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Did you all like my little cliffhanger? I know I did.

This fic is almost done; only one more chapter left. It's been fun. There is also a lot of talking in this chapter.

I don't own Harry Potter.
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Harry and Hermione turned to see who had spoken. Standing behind them was a woman in her thirties, wearing an elegant black dress, like one might have worn to a ball in ages past. Her long ebony hair was tied back in an elegant knot. Her smooth alabaster skin along with her pale blue eyes came together to give her a haunting appearance.

“Who are you?” Harry asked, holding up his wand at her. The woman's gaze briefly shifted to his wand and smiled understandingly.

“I understand your suspicions, Mister Potter, but I assure you, I mean you no harm,” she said, smiling softly. Harry's wand drifted downwards slightly, but was still aimed at her. “Perhaps it would be better if we sat down,” the woman continued before turning to Darknight. “Emmanuel, if you could be so kind as to draw some seats for us?” Darknight visibly cringed at the name she had addressed him with, but drew his wand and waved it, conjuring four comfortable chairs for them to sit in. As they settled into their seats, the woman once again turned her attention to Harry. “As for who I am, Mister Potter, I have been called many things throughout the centuries; but the most enduring title that I possess is that of the vampire Matriarch.” Both Harry and Hermione stared at the Matriarch in shock, while Darknight watched with a vacant, almost bored expression.

“Madam, maybe it would be better if you started from the beginning,” Darknight suggested to the Matriarch.

“Of course, thank you, Emmanuel,” the Matriarch replied, either oblivious or disregarding Darknight's apparent discomfort. “I also request that you do not interrupt me,” she said to Harry and Hermione. When the two young vampires nodded, she began speaking. “We vampires were also involved in the first war against Tom Riddle as well, although very few know it, if any,” she explained, turning to Harry and Hermione. “We cared not for the state of the wizarding world; they had created the monster that was Lord Voldemort, and we felt that it was there responsibility to destroy him.” Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but the Matriarch held up her hand to silence the younger vampire. “Nevertheless, we recognized that if he were to obtain control over the people, it would only be a matter of time before Riddle would turn his gaze towards so-called `sub-humans' such as us, so we spied on his followers, foiling their plans when we could. It was during one of these incidents when one of my spies stumbled across a certain prophecy,” she said, turning her gaze towards Harry, who shifted uncomfortably. “However, unlike the Death Eater scum who attempted to eavesdrop on the telling, my spy was more skilled in stealth, and was able to learn the entire contents of the prophecy.

“I knew the significance of this legitimate prophecy, so I sent two spies to watch over your family, as well as the family of the Longbottom family. Of course, that became impossible once they had fallen under the cloak of the Fidelius charm, so they had to abandon their missions. Later, when I learned that the Potter family had fallen, and Riddle had been vanquished, I investigated the site personally.

“I had arrived before your half-giant friend, so I did not fear being discovered. I saw you lying in the rubble, miraculously unscathed, save for your scar,” she said, her gaze briefly flickering towards Harry's forehead before she continued. “I covered you with a blanket and tried to comfort you as much as I could, but you knew something had happened, something wrong. While there, I also saw something that concerned me. Tell me, do either of you know what an oracle is?” Harry turned to Hermione in confusion, who answered the Matriarch's question.

“An oracle is a kind of seer; they supposedly can see someone's future future just by touching them,” she recited, as if from a textbook, a look of disdain on her face at the idea of divination. “They were supposed to be very rare.”

“Indeed, they were, and once upon a time, I was one such seer,” the Matriarch said. “But unlike most practitioners of divination, who believe that they can see a set order of events through the interpretation of blurry images and incoherent mumbling, I see the future for what it really is: an infinite number of possibilities in a constant state of flux, their very existence hinging on individual choices. When I looked into young Mister Potter's future, I saw many things, most of them boding ill for him. In many of the lifetimes I had witnessed for him, he had fallen to Riddle's wand. In many more, I saw them both fall in a draw. Only in a scant few did I see Mister Potter emerge victorious, but nearly all of them had left deep scars in the hearts of the people, and many people close to him had fallen in the process.”

“It still doesn't explain why you ordered my turning,” Harry interjected, tapping his fingers impatiently.

“I felt that it was the best course of action,” the Matriarch responded calmly. “It would have ended the war the fastest, which was something that we both desired. The sparing of many of your friends from death was simply a consequence of your swift vanquishing of Riddle. Believe me, it was not a decision that I made lightly, but I felt it was for the best.” At this, Harry shot up from his seat, his fists clenched in anger.

“`For the best?'” he repeated incredulously. “How could turning me into this be for the best?!” he demanded, gesturing to himself.

“Perhaps I should amend myself,” the Matriarch said calmly, although the sharpness in her eyes spoke of her own rising impatience. “I meant what was best for my people, which whether you desire it or not includes both you and Miss Granger now. As I have stated before, I had no desire to defend the wizarding world; it was through their fault that Lord Voldemort was born, and it was their responsibility to defeat him, a task that they have failed at. However, I also knew what it meant for my people should Riddle succeed, so I had to plan to intervene. So tell me, Mister Potter, would you have performed any differently were you in my position?” she demanded. Harry opened his mouth to reply, but no sound came out when he realized that he had no response, so he closed his mouth and sat down.

“You could have taken a more active role in the war, helped us fight the Death Eaters,” Hermione suggested. “The war could have been over overnight if you had, and there would have been peace.” Darknight snorted in amusement at that statement.

“If I may take this one, my lady?” Darknight asked politely. The Matriarch bowed her head in affirmation, and Darknight turned to Harry and Hermione. “If we did that, that would have opened a whole new can of worms that we didn't want to open. True, if we had taken a more active role in the war, there would have been peace...for about two minutes. Then the ministry would simply turn around and declare war on us.”

“That's not true!” Hermione shouted indignantly. “We wouldn't betray our allies like that!”

“Is it?” Darknight asked rhetorically, raising an eyebrow at Hermione. “The ministry, and the people in general fear that which they perceive as dangerous. The purebloods would never admit this out loud, but they discriminate against Muggleborns because they realize that the so-called `Mudbloods' will be the future of the wizarding world, an inconceivable concept for them. Werewolves are only dangerous for a few days out of the month, but as your friend Lupin can tell you, they're only a bit above house elves in social status in the wizarding world. Now tell me, how do you think they would react to vampires, so-called `monsters' that are dangerous at any time?” Before either of the younger vampires could respond, Darknight continued. “They would have hunted us and put us down like wild dogs. Kind of like the situation you would find yourself in should you ever show your faces in the wizarding world again, come to think of it,” he continued, scratching his chin in realization.

“But the war is over now; maybe we can make things so that you can have a place in society,” Hermione continued. Darknight turned to the Matriarch and shrugged slightly.

“An admirable offer, Miss Granger,” the Matriarch said. “However, it will be a long and difficult journey before that can be accomplished. If you do manage to bring a more fair age for us to the wizarding world, then I commend you, but it will not matter to me if you cannot. Our society has lived separate from the wizarding world for this long, and I imagine that it will continue to last for many years to come. Are there any more questions you wish to ask me?”

“Yeah, if you can see the future, how come you didn't see yourself becoming a vampire?” Hermione asked curiously. The Matriarch smiled sadly at her.

“Alas, the nature of my gift is that I require contact with a person in order to see their future. Because of that, I am incapable of witnessing my own. If I could, then I would not have made the decision I had made, and I would have joined my lover in time,” the elder vampire said. With a sigh, she stood up from her chair. “If you will excuse me, I believe it is time that I take my leave from here. Have a good night, Mister Potter, Miss Granger,” she continued, bowing her head to Harry and Hermione before dissolving into a cloud of bats and disappearing into the night. With a sigh and a grunt of effort, Darknight pulled himself up out of his own chair.

“Well, I have to wake up early tomorrow, so I'm going to call it a night,” he groaned, stretching his arms out. “But before I leave, I've got to say something: even if you think that because of your immortality you're going to lose everything you've ever loved, allow me to remind you of something: you still have each other. You have a bond that not many people have. Maybe you'll stay friends, maybe you'll be more, I don't know; I can't see the future. But I do know that you have each other, and that's a lot more than most of us can say.” As he twisted himself to begin an Apparation, Hermione cleared her throat.

“If your real name is Emmanuel,” Hermione asked, Darknight's eye twitching in annoyance, “why do you go by `Darknight?'” As Darknight recalled the reason, he chuckled lightly to himself.

“I was a Muggleborn boy born in the 1940's, and my idol was another man who spent a lot of time around bats,” he responded cryptically before Disapparating, leaving Harry and Hermione sitting alone in Riddle Manor. Hermione reached over and placed her hand on Harry's shoulder.

“Are you okay, Harry?” she asked him with concern. Harry nodded numbly.

“Yeah, I'm fine, it's just a lot to take in. I need a couple of days to think,” he muttered softly. Hermione stood up and held out a hand to Harry.

“We should go; Remus and Tonks are probably going spare over us,” she said. Harry took her hand and pulled himself to his feet.

“Probably,” he agreed, and they both Apparated back to 12 Grimmauld Place, where they were assaulted by a werewolf and a pregnant metamorphagus, both exclaiming how worried they were about them.

“Remus, Tonks, we're fine,” Harry grunted in discomfort as Remus continued to crush him. “Voldemort's dead now. We'll tell you all the juicy details...tomorrow,” he said, yawning loudly. “Fighting dark lords really takes it out of you, good day,” he said as the young vampires walked upstairs.

“I'm holding you to that, young man,” Remus shouted up the stairs, although he couldn't help but smile widely. The reign of terror was finally over.

As Harry escorted Hermione to her bedroom, she turned to him, a look of determination on her face.

“Harry, I know that technically we're boyfriend and girlfriend, even though it was during a time of war, so we couldn't really do anything,” Hermione began, biting her lip nervously. “But one day, we're going to talk about whether what we have is actually real, or whether it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, before yawning again. “But not tonight, I'm beat.” Smiling briefly, he bent down to kiss her cheek goodnight. Hermione turned her head at the last moment and their lips accidentally brushed together. They lingered together for a moment before they realized their position and broke the kiss, avoiding each other's gaze awkwardly. “Umm...good night,” Harry said quickly.

“`Night,” Hermione mumbled as they went their separate ways. Harry shook his head, wondering what had just happened. He looked down at his watch, which read nearly three in the morning. I'll worry about it tomorrow, he thought to himself; it's to early for thinking.

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As Dolores Umbridge was preparing to end another day of exerting her superiority over the Mudbloods plaguing the country, her door opened and a pale man dressed in black robes walked in without knocking, parchment in one hand and his other hand behind his back.

“Can I help you?” Umbridge asked with forced calm.

“Yes, actually you can,” Darknight said, discreetly casting a silent locking and silencing charm with the wand hidden behind his back. “You can help by signing these papers for me,” he continued, dropping the parchment on her desk. She looked at them and scoffed.

“A pardon for Potter and Granger? A letter of resignation? Why would I possibly sign these?” she asked incredulously. Darknight smiled mirthlessly and whipped out his wand, disarming Umbridge.

“Because I asked nicely, that's why,” he said casually. “Now the way I see it, you have two options: you can cooperate, sign the papers and leave the country permanently, or I can force you to sign them. You're choice.” Realizing that she was unarmed and in no position to make demands, she slowly sat down and signed the parchment before folding them up and sending them fluttering away. “It's been a pleasure doing business with you, Madam Umbridge,” Darknight said, not lowering his wand, “obliviate.” As the memory-wiping spell sent Umbridge flying and knocked her unconscious with the impact with the wall, Darknight sheathed his wand and dusted off his hands. “I helped level the playing field, Potter,” he muttered to himself. “The next move's yours.”
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I hope that you enjoyed this chapter, and hope that it answered any questions you might have had.

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