A/N: Another one-shot, which is--shockingly enough--neither angst nor humor. It's just a bit of...closure, I suppose, for the Wizarding World. Post-Final Battle. I suppose I should warn of character death, because there are like thirty ghosts here, so be warned that there are quite a few characters who died. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: How many times must I admit that it's not mine?
In the days after the Final Battle, when the survivors stood in the ruins of the Great Hall, when the survivors buried their dead and tried to pick up the pieces, it seemed as though nothing would ever be the same.
It seemed as though their world, their beautiful, treasured world, had been shattered. The world was in a hundred crystalline, bloodied pieces beneath their feet, and every time they tried to pick up, to move on, those sharp edges cut another gaping wound into their hearts.
They were bleeding on the inside, where no one could see it, where they drowned in blood and sorrow and pain.
And they placed the bricks of their grand school, one on top of the other, rebuilding their surroundings but leaving themselves littered across the span of their world. The Great Hall took shape again, shape but no life.
The survivors gathered in that hall, in the center of their universe, and watched as the names of the fallen were inscribed onto a vast obsidian monument, silver names etched into the smooth black stone.
Harry Potter—the Boy-Who-Lived, the Man-Who-Vanquished, and the man who had lost so much—stood in front of the monument, facing his fellow survivors. "These names are more than just the ones we lost." He said, in a soft, rough voice. "These names belong to our heroes. The ones who died so that we could live, and our children could live. They fought and they died, they sacrificed, so that we could take our world back."
But the hearts did not heal, and the tears did not subside, and Harry Potter felt his own tattered heart breaking a little more as he scanned the crowd and did not see the faces of those he most desired.
The doors to the Great Hall burst open, pushed by an unseen force, by a strong, cold wind that swept through the hall. It carried a melody, flute-like and haunting, and on its trail came the ghosts.
Hogwarts was no stranger to ghosts, but this was different. The resident ghosts floated in, solemn and silent. And in their wake came the ghosts of those who had been lost.
Harry's throat closed and a choked, ragged sound emerged when he saw the four specters leading the rest. They floated towards him, smiling softly. "Hello Harry."
"Mum, Dad." He choked out. "Sirius, Remus."
And then he looked behind them, to the hundreds of other ghosts that filtered into the hall. "Professor Dumbledore." He sucked in a sharp breath. "Ron."
The image of his best friend smiled and waved at him, then turned to Hermione, who was stiff and staring with wide eyes at him. She looked on the verge of tears, her frame shaking. "'Mione."
She gave a fluttering sob and collapsed to the floor, breaking into harsh, wracking sobs.
"I don't…I don't understand." Harry rasped out, looking at his parents and his godfathers. Lily reached out a pale, delicate hand and touched the side of his face. It was like a touch of ice water, shocking and cold, but he leaned into it. "Mum."
"We've been granted this chance, Harry." James said, smiling down at his son. "All those who have fallen have this one opportunity to say goodbye. It helps to ease the sorrow." Harry blinked back tears.
"The world needs repairs, Harry. It's been torn and broken and it seems beyond repair. It seems like everything worth living for has died, right?" Mutely he nodded his head. Remus smiled, soft and bittersweet.
"But there is so much to live for. And you, the survivors, have to rebuild. You have to live, because that's what we fought for, what we died for." Sirius said. "You've made us so proud, kiddo."
"And now, dear, you have to live. You have to live without this overwhelming sorrow, without this crushing grief, without this anger towards fate and destiny." Lily smiled through her tears. "Look." with a wave of her hand she encompassed the whole room, filled with ghosts and their loved ones. He looked, and he saw a laughing and smiling Fred standing before his mother, saw Amelia Bones before her niece, Dumbledore in front of McGonagall, Seamus Finnigan in front of Dean Thomas, Padma Patil in front of her twin, Severus Snape in front of Draco Malfoy. It was the same scene throughout the hall.
He looked towards Hermione, where he saw Ron kneeling in front of her, whispering something. He saw her mouth move, saw her shake her head 'no', saw him touch the side of her cheek and nod.
"We love you, Harry." His eyes snapped back to his mother.
"Live for us, son." James said.
"Don't let that firecracker of a girl get away from you either." Sirius said, with a nod towards Ginny. Harry blushed despite himself, and grinned when Remus elbowed Sirius.
"And make this world everything that it can be." Remus said, with a grin.
Lily pressed her lips to her son's forehead and he shivered at the ice. "We'll be waiting when it's your time, my love. But we're never really gone."
There was a chorus of I love you's that rang throughout the hall, in a hundred different voices, before the ghosts turned to blinding light and vanished.
Harry, feeling drained and weary and better than he had felt in weeks, made his way to Hermione, helping her to her feet. She was still crying, but there was a faint smile on her lips. "What did he say?"
She looked at him with red-rimmed eyes. "He told me not to be afraid. He told me to be happy. He told me he loved me—," her voice caught, "and he told me to fall in love again, get married, and name one of my sons after him." She gave a choked sob-laugh.
"That's just like him."
Harry Potter faced the tear-stricken faces of the survivor and pointed at the black monument behind him. "They're waiting for us. Waiting for us to do our job and rebuild and live. Because we fought for freedom and we fought for our lives, and now it is time to live them. And when we've done that, they are waiting."