"Did I hear that right?" Hermione said. The whole great hall was straining to hear what would happen next. The air was still, sweltering hot under the bright blue ceiling. Sound drifted in through the open doors at the other side of the hall. Ron put down his fork and stood up next to Harry.
"Nice joke Malfoy, but criminals can't legally join the Auror office. What do you really want?" He growled. Draco gulped down the lump rising in his throat. The day seemed awfully hot for a June morning.
"Erm, well I thought that it was time for me to make some changes Potter. Sometimes even I can humble myself." Draco said tentatively. His speech still retained some of it's pompousness. Harry still wasn't convinced that Draco would want to become law enforcement.
"Unfortunately Draco, very few wizards change for the better. I don't think you're one of those few. Maybe you're not on the bad side anymore, but there has to be something in this for you. So do you mind telling me what that reason is?" Harry glared at Malfoy. It was impossible that Draco might have changed his colors completely in a few short hours. Maybe terror had taken the pure evil out of him, but there was always something in it for Draco.
Draco took a step back. "So I guess I'm not going to get any advice? Or is that just it? There is nothing out there for me if you have anything to do with it? Famous, merciless Potter. That's what you should be known as." There air in the room seemed to get thicker. Malfoy had just said the wrong thing. A few of the people in the hall stepped forward, threatening looks on their faces. Harry looked around and shook his head at them.
"Malfoy, do you really want to do this here? In front of everyone? Just go home. And you know what, I will give you some advice. Go back to Hogwarts next year. You'll be just as hated here as anywhere else." With that he turned around and sat back down. Ron stayed standing for a moment before giving Malfoy a dismissive nod and glare and sitting with Harry. Draco took a deep breath then walked away, the eyes of everyone in the great hall on him. He crossed to the door and disappeared out of sight.
"Seriously though, was that a joke?' Ron said, breaking the spell of silence in the hall. "He couldn't have been serious. He knows that he would never be allowed to be a dark wizard catcher; he'd have to turn himself in!" Hermione laughed darkly.
"That may be Ron, but there is definitely something going on with Draco. His mum and dad already left. Why did he stay? It can't have been to ask Harry a question like that." Hermione said, staring at her empty plate, her brows knitted together.
"What Hermione, you think he's up to something, do you? I thought we were done with all the Malfoy drama!" Harry said, exasperated. "Plus, you're the one that always say that we can't assume Malfoy's up to something."
"Well you saw what just happened! He was acting strange. Malfoy never acts humble in any way!" She stood up. "I'm going to go outside. Meet me out there, we need to talk about our plans for this summer." She walked off, leaving Harry and Ron.
"She must really think he's up to no good. Hermione never gets mad…" Ron said, piling some kippers onto his plate. Harry raised an eyebrow.
"You've got to be kidding. Hermione has a bit of a temper. You do remember when she attacked you, don't you?"
"Well…never mind Harry. Have you thought about your plans for this summer?" Ron steered the conversation away from Hermione. "I was hoping we could take it easy. Maybe stay home and just…do nothing really."
"Ha! I wish. I can just imagine all the things I'll have to do. I was hoping we could help out here at Hogwarts, restoring things, making things right. It's just," Harry sighed. "Before the battle, there was enough stuff from the media coming out, interviews, lies, whatever. Now they'll follow me everywhere, wanting to know every little detail."
Ron shook his head sympathetically. He out down his fork and pushed his plate away.
"All I know is that the last thing we want to do is get Hermione angrier by making her wait. Let's go." He swung his legs over the bench and Harry followed him.
Outside, the sky was the same shade blue as the ceiling of the great hall. Lazy clouds floated overhead, pushed by a gentle breeze. The air was thick and heavy, typical for a summer's day. The grounds were now clear of any signs of the battle, and many people were enjoying the day. It was strange to think things could be okay, but as Ginny had said, there would be time to mourn later.
They spotted Hermione standing by the water's edge next to George. His arms were crossed, and he was looking down into the calm waters.
"It's okay, it's okay" Hermione was saying, her hand on his shoulder. George shook her hand off his shoulder.
"I've got to go Hermione. I'm opening up the shop for this weekend. I have a feeling it's going to be pretty busy now." He turned from the lake and rubbed at his eyes. He saw Harry and Ron coming towards him and nodded before striding off towards the tall gates to Hogsmeade. Hermione turned and saw them.
"Hey," She said, biting her lip. "I came out here and saw him, and it was just…I don't think I've ever seen George crying. Not even when Dumbledore died." She traced a circle with the toe of her shoe in the dirt. Ron put a hand on her shoulder.
"I know Hermione. But George is strong. By the end of the month he'll have a girlfriend or something to make him feel better. Unless he really gets married to the shop by then." He shook his head. "Anyway, I thought you wanted to talk about out summer plans?" He asked expectantly.
"Yeah Hermione. Or would you rather just tell us what we're doing?" Harry joked. Hermione's eyes flashed.
"As a matter of fact Harry, I have no plans so far. I would have liked to help out here, but honestly, look around. There won't be anything left to do pretty soon. We can help for the time being but there will be quite a bit of free time left."
Harry sighed. Although he already knew it wouldn't take long to fix Hogwarts, he had still hoped it could be his big project. Hermione cut into his musings.
"Although I'd rather not bring it up…we have a fair few funerals we have to attend this summer." Ron stepped back a bit and looked up towards the sky. He was obviously not looking forward to this conversation.
"actually, I had a question Hermione. What do you think will be done with Voldemort? It's not like he'll be buried…will he?" Harry said. Hermione's eyebrows knitted for a second.
"I have no idea Harry, though I'd love to see him get buried with his father's family. It would serve him right." Hermione's voice got very low towards the end. "I just know he won't though. His family was buried in a Christian cemetery, right? No matter what we believe, he won't be buried in hallowed ground."
Harry walked towards the water, and kicked at a wave. The three just stood there for a moment, no one speaking. After a few minutes, They heard someone walking towards them.
"Hello, Harry, Hermione, Ron." Kingsley's deep voice boomed out there names. "Harry, I've been meaning to speak with you. I just got in from the ministry, and there's some questions we needed to ask you." Harry was expecting this. There were always some questions. But as it was Kingsley, he just said, "Go ahead."
"What was the mission Dumbledore had you go on last year?" Kingsley asked cautiously.
Harry's eyes widened. He looked at Ron and Hermione, who both looked at each other and exchanged a look. Hermione turned back to him and gave him a slight nod.
"Well Kingsley, you were there when I fought him, right?" Kingsley nodded. "Did you hear when I said 'All the Horcruxes are gone'?" Kingsley nodded again. Harry took a deep breath before continuing.
"When Tom Riddle was a student at Hogwarts, he learned of something called a Horcrux." Kingsley raised an eyebrow.
"A Horcrux is an object you conceal a piece of your soul in," Hermione said. "You make one by tearing your soul apart. To rip your soul, you have to murder. Then, with an incantation, you put the piece of your soul in the object. Even if your mortal body dies, your soul isn't harmed. When you have a Horcrux though, you can come back to life. The point of a Horcrux is to…well, if you have a Horcrux, and it remains undamaged, you can never truly die." Kingsley was taken aback. He opened his mouth to speak, but Harry began first.
"Well, Voldemort thought that one wasn't enough. He made seven." At this, the look on Kingsley's face went beyond horrified. He looked sick. "His first was made from the diary I destroyed in my second year. He killed his father and grandparents to create it. Voldemort always thought he was above all other though, so although he killed many, he only made Horcruxes after important murders. He was going to make his last after he killed me."
Kingsley took a deep breath and steeled himself for the next part. Harry paced back and forth a bit.
"He had made 5 at that point, out of the most important objects to him. His diary, Hufflepuffs cup, The lost Diadem of Ravenclaw, his Grandfathers ring, and Slytherins locket. He wanted one from each of the Hogwarts founders. Dumbledore told me that there's only one artifact from Gryffindor-the sword. Voldemort couldn't get that. Eventually, he decided to make Nagini the final Horcrux. We were searching for the Horcruxes all summer Kingsley. We found all of them before we came to Hogwarts, everything except for the diadem and the snake. We found the diadem, and later Neville killed the snake."
"Whooo…and Dumbledore told you to do all this?" Kingsley asked, an eyebrow raised.
"Yes, before he died. Kingsley…I'd rather tell you this before the media gets a hold of it. I've already told Ron and Hermione. I was technically Voldemort's seventh Horcrux." He looked to see Kingsley's reaction, fearing the worst. Instead he looked up to see Kingsley shrugging.
"It makes sense Harry. You were uncannily like him. But…that part, the part of you that was him is gone now?" Harry nodded once. Kingsley gulped down a lump in his throat.
"Good then. I am also supposed to ask you what happened in the forest. Before they came out saying you were dead."
"I went in there, and Voldemort pointed his wand at me. I could barely hear the Avada Kedavra over the whoosh of the spell. And then," Harry hesitated. He hadn't even told Ron and Hermione about Dumbledore. "Then I was out of it for a few minutes. Not really dead, but not really here. He sent Narcissa Malfoy to see if I was really dead. She told them I was in exchange for the information that Draco was still alive. Then, he crucioed me-" Kingsley winced. "And forced Hagrid to carry me out. And you know from there." Harry let out his breath slowly. Kingsley nodded.
"Thank you Harry. That had to have been hard. I'll let you know if I need anything else. Just know you can come to me whenever you need."
"I had a question for you actually," Harry said, turning to face the glassy waters of the lake again. "What is going to be done with Voldemort's body now?"
Kingsley just stood there for a moment. He shook his head slowly.
"What do you mean Harry?" Kingsley seemed confused. Harry was even more so confused at this response.
"It's pretty straight forward Kingsley. What is the ministry planning on doing with Voldemort's body? They're not planning on burying it anywhere, are they?" Harry asked, one eyebrow raised.
"Oh Harry…you haven't heard?" Kingsley looked up at the sky. He took a step closer to Harry. "Last night, after you went up to bed…well, some very bereaved family took his body into the forbidden forest and set it on fire. There really is no body anymore." Hermione gasped and put a hand to her mouth. Ron' eyes went wide.
"Really? Who did it?" Ron asked. Kingsley raised an eyebrow. "Not that it really matters, I just want to know."
"It was a few people, not just one family. Names are unknown at this point, but I don't expect they'll be arrested, or brought to trial even." Kingsley said, turning away. "Well, if there's nothing else, I have to get back to the ministry. We're doing a quick swearing in ceremony then the trials start." He sighed. "we still have so much to do."
He walked away the same way George had, his shoulders straight. If anyone would be a fair judge, it was Kingsley. They started to walk around the perimeter of the lake quietly. After a minute, Ron gave a quick bark of laughter.
"Ha! Maybe that's what we can do this summer-testify at the trials of death eaters!" He turned to Harry and Hermione with a smile on his face. Hermione looked surprised at his comment and Harry's face was turned away.
"What's wrong guys? It's not only for revenge, you know some innocent people might get accused. Like with Bagman, remember?" Ron sounded hopeful, trying to dig himself out of the hole. Harry was still horrified. Before he could voice his opinion though, Hermione spoke up.
"Hmm…I suppose you're right Ronald. Maybe, if we're against condemning people, we could speak on behalf of those we think ought not to be sent to Azkaban." She turned to Harry. "What do you think?"
"Honestly? I'd rather not have anything to do with the trials, but I guess if we could save a few innocent lives it's worth it. We might not even have to go to the trials. They probably won't start until the school year, and then we'll have to be here." He reassured himself. "Yeah, Kingsley can just ask us our opinion on people. No going into London at all."
"Well, we do have to go to Diagon alley. I don't know about you two, but I got rid of quite a few of my Hogwarts things last summer." Hermione said, smiling. "I can't wait to see how lively it will be! Oh and there's one more thing we need to resolve. Where are we staying this summer?"
Harry bit his lip. He realized, with that simple question, that he had quite a bit to do. Firstly, he wanted to find the Dursleys and work some things out. He found that he didn't want to be cut off completely from any of them. Except aunt Marge maybe, but he could avoid her now. When he told this to Ron and Hermione, they laughed.
"Yes, I suppose you should talk to them. And I think I'm going to find my mum and dad and lift the memory charm. And Ron…well, you should probably do some studying while we're gone. I'm betting you forgot a bit over the last year." Hermione giggled and Ron's eyes flashed, but then he laughed.
"Fine, poke fun at me. But I was hoping we could spend some time at the burrow this summer, like we used to. We may be adults now, but It's been a while since my mother cooked for me and I could really go for some of her pumpkin pasties right now!" Harry and Hermione laughed along with him. They hadn't really found anything to laugh about since the great heist of Gringotts.
"So, do you think they'll find anything to call us out on? I Bet that people aren't going to be too happy about the destruction we've caused all over the country…" Ron said.
"Yeah, those goblins at Gringotts probably didn't have as much fun with it as we did. I'll probably have to pay for that." Harry commented.
"Nah, they can just take it out of the Lestrange's vault…I don't think there are any left. Bellatrix died and Rudolphus wasn't looking very good after the Order was done with him." Ron said. "I think I'll write a book about this, and get rich."
"Still Ron?" Hermione said. "That's all you're thinking of is how to make money?"
"No, I was just thinking I should get to it before Skeeter does, make us sound a little less Psychotic." Ron said quickly. Harry smiled.
"He's got a point there. We did do some pretty crazy things this year. Most of which I am not proud of. Except for getting rid of those Horcruxes. And Ron?" Harry said. "Can you set the record straight about Snape? Who knows what people are thinking about him right now."
"Probably that he never got a chance to wash his hair in his entire life." Said a voice from behind them. Ginny pushed Ron aside a bit and placed her hand in Harry's.
"You slept a bit, didn't you?" Harry said, teasing her.
"It's not my fault! You're the one who started the battle to end all battles if I remember correctly!" She snapped back. Hermione raised an eyebrow and Ron shot Harry a frightened look.
"are you okay Ginny?" Harry asked her. She took her hand from his and crossed her arms.
"What? I was joking!" She said. Then she rolled her eyes. "You guys are just expecting something to go wrong, aren't you?" She took Harry's hand again.
Harry looked across the lake. They were almost to the other side now, on the opposite side from the school. People were leaving the school and walking down the path that led to Hogsmeade, others were milling about, talking.
"So, when I went into the great hall for breakfast, Lee told me what happened with Malfoy." Ginny spoke up. "I swear, the Malfoy's are probably already coming up with another evil scheme. When aren't they?"
"I don't think so. Not yet anyways." Hermione said. "What would they be aiming for now? There's no way that they'll find a way to keep out of prison. At this rate Azkaban should have a cell waiting for Lucius." Ron shook his head.
"I don't agree Hermione. The Malfoys always have a goal in mind, and something that they're aiming for. And most of the time, they get it. Even if no one can see what they're doing, they're doing something. And it's never, ever good." He said. It made sense to Harry. He had never seen any of the Malfoys do anything that wasn't ultimately for their own good.
"Well, we'll come to that problem when it arises. For now, I think I'm going to start planning my trip to Australia." Hermione said, then picked up her pace. "Come on everyone! We have a lot to do, and I think we should get started now!"
Ginny raised an eyebrow. "And why is she going to Australia?" She asked Harry and Ron as they started to walk faster to catch up with Hermione.
"She wants to get her parents back and lift the memory charm," Harry said, and Ginny nodded. "And while we're on the subject, I've got to go to the Dursleys, and get some things settled." Ginny smiled.
"Mind if I come? I'll have nothing to do. He'll," She said glancing at Ron "Follow Hermione to Australia, so I won't even have him around. And I can't start to imagine what mum will be like. I want to not be there for a bit."
"Why not?" Harry said. "Your mum will need someone there. The house will be pretty empty for a bit-"
"Oh no it won't!" Ginny said darkly. "She's offered to take in Little Teddy Lupin. Tonk's mom lost it when she heard…well, you know." Harry frowned. Just like Voldemort to still be causing problems, ruining families.
"Harry? Are you okay? It's just for the summer. Don't you want to see your godson?" Ginny said, a concerned look on her face.
"Of course I do. I was just thinking about how Voldemort is still causing problems." He turned his face away. It was turning red.
"Well, it's better this way than if he had won." Ginny told him. He looked around at her. He sighed and shrugged.
"I knew that. How could I not? But that doesn't make me feel any different. Now Andromeda had no family. Except for Narcissa, but we all know that she's not…she doesn't count." Harry said. He look towards the castle. They were nearly back. He saw Neville standing right outside of the doors, stretching. Neville saw them and smiled.
When they reached Neville, there was something about him, an inexpressible happiness surrounding him.
"Hey Neville. What's up?" Ron asked, sensing the same thing Harry had. Neville's smile got wider, somehow.
"Oh, it's just a beautiful day. And I have some good news. My grandmother's just been to Saint Mungo's- apparently my parent's showed signs of recognition and happiness when they heard all the news, and when they heard Bellatrix was dead…" He stopped short. Harry motioned for him to go on.
"Well, it's like that broke a spell! They're doing a lot better now! They're obviously not what they used to be, but they're better!" Neville practically shouted. Harry blinked. Was it possible? The last time that he had seen Neville's parents, there seemed to be no way that they would get better.
"Some healer said that the main thing holding them back before had been fear, but they weren't sure how to get rid of it." Neville continued. Hermione beamed at him, and Ron clapped him on the shoulder. Ginny smiled up at Harry. Harry's face broke out into a smile as big as Neville's.
"That's great!" He exclaimed. It was like an answer to his thoughts moments before, even though there would be bad, there was also the wonderful.
As everyone was congratulating Neville, Harry was reminded of the first part of his realization when the Malfoys walked out of the castle in a huddle. He locked eyes with Draco as they fled from the grounds towards Hogsmeade.
There would be the bad.