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Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own of any of these fantastic characters.
All was quiet in the grounds of Hogwarts. Only the sound of a few early-morning birds singing denied the silence. In Gryffindor tower, Harry Potter stirred. Slowly, he opened his eyes. He was greeted with a very familiar sight – the end of his four-poster bed, and an empty dormitory. For a moment, he couldn’t remember anything, and was wondering where Ron, Neville, Dean and Seamus were when it all came flooding back to him. The battle. The deaths. And the final defeat of Voldemort… he lay back down on his pillow, struggling for it to sink in. Voldemort was gone – he could live a normal life. No more running, no more fighting, just a normal life.
But then he thought of all the deaths – all those who had suffered because of him – Fred, Remus, Tonks, Colin Creevey… a tide of guilt washed over him. All the joy from the celebrations just after the battle had gone - it had been his fault they had died, if he had given himself up sooner… “But you had to find the Horcrux,” said a little voice in his head. Harry ignored it angrily, and his thoughts turned to the families of those who had died… the Weasleys – Ron, George, Ginny… Ginny. The thought of her stuck in his head. He doubted she would ever forgive him for Fred’s death, or for breaking up with her at the end of last year. He forced himself away from thinking about Ginny and turned his attention to Teddy, his godson. Poor Teddy, he would never know his parents… and it was all Harry’s fault. Feeling very depressed, he slowly slid out of bed and dressed; someone (maybe Kreacher) had put fresh clothes, clean and ironed, by the side of his bed. Picking up his wand and putting on his glasses, he slowly made his way down the stairs to the common room.
The common room was empty and silent. The newly-risen sun shone through the windows, lighting up the room in a very pleasant way. Harry wished he could stay here, and avoid facing the grieving families of those who’d died for him, but he knew he couldn’t keep hiding. He slipped out of the portrait hole, careful not to wake the Fat Lady, who was fast asleep in her frame.
Hogwarts was eerily silent. The scars from the battle were still clear – statues lay smashed, and walls collapsed in on themselves. Harry wondered where everyone was - he decided to make his way down to the Great Hall. On his way, he found the first sign of life… well, not exactly life. Nearly Headless Nick was floating down the corridor ahead of him.
“Nick! Hey, NICK!” called Harry. Nearly Headless Nick turned, his head wobbling dangerously.
“Harry, my dear boy!” exclaimed Nick, “Congratulations! The wizarding world owes you a great deal of debt after your defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be…”
“Yeah, I know, I know,” cut-off Harry irritably, panting from running after Nick. “I know I may seem like a hero and all that, but those who died fighting, they’re the real heroes. I just cast a disarming spell. Anyone could have…”
“You are very modest, Harry. Too modest. You must take credit for what you have done. Of course, others helped, and should be honoured, but ultimately, it was you who did it,” countered Nick. Harry was too tired to argue, so he said goodbye to Nick and preceded to his destination.
He arrived at the doors of the Great Hall a few minutes later. He decided to take a peek inside by opening the door just a crack, to see if anyone was in there. He did so, and saw a subdued sight. About 25 people were in the Great Hall, sitting at the tables all mixed-up (not by house) and quietly eating breakfast. Harry noticed Hannah, Ernie, and Justin sitting together, then Neville, Seamus and Dean, who were sitting by the Weasleys. On seeing the Weasleys, he froze. Pulling the door shut quietly, he turned and leant against the wall. He knew he would have to face them, and that it was better to get it out of the way, but his legs seemed to have turned to lead. He remembered a similar thing happening to him in his first year, before being sorted. He had been petrified then, but for different reasons. They were the family of Fred; surely they’d hate him for Fred’s death? Harry had not really spoken to anyone since his defeat of Voldemort; everyone had looked so happy at the time, but now they had had time to think it all through, he was sure they would blame him, and rightly so. Gripped with despair at the thought of what was about to happen, Harry forced himself to turn, open the doors and walk inside.
As soon as he opened the doors, everyone in the hall turned to look at him. A few people had drawn their wands; they put them away with embarrassed faces. As he walked towards the Weasleys, a young wizard who Harry recognised as one of the old players of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team (he had left a few years ago) turned to him and shook his hand. Hannah, Ernie and Justin smiled at him as he passed them. Harry was glad to see that most people had stopped looking at him, getting back to their breakfast. As he drew closer to the Weasleys, they turned to him. He took a deep breath; he knew what he had to do.
“I’m really sorry about…” But he got no further. Mrs. Weasley stood up, and wordlessly pulled him in to a bone-crunching Weasley hug. Harry was taken aback; when Mrs. Weasley released him, he tried to continue what he had been saying, but she shook her head. Harry looked around at the other Weasleys; they looked tired, battered and sad, but they were all smiling at him. Harry realised that they didn’t blame him for Fred’s death. Silently he slipped in to a seat in between Ginny and Mrs. Weasley. He caught the sweet smell of Ginny’s hair that gave him butterflies as he sat down, and she smiled at him. Harry started helping himself to breakfast, finally realising that he had a real family that loved him.
This is my first fan-fiction story so please review. Positive, negative… any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks for reading; I will be posting the next chapter as soon as I can. Thanks again, Dalek194 :-)
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters
Harry was busy helping himself to some toast when a thought came to his mind. He opened his mouth to speak, but Mrs. Weasley frowned at him.
“It’s alright, I’m not going to apologise,” said Harry hastily. “I was just wondering, where is everyone? There are only a few people down here and I saw no-one on my way down, except Nearly Headless Nick.” It was Mr. Weasley that answered.
“Some people went home, some are probably still asleep, and some are with their lost loved ones,” he said quietly; Harry realised he meant people were with the bodies. Another wave of guilt washed over him, but Mrs. Weasley, noticing his expression, offered him some more toast.
“Some of the teachers are cleaning up the grounds, along with some members of the Order,” continued Mr. Weasley. “Kingsley had to go back to the ministry, what with him being minister now. He’s getting rid of the Death Eaters who are still undercover there, as well as sorting out those who were rounding up Muggle-borns.” Harry suddenly thought of Umbridge, and a stab of dislike shot through him. He made a mental note to check that she had been dealt with, although as she had been in charge of the whole thing, it was likely that she would be the first person to be sorted out. Harry pushed those thoughts out of his mind, his thoughts instead turning to the Muggle-borns she had imprisoned.
“What about the Muggle-borns who were sent to Azkaban?”
“They have been released already. Kingsley sent an owl ordering their release just a few hours after the battle,” said Mr. Weasley. Harry nodded, and tried to focus on his bacon.
As Harry finished his breakfast, wondered what he would do next. He remembered Mr. Weasley saying that the teachers and the Order were cleaning up the castle, and decided he would help them. However, these thoughts were driven out of his mind when Ginny stood up suddenly. She offered her hand to Harry who, a little surprised and very nervous, took it. They turned to walk towards the door, Ginny glaring at her family as if daring them to object. Ron looked uncomfortable, but didn’t say anything. Mrs. Weasley was beaming.
Harry and Ginny walked silently out of the doors to the Great Hall and across the entrance hall. Peeves came whooshing down the marble staircase, saw them, and wolf-whistled, but they ignored him. Ginny pushed open the door to the grounds and they stepped out. The sun was blazing brightly by now, showering the grounds in light. Harry had never noticed how beautiful it was until now. Hand-in-hand but silent, they began to walk towards their favourite tree, one that they had spent many a happy term under (and, Harry realised with a jolt, his father and his friends had too). When they arrived, Harry sat down, but Ginny stayed standing and leaned against the trunk, looking at him expectantly. Harry took a deep breath.
“Gin, I’m really really sorry. I’m sorry that I ended it, I’m sorry that I left, and I’m sorry about Fred. I… I only ended it to protect you. And…” He tailed off, looking at the ground. Ginny waited a moment, and then spoke.
“Harry, you don’t have you blame yourself for everything. It wasn’t your fault Fred died, I thought you’d have realised that by now, and I’m sure you had a reason for… for leaving.” Harry noticed that she had tears in her eyes. He had already decided to come clean, and tell her everything; about the Horcruxes, about the prophecy and about the Hallows.
“It’s a long story,” he began slowly, “But I’ll tell you, if you like.” Ginny looked up at him. He stared at her, getting lost in her chocolate brown eyes…
“I suppose it all started with a prophecy. Yeah, that’s where everything changed.” Ginny sat down, looking interested.
“You don’t mean… the one from the Department of Mysteries?” she said quietly. Harry nodded.
“It said that “the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not” It also gave a rough time of birth… the end of July.” Ginny’s eyes widened; she knew Harry’s birthday was at the end of July.
“It could have applied to two wizards; me or Neville,” Harry continued. At this Ginny’s eyes became even wider.
“Neville!?” she said, shocked. Harry nodded again.
“But the prophecy didn’t say which; it just said that “the Dark Lord will mark his as his equal”. Voldemort heard the prophecy, and decided who he would go after.” Harry pushed back his hair and pointed to his scar.
“He failed. And the rest is history… but Voldemort had made something that made sure he couldn’t die.” Ginny gasped.
“Tom Riddle’s diary…”
“You’re closer than you think. Riddle’s diary was a Horcrux – a piece of Voldemort’s soul. But there were others…”
“…and then I realised, I’d have to find the rest of the Horcruxes myself,” Harry finished, fifteen minutes later. He had told Ginny about Dumbledore finding the ring, showing him memories of Voldemort and the journey to the cave to find another Horcrux, which had ended in disaster. He was going to continue to tell her about the year he had spent on the run, but she put her finger to his lips.
“Thanks,” she said quietly. Harry was surprised.
“For telling me. To know that you had so much on your shoulders, at the end of last year… I see why you kept it secret.” She hugged him, and Harry’s heart jumped. Maybe she would take him back…
They pulled apart and Ginny looked at him.
“What happened then?”
Harry launched in to an explanation of everything that happened from arriving on Tottenham Court Road, through to the break-in at Gringotts. Ginny gasped when she heard about their escape on a dragon.
“They said you’d broken in and escaped on a dragon, it was in the Prophet and everything! Half of us didn’t believe it!”
“Yeah, I bet Hagrid was really jealous,” said Harry, grinning. Ginny couldn’t help laughing. Harry cleared his throat before continuing.
“But, as you say, everyone knew we had broken in, so Voldemort found out. He obviously knew that the cup had been in the Lestranges’ vault, so he checked what was taken. When he found out… well, he knew we were after his Horcruxes. I knew we had to find the last one (except for the snake) quickly, and I was sure it was at Hogwarts. We apparated to Hogsmeade, Alberforth got us in through the passage, and you know what happened next.”
They were both quiet for a moment, remembering the horrors of the battle of Hogwarts. Harry put a comforting arm around Ginny’s shoulder; she didn’t push it away. Another good sign…
“But what about then?” Ginny spoke suddenly. “Voldemort came up to the castle, you were dead…” She stopped as tears came to her eyes as she remembered how she had felt when she thought he was gone forever. Harry gave her a small squeeze.
“But I’m not, am I? But first I’ve got to tell you something else.” He proceeded to explain about the scene in the Room of Requirement, Ron and Hermione dispatching the Horcrux, Snape’s death, and what he saw in the pensieve. Ginny was even more shocked.
“Now I think about it, he never cursed anyone last year. Well, not with any unforgivable ones, anyway. When we stole the sword, I thought he was going to use the Cruciatus curse, but he just gave us detention with Hagrid! Except that night when George lost his ear… what?” A smile had crept up the side of Harry’s face. Ginny looked confused.
“Why did you try to steal the sword? I suppose Snape knew that you wouldn’t mind detention with Hagrid; he probably did it to protect you from being tortured as punishment. But, yeah, the sword. Why?” Ginny shrugged.
“We thought it might help. I don’t know why… but we needed to try something, we couldn’t let the Carrows and Snape get away with what they were doing.”
“You could have been hurt.” Ginny raised her eyebrows at him.
“Coming from the man who has been on the run all year, broke in to Gringotts and just defeated Lord Voldemort himself.” Harry feigned a look of innocence.
“Are you suggesting that I’m reckless, Miss Weasley?” he joked.
“Certainly not, Mr Potter.” And they both burst out laughing again. It was amazing how he could laugh with her after just talking about such grave things, thought Harry, but it must surely be a good thing. He doubted anyone else could get him to laugh after all he had just been through. But now it was time to get serious again.
He told her what had happened; how he had found the resurrection stone, and seen James, Lily, Sirius and Lupin (he had thought he would never tell anyone about this, but with Ginny he couldn’t help telling her everything) and then, the killing curse hitting him. Ginny looked shocked yet again.
“So, how can you be alive? If he hit you with the killing curse…” Harry paused, knowing this would be the hardest part to explain. He told her about seeing Dumbledore, and what he had told him. When he had finished, he realised there was nothing left to tell. He felt so much better having got it all off his chest. Ginny looked stunned at how much he had just told her.
“Well, there you are. The story of this last year. And now, I want to ask you something.” He looked her in the eye.
“I never found anyone while we were on the run. There was never anyone but you. Do you have anyone?” Ginny silently shook her head.
“As if I was ever going to if there was the faintest hope you were still alive. You’re so thick… I’d have waited forever,” she whispered. Harry’s heart fluttered; she had practically said she’d take him back. But he still had to ask…
“Gin… will you take me back?” The whole grounds seemed to have gone quiet; every bird had stopped singing, the giant squid had stopped splashing around in the lake. It was silent for about twenty seconds, before…
“Of course.” Ginny was smiling at him. “You big dope, I was going to say that before! I’m not going to let you get away that easily…” A huge grin twice as wide as the lake spread across Harry’s face, and he leant in and kissed her. And suddenly everything didn’t matter, because everything was right, Voldemort was gone, and Harry was with the girl he loved.
This chapter was just for Harry to explain to Ginny what happened and for them to get back together. I didn’t think it would take up a whole chapter but after I wrote it I saw it had to. I know it may seem a bit boring but I’ll add in some duelling and other action as soon as I can. A huge thanks to all those who have reveiwed so far for being my first reviewers! I love hearing what you think; even if it’s a criticism, I want to hear. Thanks!
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
It was almost mid-day when Harry and Ginny finally left their spot under the tree. Ginny had told Harry all about Hogwarts and the Carrows while he had been on the run, and the various activities of the order.
“…we were stuck at Aunt Muriel’s, so we didn’t know that much, but members of the order popped in from time to time. It was driving me insane, having to be stuck there while you were on the run, resisting him. I just wanted to do something!” Ginny said, sounding frustrated. Harry didn’t blame her; he remembered how Sirius had felt, cooped up in Grimmuald Place while the rest of the order were fighting Voldemort…
“Well, it’s all over now. I don’t believe it, but it is,” said Harry. He imagined what he
could do with his life now there was no Voldemort; the image of Ginny’s wedding popped into his mind again, accept this time she was not marrying a faceless stranger, but him, Harry…
“Harry?” said Ginny uncertainly. He jerked out of his trance.
Ginny giggled. “You were daydreaming.”
“Oh, yeah…” He blushed slightly, making her laugh even more. They walked up the steps and through the great doors. A few people were in the entrance hall, trying to repair some of the damage that had been done during the battle. Dean Thomas looked round as they entered and grinned.
“Hey Harry, Ginny,” he said, and smirked; they were still holding hands. They let go quickly, both blushing; Harry remembered Dean was an ex-boyfriend of Ginny’s. Dean didn’t look jealous though – he was beaming at them.
“We’ve really got our work cut out now,” he said. “This is nothing compared to the Astronomy Tower; it’s almost a pile of rubble. It’ll take us some time to fix that.”
Harry suddenly felt guilty again, but Dean seemed to read his thoughts.
“It’s not your fault. Blimey, Harry, without you we’d probably all be dead!”
Harry was going to point out that if he had given himself up in the first place, no-one would be dead, but Ginny squeezed his arm.
“Let’s go and find Mum and Dad,” she said quietly. They said goodbye to Dean and went up the marble staircase.
They met various people on their way; members of the DA and of the order, teachers, and even some Aurors Harry didn’t know. They found the Weasleys with Hermione on the third floor, trying to repair a wall that had been blasted in. Mrs. Weasley turned and smiled as they arrived.
“Where’ve you two been?” said Ron, a little gruffly; Hermione elbowed him in the ribs.
“Ow!” he said indignantly, but Hermione glared, giving him a look that clearly said “shut up”. Mrs. Weasley smiled as Harry and Ginny approached.
“Hello, dears!” she said; but Harry noticed the happiness in her voice was strained. She was obviously still thinking of Fred. “Let’s get going then; I’d like get this corridor finished by lunchtime!” She gave them both a knowing look, then turned back to help her husband. Ginny set to work immediately, helping Bill, who was trying to levitate a pillar from under a pile of fallen rubble.
“Reducto!” cried Ginny, pointing her wand at the rubble. It blasted to pieces, covering them all in dust and leaving the pillar free for Bill to levitate. Bill looked impressed.
“She’s always been good at that one,” said Harry, grinning at the look on Bill’s scarred face. Mrs. Weasley’s lips twitched into a slight smile.
Harry was reminded of the cleaning of Grimmuald Place, when Mrs. Weasley had been determined to clean every square inch of the place. This time, however, they were fixing things, not cleaning them, and they had around 50 people helping around the castle.
“Molly worked out some sort of rota” explained Mr. Weasley in an undertone to Harry, while they were trying to re-attach the huge stone arm of a rather ugly statue. “She pretty much told everyone where to go, and no-one objected; they all want to help. You know what she can be like.” He looked over at his wife to make sure she wasn’t listening. “I think it’s her way of… you know, therapy. If she’s working so hard, she won’t think about Fred as much…” Mr. Weasley blinked and suddenly became very interested a chunk missing from the statue’s arm.
Harry started to feel guilty again, so he, too, stared at the statue’s arm. He noticed it had a few fingers missing; he was reminded of Peter Pettigrew, who had died just because he had shown Harry the slightest amount of mercy… he was one of many deaths on an endless list. Harry suddenly found tears coming to his eyes and blinked them, not wanting to break down in front of the Weasleys.
“Are you OK?”
Harry felt Ginny appear by his side. He nodded, and she gave his hand a squeeze.
Harry jumped as he heard a loud, booming voice. Turning, he saw Hagrid striding towards him, a huge grin on his broad face.
“Yeh did it, Harry! Yeh beat him! I can’ believe it… he’s finally gone… I always knew yeh would, always knew… but how can yeh be alive? I thought yeh were dead, like the others…” Hagrid sniffed, and wiped his eyes with his tablecloth-sized handkerchief.
“Sorry, got summat’ in my eye…” He looked around at the watching Weasleys.
“Sorry abou’… fer’ poor Fred, I…” and he burst into tears. Mrs. Weasley looked alarmed; she, Ginny and Hermione all ran to Hagrid to comfort him.
“Sorry abou’ tha’… I can’ help it, so many people dead…” he sobbed. Harry looked at the floor. Hagrid looked up in alarm.
“It’s not your fault, Harry! Yeh know tha’, don’ yeh? If it weren’ fer yeh…” Harry nodded, not wanting to receive any more praise; why did everyone think of him as a hero? Hagrid pulled him into a hug that was bound to break half the bones in his body.
Hagrid seemed to have calmed down a little.
“I had sommat’ teh tell yeh, though… oh, yeah! Kingsley’s lookin’ fer yeh, the three of yeh! Minister for magic an’ all, eh? He’ll be wantin’ to thank yeh, I expect… yeh deserve Orders o' Merlin, the lot o’ yeh…”
Harry looked round at Ron and Hermione, to see they both looked as surprised as he felt. Harry extracted himself from Hagrid’s arms, smiled at the Weasleys, winked at Ginny, and set off with Ron and Hermione.
“E’ was in the Great Hall las’ time I saw him!” called Hagrid after them.
Once they were out of earshot, Harry turned to them and said, “What does Kingsley want us for!?”
“Well, I dunno why he wants us,” said Ron, indicating Ron and Hermione. “It’s obvious why he wants you…”
“You did as much as I did, if not more,” said Harry firmly. Ron and Hermione rolled their eyes. “No, I mean it! You found the Basalisk fangs, destroyed the diadem…” Ron raised his eyebrows.
“Yeah, but we didn’t die for everyone, come back to life and kill You-Know-Who, did we?” he said pointedly. He grinned. “Face it mate, you’re always going to be the hero who defeated You-Know-Who…”
"Honestly, Ron, you can call him by his name now,” said Hermione unexpectedly. “You can’t be scared of him now, he’s dead…”
Ron looked a little taken aback. Harry didn’t want them to start arguing; he wasn’t sure how they stood since their kiss during the battle. He quickened his pace so they had to jog to keep up with him.
“So, what do you reckon Kingsley wants with us?” said Ron.
Hermione shrugged. “We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?”
By now, they had reached the doors to the Great Hall. Taking a deep breath, Harry pushed the door open, Ron and Hermione following close behind.
The Hall was much emptier than earlier; it seemed Mrs. Weasley had drafted almost everyone into fixing the castle. A few official-looking wizards were talking to Kingsley at one of the tables. Kingsley turned when he heard them enter.
“Harry! Ron! Hermione!” he boomed, his deep voice echoing around the Hall. “It’s so good to see you!” He gestured to the Ministry wizards and they got up and left, throwing the trio looks which they couldn’t quite decipher. They sat down beside Kingsley.
“Well, first of all, I want to thank you. Thanks to you three, especially you, Harry, the war is over, and Voldemort is gone.”
“It wasn’t just us!” Harry interjected, “Loads of people helped…”
Kingsley put up a hand to stop him talking. “I know, Harry, and we will discuss them later. First I wish to inform you that you have all been awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class.”
Harry, Ron and Hermione’s mouths all dropped open in shock.
“But if we get one, then…” began Harry, but Kingsley stopped him again.
“I will need to talk to you in the coming weeks about who should be honoured. I already have an idea to create a new award to be presented to all those who fought on our side. But I will also need to talk to you about rounding up Death Eaters and snatchers; there are still some at large and maybe you know some that we don’t.”
Kingsley took a swig of pumpkin juice, which, Harry noticed, seemed to have appeared on the table out of thin air. He was surprised the house elves were still working.
“As I am sure you are aware, I am the new Minister for Magic, although it is only on a temporary basis. I will have to convince some of my critics I can do the job properly before I get it on a permanent basis”
All three congratulated him, and he looked rather pleased.
“I am glad you agree with my appointment,” he beamed.
“Well, why wouldn’t we?” said Hermione matter-of-factly, “You’re the best man for the job!”
Harry could have sworn he saw Kingsley blush, but in a split second it was gone. Harry grinned at him.
“I wanted to come to ask you about your futures,” Kingsley said, becoming serious once more. “Harry, I believe you wanted to be an Auror?”
Harry suddenly felt awkward. “Yeah, but I never finished my seventh year. I haven’t got the qualifications,” he pointed out.
“Oh, don’t worry about that!” said Kingsley. “I have managed to convince the ministry to make exceptions for anyone who fought on our side and was unable to complete a proper education!”
Harry’s heart leapt. “Really?” he said, hopefully.
Kingsley grinned at him. “Yes, really. They will be ready to accept you on a training course whenever you are ready, and anyone else who wants to be an Auror.” He turned to Ron and Hermione.
“What are you two thinking of doing?”
Ron shrugged. “I dunno… it sounds good, but I was never as good as Harry…”
“Nonsense!” said Harry. “You’re just as good as me.”
Ron looked doubtful. “I’m not sure… I was thinking of helping George for a while…”
Kingsley smiled kindly.
“There’s no need to decide now. With most jobs I’d say you can start when you like, but Robards is very strict about when his trainees start. We’ll need to know by mid-August, or you’ll have to wait for another year.”
Ron nodded, and Kingsley turned to Hermione.
“What about you, Hermione?”
Hermione looked rather strained all of a sudden. “I’m not sure… I don’t think I’d be all that good an Auror.”
Harry and Ron looked like they were about to argue, but she said quickly, “Defence against the Dark Arts was the only subject I didn’t get an Outstanding in, remember?”
“Yeah, but after this last year…” muttered Ron. Hermione shook her head.
“Very well, Hermione, what would you like to do?” asked Kingsley. Hermione still looked uncertain.
“Well, I was considering working in the Department for the Control and Regulation of Magical Creatures, I can maybe continue S.P.E.W there (Kingsley looked puzzled and Ron rolled his eyes) or maybe the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, they need to change those rules about pure-bloods… and what about my N.E.W.Ts?”
“You don’t need them,” Ron reminded her.
Hermione ignored him. “I’ll have to ask Professor McGonagall if she’ll let us come back…”
“Minerva has informed me that she plans to allow any students who wish to retake their seventh year to do so,” said Kingsley. “I would be delighted if you wanted to join the ministry, but maybe I can secure you higher position if you have N.E.W.Ts…”
Hermione looked stressed. “I don’t know. I’d like to finish school, I suppose…”
“Send me an owl when you’ve decided. Same to you, Ron. So you’re up for the Aurors, Harry?”
Harry grinned. “Definitely!”
Kingsley smiled at them and stood up.
“I’ll be in touch,” he said. “I’ll need to talk to you about who gets honoured and the Death Eaters, so I’ll see you soon.”
And, his eyes twinkling, he strode out of the Great Hall.
Sorry for the delay in getting this chapter up, I had to make some changes. I hope you are enjoying it so far! Thanks to everyone who has reviewed, and if you haven’t, please do! :-) I will update as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Harry’s next few days were spent fixing up the castle; there was so much to be done. Some rooms simply needed a few Reparo spells, whereas others were a complete wreck. One classroom, Harry and the Weasleys found, had been utterly destroyed; the chairs, tables and walls were unable to be fixed due to the dark curses that had reduced them to piles of smouldering wood and stone.
“Like my ear,” George had muttered, darkly.
Harry was grateful for the work; it kept his mind off other things, such as those who had died, and Voldemort’s supporters who were still at large. He would spend hours working with Ginny, Ron and Hermione, talking quietly while repairing what seemed like endless tapestries and smashed-in walls.
However, there were still problems that found their way to Harry, despite his best efforts to keep away from them. He discovered just hours after his talk with Kingsley that reporters from the Daily Prophet and various magazines had been searching for him since he had defeated Voldemort. Harry could not think of anyone he less wanted to speak to, and was glad he had kept out of the way straight after the battle, but unluckily one of them finally found him later that day as he was trying fruitlessly to repair a statue of Saribus the Sober, who was probably the least sober person (or statue) Harry had ever laid eyes on; he reminded Harry of Mundungus.
The bothered-looking reporter appeared behind the statue so suddenly Harry would have sworn he’d apparated, except for the fact there had been no tell-tale crack and anyway, you couldn’t apparate or disapparate in or our of Hogwarts. Harry virtually jumped out of his skin when he saw the reporter’s watery eyes staring back at him, and drew his wand.
The man stepped out from behind the statue, a chunky-looking camera slung around his neck, which reminded Harry, with a dull blow, of Colin. He was a scrawny man who looked slightly rat-like. His face was pointed and red as a beetroot, he had cauliflower-ears and an irritable-looking expression until he saw Harry, on which his mouth split into a toothy smile.
“Mr. Potter! My, my, the man himself, what an honour! Let me introduce myself, I am Porlitus Porlock, reporter for the Prophet, but I expect you’ll know that, of course, I do wirte a lot of front-page articles… how would you like to give an interview on how you finally defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? I can promise you the front page…”
He said all this very fast, without taking a breath, but Harry already knew his answer.
“No, thanks, not now, I’m busy…” he said gruffly.
“Oh, don’t worry about that! You shouldn’t be cleaning the castle like common people! (He gestured to the Weasleys and Hermione) You should be being honoured, house elves waiting on you…”
Hermione gave a very audible harrumph.
“…and, as I said, I can assure you the front page and a very generous amount of galleons too, for this kind of interview…”
Harry interrupted him. “I’m not interested, thanks. And don’t insult these people, they are my friends and fought just as bravely as anyone.”
All of the Weasleys flushed, looking very grateful and slightly embarrassed. For a moment the reporter looked very annoyed, but recovered quickly.
“If you’re not ready for an interview now, if you could just sign this parchment saying you won’t sell your story to anyone else, and you can tell me when you’re ready…”
“Are you deaf? He said no,” said Ron, through gritted teeth.
“I didn’t ask you opinion, boy,” snapped the reporter.
This was the wrong decision. Harry tightened his grip on his wand. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny were looking mutinous while Ron and George were cracking their knuckles in a very Crabbe-and-Goyle-like way.
The reporter seemed to realise his mistake and said nervously, “I’ll go, then. Unless one of you wishes to tell your story?”
George opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, Percy had stepped forwards. Harry was surprised; Percy had hardly spoken since Fred had died.
“If you do not leave Harry and my family alone, I shall personally report you to the Minister for Magic. You are violating the wizards’ privacy act under section five, paragraph seven,” said Percy, in a clear and business-like tone. “I suggest you leave now.”
The reporter looked like he had been slapped around the face. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, then seemed to think better of it, and shuffled away, leaving a stunned silence in his wake.
“Wow, Perce. I guess your time at the Ministry wasn’t useless after all. I’ve never heard of the wizards’ privacy act,” said George weakly.
Percy blushed slightly. “That’s because there isn’t one,” he said, sounding embarrassed. “I just told him that to get him to go away, the scrawny idiot.”
George’s battle-worn face split into a grin.
“Lying to a Daily Prophet reporter, Perce?” he said, in a mock stern voice. “That’s really bad, that is… I might have to confiscate your old prefects badge…”
And they all burst out laughing.
Three days after Kingsley had visited them about their futures, Harry, Ron and Hermione were relaxing by the fire after a long day’s work with Ginny and Arnold (who had been sitting on Ginny’s shoulder through the day; she had retrieved him from the Room of Requirement, where he had been happily munching on the Hufflepuff banners)
Harry wondered where Arnold had been during the battle; he can’t have been in the room or it wouldn’t have changed when they wanted to find the room of lost things, unless the room didn’t register Arnold. Apparently he had snuck into Hogwarts with Ginny when she responded to Neville’s call.
Harry was absent-mindedly twisting his fingers gently through Ginny’s hair when a tap came at the window that made him jump. He looked over to see a handsome screech owl ruffling its feathers and tapping with it’s beak on the window. Harry realised with a jolt that it was Percy’s owl, Hermes, but as Percy was sitting in a chair on the other side of the common room, he could hardly have sent it.
Harry got up to open the window, and expected Hermes to fly over to Percy, but instead he held out his leg for Harry to remove a letter that was attached there. Feeling apprehensive, Harry untied the letter and Hermes fluttered over to Percy, who seemed very surprised.
Harry went back to his seat by the fireplace, turning the letter over in his hands. It was official-looking and Harry saw the Ministry of Magic seal stamped onto the back.
Ron, Hermione and Ginny hadn’t paid much attention when he’d got up; he’d been receiving various owls over the last few days, mainly notes to thank him for saving the world from Voldemort, but some letters asking him to give the writers interviews for their various newspapers. (Rita Skeeter had written 15 times)
Yesterday breakfast had been particularly memorable, when over 100 owls had swooped down on him to try to deliver their letters of appreciation, with the odd letter from Rita. Professor McGonagall had had to cast a complicated charm so that the owls delivered their letters to his bed rather than Harry himself, leading to a four-poster covered in letters and owl-droppings when he got back to his dormitory that night.
However, he was pretty sure this was not a fan letter or a request for an interview, judging by the MoM seal. Curious, he broke the seal and opened the letter.
“What’ve you got there, mate?” said Ron, sleepily. “Is it from some nutter who wants to thank you, or Skeeter?”
Hermione threw him a reproachful look.
“What!?” he exclaimed.
“People who want to thank Harry aren’t “nutters”! Harry’s saved hundreds of lives by defeating Voldemort… (Harry noticed Ron didn’t flinch, although his eyebrows twitched) …so naturally people will want to thank him!”
Ron rolled his eyes at Harry and grinned.
“OK, OK, maybe not nutters. More like nutcases…”
He grinned again. “I’m just pulling your leg, ‘Mione, lighten up!” He winked at Harry.
“So, what is the letter about, Harry?” asked Ginny loudly, as Hermione looked like she was about to retort.
“I think it might be from Kingsley.”
Ginny took Arnold off her shoulder and transferred him to her lap, looking curious. Ron and Hermione’s attitudes changed immediately. Ron looked slightly awed, while Hermione’s expression changed to one of stress.
“Blimey, Harry, you’ve got the Minister for Magic himself writing to you!” said Ron, sounding impressed. But Hermione was looking very worried.
“Will he want to know our decisions? Oh, no, I still really don’t know! We’ve been so busy… oh, I really want to do something to make a difference in the ministry, but I really want to get my NEWTS… but then think of all the elves I could be helping in that time…”
“Calm down, Hermione. Let me read it first,” said Harry, slightly amused. Hermione was acting like she used to do when it was their exams.
He unfolded the thick piece of parchment to see neat, smart-looking writing, and read aloud:
Dear Harry (Harry noticed the use of his first name rather than his surname)
I am writing to request a meeting with you, Ron and Hermione to make an official statement that can be released to the wizarding world on your year away and defeat of Lord Voldemort. I understand you may not want to tell everything, and I am sure that not everything you went through would be suitable for release to the public; however, I have had owls pestering me and a lot of Ministry pressure insisting they know what happened for the last few days. I therefore think that the sooner a statement is released, the sooner the wild stories that have been going around will stop, and there will be a lot less pressure for all of us.
I also am wondering whether Ron and Hermione have made any decisions on their careers as of yet. However, they need not decide yet, they have until mid-August for Ron, and Hermione until the Hogwarts term begins on September the 1st. I am planning to issue a statement that anyone who fought in the final battle but has not completed school, or has not been able to find work (Harry thought sadly of Lupin) will be able to gain a job at any Ministry department they please, as high up as I can get them. I have also asked the Gringotts goblins to begin casting the medals I talked to you about. They will be paid so that there is no dispute on ownership.
I hope you and everyone else are well; it is very busy here at the Ministry. I thought you would like to know we have captured several Death Eaters in the last few days, including Avery and Crabbe. Crabbe came quietly after he was informed of the death of his son. Avery was less compliant, but no Aurors were killed or severely injured, thankfully.
Please meet me at the Ministry in my office at 3:15PM tomorrow. If I were you I would bring that wonderful cloak of yours; plenty of people at the Ministry would want to talk to you that I am sure you would not want to talk to. I give the three of you permission to apparate, find enclosed you licences; I do not believe a test is necessary due to the amount of apparition I believe you have been doing over the last year!
See you tomorrow in my office. Best regards,
Temporary Minister for Magic
P.S. I believe this is Ron’s brother’s owl; he has been residing in the Ministry’s Owlery, but I thought he may like him returned.
Harry turned the envelope upside-down and three small pieces of parchment fell out, with their names and “apparition license” written on each of them neatly.
There was a small silence, then…
“I can’t believe he’s given us our licences without taking our test,” said Hermione quietly.
“Don’t complain!” said Ron, snatching his from Harry’s hand. “Anyway, we deserve it; we’ve been apparating halfway across Britain this last year. Kingsley knows he can trust us.”
“Yes, but still…” said Hermione, looking doubtful.
Harry and Ginny exchanged glances; they knew an argument was about to start.
“So then, Ron, have you thought about if you’re gonna take up that Auror offer yet?” said Harry, trying to change the subject. Ron’s expression lightened.
“Yeah, I have and I think I will. It’s such a good opportunity, and George says he doesn’t mind running the shop on his own for a while; he’s still got a few staff to help him out,” said Ron eagerly. “So, I reckon I should say yes! I’ll tell him tomorrow.
Harry grinned. “Great! We’ll go tomorrow at three, then, under the cloak. Sorry, Ginny, but I don’t think you can come.”
“I’m sure Kingsley wouldn’t mind, but I want to finish that classroom on the third floor, anyway.” She yawned. “I think I’m going to bed. Night.”
She kissed Harry, put Arnold on her shoulder again and walked off towards the girl’s dormitories. They sat there for a while, before Harry got up stiffly and said, “I’m going to bed too. See you tomorrow.”
Back in his four-poster (which had been mercifully cleared of owl-droppings by Kreacher) Harry found himself thinking how satisfying it would be to work with Ron in the Auror department, seeking out the last of the Death Eaters and putting them in Azkaban, then coming home to Grimmuald Place, where Kreahcer waited for him with a warm meal and Ginny and their kids welcomed him home, laughing and smiling…
And with these comforting thoughts in his mind, Harry drifted off to sleep.
I hope you all liked it! Next chapter will be the Trio’s meeting with Kingsley and some other stuff… it was supposed to be in this chapter but then I realised I couldn’t fit it in to one. Thanks to all those who have read and reviewed, and if you haven’t, please do! I’m always glad to hear your thoughts, whether they’re positive or negative. Thanks again!
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Harry was walking through the deserted corridors of Hogwarts. They were eerily silent, and his every footstep echoed menacingly. A faint sunlight was coming through the windows, but no-one seemed to be around… until he turned a corner, and walked straight into Nearly-Headless Nick (or, more like, stopped right in front of him).
“What… Nick, oh, sorry…” Harry gabbled, then he stopped mid-sentence. Nick was glaring at him.
“Why did you let them die, Harry?” he said angrily.
Harry was puzzled. “What d’you…”
But Nick had turned into Lupin; his silhouette stayed pearly-white, but now Lupin’s gaunt face had appeared; it was even more lined than usual. He had a sad expression on his face.
“Why didn’t you give yourself up, Harry? We wouldn’t have died, me and Tonks, Teddy would still have his parents…”
Harry stared, horrified, as Lupin turned into Fred. The figure still stayed pearly-white but now with a trademark Weasley red tinge to its hair, making the ghost-Fred look very odd.
“Fred…” croaked Harry, his throat dry.
Fred was laughing; it was the same laugh that had been on his face when he had died. His laughter echoed through the halls, making Harry’s head throb. And suddenly the laughter became a cackling, and Peeves was floating above his head, jeering at him.
“Oh, Potty, what have you done?” he cackled gleefully. “You were too cowardly to cop it yourself so you let them take the blows for you…”
And he laughed again, loudly; Harry’s eardrums felt like they were going to burst. And his laughter became high pitched and cruel, his face pale, his eyes red and snake-like…
Harry awoke with a start. Instinctively, he plunged his hand to his left, where he expected to find his wand and glasses, but instead his knuckles hit solid wood. He cursed.
“Harry, mate, are you alright?” asked Ron’s hoarse voice tentatively.
Then Harry remembered, he was not in the tent, he was in the Gryffindor boy’s dormitory, and Voldemort was dead. Squinting towards the window, he saw a glimmer of light starting to peak over the horizon; it was just before dawn.
“Yeah, sorry for waking you. I just…”
Ron nodded. This had been the third time this had happened since the end of the battle; Harry’s mind was still unable to accept that Voldemort was gone, and that the deaths were not his fault. Deep down, he knew this, but he could not push the ghostly images of Remus and Fred from his mind.
“Who was it this time?” asked Ron.
“Lupin and Fred,” replied Harry. At first he had been reluctant to tell Ron he was still having nightmares, but when Ron pointed out he was thrashing in his sleep, he had given in.
Tonight it had been Remus and Fred, other nights had brought different victims; Tonks, her hair a mournful grey… Colin Creevey, his camera clicking away… Snape, his eyes wide with shock as he bled to death.
He had also dreamt of those who were still alive, blaming him for the death of their loved ones; Mrs. Weasley, crying and begging him to bring Fred back… Andromeda, snatching a wailing Teddy out of his arms… Ginny, looking furious and telling him she never wanted to see him again…
However, he knew he must not dwell on these dreams. The latter part, anyway, were a lie; everyone had insistently told him they did not blame him for the deaths. And he knew he could not bring those who had died back… he had to move on.
“We’ve got that meeting with Kingsley today,” pointed out Ron, obviously trying to change the subject. Harry simply nodded, slowly slipping out of bed and moving over to pick up his clothes.
Harry knew Ron was trying to stop his dwelling on the dreams, and he was right. Harry was not ashamed to tell Ron; he had also told Hermione and Ginny, who both had insisted that he remind himself none of it was true. He just wished that the dreams would stop, but the war had only just ended; as Hermione pointed out, wounds as deep as those left by the battle take time to heal. He just had to stop trying to live in the past, and look to the present and future.
This thought reminded Harry of his upcoming meeting with Kingsley that Ron had mentioned, and he felt a building sense of apprehension. He would actually be able to do something constructive, to assist in the fight against Death Eaters who were still at large. He realised that was not the purpose of this particular meeting, but the thought of even leaving the confined grounds of Hogwarts and doing something was good enough for him. The castle still held plenty of ghosts for him.
Feeling slightly better, he pulled on his clothes and picked up his wand as Ron departed down the stairs to the common room. He, Ron and Neville had the room to themselves; Dean and Seamus had moved into one of the empty dormitories previously occupied by fifth-years. Neville was not in his bed - in fact, it looked like it hadn’t been slept in – but Harry wasn’t worried. Neville had taken to staying up through the night, determined to use every second of his time to help fix the castle.
Suddenly feeling hungry, Harry jammed on his glasses and hurried down the staircase after Ron.
After a large breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys proceeded to the third floor. Mr. Weasley, Charlie, Bill and Percy set to work on a gaping hole in the wall that faced out onto the grounds, while Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, George and Mrs. Weasley entered a classroom on the right. It was in a right state, with splintered wood everywhere, and a huge slash across the blackboard.
“Well, we’d better get to work if we’re going to finish this by lunch,” said Mrs. Weasley grimly. The rest of them looked doubtful, but started using various charms to try and clear away some of the useless splinters now covering the floor.
A few hours later they had made a slight improvement; the slash across the blackboard was gone and a few rickety tables were now standing in front of it.
“Well, that’s all we can do for now. Let’s go and have some lunch, and we’ll start back on it later,” said Mrs. Weasley, looking grimly around at the still battle-worn classroom.
They all gladly obeyed; the work had been a nightmare, and they all had deep splinters where the wood had failed to respond to Reparo, preferring to attack them instead. Mrs. Weasley was sure it was a response to the curse that had hit the classroom, but they had begun to make an improvement when George had sprinkled some silvery dust over the wood that, he informed them, the twins had used in their Headless Hats.
The tired posse made their way down to the entrance hall, but stopped just outside its entrance when they heard raised voices. Cautiously, Harry gripped his wand. Silently, and gesturing the others to stay back, he poked his head around the entrance.
The rat-like reporter they had seen a few days ago was standing by the doors to the great hall, his camera swinging furiously, and his watery eyes bulging. Across from him, by the great double-doors leading out to the grounds, stood none other than Rita Skeeter (Harry quickly ducked out of her range of vision).
“My dear Porlitus, Harry and I are great friends, I am quite sure he would prefer…” Rita was saying in a sickly sweet voice.
“He has already agreed an interview with me!” squeaked Porlock indignantly. “An exclusive on his defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named…”
“Knowing Harry as I do, I highly doubt that. He would much prefer an interview with a reporter who has written more exciting stories than dragon fossils in Denmark! Page four, I believe, is your best achievement?”
“Two,” growled Porlock, his ears turning an ugly red. “And I would have made the front page with my foreign wizards report if it hadn’t been for stupid Emmeline Vance dropping dead…”
Rita gave a high-pitched laugh.
“And you still think you can handle the Potter boy’s story better than I? I, Rita Skeeter, record-holder for most front page articles written in the Daily Prophet!? You dungbat, Porlock, go home to your dragon fossils.”
Porlock looked furious, but decided not to argue. He stormed past Rita and out of the doors, cursing as he went. Looking satisfied, Rita unclipped her dragon-skin handbag, pulled out her acid green Quick-Quotes quill, and walked sharply out of the doors after him, her heels clicking on the stone steps, no doubt planning a fresh attempt to convince Harry to give her an interview. Feeling a grim satisfaction at the look Rita would have on her face when he gave his public statement, Harry led the way across the entrance hall and into the Great Hall for lunch.
At ten-to-three that afternoon, Harry, Ron and Hermione said goodbye to the Weasleys, left the damaged classroom and set off across the grounds. Harry wasn’t sure how he felt about the meeting; on one hand, he was pleased he was doing something constructive, but he would also have to talk to the press, which he had been purposefully avoiding.
“Harry?” came Hermione’s voice, as if from a long way off.
He stopped suddenly, realising he had already left the magical boundaries of the grounds and was now walking off towards Hogsmeade.
“Oh, yeah” he said, shaking himself. “Well, let’s go then.”
He turned on the spot and felt the familiar sensation of being squeezed down a small tube. When the feeling deceased he found himself in a dull side-street with an overflowing skip nearby. There were two pops, and his two best friends appeared beside him. Hermione looked slightly flustered, while Ron seemed to be indulged in his own thoughts. Taking a rather deep breath, Harry removed the invisibility cloak from his pocket and threw it over the three of them; they all automatically crouched, as from past experience they knew the cloak would not cover their feet or ankles any more.
They set off at a brisk trot towards a vandalised-looking telephone box. After squeezing inside (which was very hard under the cloak) Harry picked up the receiver, which was hanging on a rather thin wire and looking as if someone had tried a fresh attempt to rip it from the wall.
He twirled the dial to the number 62442 and a cool female voice said; “Welcome to the Ministry of Magic. Please state your name and business.”
“Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger” muttered Harry, feeling unusual talking to an invisible voice when they, too, were invisible. “We’re here for a meeting with the minister.”
“Thank you,” replied the female voice coolly. “Visitors, please take the badges and attach them to the front of your robes.”
Three golden badges came shooting out of the money change chute, each bearing their names and Meeting with Minister in shining letters. Harry passed them to the others, attaching his own awkwardly under the cloak.
“Visitors to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and present your wands for registration at the security desk, which is located at the far end of the Atrium.”
“As if,” Harry said darkly; he hoped they would be able to slip past security un-noticed, as he did not want countless staring (and possibly accusing) eyes following him through the Atrium. Harry tried to ignore the fresh pang of guilt he had felt on thinking this as the box shuddered, and began to descend.
The box slid jerkily to a halt at the bottom of its shaft. A few ministry workers nearby looking round curiously, obviously wondering why the lift had arrived with (apparently) no passengers. Harry looked to his left and saw Ron clutching Hermione protectively; for some reason, all three of them were slightly nervous about entering the Ministry after how their most recent visit had ended.
“The Ministry of Magic wishes you a pleasant afternoon,” said the female voice, and the door swung open. The voice had attracted a few more puzzled looks, and one wizard was even approaching with his wand out.
“Oh, no,” whispered Hermione. “I don’t want them to find out we’re here… Confundo!”
Hermione had aimed her wand at the approaching wizard; he stopped for a moment, his eyes slipping out of focus, then turned around and walked away in a slightly drunken manner.
Ron sighed in relief. “You’re a genius, Hermione.”
“I thought we knew that already,” she whispered back, smirking. Harry wasn’t in the mood for them to suddenly start flirting, so he gave a loud cough and set off towards the lifts at the other end of the Atrium.
It was very hard to dodge through the crowd of bustling ministry workers without arousing suspicion. A few people were left with aching feet, and some left confounded (courtesy of Hermione). When they reached the security desk at the far end, Harry noticed that as well as a Watch-Wizard, there were Sneakoscopes, secrecy sensors and other types of dark detectors on the desk beside him. Harry was pleased to see that Kingsley had obviously stepped up security since he came to power.
However, when the trio stepped past the desk, instead of hearing the screeching and whirring of the dark detectors alerting the Watch-Wizard of their presence, a cold sensation descended down their necks. Harry likened it to walking through a waterfall; much like the entrance at St. Mungo’s. Kingsley must have cast a spell so that they were able to pass the security desk without being bothered and hindered by both the Watch-Wizard and, more importantly, the rest of the ministry workers. Harry made a mental note to thank him.
They chose an empty lift, and Ron hurriedly pressed the button to move. The grilles slid shut noisily and the lift clanked into life, ascending into the heart of the Ministry of Magic.
“Level Two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters and Wizengamot Administration Services,” said the cool female voice.
Almost there, thought Harry. Just one more level to go…
The lift had gathered people on its way up, so that now the three were finding it hard to go un-noticed. However, at level 2, almost all of the witches and wizards in the life left, leaving the trio with just an ancient-looking witch with wrinkles that made her look like a shrivelled-up prune (plus a few fluttering memos) for company.
“Level One, Minister for Magic and Support Staff, containing the offices for the Minister for Magic, Advisor to the Minister, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, and Junior Assistant to the Minister.”
The lift clanked to a halt once more and opened its grilles. They waited for the little old witch to shuffle away, then stepped out. The lift shut its grilles and descended back to Level 2.
The long corridor leading to the offices for the Minister and his staff were spotlessly clean, with a deep red carpet imprinted with a handsome gold Ministry of Magic crest every few metres. The walls were lined with portraits of ex-Ministers, muttering and shuffling among themselves. Cautiously, and out of the view of the portraits, Harry pulled the cloak off of them.
“Well, here we go,” he said quietly, feeling rather daunted. He strode towards a polished oak door at the far end of the corridor than had a large gold plaque on it reading Kingsley Shacklebolt, Temporary Minister for Magic. The other two followed timidly; the corridor gave off an air of splendid grandeur that Harry felt they could never match up to.
Reaching the door, Harry knocked hesitantly, rapping the wood with his fist. There was a pause, then…
“Come in,” came a deep and familiar voice.
Harry twisted the doorknob and the door swung open smoothly. The room before him was bathed in sunlight from a window on the far side, showing a view of Muggle London below; he remembered Magical Maintenance had bewitched windows to show whatever weather and scenery they pleased. Kingsley was sitting at a large desk, paperwork strewn out in front of him. He looked up at them and smiled.
“Welcome! Come in, come in!” He gestured for them to enter, beaming. “You got in all right, then? I cast a charm by the Watch-Wizard’s desk… yes, it’s been like that ever since your victory, whatever the real weather,” he added, noticing Harry staring at the window.
He waved at three posh-looking oak chairs in front of his desk. They didn’t look very comfy. As they went to take them, Kingsley frowned.
“Just a second; I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, I’ve just been so busy…”
He waved his wand at the chairs, transfiguring them into comfy-looking armchairs.
“There, that’s better,” he commented, nodding once again for them to sit down. They obeyed, looking up at his broad stature.
“Now, you know why I invited you here. We need to decide what to say to the wizarding community when we explain your defeat of Voldemort. I’m sure there’s a lot to say, but let’s stick to the basics, we can decide what to say with regards to the details later.”
Harry nodded, and the others followed suit.
“Okay,” said Kingsley. “Well, if it’s OK with you, I think it’s best if you tell me what happened first. It’ll be a lot easier then to decide what the public need to know.”
Harry nodded again. “It might take a while.”
Kingsley sat back in his chair and smiled. “I’m listening.”
Harry launched into the story of the prophecy, how Dumbledore had given him lessons, about Tom Riddle and what he had done in his youth, and how Dumbledore had discovered that he had made Horcruxes. He explained that he had discovered from Slughorn that Riddle had made six (being careful not to incriminate Slughorn) and how Dumbledore had already found one. He had already told the story once recently, to Ginny; though he had not bored her with too many details of Riddle’s past. However, he thought Kingsley may want to know.
He continued that Dumbledore had believed he had found another Horcrux, and had been looking for it during his absences.
“Ah! That’s where he was!” exclaimed Kingsley, when Harry said this. “He wouldn’t tell any members of the Order. We thought we might be able to help him.”
Harry shook his head.
“It had to be kept secret. For one thing, if it got out that we were after his Horcruxes, Voldemort would have placed so much security on them, he may never have been defeated. And also, remember the prophecy? It had to be me who finished him in the end.”
Kingsley looked like he was about to argue, but was content with frowning slightly and indicating Harry to continue.
He told of how Dumbledore had taken him to the cave, found the fake Horcrux, and returned to the school weakened. They all knew what had happened next, and none of them wished to dwell too much on it.
“So, Dumbledore left you the mission of destroying the remaining Horcruxes? All by yourself?” Kingsley pressed, sounding incredulous.
“I had Ron and Hermione’s help,” said Harry, waving at the two either side of him. “And anyway, it was impossible to tell anyone else without it getting out, plus the prophecy said…”
“Yes, yes, I know, you had to do it yourself,” mumbled Kingsley irritably. “But we still could have helped you…”
Harry grinned. “We know. But it was better that way, then there was no chance of it getting out.”
“Okay. So what happened after you left the wedding?”
“We apparated to a Muggle street called Tottenham Court Road. We got your Patronus, so knew everyone was safe. We went into a café and met a few Death Eaters there.”
Kingsley’s jaw dropped. “What! How did they find you?”
“At first we thought Harry still had the trace on him,” interjected Hermione, speaking for the first time. “But later we realised that Voldemort’s name was tabooed, that’s how they found us.”
A look of realisation dawned on Kingsley’s face, and Harry picked up the story.
They proceeded to tell the whole story of their year on the run; Harry doing most of the speaking, with Ron and Hermione interrupting every now and again.
At the point where Ron had deserted them, he shuffled his feet uncomfortably, but Harry said quickly; “But he tried to come back straight away, but our protective charms kept him from finding us.”
Ron looked grateful, and Harry and Hermione continued the story of their trip to Godric’s Hollow, Bathilda Bagshot, and Voldemort himself almost finding them. Even Kingsley looked shocked at this point.
“And you got away!? I don’t know how you do it…”
Hermione, who had been speaking, blushed slightly and continued.
The Silver Doe, Ron’s return and their trip to the Lovegood’s came next, ending with another narrow escape from Death Eaters. When they explained about the Erumpent horn, Kingsley tutted.
“Just like Xenophilius, to find something dangerous, and say it’s just part of some far-fetched oddball creature…”
They all agreed. Ron continued the story of listening to Potterwatch and discovering Ted Tonk’s death, and his fellow runaways.
Kingsley looked sad. “Yes, I believe I was on that particular broadcast. It was horrible.”
“Well, right after that, Harry went and said You-Know… I mean, Voldemort’s name, and a group of Snatchers arrived and caught us. They had Dean and Griphook, who had been with Ted Tonks and the rest. Hermione did some clever spellwork… (“Oh, Ron, it was only a simple stinging jinx,” said Hermione, blushing) …and they took us to Malfoy Manor to be recognised.”
He stopped uncomfortably, and looked over at Hermione. Her grim expression seemed rather forced, and her eyes watery.
“Erm, well, they locked me and Harry in some room with the others. Ollivander, the old wand maker, and Luna Lovegood were there. And Hermione, well… they took her and, err…”
“Bellatrix Lestrange tortured her, as we had the sword of Gryffindor and it was supposed to be in her vault at Gringotts,” said Harry quietly. “But she was brilliant, she didn’t say a thing.”
Kingsley nodded, and offered Hermione a tissue. She accepted, dabbing her eyes while Ron patted her on the back.
“So how did you get out of that one?” asked Kingsley.
Harry felt another stab of pain. “Dobby.”
He explained how the elf had appeared and helped them escape, but been killed by Bellatrix in the process. After he checked that Hermione was OK for him to continue, he told of their plans to break into Gringotts and how they had been forced to ask for Griphook’s help.
The story went on to their break-in and escape on the dragon (“I don’t know how you do it,” said Kingsley dizzily) and their return to Hogwarts.
“I know what happened next,” said Kingsley wearily. “But what were you doing during the battle? Weren’t you looking for something?”
Harry nodded. “I was sure the final Horcrux we didn’t know about was hidden in Hogwarts. I asked the Grey Lady (the Ravenclaw ghost) about the diadem of Ravenclaw after what I had seen in Ravenclaw tower. She told me that she had told Riddle about the diadem and I remembered something…”
He let Ron and Hermione talk about their trip to the Chamber of Secrets and destroying Hufflepuff’s cup before telling Kingsley how they found the diadem in the Room of Requirement; encountered Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle; how Crabbe had used the Fiendfyre curse and destroyed the diadem as well as himself.
Harry felt a lump rise in his throat. They had reached Fred’s death. Ron, who was currently speaking, skipped his brother’s death completely and continued, in a strained voice, with their trip to the Shrieking Shack and Snape’s death.
“…and some weird bluish-substance came out of him and Hermione put it in a bottle,” finished Ron.
“Yeah,” said Harry, “Snape’s memories. Voldemort withdrew the Death Eaters for an hour for me to surrender, and I went up to Dumbledore’s office to look at them in his Pensieve.”
Harry told once again of Snape’s love for his mother, his loyalty to Dumbledore, Dumbledore’s planned death and his message that Harry must die. Kingsley looked shell-shocked.
“So… that’s what you meant when you said to Voldemort… we never thought, after he killed Albus…” Kingsley’s reaction to Snape’s innocence was similar to Ginny’s.
Harry patted his arm understandingly. “We all thought he was rotten, but Dumbledore always did have a good reason to trust him. Well, then I knew… I was an eighth Horcrux; one he never meant to make. I went to the forest to surrender.”
Even Harry himself was amazed at how calmly he was talking about his own “death”. It reminded him, oddly, of Dumbledore.
He told Kingsley how he had met Dumbledore at Kings Cross (Hermione gave a small, doubtful cough) and what he had told him. Kingsley’s face was unreadable.
“Well… I never thought of a life after… but if he told you all that, then he must be…” Kingsley mumbled to himself, baffled.
“Yeah, I know it’s confusing. But it happened, I know it did. And then, well… I came back. Voldemort told Narcissa Malfoy to check if I was dead and she said I was, as she wanted to find her son Draco.”
“Well, that’s interesting,” said Kingsley. “The Malfoys are awaiting trial in their manor, under 24-hour surveillance, as they seemed to be very co-operative after the battle. I’ll need to talk to you about them later.”
Harry gave an affirmative nod, then said “Well, that’s it. The story of our last year. You saw me defeat him, you heard how. So what do you think we should tell the world?”
Kingsley swung back on his chair and let out a deep breath. “Well, we certainly can’t tell all of it. Not the Horcruxes part, anyway; we don’t want any wannabe Voldemorts running around. But we’ll need to explain your absence, innocence and why he’s finally dead…”
An hour and a bit later, Harry stood on a raised podium in the Atrium of the Ministry, the hall below him crammed full of reporters and excited-looking Ministry employees. He had a short speech, prepared by himself, Ron, Hermione and Kingsley, in his sweaty hand, and was ready to face the wizarding world at last (though not for interviews). Taking a deep breath, he took his cue from Kingsley and began to read.
The speech pretty much said that Voldemort has found a way to “tie himself to life”, and that the trio had been looking for a way to “undo these ties” all year. It proclaimed that Voldemort was finally gone, and also that the Ministry under Thicknesse had been controlled by Dark Forces. Kingsley quickly added that all the “crimes” of the trio, and anyone who was against Voldemort, were excused as they were working to dispel and resist Voldemort.
After his speech, there was a short memorial silence. Harry thought about all those who had died and tried top refrain the tears he felt welling up. Then Harry, Ron and Hermione were quickly ushered off the podium and away with a guard force of several Aurors to keep away the press while Kingsley read a statement from the Ministry. Upon reaching Kingsley’s office, they collapsed into the armchairs, relieved, and awaited the Minster’s return.
About fifteen minutes later, Kingsley bustled into the office, looking flustered.
“Stupid press, can’t they take “no comment” for an answer?” he grumbled, straightening his robes. “They all want to talk to you, Harry, but I said you were “otherwise engaged”. I also banned all reporters from Hogwarts.”
“Thanks,” said Harry gratefully, “though I doubt Rita Skeeter will obey that rule.”
“Well, she’ll have me to answer to if she doesn’t. I’m already thinking of charging her with twisting the truth, but I’m more occupied with Death Eaters and all that at the moment…”
Harry caught Hermione’s eye, but she shook her head. Why was she not telling Kingsley about Rita’s status as an un-registered Animagus? But then he thought of all the stories she may plan to write in the coming months, and silently agreed with Hermione that it was best to keep that card un-played for now.
“Well, you can use my fire to floo back to Hogwarts. It’s one of the only fires connected to there at the moment, as reporters or Death Eaters may want to get in,” a bothered-looking Kingsley told them, so one-by-one they said goodbye and prepared to step into the warmly-burning flames of Kingsley’s fire. As they were about to go, Kingsley pulled them back.
“Just a second, I almost forgot to tell you… I’m planning a huge memorial service, for all those who died in the final battle, at Hogwarts, next Wednesday. I wanted to ask you if you think this would be appropriate.”
Harry was surprised Kingsley valued their opinion so much. He looked around at the other two, who nodded.
“I think it’ll be fine, Kingsley,” said Harry. “People will want to say goodbye to all who fought, instead of having to attend every individual funeral.”
Kingsley looked relieved. “Exactly. I, as Minister, will attend all the individual funerals, too, but it will be helpful for those who just wish to pay their respects at once.”
He smiled wearily, and gestured to a bag of floo powder on his desk.
“I’ll see you soon, maybe before Wednesday; I still need to talk to you about Death Eaters and medals. Goodbye for now!”
Harry followed Ron and Hermione into the fire.
“Hogwarts!” he said firmly and clearly.
Kingsley’s comfy office fell away, and he started spinning, glimpses of other rooms flashing before his eyes, a green haze part-obscuring his vision, as he span on his way back to Hogwarts.
Hi all! Sorry I haven’t updated in so long, I’ve been rather busy and unsure what to write. I hope you liked this chapter; again it’s a little longer than intended but ah well :-) As always, your feedback is welcomed in reviews; does this chapter drag on too long? Do you love it, hate it? I’d love to hear :-) Thanks for reading! I’ll try and update soon.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Harry winced as Ginny tightened the chords of his new black dress robes. Turning around, he tried to kiss her but she dodged him and continued her work, straightening his collar and making a vain attempt to flatten his hair before giving up.
“I don’t get why we have to look so smart,” protested Ron from the other side of the dormitory, as Hermione wrestled a comb through his messy red hair. She stopped as he said this, turning to stare at him indignantly with her hands on her hips.
“Oh, Ronald, you really are hopeless,” she said, rolling her eyes as she did so. “We’re going to a funeral, and there will be hundreds of people there. What do you thing they’ll think if we turn up in T-Shirts and jeans? Well I’ll tell you; they’ll think we don’t care.”
“Fred would never have minded,” Ron muttered under his breath. “He’d probably have wanted us all to wear bright pink.”
Harry and Ginny laughed, and the edges of Hermione’s mouth twitched slightly before returning to their reproachful look.
“Well, you can wear want you want to his funeral, but this is for everyone who died. Anyway, what’s wrong with these?” She indicated his sleek black dress robes. “It was awfully kind of Kingsley to give them to us, so don’t act so ungrateful.”
Harry agreed with her there. Kingsley had given them all black silk dress robes free of charge to attend the funerals with. Harry had tried to force some galleons into his closed fist but Kingsley had insisted they were “compliments of the Ministry”. Harry still didn’t understand why everyone was treating him like a saint; he had almost as much power as Kingsley himself at the moment.
Ron, who had been temporarily stung into silence by Hermione’s comment, tried to change the subject away from her endless scolding.
“Well, I suppose you’re right. That dress he gave you looks beautiful on you.”
Hermione blushed furiously and once again looked like she was trying not to smile.
“Thank you. It is rather nice, isn’t it?”
Harry and Ginny exchanged amused looks. How Ron and Hermione could go from bickering one minute to flirting the next was hilarious to watch.
As for the dresses, Harry once again agreed with Hermione. Kingsley had sent her and Ginny two black, shapely items with matching black purses. Despite their purpose being for a funeral Harry still thought Ginny looked stunning in hers.
Ginny seemed to have noticed his staring and raised her eyebrows. Harry pretended to cough and blushed furiously.
“So, err… shall we get going?” he stuttered, sounding for all the world like Professor Quirrell.
Ginny looked herself up and down in the mirror quickly, nodded, and held out her arm. Harry took it and they silently made their way down the staircase and into the common room, where they met Neville and Luna, who were both wearing black. Ron looked surprised.
“Luna? How’d you get in? You’re not a Gryffindor!” he exclaimed, before wincing after receiving yet another elbow in the ribs from Hermione. “I’m not a punch-bag, you know,” he told her crossly.
Luna seemed not to have noticed the two’s argued conversation and replied, “The Fat Lady was kind enough to let me in. It was very nice of her.”
Neville beamed at her, much to Ron’s curiosity (which was cut short by yet another elbow in the ribs from Hermione). He then turned to Harry, his face changing into a serious one, and said, “Are you ready?”
Harry nodded sombrely and let the way out of the portrait hole, Ginny on his arm. They met more people in black along the way, including George, who was looking uncharacteristically serious and grim. Ginny squeezed Harry’s arm comfortingly, as if she sensed the guilt that was once again flooding through him.
As they reached the entrance hall, they were hailed by Kingsley, who informed them that, while reporters had been banned from Hogwarts since their meeting at the Ministry, he had no choice but to let them in for the memorial service.
“There are plenty of Aurors about and they’ve been told to keep the press away from you, but I’m sure they’ll be more concerned with the security regulations. I’m sure you can handle them, though, eh?” He gave a reassuring nod. “Well, I’d better get going; security is tight as we don’t want any loose Death Eaters ruining the proceedings. Well, at least we know who we’re looking for now.”
He was referring to his and Harry’s short meeting on Monday morning, at a Muggle café, during which they had discussed which Death Eaters were still on the loose and prepared a speech for the memorial service. Harry had wanted to pay thanks to everyone who had helped them, but there just wasn’t time (as Kingsley was on a tight schedule) so they agreed to arrange another meeting after the memorial service to discuss a second service, at a later date, to present awards. They had also decided that the service would be for everyone who had died because of Voldemort; not just during the final battle, but right from the dawn of his rise to power.
Harry nodded in agreement. “I’ll be fine. If Rita Skeeter comes searching, she’d better have her wand handy.” He grinned.
Relieved, Kingsley bid them goodbye and hurried away. They proceeded across the hall and stopped in front of the huge doors, each preparing themselves to face the world and say goodbye to their loved ones. After a few seconds, Ginny slowly pushed the doors open.
The sight that greeted them was remarkable; they were reminded of Dumbledore’s funeral, except, if possible, there were even more people. The bank of the lake was a sea of mourners, all dressed in black dress robes or suits, with the odd flash of colour. They were all gathered around a spot not far from Dumbledore’s tomb; there was a single, gigantic gravestone of marble constructed in the centre, which, while now blank, would soon bear the names of all those who had lost their lives in both wizarding wars. The sun was blazing brightly over the proceedings, reflecting off the lake like it was made of glass.
Taking a deep breath, Harry stepped outside and descended the slope to the lake, Ginny at his side and Ron and Hermione just behind. As they drew closer the hubbub of chatter grew quieter as everyone turned to stare at the oncoming hero, the one who had ended this war once and for all.
As Harry looked back at them, he saw faces of disbelief, sadness, tiredness and even some of joy. Everyone seemed to be dealing with their grief in their own way; they passed a group of mourners, their tear-tracks clearly visible on their red cheeks. Some cried, some stood gravely and unemotionally, some tried to cover their grief by making a few weak jokes.
There were groups of goblins, house elves, and all sorts of magical creatures gathered as well; even the centaurs had come, though they remained separate from the rest of the crowd. The merpeople poked their heads out from beneath the lake, and Hagrid’s giant half-brother Grawp (who had, remarkably, survived his battle with Voldemort’s own giants, which had outsized him by a mile) was sobbing into a gigantic tablecloth that could have covered all four of the house tables. It was a mix and match of beings and beasts. But everyone assembled, human or not, was joined with the rest in grief, and most (with the exception of a few sneering or mad-with-grief individuals) recognised Harry as the person who had ended the deaths and sorrow and were grateful.
As the golden trio plus Ginny neared to front of the congregation, a man threw himself in front of them, tears in his bloodshot eyes and his hair awry.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. My little girl, my wife… they did not die in vain, thanks to you. Thank you,” he sobbed, before being gently moved aside by another mourner, who gave them an apologetic look.
Harry had never felt more shaken. The grief and thankfulness in the man’s eyes were unbearable; how could he be thanking Harry, when if it wasn’t for Harry, his wife and daughter wouldn’t have died in the first place? He felt himself shaking as Ginny gently eased him into a seat on the front row, which had been reserved for the trio, the Weasleys, the minister and a few other people (including Professor McGonagall).
“Oh, no,” muttered Hermione exasperatedly.
“What is it?” asked Ginny. She turned around, and echoed Hermione. “Oh no.”
“Harry! Harry, dear!” Rita Skeeter was making a beeline for them through a crowd of mourners, shoving them out of her way unceremoniously.
As she finally reached them, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all stood in front of Harry as if to hide him from her.
“Go away,” snarled Ron. “You’re not wanted.”
“Now, now, young man, I simply want a word with Harry. I…”
“Why won’t you give up? Harry’s already given his account of last year through that ministry statement!” Hermione pitched in. Rita turned to her, the expression on the reporter’s face resembling that of one who has just seen something very unpleasant yet scary.
“There’s no need to panic, I’m not trying to put him down,” she said in a forced sweetness. “Everyone thinks he is a hero. But, come now, “ties to life”? There’s got to be more than that. You haven’t told the whole story.”
“I said, leave,” Hermione said levelly.
Rita looked affronted, and made a meal of straightening her dress. Behind Ginny, Harry was shaking with anger, struggling not to whip out his wand and curse Rita.
“Naturally, I understand Harry must be very upset,” Rita continued, “as he could have prevented all those deaths, had he have given himself up sooner. But…”
She had gone too far, and she knew it. Harry roared with anger, drawing several worried glances from the mourners around them, drew his wand and prepared to curse Rita. But Rita was already clutching her face, trying desperately to deter tiny green things with wings that had begun to attack her, flapping her crocodile skin handbag frantically, while clutching her stomach in pain.
Ginny coolly put her wand away and grinned at Harry. She must have got there first, with her famous Bat-Bogey Hex. But Rita looked worse than the effect of one curse; why were her hands erupting in boils?
Harry looked up to see Ron and Hermione looking happily at Rita, and realised that she had been hit with three curses at once. He had the best friends, and girlfriend, in the world, he thought to himself contentedly.
“I suggest you leave now,” said Hermione squarely to Rita, careful to keep out of range of her wildly flailing handbag. Rita staggered away, and the four turned to each-other and laughed. Those around them didn’t seem too bothered by Rita’s disposal, besides an officially-dressed ministry wizard, who looked shocked.
“That should show her,” came a dreamy voice from just behind.
Luna and Neville had arrived, and had taken seats in the second row directly behind them. The rows were filling up fast now, and Harry noticed Kingsley talking mutedly with a small ministry wizard who Harry recognized from both Dumbledore’s funeral and Bill and Fleur’s wedding. His heart sank a little, but he remembered that Kingsley had assured him that there would not be any long speeches.
After it appeared that everyone had arrived and settled into a seat, Kingsley pointed his wand to the skies and sent up sparks. The hubbub died down almost immediately and Kingsley put his wand to his throat to magnify his voice, as Harry had seen Ludo Bagman do at the Quidditch World Cup.
“We are gathered here today,” boomed Kingsley’s voice across the grounds, “to remember all those who lost their lives in the first and second wizarding wars. To remember all those who perished at the hands of Lord Voldemort (there was a collected intake of breath from the congregation) and his followers. To honour them, and to say our goodbyes to them. They will always be in our hearts and minds, forever.” Kingsley lowered his wand and bowed his head.
There was silence for a few minutes, each person or creature dwelling upon those they had lost. Harry felt the pain of grief tear at his heart, but he did not cry. He felt Ginny silently crying beside him and squeezed her hand.
Then the ministry wizard shuffled forward and put his want to his throat. There was really no need, everyone was so quiet.
“I will now read out the names of all those who perished in this terrible war,” he wheezed. “As I say their names, Mr. Harry Potter (he inclined his head towards Harry) will cast their name onto the gravestone behind me. It is only fitting, as he is the one that has ended it all.”
Harry gulped. He had arranged with Kingsley that this is what he would do, but he was beginning to doubt why he had agreed to it. He had been practicing the engraving charm for days, with Hermione guiding him along the way, but he could hardly keep his wand steady as he rose and turned to face the assembled mourners.
He would rather take on one hundred Voldemorts than do this, Harry thought to himself. However, he held his wand out in front of him, pointing it at the blank gravestone, ready to carve in the first of many names.
Harry felt a huge pang of guilt; the biggest so far. It felt so much worse hearing it officially spoken, at a funeral. Shaking, he cast the name of Hannah Abbott’s mother into the gravestone, remembering the time Hannah had been taken out of Herbology to be informed of her mother’s death.
Harry knew what was coming as he carved Regulus’s name into the white stone.
Harry felt like turning to the lake beside him and jumping into it, being pulled down into its’ dark depths by Inferi… but he cast his godfathers name onto the gravestone beside his brother and Mrs. Abbott’s, blinking back the tears that threatened to overwhelm him .
The list of casualties went on and on… it seemed almost endless. Every name Harry carved into the white marble tore at every fibre of his being to scream and yell in grief and guilt, but some were worse than others. Hearing the ministry wizard call out “Creevey, Colin”, “Dobby” (Kingsley had entered Dobby’s name as he rightly believed he did just as much as any witch or wizard), “Dumbledore, Albus”, “Lupin, Nymphadora”, “Lupin, Remus”, “Moody, Alastor”, “Potter, James”, “Potter, Lily”, “Snape, Severus” (it had been announced that he was innocent) “Tonks, Ted” and “Weasley, Fred” were among some of the most painful moments in his life; worse than suffering from the Cruciatus Curse.
Other sufferers of the war, such as Neville’s parents (who had lost their sanity or similar as a result of torture by Death Eaters) were also mentioned, though not carved onto the gravestone.
The names of the dead Death Eaters were not called out. The Malfoys had arranged a separate funeral for them; it would be watched closely by the ministry, with Kingsley and Aurors in attendance.
After the last name (which was Fred’s; the most painful of all not just as Fred had been like a brother but Harry had not had as much time to come to terms with this loss as the rest) had been read out, Harry stepped back and, as he had agreed with Kingsley, transfigured a nearby pile of leaves into a white dove (something he thought he’d never be able to do; when he’d practiced it all they had done was make a bird made of leaves) which flew over the gravestone. He then stepped back for Kingsley to come forward. The minister’s face was grave and sad.
“If you could all raise your wands in remembrance, please. Those without a wand, please just remember.”
Then every wand in the grounds was raised and pointed at the gravestone; from each one came a string of light. As they got closer to the gravestone they bunched together and flowed into the slab of white marble, until it was too bright too look at. The centaurs, merpeople, house elves, Buckbeak (who had also survived the battle) and even Grawp bowed their heads in silence.
Harry raised his own wand and did the same. He remembered everyone; his parents, Sirius, Dumbledore, Fred, Remus, Tonks, Snape, Dobby, Colin…
The light suddenly expanded rapidly, sending a shockwave over the crowd that knocked many off of their feet. When the wave had dispersed, the marble had become smooth and shiny, as if it had been coated in glass. The white dove flew once again over the gravestone, then off into the mountains which surrounded the castle.
There was silence for what felt like forever, and then he felt someone slip their hand into his.
“It’s over,” whispered Ginny quietly. “You can move on.”
And, deep down, despite the pain and the grief, Harry knew she was right.
He was free.
First of all, I’m really sorry for not updating! I’ve been away for five months but I’m back now and I’ve fought off my writers block. Thanks for everyone who’s stuck with the story so far and I hope you will not be disappointed! I will post the next chapter as soon as I can, and I promise it won’t take five months LOL :-) Also sorry to all those who I have not reviewed due to my absence, I will get going as soon as possible. Please read and review! Thanks again, Dalek194
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Harry slumped, relieved, onto his four poster. “Well, I’m glad that’s over.”
Ron shuffled into the dormitory behind him, followed by Ron and Ginny. “Yeah, you’re telling me,” he muttered, throwing himself onto his Chudley Cannons bedspread.
Ginny and Hermione took seats on what had been Neville and Seamus’s beds.
Harry felt for all the world like he had just run a marathon. Regardless of the fact that it was three in the afternoon, all he wanted to do was sleep.
“Are you OK, mate?” asked Ron cautiously. His question was followed by a muffled “oof!” and a shrill whisper from Hermione, in which Harry distinctly heard the words “insensitive” and “teaspoon”.
Mercifully, Harry found himself able to laugh.
“It’s OK, Hermione. I’m fine. I… yeah” Harry stopped himself and just took in the feeling of freedom that had washed over him an hour ago. It was if the wave that had pulsated from the gravestone and swept through him like a gale had carried the pardon of every soul whose name was carved onto it, forgiving and enlightening him. He still had a huge sense of guilt, but he was now able to overcome it so that it was pushed back, to the deepest, darkest corners of his mind.
Ginny happily sprang off of her bed and onto Harry’s.
“It’s like we said; no-one blames you. And at last you can see that,” she said softly, snuggling into him happily. Ron looked away pointedly.
“Yes, well, erm, if you two lovebirds don’t mind, I’m going down to the kitchens. The House Elves will be preparing for the feast, and first come, first serve!” After a dangerous look from Hermione, he added “Er… They’ll probably be needing some help.”
Harry and Ginny ignored him, so he grumpily grabbed his wand and stomped out of the room.
Harry poked his head out through Ginny’s glistening red hair.
“We’d better get after him. We don’t want his lordship in a bad mood at the feast, do we?”
“No,” reasoned Ginny, reluctantly pulling away from Harry. “He’ll eat all the food. But he does make a point of interrupting us when he can, and it drives me mad.” She paused thoughtfully. “Maybe it’s time he met one of my Bat-Bogey curses first hand.”
Harry just laughed, and the trio followed Ron down the spiral staircase.
They found Ron, looking rather haphazard, at the bottom of the grand staircase. A girl with messy blonde hair and an orange badge pinned to her robes was standing, awestruck, in front of him. There were a number of papers lying strewn over the floor between them, which Ron was picking up.
“Hey Ron,” said Harry, catching up to him. “Who’s your friend?”
Ron shrugged, then glanced down at the folder he had just picked up.
“Daphne Applegrass, apparently,” he read off the folder, which was bright, Chudley Cannons orange.
The girl, who had until now remained silent, gave a little scream. Ron looked up at her, surprised.
“What? Is that not your name?” he inquired, bemused.
The girl looked like she was going to scream again, but didn’t. She paused for a moment, muttering something under her breath, and when she looked up she seemed to have composed herself slightly. She reached tentatively for the folder Ron was holding out for her.
“Erm... no, no, that’s me. I mean, that’s my name. I... err, I mean wow; it’s just... it’s such an honour...” she stammered.
Ron now looked really confused. “An honour?” he said incredulously. A look of realisation began to dawn on his face. “Oh, right, you mean Harry, yeah... well, there he is!” He made an extravagant gesture towards Harry.
The girl shook her head. “No... not him, I mean... you, you’re... you’re Ron Weasley!”
Ron grinned. “Yep, that’s me! Wow, you actually know my name. But what’s the big deal about meeting me?”
Now it was the girls turn to look shocked. His words seemed to have inspired something in her.
“Big deal!? You’ve, like, done as much as anyone, you’re, I mean, you’re a hero!”
Ron scoffed. “Me, a hero? It was Harry who defeated He-Who-Must... I mean Voldemort.”
The girl gave another little scream at the mention of Voldemort’s name.
“So brave, to say the name... and modest, too... here, let me show you.” She opened the folder Ron had picked up and handed it to him.
As Ron flicked through the pages his eyes got wider and wider until it looked like his sockets were no longer big enough to hold them. He eventually snapped it shut and handed it back to the girl.
“See!” she said firmly, “You’re a hero! No offence,” she added to Harry, completely undaunted by him. She turned back to Ron. “Do you mind if I take a picture? To prove I’ve met you. Wait until the girls back at the RWFC see this!”
Ron was jerked out of the state of amazement he is like a fish out of water. “Girls? What girls?” he asked. Then, after a sharp look from Hermione, “What’s the RWFC?” Hermione rolled her eyes.
“The Ronald Weasley Fan Club, of course!” said the girl, howing him her orange pin badge. It had the letters RWFC emblazoned in bright gold upon it. “Orange for the Chudley Canons,” she said happily, taking a camera out of her shoulder-bag. She handed it to Harry. “Here, could you take it?”
Struggling to conceal his laughter, Harry took the camera and pointed it at Ron and Daphne. It flashed brightly and a bright plume of smoke enveloped his face, making him cough violently.
Daphne looked delighted, and took the camera from him as he staggered backwards. Ginny patted him on the back as an ecstatic Daphne put the camera away and retrieved the rest of her things from the floor.
“Before I go, can I ask you one more thing?” she inquired of Ron.
“You just did,” he pointed out, making her howl with laughter. “Well, go on then.”
“Can I get an interview with you some time? You know, for the fanzine.”
Ron looked like he had been slapped hard around the face.
“Fanzine!?” he choked.
“Yep!” replied Daphne happily. “The first issue’s going out next Thursday; not tomorrow, but a week after – and it would be amazing to have an interview with the man himself! Here’s the address, just owl me when you’re ready!” She handed him a small slip of paper and was off, skipping towards the great hall and the wafting smell of food.
Ron stood frozen to the spot, gobsmacked. Harry came forward and patted him on the back, laughing.
“Come one, your lordship, the kitchens await!” he chuckled, but Ron didn’t laugh.
“Look... mate, I’m sorry about that, it should be you that get the appreciation and the fanzine...” he began, but Harry cut him off.
“Come off it! I don’t mind, and you deserve some recognition anyway.” He looked around at them. “You all do. I don’t know why everyone thinks I’m the big hero...”
Ginny shook her head. “Don’t be stupid. You deserve the credit because you stopped him. But other people helped, and they deserve to be recognised. But I dunno why anyone would make a fanclub for Won-Won, I mean, seriously...”
“Hey,” interceded Ron. “It’s Ronald to you. And I’ve got a big interview coming up, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to the great hall.” He turned around grandly and strode off.
Ginny and Hermione both tried and failed to stifle giggles, while Harry struggled to keep a straight face as he called “I thought you were going to the kitchens?”
Ron swiftly did a U-turn and changed direction, heading off for the kitchens. Not bothering to conceal their amusement, the trio of Harry, Hermione and Ginny followed him, laughing.
They caught up with Ron as he was in the process of tickling the pear in the portrait of the bowl of fruit that hid the kitchens. Giggling, it transformed into a green door handle, which Ron pulled, opening a concealed door.
Despite all the events of the last week, the Hogwarts kitchen was clean as clean and gleaming as ever. House elves bustled about here, there and everywhere, carrying various platters of food and drink. The giant ovens hissed and sizzled as various meats, vegetables and savouries were cooked to perfection. Ron took a long sniff of the air and sighed dreamily.
“It’s like being in food heaven,” he said, watching as a dozen house elves removed a giant turkey from the inferno that was the main oven.
Hermione, meanwhile, was glancing around with a frown on her face, as if looking for anything that may threaten or seek to harm the house elves. She spotted one elf (who had a very evident limp) who was dragging a pot of sprouts across to one of the four massive tables.
“Erm, hello there? Are you OK?” she enquired worriedly, rushing to the elf’s side and taking the pot of sprouts from it.
“Monty is fine, miss,” squeaked the elf. “It’s nothing, Monty will be fine.”
“Is that your name, Monty?” asked Hermione.
The elf nodded, and made to move away, but Hermione wouldn’t allow it. As she grabbed the tea towel Monty wore, it unravelled slightly, revealing a layer of towel caked in blood. Hermione looked shocked.
“Goodness, what happened to you?” she cried, pulling the elf back and laying him gently on the floor.
“Monty is fine,” insisted the elf, attempting to get up again, “Monty has to help with the feast for his masters!” But Hermione held firm, raising the Hogwarts-stamped tea towel aside to reveal a gash across the elf’s right leg. He looked rather sheepish, and attempted to pull the towel back over the wound.
“Why didn’t you tell somebody?” Hermione asked the elf.
“It is not Monty’s place to bother his masters with his problems,” Monty replied grudgingly, still attempting to wrestle himself free.
Hermione looked incensed. “What do you mean, not your place!? You have as much of a right to medical care as any wizard, or any other being for that matter!” The elf bowed his head.
“Hermione,” said Ginny quietly, “remember that all this year they’ve been under the control of Snape and the Carrows. They were treated worse than they were when Dumbledore was in charge. I suppose now we know Snape was on our side he wouldn’t have been too bad to them but... he had to keep his cover up.”
Hermione nodded and turned gently back to Monty, who had been attempting to creep away unnoticed while her attention was diverted.
“Look, Monty, I’m sorry for what you’ve been through this year. But the Death Eaters aren’t in charge any more, and I’m sure McGonagall will be perfectly happy for you to receive medical attention. She may even let you...” but she stopped short at a pointed cough from Ginny.
The elf finally gave in, and slumped into a heap on the floor, examining his leg. “It does hurt Monty a little,” he admitted.
“Well, then, you take yourself off to the hospital wing and I’m sure Madam Pomfrey will be more than happy to treat you,” said Hermione gently. “You’re a brave elf, you all are, to risk your lives and join the fight like you did. You could have been killed.”
“It is our duty, miss,” answered the elf. “And sadly, we did lose one of our own...” he looked at the floor. “Poor Dobby.” And with that, he vanished into thin air.
Hermione sighed. “I’m going to have to rethink S.P.E.W. We need to take more action. And I suppose the best place to do that would be the ministry. But I’d be even better placed if I did my NEWTs...” She put her head in her hands. “I don’t know what to do!”
Ginny put her hand on Hermione’s shoulder comfortingly. “It’ll be OK. You’ve still got time to decide. Whatever you do, I know it’ll be for the best.”
Hermione smiled wryly but gratefully. “Thanks,” she said, “but I still have no idea what to do.”
At that moment, Ron appeared out of the throng of busily working house elves, a turkey leg in each hand.
“Come on! They’ll be sending up the starter in a minute, and they’ve already sent a few appetisers!” he said, his voice muffled through a mouthful of turkey. Ginny grimaced.
“Ron, you really are disgusting,” she remarked, rolling her eyes. Then, quietly to Hermione, “I don’t know what you see in him.” But she couldn’t help smiling slightly as Ron turned to Hermione and said;
“What did I do?”
He may be an odd brother, but he was still here. Unlike Fred, she thought bitterly. But before she could reflect on the thought she felt Harry’s arms around her shoulders, and she pushed the grief to the back of her mind, remembering she still had him too.
“What’ve you been doing, then, Mr Potter?” she inquired.
Harry grinned at her. “Talking to Winky and Kreacher. He’s been trying to help her get over her butterbeer problem; she’s making real progress...” he halted on seeing her blank look. “Oh, of course, you don’t know...”
“You can tell me later,” she suggested. “Right now we’ve got a feast to get to. I think he’ll eat all the food down here and let empty platters go up if we don’t take him away soon!”
They turned away, calling to Ron and Hermione and waving goodbye to the house elves, and together left through the hidden door. Ron caught up with them, stuffing his pockets full of all types of food the house elves were presenting him with.
Hermione rolled her eyes; something she had done a lot since she met Ron. “Come on, Ronald, or they won’t have any food left,” she called to him.
“Bossy boots,” he replied, but as they went to leave, he gave her hand a squeeze.
“Come on. We’d better catch them up,” he said. “Race you to the great hall?”
Hermione paused for a moment, then... “You’re on!”
And together they ran out of the door and onwards to the feast.
Hi guys! Sorry for taking so long to update, but at least I didn’t take 5 months this time :-) Anyway, this chapter was designed to bring Ron and Hermione more into the story as before it had mainly been about Harry and also provide some comic relief, so I hope it did that. I will try and update as soon as possible; next chapter will probably be the feast plus maybe some of the conversations afterwards... still thinking! I think it’s time the plot picked up a bit, so look out for that! Thanks, and please review! Your comments are always appreciated, positive or negative. Thanks again, Dalek194 :-)
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Wednesday, 13th May 1998, 02:38am
Auror Michael Prowls had had a hard day.
The depleted Auror department had been doing their best to track down all the Death Eaters who had fled since Voldemort’s defeat, but with many of their number dead, injured or on compassionate leave, the strain on those remaining was tremendous.
Today had been no different. A report that a group of Death Eaters had been sighted up north had yielded no results (aside from tiring everyone out), before Prowls and a few others were called in to capture the Death Eater Mulciber Junior, who had barricaded himself inside a barn in Yorkshire. This saw the department lose yet another Auror as Wiggleby had been injured and sent to St. Mungos.
Then the department had received a tip off that a Death Eater had been spotted in a north London warehouse, meaning Prowls was now crouched behind a pile of rain-soaked barrels staring bleakly at the barren entrance to said warehouse in the middle of the night, as he had been for the last 5 hours. And to add to that, he was working overtime. Just great.
Prowls was just considering calling it a bad job and giving up when the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly prickled. As an Auror of 16 years experience, his instincts had become as sharp as those of a cat, and he listened intently for the slightest of sounds. For a moment, all he could hear was the distant rumbling of Muggle vehicles on the M25 motorway about half a mile away, but then his trained ear picked up the eerie creaking of rotten wood, then the screeching of metal.
Prowls drew his wand and tiptoed across to the next barrel in the line, keeping himself confined to the shadows. His surname had always been well-suited to his job, he thought, as he crept towards the warehouse’s entrance. He peered inside, trying to make something out, but all he could see was dark, gaping blackness. A chilly breeze blew through the rotten girders of the building eerily, sending a chill down the Auror’s spine. Overgrown strands of grass drifted their direction towards the warehouse in the breeze, giving the creepy impression of fingers beckoning for him to enter.
Prowls gulped. He had never been one to back down in the face of danger, but that didn’t stop his heart pounding so furiously he’d swear that it would give him away to any potential threat...
His knuckles white against his yew wand, he darted inside, taking cover immediately behind some boxes. Once again he tried to make out any details, but the blackness deeper inside the warehouse was impenetrable.
“Lumos,” he breathed, and his wand tip lit up, showering light over the soggy cardboard boxes he was sheltering behind that read “Morgan and Peters Ltd. Quality supplies - right here, right now”. A date was crammed into the corner, which Prowls read in the dim wandlight as 1992.
Cautiously, the Auror raised his wand, directing its light dead ahead of him; he didn’t want to alert an enemy to his presence. He kept the light low and close to the ground, but after covering 10 paces worth of boxes he froze.
“Nox,” he whispered quickly, and the light at the tip of his wand extinguished itself.
The chilling feeling that he was being watched had crept over Prowls, and he stayed as still as a statue, his tired eyes staying alert for any sign of movement. His keen vision picked out what looked like a silhouette behind a mountain of crates about ten metres away.
“Hello,” he called quietly. “Is anyone there?”
There was no answer. Then, more sternly, he said; “I’m armed. Surrender now and no-one’ll get hurt.”
Still, no reply. Slowly, he approached the figure, before stopping short five metres away.
“I’m warning you...” he said shakily, trying to keep the element of fear out of his voice.
The figure stayed still. But then, Prowls heard a shuffle of boxes...
“Stupefy!” he roared, and a jet of red light shot out of his wand, hitting the crates and blasting them aside. A crate struck the figure, and it pitched forward, smashing into the warehouse’s granite floor with an almighty crash.
Prowls almost let out a cry of triumph, but then he saw something sticking out of the figure’s back. A lump of some kind... it was then that Prowls realised it was the hilt of a knife.
He rushed forward, his human instinct getting the better of him, but it was as he crouched down that he realised his mistake. But it was too late. Prowls heard a husky cry behind him.
A jet of green light lit up the warehouse momentarily, hitting the Auror square in the small of his back. He slumped forwards onto the other body, and Michael Prowls moved no more.
Wednesday, 13th May 1998, 05:42pm
The Great Hall at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was bustling with activity. Every few moments a mourner, journalist, ministry official or battle combatant would enter through it’s great doors and take a seat at one of the great four tables, which were piled high with every type of starter food you could think of, as well as hundreds of tankards of pumpkin juice. Several people were already tucking in, but most were chatting sombrely to their neighbours. There was plenty of movement between tables going on.
But despite the number of people, the sound of chatter was fairly hushed and subdued, and the mood was dreary and serious. That was not to say that no-one was remotely jolly; a few laughing children were gathered round a red-haired, worn-looking youth who was telling some faint hearted jokes, assisted by another redhead with curly hair who seemed to be, if anything, ruining most of the punch-lines. But there was no sense of real happiness about at all.
Harry Potter was reminded of the mood at the after tea of a funeral he had once been forced to attend, for one of Uncle Vernon’s aunts; though he had been very young at the time, he remembered the sad, slightly removed expressions on the attendees’ faces – everyone had said their goodbyes but was still in quiet grieving. He saw this expression reflected today in the hundreds of faces that gathered in the ancient hall.
Harry was sat alongside his girlfriend Ginny Weasley, watching wizard after witch after wizard after witch enter, recognising some but not all of the stony faces. One that caused his blood to boil was something of an anomaly; the quietly content face of Rita Skeeter appeared, bustling through the doors, her face betraying no sense of loss at all. Harry bristled, but Ginny sensed his anger and gently placed her hand on his. He muscles relaxed again.
“Hey, is that Dedalus Diggle?” Harry asked suddenly, spotting the tiny Auror’s purple top hat among the rest of the crowd. Ginny looked relieved Harry had not pursued the topic of Rita any further.
“Yeah, looks like it,” she replied, jerking out of her train of thought. “I mean, who else do we know who wears a purple top hat? Why?”
“Because he was looking after my Aunt and Uncle, remember? I’m going to ask him about them – I hope they’re OK.”
Another wave of guilt washed over him, as he had gotten used to recently, but this type of guilt was different. It was not guilt that a death was on his conscience, but guilt that he had not thought once about the Dursleys’ wellbeing since the weeks after he had left Privet Drive. Even just a few moments earlier, when he’d been reminded of Vernon’s aunt’s funeral, he had spared a thought to whether they were still alive. He supposed he had grown so used to ignoring their existence during term-time at Hogwarts that he’d taken the habit with him into hiding.
“I’m sure they’ll be fine,” Ginny assured him, a slightly anxious note in her voice all the same.
Harry didn’t hear her; he was already on his way to Diggle, squeezing between two of the giant tables, which were now almost fully occupied. The Dursleys and he were hardly in a loving family relationship, but he would have hated for something to have happened to them because of him.
“Dedalus!? Hey, Ded!”
Diggle turned his head, diverting his attention from a strongly built wizard he had been talking to, accidentally elbowing the wizard headfirst into a platter of garlic bread.
“Harry! I mean, Mr. Potter, I mean... well, you’ve done it again, m’boy! You’ve saved us all!” He put his finger to Harry’s lips with a mock stern expression, sensing he was about to argue. “I won’t hear any of it! It’s you that’s done it, and that’s that!”
Harry admitted defeat and swiftly moved on to the matter in hand. “Dedalus, I...”
But the tiny wizard shook his head, putting his hands over his ears. “No, no, I won’t hear any of it! You deserve full credit!”
Harry sighed. “That’s not what I’m saying,” he persisted. “What I wanted to ask was... erm... the Dursleys; I mean, are they OK?”
Diggle’s face fell ever so slightly. “Err, well, yes, they’re quite well. If, um, by well, you mean rather angry. And, um... slightly aggressive. But only at times. We get on rather well really... but yes, they’re in perfect health, if that’s what you mean. Except your cousin’s got a bit of a cold, but... yes, they’re fine.”
Harry shoulders slumped in relief. “Oh, good. I mean, that’s such a relief. And, err... sorry if, y’know, they’ve been rude to you.”
Dedalus’s eyes widened. “Sorry, my dear boy? No, no, you have nothing to say sorry for. They are naturally upset, of course... though they are settling in quite nicely now. I’m not sure how they’d react to moving back again.” He gave a nervous giggle.
“Don’t worry,” Harry assured him. “I’ll pay them a visit soon. Let them know they can go back if they wish... but I suppose they already know that.”
Dedalus gave another nervous giggle, except this time it was more of a hiccup than a giggle.
“Well, erm...” he stuttered. “I, ah, haven’t really got round to telling them yet. I’m sorry, m’boy, but it’s just been so busy, what with the Department short of Aurors and so many Death Eaters to round up... and that’s without us losing Wiggleby to St Mungos...”
“It’s OK,” Harry assured him. “I’ll deal with them. Just send me an owl with their address and I’ll pop along as soon as possible.”
Diggle looked grateful. “Why, thank you, Harry. I’ll remove the protection charms I’ve put around it... though the fidelius charm could be quite tricky to undo. I’m secret keeper, but you’ll be able to find it when I send you the address. OK, will do!”
At that moment the giant form of Hagrid strode through the doors, bowling over two reporters who were bickering in the doorway and sending them reeling. He saw Harry and waved, his massive hand striking another wizard who was tucking into cheese rolls, sending the unlucky man face first into a bowl of salad.
“Sorry bou’ that, Albert,” Hagrid called behind him as he made a beeline for Harry and Diggle. “Big ‘ans, y’know.” He waved his arms about vaguely, grinned and narrowly missed sending a nearby ministry witch sprawling.
“Er... I think you’ve had a few too many Firewhiskeys, Hagrid,” said Diggle, nervously tracking Hagrid’s staggering approach towards them.
“Oh, ‘ello there. Issat you, Ded?” He patted the tiny wizard on the head, sending Diggle tumbling to the floor. Hagrid frowned a little.
“Sorry, Ded. Dunno wassgot inta me today. I been bein’ a bit clumsy-like.”
“That’s quite OK, my friend,” said Diggle, picking himself up and dusting down his robes. “I’m quite alright. I think one of those reporters over there may need a good caster of Episkey, though.”
He indicated one of the reporters Hagrid had bowled over, who was clutching a bleeding nose angrily. Harry noticed that the other reporter, who was pointing his wand at his counterpart’s face attempting a healing spell, was Porlock from the Daily Prophet.
Turning back to his two companions, Harry was blown away by the difference in size between Hagrid and Diggle. It looked as if Hagrid could hold Diggle quite comfortably in one hand, and the half-giant was almost ten times the height of the excitable Auror. It made Harry laugh out loud, something he hadn’t been able to do often recently.
Comically, both Hagrid and Diggle looked up at the same time, hearing his laugh.
“What’s that, my dear boy?” asked Diggle, oblivious.
Harry swallowed the laugh and put on a straight face. “Err... nothing. So you’ll send me the Dursleys’ address by owl, yeah? Only maybe you’d better send it protected delivery in case any Death Eaters try to intercept it. We don’t want anyone else harmed now the war is over.”
“No,” agreed Diggle. “We don’t.”
Harry left Diggle and Hagrid discussing the Dursleys (“a righ’ nasty lot they were when I las’ met ‘em,” Hagrid had remarked, sparking a protest from Diggle; “They’re lovely people really, just with a few slight niggles...”) and made his way over to what was usually the Gryffindor table, where Ginny had joined Ron and Hermione in his absence.
“Hey Harry,” said Hermione, putting on a smile that quickly turned into a frown when she saw Ron tucking into some cream cheese beside her.
“Ronald! Don’t be so disgusting. Why do you insist on constantly eating like a pig?”
Ron frowned, and said through a mouth full of cheese, “Ook, Er-my-nee, I issed da appetidas, an’ arry dudn care, dus oo arry?”
Hermione gave up and rolled her eyes. “If you keep eating like that you’ll have no room for the rest of the feast,” she remarked bitterly, but Ron either didn’t hear or ignored her, and moved on to piling his plate with rolls.
Ginny laughed. “Don’t worry about it Hermione. You should see him at family gatherings; Muriel doesn’t half scold him. You’ll get used to it eventually.”
Ron was just reaching for another roll when all the food disappeared, and his plate, too, was suddenly clean. Ron frowned indignantly. “What the...” he began, but was cut off by a magically amplified voice coming from what was usually the teachers’ table.
“Could I have your attention, please?” rang out McGonagall’s voice, echoing around the Great Hall, and silence fell almost at once.
“As you all well know, we have gathered here today to remember all those who died in the first and second wizarding wars,” she began. “Though we have already commemorated their passing earlier today, I would like to make one last act of remembrance; a toast, to the fallen. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. May they rest in peace. Amen.” She raised her goblet high, and every hand in the hall (with the exception of a few reporters, who were too busy photographing the scene) did the same.
After a few seconds, McGonagall lowered her goblet and took a sip. For a moment, the Hall began to bubble with quiet chatter again, but then McGonagall said, “I will now pass you over to the acting Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt.”
There was a polite round of applause as Kingsley stood up and bowed to McGonagall.
“Thank you, Minerva,” he said. “Well, I suppose that said it all. Let us eat!”
The tables were suddenly once again laden with food, only this time it was the main course – mountains of steaming hot roast potatoes, vegetables and meat and all sorts of other things. There was a clatter of plates and cutlery as the hundreds gathered all filled their plates.
As Harry reached for the Yorkshire puddings and Ron tucked into roast beef, Hermione exclaimed, “Oh! I forgot to tell you, earlier we were asked if, err...”
Ron almost choked on his beef in laughter. “Oh, yeah,” he grinned, taking a sip of pumpkin juice to stop his coughing. “Some mad hatter from some “institution” came and asked us if we had anything for his... what was it?”
“Museum,” mused Hermione. “Apparently he’s making some kind of collection of wizarding artefacts... with stuff from the wars – broken wands, cloaks, that kind of thing. But he wants a whole exhibit on us, he said; things we used, or left behind in various places.”
Ron guffawed into his pumpkin juice. “Mad, eh?”
Ginny frowned. “It sounds like he’s trying to make profit and entertainment out of a war. That’s just wrong.”
Harry found a memory of his short lunch with Kingsley returning to him. “Oh, yeah, I think Kingsley mentioned something about someone trying to get permission for that,” he remembered. “He wasn’t sure about it either, but the guy may just be trying to do something different. I mean, there’s no official “Museum of Wizardry”, is there?”
“I suppose not,” considered Hermione. “But it would be have to be carefully handled if they did open one.” She dropped the subject and shovelled green beans onto her plate.
The main course was finished, and people were just tucking into the dessert when Harry spotted a glistening white streak appear in the enchanted roof (or, as it looked, sky) above his head. He recognised it as a Patronus; was it some sort of beaver? It spirited through the air and landed beside Kingsley, who quickly performed what Harry could have sworn was the Muffliato spell (which Harry had informed him of at their last meeting). Kingsley nodded and the Patronus faded into thin air. The acting Minister straightened up, a grave expression on his face, and whispered something in the ear of McGonagall, who looked shocked.
Harry nudged Hermione, who looked up from her trifle. Ron was too engrossed in a fudge sundae to notice anything.
Slowly McGonagall rose to her feet. A few people who had, like Harry, noticed the Patronus nudged their neighbours and soon quiet fell. When McGonagall spoke, her voice was strained.
“I am afraid we have received some very bad news.”
There was complete and utter silence now, every face staring up at the staff table. Many looked terrified, and were giving each other the same looks; he couldn’t be back again, could he?
Kingsley rose to his feet to stand beside McGonagall.
“The Auror Michael Prowls has been killed,” he boomed grievously. The noise level rose immediately with panicked chatter, but Kingsley continued, “I ask you all to remain calm. Let the service that we held this afternoon and the toast we raised earlier be to him as well as all the others.”
Harry was shocked. Surely the war was over? Surely all those people hadn’t died for nothing...
He got up and made to make his way towards Kingsley, who was talking urgently with a ministry official on his right while another wizard tried to keep people in their seats, but Ginny stopped him.
“It’s not your fault. You can’t even say it is this time. OK? Whatever happens.”
Harry nodded, gently shook himself free and made his way towards Kingsley. A crowd of witches and wizards (mainly reporters) were gathered around the staff table trying to talk to Kingsley. The ministry wizard was holding them off, but at a height lesser than Diggle’s he didn’t look like he’d stand much chance if someone tried to barge past.
“Please, keep back! The minister is not available for comment; keep back, I say! No, no, we don’t believe he’s back, that would be impossible... no, I’m not making an official statement, I just think that...” he paused on seeing Harry, and began ushering the reporters aside so Harry could get through.
“Why does he get through!” demanded and angry reporter with a large red nose and a double chin.
“Because he’s Harry Potter, you idiot!” cried the ministry wizard in annoyance, but then realised his mistake as all the reporters turned to Harry instead. “Keep back, back I say!” he squeaked again, trying to hold back a man with a large camera but simply being shrugged off as easily as a fly.
“Harry, would you be interested in an interview...”
“Mr. Potter, I’m from Witch Weekly...”
“If you’d just sign exclusively with us...”
Harry ignored the bombardment of offers and squeezed through to Kingsley, hating himself for using the authority he presently possessed but despised. But he had to know what had happened; he couldn’t believe that Voldemort was back, but Kingsley would obviously be the one in the know about this, however vaguely. Diggle and a few other Aurors Harry recognised but couldn’t name came forward to help the ministry man hold off the crowd of reporters.
“Why we let them in I don’t know,” sighed an agitated Kingsley quietly, to himself more than anyone else. Then he saw Harry and beckoned him over tiredly.
“What happened?” Harry asked anxiously. “It’s not...”
“Of course not,” Kingsley replied gruffly. “It couldn’t be – it’s not logical. People are bound to think that. What I want to know was how they did it, and who they are. Prowls was one of our best guys – he lived up to his name and was always one step ahead of the enemy. I just don’t get this.”
“Is there anything else you know,” asked Harry tentatively, not wanting to irk the stressed and grieving minister.
“Only that he was found in a disused Muggle warehouse in London, responding to a suspected Death Eater sighting, and that he was killed by the killing curse. He was found by our team when his flatmate reported him missing earlier today. It looks like he died sometime in the early hours of this morning.”
“Poor man,” sighed Harry, blowing the air out of his cheeks stressfully.
“Yeah, he was a good guy. A great Auror, and a really nice man too. With him gone the Auror departments’ going to struggle even worse than we are now – and that’s saying something.” He put his forehead in his hand in despair.
Harry had a sudden brainwave. “Well, erm, if you’re that short, I could always... I mean, me and Ron could...”
Kingsley looked up at him and twigged what he was saying.
“Usually, I’d say no. You’ve been through enough. But, heck, we’re on the brink. We need guys who can duel and you two’ve done more of that than most. But two rookies just out of school won’t make that much of a difference, however good you are; we won’t have time to train you and...”
Harry had another idea. “You could ask some of those who fort in the battle. Just on a temporary basis, I mean, until you round the Death Eaters up. I know most a grieving but there are some that really want to help. Like Neville, for one.”
Kingsley’s unusually aged-looking face betrayed that he was seriously considering the matter, and after a few moments thought he nodded.
“Yes, you’re right; I don’t think we’ve got a choice. I’ll make the announcement now, if fact – most people who would be any good are here now.” He drew his wand from his pocket and put it to his throat.
“Sonorus” he muttered, and when he spoke, his voice was magically amplified, making it boom across the Great Hall. Hanging candles shook in their holders.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make an announcement. Following the loss of our dear friend Michael Prowls, the Ministry’s Auror department is now at full stretch. If there is anyone here who is willing to work, only temporarily, with no specified pay as of yet, please come and see Bernie here.” He indicated the wizard he had been talking to earlier, who was now sitting further down the table talking to Flitwick. The man looked quite surprised, but produced a quill and parchment from nowhere and pushed aside his now-forgotten plate of treacle tart.
“I warn you,” continued Kingsley, “There will be danger involved, and I have no guarantee of when or what you will be paid. Anyone wishing to participate must be of age and must have completed their final year at Hogwarts... though I admit it was a fruitless one academically.”
“We’ll do it for free,” roared Neville from the third table from the right, and several others let known their approval.
A small line of people was queuing up in front of Bernie; the other ministry wizard was busy extracting reporters from the line who were attempting to sneak into the Auror department. Porlock was currently at the front of the line.
“The name’s Lee, Cedric Lee,” said the Prophet reporter to Bernie, but Harry quickly jumped forward a forcibly pulled him out of the line.
“It’s Porlock, and you’re obstructing an attempt to improve the safety of the people!” Harry snarled at him, giving him a shove down the few steps up to the staff table. Porlock stumbled and sneered.
“They shouldn’t be letting anyone in without proper training,” he sulked, but moved aside as the little ministry wizard glared threateningly at him, his stubby wand directed at the reporter’s retreating legs. Porlock scarpered.
Neville approached Harry brightly. “Well, I’ve signed up,” he told Harry, half-happy, half-aggrieved that the trouble had not ceased. “What do you make of all this, then?”
Harry sighed and shook his head. “I just don’t know,” he admitted. “Well done, though; I’m sure you’ll be a great addition to the Aurors.”
“Only temporarily,” Neville pointed out. “But they need help, and I think I can give it.” He strode off confidently to sit with Luna and a bunch of Hufflepuffs, which included Hannah Abott, Ernie Macmillan and Justin Finch-Fletchley.
Harry made his way back to Ron, Hermione and Ginny. Even Ron had stopped eating and they all looked concerned.
“Well,” Harry said bitterly but determinedly. “Here we go again.”
Hey all! I tried to get things moving in this chapter as they have been rather lacking in action so far, so I hope this didn’t disappoint! I can’t tell you exactly what I’ve got planned for the next chapter, but I know at some point soon I’ll be covering Harry’s visit to the Dursleys, deal with the Malfoys and, obviously, the Auror crisis!
The underlined part when McGonagall was giving a toast was from the fourth stanza of the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon.
Sorry for the odd way the second part of this chapter started; I know it was as if I was starting the story from the beginning by re-introducing some of the main characters (using their full names, etc.) but it just felt appropriate for that point.
For those who are wondering about the “protected delivery” status, it was more of a gag (parodying the real “recorded delivery” service) than actually being serious. But if you really want to know, I’ll say it’s something Kingsley introduced to protect selected documents right after the war LOL. Yeah, that’ll do :-)
Thanks in advance for reading and (hopefully!) reviewing, and to everyone who’s reviewed in the past. Any length of reviews – whether short one-liners or as long as this (madly long) author’s note - are greatly appreciated; even if you hated it, let me know and I’ll try and improve. Thanks again ;-)
Finally, a quick shout out to Jay, who’s cycling 300 miles from London to Paris this September to help children suffering from cancer. I’d highly recommend that you donate whatever you can to this very worthy cause; every little helps! See the main HPFF page for more info.
Thanks again for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I’ll try and update as soon as possible. Thanks again, Dalek194 :-)
EDIT: Re-submitted with minor grammar errors fixed.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling and do not own any of these fantastic characters.
Harry wearily dragged his trunk out from under his four-poster, where it had been sitting idly ever since Hermione had unpacked it from the beaded bag a few weeks ago. It felt odd to be doing what he had done so often before when leaving Hogwarts (at the end of a school year) when everything was so different now.
However, packing was also nothing like what it had used to be. Rather than filling the trunk with books, potions ingredients, school robes and similar things, he was packing only a bare minimum – the invisibility cloak, a few battle-worn shirts and jeans, and some of the other things he had discovered that Hermione had produced from the beaded bag (most of which Harry didn’t even know she had packed) such as Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, some of Moody’s dark detectors and a wand she had won during the battle (Harry had agreed when she had suggested that when working as an Auror, it may be wise to keep a spare wand on hand; Harry had even duelled and beaten her for it (on her suggestion) so that it would work better for him, should he need it).
Harry and Ron had made plans to stay at Grimmauld Place in the immediate future while they were filling in as emergency Aurors. This was why Harry didn’t need to pack much – though Hermione had kept all the important things such as The Tales of Beedle the Bard and the cloak in her bag during their stint at Sirius’s old house last year, they had left many of their spare clothes and such there when Yaxley’s untimely visit brought about their departure. Harry had asked Kreacher about the state of the place, and the old elf had replied that though it had been thoroughly searched by Yaxley and other Death Eaters, the house and its contents were mostly still intact.
In fact, since Kreacher had learned that they would be staying yesterday evening, he had returned regularly in the night to excitedly inform them that various rooms were now tidied; clothes (strewn to one side by the Death Eaters) were now put away and ironed ready for their visit, and had even appeared this morning to inform them that he had put the stove on for a beef casserole, which would be ready for them on their arrival later that day. The house elf seemed brighter than Harry had ever seen him.
Harry’s thoughts were interrupted by Hermione entering the dormitory, muttering to herself slightly. She gave him a wry smile, then turned to Ron’s bed, and began shaking out the duvet.
“What’s he forgotten now?” inquired Harry; since Ron had “finished” packing an hour ago and gone down to the common room, Hermione had been appearing frequently to locate something Ron had forgotten and insisted wasn’t there.
“Ah, here they are,” said Hermione huffily, emerging from the sheets with a small, 5-sided container clutched in her hand. “I’ve no idea why he needs his wizard card collection, but there you go...”
She made as if she was about to leave, but Harry called out to stop her.
“Erm... Hermione?” he asked in a slightly awkward voice. “I was wondering if I could ask you something.”
It was something he had been meaning to point out for days – ever since the battle had ended – but had felt too much that it was none of his business. Now, though, he thought enough time had passed to have a fair reason for mentioning it.
Hermione turned and gave him a quizzical look. “Yes, of course. What is it?”
“Well, it’s just...” began Harry slowly. “It’s just that... it’s been a while since the battle now, and... well, I just thought that...”
Hermione looked very puzzled, so Harry decided to just come out and say it.
“Look, I know this is going to sound nosy, insensitive and stupid, but... your parents, shouldn’t you be going to get them now?”
Hermione blinked, and looked slightly taken aback a moment. But then she regained her composure and said, her voice very brittle compared to usual;
“I know. I mean, yes, I should, but... I’ve been thinking about it for a while. We’ve been so busy, with all the cleaning up and memorials, and I thought...”
Her face betrayed a tear and Harry realised the dilemma she was in.
“Oh, Harry, what will they think of me!? I’ve wiped their memories, sent them to Australia and let them get their own life there! Will they even want me back? And not to mention how tricky memory charms are to undo... remember Lockhart?” She put her head in her hands.
Harry thought back to seeing the once-famous Gilderoy Lockhart in a ward at St. Mungos, his memories of his fame completely gone (though he was just as full of himself as ever) and his manner childlike. Harry was sure Hermione had performed a better and more intricate charm on her parents than Lockhart’s backfired attempt, but he could imagine the difficulty in reversing it.
Hermione still wept, and Harry could think of little to say to console her. “Of course they’ll want you back – you’re their daughter,” Harry pointed out, but felt very awkward for bringing the subject up.
To his relief, at that point Ron appeared in the doorway.
“Hermione, did you find my...” but he stopped when he saw her crying and immediately went over to her, putting his arm around her shoulders and letting her head fall onto his shoulder.
“What’s wrong?” he mouthed silently to Harry, soothingly running his hands through Hermione’s bushy hair.
“She’s worried about her parents; how to get them back,” Harry mouthed back. Ron seemed to have understood, and gently untwined himself from the sobbing witch to face her. He brushed a strand of loose hair out of her eye.
“I’ll go with you, if you want,” he said comfortingly, “to Australia. We’ll get them back,”
“Thanks,” sniffed Hermione, “B-but I think I need to go alone. They’ll be angry, and n-not likely to want anything to do with the wizarding world for a while. I’ve got to ease them back into it. But Harry’s right (Ron gave Harry a stern look at this point, as if telling him off for upsetting her), I need to get them back. It’s b-been long enough.”
She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief she seem to have produced from thin air, and stood up.
“Sorry for the fuss,” she said, “It’s silly when they’re perfectly fine and unharmed. But they’re my parents, and...”
Ron cut her off. “It’s OK. Let’s go and get some lunch. I’m sure the house elves will... I mean, I’m sure there’s something to cheer you up.”
Hermione gave a watery smile. “Don’t worry, Ron. I don’t mind them doing the cooking; McGonagall treats them right. I just don’t understand why they refuse to get paid...”
As she began to descend the stairs, Ron gave Harry a slightly sarcastic grin, then followed his girlfriend down to the common room and beyond to the Great Hall.
It looked like Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches was again coming into play for Ron. Harry made a mental note to flick through his copy before he had some free time with Ginny, and added it to the small pile in his trunk.
15 minutes later
Seeing Ron, Hermione and Ginny tucking into lunch at the Gryffindor table, Harry made a beeline for them, his stomach growling. But halfway past the Hufflepuff table he accidentally collided with a tall, dark-haired someone.
“Sorry,” said Harry, looking up to see who he had hit.
“That’s OK, Harry,” said Neville, who looked very distracted. “My fault – I wasn’t looking...”
“Hey, what’s wrong?” asked Harry – Neville’s body language suggested he was in even more than a kerfuffle than usual.
“Oh, it’s nothing...” Neville started airily, but saw that wasn’t going to work. “It’s just that I can’t find anywhere to put me up in London during the Auror work. I was going to stay with Great Uncle Algie in Ealing, but I’ve just got an owl saying he’s discovered a Doxy infestation and the house won’t be fit to live in for weeks while the Ministry clears out the Doxies. And the Leaky Cauldron’s full, I’d be hopeless in a Muggle hotel...”
Harry had a brainwave (he seemed to be full of them recently).
“You could stay with me and Ron at number 12, Grimmauld Place,” suggested Harry. “It’s my house anyway, and the old headquarters of the Order of the Pheonix. There’s plenty of room – you’d be welcome!”
Neville’s face, which still bore cuts and bruises from the battle (and before), brightened. “Really? You wouldn’t mind?”
Harry grinned. “We’d be delighted to have you!”
“Thanks,” Neville beamed back, “I’ve got my stuff all packed already. When do we go?”
Harry checked his watch (which, through all their trials and troubles, had somehow remained in perfect working order).
“In about 5 hours,” he calculated. “It’s 12:34 now, and we’re set to leave at five thirty to arrive in time for tea. Kreacher’s cooking beef casserole. My house elf,” he added by way of explanation to Neville, who had possessed a blank look at Kreacher’s name.
“Wow, Harry, you’ve got a house elf? Cool! But, erm, is Hermione OK with it? ‘Cause...”
Harry laughed. “Yeah, she’s alright with him. He’s happier now that... well, long story.”
Neville nodded understandingly. “OK. See you at five fifteen in the entrance hall then. Thanks again!”
“No problem,” Harry replied, and set off for his friends to tell them the good news. Though he knew it wouldn’t be plain sailing, he was looking forward to the next few weeks!
By 5:23 that evening, Harry, Ron and Neville were packed and ready to go. They said goodbye to the Weasleys at the steps of the castle, but Ginny and Hermione walked down with them to the castle gates. As Hermione had countless times reminded them in the past, they were unable to disapparate while within the Hogwarts grounds, so Harry had had to ask McGonagall how to get out of the gates (which still held countless protection charms to stop unwanted visitors, though now they were used to keep out reporters rather than Death Eaters). The headmistress had obliged by casting a Patronus that would stand by the gates awaiting their presence, then allow them through when they arrived.
As the high, foreboding shadow of the new gates loomed near (the old gates, which dated back to when Hogwarts was first founded, lay in a mangled heap of twisted metal nearby after being conquered by Voldemort and his followers during the battle) the three said their goodbyes. Ron held Hermione close and seemed to be whispering to her more words of comfort about her parents (who she now planned to retrieve the following week) while Ginny engulfed Harry in a trademark Weasley hug that half-crushed him to death but made him feel happier than anything else could. Neville stood by waiting slightly awkwardly.
“Be careful,” Ginny whispered into his ear. Harry could feel in the hug a slight note of worry; both of them knew that being an Auror would be by no means an easy or safe job.
“I will,” he breathed back, and as they broke apart he gave her a short but passionate kiss.
“See you on Monday,” said Ron to Hermione – they had arranged to meet just before the latter’s flight to Australia from Heathrow airport. Ron had been baffled as to why Hermione had decided to take the “Muggle flying train carriage”, as he put it, rather than apparating, but Hermione put forward the good point that apparating to Australia would mean several stops in various countries, and would tire her out to the point of exhaustion. Also, she wanted to get back into the “feel” of Muggle life, as she suspected her parents may be very sensitive about magic in the days following her reversal of the memory charm.
Harry and Ron finally pulled away from their girlfriends (well, sort-of girlfriend in Ron’s case) and strode with Neville towards the gates. They were identical in design to the old ones, but much shinier paintwork. Only one of the two winged boars that had flanked the gates remained; the other looked to have been blasted into tiny fragments by the Death Eater attack.
When they were a few feet from the gates, the glowing form of a cat leaped out from behind a nearby bush. It had distinctive spectacle markings around its eyes, which told Harry that it was McGonagall’s Patronus (which took the same form as she did when she transformed into a cat, which she could do thanks to the fact that she was an Animagus). It purred, circled them once (leaving a trail of light in its wake) and then jumped straight through the gates. Landing nimbly on all-fours, it turned to face them expectantly.
The trio of Aurors-to-be stepped forward slightly nervously. The light that had circled them flared up for a second as they stepped towards the gates. From the girls’ point of view, the ball of bluish-white light within which the boys were now located then floated through the gates and vanished, leaving behind a rather puzzled-looking Harry, Ron and Neville. The Patronus watched all this, then faded away into nothing as the ball of light had done.
Harry got his breath back from the surprise of, through his eyes, appearing instantly on the other side, and turned to check Ron and Neville were OK and ready. Both nodded, clutched their suitcases (and, in Neville’s case, box containing a toad) tight and prepared to disapparate. Ron would take Neville (who didn’t know where Grimmauld Place was) while Harry would take his luggage, to even out the load.
As he prepared to disapparate, he saw Hermione and Ginny waving at them from the other side of the gates. He waved back, concentrated on an image in his mind of the dingy street that was Grimmauld Place, and disapparated.
After the horrible feeling of being forced through a small, tight rubber tube was over, Harry found himself and his load standing in the middle of a darkly-lit, worn-down Muggle street. Before he had had time to do much, however, Ron and Neville appeared beside him with a loud “crack”.
“You both OK?” asked Harry, as Neville looked interestingly around at their surroundings.
“I think I splinched a filling,” growled Ron, poking his tongue around his teeth to try and work out which had a part missing, “but I’m OK.”
“Erm, OK, I think,” Neville replied groggily, “Not a nice experience, though. Not nice at all. How do you put up with it all the time?” Neville had never apparated before, though he had had basic lessons with the rest of his classmates back in 6th year.
“You get used to it,” said Ron, shaking his head to clear his diziness. He then withdrew the Deluminator from his pocket and clicked it until all the streetlamps on Grimmauld Place had gone dark, while Neville watched on in amazement. Finishing his work, Ron pocketed the Deluminator and turned to houses 11 and 13.
Neville now looked even more bemused. “I thought you said that the house was number 12?”
Harry exchanged winks with Ron. “Watch and learn, Neville.”
Harry reached into his pocket and drew out of piece of parchment, on which he had written a few hours earlier. He handed it to Neville.
“Read it out loud.”
“The residence of Harry James Potter may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London,” read Neville. He handed the parchment back to Harry, who placed it on a nearby wall.
“Incendio!” cast Harry, pointing his wand at the piece of parchment. It crumpled and withered, then broke out into a small ball of flame. When the tiny fire died down, the parchment was no more.
“Hang on, mate,” said Ron. “That’s left a black mark on the wall – Tergeo!” The ash which had burned the wall was siphoned off by Ron’s cleaning spell - Hermione would have been proud... if not also a little surprised.
Neville didn’t know where to look. For while Harry and Ron had been going about their business of destroying the parchment and cleaning the wall, another house had forced itself into existence in between numbers 11 and 13; a house that was identical to all of the others in the road aside from its twisted serpent-shaped doorknocker.
“Wow,” he breathed, “So this is your house?”
“Yeah,” replied Harry. “As I said, it was headquarters for the Order, but the three of us – that is Ron, Hermione and me – stayed there for a while last year while we were on the run. You know, before we broke into the Ministry of Magic.”
It sounded bizarre saying it, even now. Neville nodded weakly as they ascended the steps to the door with its flaking black paint and serpent doorknocker. Harry stepped forwards, knocked once to inform Kreacher of their arrival, then opened the door (which creaked much less than Harry was used to) and entered.
Ten minutes later, they were tucking into a massive beef casserole, topped with steaming mashed potato and flavoured with a variety of rich-tasting herbs, as prepared for them by Kreacher. The old elf had greeted them all warmly, including Neville (“’Tis a pleasure, Master Neville!”), transported their luggage upstairs - where Harry and Ron would sleep in the room they had shared in the past for the time being, and Neville would take what had been Mr and Mrs Weasley’s room (Fred and George’s old room was still full of gizmos that Harry felt it was best not to touch for now) – and bustled them into the kitchen for dinner.
Now, he said gleefully in his bullfrog voice, “Desert’s almost ready now! Chocolate fudge trifle; Master Ron’s favourite.”
Ron’s eyes lit up, but Neville said, “Erm... I don’t mean to be impolite, Kreacher, but I couldn’t eat another thing after this!”
Kreacher, though, took this as a compliment to his cooking, and beamed. “Young masters must get their strength up for tomorrow. Young masters have a big day with Auror training!”
Harry nodded, his mouth full of casserole. “You’re right there, Kreacher,” he half-choked. “Absolutely right...”
Hey folks! First and foremost, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll take the time to review. All reviews are appreciated, good or bad! Also, a quick note on the way this chapter panned out; I planned to have most of it involving Harry, Ron and Neville’s entry into the Aurors and maybe even a visit to the Dursleys or Malfoys, but somehow it ended up as a bit of a filler – sorry! I know it’s a bit lacking in action and some of the paragraphs are a bit long, but I hope you still enjoyed it.
Secondly, before anyone pulls me up on this (well-spotted if you found it :-D) I know that JK has said in an interview that Hermione performed a different spell on her parents than Obliviate (yes, the film gets it wrong) as Obliviate wipes memories as opposed to the spell Hermione used, which just took away memories that could be returned with a counter-curse. But I felt it would be too complicated to explain all this during the course of the story and that it would interrupt the flow (there’s a lot of waffle as it is in this chapter LOL) so I just put the spell she used under the vague title of “memory charm” (maybe the spell Hermione used fell into the category of memory charms?). I know the Lockhart comparison makes it seem like Obliviate, but I’m just going with that Harry didn’t know the exact spell Hermione used.
Finally (and thanks if you’re still reading this madly long authors’ note) a big thank you to Jay and all the staff for all of their great work, particularly during the recent troubles in early April, but also generally for their hard work, dedication and patience. It’s their contributions that keep this site’s heart beating, and they deserve more credit than they are ever given. Thanks guys!
That’s it from me; I hope you are enjoying the story so far! The next chapter should be up quite soon – I’m writing it now – and I promise it’ll be more action packed. Thanks again for reading and (hopefully) reviewing! Dalek194 :-)