Chapter 48 : How to Say Goodbye
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Heroes Really Do Walk This Earth
Special report by Rita Skeeter
The war, which has split our world in two, finally ended eight days ago in a bloody battle on the grounds of Hogwarts itself. While both sides suffered heavy losses, the death eaters were defeated and You-Know-Who himself died at the hands of the four Founders and Harry Potter.
Harry, who had previously managed to raise an wondrous army consisting of all manner of creatures, not just witches and wizards, engaged You-Know-Who in a duel to the death. Though lacking in experience, Harry fought with the valour and tenaciousness of the heroes of old, defending his friends fiercely.
After walking through another killing curse without so much as a scratch, he changed into a previously unknown animagus form, a huge bear, and tore You-Know-Who to shreds. As unbelievable as it may sound, the act was seen by yours truly and even now I am still astonished when I look at the usually reserved teenage boy.
This reporter has no doubt that the wizarding community will be thanking Harry for his courage for years to come, not only for his final act of defeating the Dark Lord, but for being that beacon of light and hope the world needed during its darkest hours.
Alongside were four of the greatest witches and wizards this world has ever seen, with the Founders of Hogwarts being somehow summoned through time to fight with Harry. While great curiosity has arisen to their presence, due to their wish for privacy, information regarding them has become rather scare over the last few days. Speculation has even gone so far as to say that they have returned to their own time. However, yours truly can say that she has seen them around Hogwarts, tirelessly repairing the damage done to their beloved castle.
While most of the wizarding world celebrates the fall of the evil that has plagued us for so long, we must still not forget those who gave their lives to defend us, making the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom.
Among the dead are...
Harry sighed and lifted his eyes from the news article. Eight days had passed since Voldemort’s death and all the publicity was starting to make his head spin. If he had thought that he was famous and revered before, he was sadly mistaken. Apparently entire rooms of Hogwarts had been dedicated to receiving all of his fan mail with several volunteers (mainly eager school children) going through them and sorting them into categories.
Ginny sat opposite him in the dining hall, her tired eyes staring unfocussed out the window. After a moment she turned to him and seeing him watching her, smiled, “Anything good in there today?”
“Rita’s report has come out.” Harry replied.
“Oh? And what tall story does our favourite reporter spin this time? Let me guess, she stood over you, facing Voldemort herself while you lay crying on the ground?” Ginny asked scathingly.
“Actually no, she is pretty accurate. I mean, she embellishes a little, saying that I killed Voldemort. But in terms of the actual report, it is alright.”
Ginny looked unconvinced but didn’t say anything else. The Great Hall doors opened and Hermione and Ron staggered in, their haggard faces begging for some respite. Seeing Harry and Ginny, they walked over and sat down heavily.
Giving them sympathetic looks, Harry passed over some food. Gratefully accepting it, Ron hastily started cramming it into his mouth. Hermione gave him a fond glare before turning her attention to Harry, “We were accosted again by those reporters at the gates. Seems like everyone is desperate to interview you. Particularly since that pesky one from the Prophet got scared off by Salazar when he tried to interview the founders. I think they have realised that they aren’t going to get to talk to them so you are their next best target.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “I am flattered. Besides, the founders would have been happy to give an interview, but when someone printed something about them that wasn’t true, they were quite annoyed and immediately closed up.”
“Leaving the rest of us to deal with the army of reporters that are hell bent on interviewing them!” Ron exclaimed around some toast.
Shrugging, Harry said, “I can deal with the reporters. The founders have done so much for us, if they want a bit of peace and quiet, I say fantastic!”
“I think we all deserve some peace and quiet. Particularly after this last week.” Ginny said softly, “Unfortunately the adoring public just won’t leave us alone.”
The other three nodded their heads, sombreness flitting over their faces as they thought about all the friends and comrades that they buried over the last week. The Great Hall was decorated in black with the images of departed faces floating around the room with candles arrayed next to them.
Hermione was staring at one face in particular, “I just can’t believe she is gone. I mean, aside from Hagrid she was the first person we met at Hogwarts and she was such a solid individual, always someone you could lean on.”
Harry raised his eyebrows, “Except for this year you mean. But yes, I agree, McGonagall will definitely be missed by many and Hogwarts itself will grieve her death.”
Ginny frowned, “She was a total monster this year Harry!”
Inclining his head he sighed, “She is dead now Ginny, I cannot hold one year’s worth of mistakes against an individual who spent her entire life trying to do what is right. Besides, even this year, she was trying to do what she felt was right and good, and while misguided, I cannot fault her heart.”
Ginny made a noncommittal noise in the back of her throat, reaching for some more pumpkin juice instead of replying. Harry smiled fondly at the fiery red head, dreams of the future already wafting through his consciousness as he examined her.
However, as he stared around at the blackened walls he sighed, “So much death and what was it all for? A power hungry monster and a few people duped into thinking they could share in that power. All those innocents, slaughtered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or simply for being a different type of human. It just seems so senseless. Voldemort should never have been allowed to get such power in the first place.”
Ginny interrupted him, “Harry enough. Voldemort got power because people turned a blind eye for too long. There will always be people drawn to power and only with other people to oppose such beliefs will the world remain in light. Voldemort’s rise to power is something for the rest of the world to feel guilty over, not you.”
Harry gave a half smile, “But you and I both know that the world does not feel guilty for its transgressions.”
“Mores the pity.”
Hermione put a comforting hand on Harry’s shoulder, “Well, it is all over now and you can finally live your life in peace and freedom.”
“Mr Potter! Mr Potter! Could I please have a word with you!” A voice shouted out.
Harry lowered his raised wand at the rapidly approaching reporter. A fierce glare had appeared on his face as soon as the door had burst open and he had to use all of his restraint not to curse the reporter.
Ginny was not so disciplined and she cried out, “Impendimenta!” Instantly the reporter froze and she hissed at him, “While you are standing there, listen very closely. You and all of your fellow vultures were banned to the gates of Hogwarts for a reason. There is to be no interviews given by anyone within the castle until after the school year has finished. Now, I would kindly suggest you leave before I and my friends take exception to your harassment of Harry.”
As if to emphasise her point, Ron and Hermione pulled out their wands as she released the man. He gave Harry a look of longing, but the death stares that the other three were giving him was enough to convince him to save his own skin. Turning around, he fairly fled out of the Hall.
Harry grinned over at Hermione as they sat back down at the table, “Well, perhaps not so much in peace and freedom Herm.”
“So mate, apart from dodging reporters, what do you intend to do now? Join the Aurors?” Ron asked curiously.
Harry shook his head, “No, not initially anyway. I swore an oath to our allies and I fully intend to keep it. As soon as the smoke clears from this war I intend to whip up some more. I am going to get equal rights for all magical creatures, and so help me anyone who gets in the way is going to get run over. I have seen how terribly our fellow sentients are treated and it sticks in my throat.”
Ron grinned, “You know, for someone who hates making speeches, you certainly are pretty good at them when no one is around.”
“Shut up Ron!” Harry playfully punched his arm.
“Well, you know that we are with you no matter what.” Hermione said.
“Thanks Hermione, that means a lot. Especially since I think taking on the Ministry is going to be much harder than tackling Voldemort.”
Ginny frowned, “Why would you think that? The minister is a part of the DA!”
“One word: bureaucracy.”
The doors to the Great Hall opened once again and the founders walked in, each wearing a concerned and contemplative expression. When they spotted the four teens they made their way over, Helga asking softly, “Could you four come with us please, we need to talk to you in private. Also, summon Luna and Neville please.”
They followed the founders back out of the hall with Harry shooting off patronuses to the two missing leaders. They made their way through the newly repaired castle to Phoenix’s Nest, the bright warm colours relaxing them immediately.
It wasn’t too long before Neville and Luna hastened into the Nest, their flushed faces indicating they had run the entire way, “W-wha-what’s up?” Neville panted.
“Have a seat and catch your breath.” Godric grinned.
When they were all comfortable, Rowena got to her feet and started to pace, “For the last few days all four of us have been experiencing a very weird feeling, almost as if we are fading. Like a tugging at our hearts”
Harry felt his face tighten as the implications of what she was saying sank in, “You mean you are being pulled back.”
She nodded, “As far as I can tell. I have spent all my free time trying to research what could be going on, but since time travel to such an extent was believed impossible, there was no point of reference for the return journey.”
Ginny clasped Harry’s hand, “So what can you do?”
Helga sighed, “That’s just it, we honestly do not know. Rowena thinks that if we simply accept the feeling, embrace it wholeheartedly then we will be returned to our own time. But that is purely speculation. Considering that the castle brought us here we figure that it has decided that it is time for us to go back.”
“So you’re leaving?” Hermione asked softly, her voice echoing disappointment.
Harry said, “Hermione, they are not from here, they have to return.” He turned sad eyes to the founders, “Besides, they have their own war to fight, their own Dark Lord to destroy. How could we keep them here and doom their world to darkness? They have done so much for us, but we have to let them go.”
Helga had tears in her eyes but Salazar gave him a grateful smile, “Thank you for understanding Harry. You truly have grown up into a strong leader and I think that if you looked into that mirror again, your reflection would be the same as your wish.”
“It is I and everyone here who should be thanking you four. Not only did you train us into a fighting force, but you taught us about our rights and responsibilities as well as defeating Voldemort. You saved our world, for without you we surely would have fallen into darkness.” Harry replied, standing up.
Salazar gave a wry smile, “Still trying to make me cry eh?”
Giving a cheeky shrug Harry smiled, “Well I am fast running out of opportunities.”
“Sorry Harry, not this time.” The snake founder stood up and to the surprise of all, embraced Harry, “Live upright and proud, keep true to your beliefs and be not afraid of darkness.”
“I will Salazar.”
Rowena hugged him next, “Good luck with your next quest Harry. Though I don’t think you’ll need it; you have been my best student.”
Grinning at her in thanks Harry felt himself choke off when Godric pulled him into a tight hug, “Prank the twins for me would you? They pulled one over me a couple of days ago and I owe them.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “I don’t have a death wish Godric. You should have done your own dirty work.”
“Eh, it was worth a try.”
Finally Helga approached Harry, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. Harry smiled at the woman who had been the closest thing to a mother to him, who supported him and loved him. Wrapping her arms around him she whispered, “No matter what Harry, do not forget to live. No matter what life throws at you, always be true to yourself. Love your friends, love Ginny, and most importantly, be happy.”
The swell of emotion rising within him was overwhelming and felt a slight wetness roll down his cheeks. She wiped his tears away just as Salazar smirked, “Definitely more Gryffindor than Slytherin.”
As the founders finished saying their goodbyes to the others, Harry saw Helga whisper something into Ginny’s ear, causing the red-head to blush and nod.
Finally, the four stood together, with them all looking at Rowena for clarification. She bit her lip, “Well, I hope this works, just, think of home and pretend to like the feeling that has been bothering us.”
“But how will we know if it - ” Godric started to say, but disappeared mid-sentence.
Helga started, “Hey wai - ”
She and Rowena disappeared together and Salazar rolled his eyes at the teens before he to disappeared.
Harry turned to Ginny, an amused grin on his face, “They left as they arrived, confused and unorganised.”
She nodded, chuckling through her tears, “I would have liked to have seen Helga berating Godric for leaving first when they arrived.”
“So what did Helga say to you?” Harry asked interestedly.
Blushing again she muttered, “You’ll find out on our wedding night.”
Harry gave a wry smile, “Will you even remember it by then?”
She nodded emphatically, “I don’t think I could ever forget it.”
The others laughed as they left Phoenix’s Nest for the last time. Walking outside Harry felt his eyes dazzled by the beautiful sunset. It was like the earth herself was rejoicing in the freedom that it had been denied for so long.
He felt Ginny’s head lay itself on his shoulder, her small fingers entwining with his own. Peace and contentment wafted through him as he and his friends stood side by side, looking out at the slowly setting sun.
A/N: Right first off --> YAY! ITS FINALLY DONE! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!
Please forgive my yelling, but you have to admit, 235000 words is quite an effort lol.
I hope that you enjoyed this final chapter. Personally I thought it fell a little flat but anyways.
There are so many different people that I would like to thank for being there but one in particular stands out. Sinwillys822 has been there from the very beginning, constantly reviewing and giving me feedback and I am truly grateful for the encouragement. Thanks! :D
Now, as far as a sequel goes.... At this stage I do not plan to write one in the near future as I am busily working on my own original novel. However, I never say never and I do have a couple of plotlines which could definitely see themseleves worked as stories!
Well that about wraps it up, obviously I would absolutely LOVE for you to review, even if its merely to say that you read the story :p (quite an effort on your parts!) I will continue to read and reply to reviews, so please, even if you are reading this story a year after it has been completed, please PLEASE leave a review. Helpful hints and constructive critism are ALWAYS welcome!!Note: if you wish to know if a character survived or not, I can tell you, I have a list of all of my characters and their living/dead status lol! I just didn’t list them all cause that would have been boring and pointless lol.