Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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The atmosphere was not the only thing that was amiss. It would have been too easy for his death to end the entire fiasco that was Harry Potter’s tainted life but somehow he had thought that when the blade of Gryffindor’s sword stopped the life that Tom Riddle had chosen, that things would be easier. Harry was a hero, fame thrust upon him, sworn to slay the villain while protecting his princess. With Voldemort gone, Harry expected to emerge from the ridiculously simply duel, not whole, but certainly free.
Some fairy tales are told to children in hopes that the past will not repeat itself. It was the hope of all that the world would never again see evil so wholly consume so many. The band of Death Eaters had been taken down with their master’s death. Several parents would later be heard to say, “That is what happens when you pledge yourself to the dark arts.” The stories should have begun immediately and peace should have abounded but that was not the way things had worked out for Harry and all expectations of a rapid finale were dashed by two words that foggy, cool spring morning.
“What?” Harry started blankly at one of his best friends, before absently swiping at a piece of dirt that was clinging haphazardly to his disheveled hair. His hand tangled in a twig that had stuck fast as he raced out of the Forbidden Forest. He yanked hard and winced as it pulled free.
“The Muggles!” Hermione rung her hands and bit her lip before hugging him, yet again, and bursting into noisy tears. “It is chaos everywhere!” She exclaimed and backed off from him to spin around, searching the field.
Harry couldn’t comprehend it; most everyone he saw along the Hogwarts grounds was calm. “What do the Muggles know?”
She didn’t even bother to turn and face him as she spoke again, apparently ignoring his question. “I think Ron had to take care of Neville but he should be here shortly.” She spun suddenly. “Ginny was certain you were all right but…” tears leaked freely from her overly bright eyes and Harry’s heart constricted painfully. He hated to see her so upset. “Anyway,” she ran her trembling hands over her face, clearing away the moisture. “It’s bad Harry and Ginny’s gone to see if she can find him with Charlie.”
Harry’ brow furrowed. “Find who?” He dropped the sword from his hand. It may have been a priceless relic but it was also tainted with the blood of a person who was once a man and he found that he didn’t want to carry it anymore. He shook his head to clear his thoughts. Hermione isn’t making any sense. “Where did Ginny go? She’s all right but not…” he swallowed his disappointment that she wasn’t here, waiting for him on the edge of the forest.
Hermione shoulders sagged in what Harry thought might be relief before turning once more to study him. He glanced over her head to see Ron sprinting towards them, his face set and drawn.
“What is going on?” Harry demanded, worried suddenly that their plan to end Voldemort’s reign of tyranny had not gone off as smoothly as they had hoped. It doesn’t make any sense! Harry thought angrily, a flush spread through his face. He could see the hundreds of black robed figures spread through the grounds, all of whom appeared stunned or… or maybe even dead.
“Harry!” Ron ran smack into him, crushing him in a vice like hug that was worthy of Hagrid.
“I’m fine!” Harry assured Ron but the myriad of emotions that had been swirling in his brain finally came to a head and he had to blink rapidly to stop the tears from flowing freely. It was unnerving to see your best friend this relieved. Harry was almost certain that Ron was experiencing the same thing as he was, because his best mate backed off quickly to take Hermione in his arms; comforting her.
“Did you tell him?” Ron asked her softly but Harry still heard him clearly. The grounds around them were eerily quiet as a few faculty and several of his seventh year classmates moved about. Harry turned back to them and frowned as he watched them talk, all the while touching. He could see that they were still shaken by the events of the day.
“I tried,” she whispered hesitantly. “I didn’t know… what to say.” Her voice cracked and she buried her head into his chest and began to sob anew. Ron ran a comforting hand over her bushy hair before bending to kiss the crown of her head.
Harry nearly lost his patience. He was tired, restless and utterly confused. “Please,” he said sharply but softened his voice when he saw them both start. “Please, where’s Ginny?”
Ron’s pale face turned towards him. “She’s gone to look for Charlie.” He sighed heavily. “He went after Dumbledore into the forest about ten minutes ago and Ginny, being as stubborn as she is, followed as soon as she knew you were all right.”
Charlie had taken over Care of Magical Creatures lessons for the term. The cover story was that Hagrid was getting married to Madam Maxime and would therefore be in France but the truth was Dumbledore was afraid that Voldemort might attack using dragons. Rumors of it had reached Snape’s ear and dragons were Charlie’s specialty. As a member of the Order, Charlie was also trustworthy and the students would need that if the attack came. Well Dumbledore wasn’t right on that one since there are no dragons here, Harry thought cynically before returning his thoughts back to the conversation. “Ginny knew I was-” Harry was cut off by Ron.
“Yes, she got this funny look and muttered something about it being almost over just before all the Death Eaters dropped dead.” He continued to absentmindedly stroke Hermione’s long hair. She had still not emerged from his arms. “Then she informed me that she was going after Charlie since he would probably need her. I tried to stop her mate, but you know how she gets.”
Harry nodded and felt a small smile tug at his lips. She was nothing if not determined. I have to go after her. Harry felt a band tighten around his chest but he was not so worried over her safety. He could sense that she was all right although he was not sure exactly why that was. Hermione called it intuition and Harry agreed that it was as good an explanation as any. He turned to his two best friends. “I’ll go into the forest and get her.”
“I figured you would.” Ron replied readily. He then lowered his voice conspiratorially. “Just so you know, she was quite upset when we heard about the dragons.”
Harry’s mouth dropped open. I have definitely missed something. “The dragons?”
Hermione let out a small sob before turning her head to look at him. Her eyes were completely bloodshot. “We have had news since the battle started and you disappeared into the forest after Voldemort.”
“I can tell.” He muttered, running a hand distractedly through his hair before yelping as he snagged another twig.
She ran a hand up Ron’s chest, which he caught and pressed his lips to. She sniffed and cleared her throat before going on. “London was attacked again right after the battle began here.”
“What?” Harry asked her in disbelief. He scanned the area, sure that there would not be enough Death Eaters left to attack elsewhere. Hadn’t the fight been centered on Hogwarts?
She seemed to have read his mind. “They… they are… were… all students.” Hermione pointed to all of the fallen Death Eaters while her eyes filled again and she began to shake.
“Hermione please calm down.” Ron rocked her gently but his voice was pleading. “Please, you need to.” He tilted her chin gently and she ran a hand over his chin, her wedding band caught Harry’s eye and he had to endeavor not to stare. It was still hard to imagine his two best friends as married, especially since they were not even finished with school.
“You’re right.” She mumbled. “I’m just so worried… about all of them!” She began to tremble even more violently. “My parents live just outside London. With dragons flying about and Dementors on the loose wrecking up the countryside, I don’t know what will happen.”
“What?” Harry exclaimed. “How did, when… I…” he let his words trail off as the full repercussion of what she had told him. “We have to get to London.” He finally said, his heart racing at the thought of all of those people being hurt.
Ron nodded. “We will as soon as Ginny and Charlie locate Dumbledore to tell him what is going on. We’re going to need his help since the Ministry was,” here he paused to swallow hard. “Since the Ministry was destroyed last month.”
It was still hard for all of the Weasley’s who had come perilously close to loosing Mr. Weasley during the attack. Even the Minister, Cornelius Fudge had been killed in the fight. Wizarding kind was in chaos as the remaining Ministry officials struggled to rebuild and fight Voldemort at the same time. Dumbledore had been responsible for helping to restart the government.
Harry straightened and shook the thoughts from his head, as they were not helping the situation. “I’m going to go and find Ginny.”
“No need.” Her voice floated out of the forest behind him and he jumped before spinning and letting out a sigh of relief. It always felt better to him to see that she was safe. Harry also noted that Charlie was following closely on Ginny’s heels and both looked as if they had been dumped in a puddle of mud.
Harry met her sparkling brown eyes and saw the loss that they held. He moved swiftly to take her into his arms before kissing her dirty brow. “Are you all right?” He felt many of the burdens lighten as she ran a hand soothingly over his back.
“We couldn’t find him.” Charlie’s voice floated into his fogged brain, which had momentarily been consumed with holding the love of his life.
“Pardon?” Harry asked, sure that Charlie could not mean what he thought he meant.
He felt Ginny shudder in his arms. “Dumbledore is missing.”
“Harry! Ron! Hermione! Ginny! Professor Weasley!” Neville’s frantic voice came booming across the dewy grass. He came towards them quickly, arriving out of breath and hunched over while trying to speak. “You’re to… go to London, all of… of you and help the dragon keepers and Aurors with the Dementors.”
All of them stared at him in disbelief. Hermione shook her head slightly. “Who gave us permission?”
Neville looked up from his hunched position. “We just got more news from Professor Lupin. He said that all able and trained seventh years-” Ginny made a disgusted noise as she was only a sixth year, “-and you too Ginny, of course,” Neville added hastily, “are to leave for London immediately.” He handed a piece of parchment for Ginny to look over.
“Right, well let’s walk down to Hogsmeade and Apparate back to London.” Harry took Ginny’s hand and began to walk, only to be pulled up short when she didn’t move. He turned to look questioningly at her, her red hair flaming in the early morning sun as the fog began to burn off.
“May I remind you that some of us cannot Apparate yet and the rest can’t make such a long distance.” Her eyes were full of mirth as she continued. “We’ll need to take the Knight Bus.”
“Good thinking.” Charlie interjected. “Neville, you round up the rest of and meet us down at the gates.”
“I… Professor…” Neville stuttered slightly. “My wand was broken.”
“Again?” Harry and Ginny asked him simultaneously.
He nodded and dropped his head to stare at the ground.
Hermione pulled away from Ron and placed a hand on Neville’s shoulder. “Was Diagon Alley attacked again?”
“No.” He looked up, his round face hopeful.
“Then you’ll go there and get another wand before joining us.” Hermione informed him firmly. “We need you.”
“Thanks Hermione.” Neville whispered with a proud smile. “I’ll let everyone know where you are headed.” He turned and ran back towards the others who were congregating up past the Whomping Willow.
Harry watched the group for a moment, no one speaking. “This doesn’t seem real.”
“I know.” Ginny said calmly from right next to him. “But it is. We got the first report right after you had gone into the forest and Dumbledore went chasing after you to keep you from being set up.” Her face clouded over. “He was convinced that Voldemort was not really here and that you were going to be ambushed.”
“No.” Harry shook his head. “It was simple and worked just as we thought it would.” He looked around at his friends, his heart skipping a beat when he saw that they were each looking grave. “How long has it been since Dumbledore left?”
“Almost three hours.” Charlie replied cautiously. “Ginny caught up with me shortly after I left and we tracked him to a clearing but then his footprints vanished. He must have Disapparated.”
“No, the forest is part of Hogwarts grounds.” Hermione said automatically, as she had so many times before. “You can’t Apparate into or out of them.”
“We don’t have time to debate this.” Harry interjected quickly. He looked down at Ginny. “What else did the report say?”
“The Muggles know that something is wrong. They have to since hundreds of dragons have been spotted attacking and burning the cities and countryside.” She held up the piece of parchment to her face and he watched her scan it quickly. “Remus’ note says that the Dementors are downtown while the dragons are spread out around the city. He said to make our way to the entrance of Diagon Alley and we should be able to follow the chaotic noise.”
She read on further and her face darkened. “He writes that many Aurors have been wounded or killed and that if we don’t get there soon, the violence will spread. He said that while there were Death Eaters controlling the attacks, they fell down dead about half an hour ago.” Ginny beamed up at Harry and quickly kissed his cheek. “That is because of you!” She went back to reading. “He also states that since there is no one in charge the dragons and Dementors have started to attack at random.”
“I think we know what we need to know.” Charlie said confidently. “We’ll split up according to our strengths when we get there. Now let’s go.”
They walked quickly and silently down towards the main entrance and were soon joined by many of their fellow seventh years and Professor Flitwick. His face was ashen but he refused to speak when asked if he was all right.
Harry walked next to Ginny, holding her small hand tight in his, all the while chanting in his head. Please let us make it out alive; please let us make it out alive…
When they reached the gates, Hermione stuck out her wand hand and with a loud BANG the Knight Bus appeared in front of them.
Stan Shunpike peered cautiously out at them, eyeing the group wearily. “Where are you off to then?”
“London.” Harry answered immediately and grimaced when he saw Stan flinch.
“We don’ go there!” He went to slam the door but Harry reacted quickly and withdrew his wand.
“We are going to London. Now.” He felt an angry flush spread over his cheeks as he stared at the pimply faced and cowering man standing in front of him. “People are dying and we are going to help. You can take us or we’ll take the bus off of your hands.”
“But… but… they’res dragons an’ Dementors an’ I even saw one of them black robed devils take down a giant!” While he talked, he gesticulated violently with his hands, waving them wildly around. “'E blew him up! Poof! Splattered like a niffler on pixie dust!”
Hermione recoiled in disgust and Ginny shuddered next to him but Harry did not let his resolve waver. He pointed his wand between Stan’s eyes before speaking in a low growling tone. “Lead, follow or get the hell out of my way.”
Stan blinked at him before nodding and stepping back to allow them all to enter. As Harry passed he threw a galleon at the conductor. “Drop us off at the Leaky Cauldron.”
The bumpy ride to London did not go as Harry had thought it would and in the years to follow, he would look back and question his decision to use the Knight Bus, over and over again.
At the time, however, Harry sat with Ginny, his long time girlfriend, soaking in the warmth of her shoulder pressed against his and attempting not to shake. He didn’t like threatening those who had not done anything wrong but they were needed in London.
“Almost there!” Stan called back towards him and Harry momentarily studied him as he swallowed desperately, trying to calm his frazzled nerves and churning stomach.
They appeared suddenly in the alleyway behind the Leaky Cauldron and he watched Charlie jump to his feet before they were even stopped. “Everyone off now!” He called to the group and they all stood to file quickly out the door.
“Charlie, what is… oh!” Ginny’s last squeak caught Harry’s ear and he turned, as he stepped out of the bus, to find them facing off with a very large, very angry looking dragon. It was at least as tall as the surrounding buildings, with bright purple eyes, dark scales and a spiked tail.
“A Hebridean Black.” Charlie informed them quietly, watching carefully as the dragon beat its wings angrily and breathed out a puff of smoke. “Stunners ready everyone. On my count… one, two, thr-”
The huge beast let out a deafening roar and soared high into the air before shooting flames. Harry, along with several others, shot water at the flames but the dragon was not aiming for them. He turned quickly and watched as the Knight Bus caught fire and burst into a mass of fire, with Stan and the driver still inside.
They were all simultaneously thrown backwards, landing in a heap on the hard, dirty road. Harry let out a slow breath, feeling his ribs ache and his right foot smart. He tried to sit up but realized belatedly that someone was laying on him. He opened an eye and saw the bushy hair that could only mean Hermione. She had apparently landed on him after the explosion.
She attempted to raise her head but dropped it almost instantly, forcing the air from his lungs once again with a soft whoosh as her head hit his stomach.
“Hermione?” He wheezed as he brought a hand up to her face and touched her cheek. “You all right?”
“Dizzy,” was the mumbled response that he got.
He heard a groan from next to him and looked to see Ron slowly rising to a sitting position. “What the bloody hell was that all about?” He noticed his wife who was still sprawled on Harry and got up quickly to take her into his arms. “You okay luv?”
She nodded weakly. “Where’s the dragon?”
“Gone.” Charlie’s voice came from behind Harry and he looked backwards to see Charlie helping Ginny to stand. He let out a sigh of relief when he noticed that she seemed unhurt.
“What do you mean gone?” Dean Thomas demanded.
Charlie shook his head and surveyed the skies. “Neville, go get your wand and then make your way back to the Ministry. Take Seamus and Dean with you.” The three got to their feet and moved swiftly towards the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron.
Charlie looked around. “The rest of you need to split yourselves. If you can produce a corporeal Patronus then I need you to follow Professor Flitwick and Harry and go after the Dementors. If you can’t, then you come with me and we’ll round up the dragons.” The group spilt themselves into two, either moving to stand with Harry or Charlie.
“What happened to that last dragon?” A girl named Lisa Turpin asked quickly.
“He obviously thought that the Knight Bus was more of a threat.” Charlie answered softly, looking over their heads at the wreckage that had once been a triple-decker bus.
Harry glanced back at it and felt his heart leap into his throat. There was no way that anyone else on that bus had made it out alive. He closed his eyes momentarily, grieving the loss and wallowing in the remorse of having forced Stan to take them to London. He felt a small, warm hand that was so familiar slip into his and for a moment, Harry ran a hand over his closed eyes, trying to block out the overwhelming guilt.
We need to act now, came a voice from inside his head. “Let’s get a move on.” His voice sounded confident, in direct contrast to the nerves that jumbled around in him. Harry turned towards Ginny who smiled reassuringly and together with Professor Flitwick and the rest of their group, moved off towards London.
“At least it will be easy to find the Dementors.” Ginny muttered next to him, before taking his hand in hers.
Harry glanced quickly down at her, raising his eyebrow at her questioningly. “Why do you say that?”
She laughed nervously. “Can’t you feel the cold?” Her voice had dropped to a low hush as she had spoken but it was loud enough for Ron to hear her.
“They’re over that way.” He pointed over to a group of Muggles that were lying sprawled on the ground.
Harry’s mouth dropped open as he saw them. There were at least thirty Dementors poised over the prone people. He thought instantly of the happiest memory that he had, which involved himself and Ginny kissing for the first time, and shouted, “Expecto Patronum!” Instantly Prongs spilled forth from his wand and began to chase down the Dementors.
His exclamation was not alone, as everyone else fired off the powerful charm and a plethora of silvery animals followed in the stag’s wake.
Instantly the Dementors began to retreat but Harry didn’t let it go at that. He advanced on them with his wand raised. He felt anger course through him as he saw the soulless Muggles on the ground. His heart began to freeze as he neared them but Prongs came to stand by his side and he felt heartened enough to speak.
“You will leave London and return to Azkaban or I will make it my personal mission to find a way to destroy you. Voldemort is dead and if you do not want to join him, I suggest you do as I say.”
They did not move for a long moment but very slowly they all nodded succinctly before turning to glide away.
“Do you think it’s over mate?” Ron asked cautiously.
“I hope so.” Hermione whispered fervently next to them. “Come on, let’s see if we can locate the others and help round up the dragons.”
“Hermione, I need you to continue working on a way to destroy those things.” Harry told her, without moving. He didn’t know why he felt as he did but he was certain that the Dementors would be a problem in the future.
She nodded slowly, almost hesitantly or evasively. “The next few months will be rather busy but I will try my best to find a way.” Ron moved quickly too her and put his arm protectively around her waist.
A nagging feeling wormed its way into Harry’s brain as he watched them carefully. Something was a bit off between them but he could not put his finger on what it was. He shrugged mentally. Since they had gotten married two months before they had often acted oddly although Harry could certainly sympathize. He wanted nothing more than to marry Ginny and lose himself in making a family with her. A family… he looked closer at Hermione noticed that her hand rested on her lower abdomen. No, his mind screamed. It was inconceivable that they would be having a baby at their age.
Ron seemed to have caught his look and met his eyes defiantly. He did not look away.
This is too much, Harry thought wildly before opening his mouth to confirm it but winced as the small spitfire next to him stomped on his foot. He turned rapidly towards Ginny, intending to ask her why she had done it but knew instantly that she had also seen what he had in their friends.
“Later!” She hissed at him
Harry glanced surreptitiously over at Hermione. “What if you get hurt while we are out there fighting?”
“What are you four waiting for?” Seamus yelled over towards their small group, which had moved off to talk privately. He, Dean and Neville had apparently caught up with the rest of them. Harry noticed that Neville held his new wand.
“Hold on!” Ron shouted back at the other three men and they nodded before turning back to the others, specifically Professor Flitwick who seemed to be instructing them on something.
Hermione smiled slightly. “I can’t be hurt, or not in the way you are thinking.”
“She better protected than the rest of us.” Ginny confirmed. “Pregnant witches are protected by the baby’s magic.”
“Did you know about this?” Harry asked his girlfriend as he pointed haphazardly at Hermione.
“Nope,” Ginny quickly stood on tiptoes to kiss his cheek before leaving his side to give Hermione a warm hug. “Mum will be thrilled.” Ginny told her sister-in-law.
Harry turned to look at Ron who had taken a step towards him. He opened his mouth to speak but Ron held up a halting hand and swallowed hard before opening his mouth. “We just found out.” He told Harry in a low voice. His eyes were worried and the lines around his mouth were tense, making him look older than his eighteen years.
“I just thought that you two would wait.” Harry replied hastily. He didn’t want Ron to think that he was unhappy about Hermione’s pregnancy. I’m not sure what I feel, he admitted honestly to himself but he knew enough to know that he wasn’t unhappy about it.
“We didn’t exactly plan for it but…” Ron gave him a sly smile suddenly. “So you’ll be the baby’s Godfather right?”
A truly light feeling hit the pit of his stomach and the nerves that he had felt before vanished. He had something else to look forward too. Harry nodded, too choked up to speak his answer out loud.
“We should go then and I think that we should head that way.” Ginny pointed north.
“Why is that Miss Weasley?” Professor Flitwick asked her in his squeaky little voice as he made his way over to them.
Ginny’s face was set and her eyes told Harry that she was worried. “Because there is smoke over that way so there must be a fire.”
Several of them gasped audibly. Now that he looked, he could see that the skyline appeared to be taking on an orange hue, lighting up the early morning sky.
“Damnit!” Ron cursed and each of them took off in the direction of the fires. It didn’t take them long to reach them and soon they were all shooting water out of their wands at the blazes.
Harry noticed that several Muggles had seen them at work but reckoned that it mattered little if they had already seen the dragons set the fires.
Dean was walking besides Harry and swore. “I don’t know how I am going to explain this to Mary.” Harry nodded in understanding. Mary was Dean’s girlfriend and she was a Muggle. She had taken the news of her boyfriend’s gifts well, as far as Harry knew, but it would not be easy to explain to her why dragons were attempting to burn down London.
“She’ll understand Dean, don’t worry.” Ginny reassured him quickly, all the while scanning the skies like the rest of them for their scaly prey.
“I hope so.” He glanced around. “Seamus is walking by himself, I better catch up to him.” With that he sprinted down the street to catch up with his best friend.
“Honestly, she’s already said yes and he gave her one.” Ginny informed Harry as if Dean were being an idiot to worry over his girlfriend’s reaction.
“Right... wait... what'cha mean he gave her 'one'? One what?” In his confusion he has stopped moving and simply stared at her.
Ginny turned briefly to look at him and he saw an emotion in her eyes that he could not label. “A ring.” She informed him softly before spinning around to walk off hastily.
His heart leapt in surprise and oddly enough, fear. Why am I afraid?
Harry hurried to catch up to her, his heart racing and his palms sweating. “Ginny, what’s wrong?”
She shook her head and glanced down. Harry looked down as well and saw that they were standing on a patch of ground that had recently been charred. Most of the old buildings surrounding them had blackened marks. Other buildings were burning to the ground.
He took her arm and halted her progress. “I thought we were honest with each other.” Harry looked into her brown eyes and saw… shame. “Just tell me what it is.”
Ginny clamped her mouth shut and shook her head. “We have to find the dragons and help Charlie.”
A loud scream wrenched the air and they each jumped and spun to find a Muggle woman in a fur coat yelling at the top of her lungs as a Common Welsh Green stalked up to her.
“Stunners ready!” Ron yelled and each of them raised their wands towards the massive beast. “NOW!”
“Stupefy!” Everyone in the group shouted it and the dragon was hit with the red light, falling instantly to the ground at the woman’s feet.
She screamed again at them and pointed wildly at a pram that was sitting in a heap near the dragon. “My Baby!” She cried, her voice was high pitched and hysterical.
“A dragon's eaten the baby!” Charlie came running from behind them and towards the woman. He reached her and asked her something before hurrying over to the child’s carriage.
Harry was quickly on his heels, followed by Ginny. Charlie was searching the wreckage and soon came up with a small puppy that appeared stunned but otherwise unhurt. The woman let out a cry and grabbed the puppy from Charlie, kissing it and cuddling it to her breast.
“Thank you so much!” She exclaimed her dirty face was streaked from the tears that were pouring from her eyes. It also caused her mascara to run and she quickly began to resemble a raccoon. “I thought… that Baby was… de… dead for sure!” She sniffed loudly and hugged the small fur ball even closer.
“It’s fine ma’am but you should find shelter before it wakes-” Ginny’s words stopped and she turned quickly.
Harry felt it too. “Dementors.” He turned and saw Ron and Hermione shooting their Patronus’ at the advancing creatures.
“Expecto Patronum!” Harry cried and heard several others do the same. Prongs once again appeared before charging down the black hooded creatures. The stag charged and his heart stuck in his throat as he saw a Dementor glide away from the stag and towards Hermione. “GET IT!” He screamed at his Patronus and the silver animal turned and went for the one that was heading for Hermione.
Prongs caught it with his antlers in the back and the Dementor let out a horrible scream that caused all in the vicinity to pause.
“So cold!” The dog woman whispered before fainting dead away to the ground.
Ginny turned from the spectacle with the Dementor to gaze down at the woman. Harry watched her. “Amazing. She makes it through a dragon’s attack but faints at the Dementor’s. She must have some truly horrible things in her past that they made her remember.”
“What is going on here?” Harry looked over at a middle-aged man who was clearly a Muggle.
“Too much.” Ginny informed him. “If you don’t want to get hurt, I suggest you move off of the streets before the dragon wakes back up.”
The man bristled, his thick mustache twitched in what Harry thought was irritation.
“See here young lady, I do not take kindly to ahhhh!”
Harry turned just in time to see a large, scaly green tail attached to the previously stunned dragon, heading straight for his head. It made contact with his temple, with a sickening crunch that knocked Harry to the ground. The world around him went black.
“Harry, I don’t know if you can hear me.” Ginny’s voice floated into his consciousness and he struggled to answer but found that his chest felt too constricted to form words. The dark that shrouded his world kept her voice from the forefront of his mind. What happened to me? Instead of focusing on himself, he concentrated on her voice and wished he could smile and hold her. At least he could hear her speak.
She began to talk again. “I wish I had told you before, when you asked earlier today but I didn’t want to admit that I was envious since… well it’s stupid.” Here she paused and he wished he could urge her on but when she did speak again, he was suddenly filled with remorse. Her voice was choked with tears.
Don’t cry Ginny, Harry called silently, frustrated that he couldn’t hold her.
“I was jealous.” Ginny informed him.
What are you jealous of?
Apparently she could understand what he wanted because she answered him. “Isn’t it so ridiculous Harry? I’m sixteen years old and I want to be married to you and having a baby with you.” She laughed derisively. “I don’t even know if you want to marry me.”
What? His mind started racing and his heart began to pound. Of course I want to marry you!
“It is just like the mirror.”
What mirror? He felt suddenly confused and also frustrated that they were having a one-sided conversation. Harry longed to reach out and touch her but he also assumed that she wouldn’t be this open if he could respond.
“You have to remember.” Ginny went on and she seemed to have regained her composure. “It was that time right before we started going out. You were helping me improve my Patronus Charm in the Room of Requirement by using the Boggart and when it came out, it turned into you instead of the Dementor but you were dead and I was so embarrassed. The Boggart had seen me first and became my fear. That was when I confessed that I was most afraid of you not making it through this war.”
He remembered that, of course. Harry had been stunned to realize that the beautiful redhead cared so much about him. They had sat down and talked rather than work on her Patronus because she was so upset. Harry had told her many secrets that night, including his desire to have a family, like the family he had seen in the Mirror of Erised. Then it hit him, the mirror…
“That was when you told me about the Mirror of Erised and I said that I wanted to look into it and there it was suddenly. The room had brought it for me.” Her voice quivered ominously as she spoke. “I was so scared to look but you walked over and gazed into it. You told me you still saw your family.”
Harry blushed mentally. I wasn’t completely honest with you, I saw having a family of red haired children and a wife that looked exactly like you. That was when I realized how much I liked you. Then he paused in that train of thought. That wasn’t just when he realized how much he liked her. Like was too small a word. He had known then that he loved her.
Harry heard Ginny sigh heavily and mentally fell silent to attend to what she was saying. “When I went to look into the mirror I said that I saw myself becoming an Auror but that isn’t the truth.” Another long pause filled the otherwise silent room. “What I actually saw was you and I married with a bunch of kids and I was so humiliated! I couldn’t tell you that I wanted to be with you, of course. I was sure you would laugh since you had never been interested in me and then we got together and I wanted to tell you then but I was too scared that you wouldn’t feel the same way and then where would I be?”
Harry felt himself flush as he struggled to wake up. He could hear the anguish in her voice and wanted to hold her and reassure her that he felt the same as she did. I need to open my eyes.
“Now I know you will wake up and I think I’ll have to pretend that I never told you any of these things because I… oh Harry!” He felt her head fall to his chest and he could feel the tears soaking his shirt. “I can’t lose you. I love you too much for that.”
Enough! Harry willed his arms to move, to hold her, to reassure her and to his amazement they responded and encircled her shaking shoulders. Ginny tried to straighten and pull away but he wouldn’t let go.
“I… love you too.” Harry could hear his voice but it sounded distant and from the way she stiffened, he knew she had heard him and he relaxed. That turned out to be a mistake because she pulled away and he felt the cold as her head left his chest. “No!” He cried and she took his hand, almost hesitantly.
“You heard me, didn’t you?” Ginny sounded tense and upset.
Harry slowly, almost painfully opened his eyes, although the light was blinding for him and she was blurry when he did finally look up and blink several times. Ginny reached for his glasses from the nightstand and placed them gently on his face. She came into focus and he nodded once to let her know that he had heard it all.
“Oh Merlin.” Her brown eyes filled with tears again. “I’m so sorry Harry. Do you want me to go?”
“No!” He tried to answer more, struggled to form the words that were in his heart. “I saw you in… the mirror too.”
Ginny did not move, did not respond and he thought for sure that she had not heard him. Harry took a deep breath and went on. “I… do want to marry you.”
Her hands flew to her mouth but before she could respond the voice of George Weasley filled the room. “How touching, did you hear that Fred?”
“I did.” Fred answered him.
Harry hesitantly glanced over at the two twins who stood in the doorway of the Hospital wing of Hogwarts. Harry had not noticed before that he was back at the school.
“How sweet our ickle Harry has become.” George pushed off from the doorjamb and moved over towards them and Harry glanced over to see that Ginny was turning red with anger, which was never a good sign.
Fred moved his hand up to his mouth as if holding a microphone and adopted a falsely happy voice. “Harry, you've just defeated the Dark Lord! What will you do now?”
Harry blushed and Ginny buried her face in her hands. He had to wonder where they had heard that particular Muggle phrase although since they had recently acquired a Muggle television, it was not too surprising that he knew it.
“You heard him.” George replied mildly. “He wants to shag our baby sister and have a house full of babies for us to corrupt.” His expression became pensive and then gleeful. “Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.”
“Bugger off you two.” Harry jumped as he heard Hermione from the doorway. He had never, in the entire time he had known her, heard her cuss. Hormones will do interesting things to a woman, he thought belatedly.
Fred and George’s mouths dropped open as they stared at their sister-in-law. “Blimey, I didn’t know she had it in her.” George whispered, clearly impressed.
Ron walked in and surveyed the scene. “Did I miss something?”
Fred looked as though he was about to answer but at a warning glance from Hermione he shut his mouth.
“You two should go and find your mother; I think she is looking for you.” Hermione informed them quietly. “You can tell her that Harry is awake.”
“Was she always this bossy?” Fred muttered under his breath but it wasn’t quiet enough for Hermione not to hear and she burst into noisy, angry tears.
“You stupid git!” Ron yelled at his brother before moving to hold his wife, comforting her.
Ginny finally stood and cuffed Fred on the back of the head. “Be nice to her, she’s pregnant!”
“Oh!” Fred and George said at the same time while Fred rubbed the back of his head.
“That would explain it then.” Fred said before moving over to Hermione. “I’m sorry sis; I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Hermione looked up from Ron’s chest and nodded. “Don’t tease them just because they are in love.”
“In love?” Ron glanced over at Harry who was struggling to sit up. He still felt weak. Ginny rushed over to his side and helped him to sit up before propping him up with a few fluffy pillows.
“We’ll be off then.” The twins said together and moved out the door, closing it behind them.
“What were they talking about?” Ron asked Harry, studying him.
Harry squirmed slightly under his friend’s intense gaze but realized that if anyone would understand, it would be Ron. “I was just telling Ginny that I want to marry her.”
“Seriously?” Ron’s face showed that he was dumbfounded and Harry found himself grinning as Ginny hugged him tight. He didn’t even care that she was crushing his bruised ribs.
“’Course I am.” Harry responded and he needed to swallow the lump that had suddenly formed in his chest.
“What?” Mrs. Weasley’s voice came into the room and Harry looked up in horror to see his surrogate parents standing in the doorway, along with the rest of Ginny’s brothers, all of them looking shocked, large and very intimidating.
“It didn’t take us long to find Mum.” George commented dryly.
Mr. Weasley cleared his throat. “Now Molly, dear, I am sure Harry realizes that Ginny is too young to be getting married.”
Bill spoke up next as he glared menacingly at Harry. “If he hasn’t then he had better realize it quickly.”
His heart hammered in his chest and his palms began to sweat. He did not relish facing off with all of the Weasley men especially when he could hardly move.
“You can stop glowering Bill Weasley.” Ginny said to her brother as she stood up, hands on hips.
As amusing as it would be to see Ginny take on her favorite brother, Harry did not want to be the cause a fight between them as he wanted her family’s support. In the past few months, since Ron and Hermione had wed, he had begun to think about how he would ask her to be his wife. He had come to the conclusion that he couldn’t ask until she had finished school. Moreover he wanted to discuss it with her family when he was healthy but it did not appear as if he had the luxury of time.
“Ginny, please.” He sounded feeble and loathed that he was not at his best for this moment.
Ginny turned to argue with him but seemed to change her mind. Instead she went to sit with him as she took his hand. “You don’t have to say anything.” She whispered to him, so that only he could hear. Her face fell suddenly. “You… you can change your mind too, if you’d like.”
“What are you on about?” Harry asked her, completely bewildered at her lack of self-confidence. Ginny was usually not like this with him. He reached out a hand to cup her cheek. “Why would I change my mind?”
Ginny’s beautiful eyes became haunted and he knew what that meant. She was thinking of Tom Riddle. Over the last few months she had slowly told him of the horrors Tom had put her through in the last week that she possessed the diary. Voldemort had successfully destroyed what little self-esteem the eleven-year-old Ginny had had. Every time she discussed it, her eyes took on that haunted look.
Harry knew what he needed to do. He cleared his throat nervously and looked over at Mr. Weasley. “I was not going to ask Ginny to marry me until next year, when she was closer to graduating but…” here he paused, trying to find the right words. “I love Ginny and I can wait a year to marry her but I sir, I would like your permission to ask for her hand now.” He clamped his mouth shut, realizing that he had probably sounded stupid.
Ginny broke into a sob and threw herself upon him. Harry was sure that she had broken a rib but he didn’t care. He wrapped her into his embrace and buried his face into her hair and kissed her neck. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She responded before kissing him soundly on the lips.
Harry’s heart slammed in his chest and he felt his mouth go dry with want. Her soft lips moved over his as she opened her mouth to deepen the kiss. Harry was about to comply when he heard someone clear their throat.
He glanced up guiltily at Mr. Weasley who was smiling bemusedly. “I would just like to add that you have my permission to ask her to marry you.”
“A most excellent idea.”
Everyone jumped and spun to face a disheveled looking Dumbledore who was standing wearily in the doorway. His face was gaunt and his robes tattered but the twinkle in his eye was still there.
“Albus!” Molly Weasley cried. “Where have you been? Are you hurt?” She bustled over to him while she called for Madam Pomfrey and led him to a bed.
“I am fine, I assure you, but I did have a run in with a dragon that decided I was its baby and would not let me go. It was a Norwegian Ridgeback that answered to the name of Norbert.”
Harry froze and saw Ron and Hermione freeze as well. How had Dumbledore found out about Norbert?
As if hearing his thoughts, the Headmaster answered. “Hagrid found me not more than an hour ago and rescued me from my surrogate mother after he had me in his nest.
No one moved for a long moment. Finally Charlie spoke up obviously disbeliefs was reflected in his tone. “He put what in where?”.
The old man laughed softly. “Yes, Mr. Weasley, I was placed in the nest of a male dragon. The irony is not lost on me, I assure you.”
“I always knew Hagrid had messed that dragon up, Norbert was never right in the head; mollycoddle all the other dragons.” Charlie muttered darkly.
Apparently ignoring Charlie’s dark mood, Dumbledore went on. “Now, I would like to offer my congratulations.” He winked at Harry and Ginny conspiratorially. “I do so love a wedding.”
“Sort of a new beginning.” Ron mused.
Everyone turned to look at him and the twins laughed before being silenced by a glare from their mother.
“Sorry Mum.” George said demurely.
Mrs. Weasley sniffed huffily and turned back to Harry and Ginny. “Well, I think a wedding in a year would be lovely, if you would like my opinion.” She went over and bent to straighten Harry’s sheets, a maneuver that made Harry smile secretly as his heart swelled. It was always nice being fussed over.
Mrs. Weasley kissed his cheek before straightening. “You will be starting Auror training and the first year is the hardest, I think. After that it would be wonderful for you two to be joined.” She pulled a large handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed at her suspiciously bright eyes.
“Yeah and you get to move into that house that Sirius left you in his will so you’ll be on your own.” Ron added helpfully.
Harry started to speak but then stopped. Something wasn’t quite right about these plans that they were making. It all seemed very sudden and he felt as though he had forgotten a crucial step. He looked to Ginny for help and saw that she was gazing at him expectantly although her eyes were still shadowed in doubt.
Suddenly it hit him. I have to propose before we plan everything out. Harry began to sit up but then stopped halfway through the motion. I don’t have a ring. He glanced questioningly up at Ginny and her eyes told him everything he needed to know. She wouldn’t care that he didn’t have a ring now because she would trust that he would get her one later.
He got up slowly, testing his balance and found surprisingly that he could move. Harry stood, with Ginny’s aid as she too got to her feet. Very carefully he got down on one knee and gazed up into her beautiful, smiling, sparkling brown eyes. His heart hammered in his chest and he had to swallow to hold back the flood of emotions that threatened to engulf him.
Harry finally managed to smile, gazing transfixed up at his future. “Ginevra Molly Weasley, will you marry me?”
A/N: Thanks to my Beta wvchemteach and my other two editors who save my bottom!