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Don't Make Me Angry -

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Correcting Past Mistakes". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Things have gone very, very wrong for the Wizarding World and the Golden Trio and several of their friends are determined to make those responsible pay.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Multiple Pairings
Harry Potter > Multiple Pairings > Alternate Universe
GreywizardFR18552,9131013158,25416 Sep 077 Mar 09Yes

5

Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to J. K. Rowling and Joss Whedon. Sabrina Spellman belongs to ABC Family and Warner Bros. Television. I'm just borrowing all of the characters for a while. Any other characters that might show up that you might recognize don't belong to me either, but to their respective owners. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine.

Author’s note 1: Thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author’s Note 2: “word” is normal speech, { word } is character thoughts, and :: word :: is mental communication.

~~~

A higher plane of existence

August 12, 1995


The Ascended being named Orlin honestly didn’t know why he was doing this. He supposed there had to be a reason for it, but in the name of the Collective, at the moment he really didn’t have the first clue what it was.

There was currently a strong feeling of anticipation amongst the Ancients, Orlin knew that much. A feeling that things would significantly change soon within the lower planes of existence. What the outcast didn’t know was why that feeling, for him, was associated with three people he’d felt compelled to continually inspect and examine ever since last month.

The first was a human male, an archaeologist of some sort. Brilliant, certainly, but consumed by his work. Not to mention that, if Orlin was any judge of such matters, his girlfriend would be dumping him soon for forgetting about their anniversary dinner the previous evening, simply because he got caught up examining a pair of ancient Egyptian tablets.

The second was a brunette, a female teenager in southern California. Beautiful and desirable amongst her own kind, yes, but also somewhat spoiled and terribly sharp-tongued when she didn’t need to be.

And finally, a being wearing a distinctive mottled golden-brown encounter suit as he oversaw the efforts of his people to seed the natives of Earth with telepathic genes for an upcoming war against their mortal enemies.

“It must be very annoying for you, mustn’t it? Knowing that there’s a reason why these people fascinate you so, yet being unable to understand what it is. I know that it would eventually drive *me* nuts,” a voice suddenly said in Orlin's mind.

The Ascended being quickly focused on the new arrival within his domain. “Do I know you?”

“The name’s Janus,” the Lord of Chaos said with a hearty laugh. “And yes, you do know me. Or you will know me from now on, anyway. That’s the thing about perceiving the past and the future at the same time, you know. Often makes it rather hard to keep track of such things properly.”

Orlin recognized the type of being before him. It was a class of creature not unlike the Ascended which the humans had worshipped as gods, thousands of years ago. Then he focused and said, “What exactly do you mean by that?”

“You and I are timeless, my new/old friend. And yet, we too are subject to the whims of Time,” Janus said cryptically. “Those who interest you will, in time, become our colleagues. Or at least, they *would* have in the future I envisioned up until last month.”

Orlin somehow knew without being told that the somewhat vague ‘last month’ reference coincided exactly to the moment he had felt the need to keep an eye on Daniel Jackson, Cordelia Chase and Kosh the Vorlon. “What future is this you speak of?”

“One that these children seek to prevent from ever coming to pass,” Janus showed Orlin a mental image of five members of the Wizarding World that had arrived back into their past bodies to fix what would have gone terribly, terribly wrong, not all that long from now.

“Who are they, exactly?”

“They are the future – and the past,” Janus smirked mysteriously, recalling/foreseeing the conversation he would have/had taken part in with his fellow higher beings just before all five of them united as one to do what had to be done. “Now take my advice, and keep watch on the one I consider almost to be my avatar. Because special things are in store for him, you mark my words about that.”

~~~

County of York
North Yorkshire, England
A small village near Potter Manor

August 13, 1995
Early morning


"Hey, Wills, how's it going?"

"Xander? Ohmigod! Ohmigod, it's you! It's really you!" Willow's high-pitched squeal of delight could have been clearly heard by anyone within a fifteen foot radius had they been present, Xander ruefully reflected to himself as he reflexively yanked the phone's receiver away from his ear.

"Where are you and how have you been and is everything okay or are you calling because you're in trouble somewhere and you need to have someone come and get you or did you maybe get hurt and you're stuck in a hospital and can't get released because you can't pay your hospital bills 'cause if you did don't worry I'll talk to my parents and we'll come and get you it just might take us some time to get there but you have to tell us where you are and what's the matter with you so we can get whatever rehabilitation equipment you might need so it'll be ready here for you when we finally get you safely back home here –"

Whatever else the babbling, clearly hyper young woman intended to say was lost in an semi-inarticulate screech of protest as Xander heard a second voice, this one obviously male, break into the one-sided conversation.

"Hey Xan-man, what's the what?"

"Hey, Jess, how're things back there? I never really did get an answer from the Willster," Xander grinned as he visualized the struggle he could hear occurring at the other end of the call, thanks to his now hyper-acute senses. He could also easily hear all of the questions that Willow was ordering Jesse to ask regarding his current location and what he'd been doing since he'd unexpectedly left town while she and Jesse were both absent.

"Oh, you know, everything's pretty much the same here as it always is," his childhood friend replied casually, and Xander had no problem at all visualizing the shrug that would normally accompany virtually any of his as-near-as-could-be-a-sibling's comments regarding their hometown.

"So, how long 'til you get back into town, man?" he heard Jesse asking. "School's gonna be starting in just a couple weeks and we haven't gotten anywhere near all of the stuff we were planning to do, done, dude," Jesse reminded him.

"Ah, yeah, that's part of the reason why I'm calling you, pal," Xander replied, feeling some reluctance now that he was actually speaking to his friends about his future plans.

"You see, I'm not going to be coming back to Sunnydale," he stated, only to be interrupted by a very loud and clearly dismayed "WHAT?!" erupting from the earpiece, forcing him to pull the phone away from his ear again, lest he suffer serious damage to his hearing.

He could hear sounds of a brief scuffle and Willow's plaintive shout then issued from the phone in his hand, "Xander Harris!! What do you mean, you're not coming home? WHERE ARE YOU?"

"I can’t tell you where I am, exactly. Well, it's not that I can't, Will – it’s more a case of I won’t. At least, not for a while," Xander immediately qualified his previous statement as he mentally pictured the distraught features of his best female friend that would match her clearly despondent words.

"You see, after I left town, I met up with some people from England who were visiting the States, and some things happened that I can't really talk about over the phone right now, but the upshot of it all is that I've now got the opportunity to attend this *very* exclusive private school over here in England, with all of my expenses paid, and that's something I just can't pass up," Xander hurried his explanation, trying not to imagine the disconsolate and hurt expressions his friends would be wearing upon hearing his admittedly brief and not at all informative excuse for his ongoing absence from their lives.

"But I promise, I'll do my best to come home during Christmas break and once I'm there, I'll explain everything that's been going on to you," he then promised, trying to alleviate at least some of the pain he knew his absence would generate for his friends.

“A private school in England? Where is it exactly? And what’s it called?” Willow demanded over the phone.

“It’s called Hogwarts, Will," Xander exhaled. “And it’s actually in Scotland, but honestly, I can’t tell you anything more about it. There’s this big thing they have about privacy, ya see.”

The remainder of the phone call consisted mostly of him reassuring both Jesse's and Willow's concerns of his safety and alleviating Willow's near-frantic suspicions/ convictions that he had been kidnapped by people with malevolent educational intentions who were forcing him to make the call prior to his disappearing forever.

Xander was both relieved and somewhat distressed when he finally managed to hang up the phone.

He missed the camaraderie and companionship of his now-again-alive childhood friends, but at the same time, the necessity of the actions he was taking in order to ensure that they would remain safe from any potential dangers the darker aspects of the world they lived in might pose required that he absent himself from their companionship for at least the immediate future.

As Xander turned away from the phone to head back to Potter Manor, he noticed the bumper sticker on a passing Mini Cooper that preached, "Life Sucks – Then You Die."

{ If only things really were that simple, } he thought with a sigh before apparating back to his new home.

~~~

Potter Manor
County of York
North Yorkshire, England

August 13, 1995
10:15 A.M.


"Hey, Gin, how're you doing?"

"Oh, pretty well, I suppose, Harry," Ginny Weasley smiled at the rightly famous Boy Who Lived as she stepped out of the floo and into the main parlor.

"Oh, Merlin! What have you done to yourself?" she asked as she stared in wide-eyed wonder after catching a good look at his new physique.

"You look like Professor Lockhart probably wished he'd looked!" she noted with a small chuckle to herself.

"Oh, I had to take some potion treatments over the past week to correct some problems that stemmed from growing up with the Dursleys," Harry replied. "I'll tell you more about later though, okay?"

"Okay," Ginny nodded. "And I really appreciate your inviting me over here, Harry," she added.

"I've never seen Potter Manor before, and Mum was saying at breakfast this morning about how beautiful it is."

"No problem there, Gin. I've been looking forward to seeing you here for some time now," Harry told her as he gestured indicating that she should precede him into the next room.

"Really?" Ginny smiled, her eyebrows lifting as she looked at him with renewed interest. "I'm glad to hear that, Harry. You seemed to not want to talk to any of us after everything that happened at the end of the Tournament and the school year. Everyone was worried that you were holding yourself responsible for Cedric's death when that wasn't true.

"Hey, Ron. Hi, Hermione," Ginny broke off her commentary to Harry when she glimpsed Hermione, Ron, Sabrina and Xander sitting around the periphery of the room.

"Merlin's Beard! Did you and Hermione take the same potion treatments Harry was just telling me about?" Ginny asked when she got a better look at the other two-thirds of the so-called 'Golden Trio'.

"Oh, hi there," she greeted Sabrina and Xander as she turned to look at Harry. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to be rude. Mum told me you had invited some new friends over to the manor, Harry," she noted parenthetically.

"I'm Ginny Weasley, Ron's sister," she introduced herself as she smiled charmingly at Sabrina and Xander.

"No, you're not," Ron growled as he and Hermione suddenly snapped their wands up and aimed them at her, to the youngest Weasley's surprise.

"Expelliarmus!" he barked at the same time Hermione intoned, "Stupefy!" and the young woman abruptly dropped to the floor, senseless.

***

That which appeared to be Ginny Weasley awoke to find herself surrounded by a circle of unsmiling and hostile faces.

When she tried to move, to get back to her feet, she discovered her wrists were fettered by what looked to be a set of manacles forged from cold iron and inscribed with a series of runes.

"What's going on, guys?" Ginny asked, a worried and frightened expression overlaying her normally lovely features as she glanced around at the grim-faced group surrounding her.

"What're you doing this for? Did I do something wrong to get you all mad at me?" she asked, her eyes clearly showing the fear their actions were engendering in her.

"You can cut the act, Tom," Harry growled as he stared at the redhead with unconcealed hatred and loathing. "Everyone here knows who you really are."

"Tom? What are you talking about, Harry?" Ginny's voice quavered as she cowered under the hostile gazes focused on her. "I'm not V-V-Voldemort; I'm Ginny. You know that – you're the one who destroyed that diary of his back in my first year at school, remember?"

"Yeah, I remember destroying the diary," Harry nodded his agreement as he scowled at the petite redhead. "I stabbed it with the basilisk's fang, and we all figured that the horcrux fragment had dissipated when Tommy-Boy's image disappeared after the diary was destroyed.

"But I don't recall anyone ever saying that Madame Pomfrey or the old fart had actually checked to make sure that the soul fragment really was gone," he then added, and everyone present noted the slight narrowing of Ginny's eyebrows into a frown at Harry's comment. "From you, anyway."

"That – that's ridiculous," Ginny immediately protested. "Of course, it was destroyed. I can tell you that it's completely gone. I'd know if it were still here inside me!"

"That's a load of old bullocks, Tommy," Ron interjected angrily. "We know you're the one controlling my sister's body. You had a strong enough hold on her back then that when Harry destroyed the diary, you managed to hang on and hide yourself inside her mind, and over the past two years, you've managed to take control of her body away from her completely."

"That's insane, Ron," Ginny gasped as she stared in disbelief at the massive redhead glowering at her. "I'm me!! You guys know that!"

"No, you're really not," Harry repeated Ron's earlier declaration. "*You* are a just a fragment of a diseased and malicious soul that belongs to an arrogant little wanker named Tom Riddle, and the real Ginny Weasley has been imprisoned in her own body ever since I thought I rescued her from you two years ago.

"And before you try to deny what we know has happened or try to argue anymore, I want you to understand that we know all about your little plan for creating horcruxes as a way to become immortal," he went on. "We know you murdered Myrtle Henderson in the second floor girls' loo so you could create the diary horcrux, and we're not going to let you go on with your plan to take control of the Wizarding World.

"We have enough problems to deal with as it is. We're not going to let some idiot wizard with delusions of grandeur get a chance to screw things up even worse than they are now."

Hearing Harry's declaration of their detailed knowledge about Riddle's plans, the redhead's entire manner abruptly changed, and she sneered at her captors as she finally dropped the act and struggled to her feet.

"And just how are you going to stop me, Potter?" the Riddle soul fragment laughed mockingly at the five adolescents surrounding the body he'd stolen. "The first thing I did after I took control from that idiot girl was to make sure I'm so intertwined with this body that there's no way I can be exorcised from it. The only way you can get rid of me now is to kill me.

"And if you do that, you'll kill poor Ginny Weasley, too," she informed her listeners with a triumphant smile.

"Yes, we already know that," Hermione nodded their acknowledgement as she answered Riddle. Behind the brunette, Xander was opening a burnished silver suitcase he had pulled from its storage location in one of the cabinets lining the far wall of the den, together with two wooden cases that measured about nine inches on each side.

"Petrificus Totalus," Hermione intoned as she pointed her wand at the defiant younger woman, and Riddle felt his stolen body become as rigid as a statue. Harry and Hermione then carefully grasped the now immobile redhead and laid her flat on the floor.

"Sorry about this, Gin-Gin," Ron said, using his family's pet name for his little sister as he accepted a pair of large silver discs with handles from the dark-haired youth. Long, coiled black wires attached to the handles connected the discs to a metal panel that filled one half of the suitcase and which was revealed when the case was opened.

"But if we don't stop this bloody bastard now, then he and his followers will go on to kill the rest of the family and hundreds of thousands of other people as well," he said as he dropped to his knees alongside her body.

Off to the side, Xander and Sabrina had opened the two wooden boxes and were carefully removing small crystal spheres about six inches in diameter from each case.

"I love you, Gin-Gin," Ron said softly as he pressed the two discs against her chest. "Clear!"

An instant later, Riddle felt searing pain shoot through his chest and his spell-immobilized body shook minutely. A second shock surged through him, and then a third, and a fragmentary memory of the time that he'd accidentally touched an exposed electrical wire at the orphanage he'd grown up in flashed through his evil mind before everything went black.

***

"Okay, get ready, Bree. Here they come," Xander warned as he kept a careful watch on the body that had belonged to Ron's baby sister and which had been stolen by a soul fragment split from the bastard who'd been mostly responsible for the deaths of nearly everyone he'd ever cared for in his previous life.

Their spell-enhanced vision allowed each of them to see both ethereal mists that had begun streaming from the now-lifeless body at their feet and the two time-displaced warriors immediately began chanting in an ancient Etruscan dialect, their words echoing hollowly through the room as they each focused on one of the clouds and firmly proclaimed their commands.

// Spirit of the interregnum, hear me and harken to my words! \\

// Spirit of the dead, hear me and follow my command! Not dead, nor of the living, I compel thee to take up your abode in yon crystal sphere and bide there quietly 'til instructed otherwise! \\

// By my command, so shall it be! So shall it be! Now! Now! \\

The cloud of mist closest to Sabrina, a bright silver-white in color, instantly reversed its direction and began flowing into the crystal nearest to the blonde witch, while the second cloud, a mottled dark grey hue more reminiscent of mold or decay, hovered in place, as though it were resisting his command.

Focusing his not-inconsiderable will and channeling more of his power into the spell, Xander repeated his previous directions.

// Spirit of the dead, hear me and follow my command! Not dead, nor of the living, I compel thee to take up your abode in yon crystal sphere and bide there quietly 'til instructed otherwise! \\

// By my command, so shall it be! So shall it be! Now! Now! \\

The blotchy grey mist finally obeyed his command and started streaming into the crystal globe before him and, unlike the bright and shimmering light issuing from the crystal in front of Sabrina, instead seemed to radiate a malignity of spirit that made its identification quite simple.

***

As Sabrina and Xander accomplished their tasks, Harry quickly moved to stand over Ginny's lifeless form and he gathered his power, casting a variation of the bewitched sleep spell which Dumbledore had used on Hermione and Ron during the Second Task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament in their previous life, to ensure that her body would not begin decomposing with the cessation of her life functions and would remain in its current state.

***

Hermione, meanwhile, seeing that Xander and Sabrina had completed their tasks, now began casing her own series of spells, the two now-glowing crystals her two teammates had produced being the focus of her spells.

A few additional moments' work produced an even more luminescent glow around the crystal Sabrina had overseen, while the one Xander had overseen seemed to radiate a malevolent aura that made differentiating between the two objects child's play.

"Okay, guys, this one here is most definitely Tommy-Boy," Xander stated with a casual wave of his hand at the second of the two crystals. "There's absolutely no question about that, even without Hermes' spells to identify who's who. Just looking at that thing gives me the willies," he declared, frowning at the globe that now held the fragment Riddle had broken off his soul over five decades previously.

"Okay, so now that we know for sure which one of these things is which, let's finish things up, okay?" Ron suggested. "I don’t want to waste any more time making things right; Ginny's lost enough time as it is."

With a murmur of agreement, the five champions carefully moved the more luminous crystal into the center of a small ritual circle that had been drawn on the floor on a section of the floor a short distance away from their present positions, and then eased themselves into lotus positions at equidistant locations around the periphery of the circle.

Reaching out to grasp the hands of the person on either side, all five concentrated their attention on their recently acquired Legilimency skills and focused on sensing and reaching out to each other, much as one of them had once done to merge with his friends to battle against a demonic cyborg and as the other four had done prior to their final battle against Riddle.

Once they had achieved the desired communion, the arcane gestalt took a fraction of an instant to ensure that it possessed a consensus among its various aspects on the actions it was about to attempt.

:: Everyone still agrees with what we're gonna try to do, right? :: the Harry-aspect asked.

The responses to his question were nigh-instantaneous.

:: Yeah, mate, :: the Ron-aspect immediately agreed. :: I have to at least try this if I'm ever gonna be able to look myself in the mirror again. ::

:: Of course, :: the Hermione-facet of the Joining asserted. :: It wasn't Ginny's fault Riddle took over her body. She wasn't even twelve years old when he made his first attempt to enslave her that way. ::

:: The poor kid's a victim, not a villain, :: the Sabrina component agreed with the sentiments the others had already expressed. :: Even if she decides not to take the opportunity we're offering, she needs to at least know it's there. ::

:: Ginny's part of the family, guys, no matter how you look at it. She deserves a chance to have the life that ass-wipe stole from her, :: the Xander-facet declared firmly.

Agreement reached, the Joining focused its combined power and turned its attention towards the glowing orb sitting at the center of the circle they had formed, sending out a mental tendril of thought.

:: Gin? Ginny? :: the gestalt called out, seeking the essence of the sole female Weasley.

:: Ron? Harry? Hermione? Who is that? :: they 'heard' a frightened 'voice' answering them.

:: Who or what are you? :: Ginny then demanded as she sensed a powerful presence nearby.

:: I suppose you could call us Ragnarok, :: the Hermione-aspect somewhat musingly answered the young girl's clearly panicky question.

After all, in Norse mythology, Ragnarok marked the end of the old world and the beginning of the new, current world, and that was what they clearly intended to do, wasn't it? Ensure that the nightmare world that Riddle had created would now never come into existence, regardless of what they had to do in order to accomplish that.

:: It's us, Gin, :: the Ron-aspect of the merger elaborated in an effort to reassure their/his sister as to their identity. :: Me, Harry and Hermione, and our new friends, Sabrina and Xander. We were looking for you, to make sure you're okay, :: he told her.

:: OKAY? I'm not okay, Ron! I'm dead! You should know that – you were the one who killed me, remember? :: was the angry, tearful response they received to their inquiry.

:: Yeah, we all know that, Gin-Gin, :: the gestalt accepted the young woman's accusation with a degree of equanimity most people would find surprising, then answered her allegation with an equally surprising follow-up. :: We're sorry that we had to do that, but it was something that had to done if we wanted to prevent Tommy-Boy from destroying the world. Sometimes, you have to do bad things if you want to prevent even worse things from happening later on. ::

:: And now, we're trying to correct the bad thing we had to do, as best we can, :: they continued their explanation to the shocked and puzzled young woman's soul before she could say anything further.

:: You do want to come back, don't you? :: Ragnarok asked her flatly. :: Because you don't have to, if you don't want to. ::

:: We're not trying to force you to do anything, :: the fusion reassured her. :: The final decision is yours, and yours alone. We just want to make sure that you know that we'll do everything we can to help you come back, *if* you want to. ::

:: Just tell us what you want to do. ::

:: I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO WORRY THAT TOM RIDDLE IS EVER GOING TO COME BACK AND TAKE MY BODY AWAY AGAIN!!! :: came the fervent response.

:: I WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE THE WAY *I* WANT TO LIVE IT!! ::

:: I JUST WANT MY LIFE BACK! ::

:: Okay, then, :: Ragnarok answered. :: We're going to do our best to do just that, Ginny, but we’re not gonna lie to you – we're not completely sure that we're powerful enough to actually restore your soul to your body. What we're gonna do is try to provide a pathway from the Orb of Thessula that your soul is in right now, back to your body. What you have to do is, follow the pathway and then grab as tight a hold as you can when you sense your body again and not let go, okay? ::

:: Okay. Just tell me when we're gonna start, guys, :: Ginny instantly agreed.

:: We're gonna start right now, :: Ragnarok replied. :: No sense in wasting any more time, right? ::

All of the preceding conversations had required only a bare fraction of an instant to complete, and each aspect of the gestalt immediately turned their attention to their pre-assigned task.

Ron and Sabrina knelt down beside the young redhead's still body and immediately initiated emergency CPR procedures while Hermione dispelled the stasis spell that Harry had cast a moment earlier.

Harry and Xander, in the meantime, focused on uniting their efforts in establishing the pathway back to her body that Ragnarok had mentioned to Ginny, the two of them being considered as the two group members best suited for this particular task – Xander, for his having the greatest familiarity with the re-ensouling ritual that Willow Rosenberg had felt compelled to use twice in the previous timeline, and Harry, for being the one with the most experience in mental battles as a result of his having fought Riddle numerous times in the previous timeline.

Xander, a bit more familiar with the easiest ways of dealing with the non-physical world from his experiences with the Scoobies, immediately began mentally envisioning an ethereal track from the Orb in front of him to the lifeless body lying on the floor next to him and willing it to become visible to the young woman's soul currently ensconced within the Orb. Envisioning a large door that looked exactly like those found throughout Hogwarts School forming in the side of a crystal sphere, he focused his will on picturing Ginny seeing it and walking over to the door, opening it and stepping through it and then walking down the glowing path to her body that he'd already imagined.

For his part, Harry concentrated on picturing the young woman he'd come to regard as a younger sibling standing inside the Chamber of Secrets, her ethereal form alongside a young Tom Riddle as he'd looked when Harry had first confronted him, an ethereal cord linking him to the redhead's unconscious body. Once he'd established that image, he then pictured Riddle's form rapidly fading away to nothingness, leaving behind a void which he pictured Ginny stepping towards, filling it and immediately beginning to acquire an increasingly greater solidity as she again took possession of her body.

:: Come on, Ginny, :: Harry threw his thought outward as he focused on his inner-vision. :: Help us out here a little, okay? ::

***

For her part, Ginny was staring around in puzzlement and some confusion as she examined the luminescent walls surrounding her and wondered how she could leave her current confines and begin searching for her body as the mental construct that had identified itself as being partially composed of her brother and two friends had urged her to do.

A moment later, though, a section of the luminescence off to her left began to dim and reshape itself into what appeared to be a large wooden door, and she hurried over to it and quickly pulled on it before it could possibly disappear and leave her stuck here, wherever that might be.

Behind the door was a faintly glowing pathway through the surrounding darkness which curved away in a gentle arc to a second, equally luminous area which looked as though it were occupied by several people.

Hurrying down the trail, Ginny found herself again present in the Chamber of Secrets, and her eyes widened with surprise as she saw Tom Riddle standing over her unconscious body.

As a combination of fear and anger shot through her at the sight of the wizard who'd stolen her body, she noticed that his image was beginning to fade as though he were dissipating and, as she seemed to hear Harry's voice in her mind asking for her help, she moved forward, reaching out as fiercely as she could to seize hold of her stolen body and willing herself back into control of it.

With a sensation that could best be described as though she were slipping her hand into a glove, Ginny flowed into her body, her soul once again merging itself with the muscles, bone and tissue which formed her corporeal presence.

Her initial sense of elation at regaining her body, however, was almost immediately offset by one of panic as she attempted to move, but was unable to do so. Her attempts to take in a deep breath in order to scream for help accomplished nothing, and she had only the most minimal awareness of anything that might be happening around her.

She thought she could dimly make out her brother and a woman (who wasn't Hermione) speaking, and she felt some sort of pressure on her chest and other pressure around her mouth, and she was trying to call out to Ron and Harry and Hermione to tell them that she needed their help – that she couldn’t move or even feel much of anything – when suddenly burning shock surged through her chest and she felt her entire body spasm and flail around mindlessly, the way she'd seen hapless Death Eaters do in some of Tom's memories when he had used the 'Crucio' curse upon them.

And then a second shock surged through her body, but this time, after she felt her chest convulsing, she also felt her lungs reflexively dragging in haggard gasps of air, and she could Ron yelling exultantly, "Okay, that did it, guys! She's breathing on her own now!" and she realized that she *was* breathing, and that she could feel her heart pumping and all of those other wonderful sensations that everyone just normally took for granted when their body was working properly.

And then, as Ginny was giving thanks to whatever supernatural force was responsible for her escape from Tom Riddle’s evil clutches and her return to her own body, everything suddenly went black.

~~~

Granger Household
Surrey, England

August 13, 1995
Late afternoon


"I have to say that everything you've just told us is – incredibly disturbing, honey," Cassiopeia Granger declared from her position on the couch next to Hermione's father, Miles, as they stared at the two adolescents sitting opposite them.

Hermione and Harry had just finished giving them, as they had the Weasleys the previous night, a brief summary of the history that they had experienced in the future that they were now never going to allow to occur, as well as an explanation of the current socioeconomic and political state of the Wizarding World, and their plans for dealing with the existing situation.

"And as much as we'd both like to say that it's ridiculous and unbelievable," Miles said, continuing his wife's thoughts after a quick glance over at her, "when it's added to all of the other things we've been learning about Wizarding World culture over the past few years and the changes that it's obvious the two of you have made in your relationship, we realize that we really don't have any choice but to believe what you've been telling us."

"And that ring on your finger looks to be more than just a subtle hint that you two are a lot more serious about each other than you've seemed to be in the past," Cassiopeia smiled.

"Oh Merlin, that's such a relief to hear you say that, Mum!" Hermione gave a heartfelt sigh of relief at hearing her mother's words. "I was worried that we were going to have to spend hours arguing with you to make you understand how serious things are getting now.

"And yes, Harry and I are quite serious about each other," she added with a beaming smile that seemed to light up the room.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that, pumpkin," Miles smiled warmly at his child before turning to look directly at Harry.

"I’m not going to have to give you the shovel speech, am I, Harry?" he asked, his question producing a surprised and outraged gasp from Hermione. Harry reached over without glancing at her and took his fiancée's hand in a reassuring grasp to calm her down as he answered the question.

"No, sir, that won't be necessary at all," Harry shook his head negatively as he held the older man's unblinking stare. "Your daughter is the other half of my soul, sir, and I promise you, I'll utterly destroy anyone who even thinks of hurting her."

"An excellent answer, son," Miles' face broke into a wide smile upon hearing his response.

"I think he’ll do just fine, honey," the man noted as he then turned to look at his baby girl, his smile turning into a pleased grin when he saw the simultaneously outraged and yet pleased expression gracing her lovely features as a result of his question to Harry.

"Hey, now don’t frown at me like that, Princess," he chided her. "You should have heard what your Grandfather Stewart said to me when we told your grandparents we were planning on getting married."

"So, what, if anything, is it that you two need us to do to help you work things out the way you've planned?" Cassiopeia asked, shaking her head as she looked to change the subject as quickly as possible.

"Well, one of the first things that we want to do is to reinforce the wards you currently have on your home, ma'am," Harry immediately answered, evidently looking for a shift in the topic of conversation, too. "As well as add some other, newer ones we've been working on to make things here as safe as we can manage."

"We also want to charm your wedding rings to act as portkeys to move you to Potter Manor in case of an emergency, mum," Hermione noted as she called up the list of various things the group had decided needed to be done to maximize the safety of their various loved ones.

The next several hours were spent outlining, discussing in greater depth and then implementing the various contingency plans the group had developed during their planning sessions.

It was after the two of them had finished laying the new wards they'd developed in their previous lives to deal properly with Death Eaters that Harry brought up the subject that they'd neglected to mention in their earlier discussions.

"Uh, excuse me, Mr. Granger, Mrs. Granger, but there's one more subject that I think we should discuss with the two of you," he said, as he and Hermione sat across the dinner table from her parents, drinking some iced tea. "It's something that we think would definitely help increase your chances of surviving a Death Eater attack.

"Actually, it would almost certainly increase your chances of surviving any sort of attack, whether it be by wizarding people or muggles," he corrected himself.

"You see, Hermione's being such a powerful witch would indicate that, since you're her parents, both of you almost certainly possess some degree of magical power yourselves," he went on, "and if that‘s correct, then that means that there are several magical rituals you could most likely perform or participate in that would enhance your magical capabilities, which would definitely increase your chances of surviving whatever might be coming up in the course of the next few months."

"Harry and I, along with several of our friends, have undergone several of these rituals since we returned, Mum, Daddy," Hermione chimed in then, "because we feel that they're the best way to help ensure that we can accomplish what we're looking to do."

"Which is to destroy this maniac, Riddle, you told us about, right?" Miles stated as he looked at the two seeming adolescents. "And keep that idiot, Flagg, out of the Secretary Generalship?"

"Yes, Daddy, that's right," Hermione nodded. "Because if we don't do that now, then the world is going to be a very, VERY bad place to live in, less than a decade from now."

"Okay then, sweetie," Cassiopeia said. "Why don't you tell us exactly what kind of rituals we're talking about, then?"

~~~

Potter Manor
County of York
North Yorkshire, England

August 13, 1995
Later that same afternoon


"Ron, I told you I'm feeling fine now. So for Merlin's sake, just back off, will you!?"

The annoyed look in his sister's eyes was all too familiar to Ron, bringing to mind any number of memories of a younger-looking version of the redhead bestowing upon him the exact same glare he was currently receiving.

Associated memories reminding him of how she'd then later led him to believe that short voyages to hell would be far preferable to remaining in proximity to her suggested that doing as she'd just instructed was the best method of dealing with the situation, so he quickly backed away, holding up his hands in a semi-defensive gesture.

"Okay, Gin-Gin, just relax, okay? I was just trying to make sure that you're all right," he half-explained/half-protested.

"You know, Mum would skin me alive if she thought I let anyone or anything hurt you, and Dad would be passing her her favorite kitchen knife," he reminded her of their parents' somewhat overdeveloped concern for their only daughter.

"Yeah, I know," the petite redhead sighed as she reluctantly nodded her agreement. "Merlin! You'd think that, after seeing me growing up with six brothers, they'd realize I don't have to be coddled like a baby!"

"Well, I think that you'd better expect that both your mother and father are going to go a little crazy over you once they hear the full story about the horcrux, Ginny," Sabrina stated from her position on the couch next to Ron. "I think the odds are that they’re going to be feeling excessively guilty over the fact that they didn't notice that Tommy had slowly taken control over you.

"I also think that your father is going to be feeling especially guilty, considering that he's probably going to be blaming himself for not noticing that Malfoy had dropped Riddle's diary among your other school books back in your first year," she observed analytically.

"But then that's something that you're going to have to work out with your parents, and it's really not something that we can do anything about," she noted, giving Ginny a sympathetic look.

"What the five of us can do, however," she continued after a moment's pause, "is help you get prepared for the war that's coming, and to make sure that you're one of the survivors standing around afterward, and talking about how bad everything was.

"That is, we can do that if you want to be one of the people on the front lines fighting Tom and his butt-lickers," she said. "’Cause you don't have to be, you know. You've suffered enough as it is, what with Tom having stolen your body –"

"You just let me know what I have to do," Ginny interrupted the blonde before she could say anything more.

"Whatever it takes, whatever I have to do, I'm going to make that bastard pay for what he did to me!

"Just tell me what I have to do!"

~~~

Potter Manor
County of York
North Yorkshire, England

August 23, 1995


"Merlin’s bloody Beard! That's it! I'm never agreeing to going shopping with any woman, *ever* again! Especially when they know that they have an unlimited account to charge all their purchases against!"

Harry gave a loud and exhausted groan of agreement with Ron's rather vehement outburst as he dropped wearily onto one of the den's couches, ignoring Xander grinning tolerantly at the two's somewhat whining grumbles of aggravation while the women oversaw Dobby and Winky's careful storage of their latest purchases.

"Man, you guys are a pair of wimps!" Alexander Potter declared condescendingly, shaking his head as though in pity at his siblings' frailty.

"I used to get dragged along as the designated pack horse when Buffy went shopping in L.A., and you guys haven't seen anything that's even come close to comparing to a pissed-off former Valley Girl who's got her father's credit card and who's decided to see how long it'll take for her to max it out!" he said as he gave his brothers a somewhat patronizing grin.

"And those times when Joyce and Dawn decided to go with her – Joyce was Buffy's mother and Dawn was her little sister," he noted by way of explanation, "even the snootiest and most condescending salesclerks either ran away screaming in terror or hid under their counters until they were gone.

"And neither Buffy nor Dawn ever came anywhere *near* close to Cordy's attitude once she got going on a good snark!" he noted reflectively.

"One time I actually saw Cordy reduce this particularly arrogant salesgirl to tears when she started acting like we were beneath her notice and shouldn't have even entered the store," he said, his grin shifting to an even wider smile as memories of happier times in his former life passed through his mind. Hopefully, that particular brunette would now live a long, happy and wealthy life if her father had even half the working brain cells which Xander thought he did.

"Anyway," he said, reluctantly pulling his focus back to the present, "I'm just saying, you guys got off lucky today – we didn’t spend more than a total of eight hours shopping, and that included stopping by Ollivander's to get new wands for Bree, Ginny and me. Oh, yeah, and a memo to everyone – we gotta remember to remove the underage tracking charm off them," Xander noted as an aside before going on to continue blowing Harry's and Ron's minds with his tales of some of the travails in his previous life.

"Why, I can remember Buffy spending six hours just looking for shoes at the mall and then walking away empty-handed, since she couldn't find exactly what she wanted," he lamented, his recollections producing wide-eyed looks of shock and horror on both of his brothers' faces.

"And if you want to think of something really terrifying, then consider how long we would have spent at Madam Malkin's or that Twilfit and Tatting's place if we had had to go shopping for dragonhide vests and leggings to wear under our clothes, instead of just being able to use the ones we found in the vaults," he added as he tried to point out how much worse their day could have been.

"We had to spend four hours in there as it was," he reminded the other two Potter males, "and that was just letting the girls pick out new school robes and the basic school stuff for us.

"Can you imagine how much longer it would have taken if the school had another Christmas ball scheduled like the one you had last year, and the girls wanted to pick out 'appropriate' robes for you guys, so that they'd match the ones they'd want to wear?" he asked with a grin, relishing the disturbed expressions his words had generated on his brothers' faces.

"Yeah, you're right, Xand," Harry agreed after a moment's consideration. "We did get off easy."

"Yeah, what he said," Ron concurred also.

"Merlin! I knew you'd told us you'd lived through some tough times, mate, but I never actually realized just how bad you'd had things," he commiserated.

"Six hours, and she didn't buy *anything*? You're a tougher man than I am, no doubt about it. I would have gone bloody barmy by then, for sure!"

The guys' discussions of Xander's war stories about shopping was interrupted by the girls' return to remind them that they had to finish the various modifications to their equipment if they wanted to accomplish everything they had scheduled before beginning the school term.

"Okay, then. You, Hermes and Bree should work on finishing up the glamour spells on the armor, Harry, you and Ginny work on the wands and wrist holsters we got this afternoon, Ron, and I'll finish up the spellwork on the pistols and rifles," Xander said, allocating the divisions of the remaining work to be done.

He took a moment to watch Harry, Hermione and Sabrina focus on completing the various enchantments they were layering on each of the dragonhide armor suits they had retrieved from the five family vaults while Ron and Ginny began their tasks of breaking the Ministry-mandated anti-tampering charms on the Auror grade chameleon charmed wrist holsters they had purchased earlier that day, customizing each individual holster to each member of the group's magical signature and then further modifying each holster to expand the wizarding space inside so as to permit them to hold three dozen shrunken obsidian blades within it – blades could be launched instead of the wand the holster would typically hold.

After a moment, Xander produced his own fourteen inch oak with a dragon heartstring core wand and began concentrating on his own task of finishing up the enchantments on each of the pistols (a compact 9mm Glock Model 19 for each of the girls (including Ginny), a 9mm Glock Model 17L for both Harry and himself, and a .44 caliber Desert Eagle for Ron, with a second one for himself as a spare), as well as the submachine guns his family members had selected for their personal use. Once he was done here, each of the individual components would be unbreakable, any sound produced when firing would be completely suppressed and each of the clips they would be carrying would transfigure the surrounding air into the specific type of ammunition desired.

The H&K-21E, on the other hand, had no muffling – they all wanted anybody coming up against it to hear God's own thunder passing out judgment to the damned.

And once he had completed those tasks, he would then finish things up by adding shrinking and summoning charms to each pistol, making their personal weapons innocuous and easy for each of them to store on their person.

This time around, Xander Harris was going to make sure that none of his friends would ever be rendered helpless by a bunch of arrogant mouth-breathers who were moronic enough to follow a sociopathic egomaniac with the emotional maturity of a five year old child. The fact that any Death Eater unfortunate enough to see either him or one of his family draw their modern weapons (Firearms had been around for less than six hundred years, which made them ultra-modern in the Wizarding World) wouldn't live long enough to realize their mistake put a smile on his face.

Okay, he admitted to himself in a moment of honesty, the smile almost certainly wouldn't reassure anyone seeing it that he was completely sane, but hey, that was something he could live with.

And since the whole point of what they were doing here was to make sure that the people he cared about would remain safe and healthy and alive, then that justified everything they were doing and everything they planned to do.

It was good to know that logic was on their side.

~~~

The Drunken Dragon Inn
Sturmsagen
Kõrgessaare Municipality
Hiiu County
Estonia

August 27, 1995


Alexi Jugson was settled comfortably in the far corner of the bar, quaffing from a large mug of the local ale and regaling a group of potential recruits with tales of the fun he and several others of the Dark Lord's loyal followers had enjoyed during their last terror raid through a small wizarding community in Wales, when his alcohol-inspired oratory was disrupted by the entrance of a group of old men and women who came clumping in though the inn's main door.

The leader, a wizened old coot who looked as though he had to be nearly as old as Merlin himself, slammed the door open hard enough that it bounced against the wall, the noise interrupting Jugson's enthusiastic description of the looks of terror on the faces of two mudblood children that his group had spooked into running away from their home.

The looks on the old man's face and those of his equally aged companions as they glanced around the interior of the inn could have soured a keg of beer, Jugson decided as he threw all six of the intruders a glance that should have stopped them as dead in their tracks as the mudbloods he and his fellow Death Eaters had amused themselves with the previous evening.

Unfortunately, however, none of the newcomers seemed to have enough remaining wits in their decrepit old heads to realize how much trouble they were in, as was shown by the old man's words that were clearly directed specifically at Jugson.

"Only the lowest form of coward takes enjoyment from terrorizing children," he declared in a surprisingly strong voice.

"Of course, that is a perfect description of the sort of scum who would follow a depraved and clearly insane idiot who was stupid enough to name himself Volde-moron, my dear," one of the old women stated loudly, her statement drawing enraged gasps and looks of indignation and disbelief from the majority of the bar's patrons.

"I'll be damned! I didn't think that these idiots here were actually smart enough to realize that you just insulted the Dork Lard, mate," a third voice declared, the man's effrontery stunning most of the patrons present.

After all, the Drunken Dragon was known far and wide as one the favorite hangouts for the Dark Lord's followers. Anyone foolish enough to make any sort of derogatory remark about their Lord here would be fortunate, indeed, if they survived the ensuing punishment their words had earned them.

The furious and outraged reactions the Inn's patrons had begun in response to the intruders' words was abruptly interrupted as the six newcomers, who had positioned themselves across the back wall of the pub, unexpectedly began throwing curses at anyone and everyone present.

Body-bind's, banishing charms, bone-breakers, diffindo's, confringo's and deprimo's flew through the air like raindrops in a summer storm, demolishing both the Inn and its clientele, while those few fortunate enough not to have been hit yet frantically sought shelter from the unexpected assault.

"Now you have the smallest idea of what a terror raid feels like," the leader announced a moment later, satisfaction evident in his voice as he surveyed the desolation surrounding them, once he and his companions had completed their casting.

The majority of the pub's interior had been reduced to little better than kindling, with blood liberally splattered across the debris and moans and screams just beginning to provide a pain-filled chorus to the preceding minute's rather chaotic actions.

"What's the matter? You don't like it when you're on the receiving end of the type of fun Death Eaters enjoy?" one of the other old men taunted as the six of them looked around for any indications of a potential reprisal.

"I guess it's only fun if it’s done to helpless people who can't fight back," he added, the contempt in his voice obvious to all.

"You're all cowards, as well as complete incompetents," one of the other old women announced, her eyes indicating approval as she surveyed the havoc the six of them had created.

Behind her, as she spoke, one of the men could be seen engraving something into one of the few undamaged walls of the pub.

"You should all keep this night in mind in the future when you talk about what Voldemort and his minions are doing," the woman announced. "If you approve of this type of action, then maybe we'll be back to give you more of it to enjoy!"

And with those words, the six of them backed out of the Drunken Dragon and then disappeared into the night.

Miraculously, the survivors discovered, there had been no fatalities, though over a dozen of the patrons present would be incapacitated for periods of time ranging from several days to several weeks as a result of the injuries they'd sustained during the assault.

And once the attack's survivors were certain that the six terrorists had gone and wouldn't be returning, one morbidly curious soul made their way over to the wall to see what one of their assailants had burned into it. The Death Eater was amazed and terrified to find a depiction of a foot crushing a skull with a snake as a tongue (clearly symbolizing the Dark Mark) burned into one of the walls as their signature.

~~~

The above scene was re-enacted, with essentially similar results, in nine additional locations throughout Europe over the course of the next four and a half hours, although the descriptions of the groups that tore through the assorted Death Eater and fanatical pureblood watering holes varied considerably.

Several groups similar in appearance to the one which had attacked the Drunken Dragon had been reported as attacking other fanatical pureblood establishments, with four locations describing their attackers as resembling members of cloistered medieval religious orders, complete with staves, while the shocked and terrified victims of two other attacks had reported that their assailants appeared to be muggles dressed in white enameled armor somewhat resembling several of the older religious military orders that had, at one time, hunted down any sort of magical people or creatures they had come across.

Although, the frightened survivors of the last two groups noted, their attackers had disdained swords or other recognizable weapons and instead had favored artifacts resembling the muskets or 'gonz' reputedly used by muggle soldiers. These 'gonz', however, had produced seemingly endless streams of some sort of projectiles that had not only shredded those wizards unfortunate enough to have been hit, but had devastated the buildings housing them as well.

In addition to wizards being attacked, a pack of werewolves in Bulgaria, who were usually led by Fenrir Greyback, one of Voldemort’s most vicious supporters, had been completely wiped out except for the youngest member of the pack, who had been told he was being spared so that there would be a witness to testify as to what happened.

What was worse, at least as far as any of the lycanthropes who later heard the story were concerned, was that the attackers then decapitated and skinned all of the bodies and hung the heads and pelts on the walls of the local wizards’ bar as a warning to other magical sentients against allying with Voldemort. The group's symbol burned into the wall was of a hand holding a pistol stuck into the mouth of the Dark Mark's skull, with the back of the skull blown apart.

Regardless of who the targets might be, in every case the assailants had denounced both the Dark Lord Voldemort and his followers as craven and cowardly for their attacks on both muggles and the typically unprepared populace, and warned that any future depredations against the defenseless would produce even more painful consequences for those involved and any sympathizers unfortunate enough to be in their vicinity when the promised retribution occurred.

All in all, as news about both the attackers and their warning message spread across the Wizarding World, it was generally agreed that the new war of terror was growing and expanding in some *very* unexpected directions.

~~~

Potter Manor
County of York
North Yorkshire, England

August 27, 1995


"Are you all right, Gin? It seems like you’re looking a little peaked," Hermione noted as the somewhat exhausted group reappeared back in the secure portal chamber in the manor's basement. Even when you were using portkeys, a series of blitzkrieg-style raids like they'd just finished took a lot out of you.

"I'm okay, Hermione," the younger girl reassured her friend, even as she took a couple of deep breaths, as though to relax or calm herself down.

"It's just – everything we did seemed a lot more intense than I thought it would," she tried to explain the confusion she was currently feeling regarding the rampage they'd just made through most of the racist segments of the pureblood European Wizarding World, noting in passing that everyone had stopped what they had been doing and were paying rapt attention to her.

"Even after seeing all of the memories of all of the horrible things Tom did when he was still alive, back when he was controlling my body, our actually doing everything we just did seemed like –" she paused as she searched for the words that would best express her feelings.

"I'm not sure exactly how to put it, but I'm feeling all keyed up because of the adrenaline rush you warned me about, and part of me is kinda thrilled and glad about what we just did because those people are the kind of people who support everything Tom stands for and all of the horrible things that he wants to do to helpless people, but another part of me is feeling kind of sick because we seriously hurt some of those people, and we might even have killed some of them, I guess," Ginny seemed to be half-babbling as she sought to explain herself.

"You're worried that you might be starting to become as bad as Tom was, aren't you?" Harry said quietly as he walked over and pulled the petite redhead into a hug. "Because even though you feel bad about what we did – attacking those people without any sort of warning – you don’t feel nearly as bad as you think you should be feeling, right?"

Ginny nodded her head in agreement and her whole body suddenly began shaking as she broke into near-silent tears, prompting Hermione, Ron and Sabrina to gather around her to reassure her.

Xander watched his family as they consoled the younger girl, a new, only recently rescued member of their admittedly eclectic family and her slight form and brilliant red hair reminded him, oh so strongly, of another member of his family – one who, at the present time and for the immediate future, he needed to ignore, together with another brother he held close in his heart.

And as he stared at them, his final memory of Willow and her freely offered self-sacrifice, as well as the memories of Buffy's and Dawn's bloody, broken bodies lying scattered among the other callously murdered tourists that littered the Piazza Di Spagna and the memory of a blankly-staring Giles whose heart had finally given out as he had helped evacuate a half-dozen injured Slayers and Watchers during a raid by a UN Special Operations Task Force, all arose unbidden in his mind, and his fists unconsciously clenched as he fought down the almost immeasurable sense of loss that threatened to overwhelm him for a moment.

{ Get a hold of yourself, damn it, } Xander chided himself as he consciously forced tightly-strung muscles to relax. { They're all alive now, and they're gonna stay that way this time around. }

{ That's why you came back, remember? To make sure that things work out the right way, this time around. }

Unbidden, a quote by General George S. Patton, Jr. floated through his mind and he smiled at its appropriateness in describing their current situation.

{ "May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't." }

{ Good ol' Georgie, } Xander smirked to himself. { He might have been a complete bastard like some people say he was, but he was *my* kind of bastard. }

His smile only grew wider as he considered the opportunities for fun awaiting them all once the school year began four days hence.

Dumbledore.

Snape.

Even that self-important waste of protoplasm Malfoy and his moronic sidekicks would probably provide them at least a few chances for amusement before they died, he decided.

But driving Severus Snape nuts was going to be the real cherry on the cake here, no doubt about it.

"That’s an exceedingly evil-looking smile you’re sporting, Xand," he heard Bree declare as she addressed him, Ginny apparently having finally accepted the rest of his family's reassurances that she was neither evil or some kind of psychotic nutjob for not feeling any excessive degree of remorse about what they'd done to those Death Eaters and their fellow assholes earlier that night.

"And given what I know about how your mind works, I'm not sure I want to know what might have caused it," she added with her own teasing grin.

"Oh, I was just thinking about how Dark, Greasy and Broody is going to be in for some serious surprises once classes begin," Xander answered as he returned her grin with one of his own, "and how, the moment he steps out of line, the hammer's going to come down on him and squash him like the cockroach he is, regardless of what the old fart might try to do to save him.

"He's gonna find out the hard way that letting his Tommy Boy brand him like a steer all those years ago just means that he's definitely headed for the slaughterhouse."

"Something that I'm looking forward to seeing is Dumbledore's reaction when he finds out that, since Harry, Ron and Xand are now legal adults and that you and I are engaged to these two misfits, Bree, we can leave the school property pretty much anytime we want, if we're not in class, regardless of whether he likes it or not," Hermione chimed in cheerfully.

"Him not being able to control us the way he's been able to do the past four years is probably going to give him an ulcer," she noted.

"Acts, chapter 20, verse 35. ‘Tis more blessed to give than to receive,'" Xander pointed out piously, with an expression of innocence that fooled no one present.

"Especially when it involves heart attacks, strokes or bleeding ulcers," he then finished his observation with an even wider grin than he had been wearing previously.

"I have to admit," Ron chimed in with his own observation, "this is probably the first year I've ever been really looking forward to starting school and I haven't been focused on how the House Quidditch team is going to be doing."

"Yeah. I have to admit, I'm looking forward to this year, too, guys," Harry nodded his own agreement.

"If we can get everything we need to do done right, then by this time next year, Tommy-Boy will be just an unpleasant memory that'll eventually fade away 'til no one even remembers him," he said, a grim, yet hopeful expression on his face.

"Tom Riddle may have started this war, and Dumbledore might be planning on using it for his own purposes, but I am damn well certain that *we* are going to end it," he stated with an unwavering conviction, as his family nodded their heads in agreement with his words.

"The only people who are going to be dying in the future are the fools who try to stop us."

FIN

The End

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