Chapter 1 – All Too Soon
The dim moonlight shone gently on Hogwarts that night as if nature feared the castle would collapse under a stronger gaze. A soft breeze passed across the grounds and a few pebbles fell from a crater in the side of the castle. They rolled almost comically down the once majestic side of Hogwarts bouncing feebly as they hit the grass and coming to rest amongst several large chunks of stone strewn beneath the devastated wall. The wind brushed over the grass uncovering patches of charred ground. As the blades of grass fluttered in the wind, bloodstains revealed themselves to the sky, a stark reminder of the tragedy of war.
The whomping willow swayed lightly in the breeze, perhaps the only undamaged element of Hogwarts. As the breeze passed, the branches of the mighty tree twisted and pointed towards the large wooden doors of the castle. Inside, the castle was a wreck. Blood stained the great expanse of floor leading towards the great hall; a thin marble dust coated everything and suits of armor lay scattered on the floor, felled as they attempted to defend the school. The grand staircase itself was scarred with the residue of evil curses, and charred ground marked areas where spells had met the floor. The portraits lining the stairs and corridors stood in comic relief to the disaster. Their countless inhabitants sleeping soundly, the snoring a chorus of peace in a troubled landscape.
Inside Gryffindor Tower, Harry Potter slept soundly for the first time in years. The war was over; there were no more horcruxes, and no more Voldermort. He had his life to live without imminent death invading his dreams and his day to day activities. Happy, but exhausted, Harry had retired to Gryffindor tower mere moments after leaving the Headmaster's office. Now, he slept in his four-poster bed, his best friend Ron Weasley just one bed away. They slept peacefully, the way they should have for seven years, the way they would have in a world without violence and hate.
As the sun rose, light spread through the boy's dormitory in Gryffindor tower. As the light moved slowly up through the window its smooth warming beams revealed the remnants of a sandwich on Harry Potter's bedside table. His glasses lay next to the plate carelessly cast aside as Harry had fallen asleep. Harry stirred as the sunlight warmed his face. He rolled over in bed to face the ceiling.
He remained in bed as the sunlight slowly warmed his whole body. He knew eventually he would have to wake up and face the world he had left behind that night. For the moment he was perfectly content to bask in the sun, knowing he had finally succeeded and the whole ordeal would soon be done. He had never really thought about his future before. He knew of course he wanted to become an auror, but past that firm goal he had nothing. Now, he realized, hoped at least, that he would have time to think and decide where he wanted his life to go. He decided it would be best to think in the shower.
He rolled out of bed and headed for the bathroom. He stripped off the robes he had worn to bed, and stood naked in front of the mirror. The lightning scar stood out prominently on his forehead, his jet black hair tinged with gray dust. His face was lightly cut, and his chest still held the large yellow bruise from the second killing curse. Life on the ground had left his abdomen taught and hardened, the muscles starting to show definite shape. He let the water run in the shower and continued to examine his body. The castle was quiet and so he assumed he had time alone. He liked his body. It was smooth and slightly toned, an excellent body for quidditch. As the room filled with steam he stepped into the shower.
The water soothed his aching body, pounding into his back, and as he turned to face the jet of water, relieving the pain of the bruise on his chest. He let the water run over his body for half an hour before stepping out of the shower. Harry stood naked on the cold marble floor, dripping wet. He shook himself violently, sending water drops flying in arcs off of his head and shoulders. Wrapping a soft white towel around his waist he gathered up his discarded robes and headed back to his warm bed. As he entered the common room however, he was met by Kinglsey Shackelbolt, the Minister of Magic.
"Mm . . Minster, I uh, wasn't . . ."
Harry shifted uncomfortably and gripped the edge of his towel tightly.
"Harry" Kingsley's soft smooth voice relaxed Harry.
"I'm sorry to bother you so early, but Professor McGonagall requested your presence at breakfast."
Harry simply nodded. 'wonderful' he thought, 'just what I wanted, a standing ovation.'
As Kingsley turned to leave he paused, "the Great Hall is in no shape for breakfast Harry, Professor McGonagall and I will be waiting for you in her office."
Harry waited while the Minister left the common room. As soon as the portrait hole closed he climbed the stairs back to his bed.
Dressed in new robes and feeling cleaner than he had in weeks, Harry made his way back to the Headmistress' office.
The gargoyle, still groggy, let him through without a password.
Professor McGonagall greeted him with a tired, but nearly happy look.
"Harry, I'm sorry we have to drag you out of your bed so early but the events of the last year won't disappear by themselves."
"Professor McGonagall and I," Kingsley cut in, "wanted to discuss a few pressing matters with you."
Harry nodded, guessing what they wanted to discuss. "If I'm going to talk about what happened, Ron and Hermione need to be here first."
McGonagall nodded and with a wave of her wand two silvery cats rushed off into the castle.
Ten minutes later Ron and Hermione were seated with Harry, Kingsley, and Professor McGonagall eating a breakfast provided by the Hogwarts house elves.
Eventually Harry turned his attention to McGonagall and Kingsley. "Professor Dumbledore?" he asked tentatively. The large portrait behind Professor McGonagall looked up at Harry. "Harry, Ron and Hermione already know everything, and Professor McGonagall and Kingsley deserve to know as well."
Harry nodded at his beloved Headmaster and began his story. He told them about the Horcruxes, about breaking into the Ministry, about Godric's Hollow and destroying the locket, about the Deathly Hallows and being captured at Malfoy Manor. By this point Kingsley merely looked impressed, while McGonagall had tears in her eyes. Harry continued his story, escaping from the Malfoy's and Dobby's heroic efforts, breaking into Gringotts and escaping on the dragon. At this point Kingsley stopped him.
"Harry, I just want to assure you that any laws broken will be forgiven. You and your allies are deserving of far more than that."
Harry only nodded, wanting to get to the end of the story. And so he continued with the battle of Hogwarts, skating over the Dumbledore family history, he told of discovering the diadem of Ravenclaw and how it was destroyed, and finally he came to walking into the forest. Hermione was crying. When the story ended Harry breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that at last he had told the story for what he hoped would be the final time.
Professor McGonagall stood, wiping a tear from her eye. "The Minister and I need to talk, why don't you three join as again for lunch."
As they left the Headmistress' office Ron leaned over to Harry, "ya know, one cat would have been sufficient."
Harry looked at him, comprehension dawning on his face. "Did you? You didn't . . ."
Ron grinned and mouthed 'later'
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione returned to her office Professor McGonagall greeted them warmly. They talked for several minutes about the current state of Hogwarts castle and how they planned to restore it. In the end they decided that the first priority was burying the dead. They agreed to return to the castle in two weeks time to help rebuild.
Back in the common room Harry and Ron were sitting in chairs by the fire. Hermione had gone to shower before heading to bed. Harry looked at Ron and without preamble stated, "it's later."
Ron blushed, but grinned. "We were in the same bed, that's all I meant . . ." Harry grinned at him. "So you finally realized your in love with eachother?"
"Yes . . . we did" Hermione's voice made them both jump. "Now Harry, if you'll excuse me, I'll be taking him to bed again."
Ron bolted for the bedroom. Harry chuckled and stood up. As he got into bed and closed his eyes, his mind wandered to thoughts of the impending sadness. But as he fell asleep a picture of Ginny filled his mind and he dreamed peacefully for the first time in a year.
Authors Note: Please review. I just need to know someone wants me to keep writing. Thanks