Disclaimer: I do not own any characters in this story.
Box on the Stool
During the summer after the battle at Hogwarts, peace was settling back into the wizarding world. The day after Harry Potter's 18th birthday, he invited Ron, Hermione and of course, Ginny back to 12 Grimmauld place for dinner. After dinner they retired to the living room, for Harry wanted them to witness something.
"Kreacher!" Harry called quietly, and the diminutive house elf appeared with a crack beside him.
"Kreacher…" Harry started, "I am going to say a few things, and ask you some questions and I would like to know your honest answers. During the answers you may say anything you wish even if you feel it would hurt mine or anyone in this room's feelings. IF you do say those things I do forbid you to punish yourself, ok?"
"O…OK, Master Potter sir" Kreacher replied.
"Please Kreacher, not Master, not sir, just call me Harry ok?" Harry asked.
"Now Kreacher, when we first came here 3 years ago, you did not like us here, you called us blood traitors and mudbloods, do you still feel the same way today? Remember you must ask honestly and you may not punish yourself" Harry queried Kreacher.
"Mas..Harry" Kreacher started "Kreacher is sorry for those words, and" he looked at the locket hanging around his neck "he knows that you who finished what Master Regulus started is honorable and he is proud to serve you and your friends, Kreacher knows now that blood is not what matters." and tears formed in his eyes.
"Kreacher," Harry asked "if you could be free would you want to be free like Dobby? I am not dissatisfied with you, Kreacher, I ask this because I respect you. You have been good to me in the last few months and you leading the Hogwarts house-elves during the battle never got rewarded enough."
"SI..Harry" Kreacher looked up with wide eyes "No si..Harry. I want to serve you till I die."
"OK Kreacher, " Harry said quietly, "But I am going to give you the choice." Harry pulled out a box, and sat it on a stool. "In this box is a vest. If you ever desire to be free, touch the box and say open, the box will open and my voice will tell you to take it, once you remove the vest you will be free. There are also 5 galleons which will be considered your pay for that time. Understand Kreacher, I do this because I respect you, and all house-elves. Dobby gave his life for me and for that I make this offer. Do you understand my offer?"
Kreacher nodded and backed away from the stool.
"That is all Kreacher, please take the evening off and enjoy yourself." Harry said.
Once Kreacher was gone, Hermione ran over to Harry and hugged him. "Thank you Harry."
"That's the best I could do, but you know the little guy is growing on me."
Harry sat the stool in a corner with the box on top and hung a picture of Dobby over it. Each day passed and the box went unopened. Days became weeks, weeks to months, and months to years. Harry and Ginny married and they built a home in Godric's Hollow. Kreacher left Grimmuald place and came and took care of them and their house. The box on the stool followed and sat in the corner of the living room. Years passed, children were born and raised, Kreacher was as faithful and dedicated a house-elf you could ever ask for.
One day when Harry entered the living room, something was different, it took a few seconds to see that the box on top of the stool had been opened and when he looked, the vest was gone. Harry went to the little room that had been made into Kreacher's bedroom and lying on the bed dressed in the vest, with Regulus' locket around his neck was Kreacher, he was dead. In his hand he held the 5 galleons.
Harry went to get Ginny, who contacted Ron and Hermione. Hogwarts was contacted and the children from the families were sent home by floo. When they all had gathered, Harry picked up the body of the house-elf and everyone disapparated to Shell Cottage, shovels were conjured and each of the Wizards and Witches, young and old who had come to love the little elf, helped dig the grave next to another house elf who had been loved. When the grave was done, Harry lowered Kreacher's body into it and with his wand filled in the grave. Harry then found a stone to be the marker and carved
"HERE LIES KREACHER WHO DIED A FREE ELF"
Tears flowed freely, stories of a happy, loving elf were shared and finally they went home with a little something missing in their hearts.