Chapter 2: Comfort and Care

Hand in hand, Harry and Ginny entered the Gryffindor common room. They stopped to look around. The ashes of a fire smoldered in the hearth and the room was empty and quiet. The wall hangings were badly damaged and broken glass, books, and debris cluttered the floor. Most of the tables and chairs were upright and some were set in close circles. Tracks of footprints in the dust and dirt marked the pathways between the tables, chairs, and entrance passage.

Ginny said, "Let's go down to the Great Hall."

They made their way through the narrow entrance passage and stepped into the corridor. The portrait that normally hid the entrance to Gryffindor tower was leaning against the wall and the fat lady was nowhere to be seen. They paused to look again at the destruction littering the area in every direction. Yet there was something very curious in what they saw. Some of the fallen stones and blocks were slowly levitating of their own accord back into position within the castle walls, floors, and ceilings.

Harry said, "Hogwarts seems to be mending itself."

"I remember Dad mentioning some of the special magic at Hogwarts but he never mentioned anything like this. It seems like the castle is alive."

They looked at each other thoughtfully. Then with difficulty, they picked their way through the rubble toward the Great Hall. Reaching a landing at the bottom of the staircase, they heard footsteps coming down the intersecting hall that led from the library. A moment later, Ron and Hermione came into view walking hand in hand.

Hermione beamed. Rushing forward, she hugged Harry tightly. "How do you feel Harry? We were so worried."

"Yeah mate, you gave us a bit of a scare," said Ron as he gave him a hug.

"Loads better. How are the two of you?"

Ron said, "Some aches and pains but otherwise good. Did you dream about Hogwarts?"

"Yeah, I did."

"We talked to Hannah, Terry, and Michael by the library," said Hermione. "It seems everyone had some sort of a dream about Hogwarts."

"From what we hear," said Ron, "Madam Pomfrey administered a potion to almost everyone still here. It activated some ancient magic in the castle that helps people recover from the battle."

"It's so amazing and extraordinary," said Hermione as she looked around at the walls. "There is nothing mentioned about this in Hogwarts, A History."

Hermione saw each of them looking at her with a small smile. She grinned and with an air of authority in her voice said, "Well ... there isn't." Ron put his arm around her waist as they all chuckled.

Seeing Ron's arm around Hermione, Harry recalled the scene of them kissing for the first time while the battle raged. He felt a bittersweet pang at the thought of their life together moving on separately from his own. Ages ago, he somehow knew that one day they would choose to be more than just friends. Now that it had finally happened, he was determined not to burden them with his troubles.

The expression on Harry's face became forlorn as he looked at them. "Ron, Hermione, if there's ever anything I can do to help the two of—"

"See, I was right," said Hermione cutting off Harry and turning to look at Ron. "He's our best friend, we've all saved each other's life at least fifty times, and he's thinking our friendship might be over now because you and I are together."

Ron nodded solemnly in agreement.

With a firm expression on his face Harry said, "I just don't want to be a hindrance to your relationship. It took ages for it to happen."

"That's an understatement," smiled Ginny.

In an authoritative voice, Hermione said, "We were both busy doing other things ... you know ... saving the world from dark wizards." Turning to Ron she said, "We have a bit more free time now."

Harry glanced at Ginny and she rolled her eyes.

"And Harry ..." She looked at him with a heartfelt expression and said in a sincere gentle voice, "Like it or not, you're stuck with Ron and me, for the rest of your life."

Harry smiled broadly.

Ron glanced at Hermione and then looked at Harry. "There is something you can do for me mate. I'm going to be very busy for a while, you know, helping rebuild and that sort of thing. Can you keep an eye on my little sister for me? You just need to keep the undesirable blokes away from her. Got to warn you though, she can have quite a temper when she gets riled up."

Ginny's eyes flashed fire at Ron. In a firm voice she said, "My temper only gets riled when my git of a brother tries to run my life."

Leaning toward Harry, Ron placed his hand by the side of his mouth. Faking a whisper he said, "See what I mean? I'm telling you, you'll come to think that horntail in fourth year was a piece of cake."

Ginny moved forward and punched Ron in the arm saying loudly, "Mind your manners. I'm not like that at all."

"Ow!" said Ron rubbing his arm. Harry, Ron, and Hermione began to laugh. After a moment, Ginny realized what they were laughing about and grinned sheepishly.

The laughter died away. Harry said, "No problem Ron, I can do that for you." Then he looked at both of them with an expression of sincerity and thankfulness. "Seriously now, the two of you are the best and truest friends in the world. Thanks for helping me get the job done." He embraced them.

Holding her two best friends tightly, Hermione said, "Oh Harry, we'd do it again in a heartbeat."

After a long moment, they broke apart with a lot of sniffing and wiping of eyes. Ginny moved close to Harry and he put his arm around her waist.

The sound of footsteps echoed in the hall and grew louder as someone approached. A blonde haired girl came into view, meandering down the hall and gazing at the walls and ceiling. Her face held an expression of deep wonder and delight. She wore two charms hanging from cords around her neck. Her face beamed when she saw them.

"Luna!" said Ginny as she eagerly moved forward and gave her a hug. "How are you feeling?"

"Hello everyone," said Luna in a high floating voice. "I'm feeling quite well, thank you. It must be all the bipaire mist in the air." Her eyes opened a little wider and she nodded her head knowingly. "It's very bio-regenerative." Then she tilted her head slightly. "That must be why I see your auras paired that way."

Ginny pointed to the charms around Luna's neck. "What are those?"

Luna looked down and carefully took hold of a charm. "This one is a stactionomer amulet." She looked up with an expression of deepest sincerity and candor. "It helps to casify the spirit and banish schwhentis."

Looking down again, she took hold of the second charm. "And this one is a coorini fron." She looked at them matter-of-factly. "It's a nessper that promotes healing and mental serenity."

There were blank stares for a moment and then Hermione said, "Umm ... Where are you headed Luna?"

Her expression became gentle and compassionate. "I'm going to the hospital wing. Padma was badly injured and it will be a few more days before she can leave. I want to give her these charms to wear. I'm sure they'll help in her healing and recovery."

They all stood in a stiff silence. Luna's protuberant silver grey eyes watched the four of them for a moment. Then she said, "Well, I must be on my way. Perhaps I'll see you all later." The dreamy expression returned to her face as Luna turned and continued walking toward the hospital wing.

As they watch Luna walk down the hall and out of sight, Ron said, "Luna's still a bit different, isn't she?"

"Yes, she certainly is," said Hermione with a bemused expression.

Ginny said, "This last year, before she was abducted, she helped Neville and me lead the resistance effort. Don't let her outward appearance or ways of saying things fool you. She is a very smart and resourceful witch."

"She's brilliant," said Harry. "I think we should follow her lead and make a visit to the hospital wing."

"That's a good idea Harry," said Hermione. "Let's go now."

Ginny nodded in agreement.

A little reluctantly, Ron also nodded. Ginny smiled as Harry offered her his arm and then escorted her toward the hospital wing. Ron and Hermione followed close behind with Hermione giggling each time she heard Ron's stomach growl.

They were not prepared for the sight that greeted them as they entered the hospital wing. It was shocking almost beyond belief. Beds were everywhere and there was scarcely room to walk between them. Each bed contained a very ill patient and many wore bandages and splints. There were witches, wizards, and magical creatures. At seeing them at the door, a few of the patients waved from their beds. But most of the faces held an expression of pain and grief. Healers busily shuttled among the patients administering to them. Some of the patients they recognized from school but many were unfamiliar. A few appeared to be unconscious or sleeping. Harry experienced renewed feelings of remorse and guilt. Glancing quickly at the others, he set off toward a row of beds accompanied by Ginny. Ron and Hermione did the same on the other side of the room.

As Harry and Ginny approached the first bed, its occupant looked up at them. Smiling weakly he said, "Pleased to see you again Mister Potter. You may not remember but I'm Ambrosius Flume, a shop owner in Hogsmeade."

"Honeydukes," said Ginny with a look of concern.

"How are you doing Mister Flume," asked Harry.

"I have some burns and a broken leg that's mending. In a few more days, I'll be good as new." Then, his eyes twinkled and he said, "Know what we did? ... The missus and me got together and made up a big batch of super-duper-extra-charged exploding bonbons." Ambrosius grinned. "They were fifty times more powerful. We shot the bonbons at the enemy as they moved up the High Street toward Hogwarts." He laughed. "You should have seen them scatter in confusion as the bonbons exploded all around them. We hit a few of them and they went down long enough for others to restrain them. Then someone fired a curse at us and it knocked out the floor. Broke my leg in the fall. The missus is okay but I'm afraid I won't be much help to her cleaning up the shop for business."

"I'm so sorry you were injured," said Harry. "Thank you for what you did. It helped give us the time we needed."

"It's me that's thanking you. This last year was so very bad for everyone in Hogsmeade, what with death eaters and snatchers lurking about. Thanks to you, things will be getting back to normal."

Ambrosius extend his hand. As Harry took hold, Ambrosius winked and said, "You and your pretty friend stop by the shop and we'll fix you up with some crystallized pineapple."

Harry and Ginny thanked him and then moved on to another patient.

Ron and Hermione glanced warily at each other as they approached a bed. They both knew this patient very well. One of her arms was in a sling and there were large bruises on her face and hands. The squint of her closed eyes and the furrowing of her forehead clearly revealed discomfort. Hermione quietly seated herself in a chair by the bed and Ron stood beside her.

"Lavender, how are you feeling?" said Hermione in a gentle voice.

Lavender spoke in a weak and raspy voice, "Is that you Hermione?"

Hermione put her hand into Lavenders hand. "Yes, and Ron is here too."

Lavender squeezed Hermione's hand. She partially opened her eyes and in a weak voice said, "I've felt better. ... The healers say I'll make a full recovery in time. ... They're moving me to St Mungo's tomorrow."

"That was a terrible fall. We feel so sorry for you," said Hermione.

With an unfocused gaze, Lavender said in a quiet voice, "Parvati told me about Alice. ... She was special. ... We had such fun times together."

"Yes we did," said Hermione as a tear fell from her eye. "She will be missed very much."

"Lavender," said Hermione in a contrite voice, "I've wanted to tell you how ashamed I've felt about the way I treated you the year before last. I'm so sorry. I sincerely hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

"I do Hermione. Please forgive the unkind behaviors I did to you. ... But more importantly, I want to thank you. ... Parvati said you stopped him from biting me. I will always be grateful to you for saving me from that kind of life."

Madam Pomfrey walked up to the other side of the bed. She was carrying the small crystal bottle of red liquid. "Lavender, I need to give you a few drops of potion. It will help you sleep."

Lavender nodded. Madam Pomfrey tipped a few drops of potion into Lavenders mouth and then hurried away.

Lavender said, "Ron, you take good care of Hermione. She's a very special witch."

Ron put his hand on top of their joined hands, "You're very special too Lavender. I hope you get well very soon."

She nodded weakly and then closed her eyes. The grip of her hand relaxed and the furrow in her brow softened as she began to sleep. Hermione quietly stood and they moved toward another patient.

Harry and Ginny moved from bed to bed talking to each patient and listening to those who wanted to tell them their story. Some patients were in very serious condition. Nevertheless, they wanted Harry to know how proud they were to have helped defend Hogwarts and to thank him for defeating you-know-who. Harry and Ginny bent low over some of the patients who could barely speak above a whisper. The unspoken courage, sacrifice, and pride they heard in each story resonated deeply and spoke of a shared vision for the future.

Ron and Hermione came to a bed that contained an old and very cross-looking house elf. He wore a hospital gown and sat on the bed with his legs crossed and his arms folded across his chest.

"Hello," said Hermione tentatively. "How are you?"

The elf looked at her and muttered, "My injuries are not so great that I should be wasting my time in a bed. There is much cleaning of the castle to be done."

"Perhaps we can help. I'm Hermione and this is Ron. What's your name?"

"I am called Nesbit. I am the fourth generation of my family to serve Hogwarts."

"Tell us what happened to you in the battle," said Ron.

Nesbit looked at them for a moment. Then, his stoic expression softened and his eyes brightened. He began telling them about what he and other elves had done in the battle. Then he told them about how his Great Grandfather had come to the castle and the battles his family had fought for Hogwarts. He talked non-stop for five minutes. Hermione was inwardly delighted to be talking with him. Both Ron and Hermione asked him questions and were careful to respect his viewpoint of the proper place for an elf in the wizarding world. When Ron and Hermione finally had to move on, Nesbit seemed a little sad to see them go.

Harry and Ginny approached a bed containing a teenage girl. An older witch sat in a chair by the bed. The young girl beamed as she saw them approach.

"I'm so happy to see you. Mum, this is Ginny. She found me in the courtyard when the battle stopped and brought me here."

"Marzie Hockins," said the witch in a scolding tone. "You should not have been in the battle at all. You won't be of age for another eight months."

Ginny quickly glanced sideways at Harry. He was looking at her with pressed lips and a stern expression. She gently poked him in the side with her elbow. Marzie's mother failed to stifle her smile.

Ginny said, "I'm glad to see you're safe. How bad are you injuries?"

"My arm was dislocated and badly fractured. Madam Pomfrey is healing it." Marzie pointed to the bedside table holding a bottle of greenish-yellow liquid. "I have to drink that beastly stuff every hour. She also said ..."

Harry's attention shifted to a distant corner of the room. One of the healers was motioning for Harry to come to her. Unsure, he pointed at himself and the healer quickly nodded. Excusing himself, Harry weaved his way through the maze of beds to where the healer stood.

"I'm sorry to impose on you like this," said the healer tentatively. "But this wizard is gravely injured and wants to speak with you. He is dying."

Ginny continued talking with Marzie and her mother. As they talked, Ginny discretely glanced a few times at Harry as he crossed the room. As the healer talked to Harry, Ginny felt a brief chill wash over her. She saw Harry nod to the healer and then slip behind a screen.

"... And Ginny," said Marzie, "I want to join the D.A. I've heard people talking about it in the Hufflepuff common room."

"The D.A. will be pleased that you want to join," said Ginny. "There are evening meetings where—"

Ginny caught her breath as a feeling of helplessness and grief washed over her. Alarmed, she looked toward the screen across the room but did not see Harry.

"Marzie, I'm very sorry but I have to go to Harry. I'll see you again soon. In the meantime, you get well, okay?"

Marzie nodded with a concerned look on her face. Ginny turned and weaved her way toward the corner of the room. She cautiously stepped around the barrier. Harry sat on the edge of the bed with his hand tightly clasping the hand of a wizard lying there. The wizard's eyes were closed and Harry looked at him with a grave mournful expression.

"You git!" thought Harry silently in his mind. "Harry Potter, you could have prevented this!" Feelings of anger and rage bubbled up inside him like a kettle put on the boil. His inner vision focused sharply and pointed an accusing finger at himself. "Why did this wizard and so many others like him have to die?" he silently scolded himself. "Why didn't you do a better job of working it out? Dumbledore trusted you!"

Ginny moved silently beside Harry and put her hand on his shoulder.

At Ginny's touch, attention shifted outside his spiral of rage. He realized the white knuckles of his hand tightly gripping the hand of the dead wizard. He took a deep breath and the anger began to ebb away. Relaxing his grip, he gently laid the wizard's hand on the chest of the lifeless body.

After a few moments, Harry said in a quiet voice, "He was Auror Martin. He said he admired my courage and strength of character. That he was proud to have played a part in the battle and ... was at peace knowing the great evil was destroyed. Then, he just closed his eyes and ... passed away."

They both looked at Auror Martin in silence. After a long moment, Madam Pomfrey appeared and gently said, "Thank you for spending the last moments of this life with him. I'm sure it gave him great comfort."

Harry nodded and stood up as Madam Pomfrey drew the covers over the Auror's head. Then she led them a short distance away.

Harry said in a concerned voice, "Madam Pomfrey, what will happen to the others who are here?"

"Auror Martin was the last who was at the point of death. Those who are gravely injured will be moved to St. Mungo's. With time, I expect they will make a good recovery. Those who remain here will make a full recovery and we expect to discharge them over the next week or so."

"Madam Pomfrey," said Harry, "thanks for tending to us last night. You are absolutely the most brilliant and skilled healer. All the times you've treated our injuries and patched us up. We truly appreciate what you've done, and what you are doing, for everyone in this room."

Madam Pomfrey blushed slightly. "Thank you for your kind words. It is mostly Hogwarts itself healing all of us. The bodies of those who are here will heal in a short time. What takes much longer is convincing ourselves that we've done the best that we could and accept our own limitations." Glancing back at the bed she said, "I find that especially difficult when I lose a patient like Auror Martin."

Looking at Harry and Ginny she said, "There is one other prescription I wish to give to you and your friends." Her expression changed to one of kindness and gentleness. "The eyes of the patients who are here show a certain honor, pride, and gratitude for having fought with you in this battle. Keep this in mind during the upcoming months as you complete your mental and spiritual healing."

Madam Pomfrey turned and hurried away. Harry and Ginny looked at each other for a moment and then slowly made their way toward the door of the hospital wing. Along the way, they passed the bed where Luna was visiting with Padma. Parvati and Neville were also there. Padma was wearing the charms that Luna had brought and seemed to be feeling better. Seeing Padma and Parvati made Ginny think of George. He especially, would have a very hard time adjusting to a life without Fred in it.

Harry noticed Ron and Hermione also making their way toward the door. As the four of them reached the door, it opened and McGonagall stepped into view.

"Good afternoon to each of you," said McGonagall. "It was very kind and generous of you to spend your afternoon here. It means a great deal to those who are injured."

Looking at Ron and Ginny, McGonagall said, "Your family was here earlier this afternoon. When your parents saw what you were doing, they thought it best not to interrupt. They accompanied the body of your brother to the reposing room. They would like the four of you to return to the Burrow when you are finished here. I have arranged a special floo connection that you may all use."

Harry looked at Ron and Hermione and then touched his mokeskin pouch. There was an ever-so-slight nod from each of them. Then he said, "Professor, there is one last thing I need to do before leaving Hogwarts today and I will need your help. It will involve all of us and Luna and Neville also. Is there a private place where we can all talk?"

"Yes, of course," said McGonagall.

"I'll fetch Luna and Neville," said Ginny. "It looks as though they are about to leave."

A moment later, Ginny returned accompanied by Luna and Neville. They all followed McGonagall as she led them to a staff meeting room that, remarkably, was mostly undamaged. After they had all entered, the door closed and the lock clicked. McGonagall waved her wand saying, "Muffliato!" and then looked at Harry.

Harry said, "We are all trusted friends and what I am about to say must be kept in the strictest of confidence between only the seven of us."

After everyone nodded their acknowledgement he said, "As you heard in the Great Hall yesterday, Voldemort broke into the grave of Albus Dumbledore and took the wand entombed with his body. When Voldemort attempted to use that wand against me, I recovered it. Now, I want to return the wand and seal the tomb in a way that no one can desecrate."

McGonagall looked at Harry for a moment and saw a great care for Albus in his eyes. The boy she once knew was now very much a man. With an expression of pride, McGonagall said, "The tomb can be sealed much more securely given the number of us who are present. Do any of you have experience using the sealing spell?"

They all shook their heads. McGonagall looked at them confidently. "Well then, it's time for a lesson. Wands at the ready please."

For the next ten minutes, they practiced. McGonagall finally said in a satisfied tone, "That will do nicely," as she examined the small wooden box they had been practicing on. The box was now impervious to magic and could not be opened or destroyed by any of them.

"Professor," said Hermione, "is there any way to break this spell?"

"Yes but only by a majority of those who originally cast it."

"Professor," said Neville, "Are the grounds at the gravesite secure?"

"Auror's have swept the area several times but the castle security perimeter is not yet in force. We must be vigilant."

Ron said, "We should travel in small groups using disillusionment charms."

"A wise precaution," said McGonagall. "I will go first to ensure the way is clear."

As McGonagall walked toward the door, she waved her wand. The lock clicked and the door swung open in reply. Then, she twirled her wand around her and vanished from sight.

"Use caution," said the voice of McGonagall. "The grounds are still littered with all manner of destruction." The door then seemingly closed by itself.

Ron turned to Hermione and with a slight bow, offered her his hand. Smiling, she took his hand and they began walking toward the door. Hermione swept her wand in a circle and they vanished from sight. The door opened and closed again.

Neville looked at Luna and held out his hand toward her. "May I accompany you?"

Luna took hold his hand. "Yes, that will be most pleasant." Luna circled her wand and they vanished from sight. A short moment later, they left the room.

Harry extended his hand. Ginny took hold of it with a smile. Waving his wand, there was a momentary distortion of the surroundings in the room. As Harry and Ginny walked toward the gravesite, they perceived no difference looking out from within the disillusionment charm bubble. It moved along with them and only a slight distortion resulted where the bubble touched the ground around them. The castle and grounds were deserted and they did not see or meet anyone along the way.

As they neared the gravesite, they passed through a security ward. Their disillusionment dissolved and they saw the others standing around the tomb. The large stone dome that had once covered the tomb lay split in two, a piece on each side of the crypt. Harry and Ginny took up their places in the circle.

McGonagall said, "Mister Longbottom, Miss Lovegood and Miss Weasley, the stone coffin is quite heavy. Please assist me using the hover charm." As they pointed their wands at the coffin she said, "On the count of three. One ... two ... three."

The coffin rose up and floated level with the top of the crypt. "Mister Weasley and Miss Granger, please raise the coffin lid so that Mister Potter can replace the wand."

Harry stepped forward as the coffin lid rose up. Reaching into his mokeskin pouch, he withdrew the elder wand and quickly replaced it. Then stepping back, Ron and Hermione lowered the coffin lid back into place. The coffin then descended back into the crypt.

After a moment to catch their breath, they levitated the two stone pieces back into place on top of the crypt. Then, with seven wands pointed at the stone pieces, they said together, "Reparo!" There was a rumble and the stone top became one piece again.

McGonagall pointed her wand at the tomb and looked around at them. "As we practiced earlier ... everyone ready?"

They all nodded and pointed their wands at the tomb with expressions of firm resolve. McGonagall said, "Focus clearly on the tomb. ... One ... two ... three."

"Sigillaretur!" they all said together. A silvery golden glow formed and surrounded the tomb. Then it flashed with a loud CRACK and dissolved into the stone of the tomb. Wisps of bluish smoke swirled and then floated away on the breeze.

McGonagall circled once around the tomb passing her wand over it. Then she nodded approvingly. "It is sealed. Top marks for each of you."

They all grinned back at her.

McGonagall said, "We should promptly return to the entrance hall."

After meeting back up in the entrance hall Harry said, "Thanks everyone. Your help means more than you can imagine."

McGonagall said, "A quick word to each of you. Please seriously consider completing your lessons here this fall. Due to the extenuating circumstances of this past year, special arrangements will be available. Select students, which includes each of you, will be offered flexible makeup lessons owning to your extraordinary service to Hogwarts."

Hermione beamed. "That's wonderful professor."

"I will send further details by owl later this summer." Turning to Neville she said, "Mister Longbottom, do you need floo travel to your home?"

"No, I'll be staying here for a while to help professor Sprout."

"Miss Lovegood?"

Luna said in a dreamy voice, "I'll be staying also. Daddy is still mending our home and I want to spend some more time in the hospital wing."

McGonagall nodded approvingly. Then turning to the others she said, "Will you please follow me so that I may keep my word to Arthur and Molly."

They all said goodbye to Neville and Luna. McGonagall led them to a staff meeting room with a large fireplace. After thanking McGonagall and saying goodbye, Ron and Hermione joined hands and stepped forward. Throwing floo powder ahead of them, they said, "The Burrow!" and vanished in a flash of green light. A moment later, Harry and Ginny did the same.

This is an original fan fiction story based on the seven book series 'Harry Potter' written by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter, the characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros., Inc. Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K.R. This is an unofficial, not for profit site and is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros., Inc. This site is not endorsed by any of these aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. This fan fiction story is owned by the author and subject to copyright law under transformative use.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Don Buczynski
San Diego, California
Published: 8/30/14
Last Updated: 9/13/17