On Archive of Our Own
On Twisting the Hellmouth
XXIX: Conversations with Dead People
"I've always hated these conversations," said Death. "Usually I take souls on somewhere after people die, but you've made such a horrible mess of yourself that you won't be going anywhere."
Riddle stared up at her, trying to understand why he was only a few inches tall. "Then I have escaped you!"
"No, not really. Thing is, right now you only exist because my will is keeping your last soul fragment from disintegrating. If I forget it, even for a second... well, that's it. The end. Before that happens I want to check why you tried it, maybe there's some way to keep people from making that mistake."
"But I beat you... I came back from the dead!"
"Sorry, it really doesn't work that way. I've seen people try it before, it never works. Didn't you ever wonder why the world isn't full of immortal wizards?"
"They lacked the will to succeed."
"Nope. Plenty of will, just not enough life. Your lifespan is written in Destiny's book before you're born; sometimes it's extended by the philosopher's stone or something, but that's just part of what's in the book. Horcruxes are a really bad way to try to prolong your life, because they don't really change your lifespan. Splitting your soul splits your lifespan between the pieces, and all of the pieces go on aging, even if they're just sitting in a book or a goblet. It also annoys Destiny, and that's never a good idea. Yes, you can come back from the dead, but usually you'd be a lot better off if you'd never tried it. A lot prettier too. If Koschei and Rasputin couldn't make it work, I don't know why you would expect to succeed."
"Why would I bother lying? There's nobody here to hear me, apart from you." A pocket watch appeared in Death's hand, and she glanced at it. "Sorry, my next appointment is - damn!" Forgotten for a moment, the last embers of Voldemort's soul were already vanishing. "Oh well, he wasn't going to tell me anything new..."
As soon as Ron and Hermione were in bed in the infirmary, and Madam Pomfrey had dealt with Harry's wounds and checked him for curse damage, one of the prefects asked Harry and Diana to come to the Head's office.
"You're certain he's gone for good this time?" asked Pius Thicknesse.
"As sure as we can be," said Harry. "My patronus couldn't have pushed him out of his body like that if he'd still had anything anchoring him."
"That was very risky," said Minerva, "there are old reports that the patronus spell will turn on its caster if it's used to do harm. I can only guess that driving out an evil spirit wasn't interpreted that way. I wonder if it would have worked if you'd done that before the horcruxes were destroyed. Did you ever try?"
"Never occurred to me. But after Death took the soul fragment she smiled at us, so I'm pretty sure he's toast now."
"Death smiled at you?" Thicknesse asked incredulously. "How could you tell? Isn't Death a skeleton?"
"She probably could look like that if she wanted," said Constantine, "but usually she looks human. Slender, pale skin, wears an ankh and likes nice hats."
"Of course she looks different to other species," said Diana. "Ask a sphinx, she'll tell you that Death looks like another sphinx."
"I'll take your word for it," said Thicknesse. "Moving on, as soon as the area around the castle is secure we need to get word out that Voldemort is dead, round up the Death Eaters that didn't come to the castle, and identify their accomplices. It's going to be a horrible job, and I can't be the one to do it."
"Why not?" asked Harry.
"I would have never been Minister if I hadn't been imperiused, and I did some horrible things while they had me under control. I'll have to be charged and tried. I'll let them use veritaserum, hopefully that will suffice to clear my name, but there's no way I'll stay in office. Do any of you know how to contact the resistance groups? I need to find someone to take over who wasn't involved in the Death Eater government. Any suggestions?"
"I'm pretty sure I know someone with some contacts."
"Can you be more specific?"
"The Death Eaters were calling them terrorists, so unless you can guarantee they won't be charged I think I'd better keep it vague."
"Good point. Mister Weasley, draw up an unconditional pardon for Mister Potter, your brothers, yourself, Miss Granger, Princess Diana, and.." he sighed "...Mister Constantine. Leave space for another five names, will that be sufficient for your contacts?"
"Wait a minute," said Harry. "Why do we need pardons?"
"You and your friends were wanted criminals, and by your own admission you've raided private homes and government facilities, and been involved in several deaths and at least one major violation of the Statute of Secrecy. You'd probably be acquitted, given the circumstances, but a pardon will save all of us a lot of time and trouble. It should still be valid when the new Minister takes over. Mister Weasley was spying on the Ministry for the International Confederation of Wizards, and that's also illegal. The Weasley twins used alchemical weaponry, which is also an offense. Should I go on?"
"I get most of that, but how did we violate the Statute?"
"Malfoy Manor. From your account it's turned into a pile of gingerbread overnight, and that's going to be a little difficult to explain. I remember Malfoy complaining about Muggle aircraft coming too close, something about his son nearly being knocked off his broom by a helicopter, which means they're likely to notice if it's suddenly gone."
"Right. Umm... can you add Luna Lovegood to the pardon, please."
"If Madam Pomfrey will certify that she's clean of demonic influences."
"She is," said Diana. "As I said, the phoenix burned it out of her." Fawkes trilled in agreement.
"On Apollo's orders?" Thicknesse didn't seem to be entirely convinced.
"I think Fawkes would have done it without being asked, but the Gods were willing to help. They really dislike those who summon demons." Fawkes seemed to nod in agreement.
"Which brings me to my next concern, the demon that helped you. How was it summoned? And where is she now?"
"She wasn't summoned," said Harry. "She just turned up, said Lucifer had sent her to get rid of the dementors." He left out Constantine's part in it, worried that it might lead to more problems. "She went off again before we came inside, I think she said she was going to hunt down the last dementors. I don't know if she was planning to come back to Hogwarts afterwards."
"She and I have unfinished business," said Diana. "I think that she will return, if only to try her steel against mine."
"What sort of demon is she?" asked Percy. "Containable?"
"Don't even think about it," said Constantine. "She's Lilim, a child of Lilith, and commanded Lucifer's armies. Really not a good idea to get in her way."
"I think we'll let my successor worry about that one," said Thicknesse. "Is there anyone else we should be adding?"
Dumbledore's portrait said "Severus Snape."
"He murdered you!" said Harry.
"He followed my wishes. I was dying. He gave me a quick end, and killing me convinced Voldemort that he was loyal."
"He did seem to be trying to help, I suppose," said Harry. "We communicated through portraits after Dumbledore died so I never really spoke to him in the flesh after Dumbledore was killed, but he could have caused a lot of problems for us and didn't."
"He really was working against Voldemort," said Diana. "My lasso has the power to compel truth, and he was not lying about that."
"It's academic anyway," said Thicknesse, "the man's dead. But you might as well add him to the list."
"I'd rather that you didn't." They looked up to see Snape's ghost in the doorway. "Diana, your lasso compels truth, but I am an occlumens, and very good at lying by omission. I did horrible things as a Death Eater, took multiple lives and harmed dozens more. I think that even that old fool..." He gestured at Dumbledore's portrait "...would have turned from me if he'd known everything I've done, and you would have turned against me many years ago. In truth your debt to my family should have been marked paid long before I was born, had my grandparents been reasonable people, you amply repaid it working against Grindlewald. If Riddle had given me the respect I deserved I would have been his most devoted follower, and I did much that was unforgivable to try to earn his respect. I helped Potter to the extent I did because I hated Riddle as much as I hated Potter, but that does little to make up for the harm I've done. There should be no pardon - and I would prefer that there should be no portrait, I've done enough damage. Frame a photograph if you must have something."
"Agreed," said Minerva. "Are you planning to haunt the school?"
"I'll be out of here as soon as Death comes for me. She granted me a little extra time to see Riddle dead; I think that right now she's a little busy, but I'll probably be gone soon." He faded into nothingness.
"No pardon for Snape," said Thicknesse, "and make a note that my successors shouldn't change that. Moving on, we really need to round up the remaining Death Eaters then cancel the riot proclamation..."
"If the Dark Lord is dead why are we still trapped here?" asked Draco.
"Do you really want to be the first thing Potter thinks about after his victory?" asked Narcissa. "Unless there's something going on that you haven't been telling me about, I should think being low on his list is a really good idea. Of course I'll quite understand if you do have feelings for him, he's grown up to be moderately attractive..."
"I've noticed that you sometimes seem to be curiously obsessed with the boy," she added mischievously, "and provided the family continues to flourish I would have no objections. He's the Black heir after all. But there must be children! I'm sure that you can find a suitably pure-blooded surrogate to bear them."
"I can assure you, mother, there is nothing like that between me and Potter."
"Pity... it would have made things a lot easier for us. I wonder, do you think he'd be interested in seduction by an older woman?"
"After a suitable period of mourning, of course. I always did look good in black."
"How could you even think such a thing, mother?"
"We need to be practical. If I thought there was a snowball's chance in hell it would work I'd go for it like a shot. Unfortunately the little bastard's not likely to make life that easy for either of us..."
"You'd better be careful out there," said Hannah Abbott, helping Neville into one of the dragonhide robes the DA had found in the Room of Requirement. "You're taking me to Hogsmeade the first weekend, I don't want to end up visiting the infirmary instead."
"I am? Sorry, yes, sounds good to me. Any chance of a kiss for luck?"
Hannah embraced him. In an unnoticed corner of the room Desire mimed ticking an item off a list, and Dream made a note in the margin of a shoddy uncorrected proof copy of Harry Potter and the Half-God Prince.
After a few moments Professor Sprout said. "Mister Longbottom, Miss Abbott... Perhaps you two could continue that another time. We need to move fast. Are you ready, Hagrid?"
"I'm ready when yeh are, Professor. Don' forget tha' there's a skrewt runnin' loose out there, an' any number o' trolls."
"Not to mention the Death Eaters," said Fred Weasley, "there might still be a few that haven't been rounded up yet. And there's some sort of plant elemental, about troll sized, but I think it's on our side."
"That could be useful if it's willing to help us," said Sprout. "The centaurs and the warriors Mister Potter summoned should have things under control, but as Professor Moody used to say, 'Constant Vigilance'. I don't want any accidents."
"By the way," said George, "if anyone finds any bottles that are full of dense green smoke, for the love of Merlin don't open them!"
"Dare I ask?"
"Banshee in a Bottle. We never got a chance to set them off."
"Toddy!" A house elf in Hogwarts uniform appeared at her call. "Toddy, pop down to the second year greenhouse and get the big box of ear-muffs." The elf disappeared, and reappeared moments later levitating a large wooden chest. "Everyone, take at least two pairs each. They work for mandrakes, they ought to be all right for banshees. Keep a pair handy to put on, and hand out the spares to anyone we need to help. There are already staff and students out there helping to clear things up, and they might not be aware of the danger. Oh, and don't take them off to help someone else, you're no use to anyone if banshees drive you to insanity."
"Toddy will take more out to peoples and horsey peoples," said the house elf.
"Make sure you resize pairs for yourself, and any other elves out there. And no, I'm not giving you clothes, I'm telling you to use protective equipment."
"Toddy understands." He vanished with a faint 'pop'.
"Mister Filch, the doors please. When we're outside, everyone, remember not to try to apparate or use portkeys, you won't like the results."
Filch pulled the locking bar back from the great doors to allow them to open, then moved to his cannon, which was positioned to cover the entrance, and held up a smouldering taper, as Hagrid cocked his huge crossbow. "Ready when you are, professor."
"Keep your wands handy, and fire yellow sparks if you get separated and run into trouble. Alohamora!" The door swung open. Outside the causeway was harshly illuminated by rows of flaming torches, and still littered with scraps of armour and gobbets of flesh. Some crows took off as the doors opened, and a giant's eyeball the size of an orange fell from the claws of a raven, the last bird to leave. On the shore they could see some of the naked warriors dragging bodies into rows, while centaurs stood guard over the prisoners.
"No sign o' any more trouble," said Hagrid, leading the party out. "Now watch out fer each other, an' don' do anythin' stupid." Behind them Filch barred the doors again.
They made it to the shore without any incident. The castle wards were still up, but as a Head of House Sprout could open the ward around the end of the causeway, and let them through.
"Any sign of the willow?" asked Neville.
Hagrid looked around, his height giving him a better view, and pointed. "Daft bugger's headed fer the Quidditch pitch."
"That's no good," said Sprout, "There isn't nearly enough bone meal or dragon dung in the soil. We need to get it back to its usual bed."
"Might interfere with matches too," said Fred.
"Treat it as a natural hazard," said George, "it'd make games a lot more interesting. Isn't there a pitch in Fiji that gets over-run by fire crabs two or three times a year? And one in New Zealand with an active geyser? They've never let them stop a game."
"Could be fun."
"Enough of that," said Sprout, "I can see that one of the poor thing's roots is splintered from here, we've got to get it back to the right soil and re-planted right away. Once that's done we need to make sure that the outer greenhouses are secure, before half of Scotland gets eaten by fanged kudzu or something."
"I checked with omnioculars before we came out," said Hannah, "I think there are some cracked panes, couldn't see any actual breakages."
"Cracks are bad enough," said Neville, "Vampire violet seeds can drift miles on the slightest breeze, and they'd easily get out through any gap."
"We'd better get a move-on then," said Sprout.
One of the bearded warriors passed them, dragging a body, said something none of them understood, and offered Neville a sword, which seemed to be made from a long fang. Neville shook his head. "Thanks, but I'm not much good with swords. Anyone here know how to use one?"
"I've fenced a bit," said Hannah. She reached for the sword, and the warrior looked at her a little doubtfully then gave it to her. "Thanks!"
"Be careful," said Sprout, "I think that started out as a basilisk or dragon fang. Don't touch the point."
"Willow's not stoppin'," said Hagrid, "I think it's headed fer the shore by the lake now."
"That's not good," said Sprout, "the damaged roots will rot and the nutrients are all wrong."
"Best hurry up then."
Bellatrix Lestrange dragged herself from the water, her eyes swollen almost shut, her face covered in boils, and lay on the shore, concealed by bushes on one side and a boulder on the other. She searched her robe for her wand, weapons, and potions vials. There was no sign of her wand, but she still had her favourite daggers. The only potions were a half-empty tube of a general antidote and a small bezoar. Better than nothing. She took the potion first, hoping that it would work on whatever had been in the muck she'd swallowed, waited a couple of minutes, but couldn't feel much change. She reluctantly swallowed the bezoar, hoping that it wouldn't just neutralize the healing potion, and waited again. Soon she was breathing more easily, but still far from well. She looked around for the Dark Lord, but there was no sign of him. He must be in the castle, or preparing another attack.
She heard an odd rustling, thumping noise and lay low. A moment later something whipped overhead; a branch that looked like it was made of braided thick vines, as thick as an arm, thumping into the ground then lifting up and moving on. Her sight was still blurry, but she could see a tree with flailing branches, silhouetted against lights from the castle. When she was at school she'd seen the willow kill a stray goat, and had fantasized about luring some of her rivals into reach of its branches. Now she lay completely still, trying to do nothing that might attract its attention. It probed the ground with its branches, seeming to prod with some goal in mind, then the entire tree lurched off along the shore away from her.
"Come on, it's gettin' away!" Nobody could mistake that voice; the bestial half-blood Hagrid, still polluting the school after so many years.
"Keep up, everyone." A woman's voice, someone Bellatrix didn't recognize, probably one of the professors judging by the bossy tones. "Hagrid, if you can rope down the largest branches we ought to be able to handle it more easily. Fred and George, I want you to start petrifying anything that Hagrid can't tie down. Hannah and Neville, once we have it under control I need you to chop off the broken roots and slap some of the green ointment onto the wounds, it'll prevent infection and promote regeneration. Be careful, the roots aren't as fast as the branches but they can still give you a nasty kick." The voices and footsteps moved on.
Neville? The Longbottom brat? He'd be in his sixth or seventh year now. If it was him maybe it was time to finish him off, she'd missed the opportunity at the Ministry and there might never be a better chance. She waited for them to pass then cautiously got up and began to follow the increasing din as the enraged willow tried to fight off the half-giant. Soon she could see her target, trying to pin down one of the willow's roots with the flat side of a spade. Her sight still wasn't good to throw a knife, but if she could get just a little closer...
There was a "Gronk!" noise and she turned, startled, to see a fat toad sitting on one of the rocks. It belched again, and she stabbed at it with her knife, missing as it leaped to one side. The goblin silver blade slithered across the rock with a loud screech, and the toad disappeared into the shrubbery. She turned back to see Longbottom and a girl in Hufflepuff robes turn toward her, the girl drawing a white sword from the belt of her robe.
"It's ickle Neville," said Bellatrix, "and you've brought a friend for me to play with!"
"Still alive?" said Neville, "Never thought you'd be parted from Voldy that easily."
"Didn't you know? Harry killed him about an hour ago."
"You lie!" She rushed at Neville, knife in hand, dodged a thrust from the girl's sword - and tripped over the bucket Neville had thrown at her feet. She fell, twisting and intending to strike at Neville's legs with the poisoned blade, and only had time for a split-second of surprise as he thrust at her with the spade.
Bellatrix looked around, and realized that she was standing, her clothes suddenly dry and undamaged. The Longbottom boy was ignoring her, his attention on a body at his feet. He was saying something to the girl by his side, but their voices were faint and distorted, their meaning lost to her.
"Bitching outfit," said a woman's voice. "That corset really works well with the black skirt and boots and those laced sleeves. Think I might get something like that for myself."
Bellatrix turned to see a woman wearing stylish black robes, a shiny wide-brimmed witches hat with a long black plume in the band, and black dragon-hide boots. She was pale skinned and dark haired, and there was an ankh amulet on a cord around her neck, and an odd symbol, like an oval over an inverted question mark, drawn in kohl around one eye. Bellatrix instantly knew who she was facing. "Can I be with my Lord?"
"Sorry, no. He messed up his soul so badly that the pieces just.. well, fell apart. There's nothing left for you to be with."
Bellatrix stared at her. "Then what shall I do?"
Death embraced her, saying "Let's find out." There was a noise like the beating of wings.
Neville reeled back, the spade dripping blood, and Hanna pulled him away from the flailing tree root.
"Bloody hell," said George, petrifying the root, "where's her head gone?"
Neville vomited, and Hannah gave George a dirty look. "Over there," said Fred, "under the bushes."
"Are you all right?" asked Professor Sprout.
Neville wiped his mouth. "I think so. I... I thought I'd be glad to see her dead, but that was horrible. I didn't realise there was a sharpening spell on the spade..."
"It was self-defence," said Hannah. "Good thing too, I was way off balance with that sword, she could have disarmed me easily."
"You were bloody lucky," said George, "if she hadn't made that scraping noise she might have got close enough to stab both of you."
Professor Sprout conjured a canvas bag the size of a pillow case and kneeled by the bushes, using her dragon-hide gloves to manoeuvre Bellatrix's head into the bag. "What the..!" She pulled her hand back, holding a plump smooth-skinned toad.
"Trevor?" said Neville. The toad croaked at him, and he knelt to take it from the professor. "I thought I'd lost you!"
"Seriously?" said Hannah, "It's your old familiar?"
"Yes, see that scar there? that's where he got splashed in a potions lesson."
Professor Sprout put the bag with the head next to Bellatrix's body, conjured a sheet, and draped it over the body. "Back to work everyone, we've still got to get the willow replanted."
"How the hell are you on your feet after fighting bloody Voldemort," asked Hermione, "while Ron and I were just sneaking around and both of us are going to need at least a couple of days to recover?" She looked at the screens around Ron's bed, where Madame Pomfrey was still working on his injuries. "Not to mention everyone else who was hurt by the fires and explosions that got through the wards." Another dozen or so beds were also screened off, their occupants already treated.
"The nearest I can figure it out, Diana's family came through for me in a big way," said Harry. "Not to mention Diana deflected most of their spells before they got anywhere near me, so I was only fighting Riddle most of the time." He felt a sharp nip on his ear lobe. "And Fawkes helped too, of course," he added hastily. Fawkes cheeped happily.
"We'll have to do something nice for those gods. I know you're going to set up a scholarship fund, that'll please Athena, but maybe something like a feast for the ones that aren't into education?"
"And don't forget to give Fawkes some dirigible plums," Luna said tiredly from the next bed, "He likes grapes and marzipan too. But you should try him with different foods, Dumbledore probably didn't experiment much."
"Thanks!" said Harry. "I suppose Diana knows what the Gods might like."
"More worshipers, I'd imagine," said Hermione, "but I can't really see that one going down well in Britain. You can imagine what people would say if you say they've been helping you!"
"I don't want to think about it. Okay, I just want to warn you so that you don't caught by surprise; Thicknesse thinks he's going to be thrown out of office for letting himself get imperiused. We've done a few things that are maybe a little illegal, so he's going to officially pardon all of us before he goes; in fact I think he's probably done it by now."
"Pardon us? What for? For ending the Death Eater threat?"
"We broke a few laws doing it, Hermione. The raid on Malfoy Manor was pretty illegal, and leaving it as a pile of gingerbread was a Statute of Secrecy violation. Luna, you were possessed for a while, and while you didn't summon the demon there might be some awkward questions about the damage you did. There's a lot more. He thinks that if he signs off on it while he's still Minister it'll make it a lot harder for his successor to give us a hard time."
"Don't worry about it," said Luna. "The next Minister will be Shacklebolt, and he'll know better than to rock the boat."
"You can't be sure of that."
"Who else would they pick? You and Harry are too young, nobody likes Percy, and about half the Wizengamut is dead or facing charges as Death Eaters. With Malfoy gone that side's lost most of its funding. Meanwhile Shacklebolt's been leading a big chunk of the resistance movement, and everyone knows it that heard him on the wireless. We'll be okay."
"Did ...um... Del tell you that?" asked Hermione.
"Don't be silly, she doesn't care about that sort of thing. But daddy runs the only truly independent news source in magical Britain and I'll probably take over one day, do you think I don't keep an eye on politics? I'm strange, not stupid."
"Well, I'm happy to believe you," said Harry, "it makes a lot more sense than anything I ever read in the Prophet. Now then, have you two had something to eat?"
"Madame Pomfrey's got us full of potions," said Hermione, "I don't think I could eat anything right now."
"What about you, Luna?"
"I'd like something, but I'd better not. My chest and tummy need to heal a bit first."
"And you both need to get some sleep and I'm keeping you awake."
"You are," said Madame Pomfrey, coming out from Ron's bed. "But since you're here, I might as well tell all of you that Mister Weasley should make a full recovery, but he'll need a few days to mend, he has a serious skull fracture. I'm going to keep him in dreamless sleep until the bone fragments have finished fusing and his brain is back to normal, so don't expect to talk to him until Thursday afternoon at the earliest."
"Thanks," said Harry. "Right, I'd better go find Diana and make sure everything's okay."
"No need," said Diana, coming in with a heavy crate of potions bottles. "Madame Pomfrey, I flew to Hogsmeade and got these from the apothecary, I hope that there's everything you need. They're going to contact Saint Mungos and get some healers out here to help you. The centaurs are still sorting out the Death Eaters that need medical treatment, the centaur healers can take care of a lot of it but you can expect some serious cases soon. Filius and Minerva are converting a couple of classrooms into secure wards."
"Better put the bottles in the dispensary," said Pomfrey, "would you mind?"
"Not at all." Diana followed her to one of the rooms off the main ward, while Harry said good night to Luna and Hermione and went to wait outside. After a couple of minutes Diana joined him.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Weird. It's like... well, like everyone's expected me to do this all my life, and now it's done I'm not sure what to do next. What I'm supposed to do with the rest of my life."
"I really can't help on that one, I'm afraid. What about getting a good night's sleep? It might be a start."
"You're probably right. What about you, has someone sorted out a room for you?"
"They have, but I don't really need much sleep. I'd prefer to be outside, helping with the clean-up. Then if Mazikeen returns we can settle our differences without endangering anyone in the castle."
"Does it have to come to that? After what Snape said?"
"It might. I'll have to see what she says."
"She won't be sorry about it," said Harry, "but did she actually know who he was when she killed him, or did she just think of him as a Death Eater? Considering that they were trying to kill you both?"
"There may be some merit in that. We'll see how it goes."
"Okay. Right, I'm going to head to my dorm..."
Harry looked round, and saw Neville and Hannah, hand in hand, walking up the stairs towards the hospital wing. "How are you both? Is everyone okay?"
"It's been weird," said Neville, "especially what just happened. We went out to re-plant the Whomping Willow, and bloody Bellatrix LeStrange came out of nowhere and tried to stab me!"
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, I think so. It was all a bit sudden, and sort of accidental and... well, I killed her."
"You killed her? The bitch that killed Sirius?"
"And tortured my parents, yes. I swung at her with my spade, and it turned out there was a sharpening spell on it."
"Neville... I think I'm supposed to make a long speech about how the Black family owes you a life debt. Let's just say that anything I can ever do for you, anything you ever need, you've got it."
"Um... okay. Really wasn't thinking about that, considering you just took down bloody Voldemort. I've got your back too."
"Me too," said Hannah, "but right now we need to get Neville in to see Pomfrey, it was all a hell of a shock and he might need a calming potion."
"I didn't tell you the best bit," said Neville, reaching inside his cloak. "When Professor Sprout was covering the body she found Trevor!" He held out the toad, which gronked at Harry.
"Your toad's name is Trevor?" said Diana.
"Yes, miss.. um..?"
"Princess Diana of Themiscyra."
"Yes, your Highness."
"May I hold him for a moment? I mean him no harm."
"Be careful," said Neville, handing her the toad, "he's pretty slippery."
Diana held the toad in cupped hands, and looked at him as he looked at her. "Your toad is more than he seems."
"He's my familiar, but he was lost for a while. Maybe you're feeling that."
"No. I think..." She lifted Trevor to her lips and kissed him. Trevor began to glow bright blue and rapidly grew, his form changing as Diana carefully put him on the floor, until a handsome man in his thirties was standing there, dressed in wizarding robes over blue jeans and a leather jacket.
"Great Merlin!" said Hannah. Harry and Neville just stared.
"Where the hell am I?" said the stranger. "Who are you people?"
Diana's lasso flashed out around him, and she said "Remember! Tell me who you are!"
"Auror Trevor Stevens, MACUSA. Let go of me, lady."
"Trevor Stevens? One of my family's little jokes, I suppose. Do you remember me?"
"Never seen you in my life."
She pulled him towards her, and kissed him again. After a moment he began to return the kiss. Eventually they moved apart again, and the lasso slithered back to her waist as she said "Now do you remember me?"
The title of this chapter comes from Buffy Season 7 episode 7.
Koschei the Undying is a 12th-century Russian legend, a wizard who hid his soul inside multiple objects, and could only be killed when all of the defences had been beaten. He's mentioned in Convergence - The Hunt, issue 38 of The Sandman. Grigori Rasputin was a late 19th-early 20th century Russian mystic who became very influential in the Russian court and survived one assassination and nearly escaped from another before being killed by a group of his enemies. He appears as an undead wizard with similar powers to Koschei in issues of the Hellboy comic.
Draco's helicopter incident is canon, though either invented or wildly exaggerated by him. See Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, chapter 9.
Hagrid's dialogue is again courtesy of the Hagridizer.
I don't think fanged kudzu and vampire violets are canon, but it would be cool if they were.
MACUSA is the American magical community.
Probably one more chapter and an epilogue to come.
I think this is the longest chapter so far, many apologies that it's taken me so long to update. Comments please before I post to archives!
Revised slightly - Sunday evening.
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