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Chapter Thirteen

“… then take the second left at Park Avenue and that’s Godric’s Hollow,” Remus said to Harry, a mental map forming in his mind. Harry nodded and repeated the instructions, checking them over with Remus whilst he still could to make sure that he was going in the right direction.

It was the letters the day before, the one specifically from his mother, which had made him want to visit the home he had once had, or the location which had once been his home. He had been told before that the house was destroyed and he didn’t know what he’d find there. Remus confided that he wasn’t sure what would be there either; he hadn’t been back since the day after the Potters’ deaths. He did have to admit to a slight inkling of wonder at how things had changed but it would be far too painful for he, Remus, to return. For Harry it would be less so; after all, he had never known the people whose graves he would visit that day.

“Are you ready then?” Hermione asked and Harry nodded as he pulled on his coat and gloves. Ron wrapped a scarf around his neck, a little too tightly because he then had to unwrap it and do it again. Hermione was the only one actually ready when she marched out of the house, followed by the other two. She reached out to them and the three disapparated as one.

They appeared in the countryside, though if asked none of them could have said where. The wind whipped around them, chilling them instantly despite the layers of clothes that covered them. It was a cold day but the skies were clear and it did not look like they would be having a white Christmas that year. Harry trailed behind slightly when Ron and Hermione took the lead. Hermione kept repeating the instructions Remus had given them again and again, not wanting to get lost, though Harry strongly suspected that some members of the Order would be following them to ensure that didn’t happen. Ron, on the other hand, was complaining about his frozen feet though they’d only been out a couple of minutes.

Harry felt a mixture of feelings within him as they walked along the winding streets, taking the quickest but most complex route to Godric’s Hollow. He did not know the area well; he had never been let out long enough to come to know it and he tried to memorise the way back for the return journey. The crisp feel of parchment in his pocket was a small comfort as he walked, knowing that the last thing his mother had written remained in his pocket. One small link to her that he carried with him to her place of life and of death.

Godric’s Hollow really was a beautiful place, Harry thought as he walked along the road towards the edge of the large village. The houses that he wanted to find were through the woods and across the lake, he had been told. There would be another smaller village nearby that was classed as Godric’s Hollow also, and that was the location he wanted.

“Remus could have just Portkeyed us straight there, surely,” Ron complained whilst he stamped his feet from the cold. Hermione scowled slightly as she turned to her right and walked in the general direction of the trees. She knew they had to cross the forest to get there and that was the only one in sight.

“Perhaps he wanted us to enjoy the view,” Hermione said, “or couldn’t remember the precise location.”

Harry shook his head as the two began to argue. The reason that they hadn’t been Portkeyed directly to Godric’s Hollow was that there were magical boundaries around it. It was entirely secluded from the Muggle world after Voldemort had killed the Potters there and had almost been destroyed himself. It had been almost a sacred spot before and the anti-Apparition and anti-Portkey wards still hadn’t been removed. That meant that they had to walk there, and view the beautiful scenery at the same time. Harry had no problem with that, though Ron evidently did.

Tired of the bickering between his friends, Harry took the lead and walked quickly through the silent forest. He felt his chest contract momentarily halfway through the woods that surrounded him and wondered whether that was the wards letting him through when he returned to normal a moment later. He walked on, not turning back when Ron gasped in shock behind him or when Hermione stumbled slightly on a tree root.

Eventually the forest ended and Harry smiled slightly at the sight that met him. There was a small lake which thinned down to a river flowing away from him and little bridge crossed over to some houses on the other side. He stepped cautiously over the bridge, ready to levitate himself if it broke from years of misuse but it didn’t. His pace quickened and soon he found himself at the end of one of the few streets which made the village. Only one of those roads led out towards the actual Godric’s Hollow and Harry followed it with his eyes before turning back.

He didn’t need Remus’s instructions to find the house once he was there; it was perfectly plain to see as he walked to the centre of the village and glanced to his left. Godric’s Avenue stared back at him but seven of its closest houses were missing. Suddenly, Harry was reminded of the words that Sirius had said… ‘he blew up the street with his wand behind his back’. That was the street; that was the one which had been destroyed which meant that his home would be down there somewhere.

He didn’t realise that he’d thought of the house as his home as he walked down the street slowly and for the first time he felt the first stirrings of unease at being present in the ghost town. He would have been one of the first people there in years and, though his friends walked behind him, he felt very much alone.

A single tree stood at the end of the street on a small patch of grass. Flowers lined the edges of it, leaving a square of land which was almost unsettlingly neat. It was surely done by magic and Harry felt his stomach squirm when he saw the plaque laid into the pavement at his feet.

In loving memory of
James and Lily Potter
who died to save not only their son but the wizarding world.
We will never forget you, or the good you did in this world

That was it. That was his home. A tree. The house had been so entirely destroyed that nothing remained there now except magical flowers that grew and swayed in the slight breeze. It was still an icy cold wind that made Ron mutter darkly some ten paces behind him but Harry no longer felt the cold. He didn’t feel anything.

He couldn’t remember that place; he knew nothing of his life before the Dursleys but somehow sadness began to grow within him, overpowering as he stared at the lone tree, devoid of leaves, though on the ground around them a few lone leaves wandered still.

Minerva had said the tree had been grown over their wands. The bodies had been cremated and scattered over the ground whilst their wands lay buried beneath the tree. She had been one of the ones chiefly in charge of keeping an eye on the place once Remus had refused so adamantly. She had done what she could and knew that Lily would have been pleased.

Harry sighed into the cold, his breath coming out as mist in front of him as he stared around the place he had never known. It was almost fitting, he thought sadly, he had never known his parents. Perhaps he should be unable to remember his home with them.


“I cannot believe that!” Tonks almost shouted into the house as she threw herself down in the lounge. Remus made sure to sit by himself on singular chairs to prevent her from joining him. She still seemed to be entertaining some kind of infatuation for him and he was determined to be rid of it as soon as possible.

“What happened?” Bill asked, glancing up at them whilst pointedly ignoring Molly requesting his help with the removal of the Christmas tree. It was New Years Day and the festive season had finally passed with out a hitch or problem for the Order.

“Shut up, Tonks,” Kingsley said and seated himself next to her. “She’s exaggerating,” he added before anyone could say anything else.

“I am not exaggerating, Shacklebolt!” she snapped. “I’m going to be fired.”

“Really?” Bill asked in confusion and next to him Fleur busied herself with some knitting. Molly had been teaching her for a large portion of the Christmas holidays how to make various things and so most of the house was being given woollen socks at intervals.

“No, not really,” Kingsley said, cutting off Tonks who had opened her mouth to dramatise her situation. “There was a raid on Malfoy Manor today and she thinks that because she didn’t take part then she isn’t going to have a job for any longer.”

“Well you were there!” Tonks cried. “It’s because I messed everything up when we were chasing him in Knockturn Alley, isn’t it?”

“That was weeks ago,” Remus said tiredly. “I’m sure that if you were going to be fired then you’d have found out before now.”

“So what happened in the raid, anyway?” Bill asked, choosing to ignore Tonks’s melodramatic sighs and complaints.

“Very little,” Kingsley said truthfully. “Thirty dark artefacts found and seized by the Ministry and several illegal Potions ingredients.”

“How illegal?” Remus asked interestedly.

“Think human eyeballs,” Bill replied grimly.

“I wonder whose,” Remus mused quietly before returning to the book in his hands. It wasn’t particularly interesting but it was something to be doing until his afternoon Defence lesson with Harry. Their lessons had been steadily progressing and Harry had made admirable progress, moving well ahead of Ron and Hermione the more interest he took in the subject. He had eventually asked for more advanced lessons when he had to teach Hermione a series of spells and Remus readily agreed.

Defence was one of the few lessons which were going well for Harry though. Potions still wasn’t a good subject for him; too many years of Snape’s teaching had ingrained a strong dislike towards the subject in him and he wasn’t going to give that up soon. He would probably get an E in his NEWT, Kingsley thought, and increased the number of lessons in an attempt to push his predicted grade up.

Tonks, while enthusiastic, was not a particularly good teacher of Charms, though she was not unskilled in the subject. Harry, Ron and Hermione had put in quite a lot of extra effort outside their lessons to make sure that they improved within the subject and applied knowledge from Transfiguration where necessary to ensure that they stayed on top of their work.

There was a crash from the kitchen which had everyone in the lounge on their feet in an instant. It was probably just Ron knocking something over, they knew, but in such dark times it didn’t take much to get them on their guard.

“I’ll go see what happened,” Remus volunteered and left the room before Tonks could follow him, closing the door finally behind him.

“… You can’t, Ginny!” Ron shouted from within and Remus paused outside the door for a moment, wondering what was going on. The remembrance of a shouting match between Ginny and her brothers months ago in Diagon Alley floated into his mind briefly before he pushed it away. He was certain that her siblings would have ensured that her correspondence with ‘John’ would have come to an abrupt end.

“I’ll do whatever the hell I want!” Ginny shouted back. “I can go where I want and see whoever I want! You are not stopping me, not now that I’ve finally found someone who understands me and loves me for me!”

“Ginny…” Harry began but stopped at the look on Ginny’s face. She was not in the mood to be trifled with and Harry could only hope that she would not be fool enough to do anything she knew to be unwise.

“This is seriously dangerous!” Hermione said vehemently.

“I trusted you!” Ginny yelled at Hermione. “I trusted you to keep this quiet and not to tell anyone!”

“I had to,” Hermione said in defence. “This is ridiculous. You want to go and meet someone you only know through parchment, are you mad?!”

“As much as I’d like to continue with this conversation, I really can’t,” Ginny said firmly, “because right now I’m going to meet John.”

Remus’s eyes widened as he stood behind the door. Quickly he entered but he was too late; he saw Ginny pass through the fireplace in a flicker of green. Harry, Ron and Hermione leapt after her but the fire had returned to normal and Ginny had taken all the Floo powder with her.

The three turned to face Remus upon his entry, their faces all clearly worried. “Where did she go?”

“Diagon Alley,” Harry replied and Remus nodded before walking towards the door. He stopped before leaving and turned back to them.

“Don’t follow,” he said simply and then he was gone, marching straight back into the lounge where Bill, Tonks, Kingsley and Fleur were still sitting. “Ginny’s gone.”

Those two words were all it had taken to raise a panic in the house. Less than two minutes later, Charlie, Minerva, Kingsley, Tonks, Remus and Mad Eye were standing in the kitchen ready to go after Ginny. Bill was charged with staying with Harry, Ron and Hermione, though with the Frequency Counter still in his possession from Gringotts, he remained a wanted criminal and was still unable to leave the house.

“Oh, do be careful!” Molly said, tears shining in her eyes. Arthur nodded to the assembled group as he put an arm around his wife and tried to give her some small amount of comfort.

“Be safe, and bring her back if you can,” Arthur sighed as his eyes flickered down to the small pile of letters that Hermione had brought from Ginny’s room. They were all from ‘John’ and Harry felt distinctly ill just from looking at them.

“Let’s go then,” Mad Eye said and with a collective crack, six members of the Order apparated to Diagon Alley.

The street was deserted when they got there. The light rain that fell coupled with the atmosphere of fear was enough to keep away any magical shoppers from the area. Ginny was walking towards a figure at the end of the street towards Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes and smiled when she saw his face.

“You’re John…?” Ginny asked when the face of Draco Malfoy was revealed from under his hood. He was the one who understood her so well, cared for her so much and vowed to love her all his life? Ginny couldn’t think of anyone richer or from a more Pure-blooded family than he.

“Of course,” Draco smirked. She really believed everything he’d said in his letters. It had been too easy to manipulate her to his whims. Far too easy and he wished that he’d picked a greater challenge for himself but he had shamed himself by failing to kill Dumbledore. This was his act of redemption – killing the girlfriend of Harry Potter. Or at least, who he thought was Potter’s girlfriend.

“Ginny!” someone yelled down the street and Ginny saw six figures walking quickly towards them, wands drawn and spells already shooting towards them both.

“You just made the biggest mistake of your life, Weasel,” Malfoy smirked. She was such a typical teenage girl. She had been so easily led on once the idea of vengeance against those who had hurt her had been planted in her mind.

Ginny’s mouth opened in horror. Two screamed words, a flash of green, the thud of a body and the crack of Apparition. Then all was silent and still. The Order froze in disbelief and Charlie fell to his knees. His little sister, his only sister, had been killed by a Malfoy.

“Charlie?” A gentle hand touched his shoulder as he knelt staring down the street. Kingsley bent down to his level to speak to him and told him calmly to go back to the house. Molly and Arthur needed to know.

“Of course,” Charlie answered numbly and, not even bothering to get to his feet, he Apparated out of the street.

“Remus, you go with him,” Minerva said. “Listen to them and comfort them as much as you can.” Remus nodded and disappeared. “Tonks, go to the Ministry. Tell them what happened.” Another crack resonated around the silent street. “Any witnesses other than us, Alastor?”

“Not a single one,” he sighed. “You might want to go to the twins, Kingsley.”

Kingsley nodded and walked briskly towards Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes which was no longer doing the booming business that once it had. Minerva and Mad Eye were left standing alone in the street by Ginny Weasley, her eyes still wide with shock, though no life lay within them.

“I can’t believe it,” Minerva murmured as she stared down at the young girl, one of her own house. She held back her grief as, moments later, Tonks arrived with half a dozen members of the Ministry, and Kingsley returned though without the twins as they had expected. They were in for a very long afternoon.

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