Harry Potter stood alone atop the Astronomy Tower reflecting on the battle that had just taken place. Everyone who remained in the castle was celebrating the victory over Voldemort and the Death Eaters, or grieving the loss of their loved ones. The feeling of victory had only lasted a short while. Harry had been thrilled to be rid of Voldemort, but now the victory felt hollow when he realised what had been lost. Harry's mind couldn't escape the deaths of his friends. Remus, his last connection to his father, Harry had loved him almost as much as he loved Sirius. Now he was dead, along with his wife, Tonks. Harry would never forget the look on Remus's face when he burst into Shell Cottage to deliver the news about his son being born. Now that boy would grow up without his parents, something Harry had been through himself, and knew the struggles that came with it all too well.
Then there was Fred. How could Harry ever face the Weasley's again? He knew they would never blame him for Fred's death, but that wouldn't stop Harry blaming himself. He knew what losing family was like, but losing Fred would be different. The Weasley's were the closest family Harry had ever seen, and Fred was one of the twins. What would become of George? He'd never lived a day without his brother, now he'd have to face each day without him. He couldn't begin to imagine the effect this would have on him. What would he say to Ron? Or to Ginny? Harry began to cry silently. He couldn't face Ginny. He didn't know how to act around her. He wanted nothing more than to scoop her up in his arms and kiss her, but he couldn't. She had just lost her brother, some of her friends, she'd need the time to grieve with her family. Then they would talk.
Harry thought about many of the people who had died in the battle, but he thought an awful lot about Professor Snape. Harry kept reliving what he had seen in the pensieve. Snape had sacrificed so much for Harry, and he had remained none the wiser. Snape had had a chance at a life of his own, but Snape had not stopped loving Harry's mother. He'd risked everything, and Voldemort killed him in the end. Harry knew eventually he would have to face everyone, and when he did, he was going to make sure people knew that Snape was a true hero. He had worked behind the scenes, and saved a lot of people. If it wasn't for Snape, Harry wouldn't have been able to defeat Voldemort.
Harry turned his head when he heard a noise behind him. "Harry Potter." A soft voice said behind him. Firenze, the centaur, stepped into view. "I see you've come to reflect on past events. Not something you find easy I’m sure.”
"So many people have died today. I don’t know how I can face everyone."
"It's hard to lose the people we hold dear," Firenze said, his voice a soothing tone, "but we must move forward with our lives. The pain won't ever go away Harry, but it will soften over time.”
"Thank you," Harry replied sincerely.
"A bit of reassurance always helps." Firenze smiled, "Many people look up to you Harry, especially on a day like this one. Everyone downstairs is awaiting your return, they expect you to say something... about the battle, or just to give them reassurance. Many people are still scared, and confused. Nobody is really sure what happens next. Perhaps you can point them in the right direction?"
Harry nodded, composed himself, and turned towards the door. "I'll try," he said. He had a fleeting thought, that if he was allowed to return to school to retake his 7th year, he might take divination if Firenze was going to return as a teacher.
"If I could have everyone's attention for just a moment." Harry announced standing atop a large mound of rubble in the Great Hall. He was trying to mimic Dumbledore's style, catching each person’s eye individually, captivating his audience. "I eh, I wanted to talk to all of you, but first I'd like to ask you all to take a moment of silence, to respect our friends who have given their lives to ensure a better future for the rest of the world." The hall fell silent. Harry took time think of his next words, none of which would help the people who had lost a loved one. After what he thought was about a minute, Harry spoke again.
"I am sure that today, everyone is feeling conflicting emotions. Yeah, we are sad. We've all lost friends in this war. Family, and even children. We must, and we will, take time to grieve our losses." Harry's eyes glanced fleetingly at the Weasley family. "We should also celebrate though," Harry raised his voice, trying to make himself sound provocative, "we have won this war! In doing so we have ensured a better future, not just for us, but also for generations to come.”
“Of course we'll look back, and remember the hard times we went through, but that will only spur us on to make sure we live the best life we possibly can!" A cheer broke out across the hall, Harry’s face morphed into a smile, and he let the feeling spread across the hall before changing tack and adopting a more somber tone. "I'd like to take a moment to tell you all about a man, who helped us win this war from the other side of the battlefield. He is one of the true heroes in all of this, and I cannot let him go without recognition today." A gasp echoed around the hall as Harry announced; "Severus Snape devoted his life to defeating Voldemort. He is the reason many of us are standing here, and is truly one of the greatest, bravest men I've ever known." Another gasp, and a few horrible remarks. Harry decided not to elaborate on the subject of his old Potions Master.
"I know how hard this has been, on everyone, and I want to thank everyone who fought for us. The Wizards and Witches, Goblins, Animals." Harry choked back tears as he thought of Hedwig, his longest friend. She had sacrificed her own life to save Harry, a debt he felt he would never repay. "The entire magical world came together to defeat Voldemort, We've been assisted by Dragons! Giants! The damn Sorting Hat!" Another cheer broke out across the hall. Harry was sure he actually saw the hat chuckling amongst the rubble.
"Even the House Elves played a huge part in winning the war." Harry couldn't hold the tears back this time. He could see Ron and Hermione comforting each other, no doubt remembering Dobby coming to their rescue. "Among many people I have to thank for helping me, I am most indebted to one of my best friends. His name was Dobby. A free elf. He taught me, that every single creature in our world deserves to be treated with respect, and with dignity. If all of us had learned that lesson, this damn war would never have happened." With that Harry ended his speech, leaving the Hall without another word to anyone.
With some difficulty, Harry navigated his way through the debris and headed to the Gryffindor common room. In comparison to the rest of the castle, it seemed relatively undamaged. The odd chair was tipped over, but Harry sorted that out with a flick of his wand. He sank into an armchair and flicked his wand again to set the fire roaring. He sat, lost in his thoughts. A particular redheaded girl occupying most of them. What was he going to say to Ginny? Maybe after all that had happened, she wouldn't want to be with him. What if she never wanted to see him again? Harry didn't think he could live with it.
"Harry!" He woke with a start, not realizing he had fallen asleep. "Why haven't you spoken to me at all? You know after you defeated Voldemort, or before you went and got yourself killed!"
"I, I eh-" No words came as Harry stared into the furious eyes of Ginny Weasley. He had wanted to speak to her; honestly he wanted to do more than speak to her. But he couldn't face her; he didn't know what to say, and know she was pounding her fists into his chest like some deranged creature. "Ginny I-"
"God Harry," she cut him off, "please don't tell me your sorry! Enough people have told me that today. What happened to Fred was not your fault. So you can stop avoiding me, sweep me off my feet, and carry me off into the sunset on a Hippogriff! Or whatever it was you were planning to do!" Again, words did not form on Harry's lips, so he pressed them against Ginny's instead. Thankfully she didn't seem to mind.