Today was the day the funeral would be held. He had dreaded the Lupin's funerals just as bad as he was now dreading Fred's. They were having Fred's at eight that morning and then a memorial service for all victims of the battle at five that afternoon in the Great Hall. Another thing causing Harry stress was the school would be open all day to any student wanting to gather their belongings; it would not reopen until the next term.
Molly had told them all to get dressed and wait in the common room and they would all leave together. Harry entered the common room dressed in his best black suit. Neville and Fleur were already there and waiting. They were talking so Harry chose a chair and sat quietly. There was a lull in the conversation and Harry was about to ask a question when the stair at the bottom of the girls side squeaked, he turned to see who was coming down.
Ginny stepped into the room. She was wearing a black dress that seemed to be a little long and loose on her frame. Harry stood as she approached and held out a hand and said, "Gin, I'm so sorry…"
Before he could express anything more she jerked away with a look of disgust on her face and said, "Don't touch me. You should be sorry, it's your fault he's dead. They should be putting you in Azkaban for what you have done. You disgust me; I hate you, don't ever try to touch me or even talk to me ever again. If I have to see your face again in my life it would be too soon." She swept past him and stormed out the portrait.
Harry was too stunned to speak. Fleur tried to explain, "Harry she doesn't mean that. She's just upset all these funerals so close together is hard on us all. She just doesn't know how to handle it. Give her some time, she'll come around I'm sure."
"But she's right."
"No she isn't." Fleur said, "No one else in the family feels that way at all."
"I've got to go." Harry said.
"Wait." Neville stopped him, "I'll come with you."
"Fleur, don't say anything to anyone ok." Harry pleaded.
"You will be at the funeral?" she asked and he nodded in reply.
They left and Fleur sat on the chair to wait on the rest. Bill was the first one down and noticed she was upset, "You doing ok?"
"I'll be fine. I need to use the powder room; I'll be back in a second."
Harry attended Fred's funeral and stood by Neville at the far end away from Ginny. He wanted to look and see how she was doing but he just couldn't do it. He was afraid of seeing the look of disgust on her face again. They returned to the school afterward and Harry spent the day in the Room of Requirement. He had no desire to see or talk to anyone. A little after noon the door opened and Neville came in carrying a tray of food.
He sat it down in front of Harry, "You have to eat something. And don't tell me you're not hungry I could hear your stomach from across the room."
He ate quietly and Neville didn't disturb him until he was finished, "Do you want to talk about it?"
"I love her, she hates me. What's there to talk about?" He said sullenly.
"She doesn't hate you." Neville said, "For all the stuff that happened to us in the last year she never blamed you. She never hated you. She always insisted you were alive and working to defeating Voldemort. I can't help but think the stress has just gotten to her and she snapped. If anyone else would have tried to approach her she would have blamed them. Don't take it personally."
"It's hard not to when I blame myself." Harry said, "I keep thinking through all of it trying to find other ways it could have worked but I just can't come up with anything. I guess I'll never know."
They fell into a comfortable silence that lasted until Neville's watch started to beep, "Four thirty."
"Ok, let's go." Harry sighed.
When they reached the Great Hall Harry was stopped by Fleur while Neville went in to find his seat. Some seats were designated for people while others were open. Neville knew that he along with Harry, Hermione and the Weasley's were in saved seats so he went to locate them. He found Harry's name by Ginny's and his own name farther down. He picked up Harry's and moved all the others then he put Harry's down between Fleur's and his own seat. Harry followed a few minutes later and breathed a sigh of relief that several people were between him and Ginny again.
"Is Fleur alright?" Neville asked.
"Yes, she just asked me if I was still going to sign up for the Auror office." Harry gave Neville a small smile, "I told her I already had."
The memorial service lasted for three hours. When it was over Harry felt exhausted. Neville turned to ask Harry if he wanted to stay with him for a while when Fleur started talking, "Harry, Bill and I want you to come to Shell Cottage and stay."
"I don't want to impose." Harry said.
"Nonsense." She replied, "It is not an imposition. Besides, I have a few things I want to talk to you about."
Harry nodded and turned to Neville, "See you."
Neville watch his friend walk away saddened by the lot life had dealt him once again. As Neville turned to walk away with his Grandmother he realized he was angry with Ginny Weasley. Her behavior was far from normal, what had happened to the brave girl that had lead the DA with him this last year? Surely Fred's death couldn't change her that much.
Ginny may have been too wrapped up in her grief to notice they left without a word, but Hermione wasn't. She was wondering at Harry's mood. She hoped he would soon realize that none of this was his fault. He had to realize they would all be dead if he hadn't continued to fight, if he had given himself up any sooner.
Harry's next few weeks melted together into one grey lump. He knew he was depressed but couldn't seem to shake it. He received many letters from friends and admirers but he replied to very few. Hermione's and Ron's were some of the few. He ignored most of the questions in their letters and would just reply that he was doing fine. Fleur approached him one afternoon in June, "Harry, I have a friend of my fathers who would like to talk to you."
"I don't think…" Harry started.
But Fleur interrupted, "You must, this will be good for you. He runs an elite Auror training facility in France. He only invites the most talented and hardest working potential Aurors and he wants to talk to you."
"Fleur I've already signed up with our Aurors." Harry said, "I don't think Kingsley will let me out of it."
"This is training and Kingsley loves the idea." Fleur said, "Here is a note from him."
Harry read the note where Kingsley urged him to take this opportunity. Only three English Aurors have ever been invited into this facility and one was Harry's own Grandfather. It would be a boon for England if he were to be invited, "What do they teach there?"
"I do not know." She said, "They don't allow their techniques to be known by anyone. It is an intense six month program. You are not allowed any outside communication or visitors. We wouldn't see you until the New Year."
"Isn't our Auror program two years?" Harry asked, "Will I still have to complete it?"
"Yes it is and no you won't." Fleur said, "When you return you will be allowed to take the Auror final. I've already asked Kingsley that question. He said that your Grandfather was only the second person ever to get a perfect score on the final. One of the other program graduates was the first."
"When do I start?" Harry asked.
"Today." She said, "He will speak to you and if he likes you he will take you and your wand. Nothing else can go."
"Can you explain to everyone?"
"Yes I will. Do you want me to tell them why?"
"No, I don't want anyone else to blame Ginny." Harry grimaced, "I know you and Neville already do, but it's really not her fault. I feel the same way about the deaths as she does. I'm just not able to get over all those people who died because I was too slow."
"Harry…" Fleur started.
"I know. Maybe this program will help me work through it."
Harry sat and talked to the old man from the facility for a long time. After they were finished the man said, "You have some very large issues to overcome." Harry nodded but didn't interrupt, "Our program is designed to prepare you to deal with killing someone and losing someone before it actually happens. But you have already experienced this trauma. We can still help you deal with this. I am extending an invitation for you to join our program."
The old man stood and Harry followed. He stepped up to Fleur and spoke to her in French before turning back to Harry and saying, "Come my student."
Fleur watched them leave and then sent a note to Neville saying, "Sunday lunch at the Burrow. Noon."
The next day Bill and Fleur arrived at eleven and she helped Molly prepare lunch, "I invited Neville Longbottom to lunch today Mum. I have some news about Harry to share with you all."
"Is he alright?" Molly asked concerned.
"Yes. I'll explain more later."
After lunch Fleur addressed the table, "Harry has been given an excellent opportunity. He has been invited to attend the elite Auror training facility called IDATP. He had to leave yesterday."
Everyone was in awe except Hermione who looked like she was going to cry, "He didn't even say goodbye? Not even a note?"
"Couldn't." Ron said, "When you're invited you have to drop everything and leave now with just the clothes on your back and your wand."
"But…" she tried to say.
"Hermione," Fleur said, "the last English wizard invited was Harry's Grandfather. The Auror's are thrilled that he was invited. The English Auror program lasts two years. He will be able to pass our final when he returns in six months."
"Well I guess I just have to congratulate him in my first letter." She huffed.
"No letters are allowed." Ginny said dully, "Or visitors. Excuse me; I'm going to my room."
Neville watched her go with a hard look on his face. He still had not forgiven her for the way she treated Harry. He didn't deserve what she was doing to him. But this reaction was more what he expected from Ginny. She had bottled up her emotions and would deal with them in private.
Hermione caught his look and asked, "Neville, what's wrong."
"Nothing. I need to leave. Thanks for lunch Mrs. Weasley."
"Neville." Fleur said.
"I'm fine." He replied, "Just the reaction… I don't know what to think."
Though no one else in the room understood Neville's comment, Fleur did. This Ginny she knew how to deal with. The screaming Ginny from before was like a different person. Her complete turnaround was very confusing.
Five months later Neville found himself sitting in the Three Broomsticks drinking alone. He seemed to be mad at everyone. They were all sympathizing with Ginny. Telling her they were sure Harry was missing her terribly. How she was a good girlfriend waiting for him like she was. And she was there just sucking it all up. Never once did she correct them by telling them why he really left or how she really felt. She was really working it playing the lonely, depressed girlfriend.
As he sat with his back to the door he heard a group of rowdy girls slip into the booth behind him. He tried to ignore their gossip until the one behind him said Harry's name. He leaned back as if to relax with his head on the back of his seat in order to hear as much as possible.
As she told her story Neville began to feel sick. As she continued he felt sicker by the minute. He didn't want to hear anymore but he couldn't help it the girl wouldn't shut up. When they finally left Neville waited for a few minutes to calm down and then staggered out into the streets of Hogsmeade looking for the friends he had been bashing not more than an hour before. He located Dean and Seamus first and pulled them into a side street.
"Guys I need a favor." Both looked at him oddly, he hadn't been exactly nice recently, "I need you to find Ron, Hermione and Ginny and meet me in McGonagall's office. This is very important, it's about Harry."
"He's dead." Seamus said in a depressed voice.
"No, I'm sure he's fine." Neville said, "But when he finds out what I just heard he won't be. Just find them and hurry."
Neville stumbled away and Dean said, "Go find them; I'm going to help Neville."
Neville had managed to get about ten feet and was leaning over the fence getting sick. Dean grabbed him up and said, "Should it be the hospital instead?"
"No, I'm just really upset."
"What could possibly get you this upset?" Dean asked.
"I only want to say this once so you're just going to have to wait." Neville said. When they reached the front doors of the school Neville stumbled through the door right into Professor McGonagall. "Sorry Professor, are you alright?"
"I'm fine Mr. Longbottom," Minerva said, "Mr. Thomas are you taking him to the hospital?"
"No he wants to go to your office and talk." Dean said, "He won't say anything except he's very upset and it's about Harry.
"Seamus is getting Ron, Hermione and Ginny." Dean said.
"Need to have Fleur here too." Neville managed.
When they reached the office Minerva made the floo call and then sat in her chair to wait. Dean got Neville settled in a chair and then left to let the others into the office.
Fleur was the first into the room and saw Neville, "What's wrong?"
"It wasn't Ginny." Neville replied.
"What?" Fleur thought she knew what he was talking about but she wanted to make sure.
"Day of the funeral. Polyjuice." Neville spit out.
"We have to tell Harry." Fleur said, "We have to tell Ginny. Who did this to them? I will make them pay." She then slipped into French and Neville could no longer understand her words but he was sure there were some very creative curse words being used.
That thought humored him enough that when Ginny arrived he was able to at least try to apologize, "Ginny, I'm so sorry. I just thought it was stress that caused it. But then you acted all innocent and I got mad. I can't believe I thought you would… I'm just so sorry I didn't understand. Sorry I blamed you. Sorry that I actually thought something had gone wrong in your head or something. I just can't believe I fell for that. Harry's going to be so mad. I almost feel sorry for her but she deserves it after what she's done. Whatever prank you want to pull I'm in. I'll buy your supplies. I'll go to George and beg for his help. Please, please forgive me."
Ginny was completely confused, "I have no idea what you're talking about Neville. I know you've been mad at me but I don't know why. What's going on?"
"Neville why don't you allow me to explain the first half then you can explain the new part." Neville nodded and Fleur continued, "The day of Fred's funeral Neville and I were sitting in the common room waiting for all of you to join us. Ginny came down from the girl's dorm and started yelling at Harry. She said she hated him and blamed him for Fred's death. She said he should be locked up in Azkaban for what he did and that she never wanted to see him again. After she stormed out Neville and I tried to tell Harry that she was just traumatized by everything and that she didn't mean it. Neville evidentially found out today that it wasn't Ginny, but someone using polyjuice."
"Tell me who did this to us Neville." Ginny ground out.
"Romilda Vane." Neville said, "She was in her dorm getting her things when you started getting ready for the funeral. She stole some hairs from your brush and then went and attacked Harry."
"She is going to pay for this." Hermione was furious, "Ron we need to get George here."
"Wait," Neville said, "that's not the worst of it."
"What could be worse than that?" Dean asked.
"She has a camera and has been spending her year getting Ginny in just the right shot to make it look like she's dating every guy at Hogwarts. She plans on giving these pictures to Harry and then comforting him. She plans to comfort him right into… a trap."
"No." Hermione yelled, "She better not try that. That's disgusting. Trapping guys that way is for… degenerates."
Ron looked at Dean and Seamus. They had the same confused look Ron was sure was on his own face, "What are you talking about?"
"Sex." Neville said disgustedly.
They still looked clueless so Fleur said, "She plans on having sex with Harry and getting pregnant so that he'll have to marry her. Then she'll have beat Ginny for good. That deceitful little…"
"Exactly." Neville said.
"We have to get in contact with him." Ginny said in full blown panic, "We can't let her get to him first. We have to stop this. I'm going to be sick." Ron, Dean and Seamus nodded in agreement with her about being sick.
"Where is he exactly." Dean asked.
"IDATP." Ron said. Seamus was shocked but Dean just looked confused, "Insanely Difficult Auror Training Program. It's located somewhere in France. Only those considered to be the very best get invited to go for training. Ministries pay out the nose to get someone into that program. Harry's Grandfather was the last Englishman asked to join. Not even Auror Moody was good enough for their program."
"So can't we just write a letter warning him?" Dean asked.
"No communications allowed in or out." Seamus said, "One Auror's mother died and he didn't know it until three months later when he got finished. They don't allow any distractions."
"But they will help him with his guilt complex." Fleur said, "The reason he was able to believe Ginny meant those horrible things is because he believes them all himself."
"I'm going to hex her into next week." Hermione said standing.
"Wait." Ron grinned, "That's too easy. We need to think this through and plan it out. I think Harry will want to be part of this so we'll have to string it out a long time. She's going to feel the wrath of the Weasley's."
"You guys realize we have the Headmistress in here listening to your plans to prank the living daylights out of someone don't you." Seamus said.
"What's that Mr. Finnigan," Minerva smiled, "I believe I've gone quite deaf recently. I trust that no permanent damage will be done. "
"Of course not Professor." Ron said grinning evilly, "At least no permanent bodily damage to innocent bystanders."
Minerva got up and went to the floo. After a quick call she settled back in her chair to wait. A few moments later George arrived in the office.
"What seems to be the problem Aunt Minnie?" George asked.
"We have a problem that requires your expertise to help solve." Minerva said.
They spent the next hour catching George up on the story and the prank planning, "A camera you say. Has she printed any of the pictures yet?"
"No." Neville answered, "She says she's only managed to get four pictures she wants to fill up the roll first."
"Well first thing I want to do is charm that camera." George said.
"What are you going to charm it to do?" Minerva asked.
George outlined his plan for the group to hear. Neville was a little nervous for his part but he would do anything to help Harry and Ginny. Later at the Burrow Fleur and George told the rest of the family what had happened.
Molly was so angry about it all that she said, "George do you need me to mind the shop while you work on this?
"No thanks Mum." George laughed, "I can see you now, no dear I can't sell you skiving snack boxes because you need to be in class. I don't think my business needs that kind of help." Molly grinned at his joking. It had been a while and it was good to hear it. If anything good was coming out of this horrendous situation it was that.
Fleur had one more person to talk to so the next morning she headed out for a short trip. She was planning on being gone for the weekend. Bill had wanted to go with her, but this couldn't wait for him to get time off.