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19 Years by marauder5
Chapter 57: Year 6: Hogwarts Again
For most former students, Hogwarts was a Pensieve full of memories. Only two days after New Year’s Eve, Parvati Patil felt as though she was watching a scene from the past as she walked through the corridor where she had had her first kiss with a Hufflepuff in the year above her, and she smiled at the portraits on the wall as she passed the very spot where they had stood. The portraits looked at her as though they knew, but she doubted that they would remember; after all, it was a quiet corridor, perfect for snogging sessions – they must have witnessed thousands of them throughout the years. Just a minute or so after Parvati had disappeared behind a corner, Zacharias Smith appeared in that same corridor, remembering very vividly how he had pushed younger students aside to get out of Hogwarts before the Battle would begin; for that very reason, he had not attended any of the memorial ceremonies on the second of May, and thus, this was his first time back in the castle since he had graduated. Flora and Hestia Carrow ran into Professor Slughorn on their way to the Great Hall and started reminscing about the Slug Club meetings during their last couple of years in school (Professor Slughorn were very eager to tell them that he kept in touch with many of their fellow club members – “It was just a couple of years ago that Harry Potter himself invited me to his birthday party! And did I tell you that young Mr McLaggen is already making a name for himself within the Ministry? He wrote me just the other week to tell me…”)
George saw his brother Fred in the corridors each time he blinked; he saw his grinning face as they were soaring towards the grand entrance on their broomstick the day they decided to leave Hogwarts, or his glowing eyes as they ran side by side from Filch, or those same eyes, empty, no longer seeing.
Theodore Nott, who had lost weight in the last few months, whose hair seemd to be thinning out even though he was only in his mid-twenties, and whose skin was paler than ever, walked into the Great Hall, seeing not the four long tables or the old friends gathering around them that were really there, but the last time he had seen his father outside of Azkaban. The Great Hall had been almost completely destroyed back then, and all around them, people were bleeding, crying, or tending to someone with more severe wounds their own. Mr Nott’s hands had been chained together, and an Auror had been leading him away. He had kept his eyes on the floor, not even looking up at Theo as they passed him by.
Now, Theo blinked, pushing aside the image of his father looking so weak and defeated, and steered his steps towards the Slytherin table. Draco caught his eyes and motioned for him to come sit with him. He did, ending up next to Daphne Greengrass and nodding at her little sister, who sat across from her.
On the other side of the Great Hall, the Potters had just walked in (or rather, at least in Ginny’s case, waddled. George had recently given her the nickname Duck, because of how much she resembled one whenever she moved.) She was very pregnant, and very sick of it. Only that morning, she had lashed out at Harry for trying to encourage her in saying that a Hogwarts reunion was just what she needed to take her mind off of her swollen feet and aching back.
“Next time we have a baby, you’re going to be the one to carry it,” she had sputtered, “and then we’ll see how much you will want to go out when you weigh twice as much as you used to, and your ligaments are stretching and you can’t even sleep at night because you have contractions…”
“I know it’s hard,” Harry had tried, “but–“
“No you don’t! You don’t have the slightest idea what it’s like!” Ginny had responded, pushing away the arms he was trying to slide around her waist. “I can’t even walk properly! And don’t you dare mention the word ‘duck,’ because I swear I won’t hesitate to hex you…”
At that point, Harry had suddenly remembered that he needed to be at work early, and had left her to calm down, but sent Mrs Weasley to check on her around lunchtime. Ginny had still been in a pretty sour mood after discovering, when she had tried to enlarge the dress she had been planning to wear that night, that her magic was acting up again, and her nicely cut, simple dress was now about the size of a four-person tent. Not that it mattered much anymore, because she thought anything she wore lately – no matter how nicely cut – made her look like a whale.
“Don’t be silly,” Mrs Weasley had said when she had complained about it. “There is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman. Actually, some would say it’s the most–“
“Don’t say it’s the most magical time of a woman’s life,” Ginny warned her. “Hermione gave me a book with that title and I’ve already burnt it. There is absolutely nothing magical about not being able to put my own socks on, or about feeling like I can’t breathe anymore because the baby is pushing on my lungs, or–“
“Once they place him in your arms, all of those things will be forgotten,” Mrs Weasley said. “Why else do you think I would have agreed to do it six times?”
“Maybe, but that’s still a bloody month away! I’m just not going to leave the house until then. I’m definitely not going to the reunion tonight.”
“Of course you are,” Mrs Weasley insisted. “Your father and I are watching Freddie and the girls so that your brothers can go – even Percy is taking the night off from work so he won’t miss it. I’ll sort out that dress, Ginevra, and you will be good to go when Harry comes home.”
“Don’t ever call me that name,” Ginny had said then, but she had seemed to be running out of excuses at that point, and so about six hours later, she was walking into the Great Hall, clinging onto Harry’s arm and smiling at all the familiar faces at the long tables.
Only a minute or so behind them, Ron and Hermione had just been stopped by Hagrid, who was crushing them both in a three-way hug and only let go when Hermione managed to squeeze out, “I – can’t – breathe!”
“My bad,” Hagrid said as he watched the pair gasp for air and rub their ribs. “Yeh’re right behind Harry an’ Ginny. Merlin, she’s huge! She looks like she’ll be havin’ triplets any day now!”
“Don’t let her hear you say that,” Ron adviced him, grinning.
“You’re coming to the feast, aren’t you, Hagrid?” Hermione said. “We should go before all the seats are taken.”
“I’ll see yeh in there,” Hagrid smiled. “Just gotta make sure ev’ryone goes ter the right place.”
Hermione had been right to hurry them along, because the Great Hall was more crowded than they had ever seen it, and they only just managed to squeeze in with the Gryffindors, near Harry and Ginny and right next to Percy and Dennis Creevey, who were already deep into discussion and barely noticed their new dinner partners.
“What exactly do you mean when you say you work in Muggle-Wizard relations?” Percy wanted to know, and Dennis took a sip on his brandy and smiled.
“It’s a small council within the International Confederation of Wizards,” he explained, “but it’s growing bigger, especially since the war here in Britain ended…”
Percy’s eyes grew wide behind his spectacles. “You’re kidding! Please, you have to tell me all about it. Have you actually met the Supreme Mugwump herself?”
“God, no!” Dennis said, looking terrified at the mere thought. “She’s the leader of the entire confederation! She doesn’t have time for people like me. My boss, Mr Lutterman, shook her hand once, though. He never shuts up about it.”
Percy, looking a little disappointed, suddenly noticed that his sister-in-law was sitting next to him, and that Ron was on the other side of the table. “Oh, you’re here!” he said.
“We sure are,” Ron grinned. “Where’s Audrey?”
“Over with the Ravenclaws,” Percy explained. “She tried to get me to sit there, but I couldn’t let my old house down now, could I?”
Ron muttered something under his breath that sounded like, “The Ravenclaws got the better deal, then,” and Hermione raised an eyebrow but looked like she was biting the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling.
Seamus Finnegan and Neville joined them (“McGonagall tried to get me to sit up there with the teachers, but I couldn’t,” Neville explained, sounding so shocked that Ron felt the urge to remind him that he actually was one of the teachers) and a little while later, so did Dean Thomas and Parvati. It was strange to be back with all their old schoolmates, but lovely too, despite the fact that Percy kept bringing up an article on Arithmancy that only Hermione was remotely interested in, and that Parvati wouldn’t shut up about the column she had begun writing for Witch Weekly (“Parvati the Palmist,” she explained excitedly. “The readers send me questions about their futures, and I predict their answers. It’s already becoming very popular.”) Seamus, after some enthusiastic encouraging from a chuckling Dean and Neville, made everyone laugh by telling the story of the last girl he had dated and how he had accidentally set her front door on fire when he had tried to conjure a boquet of flowers just before ringing the doorbell. Though she had to yell for them to hear her, Parvati kept coming up with new questions about their expectations of parenthood that she would ask Harry and Ginny, all while Hermione was muttering under her breath: “Why doesn’t she just predict what it will be like for them?” After a few servings of wine, old members of the Frog Choir stood up at the front of the hall to sing the Hogwarts school song, drowning out Parvati’s questions and finally making her give up her attempt to find out every single thought Harry and Ginny had had since finding out they were expecting. Instead, smiling widely, she turned towards Hermione and Ron and said:
“So when are you two going to start having babies?”
Ron’s face went dark red in an instant, and Hermione tried to think of an answer (which was rather difficult with the chanting drowning out her thoughts: “… our heads could do with filling with some interesting stuff, for now they’re bare and full of air, dead flies and bits of fluff.”
“Er,” she said, looking over at Ron but finding that he was too busy gulping down his glass of cherry wine to meet her eyes. “Not for a while, I guess.”
Her eyes were drawn to her two best friends a few seats away, who were both grinning widely as they listened to something that Lee Jordan was telling them – perhaps an insight to life as a new father, Hermione thought as she watched Harry’s glowing eyes and the way he slid his arm around his wife's waist. Ginnys hands were resting on the top of her enormours belly, and Hermione blinked, suddenly wishing that it was her and Ron who would have a baby in just a few weeks. She knew that the mere thought would be terrifying to Ron (sometimes she was still surprised that he had actually married her) but she also knew that he would be a wonderful father. A little too kind, perhaps, but she’d make up for that in austerity.
Harry and Ginny left earlier than most and stopped by the memorial wall on their way across the Hogwarts grounds. Someone must have brushed the snow off its top, for the ground was covered in a thin layer that had filled up all the footprints leading up to the castle, but the marble wall was bare, the names engraved on it just readble in the light shining out of Harry’s wand.
Both of them thought of that time when they had first seen the wall – on the Anniversairy the year before, when Harry had run off because he had felt it all too much. He had struggled to find a meaning to all those deaths back then, and he still found it difficult when he read Fred’s name, or Colin Creevey’s, or Remus and Tonks’. But when he looked at Ginny and the way she struggled to bend over to touch Fred’s name, and the way her stomach was almost touching her knees when she did, it seemed so much clearer to Harry – because his son would be born into a much better world than the one those people had died in. Some people thought it was thanks to Harry, but he knew better. If they owed it to anyone, it was to all those people whose names had been written in stone right there. Harry imagined James, at eleven, rushing past this same wall, barely noticing it, because he wouldn’t have to worry about all those things that they had had to worry about. And that, Harry thought, was worth more than anything he could think of.
Leaving Hogwarts around the same time as Harry and Ginny were two young women, wearing their old house scarves in green and silver around their necks, heads close together in whispers.
“Isn’t that the Potters?” Flora Carrow said, spotting two figures ahead of them on the road to Hogsmeade.
“Oh yes,” replied her twin sister, “Potter’s wife is pregnant, so that must be them.”
“Can you believe Adrian Pucey has broken up with his girlfriend?” Flora continued, instantly changing subject, as though the Potters were not all that interesting to her. “Perhaps he’ll finally ask me out…”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” answered Hestia coldly. “Didn’t you see him talking to Zoe Accrington all night? I reckon he fancied her already when we were little.”
Flora’s face stiffened, and she opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted by a cracking noise behind them. Both heads, covered in the same, straight, brown hair, flipped to the side at the sound, trying to localize it. Both soon turned forwards again to find that the Potters had Disapparated. They were alone on the road.
Their mother would be expecting them home soon. The twins were nineteen but still lived at home, claiming it was to keep her company. Their parents had never married; they had not known their father well, and now he was in no position to keep their mother company anyway.
A silent figure, hidden amongst the trees beside the road, knew all this. He knew, despite the fact that the girls had taken their mother’s surname and never spoke of their father, who he was, and where he was. More than that, he knew what he had done.
Flora and Hestia started talking again, and so neither one of them heard the sound of footsteps behind them when the figure walked up on the road. They did not hear his heartbeat quickening or see his hand shaking when he pulled his wand out and pointed it at their backs. They were back to talking about Adrian Pucey and Flora was in the middle of insisting that he had hugged her longer than anyone else, and that it must mean something…
And then she was silenced, and Hestia screamed, and her voice continued to echo when she could no longer hear it herself. It was a former Ravenclaw who found the sisters only about fifteen minutes later; their necks were still warm when he pressed his fingers against them to check for a pulse.
News travelled up to the castle within minutes, and Ron and Seamus along with a few people from the Auror Training Program ran across the grounds to the spot where Audrey Pucey was now crouching over the dead bodies, clasping one girl’s hand very tightly in his.
The Aurors spent the entire night in searching first the Hogwarts grounds, then Hogsmeade village. They knocked on every last door to question the villagers; but it was like when Ron and Marwick visited Azkaban. Nobody had seen anything. Nothing out of the ordinary had occurred all night.
And yet, there had been a dead body in one of the cells of Azkaban that day, and two more were lying in the snow, side by side on what was now early morning. They were soon brought into the Ministry, and Ron and Seamus were sent to the mother’s house in Norwhich. Mrs Carrow had been waiting up for her daughters and had known that something was wrong already before she heard the knock on her door at five in the morning; neither Ron nor Seamus had said a word before she burst into tears.
“Mrs Carrow, we are so sorry,” Seamus said, reaching out a hand and placing it on her shoulder. “Your daughters were found on the road between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. By all appearances, someone used the killing curse on them. They wouldn’t have suffered.”
“We are so sorry,” Ron repeated, “and we know it must be very difficult, but could you think of anyone who would want to hurt Flora and Hestia?”
“No one,” Mrs Carrow whispered, tears streaming down her round cheeks. “Except… if they knew.”
“Knew what?” Ron asked, his heart suddnely pounding harder in his chest.
“Mrs Carrow?” Seamus said when the woman did not speak.
She took a deep, whizzing breath. “I never exactly bragged about him,” she said. “I didn’t give them his name. And he wasn’t the kind of father who would keep pictures of them in his wallet and give it away. But someone might have found out – and wanted revenge…”
“Why would someone want revenge?” Seamus asked, bewildered. “Who was the father of your children, Mrs Carrow?”
“Antonin,” whispered Mrs Carrow, her eyes still flooded with tears, and her hands, which were grasping for something to hold her up, shaking uncontrollably. “Their father was Antonin Dolohov, the Death Eater.”
A/N: You probably know the drill by now. Thank you for being the most amazing readers in the world. It makes me so happy just to think that you have read and are still reading this story. I would love to hear your thoughts on the chapter xx
The quote from the Hogwarts song ("our heads could do with filling with some interesting stuff, for now they're bare and full of air, and dead flies and bits of fluff.") is taken from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, p. 128, ch. 7 (The Sorting Hat) by J.K. Rowling.