When Harry and Ginny landed in the Gryffindor common room, they quickly noticed that Hermione and Ron were not there, and neither were Molly and Arthur.
‘We should’ve probably set a more specific location within Hogwarts,’ chuckled Harry.
He led Ginny by the hand out of the common room and up towards the head teacher’s office; this was where they would check first. On the way there, Harry and Ginny noticed several house elves frantically trying to repair broken statues, place cursed suits of armor back in their rightful places, rebuilding the damaged walls, and hanging paintings back where they should be.
‘Hermione would have a fit if she saw the house elves doing things like this!’ observed Harry.
‘They seem to be enjoying themselves though,’ responded Ginny.
‘Yeah, they do, that reminds me Gin; Kreacher!’ Harry spoke, before raising his voice to summon Kreacher, his now faithful servant.
The house elf duly appeared with a loud crack!
‘Master requested Kreacher’s presence?’ he croaked.
‘Kreacher, have you been looking after twelve Grimmauld Place?’ Harry enquired.
‘Yes master, I have kept it clean for Harry Potter’s next visit.’
‘Thanks Kreacher. I may be back there tonight, but if not, then at some point this week. In the meantime, please help the other house elves to clean up Hogwarts.’
‘Yes master, Kreacher will do anything for Harry Potter, noble friend of the house of Black, and conqueror of the Dark Lord!’
Crack! Kreacher apparated from sight with a click of his boney fingers.
‘You’ve grown on him a lot it seems,’ smiled Ginny.
‘Yeah, he’s grown on me too, it’s handy having a house elf, I mean if you treat him with respect, he’ll do the same back to you,’ agreed Harry.
The pair chatted some more on their way to McGonagall’s office. They arrived just in time to hear Molly and Arthur sitting down to have a brief word with the headmistress.
‘…Molly, Arthur, I apologize sincerely for your loss again, if there’s anything I can do?’ offered McGonagall.
‘Thank you Minerva, but as long as we can give Fred the burial he deserves that’ll be fine. Every witch and wizard, young or old, made a contribution to defend all which we hold dear last night, we should respect that, and make sure that they all have a proper send off,’ stated Arthur.
‘I agree Arthur, perhaps the organization of a funeral for Fred can be made for tomorrow? Or is that too soon?’
‘Minerva, that’s fine with me, we must give them all a proper goodbye.’ Arthur paused, glancing at his wife, and then continued, ‘Incidentally, you wouldn’t happen to know if Harry, Ginny, Ron, or Hermione has arrived back at the castle? Only we all apparated from the Burrow together, but we’ve yet to see them since arriving.’
‘I’m sorry, I haven’t seen them, they could be anywhere in the castle, but I’m sure you’ll run into them soon enough. I need to get to work on helping the house elves and the other Professors to repair the damage done during the night, but if you want to come and find me again when you’ve found your son, daughter, Mr. Potter and Miss Granger, I’ll be in the great hall I expect.’
Harry and Ginny, who were listening in on the conversation, looked at one another and without saying anything, knocked simultaneously on the door of the office.
‘Come in,’ was Professor McGonagall’s response.
‘Harry, Ginny, you’re alright. Thank heavens. We were worried you might have apparated somewhere else,’ cried Molly, the relief evident in her voice.
Harry, whose expression changed on hearing this, was clearly offended by the remark. Molly noticed and quickly continued.
‘Oh, I’m sorry Harry dear, I didn’t mean to offend you, I was just worried; you know what I’m like.’
Harry’s expression changed back immediately. He began to smile, looking slightly embarrassed.
‘It’s OK honestly Mrs. Weasley. Just so you know, we apparated into the Gryffindor common room by mistake, and the first place we thought to look for you was here.’
‘Don’t worry Harry, and please; call me Molly.’ She turned to her daughter, ‘Ginny dear, now that you’re here, you and Harry can help Professor McGonagall with clearing the place up. I’m sure you’d find them helpful Minerva?’
‘Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley, if you’d both like to help, then you can follow me,’ agreed McGonagall. ‘Molly, Arthur if you proceed to the great hall, your sons will be happy to see you I’m sure, they’ve been there for at least half an hour now.’
‘I think that’s where we shall head to then,’ said Molly. She suddenly gasped, ‘…oh, what about Ron and Hermione?’
‘Perhaps Ginny and I should go and find them, and meet you afterwards Professor?’ suggested Harry.
‘Mr. Potter, I think that’s an excellent idea, and after you’ve found them, I’ll be in the main entrance hall attending to the damages sustained last night. But please Harry, it’s Minerva to you, you’ve done more for the wizarding world than most.’
‘Uh, OK Prof…Minerva.’
Harry and Ginny left the room; they had no idea where Ron and Hermione might be. Harry thought Ron may have wanted to see Fred, so he decided they would start there before Molly and Arthur arrived. Harry did not want to see Ginny cry anymore. He knew she was a strong person, but he knew all too well that losing a family member was definitely the hardest thing to take. He did not want to see her suffer; the presence of her parents would make it worse, and even though he thought he was being selfish, he wanted to be alone with her for as long as possible.
At the bottom of the stairs, Ginny spoke.
‘Harry, I think we should start with the great hall, I know Ron would have wanted to see Fred.’
‘Gin, you read my mind. You should take up Legilimency!’
’I don’t know why, but I seem to have some kind of intuition telling me what you’re feeling all the time. Ron and Hermione say they have experienced something similar with you as well.’
‘They can tell what I’m feeling, I don’t hide my feelings very well, but the difference is that you know what I’m actually thinking!’
Harry and Ginny looked at each other both looking slightly shocked. He continued.
‘It’s just like when I could hear you when you were here at Hogwarts and I was searching for the Horcruxes. Surely it can’t be coincidence.’
With this, Ginny leaned into Harry, kissing his cheek before resting her head on his chest. Harry put his arms around her waist.
‘Gin…’ he began.
‘Harry I know, you wish we could stay like this forever, just holding each other.’ She beamed up at him and winked. ‘I do too!’
‘Wow, I’m going to have to block you from entering my mind very soon!’
‘That won’t change anything though!’ she giggled. ‘You know I can’t do Legilimency!’
Harry laughed as he raised her head from his chest, and kissed her forehead, running his hands through her silky red hair as he did so. She smiled in pleasure.
‘Come on Potter, we better get going before we end up standing like this until were told to move!’
‘Right, sorry Gin.’
‘Don’t apologize! I love it when were like this, just us two together without a care in the world.’
Ginny gazed up at him with her beautiful soft brown eyes. Harry stared back intensely.
‘But there will be plenty of time for us later,’ she added, smiling.
‘This reminds me,’ began Harry, ‘we should ask Dumbledore’s portrait about this connection we seem to have before McGonagall gets back to her office, but I think we should find Ron and Hermione first.’
With a smile on his face, he took Ginny’s hand and they set off down the corridor towards the great hall.
As the two of them reached the entrance to the great hall, Ron and Hermione came into view.
‘Harry, Ginny!’ they both exclaimed in unison, as Harry and Ginny also spoke.
‘Good, we’ve found you, are you OK?’ continued Harry.
Ron didn’t speak, seeing his brother’s body again must have silenced him. Hermione looked at Harry and sighed.
Ginny spoke, breaking the sudden silence, ‘Ron, Hermione, we need to find Professor McGonagall, she wanted to see us. We could probably all help with tidying the place up.’
Ron just nodded and started to walk out of the great hall. Harry rushed over to him and put a hand on his shoulder, trying to comfort him.
‘Mate we’re all here for you, we’re all hurting, talk to us. If there’s anything we can do then we’ll try and do it.’
Ron shouted angrily, ‘You’ve got no idea what I’m going through Harry; I’ve just lost a brother!’
‘Ronald there’s no need to take this out on Harry!’ interjected Hermione.
‘It’s OK ’Mione,’ continued Harry, remaining calm, ‘Ron, I understand you’re angry and hurting, but I do know what your going through, I lost Sirius, he was the only family I had left. I’ve had pain through loss of family members all my life; I’ve got no parents, no siblings, only my friends. I know better than anyone what you’re going through.’
Ron looked up; he had tears in his eyes and his face was pale. He turned towards the wall and slammed it with his fists, before slumped to the floor in a sorry looking heap.
‘I’m so sorry Harry, I just don’t know how to handle it!’ he cried.
‘It’s alright mate, I’d prefer you take it out on me rather than Hermione, Ginny, or any of your family.’
Ginny was deadly silent. She didn’t like Harry and Ron fighting, and all she could think about at this precise moment was Fred. Harry walked over to Ron and offered him his hand, helping him up. The four friends chatted about Fred for a while; Ron and Ginny were both extremely cut up about it. Harry comforted Ginny as best he could, whilst Hermione attempted likewise for Ron. Eventually, after around an hour, Ron’s sadness began to subside. Ginny, who was trying to remain as defiant as ever, had stopped crying also and was clinging to Harry’s arm.
‘Come on, let’s go find McGonagall so we can help out with the repairs,’ suggested Harry.
With that, the four friends walked towards the entrance hall. After the events of the past hour, Harry and Ginny had completely forgotten to talk to Dumbledore’s portrait about the connection they seemed to share. Upon entering the entrance hall, they noticed just how much damage had been done. The roof had gaping holes in it, statues were smashed, tapestries had been torn to shreds, and the floor was a deep crimson from the stains of blood.
‘Ah Potter there you are!’ came the familiar voice of McGonagall. ‘Yourself, Miss Weasley, Mr. Weasley, and Miss Granger are not to help with the clearing up; you’ve done more than enough for us in the last 24 hours,’ she stated.
‘But Minerva, you asked us to help,’ replied Harry, confused at her change of heart.
‘That I did Mr. Potter, but I’ve decided that the repairs are going well enough without your help, so I’d like the four of you to go back to the great hall and supervise the movement of people out of there. We’re going to have a feast tonight to celebrate the victory, and there will be entertainment on afterwards. When you’ve finished with the supervision, you could ask Kreacher to start cooking with the rest of the house elves. That would be most appreciated. After that you may go home, just make sure that you’re all back in the castle by six o’clock this evening, I’ve sent owls to all students and their families except those of suspected death eaters.’
‘If you’re sure?’
‘I am Harry; I’ll see you at six. You may apparate into the castle tonight; I will leave the protective wards down as there’ll be aurors on duty.’
‘No problem Minerva…oh, there’s just one thing I’d like to ask you.’ Harry had suddenly remembered that he and Ginny had not been into McGonagall’s office to talk to Dumbledore’s portrait. ‘Could we go into your office to have a brief word with Professor Dumbledore’s portrait please?’
‘Why, of course Harry, it’s the least I can do,’ she agreed
‘Thank you Minerva.’
Harry turned to Ginny and whispered softly.
‘Let’s go talk to him; I’m sure he’ll have the answer. Hermione, can you take Ron and sort out the great hall please, we’ll be along shortly?’
Ron just nodded, but Hermione appeared puzzled and concerned.
‘OK Harry, but why is it you wish to talk with Dumbledore?’
‘I can’t tell you that yet, but I will do soon. There’s no need to be concerned; it’s nothing to worry about.’
Hermione sighed. She was afraid he would say that; she hated when Harry concealed his secrets.
‘Come on Ronald,’ she said as she turned to walk towards the great hall, ushering Ron along.
‘Just one more thing for the four of you to remember,’ called McGonagall, ‘school robes are to be worn tonight.’
‘Thank you Minerva, see you at six then,’ answered Harry.
Ginny and Hermione looked at each other; Hermione still had a puzzled expression on her face. Ron simply shrugged his shoulders at Harry.
‘See you two later then,’ Ginny asserted, smiling happily.
Harry took Ginny’s hand and they walked once again towards McGonagall’s office. When they were out of earshot of everyone else, Harry stopped and pulled Ginny close to him. He gazed into her eyes and she simply looked back without saying anything.
‘Gin, I don’t know if you can hear me but I just wanted to tell you that I love you.’
‘Harry, I didn’t see your lips move, did you just…’
Ginny looked utterly dumbfounded, Harry seemed delighted.
‘You heard me? I didn’t say anything, I just thought of what I wanted to say to you!’
‘Harry! You know what this means; I can hear what your thinking!’
‘Gin, try talking to me in your head, concentrate really hard on what you want to say.’
‘Harry, can you hear me?’
Harry rolled his eyes in amazement. Ginny was stunned.
‘Gin! It worked! I heard you, and your mouth didn’t move!’
‘This is amazing, come on, I want to know why and how we can do this! Let’s get to the portrait immediately!’ she cried with excitement.
Harry nodded and they sprinted excitedly, hand in hand, to the stairs outside McGonagall’s office. The young couple paused for a moment before proceeding up the stairs. The usually protective gargoyle merely nodded upon Harry’s arrival. Harry assumed it had been told of what he had done and that he was now allowed to use the stairs and office at will with McGonagall’s permission. The two of them climbed the stairs and arrived, panting, into the office. Many portraits were shouting congratulations to Harry. He ignored them and walked full of intent towards the portrait of Dumbledore.
‘Professor Dumbledore?’ he asked hopefully.
The portrait duly stirred and Albus Dumbledore came into view.
‘Ah Harry my dear boy, it’s nice to see you again, is there anything I can do for you?’ his bright blue eyes glittering kindly.
‘Please Harry, call me Albus. You have more than earned that right.’
'Sorry Albus. I just wanted to ask you something, Ginny and I seem to have discovered some kind of connection between ourselves.’
The portrait of Albus Dumbledore smiled.
‘What kind of connection?’
Ginny began excitedly, ‘Well, Professor, when Harry was on the hunt for the horcruxes, he told me that he’d look for me on some kind of map…’
At this, the portrait spoke.
‘Ah Harry, I thought you may have at some point encountered your father’s old map. I’m glad that it came to you, it was your father’s ingenious idea in the first place.’
Harry felt a tear come to his eye as he continued the explanation to his one time headmaster.
‘Albus, I’d say things to Ginny’s dot on the map hoping she’d hear me, and it turns out she could hear what I was saying!’
‘It’s true Professor…’
‘Please Ginevra, it is Albus’ smiled the portrait.
‘Sorry Albus. I could hear things in my sleep and I’d wake up, thinking that Harry was in my room under the cloak. But I realized he wasn’t and so I thought it was just a dream. But now I know it wasn’t, we talked to each other in the same way just before.’
Dumbledore’s portrait adjusted his half-moon spectacles and looked deep in thought
‘Hmm, well wizards who are soul mates have a sort of connection, they can feel it if the other is near, but this appears to take things further than that. I’m unsure of its true capabilities, but I shall tell professor Mcgonagall all I know, and inform her of your gift as it were. I know that it’s a life long connection. It is a power only those couples most deeply in love with one another can experience. I’ve never myself seen it before, only read about it. I will speak to Minerva, I’m sure she would be willing to give you the book as it’s somewhere within the school.’
‘Albus, what exactly is this called?’ quizzed Harry.
‘Penitus Sermo. It means inner speech. You should, as it has been described to me, be able to talk to one another through your thoughts and show each other your thoughts. You will also be able to sense where each other is, and in theory, if each of you is in danger you should be able to realize it. You will have access to each other’s emotions after time as well. At first, for this connection to work perfectly, you will have to be looking at one another, but as it progresses and your love deepens, you will only need to be in the same room, and eventually you will not need to be together or even in the same country.’
‘You will also both be able to block each other from the connection, should you wish to. However, if neither of you is doing this, then you should in theory be able to contact each other wherever you are in the world, that is just theory though, no one has ever been able to do it. This connection requires concentration and training to start with, but eventually will come naturally. All of this will require you to practice using it with the help of the book that I’ll hopefully get Minerva to find for you. A word of warning though, you will be able to contact each other throughout your lives. It’s a life long commitment, which should not be taken lightly. However, as you only have knowledge of this gift because you are deeply in love with one another, I would agree that a life long commitment to each other is definitely within both of you.’
Dumbledore was beaming down from his portrait, seemingly delighted. Harry and Ginny both looked at each other; he could see the caring look in her soft brown eyes, whilst his emerald green eyes gazed back at her with great passion.
‘I really want this and I hope she does too. I love her so much,’ he thought.
‘I love you too Harry!’
Ginny giggled, Harry just laughed.
‘My my, it’s rude to do it with company in the room you know,’ chuckled the portrait.
‘Sorry Albus, I was just thinking to myself, forgetting that Ginny would be able to hear me,’ apologized Harry, looking sheepish.
Ginny giggled again as Harry felt himself blushing slightly.
‘Harry, I really think we should find out how Hermione and Ron are doing.’
‘Of course, I forgot, thank you Albus.’
‘Harry, the pleasure is all mine. I will inform Minerva of this development, and she will talk to you about it tonight at the feast I expect.’ Dumbledore smiled and then added, ‘…and please, if there’s anything I can assist you or Ginevra with, do not hesitate to pay me a visit.’
‘Well, Albus? If we need to be looking at each other, how come Ginny heard me when she was miles away?’
‘Ah yes, well you see this ability, shall we call it, has shown up in many random ways in the past. I believe you were able to do as you described to me at first because the pair of you didn't realize you shared a connection. The connection happened to show itself naturally. However, now that you are fully aware of it, I find it unlikely you could both do the same things again without practice. Although, as this connection is ancient and not many couples experience it, who knows!?’
Albus’ portrait smiled down on Harry and Ginny, who smiled back.
‘Thank you Albus, we will come and find you should we need anything,’ replied Harry.
They both left the office and wandered towards the great hall, thinking about the things they'd talked about with Dumbledore’s portrait. They realized they could hear what the other was thinking whenever they looked at one another, and found it particularly funny, especially when Harry couldn’t help himself thinking of how sexy Ginny’s figure looked in her perfectly fitted jeans.
When Harry and Ginny came into Hermione’s sight, they were still laughing from each other’s thoughts.
‘You two seem to be having a lot of fun!’ said Hermione, in an inquisitive tone.
Harry turned to Ginny.
‘You know if we don’t tell her, this could get quite fun!’ he thought.
Ginny giggled some more.
‘That’s mean Harry James Potter, but I agree we can have some fun with it.’
Harry nodded. Hermione looked puzzled at the exchange that had just taken place, but she merely shrugged her shoulders and stated.
‘The hall’s cleared, so we can go home shortly.’
‘I will ask Kreacher to do the cooking then’ replied Harry.
‘Where’s Ron?’ asked Ginny.
‘He was just ushering people out of the other door,’ said Hermione, pointing towards the door at the far end of the teacher’s table. ‘Ginny, your mum and dad went home about ten minutes ago.’
‘Right, before I forget, Kreacher!’ called Harry.
There was a loud crack, and Kreacher appeared before them.
‘Master called for Kreacher?’
‘Yes, Kreacher I understand there’s a feast in the great hall tonight, are you aware of it?’
‘Yes master, the headmistress McGonagall has told Kreacher about it.’
‘Good Kreacher, you are to start organizing the food for the feast tonight then please, the headmistress asked me to tell you to do so with the other house elves.’
‘Yes master, Kreacher will start right away.’
With that, the elf made a little bow to Harry and then to Ginny before a loud crack was heard and he was gone. In the mean time, Ron had walked over to where the three of them were standing.
‘Are we ready to leave then?’ he asked.
‘Yes I believe we are Ron,’ was Hermione’s response.
Harry took Ginny’s hand, as the four friends looked at each other and nodded.
Three loud pops were heard and they were gone; off to the Burrow again.
When the four of them walked through front door, it was around two o’clock in the afternoon. Harry looked up at the large family clock in the kitchen of the Burrow, and sighed; all hands were pointing towards home, all but Fred’s, which was pointing at deceased. Molly was preparing lunch and Ron was the first to notice, as usual. At that moment there were two pops, and Bill and Fleur walked into the room from the rear entrance.
‘Are we in time for lunch?’ asked Bill. ‘I’ve just finished at the bank, and Fleur’s just finished helping at Hogwarts,’
‘Yes dear, you’re just in time!’ answered Molly.
Harry walked over to Bill and Fleur; Bill smiled at him.
‘Bill, I’ve been thinking about my bank account, do I still have one after the break in?’ asked Harry, looking rather apprehensive.
Bill laughed, ‘Of course you do Harry, but I must say Gringotts isn’t impressed with you! I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of getting money out for you because I knew it’d be so difficult for you to return there yourself.’
Bill handed Harry some gold in a bag. Harry broke into a grin.
‘No problem, though I do have to ask, what exactly was it that made Griphook help you break into the vaults? He’s not particularly happy at the moment!’
Harry frowned, and then it suddenly dawned on him why the goblin wouldn’t be in the best of moods.
He replied, ‘We said we’d give him the sword of Gryffindor when he got us into the vault, but well, we wanted it for a little while after the break-in; we needed it for what Dumbledore wanted us to do. But Griphook managed to get it from us.’ Harry looked up at Bill, grinning, ‘In the battle though, I think you realize where I’m going with this, Neville pulled it from the sorting hat like any true Gryffindor would have done, so he could use it to slay Nagini. And he still has the sword which must be why Griphook isn’t best pleased!’
‘Well that would explain it,’ agreed Bill.
‘I’ll have a word with Neville about it tonight at the feast, are you two coming?’
‘Yeah certainly Harry; it should be a good occasion.’
At that moment, Molly walked into the room with lunch. Piles of sandwiches and steaming hot pies were placed on the living room table; Harry’s eyes lit up, he loved Mrs. Weasley’s cooking. The family sat together and ate, but not much was said; everyone was so hungry as breakfast had been missed that morning. Ron, not surprisingly, was particularly untalkative.
After lunch, Hermione and Ginny went into the study with Fleur for some girly chat; neither Harry nor Ron knew why. Molly went into the kitchen to clear up, giving Harry and Ron a chance to chat with Bill.
‘Harry, I’ve a letter from Gringotts for you, the goblins haven’t told me what’s in it, so here it is,’ said Bill, handing it over.
Harry opened the envelope, and started to read.
Dear Mr. Harry James Potter,
It has come to our attention that not all of your inheritance was dealt with as it should have been when you came of age. We therefore would like to arrange an appointment to discuss this with you. You will need somebody with you to witness the transactions. We wish to process the transactions on May 6th at midday. Should this be inconvenient, please do not hesitate to tell us and we shall arrange another time. We would be grateful if you could write back to us with an appropriate venue for the appointment, and the name of the witness who will be in attendance.
Head of the Department of Inheritance at Gringotts Bank
‘Well, it looks like I’ve got more inheritance, though the letter doesn’t state who from.’
Looking pleasantly surprised, Harry passed the letter to Bill. After Bill had read it and handed the letter over to Ron, he spoke.
‘Harry, would it be OK if I was your witness? Only, I know how goblins work, and with the current atmosphere between you and them I think it’d best if there’s someone there with you who understands them.’
‘That’d be great Bill, thanks. Do you think we could do it at Shell Cottage then?’
‘That’d be fine, not a problem with me, and I’m sure Fleur won’t mind.’
‘Great, I’ll write the letter now then.’
Harry grabbed some parchment and a quill from the messy kitchen sideboard and began writing.
Head of the Department of Inheritance at Gringotts Bank,
The date that you have asked for me, Harry James Potter, to discuss my inheritance is in order. My witness will be Mr. William Weasley, of whom you should be familiar. The venue for the discussion to take place will be at his residence, Shell Cottage. Thank you for your time, I look forward to seeing you on May 6th.
‘That should do it Harry,’ said Bill.
‘I wonder what else you’ve inherited mate?’ enquired Ron excitedly.
‘I dunno mate, but I’d rather we kept it from the Ginny, Hermione and the rest of your family until I know myself. Is that all right?’
‘Fine with me,’ Ron replied, as Bill nodded in agreement.
‘Good, now do you two fancy some quidditch, we could charm some apples into quaffles and throw them around a bit? Shame I haven’t got a spare snitch…’
‘Did someone say quidditch?’ Ginny interrupted, as she came bounding back into the room upon hearing Harry’s words.
‘Yeah, as a matter of fact I did, you playing?’
‘Yeah I’d love to!’
Ginny walked over to Harry and put her arms round his neck.
‘You do realize I’ll beat you easily though,’ she thought to him with a sly smile on her pretty face.
Harry winked and grinned at her, trying to prevent Ron and Bill noticing their exchange of thoughts.
‘We’ll see about that Gin, you seem to forget you’re talking to your house team captain.’
‘Former house team captain!’ Ginny reminded him.
He stood up and kissed her lips; he could smell her hair, her flowery scent, like he always could, and for a moment he forgot where he was, but Ron soon pointed out that he was still in the presence of other people. Harry broke his kiss immediately, returning to reality.
‘So Gin, what is it you had to talk to Fleur about?’ he asked.
‘None of your business Potter,’ she replied coyly.
‘Oh really? Keeping secrets now are you?’
Ginny looked Harry in the eye.
‘What we talked about is all for you, so no need to worry.’
‘I’m glad to hear that! What exactly is it?’
‘You'll find out, all in good time Mister!’
Hermione and Fleur were still not back into the room, so Harry decided they should go out and play before they arrived. Hermione and Fleur were not massive quidditch fans anyway.
Two on two quidditch was great fun as ever; Ginny and Ron took on Bill and Harry. The game lasted all afternoon, until around an hour before the feast. Once back indoors, Bill and Fleur said their goodbyes and headed back to Shell Cottage to get ready. Harry and Ron went up to their room to pass the time whilst the girls showered. Both of them were unsure what to expect from tonight, it was obviously not a party as the funerals were to take place tomorrow. The four friends were all ready by six, and met with Molly and Arthur in the kitchen downstairs. All of them then proceeded to apparate to the great hall at Hogwarts.
The damage from the battle seemed to be well on the way to repair. Walls had been rebuilt using advanced magic, and paintings had been fixed back in their original positions. The holes in the great hall’s roof had been filled in; dim golden light from the setting sun now shined down from it, sparkling as it reflected off the marble floor below. Re-stitched tapestries hung at half-mast in a mark of respect for those who’d lost their lives only days before. Most people were already there as Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys seated themselves at the Gryffindor table. After a few minutes, everyone from the DA that was still alive was there, as were all the surviving teachers and many other students. Professor McGonagall got to her feet and addressed the hall.
‘Welcome, all students, parents and friends of the school. I’m not going to say much, but I must thank each and every one of you for your contribution to the war that has been raging for many years now. Whether the wizarding world accepted it or whether they did not, everyone in this room did their bit. Those students who are here and weren’t old enough to fight still did so, and so I must honor all of you, you were all very brave and though advised not to do so, still felt the need to defend your world. To those ex-students and parents who fought, I thank all of you. To the teachers who fought, it was your duty to protect the students, and it’s my opinion that each and every one of you, including myself, tried their hardest to do so; everyone in this room is a credit to themselves. I do have a little more to say, but I will not keep you all from eating any longer. So please, enjoy!’
The large tables filled with all kinds of delicious looking food and drink, much more than was normally on offer. The hall remained unusually quiet as everyone ate. Many people looked unhappy. Harry did not know what to expect from Professor McGonagall after they had eaten, but he was hoping she would not ask him to say anything. McGonagall spoke again after everyone had finished their meals.
‘Firstly I want to explain what is going to happen to the school year next year, it was decided very quickly this morning. This year, the governors along with the ministry have decided that those who were in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year over the last year can progress without a problem, 4th and 6th years who attended school will have no exams, the material will be included in their 5th or 7th year examinations. Those who were in 5th or 7th year and have exams to complete are invited to return to study that year again or sit the exams over the summer, their choice. Any student who didnt attend the school last year will have catch up classesor be placed a year behind depending on the students choice. If that isn't clear then please come and see me after I've finished.
I’m now going to read off a list of heroes who gave their lives in order to protect those of us who remain here today. Each and every one of them fought bravely, and deserves our undying respect. Firstly, even though he did not take part in the final battle, he played a massive part in the defeat of Lord Voldemort (many people still winced or shuddered at the mention of the Dark Lord’s name); Albus Dumbledore. I need not say anymore, as for me, he was the greatest headmaster this school has ever seen, and he always had time for everyone. Now for those who died in the battle…’ Professor McGonagall mentioned more than fifty people, each time indicating what they had done for the good of the wizarding world. Included were Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Mad-eye Moody, Colin Creevey, and Fred Weasley. Tears were flowing from many eyes now, including Ginny’s. Harry put his arm around her and she leaned into him.
Professor McGonagall continued.
‘…I want to thank those students who were old enough to fight and did so; those students did admirably, and have probably more experience in dueling than many older witches and wizards. This is mainly due to the people I want to thank last of all.’
She glanced down to the Gryffindor table at Harry, Hermione and Ron.
‘Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger, without whom, the world as we know it would not exist. You three, if you would please come to the front and join me, you are each to receive an award for special services to Hogwarts.’
Harry, Hermione and Ron got up rather reluctantly, and slowly made their way to the front.
‘Without you three the school may have been destroyed along with many of the people who are in this room today,’ continued McGonagall, as she handed them each a medal for their services to the school. ‘I’m not going to ask any of you to speak to us as a group, should you feel the need to share your experiences then I’ll leave that up to you. I’m kindly asking each and every person in this room not to harass them for any information; you will indeed incur my wrath should you do so.’
Harry looked up at Minerva with an appreciative glint in his eyes; she glanced back smiling at him and carried on.
‘There’s also a special mention to both Neville Longbottom, who led the resistance from Hogwarts whilst the Carrows were running it, and to his partner in crime, Ginevra Weasley, who continued to drive those death eaters mad in Mr. Longbottom’s absence. Now that I have finished my appraisals, is there anything anyone would like to say?’
Harry whispered to her.
‘Minerva, there’s one man that everyone has forgotten to mention, Professor Snape. He was the bravest man I’ve ever known, and was not a death eater. If you look into the pensieve with me later tonight, I can show you.’
‘Are you sure Harry?’
McGonagall looked totally surprised, as she drew her speech to a close concluding, ‘For those of you who do not yet know, the funerals of Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, and Nymphadora Tonks will be held tomorrow. Should you wish to attend either one, please come and talk to me when the food has been cleared from the tables. Thank you all for coming, please enjoy yourselves this evening, you all deserve it.’
There was a round of applause, before the food was cleared, and chatter started around the hall. Hermione and Ron went back to the table, but McGonagall wanted a quick word with Harry before he went anywhere.
‘Harry, there’s one more thing I’d like to talk to you about. What are you going to do this coming year? There’s a place for you, Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley at school next year should you want it. Please talk it over with them and let me know as soon as you can if you wish to come back.’
He smiled, ‘Thank you Minerva, I’ll talk it over with them.’
‘Oh and Harry, Dumbledore spoke to me about your connection with Miss Weasley, I personally think it’s wonderful news, have you spoken about it with her?’
‘We’ve spoken about it briefly, but I’ll mention it to her again in a moment.’
McGonagall nodded, ‘OK, please come and talk to me when you’ve discussed everything.’
‘Thank you Minerva, for everything, and especially for not making me speak tonight,’ he replied.
‘Harry, Albus Dumbledore asked you to do something and you have done it, should you not want to divulge what you have done, then that is fine with me. All I want to know is that Voldemort is gone and the world is a safer place.’
Minerva smiled, and walked back to the teacher’s table. Harry walked back to the benches that Ron, Hermione and Ginny were sitting at. Many people stared at him as he was on his way back to the table, but as soon as they caught McGonagall’s eye they soon stopped looking immediately.
‘Gin, are you OK?’ he asked.
Ginny didn’t speak, she just clung tightly to Harry; hearing McGonagall talk about Fred must have hurt her a lot he thought. Harry stroked her hair as he spoke to Ron and Hermione.
‘Ron, Hermione; Minerva wants to invite us back to school next year, she is asking back all those who missed their seventh year, as their education was ruined by the war.’
Hermione responded so quickly that Ron jumped when she spoke.
‘That is wonderful. I'm definitely coming back’ she squealed excitedly.‘…Ron what about you?’
He looked disinterested as he muttered, ‘I dunno yet, I’ve got no plans but I didn’t really think I’d ever come back.’
‘Harry?’ Hermione asked in a rather disappointed tone; she was obviously hoping Ron would say yes. Harry scratched his head.
‘I dunno either.’
‘Harry, I know it’s not for me to say,’ Ginny interrupted, sounding fearful, ‘but I’d love you to come back to school, I don’t want to be apart from you for a year again!’
Harry reassured her, ‘Gin, even if I didn’t come back to school, I’d see you every weekend, and I’m sure Minerva wouldn’t mind if I came into Hogwarts in the evenings to see you.’ He grinned, ‘Being Harry bloody Potter must be good for something.’
Ginny smiled as she hugged him.
‘Well, I think you should both come back to school,’ said Hermione, sounding strangely like Molly Weasley.
Harry looked at them thoughtfully, ‘I’ve always wanted to become an Auror, but I’ve been thinking recently, and well, I don’t just want to walk straight into a job just because of who I am, I want to have earned my right to have a job, not live off the back of being Harry Potter. I just want to be Harry, so I think I’m gunna come back to school and earn my way in life. I’ve always said I hate being famous and having the attention, getting a job via that is no exception.’
Of course, Ron instantly agreed, ‘I guess if you go back then so will I, I mean after the last year, I think all I want to be is an Auror as well. I don’t know what else I’d do, so I better come back as well.’
Hermione suddenly looked delighted. Harry smiled in recognition and turned to Ginny.
‘Gin, looks like you’re going to have all three of us to put up with next year then.’
Ginny looked up beaming and kissed Harry.
‘Thanks, that means the world to me you know.’
‘Gin, there’s just one more thing; you know what we spoke to Dumbledore about?’ he said, as she nodded her head in recognition. ‘Well Minerva’s willing to help us if you’re sure you want to do it?’
‘And just what is it you’re trying to do?’ interjected Hermione in a bossy tone.
‘Gin?’ Harry questioned, ignoring Hermione. Ginny looked into Harry’s eyes, and concentrated.
‘Harry, I love you with all my heart, and if Dumbledore’s right, like he always was, then this is a lifetime commitment. I want to be with you for the rest of my life, so this is no different, this is a gift given to those because of the overwhelming strength of the love they share for one another, and I want to embrace that gift.’
‘I do to.’
He winked and continued his train of thought.
‘…you reckon ’Mione’s getting annoyed at us yet, must be weird for her, us staring into each others eyes and doing nothing!’
‘Just what the hell are you two doing!?’ snapped Hermione, losing her patience.
Ginny and Harry both burst out laughing.
‘Hermione, I’ll tell you and Ron in good time, but Ginny and I need to discuss some things with Minerva, alone.’
With that Ginny and Harry got up and walked hand in hand to the teacher’s table as he wiped her face free of tears. Those who did not know of Harry Potter’s girlfriend certainly knew now. Harry wanted the world to know.
‘Minerva, Ginny and I have talked and we’d like to have your help,’ he smiled at McGonagall.
‘This is excellent news Harry, what of your education though?’
‘Hermione, Ron and I have all decided to come back to school next year.’
McGonagall, displaying a rare sign of emotion, was beaming, ‘Excellent excellent, then now perhaps I can inform you that you will be Head Boy, Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley will be prefects again, and Ginevra, you will be Head Girl.’
Harry smiled with delight. Ginny frowned.
‘Minerva, I don’t feel like I deserve to be head girl, not when Hermione’s going to be back at school, I’d feel much happier if you would give that to her,’ she replied truthfully.
‘Right, well in that case I’ll pass that honour to Miss Granger. It was a tough decision in the first place between the two of you. However, I haven’t yet decided who to give the quidditch captain duties to this year, so I will give that position to you instead if you would prefer?’
Ginny smiled happily.
‘That sounds perfect, thank you ever so much!’ she responded.
‘Now Harry, you spoke of Professor Snape earlier, should we proceed to my office and see his memory?’ she continued.
‘Harry, can I come with you? I know you told me about it, but I want to see it for myself,’ asked Ginny hopefully.
Harry nodded, squeezing her hand at the same time.
‘Minerva, I need to speak with Neville first but then I can show you and Ginny the memories, is that OK?’
‘That’s fine Harry, but please don’t take too long, we all have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.’
Harry nodded as he and Ginny wandered back to the Gryffindor table. They spotted Neville near Hermione and Ron. Harry wandered over to him, and shook his hand.
‘How are you Neville?’
‘I’m great Harry, you?’
‘Good thanks, I’ve something important to talk to you about, could we go out of the hall for a moment?’
Neville seemed surprised but agreed nonetheless, ‘Sure.’
Harry and Neville walked out of the hall as Ginny sat back down with Hermione and Ron.
‘Neville, you know how you pulled the sword of Godric Gryffindor out of the sorting hat?’
‘Oh yeah, sorry about that, I know you were left it by Dumbledore, do you want it back?’
‘Well you see Neville, I kind of do, I mean I think you deserve to keep it, it’s just that…’
Harry explained the situation to Neville, and he soon understood that he needed to give the sword back as soon as he could.
‘I can bring it to Fred’s funeral tomorrow morning, I’ll make sure it’s under a disillusionment charm so no one knows I’ve got it with me.’
‘Thanks Neville, you’re a good friend. Now if it’s all right, I need to be getting back to Professor McGonagall, I’ve got something to show her before I leave here tonight.’
‘OK, no problem. Harry?’
‘Thanks for everything, you’ve helped me so much over the last few years, I just wanted to say how grateful I am.’
Harry looked back at Neville, not wanting to accept thanks of any kind.
‘Neville, you’ve stuck by me when I’ve needed people to, so it’s me who should be thanking you, but I guess we’ve helped each other in different ways.’
‘Yeah I guess so, I’ll see you tomorrow then.’
Neville offered his hand and Harry shook it. Harry then walked back over to where Ginny was sitting, chatting to Ron and Hermione.
Ginny nodded and got up from the table.
‘See you guys in a bit, I’m going to speak with Minerva, don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it later.’
As Harry and Ginny walked over to the teacher’s table once more, Ron and Hermione looked less than impressed at being kept in the dark. McGonagall spotted them coming.
‘Right, let us go to my office then,’ she said, pointing towards the large hallway.
On the way to the office, the three of them discussed Professor Snape, but Harry insisted that whatever he said, it would not do Severus any justice. Once inside the office, they all peered into the pensive. Harry thought of the memory he was looking for and plucked it from his brain with his wand. He proceeded to pour the silvery mixture into the swirling stone bowl, and all three of them were sucked downwards, plummeting through darkness for a few seconds before they entered Harry's thoughts. Over the next thirty minutes, they all saw everything that Harry had seen from Severus’ memory.
When they landed back to the office, there was a deadly silence. Minerva walked over to Albus’ portrait, her head bowed.
‘Albus, I cannot believe that I did not trust your judgment, please forgive me.’
The portrait stirred, as Dumbledore kindly smiled down, ‘Minerva, many people doubted Severus, I think he preferred it that way, but in the end he prevailed, and did just as I asked him to.’
‘We must do all we can to clear his name,’ replied McGonagall, ‘and we must also get him a portrait in this office. Justice must be done.’
‘You must let Harry talk to the minister about it then, I am of no doubt that Kingsley will know how to handle the situation’
‘I’ll talk to the minister tomorrow,’ Harry agreed.
McGonagall turned to Harry and Ginny; she was still in a state of shock.
‘I trust you two can find your way back to the great hall, I think I need my rest.’
Harry nodded, acknowledging the seriousness of what she had just witnessed.
‘Minerva, thank you for listening, see you tomorrow.’
‘Good night Harry, take care of him Ginevra.’
‘Night Minerva, Albus,’ they both replied.
When they arrived back at the great hall, many people had left as it was quite late. Molly and Arthur were now sitting with Ron and Hermione.
‘Right you two, we need to get home, long day tomorrow,’ ordered Molly
Harry could see both Molly and Arthur had been crying; they were clearly not looking forward to Fred’s funeral. The aurors who had been watching the school for the evening wished them all a good night as they apparated to the Burrow.
Upon finding themselves outside the house, Molly rushed inside.
‘Get yourselves to bed as soon as you can, tomorrow will be a long day, Molly is finding it very hard,’ sighed Arthur.
Ginny ran to her father and gave him a hug.
‘Night dad, mum will be OK won’t she?’
‘Yes Ginny, but I think it’ll only really sink in after tomorrow, I think she can start to get over it then. I hope tomorrow will help all of us to get over it, after all, Fred wouldn’t want to see everyone like this.’
Ginny nodded and walked back to Harry. Harry put an arm around her waist and kissed her cheek. Ron was standing in front of them with Hermione; he also had his arms around her waist.
‘Night all of you, sleep well, and Harry, we still have no dreamless sleep potion, so should you wish to sleep next to Ginny, I’ll allow it.’ He paused momentarily looking her in the eye, ‘but please Ginny, do not tell your mother. And no funny business.’
‘Good night Mr. Weasley, and thank you. There won’t be I promise,’ replied Harry gratefully.
Arthur smiled as Harry spoke. Hermione said good night as well, before Arthur went inside to join his wife. The four friends lingered for a few seconds before wandering into the Burrow.
‘Harry, I want you to sleep in my bed with me, I don’t want to see you go through that nightmare again,’ insisted Ginny.
‘Yeah, I don’t want to have to go through it again either.’
Ginny looked into Harry’s eyes as he spoke and shot him a mischievous grin.
‘That’s not the only reason I wouldn’t mind you sleeping in my bed though.’
Harry winked at her, not wanting to give away to Hermione and Ron that they had just used their ‘gift’. They had decided they would share the information with their friends only after they’d had some proper tuition and read the book. Right now though, Harry had more pressing issues on his wandering mind, Ginny had made sure of that…
‘Hermione is that OK, if you and Harry swap rooms for tonight?’ asked Ginny.
‘Well I guess if it’s going to make Harry sleep better then I suppose I can accept it for one night…’
She winked at her as she said it, then turned and grinned at Ron; he smiled back dumbly before turning to Harry.
‘And as dad said, no funny business you two, she’s not of age yet Harry, you’ll do well to remember that.’
‘Ronald, what we get up to is our business and none of yours, so butt out!’ Ginny snapped, a ferocious look in her eyes.
‘Well I think you’ll find that my best mate shagging my little sister is my business!’
‘WE HAVE NOT! Don’t even dare make me out like that!’ she screamed, her hand now firmly on her wand.
Harry put his hand on Ginny's to make sure she didn't draw it upon her brother. He then quickly followed up to prevent a full blown argument.
‘And we won’t tonight Ron, I promise.’
‘Good, glad that’s settled, night you two,’ said Ron, quickly realizing that he would do well to leave before receiving a large dose of bat bogies.
‘Night Ron, Hermione,’ said Harry, trying to keep himself from laughing.
Ginny looked as though she could have murdered Ron on the spot. Hermione smiled at them both, and hugged them good night, before quickly walking off up the stairs with Ron.
Harry put his arms back around Ginny’s waist from behind her and pulled her up against him. He buried his face in her hair; he loved that flowery scent. Her anger seemed to dissolve with his touch.
‘Come on you, or we’ll still be standing like this in the morning,’ she smiled at him.
Harry spun her round in his arms into a slow, passionate kiss. When they broke away Ginny giggled.
‘Are you sure you’re going to be able to keep your promise to that idiot brother of mine?’
‘It’ll be tough, but I think I’ll just about manage,’ he grinned.
‘That you will, I want our first time to be special, when were both ready.’
‘Me too, and right now I’m pretty tired.’
‘I’m the same, it’s been such a long day again,’ she yawned.
The two of them set off up the staircase towards Ginny’s room. Harry slid his jeans off and removed his t-shirt before he climbed into bed. Ginny walked around the bed and began undressing herself. She then turned so she was facing away from Harry and took her bra off, replacing it with a pyjama top. Harry couldn’t stop himself from staring; her smooth skin and curvaceous figure were very enticing to say the least. She climbed into bed beside him and kissed him on the lips. Harry responded instantly and the kiss became more passionate by the second. Without knowing it, their hands began to wander and were soon all over one another, exploring each other’s bodies. Suddenly, the pair broke the kiss simultaneously, remembering the promises they had made. Both were breathing hard and beginning to sweat.
‘I thought we were going to get carried away for a second Harry,’ she whispered.
‘For a moment so did I.’
They smiled at each other, and kissed one more time.
‘Good night Gin, I love you.’
‘Night Harry, I love you too.’
Ginny curled up next to Harry, his arms wrapped securely around her, and within seconds, they were both asleep.
Hours later, Harry began to thrash around in his sleep, startling Ginny. She woke instantly, sensing something was wrong.
‘Oh Harry, not again,’ she thought.
She quickly reached for her wand and cast a silencing charm so no one would wake from the noise; she certainly did not want her mother walking in. She was thrown from the bed as soon as she tried to get back on it. She tried and tried again desperately, but couldn’t get close enough to help him. Tears began streaming down her face, not from her own physical pain - for Harry had hit her several times - but because of the fact she couldn’t do anything. Ginny thought for a moment, and then cast a full body bind curse on Harry. For a split second she thought it had worked, but then he broke free and this time he was screaming.
‘GINNY, NOT HER, I WONT LET YOU TAKE HER, GINNY, GINNY, GINNY…!’
He was repeating her name over and over; she was sobbing uncontrollably now. But never did she give up on finding a way through those flailing arms and legs. Eventually on about her twelfth attempt, she made it through and clung to him. This time however, unlike his last nightmare, he didn’t stop. He calmed down and was thrashing much less, but his movements would not subside. Ginny did nothing except hold him, hoping against hope that he would eventually stop. She kissed him on the forehead, then the lips, trying for a response…nothing. Running out of ideas, she tried talking to him in her head concentrating so hard that she felt like bursting at the seams.
‘Harry, it’s OK, it’s just a dream, I’m here Harry, it’s me Ginny, I’m fine!’
As she said this Harry’s body stopped thrashing around and his eyes opened. He was breathing very heavily and sat up with such force that Ginny was knocked onto the floor again with a large crash. Harry was frantic; he looked around the room until his eyes met Ginny’s. His breathing slowed as he made eye contact, and Ginny got to her feet. Harry jumped up and pulled her close to him.
‘Gin, your OK, I thought he’d…’ he gasped, sweat pouring from his body.
‘It was a nightmare Harry, it’s not real, I’m fine, I’m here with you, and I’m not going anywhere,’ she responded, holding him tightly.
Harry tried to smile at her and gave her a kiss.
‘I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost you again!’
Harry pulled her closer to him and buried his face in her fiery red hair, the smell he adored calming him somewhat.
‘That one was worse Gin, this time he just had you, but it was more real, we were asleep, and he raided the Burrow, and took you and me. H...he…w...was…’
Ginny lifted Harry’s face up and looked him in the eyes; they were dull, and lacked their usual emerald sparkle. She just held him, putting her arms around his neck as she kissed the side of his ghostly white face.
‘It was a nightmare, it’s not real,’ she repeated, ‘forget about it, I’m safe and I’m with you, you make me feel safe.’
‘But what if I can’t protect you,’ he protested, ‘if something happened to you I don’t think I could survive.’
‘Harry, firstly, listen carefully. I don’t need anyone’s protection; I’m not a fragile doll…’
Harry tried to butt in, but Ginny put her finger gently to his lips and continued.
‘...I can protect myself, I appreciate you feel the need to, and I feel safe with you because I know you can protect me. But no one is going to take me anywhere, and nothing is going to happen to me.’ She ran her finger slowly through his messed up hair and whispered gently, ‘Come on, you need to get back to sleep.’
Ginny helped Harry back to the bed; he couldn’t walk properly, these nightmares were taking its toll on his muscles. She pulled him close to her.
‘Harry, I’ll wait till your asleep before I drift off, I’m not going to let go of you either, I don’t want to see you like that again, it kills me.’
‘Gin, I love you, and I don’t know what I’d do without you.’ He felt his eyes filling with salty tears, ‘Now that I’m here, I don’t know how I coped for a year away from you.’
Ginny smiled lovingly at him.
‘You won’t have to cope for any length of time without me again, so don’t worry about it. And Harry, I love you too, I want you with me forever.’ She kissed his forehead tenderly. ‘Now let’s get some rest before mum and dad think we’ve been up to more than what we have.’
The two of them hugged each other closely once more before Harry drifted off to sleep; Ginny held him tightly like she said she would before falling asleep herself. Harry’s nightmares did not return that night.
Write a Review Harry Potter and the Life After Death: Hogwarts and Offers