With Kingsley in tow, Harry reappeared in the middle of the Law Enforcement atrium they had left from. They fell to the ground in a bloody heap. Harry was quick to act, though. On his knees, he scrambled across the atrium floor over to Kingsley, who had the knife still lodged in his chest. The pool of blood around them was ever-growing.

“Kingsley,” Harry spluttered as he dragged himself through Kingsley’s pool of blood. Harry hadn’t even taken the time to notice those around him in the atrium. The uninjured Aurors who had returned safely stood in the atrium, watching the scene in horror, while the others tended to their wounds or helped round up the unconscious Death Eaters to deposit them in the prepared containment cells.

Harry reached for the knife protruding from his chest cavity, and he looked to Kingsley expectantly. “Kingsley, stay with me. Stay with me.”

Coughing up blood, Kingsley shook his head in apparent protest, yet Harry couldn’t decipher why. His face was paling by the second, turning to an empty, deathly shade.

Harry looked over his shoulders to anyone who was standing around. “Help me!” he cried, but the others seemed to know what was inevitable now.

It was Ron among the crowd of Aurors who moved to Harry’s side, placed a hand on his shoulder, and then knelt by Kingsley.

Harry turned to look back at the Minister for Magic—his old friend who had given his life to protect him and his friends a thousand times. “Why? Why did you do that, Kingsley?” asked Harry, knowing he didn’t have to specify what it was Kingsley had done.

“You are my friend,” Kingsley managed. “And I owed it to you…”

He coughed, and as he did, blood erupted from his mouth, splattering across Harry’s cheek. Harry tried not to cringe.

“You owed me nothing,” Harry argued.

“Not true,” coughed Kingsley again. “Three years ago…I believed the lies. I put you in Azkaban.”

Harry shook his head, refusing to listen to him. “Stop it,” he urged. “You did your duty as Minister. You did your duty.”

“Forgive me,” begged Kingsley, his eyes swimming with tears and desperation. “Say you forgive me. I need to know you forgive me.”

Harry took Kingsley’s hand then and squeezed. His thick, long fingers were cold and frail in his hand. He continued to squeeze, harder and again and again as if he could will the life and strength back into them. Harry blinked back tears.

“I forgave you a long time ago,” he whispered.

Kingsley nodded. Then his head lolled to the side, and his eyes drifted shut. He exhaled heavily and then not again. His hand went limp in Harry’s grasp, and Harry knew he had died.

Still kneeling next to Kingsley’s body, Harry closed his eyes to hold back his tears. The atrium seemed to take on a deep and harrowing aura as Kingsley released his last breath, and now the silence was eerie, leaving a chill along everyone’s spine.

With a shaking voice, Harry spoke in a whisper to Ron. “We have to move him…And we have to notify the Minister’s Support Staff.”

“I know,” said Ron calmly, knowing he had to be strong for Harry in that moment. “I’ll take care of his body. You get the Support Staff and…”

“I know,” said Harry, nodding. “I have to go to Hermione…”

They helped each other to their feet, and ignoring Kingsley’s blood on their pants, they went their separate ways. The other Aurors in the atrium began to move to help as they saw Harry and Ron begin to. Ron pulled out his wand and levitated Kingsley’s body. With a few other Aurors, they escorted Kingsley’s body from the atrium. Another Auror cleaned up the blood, and that was when Harry pulled himself together. He left the atrium to gather the Minister’s Support Staff as was protocol in such situations. He notified them of what had happened, had them gather the appropriate paperwork, and they left the Ministry for Ron and Hermione’s.

They apparated onto the porch, and Harry was the one to knock somberly.

Hermione opened the door shortly after. Her face was flushed, her eyes alive with something that had clearly happened that Harry was unaware of. She noticed the Support Staff standing behind Harry, and before he had the chance to ask her what was the matter, Hermione did so.

“H–Harry,” she stuttered. “You’re back from the raid. W–With…”

“Hermione…” began Harry gravely. “They’re here to swear you in as Minister for Magic.”

“K–Kingsley…?” she managed to choke out when she realized what Kingsley’s fate must be if the Support Staff were here to swear her in.

“He didn’t make it…” said Harry sadly.

There was a rustle from within the house—rapid footsteps and quickened voices—and then the last person Harry expected to see came running into view.


She was quickly followed by Teddy, but Harry paid him no mind, as he was too shocked to see his niece standing there. She looked frail and weak; her eyes were slightly sunken and her hair was unkempt, but otherwise she looked healthy.

“Uncle Harry,” she smiled and threw her arms around his neck.

His mouth agape in shock, Harry wrapped an arm around her. “I–I don’t understand. D–Dominique, how are you here?”

“It’s hard to explain,” she began quickly as she detangled himself from around her neck.

Harry took her hand and led her to the side of the porch so the Support Staff could do their job and swear Hermione in as Minister for Magic.

Dominique spoke quickly, clearly passionate about what had happened and happy to be back with her family. “It was Clancy. I don’t know what made her change her mind, but she got me out. She helped me escape. She led me to the woods, and I could see you. You started attacking the manor just as she freed me, but I couldn’t get to you. I shouted. I tried to make you hear me, but I couldn’t. And I didn’t have my wand or know where I was. So I got myself to safety. I’m sorry, Uncle Harry! I know that means you risked your life for nothing, a–and I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” whispered Harry. He took Dominique into his arms again and held her tight, just happy to know she was okay and happy to be with her again. “It’s okay. It’s not your fault.”

Harry closed his eyes. He hated the irony of it all, for Dominique was right; Clancy freeing Dominique when she did meant they had attacked the manor for no reason at all. Kingsley and Owen had died for no reason at all. They were gone. They had died thinking they would help save Dominique, yet now their deaths meant nothing—Kinglsey’s blood still on Harry’s cheeks and staining his jeans meant nothing.

He tried to ignore the pain of it all, for he knew that they couldn’t change any of it now. Dominique was back home and safe now, and that was enough for Harry.

“I tried to get to you as soon as I could,” said Dominique. “I went to Teddy first, and then we came here immediately to tell Hermione so she could notify the right people within the Ministry to end the raid.”

“It’s okay,” said Harry again. “You did the right thing. G–Go home to your parents. And your brother and sister. They will be so happy to see you. We can talk later, and I’ll have some questions for you, but that can wait. Go—be with your family.”

“Thank you, Uncle Harry,” said Dominique, and she rose onto her tiptoes to kiss his cheek. She went back to Teddy’s side, and together they left to go see her parents.

As they left, Harry turned back to face Hermione, who had her right hand raised and was repeating the oath as the Support Staff read it to her.

“And finally,” a staff member stated, “do you swear to uphold the magical law as set by the Ministry of Magic of Great Britain and to protect those who live under it—magical and muggle alike?”

“I swear,” said Hermione.

“Then you are hereby appointed Great Britain’s Minister for Magic.”

Hermione lowered her shaking hand and turned to Harry. Her expression was empty, but there was a determination in her eyes. “Call a press conference,” she ordered. “I need to make my first executive order as Minister for Magic.”

“Mum?!” Parker called out into the demolished manor after the Aurors had retreated and abandoned their cause. He ran into the destroyed foyer and looked around, wishing to see his mother and again and truly speak to her for the first time since she had been captured by the Aurors. “Mum?!”

Pansy came running into view from one of the halls at the top of the stairs of the foyer. “Parker?!” she cried out hopefully.

“Mum!” breathed Parker enthusiastically. He bounded up the stairs, jumping three at a time, until he finally opened up his arms and Pansy pitched herself into them.

She was short and small; he lifted her up off the ground as he held onto her, and he buried his face into her neck, hiding his joyful smile.

When Parker set her down, Pansy cupped his face in her hands and appraised his appearance. She stroked his cheeks, turning his face in her hands as she inspected every angle of him. She still didn’t understand how he was here and healthy—not being tortured in Ministry possession.

“I don’t understand how you’re here. Is it really you? Are you all right?” she asked, knowing she must have sounded mad.

Parker grasped her hands to cease her stroking, and he pulled them away from his face, giving her an incredulous look. “Yes, it’s me. I’m fine. I’ve been here the whole time. What are you talking about?”

“At the Ministry,” began Pansy, “they had me locked up, and Potter took me out of my cell to see you. They had you in this room; an Auror was torturing you. H–He hit you. Over and over. Carved ‘murderer’ in your arm! They tortured you until I gave up the location of the manor. That’s all they wanted. They wanted to know where you had Dominique Weasley, and I knew you would never forgive me if I told them, but I figured if they already had you, then it didn’t matter if they knew where she was.”

“I don’t understand,” said Parker, shaking his head. “That wasn’t me. They didn’t find me. They didn’t torture me…”

Pansy closed her eyes, frustrated with herself. “I realize that now. They must have had someone disguise themselves as you, but I thought it was you. And I couldn’t bear to watch them torture you like that. I told them where you were hiding and how to get here. Parker, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”

“It’s all right, Mum,” Parker found himself saying. He really didn’t know why he wasn’t angry about being found by the Aurors. At first, he had been furious, but now he understood in a way. And in truth, he was just happy to have his mother back. Besides, the Aurors found them, but in return, Parker got his mother back and the Aurors hadn’t been successful in taking Dominique. Parker had his mother and Dominique, so he considered that a win—even if it meant they would now have to find a new location.

Knowing she was forgiven, Pansy directed the conversation to more pressing matters. “Potter? Did you get him?”

Parker shook his head. “No. They fled. I had him. I was so close. He was right there. His blood was on my knife, but he got away. He knew he was losing, though, so he called them off. They all abandoned the cause. But I think I got the Minister.”

“You killed the Minister?!” clarified Pansy, a proud grin forming on her face.

“I think I did,” he emphasized. “I know I hit him, but Potter took him side-along before I could see my damage.”

Pansy hugged him one more time, squeezing him tight. “I’m so proud of you. And I’m so happy you’re okay.”

“I’m fine,” he reassured her. “But how are you? Did they hurt you at all?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head.

“I’m so sorry they took you. You were next on my list that day. I went to get Clancy, and you were next! But then Clancy turned out to be a complication, and by then they had already taken you.”

Pansy swallowed, surprised to find herself suddenly feeling jealous for her son’s attention. In just the past few months, this Clancy O’Dell had someone managed to take her place in her son’s life. Pansy still had yet to meet the woman who had won over her son, but each time she heard Parker mention her name, she liked her less and less.

“A complication?” asked Pansy. “What happened? That bitch better—”

“Mum!” snapped Parker, her cruel demeanor suddenly coming over him once more. For a moment, he had been unable to set aside his easily agitated self to just be happy that his mother was back safely with him, but at her bitter remark about Pansy, Parker found himself growing cruel, curt, and impatient once again. “I won’t let you talk about her like that.”

“You called her a complication. I only thought—”

“The moment has passed. She isn’t a complication anymore,” he cut her off again.

“Well, is she here at least? Do I finally get to meet this woman?” Pansy asked bitterly, folding her arms across her chest.

Parker nodded. “She’s here. Give me a moment. I want to check on her and have the others check on the Weasley girl. We need to clean up this mess here, find somewhere safe, and then I will properly introduce the two of you. Why don’t you clean yourself up? I’ll find you when I’ve taken care of everything else.”

Pursing her lips in annoyance, Pansy simply nodded and turned on her heels to return to her bedroom, which had been left unoccupied during her absence.

After Parker watched her disappear from view, he leaned over the railing of the foyer to look down into the demolished room. The Death Eaters down there were minding their own business. Some tended their wounds while others helped others or tried to clean up the mess they had made when blowing out the front of the manor.

Parker called to them. “Take care of any injuries you may have sustained and gather your things. Travers, check on Weasley in her room. After we’ve all had time to gather our bearings, we’re leaving this place.”

From below, Travers nodded and set off for the wing that held Dominique’s room.

Parker then turned down the hall for his own wing. When he was out of the Death Eater’s view, his pace quickened to that of a jog. He came to a skidding halt in front of Clancy’s room, and he threw open the door eagerly, bursting inside.

“Clancy!” he called desperately.

Clancy had been pacing in anticipation. Upon Parker’s entrance, she froze and looked to him expectantly. Her expression was blank until she could gather some form of reaction from him. Did he know what she had done? Had he found out yet? Did he even know Dominique was gone?

He didn’t seem to know, for he looked relieved to see her. He ran to her, opening up his arms with an expression of relief.

Clancy breathed a sigh of relief as well as she realized that he didn’t know Dominique was long gone or that she had anything to do with it. So she just enjoyed this moment with him when he was just happy and relieved to see her. For a split second, there was no anger in him. Just them.

She wrapped her arms around him, pleased to see him unhurt. He pulled away just enough to kiss her. When they broke apart, he stroked her hair and smiled. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” she answered with a nod. “What about you? I felt the house shake. I was worried about you. What happened?”

“We blew out the front of the house,” said Parker. “Our location was clearly compromised, so we can’t stay here. We blew out the front wall to slow them down.”

Clancy closed her mouth and swallowed, feeling her throat close up and swell. “A–And the Aurors…? Did you…Is…” Her voice faltered as she found herself unable to articulate what it was she wanted to ask without revealing that she knew Harry had been a part of the raid. She had wanted to ask if Harry had survived, but she knew that, if she asked about Harry in particular, Parker would find that unusual.

“It was a null battle,” said Parker. “We lost a few; they lost a few. Potter lives.”

Clancy shifted her line of sight to the floor so Parker could not see her relief. She nodded, holding true feelings inside.

“Pack your things,” said Parker. “We can’t stay here any longer. As soon as the others are ready, we’re leaving this place. And…There’s someone I want you to meet.”

Before Clancy could ask who, the door to the hall flew open. Travers stood in the doorway with a hand on the door knob and the other clutching his chest as he tried to regain his breath. His eyes were frantic, and he was clearly fearful for what he had to tell Parker.

A look of irritation passed over Parker’s face at Travers’ interruption, and he snapped at him. “What?!

“Sir,” blurted Travers, “I–I’m sorry for the interruption, b–but…It’s the Weasley girl, sir.”

What about it is so important that it couldn’t wait?!” he griped, turning on his heels to face Travers.

“S–Sir, she’s gone.”

WHAT?!” shouted Parker. “How is that possible?!”

“I don’t know, sir. Her door was unlocked. Perhaps she escaped during the attack,” suggested Travers.

Parker shook his head furiously as Clancy seemed to shrink into nothing. She retreated until she was pressed against the back wall, just watching Parker lose himself to his anger. He paced, balling his hands into fists by his sides, and he bit his lip as he fumed.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Parker thought aloud. Then he suddenly turned for the door. “I need to get to the bottom of this.”

He pushed past Travers and into the hall. He pulled out his wand as he moved through the hall and into the foyer.

Sonorus,” he muttered, and then suddenly his voice was booming and painful to behold as it erupted throughout the manor. “REPORT! Everybody report to the foyer! NOW!”

Everybody came running from all directions. Footsteps thundered, things fell to the floor in a clatter, and everyone who remained within the manor appeared in the foyer as Parker demanded. He looked down upon them all as he stood on the landing of the second floor, and he knew his fury was evident on his face, for some of the Death Eaters even seemed to cringe in fear.

Clancy entered from the hallway, watching the scene with a shaky disposition. And then Pansy appeared in the foyer from the hall opposite the room. Pansy’s eyes moved to Clancy to appraise the woman who had managed to capture Parker’s heart.

Parker, ignoring the two women, looked down to the Death Eaters in acrimony. His voice still shook throughout the manor with great volume. “Dominique Weasley is gone. I’m only going to ask once. If I have to ask twice, there will be consequences. What happened to her?!”

There was silence from below as the Death Eaters shifted in their spots. Some looked to one another in confusion, and no one spoke.

“Who set her free?! She was locked in that room without a wand or magic to aid her! So someone must have let her go. No one leaves this room until we get to the bottom of this.”

The silence continued, which only infuriated Parker further. “Very well, then…” he hissed. “We will do this one by one.

Parker began to rattle off names of the Death Eaters below, running through them one at a time. With each name, a Death Eater responded below with a “no” until finally there were no more names to be said.

Feeling his fury grow, Parker shook his head and shouted again. “Someone is lying! If I am forced to ask you one more time, I will find Veritaserum or force it out of you throw more painful measures. Now, speak up!”

“Parker!” Clancy cried out suddenly. “Parker, stop!”

Parker had almost forgotten she was there. He looked over to her quickly, and with the one simple expression on her face, Parker knew what she had done.

He froze and pursed his lips.

He had to think quickly about what to do. If it had been a Death Eater that had freed Dominique, he didn’t know what he would have done, but he most likely would have killed them right then and there. But this was Clancy. He couldn’t kill her. He couldn’t hurt her even if he wanted to. Yet if the Death Eaters knew she was the one to do it, they would expect him to punish her in some way just as he would the Death Eaters. He couldn’t play favorites.

But in order to not play favorites, they couldn’t know she had done it.

Luckily, no one knew Clancy like Parker did. So the Death Eaters and his mother only believed that Clancy wished to stop Parker’s cruel demeanor.

Shaking to withhold his anger from everyone, Parker turned back to face them. “Everyone, go back to packing your things. We leave within the hour. When we reach our new location, I expect the guilty one to come forward with the truth.”

With that, Parker turned from them and followed Clancy down the hall and to her room. Pansy followed closely on their heels, and the three of them entered her room.

Parker shut the door behind them, removing the amplifying charm from his voice before he spoke, and he turned back to Clancy to let his anger fly. “How could you?!

“I don’t understand,” Pansy spoke up before Clancy could. She looked back and forth between the two.

“Mum, not now!” Parker roared at her.

Clancy looked at Pansy in surprise, wishing that she could meet Parker’s mother under different circumstances. “H–Hi, Mrs. Namken…” she said awkwardly. She took a few steps toward Pansy and stretched out her hand in greeting. “I–It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Don’t change the subject!” snapped Parker to Clancy. Then he turned back to his mother. “Mum, go back to your room and let me handle this.”

“I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on,” retorted Pansy.

“Give us some privacy, and get out!” demanded Parker. He pointed to the door for emphasis.

Pansy recoiled in shock at her son speaking to her in such a tone, but she also knew better than to argue with him. It would only lead to more shouting and potential violence. So with an irritated grimace, she stalked off, closing the door behind her.

Parker looked back to Clancy, feeling betrayed by her. “You let her go?! Why?! How could you do this?!”

Clancy winced, cringing into herself as she pressed her body against the wall. Parker came uncomfortably close, towering over her and letting his angered breaths grace her cheeks.

“It was the right thing to do,” she managed in a whisper. “I may love you, but I don’t have to agree with what you’re doing. She deserved to be free and with her family.”

“What happened to our talk in the garden this morning?! What happened to sticking by my side until this is over?!” Parker demanded to know. He grimaced, bearing his teeth as his brow pulled together in anger.

“Your fight is with the Potters! She is a Weasley!” argued Clancy.

“Do you know nothing about that family?!” he snapped. “She’s not a Potter, but she is just as good as! Harry Potter is her uncle. James Potter is her best friend. Dominique Weasley was a straight path to their hearts! And you had the audacity to remove her from the equation!”

“That’s right!” shouted Clancy in return. She was surprised by herself. Never in her life had she defied someone so greatly as she was in this moment. She was afraid of Parker—terrified actually—but she was beginning to realize that she had do stand up for herself and do something if she didn’t wish to be as bad as he. By standing idly by and letting him get away with his murderous plan, she was just as guilty and cruel as he. “I can’t keep letting you do this, Parker! I know you want them all dead, but if you hurt a single soul more than you have to, I will never forgive you. If you want me in your life, then you will throw out the list of people you have condemned to die and you will cut it down to just two. Two, Parker. The two you want most. And that is it! Do you understand me?”

“I’ve worked on this plan for more than three years! You can’t just take that away from me! Three years of my life, Clancy! Of living in the shadows and hiding myself from society to protect my plan! Three years of meticulously planning how I would kill Albus! And Dominique! And next, Teddy Lupin! Lorcan Scamander! Lily Potter! Ron Weasley! Hermione Granger! And finally goddamn Harry and James Potter!”

“I know your list!” said Clancy, shaking her head at him as he rattled it off in the order he had long ago planned. “And now I’m saying two, Parker. Two.”

“You can’t make me revise this! You have no say in this!”

“Listen to me right now!” demanded Clancy. “If you love me and if you want a future with me like you said this morning, then you will listen to me. And you will only take two more lives. If you do not, I swear I will leave you for good. And I will turn you in.”

“You wouldn’t,” dared Parker.

“I would,” said Clancy, standing straighter and holding her ground. Her fear of him was beginning to diminish. She was able to speak without her voice quaking as she did so. “Now, agree to my terms. Or I’m gone.”

Parker was silent for many moments, his brow pulled in contemplation as he realized Clancy had gotten the best of him and had exploited the one part of him he was willing to bargain for—his love for her. Then, surprisingly, his expression softened and his cruel grimace turned into a smile. He even let out a soft chuckle.

“What could possibly be funny right now?” snapped Clancy.

“You,” chuckled Parker, and he reached out to stroke her cheek. “Seeing you like this. I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Had what in me?” she asked, trying not to lose face. He was testing her now. She had finally been able to stand up to him, and he was making her brave posterior waiver with his laughs and gentle hands on her face. She wasn’t going to let him sway her now.

“This,” he grinned, and he bent down to kiss her. “Standing up to me.”

Confused, Clancy shook her head. “I don’t understand. I just demanded you change your plan, and you kiss me?”

Parker grinned and kissed her again. “Maybe.”

Clancy found that a giggle escaped her then. “Are you telling me this is turning you on?”

“Kinda,” he breathed into her ear in a husky voice, kissing the skin there, and he trailed his lips along her jaw and to her lips where he kissed her deeply. “You yelling at me. I’ve never seen this side of you. It’s kinda sexy.”

Clancy refrained from smiling, and she exhaled as her breath caught in her throat from his lips on her neck. “Two, Parker.”

“Fine, shut up,” he agreed, never taking his lips off of her. “Just the two. Now shut up and kiss me.”

Clancy took that as a win. He had agreed. So she let herself give in. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he picked her up. Her legs went around his waist and she let him carry her to the bed. She kissed him passionately and let her anger fade.

Baby steps, she thought. She had been able to knock down his hit list from an extensive number to just two, and while James Potter was on his list and she hated the thought of him dying, it was still a success.

Slowly, they were beginning to change each other.

She just hoped it was a change for the better.

Sucking in a deep breath, Hermione looked to the podium before her. After she had told Harry and the Support Staff to gather everyone for a press conference, the atrium at the Ministry of Magic had filled in a matter of minutes. Hermione allowed enough time for everyone to pile in, and after everyone was filed in and beginning to grow impatient for the address, Hermione knew she couldn’t delay any longer.

So she sucked in a courageous breath, smoothed out her suit, and stepped up to the podium.

As she did so, the hushed voices in the atrium quieted until silence fell over them. Cameras flashed, filling her vision with flickering lights as everyone waited.

Then she spoke.

“Thank you, everyone, for coming together on such short notice. Many of you know why I have called this press conference today. This evening, our beloved Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, passed away due to his injuries sustained during an unsuccessful raid to rescue my niece from the clenches of a man who wishes to annihilate an innocent family. While Dominique Weasley has been safely returned to her family, many others did not see the same fate and will never see their families again. The friends and family of those we lost today are suffering now because a man we long thought dead has decided he has the right to condemn innocents to their deaths. I, Hermione Granger-Weasley, was sworn in as Minister for Magic just an hour ago, and in my first act as your new Minister for Magic, I will not let such bigotry and injustice continue. From this moment forward, a warrant has been issued for the imprisonment of Pansy Namken and all those in association with her son and the escaped Death Eaters. As for Parker Namken, I henceforth label him as Undesirable No. 1 and issue a kill-on-sight order.”

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