A/N: This is a completely new story I have been working on for over four years. I have a few chapters written, but I won't be posting them for a little while as I work out some plot details. I will change this note when I'm ready to post more chapters.
The cold gray steps leading up to the boys' dormitory spiraled tightly around a granite column three times before ending on the landing where the seventh year Gryffindor boys slept. Harry made it to the third door, just after the first spiral when he was forced to rest. He questioned his resolve to sleep in his own bed and contemplated returning to one of the squashy sofas in the common room. As appealing as that was, he knew that the events of the past 24 hours meant everyone would be clamoring for his time. Eventually, someone would slip in and interrupt him. Sleep was the only thing that would block out the unseeing eyes of the dead from his mind and he was determined to do so until the visions of death in his head relented.
He leaned into the column and closed his eyes, intending only to catch his breath. As if to prove his own thoughts, Harry saw faces flash in his mind. Fred, Tonks, Lupin, Colin, Snape and a dozen others. So many had died that day and so many others came within a hair's breath of it. Neville bravely attacking when everyone thought that Harry was dead. Hermione and Ron being attacked by multiple Death Eaters while Voldemort moved into the Great Hall. Ginny missing death by an inch...
Ginny's face fixed itself firmly in his mind, her eyes boring into his seeming to ask him why he was leaving. Why hadn't he sought her out, even once, before the final battle, and now…
Harry let out a sardonic grunt. He had wanted to go to Ginny so many times over the past few months that it hurt to even think about it. He knew, however that had he given in to that temptation, he very well might not have faced Voldemort at all. Then where would their world be? Would he be stuck on the stairs in Gryffindor Tower? Would Ginny be alive in the Great Hall on the shoulder of her mother?
With a large effort, Harry pushed away from the column and forced his feet to climb upward.
Finally inside his old dormitory, Harry stripped off his clothes and stepped wearily to his bed. Broken trainers, shredded jeans and a hole-filled and smoldering shirt all fell to the floor. With great effort, he pulled on the Hogwarts standard-issue pajamas that were on the end of the bed. In each hand, he held a thin shaft of wood. He contemplated each, one made of Holly and one Elder. He told Dumbledore he would get rid of the Elder Wand but he didn't have a clue how to hide it sufficiently so that it couldn't be found again. The tomb seemed like a crazy idea now that all the adrenaline in his body was spent – the first place Voldemort looked for it when he realized Dumbledore had it. Surely anyone else on the trail of the Deathly Hallows would look there, too. Should he destroy it? Could it be destroyed?
He fought off a wave of dizziness and decided those questions had to wait until he rested. Shoving both wands under his pillow, Harry slid into the clean, cool sheets and before another thought passed his mind, he was asleep.
Light and a distant warmth gently woke Harry the following morning. He heard a sound, like a kitten being scratched under its chin and saw the hazy outline of a girl tucked into one of the common room armchairs next to his bed. He blinked and reached for his glasses (when had he put them on the night stand?) and there was Ginny, breathing deeply and very much asleep. Of all the people that would wait for him this determinedly, of course it would be Ginny.
He pulled his aching legs out from the bedclothes and with some difficulty, sat up. There was a pitcher of water and a cup on the table by Ron's empty bed. He contemplated the walk across the flagstone and decided he was better off using his wand. Reaching his hand under his pillow, the first thing he touched was thick and coarse - the Elder wand.
"Wingardium Leviosa," he intoned and a glass of water was sailing toward him.
That was when he realised how long it had been since he'd seen the inside of a restroom.
Five minutes later, he padded mournfully back to his bed and noticed that it was occupied.
"Good morning," said the girl with bright brown eyes. "Feel any better?"
Harry winced as he walked, it seemed every muscle was on fire. "Can I get back to you on that?" He fell lopsided onto the crumpled blankets to avoid bending his joints more than he had to. A spot on his chest felt like Grawp had used it as an anvil.
Ginny smiled and placed her hand on his head. It was relievingly cool. "Poor Harry," she said with a note of laughter. "Maybe you need a massage?"
With a grimace, Harry rolled over and let her work the muscles on his back. "Uugherrr," he moaned. He never felt anything that both hurt so much and felt so good at the same time. Ginny moved and he felt her knees next to his. Her hands seemed to know exactly where to go.
The door opened, but Harry could hardly pay attention to it.
"Oi!" came the shouting voice of his best friend. "What are you doin' with my sister?"
"Uhherrr, uhhh, mmmmm," he said while Ginny continued to pound and prod him into jelly.
"I think it's pretty obvious that Ginny has the situation firmly in hand," said Harry's other best friend, Hermione.
Ginny laughed and then moved said hands to his hamstrings, shifting her weight to the side of the bed as she did so. "If you have a problem with me giving comfort to the man who saved every one of us from death, while fully clothed," she emphasised, "then you can go back downstairs and pretend you didn't see anything."
Ron made an incredulous noise with his mouth. "I'm not leaving you two alone."
"Why?" asked Ginny with false sweetness. "Don't want us doing what you and Hermione get up to?"
Harry smiled into the sheets as Ginny's hands finished with his sock-covered feet. Even his toes were sore.
Ron spluttered. "That's right," he began, but Hermione cut him off.
"Ron, maybe you should take a breath and remember why we're here."
Ginny's hands left him and the mattress bounced as she sat on its edge, her bum making contact with his legs. Harry moved his head to the side so he could see his friends. Ron looked put out with his arms crossed and his shadowed eyes staring at a point on the wall over Harry's head. Hermione was looking at Harry with a mix of pity and determination.
"Harry," she said soothingly, giving Ginny a wary glance. "There's a funeral today and everyone is expecting you."
There was a long silence and Harry sighed. He pushed himself gingerly off the bed and took a seat next to Ginny. "Do I have time for a shower and breakfast?"
"Yes," Ginny said, giving Hermione a look that brooked no argument. "I'll bloody dance in front of the crowd naked if I have to, but no one is going to force Harry to do anything before he's ready."
Harry was surprised by her fierce protectiveness. It was both comforting and a little confusing because he still didn't know where they stood. She seemed to take up her role as his girlfriend as if they'd never broken up.
"It's not until noon," Hermione replied, taking Ron's hand.
Ron's face returned to normal. "Overprotective, much?" he asked his sister.
"You better believe it," she said, her eyes blazing. "He needs me," she continued, standing and walking toward the door without a backward glance. "And I need him."
Then she was gone.
The Battle of Hogwarts, as it was called in the Daily Prophet and in the history books written of the event, touched the lives of almost every witch and wizard in Britain. Dozens were killed and hundreds injured, but in the end, the darkest wizard in a hundred years fell and Harry Potter was proclaimed a hero.
Harry attended as many of the funerals as he physically could. The hardest were for the families who lost children and of his closest friends. Remus and Tonks were laid to rest near James and Lily as they requested. Fred's grave stood on a small hill outside the village of Ottery St. Catchpole where generations of Weasley's were buried. There was a spot beside it for George, who, despite the nearly crushing loss of his twin and best friend remarked that Fred was always the planner and had simply moved on to start on a branch of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes in the afterlife. Didn't God enjoy a good joke, too?
The last funeral, two weeks after the battle was for Severus Snape. Harry and his friends attended, but no one else was there. It was the only funeral for which it rained. Harry thought Snape had convinced someone in heaven to make it rain on purpose. It was fitting and sad and final. For Harry, it was the last funeral he wanted to attend for the rest of his life.