All Will Be Well
"They're going to hate me."
"Why would they hate you?"
"Because I'm a terribly flyer."
"You- Ginny, they scouted you because you're a brilliant flyer."
"They were confused!" Ginny made a strange flailing gesture, spinning on the spot before sitting down and then standing back up again.
Harry, Ron and Hermione shot amused glances at each other behind Ginny's back.
Harry grabbed her hand lightly, giving it a little squeeze. "They weren't confused, you're amazing. And you'll do amazing." He stood and guided Ginny to the fire place. "I wish I could come and watch."
Ginny sighed. "I'm not sure if that would make me more nervous or not."
Harry glanced at the clock. "You better go."
Ginny nodded, looking like she was being sent to the gallows. "Yeah."
Harry leaned forward, giving her a small peck on the lips. Ginny smiled and turned towards the floo while Ron made a gagging sound.
Hermione sat forward, taking a sip of a tea. "I think I'm even going to be heartbroken if she doesn't get on the team, she wants it so bad."
Harry and Hermione frowned at each other. Harry didn't like even imagining Ginny returning after try outs, crushed and disappointed, her shoulders slumped in defeat.
Ron shrugged. "It's Ginny. She'll be fine."
Hermione flicked him on the forearm. "Don't be so cavalier. She's wanted to join the Holyheads since third year, you know."
Ron flicked back. "I'm not being cavalier. It's just that Ginny is tougher than the rest of us combined. If she doesn't get in this time, she'll brush it off and try again."
Harry realized, a little startled, that Ron was proud of his little sister.
Hermione gave Ron a small smile. "In the meantime, let's practice these spells."
"For all the advanced magic that George does, you'd think that he would have gotten better O.W.L. scores. I can't believe how much magic I've had to learn since starting there."
"Poor Ron. It's a bit like six year when you thought that all those breaks would just be free time." Hermione gave him a fake sympathetic pat on the arm.
Harry grinned. "Hey, at least you don't have these spells all used on you at work. It's a nightmare now that the others have gotten better at dueling."
"That's rich. I work for George Weasley. You think that these spells aren't used on me at work?"
"Oh? You'd rather a team of aurors coming after you than your brother playing pranks?"
"Let me repeat myself. I work for George. Weasley."
Hermione tapped her wand against the table. "Can we focus please?"
An hour later the fire turned green. Harry jerked around, his heart speeding up, his mind racing. Surely tryouts aren't already over?
But it was Andy, looking mildly grumpy as she took in Harry's disappointed face, Hermione's slumping back into the couch, and Ron's grumbled, "Oh, it's just you."
"That's a cheery welcome."
"Sorry, we thought you were Ginny."
"Yes, I suppose I would be dissapointed too if I was expecting a pretty redhead and I got me instead."
Harry laughed. "She's at tryouts right now."
Andy's eyebrows raised, "Is she? Ah well, I'm sure she is doing great. Though I'm not Ginny with news, I do have a lot of food. My friend Marcie was going to have a large potluck but cancelled at the last minute, so I have about fifteen extra beef and ale pie if you all are interested?"
Ron sat forward again, his face bright with enthusiasm. "Yes, definitely." Behind him Hermione rolled her eyes.
Harry grinned. "Yes, we'd love some. Will you bring Teddy as well?"
Andy nodded before disappearing for a minute, reappearing in a blaze of green flame, Teddy on her hip, his bag over one arm and a box of pies in the other.
Harry helped her through, taking her things and summoning some plates, when the fire turned green again, Molly and Arthur in the flames this time. "Harry dear, we just know that she's going to come tell you first, but I just can't wait to know. Can we wait here?"
Molly and Arthur pulled themselves through, brushing off their clothes as they noticed the other people already there. Andy stood up, smiling. "This is great timing Arthur, Molly, I just brought over a lot of extra pies."
"Oh Andromeda, what a coincidence! I brought a over a pot of stew. I'm still used to making food for nine, but it's a bit silly with just us two." Molly enlarged a large pot and placed it to the box of pies. Ron's face was practically glowing with happiness.
Harry summoned some bowls as well as some baby food for Teddy. Molly was cuddling him, smiling down at his easy, bright, smile. "Don't any of you say anything, especially because they haven't said anything yet, but I suspect that Fleur might be pregnant."
Everyone in the room gasped. Andy reached forward, gently taking Teddy and sitting him in his play chair, spooning him food. "What makes you say that, Molly?"
Molly smiled, taking a bite of a pie. "She just has a certain glow about her. Plus she was sick as a dog the morning we first arrived for a visit."
"I hope so. Molly, Arthur, you'll make such excellent grandparents."
"Oh we can't wait. Molly's already started knitting socks and hats."
"I'm so excited, I just want a whole horde of grandbabies." Suddenly Molly snapped her head toward Harry, Ron, and Hermione. "But not quite yet from you four, you hear me?"
Hermione and Ron's faces turned bright red instantly. Ron covered his face, "Mum, please."
Hermione gave a high pitched, almost hysterical, sort of giggle and punched Harry in the leg, shooting him a look telling him he should speak.
Harry felt his cheeks warm a little before stammering, "I- I wouldn't worry about it, Mrs. Weasley, um, Molly."
Arthur and Molly exchanged a knowing glance before giving the three teenagers a stern look.
Grinning, Andy changed the topic. "How are things at the Ministry now, Arthur?"
Conversation flowed easily between the three older adults after that. Harry took turns between eating and holding Teddy, marveling at how big he had already gotten. Hermione took a turn holding him, smiling softly, but still looking a little stiff even after having held him many times.
Ron loved Teddy, throwing him up in the air, making faces at him, playing peek-a-boo. Teddy always squealed, his hair a bright red, whenever he was with Ron. He also always slept through the night, exhausted. Whenever Harry saw Ron and Teddy, he always felt a strange mix of jealousy and happiness. Ron would make a great dad one day.
Hermione always watched Ron and Teddy with a strange gleam in her eye. Harry leaned over, "What are you thinking about?"
Hermione's face turned pink, but she smiled a small, pleased smile. "Ron's good with children. I don't know why that surprises me, I guess it doesn't. It's just...good to know."
Harry smirked at her. "You heard what Molly said, Hermione." Hermione rolled her eyes and knocked her shoulders lightly into his.
The fire turned flared green and all conversation stopped. Even Teddy stopped gurgling.
Ginny stepped into the room, her hair wild behind her, her face red and dirt streaked. She looked around the living room, surprised at all the people there, before her eyes landed on Harry.
Her face broke out into a huge grin, "I got in."
Harry jumped to his feet, his eyes only on Ginny as loud happy exclamations happened behind him. He wrapped her in a tight hug and twirled her around, her face shining in happiness, her body shaking in his arms as she laughed.
He knew what memory he could use should he ever run into a dementor again.
Harry kissed her soundly, but briefly, on the mouth before putting her down, watching as everyone took turns giving hugs and congratulations.
Ron turned on the radio and Andy poured everyone some wine. Ginny sat on the couch with Teddy on her lap, drifting off to sleep despite the noise. "There was some tough competition. And the keeper was completely on a different level. No offense Ron, but she made you look like a slug."
Ron scowled but Ginny continued, "Training starts in late July. I'll be starting as a second string, but that's pretty typical. By the middle of the season I should even be starter in some games. The first strings always have an injury or two by then. Not that I'm hoping for them to be injured, but…"
Ginny looked around the room elated, laughing at Ron, smiling at Hermione, being squeezed by her parents, congratulated by Andy again who poured her more wine, gently rubbing small circles on Teddy's stomach as he slept, his head in the crook of her other arm.
Harry was still standing, watching them all, a glass in his hand, as Ginny made eye contact with him again and gave him a wink that seemed to say everything all at once.
He was in King's Cross again. Not the one he knew, not the one where he would go home to Hogwarts every year, where he met the Weasley's. He was in the white one. The one where met Dumbledore, where the poor, feeble ruined part of Voldemort's soul whimpered.
He was dead.
Harry felt his heart beating wildly in his chest. The calm of his first visit wasn't there. All he could feel was the frantic need to be back where he belonged, with his family.
Harry waited, his breathing harsh, panicked. He waited for a train or Dumbledore or someone else to come. He waited to wake up.
But nothing happened. King's cross glowed white, his gasping breathes both echoed and swallowed by the extreme, oppressive quiet.
Harry felt like his chest was going to explode, how fast his heart was beating, fear clawing at his throat, making sickness rise in his stomach. He screamed and then screamed again, something deep and primal, past dignity, making his throat raw.
But still nothing. Time past, he wasn't sure how long. He wondered if this was punishment for denying death, for getting to live again.
A voice behind him answered his unaired question. "Yes, it is."
Harry spun around, still in a crouch. There was a crowd of people. Colin, Fred, Cedric, Tonks, Remus, Moody, Snape, his parents, many faces of people he remembered from the battle. It was Sirius who spoke, his face colder than it had ever been in life.
"That panic, that need to be back with your loved ones, don't you think we felt it too? Why should you get to go back? Why should you get to be happy, in love, loved? Why do you get to go back?"
Harry swallowed thickly, falling from his crouch to his knees, licking his lips, his stomach sick with desperation, "Sirius, please, please, I know I don't deserve it. If I walked off to go sacrifice myself, then I should have actually made the sacrifice. I-I don't deserve what was taken from you all, I know, I know, but please, I love them so…"
Sirius suddenly moved in closer, frightening, his face full of rage and sadness, "You love them so much? Do you think that love will save you from death?"
Harry woke up gasping yes.
He looked around the room, the street light outside making shadows out of the dressers where he kept his clothes, the framed photos of his loved ones, the drawings that Dean and Luna had sent, the desk with his various accounts information on it.
He got up shakily and walked downstairs, still in the dark, past Teddy's play room where he slept soundly, past the couch with the pillows Ginny picked out, past the coffee table, still covered in empty wine glasses, to the kitchen.
He filled a glass with water and sat at the table but felt oddly cold, kind of exposed.
He sat in the corner, his back against the cabinets and breathed, his mind strangely blank.
He woke up cold and stiff, the glass on its side on the stone floor next to him. He stood and walked into the living room, blinking in confusion in the dim light of the soon to be rising sun. Virgil hooted at him from the window sill, silhouetted in the light. He had a mouse in this mouth and a letter tied to his leg.
Harry leaned against the back of the couch, watching Virgil swallow his meal in one and fly silently over to him, his ink black eyes serene, his feathers soft as soot against his cheek.
He cried, the tears on the left side of his face mingling with Virgil's feathers. Eventually the light of morning filled the room, breaking some of the surreal horror the dream had stuck him in.
Harry sat on the couch, moving Virgil to his lap. Virgil continued to look at him, unbothered by the dampness, his large eyes sweet and deep. He hooted once, and stuck his leg out.
He took the letter, unrolling it with shaky hands.
Fleur and I were hoping to have a small dinner party next week, if you can make it? We want to have you and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, Neville, Dean, and Luna as well, if they can make it. I suppose we were thinking about having people over that stayed here during the war and Neville because he is friends with you all. Plus Neville and Fleur have struck up a friendship recently, it's a long story, one we can go into at dinner.
It will be next Friday at seven.
Please let me know if that works for you!
Harry read through the letter twice before bursting out in a loud and empty kind of laughter.
"Virgil, what is my life? One minute I'm having horrible dreams, vivid, too vivid, like there more than dreams… The next I'm getting dinner invites… I...I just don't understand…"
Harry looked down at Virgil, his owl's eyes so focused on his face Harry felt a little startled.
"I mastered death, didn't I, Virgil?"
Virgil made a small sound, his eyes seemed impossibly large, like warm, dark caves. The owls kinship, the similarity with the thestrals felt more plain than ever. Harry felt like his skin was tightening, the hair on the back of his neck seemed to stand on end. But he didn't feel frightened. He felt small.
"If I mastered death, why am I so afraid of it now?"
The owl blinked slowly, blocking the depths there briefly.
"Why, if I know that people live on in some way, do I have these dreams where people I knew, people I love, tell me such horrible things? None of them...I would I hope none of them would actually wish that I was dead, think that it's unfair of me to live… Why am I making these people so evil in my dreams?"
Virgil moved closer, almost like he was closing in on something.
"When I mastered death, I did it by accepting it, right?"
Virgil's talons were on the edge of Harry's arm.
"So I need...I need to accept that...that they're dead?"
Virgil hooted again, lovely and somber.
Harry shook his head. "But it's my fault."
The owl dug in his talons just a little, a small reprimand.
"My guilt doesn't bring them back, does it?"
Virgil moved his talons away.
"The only way to master death is to accept it. The only way to defeat death is love. I know these things."
Virgil pushed the letter forward with his beak. Harry looked at the invite dinner with his closest friends and felt a strange, raising, burning sort of realization.
"I need to accept that they are dead. And then rather than feel guilty, I need to love them, what they did, their memories... That's the only way."
Virgil flew to Harry's shoulder, clicking his beak against the stem of his glasses before flying away upstairs.
Harry was writing the letter accepting the invitation when Teddy woke up crying.
Teddy needed his nappy changed, food, and fifteen minutes of Harry bouncing him in his arms before he quieted, staring at the light coming through the playroom window with a slightly grumpy face, his big brown eyes squinting.
"'Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.' A very smart man told that to me once, Teddy. I think I am only now starting to really understand. The important thing isn't that you'll grow up an orphan, is it? It's that you're here. It's the same for me, isn't it? It isn't important that I should have died. It's that I'm here. I'm here with you, and with Ginny, and with Ron and Hermione, and everybody, that's all that matters."
Teddy scrunched up his face at Harry before trying to grab his glasses. Harry laughed. "I suppose that you might be a little young yet to understand this conversation."
"So, Virgil lead you through the land of the dead?" Ginny grinned up at him, petting Virgil who was loving the attention, his eyes closed in contentment.
Harry's mouth fell open a little. "Why does it sound stupid now? It's just that...I swear he was trying to help me think through it."
Ginny shook her head, still grinning. "It doesn't matter if you are imagining it or not, you know. Either way, I'm quite happy with anything that takes some of that weight off your shoulders."
Harry took Ginny's hand between his own, just enjoying the feeling of it there. "How does it feel to be wrapping up going to Hogwarts?"
Ginny looked thoughtful, her head tilted a little to the side. "Good. I feel ready. I mean, it's been memorable, but…"
Harry looked down at her contemplative face, "But even with the tight community that came up this year from it, you're ready to leave those memories behind?"
Ginny smiled at him, "Yes, sure, that, and I'm just truly sick of doing homework. N.E.W.T.s are the worst. You're so lucky you didn't have to do them."
Harry laughed. "I had a good reason. And it wasn't like I was doing something all that easy, either."
Ginny frowned, looking between Harry and the pile of books stacked on the kitchen table. "I don't know. If they offered taking down a Dark Lord to get out of this, I think that I'd jump at the opportunity."
"Hey, even Hermione the other night, around two in the morning, threw down her quill and yelled out that she was starting to miss the blasted tent."
Harry threw back his head and laughed.
Ginny's smiling face dropped down into a hard to read grin. "But yeah, it's like what you said. I'm glad that I went back, but…"
They stood next to each other in silence, lost in thought for a while.
"So you're going to be some big time quidditch player soon."
"And you're going to be a full blown Auror, walking down the street, barking orders, arresting people."
"Yes, it will just be authority and glamour the whole time."
"I hear that you might have to do some paperwork sometimes, too."
"All the time, as far as I can gather. They tricked us with that intense training that first six months. It seemed like it would be all dueling and tracking then, but now every time I see a ministry letterhead I flinch."
"If it makes you feel any better, I think that being the new person on a quidditch team might involve a small amount of hazing."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, their hands intertwined. Ginny rested her head against Harry's shoulder. "We're going to be okay, aren't we Harry? All of us?"
Harry rested his cheek against the top of her head. "I think that life will be good, and hard, and bad and easy. But that won't matter."
Ginny moved her head, looking up at him, her eyebrows furrowed. "What do you mean?"
Harry smiled at her, touching the ends of her hair with his finger tips. "Because we'll be living it."
A/N: And that's it! Thank you all so much for reading this little fic of mine. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it! I, again, want to thank all the reviewers who kept me going this whole time, and invite you to please review what you think of it now.