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After the Horcrux by Manwe Valarian
Chapter 1 : A New Day
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 17


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Harry opened his eyes and wondered where he was. He relaxed when he realized that he was in his four-poster bed in Gryffindor Tower. His mind was swirling with the events of the past few days. Voldemort was dead. The Death Eaters were captured or fleeing.

He sat up and looked around at the dormitory. This was the first place he ever felt at home and that he belonged. Could this be the last morning that he will wake up here? He didn’t attend any of this school year, but it was suppose to be his last. He did not want to go back to Privet Drive, and they wouldn’t want him back there even for a brief visit. Harry dreamed about his escape from that place, but now it was a reality. He could go to Grimmauld Place, but that house with all of its Black Family Legacy is so very depressing. The possibility of him actually defeating Voldemort was so remote that he never considered what he would do afterwards.

All these thoughts about where to live and what to do for the rest of his life, he quickly pushed to the back of his mind. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and breakfast were what he wanted to think of. He listened to hear the sounds of Ron snoring in his bed, but the room was silent. He must be at breakfast or in the common room. Harry quickly got out of bed and put on his trainers, before starting down the stairs for the common room.

Checking his watch he noticed that it was eight; breakfast time in the great hall. It suddenly occurred to him that there might not be breakfast with the damage to the castle. The kitchens probably had been emptied of food with yesterday’s celebration. He looked across the common room and saw a gaping hole in the outside wall. Walking to the hole, Harry looked out at the grounds of Hogwarts. Witches and wizards were scurrying around some cleaning up debris and some taking pictures.

“Good Morning, Harry.”

 Harry snapped his head around to see Professor McGonagall sitting in a chair in a corner of the common room. “Good morning, Professor. I see the clean up of the castle has begun.”

“Yes, I only wish that the workers were the only people outside though.”

“What do you mean? Who are the other people?”

“Reporters, photographers, people who want to see where You-Know-Who was defeated at the Battle of Hogwart’s….”

“Battle of Hogwarts?” asked Harry

“Yes, the Daily Prophet is calling it one of the greatest battles between magicians and magical beasts in history. So, naturally, wizards and witches are showing up by the hundreds to see it and the hero.”

“Hero?” Harry asked tentatively.

“Yes Harry, you!” Harry shook his head in disbelief, as Professor McGonagall spoke. “If you think you were news before because of your battles with You-Now-Who...”

“Professor. He is dead. You can call him Voldemort and even Tom Riddle if you want.”

“I know Harry. Old habits I guess. However back to the famous Harry Potter, the boy who lived and went on to amass an army of…”

“I didn’t amass an army!”

“Harry, my dear, surely you should be use to the type of stories that come from the Daily Prophet.” Her sarcastic comment brought a wide smile to Harry’s face. “So now the magical world looks to you as a saviour, conquering hero, and even a sex symbol.”
“WHAT!!!” He looked shocked at her.

“Why the Daily Prophet has a special edition dedicated to Harry Potter, his life and many loves. Pomona and I were amazed that with everything else you were doing this past year. You had time to father at least six children!” Professor McGonagall rarely ever smiled, so the mirth that beamed from her face seemed to catch Harry by surprise.

“I never! How could they!” Harry’s expression changed to fear as another realization came to him. He needed to see Ginny! NOW! “I need to leave and see someone.”

“Well, Harry you will just have to be patient. Travel plans for you will take some time to arrange.”

“Why can’t I just go into Hogsmeade and Disapparate from there?”

“My dear boy, didn’t you hear what I told you about the level of your fame. If you would walk out on any street, in a magical community, well-wishers would mob you. Therefore, it would be best if you stay in this common room until we can get the fireplace connected to the Floo network. This entire castle is crawling with people.”

“Can’t you get rid of them?”

“I’ve tried Potter, but many of them are parents of the students. They are here to pick up their child’s things that were left behind; the ones we evacuated and the ones that—that were hurt and died. I don't have time to spend sorting everyone out.”

Harry saw that Professor McGonagall’s eyes were tearing up, so he decided to be patient and wait for the Floo network. “Professor, Could I get something to eat while I wait?”

“Yes Harry,” and she pointed her wand at one of the low tables and toast, marmalade and pumpkin juice appeared. “I do believe that there is something you need to give me for safe keeping?”
 

He looked at her with a blank expression. He wasn't sure what she meant.

"Albus' portrait has informed me about the wand that you carry. He thinks it would be best if it was placed in its former resting place. As the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, I have the ability to set up better wards."


Harry suddenly remembered. “I almost forgot about the Elder Wand. It needs to be placed back in his sepulchre, where it can be safe. Hopefully no one else will ever try to use it again.”

Harry reached into his robe and pulled out the wand that had been Albus Dumbledore’s and handed it to Professor McGonagall. She took the wand gave it an appraising look and slid it into a hiding place in her sleeve.

“I’ll make sure  this is replaced after everyone has gone.” She then turned and left through the portrait hole.

As Harry devoured the toast and marmalade, he started to feel all alone in the common room. After spending almost an entire year with Ron and Hermione, it seemed strange for them not to be here. Why had they left without saying goodbye? Hermione had his rucksack, and he therefore had no clothes except what he was wearing.

He noticed that there was a copy of the Daily Prophet with the food so he started to read it. Most of the stories seemed to be written by Rita Skeeter; they were so sensational that instead of being angered by the lies he found them amusing. This helped occupy his time, but he was getting impatient. There had always been people in this castle in this room, to pass the time with, but now it was just big, vacant, and lonely. The more he looked around the room, the mnore he missed someone else, Ginny.

The fireplace erupted with green flames, and Kingsley Shacklebolt stepped out of it.

“Good Morning, Harry”

“Good morning Kingsley, or should I say Royal,” Harry said with a smile.

“So you heard some of the broadcasts we made?”

“One. I think? That seems so very long ago.” The thought of living in a tent and Apparating to a new place everyday seemed like a distant memory now. “I see the Floo network is working. I can’t wait to get out of here.”

“Well there are some things that I need to discuss with you before you leave. First, are you planning to live at number Twelve Grimmauld? I will keep it a secret from the rest of the ministry, any contact with you will be by me or one of the Order.”

“Maybe, I really don’t have any other place but the Burrow. I know that they would take me in, but with Fred dying. I don’t want to burden them.”

“Second is the business at Gringott’s. As the acting Minister of Magic, I have been able to convince the goblin’s to drop all charges and grudges against you, Ron, and Hermione.”

 Kingsley stopped talking and looked around the room. He seemed to be surprised that Harry was alone. "Where are they?"

“Don’t know, Maybe they went to the Burrow with the rest of the Weasley’s. I woke up this morning and I was the only one here. Kingsley, do you know anything about funeral plans for Fred, Remus, and Tonks?”

“Well that kind of relates to the last couple of things that I wanted to talk to you about. You do know about the press that the battle created ‘The greatest battle in history of magic’ or whatever you want to call it. The Ministry wants to create a special award to honour all the people who fought in it, who of course weren’t Death Eaters. The people who died will be given Order of Merlin’s Third class. You though will be given an Order of Merlin First Class.”

“Well I don’t think I deserve that alone. What about Severus Snape? I found out that he truly was on Dumbledore’s side, shouldn’t he also get an Order of Merlin Third Class. What about Hermione, Ron, Neville Longbottom, and Professor McGonagall they were just as important as I was. I think they should also receive a First Class award.” Harry stopped talking and stared at Kingsley. He suddenly realized that he had just given the Minister of Magic orders. 

Kingsley stared at Harry for a minute or two before finally speaking. “I can see why Dumbledore cared so much for you. You truly do think of others. I don’t know if I can get the Wizangamot to agree with all those things, but I’ll try.” He stood up and placed some Floo powder on the table in front of Harry. “There are very few wizards who are as famous as you and remain as humble. Be careful where you go! Not only Death Eaters but fans, admirers, and if the stories are true, paternity suites.”

Kingsley deep bass laugh filled the room. Harry just sat there irritated, wondering how many more times he is going to hear that remark.

Would Ginny believe it?

“Royal, you never said when and where the funerals are at. Moreover, I’ve only ever attended Dumbledore’s. Are they all like that?”

“No, they are not. Please stop calling me Royal.”

“Why, you sounded good on the wireless.”

“Fred, Remus, and Dora’s will all be this afternoon. Why don’t you just go to the Burrow?”

“Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.”

Kingsley turned and disappeared into the emerald flames.

Harry needed to go to the Burrow, but he wasn't sure how they would treat him. He wanted desperately to see Ginny  In many ways he would really like to go there to live for a while also, but he didn'y want to be a burden to them. As he sat and thought about this, he realized that it had been two days since he left Shell Cottage and his clothes were dirty and torn.

Harry stepped into the fireplace and said number Twelve Grimmauld Place. When he stopped spinning, he stepped out into the kitchen. It was spotless and clean. He was amazed at the change in Kreature in the past nine months.

“Kreacher!”

“Yes, Master” Said the aging house elf who bowed low enough to touch his nose to the floor.

“I cannot remember if I thanked you for your help fighting against the Dark Lord. It was most welcome and of great service. You are a great and loyal elf, Kreacher.” He hoped that the compliment wasn't too superflous. He wanted to make sure Kreacher knew how much he appreciated his help, but he didn't want it to sound fake.

“Thank you, Master! What can I do for you now?”

Harry walked around the kitchen trying to think what he should do, and if Kreacher could get it done in time. “Kreacher, can you go and get me new clothes something that would be appropriate for a funeral. I would also like some flowers, like a bouquet - Roses. Yes, that would be nice. Can you go and get these things this morning, while I get cleaned up? Can you buy things for me at Diagon Alley?”

“Yes, Master!”

“Good, that would be fantastic.” 

With a pop the house elf was gone. Harry went upstairs and started filling the tub. Even though the Death Eaters are supposed to be hiding Harry still refused to bathe without his wand at his side.

As Harry soaked in the tub, the simple pleasure of a warm bath was wonderful. It took many of the aches and pains away that he had from the fighting. As he lay there soaking in the warm water his thoughts wandered back to Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. Actually all of the Weasley’s, the night Fred died; he didn’t have the time to be there with the family. He had to stop Voldemort. Then after he was victorious there were so many people that it seemed like he could never spend more than a minute talking to anyone. Is this what his life is going to be like? Will he ever be able to walk down a street without people staring and sometimes pointing at him? If it is, then will Ginny be able to put up with it.

SNAP! Kreacher suddenly reappeared in the bathroom with a bundle of clothes and a large bouquet of roses.

“Kreacher has returned with new dress robes and clothes for Master Harry. I's have these roses, only one shop was open. Is Master pleased?” croaked the old elf.

“Yes I’m very happy with what you bought.”

“Does Master need help with his bath?” Kreacher stepped towards the tub as though he was going to assist Harry bathing.

“NO! I can manage on my own. Thank You! That will be all.” Harry shivered at the thought of the old elf washing him.

The elf left with a pop. Harry quickly finished his bath, dried off, and found to his surprise that the clothes not only fit but looked very nice. He stuffed his Invisibility Cloak into a pocket in his robe, and found a little pocket in his sleeve for his wand. He hung his Moke Skin bag around his neck. He was ready. He checked his watch and it wasn’t eleven o’clock yet. It is time to go to the Burrow.

As he walked through the house he thought about all the work it would take to make this house liveable. He reached the fireplace in the kitchen. Tossed in some Floo powder and he was off to the Burrow.

“Harry!” His name was said by four people before he even stepped out of the grate. Ron and Hermione were there. They were talking to George and Charlie, while sitting around the kitchen table.

“Where have you been?”

“Where did you get those clothes?”

“Why didn’t you come sooner?”

George asked for some hints about girls. Harry turned to tell him to “sod off”, but stopped when he noticed the sadness in his eyes. He had the wicked smile that the twins would wear when they were up to mischief, but his eyes looked hollow and lifeless.

Mrs. Weasley came into the kitchen from the sitting room. Her eyes were swollen and her face puffy from crying. Mr. Weasley was following close behind.

“What lovely flowers, dear,” said Mrs. Weasley staring at the bouquet in his hands. 

“Mrs. Weasley, is Ginny here?”

“Yes she is up in her room. Would you like to see her?” She had a slightly puzzled look on her face.

“Yes! Yes, I would! If it’s alright?” Harry never thought after all he had done that asking to see Ginny would make him so nervous.

“Ron, will you get Ginny. Harry, dear, would you like me to take those flowers for you?”

“No. Well – actually they are for Ginny.” This statement seemed to catch both Mr. and Mrs. Weasley by surprise as they shot each other quizzical looks.

“GINNY! HARRY’S HERE! COME DOWN,” shouted Ron at the top of his lungs.

“Thank you, Ron. That was such a help,” said Mrs. Weasley sarcastically.

Harry heard a door open very slowly up the stairs. He saw Ginny slowly and mechanically walk down the stairs towards him. Every eye in the room seemed to be on him. This felt wrong! He never expected this type of a reception.

Ginny’s face seemed to be drawn tight. She didn’t look to have been crying, although she seemed to be sad enough. Harry’s throat tightened, it hurt to see her like this.

“Hi. Harry,” she said this in solemn way, without looking at him.

“Lovely seeing you Ginny.” This definitely wasn’t how he saw this moment happening. Ginny was supposed to happy. There weren’t to be six sets of eyes staring at them.

“Who are the flowers for?”

“Harry said they are for you dear," interjected Mrs. Weasley. "Would you like me to get a vase?”

“No – I don’t think I’ll need one.” She took the flowers slowly from Harry’s hands. What was wrong? Harry wanted to look into her lovely brown eyes, but she wouldn’t look at him.

“Ginny is there something wrong? Don’t you like the flowers? They remind me of you, and the way your hair smells.” Harry whispered this as he leaned in towards her.

“What are you going to do with them if you don’t put them in a vase, dear,” inquired Mrs. Weasley.

“THIS!” Ginny swung the flowers with all her might and smacked Harry across the face. This caught him by surprise as his glasses flew off. She immediately hit him with the bouquet on the other side of the face. The room exploded with laughter from George, Charlie, and Ron.

“WHAT WAS THAT FOR!! Those things have thorns,” Harry yelped, while trying to guard from further attacks.

“GOOD! I am glad they have thorns. Serves you right,” screamed Ginny!

“You don’t believe any of that rubbish that Rita Skeeter is writing.”

“NO!” She spat, swatting Harry again with the bouquet.

“Then, WHY are you so mad at me?”

“Ginevra Molly Weasley! Stop that this instant! What is going on around here,” demanded Mrs. Weasley.

The three boys were laughing, Hermione was in shock, and Mr. Weasley had a quizzical look on his face like a dog tying to focus on a distant sound.

“You want to know why I’m hitting you Harry Potter. It’s for what you put me through this last year!  She stopped talking and took another swing at him. "I have loved you since I first laid eyes on you. Then last year we started dating. – I was in heaven!”

“That’s the reason?” No sooner had Harry said that than Ginny smacked him twice.

“NO!! You had to go off and save the world. You did the noble thing – as always, said that we had to stop seeing each other. Because the Death Eaters might find out and use me to get to you.”

“Yes. Well that is true. They do that dear,” Mr. Weasley said matter-of-factly.

“Then at the wedding the three of you take off, and I don’t hear from you or see you again until two nights ago.”

“Ginny, I couldn’t contact anyone you know how dangerous it was,” Harry pleaded with her.

Tears started leaking out of her eyes. Ginny let the bouquet droop towards the floor. “I had no idea if you were alive. I used to listen to hear if you had been caught or sighted. Night after night I’d lay awake afraid to go to sleep. It was always the same dream. You were lying dead and Voldemort was standing over you laughing.”

Unsure and upset seeing ginny crying, Harry stepped forward to touch her, to comfort her. Ginny immediately hit him with the bouquet again. “I am not through being mad at you! There you were at Hogwarts DEAD in Hagrid’s arms and that vile creature laughing about it. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out.”

“Ginny I am so sorry for…” Harry didn’t finish his statement because Ginny hit him with the bouquet and ran off up the stairs crying. Harry ran up trying to apologize, but when he turned to look into her room, she hit him with a Bat-Bogey Hex, and slammed the door in his face.

Harry slowly walked back downstairs with bits of flowers in his hair and bat shaped bogeys flapping on his face.

“Well Harry, was that the way you planned it,” sniggered Ron.

“Can someone break this hex for me, and help me find my glasses.”

“Now you know why I prefer to work with dragons. They aren’t as mean.” Charlie was laughing so hard that he had difficulty talking or breaking the jinx.

Hermione found his glasses and handed them back to him. “Harry, please be patient with her. You didn’t see what it was like for her. The dead were everywhere. She knew you would go out. When she saw you, it took several of us to keep her from running out there to you. Please be patient. It might take some time for her to recover.”

“Well, I learned one thing from this experience. Buy flowers without thorns,” Harry said while picking thorns out of his face.

“Harry, could I have a word with you, alone.” Mr. Weasley had a similar expression to Ginny’s. Harry sat down at the kitchen table, while Ron, Hermione, Charlie and George walked to the sitting room. After they had left the kitchen, Mr. Weasley walked up to Harry and stood over top of him staring down at him.

“So how long have you been dating MY little girl?”

Harry spent the next fifteen minutes talking about him and Ginny and hoping that he wasn’t going to say anything that will anger her again. After he had finally stopped talking, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley seemed to relax. 

Whatever Harry said must have been acceptable, because after a couple of statements about honour and virtue (mixed with hints of some jinxes that Mrs. Weasley’s father had used). Mrs. Weasley started cleaning his scratched face, asking questions about what he would like for lunch, and where he was at this morning. She thought he would have come with Ron and Hermione. Harry made an excuse about going to Grimmauld Place, and changing there. He then excused himself and went into the sitting room to talk to Ron and Hermione.

“Better think of a good lie, you two," he whispered to them. "Also where did you camp last night?”

“Oh! Welll – we – a – should have told you, but you were really tired,” stuttered Hermione, while her face turned pink. Ron just sat there with silly grin on his face. “Are you mad at us?”

“Me! No! Actually, I’m happy for the both of you. It’s just that I was talking to McGonagall at eight and Kingsley at nine. So I just thought I’d warn you. Your mother was asking me a couple of questions”

“Why lil-ikle-Ronniekins! You bad boy,” chimed in George and Charlie, from the corner of the room.

“Shut up you two!” Ron tried to say this as loud and forcefully as possible without his mother hearing. Hermione seemed to turn a deeper shade of pink and took a sudden interest in her fingernails.

“You know what, Ron? If you keep this up I may even start telling people that we are related. Of course, I’ll tell them you’re a cousin.” George seemed to be delighted. Ron just sat there and glared at him.

Harry quickly decided change the subject. “So, Hermione, I was wondering when you’re planning to go to Australia. I figured you would want to go and find your parents.”

“I am not sure. I want to be here for the memorial service. There is also the problem with getting plane fare. How do I explain what has happened, and what I did to their memories.”

“If there is anything I could do to help, just ask.” Harry thought how pedestrian that statement seemed compared to what she had done for him through the years. “When is the service?”

“The service for Fred, Remus, and Tonks is going to be out in a secluded valley, around sunset. More friends can come then.” Charlie told Harry, and then added in a whisper. “George has something planned. It is Fred’s service after all. Can’t leave without a laugh, it wouldn’t be a proper memorial.”

Everyone in the room started to question George about his plans, but he kept quite and just said, “You’ll have to wait and see.” As all heads were huddled around George, Ginny came creeping back down the stairs.

“Harry,” her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Oh, hello again,” Harry jumped at the sound of her voice. He stood there nervously looking for her wand.

“I am not going to hex you. I just want to talk. Alone!”

“Not in your room, young lady! That isn’t proper,” shouted Mrs. Weasley. She had moved into the room without anyone noticing, so when she spoke everyone seemed to jump as though stuck with a pin. “Lunch will be ready soon. If the two of you want to talk, then go outside, where your father and I can keep an eye on you.” She turned and walked back into the kitchen.

“Well Harry I’m glad you came over. Mom’s back to her old self. Thank You! A Job Well Done!” A statement like this should be coming from George’s mouth but instead it was Charlie.

Harry and Ginny walked through the kitchen followed by the inquisitive stares of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Walking through the yard, Harry touched Ginny’s hand, but she pulled it way. About half way to the gate, Ginny stopped and looked up at Harry.

“Harry, I am so confused. I don’t know what I’m feeling or what to say.” Ginny was pacing back and forth in front of him.

He could feel his throat tighten with fear that she was going to tell him she  found someone else. He reached for her again, and she stepped away from his hand.

 “What I told you in the house about being in heaven when I am with you is true. I never expected you to be interested in me.” Harry wanted to tell her that he felt the same way with her. “Please! Don’t interrupt me. I was always worried that you would forget about me…, there would be other more important things to think about. If I didn’t fear your death I was afraid you would stop caring about me.” Ginny looked at Harry with uncertainty in her eyes. “When I saw you in the Room of Requirement, I thought my heart would explode with excitement. I am amazed that you didn’t here it beating. When Fred, Remus, and Tonks were killed whatever excitement I felt was destroyed. Then I saw you. I – I thought you were dead.” Her voice started to shake with emotion. “The pain was unbearable. I wanted to run out there to be beside you….”

“Ginny, I am so sorry for that but…” pleaded Harry.

“Don't interrupt me; please, I need to tell you – to tell you.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “I didn’t care then if I died, because I could be with you. I just wanted to go out fighting. Then you reappeared, alive in the middle of the fight. I thought about what might have happened. I would have been alone, instead of with you. After you fought Voldemort and won I just wanted to go to you and hold you. There were so many people all wanting to see you too. Then the day wore on. I – I still couldn’t be alone with you. People started leaving and you – you were gone. I saw that Ron and Hermione also were gone, so I thought you were with them. I came home here went to bed and cried most of the night because I thought you forgot about me. That I wasn’t that important to you. When Ron and Hermione showed up this morning without you, I figured you had other places more important places to be. When you finally arrived and gave me those flowers, all the fear and worries fthat had been building for months just erupted from me. I need to know how you feel about me. Am I just a silly little girl crushing on someone – someone who is beyond my reach? I need to know!!”

Harry stood there looking at her. Guilt washed over him as he realized how much he had hurt Ginny. “Ginny, I am so sorry that I caused you this much pain. You are not a silly little girl! Without knowing it, you helped me through some difficult times this past year.When I was lonely and feeling like a failure, I – I would use the Marauders Map just so I could see your name. I missed you so much. I wanted this morning to be special. I wanted you to know how much I care for you. Seeing the type of pain that I have put you through makes me feel that – that I don’t deserve you. Faking my death was necessary. When I heard, you cry for me, it tore me up inside…. Leaving yesterday without saying goodbye was – inexcusable. There were so many people who wanted to talk to me, to celebrate, and grieve with them that I just had to get away. I am so sorry. All I ever wanted to do is protect you. I never thought that I would hurt the one I loved.”

Ginny looked surprised when Harry said that he loved her. “Harry, please don’t tease me.”

"What? What do you mean tease you?"

"Don't tell me that unless you mean it, Harry. I don't think I could stand being hurt again."

“Ginny, I do love you," he said softly. Her face suddenly softened as she stared at him. Her brown eyes filled with tears as she stepped towads him. She was kissing him. It was soft tender. Warmth filled him like he had never felt before. Perhaps finally admitting his feelings for her allowed him to feel this.

Ginny pulled back from him and stared in his eyes. "I love you, Harry." She kissed him gently again, before leaning her forehead against his chin. "Even though I never gave up on you, I never thought you'd say that to me." 

Harry lifted her chin up with his hand to look in her eyes. "Why do you think that I wouldn't fall in love with someone as beautiful and intelligent as you?"

"You're HARRY POTTER, the champion of the magical world. I am just Ginny Weasley..."

"Don't say that?" pleaded Harry. "I don't care about all this fame. The only thing I want in this world is to be with you. Please! Believe me!"

She whispered. "I love you so much." Her lips were on his. One of her hands grabbed his hair, the other his shoulder, and pulled him in tight to her. His one hand reached into her silky hair and the other was around her waist, as he pulled her tight against him

“Harry! Stop gropping my sister!" yelled Ron from beside them. "Lunch is ready. Everyone is inside watching you two.”

“Ron you’re a git.” said Harry and Ginny in unison. When he looked towards the Burrow, he saw the angry faces of Mr. Mrs. Weasley staring at them from the kitchen windows.

Ginny swore under breath. He was going to ask her about her parent's reaction, when she spoke up.

"Ron and my brothers aren't the only overly protective ones in this family."

"Yes. I discovered that earlier."

Ginny looked fearfully at him. She gripped his hand tight and started to walk towards the Burrow.

Everyone was already sitting down at the table, when Harry and Ginny entered the kitchen. Hermione and Charlie smiled at him, but Mr. and Mrs. Weasley with Ron were rather tight lipped. George sat there reading the Prophet’s Special edition Harry Potter his life and many loves enjoying the effect it had on everyone else.

The only chairs open were on each side of Ron and Hermione. Ginny looked at Harry and rolled her eyes before sitting down beside Hermione. She pulled her wand and set the newspaper on fire while it was still in George's hands.

Without any reaction to Ginny setting the newspaper on fire, they all tucked in and started to eat. Mrs. Weasley's cooking was excellent, and the conversation was pleasant, until Ron asked Harry were he was going to stay now. Ginny offered him Percy's old room.

"I don't think that is a good idea. It just wouldn’t be proper, considering the present circumstances," stated Mrs. Weasley.

"Fleur stayed here with Bill, before they were married," shouted Ginny. "I bet you wouldn't protest Hermione staying here, then why can't Harry stay here. It isn't fair!"

"The only way Harry would be able to stay here, is if he would allow me to cast a few Charms." stated Mr. Weasley calmly.

"Ginny, I am planning to stay at Grimmauld Place," said Harry, hoping to stop the heated argument. "Hermione, I was wondering if I could get some things from your beaded bag?" He said hoping to get away from the fight brewing up in the kitchen.

Hermione started to stand up, but George brought her up short.

"Why didn't you get them this morning, Harry? It would have been easier, when there was only the three of you."

Ron and Hermione's faces turned to ash, as all eyes around the table turned to them.

"I forgot," stated Harry. "I had other things on my mind and didn't think it would be a problem asking later."

Everyone seemed to be satisfied with Harry's reason. They went back to fighting over the injustice of Ginny not being allowed to have her boyfriend sleeping under the same roof as her.

Ron and Hermione quickly left the kitchen and practically ran up the stairs to his old room. Harry followed along and was getting out of breath by the time he reached the attic. Once inside, Hermione cast a Silencing Charm and Ron began to yell about his brother. Afer several minutes of screaming about George, Ron finally calmed.

Hermione started unpacking her beaded bag. She handed Harry his rucksack, and Ron his. Harry silently went through everything that was in his. Most of it was going to be throwh in the dust bin. It didn't fit him and he never wanted to wear another one of Dudley's hand -me-downs.  He roughly stuffed everything back in the rucksack. He noticed Hermione staring at the last of her money.

"Hermione, are you all right?" he asked her.

She looked up at him teary-eyed. "I don't have enough money to buy a ticket to Australia."

"Maybe Kingsley or Dad could get you a Potkey," offered Ron.

"The way things are now, it would take days to arrange one. However, I don't have any other choice."

"I'll pay for the tickets, Hermione," stated Harry. "I have money in my vault."

Ron chuckled at his comment. "You think any of us would ever be welcomed back to Gringotts?"

"Kingsley, excuse me, the Minister of Magic informed me that Gringotts has agreed not to press charges against us." Ron and Hermione gave out a small cheer at his news.

"He also told me that I was to get an Order of Merlin first class."

"Of course mate, you just finished off the most evil wizard of all time," stated Ron proudly.

"I toild him I wouldn't accept it unless you two, Neville, and Professor McGonagall also gets one. I didn't do this alone." Harry stopped talking as emotions of realizing how much they had sacrificed for him overwhelmed him. Friendship like that was rare to find.

The mood was broken by Ginny storming into the room. She walked across the room and plopped down on Harry's lap, before proceeding to snog him.

"Alright, enough you two," demanded Ron. I am not going to be put through watching the two of you doing that all the time."

Ginny broke away from Harry and smiled at Ron. "When you come back next year, I will be in the same classes, and Harry and I will be spending a great deal of time..." she stopped talking and  stared at Harry. "...studying."

Harry tuned out Ginny and Ron fighting with each other. Her comment made him realize something. Could he return to Hogwarts? If he didn't how would he get a job based on his abilities rather than his fame? Could he find a job that would hire him to be anything but a figure head? If he didn't get a job, how long could he last on the money in his vault?

Suddenly the realization of having a future beyond having Ginny in it flooded into his mind. He was a godfather. What would he have to do to be a good one? He had a godfather, but he was locked in prison for twelve years. He had Grimmauld Place, but he really couldn't  see living there the rest of his life. He had told Professor McGonagall that he wanted to become an Auror, but without receiving the proper NEWTs he couldn't even start training to be one.

"Harry!" shouted Hermione.

He snapped his head up and realized that everyone was staring at him. Ginny was looking puzzled, but Hermione and Ron looked afraid.

"Please tell me your scar isn't hurting," Hermione said fearfully.

He involuntarily touched it and looked at her. "No, it isn't. Why are you asking?"

"Your face was scrunched up like you were in pain."

"I just realized that I have a future now. I need to start thinking about life after Voldemort."

Hermione looked like she might start crying and Ginny ran her fingers through his hair. She started to lean over to kiss him, when Ron spoke up.

"It will be a short future if you can't keep your ruddy hands off my sister."

Harry turned to protest along with Hermione and Ginny, and they all saw that Ron had a lopsided grin on his face.

"Prat!" Ginny called her brother. She grabbed Harry's hand and dragged him out of the door.

Harry followed along without protest. He was still thinking about Teddy Lupin, and if he will have to help raise him. He would be willing to try, but he doesn't know anything about babies, except they cry, eat, and soil their nappies.

They entered the kitchen to find Percy and Bill sitting there. Fleur was leaning on Bill's shoulder. She looked to be crying. There was an intense discussion between them and their parents.

When Ginny and Harry entered the kitchen, Percy and Bill turned to look at them. Percy had a haughty air about him. Bill had a look like he might leap from the chair and physically attack Harry. Bill glanced down at their hands clasped firmly together and scowled at him. Fleur seemed to be whispering something to him and got him to calm down.

Ginny never wavered under their intense stares. She walked over and sat down at the kitchen table while keeping a firm grasp on Harry's hand.

The discussion turned to who would be Disapparating with whom. Ginny was underage. Harry and Ron can but never passed an exam, this fact seemed to concern only Percy and Mrs. Weasley. All the time no one said exactly where they were going. Finally, after forty-five minutes of negotiation and bickering, they were ready to leave.

The destination really had no name it was a valley north of town that the magical community would use for gatherings. Ron, Harry, and Hermione decided to Apparate together. Ron could lead. Ginny had to go with Mr. Weasley.

Within minutes, the entire family was standing in a deep valley surrounded on all sides by wooded hills. The valley reminded Harry of a large Quidditch pitch. The floor od the valley was large and flat grassland with one stream flowinf through it.

The memorial service wasn’t what Harry expected. Their bodies had been interred earlier in the morning. Only Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, George, Charlie, and Ginny were present at Fred’s. There were sandwiches, pastries, cookies, Butterbeer, and Firewhiskey.

There were twenty or thirty witches and wizards, many Harry recognized as Order of Phoenix members. Hestia Jones and Dedalus Digle were there, and telling stories about how unpleasant it was to be stuck with the Dursleys, all that time. Harry and Ginny walked around the party holding hands. They were accompanied by Ron and Hermione who were doing the same.

People were constantly approaching him and congratulating him on defeating Voldemort. He would say that he didn’t do it alone that he had loads of help, but so many people didn’t seem to want to believe him. They all insisted that he was just modest, before asking what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

As they walked around, they noticed that in the centre of a congregating mass was a picture of Fred and one of Tonks and Lupin holding Teddy. It was strange to look at their images all so life-like moving in the picture frames. The four of them stood transfixed and saddened by the fact that they were gone.

“It’s difficult looking at former students like this,” stated Professor McGonagall. She had walked up behind them with out being noticed. “I can remember all three of them in classes; where they sat, the trouble they would get into. I will never forget those fireworks and that portable swamp. Fred and George sure gave that Umbridge woman fits.” Professor McGonagall chuckled as she said this. “Now you two (pointing at Ron and Hermione) need to think of some way to cover your tracks. I was just talking to Molly and Arthur, and they seemed to be under the impression that the two of you spent last night at Hogwarts with Harry.”

Ron’s entire face, neck, and ears turned pink. Hermione face was the same colour, and she appeared to sink into the ground from embarrassment. Ginny looked around Harry’s shoulder and whispered “hypocrite”.

Hermione who seemed to be the most embarrassed by Professor McGonagall’s statement stammered out an apology. “I’m – I’m – sorry Professor – It’s – a – well – I’m just sorry.”

“My dear, you didn’t break any school rules. I think after what you three did this past year; you are definitely mature enough to be respected as adults. I just thought I’d give you a heads up. Well, I think, I shall walk around and see who else is here. Oh, if you three return again next year.” She was staring at them with steely eyes. “I’ll treat you like any other students. Understand!”

Professor McGonagall turned and walked away. Ron immediately turned his embarrassment into anger and directed it towards Ginny. Harry and Hermione intervened between the two, in an attempt to stop it from escalating to a full-blown fight.

They decided to walk over and get some Butterbeers. They saw Lee Jordan, Angelina Johnson, Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, and Oliver Wood standing in a circle around George, who was cracking jokes and telling funny stories so that everyone was howling with laughter. The only person who seemed to mind was Percy. This wasn’t the sad and sombre event that he had expected.

Harry noticed Bill and Fleur talking to someone, and Fleur was acting extremely silly. It wasn’t until Bill moved that he saw Andromeda Tonks, so Fleur must be entertaining Teddy. Harry wanted to talk with Mrs. Tonks, and the girls wanted to see the baby. The four of them walked over and Harry tried to introduce himself to her.

“Hello, I’m Harry Potter.”

“Well that’s obvious,” she said looking at his forehead. “We have met before. You were at my house.”

“Yes, I wasn’t sure if you would recognize me.”

“I remember you tried to curse me,” she said with an accusing tone.

“I am sorry, but you look like Bellatrix” He had hoped she had forgotten that.

“Yes, well that is a curse!”

“I don’t now if Professor Lupin told you, but he made me Teddy’s Godfather.”

“Yes, he did. He also told Dora and me why. It seems you told him to go home and be a husband and father to Dora and Teddy.”

“It was something like that. Maybe not that nice, I am sorry that I spoke to him that harshly. He was just very afraid.” Harry remembered yelling at Remus in the basement of number Twelve Grimmauld.

“I’m glad you did for my daughter’s sake. Thank you.”

Harry was shocked by her compliment and stood there for several seconds, before speaking again. “Mrs. Tonks, I really have no idea what a godfather is supposed to do. I really want to be there, for Teddy.”

“Have you ever watched a baby before?”

“No. I don’t even know how to change a nappy.”

“I can teach you. I’ll come over and help you watch Teddy,” chimed Ginny. She seemed to have a strange gleam in her eye.

Harry had forgotten to introduce everyone. When he introduced Ginny as his girlfriend, she seemed to be so pleased that he could almost feel a warm glow coming from her. After the introductions, they all started a pleasant conversation, which was centred on babies. Bill seemed to be a little uncomfortable with this topic. He mentioned that it was time to go and give the farewells, and pointed towards the pictures. Harry turned and noticed that people were starting to line up to walk past the pictures. George was offering everyone a glass of Firewhiskey so that they could toast the departed.

A knot was forming in the pit of Harry’s stomach. He started to think about finally saying goodbye to his friends.

Percy had gone through the line and was now crying on his father’s shoulder. There were witches and wizards from the Aurors department saying goodbye to Tonks. The old Gryffindor Quidditch team had gone past and paid their respects.

Ron and Hermione were in the line in front of Harry. They took a glass from George and stood in front of the pictures mumbled a goodbye and I’ll miss you before downing the whiskey. Hermione had to help Ron off to the side with the other people who had gone through the line.

The knot in Harry’s stomach had now climbed to his throat as he and Ginny took their glasses and stepped up to the pictures.

“Fred, you were like a big brother to me,” croaked Harry. The lump in his throat seemed to be making it hard to speak. “Tonks, I only knew you a short while, but in that time I came to love you as a friend, thank you for being there. Professor Lupin, Moony, I am so sorry that this happened to you so soon after finally finding love. I won’t forget what you wanted me to tell Teddy. When he asks why you died, I’ll tell him it was to help make the world a better place for him to live in. I will also tell him, that you made the world a better place by just being in it. All three of you did! I thank you for that.” He tipped his glass and the Firewhiskey burned his throat. The lump in his throat melted and started to leak from his eyes.

He felt Ginny’s hand squeeze his tightly. Grief had overwhelmed her. Harry put his arm around her and helped her over by Ron and Hermione. Bill and Fleur walked up and paid their respects, and Mrs. Tonks said goodbye to her daughter.

George stepped up to the pictures.

“Mr. and Mrs. Lupin, I hope you are together and happy.” He said before emptying his glass.

“Fred, I couldn’t ask for a better brother, business partner, and fellow trouble maker. I will really really miss you.” George had refilled his glass only to empty it again. “My dear brother, you always said you wanted to go out with a bang. I think you deserve about a thousand,” with this statement George pointed his wand to distant part of the valley; it erupted with a thousand Weasley Wizard Wheezes Fireworks.

The mood of everyone changed immediately from sad and sombre to one of excitement, as the fireworks seemed to fill the entire valley with lights, sparks, pops, and whistles. Whatever sadness Harry was feeling was gone almost immediately; even Percy seemed to be cheering up. People were laughing and giggling. The four of them were standing and watching the fireworks zoom around, when Mrs. Tonks approached Harry.

“I heard what you said up there. I think you will be a good godfather. You already have the most important thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You’re loving and caring. Don’t be a stranger, stop by and visit regularly. You can even bring a friend,” she said looking at Ginny. “I need to leave now, bye.” She turned on the spot and was gone.

They went and picked up a couple of Butterbeers, and sat down on the grass to watch the fireworks. “Hermione, I am paying for us to go to Australia ,” said Harry. “Ron, I also want your parents and Ginny to come along. I think we all deserve a long restful holiday.”

“Harry that will be very expensive are you sure you want to pay for it?” questioned Hermione.

“Yes, I am sure. All day long people have been asking me ‘what I’m going to do next’. That question has been bothering me because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I have decided to spend as much time with people I care about and love. Everything else, I will deal with as necessary.”
 
 
 


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