Nothing would ever be the same. These words played over and over again in Harry’s mind following the days after Mr. Weasley’s funeral. Never again would he be able to walk the halls of Hogwarts without thinking about the battle, Dean or Mr. Weasley. They were everywhere in the castle and any time Harry would look at Ron or mount a broom they would enter his mind for a moment. It was the least they deserved.
It was finally the day in which everyone was leaving to go home. The students who had been put to sleep had rejoined their classmates after the funerals. The great hall was filled with copies of The Daily Prophet, everyone wanting to read about their friends. Dumbledore was allowed to contact the paper and give them the full account of the battle. A large picture of Mr. Weasley and Dean were on the front page with the title “Heroes Among Us”. The article was probably the most tasteful one Harry had ever read. It gave a complete accurate account of everything that happened. From the dragon attack earlier in the day to the blinding white light that caused the Dark Lord to flee. Dumbledore however did leave a few things out, mostly about the spell that was performed on the four heroes. The trio now sat eating their breakfast and preparing to part from one another.
“Now that the Dursley’s officially moved to the country, where are you gonna stay?” Ron asked as he piled his plate full of eggs and sausage. Harry smiled inwardly as he watched his friend eat, as long as Ron had is appetite Harry knew his friend would be ok.
“Grimmauld Place,” Harry smiled thinking about having a summer free of the Dursley’s and free of fear. “What about you?”
“Mum’s looking for a place to rent close to St. Mungo’s,” Ron muttered as he ate some toast.
“Why don’t you stay at Grimmauld? I have more then enough room,” the thought of living alone in the house seemed a little depressing to Harry.
“Thanks mate but we don’t want to be a burden,” Ron said. Harry gave Ron a look like he was crazy. He then looked around for Mrs. Weasley and saw her eating at the opposite end of the Gryffindor table. He quickly got up and walked over to her.
“Mrs. Weasley,” He said softly as he knelt down to talk with her.
“Harry,” she gave a tired smile. “how are you, Dear?”
“Well I’d feel a lot better knowing your family was staying at Grimmauld,” the young man smiled. “Please Mrs. Weasley, you’re family has done so much for me.”
“Oh Harry I don’t know how long we’d be – ”
“Doesn’t matter,” Harry cut the woman off. “You all are welcome to live there as long as you want,” Harry tried to smile. “Besides, what will I do all summer by myself?”
“What about Julia, won’t she be staying with you?” Mrs. Weasley asked. Harry and Julia had barley had any time to talk since they had woken up. She had to go to the Ministry with the members of the Last Alliance and talk about their plans to look for Voldemort.
“I don’t know,” Harry looked down at the floor. “But I have plenty of room, and you’ll be close to St Mungo’s.” Mrs. Weasley thought for a moment.
“We’ll earn our keep, I’ll cook the meals and I’ll have Fred and George give you rent money,” Mrs. Weasley started to rummage through her bag.
“No,” Harry put a calming hand on hers. “You’re my family,” he said ever so gently. “As long as I know you all are safe and near me that’s all the payment I need.” Mrs. Weasley quickly wrapped Harry into a bear hug, nearly squeezing the stuffing out of him.
“Thank you,” Mrs. Weasley whispered. “We’re going to St. Mungo’s from King Cross to check in on Charlie, Draco and Dumbledore, once we know they’re settled in we’ll come by the house.”
“Would you mind if I joined you? I want to make sure Dumbledore is ok,” Harry asked.
“Of course,” Mrs. Weasley smiled. Harry started to get up and leaved when Mrs. Weasley put a hand on his arm. “You are truly a great wizard Harry, your parents would be so proud of you.”
“Thank you,” He smiled as he headed back towards his friends. Later that day the students boarded the train. Harry was desperately searching the platform for Julia, Lupin or Hagrid but he couldn’t find any of them.
“You going to leave with out sayin’ goodbye are yer’s?” Hargid’s voice boomed.
“Of course not,” Harry walked over to his large friend. “Will I see you this summer?”
“Oh I reckon you will,” Hagrid smiled. He had taken quite the beating from the other giants but he had recovered and now only had small cuts on his arms and face. “Especially since your aunt has taken over the Order while Dumbledore is sick.”
“She has?” Again Harry felt out of the loop again. Why was Julia not contacting him or asking about him? The train’s whistle blew indicating the final boarding call.
“You best be getting on the train Harry. I’ll see you at St. Mungo’s,” Hagrid winked before walking away. Harry boarded the train and found Hermione and Ron standing in the hallway. Apparently everyone from the battle wanted to sit in the compartment the trio was sitting in. So Harry decided they all could fit in the dinning car. Harry sat in the middle and watched as friends recounted some of their adventures through out the year. What made Harry laugh was that the students didn’t necessarily want to talk with Harry, just be near him. So many things had changed but Harry was still alive and still fighting, he was the one constant in all the chaos. So Harry was content to just sit and watch as people would tell stories, then shout out to him a question, which he would answer. It was during the train ride that Harry noticed the tension between Hermione and Ginny.
“Hermione,” Harry whispered. She was sitting next to him in the booth they had taken, while Ron and Luna sat across from them. “During the battle when you came back from helping Hagrid. Something was wrong.”
“It’s Draco,” Hermione said as she looked over at Ginny. “I saw him falling and tried to catch him but I couldn’t hold on. He told me to fly above some trees and drop him once his feet were touching the top of them. As I let him go Ginny came flying by, she thinks I dropped him on purpose,” Hermione looked at Harry. “I wouldn’t do that Harry, even if Draco hadn’t changed.” Harry quickly wrapped Hermione in a hug. He knew she was telling the truth, he could feel it but you can’t explain a feeling to a friend.
“I’m sure once Draco wakes up he’ll explain everything,” Harry said before kissing the top of Hermione’s head. As the train got closer to King Cross it dawned on Harry that he was going to have to leave Hermione. A thought he wasn’t too happy about, especially with Voldemort still out there. After a moment, Harry saw Ron and Hermione looking over at him. He realized they had felt his worries. This connection was still a strange thing for Harry, even though it had technically saved his life. However the connection was a little weak due to the fourth element being so far away.
“Don’t you worry Mr. Potter,” Hermione smiled. “I’ll be visiting you this summer.”
“I’ll keep an eye on him Hermione,” Ron smiled. “Somebody’s got to keep him out of trouble.”
“Then it looks like it will be me, since your middle name is trouble,” Added Luna. The group laughed, a sound that was music to Harry’s ears. They all would move past the scars of this battle, Harry was certain of it. An hour later the massive group of students gathered on the platform. The camaraderie this group now had would last them all a lifetime. Goodbyes were shared, addresses were exchanged and promises made to visit new friends. After several minutes, children began to filter through the wall. Harry, Hermione and Ron were talking and weren’t even paying attention until Hermione’s parents called out her name. The trio stopped and looked at each other, splitting up was probably the toughest thing they had to do. Hermione put on her best smile and gave Ron a kiss on the cheek.
“Please keep me updated on Charlie’s condition, I’ll probably come visit in a couple of weeks if he’s still at St. Mungo’s,” Hermione said while hugging her friend.
“Take your time with your parents,” Ron whispered back. “I’ll write you everyday,” Ron said as he pulled out of the hug. “I promise.” Hermione then said her goodbyes to Luna and Neville. She turned and looked at Harry.
“Promise me you’ll be careful,” Harry said as Hermione slid her arms around his waist. They held each other for several minutes, each not wanting to be the first one to let go. “I love you” Harry whispered into her hair.
“And I you,” Her eyes were wide and vulnerable as she looked up at Harry.
“Hermione,” Her mother called out. “It’s time sweetheart.” To everyone’s surprise, including Harry’s, Hermione crashed her lips on to the young mans. When they parted Harry had the goofiest grin on his face.
“Just remember,” Hermione whispered. “The ones we love never truly leave us.” And with that Hermione slowly started to back away. They continued to hold each other’s hands until their very fingertips were left and when the physical connection was lost Harry desperately held on to the mental one. It wasn’t until Hermione was out of sight that Harry figured out why Hermione had said that last phrase. Sirius had spoken those exact words to Harry in his third year, right before taking off on Buckbeak.
Half an hour later Harry was watching the Weasley’s make sure Charlie was comfortable. The healers at St. Mungo’s were optimistic that he might regain the use of his legs. As the day went on, Harry noticed Ginny walk over to Draco’s bed, which conveniently was across from Charlie’s. In fact, Harry noticed that the entire ward was full of everyone from the battle, save one. Dumbledore had his own private room just across the hall from the ward. Harry learned that Dumbledore had insisted on it. Harry made his way over to the room and quietly entered. The old wizard was sleeping. Harry took a seat next to the bed and just watched as Dumbledore’s chest slowly rose and fell. The young man’s eyes became heavy and soon Harry was trying to keep himself awake.
“You don’t need to watch over me Harry,” came the raspy voice of the Headmaster. “I don’t plan on leaving any time soon.”
“Professor!” Harry snapped out of his daze.
“Yes I’m alive, and plan on staying that way for a while,” the wizard coughed.
“Save your strength Professor,” Harry said as he gave Dumbledore a glass of water from his trey.
“I fear this next year will be difficult Harry,” the Headmaster spoke softly. “Voldemort is like a wounded animal. Anything that comes near it can provoke it or cause it to do bad things.”
“Don’t worry,” Harry said. “I’ll be careful.”
“Good,” Dumbledore closed his eyes for a moment. “Harry,” he said suddenly.
“I’m here,” Harry scooted closer to the old wizard.
“I’m proud of you,” the wizard yawned before falling back asleep. Harry sat stunned for a moment he never thought praise from Dumbledore would feel so good. A sad smile formed on the young boys face. He knew with Hermione and Ron’s help they could find a cure for the Headmaster.
“Harry,” a hushed whisper came from the door. Harry turned to see Julia standing in the doorway. “It’s time to go home.” There was a time when Harry would only associate that word with Hogwarts but now Harry could associate it to wherever his family was. The young man got up and left the old wizard to rest. Julia patted him on the back as they joined the Weasley’s in the hallway. For the first time in his life Harry would be going to a real home with a real family, all of whom loved him dearly.
A/N - The first thing I have to do is thank my boy friend who read every single chapter trying to fix any spelling and grammar mistakes he could. Obviously he did get them all but I want to thank him for the effort.
As I mentioned in the last chapter I will be writing a squeal. I'm going to take some time off but I'm thinking September will probably be when I start posting again. I'll try to respond to your last reviews of this chapter. Please don't get frustrated if I'm slow to respond.
There were so many times when I was busy that I didn't want to update, but then I'd stop by the website and read your reviews. Some of you who started this journey with me and had to wait for every pains taking chapter, then there were those who joined once the story was already in progress. I'm truly blessed to have you all as reads. No amount of thank you's could truly express my gratitude for your support. I know I'm a lucky writer and it is with a heavy heart that I end this story. But all stories must come to an end but in their ending there's the possibility or a new beginning. With love as always - Julia Potter ;-)
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