Thursday, April 10, 2008

Chapter 2: The Common Room

Harry woke up alone in the dormitory many hours later. His watch, the very same one Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had given him for his 17th birthday, told him that it was already 9 am the following morning. after indulging in a long, hot shower he found a clean set of robes folded neatly at the foot of his bed, courtesy no doubt of Kreature. He put them on and headed down the stairs to the common room where he found many of his friends chatting quietly, perhaps waiting for him. Ron and Hermione seemed deep in coversation in front of the fire, Ron's arm draped casualy around her shoulders. Across the room in the armchairs sat Ginny, Neville, Sheamus and to Harry's surprise, Luna. They greeted Harry as he sat on the arm of Ginny's chair. Noticing their somber mood he inquired as to what had happened since he had gone to sleep. Ginny looked up at him and he was upset to see that there were tears in her eyes.

"They've released the list of the ones who didn't make it thru the fight." with a shaky hand she handed him a sheet of paper with at least 50 names on it. Scanning through it he saw many names he didn't know or wasn't very familiar with but also several that he knew well. Dean Thomas was one name that stood out to him, As well as Penelope Clearwater, Percy's old girlfriend. Feeling the magnitude of what had transpired, Harry felt a heaviness in his heart. unable to say anything he silently handed the paper back to Ginny.

He cleared his throat and for lack of knowing where else to start, asked Luna "how did you get in here?" she replied in her singsong voice "Ginny let me in, and the Fat Lady didn't protest at all. She said any friend of Harry's is welcome. Of course, she was half snockered on a bottle of rum she'd found in a painting on the 5th floor."

"What have I missed?" he asked the group.

Neville responded "well, Shacklebolt didn't waste any time. Umbridge has been arrested on charges of the mistreatment of muggle borns, Death Eaters across the country are being rounded up before they have a chance to escape, and a mass funeral is being planned for everyone who died. They're going to be buried in a special section of the cemetary in Hogsmeade unless the families have somewhere else they'd prefer."

He looked down at Ginny and asked quietly "Fred?" She sniffled and said "Mum and Dad want him buried in the cemetary too, with everyone else he fought alongside of, but I believe they're also planning a memorial service of some sort with the Order for all of the members we lost, including DA members. "

"How is your family taking it?" he asked her, reaching for her hand. "Well, it seemed to take a while to sink in. Dad hasn't said a word since yesterday afternoon and Mum's been crying about as long. George is taking it the hardest though, I don't think he's ever gone this long without laughing or even cracking a smile. He just looks lost. " she leaned her head against his arm as Ron and Hermione walked over. Ron clapped him on the shoulder and said "All right there, Harry?"

Harry nodded at them and said "So what happens next?".

"Well, that's what we were just discussing" Hermione told him. "I'd like to go and see my parents, remove the memory charm and bring them home. Of course since that's halfway across the world, I have to go to the Ministry of Magic and get a passport and Visas and everything. That may take a while given the uproar at the Ministry right now, so I want to get the process started as soon as possible. I've travelled by airplane before so I won't have to worry about standing out but Ron might have a bit of a problem. I told him to just do what I do and don't say a word."

"You're going with her then?" Harry asked Ron. "Yeah, I thought it would give us a chance to, you know, talk and figure things out." Harry noticed that Ron's ears were red again but before anyone could say anything else an owl flew thru the window and landed on the table next to Harry with a letter addressed to him. He pulled it off the owl's foot and it hooted softly. Once again, Harry felt a pang of longing for his old owl, Hedwig. Pushing her from his mind he read the letter. It said:

Dear Harry,

Words cannot express the gratitude I, along with the whole of the wizarding world, feel toward you. We are forever indebted to you and your friends for the bravery and fortitude you have shown.

There are matters I need to discuss with you and information I need from you including a full account of the events leading up to Voldemort's downfall. I'd like to meet with you at your earliest convienence. Kindly send a response back with my owl and I shall meet you at my office at the Ministry.

Your Servant,

Kingsly Shacklebolt

interum Minister of Magic

Harry looked at his friends and said "Well, I guess I know what I'll be doing next." He jotted down a quick note and said that he would arrive by 3 pm and attatched it to the owl, who flew swiftly out the window.

"So, what exactly DID happen? I heard you tell Voldemort that there were no more, what did you call them, horcruxes? what was that all about?" Ginny inquired.

Before he could respond, Luna asked "So it's allright to use his name now?" Neville replied "No reason to be scared of him now, is there?" Shamus said "Here Here!" but Ginny was still waiting for Harry's response.

"You know, I've got the feeling I'm going to have to answer that question a lot. I'm surprised Rita Skeeter hasn't already written my autobiography."

"Funny you should say that Harry," Hermione said, "because this was in the paper this morning." she handed him a copy of the Daily Prophet that had his face in an 8x10 photograph on the front page. He noticed that the photo was one taken the year he was in the Triwizard tournament. Underneath in bold letters it read "What Transpired Between Harry and Voldemort" and under that in smaller letters was "exclusive article by Rita Skeeter". He scanned the article quickly and saw that not one item was factually correct, that she had suggested that horcruxes were weapons that could kill large amounts of muggles at once, and that Harry and Snape had been working together all year, with Harry taking polyjuice potion (made by Snape of course) and impersonating Snape to get into the Death Eater's secret meetings. With a burst of anger, Harry balled up the paper and threw it into the fire across the room where it shot sparks out of the fireplace.

"I'm tired of the Prophet and Rita's lies. When I meet with Shacklebolt this afternoon I'm going give him all the dirt I have on old Rita, including the fact that she's an unregistered animagus and that she uses unlawful magic on unsuspecting people to get the inside information for her lie-filled tirades. " Then a spot of inspiration hit him. "Luna, do you think now that everything is over that your father will resume production of the quibbler?" she replied dreamily "of course. Daddy's goal is to get the truth out to as many people as possible. I'm hoping to go on an expidition with him this summer to hunt for rubber-nosed quelpies."

Harry smiled at that and asked "in the meantime, do you think he'd like to publish another article for me? Our full account of what happened? I have to fill Shacklebolt in first, as well as the Order and DA members, but after that I think I'd like to insure that the TRUE story gets out, not a load of rubbish that someone makes up."

Luna smiled brightly and said "Of course! I think that is a wonderful idea. I had an owl from Daddy this morning and he's coming to fetch me from the Hogwarts Express this afternoon. I'll mention it to him then." Harry looked at Ron and Hermione and said "of course, that's if it is all OK with you. It is as much your story as it is mine. Hermione nodded enthusiastically, Ron nodded as well but looked a little troubled. Harry had a feeling that Ron was worried what everyone would think of him once they found out he had deserted his friends. Harry caught Ron's eye and gave him as encouraging of a look as he could. "I'd also like you two to go with me to see Kingsley if you wouldn't mind." he told them. Again, they nodded. With that settled, Neville suggested they head to the Great Hall for lunch and they departed the common room. Harry took one last look around, knowing that this might be the last time he saw it. Ginny took his hand and he recalled their first kiss, standing just a few feet from where they were now. He smiled and they stepped thru the doorway.

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