Author's Notes: This is the fifth and last part of a continuation after chapter 36 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, for no good reason except that I wanted to read a little more. Not knowing the rating system very well, this is for anybody who could read DH. I probably won't change anything due to criticism, constructive or not, because this was written strictly for my pleasure. Flames will be used to dispose of brush cuttings. Flattery will make me feel good.
I certainly will depart from canon on some points, try as I might not to do so. In any case, enjoy. (Further notes and Disclaimer at the end.)
Had there been time, Professor McGonagall's words would have been food for several days' thought. As it was, however, time was in short supply indeed. She had set aside more evenings for the three of them, helping them through Professor McIvor's review of a year's worth of coursework they had missed. With four teachers and the DA-- both tutoring and being taught-- Harry found himself catching up.
Nor was he the only one. Ron's Untransfiguration was becoming more reliable, culminating in the detection and reversal of a newspaper (a Daily Prophet among a pile of others to a casual glance, except that the text was fuzzy and both pictures were roving eyes) back to a Niffler, without even a letter remaining upon its fur. And both of them were quite shocked one Saturday morning to be awakened by a silver otter, telling them in Hermione's voice to hurry and dress if they wanted to accompany herself and Ginny to Hogsmeade.
They returned early; after all, they would soon be free to shop whenever they liked, but N.E.W.T.s came first. Aside from Honeydukes and the bookshop, they had only gone to the Hog's Head to pay their respects to Aberforth. It had been crowded full of DA members and the students they were tutoring. They had bought butterbeer to take back, laughing about Aberforth's newfound celebrity and the sour face he put on it.
That night in the dorm Neville laughed about it too. "I told him he'd be popular now, and the only way to get out of it was to close the bar and run," he said. In a more serious tone he continued. "But I did have to tell him that I went to see Mum and Dad that week, you know, and told them everything. Gran doesn't really believe me, but I think maybe they understood when I told them that Bellatrix and Voldemort were dead. I hope they did, anyway. They'll never get better, I know, but I had to tell them."
The next Sunday evening saw guests at the High Table, and the morning after that the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s began in the Great Hall. Their first test would be Charms on Monday, then Transfiguration on Tuesday with Defense Against the Dark Arts on Thursday. Every night for the past week Professor McGonagall had worked with them, until she wished them well Sunday evening in a more confident tone than Harry felt his work deserved.
"List the circumstances which determine the need for a specific repair charm rather than a general one, citing examples...."
"Using Gemino and Protean Charms, duplicate the matter on the parchment without loss of quality, and demonstrate changes to the original text transmitted to the copies...."
"Explain the theory behind the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration...."
"Enumerate all conditions that must be fulfilled when Transfiguring any higher vertebrate to an inanimate form without loss of life....
"And now, Mr. Potter, please demonstrate a multiple- phase Transfiguration, finding and removing the crystal from the rock matrix without permanent damage to either... How is this concept adapted for the healing arts?"
A brief breathing space on Wednesday with only one more test, but it was the one that would determine his immediate future.
"Fully describe the following, including incantations, discussing any and all circumstances under which they are illegal, and showing how each may be safely neutralized: Amortentia... Basilisk venom... Felix Felicis... Hand of Glory... Polyjuice Potion...."
"Without speaking, of course, please demonstrate a Disillusionment Charm upon yourself....
"Could you perform a Patronus Charm for me, please?" Harry had seen the other N.E.W.T. student in the room try one; he wondered if Patronuses had always been part of the exam. Neither he nor Ron could make theirs speak, nor had they tried multiple ones, but he suspected Hermione had done both for her examiner.
Less than one week from Charms to Defense Against the Dark Arts, and only three tests, but it spared none of them from exhaustion. Harry and Hermione waited in weary silence for Ron outside the Great Hall on the grey afternoon of their practical Defense Against the Dark Arts exam. Hagrid was home, already hosting Ginny and Luna for tea. There was time to see the yearling unicorns in the paddock, their golden coats barely beginning to dapple into silver, awaiting a class taking their finals next day.
"Testing ends next Friday, an' the train comes Tuesday after that," said Hagrid. "Don' suppose you lot have had time to listen to the rumors. Thought not. There's another ceremony, or what have you, planned for next Sunday."
"Yep. A bigger one, all sorts of guests from all over. More formal than that service we had," he said. "That was fer us here. This one'll be more for the rest of the country, an' all over, like. Won't be able to skip it."
"Nice to be told so soon...."
"I hadn't even heard any rumors...."
"Ah, well," said Hagrid. "I don' think yer s'posed ta know until nex' Friday. Shouldn't 'a told yeh, I expect."
Dinner was welcome that evening. Much as Harry would have liked a walk with Ginny, a shower sent them all back to the Common Room, still quiet because of exams the next day. Conversation trailed off as soon as they sat down in the comfortable chairs, and within the hour they began to drift away to bed, rain drumming against the windows; even Ginny, who still had finals next week.
The next day dawned damp and misty, but by midmorning the sun had broken through. Harry arose late, barely in time to grab toast and bacon to wolf down before the tables were put back for the Ancient Runes exams. At Ginny's urging he fetched his broom as she retrieved hers-- it had been George's, a newer Cleansweep, as he had kept Fred's-- and they flew over the Forest and the Lake and the grounds, as far as the barrier of spells would let them.
The end of his N.E.W.T.s drove home a point that Harry could avoid no longer. It had never occurred to him, that week at the Weasley's, that he should have waited for an invitation, or that he or Hermione should be anywhere else. But he couldn't live there, treating it like a hotel and imposing on Mrs. Weasley. He had his own house. And if he went to work at the Ministry in a few weeks, Grimmauld Place would be handier. But....
It was too big for just himself and Kreacher. It had been too big when Ron and Hermione were there too. He had always known exactly why Sirius had so enjoyed a houseful of guests, and how he had hated to be stuck there, unable to escape. And now he, Harry, was tied to it as well, even if only for Kreacher's sake; selling the place would break the old elf's heart, and Kreacher deserved better.
On the other hand, it was a chance to finish what Sirius had started, and clean it up. The first thing would be to suggest gently to Kreacher that the dead house- elves on the staircase ought to have a decent burial.
"I imagine you'll leave Sirius' room as it is," said Ginny as they entered the courtyard.
"And Regulus' room too. Not my choice of decor, but as far as I'm concerned Kreacher can have it. I hope we can take Mrs. Black down now, too."
Ginny sighed in exasperation. "I still need to learn to Apparate. That was another thing reserved for good Slytherins this year. You'll need to get Grimmauld Place hooked up to the Floo Network so I can come help."
"And your Mum won't object?"
"Don't be silly. She'll come along. She's not going to leave us alone, you know, especially in your own house. Even if it wasn't that house. There's still a lot of dangerous stuff around, I bet."
"Mind you, she has a point."
Ginny snorted. "I don't know the half of what she got up to at school...."
".... and I bet she'll never tell. Anyway, I'll probably be busy with Auror training or some of those personal appearances a lot of the time. And I want to help Mrs. Tonks."
"And I'll be at the shop a lot, but if you take me along to Mrs. Tonks' sometimes maybe I can help there too. She'll need someone more than George will need me." She drew a breath. "I really miss Tonks."
"So do I," said Harry.
At lunch Hermione waved them to the seats beside her and Ron, holding up a roll of parchment and all but bouncing into the air.
"It's from the Ministry!" she said excitedly. "We go there to catch a Portkey the Thursday after term ends, and there's all sorts of things scheduled for about a week, but first we see Mum and Dad. They've found out where they are and they'll keep an eye on them until we get there, but they won't try to fix their memories until I'm there."
Ron broke in. "Meanwhile you'll stay with us, and we'll all just go to work with Dad that day. Mum's said. I'm going, too," and he looked pleased. "They want to see all three of us! We'll go in on Wednesday with Dad too, they want to go over some stuff."
Harry felt Ginny slump at his side: Left behind, again, no doubt. To his surprise Ron noticed.
"Sorry, Ginny. We asked Mum and Dad if you could go, that day we found out about getting a Portkey, and Mum wouldn't hear of it until you were of age even if the Ministry sent someone along. They aren't too keen on me going, really."
"I knew they wouldn't want me to. Thanks anyway, though." She still sounded disappointed. And no wonder, thought Harry: she'd come of age only two months from now. Mrs. Weasley might not object to his seeing Ginny, but he wondered if maybe she was being a bit too strict. No, maybe not. It was hard for him to tell, of course, never having had normal parents or a sister, but Mrs. Weasley would probably not want to let go of Ginny anytime soon. Losing Fred probably had a lot to do with it.
Someday Ginny would get to travel. He'd make sure of that. Where was the World Cup this year, anyway? No point in bringing it up just now, though. They must deal with Mr. and Mrs. Granger first. Hermione handed him the letter. Mornings set aside for the Warriors and the Thunderers caught his eye, of course; and they -- or at least, he-- seemed set to visit every major city for dinner for a week.
After lunch Harry called Kreacher, and told him that he'd be leaving his trunk at Grimmauld Place on the Tuesday after next before going to the Weasley's, and about Australia.
"Master will be living in his house after he returns?"
"Yes. Is there anything I should take care of?"
"Kreacher will do all that Master needs. Shall Kreacher make ready the Master Bedroom?"
"I don't think so, really. One of the smaller rooms will do fine for me right now-- how about that one just off the first floor landing?"
"As Master wishes...."
Harry had to hide a smile as the conversation ended. Kreacher, having accepted Harry as his new master, was subtly trying to mold him into a proper Black. Not too much, of course, and not obviously. But he, Harry, had a lot to learn yet in some ways. Tonks had mentioned having to learn disguise and such; Kreacher might well be a mine of information, however indirectly, on how to conduct himself in polite Wizard society.
The weekend went by, then the last week of finals. Ginny was done on Wednesday and joined the pick-up games of Quidditch. Harry couldn't remember being at school with so little to do for so long; he wished he could go shopping, but it occurred to him that he didn't even know where the nearest Muggle town was. His jeans and trainers had worn badly over the winter, and he'd need better clothes soon for work and this trip. Somehow he simply couldn't picture himself in robes all the time. Another thing to do next Wednesday.
The announcement was made at dinner on Friday that Hogwarts would host a formal gathering of the magical community of the country on Sunday afternoon. Shirts, ties, clean robes, and polished shoes were expected of all students that day, as was the highest standard of courtesy and decorum for all visitors at all times. Guests would come, some to be housed within the school and grounds from Saturday evening through Monday morning; many visitors were expected from other countries; all were to be made welcome. Students were to avoid the area used for the last such gathering until the guests had departed, unless they were willing to help the staff with the preparations. The student body would remain in the Great Hall from lunch on Sunday until the procession to their places at the ceremony. That would be all for the moment.
For some reason, people thought Harry might know what it was all about. Harry had an idea, as did Ginny and Hermione and Ron, but by tacit agreement none of them voiced their suspicions, only saying with perfect accuracy that they knew nothing for certain. That didn't stop rumors from springing up and multiplying. By bedtime, Harry was somewhat surprised to learn that he had been voted the new Minister for Magic and had told Ron so a week ago. Ron whooped. At breakfast on Saturday morning they all sat with Luna who, startled and pleased but perfectly composed as ever, had been keeping Neville, Seamus, and Dean laughing by repeating the logic behind the most outrageous gossip from Ravenclaw.
Guests started arriving after lunch. Thestrals pulled carriages to and from Hogsmeade every few hours, but as the afternoon was fine a great many simply walked up the long drive, some with broomsticks over their shoulders. Harry, Ron, and Ginny had just finished with a game of Quidditch and were crossing the courtyard when Ginny looked up.
"Oh, Dad will have a fit! Look at that!"
"That" was an airplane, circling the castle. Harry didn't know much about airplanes, but with two canvas- covered wings and propellers it was surely at least seventy years old; it was big-- was there even a place it could land safely? It was magic, of course; there was noise, but not enough for a normal aircraft that size.
It swept away for a few minutes, and when they caught sight of it again it was obvious that it would land on the lake. As they watched, it touched down and grated up onto the pebbly beach on floats that Ron swore hadn't been there when it was flying over the grounds. After a moment it began disgorging staggering passengers, quite a number of which simply sat or flopped down.
"Out of my way, move aside, please! Who-- oh, Potter, it's you. Would you mind terribly? You've got a broom, could you fly this down to those poor people? I'll fetch the Headmistress. All they need is a mouthful; just duplicate the glass on top. Quickly now, I'll be there momentarily." Harry went; no one refused Madame Pomfrey.
He pulled up after a few seconds' flight, and sorted out how to duplicate the glass and pour out Madame Pomfrey's Ginger Tonic, handing it out to the green- faced unfortunates on the beach. When he noticed what Harry was doing, a wizard with a flat American accent told him to keep pouring as he replicated glasses and called a witch over to distribute the medicine. Madame Pomfrey appeared with a second bottle and Professor McGonagall. By this time some of the stricken were on their feet, looking a little dazed but otherwise in better color. Harry would have retreated, but for a gesture from McGonagall.
He glanced at the plane. A design of scattered stars and swirling stripes covered the entire surface; "The Salem Witches' Institute" was painted on the side. Harry wondered if the middle- aged witch with the straw- colored hair and goggles, shaking the Headmistress' hand and introducing herself as Dean Sarah Miller- call- me- Sally, was one of those he had seen at the World Cup. It seemed that the American Ministry-- no, Department-- of Magic had prevailed upon the Salem Institute for transport, which had run into foul weather.
Professor McGonagall was introducing Madame Pomfrey, and then Harry, who was sure he would never remember all the names; the guests were from all over North America, a mix of U.S. Department and Canadian Ministry officials and staff from several schools. He was shaking the hand of a dark- haired man when an outcry and a loud slurping noise made them both look out over the water. Harry was not really surprised to see a whirlpool forming in the middle of the lake. Professor McGonagall took him aside.
"Potter, would you do me a favor? Please tell Professors Flitwick and Slughorn to prepare for a strong storm this evening, and to protect the seating arrangements accordingly. They're setting things up now. Once your broom is put away, I'd like you and your friends to help greet our guests in the entrance hall. Everyone seems to be arriving at once. Quickly now, and thank you."
Harry ran up the bank, tried a silent "Accio Firebolt!" and jumped astride as it rose from the grass where he'd left it.
"Harry, m'boy! Where's the fire?" Professor Slughorn was in the best humor Harry could remember for weeks as he and Flitwick arranged seats.
"Professor McGonagall wants you to get ready for a storm. That plane that just landed came through one and they were all airsick."
"Thank you, Mr. Potter. No, wait a moment! Horace, perhaps you'd best go to the castle and greet our guests. If you could help here, Mr. Potter, it won't take but a moment. Go quickly around the field, so-- Protego Totalum, if you please-- no need to walk, of course, use your broom! Go on!"
Harry did so. When he had encircled the area Professor Flitwick raised his arms above his head, saying "Impervius Tempestas!" as an enormous dome shimmered into sight above where Harry had put down his spell.
"Well done, Mr. Potter. We'll leave it like that whether or not it rains. I so dislike wet seats. And see-- in a few hours that will be here." He waved vaguely to the west, where fluffy clouds were piling over the horizon. "Now go on. I've just a few touches to finish yet."
Professor Slughorn laughed as Harry flew past. Most of the students were now in the courtyard watching the ship; it had anchored by the same bank it had used years before and was running out its gangplank. He found Ron and Neville together in the courtyard, relayed McGonagall's message--
"Who's she want?" said Ron.
Harry hesitated. "She just said me and my friends--"
"Good enough," said Neville. "LISTEN EVERYONE--"
By the time the North Americans and the representatives of Ministries from all over Eastern Europe had reached the courtyard and the entry hall, most of the students and staff of Hogwarts were assembled to greet them in something approaching good order. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, and Neville were to the fore, as were the prefects and Professor Slughorn, who had caught his breath; Professor McGonagall looked pleased at the display, though somehow not surprised.
Harry vaguely remembered the Bulgarian Minister from the World Cup, and recalled the names of most of the people from the airplane, despite the fact that they looked much healthier than they had those few minutes before. The delegation from Hungary had just entered the courtyard when some first- years started yelling behind them.
"How much?" said Ron in an undertone.
"I'm not betting," said Harry with a grin. "It's Beauxbatons, isn't it?"
"Had to try."
"Were we ever that young? Listen to 'em."
"Oi, you lot! Pipe down! They'll be here soon enough!" Ron rolled his eyes. "Nope. We were never, ever that bad." Beyond him Hermione turned away, one hand over her mouth, but she had controlled her laughter long before Madame Maxime strode into the yard, trailing a cloud of dignitaries.
In her train were more familiar figures. As soon as she had curtsied to Professor McGonagall, Gabrielle Delacour detached herself from her parents and gave Ginny a hug before greeting rest of them. The man who had entered behind the Delacours shuffled forward to pump Harry's and Ron's hands and, more gently, Hermione's. Harry was relieved to see that Ron was neither surprised nor jealous; and for his part Harry was glad-- he wanted to talk with Viktor Krum.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and of course Bill and Fleur were included in the guest list for dinner that night, as were the Diggorys and the Delacours: all connections to the Triwizard champions. They sat with Krum and Fleur near the High Table. Somehow room had been made for everyone, although it was the first time since the battle that the hall looked full to Harry. The ceiling was a dark and roiling grey, shot through by lightning in time to muted thunder, which somehow made for comfortable conversation. There was a little time to visit privately with the Weasleys afterward, before they and the Delacours returned to the Burrow. When the rain slacked off and the other guests returned to their conveyances or to Hogsmeade for the night, Krum informed the Headmaster of Durmstrang that he wished to visit his friends and would return to the ship later.
They invited Krum to the Common Room, claiming a corner and using a Muffliato charm for some privacy. Harry first apologized, explaining that he had had to be in disguise for Bill and Fleur's wedding, and had the singular experience of hearing Krum laugh.
"So you vere Barny. I thought you seemed familiar. It vos vell done," he chuckled. "Your Ministry came looking for you, but I saw you three get avay. They vere not bright. Vun tried to qvestion me, and at the end four of them vere shouting at me. Then somevun recognized me and made me go."
"I'm glad you got away all right. Really, they wouldn't have stopped at cursing you, or anyone there."
"Oh, I know," said Krum. "But also they vere pushing around the old vuns. Even the vun vith Grindelvald's sign-- he did not deserve that, he did not know vot he vore."
"Um, yes. About that-- I found out more about it," said Harry, feeling his way cautiously. "It was a mark that Grindelwald used, but it was a lot older than he was. Have you ever heard of a story about three brothers trying to cheat Death, with three objects? A wand, a stone to call up the dead, and an Invisibility Cloak?"
"I haf heard it, ven I vos very small. It is English, correct?"
"Yes. It was true, in a way. Three wizards did make those objects, centuries ago. Mr. Lovegood is a little strange about some things, and he knows some of the legends about them. That's what the mark means here, where not many people remember a lot about Grindelwald. But even so, very few people know anything about the sign." This still wasn't easy. "Dumbledore and Grindelwald were friends for awhile, before Grindelwald started gaining power, and they were obsessed with these things. When Grindelwald came to England for a summer, after he'd been expelled from Durmstrang, he had been using that sign for a long time and no one else there would have recognized what it meant. I-- thought you'd like to know."
Krum was silent for a moment. "Lovegood-- he vill come tomorrow?"
"I'm not sure. His daughter's here, but he wasn't well the last time I saw him."
"If he does not come, I vill go to him. I should apologize," said Krum. "You say this children's story vos true, that these things vere real?"
"Yes, they were. The wand wasn't unbeatable, the stone could only make memories look solid to one person, and the Cloak isn't as useful as a good Disillusionment charm. But they existed."
"You had them, but no longer? They are destroyed, maybe?"
"They're-- out of reach."
"Good. Everybody must know," stated Krum. "No vun needs another Grindelvald or Voldemort, and if these things are gone, some idiots might think tvice before trying to play at dark vizards. But for now-- I saw the beginning, three years ago, and haf heard little since. I could learn nothing from England since August, until ve heard of the battle many days after. Vot happened here?"
At the end of an hour the audience had grown; Demelza, Coote, and Peakes had joined them when Ginny waved them in, as had Neville, Dean, and Seamus, whom Krum very vaguely remembered. Demelza had been prevailed upon to tell of her nighttime flight from France, which seemed to impress Krum, although he was most interested in the fighting.
Once he referred to Harry winning the Triwizard Tournament.
Harry shook his head. "That was fixed from the start. I doubt they'll hold it again, with the way it ended. I wish it had been straightforward-- it was so unfair to the rest of you. I only won because Voldemort's man cheated for me."
"No," said Krum flatly, to Harry's surprise. "If you ask Fleur, she vill say as I do, that ve should haf known better because you alvays said you did not enter yourself. And from all I haf ever heard of this Dark Lord, it vos good that your vands vere so the same, because ve could haf done no better than Cedric without that. This spy of Voldemort's, he took to himself too much credit. He did not face your tasks for you. If you still doubt, I haf heard today from Madame Maxime that she vishes to host the next tournament. By then perhaps she--" he looked at Demelza-- "vill be old enough to compete. And Hogvarts vill be even harder to beat after all you haf done."
The conversation turned to the upcoming World Cup, which would be held in Luxembourg, and Harry let it go on without him. He'd never have guessed that Krum and Fleur felt that way, but then the Triwizard Tournament had always been something too awkward to discuss with Fleur.
He rather thought he'd heard more words from Krum in the past hour than during the entire year of the tournament. Something else fell into place too: he bet the visitors were here from all over because of the fiasco at the World Cup Finals four years ago. That made sense. They were to be shown that Voldemort really was dead and the Death Eaters disbanded.
Krum shook hands or kissed them, as required, and Hermione escorted him to the castle doors before they were shut for the evening.
"I won't call him a chatterbox," she said a little later, "but I think he's learned how to converse. It's stopped raining again, too."
Ginny giggled. "I heard him at the wedding. It's a good thing I don't know Bulgarian. I never gave it a thought that he was doing it on purpose."
"I bet he didn't, either."
"Oh, Ron! Don't be jealous."
"Yeah, Ron," chimed in Ginny. "Just because he's an international Qvidditch star, and knows how to dance, and speaks four languages, and vould look quite good if he stood up straight--"
"And how do you know he can speak four languages?"
"Fleur told me," said Ginny. "Or haven't you noticed how good his English is now? Anyvay, I'm off to polish my shoes."
Dawn came, the sky cool and clear. Everywhere else was soaked except for the seats under Flitwick's dome. As the morning wore on, more visitors arrived from Hogsmeade, and Ron swore he saw flying carpets over the lake. Unlike the service after the battle, visitors were escorted in groups around the grounds and inside parts of the castle, with staff members or Ministry people showing points of interest. Harry was apparently a point of interest, until Professor Babblings rescued him.
The lunch guests at the High Table rose and left before the students were allowed to get up and stretch. Professor Slughorn had made plain to Harry that this time he most certainly would be in the front row, his friends with him. They passed in sight of Dumbledore's tomb, almost buried in offerings of flowers. As the procession passed down through the standing crowd he, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Dean, and Neville were separated from the rest of Gryffindor and shown to their seats, joined by Luna, Ernie, and more DA members, taking up the front rows. They faced a dais with more seats on risers, blocking a view of the lake. They were filled with the dress robes of the heads of the foreign delegations and the black and maroon robes of the Wizengamot. There was a man in an ordinary dress suit that Harry would never have noticed if the man hadn't been so obviously trying not to stare at everything. Then the thunder of hooves: Centaurs galloped up from the forest, an untidy line suddenly stopping and wheeling to ring the assembly neatly, churning up muddy clumps as they did so. A loud crack, and the house- elves seated themselves.
Finally Kingsley Shacklebolt rose and began to speak.
"Members of the magical community of this nation, Mr. Prime Minister, and honored guests from the far corners of our world, thank you for coming here today; Headmistress McGonagall, I wish to thank you and the staff of Hogwarts for allowing this assembly to take place on Hogwarts grounds.
"We have all experienced the upheaval of the past years. Some of us found it necessary to depart these islands, or to go into hiding. Many of us had no choice or chance to do otherwise than endure. All of us were at risk of persecution or loss of life itself. Not all of us realized just what was happening when the warning signs finally showed themselves. Not all of us had the means to act.
"A year ago, this country gathered to mourn Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Several weeks ago, many of us gathered here to hear the story of the battle here at Hogwarts, to rejoice at our freedom, to mourn our dead. Today we gather to honor those who worked and fought for that freedom.
"Firstly, I wish to announce the publication of a book. Headmistress McGonagall assigned to every Hogwarts student the task of setting down what he or she experienced. The Ministry asked the same of many others. Many of you contributed. The original materials have been copied and will be archived, both here and at the Ministry of Magic. The result is this volume, giving an account of the battle as complete as could be compiled in the time given. Copies for the free use of the public will be distributed to all magical communities, and it will be published for sale as well. Eventually other volumes will be added, documenting more of the past years.
"Madame Pince, please take charge of this, the first copy of the first edition, for the Hogwarts school library.
"Secondly, at the request of the Wizengamot, I am pleased to declare the first Saturday of May a holiday from this time forward, as long as the magical community of these islands remembers Lord Voldemort and the horrors wrought by his lust for power. This holiday will start the evening before, on Friday at sundown, and is intended as a memorial not only for those who fought and died at Hogwarts but also for all victims of the Death Eaters throughout the years. At sunrise on the first Saturday of May we will take time to remember the moment of the Dark Lord's defeat.
"Thirdly, I wish to bring to your attention a common failing of governments and organizations of all sorts, both magical and non- magical. Any honors that may be bestowed will never tell the complete tale of how they were earned; never will every act of every person who deserves such honor be recognized. By their nature they are awarded to a few who must in their turn represent the efforts and sacrifices of many. The great number to be given today, more than at any other single time in centuries, will remind us as long as we live of the bravery and tragedy seen on these grounds.
"In this country, one honor in particular has gained preeminence. The Order of Merlin was originally awarded to those witches and wizards who had promoted peace with, understanding of, or protection of, the non- magical population of this country. Over time, especially since the Statute of Secrecy took effect, the emphasis has shifted to recognize service to the wizarding world almost exclusively. Ten months ago, under Voldemort's orders, it was declared obsolete.
"Last month the Wizengamot unanimously voted to revive the Order of Merlin. For the first time they have defined and clarified its qualifications. Little has changed from previous centuries. The Order of Merlin is now officially the highest honor that can be bestowed by this nation upon a magical being, beast, or spirit"-- Harry heard Hermione's sharp breath-- "for service to either or both the magical and non- magical worlds. Each case must now be reviewed by an impartial committee before being submitted for final approval to the Wizengamot. This is in accordance with the original practice of the Council of Wizards, long since laid aside.
"The Order of Merlin, Third Class, is bestowed upon those who act with extraordinary selflessness and courage for the benefit of others, Magical or Muggle.
"The Order of Merlin, Second Class, is awarded to those who defend and promote the well- being of others, and who uphold Magical Law and the Statute of Secrecy at risk of their own well- being, in the face of opposition.
"The Order of Merlin, First Class, is given to those witches and wizards who not only fulfill the conditions for Third and Second Class, but do so knowingly risking or giving their own lives in defense of and for the benefit of others, Magical or non- Magical, and display the highest level of gallantry in the face of an enemy.
"Order of Merlin, Third Class: Mrs. Arabella Figg... Madame Poppy Pomfrey....
Ordinary citizens and Ministry workers, who had protected their neighbors and friends all winter; some of the people who had come from Hogsmeade and St. Mungo's that morning, not so much to fight but to help the wounded.
"Order of Merlin, Second Class: Mr. Dedalus Diggle, Miss Hestia Jones..."
Well, they deserved it, for having put up with Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia all that time.
".... Professor Babblings... Sinistra... Trelawney... Vector... Madame Pince...."
All the staff who had gone with the evacuated students that night, keeping most from joining the battle or running in panic, and who had tried all year to keep their students out of the way of the Carrows; others who had stayed that night. Some students, who had resisted the Carrows or helped to evacuate the school. Then some of the house- elves, who had hidden students in the kitchens on occasion, and even ghosts and Peeves.
"Order of Merlin, First Class: Professor Minerva McGonagall, Professor Pomona Sprout, Professor Filius Flitwick, and Professor Horace Slughorn, who organized the defense of Hogwarts and its evacuation, and fought the Death Eaters within the school.
"Professor Firenze and Professor Rubeus Hagrid, who defended their students all year and joined in a battle of magic although not being permitted wands under wizarding law." Harry sensed a change in policy coming.
"Professor Remus Lupin, deceased, Auror Nymphadora Lupin-- better known as Tonks-- deceased, Mr. Arthur Weasley, Mr. William and Mrs. Fleur Weasley, Mr. Percy Weasley, Mr. Fred Weasley, deceased, Mr. George Weasley...."
Practically every member of the Order; those who had gone out onto the grounds or guarded the entrances. The list went on. And on.
"Mr. Aberforth Dumbledore, who supported students in hiding all year, who helped organize the evacuees, and then joined in the battle.
"Mr. Lee Jordan, now best known to the magical community at large as 'River' of Potterwatch, whose last broadcast notified the nation that Hogwarts would fight Lord Voldemort, just before he came himself." At this point the crowd erupted into wild applause, and would not be silenced for quite a long time.
"Mr. Neville Longbottom, who dealt with Voldemort's snake, overcoming Voldemort's curse to do so.
"The centaurs Bane, Magorian, and Ronan, who led the final charge against the Death Eaters, breaking their formation and driving them into the castle.
"Kreacher the house- elf, who chose to lead his fellow house- elves into the battle instead of evacuating. Their action ensured the defeat of the majority of the remaining Death Eaters." Kingsley had to wait for them to settle down.
"Miss Ginerva Weasley and Miss Luna Lovegood, who dueled Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort's lieutenant; and Mrs. Molly Weasley, who defeated her."
More applause and shouting, with several voices cheering for Mum.
"Headmaster Severus Snape, deceased, who for sixteen years was a faithful agent of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, actively posing as a Death Eater in Voldemort's service for the last three years of his life. Even as he died he passed on the information needed to defeat Voldemort.
"Finally, Miss Hermione Granger and Mr. Ronald Weasley, who have risked their lives time and time again over the past seven years, not only to defeat a dark wizard or to save their school, but for the sake of friendship. And--
"Mr. Harry Potter."
After the excitement of the last few days, the monotony of the Hogwarts Express had put the others to sleep in the midafternoon heat, including Pigwidgeon and Crookshanks. The seat wasn't really comfortable, even with Ginny drowsing beside him, but Harry had other things to think about.
There had been a brief and vague talk with Firenze, and finding out that the centaurs had been waiting for the final event to try to interpret the signs they had read both for death and life. Firenze refused to be drawn out further, saying only that both the signs and Harry's experience were unprecedented.
There had been Professor Trelawney's announcement at the Leaving Feast, that she felt a need to depart the school on a quest for greater understanding. The responses, whether regretful or pleased, had at least been sincerely supportive. Harry wondered if she had ever realized that Hogwarts had been her prison ever since she'd made that prophecy.
There had been the meeting with Kingsley and Professors McGonagall and Babblings after dinner on Sunday. He had gotten his "Outstanding" N.E.W.T. in Defense Against the Dark Arts-- they all had-- and Exceeded Expectations for the other two. Starting tomorrow, he would officially be an Auror trainee; in September he would be a part- time student, as would Ron, for Herbology and Potions. Perhaps for Care of Magical Creatures, too; that would depend upon what his Auror trainers thought.
It would disappoint the Quidditch team that he'd refused the Captaincy for the coming year, but it was a job for a resident student, and it wasn't that important to him anymore. Likewise he'd refused the post of Head Boy, as tempting as it was to follow in his father's footsteps. Ideally that should be Neville, he'd said, if Neville saw the need to return. They had all agreed. Kingsley still insisted, however, that he would be able to take time for Quidditch. Harry hadn't known that he could earn credit for his training by doing so-- every Auror was expected to be competent on a broom-- but in addition Kingsley seemed to think it would be some sort of good publicity, since the amateur Ministry matches were practically unknown. He'd smiled at Harry's surprise that such things existed. Harry had then gone out, sending Ron and Hermione in.
Hermione had all three "Outstandings" and Ron an "Exceeds Expectations" in Transfiguration and an "Acceptable" in Charms. Hermione's internship would start when she returned from Australia; she would still be a full- time student next year with four classes.
Ron, for the same reasons as Harry, had declined both the Quidditch Captaincy and Head Boy badge. "Mum will throw a fit, of course. But I don't need 'em and I won't have time, either, although George will probably be okay with me leaving early for practice if I make the team. Let Ginny do it."
They hadn't told her yet; it would wait for the official letter.
Yesterday morning had still been clear, and he had gone down to the Quidditch pitch with the others. Their Durmstrang guests had been practicing with Viktor Krum, under Madame Hooch's appreciative eye. Gordon and Edna had shown up shortly with friends, and before long Hogwarts was cheerfully losing a match. Harry would remember it. He'd gotten to fly against Viktor Krum.
For the first time Harry had really used his Firebolt. He'd never had to fly like that before in a match, and he had learned more in that hour from Krum than in all his years of flying for Gryffindor. After the first few minutes Krum had not pulled any punches, and had been flying as if it were the Cup Final in two months.
They'd each avoided getting ploughed twice, and had likewise ducked out before getting shouldered into the stands; Krum had bumped Harry's broom, not from the side as usual, but from beneath with his shoulder; Harry, on the outside of a turn, had ducked beneath Krum's broom to dive after the Snitch a split second before Krum could make the turn. Hundreds of feet up, Krum made a wild grab, actually coming off his broom, holding on with one hand-- then calmly fell for several seconds until he could swing a leg over and turn the fall into a dive. After an hour of battering each other at top speed, they were climbing neck and neck, straining after the Snitch; Harry thought he had it, lunged, and closed his hand-- on Krum's left glove instead.
They returned to the field, both mobbed by the crowd that had gathered. Krum, scarcely out of breath, had shaken Harry's hand; so had the Bulgarian Minister, beaming. Harry hadn't broken any records, but as Ron and Madame Hooch pointed out, he had lasted longer than a great many of Bulgaria's opponents. It was worth the ringing ears and windburn and exhaustion.
It felt better than getting an Order of Merlin, really. Kingsley himself had pointed out that no one in his right mind would want to earn one, and that he was certain every recipient would gladly toss it in the garbage if it meant that any one of the fatalities wouldn't have happened. Hermione had said that it would mostly remind her of Harry standing upright as Voldemort fell, the moment she'd known that she would always be able to cast a Patronus. Ron and Ginny had agreed.
Ginny stirred under his arm. A little over a year ago had been one of the worst days of his life-- Dumbledore dead, Ginny sent away from him, the Ministry trying to use him. Now-- his life would still not be easy, no Auror's was; but the past two months had held some of the best times he could remember. More would come.
Not knowing he had succumbed, Harry slept.
This is the last installment of Aftermath. I hope you enjoyed reading it, as I have enjoyed writing it. (I.e., hopefully you didn't fall asleep before Harry did.)
Firstly, to God be the glory, although He didn't write this. It's not that good.
Next, to the folks on the Forum: Without you'ns, especially Alan, Vermis Libris, Daniac (thanks again for the link!) et al, I'd never have finished this, much less posted it.
Literary note: Much as I enjoyed writing this, please realize that it is, strictly speaking, unnecessary. I just thought it might be fun to write up to where the books usually end. This is probably because JKR switched some dramatic conventions around in DH, beginning the crisis with a wedding feast and ending with advice from (and to) a mentor; it does leave one with that after- dinner craving for dessert.
Historical note: The closest thing to the Battle of Hogwarts and the Orders of Merlin awarded (passed out like candy, but I couldn't see a way around that) might be the defense of Rourke's Drift in the Zulu Wars; see the movie Zulu and read the end notes. There are also British medals for civilians which sound a bit like the Order of Merlin, some that were created during the Blitz. Be it noted that none of these come cheap. I didn't enumerate all the medals I gave out here, but I'd guess over fifty for this one incident (all grades) including posthumous ones. (There aren't any Wizarding military honors, of course; there are police but no military.) In the real world it would probably have been fewer than half that.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related characters and elements are the property, copyright and trademark of Warner Bros. and J. K. Rowling and no ownership or claim on said property, copyright or trademark is made or implied by their use in the work(s) of fan fiction presented here. This fan fiction constitutes a personal comment on the aforesaid properties pursuant to doctrines of fair use and fair comment. This fan fiction is non-commercial, not for sale or profit, and may not be sold or reproduced for commercial purposes.