1. In Memoriam.
The family are waiting to leave. All are trying to hold back tears. A couple sob openly.
A small plaque is held by the father. Small consolation for a lost life. The body is in the mausoleum, surrounded by others who are fallen.
Held up by the woman whose love kept him going through his greatest challenge, Harry Potter looks dejected, unsure about his place with these people.
The enormity of the last battle, and its effects, appeared to have hit him like a bludger to the gut. Fred Weasley was dead, as were Remus Lupin and Nymphodora Tonks, along with fifty two other brave souls. Some were friends, others classmates. All had been there because they chose to be. They had known the risk, or so he told himself.
It was now a full day since he had asked about dating his love once more. Ginny Weasley, ever the ray of sunshine in his dark world, had said yes. They had both been so happy. Together, with Ron and Hermione, they had visited Hagrid one last time before leaving for the summer.
He’d been cheery right the way through, until they had stood to leave. He looked like he was losing part of his own family.
“S’pose I got too close to y’eh.” He’d cried when they sat him down. “Never thought the day would come when I’d say goodbye to you three.”
That one word tore the heart out of Harry. Ron just went as silent as he had in the Great Hall. Hermione held onto Ginny for support.
“We… we’ll see you in a month, Hagrid,” Ginny tried to brighten the mood. “There’ll be a service for Fred and the others in the DA at the Burrow.”
Needless to say this had the opposite effect.
Now they just stood. Waiting to portkey home.
The key itself was an old hairbrush. Not outwardly significant, and yet the shape was familiar to those who had been waiting, and to one who had used, on that fateful night in July.
One second, they were in the grounds of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, the next, they were picking themselves off the gravel path in front of the Burrow.
Home had never looked so foreign. They all looked at it. The sun was still high in the sky, so instead of going in, they sat on the furniture located in the garden.
Arthur Weasley held Molly as she began sobbing lightly. Bill and Fleur both squeezed Percys shoulders as he broke down. Charlie patted the remaining twin as he just stared into space. Hermione and Ginny cried into Rons and Harrys chests respectively - Ginny adding a few punches for good measure – as the men silently stroked their hair.
They remained like that for hours, until the sun finally set in a full-blooded display of colour.
“It’ll be getting cold in a bit.” Molly shifted against her husband. “Ron, dear, would you mind putting a few logs on the fire?”
“Of course.” He looked down gingerly. “Come on, Hermione.”
She sniffed, but still followed him inside, her head on his shoulder all the way in. Ron constantly stroked her hair, as if it were his only comfort. Harry stared after them, and then looked down at the trembling person at his chest. Ginny nodded slightly.
“Anyone like drinks?” He started to rise.
“Thanks, Harry.” Came the replies, though no heads turned.
He carefully lifted Ginny up out of the seat, consoling her in much the same way Ron had with Hermione. They entered the kitchen slowly, as if not wanting to disturb the calm before them.
A bottle of firewhisky, large pots of tea and coffee were set onto the biggest tray in the house. Ginny was about to set down a selection of mugs when she noticed the living room still in darkness. Without really thinking, she headed in.
“Oh, Merlin.” She sighed quietly. Ron and Hermione had fallen asleep, still clutching each other for comfort. She went back to the kitchen. “Harry, I’m going to need a hand.”
“What’s up?” His eyes were red when they looked back at her, but he followed as she led him through.
“Who do you want to tackle?”
“How about we just set them back on the sofa?” and so, with greatest of care, Ron was laid against the back of the seat, with Hermione rested on him for warmth. “Just have to light the fire and tell the others they can’t use it.”
They went back into the kitchen and collected the tray, after grabbing several glasses. Curious glances were thrown at them when they headed into the garden. The unspoken questions were mollified by a quick explanation about the sleepers.
“Ah, so eet ees love after all.” Fleur clapped lightly, Bill beamed.
“When did this happen?” George suddenly piped up.
“I think they’ve known for years, just been scared to admit it.” Mr Weasley chuckled. Harry couldn’t help but remember the trips to the hospital wing in Hogwarts, when either had been injured, and how the other had reacted.
“I think it started with that business with the Chamber of…” Percy began.
“I thought we’d never talk about that, ever.” Ginny was perhaps a little too forceful, but the look in her eyes was still one of sheer terror.
“Sorry. Is that coffee I smell?” Percy handed out mugs as Ginny led Harry away from the group, they declined drinks when offered, and walked into the woods bordering the house.
The usually bubbly little girl stood in silence, once they reached a clearing. Her head was buried in Harrys chest, again. His arms around her, protecting her. His own chin rested on the top of her head. Fresh tears threatened, but for his Ginny, he would be strong.
“Oh, you noble prat. Come here.” Ginny pulled his head onto her left shoulder, and felt the flood gates open. She ran her fingers through his hair and whispered in his ear, soothing him slowly.
When he had cried himself silent she looked into his eyes. They flashed bright green, and in their depths, she could see the turmoil in his soul. It was time to open her heart and rid it of the demons that lay there.
“I want to talk to you,” he opened his mouth. “No, don’t speak, just listen.
“When I went back to Hogwarts, I already had plans in motion to help you. Really to help everyone as much as possible, but in the main, to help you. I knew you’d been left the sword in the will. You had been refused it, so I took it on myself to get it. Then I remembered something the old headmaster had said, though I heard it in a dream I was having, ‘Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it’. I needed help and recruited Luna and Neville to restart the DA.”
“Umm, Ginny. Dumbledore said that to me and Ron. About the help. We were in Hagrids house when Fudge came for him. I don’t think Ron ever told you about it.”
“I see. Well you probably know already what happened next since you bumped into Luna.”
“Heard a bit about it from others, too. Shall have to ask about that triple patronus.” Harry looked into her eyes now. “What’s up?”
“I also went to Godric’s Hollow.” The words took time to sink in. “It was after you and Hermione had escaped, and I felt this overwhelming need to go there. I went with Lupin. Don’t worry, we didn’t get into any trouble.” Harry raised his eyebrows. “Anyway, what I realised then was, in the end you had to face Riddle alone. He’d stolen your mothers protection, but didn’t understand it, when he came back. You and he were tied together because of his attack on you as a baby, though I still don’t understand it myself fully. I knew that given the choice between more senseless deaths, and your own sacrifice, you’d face him on your own. That is who you are. I’ve known that much since my first year. I don’t say anything about the Chamber, because I was out of it. I just remember you telling me to get out, and to find Ron, and I refused. No matter how badly hurt you were, I was not going to leave you.
“Then, when I heard you walking into the forest – yes I heard you – I knew why you were going. You were attempting to use your own sacrifice as a means to gain time for someone to finish him off. I felt that like no other emotion, you remember I told you.” Harry simply nodded. “It worked though, not as you’d intended, you’re here with me now as proof. He couldn’t affect us, or hold us with his spells. That’s why you closed on Bellatrix in the final fight. I felt what you were thinking, but mum beat you to the close.”
Ginny stopped talking, looking deep into Harrys soul, through his eyes. She shivered slightly, and Harry swept her off her feet. His lips crushed against hers. His arms squeezing warmth into her body.
When they came to walk back, it was with arms around each others waists, and heads resting against each others.
“Now, zat ees love!” Fleur exclaimed as she saw them, and rushed over to hug them both and handing out glasses of firewhisky. “A toast. To new beginnings, and in memoriam.”
“New beginnings, and in memoriam.”
They all headed back into the house at this. It was time to sleep, and to begin grieving for Fred in their own individual ways.
Ron and Hermione were left on the sofa to sleep. In the morning, she would be heading to Australia to find her parents.
Ginny asked Harry to join her in her room, after everyone else had gone to sleep. They lay in each others arms that night, holding onto their own precious gift.
* * * * *
“Oi, you two. When you’re quite ready,” Ron hammered on the bedroom door, his tone light. “We’re about to take Hermione to the portair.”
Harry smiled at that. For all his learning about Muggle words and ways, he could never get the urge to mispronounce out of his system. Telephone was still his favourite.
He looked down and stroked long red hair out of his face, savouring the smell as he did. He moved his free hand down the smaller body, drawing circles on her skin.
“Mmm, that feels good.” Ginny moaned gently. “What did my brother want?”
“Hermione, airport.” Harry breathed into her ear. “We ought to get up.”
“Well, your clothes aren’t in here,” She pulled herself upright, swinging her legs out of bed. “You’ll have to make a run for it.”
“Really, why?” Innocence flashed on his face.
“Before I change my mind about getting dressed.” She teased. He made to kiss her. “Now you’d better go. I can feel the questions already forming downstairs.”
Reluctantly, Harry got out of the bed. He kissed Ginnys forehead before heading up to Rons room, and fresh clothes. Quickly, he washed in the small basin, and threw on a pair of jeans and t-shirt. He’d just finished tying his own laces when Ginny knocked on the door.
“Are you decent?”
“For you, always.” He opened it and was thrust back in the room, her lips tight on his.
“Mmm, could get used to that.” Ginny grinned mischievously as she straightened Harrys glasses, and ran her hands through his hair.
They went down the narrow stairs, hand-in-hand. Whistles and cheers greeted them when they entered the kitchen. Both Ron and Hermione looked sheepish, as though their own wake-up call had been just as loud.
“Here you are, dears.” Mrs Weasley placed a large plate of buttered, toasted teacakes on the table as they sat.
“Who’s going to Heathrow with Hermione?” Harry asked between bites.
“Arthur, Ron and you two so far as I know.” A sad look flashed across her face. “I’ve too much to do here.”
“Nonsense.” Fleur put a hand on her shoulder. “You go. I’ll see to this, with Bill.” A tight squeeze of her hand accepted this.
While Mrs Weasley went to change, Hermione dropped into a chair next to Ginny.
“What will I say to them? ‘Hi, I’m your daughter’? What if I take the spell off and they don’t want to be near me for what I did?” She looked like she was about to cry, her lips trembling.
“Wish I was going with you.” Ron placed his hands over her shoulders. “I could’ve helped you with it.”
“Now you know you’re supposed to be here ready for when I get back,” Hermione looked into his eyes, drawing strength from them. “So we – you too, Harry – can fill them in with the whys and wherefores.”
The plan had been arranged long before the wedding of Bill and Fleur. As a Muggle-born, Hermiones family would have been targeted first, after the takeover by the Death Eaters. They were safely out of the country when it did happen, albeit, with new identities and memories.
The trip to Heathrow was easy enough. Compared to the battle, it was like walking into a shop. Hermione already had her ticket, and all that needed to be done was to check-in. She still carried her small, magically-enhanced beaded bag. She wiped her eyes as the departure call was announced, cheerfully reminding them all that she’d be back in a few days.
“Come straight to the Burrow with them, won’t you.” Mrs Weasley held her face.
She hugged each in turn, tears spilling out of her eyes. Her longest, most heart-felt hug she saved for Ron. They whispered to each other before parting. He stood back to compose himself, as she walked towards the departure lounge, her body shaking with each sob. She turned to wave, and was lost in the crowd as more passengers headed for the flight.
“You know, I’ll never understand why they call a place Fel-tham.” Mr Weasley injected into the awkward silence that followed. Harry and Ginny rolled their eyes, and Ron playfully hit his dad on the arm. Mrs Weasley simply shook her head and they made their way back to a quiet corner to Disapparate back to the Burrow.
Fleur had seemingly anticipated their imminent arrival, with help from the family clock, and already had a pot of tea on the boil when the travellers arrived home. She waved to them through the kitchen window, and called for her husband.
The day was warm, and so the pot of tea was taken to the seats used the night before, along with a fresh bottle of firewhisky.
“Drinking before dinner, tsk.” Mrs Weasley didn’t object to a few drops in her mug though.
Ginny noticed Ron soulfully cradling his own drink, and before Bill, or Harry, could suggest otherwise, the five of them left Mr and Mrs Weasley sat in the garden whilst they walked into the woods, and out into the fields beyond. Soon they came upon a familiar hill that overlooked their home.
“Seems like only yesterday, we were here, looking down there,” Harry prodded Ron.
“Yeah,” Ron kicked at the ground. “Which way to old Lovegoods place?”
“Somewhere over those hills,” Bill waved the general direction. “No use going to see him though. House was destroyed, some damn horn blew up.”
“Ah… erm… well there’s a funny thing about that…” Ron perked up. “We kind of gave him a helping hand with that. That’s why Luna was with you for so long.”
“I told you. Were zere any buildings you three left standing?” Fleur shook her head at Bill.
“Hogwarts, pretty much. Then there’s Gringotts and Malfoy Manor.” Ron replied rapidly. “And I think you told me your old place is still standing, Harry.”
“It is,” Ginny assured him, Bill smiled at Fleur knowingly. “Old Bagshots is another matter.”
“How do you know?” Harry looked puzzled one second, holding her hands in both of his, then realised the answer before she replied, his eyes widened.
“I was the one behind Potterwatch remember. And the reports about wizards helping Muggles. That was my lot, also.”
“You left in such circumstances, that little Ginny went nuts. Made all sorts of plans.” Fleur beamed. “If I remember rightly, by the time you went into the Ministry and helped all those people, she’d already organised half a dozen rescues. Reactivated the DA, and begun marshalling it into a fighting force.”
Ginny seemed quite sheepish at this praise. “No more than anyone else would have done, given the right information and contacts.”
Harry hugged her tightly. So much about the past year had passed him by on those lonely nights with Ron and Hermione. Even without him, the fight back had gathered pace.
Not without him. Because of one persons determination, it was because of him.
Ron sighed heavily. One of his reasons for fighting was now flying thousands of miles to bring back two of her reasons. He already missed her, despite it being only a couple of hours since the flight left.
Fleur wrapped one arm around Ron, and the other around Bill, and slowly set off back to the house. Harry bent slightly so that Ginny could hop onto his back, and carried her all the way down the hill.
He felt no pain or tiredness as he dropped her off his back into the empty chair. Indeed, he had never felt more alive since the events in May. He slipped in place beside her, and cuddled up to her, silently communicating his feelings for her.
Ginny dropped her head to his chest, stroking his t-shirt. She was thankful to have this opportunity, like all those to come. So many lives had been lost. It was time to live once more, even though a few sad things had to be done beforehand.
“Where shall we put Fred?” She hadn’t meant it to sound so off-hand.
“Oh… how about on that tree he fell out of as a child?” Mr Weasley looked over at the old oak and smiled tightly, lost in memory.
“Yes, I think so.” His wife agreed, not entirely convinced.
"I'll get the plaque, and George." Bill stood to go inside.
“No. We’ll do it when we have the DA service.” Ginny spoke around Harry.