“Ginny, its time to go home,” Mr. Weasley stated firmly.
“I want to stay longer with Harry. Please Daddy!”
“No! Your mother and I are leaving now and you shall come with us. I don’t want to hear about being of age in less than two months. You’re still my… you’re still under seventeen. Ron, we are expecting you home tonight also.”
Ginny leaned over and kissed Harry goodnight. She stood up and stomped off with her father. Ron and Hermione sat there in shock. They had never heard Mr. Weasley so stern with anyone. Harry knew that Mr. Weasley had almost called Ginny “his little girl”, like before when they had their private talk.
“All right, you two! Snap out of it! Your Dad is just upset because I’m dating Ginny. I don’t think it’s anything personal.” Harry paused, but Ron and Hermione sat there looking dejected. “It’s like he sees her as a six-year-old. He referred to her as a ‘little girl’ earlier today when he talked to me alone in the kitchen. The two of you just happened to get in the way of his mood.” Harry thought this was rather funny, because she seemed so mature.
Harry looked at his friends’ long faces, waiting for them to respond. “Why don’t we see if George needs help cleaning up here? Then go home, get up early tomorrow, and plan our trip to Australia.”
They started walking around the valley looking for George. He was sitting off by himself staring at the fireworks, and must not have heard them until they were upon him. He stood up and quickly wiped his eyes.
“Hey, George, do you need any help cleaning up? D’you need a hand?” asked Ron.
George looked at the three of them before speaking, “Yeah, I guess we should be cleaning up. I want to take this stuff back to the shop tonight.”
“Why don’t you come back to the Burrow with Hermione and me?” Ron asked, as they walked around the valley cleaning up. Hermione and Harry Levitating trash to the area by the refreshments.
“No. I need to get on with my life and business. I can’t just move home. Besides, there’s so much work to be done at the shop, we’ve – I mean, I’ve been closed down for two months. We also lost our biggest money maker because of Harry.”
“Because of me? What did I do?” Harry looked back at him, puzzled by his comment.
“You defeated You-Know-Who and now no one is going to need to buy those Shield Cloaks. So I have an entire store room full of merchandise that I can’t move.”
“Why don’t you sell them to students at Hogwarts...,” interjected Ron. “...to protect them from attacks by sneaky students.”
“What? Sell shielding cloaks to students. They couldn't afford them."
“Advertise them to the parents as a way of protecting their darling little children.” Ron looked at George, and nonchalantly offered an advertising slogan. “Concerned about bullies? Our Shielding Cloaks will protect your loved ones.”
George stood there in thought. A smile started to stretch across his face as he contemplated what Ron had said. “It might work. It will be a different approach. Yes, it might just work out. Brilliant idea, Ron! Thank you! Hey, have you ever considered working at the shop? If this idea works out we – er – I will be needing help.” George pulled out his wand and tapped the leftovers and trash from the party and they all disappeared. “Well, I’m off to the shop. If the three of you get time, visit me at the shop tomorrow, think about what I said, Ron. Bye!”
Ron stood there with a shocked expression on his face.
"What's wrong?" asked Harry.
"Did he actually ask me to work with him at the shop?"
"Yea, it sure sounded like it," stated Harry.
"I never imagined he would ever do that," said Ron still Gobsmacked.
Harry and Hermione shared a look, as they tried to control their laughter.
“I think it’s time to go home. I’ll be at the Burrow first thing in the morning. Have a pleasant night you two.” Harry shook Ron’s hand and hugged Hermione goodbye, before Apparating outside of his house. He went straight to the kitchen upon entering.
An owl was sitting on the table with a letter attached to its leg. He removed the letter and noticed it was from Kingsley, the Minister of Magic.
The Wizengamot has agreed to your request. Everyone that you mentioned will receive Orders of Merlin. You and all the recipients must appear at the Ministry tomorrow at one o’clock in the afternoon. Please send a reply by return owl. Be prepared to tell the assembled members about your defeat of Voldemort, and the involvement of the other recipients.
Kingsley Shacklebolt, Interim Minister of Magic
Harry wrote a quick note to Kingsley that he would be there. The owl flew up the kitchen’s chimney. Making a cup of tea, he sat down to reread the letter; suddenly the fireplace erupted with green flames. Instinctively, he drew his wand to defend himself.
Ron, Hermione, and finally Mrs. Weasley came out of the fireplace. The first two were clutching letters from the Ministry, and Mrs. Weasley had tears of joy in her eyes. She immediately ran to Harry and gave him a hug.
“Ron told me what you said to Kingsley. That he should also receive an Order of Merlin, First Class. Thank you! I can’t believe that my son has received such an honour.” She said this while hugging and kissing Harry. “Well I must be getting back. Come for breakfast tomorrow. Looks like it’s going to be a big day!” She let Harry go and left by the Floo.
“Thank you! You really shouldn’t have done that.” Hermione blubbered, as she hugged and kissed him. “That was so sweet of you.”
“Yeah – thanks mate! I hope you don’t mind if I don’t hug and kiss you.”
“Not at all, in fact, I would prefer it,” laughed Harry. “Hermione, I would not have survived without the two of you. It was only right that you receive any accolades that I get. Now, no offence, but will you let go of me? I think Ron’s jealous.” Hermione released Harry, and stepped back to survey the kitchen.
“Harry!” Hermione drew her wand. “Death Eaters!”
Harry and Ron also drew their wands and looked around for the Death Eaters.
“Where Hermione?” Ron and Harry said almost together, as they glanced fearfully around the room. Yet, they could find no trace of any other figure.
“Harry, we didn’t return here because Yaxley broke the Fidelus Charm.” She spoke to him as if he was daft. “Don’t you remember when we invaded the Ministry? Dammit! I can’t believe I forgot about it until now.” The three friends stood in the kitchen with their wands ready for an attack. Each one was remembering the incident that Hermione had mentioned and were angry that they had not remembered it earlier. It was the reason that they had gone to live in a tent.
“Harry, why are you calling him?” Hermione finished asking this, when there was a pop and the old House Elf appeared beside Harry.
The elf bowed low to Harry. “Yes, Master?”
“Kreacher, has there been anyone else in this house except myself and my friends? I am only concerned since the three of us left last September.”
“No, Master. Kreacher knows when people are in his house. Kreacher is a good and loyal elf to good masters.”
“Thank you, Kreacher. You are a good elf. That is all.” The elf disappeared with a pop and they lowered their wands.
“I don’t understand why Yaxley didn’t enter this house when he had a hold on my robes. We Apparated onto the stoop. He had to have been inside of the charms protection.” The three of them looked at each other trying to solve this mystery. Hermione continued, “Yaxley would have turned this house over to Voldemort without hesitation. What had stopped him?”
“Maybe he didn’t see the house or wasn’t inside of the Charm's protective shield,” Harry offered as a reason occurred to him. “Hermione, whenever I would go on recognizance missions to the Ministry, I would sometimes stumble when Apparating onto the stoop. The Death Eaters across the street would react as if they saw something. The Charm’s wards are close to the door. It could be possible, that when we Apparated, Yaxley landed outside of the ward. The security of the house was never compromised.” He looked at Hermione’s face and could tell she was not convinced.
“Hermione, I think Harry is right. I remember that Yaxley grabbed at my arm when you Apparated us to the woods. That’s what caused me to splinch.”
Hermione looked at her two friends for a minute, before conceding that they might be right. “I guess. I mucked that all up and made us live in that tent for nothing.” Disappointment showed on her face and in her voice.
“Hermione, you were fantastic. We all believed it too. It all worked out didn’t it?” Harry walked over to her and gave her a reassuring hug. “I owe you my life.”
“Ahem. Hands off my girl, Potter. You have your own.” Ron said with a smile, moving Harry away so he could embrace and reassure Hermione.
They spent the next half an hour talking about the awards, and things that they would like to do tomorrow. Finally, Harry said they should all be getting to bed and reminded Ron that he was expected home. This statement made Ron grunt something under his breath as he and Hermione Flooed to the Burrow.
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The next morning after taking arelaxing bath, Harry quickly dressed and Apparated to the Burrow, appearing on the walk by the kitchen. There seemed to be a mist in the air that the morning sun had not burnt off yet. He started walking towards the house and before he got to the door Ginny flew out in her nightclothes. She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a passionate good morning kiss.
“I missed you. I love you. Daddy wouldn’t let me come over last night. He’s being really strange towards me since yesterday.”
“I love you too. Yeah, I noticed that about your Dad. We’ll talk later. I think I know why.”
“Ginevra! I raised you better than to run around outside in your nightclothes,” Mr. Weasley said from the kitchen door. “Good morning, Harry.”
Harry and Ginny entered the kitchen to find Ron and Hermione up and dressed. Ron was holding his letter. The kitchen was filled with the delicious odours of bacon, eggs, toast, and tea. Ginny gave Harry a little hug and peck on the cheek under the watchful eye of Mr. Weasley, before leaving to change out of her nightclothes. He sat down at the table and Mrs. Weasley immediately put a plate stacked with food in front of him.
Harry took a deep breath and worked up the courage to ask about Australia. “Mr. Weasley, the three of us are planning to leave soon for Australia to get Hermione’s parents. I would like for you, Mrs. Weasley, and Ginny to come along with us. I think we all could use a holiday.”
“I – um – appreciate the offer, but I’m afraid we wouldn’t be able to go. I will need to get back to work and well – it just wouldn’t be possible.” Mr. Weasley seemed to blush slightly while saying this.
“If it is a concern about money, I was going to pay for the trip. I owe the two of you so much that I would really like to do this for you. Besides, we probably will get to ride on an airplane. Please come along.”
At this point both Ron and Hermione joined in to convince his parents to accompany them. The discussion lasted several minutes with the usual comments about Harry “should not be doing this” and Harry insisting, “I want to”. He was very careful not to mention that the only way Ginny could come was with them. Finally, the Weasleys consented to accompany them to Australia.
“Ginny, you, your father, and I are going to Australia with Ron, Hermione, and Harry,” announced Mrs. Weasley, when Ginny came back into the room.
“You convinced them! Wonderful!” Ginny squealed as she hugged and kissed both her mother and father before sitting down right next to Harry. She put her arm around his waist, and leaned her head on his shoulder. Harry was sure he heard Mr. Weasley mumble something from the other side of the Daily Prophet.
Ginny only ate two pieces of dry toast and some eggs, insisting that she wasn’t hungry. The entire time she was eating, she refused to let go of Harry. After breakfast was finished, they decided that everyone should go to the Ministry of Magic.
Mr. Weasley said that he would take them to the Dept. of International Magical Cooperation to see if they could plan their trip. After that, they would go to Diagon Alley to see George, and Harry could go to Gringotts. If they left right away, they should be able to do this and still get back to the Ministry in time for the awards.
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
They were at the Ministry by nine-thirty. Australia they discovered was not an easy destination to reach. The witch told them that all the Magical governments had boycotted the British Ministry during Voldemort's control, because of abuses against Muggles.
They would have to use Muggle transportation the entire way there and back. There also was not any normal type of communication either. The owls just could not travel that far over the ocean. It seems that Muggle communication would need to be used. When they said that they wanted to leave the next day the witch that was helping them nearly fainted, however since this was for Harry Potter and his close friends she would try her best.
Kingsley and Professor McGonagall were right about his fame. Even at the Ministry, he was drawing stares from everyone, and people were constantly thanking him and congratulating him. They were even asking for his autograph. One particularly attractive witch cornered him in the lift and insisted he give her his autograph. Hermione grudgingly gave him a quill, and Harry, mumbling under his breath, asked what she wanted him to sign. She pulled up her robe and insisted that he sign her thigh.
Luckily, the lift reached her floor before Ginny could break free of her mother’s and Hermione’s grip. Therefore, the witch escaped without Harry’s autograph and being hexed to bits by Ginny.
The plans for the trip would be finalized later that afternoon. They had two hours to go to Diagon Alley before they had to be back for the meeting. They decided to Apparate directly into Weasley Wizard Wheezes back room. The sudden appearance of six people in the back room, where George was taking inventory, made him jump and throw a box of joke wands. When they landed on the floor, they turned into forty rubber chickens.
“Bloody hell! What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack,” cried George.
“We have great news. Ron is getting an award, an Order of Merlin, First Class, this afternoon,” proclaimed Mrs. Weasley proudly. George congratulated Ron and proceeded to harass him about receiving such a lofty honour. Harry decided to take his leave so that he could go to Gringotts and get the money needed for the trip.
When he stepped out of the front door, the street was busy and everyone seemed to be happy. Unlike the last time, he was on this street and going to Gringotts. Harry started walking towards the bank and had not moved ten metres when someone shouted, “Hey, it’s Harry Potter.”
The street suddenly became impassable. People seemed to emerge from everywhere, and they all wanted to see him. It was a repeat of the Ministry; pats on the back, handshakes, an attempted hug and kiss on the cheek, and people wanting autographs. Harry tried to keep moving towards the bank but it was almost impossible with everyone crowding around him like this. He started wondering if Dumbledore went through this after he defeated Grindlewald.
He became disoriented as to where he was on the street. He hoped that he was not heading away from the bank, when he heard. “Avada-”
Harry’s fighting instincts took over. In a swift fluid motion, he fell to the ground, while turning towards the sound and pulling his wand out of his sleeve.
“Kedavra!” A jet of green light shot over Harry’s prone body.
“Stupefy!” Harry shot a stunning spell back at the place where the killing curse originated. He hit his mark. The other wizard fell to the ground stunned unconscious.
As he fell, Harry felt something fall across his legs. Looking at his legs, he saw a wizard with a look of shock on his face, and his eyes and mouth were open. Dead! Killed by the curse Harry had avoided, just an innocent bystander who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The street suddenly erupted with hundreds of shouting voices. Harry could only hear bits and pieces as he pushed the wizard off him and looked around for more attackers.
Potter’s been attacked!”
“Two are down!”
The street quickly cleared out, as people were Disapparating to get away from the fight. Harry slowly walked over to his attacker. He looked to see if he could recognize him. Sensing movement behind him, he turned and saw all the Weasleys and Hermione running towards him. Ron was the first to reach him followed by Ginny and George.
“Are you all right mate? What happened?” exclaimed Ron.
Harry was going to tell him, when a small voice seemed to pierce his heart.
“Please, get up Daddy!” A little girl no older than six was leaning over the dead wizard. Her long blond hair fell over periwinkle robes that looked brand new. She was looking into his blank dead eyes while her little hand shook his shoulder.
“I want to go home now. Please get up. I don’t want ice cream. I just want to go home to Mummy. Please get up.”
Her sweet innocent voice rang through the street like a bell. No one was talking anymore everyone stood staring at this little girl trying to wake her dead father. Harry started to walk over to her, but Mrs. Weasley reached her first.
“Dear, Your Daddy can’t get up. He’s – he’s has been hurt. Is your Mummy or someone else here that you know?”
“Mummy is at home. I don’t know any one else. Why – why did someone hurt my Daddy?”
“I don’t know why.” Mrs. Weasley answered as she started to cry. She reached her hand out to the girl. “Why don’t you come inside, and we will try to find your mother.”
“I don’t want to leave my Daddy out here.” Tears started to fall from the girls eyes.
Mrs. Weasley took the girls hand as George levitated her father’s body and followed them into the joke shop. As she walked, she asked Mr. Weasley, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione to try to find someone who knew her. Harry noticed as they dispersed, Ginny was holding on tight to her father’s hand.
Two cracks shocked Harry back to reality, turning he saw two Aurors that he recognized from last nights memorial service walking towards him. After taking the attacker's wand and binding him head to foot with rope, they questioned Harry and many of the people still on the street. Harry could not help feeling responsible for the wizard’s death when he told about ducking out of the way of the killing curse.
The Aurors went into the joke shop to check on the little girl and see her father.
Harry turned towards the bank when he felt a hand on his arm. He turned expecting to see Ginny, Hermione, or Ron, but it was an old man. Who walked with a cane.
“It wasn’t your fault that man died. You weren’t the one that fired the curse,” wheezed the man. “You can’t save the entire world, Harry Potter.”
It was as if the man could read his thoughts. Harry had been thinking about how this should not be happening anymore. Voldemort is dead! Families should not be torn apart like this. Another family ripped apart by death and hatred just like his, Neville’s, the Bones’, the Weasley’s, and Teddy Lupin’s. It was suppose to have stopped.
Harry acknowledged the wizened man. He had no choice but to continue with their plans of finding the Grangers. The little girl was being taken care of by Mrs. Weasley and the Aurors should be able to help, so there isn’t anything for him to do. He swallowed his guilt of the wizard’s death, and started walking towards the bank. He felt queasy, as he strode through the street, as though he had swallowed a rancid bit of food.
The bank was under a great deal of repair. He could not help but found it humorous that here he was going into this bank to check on his vault, when four days ago, he was breaking into the Lestrange’s. When Harry stepped through the inner set of doors, he could swear that every goblin turned to look at him.
He walked up to the nearest window. “Hello, I’m here to check on my vault and to make a withdrawal.”
“Do you have your key, Mr. Potter?”
“No. I would like to check on the Black Family vault willed to me by Sirius Black. I was never given a key.”
The goblin dropped off his chair and walked to one of the back offices. Harry could see them back there talking and occasionally staring out at him. After ten minutes of this, the goblin returned with a scroll of parchment.
“We checked the records and it seems that you indeed have been left the entire contents of the Black Family vault. However, you will not be able to go to it for some time. It seems that someone broke into this bank a few days ago and flew our security dragon out of here. Therefore, we are now in the process of training a new one. It is too dangerous to allow anyone down there, except our own specially trained staff. If you want to make a withdrawal, you will need to write it down the amount, and we will get it for you.”
“Well. I need two thousand Galleons sent to the Department of International Magical Cooperation, and I would also like to have some Muggle money. I think twenty-five thousand pounds should be enough. Do you think I would have enough in the vault for that transaction?”
The goblin looked at Harry with his jet-black expressionless eyes, and then down at the scroll he was carrying. “I will get your Muggle money now. The rest will be sent to the Ministry this afternoon.”
“Is that a record of the vaults transactions,” Harry asked about the scroll.
“Yes. Would Mr. Potter like to see it?” The goblin extended his hand with the scroll.
Harry took the scroll and started to read it. The vault had initial holdings of 8,705,266 Galleons 14 Sickles and 3 Knuts. There were eight or nine withdrawals of ten to twenty Galleons, probably Kreacher buying things for the house. Then he saw a transaction of 1,327,008 Galleons for a dragon and repairs.
As he was reading the scroll, the goblin had counted out his pound notes on the counter. It looked at Harry with a nasty smile on its face. “Dragon rides are very expensive, aren’t they Mr. Potter.”
Harry took the cash and squeezed it into his Moke Skin bag before leaving the window. He left the bank liking goblins even less than before. No wonder they “forgave” the three of them. He had to pay for everything.
Checking his watch, he noticed that it was almost noon. He left the bank and entered Diagon Alley. The attack must have chased people away. At least he did not have to worry about people flocking to him. They were no doubt afraid of being hit by a stray Killing Curse.
Entering the joke shop, he smelled lunch. He didn’t have much of an appetite, but wanted to know if they found the little girl’s mother.
Ginny was waiting for him behind the counter. She was playing with some of the Muggle magic cards.
When Harry walked in, she got up and gave him a warm comforting hug and kiss. “I am happy to see you’re all right. I should have done that before, but seeing that little girl was so upsetting. She’s home now. The Aurors were able to locate her mother.” Ginny stopped talking to look him in the eye before continuing. “How are you feeling? You’re not blaming yourself are you?”
“He died because he was standing next to me. Yes! I am feeling guilty. Ginny, that could have been you.”
“I know being at your side will be dangerous. I am willing to accept that. What I won’t accept is you trying to shove me away to keep me safe. I want you to love me and to be with me! Please, don’t tell me to go away for my protection.”
“I won’t, but I can’t help but want to protect you. Is that okay with you?” He did not wait for a response. He just wrapped both arms around her and kissed her.
“Excuse me! Lunch is ready.” Mr. Weasley was standing in the doorway to the back room. “We need to get moving if we are going to make the presentation.”
Ginny pulled from Harry’s hug and faced her father. “Daddy we need to talk. I mean you, me, and Harry need to talk.”
“Must it be now, dear? Can’t it wait until later?”
“No! We need to come to an understanding. The sooner the better, is how I look at it. I love you, Daddy; that will never change. I know that when you look at me, you see me as a little girl, and I don’t want that to change. I will always be your little girl, no matter how old I am. But, I am not a little girl anymore and I need a different type of love…”
“I know that. I know a great deal more about this than you may realize. Your mother and I are concerned that you two might rush into marriage and family too quickly.” When Mr. Weasley said this both Harry and Ginny were taken back. “We couldn’t think of a better man for you than Harry, as long as he is careful about signing autographs.” He looked at Harry and smirked. Harry’s face turned red, as he remembered the witch in the elevator.
“We are concerned about you being caught up in this whirlwind of passion that the two of you emit whenever you look at each other.” Harry and Ginny looked at each other, their faces turning bright red. “A blind man can see the excitement when you two look at each other. You aren’t seventeen and Harry is only a year older. Spend sometime together without being married. Ginny, you are too much of a free spirit to settle down at a young age and try to raise a family, Go, discover, met new challenges, after a while, you will have time to start a family. Promise your mother and me that you won’t run off and get married. Please promise me.”
Ginny and Harry stood there, taken back at what they had just heard.
“I promise, Mr. Weasley,” Harry said sheepishly.
Ginny looked at Harry and then her father. She seemed to be thinking about something before she said, “All right, I agree.”
“Good, now, why don’t the two of you come back and get a bite to eat before we go to the Ministry?”
All the Weasley’s were there sitting around several small tables that had been pulled together to make one long table. There were cucumber sandwiches and pea soup from the Leaky Cauldron, but no one was eating much. They all seemed to be preoccupied with the attack. Harry had to answer a barrage of questions about what had happened. He took a sandwich and a bowl of soup, but did not finish either one before he had to leave for the Ministry.
[ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
The entire party arrived in the Atrium at twelve-forty, and the two Aurors that were at Diagon Alley met them. They informed Harry and everyone else that they were to go to the Minister’s office first. All the recipients and their guests were to meet the Minister before going to the Wizengamot. While in the lift, the Aurors told Harry that the attacker was a cousin of the Death Eater, Runcorn.
The Minister’s office was on floor number one. Harry had been there last year when he removed Alastor Moody’s magical eye from Umbridge’s door. They were led back to the exact same area where Umbridge had her office. Neville and his Grandmother were there along with Professor McGonagall. Everyone was extremely excited about seeing each other, Neville and his Grandmother could not stop thanking Harry for suggesting this honour. While everyone was talking, Harry slipped away to look at the door that held Moody’s eye.
Kingsley had noticed Harry’s fascination with the hole in the door and walked over to talk to him. “All right there, Harry? You seem to have a great interest in this particular door. Any reason why?”
“This was Umbridge’s office. When we broke into the Ministry, I ended up here…”
“You broke into the Ministry?”
“Yes! Didn’t you know? Moody’s magical eye was planted in this door by that toad, Umbridge. I almost got us captured because I took the eye out of the door. I could not stand the thought of someone like her using it to spy on her workers. Stupid and impulsive wasn’t it?”
“Maybe it was. I would have done the same thing. Mad-Eye was the Auror that trained me.” Kingsley placed a reassuring hand on Harry’s shoulder. “It is time to go. You can reveal everything about last year. The entire Wizengamot has been screened and sworn to secrecy. Did you prepare a speech?”
“Me? No! That’s the type of thing that Hermione would do. I’ll wing it.”
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Everyone entered the Wizengamot chamber. Harry and the other recipients sat down in front by the doors, and their guests were seated in a special section. Harry stared up into the seats that held the Wizengamot. The last time he was here the seats had all been filled. now barely a third of them had memebers sitting in them.
Kingsley called the meeting to order. He introduced Neville, Professor McGonagall, Hermione, Ron, and finally Harry. He stated that these people were responsible for the downfall of the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Harry chuckled, as these wizards all seemed to jump at the sound of his name.
One wizard stood up and asked. “Why should we honour all these people, when it was Harry Potter that killed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?”
“Because, I could not have accomplished it without their help,” Harry stood up and stated this emphatically. “My friends put themselves in grave danger to help me accomplish a task given to me by Albus Dumbledore. If they had not done this Voldemort would still be alive, and I would be the one that is dead. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger accompanied me and helped all of last year in accomplishing my tasks. Neville Longbottom led a resistance at Hogwarts that allowed me to enter there and complete my mission, and, unknown to him, he also destroyed a piece of Voldemort. Professor McGonagall organized the defense of Hogwarts and the evacuation of its underage students. She did this so that I could accomplish my mission, even though, I would not tell her exactly what I was doing. If any of these people had not done these things I honestly believe that I would have failed and Voldemort would still be alive.”
“Are you sure that he is dead?” We thought that before,” shouted another wizard.
“Albus Dumbledore knew that he wasn’t dead. I should say completely dead. Professor Dumbledore knew that Tom Riddle had made Horcruxes.” A murmur went through the chamber when Harry mentioned Horcruxes, and many of the members turned pale. “My mission was to find these Horcruxes and destroy them, until I did, Tom Riddle could not be killed. Yes! His name was actually Tom Marvolo Riddle, not Lord Voldemort.”
Harry started to tell the assembly about how they had theorized that there were six Horcruxes when actually there were seven. He told about each one; how it was discovered and then destroyed. He looked over at the Weasleys when he talked about the diary. He explained about Dumbledore destroying the ring and their pursuit of the locket the night he died.
He even told about Kreacher’s and Regulus Black’s involvement. He talked about taking the locket from Umbridge and Ron destroying it. Breaking into Gringotts and taking Hufflepuff’s cup.
He described all the help that Neville had given him to hunt for the Diadem of Ravenclaw, and for calling in Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix. He told about Ron and Hermione entering the Chamber of Secrets to get basilisk’s fangs and destroying the cup. This was all accomplished because Professor McGonagall believed in him and organized the castle to fight against the Death Eaters so he could locate the Diadem and destroy it.
He talked about the death of Severus Snape. Even as he died, he gave Harry the knowledge to defeat Tom Riddle, but Harry never told the reason why he became a spy.
When Harry talked about the last unknown Horcrux and the fact he would have to die by Tom Riddle’s hand, a gasp seemed to circulate the room. He described going into the forest and being hit with the Avada Kedavra curse. He told them about how the blood that Riddle had taken from him three years earlier kept him from being “completely” dead, and allowed him to come back.
Harry stopped talking to get control of his emotions as he thought of his parents, Remus, and Sirius. He did not reveal anything about the Resurrection Stone or the Deathly Hallows. Looking over at the Weasley’s, he saw Mrs. Weasley and Ginny’s faces were shiny with tears. He stated that his sacrifice had weakened Riddle’s powers, as his mother’s sacrifice had protected him.
He described Neville opposing Riddle and eventually destroying the last Horcrux when he killed Nagini with Godric Gryffindor’s sword. Only after all these tasks were accomplished could Tom Riddle be killed, and fortunately, he was.
Harry had finished talking about the destruction of Riddle when the memory of the dead wizard and his daughter came back to him.
“Tom Riddle or Lord Voldemort is dead. Evil is not. Today someone tried to kill me. They missed and killed an innocent man, left his little girl without a father. No one person can conquer evil. It takes everyone working together, just like at Hogwarts where all the Houses joined to protect the school.
" When I say everyone, I am also including Giants, Half-Giants, Werewolves, House-Elves, and Centaurs. They were there at Hogwarts fighting evil along side of purebloods, mixed-bloods, and Muggle-borns. Unless we put aside our prejudices, evil will rise again. So please, I implore you as leaders of the magical community to work together with branches of our society to make it a better place to live. Thank you for listening.”
Harry stopped talking, and the room erupted with thunderous applause. The wizards and witches started coming down out of their seats to shake everybody’s hands. It was almost a repeat of when Harry killed Riddle. Everyone wanted to talk to and congratulate not only Harry, but also all the other recipients. Neville looked very surprised. Seven years ago, he seemed to be destined for failure. Harry looked at Ron wondering if he will ever feel overshadowed by his family again. Hermione looked like she was talking everybody’s ears off. She was probably discussing House-Elf rights.
He noticed that Ginny and her father were gone. He was a little disappointed, because he wanted to introduce her as his only girlfriend, contrary to what Rita Skeeter has been writing in the Daily Prophet.
Finally, after an hour of handshakes and questions by Department of Mysteries employee’s about his beyond life experience, Kingsley announced that the recipients and their families were going to leave. He led them back to his office.
Mr. Weasley and Ginny were waiting for them. They had left the chamber and went shopping at Diagon Alley. They wanted to pick up a few things for the trip. Everyone, except Hermione and Ron, treated Harry differently. They were so moved by his story about walking to his death.
Kingsley handed them all official scrolls stating that they have received an Order of Merlin, First Class.
Mr. Weasley stated that they should get going because there will be plenty to do tonight to get ready for their big trip tomorrow. “I went to the Department of International Magical Cooperation and picked up our information and aireoplane tickets. We leave the Burrow tomorrow at noon so we can be at Heathrow to board our aireoplane at four-thirty. The Ministry will be sending cars to pick us up. So we must get home and pack.” Mr. Weasley announced to everyone while walking to the lift.
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The next several hours were controlled mayhem as everyone was rushing around trying to find things to take. The trio were finished in less than an hour, since they never unpacked their rucksacks from the past year. They went outside to get away from all the noise and confusion.
Sitting on the grass in the orchard, Ron and Harry were chatting about the witches and wizards at the Wizengamot. Hermione had her nose in a book that Mr. Weasley had bought her The Magical History of Australia.
“I thought you weren’t supposed to tell anyone about the Horcruxes,” inquired Ron.
“I think that was to keep Riddle from realizing we were hunting them. He didn’t invent them. The Horcrux has been around for years, so I imagine other witches and wizards knew about them,” Harry replied.
“You seemed to leave some things out of your stories today, Harry,” said Hermione, without looking up from the book. “I didn’t hear a single word about the Deathly Hallows.”
“Well. I thought it best not to mention them. The same with Professor Snape being in love with my mother is something that they did not need to know. I just wanted everyone to know what the four of you had done.”
“I agree that was a very wise thing to do,” replied Hermione. She closed her book and looked up at Ron and Harry. “I thought your ending was wonderful. How you stressed co-operation between all the factions of the magical community. Professor Dumbledore would be so proud of you.”
“Yeah, thanks for not mentioning the fact that I left the two of you out there in the woods,” Ron added sheepishly.
“We never stopped thinking of you, and you never stopped thinking of us. You weren’t really gone,” Harry reassured Ron with a smile. “Hermione, I need some advice. It’s about Ginny. She seems – a – little distant – after hearing about what we had done. I realized that she never had a chance to ask me what had happened.”
“I think hearing you had walked into those woods to die for everyone else was a pretty big shock. The fact that you died and then came back is an intense thing to comprehend. Everyone in that chamber was shocked at that revelation. Did you notice how everyone was treating you, almost with reverence? You don’t need to worry about her loving you any less,” Hermione chuckled at this last statement.
“Thanks, I wasn’t sure,” Harry said with relief.
“You thought my sister would stop loving you? It’s a good thing that we were with you, because you are really thick, mate,” laughed Ron.
Harry punched Ron’s shoulder as the other two were laughing at him. Hermione moved to kiss Ron’s shoulder and within seconds they were lying on the ground snogging. Harry quietly stood up and slowly wandered back towards the Burrow. He saw Ginny walking in the yard looking for something, and walked towards her.
“Hi. I came out here to tell the three of you that dinner is ready. Where’s Ron and Hermione?” Ginny asked quietly, still with the same uneasy, distant expression as she’d had at the Ministry.
“They’re busy, at the moment. Do you want to go with me to get them?”
“Busy? I suppose they are snogging?”
“Yeah. We had better talk loudly so they can hear us coming. Are you feeling all right? You seem – um – distant.”
“It was what you said about sacrificing yourself. You actually died?”
"Not exactly, but it was close. I still was able to return.”
“I think that I owe you a huge apology for the things I said and did yesterday.” Ginny walked into Harry’s chest and wrapped her arms around him. “I understand things better now. I don’t know if I could have made that walk.” She relaxed her grip, looked into his eyes, before tracing his scar with her left index finger. “I can’t believe that you had a piece of Voldemort’s soul in you and it never possessed you. I was possessed from a book. How could you resist it?”
“I am not sure how I was able to resist being possessed.” Harry returned her loving gaze. “There are many things I could tell you about my walk, but the most important was thinking about never being with you again. Just before I – he cursed me. I thought about holding you and kissing you.”
“You know, I really want to snog you senseless. However, dinners ready and I’m rather peckish.” She smiled at him and touched his lips with a finger. “I think I’ll have these for dessert. Now, where is my brother? I want to spoil his fun for once,” said Ginny with an evil smile.
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