Chapter 26 : One Hogwarts
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I haven’t spoken to Lorcan since the incident on the top of Astronomy Tower. I know he abandoned the Guard halfway through the battle; some say because he found himself fighting Luna. Lysander’s been pacing around the common room like a man possessed since the battle; he had no idea of Lorcan’s involvement and I think the thought that he could have fought his own brother haunts him.
He’s not the only one feeling haunted. Even now, I feel a wave of nausea every time I think of the months I was in the Guard, and no amount of spying, passing on information or betraying the Guard can atone for what I did as a member. I don’t say a word about it to anyone else. They’re treating me as a hero, under the impression I joined the Guard as a spy all along, and Mum’s said or done nothing to dispel that myth. There’s not a soul in the world less deserving of the title of hero. So many times I’ve just wanted to scream at people, “You don’t know what I’ve done!” I feel like a fraud, a liar, even for accepting their praise.
Dad still doesn’t know the truth. Nor do James and Al. Mum knows she’s the only one I can talk to about any of it; all I have to do is owl her and she’ll slip into the Room of Requirement and wait for me. She actually said she was proud of me, for asking for help and going against the Guard. Even after I told her I went on Operation Crusade, even after I told her everything that happened, she’s still proud of me. I can’t comprehend that.
I make my way to the Great Hall for the assembly with Lysander, who’s sought me out a few times to talk over the last couple of days, sometimes about Lorcan. To condemn his involvement with the Guard would be hypocritical; the only difference between us is that I turned my back on it forty-eight hours before he did. But I can’t forget the way he treated me, the coldness and the anger. I saw him with Antigone Islington yesterday. I wanted to punch him in the face. I still do. Lysander told me it probably isn’t the best course of action. Wise boy, Lysander.
We take our seats as Hermione stands up the front of the Hall.
“As you will no doubt be aware,” she begins, her amplified voice ringing out, “The Ministry was invaded by a group of Dark wizards known as the Honour Guard three nights ago, and a battle ensued. Fighting to defend the Ministry was a number of students, members of the One Hogwarts student army formed during the Third Wizarding War. I’m here to honour these students, who willingly came to the Ministry to assist us in defence, showing remarkable courage and determination. Receiving the Order of Merlin, Third Class: Albus Potter, Gryffindor; Fred Weasley, Gryffindor; Dominique Weasley, Ravenclaw; Lysander Scamander, Gryffindor…”
She continues through the names of everyone in the One Hogwarts army, and they file out of their seats and onto the stage, where Hermione presents them with their medals. The Hall erupts into applause as soon as all the students are on stage, and the school stands as one to its feet. It’s amazing.
“In addition to this,” Hermione continues, “There are three other students who need to be honoured. Receiving the Order of Merlin, Second Class: For leading and training the One Hogwarts Student Army and for demonstrating consistent courage in the face of Dementors, Rose Weasley, Slytherin; Scorpius Malfoy, Slytherin.”
A stunned looking Rose and Scorpius make their way onto the stage to receive their medals before turning to the crowd, their shock gone, waving enthusiastically and raising their medals in triumph. “Victory is ours! Who’re the brave ones now? Slytherin REPRESENT!”
“Also receiving the Order of Merlin, Second Class, for infiltrating the Honour Guard and passing on valuable information to the Ministry in the face of mortal peril, Lily Potter, Gryffindor.”
Oh no, she didn’t.
But a thousand eyes are watching me and I reluctantly get to my feet, focusing on the floor as I walk between the house tables and up onto the stage. Hermione shakes my hand, slipping the medal over my head, and I turn nervously to face the rest of the school, unsure of what to do.
“YEAH!” Al yells from the Gryffindor table, breaking the silence and shaking his fist. “GRYFFINDOR represent! Can I hear some agreement?”
As the table erupts into applause and cheers, I take my opportunity to duck back into my seat, watching the scene. Hermione’s smothered Rose in a massive hug on stage, which is apparently reason enough for Professor Malfoy to mount the stage as well; Scorpius’ blond hair is all that’s visible of him as she envelops him in a bear hug.
Al claps me hard on the shoulder as I resume my place at the table. “Good to have you back.”
A/N: Well, guys...one year and twenty-six chapters later, this is the end. To all of you, whether you've just started reading or whether you've been around since the beginning, I want to thank you. I never dreamed this story would be so well recieved when I first thought of it on the eve of NaNoWriMo 2010. Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing, and I hope you've enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed writing.