Chapter thirty-one: the end
Ron smelt like ginger. Harry found it oddly appropriate that his lover smelt of something so spicy and warm. His grandfather was there, the scent of lemon drops on the air, as were his godfather and godfather-in-law who bore the scent of dog and chocolate respectively. The light floral scent of his birth mother and deeper musk of his birth father hovered at the edge of his awareness, as did the more homely scent of his mum and dad, baking and wintergreen.
If they were all with him, then the danger had passed. Only his birth parents and grandfather had been present at the attack, and his mum and dad would not allow Ron to put himself in harms way. There was a sense of peace around him, one that he welcomed after the chaos of his battle with both Voldemort and the spells backlash.
More of the world pressed itself into his little sphere of awareness and Harry came to realise that Padfoot was carding gentle fingers through his hair, and Moony was humming to him. His grandfather had one had, his mother the other. His father was resting a hand upon his foot and his lover was touching his chest above his heart. Harry suspected that Ron wanted the reassurance of his heartbeat - whoever ended up on top in their bed of a night ended up with his ear pressed against the others chest. It made breathing difficult at times, but Harry wouldn't swap that bit of comfort for the entire world.
He was warm and comfortable as well as comforted and Harry didn't really want to move but his family needed him. There was an edge to the scents that he was picking up that indicated distress and worry. The sound of a door opening intruded on Harry's world and brought with it the smell of potions and snow.
"Any change?" the Potion Master's voice was quiet, "Has he woken?"
"I'm awake," Harry muttered, and felt them all jump, smiling and opening his eyes. He was engulfed in hugs and pats for a moment and returned them with heavy limbs, letting the fuss all wash over him.
"When I spoke of that spell Potter, I did not expect you to attempt it," Snape said from the end of his bed, which was crowded with all the people sitting on it. Harry offered the lean man a smile, hearing the words that went unspoken. Malfoy hovered beside him and Harry spared him a glance before turning his eyes to Ron. They spoke silently to each other, offering strength and love, full of promises to be fulfilled.
"Harry," Dumbledore murmured finally, breaking that loving communication, "I am so relieved that you have recovered."
"I'm sorry I worried you all," Harry replied, "Did you have to wait long?"
"No," Ron's voice was a little hoarse, "You've been out for a day."
"Is it finally done? He's really gone?" Harry asked hopefully, unsure, "Because there was something odd about that spell, I thought maybe that…"
"What is it Harry?" his grandfather leaned down, and Harry gazed up at him trustingly. Dumbledore would make it right, he usually could.
"While I held the spell I felt Voldemort being destroyed. The first thing that gave way under the spell were the Dark Arts he'd practiced on himself, but it seemed to include a few objects or artefacts that resonated with Voldemort's energies. I get the sense that somewhere out there is a bunch of broken things that were somehow tied into Voldemort's soul."
"Hmm," the Headmaster mused, leaning back while he thought. Sirius leant in to smooth Harry's hair and he leaned into the touch eagerly, smiling up at Moony and squeezing Molly's hand.
"For some time Harry, I have believed that one of the Dark Arts that Tom performed upon himself was the creation of something known as a Horcrux. This is a piece of Tom's soul that is split away from his body and stored in a simple object. He must commit murder to complete this particular rite and I believe that you held that final spell long enough to destroy the last pieces of Tom Riddle on this earth," Dumbledore said it gently and Harry felt tears well in his eyes.
"I'm a murderer," he sighed, "Even though there was no other way… I took his life."
"Hush Cub," Moony murmured, "That foul word does not apply to your actions."
Harry let them soothe him, knowing that he would carry this burden of guilt for a long time. No matter how you looked at it, someone had died at his hand. The knowledge exhausted him and he closed his eyes with a sigh, giving in to the pull of sleep, safe in the knowledge that the family would be there when he woke up once more.
Harry tossed the paper aside in disgust.
"The Boy Who Triumphed," he quoted, "Bloody hell Ron!"
His lover laughed at him and put the tray with lunch on it on the bedside table before climbing into their bed and fetching the food to float above their legs.
"The Daily Prophet has been hysterical about the whole thing ever since it happened," the red head revealed, "Fudge had a heart attack right there in the dining hall and no one noticed until it was too late. His death notice only ever made page five of the paper. You eclipsed him entirely."
"Oh goody," Harry bit into his sandwich moodily and they ate in silence. The rest of the Weasley's and Hermione would be arriving tomorrow, three days after his defeat of Voldemort. The Healers had been and gone, shaking their head in astonishment at Harry's survival. Dumbledore had taken a moment to share a private theory about Harry's affinity for phoenixes, as there had been no phoenix present when he cast his final spell, and the three documented occasions the spell had been cast made no mention of phoenix song, no matter how righteous the caster had been.
He thought that one or two of the Healers might even have been a little miffed over his restoration, mainly because he hadn't needed their skills to return from the nearly fatal spell shock. Harry was on bed rest, but only because the entire family went slightly hysterical the second time he woke up and got out of bed looking for some breakfast. He figured it was easier to keep them happy and stay in bed instead of asserting his health and wandering around while they went insane. With a bit of luck the rest of the family would be calm the insane ones down.
Ron cleared the tray away and Harry pulled his lover down flat, climbing on top of him and kissing him thoroughly. He waved a hand at the door and heard it lock itself, the felt the privacy spell establish itself around the room. He had found that the intent to do magic and some simple gestures was enough to accomplish several spells, something he put down to the experience with 'my souls dearest wish'.
"You owe me some sex," Harry said firmly. Ron spluttered up at him in astonishment and Harry silenced him with another mind melting kiss, "Some raunchy life affirming sex. I'm bored, and you promised."
"You're on bed rest," Ron panted, his eyes glazed and his body definitely not supporting his words. Harry shook his head and banished their clothes with a snap of his fingers. Harry rocked his hips in a sort of 'get with the program' rhythm.
"I'm in bed," he replied, "And if you keep arguing I'll be in you."
"Deal," Ron hooked his legs around the Boy Who Triumphed and drew him in for some raunchy life affirming sex.
Ducks the thrown objects