After they had finished talking to Dumbledore’s portrait, Harry, Ron and Hermione started to make their way back down to the Great Hall. The castle walls were crumbling everywhere, and dust filled the air. Paintings were hanging empty, their usual inhabitants had obviously gone into hiding during the fight, or been eager to find out what was happening, and gone to visit other portraits, closer to the battle. They got about half way to their destination before a problem occurred. The staircase in front of them had large chunks of it missing, making it impossible to walk down.
“I hope they can repair all damage” said Harry. He was beginning to feel guilty about all the destruction and pain he had caused. He understood that he hadn’t caused all the harm physically, but still blamed himself anyway. If he hadn’t come to Hogwarts, neither would the fight.
“Of course they will!” said Hermione reassuringly, “We do have magic after all.” And to prove her point she waved her wand in front of her and whispered something too low for the others to hear. The rubble surrounding the stairs began to reform. Catching on, Harry and Ron also cast reparo, and soon the damage was repaired. After the three friends had made their way to the bottom of the newly repaired staircase, Hermione spoke again. “I just wonder if people will feel the same if they come back here.”
Harry agreed with her, he had once thought of Hogwarts as his first real home, but now all he could remember were the people who had died there trying to help him. His mind returned to all the bodies he had seen, Fred, Tonks and Lupin, Colin, and many others. Thinking about Lupin made memories of Sirius re-emerge, which made him think of Teddy, he was also a Godfather to a child whose parents had died in a war. He silently vowed to be as good a godfather to Teddy, as Sirius had been to him. His thoughts were then interrupted by Ron speaking.
“I don’t think anyone will ever feel the same about this place anymore” said Ron. His eyes were still red from crying. “But we have to try and remember all the good things that happened here, not just the bad memories.” Harry agreed with Ron, but thought it might take a while before he was able to do this. For him the pain and guilt were too strong. He couldn’t remember the good times; he had too many bad memories of being at the castle, which were blocking out all the good ones.
After walking in silence for a long while, they finally arrived outside the doors to the Great Hall. “You guys go ahead, I’ll come inside soon” Harry said nervously. He wasn’t sure the Weasleys would want him to interrupt their grieving. Unfortunately for him, Ron and Hermione knew him too well. They went back and stood either side of him.
“They want to see you,” Ron said compassionately, “You’re part of the family. They don’t blame you for what happened to Fred. They know he would have fought anyway. All of them would.” He put a hand on Harry’s shoulder.
Before Harry could speak, Hermione interrupted. “What you have to remember, is that they fought in the last war as well. Even though they knew it would be dangerous and that they might die. At that time, they had a young family to think about. This time around, they knew their family wanted to fight with them.”
Harry considered this for a moment before hugging his two best friends. “Thanks” was all he said before making his way through the doors, only hesitating for a split second.
“Harry! Harry!” Deafening cheers erupted as people saw Harry walking through the Hall. Ignoring all of them he headed towards the bodies of Lupin, Tonks and Fred. People tried to speak to him, or shake his hand, but he just kept walking. The Weasleys all saw him, but one look from Ron made sure he was left alone for a while. Ron went to embrace his family again, and Hermione joined him. Harry knelt between the still bodies of Lupin and Tonks. “I swear to look after Teddy for the both of you.” Tears came to his eyes, but he continued to whisper to his two friends. “I’ll make sure he feels like part of the family, something I learnt from the two of you. He’ll grow up to learn what great people you were, and to understand why you had to die. I wish that you hadn’t come, but I do understand why you did, and he’ll understand as well.” Tears were still threatening to fall.
A hand on his shoulder alerted him that someone else was there. Looking up he saw a sea of red heads, all with swollen and puffy red eyes. Mr Weasley’s hand was the one on Harry’s shoulder, “You won’t have to do that alone. We have a habit of accepting people into our family.” He finished with a smile. Harry was then pulled into a bone crushing hug by Mrs Weasley. Pulling away from him, she put her hands on his shoulders, looked him in the eyes then said, “You know that we don’t blame you Harry, Fred would have fought anyway, and there was nothing you could do to save him.”
The tears that were threatening to fall while he spoke to Lupin and Tonks now fell down his face freely. He was hugged by all the Weasleys in turn, all except Percy, who seemed nervous and embarrassed to be in Harry’s presence, George, who was still cradling Fred’s body, and Ginny, who was helping Madame Pomfrey to tend to the injured. He could see that she was busy, and was also nervous about the reception he would receive from her, so Harry decided to go and speak to George instead.
“George...” Harry had no idea what to say. Although he had lost people he considered to be his family, he knew his pain was nothing compared too George’s, who had lost a part of himself when Fred had died. “I’m so sorry” he finished his sentence lamely.