After the war, the survivors try to find a way to cope with the losses they have incurred and move into a future they have yet to create. As they try to find ways to save themselves, they realize that perhaps the best way is to save each other.
This story will eventually be Harry Draco Slash. It will probably take a while to get there from here. This chapter is rated for general audiences.
Posted so far: 15 Chapters / 84,268 words.
Thanks to my beta rosskpr .She reviewed this chapter not once but twice, with good suggestions and comments each time.
Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling. I play here.
Finally! Harry and Draco in the same place... however briefly. More to come! This chapter is in two parts, as it is too big for LJ to handle.
One of the things that has helped me get back on the writing horse is the Harry Potter Last Author Standing Challenge. See my profile for more information. I'll be posting some of the stories (all under 1000 words) that I wrote for it soon, but except for one, they are not in SPS-verse. The one that is, I'll wait to post, as it contains spoilers.
As always, reviews and critiques keep the creativity flowing! Let me know what you think!
On to the Chapter
Chapter 15-1: Funerals Part 2-1
May 7, 1998
Harry had chosen to spend the night after Fred’s funeral at Hogwarts. He loved the Weasleys, but he needed to be alone, without so many reminders of grief. He was glad he went to the funeral, and glad for the reception after, with just the Weasleys and those they considered family. Now, he was equally glad to come through the Floo Network back to Hogwarts, to the solitude of Gryffindor Tower.
He curled around his pillow, thinking of Fred and George, and how it would now just be George. Somehow, losing even one of the twins felt like the world was not as joyful a place. He hoped the signs of George’s returning humour meant that George would recover. Someday. To have defeated Voldemort and yet not have even one irrepressible prankster struck Harry as less than victory. His mind ran through the litany of the dead. His parents. Cedric. Sirius. Hedwig. Remus and Tonks. Fred. Mad Eye. Even Colin Creevey and Snape—one a minor irritation, the other a hateful creature, regardless of his motives—still caused a pain like someone had carved out his flesh. And there were others, those he did not know well enough to mourn. Yet he did.
Voldemort was dead now, and the Death Eaters rounded up for the most part. He hoped at some point in his life he could convince himself the losses were worth it for the victory, but all he felt was that it should never have happened.
* * *
He awakened late the next morning, after finally having gotten to sleep in the wee hours. He hurried through his shower and made it to the Great Hall before breakfast was over, but only just. To his delight, Neville was sitting at the Hufflepuff table. He had seen Neville a few times since the battle, but they had not had a chance to talk.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Harry! How are you?”
Harry sat, not sure how to answer that. “Fine. You seem to have recovered.”
“They hustled me in to see Madame Pomfrey right away. Personally, I think she was glad to get her hands on me, after last year. She spent way too much time checking me over.”
Harry remembered all of his times in the infirmary, and gave a sympathetic grimace.
“Ginny told me about last year.” As soon as he said the words, Harry wished he could take them back. Neville looked as if Harry had just punched him, and suddenly the pain of Ginny leaving him, or not waiting for him, or whatever it was, washed through him.
He realized that he didn’t connect Neville with losing Ginny. Neville was one of those who had stood by him, who had found skill in the DA, had found courage at the Ministry, had apparently found strength during the year he had been away from Hogwarts, and had become a hero in the battle at Hogwarts. Neville was a friend who had never given up on him. Somehow, it didn’t bother him that Neville and Ginny had chosen each other. What bothered him was that Ginny had given up on him. Neville’s guilt-stricken expression hurt to look at.
“I meant about the Carrows,” he said, feeling lame.
“I don’t blame you Neville. I don’t even think I blame Ginny. I’ll be fine. It will be fine, Neville. But... can we not talk about it just yet?”
Neville was spared having to answer by the morning owls.
One of the owls flew in his direction with a thick bunch of parchment. Harry untied it and gave the owl some of his bacon and a bit of his cinnamon bun. The owl nibbled both and took off with a strong downward thrust of wings. No sooner had he done so, when another, larger owl also flew toward him and dropped a heavy box into his hands.
Neville had covered his food and drinking glass out of habit. The owls rarely deposited anything too disgusting on the table, but feathers and down would occasionally float down into the porridge.
“Sorry, I keep getting these from Mrs Tonks. I think I’ve answered five owls full of questions since Tuesday. And I wasn’t here for most of yesterday. I never realized how much is involved in planning a memorial, and I’m not even doing most of the work. I feel bad, like I should be doing more. She’s lost her daughter, and her husband last year; she shouldn’t have to be doing all the work.
“Maybe she needs to do it herself – to keep focused.”
He looked at the box first. It was from the shop Mrs Tonks had suggested for Remus’ plaque. He wasn’t quite ready to look at it. His throat suddenly got thick, as if he’d swallowed a Bludger. He wondered if he’d ever be ready for that. He’d have to be. Just... not yet. He set it on the table and picked up the sheaf of parchment.
The first page was a list of people Andromeda thought he might want at the funeral—people who might want to be there for Remus, with a note asking if there were any additions. She explained that, as most wizarding families were interrelated, it was rare that a potential guest would not be able to cross the outside barrier, which blocked Muggles, and those who wished ill to the family. That could be taken a number of different ways. The inside barrier of the Black estate had been to limit it to family, which, as it was determined by blood and magic, was again fairly broad a swath, considering the interrelation. Still, she would follow tradition and set the Portkeys to transport the guests to a clearing outside the wards. Harry shook his head. Purebloods were paranoid. On the other hand, with families like the Malfoys and the Blacks, he supposed they might have reason to be.
Another page was a spell he should learn and perform. Harry did a double-take. It was a hair lengthening charm. He turned to Neville. “Why would I need a hair lengthening charm for a funeral?”
Neville glanced at the parchment, then his eyes widened. “When did you become Head of the Potter family?”
Harry suddenly realized he would have to do that whole thing again. He wondered what the Potter family had in mind for the Head of the family, and decided he could wait on that. Ever since that day at the Black Estate, he could feel the reactions and sometimes even hear comments of the Black family. He didn’t think he could handle the Potter and Black families using his mind as their own personal Quaffle. With what little he knew of the two families, it would soon come to Bludgers. Would there always be someone whispering in the back of his mind, trying to influence his choices? He’d only just gotten rid of Voldemort!
He realized Neville was still looking at him. “I didn’t. But Sirius made me his heir.”
“And you accepted?”
“The day before yesterday.”
“Wow. Doesn’t your life ever slow down?”
“I haven’t managed to make that happen yet. Do you have any tips?”
Neville just gave him a wry smile. “So, about that spell—usually the head of a pure-blood family will wear their hair long as a symbol of their rank. At some point, I’ll take over the Longbottom family, but right now Gran has the responsibility. I know I’m of age and all, but with all that’s been happening, it just never seemed the time. When I do, though, I’ll be expected to grow my hair.”
But, wouldn’t more purebloods have long hair then? I mean, Mr Weasley doesn’t, and neither did whatshisname, Fudge.”
“It would only be the head of the family. Even then, some only do it for formal occasions, like a funeral. Families like the Weasleys have let go of some of the older traditions. I’ve never seen Mr Weasley wear his hair long, but Bill Weasley does, which a traditional family would never allow.” Neville paused for a moment. “Even among the old blood families, most are cadet houses. They owe allegiance to one of the old pure-blood houses, and it is only the Head of the main family that carries the Pride.”
Neville suddenly looked abashed. “Sorry for running on like that. Gran drilled all that into my head as soon as it became clear I had magic.”
“No, it’s okay. So, I should wear my hair long, when I go to this funeral? Should I have worn it long to Fred’s?”
“What do you think? I can just imagine Fred’s comment on that.”
“If the twins thought of it, they’d have a Head of House Halibut, or something.”
“No, it has to be a candy. Head of House Hyssop.”
“Sounds like a cough medicine.”
“This is why neither of us ran Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes.”
Harry was suddenly silent.
* * *
The morning passed—once Harry sent one of the school owls off with the information Mrs Tonks required—with Harry on a sorting crew, levitating rock into piles of usable, repairable, and unusable stone. The pile of stone blocks that needed transfiguration or repair was the largest. At lunch he sat at the Ravenclaw table with several members of his crew, but no one he knew personally.
Lunch was a hearty stew with chunks of venison in it, fresh fruit, dark, thick slices of bread, and custard for dessert. He wondered at the change of menu, with fewer choices and especially fewer sweets, but expected that the elves were catering to adult tastes, and perhaps were too busy to make five different options for each course. He didn’t mind. It was filling, and felt like luxury after so many months on the road.
“Hi Harry. Do you mind if I sit with you?”
“Luna! How are you? I am so glad to see you well!”
“It’s been going well. Daddy’s getting better. I’ve been helping him with articles. I have to help him run the press, too.”
Harry slid aside a bit and gestured for her to sit next to him. Before sitting, she twisted her pale hair into a knot and stuck her wand through to hold it in place. “Easier to eat this way.”
Harry nodded, wondering if he would have to wear his hair long all the time, and if it would get into his food. Of course, he could take a leaf from the Weasley’s book and thumb his nose at tradition. He wasn’t sure why the thought made him uncomfortable.
“Holding the fork and my wand at the same time can be difficult. I once cast a levitation charm on my food by accident.” Luna continued. “The mashed turnips were especially difficult to get back down. They landed in Eddie Carmichael’s stew, and splattered all over his robes.” She gave a smile. “Cho Chang was sitting right next to him. Too bad she didn’t hear me when I mentioned the dangers of the second Saturday in March.”
Harry was almost afraid to ask. “Dangers?”
“The Creelple dance that day. It tends to cause accidents. She really shouldn’t have worn that lovely cream jumper under her robes that day.”
Just as lunch was ending, Professor McGonagall strode into the Great Hall and up to the head table. She touched her wand to her throat, and with a Sonorus-enhanced voice, spoke. “May I have your attention please?” After the noise in the hall abated, she continued. “For safety reasons, all work on Hogwarts Castle has been postponed. I wish to thank the volunteers for your time, and apologise for sending you home early, today. Please do come back Monday, as we should have the issue in hand by then. The work you have done is much appreciated, and I know that with your help, we will be able to reopen Hogwarts this fall. Those of you who are staying at Hogwarts and are unable to return home for the weekend, please see Mr Filch. Thank you.”
“You’re staying here, aren’t you Harry?” Luna raised her voice slightly to compensate for the sudden burst of conversation filling the Hall.
“I should go talk to Filch. Ugh. Maybe I’ll just ask Professor McGonagall if it’s okay if I stay.” He paused. The Headmistress was busy, and he didn’t want to disturb her. He knew she’d make time for him, but it wouldn’t be fair of him to abuse that. “I suppose there’re some other places I could go for the weekend if I needed to,” he added.
He could stay at the Weasleys. He wondered if the rooms would be too full of visitors, like they had been for Bill’s wedding. He really didn’t want to stay alone at Grimmauld Place. Well, alone except for Kreacher. Despite the changes in the house elf, he didn’t think he was in a mood for dealing with him. Grief for those lost still weighed too heavily on Harry, and Kreacher would remind him either of Sirius or, in the house elf’s new helpful guise, of Dobby. And both of those thoughts hurt too much. All the recent losses echoed those earlier deaths, making the pain sharp again, when it had started to dull. Grimmauld Place would only make it more intense, with the memories of the too-short amount of time he had stayed there, getting to know Sirius. It felt like he had wasted so much time.
As he was getting up, Luna said, “Professor McGonagall will help you, Harry.” She tilted her head back and blinked slowly, then tugged her wand out of her pale hair. “Tell her that Gryffindor tower will be okay. And Harry--”
Harry turned back, waiting for her to continue.
“Would you walk with me afterward? I have something I want to ask you.”
“Sure. Shall I meet you by the entrance?”
She nodded. Harry found the Headmistress still by the front table, again surrounded by people clamouring with questions. When she finally got to him, she agreed to let him stay in the castle that evening, but asked him to go outside for the afternoon but to avoid the spots where the battle had raged, and to check in with her or Filch before returning. There would be an Auror at the front door with information, as well.
To his surprise, Luna was still waiting for him, when he reached the entry hall. They made their way outside and proceeded to walk toward the lake. Luna drifted, wandering on the thick grass as if blown around by a breeze, never once coming close to the furrows in the ground or jagged gaps in the hedges where giants had crashed through or spells marked their passage.
“I always loved this place.” Luna commented, when they had reached the lakeshore. “Shyfusser are particularly fond of the darker grasses.” She ran her fingers gently along a long bunch of grasses. They were a dark green that was almost blue. “It shows off their skin so well, you see.”
Harry didn’t, but nodded.
“I heard you are giving Professor Lupin a memorial.”
He nodded again. Luna had turned away, but continued as if she had seen him.
“I wonder if you’d mind if I make something for him – for the memorial.”
“What do you want to make?”
“I’ll know when it’s finished. You don’t have to use it. But I wanted to give you something to remember him by.”
Harry remembered the painting on Luna’s ceiling in her room and smiled. “I think that would be great.”
“Oh, good. I’d better be going, then. So I can give it to you on time.”
“Luna, I didn’t know you were that fond of Remus.”
“He was a good teacher, Harry. But I’m not doing it for him.”
Harry thought about that for a second, and suddenly felt warm.