A/N – Over a year and half later, this story is finished. There were times when I thought I'd never see the end of this, but it was fun to write. Special thanks to two ladies, Christylee, for her edits on the original four chapters, and to Thoth, for her help on the rest.
Chapter 13 – Two Years Later
It had been over two years since the Second Battle of Hogwarts, as it became to be known, and life in the Wizarding World was still struggling to regain some of its normalcy. Many had survived the Years of Darkness, many more had suffered and died. With the fighting over, the long and even harder task of rebuilding faced them.
Late, one summer day, Padma was slowly strolling through the quiet streets of Hogsmeade. While people had begun to move back, it still wasn't the bustling little village it had once been. Off in the distance, Padma could see the reconstruction of Hogwarts. The building itself had been completed last winter, and all that remained was the extensive Ward work. It was hoped that the school would be completed in time to begin the new school term.
As Padma neared the center of the village, a small little park with a beautiful fountain at its center came in to view. Walking into the park, the only sounds were her heels clicking off of the stone pathway and the gentle rush of the water from the fountain. Stopping in front of the fountain, Padma softly spoke the words inscribed on it. "In Memory Of All Those That We Lost."
In London, the Ministry had created a Wall of Heroes, listing everyone who had lost their lives in the fight against Voldemort. A list that seemed to have new names added to it each day. Of their own accord, the Order of the Phoenix, or rather Harry, had financed the construction of a small monument here in Hogsmeade, honoring everyone who had passed on during those years. Without names or allegiances printed upon it, anyone could come and mourn those they lost, Light or Dark.
Glancing around for a moment, to make sure she was alone, Padma looked down into the crystal clear water. "It's been a long time," she said softly.
Taking a deep breath, she titled her head a little. "It's kind of weird talking to a fountain, but Harry said a lot of people find it as a way to get things off their chest."
Snickering for a moment, "At least this way, I'll finally get the last word. Eh, Zabini?"
Rubbing her hands on her skirt underneath her open robe, Padma paused, trying to think of something to say without feeling weird about it. "Harry and Susan are finally getting married. That's why I'm back in Britain."
Taking a seat on a nearby bench, she looked up at the top of the fountain where three doves where perched, the water flowing from their open beaks. "They've been traveling a lot, but for the most part they've been keeping to themselves. Only a very small number of people know exactly where Potter Manor is, and we're not telling. If anyone deserves his privacy, it's Harry. Though, as much as he doesn't want to get involved, the Ministry is at cross roads. Many want to see changes, but there are still those who are mired in the old ways. I fear that without Harry's… gently guidance… Who knows where we could end up?
"Susan left medicine. She is now solely interested in being Mrs. Potter." With a small laugh, "I guess with Harry, that is a full time job in of itself.
"They're getting married in a few hours," Padma said as she checked her pocket watch. "They wanted it to be a small affair, but someone got a hold of someone and now everyone knows. Turned into a large circus, Harry said. He's not really happy, but he thinks Susan may enjoy herself and that's what matters most to him.
"Hannah's a full fledged Healer now, having finished St. Mungo's. Going to be the new Healer at Hogwarts, and the unofficial family Healer of the Potter Family. I don't think Hannah would let another Healer touch either of them.
"Speaking of Hogwarts, it's supposed to open this fall. Harry and Professor McGonagall have done a lot of work to get it back up and running. They're trying to redo the House structure. They… We all want more unity, especially in the younger ones."
Shifting a little, Padma fell silent as she watched the water fall. It was odd how while she still felt weird talking to nothing, the actual talking was coming easy and natural.
"I guess it pleases you to no end that you were proven right about everything, especially about me. I did end up in politics, got elected to the Common House. Simply being tied to Harry gives me an unusual amount of power. Anyone who has the ear of the Man Who Lived has a lot of influence. I can't believe the amount of people who stop what they are doing for me, simply because I'm close to Harry.
"Though, I guess the grey beards got tired of listening to me leading the Potter Agenda, as you so put it. They tried silencing me, by getting me out of the legislature, offering me an Ambassadorship to the United States." Padma smirked as she remembered receiving the offer. "Even though they wanted me out of the way, they couldn't disrespect a strong ally of Harry's. They thought moving me across the world would quiet the call for change. Did the exact opposite, it helped me garnish some powerful international support.
"Can you believe I talk to the two most powerful men in United States, both the Muggle and Wizard Presidents, on a weekly basis? Both are very perceptive of our ideas and they've helped put a lot of pressure on those old grey beards."
Glancing behind her, Padma watched two women walk past her and out of sight before she continued her conversation. "Even though Harry defeated Voldemort, the world is still a cold place. Even the Muggles are having dark times. Dirty politics, terrorism. It seems like a mirror of our world. But like Susan said, we have to keep pushing. No matter how much light there is, they'll always be shadows."
Looking at her watch again, Padma sighed softly before closing it and meant to slip it into an inside pocket. "Before I go… even though we never recovered… well, anything. We still placed a plaque for you, next to your mother's burial spot, in your family's crypt. Harry and me… mostly Harry, fought tooth and nail to get the honor you earned. I… just thought you'd like to know." Padma glanced around, "Even if you aren't listening."
"I have to go. The wedding starts soon, and I can't be late."
As Padma moved around the bench and turned to leave, she jerked in surprise to see a hunched back man standing a few feet away. Her hand itched for her wand, but she fought hard to suppress the urge. How did he get so close without me noticing? Padma couldn't tell who it was, or even if she recognized him, for a hat was pulled low over the man's face and he kept his head tucked down against his chest.
Feeling a little embarrassed at believing he had caught a bit of her ramble, she quickly walked past him. "Good day," she muttered as she passed, but the man kept silent, not even turning his head as she passed. Walking around a corner, heading towards an Apparition point, she reached into her robes for her watch. Swearing softly at the discovery that it was no longer there, Padma quickly retraced her steps.
Arriving back at the fountain, she curiously looked around. The man was no longer anywhere in sight. Where did he go? I was gone for maybe a minute, and the way I went is the only way to be out of sight from this point.
Walking towards the bench, she found her watch laying on top of it. Picking it up, Padma felt something fall of it and into the grass. Slipping the watch securely into her robes, she bent down to see if something had indeed fallen. Running her hand across the grass, she quickly felt something and grabbed it. A chain with a pendant attached.
Bring it to eye level, Padma let the chain slip through her fingers and dangle. It looks like it has seen better days. Burn marks? As the chain stopped spinning and the pendant came into focus, Padma quickly scrutinized it. It looks like half of a ying-yang symbol.
Taking her wand, she quickly cast a detection charm, the pendant radiated with a very faint signature of a Portkey. It can't be! But nothing was recovered. Grasping the chain and pendant tightly in her fist, Padma deliberately looked around for the hunched man. My eyes are playing tricks on me now.
But how did the pendant get here, much less, deliberately left on my watch.
Having no idea what to do next, Padma gazed at the pendant in her hand for a moment. Maybe, mysteries like these, are better left buried.
Using an elaborate levitation charm, Padma put the chain around the middle dove's neck and admired her work for a moment. In Memory Of All Those We Have Lost, she thought, reading the inscription once more.
"Goodbye," she whispered softly before turning to leave once more.