumbledore’s voice. Looking up, he saw Ron, his face
bruised on one side, but otherwise looking fine. He smiled as Ron’s
face lit up with relief, glancing away he saw Voldemort’s body lying on
the ground, and took in the bloody eye sockets. ‘Did you do that?’ he
asked in awe, although apprehensively.
‘Fawkes came back,’ Harry said, ‘just like He said he would.’
‘Just like who?’
Ron,’ Harry replied, a serene smile blossoming on his face, ‘he’s still
here, protecting this place, he called Fawkes back to save me.’
paused for a moment, wondering if his friend had gone mad from the
confrontation, but he found himself matching Harry’s grin instead. ‘So,
is it over?’
‘Almost,’ Harry replied, struggling upright, clutching his broken wrist to his chest, ‘almost.’
* * *
bruised and weary, Harry opened the door into Ginny's room, his
bandaged arm pushing the door aside softly. From below, he could hear
the sounds of Hermione's sobs, and Ron’s voice gently rumbling as he
held her tightly. He’d given Harry a small smile as he went upstairs,
which Harry returned before leaving his friends to their own company.
softly, he moved to the bedside, sitting down and lifting back the
blanket that covered Ginny's swaddled form. In the soft light of the
room he pushed back a stray lock of her hair that had fallen over her
eyes, tucking it softly behind her ear. When he looked back, her eyes
were wide open, their soft brown colour blurry beneath the tears.
came back,’ she whispered, her hand fighting free of the sheets to
caress his face. ‘You came back to me.’ She sat up, wrapping both her
arms around his neck and pulling herself into Harry’s chest.
her back fiercely, Harry felt tears running freely down his face as
well. ‘I never left you,’ he whispered, feeling the crumpled letter
pressing against the back of his head beneath her hand. ‘I’ll never
A/N (Aftermath note): There are several disclaimers to put in here, because I can only think of so many things myself.
Potter and everything about it is the sole property of J. K. Rowling. A
note about the exams – I had them taken earlier than I imagine NEWTs
would be in Ginny's case – perhaps to mark the skills she shows in the
books for some of the magical arts, but mostly as a plot device.
The line concerning the ‘absence of light’ is taken from the Hellboy movie, and the work of Mike Mignola (the genius).
I got to use the word sepulchre! At last! Wheeeeeeeeee!
the wands. I love the theory that Voldemort kidnapped Ollivander to
have him make a new wand, one that would not be affected by Priori
Incantatem. As for Dumbledore’s wand, I’m not quite sure what happened
to it (must re-read HBP again!) so I figured, why not give it to his
And lastly, but definitely not leastly,
thanks to Bart for agreeing to beta this with about two days warning,
and turning it around in less than 12 hours – legend!