- CHAPTER ONE –
World at Peace
The day of July 1st began a very peaceful one. The sunny Wednesday was the first day of many when Harry finally felt free. He was finally rid of the burden of Lord Voldemort. He had never been able to live his life to its full extent when he knew that Voldemort was always lurking in the shadows. When he'd known that it was up to him to eventually defeat the darkest and most dangerous wizard of all time. He felt like he'd been relieved of a huge responsibility that had consumed his thoughts in almost every waking moment. Despite this, he felt sad. His heart went out to all the immensely brave witches and wizards who had died in hope of this miracle one day coming true. He knew they hadn't died in vain. He still felt partly responsible. Because of him his godson, Teddy Lupin, would grow up not knowing his parents. Mr and Mrs Weasley had lost their son, and George had lost his twin. He couldn't imagine one of the Weasley twins without the other. Fred would never live to see the continued success of the joke shop. Harry didn't even know if George would keep it open. Hedwig, his faithful owl, had been his only connection to the magical world when he'd been stuck at the Dursley's. Dobby had sacrificed his own life to save them from Malfoy Manor. He couldn't forget the countless times Dobby had helped him out of a jam. Then there was Snape. Although he'd loathed the Potions master for the entire time he'd attended Hogwarts, he still valued the sacrifice he'd made. The way he'd died just showed that Voldemort had just used people as puppets to do his dirty work. The second they were no longer required the flames would devour the wood. He still couldn't believe that Snape had actually been in love with Lily. What would have happened if Lily had married Snape instead of James? Would Snape be his father? He shuddered at this thought. He could have had a different mother. Based on the memory he'd seen of his dad picking on Snape and recounts from Lupin and Sirius, he doubted his father would have ever given up on Lily. There were so many questions that he'd never know the answers to. There was no point pondering on this though. He was going to finish his education at Hogwarts come September 1st, then he would train to become an Auror. He would do it for his parents, for Sirius, for Fred, Lupin, Tonks, Dobby, Hedwig, Snape and all the other people he'd known or been friends with. He wasn't going to crawl in a hole and hide. He knew all these people would want him to continue on with his life. He looked up as the bedroom door opened. The red-haired figure of Ginny walked through the door and sat down next to him on the floor. He wasn't surprised to see her. He knew that she'd eventually figure out that he was avoiding her and her family. Well it wasn't avoiding exactly. It was more like respecting their privacy. He was leaving them to mourn Fred in peace. The two sat in silence for a few minutes before Ginny finally spoke. "We're all feeling sad you know. You don't have to hide. Nobody blames you. Its not you're fault" she said quietly. When Harry didn't respond, she continued. "I'm grieving too, but its okay for us to be happy as well. You got rid of Voldemort once and for all. Besides, it's about time you got out of this house" Ginny said. Harry had been staying at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place for a few days now. He reluctantly let Ginny help him to his feet. She took his hand and led him out of the room like he was a young child. He didn't let go though. Her hand was comforting to him. It showed that she still cared. She let go of his hand and gripped his arm tightly. As Ginny turned on the spot, Harry felt the familiar uncomfortable sensation of being squeezed through a tight tube that was apparition. He gratefully breathed in deep gulps of air as he took in his surroundings. He was of course at The Burrow, his second favourite place in the world. As he and Ginny walked through the front door he couldn't imagine how the Weasley's must be feeling. Harry was used to the house buzzing with activity so it was strange to see and hear how quiet it was. Mrs Weasley didn't even look up as they walked in. She was sitting at the table with a cup of tea which she was stirring, using her wand. He didn't know what would happened to the wand because of this but was not about to disturb Mrs Weasley. As it seemed, neither was Ginny. Harry followed her into the next room. Ron and Hermione were sitting there, and he was reassured to find that they hadn't walked in on the two kissing. He presumed they were a couple now. As usual, Hermione was fully engrossed in the book she was reading. Ron was tossing dungbombs along the floor which Crookshanks was happily fetching. Unlike Mrs Weasley, they both looked up at his and Ginny's entrance. "Harry" Hermione said. "It's about time you showed up." Harry had been expecting her to say something like that. "I had to go back to Grimmauld Place for a bit" he replied. She nodded. "Its okay Harry, you don't have to explain yourself. We're just glad that you're here." She closed her book and tucked a strand of her bushy brown hair behind her ear. He didn't want them to play the sympathy card so he changed the subject. "Are you guys going back to Hogwarts this year?" he asked. "We have to go" Ron said gesturing towards himself and Ginny. Harry turned his head to look at Hermione. "I have to go back as well so I can do the N.E.W.T. exams. I also have to finish school if I want to pursue my chosen career." She flashed a secretive smile and opened her book again. He had a feeling that she didn't want to elaborate. Ginny nudged Harry. "We'll be in the same year" she said. This made him happy. He hoped that everything would go back to the way it had been in sixth year with him and Ginny. Ron didn't look that excited about his younger sister being around more often that usual. They didn't have time to think about this though because four owls soared through the window. They jostled each other as they landed on the table. Ron was the closest so he untied the letters and handed them to their owners. They all knew that they were from Hogwarts. Harry wondered if he'd been sent one last year when he'd been away with Ron and Hermione looking for the horcruxes. Hermione let out a shriek when she opened hers. The other three turned to look at her. She had her open envelope in one hand and a badge in the other. "Is that what I think it is?" Harry asked. Hermione nods happily. They all offer their congratulations and go back to their own letters. Harry opened the flap of his envelope and widened his eyes in shock. His stomach turned over as he reached into the envelope and pulled out a badge identical to Hermione's. How could it be that he was Head Boy? Was it possible if you hadn't been a prefect? Yes. Dad did. Hagrid had told him that his mother had father had been Head Boy and Girl when they were at Hogwarts. At first the other three didn't notice that he was holding the badge. Then Ginny looked at it and cried out. "You're Head Boy!" she cried. Ron looked up from his own letter and stared. He mumbled his congratulations and went back to reading his own letter. Harry had a feeling that he'd been hoping to be Head Boy with Hermione. Harry hadn't expected it at all. Hermione looked up as well and let out another shriek. "I'm glad its you Harry, I'd hate to be Head Girl with Malfoy." She shuddered and grinned at Harry. Ginny wrapped him in a hug and kissed him on the cheek. He felt the place where her lips had touched tingle. He reached into his envelope and his fingers felt another badge. He knew what this one was. Pulling it out he looked at his old Quidditch Captain badge. "I knew you'd be captain again" Ron said. He'd finished looking at his own letter and looked at the other badge in Harry's hand. He stuffed the two badges into his jeans pocket and pulled out the letter.
Dear Mr Potter
We understand your absence from school the previous year and invite you back this year to complete your seventh (7) year of magical education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Congratulations on becoming Head Boy and Gryffindor Quidditch Captain. You will be notified of your duties when you arrive at Hogwarts on September 1st. You will find attached a list of your school books and equipment for the term ahead. Enjoy the rest of your vacation.
Professor Minerva McGonagall
He'd forgotten that McGonagall was the Headmistress now. He didn't read the equipment list. He wouldn't need to look it at until they went to Diagon Alley to get their school stuff. "Isn't it a bit early for our Hogwarts letters?" Hermione asked. Harry paused. She was right. They didn't normally receive their letters from Hogwarts until at least August. He didn't recall receiving one before his birthday unless you counted his first one, which had avalanched the Dursley's house at Privet Drive. He wondered if Dedalus Diggle and Hestia Jones had taken them back to their house in Little Whinging now that Voldemort was dead. "Well we're short a teacher again" Ginny said. "Two teachers" Hermione interrupted. "Two? Who else is there?" Ginny asked. "They found the body of Charity Burbage, the Muggle Studies teacher, at Malfoy Manor. The Ministry think that Voldemort murdered her himself" Hermione said. "Have they said whose teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts?" Harry asked. "Not that I know of" Hermione replied. She lifted her arm and looked at her watch. "Do you guys want to go to and grab some dinner?" she asked. Harry's eyes narrowed in confusion. "Isn't Mrs Weasley cooking?" he asked. "She hasn't cooked all summer" Ginny said. "I'm starving" Ron piped up. "You're always starving Ronald" Hermione said. They all laughed. It felt good to laugh again. "Let's go to the Leaky Cauldron" Harry suggested. He had an ulterior motive for going to Diagon Alley. He took Ginny's hand and turned on the spot before any of them could reply. The uncomfortable sensation didn't last long. They touched down in the bar of the Leaky Cauldron. Ron and Hermione were close behind. Tom, the barman, looked up from the glass he was wiping. "Mr Potter, it is an honour. What can I do you for?" he asked. Harry was a bit overwhelmed at the response he was getting from the wizarding public so far but he tried to just take it in his stride. "I'll just have the special" he said, sitting down at the nearest table. Ron, Hermione and Ginny placed their orders before joining him. Ginny pulled her wand out of her pocket and conjured a candle which hovered in midair. They sat in silence as they were submerged by their thoughts. Ginny pulled her pygmy puff Arnold out of her pocket and set him on the table. They could usually find heaps to talk about but today they had nothing to say. Ginny prodded Arnold with her wand and he waddled across the table. Hermione had brought along her book which she still hadn't managed to tear herself away from. As she opened it Harry glimpsed the title, The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She was still reading it. He looked away as he was reminded of when they first learnt about the Hallows, at Xenophilius Lovegood's house. They'd been lucky to escape from there alive. A waitress walked out from behind the bar, hovering their plates in front of her with her wand. Harry didn't recognise her until she got closer. "Parvati?" he questioned. She nodded. Hermione and Ginny turned around. "What are you doing here?" Hermione asked. Parvati waved her wand and the plates slowly descended onto the table. "I needed some extra money so I got a summer job here" she replied. Despite protests from the others, Harry pulled his money bag out of his pocket and handed Parvati a few fat galleons. They ate their dinner in silence. After they'd all finished they got up and walked out to the back to enter Diagon Alley. Ginny still had her wand out so she tapped the bricks on the wall. They moved apart obligingly to let them through. Diagon Alley was buzzing with people as usual. As they walked down the cobbled street Harry noticed that he was receiving a lot more attention than usual. People he didn't know waved to him as he passed. The four were stopped a couple of times by people handing him gifts and bouquets of flowers. This newfound attention was annoying but also flattering in a way. He had saved them from the terror of Voldemort's reign but he didn't think he deserved all this. The other three didn't say anything about it but he had a feeling that they were a bit annoyed by it as well. When they got to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes the shop was alive with activity as usual. There were big red posters in the shop windows advertising trick furniture and two new flavours of Skiving Snackboxes. They entered the shop and manoeuvred their way through the crowds of children to reach the counter. Verity was serving at the counter. She recognised them immediately and let them past into the room behind the counter. George was sitting on a desk covered with parchment, locked in a passionate embrace with none other than the old Gryffindor Chaser Katie Bell. They broke apart hastily when the heard the door open. Ron snickered and Ginny giggled. Hermione smirked a little and Harry grinned. Katie picked up her bag from the floor and brushed past them. "Sorry to interrupt" Ron sniggered. The other three burst out laughing. Red wasn't a good colour for George's cheeks. He slid off the desk and pulled out his chair. A quill popped out of its holder and into his hand. "I'm just taking care of some bills" he said, scribbling his signature at the bottom of the first piece of parchment. Ginny coughed. "Right, business" she said. "Is it a crime to have a girlfriend this day in age?" George asked. "Since when are you going out with her?" Ron asked. "Since last week, not that it's any of your business" George replied. He looked up and saw Harry behind Ginny. "Harry, how've you been? You should have come round earlier" he said cheerfully. He scooped a few boxes of his desk and tossed them to Harry. "I've been around, I was just at Grimmauld Place for a couple of days" Harry said as he looked at the boxes. The first was bright red and blue like the poster out the front. "Try the two new flavours of Skiving Snackboxes: Tonsillitis Trifle and Measles Muffins. They're sure to make you sicker than ever before!" The second box had a clear plastic front and he could see four vials with different coloured liquid inside. This box was purple with silver writing. "Vanishing Potions- Use them to disappear when people least expect it. They come in a range of 10, 50, 100 and 200m disappearance lengths." "Then you wouldn't have heard the latest news" George said. This caught the attention of all four of them. "What news?" Ginny asked. "I'm the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts" George said. Their eyes grew wide. What about the shop?" Hermione asked, forever the logical one. "I've promoted Verity to manager and I'll be in every so often to check up on things. I think its best I get away from here for a while so when McGonagall offered me the position I accepted" George explained. "Congratulations" Harry said. He was glad that they were having George as teacher rather than some old ministry has-been like Umbridge. If she'd been appointed as a teacher again then he wouldn't return to Hogwarts. "Do you know who the new Muggle Studies teacher is?" Hermione asked. "You remember Penelope Clearwater, Percy's old girlfriend?" George asked. They nodded. "She's been chosen to teach Muggle Studies" he replied. Their conversation was interrupted by the Arthur Weasley apparating into the room with a loud crack. He didn't seem surprised to see Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny there. "I thought I'd find you four here" he said. "Hey Dad" said the three Weasley's in unison. "I'm not here on a social call. I don't know if you know already but Kingsley Shacklebolt has been appointed the new Minister for Magic. It's rather good; he is a much better Minister than Fudge or Scrimgeour. Anyway, he wants a meeting with you Harry" Mr Weasley said. "Why does he want to meet with me?" Harry asked. Mr Weasley shrugged his shoulders. "I've got no idea, I'm just the messenger. I've got to get going, busy schedule" Mr Weasley said, disappearing with another loud crack. "We'd better go" Harry said. He took Ginny's hand and turned on the spot.