After the Smoke Clears: The Rewrite
A/N: I have been working on this off and on for while but Squint At Heart got me going on posting this story. I will try my hardest to post a chapter every Sunday night. This is the edited version, although since I'm the only one to proof read, I hope I caught most of the mistakes. But I hope you enjoy the revisions and the new chapters as well. (I have up to chapter four redone, and I'm working on them steadily) = )
Chapter 1: The Dawning of a New Day
The dust had settled around the grounds of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the final debris had fallen and the spells dissipated. The infamous 'Golden Trio' carefully wound their way back down the spiral staircase that had led up to the Headmaster's office. After thanking the gargoyle for letting them up there, they made their way through the long corridors back to the Great Hall. Silent tears were streaming down Hermione's pretty, but dirt stained face, as they made their way through the wreckage of the Entrance Hall, where Grawp had destroyed part of the entry wall. It had started to hit home, and they let it creep it into their minds about all who had died in the past couple of hours: Fred, Remus, Tonks, and Colin to name a few. The whole large Weasley clan was huddled around Fred's lifeless body as it lay on the long house table belonging to the great house of Gryffindor. Ron jogged ahead of his two best friends to meet up with his family, making his way over to his grief-stricken mother. Carefully he gave her a hug, letting her know that he was feeling the same as her, though her loss was greater because Fred was her son. He was there to remind her that everything would turn out in the end. When Harry and Hermione really saw his face, dirty, bloody, and tear-stained, and they knew the feelings were all there, and all real. Hermione walked over to George, who looked so forlorn and completely at a loss, and hugged him; wrapping her arms around his middle. He looked down at her in surprise but hugged her back tightly nonetheless. She let him cry over her, knowing it was the only way that he could get past everything that happened. She rubbed his back reassuringly so that she would be here as long as he needed her. Harry looked around for one member of the Weasley family to comfort, but his task was cut short when a smaller body collided into the side of his larger one. Ginny had pretty much launched herself at his person, hugging him to her petite body with bone-crushing strength; a skill she had obviously picked up from her mother. He let her cry, to her hearts content. Violent sobs wracked her body as he held her, until her body went limp, tears refusing to fall from her eyes any longer. Harry really didn't want to let go of her, he wanted for them to stay like this forever.
After her sniffles had stopped and the tears were no longer flowing over, she pulled back from the embrace and leaned back. "Go," she said, her hazel eyes looking intently at his emerald ones, trying to regain some semblance of composure. "See Remus and Tonks."
Harry nodded almost imperceptibly, trying his hardest to hold his tears back, but failing miserably as he saw Remus' face. It was strangely calm, no worry lines or the frown that was perpetually on his face; he was constantly worrying about all of this war stuff, and for Harry's wellbeing, and the wellbeing of his recently born child. Harry thought of Teddy; his parents would never get to see him grow up, he would never get to say the words 'Dada' or 'Momma' and really mean it. He would never learn to control his changing abilities because the only person who really knew how was Nymphadora. Thoughts flew through his head like wildfire until they settled on one, he was a murderer. Albeit, he had killed for a good reason – to rid the world of the most evil wizard of all time – but he had still killed someone. And moreover, he felt he was responsible for the deaths of so many other people: Dumbledore, Cedric, Sirius, Fred, Tonks, Remus, and Colin to name a few. This list could really go on and on. Harry didn't know how he could live with himself. He tore his eyes away from his grieving 'family' and ran; out of the Great Hall, out of the half-destroyed Entrance Hall, and all the way down the sloping lawns until he was retracing his steps the night he chased Snape after killing Dumbledore, all the way to Hagrid's hut – which was amazingly still standing.
He stumbled on the loose rock and debris that had made its way out here from the Great Hall and castle, probably from the retreat of the acromantulas. The shack was still intact for the most part, even the front door was still on its hinges. He opened the massive door and immediately climbed under the sturdy table on which he had had many tea sessions with the massive half-giant teacher. Harry was just trying to hide himself from the rest of the world; a world he now hated had ever existed. He hated the fact that he wasn't yet 18 and he had to be the hero of the world, save everyone from Voldemort, and he just wanted it all to go away. He wanted to lead a normal life, dealing with girl issues and playing Quidditch, and being a regular teenage boy. Nearly an hour passed with him just sitting there, not talking, just staring ahead at the door to the hut. He rocked back and forth, holding his knobbly knees close to his chest as if they would break away if he let go. He cried to his hearts content, not wanting anyone else to see him in such a deplorable state and being the weakling that he felt like at the current moment. After a while, the tears just stopped coming all together, leaving his eyes aching for relief. It was then he heard someone approach the door. "Go away!" he shouted when they knocked on the door.
The person didn't budge. They carefully opened the door, leaving time for Harry to hex them if he so chose to. Then he blinked his eyes, focusing. He say the hips of a female with red hair hanging straight down to her lower back; to cap it off, he knew it was Ginny Weasley, back to check on him. "Harry?" she asked tentatively, trying not to set him over the edge. "Please, come back inside, everyone's really worried about you."
"Why would they all be worried about me? I'm the Boy-Who-Bloody-Lived. They should be worrying about themselves. They are the ones that constantly need to be protected and reassured that everything is going to be okay," he said angrily. "I just want to be left alone."
"WHY? You seriously need to ask me that?" Harry asked incredulously, crawling out from under his table, taking in her tear stained face. "I've killed people, I let people die for me; how could anyone ever forgive me for that. I can't even forgive myself for that."
"No one blames you, Harry. Everyone in the Order, the DA, and otherwise, knew what they were getting themselves into when the came her tonight to fight. They chose their own fate, whether they left here alive or dead; you didn't hurt them."
"I as good as killed them though," he protested, pleading with her to see his point.
"It doesn't matter anymore! WE STILL LOVE YOU!" Ginny shouted, making sure that he really heard what she was saying.
He sat there in silence for a while, mulling what she said over in his head. She just stood there, waiting patiently for him to realize that she was telling the truth, and that was all that mattered. The Weasley's would still love him no matter what; they practically adopted him; and the elder Weasley's already referred to him as one of their children. He couldn't just turn his back on them now, now after everything they had done for him over the years; and that would mean losing any chance he still had with Ginny. After contemplating the results of his impending decision, he looked down at her. She was looking him in the eye, a fierce look of determination in her eyes, one look which he had seen only once before; that day back in his 6th year when they had their first kiss. Harry looked deep into her amber eyes and knew almost instantaneously that what she was saying was the truth; there were people who would still love him no matter what he had done or who he killed.
Ginny held out her hand and pleaded silently with her eyes for him to take it, to give him more assurance that she wasn't going to run away like he expected everyone to do. He allowed himself to slip his hand into hers, entwining their fingers, and his large hand encasing hers. This was the moment when he felt the most secure in the entire past year. They made their way back to the Gryffindor tower, his home for the past six years. The sun was just coming up over the horizon now, but they all knew that sleep would come to them no matter what time of day it was. Once back in the Great Hall, they suggested to the rest of her family and Hermione that they get to the tower for some rest, so they could start the clean-up the next day; after all, they had been up since the previous day at dawn getting ready to fight, going at it all through the night.
Everyone agreed heartily to the suggestion; so no matter what house people originally came from, they all herded up to Gryffindor tower, and the Fat Lady let them all in, password or not. Unity was something that they all needed at the moment and were willing to provide that small amount of comfort to each other. Ron helped Hermione support George up the stairs to the first year beds, where he collapsed from exhaustion almost instantly. Everyone else headed toward the dormitories that were closest to them, and the charm had been broken on the girls staircase by Professor McGonagall so that everyone could sleep where they could. Ron and Harry trudged their way up to the top most dormitory, which would have been theirs if they had come back to Hogwarts for their seventh year of schooling. Seamus and Neville had shared it this year until they were forced into hiding in the Room of Requirement, Dean couldn't have come back this year due to the ban on Muggle-born students. They had been extremely lonely but now that they were all reunited, it was almost like old times. Before either one of their heads hit the pillows, Ron and Harry fell asleep.
Meanwhile, up in the girls dormitory, Hermione and Ginny were sharing a bed; being closer to someone else typically helped, but that was just not the case tonight. They lay there, eyes closed, willing sleep to come to their exhausted bodies, but it stayed well off in the distance.
"Ginny?" Hermione mumbled after a while.
"Can you sleep at all?"
"No," Ginny sighed in a conceding manner. Hermione quickly thought of a way to remedy their current sleep situation. Maybe it wasn't a girl they needed to be next to; somehow, maybe a male presence could make all the difference.
"You wanna go up to Ron and Harry's room? See if we can sleep up there with them?" Hermione said hopefully. "I mean… I haven't not sleep in the same room with them for such a long time, I have gotten quite used to it."
"Sure," Ginny said, secretly hoping that Hermione came up with an idea like this. Both girls slipped out of their bed and tip toed over to the door, opening it slowly so it wouldn't creak and wake up the other occupants of the room. Once they made their way down the stairs, they saw everyone who didn't have a room in the tower. There were bodies strewn all over the available furniture as well as in conjured sleeping bags. Scarcely was there anywhere for the girls to walk over to the guys room but they tip toed around all the people, trying their hardest not to wake them. They climbed up to the boys' dorm room, careful not to wake anyone in the rooms on the way up. Each new landing brought the different sounds of snores coming from all the rooms' occupants. Finally, they reached their destination, the top floor of the tower.
Ginny pushed the large door open quietly and walked over to Harry's bed. It was the only one where the covers were completely twisted around him and his hair looked even more tousled than usual. He was thrashing about slightly, as if he was having yet another nightmare. Ginny gingerly covered his hand with her small one and the twitching immediately stopped. She peeled the covers back and slipped under, pulling Harry's arm around in the process. With one quick tug, the rest of the covers returned to a somewhat normal spot, and not wrapped around his legs. He was so tired and deeply asleep that her movements didn't disturb him in the slightest. If anything, his arms tightened around her and she smiled into his chest. She fell straight to sleep, as if there had been no time that she had been wasting, staring at the ceiling of the girls' dorm. Hermione however, walked over to Ron's bed and tapped his arm. He peaked one eye open blearily, but nodded in acknowledgement, groaning just the same. Hermione paid no mind to his noises, knowing full well that she never liked being woken up.
"Do you mind? I can't sleep," she said quietly, trying not to wake up any of the other guys in the room.
"Of course not," he mumbled. She pulled the covers back and snuggled her face into his warm chest. He wrapped the covers back around her and then did the same thing with his arms. They always felt protective around her; they were something she could always rely on. Hermione breathed in deep, letting the scent that was truly Ron fill her senses, finally putting her mind at ease. It only took a few more minutes, feeling his breathing and listening to his heart beat so she could fall asleep once more.
Molly Weasley was the first to enter the boys' dorm where her son and Harry were sleeping, when they were still sleeping. Everyone else had woken up a few hours ago and left them to sleep it off. She looked at the beds and notices that they were lumpier than they were supposed to be and the Harry's bed had four feet sticking out of the bottom of the covers. She would get to him in a minute, but Ron needed to be yelled at. She marched right over to his bed and saw that he wasn't the only occupant. "Ronald Bilius Weasley!" she shouted.
Ron woke with a start, thinking that they were going to be attacked again and he needed to protect Hermione; horrid reflexes he had picked up from the journey over the past year. He had his wand trained on his mother in less than a moment, and his other arm tightened its hold around Hermione's body, as if to protect her from the dangers that were threatening them right now. When he realized his mother he seriously considered keeping his wand up but decided against it; he put it away under his pillow and curled his wand arm around Hermione as well. He guessed he should let his mother know that things were going to be a bit different from now on. "What on earth do you think you're doing to Hermione?"
"Well, I was sleeping…" he trailed off, nuzzling his nose into Hermione's soft brown hair, hoping his mother would take the hint and leave, but he was completely wrong, as per usual.
"Don't you dare get smart with me young man, you know very well what I meant," she said, a stern look on her face; one which she usually reserved for the twins when they were starting their work on Weasley Wizard Wheezes. "Why in Merlin's name is Hermione in your bed?"
"Ask her," Ron said tiredly. He tapped her on the shoulder and gently tried to coax her to wake up. "Mione, come on love, time to wake up."
"No, le' me slee'," she groaned before burying her head deeper into his chest, grabbing his shirt to pull him closer to her. Ron just looked up at his mother, who was already swelling with anger, and gave her an apologetic shrug. He hugged Hermione closer to him and closed his eyes, falling straight back to sleep. Mrs. Weasley was still angry and just decided to share the wealth with her youngest child. She walked over to Harry's bed first to check up on him, but screamed in anger.
"Ginevra Molly Weasley!" Ginny woke up with a placid look on her face, like the situation she found herself in were something she dealt with all the time. At the shriek of Molly Weasley, he woke up as well, but he was far from serene. Harry was really pale and looked very afraid of what Mrs. Weasley could, and most likely would, do to him.
"Morning mum," Ginny said before yawning wide and stretching, resembling a cat. Harry on the other hand looked like a fish out of water. He couldn't form any words but kept opening and closing his mouth. He remained stiff as a board.
"Mrs. Weasley, er. Hi. I'm sorry, I can explain…" he tried to stutter out but Ginny stopped him before he could get out his whole apology by slapping a hand across his mouth.
"Hermione and I couldn't sleep, so we came up here. Just something familiar you know?" Ginny explained, trying to make her face as innocent as possible. Mrs. Weasley's glare softened a bit, but not by much.
"Don't you ever let me catch you doing this again," she said. Mrs. Weasley turned on her heel and left the room. Ginny was wide awake by this time and was sitting up in bed. She swung her long legs over the side of the bed.
"Where are you going?" asked Harry, shocked that she didn't want to go back to the bed. He didn't even need to ask why she was there in the first place, because somehow he thought she had ulterior motives, other than the ones she had told her mother. He felt a familiar twinge in the pit of his stomach when he woke up to see her in his arms again; but he shook it aside for the time being. He didn't need to be thinking about himself at a time like this, there were so many other people who were hurting and injured.
"I'm just gonna go get dressed, you should think about doing the same," she said, grinning broadly at him. She hopped off the bed and started to walk out of the dormitory but stopped before she left. "You should really think about cleaning yourself up, looking a bit scruffy now." And with a giggle, she left the room, leaving him alone with the sleeping forms of Ron and Hermione.
Harry laughed to himself as he gazed at his two best friends; they had finally realized their feelings for each other, after all the shite they put each other through over the years, especially the past few months, and they acted on it. He remembered the kiss they had shared just the day before, though it seemed like a lifetime ago. He wished he could feel like that with Ginny once more. Harry threw the covers off himself and slid quietly from the bed, and padded across the cold stone floor to the bathroom. Once he took a look in the mirror he was shocked. He really did need to shave; his beard and mustache was starting to become quite apparent and was scraggly over the past few days when he hadn't had the time to use the razor Fleur's parents had given him for his birthday or cast the spell. The mop of hair that was on his head was a mess, but reaching down to his shoulders. His glasses were scratched beyond belief and so dirty he was surprised he could even see out of them. He took them off and cleaned them on the towel near the sink.
Harry turned around and locked the door and began to strip off his dirt and blood-stained clothes. Once they were off, he began to look over the rest of his body to check for the rest of the damage. He found little more than he already knew he had. There were still the pinkish burns from the Gringotts incident. Hermione had helped heal them as much as she could with the limited resources they had at that moment. There was scratches all over from falling debris and there was a scar on his chest from the horcrux. It was oval in shape and he surmised that it would never go away, just like the scar on his head; which seemed strangely faded after everything. He also had a jagged line going down his stomach where he was hit with the killing curse once more when he was out in the woods. It didn't hurt, but he also felt like this one wasn't going away either. There was one thing on his person that hadn't changed over the past few months; they were still as green and vivacious as ever.
The teen turned on the shower and stepped in. it was the first shower he had had since Shell Cottage, which felt like it had been ages ago, and before that he hadn't had one since the Burrow before Bill and Fleur's wedding. He let the hot water flow over his bruised and battered body, healing all of his little aches and pains. The water felt so good all over his healed burns. About thirty minutes later, he had scrubbed all the dirt from his body, leaving his skin pink from the scrubbing and the water, and all the grime out of his hair, so he turned the water off and conjured a towel to wrap around his body. He brushed his teeth with the toothbrush that magically appeared on the vanity sink; it felt so good to have his teeth physically clean, not just using a spell to do it once in a while. Replacing his battered old glasses on the bridge of his nose and he could really not see through all the scratches; so he took them off again and pointed his wand at them. "Oculus Reparo," he muttered, not even bothering with nonverbal spells. The glasses repaired themselves instantly.
Harry poked his head out of the bathroom, all the steam billowing out around him, and checked if Hermione and Ron were still there, but they had just drawn the hangings around their bed and so no one else could comment on them being in bed together. He walked out of the bathroom, with just a towel around his waist and walked over to his bed, sitting down on it. "Kreacher," he said quietly.
CRACK. "Master Harry is calling Kreacher?" the elf asked, bowing low.
"Is there anyway that you can get me some clothes from home? And Hermione and Ron as well?" Harry inquired. "We've pretty much been in the same clothes for the past few months."
"Of course, Master Harry, anything for the one who defeated the Dark Lord," Kreacher said, bowing out of the room; he left with a CRACK. Kreacher was back soon with a freshly laundered pile of clothes for him, Hermione, and Ron. Harry quickly got dressed as soon as Kreacher left the room. After he was done, he laid out the other sets of clothes on the bed next to the sleeping couple. Harry left the dormitory quietly, not even shutting the door; for fear that he would wake more people up. He traipsed down the spiral staircase but stopped at the bottom when he heard some loud sounds.
"What do you think you're doing?" Mrs. Weasley was saying, arguing fiercely with Ginny.
"Mum, it was only a one time thing. When I went up there he was having a fit or something, but I guess it was just a nightmare. When I touched him, all his muscles relaxed, the dream went away. Being near him, it just makes me feel so safe, I don't know, I just want to be around him."
"Safe has absolutely nothing to do with it. Listen, I know you're a teenage girl, and you get these urges, and I love Harry with all my heart; but he's a hormonal teen age boy. He could have taken advantage of you," Molly cried out. "I don't want my little girls' reputation sullied by the likes of a young boy."
"No, Harry's nothing like that… he would never do that to me," Ginny argued fiercely. "I can't believe you would even think like that." Harry warmed at the thought of Ginny defending him to her mother.
"I've raised six boys before you, and I think I would know how they can act. I have caught your brothers and girls before," Molly said.
"Well Harry wouldn't do that," Ginny said angrily.
"He's almost eighteen, his hormones are running his body; he couldn't possibly thinking rationally when a willing girl crawled into his bed last night," Molly said, scoffing.
"I was not a willing girl," Ginny yelled, not bothering to keep her voice down now. All the sleeping patrons of Gryffindor tower were up and out for the most part. "He wasn't in any condition to do anything to me anyway last night. We were both wearing all of our clothes if you didn't remember. I wouldn't sleep with him after everything that has happened anyway, it would be way to soon."
"But you slept in the same bed as him?" Molly asked.
"He's my friend above everything else," Ginny pointed out.
"So you two are friends?"
"For the time being," Ginny conceded.
"Would you take me back eventually then?" said Harry quietly, making his presence know to the two fighting women.
"What?" Ginny and Molly shouted together, clearly startled by the appearance of Harry. They wheeled around to face him, still standing at the bottom of the stairs.
"Eventually, would you take me back?" Harry asked again.
"I – I don't know," Ginny stammered, wondering how long he had been standing there.
"I heard the whole thing," he confirmed, almost as if he was reading her mind.
"Oh," Mrs. Weasley gasped, wishing she could take back all she had said. She was also startled at the fact that Harry said to take him 'back'.
"Mrs. Weasley, don't worry, Ginny won't be sleeping in my bed for those reasons. I'll just say this; if she ever feels the need to be comforted, I am always there." Harry spoke with a maturity beyond his years.
"You said back?" Molly asked.
"Yeah, we kinda dated at the end of last year," Harry said, rubbing the back of his head and blushing slightly.
"And how did I not notice this?" Molly asked Ginny, her hands on her hips. Ginny turned to Harry and smiled sheepishly.
"I'll tell her," she said. "Go down to the Great Hall, or what ever you were gonna do."
"Okay then," Harry said, smiling at the two Weasley women. Ginny walked over and gave him a big hug, radiating all the apologies that she could muster. Harry left the common room and headed down to the Great Hall to start cleaning up the mess that was left over from the previous night. He was met by Kreacher.
"Master Harry, what is you doing down here?" the elf asked. "You is supposed to be resting, we is supposed to be helping clean up."
"No Kreacher, you and the house-elves have fought just as hard as we did. You and the rest need to sleep as well," Harry insisted. Kreacher bowed his head and vanished out from the room. Harry began vanishing the rocks and debris from the side of the Great Hall nearest the doors and progressively worked his way back to the staff table. After a few hours, Harry had made a sizable dent in the debris in this main room before others started to join him. After a while, they all go the room cleared; Harry Dean, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Seamus, Ginny, Luna, among others. After everything was done, Kinglsey came over and shook his hand.
"You have shown great courage beyond everyone's wildest dreams, Harry. You stood toe to toe with the wizard who has been feared by all, with the exception possibly of Dumbledore, for the past thirty years at least. You talked to him like he was no one of importance, like another human being, and then finished the war. You defeated the Dark Lord. I couldn't be more proud of you; you're your parents' son, through and through."
"Thank you, sir. I couldn't have done it with out a lot of help. Hermione and Ron were there from the beginning. The Order kept a large part of keeping me alive and I really couldn't have done a lot of this without the Weasley's taking me into their home."
"So what really happened last night?" Kingsley asked. Harry told his part of the story briefly, but it was a really watered down version, and Kingsley just stood there and looked shocked. 'No one could have possibly gone through what this boy has gone through and make it out alive,' he thought. "I really think it would mean a lot to the people here if you told everyone what really happened, I think; if you didn't leave anything out," he said. Harry had left out the parts about Ron leaving, the Deathly Hallows, Snape's memories, and his conversation with Dumbledore. Harry told Kingsley to get everyone together, after they had a decent meal, he would tell everyone. But he really only wanted to do this once so he needed everyone to be there that wanted to hear about this. Kinglsey tried to get him to talk about interviews but he already decided. He would talk to two sources, the Daily Prophet, on his own terms, and the Quibbler. Harry spotted Ron and Hermione over by the entrance of the Great Hall so he went over to talk to them.
"So can I ask you two a question?" Harry asked.
"Sure," Hermione shrugged.
"Are you two together now? Finally got to your senses or what?" he asked, enforcing the point that they needed to figure everything out.
"Yeah well, mum noticed us in bed," Ron said, wincing slightly, not really giving a straight answer.
"Your mother saw us?" Hermione said fearfully, her face paling slightly.
"I tried to wake you up but you told me no," he chuckled to himself. "I've learned over the years that I should try not to tell you anything other than what you say."
"Funny, Ronald, very funny. What did your mother say?" said Hermione, looking horrified.
"Well, I don't remember if she said anything at all, I fell back asleep as soon as possible," said Ron. "Bit I promise, we'll tell her soon if you'd like."
"Yes I would like that," said Hermione, now smiling up at him. Ron gave her a big hug at this news. Harry remembered their first kiss very vividly, seeing as he was right next to them when it happened. He was very happy for his best friends, knowing that they had secretly fancied each other for years now, no matter what they told other people. Ron had learned his lesson with the 'Lavender incident' and Hermione knew not to mention the Yule ball or Viktor Krum to him again, unless she wanted to deal with a temper tantrum.
As his friends hugged, Harry surveyed the Great Hall. It was now filled with everyone who fought last night. The bodies of the fallen hero's had been moved to an empty classroom, waiting until they could be put to rest. "Kreacher?"
"Master Harry is wanting something?" Kreacher appeared and asked, bowing low.
"Umm… well, if the rest of the house-elves are up for it, we sure could use a descent meal," Harry asked tentatively.
"Of course, we have slept for too long as it is, Kreacher will alert them straight away. When would Master Harry be wanting his food?"
"As soon as possible," Harry said quickly, trying to cover the sounds of his grumbling stomach. He hadn't eaten a descent meal since they left Fleur's and not for months before that; but he hadn't really eaten anything other than the scraps from the Hogs Head two days ago.
About fifteen minutes later, tumultuous amounts of food appeared on the house tables and everyone was sitting in the different places, not just at their house tables. All the children seemed to be sitting together, while the families were not far off. The food was good, but the company was better. They all ate their fill and still had leftovers to pick at later during Harry's speech. Harry, Hermione, and Ron were still on the thin side, since they have not been eating properly since the wedding. Kingsley walked up to the front of the room after everyone seemed to be done eating and conjured up three arm chairs and put his wand to his throat. "Sonorus. If I could have your attention please," Kingsley's deep voice emanated throughout the hall. "I have some news to deliver. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley have decided to share their story over the past year. This is a story of hardship and determination, and I suggest you sit and listen to what they have to say about the defeat of You-Know-Who."
Harry stood up from his bench, Hermione and Ron following suit, and walked up to the front of the room, and took his seat in the armchair on the end, leaving Hermione and Ron to sit next to each other. He pointed his wand at his throat and muttered the amplifying spell. "Hi everyone. I would like to start off to by saying how sorry I am for this war affecting the families all over the country. I know you must have suffered at the hand of Voldemort, and I do wish you all the condolences in the world." Harry turned to Kingsley. "Where should I start?"
"I'm sure we're all wondering what happened the night that Professor Dumbledore died," Kingsley suggested, hoping to shed some light on the subject for once in nearly a year.
"Alright then," Harry said, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "Professor Dumbledore had been giving me private lessons all that year, to get me ready for the war, but it was really just learning about the horcruxes; I'll explain them later. But the day the Dumbledore died, he took me on a trip. We went to this old cave that was surrounded by a lake, really rough place if you ask me. We actually had to go into the cave to get the horcrux he thought was there. We had to pay the wall in blood to even gain entrance, so already it seemed really bad. Inside, there was a large lake, and in the middle of the lake there was an island with a large goblet on it. Dumbledore somehow figured out there was an invisible boat or something; something about magical traces and such.
"So we took the boat to the island and there was the locket at the bottom of the liquid. You couldn't get it by hand, so someone had to drink the potion away. I offered to do it, but Dumbledore made me promise to make him drink it all, force him if I had to. I wasn't quick to agree but there was really no other choice, we all know how stubborn he was." There was a chuckle through the crowd. "It made him mad, and he kept screaming for me to kill him, and I guess he was reliving all the past things that he had done. We got the locket but we were attacked by the inferi that were just under the water of the lake. It took a lot of fire but we got out of the cave and managed to apparate back to Hogsmeade. We saw the dark mark above the tower so we needed to get there as soon as possible. All Dumbledore could do was tell me to get Severus Snape. But Draco Malfoy came in; Voldemort had told him to kill Dumbledore, which he couldn't do. All he could do was disarm him. Dumbledore froze me under the invisible cloak that I own, so I was not seen, heard, nor could I move at all.
"There were a few more death eaters who came up to see us but they did nothing because Draco was supposed to do it. In the end Severus came up and killed him, Avada and all. I knew the moment he was dead because I was released from the spells he put on me. You have no idea how pissed I was that Snape, the teacher whom most of us really hated even though Dumbledore told us time and again that we could trust him, killed him in the end. But you were all there for the funeral."
"We all had made plans," Hermione said, picking up where Harry left off. "Ron and I wouldn't let him go on this mission that Dumbledore gave him all alone. So we ended up rescuing him from his relative's house with a whole cadre of Order members. We all decided early on to help out Harry so we had seven Potter's leave his house; but our coverage was blown when Voldemort and the Death Eaters showed up. One of our ranks was killed, Alastor Moody, and we couldn't have been sadder. George Weasley also lost his ear during the fight as well."
"We stayed at my house until the wedding of my oldest brother Bill," Ron continued. "We had everything planned out, with some hindrance from my mum, but that's beside the point." Molly looked like she was ready to scold him, but held her tongue when Arthur reached over and held her hand. "The night before the wedding, Scrimgeour comes to the house because he's finally done meddling with Dumbledore's will. They wouldn't even give us all the stuff. I got this thinger called a Deluminator, and it can give and take light from different things; kinda nifty if you ask me. Hermione got a book, and Harry was supposed to get the sword of Gryffindor but the Ministry couldn't give it because it belonged to the school apparently."
"Yeah, well, got in a huge fight with him, and he threatened me, shocker," Harry said sarcastically. "Anyway, the wedding was a nice affair, lots of people. But the Death Eaters had to take over the ministry and they just had to gate crash the wedding after they killed Scrimgeour. So Ron, Hermione, and I hot-footed out of there, out to some street in Muggle London. Somehow the Death Eaters found us, and we thought I still had the trace on me, but that was impossibly because I had already turned 17. So we fought them off and apparated to my house."
"What house?" Oliver Wood asked from the crowd, puzzled that his former team mate who was younger than himself would have a house, while he was still struggling to maintain his flat with his roommate.
"Why my godfather, Sirius Black, was murdered, I inherited his house," Harry answered quietly – or as quietly as he could while still having the voice magnification charm on. "We stayed there for a while, trying to figure out why the horcrux we thought we found when Dumbledore and I were in the cave was a fake, and the person who stole it was RAB. This turned out to be someone just under our noses. We were in the Black family house, scouring the place, when we stumbled upon his younger brother's room; Regulus Arcturus Black. He was a Death Eater, but in the end he knew that he was in too deep and that he tried to get out. He got to the horcrux and hid it in the house. Funnily enough when we had been cleaning a few years back, we had found the real locket and were unable to open it, so we put it in a pile to give away. Thankfully my house elf Kreacher took the locket and hid it, among other things. Then the fool Mundungus Fletcher stole it, along with a slew of other things from my house, so we got Kreacher to track him down."
"Oh Merlin, the best thing was when Kreacher found him," Ron laughed heartily. "He whacked him in the head with a cast-iron frying pan. It was the best, and we had to stop him from keeping it up."
Kreacher was smiling at the mentioning of his name and the fact that he really wish they would have let him continue his assault.
"Well, we found out that Mundungus got the locket confiscated by a woman who looked like a toad and had a bow on her head, three guesses who that was?" Hermione smirked at the members of the DA present. "That's right Delores Umbridge had the locket, so we got our next plan of action; Infiltrate the Ministry."
"We stalked out the place for weeks, trying to get someone's routine down," Harry said. "We got three people to impersonate and got the locket, but we almost got caught so we tried to apparate back to my house, on the top step because it's unplottable. They grabbed on, so we couldn't stay at the compromised house and Hermione took us somewhere."
"We went to the Forest of Dean, but we didn't stay in any one place for too long," Hermione picked up. "We scavenged for food, leaving money for people who we took food from, and we each took turns wearing the necklace with the locket because it caused really negative emotions and if we wore it for too long, then we got really, really cranky; not too pleasant."
"Yeah, it was pretty bad; that coupled with the fact that we barely ate any food, it got pretty rough. And at one point I just couldn't take it, so I left them and I went to my brothers' house," Ron said. Molly gasped but was quieted when he went on. As soon as I left the camp I was caught by snatchers but I managed to get away. I felt really, really awful leaving like I did, but the horcrux was screwing with my feelings and I just couldn't handle it any more."
"After he left, we moved around a bit more, but on Christmas Eve, as we later found out, Harry and I went to Godric's hollow. He really wanted to see his parents and the house that he was living in when he was nearly killed as a baby," Hermione said. "We met up with Bathilda Bagshot and followed her to her house but there was something off. As it turns out, she had been dead and Nagini, Voldemort's snake, had taken up residence in her body. Voldemort nearly go us but we ended up getting away at the last second."
"We moved around a lot after that as well, but the one day there was a doe patronus in the woods we were staying at, so I followed it," Harry said. "Hermione had no idea where I went so I was to apologize for that first." Hermione nodded in acceptance. "But it lead me to a frozen pond where the Sword of Gryffindor was, and we knew we needed it to destroy the horcruxes. It was imbued with Basilisk venom from the thing in my second year, so it was ideal for destroying those suckers. I dove in, but I still had the horcrux around my neck, so it nearly choked me to death, were it not for Ron."
"I heard them talking through the Deluminator so I clicked it; and it took me to a place where they had been. I kept clicking until I saw Harry follow that doe patronus so I followed him. I guess it was a good thing because it seemed like he wasn't coming up out of the pond so I dove in after him. He let me destroy the damn locket," Ron said. Hermione scolded him for his swearing and he blushed from the tips of his ears. "Anyway, after she beat the snot out of me, we really just tried to step up the search. We did listen to Potter watch as well."
"And a big thank you to those who kept that going, it really helped us stay grounded and keep at what we were doing," Harry said. "But it was my stupid fault that we got into our next mess. We figured out there was a trace on his name, all thanks to Ron. But I was being a hot shot one night and I said Voldemort's name. So we were captured by Snatchers and taken to Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix Lestrange was insane and tortured Hermione for I don't know how long while Ron and I were in the basement with Ollivander, Luna Lovegood, Griphook the goblin, and Dean Thomas. Eventually we were visited by an unexpected guest, Dobby the house elf."
"And if anyone here knows Harry, you'll know this little bugger who painted pictures of him and always got him miss-matched socks," Ron chuckled. "He was really brave, getting us all out of there like that. Bella killed him in the end, knifed him in the heart. We buried him outside Bill and Fleur's house, which was where he took us. We stayed there for a while until Griphook was better. Then we made out plans to break into Gringotts."
"That was a fiasco all on its own," Hermione said. "I had to polyjuice Bellatrix and transfigure Ron into someone else, and Harry was under the invisibility cloak. Griphook betrayed us by taking the sword, but we still got the horcrux that was in her vault. We actually hijacked a dragon from the lower levels and flew on out of there. They probably aren't too happy with us."
"Yeah, well, we went to Hogsmeade after our little dragon debacle, and ran into Aberforth Dumbledore, who helped us into the castle. Most of you know what happened once we were in the castle. We found and destroyed another horcrux; Ravenclaw's lost diadem and Hufflepuff's cup. But when he gave that ultimatum, I went," Harry said. "I went out to meet him, and he killed me."
There was a terrible collective gasp among the crowd and a murmuring of how he could have possibly done such a thing. "I know it was rather stupid of me, but what can I say, I'm reckless." Chuckles went through the crowd. "He killed me and I went to this strange place and I got to talk to Dumbledore. It was a lovely conversation, don't get me wrong, but I was ready to come back to you people. So I pretended to be dead and Voldemort believe it, all thanks to Narcissa Malfoy. She told him the lie that saved my life. Then yeah, you all know what happened from there.
"I just wanna thank you all for taking the time to listen to our adventure, and I hope it put some of your minds at rest about what happened," Harry said. "Thank you Minister Shacklebolt, for allowing us to let the 'public' know our part of the story, and I would like to formally ask for a pardon for the Malfoy family, as well as Severus Snape, posthumously. He was killed and his body is still in the Shrieking Shack. He died from a bite from Nagini and he gave me all his memories, and he is definitely Order of Merlin First class, if there is nothing else higher. He has done so much for us, and we didn't even think to care about what it was doing to him."
"Your requests are acknowledged and are going to be put into the works in the immediate future, as well as Order of Merlin first class for you, Hermione, and Ron. You three really helped save our world from the worst tyrant in history."
"Thank you," Harry said, and he quieted his voice and sat back down in the chair. Everyone was now talking about what they had just been told, but the trio was ready to go back to bed, so they slipped out of the Great Hall to do just that.
To those who have read this story before, please let me know what you think. To those who haven't read this before, let me know what you think = )