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Chapter 2 : Awakenings
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In the bed to his immediate right, partially obscured by a pillow he had mashed against his face, could be seen the pale freckled face and untidy red hair of Ronald Weasley. Mouth agape with a trickle of drool in the corner he was clearly in a heavy doze. On his left was the beautiful smiling face and bushy brown hair of Hermione Ganger. She lay on her back facing straight towards the ceiling wearing a tight lipped expression of boredom. No doubt her active mind did not appreciate being put out of commission for so long.
Both of Harry’s companions were in similarly enchanted sleeps. The trio had been given this space as their own private recuperation room. They who had done so much, hidden for so long, and ultimately brought about the downfall of Lord Voldemort were honored above all the other heroes of the war. Though young in years they had displayed extraordinary courage in the face of dangers many adult wizards would still never dream of. Now protected by the walls of Hogwarts, and the watchful eye and sharp tongue of Minerva McGonagall, they were finally able to rest.
It was not until hours later as the sun had begun its descent behind the mountains on this third day after Voldemort’s defeat that Harry stirred in his bed. He rolled over slowly his brain unable to catch up to his body. At first, he couldn't comprehend where he was. It felt like heaven; warm and soft, enveloping him in comfort. He couldn’t remember feeling so well rested in his life. He never wanted to open his eyes again. As the potion wore off however, he regained his bearings and the memories came flooding back. He remembered where he was: Hogwarts. That’s where it had all started and that’s where it had ended. He realized he was in a bed and that it had been months since he’d been in a proper one. The details of the battle came rushing back to him: the horcruxes, the Hallows, the fighting, Snape’s memories, Voldemort’s face, the bodies, all of the bodies.
His head began to hurt, a dull pressure behind his temples, and he blinked his eyes. Even the dim evening light stung, he could not see. He fumbled for his glasses on the bedside table, found them and placed them on his face. Sitting up he squinted around; though the light was still hindering him he clearly made out the figures of Ron and Hermione in the beds to either side of him. He smiled broadly to know that they were still there with him. Then the guilt he felt about what he had put them through came back. Ron had lost a brother; Hermione had banished her parents to Australia. Their loyalty to him was incomprehensible; he could not have survived without them. Yet he couldn't help but wish that they hadn't gotten involved.
Ron rolled over to face him and blinked open his eyes. “Wha- wuz goin on? ‘Arry?” Harry beamed back at him. Ron had never been a morning person. “Where are we?” He mumbled eyes still blinking against the sun.
“Home.” Harry replied.
Comprehension dawning on Ron’s face he sat bolt upright and beamed back at Harry. “Where’s Hermione?” his face looked slightly worried.
“Still asleep.” Harry gestured over his shoulder.
“Oh,” Ron said more quietly but with relief. “I’m starving,” he added.
“Glad to see that I came at least slightly before food on your list of priorities.” Hermione’s voice came with a yawn over Harry’s shoulder. Whirling around Harry saw her stretching her arms up over her head arching her back, eyes still shut tight. “Will one of you draw those blinds for goodness sake?”
Ron leaped from his bed searching wildly for his wand. Unable to find it he crossed to the window and pulled the curtains by hand. Looking down at his side table Harry too noticed that his wand was nowhere to be seen. He leaned over the edge of the bed and checked the floor but it was not there.
“Where have our wands gone?” He wondered out loud feeling nervous and vulnerable without it.
“I have them here Harry.” Professor McGonagall had appeared at the door to the dormitories holding three wands in her left hand and her own aloft in her right. The expression on her face was not stern as they were accustomed to seeing but one of deep admiration; like a very proud parent. Ron, realizing his lack of clothing, scampered back under the covers of his bed his face burning. Professor McGonagall actually chuckled at his behavior. “Who do you think it was who placed you in that bed Mr. Weasley?”
Harry noticed that he too was wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts and his face burned a bit thinking of the elderly witch undressing them. Hermione had at least been given a T-shirt and shorts by the look of it.
McGonagall strode across the room and handed each of them their wands in turn. Then she conjured a plate of sandwiches and a pitcher of water. “I want you three to eat up; you have been asleep nearly three days. I will wait to inform your family of your awakening to give you a bit of time to eat.” She left the room again but before closing the door she added, “Oh, and please do not leave this room. I have worked very hard to convince many people that you are vacationing abroad.” She smiled again and closed the door quietly.
Ron dove greedily at the plate of sandwiches and immediately folded an entire one into his mouth. Barely able to chew he attempted to speak but all they could make out was muffled grunts.
“Honestly Ron, after all we’ve been through your going to die by choking on a sandwich?” Miraculously Ron gave a gigantic swallow and the entire sandwich slid down his throat. “Disgusting.” breathed Hermione as she grabbed a sandwich for herself.
Harry couldn’t help but smile at his two best friends. It was as if they were 13 again, bickering over trivial everyday things, their biggest worries being end of term exams and quidditch matches. Could his life really be back to normal? It was almost too much for Harry to comprehend; Voldemort was gone, he had fulfilled his destiny. What was he supposed to do now?
“Haf a San-wic Arry.” Ron managed to say with another half sandwich stuffed in his mouth. Harry crawled towards the end of the bed and picked a sandwich off the tray grinning goofily at his friends.
“Wuh?” Ron looked at him suspiciously. Harry and Hermione burst out laughing, Ron joined in and they laughed for minutes on end until Ron actually began to choke and Hermione, flicking her wand, made a gooey chunk of sandwich fly out of his throat splattering on the window across the room.
After they had eaten and drunk all that they could, Harry and Ron located some sweats and a t-shirt that had been laid at the end of their beds and they each lay back down and stared up at the ceiling feeling uncomfortably bloated.
“So it’s really over eh?” Ron asked the room at large.
“I guess so,” Harry replied.
“What do we do now?” Ron had a knack for bluntness that Harry greatly appreciated at this moment. The only real answer Harry had come up with in the short time since his awakening crept into his head; nothing. The thing he wanted most in the world at that moment was to have nothing to do, no mission, no puzzles to figure out; and Ginny.
He was broken out of his fantasy by Hermione, “Well,” she chimed a bit sheepishly, “we haven’t technically finished school yet. I mean, we aren’t NEWT certified are we?”
“Blimey Hermione, how can you be thinking about tests right now?” Ron sounded horrified, “You don’t think they’ll actually make us go back to school do you?”
“Well why not?” retorted Hermione, “We can’t go out and get a job without our NEWTs. And there is still so much more we can learn here!”
“It would be nice to have a normal year at Hogwarts wouldn’t it?” Harry interjected before Ron could fight back. He turned to Ron who looked like school was the last place he wanted to spend his first normal year in a long while.
“I guess so,” he sighed looking defeated. “You really don’t think they’d make an exception for us though? I mean come on, we bloody beat You Know Who!”
At that moment however they were interrupted by the sound of hurried footsteps on the stairs and as the door burst open revealing the short stout form of Mrs. Weasley Ron jumped so high he fell off the side of the bed. She rushed across the room and pulled Ron up into a gigantic hug. She was bawling and Ron, looking startled, patted her back tentatively. “I’m alright mum. We’re all alright.”
“Oh Ron!” She wailed, “I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe you’re all home safe. I can’t believe it’s all over!” She suddenly released him and rounded on Harry seizing him in just as tight of a hug; he thought his ribs might crack. Over her shoulder Harry saw Mr. Weasley standing in the doorway beaming at him. He strode across the room to Ron and embraced him, “I’m proud of you son.”
The next person who entered the room did so much more cautiously; Ginny poked her head around the door frame nervously surveying the scene within. As Mrs. Weasley released Harry and descended upon Hermione. Harry met Ginny’s eyes. She looked timidly back at him, clearly unsure of how to proceed but as she saw the smile on Harry’s face the corners of her mouth twitched slightly. Clearly encouraged by his mood she took a step forward but her path was cut off by Mr. Weasley who came over to give Harry a hug. Even as he embraced the man who had been like a surrogate father to him he couldn’t take his eyes off of her, she looked at the floor in embarrassment her cheeks crimson.
After Mr. Weasley released him, looked into his eyes and patted him on the shoulder then moved over to hug Hermione Harry began walking slowly towards Ginny; looking her in the eyes he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Thank you Ginny.” Harry said simply, “Thank you for understanding.” He pulled her into his chest and hugged her. She was sobbing weakly but hugged him back; she squeezed just as hard as her mother.
Rubbing her eyes she released him, gave a weak smile and moved across the room to hug her brother. Harry watched her back as she walked across the room. He couldn’t believe that he had survived; he had been absolutely certain for the last year that he would never have a normal life. But here he was, all the thoughts and feelings about Ginny came flooding back. Not that they had ever really gone away but he had tried to suppress them. Ideas of marriage and spending their lives together had seemed unattainable; now though, after all the things he’d been through in the last year, anything seemed possible.
Once Mrs. Weasley had made one more round of hugs to the three of them and even gave Ginny a tight hug startling her and knocking her breath away, she was able to compose herself and take a seat on the edge of Ron’s bed still looking quite flustered and antsy. Ginny sidled up next to Harry on the corner of his bed and he put his arm around her shoulder.
Ron suddenly looking aghast turned to his father, “Where’re Bill, Charlie, Percy and George?”
“They’re fine.” Mr. Weasley assured the three of them. “They all elected to leave the castle to join the hunt for stray Death Eaters. They’ll be on their way back as soon as they hear you’ve woken up.” Glancing at his wife as if not sure to divulge the next bit he tentatively began, “George was injured and has been moved to St. Mungo’s but-” Hermione gasped, “he’s going to be fine.” Mr. Weasley finished firmly. “Took a nasty bite from an acromantula in the forest and they’re flushing the venom from his system.”
Ron still looked worried, “Can we go and see him?”
“Professor McGonagall still wants you all to stay up here hidden from the public for a while. You wouldn’t believe the lengths some people have gone to trying to get to you.”
“Why?” Inquired Harry, “What do they want?” He started to worry that the quiet, normal life he so desperately sought would not come as soon as he hoped.
“Mostly to interview you, some from the Daily Prophet, others want to write books. A lot of fans, people don’t believe that you really are alive, some aren’t sure you ever existed. It’s a bit strange really. They say they need to see you as proof.”
“Still popular as ever.” Ron teased punching Harry gently on the arm and smiling.
“Oh it’s not all fun and games Ron. They have even gone as far as to say that Voldemort is behind this, that he wants everyone to think he’s dead so that he can plan an even more deadly assault.”
“What?” Ron said dumbly, “I mean- I can’t believe- after all this people are still afraid of him.” He finished looking at Harry again.
“What has been done with the body Mr. Weasley?” Harry said seriously.
“Well that’s a bit of an issue too,” Mr. Weasley looked directly at Harry with a queasy look on his face.
“What happened?” Hermione looked puzzled.
“Well, the ministry has taken the body. The unspeakables have gotten a hold of it and are doing all kinds of weird testing.”
“What?!” All three of them shouted.
“What are they doing with it? It should be destroyed!” Harry was fuming now, he did not need the ministry coming in and making some mistake again.
“Yes it worries me too,” Mr. Weasley looked deeply disturbed. “you see, besides you Harry, Voldemort is the only wizard to survive being hit by the killing curse. They want to find out what he did to his body to make himself nearly immortal. They want to find out how he managed to come back.”
“But that’s bonkers!” Ron chimed in, his mouth hanging open. “Can’t they just let it rest I mean gosh, what if they accidentally bring him back again?”
“I advised Kingsley of that very fact Ron but he seems to think we can learn something from what Voldemort did to himself. Maybe be able to stop the next dark wizard who figures it out faster.”
“Well that’s insane,” Hermione almost shouted looking at Harry as if urging him to explain.
Everyone was now looking at Harry who had been silent since Mr. Weasley had begun his explanation. He had been deep in thought but now as everyone seemed to be trying to gauge his reaction to the news he knew he had to say something.
“Well I don’t think that we need to worry about him being accidentally brought back from the dead this time. And I don’t think they will find anything useful from studying Voldemort’s body either. It was his soul that he had preserved before, his body was as human as anyone else’s once we destroyed the hor-“ he stopped. Only Ron and Hermione knew about the horcruxes still.
Mr. Weasley had a very confused look on his face now and Mrs. Weasley looked terrified. “What were you saying dear? Do you know how Voldemort did it? Is that what Dumbledore was teaching you that whole time?”
He looked to Ron and Hermione for help but neither of them offered any. He saw Ginny’s face and she looked like she couldn’t believe he would have kept something like this from her. “Yes,” he said resignedly, “to all of your questions. I do know what kept Voldemort alive and how he came back and all that. Dumbledore made me swear not to say anything, if anyone had been captured and tortured or their memories read… We just couldn’t risk it.” He was pleading now and mostly for Ginny’s sake. She still looked a bit put out but more understanding.
“But I don’t understand why it had to be you dear.” Mrs. Weasley was still protective of him even after it was over, “he could have told anyone in the Order and they would have done whatever needed to be done.”
“It seems to have worked itself out alright mum.” Ron said roughly and Molly was taken aback by her son’s tone.
“Harry do you feel you can divulge at least some of this information to me now that Voldemort is gone?” Mr. Weasley cut in, “I think if you allow me to bring it to Kingsley’s attention he can bring an end to this nonsense.”
“I think so, it should be alright now to tell you as long as it goes no further than between you and Kingsley. We don’t need anyone else catching wind of this and giving it a go.”
“Of course Harry, you have my word.”
“Ok good. Have you ever heard of a Horcrux?”
Arthur shook his head puzzled as did Molly and Ginny. They all watched Harry intently as he went on to explain everything he knew about Voldemort’s journey towards immortality. Starting all the way back at his first lesson with Dumbledore and the memories of the child Riddle through to their adventures over the last year to seek out and destroy the remaining Horcruxes. He spared no detail and it felt good to have such a secret let out a little bit. Hermione even brought down Magic Most Evile to show Mr. Wesaley more about the Horcrux concept.
After nearly an hour Harry finished. Mr. Weasley thought deeply for a minute while looking appraisingly at the cover of the horcrux book. “Well I believe you are right in thinking that there will be no means by which they may accidentally awaken Voldemort’s body again Harry. It is clear that all of his efforts were put into preserving his soul and he held no concern for his mortal form,” he began. “I also believe you were right in not telling anyone about your mission. The knowledge that you were aware of the horcruxes and actively attempting to destroy them had it made it to Voldemort’s attention any earlier could have ruined everything and prevented you from finishing the task.”
Harry nodded. “Thank you Mr. Weasley.”
“I will see to it that Kingsley is let in on enough information to convince him to end the experimentations on Voldemort’s body immediately.” He looked to his wife, “Send word when the boys arrive.” With that he turned and hurried from the room.
Ron stared at his father’s back as he left and then turned to his mother, “So we can’t go anywhere?” Ron repeated sounding very disappointed.
“Your brothers will be coming here to see you within the hour I’m sure Ron. Why don’t you three have a bit of a rest while we wait.”
“It’s still a bit daft don’t you think? We finally rid the world of You-Know-Who, the reason we were in hiding to begin with, and here we are again. Right back in hiding!”
“It is indeed Mr.Weasley.” McGonagoll had returned to the tower. “It is also however, very necessary.” McGonagall looked slightly nervous, much different than her last visit.
“Is everything alright Professor?” Harry asked.
“Oh yes Potter. It is a bit difficult though. I have brought more visitors.”
“Is it George then?” Ron sounded hopeful.
“No, I’m afraid not.” She turned her gaze away from Ron, “Ms. Granger, I have managed to locate your parents.”
Hermione’s hands flew to her mouth and she began to whimper. “Ar- Are they here?” she trembled.
“Yes, I brought them to the common room, they are waiting down there.” Hermione burst forth headed for the door but McGonagall caught hold of her. “We were able to lift the memory charm for the most part Ms. Granger however,” There was a slight pause and Hermione looked terrified. “They are still rather confused.”
“What do you mean Professor?” Harry chimed in. “They remember her don’t they?”
“Oh quite Mr. Potter, they were very eager to discover where their daughter was once the charm had been lifted.” She paused again and it was easy to tell that this was the part where things got worse. “They do not however have any recollection of the existence of magic or wizards or Hogwarts. Their memory seems to be left behind when you were only 11 my dear; before you learned of your true identity. They are quite unwilling to believe there little girl is now an 18 year old witch.”
Now Mrs. Weasley’s hands flew up to her mouth and Ginny’s jaw dropped in amazement. Hermione if possible looked even more alarmed. “Oh my goodness, it’s all my fault. I did the spell wrong and I’ve permanently damaged them.” She looked too shocked to cry and about to collapse.
Ron rushed to her side and pulled her into a comforting embrace. He looked up at McGonagall over Hermione’s mane of curls, “Isn’t there anything more you can do Professor?”
“Not by magic.” She replied with a hopeful note, “There is however the possibility that they could regain their memories through exposure and reliving certain experiences. They are by no means damaged Ms. Granger. They still have fully functioning minds and merely have a temporary amnesia so to speak.”
Hermione did not seem comforted by any of this and managed to choke out through her tears. “May I see them now Professor?”
“Certainly, I shall bring them up.” And McGonagall once again turned and left the dormitory.
“Oh my, what do I do? What should I say?” Hermione began pacing the room. “Will they even recognize me?”
Everyone else in the room was silent. No one seemed to be able to offer any advice on the situation. It was hard to imagine losing 7 years of your memory. It must be even tougher for Hermione having caused such a thing to happen to her own parents.
Muffled voices on the stairs made Hermione freeze mid pace.
“I’m sure you really must be mistaken ma’am. Our daughter is only-“ At that moment Hermione’s mother and father had entered the doorway and were silenced by the scene before them.
For what seemed like minutes everyone stood still barely daring to breathe. Hermione’s parents had immediately locked eyes with their daughter a mixture of shock and confusion etched in their features. Hermione stared back at them looking close to tears but unable to speak. The Weasley’s plus Harry were glancing back and forth nervously between the scenes. Finally, with an encouraging nudge from Ron, Hermione took a step forward.
“Hi.” She squeaked out lamely and in a much higher pitch than usual. Seemingly unable to conjure anymore words she looked up at them expectantly begging them to recognize her.
Mr. Granger opened and closed his mouth a couple times, looked over his shoulder at McGonagall and then back at Hermione. “So it’s true?” He managed to gasp. “What has happened to you Hermione? How can this be?” Hermione’s mother suddenly rushed forward to embrace her daughter and every female in the room was crying again. Ron and Harry glanced at each other uncomfortably as The Granger’s embraced sobbing audibly into each other’s shoulders. Mrs. Weasley had her hands over her mouth and tears running down her face. Ginny had Harry in a one harmed hug and a teary eyed expression looking at the scene. Even Professor McGonagall let a small tear trickle down her cheek as she watched.
Finally Mr. Granger spoke up again. “It is clearly you Hermione, there can be no mistake, but how did this happen? I don’t understand and have so many questions.”
“Perhaps a more private room is in order.” McGonagall suggested lightly to the three of them. "I could easily make up some beds in the dorm below us for you to do some catching up."
“That would be excellent professor.” Hermione spoke up unable to take her eyes off of her parent’s faces. “Come on guys, I’ll tell you everything. It may take a while though, I’m just so glad to have you back.”
“Well considering I never knew you were gone it is tough to relate however it seems as though we have a lot to hear.” As they walked toward the door held open by Professor McGonagall Hermione glanced over her shoulder to see everyone in the room give her a reassuring smile as she led her parents nervously down the stairs.
“Well,” Mrs. Weasley suddenly looked very stern again, “have you gotten enough to eat yet?”
“Yes mum, we ate before you came up.”
“Well I will go and see to having a late dinner prepared for everyone coming and make sure breakfast will be adequate as well. You three get some rest now.”
As she bustled from the room Harry was certain that she was just looking for an excuse to do something. The house elves were more than capable of handling cooking for 15 people. He wished he had something to do now as he started to really think about what Ron had said. He was a prisoner again. Maybe he should take off, go abroad and at least be able to do some sight-seeing while the initial surge of attention died off.
“Well, what the bloody hell are we suppose to do now?” Ron came in again with perfect timing to express exactly how Harry was feeling.
He looked at Ginny and could see in her eyes that she wanted to talk to him without the presence of her older brother but he knew it wouldn’t be possible with everyone else gone.
“How about a game of chess?”
“We haven’t got a set.”
“Oh, well what about exploding snap?”
“Do you have cards Gin?”
“Not on me. How about hide and seek, Ron can be it.” She gave Harry a devilish grin.
“Oh come on now Gin, can’t you keep your hands to yourself for another day or two.” Ron was scowling at her and Harry felt very uncomfortable. Ginny looked on the verge of exploding on Ron so Harry cut in.
“Why don’t we just take a nap? I’m sure we’re going to be up late once your brothers all get here and I am still surprisingly exhausted.”
Ginny and Ron agreed and Ron walked back over towards his bed. Ginny took Hermione’s old bed and they were all out in no time.
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