- Character Bashing
- Alternate Universe
The overhauls and updates of the wards for Saint Mungo’s and the Ministry were popular with the public as they happened over the next few months, with the Daily Prophet praising the motion as forward-thinking and much needed after everything that had happened recently with Voldemort. The fact that the motion had been so thoroughly supported by all sides was heavily reported as well, leaving many with the hopeful impression that perhaps the world was starting to get better now that the Dark Lord was gone and wasn’t causing strife and death any more.
By the time the Spring Session in April, the members of the Wizengamot were more open to actually listening to one another rather than bickering along alignment lines, though they weren’t entirely erased. A good portion of that was down to how Merlin and his associates interacted with one another– with respect and dignity, regardless of alignment –both in and outside of the chambers. This made bringing up the return of the fostering and sponsoring of half-bloods and Muggleborns far easier, even though it was Lucius who initially brought it up.
That issue would need further review, even with Lucius and Severus’ testimony about how even the informal situation they’d had had worked out so well. Quite a few of the older members of the Wizengamot remembered how well fostering and sponsoring had worked before it had lost popularity due to Dumbledore’s influence, so they were open to the idea of bringing them back. The younger members seemed to be alright with it as well, though a little more hesitant given their experiences with some of the more outspoken Muggleborn who didn’t understand why things were done certain ways or why some holidays were celebrated differently than what they were used to in the Muggle world.
The ideas of Intro to Muggle World and Intro to Wizarding World classes for the first two years– able to be dropped in Third Year to be replaced with other electives or continued to OWL level if the student wanted –had been proposed and then tentatively agreed to, with further discussion by the Hogwarts Board before they would be implemented. Finding appropriately accredited professors would be a priority, as would getting textbooks that would A) teach the students the information they would need to know to maneuver through both worlds easily and B) could be unbiased enough to allow them to make their own impressions about the worlds and cultures they were studying.
As summer approached, Dumbledore was starting to run out of excuses to delay the examination of Hogwarts’ wards and grounds. The goblins took advantage of the fact that Dumbledore was required to be at the Summer Session of Wizengamot to force the issue. Any staff member who was staying at the castle during the summer was sent out for the length of the day, as the goblins didn’t want any interference from them. The house elves, ghosts, and Peeves were such an integral part of the castle that their presences wouldn’t be detrimental to the cleansing process.
Surprisingly, Peeves actually played nice with the goblins and the teams of cursebreakers and wardmasters, staying out of their way for the most part. The Bloody Baron had impressed on him how important it was for him to not get in the way of what was going on, especially since it was for the benefit of the school and all those inhabiting it. Peeves mainly stayed in the trophy room, bobbing around there as he waited for everything to be done.
The tracking orb with the soul shard in it led the team taking care of the last of the Horcruxes to a seemingly abandoned corridor on the seventh floor, with only a tapestry of a wizard ineptly trying to teach trolls how to ballet dance to mark the location. Merlin, who was accompanying the cursebreaking team, frowned as he studied the blank wall the orb was indicating. He rubbed a hand over his chin thoughtfully before speaking.
“May I have a Hogwarts elf to speak with, please?” he asked, reaching out with his magic to that of the castle. There was a warm pulse in reply from Hogwarts and an elf appeared dressed in a tea towel draped and pinned in the style of a toga, the Hogwarts coat of arms displayed over its right breast.
“Hello. How can Pipsy help you?” he squeaked. Merlin knelt down in front of him, a small smile on his face.
“Hello, Pipsy,” he said. He gestured at the wall. “We are looking for something very important, and our tracking magics tell us that it’s beyond that wall, but there’s no entrance. Do you know something we don’t?”
Pipsy looked at the wall and then back at Merlin before speaking. “You are looking for the Come and Go room. You needs to go back and forth three times thinking of what you want to see.”
“Thank you,” Merlin said, his smile deepening as he rose back to his full height. “You can go back to whatever you were doing. We appreciate the help, Pipsy.”
“You’re welcome, sir!” Pipsy exclaimed before popping away back to his regular duties. During the summer, the house elves helped the caretaker to repair and deep clean the castle, and when they ran out of things to do there, they helped other house elves in the Ministry and Saint Mungo’s, where more hands were always needed regardless of time of year.
“Well,” one of the cursebreakers said with a shrug, “we might as well try it. Can’t hurt if it doesn’t work, right?”
“Right. Step back, everyone,” Merlin said. He waited until the others were out of the way before passing back and forth in front of the blank stretch of wall, thinking about what he needed to end Voldemort’s life for all time. On the third pass, a plain oak door appeared in the wall.
“Hmph. Well, let’s get this over with,” Copperblade, the lone goblin in the team, grumbled. Merlin nodded before leading the way into the room beyond. There was a moment of silence as they all took in the mountains of items within the room before one of the cursebreakers let out a low whistle.
“Something tells me that we’re going to need more help,” she said, turning slowly on the spot. “Maybe the house elves?”
Merlin nodded. “I think you’re right, Sylvia. A Hogwarts elf to me, please.” He frowned when nothing happened. “Hm. Maybe they can’t get in here. Stay here for a moment.”
He stepped outside of the Room and then called for an elf again. This time it worked, and once Merlin explained what they needed and why, nineteen more elves popped in around him and trooped into the Room of Hidden Things. Several hours later, the cursebreaking team had located several Dark artifacts that bordered on Infernal and had contained them in specialized crates to deal with later. Copperblade was the one who had the tracking orb, and when it indicated the presence of a Horcrux nearby, called out.
“Over here!” they called out, focusing on a tiara set atop a rather ugly bust of a long-dead wizard. “I found it!”
The others rushed over, leaving the house elves to continue to organize the other objects into various expanded chests. The more valuable objects and gems would be sold and then the gold put into the Hogwarts’ vaults to be used for its annual running budget. The books and clothes would be sorted through as well, and any good ones would go either to the library or to the clothing closet Professor Sprout had set aside for those who had either forgotten items at home or who couldn’t afford more quality items.
Sylvia produced a heavily warded box from her pack, holding it open while Copperblade levitated the Horcrux up and then into the box with a wave of their hand. The dark and alluring aura the tiara exuded dissipated once the lid of the box was closed.
“So,” Sylvia said as she looked down at the box in her hands, “think this’ll work to finish the prophecy off once and for all? It does say that the Dark Wanker needs to die by Amaranth’s hand.”
“I am her Hand by magic and right on this earth until such a time as she grows old enough to relieve me of that responsibility,” Merlin said firmly. “That should be more than enough to satisfy that damned prophecy.”
“Let’s get this back to the bank and get it taken care of, then,” Copperblade replied. “We can use our contacts in the Department of Mysteries to double-check that the prophecy has been fulfilled.”
Merlin hummed affirmatively in reply, his thoughts wandering as they trooped out of the Room, leaving the elves to continue their work. It had been a surprise to learn that both Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were associated with the Department of Mysteries, though Narcissa had taken time off as a healer for obscure curses and magical diseases due to wanting to raise Draco properly. Lucius was a researcher as well, though his specialty were enchanted magical devices. It was part of the reason why he wasn’t too fond of Arthur Weasley. The man’s fascination with enchanting Muggle devices made Lucius’ own work harder as, depending on the device, it was hard to tell between the two, especially if both worlds used said device, be that currently or in the past.
The other part was that the man seemed utterly unconcerned with teaching his children proper Wizarding manners or traditions. That, and one of the Weasley ancestors had broken a marriage contract with a Malfoy bride, instead opting to run off with the third son of a Muggle merchant and move to one of the newly established territories in the Caribbean without so much as an apology or explanation. That was what had started the Malfoy-Weasley feud, and there was little doubt that it would end any time soon unless Arthur made the surprisingly small amount of reparations for his ancestor’s act and actually apologized in the proper fashion.
Merlin and Copperblade returned to Gringotts while the rest of the team went to help with the cleansing and renewal of the wards. The curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts position had been taken care of by that time. It had been anchored to multiple artifacts in the classroom, making it initially difficult to figure out how to dispel it until one of the cursebreakers had the idea to cast a broad-range curse-detecting spell on the room from the doorway. Once they’d found all the cursed objects and tested the room again, it came up clean, though the only way they would truly know if it was entirely gone would be if the next DADA professor lasted more than a year.
The final cleansing of the Hogwarts wards took all of the wardmasters and cursebreakers’ powers and knowledge combined, though the castle itself did seem to be aiding them the best it could. Once all was said and done, the wards were as strong as they had ever been. There was a separate team who was helping to cleanse the forest of any creature that shouldn’t be there. Hagrid had been distraught to learn that most of the Acromantula colony would be eradicated using magical means, as the full colony wouldn’t be conducive to a transfer to a protected island where their silk and venom would be able to harvested humanely by complex spells and house elves, but the giant spiders wouldn’t be able to harm any people with their presence. Cows and other large prey would be transported to the island to satisfy the spiders’ appetites.
While the cleansing of the wards and grounds were finishing up, Merlin and Copperblade were ready to trap the last of the Horcruxes in the soul orb and then cast it through the Veil. Once the ritual to ensnare the Horcrux was finished and the tiara melted by the Fiendfyre furnace just in case, Merlin made his way to the Ministry with Lucius at his side, though both were cloaked and hooded, with Merlin’s cloak imbued with the same voice and face masking spells as a proper Unspeakable’s was. No one stopped them on their way to the Department of Mysteries, as no one wanted to get in the way of one Unspeakable, let alone two.
It was laughably easy to get to the Veil Chamber with their burden. The orb was encased in a warded box just in case, and would remain within even while being sent through the Veil. Once they were in front of the Veil, Merlin took the box from Lucius and then tossed it into the archway, making sure to use his hands rather than levitating it with his wand just in case the prophecy was being literal rather than metaphorical. He wasn’t going to leave anything to chance when it came to Amaranth’s safety and future.
The Veil fluttered as if in a high wind once the box disappeared from view, and much to Lucius and Merlin’s surprise, a wispy black wraith appeared out of nowhere with a scream and all but dove through the Veil, as if in a vain attempt to retrieve the box. The two men exchanged startled looks before Lucius cautiously pushed back his left sleeve. His Dark Mark was gone entirely, wiped away when the last of Voldemort’s anchors were destroyed.
They immediately left to go check the Hall of Prophecies, Lucius speaking with the masked Keeper of the Hall to see if they could listen to a copy of the prophecy concerning Amaranth and the Dark Lord. The copy that the Keeper came back with was dull and dark, signifying that the prophecy in question had been fulfilled. Merlin took the copy, along with the identifying tag that went with it. He knew just who to show it to if needed. Dumbledore wouldn’t be able to claim that the Dark Lord was still a threat with that in hand.
Merlin did have to wonder if there were any other prophecies concerning Amaranth, be that in general or as the future ruler of Magical Britain and its territories. That would be something they could investigate later, perhaps when Amaranth was old enough to actually understand her situation and be able and willing to find out more. For now, they would raise her as if that was the only prophecy about her that mattered, letting her decide her own fate. It seemed appropriate given how much of her short life had been governed by Fate already.
Lucius and Merlin left the Ministry with much lightened hearts, Apparating away to Malfoy Manor and Potter Manor respectively. Lucius found Narcissa in her sitting room, Draco napping on a cot nearby as Narcissa was reading a book on ancient curses she had recently gotten via owl order. Lucius knelt down in front of her and gently plucked the book from her hands before taking them in his own.
“It’s done,” he reported, pressing soft kisses against her palms. “We retrieved the last object from Hogwarts and put it through the Veil.” He leaned back and pushed his sleeve back to show her the unmarked skin there. “The Mark is gone as well. It’s as if it was never there. I can’t feel the taint on my magic any more, though I suspect it’ll be some time before it was as it used to be.”
Narcissa leaned forward and cupped his face on either side with her hands before kissing him deeply. When she moved back, she was pleased to see that he had a faintly dazed look on his face. “We are free,” she said simply. “That calls for a celebration, don’t you think?”
Lucius grinned. “What kind of celebration did you have in mind?”
Narcissa merely smiled as she got up. “Call a house elf to watch over Draco and I’ll show you.”
Lucius laughed as he rose to his feet. He did as told, summoning a nursery elf to watch over Draco before Narcissa led him away to the bedroom. They had a private celebration of their own that day, joining the rest of what Sirius had once jokingly called Amaranth’s court advisers for dinner later at Longbottom Hall. They celebrated the final fall of Voldemort with a toast to all the hard work that had been done and the allies that had helped them, though as Merlin reminded them, the hardest work was still to come.
“Until Amaranth takes her rightful place on the throne, we will have our work cut out for us, and even after that, it won’t be easy,” he said as they all relaxed in the sitting room after dinner, the children all curled up in a playpen in one corner and fast asleep. “We may know that she is the rightful heir of Pendragon, but there will be those who will oppose her right to the throne and try to either claim her or it for themselves.”
“Then we’ll have to do our best to protect her against them,” Remus replied. “Her happiness– and therefore, all of ours –depends on it.”
“As does the future of Magical Britain and Avalon,” Merlin added. “Let us hope that we guide her down the right path.”
The others nodded. They’d been focused on the now for so long that they needed to look at what was to come. They settled in and started planning, talking long into the night about what the future might look like. What came of that night would eventually be part of what was called the Avalon Accords, a set of laws and codes that would serve to guide the British Wizarding world for centuries to come.