Downstairs in the Gryffindor common room, Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger were talking on the couch. The room was hardly crowded as most people who had slept in the dorms had quickly passed through and made their way to the Great Hall. Ron Weasley was one of these people, but he had so graciously returned with food for the girls.
“Pork chops anyone?” he managed to get out between bites.
“You couldn’t manage to get anything lighter? We haven’t had breakfast yet!” Hermione looked up to see her boyfriend struggling to carry not only the pork chops, but potatoes and various amounts of pudding.
“Well, we slept through breakfast, it’s past noon,” Ron snapped back. “But seriously, try these pork chops. The House Elves have really out done themselves.”
Ginny couldn’t tell if her brother was trying to get on Hermione’s nerves or if he was really that dull, but at that moment she didn’t care. “Shut it you two! Did you hear that? I think I heard a door open upstairs,” Ginny said rather excitedly.
They all turned to look at the stairs but no one appeared. “Ginny just relax. There’s no way he’ll wake up until at least a few more hours. You should’ve seen how tired he looked yesterday. I mean he collapsed while we were walking out of Dumbledore’s-well I guess its McGonagall’s now- her office,” Hermione said, a hint of exhaustion herself in her words.
Ginny gave a big sigh and then proceeded to pace around the room, showing no signs of being able to relax. “I’m just worried, okay. I mean what am I supposed to do when Harry wakes up? Should I try to talk to him or let him come to me? Yell at him or comfort him? It’s all just too confusing, I mean he hurt me, a lot, but I can’t imagine not being with him, especially after yesterday.”
Before she could continue, the entrance to the common room swung open and in walked Bill and Percy Weasley. Both of them looked emotionally drained, but Percy especially seemed to be taking Fred’s death hard. Everyone looked like they were running on little sleep, but looking at him, it would surprise no one to learn that Percy had spent his night going after Death Eaters who fled after Voldemort’s death, hoping to find one in particular, Augustus Rookwood.
Bill, seeing his sister excessively circle around the room, walked over to Ginny and guided her down to the nearest chair. “Dad’s back from the Ministry, and they said the Burrow is safe enough for us to go home,” Bill said, his voice sounding very hoarse.
“What about Hogwarts? It’s amazing it’s still standing. We want to help with the clean up and repair work. Right you guys?” Hermione said with a glance toward Ginny and Ron. Ginny managed a nod of her head, but Ron was too busy eating the girls’ shares of pudding to say anything. A punch on the arm by Hermione fixed that.
“Course I do,” Ron managed to spit out. His skill with talking with food in his mouth couldn’t be matched by anyone.
“We’ll all help out, but right now Professor McGonagall wants anybody who has a home that’s safe to go there so she can use Hogwarts for families that have been uprooted by the war,” Bill explained. “We can always come back in a couple of days after the damage is fully assessed.”
“What about Harry? We can’t leave without him,” Ginny said forcefully.
Bill, having no knowledge of Harry’s dating his sister last year, was taken aback by her tone. Why would she think that he would forget about Harry and leave him here? Everyone was going to be emotionally high-strung for the time being, so Bill just attributed it to that. Ginny was just having trouble dealing with the loss of Fred, and she did think Harry had died yesterday. Come to think of it, the scream she let out when she saw Hagrid holding Harry’s body was the worst thing Bill had ever heard. Maybe there was something else going on here.
“Uh, well, yea of course we’re not leaving Harry behind. Where is he anyway?” Bill asked.
“He’s just upstairs. I’ll go get him and tell him to get ready to go.” Ginny bolted up the stairs before Hermione could stop her. She was taking two or three steps at a time and wound up tripping and falling rather hard on her face. She looked back to see what she tripped over, but saw nothing.
Ginny reached the seventh year boys’ dorm room only to find it Harry-less. She returned to the common room with a very confused expression and announced, “Guys, Harry’s not up there.
Harry opened the door to his dorm room and it let out the tiniest little squeak. Harry froze, hoping that nobody heard it, but he heard Ginny shout below for everyone to be quiet. Great, Harry thought, they’re probably all down there waiting for me. Not wanting to deal with a large group just yet, Harry threw the Invisibility Cloak over himself and slowly made his way down the stairs.
He paused about halfway when he heard Ginny mention his name. He knew it. He had hurt her, hurt her a lot. Then, he heard Bill and Percy walk in and Harry let out a sigh of relief when he heard the Burrow was still standing strong. He was worried the Death Eaters would have burnt it to the ground, as they had shown they were capable of a lot more than that.
Before Harry could react, Ginny came sprinting up the stairs right at him. He tried to move to the side, but Ginny stepped on his foot. Fortunately, she didn’t take anytime to investigate and kept going. Harry used the noise caused by Ginny’s thunderous steps to descend the rest of the stairs into the common room. He hoped someone would come along and open the portrait hole for him so he needn’t alarm anyone when they saw it opening of its own accord.
Just then, George Weasley came plodding through the portrait hole. Harry grimaced upon seeing him and a fresh wave of guilt came crashing down on him. Hermione couldn’t see Harry’s face, but she could see the identical look that Percy made upon seeing his brother. She was going to make a point of making Percy talk about what was bothering him so much later.
Harry didn’t wait to see what Fred had to say and dipped out of Gryffindor tower. He made his way down to the Great Hall where he saw Kingsley Shacklebolt talking with a few of his aurors. He wasn’t going to eavesdrop, but then he heard his name come up.
“Yes sir, either she or Harry would most likely be the prime targets for the remaining Death Eaters. Lestrange definitely wants revenge for his wife’s death.”
Kingsley sighed deeply. “I’ll have to tell Arthur about the extra precautions that will be needed. If you’ll excuse me, thank you.”
Harry struggled to remain on his feet upon hearing this. Of course, it wouldn’t be over, now Mrs. Weasley was a target for these mad men. Well, Harry wasn’t going to let them get anywhere near her. He may not be able to do anything for those he had already lost, but he sure as hell could protect everyone who survived the battle.
He chanced a look into the Great Hall before continuing on his way to Hagrid’s. There were many families inside, some here to retrieve bodies of loved ones, others because they had no place else to go. Harry tried to avoid looking at the grieving families, but then he saw something that really made his blood boil. Congregated at the front of the room were various members of the press and unfortunately, Rita Skeeter, looking just as hideous as ever in Harry’s opinion. It took all of his self-control not to throw off his cloak and hex her right out of the castle. He would have to tell Hermione about her presence there later.
Harry arrived at Hagrid’s hut only to find it empty. He decided to send his patronus to let Hagrid know he wanted to talk. Harry sent the great silver stag bounding off and let himself inside the hut.
“Ginny, he has to be up there. He’s probably in the bathroom or you couldn’t see because he was under the covers or-,” Hermione said, but she sounded very alarmed at what Ginny had said.
“I checked all over the room Hermione. He is not up there,” Ginny said very slowly, clearly annoyed that Hermione could suggest she would say something like that without being 100% sure.
“I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just we would’ve seen him if he had come down and-,” Hermione started to say.
“He has an Invisibility Cloak, right?” Bill interjected.
“Yes but he wouldn’t sneak out of here without telling us. He knows that would just worry us. There’s still Death Eaters out there, he would know not to go sneaking off somewhere.” Hermione saw Ginny’s eyes widen at the mention of Death Eaters and she wished she didn’t say that last part.
Ron, trying to make sure nobody got too worked up over this, jumped in and said, “I’m sure he just went to get something to eat. I mean the last thing we all had to eat was Aberforth’s sandwiches and those were barely edible. If I hadn’t been starving at the time-.”
“Yeah, Ron’s right,” Bill interrupted, knowing how long his brother can go on about food. “There’s no need to jump to any conclusions, the castle is one of the safest places in all of England.”
“That didn’t stop them yesterday. I’m going to go tell Professor McGonagall that Harry’s missing and that there might be intruders in the castle, since nobody else seems to realize what’s going on,” Ginny said. She then proceeded to storm out of the common room with Bill trying to catch up with her to try to get her to calm down.
George, who had watched the exchange without saying anything, suggested this, “Why don’t you check the map?”
“What map?” Ron questioned, but then Hermione butted in. “Of course, the map, that’s brilliant. If he’s still on the grounds we’ll be able to find him with the map. Do you know where it is Ron?”
“Uh, well, Harry had it so-,” Ron started, but George quickly interrupted. “Well, if Harry has the map then we can find him. You see when we (everyone in the room knew whom he meant by we) had the map we put a locator spell on it so whoever didn’t have the map could still find the other. Pass me that paper. Here we go, invenio map
.” A small portion of Hogwarts splashed onto the parchment, showing where Harry was. “There you go, he’s at Hagrid’s.”
“That’s amazing George, really. Alright, I’ll go and talk to him. No, Ron,” Hermione said as Ron was getting up to follow her, “why don’t you stay here and talk with your brothers.” Her tone made it clear this wasn’t a suggestion. They all needed to talk about what was eating them up inside and the sooner the better. “We’ll all meet up in the Great Hall later.” And with that Hermione exited the common room.
Hagrid poured his visitor some tea and sat down. It had been five minutes since Harry sent his patronus and he used this time to try and clean the cabin. It was obvious that Hagrid hadn’t lived there for months, and Harry felt slightly guilty as it was partly his fault, although he hadn’t told Hagrid to throw a “Support Harry Potter” party.
Hagrid didn’t even come home last night, as he had been up with a few teachers and members of the Order who had been “celebrating” pretty hard. He was still pretty pissed this morning. “’Arry, ‘Arry. You know they’re all talking about you, every last one of ‘em. Ole Sluggy starts up with some nonsense ‘bout giving you the key to bringing down You-Know-Who, but I know it wa’ some bloody rubbish. The man drinks too much. So I come in with how we fought him off las’ July, ya remember? Oh, that got lots of cheers of ‘em, had people buying me my drinks so I’d keep tellin’ ‘em stories ‘bout ya. A lot of them prob’ly thought I was blowing smoke, but I tell ya everything I told ‘em ‘bout ya was true. Yup I even told ‘em ‘bout how you rescued Buckbeak, and oh boy that got ‘em…”
Harry was beginning to zone out at this point. He suddenly realized it must have taken no effort at all for Quirrell to get Hagrid to tell him about Fluffy back in first year. Still, he needed to talk to Hagrid about a very serious matter so he needed him to stop his drunken rambling. “Hagrid, yeah, yeah, listen I need to talk about something, so how about you drink some of your tea here.”
“Course, course, ‘Arry,” Hagrid said, still with a slight slur. He took a sip of tea and then looked right at Harry for the first time since they had been sitting there. Harry recognized the look Hagrid was giving him. It looked very similar to the look Ron had when he was staring at the Elder Wand, and it unnerved him. Harry definitely didn’t want to be drawing looks like that for the rest of his life. “Whaddya want to talk about?”
“Well,” Harry tried to start, but he really wasn’t sure what he wanted to say. “I just wanted to say I was sorry for, you know, what happened yesterday in, uh, well, the forest. And I wanted to let you know I never meant to put you through anything like that, and I can only imagine what it must have been like to, well, you know and then to have to carry… Anyway, I’m sorry Hagrid.” Harry hadn’t been able to look up during his speech, but now he chanced a glance up. Hagrid no longer looked like he was in awe of him. His look was that of a friend, a friend that was amused by him.
“Harry, you don’t need to apologize for saving all of our hides,” Hagrid said with a chuckle. “Nah, I reckon I should be sayin’ sorry to you for doubting ya yesterday. Should’ve known better than to think you’d jus’ give yourself up like that, I know ya better than that I do. I just got one question for ya Harry. How’d you do it?”
Harry hesitated for a second. If he told him, then there was a very good possibility that the whole world would know later that night. But Hagrid was more than worthy of his trust, though, he’d proven that countless times. Harry remembered back to that night in July that Hagrid was talking about. Fleur had been so quick to suggest that Hagrid had let the plan to move Harry slip, but he hadn’t. It turned out it was a rather complex plan set forth by his former headmaster who was acting through his supposed murderer. Anyways, Hagrid could definitely be trusted.
“Well, Hagrid, do you remember that night in the graveyard, that night Voldemort returned?”
“Course, I’ll tell ya I’ve never seen Dumbledore so upset. And then that bloody excuse for a minister refused to believe it and made matters worse by making his witness into an empty sack.”
“Well, Voldemort used my blood to return that night as he thought it would make him stronger. What he really did was by taking my blood, he took my mother’s protection inside of himself, which meant that while he lived, I couldn’t die.”
“That Dumbledore, I’ll tell ya, the greatest man I ever knew. He was amazin’ ‘e really was. I bet you two had this plan worked out for ages, and all the while You-Know-Who thought he was the invincible one,” Hagrid said, beaming at his reminiscence of the man.
“First, Hagrid, please don’t call him You-Know-Who. He’s dead now, and he’s never coming back. And secondly, well, I didn’t actually, I mean Dumbledore never explained to me the blood thing while he was alive,” Harry sputtered out the last part, looking up at Hagrid to try and see if the implications of what he had said had resonated with him.
“Oh, ‘Arry, you don’t mean, but you wouldn’t,” Hagrid was struggling to find his voice. “Why’d ya do it ‘Arry?” he finally asked, his voice somewhere between shock and horror.
“That’s really the complicated part Hagrid, and I promise I’ll tell you later, but I’d rather only have to tell it once and there’s a few people that I want to tell and it’d be better if Hermione and Ron were here with me to try and explain.”
“I understand its okay.” Hagrid sighed heavily. “Ya know I remember your 11th birthday. Ya were so skinny, still are I s’pose, but those muggles were starving yeh, ‘Arry. I just think what wouldda happened to if I hadn’t, never mind, its jus’ real awful what they were doing to ya.” Hagrid was very close to blubbering like a whale so Harry had moved over to console him, as best he could anyway. It was very hard to comfort someone twice your size. He reached into his pocket to see if he could find something Hagrid could wipe his nose with, but instead he found a picture. It was the picture of Teddy Lupin that Remus had shown him before the battle.
A few minutes later Harry emerged from the cabin. Hagrid had assured him that he’d be fine, but Harry had made sure that there was no firewhiskey in his home just to be safe. Hagrid told him that he had seen Mrs. Tonks and Teddy earlier, and that sent him off into another tangent about how that bastard Voldemort (yes he actually said the name) had orphaned another child and he would rightfully be cursed in the after life.
Hagrid was right though, Harry thought. Teddy, like himself, was now an orphan all because of a crazy man. Well, Teddy won’t have to be treated like I was, Harry thought. He would see to it that that boy never would have to live with people who acted like his very existence was the ultimate burden on their lives.
With that, Harry set off to meet his godson for the very first time.