The Cost of Victory is about guilt, love, death, revenge, friendship and forgiveness, but above all it tells the story of so many people dealing – or not dealing – with their grief in so many different ways. It follows as many characters as I was able to include during their first year after the war. Hermione, Harry and Ron are present, but so are Ginny, Percy, Audrey, Lee Jordan, George, Draco Malfoy, Andromeda, Narcissa, Luna, Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, Oliver Wood, Angelina Johnson, Theodore Nott, Tracey Davis... If any or all of them spark your interest, read on.

Also if there are any Draco fans out there, he's the character who gets the most percentage of chapters in this fic (well, it's either him or Hermione, or both). :P And they're my favorite chapters.

Update 15/01/2015: Thank you for reading, and don't hesitate to leave a review if you enjoy the story. I still read them all. This fic meant a lot to me when I wrote it, and still does today.

Chapter 1

It All Ends Here

3rd May, 1998 – 09:22 AM

He found Ginny in the Great Hall with her family.

She was sitting on the floor next to Fred, hugging her knees tightly, staring straight ahead. There was something of insanity in the way she rocked her body back and forth, not speaking, not looking at anything, seeming not to notice the world around her. Around her, others were in varying states of shock and grief – sisters and brothers hugged each other, mothers cried, fathers stared blankly at the bodies, all laid out in a horrifyingly long row. Two rows, actually – dark robes and masks on one side, the bravest people he had ever met on the other.

Almost immediately after Voldemort had died, when the chaos and confusion were just beginning to die down, Hermione had disappeared. Ron had said, in that awful, empty voice, that she was volunteering to help gather all the dead, draw up a list and contact the families. The Hospital Wing had been destroyed during the battle; Hermione had helped set up a temporary infirmary in one of the classrooms. And since then she had been coming and going from the Great Hall, bringing back a newly-found body, giving a name, and disappearing back to the makeshift infirmary to give Madam Pomfrey a hand. He supposed making herself useful was her way of taking her mind off things, but personally he'd have puked if he'd been the one healing wounds, carrying corpses and dealing with hysterical relatives.

Ron himself he had hardly seen, except standing in silence with George and the rest of his family. They kept together, in a corner of the Great Hall, as far away from the corpses as they could get. Mrs Weasley's tears wouldn't stop; the rest of them just looked shocked. Shocked, dull-eyed, empty. He knew how they felt.

But Ginny wasn't there.

He had looked for her for over an hour. He knew she wasn't in the Great Hall because he'd spent the first eight hours after the battle pacing every square foot of that place, offering forced smiles and quick murmurs of condolences. Then he'd gone through the rest of the Castle. Gryffindor Tower, now a crumbling wreck even the Fat Lady had fled from. The Room of Requirement, which had refused to open for him (had it even survived Crabbe's Fiendfyre?). The Astronomy Tower, oddly intact. The lavatories, the library, the trophy room. The study area, the storage room, the owlery. She had been nowhere. He had come across many people, all who recognised him and nodded at him, but no-one he actually wanted to talk to. Not her.

And then he had found Neville. Neville, whose face was swollen, bruised and battered, and who carried it so easily, almost proudly, as though his world hadn't just come crashing down around him. Neville had smiled understandingly and had said, "If you're looking for her, she's in the Great Hall." And he had shaken his head and said he'd just been. Still, he had followed the advice. And sure enough, she was there.

Everything else went out of focus when he spotted her, red hair tumbling forward into her face, her arms tightly wrapped around her knees. She was safe. Unhurt. Of course he knew that, but he hadn't seen her since – since. There had been that growing feeling of uneasiness growing in him the longer his search went on.

She hadn't been in the Great Hall the entire time, he thought as he headed for her. She hadn't been the last time he'd been here, an hour ago. Where had she gone? Why was she back?

He stopped ten feet before he reached her, suddenly unsure. What was he supposed to do? To say?

"Finally," she said, her voice so quiet he wasn't sure he had heard right.

He stepped forward and sat down next to her. "Finally?"

"I've been waiting."

"I've been looking."

She sighed, still not looking at him. "I – there was something I had to do."

He nodded, then realised she wouldn't see. "Right." He wasn't going to ask.

She answered anyway. "The Forbidden Forest. With Hagrid. We found Fang."

He remembered the way the dog had run away at the beginning of the battle. "Oh."

"He's safe."

"I'm glad," he said truthfully. "Ginny –"

She suddenly raised her head at the mention of her name, effectively cutting him off. Her eyes pierced through him as surely as daggers, and he found himself at a lack for words.

An unruly strand of hair fell into her eyes; she crossly pushed it back behind her ear. "Look, Harry –"

"I'm sorry," he said at the same time. "Fred –"

"Knew what he was doing," Ginny said fiercely.

Her eyes were shining with tears, but she refused to let them fall.

"If it weren't for me –"

"We'd all be dead by now."

"That's not –"

"It is true, Harry." Ginny was silent for a moment. "They're calling you the Saviour of Hogwarts," she offered.

"Oh, great," he said before he could stop himself, and Ginny laughed.

It was the most half-hearted laugh he had ever heard, but it was still a laugh.

"I missed you," she said when she stopped.

"I'm sorry."

"I never thought you were dead," she went on thoughtfully. "But it was hard –"

"I looked at the Map every night," he blurted.

She looked at him quizzically.

"The Marauder's Map... Lupin gave it to me. It's a map of Hogwarts, and it shows everyone inside the castle. I found your name on it... And I stared at it. For hours. It was just... comforting, to know you were safe. Alive."

She snorted. "So safe."

"But you were," he insisted. "Snape –"

"And the Carrows."

He faltered. "It's over now," was all he could find to say.

"Yeah," Ginny said. "It's over." She looked around. "Funny, isn't it? It feels like our entire lives have revolved around this place."

"Voldemort felt the same way."

She froze, but her voice was controlled when she spoke. "And now... It all ends, just where it all started. Where I met you – really met you." She smiled softly. "Remember my first year?"

"How could I forget?"

"You have a lot of explaining to do," she said. "About everything. What happened then and what happened this year."

"I know."


"You know," Ginny said after a moment, "I thought you had died. When Voldemort said so."

"I'm sorry."

"I don't know what I'd have done if you'd died," she said quietly, looking down at her hands again.

And this was the moment. This was when he was supposed to take her hands in his, open his heart to her, and swear he'd never leave her or lie to her again.

But that would be a lie as well, wouldn't it?

Instead he said, "You'd have survived. I know you would have."

There was an awkward, heavy silence, and he wondered if the moment had passed. He tried anyway.

"I love you."

He saw her stiffen, and then her brown eyes met his, and the warmth they radiated surprised him.

"I know," she said. "I love you, too."

Emboldened by her words, he moved over a little so he was closer to her and wrapped his arms around her. "I love you," he repeated, realising, for the first time, just how true that sentence was.

She leaned her head on his shoulder, and then immediately pulled back, crinkling her nose. "You smell... bad."

"Must be the blood and dirt."

"Must be," she agreed, leaning against him again. "And you've got a leaf in your hair." She closed her eyes and snuggled closer up to him. "Harry..."


"After this..."

He caught on, but maybe that was only because he had been wondering the exact same thing. "Yes."

There was no real meaning to the word, but he knew she understood. She was going to say something when, suddenly:

"Harry! Harry, I've been looking all over for you!" Hermione cried almost breathlessly. "It's like you go out of your way to avoid me – Harry, Kingsley wants to speak to you. And Professor McGonagall. And Dumbledore's portrait has asked as well. And there are reporters from –"

"Reporters?" he repeated. "Reporters?"

Hermione shrugged him off impatiently. "Well, obviously I told them it'd have to wait until you'd seen Kingsley –"

"You're right, because Kingsley is my top priority right now," he snapped, and she shrank back.

"Oh," she said, her voice suddenly small. Then she seemed to collect herself. "Kingsley has put himself in charge of the – post-battle events. And he needs to hear what happened, from your lips."

"I'm busy," he said, looking down at Ginny, but Ginny pushed away from him and stood up.

"Hermione's right," she said quietly. "There are more important things."

The way she said the words stung. Nothing is more important to me than you, he wanted to say, but he couldn't lie. And she looked at him and saw it in his eyes.

"It's all right," she lied. "I understand."

"Harry," Hermione said impatiently, "Please. It's important. I don't like to keep them busy. I have things to do."

"Fine," he snapped, then glanced back at Ginny. "Later, okay?"

"As always."

And the worse was, there was no bitterness to her tone as she said the words.

"I'm sorry," Hermione said as soon as they were out of the Great Hall. "I didn't handle that well."

"No, you didn't," he agreed.

"I have a lot on my mind," she offered. "We all do. And don't be like that about Kingsley; he's doing the best he can. He's supervising the entire thing and hasn't taken a moment to breathe since the – the battle." She grasped his wrist and firmly turned him over to a set of staircases. "Over here, it's quicker."

"But –" he protested, and she cut him off.

"The corridor leading to the – the temporary infirmary collapsed a few minutes ago," she told him. "We were expecting it; it had been badly damaged. No-one was hurt. We managed to levitate the falling debris so they came down slowly enough. But now we have to take the long way around."

Her tone was so calm, so flat as she delivered the news that Harry winced. He looked at her more carefully. She seemed tired, her hair frazzled and unkempt, her expression strained, her face dusty and grimy; but her movements were brisk and there was a fire behind her eyes he had never seen in her.

He tore his eyes from her and instead looked around at his surroundings. The colourful portraits that had once livened up these very same walls now seemed as dull as the layer of grey dust that covered everything. Many were as deserted as the halls they decorated, portraying empty feast tables, empty deserts, empty ballrooms, empty chairs and empty forests. A mermaid turned her back to them and cried into her hands. A sombre-looking nobleman bowed low as Harry passed, and a group of young children stopped talking and fled from their painting as soon as they saw him.

"They were very scared," Hermione said. "Try to understand them."

"I don't blame them."

She gestured to one of the empty paintings. It had probably been a portrait before its person deserted it. When Harry looked closer at it, he saw the fine, jagged rip that slashed the canvas into two, right down the middle. A shiver of horror ran up his spine, and he looked at the next empty frame. A similar cut had left a piece of the canvas sagging down. A third painting could only be described using the word "shredded."

The full horror of what Voldemort had come so close to doing finally crashed down around him.

"Godric Gryffindor," he breathed, and then, "Are they – dead?"

"Kingsley has contacted two or three experts," she said blandly. "We're going to see if the canvas can be restored. Most of them fled before it happened, of course; they'll be hiding in family homes or history books. It will take a while for them to come back, but we think they might, eventually." She bit her lip. "The Fat Lady has already refused."

He remembered the time Sirius had threatened her portrait and felt a burst of shame for his godfather. "Could she – change her mind?"

"I don't know," Hermione admitted, her eyes flicking down to look at the once-red carpet they were trudging across, kicking up clouds of dust with every step. "I hope so. Kingsley seems... doubtful."

"Kingsley." The name rested oddly on his tongue. "Why is he in the infirmary?"

"Because we need as many people as we can get," she replied. "And he's very good with the more hysterical victims."

"Were there many – injured?"

She glanced over at him, a startled little half-glance he had never thought to receive from her. "You won't see too many," she said carefully. "The majority have already been transferred to St Mungo's for emergency treatment. We're still bringing in a few, but less and less with each passing minute. There are only eleven in the infirmary right now. So far, we have a count of fifty-one victims – our side, I mean, Hogwarts – well, you know. We've sent off seventeen people to St Mungo's; five were in a critical state. Most of them are now stable." She rattled off the information with the cool ease of someone who had been through this a dozen times, and Harry's stomach lurched at the thought of facing so many anxious relatives and worried faces.

"Hermione..." You're so much stronger than any of us, he wanted to say. "How are you?"

In other circumstances, the question would have been odd.

"I'm fine," she said, again giving him that odd little side-glance. "And you?"

"Fine," he repeated, and looked straight ahead again to avoid meeting her gaze.

The infirmary was not at all what he had been expecting. It looked empty in a war-raided way. The floors and walls were impeccable compared to the horror of the Great Hall, but somehow, it only made the room look sterile. There was a faint smell of hospital that Harry couldn't quite pinpoint – that aggressively clean smell that clings to everything in Muggle hospitals –, tinted with the less unpleasant smells of blood and sweat. A dozen beds, obtained Merlin knew where, lined the walls, and Madam Pomfrey sat on the edge of one of them, worriedly laying her hand across a patient's forehead. She looked up as they entered, and an expression of relief eased a few lines off her face.

"Hermione," she said, genuine warmth leaking into her tone. "I think Parvati is developing a fever."

Hermione looked down at their classmate, who was breathing somewhat laboriously, her eyes half-closed and her dark hair fanned out across the starch white pillow. Parvati's hand suddenly snaked out across the sheet to wrap itself around Harry's wrist in an iron grip. He jumped and almost backed away, but Parvati's eyes had opened and she was looking at Hermione, not him.

"Have we had any news... about Padma?" she asked, her voice a lot weaker than Harry had ever heard it.

Hermione betrayed herself, glancing at Madam Pomfrey. A shadow fell across the nurse's expression. Her eyes told the entire story, and Harry shivered. Padma hadn't made it. Fifty-two.

"No news," Hermione lied easily. "They're very busy at St Mungo's; we haven't had an update in some time. Don't worry."

"Perhaps we should send you there, too," Madam Pomfrey said warmly. "You don't seem to be getting better. The sooner you're transferred, the better."

"But – " Hermione said, and Madam Pomfrey cut her off with a look. Hermione turned her head to the side and breathed, to inform Harry, "They're not accepting any more entrances... they've got more than they can handle already, they said we should send only real emergencies."

"I'm fine," Parvati said weakly. "My side still hurts, is all. It's annoying, but it's not going to kill me." Her eyes flicked to Harry for the first time since she had opened them. "Harry... You did it." She was smiling. "You won."

There was such undisguised affection, such fierce pride in her feverish eyes that Harry reached out, took her free hand in his and, squeezing it, said, "We won."

Her other hand slipped down from his wrist to his palm. It was too warm, fever-warm. Then it left his hand, instead reaching down to lay across the heavy bandage on her side. She closed her eyes again.

"Greyback," Madam Pomfrey said in a soft voice, nodding at Parvati. "He wasn't – transformed, but I can't seem to get the wounds to close using the regular methods. When I had to deal wi – when Remus was a student, I always had the right products in the Hospital Wing, but..." She bit her lip.

Harry looked down at the slight hand, still in his, and remembered. Greyback. "And Lavender?"

"She's fine," Hermione said, "Greyback didn't touch her. She was only Stunned, and she's been by Parvati's side ever since the battle ended."

"She actually fell asleep a few minutes ago," Madam Pomfrey said. "I convinced her to let me give her a Sleeping Draught. She was exhausted."

Harry looked at Lavender's sleeping form, then back at Parvati's glossy black hair. Both of them were so unlike his memories of them at Hogwarts that he felt a certain fondness for them, an oddly protective feeling.

Then, shattering the portrait, Kingsley rose from the bedside of a quietly sobbing woman and made his way across the room to him.

"Mr Potter," he said, then, breaking into a genuine smile, "Harry."

The deep warmth of his voice washed over Harry in a wave of familiarity and caring, promising the same open-hearted honesty it always did. He felt his annoyance at the man dissolve at the sound of his voice.

"Kingsley," he acknowledged. "The newspapers?"

"Can wait," Kingsley said, a slight frown forming a crease between his eyebrows. "I've had them told that you have other priorities."

"Thank you."

"I'll need to be made aware of what happened, Harry Potter," Kingsley said clearly. "Is Voldemort gone for good?"


"You can say this with absolute certainty?"

"As I'm sure Hermione could have told you," Harry said, trying to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

"How did you do it?"

Harry exchanged a glance with Hermione. "Dumbledore entrusted me with the knowledge of – of Voldemort's weakness," he said slowly. "And I don't think I can give it to you."

Kingsley seemed unsettled. "I can assure you Dumbledore had the most complete trust in my abilities to keep a secret."

"It doesn't have anything to do with that," Harry said. "I wouldn't tell anyone. It isn't something that should be repeated. In fact, I hope no-one ever hears of it again."

"That won't reassure anyone," Kingsley murmured, more to himself than to Harry, Harry could tell. "The wizarding world will want to know for certain that the war is won forever."

"Then they'll just have to take my word for it, for once," Harry said bitterly. "People will believe what they want to believe, and they certainly want to believe that Voldemort is gone."

"Indeed," Kingsley agreed, "But people also tend to have a hard time believing the truth."

"You believe me, don't you?"

He had managed to destabilise Kingsley.

"Dumbledore trusted you, and I trust Dumbledore's judgement," Kingsley said finally.

"You do, don't you," Harry said, thinking of Snape. "And you're taking charge here, aren't you?"

"I intend to," Kingsley said bluntly.

"Then this time, for once, the Ministry will be backing my word."

"As long as Harry Potter backs the Ministry," Kingsley said, holding his gaze.

The offer was clear, and Harry almost felt disgusted as he nodded and said, "Of course."

Kingsley must have noticed, because he said, "I don't like forced alliances any more than you do, Harry. But like it or not, you cannot avoid them anymore. You cannot afford to have no opinion, no allies. You are a political figure now; even more so than you used to be. You will be able to exert a heavy amount of influence on most wizards. I would be a fool not to turn that to my advantage. I dislike having to do it this way, but I would much rather have you as a reluctant ally than as an enemy. If I hadn't stepped up so quickly, someone else would have seized you."

"I'm not an object," Harry said coolly, "I can take care of myself."

Kingsley held his gaze without flinching, and instead offered him a tired but sincere smile. "We are allies, Harry, but under different circumstances, we might have been friends."

"Yes," Harry said, looking down at Parvati's hand in his. "If that's all –"

"If only it were," Kingsley said, sounding exhausted. "But the rest can wait. Are you planning on going anywhere?"

"No," Harry said, just as Hermione said:

"Shell Cottage. You need to sleep," she added hurriedly, seeing Harry's look. "I thought we would leave the Weasleys at the Burrow, to..." Her voice broke and she visibly fought back tears for a moment. "To rest," she said finally. "Bill and Fleur will be with them. They've already agreed."

"I want to stay here," Harry protested.

Hermione shook her head sadly. "By tonight, there'll be no-one left here. They're all going home, Harry, to reflect and – to rest," she said again. "The injured will be transferred to surrounding hospitals; we'll try to get Parvati to St Mungo's if we can. You need to rest, Harry. So do I."

He knew she would never have admitted the last if she knew it wasn't true, and he nodded.

"Will you be staying there?" Kingsley asked.

"Not for long," Harry said. "I want to be involved in the plans for the rebuilding of Hogwarts."

"Involved?" Kingsley repeated. "Harry, you'll be involved in many things in the weeks to come –"

"Directly involved," he clarified. "I want to be present at every meeting there may be about it, to be contacted when it starts, and to have a role in it."

Kingsley nodded thoughtfully. "For now, nothing has been organised. I don't even know if the castle can be restored. There seems to have been a lot of damage, and I don't know where we could gather a large enough team –"

"But that's it," Hermione broke in, heedlessly interrupting Kingsley, "that's why you'll put Harry in charge. He could do it. Think how many people who would volunteer like him to restore Hogwarts. It could go into the hundreds if we appeal to everyone who ever attended Hogwarts! Every wizarding family has some sort of attachment to the school. Those who don't would want to help the Saviour anyway."

"The what now?" Harry said, unable to keep the distaste out of his voice.

"The Saviour, Harry, the Saviour of Hogwarts, the Saviour of the Wizarding World! That's you. The Prophet coined it three hours ago, and I rather think it'll stick." She turned back to Kingsley. "It would give spirit back to the people. It would be a beginning of unity, a message that reads: Together, we can do anything. Don't you see? Hogwarts means so much to us. Everyone feels the same way. This is the perfect way to start."

Kingsley stared at Hermione for a long time, his dark eyes unreadable. His next words sent a chill running up Harry's spine.

"Have you ever thought about pursuing a career at the Ministry?" he asked Hermione, his words so like Scrimgeour's maybe a year previously. "I'm sold. Miss Granger, you're in charge of the rebuilding of Hogwarts. Harry will be with you always, as he sees fit, I'm sure. Take the task seriously, because as you've made clear enough, it is of the utmost importance. Don't fail me, Hermione."

"Thank you," Hermione said, that strange new fire in her eyes flaring determinedly.

Suddenly, Harry knew she wouldn't be getting any sleep that night.

"I'll leave you to your preparations for tonight," Kingsley said. "Till soon enough, both of you."

"Good-bye," Harry said, and Kingsley oddly bowed his head a fraction before leaving the room.

His stride was fast and anxious and not in the least dignified. Harry watched him go.

"He'll make an excellent Minister, won't he?"

"Mm," Hermione said thoughtfully.

He knew she was already thinking about the rebuilding. "If you want to, we can start today," he said. "We can walk around the castle and write down everything that needs to be done. Kingsley didn't look too clear about the amount of damage dealt."

Hermione almost jumped to her feet, then froze. "No. You shouldn't exert yourself too much. Moving around helps me," she admitted. "I feel useful. But you need to rest."

"I want to," he said adamantly. Then: "I have to find Ginny."

Ginny was in the Great Hall with her family, and Harry came back to Hermione without her.

The recording of everything that wasn't quite right at Hogwarts was a long, difficult and horrifying task. Blood still stained some parts of the floor and walls and neither Harry nor Hermione had the courage to Scourgify it. Other places were just painful to look at – here Fred had fallen, here Greyback had attacked Lavender. And worse still, some damage was so important it seemed to dismay even Hermione. This wall had been completely destroyed, this painting would probably have to be taken down, this corridor had collapsed. This tree, when they reached the Forbidden Forest. This window, this boat, this shed. Mess and rubble and destruction and death surrounded them. Nothing had been spared.

Harry's heart leapt when they reached the Quidditch pitch, after over seven hours of scouring the Castle. The fresh green grass, clean bleachers and untouched hoops seemed to contrast with the rest of the grounds. He traced a wooden bleacher almost lovingly, feeling the smooth unsplintered wood beneath his hand.

"They didn't get here," he said quietly.

"A sanctuary," Hermione said. "During the battle, some dragged nine injured out of the fighting and brought them here. They all survived; six of them are in St Mungo's, the other three have gone home. The Death Eaters never thought to look here."


Hermione shrugged. "It's just a story I've heard. I don't know who exactly."

How many people would have had the idea of using the Quidditch pitch as a sanctuary? Harry was one of them. Ginny, possibly another, and Ron. Oliver Wood, he thought, remembering his first Captain's passion for the sport. Cho.

"It's just a story, right now," Hermione said softly, "but in the Muggle world there are hero stories from the world wars."

"Yes," Harry said, thinking of Snape again. "Hermione, Snape was –"

"Yes. I thought I heard something about that," she said quietly, reaching up to push his shoulder down, effectively making him sit down in the grass.

She sat next to him, and he realised for the first time that it was a beautiful day, with a blue sky and a brilliant sun that warmed his face as he tilted it up to the sky.

"You said something to Voldemort – that Snape was ours, that he loved your mother."

He smiled at the way she had changed his "Dumbledore's" to "ours." Snape was no longer around to despise and protect him, but he would see that his memory lived on. He would glorify the man as a martyr, a loyal double agent, Dumbledore's man to the end. He would be buried with honour. Any stain that might darken the man's past would be bleached off by Harry himself, until his portrait was that of a hero. It was the least he could do for him.

"He'll be buried in Godric's Hollow, next to my parents," he said decisively. "Next to my mother."

"Tell me about him," Hermione requested gently.

And he did, and the story was so long and intertwined with so many others that it naturally led to an explanation for what had happened in – and after – the Forbidden Forest, so that he was still talking when the sun's rays turned orange and became cooler, and when the sun started to lower itself down to the horizon. Hermione listened patiently, asking a few questions when she couldn't hold them back.

"They were childhood friends?"

"He was a Death Eater?"

"You let him kill you? Harry, that's impossible..."

"Narcissa Malfoy saved your life?"

"I really believed you were dead..."

"I'm sorry," he said to the last, looking out to the horizon but still reaching out to cover her hand with his.

"I was so scared," she said quietly. Then: "Do you realise what Ginny must have gone through this past year? You had the Marauder's Map. She was lucky to have Luna and Neville, who really believe in you, or she might have given up and thought you had died."

"I know."

"You owe her an explanation."

"I owe her a lot of things," he said, as pink started streaking across the sky. Pink as Ginny's eyes earlier. Pink as the jumper that her mother had given her, the one that clashed so beautifully with her hair. Pink as the blush that permanently occupied her cheeks in Harry's presence when she was younger. "I owe her so much."

Hermione seemed satisfied by that, and she let the subject drop. They were silent as they watched the sun set. Orange, pink and violet melted into dark blue, then black, and then Hermione spotted the first star.

They laughed in unison, and half their worries seemed to fade away. The sky was exactly the same as it had always been. The stars shone as bright as they had ever had. The world went on around them. Suddenly, Dumbledore's words from long ago came back to him, on Fawkes' burning day. Phoenixes burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes.

Yesterday had been the wizarding world's burning day.

So. First chapter posted (one of the longest, expect some hugely varying lengths, though at least they're all over 1k). I'm thrilled, to be honest. What did you think of the interaction between Kingsley and Harry? I wanted to have them be warmer with each other, but they don't know each other that well, and Kingsley is well on his way to becoming Minister for Magic – there has to be some formality in there.

Con crit appreciated. Any type of review appreciated. If you notice typos please notify me so I can fix them.

Thank you very much for reading.

PS: Whoever is wondering why the main characters in this story are Hermione and Draco... wait and see. ;)