Harry walked back to Gryffindor tower with Ron and Hermione; there they met with Ginny, who appeared to be holding back a tidal wave of questions, but after seeing Harry’s face her expression softened.
“We’re all sleeping down here tonight, as the dormitories were damaged in the fight,” she said, gesturing to several squashy blue sleeping bags.
Harry looked at the sleeping bags with distaste, thinking of the last time he had seen them in his third year. He realised that he’d never asked Sirius about slashing the Fat Lady’s portrait; once again he was filled with a bitter sorrow of all the loss this war had caused. However, now was not the time for grieving. Tomorrow, yes, but now he just wanted to sleep, even if he couldn’t enjoy the comfort of his four-poster bed.
“We might as well get some rest,” said Hermione, as if reading his mind. “It won’t do anyone any good if we tire ourselves out.”
Ron snorted. “Oh, I wonder what it would be like to be tired out, must be far worse than spending a year hunting down parts of Voldemort’s soul.”
At this, Ginny’s resolve broke. “WHAT? You were –”
“Please Ginny; can we wait till later to explain?” Harry pleaded from the depths of his sleeping bag. “We promise to answer every question you have after I’ve slept for a week or two.” He gave Ron and Hermione a meaningful look, and they quickly scrambled into their own sleeping bags.
“Fine,” replied Ginny. “But you’ve got a lot of explaining to do, Mr Potter.” She dropped down into a chair.
Harry woke slowly, his brain trying to work out why he was sleeping on the floor. Suddenly it all came back - the Pensieve, the eighth Horcrux, King’s Cross, Neville slaying Nagini, duelling with Voldemort and…Fred, Remus and Tonks lying lifeless in the great hall…Colin Creevey’s tiny body slung over Oliver Wood’s back…A line of dead bodies in the Great Hall…
Sitting up and fumbling for his glasses, Harry found the common room empty; although the drapes had been pulled across the windows, he could see the sun shining through. As usual the weather paid no attention to the mood of humanity. Birds were singing their hearts out as if they could sense that the shadow of Voldemort had been lifted from their lives. Harry stumbled to the portrait hole and headed for the Great Hall and, hopefully, breakfast. He tried not to think about what else he might find down there.
Ginny had been up early that morning, woken by the sound of her mother’s sobbing. By now Fred’s lifeless form had been covered over, but it still lay where it had been the previous evening. An Anti-Decomposition Charm had been placed on them, but they were otherwise untouched except by grieving friends and family who surrounded the dead. Most were to be buried at Hogwarts, where they had spent a large part of their lives in happiness.
She knew that Harry would take all the deaths very badly; he was probably already blaming himself, even though he knew full well that everyone would have stayed to fight for Hogwarts even if he hadn’t been there. Or did he? Despite his ridiculous break-up with her last year, she resolved to help him through this until he was ready to face her wrath. How could he have thought that she would be better off in the Room of Requirement when her entire family was out there fighting? What had he been thinking when he went off to let Voldemort kill him? And, worst of all, how could he have he let her believe that he was dead? Hadn’t she screamed his name? Although Ginny knew that she was being irrational, the anger was there nevertheless.
A month passed, a month filled with grief, burial and mourning. An island was magically erected in the middle of the lake bearing a message that illustrated the bravery and courage of all those buried there. It was written in the same way that the words of encouragement to Harry had been written at Godric’s Hollow, so that they glowed when someone came close. Dumbledore’s tomb had been repaired and placed at the centre of the island; surrounding it were similar tombs, although many were much smaller. Each was in the colours of the house its occupant had been in and was adorned with small plaques bearing the Hogwarts insignia along with an inscription chosen by family and friends.
During the relocation of the dead to the island, there had been lots of sudden breakdowns by the survivors. Many of the corpses had been brutally disfigured, blasted apart by a Slicing Curse or gorged by Fenrir, whilst some bodies were unharmed, obviously the victims of Avada Kedavra. The bodies of the Death Eaters were burnt, although these were few, as only the ones who had got in the way of their own side’s curses had been killed, with the exception of Bellatrix Lestrange, who Molly had dealt with.
Harry was slowly coming out of the reverie that he had sunk into after the fight. He became aware of those around him; now that all the work was done, there was nothing to distract him. Others were slowly recovering, the Weasleys supporting one another through the heart-slicing grief of losing Fred. Lavender Brown had been killed defending Parvati Patil; it appeared that she had used Wingardium Leviosa on Fenrir Greyback, and he had been hit with a Killing Curse whilst being suspended in the air. Yaxley had met the same fate before Dolohov hit Lavender from behind with an ‘Incendio’. Padma Patil had been killed along with several other students who had been trapped in the Astronomy tower by Crabbe and Goyle. These deaths had been devastating to both Hermione and Luna, who had shared dormitories with Lavender and Padma for their entire time at Hogwarts. But, slowly, everyone was coming out of the trance they had been in.
A decision was made to have a year in which Hogwarts would not be officially open. The regular classes would not take place, but any student wishing to continue with his or her education or simply spend some time at the castle was welcome. Many families stayed at the castle, finding its familiarity soothing. At lease until the wizarding world was rebuilt, some of them had nowhere else to go anyway.
Four months after the fall of Voldemort, even those who had lost close family members began to live once more. The grounds of Hogwarts were filled with people enjoying themselves, recovering from all the death and destruction that the war had caused.
Along with many others Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were helping to repair the damage done to Hogwarts.
“Levy us up that stone, Harry!” called Oliver from the second floor.
“Coming right up - Wingardium Leviosa!” The stone shot into the air, where Oliver grabbed it with reflexes only a Quidditch Keeper could have. He passed it on to Seamus, who sealed it onto the wall with a Mortar Charm.
Harry had learned that, unlike objects, buildings couldn’t be rebuilt with a simple ‘Reparo.’ Although there were many spells to help with construction, Hogwarts had to be put back together brick by brick the Muggle way - well, almost as the majority of the stones were replaced from a venifigranite mine in china. Hermione and Professor McGonagall had worked out a way of making the castle only accept things back in the correct place.
This was clever, but it got very frustrating when every stone they tried was blasted twenty feet away until they finally found the right one. If anyone tried to trick the walls into thinking that it was the correct piece of masonry, they ended up in detention (which was still being handed out at the order of the stern Headmistress.) One only had to walk down the Transfiguration corridor to hear McGonagall screeching at some unlucky helper, “You dare to disfigure such an important piece of wizarding history!” Hermione also seemed to take the matter very seriously, and Harry was beginning to wish he hadn’t taught her some of the hexes that she was now using on anyone attempting to get round the spell.
Harry heard a shout far above him from where Ron was repairing the damage done to the dormitories in Gryffindor tower. “THAT’S IT!! I AM NOT SPENDING ALL DAY TRYING TO GET THIS STUPID STUBBORN ROOF TO DECIDE WHICH TILE IT WANTS.” Deciding to see what the trouble was, Harry mounted one of the brooms that were being used by the construction team and shot up to where Ron was now throwing random pieces of masonry at the roof in the hope that something wouldn’t fly off.
“Having fun, Ron?”
Ron aimed a hex at Harry, which he easily dodged before landing on the roof.
“Easy for you to say, you’re not the one having to build the thing.”
“People seem to think I deserve a break after the little incident with that Voldemort bloke.”
“Prat. Besides, I helped you with most of it anyway!”
“But I seem to remember you asking specially for extra work.”
Ron went scarlet and muttered something about ‘Hermione’ and ‘impressed.’
“Well, there’s no one around - let’s speed things up a bit.”
Ron grinned. “Okay, but you better protect me if a certain person finds out.” Hermione was becoming very touchy about the use of magic in the reconstruction.
Harry pointed his wand at the hole in the roof and muttered "Accepto"; this was the simple spell that Bill and Charlie had secretly worked out to get around the problem. He then flicked it in the direction of a pile of tiles that had fallen through into the first year dormitory, and they arranged themselves neatly before Ron sealed them with his own wand.
“Good, now let’s get out of here before someone notices,” said Ron, sliding down to his own broom.
Together they left the roof and sped down to the lake, where people were taking a break from the reconstruction work.
The interrogation rooms of the Wizengamot had not been used anywhere near as much as at the end of the first war. Anyone with a Dark Mark was immediately moved to a reinforced holding cell without trial, and his or her wand was snapped. The holding cells had a twenty-four hour Auror guard and were to be used until Azkaban had been secured.
Suspects with no Dark Mark were interrogated, but the temporary Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, had been present at every hearing, and, as he had worked at the ministry during Voldemort’s brief reign there he could easily identify the majority of the real death eaters from those under the Imperious Curse quickly. Stan Shunpike, for example, was immediately released and returned to his job on the night bus. Of those who were not innocent, it was Dolores Jane Umbridge who had the heaviest crimes to her name. Her trial was to be the last of all the suspects, as arrangements had to be made for an extraordinarily large number of people to attend.
Harry and his friends joined the large crowd of people queuing to get into the hall, eager to finally see Umbridge get her comeuppance; finally he could get his own back for the hours he had spent in her office in pain. He knew that the majority of the people attending the trial also had reasons to hate Umbridge. He noticed Mary and Reg Cattermole along with a number of the people he had rescued from the Ministry whilst trying to get hold of the locket Horcrux.
“I reckon she could even compete with Lestrange for enemies,” said a gleeful Ron, but he quietened quickly at a glance from Neville.
“Think of the amount of evidence against her!” cried Hermione. “A huge number of her crimes were committed within the Ministry itself with hundreds of witnesses. And there’s no Cornelius Fudge to save her now!”
“You might have to eat your words there, Hermione,” replied Harry in a low voice, nodding towards a figure skulking at the edge of the throng trying to look inconspicuous. “Although I don’t think that he stands much of a chance against all this lot.”
George joined them; he was still a lot quieter than his old self but was gradually coming to terms with the loss of Fred. Parvati and he had spent a lot of time together, and it had helped them both a lot to have someone to talk to who really understood how it felt to lose a twin. Harry reckoned that recently their talks had moved on to slightly lighter topics as he had walked into an empty classroom to find them standing at opposite sides of the room, blushing furiously.
“It won’t matter even if she does get off, which isn’t going to happen,” George said in a dangerous tone, joining in their conversation, “because if she does I’m going to hex her into oblivion. I still haven’t forgotten that Quidditch ban in my final year.”
Harry, Ron, Ginny and Neville cheerfully agreed to help.
“Which spells d’you reckon we should use, then?” put in Neville. “We may only get one shot.”
“How about Jelly Legs and the Leg Locker combined?” suggested Ron. “That always produces interesting results.”
“We could always use several Disarming Spells,” Harry replied. “A couple from each of us will give her quite a fright.”
“You and your Expelliarmus, Harry,” said Ginny. “I don’t see anything wrong with the old Bat Bogey, or even the Slug Vomit.”
“But we all know that Ronniekins has trouble with that one, don’t we,” said George.
Ron aimed a punch at George, who ducked and got him in a headlock. They continued to joke about spell combinations, but when Sectumsempra was mentioned Hermione put her foot down.
“A fine thing it will be if you all end up behind bars yourselves for magical assault!”
“Are you mad!?” George retorted. “People will be grateful; I wouldn’t be surprised if we got an award for services to the wizarding community.”
By now they had entered the hall and were seated on one of the hovering couches that were arranged around the room. It seemed that someone in the Ministry had seen no reason for the audience to be uncomfortable, and the long, hard benches had been replaced by the couches shortly after the war’s end. The chained chair had also been replaced by a simple wooden stool; after all, who needed chains when they had such a massive range of binding spells?
There was a rumour that the stool became more or less comfortable depending on the reputation of the suspect amongst the Wizengamot. For Umbridge, it looked more like a bed of nails than a stool. The legs had spikes on them so that the chair’s occupant was forced to almost do the splits when he or she sat down. Harry was reminded of a Muggle film that he had once managed to watch when the Dursleys were out, except that it was a room filled with spikes then, and it was for a school - not a court.
A door at the bottom of the chamber opened, and Umbridge was lead in by two Aurors. Harry was a bit surprised by the guard at first, but then he remembered Dolores’s willingness to use the Cruciatus Curse on him in fifth year.
The new head of the Wizengamot, Mafalda Hopkirk, stood up as Umbridge was seated on the stool, which now had long knives rotating under the seat.
“Dolores Jane Umbridge, you are here today in accordance with the breaking of several wizarding laws, including one of the principle decrees set down by Merlin at Tintagel.”
As another Wizengamot member stood up to read out a long list of accusations, Harry sent a questioning look to Hermione. He knew nothing about Merlin’s decrees or, indeed, anything about Merlin apart from a brief memory of being told a story at his primary school.
“Founder of Wizarding law,” she whispered. “You can imagine what it was like before then -”
But here she was cut off by a glare from Percy, who was sitting with Mr Weasley opposite them. He nodded towards the Wizengamot, where an elderly wizard was now reading out the possible sentence should Umbridge be proven guilty of the most serious accusation.
“For actively and willingly persecuting innocent witches and wizards, and therefore breaking one of Merlin’s decrees, the maximum penalty -”
Here he was interrupted by Hermione, who had been silent up until now, embarrassed at being caught by Percy. She stood up in front of the entire Wizengamot - never mind hundreds of people.
Her words echoed around the hall. Harry couldn’t believe that she had spoken even though he had seen her lips move. George was frantically pulling at the back of her robes to get her to sit down.
“Hermione, that’s the Wizengamot down there,” George said, almost moaning. “And why on earth are you objecting to a punishment for that bitch?!”
Ron was staring at Hermione in disbelief; she might as well have just announced that she wanted to become a Muggle from the expression on his face. Harry and Neville were equally dumbfounded; it was unlike Hermione to so much as ask a question in class, and now she was challenging every representative of wizarding law in the Ministry.
Mafalda Hopkirk rapped her gavel to silence the muttering that filled the hall following Hermione’s outburst. There was a hint of amusement in her voice as she addressed Hermione.
“Madam, the questioning and accusations have not yet begun, so there can surely be nothing –”
Once again Hermione interrupted. “I wish to raise an objection to the suggestion that persecuting wizards and witches was her most grievous crime.” she proclaimed, ignoring George.
By now people were staring at her in a mixture of curiosity, admiration and appraisal, but Hermione seemed unperturbed. “Along with several others I witnessed this woman prepare to use the Cruciatus Curse on a child before she was distracted. I believe that she may also have used the Imperius Curse on several Ministry workers, although I was not present at the time.”
When Harry’s brain processed Hermione’s words he very nearly shouted at her but managed to change it into an angry whisper. “Are you mad? There is no way that I’m going to argue with the Wizengamot just to get my own back on her for that - the centaurs and Grawp did a pretty good job anyway!”
“Don’t you see?” she hissed back. “Even if the maximum penalty is carried out, she’ll get off with a few years in Azkaban! And surely you more than anyone know she deserves more that.”
This time Mafalda had to use a Sonorous Charm to get herself heard over the surge of exclamations and conversations that broke out.
“Order, order!! Young lady, your accusations are grave indeed, but without further evidence we cannot acknowledge them. Are any of the witnesses you mentioned here today?”
Harry groaned out loud when Hermione indicated him, Ron, Neville, Ginny and Luna as witnesses to the event, and when she mentioned that he had been the victim of Dolores’s plans he had to forcibly stop himself from drawing his wand and hexing her. He noticed several people leave the hall, obviously not wanting to stay for what now looked to be a very long trial. It was only when he looked at the scar on his hand that still remained from the hours of pain spent with the quill he hated so much that he stopped himself from joining them. Resigned to his fate, he began to think of the quickest way to recount the events in Umbridge’s office what seemed like a lifetime ago.
The trial ended with Umbridge convicted and sentenced to a lifetime in Azkaban, but it did not come easily. Threatening to use the Cruciatus Curse was not enough to merit an increased sentence, so they had to move on to the Imperius Curses, which involved Harry, Ron and Hermione giving a detailed account of their visit to the Ministry. With so many questions and Fudge’s attempts to defend Umbridge, it was evening by the time they left the Ministry. They all begrudgingly admitted to Hermione that it had been worth it, but George still couldn’t believe her nerve.
Lying in his four-poster in the newly repaired dormitory, Harry’s thoughts drifted to Ginny. She had been so good to him during the weeks after the war, and he didn’t know what he would have done without her. Whenever he had been about to break down in sorrow, she was at his side, taking his hand and offering soothing words of comfort. Despite this he still felt that she was angry with him for leaving her behind in that final battle. When he and Hermione had recounted their hunt for the Horcruxes, she had pointed out all the occasions where a fourth person could have been useful, not the least of which was her skill with food spells after watching Mrs Weasley when she was younger. He thought of the few times that they had managed to get a good meal; with Ginny there they could have tripled the amount and preserved their food for the next time they were in need. His reasoning about her being underage and still having the Trace seemed to pale in comparison to the idea of them never having problems with the lack of food.
He decided that tomorrow he would try to make up with her, but he needed a plan. Somewhere private, but not too private in case she started hexing him. He drifted off to sleep thinking of a candlelit Room of Requirement.
A/N: Many thanks to my beta Mortalus for making this readable (massive amount of work required for this chapter) and to the Amazonians for faithfully reading this.
Write a Review Harry Potter and the Lethifold Cult: Chapter One-Recovery and Repair