Chapter 2 : Discussions And Decisions
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Harry hesitated for a moment, not knowing how what he was going to say would be taken. “Ah, I couldn’t decide whether to use Expelliarmus or Stupefy. If I missed with Expelliarmus, Luna was dead. If I used Stupefy and he blocked it with a shield charm I wouldn’t get another shot off before he finished his curse. In my haste, I mentally blended the two together, it came out something like Expellafy,” he explained.
Hermione gasped, her hand coming up to her mouth, “Harry you can’t do that! If a wizard tries to blend two spells together they usually backfire. What you did usually would kill who ever cast the spell. You’re very lucky you’re still here,” Hermione was almost yelling, with tears streaming down her cheeks. “Don’t ever do that again, - please!”
Harry was moved by how much Hermione cared for him. He truly felt, that at that moment he was the luckiest young man around. He didn’t know why these people had taken such an interest in him but it made him happy that they had.
“It was strange, when I cast the spell, my wand kicked back into the palm of my hand. I never heard of that happening before. It actually stung, as the energy projected out at Amycus. I guess I’d better be careful on how I use it next time,” Harry mused out loud.
“No, Harry, you can’t, it may recoil next time and either destroy your wand or kill you. Promise me you’ll never try to use it again,” Hermione was imploring him at this point.
Harry could see not only concern in Hermione’s face, but downright terror. “All right Hermione, I wont use it again unless there is no other option present to keep us alive," Harry vowed. He had not wanted to frighten her or anyone else at this point, they had just gone through hell together, and it would have served no purpose to keep any one under any more stress.
“That was incredible mate! I never saw anything done like that before. Just make sure I’m not to close to you if you intend to use it again,” Ron said half serious, half joking.
“Harry,” whispered Neville, “she’s still asleep, I need to get her to bed.” He blushed when he realized what he had said and how it sounded. It just hadn’t come out right, so he tried again, “Harry, I should put her to bed, if someone can help me.”
Harry smiled at his friend. He hadn’t realized how much Neville had changed, from a wimpy little boy to this self assured young man.
“Hang on Neville, help’s on the way,” Harry whispered back, as he slid Ginny off his lap. He went and asked Professor McGonagall if she could help Neville get Luna to her dorm room. When the headmistress came over, Neville stood up with Luna, still in his arms. He followed her out of the Great Hall up to the Ravenclaw’s dormitories. Both of them stopped at the door until Professor McGonagall touched it with her wand and it swung in. Neville followed the Professor across the common room and through the sixth year’s dorm.
Luna was gently placed on her bed and covered up with one of the thick quilts she had at the foot of the four-poster. As the two went to leave, Luna said very softly, “Please stay. I don’t want to be alone right now.” Neville looked at his headmistress and raised one eyebrow.
“You can stay, Neville,” Professor McGonagall said very softly. “If it was anyone else I’d say no, but I know you two spent a lot of time together in the room of requirements.
Let her sleep!” she said, patting his arm. Neville nodded and conjured up a chair to sit on at the side of the bed. Professor McGonagall pondered the fact that they seemed to be a couple she hadn’t really seen forming. Although, she thought, since the start of this year, Neville had matured to be one of the stronger wizards at the school. The headmistress left them to rejoin the others in the Great Hall as supper was being served.
After their meal, Harry went over to Kingsley, since no one else was nearby. “May I have a word with you Mr. Minister,” Harry asked under his breath.
“Harry, please, call me Kingsley, we’ve known each other long enough,” Shacklebolt chided him gently.
Harry shook his head, “If you’re going to be the Minister, everyone including me, must stay formal. This, I hope, will help you gain the respect and authority that comes with your job. I think that, that may have been the problem with the other ministers before. Many people were too friendly with them. I want to make sure everyone gets it right this time.”
Shacklebolt went to argue the point but Mr. Weasley stepped close and agreed with Harry. Kingsley relented on one condition, that when no one else was around, they would both call him Kingsley.
“Minister Shacklebolt, I’m going to need tomorrow to take care of our remaining problem. After that, if you need me, I’ll be at your disposal,” Harry said.
The Minister looked at Harry. “What are you going to do tomorrow?” asked Mr. Weasley.
“I’m going to take care of Tom’s body, Harry informed both men.
“That’s not necessary Harry. I’ll have a few of the aurors take care of it,” Shacklebolt said.
“No!! I’ll take care of it. I’m going to make sure he’s never coming back. The fewer the people that know what happened to the body, and the harder it is to get to, the less likely he’ll come back even as an Inferi,” Harry told them in no uncertain terms. “I’m going to get Hagrid to help me; we’ll take care of Tom.”
The Minster nodded his head, “All right then Harry, handle it the way you see fit. I trust your judgment. After you’re done, I’m going to ask you if you would be a member of the delegation that we’ll be sending around for the funerals,” Kingsley finished.
Harry stood there for a few minutes digesting what the Minister had said. He realized that most of these people had died for him, in a way. “I’ll be there when you want me,” he finally told the Minister.
“Mister Minister, I have to speak with you about one other issue if you don’t mind,” Harry continued. “We need to correct a grave injustice that was done to one of our Professors. It’s about Severus Snape sir.”
Kingsley looked at Harry with an incredulous look on his face. “Harry, are you talking of the same man that killed Dumbledore?”
“Yes sir, I have information that no one else knows of, that proves beyond any doubt that Professor Snape was working under direct orders from Dumbledore, himself! If you’ll come up to Professor McGonagall’s office with me you will see for yourself,” Harry finished.
The two men walked out of the great doors and went up to the office. When they returned some time later Kingsley was convinced that what Harry had said was factual and that Snape’s name should be cleared. “If you’ll excuse me I have to see Hagrid about tomorrow,” Harry said as he walked off toward his large friend.
He walked across the Great Hall to where Hagrid, Professor McGonagall, and Mrs. Weasley were standing. When he came up to them, Mrs. Weasley turned and gave him a hug that took the breath out of his lungs, not to mention added a lot of pressure to the sore spot on his chest where he had caught Tom’s killing curse.
“Oh, Harry, I was so proud of you today. I’m proud of all of you. You did something that no one else in the Wizarding world could have done. We’re all in your debt,” Mrs. Weasley was almost sobbing as she told him this.
“Thanks, Missis. Weasley, I really didn’t do much, everyone helped," Harry almost whispered.
“Harry Potter, don’t you dare be modest with me, everyone knows how amazing you were today. I won’t let you disavow your importance in what happened today. Do you hear me young man?” Molly said with a voice full of affection and appreciation.
Harry looked down at the floor, he hadn’t wanted any one to fuss over him but he couldn’t help feeling good about how the Weasleys felt about him.
“I’m sorry about Fred,” Harry gasped as he realized how painful his death was to him, let alone to all of the Weasleys. He didn’t know what to do. When he looked at Mrs. Weasley, his eyes started stinging, tears started to leak down his face, no matter how hard he tried to hold them in. Harry was having a battle with himself, and was losing.
Mrs. Weasley hugged him again, pulled his head to her shoulder and held him while he composed himself.
“Thanks,” Harry said softly as he wiped the tears from his eyes with his sleeve. He shook himself and turned to Hagrid, “could you help me tomorrow, I’ve got something to accomplish,” Harry said as he motioned for Hagrid to follow him. They moved a ways away before Harry explained what he intended to do.
“Arry, yer know yer kin count on me boy. What time ar’ we gona get together,” Hagrid asked.
“I want to start early. Would five AM be all right with you?” Harry enquired.
“I’ll be there Harry, anything you want,” Hagrid clapped his hand on Harry’s shoulder and almost knocked him down. “Oh, sorry, ‘arry sometimes I guess I don’ know me own strength.”
“Thanks Hagrid, I’ll see you then, ‘night,” Harry finished.
Harry went back and joined Ron and Hermione. “I’ve one more thing to do tonight then I’ll join you in the common room, all right?”
He turned away and left the Great Hall. When he reached the main doors, Harry stepped over the rubble and out into the twilight. His course took him over to Dumbledore’s grave near the lake. He removed the Wand of Destiny from his shirt sleeve and carefully slipped it through the jagged crack along the left side of Dumbledore’s Sarcophagus. Once the wand was back in his dead Headmasters hand, Harry stepped back and spent a moment in silence to honor his mentor. He took out his own wand and with a flick of his wrist healed the wound that Tom had created in the memorial. He walked back to the steps of the main doors and turned one last time to say thanks. A brilliant meteor streaked across the sky and reflected off of the highly polished white marble of the tomb. He knew at that moment that he had received his “your welcome” from his friend.
Slowly, Harry made his way back up to Gryffindor’s common room in a somber mood. He hadn’t realized how much he missed his old friend in the past several months. Things had happened that had distracted him from what he had enjoyed about Hogwarts. Harry’s musing, once again, brought him back to the fat lady’s portrait. When he went to give the pass word the fat lady smiled at him and opened up before he spoke a word.
Harry found his two friends by the hearth in their favorite chair. Ron was sitting in the chair and Hermione was cuddled up in his lap. When they saw him standing there they went to move apart. He stopped them with his hand as he stepped forward. “Don’t move, stay as you are, you’ve worked hard for this, you deserve it,” Harry told them as he sat on the floor across from them.
“All right then Harry,” both asked as they had done so many times before.
“Never better,” a soft voice joined them from the direction of the girl’s dormitory.
Harry turned to see Ginny standing there in a soft, silver, satin night gown. It crossed her left shoulder, leaving her right shoulder bare. It dropped down to just below her knees.
Harry should have gasped but he couldn’t make a sound. He just sat there staring at her. When his brains began to function, once again, he could only utter, “Wow!!!” Ron’s eyes bulged; his baby sister was definitely no longer a baby, maybe a babe, but not a baby.
Without saying anything Harry held his right hand out. Ginny came forward and took it. He pulled her down until she was sitting in the circular space between his knees. She leaned against his chest and rested her head on his shoulder. Harry wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. He grabbed his right wrist with his left hand, but kept his right hand closed. Hermione saw this and caught Ron’s attention with her eyes. Ron saw it as well and exchanged glances with her.
Ginny wrapped her left hand around Harry’s triceps and rested her other hand on his chest. “I’ve waited what feels like an eternity for this, I can’t believe we’re really here,” Harry whispered into Ginny’s ear. She responded by wiggling in closer to him. He placed his nose close to her hair and drew in a breath that filled his lungs. He had forgotten how wonderful she smelt, how soft her hair was. Harry thought to himself, “If I had to do it all over again, to be right here, I would do it without pause. If I have to die, let it be right now because I doubt if I’ll ever be happier.”
The girl of his dreams tipped her head back to look at him. There was a soft, sad smile playing across her face. Harry couldn’t take his eyes off of her. The fire light from the hearth lit Ginny’s eyes up as she stared at him. Harry kissed her gently on the temple and nuzzled his nose against her cheek. He kissed her again softly on the high point of her cheek. Ginny turned her head up to look at him straight on. She brushed his lips so lightly with hers it tickled. Harry stared at her for several seconds trying to memorize every millimeter of her. He tried to paint a picture of her in his mind that would last forever. He leaned in and kissed her softly, a virgin kiss that set his blood on fire. Ginny could feel power emanating from Harry as she kissed him back with all the force she could muster. She let go all that she had held in the last eight months. Harry slowly pulled away to look at her again, a slight smile was on his lips.
This kiss had overwhelmed Ginny, as she once again looked into his eyes. She couldn’t find her voice, couldn’t speak because of the emotions coursing through her soul at that moment. She looked into Harry’s eyes and mouthed the words, “I love you Harry,” as tears flowed from her eyes.
Harry looked at her with those intense green eyes and answered out loud, “I love you too Ginny, I guess I always have.” Ginny kissed him again and leaned into him, quietly.
Ron looked at Hermione. He could see tears tracing down the creases of her nose and the sides of her face. With the firelight the way it was, Ron thought Hermione was lovelier than he had ever seen her before.
Hermione turned to Ron and went to say something, but it was lost in the kiss that Ron planted on her lips. When they parted, Hermione sat there with her mouth hanging open. Ginny giggled, “Ron I think she needs another kiss.” Ron agreed and went back to what he was doing, to the pleasant surprise of Hermione.
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