Chapter 2 : Greeting the grieving
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Harry thought of all the people he was going to meet today, people who had lost a loved one because he, Harry Potter, wasted the better part of a year finishing the tasks Dumbledore had given him. He had met enough people who were hurt yesterday and still thanked him, some who were seriously hurt, some who had lost someone, and still they thanked him. It did not feel right. Harry knew he was going to face more of the same today, people grieving because Harry had succeeded only after all the carnage around him, and who would still thank him. It just didn’t feel right.
Harry was still thinking about it as he arose to go to the bathroom, shaved, and got himself dressed, taking care to drink more of the potion that Fleur had gotten for him for his injuries. He still hurt, but nowhere near as bad as he had the night before. Professor McGonagall had provided clean dress robe for them all, and Harry put his on before going back to the bed.
Sitting down on the bed Harry watched Ginny sleep, marveling that she was there. Ginny, one thing in his life that seemed to be going just right. Leaning forward he gently kissed her and slowly she awakened. It took a moment before she was fully awake, but even before Harry was certain she was Ginny grabbed him, pulling him into a passionate kiss. When she let Harry go she grinned saying “Hi, love. I get to spend all day with you!”
Harry found himself grinning as broadly as she was. “I’d like to spend a little time with you before we have to be in public again.” he said as he stroked her hair, looking tentatively at the scar revealed too plainly by her skimpy nightwear. “Ginny, remember when Bill was hurt, and Fleur said that it just proved that her Bill was a brave man, a hero?”
Ginny nodded, wondering where he could be going with this.
“Well she’s right,” he went on. “That’s what scars like that do, and I am so proud of you! That scar is going to be a beauty mark to me, and remind me how incredibility brave you are.”’
Ginny looked down at the scar. She was not sure how she felt about it. She certainly did not think of it as a beauty mark. She’d been so worried that Harry would think it ugly, that to hear him call it a beauty mark certainly helped, at least a little. She supposed it was just part of her now, something she would have to learn to accept. Then again, if Her Harry could be proud of it and of her then she could be proud of it too. She smiled tentatively, looking up into his eyes seeking proof in their depths that what he said was true. There was no deceit there, and her smile became more certain.
Reacting to her smile, Harry leaned in to kiss her again. Ginny leaned into him eagerly for a swift kiss before pushing him gently away. Harry’s brow quirked up.
“Sorry. Bathroom,” Ginny murmured as she got out of bed.
“Ah,” Harry responded, remembering yesterday afternoon when Harry had to go to the loo after Ginny’s ‘never leave me’ remark.
“I’ll be right back,” she promised.
“I’ll wait,” he assured her.
Again Ginny flashed him a brilliant grin before disappearing behind the door to the loo. Thinking of Harry, she showered, washed her hair and got dressed as quickly as she could, taking just a moment to use the ‘touch of lust” spell again.
‘There’s nothing wrong with that’, she thought to herself as she finished, though she had used it yesterday and probably didn’t really need to use it again. ‘After all Harry walked hand in hand with me yesterday … I probably was a little sharp with Cho, but no one else wants Harry like I do. I really shouldn’t use it two days in a row though … at least not until we’re married, although I only used one flick today’ and she promised herself to skip the spell tomorrow. Feeling a little righteous for the restraint she’d sort of shown and promised herself for the future, Ginny hurried back to Harry’s side a mere quarter of an hour later.
Harry and Ginny walked down to the common room together, hand in hand, and Ginny found she was still worried. Harry did not seem bothered by the scars, but they still bothered her. Also, there was that talking to her father had given Harry the evening before. Ginny frowned at the thought. Was her father trying to keep them apart? She didn’t really know what he’d said to Harry, but rather than giving herself one more thing to worry about, she decided to ask.
“Harry, what did my father say to you last night” she began as they walked down the stairs. “Did he get angry with you? Are you in trouble because of me?”
“Not yet.” Harry said. “Your father told me that hot blooded red heads could not always be trusted to tell a bloke when to stop, so I had better be careful. He wanted me to tell you to take your time, and he wanted me to take my time. He did not seem upset that we were together, in fact he seemed pleased.”
Ginny answered with that blazing look Harry had always loved “It’s going to be hard to wait, Harry. I think I’ve spent half my life dreaming about you … waiting for you, and now you’re here. Having you being here with me is just like a fairy tale. You’ve killed Voldemort. You’ve done what you had to do and you’ve saved me too. You’re ready for me and I’m ready for you. Dad’s just going to have to get used to it,” she said firmly. “Besides, I’m just so tired of waiting, always waiting, always being the youngest, being the girl who could not do what the boys could, being protected by my mother and father and brothers.”
Harry paused, a little alarmed by Ginny’s eagerness. “Ginny, slow down,” he urged.
“Why?” she demanded.
“Because I love you,” Harry said, then he began to explained. “You know yesterday, when I saw you in the great hall, I wanted nothing more than to talk to you, to rush over and take you in my arms. I was so tired. I knew I needed to talk to Ron and Hermione, and to take care of some things, but I wanted to be with you! But then I thought I’d would have days and weeks and maybe, I hoped years and years, a lifetime, to talk to you.”
Harry gazed into Ginny's eyes, earnestly willing her to understand what he was saying before they began walking again. “You’re 16. You have a year of school left. I promised your father that I would take it slow and I will.”
But Ginny was having none of it. “Slow down! You’ll be old enough eventually! Take your time! I want to be old enough now!” wailed Ginny, a little louder and faster than before. ‘Poor Little Ginny Weasley! I’ll show them!’ she thought. ‘Everybody wants me to wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait until some other witch comes and steals Harry away. I won’t!’
Harry’s response was to stop and hold her to him, embracing her as he wished he had the day before, but the moment was lost. Before they had a chance to kiss or hold onto each other for more than a few seconds, about a dozen owls came for Harry, landing on their shoulders or on the furniture or on the stair rails as they stood in the doorway to the common room.
As quickly as he could, Harry began to open the messages they carried. Two were from the Ministry asking if certain people were death eaters or other problem people. Another two were from companies asking if Harry would use and endorse their products. Four were from grieving families and four were from witches that wanted to meet Harry. A couple of them even had the nerve to mention “poor little Ginny Weasley” and tried to show how much better they were. Harry sat down to answer the first two straight away, also sending brief notes to the two companies that he was too busy to talk to them right now. After showing the notes to Ginny, they decided together that they would work on the other letters sometime during the day, and if possible compose a response to the thank you letters and to the other letters, but for now it was time to properly start their day. People were beginning to stir and if felt like they should be getting downstairs.
Ginny read the letters to Harry from the four witches with concern, becoming both angrier and more worried with each one she read. This was exactly why that article in the Prophet terrified her. Harry Potter was her dream and her boyfriend, and she was not going to lose him. Not now, not after all this pain and suffering. She did not care what she had to do, she wanted to seal the deal, get him to propose or arrange a wedding or something so she had her Happily Ever After ending, and the sooner the better. Maybe it was good she used the ‘touch of lust’ spell this morning after all, Ginny thought.
Tucking the remaining letters away to deal with later, Harry led Ginny down to the great hall. Although there was still a lot of debris around, and they could still smell dust in the air, Hogwarts did not have quite the smell of death that it had yesterday.
Fawkes was in the great hall, and flew from his perch on the back of the headmaster’s chair over to Harry. “Are you mine now?” asked Harry, and Fawkes indicated with a nod of his head that he was. If Harry had had any doubt before, Fawkes agreement confirmed it. The scarlet bird had attached himself to him. Fawkes promptly flew away to perch regally within sight of Harry on the closest pillar. Fawkes may have been Harry’s, but Harry thought he was hardly a cuddly pet.
Across the room they spotted Molly, working on a parchment, and began working their way in her direction. “Good morning, Ginny, Harry,” she said looking up as they joined her, nodding toward the sheaves of parchment in her hands. “I am going over a list of the dead and injured. I’m also going over a list of who is coming today. The Ministry has the same list, and when one of us updates the list the changes show up on the other list as well. They are beginning to release names and are making arrangements for everybody that needs to come to Hogwarts to floo from the Ministry. They began contacting people yesterday, and I expect a lot of them will be coming today. The last I heard the Ministry is scheduling family groups and individuals to arrive every 20 minutes or so, starting at 8:00 AM. You had better get something to eat and get ready.”
By this time Arthur and Percy, Ron and Hermione had come down stairs, and Harry and Ginny ate breakfast with Molly the rest of the family. Charlie and George, along with Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson, had joined them for breakfast. Molly went over the list with Harry and Ginny. It was re-arranging itself so the first arrivals were at the top of the list, with a check box help track when the person or people on the list had arrived. Then Molly took them to the two rooms where the bodies were laid out. It took them a while to look at each body, and see where on the list that person was. They would need to know that to direct the family members to them later.
When they got to Fred Molly said “Fred We…” and paused a moment, looked at Harry and Ginny with tears in her eyes, then composed herself and said quickly “Fred Weasley.” Stepping to the next body she said “Bill Bayleaf” and again to the next body “Grace Appledorn, Bill and Grace were found together.” Molly continued to move down the list, but having to list Fred as one of the dead was obviously hard on all of them.
There was a third room with bodies of death eaters and other beings that fought on the other side, about twenty five bodies were there. Molly said there had been many more, but some of the creatures were piled into a bonfire last night and burned, and some death eaters had escaped with bodies of relatives. Only people who they thought might have relatives to claim them were in that room, and the relatives of the attackers were not going to be allowed to come until the relatives of the defenders of Hogwarts had a chance to pick up their dead.
As they finished viewing the bodies Molly said “If anyone asks if they can help, have them show people to the proper room and have them offer to stay with the people picking up bodies. You will need to recruit some help. I will stay with you for the first hour, and then I am going to need to get to bed.”
She’d gone off to speak to George and Charlie when Ron and Hermione joined them at the side of the room.
“What are all those?” Hermione asked looking at the parchments both Ginny and Harry had bulging from their robes.
“Letters,” Ginny told her and she showed Hermione the stack of letters she was holding for Harry. “It’s going to take us a while to answer these.”
Ron and Harry were talking to each other, and Ginny whispered to Hermione “Almost half of them are love letters. What am I going to do with them? Other letters are thank you letters and other things. It’s a mess.”
Hermione looked in her bag and brought out a file folder with places for the various types of letters. They had just finished trying to organize them to deal with as they had time when another two owls came for Harry; another thank you and another from a witch wanting Harry. This one had a photograph in it.
Harry was briefly reading through each of the letters, except the ones from witches offering themselves to him. Harry looked up at his friends in dismay. “How am I going to answer these letters from all these witches trying to throw themselves at me. You’re my girlfriend, Ginny. I don’t want to even look at these” Harry said as he thrust them into her hands.
“I’ll take care of them” offered Ginny, trying to say it sweetly but not succeeding. What she wanted to say to these witches is not publishable. Those letters were her worst nightmare, right there in her hands.
“I’ll answer the letters that only I can, and together we can answer the thank you letters” said Harry. “I’m glad you’re taking care of the others.”
‘Me too’, Ginny thought though she refrained from saying it. Maybe Harry wouldn’t want her to if he thought she might be rude, and she did want to … at least she certainly didn’t want Harry reading and trying to answer any of them.
A little before 8:00 AM Minerva McGonagall stood on the platform at the front of the great hall and called for everyone’s attention.
“I have some announcements to share with you all before we begin our day. “If you need to know where any dead or wounded are please see Harry Potter or Molly Weasley. They will have a list. If you need a place to sleep see Molly or Hermione Grainger for Gryffindor or Luna Lovegood for Ravenclaw. We are also trying to convert the charms and transfiguration classrooms into temporary housing for everyone else, and Molly and Hermione and Luna know about that as well. We hope to have at least some of the Huffelpuff rooms habitable within the week. Whoever got mad and destroyed the Slytherin dormitory did an excellent job; getting the water out and cleaning it up will take weeks and it is not a high priority right now.
If you want to help clean and fix the castle see me. I am in charge unless I am sleeping; in that case Molly Weasley is going to be helping manage an overnight shift.”
With the coordinators of the recovery efforts duly identified, McGonagall stepped down and everyone present went back to work again with whatever task they had been assigned.
Arthur, Percy and Bill were among a handful of people who took the floo to the Ministry just before 8:00 AM, making it apparent to anyone who watched that Arthur was responsible for opening the floo so it could be used. He used a security spell to release the lock that had been put in place to protect the castle from further invasion during the night, but now with the schedule of visitors expected to arrive, he unlocked the channel between Hogwarts and the Ministry and was the first to step through it, ensuring it was ready for use once again.
Promptly at 8:00 AM a witch who was employed by the ministry appeared to claim her husband, a wizard who had also been a ministry employee, and Harry stood ready to greet her.
“I am Harry Potter and this it Ginny ….” he began, but before he could finish the witch interrupted him saying, “Thank you for finally finishing off he-who-must-not-be-named. We are so grateful at the ministry for finally bringing our nightmare to an end!”
“Call him Tom Riddle” Harry said firmly. “Don’t be afraid to use his name. I am so sorry we could not get rid of Riddle sooner, and sorry for your loss.”
The witch nodded at his words, clearly struggling to control her emotions with some success.
Taking in the situation, Molly came up and saying “I will show you to your husband’s body.” And she led the witch away.
Harry turned to Ginny and said, “Well, we got through the first one.” Ginny looked at her mother leading the other woman away and squeezed Harry’s hand.
The next person through was a witch working at the ministry, and again her husband was also a ministry employee. She came through crying loudly, obviously in the late stages of pregnancy. Harry started to say “I’m Harry …” but she started to sob loudly and Ginny rushed up to hold her.
She finally said “thank you Harry, can I see Robert now” and Ginny led her to the room where her husband was.
Ginny had to spend some time holding the pregnant witch and consoling her, something she had never done before. Ginny got back just before the next people were due, shaking her head and crying, and said “Their first child and she will never know her father. So sad!” She hugged Harry like her life depended on them merging, muttering “I should be stronger than this.” She looked up at Harryas she wiped her tears away and said “Harry, this is going to be hard!”
Harry felt empty inside, and very much responsible for the tragedy playing out around them. “It’s all my fault!” he told her. “It’s all my fault! If I could just have gotten rid of Riddle sooner. I must have done something wrong last year. Too much of the time we just waited, trying to think what to do next.”
Harry’s self-recrimination was just what Ginny needed to get out of her funk. “Harry Potter” she said, looking at him. “You’re the one who got rid of Riddle. You’re responsible for ending all this horrible death and torture and … all this … you won! It will get better!”
“I guess I feel a little better” said Harry. “It’s hard to be too sad with you next to me.”
“Good!” said Ginny, and she really meant it.
Harry told Ginny “We have a big group coming next. George Appledorn with sons Tom, Dick and Harry, to get his wife Grace, and Rosemary Bayleaf with her daughters Cinnamon, Corriander and Cardamon to get her husband Bill. There is a note on here that they were staying together, and may need housing. Is Professor McGonagall here?”
Harry saw the headmistress coming into the room, and saw the group starting to come out of the floo. He motioned to the headmistress to come over, and she did.
Harry said “I’m Harry Potter and this is Ginny. So sorry for your loses.”
The man of the group said “I am George Appledorn. I am a forensic accountant and had a mostly Muggle practice, so my wife was the one to come here. The Bayleaf’s were staying with us because Bill was a Muggle born ministry official that really got on the bad side of the death eaters. They destroyed his house. He decided that he did not have a life anyway if he-who-may-not-be-named was not defeated. Somehow our house also came under attack just at the end, as we were leaving, so both families may need a place to stay for a few days.” By this time all the people were there, George, mid-thirties, sons Tom, 10, Dick, 8 and Harry, 6, and Rosemary, about the same age, with daughters Cinnamon 10, Corriander 8 and Cardamon, 5. George looked like he was in command of the situation, but the other 7 people looked a little stunned.
Addressing George Harry said “Call him Tom Riddle, George, Rosemary. He is dead! Gone!”
George answered “Thank you for killing him, Harry. The whole Wizarding world owes you a great debt of gratitude.”
Harry answered back “Lots of people worked, suffered, and way too many died to get to this day. I certainly had lots of help. Ginny’s can show you to your spouses. Ms. McGonagall can help you with temporary housing.”
McGonagall added “When they are ready to work on housing have George and Rosemary get Hermione. One of them should stay with Ron, and Hermione and I will work on finding more rooms.”
The first witch came back with her husband’s body and left through the floo. Then a ministry wizard came through to get his wife. He also thanked Harry. Molly and Minerva McGonagall both briefly stopped to tell Harry that he was going to have to say “you’re welcome” and acknowledge the thanks.
About 9:15 a name suddenly appeared just before the already scheduled 9:20 group, Violet Brown. “I wonder if that’s Lavender’s mother” asked Ginny.
When the witch appeared there was little doubt that it was Lavender Brown’s mother. She looked at Harry and said “You must be Harry Potter.” Harry nodded. “She then said “Thank you for bringing this horrible war to an end, for getting rid of Voldemort.”
“How is Lavender?” asked Harry.
Violet started to tear up and said “Not good. Not good at all. They can not even move her to St. Mungo’s. It broke my heart when I had to leave last night, but there were things her father and I had to do. Her father is on the continent looking for more medical help. I need to go up and see her. She screams a little less when I hold her hand.” Violet left for the infirmary, and from the way she walked you could almost see the heaviness in her heart.
At 10:00 AM, along with their scheduled arrival, the Daily Prophet appeared.
That was all they had time for before the next arrival appeared in the floo. Harry had barely directed their 10:20 arrival to the proper room when ten minutes later, the floo glowed green with an unannounced arrival. Rita Skeeter stepped out wearing a smug expression and looking exceedingly pleased with herself.
Ginny looked at Harry with one of the furious angry looks that caused all the males in the family to quake saying in a quiet but very angry voice “Did you see the lies she wrote about you, about us, in the paper yesterday?!”
Harry pointed his wand at Rita and told Ginny, “Take her wand away right now!” Rita took one look at Harry’s angry expression and surrendered her wand. “Who is your editor?” asked Harry. “Tom Timmerman” said Rita.
Harry silently expelled a Patronus and told it, “Get Tom Timmerman right away! Let him know Harry Potter is mad!” Harry sat there fuming for a full five minutes before a harried looking middle age man came through the floo.
To the editor Harry said, very quietly but in a tone of voice that said he was deadly serious, “Never never send this insect, this sorry excuse for a reporter, to cover me or any person at this school! Get her out of here and keep her away!”
It was not like Harry to lose his temper like this, and everyone was amazed. Only Harry knew that what he said was mild compared to what would happen if Ginny really got wound up.
Tom answered him saying “We do need the situation here reported, and we do need you to talk to reporters, Harry.”
Harry replied “I know, and I will do my best to help. My problem is with this one reporter who I want out of here!”
Tom Timmerman told Rita, “Go back to the office and wait for another assignment.” After she left he turned to Harry and said, “I was going to send two reporters, and Rita volunteered. After Rita left one of the people in the office said to me, ‘You sent Rita? Harry and his friends have run into her before. She would not have been my first choice.’ Obviously I made a mistake. I will send two different reporters, and keep her as far away from you as possible.
Harry, thank you for all you have done. Thank you for defeating Voldemort. Thank you for allowing us to print the truth again.”
Harry responded, “Call him Tom Riddle. That’s who he was. Tom Marvolo Riddle or Tom Riddle who called himself Lord Voldemort. I will work with your reporters.”
“Can I have Rita’s wand?” asked Tom, and after Ginny gave it to him he took the floo to return to his office. Within minutes there were two new reporters coming through the floo, a middle age man and a young girl. The middle age man walked purposefully into the castle. The young girl timidly introduced herself as Cindy Base. She then went a little ways into the room and looked around.
George Appledorn came back and told Harry and Ginny that the children were going to be staying in the great hall for now, as their rooms were not ready yet. Since they had nowhere else they could go to, he and Rosemary were willing to help.
Rosemary commandeered two of the tables and set up an area where the children could play. She had some books and toys, and the six children tried to entertain themselves.
Harry greeted all the people who came through the floo. Harry was so used to dealing with difficult situations that this was just another very difficult thing to get through. It was hard not to blame himself for every death, but everyone he apologized to insisted that he should be thanked, that it was not his fault. Harry was embarrassed if he started so sob or tear up, but each dead person, each story, was a tragedy. Harry found out that a lot of the people coming wanted to talk to him, either before or right after they saw their loved ones, and he spent a lot of time at the floo talking to families and friends of those who had died. Most of the people talking to Harry were very grateful that he would take the time to talk to them. Harry had a hard time not feeling guilty as person after person thanked him.
Ginny had a much harder time handling what was going on, and in between people coming through the floo, if she was not busy with people coming to pick up bodies she was holding on to Harry. Harry found that he had to comfort Ginny as well as the people who were coming through the floo. Ginny really appreciated Harry comforting her, at the same time mumbling to herself, but loud enough for Harry to hear, that “I should not be this soft. I should be stronger than this.” Meanwhile any time Harry voiced blaming himself for all the tragedy Ginny kept reminding him that he had won, they had won, and that the deaths were not his fault.
Mid-afternoon Harry noticed Ginny and Rosemary walking into the hall with two of the saddest and most confused looking little girls Harry though he had seen since the heart of the battle. Rosemary led them over to the tables where the other children were, and sat talking to them. By this time there were about a dozen children at the tables, from several displaced families. Ginny came back to Harry, looked at him with horror in her eyes, and said “Oh Harry.” She just lost her composure totally and held on to him, shook herself, took a couple of deep breaths while looking at the little girls, and said “I did not think it could get any worse. They are in Gryffindor, Mary Lou Dippet, 4th year, and Ann Marie Dippet, 1st year. Their brother Dan was in 6th year with Colin Creevey, and Colin and Dan were best friends.”
“Were?” said Harry.
“Oh Harry it’s even worse than that” said Ginny, her eyes showing a certain amount of horror. “Their mother was a Muggle and she was killed two years ago, and the family lost everything. What little they owned their father carried in a backpack, including a tent they stayed in while on the run. Not only was Dan killed in the battle but their father was as well. The bodies are right next to Dennis, and the girls have been sitting there crying not knowing what to do until right now. Rosemary and I tried to talk to them, but it has taken this long for them to even be willing to talk.”
“We have to do something” said Harry. “Somebody has to do something. They cannot be left to sit there by their brother and father’s bodies for days or weeks.”
“Somebody has to do something” Ginny agreed.
About 4:30 Cho Chang came through the floo, and was met by Luna. Luna explained that she had to go to St. Mungo’s because of her father, and Cho was taking over for her, working on housing and making other arrangements for those in Ravenclaw . Luna did not leave until almost 8:00 PM, but that was the last they saw of Luna for many weeks.
Having Cho around made Ginny nervous. Ginny knew it should not make her nervous, but she couldn’t help it. She was jealous by nature and all the letters from the other witches weren’t helping.
About 5:00 an unpleasant looking witch came through the floo dragging her husband behind her. She saw Harry and started to yell, “Why did you start all this war, Potter. Here you are untouched and my only son, only child is dead. You sit there smug greeting everybody and we all suffer. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”
Harry sat there dumbfounded, but Ginny wound up, “HOW DARE YOU TALK TO HARRY POTTER LIKE THAT! HE LOST BOTH HIS PARENTS, HIS GODFATHER AND HIS BEST FRIENDS WERE KILLED IN FRONT OF HIM. HE HAS SUFFERED MORE LOOSES THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE. HE HAD TO LET VOLDEMORT KILL HIM TO BRING THIS WAR TO AND END. He actually had to walk to his death, with no expectation of living. AND YOU DARE TO TELL HIM HE HAS NOT SUFFERED!”
The witch looked at Ginny, standing there with her hands on her hips, started to say something and decided better, and walked away. Rosemary and George were both waiting to take families to see their dead. Rosemary was taking most of the women, but she indicated that George was going to take this one, and he agreed.
Late in the day, about 7:00 PM, Bill Weasley appeared and asked Harry “Do you still have the wand you used to defeat Voldemort and the wand he was using?”
Harry felt down to where he had Draco’s wand. “I have the wand I used, the one that belonged to Draco Malfoy. I know where the other wand is.”
Bill said “Please get it, Harry. It could be very important.”
Harry did not know what to do. He did not want to go back and open Dumbledore’s tomb. At the same time Bill said it was important. He wondered if Fawkes could get the wand; phoenixes are magical birds.
Harry called Fawkes and stroking him, spoke to him in a quiet voice saying “I need you to do something for me Fawkes. Can you?” The bird dipped his head in answer. “Get me Dumbledore’s wand” Harry told him. Fawkes squawked once, then the Phoenix flew out of the room through the gaps in the walls near the magical ceiling. He appeared quicker than Harry could have imagined, carrying the wand.
Harry held the wand out for Bill’s inspection but the older wizard pushed it away.
“Keep it with you Harry … it and the other one together,” Bill admonished. Since neither is your primary wand, do not use them. They may be very important!”
Harry and Ginny were standing side by side with their arms around each other holding hands as he said this. Bill looked at them appraisingly and asked “How serious are you two?”
Ginny piped right up “More serious than mom or dad want me to be! They keep telling me to slow down! I love Harry, big brother, like you love Fleur.”
Bill turned to Harry and looking right at him asked “Is this what you feel, Harry?”
Looking directly into Bill’s eyes Harry answered back “Bill, I do not want to rush anything, but there is no doubt in my mind that I want to spend the rest of my life with Ginny. What is going on? I expect there is a reason for these questions.”
Bill looked at both and said “Harry, Ginny, give me a couple more days to work on this. All I can say is that it may be very important that Harry beat Riddle in a single duel. Is Fleur still here?”
“As far as we know” said Harry while looking at Ginny, who nodded yes.
“Good,” Bill answered. “I need to take her home. She needs to rest,” and he disappeared going to find her. It wasn’t long before he was back with Fleur at his side.
“I weel be back tomorrow,” Fleur promised as she stepped into the floo with her husband.
Harry and Ginny said good bye and watched, feeling exhausted.
It was finally 8:00 PM and the floo was magically closed. They were emotionally drained, feeling at last that it was the end of the day, and yet the owls had continued to come, reminding them of the letters waiting to be answered. By now there were over 30 of them. Harry had already answered the few important ones, and Ginny had written to tell a few more companies that Harry was too busy. The thank you letters were piling up, as were the letters from witches who wanted Harry, sorting themselves out into the magical file Hermione had given them. Ginny felt panicky when she saw how many letters there were from witches wanting to meet Harry. She grabbed them from their place in the file as the two sat down at one of the long tables nearest the fireplace they had been manning and turned their attention to answering a few more of the letters.
Before long, Molly, Ron and Hermione joined them.
“We had three families come for their dead,” Hermione told them as they sat down. “That was hard. The rest of the day was not so bad, although a lot of people seem to have lost their homes or be scared to go home and housing is a real problem. Half of the time I was trying to find housing and other people were helping Ron. How was your day?”
Ginny looked up from the letter under her hand she was answering. “Well, we had about 20 grieving families, one bitch of a witch, and Rita Skeeter. I yelled at the bitch and Harry was so mad at Rita that he called the editor of the Prophet. Lots of tears. It was really really tough.” She looked down at her hands. “I cannot believe how hard it was. I don’t think it can get much worse. I should be tougher than this.” As she was saying this she was just successful in holding back tears.
Harry did not say anything, but he turned in his seat and gave Ginny a big hug. Ginny hugged Harry back like her life depended on being close to him, just hugged him with her face buried in his chest for the next 10 minutes.
Arthur came in through the floo, saying “the floo is closed for the evening. How is everybody?”
“Tough day, Dad” said Ginny. She got up from where she was seating, went over and hugged her dad, and this time she was not quite successful in stopping the tears. “Daddy, all those people. It was so hard. Harry did a great job, and thank you I am so glad I am with him, but all the people.” She pulled herself together and went back to holding Harry’s hand.
“I didn’t think it was going to be easy, meeting all the people who lost someone in the battle”said Arthur as he joined the rest of them at the table. “We are getting lots of compliments on how well you and Harry are doing. Harry, people came back just so grateful that you were there to meet them. The people who were at the ministry floo told me that over and over again that the grieving families said, ‘I can’t believe that Harry Potter himself was there to greet us.’ I know it is hard duty, but it is making a lot of difference to a lot of people.”
“I ought to be meeting all these people,” Harry answered. “It’s my fault that we could not get rid of Riddle sooner. If we had done it sooner all these people would not have died.”
“No one blames you, Harry,” Arthur assured him. “If you had not done what you did Voldemort and his supporters would still be killing people.”
“Let’s eat” said Ron, totally breaking the mood of the people at the table. Hermione just rolled her eyes, but as they sat there, food appeared on the table. Everyone was hungrier than they could remember being the night before and they shared a meal talking amongst themselves. Harry and Ginny noticed that Angelina Johnson, who had come to fight with the other DA members, was down the length of the table a bit, sitting down next to George.
They sat a little while with the family after they finished, but it wasn’t long before Ginny pulled Harry aside and together they went up to the dorm room.
“I do not care what anybody says, I need you to hold me,” she told him when they got there.
“I can do that,” Harry said, and he took off his shoes and robe, leaving his jeans and undershirt on and got into bed. Ginny took off her robe. Underneath, she wore only shorts and a skimpy top on.
Harry sat in bed with his back to the headboard watching her, expecting an embrace. He wasn’t disappointed, but it wasn’t long before Ginny pulled slightly away and began tugging on Harry’s shirt. Harry’s eyes widened slightly, remembering their conversation that morning, but he didn’t object when Ginny pulled off his shirt over his head. Instead of embracing him again however, she sat back looking at all his various wounds, before reaching for the bottle of lotion and began applying it to the largest of his fresh scars. They seemed to be healing and Ginny openly admired Harry’s chest; there was the starting of some chest hair and it was reasonably muscular, although he was very thin.
Harry was a little person, small boned, but she thought he was very good looking. His features were so fine he was, she thought, almost pretty. He had such kind eyes, such beautiful green eyes, and he loved people so much. He was going to be easy to love.
Setting the lotion aside, she put her head on his chest and thought ‘I’m living my dream. Maybe we will live Happily Ever After.’ Then she thought of Fred and all the other people who had died, and her “Happily Ever After” never had so much pain and death in it. She began to gently cry.
Harry held Ginny in his arms as she cried. He didn’t even have to ask why she was crying. There had been so much to cry about on that day … so much he didn’t want to think about any more. Instead he focused his attention on the girl he loved.
He could see both of the scars Ginny had gained at some point during the war, but despite the scars he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Maybe it was the spell that Ginny had used on her hair, although Ginny really was pretty. Harry was more aware than ever of her shape as he held her. He could see enough bust to really turn him on, plus a very narrow waist, ample shapely hips. He never thought his love for Ginny was mostly a physical thing, but lying on his chest as she was, she was so sexy, so perfectly proportioned, so appealing. Then she started to cry slightly louder than before.
“What’s wrong Gin?” he asked wondering which of the horrible things they’d been dealing with that day was getting to her in that way.
Ginny looked up at him and said, “When I was little I had Muggle fairy tales as well as wizard ones. I had the tale of Harry Potter, I had Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and other tales, used books that my dad found and fixed up for me. I combined them together and told my mother, ‘When Harry Potter defeats Lord Voldemort for good then we are going to get married and live Happily Ever After!’ I had this dream that after the battle you would rush over and pick me up, and somehow the next day I would be in a beautiful white wedding dress walking down the aisle to the man of my dreams.
At the end of the duel, when Voldemort’s wand flew into your hand, it was like the climax of a fairy tale for me. That part, the wand flying into your hand, was better than any dream. Except that it wasn’t really. Mom was a mess, people were frantic taking care of the sick and wounded. Lots of people were dead; I never imagined all that death. Hogwarts was almost destroyed.”
Ginny sat up and looked at the scar on her chest. “Hogwarts wasn’t the only thing damaged. I always dreamed of myself as the beautiful princess, my hero’s dream, and here I am with this ugly scar. Harry, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH IT HURT! When they put a wand on you and do the Cruciatus Curse IT HURTS and it keeps on hurting and I’m ugly and it’ll never go away. Harry I’M SO SCARED! There’s not going to be any Happily Ever After.” At this Ginny started to sob.
Harry looked at Ginny. “Ginny” he said. “I’ve been looking at you, at your body, and you look to me like the most beautiful woman in the world. You’re so sexy, so beautiful, so perfect in every way. I always thought you were cute, but I never realize how beautiful you were until the last couple of days. I have scars too. I still say that scar” and Harry gently touched the start of the scar “is a beauty mark, and it shows me that my lovely Ginny is also my brave and strong and courageous Ginny. I love you scars and all, and just ask that you love me with all my scars too.”
Ginny lay her head back on Harry’s chest and tried to control her emotions. By the time she had calmed down she was fast asleep.
Harry thought that things could not get any more confusing. What else could happen? He was exhausted. Shortly after Ginny fell asleep Harry fell asleep too, sitting up in bed with Ginny's head in his lap.
It was about 11:PM when Arthur got up to the dorm room that evening. He found Ron and Hermione were in adjoining beds just like they were the night before. Harry and Ginny were still on top of the covers on the one bed. He gently woke them up and got them into their own beds, still partially clothed.
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