Author's Note: I'm sorry for the long wait! I had second midterms, aka seven essays due during the same week. Yeah, someone higher up is out to get me. Anyways, I haven't had a whole lot of free time, but now that midterms are over I'm hoping to wrap this story up soon. Thank you all for sticking with the story! Without further ado, here is Harry's highly anticipated (hopefully) return!
Harry winked at Fleur, then swung the doors to the hospital wing open.
"So, what did I miss?" he asked loudly, entering the room.
The scene he walked in to was- well frankly, Harry didn't know how to describe it. He was pretty sure he didn't want to remember it. Sirius and Remus were huddled together with the Weasleys, and it looked like Sirius was unresponsive. Dumbledore was sitting with Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick, talking quietly to Madam Pomfrey. The Delacours were sitting on a cot, trying to console a distraught looking Gabrielle. Cedric was sitting with his parents, and he looked deathly pale. Katie was crying with Alicia and Angelina trying to console her, and the twins huddled around them, but they too had tears streaming down their face. And Harry had never heard Hermione make that sound before- the sound of gut-wrenching, heartbreak sobs, as she clung to Ron.
It seemed nobody heard him come in, or at least, they were so out of it they didn't notice anybody walk through the door.
Harry could only stare, and he could feel unwanted tears starting to build up in his eyes. He hadn't really thought about the ramifications his near-death, well technically his actual death, would have on others. He had just woken up about 10 minutes ago, anyways. He clear his throat. "Ummm…hi?"
"'arry!" shouted Gabrielle, and she took off running and leaped into Harry's arms. Harry ignored the pain that shot up his arms as he caught her. "I knew you would be back!" she said, nuzzling her head into his neck.
"Well I couldn't leave my favorite girl here all alone, could I?" asked Harry, looking down at her bright blue eyes. She peered up at him and whispered, "I knew you would be back," she said again. Harry chuckled and handed her over to Fleur, and then looked back around the room.
Remus was the first Harry's eyes connected with, and Harry might have laughed at the look on his uncle's face if it wasn't for the dried tear tracks he saw staining Remus' cheeks.
"Harry!" came Remus' strangled cry. "How-wha…what?"
Everybody seemed to be looking as if he was seeing a ghost.
"Moony…?" said Harry, taking a tentative step forward, only to be cut off by Dumbledore, who was now standing in front of him. Dumbledore drew his wand and pointed it at Harry's chest.
"Professor…?" asked Harry nervously. Everybody else in the room was still frozen- from shock, mostly at seeing Harry alive.
"What did I see in the Mirror of Erised your first year at Hogwarts?"
"Uhhh…socks?" answered Harry, baffled by the question. Suddenly, he couldn't breath as he was swept into a hug by Dumbledore, who was chuckling happily.
"Harry, my boy, it is you! You're alive! But how?" asked Dumbledore, talking faster than Harry had ever heard.
Harry was interrupted from answering by a mixture of shouts.
"Cub!" "Pup!" and was promptly smashed in between Remus and Sirius, pulling him into a group hug. Both men had tears streaming down their face, but this time they were due to happiness.
"Moony, Padfoot, get off!" yelped Harry, as the three of them fell to the ground.
"Dog pile!" Harry heard one of the twins yell. Or maybe it was both. He really didn't have time to think about it as the twins jumped on top of the pile, followed by Angelina and Alicia.
"Hey! Get off of him!" yelled Madame Pomfrey, who seemed to have gathered her wits by this time. "Let me check him!"
The twins scrambled off of the pile, and Remus and Sirius reluctantly parted from Harry. Harry slowly stood up and wiped his hands on his pants, and looked around. Katie was walking slowly towards him now, and it seemed like everybody froze. Harry couldn't really decipher the look in Katie's eyes.
"Err…Katie-Kat?" he said uncertainly. "Ouch!" he yelped, as Katie's fist came in contact with his shoulder.
She had punched him.
"Dammit Harry! What the hell is wrong with you!" shouted Katie, pulling her arm back to punch him again. Harry took this chance to pull her close to him, and wrap his arms around her, effectively trapping her arms.
"Katie, calm down," he whispered into her ear.
"Dammit Harry! You-you…you died!" sobbed Katie, who raised her arms and clung to him. "You died…"
"I'm here Katie-Kat, I'm right here," murmured Harry, holding her tight. "I'm right here."
He heard her sniffle and felt her pull back a bit. He looked down and met her eyes, which where bright with tears. "You're an idiot," she sniffled.
Harry smiled and wiped away some of her fallen tears with the pads of his thumb. "I love you too, Katie-Kat," he said, and pulled her in for another hug.
"HARRY JAMES POTTER!"
Harry froze. He knew that voice. He's heard that voice yell that exact same thing every time he was in trouble. He reluctantly released Katie and looked up to meet the angered face of one of the most important people in his life.
"Hermione…" he said weakly, scratching the back of his neck.
"Harry James Potter," she said again, but a little quieter. It was then that Harry noticed she was still crying. It was in that moment when he felt absolutely horrible. He knew that his absence would affect his loved ones, but Hermione was his sister. And she thought he was dead.
"Hermione," he said again, and this time he couldn't help the tears from falling. She uncrossed her arms and looked at him for another second, and they both surged forward at the same time, meeting in the center. He pulled her into his arms and she collapsed into him, still sobbing.
"Mione," Harry choked out through his tears. "I'm sorry."
"I thought you had left me," he heard Hermione say into his neck, her arms clinging to him as he hugged her just as tight. "You left me." Harry could feel her tears soaking his shirt, but he really didn't care.
"I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry Mione," he said again. He pulled back slightly and took her tear-streaked face in his hands. "I'm here." He took one hand from around his neck and placed it on his chest, right over his heart. "See? I'm right here. And I'm not going anywhere." He cracked a small smile. "It'll take more than a killing curse to get rid of me, you know that Mione."
She made a noise that sounded like a mixture of sobbing and chuckling, eventually leading to a full out laugh. She pulled him into another hug, and Harry felt another set of arms around them and saw bright red hair.
"Hey Ron," he said, his voice still muffled by Hermione's hair. "Nice of you to join the party."
He felt, more than heard, Hermoine laugh against his chest, and then he was laughing, and Ron was laughing, and he could hear the twins yelling something about the Golden Trio being reunited again.
Ron finally released the two, and Harry took a step back.
"Don't ever scare us like that again, mate," said Ron, pounding Harry on the back.
"Wouldn't dream of it," said Harry, smiling.
Harry immediately felt Fleur slip her hand in his. He was sort of surprised she had left his side, but she knew how important his family was to him and probably wanted to give him some space.
He turned to her, and saw she was already looking at him.
"I love you," he whispered, pulling her closer and putting his arm around her, and she reached up and intertwined their fingers, resting her head on his shoulder. He gave her a kiss on her temple, and wrapped her in his arm a bit tighter. He couldn't believe he had almost been without her.
"Mr. Potter!" yelled a voice, startling him out of his thoughts. He turned and saw Madam Pomfrey with several potions on a tray. Harry groaned.
"None of that, Mr. Potter," said Madam Pomfrey sternly. "Now go to your regular spot."
Harry groaned again but the combined glares of Fleur, Hermione and Katie silenced him, and he shuffled over to his usual hospital bed. He lay down, and everyone huddled around his hospital bed. At least, everyone tried to- Remus and Sirius took up a chair on either side of him, and Fleur sat next to him on the bed. Hermione and Ron stood behind Sirius, and Katie and Angelina and Alicia stood behind Remus. The adults all huddled near the foot of Harry's bed, even Professor McGonagall, who Harry greeted with a slight tip of his head.
"Minnie," said Harry.
"Don't call me that, Mr. Potter," she said, but everyone could clearly see the small smile that adorned her face.
"Harry, my boy," said Dumbledore, as Madam Pomfrey shoved potions into Harry's hands that he downed diligently (mostly because of the looks he was getting from Fleur). "If you feel up to it, we would really like to discuss the events of tonight."
Harry took a deep breath and nodded. He reached for Fleur's hand and intertwined their hands, bringing her hand up and kissing the back of it.
"Ok, well it started when Cedric left with the cup…"
Harry went on to tell them the story of the graveyard, the same thing he told Fleur. They all gasped at the same parts, and shuddered at the right ones, and most looked murderous when they found out what happened to Harry before the back up had arrived. When he got to the part about his parents, Harry paused, trying to collect his thoughts. He was hesitant to share that memory with everyone, but he knew he at least needed to tell Dumbledore.
"Perhaps everyone can give Harry a short break," said Dumbledore, seemingly understanding where Harry's hesitance was coming from. Everyone nodded and left, except for Fleur who had taken to cuddling under Harry's arm. Sirius and Remus all remained, as did Dumbledore, who moved closer to Harry.
"I didn't want to- err, share this part with everyone, Professor," said Harry. "It's just…it's a little personal and I think maybe you need to hear it." He took another deep breath. "I saw my parents tonight."
"What?" asked Remus, startled. Sirius continued to stare at Harry.
"Yeah, when I err…died," said Harry, and he felt Fleur's arm around his midsection squeeze a little tighter. "I ended up in a place that looked exactly like Hogwarts. And I talked to my parents. And they told me that when Voldemort's curse hit me, he killed a part of his soul that was latched on to me from when he tried to kill me when I was a baby."
"What does that mean?" asked Sirius, scooting closer.
"It is…as I suspected," said Dumbledore, slowly. "I had some guesses, but I couldn't be sure until now. Tom made horcruxes."
Harry heard Sirius and Remus suck in their breath. "Horcruxes?" he asked.
"Horcruxes," said Dumbledore, nodding his head. "They are the darkest kind of magic out there. They're objects that can hold a piece of one's soul so that if one dies, they can come back through the help of these objects."
"And I'm…a horcrux?" asked Harry, feeling like he was going to throw up.
"You were a horcrux," Dumbledore said. "But it sounds like it's gone now. And your parents told you it was. This is the second horcrux you've encountered in your lifetime, Harry."
"Second?" asked Remus.
"…the diary," said Harry slowly. "Tom Riddle's diary. In my second year. I stabbed it with a basilisk fang."
"Indeed," confirmed Dumbledore. "You destroyed one of his horcruxes that night in the Chamber of Secrets."
"So he had more than one?" asked Sirius.
"Yes, but fortunately for us, we have Tom in custody. With the use of veritaserum, we can find and destroy all of them, and stop him once and for all," said Dumbledore, smiling with the ever-present twinkle in his eyes shining a bit brighter. "I think you should get some rest Harry. It's been an exceedingly long day. But before I go, I want to thank you. You may not have known it at the time, but you have saved the world tonight, Harry."
Harry rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "I didn't do anything…" he mumbled.
"No, Harry. You did everything," said Dumbledore. "You saved many lives tonight. Now, you should rest. We'll talk more tomorrow."
Dumbledore walked out and left Harry with Fleur, Sirius and Remus.
"Moony, Padfoot, you two should go get some sleep too," said Harry. "You both look like crap."
Sirius barked out a laugh, but then his face turned serious. "You really scared us there, pup."
"We thought you were gone," added Remus.
"I'm sorry you guys," said Harry, looking down at his hands. "I just- he was going to kill you Sirius, and I- I mean, I love you. Both of you."
"We love you too, cub," said Remus. Sirius and Remus both stood.
"And we're going to celebrate this whole saving the world thing properly when we get home," added Sirius with a smile.
"Wait…home?" asked Harry, trying to sit up but was hindered by Fleur, who seemed to have fallen asleep with her arms wrapped around Harry. "Home?" he asked again, a little quieter.
"We caught Peter," said Sirius. "I'm cleared of all charges. As of tonight, you are officially in our custody, Prongslet."
"I can't- we're going to…this is amazing!" shouted Harry. He heard Fleur mumble something and he quickly lowered his voice. "This is amazing!" he said again. "Now I can keep my promise."
"What promise?" asked Remus.
"My parents made me promise to take care of you two," he said.
"Get some sleep, pup," said Sirius, who looked like he had tears in his eyes.
"We'll see you in the morning," added Remus, whose eyes were shining as well.
Harry nodded, and both Sirius and Remus gave him a kiss on the top of his head, and he wasn't even embarrassed. He was going to live with his family. He looked down at Fleur, who was peacefully sleeping and he wondered how he got so lucky.
He gave her a kiss on the top of her head. "I love you," he murmured into her hair. He looked down and saw her eyes flutter open, and she smiled at him.
"I love you too," she whispered back, and cupped his cheek with her hand.
She adjusted herself so that she was tucked securely under his arm, her arm around his waist. She entangled their legs and pulled the blankets up over them, and buried her face in the crook of his neck.
Harry smiled and took his glasses off, placing them on the table next to them. He gave her one more kiss on the top of her head, and closed his eyes. The warmth from her body so close to his felt nice, and he was lulled to sleep by her breathing as he eventually succumbed to the sleepiness that had crept onto him throughout this ridiculously long day.