AN: Hi, guys! Remember me? I know you are thinking, oh boy, this must mean she's finished the whole story and will now update regularly! Nope. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I just wanted to give you a sneak peek of what is to come. I have mapped Dawn to be about twenty five to thirty chapters, and I am currently writing Chapter 18. So please stick with me! Thanks, Miranda
Chapter 1: A Beginning
The sun rose lazily, casting its light over the world. Birds chirped and winged over what had once been a beautiful, unmarred landscape, overlooked by a proud and majestic castle.
And while the castle had pieces broken off and rubble and soot blackened the grounds, it still proudly remained.
It was evidence of a battle fought and won, and the fact that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was still standing was a sign of rebirth and new beginnings to all those who remained on the grounds.
In a tower still yet standing, Harry James Potter slept peacefully for the first time in four years. He was alone in the seventh year boys dormitory of Gryffindor Tower. A loyal house elf stood guard at the door.
Harry woke slowly, and he was confused when he saw where he was. He lay still for a few minutes and ran his mind over the events of the previous day.
Memories of the battle flooded over him. Voldemort was dead. Harry had killed Voldemort. He had tried to sacrifice himself, and succeeded, but he was still alive. He had seen his parents. Dumbledore.
And then he thought of the dead. Those who had laid down their lives so Harry might find the Horcrux. Lupin, Tonks, Fred, Collin. And more had been injured.
Tears stung Harry's eyes, and he curled in on himself, ignoring his aches and pains, and cried.
It was some time before he surfaced. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy, but he felt better - calmer.
Harry slowly sat up and stretched, trying to clear his mind and figure out what his next move was. Ron and Hermione– yes, he needed to find them. He didn't know what was happening. Voldemort was dead but not all of the Death Eaters had been captured. And Azkaban and the Ministry and Saint Mungo's had been taken over by Voldemort's regime.
When he stood up he winced; something had pulled at his ribs that wasn't comfortable. He would have to go see Madame Pomfrey sometime that day.
But having a shower and finding some new clothes were his priorities right now.
"Kreacher?" Harry called.
With a loud crack Kreacher appeared in front of him. Yesterday, Harry and Ron and Hermione had gone to Gryffindor Tower and Kreacher had brought them sandwiches. He had gone to bed right after that and fell asleep almost immediately.
"Can I bes doing anything for yous, Master Harry?" the elf asked helpfully. The old elf certainly looked better then the previous night, where he had swayed on his feet but insisted on serving Harry until Harry ordered him to get some sleep.
Harry gave Kreacher a smile and gestured to himself. His jacket, jeans, and shirt were ripped and torn beyond recognition. Blood, sweat, soot, and grime discolored the garments to a point that the original color could not be distinguished.
"I need some new clothes," he said. "Think you could manage it?" Though really, Harry had complete confidence in Kreacher's capabilities. House Elves deserved more of the limelight. If Dobby had been able to transport Harry and his fellow prisoners out of a basement with wards that prevented any Apparation, then Kreacher would be able to find him some clothes.
Kreacher nodded enthusiastically. "I's bes doing that right away, Master Harry!"
"Oh, and Kreacher," said Harry, before the elf could Disapparate. "Really well done at the battle. Thank you."
Kreacher bowed so low that his nose touched the floor. Then he disappeared with a crack, and Harry started to laugh to himself, but he stopped quickly. The motion made his ribs hurt.
The shower water was warm and soothing, and Harry stayed in it longer than was truly necessary and just relaxed under the spray.
Kreacher had managed to find him some slacks that fit almost perfectly, as well as a dark shirt and some robes to go over everything. Harry assumed that Kreacher had gotten the clothes from Grimauld Place.
The Common Room was empty but for the two people Harry had been looking for. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were seated on a couch facing an empty fire grate. They weren't speaking but their hands were tightly intertwined.
They looked up when Harry drew near, and Harry could see their red rimmed eyes very clearly; he hadn't been the only one to cry.
Their faces brightened when they saw him and he couldn't help but smile. An overwhelming surge of love rose within him and Harry's smile widened to a grin.
And in that moment, everything seemed right. His two best friends had been through the thick and the thin with him, and all three had made it out relatively unscathed.
For a moment the three friends sat and stared at each other, held in place by some invisible bond, but then the moment passed and time started again.
"How did you sleep?" Hermione asked.
"Better than I have in years," Harry admitted. "No nightmares, no nothing."
Neither Ron nor Hermione looked surprised at that statement, and Ron said, "Can't blame you." He leaned over and grinned. "It's the next day," he said conspiratorially. "Like, we've slept for almost twenty four hours." Hermione rolled her eyes at Ron's attempt to startle Harry, but the look on her face was affectionate.
Harry was a little surprised when he heard, but he also wasn't that concerned. It was the best sleep he'd had in years.
"Where is everyone, what's happening?" Harry asked. Now that he had found Ron and Hermione, a need to obtain information was taking hold.
Ron shrugged. "They're all asleep, I'd reckon. You got a dormitory to yourself but everyone else had to share."
"Don't start, Harry," said Hermione warningly. She knew him too well. "It was the least anyone could do to get you a private place to sleep."
Any other day Harry probably would have argued, but he found he didn't care all that much.
"As long as everyone got a bed to sleep in," he acquiesced. "So, any news on what's been happening?" Ron and Hermione both shook their heads.
It was a new concept for Harry - not having anything to do. Before now there had always been something to think about. Homework, escaping the Dursleys, worrying about Voldemort, worrying about the Ministry, thinking about where the Horcruxes could be, if they were going to eat that night. But now he had no concrete goal to work towards in the immediate future. He hadn't realized it until now, but he had never really thought about what he could do if Voldemort was killed. He had planned to be an Auror, but that was with the goal of killing Voldemort in mind. It was almost like he was expecting himself to die and hadn't allowed himself to consider a real future.
Harry was just contemplating this when the portrait covering the entrance to the Common Room swung open and none other than Neville climbed through. Neville broke into a broad grin when he saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione. "You're finally awake!" he said. "It's good to see that you're actually alive."
Ron and Hermione chuckled, but Harry gave an imperceptible flinch. He had died. Nearly everyone had seen him being carried in Hagrid's arms, and the pieces wouldn't be too hard to fit together when people thought about it. Voldemort had certainly thought that Harry was dead and had broadcasted the announcement. Soon people would be asking questions - would be asking if he had been hit by the Killing Curse again. They would be asking how he had survived for a second time, and Harry neither wanted to answer the questions nor think about it.
Nobody seemed to have noticed his lapse in concentration, because now Neville was telling them the news.
"You know Kingsley Shacklebolt, the new Interim Minister? Well he's gotten a whole bunch of Aurors and other people from the Ministy that he trusts working on the major stuff - like letting the public know what happened and releasing innocent people and Muggle Borns from Azkaban and coordinating with Saint Mungo's to get all of the wounded from the battle cared for. He's sealed Hogwarts completely too; there's no getting into the grounds unless it's been personally authorized by him or McGonagall or this guy named Gawain Robards. He's apparently the head of the Auror Office now. And all of the Death Eaters that we've captured are being held in the Dungeons because Azkaban's not too secure right now. Oh, and a meeting's scheduled for later today to sort of get an idea of where to go next. But right now most people are asleep or eating breakfast in the Great Hall."
Harry was rather startled on how much had happened since he went to bed, and apparently Ron was too because he said, "Sounds Kingsley hasn't even slept yet." He had perked up at the sound of breakfast in the Great Hall and got to his feet. "C'mon, lets go get some food."
"I'm gonna go take a shower," said Neville easily. Harry gave him a good look over for the first time since he had entered the room. Neville had obviously received medical attention because he was no longer limping and his black eye was gone, but he was still in the same clothes that he had been in yesterday.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione all said farewell to Neville as they made their way out of the common room.
The castle was silent. The portraits were not chattering among themselves; some of their inhabitants rose to their feet and bowed as Harry passed by but most regarded their surroundings with dead eyes. It was not only the living who were mourning, Harry realized, but Hogwarts itself was mourning (it was an old and widely debated theory on whether the castle was sentient.) He wondered how long it would take for the castle to be restored to its former glory.
The rubble had not been cleared and the walls were blackened with dirt and from spell fire. The portraits that were still intact were ripped and torn and empty pedestals stood everywhere where the suits of armor and statues were missing.
They arrived at the Great Hall and Harry had to force himself to go inside. The last time he had been in there he had killed Voldemort. But all of the bodies of his friends had lain in there. He did not want to have to face reality.
There were people assembled in the room, but it wasn't crowded. Those who were inside were mostly silent and in small groups. Harry noticed Kingsley in the back corner; he looked as if he hadn't slept yet. He was talking with another man that Harry didn't recognize and Professor McGonagall. The bodies had been removed, and Harry didn't want to know where they were.
All of the Weasleys were present. They were all clustered at the end of the Gryffindor table in the back. Harry and Ron and Hermione received polite nods and smiles as they made their way towards the table, and Harry was immensely grateful that there was no more greeting than that. He didn't think he would be able to take it if he was mobbed by people congratulating him and thanking him.
Mrs. Weasley immediately flung her arms around all three of them as they drew near. Her eyes were red rimmed and bloodshot, but she seemed to be beyond tears. Once she let them go, they sat down and Harry had a chance to properly look at the Weasleys. George was seated between Charlie and Percy, and he looked terrible, with a pale face, bloodshot eyes with bags underneath them, and a vacant expression. Harry wondered if he had slept at all. Percy appeared to be impossibly sad; his expression was one of misery so profound that Harry felt his heart break a little more just by looking at him. He must have been feeling guilty, Harry realized. Everyone else looked largely the same: sad and sleep deprived. Harry, Ron, and Hermione probably looked the same.
Ginny was pointedly avoiding his eyes, and Harry's heart stumbled a little. Ginny was one factor that he had not even considered yet. He was still in love with her, he wasn't naive enough to think otherwise, for her face had been the one he had been thinking of when he had faced Voldemort with the intention to die, but she was still an unknown. Was she still interested in him? Would they ever be able to trust each other enough again to have a stable relationship?
He sighed and looked glumly at his shoes, lost in his thoughts.
"Oh, Harry," said Mrs. Weasley sadly. Harry jerked his head up to look at her. "Don't you go about feeling guilty about all of this," she said sternly. "You have everything to be proud of and you've helped us immensely. It's time to let go now."
Harry wondered if she could read his mind. Mrs. Weasley pulled him down to sit next to her, and Harry did so with no protest, accepting the eggs and toast that she gave to him. He missed the concerned looks everyone was giving him as he started to pick at his food.
The Weasleys looked to be restraining themselves from asking what they so desperately wanted to: what was the mysterious mission that Dumbledore had given Harry? And most importantly, had Harry truly sacrificed, or at least attempted to sacrifice himself to You-Know-Who? Instead they chattered amongst themselves, talking about everything and nothing at the same time, while Harry and Ron and Hermione ate.
"Have you been to see Madame Pomfrey yet?" Mrs. Weasley fretted, and she tutted when all three shook their heads. "You'll have to do that once you've finished eating," she said. "Just to be safe." It would have bothered Harry any other time, but since he had already been planning on doing so he didn't protest.
"Mr. Potter." Harry looked up with some vague surprise; he hadn't really been paying attention to his surroundings. Kingsley Shacklebolt was looking at him with a blank face. Minerva McGonagall was behind him, and her lips were pressed together in a thin line and her eyes revealed her anxiety.
"Minister, Professor," said Harry evenly. He kept his face carefully blank, waiting to see what they wanted. He knew Shacklebolt, but not all that well, and the man was now Britain's Minister for Magic, and Harry didn't have the best track record with the previous three ministers.
Ron and Hermione had also adopted similar expressions of neutrality, and were tense, waiting to see what would happen.
Shacklebolt's expression softened minutely. "Mr. Potter, we need to talk to you."
"About what?" said Harry.
Shacklebolt glanced around warily, as if he was just noticing that they were in the center of attention. Everyone had stopped what they were doing, turning to look at the confrontation, if it could be called that. "Not here, Mr. Potter, somewhere private," he said softly. "It isn't anything bad, I promise."
"Define bad," Harry muttered, but he nodded with resignation. He glanced at Ron and Hermione, and they both stood when he did, obviously intending to go along.
Shacklebolt rolled his eyes, but he merely said, "Follow me," and led the way into the antechamber of the Great Hall. It was the same room that the champions of the Tri-Wizard Tournament had congregated in after their names had come out of the Goblet of Fire.
The fire was blazing, and Shacklebolt and Professor McGonagall settled into armchairs by the fire. Ron, Hermione, and Harry took the couch.
"Mr. Potter, Harry, if I may call you that," began Shacklebolt, and Harry nodded. The man sighed deeply before continuing. "The news of Voldemort's demise is already winging its way around the Wizarding World, and people are starting to ask questions. Questions that I am unable to answer." He stopped and stared expectantly at Harry. Harry stared right back. He considered his options for a moment.
"I think I can trust you, Minister," he started.
"Kingsley," Harry nodded. "I think I can tell you the truth, but it is not really a story that can be released to the public."
Kingsley had relaxed now, and Professor McGonagall no longer looked anxious. She gave Harry a small smile, and he wondered what she had been worried about in the first place.
Harry thought for another minute and continued. "I'd actually like to give a few other people than just you the rundown, and I'll let you know what you can release to the public. But I don't know just yet, so if you could wait a day or two for me to think and talk with Ron and Hermione..."
"Of course," Kingsley quickly said. "But not too long; I need to release something to the press. What would actually be ideal would be to have an interview, but I know that you'd never agree to it."
Harry considered. "I might be okay about doing something like that, but I'd only agree to it if the questions were approved beforehand."
"You could do something like what you did for The Quibbler," Hermione interjected. "I'm sure Luna would be willing to interview you."
Harry nodded and smiled at Hermione. "Yes, that's fine with me, especially since I know Luna."
Kingsley positively beamed. "Talk to Miss Lovegood," he ordered. "If you are willing, please have the interview done by the end of the week. And decide a good time for you to tell everyone you wish to know about your adventures." He stood up and shook Harry's hand. "Well done, and thank you, Harry. We wouldn't be alive without you."
He left, leaving Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Professor McGonagall behind. Harry didn't know what to say.
"I can't believe you actually agreed to that!" Ron said, finally breaking the silence. "I thought for sure you would say no."
"The public deserves to know the truth," Harry responded.
Professor McGonagall rose to her feet as well and looked at Harry. "I just wanted to let you know, Harry, that Professor Dumbledore would have been proud of you. You are a remarkable young man, and the whole of Wizarding Britain owes you a debt."
Harry looked at her, startled.
She reached down and squeezed one of Harry's hand with her own. "I'm proud to have taught you," she said softly, and then she, too, left.
Harry felt rather stunned. They sat together in contemplative silence for a while, and then by some unspoken agreement they all got up and made towards the door.
There was still a long way to go, but Harry felt confident that they were headed in the right direction.