Chapter Thirty: In Which The Nightmares Finally End
On the morning of the memorial service for the fallen, which was to be held the day before the delayed start of the second term, a statue appeared in the courtyard of the castle.
Harry made no effort to deny his part in it, but he also made no effort to advertise his role.
It was a statue of stone. It showed a figure lying prone on the ground, beautiful in death. With the dragon-tooth earring and long hair, and the scarred face, it was obviously an effigy of Bill Weasley. Over him, her feet straddling his body, was the figure of Fleur Delacour, beautiful in her determination and wrath. One hand held her wand, the left was palm up. From the center of her palm flickered an everlasting flame.
Around the large base of the statue were carved the names of all those who had fallen. Nor were the names limited to just fallen wizards. Every fallen muggle involved in the operation against the Death Eaters was listed as well.
The Prime Minister of England, with his security contingent, recovered from his shock at seeing Hogwarts long enough to peer long and hard at the statue. "You're doing?" he asked his host.
The Minister of Magic shook her head. "No. But I would have, had I thought of it."
"Who were they?"
"Heroes who died fighting, just like all of your people." She held out an arm, and Minister Bryant nodded as he hooked his own through it.
"Indeed." The two leaders stepped into the castle.
The walls of the recently repaired Great Hall were draped in wizarding pictures of all those lost. Harry was already there with his wives, sitting in a middle pew surrounded by classmates. Most had avoided the fighting, though a few sixth and seventh years and DA members had fought as well.
And some of them died.
Harry found himself looking at the pictures. He didn't know them all, but he knew enough. Tonks and Lupin's pictures hung side by side, and seemed to be playing tag with each other between their frames. Mad-Eye Moody glowered at everyone with his magic eye. Severus looked on with a blank expression, which for the potions master was tantamount to a grin of sheer joy.
There was Bill and Fleur in their engagement photo, together as they belonged. And next to them was Percy Weasley, who fought with his life to protect the minister. A true Gryffindor in the end.
Ernie McMillan had fought and died. Neville came through with several curse scars, but otherwise was unharmed. But Filius Flitwick did not fare as well. The venerable charms professor died moments before Voldemort entered the room, with a heart-broken Madam Pomphrey and Minerva McGonagall kneeling by his side.
There were more, so many more. Aurors and civilians, ordinary people who at the end decided to stand and fight for what was right. All of them were heroes.
There were also to be honors, of course. At first Harry resisted the idea, but his wives quickly put such nonsense to bed. He had an appointment the following week to receive his Order of Merlin, while the week after that he was going to be presented to the Queen.
But for now, his eyes kept running past the moving images of those who fought and died. He wished for a moment that his parents' images were there, and almost as soon as the thought formed in his head, he felt a tickle in his mind, and a whisper. "As you wish, beloved."
Those gathered to pay their respects stopped in alarm as the wall at the front of the hall began grinding apart, until three wizarding photos appeared. The younger attendees had no idea who they were, but the older ones immediately recognized Sirius Black and James and Lily Potter. Many eyes turned to stare at Harry, but he did not return the looks. Instead, he smiled up at the happy images of his parents.
Draco Malfoy stepped into a quiet common room on the evening of the first day of class. Half of the people there had lost parents in the final battle.
He stopped before their gazes and simply waited.
"Where's Zabini?" Bullstrode asked.
"Dead," Draco said. "He joined the Dark Lord before the final battle."
"You were there?" a fourth year asked.
"They said Harry died."
"How could he?"
"He came back. I'm not sure he can ever die permanently."
One of the few surviving seventh years stood up. "You betrayed the Dark Lord."
Draco lifted his chin. "I honored the Light Lord. I've declared for the Light." He pulled up his sleeve. "Harry removed my mark. Not even Dumbledore could do that."
That made a few of the other students whisper.
"Harry is Hogwarts," Draco said then. "He is the anchor for all the wards. He can hear everything you say and do if he needs to. If you plot to hurt him or any other student, you won't survive the year. You don't have to like him or approve of him, but even the Dark Lord learned to respect him in the end. Now, it's getting late. Go to your rooms. I'm declaring an early curfew as prefect until a new Head of House is appointed."
With grumbles but no outright rebellion, the surviving Slytherins got up from their seats and started toward their rooms. When they were gone, Draco collapsed into a nearby couch and stared into the fireplace.
He wasn't even aware of the presence next to him until she spoke. "Draco?"
He turned, surprised to find Astoria Greengrass next to him. Like her sister, she was beautiful enough to steal a man's breath. She was going to turn fifteen next summer, if he remembered. She sat looking at him with concern in her eyes, and her delicate, perfectly formed fingers on his shoulder.
"Daphne told me a little about what you did," she said softly.
Draco shrugged and looked back into the fire. "I didn't do anything except get Hermione hurt. I cost Harry his firstborn."
"You saved her life. And you helped bring Harry back."
"It was not enough."
Those pale fingers reached around his chin and turned his face back. Delicate, strawberry-flavored lips latched onto his. He had kissed before—more, even. Pansy Parkinson's father had firmly believed he could find favor with the wealthy Malfoys through his daughter's sex, and she gave it freely.
But this was not a wanton kiss. It was gentle and giving and nothing like Malfoy had ever experienced. He began to wonder if, as their lips parted, this is what Harry meant by power.
Astoria Greengrass had power over him.
"You're the bravest boy in this house," Astoria said, still boring into his eyes with her gaze. "You were willing to die to help somebody. Daphne and the others will never forget that. And neither will I." She kissed him again, this time with greater fervor.
Draco had no choice but to put an arm around her, lest he fall over. "Astoria," he finally began, "you're so…"
She smiled sadly. "I know, young. Too young for you. But I just wanted you to…"
"I was going to say beautiful," Draco whispered. "And yes, you're young, but if there is even a chance that you might want me, I would wait until you're not too young. I'd wait forever, if you needed me to."
They sat, staring deeply into each other's eyes for the longest time, before Astoria grinned. "I reach the age of consent in June," she breathed. "On the Solstice. We always celebrate the old rites."
Draco knew them—he had celebrated with Pansy the previous summer. The ancient fertility rites were most enjoyable, and the magic produced, while classified as dark, usually resulted in a bountiful crop.
"Do you think you father…"
"He would be honored to have a wizard versed in the old ways join our family," Astoria assured him. "It's not like Harry's going to go rutting with Daphne in the middle of a wheat field any time soon."
"I don't know, I've heard stories."
Astoria's laugh was like a bell ringing clearly through the room. She climbed onto top of Draco until she straddled his lap and stared down at him. "You've been my protector this year," she said. "And maybe, just maybe, I could fall in love with you if you tried hard enough."
"Tell me what to do," Draco said. "And I'll do it. For you."
"And that's exactly what I mean," she said.
"How's he doing?" Daphne asked as she sank into their couch.
Hermione sipped a shot of firewhiskey in the hopes the alcohol would help her sleep. "Ginny, Sue and Luna are with him now," she said. "He'll fall asleep long enough for the nightmares to start, then he'll wake up trembling and crying again. As long as at least one of us is there for him to hold, he's okay."
"Has he, well, shagged anyone yet?"
"I don't think he's even been erect since he died." Hermione knew how strange that sounded. She downed the rest of the shot in a single gulp.
Daphne scooted over until she sat beside her sister wife and placed a hand on her stomach. "And how are you doing, Hermione?"
Hermione didn't know if what came out was a sob or a hiccup. "Okay, I guess," she said. "Guess Hufflepuff will end up being the first born." She reached up and rubbed tiredly at her eyes, and was surprised to find her hand wet.
She looked at Daphne, and she could see her own grief reflected in the Slytherin beauty. "I…" she started to say.
Without a word, Daphne took Hermione's shoulders, and pulled the older girl into a hug. Whatever barriers Hermione thought she had crumbled before this singular act of kindness, and she cried into her sister wife's shoulder.
Later that night, after they finally went to bed, Hermione dreamed of golden light and beautiful warmth. Of gentle fingers caressing her face and her body.
Realization came slowly that it wasn't a dream, and she opened her eyes to see Susan and Ginny gently removing her knickers, while Daphne and Luna were propping her up to remove her nightgown.
Harry stood at the foot of her bed, swaying in obvious exhaustion. Yet his eyes held that same gleam they saw when he was reborn as he stared down at her.
"What are you doing?" Hermione asked. There was no panic in her voice, just curiosity laced with acceptance. This was her family. She loved them as much as they loved her.
Harry's voice was hoarse from screaming during his nightmares for the past few days. Nightmares that kept them all up. But his words were gentle. "You're not whole," he whispered. "Your soul was hurt."
She sat up, intimately aware of the four separate hands gently caressing her back. "You're hurt as well."
He climbed onto the bed and sat cross-legged from her. "As I was walking out to get you," he spoke softly, "I had a vision. It was a vision of Salazar Slytherin, before Godric rescued him from the Moors at Cardoba. He was a good man once. He married a half-Moor, the illegitimate daughter of a Berber lord. They ran away to be together, and they had a son. A Christian raiding party found her. She was black, and so they did to her what they always did to the Moors. They killed Salazar's wife and son. And when he found them, his soul broke apart. And it never came back together. All the evil he did later in his life was because the goodness in him died that day."
With strong arms and an undeniable magic, Harry lifted Hermione onto his lap. She could feel his manhood, half-limp, run against her sex. "I think he sent me that vision, Hermione, because he knew what I was going to find." His voice cracked, and through her own tears she could see moisture running down his cheeks. "He was trying to warn me about what would happen if I let our loss destroy my soul."
She felt him swelling against her, and without hesitation, to the approving looks of her sister wives, she reached down and took his penis in her hand, and guided it the lips of her sex.
Still, Harry's eyes never left hers. "But I realized that I had something Salazar lost and could never get back. I have all of you. If I were to lose you, I don't know if I could live, but together, we can overcome anything. I love you, Hermione. And I swear on my magic and by my love for you that we will have our child, and he will grow up to be as brilliant and brave as his mother." He leaned forward until their tear-lined lips came together. As he slipped past her sex and slid deep into her body, he whispered into her ear, "Let me make you whole again."
She rocked as the familiar, loving magic welled around them—the magic that cemented their marriages and bound them to this incredible man. As his shaft sunk deep within her, it seemed to push away the memory of pain and loss, until the only thing filling her body was him, and the only thing filling her soul was the magic he gave her.
"I love you, Hermione," Harry said.
"I love you, Harry," she said back, weeping now with joy as their rocking gained momentum and strength. She felt other lips and hands on her body, and gave herself to the sensation just as surely as she did during the Light Horcrux ceremony.
In time she felt him thrust hard and deep within her as his breath caught, and she felt the waves of pleasure roll through her. And with just a tingle in the back of her head, she felt a familiar voice whisper, "And so it begins again. Congratulations on your son, Lady Gryffindor."
She knew for a certainty that Hogwarts was right. She clasped Harry tightly, weeping still with joy and life. Then Ginny was there, looking at the couple with longing eyes.
"Yes," Hermione said at the unasked question. She turned to Harry. "We've all been hurt. It's time for all of us to be whole again."
"Yes," he agreed in a husky voice. As Hermione slid off, Ginny took her place, and one by one, sometimes by two, Harry and his wives made passionate love through the rest of the night. And when he finally fell asleep, surrounded by the women he loved, Harry slept deeply with no more nightmares or tears.