Chapter 16 Disclaimer: don't own As January began to wind down, Harry and his friends continued to do their research, and carried out reconnaissance missions, keeping an eye on the Ministry entrance, Diagon Alley, and Hogsmeade. By picking up copies of the Daily Prophet whenever they could, they learned of the Muggleborn Registration Commission, a committee that was 'seeking to ascertain where self-proclaimed 'muggleborns' had stolen their magic from, since it clearly wasn't inherited.' Harry wanted to go beat something to a pulp when he read that Umbridge was heading up the committee.
He did manage to let out a bit of his frustration by transfiguring some of the practice dummies to look like their former Defense professor.
By the end of the afternoon, not one of them was left in any sort of fighting condition. It made him feel better, though only slightly. Once he had vented his frustrations, they discussed whether or not Umbridge had taken the Dark Mark yet.
Harry wouldn't put it past her, but knew that she didn't need Voldemort's mark to act the way she did. Hermione passed him the list of missing muggleborns who had failed to submit themselves for questioning; it was a list that took up several pages in the Prophet. Harry was relieved to see so many of his friends' names on the list, because that meant that they hadn't been caught yet. He recognized many of the names as belonging to students he had attended Hogwarts with.
Both Creeveys were listed, as were Dean, Justin, and Sheila, amongst others. He hoped that they were all safe, and hiding well, but knew better than to try and look for them. He would most likely just lead the war right to their doorstep. The best thing he could do for his friends was continue to search for the horcruxes, and then defeat Voldemort. Towards the end of January, Harry voiced a thought that had been niggling in the back of his mind ever since Hermione had found the story of what Luna had called the Deathly Hallows.
"I really wish we could speak with Ollivander," he commented, drawing everyone's attention away from what they had been doing going over notes, or reading through books they hoped would be of use. "Why?" Hermione asked, setting her sheaf of parchment down. Harry bit his lip.
"I just can't get the story of the Elder wand out of my head. And who better to ask about it then a wandmaker? I hope he's all right. No one has seen him since the attack on Diagon Alley last month." Ginny pursed her lips. "Perhaps we can try and figure out what happened. There might be some sort of trail leading from where he was taken." "It's too dangerous," Hermione argued.
"What if you're caught?" Harry shook his head. "I know it's dangerous, but I just feel like it could be important." No one looked too happy about the idea, but they knew not to argue when Harry had an idea like this. After all, his instincts were usually right. Harry sighed. "We'll use caution. After dark, so fewer people will be around. We'll use Dissilusionment Charms, Notice-Me-Not charms, and whatever else we can think of.
And not all of us." Several of them looked like they wanted to protest, but knew that all of them traipsing around Diagon Alley would just call attention. Harry almost smiled at seeing that knowledge in their eyes, warring with their belief that they should all go.
"Ginny, myself, and Luna. That's it." Luna smiled dreamily. "I'd love to find out more about the Deathly Hallows.
Wait until daddy hears how I've been continuing the search even with everything else going on." Harry shook his head slightly, but kept smiling. "Tomorrow night. Sound good?" "Not really," Hermione frowned. "But I know we're not going to talk you out of this, and who knows? It might actually turn up something of use." Harry smirked.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Hermione rolled her eyes. "You know that's not what I meant, Harry." Harry nodded agreeably. "Yeah. Anyway," he stood up. "It's getting late. I'm going to get some sleep. Night, everyone." They all said good night, and soon enough, everyone was heading up to get some rest.
XXX Harry, Ginny, and Luna made yet another promise to be careful, before Harry and Ginny transformed into their phoenix forms. Luna grasped onto one of Harry's tail feathers, and in a flash of flame, the trio disappeared. They arrived in a shadowed Alley near the Leaky Cauldron. Harry and Ginny transformed back, and after applying several more charms to keep themselves from being noticed by the few people still in the Alley, the trio made their way towards through the dark pub, and to the storefront that belonged to the elderly wandmaker.
Luna kept a lookout, while Harry and Ginny set up some tracking spells, trying to determine what had happened on the day the Alley had been attacked.
Harry frowned minutely, observing the spells they had cast. Beside him, Ginny was also looking frustrated. Why is it saying Ollivander is still here? she asked, annoyed. Harry pursed his lips and waved his wand again, in an intricate pattern. Gin, there's some sort of ward blocking the front, but I'm also getting a tangle of magic that seems to be some sort of protective ward coming from inside.
Can we take down the first ward? Ginny asked, glancing at Harry. Harry nodded slightly, and took his wife's hand. Together, they worked to bring down the ward blocking them from gaining access to the shop. It took a few minutes, but they were rewarded when they felt the magic around the door disappear. It was a good thing they had both excelled at Ancient Runes, since it definitely helped them in knowing how to disassemble wards without simply overpowering them, the way they had on the ward the Death Eaters had put up at Hogwarts the previous June.
That time, they had simply poured so much magic into the ward that it had just shattered. Tonight called for more delicacy, than raw power. It was for that same reason why they didn't want to just use their phoenix abilities.
Notice-Me-Not charms didn't cover everything, and they didn't want to take the chance that the glow from the phoenix abilities bringing down the wards would be seen by anyone.
Luna glanced over as the ward came down, and smiled. "Shall we go in?" Harry nodded, and the trio made their way cautiously inside. They searched through the shop for nearly an hour, before Ginny found where the second, larger concentration of magic was coming from. This would take much longer to disassemble than the ward on the door.
It required all three of them, but after an hour of hard work, the wards were gone, and in their place stood a simple wooden door. Slowly, Harry reached out and opened the door, almost surprised that he could. The door creaked open softly, and Ginny pulled him back as a dark jet of sparks flew out of the hidden room, narrowly missing him.
He looked at Ginny thankfully, before they returned their attention to the situation at hand. "Mr. Ollivander?" Harry whispered. "It's Harry Potter. Are you in there?" They waited for a moment, before a hoarse voice replied. "What colored sparks did your wand make when you bought it seven years ago?" Harry smiled slightly. "Red and gold," he said reminiscently, remembering the many wands he had tried before getting to the right one.
After another moment of silence, the door opened further, and a bony white hand peeked out, gesturing them inside. Harry looked around the room with interest, noting that it was much larger than it should be, considering the dimensions of the shop, but then, that was without factoring magic into the equation. The room housed a corner with a small cot, a kitchen of sorts, and a curtained area that Harry suspected was a bathroom.
Mr. Ollivander was watching them warily. "This is quite a surprise," he commented, his voice raw with disuse. Harry turned his attention to the wandmaker.
"I'm sorry we startled you, Mr. Ollivander. This is Ginny and Luna, though you probably remember them. We wanted to speak with you about something, and we had heard reports that you had been taken during the battle. We had hoped we would be able to find some sort of trace of where you were, and maybe rescue you. Clearly, it wasn't needed." Ollivander almost smiled. "Yes, my captors did not think they would receive much opposition from an elderly man such as myself.
I may be advanced in age, but I am quite talented with a wand, and fortunately, I still had it with me. I overpowered the Death Eaters who had me, and made my escape. I was not about to let them drag me off to endure the questioning of the Dark Lord." He gestured to the room around him.
"This was a little hidey-hole I made during the first war with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I must admit that I am impressed you were able to get through the wards." Harry nodded. "It took some effort, but we knew it would be worth it." Ollivander inclined his head. "Well, since you made the effort, I must honor your request to speak.
You claimed to wish to consult me about something. Can I offer you a seat?" He raised his wand and conjured up four chairs. They all sat down, and Harry leaned forward slightly. "Mr. Ollivander, we're doing some research, trying to end the war. We came across something that… confused us, I guess you could say." Ollivander's eyes widened.
"You know how to end the war?" Harry bit his lip. "We believe so, but that's not exactly why we're here. Have you ever heard of the Elder Wand?" Ollivander sat back, startled. "Most wandmakers believe that Elder wood is not suitable for wandmaking, because of the one wand." "So you have heard of it," Ginny said, trying not to sound too eager.
Ollivander nodded. "There have been stories over the years; the Deathstick, the Wand of Destiny. The Elder Wand. But I believe it to be the same wand, simply reappearing under different names." "Do you know where that wand is?" Harry asked, focusing intently on what Ollivander was telling him. The wandmaker shrugged. "Who can really say?" he replied evasively. "It is certainly possible to trace the wand's course through history.
There are gaps, and long ones, where it vanishes temporarily, lost or hidden, but it always resurfaces. There are characteristics unique to this wand in particular that those learned in wandlore can recognize." "Is it true that you have to kill the previous owner to possess it?" Ginny asked curiously. Ollivander let out a half smile. "Whether or not it needs to pass by murder, I do not know. The history is bloody, it is true, but that could simply be due to the fact that it is such a desirable object." "When did it last surface?" Harry asked.
"The last known duel fought over the wand occurred over a hundred years ago. More recently, there had been rumors that Gregorovitch, a European wandmaker, had acquired a wand of immense power and was studying it to reproduce its characteristics.
However, this was over fifty years ago." Harry furrowed his brow. "Gregorovitch… could he still have it?" Ollivander shook his head slightly. "I don't think so. Shortly before his retirement, by chance, we traveled to the same location, to collect materials for wands.
We happened to stop in at the same pub, and I heard him bemoaning a thief for stealing his most precious possession so many years ago. He may have been talking about something else, but I believe he was referring to the unbeatable wand." Harry sighed disappointedly. "So it's missing again." Ginny frowned. "Someone stole it from Gregorovitch. Do we have any idea who? Did he say anything else?" Ollivander furrowed his brow in thought.
"I believe he may have mentioned something about how much life could have been spared if he had managed to kill the thief before he had disappeared. He was quite drunk at the time." Ginny sighed. "How are we supposed to figure this out?" Luna smiled serenely. "Perhaps the answers are right at our fingertips, if only we open our eyes to see them." Harry looked at her sharply, and then his eyes widened and he turned back to Ollivander.
"All the lives spared. You don't think…?" Ginny's mouth dropped as she caught Harry's thoughts, but Ollivander looked startled and confused. Harry's expression was eager as his mind raced towards the conclusion. "This happened in Europe.
Who was the most feared Dark Lord there in the last fifty years or so?" "Grindlewald," Ginny breathed. "Could it be…?" Harry nodded. "It makes sense. Grindlewald knew of it, because Gregorovitch had been bragging about using it to reproduce the characteristics. He wanted the wand to aid him in his domination. Or maybe he believed in the Deathly Hallows tale, and wanted it for that." Ollivander looked disturbed.
"I have not heard of the Deathly Hallows, but that does seem to fit the circumstances. I am not sure what you intend to do with this information, but I am glad I was able to be of assistance." Harry nodded and stood up. "Thank you, Mr. Ollivander. You've been a great help." He glanced around the bare room. "Are you certain you're all right here?
We can take you somewhere well protected, if you wish." Ollivander tilted his head to the side. "This place has been safe for me for the last few weeks, but I do admit that I miss the human contact.
Are you certain your location will be secure?" Harry nodded again, smiling. "Trust me, it's protected by goblin wards." Ollivander looked at the two girls, and then back at Harry.
"Thank you, Mr. Potter, for your offer. Allow me a few minutes to collect my belongings." Ollivander puttered around, collecting some clothing, while Harry made a one-way portkey to McGonagall Castle. It would deposit Ollivander in the Entrance Hall, and would ensure he could get through the wards, since Harry, as the McGonagall heir, would be the one creating the portkey. When the wandmaker was ready, Harry handed him the quill portkey. "This will take you to McGonagall Castle.
We'd appreciate it if you wouldn't tell anyone why we were here. Just tell Aunt Minerva that you saw us, and we sent you because you would be safer there, than where you were staying." Ollivander nodded. "Thank you again, Mr. Potter. I wish you luck in your endeavors, and hopefully we will meet again under more fortunate circumstances soon." He gripped the quill tightly, and a moment later, disappeared. Ginny and Luna grasped Harry's hand, and he used his ring to take them all back to Lion's Castle.
As it was late, they all went to bed immediately, waiting until a more reasonable hour to discuss what they had learned with the others. XXX They discussed the late night excursion over breakfast the next morning. Everyone was relieved to hear that Ollivander was all right, and would be safe at McGonagall Castle from here on. "So you think that Grindlewald had the wand last?" Hermione asked, looking at Harry skeptically. Harry shrugged.
"It's a bit of a leap, where the facts are concerned, but it does make sense, and the timing fits. He stole it from Gregorovitch, and used it to gain power in Europe." "So then what?" Susan asked. "Where is it now?" Harry glanced at her. "Think about it. Dumbledore defeated Grindlewald and ended the war. I don't think you have to actually kill the previous owner in order to win the wand's allegiance, just defeat him, so using that logic, Dumbledore would have taken possession in 1945." "But that would mean…" Hermione gasped.
"Voldemort defeated Dumbledore. He has the wand!" They all looked ill and slightly afraid at that knowledge. "So… what do we do now?" Ron asked, after a moment's silence. Harry sighed. "What we can. Train, keep searching for horcruxes." "But You-Know-Who's got the Elder Wand!" Ron protested.
Harry nodded grimly. "Not much we can do about that. We just have to keep on task. We'll get through this." With a newfound determination, they buckled down and continued their dueling practice and research, as January turned to February.
Valentine's Day saw a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, as they decided to take a day off, and just enjoy themselves. Rather than each couple going off on their own, Harry had the elves make a formal dinner for all of them. He didn't want Daphne to feel left out, since she was the only one without a significant other in their group. They all dressed up, and had a wonderful evening, enjoying the delicious food and each other's company. Before they separated to their bedrooms for the night, Daphne thanked them for what they had done.
She knew they could have gone off on their own dates, and it meant a lot that they had chosen to include her.
Harry slung an arm across her shoulders and smiled. "We're all family, here, Daphne. We have to look after each other." Daphne beamed, and gave Harry a peck on the cheek, before they all wished each other good night, and headed to their rooms. XXX The end of the month seemed to bring on a warm front, with the snow they had gotten for Valentine's Day melting by the end of the next week. Here and there, a few hardy flowers and plants could be seen poking up from the thawing ground.
Harry spent many afternoons studying the Marauder's Map, trying to come up with patterns, and form a schedule for which Death Eaters were in residence at Hogwarts at certain times. Voldemort seemed to enjoy spending time in the Slytherin section of the castle.
He was there about half of the time when Harry checked, with no real pattern for timing that he could see. Remembering what they had learned from Snape, Harry knew that the Dark Lord had been using Malfoy Manor as a base before taking over the castle, so he had to wonder if Voldemort was still spending time there.
The numbers of Death Eaters varied by day; there could be anywhere from five to fifty in residence at any given time.
He did notice that there seemed to be fewer Death Eaters there between midmorning and midafternoon, as opposed to later in the day. They all tried to come up with some sort of plan to get in, but knew that all of the known entrances would be watched.
And that wasn't even getting into avoiding detection once they were in. Harry remembered the secret passage that Hogwarts had told him about, and knew that that could be a good entry point, but only if they had a plan for once they got in. Hermione was very interested in this secret passage, especially since they hadn't heard of it before. "How did you find out about this?" Hermione asked curiously, interested to hear that the passage wasn't on the map.
Harry glanced at Ginny, before he answered. "We were told of it." He bit his lip. "It might sound crazy to you, but Hogwarts told us." Hermione blinked, startled. "You mentioned before that Hogwarts told you something was wrong in the castle. Is this like that?" Ginny nodded, and Hermione bit her lip, thinking. "It's not that I don't believe you or anything, it's just so strange to think about a castle being sentient." Harry shrugged, smiling slightly.
"Hogwarts may have originally been built out of wood and stone, but a thousand years of magical beings walking through the halls have given the castle some semblance of awareness. She understands what's going on, but even she isn't all knowing." He winced lightly. "She can't really evict the Death Eaters, but she might be able to help us if we get in." "How so?" Blaise asked. Harry bit his lip. "She may be able to shield us a little.
I wouldn't want to rely on that, though. Voldemort will have undoubtedly put up his own warning spells, to let him know when someone has entered the castle. I wouldn't guarantee more than an hour or so of time to search. What we need is a distraction." "What kind of distraction?" Neville queried. Harry sighed. "Something like what Voldemort did in December, and last June. Something to draw them out, and leave the castle as unprotected as possible." "But how?" Daphne asked.
Harry shook his head. "We'll have to think about it. We'll talk with Aunt Minerva and the others, and see if they'll be willing to help. But none of it will mean anything if we can't get the last two horcruxes." "The snake will be with Voldemort," Ginny pointed out reasonably. "It will probably be the last one we go after. Before we get Nagini, we need to make sure the others are all destroyed." Harry nodded his agreement. "First we need to find the diadem.
And my bet is that it's at Hogwarts." "But where?" Hermione asked, exasperated. "You said it yourself, Harry, we'll only have a short amount of time. We can't search the whole castle!" Harry sighed again, putting his head in his hands. "I don't know.
Where would he hide it?" "The Slytherin common room?" Ron suggested. "You said he spends a lot of time there, when he's in the castle." Harry grimaced. "He wouldn't put it somewhere someone could accidentally find it. Luna, when we were researching his past last year, you said he had applied for a job shortly after graduating.
He probably wanted access to the castle, and even better, access to the younger generation. But he didn't get the job, so he had to have hidden the horcrux somewhere to or from the headmaster's office." They all pondered that for a moment. Ron threw up his hands in frustration.
"The castle is huge! How can we even begin to guess where he hid it?" No one had any useful suggestions, so they decided to leave off before they got even more annoyed with each other, and headed outside to unwind in their animal forms. Over the next few weeks, they continued throwing out ideas, but no one came up with anything solid. More reports of Death Eater attacks plagued them, and Harry definitely lost sleep over the names he recognized, hoping that his friends were all right.
He knew the only way to ensure their safety was to end the war, so the best thing he could do was keep searching for the horcruxes. But still, he worried. _ _ _ Chapter 17 Disclaimer: don't own By the middle of March, Harry and his friends thought they had a workable plan on how to get into the Hogwarts. He sent a message to Minerva and asked her and Sirius to meet him at Potter Manor that weekend.
He had kept in contact with Minerva as much as possible, sending messages once a week through the house elves. It was reassuring for both of them to have that point of contact, even if the only thing they wrote was that they were all right. Minerva and Sirius arrived less than a minute after Harry, and Sirius didn't waste any time in grabbing Harry in a tight hug. Harry held him just as strongly, incredibly happy to be able to see his godfather again. When they pulled apart, Minerva had her turn, before they all sat down and Harry explained the plan.
"We need to get into Hogwarts, which means we need to draw the Death Eaters out," Harry explained. Sirius frowned. "Why do you need to get into the castle?" Harry sighed. "We need the sword to destroy the horcruxes. We also think there may be a horcrux hidden there somewhere." They both looked startled, so Harry explained his reasoning for believing Voldemort had hidden a soul piece at Hogwarts.
Sirius shuddered when he was done. "It makes sense," he agreed. "It's creepy and I really don't want to think about you going in there with all those Death Eaters, but I understand why it has to be done. What do you need from us?" Harry took a deep breath. "We need you to be the distraction. Can you get the Order and anyone else who's willing to engage the Death Eaters at a specific time?" Sirius pursed his lips. "A group of Death Eaters shows up at Diagon Alley every morning.
If you tell us when, we'll attack." Harry nodded. They had kept watch on the Alley as well, and had marked the contingent of Death Eaters that arrived daily.
"Keep your medallion with you, and I'll send you a message when we're ready. It will be in a couple of weeks, most likely. We still have a few things to work out, but I'll let you know." Sirius and Minerva knew they needed to start contacting the Order, as well as others whom they thought would be willing to fight with them, either in person or acting as healers.
Standing up, they said their good byes, promising to keep each other informed. Sirius clearly didn't want to leave Harry, but he knew that he had to continue trusting his godson. This plan was more than a little crazy, but it did bear the potential for victory.
Once his former guardians had left, Harry returned to Lion's Castle, and informed the others that they were on board, and would deal with getting the Order organized. Over the next few days, Harry contacted Fred, George, and Cedric, sending them short notes with one of his house elves. He didn't want to put too much into writing, but he did prompt them to keep the medallions he had given them on their person, and to be ready for a fight.
Fred and George, after reading and subsequently burning the message, sent the house elf back to Harry with a new set of transmitters. These ones were more developed, and could work over longer distances. Upon reading the accompanying note, Harry was very happy to have such a tool; Fred and George had kept a few for themselves, which would be distributed as needed before the fight, and they assured Harry that the communicators would stretch the distance between Hogwarts and Diagon Alley.
It was a definite improvement, as the range of the previous set had been limited to a little less than ten kilometers. Harry sent another note, telling the twins to give transmitters to Cedric, Sirius, Minerva, and Amelia, as they would probably need them the most.
He sent another message to Cedric, telling him to go to McGonagall Castle, to be included in the planning stage of this attack, before he began contacting the members of the DA. He sent short notes out with Mimsy, to most of the older DA members, warning them to keep their coins handy, and be ready to respond if they wanted to help.
He wouldn't force anyone to fight, but if they wanted to, he wouldn't say no. He told them that the end of the war was coming, and if they were willing to assist, they would not be turned down.
After sending those notes, he passed on the master coin he had used to set meeting times with the DA over to Cedric, so that the older boy could organize and lead the DA in this fight. One week after Harry had spoken with Sirius and Minerva, he received confirmation from his former guardians that they would be ready to do their part when the time came.
This was relieving for Harry, though he still didn't want to launch this attack until they had a better plan on what to do once they got in. Drawing the Death Eaters out would do nothing if they got caught because they didn't know where to search for the horcrux. They spent many hours brainstorming, but other than Ron suggesting the Slytherin part of the castle once more, they really didn't have any ideas.
Harry shook his head. "I know it seems like a possibility, Ron," he said, turning to his friend, "but there would be too many opportunities for someone to stumble across it and discover what it was. Voldemort wouldn't take that risk." "So where can someone hide something at Hogwarts, that no one would find it?" Susan asked, feeling very frustrated. Harry pursed his lips, trying to come up with ideas that they hadn't considered before.
Ginny huffed in annoyance. "This is hopeless. How are we supposed to know every nook and cranny in the castle? It's not like we know what secret hiding places Voldemort may have discovered." Harry frowned but didn't reply. An idea was niggling in the back of his mind. Ginny glanced at him, catching his pensive attitude. After a minute, she gasped, hearing where his thoughts were going.
Everyone else looked at him. "What's going on?" Daphne asked. She was happy that her friends had such an amazing relationship, especially since they loved each other so much, but it was annoying to see them always knowing what the other was thinking. Harry focused on his friends. "A secret hiding place." No one seemed to get it, other than Ginny. "Think about it. We've discovered several secrets about the castle.
There happens to be a room that very few people know about, that is hidden from view until someone correctly retrieves the door." Hermione gasped. "The Room of Requirement! You think he hid it there?" Harry leaned forward in his seat, his eyes eager. "It's an idea. A better idea then what we've come up with until now.
The Room of Requirement could be on the way to or from the headmaster's office, so Voldemort could have hidden it when he came to apply for that job. He would assume that only he had penetrated the deepest secrets of the castle." He smirked. "He probably didn't account for other rule-breaking students to come along after him." Ginny nodded.
"The Room of Requirement can become anything. Surely there's a room in there somewhere that is used for hiding things." Everyone looked stunned, though after a moment, Ron nodded slowly. "I guess you could be right. The Room of Requirement is pretty awesome." Neville and Blaise chuckled, while Ginny and Hermione rolled their eyes.
Daphne frowned. "It seems odd, though. Did Voldemort really think that no one would find the horcrux?" Harry sighed. "Remember how arrogant he is. He wouldn't think that anyone would be smart enough to figure it out." Hermione nodded decisively. "So we'll check the Room of Requirement first then," she said firmly. "It's certainly a more contained area to search than the whole castle." "Is the passageway you mentioned nearby?" Blaise asked curiously.
"We've been talking about what we'll do once we're in, but all that's for nothing if we get caught before we even make it onto the grounds." Hermione nodded in agreement. "He's right. The passage to Honeydukes, the one in the Shrieking Shack, they're all known to others. The passageway you mentioned is probably our best bet, but we'd still be risking a lot if we have to traverse the entire castle to get to the Room of Requirement." Harry shook his head. "It leads into and out of the castle from the Room of Requirement, so we don't have to worry about that.
The entrance is in the caves above Hogsmeade." "That's good," Susan said. "We'll be there already, so that eliminates one problem." Harry nodded. "Exactly. I'll contact Aunt Minerva and give her a time. Is next Monday all right?" They all agreed to the date, the last Monday in March, and headed to the dining room for dinner.
XXX The next day, Harry contacted Sharptooth and warned him of the impending attack on Diagon Alley, so that the goblins could be ready. Sharptooth sent a reply back with the house elf Harry had had carry the message, thanking him for the consideration, and telling him that the goblins would be prepared. Harry read in between the lines and knew that the goblins would close and ward the bank against entry on the morning of the attack.
He didn't expect them to get involved, but he knew that they would defend their bank, should the Death Eaters get too close. He sent another note to Minerva and Sirius, with the date and time for the attack, and received confirmation that they were set. Minerva told him that many of the older students from the DA were assuring Cedric that they wanted to help, and making their way to McGonagall Castle, so that they could all finalize their plans and be ready to go when the time came.
With everything on their end organized, there wasn't much for Harry and his friends to do but wait. XXX Minerva and Sirius had been very busy over the last couple of weeks, as well. After speaking with Harry, they immediately contacted Moody, who had taken over as head of the Order, to let him know of the plan. Moody had been skeptical, but willing to trust in Harry's proposal, since it seemed like the kid actually knew what he was doing, at least from what the ex-Auror had observed over the last few years.
Minerva also got in touch with several Hogwarts professors, as well as Poppy, and received confirmation that they wanted to help as well, so she told them to come to the Castle. While the Order was being contacted, Amelia reached out to what remained of the previous Ministry and the Aurors. She, Minerva, and Sirius had expanded Harry's plan, and decided that a two-pronged attack would be much more successful. While Sirius and Minerva engaged the Death Eaters at the Alley, she would lead the Aurors, and a few others, to fight those who had taken over the Ministry.
Once Harry gave them a date, they began firming their plans. Minerva contacted several shopkeepers in Diagon Alley two days before the attack was to take place, and suggested they spread the word to stay home that day. It was risky, but they all felt it would be best to limit the number of innocent casualties. Fred and George offered their shop as a safe haven during the fight. When the Death Eaters had taken over the Ministry, they had cut off all Floo access to the Alley, so the Order couldn't use the Floo at Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes, but they could use the building as a shelter for the injured.
The day before the attack, they were going to sneak in several healers who would remain in the shop during the fight, to be on hand for any injuries. All in all, everyone felt they were pretty prepared for what was to come. They had a plan, and they could taste the end of the war. All of those who gathered at McGonagall Castle knew that their task was fairly straightforward: provide a distraction.
Harry and his group would have the hard part. Not that many of them really knew what Harry and the others were going to be doing. All they had been told was that one way or another, it would be over tomorrow. Minerva and Sirius were really the only ones who had any sort of idea, and it was pretty vague, at that. Harry had told them what they needed to know, but they hoped he had a better plan on getting to the remaining horcruxes and taking care of Voldemort.
But they trusted him, and if he said they were on top of it, they would believe him. When it began to get late, Minerva insisted everyone try and at least get some rest before they had to engage the Death Eaters.
Fred and George had already left with Snape the Potions master had recovered from his ordeal and had insisted on acting as a healer at the battle Narcissa, Poppy, Andromeda Tonks, and Druella Zabini, who had studied as a healer in her youth, and had agreed to assist on the scene. If her son was going to be out there putting himself in danger, well then, so could she.
She might not have as much skill in defense, but she knew her way around healing charms. Cyrus had also gone with that group, after promising Astoria that he would return the teenager was nearly hysterical at the thought that her father was going into danger. It was bad enough that her mother had been killed by Death Eaters, and her sister was off with Harry, doing Merlin knew what.
But Cyrus would not stay out of this fight. He didn't think he could look his older daughter in the eye, knowing that while she had been putting her life on the line, he had been safely tucked away in a castle hundreds of kilometers away.
While he wasn't as good as Druella or the other healers, he was competent, and beyond that, he had offered to act as both a go-between, and in a more administrative capacity in their makeshift hospital. He would direct any wounded, and carry messages between the healers and the fighters.
Most of the large gathering gave in and headed up to bed, rather than fight the stern woman who had taught many of them once upon a time. The only holdouts were Astoria and the Weasleys, who refused to leave before receiving word from the twins that they had arrived at their shop safely. The entire family, besides Ron and Ginny, and Percy, whose absence was still painful for everyone, was present and ready to fight. Charlie had been a shock to them, since they hadn't been expecting him.
The dragon handler had stepped out of the Floo a few hours earlier with a roguish grin, telling them that Harry had sent him a message, suggesting he might want to come home for a family visit. They were grateful to have the second-oldest Weasley child home, especially now. No matter what happened in the next twenty-four hours, at least the family was mostly together.
Charlie was eager to return as well. He had received news of the war and the situation in Britain, and hearing of his brother's death had been a shock, especially since Percy had just come back to the family. That was one reason why he came home so quickly when Harry had let him know that the end of the war was coming: whatever happened, he wanted to face it with his family.
Shortly before midnight, Minerva's medallion warmed against her skin, and she pulled it out from underneath her dress. Reading the message, she smiled slightly, and looked up at Molly and Arthur.
"They're safe and hiding in their flat. They've set up wards to mask their presence, and they will see us tomorrow." Molly nodded tearfully, while the others relaxed. Soon enough, they all headed up to bed. It was going to be a long day tomorrow.
XXX After dinner, Harry and Ginny headed up to one of the towers. The one they chose was open to the elements, and provided a fantastic view of the vast grounds. They sat at the edge of the tower, legs dangling over the edge as they spoke through their bond and admired the clear night sky. So what happens after tomorrow? Ginny asked, absentmindedly playing with Harry's fingers, their hands intertwined.
Harry shrugged lightly. I'm trying not to focus too far ahead, he admitted. Let's just worry about tomorrow first. Ginny nodded slowly. Weren't you the one who said we need to have something to fight for?
Harry bit his lip. I guess, he replied. Ginny grasped his hand tightly. So then, what are you fighting for? Harry turned slightly so that he was facing her head-on. He smiled softly, and held up their entwined hands. You. Us. We have a future together, Gin. You and me, we're going to make it through. Ginny nodded, and leaned closer, snuggling into his side.
I'm scared. Her mental voice was full of trepidation. What if we fail? Harry's response was fiery and determined. Don't think like that.
You know we've got a good plan. We can do this. Ginny nodded again, and Harry sighed. I'm more worried about the others. Ginny looked up at him, not wanting to take the effort to actually pull away. What do you mean? Harry bit his lip. We've pulled so many people into this. We're only one arm of this attack. What if something happens to Sirius?
Aunt Minerva? Remus? Your family? What about our classmates? I asked them to fight. It'll be my fault if they get hurt. Ginny sat up abruptly and slapped him lightly on the chest.
Harry James Potter, stop that right now. It is not your fault! Everyone here has made their own decisions. Professor McGonagall, Sirius, my family, and everyone else, they all made a choice to fight.
You didn't force them to do anything. She smirked slightly. You're not all powerful, Harry, so stop pretending like you control the world. Harry wilted a little, but his expression was full of love and appreciation. I love you Ginny Potter.
Ginny leaned forward and gave him a kiss. I love you too, Harry. And whatever happens, tomorrow, after… we face it together. Harry nodded determinedly. Together. XXX Hermione led Ron into her room without hesitation. Though their friends had chosen to utilize the same rooms over the last few months, they had abstained, not ready to take that next step, even if all they would do was sleep in the same bed. But tonight, Hermione wanted to spend with Ron. Tomorrow was uncertain, and she wanted to be with her boyfriend.
The two cuddled against the headboard, knowing that they should get some rest, but not ready to sleep just yet. Hermione bit her lip worriedly, as she leaned into Ron's side.
"I'm scared," she admitted. "What if it goes wrong tomorrow?" Ron shook his head, holding his girlfriend close. "We can do this," he assured her. "We've been practicing and training for months.
Years, even. And no matter what, I've got your back." Hermione looked up at him and smiled. "And I've got yours." Ron took a deep breath, staring into his girlfriend's warm gaze. "Hermione…" He hesitated, briefly losing his nerve. Hermione's curious expression spurred him forward, and he inhaled again. "I love you," he said quickly, rushing through the words as if he wouldn't be able to get them out if he thought about it anymore. Hermione gasped lightly, her eyes shocked, though there was a hint of joy there; Ron, of course, didn't see it, as his gaze was immediately drawn to his lap in his embarrassment.
Hermione took a breath to steady herself, and reached out, one hand gently pushing his chin up so that he was forced to look at her.
"Do you mean that?" she asked softly. Ron gulped, and nodded. "I do, Hermione. I know it hasn't always been easy, and I can be thick and a right prat at times, but for some reason, you look past all that. I never know what to say, or do, to show you, because I'm not good at all that stuff. But I want you to know, before tomorrow, how much I value our relationship." The words sounded slightly stilted and foreign rolling off of the redhead's tongue, but Hermione had no doubt that he was being completely serious and honest.
She smiled beautifully, and reached down to clasp her boyfriend's hand. "I love you, too, Ron." Ron stared, shocked, almost surprised that his feelings were returned.
Hermione's smile widened. "Really." Coming out of his stupor, Ron grinned and leaned down to kiss her. XXX Blaise wasn't sure he had ever really seen this side of Luna before. At least, not completely. Sure, he knew she could be serious, and he knew that the aloofness was mostly just an act, but he had never seen her drop that mask so fully. Tonight, though, the night before everything ended, one way or another, Luna showed no sign of her normal flighty attitude.
The couple spent the evening lying in the bed they had been sharing for the last few months, not speaking much, simply reveling in the closeness and trying not to think about everything that could go wrong. It was very late when Luna's voice broke the oppressive silence.
"Promise me you'll be careful," she whispered, her silvery eyes seeking out Blaise's own dark ones, still visible in the light of the moon that shone through the window. Blaise clasped her hand tightly, a small smile making its way across his face. "I will if you will." Luna sighed and sat up slightly, resting her weight on her right arm. "Ok, so just promise me you won't take any unnecessary risks." Blaise raised himself up as well, and dropped the smile.
His expression was serious and reflected the weight of what they were about to do. "I won't." Satisfied, Luna nodded and lay back down. Blaise followed her a moment later, and the two tried to get some rest. _ _ _ Chapter 18 Disclaimer: don't own Everyone was quiet when they gathered for breakfast the next morning. No one seemed eager to speak as they woke up over eggs, toast, and bacon. Harry tried not to burn his tongue as he sipped his tea rapidly, blinking the sleep out of his eyes.
As they finished eating, Harry took a deep breath and stood up. His worried gaze sought out each of them around the table, before he nodded determinedly. "We can do this," he said simply. "We're ready, and one way or another, this ends today." Ginny stood up and made her way to his side, slipping her hand into his.
"Let's make sure it ends in our favor," she replied. They all chuckled weakly, before leaving the table and making their way to the entrance hall. Harry pulled out his medallion and signaled Minerva, before he pulled out several lengths of rope. "These portkeys will take us to the entrance of the secret passage. I made them yesterday." They all shared the rope between them, and a moment later, Harry activated the portkeys, and everyone disappeared from the comfortable castle.
XXX Harry had told Minerva a specific time, so when they got to the cave, they had to wait a while. Harry wanted them to be in position early, so that they were ready to act as soon as the Death Eaters left the castle. Shortly before noon, Harry signaled for them to put their ear transmitters in, as he pulled out the Marauders Map and whispered the activation phrase.
He bit his lip, his bright green eyes focusing on everything around him as he shifted into battle mode. "Is anyone there?" he asked. A moment of silence, and then "Harry, old chap, how absolutely spiffing to hear from you!" Harry was pretty sure that was Fred, but it was harder to tell the twins apart when he couldn't see them.
"Just jolly old chum!" That was the other twin, and Harry shook his head amusedly. Another voice chimed in, and Harry greeted Cedric warmly. "Thanks for helping us out with this," he said to the older man. He could hear Cedric's smile in his voice at his reply. "Hey, I'm happy to be here. You don't even have to ask." "What about shopkeepers, and shoppers?" Harry asked, not wanting anyone to be caught in the middle of this. "The DA got the word out for people to stay home," Cedric assured him.
"There shouldn't be too many people doing their shopping today." "And we contacted several reliable shopkeepers," Sirius assured his godson, making his presence known over the transmitters.
"We told them to open up and then go home, so it looks like they're available for business, in case the Death Eaters get suspicious." "Are we nearly ready?" Minerva's voice joined them, and Harry nodded, though he knew they couldn't see him. "On your mark," he informed them. "We'll make our move when the Death Eaters leave." XXX Minerva glanced at Sirius and nodded. "Fred, George, give us two minutes and then start your attack.
Amelia, are your people ready?" Amelia's voice chimed in affirmatively. "Just tell us when." Amelia had been in place with the Aurors for the last half hour, waiting for the signal. Minerva smiled grimly. "Let's go." XXX Fred and George grinned at each other as they began preparing the devices they had managed to hide throughout the Alley the night before.
Magi-grenades, with spells ranging from blasting hexes to stunners, were placed strategically throughout the Alley, ready to explode with an activation code; it was an improved-upon design from their previous magi-grenades, which worked by pulling a pin. These ones would only go off when the twins were ready.
They had also hid many other little tricks and treats for the Death Eaters, which could only help them, considering how much opposition they were expecting once it became known that they were attacking Voldemort's followers.
Fred and George knew that they would likely be facing the Death Eaters alone for some period of time hopefully not too long before Minerva, Sirius, and the rest joined them. Which made their hidden toys all the more important. It would give them an advantage, and hopefully take out some of the opposition while they were at it. Precisely two minutes after Minerva's order, the twins nodded as one, and spared one last glance towards their back room, where the healers were set up and ready, before the raised their wands and whispered the activation code.
They were rewarded for their actions at the sounds of multiple explosions and cursing coming from outside. George smirked viciously. "Let's give 'em hell, Gred." Fred returned the smile. "Took the words right out of my mouth, Forge." And together, the twins immediately rushed out the door of their shop, and into the chaos.
XXX Studying the Marauders Map intently, Harry only had to wait five minutes before he saw names begin congregating in the Great Hall and Entrance Hall; soon after that, they began disappearing in groups. He supposed it would make sense; the wards had fallen when Voldemort had attacked the school before Christmas, so it was now possible to disapparate and portkey from the grounds.
He was certain, however, that Voldemort would have wards in place to let him know if anyone other than his Death Eaters tried to take advantage of that. Or maybe it was that only those with a Dark Mark could portkey or apparate to or from the castle.
Either way, it didn't really make much difference. He folded up the map and put it in his pocket, before going over to the boulder that housed the secret passage.
Opening it revealed a dark hole that seemed to stretch on forever. Harry and Ginny were the first ones through, but the rest followed quickly behind, afraid to lose them in the oppressive darkness of the tunnel. When they reached the end of the passageway, Harry pulled out the map again, and used his wand to illuminate it. He studied it for a few moments, before nodding to himself and putting it away again.
"Right," he whispered, all of them drawing close so that he could speak without raising his voice, "there's about fifteen Death Eaters still in the castle, but it looks like most of them have left. You-Know-Who's not here." He didn't want to speak Voldemort's name, as the Taboo would most likely kick in, and alert the Dark Lord to their presence at Hogwarts.
"We all know the plan, yeah?" Everyone affirmed that they knew what they were supposed to be doing, so Harry pushed open the exit, and led the group into the bare stone room. When they had all entered, the door they had come through melted back into the wall, until it was impossible to tell that there had been a door there at all.
Everyone looked around with interest as Harry crossed the room, opening the door that led to the rest of the castle. No one was in the hallway outside, which Harry already knew since he had studied the map, so the group exited the Room of Requirement. Harry didn't speak as he nodded to his friends, and as agreed, they all split up, heading to different parts of the castle to complete their separate tasks.
XXX Minerva knew they were outnumbered, as the Order and their allies attacked the Alley. They were fighting well, but the Death Eaters just had sheer force on their side. The group of Death Eaters had arrived right before Harry had contacted them that morning, so it was just a few minutes before they launched their surprise attack.
The Death Eaters only floundered for a moment, before they were firing back, and like that, the fight was on. Minerva dodged a sickly orange curse and ducked behind a wall, catching her breath. "Harry, I suggest you hurry. I'm not sure how long we'll be able to keep this up." Harry's voice was grim across the transmitter. "Just give us as long as you can. It's a big castle." Minerva rolled her eyes, but left her hiding place and engaged the nearest Death Eater.
XXX Amelia knew that she and her group had surprise on their side, but that was pretty much it. The Ministry building was filled with Death Eaters and sympathizers, and she had only a small group with her. All told, she had as much of the Auror corps that had escaped when the Ministry had fallen in December that she was able to get in contact with, which totaled nearly 30. Some Aurors had been too badly injured, and some hadn't wanted to fight anymore.
More had fled the country, or gone into deep hiding, and she hadn't been able to reach them. There was a guard at the employee entrance to the Ministry, but several Aurors easily took care of that, and immediately began to enter the building. The employee entrance could let in ten at a time, and the visitor's entrance let in six, if they squeezed.
Amelia sent some of her group to the visitor's entrance, and the rest went through the employee entrance, waiting a few seconds in between, to make sure they didn't land on top of each other. As Amelia had guessed, the Death Eaters were not expecting an attack that morning, so it took them a few moments to get themselves together. By the time they started firing back, all of the Aurors were inside, and the fight was picking up.
There was quite a bit of opposition, but what heartened Amelia were the wizards and witches who recognized what was going on, and started attacking the Death Eaters as well. The lobby had descended into near chaos, with Death Eaters attacking the Aurors, and Ministry employees that hadn't felt the need to go into hiding under the new regime either joining the Aurors, joining the Death Eaters, or just trying to escape the madness.
Frank and Alice had chosen to go with the Aurors, given the choice between that and the Alley. It was probably more dangerous, but they had worked in this building, and they knew it well. They wanted to help their fellow Aurors, and Amelia was happy to have their assistance. The couple led a group through the lobby and to the lifts, heading towards the upper levels, while Tonks led another group in the opposite direction, and Amelia took a final group towards level one.
They all knew they were outnumbered, but as far as things went, Amelia thought they were holding up pretty well. At least Voldemort wasn't there. Yet. XXX Ginny, Ron, and Hermione quietly navigated the hallways between the Room of Requirement and the headmaster's office.
Ginny hadn't wanted to separate from Harry, but they thought she would be able to get passed the gargoyle because of their bond, so it was necessary to split up. The only thing they could do was be quick about it, so she could get back to Harry faster. They reached the gargoyle without seeing a soul, and Ginny allowed herself to relax slightly. Not completely, just a little.
She looked at the stone guardian, and swallowed. "We need to get in," she said softly, not wanting her voice to echo in the silence. The gargoyle turned its head towards them, and seemed to study them for a moment, before it nodded austerely and moved aside. Ginny wasted no time in leading Ron and Hermione up the stairs. XXX Daphne and Luna were a little put out at their job, but didn't argue or complain, knowing it needed to be done.
The two girls headed up to the Astronomy tower with the Marauders Map to keep watch. There were still nearly fifteen Death Eaters in the castle, though thankfully, Voldemort wasn't there. Harry hadn't known whether or not to be relieved at that, since the Dark Lord may be attacking their friends and family at that very moment. It was also possible that the megalomaniac was at Malfoy Manor. It made them all nervous, not knowing, but there wasn't much they could do about it, except be ready.
Once in the tower, they set up several disillusionment charms and wards to keep anyone from finding them, before they settled down with the map between them, to inform the others if any unfriendlies were close to finding them. XXX Harry, Neville, Susan, and Blaise immediately returned their attention to the Room of Requirement once their friends had left. Harry closed his eyes and walked past the stretch of wall three times, asking for a place to hide something.
He knew there was a chance a rather terrifyingly large one that they were completely on the wrong track with their plan to search the Room of Requirement, but it was the only real lead they had, so they had to do it. He hoped they weren't as off track as it was possible they could be, as he opened the large door that appeared for them.
All four let out groans as they stepped inside and saw the cathedral-like room hidden behind the unimpressive door. The room was enormous, and filled from floor to ceiling. There were shelves packed with objects, and piles of what Harry endearingly termed 'junk' in his mind. It would take forever to search the whole room. Knowing that they didn't have any time to waste, the group spread out and began searching. Through the ear pieces, they kept in contact, making sure the others knew their locations, as it would be easy to get lost in this massive room.
After ten minutes, Ginny informed them that they had the sword, and she, Ron, and Hermione would come back to help in the search. For half an hour, the group looked for the horcrux. Ginny broke off from Ron and Hermione, going to find Harry as they entered the Room, while Ron and Hermione headed in a different direction, trying to cover more ground.
After another few minutes, Daphne's voice chimed in their ears. "Hurry it up, guys, Death Eaters are reappearing in the castle." Harry paused briefly. "Where?" It was easy to hear the worry in the Slytherin's reply. "Five in the Great Hall, four more heading in from the grounds." She hesitated, and then swore. "Make that eleven on the grounds, and eight in the Great Hall. Did we trip some sort of alarm?" Harry bit his lip. "Aunt Minerva?
What's going on at the Alley?" Minerva's voice was breathless, indicating she was hard at work. "Death Eaters are disapparating. Harry, what's happening?" Harry gritted his teeth. "They must have received some order to get back to Hogwarts. We're going to need some help here." Minerva inhaled sharply. "We'll do the best we can, but there are still a fair amount of Death Eaters here.
Be careful." Harry took a deep breath, and looked at Ginny. She nodded, just once, and he smiled slightly. "Daphne, Ron, Blaise, Neville, go set up a perimeter two floors down. Keep the Death Eaters back and give us as much time as you can.
Luna, stay where you are and keep us informed. Susan, Hermione, stay here and help us search. Our window just decreased significantly." They all gave affirmatives, and followed Harry's commands, hurrying to get into place as quickly as possible. Amelia spoke up over the transmitter, sounding tired but victorious. "We've retaken the Ministry," she informed them, to their relief. "It's a bit of a mess here, but we're working it out. Harry, I'll try to get a team there as soon as possible." Harry nodded, though he knew she couldn't see him.
"Thanks. Will we be facing Death Eaters from there as well?" Amelia sighed, running a hand through her hair as she observed the chaos around her. Bodies were lying all over the place, some moaning in pain, others silent. She saw both allies and enemies on the ground, and already, had people triaging the injured, to determine who needed to be removed to St. Mungos immediately.
"I saw some Death Eaters leaving, but we couldn't stop them." She paused briefly and took a deep breath. "I think Umbridge was with them." Harry clenched his jaw at the mention of that hag.
He knew that they couldn't do anything about it right now though, so he forced himself to reply calmly. "Just hurry back here," he implored. "We need more time, and we can't hold off all the Death Eaters alone." Minerva chimed in again. "This battle seems to be winding down. Most of the Death Eaters have either left or are down. I'll be there soon." Harry sighed in relief, and refocused his entire attention on finding the horcrux.
Together with Ginny, Susan, and Hermione, they continued to comb the large room, determined to find something useful, but knowing their time limit. Several floors down, Neville, Ron, and Blaise met up with Daphne, and they set up wards to hopefully stall the Death Eaters from getting closer to the Room of Requirement. "Professor McGonagall is here," Luna's voice informed them. "She's brought around twenty people with her.
The Death Eaters are engaging, but there's a few heading towards you. More Death Eaters are arriving as well." "Thanks, Luna," Blaise replied. In this moment, he was happy that his girlfriend was safe. No matter what happened to him, she had to be all right. They could hear the battle begin, even from so many floors up. They were stationed right by the main staircase, and they could see flashes of spellfire illuminating the floors below them.
A couple of Death Eaters made it past the fight to their perimeter, but they were easily dispatched. For almost five minutes, things seemed to be going well. Luna kept them informed of the battle raging out on the grounds and in the Entrance Hall and on the stairs.
More Death Eaters were arriving, but so were more fighters for their side. Amelia had come, along with twenty Aurors, including Kingsley, Frank, Alice, and Tonks.
Sirius showed up in the second wave of supporters coming from the Alley, along with Remus, Fred, George, Bill, and Fleur. Molly and Arthur had arrived with Minerva, as had several of the DA, including Cedric, and some of the Order. More of the DA and the Order arrived with Sirius. "We've got a problem," Luna's voice was clearly worried. "Voldemort's here. He's on his way up to the Entrance Hall from the Slytherin corridor. You've got about two minutes." "Thank you, Luna," Minerva replied.
Harry paused in the search, and glanced around worriedly. They were on borrowed time now. "Neville, you guys go down and help out." "Got it," the Longbottom heir said, sounding slightly relieved. He trusted Harry, and would follow him until the end of time, but he really didn't want to stand guard and wait, when he could be doing something useful. Harry, over here. Ginny's mental voice was full of both fear and excitement. Harry quickly made his way over to where all three girls were waiting for him.
They were huddled around an end table. Sitting on the table was an opened, battered box. Though the outside showed much wear and tear, the inside was lined in velvet, and sitting on the lush pillow was an old-fashioned tiara. Harry's breath hitched and he raised his wand slowly, levitating the tiara out of the box and manipulating it until it was hovering just a few inches away.
Inscribed on the inside was the phrase, 'wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure'. He looked up and met Ginny's sparkling gaze. "This is it," he confirmed. Hermione beamed, and Susan grinned. "So, now we destroy them, right?" Hermione clarified. Harry nodded and set the diadem on the floor before looking at his wife. "Ginny, you found it, you destroy it." Ginny gulped and nodded jerkily. She took the sword that she had held onto throughout their search, and grasped it tightly with both hands.
Harry stepped back, pulling Hermione and Susan with him. Ginny gasped as she felt an evil presence try and force its way passed her Occlumency barriers. It was as if the horcrux knew what was about to happen, and was trying to stop it.
With a loud cry, she swung the sword down and cracked the diadem in two. Something black leeched out of it, and after a moment, Ginny made herself look away. Harry was watching her with relief, and Susan and Hermione both looked startled and afraid. "Guys, not to hurry you along, but we could use some help down here," Ron's voice broke in, and they all forced themselves to laugh shakily.
"We're almost done," Harry replied. Down in the Entrance Hall, Neville was about to chime in, when movement across the hall caught his interest. Something large was slithering across the floor, and he recognized it as Voldemort's snake, Nagini.
Before he could do anything, the snake reared up and drove its fangs deep into the leg of a nearby Auror. The Auror dropped immediately, and Neville was tearing across the hall. "Guys, I've got eyes on Nagini." "Be careful," Harry implored. "Her venom's poisonous, remember." Neville nodded, though he knew they couldn't see him. Harry looked back at the others, and held out a hand towards Ginny. His wife immediately passed him the sword, and he took out the ring, placing it on the floor next to the broken diadem.
For a moment, he studied the ring he strongly suspected housed the Resurrection Stone, and wondered randomly whether or not destroying the horcrux would destroy the properties the stone supposedly held. Not the time to start worrying about that, Ginny chastised him. Harry glanced at her and shrugged sheepishly, before he drove the sword down, cracking the stone right along the line that had been used to represent the Elder Wand.
When that was done, he looked up, focusing on Susan. "Susan, you destroy the cup." Susan gulped and nodded, taking the sword that he passed her with shaking hands. Harry pulled the cup out and placed it on the floor next to the ring.
Susan, like Ginny, felt the evil presence as she raised the sword, but ignored it easily thanks to her Occlumency shields. She brought the sword down ruthlessly, and this time, a high-pitched shriek wailed out from the broken cup, before dissipating in the oppressive silence that followed. Harry took a deep breath, and pulled out the locket.
Without prompting, Susan passed the sword to Hermione, knowing that Harry wanted each of them to destroy one. Hermione tried to bring the sword down on the locket, but it just bounced off.
She frowned, rubbing her wrist gently, having jarred it with the sudden motion. "Why isn't it working?" she asked, confused. Harry bit his lip. "Kreacher tried to destroy it, remember? He thought that the key was to get it to open, but he couldn't make it happen." "Harry…" Ginny trailed off, and Harry looked at her sharply, understanding the direction her thoughts had been heading.
"You're right," he realized. The others looked confused, so he elaborated. "Parseltongue. Voldemort speaks it, Slytherin spoke it; the key to opening the locket must be using Parseltongue." "But you lost the ability," Ginny said, disappointed. Hermione bit her lip. "What about your phoenix abilities? Could you get through this the same way you got through the door at the Gaunt Shack?" Harry considered briefly. This wasn't exactly a ward, but it could be possible to get through it.
He wasn't trying to destroy the horcrux this way, just make it possible to do so. And the ward on the door to the Gaunt Shack had been a Parseltongue ward. This had to be similar. He furrowed his brow and held out one hand, concentrating hard.
A soft glow began to form, brightening intensely, the same way it had when Harry and Ginny had brought down the ward protecting the Gaunt Shack. A moment later, the locket clicked open. Something started to rise out up, but Hermione didn't wait for it to form, before she drove the sword point into each side. The locket cracked loudly, and began smoking. After a moment of silence, Harry gathered the broken horcruxes and placed them back in the sack he had used to transport them to the castle.
He shrunk the bag down and put it in his pocket. Hermione wordlessly handed the sword to Ginny, as she looked around at the group, wide-eyed. "So this means…" Harry nodded.
"Nagini, and then Voldemort." They all inhaled sharply, and without another word, spun around and made their way towards the exit, and the fight that they could hear as soon as they stepped into the hallway outside the Room of Requirement. They reached the Entrance Hall a few minutes later, and faltered slightly. The battle was clearly weighted in the Death Eaters' favor, despite the numbers the light side had.
The Death Eaters just had more. Voldemort was engaging Minerva, Molly, and Amelia, and was giving the three women a run for their money. On the other side of the Hall, Daphne, Ron, and Blaise were facing off against Bellatrix Lestrange. Though the trio of seventh years were advanced, they were still working hard just to keep the deranged witch at bay.
She was slowly gaining ground, so Harry directed Hermione and Susan to go help them, while he and Ginny continued on into the battle, picking off any Death Eaters they could reach. Ginny gripped the sword in one hand, and her wand in the other, firing spells with a ferocity that she only really showed in battle or on the Quidditch Pitch.
A few Death Eaters recognized Harry's presence and were quick to inform their master. The Dark Lord glanced over at the teenager that had caused him so much trouble, but he couldn't let his attention waiver, as he was currently occupied, and loathe as he was to admit it, the trio of women were definitely making him work for victory.
Harry knew he had to focus on the battle, so he couldn't worry when Ginny left his side, pulled away by the flow of fighting. He blasted away a Death Eater built along the same lines as Crabbe and Goyle perhaps one of their fathers and came face to face with the woman who had made the start of his fifth year incredibly difficult.
Delores Umbridge smiled sweetly. "Potter." Harry growled, and Umbridge's smile widened. "So glad I ran into you. I did have something I " Harry decided not to wait for her to finish whatever sick speech she had been planning. He reached out with his left hand, and flicked his wrist. The battle had already partially destroyed the Entrance Hall, and there were piles of stone and rubble all over. Harry's gesture caused several larger pieces to fly over, effectively knocking Umbridge out and leaving her pinned, should she somehow manage to regain consciousness.
Not that Harry was worried; judging from the size of the gash on her head, she wouldn't be in any shape to fight any time soon. She probably deserved worse, but Harry just didn't have time to deal with her just now, so with a grim smile, the wizard just clutched his wand tighter and jumped back into the battle.
Neville was having his own issues. Nagini was surprisingly adept at dodging spellfire. Or perhaps not so surprising, considering the circumstances. He had tried everything, and still, the snake evaded him. He was about to cast another curse, when a Reducto hit the wall behind him, and he fell under the weight of crumbling stone.
He was unable to do anything as he watched Nagini slither closer. The snake rose up slightly, its fangs bared, nothing but death in its intelligent gaze. With a cry, Ginny appeared as if out of nowhere, the Sword of Gryffindor nothing more than a silver blur in her hands as she swung it down. The snake's head separated from its body, flying up, before it landed a few feet away.
With a few flicks of her wand, Ginny moved the rubble off of Neville, so that he could stand up, which he did rather shakily a moment later. "Thanks," he said, rubbing his arm gently. Ginny nodded, glaring at the decapitated snake. "That's for my dad," she told it savagely. Neville rested a hand lightly on her arm. Looking back at him, she nodded again, this time more softly. Together, the two returned to the fight.
Harry, it's time, Ginny informed her husband. Across the hall, Harry knew what she meant. All the horcruxes were taken care of. There was only one piece of Voldemort's soul left to deal with. He dispatched of the Death Eater he had been fighting, and turned to face the Dark Lord. _ _ _ Chapter 19 Disclaimer: Not mine As soon as Harry turned to the Dark Lord, Voldemort casually blasted aside the trio of women he had been fighting, catching them by surprise.
All three were sent flying back several feet, and took a few seconds to stand. Harry was relieved that they were able to do so, as it indicated no serious injuries. He had no more time for errant thoughts though, as the Dark Lord immediately engaged him in combat, and it required all of his hard-earned fighting skills to keep him at bay.
Bellatrix seemed to take a page out of her master's book, and used a wide-sweeping hex to send her adversaries back. She then turned to face Amelia, who was currently trying to quickly bandage up the broken arm she had received when Voldemort had blasted her away. The witch was only a few feet away, and the Minister knew she couldn't hope to stave off the woman as she was, when help arrived.
Bellatrix grinned maniacally at the trio of Longbottoms, who were all looking at her with contempt and anger. She threw out a few taunts, but none of the Longbottoms rose to the bait, and simply started firing.
They would not let her hurt their family any more. She had taken away so many years of their lives; she had hurt so many people. They were not going to let the woman walk away from this fight.
Harry was concentrating hard on his opponent, but he was not unaware of the battle raging around him. He felt his heart clench painfully in fear for the Longbottoms. Nearby, Molly and Arthur were bringing down Dolohov, and Sirius had just felled Avery.
Fighting back to back with his oldest friend, Remus worked to defeat Fenrir Greyback. A short distance away from her fiancé, Tonks was busy battling two Death Eaters at once, and clearly giving them a run for their money. Like her fiancé and cousin, her face showed nothing but grim determination. Neither Harry nor Voldemort was able to make much headway. Still, Harry knew he couldn't hold this up forever.
That's what I'm here for, Ginny commented, materializing at his side and throwing her weight behind a Reducto, which Voldemort managed to block with a shield, but only just. Harry smiled slightly, and turned his attention back to the fight with renewed purpose.
It was pretty easy for them to see that Voldemort was growing more worried as the fight dragged on. He had been able to hold off Harry, but the two of them together were just… better. More powerful. Not that he would ever admit it. Around the hall, people were stopping to watch the main battle, having taken care of most of the Death Eaters and finding less opposition than before. Amelia and Susan brought Mulciber down together, getting revenge for Susan's parents and sister.
Hagrid, who had arrived in the middle of the fight from the direction of the Forbidden Forest, defeated Macnair by throwing him bodily into the far wall of the Hall. The man who had almost executed Buckbeak did not rise. Kingsley was the one who managed to land a hit to drop Malfoy Sr, while Blaise and Daphne working together put Malfoy Jr. down. A part of Harry noticed all of this, but it was only when Draco fell, unconscious, that he really paid attention.
His eyes were drawn back to the wand in Voldemort's hand. He had never really made it a mission to study other people's wands, but he could recognize the one Dumbledore had carried. If their theories were correct, that wand was the Elder Wand, which Voldemort had taken from Dumbledore after defeating him. However, Harry was remembering a different incident, nearly a year ago.
He was pulled from his thoughts by a shrill cry from across the Hall. Even Voldemort was distracted, and looked over just in time to see his right-hand woman fall at the hands of all three Longbottoms. The Dark Lord's furry was evident for everyone to see, but Harry and Ginny didn't give him an opportunity to retaliate, immediately drawing his attention back.
"Aren't you wondering, Tom," Harry called, "why you can't beat us?" Voldemort glowered. "Don't call me that!" he snarled. "Lord Voldemort is equal to no one." "And yet, you're making no headway, Tom," Harry replied. Voldemort would not believe that anyone could match him.
Harry glanced back at Malfoy Jr.'s unconscious body, and then returned his attention to the Dark Lord. "I know why that wand won't work," he said simply. That, above all else, paused the Dark Lord's advances. Harry smirked. "It's the Elder Wand, correct?
You took it from Dumbledore last December. The problem is, it wasn't his to command." Ginny looked at him, seeing the direction of his thoughts, and had to hold in a gasp at the implications. Around them, the crowd was watching, confused and concerned. Harry's friends had no idea what he was doing, but were happy that he was fighting well, and was keeping Voldemort off balance.
Harry shrugged. "You see, Tom, Dumbledore only took that wand to keep it from being used the way you want to use it. But when you killed him, he had already lost the wand's allegiance." "What are you talking about?" Voldemort asked suspiciously. "I won the wand.
I killed Dumbledore." "But the wand doesn't pass only by killing," Harry pushed forward. "The previous owner only needs to be defeated. And you see, Dumbledore was defeated, almost a year ago. On the Astronomy Tower, he was disarmed by one of your sycophants.
Its new owner was not even aware of the fact that the most dangerous wand in the wizarding world had switched allegiance to him." Voldemort glanced at the Death Eaters that had been there that night. His gaze fell on Malfoy Jr.
"It is of no matter," he decided. "I will dispatch of you and your pathetic girlfriend, and then take care of Malfoy." Harry shook his head. "You're too late. You see, Malfoy and I fought in the same battle where you killed Dumbledore. I defeated him. If I'm right, that wand belongs to me, now." Voldemort glanced at the wand in his hand, and Harry leaned forward slightly.
"Does the wand know that I am its rightful master? Think about what you're doing, Tom, and try for some remorse. It may be the only thing that will save you." Voldemort sneered, the rage clear on his face. "I am all-powerful, Potter. I am immortal!" Harry shrugged and reached into his pocket, withdrawing the sack full of damaged objects.
He had shrunk it down to fit, and using wandless magic now, he enlarged it as he brought it forward, and tossed it to the floor in front of him. Voldemort's eyes followed the bag, his expression part fury, part curiosity. "We've already found your horcruxes, Tom. They're all destroyed." Harry hadn't thought it was possible for Voldemort to get paler, but he certainly did in that instant. Around them, the crowd murmured restlessly. Several of them knew what a horcrux was, and were astounded, not only that the Dark Lord had used them, but that Harry and his friends had been spending the last few months hunting them.
Suddenly, they knew why the group of teenagers had removed themselves from view. With a vengeful cry, Voldemort raised the wand that did not belong to him, and screamed, "Avada Kedavra!" At the same moment, Harry raised his faithful holly and phoenix feather wand, and returned fire.
"Expelliarmus!" The two spells connected, battling in the middle for dominance. Harry gripped his wand tightly, throwing all of his concentration into that one spell. The green of the Killing Curse was more powerful, however, and slowly, Harry was losing ground.
A moment later, Ginny slipped her small hand into Harry's free one, and added her own power. Together, the combined force of Harry and Ginny reversed the tables, and before he even knew what had happened, Voldemort was thrown back by the blast of the rebounding Killing Curse. The Elder Wand arced high into the air, before falling back to Earth, into the hand of the master it would not kill.
Harry caught it in the same hand he had been holding his own wand in, his left hand refusing to let go of Ginny. The entire Hall stared uncomprehendingly at the broken figure of the former Dark Lord Voldemort, lying spread-eagled on the ground.
It took several moments for them to break out of their shock, before they all gave gleeful cries and surged forward, searching for friends and family they had lost contact with in the fight. Sirius and Minerva immediately rushed towards Harry, grasping him in a tight hug. Next to them, Molly and Arthur reached Ginny and proceeded to give her the same treatment. "Thank Merlin," Molly sobbed, clutching her daughter desperately. Ginny smiled into her mother's embrace. She had missed her parents so much.
The rest of the Weasleys arrived a moment later, and threw themselves into a group hug. "It's really over?" Arthur asked, pulling back and looking between his daughter and son-in-law, who was still in the clutches of Minerva and Sirius. Harry nodded confidently. "Voldemort's dead. It's over." Molly started sobbing again, as she reached over and pulled Harry towards her, hugging him with all her might. "Oh, we were so worried," she murmured.
Harry patted her back comfortingly, but didn't reply. He knew they could have probably done things differently, but the truth was, they had done the best they could with the information they had, and everything had worked out in the end. Minerva disappeared briefly, returning with Amelia and Susan in tow. Neville and his parents followed soon after, as did Daphne and Blaise.
Luna came down from the Astronomy Tower as soon as she heard that the battle was over. She had been disappointed to have to stay away from the fight when all of her friends were down here, but Harry had asked her to keep an eye out for surprises with the Marauder's Map, and she knew that her job had been just as important.
Minerva and Amelia had a brief conversation, before the Minister began directing Aurors to remove the Death Eaters to the new prison, and get their injured to St.
Mungos. She also told them to remove the deceased Death Eaters. Minerva cast a Sonorus Charm, gaining the attention of everyone around her as her amplified voice reached all corners.
"If everyone will make their way into the Great Hall, I will see about getting a meal prepared." She released the charm, and with one last hug for Harry, headed down to the kitchen to see if any house elves were still in residence, and whether or not they would be able to whip something up. Slowly, the crowd moved in the direction of the Great Hall.
They took seats at the tables, not paying attention to House boundaries. Harry's group took up a good portion of the Gryffindor table. He and Ginny were immediately surrounded by their friends and all of the Weasleys, along with Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Alice, and Frank. As they were all taking seats, more people arrived those who had been left at the Alley. Snape and Narcissa were unsure of where to place themselves, until Harry waved them over, and they were immediately absorbed by that group, not even thinking about the fact that they were sitting at the Gryffindor table.
Andromeda and Ted immediately joined their daughter and future son-in-law, and Cyrus and Druella joined their children, with Cyrus assuring a near-hysterical Daphne that he had sent a message to Astoria to let the younger girl know that the fighting was over. Most of the DA tried to crowd in as well, but eventually, there were no more seats, and people had to sit at other tables. Professors Flitwick, Vector, and Babbling had been at the Alley as well, so they came in and sat together at the Ravenclaw table.
Amelia and Kingsley joined Harry's group after a few minutes, having taken care of delegating tasks to the Aurors. Slipping into a seat next to Sirius, Amelia informed them of the situation beyond the doors. "All of the surviving Death Eaters have been removed to the new prison until trial," she said, catching their attention. "Those that are injured will be seen to in the prison's hospital wing.
All told, I believe there are around twenty to thirty injuries that will need to be tended to." "What about injuries for us?" Harry asked, looking around at the room. Most of those who had been fighting were there, and though all of them appeared to be rather dirty, he didn't see any major wounds.
Many people seemed to be sporting small cuts and scrapes, and he saw a lot of bruises, but no one who was in desperate need of a healer. Amelia bit her lip. "The serious ones have been taken to St. Mungos. There were around ten serious, and thirty minor to moderate at the Ministry. Sirius, what about the Alley?" Sirius sighed. "From what I could tell, around twenty injuries, total. I left before they had finished cleaning up, though. Snape and Narcissa would be the ones to ask." Amelia and Harry nodded, before Amelia continued.
"We sent six to St. Mungos from here; I don't think they were life threatening, but they will need to be seen to soon. The minor injuries, I believe can wait until after people eat.
It has been a long day." Harry snorted, while Sirius and several others around them outright laughed. Sobering, Harry asked about any deaths. Amelia sighed. "I don't have a final number yet, but at least four." They all spared a moment of silence for those they had lost, and then felt guilty at their happiness that none of their close friends and family had been amongst the casualties.
Minerva entered the room, and stopped by the Gryffindor table briefly. "I contacted the professors who weren't involved today, and let them know the situation," she said softly, resting a hand on Harry's shoulder. "They will be here shortly." She glanced around the crowded Hall. "Poppy was still assisting at the Alley last I heard, but she will be here soon." She glanced at the healers in the group Snape, Narcissa, Andromeda, and Druella.
"Would you all be willing to check the minor injuries once everyone has eaten?" They all nodded their agreement, and Minerva continued on to the dais at the front of the room. The crowd fell silent as she walked, knowing that she wanted to address them. Once she reached the dais, Minerva turned around and faced the mass of people around her. She smiled softly. "Thank you, everyone. I promise I will make this brief. I have spoken with the house elves, most of whom are still in residence and more than happy to whip up a meal for us.
It should be ready soon, so please be patient. In the meantime, I wished to say a few things, and I'm sure some others would like to talk as well." Her gaze sought out Harry and Amelia, silently inviting them to speak if they wanted to. "Everyone here fought bravely and valiantly, and I thank you all for your willingness and assistance in the battle, both here and at the Ministry and Diagon Alley.
I would like to take a moment to remember those who gave their lives for this cause, and be thankful that the count was not higher." There was the requested moment of silence, before Minerva took a deep breath. "Everyone please enjoy the meal, and feel free to depart whenever you wish.
Those of you sporting injuries, please stay behind; we have Healers who will be checking over those who require it once the meal concludes. I will be speaking with the professors and the Board of Governors later, and I will inform the students of our decision regarding the remainder of the school year as soon as we make one." She made her way back down the Gryffindor table and took a seat near Harry. Amelia squeezed Sirius' hand briefly, before she stood up and walked to the front of the room.
"I would also like to thank everyone for their involvement." She smiled slightly. "I know the last few months have been difficult, but it is over now, thanks to all of you. Everyone in this room will be getting an Order of Merlin for their aide, but I know that cannot completely take away the months of fear and anguish.
We have all lost a great deal, be it family, friends, or simply time. Nothing can replace that void, but we have all come through. Look around you. Everyone in this room has given a part of themselves to the fight.
We have supported each other, leaned on each other, and our victory is due to each and every person here. Thank you." She returned to her seat, and after some prompting from Ginny, Harry stood up with a grimace.
All eyes were riveted to him as he made his way up the aisle to the dais. When he looked out at the group of people surrounding him, he swallowed harshly.
"I'm not sure what I can say that hasn't already been said," he admitted. "I know none of you really understood why we launched this attack today, but you came when called nonetheless. I can't thank you enough for making it possible for us to beat Voldemort today." There was a collective flinch at the name of the former feared Dark Lord. Harry knew it would take time for that fear to diminish. "Everyone here was a part of this victory." He bit his lip, and flushed at the attention, before he muttered something unintelligible and returned to his seat.
Ginny hugged him lightly, and a moment later, masses of food appeared on each table, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. The meal was light and enjoyable, talk filling the room as people replenished themselves after a hard fought victory. The rest of the professors and the Board of Governors arrived while people were eating, and joined in, integrating easily with the crowd. Augusta immediately joined her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, hugging each of them with relief. She had wanted to fight as well, but Frank had asked her to remain at McGonagall Castle; he knew she could probably hold her own, but after having lost her or rather, after her having lost him for so many years, he told her he would feel better knowing that she was safe.
And Augusta couldn't deny him, not now that she finally had him back. So she had agreed to wait behind, with nothing to do but worry, until the Patronus from Minerva had come, informing her of the victory, and inviting her to Hogwarts. As people began to finish, they said goodbyes to friends, and started departing, heading for their homes.
Those with injuries that they couldn't handle themselves congregated around the Ravenclaw table. Once the Healers had finished eating, they immediately made their way over to the group, and began to assess the injuries.
When Harry and his group were done, Minerva implored them all to return to McGonagall Castle, promising to be along once she was finished with her meeting. Amelia requested to attend, so the two women gathered up the professors and the Board, and left for the headmaster's office. A nod from Narcissa assured Severus that they would be fine without him, so he quickly joined the group headed out of the Hall. XXX It was a spacious office, once the objects Dumbledore had had on display were removed.
Minerva put them all in a magically expanded trunk to go over later, before conjuring seats for the group. "Thank you all for coming," she greeted.
"I thought we should have a meeting to discuss what to do with the students. They have missed out on months of education, but I do not like the idea of simply holding everyone back a year, or half a year. I am open to suggestions." "Perhaps we can condense the last term?" Flitwick suggested. Snape raised an eyebrow. "Condense a whole term into a couple of months?" Flitwick shook his head.
"Of course not," he argued. "We can extend the term another month or so. The students will have to contend with a shortened summer holiday, but by September First, everyone should be caught up." Minerva furrowed her brow, thinking.
"That sounds reasonable," she allowed. "What does everyone else think?" It took the rest of the afternoon, but by the time they all headed home, they had a plan worked out, and everyone was pleased with what had been decided.
XXX When Minerva, Amelia, Snape, and Augusta returned to McGonagall Castle, they found everyone waiting for them. Minerva supposed she wasn't completely surprised, though she had thought they might start to disperse for their own homes, having been away from them for so long. They all settled in the dining room eating light snacks, as none of them were really too hungry, having just eaten a large meal a few hours earlier. While they ate, Minerva informed the group of what had been decided.
"We will begin the second term immediately following what would have been the Easter break," the Transfiguration Mistress said between bites. "The term will carry through July, and tests will be taken at the end of July and the beginning of August." "It sounds doable," Harry considered. "You'll be shortening the classes, right?" Minerva nodded. "Of course. It will still take a lot of effort from the students, but we won't expect you all to do an entire term's worth of work in half the time." Since that appeared to be all decided, over the rest of the meal, Harry and the others shared the details of their few months alone, and their horcrux hunt.
Some of them had to be informed of what a horcrux was, and once they knew, were even more horrified.
By the time they finished their tale, it was late evening, and everyone was exhausted. After praising Harry and the others for their actions, they all dispersed, heading for their separate homes. Ginny didn't want to leave Harry. They had been sleeping together for so long, she didn't want to have to try and go to bed without him.
Even without reading his mind, she knew that Harry felt the same way. They wondered if they could argue the point with their guardians, and if it was worth it.
Ginny bit her lip, knowing that she wouldn't get a good night's sleep if Harry wasn't next to her, and after hearing that thought, Harry immediately turned to their guardians. "Ginny's going to stay here tonight," he informed them. Molly opened her mouth to protest, but Harry shook his head. "We don't want to be separated, and we won't be." Arthur rested a hand on his wife's arm, and nodded austerely. "We will come back for breakfast tomorrow, then.
We'll see you in the morning." Molly looked at him imploringly, but Arthur shook his head, subtly reminding her that they didn't really have a say. Defeated, Molly gave her daughter another hug before she followed her husband to the Floo. Sirius and Minerva didn't comment, thankfully, and simply said their good nights, before Sirius and Amelia returned to the Bones Estate with Susan, and Minerva headed up to her own bedroom.
Once in Harry's bedroom, Ginny immediately dropped down onto the bed. One thing you've been awfully quiet on is the Elder wand, she observed, watching her husband carefully. Harry grimaced, and pulled out the wand. He had been thinking about it all day, but he could only think of one thing to do with it. He looked back at Ginny; she was watching him knowingly, with an approving smile on her face.
He shrugged. I don't want it, he said simply. Ginny nodded, and Harry sighed, before gripping the wand tightly in both hands, and snapping it cleanly in half.
He thought he heard a phantom cry come from the piece of wood, but he didn't worry about it. After placing the pieces on his dresser, he joined Ginny in the bed. It was the right thing to do, she reassured him. Harry nodded tiredly. The wand was too powerful. And after today, too many people knew I had it. I'll burn the pieces tomorrow. So now that's decided, time for bed, Ginny commanded. Harry smiled. Yes, dear. XXX Early the next morning found Amelia and Sirius arriving at the Ministry for a meeting with all of the Department heads.
There were a few vacancies, but Amelia sent out requests for the highest-ranking individuals from those offices to join them. She had given Kingsley a field promotion to Head of the DMLE after Rufus Scrimgeour had been killed in December, so she at least didn't have to worry about that. Just walking into the Ministry, they could tell it would take a while to get the place sorted out, even with magic.
They met up on level one, and immediately started setting up a schedule to work on cleaning and sorting out each department. The next thing they had to deal with was setting up trials for the Death Eaters. Even if they were all most likely guilty, Amelia would not let anyone be sent to prison without a trial. Not after what had happened to her husband. They arranged for the trials to begin the next week, after they had a chance to get started on the cleaning efforts, and get the Ministry sorted out a little more.
They all wanted everything to be taken care of as soon as possible, but knew that it would take time to do it right. XXX Harry couldn't hold in his groan as he sat down at the breakfast table that morning, only to be confronted with the article that took up the entire front page of the Daily Prophet.
It was all about the defeat of Voldemort, and hailed Harry as a savior, Merlin, and Dumbledore all rolled into one. Ginny commiserated, as she knew how much he hated the fame. The rest of their friends Flooed over for breakfast, and both consoled and playfully mocked Harry for the article.
After eating, they spent the day out on the grounds, enjoying the beautiful spring air, and reveling in the fact that they no longer had to worry about a war, or a Dark Lord bent on killing them all.
It was somewhat startling for them to realize that for the first time, they could just be teenagers, and then to not understand how to do that. After spending several hours playing Quidditch or just flying around, they broke off into groups. Harry and Ginny wandered away from the rest, wanting to spend some time alone to talk. They took a seat underneath a tree that bordered the Pitch, Harry resting against the trunk and Ginny leaning into his chest as his arms encircled her. "I like this," Ginny murmured sleepily, the warmth of the sun making her drowsy.
"I like just being with you, without having to worry about planning an attack, or finding a horcrux." Harry nodded agreeably. "Yeah," he smiled. "And just think, we can do this for the rest of our lives." Ginny sat up a little, and reached up to remove the necklace she wore Disillusioned around her neck. She pulled off the engagement ring and studied it in her hands. "I want to wear this," she said abruptly, glancing back at her husband.
"The war is over, we don't have to hide it anymore." Harry nodded quickly. "I want you to wear it," he said. She surrendered the ring to him when he reached for it, and let him slide it gently onto her finger. "We belong together, Gin. This ring was meant for you to display. I want the world to know that you're mine." "I'm always yours," Ginny leaned over and gave him a kiss.
They were silent for a few minutes, before Harry sighed. "I want you to wear both rings," he admitted. "But can you imagine the questions if people knew that we're already married?" Ginny nodded. "That's why I'm only wearing one," she informed him. "As soon as I turn seventeen though, the world will know." Harry bit his lip.
"I think we should have a real ceremony." Ginny raised an eyebrow. "Why? We're already married." Harry shrugged. "Still. I think one of the hardest things about this for your mum is the fact that she won't get to plan a wedding, because we're already married.
And we should have that ceremony so people won't ask questions about how or why we got married so quickly." Ginny considered for a moment, letting herself think about an actual ceremony, with her in a white dress, and bridesmaids, groomsmen, a crowd of wedding guests.
Almost against her will, she found herself wanting that. She nodded slowly. "All right," she allowed, but knew that Harry had seen how much she had warmed up to the idea.
"We'll talk to Sirius, Minerva, and your parents tonight," Harry said simply, before settling back down and pulling her with him. They spent the remainder of the day relaxing in the sunlight. XXX As soon as Sirius and Amelia returned to the Castle shortly before dinner, Harry asked Sirius, Minerva, Molly, and Arthur to join them in the library to speak privately. Eventually, he knew that the group would stop spending all their time together, but for the moment, they were all reluctant to return to their homes.
Fred and George had spent the day in the Alley, helping with cleanup and getting their shop back together. Bill and Fleur had also been assisting in the Alley, while Arthur had begun helping with the cleanup at the Ministry. Charlie had gone with his brothers to help, as he didn't need to be back at the dragon reserve for a while. Frank and Alice had spent the day at the Ministry, while Augusta, Remus, and all three Tonkses had been at the Alley.
But once the day was over, they all returned to McGonagall Castle, and each other. Concerned, the adults followed Harry and Ginny as the pair took a seat on one of the couches in the library. Once they were settled, Harry took a deep breath, before he informed them of the decision he and Ginny had reached that morning. Understandably, they were a little concerned about Ginny wearing the ring in public, but knew they didn't really have a say.
Even without the soul bond, since Ginny was sixteen, Harry could formally ask her parents for permission to become engaged to their underage daughter. Molly was thrilled that she could help her daughter plan a wedding. "Oh dear, it will be so wonderful!" she cried, hugging the couple tightly. Ginny nodded, understanding now what Harry had been saying. Minerva smiled and hugged them both when Molly pulled back. "Have you thought about when you want the ceremony?" she asked curiously.
Harry and Ginny shared a look. "Ginny turns seventeen at the beginning of August, so after that. Before Ginny goes back for her seventh year." They all agreed, and promised to help with the details of the ceremony, before they left the library, heading down to the dining room to join the rest for dinner. _ _ _ Chapter 20 Disclaimer: don't own The days before the students were to return to school dwindled, with everyone acclimating themselves to an environment where fear didn't rule, and there wasn't the potential for a Death Eater attack around every corner.
Harry and his friends returned to Lion's Castle to gather their belongings, which took nearly an entire day, as things had become so spread out; they were picking up random shirts and books from nearly every corner of the Castle. Amelia and Sirius spent a good deal of time at the Ministry, rebuilding and getting the government back up and running in the public eye once more.
Minerva spent most of her time at Hogwarts, working with the professors and the Board of Directors to condense the courses for the shortened term. She had been officially promoted to headmistress as soon as the Board could confirm it, and immediately offered Filius her former place as Deputy. She came home a week before school was to start again, and requested a private conversation with both Sirius and Remus. The two Marauders were understandably concerned, and only got more confused as the newly proclaimed headmistress asked them both to return to the school to teach.
"My goal is to overhaul the Hogwarts curriculum," Minerva explained. "I am searching for a new History professor, but that may take some time. I am also working on updating some courses, such as Astronomy and Muggle Studies, but again, that will take time. For right now though, I need professors." Sirius frowned. "I don't get it. We both taught Defense, and you already have a Defense professor." Minerva sighed. "Horace has told me that he wishes to return to retirement, which means I must ask Severus to take on his previous position as Potions professor.
With my promotion, I find myself in need of a Transfiguration professor, and Sirius, after James and Lily, you were the best in your class in that subject." Sirius was startled. He hadn't even thought about that possibility. After a moment of silence, he nodded. "All right, but just for this term. If you really need me back next year, I will do it, but I don't fancy myself the teacher type." Minerva shook her head fondly.
"You really have no idea how much the students enjoyed learning from you," she said, amused. "Very well, I will endeavor to find someone else for next year.
Thank you, Sirius." Sirius inclined his head. "Thanks." Remus bit his lip. "I'd love to return, Minerva, but what about my condition?" Minerva chuckled. "The Board has already approved the placement. Something about your Defense scores having been the highest recorded in nearly fifty years." Remus flushed.
"I'm not sure about that, but I'm happy to return. I loved teaching." Minerva smiled gratefully. "Thank you. I would also like to ask you to take over as head of Gryffindor." She looked at Sirius.
"I would consider you, but I know you wish to continue to reside with your wife at the Bones Estate. Not to mention you have already stated you do not wish to take this position long term." Sirius nodded in understanding, and after a moment of shocked silence, Remus stuttered out an affirmative.
Minerva inclined her head. "Again, thank you. I shall speak with you soon about arrangements." Remus bit his lip. "There's one more thing, though… Before school starts again, Tonks and I want to get married." Sirius grinned and clapped his friend on the back.
"Finally!" he exclaimed. "I don't know why you put it off for so long." Remus shrugged. "We just kept saying we'll do it soon, and then…" he sighed. "Yeah. With the war, we just kept pushing it back.
But we want to do it this weekend, before the kids return to school. And it just makes more sense now, so that she can move into Hogwarts with me. We don't want anything big, just family and close friends.
We're going to ask Amelia to perform the ceremony." "Anyone else you'd like to ask something…?" Sirius prompted, a huge grin on his face. Remus rolled his eyes. "I thought it was pretty much implied, but sure. Sirius, would you be my best man?" Sirius' grin got, if possible, wider. "You know it, Mooney." Minerva smiled fondly at her former students and good friends. "Would you like to have the ceremony here?" Remus nodded. "We should speak with the house elves about the meal and decorations tonight, then.
Congratulations, Remus." All three of them headed down to the dining room, where the rest of the group was gathered, and shared the good news. Everyone was ecstatic, and couldn't wait. Remus and Tonks accepted congratulations with humility, excited to finally be married after so long. XXX Amelia and the Ministry had begun trials for the Death Eaters just a few days after the battle at Hogwarts, which meant Sirius and Harry spent most of their days in the large courtroom the Wizengamot used for their sessions.
Frank, Druella, and Cyrus were likewise occupied. Though Harry had taken on the role of Head of House Potter the summer before, he couldn't take over his seat on the Wizengamot until he turned twenty-five. However, he and Sirius both felt that Harry should be there anyway, just in case his presence was needed, and so that he could get an idea of what being a member of that council would entail.
For the same reason, Blaise was also shadowing his mother throughout the trials. One by one, all criminals were sentenced to time in prison. Most of them were life sentences, though a few trials turned up evidence of the Imperius Curse, or other such methods that had forced someone to carry out crimes they normally wouldn't even consider.
These people, depending on the case, received reduced sentences or probation, rather than hard time. There were a few special circumstances; Snape and Narcissa both had to appear before the Wizengamot to defend their actions, and both received official pardons for their services in the war.
By the end of the week, all of the Death Eaters had been dealt with, and the Ministry was breathing a little easier. The building had been mostly cleaned up, and all departments were running relatively smoothly. Amelia's next task was commissioning Order of Merlins.
Everyone who fought in the final battle received a Third Class. Those who had helped significantly more Sirius, Remus, Kingsley, Snape, Narcissa, Tonks, Andromeda, Ted, Minerva, Fred, George, Bill, Fleur, Frank, Alice, Molly, Arthur, Druella, Cyrus, and Cedric received a Second Class. Cedric had been surprised, since he hadn't thought he had helped much more than anyone else, but Amelia assured him that his actions in organizing and leading the DA during the final battle more than warranted the award.
Harry and his friends Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Susan, Luna, Blaise, and Daphne received a First Class award. There was to be an awards ceremony at the Ministry the day before everyone would return to school. Harry wasn't exactly looking forward to it, but he knew he didn't have a choice in attending.
XXX Two days before the start of the new term, Remus and Tonks wed in a small intimate ceremony on the grounds of McGonagall Castle. The guest list was limited, including only their close friends and family. Amelia was there, performing the ceremony; Sirius was Remus' best man, and Tonks asked Ginny to be her maid of honor, to the young redhead's excitement.
Andromeda and Ted were ecstatic to see their daughter wed the man of her dreams. Kingsley, Minerva, the other teenagers, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Fred, George, Augusta, Frank, Alice, Molly, Arthur, Poppy, Snape, and Narcissa attended as well. Minerva gave special permission for Filius, Pomona, and Hagrid to enter the grounds so that they could attend the ceremony, as none of them were keyed into the wards.
The garden was decorated beautifully, in yellows and lavenders. Bunches of the small purple flowers were spread out between the seats and on the alter. It gave off a wonderful spring wedding feel. Remus looked years younger as he stood up in front of the small crowd.
Sirius, next to him, couldn't contain his excitement at his best friend's big day. For years, he had wanted Remus to find someone to spend the rest of his life with, and he was even happier that that woman was his cousin.
Remus had always been like a brother to him, and now they really would be family. Ginny came down the aisle first, wearing a familiar dress.
Tonks wasn't the most organized person, and hadn't even thought about a maid of honor until just the day before the ceremony, when Remus had been complaining about Sirius' disappointment that the werewolf wouldn't allow him to throw his best friend a stag party. She had quickly asked Ginny, but there really hadn't been time to find and alter a dress for her, so she had taken the dress from Bill and Fleur's wedding, and charmed it to be lavender-colored.
Harry didn't care what color the dress was, she was beautiful in both. When Tonks walked down the aisle, her father on one side, her mother on the other, more than one guest could see Remus choke up, tears of happiness in his eyes.
The Auror had chosen to leave her hair in its natural honey color for the day. The dress was a modified sweetheart neckline with thin off the shoulder sleeves, and a tea-length A-line cut skirt that accented her curves perfectly.
When asked later, Tonks would blush and say she had picked her wedding dress out two days after Remus had proposed, and kept it in the back of her closet ever since. The ceremony was a blur for Remus, but he was fairly certain he hadn't made any big mistakes, and soon enough, he was kissing his new wife to loud applause. Everyone had a great time that evening, dancing, enjoying good food, and relaxing in the pleasant atmosphere. XXX The next day was long and trying for Harry, who had to stay seated at the front of a large crowd at the Ministry, and listen to several speeches about bravery and honor.
Amelia had apologized to him in private, knowing how much he would hate this, but also knowing that they needed to recognize the achievement. They had just gone through a war, and the wizarding world needed to see its heroes. Truth be told, she hated it nearly as much as Harry, but she understood why it was necessary. Harry did as well, but that didn't stop him from groaning about it in private. At least, it didn't until Ginny slapped him upside the head and told him to get over himself, put on a winning smile, and deal with it.
The press was there en masse, and Harry knew that the next cover of the Prophet would once more feature him, much to his consternation. Finally, finally, it was over, and they were allowed to go home. Harry immediately threw his Order of Merlin in a drawer, only to have it taken out a moment later by Ginny. She frowned at him. "I know you don't like it, Harry, but you did a great thing, and you should be proud of that. This is a recognition of what you've achieved. What we've all achieved." Harry opened his mouth, but Ginny cut him off.
"Don't dishonor those who gave their lives to see this day by disrespecting this award or making light of this achievement." Harry sighed reluctantly, but nodded, and let Ginny place the award on his desk. She put hers next to it, and the two headed down to the dining room to join the rest.
It was a calm meal, only broken when Minerva asked the teenagers to come to Hogwarts directly in the morning, rather than arrive on the train with the rest. She didn't want to cause any issues, and worried about what their presence might do, especially with the awarding of the Order of Merlins that day, and the article in the Prophet that was sure to follow. Aurors would patrol the train, but they weren't expecting trouble. Minerva just wanted to use caution.
They agreed, and soon after, everyone headed back to their respective homes to get some rest. After all, the new term started the next day. XXX Harry and Ginny were up early getting ready, even though they knew they wouldn't really need to be at Hogwarts for another few hours.
They dressed and headed down to the dining room, their packed trunks in tow. They were joined shortly by Sirius and Minerva, and soon after that, the rest of the teenagers. Once everyone had eaten, they all took the Floo to the headmistress' office at Hogwarts.
Minerva promised to see them all for lunch, and the group disappeared down the stairs, heading for the DA lounge, where they spent the morning reading through textbooks in preparation for the new term, or mock-dueling, playing chess, and various other leisurely activities.
They ate lunch with the professors in the Great Hall, before returning to the lounge. Later in the afternoon, they separated to their respective Houses to unpack, before meeting back in the Great Hall just as the train arrived in Hogsmeade. As the students began to arrive, they all flocked around the large group sitting at one end of the Gryffindor table. None of them had been seen on the train, and people had been worried.
Hugs were passed around between friends, and many people thanked the group in loud voices that echoed around the Hall. Harry was nearly bowled over by the combined force of Sheila and Evan, who clung to him tightly, finally letting go of the worry that had cropped up when they hadn't seen him on the train.
A short distance away, Hannah almost slammed into Susan when she saw her oldest friend. She had been so worried when Susan had all but disappeared after the battle in December. And she hadn't really been able to talk to her after everything had ended a couple of weeks ago, as Susan pretty much disappeared once more.
Susan returned the gesture willingly. She had missed her friend as well. Many of their classmates were giving the group the same treatment, and after a few minutes, Minerva had to let loose a firecracker from the end of her wand to get the students' attention and ask them to take their seats.
The non-Gryffindors all left for their House tables, which was strange for Susan, Luna, Blaise, and Daphne; they had been spending so much time with their Gryffindor friends, it would be an adjustment to not do so anymore.
They had many of the same classes, but they would be sleeping in different parts of the castle, eating with their own Houses, and spending more time in their House common rooms.
Minerva waited a few minutes for everyone to sit down before she addressed the students. She smiled softly, happy to see them all at the school once more, safe and no longer living under such an oppressive threat. "Welcome back, everyone," she greeted.
"You are all hungry, so I will keep this short. I know you will all be very busy over the next few months. The professors have condensed their classes to contend with the shortened term. The term will run until the last week of July. Final exams, as well as OWLs and NEWTs, will take place in the last week of July and the first week of August. I apologize for the short summer period, but the new year will begin on September First, as usual." There was some groaning, and Minerva shook her head knowingly.
"I understand. We have decided to include a mid-term breakjust a week, in November, because it is not fair to you to make you go so long without a real chance to relax." The students looked happier at that, and Minerva nodded sharply. "I would like to remind you of your Head Boy and Girl, Mr. Potter and Ms. Bones. Should you need anything, they are here to help. My last announcement. As you may have noticed, Professor Slughorn is absent.
He has decided to return to retirement, so I am happy to announce that Professor Snape has reprised his role as Potions professor." There was quite a bit of clapping at that, which surprised Snape, as he had never been the most likeable man, even after he had mellowed out a few years previously. Minerva smiled. "You may also recognize two additions to the staff.
Professor Lupin is back to take over the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, as well as the role of Head of Gryffindor." There was a considerable amount of clapping for the professor who had been one of the best the students could remember. "Professor Black will be taking over for me as Transfiguration professor." The students all cheered loudly for the other great Defense professor they had had, and Minerva's smile widened.
Who would have guessed when she had been pulling her hair out over that group of pranksters, that two of them would become such role models for the students? When the crowd had calmed down, Minerva continued. "You may also see a woman sitting up here from time to time. Professor Lupin recently married his fiancée, Auror Tonks. Both will be residing in the castle." There was more cheering for the now tomato-colored man, though they could all see his proud grin at the mention of his new wife.
Minerva glanced back at him and shot him a subtle smirk. "Now, since I have taken up enough of your time, please, enjoy the meal, and remember, classes start tomorrow morning. You will all receive your schedules at breakfast." Food sprung up on all the tables as Minerva sat down, and the Hall was filled with conversation, as people began talking with their Housemates.
Many of the Gryffindors tried to ask Harry about what he had been doing since December, but the Head Boy refused to answer any questions. He wanted to move on, and he didn't think rehashing the war would do any good right now. All of the questions stopped abruptly when Lavender shrieked loudly. Most of the table as well as a good portion of the other students in the Hall turned to look at her, and she just pointed at Ginny's left hand, which had stopped midway as she reached for a roll.
"Oh my god!" she yelled. "When? How?" Ginny retracted her hand, and looked at Harry. The seventh year shrugged, smiling down at his wife fiancée, to most of the Hall, since they didn't know of the bond. "We're going to get married this summer, once Ginny turns seventeen." They received congratulations from most of their Housemates, many of whom also asked if they were invited, which rather annoyed the couple.
Finally, Harry put an end to the questions. "We haven't begun planning yet, but we just want a small ceremony, family only. I'm sorry." People expressed disappointment, but thankfully didn't press further, and returned to their meals. Eventually, everyone had eaten their fill, and began a mass exodus of the Hall, heading to their common rooms. Harry gave the Gryffindors the password ("Victory"), and they entered the common room.
"It feels weird to be back here," Dean commented idly, looking around the comfortable room. It had been cleaned up well, and it was impossible to tell that the Death Eaters had trashed it after taking over the castle.
"Tell me about it," Ron grumbled. "I can't believe we have to be in school all summer." Hermione rolled her eyes. "Grow up, Ron. We're graduating in August, so it's not like you have to be back here September First, like the younger years." Ron brightened considerably.
"True," he replied, to general amusement. Most of the House crowded in the common room for a while longer, talking and laughing. It was so strange, and so wonderful, to not have to fret about family members who may be in danger, about being in danger themselves… for the first time for many of them, they could just be children.
They didn't have to worry about a war, and whether or not they would be reading about a relative's death or disappearance in the paper the next morning. Finally, after several hours, Harry suggested that they all get some rest. When people protested, he shook his head. "It's been a while since we've been in a structured school setting. It's going to take some getting used to, and no one will be able to do much learning if you're falling asleep in class tomorrow." There was more grumbling, but the students began to trickle upstairs willingly, seeing the wisdom in his words.
It had been months since they had had to live by a set schedule of classes. It would be an adjustment, but many of them were looking forward to it, strangely enough.
Harry and Ginny spent a few more minutes in the common room, saying good night to Ron, Hermione, and Neville, before the couple disappeared into Harry's single room. Looking around the spacious room that Harry had as Head Boy, Ginny smiled softly. It's good to be back, she commented. Harry glanced over at her and drew her into a hug, kissing the top of her head lovingly. It is, he agreed.
_ _ _ Chapter 21 Disclaimer: don't own Hogwarts jumped into the new term feet first the next morning. Classes started right off, and soon enough, most of the students were starting to get used to the flow once more. Sirius and Remus were once more huge hits as professors; all of the students agreed by the end of the first day that those two were fun and made class interesting. They hadn't had Sirius as a Transfiguration professor before, but he was just as knowledgeable on that subject as he had been on Defense.
The first few days were challenging, as it had been a while since the students had had to sit in a classroom. By midweek, however, it was almost as if the lengthy break hadn't taken place.
One thing that Harry had been thinking about was Quidditch. It wasn't possible to play out the rest of the season, but he thought they should still get a chance to have a few games. He spoke with Ron about it, and the redhead agreed wholeheartedly, so Wednesday after supper, Ron and the other Quidditch Captains went to the headmistress' office to discuss the possibility of playing. Minerva heard them out, and then nodded her agreement.
"You are correct that it wouldn't be feasible to finish the season," she commented. "Even if we could hold all the games in the next few months, you will all be busy with your classes, and I do not want extracurricular activities to take you away from your studies.
However, I do believe it would be beneficial to re-form the teams, and allow you to play. How about if we hold a tournament of sorts across two weekends in June, where all teams will play each other.
You may hold practices until then, but please limit it to no more than twice a week. Does that sound acceptable?" The Captains agreed that it was, and were excited to still have a chance to play. They immediately returned to their common rooms to share the news with their teams.
XXX The rest of April and May passed relatively quickly, with classes and homework taking the lead. Quidditch teams began practicing once more, and though they were a little rusty, after a few practices, the teams managed to find the groove that they had been in before the attack in December.
Minerva pulled Harry aside a couple of weeks into May, and informed him that she had contacted a few professional Quidditch scouts, and they would be attending the games in June. Harry passed the information along to the other Quidditch players, who were all excited by the prospect, especially Ron and Ginny. Though Ginny still had another year, this was a chance for scouts to see what she could do, and potentially remember her when she graduated next year.
With the knowledge that scouts would be there, Ron doubled his efforts as Captain, and had them practicing twice a week for as long as he could get away with. He also spent most of his down time, when not completing homework, working on strategies and plays for the team to try at the next practice.
Harry didn't think he wanted to play professionally, though he did recognize that he had a good shot at getting an offer. He loved the game, but he enjoyed playing it in a non-competitive setting more. He much preferred the pick-up games he had played with his friends over holidays, to the school games he had participated in over the last few years.
That wasn't to say he didn't enjoy playing at school, he just liked the more relaxed atmosphere. He didn't want to start playing professionally, and have all the fun leech out of the game. He was still considering his post-graduation options, but liked the idea that Ginny had presented him with, as it would allow him to be with his wife while she completed her schooling.
After that, he wasn't sure, but he did know he wanted to take some time off to relax and unwind, after spending so much of his life being hunted by a Dark Lord. XXX With the busy schedule, school was passing with alarming speed. Before most students even realized it, June had rolled around, and it was time for the much anticipated Quidditch tournament.
It had been decided that the team with the most points at the end of the tournament would be awarded the Quidditch Cup, regardless of any games that had been played the previous term. All four teams agreed that that was fair. Minerva greeted the four scouts as they arrived during breakfast, and offered them seats at the Head table.
As people finished eating, they began to head out to the Pitch. The games would be spread out over the next two weekends, so that there was no time limit, and the players weren't too tired at the end of the day.
First up on Saturday was Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw; Hufflepuff and Slytherin would play each other after lunch. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff would play the next day, after lunch on Sunday.
That would give everyone the morning to ensure their schoolwork was completed. The tournament would pick up the next weekend with the remaining games. As anyone could have predicted, Gryffindor dominated the field that morning.
Ron was in top form in front of the goals, and Ginny led the chasers play after play, racking up the score. Finally, after almost two hours, Harry put the Ravenclaw team out of their misery, cementing their win at 290-80. After a hearty lunch, the school was back out on the field, watching another game.
It was closer, but in the end, Slytherin won out, beating Hufflepuff by fifty points. Sunday's game was close as well, with Ravenclaw coming out victorious, beating the badgers 210-170. Another hard week of classes, and the school was back out on the Pitch, watching the last three games.
Gryffindor and Slytherin played on Saturday morning. Though the snakes had a solid team this year, they couldn't hold up against the dominating force of the lions. Gryffindor won by nearly two hundred points, before they went inside to eat lunch.
After lunch, everyone returned to the field again to watch Ravenclaw and Slytherin. The snakes came out victorious after just over an hour of play. The final game, between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, took place on Sunday afternoon, and only lasted forty five minutes. Harry would have considered drawing the game out more, as his team was really on fire, but the Hufflepuff seeker had seen the snitch as well, leaving Harry with no choice but to give chase.
There really was no contest between the two seekers, and Harry easily won out, cementing the third win for the Gryffindors at 240-30. The Gryffindors flocked to the field to congratulate their team as they landed. The other Houses followed, disappointed, but still happy with the relaxing weekends.
Even if people hadn't been keeping exact tallies of the points, it was pretty obvious that Gryffindor had won the Cup. After ten minutes, the team finally managed to break away to head towards Minerva, who went through the process of presenting them with the Quidditch Cup, and her own congratulations.
Though she may be headmistress now, she would likely always hold a soft spot for her former House's Quidditch team. Once that was done, the team returned to the Pitch, and their celebrating classmates. "Very well played, all of you," Minerva congratulated them once more, following the team into the crowd. She gestured for several strangers to come forward, and left them, knowing that the scouts would have made notes on any players they were interested in. Ginny almost forgot to breathe when she saw that Gwenog Jones was there.
She hadn't noticed the Captain with the scouts before, so she must have come separately and slipped in before the games began, rather than arrived for breakfast like the scouts had done the last two weekends. Gwenog immediately headed up to the sixth year and smiled brightly. "It's nice to see you again, Ginny." Ginny swallowed and nodded shakily.
"You, too," she managed to get out. Gwenog's smile widened slightly. "I know you said you were interested in playing when we met at that Christmas party, but I'm glad to see that you actually have the skills to back that up." Ginny stared. "Really?" Gwenog rolled her eyes. "Modesty is all well and good, but don't pretend you don't know how talented you are." Ginny flushed.
"Sorry. I know I'm good, at school. But it's a whole different game in the professional world." Gwenog inclined her head. "Well, at least you know that." She shook herself off. "Anyway, I just came to these games because I had to see if there was any talent my team should be aware of. I know you have another year left of school, but I'm going to tell my coach what I saw. I wouldn't be surprised if you get another visit from her next year, or even an offer. As Captain of the team, the coach tends to trust my inputs.
And I'm going to tell her that I think you would be a great addition." Ginny beamed. "Really? That would be wonderful!" Gwenog nodded. "I can't guarantee anything, but we will be looking for a new chaser within the next couple of years.
One of our starters is near retirement. I can't promise you'll get that spot, but even if we move one of our reserves up, we will need to fill that position." Ginny smiled. "I'm willing to work my way up," she promised. "I want to earn my spot." Gwenog knew then that they needed this girl.
Someone who didn't automatically expect a handout, and was willing to work hard for her position. It was refreshing, especially considering what this young woman had already done; Gwenog knew that others who had accomplished what Ginny had, may expect preferential treatment.
And she knew they would need to snatch her up before someone else did it first. The professional Quidditch player shook the young chaser's hand firmly, and promised to be in touch, before she disappeared into the crowd, stopping here and there to sign a few autographs. Harry materialized at Ginny's side, and wasted no time in grasping his wife in a tight hug.
I'm so proud of you, he smiled brilliantly. Ginny looked back at him and shrugged with one shoulder.
It's not certain yet, she reminded him. Harry shook his head. It is, he argued. They just have to say that there's no guarantee, in case something happens. You're going to get that spot though, Gin. You're amazing. Ginny sighed, but didn't reply, and the two turned back to their team.
Ron was standing off to one side, talking to a stern-faced middle-aged man. The redhead's expression was part excitement, part seriousness. Harry wondered what was going on, but figured it had to be good; that man was one of the scouts that had come to the games.
Was Ron getting an offer? Ron met his curious gaze briefly, and though he made no actual movement, his eyes said 'later', so Harry led Ginny away.
They would question him that evening. The couple made their way back to the castle at a leisurely pace, as Harry told Ginny about the two scouts who had approached him, but he didn't want to play professionally, so he had turned them down, to their disappointment. Ginny knew Harry was an amazing seeker, but she respected his reasons for not pursuing the career, and knew that he was making a reasonable decision.
XXX Harry was very curious when he didn't see Ron again until dinner. So were the rest of their friends, and when he finally came in partway through the meal, they didn't waste time in asking what had happened.
Ron filled his plate with food, and then looked up at them, beaming widely. "I got an offer!" he informed them. Part of him still couldn't believe it, but after spending the afternoon speaking with the scout, and then the manager of the team, it was getting easier. Things had moved fast, and his head was nearly spinning. Once the scout had convinced him that this was actually happening, they had arranged a short meeting in Hogsmeade, so that he could actually meet the manager of his new team, and get some more details of what signing with them would mean.
Hermione squealed loudly, and threw herself at her boyfriend, hugging him tightly. "Oh congratulations, Ron, I knew you would!" The rest of them congratulated their friend as well, asking for more details. Between bites, Ron told them of his afternoon. He had been approached by the Appleby Arrows, a regional team with a solid record, who were in need of a reserve keeper. He would meet again with the manager, as well as the coach and the owner, after graduation, to finalize details and sign a contract.
It was easy to see Ron's excitement. He had always loved Quidditch, and playing professionally was something he really hadn't thought he'd succeed at, yet here he was. The meal passed pleasantly, with Harry disappearing before the end to go make a request of the house elves. He returned just as dessert was popping up, and dragged Ron away from the table, much to the redhead's disappointment. Strangely enough, most of the Gryffindor table had been leaving early as well; the table was nearly empty when Harry forced Ron to abandon his full bowl of ice cream.
They made their way up to the common room, with Harry moving slower than normal, to draw it out longer and give everyone behind the door a little more time. Soon enough though, they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, and Harry gave the password. Ron entered first, and stopped in his tracks as nearly the entire Gryffindor House met him inside, yelling, "Congratulations!" at the top of their lungs. Hanging over the fireplace was a congratulatory banner, hastily put together but still brilliant.
Dean, as the best artist amongst the older years, had drawn a likeness of Ron on a broom. He had then animated it so that it moved across the banner, weaving in and out of the letters. Off to one side was a table laden with sweets, sent up by the house elves after Harry asked them to provide a dessert feast. Ron gaped for a moment, and then turned back to Harry. "But I only told you at dinner!" Harry shrugged.
"I work fast." Ron beamed a thank you, before he quickly headed over to the desserts and grabbed a bit of everything, piling a plate high with treats. As it was Sunday, the students couldn't spend the entire night partying, so they went to bed at a reasonable hour, after enjoying their dessert party and congratulating Ron on his achievement. Before Ron headed to his room, he turned back to face Harry with a serious expression. "Thanks, Harry. You're a really great friend." Harry smiled. "You're my best mate, Ron.
I'm really happy for you." Ron flushed, but his smile stretched across his face, as he turned and headed up the stairs to the seventh year dorm. XXX As June wound down and July picked up speed, the students were becoming more and more frantic.
Exams were right around the corner, and no one felt prepared, least of all the fifth and seventh years.
NEWTs and OWLs were approaching fast, and even if they had been hard at work for the last few months, they had still taken a large break from their studies between Christmas and Easter, and most of them hadn't kept up with the work. Still, it wasn't possible to slow the days down, and far too soon for many of them, they reached the last few days of July, and the beginning of two weeks of what many students termed 'hell'.
Harry made sure to keep up with DA meetings for assistance with exam preparation, and the weekend before the tests began, he arranged for a large party to be held in the lounge, complete with food and mindless games that would allow them to relax before they jumped into the brutal exams.
Everyone had a great time, and they were grateful for the chance to unwind and take a break from the endless studying. XXX Harry really hadn't thought things could get much worse than OWLs, but he had failed to take into account the idea that their end of schooling tests would be more comprehensive than those taken after fifth year.
He knew he was prepared, but there was a difference between knowing the information, and being able to eloquently share it in test form. However, he was much calmer on the morning of their first test than say, Hermione, who had a Transfiguration textbook propped up against the juice pitcher, and a Charms book propped up against the bowl of potatoes.
She appeared to be going back and forth between the two, her eyes moving so fast they were almost blurred. Ginny and Luna tried to be as supportive as they could be, since their final exams, though bad, would not be nearly as brutal. Through the stress and panic, their friends definitely appreciated their efforts, as the two sixth years wished their older friends good luck before heading off to their own end of year exams.
Even with the exhaustion and apprehension, Harry knew he was doing well, as the week passed. They sat their Charms exam first, followed by Transfiguration on Tuesday, and Defense Against the Dark Arts on Wednesday. Care of Magical Creatures, which none of Harry and his friends had been taking, was Thursday, and Potions was on Friday. The weekend was taken up by studying, and then they were lucky to have a bit of a longer break, as the Divination exam took place Monday morning, and History of Magic was Monday afternoon.
Harry knew that not too many people were sitting those exams in fact, Lavender and Parvati might have been the only two sitting the Divination NEWT so most of the seventh years enjoyed the three-day weekend. The rest of the school apart from the fifth and seventh years finished their exams on Tuesday, while Harry and those taking the class sat their Arithmancy tests. On Wednesday was Herbology. As Harry had suggested to Minerva during his career counseling appointment in his fifth year, he had been studying with Neville and on his own for the last two years, keeping to a lesson plan that he had worked out with Minerva and Professor Sprout.
Though it required much more discipline than taking the actual class, Harry had kept up, and Neville had assured him many times that he was doing well. Harry had applied to the Department of Education at the Ministry to take the Herbology exam with his fellow seventh years. Taking NEWTs outside of ones advanced classes wasn't as unusual as Harry had thought; many people chose to study independently, if their course load didn't allow for them to take all of the classes they desired.
Quite a few muggleborns sat the Muggle Studies NEWT without ever going to a single class. The last test for Harry was Thursday, as he, Hermione, Blaise, and Daphne sat their Ancient Runes exam while the rest of their friends slept in, celebrating the fact that they had finished the day before. Thursday evening was the last exam, with the Astronomy NEWT taking place at night, though none of Harry's friends had continued the course after fifth year.
XXX Harry arranged with Minerva for a school wide party to take place on Friday, the day before the train was to depart for London once more. Usually there was more time in between the end of exams and the end of school, to allow for people to finish up independent projects, pack and collect all their belongings, and generally prepare for the end of the year, but with school going so late into the summer, Minerva wanted the students to be able to go home as quickly as possible, to enjoy the few weeks of August that they had left.
They held the party in the Great Hall that afternoon and evening. The House tables had been taken away, and instead, several long buffet tables had been set up at either side of the Hall, with smaller tables around for people to sit at.
The entire school enjoyed the party, relaxing after the stressful condensed term. The professors all had fun as well, having also been very busy throughout the last few months. Sirius and Minerva managed to catch up with Harry and Ginny before the evening ended.
Things had been so hectic and stressful the last few months, they hadn't had a chance to discuss the couple's upcoming wedding before now. Molly had been keeping in touch with Harry and Ginny through owl post, planning Ginny's dress and the reception meal, but the two professors hadn't been able to stay as informed as they would have liked.
Harry and Ginny shared a look when the two broached the subject, before Harry sighed. "I know Molly wants a big ceremony, but we just want something small. We were thinking we could have a destination wedding. Sirius, your family has a private island in Greece, right?" When Sirius nodded, Harry grinned.
"Do you think you could host a wedding there in a couple of weeks?" Sirius groaned and shook his head. "Is that your way of asking? I think it needs work." Harry shrugged and Ginny smiled. "Well, we don't have much time. We want to have the wedding before Ginny goes back to school." Minerva smiled slightly. "Speaking of, Harry, if you're still interested in the flying instructor position, I need to have you fill out a formal application, before I hire you.
And we'll have to see about some paperwork concerning a staff member living with a student, but I don't think the Board will find any issue with this situation, considering you won't actually be Ginny's teacher." Harry rolled his eyes, but nodded his assent.
Sirius shifted his stance. "I'll talk to the house elves about getting the villa cleaned out, and we'll plan on getting everyone over there. We'll discuss the details later, to firm up plans." Harry nodded again.
"Thanks, Sirius." He glanced behind him and saw their friends waiting, so he promised to stop by Minerva's office immediately after breakfast the next morning, before he and Ginny headed back to join the crowd of students. XXX Everything went smoothly in the morning, and soon enough, the Hogwarts Express was rolling out of Hogsmeade, headed for London. As they watched the countryside pass by, Harry and Ginny told the others of their plans for the wedding. Everyone was excited at the prospect of visiting Greece.
As they rolled past towns and farms, Harry and the other newly graduated seventh years marveled at the realization that they were actually done. Harry sat back in his seat with a sigh. "Do you guys remember our first train ride to Hogwarts?" Ron nodded, grinning. "That was a good trip." Neville shook his head.
"I spent nearly the entire time searching for Trevor." He looked at his owl with a smile. Trevor seemed much happier staying in the greenhouses at Longbottom Manor, coming out to greet his owner whenever Neville was doing work, and hopping off when Neville left, going back to wherever he spent his days. Hermione sniffed haughtily at Harry and Ron. "You two were not exactly welcoming," she commented.
Ron immediately placed an arm around his girlfriend's shoulders. "I'm sorry, 'Mione," he apologized. "We were young and stupid." They all laughed at the redhead's comment, but at the same time, they agreed with him. So much had changed in the last seven years. They had all grown up significantly. They had been through a war, watched loved ones be injured and killed.
They had seen so much. They had done even more. Harry felt himself sighing again. "It's going to be weird never going back to Gryffindor Tower. We spent so much of our lives there." Ron nodded his agreement, while the rest reminisced over the memories they had of their Houses. "I remember Hermione breaking the rules many times to come up to the boys dorm room," Harry grinned, as his bushy haired friend blushed. "There's no specific rule that prevents girls from visiting the boys rooms," she defended, but she knew it was weak.
They spent the rest of the trip joking and laughing, sharing memories of their time at school, and talking about what was to come in the near future. Even though one chapter of their lives was over, they had their whole future ahead of them, and they were looking forward to facing it all, together.
_ _ _ Chapter 22 Disclaimer: not mine When the train pulled into Kings Cross in London, Harry led his friends onto the platform. It was easy enough to find Molly waiting for them near the exit. Druella Zabini was there, along with Cyrus, Augusta, and Hermione's parents. Molly fussed over all of them, shedding tears over her grown up 'babies'.
She couldn't believe they had graduated already. After several minutes, she turned to the whole group and beamed.
"We're all going back to McGonagall Castle tonight. We'll have a nice party to celebrate, how does that sound?" Everyone nodded their agreement, and they quickly headed towards the Floo section of Kings Cross. Harry knew that Sirius and Remus were both caught up at Hogwarts still, finishing up some grading and getting things ready for the break, which was why they hadn't come to collect him. Likewise, the other adults in their group were still at work, and would meet them later in the evening.
So, how does it feel to be a graduate? Ginny asked, as they lined up to step through the Floo. Harry glanced at her sidelong. Honestly, it hasn't really sunk in yet. Ginny smiled. Just give it some time. I'm glad you're going to be at school next year, though. I wouldn't want to go a whole year without you. Harry nodded slightly, so as not to draw attention from the rest of the group.
That's the idea. I'm not sure about the job, really, but it seems simple enough. I'm a good flyer, and I've had a lot of practice with teaching, so it should be no problem. Aunt Minerva said that Madam Hooch can stay on part time for the first couple of months if needed, to referee the first Quidditch game. I'm going to study and sit the test hopefully before the term ends, since I can't referee without having that certification.
Ginny nodded slightly, as Harry gave her hand a squeeze before stepping into the fireplace, followed quickly by his wife, and then Molly, who was the last one through. The party began as soon as they arrived, with good food and laughter. Minerva, Remus, and Sirius arrived shortly after the group from the station, and Amelia, Kingsley, Arthur, Frank, Alice, and Tonks came a bit later, from the Ministry.
Bill, Fleur, Fred, and George arrived from Diagon Alley around the same time. Charlie had returned to Romania just a few weeks after the term had begun, but they would send him an invitation to Harry and Ginny's wedding, so he could meet them in Greece.
The evening passed pleasantly, with the large group sharing stories of their own experiences in school, and how they had felt after graduating. They spoke of Harry and Ginny's upcoming wedding, set for August Twenty-Ninth. The group would arrive at Sirius' island three days beforehand, and most of them would depart on the morning of the Thirtieth. Harry and Ginny would stay on the island for a mini-honeymoon, and would be back in London on the morning of the First, so that Ginny could take the train to school.
Harry would head to Hogwarts separately, as he would be a teacher now, not a student. Towards the end of the evening, the adults congregated in the dining room, while the teenagers migrated outside, enjoying the crisp and clear night. They sat on the patio, drinking butterbeer and talking about their future plans.
Daphne had apparently received quite a recommendation from Snape, and had gotten a tentative apprenticeship with a renowned Potions Mistress, pending notification of her NEWT scores; presuming her grades were satisfactory, she would begin immediately after the wedding.
Blaise, similarly, had an interview for an apprenticeship lined up at St. Mungos next week. If that went well, and if his NEWT scores were acceptable, he would likely start after the wedding as well. Ron would be meeting with the captain, coach, owner, and manager of the Appleby Arrows later in the week, and would begin training in October, when the team returned from their break. The Quidditch season ended in August, with the World Cup; after that, teams would go on a vacation for several months, before they returned to begin training for the next season.
Hermione bit her lip as they looked at her in silent question. She shrugged lightly. "I'm speaking with several Arithmancy Masters right now. I haven't decided anything, but I want to continue studying." They all chuckled a little. Of course Hermione wouldn't be satisfied just graduating Hogwarts. She would want to keep going. Susan leaned forward eagerly. "Once we receive our NEWT scores, I'm going to apply to the Auror Academy. The new class starts next month," she grinned.
"Aunt Amelia said they're condensing the training period into one year instead of three for the foreseeable future. They lost quite a few Aurors in the war, and need to rebuild." "That's great, Susan," Harry smirked. "But are you sure you'll be accepted? You might not make it." Susan growled and tossed a napkin at him.
"Prat." Harry laughed, and Susan smiled, knowing he was just joking. A moment later, Harry got serious again. "I might head that way in a couple of years," he informed them. "I think I still want to work for the DMLE at some point. I just want some distance and perspective first. Working at Hogwarts will give me a chance to unwind a bit, and stay close to Ginny," he smiled at his wife, who grinned back.
"After that, I'm thinking I might do a little travel, get some hands-on experience." "Don't you think you've had enough hands-on experience to last a lifetime?" Neville asked curiously. Harry shrugged. "I meant in something other than fighting. I sent a letter to Sharptooth a couple weeks ago, asking about the work they do abroad, and whether or not I could apply for a temporary position with them." He bit his lip. "Bill and Fleur have asked for a reassignment within the next year or so, and Sharptooth indicated they would be heading to Egypt, and that I could join them if I want." They were all a little surprised, except for Ginny, who knew Harry's tentative plans, and though she wouldn't like it if he left for a few months or as much as a year, she accepted it.
Harry needed to do things for himself, just like she needed to have her own life. She was considering going with him, at least for a few months. If she did end up getting an offer from the Harpies, like Gwenog had suggested she might, she would need to be back to start training in October, so that would give her the summer to travel with Harry. If he wanted to stay longer, she would just leave without him.
Neville cleared his throat. "I'm going to start studying for a Herbology Mastery next month. I already have an apprenticeship lined up. Professor Sprout gave me an excellent recommendation. My soon-to-be Master said he didn't even need to wait for my NEWT scores, he offered me the apprenticeship just after that first meeting.
Apparently, Professor Sprout's recommendation was enough for him, and he didn't even need to see my scores." He accepted their congratulations with humility, and the topic of conversation moved back to Harry and Ginny's wedding. It would be a very small ceremony, with only a few others beyond those at the Castle that evening being invited. Harry was quick to ask Ron to be his best man, which had the redhead beaming in excitement.
Ginny asked Hermione to be her maid of honor, and the older girl was ecstatic to accept. Other than the teenagers, the guest list included Minerva, Sirius and Amelia, Molly and Arthur, Charlie, Fred, George, Bill and Fleur, Remus and Tonks, Ted and Andromeda, Kingsley, Augusta, Frank and Alice, Cyrus, Astoria, and Snape and Narcissa, much to their surprise.
As for the rest of the wedding party, Harry asked Neville, Blaise, and Bill to be groomsmen; they would be walking down the aisle with Susan, Luna, and Daphne, Ginny's bridesmaids. The only note of sorrow was the fact that Percy wouldn't be there to enjoy the day with them. Ginny knew it was painful for her mum and dad, and she also felt a hole in her heart at the thought of the older brother she had never really had much in common with, but had loved all the same.
She would enjoy spending the day with her family and friends, celebrating the love that she and Harry shared, but she knew that Percy's absence would hit them hard. When the group dispersed for the night, everyone felt calm and relaxed, as they had never felt at the end of a school year before.
Ever since Harry's first year, in fact, something had always happened, and the school year ended on a down note. But not now. The past was the past, and the future was uncertain. But one thing was for sure: they all had the chance to let their future develop. No more Dark Lord trying to hunt them down, no more Death Eaters cursing them at every turn. They all had lives to live, mistakes to make, and dreams to fulfill.
Whatever else happened, they at least had that. XXX The next morning, Molly dragged Ginny away from her goal of spending the entire day helping Harry clean out and prepare Potter Manor for inhabiting, and instead wrangled her into a lengthy dress fitting.
Apparently, while Ginny had been completing her sixth year, her mother had been working on a wedding dress.
Ginny knew this was something her mother wanted to do, and after trying it on, she knew she would love it. Molly sniffed tearfully when Ginny complimented the dress. "I'm actually altering an older one," she informed her daughter.
"Sirius gave me the wedding dress Lily wore when she married James. I made a few changes, but the overall shape is the same, and much of the fabric is original. I thought you and Harry would both appreciate the history." Ginny looked down at the dress her mother was altering. It was a beautiful modified ball gown style. It had had off the shoulder lace long sleeves at one point, but Molly was changing it to be a shorter cap sleeve. The neckline made a deep V that showed more cleavage than Ginny had thought her mother would approve of, but Molly had assured her that it accented Ginny's figure perfectly.
The rest of the dress was a simple satin that hugged her down to the waist; the skirt was not quite a full ball gown, but it was fuller than a typical A-line. The lace from the sleeves carried through around the back, and provided a sheer cover to what would have otherwise been a backless dress. The satin fabric started at her lower back; it was sexy and yet elegant.
Ginny was very surprised that her mother had chosen this design, but Molly was not unaware of her daughter's figure. The dress was going to look fabulous on her. By mid-afternoon, Molly had made the adjustments she needed, and let Ginny go with a hidden sigh. She knew that Ginny wanted to spend time with Harry, but she only had a short amount of time left with her daughter. Even if they were already married, Ginny was still underage for another few days, and Molly could pretend that she still had some say over her daughter.
Ginny stopped before she stepped through the Floo, sensing her mother's sadness. She hurried back and gave Molly a tight hug. "I love you, mum," she whispered. Molly's breath hitched, as she hugged back just as securely. "It doesn't matter how grown up you get, you'll always be my baby," she murmured. Ginny pulled back, sniffing lightly as she smiled. "I know, mum. I'll always be your daughter. No matter what." Molly nodded, tearing up as she observed the beautiful young woman her daughter had grown into.
"Percy would have loved to be here for this," she commented with a sniff. Ginny looked down at her shoes. "I wish he could be here," she commiserated. "I miss him. I mean, we never had much in common, but he was my brother and a good man. I wish we hadn't lost so much time with him." Molly felt a few more tears leak out.
"I know, dear. We all have our regrets. I wish I could go back and tell him every day how much I love him. But he'll always be with us. And I am so grateful that he came back to us." Ginny nodded and gave her mother another hug, before Molly gestured for her daughter to go find her husband.
Ginny wiped her eyes quickly, and hurried through the Floo. XXX Time passed quietly over the next week. Ginny went out for a day in muggle London with Molly, Hermione, Susan, Luna, and Daphne, to hunt for dresses for the girls to wear. They would need to find them that day, but they didn't have to worry about getting the right sizes in time, or even the right colors, since they could fix all of that with magic.
The day was quite enjoyable for the group, as they visited several stores before finding what they were looking for. They had lunch out at an upscale café near the shops, before heading back out to keep hunting for dresses and accessories. Molly had wanted to go to Madam Malkins to custom order dresses, but they wouldn't be ready in time, so Harry had suggested the day trip to muggle London instead.
He had handed Ginny a rectangular piece of plastic, explaining how credit cards worked, and told her to use it for any purchases. Minerva had gone with him shortly after their return from Hogwarts this summer, to set up a bank account for himself in the muggle world. It was definitely advantageous, to have the option and ability to spend money in the muggle world, without having to first go to Gringotts to exchange galleons for pounds. Molly, Luna, and Daphne had been a little uncertain, but Hermione promised to help Ginny if she was unsure of anything Harry had always been the one to handle money, the few times Ginny had been in the muggle world.
Susan wasn't quite as nervous as the others, since she had been out a few times with her aunt, but all the same, she was grateful that Hermione was there, just in case. By early evening, they had found the perfect dresses for Hermione, Susan, Luna, and Daphne, and paid for them upfront, declining the shop's offer to alter the dresses. They weren't a great color, nor did any of them fit well, but magic was a wonderful thing, and they would handle making sure the dresses were perfect on the day of the ceremony.
Alice and Fleur had offered their assistance to Molly, so that the woman wouldn't have to work on the bridesmaids dresses as well as Ginny's dress, all on her own. Harry, Ron, Neville, Blaise, and Bill would all wear suits that would match the dresses. They would charm the boutonnières to be the same color.
They had spent the day before picking out clothing, and fortunately, their suits didn't require as much altering as the dresses would. With the hardest part of the clothing taken care of, things settled down again. Molly, Alice, and Fleur were busy altering the dresses to fit the girls, while Molly also worked to finish Ginny's dress. A few times, Molly bemoaned the small ceremony. She wanted a huge event, with all their family and friends, but Harry and Ginny put their foot down, and insisted.
They didn't want a large ceremony with tons of relatives they barely knew. It was just a formality, really. They were already married. Besides, the larger the event, the more chance there was of someone managing to sneak in. They didn't want their wedding to turn into a media circus.
Molly understood their thought process, she just wanted to show off her son-in-law to everyone. It had nothing to do with Harry being the Boy Who Lived, she was simply proud of the man he was. He was kind, and thoughtful, caring, and so good to Ginny.
She didn't care about those silly labels the wizarding world placed on his shoulders; to her family, he was simply Harry. One of the most amazing young men she had ever known. In between wedding details, Harry and Ginny had both begun to pack up their belongings in preparation to move to Potter Manor.
They wouldn't be spending any time there this summer, but they would send their belongings to the Manor for the house elves to set up, so that when they had their mid-term break in November, they wouldn't have to deal with all the small details, and the Manor would be ready for them.
It was slightly surreal for the two teenagers, to actually be moving out of their guardians' homes. Even stranger was the idea that McGonagall Castle and the Burrow weren't really their homes anymore. The idea that they were actually adults had hit them hard, as they worked through all of their possessions, packing them into trunks and boxes, leaving bare rooms behind. Harry couldn't help but compare it to the summer before his first year, when Vernon had moved him from his bedroom in the cupboard under the stairs, to Dudley's second bedroom.
All of his belongings had fit into one box back then. And now? There were boxes and trunks everywhere; he had books, and pictures, clothing, all sorts of odds and ends that he had collected over the last few years. McGonagall Castle had been such a wonderful home for him, and while he would be sad to leave it, he was an adult, and it was time for him and Ginny to start living their own lives; they had been technically married for nearly four years, and they were ready to start acting like it.
Molly definitely spent much of her time holding back tears, as she watched her youngest child slowly packing up her room. How could it be that her little girl was already leaving the nest?
XXX Ginny's seventeenth birthday took place at the end of the week, and they had a large party at the Burrow. Molly cooked up a storm, somehow managing to fit it all in between working on the dresses.
Everyone had a great time, enjoying the food and the company. Ginny received many wonderful gifts, including the customary watch most witches and wizards received when they came of age, from her parents. Her other presents included Quidditch related gifts, as well as candy, books, and other trinkets from her friends.
Harry gave her a silver necklace with an 'H' and a 'G' entwined together for the pendant. The day was interrupted by a surprise guest as they sat down to cut into the large cake Molly had baked. It was much like ones she had made for Harry over the last few years, with a live-action Quidditch game on the top.
A miniature Ginny and Harry were zooming around the frosting-Pitch. Everyone was startled to look up and see Ignatius Prewett heading down the path to the garden. Ignatius nodded a greeting, and handed a wrapped gift to Ginny. "Many happy returns," he said stiffly. Molly quickly greeted her uncle as Ginny murmured her thanks. Ignatius let a small smile slip through. "I also wish to offer my congratulations on your upcoming wedding.
I am sure you will do the Family Prewett proud, as the new Lady Potter." Reading between the lines, Ginny understood that her mother's uncle was pleased she was marrying into such a high station.
She was also grateful that Molly had informed her uncle of the engagement personally, since she knew that the stern overseer of the Family Prewett would not appreciate finding out about the union in the Daily Prophet.
The day after Lavender had drawn attention to Ginny's engagement ring, a large article had appeared in the newspaper, decrying their upcoming wedding for the wizarding world to revel in. Harry and Ginny knew that many people would be trying to gain access to the wedding, which was precisely why they were doing this in another country, with only their group in attendance.
No press hexing each other out of the way to get the first picture of the Lord and Lady Potter's first kiss. Just friends and family, celebrating a happy occasion. Ignatius abruptly turned to Molly and Arthur. "I would like to speak with you both, and Ronald, if you have a minute." It was phrased like a question, but it was clear he wanted to have this conversation now, so Arthur gestured for his wife and youngest son to follow him into the house. They ended up in the sitting room, Ron incredibly confused, as Ignatius turned to face them.
"I have spoken with Charles, and he is loath to return to England permanently. As this is his choice, and William has already turned down my offer, I find myself in a bit of a quandary." Molly frowned. "What is it?" she asked, confused. Ignatius sighed slightly, and sat down stiffly.
Arthur, Molly, and Ron followed his lead. "I hope you will not take offense when I say that I am disinclined to allow either Frederick or George the opportunity take charge of the Ancient and Noble House of Prewett. In any event, they do not wish the title either, so it is a moot point.
That leaves you," he looked at Ron. Ron gulped. "Me?" He hoped his voice didn't sound as squeaky as he thought it did. Ignatius nodded regally. "You. I do not wish to continue acting as Regent. There is a wizard of proper bloodline who has reached his majority, so it is time for me to pass the title on. I was never the heir. As you are the grandson of my older brother, the title correctly belongs to you." Ron stared, gobsmacked. He had never even considered this possibility.
He had told the others of the conversation he had overheard last year, but he hadn't thought that he would be the one put in this position. Did he want to be a lord? A few years ago, he would have taken the offer without hesitation. But he knew more about what it would entail now, and he wasn't so sure he wanted it anymore. He had seen the work Harry had to handle, concerning the Potter assets.
There was a lot more involved in a lordship than just a title and money. After a few moments of silence, he looked at his parents pleadingly. Understanding, Molly turned back to her uncle. "You have already gone to the others?" Ignatius nodded. "William has already been named as your heir, Arthur. He informed me he is happy with that, and does not wish to take on the mantle of Head of House Prewett.
Charles was my obvious choice; however, he does not wish to become a Head of House, period. He informed me that he is happy where he is. The twins similarly are not interested in a lordship. That leaves Ronald. If you decline, the Prewett line may very well become dormant. We are a patriarchal line, which means that even if Ginevra weren't already marrying into an Ancient and Noble House, she would not be eligible to take over House Prewett. And my wife and I have no children of our own." Ron swallowed harshly.
He wasn't sure what to do. After a moment, he bit his lip and forced himself to speak steadily, even though his heart was racing. "How quickly do you need an answer? I would like to consider the offer first, and speak with my girlfriend. I won't make any decisions without her." Ignatius seemed part put out, part impressed.
"I will give you until the First of September to make your decision. Talk it over with your girlfriend and your family, and let me know what you decide." They all stood up and Ron nodded. "Thank you," he said sincerely. Ignatius inclined his head, and let Arthur and Molly escort him out, while Ron returned to the garden. Harry and the others were immediately concerned at seeing the shell-shocked expression on Ron's face, but didn't question him there, knowing that he would come to them if he needed to, and suspecting it was something he would want to do in private.
Instead, they spent the rest of the evening eating cake, and Ginny showed Ron the present Ignatius had given her, a gold necklace with a pendant formed in the Prewett Family crest.
XXX Sure enough, the next day, Ron asked them all to meet up in the afternoon, so that he could tell them what Ignatius had wanted. They were stunned when Ron told them that he might become the new Lord Prewett. Hermione stared for a few moments, unable to form words. "I thought you said Charlie would be named the heir," she finally managed to get out.
Ron shrugged. "Uncle Ignatius said he's already spoken with Bill and Charlie. Bill wants to remain the Weasley heir, and Charlie doesn't want a lordship. Neither do the twins, even if Uncle Ignatius was willing to pass it on to them, which he really isn't. If I don't take it, the line will go dormant." His eyes were pleading as he looked at his friends, especially the ones who were poised to take over as Head of House. "What do you think? I mean, I never really considered this.
I didn't think I would ever have a title, and I was all right with that. Should I accept?" Blaise and Neville shared a look, before they turned to Harry. He was the only one who had actually taken over as Head of his House. Blaise would be going to Gringotts with his mother next month, while Frank's recovery had pushed back Neville and Augusta's plan for him to take over at twenty-one. Not that any of them were complaining. Susan was the first one to speak. "I'm not sure if I can help at all," she said hesitantly.
"The Bones Family is just a Noble one, not Ancient and Noble. And it's different for us. We don't have the choice you do. We were born into this, and it's always been our obligation. You have the ability to decide whether or not you want this." Susan, like Blaise, would be going to Gringotts soon with her aunt, to officially claim her title. Blaise nodded seriously. "Think carefully though, Ron. It's not just a title, or a large bank vault.
I know the Prewett Family is an Ancient and Noble House, and very well-off; Ignatius Prewett has done a good job of managing the family fortune. But it's so much more than that. You'll be in charge of the family. You'll effectively be a ruling force over your uncle and his wife, and to a lesser extent your parents and brothers." He glanced at Ginny.
"Since you're marrying into House Potter, technically you'll be higher than Ron, because the Potter Family is above the Prewett Family." He looked back at Ron. "When your mum married into the Weasley Family, she aligned the two Houses, making the Weasley Family something of a lesser branch to House Prewett.
You will have authority over your father, and later, Bill." Harry took over, his expression serious. "You'll be managing assets and investments, attending Wizengamot meetings, and a lot of other things. It's a lot of work, Ron. For you and your wife," he glanced at Hermione, and the girl blushed. "We're not trying to sway you, either way, we're just trying to be realistic.
There is a lot involved in being a Head of House. But beyond that, you will have the opportunity to affect change. You'll be able to make people listen. We'll have the chance to work towards a brighter future. You'll have a voice in the government, in the way laws are worded and even if they're passed. With that comes even more responsibility, but you will be able to ensure that the right laws are making it through the Wizengamot." Ron nodded in understanding, and turned to Hermione.
"'Mione, I know we're not engaged, or married, but whatever I do is going to affect you, as well. What do you think?" Hermione gulped, her eyes wide. She loved Ron, and she really didn't care how much money he had, or what his social standing was.
But here he was, asking her what she thought about him becoming a lord. And her potentially becoming a lady. She shook her head slightly. "It's your decision Ron. I'll love you no matter what. It'll be a lot for both of us, but if you want this, I will support you." Ron nodded again, and they decided to spend the rest of the afternoon outside. Ron had a lot to think about, and Hermione was right: it was his decision to make. XXX Hogwarts letters were sent out the next morning, and no one was surprised when Ginny opened her letter to see the Head Girl badge fall out.
They congratulated her, as Ginny and Luna spent a few minutes speculating on how strange it would be, to be the only two of their group still in school. It was odd, to be going back to school after just a few weeks, and both wished they could have had some more time to relax, but understood why it couldn't happen. Still, the school year was coming together well; Minerva had been hard at work with the other professors, and she thought they would be ready to go by the wedding.
Remus would be returning to his position, but Sirius still didn't want to continue teaching, so Minerva had found someone else to take over. She had even managed to replace Binns, with a young woman who had just moved from America after completing a Mastery in History.
Minerva was hopeful that the new professor would be better than Binns, not that there was much of a contest there. They were interrupted a moment later, when more owls swooped through the window, dropping letters off for each of the newly graduated students. Hermione shrieked as she picked up her envelope. "NEWT results!" she gasped, her eyes wide with anxiety. Sirius and Remus entered the dining room a moment later, followed by Minerva. The new headmistress smiled at seeing what the teenagers were holding.
"I believe the Wizarding Examinations Authority has been working overtime these last few weeks, trying to get out OWL and NEWT results before the new term. We had to hold off on sending out Hogwarts letters until they were complete, so that new sixth years would know which classes they would be able to sign up for." Sirius shifted impatiently.
"Go on then, open them!" he encouraged, grinning. Nervously, Harry and his friends opened the letters, reading through their results. Harry felt a knot in his chest loosen as he read; while he hadn't exactly been nervous, it was still a relief to see that he had done well.
When they all finished reading their own results, they passed the letters around, so that they could see how everyone had done. NEWT results for Harry Potter Passing scores: O: Outstanding E: Exceeds Expectations A: Acceptable Failing scores: P: Poor D: Dreadful T: Troll Defense Against the Dark Arts: O Charms: O Transfiguration: O Potions: O Ancient Runes: E Arithmancy: O Herbology: E NEWT results for Hermione Granger Passing scores: O: Outstanding E: Exceeds Expectations A: Acceptable Failing scores: P: Poor D: Dreadful T: Troll Defense Against the Dark Arts: O Charms: O Transfiguration: O Potions: O Ancient Runes: O Arithmancy: O Herbology: O Muggle Studies: O NEWT results for Ronald Weasley Passing scores: O: Outstanding E: Exceeds Expectations A: Acceptable Failing scores: P: Poor D: Dreadful T: Troll Defense Against the Dark Arts: E Charms: E Transfiguration: E Potions: A Herbology: E NEWT results for Neville Longbottom Passing scores: O: Outstanding E: Exceeds Expectations A: Acceptable Failing scores: P: Poor D: Dreadful T: Troll Defense Against the Dark Arts: O Charms: E Transfiguration: E Potions: E Arithmancy: E Herbology: O NEWT results for Susan Bones Passing scores: O: Outstanding E: Exceeds Expectations A: Acceptable Failing scores: P: Poor D: Dreadful T: Troll Defense Against the Dark Arts: O Charms: O Transfiguration: E Potions: O Arithmancy: O Herbology: E NEWT results for Blaise Zabini Passing scores: O: Outstanding E: Exceeds Expectations A: Acceptable Failing scores: P: Poor D: Dreadful T: Troll Defense Against the Dark Arts: O Charms: E Transfiguration: O Potions: O Ancient Runes: E Arithmancy: E Herbology: E NEWT results for Daphne Greengrass Passing scores: O: Outstanding E: Exceeds Expectations A: Acceptable Failing scores: P: Poor D: Dreadful T: Troll Defense Against the Dark Arts: E Charms: E Transfiguration: E Potions: O Ancient Runes: E Arithmancy: E Herbology: O Once everyone had seen all the results, Minerva smiled proudly at her former students.
"Well done, all of you. You should be very proud of yourselves." They all murmured their thanks, before filing out of the dining room to get on with their day.
XXX The next week was taken up with wedding plans. Harry, Ginny, and Sirius worked together to make sure that the Black property in Greece would be ready for them, and ensuring the house elves assigned to that property knew how they wanted the grounds set up for the ceremony and reception. Ron spent most of the time deep in thought, even as he helped out with the wedding and met with his new coach. A few days before they were set to leave for Greece, he finally had an answer.
He sought out his parents that evening to tell them that he was going to accept Ignatius' offer. Both supported him, and the next day, they met with Ignatius at Gringotts to formalize it. Ron would study with his uncle for a year, before taking over as Head of House. Ron was happy that he wouldn't have to give up his spot with the Arrows. He would be able to play Quidditch and still perform the duties expected of him.
Ignatius would stay on as the proxy for the Prewett seat on the Wizengamot, as Ron needed to be twenty-five to take over, just like Harry and Blaise. _ _ _ Chapter 23 Disclaimer: don't own A few days later, the large group gathered at McGonagall Castle, and took international portkeys created by Sirius. They landed in Greece a short while later, marveling at the deep blue-green ocean that surrounded them, and the crisp white beach.
Charlie's own portkey from Romania, sent along with his wedding invitation, deposited him on the beach at nearly the same time. Sirius led them into the large mansion that was the only structure on the small island. There was Floo access in the mansion, but the island itself had no other inhabitants. The nearest magical community was in Athens, and the house elves took care of making sure the kitchen was stocked.
Sirius gave everyone a quick tour, and they all disappeared into their bedrooms to change, before spending the rest of the day on the beach. The major news at dinner that evening came from the most recently married couple. Tonks found herself under scrutiny when she refused the glass of wine offered to her. Blushing furiously, she and Remus shared their happy news: they were going to become parents.
Everyone was ecstatic, congratulating them loudly, and Sirius quickly had the house elves bring up some champagne to toast. Tonks got her very own glass of sparkling cider, and the evening turned into a festive party. Tonks found Ginny and Harry later, and apologized for taking stealing some of their spotlight. Harry just shook his head.
"Don't worry about it, Tonks. We're really happy for you." Tonks beamed and gave them both a hug before she headed up to bed with Remus. XXX The group spent several days enjoying the sand and surf, and exploring the foreign magical community.
Athens' version of Diagon Alley was more of an open marketplace, with stalls set up that sold everything from cauldrons to fresh produce. Snape eagerly bought several potions ingredients that couldn't be found in Britain, while Hermione had to be pulled away from the bookseller, where she had disappeared into a large tome on the history of magical Greece.
The morning of the wedding dawned bright and hot, and everyone was up early getting ready. The girls congregated in Ginny's room to prepare, while the boys went to Harry's. Molly had insisted that the two sleep in separate rooms the night before. She knew they were already married, but she wanted them to uphold some of the traditions, such as not seeing each other before the ceremony. By late afternoon, the group began to gather in anticipation of the ceremony. The house elves had set up the simple alter on a stretch of beach just beyond the mansion.
It was covered in flowers lilies and orchids as well as some light grey tulle that fluttered in the sea breeze, and dark green vines that wound around the four posts of the alter.
The white chairs were all facing the alter, and the ocean. They had timed the ceremony perfectly so that it would take place at sunset.
Grey tulle was affixed to each chair lining the aisle, a small bouquet of sea green and white roses attached at each chair. A boardwalk was set up down the aisle and under the alter. This had been added so that Ginny's dress wouldn't get too covered in sand, and allowing her to walk easily in her heels.
Her wedding dress wasn't exactly beach appropriate, but it meant so much to both Harry and Ginny, that she was wearing Lily's dress, so they had added the harder surface to make it easier. Sharptooth was the last guest to arrive. He had been surprised to receive an invitation, and accepted it willingly. Harry had given him a portkey that would take him to the island before the ceremony, and return him to England whenever he wished to depart.
The goblin took a seat next to Bill and Fleur, who greeted him with respectful nods. When the guests were all seated, invisible music began to play, and Harry took his spot at the alter with Amelia, who was officiating, and Ron. Both men were dressed simply and elegantly in formal suits. Their cummerbunds were a soft sea green, charmed to specifically match the color of the bridesmaids' dresses. Ron's boutonnière was white, to denote him as Best Man, while Harry's was slightly more complex, made up of a white rose with dark green leaves, and a few sprigs of smaller flowers that had been charmed sea green.
The boutonnière was tied up with a dark grey sheer ribbon. As the music played, Luna and Blaise walked down the aisle first, followed by Susan and Neville, and then Daphne and Bill.
All three girls were wearing flowing chiffon dresses in a sea green color, perfect for a beach wedding. The dresses were strapless with a sweetheart neckline. They were tight on the top, with a criss-cross ruching, before flowing out past the waist and coming to an abrupt cutoff at the knee. There was a dark grey satin sash tied around their waists. The men were wearing suits that matched Ron's, with the only difference being their boutonnières.
While Ron's was white, the rest of the groomsmen were wearing roses that had been charmed sea green to match the girls' dresses. Next down the aisle was Hermione. Her dress was the same, however her sash was white instead.
All three girls held bouquets that matched Harry's boutonnière. They had white roses, with flowers shaped like lavender, only sea green in color. The bouquets were tied with dark grey ribbon. When they were all at the end of the aisle, Hermione, Susan, Luna, and Daphne on one side and Neville, Blaise, and Bill lined up next to Ron, the music swelled, and the guests stood up. A few moments later, Ginny came walking down the aisle, her parents on either side. Harry had to remind himself to breathe, watching his wife walk towards him.
She was so beautiful, and she was all his. Ginny locked eyes with him, and smirked mentally. Damn straight, she said smugly.
And don't you ever forget it. Harry nodded slightly, his eyes amused and full of love. Never, he promised seriously. When they reached the alter, Molly tearfully lifted Ginny's veil and tucked her loose hair behind her ears. Ginny had chosen a half up-do, and the veil was attached to a set of hair clips encrusted with emeralds and diamonds, an heirloom that Ginny had chosen from the Potter Vault specifically for this occasion. The veil itself was short, cutting off at her lower back, and blew prettily in the wind.
Molly and Arthur willingly passed Ginny to Harry, and the two stepped up to Amelia. Amelia smiled at the couple, and began the ceremony. "Friends and family, we are gathered here this evening to witness what I can confidently term 'true love'.
Everybody here has been lucky enough to witness the growth of this relationship, and we look forward to seeing what these two will accomplish together." Amelia smiled at the couple. "Harry and Ginny have chosen to write their own vows. Harry?" Harry took a deep breath, focusing on Ginny's warm brown eyes looking up at him happily. He smiled. "Ginny, the first time I saw you, you were answering your mother's question on which platform the Hogwarts Express left from.
I was eleven. At twelve, I felt disappointed that I didn't get the chance to see you sorted into your House.
At thirteen, I was worried about how deeply the Dementor on the train affected you, and wondering how likely Ron was to kill me if I tried to comfort you." There was a tittering of laughter, and Ron let out a soft snort. Harry shrugged good-naturedly. "At fourteen, I finally figured out what it was I was feeling." He took a deep breath and grasped Ginny's hands in his.
"Ginny, you are the smartest, most willful, determined, best thing that has ever happened to me. When I was doubting myself, you slapped me upside the head and gave me a reality check." The guests laughed again.
"When I was sad, you were there. When I was happy, it was because of you. I wish I could just say I love you, and leave it at that, but those three words just don't encompass everything I feel for you. Some things may be uncertain, but there's one thing I know for sure: you and me, together. Forever." Ginny beamed as Amelia turned to her. "Ginny?" Ginny took a moment to collect herself, before she spoke. "When I was four, my father told me the story of Harry Potter for the first time.
I was so sad when I heard about the little boy who had lost his parents. When I was six, my brothers started teasing me about how the only bedtime story I ever wanted to hear was Harry Potter's story." The audience chuckled, and Ginny's smile turned bashful.
"That's when I started telling my dad that I was going to marry Harry Potter. When I was ten, my brothers told me about how they had just met the Harry Potter. I was so excited, and disappointed that I didn't get the chance to talk to you. At eleven, you saved me for the first time of many.
At twelve, I watched you struggle to overcome your fears, and my hero-worship began to turn into admiration and respect. At thirteen, you finally figured out what I had known since I was six, and you kissed me." Everyone laughed, and Harry shrugged apologetically. "I can't promise you that the Chudley Cannons will finally win a game " Ron let out an annoyed grunt, but Ginny kept going, "I can't promise that Hermione will finally learn how to cook without setting the stove on fire," it was Hermione's turn to get upset, as her friends laughed.
There were a lot of things Hermione could do, and better than pretty much everyone else, but cooking was not one of them. Ginny smiled. "But I can promise you this: you and me, together, forever." Amelia was both amused and touched by their vows, but quickly called attention back to her. "Harry, place the ring on Ginny's finger, and repeat after me: with this ring, I thee wed." Harry quickly turned to Ron and took Ginny's wedding ring from him.
He repeated the vow, and then it was Ginny's turn. Amelia had her speak the same words as she placed Harry's wedding ring on the fourth finger of his left hand. When she finished, Amelia turned to the guests and smiled.
"Harry and Ginny have stood before you today, professing their love for the world to see. By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride." Needing no further prompting, Harry swiftly leaned forward and gave Ginny a soul-searing kiss as their friends and family clapped hard.
Much sooner than they would have liked, Harry and Ginny pulled apart, and headed back down the aisle, followed by Hermione and Ron, Neville and Susan, Blaise and Luna, and Daphne and Bill. The rest of the crowd followed them back to the mansion, and around the back, where the house elves had set up the reception space in the large garden. It was beautiful, Harry had to admit, as everyone took their seats and food began to appear.
There were several smaller tables, all circling a wooden dance floor. The tablecloths were light grey, with sea green napkins. Each table had a dark grey runner, and a centerpiece made up of white roses and lit candles. A wooden wireless stood at one corner of the dance floor, decorated with white roses and grey tulle. Everyone had a wonderful time, eating the magnificent meal and dancing until they couldn't feel their feet anymore.
Sharptooth did not stay; he offered his congratulations to Harry and Ginny, before heading back to England. Harry wasn't too surprised; he had invited the goblin because he respected and liked him, but goblins were not exactly social creatures.
He was honored that his Manager had even come to the ceremony, bringing with him a rather expensive present: a two hundred year old bottle of Firewhiskey. There were, of course, the mandatory toasts, and Sirius got quite a few laughs and blushes as he did his level best to embarrass Harry. Once he was finished, Hermione stood up. She smiled at the couple, knowing that even without the bond, those two really had something special.
Taking a deep breath, she glanced around at the small crowd watching her. "I think it's pretty safe to say that my friendship with Harry and Ron didn't exactly get off to the best start. Bossy goody-two-shoes sound about right guys?" she grinned at the nods that Harry and Ron immediately responded with, while the rest of the guests laughed. Hermione shook her head slightly. "I was a pushy know-it-all, and I had no friends. But then something happened." She saw Minerva wince at the reminder, and shrugged.
"I've always said that Harry has a 'saving people thing', and it was pretty obvious right from the start. You see, that Halloween of our first year, a professor let a troll into the castle as a diversion, and it was just my bad luck that I happened to be right in its path.
But Harry and Ron saved me, and from that point on, we were nearly inseparable. There are some things you just can't go through without becoming friends, and knocking out a twelve foot mountain troll is one of them." There were a few disbelieving looks, as some people learned for the first time how the trio became a trio. Hermione paused to collect her thoughts. "Ginny and I didn't really become friends right away," she admitted. "It was a gradual thing, beginning around the end of my second year, her first.
But once we started, it just took off. Ginny, you're an amazing friend. You've always been willing to listen, and you've always been up for a girl's night when I needed it; you know how easy it is to get girl talk out of those two," she jerked her head at Harry and Ron, to general amusement.
"So to make a long story short, I've known Harry and Ginny apart, and I've known them together. I've seen their relationship grow and change. I've seen them go from awkward teenagers to a real couple. Even at thirteen and fourteen years old, they knew that they were different. What they had what they have is so much bigger than we could ever imagine. They fell into a relationship as easy as some of us would fall asleep.
Harry found a new best friend, and I couldn't be happier." Harry looked a little guilty, but Hermione smiled softly at him, letting him know that she wasn't upset at all. "With Harry and Ginny, it's as easy as breathing.
I've never seen two people more right for each other." She picked up her champagne flute, and the rest of the guests followed suit. "So, to Harry and Ginny, may you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough success to keep you eager, and enough determination to make each day better than yesterday." Everyone clapped as they took a sip of their champagne, and Hermione sat down.
Ron was next, and he stood up nervously. "I'm not as good with words as Hermione, but I'll do my best." He pulled out a piece of paper and unfolded it. Glancing around at the guests, he shrugged. "Hermione helped me find this." Everyone chuckled, and Ron grinned self-deprecatingly, and looked down at the paper in his hands.
He cleared his throat, and began to recite the poem he had copied from a book Hermione had loaned him. "Love is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past.
It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack.
If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough." Ron coughed, his face turning pink with embarrassment as he folded up the paper and stuck it back in his pocket. "I, well, Hermione and I found that in a book, and I thought it was appropriate. Harry, you've been like my brother ever since the first train ride to Hogwarts.
And now, you really are my brother. Though mate, I've got to say, you've always been a Weasley. Don't know why you felt you had to marry Ginny to get there." The guests laughed, while Ginny glared and Harry rolled his eyes, amused.
Ron sobered, turning serious as he focused on his sister and brother-in-law. "I might be a bit thick at times," he pointedly ignored Ginny's arched eyebrow. Only at times? "But even I knew that you two were in it for the long haul, even back then. I remember watching you together, and telling people to prepare to be surprised. Because you weren't going to follow any of the normal standards for a teenage relationship. I remember thinking that one of these days, you'd make the rest of us believe in true love." His blush deepened.
"And here we are, years later, and still going strong. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be watching you act as sickeningly sweet and in love ten, twenty, and fifty years down the line, as you are right now." Harry glanced over at Ginny, his eyes softening as she looked back at him. He leaned down and gave her a quick peck on the lips. Ron rolled his eyes.
"Exactly." He picked up his champagne flute. "So, to Harry and Ginny. The best brother and sister a guy could have. Can it you two," he glared at Fred and George. The twins put on mock expressions of hurt as they both closed their mouths, a clear indication to the group that they had been planning on protesting Ron's statement. Everyone laughed as they drank, and Ron sat down quickly.
Ginny reached over and lightly cuffed his shoulder. "I don't know why you thought you'd be bad at that," she admonished. "That was wonderful Ron, thank you." Ron blushed brightly, but smiled his thanks, as Hermione gave him a sideways hug, also conveying her pride at his words.
Several more people stood up to speak, including Neville, Susan, Remus, Minerva, and Molly and Arthur. Each one conveyed their joy at being a part of Harry and Ginny's lives, and how happy they were that the two were together. Finally, Harry stood. "I think it's my turn now, yeah?" He glanced back at Ginny, and smiled.
"I think I covered our relationship pretty well during the ceremony, but I'm sure I can come up with something else to talk about." Ginny rolled her eyes, while the guests smiled or laughed.
"When you're fourteen years old, and you meet a girl, everything seems so easy. You're young, you've got a crush, and you don't have to have everything figured out yet." He took a deep breath. "Ginny and I never had that. Even at fourteen, I was already an adult. At thirteen, Ginny had already faced down evil in its base form, and conquered it. Neither of us fell into the typical categories for a normal teenager.
The two of us on our own, it's a wonder we came out as well adjusted as we were." Ginny snorted, and Harry shrugged. "But you see, something happened when we got together.
It was amazing, and entirely unprecedented." Ginny glanced at him sharply, while those who knew about the bond wondered where Harry was going with this. They hadn't thought he would tell anyone else. Harry beamed, his eyes not leaving Ginny's perfect face for a moment. "I finally worked up the courage to let the girl of my dreams know how I felt, and by some miracle, she felt the same. I won't ask why she chose me, I'll just be happy that she did.
Ginny, you're my life, my heart, my soul.
You make me happier than I ever thought I could be, and if you let me, I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way." Ginny couldn't sit still any longer. She stood up and grasped Harry in a tight hug. You already do, she said, her mental voice thick as she struggled to hold back tears of joy.
They held each other for a moment longer, before Harry pulled back and cleared his throat. Ginny sat back down, blushing lightly. "Anyway," Harry continued, "Ginny, our road may not have been the easiest, but through it all, you were a steady presence at my side. I have never doubted that we will spend the rest of our lives together, and I look forward to fully enjoying the journey." Ginny grinned happily, as everyone drank their champagne.
Harry set his flute down and gestured to the wireless. Obediently, it began to play once more.
"Now, that's enough talking. Let's get back to the party!" He held out a hand for Ginny, and pulled her onto the dance floor. Around them, other couples followed their lead, and soon enough, the floor was packed. It was nearly dawn by the time everyone headed off to bed. XXX Much earlier than any of them would have liked, they were gathering back on the front steps of the mansion to take portkeys back to England.
Harry and Ginny came down to see them off, once more accepting congratulations, before the large group began to depart. Minerva was the last one to leave, waiting specifically for that moment, so that she could inform the couple of their new living arrangements. She smiled at the pair, truly happy for them. "I have arranged a suite to be prepared for you near Gryffindor Tower," she informed them. "Everything will be ready when you arrive." They thanked the headmistress before she left, and it was just the two of them.
Harry grinned at Ginny. Swimming or bed? he asked mischievously. Ginny leveled a mock glare in his direction, and untied the simple sundress she had been wearing. Underneath was a skimpy bikini that Ginny had picked out specially. Without a backward glance, she immediately ran off towards the crystal blue surf.
Shaking his head fondly, Harry stripped off his shirt and followed her. XXX The couple had a wonderful time on their own, and neither one wanted to return to England on the morning of the First. They lay cuddled in bed late that morning, knowing that they needed to get up soon to catch their portkey back, but neither one was willing to move just yet. Harry was absentmindedly running a hand down Ginny's side, making small patterns with his finger as Ginny hummed contentedly. This isn't the real honeymoon, you know, Harry informed her.
Ginny forced her eyes open and looked at him, confused. What do you mean? Harry shrugged lightly with one shoulder, his wandering hand not pausing in its movements. This is just a couple days of relaxation. I'm thinking about a longer trip over Christmas. How does Australia sound? Or we could go to Italy. Ginny was now staring. Oh, or we could go to Italy?
Her voice was only mostly sarcastic. Harry grinned. I've been spending a good deal of time looking over the Potter Family holdings. When I first went over things with Sharptooth several years ago, he informed me of three properties, but that was just because those were the only ones available to me at the time. Now that I've officially taken over as Head of House, I have access to all of them.
We have a villa in Tuscany, as well as a manor on the coast near Perth. The villa has been rented out before, but it has been vacant for the last couple of years.
Ginny considered what he was telling her. She had been stunned by the idea that he owned a castle and a manor in Britain, but apparently that was just the tip of the iceberg. Any other properties you've forgotten to mention? she asked archly. Harry shrugged again. There's a penthouse in New York, but that one is being rented out, for nearly ten years now. We've also got a little cottage in Southern France that my great, great grandparents retired to; no one's lived there since, so I'm not sure what state it's in.
Then there's the flat in Barcelona, and Ginny reached out and covered his mouth with one hand, even though he was speaking through their minds, and not out loud. Amusedly, she shook her head. We'll go over all the Potter holdings later. I'd like to go to Tuscany, she decided.
We've got the rest of our lives to visit all of these places. Harry nodded contentedly. Yes we do, he agreed. Knowing that they really had to get up now, the couple left the comfortable bed and began to get dressed. Soon enough, their bags were packed and shrunken in their pockets, and they were each holding the portkey with one hand. Their bags contained everything they would need for the school year as well, since they would be going directly to the station from here.
They gave their gorgeous surroundings one last look, before they left the white sandy beach and reappeared a short time later on the platform in the wizarding travel section of Kings Cross. Nearby, the Floos were hard at work, but they didn't stay. They were going to meet everyone on the platform, so they didn't waste any time in leaving the room and walking the short distance to the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Harry looked down a few inches into Ginny's loving gaze. "What's the platform number now?" he murmured teasingly, remembering his first trip here.
Ginny grinned. "Platform nine and three quarters. Please, can't I go?" Harry chuckled, and taking her hand, led her through the barrier.
The scarlet engine shone brightly in front of them, but they didn't spend too much time looking at it, instead focusing their search on the group that was waiting for them. The Weasleys were there with Hermione, as were Luna and her father, and the Greengrasses. The others were not coming, since they didn't actually have family heading back to school.
They had, however, all promised to meet in Hogsmeade on the first weekend the students were allowed to visit the village. Ginny knew that this group would not let their friendship slide.
They would be close as siblings forever. And she couldn't be happier about that. There were hugs given all around, before the warning whistle sounded, and Luna and Astoria got on the train.
Ginny turned back to Harry and gave him a tight hug. "I'll miss you," she whispered softly. Harry chuckled. "I'm going to see you in a few hours," he reminded her.
Ginny shrugged as she pulled back. "I'll still miss you," she said stubbornly. Harry nodded understandingly. "Me, too," he replied. A cough drew their attention away from each other, and Molly smiled gently. "Ginny, dear, you need to get on the train." Ginny nodded and gave Harry and her mother one last hug, before she hurried towards the train, which was starting to move away from the platform.
Harry helped her get on, and she turned around, waving to the group of Weasleys that had crowded around her husband. When the train had left Kings Cross behind, she went to find Luna, who was sitting with Astoria in a compartment nearby. "This is so strange," she commented with a sigh, already missing Harry. She felt her husband's amusement in her head as he responded to that thought. You know we're never really apart, he said soothingly. I'm always here, and I can't wait until this evening when we see each other again.
I'll see you at the feast. Ginny let out another sigh, and forced herself to focus on Luna and Astoria, to pass the time.
It was amazing how much things had changed over the years. She had gone from a naïve girl with a childhood crush, to a woman with a soul bond. She and Harry had been through so much together: Dark Lords, the loss of loved ones, manipulative headmasters, horrible relatives, Death Eaters bent on causing as much destruction as possible… but through it all, they had had each other, and that had made everything seem better, even when it wasn't.
Harry had always been such a strong presence in her life, and no matter what happened, tomorrow, next week, next month, or ten years down the line, she knew that she would face it all, with him at her side.
The way it should be. She felt Harry's smile in the back of her mind. And don't you ever forget it. The poem Ron used in his speech is called Love is Friendship Caught Fire, by Laura Hendricks. Hermione's ending quote was taken from an old Irish blessing. I don't own either one. Oh, and I also used a quote from The Sorcerer's Stone. But that falls under my first, standard disclaimer of not owning Harry Potter.
Just the epilogue left, so stay tuned for the final, FINAL chapter! _ _ _ Chapter 24 I had planned to end this series with the last chapter, but somewhere around chapter twelve, I thought, hey, Rowling did an epilogue, maybe I should too! And of course, since I have the attention span of a flea, I couldn't just wait until I finished the story to write it, I had to stop everything right in the middle, and get this out. And then revise it about five times, because that's what happens when you write a scene that takes place later in a story, and then go back and fill in the blanks.
Things tend to change. Enjoy! It's been a real pleasure writing this series, and getting your reviews has never failed to put a smile on my face. Thank you to all of you who have taken this ride with me; thank you to all the people who reviewed that means a lot to me. Disclaimer: I don't own anything but the plot NINETEEN YEARS LATER: The end of summer came extraordinarily quickly this year. Indeed, for the family winding its way quickly through the masses of muggles at the train station in London, it seemed as if they had merely closed their eyes in June, and woken up in September.
Perhaps that was because this school year was a year of firsts and lasts. Harry Potter smiled fondly at his son, while his youngest daughter clutched his hand tighter. "Daddy, what if I'm not sorted at all?" Lily Luna Potter whispered, as her mother, Ginny Potter, gestured for her big brother James to go through the barrier first. Harry looked down at his bright young girl. "I have every confidence you'll be sorted, Lily," he said comfortingly. "Just last week you turned James' hair green because he took away your Potions textbook.
Remember?" Indeed, Lily did remember, it was just so nerve-wracking. She had watched her older siblings take this trip for years, and now, finally, it was her turn.
Harry squeezed her hand reassuringly. "It's all right to be nervous, Lily. I know I was." Lily looked comforted by that fact, as Ginny called their attention back to the magical barrier hiding Platform Nine and Three Quarters from view. "Tori, Ronnie, you two go through together," she instructed. "We'll be right behind you." The twins, Victoria Hermione Potter and Veronica Susan Potter, nodded as one and headed towards the barrier at a brisk walk.
With one last glance at her husband and youngest daughter, Ginny followed the twins. Harry kept his grip on Lily's hand as he guided her through right behind the rest of their family. Lily closed her eyes as they drew closer, waiting for the crash that never happened. She had made this journey many times before, but it just seemed so much more real, now that she would be getting on the train as well. When she opened her eyes again, they were on the other side. All around them students and parents were talking, laughing, yelling, or searching for friends they hadn't seen all summer.
She grinned up at her father, who smiled back proudly. "Come on," he said, tugging her forward. "Let's find you all a good compartment." They walked along the train for a few minutes before finding several empty compartments, and Harry helped Lily get her trunk and new tawny owl a congratulatory present from Ginny and Harry for getting her Hogwarts acceptance letter stowed in one of them, before they headed back out onto the platform to wait for the others to show up.
Harry made sure to ward off the block of compartments, knowing that the kids would all want to sit near each other, and there were quite a few of them. Lily was peering around the platform nervously. "Where are they?" she asked worriedly. "Shouldn't they be here by now?" Ginny smiled comfortingly. "Don't worry, dear, it's still early. They'll be here." "Hey mum, look who we found!" The twins were back, and dragging with them Ron and Hermione's children, Duncan and Juliet.
Harry and Ginny smiled and greeted their niece and nephew. "You two looking forward to the school year?" Harry asked, glancing behind the pair for their parents, who were making their way in the same direction, albeit at a slower pace. Duncan nodded eagerly. "I can't wait to get back to Arithmancy," he said, beaming at his godfather. "And Potions, and Transfiguration, and " "We get it, you're a nerd," Juliet glared at him.
"I can't wait until Quidditch tryouts," she grinned at her aunt and uncle. Harry shook his head fondly, marveling at the duo and the qualities they had gotten from their parents. Duncan was purely Hermione, while Juliet had gotten all of Ron's passion for Quidditch. He had fully expected Duncan to ask for permission to take on all the electives in his third year, until Hermione had talked him out of it, explaining her own poor decision in that regard.
Juliet, going into her second year this September, was much happier on the Pitch than in the library. "All right there, Harry, Ginny?" Ron asked, as he and Hermione finally caught up to their kids.
The Potters nodded agreeably, as the kids began talking about the coming year, moving a short distance away from their parents. "I'm surprised you were able to get away for the morning," Hermione commented, looking at Harry.
"Aren't you quite busy?" Harry shrugged. It was true that his position as Head of the DMLE kept him occupied, but he wasn't about to miss seeing James off for the final time, or seeing Lily get on the train for the first.
His life had really been quite action packed, and hadn't slowed down since his defeat of Voldemort nineteen years earlier. There had been a time where he would have balked at even the thought of continuing to hunt down Death Eaters, but some distance had cleared his head, and he knew that he wanted to continue to protect the wizarding world.
His year as the flying instructor, immediately following the war, kept him at Hogwarts and able to be with Ginny, as well as provided him a chance to unwind and get used to not having a megalomaniac after him.
After Ginny had graduated, the goblins had approved his request to travel to Egypt to join Bill and Fleur, who had left a few months before, to get some more hands on experience. Harry and Ginny had spent that summer learning how to break curses, and exploring ancient tombs.
Though it was a good deal of fun as well as educational, by the end of the summer, Harry knew that he didn't want to pursue that profession.
So when Ginny returned to England in September, Harry went with her. Once home, he had immediately applied to become an Auror, and been accepted almost before he had managed to get the request for an application out. At that point, they had still been condensing the training period down to one year, rather than three, in order to fill out the depleted Auror corps. He had graduated at the top of his class, and after five years on the job, been promoted to Head Auror.
Just three years after that, a skirmish with some dark wizards had left Kingsley with a permanent limp. Choosing to take the opportunity to retire, the man had put forth Harry for promotion, which was how he had found himself as the youngest Head of the DMLE in history.
Even through all of his deeds on the job, Harry would say that his biggest accomplishments were the four children he and Ginny had brought into this world. Ginny glanced over at him. We did do some good work, didn't we Potter, she grinned.
Harry smiled back and nodded slightly. Ginny had also had a busy time of it, between pregnancies and playing as a chaser for the Holyhead Harpies. Like Gwenog Jones had suggested, she had received an offer for the vacant reserve chaser spot for the Holyhead Harpies immediately upon graduation.
Due to an injury several months into the playing season, Ginny had been moved up to a starting position. She and Harry had had to time the kids around her career, but Ginny was on the record books as scoring the most goals in a season, a title she achieved in her third season with the Harpies. After she had Lily, she had chosen to retire from active play, and took a job in the Department of Magical Games and Sports.
Realizing that Hermione was still waiting for an answer, Harry turned back to her, and shrugged lightly. "It's James' last train ride, and Lily's first." Hermione nodded, not needing any more explanation than that. It was an important milestone for both kids. Harry smiled softly, knowing that she understood completely. "Have you seen any of the others?" Hermione shook her head.
"Not yet, but we only just got here. They'll all show up, we've still got nearly twenty minutes before the train departs." Harry knew she was right. "Did you have any trouble parking, or did you just Floo in?" Hermione rolled her eyes in her husband's direction.
"I wanted to drive, but Ron seemed to think it was beneath us to use muggle transportation." "I didn't say that!" Ron protested. "I just said it was easier to Floo!" Harry and Ginny traded a knowing look as the duo descended into yet another row. One would think that after nearly sixteen years of marriage they would have mellowed slightly, but they still argued like school children at times. "Anyway," Ron turned back to Harry and Ginny, having clearly decided that arguing wouldn't do anyone any good right now, "I have the time off with the season finished, but Hermione insisted on coming, even though she should be at the castle already." Hermione rolled her eyes again.
"I wanted to see my children off to school!" she protested. Ron glanced at her. "You're going to see them again in a few hours!" he shot back. Harry shook his head, amused. Ron had just returned from a short victory tour with the English National Quidditch team, which had just won the World Cup in Athens a few weeks earlier. Ron had had a very successful career in the sports world. He had held the reserve keeper position for the Appleby Arrows for one year, before being moved up to the starting keeper position.
He played three seasons as starting keeper before the coach retired, and they offered Ron the job. Of the seven seasons that he had coached the Arrows, they had won six. He had then moved on to the Chudley Cannons, a surprising move to many, as he had been with a successful team for years, only to step down and coach a team that hadn't won a season in over two decades. But he had proved his worth without a doubt, and led the Cannons to three consecutive victorious seasons.
Five years ago, he had been offered the coaching position for the English National team, a job he had jumped on immediately, and led the team to fourth place overall in the league two years ago, third place last year, and rounded it off by winning the World Cup this year. In between coaching, he also worked with Harry and their other friends in the Wizengamot, trying to bring the wizarding world up to current times, and get rid of many laws that were only holding them back. They had been very successful, and most of the laws that inhibited muggleborns had been overturned, as had many of the restrictions on many magical creatures, such as vampires, goblins, house elves, and werewolves.
Some people had been hesitant, but there was no denying that their world was a much better place, thanks to the changes that Harry's generation had brought. Hermione, on the other hand, had chosen to go completely studious. After graduating with straight O's across the board, she had studied for four years to complete an Arithmancy Mastery, and then, after taking a few years off, accepted Minerva's offer to help her complete a Transfiguration Mastery. It had taken her five years to complete that one, mostly because she had also become a mother to her son, Duncan, and then to Juliet a couple years later, and couldn't devote one hundred percent of her time to her studies.
After the completion of her second Mastery, Minerva had offered her the upcoming vacant position as Arithmancy professor, as Professor Vector was retiring. So for the last seven years, she had been teaching Arithmancy at Hogwarts.
In her spare time, she liked to work on spell creation; she and Harry had spent many a weekend working to design new spells, bonding even further over their shared love of Arithmancy. Even though Harry hadn't continued with his formal education in the field, he loved to read, and Hermione had always been willing to share everything she had learned.
"What are they arguing about now?" Harry glanced over and nodded a greeting to Neville and Susan, who had just arrived. "I'm not entirely sure anymore," he commented. "First it was Ron's desire to take the Floo, then Hermione's desire to see her children off rather than wait until they arrive at the school…" He looked at his oldest friends, who now seemed to be arguing over whether owls or cats made better pets.
Susan rolled her eyes. "Typical," she muttered, but there was a smile on her face. "Sorry we're a little later than planned.
I didn't want to leave the office until I knew that Hatchet could handle it." Harry sighed. Terrance Hatchet was a good Auror and a good man, but he didn't do too well in an authority role.
Unfortunately, with everyone either seeing their children off today, or assigned patrol areas and duties outside of the office, Hatchet was the most senior official left at the DMLE office, and it fell to him to act as Head until Harry returned. Normally, if Harry was leaving the office for an extended period of time, he would have left Susan, as Head Auror, in command, but Susan was also here, seeing her children off. Susan nodded knowingly. "Yeah, I think he'll be all right, but I'm hoping that nothing too severe happens this morning." Harry shrugged.
"If something does, I'm sure we'll know soon enough." Susan opened her mouth, but then changed direction. "Frankie, I swear, if you put that frog in that girl's pocket you will be grounded until you're married!" Francis or Frankie Edgar Longbottom withdrew his hand immediately and turned back to his mother.
"I wasn't going to do anything!" he claimed innocently, but none of them bought it. Susan growled. "I blame Fred and George.
Where else could he get his pranking nature from?" Harry chuckled but didn't reply. Elisa tugged on her mother's hand. "Mum, can I go say hi to Lily?" Susan nodded, smiling. "Of course, dear. Just be careful." Elisa scampered off towards Lily, and the two girls began whispering and giggling. Susan watched fondly. "They grow up so fast." Neville slung an arm across her shoulders.
"I know. I just wish I could keep her with me and safe from the world." He glanced at his fifteen-year-old son. "Him, I wish I could give to Fred and George, and let them reap the benefits of their actions. Why did they have to turn my son into a prankster?!" Harry snorted. "More likely, the three of them would just burn the world down with Weasleys Wizarding Whizbangs." "Did we hear " "Someone calling us?" The adults turned and greeted Fred and George, as well as their respective wives in a move that had surprised no one, Fred had proposed to Angelina Johnson shortly after Harry and Ginny's wedding.
Just after that, George had proposed to Alicia Spinnet, and a few months later, the two had wed in a rather large and ostentatious double wedding. It constantly amused Harry that the duo had had kids within a few months of each other, a set of twins each.
Honestly though, the twin part wasn't that surprising. Twins seemed to run in the Prewett line, something Molly had told him when he and Ginny had found out about Ronnie and Tori. It was, however, annoying for Harry and Ginny to have to deal with their eldest son, who had been corrupted at an early age, by Fred's Bryce and Braxton, and George's Brigit and Bryan. As they were all the same age, they immediately became friends, clicking much the way Harry and Ron had, right from the start.
Neville rolled his eyes. "We were just bemoaning the fact that you've corrupted my son." Harry snorted. "Bad enough you already got to James, you had to get Frankie too?" Fred and George beamed. "What's life without pranks?" they chorused in unison, before each being smacked in the stomach by their wives.
"Oof!" Neville sighed. "Do you know how many times I've had to go to Minerva's office to deal with some prank Frankie was involved in? And more often than not, both sets of twins were in on it." Harry shook his head.
"I'm glad I'm not there full time," he commented. "It's bad enough to get letters from Minerva about how much like his uncles James is. I made the mistake once of asking which uncle." "What did she say?" Fred asked curiously.
Harry glared at him. "All of them. Sirius, Remus, you two, you're all bad influences." "Be thankful it's just letters," Neville advised. As the Herbology professor, a position he had obtained when Pomona had decided to retire nine years ago, Minerva didn't need to waste time sending him a letter. She just had to summon him to the Headmistress' office, and tell him in great detail about his son's most recent exploits. "I hear complaining," Blaise commented as he and Luna joined them.
Neville shrugged. "Just idle moaning. Nothing to worry about." Blaise snorted, and Luna peered at him curiously. "Have the humblingers gotten to you?" she asked seriously. Neville shook his head but didn't reply. "Mari, don't wander off!" Blaise called out to his twelve-year-old daughter, as she tried to slip away from her parents.
Maricella Cordelia Zabini or Mari turned back and pouted. "I was just going to say hi to Jules," she explained, pointing at the large group of kids congregated a short distance away from the adults.
Blaise looked at the group and then nodded. "Stay close to them," he ordered. Mari nodded and then ran off. Anahita or Ana their eldest daughter looked at her father. "May I go too?" she asked politely. Blaise smiled. "Of course." Ana grinned and gave her father a hug before she went to join the large group, which absorbed her immediately.
Luna continued to hold onto the hand of their youngest child, Halcyon, who at ten years old would have to wait another year before he took the train as well, a fact that had him quite put out. "I tell you, it was quite difficult to get this morning off," Blaise commented idly. "You'd think they'd understand, it being the First of September, but for some reason, St. Mungos doesn't seem to care about that." Blaise had worked hard to become a healer, and had recently been promoted to Head Healer for the Spell Damage floor.
Luna squeezed his hand reassuringly. "We're all glad you managed it, dear," she gave him a peck on the cheek. Blaise smiled down at his wife, who had had her own issues getting the morning off. Luna was the Head of the Investigative Creatures Division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, an office that she had helped to found after graduation.
With the creation of the division, she spent her days searching for new mythical creatures, and proving their existence. Halcyon stomped his foot. "I want to go," he grumbled. Blaise glanced down at his son. "Hal, if you don't stop your whining you won't be getting dessert for a week. You will go to Hogwarts when you turn eleven, just like everyone else." Hal pouted, but didn't say anything, knowing that when his father used that tone, it was time to listen.
"Tough love," Daphne commented as she joined them, her twelve year old son Matthew trailing behind her. They all smiled as Matthew took off immediately to join the rest of the kids. "Where's Colin?" Harry asked, kissing her cheek in greeting.
"Parking the car," Daphne replied, glancing around the platform. Harry nodded. Those two had a very strange relationship, he had to admit.
They had dated off and on during their school years, and while Daphne was studying for five years to complete her Potions Mastery. On the day she had received her certification, she had given Colin an ultimatum: either he asks her to marry him already, or they break up. Unsurprisingly, they had gotten married. Shortly after that, Cyrus had officially claimed Colin as his heir, so that the Greengrass name would continue on. Colin was just happy that his new title wouldn't mean he had to give up his job as a photographer for the Daily Prophet.
Daphne looked at Harry. "We passed Remus and Tonks on our way in, so they should be here soon." She snorted. "They were busy waiting for Teddy and Sol to snap out of their own little world long enough to realize that the reason for being here is to see their siblings off to school." Harry shook his head fondly.
Teddy and Sol Remus and Tonks, and Bill and Fleur's eldest children, respectively had graduated the year before, and had begun dating during their fourth year. The two had been nearly inseparable ever since.
Harry was actually surprised that Teddy hadn't popped the question yet. Ginny glanced at her watch. "They had better hurry," she commented. "The train leaves soon." "Here they are," Ron nodded at the exit to the muggle side of the station.
Remus was practically pulling Teddy along by the forearm. The teenager's other hand was still firmly clasped around his girlfriend's. Tonks was busy escorting their daughters Carina and Quinn, in their sixth and third years, respectively. Colin slipped in quietly behind the older couple, and made his way to Daphne's side, sliding an arm around her waist as he kissed her cheek before greeting the rest of the group.
Remus nodded exasperatedly at Harry, while Tonks fussed over their daughters for a few moments, before reluctantly releasing them to join their friends, though not before making sure they greeted their extended family properly.
Remus kept a firm grip on Teddy, while Sol was pulled away by her own father, who had appeared quite suddenly, nodding a greeting to the rest before returning himself and Sol to Fleur, who was making sure their youngest daughter, fourteen year old Dominique, had everything she would need for the term. Bill and Fleur had kept their family in Egypt until just a couple of years before Sol was to begin schooling.
Harry had almost expected them to remain and send their children to a wizarding school in Africa or the Middle East, but Bill had assured the whole family that Hogwarts was the only place they had considered when it came to their children's education.
Even Fleur had admitted that Beaubaxton's wasn't an option, considering their entire family would be attending school in Britain.
Which was why they requested a transfer back to England when Sol was eight, to give her plenty of time to acclimate herself to the new culture. Though they had visited the family for holidays before, she had never actually lived in Britain when Bill and Fleur had left for Egypt a few months after Harry and Ginny's wedding, Fleur had already been pregnant, not that they had known it at the time. Though the whole family had enjoyed Egypt a great deal, Bill assured everyone that they were in England to stay.
Neither he nor Fleur really felt the need to go back to living abroad; why would they, after all, when their whole family was in Britain? "Everything all right, Remus?" Harry chuckled. Remus growled in annoyance and glared at his son. "I got enough of dragging you two out of broom cupboards when you were in school, why can't you keep it to a minimum in public areas?" Teddy just smiled.
"Like you and mum are any better." Remus turned red, and didn't seem to have a response, while the rest of the group laughed. Hermione looked at Remus. "I thought you would be staying at the castle this morning," she commented. Remus shrugged. "Minerva said there wasn't much need for the professors to arrive until noon.
It gives all of us with kids a chance to see them off, even if we'll be seeing them in a few hours anyway. Tradition and all." Hermione nodded understandingly, smiling at her fellow professor. Remus had been a beloved Defense professor for nineteen years now, and it was pretty obvious that he was good at it. Looking at him, confident and content, married with three children, no one would ever guess that he was a werewolf, even if it was common knowledge by now.
Harry's redesigned Wolfsbane potion had made the transformation much easier on his mind and body, and he looked like a man his age should, rather than years older.
He no longer had to take days off every month to recover, just needing the day of the full moon, before returning to his job immediately after. He made sure all the students were aware of his condition, and even if it was nerve-wracking for him, given the prejudices that the wizarding world had held for so long, the truth was, very few people really cared. His students thought he was a great teacher, and slowly, Remus was letting go of his own fears that he would be ostracized for something outside of his control.
He had even appeared as a guest speaker in Hagrid's NEWT class a few times, to teach about werewolves. Harry, Hermione, and Snape had spent a good deal of time trying to work on a cure for lycanthropy, but after nearly two decades, they had yet to find one. Nonetheless, Remus assured them that what they had done for his kind with the Wolfsbane potion including setting up a fund to allow all werewolves access to the potion, no matter if they could pay or not was more than enough.
It was their research and efforts that had given Harry and his friends in the Wizengamot the access they needed to push for a reform of werewolf rights. Teddy pouted a little as he kept his gaze on his girlfriend, a short distance away with her family. Sol kept glancing at him as well. She winked in his direction, and he grinned, his hair changing from turquoise to pink and back.
Remus rolled his eyes and lightly smacked the back of his son's head. James, turning back to check in with the adults, saw the addition of his cousin, and grinned, gesturing for him to join them. His own dark hair briefly shifted to Weasley red and Tonks pink, before he settled on turquoise, just like Teddy.
Harry sighed. "James, pick a color and stick to it," he called out. James shrugged and smirked, as Teddy pulled himself out of his father's grasp and went to join the group of kids. Remus and Harry shared an exasperated look. As Sirius had informed them, as soon as both of their kids had shown signs of being metamorphmagi, the gene was in the Black family.
It was easier to see where Teddy had gotten it from, but it had been a bit of a shock to Harry. As his grandmother had been a Black, though, Sirius had told him that it was always a possibility. Remus looked around, and nodded a greeting at the newest family to appear, as if out of nowhere. Severus didn't join the group, but he did acknowledge their greetings as he passed them with his wife and their daughter, Amber, who was going into her fourth year.
That union had surprised a lot of people, but as Snape had put it, you don't choose who you fall in love with, and everyone could agree that the woman in question, Joanne, ironically enough a muggle author of fairytale stories, was good for the Potions master.
Joanne had loved becoming a part of the wizarding world, and had already gotten several ideas for new books. She was completely fascinated by this mythical world, and ecstatic when their daughter showed early signs of being a witch. Harry glanced at his watch now, and looked around the platform. He whistled at the group of kids that had grown exponentially as each of his friends had arrived with their families.
They all turned to look at him and he jerked his head to the train. "Five minutes," he informed them. They nodded and went over to the adults to collect their belongings and say goodbye to their parents before getting on the train. Harry and Ginny hugged their children, and offered up farewells to their extended family as well. Ginny watched fondly as Lily grasped Harry in a tight embrace. Harry just smiled and rubbed her back comfortingly. "It'll be all right, Lils," he assured her.
"You've got your brother and sisters there, and if you need anything at all, Uncle Remus, Aunt Hermione, Uncle Neville, and Grandma Minnie are all there as well." Harry had teased Minerva mercilessly when James had called her Grandma Minnie, when he had been just three years old. Though Minerva had glared heavily at her adoptive nephew, she secretly loved being called 'grandma.' The term of endearment had stuck, and all of the Potter kids called the stern headmistress by the familial term.
They were the only ones that could get away with calling her Minnie, as well, not that Fred and George hadn't tried. Lily nodded hesitantly, and pulled away. "And you won't be mad if I'm not in Gryffindor?" Harry shook his head quickly, squatting down so that he was eye level with his daughter. "Lily, I don't care where you get sorted, as long as you're happy.
If you have any preferences though, the sorting hat will take your desire into account." Lily looked at him with wide eyes. "Really?" Harry nodded. "It did for me," he said softly, smiling comfortingly.
"Now, go get on that train, or it'll leave without you!" Lily giggled, but quickly followed the large group of kids onto the scarlet train. Harry stood up and shared a knowing look with his wife, before he glanced back at the exit.
"They're going to miss the train," he muttered. "You'd think he'd plan ahead enough to actually get here early just once." Ginny chuckled. "You've known the man how long, and you actually think he's capable of being early?" Harry shrugged. "Fair enough." Just two minutes before eleven, the last family burst through the barrier, walking quickly towards Harry and the rest of the group. "Sorry," Sirius gasped. "I was working on some family business, and lost track of time." They nodded in understanding, though a few shook their heads in exasperation, used to the man's tardiness by now.
In seven years, not once had the Black family actually managed to get to the platform more than five minutes before the train was to depart. If Harry didn't know any better, he'd say that the Weasley tardiness had shifted over to the Blacks.
Amelia rolled her eyes, and then hugged Harry and Susan. "I swear, I'm getting too old for this," she muttered.
"All I want to do is see my daughter off for her last year, and it's like the damn inquisition! How are you getting there, we need to delegate a guard, you can't leave yet, we're not prepared! I had to threaten to arrest some of them before they'd just let me leave!" Susan chuckled and Harry snorted. "I told them you didn't need a guard to come to the station," he said.
"It didn't make sense, since you're just Flooing here and walking twenty yards to the platform. Plus, you've got plenty of Aurors here already, including the Head of the DMLE and Head Auror. They're just blowing smoke." In addition to himself, Susan, and Tonks, there were at least half a dozen other Aurors who were seeing their kids off this morning.
Amelia nodded quickly. "Exactly! But everything is a battle with my Undersecretary. It's like she's terrified I'm going to step off a curb and get hit by a bus." Harry had to hold in a laugh.
"Well, buses can be very dangerous. I seem to recall an incident before my third year involving some very quick reflexes saving me from becoming one with the pavement." He paused briefly and considered.
"Though, to be fair, it really was Sirius' fault, showing up like a giant grim and scaring the living daylights out of me." Sirius chuckled, while Amelia growled and shoved him lightly, before turning to her daughter and giving her a hug, sniffing loudly.
Maia Black patted her mother's back soothingly. "It's all right, mum, I'll always be your little girl." Amelia nodded, smiling wetly, as she pulled away. Maia moved to hug Sirius next. "I'll see you at Christmas, dad," she said, grinning. Sirius nodded, ruffling her hair. "Have a good term. Play plenty of pranks, and enjoy your last year!" Maia rolled her eyes as she hurried towards the train just as it gave a loud whistle and started slowly moving out of the station.
The door opened, and James appeared, holding his hand out for Maia to grab onto. She did so quickly, and let her cousin pull her inside. James waved at the large group of adults, before closing the door once more, just as the Express began to pick up speed, leaving the platform behind as it started its journey north. Harry and the others watched until the scarlet engine could barely be seen anymore, before they all gave their farewells to each other, and headed back to their respective jobs.
Hermione, Remus, and Neville quickly took the Floo back to Hogwarts, followed by Bill, Fleur, Fred, and George, who were all headed to Diagon Alley. The large group headed to the Ministry Harry, Ginny, Amelia, Tonks, Luna, and Susan waited their turn, before walking through the fireplace one by one.
Harry clasped Ginny's hand in his as they walked through the Atrium and towards the lifts. So much has changed since the first time I walked through that barrier, he commented. Ginny sighed, and Harry smiled suddenly.
Do you remember the first time we saw each other? Ginny grinned. You asked my mum how to get onto the platform. I wanted to go to Hogwarts so badly. Harry nodded. You ran along the platform with the train, until it left the station. Ginny looked at him.
You were watching? Harry shrugged. I always noticed you. I might not have realized it or known what it meant at the time, but I was always aware of you.
I think it was because of the bond. Ginny nodded slightly. It did make sense. A lot's changed, she repeated her husband's words. They held hands right up to the point where they had to separate to go to their different Departments in the Ministry. So much had changed since Harry had been introduced to the wizarding world, all those years ago. It felt like a lifetime, and in a way, it was. Harry had lost so much, but he had definitely gained more. He had great friends. A wonderful family, consisting of the brothers and sisters he had always wanted, uncles who loved him unconditionally, an aunt who had stood against a man hailed as Merlin in order to prove to him that he didn't deserve to be treated like dirt, more nieces and nephews than he had ever thought possible.
A son and daughters who were perfect. And Ginny. The love of his life, the reason he had for breathing. She was everything to him. She had propelled him forward when things looked hopeless. She had stood by his side no matter what life threw at them, and she had born it all with strength and pride. There may have been easier paths that Harry could have taken. He could have continued following Dumbledore.
He could have let Voldemort take over without fighting. But life had taught him the difference between doing what was right and what was easy, and Ginny had shown him all that could be gained by choosing to do what was necessary, rather than bending over and stepping aside. So yes, Harry had lost a great deal, but he knew that he had gained so much more.
Voldemort had been dead for nineteen years. All was well. Yeah… I'm not too great at endings. So that's it then! I can't believe I finished this saga! Please review and let me know what you think. Yes, I know that I am saying Amelia has been Minister for over two decades; I haven't found anything that limits the number of terms a Minister can serve in Magical Britain.
Since Amelia is so popular, it would make sense that she has won reelections with no problem. But, she's likely close to retiring by this point. It's been a long tenure, and she's ready to step down. Whenever the next election roles around (every seven years, potentially, according to the Harry Potter Wiki), she probably won't run again. And just because I know there are some people out there who will want the condensed facts, below I'm posting the kids, what year they're in, who their parents are, etc.
It also has little details that I couldn't really work into the epilogue, like godparents and what House they're all in.
I know some of you will want to see that, to make it easier, because I was getting confused while I was writing it! If anyone has any questions on what the older generation is doing for jobs and all that, just message me, and I'll reply. But please make sure you're signed in, because I can't send anything to a guest!
This may be the end of this particular saga, but I'm not completely shutting the door on this world. I may very well write more stories, maybe one shots about the younger generation or snippets of time throughout the years after Harry and friends finished school.
Who knows? I've got some ideas for short stories, so stay tuned! Harry and Ginny: James Sirius Potter, 17 Seventh year Gryffindor Godparents: Ron and Hermione Veronica (Ronnie) Susan Potter, 14 Fourth year Gryffindor Godparents: Neville and Susan Victoria (Tori) Hermione Potter, 14 Fourth Year Gryffindor Godparents: Blaise and Luna Lily Luna Potter, 11 First year Would most likely be a Gryffindor or Ravenclaw Godparents: Daphne and Remus Ron and Hermione: Duncan Arthur Weasley-Prewett, 14 Fourth year Ravenclaw Godparents: Harry and Ginny Juliet (Jules) Emma Weasley-Prewett, 12 Second year Gryffindor Godparents: Neville and Susan Neville and Susan: Francis (Frankie) Edgar Longbottom, 15 Fifth year Gryffindor Godparents: Harry and Ginny Elisa Marie Longbottom, 11 First Year Would most likely be Gryffindor or Hufflepuff Godparents: Ron and Hermione Blaise and Luna: Anahita (Ana) Celia Zabini, 15 Fifth year Slytherin Godparents: Harry and Daphne Maricella (Mari) Cordelia Zabini, 12 Second year Gryffindor Godparents: Neville and Susan Halcyon (Hal) Corvus Zabini, 10 Probably a Slytherin, but uncertain Godparents: Ron and Ginny Daphne and Colin: Matthew Alexander Greengrass, 12 Second year Hufflepuff Godparents: Dennis and Astoria Fred and Angelina: Bryce Weasley, 17 Seventh year Gryffindor Godparents: George and Ginny Braxton Weasley, 17 Seventh year Gryffindor Godparents: Harry and Alicia George and Alicia Brigit Weasley, 17 Seventh year Gryffindor Godparents: Fred and Angelina Bryan Weasley, 17 Seventh year Gryffindor Godparents: Harry and Ginny Bill and Fleur: Soleil (Sol) Anneliese Weasley, 18 Was a Ravenclaw Dating Teddy Lupin Godparents: Sirius and Amelia Name meaning: French for 'sun' (just in case anyone was wondering) Dominique Monet Weasley, 14 Fourth year Slytherin Godparents: Charlie and Tonks Sirius and Amelia: Maia Elizabeth Black, 17 Seventh year Ravenclaw Godparents: Remus and Tonks Snape: Amber Snape, 14 Fourth year Slytherin Godparents: Minerva and Joanne's brother Remus and Tonks: Theodore (Teddy) Remus Lupin, 18 Was a Hufflepuff Dating Sol Weasley Godparents: Sirius and Minerva Carina Phoebe Lupin, 16 Sixth year Gryffindor Godparents: Bill and Amelia Quinn Fiona Lupin, 13 Third year Hufflepuff Godparents: Harry and Ginny _ _ _ THE END!!!
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