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((Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, nor do I wish that I did. I could never have produced the masterpiece that JKR has.))
A/N: I have the best Beta in the world. Her pen name is Pingo and my story would not be nearly as good with out her. She is the talent, I am just the story teller. I couldn’t write my way out of a paper sack with out her help. Thank you so much Pingo, you’re the best.

Chapter 4: Homecoming

On a warm cloudless night with a full moon providing illumination, Harry and Dumbledore stood on the edge of an unfamiliar wooded area. Enormous ancient trees grew within the forest and darkness reigned under the dense canopy created by the upper most entangled branches of the trees. Thick underbrush grew at ground level under the canopy as if the bushes and vines were keeping guard, baring the way to any traveler who might try and gain entrance. Harry was not sure where exactly they were or how they had gotten here, he looked over to Dumbledore and saw a panicked expression on his wise old face the likes of which Harry had never seen and it scared him. Dumbledore pointed at the dark foreboding forest and screamed at Harry “Ginny is in there and she is in grave danger!”

Harry withdrew his wand and charged into the forest. He struggled through the thick tangle of bushes, vines and low braches, tripping over the exposed roots of the massive trees. The foliage seemed to grab at his clothing holding him back. He found himself in complete darkness and said “Lumos” flicking his wand. The light emitting from his wand only drove back the darkness in about a five meter circle around him. Dumbledore was not visible in the available light. Harry stopped and listened, the only sounds he heard were his own ragged breathing, the pounding of his panicked heart and the normal sounds of the forest. He did not hear the expected sounds of Dumbledore crashing through the forest some where nearby. Harry realized he was alone.

Frantic, Harry renewed his efforts, searching frenziedly through the forest. He had no idea where Ginny was but he knew he had to find her. Nothing mattered to him at that moment but her safety. Harry sensed a movement to his right and turned to look toward it. Suddenly red and green flashes of light exploded into existence and headed right for him. He immediately knew he was under attack and that there were too many for him to fight off alone. He took off running in the opposite direction, ducking and weaving, moving as fast as the crushing foliage around him would allow. All around him spells hit the trucks of trees, exploding with loud bangs, the spells and jinxes missing him by inches. He ran wildly, zigzagging to avoid the barrage of spells being cast his way. In front of him Harry saw a break in the growth. It was a clearing and at its center, illuminated by the full moon, he could clearly see Ginny kneeling in front of a tall figure of a man in wizarding robes. Just as he made the edge of the clearing Harry saw the figure raise his arm with wand in hand and point it at Ginny and he clearly heard the man’s triumphant voice ring out “Avada Ka…”

Harry screamed “No!” and was raising his own wand ……

Harry’s nightmare was interrupted by Ginny who had a hand on his shoulder and was shaking him and pleading, “Harry, Harry, wake up,”

Harry subconsciously resisted being ripped from the nightmare. Its final scene was still frozen in his mind waiting for his return. Harry’s every instinct made him resist waking up and drove him to return and save his one true love from certain death. He fought to get back to the Ginny of his nightmare but the real Ginny was shaking him again, “Harry wake up, what is that noise?”

Slowly, reluctantly Harry was pulled into wakefulness. He felt his heart pounding in his chest and he became aware that his bedclothes were drenched in sweat. Gradually his conscious mind was taking over and groggily he realized he’d been having a nightmare again. Harry habitually reached to his scar, “no, no pain,” he came almost fully awake with the awareness that all was still safe.

“Harry!” Ginny, almost shouted, “What’s making all that noise?”

Harry sat up in bed with a start, focused on the fact that the banging he had associated with the exploding of missed spells in his nightmare had not ended with his dream. “I’m sorry,” he stammered, getting out of bed and grabbing his wand, “stay here, I’ll check it out,”

The banging was coming from the front of the house and Harry made his way carefully out of his bedroom feeling his way through the darkness. The absence of light coming from the widows indicated to Harry that morning was far from dawning. He gave his wand a flick and said “Lumos” and the tip of his wand created enough light for him to see through the darkness. As he approaches the front of the house, Harry realized that the banging was coming from the front door and who ever was doing the pounding was likely to smash the door in if wasn’t stop soon. In a loud and demanding voice he asked, “Who’s out there?”

The banging stopped and a gruff voice replied “’s me Harry, ’s Hagrid, open the door an’ let me in, lights are comin’ on in howses all up and down the street,”

Moving quickly Harry unlocked and opened the front door to his house and Hagrid rushed in, barely fitting, bending low as to not hit his head on the door frame. Harry noticed Hagrid had on his driving goggles and on a hunch looked out the door before closing it. The flying motorbike that Hagrid liked to fly around on was sitting in his front lawn. Closing the door, a little up set, Harry asked, “What time is it?” and then he waved his wand, and brought lights on in the entry way and living room.

“’s nearly fer,” answered Hagrid stepping into the living room looking a bit disheveled.

Following behind Hagrid, Harry a little shaken and confused asked worriedly, “What are you doing here Hagrid, is everything all right?”

But before Hagrid could answer, Ginny entered the living room from the bedroom pulling on a housecoat over her nightgown, “Harry is that Hagrid I hear,” and then seeing Hagrid, “what’s going on? Is everything all right, are the boys okay?”

“Yes, yes the boys are fine. I was jus hopin’ maybe Harry might wan’ a fly to Hogwarts on that broom of ‘is. Thought I’d come to give ‘im some help hauling his stuff. I got yeh’re post last night saying Harry was leaving around six o’clock, spected you’d be up an all,” Hagrid looked from Ginny to Harry then at his large shuffling feet saying “I guess I shouldn’ta just dropped by, aye? Wasn’ a good idea, I think I woke the whole neighborhood,”

Harry broke out in a big smile and gave his old friend a hug, “Don’t worry about it Hagrid, it isn’t the first time Godric's Hollow has been woke up in the middle of the night and it probably wont be the last,”

Ginny walked over to the hairy old half giant she’d come to love as much as Harry over the years wiping the sleep from her eyes. She hugged him looking up into his big kind hairy face and said with a playful scolding tone, “And so how were you planning to haul his stuff? You and my dad didn’t get that old motorbike of your’s running again did you?”

Hagrid released the grip he had on the two Potters and stepped back looking down at his large feet again, “Well I wasn’ waning to get yer dad in trouble with yeh an yer mum or nothin’ but Arthur did sort a give me a hand, it works great now, it does. I got the side car on and I was sort a thinkin’ Harry could pack ‘is luggage and all in it,”

Harry turned to his wife and gave her, what she had affectionately come to call “the big green eyes”, the look that usually got him what he wanted, “how about it Gin he’s here and everything,”

Ginny could feel his excitement and knew that Harry’s least favorite way to travel was apparation. She knew how much he loved to fly and that he hardly ever got the chance. Ginny not wanting to give in to quickly, gave the two men a look she usually reserved for her children when ever they tried to pull a fast one over on her, “I don’t know,” and she paused waiting for the reaction she knew she would get and the two over grown boys did not let her down. The stood there heads down, looking crushed and crest fallen. Ginny then continued with a playful grin on her lips, “sure it’s fine, but the two of you be careful and I want an owl letting me know you got there okay,”

Harry and Hagrid exchanged excited smiles, then Hagrid winked at Ginny and jokingly bowed to her saying, “yeh doesn’ have ter worry abou’ a thing. I’ll keep me eye on ‘im the whole way,”

Harry reached out and pulled his wife into him and gave her a squeeze and a kiss on her forehead, “thanks Gin,” and then to Hagrid he said “why don’t you push the motorbike around to the backyard, the concealment charms are stronger back there, we’ll pack up and we can take off after the neighbors go back to bed, I’ll get my things and meet you back there,”

Ginny piped in “I’ll start some tea and warm up some scones, you two can eat while you wait for things to settle down.”

Hagrid took off for the front door. Harry held Ginny tighter and kissed her sweetly. Then he looked deeply into her eyes and said, “I am going to miss you terribly you know,”

Ginny pushed him away playfully and gave him one of her most seductive smiles before heading toward the kitchen saying, “Harry Potter you better not be gone to long, we have some serious work of our own to do, you know?”

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

It had been a beautiful night for flying and he and Hagrid had watched the sunrise on a glorious morning from high in the air just prior to landing on the grounds of Hogwarts. The trip had lifted Harry’s spirits, his belongings along with Albus’s broom where now sitting in a corner of Hagrid’s hut. After cleaning up from the flight Harry left the hut to enjoy the fine fall morning. Hagrid was still getting cleaning up after he’d stashed the motorbike in the forest beside his home.

Harry wandered outside and found two large sturdy wooden chairs with a small table sitting between them. The chairs faced the school grounds and the castle. Harry chose a chair and hoisted himself up into it. He noticed that the grass in front of him was slightly trampled as if students might have sat there while Hagrid taught classes on the Care of Magical Creatures. Harry also notice scorch marks in the grass and he wondered with a smile what creatures Hagrid was torturing his students with that might have caused the grass to be burned. As he sat their getting comfortable his gaze wandered up to the castle, “This was the first real home I every really knew,” Harry mused as remembrances of his first meetings with Hagrid and his best friends Ron and Hermione flooded his thoughts.

So thoroughly was Harry lost in the past that the sound of Hagrid exiting the hut caused him to start and look over to his big friend who came carrying in his large hands two hefty mugs and a tray, “I was thinkin’ some hot tea and some rock cakes might hit the spot, it was a bit chilly up there, wasn’ it?” He set the mugs and tray down on the table and sat in the remaining empty chair on the other side of it. “Olympe and I, we like to sit out here in the mornin’s and evenin’s when she’s visitin’. Try them rock cakes Harry, she’s bin given’ me sum cookin’ lessons,”

Harry took a rock cake from the tray and cautiously bit down on it. Surprised he said to Hagrid, “I don’t mean to hurt your feelings or anything Hagrid but the lessons are working, these are really good,”

Hagrid beamed blissfully at Harry “She’s a good woman me Olympe is, we decided this summer to make things more permanent. She’s resigning as headmistress of Beauxbatons an’ next year takin’ a position on staff here at Hogwarts, she’s the bes’ thing tha’ ever happened to me Harry,”

Harry was very happy for Hagrid, He and Madame Olympe had been spending time together, meeting in various place, some times one or the others school for over twenty years, “I thought neither on of you wanted to give up your jobs, what made Olympe change her mind?”

Hagrid sighed and shook his hairy head “I dunno, this summer we met here and Olympe and Professor McGonagall had a long private conversation an’ when she came back it had bin decided, I was seriously thinkin’ of retirein’ meself in a few more years after I made sure me Goddaughter got started off righ’ here,” He said this last bit with a big proud grin.

Harry knew that one of the proudest days of Hagrid’s life was the day he and Ginny had asked Hagrid to be Lily’s Godfather, ever since Hagrid had looked forward to the day that she would started her first year at Hogwarts, “Well I am very happy for the two of you Hagrid, I’m sure Olympe will be happy here. So what position did Professor McGonagall offer her?”

“I dunno but I think the Professors bin havin’ problems finding teachers to fill the places left empty by those Professors gettin’ old an’ retiring,’ ”

Hearing this information Harry straightened in his chair, thinking maybe he was on to something about what he was doing here, “Hagrid do you know why I’ve been requested to meet with McGonagall? Does it have something to do with the need for teachers?”

“Well I shouldn’ say anything abou’ that, and I really don’ know much but I ‘spect ‘s got something ta do with yeh’re brother-in-law Percy spendin’ so much time here at Hogwarts an in the Headmistresses office fer the past fur years,” replied Hagrid “an don’ ask me nothin’ more ‘cause I don know nothin’ an the staffs been asked to keep quiet abou’ it,”

Harry sat in silent surprise at this revelation about Percy, musing over the possibilities. Hagrid was relieved that Harry hadn’t pushed the issue. Both sat quietly for a long while, drinking their tea, eating Hagrid’s rock cakes and enjoying their surroundings.

Deciding he still did not have enough pieces of information to definitely pin down the reason for his visit to Hogwarts, Harry began to drift back to thoughts of his final year at the school. Looking up at the beautiful old castle and the surrounding grounds brought back memories about the days after the final battle.

At first it had been a time of funerals and healing. The day after the battle witches and wizards from all over began to show up. It turned into a scene similar to that of the tent city that Harry had experienced during the Quidditch World Cup. Day after day more of them came, some with their families in tow. Tents were erected on the grounds of Hogwarts and when it became crowded they continued to pop up out side the grounds. Huge tents were constructed as established community meeting and eating areas. Smaller tents were erected and sufficed as sleeping quarters.

Healers from St Mungo's were some of the first to arrive. Madam Pomfrey took charge and coordinated their efforts to tend to the injured from both sides of the conflict.

Portions of the Ministry of Magic briefly relocated to Hogwarts.
Kingsley Shacklebolt was named temporary Minister of Magic and initially performed his duties from with in the school. Minister Shacklebolt named Dawlish to head the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Dawlish, wanting to be near the school, set up his interim offices in very plain tents on the grounds near the entrance to the castle. He temporarily moved the Improper Use of Magic Office and the Wizengamot to the school. Griselda Marchbanks was reinstated and elevated to the position of Chief Witch of the Wizengamot.

Funerals were held for those who had died in the conflict. The funerals were followed by ceremonies honoring both the dead and the living who distinguished themselves by standing up against the Dark Lord.

Eventually the task of repairing the damage to the school itself was attended to. With the help of so many the repairs took less then three weeks to complete.

Finally after nearly two months the crowd began to disperse and life began to get back to normal.

After the Funerals, almost a month after the final battle Ron and Mr. Weasley accompanied Hermione to Australia to locate and retrieve Hermione’s parents. Harry couldn’t help but smile as the memories of their return two weeks later ran through his mind. Mr. and Mrs. Granger’s new life and memories did not include them having a child. Being childless left them feeling incomplete, so they had conspired to make themselves complete. Ron, his dad and Hermione returned to the Burrow with Hermione’s father and her now very pregnant mother. Mr. and Mrs. Granger’s memories had been restored and all three of the Grangers were a bit over come trying to deal with the resulting side effects of their Australian experience.

Two months later Mrs. Granger gave birth to Hermione’s brother Grugwyn who showed signs of magical ability early in his life. Grugwyn was a very intelligent student but unlike Hermione and much to her dismay, he was ruled by a mischievous soul and spent more time in trouble rather than out. He attended Hogwarts and had been in the same year as Teddy. After graduating he was recruited by George and Lee and went to work for them as a developer of new products and full time prankster.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and all the students that had been unable to attend school the previous year returned the following year. Arrangements were made for all students to receive additional classes to catch them up. Harry’s belated seventh year ended up being one of the best years of his life. Ginny and his relationship got the chance to grow and deepen into a passionate, strong and lasting love. Ron and Hermione were finally together as a couple and were so busy catching up on lost time snogging they didn’t have much time to argue. A relationship that had begun at Bill and Fluer’s cottage between Dean Thomas and Luna bloomed and resulted in their marriage several years later. Neville’s personality burgeoned into one of a true leader as he finished his final year as Hogwarts head boy. Without the fear of Voldemort looming around every corner, the year became one of hard work, great accomplishments, unity, celebration and new beginnings.

“Ah Harry,” Hagrid’s voice interrupted Harry’s thoughts bringing him back to the present, “are yeh okay? ‘Bout time someone should be comin’ to fetch yeh, I’m thinkin’,”

“I’m sorry Hagrid I was lost in thought. I didn’t mean to sit here and ignore you. Forgive me?”

“Tha’ happens when yeh get older Harry, don’ be worryin’ yeh’re self about it” Hagrid replied with a knowing smile and a heavy hand on Harry’s shoulder jostling him a bit.

Hagrid’s words were now sinking into Harry’s consciousness, “What do you mean someone should be coming to get me? I don’t need an escort. I went to school here. I know how to get where I’m going,”

“Well, erm, yeh see, professor McGonagall sort a left me instruction to meet up with yeh and keep yeh here until someone came to fetch yeh,” Hagrid seemed to Harry a little uncomfortable as he spoke.

“Why?” Harry asked

“I dunno Harry really I don’, I’m guessin’ it’s gotta do with not wantin’ to disrupt the students, yeh’re still famous yeh know,”

Harry shook his head and accepted this explanation for the moment. Harry realized he was thirsty and that he had finished his tea. Holding out his Mug he said “Hagrid, you don’t by chance have some pumpkin juice, if you do, could I maybe get some? I’m a bit thirsty and I’ve had my fill of tea.”

Hagrid took Harry’s mug and got to his feet, “Tha’s no problem, I’ll get yeh some,”

Harry looked back up at the castle suddenly not feeling as at home as he had a few moments before. Harry thought to himself “maybe considering this trip a Homecoming of sorts had been a mistake,”

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