A/N- So, this was suggested to me by a reader and I liked the idea instantly. This is the first chapter of this story and it will not be regularly updated like my other works. This will not be a very long story but I hope to keep it under 25 chapters. Let's see how it goes. Thank you all for your support.
A very old person who looked ancient in age was reading a diary he had started writing years ago. This person was known as Harry Potter or the boy-who-lived or the chosen one or the man who conquered. He was the Lord of the Houses of Potter and Black and he had risen as Minister of Magic in later life. The Diary was a tale of his story from the moment when the Battle to Hogwarts was over to the moment he had married his wife who had been with him for 80 years.
Tom Riddle's body fell with a final thud to the ground, his eyes lifeless and horror etched on his face. His own killing curse had backfired at him and now there were no Horcruxes left to save him. Finally the worst Dark Lord was dead!
It was over. Finally, they had won. Harry was still exhilarated with the thought that the war was finally over and now they could get on with their lives. There was eerie silence in the Great Hall for a few moments as Voldemort fell. Finally, the defenders started cheering for him, all running towards him and embracing him from all sides. He could not even distinguish how many people had surrounded him. The best he could remember was Minerva McGonagall rushing at him as soon as he had caught the elder wand. As a habit, he had stuffed the wand into his back pocket.
He kept hugging people and accepting their congratulations, smiling when needed, patting someone's back, shaking hands with another, hugging a friend who needed it. He did not remember how much time had passed. As soon as people started leaving the castle one by one, Harry sought out Ginny.
There she was with her family, all of them still in grief with Fred's death. Of course he too was grieving with his death. Fred had been as good as a brother to him all these years right from the moment he had seen him joke with Mrs. Weasley that she called herself their mother and she could not differentiate between them on the platform. The boy who had helped get his trunk on the Hogwarts Express, the boy who had come to rescue him from Privet Drive when Uncle Vernon had fixed bars outside his window, the same Fred who was a comic relief in a tense situation and a word of advise whenever Harry needed one. The twins had been there for him without even asking for anything. Even when Ron walked out on him, they both stayed. Now that Fred was dead! He cautiously walked towards the Weasleys. George was slumped on the ground, his head on his knees and Harry knew, crying besides the body of Fred. There was Percy who was crying, his eyes red and Mrs. Weasley was sitting beside him, her head on his shoulder and her eyes looking vacant. Ron was beside Hermione and trying to look brave but Harry knew it was facade and it would crumble as soon as Ron was alone. His eyes looked full of tears and he was just barely holding them. Harry knew it was the hardest thing to do for him. It was perhaps the bravest thing trying to look after everyone when he himself was broken. He looked at Ron who nodded in his direction and they understood each other. Harry would give him time before he breached his personal space again. Ginny was there beside Arthur who looked in shock with the loss that he had faced while she had her eyes closed and resting her head on his shoulder. Bill was comforting Fleur and telling something to her in low voices. Charlie was there and helping others with things, perhaps just to keep himself busy and not to think too much about what had happened.
His eyes however were looking for Remus. He was another loss that Harry felt acutely. The werewolf who was the last link to his parents, the last of his family and he was also gone. Tonks and Moony had been laid side by side with their hands separated by inches and there was peace on their faces. Harry did not even know if he should cry or if he could cry. There were tears in his eyes but he could not shed them. Perhaps, they were waiting for him to see others who had died this day before they would begin to fall. Remus had given everything for a better tomorrow for the world despite the wizarding world scorning him.
The sight of Colin Creevey felt like a hammer to his heart. He looked so little even now that Harry had trouble seeing him as grown up. For him he was still the firstie who had come to Hogwarts with a camera and eager to learn about the Wizarding World. Dennis Creevey had come to Hogwarts with the backup which came with Slughorn to fight and he was sitting beside his brother and wailing. Harry patted Dennis on the shoulder and the by lunged for him, clutching him tight. Harry could not say anything but try to console him. Dennis finally got a grip on himself and asked him between hiccups, "How did he die, Harry?"
Harry shook his head, "McGonagall had told all underage students to go but I suppose he snuck back in. Once when the fight started, I never saw him here. When there was a break in fighting, the defenders started collecting our fallen heroes and Neville brought him in. If I knew he was here, I would have forced him to leave. He had no job being here".
Dennis shook his head, "You would not know Harry but the last year, our family spent it on the run living in small houses where we had locked away our wands and did not use them. We changed house at least 4 times and he was incensed at the Death Eaters and Voldemort. When the news started coming in on Potterwatch, he snuck out telling me that he was going to take a stand. I wanted to follow him but my father told me that he could not send both of his sons to war. It was this morning that I received a message for anyone who wished to make a stand against Voldemort and that you had died, I could not contain myself. I snuck out as my father was dozing. I didn't know that I woul..." he could not say anymore before he started crying and broke down in his arms. Harry awkwardly kept patting him when Madam Pomfrey took over.
Harry walked forward towards other fallen heroes and the next was Lavender Brown. She had been a good friend the sixth year notwithstanding and now she lied there, lifeless and mutilated. Parvati was at her side sporting a gash on her cheek and some minor bruises but otherwise unharmed. Her sister was sitting near her and they seemed to be lost in thought. Harry went to them and sat beside Parvati telling her in whispers, "Parvati, I know no words can compensate for the loss that you feel for Lavender but she fought bravely. If you want to remember her than remember her as the girl who spent 7 years with you in the tower and knew you better than your sister, the girl who fought with death eaters and stood for what she believed in".
Parvati nodded and he stood to return to the Weasleys. He had lost courage to go and see everyone who had fallen in the war. There was one death however which did not escape his eyes. There were Ernie, Justin (Harry presumed he had snuck in when the message went out on Potterwatch) and another of the boys in Hufflepuff he recognised as Wayne Hopkins. There were also a couple of girls in the crowd as well and he recognised all of them as belonging to Hufflepuff. Curious to know, he walked towards them. There on the ground was Susan Bones clutching another girl with blond hair and crying. He recognised the girl as Hannah Abott. He shook hands with Ernie and then sat with Susan trying to console her for a minute before he eventually took his leave.
He walked away after a minute to come upon Neville Longbottom and his gran. She was talking to someone who had come with Professor Slughorn when fighting resumed in the morning. Neville sat with Luna beside him and the sword of Gryffindor propped at his side. Harry sat beside them after he had shook hands with his Gran who despite her age had a firm grip. She said, "Your parents would have been proud of you today, Mr. Potter. You rallied people valiantly behind you and won over him for a second time".
Harry gave a half smile to her, "I just did what was my duty. The same as Neville, I guess. We all did our duty or it would not have been possible".
Her pride reflected in her countenance, "Of course! His parents would be so proud of him". She turned to Neville, "I am sorry for seeing your father's shadow in you Neville. You have won renown far more than your parents ever did".
Neville hugged her and broke down. Harry arched an eye-brow at Luna asking her what it was about and Luna stood and signalled him to follow.
They were walking when Luna started telling, "Hannah and Neville had become good friends during last year with them often leading the resistance. They had galvanized the student body into action and if not for both of them, half the students would have been dead. I think he had started to fall for her".
Harry nodded, "I understand that. I never knew her too closely to say anything". After a moment of silence, he further asked her, "How are you Luna?"
She said in her dream-like voice, "Is there any reason to ask this question in this environment? We have so many people dead, so much destruction done and so much to rebuild".
Harry decided to return to the Weasleys finally. It looked like they had still not moved from before. Harry silently patted George on shoulder who pulled him into an embrace and broke down again. Harry awkwardly kept patting his back and trying to soothe him. After about 10 minutes, George relinquished his hold on him and Harry moved on to where Remus and Tonks were laid.
He sat at Remus's side and started thinking of the werewolf and his interactions with him. From the moment on train where he had driven away a dementor to when Remus had taught him the patronus spell to where the Marauder had come to take him away from Privet Drive after the Dementor Attack to where he had offered to Harry to help on his quest and subsequently naming him as god-father for Teddy! OH Merlin! Teddy was just months old and he would have nothing to remember his parents. Remus had made it Harry's responsibility to look for Teddy's welfare and he would do so.
"Harry!", someone's voice broke his musings and he saw Andromeda Tonks standing before him. She had little Teddy in her arms and she looked like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Wordlessly, Harry took the toddler from her. He was so tiny that Harry was extra careful to not to hurt him. Unwillingly, he thought about how big he would have been when he was placed at Dursley's doorstep about 17 years ago.
Suddenly Teddy who was awake and watching him turned his hair black to match his and despite all the grief, Harry smiled. Teddy might not know his father but his god-father would make sure that he was told everything about his father, the man he was. One who fought for what he believed in and may be many years from now when Teddy was grown-up, he would disturb Moony and Tonks' peace once more, just so his son could see his parents.
Unknown to everyone he had not dropped the stone in the forest but kept it with him. He knew of its power and the temptations it may pose for others and there was no one he could trust to not to be swayed by it. Even if someone was just thinking about some dear departed one while they had the stone in hand, it would summon them and that would be a disaster. He was also planning to keep the wand but without telling others. Dumbledore's grave had been defiled once for it and it could be defiled again. Harry did not think he was invincible but it would be hard to take the wand from him if none knew that he had it.
"Harry", Andromeda was saying, "I know you are the god-father of Teddy but I would like it if I could raise him up. You can always come over whenever you wish but I would like it if he would remain with me".
Harry said to her slowly, "Ok. You are his grand-mother so obviously you can raise him. However I would like it if I can visit him as often as I can".
She nodded, "Remus named you his god-father so it is your right anyhow. I will take your leave now. I have to make preparations for bringing them home".
Harry did not understand what she meant by bringing them home but then he realised she was talking about Remus and Tonks's funeral. He could not even think of that idea without choking up. His respect for Andromeda went up a notch at that moment. She was a mother who had to bury her daughter and son-in-law and she was alone in the whole world. It required courage to bury your own child.
He nodded, "I want to attend their funeral. They were always there for me and cared for me. It is the least I can do".
She smiled sadly, "Dora always saw a little brother in you and for Remus you were family. I will send the details to you".
"Are you ready?", asked Head Mistress McGonagall who had come up sometime during the discussion and was talking to Andromeda.
When Andromeda nodded, two wizards stepped forth who took charge of their body and disapparated. Harry understood that since the wards had been broken, it was possible to apparate in and out of the castle at this moment.
He went to the Weasleys again and this time, Neville had joined them and was sitting beside Ginny. She had held one of his hands and was comforting him, perhaps over loss of Hannah Abbott.
"Harry dear, we are ready to go home. Are you coming?", asked Mrs. Weasley.
Harry nodded though he did not feel like going to the burrow at that moment. He had too much of guilt on his conscience and of course the place would be full of Fred's memories.
"Harry, do you have a minute?", asked Minister Shacklebolt who had just come up.
Harry nodded and Kingsley beckoned a few more of them towards him. Mr. Weasley told him to join them at the Burrow when he was free while he flooed away with his family.
He noticed there were Terry, Ernie, Ron, Neville, Seamus, Dean and Justin. When they were surrounding him, he began to speak slowly, "As you all know that the ministry is not in a good shape right now. There are very few Aurors and too many death eaters to catch. I wanted to solicit your help in catching the escaping death eaters, if you all agree. After everyone has been caught, you can either choose to stay or leave to pursue other careers. If you decide to become an Auror, you will directly be admitted into the training program without giving your NEWTs".
He watched their faces as he finished speaking. Harry knew his work was not finished by a long shot and nodded, "I do not know about others but I will help you in any way I can".
Others were of the same mind and Kingsley was relieved, "If you all would present yourselves at the ministry tomorrow, I would delegate your duties to you".
With that Kingsley turned to others who were craving for his attention while Harry started returning to the Weasleys when he suddenly stopped. He noticed a girl tending to the injured. There had been so many injured that the infirmary could not keep all of them so there were many who were being treated in the Great Hall itself.
The girl had black hair falling in ringlets over her shoulders, blue eyes, sharp nose and lithe figure. He could not recall her name but he was sure she was in his year. He was surprised why he had never noticed her before and he was sure he had never talked to her. She looked impassive with her facial expressions morphed into a blank canvas so it was hard to see what was going in her mind. Tending to injured was not an easy task but she was going through it without even flinching at the sight of injuries. He noticed the looks of appreciation people were giving her and he was trying hard to recall her name.
Suddenly it occurred to her. The potions dungeons, last row which was generally taken up two of these girls for five years that Harry had spent under Snape's sneer. She was a Slytherin but what was her name? Dale... no... Daisy... no... Daphne... yes, Daphne Greengrass. That was her name and she had a best friend Tracy Davis. As far as he knew Tracy was a half-blood witch and he had heard from his dorm mates sometimes say that Daphne Greengrass was one of the prettiest witches in the castle. Harry however had never thought about it. His collective hatred for Slytherin, Malfoy's behaviour towards him and his friends coupled with Snape's belittling of him had kept him distant from even the harmless Slytherins. What Harry was surprised about was her presence in the castle. As far as he knew, McGonagall had emptied the castle of all the Slytherin students before the battle began.
He also noticed Madam Pomfrey who was tending to a gash on Hestia Jones's arm. He went to her and despite being fatigued with working tirelessly, she smiled at him, "Hello Harry. Are you alright? Did you injure yourself?"
Harry shook his head, "No Madam Pomfrey. I am fine. How you have been? I guess this year has been the hardest on you".
She nodded, "You have no idea how hard things have been. To see first year students being cursed with Crucio or other torture curses and treating them was a nightmare for me. If it was not for Ms. Greengrass and a few others who volunteered to help me in the infirmary, I do not think I would have made through the year".
Harry was curious about the black headed girl, "As I remember Head Mistress had evacuated the Slytherin students out of the castle before the battle began. How did she come to be here?"
She nodded, "Most of them were evacuated but she refused to go and straight away came to the infirmary to help me to heal the defenders. She even brought many of them in when they were injured and could have died without being tended to. She showed courage as much as anyone in the field of battle".
Harry nodded and his thoughts drifted to people who might not have fought in the battle but had been instrumental in the battle by other ways. A lot of them had returned with Slughorn as the backup and now that he was thinking about it, many of them were former Slytherins who had come to their aid along with shopkeepers of Hogsmeade and parents of every student who had stayed to fight. The Wizarding World had come together against one foe who had suppressed all of them.
He also noticed Abeforth Dumbledore who was sitting jovially talking with Dean Thomas and when they eyes met, the barkeeper hailed him, "Potter, you were right. My brother chose well".
Harry nodded in his direction and went to find Ron. He was suddenly tired of the castle. He had faced too many things in the last few hours to be thinking rationally however there was something he desperately needed. He called, "Kreacher" and the elf appeared before him looking happy for once and proud of having led the elves in the fight and avenging Regulus Black.
"Master", the elf chirped happily, "Master called me?"
Harry smiled, "Kreacher please bring me some clean clothes, will you? I am dirty and want to take a bath".
His shirt had been torn at places, smattered with blood when he had comforted Severus Snape in his last moments. Thinking of Severus, he remembered something he still had to do.
He found Kingsley in the crowd. "Kingsley, can I have a word?", he asked. The temporary Minister of Magic followed him to a side and Harry started speaking quickly, "Severus Snape's dead body is in the Shrieking Shack. Please see to it that he is buried with honour. He risked his whole life for the Order and to end Voldemort's reign. I will explain later and may be give a statement about it if you so desire".
Kingsley looked at him closely to see if he was joking but he was not. Kingsley nodded, "Alright, I will send some wizards to get his body and ensure that he is buried with honour".
That was all that Harry was willing to do for the greasy haired, hook nosed dungeon bat. Harry did not suddenly feel affection for him but he was willing to accept his role in defeat of Voldemort.
He decided to go to the Gryffindor Tower to find a working bathroom to take a bath before he went to the burrow. On the way up, he came across Rita Skeeter, who simpered seeing him, "Harry, got a minute for a quick interview? Of course we will have to do a full length interview later".
Harry hated her. He knew that Hermione had promised to never tell her secret but Harry had not made a promise.
He turned to her, "Of course but a quick one and I think it would be better if we did this with the Minister of Magic".
She of course had no problem with that. She followed him to the Great Hall where Kingsley was talking to some Aurors and Harry made a show of tapping on the shoulder. Kingsley asked him, "Did you forget something?"
Harry tried to grin but it did not come. He flatly said, "Kingsley I do not know if someone has ever told you but Skeeter here is an unregistered animagus".
Rita realised she had walked into a trap and tried to move away but Kingsley had immediately stunned her and was barking orders to an Auror, "Take her into custody, Proudfoot. Keep her restrained in shackles and make sure she does not escape".
He turned to Harry, "I am thankful to you for this. How did you know?"
Harry told him, "I know since the third task of Triwizard tournament but since the ministry was hostile to me, I had no reason to go and tell them about it".
Kingsley nodded, "She can spend the next month or so the holding cells till we have processed all the death eaters and then we will send her to prison".
Harry nodded, "I guess I will see you tomorrow then".
With that he went to the tower to take a bath at last. When he came out, Kreacher had laid clothes for him. Getting dressed he went to find Ron to return to the Burrow.
When they exited the floo, Harry wanted to cry seeing the condition the Burrow was in. The house looked like someone had upended it and someone had tried to torch the house. The scorch marks were still present on the walls but the interior was as much the same as Harry remembered.
The Weasleys however were not the same. Harry could feel that they were subdued and the pain was evident. He noticed George was not there and Harry asked Mrs. Weasley, "Mrs. Weasley, where is George?"
She replied sadly, "He is upstairs and has not eaten anything since…" She could not finish her sentence before he broke down again. She had clutched him hard and was crying in his shoulder while Harry awkwardly tried to comfort her.
Finally Mr. Weasley took over and Harry went upwards to find George. He was in his room staring at the walls and his gaze was lost in the distance perhaps remembering Fred. He knew it would take a long time for George to heal from the loss and he was willing to help him in any way that he could.
Percy was also there trying to console his brother and he was crying himself. He was unashamedly shedding tears and to Harry's surprise, he had a picture in his hand which had the twins in it and he was moving his hands on the glass fondly while the twins in the picture tried to run away from his hands.
"Percy", he called. Percy turned and looked at him and hastily tried to wipe his eyes, "Oh Harry, how are you? I did not hear you come in".
Harry did not know what to say. He had not had to console someone before and he had not the right words for it. Finally, he started speaking, "How are you, Percy?"
Percy broke down finally, "It should have been me, Harry. It should have been me instead of him. I was an insolent git but they forgave me so easily and..."
Harry interrupted him before he could say anything more, "I forbid you from speaking a word more. Merlin forbid, if you had died, Fred would have cried for you as you are crying for him. We forgave you because you are our family. You realised your mistake and came around when it really mattered. It is now your duty to take care of George. He needs you the most at this moment".
With that Harry moved onwards to find Ronald in his bedroom at the top of the house. He was not really surprised to find Hermione in the room, crying in Ronald's shoulder. She hugged him tightly when he entered and he asked them, "How are you two?"
Ron spoke for perhaps the first time that day, "I don't even know what we are supposed to feel. Not having Fred around is something I never thought of. All those people who fought for us and died... It is hard to imagine that we will not see them again".
Harry nodded, "It is very hard to think so. I regret now about not having spent enough time with Remus in the last four years but there are a lot many things I regret about". He turned to Hermione, "What are your plans now, Hermione?"
She replied after sometime, "I will have to find my parents in Australia first. I suppose I will finish my education before I decide about my career. What you both have planned?"
They could not look into her eyes and she was immediately suspicious. She asked, "What are you both hiding from me?"
Harry answered her, "Kingsley Shacklebolt offered me and Ron to become Aurors for the Ministry to catch the death eaters on the run. We have accepted and he said that if we want to make our commission permanent, we can join the Aurors straight away if we so choose".
She frowned for a moment before nodding, "I can understand why he made the decision. The ministry is really short on Aurors and the escaped Death Eaters can cause a lot of problems for the ministry which is still trying to pull itself together. I can also understand why you would not want to go back to the castle. I don't want to become an Auror so I would have to finish my education before I can pursue any careers in the Ministry however right now I have to think about how to find my parents in Australia".
Harry nodded before he remembered something, "You can ask the Ministry to help you. They have their liaisons with Muggles and they definitely can get you help in finding your parents however I would advise you to take someone with you before you go. It may be hard for you to explain things to them otherwise".
Ronald immediately said, "I am coming with you and don't try to argue with me, Hermione". He turned to Harry, "Sorry mate but I have got to do this. I should have refused Kingsley in the day".
Harry nodded. This was expected after they had started professing their love for each other in the middle of battle.
Fred's body was in the Great Hall still with other fallen heroes since the Ministry had decided to send them to their families after they had made the plans for burial. He intended to attend funeral of everyone who had been there for fight for the defense of Hogwarts. It was the least he could do to pay his respects.
The Daily Prophet published a special issue that evening.
THE CHOSEN ONE BECOME THE MAN-WHO-WON
Yesterday, the wizard known as you-know-who attacked the Hogwarts Castle after he had been given a tip-off that the chosen one Harry Potter was in the castle. He rallied his followers and laid siege to the castle with his followers.
The defenders of the castle however did not yield and the students including many former students with the teachers and the members of the secret Order of the Phoenix resisted his forces. In the clashes which lasted all night, many were slain before the boy-who-lived went in the forbidden forest in what others assume, as a offering to you-know-who to save others.
However as eye witnesses report, Harry Potter was reportedly killed when you-know-who finally approached the castle with his followers to take over the ancient fortress of wisdom and power. it is not clear how but Harry Potter came alive again and duelled with you-know-who to the death.
There were a few things said during their duel which could not be understood by others but it has come to light that former Head Master of Hogwarts and the alleged killer of Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape was a double agent who was acting on Dumbledore's orders to keep the students safe from the Carrows, who have been taken in captivity and will be tried shortly.
It is reported that at least 50 of the defenders of Hogwarts fell in the battle which include students while Dark Wizards and Witches like Bellatrix Lestrange, Antonin Dolohov, Rookwood, and Walden Macnair were among those killed in the battle. (For a list of the fallen Heroes and death eaters, see P. 10)
Veteran Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt has been named the temporary minister of Magic while the former Minister of Magic Pius Thicknesse is admitted in St. Mungo's for recuperation after having been under the influence of Imperious Curse for almost a year. (See Inside pages for more details)
Saying bye to a Prankster
The next day was perhaps the hardest yet. He had been woke up by Ginny in the morning who asked him to dress for the funeral before she went downstairs.
The Ministry had Fred brought to the Burrow around sometime in the morning and they had chosen to bury him in the grounds belonging to the family where their ancestors had been buried for generations before them.
Before breakfast time was over, the Burrow was over-flowing with people. There were McGonagall, Kingsley, Hestia, Andromeda, Slughorn, Flitwick, Pomfrey, Lee Jordon, Oliver Wood, Angelina, Alicia, Katie, Demelza Robins, Neville Longbottom, Augusta Longbottom, Hagrid, Luna Lovegood and many more Harry could not recognise.
Fred's body had been wrapped in a white shroud and it was carried by so many of them that Harry lost count of people. By the time they were at the cemetery, emotions were running high. Every one's eye was wet.
There was already a hole dug up for him to be lowered into the ground and a ministry wizard was there to conduct the funeral. Harry was not surprised to find it was the same wizard who had presided over Dumbledore's funeral.
A lot of chairs had been laid down for everyone who attended and Harry sat in the front row with Ginny on his right and Fleur on his left with Bill sitting beside her. When it was time, the wizard stood to address them, "This day we are here to say our good bye to a young man who was a perfect son to his parents, a perfect brother to his siblings and an endearing friend to his friends. He touched everyone's lives who knew him and he gave them reasons to smile even in the grim times which lasted until yesterday. I would invite his brother, his twin to say a few words about him before we say good-bye".
George was inconsolable when he stood to address them, "Fred was not just my twin but my other half. I still cannot believe that he is not with me anymore and may be it would take me years to accept it however he was far from the perfect person as was just said. If he were here, he would be laughing at us for being so grim and morose". There were a few subdued chuckles to his statement. George continued speaking, "He was the brain behind us and he would not have expected me to be so grim when he lived so carefree and enjoyed every little joy in his life..."
He broke down again and took his seat and Harry heard Hagrid blowing his nose in his tablecloth sized handkerchief. The wizard stood again and motioned for them to join him. Many of the wizards joined him and together, they lowered his body in the grave already dug before they all filled it with soil which had been dug early in the day and then attached a headstone to it which read:
Born: 1st April 1978; Death: 2nd May 1998
With that they all began to leave after saying their condolences to the Weasleys. Harry waited for everyone to go before he decided to go to the ministry. Kingsley was waiting. Arthur and Molly were initially reluctant but they agreed when Harry promised them that he would return before it was time for dinner.
Ministry of Magic
When Harry arrived at the Ministry of Magic the next day, he was dressed in an over-sized robe to hide himself with a hood over his head so no one could recognise him. The ministry itself seemed to have gone through a lot of changes in just a day. The ugly statue which had been built in place of the Magical Brethren had been torn down and Harry could see the debris strewn all over the Atrium. The fountain which used to be in the place was back and he hoped that the Statue of Magical Brethren would be back in place soon.
The floos were working again and he had heard that the public toilet system of flushing themselves in had been abandoned by the Ministry and soon the public telephone booth system would be back into place.
He handed his to the wizard who was back to his post in the Atrium. He took the wand and started reading it and loudly exclaimed, "Harry Potter!"
Harry sighed. He had wanted to escape the attention but there was no way now with people starting to swarm him. He accepted their congratulations with grace, shook hands with some, said thank yous to others and was looking for a way out of his predicament.
"I should have known that only you can cause such a block", he heard Neville say who himself was surrounded by people and happily gave a one arm hug to him grinning, "Talk about you, Neville. You have a lot more behind you than I do".
The wizard at desk motioned for them to go ahead and a ministry worker on duty near the lifts ushered them into one and stopped others from following them in. Harry grinned at Neville, "Feels good to have such a VIP treatment".
Neville grunted, "It sure does".
When they reached the office of the Minister, he lifted his hood for benefit of Kinglsey's secretary who ushered him in swiftly telling him, "Go right in, Mr. Potter and Mr Longbottom. The minister is waiting for you".
Kingsley's office looked like a landfill with lot of paper strewn around and heaps of files waiting for his attention. When they entered, he rose from his seat and said in his deep resonating voice, "Harry and Neville, welcome".
Harry motioned his arms around and asked, "Busy day?"
Kingsley sighed, "Pius Thicknesse was always slippery to begin with. Spending a year under the Imperious curse of Yaxley, he did not tend to work but delegated to his secretary who was no better than a death eater in disguise. They have destroyed everything and we would have to rebuild from the ashes".
Harry asked him, "What about the Order now? Is it disbanded? Since Moody had died, I assume you became the leader?"
Kingsley nodded, "I disbanded the order yesterday. We did not need it anymore so it was of no use to keep it. Please take a seat. I am still waiting for a few people".
They were joined by others soon and Kingsley offered seats to them and after he had did a quick calculation of their numbers, he asked worriedly, "Where is Ron? Is he fine?"
Harry nodded, "He is fine but he is accompanying Hermione to Australia to find her parents so he cannot join us at this moment. Also Hermione want the Ministry's help in finding her parents".
Kingsley nodded, "Tell her that I will be visiting the Burrow today evening". He then started addressing all of them, "Since you all know that the Ministry is short on Aurors at the moment and there are too many Death Eaters evading arrest, I want you all to bring them in. This assignment will extend till we have caught all of them and then if you want you can go to finish your last year of studies at Hogwarts or you can directly join as an Auror in the Ministry. The Ministry will also conduct NEWTs examination in December for those who want to apply for work and do not want to go to Hogwarts again".
They all nodded and at that time, a few more wizards entered another wizard entered who wore the crimson red robes of British Aurors. Kingsley introduced them, "This is Gawain Robards the head of Aurors and there are a few Aurors who realised what was happening and did not join the Voledmort loyal establishment but secretly kept working to undermine them. We do not have enough Aurors in our force right now and we would be stretched thin. We lost so many of them in the previous year that if Death Eaters banded together, they can outdo us. I have invited you all because I have seen you all fighting in the battle and I know you are battle hardened to stand against them and win. I will also be publishing an advertisement of requirement in Daily Prophet inviting those eligible to apply by relaxing the norms for the time being. Merlin knows we need them".
He turned to Gawain, "Gawain, these are your men from today. Take them to the Auror Floor, tell them about their duties and put them with whatever teams we have left for now". Gawain clicked his heels and let them to the Auror floor.
Kingsley Shacklebolt was having a busy day so he could hardly make time for anything except office. He had already deputed Gawain Robards to inform the muggle Prime Minister about the conclusion of the war and right now he was on his way to the Burrow to share in Arthur and Molly's grief. He had always liked the twins and with one of them gone, he was sure the world was going to be a bit darker.
There were too many things to be done and not enough people to do it and he needed Arthur and Percy at the office. They were highly competent trustworthy people who could help Kingsley through this transition period. He also hoped to secure Ron's admittance in the Aurors and for that purpose he had just to contact the Australian Ministry of Magic and trace down Hermione's parents. Ron was going off with Hermione in Australia to find her parents and if the ministry could bring them back then they would not have to go in the first place. Besides he had to show that he was initiating the changes in the ministry and it would not toe to the old line anymore. While the old families were important to the Wizarding World, the ministry was not going to discriminate against the muggle-borns who were as important to them as any pureblood.
He also had to give Harry Potter's first assignment to him. After the initiation in the ministry during the day, everyone had been sent home with Auror Robes and asked to report for duty from the next day. He and Gawain had made a list of those who were evading arrest and needed to be made answerable for their crimes so that justice would be seen to be done. The Malfoys were near the top of the list but they had assured him that they would willingly submit to trial whenever he called them. Nevertheless, he had placed the under house arrest with two Aurors standing guard. He planned to bring them in as soon as he could. In fact, they would be the first to undergo trial.
The ministry holding cells were already full and they had no other place to keep death eaters. Perhaps he could advocate for forming the War Tribunal a bit faster perhaps so they could start the trials as soon as they could manage.
He knocked on the door of the Burrow and Molly Weasley's voice came from inside, "Who is there?"
He answered in his deep voice, "It is I, Kingsley Shacklebolt".
The door was immediately opened by Molly Weasley who looked like a mess. She was not her usual exuberant self but her eyes were blotchy and she had dark circles under them, his hair which was usually neatly combed was disarrayed and she had a lost look about her. She tried to smile for him, "Minister, please come in and have a bite or two. We were just starting on dinner".
He entered while giving an apprising look to other inhabitants of the house. Harry was there at the other end of the table looking lost and bewildered as if he did not knew how to console these people who were grieving. Arthur was more of a mess than Molly. He had a wild look about him and he looked like he would doze off. He looked full of pain but there was determination on his face which he had seen often in the previous few years. He knew Arthur was holding together for the sake of his family. Percy was there, trying to console George who was grieving and still had the haunted look which Kingsley had come to fear. He had seen too much to it for the last few days and he did not want to see more of it. Ron was there, looking unkempt and perhaps for the first time, he was not even sparing a glance at the food. There was also Andromeda at the table while Teddy dozed in a little rocking chair. He understood that food was perhaps the last thing that they were paying attention to and he decided to make sure that they at least ate a morsel.
Kingsley took off his travelling cloak and hanged it on a peg while taking a seat on the table and said, "Thank you Molly, I think I have time for a bite". With that he sat at the table and Molly served him some freshly made bread and some of her onion soup which he liked.
Since no was really speaking at the table, he decided to break the ice. He asked Arthur, "Arthur, when are you going to join the ministry again?"
Arthur sighed, "I do not know Kingsley. I am still not over my grief yet".
Kingsley nodded, "I understand Arthur but I am really short on people I can trust to work with me for the betterment of the Ministry. Besides you have better experience of dealing with these issues having been there in the administration".
He turned to Percy, "What about you Percy? Are you joining soon?"
Percy shook his head, "I do not know when I will be able to join the Ministry again. I want to spend some time with my family, minister".
He nodded and turned to Ron, "What about you, Ron? I thought you told me you were going to join the Aurors".
Ron who was sitting beside Hermione and patting one of her hands, shook his head, "May be later. I need to go with Hermione now to find her parents. I will not allow her to go by herself".
Kingsley turned to Hermione, "Hermione, if you agree I will send a letter to the Ministry of Magic in Australia and ask them to find your parents before you go. That way you will save a lot of hassle in finding them".
Hermione nodded, "If you can do it I will be grateful to you Kingsley. That way I can go without Ron having to come with us".
Ron tried to protest but she silenced him, "No Ron, Kingsley is right. He needs as many people as possible right now. If he can find them then it will not take me long to find them and undo the memory charms I did on them. I know they would be angry with me but that is between me and them and I do not want them to lash on you".
Ron reluctantly agreed and turned to Kingsley, "Alright, I will join the Ministry from tomorrow as Auror".
For the first time perhaps, Molly Weasley did not object to something which was ostensibly dangerous. Perhaps she understood that her little boy had faced worse than that.
Kinglsey turned to Arthur and Percy, "I would appreciate it if you both can join me from tomorrow. There is a lot to be done and I am counting on you both to help me". He said to Arthur, "I have proposed your name for Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic and it has been accepted". He said to Percy, "I have a lot of preparations to be made for the death-eater trials and I need a person of your calibre to help me wade through it".
Finally Arthur and Percy agreed to join the next day. After all, life had to go on. Charlie agreed to stay for a few more days and look after George before he eventually joined the Dragon Reserve again.
Before Kingsley left however, he said to Harry, "Harry, I have your first assignment for you. Our dear chairperson of the nefarious Muggle-born registration commission has been missing in action. I want you to bring her in. Gawain has put you with Proudfoot, Savage, Justin Finch-Fletchely and Dean Thomas. Report at 8:00 in the morning tomorrow".
That was exactly the piece of news that Harry needed. He had a long pending grudge to settle with Dolores Jane Umbridge.