Breakfast the next day was quiet. Everyone kept to their own thoughts, each trying in their own way to forget what had happened. Molly told them at the end of the meal that that day they would be going to clean up the wreckage of Hogwarts, to, “take our minds off… everything”. Harry was happy to do it. Physical work was the best thing that he could do to distract himself from his own mind.
So at ten o’clock, they filed one by one into the large fireplace, stepping out again in professor McGonagall’s circular office. They gathered in the the now Not-So-Great Hall, along with several other Order members and old school mates. One wall had all but disappeared, and there were great craters in the floor and ceiling where spells had missed their targets.
A Ministry employee stood in front of them, and split them into groups to do different tasks. Harry was with Neville, Ron and Dean - they had to demolish some of the remaining wall so that a new one could be built more easily. It was dull work, but Harry relished it. The monotony of saying ‘deprimo’ over and over again meant that he wouldn’t have to think. They had been working for a couple of hours when Ron came over to work by Harry. “Hey mate”, he said, trying to sound casual, but Harry could hear the worry in his tone.
“Alright Ron?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine… I was going to ask your advice actually…” Ron hesitated, and Harry urged him on with a look. “Well, um, it’s about Hermione actually.”
Harry wrinkled his nose a little. “Listen mate,” he said, “I think it’s great that you two finally got together, but I could really do without listening to what you two get up to alone…”
“No! Not like that! It’s just… We haven’t … done anything since that night, and, well, do you think she still wants me? Or was it just heat of the moment? Did she only do it because we could have died?” It was only Ron’s look of genuine concern that stopped Harry from laughing.
“Ron, you are an idiot. Hermione’s been in love with you since sixth year! Well, that was the first time I noticed anyway. I bet you anything that at this moment Hermione is asking Ginny the exact same thing. Go find her now, and ask her!”
“Thanks mate” Ron said, and he hastily went off in search of Hermione. Harry chuckled to himself at how stupid his best friend could be, and looked at his watch. It was midday, and even with magic, the demolition was hard work. He decided to go to Hogsmeade to find himself a sandwich and a butterbeer.
He began walking the well-trodden path that weaved through the grounds towards the village. There was destruction everywhere, but for the magical clearing where the ceremony of the dead had been held. Hagrid’s Hut had been destroyed by death eaters when he had held his ‘Support Harry Potter’ party, and had not been repaired yet. The lake had become murky with all the dust and debris, but the Giant Squid’s tentacles still lolled out in the air lazily, just like Harry had always known them to.
As he walked, he hummed to himself. It wasn’t really a song, but the melody felt familiar. Sad. It ached inside of him as he created the notes. His head was down as he sung to himself, so he didn’t notice Ginny until she was right next to him, her arm through his.
“You did nothing wrong you know” She said.
“I know. It’s just… hard. I try to think what I could have done so that not so much was lost. I keep hypothesising, but it doesn’t get me anywhere.”
“Of course it doesn’t!” She elbowed him playfully in the ribs. “Harry everyone is proud of you. Everyone says that you did exactly the right thing. Voldemort is dead. Because of you. Everyone knows that you are the reason that we all still have our lives.” Ginny always made him feel so special. It seemed that she knew what to say to him whatever his mood. He loved that about her. There were so many things that he loved about her.
“Ginny”, he said, “You remember why I had to break up with you?” She gave a sharp intake of breath, wondering whether she had said something wrong. He continued before she could say anything. “Well, that reason isn’t a reason anymore. I had to fight Voldemort. I did, and now he’s dead. I think that you are the most perfect person in the world, and if I didn’t ask you to go out with me again I’d be…” He was cut off when ginny threw her arms around his neck and kissed him for all she was worth.
“Harry”, she murmured in his ear, “In my mind I you never stopped being my boyfriend, and I hope that you never will” They walked hand in hand towards the village, not talking, just happy to be in each other’s company.
Ron found Hermione chatting with Luna Lovegood whilst filling in some of the holes in the walls.
“Hermione!” Ron shouted from across the room, hurrying to her.
“Oh, hello Ron. I thought you were blasting up the walls”, said Luna dreamily, addressing Ron while staring at a spot a few inches past his left ear.
“Oh, yeah, well I err… took a break, and I just wanted to talk to Hermione”. Luna sidled away, whistling a little and staring vaguely at the wreckage around her. Hermione smiled at Ron, rather shyly he thought. “So I was wondering, well, the night of the battle, you and I…” Ron’s ears were turning the shade of the Gryffindor scarf wrapped round his neck. Hermione blushed as well. Ron seemed to have trailed off into silence, so she said, hoping against hope that it wasn’t true,
“Oh, well, if you don’t want it to mean anything, then…” she looked down at her feet, fighting back tears. Ron was shocked. He took Hermione’s words as meaning that she didn’t want him, so he said quickly,
“Oh! Oh, well… sure, I mean, if that’s what… what you want…” Both of them were staring at their shoelaces, and as Ron turned to go, they both had tears in their eyes.
Ron wove his way sadly back to his work station, kicking every stone that he could along the way. All that he could think was that she had rejected him. He had tried to act like that was what he wanted as well, but he didn’t know if he could do it much longer. Little did he know that at the same time, Hermione was thinking the exact same thing.