Life After War
Fumbling for his glasses, Harry sat up in his four-poster bed. He felt like he had been asleep for days, but could still sleep for more. Hearing his stomach growl, he realized it had been a good long time since he ate the sandwich Kreacher brought earlier. Wishing for food, he left the dormitory and headed towards the Great Hall.
Harry noticed an eerie silence he never heard before as he walked through the halls. A great battle took place here and now the building lay silent. Stepping over rubble, he could not ignore the school's state of disarray. Paintings, statues, and parts of walls were missing. Bits and pieces of the building and whatever else Harry could not make out littered the area, including all the materials and objects everyone used to fight.
If only I'd surrendered earlier, none of this would have happened. Harry thought.
As he continued his walk, faces filled his mind, faces of friends he would never see again. Fred. Lupin. Tonks. Dobby. Hedwig. Even random faces he didn't know but had seen fallen, eyes staring at him, but not really seeing at all.
Reaching the Great Hall, Harry did not want to open the door and face those who had lost loved ones. He took a step back, his heart heavy with grief, and after a deep breathe, he opened that door, hoping to make a silent entrance.
Harry noticed the bodies missing first thing upon entering. He had not thought they would still be here, but he had also not thought they would not.
He spotted the familiar redheads sitting in a group at the table farthest from him, pain written all over their faces. He did not want to face them. It was his fault Fred was gone. It was—
"Harry!" Hermione mouthed.
She stood up from her seat next to Ron and rushed over to him.
"How are you feeling?" She asked quietly, leading Harry to the table.
Harry sat down next to Charlie Weasley. Charlie gave him a slight nod of acknowledgement, as did Ron. No one felt much like speaking.
"I'm fine," Harry lied, rubbing his fingers over his scar.
The truth? Harry could not feel worse. He had just been involved in a great battle, killing the darkest wizard of his lifetime. It was over. He reached the destination he aimed for since he first heard of Voldemort at age eleven. What was he supposed to do next?
"Not still hurting, is it?" Hermione referred to his scar.
"No." Harry took his hand away from his head. "It doesn't hurt at all."
Harry glanced up and down the table. A great meal had been prepared, but nobody ate. His eyes met with Ginny's and they both looked away. He wanted to talk to her, comfort her, tell her everything was going to be okay even if it was not. But, this was not the time, not here, not in front of her parents, not in the midst of all this in the Great Hall.
Harry felt guilty for all the suffering he caused. If he had just—no. He must not think that way. He must keep his head up for everyone else.
He lookedat the rest of the Weasleys at the table—Fleur and Bill sitting next to Ginny, Mrs. Weasley—oh, Mrs. Weasley. Her husband comforted with his arm around her as she laid her head on his shoulder. The pain she experienced, Harry could not imagine He quickly turned his glance to the next Weasley.
Ron. He sat there staring at his empty dinner plate with his head in his hands. Ron, who loved food and under any other circumstance would be devouring it left and right after a season of mushrooms, stared solemnly. Harry had witnessed the same scene Ron did and as much as he tried to get it out of his head it would not budge. Ron must feel worse.
"Harry," Mrs. Weasley spoke softly, finally taking notice of Harry's arrival.
The Weasleys turned their attention to her.
"I—I'm sorry," Harry began.
"No, it's not your fault. We knew the stakes coming in. You did admirable."
Harry looked down at the plate in front of him. If he did such a good thing, why did he feel so lousy?
"Harry," she spoke again, clearing the sobs from her throat. "I would prefer you come home with us for the summer. I won't take no for an answer."
Home? Harry had not thought that far in advance. He had not actually thought about leaving Hogwarts at all, but he supposed he would have to as the school was in no shape for anyone to live nor did they allow students to stay the summer anyway.
Where would he go? The Burrow sounded like a good option, but he did not want to impose, not now. He did have Sirius's house, 12 Grimmauld Place, if Death Eaters had not destroyed it. But, did he want to be alone? He would have Kreacher, so he would not be alone. Yes, Grimmauld Place seemed the best place to take up residence.
"I reckon I'll go to Grimmauld Place."
"You can't mean you want to be alone," Ron spoke up.
Harry thought about it. Could he really separate himself from Hermione and Ron right now after all they went through?
"No," he replied. "I reckon I can't."
"You will come home with us, then?" Mrs. Weasley asked.
Harry sat in the stony silence when he noticed someone at the other end of the room that he needed to see. He nodded to Ron and Hermione hoping they would understand or at least not ask questions.
Passing by gawks and stares, Harry found Hagrid and wrapped his arms as far as they would go around him.
"Harry!" He pulled Harry into a bone-crushing embrace. "I can' believe yeh did i'" Harry looked into Hagrid's eyes filling with tears. "Yeh defeated You-Know-Who."
Harry wanted to smile at Hagrid still not able to say Voldemort, but he did not feel the time was appropriate.
"I'm sorry." Harry unwrapped himself from around the half-giant. "For—for pretending to be dead, for scaring you, for not letting you know I was alive."
"Yeh did wha' yeh had ta do. Yer alive now, tha's all tha' matters."
"Yes." Harry looked at the floor and then back up at Hagrid.
"I'll be spending the summer with the Weasleys, I suppose."
"Good, better than wi' yer ruddy aun' and uncle."
Harry laughed. It felt good to laugh. Broke the tension.
Harry returned to the Weasleys. They looked as if they were leaving. Mrs. Weasley held onto Mr. Weasley as if she were holding on for dear life. Percy and Charlie helped George along. He looked like one of the walking dead. Harry's heart hurt at the pain they were dealing with. He looked for Ginny, but she was mixed in with the rest of the Weasleys and unable to spot.
"We're going to Hogsmeade to Disapparate to the Burrow," Hermione mentioned.
Harry blindly followed the group out of the Great Hall and outside the castle. His stomach growled letting him know he still had not eaten anything.
"Let's be quick! Hogsmeade is still not considered safe," Mr. Weasley called out ahead of them as they reached the outer edges of the Hogwarts grounds.
"While you were asleep, McGonagall had a talk with us. She wants everyone to rest before we begin to rebuild the school. And," Ron's hand brushed Hermione's but neither made to hold the other. "You probably noticed the bodies missing from the Great Hall," she whispered.
Harry looked at Ron, who looked like he would break out in tears at any moment.
"They moved them to the hospital wing. McGonagall will notify us when arrangements have been made."
Arrangements. Harry knew that meant funerals. Having reached Hogsmeade, he closed his eyes, grabbed Hermione's hand, and disapparated.