Content Harry Potter Trixie Belden Star Trek: TNG My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
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Disclaimer: Caution — Pruning shears are not a toy. Handle carefully. Edges sharp — severe cutting risk. Once again, these characters and situations do not belong to me, but to JK Rowling, and I am merely playing with her creations. No damage to her copyrights is intended.

Note: Forgot to mention another of my 'tips of the hat' to another author. In this case, it's the Viktor/Luna thing, which I've only ever seen in chem_prof's work on Also, you'll recognise one more thing in here that DrT has done. You'll know it when you see it.

"Are you sure that you weren't meant to be the Hogwarts champion?" Cedric laughed as the group sat around the table laughing. "You are in first place!"

"Quite sure," Harry replied. "I came back from the future after you were chosen, and am using capabilities gleaned from learning in the future. Someone cheated to get my name in, and I intend to cause them some problems. What's that saying? 'Cheaters never prosper'? Well, they did last time, and it ended up destroying me mentally. I honestly can't tell you how much it means to me that you've accepted me as a friend after you've been told all that happened."

"Risking death for others ven dere is no need?" Viktor asked, relaxing with his arm around Luna's shoulder. "Is sign of greatest friendship dere is. How could ve not return friendship?"

"You're trying to save my Cedric's life," Cho said, voice throbbing with emotion. "We all realise that coming back might kill you. In fact, there may be a balance required, that you pay with your life to see that these people live." She sobbed once quickly, but then looked at him with steel in her eyes and voice. "I can't speak for the others with certainty, but I can speak for myself and Cedric. If we live because of this, then we are damned well going to do everything in our power to save you as well. If God was willing to come down and talk to you, then she'll damned well stand before us and explain why you have to die."

"And now you see the real reason I sent you back, Harry," said a voice familiar to him. "The healing that you have done, and the friendships that you have forged are priceless. You are better friends with these people now than you were before, and you were close to several of them then."

"Are you -" Cho asked softly.

"I am the entity that many call God, by whatever name they choose. No one religion has me exactly right, mind you. I'm female because Harry relates best to women. As the American comic book readers might understand it, I'm an anthropomorphic manifestation of a concept. In this case, Deity. The eighth of seven siblings, if you will."

"You aren't taking him when this is done," Cho said simply.

"Even if it means you have to die again?" God asked.

Cho looked to Cedric, who took her hand, and they both stood. "If our dying keeps Harry alive, then the price is worth it," Cedric said. "I like life, that I won't deny. But since he's come back, I've been living life with more gusto than I would have first time around, because I've had driven home that life is precious. I've been paying attention to the important things," he said, brushing his hand along Cho's cheek. "For that, I can never repay him. I know he'd never ask for repayment, either."

"I came back to keep you alive," Harry sputtered. "My whole purpose is to make sure the group of you survive!"

"At the cost of your own life?" Luna asked.

"If need be!" he yelled.

"Price is too high," Viktor said. "So ve make sure price is not paid." He crossed his arms as punctuation, obviously considering the conversation closed, and God had a self-satisfied smirk on her face.

Harry, on the other hand, stalked out of the room in high dudgeon.

"Can't say as that was unexpected," Ron said. "He doesn't take very well to the thought that any of us might die. I don't like thinking — don't say it, Hermione — thinking about it, but Cho just might right. Is he back here to perform some balancing act? His life for ours?"

"No," was the simple response. "I don't think he's thought about my sending him back, really. Why would I send anyone back, just to save twelve lives? If it was only for that, I wouldn't. But can you imagine the kind of Dark Lord he might have become, knowing that he had a thousand years or more to live? You've heard some of his self-loathing. He would do everything in his power to ensure that he was bound for Hell when he was finally dead. After over a thousand years ruling, do you have any idea just how widespread the destruction could get? He would be as bad as Riddle would have been, had Riddle won in the original time line."

The others were silent for a long moment. Hermione finally spoke, quietly. "Since we can't do anything about what could have been, can you at least tell us who, if any of us, he'll be with when this is done?"

God laughed, a happy and amused sound. "I'm not omniscient," she said, "but think back to the memory that he showed you of when he awoke with the huge lifespan. He kissed the foreheads of two women. Make of that what you will. But remember that there is no guarantee that it will happen that way." She paused. "I think I'd best go talk to Harry now. See if I can get him to calm down. Remember that part of the reason that he's so angry at the moment isn't because he's mad at you, but because he's deathly afraid that things will play out the same way this time around. He's wrapped his brain around the possibility that he might die, and doesn't want to allow for the possibility that anyone he came back to save might die this time around. And that now includes you, Mr Diggory, since he came back to a time that you still survive in. He quite literally means it when he says that he will die before he permits any of you to be killed."

She looked at the sombre faces and said. "I'll speak with Harry now." She walked toward the door and faded out.

He returned to the Room of Requirement, needing to talk to someone. He opened and smiled ever-so slightly, because he was once again in the Granger home, but this time with both parents waiting for him.

"You need to talk," 'Dan Granger' said. "So talk."

'Emma' swatted him on the arm. "Apologies for Dan. He was never completely housebroken."

Despite his deep indignation at what he had heard at the impromptu party, he found that amusing, and wondered if his own parents might have acted that way. "I'm sorry, it's just that ... I just ... how do I make them see?"

"Pretend I know nothing of what you speak," Dan said. "Try to explain your anger and indignation to me."

"I came back in time to try to save the lives of twelve people — one of them being your daughter. Well, you know what I mean." Dan nodded. "I managed to go back to a time before when even Cedric Diggory was murdered. Now I have all these people trying to throw themselves into danger, where they'll likely get themselves killed, thereby negating the very reason for my being here!"

"Really?" Emma asked. "As I understand it, the first time around, none of them had any real chance to defend themselves from what was going to happen. Is that correct?" Harry nodded to her. "So, now they've all been made aware, and they've all been training as best they can. You've taught Viktor Krum the Occlumency necessary to be able to throw off the Imperius that Crouch Junior is going to hit him with. Fleur is a much better fighter now. And Cedric trains like a madman."

"Would you like to know why he's training like a madman?" Dan asked. When Harry nodded at him, the reply was, "So that he's not useless to you when the two of you end up in the graveyard. You've sworn to keep him alive, even if you verbally allow that he might die. Well, he's sworn that you'll not be facing Voldemort alone either, and that he'll fight to the cost of his own death to keep you alive."

"But ... that puts us at cross purposes!" Harry exclaimed.

"Only if you're trying to commit suicide when you kill Voldemort," Emma said simply. When Harry's face shut down at the comment, she smiled wryly. "And now we reach the heart of the matter."

"Yes," said another voice. Harry turned to face She who he thought of as God. "You're fighting so hard to keep them alive and kill yourself at the same time that you forgot that they're people who care for you, and in a few cases, actually love you. Has it occurred to you that Hermione might well be devastated by your death? That Cedric might develop a deep despair that he might never completely recover from because he wasn't good enough to save the life of a fourteen year old boy?" She shook her head. "You need to talk to them, Harry. They love you. They all do, in various ways. The Weasleys are your siblings in all but blood, and the feeling goes both ways. As they see it right now, both Hermione and Daphne have every intention of being with you in five to ten years, and giving you as many children as you want. Fleur has been dreaming of you at night. You have become a knight in shining armour for her. Susan and Hannah and Neville and the rest all care deeply for you as friends. Admittedly a few of them wouldn't mind more, but are happy with just friends."

She put her hands on Harry's shoulders. "Is it really fair of you to take that from them? They want you alive. You think you need to pay for the deaths upstream from here, but they haven't happened, and hopefully never will. Why must you pay for something that didn't happen?"

He stood back and blinked at her for a long moment. "Because I'm afraid. If that happens again, I just know that I'm going to become a Dark Lord. I'll have two thousand years to earn my place in Hell, and I'm afraid that I just might do everything necessary to ensure it. That scares me. It would be so easy to slip over and destroy everything, just by letting myself go a little mad. And the world will pay for my mistake."

"Then you need to make sure that it doesn't happen, don't you?" Emma asked. "And then you need to wait until you're out of school and make Dan and I grandparents."

Harry stood, lost in thought for a long moment before looking up. "I'll try. That's all I can promise for now."

"That's all we ask," Dan said. He walked over and hugged Harry, and Emma followed suit. They then faded out, leaving the Granger home untouched.

God pulled him close. "We love you, Harry, and don't want you to hurt yourself. You surprised me by realising the reason that I sent you back in time."

"Introspection is something I'm quite familiar with. I've had years to perfect it. I've known it for quite some time, but didn't want to scare the others."

"They know now. I told them."

"What was the reaction?" he asked, fearing the answer.

"After a lull in the conversation, Hermione asked who you'd end up with romantically speaking. She loves you very much, Harry."

"Are you serious? Right after being told that I could become the worst Dark Lord in history, she asked if ... what was she thinking?"

She laughed. "That the man she loves is going to succeed, and that she'll someday give him the family he so richly deserves. Not one of them is scared of you, Harry. They're scared for you, and want you happy and healthy."

He shook his head in wonder. "Thank you, God. I suppose I ought to go back to them and apologise for leaving in high snit."

"It looked more like dudgeon to me, but going back would probably be good," She said with a smile. "You had a party going, after all."

The group of Hogwarts students that had been gathered after the first task were gathered once more, at the Headmaster's request. They sat talking amongst themselves about nothing in particular until the door opened, and the Headmaster himself stepped into the room.

"I shall avoid the old Muggle joke and explain why I have called you all here today. It is in regards to Severus Snape." Daphne, Hermione and Harry sat straighter in their chairs, awaiting the announcement. "After far too much politicking, I have finally been permitted to terminate his employment at this school."

"Why did it take so long?" Daphne asked. "Some of the evidence that I brought forward, as well as the others that I contacted for affidavits should have had him looking for a new position within days."

Dumbledore smiled, but it looked as if he had swallowed something unpleasant. "Ah, Miss Greengrass, you forget the power of politics to prolong things. The Board of Governors felt that terminating him in the early part of the school year would reflect badly upon them, plus certain other factions felt that with him in charge, their children were going to do better in school. You recall, for example, that Lucius Malfoy is one of the members of the Board." He sighed. "It took some of his prior students - dare I use the word 'victims' - threatening to take this before the courts that finally permitted us to remove him."

The Headmaster looked at Harry. "I am so terribly sorry, Harry. I truly thought that he … ah, but the road to Hell is paved with intentions such as mine."

"Which is better, sir? To become cynical and deny everyone another chance at redemption, or to assume the best of everyone unless they prove you wrong? I know the type man you are, and you, like everyone else, are merely human. But you believe in chances, and I wouldn't want you to be any other way, sir. But if you feel that the words are necessary, then I'll say them. I forgive you."

"That means more to me than I can ever say, my boy," the ageing man said with a smile. He looked to the rest of the students. "Professor Sinistra will take full-time duties as Head of Slytherin House from this moment forward. She has been made aware of this fact. I will continue to teach Potions until a proper professor can be found for the subject, which may not be until this school year has ended."

"There is one other piece of information that I believe you will find to be pleasant, Harry," he finished with a smile.

After a moment of waiting, Harry grinned and said, "You're just going to make me ask, aren't you?" At the Headmaster's silent smile, he said, "All right then. What information do you have for me that I might enjoy?"

"Searching with William Weasley was quite fruitful. We have been to all the places listed on your parchment, and have carefully retrieved all but the snake. I fear that the Horcrux stored in the snake shall be ... well, from the memory you gave, I fear that you shall have to deal with it in May."

Harry leapt to his feet and ran to the man, pulling him into a hug. "I've only got one of them left to deal with? This is great news!"

"Actually, we have them stored at the moment. Bill believes that destroying them at the moment could be catastrophic in nature, with a high likelihood of killing the one doing the destruction. Needless to say, this would have to be done six times. Finding one person willing to sacrifice their lives for such an endeavour is difficult enough. Finding four? Nigh unto impossible."

Harry thought for a moment. "What if Riddle destroyed them?"

"Not to be insulting, Harry," Hannah said, "but how do you plan to get him to destroy them? I can't exactly see you walking up to him and saying, 'Sir? I'm trying to kill you permanently, so I need you to destroy your soul pieces.'" She paused. "Well, actually, this is you. I can see you doing that, just to annoy him," she said with a laugh. "What I can't see is him agreeing."

Harry just grinned and tapped his scar. "Ah, but I have an in, dear girl. The Moldie one and I have a link. If I let him get back to a body, using my blood, it will get much stronger, but the link is there now. He affected me in first year, so it should work."

Dumbledore's eyebrows were nearing his hairline. "That could work, Harry. I shall speak with William and see what his opinion is on the matter." With a somewhat indulgent smile, he said, "You can understand that we do not wish to put you in greater danger than you are already in."

"I understand sir. But this is going to be really amusing if it turns out that this can be dealt with by a simple 'Finite Incantatem' by me."

Bill Weasley looked at Harry in shock as he finished the last Horcrux. "I do not believe this! These things were booby-trapped with more ... I'd have ... I'm a curse breaker — one of the best and that's not arrogance speaking — and I could not get past the protections on these things. You walk in and cast 'Finite Incantatem' and they simply ... stop!" The indignation in Bill's voice was quite evident, and to Harry, quite humorous.

Harry was laughing. "Bill, I have an in, as I pointed out to the Headmaster." He tapped his scar. "I apparently have just enough of Tom's aura that the Horcruxes saw me as him. So obviously, if 'Tom' wanted to do something to the Horcrux, it must have been for a good reason, so it let him." He paused. "They may have been parts of his soul, but I don' think that they were all that sentient, were they?"

"I'd say not," Bill said. "I think they'd have fought more if they were." He grinned at Harry. "You should start taking Runes and Arithmancy. I have the sneaking suspicion that you'd make one heck of a good curse breaker."

"I'll give it some thought," Harry said with a smile. "I've got to decide what I'm going to do with my life this time around, if I'm lucky enough to survive. I don't trust the Ministry not to use me one way or another, so most Ministry positions are right out. I'm the last scion of the Potter family, so I'm now an adult in the eyes of the law, thanks to an ancient law that favours purebloods. I'll be moving into the Potter manor — and by the way, I want to hire you to make sure the wards are solid — so I'll not be worriting about those damned Dursleys anymore." He blinked. "Worriting? I've been paying too much attention to Tolkien again." He shook his head. "So yeah, I just might think about curse breaking for a living. Won't need the money, but it might be fun."

"Well, here's hoping you do, little brother," Bill said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Hey, if Ron considers you family, and Mum and Dad do as well, then that's good enough for me." He smiled wryly. "Ginny wishes you were family in a slightly different way, of course, but -"

"I remember from the first go around. We got to some pretty heavy snogging the first time through, I admit, but ... well, she's a bit too much like your Mum, and your Mum sometimes gives me flashbacks to the Dursleys. I love your family to pieces, but the arguing is too close to home, y'know?"

Bill smiled widely. "Why do you think Charlie and I moved out? I'm in Egypt for a reason, little bro." Harry laughed and then surprised them both by giving Bill a quick hug.

"That was something none of you ever actually said to me first time around. I think I like this redo."

Dumbledore approached him a few days later with another large smile and led him to his office. "We have rescued Bartemius Crouch Senior," he told Harry. "He is unable to speak at the moment — at least coherently — but it is not believed that he will remain that way for long."

"Where is he?" Harry asked.

"At the moment, he is in the Long Term Care ward in St. Mungos," was the answer.

"Find a way to protect him. Send Winky along or something. In a year from now, in the old time stream, someone died in there because the security isn't high enough, and they were guarding that prophecy we were talking about." He paused. "What say we go to the Department of Mysteries and pull that little bugger out of there, so that he doesn't have an excuse to try going after it physically?"

"Planning ahead, I see," Albus said with a smile.

"It's the height of arrogance to plan for this working perfectly, sir. I need to be prepared for the worst."

"Excellent thinking, my boy. Either way, we shall go this summer and retrieve it."

"It might be better to take a day during the school year, before the final task," Harry said. "That way word can get around that it's been heard, and the Order of the Phoenix won't need to post a guard all the time." He shrugged. "If Tom survives the graveyard — which I'm hoping he won't, to be honest — then the word that it's been heard will pretty much force him to put all his interest on me, rather than trying to get through a door." He grinned a nasty grin. "My Occlumency shields are far better than he'll be expecting."

Dumbledore's face fell slightly. "I know that it was not me, and yet it was. I apologise for the decision that I undoubtedly would have made, Harry. I trusted the man, and it seems that I should not have done so."

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I would rather you keep trusting in the goodness of mankind, rather than become the bitter old man that it would require you become if you stopped trusting. You did what you thought best. So what if time proved otherwise? At the time you made the decisions, they really were for the best. I forgive you. I'll keep telling you that I forgive you until you believe me." He swept the elderly gentleman into a hug.

"It does my heart good to see that my decision to leave you at the Dursleys did not damage you in the ways that matter most."

The two sat and talked for a time more about more inconsequential things, before finally breaking for the evening.

The day of the Third Task came, and Harry found that once again, the Weasleys had come to cheer him on, although this time it was the entire family. He pulled the Headmaster aside to remind him to grab Crouch Junior as soon as the competition started.

This time around Harry was first into the maze, as opposed to entering with Cedric. He knew the way that the other three tended to think, and was bound and determined to make it to the Cup before anyone else.

He knew quickly on that he had not done one very important thing — mapped out the maze. He was lost in extremely short order, although his use of the 'Point Me' spell had the same use it did last time — pointing him in a north-west direction. He didn't find the golden mist that seemed to turn everything upside down this time, but he ran into Hagrid's damned Blast-Ended Skrewts. Knowing that killing them would hurt his first friend's feelings, he cast the strongest Immobilus he could — and they all froze in place.

His travels kept rearranging on him. He would have sworn that the maze didn't rewrite itself in the original time stream, but this one seemed to. Every few minutes, a strong breeze would come up and blow mist past him, and when it cleared, the maze had different look to it. He was pleased that he did not hear the scream of Fleur this time, and kept moving.

He skidded to stop — literally; a small divot of sod flew a short distance in front of him — when he rounded a corner and once again found a sphinx blocking his path. This one looked different than the previous one had; where the first one had the winged body of a lion and the head of a human woman, this one was leonine from the waist down, based off the upper torso, which was that of a shapely woman. Golden fur ran along the entire body, fading as it approached the face, which was flesh, but had the same golden hue.

"Crap," he muttered. "I should have realised that they'd change the maze on me. They'd only had seven months, after all." He looked up. "Milady sphinx," he said. "What is your riddle?"

"You know the rules then?"

"If I get it right, I pass. If I get it wrong, we fight. If I choose not to answer, you let me find a different way to the centre."

She nodded with a smile. "You do understand. Excellent. Very well, here is my riddle:

This thing all other things devours;

Birds, beasts, trees, and flowers;

Gnaws iron, bites steel;

Grinds hard stone to meal.

Slays king, ruins town;

Beats high mountains down.

What is it?

Harry began to chuckle, and it soon became a full blown belly laugh. "Of all the riddles to give me, you had to give me that one?" He got himself under control and bowed low to her. "Even had I not read the great J.R.R. Tolkien's works, I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the answer to this specific riddle is that which I have an intimate knowledge of — time."

The sphinx nodded, sketched her own bow, and moved aside to allow him passage. "Good luck with your hunt, wise one," she called after him.

He continued to run, at least once jumping over a giant spider with a move that would have made an Olympic gymnast drool in envy. Finally, at the corner ahead, he could see the faint glow that he knew was the Tri-Wizard Cup — and his ticket to the graveyard where Riddle awaited.

He sprinted to the corner and turned it, ready to see the Cup — and found his fellow competitors sitting around a table, playing Exploding Snap. "It is about time you got 'ere, 'Arry," Fleur said with a wicked smile.

Cedric created a chair for him to sit in. "Get yourself rested before we take that Cup. Don't want to be facing Dark wizards when you're not as fresh as you can be, do you?"

"But ... how?" he asked as he dropped into the conjured chair.

"Depends," answered Viktor. "Cedric valked. I flew."

Fleur looked at Harry for a moment. "You went zrough ze maze, 'Arry. We went over it. Cedric cast a Fezzerlight Charm upon 'is shoes, made a ladder, and walked 'ere." He smacked his forehead with his palm. "Viktor Summoned 'is broom, and I cast Spider Walk and climbed and ran ze maze."

"We knew that we had to beat you here," Cedric said. "The only way any of us could think to do that was to go over the maze, rather than through it. Did you meet the sphinx? I saw her as I jumped over her. She waved, in fact."

"Shouldn't she have tried to stop you? She had wings," Harry said, confused.

"Apparently she was told to stay on the ground. Nobody expected us to do this, I'll bet, so she stayed where they told her to."

Harry shook his head. "All that work to try to beat you here, and I was out-thought. You thought outside the box. Thinking worthy of a Slytherin."

"Nah — pure Hufflepuff. Loyalty to a fellow school chum." He grinned at Harry.

Harry stood a few minutes later. "I supposed that I'm as rested as I can get for now. Shall we all take the Cup together, then? I promise not to touch it before you guys — you worked too hard to make sure you'd be with me. Just ... stay safe, okay?"

"Ve vill try, friend Harry. Dat is all ve can promise." Harry nodded his acceptance.

The four champions stood at the cardinal points around the Cup. "We touch it on three?" he asked, getting nods all around. "One ... two ... three ..." The jarring pull behind his navel happened once more, as it had the first time around, and the four of them were sent flying through the ether.

They had left the Hogwarts grounds completely; they had obviously traveled miles — perhaps hundreds of miles — for even the mountains surrounding the castle were gone. They were standing instead in a dark and overgrown graveyard; the black outline of a small church was visible beyond a large yew tree to their right. A hill rose above them to their left. Harry could just make out the outline of a fine old house on the hillside.

"Right," Harry grumbled. "As if it would be prettier this time around. Okay, keep your eyes open for any movement."

Fleur pointed almost immediately to something in the distance. It appeared to be a robed individual, and they were carrying something.

"Right!" Harry hissed. "That's Pettigrew, and he's carrying the homonculus body of Voldemort. That monument over there should be the Riddle one, which means that there's a cauldron in front of it. Spread out and don't forget your marble shields."

Harry Conjured a knife from the air and then whispered, "Accio Nagini!" Suddenly, a snake shot from the grass and flew toward the Riddle monument. Harry chuckled and moved behind it, and was rewarded with a wet smacking sound. The hissing that he heard after the impact was actually making him giggle slightly, since he didn't know that snakes knew how to swear. This one had apparently learned.

Nagini came around the monument at a speed faster than Harry would have expected, but not fast enough to keep him from shouting "Finite Incantatem!" at the snake.

Nagini stopped suddenly and began to convulse. He suddenly realised that the Horcrux had not been the snake itself, but rather something it had swallowed. It was also quite obvious that what had been done to her was ultimately fatal without the Horcruxes help. As a kindness, he chopped off her head and brought the knife down the length of her body. It stopped about halfway down, and he reached in to find a jewel about the size of a child's fist. It was a star sapphire, and he was fairly certain that it was probably Ravenclaw's gem. He waved his hand over it, cleaning it, and them dropped it into his pocket.

He could hear a hissing voice calling for Nagini. Where are you, my Nagini? he heard in parseltongue.

Chuckling to himself, he replied, Bugger off, unless you want to become a meal!

A high voice screamed into the night, "I will kill you when I see you, Potter!"

"Not likely!" Harry yelled back. "I'm more man at fourteen than you've ever been, you old has-been!" With that, he rolled out from behind the monument and fired off a spell with as much power as he could safely put into it. "Laser!" he yelled, and a beam that was violet in colour, but almost invisible, shot out of his wand and impacted the side of the cauldron, almost at the bottom. Instantly, a hole the size of Harry's head appeared in it, and the fluid contained within began to pour out at an astonishing rate.

"No!" came two simultaneous screams. "You fool!"

"Accio Pettigrew!" he yelled as he shot back behind the monument. A loud crack sounded, and Harry looked to see that he had either killed or at least knocked out Peter Pettigrew. He was about to call Voldemort to him when a green beam shot out toward him.

Reflexively, he threw up a shield which reflected the sickly green Killing Curse off in a random direction. He could also see three other spells shoot toward the direction of the Killing Curse. He tried again to reach for the homonculus body of Riddle, but instead, the bundle shot off toward the direction that the Killing Curse had come from. A moment later, the tell-tale sound of Apparation sounded through the graveyard, and Harry began to curse mightily.

In response to his anger, he looked down at Pettigrew and Transfigured all his clothing into a single mass of solid steel. He then made sure that the man was still alive, and Stunned him again for good measure.

"Damn it to hell!" he screamed to the heavens.

"We're all alive, Harry," Cedric said. "We're ahead of the game."

"And Voldemort escaped, damn it," Harry whispered. "I failed. I failed at my task."

The group reappeared to the shock of everyone, each jointly holding the Cup. The silence was deafening — how could this have happened? There was supposed to be a single winner! What was more unusual was that there was an extra person along for the ride.

"Headmaster Dumbledore! Remus Lupin!" Harry called out. The two appeared quite rapidly and looked down at their extra passenger.

"Pettigrew!" Remus snarled.

"That's impossible!" Cornelius Fudge said. "Pettigrew is dead, murdered by that psycho, Sirius Black! That's an imposter, trying to ruin the good name of an Order of Merlin winner!"

"Wrong," Harry said. "Wake him and give him Veritaserum. I'll bet he can tell you who he really is."

"Who do you think you are, ordering me around?" Fudge bellowed at him. "I don't care if you are The Boy Who Lived, you will not speak to me that way!"

"Who does he think he is?" Cedric asked. "He thinks he's the guy who captured this moron, who was trying to resurrect Voldemort. And guess what? He did capture this guy! There were two of them, though, and the second one got Voldemort away before we could stop him."

"Voldemort is dead, you silly fool," Fudge sneered at Cedric. "I thought Amos would have raised his son better than to tell scary stories like that."

Harry turned to Dumbledore, ignoring Fudge, which made the Minister turn a colour Harry had only ever seen on Vernon before. "Did you capture the false Moody?"

"Yes, and the Polyjuice Potion has worn off. It is, in fact, Bartemius Crouch Junior."

"Impossible! He died in prison!" Fudge said.

"Then how is he currently under guard up at the castle?" Albus asked calmly.

"I'll need to see this for myself," Fudge blustered. "Let me call some guards to me and we'll just see about this!"

"Minister?" Harry said calmly. "If you bring Dementors onto the grounds, be aware that I will chase them off."

Fudge laughed. "What can you do about it? Most adult wizards can't cast the spell necessary, how is a little child like you going to manage it?"

Harry grinned and pulled out his wand. "Expecto Patronum!" he yelled, remembering the feeling of the kisses that both Hermione and Daphne had given him this morning. A bright silver stag erupted from his wand and charged around the stadium. "Next question, Minister?" he asked impudently.

It had not been a good time for the Minister. Two men had returned from the dead apparently, and both were working for Voldemort. Amelia Bones had quickly been called in, which made Fudge even angrier than before, because he now knew that he was simply unable to sweep the stories under the rug — Bones was well known for being something of a hard-nose about the law. Both men were taken to the Ministry and placed under guard with people that she trusted.

Fudge had blustered his way back out of the castle.

Harry was not taking part in the party that seemed to have erupted in the school. Everyone was cheering on the champions, and congratulating them that it had been a joint victory.

"Cheer up, Harry," Dumbledore said as he sat down next to the sombre young man and cast a privacy shield. "He must find a new method to return himself to a better form. Perhaps he can try the same one again, but he will not likely use your blood, which will lead to a weaker link between you than in your previous run through the time stream."

"I have further good news for you as well," he said. "I have had a look at the Arithmantic equations, and had several trusted Unspeakables check them through as well. What Tom did not know when he split his soul into seven pieces was that it is now impossible for him to create another Horcrux. There is a certain point at which your soul can become no smaller. He has reached that barrier. There will be no more Horcruxes."

"That is good news," Harry said. "Oh, sir? I found out what was making Nagini into a Horcrux." He reached into his pocket and pulled out the sapphire.

Dumbledore's eyes widened so far that Harry felt that it was only the older man's glasses that kept them in his head. "This must be Rowena's scrying jewel!" he breathed reverently. "He chose artefacts of the Founders, and none have known what happened to the jewel. Until now."

"So what happens to them now?"

"Well, it appears that in each case, the last known owner died without heir. Hepzibah Smith was no relation to young Zacharias. It seems that the laws concerning salvage come to play. Since there are no living members of any of those families, you are now the proud owner of several priceless Founders artefacts."

"What am I going to do with a scrying gem?" Harry asked plaintively.

Dumbledore waited for only a moment before saying, "Improve your Divination marks, perhaps?"

Harry stared at the man for a long moment before beginning to snort, and then chuckle. At the point that Albus Dumbledore dropped the privacy shield, the rest of the room was treated to the hysterical laughter of one Harry Potter, who was now banging the table with his fist as he laughed.

"Actually," Daphne said later on, "you could probably use it to find where Voldemort is."

Hermione was vibrating at the moment. She considered Divination to be a 'woolly science' at best, but this was an artefact from a Founder! "Argh," she finally growled. "I want to ridicule scrying, but ... there are too many studies showing that it really happens; that it works."

"You've been turned off it by a woman who might as well be a fraud," Harry said. "She tries to live up to the image of her great-great-grandmother, but hasn't the talent. Divination itself isn't bad, it's how she teaches it. It doesn't tell you specifics — usually — it points you where you need to go."

"So what are we doing with it?" Hermione asked.

He smiled. "I was thinking of having a setting made for it, so that the stone could be placed into it and put on a chain."

"Who would you give it to?" Hermione asked.

Harry could hear the hope in her voice. "Well, since I was thinking of giving the Slytherin locket to my Slytherin love, I was thinking that my own little Ravenclaw should wear the sapphire."

She cocked her head. "Who's your girlfriend in Ravenclaw?" she asked, sounding slightly hurt. "Su Li?"

He kissed her forehead. "If you hadn't been so sure that Gryffindor was the best place for you, Hermione, where would you have ended up?"

"Ravencl -" she started to say, and then blushed shyly. "Oh." A moment later, her head shot up. "You can't give me something so precious as an irreplaceable artefact!"

"Why not?" he asked. "You gave me something even more precious than the gem. You gave me your heart."

She blushed again.

The ride back to King's Cross station was unusual for Harry. He'd seen both Viktor and Fleur off as their respective schools returned home, but both had promised him that they would see him again soon. In the car, he sat with Hermione and Daphne flanking him, both now wearing their respective necklaces under their clothing. Across from him sat Ron, who was helping make space in the cabin for both Luna and Ginny by letting Susan Bones sit on his lap. From her giggles, Harry had the feeling that Ron had at least once wordlessly told her that he enjoyed her figure.

The ride was basically quiet, but for Harry, it would occasionally bring tears to his eyes as he remembered the original time line, and the friendships then. Things had changed, but there was something deep and moving for him to be sitting in the same place that he had made his first friends in the magical world, knowing that the years ahead were completely unknown to him.

"I love you guys, you know that?" he said thickly. "A year ago in my own personal memories, I knew that I'd never see you guys again, and that I had what felt like an eternity to wait before I'd have any hope of speaking with you again. Now I can sit with you, lose at chess to Ron, and ... I don't think I'll ever be able to tell you just how much you mean to me."

Luna met his eyes. "I'm glad you came back. I'd never have approached Viktor if not for you, and now I have a boyfriend who doesn't mind my eccentricities."

"And have you noticed that you're not quite as flighty anymore?" Ginny asked.

Luna nodded, her eyes sparkling. "For a flier, he grounds me well. And I help him fly in ways he never expected."

"Isn't that what love is about?" Harry asked with a smile.

The train pulled into the Kings Cross station shortly thereafter, and they all disembarked. As they prepared to exit to the Muggle side, Harry said, "You might wish to get your parents watching, Hermione, and anyone else you can get. I'm going to defy Vernon, and I expect that he'll likely lash out physically."

"I'll talk to my parents," Hermione said. "They'll likely offer a place to stay for a while. I know you don't need it," she hastened to add as he opened his mouth, "but the Muggle authorities are going to want some address that they can reach you at."

He nodded, and they headed out one by one, Harry waiting until last. Almost immediately, he was approached by Vernon Dursley. "Well boy, get your things and bring them to the car. I've not got all day to stand around and wait for you freaks to arrive."

"I'm not going home with you," Harry said simply.

"Excuse me?" Vernon asked, purpling. "I made this drive from Little Whinging to pick up your freakish little carcass, and you dare tell me you're not coming? Who do you think you are?" he finished, his voice getting rather loud at the end.

"Someone who has gotten sick and tired of being treated as a slave at your house," Harry replied conversationally. "Someone who has decided that there comes a point in one's life when abuse is simply not to be tolerated anymore."

The Grangers and other families were edging closer, but Vernon did not seem to notice that. "You ungrateful little ... we gave you a home and a place to sleep, and you dare impugn our generosity?"

"Hmm, better vocabulary than I'm used to from you. As for your generosity — can I assume that you refer to permitting me to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs for ten years? Or are you referring to the fact that you let me sleep in a bedroom that you lock from the outside? Or maybe you refer to the year that you put bars outside my window to keep me in, because you didn't want me returning to my school? How about the fact that I am forced to do all that prize winning landscaping that you and yours win awards for, for the honour of eating your leftovers, which I was the one to cook in the first place?"

This was too much for Vernon. He reached out and grabbed Harry's arm in a death grip, one that Harry knew would bruise in a short time. "Excuse me, is there a problem here?" asked a man from nearby.

"No, just taking my unruly nephew home. He likes to cause trouble. Just got back from a school for criminal boys."

"Oh, you mean Hogwarts?" the man asked.

Vernon snarled. "You're one of those freaks, aren't you? Keep away from me!"

"I've heard dentists call a number of things — some even compliments — but I don't think we've ever been classed as a whole as freaks."

"Is there a problem here?" another voice asked.

"I want all you freaks to just keep away from me!" Vernon growled. "I'm taking my freakish nephew home right now."

"I don't think so," the second voice said with a much colder voice. "Constable Wilkins here. We've a problem, and I need backup. I'm between platforms nine and ten, down by the far end."

Vernon turned to see the speaker talking into a small microphone on his shoulder. Before anything could be done, Vernon pushed Harry away and waddled as fast as he could — as close to a run as he could manage — toward his car. Constable Wilkins said, "Stay here, please!" as he took off after Vernon.

A short time later, Harry was riding in the back seat of the Granger vehicle, having been offered a place to stay while the police did what they needed to do regarding his uncle. He leaned back into the seat and smiled, especially as Hermione leaned into his shoulder. As much as nothing is clear anymore, this should be a good summer, he thought.

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