It was two days before Harry was fully conscious, and as before it was the voices that reached him before anything else.

“I heard you played good Ginny. That was a really nice write-up they did on you in The Prophet. I was quite surprised to see it this morning.” Harry was first aware of Ron saying these words.

“Thanks. I was surprised too actually, all things considered. Thanks for staying with him Ron, instead of coming to see my game,” Ginny said.

“Yeah of course. You know he would have been there if he could have,” Ron said.

“Yeah I know. But thanks anyway.”

The voices went on as Harry tried to process their conversation. Ron had sat with him while Ginny played a game? But her next game day wasn’t until Saturday. It was Thursday night when he’d been hurt…so if Ginny’s game was yesterday…what day was today? Could it be Sunday?! Was it possible he’d been unconscious for nearly three days?”

“I’m sure you had better things to do on a Saturday.”

“Better than sitting with Harry? Are you mad? Harry’s my best mate. He’s going to wake up eventually Ginny, and when he does, somebody’s gotta be here.”

“Well you’re here now, so is this a good time?” Harry asked as he opened his eyes wide for the first time.

“Harry! You’re awake!” Ginny exclaimed happily.

Harry smiled up at her blurry image. Indistinct though it was, he could tell she was smiling.

“Good to see ya’ Harry,” Ron said enthusiastically.

Harry couldn’t be sure but he thought Ron too was probably smiling. He grinned at them both. “Good to see you too Ron. Ginny, come here,” he said holding out an arm.

Ginny leaned into him on his right side and he kissed her. The affect it had on him was utterly amazing. Immediately he felt so much better.

They broke apart and Harry could tell Ginny was blushing. Harry smiled at her, squinting slightly. Suddenly aware of just how bad his mouth tasted, Harry turned away when she leaned over him again, afraid she was going to try to kiss him, but instead she merely grabbed his glasses from the bedside table and handed them to him.

“Thanks Gin,” Harry said as he slid them on and the hospital room came into focus. Looking at her earnestly for a moment Harry looked down at their joined hands. “Ginny…are you okay?”

Ginny smiled. “You are on your death bed and you want to know if I’m okay?”

“I’m not on my death bed Ginny, and even if I was, that’s what I’d want to know. So yeah, I do. That’s the most important thing to me,” Harry told her seriously

Ginny leaned over the bed to hug him. Harry cringed as she unthinkingly grabbed what he now realized was a sore shoulder, but the pain went away as she said,

“I love you Harry. Do you know that?”

“Yeah I do Gin, and thank you. I could never have done it without you there,” Harry told her.

“You’re not mad at me then? I was so sure you would be when you woke up.”

“No, I’m not mad … It worried me having you there, but I wasn’t angry. I knew you were there to help and I needed your help to actually get it done. It’s the only way to smash those things…out of love. Each of us was trying to protect someone we love,” Harry explained.

“Even Laura?” Ginny asked warily.

“Even Laura, Ginny; and no she wasn’t thinking of me,” Harry assured her.

“How can you be so certain Harry when Jean wasn’t there?” Ginny pressed.

“But he was Ginny. Not at the beginning like you were and no I don’t know how he was there, but by the time that thing was dust, he was. That’s not how I know though. It’s because…”

 Harry thought back to how the bit of Bellatrix in the horcrux had taunted Laura…tortured her with the thought that Jean would never really want to marry her because she’d come with Harry to help him…because he’d helped her in the barn, all those many months ago.

 ”I could tell when she destroyed the horcrux. Laura’s not in love with me. We have a lot in common, we have the same kind of scar and we’re friends, but the chemistry is different. What I have with you…it could never be there.”

Ron stared at Harry, remembering the images a horcrux in danger could invoke.

“Some of those images aren’t true Harry, remember?” Ron asked. “They taunt you with your fears.”

“Exactly. Her greatest fear was that Jean wouldn’t want her any more…that he would change his mind…after this. After her coming to help me…After I helped her to destroy the horcrux,” Harry explained.

“Did what you said to her to enable her to do it?” Ron asked curiously.

“I told her to think of Jean, that the power to do it would come from loving him. Then she did. She just stabbed Voldemort’s wand over, and over and over again. I think Dudley heard what I said, cause the next thing I knew he was swinging too…we all were, in the names of those we love, but him especially cause of what they did to Esme. There’s not much left but splinters and sand at this point,” Harry confirmed.

Ron smiled grimly. “Yeah I saw. We went back to check during mop up. I found the sword and the fangs, and Dean found the sledge hammer buried in the sand, but that was about it.”

Harry nodded soberly. “How is Esme by the way? Is she okay?”

“She will be. Dudley’s with her now,” Ginny said. “I think she’s supposed to go home today.”

“Dudley’s with her…here? I thought I dreamt that part,” Harry said in amazement.

“Yeah, he really wanted to come here Harry,” Ron said. “We nearly had to fight the Welcome Witch to get him in.”

“How did you then?” Harry asked curiously. “Without getting arrested I mean?”

“Kingsley,” Ron said simply.

Harry nodded. He’d had an idea that it must be something like that.

“Speaking of Kingsley, we promised to tell everyone when you were awake,” Ginny said. “I suppose I should go send Kingsley and the family a message.”

“I can Ginny. You stay with Harry,” Ron offered.

Ginny smiled. “Thanks Ron. It would be nice to have a moment…before the rest of them get here.”

Harry looked at her curiously as Ron left them alone. “Where is everyone anyways? I expected that Hermione at least would be here, but especially if Ron was.”

“They’ll be here in a bit. Mum’s got all the family over for supper. They were all hoping you’d be awake by today and could visit after. Hermione’s gone by to help, since Ron opted to stay with you and I refused to come, but everyone else is there. Even Andromeda and Teddy I think. They’ll probably come by this evening though, once they all know you’re awake.”

Harry nodded as he studied his fiancée. He loved Ginny and he knew she loved him, but nothing had expressed that to him more clearly than the fact she wouldn’t leave his side, not even at the request of her family. Her actions spoke more clearly to him than a thousand words, causing his heart to swell with love more than he’d thought possible. Wondering what he could possibly do to show his love as clearly to her, Harry said, “I’m sorry I missed your game Ginny. I know I promised to come…and to bring Teddy too…but I want you to know that I know how important that is to you and I am sorry.”

“I am too Harry. I missed having you there, but you know, I think Teddy missed you even more. I felt so sorry for him when I told Andromeda you couldn’t come. He’s old enough to know the difference now when you didn’t show up, but he’s not old enough to understand why and Andromeda didn’t know what to tell him…He wants to see you pretty badly, so I think she’s going to bring him by to visit in a little while too,” Ginny explained. “I’m just glad you’ll be awake to see him. I wasn’t sure how we were going to explain to a two year old how you’d been asleep for three days and that’s why you missed taking him to the game.”

Harry nodded not knowing what else to say. It was true. Explaining anything to Teddy these days was exceedingly difficult.

“So Harry…are you alright?” Ginny asked anxiously. “Are you in pain?”

“Only a little; my left side feels like Dudley hit it with that sledge hammer though.”

“No not the sledge hammer, just lots of bullets,” Ginny informed him. “The healer said they pulled out four, another went through you and came out the other side, and another…they couldn’t take out.”

“Why not?” Harry asked immediately.

“It was in too deep and you were too weak from loss of blood, the trauma from your injuries and the treatment. Your kidney was punctured and the rest of your insides were pretty torn up as well. They had to fix all that first. I suppose that you had so many holes in you at first, they couldn’t depend on potions doing all that. We weren’t sure you would pull through for a while,” Ginny told him, her face full of concern.

Harry nodded. “I suppose they had to use mending spells instead, but according to Madame Pomfrey, those spells aren’t that strong. Without the proper potions, sealed wounds can easily break open again…at least that’s what she used to tell me when she made me drink them.”

“Exactly,” Ginny agreed. “So they had to make sure those would hold before they could begin giving you potions.”

“So where is the bullet they left?” Harry asked though he had a feeling he already knew.

“It went through your left leg, up high. It’s buried somewhere deep in your hip joint. Healer Gudgeon said that if you pull through, once you’re stronger and have healed, he’ll make an appointment for you to take it out then. So that’s why I was asking, does it hurt?”

Harry adjusted his position tentatively in the bed. “A bit,” he admitted. “So will I be able to walk?”

“He said you should be able to, though it will be painful for a while, and you shouldn’t try to do too much of it or that bullet could work it’s way in further and permanently damage your hip. They’ve brought you a cane to use.” Ginny gestured towards one leaning close to the bed. “The healer’s aide says that should help, though I expect the healer will by sometime this afternoon to talk to you about it himself.” Ginny furrowed her brow slightly. “I suppose I should tell them you’re awake.”

“No need Ginny. I told the healer at the desk for you,” Ron said as he came back into the room.

Right behind him were Dudley and a somewhat shaky Esme.

Ginny momentarily left Harry’s side as she rushed to get her a chair.

Dudley grinned. “Hiya Harry. It’s good to see you awake.”

“Hi Dudley,” Harry said with a slight smile. “Hi Esme.”

Esme smiled weakly. “Hi.”

Harry smiled at her then looked back at his cousin. “I can’t believe you came to see me.”

“Why the hell not?” Dudley demanded. “You took that bullet for me Harry…several of them in fact. And if it weren’t for your magic and you watching my back…I would have…”

“And I would have been cut to ribbons by the curse that Death Eater was aiming at me if you hadn’t fired at him. We helped each other out Dud,” Harry cut him off. “That’s what families do, we help each other…even when we’re not always all that fond of one another. I know we weren’t when we were kids.”

Dudley nodded as he attempted to grasp what Harry was saying. “Harry…one question though…”


“Did you do something to me when we were out on that bridge?” he asked.

“How do you mean?” Harry asked.

“Did you put a spell or a charm or something on me? ‘Cause my reflexes and response time were the fastest they’d ever been. And I’ve never been that good a shot to be honest, but I got that guy right off. It just felt different…I felt different…empowered some how…I dun know. I’m not sure I can explain it,” Dudley said.

“No, I didn’t do that, you did,” Harry assured him.

“But how?”

“Blood magic,” Harry said. “That’s what it does. It binds us together, gives us the power to help defend and look out for one another. And it’s there, no matter what. That’s what I’ve been saying. Just like when your mum took me in to protect me…even when she hated me and everything I stand for. She did it…because of blood.”
            Dudley nodded, and from the look on his face, Harry thought he was finally beginning to understand.

“Wow,” was all he said.

“Yeah, it does that to me sometimes too,” Harry said.

“So is that what it was up in the weapon room too? ‘Cause something similar happened to me there. Different, but similar,” Dudley said.

“That was love Dud. Good, old-fashioned love. It’s another kind of old magic, remember?” Harry reminded him. “And that’s the most powerful one of all.”

Dudley grinned. “And I have that too…because of Esme.”

He looked down at the auburn-haired woman sitting in the straight-backed chair.

“Because of me?” Esme asked him smiling tentatively up at him.

“Yeah because of you,” Dudley agreed. “I know Harry is right about this. I know it was because of you. I love you Esme, more than anything.”

Esme reached up to hug him and Dudley knelt down beside her where it was easier, drawing her into a heartfelt hug and a passionate kiss.

Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand as they watched the pair, and as Harry glanced at her face he could see that she was amazed that muggles could have this too.

“They’re just like us,” she whispered.

“Looks like it,” Harry agreed. He cleared his throat after a few minutes just to remind them both that they were still here.

“Sorry,” Dudley said with a blush. “It’s just that for a while there, I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her again.”

Harry grinned. He could understand that completely. “So how are you Esme?” he asked kindly. “It seems that Dudley and I have been dominating the conversation.”

“I’m alright,” she said. “I’m a bit confused actually. Dudley’s been trying to explain to me what’s happened. I don’t really understand it but I know I started all this. I’m sorry Harry. It’s so horrible; with you and so many people all getting hurt. I didn’t mean for any of that to happen.”

“Esme, it’s not your fault,” Harry said soothingly. “All that was going on before you got caught up in it. In fact the raid you triggered had been in the planning stages for weeks. I think ideally we might have waited a week or so more to start it, but not all that much longer.”

“You see there?” Dudley asked his fiancée. “I told you it wasn’t your fault. I do wish you had listened to me and stayed on the top, but since you didn’t…it really wasn’t your fault.”

“I know Dudley, I really should have listened, but it was so fascinating down there. The civilization that created those tunnels…and that palace!” she exclaimed excitedly as a glow appeared in her eyes. “It was simply amazing!”

“You remember that?” Harry asked in surprise.

“Yes I do. And I’m sorry Dudley, I really am. I just got so carried away when I saw what was down there…” Esme continued.

“And I suppose if I had talked to you, told you what was going on, you would have known to be more careful,” Dudley said apologetically. “I know how you love that ancient stuff.”

“They sound like us, Harry” Ginny whispered in Harry’s ear as the couple talked.

“Yeah they do. We needed to learn that too, to listen to each other. Thank Merlin we didn’t have to go through that to learn it,” Harry commented.

“And speaking of talking to one another,” Dudley interrupted. “I’ve been talking to Mum, Harry. I told her what you did. And I want you to know…she doesn’t think you’re a waste of space any more either. I just thought you should know.”

Harry grinned but Ginny was clearly enraged that he could say such a thing.

“A waste of space…” Ginny began indignantly. “How dare…”

Harry grinned. “Ginny no…it’s okay really. I know what she means, and she couldn’t be more honest about it. Tell her thanks Dud. I appreciate it, I really do.”

Ginny stared at him as she forced herself to calm down, then shook her head. “You know, your family really does have an odd way of relating to one another. It’s so different from mine and Ron’s.”

She glanced up at her brother who nodded.

“Yeah it is,” Harry agreed. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way Gin. Not in a million years.”

“So Dudley, is that all you talked to your mum about?” Harry questioned. “After all this?”

“No actually. I told her that Esme and I have something to tell her, but that I wanted to wait until she was better and we could tell her together. We’re headed there now in fact,” Dudley answered.

“And what is it exactly you were going to tell them?” Harry asked, though he though he already knew.

“We’re going to tell them we’re getting married Harry…and Esme’s parents too. We’re telling them we’re engaged and that we’ll be getting married sometime next spring.”

Harry grinned. “Congratulations Dudley.”

Dudley nodded smiling too. Gradually though, his smile started to fade. “So Harry, how much of this are you going to let me remember?”

“What? Oh, you know, I don’t really know what even happened after I was shot,” Harry told him. “I expect we can deal with that later, after I’m out of hospital, if that’s okay?”

Harry looked questioningly at Ron.

“I think Kingsley will probably leave it up to you,” Ron confirmed.

Harry nodded. “How about you Dud? Are you okay with leaving it for now?”

Dudley nodded. “Yeah I am Harry. I think those we rescued would benefit from a memory adjustment or two, especially those who’ve been treated up on the floor where Esme was, but for me and Rupert…” he sighed.

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking that too. I think this worked well this time. I don’t think that working together like we did will always be necessary or appropriate, but I think this time it was and it worked. It really did. So if a situation ever comes up to do that again in the future, I think we should leave enough of it so we can,” Harry told him seriously.

“Yeah well if we do work together again, please promise me you’ll wear that bullet proof vest next time,” Dudley told him.

“Nah, I don’t think it would have helped,” Harry told him gingerly moving his injured leg. Just in the short time he’d been awake, he’d begun to realize how sore the upper part of the back of his leg was.

“It helped me though,” Ginny told him. “They work Harry. I think you should wear it…if there is a next time.”

You wore it?” Harry asked in surprise.

Ginny nodded. She thought of telling him that Kreacher wore one too, but Harry was so happy, she didn’t quite want to bring him down just yet.

Harry studied her sobering expression. “If you think its important Gin, I could do that for you.”

“Thank you Harry,” was all she said.

Harry nodded as Dudley and Esme got up. “Are you leaving?”

“Yeah we should. It’s a bit of a ride from here to Surrey and Esme’s not all that strong yet, but we did want to see you before we left,” Dudley said.

“I’m glad you did,” Harry told him truthfully. “Take care, both of you.”

“Thanks Harry, bye!”

Harry turned back to Ginny and Ron as they found themselves alone.

“Do you need anything Harry?” Ginny asked.

“Yes. I think I need to get cleaned up bit if I’m having more company later on,” Harry said.

“How about a meal too mate?” Ron asked. “You haven’t eaten…I mean really eaten in three days.”

Harry grinned. The last meal he could remember was at the Italian restaurant with Ginny, but leave it to Ron to have remembered that.

“That too,” Harry agreed.

“Right!” Ron said. “I’ll go ask about a meal,” he promised and hurried off.

“I’ll get you a toothbrush Harry,” Ginny promised.

Harry grinned sheepishly. “Pretty bad huh?”

Ginny just shot him a cheeky grin. “I’m really glad your awake and everything, but yeah it’s bad,” she agreed and she followed Ron out to the healers station.

After a good solid meal, a sponge bath which Ginny helped him with, and the chance to brush his teeth, Harry found he was exhausted and felt ready for a nap. It was still early afternoon and the supper party was expected to go on a good while longer, so Ron left to join the gathering late and to spread the news that Harry was awake.

Ginny sat peacefully beside Harry’s bed watching him as the healers aid came to give him a potion and he fell into a more normal, restful sleep. The potion the healers had begun giving Harry now that he was awake was of a stronger type, one that promised to speed his healing considerably, and just during the short time he slept, Ginny was certain his color was looking better.

Ginny was still sitting there, holding Harry’s hand when Molly’s dinner party broke up…or rather was moved to the hospital.

“Ginny? I thought Ron said Harry’s awake,” Mrs. Weasley said as she quietly walked in. She had come ahead of the rest just to make sure Harry’s hospital room could accommodate them all.

“He was Mum. He’s just having a nap,” Ginny started to explain as Harry’s eyes fluttered open and rested on Mrs. Weasley.

He grinned, managing to cringe only slightly as she swooped down on him for what he expected would be one of her usual, bone crushing hugs. But to Harry’s astonishment, it was incredibly gentle, and very motherly.

“Harry! It is so good to see you awake,” she told him as she kissed his cheek.

Harry smiled at the gesture. “Thanks Molly. I’m a bit glad myself,” Harry assured her as Mrs. Weasley moved to smooth the bedding over and around him as they helped him to adjust the hospital bed so that he could sit up.

 “Careful Mum,” Ginny cautioned as she handed Harry his glasses. “His side and his shoulder are really sore.”

“I am aware of that,” Mrs. Weasley assured her daughter as she finished, then sat on the edge of Harry’s bed, gathering the young man in her arms, cradling him with a tenderness that surprised him.

“Ah…er, thanks Molly,” Harry said blinking rapidly as she pulled away.

“Of course Harry. As I said, we are so pleased you are awake,” she told him. “All of us.”

She gestured to the rest of the family who stood hesitantly in the doorway and together they entered the room to stand behind her. Everyone, absolutely everyone was there: Bill, Fleur, Victoire, Charlie, Percy, George, Angelina, Ron, Hermione, and Mr. Weasley. Even Andromeda and Teddy were there.

“Hi everyone,” Harry greeted them all with a smile and a little wave as they all said hello.

“’ello Harry,” Fleur said as she swept forward next with Victoire in her arms, wearing a beautiful smile. “We weel not be staying. It is time for Victoire’s nap, but Bill and I ‘ad to come by and say something now that you are awake.”

Harry smiled. “Thanks. I appreciate that.”

“Say good bye to Uncle Harry,” Fleur told her daughter and helped her wave.

“Bye, bye,” Victoire repeated.

Harry grinned. “She’s learning to talk! She really is, it’s not babbling this time.”

“It’s getting better,” Bill agreed. “We’re hoping by her birthday she’ll actually make sense. Right now she says ‘bye, bye’ to just about everything.”

“It is ‘er first real word,” Fleur agreed with a grin. “I couldn’t resist giving her the opportunity to say it. Bye Harry. We’re so glad you are better. Bye bye Teddy,” she added to Teddy as she swooped to kiss him too. Teddy flushed slightly as he watched Fleur, Bill and Victoire leave the room while Harry watched them.

“Me too Harry. I just came by to see how you are, but I really should be going.” Percy joined them in saying hello and goodbye nearly in the same breath.

“Thanks for coming Percy,” Harry said. “Bye.”

“Bye,” Teddy’s little voice called after them, followed immediately by “Papa Harry!” as he turned his attention to Harry.

He pulled on Andromeda’s arm, forcing his way through the crowd in an effort to get closer to Harry’s bed.

“In a minute Teddy,” his grandmother insisted.

“It’s okay Andromeda. Lift him up,” Harry said.

Harry looked at his godson then at all the adults who were standing there.

“Hello Teddy. Did all these people come here with you?” Harry asked the boy.

Teddy looked tentatively at all the people who were there, then nodded shyly at him.

Harry smiled. “I’m happy to see you Teddy. I’m sorry I missed taking you to the game yesterday.”

Teddy looked uncertainly at Harry lying in the bed before smiling slightly and looking a bit worried.

“Papa Harry…sick?” he asked.

“Papa Harry got hurt Teddy,” Ginny told him. “See here?” she pulled the sheet down from Harry’s shoulder to reveal one of his many bandages.

Teddy reached for Harry and grunted.

“Set him over here, Andromeda,” Harry directed. “On my right side.”

“Are you sure Harry? He could hurt you further climbing on you.”

“I think we’ll be okay. Besides this weekend he was supposed to spend a day with me. We could still make that today, couldn’t we Teddy?” Harry asked the boy.

Teddy nodded then announced, “I’m two!”

Harry grinned. “That’s right. It was going to be our first outing together since your birthday. I remember,” Harry assured him. “Come on, set him here.”

Andromeda did what Harry asked but he could tell from her face she didn’t think it was a very good idea. Teddy sat on the bed by Harry’s right side near his knees facing him as he studied Harry’s face and then his shoulder.

“Owie?” he asked pointing to the bandage.

“Yes Teddy. Just like you sometimes have.”

“Well, I think it’s a bit bigger than that,” Ron interjected.

“Yes, but I think Harry has the right idea,” Hermione commented. “It gives Teddy an idea what’s happened to him. Show him the others Harry,” she urged.

“Well, maybe this one.” Harry pulled the sheets down a bit further revealing the bandage beneath his arm along his ribs. “Here’s another one Teddy,” Harry said.

“Owie!” Teddy said emphatically.

“Yeah Ted. And I’ve got another on my back. I’m not going to show it to you though. It hurts too much to turn over,” Harry said.

“The healer said you have five wounds Harry.”

“Six if you include the one they didn’t get out,” Ron added.

“No, it’s seven including the exit wound from one that went through him,” Ginny said as she laid a protective hand on his good shoulder. She stood ready to reach for Teddy the moment it looked like the little boy might become too much for Harry.

“Yeah well, I’m not going to show any of you that,” Harry shot back.

“They’re at the top of his leg at the back,” Ginny explained.

“All of them?” Charlie asked in surprise.

“All of them,” Ron confirmed. “I saw where they hit you mate. You were a right mess, blood everywhere. The back of your robes were completely ruined. It was a good thing Kreacher was there to get you out.”

“I was wondering how they got him out,” Charlie commented, “because I never saw anyone bring him out through the front like they did with everyone else.”

Harry blinked. “You were there?”

“Of course. Who did you think Wendy and Ron found to keep the dragons away?” Charlie asked rhetorically. “That’s also how I knew she was hurt actually. I saw her when they brought her back through the tunnel and sent her out on one of the rugs.”

“Wendy got hurt?” Harry asked looking at Ron and Hermione.

“Yes she did,” Ron told him.

“They treated her and released her the same day though, so it was minor,” Ginny told him.

“How did you know that?” Hermione asked.

“I was with Harry in the recovery room when I saw her,” Ginny explained.

“Papa Harry?” Teddy said patting his leg.

“Yeah Ted?”

“Owie?” he asked looking at Harry’s hip. He pointed towards Harry’s left hip which even through the sheets they could tell was heavily bandaged.

“Yes Teddy, that’s another one,” Harry agreed.

“Big owiie?” Teddy asked.

“That’s the biggest one,” Harry told him and Teddy’s little brows furrowed in concern. “Come here Ted, sit up here next beside me, away from the owies,” Harry invited patting the reclining part of the bed on his right side.

Teddy crawled on the bed and turned around until he was sitting beside Harry. Watching him carefully, he mimicked Harry’s appearance and position as exactly as he could. Harry smiled at him recognizing the affection and admiration behind his mimicry.

“So who else was hurt?” Harry asked. “Did we lose anybody?” he added as an afterthought.

Ron and Hermione looked hesitantly at each other.

“Who?” Harry demanded. ”Who did we lose?”

“None of the Aurors,” Ron told him.

“One of the muggles?” Harry asked paling slightly.

“We lost four of the hostages Harry,” Hermione told him. “They got caught in the cross fire. By the time they got to Beth and I, there wasn’t much we could do.”

Harry nodded. He’d hoped there hadn’t been any casualties, but given the intensity of the fight, he wasn’t surprised there were some.

“Who else got hurt and how many?” Harry asked.

“”In addition to the twenty one women and six kids we rescued who were hurt by the Death Eaters when we found them, there were four Aurors and seven muggles hurt and brought here, including you,” Ron reported. “You were the worst though. Everyone else has been treated and released.”

“Well that’s good then,” Harry said sounding relieved.

“That’s everyone, right?” he asked when they didn’t agree.

No one said anything as Harry scanned all their faces, his eyes pausing on Ginny’s and then Hermione’s expressions.

“Who else was hurt?” Harry asked again. Both Hermione’s and Ginny’s expressions looked slightly guilty, but Ginny’s expression also looked sad.

“Ginny? What is it?” Harry asked in growing concern as mentally he went over everyone who was there. The only one they hadn’t mentioned was…”Kreacher,” Harry murmured as he realized this. “It’s Kreacher isn’t it? What’s happened to him Ginny?” Harry asked.

“Oh Harry!” Ginny said and a tear slide down from the corner of her eye.

“Ginny?” Harry asked sitting forward in concern. “He isn’t…Kreacher isn’t…Is he dead?”

“No, not yet…but Harry he’s dying. I asked him to try to hang on…he knows you’ve been hurt too so he’s trying, but I don’t think it will be much longer,” Ginny said with a bit of a sniff.

“Where is he?” Harry said starting to get up.

Instantly multiple pairs of hands were on him pushing him back while Andromeda scooped Teddy off Harry’s hospital bed.

“Harry, you can’t get up,” Hermione pleaded with him.

“Hermione, you’re the one who’s always telling us how house-elves deserve our admiration and our respect. Kreacher risked his life for us…and apparently he’s paid for our safety…and especially mine…with his own. If he’s on his death bed and he wants to see me, then I’m going,” Harry declared trying to push his way out of bed again.

“Harry if you stand up with that bullet in you, the healer said you could start to bleed again,” Ginny told him firmly. “Please don’t do that to me.”

“Alright, get me a wheel chair and I’ll ride, but Ginny, if Kreacher needs me, I’m going to go see him.”

“I’ll get you one,” George offered.

“Thanks George,” Harry called. “Come on Ron. Help me up.”

“Harry…I’m with Ginny and Hermione on this. You’ve been unconscious for the past three days mate. The last thing you need it to be getting up.”

“Ron I’m doing this with or without you,” Harry said swinging his legs to the side of the bed and sliding forward as George returned with the chair. “Now are you going to help me or not?”

“Harry, do be sensible,” Mrs. Weasley took up the girls’ cause. “You can’t get up to the house-elf ward. The lifts don’t go up there.”

“Then one of you can levitate me up the stairs,” Harry said stubbornly. “Come on George, help me into that chair.”

“Up you go Harry,” George said coming to his good side. “Come on Charlie.”

Charlie looked warily at their sister who looked on the verge of hexing them both.

“Ron please…a hand? Dad?” Charlie asked.

“Alright boys,” Mr. Weasley said. “I can’t see as I believe this is wise Harry, but since you are determined, we will help you as much as we can. On three, steady him boys. Harry, hold still please, and whatever you do, don’t put any weight or pressure on that leg.”

Mr. Weasley waved his wand and instantly Harry began to levitate off the bed. The four men maneuvered him carefully and ever so gently until he was seated in the wheel chair. Mrs. Weasley arranged a blanket over his lap while Ron took up the position to push.

            “Thanks Ron,” Harry said appreciatively. “Ginny, aren’t you coming?”

            “Harry!” she said with a bit of a growl. “If you relapse from this, so help me…”

            Harry looked at her steadily. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do this.”

            Ginny sighed and took her place beside his chair.

            “Ready Harry?” Ron asked.

            “Ready. Onward!” Harry declared.

            It sounded like a battle cry launching an adventure as Ron pushed Harry through the door followed by all the remaining Weasleys to the nearest lift and they all rode with him up to the fifth floor. At this point though, all but Ron, Hermione and Ginny left him for the tea room.

            “We’ll expect to see you back in no more than twenty minutes Harry,” Mrs. Weasley scolded him before she left with the rest. “If you’re not back, we are coming after you and we’re putting you back in your bed.”

            “Understood Molly,” Harry promised. “We won’t be gone longer than twenty minutes.”

            She nodded sternly at him before following the rest into the tea room.

            “Shall we go on?” Harry asked.

            “Sure Harry,” Ron said more somberly now.

            Together they made their way to the foot of the stairs that serviced the space currently in use as the house-elf ward.

            “Up you go,” Ron said as together he, Hermione and Ginny began to levitate Harry up the stairs.

            “Scrunch down Harry. The ceiling’s a bit low up there.”

            Harry did as they said, surprised to find that even sitting down, he was nearly hitting his head.

            “What is this place?” he asked looking around as the other three joined him at the top of the stairs.

            “Originally it was the attic and mechanical engineering space for the old department store,” Hermione told him. “St. Mungo’s proper doesn’t use it, so it all used to be wasted space. We at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures convinced them to turn it over to us. We reinforced the floor and turned it over to the house-elf community for a healing center.”

            “A hospital you mean,” Harry said.

            “Yes. A place where seriously ill house-elves can come to get treated, and young house-elves interested in healing can be trained. It’s considered a separate facility from St. Mungo’s, however having them in the same building has its advantages. Most of the elf healers also have the opportunity to work with the wizarding healers in the main hospital as assistants to broaden their training and experience. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a start,” Hermione said with a shrug.

            “I think its brilliant Hermione,” Harry told her. “It suits their needs, puts them close to other healers, potions and equipment. Hopefully someday the two services will merge, but at least for now they are both allowed to exist side by side in the same building.”

            “Thank you Harry,” Hermione said beaming. “I really was hoping to make a difference.”

            “You have Hermione,” Ron told her. “House elves never had anything like this before.”

Together the two wizards and two witches emerged from the stairwell to find themselves in the middle of an enormous house-elf ward. Instead of having separate rooms for their patients though, there was a healer’s station on each side of the stairs which were located in the center. A long aisle that ran the length of the long narrow space in either direction, and dormitory style little beds lined up on each side, similar to the way the hospital wing at Hogwarts was arranged.

            “Kreacher’s up there Harry,” Ginny said, bending low and pointing the way down the aisle right in front of them.

            All four bent their heads, ducking as Ron cautiously propelled Harry forward. The house-elf healers and other health care staff moved around them, ignoring their presence for the most part as they tended their patients and went about their tasks. All of them that is, except one small house-elf who came running up to them.

“Master! Mistress Ginny! You’s was supposed to tell Hermys when Master is better!” Hermys exclaimed while at the same time bowing to them all.

“He’s not better Hermys. In fact Harry just woke up for the first time this morning. He should be in bed,” Ginny half scolded. “But he wanted to see Kreacher…while he still could.”

Hermys ears which were so perky and alert when he’d come to greet them suddenly drooped.

“Papy will be so pleased,” he told Harry earnestly though with an air of sadness about him.

Harry reached out to the little elf placing a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry Hermys. If there was anything I could do to help…”

Hermys eyed Harry trustingly. “You’s helped already Master. You’s allowed Papy to die in dignity and not in disgrace.”

“How did I do that?” Harry asked.

“You did not free him…or me. You allow me to be trained, to serve as a proper house elf. Papy is grateful Master Harry…but I believe he wishes to tell you this himself.”

Harry nodded. “Where is he Hermys?”

“This way.”

The four humans followed Hermys as best they could along the long aisle that ran between the two long rows of beds. Finally in one more than half way down, Hermys came to stand by the food of one.


“Go away Hermys. Kreacher is tired,” a weak but entirely recognizable bullfrog old voice croaked.

“Master is here to see Papy,” Hermys explained.

Kreacher twisted round in his death bed to see Harry Potter sitting in a wheel chair, leaning low so as not to hit his head, surrounded by his three greatest friends, all of whom were bent over at the waist. It made them all look as though they were bowing.

“Hi Kreacher,” Harry said as Ron pushed him close enough to touch the old elf.

“Oooh, …Master…has come…to see Kreacher…but Kreacher…is not…well enough to…bow,” he wheezed, his speech coming in short labored breaths, as though each word cost him a great deal.

“That’s alright Kreacher. Ginny told me she made you promise to wait for me,” Harry told him. “She shouldn’t have asked you for that, but…I’m glad you have.”

“Is Master…wanting…a word with…old Kreacher?” he rasped.

“I wanted to thank you Kreacher, for all your service to me, for your loyalty, and most of all for taking care of me…and Ginny, and for saving me.”

“Kreacher…is making…his papy…proud…to be…doing it…Kreacher…is happiest…to serve.”

“I am honored Kreacher. Truly,” Harry told him. “To have the service of both you and your son.”

“I’s…is also…grateful…you is…kind…and honorable…in taking in…Kreacher’s…son…and allowing…him…to serve…in the way…of my papy. I…is…thanking…Harry…Potter…” Kreacher gasped.

With that he opened his great saucer-like eyes wider than Harry had ever seen them opened before. Looking directly at Harry, he took a great shuddering breath followed by a sigh as he exhaled. Harry took the elf’s gnarled hand in his own, but the hand never moved. Kreacher’s chest ceased to move, still marked with the bruise caused by the bullet against the vest, he gasped his last breath. With his eyes upon Harry’s face, Kreacher died peaceful in the respect, honor and gratitude he found there.

“Good bye Kreacher,” Harry whispered. “And thank you.”

Hermys stepped forward as Harry folded the old house-elf’s hand back across his chest.

“Thank you’s for coming Master. Hermys is grateful Master Harry,” Hermys told him.

“Of course,” Harry told him. “Hermys…I want you to know that I meant it.”

Hermys bowed low to Harry. “I am your servant Master Harry. I’s is grateful enough for us both.”

“No problem Hermys. Ah…er…is there some arrangement that needs to be made?”

“When Master is better…I’s expects it can wait one or two days to have Papy's head stuffed,” Hermys suggested.

"What? No!" Harry said in dismay. "I'd rather bury him, if that's alright with you."

Hermys looked at Harry looking somewhat relieved. "That is very alright Master Harry. I's like to make the arrangements for Papy, if Master Harry says yes."

"Yes, of course, but I do want to be say good bye."

Hermys looked at Harry curiously. "Master wishes to say good bye again? Papy is not hearing Master when we is burying him," the tiny house-elf cautioned.

"I know that Hermys, but I want to be there anyways."

Harry turned back to the girls expecting one or both of them to protest this arrangement, but both were kneeling silently beside him with tears streaming down their cheeks from their eyes.

Harry twisted around and glanced back at Ron.

“I suppose he was old, and with the injury, and shock to his system from the fighting…it was his time,” Ron said with a somber expression on his face. “But I’m with Kreacher mate. If I could go out I the middle of doing something important instead of lying sick in bed…I’d rather do that.”

“Yeah me too Ron,” Harry agreed. “I suppose we had better go back?” he asked as a half dozen house-elves stood nearby as though waiting for them to leave to do what needed to be done.

“Yes please Harry,” Hermione said. “Let us take you back down stairs.”

Harry nodded. “Are you ready Ginny?” he asked when he saw her still looking at the elf.

Ginny glanced at Harry, then crept forward on her knees bowing her head.

“Goodbye Kreacher. I’m sorry I was so horrible to you at first. I’m going to miss the way you used to growl and mumble at me,” she told the dead elf. She leaned down and kissed his cheek before straightening again.

“I’m ready Harry,” she mumbled wiping her cheeks.

Together the four retraced their steps back to the stairs and the lift on the fifth floor. They had been there barely ten minutes, but those ten minutes had left them changed.



Harry was back in bed and the wheelchair had been returned to the healer at the desk by the time the rest of the Weasleys returned from their tea. Andromeda settled Teddy peacefully beside Harry once again and the little boy snuggled against him and fell asleep while they talked. Only the streaks left by Ginny’s tears down her cheeks left notice of their journey to the attic and the house-elf ward. Except for that telltale sign the trip might never have been. The extended family visited with him for the rest of the afternoon, but eventually as the afternoon turned to evening, all of the Weasley’s except Ron, Hermione and Ginny got ready to go home.

“You ready Georgie?” Angelina asked as she gathered her things.

“After you Angelina, dear,” George answered as he slid his arm about her waist.

“I’m heading out too Harry. I’ve got to be back in Romania in the morning. Say hi to Wendy for me,” Charlie said.

“It’s true you’re really not seeing her then?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, it’s true. We’re still friends but…it’s too hard with her being an Auror. I could never be comfortable with her having a job that’s so dangerous.”

“Yeah, like working with dragons is so safe,” Ginny shot back.

“Yeah well…like I said, it wasn’t working out,” Charlie told her. “Bye Harry.”

“Bye, and thanks for the help,” Harry told him.

“Don’t mention it,” Charlie replied and Harry could see he meant it.

“We’d better be going too Harry,” Mrs. Weasley said stepping forward. “I still need to get dinner on the table at home and clear up from the supper we had earlier.”

“Thanks for coming,” Harry said to them all.

Mrs. Weasley kissed him, urging him to eat and sleep, and Mr. Weasley shook his hand telling him how proud he was to have him as a surrogate son. Amazingly enough Teddy slept through it all.

Andromeda looked regretfully at her grandson.

“I really hate to wake him, but we’d better be going too Harry,” she said.

Harry nodded. “Well let me do it.” Gently he began wake his godson.

“Ted…Teddy,” Harry said first patting then stroking the little boys back. “Come on Teddy wake up. Your grandma needs to go, and I need to tell you something.”

Teddy stirred at the sound of Harry’s voice, sleepily sitting up as he looked up into Harry’s face. After a moment he registered where he was and grinned.

“Hi,” Harry said with a smile. “Are you awake?”

Teddy pushed himself to a sitting position as he rubbed his eyes with his fists and yawned. Finally he nodded.

“Your grandma says it’s time for you to go, but I wanted to tell you we’ll be going to Ginny’s games together again real soon. As soon as my owie is better, okay?”

“Okay,” Teddy agreed.

 Harry gave his godson a one armed hug before letting him go, but eventually Teddy pushed him away and climbed up into his grandma’s arms. As much as Harry knew he loved him, it was clear that Teddy loved his grandma too. Andromeda helped Teddy put his jacket on, turning back to Harry with a smile. “It was good to see you feeling better Harry. You just take care of yourself for a while, before you go trying to keep your promises to us. Say goodbye Teddy,” she prompted again.

“Bye Papa Harry,” Teddy said promptly.

“Bye Teddy,” Harry waved to them as they too left the room.

“That leaves just us,” Harry said looking at Ron, Hermione and Ginny.

“I’m staying for a while,” Ginny assured him. “I don’t have to be back to the dorms until ten.”

“What about you two?” Harry asked.

“Well…” Ron hesitated looking at Hermione. “We do have to work tomorrow. Robards wants us in early for a meeting. We all filed our reports on Friday so we’re going to hear the formal debrief about the raid I expect.”

Harry frowned. “I wish I could be there.”

“I’m sure they’ll fill you in Harry,” Hermione assured him. “They know you were key to what everyone did.”

“I know that,” Harry assured her. “But still, I’d like to be there to hear how we did.”

“Don’t worry about it mate. If you’re not out of here tomorrow I expect Kingsley will probably come by and tell you about it himself,” Ron told him.

“And if I am?” Harry asked.

“We’ll come by to see you home, or to visit if you’re still here. Either way we’ll see you tomorrow,” Ron promised as he and Hermione began to pick up their things. A healer’s aid brought in Harry’s dinner tray and set it down as Ron said “Bye.”

“Bye Harry,” Hermione said as she leaned across the bed to hug him from his good side and to kiss his cheek.

Finally after what seemed like hours, Harry and Ginny were alone.

“Well that was something, having everyone here, coming to see me,” Harry commented as he began his dinner.

“They all care about you Harry, same as me,” Ginny said as she fussed over his covers while he ate.

Harry watched her carefully as he chewed. His muscles felt out of practice from having slept for so long. “Do you want some of this Gin?” he offered. “There’s more here than I can probably eat.”

Ginny looked down at the pot roast and gravy. It looked good, but it smelled like hospital food.

“No thanks Harry. They’re going to give you another potion after dinner to help you sleep. I’ll go get something in the tea shop then.”

Harry nodded, still watching her face. She looked tired and sad, but content to be there as he ate. “Are you okay?” he asked for the second time that day. “I mean with me hurt…and that bit with Kreacher…and having to manage Teddy after your game without me…”

“I had help,” she interrupted.

“Yeah I know. But are you?”

Ginny looked up into his eyes, those steady, bright, loving green eyes. “I will be Harry. I’ve been so worried about you. I know that I was the one who distracted you. You were doing okay up until then…and, I got you in trouble with Kingsley,” she said with a sniff.

“With Kingsley?” Harry said in surprise.

Ginny nodded. “He told me I shouldn’t have been there. That my being there interfered with what you had to do…I just want you to know, I’m sorry Harry. I just didn’t stop to think you might end up in trouble for it…I just wanted to help you.”

By now tears she’d shed earlier were flowing down her cheeks again.

“Ginny…” Harry sighed as he put down his fork. “Come here Ginny,” he invited as he pushed the table with his food tray away and patted the space beside him on the right side of the bed, the place where Teddy had napped earlier.

Ginny came around and did what he said.

“I love you Ginny. Do you know that?” he asked.

She nodded, looking down into her lap.

“You let me worry about Kingsley, alright?” Harry asked.

“Yes…but Harry. I know he’s right. It was my fault you got distracted…that you got hurt!” she said still not looking at him.

Harry used a finger to turn her face towards him so he could see her eyes, beautiful chocolate brown eyes, filled with sadness, love and remorse.

“Ginny…I won’t say that what Kingsley said isn’t true,” Harry began. “But I know you were there trying to help me, doing your best, doing what you thought was right to do. I appreciate that…I respect it…and that’s what I would have done too if our positions had been reversed. If you ever need me, I’ll be there, just like you were for me, regardless of the rules. And having you there really did help me up in the weapon room and not just because you brought the sword and fangs to me. So if I’d just been paying proper attention down on the bridge, I wouldn’t have let you distract me and it should’ve been fine. It’s just as much my fault as it is anyone else’s that I got hit, so don’t go blaming yourself for me getting hurt. Okay?” he said seriously as he tipped up her chin.

Ginny nodded as she looked anxiously into his eyes.

“It was something we did together…just like everything else,” he added with a completely straight face, but a teasing lilt to his voice.

“Harry!” she gasped as her tears cleared, then Ginny began to giggle. “Actually we did do it together, didn’t we?” she laughed. “I distracted you and you weren’t paying attention.”

Harry chuckled too. Leaning forward he kissed her soundly.

“Hopefully most of the things we try to do together will end up better than this,” he teased.

“I hope so,” she said in an uncommonly serious tone.

She was about to say something more when a healer carrying Harry’s chart and a vial of potion walked into the room.

“Good evening Mr. Potter,” the healer said. “I’m pleased to see you awake by the way. I’m Healer Gudgeon.”

“Nice to meet you and thanks. I’m rather glad to be awake myself,” Harry told him with a slight smile as he eyed the potion. “Ah…is that for me?”

“I take it the aids have already been giving you this?”

“Yeah, nearly every hour since I woke up,” Harry told him.

“Good. And they should be for the next full day. Then with rest and a little luck, you’ll be strong enough to send home late tomorrow, provided you have someone to give them to you and to help care for you so you can rest there,” the healer said.

“Okay,” Harry said. “When can I go back to work?” he asked.

“Not for a while,” the healer told him. “This is precisely what I mean by resting. Treatments and potions can only do so much Mr. Potter. If you want to heal and to heal properly, you are going to need rest. I don’t mean lying in bed the whole time, I mean taking some time off, relaxing, and allowing your mind and your body to heal. You’ve been through quite a lot.”

 “You have no idea,” Harry replied.

“I have some idea. I’ve been talking to your colleagues. Now for your injuries…”

“Ginny told me about the bullets,” Harry assured the healer.

“And about all the damage to your insides?” Healer Gudgeon asked.

Harry nodded.

“Then I presume you also know you still have one that we cannot take out until you are stronger,” the healer checked.

“Near my hip joint, yeah,” Harry confirmed.

“Actually Mr. Potter, it would be more accurate to say it is anterior to your hip joint closer to your groin.”

Ginny winced slightly as healer described in detail the bullet’s current location.

“How long before you can take it out?” she asked.

“Perhaps in a day or two,” Healer Gudgeon answered. “It all depends on Mr. Potter’s rate of healing.”

“What do I need to do?” Harry asked.

“Give yourself a chance to heal. Your tissues are mended magically, however they are weak. The injured areas need to get their strength back before you ask too much of them, and you need to get your strength back too. If you are good, rest, and stay off your injured leg, we can do it before the end of the week. If not, it may take longer. You have an appointment with me next Saturday regardless for me to assess how you are doing. Then after that, I’m prescribing four additional weeks of rest to fully recover before you’ll be cleared to go back to work,” the healer explained. “Do you have any questions?”

“Yes. Is there anyway I can make it less?” Harry asked. “There’s a lot going on at work right now.”

“There always is in the Aurors’ office Mr. Potter. I’ve treated quite a number of them throughout the years. Some do try to go back sooner, but those that do generally are never the same. If you want to be fully functional, to have all your body parts work without experiencing pain or weakness, and to be able to operate at peak efficiency both mentally and physically when you do go back, you need to do what I say. You are very young. You have your whole life and most of your career ahead of you. Is it worth jeopardizing all that, just to go back to work a week or two sooner?” he asked.

Harry sighed. “No, I guess not,” he conceded in a discouraged tone.

“Good. I’m glad we agree,” the healer answered seriously, taking in Harry’s face he added, “Cheer up Mr. Potter. Consider it a holiday. A chance to relax and to do the things you usually don’t have time for.”

“But didn’t you just say I have to stay off my leg?” Harry asked.

“Only until we remove the bullet. Then you may be cleared to engage in any activity you wish within reason…outside of work of course.” The healer smiled at him. “Now if there are no more questions, I’ll leave you to rest and we can talk more about the details in the morning. Try to get a good night’s sleep and I’ll see you bright and early.”

 “Thanks,” Harry said. The wizard nodded as he left the room.

Harry sighed again as he turned back to Ginny. “It sounds like I’m going to be off work for a while.”

“But that won’t be so bad, will it?” Ginny asked.

“As a lead on the raid, I was supposed to follow up on the Lestranges arrest and arraignment Gin, so at minimum I’m going to miss that,” Harry explained.

Ginny smiled as she got up and began to gather her things. “I’m sure Kingsley will understand.”

“Oh I suppose. We’ve worked so hard for this though,” Harry lamented.

“I know you have Harry, but I think the healers right. You could do with the rest.”

“Are you going somewhere?” Harry asked as he realized she was putting on her coat.

“Back to the dorms. I’m not due back until ten, but I need the rest if I want to do well at practice tomorrow, and I do so I can come see you home afterwards. I need to make sure I’m not late…again,” she explained.

Harry stared at her. “When were you?”

“Last Friday…after we brought you here,” she explained.

“You were late because of me,” Harry said with a frown.

“You were injured Harry. Gwenog understood,” Ginny assured her.

“But I got you in trouble too,” Harry realized as Ginny came back over to the bed and sat down.

“Harry…getting in trouble with the Harpies was the least of my worries. With you hurt…”

“Ginny, I understand,” Harry assured her. “But the fact remains, that because of me, you did.”

“Yes,” Ginny said simply. “Just like I got you in trouble with Kingsley. You didn’t mean for it to happen…it just did.”

Harry nodded slowly, studying her. “I propose we try to do better…” he started to say when Ginny drew him into a kiss. Harry pulled her towards him, forcing her to linger for a while longer.

“Harry…“ she said in a low breathless tone when he finally allowed her to pull away. “You’re supposed to rest, remember? I doubt that would be good for your leg.”

“Oh okay, but didn’t the healer said I could do anything I wished during this-so called holiday?” Harry asked with an innocent air, making it seem as though he truly couldn’t remember exactly what the healer said.

After the bullet comes out,” Ginny reminded him; then she cottoned on to the teasing expression beneath the innocence on his face and voice. “You prat,” she teased back slapping his good shoulder lightly. “You knew that.”

“Yeah I did. But teasing you is fun too. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said pulling her towards him for a quicker goodbye kiss. “Rest well,” he said as the sound of someone clearing his throat sounded from the door.

“You too Harry. Bye,” Ginny said with a blush and a smile as she looked up to find the Minister of Magic had been watching them from the doorway. She nodded to him as she left and Kingsley walked in.

“Err...ah…Hi,” Harry greeted his newest guest.

“Hello Harry. I’m glad to see you feeling so much better,” Kingsley told him earnestly. “I realize it’s late and that you need your rest, so I won’t stay long. I just wanted to be sure you had these.”

He placed a set of blank field report parchments on Harry’s bedside table.

“Thanks,” Harry said when he saw what they were. “I’m supposed to go home late tomorrow, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to bring these in.”

“Do it when you can,” Kingsley replied. “The main thing is to set the events down while their still fresh in your mind…before talking to anyone else. Once that’s done, you can bring them in when you are able. There’s no hurry.”

“Okay,” Harry agreed. He hesitated when it seemed the minister was about to say something else. When he didn’t Harry prompted, “Was there something more?”

Still the minister hesitated as though considering his words.

“There is, but it can wait.”

Harry arched his brow in unspoken query.

“We’ll need your signature on the Lestranges arrest forms,” Kingsley explained wryly. “Paperwork Harry. Success is sweet, but it’s always accompanied by paperwork.”

“But they have been arrested and detained properly, haven’t they?” Harry checked.

“Oh yes. The paperwork is merely a formality, which is why I think it can probably wait,” Kingsley assured him.

“In that case Minister, I must inform you that visiting hours are over,” the healer’s aid who’d been giving Harry his potions informed him. She brought Harry a vial and waited for him to drink it.  “This will ensure you rest,” she informed the Auror who immediately had trouble focusing on who was there.

“What is it?” Harry asked.

“A stronger version of your healing potion, combined with a very powerful sleeping draught,” she informed him as Harry’s eyes closed. “Rest well Mr. Potter. Tomorrow you are going home.”

“Yes, rest well Harry,” Kingsley bade him and Harry Potter drifted off into sleep.



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