Welcome! I just want to thank you for taking the time to read my fanfiction. It's been a while in the making, and I'm really looking forward to writing it.

As those of you who have read my profile will know, I'm a long-time lurker of Fanfiction, but this is my first account and my first story. I would appreciate any feedback at all! If I'm exceptionally dreadful, just give me the say so! Lol! Any and all criticism, comments, or general advice is always, always welcome.

This is a story that I know has been done many times; it's about Harry's life after the war. I know that it's cliché, but I've been waiting to do this for so long that I just couldn't resist. I'm going to try my hardest to give my views on the aftermath, and the relationships and rebuilding that followed.

Please read, review, and enjoy! Thanks!

I do NOT own Harry Potter, I am NOT J.K. Rowling.

1

Sunlight.

That was Harry's first conscious thought. Sunlight.

The drapes that were usually pulled around the four poster bed were open. The light was shining directly into his closed eyes. Trying hard to think back to when he fell asleep, Harry could only conjure the vague idea that he'd simply been too exhausted to muster the energy to close them; that was his second thought.

The third was that, had his eyes been open, he would be able to see clearly; his glasses were still firmly on his face, resting on the bridge of his nose. Slightly lopsided from sleep, he felt them slide a centimeter down his face.

And when he became aware of his face, he was aware of the rest of his body. With this feeling came pain; not sharp, immediate, stabbing pain, but a dull, achy soreness. He felt similar to having had a brutal Quidditch practice the night previously. Eyes still firmly shut to the world, Harry mentally explored his various injuries. His chest, he decided, hurt the most; just beneath where his heart lay beating, he knew, was where the Killing curse had hit him. Had it been the previous night? Two, three nights ago? Harry hadn't the faintest idea.

That being his fourth thought, his fifth thought was that he was alone. He hadn't expected this. He wasn't sure if he'd been thinking clearly, but he remembered that while walking towards the dormitory that he had so often shared with Ron, Dean, Seamus, and Neville, that there would be a line of many witches and wizards waiting for him to wake, in order to bestow upon him their many thanks and gratitude. But there was no one in the room except for Harry.

There was a small part of him that was convinced that none of it had happened. That perhaps he had imagined killing Voldemort, finally, after so many years of struggle and months of misery with Ron and Hermione; that, perhaps, he had truly been killed after all, and was living on in his own reality, existing, but not existing. Or, maybe, none of it had happened at all, none of it. That he was still ten years old, living in a cupboard under some stairs, and it had all been a wild, elaborate, cruel dream.

This, he thought, more than anything, prompted him to stir. To assure himself that none of this was a dream, that he was alive, and victorious.

He decided to do it in steps.

He began by opening his eyes. The light dazzled him briefly, and it took his eyes a moment to focus in the sudden brightness. He made out a pitcher and a glass waiting on his night stand, where it had always sat waiting for him if he was thirsty in the night. He saw the window, with its damned, awakening sunlight, just a few feet in front of him. In the peripheral of his vision, he could see the edge of one of the other beds stationed around the dormitory.

Next, he rolled over from his left side onto his back. Just the small motion made his entire body complain, the aching muscles disturbed from rest. He winced slightly, wishing for a pain relief potion, or maybe more sleep.

Slowly, he sat up. Again, his muscles rose in a chorus of shouting that couldn't dampen his efforts. As he raised himself, leaning against the headboard, his back gave a small crack, not complaining, but waking up.

Having a decent view of the room now, he turned his head, slowly from left to right. The sunlight from the window filled every corner, as though asking the room to wake up with him. The beds were, as he thought, empty, but some showed signs of being recently slept in. He had no way of knowing if they'd been slept in by his four usual roommates, or perhaps some other survivor of the battle simply needing a few hours' sleep. At the foot of his bed, about the place where his school trunk would go, were clean clothes; his Muggle clothes, not robes. A pair of jeans, clean socks and hand-washed trainers, a t-shirt and jacket. He thought of Hermione, or Mrs. Weasley; at least one of them had been up here to check on him.

This led him to think that he'd been asleep a long time. He glanced down at the battered watched that had belonged to Fabian Prewett; it read one twenty-four.

He wasn't sure of the date, but he knew that he had fallen asleep in the later morning or the early afternoon. He couldn't grasp the idea that he had only slept a few short hours, so assumed that it had been at least a day. At least a day since Voldemort had finally fallen; at least a day of mourning for those lost. At least a day…

A sharp pain stabbed his chest, catching him unawares. He had difficulty swallowing for a moment.

Though they had disturbed him in his dreams, he thought of those that he had now lost; Fred, Lupin, Tonks, Colin Creevey… People that he hadn't realized meant so much to him until it was too late.

A hotness prickled in his eyes, and he blinked hurriedly.

Deciding that movement was now the only way to distract himself, he pushed out of bed, lowering his sore feet to the floor. As he tested his weight, his heels cried at him to sit back down, that they were far too sore to do any sort of walking.

Ignoring them, Harry limped his way to the edge of his bed. He stripped his filthy, bloody, torn robes, from his sore body and traded for the clean Muggle clothes. He arms cracked and ached with every movement. Before dressing completely, he glanced at his bare chest, assessing the damage done.

Burns, healed but scarred, marred his stomach, the upper half of his left arm, and his hands. There were various minor cuts and scratches all along his body, from branches, hexes, rubble, and Merlin knew what else. He took notice of a particularly nasty, scabbed cut that flanked the right side of his body, vertical and ominous. He decided it would need to be properly healed. Where the Killing curse had hit him was an enormous bruise, purple and angry. He didn't prod it, but decided to best leave it alone.

He dressed then, gingerly draping the clothing over his poor body. His still-sleepy fingers had trouble lacing his trainers, but he eventually sorted everything out. He stood again, his feet feeling slightly better in his cushioned shoes. Glancing at his rucksack beside his bed, he chose that it was alright to leave it until later. He would come back for it. But right now, he had to eat, and find his friends. He didn't want to carry the rucksack with him.

He crossed the dormitory and walked down the familiar, peaceful, spiral stairs. As he pushed open the door, he saw that the Gryffindor common room was also deserted. He had expected this, but felt an unexpected, dull, pang of loneliness. Though no one was in the room, a fire cracked merrily in the fireplace. Harry told himself he was being irrational and that of course everybody must be downstairs.

He pushed open the Fat Lady's portrait and made his way to the hallway outside.

The Fat Lady was in her painting as she swung shut, and it was wonderful to see a familiar face. Harry looked at her, and she looked at him. She said, "It's good to see you awake."

Harry's mouth was dry. He swallowed, and cleared his throat. His voice was hoarse when he said, "How long was I asleep?"

"Two days," said the Fat Lady, "But don't look so surprised, boy. I doubt anyone would be able to stay on their feet for very long after vanquishing the Dark Lord."

"Er, right," said Harry, a little off put. "Do you know where everyone is?"

"In the Great Hall, I presume, or helping with clearing the castle. I shall let the Headmistress know you are awake, though."

"Right," said Harry again, "Thanks."

The Fat Lady proceeded out of her portrait, and Harry continued down the hallway.

He still met nobody on his way downstairs. He noticed, though, that the majority of the rubble on most corridors was clear, though the statues and suits of armor were still missing and windows were still broken. The Grand Staircase was utterly deserted, collapsed railing removed, and it wasn't until he went into the main foyer that he even saw a glimpse of anyone. In pairs, wizards and witches were picking up the fallen brick and stone, cleaning floors, directing orders. He spotted Argus Filch and Mrs. Norris in a corner, surveying the scene.

No one noticed him as he weaved his way through, into the Great Hall. Looking around, it had changed greatly from two days ago. The dead were no longer amongst the living, but had been moved somewhere else. Black drapes had been cast over the walls in mourning, just as when Cedric Diggory and Dumbledore had died. People were still grouped together, continuing to not sit by house. He scanned the table for his friends, and saw a familiar crop of bushy hair seated next to a red haired, freckle faced someone. Smiling, he made his way towards them, noticing that they were alone.

Still, nobody took notice of him, so it was without incident that he reached his two friends. Ron, for once, was not eating. He eyed his full plate of bacon sandwiches and chicken with a look of dull detachment. Hermione was sipping on a bowl of stew, the Daily Prophet spread out in front of her. The front headline read:

THE BOY WHO LIVED VANQUISHES DARK LORD: CELEBRATION ALL OVER THE WIZARDING WORLD.

"Getting creative with their titles, aren't they?" Harry asked lightly.

Hermione jumped, dropping her spoon. Ron's head shot up so quickly that Harry was worried he injured his neck.

"Harry!" Hermione cried with a slight gasp, pushing herself up hurriedly. She hugged him fiercely, gripping the back of his shirt between clenched fingers. He hugged her back tightly, smiling at Ron over her shoulder. Ron had gotten to his feet too. There was a cut across his right cheek, healing, and a bruise on his forehead, but he otherwise looked just fine and freckly as always. Ron gave him a grin, though there was a sadness in it. Harry couldn't shake the feeling that it would be a while before that completely disappeared, and wondered if he had the same look.

Hermione pulled away. Her nose looked like it'd been broken and repaired, and there were bruises along her neck. Her eyes searched his, and he silently asked her for answers.

"Madam Pomfrey said that she didn't expect you to wake up for another day, at least," Hermione said hurriedly, brushing hair impatiently out of her face. "She said that there was too much accumulated stress and sleep-deprivation, and that you needed to sleep everything off."

Harry shrugged. "I should've closed the curtains."

He turned to Ron. They looked at each other for the space of two heartbeats, and then rushed at each other together. Harry gripped his best friend, the new fear that he was dreaming stirring deep in his chest, and he clapped him on the back. There was something unspoken in that hug, something comforting and something deep that Harry couldn't begin to explain. He wasn't sure if Ron was thinking the same things he was, but he thought, at least, that they both shared the feeling of relief that they were safe and alive.

Ron pulled away, and Harry asked, "How is the family?"

Darkness filled his friend's eyes. "They're coping." His voice cracked, "Mum and Dad couldn't stay, they're at home… They couldn't take… Being here…"

Ron worried his bottom lip, pleading silently with Harry. Harry shook his head. "Okay."

The three sat down again, Harry next to Hermione. He hadn't forgotten the scene in the Room of Requirement, with dropped Basilisk fangs and a desperation that he hadn't thought possible. He thought that it would be rather tactless of him to not at least let them sit next to each other.

Hermione was busy shoveling every edible item within her arm's reach under Harry's nose. "Eat, Harry, you've been out for two days, lost a lot of blood, and haven't had a proper meal since Bill and Fleur's."

Harry's mind was too foggy to form an argument, so he did as she suggested, surprised to discover that he was ravenous. Around a mouthful of sandwich, he asked, "What's been happening?"

Ron shrugged his shoulders. "Not too much, mate. They're cleaning the castle, really. Kingsley is Minister of Magic now; the newspapers have covered the story top to bottom; the funerals are starting to be held…"

His voice trailed off, an edge of pain in his voice. Hermione took his hand under the table, her eyes suspiciously bright. Harry looked at her, and she silently mouthed, "Thursday."

The food already almost gone, Harry said, "So there's not much to discuss, is there?"

Ron answered again. "Nothing's happened yet. The only reason that the three of us are still here is because they wanted you to stay and sleep. It doesn't matter, though, most people stayed. Helping the cleanup, you know."

Harry swallowed his last mouthful of food. "Yeah, that makes sense. I just thought—"

"Harry!"

Turning to his right, Harry felt his heart stutter, skip a few beats.

Ginny.

She had never looked more beautiful. Sunlight danced on her flaming hair, turning it a wonderful orange. Her mouth was slightly open, looking at him, her chest rising and falling rapidly. Even from halfway across the Great Hall, their eyes found each other like magnets, looking, hungrily.

He stood up at the same time she started running. Ignoring the fact that Ron and Hermione were behind him watching, and who knew who else, he hastily walked to her, stumbling over his shoes in his hurry. He held out his arms for her, meeting her at the halfway point. She slammed into him with such force that he stumbled backwards, but he didn't care.

Ginny. Ginny.

Her flowery scent washed around him, made him bury his face in her hair and hold her tightly. She gripped him around his chest, brushing the bruise beneath his heart, making him wince, but he didn't care about that either. She was here, in his arms. He suddenly thought that if he was dreaming, it was truly wonderful, and he was okay with sleeping for a while longer. He caught her hair in his left hand, the other wrapped around her slender waist. They held each other close, breathing together, so happy just to see each other again, both alive and virtually unharmed.

Her shoulders shook, just slightly, and that made his heart lurch. He didn't want her to be upset.

Pulling away, he brushed the red hair from her eyes, looking at her. She was uninjured on her face, but he noticed that she held her left wrist slightly more tenderly than her right. He made a note to ask her about it later, when they were alone, talking again. Her eyes were wide, the gorgeous, warm, chocolate color that he loved. They were raw with so many emotions that he couldn't decipher just one. She searched his face, absently brushing a cut next to his lip.

The only thing he managed to get out was, "You're okay… You're okay…"

They took a step back from each other. He was worried that if he kissed her he wouldn't have the strength to stop, that he'd get lost like he usually did. He saw in her face that she was thinking the same thing, and didn't want to try. As they looked, her face fell into the same drawn sadness that Ron had, and she bit the inside of her cheek. She lay a hand at the base of her collarbone, gently, clearing her throat. The gesture, so delicate, pushed his heart clear into his throat, so that he wouldn't be able to talk again if he tried. Harry noticed there was an injury there, though he wasn't sure what it was.

Ginny smiled, softly. "Hey, Potter."

He looked at her some more, trying to convey with his eyes what he couldn't say through the lump in his throat. Ginny said, "I'm glad you're awake. I was starting to get worried."

Harry's face split into an unexpected grin. "You? Worried? Come on now, Weasley, I would've expected better from someone as tough as nails."

Her smile widened. "Cut me some slack. I watched you kill the darkest wizard of all time, and then you slept for forty six hours. Excuse me if I was slightly concerned for your overall wellbeing."

Hermione and Ron had sauntered over, Ron oddly quiet. Hermione and Ginny looked at each other, and then Ginny said, "Hermione and I were discussing earlier today that it was time we all got out of here."

Harry said nothing.

"There isn't much for us to do, you see," Ginny continued, "We thought it would be better if we just made our way home and licked our wounds before jumping back into it."

Harry looked at Ron, and Ron shrugged with a kind of apathy that stirred worry in Harry's mind. Ron had never been the most decisive, but it wasn't like him to remain silent. Harry made another note to check up on him later.

"Okay," Harry found himself agreeing, "I don't really want to stay here either."

Ron and Hermione took the lead out of the Great Hall. Harry and Ginny followed, Ginny taking his hand for just a second, squeezing as though worried he would disappear again.

Okay! I hope everyone enjoyed this! There's more to come, surely! I'm having some trouble not writing, so I might even update tonight! We'll just have to see how it goes. Thanks so much for reading! Please review!