A/N: Here it goes...
Disclaimer: Can't believe I forgot this! That was close. I don't own anything! All belongs to the fabulous JK Rowling.
The Following Morning
Sunlight shone through the window in Gryffindor Tower, casting light onto the five beds in the seventh year boys dormitory. Five boys had gathered in the room seven years before: Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, Ronald Bilius Weasley, and Harry James Potter. All five now remain. Slowly, they began to stir.
Seamus and Dean were the first to wake up on May 3, 1998. Shaken by the previous day's events, both boys thanked Merlin that they were alive, exchanged accounts of their side of the battle, and sat in reverie, remembering those who fought, those who were injured, and those who were lost. Momentarily, they drew their gazes across the room, staring in awe at their roommate, the undoubtedly newly crowned "greatest hero the wizarding world has ever seen," having his first peaceful sleep in over 9 months. Although, one could argue their roommate had not had a peaceful sleep in just under seven years.
Paranoia had haunted Harry Potter for over six and a half years. Since his eleventh birthday, when he entered the world of wizards, the world that was taken from him, he had become a target. He lived in fear, even in his moments of happiness, and would not, could not feel safe. Now, though, he slept in false guilt, and was dreaming of mentors lost, and innocent lives cost.
Seamus and Dean ventured downstairs soon afterward, the hunger catching up to them; but first, they slipped their D.A. coins in their pockets. They, as many other members would, would keep them until they passed on to join their fellow members that were killed.
The next to wake up was Neville. Around nine, he awoke frazzled and confused, before allowing the previous day to come back to him. Slowly, it dawned on him. He was a true Gryffindor! He had killed Nagini, had helped to bring down Voldemort, and had avenged his parents. He was modest, though, and it didn't go to his head much. He simply washed up, and headed downstairs, to mourn with his grandmother, and perhaps have breakfast.
Ron Weasley woke up about an hour later as he usually did: hungry. Gazing over at his best mate of seven years, he imagined what it would be like if he had not sat with Harry that first day on the train, and he had to blink back a few tears. Without Ron and Hermione, Harry wouldn't be here, and Ron wouldn't be who he is without his best friends. Harry needed them, and they needed Harry. His parents murdered by Voldemort, and he livid with horrid relatives for ten years. He deserved friendship, and love, because he had been doomed to a fate that no one else could possibly understand. He admired Harry more than anyone in that moment, and, knowing his friend would never accept his congratulations and admiration, allowed himself to silently congratulate himself, Hermione, and Harry. They had killed Voldemort. They had accomplished the task they had set out on several months before, the one that could save everyone.
And this brought his thoughts to Hermione. Merlin, he loved her. He was going to do everything he could to spend the rest of his life with her. There was no one else he could every possibly love the same way. And, best of all, he knew that she felt the same way! She had kissed him, and he had felt it. It was a kiss filled with fire, and passion, and love. They were unequivocally in love with each other, and, finally, nothing could stand between them.
Unfortunately, his thoughts soon drifted downstairs, to where this "girl of dreams" resided, and this brought him to his family she was undoubtedly sitting with. And he couldn't contain his tears this time. Fred. His older brother. One of his role models. A jokester, a loyal family member through and through. He brought light in darkness, and happiness in hard times. And now he was gone, the ghost of his last laugh affixed forever in the halls of Hogwarts. He had lost a brother, and if he was correctly predicting how George felt right now, probably another half of one. He thought of Percy, Charlie, and Bill, the oldest of the family. Percy had returned; he had realized family was more important. If the circumstances were different, Ron knew he would not allow himself to forgive so easily; but now, with a hole in their family, he was unconditionally forgiving. People make mistakes. Percy's happened to be rather large, but he had realized, and came to his senses, and was mourning Fred, and Ron couldn't pick a fight with Percy now. Charlie was here too, to stay with the family. He knew it wasn't as long as Ron would like him to stay, but Charlie would be there for all of them. And Bill had Fleur now to comfort him in the loss of Fred. Bill would be strong, steady for Mum, but undoubtedly torn up inside. Then he thought of Ginny. She was closer to the twins than probably anyone else in the family, and she was definitely falling apart at this moment. She was strong, but her facade was cracking. She had fought bravely, for her family, and their brother had paid the price. But she had fought for love, and this drifted Ron's thoughts back to Harry. He deserved Ginny. Ginny deserved, and needed someone as great as Harry. They shared a bond, and, even if they couldn't, Ron could tell they loved each other, and they would get through it together. And now, he couldn't take not seeing them anymore, and he was rather hungry, so he headed downstairs to eat, and mourn, with his family.
Lastly, around eleven o' clock in the morning, the boy called Harry Potter awoke with the gentle sunlight settling on his face. It was the first time in recent memory he could recall waking up in peace. The peace did not last, however. Guilt was quickly filling his conscience. The Weasleys, the only real family he had ever known, had lost a sibling, thanks to him. Teddy Remus Lupin, his godson, the son of Remus: one of Harry's mentors, his favorite Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, and his father's last remaining friend, and Tonks: the brave, clumsy, ever light-hearted, but ever determined and strong metamorphogus auror, was without parents, thanks to him. Lavender Brown and Colin Creevey, innocent students, were dead, thanks to him. And Severus Snape, the man he had always loathed, who had actually been protecting him the entire way, had been personally killed by Nagini, thanks. to. him. He was not able to see his achievement in defeating the greatest dark wizard of all time, and to recognize how much the Wizarding community was in awe and thanks of him; he was blinded by the guilt consuming him. In his mind, he had screwed up completely, and he didn't deserve to be happy when so many were not. People had died for him, and everything: the dead, the mourning; they were his fault. He couldn't face the awaiting audience in the Great Hall, so he went back to sleep.
Two hours later, Harry was awoken with a shove. He opened his eyes to see a disgruntled Ron and a very concerned Hermione.
"Mate, what's going on? Come downstairs. Everyone needs to see you. Everyone wants to see that you're okay. Mum is having a right fit," Ron began.
"Please, Harry. Everyone wants to talk to you. We did it, you know? We beat him. You beat him! What's wrong?" Hermione asked, joining him on his four poster.
"Please go away. I don't deserve to talk to any of these people. They trusted me! They put everything they had in my hands. What've I done to help in return? Nothing. Funeral plans to make, that's for sure," Harry rejected, falling back on his bed.
"Please tell me he's joking. Hermione, is he joking?" Ron asked. "You're joking, right?" sending the question toward Harry.
Harry sat back up, angry, "No, Ron, I am NOT joking. Creevey. Tonks. Lupin. FRED. They're dead! They're never coming back! And it's thanks to me! I let them fight my battles, and they paid the price. And here I am, perfectly fine! Not a scratch! I can't show my face down there. I at least owe them that!"
And suddenly, Hermione lost it. "Harry. James. Potter. These people did not die for YOU. They died fighting for a better world! For the future of everyone! How could you possibly think of yourself like that? You've saved us all, Harry. Don't you understand that? And if anyone deserves to be happy, it's you. You've suffered for seventeen years. You defeated Voldemort six times. Don't you think you've suffered enough? God, Harry, you're allowed to be happy! And in case you haven't noticed, you sacrificed yourself, too! You told us everything! We all thought you were dead. You were willing to give up your life to save everyone at Hogwarts yesterday," Hermione yelled, clear frustration etched on her face, and tears welling up in her eyes. Ron moved to comfort her, sliding an arm around her waist. She turned, crying into his shoulder. When she caught her breath, she turned back to Harry and flung her arms around his neck, embracing him and crying hard. Harry tentatively put his arms around her, comforting her. After awhile, Hermione looked up at him, "Please, Harry," she said, "We could've lost you. Do you know how scared I was? Ron was? Mr. and Mrs. Weasley? Ginny? WE love you. WE care about you. And WE need you to face the fact that you're a hero, that none of these losses were your fault, and that you have us: a family who loves and cares about you, and wants nothing more than to know that you're okay. Please?" she cried, desperate.
Harry finally let himself cry. The tears fell, the ones he'd been trying to hold in, and hard sobs racked his body. He leaned into his best friend, burrowing his face in her shoulder as she curled into him as well. Tears soaked their clothing. They sat there for a long time. When Harry's tears slowed down, and he took scattered breath, he let out,
"I'm so sorry! It's just- everything is my fault! Ron, Ginny, they've lost a brother! Students, dead! Teddy, without parents! An orphan, just like me. I-," he wiped his eyes, and let out a breathy laugh, "I just can't deal with any of this..."
That's when Ron spoke up, cutting off his friend, "NO, Harry. Mate, look at me," he stated firmly. He'd had enough of this. His best mate had pretty much just saved the world, and he was sitting here crying over Ron's brother. Ron was sad, and he had plenty left to mourn, but his mate needed him. "I can't believe you're still thinking like this. They fought along side you, they stood for what you stood for. They knew what they were getting into, and they did it for the future of wizards and muggles and the like. They fought for the future, and thanks to YOU, it's going to be a great one!"
This seemed to help, and finally, Harry calmed and quieted, recognizing that the deaths were, in fact, not his fault. Harry hugged his best friends, telling them everything he wanted to with his arms around them: Thank you. I'm sorry. Thanks some more. For always being there. But, he still felt like he needed to say it.
"You guys are the greatest, you know that, right?" Harry asked, finally looking up at them.
"I try," Ron joked.
Harry and Hermione laughed. Hermione took both Ron's and Harry's hands, dragging them down to the Great Hall so Harry could confront his greatest enemy at the moment, now that Voldemort had been defeated: hunger.
A/N 2: You can skip this if you want, but I would appreciate you reading it as it's my first one :) Wow, first time doing that. I'm new here! I can't wait to start this project! I'll be totally honest, this is not my element. I aspire to be a civil engineer. I am writing this story because I browsed for DAYS, and I could not find ONE complete, canon fanfic that covered the nineteen years between the end of deathly hallows and before the epilogue. This story will aim to fill in those nineteen years, and I will do my best to get it done. It will basically be my "summer project," along with a series of art on the next generation (perhaps I shall link that. they will be published on deviantart, also due to my lack of being able to find good next gen art). All pairings are canon. Chapters will probably cover large periods of time. I've done a lot of research on this topic, gathering everything I can about the next generation and life after Hogwarts. The only thing I've changed for sure, so far, is that Ron never leaves the aurors, and is only at the shop before his training, helping George get up and running again. The story will be, for the majority, very happy and light-hearted. Of course, that will not always be the case, but everything will always work out in the end; so if you're looking for angst and drama, you're in the wrong place. I can promise that the story will definitely be well written, proper grammar and all that, because that is my biggest peeve in other stories. And if I slip up, I would LOVE for someone to tell me so I can fix it and make this an enjoyable experience for everyone. I will try and have frequent updates, but I'm not making any promises I can't keep in order to lesson the blow haha :) Finally, a few things: excuse my corny chapter titles, and I'm not British, so sorry if I mess up lingo and stuff. So basically, I'm really excited about this, and I hope you enjoyed! Review please!