“Harry.” It was the first word he heard when he woke up. “Harry.” He groaned. It was the morning after the Battle of Hogwarts and Harry was exhausted. He opened his eyes and found himself face to face with Hermione.
“Wasshappening?” He asked his voice still thick with sleep.
“Harry. Get up.” Hermione urged. Harry sat up in his bed and looked at her with panic.
“It’s okay.” Hermione said in a soothing voice. “Everything’s fine. We’re having breakfast in the Great Hall.”
“Is there still… is it still… y’know.” Harry’s voice caught in this throat.
“No. No. They’re. ..er... they’re in the... the hospital wing.” Hermione grimaced. “You’ll come downstairs, right? Everyone wants to see you.”
Harry sighed and flopped back down onto his bed. The last thing he wanted to do was to go downstairs and face the families and the friends of everyone who died; died because of him.
“I’ll give you a minute.” Hermione said. Harry, who had closed his eyes again, listened as Hermione’s footsteps became softer and softer until they were gone. Harry opened his eyes after Hermione had left and shoved his round glasses onto his face. Immediately Harry recognized the dormitory he had slept in during his six years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The circular dorm had lost the warm and homey feeling that Harry had grown accustomed to. Harry looked around the room at the empty four poster beds. His hands drifted self-consciously toward the lightening shaped scar on his head. Harry threw his blankets off to the side and his fingers clasped around the heavy red drapes that surrounded his bed. He was the only boy is the room. Harry slipped on his trainers and made his way out of the dormitory. The Gryffindor Common Room was the same as it was the last time Harry had been there. The large hearth was empty now and Harry eyed the comfy chair that he had spent endless nights in with Ron, Hermione and Ginny. The walls were coated with red and gold, but it didn’t feel warm. Not like it had before the Battle.
Harry exited the Gryffindor Common Room and began to trudge to the Great Hall. The walk was longer than he remembered, more arduous but after sometime he found himself standing in the entry way to the Great Hall. Whispers followed him as he made his way to what used to be the Gryffindor table. Hermione was already waiting for him and she waved him over with an encouraging smile.
“How are you?” Hermione asked. “I mean…do you feel…different?” Harry shook his head.
“No.” He said.
“Are you alright?” Hermione asked.
“No.” He shook his head again.
“Are you hungry?” Hermione asked hopefully.
“No.” Harry shook his head for the third time.
“Harry.” Hermione said reproachfully. “You have to eat something.” Her voice was kind, but Harry couldn’t bring himself to say anything. He continued to shake his head.
“All those people Hermione. All of them.” Harry felt the tears in his eyes as he turned to look at one of his oldest friends. “They’re all…dead.”
“Harry.” Hermione placed her hand on his back and began to move it in small circles as she hugged him. “Harry, people…people die all the time. These people…they died…they died for something they believed in. They died to protect themselves, protect their families.”
“But…none of this would have happened…none of it would have happened if I had just died.” Harry said miserably.
“Stop saying that!” Harry half-yelled. “Stop saying ‘Harry’! You know it. You know it Hermione. If my mum…if she hadn’t saved me none of these people would have died. If-if-if that night in the graveyard…if I had let him kill me…”
“No one who’s here would be here now.” Hermione said forcefully. “Harry, so many more people would’ve died if your mum didn’t save you. Hogwarts wouldn’t be here now if Voldemort had killed you that night he killed Cedric. Harry, it’s not your fault. It was never your fault.”
“Where’s Ron?” Harry asked. He didn’t want to do this anymore. He didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
“He’s in the hospital wing.” Hermione said. “With…with his family.” Harry nodded.
“Are you going up there?” he asked.
Hermione nodded. “In a bit.” She hesitated. “D’you want to join me?”
“Maybe in a bit.” He shrugged. Harry stood up and began to make his way out of the Great Hall. He didn’t want to stay in there anymore, it was too hard. On the other hand, he didn’t think he could bear the thought of walking up to the hospital wing. So Harry decided to wander around the castle. He found himself outside of the hourglasses the used to tell the house points. They had been damaged in the fight and now Gryffindor rubies, Slytherin emeralds, Ravenclaw sapphires, and Hufflepuff topazes lay scattered around the floor of the grand entrance. Harry stooped down and pocketed one of the small rubies. He continued to meander around the castle until he found himself at the entrance to the headmaster’s office.
The eagle that used to guard the office was nowhere to be seen and Harry felt a twinge of guilt as he climbed the stairs. The door to the office was open and Harry was shocked to find that it hadn’t changed much since Dumbledore was in charge. The portraits on the wall were mostly empty; a few of them were sleeping
“Hey.” Harry whirled around, wand in hand, ready to defend himself. He was surprised to find that he was face-to-face with Ginny Weasley.
“Ginny.” Her name came out of his mouth in a breath. He couldn’t say anything more because Ginny had taken her arms and wrapped them tightly around his neck. He returned the hug, one hand cradling her head his fingers tangled in her long flaming red hair. His other hand bunched her shirt in a fist in the small of her back.
“Harry.” Ginny half-sobbed. Harry could feel her shake in his arms. “Harry I thought you were dead.”
“I know.” Harry whispered. “I did too.” Ginny pulled back abruptly from their hug and slapped Harry across the face.
“Ow!” Harry exclaimed. “What was that for?” Ginny stared at him, hazel eyes ablaze as the tears continued to stream down her face.
“Don’t you dare do that to me every again. You hear me Harry Potter? Don’t you dare.” Ginny’s voice was low and threatening. Harry looked at her wide eyed as his hand held his reddening cheek. His gaze softened as he pulled her back into a tight embrace.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered into her hair. “I am…so…so sorry.”
“Why didn’t you come and visit Fred in the hospital wing?” Ginny mumbled in Harry’s shoulder.
“I thought you wanted some time by yourselves.” Harry told her. “Just family.”
“Harry. You are family.”
Harry wasn’t sure how long they stayed in the headmaster’s office in a tight embrace. He heard a couple of the portraits come back and several of them made some suggestions to Harry and Ginny that would have made Mrs. Weasley blush. It seemed like an eternity when they finally broke apart. Ginny held her hand out to Harry, who grasped it tightly, and led him out of the office. Harry followed Ginny through the cavernous twisting halls of Hogwarts and he grimaced when they stopped just outside the hospital wing.
“I can’t.” Harry said. Ginny turned to face him.
“You have to.”
“Ginny, I can’t go in there.”
“Harry please.” Ginny sounded like she was about to cry. Harry sighed, but nodded his head. Ginny opened the doors and lead the way into the hospital wing. Harry walked into the wing as silently as he could. There were more beds than he remembered being there and nearly all of them were surrounded the curtains that Harry had changed behind so many times before. Harry suspected that the curtains were surrounding the dead, but he couldn’t find his voice to ask. He had never seen the hospital wing so full before, not even when the Chamber of Secrets had been open in his second year.
Harry didn’t know where to start. Madam Pomfrey bustled around the room attending to the remaining injuries and several of his old professors including McGonagall and Sprout were rushing around the room consoling despaired family members. Harry’s green eyes scanned the room and then he saw it. Silhouetted behind one of the curtains was the eight remaining members of the Weasley family. Hermione, who had been chatting with a newly conscious Neville caught his eye and waved him over.
“They’ve been asking for you.” She told him in a hushed voice.
“Probably to tell me to clear out.” Harry said glumly.
“Just go talk to them.” Hermione said as she gave Harry a small shove toward the Weasleys.
Mrs. Weasley was the first to hug him. Harry had barely turned the corner when Mrs. Weasley wrapped him up in bone crushing hug.
“Oh Harry.” She lamented. Harry hugged her back and for the first time he hadn’t wondered what it was like to have a mother. Mr. Weasley clapped him on the shoulder and Percy nodded curtly in his direction. Bill gave him a sad smile as Charlie waved. George didn’t do anything but stare at the face of his dead brother. Mrs. Weasley let go of Harry and began to busy herself by trying to rub off a bit of dirt on Ron’s nose.
“Mu-uh-um.” He moaned. But he let her do it, he had missed her while they were away on their quest and she had just lost one of her sons. Ron could afford to let her baby him for a while longer. The Weasleys, minus George who refused to leave Fred’s side, Harry and Hermione had spent the next half an hour chatting politely outside the curtain surrounding Fred’s bed.
“D’you think they’ll let us out of the castle now?” Harry asked Ron.
“Dunno.” Ron shrugged. “No one’s been in or out all day.”
“Well or course not.” Hermione said irritably. “They’re still…counting.”
“Reckon anyone’d notice if I left?”
“Yes.” Ron and Hermione said.
Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys were shepherded out of the hospital along with all the other guests by Madam Pomfrey who said that those who were injured needed their rest and arrangements needed to be made for the bodies of the fallen. He found himself sitting at the Gryffindor table once again. They had just finished eating their lunch when—
“Potter.” Harry turned around and locked eyes with a very concerned looking Professor McGonagall.
“Come.” Harry looked at Ron and Hermione expectantly. Both of them shrugged as if to tell him they had no idea what was going on. Harry stood up from the table and followed McGonagall out of the Great Hall.
“Professor.” Harry said. “Where are we going?” McGonagall stopped in her tracks and turned sharply on her heel to face Harry.
“You don’t need to call me Professor anymore Potter.”
“Right. Sorry. But—where are we going?”
McGonagall gave Harry a small smile. “There is some business you need to attend to.” McGonagall led Harry through the halls and he couldn’t help but notice that she was different. Her graying brown hair had fallen loose from the severe bun that normally contained it. She looked tired, more tired than Harry had ever seen her, but she had a sense of ease about her now; as if everything was alright. Harry watched as McGonagall’s tartan dressing swept behind her as she walked up the stairs and through the twisting halls. Harry watched as she opened the doors to the transfiguration classroom. McGonagall swept through the classroom and led Harry into her office.
“Sit.” Harry sat in the chair across from McGonagall’s desk.
“Potter.” She said. Harry watched her as she took a deep, raspy breath. “Potter…as you know… Remus and Tonks…have…”
“They’re dead.” Harry said hollowly. A fresh wave of guilt effulged him as he looked at the old woman.
“Yes.” She nodded. “They left their son.” She said it quietly, as if Teddy Lupin was just an afterthought.
“You’re his godfather.” She nudged. Harry looked at her confused.
“Potter.” McGonagall sighed. “What I’m trying to say is…you need to go get him.”
“Harry.” He wasn’t used to her using his forename. “You’re his godfather. You have duties.”
“Sirius was my godfather.” Harry said plainly. “He wasn’t allowed to take me when my mum and dad died.”
“The circumstances” McGonagall sighed. “Were different.”
“No really.” Harry muttered
“Stop acting like a child, Potter.” McGonagall straightened up and rapped her hands on her desk. “Andromeda Black is expecting you in the morning. You may stay in the castle tonight.” She left the office and the classroom. Harry, still in his chair, buried his head in his hands and wondered what on earth he was going to do.