Chapter Thirty Four: And the Walls Come Crumbling Down Standard Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all characters are property of J K Rowling, Warner Brothers, Bloomsbury Books, Arthur A. Levine Books, Raincoast Books, Scholastic publishing (et al.) and are used without permission. This work was written purely for noncommercial entertainment; no money is being made.
WARNING: Harsh Language, adult themes, sexual situations (i.e. smut), bad spelling and grammar. Author's Notes: This story is a broad farce with over the top humor (a good deal of it is crude and sexual) and OOC actions (that's Out Of Character if you don't know). Also, this is my first smut-ish fic. If you don't like sex and sex-based humor, do NOT read this! Chapter Thirty Four: It's time for Harry to face his destiny! With an ache in both his lower back and '/Harry, Jr.'/, Harry blinked his eyes.
Stiff and sore, he slowly sat up. "It's about time you woke up," Hermione greeted him. "What time is it?" "Nearly supper." "Damn. I must've been knackered." "Ejaculating fourteen times will have that effect." "I guess that would explain why I'm so sore down there," he commented and then asked, "Did you really keep count?" "Of course I did," she said, sitting on the bed next to him. A warm smile graced her lips. "You're my virile wizard. Even with the aid of potions, you were amazing." "Amazing was I?" "It was definitely one for the history books." The pride Harry had felt before falling into unconsciousness returned with gusto.
He felt his face heat up and a wide grin stretched across his face. "Where are your two counterparts?" he asked, vainly trying to quell his smile. "One's already used the Time Turner to go back to last night, the other one is in the library waiting for her turn to go back," she said. The brunette leaned forward and placed a quick peck on his lips. "I'll fetch you some food." She leapt up and walked across the room.
As she walked, Harry eyed her wonderful bum as it swayed back and forth. Cocking an eyebrow, Harry looked down to '/Harry, Jr.'/, silently asking of it was up for another go. After all, Hermione's bottom just begged for a repeat performance. The organ replied "/Sod off. I'm bloody tired!"/ Normally, '/Harry, Jr.'/ would be ready and willing to play with Hermione, but cumming fourteen times in one night had earned the penis some rest.
Hermione returned with a plate full of fruits. She took her place next to her lover and brought a strawberry up to his lips. After he ate that piece, Hermione presented him a slice of pineapple. As his girlfriend continued to feed him, the door banged open and Courtney came barging into the room. "Blow Jobs Are The BEST!" she announced in no uncertain terms. She then crinkled her nose, smelling the air, and stated "Cor, it smells like sex in here.
Did I miss another show?" "Harry came fourteen times," Hermione said, beaming with pride over her boyfriend's achievement. "Blimey, that's a lot of spunk," Courtney said, nodding her head in approval. "I don't think even the House-Elves could clean that much cum out of the sheets.
You'll probably have to burn them. "Of course Draco was no slouch either." She held up her hand and extended all five fingers. "Twice for me and three times for you, Harry." A sudden urge to run far, far away popped up in Harry's mind.
Courtney was encroaching upon a subject that made the young wizard nervous and nauseous, to say the least. "That's… all we want to hear about that," Hermione said, hoping to end Courtney's recollection.
"Aw, you're no fun," the Auror pouted. "But I have to tell you, Hermione: you MUST grow a penis and have someone give you a blow-job. Abso-/bloody/-lutely fantastic!" "I'm not sucking dick," Harry announced. "Not even if it was mine?" Hermione asked, playfully. Or at least Harry hoped it was playful. He prayed that his lover wasn't that kinky. "Hell no," he said with finality. "You two are so weird," Courtney said with a chuckle.
"It's funny how that even though you're so kinky and wild that some things still make you queasy." "Without going into any details, /please/, I take it Draco was into the act and therefore the glass ball I gave you is fully charged?" asked Hermione. "Oh Merlin yes! I though he was going to burst when I began—" "I'm sorry Courtney but I can't bear any details about your… /adventure/," Hermione spoke up.
"I know you're into him, but Draco just gives me the creeps. It's difficult for me to even understand why anyone would be into someone like Draco." "Oh, bother," lamented Courtney. She pulled the glass ball that Hermione had given her the night before, and offered it to the other witch.
"If I can't share my bi-wonder experience with you two, then I guess I'll just have to share with Tonks. She'd appreciate it." "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, really I am," said Hermione, taking the ball from Courtney and carefully setting it down on the tabletop. The magical construct was now filled with burning red and orange lights, swirling around in the glass.
"I just don't want to hear any sentence that contains the word'/Draco'/ and '/penis'/. It's a standard that I must hold to." "I completely agree," said Harry. "Well, then you'll be pleased to know that Draco discovered that it was actually me and not Harry, after the fact. And by '/fact'/ I mean plentiful amounts of wet, dirty sex. I reckoned you two didn't want him thinking that Harry just popped over for hummers and buggering," she said. "Thank you," Harry said. A great weight had lifted a part of him feared that Draco would approach him in the halls and ask for another tumble.
"But you really have to experience a blow-job, Hermione," repeated Courtney. "It's imperative!" "I'm not sucking a dick," Harry reiterated. "Me, I'll do anything at least once as long as it won't leave a mark. Well, not a lasting mark, anyway," Courtney bragged. "Or scat; I won't do that." "Maybe we should introduce you to a ghost we know," offered Harry.
"Yes, I think he'd love you," Hermione said. "Except for the lack of scat bit." "Really? I've heard some strange rumors about a perverted ghost lurking around the castle." Courtney was clearly curious and intrigued by this unnamed mystery ghost.
"Pardon me, but my ears are burning," the ghost in question said, as he made himself visible.
"Is someone talking about me behind my back?" Harry was fairly certain that Gryffindor had been hiding, unseen, in the room for some time. The young wizard even speculated that there was a slight chance the ghost was there when he and Hermione had their Time Turner/Polyjuice foursome. The only issue that cast doubt on this speculation was that Gryffindor would've given tips and pointers, if not offering outright to join in by saying something as uncouth as "Is there room for another willy in that jumbled mass of limbs and orifices?" while Harry and the three versions of Hermione went at it.
"Godric Gryffindor, this is Courtney," Hermione said, introducing the pair. "Hello there, my pretty," Gryffindor said with his ever-present deviant grin. "Did I hear you right when you said you'd try anything?" "Except scat," the Auror said without shame.
"Or anything that involves urine and/or vomit, as well." "Have you ever heard of something called a '/Train/,'" the ghost said, draping his arm over Courtney's shoulders, leading her out of the Head Boy and Girl's chambers.
Courtney cheered "I get to be the caboose." With that, the ghost and the Auror left the Head Boy and Girl, discussing various positions, acts and household cleaners that doubled as good lubrication. "Did you introduce Courtney to Gryffindor so that you'd get him off of our backs?" asked Harry. "Of course," Hermione replied. "I figured that Courtney and Draco could entertain Gryffindor for a while.
Hopefully longer than Mrs. Black's portrait did anyway." "Good, because if you hadn't introduced them, I was going to for the very same reason." Hermione held up the glass ball containing the sexual energy collected from Courtney and Draco's romp. "All we need to do now is tap into this with our ritual to help Snape in convincing Voldemort. Once the ritual is done and the effect is primed, we'll have to send Snape a coded post telling both the plan and the activation of the delayed ritual." Harry felt an icy lump drop in the pit of his stomach as Hermione began drawing runes in chalk on the floor.
He gulped in dread at the thought of his looming task. The three-Hermiones from the night before had done a wonderful job of distracting him from his destiny (and just as importantly from the mental images of what Courtney was doing to Draco with a polyjuiced copy of 'Harry, Jr.' at that time). But now Hermione was getting ready to use the container of sexual energy to perform the special ritual the one designed to induce Voldemort to be more viable and accepting of a suggestion, thereby entering their trap the terrifying knowledge of the dire predicament Harry faced returned in full force.
In a scant few days, Harry would have to face off against Voldemort, the most feared wizard of the age. SoG SoG SoG The following Wednesday, shortly after supper, Harry, Hermione, Ron and Luna were enjoying each other's company in the Head Boy and Girl's Chambers.
The young wizards were playing a less than quiet game of Exploding Snap, while the witches were discussing potential rituals for future volumes of /Books of Love Magic/. "I thought up a delicious new one last night. It's not a ritual per se, but I think it will be very well received regardless," Luna announced. "I call it 'Dramamine for Magical Folk.' You know how some people absolutely loathe traveling by Floo, Portkey or Apparation?
Well, I thought of something that will help ease their minds: oral sex. They get fellatio or cunnilingus right before they travel!" Harry pondered over Luna's idea. He counted himself as one of the people who did not like traveling through magical means: the spinning of Floo, the hook and tug of Portkey, and the squeezing through a rubber hose of Apparation always made him queasy… and fall down.
He reckoned receiving a blow-job right before he used any of these methods would in fact ease his mind. He realized that it wouldn't prevent him from falling down; he just wouldn't care if he did. Blow-jobs had that effect on a bloke. "Sounds like a good idea," he said while Ron nodded his head in approval. "The only reason you it is like because you'd agree to anything if it meant you got more blow-jobs," Hermione said with a snort. After a moment of contemplation, the raven-haired wizard replied;"Yeah, I would." Ron nodded his head in agreement, again.
The brunette mused for a moment before saying, "Perhaps we could have a section in the next book on various non-magical acts." She chewed her lip, clearly deep in thought, before adding, "Thinking along the lines of Luna's suggestion, maybe for long distance Floo travel, a couple could perform oral sex during their extended trip." "And we could call it '/Floo Head,'"/suggested Harry.
"That's the spirit!" cheered Luna as Harry's mind wandered to the glorious image of Hermione on her knees before him as the two spun from one fireplace to another just as his lover had described.
Returning to the subject of actual rituals, Hermione said "I came up with a new ritual last night. It's an Anti-Fire Ward." "Didn't we make one for the last book?" asked Ron. "Yes, but you can never be too safe when it comes to fire danger," Hermione replied. "Like the previous Anti-Fire Ward, this one will protect the home from fire, whether caused by nature, accident or attack. But, unlike the first ward, this one needs to be performed by two couples." "/A foursome!/ Oh, Hermione, I thought you'd never agree!" Luna said exuberantly.
She clapped her hands rhythmically, chanting, "Partner swap! We finally get to partner swap! Harry, get over here right now and give me some of that Parsletongue love!" Hermione blanched. Harry suppressed a chuckle over his girlfriend's reaction she wasn't upset over the notion that Luna had just made overt sexual advances on her boyfriend, but rather if they were to partner swap, then she would have to be with Ron.
And the mere thought of being intimate with the orangutan-like wizard made the brunette queasy. "No, no, no, no, /Good Heavens, no/," Hermione said rapidly, keeping her line of sight as far away from Ron as possible.
"The ritual I created requires that Harry paddle me while I'm gagged with a red-rubber ball and tied up with red scarves, while you sit on a chair nearby and Ron masturbates into your hair." "Oh, poo," moaned Luna. "I really want a foursome." "That's not going to happen. /Ever/," Hermione said, evenly. "The red of the ball-gag and scarves represent fire.
Harry's paddle represents a punishment of that fire. And Ron's semen will represent a liquid based fire-retardant," explained Hermione. "Once I orgasm, the ward will activate and the home will be protected from fire." "What would I do during this ritual?" asked Luna. "You don't have to do a thing. You just sit there while Ron wanks himself in your hair," replied Hermione.
"That's rather dull isn't it? Can't Igive him head or lend a hand in his wanking?" "No, I'm sorry. According to my calculations, Ron must be the only one to touch himself for this ritual to work properly." "Curses," Luna pouted. "Maybe we can change it so Ron doesn't have to wank in your hair?" offered Harry.
"No, that's not the problem. I don't mind my Ronald masturbating on me he does it all the time and I've grown quite fond of it. But if I am just to sit there, I wouldn't feel that I'm participating in the ritual.
No different than a Brooding Craft Snark so to speak. And as everyone knows; a Brooding Craft Snark does absolutely nothing." "Can she read something?" Harry asked Hermione. "Would that affect the ritual?" "Oh, that's brilliant Harry! I can read German poetry aloud while Ronald masturbates into my hair!" cheered Luna.
"You know German?" he asked. "Not a lick," Luna said, still jubilant over the notion. "I just like how the guttural sound of the language makes my throat and tongue tickle." Just then, a large owl with shinny, gleaming silver wings flew in through the open window.
"What a beautiful owl," Hermione said, eyeing the now-perched bird. "It's called a Segue Owl," informed Luna. "/Segue/? Why is it called that?" "I don't know," the blonde replied dreamily.
"But it's got a post attached to its leg." "It must be Snape's reply!" Harry said, quickly picking up on the new subject. Dashing up to the exotic bird, Harry untied the post attached to its leg. After delivering the message, the silver owl flapped its wings and flew back out the window. "Let me decode it," Hermione said. Several minutes later, the brunette read the decrypted post aloud. "'Even though I believe your plan to be flawed and recklessly dangerous, it remains, unfortunately, the best chance at defeating the Dark Lord.
I have used my superior logic and cunning to convince the Dark Lord to attack Hogwarts by entering through the Chamber of Secrets as you suggested. My skilful approach was able to persuade the Dark Lord that this was his opportune means to devastate the wizarding population and to get rid of Potter, whom for some reason He views as a threat.
"'The Dark Lord was uncharacteristically keen I might even argue that he was exuberant over my persuasive urgings of the notion of attacking the castle. Personally, I think that the Dark Lord's excessive reaction to my subtle skill is that He is still despondent over his loss of Bellatrix to her current insensate state. However, I did follow your inane instructions in that prior to approaching the Dark Lord, I did the proscribed insipid wand waving and intonation.
But the truth of the matter is that my methods are what worked here. Not some schoolgirl's imaginary ritual.' "My ritual worked! It helped Snape convince Voldemort," cheered Hermione before she read the conclusion of Snape's post. "'Unfortunately, the Dark Lord is so excited over the plan that He has decided to launch the attack against the castle as soon as possible.
He, along with myself and his remaining handful of minions, will Portkey into the Chamber of Secrets Thursday night shortly after Ten PM.'" "Thursday!" exclaimed Ron.
"But that's tomorrow! He can't attack tomorrow! That's too bloody soon!" "Doesn't matter, we'll have to deal with it," Harry said, dismissing the dread that gnawed at his belly like a pack of rats on a piece of moldy cheese. "I'll talk to the House-Elves so that they can start evacuating people right away," said Hermione. "No, we should wait as long as possible perhaps after supper tomorrow," he said.
"If we start emptying the castle too soon, Voldemort will definitely hear about it and will scrub his plans to attack. We'll have to do it late tomorrow evening, no earlier than eight, maybe even after nine or so. That way there'll be less of a chance of Voldemort discovering that it's a trap." "What do we do until then?" asked Ron, nervously. "I dunno, try and relax," Harry said, doubting that such a thing was possible. The gravity of his impending destiny lay on his mind like a heavy lead weight.
Even the thought of relaxing in light of this seemed like an alien concept. "Let's go back to our room, Ronald," Luna said, taking her husband's hand in hers. They left the Head Boy and Girl's chambers without another word. "I think I'm going to get sick," Harry announced. "It's a good plan," Hermione said, wrapping her arms around him. "It will work." He could hear the warble in her voice and her fear was a palpable thing. It was clear that even though Hermione was confident, she was terrified of the pending showdown.
Harry returned the embrace, silently telling his lover that he, too, was afraid. The two held onto each other, sharing in their fear in silence for a good long time. Needing to feel alive and loved, Harry took Hermione's face into his hands and kissed her. A few moments later, the young lovers were in their bed. There was no kinkiness this night; no spankings, nor dirty talk, just love.
They looked into each other's eyes, deep down into their souls as they made love. All of their fear and doubt had washed away, at least for the time being, in the light of their feelings for one another. There was, of course, oral sex. Harry and Hermione had become masters at cunnilingus and fellatio, respectively, and to not use these skills would have been a crying shame.
SoG SoG SoG Harry thought he was doing quite well. By the time supper had arrived the next night, he had vomited only three times. This was a point of pride for the young wizard; in a few short hours he was going to face-off against the most fear dark wizard of his time and to be physically ill three times showed just how truly brave the young wizard was.
Of course his hands trembled like a leaf in a storm, but that was excusable. Oddly, even though Harry was the one destined to face-off against Voldemort, he was fairing better than his lover and friends. Hermione, Ron and Luna were complete wrecks.
Hermione attempted to put up a brave face, but every half hour or so the thought of Harry confronting Voldemort would shattered her resolve and send the brunette witch into hysterical tears. Luna's eyes were red from crying all day long whereas Ron was as white as a sheet. The red-head was so nervous that he had not eaten a bite all day long. And seeing how his stomach was a bottomless pit, this was very telling.
After supper that night, Harry, Hermione, Luna and Ron waited in the Head Boy and Girl's Chamber for the clock to reach nine, when they would start evacuating the castle. Harry went over the plan in his head and suddenly found a slight flaw. "Oh, /bugger/." "What is it?" Hermione, who was as nervous as a long-tail kneazle in a room full of rocking chairs, asked. "We're luring Voldemort into a trap in the Chamber," Harry began as a chill descended upon his body. "What's to stop him from escaping by Apparation or Portkey out of the Chamber before the trap is sprung?" "If Snape destroys You Know Who's Portkey as planned and you destroy the Horcrux quickly, he won't have time to create another Portkey," offered Luna with a noticeable warble trying to take a small bit of confidence from the rock-solid plan.
"And the school's Anti-Apparation wards will stop them from Apparating," Ron added just as nervously. "Oh, /bugger/," cursed Hermione and her face fell. "The Anti-Apparation Ward was created in the mid-1800's. When they set up these wards around the school, they didn't know the location of the Chamber they probably didn't even believe it truly existed. The Ward doesn't extend past the dungeons it says so in /Hogwarts: a History/.
That means they don't cover the Chamber!" "That's what I was worried about," said Harry. "And knowing Voldemort, there's a very good chance that he'll probably have an extra Portkey hidden on his person just in case something goes wrong." "Why didn't I think of this before?" wailed Hermione. "Oh, I think I just peed myself," mumbled Luna. The small bit of confidence she had shattered. "This isn't good," Ron said with a squeak. "Maybe… maybe we can erect Anti-Portkey and Anti-Apparation Wards before they get here?" Luna's tone implied that she knew her logic was flawed but she was desperately attempting to salvage the plan.
"If we do that, then they won't be able to Portkey into the Chamber and the trap won't work," Hermione pointed out. "Maybe we could create the Anti-Portkey Ward after they show up," suggested Ron, hoping to be helpful.
"Then I won't be able to escape!" Harry's record of vomiting only three times was about to increase by one. Harry saw the tiny figure of Dobby shuffle out of the shadows. "Pardon Dobby, Harry Potter, sir, but's perhaps Dobby can's be helping." "How much have you heard, Dobby?" asked Harry.
"Enough's to know you's be wanting He Who Must Not Be Named to be coming into the Chamber of Secrets and you's wants to be escaping from's it buts you's wants to keep He Who Must Not Be Named to be coming out's." "That's pretty much the gist of it," Harry said. "Dobby be knowing of a spells that the Ministree be using in Azkaban calling the Prison Ward.
It's be allowing people's to enter by Apparation or's Portkeys but they can't be leaving if's the ward doesn't want's them to. It only let's one wizard or witch to be creating Portkeys that can leave's through the Prison Ward. No one's else's Portkey will be working and they's can't be Apparating out either's," the House-Elf explained. "There's a spell that can allow people to enter an area magically but won't let them leave if they don't have aPortkey that isn't made by the one person the ward recognizes," Hermione clarified excitedly.
"That's wonderful! Do you know how to cast it, Dobby?" "Normally's, House-Elves not be knowing of such spelles, for House-Elves travel different from wizards and witches we's don't be needing to know such things like the Prison Ward because wes House-Elves cans move through it likes other Anti-Apparation and Anti-Portkey wards," Dobby explained.
The House-Elf's ears lowered and he wrung his hands guiltily before continuing. "But's Dobby's former bad Master, Lucy, made Dobby learns how to be casting the Prison Ward to keep Master Lucy' special lady friend's of the evening from escaping's.
Once Dobby be done casting the ward, Master Lucy be's the only one's making Portkeys so's that Master Lucy's special lady friend's of the evening did's their duty's." Dobby then added in an undertone, much like a child repeating a curse; "Mistress Narcy called Master Lucy's special lady friend's of the evening'/nothing but dirty wars.'"/ "Dobby, can you cast this Prison Ward around the Chamber of Secrets and make it so that I'm the only one able to create a working Portkey?" asked Harry.
Dobby ears perked up and he nodded his head vigorously. The thought of aiding the Great Harry Potter sent the House-Elf to the heights of ecstasy. With tears of joy bubbling up in his eyes, he choked out; "Dobby thinks Dobby just peed himself." "It does have a nice warming effect, don't you think?" Luna asked in her usual detached fashion. "Dobby will cast the Prison Ward on the Chamber once Dobby changes Dobby's trousers!" The House-Elf vanished with a pop.
Harry announced, "All right then, lets get this over with. You three go talk with the other House-Elves so they can get everyone out of the castle. I'll go talk to McGonagall; as Headmistress, she deserves to know what's going to happen." Harry marched out of his chambers and toward the Headmistress' office.
Being Head Boy, Harry knew the password, allowing him entrance passed the stone gargoyle. He knocked on McGonagall's door and asked; "Professor, can I have a word with you?" "Certainly, Mr.
Potter. Come in," she replied. When he entered, the witch inquired, "What is it that you'd like to discuss?' Eyeing the portraits of the former Headmasters and Mistresses suspiciously, Harry said, "Could you order the portraits not to tell anyone anyone at all what I'm about to tell you?" Clearly sensing his serious tone, McGonagall said to the paintings;"As current Headmistress of Hogwarts, I order that none of you shall, for any reason, speak a word of what will be said between me and Harry Potter until I release you from this command.
Is that understood?" All but Phineas Nigellus immediately voiced their vehement agreement. Sirius' ancestor did agree not to repeat anything he heard, however his tone clearly told Harry that he was annoyed and put out by this order. Pacing back and forth before McGonagall's desk, Harry told her everything. He started out by telling her of the prophesy made before he was born that linked his and Voldemort's destinies, and how that he was their only hope of defeating the evil wizard.
He informed the Headmistress of Voldemort's Horcruxes and the search and destruction of them. Harry finished by telling her that he had a plan that would not only destroy the last Horcrux but also defeat Voldemort without even dueling the most feared wizard of his time. The Headmistress sat in stunned silence for nearly a full minute until she finally asked, "Couldn't you create a magical brace, or even another column to replace the one you have to destroy in order to save the school?" "I'm sorry, ma'am, but I really, /really/don't want to duel Voldemort," admitted Harry.
"Even though I'm strong because of power rituals, Voldemort's still has decades more experience over me. He knows, and can do, things I can't even imagine. If I duel him, I'm a dead man. And since, according to the prophesy, I'm the only person who has any chance of defeating him if I die, no one can stop him.
"I love this school, it's the closest thing I've ever had to a home," he explained. "But Voldemort is too much of a threat. Who knows how many people he will hurt and kill if he lives? If I can end Voldemort, I can save lives. But there's no way I can beat him in a one-on-one fight I'd be killed in seconds.
If I destroy the Chamber of Secrets with him in it, then I'll have ended his threat and saved countless lives. The only chance I have against him, the only chance anyone has, is if I destroy the school." McGonagall worried her lip, clearly weighing the school against saving lives. Obviously, the castle lost this debate. "Once Voldemort is gone, we'll have to rebuild the castle." "Of course, ma'am." A soft pop announced Winky's, the House-Elf, arrival in the Headmistress' office.
"It be time for Winky to be taking Heady Mack-gone-all to secret hiding place." "What? Now?" she asked stunned. "It's happening tonight?" "Sorry, I forgot to mention that," muttered Harry guiltily. "Can I at least walk the halls one last time before everything is destroyed?" requested the Headmistress.
"No's, the Chosen One be wanting everybodies not One of the Mark outs of the castle right now," Winky said, bolstered by her duty to Hermione. Before McGonagall could utter another word of protest, the House-Elf took her hand and the two disappeared with a pop. Ignoring the trembling in his knees, Harry made his way to Moaning Myrtle's loo. Besides his shaking knees, Harry paid no attention to the little nagging voice in his head that informed him that the only person to fight Voldemort and survive in a real duel was Dumbledore.
The voice continued by pointing out that the times Harry had faced Voldemort, he had escaped by sheer luck or chance. '/It's a good plan,'/ he told himself, hoping to drown out the nagging voice in his head. 'If I stick to the plan, then I won't have to fight an incredibly skilled and sadistic dueler who can kill me with two words.' "What are you doing here?" he asked when he found Hermione, Ron, Luna and Dobby waiting for him outside the second story bathroom.
"I told the House-Elves to keep everyone in the cave and not to let anyone leave or send a message until after the castle falls, just in case any of them try and warn Voldemort or his followers," Hermione, who had given up all pretense of hiding her fear, said.
Tears were flowing freely down her sickly pale cheeks. The terrified warble in her voice reminded Harry of a sound that some kind of exotic bird living in the Rainforest might make. "That's all well and good, but it doesn't explain why you're here," he repeated. "All of you should be in that cave along with everybody else." "We're here to help you out," Ron said. Like Hermione, Ron's voice trembled and wavered, making him sound like an adolescent.
"No, you /are not/," he said firmly. "Harry, you need all the hel—" Hermione began to protest. "No, I need you as far away from this as possible," he interrupted.
"I cannot do this if I'm worried that you, any of you, might get caught in the crossfire." "But Har—" began Ron. "/But/ nothing. I have to get Snape out of there and I can't worry about you at the same time!" The tone of Harry's voice told everyone that his decision was final. "Fine then, we'll wait for you outside Hagrid's hut," Hermione said. Like Harry, the tone of her voice told everyone this was not a point to contest.
"All right then, let's get this over with," Harry said. He marched up to Hermione and crushed his lips to hers. He took as much comfort and courage from that kiss as he could. "Come back to me," she said when the kiss ended. Her eyes were shimmering with tears, fear, and hope. "I will," he said, hoping that fate would not make a liar out of him. "Good luck," said Ron, giving Harry a pat on the back.
"I'll see you soon, Harry," Luna said and kissed him on the cheek. "Is the Prison Ward up?" he asked Dobby. "Yes, Harry Potter, sir." Dobby, who, like Hermione, was crying openly, wailed "Please, lets Dobby stay by yours side, Harry Potter, sir. Please. Dobby cans help Harry Potter." "No Dobby, I need you to keep an eye on my friends," Harry said. "Make sure they stay safe for me." With his lip quivering, the House-Elf replied "Yes, Harry Potter, sir.
Dobby wills make sure." Before stepping into the loo, Harry gave Hermione one last look and a lopsided smile, hoping to show her that he was brave and confident so she wouldn't have to worry so much. The moment the door closed and he was out of sight of his lover and friends, Harry let the facade drop.
His face and shoulders fell and he leaned against the door. This was it: in a few moments' time, Harry would open the entrance to the Chamber, slide down the tube, and face his destiny.
'/Stick to the plan,'/ he repeated to himself. As he slowly walked to the faucet, those four words became a mantra. '/Stick to the plan.'/ The scenario played out in his head Harry would make a Portkey, Voldemort and his minions would show up, Snape would run to Harry while Harry swung the Sword of Gryffindor at the pillar Horcrux, and then, as the roof collapsed, Harry and Snape would be whisked to safety via the Portkey.
Simple and easy and difficult to muck up, the way all plans should be. '/Stick to the Plan.'/ He bent over the basin and spoke the word "/open/" in Parsletongue.
The sink shrank away and a large hole appeared in the wall. Just before he stepped into the tube, Harry screwed up his courage. After sliding down the tube, Harry made his way to the main chamber. He was so afraid that his hands were like ice. He began to worry if this impediment would hamper his ability to hold onto the Sword much less swing it at the column properly.
Upon entering the main, cavernous chamber, Harry eyed the Horcrux column and gulped down the burning bile that had been creeping up his throat. '/Stick to the plan.'/ He glanced at his watch. Nine forty-three. He had at least fifteen minutes before Voldemort and his minions were scheduled to arrive. Taking another deep breath, Harry conjured a long branch slightly over four feet leaned it against the Horcrux column, tapped it with his wand and incanted "/Portus./" He wanted the Portkey as close as possible he didn't want to have to dive for it while the roof fell on top of his head.
Now, he waited. Soon, he'd face Voldemort for the last time. One way or the other, it would be over tonight. If everything went according to plan, Harry and Snape would be safe and away while the so-called Dark Lord was crushed beneath tons of falling rock.
He paced back and forth, rubbing his hands together, hoping to chase away the chill that had settled in them. His mind wandered to Hermione and his friends. Surely they had gotten out of the castle and to Hagrid's hut by now. The very first thing he planned on doing after this was all over was to run up to Hermione, take her in his arms and lavish her with kisses. That is, if every thing went according to planned and he got out of the Chamber alive.
Taking a calming breath, Harry repeated his mantra this time aloud. "Stick to the plan." Despite his confidence in the plan, his hands were still cold, bile still marched up his throat and his belly had clenched up into a tight little ball. Checking the time again, Harry's stomach tightened even more. It was nine forty-six. Only three minutes had passed.
"This is going to be the longest quarter hour of my life," he mumbled to himself. He just hoped it wouldn't be the last. Harry pulled out the Sword out of his robes. The heavy weight in his hands helped calm his nerves somewhat.
The plan was sound. One swing of the Sword and it would be finished. The minutes ticked by at an agonizingly slow rate. At one point Harry had wondered if his watch had stopped working. But it was just his anxiety that made time seem to slow down. Then, with a series of loud whooshing sounds, over a dozen people appeared in the Chamber before Harry. At the front of this group was none other than Voldemort himself, flanked by Wormtail to his right and Snape to his left.
Each of the new comers had a hold of a long length of rope, obviously the Portkey that had brought them here. "Potter, what are you doing here?" demanded Voldemort. He was by no means stupid Harry's presence was not a coincidence. And he was smart enough to spot a trap when he saw one. The villain quickly reached into his robes to draw his wand. Harry looked at Snape and shouted "/NOW!"/ Not knowing of the new Prison Ward prohibiting any Portkey besides Harry's from working, Snape stuck to his part of the plan.
The Potions Master tapped his wand to the rope-Portkey and it flashed in flames, destroying it, before lunging forward while Harry swung the Sword with all of his might. Harry felt the blade slice through the stone of the column like a knife through butter, destroying the final Horcrux.
Now that the main support column had been demolished, the whole chamber began to tremble instantly. As planned, Snape wrapped his hand around Harry's arm as the young wizard pivoted to face the Portkey. Harry reached out… "/CONFRINGO!"/ a cold, high voice shouted. One word and one phrase made up of a contraction and another word sprang up in Harry's head. They were "/Bollocks/" and "/I'm screwed/." The reason for this was that Voldemort had cast a Blasting Curse with the special Portkey as its target that or he had aimed directly at either Snape or Harry and the trembling, shaking ground had thrown off his aim.
Either way, the curse had turned Harry's only means of escape into a shower of splinters. There was no time to create another Portkey the whole castle would collapse and crush him in the time it would take to conjure a new item, enchant it into a Portkey, and then activate it. Harry and Snape were stuck. Massive chunks of the walls and ceiling started to break free and fall. Many Death Eaters scrambled, vainly trying to find cover. One Death Eater's scream had been cut short when one bolder crushed him, turning him into a sticky jam.
As the chamber collapsed around him, Harry took a small bit of solace in the knowledge that at least he had succeeded in ridding the world of Voldemort. A tugging sensation on the hem of his robes drew Harry's attention. He looked down into the bright green, tennis ball sized eyes of Dobby. A triumphant smile stretched across Harry's face. The Prison Ward did not affect House-Elf transportation. Dobby must've transported into the Chamber when Harry and Snape did not show up outside Hagrid's hut once the castle began to fall.
After taking Dobby's hand in his, Harry glanced back at Voldemort. The fiend was reaching out to grab Wormtail's silver hand. The next thing Harry knew, he, Snape and Dobby were standing just outside Hagrid's hut.
There was no unpleasant squeezing as in Apparation, no mad spinning as there was in Floo travel, and there was no uncomfortable hook behind the navel and tugging as there was in Portkey travel. One moment, he was in the crumbling Chamber, and the next, he was standing in a grassy field.
"Wow, elf transport is a whole lot more enjoyable than any other magical transportation," he said to himself. Remembering his vow to take Hermione in his arms, Harry spun around in order to find the witch he loved. As he turned, his eyes quickly surveyed the devastation caused by the falling of the castle. Centuries of dust had been thrown up into the air due to the ancient building's collapse; this created a dense cloud that covered the ground and reach upwards, hundreds of feet.
Even though he couldn't see a thing, Harry assumed that the Astronomy Tower would have fallen by this time, and that the walls of the castle had begun their inevitable structural failure. Ignoring the castle and its fate, Harry continued to turn until he found the woman he loved. Tears of joy cascaded down her cheeks and he couldn't wait to kiss them away. He had barely taken two steps when the joy in Hermione's eyes drained in an instant, replaced by panic.
Ron and Luna, who were standing on either side of the brunette witch, pointed over Harry's shoulder with trembling hands. Harry turned to face where his friends were pointing and his stomach fell. There, standing with his black robes billowing in the wind, with the cloud of the collapsing castle behind him, holding Wormtail's disembodied silver hand was Lord Voldemort.
"I always have an escape plan, Potter," Lord Voldemort said, with hate bubbling up in his cold voice. "Did you honestly think I'd give one of my lowly followers such a precious gift without ulterior motives?" He held up the metallic limb, clearly taking pride over his cunning.
"It's an emergency-transporter of my own design it can mimic and follow the last form of any magical travel used within a twenty foot radius and unlike most wizards, I am powerful enough to mimic even House-Elf magic.
When I created my wondrous device in this specific form to quiet that sniveling pillock, Wormtail, I knew that it might come in '/handy'/ one day." The fiend giggled at his own poor pun. "Now it's time to deal with the traitor." This was the only warning anyone got before Voldemort began firing curses. Snape grunted in pain as a massive gash was cut into him. The greasy haired wizard began to pitch forward, a fountain of blood and gore spraying from his side, just below his ribs. Harry dove at Snape.
A yellow bolt of magic rocketed by Harry, missing him by fractions of an inch, as he grabbed Snape by the shoulders. "RUN!" shouted Harry to his friends. "GET BEHIND THE TREES!" While dragging Snape behind him, Harry bolted to the tree line a few feet away, bobbing and weaving as best as he could in order to dodge Voldemort's attacks.
Unburdened, Harry's friends reached the trees a few seconds before he did. Hermione and Luna jumped behind the trunk of a massive oak while Ron and Dobby took shelter behind another.
Grunting, Harry jumped and landed with a thud just as a curse blew a chunk out of a tree next to him. As Voldemort continued to fire off a rapid series of deadly hexes, he mocked; "You've only delayed the inevitable, Harry. After I kill you and your friends, I'll rebuild my army and I will destroy everything you care about, boy." Snape coughed. Dark red blood spewed from his mouth, spattering his lips and chin. One look told Harry that his former professor did not have much time life.
The older wizard let out a shuttering breath and his eyes closed. Harry held the dying Potions Master in his arms. This was a difficult, messy task not because of the wizard's lifeblood flowing from his gaping wound that soiled Harry robes, rather the young wizard didn't want Snape's greasy hair to touch him. Harry knew that blood could come out of his clothing, but he doubted that whatever the substance in Snape's hair could ever be completely cleaned.
As he awkwardly cradled Snape, Harry wondered what he should say to the wizard. Should he forgive the man for all of his misdeeds, for all the wrongs he had committed against Harry? An explosion shook the tree behind Harry. He could see Hermione and Luna a few feet away, holding onto one another in fear and support. Suddenly, Snape's eyes snapped opened. Looking up at the boy he had persecuted for so long, Snape muttered; "I regret joining the Death Eaters." A shuttering, rattling breath escaped his lungs.
"I regret all the harm I caused through my deeds and actions. But most of all Potter, I regret not getting the chance to-" another spasming breath, ".wank to your mother's memory just one last time." As his mother's stalker's eye fluttered closed, Harry resisted the urge to drop the dying prick to the ground.
Harry was, after all, the hero and heroes do not do such things even to hated ponces who wanked over the memory of said hero's mum.
Then Snape's eyes shot open one last time. He looked deeply into Harry's brilliant green eyes and spoke, his voice was barely above a whisper. "Potter, grant me this, my dying wish: pretend to be Lily, you have her eyes after all… and you can use my blood to dye your hair red like hers… and then… touch…m—" Thankfully, the fates interceded and took Snape to the Next Great Adventure before he could give voice to complete his final request.
Of course, Harry had wished that they had taken the arsehole a few moments before, that way the young wizard would not have been scarred by what he had been asked to do. "I know this is wrong of me to say, but God I hated that prick," Harry said, letting the still warm corpse slide to the ground with less dignity than a hero of his stature should have. "Well, at least he was in so much denial that he couldn't see that he was truly attracted to your father and not your mother, as proof of his Patronus," Hermione said from her nearby cover, having the misfortune to have overheard Snape's dying words.
"Otherwise, his last request could have been significantly more awkward." Another blast from Voldemort shattered a tree trunk no more than five feet away from Harry.
It was obvious that the villain was toying with his prey. "Yeah, that greasy bastard's death was tragic and all, but what the bloody hell are we going to do now?" Ron demanded frantically.
"Let's make another Portkey and escape!" offered Luna, her eyes even wider than normal. "No, we don't know if Voldemort could use Wormtail's hand to follow us again," Hermione said. "Besides, it has to end now," Harry said. He stood and squared his shoulders, ready to face his destiny. He took one step from behind the tree with his wand already raised and prepared to fire a curse when the ground a foot in front of his feet exploded.
The concussion of the blast threw Harry back, slamming him against another tree. With his head still spinning from the blow, he overheard Ron exclaim;"What about Harry's power boosts? He could just lean around the tree and blast You Know Who to kingdom come." "Dear, you're forgetting that You Know Who's has gone through his own power boosting rituals. And he's got decades worth of fighting experience over Harry!" explained Luna.
"Even if Harry had more power than him, You Know Who would still have enough skill to easily block and counter anything Harry threw at him!" Voldemort, still launching Blasting Hexes at Harry and his friends in a sadistically playful manner, called out "I don't know how you found out about my Horcrux, but you've lost, Harry. You have only destroyed one of my Horcruxes! I have four more hidden where you'll never find them!" He added bitterly, "I'd have five if Lucius wasn't an idiot and lost my diary." Harry quickly gestured to his friends to remain silent.
He feared that if one of them let slip that they had in fact destroyed all of Voldemort's Horcruxes, the dark wizard, who was terrified of his own mortality, would retreat and this opportunity to end Voldemort's reign of death and terror would be lost. Suddenly, Harry saw something spark in Hermione's eyes. She locked eyes with him and said, "Harry, I'm pregnant." The young wizard looked at the witch he loved.
Her eyes were full of dread, worry, doubt and something that made Harry believe she had done something terribly, terribly wrong.
He assumed that she had forgotten to recast her Anti-Conception Charm and this was the cause for this odd expression. "I'm pregnant, Harry," she repeated with the same look of worry, dread and odd guilt. "What?
Do you expect some sort of congratulations from us?" Ron asked, piercingly. "Congratulations, Hermione," Luna said earnestly. "I hope we live through this so I can throw you a baby shower." The world faded away for Harry. His mind left Voldemort and the destruction around him and entered a world where Hermione was expecting. In his mind's eye, Harry saw Hermione a few months from now, her belly large and round. He had his hands on her stomach, feeling the baby kick and move inside her womb.
His mind flashed forward and he imagined holding his and Hermione's baby a few moments after he or she was born. His mind raced, coming up with possible names for his child. Another explosion rocked the ground and violently drew Harry out of his daydream.
He looked at Hermione. He had to stop Voldemort. Harry had to do it, for his family for his and Hermione's unborn child. As Harry stood, he focused on his love for Hermione and their child.
A powerful golden light once again emanated from his body. Shimmering rays floated from his body and coiled and undulated like tendrils. "Not this again. Not the pure love thing," moaned Ron. "It makes me feel funny! And I really don't think now is a time to feel funny!" "Now's the perfect time," Harry said, stepping out from behind the trees. With the thought of his future family warming his heart and soul, Harry drew up his wand.
"What's this?" asked Voldemort, confused by the strange golden glow surrounding Harry. The knowledge that his child was growing in Hermione's womb had allowed Harry to tap fully into his love core more so than ever before.
This incredible power coursed through him, making his body burn. He could feel his feet hovering an inch above the ground as he slowly walked toward his target.
Overcoming his confusion, Voldemort launched a lethal cutting curse directly at Harry's throat. The silver crescent of magic soared through the air and struck the glow encapsulating Harry with a reverberating clang.
The curse shattered like crystal, leaving the young wizard unscathed. Voldemort's red eyes burned with hatred. He raised his wand and his mouth opened, ready to spit out another incantation. Before any sound could leave his lips, one of the golden tendrils that extended from the glow surrounding Harry lashed out, slashing Voldemort across the hand.
The villain cried out and recoiled. A dark burn mark smoldered where the tendril had touched his skin. Clutching his burnt hand to his chest, Voldemort hissed "I took your blood!
The cursed blood protection shouldn't harm me anymore!" "That's not the blood protection, that's the power of love," Harry said. Harry heard his best mate gripe, "If I wasn't scared shiteless right now, I'd think that was the lamest thing I've ever heard one bloke say to another." Harry eyed the damage to Voldemort's hand. The pure power that emanated from his body hurt Voldemort. It was feasible that he could actually kill Voldemort with it.
He just needed to focus the power somehow. A spell, perhaps, that would concentrate the pure love Harry felt and launched it at Voldemort. Harry smiled. He already knew a spell that concentrated pure emotions: the Patronus Charm. The Patronus was powered by pure happiness. If he could focus the love he felt into the charm, he could direct it at Voldemort. Hermione had actually theorized that he could use a Patronus as a weapon against Voldemort a few weeks previously.
Of course, Ron had also theorized at the same time that Harry could defeat Voldemort with an Expelliarmus Charm, but Harry thought that Hermione's theory had the support of logic and intelligence behind it.
With the image of him sitting on a bed next to Hermione as he held their newborn baby, Harry pointed his wand at Voldemort and shouted,"/EXPECTO PATRONUM!"/ His wand jerked in recoil as a giant, glimmering stag leapt from the tip of the weapon. It was larger and more brilliant than any Patronus Harry had ever conjured before. He could feel the pure love super-charge the energy in the stag. The magical animal's hooves pounded silently on the ground as it charged, full-bore, at Voldemort.
It lowered its head, pointing its sharp antlers at the fiend's chest, and crashed into the snake-like wizard. The moment the stag struck Voldemort, the Patronus exploded and engulfed the dark wizard in flames. Voldemort reared his head back and screamed in utter agony. The flames swallowed him the power of love literally burned the man who knew nothing but hate.
Through the flames, Harry saw Voldemort's flesh blacken and large chunks fall to the earth where they burned to ash. He also saw pure hate and anger in his foe's red-eyes. Knowing this may be his final act, Voldemort focused all of his rage and hate on Harry.
He leveled his wand at the black-haired wizard and screamed "/AVADA KEDAVRA!"/ Just as the Patronus was the embodiment of pure joy, the Killing Curse was pure hate to cast it properly, someone had to hate their target enough to kill them. And, just as Harry's power sprang forth from his love, Voldemort's came from hatred, giving the fiend a true knack for the Unforgivable. The green bolt blazed through the air, rocketing at Harry. It moved so rapidly, the young wizard did not have time to react.
The dreaded curse hit its target. But, just as his mother's pure love had shielded him from the Killing Curse when he was a toddler, the pure love that surrounded Harry right now had the same effect. Whereas Lily had sacrificed herself out of love and thereby shielded her son, Harry's shield was powered by the thought of his family Hermione and their child and had the same power as Lily's sacrifice.
The green beam of magic struck the golden shield and rebounded upon its caster, just as it had over fifteen years before. The power of the rebounded Killing Curse combined with the magical fire which had engulfed him turned Voldemort into a pile of soot in an instant. Harry stared at the smoldering pile of ashes that used to be the monster who murdered his family and hunted him his whole life.
As he watched the smoke rise up into the air, Harry realized that this pile that used to be Voldemort had done far more than kill his family he had terrorized an entire society for a generation. He had murdered, tortured and maimed countless people. And now he was gone. He wouldn't be coming back like he had done previously.
Voldemort was truly and completely dead this time, thanks to Harry's success in finding and destroying all of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
Harry continued to stare at the ashes for a full minute, letting the awe of his victory wash over him, before shouting "I WON! I BLOODY EFFING WON!" Hermione was the first to rush out from her protective cover. She leapt at Harry and threw her arms around his neck, sobbing in joy that he lover was alive.
Ron, Luna and Dobby quickly joined the embrace with the red-head shouting "You did it! You bloody did it!" over and over. Suddenly, every single member of the Order of the Phoenix appeared around Harry and his friends, each one holding onto various objects that had obviously been turned into Portkeys. McGonagall rushed forward and said "The moment Hogwarts fell, the House-Elves let us go and I Apparated to Grimmauld Place and activated the emergency beacon!" "We all popped over and Minerva told us what was going on.
We got here as quickly as we could," added Tonks. "Where are they?" demanded Mad-Eye Moody, ready and eager to hex someone. "Where are the Death Eaters and You Know Who?" Hermione, Ron, Luna and Dobby looked to Harry. Each one assumed that since Harry was the hero of the hour, it was his right to tell everyone of the defeat of the most feared wizard of their time.
With a joyous smile splitting his face cleanly in two, Harry cried out "I'M GOING TO BE A DADDY!" Hermione let go of Harry and instantly began wringing her hands. Harry was too delirious over the joy he felt to notice this small, but guilty action.
"Really? That's fantastic!" Arthur Weasley said with naked excitement. "Oh, what wonderful news!" added Molly Weasley, looking at Hermione questioningly.
"Yeah, yeah, congratulations," Moody said dismissively. "Now where's the Death Eater Scum?" The old Auror was clearly aching to hex someone.
"They're all dead!" announced Ron. "What about Voldemort?" asked Remus Lupin. "Erm, you're stepping in him, Professor Lupin," Luna replied, pointing at the pile of soot and ash around Remus' feet.
"It's over?" Tonks asked. "He's finally dead?" "Yeah, and he's not coming back this time!" cheered Ron. "This calls for a celebration!" cried Kingsley Shacklebolt. "I'm going to be a dad!" repeated Harry. This news was obviously far more important to him than Voldemort's defeat. "I think this calls for a double celebration!" Arthur said, bristling with pride.
"For the defeat of You Know Who, and to celebrate Harry and Hermione's joyous news!" Harry felt a tear roll down his cheek while Hermione began to chew on her lower lip almost frantically.
"Let's go to the Three Broomsticks and break open a case of Fire-Whiskey!" announced Remus as he gave Harry a congratulatory pat on the back.
"So Harry, who's going to be the godfather of your baby?" he asked, hoping to be the one the young wizard had in mind. "Not gonna happen, Remus, that job's going to his best mate, yours truly," Ron said, thumbing himself in the chest as nearly everyone standing outside Hagrid's hut began making their way to the School's gates.
"I can' wait till I get to take yer kid on his firs' year boat ride ta the castle," Hagrid said to Harry with happy tears flowing freely. "'Course we'll have ta rebuild tha' castle." Harry let his friends congratulate him and offer name suggestions for his baby as they walked out of the gates and down into the streets of Hogsmede. Meanwhile… Just outside Hagrid's hut, Hermione stood, wringing her hands and worrying her lip madly.
She stared, wide-eyed, at some unknown point far off in the distance. The only other people with her, Molly Weasley and Tonks, stood a few feet away from the distraught witch, conferring beneath their breath to one another. After a moment of discussion, Molly jotted anote down on a piece of parchment. Then the two walked up to the brunette witch. "Hermione dear, do you have something to tell us?" asked Molly.
"I'm a horrible, horrible person," Hermione wailed. "You're not horrible," Tonks consoled her. "But I lied to Harry. I lied to him in the most horrific way!" Even though Hermione had lied to Harry in order for him to fully access his power to defeat Voldemort, she felt as if she was lower than the lowest animal.
"It doesn't have to be a lie," offered Molly. "Just a delay in the truth," added Tonks. "What do you mean?" "Here," Molly said, handing Hermione the note. "The first is a spell that cancels out all anti-conception charms. The other is a charm that will help you ovulate." "Mind you it's not as good as the Prewitt Ritual you and Harry accidentally tricked me and Remus into performing," Tonks commented, "but I think Harry might get a little suspicious if you pop the baby out in a couple of weeks like I did." "Now, you perform these two charms and ride Harry like a pony," Molly said with a smile.
Both Tonks and Hermione looked at the Weasley matron in surprise. "Oh please, you don't get to have seven children by being chaste. "As I was saying, you have your way with Harry which I'm sure he won't mind in the slightest every day and night until you change that lie into a '/delayed truth,'/as Tonks called it," concluded Molly "Basically, shag him until you really do get knocked up," clarified Tonks.
"Nymphadora Tonks," Molly said, scathingly. "What? You used the term 'ride Harry like apony' and you're mad at me?" defended Tonks.
"I'm upset that you used such a foul word," the red-head said. She smiled at Hermione and added with a happy lilt, "Didn't you know it's improper to curse in front of a mother-to-be?' Hermione looked at the charms Molly and Tonks had given her before saying, "Or at least a mother-to-be-/shortly/." To Be Concluded…