Chapter Fifty Five: Finale
September First approached quickly. Much like the grand reopening of Gringotts, the first year of Hogwarts in the new era was a landmark occasion. The first year that students would not be placed in one of the four houses, where they would be labeled by what the traits were for that house for the rest of their life, that they would not limit the friends they would make. While more than a few stepped outside the boundaries of their houses to make friends, the truth was that the vast majority did not. Now there would be no problem. People would be judged on who they were, rather than what house they were in. It was the next step towards the brand new era that had been slowly taking shape around the world. The Great Hall was buzzing, some a bit uneasy, as the four House tables were no longer in place, replaced by two larger tables, in addition to the Head table. This pretty much forced the issue that former Gryffindors, Slytherins, Ravenclaws, and Hufflepuffs would have to sit together. People who were in the former Gryffindor and Slytherin houses gave each other uneasy looks as they felt themselves sitting in close proximity with each other. Some wondered what Potter was thinking. They would try to make this work but for the Slytherins, this would never work because of the Gryffindors. For the Gryffindors, this would never work because of the Slytherins.
Outside of the Great Hall, Harry and Ginny stood outside, enjoying a few moments today, before Harry had go enter the Great Hall. The country wide investigations were nearly reaching completion, thanks to the tireless work of everyone involved with them. Several potential problems were discovered and were dealt with accordingly. It was alarming how many people had views that were contrary to the steps forward that needed to be taken and how many were content with the things were. However, there was a silver lining to the issue, as there was a decent amount of people who were optimistic about changes being made. They just never thought it would happen and Harry could hardly fault them for that. S
The Ministry of Magic was nearly ready to be reestablished, after several of the outdated and quite frankly ridiculous laws were thrown out. They would replaced by newer laws that would govern the Wizarding World more appropriately. As for the matter of declaring a new Minister of Magic, that was a bridge they would cross when the time came. Harry thought he would have it decided by a democratic election which he was certain would be something that would make several purebloods spin in their graves. Of course, he also was in full realization that any candidate he endorsed would win the Minister of Magic spot in a landside. At this point, if he said dragon dung was high in fiber, several people would be changing their diets.
"So it's almost time," said Ginny, break the silence as she looked at Harry. "Just one more step to everything."
"I know, it just seems odd that almost three years ago, I was a naïve kid who blindly trusted everyone now…" stated Harry.
"You have pretty much every witch and wizard in the palm of your hand?" suggested Ginny and Harry responded a nod. "Well you worked hard, harder than anyone else would have in your position and now that hard work is going to pay off. I don't think there is a day that has gone by in the last month where the Daily Prophet has not talked about some reform that you had personally arranged to better the Wizarding World."
"Well to be fair, Mum made sure that they wrote about the positives, I'm sure if people dug deep enough, they might find something to complain about, but those reporters may have to retire just like Rita Skeeter did," said Harry as he exchanged a knowing smile with Ginny. "I'm just glad most of the hard work is done. Most but not all, but our little demonstration in Diagon Alley really opened up a few eyes I think…"
"Yes, dissent has been down since that time in Diagon Alley," remarked Ginny as she stood close to Harry. "A few complaints, but really, those people will always complain and do nothing more than just complain. It's not like anyone will take their ranting seriously some of these people that were complaining."
"There will be people who complain and be a disruptive influence, it's just a matter of determining who is a serious threat and who is just blowing hot air out of their mouth," said Harry seriously. "I'm glad these investigations are other and we see where everyone stands. That will make our lives a lot easier but it is not over."
"No, I suppose not but what we've done so far, it's helped change everything, even though we had to do some things that people might frown upon at best and be absolutely appalled by at worst, but it was all necessary, nothing more, nothing less," said Ginny, as she leaned forward and kissed Harry. Harry held her tight, as they gazed in each other's eyes. They could do this forever and would have plenty of time to do so, once everything settled down. There were many capable hands in place to carry their share of the slack, so Harry and Ginny could have some breathing room. Still they would have the final say and their opinions would take high priority over most everything. Ginny slowly broke apart, from Harry. "Next year, which means fresh blood that could join the Defense Association and they can learn from the best."
"Yes, they will always be my elite force, the Ministry Aurors are the official force in maintaining the peace, but I enjoy having a group that can work from the shadows, enforcing things, because the restrictions for Aurors are going to remain strict, because it is a tough job," admitted Harry as he remembered the restrictions, one of the few things that the old guard had gotten right. There were only a couple of changes to be made but other than that everything was kept in place."I would never want to be one."
"And you never have to be one, with all of the people who are holding up the fight," said Ginny. "I believe your speech is coming up in a few minutes, so the sooner you can get out there, the sooner the feast can be start and the sooner the feast starts, the sooner we can spend even more time alone."
"You make a very compelling argument, Ginny," said Harry as he walked out, thinking about how they would be married soon enough, but it was the matter of waiting for the right time for everything to settle down. As Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Harry had the power to marry them at any time with Ginny's consent, but it was not quite time. Perhaps in a few months time but right now it was just the matter of making it official. In their minds, they already were." I'll see you in a little bit then, the rest of the D.A. looks ready, I think Luna secured you a seat as well."
Ginny nodded, before they exchanged an all too brief case, as Harry turned to walk out one door, where Ginny walked the other way, to sit right beside Luna, with an empty seat awaiting Harry from when he got there. He looked outside into the Great Hall, standing beside the table, seeing McGonagall give the usual speech. Quidditch tryouts would happen soon, the Forbidden Forest was in fact Forbidden. Filch had forbidden a lot of items as well and magic was not allowed in the hallways. The only thing that was not dealt with was the new and improved point system, now that the houses were abolished. That would be something that Harry would deal with in a matter of moments. He watched as McGonagall wrapped up the speech and turned to Harry.
"Now while some traditions remain in place at Hogwarts, others have been decided to be outdated and there will be many changes this year for you returning students, I trust that there will be a long process adjusting, but I hope that you do Hogwarts proud and do your best to help the transition process go as smoothly as possible," concluded McGonagall as she turned slightly, as she watched Harry walk towards the table. "I'm sure this individual will tell you about this new process in running Hogwarts and the changes that will begin to take place this year. The Defensive Magic Teacher and the Hogwarts High Inquisitor, Professor Harry Potter."
There were a loud round of cheers, mostly coming from the Defense Association but the reception from other parts of the school were also loud. A few people sat, with sour, disgusted looks on their face, but slowly began to clap, not to be singled out and being branded as outcasts. The teachers clapped respectively as Harry stood there. He waited for the applause and the noise in the Great Hall to die down but it took some time. More time than he could imagined. It was the type of reaction that one would respect for the defeater of Lord Voldemort and the person who saved the Wizarding World from utter ruin by taking control of Gringotts. As far as Harry knew, many people had long since stopped thinking about exactly how that was accomplished and that was perfectly fine with him. The applause continued for some time and it was a rather slow process that died down over a period of many minutes.
Once the Great Hall had gone mostly silent, Harry took a deep breath as he looked out at all of the faces, many of them intrigued with what he had to say.
"Thank you all and welcome to another year at Hogwarts," responded Harry with a pause. "Now, I'll try to make this as brief as possible, as I know some of you are hungry and want to get down to eating."
The students of Hogwarts laughed at that one and even some of the teachers smiled, before Harry continued his speech.
"Now we begin a new year at Hogwarts, in more ways then one, I see many new faces here and I welcome you, I hope the next seven years are filled with nothing but memorable experiences, as you are the first batch of individuals to begin their education in this new Wizarding World," responded Harry. "And the world has changed for the better, the defeat of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters being disbanded has allowed us to step out into the light. There may be steps that are yet to be taken, but right now the worst has happened. Things can only improve from that dark time and improve we will, starting right here at Hogwarts."
Harry paused, mostly to give him some time to collect a few last second thoughts but also to give everyone a chance to take in what he said.
"As you no doubt know by now, the former Hogwarts house system is gone, I heard the Sorting Hat was particularly pleased with that, he can finally enjoy a nice overdue retirement, a thousand years of sorting eleven year olds can get on your nerves after a time," remarked Harry in an off handed voice. "Nevertheless, there was a consensus that the Hogwarts House System, while it worked for years, no longer worked and made things worse. Tensions were high, especially due to a senseless feud between two certain houses who will remain nameless. Yes, I admit, when I was younger and more naïve, I took part in that feud. That was in the past and while our mistakes from the past should be remembered, we should also attempt to move on. And moving on we will. None of you are Hufflepuffs. None of you are Ravenclaws. None of you are Gryffindors and none of you are Slytherins. No matter where you were formally placed, a year ago, two years ago, or whenever, you're one thing and I want you to remember this. The peace will be kept in the school, regardless of your former house affiliations. I can see some uneasy looks as you're placed in close proximity to certain students. That's done and I encourage you to move on. Old wounds may heal slowly, but it's something that has to be done for us to fully grow as a society. With a little maturity and a little tolerance of individuals with different backgrounds and opinions then us, it will be a smooth transition. Should you make it hard, well you're only doing yourself a disservice."
Harry paused, as many people clapped, some rather forced. The Defense Association Army lead the charge, clapping the loudest and their cheers echoed throughout the Great Hall. Still he hoped people would heed his words, there would be some consequences for those who had tried to stir up trouble due to past house affiliations.
"That brings us to the new and improved house point system," stated Harry calmly. "Now I'm sure Professor McGonagall has already told you about the Quidditch teams this year, where you're going to play for fun, rather than for the glory of your houses. I hope when the teams are made up, there are a variety of students from each team. Otherwise, we may have to revoke the privileges of people who try and make this an issue of their former houses and shun people from playing. But that's another matter entirely, right now the house point system. I felt it should be kept into place for another year or so to see what happens, but it may be abolished all together. You will be awarded points individually and those with a certain amount of points get certain benefits. It is still being ironed out as we speak, but additional trips to Hogsmeade are arranged for those who have a certain number of points. Those who lose all of their points will lose the privilege of going to Hogsmeade at all."
That was not a popular announcement but there was little more that could be done but grumbling.
"You gain points by showing unity to this new system and helping make it a smooth transition, you lose points for the usual misbehavior issues but more points can be lost by treating others unfairly because of what they are," said Harry calmly. "The new rules about using certain words to describe people of Muggleborn descent apply and the same also applies for calling people evil just because they were in a certain house in the past. If I, any of the prefects, or the teachers here it, there will be punishments given and points taken away. You all start with two hundred and fifty points, whether you keep them steady, expand them, or lose them is up to you. Only you can choose to move forward or be left in a past that has proven to not work. If you have any concerns or suggestions, my office door is always open but do think carefully. If it is any complaints about the house system being abolished, I will not be very patient in hearing you out."
Harry gave a look that quite plainly said "things have changed, my allies and I are in control, deal with it" but most of the people in the Great Hall waited for any further words. Whether it was because they liked Harry or not was irrelevant, the fact was they were listening.
"One final thing and I'll let you eat the wonderful food prepared for this opening feast, first years will have an orientation tomorrow morning in the Great Hall after Breakfast, where all of their questions will be answered and maps of the school will be given out, I think we can all agree that was something we all wished we could have in the past, given how lost we were in these first few weeks," said Harry and there was laughter by several people. They did agree, having a map would save them a lot of grief. "Well that's it for me. With Voldemort done, the world can change and the changes will happen. Many more adventures may wait in the future, but those are bridges we will cross when the time has come. Until then, I wish you all the best of luck. Enjoy the feast. Thank you."
Well that's all folks. The end has come. Of course we know who Harry was really talking to in those last few sentences. :)
Well Harry, I intended for him to get a little caught up in the power always, Ginny as well. Still, they both believe what they are doing is for everyone's own good. Which technically is a mark of many good villains, they believe their actions are justified, no matter what. Still they were heroes to many and villains to some. You could make a similar argument for Voldemort as well, but to a lesser extent.
Voldemort, I mentioned I thought the story was pretty much over with him the last chapter and thus these last five chapters lacked something. I still feel I was right. He was the only person who could give Harry a challenge and with Voldemort, the challenge is pretty much gone. Until someone new rises up in fifteen or twenty years or whatever, Harry and Ginny will run things (mostly from the shadows, but their influence will be felt), pretty much unchallenged. Of course, that's just my theory on what the next stage of evolution would be.
In a way, these final five chapters could be considered an extremely extended epilogue and that makes me feel better about their purpose in that way. Your perspective may very.
As for any sequels, highly unlikely, but never say never. Still, don't hold your breath. Really, don't hold your breath. It's not good for you. As for future projects of mine, well, it will be a bit. Maybe after a few weeks I'll really want to write but right now, I'm ready for a nice overdue break.
Okay that's it. Seriously, I'm done writing this story. I mean it, scram you pesky kids. Get off my lawn before I call the cops. :)