Without argument Mrs Weasley had insisted on Harry returning to the Burrow the following day. He had been keen to assist with the restoration of Hogwarts - the castle was in ruins from the raging battle that had occurred. But Professor McGonagall was having none of it.
"You've done so much more than your call of duty Potter, let us do something for you."
All the argument in him lost Harry allowed himself to be returned to the comfort and warmth of the Burrow. However as he stepped over the threshold there was coldness in the air. It was as if even though the war was over and he had won, there were still wounds to be healed and some that were beyond all hope and repair. Matters were not helped later on that evening when Mrs Weasley came across one of the Twin's fake wands lying on the table. She stood for a moment smiling and then burst into tears. Harry couldn't watch. It was too painful.
Retiring to Ron's bedroom where he was sleeping, he passed Ginny's room on the first landing. He paused for a moment then knocked quietly on her door. There was no reply. She must be sleeping, he thought. He hadn't seen her properly since the afternoon in the hospital wing and was desperately in need to talk to her, to share everything. He felt he owed her that much after a year of silence. Trudging up the stairs he passed George, sitting alone in his room with his heads in his hands. Beside him was a box of skiving snack-boxes and Peruvian instant darkness powder. A pang of guilt hit Harry hard in the stomach as he saw the twin-less man in so much pain. His shoulders were slightly shaking but there was no sound of crying. What was a home of so much joy and happiness had descended into the lair of unbearable pain, hopelessness and loss.
He was back in the tent. That cold, damp canvas house who’s few millimeters were all that separated them from the impending evil of the world. There was a storm brewing outside and the tent shook with winds buffering it from every side. They whistled and moaned like wolves hunting prey.
He was holding a single candle who's flickering flame was illuminating the marauder's map. Hands numb with the cold, he whispered the incantation and opened it. Ron's snores and Hermione's light breathing floated over to him. Searching for Ginny had now become his only solace in watch duty. He found her black dot to be shining beacon, a sign of hope, that all was not yet lost. However upon locating her dorm he saw that her dot was nowhere to be seen. Panic flooded all over him like an ice cold wave. His heart racing he frantically checked the other dorms, the corridors, the great hall, even the grounds but she had vanished. Heart pounding against his chest his breath came in short gasps as he searched and searched. He did not notice Hermione stir and walk over.
"Harry, what's wrong?"
Harry looked up at her desperately.
"I've lost her!"
"Ginny, she's gone!"
"Don't be silly Harry-"
"Look! I can't find her, she's gone she's-"
"She's probably gone for a late night wander or something-" but Hermione's voice was sounding ever more doubtful.
"I CAN'T LOOSE HER! I CAN'T!" Harry was screaming now and his screams came bubbling up over the surface until he realised he was back in Ron's bedroom, his bed sheets covered in cold sweat and a very worried looking Ron by his side.
"Alright mate, you're just having a nightmare..."
Harry attempted to calm his breathing and Ron stood up awkwardly.
"I'll go ask Mum for some dreamless sleep potion."
He left the room and Harry let out a breath. Of all the moments in the tent to relive this one had to be one of the worst. It was the he noticed he was no longer alone in Ron's bedroom. A silhouette had entered through the open door.
She came into the light and Harry saw concern etched across her face, it was clear she’d heard the commotion.
"Harry, you can't keep forgetting your potion, these nightmares-"
"Give it a rest Hermione!"
Harry suddenly felt irritated, he did not want lectured on what was not good for him, he knew perfectly well his nightmares were a problem but in all truthfulness in amongst the painful dreams there were the occasional joyful ones; Ones that he would never reveal, not even to his closest friends. And these dreams in themselves made the unpleasant ones worth putting up with.
Hermione looked stung but regained her composure.
"Has Ron gone to get the potion?"
"Yes." Harry muttered.
"Good. You've got to get your rest tonight Harry, we’ll all need our strength for tomorrow..." She paused.
Harry looked back at her. He knew what she was thinking. The next morning was to be Fred Weasley's funeral; an occasion that had been hanging over the whole family like a murky raincloud. And tomorrow, the heavens were going to open.
“Harry, don’t be ridiculous, you are family!” Mr Weasley insisted.
Harry murmured something about not wanting to intrude on their grief but gladly took the seat Mr Weasley offered him in the relatives’ row. Ron was beside him, shuffling his feet and avoiding his gaze. Harry could tell he did not want to be seen in this state.
“We are gathered here today in memory of the late Fred Weasley…”
The old wizard was speaking in a monotonous voice, which seemed so inappropriate to the occasion. Harry’s eyes wandered along the row he was sat in. Mr and Mrs Weasley were hand in hand, Mrs Weasley quietly crying whilst Mr Weasley had but a single tear rolling down his cheek. Percy was sitting with an expression that mirrored being knocked over the head. He was pale but not as pale as George; His eyes were sunken with dark shadows that told of a sleepless night of grief. At the end of the row sat Ginny. She had been adamant that she wanted to attend the funeral, despite Mrs Weasley enforcing Madame Pomfrey’s instructions of bed rest. Although pale Harry noticed she was not tearful. Even though this was one of the many things he admired about her, in this situation it just felt wrong. This was a time to be sad, a time to grieve. He knew she was keeping strong for her family but it pained him that she felt she had to.
“Master Weasley was a kind and joyful young man who will be sadly missed by all his family and friends…”
Harry wished he would stop talking. This not what Fred would have wanted; a dull man reading a dull eulogy while everyone he loved sat dressed in black, crying hopelessly into their tear soaked handkerchiefs. But before he could say anything Ginny had stood up and was making her way to the front. A stunned silence had descended as she exchanged a quiet whisper with the elderly wizard. He nodded and spoke.
“Miss Ginevra Weasley, sister of the lately departed would like to share a few words.”
Ginny nodded her thanks; the wizard bowed and took a seat. Everyone now looked up with new anticipation at the lone figure of Ginny stood beside Fred’s body. She took a deep breath and steadied herself, but her voice still wobbled as she began to speak.
“My brother Fred-“ she began. “My dear stupid older brother. He was always the practical joker. I don’t think I have ever been teased so much by one person and yet still loved them to pieces by the end of it.” She paused and took another breath, her voice becoming stronger.
“Fred taught me that laughter gets you through the tough times, that everyone needs laughter in their lives and that being sad and gloomy gets you nowhere. We need to remember that especially at a time like this. I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that Fred would not have wanted us to be mourning his death, rather celebrating his life.”
Ginny reached inside her pocket and pulled out a single firework that she proceeded to ignite with the tip of her wand.
“For Fred.” She said and released the firework. A dazzling light display began; the crowds of black mourners were suddenly on their feet and cheering, some dancing with the fireworks some with tears of happiness running down their faces. Stories of Fred’s antics floated over the air. Harry found himself grinning for the first time in what felt like a year. His eyes found Ginny’s and he gave her a little nod. She smiled back, but Harry couldn’t help notice it was rather unnatural.
As the funeral crowd departed, George handed out a firework for them each to keep in remembrance of Fred.
“He always did have an explosive persona!” Said Aunt Muriel as she took one. “Well done Ginevra.” She added with a wink as she passed.
Feeling exhausted but also strangely lighter than before the Weasleys’ returned to the Burrow.
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