"As arduous as it was the press conference was necessary" Hermione Granger told her boyfriend Ron Weasley. They had snuck into an alcove near the front doors of the Castle used mainly by students for snogging.
"I know Hermione, it's just that I wish we could have used the time to look for Harry. He is out there somewhere and we have to find him soon."
"Did you want to announce to everyone that the savior, the one who killed Voldemort, is missing? No we owe him not to broadcast that. I'm sure we will find him soon. Now we should get back. The vultures are gone and Ginny needs us." Reluctantly Hermione and Ron left the privacy of the hidden space to go back to the Great Hall. Kreacher was deep in discussion with the Headmistress and the Minister.
"Kreacher do you mind my asking you something?" wondered Ron when he saw them stop talking.
"Not all Master Weasley. How can Kreacher be of assistance?" the old House Elf asked.
"First off how are you and the other House Elves? No one has asked since the Battle." Hermione squeezed Ron's hand as he did this.
"We are fine Master Weasley. The Death Eaters were more concerned with you than us. They have forgotten how strong our magic is. Are you hungry?"
Ron smiled at the question knowing his reputation. "No Kreacher. Well maybe a little but it can wait. I am talking about Harry. As you know he is missing. I shouldn't say this, but technically you belong to him don't you?"
"Master Weasley you are right. Master Harry Potter owns Kreacher. He came with the house at Grimmauld Place."
"Good. Well not so good. Oh, you know what I mean" he said exasperated at trying to phrase things the right way.
"What my boyfriend is trying to say is a House Elf has a special relationship with his Master doesn't he?" Hermione asked to help Ron guessing where he was going.
"Yes Mistress Granger. Very special indeed" Kreacher replied rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. Ginny now moved closer listening intently.
"Excellent. With this special relationship is it possible for you to tell us if Harry is here? He can disillusion himself now and ... "
"Yes Harry Potter has gotten stronger. He has learned much" Kreacher cryptically answered, giving Ginny goose bumps. She felt Teddy, who was still sleeping, squirm closer wrapping his little fingers around hers.
Ron opened a pouch he had in his pocket. "This is Harry's" he told his Sister as he rummaged around inside it. He pulled a thick parchment from it and explained. "This is something Harry's Dad made when he was here. It shows every Witch and Wizard inside the Castle. I looked and I don't see him but maybe Kreacher with his special bond can."
"Kreacher can you try please?" Hermione asked as she handed the papers to him. He accepted the map and spread it out on a table between the pillow and Harry's jumper which he had disillusioned to prevent the reporters from seeing it. He studied the entire map first mumbling to himself as the Weasleys conferred.
"Too many places he could be" Hermione told them, thinking of all the traveling they recently did.
"England is a big place" Bill added.
"Think bigger. Europe is right next door" Charlie stated.
"Oui. My parents live just outside Paris. Maybe he went there" thought Fleur.
"I don't think so" Ginny curtly answered thinking of Fleur's little Sister Gabrielle who has a crush on Harry.
"He doesn't really know them. That wouldn't make sense" George said to try and diffuse the tension between the two women.
As they were talking a small group of students came to say goodbye. One of them, seeing Kreacher bent over looking at something, leaned onto the table for a better view. "Nice picture of the Castle. I bet if you framed it and placed it over a mantle it would look pretty." She got up and walked over to the group talking and placed her hand on Ginny's arm making her jump. "Ginny if you need anything at all please owl me."
"Probably not a good idea" Ginny muttered under her breath as Romilda Vane exited with her Family and several others. Soon all that was left were the extended Weasley Family. They moved to talk to Kreacher to see if he had any luck. What they found was him looking curiously at the jumper not the map.
"Kreacher what is it?" Hermione asked afraid of the answer.
Unsure of what to say, and hoping he was wrong, Kreacher the House Elf scanned the faces of those around him. 'That one. If Kreacher is right ... ' "Master Percy Weasley Kreacher understands you graduated here at Hogwarts with 'O's' on all your NEWTS. Could you help Kreacher with something?"
Proud of (and full of) himself Percy agreed. He sat down next to Kreacher and blinked repeatedly to try and clear his head. "Kreacher what exactly are we looking for? I can see this is a map of the Castle and it appears to show the people in it. Here I can see us sitting at the table" he stated leaning forward. He placed his right elbow on the table and reached with his left hand to pull the map closer as he blinked more. "Who are you trying to find? I can see all of us here."
The gasps from behind them confirmed Kreacher's fears. "We are trying to find Harry Potter. Do you see him?"
Percy continued to blink as he stood now with both hands flat on the tabletop as he peered at the map. Try as he might he did not see a dot labeled 'Harry Potter'. "Kreacher I'm sorry I don't see him anywhere. Do you know him? Is he a friend of yours?"
The sounds of crying were evident but Kreacher ignored them. "Master Weasley yes he is but Kreacher is mistaken. Harry Potter must not be here. Thank you for your help anyway." Kreacher closed his eyes and did not see the Elder Weasleys lead their Son away to explain what just happened. When he opened them he saw a horrified and scared group of people not comprehending how serious this was. He left the map, the pillow, and the jumper and whispered something to the Headmistress. He saw the beginning of the glazed look on the Minister's face and he knew he needed to act quickly.
"Excuse me Masters and Mistresses" he announced to the largely empty room. He was standing in between the Minister and the Headmistress who was whispering into his ear making his eyebrows shoot up his forehead. "We have a crisis on our hands. One much, much worse then we realize. If you will all be seated Kreacher has a story to tell."
The Weasley Family clustered at the front nearest to the raised platform. Hermione waved her wand and a tiny chair appeared which Kreacher gratefully accepted. "How many of you know the beginnings of Hogwarts?"
"Around a thousand years ago the four greatest Witches and Wizards of the age got together to create this place" the Headmistress stated.
"Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin were the founders" Percy added. He still had that absent look about him, and none realized why other than Kreacher.
"Yes they did. Have any of you ever wondered how that came to be? Why here and at that point in time?" he asked. The blank looks he was receiving told him they had not.
"There is a legend among the House Elves which goes back to this time. It involves both the how and the why. And as with now it contains great tragedy."
"Does this have anything to do with Harry and his ancestors?" whispered Ginny. Harry had always wanted to know more about his parents and their Families since they died when he was one. It was part of what drew him to the Weasley's with their large Family.
"Yes Mistress Ginny it does. Something terrible has happened and we need to fix it before ... But Kreacher is getting ahead of himself. As was said around 1000 years ago those four Witches and Wizards started Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. What is not said are the circumstances about this.
Near here lived a very powerful Wizard and his Family. They traveled throughout England and Europe, fighting those who wished to enslave the non magical peoples and those less skilled. In their journeys they met Godric Gryffindor near London, Helga Hufflepuff in Paris, Rowena Ravenclaw in Eastern Europe, and Salaszar Slytherin in what is now called Russia. These four were convinced to meet at their home along with about a dozen others to confer and determine how to go about fighting the evil which was spreading. The source of it was unknown but the feeling was if united they could at least contain it. All agreed to come and on a beautiful Spring day similar to this one they met."
"Kreacher you say it was near here. Do you know exactly where?" asked Ron. Beside him Hermione was leafing through 'Hogwarts a History' .
He snapped his fingers again and the outside wall became clear. In the distance the remains of Hagrid's hut was visible with the low walls encircling it. "Have any of you noticed these rock walls? No? Perhaps if we look from above. Here on the map." He snapped his fingers again and the map expanded to show the lawn from the Castle to the Forbidden Forest which Hagrid's home once sat in the middle of. Several low walls encircled it which Hagrid used as pens when he taught 'Care of Magical Creatures', and other broken ones were further out. What was left of the house faded away and you could now see the outline of what was once a large home.
"On the early morning of the third day the house was attacked. Somehow Dark Forces learned of the meeting and were determined to disrupt it. We do not know the nature of those who attacked, only that they assembled themselves under cover in the Forest. Powerful magic hid them until they attacked in the darkness."
"I'm sorry Kreacher but I have read this a dozen times and there is no mention of it. Are you sure it happened?" wondered Hermione. She had been running her fingers through her hair as Kreacher was talking trying to find evidence of its truth, leafing page by page through the huge book.
"There is good reason why you cannot find anything Mistress Granger. The Battle lasted that day and night, ending around noon the next one. What was left of the Army had retreated believing all were dead or injured too badly to trouble them any further. Unfortunately they were right. The Wizard who lived here lost all his Family, which was his Wife, their three Sons and their Wives, and the five children they had. In addition all but four of the ones invited lost their lives too."
"The four who founded Hogwarts?" asked Luna.
"Yes Miss Lovegood. And they were badly injured clinging to life. Only the very powerful one whose house this was lived. Physically he was unharmed because of his magic, but emotionally his life was shattered. His Family was gone and his new friends were either dead or barely alive."
Ginny was shaking her head, feeling not only for him but Harry who survived many of these things. She did not know what was about to happen next, because if she had ...
"Instead of pursing the Dark Army the Wizard spent his time healing his friends. He created powerful wards as he constructed a second, smaller house to keep out the elements." Hagrid's hut now appeared, looking as if it had been there for centuries. "The four had spells cast over them to sleep as they healed. The Wizard gathered the bodies of his Family and his friends and buried them next to the Black Lake." A large mound was now visible along the shore covered with yellow and white flowers.
"He spent days with his remaining friends. His heart was filled with sadness at the ones he lost, blaming himself for being unable to protect them." The eyes of the Weasley Family grew wider as Kreacher talked, seeing more and more parallels with Harry Potter. "When he knew they were strong enough he began to modify their memories. He did not want them to have to live with the death and destruction."
Ginny was mouthing 'NO' as Kreacher continued, now understanding what was happening. She tried to speak but couldn't.
"Finally he was ready. He disillusioned himself as they awoke. They found themselves on this grassy lawn facing the high hill the Castle is on today. They only knew they came to create this school for the betterment of the children born with magical abilities. The desire to teach was given to them, and so Hogwarts was born."
"But Kreacher didn't they see the burial mound along the Lake?" asked Bill, thinking about the grave dug for Dobby. He remembered his Brother Ron being there and Dean Thomas.
"It was made to look like a hill. Over the centuries it settled and looks like this today." Kreacher gestured to his left and in the distance the sun sparkled off the white marble crypt of Headmaster Dumbledore's tomb.
"Kreacher what happened to that Wizard?" whispered Hermione. She and Ron were now on either side of Ginny pressed tightly against her.
"This is where the Legend ends. He was disillusioned so he may have simply walked away never to be seen again. The memory charm was very strong. Powerful enough to remove the memories of his foes as well as his allies. We do not know only that he was gone, almost as if he had never been."
"Yesterday Harry said something. What was it? His scar. 'It didn't hurt any more, almost like it had never been.' Is that why people don't remember Harry? Only us who knew him best?" guessed Ron.
"Know, not knew Ron" Hermione corrected. Like Ginny she was deathly afraid what this might mean. "Winky!!" she called.
A tiny House Elf appeared. "Yes Mistress? How can Winky help?" she asked cringing.
"Winky I am sorry I yelled. In the Headmistress' Office she has a pensieve. Can you bring it please?" asked Hermione.
Headmistress McGonagall nodded giving the tiny Elf a smile which made her perk up. Two quick flashes and she was back with the large water filled bowl floating beside her. A second bowl accompanied her which had clear not cloudy water which the first one had. "Winky brought this other one Mistress. Memories are in the first one but you asked so Winky brought it anyway."
"Winky you are a genius!! Thank you" Hermione said as she hugged the Elf which came barely above her knee. "I don't know if the story Kreacher told is happening again but we can't take the chance. We have to take out and duplicate our memories and put them safely in here. If any of us start to forget about Harry these will help." She went first placing several memories in the swirling water followed by Ron.
"Fleur who is Harry?" Bill asked his wife. She started to open her mouth then stopped, thinking the name was familiar but she didn't know from where.
Next came his parents and Professor McGonagall. Last was Ginny, afraid this was the end of her relationship with Harry. "You have to. Duplicate them so we have them just in case" instructed Ron. Everyone who remembered anything was pouring the bowl full of images. Neville and Luna supplied it with more. Reluctant to share her innermost feelings she felt she had no choice. Teddy was looking up at her and smiling which gave her the confidence she needed. "For the both of you. To remember each other even if I don't" she said as she kept adding to the already full pensieve.
"All right now what?" Ron asked to Hermione. He thought he saw her eyes get fuzzy for a second but she snapped out of it.
"We search more. Kreacher why did you ask Percy to help before?"
"Mistress Granger it was for two reasons. First to see if Master Percy Weasley remembered Harry Potter. Second because of what took place earlier when Miss Vane was here. Kreacher was looking at the map and she leaned over and ..."
"Why is that important?" demanded Ginny making Kreacher back away.
"Kreacher is sorry Mistress Ginny" he replied. He began to pound his head on the table, falling onto the floor when he lost his balance. He continued to do the same thing with the floor, leaving his bluish green blood in both places.
Ginny was ashamed. "Kreacher I order you to stop and come here" she told the Elf more gently. Thinking his Mistress wanted to beat him herself he obediently came to her with his head down. Ginny put her hand under his chin and raised his head so she was looking directly into his eyes. "Kreacher I am sorry. I did not mean to yell at you." She conjured a wet rag and wiped his forehead of the blood and grime which was there. "Please do not ever, ever hurt yourself again. Harry and I want you around with us. One day, if we are married, I want you there to help us raise our children."
"Mistress is too kind" he whimpered placing his head in her lap like a puppy might to be petted.
"And Kreacher thank you for sharing that story. I believe you. It is so like Harry to help us by making us forget what happened. Unfortunately it isn't that simple. We may forget him but all the ones who died? I remember Fred completely. Tonks too. Is that it, for us to forget about him? Does he think it will help us if that happens?"
"He might Ginny. But it might make things worse. No Harry means you aren't here" Ron said remembering the Chamber.
"Or you Molly. Or me" added Arthur.
"Possibly all of us. Who killed Voldemort?" Minerva asked Kingsley.
"I'm not sure. It was a free for all. In the end he was dead" he said after deliberating.
"Can this change too? With no Harry the Sorcerer's Stone is stolen. For that matter he never dies the first time. Harry does. Voldemort takes over. End of story. We have to find him soon before any more changes take place" Neville says as he gets up. The glistening in his eyes are gone now, instead filled with determination.
"Has anyone looked at these recently?" Luna interrupted. On the table were the pillow and Harry's jumper. "The pillow was used by Harry yesterday. Why is it wet? The blood should have dried by now."
Ron picked up the jumper. It was badly torn and frayed around the edges. The sleeves were barely attached. "Ronald are you bleeding?" his Mother asked him. "And what are you doing?"
'We've lost them too' he thought. Ron turned the garment inside out and saw the source of the blood. Near the top, just below the neck, was a stain about 5 centimeters in size in the same place as his and Hermione's. Below it, over where Harry's heart would be, was a much larger wet one about 5 times the size. "Why is this still wet? Hermione it has to be two days since he had this on." He laid it back down now inside out on the table. Since it was flat the blood no longer dripped but it remained wet.
"It's just as though Harry himself was here. Is that it? He is with us somewhere. He has to be. We need to find him and quickly. Who remembers Harry?" asked Hermione suddenly.
She saw Ron, Ginny, Neville, Luna, and Headmistress McGonagall raise their hands. Taking charge she set up a plan. "Ron you and Neville go to Grimmauld Place. He might have gone there. Ginny, Luna, and I will double check the Headmaster's tomb. Headmistress if you can remain here and try to refresh people's memories?"
"Certainly, And it is Minerva from now on. For all of you" she replied as she hugged each of the 'kids' wishing them good luck.
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