He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best
Disclaimer – Harry Potter and its affiliates are the sole property of JK Rowling.
Disclaimer – Merlin and Morgan Le Fey are characters in History and Myth. They do not belong to me either.
Disclaimer – Sun Runner abilities are the property of Melanie Rawn.
Note – You folks are awesome. You send me many wonderful reviews. I am happy that so many of you are enjoying my story. I am down to the last seven chapters before I start my slash. I already have the outline of it ready to go. Thanks for the wonderful insight you all are giving me.
Chapter 14 – He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best
The training for Dudley started. The patience that the youngest Dursley learned over his time working with orphaned wizard children paid off. He was thoroughly enjoying immersing himself into his studies. By the end of the term, Dudley had gotten through most of his first year studies. Harry was reading some reports from the professors that stated that he was a natural. They enjoyed working with him so much, that many offered extra lessons and wanted to work with him over the summer so that he could skip his second year all together and move right into third year. Harry enjoyed reading these reports. He sent copies of each report to Vernon and Petunia who were thrilled to hear that their son was progressing so well. Harry sat many an evening testing Dudley on many things. Harry was specifically working with Dudley on Legilimency, Occlumency, and wandless magic. These were areas that Harry was stronger than everyone else. Dudley showed an aptitude for Legilimency, but was failing miserably with the opposite. Hermione reported that Dudley and Petunia both mastered running on the light quickly. Harry knew that Dudley would talk to his mother daily and let her know everything that was going on while he was in school. Owls would come in regularly for him offering encouragement and congratulations from his parents. On one particular evening Harry was working with Dudley on Occlumency. It was not long before Harry shattered what little concentration Dudley had. It was like he had no resistance.
"Dudley," said Harry. "I am exerting little effort to shatter your shields. You seem to be getting Legilimency just fine. However when someone tries to enter your mind, you attempt to put up a resistance and then just let it drop. Is there something you wish to discuss with me?"
"To be honest Harry," he replied. "I am scared of that particular gift. Didn't you say that, that Voldemert person used these gifts on you as a form of punishment?"
"Voldemort," corrected Harry absently. "Yes his gift for using Legilimency was strong and he could get around my shields easy. After that summer with my tumble down the stairs, I learned quickly how to shield my mind from him. I am afraid that I may have to send you to Severus to train in Occlumency. I think our emotional ties might have something to do with your lack of force behind your shields."
"Do you think Professor Snape will be able to help?" asked Dudley.
"Oh I am sure that he can," replied Harry. "He was my first instructor in the art. However I warn you that he can be ruthless. He will not be a gentle as I am."
"If you think it would help, then I will work with him on it," said Dudley nonchalantly.
"Very well then," said Harry. "I'll ask him to start working with you on it. Draco, Hermione, Minerva, Pomona, and Neville all tell me that you are somewhere between exceeds expectation and outstanding in all of your tests and homework and such. Luna tells me that you are a natural. Severus is particularly pleased with your ability at DADA. So in all of your classes you are doing well. The only one you are failing is Occlumency."
"Yeah," said Dudley. "I really enjoy my classes. It is fascinating to be able to do some of the things you can do. I know I will never be a match for you, but from what I am to understand, no one really is. Even that Albus person is not match for you anymore."
Harry chuckled. He pulled out a piece of parchment and wrote a letter to Severus. He rolled it up and handed it to Dudley.
"This is your request for Occlumency with Severus," he said. "He usually stays for the summer. So you will have all summer for that. Hermione, Draco and I will work with you on other subjects as well. Draco will teach you potions and flying. Hermione will work with you on charms and transfiguration. Severus will work with you on Occlumency and DADA. I will work with you on Divination and COMC. I need you to work harder on your astronomy classes. Right now you are barely passing that subject."
"Mom seems interested in astronomy as well," remarked Dudley. "Maybe she and I can study it together."
"I will allow that on one condition," said Harry seriously. "That you bring your grade up to at least between acceptable and exceeds expectations. I do not want you to fail any subject. Remember that I have extensive knowledge of every subject in the curriculum. All you have to do is ask someone. We are more than happy to help you. By the way, how did your Animagus session go?"
"I will not be an Animagus," said Dudley a little disappointed. "Professor McGonagall said there was no shape in the potion, or something like that."
"Animagus are not something that is a common thing," assured Harry. "We were not sure that I would be an Animagus either. Then when I became a teacher we found out that once again I am an exception to most rules. I can change into five different animals."
"Wow Harry," said Dudley. "That must be exciting."
"It has become second nature for me," said Harry with a shrug. "Now off to dinner. Tomorrow is the last day, and I have awards to prepare and such. Don't forget to give that to Severus."
"Thanks for everything Harry," said Dudley with a smile.
"You are more than welcome Dudley," said Harry sincerely.
Dudley got up and left. He made his way down to the Great Hall for dinner. He spotted Severus and walked over to him and handed him the parchment. Severus read it quickly and arranged with Dudley that they would work on it at the same time as they were working on DADA. Dudley thanked him and walked over to the first year table and sat down. Harry came in a few minutes later and the tables filled with food. After dinner, Dudley made his way to the entrance hall. He was going to go for a walk around the lake and think things through. He was having an enjoyable evening. As he was about to step outside, he walked right into a blond haired woman who was hurrying into the castle.
"Are you ok?" asked Dudley helping her to regain her balance. "I am so sorry. I should have watched where I was going a bit better."
"Yes I'm fine," said the girl breathlessly. "Do you happen to know where the Head Master is?"
"Harry went back up to his office," he replied. "Is something wrong?"
"Would you escort me please," she said. "I have some important information to deliver to him."
"Sure Miss," said Dudley politely offering his arm. "I am Dudley Dursley by the way. Harry and I are related."
"I am Gabrielle Delacour," she responded. "I am part of Harry's extended family."
"Nice to meet you Miss Delacour," he said leading the way to Harry's office.
When they got to the gargoyle standing guard over the entrance, Dudley gave the password. The statue moved aside and together they went up. Dudley knocked on the door, and it opened for him. Harry was standing there in a trance. Gabrielle knew what was going on in an instant. She quickly told Dudley to gather other runners, and opened her channels to assist Harry. Dudley knew of only one person in the castle who would know what to do and quickly weaved a message to Draco. Within a few moments, people were running into the office. Gabrielle was unconscious on the floor. Draco and Severus quickly wove a pattern and collected everyone needed. Dudley did not know what he could do to help. Neville came in followed by Poppy. Neville quickly explained that Harry was in a fight on the light and that it would be safer for Dudley to just let it happen. Poppy quickly ran her wand over Gabrielle.
"Let's get her to the hospital wing," said Poppy. "She is not hurt. She is just knocked out. Apparently someone in the weave rudely threw her out."
"You can get thrown out of a weave and knocked unconscious?" asked Dudley.
"Yes and it isn't pleasant," said Neville. "Actually it is quite painful. It is even worse when Harry does it. He can knock you out cold for a few days at a time."
"Remind me to never upset Harry on the light," said Dudley carrying Gabrielle.
Poppy and Neville chuckled for a few moments.
"Do you know what happened?" asked Neville.
"Not really," admitted Dudley. "Gabrielle asked me to escort her to Harry's office. When we knocked, the door opened and Harry was in a trance of some sort. She asked me to get help and did something with her colors. I sent for the Potions Master. A few moments later Gabrielle screamed and was as you see her now."
"Harry must have been fighting with Lilith again," muttered Poppy. "When the three strongest Dark Runners team up, they give Harry a run for his money. Their strategy is to try and get him when he is busy or alone. So far they have been unsuccessful. He must have been doing something that called for a lot of mind power before dinner. He must have been tired for them to catch him so easily."
"Yes he was working with me on Occlumency and Legilimency before dinner," said Dudley embarrassed. "I am not good at Occlumency. This is my fault."
"This is NOT your fault," said Harry entering the room. "They were waiting for me to be tired. It would have happened eventually anyway. They used to attack me in my sleep, but many of the runners in the castle watch for that sort of thing. We take turns watching for attacks on the occupants of the castle. This is another reason why Draco did not pull you into the weave. We want to keep you a secret from Lilith and Terry."
"She wanted to tell you something Harry," said Dudley concerned. "We never got the time."
"I think it has something to do with the job her and her sister is working on," stated Harry. "They are working to catch an escaped criminal."
"Oh you mean that Worm guy?" asked Dudley.
"Wormtail, yes," said Harry automatically. "You are pretty up to date on your history it seems. How long will she be here Poppy?"
"Until she wakes up and I am sure she is ok," replied the nurse. "She was hit pretty hard. Who did it?"
"Viktor," said Harry angrily. "I owe that traitor."
Gabrielle came around groggily. She looked surprised to see everyone leaning over her. Poppy ran her wand over her again.
"You seem to be fine, but I want you to lay here for a little while until you get your bearings again," said Poppy to her kindly. "You were hit pretty hard from the looks of it. If you want something for your head I have something."
"No I am fine," Gabrielle said. "Harry you have to meet Fleur. They caught the rat."
"Where are they at?" Harry asked at once.
"Near some huge acromantulas," said Gabrielle. "Hurry she may be in danger."
"Oh no," was all Harry said before he apparated away.
Harry appeared in his office. Draco and Severus were still there talking. Harry walked up to the two men and grabbed an arm and apparated them to the glen.
"Aragog," called Harry. "Are you awake?"
"I am Harry Potter," said the spider coming into view. "What can I do for you this evening?"
"Please tell me that your family did not harm a veela," begged Harry.
"No Harry Potter," said the spider. "She is being looked after. She was hurt pretty bad. When my wife found her, she was in battle with a little man. Mosag is still with her. They are about three hundred yards north of here."
"Thank you for not hurting her," said Harry. "Is the man still alive?"
"For the moment," said Aragog. "I think I will let Mosag tell you the story. Hurry though. My children are getting hungry."
Harry touched the extended leg of Aragog and then he, Draco, and Severus rushed out of the glen heading north. About twenty minutes later, they rushed into the area where Mosag was guarding both Fleur and Wormtail. Harry quickly stunned Wormtail and rushed up to Mosag.
"Thank you for keeping her alive," said Harry to the spider. "She is important to the fight."
"It is my pleasure Harry Potter," replied the female spider. It was not easy with her bleeding to keep my children away, but they are leaving her alone because of me."
"You have my gratitude," said Harry quickly running his wand over Fleur.
"She was hit with a cutting curse," hissed Severus angrily. "We have to get her back to the castle."
"You take her," said Harry with his brow furrowed in concentration. "I have the wards down. I need you to apparate her directly to the infirmary please. Draco, stay with me."
Severus grabbed Fleur and turned on the spot. When harry knew he was at the infirmary, he let the wards snap back into place.
"What is that horrible smell?" asked Draco suddenly. "It smells like cattle."
Harry stood up quickly with his wand out. He surveyed the area carefully. Draco was slightly alarmed. Harry was known to only pull his wand when he was angry or seriously threatened. Harry was a master at wandless magic. He only pulled his wand when he needed it. Draco quickly pulled his own wand out.
"Minotaurs," he said viciously. "What are they doing back here again? Draco, go find the centaurs and put out the hunting party. It's time to rid the area of the bull men again."
Draco nodded and turned on the spot and left Harry alone with Mosag. She was getting a little riled.
"What's wrong Mosag?" asked Harry placing a calming hand on her leg.
"We do not like the bull men Harry Potter," she replied.
"Watch my back for a moment," aid Harry. "Let's see what this traitor has to say."
"Just hurry Harry," she said.
"Enervate," said Harry.
Peter's eyes flew open. When he saw Mosag over Harry's shoulder, he started screaming.
"Shut up traitor," said Harry with a snarl. "I have a few questions for you. If at any time I feel like you are lying to me, and be assured I will know, then I will let her eat you."
"What ever Harry," he squealed. "Just keep it away from me."
Harry could hear the children of Mosag and Aragog coming through the bush. In Harry's peripheral vision he saw the spiders come up and stand near him.
"Are you responsible for the Minotaurs being in the forest?" Harry asked.
"Yes," said Peter laughing. "I am responsible for that. They should be here shortly. They love to kill veela."
"How many are there?" asked Harry. "How many veela are hurt because of you?"
"Oh about 200 Minotaurs," said Peter laughing again. "I'm sure that some of your veela are in a bit of trouble by this time."
Draco came back at that last sentence and looked at Peter in disgust. He was followed by a dozen centaurs.
"Mosag and Ronan," said Harry quickly. "Search the forest for any hurt veela. Bring them to me here in this section of the forest. Feel free to kill or eat any Minotaur in our forest. Draco, I need you to go and get Severus. He is the best thing we have to Madam Pomfrey. I will work on any hurt veela in the mean time."
"It's to late Harry Potter," said Peter laughing again. "Nothing you can do will stop them. If you hurt me, then you will not know where the missing citizens of the forest are."
"Wanna bet?" asked Harry with a laugh of his own. "Voldemort was not the best at Legilimency. I AM!"
With that, Harry dove into Wormtail's mind. He searched every crevice for the information he wanted. When he had the information that he needed, he came out with a sadistic smile.
"There is a cave about 50 miles north of here," Harry informed the centaurs and spiders. "There are our missing citizens of the forest. When Draco gets back, I will send him to free them. Mosag, you should know that they were able to capture some of your children."
Draco and Severus popped in at that moment. Harry quickly confirmed what each person or creature should do and sent them on their way. Ronan and Mosag would stay to guard Harry and Severus while they worked on the veela. Harry quickly wove a pattern on the light searching. He found Albus in his office and told him what was going on. Within moments, Albus was in the clearing with a dozen Aurors and a few healers from St. Mungo's. Quickly the Aurors set up the perimeter. Albus walked over to Mosag and entered into a quiet conversation with her. Peter whimpered miserably in the ferns. He was unable to escape even if he transformed into his rat form. The webbing that surrounded him was to strong for that. It was then that the first few veela were brought in. Soon after, hurt centaurs and acromantulas were then brought in. When Buckbeak and Whinny were brought in, Harry was furious.
"You kidnapped MY hippogriff's parents?" he thundered at Peter. "Plus you took the unicorn that blessed Hagrid's tomb. What kind of monster are you?"
Peter just laughed in a maniacal sort of way. He did not even bother to respond to Harry's fury. Harry bent over the leg of Buckbeak and worked to save the leg. It must have been hours. Of the one hundred veela, twenty seven were injured. Three were killed. Of the unicorns and hippogriffs, Harry and the teams were able to save them all. Firenze died a few hours later of his injuries.
Harry walked over to a laughing Peter and punched him square in the mouth. Albus and the other Aurors did not bother to stop Harry.
"He was my friend," said Harry. "Because of you, someone else that I loved was betrayed and killed. YOU OWE ME YOUR LIFE. NOW I WANT PAYMENT IN FULL."
"Harry," said Albus calmly. "You have the full backing of the Ministry of Magic to pass sentence on this traitor. What ever you decide to do with him will be acknowledged by and accepted by this panel of jury before you."
"What is Harry going to do?" asked Peter laughing. "Kill me? He has too much conscience for that. James would not have wanted Harry to kill me. Therefore, Harry will not kill me. I get the last laugh here."
"That's what you think," said Harry in a deadly quiet voice. "You are correct in one thing and one thing only. I will not kill you. You only think you have the last laugh. He, who laughs last, laughs best. I will have no trouble sleeping tonight for this next decision."
"What would that be Harry," said Peter smirking a little. "Going to send me back to Azkaban where I will escape again?"
"Oh no," said Harry starting to giggle. "I have something a lot better in mind for you."
Harry turned toward the crowd of people and creatures before him. Draco and Albus each walked over to him and took one of his outstretched hands. Severus walked over and kissed him on the forehead.
"For crimes against the centaurs, his life is forfeit," began Harry. "Bane, Magorian, and Ronan, do you agree with this?"
"Yes Harry Potter," said Bane for the group. "In this, your ruling we will uphold."
"For the pain and suffering caused to the unicorns, hippogriffs, and acromantulas, his life is forfeit," continued Harry. "Does anyone dispute this?"
Human and creature alike agreed with Harry.
"For the deaths of many acromantulas as well as our veela sisters, I hereby condemn Peter Pettigrew to death," said Harry.
"What are you going to kill me?" asked a giggling Wormtail. "You know you won't do it."
"Maybe not," said Harry. "However I laugh last and I laugh best. Madam Mosag, may I offer you an appetizer?"
Silence could be heard in the clearing. Harry started laughing out loud. It was quickly picked up by the others as well as the acromantulas, veela, and centaurs in the forest. A shriek could be heard as Mosag quickly grabbed Peter and moved into the forest to eat her prize. The death of some of her children by the command of this person was reason enough for her to end his life.
Harry sat down heavily and started to cry. This was the first time he had ever condemned someone to death before. Draco, Severus, and Albus, quickly sat near him and tried to comfort him as best as they could. Ronan and Bane bent their knees and sat on the ground next to Harry. The unicorns both touched their horns to Harry's hand and then disappeared into the forest. Buck Beak and Whinny stayed with the group. They knew Harry and Albus. Buck Beak kept pulling strands of Harry's hair as he cried. The healers took care of the remaining injured. Many had small wounds that were healed quickly. Those that were seriously injured were then transported to St. Mungo's. Moody arranged for the transport of the three dead to go back to the castle. During all of this, Harry just sat there and cried. Finally when he had no tears left, he sat up and leaned back into the comforting embrace of Draco and Severus' arms.
"Harry," said Albus quietly. "I am so sorry that you had to do that. We all know how you feel about every life. To you it doesn't matter if the life is human or not. You have befriended the centaurs, the acromantulas, and even the unicorns. As their protector you did what you had to do. We all know that Peter is very skilled at escaping. You did the only thing you could do to ensure that he would never escape and hurt anyone or any creature ever again."
"It still hurts Albus," said Harry.
"On this day," said Magorian. "You will be forever an honored member of the centaur tribe. You have proven that your love of life and your care for every living thing strong and profound. If you ever need us brother, all you have to do is ask."
"Thanks Magorian," said Harry. "The same works in reverse. All you have to do is send word to me at the castle and I will do everything in my power to help you."
Ronan and Bane patted Harry on the back. Mosag had come back and she was chattering with her children.
"The same goes for us Harry Potter," she said. "I speak for my entire family when I say that in the future we will hold trespassers until we know if they are your family or not. You have done us a great service by providing protection to all that live in the forest this day. My children all agree to help protect you."
Harry lifted a hand and laid it gently on Mosag's massive limb. She clicked at him for a moment and then backed up.
"We have some work to do Harry Potter," she said. "There are enemies in the forest that we must deal with. Know that the bull men will not come out of this alive."
"Happy hunting Mosag," said Harry in farewell. "I hope that you all have a glorious feast today. Just remember to bring one or two back for Aragog."
The spiders left quickly. Each of Mosag's children lifted a leg to Harry in salute. He returned each and every one as did Albus, Severus, and Draco.
"We too must help rid the forest of these evil creatures," said Bane standing. "We will talk to you again soon brother."
Harry shook his hand and then the three centaurs left to gather the rest of the heard for a hunting party. Harry turned to Buck Beak and Whinny.
"Time to get the rest of your flock and help out," Harry told them. "It is time for our forest to be ours again."
Buck Beak and Whinny both bowed low to Harry and left.
Harry was feeling a little better. He helped the group clean up the rest of the mess that was in the clearing. It would not do for there to be litter in the forest. As they were cleaning up Moody looked around with a small frustrated snarl.
"What's wrong Alastor?" asked Albus.
"Blaise is missing," he stated. "He was kidnapped, from the looks of this scuffle here."
"Oh no!" exclaimed Harry and Draco at the same time. They immediately started weaving on the light. They found nothing. Dejected, both young men came back and reported their lack of information.
"Not to worry Head Master," said Moody. "We will find him. I actually feel kind of bad for those that took him."
"Not half as bad as they will feel for taking him," Harry promised.
Author's note – How is that for a cliff hanger? Who took Blaise and why. For that matter why did they take him? Stay tuned for the next chapter and find out. "Ring Around the Slytherin"