Ch. 41 Remember

The Following Morning

Harry sighed, standing in his kitchen staring at the same spot on the wall he'd been gazing at for several minutes unable to marshal his thoughts into productiveness.

May 2, 1999

It has already been a year. Harry couldn't believe it had gone by so fast. He wasn't sure whether he could accurately name how he felt about this day. Nervousness definitely but he wasn't sure that's what this was. Apprehension at attending the, what was sure to be, enormous festivities later that night wasn't helping his situation either.

He'd woken up early that morning unable to sleep so he took a shower and tried to lay back down until his alarm went off and was hopefully able to catch a little extra sheep which did not end up happening. Another thing keeping him awake was the fact that he was heading to Hogwart's early today to see Ginny. Classes were cancelled today for the festivities and Harry had received permission from McGonagall to be on the grounds early so he could have some time to see Ginny.

Giving up the endeavor, he headed into the kitchen and made an elaborate breakfast since he had the extra time. When he had finished cleaning up the mess he'd made, it was still only 7:15 and he wasn't allowed into be at Hogwarts until after 8. He tried waiting for the time to leave but the more he waited, the more elated he became at seeing Ginny. It eventually got to the point that he no longer cared how nervous he was about the proceedings that evening, he just wanted to see Ginny because he knew that as long as she was with him, nothing else would matter.

So at 7:30, he gathered a few of his things and headed to the roof to apparate to Hogsmeade. He reappeared at the same spot he had apparated to just over a year ago. The few times he had apparated to Hogsmeade since the end of the war, he had used the same location every time. He hadn't noticed it the first couple of times but when he realized it, he hadn't altered it.

Something about the memory of that night always came back to him when he arrived here and over time, the memories had started to become fuzzier with each successful trip to Hogsmeade. It even got to the point that he once found himself unexpectedly face to face with Dennis Creevey and his parents at the Three Broomsticks one weekend during one of Ginny's Hogsmeades trips. He had been able to complete an entire conversation with them without becoming exceedingly depressed or apologizing profusely to them which he had done on two previous occasions.

He made his way to the main street and started headed towards the front gates. He was approaching the Three Broomsticks and was quite surprised when Professors McGonagall, Sinistra, Flitwick, Slughorn, and Madame Pomfrey all strode out the doors.

'Potter?' McGonagall said once seeing him. 'What are you doing here so early?'

'I'm sure the same could be said of us' Sinistra said smoothly.

'Ah I suppose that's true.' McGonagall nodded.

'Obviously Harry is here early so he can see that lovely young redhead in my NEWT potions class' Slughorn said chuckling and making his chins jiggle. 'I have on several occasions asked her to invite you to one of my little dinner parties. She can never seem to make them though. Always practicing quidditch that one is.'

'Well c'mon then Potter.' McGonagall said waving him on with them towards the castle. 'No sense for you to wait around for reporters from the Prophet to show up.'

'Aye, I agree' Flitwick squeaked. 'I say Harry – ' Harry reeled at being addressed as such 'you must describe to me the effects from the Singularica Jinx'

'You heard about that?'

'Minster Shacklebolt came to me to enquire about it while you were still unconscious. I told him what I knew about its properties but I've still never seen it used. I was always too nervous to try it.'

'I don't remember much. I was apparently pretty banged up after it exploded'

'My word, Harry what did you do?' Slughorn huffed as he hustled to keep up with them all.

'Carrow threw a jinx at us the night Azkaban was attacked that nearly killed me. Something about dark energy I think.'

'That's correct.' Flitwick said excitedly. 'The curse is, in a way, the opposite of a Patronus Charm. It works off dark thoughts and evil to create a mass of dark energy that explodes if it has enough contact with traditional darkness. The jinx dies in sunlight which is "light energy." Darkness, or better, the absence of sunlight, has a violent reaction with the Dark matter – '

'Like sodium and water?' Slughorn asked. Harry silently thanked his recent potion classes or he would have had no idea what that meant.

'- Precisely. So the reaction is violent to the point that it splits atoms that make up the universe causing a massive backlash.'

'I'll say' Harry muttered making Sinistra and McGonagall smile. They reached the front gates which opened creakily for them as they approached.

'Do you remember anything specific about it?' Flitwick asked eagerly.

'I'm sorry professor no. I had some serious physical injuries.'

'Ah well' he replied crestfallen.

'Well, near-death experiences aside… You'll find Mrs. Weasley in Gryffindor tower no doubt. Please remember that there are young students in this school, Mr. Potter. The last thing I need to deal with today is eleven year old students with prerequisites to sex education.'

Harry went into an immediate coughing fit having choked on…. air apparently. 'I … We wouldn't…. there will be lots of people….'

McGonagall chuckled malevolently and turned her gaze back to the castle. 'And they call me uptight' she mumbled between chuckles. 'It was a joke Potter. You should lighten up. It's likely going to be a long day.'

Harry separated from the group at the entrance hall and walked all seven floors of staircases still reeling from Minerva McGonagall making a joke at his expense. He reached the Fat Lady and opened his mouth to say the password when he realized he didn't know it. Harry checked his watch to see it was still only 7:45. Students weren't supposed to leave their common rooms until eight on the weekends. While wondering whether he was really going to have to stand and wait for fifteen minutes, the Fat Lady woke up and screamed in excitement when she saw him.

He managed to shush her and asked if he could enter Gryffindor tower. She nodded and asked if he wanted to know that password.

'Well I uhh … I guess so. What is it?'

She smiled and said 'Firebolt'

Harry was about to step inside when he froze and looked at the Fat Lady's retreating visage that was smiling knowingly at him. He stepped inside the Common Room which was mostly deserted. One young witch, that couldn't be more than a second year, looked at him and smiled and then looked back at him so alarmed that she may have just seen a ghost. She then bolted out of the room and up the stairs.

Harry frowned hoping that wasn't a sign of the day to come. Harry found his favorite armchair near the fire and turned it so that he would mostly be in shadow but could still be seen when Ginny came down. Slowly, students came down to the common room. The whispering that Harry hadn't missed one bit immediately returned as people continued to steal glances at him. At eight o'clock, they all made their way out of Gryffindor Tower while stealing one last look at him.

A few minutes later, Harry heard the door open to the 7th year girl's dormitory and voices echoed down the stairs.'

'I don't know Ginny. Maybe – maybe not. I think maybe this summer but – '

'Don't stress. It won't matter anyway. For Merlin's sake, he cheated on you. Get rid of him, Anna. He's no better than a pile of dragon dung on the best days anyway.'

'He is not and you know it! What about you? When is Harry getting here?'

'Soon, I hope. Oh I hope Slughorn doesn't see him. He'll probably try and rope him into one of those ridiculous dinners.'

Harry smiled at her as the girl, quite literally, of his dreams came down the staircase and into the common room. She didn't even glance in his direction, which wasn't surprising because she had no reason to.

'Too late' Harry said strongly from across the room from her. Ginny stopped in her tracks and looked at him in stunned disbelief.

'Harry?'

Ginny turned over again and tried beating her pillows back into a usable form. She refused to look at her clock or even open her eyes. She didn't want to know what time it was. She just wanted to sleep until her alarm went off. A voice in the back of her head told her that it was a losing battle but she refused to submit. That is until she heard Anwen whisper from the next bed.

'Give it up, Gin. You're not going to sleep now.'

'Well' she sighed. 'I certainly won't if you don't leave me alone.'

'Do you even know what time it is?' Anwen asked her.

'No and I don't want to know. I'd rather just sleep until my – '

At that moment, Ginny's alarm clock lit up brightly and emitted the same familiar annoying sound that she'd heard for 7 years of school now.

'- Alarm goes off' She reached over and turned it off with another sigh.

She swung her feet to the floor, grabbed her bathrobe, tossed an empty box of Bertie Bott's at Anwen who had stuck her head out of her bed curtains, and went to the bathroom for a shower.

'I always know when you are going to see him because you go through a lot more trouble getting ready.'

'You're one to talk' Ginny quipped back with a smile. 'At least Harry isn't constantly staring at Astoria Greengrass's backside with his jaw on the floor.'

Anwen made an exasperated face and fell back to her bed. The friendship that had sprung up between Ginny and Anwen this year had been an interesting one. They constantly insulted, berated, picked at, and encouraged one another. It seemed like a friendship built on collective heartache, sadness at their lost classmates, and sarcasm.

Ginny turned the water on in the 7th year girl's shower and waited for the steam to start rolling. The tension in her muscles could easily be attributed to a number of things; the most important of which being Harry coming today. When she stepped into the hot shower, she immediately felt the tension start to melt away. She shaved everything necessary, scrubbed with her body wash that Harry liked best, and washed and conditioned her hair thoroughly. She also used her pumice stone on her feet which she hadn't done in quite some time. She knew she would be standing quite a bit in the near future so she went the whole nine yards with this shower. She shut the water off and grabbed for her towel only to remember she hadn't brought in the room with her.

'Damn!' she swore angrily. She hated when this happened. 'Anna?'

…. She waited but to no avail.

'Anwen?!... Anwen!' She waited more but heard nothing. 'Blast!'

She tried to remove as much water from her body as possible and wrung out her hair. She pulled the curtain and looked around the bathroom. She peeked around the corner into the dormitory and saw no one. Anna must have put a silencing charm around her bed again. She often did that this year. At first Ginny had tried fooling herself that it was because Anna didn't want to be disturbed by noise in the room at night despite it being just the two of them, but she knew better. It had been impossible to deny why she did it now after Ginny was woken up in the middle of the night by her.

Ginny was 17 now and mature enough to realize that what Anna did behind her silencing charms was a natural and healthy thing. Besides that, Ginny would have been a hypocrite to berate her for it anyway. Ginny and Harry hadn't been together but once since last summer and long months apart had coaxed her into previously unexplored parts of herself. That did not mean that either of them needed to hear the other. Thus the unspoken silencing charm agreement.

Right now though, she cursed this unspoken accord and was forced to walk across her dormitory in the morning sunlight pouring in from the one window wearing nothing but the recent bruise on her hip from a bludger. She had just reached her trunk she heard the door close beside her.

'Not that I mind the view but..' Anwen said smiling mischievously while Ginny hurriedly covered herself with her towel, 'wouldn't it have been more prudent to take the towel with you?'

In the scheme of things, it didn't really matter if Anna saw her starkers but a little humility never hurt anyone and you couldn't blame anyone for being a little self conscious around Anna with her perfect blond hair to her waist which was curvy in every right way and long slender legs. 'I forgot it, wench and I thought you were behind your silenced curtains asleep' Ginny said as she tried to dry herself with a towel that was wrapped and fastened around her.

'No need for silencing charms this morning. I took the charm down before I went to asleep as a matter of fact.' she said with a knowing smile.

Ginny sighed at her friend's lack of humility and shame. 'You know that I don't really need to know that right? We don't have to share everything.'

'You're one to talk' she replied chuckling. 'Nice bruise by the way.'

'Oh hush it you.'

'And stop drying yourself off like that. You look like you're having a fit or something. It's not like you have anything left to hide from me now.'

Ginny huffed and removed the towel and dried herself properly. Anwen didn't even seem phased. Ginny finished drying, put on at least underwear, shorts, and a sports bra so she could reign in her hair, and put on a dash of make-up. After perfecting the cosmetics, she went back to the dorm, hung her towel to dry by the wood stove, and put on her clothes that she'd saved for today: her favorite fitting blue jeans, the ones that Ginny had caught Harry staring at on more than one occasion, a snugly fitting Harpies T-shirt, and a pair of comfortable sneakers. She'd also put on her only padded bra that her Mum would probably throw away if she knew she had.

'Yea, see what I mean? I can always tell when you're going to see Harry.' Anwen said looking at her as she changed too.

'Well I can always tell when you're getting ready to see Nathan'

'How so?' she said pausing in the middle of pulling on her shorts.

'Pull you shorts on!' Ginny scolded. 'Because you get that look in your eyes that says I'm either going to punch you in the face or mount you were you stand.'

Anna laughed and pulled her shorts on and buttoned them. 'I'm impressed Gin. You said "mount" without turning the color of an apple.'

'Yea well I guess you're rubbing off on me'

'Excellent' she squealed. 'Make sure you tell Harry to thank me. I'm sure he'll be appreciative if you act more like me.'

'Gah! You have no filter in that brain at all do you?'

'No'

'You need one'

'Why'

'Because not everyone is so open about their… desires'

'Perhaps not' she acquiesced.

'What about Nathan? Are you going to get shod of him or are you going to continue to try and fool yourself into thinking that he's worth it.'

'He is worth it.' She implored. 'We have so much fun when we are together.'

'You mean you shag a lot'

'No. Really that's not true. We really do have a lot of fun together.' She said as she grabbed her bag and Ginny reached for her wand to slide into the waistband of her jeans. It didn't fit in the pockets on these. 'We can talk about anything together, he makes me laugh so much, he's not afraid to admit when he's wrong. Which is often.'

'But he cheated on you.' Ginny said reaching the door.

'Once during a huge fight when he'd thought we broke up. And he apologizes it seems like once a week for it.'

'Well if he hadn't started an argument – '

'He didn't. I did. I was upset at him for not telling me he loved me yet.'

'Bloody hell Anna you might as well have shoved him out the door.'

'I know I was stupid. That's why I feel it's worth it to try and make it work. I can't imagine myself anywhere else with anyone else. Even though we do bicker all the time.' She said with a misty look in her eyes.

'I know other couples who bicker so maybe you're right.'

'I assume that you're talking about your brother who just got engaged? I wish I could get engaged.'

'Seriously? You want him to propose to you? Are you insane?' She said as she opened the door to the staircase.

'He's going to be a cursebreaker in Egypt and you're going into Healer training. When would he have time to propose even if he wants to?'

Anna closed the door behind her and they started down the stairs.

'I don't know Ginny. Maybe – maybe not. I think maybe this summer but – '

'Don't stress. It won't matter anyway. For Merlin's sake, he cheated on you. Get rid of him, Anna. He's no better than a pile of dragon dung on the best days anyway.'

'He is not and you know it! What about you? When is Harry getting here?'

'Soon, I hope. Oh I hope Slughorn doesn't see him. He'll probably try and rope him into one of those ridiculous dinners.'

'Too late' said a wonderfully familiar voice. Ginny stopped in her tracks and turned her head to a armchair across the room where a tall, dark-haired boy in glasses sat in his favorite armchair by the fire. Ginny was completely stunned. How had he gotten in? Oh bloody hell she didn't care.

'Harry?' she breathed. 'You're here!'

'So it would seem.' Anwen said slowly. Ginny turned to look at her and saw that same look she saw with over half of every other girl or woman who saw him.

'Stop it, Anna. Don't you have breakfast with your own boyfriend to go to? Stop ogling mine.'

Harry smiled widely and Anna harrumphed and exited the Common Room.

'How is Anwen?' Harry asked concerned. Ginny sighed and walked towards him. 'Still stupid for him. But that's not what I care about right now.'

She made it to him, put her hands on his neck and pulled him down to meet her lips. He responded with equal fervor wrapping his arms around her and pulled her into him. He moaned against her lips and Ginny snaked her fingertips into the hair on the back of his head. Somewhere in the currently unattended part of her brain, she heard footsteps stop in the Common Room followed by a squeak of surprise. Ginny pulled away from Harry and smiled without opening her eyes.

'I missed you…. so much' Harry breathed. 'I love you'

'I love you' Ginny said equally out of breath. Her heart was beating uncontrollably and her mind was racing. No doubt a result of the conversations she'd had this morning with Anwen. Her mind always ended up in a more… risqué frame of mind after talking to her. If she hadn't been housed with Anwen, Ginny doubted she would have had as much need for a silencing charm at night. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you thought about it in the wrong way, she was housed with her and did need that charm.

'I'm so glad you're here' Ginny said wrapping her arms around his chest. He'd gotten bigger since the last time she'd seen him. She wasn't complaining though. The small bit of added weight made him look less weedy.

'Me too' he said. 'I don't think I'd have been able to wait another month. Nor would I make it through today without you.'

'You'll be fine, Harry.' She said encouraging him.

'No' he responded with a smile and hugging her even more tightly. 'We will.'

Harry walked hand in hand with her to the Great Hall to breakfast and around every corner, people would stop and stare at him for a few seconds. Several of the girls they crossed paths with would smile until they saw that he was holding Ginny's hand and then they would scowl. Breakfast was a buzzing affair. It was quieter than normal but whispering was so heavy it made it sound like a sea of snakes swam beneath their feet.

There were few guests when they arrived at breakfast but the longer they remained at the Gryffindor table, the more people showed up. The tables in the Great Hall it seemed had already been expanded to accommodate the extras that showed. Most of who arrived, Ginny didn't know but Harry nodded at several more than she did. Amos Diggory, who she did recognize, showed up and walked straight over to Harry and shook his hand. Neither said anything but Ginny didn't think that were was much to be said.

Not long after a stream of people showed up that she did recognize some of which actually earning applause including. Oliver Wood, Katie Bell, Kingsley, Grimaldi (Who she only knew of but now she had a face for it), Andromeda and Teddy, Madame Maxime, The Creevey's, Dean (who smiled awkwardly at her) and Seamus, and Aberforth. When Aberforth walked in, nearly every student gave him a sidelong glance. A few students were left that knew the truth about him and his life, but most students still saw him as the questionable barman of the Hog's Head.

A few minutes later, Ginny's entire family walked minus Ron and Hermione and students from all four tables stood and applauded the Weasley family. Ginny felt a traitorous tear stream down her cheek which she unsuccessfully hid from Harry who put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. They all sat down for breakfast which was a quiet but excited affair. The energy level in the room steadily rose as more people arrived. At 9:00 a.m. exactly, McGonagall stood quieting the room quickly. Harry smiled at the presence she eld.

'Good morning students and honored guests.'

'Where are Ron and Hermione' Harry asked looking around the room.

'Do you really want me to answer that?' Ginny said with a sideways glance back at him.

'No. No I don't.' Ginny smiled and turned back to McGonagall.

' – will be heading out onto the grounds in a few minutes to begin our service. We ask that you remain quiet during your walk in remembrance of everyone we lost here on these very grounds and remember that their sacrifice allowed us to celebrate today. Thank you.'

McGonagall dismissed them all and Harry head to the Entrance Hall with Ginny in tow. They were rounding the corner out of the Great Hall when Ron and Hermione walked up both smiling. Ginny and Harry stopped and eyed them furtively.

'What?' Ron said looking at the both of them.

'Today? Really?'

'Ginny, no' Hermione chuckling. 'Ron and I have been in the Common room with Neville and Hannah.'

They continued to stare at them disbelievingly and would have done so longer had Hannah and Neville not walked up moments later.

'Hey guys. Where were you this morning? We've all been in the common room sitting by the fire reminiscing.'

Harry and Ginny skeptically dropped the subject and headed out onto the lawns. Harry could see the arrangement of chairs and a marquee as soon as they hit the steps. He immediately had flashbacks to exactly one year ago to the memorial service they had then. Ginny towed Harry across the lawns towards the chairs. He was apparently reluctant to go because the closer they got, the more he felt like turning around.

Professor Slughorn was standing at the entrance to the enormous marquee when they walked up. Harry smiled at the man's ability to remember every name that walked by him. The line was quite long and moving slowly due to him constantly asking about various relatives or business ventures that he had knowledge of. When Harry and his friends walked up, he smiled widely and shook Harry's hand.

'Ah Harry, m'boy. How are you?' he said jovially.

'Having flashbacks from hell actually but I'll survive.' Slughorn's face fell into shock instantly. Ron sniggered and Hermione looked aghast.

'Im …er… I'm sorry to hear that.' He stuttered making Ron snigger even more. 'Miss Weasley, you family arrived just a few minutes ago. That are just over there' he finished pointing. Ron continued to snigger until he walked by Slughorn with Hermione and was greeted as 'Ms. Granger and Mr. Wilkins.' This quieted Ron instantly.

They all made their way to where Molly and Arthur were sitting where seats had been set aside for all of the Weasley's, Harry, and Hermione. Harry looked around and saw dozens of people he recognized from either the Ministry or Hogwarts. There was a low hum of voices around the area but on the whole it was a very hushed atmosphere.

'Are you supposed to speak today?' Bill asked Harry

'No. Kingsley asked me a couple of weeks ago but I politely refused. After the fiasco of my name all over that story in the prophet, it hasn't been hard to convince Kingsley not to let me speak in public.'

'Did you really tell that reporter to eat dragon dung?' Charlie asked with a smile.'

'Unfortunately, yes.'

'I'm impressed' Bill said with a clap onto Harry's back.

'Grimaldi wasn't. He spent nearly half an hour yelling at me in his office about the merits of good vs. bad press coverage and how badly it can hinder investigations.' Harry said with a sigh. It felt like his ears still rang from that chewing.

'That's funny' George said chuckling quietly.

'No it isn't' Arthur said without turning towards them.

'Did you learn anything useful from his speech?' Charlie asked.

'Nothing new' Harry replied offhandedly.

'Then I shall have to ask Lonnie to give you that lecture again' Kingsley said appearing suddenly behind Harry. He turned quickly, instantly worried that he might seriously be in for another lecture. When he looked at Kingsley though, he was smiling holding out his hand which Harry shook. Kingsley sat down and leaned forward.

'Remind me to ask you about an operation after this function is over.' He said very softly. Harry and Ginny could hear him clearly with his carrying voice but he doubted anyone else could.

Harry nodded and Kingsley stood back up. He stood off to the side of the small stage that had been erected in front of the Memorial. Harry stared long and hard at the Memorial which looked exactly as it had one year earlier. Harry actually thought that it might even look cleaner.

'The chairs are nearly full.' Ginny said looking around. 'It will be standing room only pretty soon.' Harry looked around again and reached the same conclusion. Just as he was about to check his watch to see how long it would be before they started, Kingsley walked regally past them in his best dress robes and single earring and stepped up to the podium there. He waited for the noise to die down which did so quickly. He pointed his wand at his throat and muttered 'Sonorus'

'Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. You have joined us here today to honor those who fell here on the grounds of Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry exactly one year ago today. But we also celebrate the past year of peace and revel in the enormous strides we have made for our society.'

'When the sun rose on May 1st, 1998, the wizarding world was in the midst of its darkest time in history.. The Ministry itself was completely taken over, muggleborn witches and wizards across the country were being persecuted, chased, imprisoned, tortured, and murdered. Supporters of The Order Of The Pheonix were forced to operate in complete secrecy under threat of certain death. Our greatest leader any of us ever knew was in the next world and the greatest salvation we had was the most pursued man in the country.'

'Despite certain hardship and nearly certain pain and death, we came together as a people for the first time in our known history. All thought of self-preservation had been overlooked and several hundred witches and wizards both young and old launched a final push here and at the Ministry in London to end the terror and tyranny of the powerful Tom Riddle.'

'In a massive battle, led by what started as a rogue student group focused on defying a corrupt ministry, we engaged our greatest enemy of all time. The battle was going badly and looked even worse when some of the youngest of our kind showed courage and talent beyond their years and openly stood against Tom Riddle. After, by unknown means, Harry Potter fooled the Death Eaters into believing he was dead, Neville Longbottom destroyed the last of the dark magical objects tying Riddle to this life. In a moment written into our history forever, Harry Potter stood face to face with most powerful dark wizard of all time and defeated him. Securing a future for us all in doing so.'

'This victory came at the greatest cost for far too many and when the smoke cleared, 57 of our loved ones had laid their lives down. Today we honor that sacrifice as we will continue to do every year from now on.'

Kingsley froze for several seconds allowing the silence to lay over all of them accentuating the gravity of his words. 'However, in memory of their sacrifice, we will not lay in sadness. We will not cry for their loss but celebrate their life and the joy that it brought to those around them.' Harry saw Kingsley steal a quick glance at Andromeda who was holding a sleeping Teddy. It had only been a few days at most since Harry had seen them but he still longed to hold the toddler close.

'I ask that today and today only, loved ones feel free to stand on this platform and speak about the ones we lost here. Though they are not here now, they live within all of us. The world deserves to hear about all of them.'

Harry receded at his words. He had not known this would happen and he was instantly apprehensive about remaining there. The first person to stand at the podium was Colin Creevey's mother. Harry felt tears instantly spring to his eyes. As she spoke of the joy and excitement the both the Creevey boys had about starting at Hogwarts, Harry began shaking making Ginny put her arms around him to hold him as we wept quietly. As more and more people stepped forward, his body produced more tears than he thought possible. All of these people, all of these losses, had been his fault. They were the result of Harry not being able to do what needed to be done quickly enough. When George unsteadily, Harry felt a fresh wave of sobs wrack his body as well as Ginny's.

'I…. I don't really know what to say about…. About Fred' George stammered. 'Other than the fact that he looks… looked exactly like me but with two ears….' He stopped allowing a few people to chuckle including Arthur. 'Fred… and I, we weren't good students. We were constantly trying to find the next prank to pull even after we opened the business. They may not be a person in history that has as many cards in Filch's "card box records" as we do.'

More people laughed and George seemed to stand up a little straighter. 'Fred always was the voice of reason between us. Like when I needed a reason sneak to the kitchens past curfew, Fred would quickly supply me a plausible reason for doing so.' Everyone chuckled audibly. 'It took me months to be able to feel again, really feel. At first, I was lost. I would say something and then look around waiting for him to throw the punch line but it would never come. I found myself sitting in bar after bar after pub after pub. I would always look for two chairs rather than one for just me.'

Harry felt the tears drip slide down his cheeks. Ginny squeezed his hand and leaned into him. 'After one particularly low moment at some muggle bar in London, I tried chatting up a young bird and she laughed me away. I don't even remember what I was saying now but I remember what she said that woke me up.'

'She said "Look, you obviously have some serious problems judging by that empty glass you've tried to drink from four times, and whatever it is has seriously messed you up. So until you learn to live again rather than be a walking ghost, you'll always look like a lost boy in a man's world."

'That was my turning point. I started dealing rather than surviving and thanks to that muggle, I'm able to stand here today smiling at the memory of the best friend I'll ever have. In honor of that friend, I do this.'

George raised something small to his lips and placed it in his mouth with a smile. He chewed for a few seconds before he unexpectedly sprouted yellow feathers all over his body. A Canary Cream. The crowd around them burst into laughter including the Weasley's. The atmosphere changed perceptibly and several others came forward to share stories about how brave their relative had been and the amazing things that person had brought to the lives of their loved ones. With each person that came forward, Harry's heart constricted. People whose family were forever affected. Who would never be the same because somebody in their family chose to fight to help Harry rather than stay with their loved ones.

'Stop Harry' Ginny whispered at him.

'Stop what?'

'Thinking what you're thinking.' She said conspiratorially.

'How do you know what I'm thinking' Harry replied trying to sound confident but only managing to sound guilty.

'I can see it on your face. This is not your fault' she said softly putting another hand on his shoulder. 'I know you want to blame yourself for this but don't. We all….all knew what we were doing. We fought for our own reasons. Not just for you….. Well I fought for you. I died inside when I saw you in Hagrid's arms.'

'You were so reckless. Why did you try to take her on' Harry whispered knowing she knew what he meant. 'You were dead. I didn't care if I died anymore. Like I said, I fought for you, to bring you home to me, and when you died, nothing mattered.'

'You would have been another death that would have been avoided if I'd only – '

'Only what?' Ginny said turning more to face him. 'Only figured out the greatest mystery of our time and defeated the greatest evil of all time? Dumbledore, as smart as he was, didn't figure everything out in all the time he worked on it. You did better than anyone on earth could have done.'

Harry fell silent for a few seconds listening to a young lady speak about her friend that had been killed at the ministry. He hadn't had any family left and no significant other to speak on his behalf so she chose to do so. This gesture reminded him of the obituary on his desk at the ministry and it touched Harry as he started to feel tears brim over again. Harry, Kingsley, and Minerva had been the only people to attend the small funeral held in Spinner's End but he knew that a big affair would have only upset him. He had even told Ginny not to attend as it wouldn't feel right. It was a while after that before she agreed to hear his side of the story of that. She had resented his comment but understood in the end. Even if she did threaten him several times.

'I didn't do better than anyone I just had the best help in the world' Harry whispered as he stood. Ginny looked at him confused but he leaned back down and kissed her on the cheek. The

'Where are you going?' she asked.

'Some things aren't my fault. But that doesn't mean I'm not responsible' he said.

Soft conversations had broken out as people milled about the memorial service. Harry slowly made his way forward. As he got closer to the platform, it seemed to be moving farther and farther away. His feet carried him on but his heart was shooting into overdrive. People were still speaking about loved ones but as Harry approached the platform, the assembled crowd stopped moving about and talking to turn to look at him. Harry grimaced and thought again about what he was about to do. If he were here, he would undoubtedly curse Harry. However, this story was not one that should disappear in history untold. He called his wand and pointed it at his throat

'Sonorus' he whispered. By this time, complete silence had descended around him. 'I may stumble through some of this' he began with a chuckle 'but it's a story that needs to be told.' Harry sighed and looked at the crowd, nearly all of whom were watching him with rapt attention.

'I … believe it or not I really don't like public speaking' a few people chuckled and Harry relaxed a little. 'There is a person that deserves mention today and they have absolutely no one to stand for them even though everyone here knows him.'

Harry saw Ron turn to Hermione in confusion for a moment but Hermione shushed him causing him to frown. Some things never changed.

'I would just tell you what he accomplished but it's simply not enough. More of his story must be told.'

Harry sighed and shifted on his feet. He took a deep breath and mentally readied himself for what he was about to bring up in himself. He had never told this story in its entirety to anyone even Ginny.

'A boy was born into a house with an angry abusive muggle father and a quiet and reserved witch mother. By the time he was Hogwarts age, he'd met a local muggleborn girl who had been chosen to attend Hogwarts as well and they quickly became friends despite their obvious differences. When they got here, they were immediately sorted into separate houses and developed their own friendships. They maintained a cordial if not friendly relationship for a few years. As they grew older, their ideas began to…. progressively differ as their friends and society held more and more influence over them.'

'The young girl was being …. forcibly courted, you could say' the crowd laughed heartily as his comment but Harry continued 'by someone who the boy hated with a deep passion. It soon caused a rift between the two friends. The boy wanted her to have nothing to do with the "stalker" and the girl simply wanted her childhood friend back.'

'One day, in a moment of hatred, the boy called the girl an unforgivable name that I'm sure you all know. She berated him for his choice of friends and then confronted him about his "covert" plans to join Voldemort after finishing Hogwarts. When he did nothing more than try to stop her from dating the perseverant stalker, she walked away never to speak to him again. They finished two more years at school together where he continually longed for her and she continued to ignore him before parting ways. By this time, they young girl was in a intense new relationship with the young stalker, and the boy left Hogwarts holding in an unreturned love of the girl as he joined the ranks of the Death Eaters.'

'A few years later, the young girl is now a young woman is married now with a small son. The young boy from the beginning of this story is now a young man pleading relentlessly with Voldemort not to kill the young girl going even as far to offer him the child and husband if he spared the girl. Voldemort did not do as he pleaded and the young couple was murdered.'

Silence was now so oppressive in the area that he could actually hear waves lap the edge of the lake over a hundred yards away. It seemed even the forest itself had fallen silent.

'For the rest of his life, the boy, now a grown man, swore to protect the young couple's son despite how much he reminded him of the relentless stalker that had stolen the love of his life from him. Through the entire second war, the man was a spy for the Order of the Phoenix and was never discovered in over sixteen years. Dumbledore himself trusted this man implicitly, perhaps more than he trusted any other person in the Order. He is… or was… perhaps the most accomplished Occlumens of our time. He was murdered… here…. on the grounds of Hogwarts. Murdered in cold blood for no other reason than Voldemort wanted what he thought the man had. A troubled and extremely talented wizard was murdered on a whim. Senseless…. Pointless … cold blooded murder.'

Harry wiped the tears from his eyes. Snape would flay him alive had he been there but Harry absolutely refused to allow the world not to know just how brave and talented he was.

'That man was perhaps one of the most talented wizards I've ever met and without a doubt one of the bravest men that have ever been Headmaster here at Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry.'

Harry paused to let what he said sink in for a second while he watched the confusion, that he knew would come, spread across the crowd. Hermione and Ginny were smiling while Ron simply smirked and shook his head. The crowd, at first, looked at him in utter confusion and then Harry watched as the realization came to a few of them. A few of the witches that Harry recognized as former students made a little "o" with their mouth and covered it with their hand.

'I, along with everyone else here, owe my life, well-being, and future ten times over to Severus Snape. He was a man of extreme talent and beyond incredible bravery. I know….. that…. that I will never forget him.'

Harry did not wait but stepped of the dais and went to sit back down. Ginny wrapped his arms around him and Harry leaned into her as the tears that had been threatening him brimmed over freely and ran down his cheeks. Harry felt a hand grab his shoulder and he turned around to see McGonagall smiling brightly at him with tears streaking down her cheeks.

An hour later, Harry's mind had recovered from the memorial service and the thing he'd been thinking about for over a month came flooding back into his consciousness. The last few days, he had been so fixated on this memorial that he had not been thinking much about what he was planning. He had been nervous about being a part of the memorial but what was coming next was…

'Harry?' Ginny asked him 'What are you thinking about?'

They had decided to take a walk around the grounds while the guests from the service mingled among one another and attended a special Luncheon in the castle. Harry had no desire to become a spectacle in the throngs of people that would be there so a private walk on the grounds was much more appropriate. Her simple question immediately sent his pulse racing.

'Just …thinking about this past year' he said semi-truthfully. 'It has been amazing'

She smiled at him and squeezed his hand a little tighter. 'It has hasn't?' she said softly. 'Too bad I'm only using you for sex' she continued casually. Harry snorted and smiled at her.

'I'm just using you for your family's money' he replied smoothly causing to bark a single laugh.

'You better use me for something, Potter. I'll be leaving at the end of the month' she said bumping his hip with her own.

'I'd like to use you at my flat not on the grounds at Hogwarts with a thousand people here.'

'Aw c'mon' she said in mock sadness. 'I thought the astronomy tower was pretty exciting'

'Oh it was' Harry assured her with a sly smile. 'But the run-in with Filch afterwards wasn't.'

'Why are you complaining? At least you had your clothes back on. I was standing stark naked in the moonlight'

'I'm just glad you had your invisibility cloak' she said resignedly. 'I can't believe we did that'

'Neither can I' he replied with a shy smile. 'Can you imagine what your Mum and Dad would have said?'

She shivered. 'I don't want to know. I think Mum and I have this agreement about all that.'

'You think?' Harry repeated. 'What agreement?'

'I don't talk about it or get caught, and she doesn't ask anymore. I'm sure she knows or suspects so she'd probably not like the answer if she did ask.'

'I'd rather not discuss either. Especially after Bill took me aside one Sunday at dinner and had a talk with me about my intentions.'

'He did what?!' she shot back. 'Who does he bloody think he is?'

Harry smiled half-heartedly and hoped it was sincere looking. That day had been extremely unpleasant especially when George was behind Bill mocking him making Harry laugh and Bill think that he didn't care. Harry had needed George's distraction and humor that day. The conversation he'd had with Arthur shortly after that was why.

'It's no problem' Harry assured her. At least you Mum didn't ask about our sex life. I would have been so embarrassed they would have been able to guess the answer.'

'It sounds so risqué when you say it like that' Ginny laughed. 'We are both adults so what business is of theirs anyway.'

'Bill was just worried that the distance between us would be a problem.'

'Of course it won't' she said stopping and putting her arms around his waist. 'I'll be in Holyhead Monday through Friday and at your – '

'Our' Harry interjected

' – Our… flat on the weekends.' She still wasn't completely comfortable with him paying all the bills. 'Some nights you'll be able to stay with me and I'll show you off to the girls on the team.'

'Show me off huh?'

'Oh yea' she said placing a sweet lingering kiss on his lips. 'Last week when I went for the meeting with team healer and athletic trainer for a physical evaluation, all they could talk about was you.'

'That's pleasant' he replied sarcastically.

'They're just jealous' she replied with a smile.

'I'm the one who's jealous' He replied suggestively. 'I want to be the one giving you physical examinations' She laughed in outrage and slapped him on the chest before walking swiftly away. Harry quickly chased her.

'You're not mad' he said confidently as he caught up to her.

'You don't know that' she said haughtily holding her nose up.

'Sure I don't.'

Harry put his hands on her waist and pulled her close. The sun was high and bright on a beautiful day and he couldn't think of a better time. He put his forehead to hers and smiled while looking into her eyes and feeling his heart swell. He placed a soft kiss on her lips. They lingered for several seconds remaining in their own bliss. They broke apart and she grasped his hand in hers and continued their walk.

'Harry?' she said thoughtfully looking out into the distance near the lake. Ripples across the surface of the lake told them that the giant squid was in the mood to bask in the warmer water today.

'Hmm?'

'Can I ask you something?'

'Of course' he replied a little unsurely.

'Do you remember that morning after Fred and George flew you back to our house in Dad's old car?'

'You mean the first time you Mum yelled at me? I'll never forget' he said making her laugh. 'What about it?'

'Did you ever think that you would end up like this?' she stopped walking pulling him to a sudden stop as well.

'What do you mean "like this"?''

'This' she said motion to the two of them that were still holding hands. 'You're in a relationship with the little girl who was too afraid to speak in front of you in that same house you flew a car to that just happens to be the little sister of your best mate who is now engaged to your other best mate.'

'Well to be honest, I reckoned that bit about Ron and Hermione long before I considered any of the rest of it.'

'Well still…. Where did you think you'd be right now?'

Harry looked at her intently trying not to give her the true answer because he knew she wouldn't like it.

'What is it?' she asked suddenly alarmed. 'Did you envision yourself with someone else?'

Harry chuckled once hard and darkly and said 'Yes'. She inhaled sharply and Harry looked at her and he could see she was starting to become upset. He placed both hands on her cheeks smiled despite the dark direction his thoughts had just unwillingly taken.

'Please don't be upset' he implored her. She just nodded and swallowed. 'I never envision myself with another girl or any girl for that matter. I always assumed that by now I'd be with my parents.'

He stayed quiet while the gravity of his statement sunk in. 'Instead' he continued slowly pulling her out of her thoughts. 'I'm with the single most wonderful and beautiful person I'll ever meet, I have a family through her again and I have two best mates that have literally been to hell and back with me and I would do that same thing for them or any of my family ten times over.'

She smiled and a single tear ran down her cheek. She grasped him in a hug so tight that Molly would have been proud.

'I love you' she whispered.

'I love you too.' He said back in a breathy whisper. 'So… so much.'

They held each other for several minutes. It took that time for Harry to fully build his courage for what he was about to do. His heart was beating at top speed. His hands were already clammy. The sky was crystal clear, birds in the distance chirped, the giant squid was being as playful as ever and the most beautiful woman in the world stood in front him.

'I – ' he started. 'I finally figured out the box my parents left me.'

Utter shock covered her features. 'What?! Why didn't you tell me? How long ago? What was in it?'

'Slow down' he said smiling. 'I didn't tell you because I wanted to show you.' He took another deep breath and retrieved the small maroon box from his pocket. She stared at it reverently as he placed it gingerly into her hands. The first time he'd figured this out and opened the box, he opened the box and saw one glimpse and then slammed it shut afraid of what it was. He sat in his flat for nearly an hour afterwards staring at the box. He eventually put it back in the safe under his bed.

'Open' he said confidently and watched as the now familiar handwriting flit across it.

Nice try, Harry. The Box won't open until it gets what it wants.

'That can't be it. I thought you said – '

Harry held his hand up to her to slow her down. He smiled at her and she smiled nervously back at him before returning her focus to the box.

'When will you open?'

The box opens with us. We open at the leap of faith. We open at the end that is beginning.

'So you figured this part out?' she asked even more impatiently. He nodded and swallowed his nerves that were threatening to get the better of him. Ginny's breathing was short and quick. Chill bumps had risen on her arms and her eyes bore holes right down to Harry's sole. The blazing look that he loved was nothing short of a volcano of heat now.

'The leap of faith ….. was me. Believing in myself and knowing that I would live. To say it was a leap is an understatement.' He whispered despite the fact that no one was around. She was so close to him he could smell her strawberry shampoo and he almost couldn't concentrate.

'The end that is beginning took me much longer to decipher.'

'What is it then?' she whispered softly.

He smiled at her and looked back at the box.

'I… ' he began looking back at her. She looked nearly frightened. Harry smiled even wider.

'I…. want to get married' he said evenly. He heard her gasp and her hand flew to her mouth. The writing came across again.

Congratulations, son. We love you.

The box popped and opened slowly revealing a small ring set with a princess cut diamond that seemed to reflect the sunlight with every possible color. The diamond was wrapped in white gold with two wands wrapping around the setting touching end to end where two more smaller ruby's were set. On the inside of the ring was an inscription that read "To My Dearest Lily"

'Ginny Weasley' he said dropping to one knee and holding the velvet box in front of him. He removed the ring from its resting place. 'My life began, ended, and began again with you in my mind. I'll never want for anyone or anything else except you in my life. Please…. spend it with me.'

'Harry' she whispered softly. A single tear went down her cheek. She dropped down on both of her knees to look Harry in the eye. 'Yes'

She crushed her lips to his and he embraced her tightly meeting her enthusiasm with his own. Harry broke the kiss to run his lips down her jaw and to neck.

'I love you' she said hoarsely between short breaths.

'I love you' Harry replied moving to look her in the eyes. 'Forever'

If you have stuck this far then I thank you. It was very hard to for me to finish this and I feel happy that I've done so despite how bad it may be. I could never write on a regular basis so I decided I wouldn't post anymore until I had finished it. I have now done so. Please don't judge to harshly but I welcome comments and reviews. Once again thank you for making it this far with me and I hope you enjoyed Harry Potter and the Elder Mistake.